Huang Ming-chang, the director of "Ordinary Production" creative studio, has many years of experience in content production after graduating from the law department of National Taiwan University, and has also served as a curator of "Taiwan Design Exhibition". What is the reason for him to keep breaking the box in his career?
A pair of round-framed glasses, a blue coat, and a calm and idyllic literary man in front of him is Huang Mingzhang, the manager of the creative studio "Ordinary Production" and a freelance writer.
Born in Chiayi, a city that was just slow, after graduating from the Financial Law Group of the Law Department of National Taiwan University, Ming Chang did not follow the established career template of "legal person", but turned to the cultural industry;
He has served as the editor-in-chief of The Big Issue Taiwan magazine and the cultural media "VERSE" magazine, and also curated two of the two pavilions of the "Taiwan Design Exhibition" in Chiayi for the first time in 2021, gradually emerging in Taiwan's cultural circle with its unique writing and planning strength.
What kind of opportunity and motivation made him brave to break through the social framework, step into the cultural industry from the legal circle, and continue to cultivate in the field he loves?
From office worker, freelancer to entrepreneur, how does he move between different career roles?
Photo | Courtesy of Huang Mingchang, Photo by Ms. Kuishinbou
Before breaking the box, listen to your inner voice
When hearing Ming Chang's career story for the first time, many people would think that he was an adventurous youth, but Ming Chang himself had a completely different idea.
"I don't define myself as an adventurous person, on the contrary, I think very carefully before making any big decisions. It's just that after being in my comfort zone for a long time, especially when I realize that I'm standing still, I feel extremely anxious, so I'm willing to try something different."
After a smooth study, and even being admitted to the first choice of the Chinese group, Ming Chang in college did not become complacent because of this, but often asked himself, what exactly do you want?
"Before making any seemingly breakthrough decision, we actually have to go back, understand ourselves more deeply, and find out the motivation and original intention of what we want to do."
Photo | courtesy of Huang Mingzhang; Represented The Big Issue Taiwan in Japan
During his tenure as the Minister of Information of the NTU Student Union during his university years, Ming Chang came into contact with print magazines, online media and other forms of communication, and conveyed messages through different methods such as writing, design, and photography.
The process of integrating pictures and texts deeply attracted him, so in his senior year, even if the classmates next to him were engaged in national examinations and internships in law-related institutions, he still chose the media industry without hesitation and became an intern at "The Big Issue Taiwan".
"It wasn't so much that I was 'breaking the box' to become a magazine editor, but that I finally saw what I really liked, what profession and work style attracted me, and how I wanted to interact with the world."
When he said these words, Ming Chang's expression was extremely serious, and his words also revealed the comfort that came from his heart after finding his goal.
From the Magazine Editor to The Entrepreneur's True Voice
From intern to editor-in-chief in The Big Issue Taiwan, and then as executive editor at VERSE, he participated in the rise of media brands from scratch, which allowed Ming Chang to accumulate profound strength and become an important nutrient for him to establish the studio.
At the beginning of his full-time job, Ming Chang entered the work style of "one-person studio", and because he had experience in taking cases freely in the past, he quickly adjusted his pace and lived a self-disciplined and free life.
However, taking on a case is like starting a business with an individual brand, Ming Chang admits that he has actually put a lot of effort, such as in the planning of the case type and the selection of the goal of the case, where to go in the long run, and how to consciously develop the business and receive the case that I want to do, whether in terms of thinking or decision-making, it is very different from simply working as an editor in a magazine in the past.
Images | Ordinary Productions provided; 2021 Taiwan Design Exhibition "Just the Right City: Ideal Life in Imagination"
In 2021, Ming Chang once again stepped out of his comfort zone and served as the zonal curator of Chiayi's "Taiwan Design Exhibition", returning to his hometown to curate his first exhibition, and the studio also joined new partners.
From solo to teamwork, as the scale becomes larger and more people cooperate, the dimension to think is larger and the orientation is more different, and the identity of "entrepreneur" also gives him new breakthroughs and learning.
"Entrepreneurship is completely different from office workers, we are always working! First, it is difficult to break our thoughts, and second, we are engaged in industries related to life style, and the things we come into contact with in life have always been related to work, which is difficult to cut."
"But luckily, I love my job, I love being creative, and if I can create a lot of fun content all the time, that's great for me."
Looking at Ming Chang's joyful smile, presumably the bits and pieces of the road to growth have already brought infinite happiness and satisfaction.
Images | Ordinary Productions provided; "+1+1+1 = Chiayi style" local writing lectures
Take the initiative back and do what you love
For many freelancers, how to balance "realistic food and clothing" and "self-realization" when choosing a job is a common dilemma, some cases pay well but are boring, some cases are very liked, but the money is very small, we curiously asked Mingzhang, how did he face this situation all this time?
"Since we choose to start a business or take on cases, we must try to take on cases that we are interested in. I don't take a case to make money, and even if I get an ordinary case, I will make it my favorite case." A simple sentence leads us out of the zero-sum game-like selection framework.
Ming Chang further explained that in the early days of taking on cases, like many freelancers, he was easily annoyed by "dropping cases", but now he pays attention to the limited time and knows how to focus on the cases he likes.
He then shared that in the proposal stage, he always thinks more about "how to make the case better" and "which direction will be more interesting", and advises the client with his own professionalism and guides the case in a direction beneficial to both parties; If the other person calls for a discussion space, he will consider politely refusing.
Images | Ordinary Productions provided; Chiayi Lifestyle Magazine "+1+1+1"
"'Accepting' a case sounds passive, but in fact it is a process of throwing and connecting, throwing out your ideas. By taking the initiative back from the throw, we will not only have the relationship between the owner and the receiver, but also have the opportunity to create value for others and generate ideas that can touch people's hearts."
"Of course, we all have to give ourselves the confidence and spare space to choose, which is also based on whether there are sufficient and stable sources of cases, or whether the psychological quality is strong enough." But once you're prepared and financially organized, you don't have to force yourself to do something you don't like."
In just five minutes of dialogue, Ming Chang showed his wisdom and philosophy as a senior worker.
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Two nobles in their careers, forming the confidence to soar
Looking back on his work experience over the years, in addition to thanking his family for always supporting him, Ming Chang has two important people who have had the most influence on him in his career, namely Li Zhizhong, founder of "The Big Issue Taiwan", and Zhang Tiezhi, founder of "VERSE".
When he first entered the cultural circle, it was Li Zhizhong who gave this unknown and inexperienced fresh person the opportunity to try.
Ming Chang's "Brother Takezhong" is a dreamer full of ideals and ambitions, showing him what "humane design" is, teaching him how to not preset a framework on the road to his dreams, and letting him know that in front of the ideal blueprint, as long as he is willing to believe, there will be an invisible force to help him to complete.
Photo | courtesy of Huang Mingzhang; Ming Chang serves as the executive editor of VERSE magazine
Zhang Tiezhi, known as "Brother Tie", is an entrepreneur who understands the pulse of the times.
Under his cultivation, Mingzhang began to think from a broader business perspective, including how to propose with customers, how to set what he wants to do with more goals, and even introduce brand concepts into the media business.
"From Brother Tie, I found that setting issues is also an ability, such as how to find topics and emotions that are common to the times, which has taught me a lot!"
One gave him the courage to dream boldly and try, and the other taught him the methods and thinking to realize his dreams, so that Mingzhang could embrace the unknown and be willing to explore in the process of soaring to the sky, and would not lose his way even if he encountered fog.
There must be many failures in life, but there is no failure in life
In the post-epidemic era, with the drastic changes in life and work patterns, how to maintain one's heart in this rapidly changing era has become an important topic that everyone must learn.
As a worker who has been wallowing in the cultural and media circles for many years, Ming Chang especially recommends a good book "Letters to Young Journalists", and is also a spiritual mentor who accompanies him through his confused moments.
The book was written by veteran journalist and professor Samuel. Friedman's writing, which covers the advice of young people who are passionate about journalism, and the important principles that must be grasped when working in the profession, is still a masterpiece that has inspired countless media professionals even after many years of publication.
Photo | Courtesy of Huang Mingchang, Photo by Ms. Kuishinbou
In addition to good books, Ming Chang also shared the Japanese drama "Soybean Field Nagako and Three Ex-Husbands" that accompanied him during the epidemic in 2022 , which seems to be a very daily drama, but as the protagonist looks back on the first half of his life, it also opens Ming Chang's different thinking about life.
"How do you look at the past now?" Do you make the same decision as your past self? This is a very warm play, telling me what I want to do quickly, and it also gives me a lot of encouragement."
"Many frameworks are given to you by society, and even if you have been divorced three times like Nagako Soybean, you are still unique and have unlimited possibilities."
As said in the play, there must be many failures in life, but there is no failed life, no matter what choice he makes, Mingzhang always moves forward bravely on the road of love.
From law to culture and media, from office worker to free entrepreneurship, the driving force behind his continuous "breaking the box" lies in listening to his inner voice and finding the desire to find life, and he proves to the world with his actions that when a person knows himself enough, he does not need to be limited by external frameworks.