Xero Gravity: Lessons from the university of life

Creativity has no boundaries, but is your artistic mind feeling a little boxed in? Kelley Cheng knows how to break out.

Meet Kelley, founder and creative director of The Press Room, a publishing and design consultancy agency. Spunky and unapologetic, Kelley is all about going against the grain – starting her company without prior business experience and minimal support.

Kelley joins us this week on Xero Gravity to chat about her artistic journey. From her parents pushing her to become a doctor – and rebelling at all costs – to enrolling in architecture school, starting the very first design magazine in Singapore, and founding The Press Room.

Kelley is the first to admit she’s made some mistakes growing up. Impulsive and hard-headed, she went to the ‘university of life’ – learning by doing, falling down, and trying again.

“When I started out, I was absolutely capable of doing anything without thinking about the consequences. Thinking back, that was one of my strengths because everything was against me. So if I over-thought those things, I wouldn’t have done it,” says Kelley.


In fact, Kelley received a lot of criticism for wanting to pursue a creative career. Her parents wanted her to become a doctor or lawyer, but her artistic spirit had other plans.

“In this world, if you want anything you need fight for it yourself. You have to speak up because if you are going to sulk and complain and be bitter about it, nothing is ever going to happen,” says Kelley.

Today, it’s important for Kelley to use her experiences and mistakes to mentor the next generation of young creatives. Her approach? Unconditional support, and a little tough love – painting a realistic picture of what a creative career entails.

“If you don’t have passion, don’t even do this, because it’s going to be very hard. The main driver that keeps me going after twenty years is that every time I come up with something beautiful, it still excites me. If you have no passion, there will be so many occasions in your career that you will just give up,” says Kelley.

Tune into Xero Gravity episode #71 to hear more from Kelley – including her thoughts on taking unpaid jobs early on in your career, dealing with the ever-expanding project and a story about taking a stand against the Singaporean government with a viral Facebook post.

Small Business Resources:

If you enjoyed this episode, join us again next week when we sit down with Tom Fishburne, founder and CEO of Marketoonist. Tom turned his love for cartooning into a marketing and communication tool and stops by to share how he monetized his passion. Be sure to check out all of our previous episodes for more small business tips, resources and insights.

You can subscribe to Xero Gravity on iTunes and SoundCloud.

What would you like to hear?

Got a topic you’d like to hear discussed? Or a business expert you admire and would like to hear from? Let us know in the comments below!



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