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Interview: Gary Fong, Author of The Accidental Millionaire: How to Succeed in Life without REALLY Trying

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A  world-renowned photographer, inventor and entrepreneur who has made multiple fortunes in business and real estate, Gary Fong began his photography career at a very young age, becoming one of the world’s most successful wedding photographers.  Mr. Fong went on to make millions by revolutionizing an industry traditionally reserved for small businessmen.  He “stumbled” upon serial successes in photo printing, software, real estate and camera accessories using his unconventional style to make decisions based on his own quirky impulses.  In addition to photographing such well-known celebrities as Ronald Regan, Sylvester Stallone and Paul McCartney, Mr. Fong invented and marketed the Lightsphere, and co-founded Pictage, which became the largest dedicated online digital/web solution in the United States and sold for $29 million.

The Accidental Millionaire: How to Succeed in Life Without REALLY Trying is Gary Fong's newest release.  Be sure to check it out, as well as his website:  The Accidental Millionaire!

Please tell us a bit about your book.

This book is a my unlikely path from childhood poverty to a self-made fortune. I’m the child of Asian immigrants who barely made it into the U.S. Their dream was to have a son become a doctor, and with that went my free-will. My life became all about achieving one goal after another. Then at a certain point, I can’t handle it anymore and completely give up, ditch society. That’s when the miracles started to happen.

If you could meet, in person, any of your characters, who would it be and why?

My mentor, “Rocky Gunn”. He died early in the book just as things started happening for me. He was the guy with the yoga-like simple sayings like, “nobody needs another salesman knocking on their door but everybody could use a new friend".

If you could fictionalize yourself and put yourself in any situation, how would it play out? Could you give us a scene/scenario of such an occurrence?

Have a newspaper one day in advance. Just tomorrow’s edition, today. I would then plan the whole day out by the minute. Go to the race track. Bet $5 on the long-shot winning horse, and then parlay that for nine races. Take the quarter million and walk over to the Lotto, and buy the winning ticket, short all of the stocks that went down, etc. Should clear a billion in one day. It would be funny. Oh then I’d be a riot around my friends around news time. “Gee, I wonder if he’s going to strike out?” “I have a feeling that the oil spill is going to get capped tonight at 4:38pm EST”… things like that.

Do you have any particular habits that you do while writing? Places you write the best, foods, drinks, etc that help set you’re "writing mood"?

The way that I write is pretty high-tech. I use dictation software. It works really great now, where I can just talk into my headset and it types what I say. I plug it into my laptop and away I go. The best place for me to hide away is my sauna. I can close the big wooden door and nobody can hear what I’m saying. I practice violin in there too.

What are you reading right now?

The Great Depression – A Diary. It’s like reading today’s news, and that is pretty creepy.

Who are some of your favorite authors and/or books?

Jeanette Walls with The Glass Castle. Read it a few times, made a dozen of my friends read it. That’s what got me inspired to write. I remember thinking; I want this to be good enough for people to beg their friends to read it. And it’s working!

If you could meet any author, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Alan Greenspan, Former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. I’d want to ask him what he thinks now. I’d say George Carlin, because I love his books, but in my experience comedians are very edgy and nervous, and aren’t that fun to hang out with in person.

Okay, here are a few "get to know you better" questions:

Please share with us a favorite memory.

The first time I saw my wife. She was a student in one of my photography workshops and she was with her best friend. Her best friend hung on every word I said, whereas Melissa (my wife) seemed so bored. That, by the way, is how to really attract a man. Treat him like he’s boring. It drives us crazy!

Please describe a perfect meal – including menu and those present.

Grilling at the ranch with our best friends. We have a big table and the grill is right outside, and our friend Jesse grills the perfect steak, and corn on the cob.

What are some of your favorite ways to relax?

Facebook. That’s a great way to relax. It’s like having a little community clubhouse where people pop in and out and you see photos, videos or updates of what they’re saying. You also don’t have to put on anything nice to visit with them.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

Kelowna, British Columbia. It is very similar to Lake Tahoe; it has an 88-mile long lake surrounded by vineyards and a world-class ski resort right up the hill. The people here are so friendly and neighborly. We have a population of about 120,000 and the front page of the local newspaper would have a car accident or details of the latest blood drive. It’s heaven here.

If you could only read books by one author, who would it be? *I know, this is an inconceivable thought, lol

I have to have variety. So the answer would be: “none of the above”.

Share with us a few of your dreams. Also whether they have been fulfilled or are still a work in progress.

I never really wanted to have a family until I met my wife. I’m going to be an emotional wreck if we are lucky enough to have kids, because I well up with tears whenever we walk into a Baby Gap store. It’s not going to be pretty. I love kids.

What are some of your guilty pleasures?

The only thing I’m really picky about is hotels. With as much as I travel, I need a great hotel because I’m not home. And with lots of frequent flier miles, I tend to fly free so I can find a nice hotel. And cars, I have a lot of cars.

If you could leave the world with one piece of advice, what would it be?

The message most evident in my book, The Accidental Millionaire is that it was when I gave up “hope”, I felt much better. This wisdom was imparted to me by way of a bumper sticker on a car I almost rear-ended because I was so frustrated that I wasn’t meeting my goals. The first half of the book is comedic, because I’m constantly trying to achieve my goals and expectations and failing. I then give up in about the middle of the book, and everything becomes an amazing path to success.

Anything I had ever planned, I failed at. And my remarkable victories in the business world were never planned. So the advice would be, “drop your expectations”.

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