West Point 100: Creators
KIM JUNG USMA ‘08
Welcome to the “West Point 100: Creators” project. This effort is both a creative project and an insightful ethnography - curating a collection of 100 West Point creators.
This endeavor will ask the basic question: What do West Pointers create? And why?
In this Q&A we will explore with West Point creators the topic of creativity and the impact West Point had on their ability to think critically about the world around them and their place within the construct of the American Dream.
One of the defining moments in Kim Jung’s (’08) unending life adventure began with a departure. In her decision to go to West Point, a rebellion of sorts, Kim made a major departure from the career path her family expected of her. Now, with combat missions, Harvard Business School, a Shark Tank deal and a successful, impactful company under her belt, Kim continues to depart from expectations and relentlessly challenge herself at every corner, an exemplar in living life to its fullest. In this interview with the CADET team, Kim shares the details of her effective rituals, creative processes and West Point high points, from baby blankets and brain storming to David Bowie and The Last Unicorn.
PART I - THE BASICS
In the simplest of terms, what do you create?
What do you think about when you’re alone in your car?
I brainstorm. I figure out small stuff in the car, how to do the things that need to get done.
If you could only keep five things, what would they be?
1. My brain
2. My athleticism
3. My ability to work my ass off
4. My resilience
5. My tendency to dream big
If you could witness any event of the past, present, or future, what would it be?
When humankind conquers the cosmos.
On my deathbed, I will wish that I had spent more TIME on:
So far, I don’t regret the way I’ve spent my time.
On my deathbed, I will wish I had spent more MONEY on:
My mother and father, who never seem to want to spend money on themselves.
What’s one thing you own that you should throw out but probably never will?
My baby blanket.
Let’s talk influences - Give us one musician, one book, one TV show, one movie, and one podcast that impacts your creative mindset.
1. Musician : David Bowie: “”Ch ch ch ch changes....face the strain...Turn and face the strange...””
2. Book: John Steinbeck’s East of Eden: “And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” also, “But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—‘Thou mayest’— that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest’—it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.”
3. Blog: Slate Star Codex: Makes me see the world differently, to analyze human interactions and see them in context of creating the complex, magnificent, destructive, maelstrom that is humanity
4. Movies: The Last Unicorn and Labyrinth. They are rather similar, and I mention them because as a child I immersed myself in the world of fantasy and science fiction, not because I wanted to be there, but because I was actually there.
5. Podcast: Planet Money - because it gives amazing insights into seemingly boring or every-day phenomena around us.
What do you collect, and why?
I don’t collect anything, not anymore. I don’t want to own anything else - it weighs a person down.
PART II - THE CREATIVE PROCESS
What ritual or habit is especially important to you?
I love to work out. I like nature, and specifically to get up early around dawn, force yourself into Portland-like fog and shiver and run your way into leaping through forest trails. Your body becomes this self-beacon of heat and power moving through the woods, and you end up loving the rain because it just sizzles off your body.
What is the best investment (money, time, relationship, education, etc) you made in getting to where you are today?
Education and good habits of practice, learning, hard work, and forcing yourself to love doing things that are good for you and take you out of your comfort zone.
What tool or object could you not live without in your workday?
Sleep and being disconnected, i.e. on a plane with no internet or phone, looking out the window, bored. That’s when I dream and have the craziest ideas.
What are you not?
Satisfied. Passive aggressive. Bored. Resentful.
What do you do to get into a state of flow or your creative zone?
Dance a little, put on some Smashing Pumpkins, go outside and sprint.
What is the biggest roadblock in your creative process?
Getting errands done, which for some reason I like to do (to get little things done)
Name one company or person you’re itching to work with.
PART III - WEST POINT
Talk about a West Point connection that was meaningful or unexpected.
My roommate, Isis Achanzar, was the first female cadet from the Philippines Military Academy, and we did everything together - studied, worked out, went to the sauna. She came home with me for Christmas, invited me with her to her sponsor’s house, and fed me all sorts of Filipino snacks.
What aspect of your time at the academy affects your currents endeavors as a creator?
Sloughing through pain and discomfort only to find treasure and steel underneath.
What question(s) or favor would you ask of the greater West Point community?
Keep the mission strong, our ethics and thoughtfulness high, and aim to always be the top.
In 6 words, describe being a cadet.
In 6 words, describe being an Old Grad.
ABOUT THE WEST POINT 100
This project is intended as a survey of the West Point community, done through the lens of creativity. Through this process we hope to discover how each creator embodies leadership lessons learned at the Academy, and how each are shaping culture and driving industry across town, region, country and globe.
You may recognize some names and faces, while others may be new to you. What’s common among them is that they are all leaders, innovators, and trendsetters; they are pathfinders and creatives; they are all members of the strongest brotherhood and sisterhood in the nation - The Long Gray Line.
Through this project, we will carve out, perhaps, the first ever visual snapshot of West Point culture by exploring the Long Gray Line’s creators and their creations. Individually, the images and words will introduce you to 100 Old Grads and cadets. Collectively, this compilation will tell a meaningful, interwoven story about an often under appreciated and overlooked skill set developed during the USMA 47-month journey: the creative process.
The ultimate end state is a coffee table book featuring the stories and works of all 100 creators. If you are a creator or know of one in the USMA community, please reach out and help us highlight the creations of the Long Gray Line.