What we’ve learned from 100 Time Auction Mentors

Time Auction was born out of a quarter-life crisis.

3 years ago, we were at a startup event. Many attendees (ourselves included) were there to explore and answer a question — How do you find your life’s passion and a career you love?

On our way out, we were chatting about the idea of Time Auction. What if we can pick the brains of people who are masters of their craft, while making the world a better place?

That night, we listed out the people we looked up to and kind of knew (“How about our friend’s dad? Or the guy you met at that event last time?”), and sent our first few emails.

Fast forward to today, our first mentor became our Board Director. We got our charity status, raised donations, and grew to a team of 8. Over 11,000 volunteer hours were raised featuring Allan Zeman and Anson Chan among many others. More than 230 charities were benefited with extra helping hands. Some of our attendees switched career or study fields with what they’ve learned.

We made our grandmas proud by being on newspapers. Jim Thompson and Ming Wai Lau became our advisors. We’ve done most of these on a part-time basis and realized that having a side hustle is possible. Personally, we’ve learned many valuable lessons which have shaped who we are today.

Here are our favourite takeaways.

#1 They craft out the capacity to think

Aaron Lee (Founder, Dash Serviced Suites) — Plan & Review Your Day

A habit that has significantly improved Aaron’s life? “Micro-planning. I plan my days sometimes to the extent of 15 minutes blocks. Every night before I sleep, I’d review my day. Every Sunday, I’d review my week and plan for the next.” Planning your schedule not only gives you structure to follow through on your goals, but also gives you space for creativity.

Michelle Sun (Founder, First Code Academy) — Choose Growth Over Fear

“Always choose what will grow you the most, instead of what you fear.” Taking a leap of faith, Michelle left banking to study coding in the U.S., worked at various startups before starting First Code Academy. When making life decisions, we always have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety. Most often, the path we fear is what will grow us most. Before making a decision, ask yourself, are you guided by fear or by growth?

Belinda Koo (Founder, XYZ & Managing Director, UBS) — Reflect & Introspect Often

As an entrepreneur, banker and mother of three, Belinda lives by the motto of “Be an asset, not a liability”. What drives her is a goal of reaching a stage called Immanence, which is when one develops a strong spiritual mindset and links what they are doing to how they are giving back to their community, God or the Universe. As a practitioner of mindfulness and meditation, she shares that reaching such milestones come from a huge amount of reflection and introspection. Declutter your mind and listen to your inner wisdom regularly.

Tony Cheng (Founder, Drawing Room Concepts) — Make Time To Think

Despite the busy schedule of running multiple restaurants, Tony regularly schedules time just to think and reflect, which is often when great ideas come by. Prioritize the time to brainstorm, so you won’t get into the lazy trap of being too busy to focus on things that matter most.

#2 They own their education

Renée Boey (Founder, Baker & Bloom) — Learn On The Go

Renée dedicates at least 1 hour per day just to learn. Think you don’t have an extra hour? She listens to podcasts on her commute. Since then, we’ve switched listening to music to podcasts every morning (Renée’s recommendation: The Tim Ferriss Show, How to Start a Startup). No extra time needed, we definitely recommend this way to learn!

Fritz Demopoulos (Co-founder, Qunar) — Learn 3 Things From Everyone You Meet

Fritz’s advice to everyone was to learn 3 things from everyone you meet. Here are 3 of our favorite takeaways from Fritz:

  1. “An entrepreneur has two roles: one is brutal execution and the second is resource extraction in a very efficient way.” If you are doing things that fall into these two categories, it is a good use of your time.
  2. How to stand out to investors? “These founders you can see the electric in their fingers, they’re almost shaking .” Passion is critical and what you can’t lie about.
  3. “Focus on areas others weren’t focusing on — perhaps ideas that people think were stupid and so were overlooked.”

Cindy Chow (Executive Director, Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund) — Learn by Going Out of Your Comfort Zone

Started as an accountant, how did Cindy end up leading the HK$1 Billion Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund? By actively seeking out opportunities outside of her comfort zone from the beginning of her career — diving into Tech and China Mobile industries before they became mainstream. Most of us fear change because of the uncertainty, however the only way to grow is to constantly take on new challenges.

Guy Bradley (Chief Executive, Swire Properties) — Learn Outside of Your Scope

Guy joined the Swire group in 1987 and when he became the Director of Swire properties in 2008, he still took the initiative to study and become a Chartered Surveyor, just to learn about the technical side of the business. In today’s evolving business world, a mindset of lifelong learning is essential whether you’re a junior member or a CEO.

Ray Chan (Co-founder, 9GAG) — Learn From All Businesses

9GAG is one of the most visited websites in the world, and Ray still spends much of his time thinking about ideas. In particular, observing successful businesses outside of the tech field — Why is a café or TV channel more popular than another? There might be commonalities that you can apply to your own business. Recognising patterns helps you become more creative.

Jennifer Ma (Co-founder, ARCH Education) — Craft Your Own Curriculum

When Jennifer leaped from banking to education, it didn’t happen overnight. Jennifer spent 6 months researching the education industry, travelling to Oxford and Cambridge to talk to professors, working in a public secondary school in Hong Kong before creating ARCH with her own curriculum. Before diving in to start your own business, perhaps you can create your own real-world “MBA” for hands-on experience and to test assumptions.

#3 They value people above all else

Joe Ngai (Managing Partner, McKinsey & Company Greater China) — The Power of Influence

“In the age of information, the ability to influence is the most un-commoditised element.” Joe shares that at the highest level, consulting is about change. In this information age, the hardest part isn’t about coming up with the solution, but the ability to influence others to change.

Gary Liu (CEO, SCMP) — Measure Your Life In Impact

Gary pursuits life with a goal — to leave all the people he encounters in life better off than when he first found them. “That means I don’t chase after money or fame or power, but all I’m looking for is that kind of mentality in life.” Our lives aren’t measured in years. They’re measured in the lives of the people we touch around us. How will you measure yours?

Tom Mehrmann (former CEO, Ocean Park) — Leaders Speak Last

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” is Tom’s leadership motto. In order to turn around Ocean Park and change company culture, he was the first CEO to eat at the staff canteen, dressed up as one of the ghosts on Halloween nights, to go on great lengths to hear everyone’s thoughts before weighing in with his own. Practice listen first and be the last to speak, which is good advice no matter who you’re speaking to.

Christine Loh (former Under Secretary of the Environment, Hong Kong Government) — Your Hobbies Create Your Own Unique Network

If you’ve ever wondered how a Commodities Trader become a Legislative Council member and Under Secretary of the Environment, we’ve got the answer. “I had a secret nightlife — I loved talking about public policy with a group of friends who share the same interests.” Christine loved it so much that when there was an opening at the government, she was offered the job. Your unique network is created from your hobbies. Find your tribe!

Dr. Guy Look (CFO, Sa Sa) — People Skills Are Real Skills

What’s one skill that the CFO of Sa Sa wish he had known better? “How to better judge and trust people. You can learn hard skills through reading. However the soft skills, the human relationships — knowing who to work with, or how to work with people, are not as easily taught.” We can all agree that hard skills are critical, yet skills like influence, communication and emotional intelligence is what makes the difference between a thriving team with a strong culture and one that just survives.

Garic Kwok (Director of Business Development, Taipan Bread & Cakes) — Choose a Career, Choose a Life

“You have to understand the values people have in the industry, which you can tell by the quality of their personal life. Then think about if this is the life you want?” When choosing your career, you have to consider if you identify with the industry’s shared values and lifestyle norms. As work makes up 80,000 hours of our lives, you career has a larger influence on you beyond purely the work scope.

Ronald Chan (Founder, Chartwell Capital) — How to Make a First Impression with Warren Buffet

How did a fund manager from Hong Kong ended up writing a book with and on Warren Buffett? “If you want to make an impression, either be the first person or the last.” Driven by excitement, Ronald was always the first person in line to meet and greet Buffett at his annual shareholders’ meetings, which made quite an impression on the legendary value investor. This led to a conversation, and then support and endorsement from Buffett for Ronald to write the book “Behind the Berkshire Hathaway Curtain: Lessons from Warren Buffett’s Top Business Leaders”. Genuine sincerity and desire to learn are golden truths that always stand true.

Win Mak (CEO, Mirum Hong Kong) — Look Beyond The Digital

With over 20 years of serving businesses (from Arsenal to Wynn Resorts) in digital marketing, Win says it all boils down to one thing — human connection. As a brand, are you speaking to your fans in an authentic way? Will they stand with you after a viral campaign? Digital marketing is, after all, just a means to an end.

#4 They explore by doing

Maaike Steinebach (Chief Executive, Hong Kong, Commonwealth Bank) — Get Out of Your Head

With 20+ years in banking, having lived in Holland, Shanghai and Hong Kong, Maaike’s urge for young people is to speak up. There is so much talk about how stressful it is to look for a job, yet on the other end, she reminds us how much they need young people with ideas. Do you have ideas that only stay in your head?

Leonie Valentine (Managing Director, Sales & Operations, Google Hong Kong) — Explore, Consolidate & Accelerate

“Your 20s are about exploration, 30s for consolidation, and 40s for acceleration.” Leonie had her quarter-life crisis early, exploring many career options when she was young. Looking back, that exploratory period was time well spent, where she chose the path that was most interesting, rather than a predetermined one. In a world of instant gratification and on-demand everything, we sometimes forget that good things take time. It’s okay to not have everything figured out by your 30s. Take time in your 20s to explore, understand yourself and what drives you.

Allison Baum (Managing Partner, Fresco Capital) — Tips on Career Change

Going from investment banking in New York, to launching General Assembly in Hong Kong and now Managing Director at Fresco Capital, we learned that career change isn’t easy. It takes action (lots of people to meet and interviews with companies), patience (it’s not easy to find an exciting and suitable opportunity if you have a good and secure job), and courage (trusting your gut feeling and taking a leap of faith). If you want to venture into a new path, are you one of the few that take action?

Sandra Leung (COO of Market Development & Head of Issuer Services, HKEX) — The Art of Asking

An accomplished young lady in many ways, Sandra says the key to achieving your dreams lies in the art of asking. “If you want to win a lottery, you have to buy a ticket. I rarely say I want to do this, but I haven’t even taken a baby step towards it.” Every big accomplishment is just a series of small wins. Progress is made one step at a time. Take the first step.

Gary Ngan (CFO, Meitu) — Find Uncommon Ways to Destination

When Gary was applying for Ivy League universities, one of the criteria was to demonstrate passion in sports. With no sports background, he figured the quickest way is to master scuba-diving by living on a boat for 3 months, which eventually helped him get accepted into University of Pennsylvania. With the mindset of “Think out of the box, find uncommon ways to get to where you want to be”, Gary became CFO of Meitu at just 28. In Peter Thiel’s words, “How can you achieve your 10-year plan in the next 6 months?”

#5 They have a side hustle

Arthur Chow (Co-founder, 6waves) — The Importance of Fun Side Projects

While Arthur was working at Turner Broadcasting, he started a side project with friends for fun — a game to play on Facebook for you to guess which Stephen Chow movie a line is from. This viral game became the basis of 6waves, the leading mobile game publisher today with presence across Asia and U.S. Never underestimate your fun side projects, as what you truly enjoy doing might be what you would do best in!

Antony Leung (Chairman & CEO, Nan Fung Group) — Always Work 2–3 Jobs

Antony has had a thriving career spanning across finance, public service and startups. At any given point in time, he’s always held more than 2 jobs at once. “So I can learn twice as much. Once you stop learning, you’re dead!” This interdisciplinary exposure gives him T-shaped knowledge: breadth (perspective) and depth (expertise), which helps him connect the dots and be more creative.

Thomas Chou (Partner, Morrison & Foerster) — Giving is an Energizer

As a busy lawyer and partner at a leading law firm, Thomas regularly spends a proportion of his time helping non-profits and startups. This energizes him and gives balance to his busy lifestyle. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone incorporates giving as part of their lifestyle?

#6 They don’t see setbacks as failure

Alex Kong (Founder, TNG Wallet) — Persevere at Rock Bottom

Alex’s life story is a roller coaster ride — Born into a humble family, Alex has made millions building tech companies, owning private jets at the age of 35 before losing it all in an unjust lawsuit. Picking himself up from rock bottom, he founded TNG Wallet, now Hong Kong’s biggest e-wallet with over half a million downloads. It is only possible as he truly lives up to his advice: persevere and never, ever give up.

Ming Wai Lau (Chairman, Commission on Youth) — The Astronaut Philosophy in Tackling Moonshot Goals

Creating a youth policy for Hong Kong is a long journey with an uncertain chance of success, and Ming Wai lives a philosophy he learned from an astronaut to help him deal with setbacks. “How to become an astronaut? His advice was not to go become a pilot or join NASA. It was a philosophical advice which applies to most things in life. First, you have to enjoy the process of trying. Second, you have to accept the high chance of failing. If you can do both, it’s worth it.” Success isn’t guaranteed to the smart man or the lucky man; it takes a persistent man who never thought he was defeated.

Timothy Yu (Founder, Snapask) — Success is Defined by Failures

“Don’t listen to anyone, your parents or teachers. Success is something you define — it’s defined by tons of failures, until you can find a formula of success.” Having heard thousands of times that “this would not work” from growing Snapask, the 25-year-old entrepreneur kept his head low and worked hard, growing Snapask to over half a million users in Asia. As Tim said, “If it makes you a better person instead of having a better CV — then you’re on the right way!”

Jess Yeung (Co-founder, GinZeng) — Figure Out the Root Cause

How do you know when to quit and when to keep going? “If the failure is caused by a wrong fundamental assumption, we have to re-evaluate the whole business idea. Otherwise, if the root cause is more related to personal issue or the environment, we have to overcome it rather than giving up.” It is always a fine line between knowing when to give up and when to keep going, checking whether the fundamentals are correct would be a good place to start.

Yin-Man Tang (Investment Strategist) — Choose Your Opponents Wisely

“I like losing as it’ll be the learning ground and basis for your next attempt. You know how much better you have to be.” If you play against an average tennis player to a world champion, who do you think would help you improve faster? Take it from Yin-Man, who grew up in a humble fishing village in Hong Kong and became an investment strategist for the largest hedge fund in the world and later for Lord Jacob Rothschild. Set your standards for yourself by choosing your opponents and company wisely.

David Zhu (Co-founder, Divide) — Failure Gets You Closer To Success

“Failure increases your chance of success. There may be 10 possible solutions, so if you’ve failed 3 times then you know 3 out of 10 ways won’t work.” As you are creating something new, you are going into the unknown, which you are bound to make attempts that won’t work. When you do, take this advice from David who have “trialled and improved” his way to create Divide which was sold to Google for US$120 million.

Vivek Mahbubani (Standup Comedian) — See The Light in Dark Times

Not only does Vivek brings laughter on stage, but he inspires positivity with his life perspective. Unbeknown to most, he was diagnosed with cancer at a young age. The few days between chemotherapy was precious time where he feels energetic, so he packed his schedule to do what he loved! From this experience, he learned resilience and the best time management skills. Can you also see the light through the darker times in life?

#7 They approach things from inside-out

Francis Ngai (Founder, Social Ventures Hong Kong) — The Key to Persistence

“Being an entrepreneur is like running an ultra-marathon. When you’re running with no one in sight and having cramps in your legs, what keeps you going is what you want in your heart.” Francis builds his resilient mindset from being an ultra-marathon runner. Entrepreneurship is a lonely journey where persistence is key, and the key to persistence? It’s what you truly want in your heart.

Anson Chan (former Chief Secretary, Hong Kong Government) — Develop a Moral Compass

“Anchor yourself with a moral compass. It’s less likely you’ll go wrong in life.” Anson’s principles help guide her in making decisions that affect millions as former Chief Secretary of HK. When you do what’s right, you’ll never be wrong. Whether it’s career, personal relationships, isn’t it true that your principles are your true north?

Peggy Chan (Founder, Grassroots Pantry) — Develop Your Spiritual Grounding

Not someone who would do anything that she isn’t ready for, what made Peggy thinks she’s ready to take a bold leap from the corporate world to create Grassroots Pantry? “I looked internally. I knew this is something I wanted and I was ready for it.” Peggy believes that it’s essential to spend time with yourself and know yourself very well. With the societal pressure and expectations on school, career and relationships nowadays, it is even more important to know your values and spirituality before you can truly know what you should pursue externally.

Diana David (Writer, Investor, Educator) — Running Wild & Free

After working 10 years at Financial Times and building a career in a company she loves, Diana decides to follow her heart and pursue more interests. Her only criteria? It needs to give her joy! We all spend our lives chasing the next big thing, but it wouldn’t be worth it if we are not happy on the journey.

Joe Chiu (Country Manager, China, EF Education First) — Know Yourself Before You Can Find the Right Job

Knowing that he’s not mostly driven by money, Joe chose consulting over banking after graduation. After 3 years in McKinsey, he learnt that the constant travel and high-pressure environment was not a fit for him, and so he joined EF Education which allowed him to create social impact. “It’s important to know yourself, to know what you are good at and what drives you. When making career choices, don’t just look at the industry. At the end, if the company culture and people you work with are not supportive, your potential, value and satisfaction will be hindered.”

Nisa Leung (Managing Partner, Qiming Venture Partners) — You’re Here to Find Your Purpose

Nisa is an entrepreneur turned investor at a fund that manages over USD 2.7 billion, investing in healthcare companies that do well and do good. What led Nisa from being a wide-eyed university graduate to where she is now was the persistence in crafting her own path to help others. In her own words, “I believe that there is a reason for why we are here. At some point or another, we will receive that message from somewhere. Everyone is made to do something great, but you have to find it.”

Emma Sherrard Matthew (CEO, Quintessentially) — Simply Stay Interesting

As CEO of a concierge for experiences (services include arranging penguins for birthday parties!), it is not surprising that Emma’s key to give a good impression is to simply “stay interesting!”. An avid traveler and adventurer, Emma has a lot of stories to tell, from meeting her husband on a dare to going to Burning Man weeks after giving birth. Don’t make up a speech or put up a pretence, being your raw, honest and passionate self is the best and most memorable impression you can give.

Maura Thompson (Founder, Sassy Media Group) — Entrepreneurship Helps You Know Yourself

“You learn so much about yourself by being an entrepreneur. Think about it as a self development journey.” From business negotiation to working with friends, being an entrepreneur isn’t easy and success isn’t guaranteed, but one thing is for sure — you will learn a lot more about the real world and yourself through the journey.

#8 They’re pulled by a mission

Paul Choi (Executive Director, Human Capital Management, Goldman Sachs) — A Purpose Driven Career

Paul’s philosophy of “Life is short. Be true to yourself” puts him on a personal mission — to help the mainstream understand LGBTQI issues. He is making impact beyond himself because he is working on something bigger than himself. We all have a purpose in this world, have you found yours?

Doris Leung (Founder, Diamond Cab) —Put Yourself in Your Users’ Shoes

Doris started Diamond Cab to provide a legal, clean and safe transportation for her mom, a wheelchair user. A social enterprise that has changed many lives since, it was only possible as it was born out of passion, love and an understanding of the needs of the users.

Coils Lam (Founder, 759 Store) — Leaders are Measured by Impact

“A leader is not measured by wealth, but by impact.” Coils reminds us being a leader is not about being your own boss or having the freedom to do whatever you want. It is about having impact and making a difference. Plus, it is not too late to succeed in your 50s, so be patient and arm yourself with the knowledge, skills and mentality before you start.

Jill Robinson (Founder, Animals Asia) — The Powerful Difference One Can Make

An unexpected visit to a bear bile farm in China inspired Jill to start Animals Asia in 1998, which has now rescued over 20,000 bears in Asia. Single-handedly alerted the whole world on the cruel practices of bear bile farming, it shows how big of a difference one person can make. The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire, so never underestimate what each of us can do.

Jim Thompson (Founder, Crown Worldwide Group) — Giving and Achieving Are Not Mutually Exclusive

“There is no magic formula, there is no road to success. It is in you.” Building Crown with US$1,000 in 1965 to now the largest relocation company in the world, Jim is a living example that you can achieve anything, if you set your mind to it. With a strong philanthropic component incorporated at Crown from the get-go (Crown employees help charities regularly while he personally serves on many charitable organizations, including being our advisor!), he is a role model that you can focus on achieving more while giving back and helping others.

Douglas Young (Co-founder, Goods of Desire) — Heritage in Modern Times

If there’s one thing that upsets Douglas most is when people say G.O.D are made for only tourists; a lover of our city, his dream is for everyone to appreciate the beauty in our culture. With an office that resembles a museum of old Hong Kong artefacts and a small factory that still proudly produces “made in Hong Kong” products, we learned from Douglas that it takes one person’s dedication to make an impact that will be remembered in history. Delay no more on what we can do.

Tytus Michalski (Managing Partner, Fresco Capital) — Look Beyond the Money

Having gotten a taste of entrepreneurship (Tytus was a founding member of an institutional hedge fund which was acquired for over US$200M), he dedicates his time and resources to actively support Hong Kong startup ecosystem because “simply investing money is not enough.” When you are running a company, it’s so important to find investors and team members who share the same vision and can contribute beyond the financials — which can be business relationship, strategic advice or technical expertise. For the long game, look beyond the money.

Marie-Christine Lee (Founder, Sports for Hope Foundation) — The Journey is the Reward

If you don’t have to work for money, will you lie down, instead of “leaning in”? As a member of the Lee Hysan family, Marie-Christine is one of the few people that pushes herself further than most. In order to fundraise for her Sports for Hope Foundation, which helps over 6,000 underprivileged students build resilience through sports, she picked September, the toughest month to cycle 400km along Silk Road along with professional athletes. The journey of overcoming challenges is a reward in itself.

Robin Hwang (Executive Director, Foodlink Foundation) — When In Doubt, Always Go Back to Your Why

Working in a property business while running Foodlink, the busy schedule can get overwhelming at times. At one of these times, Robin went to visit a beneficiary of Foodlink — an old lady who told her that her family members have all left her and felt despair as she is just waiting to die. Not only did this bring tears to Robin’s eyes, but also a lesson — your “why” always gives you all the motivation you need to go through your obstacles.

#9 They are masters of their own psychology

Kenneth She (General Manager, Uber Hong Kong) — Own It, Don’t Rent It

“Be an owner, not a renter.” is Uber’s internal motto. Owning a task requires more than merely accomplishing it. Owning it means it is not just work, it becomes part of who you are. Be an owner of anything you do, then you’ll always find a way to make it happen.

Norma Chu (Founder, DayDayCook) — Practice Having No Ego

“You have to realise that at one point, you can’t carry your business further just by yourself.” As DayDayCook grew from a blog to a full-fledged media platform with millions of viewers, Norma says it’s important for entrepreneurs to not have an ego, as you’ll always be asking for help.

Olivia Wong (Director, Human Resources, Swire Properties) — Gratitude Comes From Giving & Being Content

From working for 29 years at Swire and living around the world, Olivia’s takeaway is simple — “Gratitude”. Today the most popular form of seeking happiness is through the accumulation of “things”, yet Olivia finds it through being content and volunteering to build houses for the needy every year. Gratitude and humility makes us turn to realities outside of ourselves.

Professor Ronald Li (Founder, Novoheart) — Embrace Change As The Future Is Already Here

Talking to Ronald was mind-blowing. His ground-breaking invention can take 2.5ml of blood from you and create a personalized, mini-version of your beating heart. “Change is already happening — you can have hardware incorporated into your body such as pacemakers, why would it be hard to imagine having biologically cloned organs that is tailored to you as a solution?” There is a tendency to be worried about uncertainty in the future, yet are you being open enough to new ideas and embracing them?

Steven Lam (Founder, GoGoVan) — You Determine If You’re A Good One

From a humble family, Steven was sent on a one-way ticket to the U.S. to study, where he earned his tuition fees from fixing iPhones to selling hot dogs. With his grit and resourceful mindset, he started GoGoVan with HK$20,000, now merged with 58 Suyun to be Asia’s largest online intra-city logistics service. “No one can teach you how to be an excellent entrepreneur. Only you can determine if you can be a good one.” There are no set rules to becoming an entrepreneur, the grit, the love for solving problems and your own standards are set by you.

Andrew Li (Executive Chairman, ZOUK) — Your Attitude Defines Your Destiny

“It doesn’t matter what your credentials are, what matters most is your attitude.” Your attitude defines if people are willing to teach you, to give you opportunities, and eventually your career path.

Angie Lau (Lead Anchor, Bloomberg Television Asia) — You Create Your Own Luck

Angie is the lead anchor for Bloomberg Television Asia and while we can see her success now, she has fought hard to pave the road for herself. Starting her career at a small regional TV station in Cleveland, she later moved to Bloomberg’s Chicago before moving again to Hong Kong’s office so she can be in the center of finance in Asia. While many say some luck is required to be successful in business, Angie believes we need to first be prepared so we can grab these opportunities when luck comes.

#10 They see work in a unique way

Andy Ann (Founder, NDN Group) — Maximizing Productivity the Blackjack Way

“Working on weekend is like gambling — if you put in $60,000 on blackjack, the difference between the winning and losing scenario is $120,000 (winning $60,000 and losing $60,000). This is the same for working on weekends. In just one year, a person who works on weekends will have 6 more months of work done than someone who doesn’t.” While this is Andy’s analogy in maximizing productivity, the most important thing to learn from him is that “Success is not about being number 1. It’s about finding a balance in life and being happy, joyful and passionate.” Your personal growth, your significant other, friends & family and other aspects all make up a life well lived.

Wesley Ng (Founder, Casetify) — The Bruce Lee Startup Mentality

“In kung fu, speed is invicible (天下武功,唯快不破). As Bruce Lee said, speed comes first, then accuracy, and then power.” Wes applies this principle in startups — you need to be agile and quick (to test and validate your idea), not worried about missteps (to embrace failure and reiterate), and once you’ve found what works, go full-speed with power.

Laura Cozijnsen (Founder, Lighthouse Consultant) — Miso Soup vs Japanese Food

“Specialize! A brand that specializes in making great ‘miso soup’ will have more credibility than one that makes great ‘Japanese food’.” In this information age, it is easy to become a generalist, but specialized knowledge and mastery of your craft will be what sets you apart.

Allan Zeman (Chairman, Lan Kwai Fong Group) — Life Is A Joke

“Life is a joke. Don’t take it seriously, have fun!” Allan doesn’t read many books or watch TV shows, as he is too busy having fun and being entertained in his own life. A serial entrepreneur known for creating Lan Kwai Fong and reviving Ocean Park, his motto led him to create ventures that makes people happy. It’s not about the money or the prestige, it’s about daring to dream big and enjoying the adventure that life takes you on!

William To (Creative Director, PMQ) — 1,600 Pandas, Millions of Visitors

As the creative brains behind PMQ and Business of Design Week for 9 years, William is responsible for many great strides made in the Hong Kong creative scene. Examples such as attracting millions of visitors to PMQ with Paulo Grangeon’s 1600 pandas (remember them?) show that creativity is critical to success, not budget.

Dominic Chan (CEO, Decisive Consulting) — Workplace Cultural Shift

A man with many hats, Dominic is an independent business advisor, corporate trainer, angel investor, entrepreneur, university lecturer, world explorer, husband and father. He highlights as our workplace culture shift, we are seeing a trend of people choosing to be an independent workers. To earn this freedom, the key is to start building your own brand and reputation in your desired career field.

Shing Chow (Founder, Lalamove) — Professional Athlete Mindset in Entrepreneurship

A professional poker player turned entrepreneur, Shing shared that running a startup is like being an athlete — “you are only remembered when you are first”. When we met with Shing, it has only been 1 year since he founded Lalamove. Now 2.5 years later, it is operating in over 100 cities with over US$30 million in funding raised. An entrepreneur is only as good as his/her own standards, and it takes the mindset of a professional athlete to aim high and go for the win.


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