I’m going to share a series about what entrepreneurship means to me and how I think it can change your life for the better, or for the worse. I want to start off by saying that we’re all on a level playing field, no one is better than anyone else, and even though you have freaks like Elon Musk or Steve Jobs, I fundamentally believe that anyone can reach their peak through actualising their best version of themselves. Although your peak might be different to, say, Elon Musk’s peak, it doesn’t matter, as long as you reach your personal best.
Firstly entrepreneurship is a journey into the unknown, it’s an adventure where you have a starting point and you don’t have an endpoint and most of the time you don’t know where you’re going. It’s like getting a one way plane ticket, where you don’t know the destination, it’s as good as spinning a globe and stopping it at a random city, and it could be Kabul, or it could be Kyoto, and you don’t know the class of ticket, so you could be flying on an economy seat between two crying babies, or you could be sitting in first class. But one day, you have to decide, am I going to take this flight, or am I going to stay where I am now?
Going through this new journey is an extremely interesting, unexpected, and fulfilling experience where you get to learn a lot about yourself. So if you’re interested in uncovering the mysteries about your character and going into the heart of the truth of who you are, and what you stand for- the light and the dark, and what motivates you, then entrepreneurship can be an extremely revealing experience. Do you really want to know your true self? Are you excited or scared about learning about your true flaws? For me, the two biggest things that I’ve had to deal with are ego and foolishness. Ego in constantly battling with my inner demons and worrying about what other people think of me, and foolishness for being that guy who jumps straight off the cliff without thinking about my landing. My whole 20’s has been about figuring out what kind onion I am, shedding layers and adding layers. What kind of onion layers do you want to have?
The first rule is that you should really be doing this only for yourself, and not for anyone else, this shouldn’t be used as a tool to impress other people, it shouldn’t be used as a way to make yourself feel better for any of your character flaws. Like you know how when you do something good, you feel like you can be bad in other ways? Like when really fit people have a cheat day, or when people working at a charity are otherwise completely lousy people outside their day job. Both these things I’ve done on numerous times, like after a session of volunteering going on a rampage of bitterness towards others. I’m trying to reign it in, and if you can too, then you’re better than me.
Entrepreneurship shouldn’t be used as a way to show off to other people that you got this #hustle lifestyle. The only selfish part of your journey that you should embrace is this ability to selfishly endeavour to better yourself, that you’re constantly comparing yourself to the only person in the mirror and to no one else. The only version of yourself that you should be comparing yourself to is the person you were yesterday. Drawing any comparisons to other entrepreneurs, or family, or friends, will render this search meaningless because you’ll only be defining yourself based on what you think of other people and what other people think of you. So if you’re the type of person who goes onto Instagram, looks at other posts, and compares yourself either positively or negatively, then you should delete social media because, it’s bringing the worst outta you.
I think that when you’re young the whole of your youth can be defined like this, the battle between your internal definition of yourself and the external definition you place on yourself. For me, it was, oh, I’m Asian, so growing up in Australia, I have to be less shy to be accepted. Or I’m a man, so I have to exert my strength over others. These are insecurities that drive most people when they’re young. You’re trying your best to fit in, hoping to look cool, and that means abiding to other people’s expectations of you. At school, we walk around thinking are we fitting in enough, are we being seen as cool, but as you get older, you have this chance to spend more time with yourself and be ok with being alone. Once you lose the reliance on what other people expect from you, you understand that this whole life can be divided into two distinct world’s, you’re internal view of yourself, and you’re outside view of yourself, meaning what other people think of you, but often it becomes, what you think other people think of you, but usually, they’re too busy with their own battles to care, and you should just be who you want to be. That’s the meaning of self-acceptance, it means to have a happiness that is self-reliant.
So I’ll give you an example, up until I was 21, all I thought I wanted to be was a lawyer because That’s what I thought the world wanted me to become. I grew up seeing lawyers as being smart, rich and respected. Those are all the things that I wanted to be and instead of really looking at the occupation and trying to understand what the actual purpose of it is, I just looked at the attributes that others would give lawyers and saw that it ticked all the boxes of the person I thought I wanted to be. Over a year of big change, where I went from a failing student to barely scraping into law school after a lot of work, I realised that while it was a really prestigious and respected occupation, the actual work itself was really mundane and boring. At least in the area of work that I was in which was mergers and acquisitions. When I released this idea that my future self had to be a lawyer, it’s suddenly freed me to open up my lens and consider any occupation that I wanted to do in this world. I could have been cleaning windows, as long as I really enjoyed cleaning windows. So that Summer, I moved to Singapore for the first time with $500 in the bank, stayed in the most affordable accommodation I could find and started trying other things. I thought modelling was a pretty cool job, you just have to look cool and get paid for it, but I clearly didn’t have the looks or the height for anyone to take me seriously. That’s what I thought the outside world would’ve thought, this is clearly a pretty average looking guy who doesn’t belong anywhere near the modelling industry. But my internal dialogue was like, hey, if I walk into a Modelling agency and pretend as I belong here, maybe people will think I can be a model. So without any modelling experience, I went online and took the addresses of the top 5 modelling agencies that I could find on Google. I walked into some really high end modelling agencies where I clearly didn’t fit in, it was as clear as night and day that I was shorter and more average looking than even the agent, but I just struttin my stuff and I got accepted into one modelling agency called Phantom models. Although I had never seen myself as a model, I basically spoke to an agent and she was selling me that I had a really commercial, pan-Asian appearance and that I would do really well as an event host or in commercials. I didn’t know what a commercial look was, but I was glad she thought that about me. Unfortunately, she didn’t think that I had the chops to do runway modelling, which was a shame because I had a full-length mirror in my room so I had been watching videos on fashion tv about how to runway walk. It felt like such a surreal dream, leaving that modelling agency with the contract signed, I thought maybe this is a message from the world that I can create my own reality. If I really saw myself as a model, I could be a model. After that, I got enough jobs to get me through the Summer, which was better than I thought and modelling is an industry where you never know when you’ll get your next job. I also got to host a lot of gigs, meet a lot of interesting people, and got to pretend that I was a model, even though I still thought I clearly wasn’t a model. Stick around to the end of this episode if you want to hear a funny story about modelling.
I never would have had that experience unless I had pulled the trigger. It was the realisation that I was not authentically connecting with my occupation as a future lawyer, that made me move away from this person who I was becoming. And even though without knowing it I was closing a door in my mind, I was opening another door to a completely new world. This world was a place where I was beginning again, I had no qualifications for, I was basically starting from scratch, in the search and Discovery stage of what I wanted to be.
And of course, I compared my choice to the stable future of choosing the law path. I wondered if this risk worth the Endeavour of understanding who I am and how wide my possibilities could be? And I guess when you’re young, you’re a little bit naive and arrogant so that you think that you’re the best and that you could really change the world. And I think that’s a good thing because although it’s a little bit foolish, you can’t overthink things or they will bog you down. I think that fundamentally once adults reach a little bit of success, they’ve lost themselves, they’ve lost a part of themselves that they want to reclaim. I think many in their late 30s or 40 are trying to rediscover the joy that they had as a child. Trying to have the comfort of being established mixed with the joy and purity that one experiences with the world as a child. It’s like how Steve Jobs was famously kind of brattish and childish about how stubborn he was when he released new products because he was like a kid who had a vision of his reality that he wanted to propagate on to others. In a way, I think that was a key to his success, that he becomes a child again with the experience and wisdom of a master of his craft.
Part of my journey has been trying to control the narrative in my mind, controlling the thoughts that run through it and how I react to things in my life, and limiting the number of bad thoughts that are produced in my mind. Considering things carefully and weighing of the risk is really important. By letting it stop you from exploring possibilities can be dangerous especially if the balance of probabilities is actually 50/50, and not an 80 20, that your biased mind may be over cautiously calculating. “If you can change your mind, you can change your life.”
I think most people are pretty good in this regard and on the spectrum most people are pretty normal, If you are overly conservative or overly cautious, or on the other end of the spectrum you’re too Reckless and too spontaneous, you might want to reconsider how you can become more objective in your approach to considering new experiences like entrepreneurship.
Hey, I hope you enjoyed part 1 of what I think entrepreneurship means to me, if you enjoyed this, then please share this episode with your friends, family or colleagues, that would be the biggest compliment to me. And stay tuned, next week, I go into part 2 of this series. Thanks for joining me on Ramen to Riches, feel free to shout out to me on Twitter.
Music In Order Of Appearance (CC/Royalty Free)
Audiobinger – Dream_Big
MichaelCatAudio – Hip – Hop (Royalty Free Music) [Licensing for commercial use]
“SUNBIRDS” by BOCrew
“another one” by grapes
“STAY IN THE GREAT” by BOCrew
“Start To Grow (cdk Mix)” by Analog By Nature