Wednesday, April 23, 2008

What an amazing journey!

It is a dream come true - how my fascination with successful people led me on 20 amazing journeys with my local heroes.

Everyone of them has lifted me up and inspired me with their amazing life stories. Like a mother who adores all her children (for me, all 20 of them!), it is hard-pressed for me to pick my favourite. However, if I really have to choose, there are three that stand out for me:

1. Dr Georgia Lee

Power secret – Always give back more than you take!

Quote: Success is achieving all that you set out to do and being the best at it.

- Wanted to be a doctor at eight years old.
- Opened her clinic, TLC Medical Center, with $300,000 from her husband.
- Has 10,000 clients, including celebrity coiffeur, David Gan and the who’s who of society.
- Works 14-hour days, six days a week.
- Organises and pays for self-improvement classes for her customers.
- Dreams of owning a jet plane so that she can do house-calls around the world.

She is known in the media for her penchant for designer labels, but people who know Dr Georgia Lee, Singapore’s most glamorous doctor, will also attest to her amazing warmth. It is this attribute of hers that patients wait up to two hours to see her and all disgruntlement disappear the moment she opens her clinic door and greets you with the cheeriest ‘Hello!’ you have ever heard in your life!
One of the most renowned aesthetics doctors in Singapore. Dr Lee aspired to be a doctor since she was eight years old. “I wanted to help people and being a doctor is a very rewarding, feel-good job,” says this willowy 39-year-old. “I was a very self-sufficient child and would plan my own homework timetable and study very hard. I was lucky and did very well in all the important exams,” she recalls. Her discipline and hard work paid off and she graduated from the National University of Singapore with a degree in Medicine.
She spent six years working in a few hospitals after graduation and opened TLC Medical Center in Holland Village, in 1999, with $300,000 capital from her husband. His investment has since increased many-fold and the annual turnover is “in the high seven-figures”. Dr Lee started out as a general practitioner but it was a bad allergic reaction that kick-started her interest in aesthetics. “A contraceptive that I took made me develop ugly blisters on the left side of my face. The blisters went away but I was left with pigmentation that was so bad that I hid at home and people thought I was either beaten up by my husband, had herpes or had Aids.” She spent the next six to nine months researching on lotions and managed to heal her scars. “That unfortunate incident was a blessing in disguise as it got me interested in aesthetics and led me to help other people with skin ailments,” shares Dr Lee....

2. Louis Ng

Power secret – It’s better to feel like a million dollars than to actually have it!

Quote: Success is waking up every morning knowing that I am making a difference.

- Louis wanted to be an animal activist after watching Gorillas in the Mist.
- At 21, he successfully put a stop to chimp beatings in the zoo.
- Started ACRES to educate the public about animal cruelty.
- Currently draws a salary of $1,400 but says he feels like a million bucks.
- Built a rescue centre for animals rescued from illegal wildlife trade in Singapore.
- Wants to demolish the wildlife trade before he dies.

You cannot help but be swept away by Louis Ng’s passion for animals when you meet him. As Singapore’s most ardent animal activist, he has managed to raise an impressive $700,000 to date for his cause, ‘ACRES’- Animal Concerns Research and Education Society.
“I was 14-years-old when I saw a documentary about saving turtles in the wild and it dawned on me that I was actually killing them with my fondness for turtle soup. That was the start and I stopped drinking turtle soup, followed by sharks’ fin soup and stingray after watching more documentaries,” says Louis, reliving his early days. But, it was the movie, Gorillas in the Mist, a true-life story of naturalist Dian Fossey and her work with gorillas that changed his life. “I turned to my mum in the cinema and told her that I wanted to be just like her, which freaked my mum out as Dian Fossey was murdered at the end of the show,” relates Louis with much amusement.
He had the choice to enroll in an engineering course at the National University of Singapore which would have ensured a stable 9-to-5 career earning big bucks. However, Louis opted to do a Biology course instead so that he could pursue his interest in wildlife conservation. He received his Bachelor of Science in Biology and his Master of Science in Primate Conservation from the Oxford Brookes University. “My mum, like any parent, was angry because she thinks I will have no prospect when I graduate, but I’d rather be happy than rich” says this 30-year-old who currently earns $1,400 monthly.....

3. Ban YJ

Power secret – Make the most of what you have and think out of the box!

Quote: Success is finding the perfect balance in your career, health, relationships and spiritual growth.

- Ban started his company because of a stray dog.
- Stikfas was born in 2000 and has sold more than four million units today.
- He attributes his creativity to his care-free growing up years in a kampong.
- Sales took off after Stikfas was licenced to toy giant Hasbro.
- Fans range from seven to 60 year olds.
- Ban wants Stikfas to be a heritage brand like Lego, for the future generations.

His multi-million dollar toy empire began with a stray dog called Tripod. Animal lover, Ban Yinh Jheow, better known as Ban, found a wounded, brown mongrel near Nicoll Highway in 2000. He wanted to keep the dog, which he called Tripod as it had only one good leg, but his HDB flat was too small for it, so he looked around and eventually, found a 2,000 sq ft shophouse in Katong that was going for $1,400 a month in rent. “I needed to make a business out of the premises to pay the rent,” says this youthful looking 39-year-old. At that time, he was unemployed after an animation company he was running closed down. Using his background in animation and vivid imagination, Ban began designing a prototype of an action figurine which he called the Alpha Male. This figurine was the first of many that Stikfas – which comes from the words ‘stick’ and ‘fast’, would later produce. A year later, he registered the company and ran the business in the shophouse with two staff.....

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


I have had to increase the number of interviewees from 18 to 20, thanks to two amazing women coming on board. The list below:

Dream inspirers:

1. Cynthia Chua, founder, Spa Esprit (made Brazilian waxes mandatory)
2. Alvin Giam, principal teacher, Pilates Bodyworks (most qualified practitioner)
3. Geoff Ang, Geoff Ang Photography (sought-after photographer)
4. Lincoln Cheng, founder, Zouk (club maven)
5. Aldrin Quek, DJ, OneWithMusic (Asia’s most successful DJ)
6. Ling Hao, Ling Hao Architects (award-winning architect)
7. Mr Wee Kok Wah, chairman, Stamford Tyres (business mogul)
8. Royston Tan, director (bad boy film maker)
9. Chris Lee, creative director, The Asylum (creative cowboy)
10. Dr Georgia Lee, aesthetics doctor, TLC Aesthetics (aesthetics glamazon)
11. Daniel Tay, director, Bakerzin (baking entrepreneur)
12. Chua Shenzi, founder, New Urban Male (youth ambassador)
13. Louis Ng, founder, ACRES (animal activist)
14. Ban YJ, director, Stikfas (millionaire toymaker)
15. Lisa Ng, senior scientist, SG Immunology Network (scientist who broke the SARS code)
16. Kathryn Yap, partner, CTPartners (only Singaporean in Businessweek’s list of Top 50 head hunters)
17. Tjin Lee, director, Mercury Marketing (event supernova)
18. Lee, illustrator, Flee Circus (acclaimed artist)
19. Indranee Rajah, lawyer Drew & Napier, Tanjong Pagar MP (superwoman)
20. Wendy Leong, pilot, SilkAir (1 of 5 female pilots in SIA)

* Many thanks to Dr Georgia Lee and Kathryn Yap for their kind endorsement of my book and referrals!

I am 3/4 done and my book will be launched in conjunction with National Day in August. Look out for a mini media blitz of it in July.

YAY! (doing a mini dance of happiness)