Thursday, October 2, 2008

About Boss of Me!

I have always been fascinated by successful people and their magic formulas. I devour all their features in the newspapers and watch The World’s Richest People diligently on Discovery Travel and Living.

My heroes include stock market billionaire and world’s richest man, Warren Buffet, who filed his first tax return at age 13, claiming $35 for deduction for the bicycle that he uses to deliver newspapers, Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, who became the world’s youngest billionaire after a mere four years of setting up his social network phenomena and flamboyant Virgin CEO, Richard Branson who started out selling records out of a shoe shop.

In my view, a successful person doesn’t have to make millions, though most of them inadvertently do. He (or she) is someone who believes in himself and his dream. He pursues it, remains steadfast to his vision and emerges as the leader in his chosen field.

While I had endless books to peruse about self-made wonders in America, I could not find much on our local heroes - just bits and bops from newspapers and magazines. Taking matters into my own hands, I decided that I will unearth these amazing people in Singapore and immortalise their achievements in a book. They deserve to have their stories told and should get rightful space on the book shelves…and that was how Boss of Me! was conceived. I

n a way, I have always believed in being a boss of myself as I left a full-time job to pursue my passions and have now fulfilled one of my goals of being an author.

Picking the list of 20 to interview was a challenging task as I had to narrow my scope and pick only one outstanding person to profile in each industry. All of my interviewees followed their passions, worked hard and became outstanding leaders in their respective fields.

Once I started work on my book, everything began materialising like magic - I found my publisher within a day and by one week, 10 interviewees had said yes and I was frantically trying to slot them in for interviews.

Boss of Me! is my labour of love – done over three months of wonderful coffee sessions with my icons and I am proud to share with readers the power secrets and life stories of these 20 movers and shakers. Each of them lifted me up and showed me that impossible is possible - as long as you genuinely love what you do and go about doing it with your own set of rules.

I hope their stories inspire you as much as it did for me and serve as a reminder for everyone to stay on track to reach their goals. It is proof that you should not live out your life in a cubicle, if your passion lies elsewhere. Bite the bullet and follow your dreams - all you need is bravery, support from loved ones and lots of drive.

Table of contents:
1. Alvin Giam, Pilates Bodyworks

2. Aldrin Quek, OneWithMusic

3. Geoff Ang, Geoff Studio

4. Lincoln Cheng, Zouk

5. Wee Kok Wah, Stamford Tyres

6. Ling Hao, Linghao Architects

7. Cynthia Chua, Spa Esprit Group

8. Chris Lee, The Asylum

9. Louis Ng, ACRES

10. Dr Georgia Lee, TLC Medical Center

11.Chua Shenzi,

12. Kathryn Yap, CTPartners

13. Dr Lisa Ng, SG Immunology Network

14. Daniel Tay, Bakerzin

15. Lee Wai Leng, Flee Circus

16. Ban Yinh Jheow, STIKFAS

17. Tjin Lee, Mercury Marketing & Communications

18. Indranee Rajah, Drew & Napier/Tanjong Pagar MP

19. Wendy Leong, SilkAir

20. Royston Tan, Studio10Twentyeight

Chapter sample: Lincoln Cheng, Zouk

Power secret – Always be the pioneer in everything that you do!

Quote: Success to me is running a profitable business with happy employees.

● Attends Woodstock in 1979.
● Parties around the world in super cool clubs like Studio 54 and Hacienda.
● Introduces steel structures and luxury boating to Hong Kong.
● Lincoln proposes building a world class marina at Marina South in 1983 but is turned down by URA.
● Opens Zouk in 1991.
● Transforms it into one of the world’s best clubs.

Whoever says you can’t have fun and make tons of money at the same time has never met Zouk club founder and nightlife maven, Lincoln Cheng. Born in Hong Kong, he went to study architecture in the US and it was his chance encounter with Woodstock that forever changed his life. “I was doing summer school at Cornell University and Woodstock was being held just 30 miles away. Curious, my friends and I drove down to have a look. And once you’re there, with 250,000 people crowding around, there was no turning back and so we stayed for three days…but I shall not go into the details of what happened,” he recalls, relieving his hippie days with relish.

With his music interest fired up, he became a regular at legendary festivals like Summer of Love and Woodstock, as well as travelled around the world to party in uber-cool clubs like Studio 54, Paradise Garage and Hacienda. It was during one of his yearly jaunts to party island, Ibiza, where he caught DJ Alfredo, otherwise known as the godfather of Balearic house, a new blend of dance music that was very different from the usual pop tunes played commercially back then.

This new sound intrigued Lincoln’s savvy ears and he was hooked! “In the 1980s, dance music was very underground and it was only played in clubs for black or gay people,” explains this youthful looking 60-year-old. Recalling his early party days with much clarity, he says, “I hunted for secret rave parties that started at 6am and it was very exciting as we had to pick up clues along the way before arriving at the destination. We would make pit-stops at gas stations to call someone for clues or follow cars heading to the same party. They were fun times.”

When Hong Kong was handed over to China in 1997, Lincoln decided to leave and chose Singapore because of its ‘English-speaking Asian society’. He ran a couple of businesses – from architecture to system furniture for the office, all of which did well, but Lincoln had a grander idea brewing. His dream came into fruition when he came upon an abandoned warehouse at Kim Seng Road. It was exactly what he had in mind for a super club. Together with four other investors, which he eventually bought out after a few years, Lincoln sank in $10 million dollars - an unheard of sum in 1990, to build his dream vision – a club called Zouk…

Boss of Me! is available at all major bookstores (except Borders) in Singapore and on for $15. It is also available in Malaysia, India, Hong Kong…and maybe Sydney soon.

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