joel neoh

30 Life Lessons from Joel Neoh, Malaysia High Achieving Entrepreneur

Joel Neoh, the High Achiever Entrepreneur & the GROUPON Head of Asia Pacific wrote a note on the “30 Lessons that he has learned in 30 Years”!

Joel Neoh was 19, about to turn 20, when he turned on the television to be greeted by Oprah, his mother’s favourite TV programme. Oprah was interviewing the cast of Desperate Housewives, and asked Marcia Cross: “If you could go back in time and tell your 20-year-old self anything, what would it be?”

Marcia responded: “Stop worrying. Be comfortable living in uncertainty.”

Looking back at his 30 years of life, Joel Neoh has summarized 30 simple yet important lessons that he learned – about being a better entrepreneur and person.

1. Be comfortable living in uncertainty.

Marcia was right. We can never know what will happen to us next. We can try to control the uncontrollable by looking for security and predictability, always hoping to be comfortable and safe. But the truth is that we can never avoid uncertainty. This not-knowing is part of life’s adventure. The only thing constant in life is change. Embrace it and you’ll be in for a fun ride.

2. Love what you do.

Don’t ever stop growing, learning, loving, doing & living. Find your niche. Find out what you’re truly passionate about.

3. Embrace your fears.

At 21 years old, Joel Neoh won #1 in the National Men’s Open Rock Climbing Competition. At the post-competition interview, a journalist asked him why and how he started rock climbing: “I started because I was afraid of heights. I once read that most elite athletes feel fear just like everyone else, but they channel that fear to fuel their spirit and passion for competition.”

4. Have fun.

Nothing in life is worth doing unless you’re having fun doing it.

Joel Neoh

At one of those super-crazy-fun Groupon parties with one of my favorite people in the world.

5. Care.

People don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care.

6. Surround yourself with people who are smarter.

In sports, the only way to grow is to play against stronger competition. In business, hang out with smarter people. It can be intimidating, but always try to be the dumbest person in the room.

7. Creativity is not difficult.

Creativity is just about connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.

8. Allow our good to emerge.

We do not become good by trying to be good, but by finding the goodness that is already within us and allowing that goodness to emerge.

9. Happiness is not a goal but a way of life.

People that surrounds us have a high influence on our happiness levels. Fire negative people out of your life.

10. Don’t let failure hold you back.

Michael Jordan once said: “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.”

11. Stop insanity.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Learn from mistakes, don’t keep doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.

12. Just do it.

Years from now we will be more disappointed by the things that we didn’t do than by the ones we did do.

13. Never too young to dream big.

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. The earlier you start, the harder you work when you’re younger, the easier life is when you’re older.

Joel Neoh

Receiving the Ernst & Young Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year 2012.

14. Stay hungry.

Often, the only advantage we have when we are young is hunger. The hunger to succeed. Don’t ever lose that.

15. Life is too short to live someone elses’ dream.

We are only going to live life once. If you aren’t following what you love, then what are you doing? Our parents may have once told us that we have to be in either one of these four professions: doctor, engineer, lawyer or accountant. Life is more than a job. You don’t want to live a life where you go to a job every day just so you can enjoy your weekends and get two weeks of vacation every year.

16. Life is too short to work at a boring company.

The best thing about being an entrepreneur is the ability to influence, design and build a great organization culture and a cool office space for the team. A great place to work attracts the best talent. Privileged to have co-founded 2 out of top 3 coolest offices you’d want to work at in Malaysia:

17. Be curious.

The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.

18. Birthdays are best to reflect.

Some spend their birthdays drinking, partying to forget the past, the failures. However, birthdays are great moments to reflect the year that has past – to identify improvements and learnings, towards being a better person for the future.

19. We are the change we seek.

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. Be a positive change agent today.

20. Don’t let others dictate you.

Often, it’s those individuals that contributes very little to our lives, that dictates our emotions. Stop letting people who do so little for you control so much of your mind, feelings and emotions.

21. Ask the right questions.

The right questions can ignite innovation, solve problems, create powerful partnerships and help us live a better life.

22. Do one thing right.

When things aren’t going our way, remember – if we can do just 1 thing right, then everything can start to move in the right direction again.

23. Live the moment.

If today was the last day of your life, would you want to do what you are about to do today?

We are always waiting for something: for it to be the weekend, to be finished with school, till we are 21, to get a new job, qualify for a promotion, save enough money, etc…and what’s sad is we miss every beautiful moment in the ‘present’ because we spend our whole lives waiting for tomorrow and for the future. We end up skipping our whole lives and one day we will spend our last day waiting on a tomorrow that will never come. Don’t live in your past or your future. Live today. It’s all we really have. Live everyday as if it were your last. Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass. It is about learning to dance in the rain.

24. Pay off bad debts.

Some debt is good for building credit, minimizing risk and so on. But there are some debts that weigh most people down from truly following their passion and living an amazing life. Pay off the debts that weigh you down as it’s an amazing feeling once you do.

25. Invest in buying assets.

Broke people spend all income on expenses. The Middle class spends income on expenses and purchasing liabilities. The Rich invests income into buying assets, which in return generates even more income. Assets: property (that generates rental yield), stocks (that pays dividend), bonds, etc.

26. Invest in yourself.

It took awhile before Joel Neoh realized that he should invest in himself, that he should put his personal development first. Here is a few ways to start thinking and investing in your most valuable asset – yourself: Find your Why, Discover your strengths, Read a great book, Enrol in further education, Start a good habit.

27. Be happy with nothing.

You can either be angry for what you don’t have or be thankful for what you do have. Happiness is not having more of what you want, but wanting more of what you have.

28. Be humble.

Have a teachable spirit. Allow others to correct you and tell you about yourself. Correction doesn’t feel good, but it’s necessary for growth. It’s something he continues to work on because having an ego never did anything positive for me and usually doesn’t accomplish much for anyone. Arrogance makes a person power hungry – humility makes one a better leader.

29. You don’t need everyone to like you.

We all want to be loved. But you can’t value every relationship the same, and thus you can’t expect everyone to love you the same. Life doesn’t work that way. Think about this: “When people don’t like you, nothing actually happens. The world does not end. You don’t feel them breathing down your neck. In fact, the more you ignore them and just go about your business, the better off you are.”

30. Don’t ever let somebody tell you…you can’t do something. Not even me.

All right? You got a dream… You gotta protect it. People can’t do something themselves, they wanna tell you you can’t do it. If you want something, go get it. Period.

Joel Neoh

Joel Neoh and Chris Gardner, the inspiration behind the movie: The Pursuit of Happyness