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Go From Exhausted To Energized

Simon Ong

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Go From Exhausted To Energized

Simon Ong


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Simon Alexander Ong
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About Simon Ong

The BAE HQ welcomes Simon Alexander Ong, the author of Energise, a global keynote speaker and life coach.

Simon had to deal with many difficult events in his life and was deeply unhappy for some time. He managed to turn his life around through managing his energy effectively. He built his current business for years as a side hustle before taking it full time.

As a child he was the quiet kid at the back of class but now he gets paid to travel to world and deliver talks to packed out crowds.

Listen in if you want to understand how you could do the same.


Show Notes

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Simon Ong Full Transcript

Simon Alexander Ong: [00:00:00] I had to deal with emotions I had never faced in my life. I mean, I lost my mom when I was 17 to a tragic accident, very unexpected. And I think the one that has stuck with me the most were two words, don't wait. And the two words that can set us on our path to fulfillment as I kind of progressed through my career and, and, and starting my business.

Simon Alexander Ong: When I get ideas now, I want to collapse that gap between idea and execution.

Amardeep Parmar: Welcome to the BAE HQ podcast, where we inspire, connect and guide the next generation of British Asian entrepreneurs. Today we have with us Simon Alexander Ong, who is the author of Energise, a motivational speaker and a life coach. How are you doing today, Simon?

Simon Alexander Ong: I'm doing fantastic. Thank you so much. Uh, pleasure to be on this show with you.

Amardeep Parmar: So  I've obviously read your book and we know each other quite well, but for people who aren't aware of your story, aren't aware from where you came from, did you ever think when you were growing up that you'd be where you are today? Like what did [00:01:00] you want to be when you were younger? 

Simon Alexander Ong: Absolutely not. When I was young and I was born here in the United Kingdom to Malaysian Chinese parents who immigrated here, I was very artistic.

Simon Alexander Ong: You know, I won a lot of local competitions. My parents saw I had a bit of an artistic talent, but I never really nurtured that once I became a teenager. Because, you know, a lot of our creativity tends to get suppressed as we grow older because we're told we can't make a career out of that. You won't earn enough money from that.

Simon Alexander Ong: Go for a serious career. And so as I grew older, I began to focus my attention on what would get me into the jobs of being a banker, a lawyer, a doctor or an accountant. And so that creativity got suppressed for, for quite a long time until I eventually became an entrepreneur. And so at that early stage, I had no idea my life would be where it is today, especially because I was a very stereotypical Chinese student.

Simon Alexander Ong: I was introverted. I, I worked hard. I got all the homework done. [00:02:00] I was the one that supplied a lot of my classmates with the answers to uh, their homework and exams and I could never see myself standing up on stage talking to a room of people when i was young i just want to sit at the back and be quiet and just get on with things and so to arrive to where i am today and continue developing myself it's a world away and i think if if the friends that i went to school with when i was younger saw where i am they would be very much surprised.

Amardeep Parmar: And that's a really interesting thing, right? Is that the way we are in school, people think, oh, so we're going to continue, but it's not at all right. And there's a few people I know now who, like I was quite introverted when I was younger, still I would say I am introverted, but now I do this and we can talk on stage.

Amardeep Parmar: And what's interesting that you said about the kind of stereotypical childhood in some ways, and now you've obviously got children yourself. How do you think you're going to be doing differently with her compared to your experience? 

Simon Alexander Ong: I think the main difference for me is I want to encourage her to [00:03:00] explore.

Simon Alexander Ong: At the same time, what I did learn, and I don't want to focus on all the drawbacks and negatives, there were also some positives. And I think one of the key positives I took away growing up in a Asian household was the value of hard work. And so I want her, of course, to do well in whatever she does. I wanted to work hard, but I want her to work hard in something she enjoys and I don't want to stop that.

Simon Alexander Ong: I want to encourage that and let her explore because I think at the end of the day, we are all born with unique gifts and talents. And if we don't give our children the opportunity to explore what they could be, then we're holding back their potential. We're holding back their gifts from the world. You know, I often tell people that we forget how much of a miracle we are.

Simon Alexander Ong: I mean, there is nobody who would be like us. We are so unique, the genetic and DNA makeup of who we are is a one time phenomenon. And the greatest adventure is to understand what that makeup is [00:04:00] for us individually. To explore that, to share that with the world, to bring meaning and purpose into our lives.

Amardeep Parmar: And you've seen what's been quite a journey to find the meaning in your life yourself, right? And I know the story of when you're at Lehman Brothers and things weren't going so well and then you continued it a little while as well. So can you tell people about how you went from that corporate background into what you're doing today and what the realizations along the way?

Simon Alexander Ong: That, that was a tough period because I had these hopes and dreams of making it big in the financial services industry. I still remember picking up the phone to my dad. Once I got that job offer and I said to him I just landed a job a full time job at an American investment bank And you know what dad I'm going to work myself up I'm gonna show them they have invested well in me and then maybe in a few years time I'll think about what I'm gonna do next in my career. Unfortunately 14 months after I joined the company faced bankruptcy [00:05:00] In hindsight, however, for me, it was a beautiful blessing in disguise, because for the first time in my life, I had to reflect on some very simple, but important questions, such as what did success mean to me, and what sort of impact do I want to have in the world.

Simon Alexander Ong: And I've observed as I've grown, not just in my career, but also exited the corporate world and into what I do in terms of coaching, speaking, writing, that many of us are exhausted, not because we're doing too much. But because one, we're doing too little of the things that bring us joy and make us happy, and two, because we're often running someone else's race.

Simon Alexander Ong: So I had this very powerful opportunity I didn't know at the time to really rewrite my story. And so what I did is I started taking small steps forward. What am I going to look at? What is interesting to me? What is my curiosity telling me? And I just started taking small steps forward each day. Now, I was still in the financial industry for the best part of 10 years.

Simon Alexander Ong: I was still in and out of jobs in the years after [00:06:00] the demise of Lehman. But it was that mental beginning that started the ball to where I am today. And so I started going out to seminars, surrounding myself with different people, reading different books all to start changing that environment because I realized that the fastest way to make progress was to redesign my environment to one that was aligned to who and where I wanted to be.

Amardeep Parmar: And obviously you're doing that while you're still working a job because a lot of people think, Oh, you have to quit your job in order to change your environment. And for people listening right now, maybe aren't that happy at their jobs. But they don't really know what to want to do. What advice would you give them so that they can create their own environment?

Amardeep Parmar: And what things should they be doing? 

Simon Alexander Ong: Sure. Well, first of all, I can relate. I was doing a lot of this on the side of a full time job. And the analogy that comes to my mind is I felt like Superman, but without the superpowers. So I would go into work with a white shirt, a tie and a suit jacket. And I would have in my gm bag, my black tshirt and jeans which many people know me for now. And during the day at lunchtimes[00:07:00] 

Simon Alexander Ong: uh, after work, before work started, if there were events, if there were prospect meetings I was booking into my calendar, I would quickly rush into the toilet cubicle, change out of my suit, into my black t shirt and jeans and go out and make those things happen. And I did that for a number of years before I had the courage to fully exit.

Simon Alexander Ong: But I think part of what kept me energized and inspired was reframing the experience of my daytime job. I think when you're doing something that you don't enjoy and is not fulfilling you, it can drain you. Especially if you see no way forward, especially if you see this as a dead end. For me, however, I reframed it to one of gratitude.

Simon Alexander Ong: I started to change my relationship with my daytime job. I said to myself, I'm so grateful I have this job because it allows me to explore my curiosities. It allows me to invest in courses, seminars and books. So instead of seeing it as a dead end, I saw my current job as a [00:08:00] stepping stone to where I wanted to be.

Simon Alexander Ong: And that energized me knowing that I was not going to be here for the long term, but it was a necessary step on the way to the next level, became a powerful reframe. 

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah, absolutely. And I think as many people got nine to five jobs and they might enjoy them in some ways, right? And there's nothing to feel guilty about if you do enjoy your job, but it's also, you can use a job, which maybe you don't want to do for the rest of your life, but you're learning skills along the way.

Amardeep Parmar: And for your job, you'd put in a high pressure situation. So that's enabled you to handle more things you've been able to handle now as well. And you obviously started with the coaching, right? That was your first bit on the side that you were doing. How did you get the confidence to get those first clients and put yourself out there?

Simon Alexander Ong: What is interesting in your question, you asked about confidence, because for me, I don't think you need confidence to begin or to build any business for me confidence always comes after. The first thing we need before confidence is courage, the courage to do something. Perhaps no one in your [00:09:00] Circle of friends or family has done before the courage to take that first step into the unknown the courage to try because once we show ourself, we can do something or that something is working and we start building momentum.

Simon Alexander Ong: That's where confidence comes in, confidence is knowing that we can do something, but we don't know that ahead of time. So for me, the courage came from believing that I had some value to bring. And that was tough at the beginning as it is with any path because when you've just qualified as a coach and you're going out into the market and you don't have that experience, the belief in yourself that you can add value to someone who's going to pay you for your service.

Simon Alexander Ong: That was tough. And so when I started, uh, enrolling clients, I didn't charge very much because for me, I wanted to build my confidence first. And so it's a courage to just say, okay, this is the investment into my services and we can work together for three months. And if you enjoy it, it would be amazing if you could write me a testimonial.

Simon Alexander Ong: I would then use [00:10:00] that to feed my confidence, to get live feedback on what am I doing great. What am I not doing so great? And where can I improve now? As that experience started to build, of course, I had the confidence to charge more. So that's how it started was it was, it began with courage and then the confidence came.

Simon Alexander Ong: And that gave me even more courage to do things I didn't think I could do before. 

Amardeep Parmar: And one of those things obviously is the speaking now, and you can talk at huge events and I've seen the people on stage with, and it seems like almost every other week you're doing some other huge event. And I imagine, like you said, you uh, when you were growing up, you were this quiet school boy, doing his work in the corner, doing his homework.

Amardeep Parmar: And then now, you're on stage, speaking in front of CEOs and leaders from across the world. Obviously, there's many steps along that journey. Do you remember what the first big talk you gave was, and how you felt about it? What was the emotions you went through? Did you even doubt taking that offer, and maybe thinking, maybe I shouldn't have done this? 

Simon Alexander Ong: It's interesting, because I share a story in the book, actually, from my very first [00:11:00] paid speaking engagement. I put so much pressure on myself. To deliver a great talk, I remember preparing ahead of time. I wanted to get to the venue early and I ended up rushing to the venue because I was preparing right into the last minute.

Simon Alexander Ong: And I set up at this venue, which was in Canary Wharf. I got the computer open. We tested the projector. Everything was working. I got out my paper to put some notes on the keyboard of my laptop. And it was at that point that I realized I brought the wrong set of notes with me. So can you imagine facing that challenge on your very first Paid speaking gig and after having to go to the toilet cubicles to give myself a little pep talk.

Simon Alexander Ong: I came back and said, okay. Let's just run with it and trust that you have the knowledge and the content to deliver to the audience now Just for a little bit of context. This wasn't a 20 minute TED talk style presentation. This was a 90 minute workshop So I had to make up a lot of things on the fly. [00:12:00] To some extent it also made me realize that every one of us is winging it to some extent And I learned how to speak without notes.

Simon Alexander Ong: I learned how to buy time. If I needed more time to think, I remember at one point in that presentation, I said, now turn to the person to your left and right and share one thing you're going to put into action on the back of what we just discussed. And as they were doing that, my mind was thinking, okay, what's the next part I'm going to talk about?

Simon Alexander Ong: What's the next point I want to share? And so a lot of that was learned in that very moment. And it gave me the confidence knowing I could deliver something without notes to do even more. So that was the very first experience. And it also reminds me of an interview that Charlie Rose did with Warren Buffett and Bill Gates when Charlie Rose asked Gates, what are some of the lessons that you took from your friendship with Buffett?

Simon Alexander Ong: And he said, there were a lot of lessons, but one that comes to my mind is that of communication, the importance of [00:13:00] communication, because I remember Buffett told me, you know, He said, if you can develop one business skill that would have a phenomenal impact on not just yourself, but the people that you lead, it is communication.

Simon Alexander Ong: Buffett even pointed to an imaginary wall and he said, in the office that I work in, up on my wall, I have only one certificate, and that is the certificate I achieved from the Dale Carnegie Institute for Public Speaking. And he said, that ability to communicate, not just What's on your mind to other people, but also in a way to energize others is one of the most powerful things you can develop in the business world.

Simon Alexander Ong: And when I heard that, I wanted to work on my communication because I realized that if we can influence people through the way that we talk, through the way that we communicate, that's how we begin to build a following. 

Amardeep Parmar: And looking at that, like, because obviously now you don't, you got that confidence because you've built up all these different

Amardeep Parmar: speaking gigs and got the experience there. [00:14:00] What do you think has been the biggest lesson that you took away from that of what's made the biggest difference to how you speak? And is there anything that people listening, maybe if they want to become better speaker, they can do? 

Simon Alexander Ong: I've learned so much from my time in speaking.

Simon Alexander Ong: A couple of things that come to my mind is first, if we want to communicate better. So if you're looking to go up on stage and speak to an audience, there are two things we must have as part of that presentation. Story and messages. Now, if you have a story without a message, it lacks a call to action. It lacks something for the audience to take away.

Simon Alexander Ong: If you have an action without a story, it lacks empathy, emotion, and engagement. So that's one of the things I learned, the power of storytelling. And it was hammered home to me when I saw this Ted talk by Brian Stevenson that he delivered in 2012, he went up on stage, he shared three stories. Just three stories.

Simon Alexander Ong: There were no slides, no visuals, no props. One was about his grandmother, one was about Rosa Parks, one was [00:15:00] about a janitor that he met in the courtroom. After those 18 minutes, the audience stood up and gave him the longest standing ovation in TED history. And within 24 hours... They contributed a million dollars towards his nonprofit.

Simon Alexander Ong: Now that averages at over 55, 000 per minute that he spoke for. Now that doesn't show you the power of story and call to action. I don't know what does. The other tip that comes to my mind is our attention is getting shorter and shorter and shorter. And in speaking our challenge is to keep the audience's attention.

Simon Alexander Ong: So there's two tips that I often share with new speakers. The first is what I call James Bond opening. Now, when you go and watch a James Bond film, what happens is it never starts at the beginning. It will throw you into an action scene, and then it cuts to the theme tune, and then it picks up the pieces of where it left off.

Simon Alexander Ong: Now, imagine if we can do that in our presentations, in our speaking. Instead of beginning with the [00:16:00] usual, we instead drop the audience straight into the action and then pick things up. And then to finish, imagine if we could finish on a crescendo. That when they walk out of the auditorium, we have just energized them.

Simon Alexander Ong: We've just left them with something to reflect on that provokes their thinking. I mean, Maya Angelou once said that people will forget what you said. They will forget who you are, but they will never forget the way you made them feel. And that's the power of delivering an energetic presentation. 

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah, and even looking at that first tip there, people watching this podcast right now, you'll notice that it started with the trailer.

Amardeep Parmar: It started with a little clip, which is going to try to hook your attention. Rather than it going straight into, hi, blah, blah, blah, it goes into, here's something cool that Simon said, I don't know what it is yet, he said a few cool things so far, but it'll go into that first, see if you're interested in that, and that will then help you to listen to the rest of it.

Amardeep Parmar: If it gets into these, like, beginning bits first, straight away, you need, therefore, the context to understand the episode. But it's not [00:17:00] necessarily the most engaging thing to hear first of all. So that's why we throw you into the action first, and it's a tip you can use in any type of, not only just speaking, it's, like, with writing as well.

Amardeep Parmar: Throw people into action, and often I see this with writers, where they start off with a really boring, like, monologue of, like, Hi, I'm this person, blah, blah, blah. It's like, Cool and interesting. I get my attention, especially as an editor, right? When you're reading stuff, it's like, Oh, I'm bored already. I said two lines in.

Amardeep Parmar: And like you said, people have short attention spans, but it's not necessarily just short attention spans. It's, there's so many other things that people can be doing and there's so much competition for our attention. So if you want to get a message across, you've got to do it in a way. That's going to.

Amardeep Parmar: Keep their attention because they're thinking right now, like, okay, so what's the video? We'll watch the next video. Or do I do this? Or do I go outside or do I do that? And that's what's going on in the world right now. And one of the things you've done overseas now taken all the different experiences you've had and put into a longer format, right?

Amardeep Parmar: With your book energize, which got released. Was it, it was, was it this year or last year now? 

Simon Alexander Ong: Yeah. It was April end of April, 2022 this year. [00:18:00] 

Amardeep Parmar: It's been a long year. Yeah. This year. Yeah. Um. And can you tell us about that? Because obviously many people, I know many people who have this idea of I want to write a book one day and for you it came earlier than maybe you thought it would.

Amardeep Parmar: So how was that initial process of first of all getting the book deal and then deciding what you're going to write and going through all of that? And how happy are you with the result and happy with you that you did it and you can show it like people now that's my name on the bookshelf. 

Simon Alexander Ong: Well, first of all, in terms of how happy I am with it, I'm just grateful that Penguin Random House believed in what I had to offer and they gave me the opportunity to write that book and also the fact that it got endorsements from the likes of Simon Sinek, Marshall Goldsmith, Marie Forleo and so on.

Simon Alexander Ong: For me, that was a very. A dream come true. Anything else I said to myself was a bonus. So, for me, I'm just enjoying the journey. Um, and [00:19:00] if I get opportunities on the back of it, great. I'm, I'm privileged. I'm lucky. I, I, I know that. And I'm just enjoying it because there were many challenges that I faced along the way.

Simon Alexander Ong: And when people look at it on the outside, they're like, Simon, amazing, you've got this book. It's, it's by Penguin. It's got all these incredible endorsements. And I'm like, actually, there's a reality behind that that most are blind to. You know, I got the deal in April 2020, which was also the same month that the United Kingdom and many parts of the world entered its first lockdown.

Simon Alexander Ong: It was also the month where I became a parent for the first time. So now, can you imagine having to write 65, 000 words while raising a newborn in the background of COVID? With no family around because they were abroad and also having to adapt your business because, well, all of the events that you were due to speak at have now been canceled.

Simon Alexander Ong: And so for me, 2020 and the first half of 2021 were [00:20:00] one of the most challenging personally and professionally. And it was tough. There were moments I didn't think I was going to finish the book. And in some ways, I think that the journey I was on resulted in the book that people now read. Its experience that I was going through that translated itself into the words that people see on that page.

Simon Alexander Ong: And since it's been released, I mean, it's been incredible, it's been surreal. It's been dreamlike almost, to see something you spent years on come to fruition. And for me, looking at people taking pictures of themselves on social media and tagging me, whether it's in America, it's in Europe, it's in Asia, it's in the Middle East.

Simon Alexander Ong: Just humbles me in terms of having that opportunity because I know it's not an easy opportunity to write a book with Penguin. And so for me, it just humbles me to know I was given that belief. I was given that support, uh, and that backing. 

Amardeep Parmar: And I  think what's interesting as well, cause I've read the book is that there's also different chapters that can [00:21:00] apply to so many people's lives and you, like I said, like so many people share the book and some of the context of it, is there any bits of the book that you find really interesting yourself and you feel like sometimes don't get enough attention or you want people to maybe ask you to talk about that part more?

Simon Alexander Ong: Two parts come to my mind. The first part of the book, which actually I think the first part of any book, which doesn't get enough attention is the acknowledgement section. For me, that was one of the most enjoyable parts to put together, even though it was very short, uh, it was very enjoyable because it reminded me when I put that acknowledgement section together that we never get to the top alone, and I often tell people, yes, it's my name on the cover of that book.

Simon Alexander Ong: Yes, it's, uh, My name that people will be following once they read the book, but it's important to look at the acknowledgement sections to know that it's because of my wife. It's because of my family. It's because of my friends, my mentors, my coaches, my circle that has helped me get to where I am today.

Simon Alexander Ong: And that for me is one of the most [00:22:00] overlooked sections in a book. Secondly in terms of parts of book that I really enjoyed writing or putting together, it was the second chapter and the second chapter is all about elevating our consciousness, in particular why expressing gratitude with intention is so powerful.

Simon Alexander Ong: Also, because it was one of the most personal parts of the book, I, I lost my mom when I was 17 to a tragic accident, very unexpected, and that shaped me a lot as I entered my adult years, and so going back and reflecting on that part of my life and taking the lessons from that to share with the reader.

Simon Alexander Ong: That made it very personal to me. And so that's the one chapter that I always share with people is the one that I was most proud of putting together because it was very personal and it's one that I hope people will connect with. 

Amardeep Parmar: So obviously, as you know, with myself, my dad passed away a couple of months ago, right?

Amardeep Parmar: And it's shaping my decisions already at the moment. [00:23:00] But how do you think your, like, mum's passing at that time? Because obviously you're so young and it's just about as you're about to become an adult, just about to go to university, all these big life changes at the same time. How do you think it affected you in terms of your decision making at that time?

Amardeep Parmar: And what are the lessons you take even today from what your mum taught you? 

Simon Alexander Ong: It was tough. I'm not going to lie, because when I was 17, back then, there was no focus on mental health. I mean, it's a different world today. There's a lot more resources. People talk about it more openly. There's hashtags about it.

Simon Alexander Ong: There's people recording videos about it. So there's a lot of resources that we can access. Back then, there was no internet. I didn't have anyone to talk to about it. In fact, I didn't feel comfortable talking about it to anyone because I knew that when I went back to the school playground, if I started sharing it, there will be more questions.

Simon Alexander Ong: And I wasn't sure I was ready to answer those questions yet because I had to [00:24:00] deal with emotions I had never faced in my life. I mean, mentally, I expected my great grandparents or grandparents to go first, as many of us do, naturally, given their age. But I never expected the first deaf in my family to be my mom.

Simon Alexander Ong: And so for me, it was very tough and it actually made me more introverted for a couple of years. And in some ways, when I went to university, I was the only one from my school that went to my university. In some ways, getting that clean slate was, was a blessing because I made new friends. I started from scratch and I started building my networks.

Simon Alexander Ong: Nobody knew about that past. And so. It gave me the confidence to live again a new life. 

Amardeep Parmar: Do you feel like you hid it on purpose from those people? You didn't, I guess you didn't tell them, yeah? 

Simon Alexander Ong: Yeah, I hid it on purpose because I found it difficult to process myself. I mean, I share an element of that in the book where I would [00:25:00] often just lock myself in the family bathroom, close my eyes and just remember those memories of when my mum was alive.

Simon Alexander Ong: And I think there's so many... Life lessons we can take from that, as you would when that happens to you. And I think the one that has stuck with me the most were two words, Don't wait. And I realized that don't wait can be our greatest antidote to regret. And the two words that can set us on our path to fulfillment.

Simon Alexander Ong: Because it really showed me how fragile life was, especially because this was unexpected. And that our life can be swept away from under our feet at an instant. And so as I kind of progressed through my career and started my business, when I get ideas now, I want to collapse that gap between idea and execution, because I know the shorter that gap, the smaller the gap, then the quicker the feedback I'm going to get to move forward.

Simon Alexander Ong: And that to me [00:26:00] is important because life is fragile. Life cannot be taken for granted, and I think that when we fully appreciate how short life is, that's when we can begin truly living. 

Amardeep Parmar: It's true. It's the, the Stoic principle of memento mori, right? Everybody must die someday. And remembering that is what makes life worth living, because if we had time for infinity, there's no point in doing anything, right?

Amardeep Parmar: Because you could just do it tomorrow, the day after. And valuing that day and seizing that day is so important. And it's doing it in a way which is healthy at the same time, right? You don't want to be just paranoid that you're going to die any day now. But think about, okay, look, you've only got a certain amount of time to surf.

Amardeep Parmar: What's the best way you can use that? How can you use that positively? And obviously now you've taken a big focus on energy and how that can help people and how, because you know how much it's helped you, right? And how much it's helped your family and people listening right now, maybe people low on energy, right?

Amardeep Parmar: Maybe they want to do something. If they've got an idea and they. they don't want to wait to do it, but they just don't feel capable right now of having the energy to do [00:27:00] that. What advice would you give them?

Simon Alexander Ong: Well, the first thing to do is to focus on your physical energy. So when I, when I talk about energy, I think of it in four dimensions, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

Simon Alexander Ong: Physical for me is the first foundation of managing our energy better. If there’s anything that COVID has taught us is that without your health, you can't do anything. And there's a popular saying that goes to the healthy, they have many wishes, hopes, and dreams. But to the sick, they have only one. And so for me, it's addressed your physical wellbeing first.

Simon Alexander Ong: Now, once you've got that in place, then you can start asking yourself the bigger questions, you know, what does success mean to you? What sort of impact do you want to have? And the same way I did to myself all those years ago. And then it's about creating that environment around you. Now, naturally we're going to go through

Simon Alexander Ong: different cycles. You know, some of us will be night owls. Some of us will be early risers. But once you start putting an environment around you that helps promote better energy, what happens is that you can feel more inspired on a regular basis. And that's what I [00:28:00] started doing. I took part in masterminds.

Simon Alexander Ong: I changed the books that I read. I started following people that inspired me. Uh, people that could show me what is possible. And that changed the energetic framework inside of me. I focused on possibilities over limitations. I focused on how I could use my resources better rather than complaining about a lack of resources.

Simon Alexander Ong: And so that really started to reconfigure my mental circuitry. 

Amardeep Parmar: I  like to talk about physical health as well. I've been thinking about it myself. It's that sometimes You get this idea and you want to put your energy into it and you start neglecting, like going to the gym, you start neglecting that stuff.

Amardeep Parmar: I think a lot of people do that, right? They might be stressed out listening right now and thinking about, Oh no, I can't do that. I've got to do this instead. But people forget how much that cascades, right? Is that if you're physically unwell, then that affects your brain, it affects your gut, it affects everything about you, right?

Amardeep Parmar: And you can't work at your best if you're not your fittest. And there's obviously people going to be dealing with different things, but [00:29:00] it's about how you can get to your fittest state. Right. And what's best for you. And when did you start prioritizing your physical health? Was it while you're still in banking?

Amardeep Parmar: Was it like, when did this kind of come about? 

Simon Alexander Ong: Yeah, this was In my second job after Lehman Brothers, I moved to a hedge fund where the environment was very toxic. I would often be shouted at, yelled at, and we were seen to be essentially like T boys and girls. I would often be in the office around 5 or 6 in the morning, and sometimes as late as 12 or 1 in the morning the next day when there was client entertainment.

Simon Alexander Ong: With that sort of lifestyle, you can already imagine how my diet would have suffered, my sleep would have suffered, and time to exercise would have just been non-existent. And so, it got to a point where I remember stumbling back home early in the morning, going straight to the bathtub. So avoid facing my now wife, she was my [00:30:00] girlfriend then, and I just didn't want to face her to talk about what happened and I remember she was crying away in that, in that bathroom because she was just seeing me get wrecked, uh, I was using drink, I was using nights out as a way to just escape that harsh reality directionless.

Simon Alexander Ong: And my health was really suffering. I was overweight and I just looked a mess. And after a deep conversation with her, a very honest conversation with her, I handed in my resignation to that company and I started to focus on my physical health. So while I was still in finance, because remember I was in finance still for nearly a decade, I deliberately chose my next job in finance to be something less stressful.

Simon Alexander Ong: So I went from the, the banking world, the hedge fund world to the asset management world where I put myself into a research role, which was far more nine to five than my previous roles to give me the time [00:31:00] after work and on weekends to address my physical health. So that's really where it began. And then it was accelerated when I proposed to

Simon Alexander Ong: to my now wife, because I then went to the tailor. I got a nice suit put together and I said, now I've got this beautiful suit tailored. I can't put on any more weight, but I can lose weight. And so I started to put together health regime. And at the beginning, it was just, okay, I'm going to put this together in preparation for the wedding.

Simon Alexander Ong: But once we got into it. It just became a habit from there. 

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah, and you mentioned there about the resignation from the hedge fund. What was the trigger for the final resignation to work for yourself full time?

Simon Alexander Ong: It's interesting because I was very reluctant to make that jump. And I think a lot of people from the Asian background would probably relate.

Simon Alexander Ong: You know, when you've grown up where your family has wanted you to get a job that was secure, that had good benefits, uh, that had a good pension. I was pushed into this choice of having to decide, do I [00:32:00] continue with my daytime job? And only serve three clients in the time I have outside of work.Or do I quit put a hundred percent my energy into developing this business and see where it could go? So I got to this point where I had to make that call it took me four or five months of back and forth discussing with my, why if discussing with close friends on what do I choose and I started to do a lot of visualizing work.

Simon Alexander Ong: This was towards the end of the year. So around Christmas time about what would be possible if I just channel my energy into this business. And so just before the new year came around, I remember writing that resignation note. I walked into my Boss's office because he happened to be working through the Christmas and New Year period.

Simon Alexander Ong: And I was, I was sweating inside because I knew that once I handed in my resignation and moved into the entrepreneurial path, it would be very difficult to go back. It would be [00:33:00] very difficult to go back to this life. And I put it down. He accepted it. And suddenly, I felt this weight off my shoulder. It was almost as if the life I was meant for was now starting to unravel.

Simon Alexander Ong: And from that moment, I started focusing my time on building this business. I'm going to be honest, I had no idea where I was going to lead. As you do when you start at the beginning, you have no idea where it's going to lead. But one of the things I've noticed is that once you begin on a path, something that you enjoy, something that gets you excited and out of bed every morning, once you begin on that path, opportunities start to present themselves to you, especially if that is something that is a gift for you.

Simon Alexander Ong: And I started to enjoy helping people. I started to enjoy adding value. And I noticed people loved the energy that I brought to those meetings and conversations that they wanted to help and support me. Again, things you would never know ahead of time, but sometimes we just have to trust in the universe.

Amardeep Parmar: And what I love there as well is how long it took you to decide to quit. Because sometimes [00:34:00] there's this idolization of just quit your job, do it now. And I didn't do that. Like I was terrified to quit my job. And lots of people I know who have done very well afterwards, they took a long time to make a decision.

Amardeep Parmar: So if you're listening and you're nervous about making that decision, that's absolutely normal. It's not like every successful entrepreneur just did it straight away. And obviously now like you've had your book and you've gone through so many great talks and speeches, but what does the future look like for you?

Amardeep Parmar: What's the next thing for Simon? 

Simon Alexander Ong: It's interesting because I think as I've progressed in this journey, Amardeep, I've also become wiser in terms of how I set goals, how I create my vision. When I first started, it was like most people. I wanted to earn good money. I wanted to get good press and media. I wanted to you know get a book out and so on.

Simon Alexander Ong: You have a list of things that you want to do. But over time, and it's also something I learned from the executive coach, Marshall Goldsmith, is that happiness and achievement are independent of one another. But we can get so often caught up in them. We [00:35:00] think they're related, i. e. my happiness is related to what I achieve.

Simon Alexander Ong: And there's a powerful story he shared with me. He said, Michael Phelps, one of the most decorated Olympians of all time, 25 gold medals. The first thing he thought about when he retired from being an Olympic athlete was killing himself because his identity was so aligned to him performing at the Olympics and winning those medals.

Simon Alexander Ong: Now that he retired, who was he? What was he going to do? And so what I learned from that is that you can achieve but your emotional well being should not be tied to that. Otherwise, what does that mean you are now? If you're saying to yourself, when this happens, when that happens, then I will feel, then I will do X.

Simon Alexander Ong: Then what's happening is that you're not living in the present. In fact, you end up living in this tragic scenario, and I think the Dalai Lama quoted this. You end up living in this tragic scenario of living as if you're never going to die, and then dying having never really lived. And so, for me, understanding those [00:36:00] two things were independent, and my goal now...

Simon Alexander Ong: –is simply to be better than who I was yesterday, simply to be better than who I was yesterday. Now, if that is the case, if we're focused on just being better than who we were yesterday, the rewards will eventually come. And so for me, yes, I do have a vision of things I want to do, but at the same time, I'm not attached to whether it happens or not.

Simon Alexander Ong: And that gives me an element of freedom to live in the present. 

Amardeep Parmar: What do you enjoy the most at the present? Is it the speaking? Is it the writing? What's the thing that brings you most joy? 

Simon Alexander Ong: At the moment, the thing that brings me most joy aside from spending time with my, my little one and the family is speaking because with speaking,

Simon Alexander Ong: now, I'm speaking to many different audiences. So I just got back from speaking in Dubai. Next week, I'm flying to Malta to speak. I'm going to Barcelona. Next year, I'm going to the U. S. and Egypt. Every audience is different. Every culture is different. And that means they're going to have very different questions.

Simon Alexander Ong: And I love that [00:37:00] challenge. I love being challenged with the questions the audience throws my way, but also understanding different perspectives. Speaking for me is one of the most powerful ways to spread our message and to spread our views and thoughts and insights about the world 

Amardeep Parmar: So we're going to move on to the quick round questions now at the end. So first one is you can shout out three people that audience should be following or should be paying attention to who would they be?

Simon Alexander Ong: First one is easy. It's the person that I dedicate my book to. If you've read a copy of my book, you'll know who I'm going to mention. And that is my wife, Laurie Wang. Because she has been with me since I was in those first jobs when I went through my dark days, when I went through the setbacks and challenges to where I am today, so she's seen everything behind the scenes and without her support, I don't think I would be anywhere close to where I am today.

Simon Alexander Ong: So that would be my first recommendation. Second would be, The Celebrity Ching He  [00:38:00] Huang, and that is because I think what she's done for Chinese cuisine in raising the profile of it both here in the UK and in the US has been incredible. And the third is someone I only got to meet in the last couple of years.

Simon Alexander Ong: Actually it was through COVID I got to connect with him and I've since met him a number of times in person. And that is Ali Abdaal, uh, what he's created as well, from coming from a job in, in the medical profession to building an incredible following on his YouTube channel. And now he is also in the process of writing a book is amazing to see what we can do with the resources available to us.

Amardeep Parmar: That's awesome. Yeah. And everyone listening, make sure you give them a follow and check them out. And the next question is, what can the people listening today, if they want to get in touch with you, what's something you could help them with? What should they get in touch with you about? 

Simon Alexander Ong: So I would encourage people to get in touch with me if

Simon Alexander Ong: anything from what we have discussed today has resonated if they want to find out [00:39:00] more or if they want to discover more about how we could work together. I do coaching, so if that is something you're looking to explore, then drop me a message. Let's have a powerful conversation and see what we can uncover and explore together.

Amardeep Parmar: And on the flip side, what's something which people in the audience could help you with? What's something which you're looking for, you're looking to grow in some way? What could somebody listening maybe help you with?

Simon Alexander Ong: Well, first of all, if you haven't already, do check out the book, uh, do have a read of it.

Simon Alexander Ong: That will give you a lot of insight, not just into my journey, but also my thoughts and the way I see the world. And then if you, if you know of anyone looking for a speaker, uh, somebody that can energize their community and their audience. Then that would be great if we can speak.

Amardeep Parmar: That's awesome. And thanks so much for coming on.

Amardeep Parmar: Do you have any final words for our audience ?

Simon Alexander Ong: Embrace your uniqueness. Embrace your uniqueness. I mentioned earlier that we [00:40:00] are born as a one time phenomenon, and I think the greatest adventure is to discover what we were put here to do, and to become that, and to share that with the world. So embrace your uniqueness.

Simon Alexander Ong: There is power in your difference, and it's what is going to make you stand out. 

Amardeep Parmar: Thank you so much. 

Simon Alexander Ong:  Thank you so much for having me.

Amardeep Parmar: Thank you for listening to the BAE of HQ podcast today. In our mission to inspire, connect, and guide the next generation of British Asian entrepreneurs, it would mean so much to us if you could subscribe to our channel, leave a review, and share this with your friends.

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