Welcome to Episode 40!
Our guests for STIMY Episode 40 are He Ruiming & Goh Wei Choon.
He Ruiming & Goh Wei Choon are the Singaporean/Malaysia duo behind The Woke Salaryman: an incredible personal finance page that educates people about making better financial and life choices through the use of simple albeit beautiful comics.
Since 2019, they have rapidly grown to over 204k followers on Instagram & 218k on Facebook – and we spend this STIMY interview uncovering how they first met and began building their Woke Salaryman brand: creating a consistent publishing schedule, dividing the work among themselves, getting their first piece of sponsored content, negotiating with clients, their thoughts on what the secrets are to virality, expanding the team and more.
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Who are He Ruiming & Goh Wei Choon?
Ruiming is the copywriter behind the Woke Salaryman whereas Wei Choon creates all of the illustrations, and they share how their interest started from childhood, which led to the two of them meeting first in poly.
- 3:27: Wei Choon’s love of animation since young
- 4:39: The impact that the 1997 economic crisis had on Ruiming
- 5:53: How Ruiming was blogging & writing gossipy columns in school
- 7:44: How Wei Choon & Ruiming met at Ngee Ann Polytechnic
- 12:23: Not letting anything sully his art
The Importance of Personal Finance
However it soon became clear that “art” or passion was no longer enough. And both of them shared the pivotal moment that led to them taking personal finance seriously, which involved many discussions over how they could make money.
- 13:57: Wei Choon’s wake up moment when he graduated with a $25k debt
- 21:23: The meaning behind creating “impact”
- 25:27: The “secret” to creating viral content
- 26:14: Where virality was attached to their sense of self-worth
- 31:52: How Wei Choon got into personal finance
- 33:03: What “being rich” means to Wei Choon
- 34:10: Writing the viral article on saving $100,000 before turning 30
Starting The Woke Salaryman
Ruiming’s viral Medium content, later illustrated by Wei Choon, became the start of the Woke Salaryman. And they candidly share the complexities behind running a content creation business while staying true to their values.
- 37:48: The start of the Woke Salaryman
- 39:31: Figuring out the division of labour
- 42:40: How they stayed consistent in publishing regular content
- 46:56: Discovering that financial planners were stealing the Woke Salaryman content
- 53:38: Planning to go full-time on the Woke Salaryman
- 56:34: The “secret” behind the virality of the Woke Salaryman, which is now over 204k strong on Instagram!
- 57:18: Building a passionate community
- 59:35: Getting their first sponsored post from CPF
- 1:01:49: Staying true to their values & turning away opportunities
- 1:06:02: Negotiating with clients
- 1:07:25: Expanding the team for the Woke Salaryman
- 1:15:45: Biggest highlights to date
- 1:17:31: What drives Wei Choon & Ruiming
- 1:21:32: Tangible steps for people to begin their personal finance journey
- 1:25:27: Advice for content creators
- 1:28:32: What Clubhouse means to them
If you’re looking for more inspirational stories of people in the content creation space, check out:
- Karl Mak: Co-Founder of Hepmil Media Group (SGAG, PGAG, MGAG), which is known for creating viral memes around the Southeast Asian region
- Guy Kawasaki – Chief Evangelist of Canva & Apple, Podcaster, Blogger, Venture Capitalist & Serial Entrepreneur
- Kai Yuan Ng – Co-Founder of Our Grandfather Story, a viral Singapore-based digital publisher that publishes timeless, untold stories from Southeast Asia
- Kyne Santos – Mathematician & Drag Queen who creates viral Tik Toks on maths to nearly 1 million followers
- Maurizio Leo – Software Engineer & Founder of the Perfect Loaf (one of the most prominent sourdough blogs around)
- Darrion Nguyen aka Lab Shenanigan – the Asian Millennial Tik Tok version of Bill Nye the Science Guy
If you enjoyed this episode with The Woke Salaryman, you can:
- Tag us at @TheWokeSalaryman & @sothisismywhy
- Tweet your thoughts & takeaways from the episode to Ling Yah here!
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Send an Audio Message
I’d love to include more listener comments & thoughts into future STIMY episodes! If you have any thoughts to share, a person you’d like me to invite, or a question you’d like answered, send an audio file / voice note to [email protected]
Some of the things we talked about in this STIMY Episode can be found below:
- The Woke Salaryman: Website, Instagram, Facebook
- He Ruiming: Website, LinkedIn
- Wei Choon Goh: LinkedIn, Choonzord
- Non-Revenue-Generating Cat
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STIMY Ep 40: The Woke Salaryman (He Ruiming & Wei Choon Goh)
Wei Choon Goh: it was 25,000 Singapore dollars. That was my debt to my university. That was the wake up point. I knew I called the woke salaryman not because we are trying to tag onto the social justice movements in the West or whatever.
It's just literally for me is I woke up to the fact that I'm an adult now. I have real expenses. I have real life problems, real adult problems, which are money related that I need to sort out.
So it was a wake up point when I looked at my bank account like woah, my net worth is minus $25,000, but it's a great Louis CK joke. Like when you have that kind of debt, right?
You're not even broke. I need $25,000 to be officially broke and I have $0. I have less than zero and all my favorite jokes on Louis CK, he said if something's free, I can't afford it. Because I have negative money.
I thought that was really funny and it related very hard to me. So that was my, wake up point, really.
Ling Yah: Hey, everyone!
Welcome to episode 40 of the So This Is My Why podcast. I'm your host and producer, Ling Yah, And today is the very first time we have two guests on at the same time. They're none other than Ruiming and Wei Choon, the copywriter and illustrator behind the Woke Salaryman. A viral page that was set up with the intention of helping people make better financial and life choices through education.
They started in 2019, beginning with a viral post that grooming wrote, about how he saved a hundred thousand dollars before he turned 30. And the Woke Salaryman has since evolved and has become a place where they share personal stories, tips and advice on personal finance, through a series of simple easy-to-understand comics.
Everything from the rear reason, you'll being underpaid and unfair workplace practices to what you should consider before changing periods in your thirties.
This was a wide ranging conversation.
And we covered everything from how they first met in poly to beginning the Woke Salaryman, why they do sponsored posts, the secret to virality and what they think of clubhouse and its potential
Wei Choon Goh: I started to come to Singapore to study when I was seven years old. So what would happen is that I would wake up like 4 or 5:00 AM in the morning. My mum would shake me awake and then pushed me on a school bus. The bus would go through customs. I had to go down, chop my passport and then I would go to school.
And then after that I have to do the same thing on the way back. So I would come home typically 8, 9pm. I didn't move to Singapore when I was 18 years old in Polytechnic, then I lived with my aunt for a while. Then I eventually went to my old place here.
I think a lot of my peers don't really care or really go and highlight the fact that I'm a Malaysian except when I speak Chinese or the
I speak like when I speak Chinese, It's very clear that I speak with a very strong accent, but apart from that, it was more like shared experiences that you don't have.
For example, like when we were 18, a lot of my friends in Singapore, guy, friends all went to the national service. I was actually called out to do national service in Malaysia, but I just keep deferring and postponing it because of my studies.
And eventually they abolished it. So I didn't end up serving, but I've heard enough stories from my. guy, friends in Singapore that I probably, if I had to write, I could fit in that I did. And I have, , stories
Ling Yah: And was animation something that was already very prominent for you when you were young?
Wei Choon Goh: Yeah, it was. So I always loved watching cartoons. I always loved to draw, but it was really in secondary school then, I had a good friend of mine. His name is Yee Hwa, and we always draw together. So things like our social studies textbook, for example, we would vandalize the pictures real life leaders of Singapore and Malaysia, and we'll draw things on top.
And that was really fun for me, like the idea of using drawing tell stories, even though there was already a story underneath. Like, for example, if Lee Kwan Yew was doing this, there was one picture that we did, and then we just drew like a wok and then some spatulas. It a funny thing. you know?
So that made it very clear to me that yeah, because they recontextualizing things with drawing the power of drawing to tell stories. That was really very prominent then.
I never had a good business. So even now, like this one my weaknesses. But I remember there was a classmate that I had, he realized that me and my friend, Yee How, we are good at drawing. So why he wanted to do was to draw pornographic pictures.
So he said I will draw the disgusting bitch. You just draw the face and make it look nice. There was a potential business partner waiting for me, but I just say no to that.
So that didn't happen. Yeah.
He Ruiming: I mean, it'd
Wei Choon Goh: be, yeah, very
Ling Yah: different trajectory.
I understand that the 1997 economy crisis had quite a large impact on your family life growing up. Could you share a bit about that?
He Ruiming: I think that was the peak of my dad's career. after that, he never really earned as much as he did again.
So my dad, I think the most, you earn at a job was 4,000 bucks, which sounds a lot for his time. But I do know of parents, who earned like 10, 20k in 1970, which is quite crazy lah.
I think the impact that that brought up all my family was that my family went through large financial stress because my family actually bought an investment condo. It was way out of their means based on like conservative investing, right?
Like because my dad, the highest he earned was 4k. Then my mum, the max she earned was $2500 after working for 30 years. So it's quite insane, right? and my dad got retrained and a few months later, my mom also got retrenched.
So we actually went for like a long period of time without a job and actually that was when the family started to scale back on Things we used to enjoy lah .
My dad had to sell off his car I mean there toys I wanted I could not have.
That was probably my first real encounter with money on a larger sense of how it can affect one's lifestyle .
Wei Choon Goh: He was just unhappy and afraid of why I have less toys. You understood gratification was put aside for now. Yeah,
Ling Yah: And while this was going on, I understand you were also blogging. And writing gossipy articles in school.
He Ruiming: So that was 97. I was only primary school. I only started blogging in like 2002 when I entered secondary school.
In a way it's like a power play. I felt like, you know,, by being the school's publisher on like gossip and like still be observations. you kinda attract attention in that way.
So that was my first foray into writing and realizing that actually I'm I can be quite entertaining, right?
Wei Choon Goh: So you had a blog that people would read?
So at its hay day, what was your traffic light?
He Ruiming: Not that high like maybe two to three hundred To 200 patient views. four small school block is not bad where you it's a very niche publication.
So it's like, the drawing is times enjoy Mondays is like the times, which I felt like, yeah, quite decent. Maybe it's like a 10% penetration rate.
Ling Yah: And then at what point do you decide that you wanted to make your career?
He Ruiming: Wow actually back in 2006 there always like prominent bloggers, like Xia Xue in Singapore.
Like there was the whole kind of people. But then I actually felt like it's too late for me to maintain a blog because these people already came before it. So I should just. Fall in line because I, feel like I didn't make it up. my content just wasn't good enough.
Wei Choon Goh: So this was a year of bloggers, right. It was before influencers influencers, and quick social media stuff. It was like blogspot.comm called. Exactly.
He Ruiming: Yeah. So I got really discouraged and I figured like, yeah, I should just be a publication, and stuff, because I felt like back then journalism was a more viable career than creating content or blogging.
Ling Yah: So you ended up going to the Polytechnic and waging for what use and after. So how do you two meet?
He Ruiming: So Wei Choon was this funny guy from the other cohort. I just remember doing year three we had internships and there was this option to do internships at our school.
Wei Choon Goh: Because we were in the same year but different cohorts
then they would take the
So he's in the air. Or we met because I was working on my internship, which was an internal internship, So I was working for the school newspaper, the school publications, and then he was writing for the school
He Ruiming: publication. I had had a few friends who were retainer. So, when I visited them, like Wei Choon was there and I remember like, the first time I met Wei Choon, Wei Choon was doing like some handstand.
I was doing a
Wei Choon Goh: headstand in the office . I don't know why.
He Ruiming: Yeah. Cool. I think that's the first impression
Wei Choon Goh: I have of him.
He Ruiming: think I was probably. The only way to
Wei Choon Goh: I use that tactic many times to be a success. Yes
He Ruiming: Okay. So you're watching this, don't do Hills then
Wei Choon Goh: Okay.
Ling Yah: You guys were doing stupid stuff together as well, I heard.
Wei Choon Goh: Oh, extremely stupid. My first memory of Ruiming actually was that for no reason. I don't understand who does this and why we did it, 10:00 PM at night. And he's like, you want to go and throw plastic bags and water down the, because our school was on the 10th floor of this tall building.
So you on a good plastic bag, fluid water and throw it down. Okay, sure. I didn't notice a thing, but I said do it, and it was very funny. higher up. Then we throw it down and then we'll hit these oil tanks at the here. It was there and it was very fun. I remember
He Ruiming: the first time I did it was in primary school and I was marveling how something so soft.
can cause such grief. It makes such a big sound, but yeah, somehow I decided to get
Wei Choon Goh: people to do the joy. That was my first memory. Yeah.
He Ruiming: I think smoking is worse.
Ling Yah: And I think Wei Choon, you wanted to make films about Singapore when you were in politics.
Wei Choon Goh: Definitely in uni, because in poly, I was really into becoming an animator and working in Japan to make animes.
I was really deep into anime at that point in time. So that phase to really want to do Singaporeanimation came later when I started then reading up about the more nuance animation history. So not just any popular at the time that I read a lot about animation history. And I wanted to express locality through film. So I realized there was not a lot of films about Singapore that really show what Singapore was like, and I wanted to do that.
Actually I did it as my master's my master's thesis, actually for animation or was there, I wrote about expressing Singapore national identity through animation and doing this as anonn Singaporean, because I'm Malaysian. And also it was kind of like an outsider insider kind of thing. I've been here a long time, but technically outsider, what is it like and how would I capture the real essence of what Singapore is like in a film. That was my dream for quite a while.
Ling Yah: I get the feeling that you are not afraid to just call out what you see.
Wei Choon Goh: Nowadays, now that I'm trying to pay back a mortgage. And then I'm thinking about maybe marriage and children, things like that. Well, it isn't,
we've talked about it. would need to settle my, finances first which is why I got interested in finance, started asking him about it because realized very early on that in Singapore, it's not replaced to do art about Singapore, because if you want to be truthful, you want to get some of the real juicy stuff.
The real, the good in the bed, the yin and the yang, which is very important for any genuine and honest expression, you will not be able to get government funding. And there's not a lot of other funding sources in Singapore do that.
So I am not born into great wealth and privilege. My family would not have been able to support me, just experimenting and expressing myself through animation.
So I need to first find my own food thing and make my own privilege so that I can then educate the next few years of my life to like take a long sabbatical and then just make stories about Singapore, or the truth truth that I would have been without anyone supporting me or possibly censoring me. .
Ling Yah: I imagine when you graduated that you were not quite of the mindset of, I will never let anything sully my art.
Would that be right thing to say?
Wei Choon Goh: Yeah, I will. I was super because I wanted to be in animation for very long time. Actually, when I was in poly, I was just dreaming about doing none of this mass comm stuff and just doing animation. and I remember telling myself at one point. So naive, you know, looking back.
So two statements that I kind of kind of told him, I said, I told him, I said, if I could lend $3,000 a month, I would do whatever the job is, animation wise.
If I could just under 3000 dollars a month, just doing animation, I would do it. Do whatever it is, I'll do it. Which is very naive and stuff because animators that work in anime, for example, a lot of them don't earn that much in the first place. And to earn less than $3,000 in Singapore can be quite difficult, especially if you want to maybe start a family or have a mortgage going on.
And then the other thing I told myself was that if I ever lost my passion for animation, I might as well kill myself, because that was my only identity or I defined it as such lah. Very naive thing anything to say that because gradually as I went to uni and I found out that there are other ways to tell stories that would be more efficient, because animation requires a lot of.
Manual labor to create, even now it is a lot of technological advancements that make it very easy for singular people to make animation. It still requires a great deal of work.
And for example, we do comics now. Comics is an easier way to do it. I mean, it's still requires a great deal of effort, but if I want to do, and I'm working on some stories right now on my own that I haven't really dealt into properly, but I will do it primarily in comics.
And when it take off and then I'll get investors and then I'll get somebody to animate it. I wouldn't be doing it myself individually. Not efficient lah.
Ling Yah: You said earlier, that animators don't even earn 3000, but when you graduated that you had 20,000 in debt. So how did you think about dealing with that debt?
Wei Choon Goh: it was 25,000 Singapore dollars. That was my debt to my university. That was the wake up point. I knew I called the woke salaryman not because we are trying to tag onto the social justice movements in the West or whatever.
It's just literally for me is I woke up to the fact that I'm an adult now. I have real expenses. I have real life problems, real adult problems, which are money related that I need to sort out.
So it was a wake up point when I looked at my bank account like woah, my net worth is minus $25,000, but it's a great Louis CK joke. Like when you have that kind of debt, right?
You're not even broke. I need $25,000 to be officially broke and I have $0. I have less than zero and all my favorite jokes on Louis CK, he said if something's free, I can't afford it. Because I have negative money.
I thought that was really funny and it related very hard to me. So that was my, wake up point, really. And what I did first off was going to ask this guy what to do, because he, I think woke up earlier than me.
I knew that this guy knew a lot about stocks and investments, so I just kept asking him this was before we started.
Ling Yah: I think you also read Rich Dad Poor Dad, which had an impact on you too.
Wei Choon Goh: Yes. Rich Dad Poor Dad was great because it was so easy to understand
The biggest take away for me from Rich Dad Poor Dad is just mindset is extremely important because that is the premise of the, he has a rich dad, and a poor dad and if you read actually the poor dad is a very, very intelligent, very well studied, well read person.
Who's very smart, super intellectual. I related to them because I just had a master's degree, but I'm broke. So that one hit very hard. I think a lot of people imagination.
Ling Yah: So in university they never talk about the finances. They just talk about the art itself.
Wei Choon Goh: Oh they did. There was one module called professional practice.
I mean that they are trying lah. I can't blame them for not teaching me this stuff. about having good. If you're hungry, you will just find these things.
But I wish somebody really sat us down, and said, do you understand that as artists, right, the odds are that you are not going to be doing this when you, graduate.
And I think for my batch, it seems to be the case where I think more than half of the graduating batch is not doing art or animation related stuff , which is a bit bleak, but I mean, they're alright, they still go to university degree, they try it on, but, I don't think they really got to the nub of it.
And if I could, I will go back there and teach people and So the class that I was talking about, they taught you stuff like how to read contracts, how to invoice how to look out for things here and there when it comes to freelancing and things like that.
But I would just have a wake-up modular just to every week.
I will come in and destroy your fantasies about art by forcing you to look And the future that statistically awaits you.
The greatest thing I took away from university was a way of being critical. That everything you say can and will be subjected to arguments. And in that argument in that cross swords, when stone meets stone, metal meets metal, everybody gets sharper.
I just hate this recent thing. And it seems to be in university where people demand safe spaces. Safe spaces are important to not have people be harassed by your ideas and your ideas are absolutely and should never be sacred enough that I can't argue with you about your ideas and objective matter.
A lot of what university, especially in the more liberal places I just feel like the culture tends to be a lot more liberal these days. I feel like if you go and talk about practical stuff, because that's why I'm not doing it because there's a liability that I might be canceled.
He Ruiming: And also like, there's the argument in other people in uni, are they like qualified to talk about the more practical things.
I mean, not maybe animation uh, maybe the industry professionals, right.
But I mean, in other fields, they are like academies that have never worked in the .
Wei Choon Goh: Then you
He Ruiming: talk about. Money. I mean
Wei Choon Goh: yeah, there definitely is a coral reef of academia. I believe in all industries, I'm talking from my experience. Where people just do stand up for reuse all the time. So it's hard for them to even understand that there might be this thing outside.
Yeah. It's also, maybe that's not how I teach. We don't teach, but we, maybe have professionals come in and tell stories about how messed up the industry can be. I just think that bleakness was very important for me. I always wish I had my face shoved in the bleakness a bit more.
Ling Yah: So, did you feel that bleakness as swell reaming when you graduated?
He Ruiming: So I studied in Australia and I went to Melbourne uni where I learned criminology and communications.
So criminology was always like my backup plan. So I felt like if I, my immediate , I just be a policeman. I know no, actually it's quite similar in a way because both require like empathy and understanding of greater society.
When you study criminology, I think one of the things that they say is like Crime is defined by what society does not like kids or that's the one.
And in some ways, content creation, you need to understand what is all about and think society and what are the needs of society as well. I mean, it's a pretty loose connections, but by understanding like basic human psychology, their motivations, the different theories.
That's actually a lot, in common.
I didn't really feel the same sense of bleakness. Maybe it was because when I was in university, I was surrounded by a lot of welfare friends with, so when they went out, they all got jobs straight away.
For me, I scored like quite a decent job cause like my union was paid for, for scholarship. That spot was also is like a guarantee for me. g at 25, which isn't a lot, but I felt like they actually did pay for my scholarship.
All things considered minusing, debt is actually a pretty good deal. But you
Wei Choon Goh: did get quite.
He Ruiming: Yeah. But it wasn't really the company's fault. Actually. It was because I eventually did not want to do the job I, Scott. So I eventually left after seven months, which is a very hard thing to do.
And it's like, there's a lot of guilt. And I still feel that the way. So for someone I met my boss paid for my uni. They, like, I do believe in the work that I leave after seven months. there's no one, no one.
Ling Yah: And I wonder what it was that you were pursuing if you are seeking, because I noticed you have gone to many, many different places, many different jobs, you are a writer, you are a video editor, you are marketing. So what was it that was drawing you, if you will going from place to place?
He Ruiming: I always wanted to create one that has impact lighting.
I will die in a place, but it told me like, Oh, you articles, but no one will see them.
That killed me lah.
And I felt like at the company, which I was at it was a very niche company. So I always felt like there's not enough impact. So I tried to look for impact in advertising, where in advertising, you're supposed to reach out to them. I think everything
Wei Choon Goh: you did after that, you did that.
He Ruiming: Yeah. Yeah, I think so.
Yeah, because creativity is one thing. Right. But no, like the whole saying like if the tree
Wei Choon Goh: falls upon the forest that's even make a sound and nobody sees it. Yeah.
He Ruiming: So I feel like if you fall, it falls, no one here. Yeah.
Wei Choon Goh: I don't exist. I've
He Ruiming: done that. Yeah. He did not make a song. Right. Right. So I mean advertising, which yeah, there was something on some level they went to journalism.
am on a ship. I think I can confidently say that, that there was real impact. Like, we reached follow people. We changed our perspective on follow things, although towards the end, I was unhappy with the type of impact that I was complicit.
Ling Yah: So that's the thing I'm curious about. You talked about impact. How do you define impact? Cause it sounds like you define it by virality and how many shares and views.
He Ruiming: I think it's important to say like that it's not the only way to measure impact, but as one of the easiest ways to measure impact, especially coming from living in the street, because you can argue like 400 years old, whether or not like you have to go or change someone's life.
But if nobody reads the article, you can be damn sure. No one's life is objective. Yeah. So I think in virality, creating content that is shit. I found like easy, if not, it's fraught with, to measure impact.
Wei Choon Goh: Is that what matters to you then?
He Ruiming: So, I mean, impact there's two ways, right? First, like it has to reach someone. Then the message has to be meaningful.
Wei Choon Goh: Yeah. Meaningful. What does it mean? Does it mean change behavior change or change behavior get somewhere. I mean, I think I enjoy my athlete is a machine. The most positive was about like entertaining people.
I think because we feel as though we still can withstand the test of time today. we wrote wild blood leak, one use when he's off on the corner, like, of his famous quotes, like I will get up and I wrote it in the voice of like different, different authors, like Ernest Hemmingway, James Joyce Jr Tolkien
That went viral was quite proud of like little articles like this because my friends would share me and I say, ha ha made me laugh. back then the impact that I had was that I was Antony people and I think that was good enough for me at the time. It was much better than doing work that no one saw and no one cared.
Ling Yah: And I think you also wrote this article about the King Cobra that fought the reticulated python.
He Ruiming: So yes. So that was also part of like the job at Mothership. Sometimes to entertain people and sometimes depends on names. It Would be to create articles that I felt didn't really have a lot of meaning, but will entertain someone.
it will feel like the first appear. In fact people saw it, but didn't change people's lives. By your
Wei Choon Goh: previous one. Nobody ever
Exactly. So quantitative impact than qualitative impact.
He Ruiming: Yeah.
Ling Yah: So what do you think is the secret to virality because you had quite a few viral hits?
He Ruiming: Yeah, I think there's no secrets.
Wei Choon Goh: very complex question. five, six point PowerPoint presentation in the beast of reality, To me, it's our lady law. It's elusive. You shouldn't ever count on being able to just summon it at will.
It might come when you least expect it and it might leave you when you need it the most. So I never, ever guaranteed relative. The thing to really focus on is value. Not reality. That's how you're going to make our content. Yeah.
But at mothership, we really learned a lot about virality that I feel like I got my ass kicked by a lot of times because just like any good news media platform that came out in the last few years, you have your equivalent in relation like SAYS, for example, right?
So this thing called virality is basically. You want a lot of people to share and see it, but we also quickly understood that some things were just like you mentioned, the king cobra versus reticulated python. I mean, two old guys fighting in Geylang and then captured on a crappy, vertical two 20,000 shares.
So great. Okay. A lot of people saw it, but as a writer, can I say that I did a lot for it?
Maybe you can, because there is skill in hunting down the story. In finding it first and to put it out fast enough that it becomes the one that people share to say, Hey, this happened, right. There's definitely a skill there, but can you definitely say, for example, in areticulated python or just two aunties fighting, then they pull each other's head and their shopping bag fall and, all their shopping come out.
Can you say that you are the one, like your eloquent writing and your prose, it made it go viral? Or is it just it's two people? I think. not to this though. I won't use that. But , at first a lot of people see it, which is respectable by respect that even more, if you can conjure it up in there, if you just come up with something and people are like that to me
He Ruiming: is creating something that people like it.
Wei Choon Goh: So another level of skill, whereas a higher level, it's different ones that I prefer. I gravitate a bit more towards.
He Ruiming: so I think the secret to creating viral content is to put the audience first consistently. Both are very important, so put audience first, basically give the audience what they want, understand your audience. Create content that will resonate with them, entertain them, humor them and the informant from them.
Yeah. The other one is to do it consistently because some people create really good content and they stop. And then like There's no consistency. And consistency is really like a huge part in creating virality.
I've seen a lot of creators. They create like a great content series, but then they fizzle out maybe be like the first six hits of viral.
Then after that do one with like only four shares. Then they get discouraged and they stop. By doing it consistently and improving yourself over time, not only do you develop yourself, you develop like the expectation that whatever content you put out will be good. And I think that usually helps us.
Ling Yah: Do you feel that at that point in time, even though you were aware that impact is so much more than just shares that you were, if you were tying your self worth to articles going viral, did you feel that that was happening to you guys?
He Ruiming: Yeah. For sure. I remember like having this insane, insane mood swings.
So one day I'll write out this article, like 500 shares. And I will feel really good myself. Then I'll write some heavily researched piece. that only got like 30 shares. And I'll feel damn lousy. Cause in Mothership, we have this saying you're only as good as your last piece of work. So, okay. My last piece of work got only 30 shares so I-
I suck lah.
Wei Choon Goh: But I think to be fair to mothership also, it was not like they don't recognize the value of a well researched piece of work that has a lot of impact other than just went viral. Definitely did recognize that it is just that you also, I mean, it's very understandable that in this age of social media, the reality is the premium thing that you want.
So of course we will also. Encouraged to whenever possible go viral. So that mothership could be the one to,
I mean, we're seeing a lot of things about mushroom that actually is not we are just saying the mutation of Villa. So, to speak on behalf of mothership. But to understand mothership's situation also, it is very clear to see that going viral has immense benefits, immense objective benefits.
And it's not like we don't respect that either, because we still look for that in our current work as Woke Salaryman. So yeah, we learned a great view from there. It was a great place to be.
He Ruiming: Yeah. And I think I also understand, because nowadays people don't pay for news, right. And subscription model is just dead, right .
And you need numbers to justify his views. So in a way, , by not caring about page views, there's a possibility you become a liability to the company. there's a very real chance that you become the employee, who just say, Oh, we should do original creative content, but you don't really produce the views.
So I think there's always something to be there. Yeah, I've
Wei Choon Goh: heard. I know, correct perspective is, you know how I help cats are,like they kind of want you to pet them, but they don't want to show that they want you to pet them. So it is kind of look at you from the side, right.
I don't really care about I kind of care. That's how you got to treat reality. Yeah, you can like
but we want it. Yeah. That's the big deal.
Ling Yah: And I think, Wei Choon, correct me if I'm wrong, you were also doing Choonzord comics on the side as well?
Wei Choon Goh: Yeah, was just trying to express myself in another thing that I could own by myself and not have to run into anybody, but I mean, to be honest, , or something that I just did for fun and I had fantasies then of course, things would go by and some things did go back.
I made a couple of videos. There had good traction here and there. And then some of my comic stories people would share. But I never thought about monetizing it and that is the big thing. a lot of people can go viral. That, to be honest. Reality, it's not impossible if you try long enough and hard enough.
And if you're honest enough, it will just come. But the real creativity to me right now is also how you can monetize it because. If you are doing something amazing for society, they're doing a great page, that society needs, right.I feel like there's a little bit of a responsibility to find out how to do sustainably in terms of money so that you can keep doing it in a very honest way.
I think that it's just part of the thing, , there's no good thing and I'm doing it for free as a social duty. Okay. That's all fine.
But can you find a way to make it profitable? Because I think society will benefit even more because then you can do it full time. And you can do it in a way that , you can stick close to your values because you do have an income coming in from that is I think that's the best.
It's very difficult.
Ling Yah: And Wei choon, you mentioned that you were not thinking about monetizing. at what point did you become serious about it? Because I think you were also going on Online forums and asking personal finance questions to learn more.
Wei Choon Goh: Yeah, I was lah but the online community, when it comes to personal finance can be a little bit impatient. There's not a lot of people that really delve into personal finance, deep enough in any given country. I think that it will be considered mainstream. But people who do dive into it, get into it very, very, very deeply.
And you can see why it is very gratifying first of all, to earn money because it's something that a lot of society want. So you feel like you're very smart, first of all. And then also what is often a necessity when it comes to being a good investor or good trader is the ability to go against social norms.
So I find this, online finance communities can be quite impatient when a newbie on. So I remember asking some very basic questions now, because I don't know that Google answers back to really possibly stoke a more nuanced conversationamongt these experts and some of the forums that went to are quite hostile.
So I find it very difficult as a beginner to even enter into the space and asked specific questions. I sometimes it's not even like I want to invest. I kind of know what I want to buy the best. If I'm on a it, how do I create the account? And then things, I, then, if they give me a quiz, because I need to create a stock account with the Singapore government, and that kind of thing, or banking system.
But do I lie to answer the questions? Because if they ask for two years stock, obviously I don't have that experience. So do I just take it and then move on? great. I really, so I can ask him this kind of stupid questions. And I really felt at that point in time that what somebody needs to exist, that is like for the layman because it's so good for the greater society and most people to really delve down into personal finance, but the barrier sometimes as too high, high,
He Ruiming: yeah.
Even. Going to create like a brokerage account. Like
Wei Choon Goh: no, so many times I created an account, I guess, down a question that
those are the ones that I have.
He Ruiming: So go through this process and like, they don't, invest for like seven years now. Invest even though the intention is there and that's how like procrastination happens.
Ling Yah: So Wei Choon, you alluded earlier that you referred to Ruiming for a lot of these questions because you actually face something quite important in your life that caused you Ruiming, to really care about personal finance.
What was that?
He Ruiming: Yeah, so my, mom had like a damn bad stroke in 2014.
And we had to look into how we could possibly finance the recovery process. I mean, before that I was really like, I already did some research about what money stuff because I just became an adult, right. Haha . But I think there was, then I decided that, well, I need to become rich so that even if I had to drop everything and look after my mum and the future, like money, you wouldn't be an issue .
So I started reading a lot of all this personal finance - saving, investing, earning in insurance. That kind of thing. I would say that I am not like a good investor. A lot of people think personal finance is about being great investor and then becoming rich over a period of five years purely through investing.
I won't say what I am best at is finding ways you can increase our income, which I feel is a more important priority in your, 20s and 30s, because if you never earn enough money, then you will never be able to invest a lot. In reality,
Ling Yah: You mentioned getting rich. Do you have an idea or a definition for what would constitute rich for you?
He Ruiming: Yeah, so Initially before COVID I had this figured mine was like SGD 500,000. By the time I've turned 35 I will invest that money. And then I will get to work on things that I liked to do versus like working for money life. Now, just let that $500,000 roll over 30 years than I'll be able to retire as and when I want.
So that was my initial goal. But I think COVID has kind of showed me that, well, actually life is damn unpredictable and I should be pursuing like a slightly more ambitious goal if I haven't. I mean, and if I have the capability to do it, you know I don't know. I think 1.2 million would be nice because in the future, I.
Might have kids, , my buffer, yeah.
Wei Choon Goh: Yes, there is. You change the
He Ruiming: people change over live, right? And I have like elderly parents that even though they are financially okay. what happens if they are suddenly not? So these are all things I have to get when it comes to consideration.
But yeah, COVID has been a wake up call in many sense of the word.
Ling Yah: Before the 1.2 million before the 500,000, there was the saving 100,000 before you turned 30. So how did that come about?
He Ruiming: So, okay. So I was reading an article online and what is being called a 4% rule. So the idea was that you can expect.
4% returns. If you put your 100 K into, safely investments. So the idea of, Hey, my man was like, Oh, actually if I can save a $100,000 I will be able to, and 4,000 of it every year and that's one month off. And if I do it 12 times, can be C retired. So I did some Googling.
I found out like quite a few people were on the way to 7,100 K I think There's this blog. read Budget Babe. We're friends I actually track the Jenny, she also helped me like a lot of resources in the beginning stage or like mindset change, , things to do.
And the little ways you can cut, your spending.
Ling Yah: And that article actually went viral. And I wonder, do you know why that is? Is it because it was so unusual for people to even think about saving so much by that time?
He Ruiming: Yeah. I think a lot of people saw it as like a flexor late, you see a hundred K now I won't get his personal against whereas a hundred K.
So I think that was definitely that. I would say salty, salty angle there, you know, , I'm sharing people felt like, Oh, well I was supposed to see another kid he's better than me, blah, blah, blah. I think that was definitely one of the reasons. And the reason I felt like tried to meet the article as balanced and as helpful and as inspirational I could actually, I was in quite a dark place when I wrote the article.
I had worked in advertising for three years then. And I think like when you would work in content, when you work in advertising, that's two different things. So from the Montessori environment, I went to an advertising environment. I honestly didn't fare that well.
And I remember thinking like, Oh, I wish I could create some sort of content to tell myself, Hey, actually, I'm still a decent writer. I think I just spend one weekend, like pouring my heart into writing this. I feel rather I felt peace. And I didn't have the attention for it to go viral at all.
I just really made mention of like expressing myself and really. Documenting all the emotions that I felt during like the three years that I a hundred thousand dollars.
Maybe it was because it was quite a relatively novel concept at the time. And I think that that definitely helped, but I think if you wrote about how to save a hundred K by 30 today you will not get as much traction unless you do like 200 K back then.
Yeah. I mean, the number just has to go up by inflation.
Ling Yah: So once you got that virality, did you think of leveraging on that to build something? What, what's the plan?
He Ruiming: Not really, but the article gives me the confidence to quit my job then because I was feeling pretty shitty. So reminded me. I actually.
Maybe I'm just not being utilized well, maybe if they're still valuable for me in some space. So it didn't really help me start, I mean, but it helped me like have the confidence to leave my job. And then a couple months later we started the assignment for rebutting. The motivations different than that.
We never thought of monetizinguntil Wei Choon started t adding illustrations to it, I think.
Ling Yah: And were you surprised by the fact that once those comic panels were added, that it just went even more viral?
He Ruiming: Yeah, I actually, I, knew from the start, I say like, Hey, Wei Choon, I think you add your illustrations to it, right? I think will do them well. I think he was very busy last week. He sat on
Wei Choon Goh: it for two months. so like, Oh, you come here. assign me work to do, not paying me anything. So I procrastinated on the, I didn't really draw properly, but when, we draw it and finally published it it's just when crazier I 6,000 shares in the first week.
And then we were like, wait, this is something. We need to now contend with this being a thing in our lives. How do we do this? What was going on now? What happens though?
Ling Yah: How do you figure it out once you to realize that, okay, this partnership could actually work? What was the plan?
He Ruiming: actually our plan was just to create content regularly, show people we could create content about boring stuff really well.
What shots to companies on how to create the
Wei Choon Goh: content. So as I, as you a big company or corporation, you have, you thought about creating your own B2C Facebook page, , how to educate your potential customers or existing customers. Exactly. So we'll be consultants. We'll teach you guys how to do that.
So bookseller remember was going to be our portfolio, but then monetization came to us also la. We also didn't expect it to come the way it. Then we just had to roll with it la. Our plans all went out the window, and then we just did this other thing. We call it sponsor content and we started doing yeah. And then that became the plan.
And was this all under the umbrella of Woke Salaryman already? Did you alreadyLing Yah: have that name or were you still trying out different variations?
Wei Choon Goh: he made a Facebook page called the Woke Salaryman. And the first thing that he posted was the Drake meme. He doesn't drink during the, yes and the no. That's what he did. One about that.
If you go back far enough, you can still see that post that we keep it up America, if we can read it. The second thing that we posted was the article. We don't call me illustrations that did 6,000 shares. Yep. So based off that, the Woke Salaryman was already as is, and we kind of understood where something, so let's make more, let's do more stories and this takes all we can do this.
We can do that. You know,
He Ruiming: we never really had like clear business plan. a lot of entrepreneurs say, or I, I knew this from the start. I think it wasn't like that for us. Ours was like a constant journey of like adapting, seeing what works and what could not work. Cause I mean, we are also not expert businessmen entrepreneurs.
We're still trying to figure stuff out.
Ling Yah: I mean, I imagine, to run Woke Salaryman is so much more than just drawing and writing. You have to manage social media accounts, you have to reach out to people, interview people. So how did you figure out that division of labor between the two of you?
He Ruiming: I think most of the illustrations that only Wei Choon can do . and that's also one of the most labor intensive and time consuming. So I, tried to help out in, interviewing
Wei Choon Goh: the research, talking to other experts about topics that we might not be experts in. Yeah. And Rui Ming starts most of the stories, most of it is he write either on a Google docs, Google slides. You'll send it to me. And I add sketches on top. I send it to him. He vets it, he did, or some change, or this imaging is problematic. We might get canceled by should just change it. So it works in that way.
And I write some stories, but he writes most of it. he's nice in that he allows me to sort of have my comment on the articles as well. So I'm not just drawing, I'm also a sub editor and I vet it in terms of language typos, is that because in his speech, there's a lot of typos and grammatical errors and stuff.
So keep that up.
And then I also check it for layman-ness, because if I don't understand it, like the average person in our readership is very broad. we usually have our stories with them. So the absolute beginner cannot miss that. So if I don't get it, most people wouldn't get it.
So I always try to pull it down if it becomes too complex, it is very difficult because it's just in the nature writing stuff that you sometimes look at it so closely, you can't really assess it from an objective and medical point of view.
So having a secondary eye, whether an expert or not sometimes just helps.
Stuff that I've written, it has benefited so much from going through it. Also just helping me check
He Ruiming: it actually. I think, cause you went and you did his masters. So actually he is a very late Academy. We, which I really appreciate it.
Cause like I'm not, I wasn't all I just read, like what comes to my head? I think he has a very like good way of constructing contracts, arguments.
Wei Choon Goh: And I use big words because big words, it's not just big words to sound pretentious, but big words are precise. I would just say, it's interesting.
I'd say it's compelling it is gratifying or something like that. And it's not just big words for the sake of it is precise and also. My academic rigor allows me to check some of the points that you missed because in academia you write stuff. Right. See, you got to go to series B. Yeah.
So I always say so can you see that they've proven is that actually from a source, it is a soft, we need to put that source now and made this my weakness as well, because I tend to be very pedantic and I can go on and on. I know because I like to see. the same thing and make the same point from different points of view.
You probably won't notice that drug visit you at some point. So he is the copywriter. He writes stuff at a shot that will convert into action. So he also pulled me back and say, okay, that's a bit too long with that. You've already said this point three freaking times. Yeah. Let's just take this on this, the most powerful one, and then we need to do the next point.
So it's a good idea
combination. It's like a combination of two types of writing.
That's all. It's not just the writer and I illustrate the relationship. I think a lot of the success that we've had so far, so us independent living
we check each other's backs. What's quite well.
Ling Yah: I feel like this discussion is very important because it shows just how much work goes behind the scenes just to produce this one thing. It's not just one day and everything comes up so many different iterations and discussions. So how do you figure out your content creation schedule?
Because as you mentioned earlier, that's the most important thing you have to be consistent, consistent, consistent, but then yeah. There's so much work involved. It's just so hard to stay on top.
So how did you figure it out?
He Ruiming: I think initially It was damn tough la. We wanted to publish like once or twice a month because we were still doing our w challenging to come up with like two content pieces of mine, especially with the type of illustrations that Wei Choon has to do.
So actually we argued a few times about when to publish. so my weakness is that like I'll be nagging himdays really? , like if you want to be a content creation you must do it consistently, or Wei Chon would be Brandon, what do you want me to do?
So there was definitely that tension there,
Wei Choon Goh: but by also, yeah, well, very important for us to be doing this as a side thing, because it meant that because we were doing nine to five and doing this as a site, right. We can't just.be bought out quickly by anyone who wanted to sponsor us. So we could really stick to our guns and turn down money on the table at a point where if we really quit our jobs to do Woke Salaryman from the get go, we wouldn't really need that kind of money.
And we might have taken on sponsored content that we did not feel like we should have taken on. And that I felt has made all the difference. So actually in hindsight, it was a good thing. I mean, said it loudly. Just not my, I don't say it like that. when we have complete, we're usually quiet chilled .
Usually he will also listen to it.
yeah, it's also, I get accused sometimes and then I might also be annoyed by it. I also understand that he's trying to make the content good and consistent so that our readers would benefit.
So based on that, we always trust bye-bye initially it was also licensed fast. So our working schedule was not very concrete or like just want to kiap some storyline, he will kiap it and then he'll send it to me or look at it there when I can find time I'll do it.
I send it to them and we just kind of, our vision in the schedule came from that. No, it is, we've had to pause once a week, but no, it isn't,
, there's not so much, , we're looking at pretty solid when it comes to just, just when we expand, then when we think about other teammates coming in, then we need to worry about scheduling it. But so far not played there. Mm.
Going back to like contentHe Ruiming: creation schedule, right.
I don't think there's ever like. Oh, it's father's day. So we should probably, probably, I think we just publish content that we genuinely think is useful and resonates with people.
Wei Choon Goh: If there's a chance to do something on father's day that residents will do it. For example, new year, we didn't do it. We just didn't do anything.
Right. Know, there's going to be a call for Neil because it's everybody doing this during their, what do you do? Pocket size? Let people do the thing. We will come back next week
to be like, women's day, we don't really publish anything. It's not, we don't care about. Yeah, we just didn't have a great story.
And then we're
done just recently. We did two stories about when they were very women centric. You know, one about someone who just got divorced and then one about a woman who struggled with her husband, but really struggling with the fact that he, unless they're hurt.
Yeah. So I just be shared on my own LinkedIn. That's
He Ruiming: about it. Publish what we think is good or what is, what is available. I learned this lesson at Mothership also, so there was a period of time. I went around at Mothership, I was shooting videos called exploring Singapore, and this would be cool places of Singapore, which I'll just go around with like a point and shoot camera just film it.
And I think the first few videos went viral because there were places that are truly cool. But then when my boss said like every week you must have one video that is when a performance of the software, because in my mind I was pressured to produce something end of the week. Right. And like, The fact is there are only so many cool places in Singapore.
And I always thought that that is quite a lot of content. If there's nothing to do say or nothing useful to say, we're not going to publish something like meaningless, just a few in the point, like we don't believe in that you either say something meaningful
Wei Choon Goh: or you lose, you said nothing yet, or yes.
Ling Yah: noticed you were only five months in, and then you wrote a post saying that financial planners were taking your posts and re-purposing, and using it as well. So I wonder if you could share that issue and how you dealt with it.
Wei Choon Goh: That upset me a lot initially. Yeah. Because I put so much sweat after work a sacrifice time. I will be spending with my. Girlfriend slash fiance slash wife, and then you just pick it and then you take profits off of it. And then here we are like worrying about monetization, right? So we'll be able to make money from this, whether we will still be around two months and then you start making commissions and money off of it by spreading our stories.
I took it very hard at first. And another thing that I was very upset was when people started translating and stuff, without my permission, without tagging to our page, I really dislike the translation.
Not, because of the notion of adding emotion is actually really cool that people from our staff, so resident that they want to translate their, no, it is. I just ignore it. Back then. I was very worried that because we are talking about financial staff, right? This is a start that potentially could affect the way that people invest for the future.
So I also didn't want a translation to go by that we didn't vet in terms of the way that I deal with talking about the Terminus because we also don't know even Asia or Chinese
come on in their own context. They have the wrong kind of slight connotation. I little things . Yeah, those are important. so I was always messaging people. If you please stop posting stuff without at least looking glass, because right now, we are a young page. we don't even know it, but I'm gonna be around next month.
So can you please at least give us the traffic because it's all in your head. Nowadays I don't quite care because there's just too many of them and it is still a bit upsetting sometimes when you just get like tens of thousands of shares, that is how I know. This is why then I'm thinking about whether should I watermark my images but I think watermarking it might take away the experience,
He Ruiming: the viewer experience. And we want to put the viewer first.
But actually, it's moreWei Choon Goh: laziness on my part to deal with everything, but it might also help because if it's appropriate that elsewhere, I then they might want to it be it isn't always on every page, but if you're want a watermark, right?
If you want them, they would just crop the edge of the pieces that we are doing, but that's just parcel. She'll be there. I've come to accept it now.
Now that we are more known and less vulnerable, I just see it as a, thing that just happens and I'm not that bothered by it anymore. But when I started, I was so beside myself, it says, Oh no, they're stealing our viewers, but nowadays I'm not worried because I mean, we are the original.
So we got to make it and they can take it. So it's not like sticking way up. Yeah. So
He Ruiming: we trust our ability to create good content consistently.
A true threat would be if they started making any Wei Choon Goh: stuff that we were going to make. We were just going to publish them. They probably say it is exactly this, which is extremely like
Ling Yah: I mean, obviously you're a lot more established, so less concerned, but this is still an issue for young content creators who no one knows.
So looking back, do you have any advice or anything you would do differently that people can do now when they're just coming out?
Wei Choon Goh: Early on, right, a mantra that we read before was quite undeniable. So there are a lot of things that we wanted to do. We always compare ourselves to bigger platforms and we're like, okay, we're smaller than them now. And we never wanted to really go out there and we just want to stay in.
So it might be bad advi please take this because outbound marketing is necessary in some cases, but for us, we really wanted to do less outbound and then force them to come to us. We always tilted our stuff towards our readers and less towards possible clients or collaborators, so to speak.
we make it so that the readers come to us. And when, if not readers come to us. We will be so undeniable that the big players that we want them to call will also then come to us as a result. So this doesn't apply to universities or just any . If you need to do outbound, please do outbound. It's very important.
We are also starting to think about things on our phone, which is really kind of do it, that was a mantra that we held very early on when it comes to advice that we did something wrong.
We did anything that comes to mind. I don't want to come off cocky as well because there's nothing that we did wrong that I can't think of anything off the top of my head now, but maybe One thing that I almost did was we had early investors that will come to us with offers and nothing against these investors.
I mean, investors need to get their money's worth. I understand that they will negotiate also. And it's not like I felt like they do more than they certainly didn't, but they gave us time. Very interesting offers that I was so taken by, but now this is actually very small money to us. But back then I was like, Oh, that's, a lot of money.
I can clear my debt. This is one thing, but actually equity wise, you would not make sense. and I was very close to everybody who was more with mirroring. I might have actually evolved as solo. not that they're bad, but it wouldn't be bad for us
I have a future vision of where the wool salary women might be if I was to sell, right. That future vision would sell for a lot more. So I'd rather build that first build that maximum potential you can meet to sell.
And then you try to find, and if you don't need the money, those sell, just to say, Oh, I got venture capital funding. That would be my kind of advice by street superposed with, because now it's like Vogue thing now is venture capitalism. Angel investors to come in early. And it just pumped me with money, but early on, our tendency was always about profitability first in a very old-fashioned way.
Cool. Actually. Yeah, that was all I'm super conservative. Yeah. But not that we seem brave because we quit our jobs, but we only quit our jobs when we were able to afford it. Yeah. And we had to have. Three months or six months of indication, then we will have enough salary to pay ourselves for the next three to six months.
Then we quit. Our job is a super, super
He Ruiming: you didn't like live on doula. Yeah, it's gone
Wei Choon Goh: now. Maybe it'll come next time. I have no doubt we will meet difficulty down the road, but so far we have been very lucky lah. The lesson lesson is just born. So if you don't need to sell and if you can hold out for that.
We What Ruiming always told me, and this was advice that he gave me before I started to invest is to save up six months first, whether it's expenses or salary, actual salary and salary is even more bigger. I will be super conservative. So that kept me very, very safe. And when I quit my job, and so that kept me very, very safe.
It's like more like not don't quit your job. Quit your job when you have enough money. So you can make a real good go of it. You give me your best shot at it. Don't like do one month and then hey. Yeah, but you didn't really think a good shot.
He Ruiming: That's how you can be consistent. Right? You have like, this war chest you can survive off while you take that shot.
Ling Yah: So when you took that shot, , you resigned, you had that six month runway. Did you also, already have clients? So you could already estimate, okay. These are the profits that are coming in. At least I can survive these few months as well.
He Ruiming: Yeah. All of those things, we took our clients and we were doing a nine to five job.
So quite a while it was quite crazy. Yeah,
We worked until 2, 3 every day. Yeah. It was a huge strain on them.
Wei Choon Goh: our girlfriends slash Guernsey slash wives. Okay. Wife, I've gone on myself. I don't wanna put anything on him. No, do pressure. Okay. Really put out with a lot of shenanigans from us. They understood that this was something that we had to do it, I think it's not, not well, but it could have no relationship,
He Ruiming: easy for a partner to do that.
Which is why a lot of people also don't go into Starting own thing, start business then at all by that means you cannot have supper with me tonight. Yeah, I don't do a lot. And if
Wei Choon Goh: we started earlier, like if we have kids, how much harder would that be?
Yeah, if we're in our forties or fifties, we are tired already.
He Ruiming: This might not happen. Unless you are already like quite
Wei Choon Goh: the luxury to be, but it's just quit.
Yeah. So I think we've got the right combination of factors.
Ling Yah: Was it a difficult conversation telling them this is the intention, this is what's going to happen.
Wei Choon Goh: I think we've made some arguments. and definitely for me, right. I told Ruiming as well at one point I'm not going to do this forever. Like if we keep doing this for three, four years and nothing comes to it, I would just stop doing something else.
Because if I'm sacrificing my, week, nights and weekend nights, and it comes to nothing, there's no money coming in. I'm not doing this. And there are some things that I walked away from that I started with friends and I regret walking away from because they're successful now in different ways. That I look back, I go, I told them like, I'm walking away.
I can't make money. And there was no clear way to make money at that point in time. And I walked away and I regret that for a long time, for a long, long time. I still regret it to a certain extent.
But the great thing about Ruiming and I, they actually right before we start Woke Salaryman, when we met socially, right, we always say, how do we make money?
Yeah. I was just how to make money. So it was always there. It was never anything that hit the, I wonder, we'll say I want it to be profitable. You've asked me to help uplift the lower in the middle classes. Yes. But first of all, I wasn't a big money. Yeah. I never denied,
He Ruiming: I mean, I come from an agency where credit actors can repeat, like
Wei Choon Goh: we did the recap
for work that doesn't reallyHe Ruiming: have much impact
Wei Choon Goh: outside.
He Ruiming: So if I make an impact, then why can I underneath the, the,
Wei Choon Goh: also in , why should we be
Ling Yah: I mean, like we talked about successes and I think a lot of people would say that you have been successful in one year. You had over 150,000 followers. Now it's over 200, 2000 on Instagram. What was it that drew people to you and allow it to just grow so fast?
First of all, I think He Ruiming: last year alone, I left to take interest in money.
So I think that definitely helped us. So a lot of it was also luck also I think Wei Choon's ability to help simplify and present ways in a very accessible visual.
Wei Choon Goh: Yeah. Yeah.
He Ruiming: I would say really this, two things and the fact that we did it consistently, I mean, just want to stress, like consistency is really super, super important. Yeah.
Ling Yah: And how did you build that community around you? That's passionate to your brand because that's one of the things that currency creators always struggle with, right?
Your core fans who really support you. And if you look at the comments, you always get lots of comments and they really care about your characters. Like the marshmallow, I think there was once he appeared like a one Oh one Oh one or they were like, why is he like that with the marshmallow? Why's he so hard?
So they care a lot about what you're doing.
He Ruiming: Yeah, I think our approach has always been to be as transparent as possible and SBS authentic as possible. we even go to the extent of telling them all this money. This is a sponsorship post. These are our challenges when presenting content.
I'm not sure whether this qualifies as a strategy, but we just tell them like, don't think of us as like some.
In calorie smart with no problems. We have a lot of problems. And I think by sharing and understanding, One thing I also try to do is I used to try to reply every single DMD they came in, but yeah, well nowadays, because now we have to unlucky. So sometimes I feel guilty in looking at all the DMs.
But I think
yeah. Yeah. Yeah. But I think it helps to be genuinely interested in people's progress. Yeah. Sometimes I still check in with people who have followed us since when we were at like 16 K followers. And I checked on how we yeah, because I. Truly care about, whether or not have you stopped doing financial goals, have you stayed invested then you're talking about getting a one year ago was the term progress.
Like, so I think that definitely helps a lot because on their end they feel like someone is caring and my end. It lets me see like the real impact that they were having, , someone actually stopped gambling because of someone not a saving because of us. I think like it makes it like super worthwhile to me.
Ling Yah: What's the most meaningful impact story that you've had?
He Ruiming: Yeah, there was this kid who texts me anonymously and say like, Hey, thank you for your content. ? It really inspired me to get my finances in check, I come from like a Brooklyn family and I haven't really had it, had the best thought. And I we'll do like again being addiction for like the past few years, but I read content and I'm going to get out of it.
when I read it, I was like damn touched la. I don't think don't think in advertising, I would ever be able to help someone with like a decision like that. it's quite a privilege be able to do something like that. And also while earning money at the same time.
Ling Yah: Another thing. One of the things that we have to talk about is finances, because it's one thing to do a passion project, another thing to run a business, I understand that very quickly within the first few months you got your first sponsor posts from CPF and they approached you.
Thank you. How did that happen? you must have done something right.
He Ruiming: I think they just email us and I said ok. Hashtag undeniable.
Reach as much as possible. Honest as possible. Be as genuine as possible. We really, truly helpful as possible. And I think CPF probably thought hey, they can probably do some content for them
Wei Choon Goh: in a minute. Yeah. I mean, we genuinely think it's a good product for the right people. Yeah. So, I mean, we were saying things about it anyway, and then they bought this.
It was a very organic collaboration, actually. It was a lot less troublesome than I thought it would be. Very nice. Yeah.
He Ruiming: Yeah. I mean, they were pretty taken aback on how unfiltered our opinions on CPF were and I expected them to push back a lot more. Hmm. And say oh, this cannot say that cannot say, but like, yeah, they actually really open and was really a refreshing.
Even today we try to keep the the same thing going you know. We try to publish stuff that we will have publicly anyway, so it really helps to be authentic.
So we will not go out of our way to sully our brand values, like creating something that we don't believe in, for example, buy a new Mercedes. I mean, whatever, something like that,
So a lot of our content, because it's all organically based.
Wei Choon Goh: Meaning right, say if I talk to client and then we develop an idea, we will believe in idea A so much that even if Client A backs out, we would either be able to run it ourselves, or we believe in is so much that we can sell it to another client. And it becomes an also nothing is wasted when you envisioned, when you're authentic, nothing is wasted because even the clients that you rejected, you can post.
And so on negotiations. And when we were, we developed some new the client initially they, okay. Then they are not who they are. don't need to pay us. We can cancel it here. And then we just run the story.
And it gives us a little bit of bargaining power and it helps us to be super authentic. We found that the authenticity was. It's what keeps people coming back to us because we've got to be up front and help you with money.
Ling Yah: Was this policy something you implemented from the start? I mean, I may imagine when you are still starting, when you get all these offers, it's very hard to say, no, you would want the money, but then you also want to stay true to your values.
He Ruiming: Yeah. I don't think it was hard. And this is a very way is because, I mean, when we started Woke Salaryman, I mean, we had a list of don'ts.
Wei Choon Goh: And we learned from our previous experiences through our various companies, , how difficult it is to negotiate the plans with the clients, if you are not authentic in the first place.
So it was very important that we have been creating content before that. So we had a precedent and we knew what we were doing.
We can fight back and say, look, we've done this
He Ruiming: before. yeah, that'd be fun. Do you want to do this? So if
Wei Choon Goh: we follow you, we lose you lose the reader. So we'd rather just walk away. Yeah. So having that experience helps so much.
He Ruiming: And of course having money helps, lah. I mean, I already had a hundred k saved then.
Oh. I wish I had my six months.
I'd rather invest monthly my brand then take your money to create a possibly lame piece of content that will hurt my brand.
Wei Choon Goh: I mean, don't get us wrong. There are a dollar signs that will make me question my integrity. You say, a client will ridiculously say, Oh, I'll pay you $5 million for an article.
Seriously, if you are a friend of Woke Salaryman, right, we would think it is something we would do, right. That is that kind of stupid money, but people are not stupid. Our clients are not stupid. So that's not going to happen. So we understand the real value of playing the long game and keeping our bread. And we've turned down so much money sometimes that makes me.
He Ruiming: Oh, yeah. maybe it is controversial, but I think you need money to be authentic and have values you can stand by. It's very easy to say like, Oh, I would never do this. Sell out.
But then like if you have no money, right. beggars can't be choosers. You just do every single thing. Even if it's not authentic.
Wei Choon Goh: Ironically, I found that I was sort of not very rich . And I had a lot of integrity, a lot of things to say, then I had a mortgage and stuff.
Then I had to sell out for a while and I joined the job that was not really my calling or that I should but I eanred quite a bit from it. I joined the med tech fund where they agreed to pay me $6,000 to just move these staff at the marketing. And actually, because I sold out and I started earning good money from that for a while.
And I, my six months, right. Then that money that I earned selling out allowed me to give me enough cushion to be authentic and not . Yeah. So it also depends. You keep your eyes on the prize. You know what I'm saying are now two companies bigger. You may doubt me. No, you waiting. I'm setting out, but you wait, , five years I'll come here and do something amazing and you'll think, wow.
All along, he was biding his time. Yeah.
I think important to tag onto thatLing Yah: is that even though you sold out the people around you didn't call you out for it. Right. they didn't look down on you for doing that.
Wei Choon Goh: So I I'm passionate about this and I'm always been, I still am to a certain extent.
And I thought like, what are my peers going to think about this? That I am not thinking nobody cares all my bills. And I also, well, I wish earlier I did this and nobody cares.
And if somebody cared, then they are not telling me, or if they cared, right, they're free to come and tell me, I make a case, but in all likelihood it'll be not a good case.
And then I would just be friends. Don't be friends to me then I don't care. You like, as soon as the, unless you are willing to pay me two more. So how about you pay me for K Monday? You just pay me and I'll never sell a hub about that, but none of my peers will obviously ever have the werewithal even do that or the inclination to do that. So actually, my peers didn't mind and actually most of them cool.
Yo. But nobody judged me.
Did you have trouble selling out?
He Ruiming: No. I mean, I always tell them, go to sponsor content for one, two weeks, then you try it and then usually they try it and then they're like, okay, I get it.
I get it. Creating content itself is hard. So yeah, I think to everyone who criticize sponsor comes out there. or running a pitch, you try to make it sustainable first, then you can come and talk to us.
I want to have conversations with people who have not created stuff before and still want to like me, I'm on like, how pages are sustainable. I was like, you can do things like, why, should I even listen to you? You know what I mean?
Ling Yah: could you share a bit about how you think about the negotiations with clients?
especially when you're just starting, you don't really have that kind of power. Right. And they slow the game with authority. So what are the important things to bear in mind?
He Ruiming: So actually we had the power from the very beginning, simply because of Our
Wei Choon Goh: privileged And then do this as a side hustle.
They gave us the ability to say no,
So I think, even during our first year we turned down He Ruiming: close to 50 K global business.
Wei Choon Goh: Which is quite unimaginable for first year startup.
He Ruiming: Yeah. There is like the salary when I was at mothership. You mentioned like, let me down,
who'll be at half a year of expenses for a small company or,
but we meant to do it because we had substantial savings or savings and we also had a stable job.
Negotiation. There have been people with downs, like, oh, Y'all very expensive or what I think market research is helpful. So I do, it's like, I look at other, people's rate cut now. I see like, Oh, what are the rates?
They're like, oh, can we reach their reach? If we can , we will charge what the market is charging, because I'm not going to understand ourselves. Yeah, exactly. If creative directors can be paid $30,000
It has never been a struggle for me, man. Maybe I'm very mercenary that way, but I mean, I feel this is what it takes to run a page . Like you must be aware of what the competitors are challenging. , you either provide so much value and undercut them, which I think is not helpful or you charge competitively la.
So the whole industry can be sustainable.
Ling Yah: And I wonder that you are obviously adding Autodesk, but then you also have a burn rate. I mean, you run your own office. You're going to get someone else on board. I think you also have freelances as well. So how do you think about managing all these things while you're still running this relatively young startup?
He Ruiming: Wow.
Wei Choon Goh: So actually our office which, for the area that we're in central. Yeah. It's pretty cheap. we knowinglytook on some of the possible cons of this piece. I mean, it's not in a bustling startup hub.
I mean like, you walk outside. This is the dessert mall. These are the old mall is a fortune teller right there.
Describing or actually on the scenery meet agencies. I believe agencies as a whole dish, more, not very startup-y. We were thinking about doing like coworking space. It seems more of the vibe, free coffee, that kind of thing. But we eschewed that for a much more humble and I think on brand location, it is, within our values to get a place that is cheaper than what actually we can afford
He Ruiming: two employees. I calculate that like, at least be able to keep that on for a year if not it'd be irresponsible. I mean the priority is to pay them first before we pay us. So right now, they were like, okay, all this, we will set aside for hospice,
even the first day, I, we talked about making money for ourselves.
try to be more responsible For example, we hated this practice of Asking your staff, Hamamoto salaried and base it off like 30% more or, you know what I mean? The jump that and courses they do in Singapore. I think for us, I wouldn't do it like differently.
Yeah. So I just asked you how much you went. Oh, I want this much, then I can, we gave me a 40
Wei Choon Goh: hour.
He Ruiming: Don't move all your people. Like those, there's not a good way to get any people who are hiring. they will not come to a company that will low-ball them. Unless they're desperate.
How did you knowLing Yah: you were ready to take on another person?
Wei Choon Goh: it was when we had to work. Right. Because we didn't feel like it didn't fit. we were turning down food because we had no capacity to fulfill it. That's when we realized there's too much coming in and I'm okay with turning down stuff all day long.
If this isn't because the fit is not right, you don't get our values, all bread
stuff, just because we have no capacity, then, , It forces us to go. And I'm a very independent person. I thrive on being a very independent problem solver.
Everything I don't know. I went to look up and learn myself. That's why I have a wide set of skills. Right. I can do web design, I can do videography. I can do photography. I can shoot a complete corporate videos.
I can draw anybody. I can do a lot of things. but I also understand that maybe the way for me to grow now is to learn to delegate. And to also learn to multiply my skill set and my wisdom, so to speak across other people
He Ruiming: I mean, for me, it was like very, very difficult, so I can be quite a micromanager.
So letting go of like control I'm still quite, stressed about it and it takes some time to trust someone, but I think. What drove me to telling me eh Wei Choon, I think I need to hire someone was like, well, I was just doing this, pulling this late 900, 4:00 AM basically for two years since we started with salmon until January this year.
And I just felt like, Oh, I can't do this forever. So maybe I'll just hire someone to just help me out. we don't have so much money, but it's about sustainability. , we can do this.
Wei Choon Goh: I mean, I, I saw it as two parts, One is that we stay as a two man team, but we charge super boutique prices.
So we charge a lot, a lot money and we only do like one or two sponsors staff a month. And that's us all we take on more people give up a little bit of punctual and dare I say quality although that is debatable, because you can do it in the way where the quality is not to diminish or compromise. Yeah. And then we brought up and I felt like the second one is more the way we need to go.
I mean, who knows maybe. We'll find out
you were wrong. The one that is strongly for me was one of offense was a very success. I knew Judy. I know she runs a shop called the Juliana
Yeah so she told us that, well, actually, it's not just about what you're talking about. If you have more people, you can do more things. And when did, when we, when we visited her, she was doing a whole bunch of stuff like charity here, videography section here and diversify in all different ways.
And then she herself is LinkedIn promotion. That is really cool. It's like how does one person do so much? You hire lo. Yeah. So that's where I hope we can use for that, that we can outsource and delegate enough that we can then work on the new pillars. That's why I hope that.
He Ruiming: I think in the future, we might want to expand overseas as well.
when does involve, like, it can be a two man operation and we talk about impact, right? what would be the biggest impact is content to reach other countries on like a larger scale right now? What do you wish people small pocket. Hmm, Nigeria. it's really cool, but I would love
Wei Choon Goh: proper campaign.
He Ruiming: I'd love to be our generations, which
Wei Choon Goh: That's all. Yeah.
He Ruiming: can be a two men operation
Wei Choon Goh: Probably, yeah. I think still can .
He Ruiming: yeah, I was the one, like, like I've been hustling since I was 25, so seven years or a year. Wow damn tiring. Time to start winding hustle operation down by getting people to help.
Ling Yah: Do you feel like the content itself might change a bit because right now what you joined, you deliberately make it as Singapore and as possible during HDB flat. So it's very recognizable. So if you expand, you will probably change some of the way you do things as well.
Wei Choon Goh: I don't think it needs to change, and those are located because I mean, we consume stuff from Japan.
Well, I remember watching the mom when I was a kid and
all these things up stuff, and then put it back and then you just learn it. I got very used to seeing the Japanese suburbs, for example, it's just that the Japanese enemy culture, for example, in an upward was so compelling right there. We just learnt their culture. And I was always wondering if this was part of my, writings that I did.
That's my comment. My sister says, why can't we do that in Singapore? Why can't we just say, see a model like this? And then people go in where the housing owner, they were done laundry or hang on site, then they're going to look up. Oh, Singapore is actually because land scarcity compact housing.
This is national housing development lesson. I don't see why we can just export Singaporean locality. And we're facing that a little bit sometimes when our storage reach typically Western audiences, that assume that everything on the content, it just means that the United States as a default.
But I think it's changed by that. They will start to just have to record with the fan. I mean, this just me, all this he's like, yeah, it is very cool. I mean, it's so mainstream sometimes that people will see it and started looking at it from a us point of view, but it's also, I think a little bit of a limitation on their part that they should be able to understand that not everything is just maybe we
He Ruiming: view it.
And I feel like, I mean, What else? Money. I mean, we live in the most expensive city in the world. How people are trained to be the best employees, not necessarily the best entrepreneurs.
Wei Choon Goh: So sort of Singapore story, and identity is actually is a regular place to start talking about
He Ruiming: the foundation.
Right, right, right.
Wei Choon Goh: So, yeah, I'll pause the thing that is understandable. Why they have expertise
He Ruiming: talking about like hyper capitalistic society where we always have to make critical decisions over, like, I think my passion dreams. Yeah. I mean there are probably other countries like depend on these, but Singapore provides a very
Wei Choon Goh: good backdrop again, there is a real story there. Yeah. That we can leverage. I have no qualms about it being true to Singapore. And I think if we ever have people writing or making stories for us overseas, that they can find out. Yeah. Why not?
He Ruiming: Yeah. I think it doesn't need to be a pure Singapore thing.
It's just honesty. I just, Wei Choon Goh: like, honestly in Brazil, draw the favelas or whatever is true to you. I'm fine. Yeah.
Ling Yah: And what have been, the biggest highlights so far in doing this
For me, right, it was when Lee Hsien Loong shared about father'sWei Choon Goh: day there. Wasn't a story about his father getting retrenched in 1977. So Lee Hsien Loong doesn't share a lot of things. His wife shares about things this way, watching shares a lot of things.
We've always been gunning for her to share because the likelihood of her sharing something really high. Yeah. She shares a lot of stuff as you find the
thing and then there's the next thing would take off. Yeah. So Ho Ching, I don't think it's too bad. For Ho Ching, if you're watching this
for the PM of the country to share. I just went, wow, what is going on? And then people are texting me often, which Lisa did, you guys have read it? So it was kinda good also kind of neutral because I started wondering why is everything? So what now life. Do I just get very rich. Now this the money come to me now somehow, because it's just the DOJ, but I think I actually, they will all very good ramification that came on that I I'm so happy that.
, in us heading his story. And we took great pains to tell that story. I drew a generic
and he showed me like, it was completely different, but yeah, I actually did many, many versions of ship yachts always then.
For that to come out in a weird for the leader to share it in memory of his father, who was a kid agreeing founding fathers than just I approve it. But yeah, that was very great.
He Ruiming: One me like the way that you were compared to,
Wei Choon Goh: well, there's somebody radio story and
I texted him now. He just loved it. Oh,
Ling Yah: What do you think drives you? I suppose, it's very clear. There is so much work that's involved and this is not a sprint. It's a marathon. So what is it that keeps you going constantly doing this?
He Ruiming: One, obviously money. If I wasn't earning more than my previous job during this wounded, I don't know.
I'm not like I'll be like altruistic.
was like an easily. And knowing that your work helps people. We get it. I mean, we are fortunate to get it like real feedback on whether or not I'll work home or with them as helpful. So that is the kind of a seatbelt. You don't really get a lot of drops. Like you can be an accountant, then you can work on it for like 20 years.
the impact is really, quite hard to measure, especially in like a mall. A
Wei Choon Goh: diary. Yeah. Unless you are like a stand up comic, but there's not a lot more, you do a few better. You can get your feedback. That's even more direct, but I think this is really close. Right?
He Ruiming: So it's like the ikigai, right.
Wei Choon Goh: You're good at it. Society needs it. You add money from it and you like doing it. That's the fall. That's how you keep that for me also, I feel like money is number one hobby, and now that money you set. All right. I feel like it's great that we have money sort of stable ish. So we can now start thinking about impact.
And for me, the impact that I really like to get this. To raise the lower and the middle classes. I genuinely believe that if you start thinking longterm and start thinking just, long-term not about personal finance, even just start to think about personal finance, right. That everybody in society benefits, , even the people at the top, because a lot of people talk about reducing the gap by bringing the top down, then, , giving it a bit more
Sorry. I would rather push this, , I want to make sure that this line, I don't care about the debt as much as I want to make sure that the bottom right. Can move above whatever the cross. Yeah. Move it above a survival point where people can start making longterm decisions about money.
I had this incident happened to me where my, my girlfriend's shoes were stolen.
And I was very angry at the person who stole it. I, we eventually found the person and I stopped. This person's like, Instagram and Facebook. What kind of asshole steals shoes like this? But I also later found out that this person was in and out of prison. He had a very tough life probably, and I put myself in his shoes.
Ha ha. And I realized that well for somebody who is barely making ends meet, worrying about making this month and maybe even last month, retina not even paid it yet. How can I expect this person to think about my future to not get into jail because of really having a lightweight product back. And if I see a pair of dark matters, there were $200 on the resale market.
How can I not take it so everybody to get more enlightened about money, to understand what is real, just in pockets would hit and how much do I need to earn, to spend, to hit my targets in life? I think it will help everybody in society, not just in terms of what I talked about it. Maybe not more stealing things or making bad decisions than doing crime, but also in terms of purchasing power for people who start businesses.
He Ruiming: Nowadays there's like this woke thing going on, talking about social justice.
And they're doing a name or spreading awareness. The reason when I was about incoming inequality, I raised awareness about mental health, I mean, which is green. All right. But what is the next step after awareness?
For me, it's always been inaction and I feel it's too easy to get caught up with like, shared this thing. I've done my part. Okay. Now I can, fuck off. I've done everything already.
It's the responsibility of people if you really believe in it start doing tangible things that can help people.
Maybe it's about really giving financial aid, maybe like giving them opportunities for mental health. Maybe it's about giving them free counseling, giving it access to Therapy, reducing the wait times therapy. Plus if not, it's just a lot of troubleshooting.
A lot of, Hey, I did this, I shared this thing. Therefore I'm a champion of this and that. No, no. I mean, I
Wei Choon Goh: think money helps out a lot.
He Ruiming: Yeah. they're the same. It's always attributed to candy. I don't think that is it. be the change you want to see in this world.
And for me, like Woke Salaryman is I want to see that I can actually do the work that I do. And with the money that,
Ling Yah: So we've been talking about personal finance so much for those who are just getting into it. What are the tangible steps they can action. To start on that journey.
He Ruiming: Most important thing. if I'm going to say only one thing is to figure how to earn more money. I understand supply and demand, understand why you're paid this way versus like someone who's paid more increasing your earning power is the most important. Personal finance move. You can do that has the most impact.
Wei Choon Goh: you start thinking from the bottom or just especially from zero
He Ruiming: 200 K 200 K, this is the most important thing.
Wei Choon Goh: So maybe you say, what are the three things that you will do to increase wealth.
He Ruiming: Yes. Yeah. Earning saving and then investing. So obviously saving is always there.
You just build, spend like a ridiculous amount of money. You just live below your means. That's very clear, but owning is slightly more complicated because there's like an ego thing involved, right? Like your typical Asian more money is money too important, you know? And then there's like that whole veneer of like I don't want to earn more money because.
I'm not so money minded people are afraid to be seen as money minded, but okay, in reality, most people will be better off making more money. Right. I think it's damn rare to find someone who's like, I wish I didn't make too much. I think that sort of person is very rare .
So to earn more money, you just need to find out like what skills are in demand, you know, what do people need?
And then let me help you market yourself to actually score those jobs that people want to do.
There is a great difference in how to do something versus telling someone how to do something and getting the role. So I think Singaporeans and maybe Malaysians, to some extent, we are quite light reserved people.
So it's like, quite paiseh to talk about our shipments or what we can do, what we can value at the company, even likenegotiatea salary. So many times we sell ourselves short, as opposed to like the more so different cultures.
It's just to be more Western. Yeah.
Yeah. I know. I want to be paid $8000. And then people. I always find that you have like the underpaid local, who is there because the salary hasn't increased because they don't dare to ask, if you pay, say.
Maybe it's like, they expect like the salary to be every year. I would say, like, just push past all this like mental gymnastics and be very clear on how much you earn and really go ask for it. I think that is the number one most important thing.
The other one is leave below your means.
So obviously if you cannot afford something, you don't buy it up in Singapore. Typically the things that people always spend on is like the house, , they buy a house that is too big for them in a location that's too central for them. And the car, , Singapore is quite a convenient place.
so these are the two big things I would say that kill people's finances. The issue is actually about opportunity cost. Cause instead of buying these things, you could have invested the money and be making money instead versus buying these things. And I mean, for car in Singapore, it expires after 10 years.
That's it. It's quite a bad investment. And for a house, right, unless you can sell your house, you don't really monetize your house. You can't really earn money from it unless you rent, which a lot of Singaporeans don't because very shy. Very paiseh, also.
So living below our means is also really important. The last one is start investing early, but when I say investing, I don't mean like picking stocks because all the effort to pick stocks when you are them young, I don't think it's worth the time.
I think some personal finance experts out there will disagree. Some bloggers are, they will also disagree. I mean, we do three shout out, right? And time is better spent increasing income. That doesn't mean you should not invest it all. You just invest through the index or passive investing. like a robo-advisor or you buy like these things called index funds or ETS yourself, or if you really, really like are clueless about money, like worst case scenario, you can go to a financial advisor. All three of these are fine things to start. The important thing is to start investing early.
Because I mean, I'm sure you hit like the magic of compounding. So, compound interest. Last time you played the calculator. Thank you. That's essentially what the power of compounding is. So the idea of like fully a hundred percent in use and 70% interest, then it's 107%.
And then you have 7% of that, which is, I don't know.
you get a little money.
Ling Yah: And I wonder for other content creators, what's the one big piece of advice you would have for them.
Reality is somethingWei Choon Goh: good that comes from trying to deliver value. So just focus on value.
But also I would say don't be too cocky about the way you do things. Like I'm trying to wrap my head around Tik Tok and I just like, I'm so ready to give up on it because it's so short form. I just can't understand it, but I'm more of a YouTube guy.
I like long form stuff, a lot. I love podcasts and I just don't get Tik Tok but I still have to learn from it. And what I'm trying to do is to apply the things that I learned from Tik Tok to the way that I might start doing my YouTube channel. If I start one.
I've already started one, but it's very fledgling lah. So, what I try to do is to be less pedantic, just to get to the point as quickly as possible to get a shot as possible, but still it will run in the 20, 30 minute Mark.
So, I mean, social media changes all the time. Not even social media. Content creators, we're still in the information age. People say the information age is coming to an end, but we still very much deal in the business of information. I mean, if you are doing a content creation where you're making some kind of entertainment thing then it's show business and the rules actually have not changed. You're entertaining people.
It's just that the place that you are doing is different. And so the way that you are making your show and your business and your information business is different and you've to adapt, right. I'll never be so cocky too, to think that I am above. Facebook or that I'm better than all these platforms that I'm on.
We had a lot of the Facebook because we create content on it, but I would never, , say that I'm better than Facebook and I don't ever need Facebook. I will need whatever else. If people are flocking to go elsewhere, I have to learn the rules of engagement.
He Ruiming: Yeah. I mean, I mentioned earlier about earning power. And really, really understand supply and demand. And know that you are not invincible even after you created something. I always joke with
Wei Choon Goh: all the time.
He Ruiming: actually, it's only half joking because trends change so fast way and we are fully cognizant that this might not last long. And Complacent, this might not last long. And you do the best. You can also don't get your identity, like too tied up in it.
For example, if Woke Salaryman like dies three years from now afuture Rui Ming, please let me know if I was right. Then I think we will both be okay with either we go start something else or we go our separate
Wei Choon Goh: ways.
He Ruiming: Yeah. If some form of success falls in your lap, try to take it, try to ride it. See where it takes you about, but never let it become your identity.
Wei Choon Goh: And so for me, like my heat is
He Ruiming: over now. So maybe it will say maybe in the future we will do something else.
well, let's do
Wei Choon Goh: okay.
He Ruiming: that'll be fine. I mean, we are very privileged, that we have got an opportunity.
Wei Choon Goh: we worked hard. We frigging the side hustle while doing your nine to five job and it paid off. We got something out of it, even if this all crashes. We got something good out of it. So don't get too tied up in the fact that this is the Woke Salaryman. This is you now..
Don't let it become an identity because sometimes that leads to like hubris and pride and that prevents you from adapting
Ling Yah: So one of the big new platforms now is clubhouse. Which both of you have been on. And I really enjoyed, Ruiming, the rooms that you've been running, especially the one on the freelance writing. There was a lot of sharing.
Juliana was there too. And the two of you recently ran one where you only spoke Chinese.
What do you guys think of clubhouse?
He Ruiming: I think it's LinkedIn on steroids. Steroids. I think he'd be on, right. I don't think a lot of people on it, but I think Clubhouse has made this very like, clever move, to make it iOS only.
I think a lot of like thought leaders are using Apple.
I actually talked to like the one FC guy. , It's fact there's no video allows certain types of people who share more freely compared to let's say like zoom, where you can see yourself and become very like self-conscious. So audio is always a very like intimate form of communication. So it kind of replaces radio in a way.
Ling Yah: I'm just really curious because you guys are so visual. And this is an audio platform.
Wei Choon Goh: This is maybe where I struggle. So now that you said the young, maybe I was. And I will disclaim the hell out of this because I would hate for this to be taken out of context and then Clubhouse becomes the biggest damn thing and then oh this idiot. He said Clubhouse was stupid last time I could be completely wrong about, but I'm on the fence about prop house?
And I am sort of. just putting a flag there and see what I can do on it. The problem with clubhouse, I feel is that as an introvert, I feel like it's not good. This one's the list to get involve in a conversation that I feel likeit is a very elitist is a very, this thing because they have tacos and listeners. And I don't like this so much because even though you can raise your hand, it's like the idea of talking and not being able to type.
That's why I like Twitch. That's why I like YouTube, that's why I like Facebook live in a way because you can type, but understand that all the hype is around Clubhouse and I'll be there. I got to also stick my neck out and see what things are going on.
My other thing about Clubhouse that I don't like is the exclusivity of it. I don't like that nothing is recorded, it's good for the pandemic thing, because nobody is able to go to a bar and meet strangers and then just call and then nothing is required.
And there is some secretness with that, but I feel like if things go back to normal, then their sacredness is lost and Clubhouse will need to pivot into something else.
Like one of my friends made a great point about it.
He said exclusivity, right? A lot of times only works for the opening phase. So if you remember at Gmail, when it started, it was very exclusive because you had to be invited to be able to get on it. And it had some amazing amount of space, so everybody wants to get on it, but nowadays, everybody can get on Gmail.
So I'm quite sure it will change the valuation right now is very positive. So I don't want to look stupid by crapping on it much, but I'm on the fence lah, but I'll still be on it.
Ling Yah: What you said reminded me of what guy Kawasaki told me. Cause I interviewed him and he sat back. now you're in the early adopter stage, but to make it mainstream, it needs to be the kind where my wife is joining club house to join the local meeting scene.
And that's the way to plug into the local community. It has to be not marketers marketing to marketers. It has to be part of normal life.
Yeah, I think you summed it up great. Marketers marketing to marketers. I hate Wei Choon Goh: going into the room. And they're just all about productivity and creativity and a workspace. And I like to get in the groove, like just talking about positive things all the time.
The rooms that I have fun on a clubhouse all have some degree of authenticity and negativity to it. I want to see conflict. I want to see negative things and people coming out and really being vulnerable. I just want to see you talking about how great you are at your job.
Yeah. So I don't like LinkedIn on steroids.
I don't like that business model. They need to be more than that. And I think we've, tried some not to say I'm great at it, but I saw the mind that they always got some element that makes it a bit more yin and yang.
Ling Yah: Well, thank you guys so much for this wide ranging interview. I normally end with these questions. So for the first one, is this, Do you feel that you have found your why?
He Ruiming: Well, I think for the next five years, yes, but the future is always changing. So the why might always change.
Ling Yah: And what kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?
He Ruiming: Here's the question,
Wei Choon Goh: your honor, retirees or like famous actors.
He Ruiming: I feel like if
if we can inspire other people to start their own business or live by the principles that we will live by. That will be not bad for me.
Wei Choon Goh: For me, it is becoming the Rich Dad Poor Dad of our generation, basically helping to start a lot of people's journeys into personal finance.
Ling Yah: What do you think are the most important qualities a successful person should have?
Humility is like a big one. Humility probably He Ruiming: prevents a lot of successful people from being even more successful. So once you are unable to take criticism, then that's when your slow decline starts . Yeah.
But of course, I'm not saying like, listen to everyone, listen to some people, but not everyone because clearly some opinions matter more than others.
Wei Choon Goh: Yeah, mine will be similar, like on the note of humility, I will do that more towards the interpersonal point of view where I would treat everyone the same. So if I'm kind of a snarky guy, I'm a bit like kuai lan and I'm always a bit sarcastic. I will treat everybody like that. If I meet important people, I'm like that.Like you know, e the people that I hire, I wouldn't be the same way.
The fastest way I lose respect for somebody is to hear somebody talk to somebody that he or she deems lower. And to hear that quick dismissal and that lack of basic respect. I hate that in people yeah.
that's why I say you sarcastic what's on their mind. Just be right there too. Yeah.
He Ruiming: why we see that as a counterpoint to being successful is that I think that is the biggest threat facing successful people because you have risen and become somebody influential that people listen to you attain success and hubris and pride is the most scary thing that is missing is I know we talk a lot about rich people problems.
I think the number one problem, which people have this.
it was successful people. that threat is real. Yeah.
Ling Yah: And where can people go to connect with you? Support everything that you are doing
So we're on Facebook at facebook.com/thewokesalaryman and thenWei Choon Goh: we're also on Instagram. You can find those at the Woke Salaryman. We're also on telegram. We're on the website called thewokesalaryman.com. The "the" is very important.
And we're also thinking about doing Tik Tok and also do YouTube and podcast, so watch
Ling Yah: There's a patron as well, right?
Wei Choon Goh: Yes. We're thinking about stopping that because I think better for people to just save their money or invest it. Because at the beginning point of the time, it was very necessary and it helped a lot.
But now I think actually we feel the love. People love us and we are very, very grateful. Yes. But I think we don't need it or otherwise channel it towards a charity.
I think the best way to, for people to support us. Down the line is to understand that we will do sponsored content, first off. Yes. And also we've been giving money to charity and stuff to impact real campaigns.
We sponsored some free sessions of Fremantle counseling. So we might want to mobilize in a way next time that requires people to either share or also match us. So if we give a certain amount and they can contribute and support us in those ways.
Ling Yah: And that was the end of episode 40, the show notes and transcript can be found at www.sothisismywhy.com/40. and also a link to subscribe to this podcast's weekly newsletter. Featuring all kinds of other inspiring and interesting things I found over the course of the week.
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