Welcome to Episode 112 Part 2!
STIMY Episode 112 Part 2 features Eric Sim.
In Part 1 (head over to listen if you haven’t done so!), we learned that Eric grew up with an illiterate mother & father who ran a prawn noodle shop. Eric often helped out so he would go to school smelling like prawns!
He was shy. Lacked social skills. Failed his maths, english lit & history papers. Bombed his first job in FX sales.
BUT somehow… he became MD of UBS.
In Part 2, we find out the reason behind Eric leaving it all behind, how he became one of Linkedin’s top influencers in Singapore and China, with 2.9 million followers, his thoughts on the importance of having a second career, personal branding, his journey in writing a book and marketing it in English and China, and so much more.
If you feel stuck in your career, or don’t know how to stand out from your peers, then this is the roadmap to adopt. 😉
P/S: Don’t forget to listen to our special Questions from the Audience with Eric Sim episode too!
Want to be the first to get the behind-the-scenes at STIMY & also the hacks that inspiring people use to create success on their terms?
Don’t miss the next post by signing up for STIMY’s weekly newsletter below!
Why did Eric Sim leave behind his job as Managing Director of UBS?
Eric had the world at his feet.
He had gone from selling prawn noodles at his father’s hawker stall in Singapore to becoming the Managing Director of UBS Investment Bank.
So why did he throw it all away? 😱
What comes after all that?
For Eric, a lot more.
- 2:39 Why stop being the Managing Director?
- 3:53 Pursuing a portfolio career
- 5:57 The start of Eric’s LinkedIn journey in Hong Kong
- 7:45 Content pillars
- 9:13 How do you gain 2.9 million LinkedIn followers?!
- 10:01 Why LinkedIn?
- 13:59 Where’s the line?
- 16:13 Building community
- 22:16 Small Actions
- 25:20 Should I write a book?
- 26:44 Self-publication & Kinokuniya’s Kenny Chan
- 28:42 Marketing
- 30:29 What’s the China market like?
Some of the things we talked about in this STIMY Episode can be found below:
- Eric Sim: LinkedIn, Twitter
- Read Eric’s book (5 free chapters on Amazon!)
- Institute of Life
- Subscribe to the STIMY Podcast for alerts on future episodes at Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher & RadioPublic
- Leave a review on what you thought of this episode HERE or the comment section of this post below
- Want to be a part of our exclusive private Facebook group & chat with our previous STIMY episode guests? CLICK HERE.
Ep 112 Part 2: Eric Sim (former MD, UBS Investment Bank with 2.9 million LinkedIn followers)
Eric Sim: LinkedIn is different from other social media because you can build true relationship. Cause you can check their background, right? Education background and career. And most of the time it's real, right? They cannot fake or hide behind a fake profile. Yeah, it's quite easy to tell.
So I find that is the most valuable thing to me. In fact, my entire life now has changed because of LinkedIn. The business that I've gotten. I'm paid for speeches. University pay me. I get my executive coaching client without really doing selling just because of my articles. They approach me and they want me as a coach.
So LinkedIn can bring you business opportunity. Valuable network. I call them high quality connection.
Ling Yah: Hi everyone!
Welcome to episode 112th part two of the So This Is My Why podcast.
I'm your host and producer Ling Yah, and today's guest, who's back is Eric Sim. Now, if you haven't already listened to part one of Eric's story, please hit pause on this episode. Go back and listen to that first, because in part one, we learned about who Eric is.
He grew up with an illiterate mom and the father who ran a prawn noodle hawker store. Eric often helped up, so he would go to school smelling like prawns. He was shy, didn't have any social skills, failed his mathematics, English literature, and history papers, bombed his first job in FX sales, and then he became the managing director of UBS.
Because he worked really hard, he knew the importance of networking a nd so many other things that he did, which you have to listen to part one to find out.
Now, for part two, we learned about why Eric left his high flying job as a managing director, how he became one of LinkedIn's top influences in Singapore and China with 2.9 million followers.
His thoughts are the importance of having a second career, personal branding, his journey of writing a book and marketing it in English and China. And so much more.
Also, if you haven't done so already, please do consider subscribing to the STIMY newsletter. It's weekly, and I share about the tools, frameworks, and stories from successful people on how they've built their lives, personal branding, and also how we can prepare ourselves for the future of work.
Now, are you ready?
So given that you are so successful, why do you decide to leave investment banking?
Eric Sim: So I thought if I continue to work, I will make a bit more money, but what am I going to do with that? I'm not going to buy a bigger car, bigger house, you know? Mm-hmm. I'm still eating in the Hawker Center half the time and I wear almost the same thing every day. So there's no need to buy clothes.
Ling Yah: The blue suit.
Eric Sim: Yeah. So how can you live an interesting life? Our life, the life 1.0 is you study hard, get a job, buy things, and try to be happy from buying these things, right? But those material possession, once you have it, you realize that the enjoyment is not very long.
You buy a nice car, maybe enjoy for a couple of months after that, you are worried somebody scratch your car. You buy a big house, if you are sad and miserable, you come back to a big house, it's not gonna help you also. So how can you make your life better, I think is to make an impact, help other people.
And sometimes you don't need a lot of money to be happy. But of course, don't need a lot of money. I still have decent amount of money from my investment and from my years of working.
Ling Yah: So what did happiness look, for you then? Because you said you left investment banking to pursue a portfolio sort of career. What that look like?
Eric Sim: Portfolio career means I can do all the things I like, if I like to give a speech, I writing on LinkedIn doesn't pay me much directly. Giving a speech, I get paid if it's a keynote speech, but if I give a speech to non-profit organization, sometimes they just buy 100 copies of my books.
They don't pay me. I don't see the money. You know, the books are given to the attendees. But when somebody come to you to say, thank you for your article, thank you for your book it makes me feel good that I make a difference to people. And there was once that I was at a chicken rice store after my gym.
I go to a specific chicken rice store in Raffles place. It's called the Arcade. I've been patronizing it for 10 over years. In front of me was a man. He was wearing office wear. Young man, white shirt, tall. When his turn to order the chicken rice and the chicken rice cost him five Singapore dollars.
He checked his wallet. He only got three. So I'm thinking maybe this guy really got no money, Not that he forgot to bring. It's very strange from the way he looked. He was expecting it to be $3 because I think in neighborhood stores, chicken rice only for $3. So it's five. It's an embarrassing moment. There was kind of a silence.
The owner looking at him. He looking at the owner don't know what to do, so I just take, take out $2 note. I give it to the store owner say, okay, I cover for him and then sat down and he was happy because he got his lunch. I was happy I helped somebody. The store owner was happy because the queue can continue to move, otherwise he gets stuck.
And this $2 is well spent because I gotta tell the story over and over again. If I had used it to buy a bar of chocolate, that the enjoyment you get is only for that one minute eating that chocolate. But this is there for me to remember that I make somebody's life better.
He wanted to pay me somewhere. I said, forget it, you know, it's okay. Enjoy your lunch. So we didn't exchange contact. I said, you don't need to do anything for me.
Ling Yah: I love the point you said about how I get to tell this story over and over again because it resonates with me as a connect creator, where I realize that yeah, every single part of your life, you're constantly on the lookout.
Oh, this could be a story. Let's take a picture, and then you think, how can I weave it in? Can I retell it ? Oh, it's been three months. Let's say it again. Yeah. This entire journey for you started way, way earlier, back in 2015 again. Clearly a very momentous year for you. Yeah.
You were in Hong Kong, Chinese New Year. You wrote your first LinkedIn post, but you were still MD at the time, so why did you feel like this was the time to write when you were nervous as well?
Eric Sim: Yeah. I always wanted to be a blogger. So one year before that, I asked my blogger friend. She was a food blogger, and say, Hey, I wanna write a blog, how? Use WordPress.
I said, what is WordPress? That's all she had. We used WordPress. I got no clue. So I gave up. And one year later, over Chinese New Year in Hong Kong, I got we got three days of holiday and I didn't come back that particular year. Normally I come back to Singapore, but I really came back for Christmas, which was just a month before.
So I decided, why don't I write a Linkedln article and I want to write about learning. I said that I failed my mathematics, so from then on, I felt that I should learn. So every year I learned something. I wrote about that and to my surprise, there were like 70 views. I say why was 70 people want to read my article? although, There were couple of Likes. Maybe seven likes. Some from people that I don't not know.
I was overjoyed because any article that I wrote in school, only two views my teacher and me, and neither of us like my article. So I continue writing because it gave me some encouragement and I wrote every week for the last eight years.
Ling Yah: Did you have an idea of why you were writing? What the content pillars were, or did it evolve over time?
Like for instance, I want to establish myself as a thought leader in the banking space. Therefore, I would talk a lot about the banking space and how it's evolved. But I'll have one way. I want people to know me for personal branding, so I'll always talk about that too.
Eric Sim: I have no clue. Number one, I cannot write about banking because the work I do is very private. It involves sensitive information. So I intentionally stayed away from banking topic. Because sometimes people can know just from the place I travel to.
If I travel to Chindao. They know what client, because some deals are already happening, so I cannot on social media, let people know where I travel to or who I meet.
People can triangulate the information. So I talk about career and also I was teaching in a university and then my students, they were always asking me for career advice and I cannot do one-to-one cuz too many students. So I say that I'll write my article. Anybody who ask me, then I just give them my Linkedln and say, you can read those articles.
The advice is there. And I feel what I can share is my career journey, what I've learned. So that's what I wanted to share. Mainly to help young people. To help my students. Initially was maybe banking, finance in Asia. Then after that slowly moved beyond Asia because I find that people in London, in the UK were also reading my articles and eventually now it went beyond banking and finance.
Ling Yah: You make it sound so simple, so easy. It's just whatever I feel like writing. You have 2.9 million followers. How on earth did that happen?
Eric Sim: Yeah, because you know, I teach in a university and really in the top university. So if I go to Cambridge, you know, some Cambridge student were add me, and when other students see Cambridge students adding me, they will also follow me.
Then I've done like really, really like the 10 top university. I've done Chicago, I've done Oxford, and Hong Kong. UST I was the adjunct associate professor as well. So with this is one, and also I give speeches for various organizations like C F A and China is a big market. India is a big market.
Yeah, definitely not just from Singapore. Singapore is too small.
Ling Yah: Would you say that more and more people are aware of how important LinkedIn is? What would your advice be for people who are professionals? You know, thinking about maybe jumping on LinkedIn. Everyone seems to be talking about it, but don't know how.
Don't know why.
Eric Sim: Yeah. LinkedIn is different from other social media because you can build true relationship. Cause you can check their background, right? Education background and career. And most of the time it's real, right? They cannot fake or hide behind a fake profile. Yeah, it's quite easy to tell.
So I find that is the most valuable thing to me. In fact, my entire life now has changed because of LinkedIn. The business that I've gotten. I'm paid for speeches. University pay me. I get my executive coaching client without really doing selling just because of my articles. They approach me and they want me as a coach.
So LinkedIn can bring you business opportunity. Valuable network. I call them high quality connection. It opens up your mind cause you can read other people's article and journaling help you reflect and tell your own story. Tell your better story. And a lot of time you are made out of stories because if I ask you how much are you willing to give up your memory if I pay you a million dollars and then you wipe off your memory. You only can speak. But you don't know what you have done.
Would you be willing? Most people are not willing, unless you are suffering mentally. But a normal person wouldn't give up their memory for millions of dollars. So we are made out of stories and by writing you will be able to form that story. And the story is not fixed.
Sometimes people feel the things happen to you is fixed. But no, it depends on how you tell. And the most important story is the story you tell yourself. And this has evolved. My life has evolved mainly because of LinkedIn and I'm meeting people outside of my industry and also outside of the countries that I operate in.
And that you can't get. Even you go to a networking event, you meet in person. You are unlikely to meet people very different from you. Most likely you in the same city, same age group, right? Same industry. That's why there's a networking event. Now I'm meeting people who are on the creative side. Different nationality different age group.
I was invited to go to Madrid to shoot a video with the dean of IE university Business School, all because of LinkedIn. I went to India to give speeches for cfa. Also because of LinkedIn. They got to know me, then they invited me.
I went to Bahrain. At that time I didn't know where Bahrain is.
Yeah. But now I've been there, delivered the speech. Eat the best chicken briyani ever in my life and make some really good friends. And also help me understand the GCC, the Middle East countries a little bit better by traveling there.
Ling Yah: I couldn't agree with you more. That's how I discovered the power of LinkedIn as well.
And one of my upcoming guests is the former US House of Representative who's Barney Frank of the Dodd- Frank Act. Oh. And that will have never happened if I wasn't writing LinkedIn. And one of his really good friends reached out and said, I really like what you write, if I'm ever in KL, let's meet up.
We did. And he said, I'll make the introduction. So yeah, I will have never been able to speak to Barney if not for this LinkedIn. So could agree with you more. Haven't reached your level yet. Maybe one day I can go to Bahrain. .
Eric Sim: Yeah. It's life changing. If you write sincerely, giving value. But some people may use it the wrong way.
Yeah. If you use it to show off or to keep telling people about your achievement that you are speaking at this event. You got paid, you got traveling, then you will not benefit. It looks good, it looks glamorous, but you are not going to make good connection. You may get engagement on your post, but it is the relationship that counts.
Ling Yah: But that line is so hard to find, right? I mean, this is the humble brag post. On one hand you could say, you talk about the fact that you've wrote on LinkedIn and you get all these opportunities and that opens the eyes of everyone else. Mm-hmm. So it's not really bragging, it's telling people this is possible.
Mm-hmm. But it also could be, cuz you're saying, look at me, look at me. Then you've got, right now all the layoffs. I saw this one post recently where this person said, everyone's making it viral, but it's all a very, look at me, look at me. I'm gonna help you. I can jump on the call with you, but are you really?
I'm gonna comment for further reach. Yeah. What does that even mean? So how do you even draw that line? Cuz it feels are still LinkedIn more and more is like a personal diary. Yeah. And then at the same time, you know, people would feel very icky as well going, I want a share if I feel icky reading other people, how can I contribute to that too?
Eric Sim: Hmm. I think it's intention. What is your real intention? Is your intention to show off, or is your intention to help? The Post can be very similar, but it's the intention that people, I think subtly they can tell. Plus sometimes they meet you in person and also you got friends. Right now with social media, all the people are connected.
So my test is, can you bring your school friends, your ex colleague, your Linkedln followers all come together and whatever story they tell about you is coherent, or you are the type of person that Liinkedln people know you as one but your colleague is bad mouthing you because you are a difficult person to work with at work.
Your previous classmate think of your different. But sometimes it's quite easy to create an online persona.
Ling Yah: But then you also have to write to protect yourself because there is that whole privacy security part as well. Once whatever's out there is out there forever.
Eric Sim: Yeah. So I don't share about my family outing.
My children, I don't share that. So that's private. You can still post, but it's private. A lot of people do not know like, how many family members I have. Whether I'm married or not, because that is private I think. That is not necessary to tell people because I don't think that will help people in their career.
And if you've got good intention, I think you'll be okay. Then you just trust your own intention.
Ling Yah: You said before to focus on three things: content, consistency, community. So I wanna talk about community in particular because I also found that to happen with LinkedIn. I wrote this post quite a few months ago and I said, do you wanna meet new and interesting people?
Mm-hmm. To my surprise, a lot of strangers said yes. And I had people coming in from Penang to kl. Singapore to , and they all came together just because of this random LinkedIn post. And I said, obviously you run your own gatherings and I wonder how did you first start? What has it been like for you?
Eric Sim: I've been doing this networking event since I was with Citi. I started with arranging just within my department, cuz my boss usually like me to take care of the juniors. You know, the interns, some of the more problematic younger colleagues to coach them. So then I will match my younger colleagues with the more senior one.
Then I progress to do cross department within Citi. Then after that cross banks within the industry. And now I do just anybody who is interested in self development. And I find very valuable to introduce people. So hopefully they can do some business together.
Now is for selfish reason because I get invited to do coffee, meeting lunch.
I cannot do one-to-one. I don't have to bandwidth. So what I'll do is usually like once in three months I'll host one event and those people who have invited me who wanted to see me, then I put them all in one. So I get to meet them. Then also they get to meet each other and it's a good use of my time.
That's why I have book events is also for that.
Ling Yah: What are your thoughts in terms of how to make a successful networking event? There are so many of them. Yeah. How do you make it something that stands out? I noticed one example you gave, which is asking people to bring a personal item, which I really, really liked and I've not used before, but I wonder.
Any other tips?
Eric Sim: Yeah. So for networking, number one is I stagger the arrival time because I want to spend maybe five to 10 minutes individually with people. So I don't say, okay, six o'clock everybody come. Then if everybody come around at six o'clock time, I got problem spending time with people. So I usually stagger 5:30, 1 or 2 persons that I wanna talk business.
Then the six o'clock. Then those younger people, they cannot leave work early can come at 6:30, 7:00. And come early or leave early because sometimes they have family.
Ling Yah: This is assuming they come on time. Right. Malaysians are never on time.
Eric Sim: Yeah. It's okay. I mean, at least you stagger.
With me people tends to be on time. In fact, most of time they are early. So there is one and I try to link up people, so senior executive with student. I try to introduce them and make them talk to them. Otherwise, people is gonna stay in one corner. If you don't do anything, three people are gonna stay and most likely they talk among the people that they already knew, right. Because very difficult to go and say hi to people.
I break them up. I will match foreigners with local, somebody who's to new to town. I say, okay, this person might be a good tour guide for you. And then lawyers and bankers.
No point introducing banker and banker, lawyers and banker. Hopefully, potentially there's some business to be made.
Landlord and tenant. Landlord could be office landlord, tenant could be a company trying to find office space. And sometimes there are people who are single. Right. Because people who come to me, they're all usually of certain quality and If they are single, then I try to help them widen their network.
Ling Yah: It sounds as though, you know every single person who comes very well. Is that a prerequisite?
Eric Sim: Yeah, yeah. Usually I know their background cause with LinkedIn, you know, they have been following me. Usually I invite those people who have been following me for a while.
So we would have some messages and from the comments that they write on my post, I know what they're thinking. And are they suitable to come for the networking event? And then can they contribute to the group?
Ling Yah: I suppose anyone listening here would be thinking, oh, I'd like to be on that list. What can I do?
What are you looking for it?
Eric Sim: Yeah. So I look for people who are willing to help others. I look for people who are passionate about learning so that they got some interesting thing to contribute to the conversation. And it's also easier if they have read my articles or read my book. So among them, they have common topic.
Because I try to pull people from different industry, different nationality, different age group.
There must be something in common to start the conversation. Otherwise, such random people, how can they find each other interesting?
Ling Yah: Love that you talk about the book because we have to talk about the book. I have it right here. Happens to be the same orange .
Eric Sim: Thank you. Thank you for buying the book.
Ling Yah: Well, it was actually gifted to me because of LinkedIn. Through a FRA connection I made through LinkedIn. Oh. By this person called Mike Sim. There was a comment a while back where people were asking, are you brothers? But you're not brothers from the same mother. Yeah. So power of LinkedIn, I mean like basically you come together, you meet people on the Never Go,
Eric Sim: So he send it to you to Malaysia.
He's delivered to,
Ling Yah: He sent it. Yeah. So basically I thought, okay, the kind of feedback I always get when I tell people you should get on LinkedIn is, Oh, but I dunno what to write or I'm very scared to write. Mm-hmm. I can't do it consistently. So I thought, well one way to do it is to build a community. So why don't I just again, write a LinkedIn post and say, Hey, does anyone want to try this random group? It's free.
Just commit to every single week, one person would decide on the theme. Everyone will write, support each other. Yeah. So he joined and then he went, I like it so much. Can I give you this book? I was like, oh, that's really kind because I was looking into this book right now, .
Oh wow. And then we have this interview.
Eric Sim: So yeah, Mike is really something. Yeah, yeah. Really kind how to connect. And he's sincere as well.
Ling Yah: Yeah. And he's given this book to many other people too. . Yeah. So he should definitely be on your list, .
Eric Sim: Yes, yes, yes. I do invite him from time to time.
Ling Yah: So we have to talk about the book. Very interesting title, huge fonts, small Actions.
What is it all about? How did it come to be?
Eric Sim: Because in my life I, I was kind of a coward, right? So I don't really make a lot of big, big decision or take huge amount of risk. I realized that in my life is because of the small action I took. I took the small action of listening to my friend Paul Leong, when he say, Hey, you can write in unsolicited.
So I wrote in unsolicited. If I didn't write an unsolicited, I wouldn't have gone to DBS. Maybe I didn't have a banking career.
And the small action of writing that first Linkedln article in 2015 over Chinese New way in Hong Kong. It's also a small action that leads to now. And if I didn't write the article, I wouldn't have so many articles. Without so many articles, I wouldn't write the book.
So it's all that little thing. And I thought maybe I should put it into a book. Plus, there are quite many of my followers, they want to read my old articles. I don't have a habit of repeating my articles, even if they've gone viral. So to find those articles from long time ago, I wrote an article about Hawker Chan after interviewing him.
It gathered more than 90,000 likes. Wow. Okay. And if you wanna find the article, you need to scroll through a lot back to 2016. You know, you need to scroll through few hundred articles. And if you don't have a powerful computer right, your comput will crash .
So, how can I help my followers to read my content in a more structured manner?
So then I downloaded five years worth of article. So I started writing in 2015. 2020, covid hit. I say, cannot travel anymore. I travel every month, you know, usually twice a month. When I was in banking, I travel almost every week.
I cannot travel then it is downtime. So I say that is a good time to write a book. Downloaded all the articles onto Excel. Rank them. Find those more popular article and find those articles that are not so popular.
But could be sometimes because of algo it didn't reach wide audience, but the content is good. I expand them, combine some and some use I use it to write a full chapter.
Then I organize them because some will be about networking, some about personal branding, some about thinking about life. So I arrange all of them.
Then finally, I think, okay, it is good to have a book. My publisher say it will open doors for me. I believed him, and it did open a lot of doors for me.
And also I enjoy making this entire book from the color, the fonts, the layout, they out. Even where the page number is, right? If you flip the book, the fonts I used. Even the little slash positioning. The table of content. Yeah. I did it and it is a very satisfying project for me.
Ling Yah: You are one of those people with an opinion on everything.
Eric Sim: Yes. Yeah. So I'm my publishers Nightmare because I want to have a say on every single thing.
Ling Yah: You said something interesting: opening doors. And that's something that has personal interest for me cuz I was to write a book mm-hmm. And so it was that whole question of, oh, is this the right time? Should I write a book?
People say open doors, but what does that mean really? Does it really give prestige? What are your thoughts about that?
Eric Sim: Not, not prestige. I went to Lego to give a talk because of the book and they bought many copies.
It was good. I mean, without the book, I wouldn't even gotten there. And also with the book, it's easier for people to sell you as a career coach, as as a speaker.
And also for me, it's putting all my thoughts clearly because I read the book the English version, I would've read like 20 times.
And the Chinese version, I need to read another 10 times. So this make it really solid. But these are your story. It builds you.
And you also learn about the publishing process. How a bookstore work, how a publisher works, who makes the money, you know, is it the printer? So that learning also help broaden your thinking and with a book comes a bit more credibility. Yeah. So it's easier, but before you publish the book, you wouldn't know.
It's difficult to guess what kind of doors it will open. So you have to really write and publish it first.
Ling Yah: Did you ever think about self publication? Because that's the e eternal debate right now, right? Yeah. I mean, like publication, even with the big house, ultimately marketing comes down to us. They wouldn't really push it that much.
Eric Sim: Yeah. However you publish, you have to do the promotion and marketing yourself. Unless it's mainland Chinese book. My Chinese book is on a machine. I don't have to do it. The publisher is really doing it. So there is a different method of book.
But for English book, yeah, you have to promote the book on your own.
The difference between self-publish and published by a established publisher is whether it gets to the bookstore or not.
The bookstores are doing events for me. There's Azo Bookstore, a Chinese bookstore, already did two events, and Kino is going to do one.
Ling Yah: Kinokuniya kenny, you mentioned Kenny quite a few times.
Eric Sim: Yeah, Kenny is a legend, right? He's a legendary book seller. He told me it's going to be a classic. On day one when the book, a lot of confidence . He already said it's gonna be a classic.
I said, how can you tell? He said you know 30 years of experience in the book business. So It really will open doors because you'll get to be invited by some very senior people.
So SLA, Singapore Land Authority Chief Executive, the c e o, invited me to give a talk to his staff. With a book is easier. Without a book sometimes it's like, what can you talk about? And then people do not know. So they need to ask you a lot. With the book, it's much more concise because there's a summary and they can also sell you internally.
Ling Yah: So people are a lot more likely to read a book and understand cuz the content is also on LinkedIn. But as you said, it's harder to navigate.
Eric Sim: But sometimes they don't need to read the book. They can just read the paper of content and the synopsis. They already know what you represent. And is it worth asking you to come in to give a talk?
All of that will have a ripple effect. Somebody from the audience may want to do business with you.
Ling Yah: Let's talk about just the English part first before the mandarin part. English part, what is the reality of marketing a book? I see you constantly giving book signings .
You just had one, you change all your LinkedIn profiles banner as well also on your CV to make sure that people know there is a signing. So clearly a lot of personal touch involved.
Eric Sim: But this one is also depends on the bookstore. Kinokuniya said that, no, it's about time. The book has already been launched for more than a year.
It is about time we do a book signing. Of course there must be sales. Like if your book got no sales , then they won't bother. Off the shelf . Yeah. It will be pulled off the shelf because it's taking up space. Bookstore doesn't have enough space. Kinokuniya is huge, but it still need to display books that can sell.
Ling Yah: So 'can sell' is over 2000 then.
Eric Sim: Can sell, yeah, I must be selling few thousand copies. Yeah. Mm-hmm. Okay.
You want to also help the bookstore. So if the bookstore arrange a event, if I don't promote it, then the bookstores effort will be wasted. So bookstores are not easy to survive these days.
I hope bookstores will be around because you know, it's so good to go to the bookstore and be surprised by the range that they offer.
If you just go to Amazon, it means you need to know what books to buy before you can go to Amazon. It may refer you one or two books based on your other interest, but sometimes the computer or the Algo not know what you really are.
So by going to a bookstores, you are free. Then you can go into visual call.
Maybe you always wanted to do design, maybe you want to improve your writing. So let the bookstore wow you. And I think that is very important to keep. So when a bookstore hosts the event, I make sure I promote it well enough. Yeah.
Ling Yah: And what about in China? Because it sounds like it operates very differently there.
Eric Sim: In China, it's really a machine. So every week I'm on live streaming, so my publisher will arrange influencer to host me to talk about the book and they will ask the follower to buy. In two hours they sell like 500 copies of my book. Wow. Yeah. That's the kind of power that the live streaming and the e-commerce has and the views for the live streaming, 10 to 50,000 each time.
Ling Yah: What do you think is the reason behind so much interest? And it's not just interest, it's conversion into actual sales as well.
Eric Sim: Conversion into actual sales is also depending on the chemistry between the influencer and me. Mm-hmm. Yeah. So some are able to dive into the book asking very insightful question and can bring up the story in me.
Then some may be more commercial, I just buy the book. Then maybe the conversion is not not high because some, they are live streaming book. Every day is about one book. So they are immune.
But some, they do like 10 books a year because they do other topics. So for the 10 books that they have chosen, they really select carefully.
So I did one with a Tsinghua professor. He reviews 25 books a year. So every month, he reviews two books. So I was one of the book end of last year. He really brought up my story and there was a good conversion. .
Ling Yah: That's amazing. So it sounds as though micro influencers are the way to go, especially in China and it needs to be those who care enough to actually do the work.
Eric Sim: Yeah. These are not really micro because each viewing 10,000 people live listening in. Yeah. Not, not too micro already.
Ling Yah: Mega.
Okay. Before we move on, one big question that everyone always has is the finances. So obviously you have JK Rowling. She's the only author who's ever made billions. Not that easy, honestly, isn't.
What is the reality?
Eric Sim: I think book you won't make a lot from the book sale alone. So you can make money through speaking.
I also make some by helping brands tell their stories because, you know, you have a book, you have more credibility. Some brands want to look for you to do work. But usually the brands that I work with, they are quite big companies. Then they can pay higher fees cuz I'm not selling small item things.
I help them sell their brand. And they could be a financial institution. So when they're associated with me, sometimes they feel there is trust. My trust, the trust that my followers have in me is transferred to them.
Ling Yah: One final question before we move on.
A very short elevator pitch. Why should people buy and read the book?
Eric Sim: Buy and read the book? If they want to improve their life, if they want to feel better about themselves and they can use this book to reflect because the book has got 66 chapters. So there are 66 stories. Mm-hmm.
I would say one third of it would resonate with the people because this is what they have been doing.
They'll feel good. They're doing the right things. The other one is confirmation. They're not so sure whether what they're doing is correct, so this will confirm so that they can do more of that.
Another one third of the book would be something new they have never thought of. I never thought I should have one restaurant to entertain. I never thought of downsizing my belongings, you know, my possession, my clothes.
So there'll be something new or they never thought you can learn from the people around us, the tailors, the hawker, the taxi drivers.
Ling Yah: The story on the restaurants definitely was something new that I learned as well from this.
And it's very easy to consume cuz you put a lot of personal stories. So very quick to go through.
The book, when I was finishing it, I got the theme of you telling people you need to take a leap of faith. Take a leap of faith. I wonder when was the last time you took a leap of faith?
Eric Sim: I took leap of faith quite often. Some smaller, some bigger.
Going to China was one. And moving to UBS was another. Taking a leap of faith to be a keynote speaker. When somebody pay me, I dunno whether I can deliver. Cause it's you know, huge amount of money. I trust that I can deliver.
I went and then it was it was good. A lot of things I do, it's the first time, right? Brands paying me money to help promote their brand, but with authentic story. Not just, Hey, go, go and buy this product.
So it also something new for me. So I took the leap of faith to say, yeah, I'll do it. I'll try and if I don't deliver, then I will not accept the money.
Ling Yah: What about your biggest regret then?
Eric Sim: Biggest regret? I think I have many regrets.
All them are quite big. I wish I've taken more opportunities. There was one time in secondary school . I was in the technical stream so we did woodwork and metal work.
This is a Singapore education system. At that time, they think, you know, we maybe technician one day. I was quite good in my woodwork.
My teacher asked me, Hey, why don't you join this competition? It was on a Saturday. I wasn't confident I'm gonna win the competition. I said, I don't wanna waste time. So I said, no, I don't want to go for the competition.
And also because my classmate was saying that those people who do woodwork, you're going to be making coffin in the future.
So it's better to do metal work. I was harsh. I was influenced by all this. I wish I knew better and I would have gone for the woodwork competition. Whether I win or not doesn't matter, but it signified when the opportunity is presented to you, even you are not very confident, sometimes you just have to take it and try your best.
Ling Yah: And it also brings me back to the very beginning this interview, when you said, just don't follow the status quo.
Eric Sim: Mm. Don't make average decision. If you make average decision, you're gonna have an average life. If you want an interesting life, make interesting decision. Interesting decision means you don't go with the flow.
Ling Yah: Well, Eric, what a fantastic note to end on. I know I've kept you here for a while, but we still have some questions left. I ask this question of every single guest. Hmm.
The first one is this. Do you feel like you have found your why?
Eric Sim: I think I'm not there yet. I'm living my life 2.0. Just not life. 1.0 is study hard, find job, make money, buy things.
Life 2.0 money is also part of it, but it's not the most important part and it's not the only way to find happiness. So I thought we should do things that give you meaning and try to find happiness without going through money.
Gather or gain a wide range of experience. Meet a wide range of people. So this is not finding my why. Because sometimes, right, life may not have any meaning. Because sometimes people, okay, we should find a meaning of life.
But is there meaning in life? Maybe life is just living and making a few people around you feel better, improve their life. That's good enough.
Did my father has meaning in his life? He sold prawn noodles of for 30 years. Every day is the same. The way you arrange the stall, right. The positioning of the planks when they close the door is exactly the same. That is repeated day after day.
His meaning of life is after work, after he close the store, go to a coffee shop, have a bottle of beer, smoke, then come back, rest a bit, watch TV next day is the same thing.
Is there meaning in his life? I'm not so sure. But is it a good life? I think it is because he supported us and whatever he have, he used that money to pay for our education.
So I, I don't think so much of finding a why or finding the meaning.
Ling Yah: Do you think about legacy then? What kind of legacy do you wanna leave behind?
Eric Sim: No. I, I don't think of this. So when I die, it is gone . So it doesn't matter what people think of me. I won't be around to know. I think more importantly is we live now. Especially for my current stage of life, right?
I should live more in the moment. In the earlier part of your life, maybe you want to live for the future. Develop yourself. Think more.
I've done a lot of that. I continue to take classes now. I'm doing typography, you know, learning about fonts and that is already itself and enjoyment. And what legacy I want to live for people. No.
I just hope that when I am older, then my students, my followers, if they have benefited from my book, from my writing, they can let me know.
Ling Yah: What do you think are the most important qualities of a successful person?
Eric Sim: Successful people? Number one, you need to make other people life better.
that's one. Successful person is also one person who is generally happy. You cannot be happy a hundred percent of the time, but you're generally happy because you will influence other people.
You affect the person next door. Money is I think, only one of the many qualities. Society tends to use money to judge, right? Because it's measurable.
But if this person is impacting his neighbors, his classmate, we can say that he's a successful person already. And also, if you keep developing yourself, then as a human you are successful.
Because we are not bounded by our potential. Like when I was young, if you look at the 22 year old Eric Sim. Underweight, skinny, helping at the hawker stall, do you think this guy got potential?
Even I didn't think I got potential at that time. You think when I fail my English and getting 28 mark for my English literature, my English teacher would have said, oh, this guy has a potential to write a book.
Ling Yah: Your parents said you can inherit the stall, right?
Eric Sim: Yeah. So don't be bounded by potential sometimes, right?
You cannot tell a person's potential. And I've seen many people around me. You see them, oh, they cannot make it. But given some guidance with a bit of work, taking some action, they can totally change.
Ling Yah: And where can people go to find you, support what you're doing.
Eric Sim: You can follow me on LinkedIn and that's where I'm most active.
I'm also on other social media, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, but I don't update them very often. If you read my book, you can send me a message via LinkedIn or email as well.
Ling Yah: I will drop all the links in the show notes as well so people can find it. Yeah.
Finally, is there anything else you'd like to share that we haven't covered so far?
Eric Sim: I want to leave this message for the listener out there: think big, start small, act now .
Ling Yah: And that was the end of episode 112th part two.
The show notes and transcript can be found at www.sothisismywhy.com/112-2. If you haven't done so already, please, please do leave a review for this podcast. It really helps this podcast to grow. And also, I only ever get to see numbers of downloads per episode, so I have no idea who's listening, why, whether you enjoyed it, you hated it, how I can improve who you actually want to listen, the kind of questions should have asked.
So please do leave a reviews so I know more about who you are and what you want. Or you can even drop me an email at [email protected]. I'd love to hear from you.
Now, two more things before we wrap up.
This Friday, we are releasing a very special questions from the audience episode with Eric Sim. Yep. You got him three times. Because so many of you enjoy Eric's story and you had questions for him yourself, which he answered, so you should stick on for that.
And this Sunday we have got a new STIMY episode coming and we are meeting one of the pillars of the Asian American community.
He's built along with his wife, a community of over 200,000 people from just a Facebook group, and now he's branched to becoming a VC and to the Southeast Asian. Is looking to build an Asian Netflix. We talked about the importance of site hustles, investments, what it takes to build a community with trust as its core value.
Why Southeast Asia and so much more.
So if you haven't done so already, please do subscribe to STIMY and see you this Sunday.