Simon Alexander Ong is a bestselling author, international keynote speaker and business strategist. His work has seen him invited onto Sky News and BBC to be interviewed, while he has been featured in the likes of Forbes and Harvard Business Review. He has also spoken at some of the planet's most successful organisations such as Barclays, Salesforces, Adobe, EY and Microsoft. And his debut book Energize, published by Penguin in 2022 became an instant bestseller, receiving endorsements from the likes of New York Times bestselling authors Simon Sinek, Marie Forleo and Marshall Goldsmith. Here, Simon Alexander Ong is interviewed by host & producer, Ling Yah, for STIMY Ep 137 of the So This Is My Why podcast

Ep 137. Don’t Wait. Life Has Already Begun! | Simon Alexander Ong (Bestselling Author, Coach, Keynote Speaker & Business Strategist)

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Welcome to Episode 137!

STIMY Episode 137 features Simon Alexander Ong.

Simon Alexander Ong grew up often feeling like he didn’t fit in.

Which is weird when you look at his CV: He graduated from LSE before going to work at Lehman Brothers (until it fell into administration) then a hedge fund as a junior trader.

Along the way, he attended a 2-day coaching seminar that transformed the way he saw coaching and kickstarted his journey into becoming a bestselling author, international keynote speaker and business strategist. 

His work has seen him invited onto Sky News and BBC to be interviewed, while he has been featured in the likes of Forbes and Harvard Business Review. He has also spoken at some of the planet’s most successful organisations such as Barclays, Salesforces, Adobe, EY and Microsoft. And his debut book Energize, published by Penguin in 2022 became an instant bestseller, receiving endorsements from the likes of New York Times bestselling authors Simon Sinek, Marie Forleo and Marshall Goldsmith. In 2023, Energize was also awarded Book of the Year within the Wellness & Wellbeing category at The Business Book Awards! 

But… how did it all begin?

❓ Why does Simon believe that the best leaders are great coaches?

❓ How did he get big names like Simon Sinek and Marie Forleo to endorse his debut book?

❓ How has he built his coaching business?

❓ What gave him the confidence to take The Leap? 

❓ What’s been the real game changer for his business?

❓ And why does he advise people to not wait because life has already begun?

To find out, you’ll just have to listen to Simon’s episode on the So This Is My Why podcast. 😎


P/S: This episode is available on YouTube too!


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    So This Is My Why podcast

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    Who is Simon Alexander Ong?

    Simon Alexander Ong is a finance guy. He’s gone from working at Lehman Brothers (until it went into administration) to a hedge fund as a junior analyst to a thriving coaching business that’s seen him featured on the likes of Sky News, BBC and Forbes, while also publishing a Penguin bestselling book called Energize.

    • 4:47 Not fitting in
    • 6:40 What am I going to do with my life?!
    • 8:18 Impact of mum passing away
    • 9:46 The toxic environment at Lehman Brothers
    • 11:36 Not stick to the same path?
    • 12:38 The exploration journey
    • 16:47 2 days to 2 years?!
    • 18:07 Landing clients
    • 19:41 Where Simon found the courage & confidence to take the leap
    • 25:09 The game changer
    • 26:46 How to decide on the right mastermind to join
    • 28:34 The importance of building a personal brand
    • 29:52 Defining good content
    • 31:36 Saying yes to every interview?!
    • 33:35 It was stupid to introduce myself as a coach!
    • 38:28 Storytelling frameworks
    • 43:04 Being open but not to open – how do you find the line?!
    • 44:38 Google says that the best leaders are great coaches?!
    • 48:40 The first session
    • 51:11 How to decide on the right coach
    • 52:17 Energy is everything
    • 53:39 Multiplying energy
    • 55:32 What is something that Simon wishes made it into the final edition of his book but didn’t?!
    • 57:14 The last time Simon faced coach 
    • 58:46 The measured way to handle chaos
    • 1:00:26 The strategy behind launching his bestselling book, Energize
    • 1:03:03 How he convinced Simon Sinek & Marie Forleo to give him raving endorsements
    • 1:04:36 Has a Penguin published book opened doors for Simon?
    • 1:04:55 Do epic stuff that will make your Netflix documentary compulsive viewing

    If you’re looking for more inspirational stories, check out:

    • Phil Libin: Co-Founder, Evernote
    • Justin Byam Shaw: Co-Owner of the Evening Standard & the Independent – on building the UK’s largest media empire
    • Karl Mak: Founder, Hepmil Media – Building a Viral Meme Business in Southeast Asia
    • Chen Chow Yeoh: Co-Founder, Fave – the Non-Charismatic Leader We All Need?!
    • Adrian Tan: The Late President of the Singapore Law Society & King of Singapore

    If you enjoyed this episode, you can: 

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    If you’d like to support STIMY as a patron, you can visit STIMY’s Patreon page here

    External Links

    Some of the things we talked about in this STIMY Episode can be found below:

    STIMY Ep 137: Don't Wait. Life Has Already Begun! | Simon Alexander Ong (Bestselling Author, Coach, Keynote Speaker & Business Strategist)


    Simon Alexander Ong: The first thing to note is, there's a different story to each one. The same story doesn't apply to all of them. But what it boils down to is the fact that every single week you should be expanding and cultivating your network. Every single week.

    And what I mean by this is you have to be a bit bold sometimes. So how I got to know Marie Forleo is I went to one of her book launches. I sat as close as I could to the front. I got to meet some of her team. I added value. I shared some restaurant and bar recommendations with her team while they were in London. And we just built the relationship from there.

    Simon Sinek, our paths have crossed, at conferences we've spoken at. And his team reached out to me during COVID to do an online seminar together. And I cheekily asked him, when are you next having a meeting with Simon?

    Can I send you an advanced copy of my book so you can see if he would be open to writing an endorsement?

    And so that came out just from being a bit bold. So I think as a combination of relationship building and being a bit bold with your requests and how you do things,

    Ling Yah: Hey, STIMIES! Welcome to episode 137 of the So This My Why podcast.

    I'm your host and producer, Ling Yah. And before we start, I just want to wish everyone who is celebrating a happy Chinese New Year. Now I realize that I haven't quite been keeping up with the schedule for releasing every single Sunday. It's been pretty busy on my end.

    Last weekend, STIMY was just involved in Malaysia's first podcast festival, KL PodFest, where we got to interview live in front of an audience for the first time, Steve Chao, who's an Al Jazeera investigative journalist and war correspondent. And we also got to do one seminar on essentially how you can land big name guests on the podcast and also whether it's worth it.

    And two weeks before that, we're also involved in the MPG Summit, which is the Malaysian pay gap platform that's run by Prestine Davekhaw, who was a former guest as well on the podcast in episode 136. So the episode before this.

    So if you haven't checked out Prestine's episode, which you really should. Then please do so.

    Now on to today's guest. Today's guest is Simon Alexander Ong.

    Simon Alexander Wong is a bestselling author, international keynote speaker, and business strategist. His work has been invited onto Sky News and BBC, and he's also been featured in the likes of Forbes and Harvard Business Review.

    He's also spoken at some of the biggest organizations in the world, like Barclays, Salesforce, Adobe, EY, and Microsoft, and also had a book published by Penguin called Energize in 2022. A book that's received endorsements from the like of Simon Sinek, Mary Foleo, and Marshall Goldsmith.

    Now in this episode, as with all other episodes, we're going to deep dive into essentially Discovering who Simon is, and guess what?

    He actually studied economics at my alma mater, LSE. However, when he was 17, he did lose his mom to a tragic accident. And that accident had a huge impact on him because he realized the importance of not waiting.

    After graduation, he worked at Lehman Brothers, but because it fell into administration, he ended up joining another hedge fund and realized that it just wasn't glamorous. So then he started doing other things as well. He attended a two day coaching seminar and realized he really enjoyed it and eventually decided to take the leap.

    Now, his story is probably going to be of interest to many of you because I know a lot of you who are listening are contemplating not just how you can do your job better, but also what else is out there. And if you want to pivot into something different, then how on earth do you even do that? How do you even find the courage to do so?

    How do you test drive those different career options and essentially what is life like on the other side?

    So Simon is a great episode if you're curious about seeing what it's like.

    If you're interested, please stay on and listen to his interview. And before we begin, please, if you haven't done so already do subscribe to the STIMY newsletter, link is in the show notes and you will essentially be getting a lot of the behind the scenes on what it's like to run this podcast as well as all things personal branding, which is what I do now.

    Are you ready?

    Let's go!

    Hi Simon. Thank you so much for joining me on this podcast today. I love to start my interviews by going to the very beginning and I learned that your parents are from Sibu, which is where my parents are from. So it sounds like our family friends probably have crossed at some point, but I wonder because you didn't grow up here, you grew up in the UK and I imagine you probably wouldn't have felt like you fit in because we certainly don't look like people who are growing up in southeast England.

    So I wonder, what was your childhood like?

    Simon Alexander Ong: You are right Ling. I grew up here in the uk. I was born in the southeast of England, so around 90 minutes by train away from London. It was a small town and at the school I went to, I was very much part of a minority.

    So if I look at entire school demographic, I have one younger brother, my brother and I, we were two out of maybe 10 Chinese in the entire school.

    So not just our year, but the entire school. And so it was interesting growing up as a minority, because immediately you felt a little different. You can tell that the majority were from one background and you were from a different background. And so the way you approached cultural thinking, everyday situations would be very different.

    Some things you could relate, but also there would be things that you could not relate to. But it was also quite fun in a way when I look back on my childhood. Yes, there's the negatives of bullying and discrimination that you get whenever you are different to the majority.

    But at the same time, sometimes there are positive stereotypes. I remember when I was growing up, my brother in the same school, we didn't get bullied as much, and this was because at the time, Bruce Lee films were very popular, so lots of my friends and their families watched martial arts films.

    And so the automatic assumption was because I was Chinese, I must know martial arts. So that mistaken assumption helped to reduce potential bullying when I grew up here in the uk.

    Ling Yah: I just love that story because so many of my former guests have also said the same thing. I look Chinese. I am Chinese.

    I grew up in a place where not many people know Chinese, and they would just assume, you know, martial arts. I should be really careful around you.

    I imagine though, that your parents having grown up in Asia they probably had the same expectations of being a doctor, a lawyer, and an accountant. Was this something that you grew up with?

    What were your thoughts in terms of what am I gonna do with my life?

    Simon Alexander Ong: Mm. Definitely. I mean, there was still the high standards that many Asian families adopt, and so when I went to school, the focus was always on completing my homework, being top of the class, getting to the next year with fantastic exam results, getting to a good college. Getting a job in one of those occupations you mentioned and making a lot of money.

    And so that was still by and large the focus of my career trajectory.

    But because for most of my childhood there was no internet, there was no social media, I didn't really have anything to compare to when I thought about what success meant for me.

    And so right until university, my definition was very much my parents' definition, which was as long as I made a lot of money and as long as I landed a job in one of the occupations that they shared with me, that would be a success.

    And so because I didn't have anything to compare it to, I didn't really feel like it was a burden to be in one of those jobs until the financial crisis happened. And of course, I started asking different questions. But up until that point, there was not really anything to compare otherwise.

    Ling Yah: Was there no question, and this was when you were 17, your mother unfortunately passed away. Yeah. Did you not think, oh, is it really all about just making lots of money?

    Simon Alexander Ong: Mm. I think that was the beginning of a different thought process. But I think is there something more than just making money was probably the result of the financial crisis.

    so if there's anything, the loss of my mom taught me was the importance of living. How fragile life is and how you really just got to show up, connect with others, give value to society, and that will result in a fulfilling life. And so that got me thinking very differently to the majority at such a young age.

    But I think with regards to my job and my occupation, it wasn't until the financial crisis happened that it got me questioning my choices. Is my career all about money when clearly, there is no stability. Is my career all about working in one of these occupations when I just don't feel happy? And so that kickstarted a full process that again, was compounded by different events.

    So in the book, in the very first chapter, I talk about the toxic environment that I was in in the job after Lehman Brothers collapsed. And again, that furthered my thinking. That nudged me closer to trying something new. And so rather than I think one big event, it was almost like a series of things that happened, which started from the passing of my mom that really nudged me towards the path that I'm on now.

    Ling Yah: Could you give a little context to what it was like in Lehman Brothers, that toxic environment, so people can kind of see that contrast between where you were and how that really transformed as you started to figure out what you really wanted to do.

    Simon Alexander Ong: Yeah, so I was very much looking forward to starting at Lehman Brothers.

    Partly because in my second year of university, I failed my year, so I had to reset my year at university and to any parent hearing that from their child, it's shocking. But to an Asian parent, and it's even more shocking, because then they have to tell the rest of the family that my son has failed a year at university and he's gonna have to reset that year.

    So just to get a job at the end of graduation was already a big win for me. The environment wasn't great because we were on the cusp of the global financial crisis sweeping across the planet, and you had no idea if your job was safe week to week. Even though there was some toxicity in that environment, it wasn't until the next job I went into, which was at a hedge fund where it got far more toxic.

    Now, what I mean by toxic is that there was no real career progression. There was no real path for you to take your career forward. And even though on the outside and on paper it looked like a great job, the reality was very different because very often I would be doing the photocopying, the administration.

    I would be getting my superiors lunches. I would be doing anything and everything to support them, but it was very operational and not very much the job I was sold. You would be regularly shouted at, you would be put down if you made mistakes. It was very different to the cultures that many companies are trying to embrace today.

    And it really affected my health physically and mentally and it was one of the things that increased the urgency to want to explore a different career path.

    Ling Yah: Did you not feel the urge to just stick to the same path, but in a different frame? Because surely that would've been so much easier, you already had that experience.

    Simon Alexander Ong: Yeah, so what happened is when I went through this toxicity, the first thing I did was to quit that job. I stayed within finance. I mean, in total my time in finance was nearly 10 years. But after the hedge fund, I deliberately chose to go into a research role. A research role was far kinder in terms of the hours, and the culture was a lot nicer.

    So I moved from a job that was very demanding, very punishing in terms of hours and expectations to one, which was more of a nine to five. I had my weekends back, I had my evenings back, and I did that deliberately so that I could start addressing my physical health by exercising more, eating better, but also to explore other areas, explore the world out of finance, and start to explore my curiosities.

    Ling Yah: I love that because it sounds so reflective of my own journey. I was also in law for almost 10 years and I also saw that exploring. I started also having a live outside and that exploration was what allowed me to now do what I do.

    I wonder. What was your exploration like? What did you figure out? I resonated as well when you say it wasn't one turning point, it was many little things.

    I imagine you must have a similar story as well. So what were those little turning points that brought you to where you are?

    Simon Alexander Ong: Definitely so. When I started to explore the world outside of finance, the first thing I did was change my environment.

    So what I mean by that is I decided not to read financial news and financial press. And instead I started to read business magazines, entrepreneur magazines. I read different books within personal development. I read biographies. I went out to seminars, to workshops, to conferences. Just exposed my mind to a different world.

    The only thing I knew when I did this exploration was I wanted to run my own business one day and I wanted to work for myself, but I didn't know what that was because all I had ever done was finance. And so the journey was quite messy actually. You know, and I think it's important to share that because as you said, a lot of people think that you knew what you wanted to do, you did it and everything was a success.

    But the reality was that it was very messy. The first thing I got involved in, was an MLM, a multi-level marketing scheme. And I went to a seminar and they were talking about this product and they said, Hey, if you buy this product, you sell it in your network, you can make good money. Now, I was seduced by the idea of passive income, that if I did this, I could create income streams that could help eradicate or eliminate, the current position that I was in.

    So I did that for a few months, but I quickly realized that unless you are really passionate about the product or the service, you are not gonna survive. And that it was very difficult because even though it felt entrepreneurial, you were still working for someone else. You were still working for the company in some way.

    And then after that, I got involved in another two businesses. We did like an Airbnb for food. You could buy a ticket, you could go to someone's home, meet other people, and sample somebody's home cooking, like a supper club, like a supper club. But again, I wasn't passionate enough to continue, so I passed it on to someone else.

    And I realized it would take a while to make any significant profit because the margin was so thin by the time you pay for labor cost, ticketing platforms, all of that, there's only so much money you keep at the end.

    And then I remember going to an event here in the uk, it was called National Achievers Congress, which is organized by Success Resources, a Singapore based company.

    And Tony Robbins was one of the speakers there. I was sitting near the front row and I saw him doing his thing on stage. I was thinking to myself, I can do that. Imagine if I can be on a stage like that, speaking to people. And in that moment I reflected because my mind went back in time to when I was at university.

    I met a guy called Peter Harrison. And during my time at university, while most people went and worked in retail or they worked in local shops to earn pocket money while they were a student, I was helping Peter coach people to win their interviews. To win jobs in the city.

    So they could present better, they could tell better stories, and they could be better interviewees.

    And I said to myself, actually, this is something that comes naturally to me. To want to help other people. To inspire, to educate . But I just thought it was being a good friend. And so I wanted to explore if it was a path that could be profitable, but also one that I could make work. And so that led me to signing up to a two day event, which taught us about the skill of coaching. But also the potential of turning that skill into a business.

    By the end of that weekend, I signed on the dotted line and I said, when do we begin? I spent the next two and a half years studying towards coaching qualifications on the side of my daytime job. And that gave me the foundation to begin launching my own coaching practice.

    Ling Yah: You make it sound so casual from two days to two years.

    That's a big commitment. I mean, what was behind that drive? Was it that this is something really natural, I really wanna do? Was that what you felt? 'cause two years is a long time, particularly when balanced with your own full-time job as well.

    Simon Alexander Ong: Indeed. I mean, I would like to say that I had full commitment from the beginning, but I was a bit naive in the sense that when I signed up to the coaching qualification and I started to imagine that I could make this coaching work, my naivety told me, this will get me outta my job.

    This will give me a new path, and I'll become a successful entrepreneur, and who knows I can get this done in a few years. And so that naivety kept me going. The fact that when I qualify, when I get my website up, I can start to create a path that's gonna work and it's gonna be amazing, and things are just gonna fall into place.

    Now the reality is that journey from achieving those qualifications to where I am now is around 10 years. Now, if you told me it would take 10 years at the beginning, I'm not quite sure if I would've started still, but because I naively thought I could do it quick. By the time I started I told myself, well, since I started I should keep going.

    I might as well just keep going. And then as I built momentum, this vision of what was possible just grew bigger and bigger and bigger.

    Ling Yah: Did you already have clients at that time? Was that what gave you that confidence that it would come easily, that people were already knocking on the door? So if someone's already knocking, why wouldn't 10 20 others be knocking after?

    Simon Alexander Ong: No. So I actually had, when I first finished with the coaching qualifications, I didn't have any clients and I was just dreaming of this alternative life and for a couple of years, from 2014 to 2016, I was living very much like Superman, but without the superpowers.

    So by day I would be going into the office with my white shirt, my tie, and my suit, and in my bag I would have my black tshirt and jeans.

    And so at lunchtime and after work, I would dash into the toilet cubicle, change outta my suit, into my black tshirt and jeans come out, go network, go meet clients, and just slowly build the business.

    It got to a point in 2016 where I had three paying clients, not enough to replace my full-time income, but it got to this point where it gave me a dilemma.

    If I was to have a fourth coaching client, not only would my coaching suffer, but my daytime job would suffer because I would not be able to keep up two different identities.

    And so the option became, Simon, do you continue with your day job and limit your coaching to just three clients, or do you quit your day job and see how many more clients you can get?

    And of course, if we look back at history, I went with the latter. I quit my day job at the end of 2016, and I dived into doing this full-time and the rest is history.

    Ling Yah: What gave you that confidence to take the leap? I feel like I resonate a lot because I was so in a similar position where . I quit. I only quit end of April this year, so I'm very, very new to this.

    Congratulations. By the time I only had .. Thank you. I only had around two clients, and I would say to people that's because lots of people say, I wanna work with you once you're full-time on this.

    Ling Yah: But there's not guarantee. Just because people say, I wanna work with you doesn't mean you will translate to actual clients. But now three months in, I've more than tripled the client list. But that's not something you can guarantee or know. You just have to go by faith. I wonder if it was similar for you or was it just Yes.

    You have people who are saying, I will sign on if you just give this a full-time role in your life.

    Simon Alexander Ong: I didn't have people say, I'll sign on if you give it a full-time role, purely because I tried my best not to tell people that I was also in a full-time job. So when I networked after work and on weekends, I would just say, Hey, I'm a coach and this is what I do, and this is my website, and this is my business card.

    But I wouldn't share that I was also in a job. Now, if they found that out, great, that's fine. We can talk about it. But I discovered not everyone would be curious enough to kind of look that much into my background there.

    So I was just slowly becoming this new identity because I think what gave me that focus was less about confidence, more about courage.

    I think that often we think I've got to be confident to make a decision or I've got to be confident in order to make that jump.

    From my experience, I think the confidence comes after. What comes first is courage. You know, you need to have the courage to jump into the unknown. You have to have the courage to make a decision where all of your peers and even your family maybe will be judging you for your choice.

    But what happens is that once you've made that leap, once you've shown yourself that you can make something good of your new choice or new path, the confidence kicks in because now you say to yourself, I can do this.

    I can overcome hurdles and obstacles, and that gives you confidence, which actually fuels your courage to the next level. Then you have courage to do more things or take on bigger challenges. And so for me, I think it was courage coming first and then confidence after.

    Ling Yah: I imagine, especially in Asia, the word courage is such a foreign concept. Where did it come for you? Because most people would be crippled by the thought, not even of taking a leap. But just asking people for help is something that's crippling.

    Where does your courage come from?

    Simon Alexander Ong: I would say it comes from my environment, and I agree with you. I don't think it's just Asian society. I've seen other cultures in the West where it can be crippling to have the courage to take action on things deep, deep down, you know, you want to do, but for whatever reason you don't.

    And the reason is because we are in this environment that has conditioned us to not think different. To follow a very particular path with specific set of beliefs that if we were to go against them, it's really tough because we've grown up in that environment for so long that it's difficult to question.

    And so the courage to go, I'm gonna think for myself and I'm gonna consciously make choices that are good for me, is a foreign concept. And the reason why I say environment is important because as I started shifting my environment, so the people I was spending time with, they showed me that the habits I aspired to embrace were their normal.

    I wanted to wake up early and exercise. They already did it. It was their normal, I wanted to read three or four books a month. They read six or more. For them, it was normal.

    I wanted to start a business. They had already started seven businesses. It was their normal. And so the environment had such a profound impact on my thinking.

    It made me go from thinking big to thinking astronomical and even galactic. It made me see challenges and obstacles as small in comparison to the magnitude of my vision.

    So I think it was environment that transformed the makeup of my mind and what I thought was possible.

    And to give you a very simple example, I remember having a conversation recently Ling, where an older woman said to me, Simon, I'm 65 and I'm just starting to learn this new skill.

    I'm retired. I think I'm too old now. You know, I'm looking at all the youngsters and they're moving so fast and they're so intelligent, they're so smart. What chance do I have to really make this work? And what I said to her is, the very first thing I want you to do is to find someone who is older than you, who is doing exactly what you are doing.

    And so I shared with her the story in my book of this 80 plus year old woman in Japan who started an app company, which created these apps for senior citizens in Japan and ended up being downloaded more than 150,000 times within its first year. And she ended up speaking at the developer conference alongside Tim Cook of Apple.

    I said to her, you just have to find people who are overcoming what you think are your barriers, and are achieving a lot. Because just by seeing an example of someone who's doing it, despite some of the limiting beliefs you have, opened your mind to what else is possible.

    Ling Yah: Who was the person that you saw in your life that opened your mind to the fact that I need to aim for an extranomical vision?

    Simon Alexander Ong: For me, it was my involvement in a mastermind group. I had never been part of a mastermind group before. I had read about the concept in Napoleon Hills book, Think and Grow Rich, but I'd never been part of one in my journey. And so when I got invited to be part of one in London, my mind was blown.

    I was in this group of entrepreneurs. I mean, I wasn't an entrepreneur yet, I was still in a full-time job, but I met the facilitator who thought it would be beneficial for me to be part of this group. And so I went in with no expectations and I was just blown away by what these people were doing. Their successes, their stories, their insights, their wisdom.

    And it showed me how important the people I spent time was with. And when I came out of that, I said to myself, you know, I'm gonna deliberately choose the environments and the settings that I'm gonna spend as much time as possible in.

    So I upgraded the gym. I went to events. I would pay a lot more money to go to certain seminars or retreats because I knew that would open me up to people that fought on a very different level.

    And that helped accelerate me in terms of my speed of growth from when I first started in 2017. We are 20 23 now. It's only six years coming up since I left my corporate job.

    And when I look back at what has been accomplished in that time, it's just phenomenal.

    Ling Yah: How do you decide on the quote unquote right event to go to. The right mastermind to go to? Because there are endless amounts out there. You don't actually know whether it's good or not until you pay the extranomical amount and go for it.

    Simon Alexander Ong: You don't, at the beginning of your journey. So at the beginning of my journey, I said yes to a lot of things because I was new. I was an amateur.

    When you first start any journey as a beginner, you're never gonna know because you have zero experience. And so at the beginning of any journey, you just have to say yes to a lot of things.

    You experiment, you learn, you develop. Now over time, you build experience. And as you build experience, you also build intuition.

    Now, what that means is that now when I get invited to a lot of things, I know a lot quicker which ones to say yes or no to. Now it's very difficult for me to explain in words how I know, but it's one of those things that you develop from experience and intuition.

    So you'll look at the people going. You'll look at the caliber of who's speaking. Straightaway you'll know, yep, this is for me, or no, this isn't for me. And the beauty is now you have social media.

    So you can research the organizers, the speakers, the company, the conference, and that will give you an insight as to whether it will be worth your time. Although ultimately the caveat is you will never know until you are there.

    Ling Yah: Hey, STIMIES just interrupting this to say that if you have been enjoying this podcast, please do leave a rating and review. It's very hard for anyone to find a podcast.

    It just doesn't go viral. It never gets shared unless someone talks about it. So if you've been enjoying this, please do share it on any platform you're familiar with, whether it's LinkedIn or Instagram. Tag me so I know and I can reshare as well and know essentially what you would like to see in the future.

    Let's get back to this episode with Simon Alexander Ong.

    I love that you talked about social media 'cause that's obviously something that's really important. The idea of putting yourself out there, building that personal brand. How did you think about that? Was it something that was very pivotal right from the very beginning?

    Simon Alexander Ong: Yeah, because for me, one of the things I realized early on is the importance of marketing.

    What I mean by this is you may have a great product or service, but if nobody knows about it, it's just a hobby. It's not gonna grow. It's not gonna become a business.

    And so I realized how important marketing was. And social media is a great tool and an essential tool for developing a presence.

    And of course, it's free. You download the app and you start sharing your thoughts, whether it's through video, it is through images, it's through articles. And for me, that's how you grow an audience.

    You grow an audience by showing up and sharing your value with the world through the social media platforms because nearly all of us who have a smartphone, one of the first things we check is social media.

    And so if you are sharing good content on your platforms, you will be discovered. And So for me, social media has been an essential part of my growth but also something I spent a lot of time trying to understand, in order to communicate and build an audience around my work.

    Ling Yah: How do you define what good content is?

    Because a lot of it is almost intuitive, I would say, and a lot of people are doing it as well. How do you ensure that your content stands out?

    Simon Alexander Ong: I think for me, good content is first of all something that comes naturally to you. If you are doing something that doesn't come naturally to you, you'll do well at the beginning, but then you'll eventually stop.

    So for some of us, we find it easier to write. So platforms like LinkedIn or Medium, or Sub Stack will be great for you because it makes writing easy.

    Now some of us don't like writing. We prefer to speak or to record videos, and so platforms like YouTube or TikTok or Instagram may be better. Other ones of us like speaking more, but we don't like to show our face as much and so again, you have different platforms like Clubhouse or LinkedIn audio or Twitter spaces.

    And so it's just really understanding what are your strengths when it comes to content, and also where does your audience live?

    Now if I'm looking to, let's say, speak at corporate events or do work with executives, it doesn't make sense for me to build my network on TikTok.

    It makes far more sense for me to build my audience on LinkedIn where my target audience is. So I would say that's the second step, is to understand where is your audience living.

    And then the third step is to understand that each platform has a very different way of working. So you have to be intentional with how you use it.

    Now it's not a question of putting one bit of content and just putting on all the different channels. For some of the channels it will work, but then on other channels it requires a very different way of showing up in order to get that engagement.

    And so the way I use each platform will be with very different intentions because the strategy also has to be different.

    Ling Yah: Do you still say yes to every interview? I know some people like Guy Kawasaki when I interviewed him, he would say, yes, I do because even if I reach an extra 100 people, that's still 100 extra. But then there's some who obviously would say, my time's incredibly limited. It's the most valuable resource. If you don't have at least 10,000 downloads per episode, I'm probably not gonna say yes. Come back when you do.

    Simon Alexander Ong: For me, I still say yes to a lot of requests. Some requests I do turn down, for whatever reasons, but I always review them on a case by case basis.

    Ling Yah: Thank you so much for saying yes to this.

    Simon Alexander Ong: For the international ones, I tend to have a bit more of a bias, so I've been doing a lot more podcast interviews with Asian podcast channels, Middle East podcast channels in the US.

    And I think that's just part of the focus for doing more work internationally.

    So I did a conference in the US earlier this year in San Diego. I'm gonna be going back to the US three more times in the next 10 months.

    So Los Angeles, New York, and potentially Austin early next year. And so for me, it makes sense to do some of the American podcasts because it helps to build awareness of what I do about the book and the fact that I'm gonna be over in the country speaking at different events.

    So for me, I do have a bit of a bias towards international purely because that's where I'm looking to grow the business.

    In the UK , I still do podcasts. I have a preference for those that I know. So if someone is within the network or within a second degree network, I would tend to say yes more. And of course, if there are in-person interview.

    So if we're able to get video content, they invite me to a studio and, we do an in-person podcast that is videoed for YouTube.

    That's great because it also gives me content. But yeah, at the moment I still say yes to a lot. Although I am managing a little more than I used to because, I'm doing a bit more speaking now and I have a family. So, we'll see how that changes as time goes on. But right now, I still enjoy doing a lot of these conversations.

    Ling Yah: That makes complete sense. I learnt as well in one of your previous interviews that when you went to networking events, you would introduce yourself as, I'm a coach or I'm an inspiring coach, and you said that you look back and think how stupid that response was. Explain to me why that is stupid.

    Simon Alexander Ong: So why that is stupid is because one, it tells you nothing.

    If somebody comes up and says, Hey Ling, I'm a coach. It tells you absolutely nothing about their value of what they do or about them as a person.

    But second is when you hear that from someone, you automatically make an opinion. It's the same thing that happens if somebody says to you, I'm an accountant.

    Now this accountant might be super fun. It might be the most entertaining accountant you've ever come across, but as soon as they've told you they're an accountant, in most cases, the first word that comes into your head is boring. How do I finish this conversation quickly so I can go into the next person?

    So those are the two reasons why it's a stupid way to introduce yourself. And I think a far more powerful way to introduce yourself is storytelling. It is hooking their attention into a very different way of presenting who you are and what you're about because attention spans are so short these days.

    So when you do something in a novel or unique way, you get their attention. And once you've got their attention, we enter this process of what I call permission-based marketing. They're now asking and giving you permission to tell more. Simon, how do you do that? Simon, how does that work?

    How long have you been doing this? When is your next event? So now they are the ones that are inquiring about your story because they want to go deeper into the work that you do.

    Ling Yah: So I have to make you actually give the example then. So assume we're at a networking event, I go, who are you? How do you hook me?

    Simon Alexander Ong: Well, I love going into groups. So let's say you were with three friends of yours. So I would come into your conversation and I would say, Hey, Great to meet you all. I'm Simon, by the way. And of course all of you would turn around and say to me, Hey Simon, I'm Ling. I'm this, I'm that. I'm this. What do you do, Simon?

    So then I would say, come a bit closer. I'm gonna give you four guesses. I'm gonna share what I do, four guesses to see if you can tell what I do. Everything I do is designed to awaken people's imagination of what is truly possible for their life so they can write a story that they can be proud of.

    Now, have a guess, what do you think I do? And so what may happen is one of you may say, oh, you are motivational speaker. Another person may say, oh, are you a coach or a life coach of some sorts? Another person may say, oh, are you a storyteller? Do you write books? And so what's happening is I'm creating engagement, but now I'm creating a bit of a dialogue between the group.

    And I would say as my follow-up, yes, a bit of each of those, but it wasn't always that way because I had to quit a job I didn't like to start this career path to do something that I'm truly energized about today. And then again, it triggers further questions.

    Ling Yah: I imagine people will then, as you said earlier, go, so how do you do this?

    Mm-hmm. How do you answer that?

    Simon Alexander Ong: So then the key here is you follow up with a story again. It's all about story, story, story. The trap is when somebody asks you, how do you do what you do? Most of us go straight into logistics. So what we may say is, Hey, so the way I work with people is we meet twice a month after people subscribe to our partnership. We create this, and after six months we renew the membership if they want to continue.

    You've lost them. You've lost them because it is all about logistics, which are very abstract. So what I do is when they ask me how do I do what I do, I continue using stories.

    So I might say to them, well, let me share with you the story of Sophie. Sophie just came to me three months ago, and when she arrived after a conference I did, she said to me, Simon, I'm going for a very tough situation because I've just been promoted to c e o of my company and we've never really been taught about good skills as a leader.

    And so when she came to me, she had just been promoted and she was in this unknown territory as a new c e o. And here's what we did in the three months that we've worked together so far.

    Now, Sophie has just been nominated for a leadership award. She's been recognized by her peers for the impact she has had in just 90 days.

    Are you curious to learn more about how Sophie and I did this? So again, the next question might be Yes, do tell me more. So what we're doing here is we're using narrative and story in order to showcase what could be possible.

    So perhaps what is left on their mind is, Simon, can you do to me what you did with Sophie?

    And then we go into logistics.

    Ling Yah: I love that you talk about storytelling because that is the critical part. That is what allows one person to stand from the other. And you might provide the same kind of information, but that story is what builds that trust and that sort of how you stand out in people's minds.

    How did you build that skill? What are some of the frameworks? I'm sure you must have some frameworks when you're thinking about these stories all the time.

    Simon Alexander Ong: The way I learned that skill was just by observing people and codifying what I saw worked. One of the things I enjoy, which sounds geeky, is I love reading about successful companies.

    Successful leaders and successful strategies, and then codifying how that works. And then experimenting with what I do. So one of the skills I learned from all of these stories was storytelling is fundamental to each of these successes. And the way we tell a story will be different from the way we deliver it.

    So if I'm introducing myself, that story will be very different to the story I use if I'm speaking to the audience of thousands, because now it's more about presentation and public speaking.

    And that story will be different if you are reading about it on my website or in an article or in my book. And so storytelling has different ways to connect with an audience and it all comes down to the delivery.

    To give an example with presentations or public speaking, I know that the audience attention spans are very short. Now, when many people go on stage to speak, what happens is they fall into the trap of talking about things which are unnecessary.

    You might've heard this typical introduction to most speaking, where they go, Hey, I'm Simon, and I'm honored to be here today to talk to you about this topic of energy. In the next 40 minutes we're gonna be touching on this, this, and this.

    Now straightaway, you've lost their attention because that's how 99% of presenters and speakers begin their talk.

    What I do is knowing their attention span is short, the way I use story is in the same way that the James Bond films use it. If you go to the cinema and you watch a James Bond film, what you will know is that the James Bond film never begins chronologically.

    It drops you in the action. And then after a few minutes of action, you hear the James Bond theme, and then the story goes back to the beginning.

    So it fills in the gaps of what you saw before the James Bond theme came on. That's what exactly the thing I harness when I speak on stage, is I like to drop people in the action straight away.

    To give an example, someone might say, welcome my next speaker, Simon Alexander Ong. I come onto stage, I pause, and then I begin with a story that drops them in the action.

    I might say something like, it's the summer of 2007. I hear that my results are coming out, and as I quickly log into my website, nervous about what results I'm gonna achieve, I know that my parents and my relatives are downstairs with a bucket of champagne ready to celebrate some stellar results. But I knew as soon as the website pops up, I failed three out of four exams.

    My hands started to sweat, my mind started to race around with anxiety. What I'm doing here is I'm grabbing the audience straightaway into the story, and they're following me as to where is this going to go? Where is he going with this story? And so I'm just building that engagement very early on.

    Ling Yah: I love that example.

    It's definitely very helpful for me because I'm doing a seminar next week and I'm gonna rethink and not start with, here's the agenda for today, and this is who I am.

    Simon Alexander Ong: Yeah. I mean, storytelling is powerful. I mean that's, yeah one. But also storytelling by bringing out some behind the scenes.

    Ling Yah: Yes.

    Simon Alexander Ong: For example, you can share a bit of vulnerability. Mm-hmm. But with the story, you can share some behind the scenes that allow them to see your humanity. So another way could be, let's say I'm speaking to an audience at TED.

    Now with some self-deprecating humor and some vulnerability storytelling you could start something like this. You could start by saying, I'm a little nervous. I'm a little nervous because my wife told me that there are some very smart and intelligent people here at this TED conference. And she said to me, they don't want to hear an angry Chinese man talking about this topic.

    And I said, you're right, I'm angry. And last time I checked I'm Chinese. And I wanna share a little bit about why I'm angry. And so what's happened here is I've included some humor, but they've got to know some storytelling about my personal life. But it's done very naturally and seamlessly to then connect with the topic of the day .

    Ling Yah: I couldn't agree more. I found that to be the trick when I was using LinkedIn that allowed people to basically jump on board. When I announced I'm gonna resign without a plan that went to 1.24 million views. That's something I would have never imagined a year ago.

    It's all because I talked about it from a very personal point of view.

    But when I'm writing, obviously whatever you put out there is there forever. You do wanna be transparent and open and be personal, but there is a line. Mm-hmm. How do you think about that line?

    Simon Alexander Ong: I agree because it's good to be vulnerable and to share, to connect with your audience and to allow people to know about who you are.

    But at the same time, we have to understand there is also a dark side to social media. People can use that information. People can use what you share, your photos, your videos, the insights you share against you by creating fake profiles, tarnishing your reputation.

    And so I think there is a balance, but there's also a responsibility, I think on the platforms themselves. Giving you some freedom to share without that being used against you.

    So for me, I'm always coming from the point that if something I share has a lesson in it that can benefit someone, I'm more likely to share it.

    But if I feel like it's unnecessary and it doesn't really add more value, By going even more transparent, then I will probably hold back because as long as the message gets across and they can relate to the message because they relate to the story as like, oh, that happened to me, or I'm going through the same thing now. Then I think that's why I probably draw the line.

    Ling Yah: There's the whole storytelling content comes from you, but that's another vital part of what you do as a coach, which is to listen. Yeah, and I love those.

    There's one example you gave in your interviews about Google's project Oxygen, how they did a study to see what makes a great leader. And you said that the best leaders, number one, are great coaches.

    Mm-hmm. I would love for you to explain a bit more about why that is the case.

    Simon Alexander Ong: Sure. So what the research that Google did, knowing that once they completed it, the best leaders work were great coaches, is they used that insight to transform their learning and development programs within the company.

    So they trained all of their newly promoted managers and leaders in the skill of coaching because what they understood is that just because you are good at your functional responsibilities does not automatically make you a great leader.

    So you may be a great salesperson, a fantastic engineer, but it doesn't automatically make you a great leader because it's two very different skill sets.

    When you are employed for your functional capabilities. You just get that done and you do well.

    When you become a leader, it's less about your functional responsibilities and more about your ability to bring out more leaders from within the company.

    How are you creating a space where people can fulfill their potential and bring value in the job that they have been employed to do?

    And I think that's where coaching comes into play because anybody can manage and I think there's a distinction between managing and leading.

    Anybody can manage, which is, I tell you what to do, you do it and you deliver it by this date. Anybody can do that. But leading is very different.

    Leading is you empowering somebody else to own the process and for them to show what they're capable of.

    That's leading, which is very different. So instead of saying, Hey, I want you to do this by this date, and you have to deliver it to me, so we get the client or we get the project over the finish line.

    Coaching is more what are you most comfortable doing when you look at the tasks we have to complete for this project? When would you be able to do this by, would it be okay if I touch base with you in the next seven days to see how you are getting on and to see if you need any help so we can get this over the line within the time we have?

    How can I help you to make this a success? So what's happening is you're asking very different questions. That is putting the responsibility on them and putting you in the position of a guide.

    You are the guide to your team achieving their potential.

    Ling Yah: What if you don't have the liberty to give them that sort of ability to say, I need a week to get this back to you.

    I need it by end of today. There are no questions behind that.

    Simon Alexander Ong: Sure. So there will be different sort of project types when you're conversing with your employees. If you have a deadline, let's say you have to get it done today, then if you are coaching someone, you might say, okay, we've got this project.

    I understand this is very last minute. It's not the timeline I would like to give you, but we have to get this done today. Is there anything I can do to ensure that you are able to help us get this done by today?

    Is there anything that you need to take off your plate or outsource or delegate to someone else to give you the space and energy to get this over the line by the end of today?

    So it's done in a very different way because when you coach somebody, you're coaching with empathy and compassion.

    Whereas when you're managing, there's no empathy and compassion. It's, we need this done by today. Can you get this done? On my desk by five? It's very different. You don't feel as motivated.

    But if someone says to you, I understand that this is last minute, I understand that this is a very tight timeline and something I would not usually approve of, but we have had this come up and I'm told that this is very important for our company.

    Now, when you give people context and reason, people are more motivated to do a task.

    Ling Yah: I wonder, beyond just motivating people to do the task that needs to be done within the timeframe, what is it like when people work with you? For instance, it's my first session with you. What does that look like? What can people expect?

    Simon Alexander Ong: Sure. So the first session is purely to understand about you as a person, because only when I understand your world and the way you see your reality, can I begin to even help you in any capacity.

    And so the analogy I use, Ling, is very much like Sherlock Holmes seeing a client. So if you've ever watched a Sherlock Holmes tv series or films, you will know that somebody will come into Sherlock's office and say, Sherlock, there's been a murder, or something happened, that we need your help.

    And Sherlock will invite that person to sit next to him in an armchair, and Sherlock will begin asking a series of questions to understand what happened.

    Coaching is very similar. So in the first session, I would want to know exactly people's motivations to sit opposite me, and then understand what is important to them.

    So some of the first questions might include things such as what made you reach out to me? And that helps me to understand what was the notch.

    They may say to me, well, for years I've not been feeling fulfilled. Or I feel like there's more that I want to achieve, but I'm not sure what it is. I might say, why now?

    What has made you want to make change today? And again, it really helps me to understand the human behind the exterior.

    And then we go a little deeper and a little deeper and deeper until I understand them more at their fundamental core level and then we build back up again. And so that's typically what the first conversation consists of.

    And for me, it's great because I really get to see how and where I can help someone.

    Ling Yah: Now I'm curious, and I would love to know. How do people tend to respond when you say, why come to me and why now? What are the motivating factors?

    Simon Alexander Ong: I think that answer will be different from person to person. But just to give you one answer as an example. One person recently said to me, I never felt like I needed a coach in my life.

    I always felt like I knew the answers and I was successful the way I am. But as I hit middle wage, I'm starting to ask myself bigger questions, and I think the value of a coach can be very helpful to get me reflecting and understanding what my plan should be in the next 10 years of my life.

    Ling Yah: How do you know that that coach is the right one for you?

    Simon Alexander Ong: I think this is where you have to shop around. As with any business that is a service provider, so not just coaching but consultants or any other service-based business, you want to shop around.

    So you might browse online or look on social media and say, okay, I found three or four coaches that I could potentially work with.

    And then you arrange a call or meeting and you get to know them. And again, you don't know any of this upfront until you start working together, but the coach you should go with is the one where you feel there could be trust for you to share. Because for a coaching relationship to truly work, you have to be able to be as transparent as possible.

    Otherwise the coach can only work with limited information. And you believe that that coach can help you in some way, to change your default future.

    If that's the case, I think you should go for that coach. But again, as we're starting a new job, you won't know until you start.

    Give yourself a few sessions, and reflect on how you are finding the partnership.

    Ling Yah: Completely fair. I imagine during that partnership, one of the big topics that always come about is the topic of energy. Mm-hmm. And it's the central theme to your book, Energize, published by Penguin. I thought it was very interesting.

    You said before when you were brainstorming with publishers, you were very attracted to this idea that energy is everything. Why is that?

    Simon Alexander Ong: Because when I look back at my journey , and when I say journey, I mean my entrepreneurial journey. What I realized is that people do not buy your products or your services as much as they buy your energy.

    So when you go and talk about what you do, when you share what you do on stage, if your energy connects with the audience or with the person you're speaking to, Whatever your products or services, they don't care immediately, but they just wanna know more about you and who you are.

    What I realized is that when I operated at a higher level of energy, I started to attract a lot more opportunities.

    And if I were to break it down, I see energy in four dimensions. It's a physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. When I got these four dimensions in place, when I started addressing each of 'em, in turn, I found that people wanted to help me.

    People wanted to learn more about my work. People wanted to introduce me to opportunities and things just got a lot easier than before when I had to push myself.

    Now this energy was just attracting people into my field.

    Ling Yah: So the natural question has to be, where does this energy come from? How did you multiply that?

    Simon Alexander Ong: So if I look at the different areas, so physical energy, I began making my health an absolute priority. I stopped making my health a side hustle, and I focused on getting sufficient rest and sleep.

    I optimized my diet for good nutrition and I made exercise a daily non-negotiable. So I'm working out, I'm swimming, I'm cycling every single day to put my mind in a very good state.

    I'm eating energy rich foods. A diet that doesn't make me feel tired in the afternoon. And this is a good foundation when it comes to mental energy.

    It's all about my environment. It's given me, the knowledge to block out distractions so I can focus on what needs to be done. And giving oxygen to my creative energy. Emotional energy is from the act of writing.

    So I get to better understand me, myself, and my thoughts. That's all about self-reflection and spiritual energy is all about purpose and meaning.

    So the more I tap into that, the more energy I get. And so that's where I get my energy from. It's by constantly focusing on filling in those buckets, if you will, so that when I wake up each day, I'm pulled towards a vision that is spiritual energy.

    I am grateful for what I have and the people around me and the opportunities. That's emotional energy.

    I am focused on what matters most. That is mental energy, and I'm making health a massive focus in my every day, and that is all about physical energy.

    Ling Yah: I wonder because obviously people can buy the book to learn all about it. What is the content that didn't make it into Energize?

    I'm sure there must be a ton that you cut out.

    Simon Alexander Ong: Yeah, there's lots of stuff I had to cut out because you know, there's a word count I have to keep too. Yeah.

    Ling Yah: What was something you wish had made it in but just couldn't make that word count?

    Simon Alexander Ong: I think there's one story I wish would've been in there, but it didn't fit in with the narrative I wanted to share in one of the chapters.

    But it's a story of this astronaut who was doing a routine check on one of the space stations. And what happened is during this routine check, his helmet started to fill up with water.

    Now, when you're in the middle of space, when your helmet starts to fill up with water, you start to get scared.

    It's unknown. You don't know why this is happening. And as it started to fill up with water, he was able to quickly communicate to his colleagues that something odd was happening with his suit.

    Now, here's the scary part. As the water starts to fill up your helmet, if you're able to see through the water, it's just black.

    It's pitch black because there's just blackness in space. And so the water started filling up as he was holding onto this rope, pulling it to bring him back inside the Space station.

    The whole time, he was absolutely calm. He was not panicking because if he panicked, he'll be using up all the oxygen in his suit.

    He was calmly pulling the rope. The water started filling up to the point he couldn't see anymore, but he was then going by touch. And when he came into the space station, he took off the helmet. They realized there was a fault in the suit.

    The reason I wanted to include that story is because it showed that when you get faced with setbacks and challenges, sometimes the ability to pause and to approach them with calmness in a sea of noise can be such a powerful skill. To be able to be calm and measured when around the world it looks like chaos.

    It's such a powerful skill to cultivate.

    Ling Yah: When was the last time there was chaos in your life and how did you manage it? Do you find that having been on this journey, the way you manage it now, it's very different from before?

    Simon Alexander Ong: Yeah, I would say, the example that comes to mind where I had last experienced a lot of chaos around me was the beginning of the Covid Pandemic, here in the uk.

    In April, 2020, I became a father for the first time. I also got the book deal with Penguin and Covid happened. So the UK went into its first lockdown and a lot of my business was public speaking.

    And as you can imagine, overnight, all of those events that I'd been booked to speak were canceled. It would take the world three to four months before they shifted to virtual speaking because in those three to four months, everybody was figuring out how do we work remotely?

    How do we shift to a remote only workforce? So that was tough because I had to manage raising a child, writing a book with deadlines and adapting my business because now all of my speaking revenue for the first couple of months that this happened went to zero.

    So that was the last time that there was true chaos around me.

    But I think the fact that I went through the global financial crisis in 2008 and the consequences of what happened because of that, gave me the ability and experience to be a lot calmer during the Covid pandemic.

    Because I'd gone through a crisis in the past, I had the experience to navigate this in a far more measured way than perhaps I would've done if I never went through the global financial crisis working in finance.

    Ling Yah: What is the measured way to handle chaos?

    In its most simplest and practical step, it is focusing on the things you can control.

    Simon Alexander Ong: Because there are gonna be lots of things that you cannot control. How long is this covid pandemic gonna last? What is the government's response going to be?

    Is my business gonna do well or not? I mean, these are things that you cannot ultimately control. When you get lost in the things that you cannot control, you become paralyzed by overthinking.

    You start to race around in all of these different thoughts that you get worried and anxious. Maybe depressed because of all of these unknowns that exist.

    But when you refocus your attention on the things you can control, and there is always something you can control, even if you're going for a tough time or you have a lot of obligations, there is always something you can control. Even if it is more at the moment, there is always something you can control.

    Just start there. So for me, when I was going through all of that chaos around me, the one thing I could control is what I could do with the time I had at home.

    My daughter was crying. I had to change nappies. I had to put her to bed. I can't control her schedule, but I could control what I did with the time I did have at home.

    And to be grateful that I didn't have to travel. I didn't have to go out. I didn't have to travel. I could do all of my business on a laptop while spending time with my child.

    And so focus came down to, well, what am I gonna do today that will help me adapt to the fact I have no speaking for three to four months?

    What could I do? And so, by focusing on what I could control, it gave me the energy to do more things that I could control, and that builds momentum.

    Ling Yah: One of the things you can't control also is how well your book does. Yeah. But you can control how it's marketed. I was very fascinated. Penguin also asked me if I wanted to write a book.

    So I just went deep dive into it to realize very quickly that actually a lot of the marketing comes from the author. Your role doesn't end in just writing and submitting it. There's so much behind the scenes. I'm sure you must have thought it through as well. What was your strategy behind launching your book?

    Simon Alexander Ong: Yeah, you're right. One of the concepts I embrace is be attached to no outcome and open to everything. And so I wasn't attached to how world a book did because I can't control how many people buy the book.

    But as you said, what I could control is the marketing. And because I wasn't attached to the outcome, I had so much fun when it came to the marketing.

    I love marketing because I think that I have a very creative brain. And because you as the author, have to push a lot of that marketing, I looked at my network and one of the things I'm grateful for is I have a very diverse network.

    I tapped my network to see what I could do that would be different enough that would get people's attention.

    One of the things we did is we partnered with the Conrad Hotel in London where they put together an energized cocktail. We shot the video of that with Jamie Oliver's production team, and we shared it on social media. So my followers went to that bar to order the cocktail, and when he shared on his social media, people within the hospitality board started following my work.

    And that was a great way to tell people about the book, but doing it in a very indirect way. And a couple of months later, we put together one of the world's first book launches in the metaverse.

    I created this experience where if you had an Oculus headset, a virtual reality headset, you could join this virtual conference where my avatar would be speaking to you about the book.

    And at the moment, one of the things I'm exploring is partnering with a chef here in the UK to create, again, I don't think it's been done before within my field of books.

    An eight course dining experience, bringing together personal development through a medium of food.

    Ling Yah: That sounds incredible. You could partner with Heston Blumenthal. It would be amazing.

    Simon Alexander Ong: I think this is why I love the creative side of what I do because Yes, it allows you to express your artistic potential.

    Yeah. And when you do it in a way that is original and unique, it gets people talking. And when people start talking, your book sells. It's just a natural byproduct of raising awareness of the work that you do.

    Ling Yah: Couldn't agree more. I love how you just dropped Jamie Oliver's name, like he's an everyday person anyone can bump into and be friends with.

    You also have people like Simon Sinek and Mary Forleo give raving reviews. This is a question I get as well, how do you get these superstars onto your platform supporting what you're doing?

    Simon Alexander Ong: Well, the first thing to note is, there's a different story to each one. The same story doesn't apply to all of them. But what it boils down to is the fact that every single week you should be expanding and cultivating your network. Every single week.

    And what I mean by this is you have to be a bit bold sometimes. So how I got to know Marie Folio is I went to one of her book launches. I sat as close as I could to the front. I got to meet some of her team. I added value. I shared some restaurant and bar recommendations with her team while they were in London. And we just built the relationship from there.

    Simon Sinek, our paths have crossed, at conferences we've spoken at. And his team reached out to me during COVID to do an online seminar together. And I cheekily asked him, when are you next having a meeting with Simon?

    Can I send you an advanced copy of my book so you can see if he would be open to writing an endorsement?

    And so that came out just from being a bit bold. So I think as a combination of relationship building and being a bit bold with your requests and how you do things.

    Ling Yah: I love it. It brings to mind so many guests who have quite simply just told me, blankly, you don't ask, you don't get, so you just gotta ask.

    Simon Alexander Ong: Indeed. Indeed.

    Ling Yah: Do you feel having a Penguin published book had an actual positive impact on your career?

    Simon Alexander Ong: Absolutely. It has opened a lot more doors. It has got me invited to a lot more conferences, and it's just been a fantastic product to use. To take my work to the next level.

    Ling Yah: I found a tweet of yours 15th of May, 2022, which I thought was very interesting. You said do epic stuff that will make your Netflix documentary compulsive viewing.

    I wonder what epic stuff have you been doing?

    Simon Alexander Ong: Well, I guess epic stuff in the last year. just to share a couple of examples, is speaking in Dubai at the Atlantis Hotel on the Palm, which was a wow experience because the setup was incredible.

    It was a fantastic experience speaking in San Diego and April, alongside Esther Peral, the New York Times bestselling author. Ed Catmull, the co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios.

    That was, again, such a epic moment. I'm gonna be speaking at Car Fest this summer, alongside people that I've looked up to.

    I've been inspired by musicians such as, ex Spice Skill Members, razor Light, the American Band, and, actors and other celebrities, from different industries that I'm gonna be speaking alongside with.

    For me, that is such an epic moment. And then to see my book this year win book of the year within the wellness and wellbeing category, to being named as Author of the Year recently to speaking on stage a couple of months back alongside Deepak Chopra, catching up with Jay Shetty and so on.

    So there's been some epic stuff in the last 12 months.

    Ling Yah: You have an epic penguin book, so you should definitely have an epic Netflix show coming up sometime soon.

    Simon Alexander Ong: Fingers crossed.

    Ling Yah: Fingers crossed.

    Just before we end, how can listeners help you?

    Simon Alexander Ong: I think the best way listeners can help me is one, buy the book.

    That always helps me in terms of sales, in terms of ranking. So if you haven't read Energize yet, it would be massively appreciated if you were to purchase a copy and read it.

    I would be honored. And do tag me if you do that. I would love to know if you have purchased a book as a result of this conversation, and share my work.

    If my work resonates with you on any of the platforms that you can find me on, then sharing that would be a massive help to me.

    Ling Yah: When you were talking about energy, one of the things you talk about was spiritual energy, meaning purpose. I wonder for you, have you found your why or purpose?

    Simon Alexander Ong: I believe so.

    I think it may still evolve as I get older and as I am exposed to new experiences. But I think right now I feel like I'm in my flow. I feel like I'm doing something that makes me feel alive and something that just pulls me forward and wakes me up every morning. And so I think that I'm living my purpose, because I'm just so excited right now.

    I'm excited by the unknown, the magic of what is possible and the impact that my work can have on other people.

    Ling Yah: And what kind of legacy do you wanna leave behind?

    Simon Alexander Ong: Simply put that anything is possible. That anything is possible. Not everything, but anything is possible. And if people can take those words to heart and do something about it, I think that would be the best legacy I could leave.

    Ling Yah: And what do you think are the most important qualities of a successful person?

    Simon Alexander Ong: For me, I would say giving.

    The most successful people I know are givers. They want to give value to the world because they know that our worth as a human is determined by how much more value we have given than we have taken.

    I will also say humility, simply because the challenge is not being successful. It has never been easier to be successful because you have all the information and the resources at your fingertips available.

    For me, it's remaining who you are once you have become successful. So true. Success for me is humility.

    And then the third one would be integrity. You know, following your own definition of success and not chasing someone else's.

    Ling Yah: That makes me curious. Is there anyone that you are aware of who embodies that idea of true success?

    Simon Alexander Ong: I would say one of the first people that jumps to my mind is probably those like Keanu Reeves.

    Keanu Reeves, financially is very successful. Yet he's someone you would probably see on the New York subway reading a paper and you can have a coffee with.

    And he hasn't let that get to his head. He still is the same person you would've met before he became a success in the eyes of society, and he gives back a lot.

    He gave a lot of his paycheck to his co-stars. People that don't get the recognition, the people behind the scenes. He often chips in with his own wealth to give back to causes. And so for me, I think he's a great example, of somebody who is not just successful in society's definition, but successful in his own right.

    Ling Yah: And where can people go to find out about what you are doing, support you? Buy your book?

    Simon Alexander Ong: Sure. Thank you so much Ling. So I'm on all the major social platforms. But the two I use the most are LinkedIn. You can search Simon Alexander Ong. I will pop up there when you search for that.

    And on Instagram, my handle is @ Simon Alexander O.

    And if you want to purchase a copy of the book, you can go to get energized that's energized with a z and all the links should be there.

    If you don't find a relevant link, you can just pop onto your Amazon if you have an Amazon in your country and you should be able to find the book there.

    Ling Yah: And I'll drop all the links in the show notes so people can find easily as well.

    Just before we wrap up, is there anything else you'd like to share that we haven't somehow covered?

    Simon Alexander Ong: The only thing I would share is a question because in my coaching work and the general work that I get to do, it is all about being action oriented.

    In fact, one of the common characteristics amongst the most successful is they have this strong bias to action.

    So if you are going for a period where you're not taking the action you want, or you feel that there is something out there that you deserve to do, or there's a story inside of you waiting to be told, the question I have for you is this, how much longer will you avoid doing what you are capable of doing in order to continue with what you are comfortable doing?

    Ling Yah: And that was the end of the episode with Simon Alexander Ong.

    The show notes and transcript can be found at If you haven't done so already, please do subscribe to the STIMY newsletter. And do reach out if you would like to be interested in partnering or sponsoring with STIMY as well.

    Just send me an email or just subscribe to the newsletter to find out more. And do stay tuned For next Sunday, because we'll be releasing another episode But if you want to find out more, you just got to subscribe.

    See you there!

    Simon Alexander Ong is a bestselling author, international keynote speaker and business strategist. His work has seen him invited onto Sky News and BBC to be interviewed, while he has been featured in the likes of Forbes and Harvard Business Review. He has also spoken at some of the planet's most successful organisations such as Barclays, Salesforces, Adobe, EY and Microsoft. And his debut book Energize, published by Penguin in 2022 became an instant bestseller, receiving endorsements from the likes of New York Times bestselling authors Simon Sinek, Marie Forleo and Marshall Goldsmith. Here, Simon Alexander Ong is interviewed by host & producer, Ling Yah, for STIMY Ep 137 of the So This Is My Why podcast

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