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Pursuing money alone isn't enough to make you rich

Update: January, 05/2011 - 09:21
Viet Nam News spoke to Singaporean entrepreneur Adam Khoo, a best-selling author and leading motivational speaker, during his visit to Ha Noi on Sunday to address young Vietnamese businessmen.

You've trained over 500,000 people and written 11 books on the secrets of your success. If you had just one sentence, could you summarise the secret of your success?

I would say "it's all about loving what you do, you have to love what you do and doing the very best as you can in that field."

I think everyone can be successful, but they have to discover what they are special at, what they love to do and really focus on improving it every single day.

Are there any short cuts to becoming rich?

Adam Khoo is one of the 25 richest people under the age of 40 in Singapore. He became a self-made millionaire by the age of 26. He owns and runs several businesses with a combined annual turnover of US$30 million. He is also the best-selling author of 11 books including I Am Gifted, So Are You and Clueless in Starting a Business.
If your main aim is to make a lot of money, you may not be very successful. If you look at the most successful people in the world, you can see money is not number one driving force for them. If you just think about money, you tend to take shortcut, to be dishonest and you'll find in a short period of time that you may make money but lose it just as fast.

I think the most important thing to focus on is how you can create values for your society. If you focus on helping other people and being the best in what you do, then the money will come.

People always think about the fastest way to make money but there's no quick way to do it. You start your business today and you can't make money tomorrow. It takes time to build your business. If you want to make money from the stock market, you can't do it overnight. It takes time to do it.

Making money is hard work but you can do it faster than other people if first, you educate yourself. Education is the most important thing. I don't just mean going to university. If you want to make money from the stock market, educate yourself, learn about the stock market, then do it. If you want to make money from a business, learn how to run a business. By educating yourself, you'll make fewer mistakes than other people. If you jump in there without knowledge and education, you'll make a lot of mistakes. I would say it's good to learn from mistakes but it's better to learn from other people's mistakes and experience.

People always ask me which business can make the most money and I say they can make money in any industry, whether it is food or property. Whatever industry you choose, you have to do your best. To do your best in it, you have to love what you do. If you love property, focus on it and you can make a lot of money. If you don't like property but love cooking, you can't make money from property but you can make money in food industry.

You've described yourself as being totally uninterested in learning and extremely unmotivated when you were a little boy, what do you think about the role of education?

It's very important. Education is not just about formal education at school. Former education is the teaching of maths, sciences, English. That is important, but not enough. Besides those academic skills, life skills and social skills need to be taught. Children need to be taught how to believe in themselves, how to love themselves, how to set goals, measure time, and work in a team. That is just as or more important than academic skills alone.

The Straits Times ran an article that Singapore is a ‘millionaire' country. In your opinion, what made Singapore a ‘millionaire' country and what can Viet Nam learn from that?

That's a formula called the "ultimate success formula". It begins with having a vision directing the dream. Singapore in the past was a very poor country. Singapore had no resources, no oil or gold, nothing. But we had a very good leader Lee Kuan Yew, who had that vision that didn't let Singapore be a give-up country.

He wanted people to dream and was able to get everyone to dream.

Second, Singaporeans were willing to learn. In many countries, you'll find that their people are very closed off to foreigners and want to do everything themselves. When you do that, it takes a long time to grow. But Singapore was very open. We asked American and Japanese people to come. By asking all the foreigners to come, we learnt from them. It took them hundreds of years to learn but we learnt it in just 30 years. That's why we could learn very fast and were able to jump. Of course, those 30 years were very hard work.

As a successful business person, what do you think about Viet Nam's business environment?

I think Viet Nam has tremendous potential. That's why I'm here. If you look back at the history before World War II, it was Britain that was the main economic power of the world. After the World War II, it went from Britain to the US. And as you can see in the last ten years, the economic centre has now shifted to Asia and I would say in the next 15 years, the greatest growth and the greatest opportunities belong to Asia – China, Viet Nam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.

An exciting thing about Viet Nam is that unlike China and its stock market, Viet Nam is still at the phase where people who invest now and those who come and start now have opportunities to build what successful people have done in China or Singapore.

How do you think about young Vietnamese entrepreneurs and their opportunities to succeed?

I'm really impressed by the people whom I've met here. I've been to many countries and it's not always the same. What I love about the people here is that they are willing to learn and hunger for success. You can tell by the way they talk to you.

Vietnamese people are very determined people. Looking back at the history, the Americans had more weapons but you beat them. Why? Because you had more determination. I think the spirit that you had as a country that has been through many wars shows that Vietnamese are very strong people. People are not afraid of difficulties. I think it is this strength that is now helping you become really successful. — VNS

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