Live with Passion

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The Art of Passionate Living
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He is the recently named China’s richest man - the man who took Alibaba Group, China’s largest e-commerce business, to the biggest IPO in US history. His name is Jack Ma. 

There is something interesting about successful Chinese entrepreneurs and leaders. I always find them to be much deeper and more humble than their American counterparts. After reading several articles about Jack Ma, I particularly admire him for starting out as an English teacher earlier in his life with no technical background, but great foresight, ambition, and determination.


Here are the 15 Life and Business Lessons from Jack Ma (translated from Chinese to English).

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The message in this Thai commercial is very heart-touching. It will make you cry and re-think about how you live your life.

Everyone is lucky. It’s whether you see it, how much of it you make, and what you make of it.

Without intelligence, you can’t even recognize luck. And with enough, you learn to generate your own.

Too many smart people don’t look at it this way, but if they did, they’d understand more about what it truly means to be lucky and how to get some. And by smart people, I mean everyone with a working brain.

Dumb luck is an opportunity. If you won the lottery but went broke, you didn’t know what to do with it. And if you knew, you wouldn’t be wasting your money on the lottery to begin with.

There is no luck involved when you can roll the dice as many times as you want. How many opportunities have you passed up? How many opportunities have you not even noticed? How many opportunities have you created for yourself? When’s the last time you asked for one?

We are all capable of luck, and we are all smart. You just need to know how it works if you plan on getting some.

"Intelligence VS Luck" by Keinosuke Miyanaga



  • No matter how hard it rains, a glass that is placed upside down on the street in the rain will never be full. Just like close-minded people - no matter how many smart people they surround themselves with, they will never get any smarter. 
  • Whoever lets themselves become a victim of anger will never  fall asleep happy even on the most expensive bed with the most comfortable sheet. 
  • Don’t just teach your kids to become “rich”, but teach them to understand “happiness" so that when they grow up, they know the "value" of things, not just the "price" of things.
  • Smart people don’t date the most beautiful. They date someone who makes their world seem most beautiful when being with them. 


WHY WE TRAVEL (by Pico Iyer)


"We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again — to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more. 

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People think it’s hard to change. That is because the moment you decide to change you let go of your comfort zone. It’s scary. You gather up all your courage and fight against the fear. But it’s that moment - that moment that you make up your mind that you are going to fight through the uncomfortable feeling and make it become comfortable - is powerful.




Some of us wake up everyday to do something that we love — something that we feel like we were born to do. 

It feels like the elements required at work come to us naturally — from the way we think to the way we communicate and interact with others. We enjoy it deliberately and crave the challenge because it means that we get to push ourselves forward and become better and better. Learning has never been more fun and stimulating. We just can’t live it any other way.

And if you’re a marketer like me, I’m sure you have recognised some of these signs in yourself from when you were little up until now. 

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Are you feeling overwhelmed with all the work that you’ve got to do?

There seems to be a million different things that need to be done. We feel overwhelmed and out of control because we don’t know where to start. Should I start with project A? What about project B and C that need to be done as well? 

We all know that focus is incredibly important to productivity. But it’s almost impossible to be working on just one thing and one task in a given month or week or even just day.


From being a student to a professional working in the corporate world or a freelancer, you will find that there’s no difference in juggling tasks. Some of us are better than others. Some suffer from it even more as a scattered brain. 

Here’s what I’ve learned for the past twenty years in how to reshape my focus when working on several things at once. 

(This trick has helped me successfully lose 20 kg in 5 months, scored A’s in exams, and won several competitions.)


Create a list of everything that you need to do - both major and minor tasks - and the time required to finish each task.  

Type or write it all down on a Google Doc, on your phone’s Note app, on a white board, or on a notepad. 


After writing it all down, you might feel a little less overwhelmed as you feel more in control of what needs to get done.

Now you need to re-asset what to focus on - where to pay most attention to and pour your energy towards. 

This can be complicated when we feel like everything requires the same amount of attention and energy from you, everything needs to be done at the same time - and then you just panic. 

Use this matrix below to help you prioritise tasks.



  • What is the deadline for each task?
  • Which one needs to be finished first? 


  • How important is the task? What would happen if the task is not done in time?
  • What is the effect that the task will have on the other or consequential tasks?
  • Is there any other thing that relies on this task to be done first? Is it absolutely crucial for you to do because otherwise the other tasks can’t be done?  
  • If the task is left unfinished, uncompleted, incomplete, or done poorly, how is it going to affect you and what’s the cost of that? 
  • What is the opportunity cost? If you spend your time on A and not B, what will it cost you? What will you miss out on? 
  • Can you assign someone else to do the task for you? 

After evaluating all the tasks on these factors, you will know what to prioritise - what task you should do first, what you should do right after, what you should reschedule, what you should delegate, and what you may cut out completely if possible.  


This is what I did best when I was a student. Because I was able to effectively and efficiently allocate time, I finished all my studies and did really well in the exams. My close friends even relied on me to help with scheduling. So why not bring this childhood trick and skill into adulthood right? 

Grab a calendar, either on your phone or a notepad, and start allocating time throughout the day. I plan my schedule week by week. Sometimes two weeks at a time. I normally do this on Sunday so I can fully focus and get right into it from Monday through to Friday. 

This is what my calendar normally looks like. 

8 - 9 : Write a blog post

9 - 10 : Meeting with Mr. B

10 - 12 : Work on Task A 

12 - 1 : Lunch break

1 - 3 : Work on Task E

3 - 4 : Gym

4 - 6 : Work on Task D 

6 - 6.30 : Finalise and send off Task D to client

Make sure you stick to your schedule.

If you’ve spent too much time on one task or got distracted at one point and it affects the rest of your schedule and plan, re-schedule and move everything back a few hours as required. 

There’s no need to stress. Just go to bed late for a couple of nights and you’ll catch up on work. 


  • Disconnect and go offline

When working on a task that doesn’t require an internet connection, go offline. Social media, email pop-ups, and SMS can distract you more than you may think. You eyes will keep wandering off every ten minutes. Pretty photos, interesting articles, text messages from your partner, emails from unhappy clients - all these can affect your mood and emotions which affect your ability to focus. 

  • Find your sanctuary

If you don’t have a fixed desk at an office, find a cafe or a place where you can go to for a few hours and really focus without any distraction or interruption - if could be a cafe, a library, or a corner in your house. 

  • Block out noise

Some people can work with music in the background. But for me it’s best to be in a quiet place where I don’t hear the lyrics repeating itself in my head or overhear the conversation of the people sitting in the vicinity. I use noise-cancelling in-ear headphones to block out noise and distraction. Even in a library, sometimes people talk and it’s very annoying and distracting!


There are a lot of inevitable activities that waste your time in your daily life - from commuting, to running errands, and everyday routines. 

Time is a limited resource so I try to optimise my time as much as possible and make use of the inevitable wasted time. 

  • Commute time:

We have to commute - everyday - either by bus, train, or foot. I find commute time to be one of the best to focus because no one is trying to talk to me and I can’t do anything else but to do some work.

Use the morning commute time to read the news or websites related to your industry for inspiration and knowledge. 

Smart phones and light laptops now make it easy for us to do work on the go. I always find myself reading work-related stuff while waiting for the train or the bus, getting my laptop out to do work when on a 30-minute train ride, and writing things down while power walking home from work. 

  • Waiting time: 

Waiting time is annoying but inevitable  - from waiting for the bus or the train, to waiting for coffee or food, waiting for a friend or a colleague who’s late, being stuck in traffic, and queueing at the bank or the post office. It is usually short (5-15 minutes) and not long enough to let you do work that requires a lot of focus and a long thinking process. 

I use this period to do a little brainstorming or research. Just take out my phone and reply some emails and do some reading and browsing - whether it be on websites, Flipboard, Linkedin, Twitter, or Facebook. Sometimes I use this period to reschedule or plan my day/week and think about the little things that I need to do - the little tasks I need to add to my to-do list and my calendar, the things I need to buy, and people I need to call or email.

Believe it or not but I usually find that my best creative work gets inspired on the spur of the moment during my commuting or waiting time. 


Once you’ve allocated time for each task, make sure you stick to it and that each task is on schedule. If one is left undone, re-arrange your schedule again and make sure you catch up on it as soon as possible to avoid procrastination or postponing. 


Finally, it might sound quite easy to do but incredibly hard to follow through. Starting a new habit is hard but repeatedly you will reap a habit. Over and over you will be able to prioritise your tasks, focus, and maximise your productivity without feeling confused, burnt out, or tortured. 


The mind has a memory and it subconsciously recognises patterns. Only if you understand the trick to manipulate your own mind, you’ll realise that it’s not hard to do or achieve anything that you set your mind to. 

Work on something that matters to you more than money. Create more value than you capture. And take the long view.
Tim O’Reilly



Over the past few months I have been on the road. I went back to my hometown to realise how much things have changed and how fast things are moving.

There’s something romantic about leaving a place and returning to it years later I must say - the unfamiliar, yet, recognisable surroundings; the familiar faces that seem distant enough for friendships to be rekindled; the joy of seeing how everyone has grown and changed over time; and the realisation that something is of the most valuable - trust. 

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