Happiness and Success

You don’t need to look very far to realise that the correlation between happiness and success isn’t what you might’ve guessed.

It’s super rare to bump into millionaires who are happy. They can buy all the things they want. Yet we see many who kill themselves, even with money in the bank.

In fact, accquiring things almost never gives us happiness because we stop desiring it immediately. The things become part of our life; we forget about it. We move on and look for the next thing to desire.

And almost as rare, are the people in poverty who are depressed. The kids in Thailand and Cambodia playing in the dirty river, are some of the happiest kids I’ve ever seen in my life.

What we are taught in school is a linear direction of desire. Good grades, great college, a high paying job, a car, a partner, and a house.

What happens when you get to the top? Maybe a bigger house? More friends; cooler friends?

If you want to find happiness, there are two questions:

1) What is happiness to you?

2) Is that sustainable?

External things are unrelated, except for one reason: have enough till you’re comfortable. The thrill of a next level disappears quickly, but the pain of not getting what you want lasts a very long time.

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The photo was taken in Manazura, Japan – where I learnt the design code of the town.

Keep a Small Identity

Years ago, I was 23 years old, I had nothing under my belt – no companies, no money, no rings (still none). But, I had a dream. I wanted to run my own wedding planning studio.

I spent months to decide on a business name, design a logo, and make a website. It’s done, it’s called Beautiful Gatherings.

I had to convince people to trust me with the most important day of their life, their wedding. And pay me for it.

I can’t tell them my gender – every other person in the business is the opposite sex.

I can’t tell them my age – they would think I’m too young.

I can’t tell them I’m not married – they would think I don’t have experience.

So, I came up with the idea to keep a goatee. It worked, it gave me confidence. This is me, Bryan the wedding planner with the goatee.

I became one of the top 10 wedding planners in town.

Onwards, I proceeded to give the wedding studio away, founded an animation studio, started a podcast, and a Youtube channel.

At 28 years old, I want to start dating. So, I sought advice from my female friend. She told me to shave off the goatee.

I said to myself, “Not the goatee! I love it, I became a great wedding planner because of it.”

I asked another friend. And another. They all said the same thing.

So, I shaved it off grudgingly.

I finally realised that it’s an identity that I’ve been defending but it is no longer serving its purpose. I have no reason to keep my goatee, it became useless. What got me here is stopping me from getting me there. I had to keep my identity small. The plan is to hold on to as few things as possible.

Do you have an identity or label that you are holding on and it is holding you back?

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The photo was taken in at a house party where I was couchsurfing in Oakland, California.

Conference Hacking, Self-Awareness and Personal System with JR Hinds

JR Hinds is the owner of Hinds and Associates, specialising in employer-sponsored health insurance plans. Today, over 90% of his business is developed through referrals.

He has a private pilot’s license and flies a Cessna 172. He also jumped out of an airplane twice (but never one that he was flying).

JR rappelled down the building the day before his wedding day and threw a surprise wedding for his 50 guests.

One of his favourite things to do is to spend time with his 4 nephews and his niece.

In this conversation, we spoke about

  • Learnings from the World Domination Summit
  • Conference hacking
  • JR’s personal mission statement
  • and much more!

JR apologise for the wrong mention of “Yes Marsha Marsha”. It’s Yes Yes Marsha.

There was a lot of nervous laughter in this episode – mainly from me. Listen to the podcast to know why.

I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did.


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The Magician Behind the Higher Education Revolution, Michelle Jones

“I don’t think we ask deep enough questions and give young people enough credit for being able to have those answer within themselves.”
– Michelle Jones

Michelle Jones is the founder of a higher education institution, Wayfinding Academy. It is a new 2-year college aiming to revolutionize higher education. They have been approved to offer Associate’s degrees by Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission.

She has taught in traditional colleges for 15 years. Some of the institutions include (but not limited to) Boston University,  University of New Mexico and Concordia University of Portland.

Michelle is also the organizer of TEDx Mt Hood for the last 8 years.

Wayfinding Academy is currently having a GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign from June 17th – July 27th to raise $60,000. Thier goals are to double their student body size, launch a second program, and impact twice as many lives. Donate here. (I have made a donation of $250.)

In the podcast episode [02:40:00], you can listen to a conversation with a student (Meg Lamberger) of the Wayfinding Academy about her experiences.

Enjoy this incredible conversation! It was very eye-opening for me.

In this conversation, we spoke about

  • How Michelle started Wayfinding Academy with a personal budget of $15,000 for 2 years
  • Why Wayfinding Academy doesn’t have grades
  • The importance of guides in a student’s growth
  • and much more!

If you’ve only got 2 minutes, here’s a short video – Put it Online or Not?

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Army Admin Clerk to Entrepreneur: 10 Things I Do Differently Now

6 years ago, I was an admin clerk in an army camp.

To be honest, it could have been a great job but I landed with the wrong Company Sergeant Major: I stayed in-camp while watching my clerk friends go home every day. In case you are wondering, the computer was not connected to any internet and my only luxury was a “dumb” Nokia phone. I made a total of $500 each month. That life, for 2 years.

Somehow, I managed to save $10,000 while moonlighting on the weekend. I used that money and backpacked around the world for a year. It changed my life. (I highly recommend everyone to do that once in their life.)

After coming home, I took my interest in wedding planning and started a studio, Beautiful Gatherings. One thing led to another, I became one of the top 10 wedding planners in Singapore and now, I run a 2D animation studio, Sage Animation.

I thought an appropriate end of this chapter would be to share 10 lessons I learned along this journey (More on the chapter ending next.)

Stop Growing my Business

I once interviewed a hospitality mogul. After the interview, he said to me: “Bryan, I’m so jealous of you. You can just take off anytime and travel anywhere”.

Did he felt trapped by the business of his own making?

It made me reflect: “What the most important point of the business?”

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