I attended a seminar the other day conducted by a guy called James Sun. In 2007, he was the first Asian to reach the finals of Donald Trump’s The Apprentice show on NBC. He didn’t win, but it was still a fantastic showing. The flyer also mentioned that he made his first million dollars at the age of 22.
The seminar was aptly named “James Sun’s secrets of success”. I was lucky enough to get a complimentary ticket, and just had to show up to find out what they are.
The organiser was Fly Entertainment, a Singapore artiste management and events company, helmed by a local television celebrity Irene Ang. She made an impromptu but very sincere and warm introduction of the man.
It might seem to be an odd fit. After all, Irene is best known for comedic role in Phua Chu Kang, top rating sitcom in its heyday. However, Irene revealed her real passion to be helping people, and she has certainly made a very successful business out of this.
James then took the stage. There were no flashy slides or props, he simply stood there and spoke animatedly for about an hour (check out an excellent summary of the seminar here).
As I sat there, a couple of thoughts entered my head. The first was, are there universal principles of success?
Take for example, perseverance. Every successful entrepreneur I’ve met all emphasised the importance of never giving up in the face of adversity. However, I’ve also met many struggling businessmen who slogged all their lives without hitting paydirt. Is it realistic to expect success if we follow every one of his secrets?
Of course, one could argue that these were simply facilitating factors that enhance the chances of success but do not guarantee it. But if that’s the case, then what is the real ingredient of success?
The second was, should we mirror what successful people are doing now, or what they did in the past? After all, successful people can leverage upon their fortune and fame. They probably behave very differently from when they first started out. A retrospective look at the past might be through rose tinted glasses. Memories are never perfect.
Don’t take these comments to be specific to James or Irene. They have worked hard and deserve to be where they are today. It was a very enlightening and entertaining talk, giving insights into what made James Sun who he is.
This is not the first “secrets of success” seminar I’ve attended, nor is it likely to be the last. But I suspect that every person’s path to success is different, and this is something we have to figure out on our own.