What we’ve learned from 100 Time Auction Mentors

1w0YFDwGk nIp5bluQ0WFuQ

Time Auction was born out of a quarter-life crisis.

3 years ago, we were at a startup event. Many attendees (ourselves included) were there to explore and answer a question — How do you find your life’s passion and a career you love?

On our way out, we were chatting about the idea of Time Auction. What if we can pick the brains of people who are masters of their craft, while making the world a better place?

That night, we listed out the people we looked up to and kind of knew (“How about our friend’s dad? Or the guy you met at that event last time?”), and sent our first few emails.

Fast forward to today, our first mentor became our Board Director. We got our charity status, raised donations, and grew to a team of 8. Over 11,000 volunteer hours were raised featuring Allan Zeman and Anson Chan among many others. More than 230 charities were benefited with extra helping hands. Some of our attendees switched career or study fields with what they’ve learned.

We made our grandmas proud by being on newspapers. Jim Thompson and Ming Wai Lau became our advisors. We’ve done most of these on a part-time basis and realized that having a side hustle is possible. Personally, we’ve learned many valuable lessons which have shaped who we are today.

Here are our favourite takeaways.

#1 They craft out the capacity to think

1D3Xc8VUjmFjfFmBZH0nggA

Aaron Lee (Founder, Dash Serviced Suites) — Plan & Review Your Day

A habit that has significantly improved Aaron’s life? “Micro-planning. I plan my days sometimes to the extent of 15 minutes blocks. Every night before I sleep, I’d review my day. Every Sunday, I’d review my week and plan for the next.” Planning your schedule not only gives you structure to follow through on your goals, but also gives you space for creativity.

13FB1jxKRgDki7TTCGLR0Gw scaled

Michelle Sun (Founder, First Code Academy) — Choose Growth Over Fear

“Always choose what will grow you the most, instead of what you fear.” Taking a leap of faith, Michelle left banking to study coding in the U.S., worked at various startups before starting First Code Academy. When making life decisions, we always have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety. Most often, the path we fear is what will grow us most. Before making a decision, ask yourself, are you guided by fear or by growth?

Belinda Koo (Founder, XYZ & Managing Director, UBS) — Reflect & Introspect Often

As an entrepreneur, banker and mother of three, Belinda lives by the motto of “Be an asset, not a liability”. What drives her is a goal of reaching a stage called Immanence, which is when one develops a strong spiritual mindset and links what they are doing to how they are giving back to their community, God or the Universe. As a practitioner of mindfulness and meditation, she shares that reaching such milestones come from a huge amount of reflection and introspection. Declutter your mind and listen to your inner wisdom regularly.

Tony Cheng (Founder, Drawing Room Concepts) — Make Time To Think

Despite the busy schedule of running multiple restaurants, Tony regularly schedules time just to think and reflect, which is often when great ideas come by. Prioritize the time to brainstorm, so you won’t get into the lazy trap of being too busy to focus on things that matter most.

#2 They own their education

1HU64ZderCnt8 1IQ1XbK7A

Renée Boey (Founder, Baker & Bloom) — Learn On The Go

Renée dedicates at least 1 hour per day just to learn. Think you don’t have an extra hour? She listens to podcasts on her commute. Since then, we’ve switched listening to music to podcasts every morning (Renée’s recommendation: The Tim Ferriss Show, How to Start a Startup). No extra time needed, we definitely recommend this way to learn!

13BxmnmRb00FVmchz4rNy Q scaled
1kDfqXsE5ZtUdMmiG79nahw scaled

Fritz Demopoulos (Co-founder, Qunar) — Learn 3 Things From Everyone You Meet

Fritz’s advice to everyone was to learn 3 things from everyone you meet. Here are 3 of our favorite takeaways from Fritz:

  1. “An entrepreneur has two roles: one is brutal execution and the second is resource extraction in a very efficient way.” If you are doing things that fall into these two categories, it is a good use of your time.
  2. How to stand out to investors? “These founders you can see the electric in their fingers, they’re almost shaking .” Passion is critical and what you can’t lie about.
  3. “Focus on areas others weren’t focusing on — perhaps ideas that people think were stupid and so were overlooked.”

Cindy Chow (Executive Director, Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund) — Learn by Going Out of Your Comfort Zone

Started as an accountant, how did Cindy end up leading the HK$1 Billion Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund? By actively seeking out opportunities outside of her comfort zone from the beginning of her career — diving into Tech and China Mobile industries before they became mainstream. Most of us fear change because of the uncertainty, however the only way to grow is to constantly take on new challenges.

Guy Bradley (Chief Executive, Swire Properties) — Learn Outside of Your Scope

Guy joined the Swire group in 1987 and when he became the Director of Swire properties in 2008, he still took the initiative to study and become a Chartered Surveyor, just to learn about the technical side of the business. In today’s evolving business world, a mindset of lifelong learning is essential whether you’re a junior member or a CEO.

1 NNrtPO3B yVg67vTYcBug

Ray Chan (Co-founder, 9GAG) — Learn From All Businesses

9GAG is one of the most visited websites in the world, and Ray still spends much of his time thinking about ideas. In particular, observing successful businesses outside of the tech field — Why is a café or TV channel more popular than another? There might be commonalities that you can apply to your own business. Recognising patterns helps you become more creative.

Jennifer Ma (Co-founder, ARCH Education) — Craft Your Own Curriculum

When Jennifer leaped from banking to education, it didn’t happen overnight. Jennifer spent 6 months researching the education industry, travelling to Oxford and Cambridge to talk to professors, working in a public secondary school in Hong Kong before creating ARCH with her own curriculum. Before diving in to start your own business, perhaps you can create your own real-world “MBA” for hands-on experience and to test assumptions.

#3 They value people above all else

11bCNQ vwjRQI4GE3jNPusw

Joe Ngai (Managing Partner, McKinsey & Company Greater China) — The Power of Influence

“In the age of information, the ability to influence is the most un-commoditised element.” Joe shares that at the highest level, consulting is about change. In this information age, the hardest part isn’t about coming up with the solution, but the ability to influence others to change.

Gary Liu (CEO, SCMP) — Measure Your Life In Impact

Gary pursuits life with a goal — to leave all the people he encounters in life better off than when he first found them. “That means I don’t chase after money or fame or power, but all I’m looking for is that kind of mentality in life.” Our lives aren’t measured in years. They’re measured in the lives of the people we touch around us. How will you measure yours?

Tom Mehrmann (former CEO, Ocean Park) — Leaders Speak Last

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” is Tom’s leadership motto. In order to turn around Ocean Park and change company culture, he was the first CEO to eat at the staff canteen, dressed up as one of the ghosts on Halloween nights, to go on great lengths to hear everyone’s thoughts before weighing in with his own. Practice listen first and be the last to speak, which is good advice no matter who you’re speaking to.

12w9DL6TDcvd 1l17DLwI A scaled
13Ow7Fl2W50pGqot9NmSLZw scaled
1wahVZmxXRlE6sSUHizgEdQ scaled

Christine Loh (former Under Secretary of the Environment, Hong Kong Government) — Your Hobbies Create Your Own Unique Network

If you’ve ever wondered how a Commodities Trader become a Legislative Council member and Under Secretary of the Environment, we’ve got the answer. “I had a secret nightlife — I loved talking about public policy with a group of friends who share the same interests.” Christine loved it so much that when there was an opening at the government, she was offered the job. Your unique network is created from your hobbies. Find your tribe!

Dr. Guy Look (CFO, Sa Sa) — People Skills Are Real Skills

What’s one skill that the CFO of Sa Sa wish he had known better? “How to better judge and trust people. You can learn hard skills through reading. However the soft skills, the human relationships — knowing who to work with, or how to work with people, are not as easily taught.” We can all agree that hard skills are critical, yet skills like influence, communication and emotional intelligence is what makes the difference between a thriving team with a strong culture and one that just survives.

Garic Kwok (Director of Business Development, Taipan Bread & Cakes) — Choose a Career, Choose a Life

“You have to understand the values people have in the industry, which you can tell by the quality of their personal life. Then think about if this is the life you want?” When choosing your career, you have to consider if you identify with the industry’s shared values and lifestyle norms. As work makes up 80,000 hours of our lives, you career has a larger influence on you beyond purely the work scope.

Ronald Chan (Founder, Chartwell Capital) — How to Make a First Impression with Warren Buffet

How did a fund manager from Hong Kong ended up writing a book with and on Warren Buffett? “If you want to make an impression, either be the first person or the last.” Driven by excitement, Ronald was always the first person in line to meet and greet Buffett at his annual shareholders’ meetings, which made quite an impression on the legendary value investor. This led to a conversation, and then support and endorsement from Buffett for Ronald to write the book “Behind the Berkshire Hathaway Curtain: Lessons from Warren Buffett’s Top Business Leaders”. Genuine sincerity and desire to learn are golden truths that always stand true.

Win Mak (CEO, Mirum Hong Kong) — Look Beyond The Digital

With over 20 years of serving businesses (from Arsenal to Wynn Resorts) in digital marketing, Win says it all boils down to one thing — human connection. As a brand, are you speaking to your fans in an authentic way? Will they stand with you after a viral campaign? Digital marketing is, after all, just a means to an end.

#4 They explore by doing

1

Maaike Steinebach (Chief Executive, Hong Kong, Commonwealth Bank) — Get Out of Your Head

With 20+ years in banking, having lived in Holland, Shanghai and Hong Kong, Maaike’s urge for young people is to speak up. There is so much talk about how stressful it is to look for a job, yet on the other end, she reminds us how much they need young people with ideas. Do you have ideas that only stay in your head?

1vUhxZulp6W x6mdNSbWXSg scaled

Leonie Valentine (Managing Director, Sales & Operations, Google Hong Kong) — Explore, Consolidate & Accelerate

“Your 20s are about exploration, 30s for consolidation, and 40s for acceleration.” Leonie had her quarter-life crisis early, exploring many career options when she was young. Looking back, that exploratory period was time well spent, where she chose the path that was most interesting, rather than a predetermined one. In a world of instant gratification and on-demand everything, we sometimes forget that good things take time. It’s okay to not have everything figured out by your 30s. Take time in your 20s to explore, understand yourself and what drives you.

Allison Baum (Managing Partner, Fresco Capital) — Tips on Career Change

Going from investment banking in New York, to launching General Assembly in Hong Kong and now Managing Director at Fresco Capital, we learned that career change isn’t easy. It takes action (lots of people to meet and interviews with companies), patience (it’s not easy to find an exciting and suitable opportunity if you have a good and secure job), and courage (trusting your gut feeling and taking a leap of faith). If you want to venture into a new path, are you one of the few that take action?

1FIOdmU4Z8CF2vA5FkyDY2Q scaled

Sandra Leung (COO of Market Development & Head of Issuer Services, HKEX) — The Art of Asking

An accomplished young lady in many ways, Sandra says the key to achieving your dreams lies in the art of asking. “If you want to win a lottery, you have to buy a ticket. I rarely say I want to do this, but I haven’t even taken a baby step towards it.” Every big accomplishment is just a series of small wins. Progress is made one step at a time. Take the first step.

Gary Ngan (CFO, Meitu) — Find Uncommon Ways to Destination

When Gary was applying for Ivy League universities, one of the criteria was to demonstrate passion in sports. With no sports background, he figured the quickest way is to master scuba-diving by living on a boat for 3 months, which eventually helped him get accepted into University of Pennsylvania. With the mindset of “Think out of the box, find uncommon ways to get to where you want to be”, Gary became CFO of Meitu at just 28. In Peter Thiel’s words, “How can you achieve your 10-year plan in the next 6 months?”

#5 They have a side hustle

1RduZkBnnC2Z6f0nIGtvKlg

Arthur Chow (Co-founder, 6waves) — The Importance of Fun Side Projects

While Arthur was working at Turner Broadcasting, he started a side project with friends for fun — a game to play on Facebook for you to guess which Stephen Chow movie a line is from. This viral game became the basis of 6waves, the leading mobile game publisher today with presence across Asia and U.S. Never underestimate your fun side projects, as what you truly enjoy doing might be what you would do best in!

1GJ xOsu54Us5X7B6zp6D1g scaled
1yOpJaBDieFh64LeDpGcheQ scaled

Antony Leung (Chairman & CEO, Nan Fung Group) — Always Work 2–3 Jobs

Antony has had a thriving career spanning across finance, public service and startups. At any given point in time, he’s always held more than 2 jobs at once. “So I can learn twice as much. Once you stop learning, you’re dead!” This interdisciplinary exposure gives him T-shaped knowledge: breadth (perspective) and depth (expertise), which helps him connect the dots and be more creative.

Thomas Chou (Partner, Morrison & Foerster) — Giving is an Energizer

As a busy lawyer and partner at a leading law firm, Thomas regularly spends a proportion of his time helping non-profits and startups. This energizes him and gives balance to his busy lifestyle. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone incorporates giving as part of their lifestyle?

#6 They don’t see setbacks as failure

1tjYyhyituBUu o UXM8Mgw

Alex Kong (Founder, TNG Wallet) — Persevere at Rock Bottom

Alex’s life story is a roller coaster ride — Born into a humble family, Alex has made millions building tech companies, owning private jets at the age of 35 before losing it all in an unjust lawsuit. Picking himself up from rock bottom, he founded TNG Wallet, now Hong Kong’s biggest e-wallet with over half a million downloads. It is only possible as he truly lives up to his advice: persevere and never, ever give up.

1XIC9cRS6f949YKsiFzf UA scaled

Ming Wai Lau (Chairman, Commission on Youth) — The Astronaut Philosophy in Tackling Moonshot Goals

Creating a youth policy for Hong Kong is a long journey with an uncertain chance of success, and Ming Wai lives a philosophy he learned from an astronaut to help him deal with setbacks. “How to become an astronaut? His advice was not to go become a pilot or join NASA. It was a philosophical advice which applies to most things in life. First, you have to enjoy the process of trying. Second, you have to accept the high chance of failing. If you can do both, it’s worth it.” Success isn’t guaranteed to the smart man or the lucky man; it takes a persistent man who never thought he was defeated.

Timothy Yu (Founder, Snapask) — Success is Defined by Failures

“Don’t listen to anyone, your parents or teachers. Success is something you define — it’s defined by tons of failures, until you can find a formula of success.” Having heard thousands of times that “this would not work” from growing Snapask, the 25-year-old entrepreneur kept his head low and worked hard, growing Snapask to over half a million users in Asia. As Tim said, “If it makes you a better person instead of having a better CV — then you’re on the right way!”

Jess Yeung (Co-founder, GinZeng) — Figure Out the Root Cause

How do you know when to quit and when to keep going? “If the failure is caused by a wrong fundamental assumption, we have to re-evaluate the whole business idea. Otherwise, if the root cause is more related to personal issue or the environment, we have to overcome it rather than giving up.” It is always a fine line between knowing when to give up and when to keep going, checking whether the fundamentals are correct would be a good place to start.

Yin-Man Tang (Investment Strategist) — Choose Your Opponents Wisely

“I like losing as it’ll be the learning ground and basis for your next attempt. You know how much better you have to be.” If you play against an average tennis player to a world champion, who do you think would help you improve faster? Take it from Yin

This article originally appeared on our blog on Medium: https://timeauction.medium.com/what-weve-learned-from-100-time-auction-mentors-777ffde2046b

Updated on 7 May, 2021
Share on

Volunteer Your Skills for Worthy Causes

Ever thought you could volunteer with your skills?

Discover volunteer projects where you can use your skills to support causes – all while building your resume, gaining references and making a difference!
Discover Projects
【2024義工活動】點樣加入義工行列?5大義工服務種類推介
你對「做義工」嘅認識有幾多?好多人都未必熟悉除咗賣旗籌款同探訪老人院之外,仲有咩其他類型嘅義工服務。究竟坊間有邊啲做義工嘅途徑,可以搵到適合自己嘅義工機會呢? 其實香港大大小小嘅慈善團體或非牟利機構  (NGO) 都會招募義工,而非牟利機構嘅義工服務範疇亦非常多元化,包括技能義工 (Skilled-volunteers),善用義工嘅個人技能同專長服務社會。你可以根據唔同嘅服務種類,或者按自己嘅喜好、關心嘅社會議題選擇義工機會。以下係5種常見嘅義工服務範疇同機構簡介畀你參考: 目錄 (一):動物福利 (二):長者服務 (三):青年發展 (四):環境保護 (五):社區服務 技能義工配對平台推介 常見嘅義工服務範疇(一):動物福利 如果你係狗奴、貓奴,或者鍾意動物,不妨考慮做動物義工!除咗有機會親身接觸毛孩之外,仲可以利用自己嘅一技之長,支援NGO嘅日常運作。雖然根據政府公佈的數據,動物棄養嘅數量有持續下降趨勢,但因近年的移民潮影響,保護動物慈善協會表示棄養寵物個案兩年升近三倍。因此,很多關注動物福利的團體都十分需要義工加入服務行列。 義工服務性質:清潔籠舍、照顧動物、活動推廣等 香港動物基金 Hong Kong Paws Foundation 香港動物基金係一間完全依靠慈善捐款同義工支持嘅動物福祉組織,希望拯救被虐待、遺棄同走失嘅動物。 香港愛護動物協會 SPCA (HK) 香港愛護動物協會係本港首間兼顧動物福利各方面嘅慈善團體,提倡善待動物,同時打擊同防止虐待動物。 Bring Me Home (Suppaw) Bring Me Home (Suppaw) 係一個寵物社交網站,亦係香港首個無償動物領養平台。 嘉道理農場暨植物園 Kadoorie Farm & Botanic Garden 嘉道理農場暨植物園為需要支持的農民提供農業援助,幫助他們過上獨立嘅生活; 並為公眾提供休閒同教育體驗。  Team for Animals in Lantau South (TAILS) 南大嶼山動物保護隊為有需要的貓狗提供救援、醫療、絕育、養育、庇護、寄養同領養服務,包括那些 流浪、被遺棄、受傷、虐待同忽視既貓狗,大力提倡動物福利,相信教育可以創造有利於香港動物嘅變革。 立即發掘更多! 常見嘅義工服務範疇(二):長者服務 隨著香港長者人口上升,越來越多關注老人家嘅機構都招募緊義工,希望為老友記送上更多關懷。 義工服務性質:家居維修、網頁設計、文字翻譯等 […]
How Quarryside (St. James Settlement) Transforms a Community Space and Experience | Skilled Volunteering Case Study
The Challenge Quarryside, a community space located in Quarry Bay, was recently launched in June 2023. It aims to provide diverse experiences that foster a creative, healthy, and sustainable lifestyle. With a newly launched space, the NGO operator, St. James’ Settlement is in need of recruiting for volunteers with event support experience to support the […]
How Law Student Catherine Channels Education Into Volunteer Work | Time Auction Impact Highlights
Meet Catherine! After receiving her bachelor’s degree in Comparative Literature and Sociology, Catherine is now pursuing a postgraduate law degree. Prior to joining the Time Auction community, she already had abundant experiences in volunteering. From teaching underprivileged children to planning accessible classical music events, it’s clear that this is not her first rodeo as a […]
How to Have a Great #1HourWith Your Mentor
Before your #1HourWith Mentorship Session, you're strongly encouraged to spend 1-2 minutes reading this checklist and top tips to maximise the opportunity. 📜 Before your session Do your homework. Google your mentor’s name and learn as much as you can about them Determine 2-3 core questions Find a quiet place with great internet connection and […]
Anchor Yourself with a Moral Compass — Dinner with Anson Chan, Former Chief Secretary of HKSAR Government
Sometimes the most meaningful and inspiring conversations happen over casual meals. The Time Auction Blog is a snippet of our meetings with people who have found passion in their life and career, where we get a glimpse into their mentality behind their ventures. You’d think that after hitting numerous historic milestones as former Chief Secretary […]
【香港義工配對平台】一分鐘內了解Time Auction 係咩嚟
咁多個香港義工配對平台之中,你有冇聽過Time Auction 呢?以下係關於Time Auction 嘅常見問題,俾你可以一分鐘內了解Time Auction 係咩嚟: (一)Time Auction係咩嚟? Time Auction 係一個香港義工配對平台,中文譯名係「時間拍賣」,顧名思義,義工喺平台上面參加義工活動後,可以用自己嘅義工時數(Volunteer hour)兌換獎勵。 (二)Time Auction同一般義工配對平台有咩分別? Time Auction 平台上面嘅義工服務以技能義工(Skilled-volunteers)服務為主。技能義工會運用個人技能同專長,為非牟利組織(NGO)提供專業嘅義工服務。呢類義工服務好多都可以遠程(Remote working)完成,義工可以靈活安排自己嘅工作時間同工作地點,換取義工時數。 (三)賺義工時數有啲咩好處? 喺Time Auction上面,累積一定義工時數後可以兌換不同種類嘅獎賞。義工可以選擇同社會各界嘅專業人士會面或飯聚,交流工作經驗同人生價值,從佢地身上學習成功嘅秘訣;Time Auction亦會定期更新唔同嘅文化或健康相關嘅體驗活動,義工可以參加自己感興趣嘅活動,增值自己。 以往Time Auction曾邀請前財政司司長曾俊華、歌手鄭秀文等社會名人出席義工聚餐;亦曾經舉辦過抽獎,俾義工用義工時數抽韓國人氣女團Blackpink嘅演唱會飛,獎賞種類非常多元。 【探索獎賞】 (四)點解會成立Time Auction? Time Auction 喺2014年成立,2017年註冊成為慈善機構。創辦人發現香港人做義工嘅比例低於其他國際城市,於是萌生用義工時數換獎賞嘅諗法,希望鼓勵更多香港市民用空餘時間做義工,令NGO得到自己需要嘅技能支援嘅同時,義工又可以兌換自己想要嘅活動獎勵,達致雙嬴局面。 (五)Time Auction上面有咩義工活動? Time Auction 上面70%嘅義工專案係線上或遙距可以完成。義工種類涵蓋辦公室技能支援(如平面設計、文案寫作)、現場活動技能支援(如活動攝影、活動協調員)、專業建議和諮詢(如商業諮詢、法律意見諮詢)等。 (六)點樣搵義工服務? 喺Time Auction平台上,義工可以選擇服務範疇、擅長技能、服務所需時數等篩選條件,搜尋到最符合專長嘅義工服務。 如果唔想自己搜尋咁麻煩,Time Auction 定期有電郵(Email)通知義工最新嘅義工招募項目,義工可以根據分類一次過瀏覽同自己專業技能(Professions)相關嘅項目。義工亦可以瀏覽Time Auction 嘅Instagram同LinkedIn帳戶了解每星期精選嘅義工招募項目。 【探索義工機會】 (七)點樣註冊成為Time Auction 義工? Time Auction嘅義工註冊步驟非常簡單,新用戶只要喺Time Auction 網頁用Facebook、LinkedIn或電郵地址就可以註冊,註冊後即時可以喺每星期100+項義工服務中搵最啱你心水嘅服務去申請! 【立即申請】
Community Spotlight: Jasy Chan, Commercial Banker
Curious about what volunteerism and Time Auction events are all about? Meet our community who has shared their memorable experiences in their volunteering journey and meetings with our featured guests! Meet Jasy Chan! Jasy works in the commercial banking industry and started volunteering at a young age, flag-selling and taking care of stray animals. At […]
Top