This is part III of the Successful Interview Series
Today I have a very interesting guest here at the Successful Interview Series and that is the beautiful and successful Ms. Merry Riana :).
Merry has achieved her first million by the age of 26, just 4 years after graduating from university and her success and accolades were featured in the Straits Times in 2007.
She broke many industry records and has won many awards for her achievements and contributions:
- Conferred the Nanyang Outstanding Young Alumni Award in December 2006.
- Awarded the Spirit of Enterprise Award in 2008 and being recognized as one of Singapore’s most successful and prominent business leaders.
- Founder of the Merry Riana Organization (MRO) with a staff of more than 60 talented and young people.
- One of the most sought after corporate speakers and trainers in Asia. For the past 5 years, Merry has trained and motivated over 50,000 people ranging from executives to entrepreneurs. The topics she covers are very diverse: Entrepreneurship, Strategic Marketing and Sales, Presentation and Communication Skills, Financial Planning, Neuro Linguistic Programming and Motivation.
- A best-selling author and writer of ” A Gift From a Friend”, “Mimpi Sejuta Dolar” (Million Dollar Dream) and Merry is also a magazine and online columnist
- Recognized as a top personal finance expert by her numerous clients and workshop/seminar participants.
- Featured in many magazines, radio and TV.
- Involved in a lot of charity initiatives dedicated to educating the youth. Merry is a strong supporter of the value of education, and she has committed herself to be a living example of someone who has achieved success despite encountering challenges in the early days of her career.
1. Could you share with us a bit about your background and the businesses that you are running?
Actually I never had the intention to become an entrepreneur.
I come from an average middle-class family from Jakarta, Indonesia.
I am the eldest of three children.
My parents worked hard to provide us with a good life.
My father owned a small engineering business while my mother is a very loving and caring housewife who took care of us.
In 1998, there were a lot of unrests in Indonesia and anti-Chinese riots were breaking out in many places.
Concerned for my safety, my parents sent me to Singapore and gave me $1,000 for my living expenses.
When I got here, I enrolled in the Nanyang Technological University (NTU).
So as to lighten the load on my parents, I took up a DBS study loan as well as a tuition-fee loan to help me with my living expenses.
The main reason I decided to go into the seminar and motivation business is because of my passion to help other people to achieve their success.
Based on my own experience I know that there are other people who are probably going through what I went through.
They want to achieve success, provide better lives for themselves, their parents and their families but they don’t know how to do that yet.
Sadly, without guidance and mentorship, a lot of them will probably just give up on their dreams because they don’t know how to achieve it or think that it is not possible for them.
I want to use my story to touch them and show them what is possible and also to groom them into leaders.
2. Merry, you have been very successful in all areas in life: could you share what your own view is of success and excellence? What is the true definition of success?
I am certainly not saying that my life is what success is all about.
Obviously, we all have different dreams and ideas of what we want to create for our lives.
In addition, I am very clear that who you know, where you go and what you own are not true measures of personal success.
The meaning of success holds different meanings to different people.
To me, success is the ongoing process of striving to become better, to achieve more.
It is the opportunity to continually grow emotionally, socially, spiritually, physiologically, intellectually, and financially while contributing positively to others.
3. What are the key character traits of successful people and what tips and insights do you have for people who want to achieve financial independence and success early on in life?
I have one golden rule in business: Integrity.
Whatever the cost, regardless of any implications or consequences, I believe I must uphold this rule without question.
Without integrity, I believe there will be no firm foundation for my accomplishments.
I can build my business to be as big and strong as I possibly can, but the moment I compromise on my integrity, the whole thing may just crumble down overnight.
4. What do you think is the most important step that one should do to move forward to their “success” goals?
I believe that one of the most important and critical characteristic that an entrepreneur must have is the willingness to continuously learn.
I think it is better to learn from other peoples’ experiences than to take lessons from the school of hard knocks.
In fact, now I always look up to and learn from successful role models who have accomplished their goals.
To succeed, we need to learn the best practices from the winners as well as their mistakes, so that we will not commit the same ones they did.
5. You mention on your blog that you originally study engineering. What was your driving force to choose a totally different career path, namely the financial services industry?
While I was in University I started to think about my life more seriously.
I saw how my parents needed to work hard even though they were already in their 50s, just so they could provide for their children’s education and save up for their retirement.
That prompted me to want to achieve success early in my life.
I wanted to give them a better life.
I wanted my parents to enjoy great food, travel to exotic countries and live life fully.
Seeing as I was already 21 at that time and my parents were in their 50s, I thought that if I only achieved success in my 40s or 50s, my parents would be too old by then.
I might not have much quality time to spend with them.
And they might be restricted by their health and their old age to enjoy all the things that I wanted to provide for them.
While I might have the time, on a personal level, to achieve success later in life; but the question is, can they?
So it was important for me to achieve success while I am still young.
It wasn’t so much about me, but for my parents.
Therefore, I made a resolution to achieve success before I reached the age of 30.
That gave me a specific deadline of about 10 years to achieve my goal.
6. What were the obstacles you were facing in the beginning of your career and how did you overcome them?
Interestingly, my early success can sometimes create some doubt in people’s minds.
As I am doing more trainings and talks, I come across people who expect me to be older.
I guess there is the common expectation that a motivational speaker should be older, more mature and more seasoned.
And when they hear that I’m not even 30 years old (at that time), they would have doubts about my ability. This is where my proven track record played a critical role.
I would show them that while I’m indeed young, I’ve achieved my success early.
On top of achieving my first million at a young age from my sales business, I have also built up a strong and impressive portfolio of corporate clients for my seminar and motivation business.
7. How did you manage to broke the industry record, beating experienced advisors and got featured in the media for your achievements?
My friends thought I was crazy when I told them about my thoughts of becoming an entrepreneur immediately after graduation.
Some of those who were not close to me even thought that I was forced to become an entrepreneur because I couldn’t secure a proper job.
While those closer to me knew that I chose this path because of my goals, they were also skeptical and tried to discourage me.
My teachers, tutors and lecturers also thought that it was a bad idea to go into business based on sales upon graduation.
Of course going into sales would give me less stability in terms of my monthly income.
There was also no guarantee that I would be successful.
All of them advised me to pursue a more stable career in the engineering field instead.
These opinions didn’t really bother me or deter me in my determination to do sales.
After all, it is my life, and I am free to live it the way I want.
By the third month after I started the business I was already making more than the salaries my peers were earning as a fresh graduate.
So I saw the potential of the business and I focused all of my efforts in it.
As I said, my biggest assets were my energy, time and willingness to work hard.
So that was what I did.
I was working 14 hours a day, seven days a week.
If you calculate mathematically, I was doing three years of work in just one year. As a result, I broke many records and won many awards in the industry.
In my first year I earned over $200,000.
I paid my student loan in one lump sum of $40,000, in cash. That felt really great!
And in just four years, I earned my first million dollars.
8. What is your advice for young women and men who want to achieve financial independence early in life?
My passion is to help people achieve their personal dreams and goals and I feel fulfilled that this has become my business today.
When people ask me how I have managed to come this far from the desperate state that I was in after I graduated from University, I tell them about my personal, ultimate success formula: Vision—Action—Passion.
Essentially, it is a three-step process that starts with having a Vision, which is to know what your goals are.
Next, you will have to commit to taking massive Action that will bring you closer to that Vision.
Finally, you must have the Passion to enjoy the entire process in spite of all the obstacles and failures that come your way.
Going through these three steps have enabled me to achieve my dreams and the success that I have worked hard for.
9. How did you balance your busy professional life with your family? You have two beautiful kids and a husband to take care of 🙂 so you must be very busy.
The key to work/life balance is time management and the key to time management is prioritization.
You need to know what is important and valuable in your life.
10. What is your long term plan for MRO?
In October 2011, I launched my biography book ‘Mimpi Sejuta Dolar’ (Million Dollar Dream) which has successfully become the National Best-Seller within less than 1 year and has been read by hundreds of thousands of people in Indonesia ever since.
Continuing the phenomenal success of the book ‘Mimpi Sejuta Dolar’(Million Dollar Dream), my true story will be produced into a movie by MD Pictures, the No.1 film producer in Indonesia, which previously has produced ‘Habibie & Ainun’ and ‘Ayat-ayat Cinta’.
Merry Riana The Movie is planned to be shown in the cinemas throughout Indonesia this year.
Starting January this year, I have also started a new program ‘The Merry Riana Show’ that is broadcasted by Radio Sonora, the largest radio network in Indonesia.
It has millions of listeners which are spread throughout more than 20 cities in Indonesia
‘The Merry Riana Show’ is a live talk-show that features extraordinary guest stars who will share their inspirational true stories, give motivational advice, and answer listeners’ questions about happiness, success, family, relationship, health, and contribution to society.
Through social media, I also aim to regularly inspire my millions of followers and friends on Twitter (@MerryRiana) and Facebook (InspirationByMerryRiana).
11. Any projects you are working on in 2013?
I feel very grateful because I’m able to make my dream into reality by being a motivator and a talkshow host.
Although I haven’t hosted my own TV Show that can reach out to millions of viewers, but at least through my books, seminars, and radio show, I have managed to create a positive impact in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
If one day I can host my own TV Show, especially the one that is very inspiring and successful in contributing positively to society, than it will really be a blessing from God for me.
Today, this is my million-dollar dream.
Important Note From Merry:
I really appreciate ProsperityToDoList.com for publishing an article about me.
So, I would like to give my book ‘Dare to Dream Big’, free-of-charge, to all visitors of ProsperityToDoList.com
Simply visit MerryRiana.com and get your free copy 🙂
J: Thank you Merry for this awesome interview 🙂 and offering a FREE E-book to my beloved readers!
My take away lessons from Merry:
1. Be adaptable.
I can very much relate to Merry’s background: I came to Canada by myself to study at the University of Toronto.
Except for my aunt, I knew nobody here in Toronto and the first year was tough as I was adjusting to the culture, the language (English is my third language), and the weather!
I came from the Tropics so seeing snow for the first time was exciting but it was overwhelming dealing with the cold.
All these experiences has shaped my strong independence and the ability to think for myself.
2. Always have a vision and dream in mind:
No matter the circumstances, if you are committed to your vision or the Why question, the How will take care of itself.
But having a dream and vision is not enough: you need to take action or nothing will happen. So as Merry said: focus on your Vision-Action-Passion.
3. There is no substitute for hard work and learning from the best.
If you want to be the best in your field, you need to invest your 10,000 hours of work as Merry has done.
She has worked very hard and her dedication and persistence has translated in Merry becoming a self made millionaire by the age of 26.
Read it in PDF
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Check out Merry’s interview with Canon Think Big: