Your 10 Questions



I was featured in the Star newspaper on Sat 2 May. Thought you'd like to read it so the following is the interview.

Saturday May 2, 2009
Your 10 questions

What inspired you to write books and share your knowledge and experience?
~ Noor Farah Hanim Mohd Suffian, Kuala Lumpur

I love to write, and have been writing since I was in primary school. When I decided to become an author, the obvious subject was something that I was equally good at – money. And so I wrote Millionaires are from a different planet. It was a total blast.

I’m touched to hear that my books have changed lives. My life changed because of a book I read. So, being able to improve other people’s lives with my books really warms my heart.

Has writing 30 books on personal finance made you rich?
~ Bulbir Singh, Seremban

I hope you don't take this the wrong way but I was already a millionaire before I wrote my first book. But yes, writing the books did add to my net worth, which you have to admit is a pretty good reason to continue doing it! Now that you know this, why don't you write a book, Bulbir?

What is the one thing that most often stands in the way of somebody becoming a millionaire?
~ Teck Lee, Shah Alam

Many things stand in the way – lack of knowledge or desire, unwillingness to work hard or learn and an inclination to give up too easily, among others.

The wonderful thing is that all of the obstacles can be overcome. You can do anything you want and you can achieve anything you want. In case you have not realised it yet, there is no bumi quota when it comes to money. It is not easy to become a millionaire but it is not as hard as you think. Do the right things and the money will come.

You focus a lot on investing in properties. How have you done in other types of investments?
~ R.S. Kumar, Banting

I have some investments in stocks that are being handled by a fund manager. He has fared pretty well in the past four years, especially when you consider that the market has dived in recent months.

I used to have some money in unit trusts but I sold all of them a couple of years ago. I was dismayed at the high fees charged by the unit trust companies and see no reason why I should be paying such high fees to get mediocre returns. The only money I have in unit trusts now are in the Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB)-run funds. I do not invest in futures, options, foreign exchange, gold, silver, commodities or anything that has the word “offshore” in it. I do not invest in them because I want to become rich, not poor.

Are your children good with money too?
~ Karen Toh, Malacca

My wife and I do guide them about it. They are learning and getting better at it every single day. I’m sure they’ll do very well in the future.

Why is it important for you to continue your career as a pilot?
~ Azman Fuad, Bandar Utama

I fly because I love to fly. Unlike many other jobs, flying is very fulfilling. I still get a buzz in my stomach every time I step into the cockpit and the adrenaline still flows every time I take-off and land. And when we arrive at the destination, I get another buzz because I did it to the best of my ability – bringing the aircraft, passengers, crew and cargo safely to the destination on schedule and at optimum cost. I only do the things that I love to do – write, speak, fly and spend time with my family. Life is too short to spend on things you do not enjoy.

If you can give just one piece of advice on money, what would that be?
~ Jimmie Leow, Petaling Jaya

Do what you love, and the money will follow. Let me elaborate. Don’t go on a blind pursuit of money. Even if you do make money – and some people do – you will not be very happy or live a fulfilling life.

Instead, build your business around your passion, something that you actually love. That way, you can be happy and make money at the same time. And chances are you will make lots of money because your products and services will be of exceptional quality.

I suppose I could make money running a restaurant, a workshop or a boutique. But am I interested in any of them? The answer is a flat no. My passion is books. I can think of nothing better than spending hours writing and reading. So I built my ‘business’ around my love of books.

What sort of luxuries have you allowed yourself?
~ Tina Adam

Not much. All I need is a good breakfast, a good book to read, a computer to write and time with my family. I have all that already.

My family lives in a nice house in a fabulous neighbourhood. We have a few items to make our lives more comfortable but nothing out of the ordinary. I think, the average Malaysian has more toys than me. As I wrote in one of my books, visitors often comment that my house is spacious. My house is spacious not because it is big but because it is sparsely decorated. I call it minimalist decor. We still have only one TV in the house and a 10-year-old mini-compo. I don’t have any branded goods and see no use for them.

I spend money on quality (not branded) goods. For example, my mattress costs some RM20,000. If you’re going to spend a major portion of your life (eight to ten hours a day) on a mattress, the only sensible thing to do is to buy the best mattress you can afford.

You are also a publisher. What kind of books do you like to come out with?
~ Sheela Nair, Segambut

My wife and her team run the publishing business. I basically write and speak (and fly). True Wealth publishes mostly self-help genre. Most of the books are related to money, business and personal finance. We publish both in English and Bahasa Malaysia and we have also bought the rights to a few books from overseas.

I like to read books that are clear and straight-forward. So, I always tell our authors to do the same and to write in a conversational manner that’s easy to understand. As publishers, we try to make the books an adventure for the mind – the content, the layout, charts, graphs, etc. The market seems to like what we do because we have sold hundreds of thousands of books despite being a newcomer.

Do you think it’s possible to become wealthy and not be changed by all that money?
~ Lim Lai Wah, Kuantan

I read some time ago that money amplifies what you already are. If you are nasty when you have little money, you will become nastier when you have a lot of money. If you are a good human being when your pockets are empty, you will become even better when you have a lot of money. And I have found out this to be very true.

Practically all the millionaires that I’ve met are so eager and happy to help others. I myself have received help (advice) from many millionaires. Maybe that’s one reason why they are so rich.

I have changed significantly. The name and the face are the same, but I am not the same Azizi Ali of 20 years ago. It is not the money that changed me but the process to get to where I am today that has led to the change. I had to improve myself on many fronts – knowledge, skill, time and people management and obviously develop the ability to make money. Next, I had to discipline and dedicate myself to my quest; I had to stop partying and start working hard; I had to continue my learning and, very importantly, develop the ability to bounce back because I knew I will face many failures on the road to success. How can one not become a different person after all that?

I do remember the little boy playing in the paddy fields behind the house of his grandmother with a fond heart but my life today is an even better dream. I have everything a man could dream for – happiness, good health, inner peace, a stunning and loving wife, beautiful bright children, a wonderful career, books on the bestsellers’ list and, very importantly, I’m helping others make their dream come true.

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