Dennis Ng has made positive influences to many lives. On 26 Jul 12, he passed away at the age of 43.
There will be many stories shared by others, but I will just share mine; how our lives intertwined for the past 4 years and the lessons I learned from him.
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Year 2008. I got to know Dennis through his housingloansg.com forum (prequel of masteryourfinance.com forum). His insights about personal finance and investment were so intriguing and convincing. I told myself I got to meet this guy. There are many answers that I might be able to get from him. I emailed him but he did not reply. I sent a second mail and to my surprise, he replied and agreed to meet. It was during the meetup that he told me the second email made the difference – many people had requested to meet him but most of them stopped short after the first email. And this leads me to:
Lesson #1 – Perseverance is necessary to achieve the things you want
I wrote about the meeting in this post: Meeting with a millionaire (and a Christmas gift).
In the first meeting, he talked about many things. But the many things eventually led to one thing – finding one’s passion. This had been the most consistent mantra being emphasised over the past few years since I known him. He had always asked me whether I have found my passion and every time I showed the clueless face, he asked me not to give up. He said it took time for one to find it. “Look within” was his advice. Below is an extract of the email from him in 20 Jan 09:
What do you feel passionate about?
Have you ever had the experience of enjoying doing something so much that you’re so engrossed that time passes quickly and you even forget about hunger?
If I ask you is there anything you feel such a strong commitment that you’re willing to DIE for it? What is it?
Is there something that you will continue doing despite others time and again to shoot you down?
Probably getting the answers from deep within you to these questions will help you in your search for your Passion and Purpose in life.
He left a good paying bank job to become a financial planner in 2000. He did it for a few years and went to start his mortgage broking business with his wife in 2003. It was a relatively a new concept and he had difficulties in the beginning. But he persevered by educating the public about this service and he began to see results in the form of steady income every year. Below is an extract of his forum posting on 4 Nov 2007:
By setting up Leverage Holdings Pte Ltd, I feel that I can leverage on my gift and experience in Finance to help people move financially ahead and help people to save both time and money.
For example, if you are currently servicing a loan that charges an interest rate of 4%, I am quite confident that I can help you save $5,000 to $10,000 through refinancing. Based on local statistics, with Singaporeans making an average of $4,000, a savings of $5,000 will definitely help to move a person financially ahead, without him having to work overtime, or taking up more jobs.
It is precisely of this “magic” in refinancing that made me embark on this business.
In my business, I make money by helping people save money, move ahead, expand their business or increase their wealth. The more people I help, the more money I make. People literally get richer after they walk out of my office.
One thing I learned from the second richest man in the world, Warren Buffet is this: “Choose something you love to do and you will never have to work a single day in your life.” To know if something is your passion, ask yourself if you will do it if you are not paid? If you said yes, it is most probably a passion for you. I’m enjoying myself each day doing what I enjoy doing. Thus, sometimes I tell people I have not worked a single day since I resigned from bank 7 years ago.
Majority of us do not know what we live for. What are our passions? Dennis definitely found his passion in life, that is through the teachings of financial literacy, encourages people to pursue their dreams and do good for the less fortunate. He did not need to work anymore but he continued to because he felt obliged to give back to the society. He always shared the story of seeing old folks cleaning up tables at hawker centre and how that scene broke his heart. He feared many Singaporeans would end up that state in the future if they had not managed their finances properly.
Many times, his wife has requested him to quit teaching but in vain. I am not sure if he had worked so hard that he got himself ill. He connected with hundreds to thousands of people daily through seminars, forums, facebook, email, twitter, newspaper, radio and TV; all for the purpose of spreading financial literacy. Although he had a short life, he really lived it, because everyday was meaningful to him.
Lesson #2 – Find your passion and live it
He started to conduct investment seminars after he became a millionaire through investing. With a few businesses giving him good income, he could really retire. But he was determined to help 1 million people accumulate $1 million. On 2 Mar 11, he posted the following in the forum:
Helping 1 million people achieve S$1 million dollars, it might seem far-fetched goal for some, but I think it can be done, it’s just 10,000 of us helping 100 people each.
I suddenly think of these words of wisdom:
If it is to be, it is up to me.
Let’s not wait for someone to help, for someone to make a difference, let’s take it upon ourselves, that we will do our part. If it is to be, it is up to me.
The good news is I’m NOT Extraordinary Man or “Men Extraordinaire”, I’m just an average Singaporean. “If Yan can cook, so can you!” If Dennis Ng can become a Millionaire and Reach Financial Freedom, so can you!
He might appear to be an investing guru but many do not know that his ultimate aim is to influence people to do good things. He had a goal, he wanted 10,000 seminar graduates to each donate $1,000, amounting to a total of $10 million. He knew it would be very difficult to raise $10 million alone and he had to depend on the graduates to realise it. He wanted the foundation to do micro lending to the poor, help them start small and simple businesses that could provide for their livelihood. Besides money, he also wanted to impart his business knowledge.
During our first meetup, he showed me the book, The Go-Giver, which he intended to give to each of his staff. He said that most people are goal-getters and that is a self-centric approach to life. He always encouraged people to do good and believed that the world will be a better place when we start to focus on others rather than ourselves. In fact, he said that the weird thing is the more you give, the more you will receive. But he cautioned, give willingly and not in anticipation of a return.
He gave a lot to me. He said I reminded him of his youth – a young and driven guy, eager to learn about investing. He often said he learned from many people in the past and he felt obliged to pass on the knowledge. Even when he was against trading, he was willing to promote my book, Secrets of Singapore Trading Gurus. He really wanted me to succeed in life, and he seemed to have a stronger conviction than myself. He was my Rich Dad. And the biggest gratitude I can give to him, is to find my passion and prove that he is right about me.
Lesson #3 – Focus on giving
Dennis was notorious for his ‘in your face’ comments. Many would have found him brash and got turned off by his approach. He always shared that it did not matter what others think about him. He was not here to ‘curry favour’ anyone. He wants to be an honest and direct person, and hiding the truth from the person do him no good. His intention was to help the person and not make him feel good. Of course, most people would find it critical instead. Probably only a handful of his graduates could tolerate his directness. In fact, a few graduates deserted him because they found him too critical. I also know that he had bad relations with some of the ex-Wall Straits forumers. However, it was heartening to see that they all have forgiven him. Whether you agree with his comments, he meant good from his perspective.
Lesson #4 – Do not be too self-conscious and try to be well-liked; help others even if it means telling them the hard truth
There are really too many things I have learned from Dennis and it is almost impossible to list everything in this post. They range from success principles to investing. He is definitely one of the most influential people in my life. Sadly, he passed away all of a sudden. How I wish I could have many more years with him and tap on his wisdom. But life is uncertain, we have to live each day with meaning, despite the challenges thrown at us.
He mentioned he did not want people to weep for him but make his funeral a celebration. Although there were many goals he had yet to achieve, he had already left behind a legacy. He will be remembered.
For more of his teachings and condolences: