Warren Buffett once said, I may have more money than you, but money doesn’t make the difference. If there’s any difference between you and me, it may simply be that I get up every day and have a chance to do what I love to do every day.  If you learn anything from me, this is the best advice I can give you.

Roger Hamilton is Asia’s leading wealth consultant. He conducts private coaching sessions for successful entrepreneurs across Asia, teaching them their personal path of least resistance to creating wealth and doing what they love. He’s also the author of the international bestseller, Wink and Grow Rich, and the creator of the Wealth Dynamics Profiling system 

Born in Hong Kong and educated at Cambridge University, Roger became an entrepreneur soon after getting his degree, experiencing many failures before achieving success. He now owns and runs businesses in publishing, property, event
management, training and franchising. He’s also the chairman and co-founder of XL Results Foundation.

XL Results is the largest entrepreneur network in Asia Pacific and publisher of XL Magazine, the world’s first magazine dedicated to social enterprise. XL Results Foundation also manages Asia Pacific’s largest online business network and
directory, connecting Asia Pacific with over one million entrepreneurs and business professionals worldwide with access to over 200 networking events in 150 countries every month.

XL Results Foundation and Roger’s seminar series are driven by the concept of World Wide Wealth, empowering social enterprise and global change by increasing our collective ability to create and contribute wealth. Roger believes that we learn
from our mistakes, and he has made a lot of them. He has a made and lost millions on numerous occasions.

In fact, he calculates that he lost over $130 million in mistakes in the first 10 years of his entrepreneurial career. He views this education as being a lot more valuable and expensive than his university education, and he’s now reaping the rewards from it. He became a self-made millionaire in his late 20s and achieved financial freedom by the age of 30.

He’s lived in the UK, the US, and he moved to Singapore to launch his first Asian business during the 1997 Asian Crisis. He now specializes in building new businesses in Asia as a serial entrepreneur.

ROGER HAMILTON:  Hi, Janet. It’s good to be here.

JANET ATTWOOD:  I know, it is great. Thank you. Let’s proceed onward. Are you ready?

ROGER HAMILTON:  Yes, absolutely.

JANET ATTWOOD:  Roger, how did your passions, the things that are most important to you, lead you to the work that you do today?

ROGER HAMILTON: Very interesting. Everything that you and Chris talk about in terms of passions is so right. It’s really only when you start really focusing on the things that you’re passionate about that you can actually, and I found this in my life, get out of the bed every morning, jump up and find out it’s really not about the money at all. That, of course, makes it a whole lot easier to go out and create wealth.

That happened for me pretty much from the word ‘go’ when I was about 16 or 17 years old and when I went to Cambridge. That’s pretty much where I started my first business.  

JANET ATTWOOD:  Give me a little bit more from that. At 16 or 17 years old, what did you do?  

ROGER HAMILTON: It’s kind of interesting because I was taught, and I wasn’t alone in this, that you really should go and get a degree, go out and get a respectable job. I used to love building things. I love creating. When I was younger, when we were on the beach in Papua New Guinea where I was brought up, I used to go out building sand castles all the time and so on, so I thought, I’ll go out and do the respectable thing, and I’ll get a degree in architecture.

That’s what I thought I should do. When I got to Cambridge I also found that I was very passionate in sports. In Cambridge everyone rows so I became a rower, and then I found myself with a real challenge. This would be in my first year. On the one hand, I had my Director of Studies saying, You’re going to have to fill up your portfolio because you really haven’t put enough work into it, and that was because I was rowing so much.

At the same time, my rowing coach was saying, You really have to come along for the rowing camp, which is happening in July. Then I had my friends who were saying, Look, Roger, you’ve got to go out and get a job so you can earn some money so we can go off to Greece on holiday. It’s a typical thing that you get at that age where you’re thinking, Do I go with my passions of doing the rowing and stuff or doing my duty, which is fulfilling what I’m supposed to do here and
getting my degree?

I did something that I learned from a mentor of mine who said, Whenever you have problems, the best thing to do is turn the problem into a question. Even better, take all your problems all together and put them into one long question. I did that. I said Okay, here I’ve got three things. I want to do rowing camp. I want to go to Greece and earn money before I go. I want to fill up my portfolio.

The question is how can I fill up my portfolio in a way that allows me to go to rowing camp at the same time as earning money, which allows me to go to Greece? It was actually quite interesting. As soon as I asked the question, it was really obvious what I could do because I was right there in Cambridge and I was an architecture student.

The very next day I went out and started drawing some drawings of King’s College Chapel, Trinity College Chapel. I went and got them photocopied, put them into freezer bags so they looked really professional, and was out on the fourth day already
selling them and saying, Genuine architecture student, one picture for £3,
three for £5, and I was earning money through the week.

I actually earned enough from one week of doing that in the tourist season as a lot of my friends were earning in about a month, or that I would have earned in a month going out and getting a job in London. I actually managed, as a result of that, to do all the things I wanted to do. That was the first time I was actually earning money from my passion 

More importantly, I found that it was one of the most exhilarating experiences realizing that you could actually have a wonderful time sorting out all issues if focused in the right way and, at the same time, be able to earn money from it
as well.

JANET ATTWOOD:  How fun is that? Let me ask you something. When you were putting together all these pictures, was that also fun? All the drawings in the freezer bags?  

ROGER HAMILTON:  It was brilliant. That was one of the most interesting things. It’s funny I should be speaking to you now with you in America and me here in London, because I’m flying out there tomorrow morning. It was actually an American who gave me a huge learning. What happened was, as we all do in life as well, I got to a limit within the first couple of days where I found out no matter what time in the morning I started or what time in the evening I finished, I’d make somewhere like £100 for a day’s work out there drawing.

I usually came back with a drawing, so I feel I really accomplished something as well. I really loved doing it, meeting people along the way and so on. What was really interesting was that, I think it was on about the fourth or fifth day of doing this, and I still remember it because I talk a lot about critical moments, that no matter how hard you work at your business, some luck will happen or something will happen that will be a chance thing you never even thought of.

All of a sudden, it will just double everything again. I still remember I was there. I’d started drawing at maybe 9:00 or 10:00 in the morning, and it was about 11:00 AM. An American tourist came by. Very few tourists are out at that time. He came by, and he looked and he saw me drawing. He said, I really like the drawing you’re drawing there. Can I buy it? I’m there and I’m saying, No, it’s not finished yet. He said, That’s okay. I’ll buy it unfinished.

I’m there in my head thinking, Wait a minute. This drawing is too valuable to me because this drawing, once I’ve drawn it, I could sell so many. Why would I sell the original? I’m there thinking, Gosh, should I sell it or not? Then he says to me, Listen, just name any price. I’m there thinking about that, and I’m thinking, I know that in a day I’d make £100, so if I could sell it to him for
£100 now, I’d have the rest of the day off.

I thought, That sounds quite good, so I said to him, £100. Then he said, Done. He said, But I want you to sign it, so I signed it. He said, I want you to write on it ‘Unfinished Original,’ so I wrote ‘Unfinished Original.’ I gave it to him and he walked off. As happens sometimes when we do well in our business and so on, we’re suddenly at a loss. I was there and I was thinking, Wow, it’s 11:00 in the morning, and I’m here with the whole day ahead of me. What should I do?

I thought about it for a minute, and I thought, Actually, I could do the same drawing again, so I did the same drawing again. I was there for the rest of the day, and I made another £100 on top, and so I doubled my income for the day. It was hilarious. The day after I got out again and thought, Maybe I’ll hit it lucky again, and maybe by 11:00 someone like him will come by again, and he’ll want to buy it. Then 11:00 AM came and no one came, and I thought about that for a moment.

I thought, Wait a minute. I can create the luck myself. I actually stopped the drawing I was doing, I signed it, I put ‘Unfinished Original,’ and I put it up next to my other drawings. Then I started drawing the same thing again. Sure enough, it sold by about 3:00 in the afternoon. It just really taught me that when you’re having fun doing what you’re doing, and when you let luck happen, then the most amazing things will start showing up, which will teach you things about your business you can never figure out in any textbook or no matter how hard you work at the business.

JANET ATTWOOD:  That’s stayed with you, hasn’t it? Up to this day, all of these things that you’ve learned were these critical, defining moments for you at this early age of 16, 17 years old. How fun is that?

ROGER HAMILTON: Arial> The other thing is it’s very easy to have fun doing it and then get carried away with it. As a result, you end up with huge failures as well as huge gains. As someone somewhere said, True wealth is not how to make the money;
it’s how to keep it. Yes, I had a lot of learning, but some of it was very painful along the way as well.

JANET ATTWOOD:  In your work, you talk about creating wealth by following your natural tendencies, and this was a real natural-tendency experience. This sounds a lot like the way Chris and I talk about following one’s passion. What is the relationship between passion and wealth to you?

ROGER HAMILTON:  Yes, I love the way that Chris and you talk about it, and the way you bring it into all parts of your life. I focus very much around wealth in terms of entrepreneurship. Even so, I still broaden it out and define wealth as not how much money you have, but what you’re left if you lose all your money, which has a large part to do with your passion.

In fact, we’ve got seven internal values we talk about; passion is the primary first one and then purpose is the primary final one. You’ve actually got the spectrum that starts with passion, which really kicks you off, then ends with purpose, which leaves your legacy. What’s really interesting is when you follow your passion in the right way, it’s exactly as you said with Warren Buffett with his quote.

There are very few billionaires you’re going to find who say what they do feels like hard work or else they would have retired by now, but they’re still doing it. What’s really fascinating is that when we put that into a model, which I’ve done with this thing called Wealth Dynamics, you can see how your passion on the one hand leads you to your win formula, but it also leads to your losing formula as well.

It’s understanding exactly how to find the right role models who are passionate about the same things as you, and understanding that passion is more than about simply a vocation or a particular area of interest like health or a particular country like America. In fact, it actually goes to the core of who you are. When you really, truly resonate with that core, it allows you to attract all the right
people around you who are going to allow you to support yourself so you can spend your entire life doing what it is you love to do, but doing it in a profitable way.

JANET ATTWOOD:  I want to ask you something along this line. You said passion leaves you with a winning formula and it also leaves you with a losing formula, as well. Can you speak a little bit more on that?

ROGER HAMILTON:   I’ll give you an example, and the easiest way is within the framework that we work with all the entrepreneurs here in Asia Pacific. We work within a frame of Wealth Dynamics where we talk about eight different profiles, each of them that have a core resonance within it. Let’s take me, for example. In the early days I understood that I was very passionate about creating things.

I always had my head in the clouds. I was very good at innovating. In fact, it’s what I love to do, but in the same way that I was very good at starting things, I was terrible at finishing anything. That was where my passion led me. If I had a chance to start something new, I would get so excited about it. I’d go running around telling everyone about this great thing I was going to do.

Because I wasn’t finishing things in the right way, it would often come back to bite me. What I started to do was think, Oh, gosh. If I’m going to be a really successful entrepreneur, I’d better be a bit more responsible about these things I’m creating. Before I get creating on the next thing, I better work on what I’m doing here, run the business, do the accounts, and do all the detail.

I’d just get right out of my flow, and then everything that was working great would end up not working so great. Then I’d try to recreate myself out of it again. As a result of that, I would end up imploding two or three years into the business. This happened again and again and again, until you look at someone like Richard Branson who had the same thing. He just loved starting things up.

He’s always talking about the next thing he’s doing. He’s always in the news for that, but he doesn’t run any of his businesses. Other people do. He says, Because I know that my passion has a win formula, which is all the creativity side, I’m going to do that 100%. Everything that is my losing formula, which is all the detail side and all the backend side, I’ll have other people who will come on board do that, and that’s what they love to do.

With Warren Buffett, for example, that’s what he loves to do. He doesn’t go out and create anything. He doesn’t have to. Other people can do that. His passion is really just analyzing what’s going on and where he can add the most value. Then doing it, and getting great returns as a result.

JANET ATTWOOD:  What I’m hearing you say is the losing formula is what you don’t do well and what you hand off.

ROGER HAMILTON:  Yes, if you’re doing anything to make money that feels like hard work, you’re already doing the wrong thing, and that’s kind of a weird thing. At school and at university, you’re kind of taught that if feels like hard work it’s probably the right thing. In fact, if you’re having too much fun, you’re probably doing the wrong thing.

What’s really interesting is, when you actually notice the people who you’ve met who are really successful, they just seem to love what they do. That’s not because they happen to love things more than other people love things. It’s just that they become very, very disciplined about what they’re going to say no to. A lot of us, it’s kind of interesting, we think that success is what we say yes to,
but, of course, it’s not.

It’s because of what we say no to. A lot of us are already saying yes to all the stuff we love. We’re also not saying yes enough to the stuff we really don’t love, the stuff that feels like hard work. We somehow feel we should be doing it because somewhere along the line we got the idea that we have to try to figure it all out for ourselves.

JANET ATTWOOD:  This is fabulous. I really love this whole winning formula and losing formula. I can see, even in my own life, where it’s a constant going back to this, Okay, what do I love? What am I doing? What is in that picture that I don’t love? For
everyone, it’s just such a great reminder. Thank you.

ROGER HAMILTON:  It’s also wonderful when you actually realize that for any one thing that one of us feels is hard work, there’s someone else out there who just loves that. If they could see that they could just do that fulltime themselves, as well, and pass on the things that they feel are hard work, even better.

We’ve got someone in our team who is a Trader profile, and a Trader is the opposite of a Creator within our Wealth Dynamic square. It all comes down to our thinking dynamic. A Creator is someone who’s very good at being intuitive in their thinking. They’re always innovating, whereas a Trader is someone who’s very sensory in their thinking, which is not head-in-the-clouds. It’s ear-to-the-ground, and they’re very good at timing as opposed to being very good at

We have someone on our team who’s spent their entire life trying to start businesses. They thought that’s what they should do, and always finding it really, really tough to do. They are just naturally very sensory, and they always spot within a
business where the potential is in terms of the right timing. Now that I’ve realized that I’m terrible at timing because I’m always trying to out-create or out-think what’s happening in the market. As a result I’m always over-optimistic about things, having her o board and having that grounding it makes both of us so much stronger.

JANET ATTWOOD:  When I’m thinking about this whole thing, what comes up for me is that letting go is an art, wouldn’t you say? One of the things that you were talking about was being disciplined at what we need to say no to, right?

ROGER HAMILTON:  Yes, that’s correct.

JANET ATTWOOD:  In a nutshell that’s like letting go. You have to let go. What were the challenges for you? In starting something, it becomes your baby, and then to hand that over knowing that. It’s just like what you said about Richard Branson.
His passion was to just start things and then get everybody else to do the work and finish them. There’s that art of being able to let go and trust. What were your biggest challenges and what are your biggest challenges in working with this formula? Do you have it totally down?

ROGER HAMILTON: The answer to the final part is easy: no, absolutely not. The whole thing is an ongoing journey and adventure, which is the exciting part of it. No matter how much you think you know, the more you think you know, the more you realize how much you don’t know, and that’s the wonder of it. Our learning grows every year. I’m sure you find the same. As you keep on growing in terms of your knowledge and ideas, all of a sudden, it’s like there is a whole bunch of new stuff I didn’t even know I didn’t know.

What’s really interesting about this, I think, is in Asia there’s a little bit of different philosophy. When I came to America a couple of months ago, I had some people coming up to me and they were talking about this word called ‘state.’ They were saying, Roger, how do you get in the right state to get on stage? or How do you get into the right state to start your business?

I’m saying, Actually, in Asia we don’t talk about state, which actually makes you feel like you’ve got to get into something. We talk about flow, which is almost the opposite. Instead of having to do anything to get into a state, you get in flow like, for example, in China with the I Ching moving to the Tao. The Tao means the way, it means your path of least resistance.

It’s the way where everything’s effortless. Of course, when you get in flow you don’t have to do anything to get in flow. In fact, if you go to a river, you think when you get into a river what stops you getting into the flow? There’s actually only one thing that can stop you getting into flow and that’s that you’re holding on to something. If you just let go, you’re going to get into flow anyway.

It’s a wonderful concept because just as you were saying, there’s an art to letting go to this. You have to let go to get into flow, but it’s actually the easiest thing once you have faith in the flow. Once you have faith that if I just let go and get in my flow, others will carry me along as well. In fact, my flow will sweep me off my own feet.

If I can just let that go and do that, then I will suddenly start seeing that I can move a whole lot faster than I could ever do under my own steam trying to swim against the current, and I’m doing it without any effort whatsoever. That doesn’t mean we’re no applying ourselves, but it does mean that we’re actually doing it. We’re just doing one thing and one thing only. We’re saying, I will not let myself get out of flow. I will not let myself step out of that.

I can give you, to answer the question a bit more fully, two very quick instances of when I made scary decisions myself. I do find that those who get into flow can point back to a couple of critical moments when they made decisions. Which at the time
appeared really scary, but then after making them they started thinking, That’s a whole lot easier.

The first one was actually when I went through one of my first business failures when I was about 23 years old. I just needed money because I was in a position where I’d spent all my money.  I’d used it all in the business, and I’d run it in the wrong way. I was like, I didn’t expect that to happen. No money! I’d better go get a job. I remember looking at the papers on a Sunday feeling totally depressed about the idea that I had to get a job instead of running my own business.

I remember at that moment realizing that I had a choice to make. As long as I was looking for a job, I’d end up with a job. I had a choice to make, which was if I was actually going to have a job or not. I made a decision that day, not just to never have a job in the next week or the next month, but to never have a job ever again in my life. That was a very scary decision at the point I made it, but the minute I made it, it made me realize that now I had no choice but to go out there and to run a business.

I did what I found that many successful entrepreneurs did, which is not try to figure out how to run your own business on your own, but how to find someone who’s really got a successful business that I could add value to to begin with. Where that person could be my mentor or I could make them money much faster than I could make myself money. Warren Buffett did that. Bill Gates did that by tying in with IBM and teams around him.

When I did that, it was a whole different strategy than it would have been if I was out looking for a job. There was a second time that happened to me as well, which was not that long ago. This was probably about eight years ago now, when I had just had a big loss that was in the region of about $90 million with the venture-capital firm that I was working with that was called 3i, which is a very large venture firm in London.

I was in Singapore at the time, and I was in a position where they had actually flown out a guy who was coming out because of all the dotcoms that had gone down and so on. He’d come out to look at our business as well. I still remember really clearly he said to me at a board meeting there, he said, Look, Roger, we could give you some more money but frankly, I think you’re a terrible CEO. That’s what he said.

I was quite blown away by what he said. I remember seeing my sister that evening at a barbeque, and I just didn’t even want to socialize or anything. My sister looked at me at me and said, What’s your problem? I said, I’ve just been told by this guy who’s flown all the way from England that I’m a terrible CEO. My sister said, What’s the problem with that? You are! I said, How can you say that?

She said, First of all, you are because you keep on starting new stuff when you shouldn’t, and secondly, I don’t know why it’s a problem for you. If I told you that you were a terrible ballerina, would that worry you? I said, No, it wouldn’t. She said, Why not? I said, Because that’s not part of my identity. She said, Stop making CEO part of your identity. If you became a great CEO and then you got headhunted to go run a big multi-national, would you want that?

I said, No, that would terrible. I’d hate that. She said, Well, then you don’t want to be a good CEO, right? You just want to be a good entrepreneur. Forget about being a CEO. Go look for CEOs to run your businesses for you. That was the day I made another scary decision, which is to say I would never, ever be a CEO to run my own business again.

From that day onward, I called myself Chairman and it forced me, every time I ever came to start a new business up, to never get into running it. Having to go look for other people to run it, which is pretty much what people like Richard Branson does or Steve Jobs does with his different projects, put me in an entirely different place empowering myself to stay in my flow.

JANET ATTWOOD:  This is so fabulous, and it’s all about just dropping in, just knowing who you are, knowing, just as your sister said, Do you really want to be a CEO?


JANET ATTWOOD:  It’s knowing. Heck no, that’s the last thing I want to be, and just going for it. Then I love how you did that, just calling yourself, and in a sense creating yourself, a chairman and becoming that, and then starting to gather people around you.

ROGER HAMILTON:  Yes, it’s very interesting, that whole idea where a lot of us like to hedge our bets and think, I’d better not cut out my options. I don’t want to say no to too much because then I might miss an opportunity. Of course, true attraction comes not from what you think you are but from what other people think you are. Of course, no one’s even going to recommend anyone to you unless they know what you stand for.

For too many of us, we’re ambiguous enough with ourselves and what we might be to even be clear to others who we are. We could pick any one of the billionaires who we know, whether it’s Oprah or whether it’s Richard Branson. We’re all very clear on who these people are even though we may not have ever met them personally ourselves just because they’ve stood for something specific. Which we can all understand, and as a result, can recommend others to go connect with them.

JANET ATTWOOD:  Absolutely. Beyond everything, if you would ask Oprah, Oprah, would you like to go have a farm, and it’s so beautiful because you really cut your losses. I’m sitting here listening to you, and I was just dealing with it today. I went to my calendar and with the presentations that I’ve got on it, I don’t really need a house for the next three months.

I just had that defining moment. I think there are no mistakes in the universe, and here I am interviewing you tonight. I was sitting there and I’m thinking, Okay, no. Who can? One of your trainers can. I called up one of my top trainers and said, Okay, would you like to do this? Oh, my God! I’d love to more than anything! It was just so great.

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