She’s The Boss: Pearlin Siow

 

When you are inspired and excited…

… wonderful things will happen for you. Celebrate the small wins.

 

        

 

“When I was in primary school, my essays used to get passed around the class. That was the first inkling, but I thought nothing of it and went back to daydreaming.”
PEARLIN arrives at my doorstep right on time. She’s always on time. Her newly shorn bob has been pulled back in a ponytail so short I’m thinking it looks more like a bunnytail. (I chuckle at my own joke in my head.) Later for our shoot, she frees it so her hair makes insouciant waves. Meanwhile, she walks by me like a gentle breeze. Nice and calming. A giant love-filled hug follows. She is clutching a thick red brick of a book. I recognise it right away. We’ve talked about it, raved about it, and quoted from it to each other a few times. Tools of Titans, by Tim Ferriss, her favourite author. I’ve grown very fond of him myself.

Oh, but excuse me, where are my manners. Meet Pearlin Siow: Published author, founder (or “book mama”, she’ll say) of boutique publishing agency Boss Of Me (super apt!), animal lover, hopeless foodie, avid traveller and, most importantly (well, to me it is), my friend. I have harboured the idea of interviewing Pearlin for rather a long time now. And now that I

have, I cannot believe how long it has taken. Cue face palm. Once again, this strengthens my suspicion all along that familiarity is highly detrimental because the best ideas, quite often, are right under your nose. And you take them for granted. Fine example right here: My friend has all the wisdom on living the life she wants and enjoys — because she is. I’ve always admired her for it.

All those prosaisms about being kind to yourself, about living your dream life and doing what you love so you never have to work a day in your life… which most people like to talk about and re-gram — well, Pearlin made it happen. Between her daily yoga practice and good-food hunting, hiking in Sri Lanka and Iceland and frolicking with her pets, she has #lifegoals all figured out. She has tools of titans. She is my titan. And I hope, I know, she will inspire you, to find, to live your dream life IRL, too. If that dream is to be a writer, you’re in luck. Tips and advice galore ahead.

Success to me means… having the freedom to NOT do what I don’t like. It’s a very simple concept that is very powerful.

What did you want to be growing up? Is it anywhere close to what you do now?
PS:
Haha, far from it! I wanted to be a vet when I was growing up. But I realised that I didn’t have the stomach — and heart — to witness animals dying on a daily basis. So now, I just rescue cats and have a mini farm at home (two cats and a dog).

Do you remember the day you decided to start Boss Of Me?
PS:
It was not really a day per se as I didn’t set out to create a boutique book publishing business. My business grew very organically, and it was largely due to the demands of my clients, which is what I love about it. After writing my trilogy of books (Boss Of Me, Sleep & Get Rich and Secrets Of Asia’s Most Successful Internet Gurus), one of the entrepreneurs from the last book approached me to write his biography. He then referred his mentor to me and before I knew it, I was getting a steady flow of clients who wanted to write books. Then my clients asked if I could help them self-publish and that’s when I started the production side of Boss Of Me — working with designers, printers and book distributors for my clients who wish to self-publish.

So, what does it take to be a good writer as a profession?
PS:
The ability to write simply and effectively is important as a writer. You don’t need to use bombastic words in order to write well. In fact, that’s off-putting to me. I like to think that I’m writing for my 14-year-old niece — if I’m able to captivate her attention, then it’s good writing.

These days, with social media, “old school” writing as we know it is becoming extinct. The younger generation is growing up with social-media lingo and emojis, which have severely affected their spelling and ability to string proper sentences together (ICYMI, kidz r writg lk dis, srsly). One way you can start is by using your social media platforms as a way for you to practise — strive to write witty and catchy captions for your posts.

You’ve met and interviewed so many successful people, what would you say are five of the most precious lessons you’ve learned from them about success and life?
PS: Lesson 1: You can be nice and still get to to the top. Most of the successful entrepreneurs I’ve met are some of the nicest people I know.

Lesson 2: Desperation is the best driver for success. All my clients have tasted insurmountable hardship which gave them the will to succeed.

Lesson 3: You don’t need a degree to succeed, as long as you possess passion and fortitude. Many of my clients did badly at school due to learning disabilities and found other skills they excel in.

Lesson 4: You need to develop a clear sense of what you want to achieve. The mind is an amazing tool, and if you have a goal in sight, you will achieve what you focus on. All of them had very specific goals and were not afraid to work their asses off!

Lesson 5: Use what makes you different to your advantage, and embrace the unknown. Whether it’s finding an untapped niche and dominating it, or having an extraordinary idea and the guts to follow through with it, I’ve actually used this lesson for my business and profited from it.

How would you define “success” right now?
PS:
Success to me means being autonomous and having the freedom to NOT do what I don’t like. It’s a very simple concept that is very powerful. Choose to focus on what you enjoy which you’ll naturally excel in and hire amazing people to do the stuff that you don’t like doing. When you follow this practice, you’ll be successful… and happy!

YOU CAN BE NICE AND STILL GET TO THE TOP.

What has been your greatest struggle/setback in being a writer, an entrepreneur and a person?
PS:
In the beginning, I wasn’t even sure that this could support me, much less be a business. After all, how many books can one write, and is there even a market for this? It took me about six months to face my fears and push through with my vision. Unwavering certainty in myself worked, and I have been working on eight books a year consistently for the last four years! Tim Ferriss, my favourite author, says that the best jobs are the ones that you created for yourself — this couldn’t ring more true for me. I’ve never admired celebrities, instead I seek out entrepreneurs and devour their rags-to-riches stories, struggles and achievements like a star-struck fan. This is my dream job and my network is now worth billions.

There’s a lot of self-doubt and judgement that comes with being a writer, like any other creative professions. How do you overcome these emotions and creative block?
PS:
Maybe it comes with age, but I’ve stopped caring about what people think of me for a while now. Also, it really does help when you write for inspirational people. Most people will pay thousands of dollars to be mentored by my clients. I, on the other hand, get paid to spend hours immersed in their words of wisdom, asking them all the questions I want as well as gain a deep insight into their personal lives — I’ve even witnessed CEOs break down and cry during our interviews.

Also, learn to let go. It doesn’t mean doing shoddy work, but freeing yourself up to do what you’re strong at and finding people who are better than you at things that are holding you back from achieving your long-term goals. That was the best thing I did for my business.

“If you look at my organiser, you’ll see that my schedule is planned around my workouts.”

Do you have a routine that helps you to get into the groove of writing?
PS:
I do yoga and boxing twice a week and go for runs with my dog on other days. If you look at my organiser, you’ll see that my schedule is planned around my workouts. #Selfcare is important because if I’m not feeling my best physically, I won’t be able to function well mentally. It’s thanks to my yoga that I can sit for hours writing and editing without fatigue or a sore body. Also, committing to exercise is discipline, and that helps when I’m juggling a few books. I also travel widely. I find that I write very well on the plane where there is absolutely no distraction (yes, I am a multi-tasker who is usually replying to emails, texting, writing and eating at the same time!).

If you could write your ideal life like into a book, would you say it’s the one you’re living now?
PS:
My life right now is pretty close to perfect. In fact, I had visualised this much earlier — me writing at home surrounded by my pets and going out for workouts. But I go through phases, so I might get bored of this idyllic life and crave something more fast-paced in future.

“Boss Of Me” is not just the title of your book and the name of your company. I know that it’s something you really believe in — to live on your own terms. When did you realise that’s how you want to live? Most of the time, fear is what stands between someone and her dream.
PS:
First of all, it is important to have blind belief in yourself, because if you don’t trust in yourself, who will? Case in point: I knew I did not want mine to be a run-of-the-mill writing agency, so I focused only on books even though I received requests for copywriting jobs. Fast forward to now and Boss Of Me has become a small giant in the book-writing niche. I recently scored a huge deal with an Indonesian tycoon who was referred to me by the former Supreme Court judge. It is so humbling. This means I can focus on taking less jobs and doing them really well.

When you are inspired and excited, wonderful things will happen for you. Celebrate the small wins and let them propel you further into your goals. Operate from a level of contentment, so that you see everything you get as a bonus. This makes you grateful, and when you’re in that blissful state, you will attract endless abundance.

The ability to write simply and effectively is important as a writer. You don’t need to use bombastic words.

What book…

  • was the first you ever read?
    PS: Wow, you’re really testing my memory here. I can’t remember my first book but I was a huge fan of Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton books when I was growing up.
  • are reading now?
    PS: I just finished The Vegetarian by Han Kang. I am not a fan of fiction. Occasionally, I’ll force myself to read one to improve my creative writing, but it always leaves me disappointed.
  • saved your life?
    PS: Saving my life would be an exaggeration, but I owe my career to Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek. Eight years ago, I was toying with the idea of writing a book but I thought, “Who will read a book written by a nobody?” Tim wrote in his book that you can interview experts for a book and be immediately deemed an “expert”! That was my lightbulb moment which gave me the

impetus to interview 20 top entrepreneurs in Singapore, and Boss Of Me became a bestseller! Thanks Tim!

  • would you read over and over again?
    None, I don’t re-read books because there are too many good books out there to be read.
  • would you recommend that everyone should read in order to live their best life?
    Tim Ferriss’ Tools Of Titans which is a summary of his podcast interviews with stellar guests. It is chockfull of inspirational wisdom and advice, written in a dynamic and engaging manner. You will also get toned arms as a result because the book weighs a ton!

What’s your favourite quote/mantra?
PS:
 “The struggle ends when the gratitude begins.” — Neale Donald Walsch

PHOTOGRAPHY  //  KARMAN TSE

 

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