Get Energized with Simon Alexander Ong

Simon Alexander Ong is an award-winning life and executive coach, keynote speaker, an author of the book Energize. This show is packed full of leadership hacks, tools and ideas that will get you energized, including:

  • How we can awaken our power.
  • The benefits of rewiring our energetic state.
  • Why we need to manage our energy and not our time.
  • How to supercharge our impact.

Transcript: Thanks to Jermaine Pinto at JRP Transcribing for being our Partner. Contact Jermaine via LinkedIn or via his site JRP Transcribing Services

The Leadership Hacker News

Steve Rush: What would you do with an extra two hours a week? Just two. Now, imagine if you could even create more free time, here’s an equation I want you to think about. Structure plus discipline, equals freedom. Do you believe that to be true? The reality is, by giving us disciplines within a structure creates capacity for us to do other things. But if we get caught up in the moment, here’s a few tech hacks will help us unlock capacity. 

Set up email filters. in a perfect world we’d only have emails hit our inbox for those that we really needed. The reality is, our inbox gets inundated with emails, not only internally, but from marketeers and those who choose to spam us. Given the fact we don’t already have enough, right? You can set up rules that help you filter emails. There’s software out there as well. But your firm will probably just let you use the one that you are used to use. But most email service providers let you automatically create labels, filters, and folders. And rule of mine, when I’m on vacation, CC into the delete box. And only if it’s resent as a main message, I’d read it. 

Asynchronous and automatic meetings. Now asynchronous meetings means that you don’t have meetings per se, but you use other mediums to communicate through Teams or Zoom or slack or whatever it is you use. Collectively the stuff still gets done, but in a more flexible way, other ways of course is using automation. And according to a recent survey by Dialpad, 83% of professionals spend between at least four to twelve hours in back-to-back meetings.

And in my experience, I’d love it to be so few. To help you. You can use automated meeting calendars and you can ask your teams to work with that calendaring system. Also just create space and blocks so that others don’t take advantage of your open calendar system. For those of you, a little late adopter to computers, talk to type functions, you might want to take a look. Speech recognition software can really speed up how you take notes, prepare meetings, and you can even use your computers, talk to type function, to dictate emails or other documents, or even play emails back to you invoice while you are walking the dog, or you are in between meetings. And while voice recognition software has come a long way. It’s not perfect. So, you’ll need to make sure that you use it in the right way and double check it, particularly if you’re going to publish to anywhere.

And in the hybrid world, we’re in, this is not necessarily a tech hack, but a hack it is nonetheless. Let somebody else do the cooking. If you’re working from home, weekday meals could take up a lot of time, including the planning, shopping, preparing, cooking. And if you find yourself running late or nipping to the store, by the time you’ve got your produce back and you cut your vegetables, you might already have wasted another hour. You can use lots of pre-cooked meals or boxed meals to help you become more efficient in the way that you work and the way that you prepare your dinners. Our greatest commodity is time. And once we spend our time, we can’t get it back. As of today, 48% of people say that they don’t have enough time to do what they want. So, take control of some of the technology and some of the innovation that is around us and give it a try.

Remember, there’s a bit of learning here, so you’ll have to spend some time figuring out what works and what doesn’t work for you. For that reason, look for apps and look for other technologies that support you in your approach to being awesome. So, get out there and have a go. That’s been The Leadership Hacker in News. Don’t forget you can always share your ideas and things that you want us to talk about in the show, by contacting us through our social media.

Start of Podcast

Steve Rush: Simon Alexander Ong is our special guest on today’s show. He’s a personal growth entrepreneur, coach, and speaker. He’s also the author of the book Energize. Simon, welcome to the show, my friend!

Simon Alexander Ong: Steve, thank you so much for having me on.

Steve Rush: I’m really looking forward to today. And the whole subject of energize is probably the most timely for everybody. All of that will become much more apparent as we dive into the themes. The tagline of the book though, Simon is, Make the most out of every moment. And that’s exactly what I intend to do with you. So, let’s jump straight in and learn a little bit about Simon and your backstory and how you arrived doing what you’re doing? 

Simon Alexander Ong: Sure. So, I was born here in the United Kingdom, Steve to Malaysian parents. And I grew up with this mistaken and belief that success was determined by my job title, be a banker, be a doctor, be a lawyer, be an accountant. And so, my definition was limited to a few choices that I believe would make me successful.

Steve Rush: And it’s interesting, isn’t it? Those labels kind of set you off on a trajectory, didn’t they? So, you ended up in a career in banking and then before you knew it, you were doing something else, right?

Simon Alexander Ong: Definitely. I mean, I ended up going down the bank route at what was probably the worst possible time, Steve, because this was in the middle of 2007, I had just graduated, and this was also year before the financial crisis. And the first company I started was with Lehman Brothers. And so as, you know, that company collapsed into administration in September, 2008, and now while it was painful at the time, I mean, for anybody who’s gone through a redundancy, it is never a nice experience, but at the same time, in hindsight, it was a blessing in disguise because it kick started for me the journey to where I am today, because it got me to question those beliefs that I had held for so long about whether they were really true and whether that was serving me or actually hurting me. And so that was where my interest in the word of entrepreneurship started. And, then it wasn’t until 2012 that I really started to focus my energy on what I now get to do today, which is to coach those in leadership positions to speak at conferences and companies. And more recently having finished writing my first book,

Steve Rush: Those sliding door moments, isn’t it? Where, you know, in the face of adversity, you leave a job that you’d been primed to do all of your life to then find actually it was the sliding door that opened another path.

Simon Alexander Ong: Mm-Hmm, mm-hmm. And it’s interesting because when I think about that sliding door and I guess many other sliding doors as well, it’s that what I’ve come to understand is that those moments in which we feel at the time are setbacks or failures are actually the very moments that equip us with the wisdom to create the best moments of our life, to step into a path that were completely transform what had come before.

Steve Rush: And how much of your growing up with that kind of real strong influence of your folks to say, right. You have to get yourself an academic career and get yourself into a role. How much of that you now still rely on, but in a different way?

Simon Alexander Ong: I think I rely a lot less now, obviously because I am not following those definitions now, but I think taking the, I guess the human values from my parents, from my dad’s side, I think it has definitely been the hard work element. My dad has always been very committed to what he does. And I think I’ve taken a lot of that on board. When I do something, I want to see it through to the end. I want to make sure I’ve given it my best shot. For my mom’s side. It has been the empathy, my mom, when you know, before she gave birth to myself and my brother, she was a nurse, and she was very understanding about what other people were going through. And she was able to connect with others in a very powerful way. And so, I think I’ve taken some of that on board in the work that I do, because coaching, speaking, they are very much a people business. And so, when you engage with someone, it is very important to have that level of emotional intelligence to be able to relate to other people. So, I think those are the values and those are the characteristics that I feel I’ve taken from my family.

Steve Rush: Yeah, awesome. So, then fast forward, you’ve now just published, Energized, and I have to say, it’s a fantastic read. And most importantly, it’s getting loads of coverage and you must be really pleased with it, how it’s been launched. In fact, I go, as far as say, every time I turn on my social media, there’s you and [laugh] and so, you and your marketing team are doing a fantastic job by the way, but I marched to you for that. So, tell us a little bit about that journey.

Simon Alexander Ong: Thank you so much. So, I think whenever you start a business, there are lots of roles that you have to take on board because you become your own financial officer, you become your own marketer, your own publicist and so on. And I think when you run a business, you have a natural preference for certain activities, more than others. And for me, because I’ve always enjoyed speaking, I’ve grown up with social media, if you like when I was finishing university, I very much enjoyed the marketing side. So, for me, in getting the book out to the world, once the marketing campaign kicked in, I was very much in my element, Steve, because I was looking at ways that we can take videos of the journey. I was looking at partnerships that we could create. I mean, we partnered with The Connaught Hotel to create a signature cocktail inspired by the book. We put together a video trailer in the same way that movies do before the film is released in the cinema. And just last week we partnered with two companies to host one of the world’s first book launches in the metaverse. And so, for me, that’s what really gives me energy is, to explore this creative side of my brain especially when it’s been around the book, which has also been a very important milestone for myself.

Steve Rush: Mm-Hmm indeed it has, yeah. So, what was that defining moment then Simon? When you thought I’ve got something here? I need to kind of put pen to paper.

Simon Alexander Ong: [Laugh] well, what is interesting because if I look back at the book journey, Steve, I wasn’t actually planning to write a book. I mean in the middle of 2019, where I sat down and reflected on the first half of the year and started to plan for the second. Writing a book was not on my top three or even top five priorities until towards the end of that year, I got approached by a boutique publisher. And they asked if I was interested in writing a book and I thought, well, it doesn’t hurt to have a conversation. And so, I went along, I had a coffee to hear what they had in mind. And I came away from that conversation thinking, well, if I was to only write one book, would I be happy with what they were sharing and working with them?

And the answer for me was, no. I mean, I had a feeling inside of me that would regret if I didn’t think bigger than where I was at the moment. And so, I went away, Steve and I started to reach out to the Penguins, Simon Schuster, Harper Collins, Hay House, some of these big names in the publishing world. And out of the people I reached out to, Penguin was the only one that responded. And so, in January 2020, we met up in person. And still at that point, I didn’t know what I was going to write about because I didn’t even know if I was going to get a book deal and if this was going to progress. And so, after that conversation, they came back to me and said, Simon, we would like you to put a book proposal together. And I think that was the time that I started thinking about what this would be about Steve.

Steve Rush: Yeah. 

Simon Alexander Ong: And the book is called Energized. But at the time submitting the proposal, the title I put as a working title was actually originally energy is everything. And the reason I put forward that title is because it spoke a lot to my own journey, but also to the fact that when I study some of the most successful leaders in any industry, what I’ve often found is that they’re not necessarily the smartest, the fastest or the strongest, but they are the best when it comes to managing and sustaining their level of energy, because they know that you cannot show up as your best self, if you’re always feeling exhausted and drained.

Steve Rush: Yeah, and that’s cuts across every genre, whether it be business, sport, you look at those that are in peak performance of anything is how they manage their energy to get that optimum performance, right?

Simon Alexander Ong: Definitely, definitely, because. 

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Simon Alexander Ong: You have to realize that unless you manage your energy in a sustainable way, you’re going to very quickly burn out. And if you want to achieve anything of, you know, on a big scale, you are going to need a lot of energy. And so really understanding how to manage and optimize that will help you in the long term.

Steve Rush: Yeah, and energy is everything. 

Simon Alexander Ong: [Laugh]. 

Steve Rush: And there’s no question, but let’s dive into some of the themes within the books and our listeners will be dying to hear about them. Now you’ve developed four key components as I’ve called them. They’re probably kind of big blocky chapters with lots of really great hacks and tools and tips within them. And I thought it would be really interesting to be able to spin through them and maybe dive into a couple of those themes.

Simon Alexander Ong: Definitely. So, I split the book into four parts, part one, awaken your power to rewire your energetic state, three, protect your personal energy and four, supercharge your impact. And the reason I did that is because that takes the reader very much through the journey that I have been on as well as touching on important areas that I’ve learned over time that can really help us show up as our best selves. So, in the first part, awaken your power. This speaks a lot to the beginnings of my journey. Transitioning from a corporate world to the path of an entrepreneur and how you’ve got to have some baseline of energy before you can apply some of the knowledge, the strategies, the tips, and hacks that you may hear about. And for me, that always starts with our health. I mean, if there’s anything that we’ve learned over the last couple of years, Steve, is that health really is the first wealth.

Steve Rush: Absolutely right, yeah. 

Simon Alexander Ong: You may have lots of dreams, hopes, and wishes, but unless you’re healthy, unless you’re able to put those things into action, they will just remain a distant dream. A good way to think about it is this. A healthy person will have lots of things they want to do. The sick will only have one, and that is to get healthy again. And so, once we’ve put in place some healthy habits, once we’ve prioritized our health, then we’ve put a powerful foundation and platform to really build upon. And so that leads into the second part, which is rewire your energetic state. Understanding that it is often the state that we’re in that determines the actions, the choices, and the behaviors we take. And then the third part is protecting because once you’ve got to a point in which you have a lot of energy in your life, it’s in a question of, well, how do I protect that? So, I don’t leak it away doing things that actually drain me of energy. And I think that can be very challenging for a lot of us, especially when we are ambitious, or we have lots of things we want to do. We forget that creating boundaries to protect our time and breathe oxygen into the things that matter most, just fall by the wayside. 

Steve Rush: Yeah. 

Simon Alexander Ong: And so, we have to be aware and conscious of protecting our energy that is aligned to what we want to do in the long term. And the last part really speaks to legacy. You know, I think ultimately, we all want to leave a good legacy behind. And so, the final part, supercharge your impact inspires the readers on how they can go about doing so.

Steve Rush: So, let’s dive into a couple of things, because there was a few things as I read it that really pricked my conscious, the first one, ironically, was under your, awaken your power. You talk about how we can elevate our consciousness and be really in the presence and in the service of our thoughts. Tell us a little bit about what that really means and how as a leader, I might do that?

Simon Alexander Ong: Sure. So, what that speaks to is the fact that you cannot have self-development without self-awareness because you simply can’t change what you’re not aware of. And so, by elevating our consciousness, it’s understanding that beginning of true wisdom is knowing ourselves and that begins with our thoughts. So, when I encourage readers to take up the practice of writing or journaling, what I’m really doing is getting them to better understand themselves because the activity of writing is the cheapest form of therapy. As you get to know yourself, your thoughts, your desires, your challenges, you get greater clarity and understanding on what to do next. But most of us, we keep all of that in our mind and we don’t download it onto paper that it can feel overwhelming. 

Steve Rush: Yes, right. 

Simon Alexander Ong: But when we can transfer that clutter from our brain onto paper, what happens is that we’re able to organize our thoughts in a way that opens up the path to knowing what the next step is.

Steve Rush: And that’s really quite a powerful thing to do, isn’t it? And for those people who haven’t yet experienced journaling, it does also take a bit of practice and a bit of discipline too. Doesn’t it?

Simon Alexander Ong: Definitely, and I think the key with any new practice, Steve is not to pressure yourself on whether I’m doing it right or whether I’m doing it wrong because there’s no right way to journal. For some of us, we may need prompts for others we may just want to write down whatever comes to our mind. I mean that’s something that was encouraged by Julia Cameron as a concept of morning pages, how I just download whatever’s on my mind and then I can filter food out after I put it onto paper. So, the key is, as long as you’re journaling, however you’re journaling. That is the most important part.

Steve Rush: So, as we spin forward, I’ve kind of raised myself awareness. Now my power is definitely awake. We often find ourselves bumping into what you call energetic blocks.

Simon Alexander Ong: Mm.

Steve Rush: How would you describe that to our listeners?

Simon Alexander Ong: So energetic blocks for me are things that stop you, making progress towards where you want to be and often those can be mental. To give you an example is that if you desire to achieve something, but your critic jumps in and says, you can’t do that, it’s too difficult. You’re too old or you’re too young. What’s happening is that you have blocked your path of achieving what you want to do. You’re setting up these obstacles, these blocks that are going to prevent you from making progress. So, once we understand the nature of how this works, of how energetic blocks will actually prevent us from making progress the way we want to be. We then have to understand how we can rewire the way our mind works. So that actually those blocks will melt away and allow us to make the steps forward to where we want to be. And very often it simply begins with speaking to ourselves in the same way we would to someone we care about. Because even when we achieve something, Steve, what happens is, the critic was still jumping. 

Steve Rush: Right. 

Simon Alexander Ong: You know, when you finish a marathon, despite finishing that challenge, your mind often doesn’t focus on the fact you finish it. It says, well, I didn’t get the time I wanted, I didn’t do this. I didn’t do that. And what happens is that we’re always focus on what we didn’t do rather than what we did. 

Steve Rush: Yeah. The voice in the head is so powerful. Isn’t it Simon? You know, the one that we wake up with in the morning or the last voice we hear before we go to bed and I often have shared before, you know, it’s also going to be the last voice that we hear before we die. So, this voice has got to help us out. It’s got to be an empowered of us rather than the limit, right?

Simon Alexander Ong: Totally. Because the person and you alluded to it just now, Steve, the person you are going to speak to the most in your lifetime is yourself. And so, words do have power. I mean, they have the ability to serve a prison sentence to your potential or free and awaken it to achieve and express its full creativity.

Steve Rush: I love that. I’m going to write that down. Prison sentence to your potential. That’s a belter. I love that, Simon. So now we’ve managing to get round our blocks. What we often find is that we perhaps don’t pay enough attention to our energy states and indeed where we get our energy from and how we manage that. And my favorite chapter in your book is managing your energy, not your time because you know, you can’t manage time. Time’s going to manage us, but we’ve got full control over our energy, right? 

Simon Alexander Ong: Definitely. I mean, when we think about productivity, a lot of us jump exclusively to managing our time better. But the issue with is that if we only focus on managing our time better, we forget that our energy is not constant. When we only focus on managing our time, we mistakenly assume that our energy’s uniform for the whole day when in fact it isn’t. And so, if I’m opening up my calendar and I look at the afternoon and I go, okay, I’m going to block out four o’clock to five o’clock to go and do a workout. I’m then going to tackle this big task at six o’clock. What actually happens in reality is you never get around to doing so because on average, our energy starts to decline as we move through the afternoon. And so, what you’re doing here is you’re working against your energy rather than with it.

And so, once we start understanding our own energy rhythm, so for some of us, we may be early rises. Others might be night owls. Some of us might be energized in the afternoon. Some of us might get a slump in the afternoon. Once we understand those data points, what happens is that we can begin working with our energy and not against it. And so, if you are an early riser, then it makes sense to tackle your most important task first thing in the morning, if you are a night owl, then it makes sense to do some of that work at the end of the day. 

Steve Rush: Yeah. 

Simon Alexander Ong: But you won’t know that until you understand at a deeper level how your energy fluctuates throughout the day. And that’s why a term that I used in the book; Steve is being a better CEO. 

Steve Rush: Yeah. 

Simon Alexander Ong: Energy officer.

Steve Rush: Yeah, exactly. And if you look back over the millennial, this has been written about by all sorts of different religions and gurus that energy as its key source is what’s going to create your capability or your productivity. And I know you quote quite a lot of different themes of energy in the book in including, you know, the Chinese Chi and that’s very much kind of central to making sure that you are productive.

Simon Alexander Ong: Definitely. And that’s why when you see somebody, and we would’ve all come across people like this. You will notice that those who have high energy can get more done in days or weeks than many will get accomplished in months or even years. 

Steve Rush: Right. 

Simon Alexander Ong: And that is because how they show up in the same hour that others show up is infinitely different.

Steve Rush: And also, I know that this isn’t just about being on your game all of the time, a key part of managing your energy is recovery and managing that energy flow too. Isn’t it?

Simon Alexander Ong: Indeed. I think what we’re missing here, Steve is the fact that we are very quick to schedule into our diary, work meetings, social events, and holiday plans, but not so quick in scheduling in me time. 

Steve Rush: That’s right.

Simon Alexander Ong: And so just imagine if we were to schedule into our calendar me time, as quickly as we do those other things, I think what then happens is that we start to prioritize those moments of intentional rest rather than just being on all the time, because we can’t be on all the time. We’re not built to be on all the time. And so, we do need those periods to reset, rejuvenate and recharge.

Steve Rush: Yeah, and one of the things into this part of the book, I love as well is, you call it how you can go about electrifying your environment. Tell us about that? 

Simon Alexander Ong: I’ve gone through a number of experiences that really electrified my environment, Steve. So, one of the messages I often share with clients and audiences is that the fastest way to make progress is to design an environment that makes it impossible not to succeed. And a lot of that comes down to how you are electrifying your environment, because if you are in environments that simply electrify you, open your mind to new ideas, elevate your thinking from big to astronomical. Then what happens is that you have a constant supply of energy from that source. Now your environment, isn’t just people you spend time with. It is also what you watch, what you listen to, who you follow on social media, your physical environment, your digital environment, all of these things act as a force and an influence are not only how you see yourself, but what you see as possible for your future.

Steve Rush: And we often don’t realize that our environment has changed so much over the last ten years. Some of the things like news, media, TV, and social media, that’s so accessible to us now, if we’re not really thoughtful about where we consume and indeed what we consume from those channels, it can have a massive impact on energy. Can’t it?

Simon Alexander Ong: Definitely. And that’s why it goes back to the point of being aware. You know, if we’re not a aware or consciously aware of how our environment is influencing our behavior and our energy, then what happens is that we simply become a victim to external events. But when we begin to take responsibility for where we are and where we want to be, that’s when we actually deepen our awareness of, are we spending time focusing on things we can control or we’re focusing on things we can’t? And for many of us, it tends to be on the latter.

Steve Rush: You also talk about the environment being broader than what we just talked about indeed people as well, that you actually can infect and be infected positively adversely by people’s energy states too.

Simon Alexander Ong: Definitely. And this is why you know, being aware and curating your environment is so important because energy is neutral in the sense that it doesn’t care if you’re spending time around negative or positive sources, you simply become infected by whatever quality of energy you spend time with. So of course, the more time you spend around negative sources of energy in no time, you’re going to feel very negative. And likewise, if you spend a lot of time around sources of energy that are positive, in no time, you’re going to start feeling very positive. And this is why we have to be very careful about the energy that we expose ourselves to. Because very quickly we become like the energy that we are associated with.

Steve Rush: You can’t always visibly see this, but you can feel it. It’s almost like a, I don’t know how you’d describe it, but like it radiates from people. You can physically get good vibes, bad vibes, call it what you like from people. And that draws people to people, and it pushes them away. Doesn’t it?

Simon Alexander Ong: Definitely, I mean, there’s an interesting study that I came across in the research from my book, Steve, that showed that young children especially those under the age of three or four actually understand this in a way that we don’t. So, to give an example, under the age of three or four children are still learning to speak fluently. So often they still speak quite broken, but if they were to walk into a room in which you know, parents have had an argument, a child can sense that and will react very differently to if the parents were very happy and were showering the child with love because they can’t articulate those things in words, but they do it through emotion and body language. It’s been shown that children actually can feel the energy of a room.

Steve Rush: It’s fascinating, isn’t it? In fact, I was chatting to a future guest last week. 

Simon Alexander Ong: Mm-hmm.

Steve Rush: And they do leadership work with horses. 

Simon Alexander Ong: Mm-hmm. 

Steve Rush: And apparently horses can also feel energy from people in a very similar way. And, you know, they’ve described taking leadership teams to stables and the horse’s kind of spooking because they’re not particularly effective. And conversely, you know, you can see these animals physically manifest when there’s a positive energy with this team. Find it really fascinating.

Simon Alexander Ong: Definitely. Even if we look at organizations, I mean, those in positions of leadership are like the thermostat of the energy field of an organization, the leader is.

Steve Rush: Yeah. 

Simon Alexander Ong: Constantly emitting positive energy and vibes, then guess what? The people beneath him or her will feel exactly the same. And it’s seeing when they show up with. 

Steve Rush: Yeah. 

Simon Alexander Ong: Negative energy, of course, everybody around him or her will start feeling negative. And so, that’s the same thing when we think about organizations

Steve Rush: And you close off your book with supercharging your impact, and ironically, the title of the book that you had planned was the last chapter of your book.

Simon Alexander Ong: [Laugh] 

Steve Rush: Energy is everything. And how would you just kind of summarize the whole kind of energy and energy state?

Simon Alexander Ong: Sure. So, to summarize, think of it this way for the listeners. You may call it Chi. I mean, we’ve touched on that before, you may call it Chi if you come from Chinese culture. If you come from Maui culture, you will probably call it Mana or if you’re a fan of the Star Wars film franchise, you will call it the force. Now, whatever we are referring to, it is the same thing, which is energy as a life force. And for me, once we start to tap into that from a spiritual and emotional and mental and a physical perspective, we begin to not only unleash our deepest potential, but what happens is we actually start to contribute to a story that will positively influence all the lives of people to come into contact with us. And that for me is how we supercharge our impact. It’s by understanding the relationship we have with our energy as a life force and then to sharing that with other people so that they will be inspired to step out of the shadows of their own story and into the light of their hero potential

Steve Rush: Love it. I think it’s amazing. So, we are going to share with our listeners at the end of the show, how they can get a copy of the book and learn more about you. Before I do that, though, I’m going to just flip the lens a little, and I’m going to hack into your great entrepreneurial and developmental brain and try and get you to distill all of that wise learnings and research into your top three leadership hacks, Simon, what would they be? 

Simon Alexander Ong: Sure. So, if I had to extract free leadership hacks, the first would be to ask for help. The second would be to help others. And the third would be to diversify your inputs. And I’ll just elaborate briefly on each one. So, the first ask for help. Simply taps into the concept that we never get to the top alone. And unless you are humble enough to embrace that eternal student mindset and to ask for help from other people, people that may be better than you in some respects with regards to skills or knowledge or insights, then what happens is that you start to think more innovatively and creatively. So, ask for help would be the first one. Second would be help others. You know, something I learned from one of my mentors, a man called Bob Burg, who co-authored the book, The Go-Giver is, that the secret to success is giving. And that is because our value as a human on this planet is determined by how much more we have given to the world than we have taken from it. And I think that the more we can help others, the more that we can unleash other people’s leadership potential. Then what happens is that through that process, we are demonstrating leadership ourselves.

Steve Rush: Perfect example, of course, is when you give energy to people and you give the right attitude and environment, you get it back.

Simon Alexander Ong: This is Kamer in action. 

Steve Rush: Yeah. 

Simon Alexander Ong: And the third one there is to diversify your inputs. And this is what I mean by diversity your inputs. If you only look at your competition, you can only be as good as your competition. And that immediately sets a bar to your growth because you’re only using your competition as a benchmark. But once you open your mind to people from very different industries, from different walks of life, from different experiences, you begin to awaken your creative potential. And this is how innovation is born. It’s not born by looking your competitors. It’s born by looking at people outside of your industry, and then bringing in the impact and influence of those inputs into your own so that you are seen as innovative. So, to give an example, the idea for the cocktail to mark the launch of my book, Steve, that came about from being connected to the bartender, the world’s best bar, The Connaught Hotel. The idea for the video trailer came from my conversations with a friend who directs movies. And so, by diversifying the inputs I have into my environment and my mind, I’m able to really explore my creativity.

Steve Rush: Yeah, I love it. Super hacks. So, in the next part of the show, Simon, we call it Hack to Attack.

Simon Alexander Ong: [Laugh]. 

Steve Rush: So, this is typically where it hasn’t gone well. Now, you’ve had an incredible success journey, but there have probably been times as all of us where, you know, it’s all gone wrong, and it’s not worked out as we’d intended. So, as a result of that though, has there been a time where something’s gone wrong and it’s now serving you well?

Simon Alexander Ong: Definitely. I think the first example that came to my mind as you asked that question, Steve was the beginning of my speaking journey. And you may record a story actually because I shared it in a chapter in my book and it was when I got invited for my first paid speaking. I’d never done that before. I mean, I’ve done free talks before, but this was my first paid speaking. 

Steve Rush: Yeah. 

Simon Alexander Ong: And so, I prepared rigorously for the delivery. I had notes, I had bullet points on what I wanted to cover. And I made my way to the event, which was held in Canary Wharf in London. It was at the top of one of these skyscrapers and fifty minutes before we were about to start, I checked him with the team. I said, are we all good? Can they see my slides? Does the tech work? And everything was okay. And then as I started to put my notes on the keyboard of my laptop so that I can reference them throughout the delivery, I noticed that in my rush, out of my house, I brought with me the wrong set of notes, i.e., the wrong set of paper.

And suddenly I was thinking, do I continue? Or do I stop. 

Steve Rush: One of those moments, isn’t it? 

Simon Alexander Ong: Where your kind of like, well, I didn’t expect this. And so, I had to really regroup myself. And just for context, keep in mind this wasn’t like a Ted Talk that was only 20 minutes long. This was a 90-minute workshop. So, this was a lengthy delivery, but I stayed there, and I followed through and delivering to the audience. And if there’s anything I took from that experience, Steve, it’s how to buy time when you need time to think about what you’re going to say next [laugh].

Steve Rush: Yes. I’ve been there many times.

Simon Alexander Ong: And so, I remember a point saying to the audience when I needed the space to think what was going to come next, because I didn’t have my notes with me. I would say things such as well. I would like you to take a moment now to turn to the person to the left and right of you and share your thoughts to what I just asked. And I would give them around five or six minutes or so. And I would use that time to think about what I’m going to say next, or what was I meant to say next? And so that taught me how to speak when things don’t always go your way but also to speak without notes. And I think that has served me well since then, Steve.

Steve Rush: Super example. So, the last thing we get to do is give you the opportunity for a bit of time travel. 

Simon Alexander Ong: [Laugh]. 

Steve Rush: And you can bump into Simon at twenty-one and give him some words of wisdom. Now, what do you think that might be?

Simon Alexander Ong: So much to share so much to tell Steve. I think the first thing that comes to mind, if I were to sit in front of that twenty-one Simon would be trust what your heart is telling you more than the approval of others. Because listen to your heart may not always get you to where you want to be, but it will always get you to where you need to be.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Simon Alexander Ong: And it’s far better spending a time doing that than it is seeking validation from people who don’t really care about your success.

Steve Rush: It’s an interesting use of phraseology as well, listening to your heart because actually people argue, you probably have people at the end of their devices now going, how do you listen to someone’s heart? The irony of what you’ve just described actually is listen to your energy. Meta physicians around the world will tell you that that’s what’s happening. It’s the energy, right?

Simon Alexander Ong: Definitely because that’s why I described in the second, I think it’s the second or the third chapter that the longest journey we make as humans are the inches for my heads to our hearts.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Simon Alexander Ong: And the reason, it’s never an easy journey because as you say, Steve, it’s really about listening to our body and our energy. And some of us got the opportunity to do that when the world was in lockdown, because when you couldn’t go outside, the only place you could go was inside. 

Steve Rush: Yeah, that’s right.

Simon Alexander Ong: And so, as we reflected at a deep level about where we were in life and whether we were doing this sort of work, that brought fulfillment, it made many of us question what our next set of actions would be.

Steve Rush: Mm-Hmm.

Simon Alexander Ong: And I think a lot of that did contribute to this experience that is going on in America. And I’m pretty sure elsewhere in the world called the great resignation because people are now awakening to the fact that maybe I should give what I really want to do a shot. 

Steve Rush: Yeah, and we’re seeing that everywhere in every walk of life, which is really fascinating too. So, what’s next for you then Simon? What’s on the cards?

Simon Alexander Ong: [Laugh]. So, for me, I’m just enjoying as much as I can now, Steve, the book being out in the world, seeing in people’s hands. I’m due to speak in India next month, next month, being June. So doing a free city tour and then Dubai in September. And I’m going to start thinking about book number two, because I’m already flush with lots of ideas on the back of this book. And so, join us for a moment, Steve, and then I I’ll slowly see what’s next.

Steve Rush: Fantastic. Sounds like episode number two for you.

Simon Alexander Ong: [Laugh]. Indeed, indeed.

Steve Rush: So, Simon, where can our listeners get a copy of Energize and tap into the great resources that you’re putting out to the world right now?

Simon Alexander Ong: Sure. So, to learn more about the book and purchase a copy. You can head to That is energized with a Z. And if you would like to connect with me or ask any questions on the back of this conversation, then you can find me on all social media platforms. But the two that I use the most are LinkedIn and Instagram in which my handle is at @Simonalexandero.

Steve Rush: Simon, thank you ever so much for coming and join us on the show. I am pretty certain that there is a massive opportunity around a corner for you. You are putting great energy out there and I’m certainly benefiting from it personally. So, thank you for that, and thank you for coming on the show and being part of our community.

Simon Alexander Ong: Steve, thank you so much and very grateful to have been invited onto your show. 

Steve Rush: Thanks Simon.


Steve Rush: I want to sign off by saying thank you to you for joining us on the show too. We recognize without you, there is no show. So please continue to share, subscribe, and like, and continue to get in touch with us with the great new stories that we share every week. And so that we can continue to bring you great stories. Please make sure you give us a five-star review where you can and share this podcast with your friends, your teams, and communities. You want to find us on social media. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter @leadershiphacker, Leadership Hacker on YouTube and on Instagram, @the_leadership_hacker and if that wasn’t enough, you can also find us on our website Tune into next episode to find out what great hacks and stories are coming your way. That’s me signing off. I’m Steve Rush, and I’ve been your Leadership Hacker.

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