MY STORY: from a qualified accountant to a personal trainer and now, a digital entrepreneur.

So, my corporate to digital entrepreneur story has been long-time coming and have been on my to-do-list for a long time (read: 6 months ago). 

I’ve tried to film it at least 5 times but they were always too long and just never turned out the way I wanted it to be. 

Rather than making my 27028032th excuses on why I still can’t publish my story into the world wide wide, here I am sitting in a cafe in Ubud, embracing the humidity and sweating buckets, typing out all the nitty gritty of my journey. 

I mean there’s no better place to get connected to my inner self and be vulnerable right? 😂 

Looking back, I think it was just my perfectionism kicking in, trying to structure it the way I want to be or rather how I think it should be. 

This is going to be one fucking long story, there might be many repetitive words (because I ain’t no writer).

mol

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The main objective of this story is to share my very own journey, how long it took for me to get to where I am today and hopefully, it resonates with you and inspires you to start creating a life of your dreams, on your own terms and find fulfilment in the work you do. 

I have included a brief timeline in my story below, to give you an idea of how long the journey takes. 

The journey never stops - you just discover new things, new interests, new pathway, learn from experiences and most importantly, getting to know yourself better. 

It is not going to be a smooth journey, let me tell you that. In fact, you’re probably going to get mind-fucked in every possible way, lotsa doubts, lotsa roadblocks, lotsa challenges. But, it is going to be worth it in the end. 

And if there’s only ONE takeaway to give you today - it will be

“Everything happens for a reason.
Trust the timing of your life” 

I really do believe that every step that I took during my career has played its part and every event (both the good and the bad) has contributed to what I do today. 

 
Kelingking Beach, Nusa Penida, October 2018.Ⓒ Not So Basic Life

Kelingking Beach, Nusa Penida, October 2018.Ⓒ Not So Basic Life

 

University

Whilst university was pre my corporate career, it did play an important role in shaping me into the person I am today and I wouldn’t be able to do what I do today if it wasn’t for my university life and experience. 

When people asked me, why did you choose Australia?

I don’t know, I just knew it was where I am meant to be. There were no reasons behind it. I just knew, deep inside my young 17 year old heart. 

I did everything I could to make my dream a reality (completing 4302840329 university applications and scholarships) - I was offered partial scholarships by the University of Newcastle and University of Wollongong but I ended up opting for the University of New South Wales (as they are well known for their commerce degree). Being able to pursue my tertiary education in Australia is a privilege that I am forever grateful (towards my parents) for.

Having grown up in an Asian education system, we were taught not to ask questions. I was always the “talkative” one and all my teachers used to tell me (and my parents) that I should be a lawyer not because I was smart or capable but simply because I talk too much. #truestory 

The reason why I said moving across countries for university was a huge contributing factor to who I am today was because it allowed me to grow as a person, freely, without the need to “fit in a certain mould” or what “I should be doing”. I had a part-time job when I was in university (which was pretty rare amongst the other international students because “your studies always come first”) but I learnt a whole lot of soft skills (and politics) which prepared me for the corporate life!

Oh, and this bogan Australian accent of mine?

Might have picked it up during my 3 years stint working as a market research interviewer in a call centre 😉 

I guess what I am trying to say here is - I am not your typical Asian kid (I am still pretty good with numbers tho 😉) Moving to Australia has really allowed me to explore the overly-enthusiastic and crazy side of me. I could go so much deeper into this (on the struggles of breaking out of the typical asian mole, family and friends’s influence etc…and how to get in tune and reconnected with your inner self) but let’s keep this for another day otherwise this article might turn into a book. 

OH - I did graduate with a Bachelor of Commerce (majoring in Accounting and Finance) *surprise surprise* so let’s move on to the next chapter of my life. 

To all my UNSW homies, who else remembers Henry Yip?

To all my UNSW homies, who else remembers Henry Yip?

#AccountantLife

Like many Commerce (and Asian) graduates, I had the corporate dream.

My corporate ladder vision looks something like this:

become an auditor, get my Big4 experience, become a qualified Chartered Accountant, move into a commercial role, become a financial controller and eventually CFO of a multinational company.

Let me give you a hint - I have only one achieved one of these. 

I started off my career as a Corporate Restructuring, Recovery and Insolvency accountant back in 2010. Not quite what I was planning out for but hey, I turned out alright. 

Just putting this out there, I am one of the very few who don’t actually hate accounting. In fact, I quite liked it. 😂 

I actually loved my corporate life (and continued so for a good 5 years) - the social life, the parties, the people (minus the asshole bosses), the dress up and the “prestige” (that was my definition of success back then). 

If I had a good leader and team, I might be very well on my pathway of pursuing my corporate dream of becoming a financial controller or CFO of a company today. 

 
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It was also during this time that I decided to start a beauty blog. I really enjoyed sharing my stories and writing back in the days and had a personal (read: party and rant blog) during my university days but decided to make that private because #iamnowaprofessional

I had to find something of interest/ a topic to write about and somehow I stumbled upon the beauty industry. When I started this blog, it acted as my creative outlet, a reason for me to experience different make up and most importantly, all the cool, exclusive parties that I was invited to 😝 I had no intention of running my own business then nor was I thinking of “mastering a myriad of marketing skills” and becoming a marketing consultant 8 years later. I was just having fun back then but it has became one of the contributing reason to be able to do what I do today. 

Who would have known that this blog really was the stepping stone to what I do today.

It opened my eyes to the world of freelancing, online business and entrepreneurship.

It allowed me to learn and test out different things in the marketing field.

It connected me to people whom I still keep in touch with till this day.

Most importantly, it got me into the habit of researching and reading up on all the topics above, which was instrumental to the success I have today. 

The takeaway here:

It doesn’t matter if you have no idea about what you want to do right now. Don’t force yourself and think that you need to have everything figure out from Day 01! Just find yourself a hobby, do something that excites you and makes you feel “you.

Be curious, have an open mind and keep learning.

You will slowly see the signs on what your next step, pathway is. 

Being qualified (as a Chartered Accountant) and transitioning into marketing

Another frequent question that I get ask is - how did you move from being an accountant to marketing? Did you take any additional courses?

I became qualified AND started dabbing into some marketing work when I was working as an analyst in an eCommerce start up. I was hired for my accounting knowledge and my numeric skills but I ended up expanding to areas way beyond that. I was exposed to my first eDM (email direct marketing) campaign, got involved with Responsys (now Oracle), data analysis (SQL and Google Analytics), CRM (I learned how to operate Salesforce and managed a data cleansing project with no prior knowledge).

 
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To give you guys a little context - in order to qualify as a Chartered Accountant, you have to attend classes, pass 5 compulsory modules and complete 3 years of professional work experience with a mentor.

SO, when I started this role, my focus was to get qualified and learn as much as I could from my CA mentor. Lucky for me, I was incredibly fortunate to be able to also worked really closely with the marketing team then and learned a lot from them. 

The takeaway here:

Always say YES to learning and spend time around people who are willing to teach and skill share.

Opportunities are everywhere, you don’t have to go back to school or get another degree to learn new things! You’d be surprised at how easy is it to pick things up and how beneficial it can be for your future career/ business! 

An important thing to note here as well is: even though I was slowly transitioning to marketing at this job and was learning lots about freelancing and online businesses, my career aspiration was still the same.

My vision was still focused on that corporate ladder, except it has changed from CFO to CMO. 

Becoming a Marketing Professional (and a Fitness & Wellbeing Professional) 

I made my “official” transition to marketing in November 2014.

I said “official” because I had the word “marketing” in my job title. This was also another significant milestone in my career as I’ve moved up the “chain”, got myself some fancy ass business cards, it was an ASX-listed company (hello, another step closer to my corporate dream) and my salary was close to 6 figures (which was a pretty sweet deal for me, considering I was only 4 years into my career). 

The irony about this role is - it was my first taste of my corporate dream and career aspiration yet it was also the reason why I have decided to give up on my corporate dream. It made me realise that the corporate route, the hierarchy and the bureaucracy… was not for me. 

Remember what I said about everything happens for a reason?

So did this role. 

During my 1.5 years here, I got a taste of what I thought was my then dream life, learnt and grew so much professionally, met some amazing people and slowly working out what I wanted out of my career and life.

Financially,  I managed to pay off my credit card debt (yes, I know. I was a failed asian and accountant 😂) and funded for my Personal Trainer course. Yes, somewhere along the way, I decided to become a part-time group fitness instructor. 

The takeaway here:

I do believe that you can stay in a “job” for a definite period of time if it checks off one of these:

  • Financial (it pays you well enough to prepare you for your next venture); or

  • Growth (you are learning and expanding on new skills from your job).

The key here is definite - you have to set yourself a deadline before you get too comfortable to follow your heart and dreams.


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    The Last Job Which Paid Me a Salary

    The story is still going? Well, I did warn you at the start that this was quite a journey isn’t it? 😉 

    This was the job that made everything possible! Or rather showed me the possibility of lifestyle by design and how my day would look like with freedom and flexibility.

    I had an incredible boss whom I really looked up to and learnt so many life and business lessons from! He gave me complete freedom on how to manage the team and run the business. In another words, as long as I got my shit done and produced the results, it didn’t matter how and when I did it.

    This had really given me the flexibility to pursue my personal training side-hustle as well as work on my blog.

    This was also the last job which paid me a salary. 

     
    Adeline Er_Not So Basic Life_ Story_Digital Nomad Life_Personal Trainer.JPG
     

    To give you an idea of how I managed my side-hustle with a full-time job, this was how my daily schedule (3 times a week) looked like for 2 months when I first started out as a personal trainer: 

    4:30AM wake up

    5:30AM - 9:30AM personal training at Fitness First

    10:00AM - 6:00PM Go-to work 

    Night Work on my blog (Eat This Burn That)


    Then, this was my schedule when I started teaching bootcamp locally for a year:

    5:30AM wake up

    6:30AM - 7:15AM Bootcamp

    7:45AM - 9:30AM Gym

    10:00 AM - 6:00PM Go-to work 

    Night Work on my blog (Eat This Burn That)

    The takeaway here:

    There’s no such thing as no time or not enough time. It all comes down to how badly you want it and how much are you willing to sacrifice to make your dream a reality.

    Side hustles take a lot of hard work, blood, sweat and tears. But it will totally be worth it in the end!

    If you want it bad enough, you WILL make time for it. 

    To be honest - if it wasn’t for this job, I probably wouldn’t have been able to make the transition so quickly and still be thinking and planning about the jump as opposed to doing it! Thanks to my amazing boss and mentor at that time, he made me realise that I do want to be my own boss and run my own business after all! 

    However - even so, it was still a good 1.5 years later before I made the transition.

    Remember - good things take time!

    Transition Into Freelancing and Taking the leap

    Honestly, I have so much gratitude for My Last Job which allowed me to transition into a freelancer and kickstart that “invoicing life”. I was fortunate enough to work as a consultant for my last company for 6 months which made that transition a whole lot easier, smoothly and organically.

    I started out as a sole trader back in April 2017 but officially became “independent” of my previous role around November 2017. When I share my stories with others, my “making the leap” anniversary falls on July 2017 (if we must get technical here) because that’s when I decided to commit to Eat This Burn That


     
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    Here’s the timeline and breakdown of the key events that happened during the “transition and making the leap period”:

    • I did my first healthy snacks making class at a co-working space (yes, corporate wellbeing was on the cards at one stage)

    • I started Your Digital Ninja because someone I met at the co-working space I was working out of wanted a proposal from me and I figured I needed a website and a brand. No, I didn’t get that gig but Your Digital Ninja is still going today. 

    • I thought that fitness and wellbeing coaching was my calling and decided to focus on Eat This Burn That in July 2017. 

    • I had my first nutritional coaching client, which turned out to be one of my best business buddy of all times who runs this amazing anti agency network - The Efficiency Hub (and still keeps me sane and listen to my moon talk & breakdown till today! Thanks Nat!) 

    • Then, I got a contract gig to drive and managed the digital and social media arm of an Australian beauty magazine in August 2017 (thanks to a friend whom I met from my beauty blogging days - see what I mean about everything happens for a reason and it all comes around a full circle?)

    • I also got my first proper “marketing client” for Your Digital Ninja around August 2017, who is still a client until today! 


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    Be the CEO of your own life, find fulfilment in the work you do so that you can do things that matter to you!

     
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      At this point, I was very certain about wanting to own my business. Location independent, not so much.

      My vision and definition of success then included having a swanky office in the middle Sydney CBD. 

      Some may say that I have absolutely no clue with what I want to do by changing careers or fields so often. 

      But, it is through these experience, through these trial and error that I am slowly discovering what I really want to do. 

      2017 really was the year of experimenting, trying out new things, saying YES to almost everything and just letting the universe guide me to my next journey. 

       
      Kelingking Beach, Nusa Penida, October 2018 Ⓒ Not So Basic Life

      Kelingking Beach, Nusa Penida, October 2018 Ⓒ Not So Basic Life

       

      Location Independent and Becoming a part-time Digital Nomad

      The final quarter of 2017 was probably one of the most transformational time in my life. It topped the list along with moving across the ocean and starting a new life in a new country! 

      I went through a bad break up and went on a study tour in Bali on October 2017 which quite literally changed my life. Not going to lie here, it was the “free trip” that attracted me to sign up rather than the learning and discovery part. 

      But honestly, everything happens for a fucking reason.

       
      Adeline Er_Not So Basic Life_ Story_Digital Nomad Life_Bali 2017.JPG
       

      Read: 4 important lessons I learnt form my recent Bali trip

      Without this trip, I would have never entertained the idea of being location independent, let alone the digital nomad life! 

      Without this trip, NotSoBasic.Life would not have existed and I would not have discovered my purpose and the impact that I want to make. 

      Without this trip, I wouldn’t be in Bali right now (and the fourth time in the past 365 days!

      Without this trip, I probably wouldn’t have “manifested” the best work trip of a lifetime to Hong Kong (which led to the start of my Marketing To China arm of Your Digital Ninja). 

      Without this trip, I probably wouldn’t have gotten over that break up so quickly and realised that it was for the best. 

      This trip gave me the first hand experience of working remotely.

       
      Hong Kong 2017 Ⓒ Not So Basic Life

      Hong Kong 2017 Ⓒ Not So Basic Life

       

      I was creating content and managing the social media accounts of the magazine that I was working for; I also negotiated and closed a deal whilst I was living my jungle life!

      You know what they say about you don’t know what you don’t know?

      I didn’t know that being location independent and working remotely was an option until I have experienced it myself! 

      Read: I survived living in the jungle for 3 nights

      I gotta admit - I got lucky and had the opportunity to discover life on my own terms pretty organically. I met a lot of amazing people at the right time whom had guided me towards the right direction.

      I also have my curiosity and open mind to thank here.

      However, I am not discounting all the hard work I’ve put in over the years in trying new things, in building a blog and an online presence even though I wasn’t sure where it will lead me.

      I was pro-active and going through Facebook groups religiously to seek out new opportunities.

      I am a pretty risk-adverse person but I said YES to things even though it scares the shit out of me. 

      I am also not going to sugar coat this for you - whilst it might seemed like it’s all sunshine and rainbows, beach and coconuts, there were also a lot of heartache and pain, blood, sweat and tears and moments where I just wished I had a 9-5 which pays me $150k a year!

      Watch all related videos:  

      HOW TO BECOME A DIGITAL NOMAD? 4 TIPS TO GET YOU STARTED! 

      LIFE UPDATE

       
      Uluwatu Surf Villa, Uluwatu, October 2018 Ⓒ Not So Basic Life

      Uluwatu Surf Villa, Uluwatu, October 2018 Ⓒ Not So Basic Life

       

      As cliche as it sounds, sometimes you just need to say YES to things and opportunities that are outside your comfort zone.

      Think about what’s the worst that could happen and search for the positivity and possibilities of what COULD happen if you took the chance! 


      Lessons

      Until today, people still ask (including my parents):

      Don’t you think it’s a waste that you’re are not practising as an accountant when you’re a CA? 

      For a very long time, my self-worth and confidence was determined by the job title. Not anymore.

      Whilst I don’t have multiple properties under my name; might have incurred some credit card debt whilst I was trying to figure out the direction of my business and learn more about myself; single AF; going through a breakdown every full moon and having an epiphany moment every new moon - I am grateful to have embarked on this journey. 

      A year on, I survived and am living my best life!

      I don’t have everything figured out yet.

      But, I am slowly moving forward along this journey called LIFE and am fucking loving it.

      Remember,

      YOU ARE THE DESTINY of your own life and YOU CREATE YOUR OWN REALITY! 

       
       
      Conquered my fear and made it to the top of Mt Batur, just in time for the sunrise. Mt Batur, Ubud, October 2018 Ⓒ Not So Basic Life

      Conquered my fear and made it to the top of Mt Batur, just in time for the sunrise. Mt Batur, Ubud, October 2018 Ⓒ Not So Basic Life

       
       

      CARPE FUCKING DIEM


      Download your FREE roadmap and start taking action to design and create the life of your dreams, on your own terms! Be the CEO of your own life, find fulfilment in the work you do so that you can do things that matter to you!

       
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