How Your Mentality Affects Your Personal Finances, with Diane Yeung, a certified life coach

Episode summary

Diane explains how your primal instincts, social conditioning, and money beliefs might be affecting your personal finances.

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Episode transcript

Philipp: Welcome to another episode of In Your Best Interest, your personal finance podcast. I'm your host Philipp Muedder, and with me today is Diane. Diane helps female professionals organise their time, lives, and money. She's also the co-founder and CEO of Shellify.co, a new planet-friendly packaging brand serving small businesses in Asia. Before all this, Diane was with Alibaba Group for over a decade - raising funds for the group, including its US and Hong Kong IPOs. In her free time, she enjoys having existential conversations with her kids - including talking to her kids about personal finances. We’ll cover that later. Welcome to the show, Diane.

Diane: Thanks for having me.

Philipp: Yes. It's really exciting for all the listeners. Maybe some of you know our Group Deputy Chief Investment Officer and Hong Kong Country Manager at StashAway, her name is Stephanie. She introduced us to Diane, and she's good friends with her, so it's going to be a very exciting talk today. maybe you can give us a little bit of a background, like what was life growing up, where did you grow up, and kind of what maybe your first kind of money experiences were when it comes to personal finances? 

Diane: I was born and raised in Hong Kong. I went to a boarding school in the UK and I received my college and Masters degrees in the United States. [02:00] My parents were in education - my mum was an art teacher for secondary schools and my dad works for the education department as a school inspector. So, growing up I had zero exposure to entrepreneurship nor investing. I was taught the best way to make money was to get good grades and into a good university - to become a professional and then to work hard in an established company until you retire. My parents were super intentional in ensuring that I don’t spend time worrying about my finances until after college - so that I would be completely focused on my education and schoolwork. And I remember I was taught making money off people was bad - In primary school, my friend sold me a nice Japanese cartoon pen. My mum found out about it and called my friend’s mum and my friend was told never to do that again. It was a pretty controlled exposure to money.

Philipp: I know we mentioned in your intro already a little bit that, at some point, you went to Alibaba. But before Alibaba, I know, and maybe the listeners don't know yet, but you were in finance, right? There's, I think, a little bit of corporate finance, but also more on the investment side of things, right? How did that come to be?

Diane: Yes, not really investment, but like M&A acquisitions for corporations at HSBC.

Philipp: [04:00] So, is that something you studied already in school? Or how did you fall into that finance world?

Diane: So, I always wanted to save the world, like do something meaningful - making an impact in the world. So I actually did my degrees in environmental engineering and sciences. And after I graduated, I actually became an engineering consultant in the San Francisco Bay area. 

But then, after 2 years in the job, I realised I actually don't enjoy so much the day-to-day of being an engineer. Meaning, remember I was designing the water filtration plant in Santa Clara or something. 

And then like the planning would be a 20 years of strategic planning. And then most of your time is like really fleshing out every nitty-gritty detail of the water treatment plant. So it's very different from what I study, which is multidisciplinary like every semester is something different. 

So it's a little bit slower pace as I would imagine; I was in my 20s.  Like that wasn't what I was looking for when I was in my 20s. So I decided, I guess it's just a decision, like let's go back to Hong Kong and see what it is - what's there for me. When I came back to Hong Kong, and then I'm like, OK, so what do I do now? And I look around; what majority of my peers do in Hong Kong, it's in some form of financial industry-related work. 

And I'm like, oh, I'm pretty analytical, so let's sort this out. So really, not very intentionally, but I know what I don't want, [06:00] and let's figure out. So that's how I got into finance.

Philipp: Yes. Sometimes, life presents you these opportunities by themselves, right? And then you get into the finance industry, and what made you then go into the startup world, right? 

I think we chatted about it last time before we were on the podcast, but I think you joined Alibaba pretty early, right? So probably 10 years ago almost, or more than 10 years ago?

Diane: Yes, beginning of 2011, before its US IPO, it was still doing the pre-IPO fundraising.

Philipp: Still pre-IPO fundraising. What was the thinking behind going from finance now into a more startup consumer-driven company, right?

Diane: Yes. Well, at that time, Alibaba was actually already quite big like Taobao and all that, but it's a private company that not many people know about. And you're right, like I was working in a global bank before Alibaba, and my parents, my friends just don't understand the decision. 

And what prompted me, or like how I made the decision is that my thought process is like this. I have a good feeling after working in a global bank in the M&A department. I have a pretty good feel of what I like and don't like within the finance world. 

And what I remember is I didn't like the hierarchy within a bank; I didn't like that the industry also doesn't resonate with me that much; it's very regulated. [08:00] You are doing a lot of things because of the regulation. 

Philipp: Too many stakeholders, right?

Diane: Yes. So I have a lot of time, so I'm OK. So I kind of like the type of work, but like can I get into a more interesting industry that resonates with myself.

And then this Alibaba opportunity presents itself, I mean it's the internet, Taobao shop, online shopping. It's like the fun stuff.

Philipp: Yes, exciting stuff, right?

Diane: Yes. My friend was working there, exactly the team that was hiring.

So he was able to tell me, well actually, these are the types of investors we are dealing with, and they're all like global, world-class investor groups. And these are the types of advisors on the deals that you'll be working with. So actually, that gives me a lot of comfort after learning more about the company and what they do.

Philipp: And how advanced they were actually already at that point, right?

Diane: Yes. And I mean, it's like no, yes. There were a lot of naysayers when I switched jobs, and also, I took a significant pay cut at the time to jump.

Philipp: Yes, right. That's what you do when you join a startup, right? But there are other opportunities, right? So equity portion, equity stakes, stock options, right? That can make up for it. If you're lucky, right? So it's still not guaranteed, but that's the part of the risk that you take, right? So that you can have these extra benefits along the line. 

And obviously, I have to ask you, apparently, they have this work culture of 9-9-6, right? Almost like through Alibaba, this became even the word, right? This whole 9-9-6. Because I think Jack Ma, he said it before as well, and obviously, he was a hard worker, right? 

And I think if you're in a startup, you have to put in [10:00] your time, equity and sweat because you also have equity in the company. So if everyone has some skin in the game, it obviously breeds that culture, right? 

How did you feel, or how did you experience that? You were there for 10 years plus, right? How did you cope with it? And how did you like it? Did you even think it was a bad thing at all?

Diane: Yes, so that's interesting. I actually don't think that's the culture in Alibaba. Like my experience of the Alibaba culture is very fast-paced, people are very strategic. You ask why a lot and why not a lot. People have fun a lot when doing a lot of hard work. 

So that's what I experienced in the past decade. But yes, you're totally right that it's very demanding, especially in what I did. That it fundraises transactions and IPO.

Philipp: Deadlines, right?

Diane: Yes. Transactions are like a hard deadline, and there are so many parties and stakeholders. And you are the owner who has to make sure everyone is aligned and moves with that pace. So yes, it's very demanding. So I think about how I managed; it all comes back to the mindset of work. 

So I think about two things; the first thing is you need to know why you need to have a strong reason. And my strong reason is that well we're writing history here. Like building Alibaba, making sure it has all the funds it needs to grow into this thing that benefits so many people. 

And I'm the lucky few to happen to exist in this time and space [12:00] who get to be part of all these. So that's one thing that I remind myself all the time, or like I truly believe in it, right? So that's one thing that helps. 

And then I think the other is the concept of this work-life balance. Like our reality is very shaped by our language, right? And you hear work-life balance a lot as if work and life are two separate things. It's mutually exclusive, which I actually don't see it that way because I think that's the wrong way to look at it. So if you're doing something, you're dedicating your time and life to something you really want to work on, well, that's your life. 

So I think that's another set of mindset that I have; that helps. And then the third part of it is the actual implementation, right? Then I had 2 young kids. During the US IPO, I actually was planning my wedding, right? We were listed in September, and my wedding was in November, so I was actually planning throughout. 

So I think the third thing, the third layer is that just to be aware of the perfectionist thinking, or all of nothing thinking that might get into the way. So, for example, as a mum, it's OK to delegate. Like you don't have to be 100% in your kids' stuff. And maybe my work trip would look like my entire family sending me [14:00] off to the airport, and that's that journey, that dinner or whatever in that, it's my family time. Like you got to be creative and combine the activities together a lot. 

And also, my family actually knows all my co-workers, like we're friends like they're all family and friends. And that opens up all the different opportunities, right? Like your work dinner can be your social dinner as well, you can bring your family. So I think it's that “all or nothing”, and just unbundling that with the concept that work and life has to be separate, and I think those thoughts helped me a lot in managing.

Philipp: Yes, I think that's a huge concept, and thank you for sharing that. Because I think, like you said, probably 95% of the population actually wants to view it almost separately, right? 

Hey, I'm at work, I do work stuff, and then I have home stuff, right? And then it becomes very difficult, like you said, to balance it. I have to be 100% present here at that time only, and then 100% present at work in my work hours, right? Versus hey, having everything a little bit fluid. I think maybe COVID actually helped a little bit of that because now you're doing work-life at home. So maybe for some people, it's starting to be arranged a little bit more, and interweaving that a little bit more, right?

Diane: Yes. I'm not saying it will work for everyone, but that serves me. Like being more fluid about that definition, or actually, just throw that definition away. Then actually I remove one constraint from my life, and I can be more flexible with how I plan my time.

Philipp: So Diane, if we switch gears, and we move on from Alibaba, and we talked about a little bit in your bio that you're also a life coach, right? [16:00] And I think that is something I would like to focus on a little bit. 

First of all, how did you become a life coach? Is it something you've been doing already while you were at Alibaba? Or where did you acquire those skills to actually offer life coaching? 

And then, I'm going to ask a second question, and we can go back to that afterwards. Can you also explain a little bit to the audience for those that don't know, right? What a life coach even does, and when would it be appropriate for someone to seek out a life coach.

Diane: Sure. OK, so I thought about going into life coaching last year. So I was going through a period where I was making a decision when to leave my corporate job. And during that period, I explored a lot. Meaning I talked to entrepreneur friends intentionally more about their experiences. 

I listened to so many podcasts. I read a lot of books, and then during that process, I stumbled upon this lady, Brook Castillo, who runs the life coach school in Texas, US. On making decisions, making important decisions in your life, and there's so much wisdom there. 

And it was actually like her work is very helpful for me to make my own decision to leave such a good team, and good job, and wonderful company, right? It's a big decision. And then I find that work so clear and it applies to every problem in my life basically. 

The tools and the framework of life coaching that I decided to [18:00] do the certification. And it's a 6-month certification, and to be honest, to be a life coach, it's not a regulated industry, right?

You're not diagnosing people with disease, or like you're not a doctor, you're not a therapist. So actually, it's not regulated, you don't need to be certified to perform as a life coach, as long as you know the tools and you can deliver value to your clients. 

That's how I stumbled upon life coaching, actually. And why I think it's so important, and I decided to double down, let's do the life coach certification, and let's make it a living. 

Is that it basically ties everything up for me in my life, my own mindset when I was at Alibaba, and also the entrepreneur mindset I saw when I was in Alibaba. And also, the spiritual, religious stuff, I'm not religious, but if you look at all the major religions in the world, the ultimate goal is also to choose unconditional love for everyone, right? 

And actually, with the life coach, life coaching tools and framework of thinking, that's the natural conclusion as well. So this is like something that ties everything for me. And they're like technical stuff that touches on productivity, setting goals and time management. 

So this is like one powerful framework that I think would help me personally, help me in my parenting, and also in whatever [20:00] I set out to do in my life. 

And your second question is about what a life coach does, right? So the approach of coaching that I do is called cultural coaching, which means I show my clients their minds. And so, they realise the cause of their problems, and not just treating the symptoms over and over again and not getting results. 

And in a session, what I would do is, it's typically a 45-minute session, online or in person, doesn't matter. And my most important job is to create a virtual spiritual place so that the client can unload their mind. And in return, receive an honest perspective. And this alone can change the client's life. 

So the analogy is you - have you heard of Marie Kondo, the home organiser, right? - so what Mary Kondo does is organise the house. What I do is help clients organise their brain because there are so many thoughts in your head every day. 

You're a human being with the most sophisticated brain in the world, right? Per day, you have about 60,000 thoughts in your head. Some of them would drag you down, some of them would not. Some of them would serve your life. 

So the process of life coaching is, first of all, discover what are the stories about yourself, about your relationship, about money, about making money, about spending money, about having money, like each aspect of your life. 

And then with that awareness and the mindfulness, then you can, [22:00] maybe, catch yourself when you're thinking those thoughts, and then stop thinking those thoughts when you're thinking the thoughts that don't serve you. Or you can go into the place of intentionality, where before going into a situation, you decide how you want to feel, how you want to think and intentionally create the result that you want. 

So, for example, what we can do in the session is maybe like a client who wants to lose weight, and they might already have a professional personal trainer working on the exercises that are right for the body. They may have a nutritionist planning all the meals already. But the client might be finding it so hard to follow still. 

Or like after the program, the weight bounces back again; it's not sustainable. So what the life coach does in that situation is really to help the client realise all the thought patterns, or even thought errors in the brain that's causing that result. 

So it could be something innocent like, I'm Cantonese, food is family, food is celebration. It's his birthday, of course; I'm going to eat to show love, like all these thoughts. You might not realise it at all, but those are the causes of why you're overeating. And like why you're not managing your urge in your brain. So like, stuff like that. 

And also I guess I can talk a little bit about personal finance as well, like you might have a finance professional or even investment professionals that are very technically sophisticated [24:00] in all the instruments, diversifications, they are like CFA Level 3 whatever. 

But when they manage their own portfolio, they get spooked. Like, oh, the market is very volatile. Oh, it's a downtrend now. Should I, like, to sell everything - and they went on selling everything? Or they didn't have the patience and the calm mind to really stick to the investment that they believe in. And there are many reasons for that. And one of the biggest reasons is that because you are a human being, your brain is made up of two parts. 

One is the prefrontal cortex which is strategic, which is telling you, OK, long term, you have to invest in this, consistency whatever. But also, there's the cavemen or cavewoman part of it that tries to keep you safe. 

That part of the brain that hasn't evolved with our technology and how people live right now - that are still telling you, oh, the market dropped 30% today, let's keep yourself safe and not take on risk and then come back to the cave because there's a tiger out there. 

But the truth is, it’s 2021, and with all this historical evidence, the market goes up, right? Like value gets created in the market. On average, I know like the stat is what like 8% per year-growth, right? It's not going to happen. 

Like if you have an investment, you just invest in the market, it's not going to happen within I don't know, like say, let's say your time frame of 10 years or 20 years, it will grow, it won't become zero. [26:00] 

So a life coach can help you realise those thoughts, it could be the thoughts from your primitive brain, or your social conditioning, or concepts that you grew up with that doesn't serve you anymore, it might be like money beliefs your parents told you about that you bring with you, but that might be in your way to your financial goals.

Philipp: And that's the big one, right? That what I always hear when I do financial planning sessions with clients, right? A lot of times, that comes up, right? 

When I ask them, hey, because a lot of times I feel like in Asia as well there's a little part of investment, but it's more like individual stocks, a little bit of gambling mostly, and then there's a lot of cash savings. But not actually invested, right? It's a lot of cash. 

So the savings rate is always very high when you - I lived in the US for 12 years as well and worked there in finance in wealth management. And it's not so much cash there; they like to take on debt a lot, right? But they do invest in the US. 

Whereas when I came to Asia, it was always when I did my first financial planning session, and I'm like, oh wow, like 90% of your net worth is in cash. If we take out your primary residence, right? Because especially in Singapore, Hong Kong, primary residence, it makes up a large part of your net worth, right? But then I always ask them: what about the cash? It's like, oh yes, we're always saving, but we're not investing for a variety of reasons. 

But a lot of times also comes back to how you grew up, right? And if parents didn't invest, right? Or if your parents also just saved all the time but not invested, that mindset is ingrained. And then that would be interesting to hear from your point of view, then. How do you get that out, right? How do you get people to invest, or how do you get them to overcome that?

Diane: Yes. So though, the process is the same for [28:00] weight loss or growing money or growing a business or working on your relationship with your mother. Like it's the same process. Clear out, like organising the house, empty your brain; what do you think about all these aspects? Empty it. 

You might be surprised when you actually write it down: your thoughts about your money or your money goals, how you think about spending, how you think about investing. And then we work from there. 

And then the second step is then what do you want? And it's so interesting. People always say, oh yes, money is important; that's like the top 3 priorities of my life. Like my family, my wealth and my health, typically these 3, right? But then when you ask them, what is your number? 

They would mutter something, and it's so clear they don't have one; they haven't thought about it. Then if you don't have a goal, then how do you know which route to take right? So the next stage is also like building the, developing the intentionality once you have the awareness of your beliefs and how it's creating your current result. Then the second stage is happening, and then where do you want to go, yes.

Philipp: Yes, that's interesting. I think you're right, especially when I do financial planning with people. And they're all smart people, right? They're in tech companies; they have super good jobs, high incomes, and are busy, though, right? Working a lot in their job. 

And so they know they save more than they spend, [30:00] so that's great, right? But when you show them for the first time the number that it takes to retire and to live off that you need in order to not go back to work. And it's a bigger number than 99% of the people will think it is, right? 

It's a much bigger number than you think it is, then it becomes real, right? I always tell them, hey, if you write these things down, if you write down your financial goals, your life goals go with that as well, right? And you keep the track of, like, your net worth over time, right? It makes it real. 

And you slowly see progress being made, and I think that's super powerful. I think for me, that's always working on a personal finance side with people, writing it down, checking in with them, right? On a quarterly basis. 

Just so that because they're busy, and I know you're busy, but this is the number you still need to know, and then they feel much more in control, right? Because when they first come there, they have a number in the back of their mind, they also know roughly what their net worth is, they all don't know exactly until they see it in paper. 

But then they feel so much more in control, like oh yes, I should have looked at this before, right? Now it makes all sense. So that's always that. So it goes a little bit hand in hand, right?

On the personal finance coaching with the life coaching, so I think it's great if, for you to go there, then you go obviously a lot deeper into why those minds and beliefs were actually established back in the days, right? Where they come from, because they're not new, right? They've been established over their whole life, right? From young, their career, college everything, right?

Diane: Yes. I think people are very in tune with how they want to spend money, like, oh, I buy this, and I feel good. They're very like they know that very clearly. But oh, how much money can I have, or how much do I want to create? That is something that people just don't know; it's like [32:00] our education system or also like the belief system. 

Or talking about money too much is evil, or like it's not so dramatic, but it might be just a little voice in your head that says, oh, I got a good job, I don't need to spend time looking at that. 

Look around, all these lawyers and investment bankers, they make a good living, they will do well. I would do well, too; I just follow the path. But actually, if you are more intentional, there’s more flexibility, like let's design the goal, let's go there. Like you might be able to retire earlier than you thought if you're intentional.

Philipp: Especially, or like we talked about this before, finding the why in your job, right? Not everyone is able to do that, right? Or not there yet. Hopefully, they should maybe come speak to you, right? But some people are not as passionate about their job, so it's a means to an end, right? 

And then, especially then, you need to really know that number to hit so that you're financially free at that point. And then you can do whatever you want, and maybe that's working at a non-profit and taking an 80% pay cut, right? And then you can do that, right? But knowing is the first step, right? 

Understanding, and then you can develop that plan on how to get there. So that, to me, is always super important when it comes to the personal finance side. Diane, I know we have a little bit of time left, but I do want to touch a little bit on the personal finance side a little bit more, and more when it comes to yourself. 

So you have experience in the financial industry, then obviously you worked at a tech startup which went to an IPO, so you also have a lot of experience on that side of things. How do you personally develop your [34:00] personal finance strategy with your husband together? I assume or as a family, what does that look like roughly?

Diane: So, I keep it very simple and manageable. Like it's very related to what I like doing. What I don't like doing is, oh, I need to keep track of the quarterly results. Slice and dice, and justify why I'm in this investment. So what I do is actually I follow what I believe in; I spend a lot of time understanding the management, how they think about the future. 

So I listen, like when I research an industry or a company, what I do is not to go read the quarterly stuff, or like research reports or whatever. I actually go to the podcast of the management interview to see if I’m aligned with their thinking and whether I do see the future that they are seeing. 

So what I'm doing now is purely equities, well stock and ETFs, mostly stock. I keep in my portfolio about 30 different stocks or ETFs. I like equities because they're highly liquid and have good growth. And these are, like all these tech sectors, it's something that I can believe in, and I can see like 20, 30 years that's the future. 

I keep an excel spreadsheet which I look at monthly; I don't look at it every day. And when I want to diversify, which I actually did, when I leave Alibaba, I should do some rotation. I do it weekly, regardless [36:00] of what the stock price is. 

So I keep it really simple, like OK, this is where I want to get to. Like let's do it in a quarter, so divide it by the number of weeks, then this is how much I have to sell each week on Tuesday night; I randomly picked it. And yes, so that's how I do stuff, and for most of the time, I actually don't check the ups and downs a lot. And I can be peaceful and at ease because these are the companies with management that I believe in.

Philipp: Yes. So they are long-term investments, right? So you don't create them as you say, hey, oh I think they're only good for 1 year. You look at it, it's a 5-10 year plan, 20 maybe even.

Diane: Yes. So most of my stuff is in investment; I keep very little cash. Maybe 1 to 2 years' expenses, that's it.

Philipp: Yes. And I think that's a good way to think about it in years or in how many months that you might need, especially from your side you went from a daily, monthly paid job to now entrepreneurship, right? 

So that's new for you as well. So obviously, that's a good thing if you want to do that. That you take 1 or 2 years’ at least of expenses so that you can really try it out without having that money pressure at the same time. 

So thank you for sharing that on how you invest yourself. Any best investments you ever made or maybe the worst investment you ever made that you could share with us?

Diane: Worst ones, let's talk about the worst ones.

Philipp: Worst are the best because you learn from them, so there we go.

Diane: Yes. So it's like the investment in external things [38:00] to make myself feel happier; those are the bad investments, I think, like investment in time and energy. So it could be like in my 20s, investing way too much time in Lan Kwai Fong or like buying too… When I was working in Central in banks, I basically invested too much in overpriced clothes and bags, so that I felt glamorous. 

Like these are the things, if I have to reflect those at the time I thought of as investments. Like oh, this is investment in my personal brand. Like, oh, I look more professional. Or like investments in establishing this social network in Lan Kwai Fong. 

You know, like those are the things that I think I might have spent too much time and resources on, and the return isn't as high. And then the best investment is in myself. So things like exercising, eating vegetarian food, like these are the investments that I think have the highest ROI. 

Investing in my kids, spending time with my kids, the return may not be quantified by a number, but it's the basis of everything. How happy I feel every day, how content I am. How I can have the energy to do stuff I want to do and the difficult stuff, right? Scary stuff. I think this is an answer that you might not have expected, but that's my true answer.

Philipp: No, it's a true answer; that's what we want to hear. Diane, that's awesome. And last but not least, I did say at the beginning I do want to get back to this because you said you love having existential conversations [40:00] with your children, right? 

When you said that, I can imagine some of them. But are any of them related to personal finance? Or how are you teaching your children about money at all? Have you already started that because I've been asking a lot of the guests that question because it comes up a lot when you talk to parents. 

They ask, like, so at what point should I start talking to them about money? Or if you have a lot of money as well, right? When do you tell them, but they're still motivated to go to school and to go work, right? It's with your life coaching expertise, probably, too. This will come up quite a bit. So how do you do it personally?

Diane: Yes. So I think there are 2 parts to your question; the first part is about existential questions about the kids. So it's actually tied back to the same thing, like really being intentional about helping them learn about how to question everything they hear or see, right?

Like it could be, I'm reading a story, which most stories in your 5-minute bedtime storybook ends with lived happily ever after. So they lived happily ever after. And then I just be the nagging repetitive mom; whenever I read that out, I would also tell them that's not true, that is like bullshit. 

Life is always 50/50 no matter what you do and where you are. You could be very successful according to your own standard, or you could be very, like, in a miserable place. But wherever you are it’s 50/50. You can always find your happiness; you can always find the discomfort that comes with life [42:00] because it's just life. 

So that's one thing I do, and then there are also other things I do, like basically what you see in school reading books, like watching on TV, the media what they tell you, right? So my son is having the K3 graduation coming up soon, and they have this really nice graduation song that they will perform. 

And it all starts with the lyrics goes like this, because of you, I can be the best self I want to be. Because of you, I promise something; I can look, because of you I can climb the mountains and cross the wide sea, right? Nice song, right? 

But I also like to be quick to call out; that is all bullshit. You should change all the lyrics to Because of Me. Like at the end of the day, it is your choice, like human beings have free will, right? Whether you do or not. 

Like I can say, oh, you should climb the mountain, you should climb the wide sea, that's like the best thing to do. But it's at your discretion to decide whether you do it or not. So like the nuances that I see now, I would always call them out and tell my children. Whether they might get like 20% of it, or they might just remember, it's just a saying from my mom. But I think, like, over time, that would help the kid build up this mentality to always ask why and why not.

Philipp: And that's a good thing to ask, right? Because people are also scared to ask these questions a lot, right?

Diane: Yes. If you want to create new things in the world, like the next Tesla car or the next Alibaba marketplace platform that no one has seen before, then you really shouldn't be bogged down [44:00] by these conditioning that you see everywhere in the world.

Philipp: Yes, super awesome.

Diane: And then your next question is about teaching kids about money. So my kids are still pretty young; I do talk to them about money, like, oh this is an exchange like a transaction is a fair exchange, and there's no like judgment whether something is bad or not, just trial and error. 

So I haven't actually been consistently doing a lot on the money side or investing side with them yet. But it could be something like, so my kids, my son, you know how boys are, they are very focused and obsessed with one toy at a time. So it was like Thomas the Tank Engine, and then it's this Japanese Shinkalion, have you heard of it?

Philipp: No.

Diane: No, OK. It's basically this rail, Japanese rail, the MTR in Japan. And then they make a cartoon out of it, where they would transform into robots.

Philipp: OK.

Diane: So that, and then now he's playing Beyblades, right? So now he realises when he's focused on the now, what he's interested in, he would forget all the stuff. Like he doesn't even care about the Shinkalion, he doesn't care about Thomas. So one day, he has an idea, he's like, mommy, can I sell all my old toys to get the money to get more Beyblade, right?

Philipp: That's very good; that's a good start right there.

Diane: Yes. So I'm like, well, that's wonderful, and I should support him. Like instead of saying, oh, you shouldn't think about [46:00] this like making money off other people as a bad thing. I actually like to encourage him to find out more. 

And then I talk to the school, ask the teacher, like can we do something secondhand selling and he let him do his thing, and in a safe, controlled way, right? So I guess it all comes down to not having judgment, being very aware, not having a judgment on what money is. 

I think that's the best thing a parent can do to the kid. Because really money is just money, it's just numbers. And the exchange is always fair. Like you don't need to put in all that like emotion, drama. 

If I make a lot of money, then some people will suffer. And like it's not a zero-sum game. At the end of the day, like if you create value, you create money. And historical evidence is that value can grow and grow and grow and grow and grow continuously.

Philipp: Yes, that's great advice. I'm really happy that you shared that with us, so thank you, Diane, for that. While we wrap it up, Diane, I wanted to ask, what's the best way for people to reach out to you? If they're interested in coaching, or if they're interested to get in touch with you about that. What would be the best way for them to do that?

Diane: Check out my website; I just put it up dianeyeung.com.

Philipp: Diane, thank you so much for spending this time with us, and we're really happy to have you on.

Diane: Thanks for having me; I really enjoy the conversation. And I hope this mindset stuff can help more people in Hong Kong.

Episode notes

In this episode, Diane Yeung shares her journey from Alibaba to becoming a certified life coach and how you can improve your money mentality.

For past guests, visit stashaway.com/podcast

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Episode contributors

  • Diane Yeung (Certified coach from The Life Coaching School)
  • Philipp Muedder (Head of Financial Planning at StashAway)