Malaysia’s Billi Lim (known as worlds 1st. failure Guru) willingly admits that he was born into the lower ranks of society, among people who spoke rudely where “bad” and “dirty” words were the order of the day. He was born on 29th. November 1950 into a family of 14 children. His father was a butcher and his mother an ordinary housewife. His childhood was tough and there wasn’t a day that went by without one of his brothers, sisters or even his mother being scolded or beaten up by his father. May be it was that tough upbringing that taught him to take the knocks and survive.
His first failure was an inability to speak English although he had studied the language for seven years at school. One day he was mimicking a teacher in the form of a Grand Prix commentary “Mr. Tan is coming around the corner now. Unfortunately he was overheard. When the teacher came into the classroom, he asked, “Who was it that was mimicking me?” Billi hid his head in embarrassment as he had the reputation for being a good student.
The teacher pointed at the boy behind him and yelled “Was it you?” The boy was quick to reply, ‘No sir, it was him Billi,” pointing directly at Lim. Billi’s legs became so heavy. The teacher came up to Billi and gave him a slap across the face. Then he was in Class 5. Nobody had ever been slapped before in Class 5 and he made history. Billi just couldn’t understand why he had been slapped for such a minor offence. He stood up wanting to protest, but words just wouldn’t come out. He was dumbfounded and that made him feel worse.
That evening Billi went home and wrote down on a piece of paper what exactly he wanted to say. Rewrote again so he would be word perfect for the next morning. The next day he was given permission to talk. He stood up, opened his mouth but unable to deliver even a word. That day Billi decided that he must battle to overcome his deficiency in spoken English. It took two months but he did it. This victory showed the way to earn his living.
Billi started his own network marketing company in 1987. After a short while their turnover had reached one million Ringgit a month, a lot in those days. When they found a problem in their system they were forced to close despite being a household name. He had lost face and was close to suicide. To make things worse, his girlfriend left him at the same time. It’s strange that he managed to cope with the financial failure but couldn’t get over the emotional loss so easily. He admits that he was immature in personal relationships but still thinks that she is the right girl for him. That failure forced several members of his team to leave the company. They went on to be successful managers while Billi was going nowhere. Being looked upon as something of a Guru, he didn’t like to ask others for help.
Two years later he started another company on the same basis quite easily. This time the problem was not the system but partners who became complacent. They finally sold the company in 1993 and by 1996 he got all his money out of the business. Being cash rich he decided to invest in the stock market just before the market crashed. Billi felt victimized why all this misfortune was happening to him. One day he was invited to speak at a convention as he had gained a reputation for being a motivational speaker. His fellow speakers had chosen all the success stories to talk about, so Billi decided to talk on “Dare to Fail.”
Everybody has the right to love a fellow being but he doesn’t have the right to expect that love to be returned. The number of people we meet and where we meet them will determine whether or not we can find the right person. If we stay at home there is no way to meet the right person. A human being is capable of loving a lot of people but the conventions of our society are such that we are expected to be monogamous. There was a lady he met who had split from her boyfriend after dating 10 years. He told her, “Good luck to you.” It’s better to realize it’s not going to work before they are committed to marriage. Having done so it is time for them to move on. Get out and find the next right person.
People don’t like failure and think only success follows success. But Billi insists that we must experience failure. Some successful parents steer their children on the right path and deny them the opportunity to learn from mistakes. Because of the pain of failure one never forgets the experience.
There is a big difference between success and a goal. Success is a journey towards achieving a goal. Failing is a part of that journey and the experience is coping with it. People don’t want to accept it because society glorifies the achievement while overlooking the effort that is put into it. Billi would like society to look at what a person has done to achieve something
His aim is to making people live for the sake of studying, not studying for the sake of living. Education should groom a person to have all the necessary skills and realization of the person, rather than just reading dead books. Education has been hijacked by industry to prepare a person to fit the labels it dictates. Never thinks about the rights and entitlements of people and never makes the individual bring out his maximum potential.
Asians overvalue the importance of paper qualification. Billi believes that we should not allow our qualifications to determine our income. In the real world, performance is more important than a qualification. Some bosses will say, “If you aren’t up to the job then I’ve already overpaid you.” When they are overqualified and jobs are scarce they won’t take a lower paid job. In the selection process, paper qualifications are just a way of sifting through applicants to see who will fit the basic job specifications. The final selection has little to do with qualification, it’s their performance that counts.
As an example, when Billi’s business failed he ran out of money and decided to apply for a job. He had been in multi level marketing and applied for a sales and marketing manager’s job in the retail sector where he had no experience. During the interview four or five experienced marketing people gave him test cases. They were so impressed with his replies that they offered him the job. Even though he was unemployed Billi still told them he wasn’t available for 14 days and asked for a 10% increase in the pay offer. Within just six months he learned the ropes of supermarket retailing.
Before anything happens an individual must dare to dream, everything starts from having an idea. It’s important, never dismiss a dreamer. Martin Luther King’s “I’ve had a dream…” speech must be the perfect example. The process people go through is to learn, re-learn and, when things no longer work, un-learn that way of doing things. Mind set is very important. Don’t let past experiences cloud your mind in the way you approach life.
What about the critics of the prime minister ? “A tree in a forest that stands above the rest”, he explains, “gets all the wind as a natural process. If you stand out as a leader you must take it as natural law.”
Billi’s hair became the barometer of the economy as part of a “Tough Get Going” seminar. For his part he did something other than talking, had his hair cut ! Until the economy recovers, his hair will not grow. The shaved area represents the first bond, the cropped hair the second bond and his ponytail the blue chips. He coloured it yellow for the golden year of the snake. After a while he got stuck with the gimmick and it has become his trademark.
To relax, he goes to a spa, takes a warm bath and an oil massage, usually once a week. While his mind can go on forever, his body is weak and it becomes tense. After the massage he feels so calm and relaxed. He has a masseur who knows exactly how to make him relaxed.
While not a real music enthusiast Billi likes inspirational music like Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love of All” and Michael Jackson’s “We are the World” songs with meaningful lyrics. He can’t handle hard rock or MTV. His choice of music to relax by would be Richard Clayderman.
Lake Tuba is his favourite holiday destination. The air there was so fresh and the beauty of the area had a great impact on him, both spiritually and emotionally. He once took a boat and had a picnic in the middle of the lake. Another is Hawaii and its elements of wind and water. He thinks it must be Feng Shui, not the beach, as he prefers to swim in a pool. But Billi admits to being a real urban dragon and loves living in the city environment.
Billi turned 99% vegetarian as his tastes changed overnight six or seven years ago. He is fond of to read OSHO books. He loves tofu and Thai food. When he can find it he enjoys a simple Malay dish, without too much oil. But it’s hard to find as Malays tend to eat at home and there are few restaurants with that style of cooking. He doesn’t eat Korean & Indian food and complains that in Europe all he can eat is spaghetti.
Last year Billi has given more than 30 motivational lectures with audiences ranging from 1000 people to 10,000. So far 600,000 copies of his book “Dare to Fail” have been sold. But that is just in the 10 countries of Southeast Asia. When sales of the book go global later this year he is predicting in excess of ten million. In the course of his lecture circuit Billi Lim has met with many world leaders. Among them Dr. Mahathir (Malaysian Prime Minister) & Atal Bihari Vajpayee (Former Prime Minister of India) were who impressed him the most. The other leaders he likes are former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Mahatma Gandhi and former South African President Nelson Mandela. He is planning to start his popular talk show Dare To Fail with big-B (Amitabh Bachchan) shortly in India.
CEO – QFORD