A multi award winning real estate agent, Shirley Ong loves what she does and gives it her all.
What’s your story?
In my twenties, I was at the top of my career when I switched to real estate as I’d had enough of my corporate job. It was a sudden switch which many people, especially my parents are finding it hard to deal with. As a top NUS student in a successful management position, why would I become a real estate agent? I am glad I made the decision. I now lead the company and part of my portfolio includes bringing developers overseas to Hong Kong, Taiwan and China as well as bringing in huge sales for developers and the company.
What excites you most about your industry?
I have a big heart. While many agents are out to get the best interest rate, I am different. I am extremely satisfied when my client’s needs are met first, when they make the best gain and make money. I am extremely blessed to be given the opportunity to do more than what normal agents can do. I was involved in en bloc development, pitching for developers’ projects, giving local and overseas sales training and bringing developers overseas for roadshows. This portfolio really excites me and I find deep fulfilment in what I do. My own clients are often proud of me because I can achieve so much and yet handle their properties so amazingly well. My reply to their complements is often, “I really love and enjoy what I do, so I give my 100%.”
What’s your connection to Asia?
I have strong connections in Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong and China. This is because I have immersed myself in these countries for more than 10 years. Being well versed in English, Mandarin and Bahasa, I find my job much easier to converse with clients and colleagues. About 60% of my clients are from these countries.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
This is a tricky question and often a debatable question among my clients. I love China and Indonesia and I think it’s easy, flexible and quick to make money but I would have to vote for Singapore. I sincerely thank our forefather Mr Lee K.Y for establishing Singapore to be where it is today. My clients think that Singapore is safe, honest, regulated and a transparent country hence making my work easier. With technology it is so easy to get information to give my clients live updates.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
The best advice I received was from one of my UHNWI contacts who said “Shirley, your commitment and attitude to clients are amazing and you’re not afraid to give. Short term, you appear to be at the losing end. However you are sowing the seeds and in the long run you will reap the fruits.” This encouragement has kept me ongoing for years.
Who inspires you?
Many people inspire me including my family members especially my mother. She is the woman who made me the person I am today. She is super positive and gives me room to make mistakes. Entrepreneurs also inspire me. I love to read about their life journeys and their successes are like vitamin to my soul. As a real estate agent my clients include successful entrepreneurs of which some are multi-millionaires. Chatting with them and learning their life stories are like a steroid injection. Their pains and their past push me forward and often uplift my spirit and inspire me to do better everyday.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I have recently learnt about women’s basic, fundamental reactions towards different circumstances.
I have learnt that I need to pull back on my insecurities such as saying things like, “I can’t do it, I have never done it, what if I fail, maybe another person and will I make wrong choices.” These voices are so subtle and they often impede me from taking something really big, be it a position or a promotion or anything. Imagine, only at this age I discover this part of me is shocking but it is never too late. Moving forward, I will not say “no” to myself so easily. I have learnt to talk to my inner being and encourage myself to move forward.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
If I had my time again, I would probably continue my studies in the medical field and be an aesthetic doctor. I often tell people around me. There is no “What if or if only ” but there is only “fruits and consequences.” Hence I try my best to live and make the best decisions so that I have the right fruits. However even if I made a wrong decision and suffered the consequences, it is okay. I don’t want to be in a position of regret, asking myself, “if only or what if.”
How do you unwind?
I am so blessed to have great buddies and clients. Some clients have turned into my buddies. Having a meal with wine really helps me relax. I like to make the effort once a week to unwind with my friends. Another way I unwind is using Whatsapp or phone calls to keep in touch with my friends. I often travel and whenever I am upset, my buddies are only a phone call away. I am extremely blessed to have them.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Indonesia. That’s where I will visit my relatives. I love the food, shopping – especially the cheap price point, and I love the massages. I love spending time interacting with my relatives as we seldom meet and when they share their life stories they always encourage me.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. This is a basic yet powerful book for any working class individual. It helps you to identify yourself. It helps people understand the mental, emotional and working worlds of men and women. It easy to read but there is depth in the book. I certainly recommend it.
Shameless plug for your business:
I am an outstanding property agent who has over 50 awards at the Singapore level (Singapore Accredited Estate Agencies and Institute of Real Estate) and company level. I was the first Singapore property agent to win a distinguished salesperson award in Hong Kong. I have an excellent attitude and knowledge which brings about a seamless transaction to buy, sell and rent properties in Singapore and overseas.
How can people connect with you?
People can connect with me via email [email protected] or at my Linkedin and WeChat
This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:
Callum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries. He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence. A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.
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