When work is a labour of love
Ko set up the Chinese-language travel website six years ago to share travel tips and information with friends. The experienced backpacker has turned his passion for travelling into a business venture thanks to strong advertising revenue from clients in banking, aviation and travel.
"The website broke even four years ago and is now making a profit," says Ko, who is expanding into the mainland market. Ko, who previously worked in information technology and publishing in Hong Kong, believes he is on a meaningful mission.
"As I travel to more places, I realise people can lead a rich life even when they are poor. I have promoted these places on the website, and I am amazed by the changes in some members following their trips," he says, citing how some go from being consumers to backpackers keen to learn from other cultures.
Ko, who used his savings and property-investment profits to fund the website, ran into financial difficulties in 2007 and had to sell his flat to raise capital. "Many people expect to succeed at their first attempt. But you have to experience many failures to increase your future chances of success."
Stanley Cheung Yun-hang, a 26-year-old who suffered severe burns in the 1996 Pat Sin Leng hill fire, founded Kinetic Life Training and Counselling Centre this summer to help people fulfil their potential through the neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) approach.
NLP is an alternative therapy that seeks to educate people in self-awareness and communication, and to change their patterns of mental and emotional behaviour.
Cheung, who holds a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's degree in social work, says his experience led him to a profession that supports him financially and makes his life fulfilling. "I want to imbue in young people a positive value, a spirit of mutual help and of serving others," he says.
Setting up a dream business as a fresh graduate is by no means easy, and Cheung says careful preparation and planning are crucial.
"I have been involved in the field of life education over the past 10 years writing books, giving talks and providing training as a freelancer. I enjoy doing these things and I have learned from them, building connections and accumulating experiences."
Cheung says that finding a sense of purpose in life is important for people. "When you understand the goal and meaning of your life, you can throw yourself wholeheartedly into work."
Blending career and vocation
- Ask yourself what type of job you would and would not want to do, what you want to achieve from this job and if it would help you grow
- Talk to veterans in your target industry, learn how they have coped with ups and downs in their careers, and understand the qualities required to do so
- Chasing your dream is no escape hatch. If you are quitting a frustrating routine at work, you may just have to deal with a similar problem in other jobs
Advice from Dora Dai Pui-wa, head of Chinese University's career planning and development centre.