Celestine Chua Interview - Be Your Best Self and Live Your Best Life

Hello Everyone,

I'm very pleased to introduce you an amazing lady who chose her passion over everything else when she left her S$70,000-a-year job in 2008 to become a personal development coach.

She has been featured on multiple media in Singapore, such as Lianhe Wanbao, Jobs Central, ZB Comma and My Paper.

Today, she enables thousands to achieve their goals and dreams through her popular personal development blog - The Personal Excellence Blog and her coaching.

Hi Celes, could you describe what you do and how you earn your living?

Hey Louis, thanks a lot for inviting me for an interview! :) Sure, I'll love to share what I do! I'm really passionate about helping others achieve personal excellence, be their best self and live their best life.  This translates into many things, such as blogging, coaching, speaking, writing, and so on, which are subsequently my revenue streams.  Many people associate themselves to a particular medium or occupation, but I feel it's more critical to see ourselves as the message we are trying to deliver rather than the specific medium.  This is why I don't specifically refer to myself as a 'blogger' or a 'coach'.

I understand that you blog at The Personal Excellence Blog, how did this blog come about?

It's the product of my passion towards helping others grow.  I saw internet as the best channel to reach out masses of people - without geographic limitations or any barriers of entry, so I decided to leverage the medium of blogging as one of the ways to pursue my passion.  It has turned out to be excellent, because I'm connecting with so many incredible people from all around the world.  Just a few days ago, I launched a facebook fanpage for the blog - The Personal Excellence Blog Facebook Fanpage and it has already gathered over 600 international fans in a short period of 2 days!  The power and connectivity of the internet is truly astounding and shouldn't be underestimated.

600 fans in 2 days!?! That's impressive.  Back to the topic on you quitting your high paying job, not many people have the courage to pursue their passion, what made you believe that you can make a living as a life coach?

Anyone can make a living out of anything.  The key is on value creation.  Money is just a medium of value exchange.  As long as you focus on creating value with what you do, the money will come its way.  That's what I have been doing (value creation) since I pursued my passion full-time, and this principle has worked for me.  I wasn't overtly worried about money since I knew that if I was delivering real, concrete value, people would recognize that and offer money in return for that value.

What are the secrets for your success?

I wouldn't go as far as to say that I've attained success - I think I've seen positive results which are extremely encouraging and rewarding, and there's a long way to go as I work towards bigger visions in my plans.  Some of the things that have worked well for me are:
  • Learn from the best.  Look at who's the best in the industry.  Identify what has worked for them.  Then, I try to see how I can integrate their success drivers into what I'm doing.
  • Try everything.  I'm not afraid to go all out and try every single thing I see.  In fact, I'm more concerned about the potential opportunities I might be missing out on than what I see on the surface.
  • Focus my efforts.  After trying out everything, I will scale down and start focusing on the top few things that have worked for me.  This is also known as the 80-20 principle.  It's one of my favorite principles in being highly effective.
  • Continuously improvising my strategy.  I constantly evaluate the effectiveness of what I'm doing. Whenever I see something that's not working, I either troubleshoot it to see how it can be improved or I replace it with a totally different tactic if it's proven to be ineffective.
Modeling Success, Taking Action, Keeping Focus and Refining Strategy, you have just given us The Success Formula.  Is there anyone that you look up to and model yourself after?

Everyone plays a role in helping me to grow - I see inspiration points in every person I interact with.  There isn't a particular person I model myself after - I believe everyone should focus on building themselves and developing their own voice/identity.  With that said, there are people that I respect.  One of them is Steve Pavlina, one of the top personal development bloggers.  I came across his blog in 2006 and it really helped jumpstart my early days of pursuit in personal development.

Another person I respect is Tyra Banks, for her strong personality and conviction towards her values and beliefs.  She doesn't conform to the media's stereotypical definition of beauty and is able to hold her own ground, even during the period of time when the media was scrutinizing and critizing her about her weight.  She advocates people to be themselves rather than conform to a cookie cutter image and I really like that.

What makes you stand out from the rest in your industry?

I see that everyone in the industry has their key strengths and uniqueness.  For me, I'd say the 3 biggest things that sets me apart are:
  • My passion.  I'm really passionate about my cause in helping others live their best life.  Based on my readers' continuous feedback, I believe this passion shows through my writings and everything I do. Besides talking the talk, I walk the walk as well, which is made clear from my decision last year to quit my corporate job and pursue this full time.
  • Commitment towards excellence.  I'm really committed towards what it takes to achieve personal excellence.  I'm constantly challenging myself, uncovering blind spots, pushing against my limits and making sure I'm being the best I can be.  I believe that if I'm trying to help others be their best self, I need to first ensure that I'm living up to that first.  Thus, I set extremely high expectations for myself and I make sure I hold myself to the expectations too.
  • Focusing on causes vs. effects.  I feel that many personal development books, resources, sites or possibly even coaches focus on surface level solutions, which don't address the real root causes of the issues.  As a result, you find many situations where people get initial improvements, only to slide off afterward, since the real issue is not fixed.  Some of my coaches have been to counselors/psychologists before and they found the coaching with me much more impactful, and I believe this is because of the emphasis on the underlying causes vs. treatment of effects/symptoms.
What advice would you give to people who are looking for the right direction in life?

Discover what you are passionate about, follow it and don't change yourself to fit what others expect of you. Your life is yours to lead, so you should set your own goals and follow them, rather than try to pursue the goals others may have set for you.

Do you have any future plans that you would like to share with us?

I have quite a few plans baking in the oven right now.  One of them is a book I'm writing, which is on how to discover and pursue your passion.  The details are not finalized yet and I will be sharing more about it on my blog as things progress.  The other, huge plan which I'm extremely excited about is my upcoming school.  I'm currently in the process of setting up my school with the help of a few business partners, and it's currently scheduled to come to life towards the end of the year.  The school will cover anything and everything on helping others achieve personal excellence.  Moving forward, I'll see it as one of my key channels in helping others grow, so I can't wait to get started on it!

Thank you, Celes, for this inspirational sharing, I'm looking forward to the launching of your book and the opening of your school. I wish you all the best.

If you want to know more about Celestine, you can check out her blog at The Personal Excellence Blog, join The Personal Excellence Blog Facebook Fanpage or follow her on Twitter.

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