Don’t Panic At The Start
I started university really young – I graduated high school at 15 and went off to The University of Texas the following year – so compared to a lot of people, I had a two-year head start. I studied chemistry with the view to eventually becoming a doctor like my two sisters, but when I graduated at 19, I heard the world of business calling my name. I moved to Singapore with my dad and started university all over again to study business. The deal was, because it was my second degree, I had to pay for it. So, I started looking for part-time jobs to fund my studies. I fell into the world of promotional modelling – mainly because it paid around four times more than any other student job. Because the pay cheque was so high, I decided this was something worth pursuing.
Let Certain Opportunities Come To You
I worked with some top commercial brands when I was modelling – Vaseline, Pond’s, Colgate – and I was often flown to places like India to work with Bollywood celebrities. I never saw it as a long-term gig, though, and sure enough after two years, I ended up hating it. It felt like I needed to re-enter the real world – so I went back to Singapore to start my own boutique talent agency. Representing around 300 people, I worked with incredible brands during that time as well, including high-fashion brands like Gucci – but I realised quite quickly that the growth potential was finite. One day, after we’d introduced a production arm to the business, we won a contract with a cryptocurrency company. At the time, I had no idea what crypto or blockchain was, but the investment potential blew me away.
Jump In & Get Your Hands Dirty
One of the best pieces of advice I could give anyone is to get involved in your industry at a grass roots level. To feed my interest in cryptocurrency, I invested a bit of money I had saved up from my modelling days into bitcoin. A couple of months later, that investment shot up in value – from about $3,000 to $20,000. Suffice to say, I was hooked. I started researching and educating myself more about this new world and made a one-off video for Instagram about what I’d learnt. It went viral and got picked up by an exchange called Huobi Global and they asked me to come in and be their host. That’s where my crypto career really started.
Don’t Let Your Doubts Stop You
By early 2017, I was the face of Huobi and it was my job to help the layman understand the technical. That eventually led me to launch Luna Media Corporation in Dubai, which now encompasses Luna PR, Cointelegraph Middle East – and I’m also the host of CNBC Arabia’s first ever crypto show. Looking back, I’m amazed I had the confidence to pursue so many different avenues in this space – but if I can, anyone can. At the start, I found all the tech jargon very daunting, and it led to a lot of self-doubt, but the minute I started investing and then working the with exchange, I realised it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. It just goes to show sometimes we’re the only ones standing in our own way.
Make Your Team A Priority
I work in the office every day from 9am-6pm, and I’m constantly interacting with different members of the team. I firmly believe that, as an entrepreneur, you have to make your team a priority and focus on hiring the right people for the job. I still handpick every single employee we bring on board. Delegation is also key, and now that we have more than 100 employees, I find that easier to do. It means I have more time for myself – to answer emails, network etc – and as of right now, I’m able to carve out two hours every day just to focus on that. If I didn’t trust my team to cover the bases, however, it would be impossible. The biggest thing I’ve learnt about running a team is that skills can be taught but attitude cannot. Even if you know everything about this industry, if your attitude isn’t positive, you won’t go very far.
Forget About Lack Of Experience
When I’m hiring people, I’m never too bothered about how much experience they have in the cryptocurrency world. It’s still such a new space, so I can’t expect everyone to be an expert. That’s why I prioritise attitude over aptitude – as I said before, skills can be taught. The way someone presents themselves is more important to me – including the way they dress (professional, preferably) and how confidently they can talk about themselves. I’m also very interested to see how women in this space can command a room and own their voice – after all, it’s still an industry dominated by men.
Work On Your Own Shortcomings
When I first started the business, I admit I was a bit of a tyrant. My team was small, and we were working out of my living room; it took so much to get the company off the ground. Over the last two years, I’ve had to learn to keep my emotions in check, stay neutral and to think about how the employees feel in certain situations. You have to handle disputes sensitively as a boss, because many things can be taken out of context. I’ve also had to let go and allow our HR department handle certain issues – as the boss, it isn’t appropriate to get involved in every nitty gritty conversation.
Prioritise Integrity Above All Else
When it comes to the PR and the editorial businesses, there has to be a high degree of separation to ensure there isn’t any conflict of interest. Editorial integrity is so important to me and none of our PR clients get interviewed on Cointelegraph or CNBC just because. They go through the editorial team and have to meet a certain number of criteria before we pursue anything with them. We’ve set up rigorous channels to ensure integrity is something we always uphold across all the businesses.
Harness The Power Of Social Media
This industry runs on personality, so I’ve made it a priority to develop my social media profile and attract as many influential followers as possible. It was a big day when [Twitter co-founder and Square CEO] Jack Dorsey followed me on Instagram. But I think social media plays a vital role in hundreds of industries now, so it is worth trying to build an online brand to feed your personal development. I’ve never been scared to be myself online – which is I think what Huobi liked about me all those years ago. If your content is genuine and an authentic reflection of your passions, then success will follow. Also don’t be afraid of haters – it’s a natural part of being online and frankly, content doesn’t go viral without some extreme reactions on both sides of the fence.
Find Ways To Prioritise Your Personal Life
In the last two years I’ve struggled to maintain any kind of work/life balance – but I think that’s inevitable at the beginning. Luckily, I have a very supportive fiancé who has let me do my thing, but I’ve lost quite a few friends along the way. I’ve was pretty single-minded when I arrived in Dubai, so building a social life was not a priority. It’s not great – now that the company is bigger and more efficient, I’ve found myself with quite a few empty weekends. Once, I flew all the way back to Houston, TX, to spend a holiday weekend with my family because I didn’t have any plans. It’s a common problem among entrepreneurs, but the good thing is I’m aware of it and am actively trying to change things. I’ve realised how important it is to have more in my head than just work.
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