So I go against the trend that Tim Ferriss says, which is to keep it short. I have to admit my emails are really long. So I do a short intro of myself. I also go very quickly into why am I here? And I always have a section where I show I've already done the research and I tell them this is some of the things that I think we could talk about. And a lot of guests have actually picked up on that because they see you actually did the work before we even spoke. That's why they said yes. So that part's really important. - Ling Yah
Ling Yah is a former intellectual property litigator turned in-house counsel for an international conglomerate in the areas of telco, utilities, construction, hospitality, land & development, NGOs and more. She is the host and producer of the So This Is My Why podcast, that features inspiring people about how they found their why and turned them into reality.
Past guests include Olympians, Michelin-starred chefs, FAANG executive, retired four star general & Chief of Army, Hollywood actresses, US late night TV executive, prominent VCs, founders and more.
Jeremy Au: (00:30)
Hi. Really excited to have you on the show. You have been a tremendous producer and creator of My Why podcast and really excited to feature your story on top of all the guests that you've been profiling as well. So, for those who don't know you yet, could you introduce yourself?
Ling Yah: (00:47)
Sure. Hi, Jeremy. Thank you so much for having me on your podcast. So, I'm Ling, I'm actually based in Malaysia and by day I'm actually a lawyer, so I work in-house at an international conglomerate. Outside of work, I actually run this podcast, as Jeremy mentioned called So this is my why and it's really a journey where I find inspiring people around the world and then ask them, how do you figure out what to do with your life?
What is your why and how do you turn that into reality? And so you've got all sorts of guests. We’ve got Olympians, you've got Michelin stared chefs. I had a retired four-star general who is also the chief of Army, also got late night TV executives from the US and also, of course, entrepreneurs, and VC’s.
Jeremy Au: (01:26)
Amazing. So, I got to ask from the beginning, how did you start that journey of being a lawyer? Was this something because of your love in language or how did that all happen?
Ling Yah: (01:35)
It was definitely a love of language, and it was definitely me sitting in this situation where I had to decide what to study. It was A-levels, it was UCAS time, and I had no idea because I knew I didn’t want to be a teacher. I love languages and it just seemed like a natural thing, everyone said. Given your A-levels and your interest, just do law because it’s prestigious you can always pivot and you will never regret it.
So, I guess I chose at that point in time, never thought of exploring. It just became almost like this straight path. I just have to do law. Full stop.
Jeremy Au: (02:05)
Interesting. You sounded like that was a certain conception of law that you had. And then you actually started studying law at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Could you share more about…is there a gap? Is there a difference between the conception of law versus the actual study of law? And maybe later, the actual practice of law?
Ling Yah: (02:24)
Yeah, I would say the conception and the actual study wasn't that big of a difference simply because before going to LSC, I wasn't actually really exposed to the law. I did an internship. But honestly, what can you do when you're just 17? Really? Nothing. You can read a case and talk about it, but even then, that kind of discussion isn't going to be substantial in any way possible.
When I went to university, it was a lot of, I would say, studying and reading and being in a library and camping out there and learning concepts. I never heard of. It was a lot more interesting when I went to the bar because there is a lot more practical. You always have the same group of ten that you attend and you have advocacy.
You've got actors coming in and you get to interact with them. You get to do very interesting sort of shadow schemes. I got to shadow quite a few judges as a royal cause of justice for LSC as I got to, and I think this is one of my favourites, I got to shadow the Holden police. So, I deliberately picked the night shift because I just thought what do the police get up to at night?
And so, I got to follow them. They raided a home. And after that they went you know what? We are hungry. Let's go to this Bagel place and let's just have a bagel. And funny enough, that guy who runs that bagel place now, it's a family owned Jewish place and it's the most famous in London. I also interviewed on this podcast and it was just a way for me to say, Hey, when I was a student at 3 a.m., I went there and with the police and that's how I knew.
You are a real institution, because even the police have you as part of their normal way of eating at night.
Jeremy Au: (03:55)
And what was that actual difference between, like I said, a study of law versus the practice of law down the road from your perspective?
Ling Yah: (04:03)
In a way, it's almost as though it's two completely different things. When you are studying, you're just memorising. You're given this potential problem statement and then you put all cases that you study into fact. Whereas when I got into a law firm, I was a litigator. So immediately I was doing very, very different things. I had to draw statement of claims.
I mean, you don't really do that apart from at the bar, but I have to draft cease and desist letters. I never seen that before in my life. And you would never use what you study at a law school into the fact that you have to review NDAs. I mean, none of that was something that I had to consider when I was studying.
I realised something that was very, very practical. I had to be aware of what's happening in these different industries that my clients was working at, and it was just a totally different world. It was as though I didn't even need to study the law, apart from understanding certain basic concepts. In a way, it made me realise that this is why a lot of people can study, say music and do one year conversion in law and actually go and practise law.
It makes perfect sense because all you needed was the basic principles, the memorisation, which is the bulk of what you do at law school completely doesn't apply in the real world.
Jeremy Au: (05:14)
So, for many folks that's quite a jarring thing and I feel like that's been echoed by many folks. The joke is that then the lawyers all leave to set up a cupcake shop after that.
Ling Yah: (05:25)
Or a coffee shop? Yes.
Jeremy Au: (05:27)
Yeah, a cookie shop. So how do you think about that? Why is there such a gap between the actual practice versus the study or even the concept of law growing up?
Ling Yah: (05:37)
I think because the lifestyle is so different, especially I was told when I was a litigator, even amongst lawyers, a litigator’s lifestyle is totally different from that of a commercial lawyer because a litigator you are…if a client comes and says, I've got this injunction and it's going to court tomorrow and it's already 8 p.m. too bad. Stick around.
You've got to be in court by 9AM, and before that you've got to file it. You've got to make sure you have all your contacts in court and it's just this crazy lifestyle that you must enjoy. You must enjoy analysing every single letter that’s sent out because you are going to be very adversarial. That's the nature of your work.
And I realised very quickly that wasn't me. I didn't want to be adversarial all the time. It could be any simple thing. I'll give an example. Normally you see all the glamorous parts which is people going to court. That is an assured journey. Fast would be nine months from filing a claim that's really, really fast. Sometimes it's five years and sometimes, I inherited a 15-year case that's completely normal.
And the reason why is because sometimes the other side might think, I'm going to wait you out because I know you can’t afford it, so I'm going to try and delay everything. And so if you miss a deadline by, say, one day or even one hour, the other side has the right to come and say, too bad, I refuse to let you extend it and you need to file an application.
So the application is this whole cycle, which would take an additional six weeks just to get through, and it's just this insane bureaucracy that I realised I just didn't enjoy. But it's just the nature of litigator.
Jeremy Au: (07:09)
That's really interesting because it sounds like a cat and mouse plus a giant paper trail slash bureaucracy.
Ling Yah: (07:16)
Yes, lots of paper trail. I mean, you've got to print in the case law. You've got to bring one set for yourself, one for your client, one for the other side if you've got another at least 2 to 3 for the judges. So that's at least five different sets, just as a very basic level.
Jeremy Au: (07:32)
Wow. Any advice you have for prospective people who are considering law as a career or studying law? Any advice you’d give them?
00;07;41;03 - 00;08;03;02
Ling Yah: (00:00)
I would say, honestly, at the end of the day, there is no way you could know where the lowest for you unless you actually practise. But common misconception that I come across is, oh, I want to do a law because I want to fight for justice and do what's right. I mean, it's great you do do that. But at the end of the day, when I've got a case from me, I just go, Oh, what does the law say?
And I'm just going to apply it. There is no concept of, Oh, this is not fair because I feel it's not fair. That doesn't have a place.
Jeremy Au: (08:10)
Really interesting where I know lawyers have many hobbies. You took up podcasting as a hobby, which you obviously take it to the next level. So how did you get started as a podcaster?
Ling Yah: (08:20)
I think because I realised that in my life, because I was always doing law, I only had legal friends and I just thought surely there must be other people out there who are not lawyers, but I have no idea who they are and I have no idea how to reach them. And this was around the time where I first discovered podcasts as well.
And I was really intrigued by this. The World Court, Start-Ups and VCs. I honestly had no idea what that was. Hard as it is to imagine. And I thought, Oh, these are really interesting people who are these crazy people who are willing to put up half of their net worth or their entire net worth for this dream that might not work out 99% of the time.
Who are these crazy people? I actually really want to talk to these people. And not just these entrepreneurs, but also other people who you always see in the news, these authors that you always hear about. What were they actually thinking? What's the behind the scenes of launching a book? And then I thought, Well, I could reach out and say, Can I have a conversation with you for 30 minutes?
Why on earth would they, with this random person from Malaysia? I could say, Can I have an hour and a half with you for this podcast I'm launching? And the probability of them saying yes is so much higher. And also because I love podcast, at the time I realised it transformed my life. So I thought I'm just going to jump straight and say, all the stars aligned.
They are all saying, Yes, just do it and see where it goes.
Jeremy Au: (09:33)
What podcasts were you listening already before you started?
Ling Yah: (09:36)
The very first one I listened to was How I Built This by Guy RAZ. I think most people would have heard that, and I will always remember my first ever, ever that I listened to it was actually this person. She bakes in the States. And I'm not a baker. I'm not interested in baking or cooking. And I could not believe after one hour I just loved her.
I felt like she was my best friend. I didn’t even know what she looked like and I would never even tasted what she did, I just thought, Wow, the power of voice is incredible. So how I built this is how it started and obviously, it’s transformed over time.
Jeremy Au: (10:07)
How many years you think of listening to podcast did you do before you started taking the leap?
Ling Yah: (10:12)
It wasn't even a year. It was half a year.
Jeremy Au: (10:15)
Oh, wow. So you were like a fresh off like I had to pull out your Apple Podcasts, Spotify and half an hour.
Ling Yah: (10:23)
Completely fresh. When I say fresh, I mean when I listen to a host and they would always say, Oh, if you enjoy this, subscribe to your podcast platform. I had no idea how to subscribe. What on earth is it? And then when they said Apple podcast, I went, Wait, is it actually on my iPhone? I had to actually go and do a search.
That's how I did know. But then obviously I jump straight into it and within half a year, just went it's time to start my own.
Jeremy Au: (10:46)
When you chose to be a podcaster, how did you get started?
Ling Yah: (10:50)
I got started because I had also been listening to lots of people who were doing your own podcasts as well, and obviously they try and sell you a course. So they obviously tell you the little steps here and there. And I guess I listened to so much and I read so much. I had a very clear picture of what I needed and what I wanted to do.
Zoom was available and I knew all the different softwares available. Descript was available as well. I just need a mic and I just need to sit down and ask for a yes. And that was it.
Jeremy Au: (11:18)
Did your initial thesis, how did that come out titled the topic of focus, was that consistent from day one or was that like some iteration experimentation as you tried to figure out what topics or what things really interested you?
Ling Yah: (11:32)
The thesis has always remained the same and it was very much because I was also looking for my why. I realised I couldn't imagine myself doing law for 50 years and being just that that was my sole identity. I just couldn't imagine it. So obviously it came to the question of Well, what's my why? And every founder is always going to ask, what's the why of your company?
I thought, that's the perfect crux of what I'm going to do to find and allow me the opportunity to ask anyone onto the podcast. I knew that content creators always told you must niche down, but then I thought, I'm going to go the opposite way. I wanted to have the ability to ask anyone in the world to come on if they have an interesting story and the why would give me that perfect in.
Jeremy Au: (12:12)
One thing you said is that question that you had is the title of your podcast. Why is it a question that you had and have still?
Ling Yah: (12:23)
Because I think I'm always fascinated by people who say I was born into this when I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I think was episode six, this dancer with the Royal Ballet School in London. And she said, I always knew and she always knew to the point where her entire family sacrificed everything. She gave up school just for the opportunity to audition to get into a school in London and look where she is now and just thought, are these people the same across? I really want to know that answer because then I thought, Wow, if they all are like that and that's how they got their successes, I better figure out what my why is. And so that's why it drove me.
Jeremy Au: (13:00)
And what is it that surprises you? Because obviously, again, you started out and you tried it out for the first time as you were starting out and building out this podcast from scratch and recording everything. Were there any surprises or unexpected learnings that you had from the experience?
Ling Yah: (13:15)
I think my surprise came almost immediately and it was confirmed throughout the journey and it came in episode three. So this person, Dr. Julian Tan, he’s an incredible, incredible Malaysian and he studied in Oxford, got first went to Cambridge, got first again, went to, I think it was, Bain, was a consultant, went to F1. So, he was this incredible person and the word he used was serendipity.
And I had never heard that word before. But then I realised very quickly that so many people kept on saying the word serendipity, serendipity. And I realised because I was also asked all my guests at the end of every conversation, Do you feel like you’ve found your why? And the majority of people would either say no or it doesn't matter, or it changes all the time.
And I realized that I was asking the wrong question and the thing that tied everyone was that they were incredibly curious to the point where they just went deep into it. They really, really put in effort and serendipitous events starts to happen. That's when the doors started to open, that's how they got to where they are.
It wasn't so much of why, some of them do have the why but it almost doesn't matter. It's more being led by a curiosity at every stage of your life.
Jeremy Au: (14:29)
So, with that serendipity cascading as one of the learnings, what other learnings have you had? I guess because it sounds like this podcast is really for you first and that it happens that it's also for others as well. So what learnings have you gotten from exploring the why slash serendipity, slash insights of others?
Ling Yah: (14:48)
So this is another thing that three people have come out and said straight up, if you don't ask, you don't get. And I realised that was so true even now, the first question that people always ask me is how on earth do you get these guests? And for me it was always surprising because I thought you just ask.
But I realised that most people don't dare to even ask. And when I interview some people, for instance, Guy Kawasaki and I asked him, why not? Do you put your email out everywhere? You're so famous you achieve evangelists of Apple and Canva, the most famous branding person out there, and you can find his email everywhere easily. And he said, Well, you'll be surprised.
Most people actually just self-select themselves out. You think that most people will email me, but actually there's very few. And so he would almost always say yes to interviews. And I also recently had a Facebook executive on and he also said the same thing. He said that he really respected the fact that I took the time for an email, reached out to him, a person who normally you have to get through many, many, many layers of teams just to be able to speak with him, he said.
I bypassed all that and I just asked him, and which is why he said yes. And I realised that that was very, very true. So many people I had on that people couldn't believe I managed to speak with. They just respected the fact that I had just sent an email and I learnt that you just got to try.
And the last thing I wanted too, looking back at what I've done is to regret not succeeding in something because I never tried. At least let me try and fail and that's fine, but I should have tried.
Jeremy Au: (16:19)
It’s very scary, obviously, for a lot of podcasters to ask for guest interviews. Any advice that you have sounds like you've mastered to some extent the quote, email slash outreach that you're doing. Any tips or advice?
Ling Yah: (16:32)
I think I don't know why. I don't really feel that much fear. And it's really because it's just an email. I think I'm a lot more worried if I meet the person in real life, but at the same time I'm also more confident because it’s so much harder to say no to your face. So it's a really strange balance, I think, because I've got the system set out.
I know what I want to say, and if you say no, then that's okay, because I know that the chances are very high you're not saying no because of something personal, just saying no because it just isn't the right time and that's completely fine. I think the key is that I don't take it personally, I'm just going to try and we'll see what happens.
Jeremy Au: (17:09)
You make it sound very easy, was it always easy for you or did it get easier over time?
Ling Yah: (17:16)
It hasn't actually gotten easier over time. It's just always been the same. I suppose that's how I say it’s just an email.
Jeremy Au: (17:22)
You were sharing about how you do outreach. So what do you think for those aspiring podcasters or those currently a podcaster? What would you recommend be in that email?
Ling Yah: (17:34)
So I go against the trend that Tim Ferriss says, which is keep it short. I have to admit my emails are really long, so I do a short intro of myself. I also go very quickly into Why am I here? And I always have a section where I show. I've already done the research and I tell them This is some of the things that I think we could talk about.
And a lot of guests have actually picked up on that because I see you actually did the work before we even spoke. That's why I said yes. So that part's really important. And then the final part, which is these are the guests that I've had on, and that also lends a lot of credibility, I guess, is that because I saw these guests had come before, I believe, and trusted in you, and therefore I was willing to say yes, even though I rarely do podcast and I give them link as well.
It really differs as well because I also had guests who say I didn't care who you had on. I didn't care that you've done the research. I just cared that, you know, you were female and you were Asian. I just wanted to support you. Sometimes you have people like that, but other people really care about this individual part. So, I just put them all in.
I have had yes’, I've also had even more no's. So maybe those no’s came because they were too long or some other reason that I'm not aware of.
Jeremy Au: (18:42)
What is the percentage of yes’ and no’s from your perspective? Because, you know, a lot folks are like scared. So they're like, okay, so here's laying out the game, doing a lot of research beforehand, which is way more than mine. What is your hit rate? You got to say.
Ling Yah: (18:47)
I honestly do not know. I mean, I go more in terms of I have this number of interviews that have been recorded, this number that have been slotted in. And I'm going to do. Do I have enough to tie me over for the next one, two months, and then I continue pitching or following up? I mean, I must have at least a hundred.
Jeremy Au: (19:14)
Would you say like 50%? Would you say like 20%?
Ling Yah: (19:17)
And the reason why it's so hard is because sometimes I really follow up. I can follow up six times, seven times, ten times as long as I want. So these are always open. A huge portion as well would say yes, but then they just disappear.
00;19;31;09 - 00;19;44;24
Jeremy Au: (00:00)
So okay, let's go through that. So what percentage of people would be like easily say yes? And those that don't respond after five emails, let’s count them as no’s. What’s that percentage is upfront?
Ling Yah: (19:45)
Probably 10% 20%.
Jeremy Au: (19:47)
Okay. So about 10 to 20% actually say yes. And the rest will be like cold and out of 10/20%, what, maybe half will ghost you?
Ling Yah: (19:53)
Okay so if we would include ghost as well, I'll probably increase it's around 30 40% and then the actual sit down, actually book it will probably be around ten, 20%. But sometimes a lot of these people would be like, I would love to, but I'm busy now. Come back to me in half a year and then half a year, they do say yes.
So, however you want to measure this.
Jeremy Au: (20:12)
Yeah. That’s amazing and helpful because I think an aspiring podcaster that bring on guests, it's helpful to know that someone like you, even who’s done all the work and has a track record, still has more misses than hits, which I think is the actual reality.
Ling Yah: (20:26)
It is the reality. I think everyone I've spoken to, even the way bigger ones, they always say it's a numbers game and it really is.
Jeremy Au: (20:33)
So from your perspective, obviously there's a lot of podcasters who are out there thinking about set up their own podcast. I'm sure you get a lot of people asking you any advice that you would give for people who want to set up a podcast?
Ling Yah: (20:45)
So that advice that I heard from so many before I started my own was, If you want to do it, just start now because you will always regret that you didn't start early. That's the number one regret, and I find that to be completely true. I regret I didn't start earlier and the reason why I didn't start early because I thought I have no idea how to record this and I just didn't do it.
I thought it was ridiculous that I was pausing this all along just on this one part and then just book my guests. And then because I had a guest coming in two days, I thought, I better sit down, just figure out and figure out in 10 minutes, which is ridiculous, but it’s the reality. So I would say the first thing is if you really want to do it, just do it.
And you can always take it off. You can always replace it. If you don't like it, you can always stop if you don't want to, but just start if you want to. And I suppose second is podcasting isn't easy. There is a tremendous amount of investment involved, especially in terms of time. Think about it. I suppose it’s not the best way if you want to go viral. I don't think a podcast has ever gone viral, but it is something that you've really enjoyed and I would just highly encourage it. I don't think it's a medium for everyone and I think that's completely fine. It could be a TikTok and go viral and be well known by the entire world.
Jeremy Au: (21:54)
Why is it that way? Why do you think podcast won’t go viral versus TikTok? What is it about the medium from your perspective makes it different for those who choose to do podcasting instead of another medium?
Ling Yah: (22:05)
I think it's just because of the attention span. We are always talking about every single creative platform, how to make it short and snappy. And this is not the nature of podcasts. You're asking people to give you at least 40 minutes, 45 minutes, whereas on YouTube you've seen them pushing up shorts, you're seeing TikTok being really short and snappy as well.
So it's just not something that is viral or visually enticing enough to make people go, Whoa, what is this? And it's not easy to share as well. Again, on Instagram, share one click share. This is like share. Oh, I've got to invest 10 minutes. 10 minutes is short for a podcast, but it's long for most people. And then how do you find this podcast in the first place?
There're so many things involved in the nature of podcasting that hasn't been sorted out yet, but I would say some of these points are why it hasn't gone viral and probably wouldn't for a while.
Jeremy Au: (22:55)
And why is it then that people should do podcasts from your perspective, I guess suddenly sounds like terrible. Oh, I'm doing a podcast to go viral. I'm doing a podcast to get likes and attention, so on and so forth. So what would you say are the better reasons or truer reasons for building a podcast from your perspective?
Ling Yah: (23:17)
Personally, go back to why you would do anything. If you're launching a business, what is your purpose and if your purpose? And I found this to be very true personally, is you want to become a thought leader. You want people to trust and believe you not necessarily to maybe go viral, but to spend 40 minutes with you every single week.
That's 160 minutes. You times that by 12. That's a long time. If I'm in your ear for 40 minutes, I think you're going to believe and start thinking of me as someone to trust like your best friend. And I personally felt that too, because I remember the first time, my journey. This is woman who runs this Pinterest podcast and the whole thing, and this is how I found podcast be very successful.
She does it ancillary to her main business of having people to use Pinterest to do their business. And so her podcast is all about Pinterest and oh, if you want to, we have this community, we also have these special services. And I listen to her for half a year and even to this day I have listened to her for over two years.
I still think of her as the ultimate authority. I trust in her fully, I believe in her. I feel like she's my best friend, even though she has no idea who I am. And it's just because she was in my ear for so long, so consistently. So I feel as though podcast is a long game and if you want to build that trust and that authority and just stand out because not many people have podcasts even to this day, then that might be a medium that you want to explore.
But it does take a lot of time.
Jeremy Au: (24:46)
And I think there's this interesting phrase, I think about what you said at discovery of why you want to do it versus why you don't want to do it. And there's a phrase called pod fate that is at a certain point, all these podcasters, they start and they all burn out the die after five or ten or 20 episodes.
And so I'm curious about why you think that happens from your perspective and how you would counter it?
Ling Yah: (25:10)
I think I definitely have experienced it up and down, and it's just because it's a long slog and it's something that maybe I would consider because imagine that you're doing once a week, every single week, and there is no break whatsoever. That's demanding a lot because you need to first identify who you want to get on, make sure you book them, do the research, interview, edit, release, prepare all the promo assets and by the time you've finished your first episode it’s already the next week.
The next week, it just never, ever ends. So it's really, really fast to enter that phase. And the advice I got, which I have implemented myself, I have to admit, is that's why people do seasons. And they would say, we are doing X number of episodes for this season and we're going to take a break. And their break is just for your mental health for you to rethink, cast a new vision, perhaps for your next season.
And that is a way to manage it, I would say, or even to cut down and not do it as consistently. It really is a question of what kind of resources you have and what your lifestyle is like.
Jeremy Au: (26:13)
That's interesting because it sounds like there's a lot of personal energy that happens there, and I have noticed that myself. I always tell people that, yeah, I have three seasons. I think my first season was again me trying podcasting and iterating and figuring out what topics I wanted to do. And for me it moved away from leadership and a global side towards more of a bravery and with a much more Southeast Asia lens.
That was what I’m a total nerd slash passionate about. That’s the first phase. And then I say the second phase was not burning out and figure out the right tempo, the right format, the right guest, the right tone, and the third phase, which was like almost two years in, then kind of starting to build out the process and things like that.
What would you say are ways for people to be thoughtful about how to get through that any other advice you have for folks?
Ling Yah: (27:01)
I think it does help to have other people support you. That's definitely very helpful. So if you can outsource, that's fantastic. I think it's important to find the right self-tools to use. So, I use Descript and Descript is amazing. I'm sure you've experienced that yourself. I cannot imagine doing a podcast without it. It’s a complete lifesaver.
So I think those two definitely very important. The third thing I do is people tend to sometimes, send really nice messages that, oh, this episode was amazing. That was really well done. I was very inspired. I did this differently because of your podcast. I screenshot all of that and then having that open and take it out every time I feel a bit low and go, You know what?
People do listen. And actually it did have a positive impact and is just a little feel good jolt that you need sometimes to get you going and actually I'm not talking to the wall this entire time. There is somebody out there who actually cares. So let's keep going.
Jeremy Au: (27:58)
I also do the same actually, which is I also screenshot that was nice. For me it's a Slack channel and it's like, oh, so nice. Yeah. Because I think that as an art form I also do improv and improv is very easy in a sense that if it's funny, people just laugh. So, there’s instant audience reaction, this is great.
Just keep doing what you're doing and you don't get that as a podcaster. I mean, of course you're having a deep conversation, everything, but you're not having that. Yeah.
Ling Yah: (28:26)
Yeah, it definitely does. So anyone listening, if you ever have a favourite podcaster, please, say something, let us know you're listening.
Jeremy Au: (28:35)
There's a shout out. She's asking for love. Send it to her. Me too. Don’t forget about me. So there we go. So, you know, I think what's interesting is obviously, you know, you've gone through quite a lot. Could you share with us about time that you have been BRAVE?
Ling Yah: (28:49)
I think the time I've been brave is really just that. I do remember you asking whether I've ever felt worried about reaching out to guests, and I said no. But at the same time, I feel that that would be an element where I felt brave as well, because there have been some people where I would pass and I just go, but should I really, really, really do this?
What if I antagonise them for some reason? And sometimes it's just me sitting on that email just going, okay, I would just think about it and come back later. And there are moments where I just go, You know what? This is never going to change. So, I’m going to hit send and just forget about it and just fingers crossed hope that it’s okay.
So, I would say that those little moments have been when I've been brave, I feel that that's the biggest ones and some of them have turned into yes’. So, I feel very, very encouraged by those.
Jeremy Au: (29:33)
When you set out all these things and having those emotions. What's interesting, it ties back to the title, right? So this is my way. And so you feel like your why has been sharpened more because it feels like you've gotten a few answers about their why. Like you said you got many answers telling you that they don't have a why or that they’re kind of cool with it.
You discovered that you don't need a why or how have you better discover the why?
Ling Yah: (29:57)
Yeah, yeah. I feel like that's me. That's me telling myself, okay, it's alright that you haven’t found your why, even after this entire two year journey and you've already released 84 episodes, it's fine that you don't feel it, but I think I'm going to kind of follow what I've learnt, which is I really enjoy podcast. I feel like the hours just fly by.
So that's my curiosity, that's my interest and I'm just going to go with it and you never know what doors are open. So that's basically my approach and application.
Jeremy Au: (30:23)
I'm so curious now. So is this is my why? Podcasting, is that what you're saying?
Ling Yah: (30:29)
Yeah, it's kind of almost like misleading, I suppose, if I start out like this, but actually it doesn't really matter at the end of the day.
Jeremy Au: (30:35)
Why is it that you think that's important and to you still? has your feeling or the why about why you're doing this podcast changed over time or how has evolved over time?
Ling Yah: (30:46)
I think because I'm naturally curious about other people and I always want to think what the success looks like because I also want to achieve that. And I notice in my analysis of other people who are highly successful, say founders are the best example. They always, always hustle, really, really difficult. And then they have this $1 billion sell to Google.
And then they always go through this cycle of, I finally can take a break, I'm going on…become a monk and going through this mental health journey. And then they come by and they go, Oh, what's next? And they will always just say, no matter how much money I have, I feel the exact same way. I'm not happier anymore.
And they're always lost and they always end up with the question of why, why? What am I going to do next? And I thought, well, if for some reason I managed to achieve tremendous success, I would definitely encounter that question. And even if I don't, so many people are and still are questioning that. So, I might as well just start this journey right now and be very intentional and I suppose another thing I could say is that the second question I always ask all my guests is What kind of legacy do you wanna leave behind?
And the reason I have this question is because I was in Memorial of this really incredibly important person in Malaysia and I was shocked because thousands of people came and were really upset. And I realised that his legacy was right in front of me. He wasn't even around anymore. And you could see this outpouring of emotions and the fact that he really left an impact in society.
And I thought this is his legacy and you can't stop thinking about legacy when you're 60 or 70. It’s got to start now. And what does that look like? How do you implement that? Because it should be more so much more than just about yourself. And so that's why I suppose it drives me because it's why and it's also legacy, which is a more long term view.
Jeremy Au: (32:37)
Why is the word legacy important to you? Because it's interesting to hear you say that phrase with a little bit more of a different inflexion to everything else. So how do you think about legacy?
Ling Yah: (32:50)
So some people have said, I don't care about legacy because it's not all about me. And I think I really like the question because it forces me to think beyond myself. Like right now I'm always focused on what's the next thing, what's the next thing, what does success look like? It’s so easy to get a tunnel vision and just care about only myself, whereas with legacy it can't just be about me.
So impacting the world around me. And so it's almost as a force to me to go no matter what, think of the wider picture. The bigger picture, because it's not just about you.
Jeremy Au: (33:22)
Why is it important to you?
Ling Yah: (33:24)
Why it's important to me because my favourite answer, which I want to steal from one of my guests is - My legacy is I want to leave indelible hole in someone's life. I think that was just so simple and so powerful. And it means that I really did something. I suppose that's just important to me for some reason.
Jeremy Au: (33:43)
Thanks for sharing that openly and honestly. What do you think the process is going to be to get there? Do you think it's more podcast episodes, is it more inspirational people. How are you approaching it?
Ling Yah: (33:53)
I think it's definitely that. But I'm also trying to explore different avenues, talk to more people, see what else I can do. I do feel that I'm starting to repeat the same processes all the time and I don't think I should do that. I think the reason why I started is because it's so out of my comfort zone and since this new thing has become my comfort zone and just kept pushing more and more and more and see where it goes.
Jeremy Au: (34:15)
You've gone through 84 episodes, so it's a lot of learnings. What would you say are some commonalities or themes of one, what to do and, two, what not to do?
Ling Yah: (34:26)
So definitely curiosity as I mentioned earlier, definitely just not caring about what people think because you are naturally curious. Somewhere along the way you figure it out, somewhere along the way doors will open and just continue on that path. I think a lot of people will always work really, really hard at whatever they do whether it’s their day job.
Whether it’s also their side hustle, and it all turns out okay. In a way, it's almost simple and I think that's very, very encouraging. Also, my favourite guests are guests who now do jobs that didn't even exist back when they started say when they were in school. But if you look at their LinkedIn it's almost as though their entire life, they have lived just for this one moment, this position.
But they actually didn't know. They just followed their curiosity. And for some reason this job appeared and it was the perfect set for all their skills.
Jeremy Au: (35:20)
Thank you so much for sharing all of that. So, I’ll love to paraphrase, I think that three big key takeaways that I've gotten so far from what you shared.
First is, thank you so much for obviously starting out and sharing about your reflections on the legal career, what you had preconceptions about growing up versus what the actual study of it was versus what the actual practice of it is and you gave some good advice for those who are considering the legal profession.
The second is, of course, thank you so much for sharing about the reflections of what inspired you to become a podcaster, how you discovered the topic that you cared about, and how you went about cold emailing the guests and giving us not just the intuitive bits but also the quantitative bits around your hit rate and what to expect and how to keep persevering no matter what and avoid pod fate. So those was really interesting to talk about.
And last of all, thank you so much for sharing about how your show So this is my why, what you've learnt so many interviews all the way from Malaysia but kind of representing Southeast Asia and being able to collect stories of inspiration and courage from so many people across the world, big to small. And I think this is wonderful to hear you kind of tie all of that because, well, I think at a deep level, you’re not really doing it for the listeners in some way. But you're doing this for yourself, but you get to share because of that overflow, you're able to pour into the lives of others. And I think that's really inspirational to have you share your own self-discovery journey along the way and have that spill over to everybody else's lives, including myself.
So, thank you so much, Ling, for coming on the show.
Ling Yah: (36:59)
Thank you so much, Jeremy, for having me.