Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Building Your Sandcastles

I attended the MDRT Experience in Singapore a few months back, and I was inspired by all the great speakers, where they have been doing their very best to strive for success in all areas of their lives. I have been planning to blog about some of the great speakers and their inspiring speeches. Finally, here I am :) 

I'd like to start with my favorite, the last speaker of the first long day who lighten up the hall. His spirit is so high that he made all of us laughed, sighed, gasped and held back a tear: Alvin Lee - The Sand Castle Builder from Castle Can Fly. Too bad that I can't share his original speech here......


He is the type of father that every kids dream of. When his kids (including his own children and niece) wanted to learn drawing, he let them start with A4 paper, then Mahjong paper, and they ended up drawing murals in his house! (kids never learn how to draw within the paper, he said). When his kids wanted to learn to fly a kite, he made them a kite so big that he can tie his younger son on it and try to fly him! (I think you can get the idea on all the fun that his kids enjoyed as a kid)


Building sandcastles started out as one of those fun weekend activities for his children and niece. Since he believe in "if you want to dream, dream BIG", they went to library to do some research and they decided to make a sand castle like the one in the right! 

He then discovered that there was actually no sandcastle-making kit in the market (that was in mid of1990s). He went to Singapore Toys R Us and the manager told him that "if you can't find it here, you can't find it elsewhere". He tried to call his friends and relatives in Australia, US and Europe, he also fax to a few key toy makers then but all came back with negative answers. He then turned his kitchen into a workshop(salute his wife!), started to saw pipes, making blocks etc that can be used to mould the sand for the different parts of sandcastle. From initial basic drawings of lines and shapes, he went on to modelling and prototyping of his newly created toy designs with plastic items. With those prototypes and amazing experiments, his kids enjoyed the homemade sandcastle building set. 
A good friend of him pointed him towards commercialising the self-made tools into a business venture. So he tried to sell this idea to a few toys company, including Singapore Toys R Us. The GM then told him that toy business profit margin is paper-thin and he assure Alvin that his new design is not going to make it. He almost wanted to give up but "How do you tell your children that it cannot be done? That you want to give up?" So he resigned from the corporate world (he's a GM in a MNC then), flew to US with his business plan and passion, and successfully launched and marketed his Beachworks Brand in major toy stores in the United States since 1997. He came back to Singapore with a patent that pay so well that he can stop working for at least 3 years. He went to Singapore Toys R Us again, the GM said "See, I've told you, you'll make it!" :)

I can imagine all the rejections and difficulties that he has to face, and the courage to resign from a well-paid position to become an entrepreneur. Only great people with vision and perseverance can make it happened. Most of us have dreams, and yet, we let them stay as dreams. Actions may not ensure your success, but only actions can make the dreams come true.....Let's act NOW!


If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put foundations under them. ~ Henry David Thoreau




An example of his sand castle building training: http://youtu.be/jmuYPjksoec

Engineer, Innovator, Entrepreneur, Author, Motivational Speaker, Corporate Trainer, and A Family Man. Those are what Alvin Lee all about.
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