From Humble Beginnings To The World Stage: The Man Who Perfected Passive Income – Forbes

For John Lee, CEO and founder of Wealth Dragons and Membby, a normal life was never an option.

Born in the U.K. to first-generation Chinese parents, John’s path in life had been laid out in front of him. To his parents, a stable job was the end goal. “They wanted me to work hard and get an education so I could find a normal job,” John shared. 

At just seven years old, he started working long hours over the weekend washing dishes in his mom’s kitchen. He was left behind by his peers and completely missed out on his social life. 

Outside of work, he rarely saw his parents until the age of 11. Ultimately, John saw a future that he didn’t want for himself. 

The lightbulb moment

Throughout school and university, he followed his parents’ advice and spread himself thin between three jobs to make ends meet. But even after he graduated with a degree in animation, he found himself stuck. 

He was left with no time for himself and no freedom to live the life that he truly wanted. He had an epiphany. He realized that he was trading time for money. If he stopped for even a second, he stopped earning. At that moment, he knew that he had to make a change.

After several years of working in central London and losing daylight to three-hour-long commutes, John was at his breaking point when his best friend gave him a book called Rich Dad Poor Dad, which opened up his eyes to the idea of earning passive income.

The five-figure risk

John’s first mentor was Ying Tan, who managed an impressive number of real estate properties under his belt at a young age. John, being new to the industry, was eager to learn about such passive income opportunities and struck up a conversation. “I remember asking Ying if I could sit down with him. I wanted to buy him a coffee and pick his brain,” he shared. 

Ying’s reply was “No.” 

That one-word response took John by surprise. “At first, I thought it was rude,” he recalled. “But I realized one thing about mentors: They’re busy.” 

While John had formerly been busy building wealth for somebody else, Ying spent his time earning passive income and expanding his empire. This was the life that John knew that he had to lead. Ying’s seemingly cold response wasn’t enough to curb John’s enthusiasm, and he pressed further. He needed to learn from the best.

John asked, “What’s it gonna take for me to sit down with you for a few hours?”

Ying replied, “If you want to spend a weekend with me, it’s £10,000.” John was dumbstruck by the cost. It was far more zeros than he was expecting. Ying explained, “If you don’t have £10,000, that’s exactly the reason that you need me as your mentor. I could teach you for free, but I know that you won’t do anything with what I teach you. Get some skin in the game, and put your money where your mouth is.”

With bills to pay, John had to find the money in the next week.

Making the sacrifice

Without telling anyone, John sold his Honda convertible and used the money to pay for Ying’s mentorship with the knowledge that this sacrifice could be the catalyst for a lifetime of success. 

“When people found out, they thought I was crazy.” John said. But he begs to differ. “Those two days changed my life. Six months later, I bought 35 houses. Ying knew how to buy houses without using money, and I’ve since used this knowledge to transact hundreds of property deals.”

John took full advantage of his mentorship. As he began to build success through real estate, people started to take notice. They wanted to know just how he had made it, and momentum began to build.

A conversation over coffee with one person turned into a discussion with five. That discussion with five people turned into an office meeting with 20, and it soon became 50. Before long, John became a world-renowned speaker, and created the Wealth Dragons Group to teach asset-based wealth and passive income creation. 

He has since shared the stage alongside greats like Sir Richard Branson and Bill Clinton, published two best-selling books, and had a successful IPO without any institutional capital. Today, John’s company has hundreds of investors, and his impact is far reaching.

John owes his success to making sacrifices and taking risks today rather than tomorrow. As John says, “I don’t want to wake up at 70 years old and regret not taking a risk or making a deal.” 

Going forward and giving back

To further teach the next generation the skills and knowledge about financial freedom that they’re not taught at school, John launched Wealth Dragons, an online platform where through expert mentorship teaches self-development, wealth-creation, and entrepreneurship. 

His latest endeavor in particular helps budding business owners succeed in an incredibly challenging global climate. A will to help others was all the encouragement that John needed to invest £4 million into building Membby, which allows anybody to operate their own online e-learning business in less than 10 minutes, with no experience necessary. “The app lets you get paid for making an impact,” John explains. As John knows well, information is as much of a currency as money itself.

John has one last message for those who want to make a change in their life: Take risks today to build a better life tomorrow. You never want to grow old wishing that you had done things differently.

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