1. Home
  2. /
  3. Empower
  4. /
  5. From Bankrupt To Multi-Millionaire:...

Jerome Tan is a multi-millionaire who is now developing the upcoming Melia Iskandar property development project in Johor, Malaysia–one of the largest property developments in South East Asia with his business partners. Getting the international hospitality brand Melia as a partner is no mean feat, especially if you know of Jerome’s background story—having been made a bankrupt.

In 1996, at the age of 36, Jerome started his own holiday resort business. His company organised tours and holiday packages to remote parts of Australia. The business lasted for one year, he lost all his money, and became a bankrupt at the age of 37.

Jerome’s story of going from being a bankrupt to a multi-millionaire in seven years is nothing short of remarkable and he shares this part of his life story as well as his advice about life and money management in his book From Bankruptcy to Multi-Millions in 7 Years, published in 2011.

“He believes in that if you add value to the planet, miracles will come to you in a nick of time.”

This is based on the philosophies of Buckminster Fuller, a systems theorist and inventor who had influenced many, including money mastery author and expert, Robert Kiyosaki. For Jerome, this had happened on countless occasions, the most significant was when he was down-and-out, having only S$1,000 credit left in his overdraft account and three children aged, 3, 7 and 9 to support, yet gave S$750 to his friend who had asked him for a donation for a charity. Two weeks later, at the office where he worked as a salesperson, he received a call, but the caller realised that she had dialled the wrong number, nevertheless, she asked Jerome to go for a free preview of a course called “Money & You”, run by the founder of Success Resources, Richard Tan. Jerome ended up signing up for the programme, but because he didn’t have money, they had allowed him to pay for it with an instalment payment plan.

When asked about the moment he knew he would be on the path to multi-millions despite being a bankrupt, he replied that it was when he had a change in mind-set. In 1999, after he attended the “Money & You” course, an experiential course about money, he had a shift in his mind-set and told his friends that he will become a multi-millionaire one day. For Jerome, it was about accountability—he said, “If you say you are going to do it, you will do it. You have to believe in yourself… many people will not believe you, but you have to be persistent in what you do and never give up!” He continues to say, “Things will always go badly, keep pushing and always find a way, and God will always give you a way.” His two catchphrases express this philosophy:

“Next”—to mean move on, and “No”—to mean “Next opportunity”.

Jerome’s other philosophies include how one should always be thinking of how you can add more value to more people. “People always think about themselves and the people closest to them—their family. But if you think of the community, the planet–the universe will give you so much more than you need for your family.” He believes it’s about giving, not taking, though he understands that people may find this philosophy to be hard to apply in one’s life. He believes in a higher power, which would mean God to some, the universe to others that works on the principle of “the more you give, the more you will receive.”

For this, Jerome is eternally grateful to the founders of Success Resources, Richard and Veronica Tan, as the “Money & You” course led him to change his mind-set and he went on to attend many more of such self-improvement courses. He says, “Without them, I will not be where I am today”.  Richard Tan is now one of Jerome’s business partners in overseas property development projects.

In the 1970s Jerome started his first job as a busboy, laying tables and collecting dishes at a restaurant at Hyatt Singapore. He said to himself that one day he would own a hotel. To him, being the property developer for the upcoming Melia Iskandar property development project in Johor, one of the largest property developments in South East Asia, is a full circle moment.

To Jerome, crisis means opportunities, and opportunities are everywhere–you just have to find the right people to sell to and have strong selling skills. To him, sales skills are the important skills and although most people don’t like to sell, they should realise that sales skills are coachable and learnable skills. It all boils down to mindset, the willingness to learn and to do it.

“Jerome believes that education is one’s highest form of leverage and continues to attend seminars regularly.”

To him, it is the easiest, quickest way to learn about business–from other people’s mistakes.

Having benefitted so much from such self-improvement courses, Jerome went on to create business and mind-set courses such as “Executive Action Programme (EAP)” with a partner, Wendy Kwek, under their company called Executive Directions.

He then started investing in properties with partners, that led him to start another business PIP, which runs courses teaching people how to do invest with no money down. PIP was started based on Jerome’s resourcefulness–when he asked training participants of EAP if they were interested in such a course, without having created any content yet. He thought he would “Do first, and figure it out later.”

It was both these companies, Executive Directions and PIP that led him to become a multi-millionaire. Today, he speaks about property investment in Europe–in Poland and United Kingdom; and in Asia–China, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

Even though Jerome is a multi-millionaire today, he still looks for value. He says it’s ironic because when he was broke he had a car and a Rolex watch, and ever since going for money mastery courses, he sees a car as a liability and currently walks to work or takes public transport. When asked about this irony, he says it’s because when he was broke, he felt he needed to show that he was doing well. When he travels around the world speaking at property seminars, the organisers pay for his flight, and he would always request for a budget airline although he is offered business class flights.  He sleeps on the flight anyway and doesn’t need any meals or service. It is his philosophy of not paying for what he doesn’t need, even when someone else is footing the bill.

When asked what contributed to his success, he replied it is himself, applying what he learnt. He believes that every person contributes to his or her own success or failure. Every person has to take responsibility for his or her own life. It is a choice to get results or to give excuses, and no one can design your destiny except yourself. You can choose to have a “victim’s mind-set” or a “winner’s mind-set”.

He feels that most people live in their own comfort zone and are not willing to do more than their job scope, or what they are currently doing.

To him, he learnt from seminars that he had attended that one should be willing to do what is hard, and to learn not to begrudge the hard times.

Jerome says:

“To lose is OK, just don’t lose the lesson. Learn to look at everything as a lesson. Read books, learn from different sources, there is no good or bad, just take what life serves you. Be positive, be optimistic, and learn how to be positive every day. Mix with positive people, be charged up.”

Be humble, learn from others. Learn to be open-minded and aware, don’t develop “tunnel vision”, learn to take what you can use, what suits you and take what serves you. Be charitable.

When he did an exercise on self-discovery at an Anthony Robbins event, he realised that his top two values were growth and contribution. He regularly donates to charities, often anonymously, donating 10% of his income every year.

Jerome’s tips for success are:

  • Be open-minded and learn.
  • Be charitable
  • Don’t hurt others. Do good.
  • Add value to yourself through education, and add value to others with your work.
  • Be well read. If there is anything you don’t know: find out, learn.
  • Learn about money mastery.
  • Be willing to learn, pay to learn.

The books he recommends reading are: Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki, and Unlimited Power by Anthony Robbins. Tough Times Don’t Last, Tough People Do! by Robert H. Schuller, The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino, and How to be Rich by J. Paul Getty.

“The secrets to his success, Jerome says, are being open-minded, being persistent, and being passionate.”

He also says: “Whatever you want to know is in the book Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.

It’s not the end of the world when you are broke, you can find the money by being resourceful. “There’s always a way to make money”, he says, “even making money with no money—by using the skills you have, for example giving advice or consultation in the area of your expertise.” That was what he led him to start PIP—the business that made him a multi-millionaire. His advice about making money? As long as it is moral, ethical and legal.

“People pay you to solve problems.” Think about how you can add more value to more people, instead of “What’s in it for me?”

Always look to innovate and improve, learn not to have the “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” attitude, Jerome cites examples such as Nokia and Kodak—household names that cease to exist today.

His current dream is to build the second gold coast in Australia, and he is currently taking steps to achieve this.

When asked he regretted any part of his life, Jerome replies “No”.