By Saira Bilal
Armed with an MBA, Valerie Prasetyo entered the world of work straight out of university where she quickly found out that she preferred to operate on her own terms. Valerie is a serial entrepreneur, having launched several businesses in quite diverse fields. She has combined this with her passion for dance, competing at international level. The discipline and mental training of being a world class athlete has helped hone her business skills and to successfully venture into different businesses. Today she is a crypto currency and property investor, success strategist, international speaker and world champion. (www.valerieprasetyo.com)
Valerie, after completing your MBA, you started working at one of the Central-Asian banks, and in parallel, at the very young age of 22 you created your own business. What triggered you to start out as an entrepreneur?
Freedom, making dreams come true, fulfillment, networking, travel, adventure, constant growth and learning, my own terms and conditions – these words come into my mind when I think about entrepreneurship.
My first job was actually as an instructor of group training at a local fitness studio. I was also a wedding and events coordinator and tried many other jobs (from HR to corporate manager) while searching for something that was ‘really me’. But honestly, each and every single job I had, I didn’t like. Simply because of the same routine, the same unhappy boss who demands more and tries to cut costs, lack of creativity and the opportunity to grow professionally and personally. For sure, not all companies are like this and corporate cultures are all different, however, at any job there are some limits. What triggered me to open my own business is passion. If there is something that fuels you inside, an idea that keeps you awake the whole night and creative projects that you want to bring into life – just go for it. I always wanted to have my own business that is why I was basically studying for it. But there is no right or wrong time to start; there is always an opportunity to get experience. And the earlier, the better.
What was the nature of the business you started at 22? How has it evolved over time?
I opened a dance school for amateurs. It offered different dance styles so that each and every single person who has an interest in this art/sport, could find something for themselves. The idea was to teach people to move graciously when it comes to ‘show up’ or maybe ‘light up’ on the dance floor. It also helps people to release stress, become more flexible in body and in mind, to learn more about themselves and then just ‘be themselves’. Teaching was just one part of the business; we also did our own shows, were taking part in big events like charity balls and national events to promote our school. We were also sponsoring some events. In addition to my job, teaching, managing business and working in the fitness club, I was a choreographer at a beauty contest, so it was a lot of work. During that time, I learnt how to outsource and work on my business, not in my business. We were hiring teachers so that we had more time to work on other exciting projects and move the business forward. We did not have business coaches or mentors. I had just graduated, and my business partner was still in her last year at university. I am telling this story to encourage those who want to start their own business but who might have concerns or fears, – also to those who are experiencing some ‘down’ period in life. We (women) have an incredible gift – intuition, so use it! I am not saying that we don’t need coaches and teachers because we do need them! But learning is just one thing. You need to implement, act and constantly move. So, you must learn how to trust yourself, believe in your own abilities and the power of creativity. It works. And there is nothing more inspiring than realising your own projects and doing what you really love to do.
Answering your second question, the school was developing faster than we expected, and we had so many participants sometimes that there was not enough space – so we moved to a bigger place. However, sometimes life decides that it’s time to stretch your ‘limits’ and it pushes you out of your comfort zone and shakes the ground so that you can grow further. Because of many things that happened in my life, at some point, I made a tough decision to close it and move forward.
When and why did you decide to quit your job? Was it a difficult decision and have you ever regretted it?
Just a short foreword to answer your question. The first person I went to show my business plan for a school was my dad, because he had great experience in business. Also, I was looking for finances (haha!), but for the first time in my life he said. “No! Focus on your job, work hard for the next couple of years and then we’ll talk about it again.” He was insisting that I get as much experience in the corporate world as possible. And I think he was right. Whether you like it or not, you can learn a lot in big corporations and later, if you wish, bring this experience into your own business. However, I am not really a patient person and will always find the way to achieve what I want. So, some weeks after our talk I invited him to the opening of my school. To say that he was surprised is an under statement, but he looked very proud of my efforts and it was a really precious moment.
I left my job some months later but the reason for it was very personal. As I mentioned, hard times came into my life. I lost my parents in a car accident. It’s like in one second you lose everything: your ‘why’ and ‘purpose’, your support and understanding, you even lose yourself. I left my job simply because I fell into a deep depression and did not want to continue to do what is not really me anyway. Do I regret the decision? I think I could have stayed a bit longer to build deeper knowledge and more experience. On the other side, I’ve never regretted it because I am very grateful for the life I have now. And obviously, if I had stayed, I would not have what I have now.
How did you build your knowledge in property and crypto-currency? If anyone wants to follow your lead, how should they start?
I once read a book “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”by Robert Kiyosaki and after that I couldn’t stop thinking of passive income and how I can turn my business into a ‘passive income’ stream. You can’t find all the answers in a book though. Instead you need to go out and search. I did not have any experience at all and there was nobody who could give me solid advice regarding real estate. So, the first passive income I generated was from renting out my own property. The first investment I did five years ago was a small buy-to-let that was in my opinion a very good deal. When you get good results and understand how it works, you want to know how to make improvements. Together with my life/sport/business partner we started to invest a lot in different property seminars, mentor ships, programs. Then we founded our property investment company and we are still exploring new strategies and ways to grow our business and property portfolio.
With the crypto currency it took much longer. I heard about ‘Bitcoin’ for the first time maybe in 2009. It was in news. I thought ‘hmm, interesting…’ but I was too busy with my business and job, etc. Some years ago, someone approached us to invest in crypto, but we were very skeptical. Our focus was on our sport career and it meant nothing to us at that time. Are we are regretting it now that we did not invest? Emmm, yes, we are! On the other hand, sometimes it’s not only about products, services and investments opportunities, it’s about with whom you are going to work with. So, more than one year into the coaching program, we were approached again to invest in crypto currency. This person, who is now our business partner and mentor, was the first person who was able to explain it in a simple and understandable way. We did our due diligence, researched a lot and decided to give it a try. And guess what? It worked! And if you know how to do it you can return your investment pretty fast and continue earning your passive wealth.
What excites us about crypto is its mission – to give ‘power to the people’, while eliminating any middle entity that controls, manipulates or regulates. In fact, each and every one, even with a small investment should test this market. For sure there are a lot of different strategies and tools to take into consideration. But if you’re ready to learn, all the doors start to open. So, constantly grow your knowledge and your mindset. Find a person who has already succeeded and already has what you want to have, who is able to help you on your path. That will speed up the process and give you a chance to eliminate big mistakes and failures. I am always open to help people who really want changes in their lives and strive to enjoy financial freedom. Just get in touch with me.
Is there someone who inspired or mentored you along the way? What were the key takeaways you learned from them?
Definitely. As it’s often said: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
We have mentors in the property business and in crypto currency. We have business coaches, sport trainers and spiritual mentors. We often talk about success in business, however in sport it’s pretty much the same. The important take away is essentially your ‘values’. Establish and follow your own core values and never ever allow any person or any situation to compromise them. This will help you evaluate any deal, any potential strategic alliance and any choice you are asked to make. Sometimes the surface looks like gold, but delve deeper, what are the roots? Is it all resonating with you or not? If not, leave it, even if it means saying no to any financial reward. As Hugh Hilton, aka the business turn around specialist, CEO and managing director of ‘Alvarez & Marsal Capital Real Estate, LLC’ mentioned in our interview, ‘you need to be able to establish your relationships not only on a legal-basis, but also based on common values. Because when hard times come, this is what is keeping everything in alignment’.
Another insight is to know your numbers and how to evaluate them. Very often I see (especially with some women), people have brilliant ideas, or in case of crypto currency and other investments, (mostly it’s men), they become very excited about the possible results and just go for it – all in. Your decision can’t be based on somebody’s knowledge, past experience and advice. It should be based on your own mathematical calculations. And they are very simple. It’s not cosines or tangents. Just invest a bit time to know how to calculate your numbers fast. And one more piece of advice – never allow your emotions and dramas to influence your decision making. You will always have good days and bad days, just continue moving forward. Celebrate your successes, learn from your mistakes, but don’t allow your ‘little voice’ to withdraw you from the game. It’s like in sports, if you had a bad first round, just keep your focus on the next one. You know what should be done better, just go and do your work. And vice versa, if you had excellent results, it’s not time to relax, focus on the prize. The difference between the winners and the champions is that one-time winners settle down and real champions continue to grow and stretch their limits. And that’s what I always work on with my clients and investors.
If you could go back in time and give your 22-year old self some advice, what would that be?
There will be lots of turns and twists in your life so stay strong. You have enough power to overcome any obstacle. You can fall down many times, but you can always stand up and find your way to the top. Just don’t give up on yourself. The whole Universe is here to help. There will be many dark moments, so focus on the light. Everything has its own cycle, everything is temporary. Just be patient and find a lesson in the current situation. If you’re alone on your way, learn how to enjoy your own company, celebrate and value yourself. If you met like-minded people, acknowledge them, look deep into their eyes and always see the best in people. Keep your heart open. However, there will be people, who will try to bring you down, betray and break your trust, just let them be. Stay true to your values and take responsibility for your own actions. What others do and say is none of your business.
And finally, constantly invest in your own self: your spirit, mindset and body. Growth is the key to any success. Hire coaches, surround yourself with the people whom you admire and want to be like. Stay positive. Life is an amazing gift so discover all its facets.
What is your dream or ultimate goal, either private or professional?
This will be a very long list! 🙂
It’s true, I do have a list of things I want to try in life and goals to accomplish. As well as dreams that look so unreal sometimes, but they have a very incredible function – to come true from time to time.
My biggest goal now is to publish my own book in the near future and spread it globally. Also, to help as many people as possible to unleash their inner champion and conquer as many peaks as possible, become the best version of themselves and reach the top (whether it’s career, business, relationship and life in general). Another goal is to bring awareness about financial education and crypto investment to women around the world. Help them to get involved and help this young industry grow in the right direction serving its initial mission.
You are also an international Speaker, is that something you enjoy?
Well, as you know I am a professional dancer and to perform publicly is nothing new for me. I think the first time I was on stage, was when I was three years old. But to be honest, I’ve never ever thought, that I could be a Speaker. It was something unreal for me. But anything in this life seems to be unreal until you try it. And when I tried it, I found out that I actually can. And there even people who like my talks!
However, it’s not about whether people like it or not, it’s about how many can learn something, implement it in their lives, start a new life, stop being afraid of changes. And this part I like the most about speaking. Nowadays, it’s a big part of any business. It does not matter in what industry you are, if you want to spread your message, attract more customers, bring awareness, inspire and simply share your knowledge and experience, start to learn public speaking.
You will also be speaking at the ‘Global Woman Summit’ in New York (July 14th-15th 2018). How do you feel about speaking at this summit in NY?
I am very excited about it for sure. It’s an amazing opportunity to meet a lot of business owners, speaking gurus and to learn from others. When you take part in big events you never know exactly what outcomes it will bring, whom you’ll meet or maybe whose life you will change. I remember, last year I was interviewing John Travolta in LA and it was a really unforgettable experience. That was taking steps out of the comfort zone – to go on the stage in front of 2500 people and a have a conversation with one of the most well-known actors in the world. The Global Woman Summit is also a great opportunity to stand out with my personal ideas and projects, as well as to connect with hundreds of like-minded people and let’s see, maybe to do great business together!