Email Interview #30: Merry Riana

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Today, I am pleased to have the honor of posting the email interview I did with a millionaire in Singapore. She made her first million when she was 26!!!

Coincidentally, she is the wife of my very good friend, Alva which I met in a Neuro Linguistic Programming practitioner course 8 years ago.

While reading her replies and after exchanging a few emails with her, I learnt many positive attributes from this inspiring lady. One of them is she is really humble and she is really quick in agreeing and replying my email.

I hope you can too, as you are reading this post, be inspired by this young entrepreneur and follow your own dream.

* Start of Interview *

1. Please share with my readers who you are and what nature of business you are running.

Merry Riana, Founder and Chairlady of Merry Riana Organization, made her first million when she was 26 years old. After graduating from Nanyang Technological University with a $40,000 study loan debt, zero capital and no network, she dived into a career in sales. Relying on pure determination, hard work and a positive attitude, Merry astounded her chosen sales industry by breaking many achievement records and setting new ones. In four short years after University she earned her first million dollars.

Now she is focused on inspiring and helping other young people achieve financial freedom and success at a young age. Through her training and consultancy services, she has touched thousands of lives and won the community’s recognition for her work and contribution. Merry’s alma mater awarded her the Nanyang Outstanding Young Alumni Award in 2006 and she won the Spirit of Enterprise Award in 2008. Her success story has also been a regular feature in many publications including The Straits Times, The Sunday Times, The New Paper and others.

In 2006, Merry launched her first book “A Gift From A Friend”, which became a bestseller in major bookstores in Singapore. Using her own story as an example, Merry shares how one can start out with less than nothing to achieve success early in life.

2. What motivates you to create your business?

While I was in University I started to think about my life more seriously. I saw how my parents needed to work hard even though they were already in their 50s, just so they could provide for their children’s education and save up for their retirement. That prompted me to want to achieve success early in my life.

I wanted to give them a better life. I wanted my parents to enjoy great food, travel to exotic countries and live life fully. Seeing as I was already 21 at that time and my parents were in their 50s, I thought that if I only achieved success in my 40s or 50s, my parents would be too old by then. I might not have much quality time to spend with them. And they might be restricted by their health and their old age to enjoy all the things that I wanted to provide for them. While I might have the time, on a personal level, to achieve success later in life; but the question is, can they?

So it was important for me to achieve success while I am still young. It wasn’t so much about me, but for my parents. Therefore, I made a resolution to achieve success before I reached the age of 30. That gave me a specific deadline of about 10 years to achieve my goal.

3. Were there any challenge you face along the way? Please share one which almost stop you from pursuing your dream.

Immediately after graduating from school, I was $40,000 in debt and cut off from any income from the student loan. I had to start earning some income fast; for my living expenses as well as to repay the student loan debt. I had decided to become an entrepreneur and do a business in sales rather than to take the traditional safe path of an employee. But I faced a lot of resistance for my decision, from my parents, teachers and friends.

My friends thought I was crazy when I told them about my thoughts of becoming an entrepreneur immediately after graduation. Some of those who were not close to me even thought that I was forced to become an entrepreneur because I couldn’t secure a proper job. While those closer to me knew that I chose this path because of my goals, they were also skeptical and tried to discourage me. My teachers, tutors and lecturers also thought that it was a bad idea to go into business based on sales upon graduation. Of course going into sales would give me less stability in terms of my monthly income. There was also no guarantee that I would be successful.

All of them advised me to pursue a more stable career in the engineering field instead. These opinions didn’t really bother me or deter me in my determination to do sales. After all, it is my life, and I am free to live it the way I want.

However, I still decided to get my parents’ consent for my choice of career. As I had expected, they were extremely uncomfortable with the idea of me wanting to do my own business in sales right after graduation and with a $40,000 debt to repay. They wanted me to get a stable job with a fixed income instead. After much persuasion, I eventually came to a compromise with them.

I promised them that I would only try out this business for three months. If at the end of three months there were no signs of growth or success whatsoever, then I would stop. I assured them that when that happens I would get a normal nine-to-five job with a stable pay just like what they wanted. They finally agreed and with that, I started my first business in sales.

4. How did you cope then? What motivates you to push on?

The initial resistance that I faced spurred me to want to prove myself even more. Of course it was not always smooth sailing. I faced a lot of rejections and disappointments. Being human, I had moments when I felt down and disheartened. But through it all, I never seriously considered giving up. What made me go on was my desire to provide a better life for my parents and the goals that I wanted to achieve. I’m also very fortunate to have had the support and encouragement of my husband, Alva, who has been my business partner since the beginning of my journey.

5. If there is this one tip you can share with anyone who wants to start a business, what is it?

When an opportunity appears, ask yourself these two questions: 1) What is the worst case scenario? 2) If the worst happens, can I handle it? If the answer to the second question is a “Yes”, then grab that opportunity. Then, with the opportunity in hand, you should move on to the next step of finding a mentor who has already done what you want to do and learn from them. Offer something of value to them first to convince them to mentor you.

If you have a proposal or project that can add value to them then they may be open to mentoring you. Later, you can even move on to the next project where there is greater involvement from both parties. And you can move on from project to project until you eventually become business partners.

6. How do you juggle your time between running your business and spending it with your family.

I usually wake up at 8 a.m. and then I will spend some time with my little girl before going to the office. When I reach the office, it is usually around 10 a.m. and I’ll conduct meetings with my different groups of staff. Once that is done, I will then attend to external appointments, meaning people who have made prior arrangements to meet me in my office.

I leave the office at around 4 p.m. and will usually go to deliver my talks in companies that have engaged me as their speaker or trainer. I get home after dinner and spend time with my loved ones. Thereafter, I start work again at night, either writing on my blog or answering e-mails from people who have read my book or visited my websites.

7. Any other final thing you would love to share in this interview.

I have one golden rule in business: Integrity. Whatever the cost, regardless of any implications or consequences, I believe I must uphold this rule without question. Without integrity, I believe there will be no firm foundation for my accomplishments. I can build my business to be as big and strong as I possibly can, but the moment I compromise on my integrity, the whole thing may just crumble down overnight.

* End of Interview *

Merry Riana is a millionaire entrepreneur, best-selling author & master trainer. To know more about Merry, visit


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