Home » Blog » For entrepreneur and co-founder of The Kind Friend Jamie, true success is simply ‘inner peace’

For entrepreneur and co-founder of The Kind Friend Jamie, true success is simply ‘inner peace’

In our Dare to Dream series, we invite 12 inspiring individuals who have courageously stepped out of their comfort zones to dream about a future they can truly call their own.  

You might be familiar with journal brand The Kind Friend. What started as a 50,000-strong Instagram community centered around wellbeing eventually grew into a thriving purpose-driven business. Their product? Beautifully made journals designed to help people set goals, track their moods and habits, and pen their reflections. (Even Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg’s caught on.)  

“We talk about self-care a lot during the pandemic, but for me, it’s never about, you know, a bubble bath. It’s about how I can show more compassion and love for myself,” shares 33-year-old Jamie Lee (@jamieclee), co-founder of The Kind Friend. “Journaling is like taking myself out on a date… It allows me to celebrate the person that I’m becoming.”  

For Jamie, who has turned her belief in the benefits of journaling into an impactful business, #daringtodream is about living in alignment with her own values, and the freedom to pursue work that is meaningful to her. Below, get inspired on the entrepreneur’s simple habits for true joy and success, and how making time for introspection has changed her life for the better. 

Why should everyone start journaling? 

I don’t know if I think everyone should. However, I do strongly believe that everyone should make time for reflection. Personally, I’m so passionate about journaling and have been since I was 12. It’s played a critical role in helping me untangle my inner knots and build that emotional resilience. 

My family immigrated to Australia when I was 11. I was born in Taiwan, but I grew up in Sydney. Just imagine: being a kid and moving into a new country where you look different, speak a different language, even eat different food to your peers – all while also trying to cope with (your) parents’ divorce. I became moody, distracted, stressed out…not the person that I wanted to be. Reading and journaling were like my escape. 

I was so grateful that my mom took me to see a therapist then. I know it’s not a norm, coming from Asia. It was during therapy that I learnt how to journal, the science behind it, and how it can really help you to become friends with your emotions. Since then, it’s become a huge part of my daily ritual. 

My morning journal consists of: “How would success look like for me today?” Before bed, I’ll also write down three things I’m grateful for. This helps me start and end the day on a good note. I feel like if you have a good day, you’ll have a good week. If you had a good week, you know you’ll have a good month. Ultimately, you’ll build a pretty good life because of this one simple, yet powerful, habit. 

How has journaling helped you, both personally and professionally as an entrepreneur? 

Like how you’d use an Apple watch or a Fitbit to track your daily habits, journaling provides me with the data that I need to understand if I’m moving forward towards my goals. It’s also a way for me to document my small wins or failures, so that I’m not always focusing on climbing to the mountain top, but also enjoying the view along the way. 

The other part that’s important for me is the gratitude practice. My morning journal consists of: “How would success look like for me today?” Before bed, I’ll also write down three things I’m grateful for. This helps me start and end the day on a good note. I feel like if you have a good day, you’ll have a good week. If you had a good week, you know you’ll have a good month. Ultimately, you’ll build a pretty good life because of this one simple, yet powerful, habit. 

The Kind Friend bullet journal

The Kind Friend bullet journal

 

Also read: “Just like your physical health, mental health is a key part of your well-being”: In conversation with mental health advocate Sabrina Ooi

Besides journaling, what’s a habit or belief that has positively impacted your life in recent years?  

I like to incorporate my values into habits that I can track daily. I believe values should start with a verb, not a noun, and should be an action that you incorporate into your daily routine. For example, because gratitude is one of my core values, I would incorporate that into my daily routine. 

I also recently listened to a podcast between Oprah and Barack Obama, and I loved what he said: “There are only two things we have control over in our lives. One is your effort and energy to prepare for the unknown. And the second is how you respond to the unknown. Everything else is just noise.”  This mindset gives me a sense of clarity and peace. I don’t have much control over things like looks, money and everything else, but what I do have control over is my ability to learn and the effort, time and energy I invest into something. 

 

What’s the best investment you’ve made in yourself? 

Betting on myself. And surrounding myself with people who are good for my soul, good for my mental health and good for my professional journey. 

 

When did you first learn about money? 

Through playing Monopoly! It’s such an amazing game that portrays life so well. In Monopoly, all players care about is passing a round, and collecting that $200 without buying any assets. That’s how the majority of people are living their life: they care about passing through, collecting that salary, and not purchasing assets that generate passive income on the side. As a kid, that really gave me a perspective around how you should utilize your money or allocate your assets. 

Another book that really changed my perspective about personal finance was ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’. I was so inspired by that book that my first business was about financial literacy education for primary school kids. I was pretty fed up with the schooling system, so I created my own curriculum. It attracted a lot of national and media attention because we simulated a real-life version of Monopoly in our learning environment.  

So, say, if you enjoy writing, you can come to our classroom and apply for a job as a writer, and you’ll get paid every week. The catch was: whenever you come in, you must “pay” for your own chair. They act as your property, so if you do not pay, you sit on the floor. We had this little girl – she was only six at the time – who purchased three chairs and was renting the other two out to her friends at a higher price, generating passive income for herself. The whole thing was about play, and the reason I created it was because that was an education I wish I had when I was growing up. 

 

What does success mean to you now? 

When I was in my early 20s, I was chasing external validation. On paper, it may seem like I was doing things for the benefit of others, but I think I was trying to prove to myself. When you’re young, you don’t really know how to take space in the world – so I was influenced by my surroundings. I do feel grateful that I was surrounded by a bunch of entrepreneurs and very smart people. But now, my ‘why’ has slightly shifted: my definition of success is just peace. I want to go to bed every night knowing that I’ve done the best I can do for that day. 

I like how Warren Buffet measures his life using an ‘inner scorecard’. It’s (his principle) of living through values that are important to you. When I’m deciding between opportunities or starting a business, it needs to align with my values and long-term goals. The quality of your life is really the quality of the relationships you have, so I want to work with smart people and good people.  

I never want to have that feeling of Monday blues. I want my work to have meaning. I want to be excited every day that I get – I think if you’re lucky enough to have a new day, it’s not a given, it’s a gift. Freedom is important to me. I don’t want to have to worry about finances, hence, I want to make sure that we have enough assets that can generate passive income. I want my work to be meaningful, but at the same time, I have the freedom to do whatever I want, with my time. 

What piece of advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs? 

I’ve learned the hard way that in society, we see the trees, but we don’t see the roots. We think that entrepreneurs have all this freedom and money but that’s not true. You won’t have your freedom for the first three years because you’re hustling. 

I’d probably ask them, “What are you willing to sacrifice?” You read so many successful (business) stories, but you don’t realize the things that you need to sacrifice for it. The reality is you’ll be working 10, 12 hours a day, and you might not be paying yourself for over a year, especially if you’re bootstrapping. Rather than just thinking, “In five years time, the business will generate $5 or 10 million, and we’re gonna raise money,” you also need to think backwards in terms of the trade-offs. 

Also read: For former lawyer turned sustainability champion Meaghan See, pursuing her passion is a hard-won dream come true

What little steps can our readers take to move towards their own respective dreams?  

Everything in life comes from compound interest. I started my first business when I was about 21, and even though it failed, it was a great foundation for me to build my network. When we launched The Kind Friend, I was able to (use) the network I’ve built since I was 21. Right away we got to work with over 40 organizations in our first year, even with large companies like Spotify, Netflix, Google, and Amazon. 

It’s also the same thing with fitness, right? You’re not going to have a six pack within a day. Compound interest can also apply to compounding problems. What that means is, postponing the pain (of doing something) today is only going to be harder for you tomorrow.  

 

Lastly, what does your version of a ‘dream future’ look like in the next five or twenty years? 

I never want to have that feeling of Monday blues. I want my work to have meaning. I want to be excited every day that I get – I think if you’re lucky enough to have a new day, it’s not a given, it’s a gift. Freedom is important to me. I don’t want to have to worry about finances, hence, I want to make sure that we have enough assets that can generate passive income. I want my work to be meaningful, but at the same time, I have the freedom to do whatever I want, with my time. 

One of my current dreams is to also build my own home near the beach in Australia. I love the idea of having total control of what my living space would look like. 

 

Written by: Sarah Khan

Follow Jamie’s #DaretoDream journey on our socials. This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity. Enjoyed this article? Take your little step today – write your dream pledge card for 2022 here 

Interested in trying out The Kind Friend journal? We’re giving away 5 notebooks, as part of our #DaretoDream giveaway. Details here.

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