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Jeff Tan, Founder of, Shares the Readings that Inspired Him to Dare

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Jeff Tan is the founder of, a training and coaching company that combines his education of a therapist with the mentality of a combat pilot.

Jeff has spent 26 years in the Singapore Air Force, as a peak performance pilot. He started working there straight after high school, expecting to retire at 55. Flying combat helicopters and a flight instructor, he rose to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. Because of changes in the military rules, Jeff had to cut the service short.

He took an intense personal mastery course that helped him discover his identity, personal values and purpose in life – might sound cliche, but it made all the difference for him.

Jeff discovered his passion for guiding people and teams along their journey towards excellence, using tools of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming). He completely changed course, specialized in Neuro-Linguistic Programming Trainer and Hypnotherapist, and took a Master’s Degree in Professional Counseling.

He moved to Shanghai and went from being an extremely logical and by-the-book military pilot, to becoming ultra flexible as a business owner.

In 2006, he started, a training and coaching company. Jeff also founded Sticky Steps, a company that makes learning products for young professionals.

We had the opportunity to talk to Jeff and learn more about how books shaped his life. Grab a mug of your favorite hot beverage and keep on reading!

Estimated reading time for this interview is 6 minutes. If you'd rather listen to it, you can do it on iTunes, Google Play or Stitcher.

What’s your favorite book and why? Business and non-business, if possible.

I don’t have a favourite business books or non-business book, but any book by Martin Lindstrom (branding and marketing genius who uses science to prove his point) as I find the mix of neuroscience and cognitive/behavioural science with marketing intensely fascinating!

Was there a moment, specifically, when something you read in a book helped you? Can you tell me about it?

Yes, and the book was “Mavericks at Work” by William Taylor. It’s a collection of stories of how business mavericks made it happen. It inspired me to dare! I’ve read this book multiple times as it always offered me a different perspective whenever I felt stuck.

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What books had the biggest impact on you? (perhaps changed the way you see things, dramatically changed your career path)

1. Mavericks at Work
2. All of Martin Lindstrom’s books

What books would you recommend to youngsters interested in your professional path? Why? (no number limit here)

Any book written by a neuroscientist, or behavioural psychologist. Why? Because these books tell you why people behave the way they do, and since my life is about helping people change, this type of book, filled with real life anecdotes coupled with scientific proof, is extremely useful.

I’m interested in finding out more about your reading habits. How often do you read? In what format?

I prefer reading real books and I used to carry one with me all the time. But often, I get a little bored with what I’m reading and as I have only one book, I’m stuck with it! That’s why I have a kindle now. But I read both types, real books and Kindle books. I read lots whenever I’m out of town and thoroughly enjoy 20-30 mins in a loud and crowded coffee place. I just plug in my earphones to kill the outside noise and I actually read better with my own loud music blaring in my ears.

When I’m not traveling then I read 5 mins a day. And this 5 minute read is enough to satisfy me.

How do you make time for reading?

This might sound gross but I read on the potty (or the can depending on where you studied English!)

Do you take notes or have any other technique for conquering the torrent of information?

I sometimes type a stuff on my phone / take a photo / scribble short notes if I feel like it / make dog ears on important pages / stick post its. One of the above.

How do you choose what books to read next?

I love visiting bookstores to check out what’s new and that’s where I usually find new books / titles to read. Then I decide if I prefer it on a kindle or to buy the real book.

Do you prioritize the books recommended by certain people? Is there anyone that you consider a book-recommendations guru?

Nope, and if someone recommends me a book, if their description sounds interesting I’ll go on Amazon to check it out. But this rarely happens.

Last question: what book are you currently reading and what are you expecting to gain from it?

I’m reading 3 books now and it really depends on my mood.

What do I expect to gain? With the 2nd and 3rd books, it’s to reinforce stuff I already know and both also point out useful tips for my business. The first is just a fascinating read about human nature and it’s purely for pleasure.

Links where you can follow Jeff Tan or find out more about his projects:

All books mentioned by Jeff Tan in this interview:

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