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Malcolm Tan, Founder of Gravitas Holdings, Talks About the Paradigms That Books Shifted in His Life

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Malcolm Tan is a Singapore based lawyer and entrepreneur, currently focused on his work as an ICO/ITO and cryptocurrency advisor.

He’s the founder and CEO of Gravitas Holdings, a premier consultancy company for ICO and ITO (Initial Coin and Initial Token Offerings).

A one-stop-shop on the matter, Gravitas Holdings offers full service for entrepreneurs, including legal, strategic, marketing, token creation and back-office service.

Malcolm’s also the CEO of AEXON Project – a business community dedicated to empowering entrepreneurs and help them benefit from the blockchain tech.

He’s also the author of a book on this subject: “How to ICO/ITO in Singapore“.

A serial entrepreneur at heart, he is legally trained, specialized in various technology, international law and “grey area” legal subjects. An intellectual and litigation lawyer in early practice, and later a full-service lawyer.

Keep on reading to find out more about his favorite books, whose words made him change the way he views his economic potential and choices, and decide to drop his job as a company lawyer and go into business.

Estimated reading time for this interview is 9 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’ll answer these with a longer answer – the series of books that are my favourites. The business book series that set me on the path to entrepreneurship is from Robert Kiyosaki – from Rich Dad, Poor Dad to the Cashflow Quadrant, and his other books. My paradigms shifted after reading those books and made me decide that in order to achieve some arbitrary financial goals, what I was doing at that point in time (being a company lawyer) wasn’t going to enable me to reach those goals, and therefore that I should go into the B (business) quadrant since I was more interested in that than the I (investor) quadrant.

The fiction series that got me hooked was The Wheel of Time series. Every time a new book was published in that LONG series, I immediately got hold of a copy from the bookstore and would spend the next few days reading the books since they were incredibly long. What appealed to me was the epic scale of the series, and how the various protagonists were very well characterized and captured my attention and imagination.

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

Numerous such cases occurred, and there are too many to recall any one particular moment. However, since I already mentioned Kiyosaki‘s books, let’s just say that how he described the E, S, B, and I quadrants changed the way I viewed my economic potential and choices, and in that sense, helped me decide what to embark on following the reading of those books.

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

Again, reading Kiyosaki‘s books changed my life since I chose entrepreneurship and my mind started to open to possibilities that I could create, instead of following the safe, tried and true path of being part of the intelligentsia and going down the professional path that so many choose, that is safe and rewarding, but would probably be very boring when I look back on it. There isn’t much of an opportunity to be extraordinary by following the safe path.

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

I would actually recommend that people interested in business pursue a double degree in accounting and law. Accounting allows one to get a firm grasp of numbers which is crucial in the business world, and a legal background allows one to be truly in control and to know exactly where one stands in any situation, without having to rely upon another’s advice. Law is very important as it is the basic building block of society, and accounting gives one mastery of numbers, which is crucial in business.

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

When I was young, I read 2 books a day on average, from the age of 8 until I was 12. This reading habit was instilled by my mother, and is the foundation block of who I am today, since by reading a whole slew of topics (I also went through the entire Encyclopedia Americana at home by the time I was 12), and having theoretical knowledge and a good general knowledge base, I would start off at an advantage in numerous situations and not have to pick things up through pure trial and error. It also made me a total nerd since I would read beforehand about everything I liked or did, before I even did it – for example, before playing football, I would read a book about it… Today, I read extensively through email and article feeds on topics that interest me (and also a bunch of other articles that happen to be fed to me too by newsletters). The preferred format is the good old hardcopy book.

How do you make time for reading?

I simply never idle or rest. There are constant article feeds on my smart phone or laptop, so I accumulate articles I want to read, and then read them in my downtime.

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

One advantage I have in this aspect is my training as a chess player when I was younger, and a lawyer when I was in university. My concentration is good and I retain a lot of what I read, probably more so than most others, as a natural consequence of my background and what I did. Therefore there is no need to take special notes or adhere to good habits of note taking, recalling and recapping things.

How do you choose what books to read next?

I don’t really choose them – it’s more a function of what I am doing next, which would then lead me to the particular books that I would need to read in order to get up to speed on the new topic.

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

Not really, although I would love to follow a book-recommendations guru. I simply don’t have enough time since I am spread out too thinly, so I don’t have the time or discipline to practice this.

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

I wrote a book recently on How to ICO/ITO in Singapore. I’ll be working on a 2nd edition soon since it is an ever-changing industry and scene with changes occurring every day as cryptocurrencies and ICO’s explode unto public consciousness… so, unfortunately I don’t have the time to embark on someone else’s book right now.

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

All books mentioned by Malcolm Tan in this interview:

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