The Secrets to Success in Life According to One Southern California Multi-Millionaire

Ferrari Collector David S.K. Lee
Ferrari Collector David S.K. Lee

In a world where so many are simply trying to keep their heads above water and avoid drowning in a sea of debt and never-ending bill payments, most people aren’t as concerned about succeeding in life as they are with mere financial survival. When so many are enthralled in one problem after another, success seems more like a distant fairytale fantasy than an ever-attainable reality.

However, while most of the world is out there struggling, there are those that are enjoying the fruits of their labor. There are people out there that have learned the so-called secrets to success in life and have wielded them relentlessly in a bid to attain their goals and make all of their once-dreamed-up wishes, now-present realities.

So what are these supposed secrets to success? How does one go from scurrying about in this rat race to actually succeeding and achieving their goals in life? How can a person go from being in debt over their eyeballs, to having the means to travel, spend endless moments with their family, and being rich beyond measure? Is it some fabled fantasy that others are trying to sell us? Or is this actually attainable?

What are the Secrets to Success in Life?

In a recent article for Forbes, I chronicled the life of a Southern California millionaire and Instagram Influencer named, David S.K. Lee, owner of the L.A.-based Hing Wa Lee Group empire. Hing Wa Lee is the purveyor of high-end jewelry, and a major player in the real estate market, with a variety of diverse assets and investments spanning several continents.

David Lee, is the driving force behind Hing Wa Lee, working relentlessly, day after day, week after week, month after month and year after year to grow the business started by his father, a refugee who fled China to Hong Kong in the mid-1960’s. Lee learned the pertinent lessons for success directly from his father, the namesake behind Hing Wa Lee, who instilled a deep-seated set of morals, values and ethics in his children from early on.

So when I posed the question to David S.K. Lee, a man who’s built a fortune of roughly half-a-billion dollars over the past two decades, and has amassed one of the largest and most expensive privately-owned collections of Ferraris in the world worth over $50 million, I wanted to know what made him tick, so to speak. How did he do it? What were his secrets to attaining such wild success in life?

#1 — Work Hard

First and foremost, what Lee told me was pretty straightforward. He says to work hard. It isn’t just about smarts, because he finds smarts to be subjective. He says that working hard trumps working smart, because the most successful people weren’t always the smartest, but they were always the hardest workers. And, if you think you know the meaning of working hard, you might want to think again.

To Lee, working hard meant pulling all-day-and-all-night work shifts. In 1993, upon opening their initial retail location in San Gabriel, California, Lee tells me he was always the first in the door in the morning, and always the last one to leave in the evening. Pulling 12 to 14-hour shifts every single day year after year is no small feat. It takes an incredible amount of determination and will to follow through.

#2 — Work with Integrity

The second secret to Lee’s success has been to work with integrity. Working hard can only get you so far. If you try to take shortcuts, cheat people, lie, or do any other number of underhanded things, there’s almost zero chance to attain long-term success. Sure, you might reap some short-term ill-deserved gains, but Lee says it won’t last very long.

He tells me that his word is his bond. If he tells someone that he’s going to do something, no matter what the cost, financially or otherwise, he does it. Because that’s the way his father taught him to do things, and that’s the way he has always known to do things. It has been one of the tools in his arsenal for achieving success beyond even his own wildest dreams.

#3 — Work with Persistence

In 1993, at the outset of his business, Lee flew to Basel, Switzerland in an attempt to secure a Rolex Certified Dealership. It was no easy feat. After mailing them repeatedly, and receiving rejection letter after rejection, Rolex kept insisting that if he was anybody worth knowing about, that they would know about him. But Lee was determined to secure that certified dealership.

After a 14-hour flight, and with no appointment set, he waited for 10 hours in an attempt to secure a chat with the national sales manager. There were 10 hourly appointments set for that day, and 5 minutes between each appointment. Lee waited there and was rejected each of the 10 times. He came back the next day to try again, but to no avail.

Lee flew home and contacted Rolex, but they rejected him again. The year later, he flew back to Basel, attending the event once more, repeating the cycle from the prior year. Again, he was rejected until the last moment when the sales manager took 5 minutes of his time to speak to Lee. He was extremely nervous, but tried to plead his case. The sales manager told him they would consider his bid.

Lee flew back home and was still discouraged. However, some time later, he received a phone call from Rolex informing him that they would be visiting him in the next several months. After that critical visit, they accepted Hing Wa Lee Jewelers as an authorized dealer for Rolex, something that doesn’t normally happen for a jewelry business before 20 or 30 years in retail. Lee accomplished this in 2 years because of his tenacity.

How to Succeed in Life

While Lee’s secret’s to success in life, which he calls his three golden rules, are straightforward, they aren’t easily implemented. We all face stumbling blocks, fall down and even fail quite often. It’s difficult to stay encouraged when all you hear is negativity. But, every person who has achieved any measure of success has failed repeatedly. The difference was that they didn’t give up.

Working hard, working with integrity and working with persistence to achieve your goals is far easier said than done. These success secrets sound basic and fundamental, but they’re anything but that. We all know that things get in the way, diverting and consuming our attention and our time, making it hard for us to stay focused and on track.

Of course, while these secrets to success will help anyone out in the long term, you still need to ensure you set your goals the right way, make detailed plans and take action towards their attainment on a daily basis. Work tirelessly towards your goals, but ensure you work within the framework of these 3 success secrets and you’ll find yourself inching closer and closer to your dreams with each passing year rather than further and further away.

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