Identify areas of your life where you already have a track record of success and write them down.

I recall in primary school I was a bit of a dreamer. I wasn’t particularly engaged in my studies. Then one day, it was light a light switch was flipped in my head and I suddenly took my schooling seriously. I became so focused and self directed in creating a study plan and really leaving all distractions behind. I went on excel in secondary school and going to university. For me, it is academic achievement, being first author on peer reviewed medical and scientific journal publications, speaking at national and international conferences.

Starting something new is scary. Learning to believe in yourself can be a critical precursor to starting a new initiative. Why is it so important to learn to believe in yourself? How can someone work on gaining these skills? In this interview series, we are talking to business leaders, authors, writers, coaches, medical professionals, teachers, to share empowering insights about “How To Learn To Believe In Yourself.” As a part of this series we had the pleasure of interviewing Lorwai TAN.

Lorwai TAN is a medical research scientist, property investor, blockchain technology early adopter and blogger (

She firmly believes all forms of success begin with having a mindset and attitude that takes ownership of everything that life gifts us.

Lorwai’s Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) is to establish a medical research institute that is aimed at supporting women scientists thrive professionally and personally.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

Thank you Savio, for having me on this interview.

I was born in Malaysia, the youngest of five daughters, to a military father and stay-at-home mom. When I was 18, I left the country to study in Adelaide, South Australia. Despite having four sisters, I spent much of my time alone. Instead of letting this isolation bring me down, I used it as an opportunity to develop my skills and passions — reading books and playing the guitar. Reading provided me with expansive knowledge of language and literature while guitar gave me an outlet for creativity and expression.

As the saying goes, “every cloud as a silver lining” — for me it was when I discovered I had a talent for music that I developed to the point where I played in bands semi professionally while I was doing my PhD. That was a nice way to supplement my scholarship stipend.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

Even as a child I was very conscious of power imbalance in relationships eg parents having the final say in how the household runs, what school their kids go to, the company they keep. I understand that parents want the best for their children; however I grew up in a culture that did not brook any dissent. There were no discussions, and we were expected to do as we were told. Being a military man my father’s approach was “if I want your opinion, I will give it to you”.

I am also a very practical person; I figured that to be able to do what I wanted required money or more precisely, financial independence. In that sense, I am passionate about learning financial literacy and applying my knowledge in the real world to create wealth, which is an old English word for wellbeing. So, wealth is wellbeing in the physical, mental, and spiritual sense.

I don’t have a specific “career” that I wanted to pursue-each job or role I took on I saw as a vehicle to accumulating practical knowledge in finance and investing. Along the way, I also learned new skills that I would not have if I had stayed in one field. These new skills I picked up include, face to face lead generation, sales, copywriting, website design, SEO which are so far removed from my formal university education in molecular biology and freshwater ecology. Go figure!

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I first discovered that investing in residential property was one way to accumulate wealth, I went a bit overboard. I expanded my portfolio quite aggressively using the strategy where equity was taken out of investment property number 1 to be the deposit for investment property number 2. However, that was just before the GFC of 2008; all my plans for buying another property with the intention of sub dividing the land and creating 3 House and Land package deals had to be halted. It killed my plans for a quick turnover which also meant I had holding costs that I hadn’t factored in.

In business there is a saying that cashflow is king; so here I was having to bail out the project using emergency funds that luckily, I had access to. It was not funny then, if fact it was quite stressful having to negotiate with my bank when payments were still expected but cashflow was slow!

The lesson I learned was that I didn’t die when I had to pick up the phone to talk to my financial institution. In fact, it was empowering because the natural inclination is to run away and hide to avoid the “unpleasant” conversation.

However, when I did have the frank discussion with them, I discovered they are keen to see the project finished and will help with organizing a payment schedule to meet your financial commitments.

I am glad I did that because, fast forward to 2021–2022, my holdings have increased in value and now in very positive territory.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

I am fascinated by how Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning can revolutionize healthcare. There are cutting edge applications that use thousands of data points gleaned from years of patient records that can be used to assist the medical profession in clinical decision making.

Humans however smart have only so much capacity to process information. In comparison, the more sophisticated machine learning models can use gigabytes of information and then refine their processes (they “teach” themselves through multiple iterations) to come up with predictive models in very short time.

For instance, these models when trained properly can predict if a patient admitted into hospital is likely to do worse after a procedure. This gives the medical team a heads up to monitor this patient carefully and then provide the appropriate prophylactic interventions.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. This will be intuitive to you but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to believe in yourself? Can you share a story or give some examples?

After graduating from university with a BSc Hon degree, I landed a research assistant role. The project was about finding tiny differences in the DNA of leukemia cells using a technique called PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) which at that time was cutting edge technology. It was interesting work; however, my husband took a job 1000 km away in another state. The travelling back and forth was stressful. So, I made the decision to resign and move to be together.

The problem was that it was to a regional city without the types of medical research institutes where I could find a job. After a couple of months feeling sorry for myself being unemployed, I plucked up the courage to approach the manager of the local music store. I asked if I could use their storeroom to teach guitar; in return I would split my earnings with the music store. I was very surprised that he agreed and said, “Nah, you can use the facilities for free”.

This is where my isolated childhood where I taught myself to play guitar became the vehicle to generate cashflow as a guitar teacher. This partnership worked out well as the store manager recommended me to customers wanting guitar lessons and in return, I promoted their guitar and amp packages. It was a win-win situation.

I learned that if you don’t ask, the answer will always be no.

What exactly does it mean to believe in yourself? Can I believe that I can be a great artist even though I’m not very talented? Can I believe I can be a gold medal Olympic even if I’m not athletic? Can you please explain what you mean?

First, ask yourself why you want to be an artist or an Olympic gold medalist. You must be honest in your answer. Is it because you want respect, fame, adulation, money, or other people to validate you?

Then, be honest about what in your environment and within yourself you have total control over.

If you want to be a great artist, will you invest the time and energy into perfecting your craft? If you want that gold medal, will you be disciplined in your physical training, nutrition, and scheduled recovery periods? Will you remove all distractions so you can immerse yourself in what you need to do every single day to achieve your goal?

If you cannot say yes to the above questions, then you are kidding yourself. By that I mean, you have not yet discovered that personal WHY which makes the most successful people in this world tick. In comparison, these people are very clear in their vision of their future, they can articulate in detail what it is they want, and they use that to drive them in their daily and consistent actions to achieving their very personal goal(s).

In your case, you are still being motivated by external factors. You will make a start but it will be very difficult to sustain over the long haul.

So, we come to answering your question! What exactly does it mean to believe in yourself. I will use my personal journey as the example.

As mentioned, my goal is financial independence. This means learning the skills in money management, investing, understanding tax laws that are part of building wealth. I knew that staying in a career in medical research would only get me so far. I believed enough in myself to quit a stable, well paid job to go into sales. This was a 60% cut in salary but it put me in an environment where I had to either sink or swim.

I landed a role as a face to face lead generator for a home improvement company. The business model consisted of setting up a kiosk in the busiest area of a shopping mall and reaching out to shoppers who were interested in buying products on offer. I had to demo the product there and then, and be able to gain their trust enough for them to willingly provide their full name, address, phone number. This information was then relayed back to head office for an in home appointment to be set.

This was a great opportunity for me to practice building rapport, working out very quickly if the enquiry was genuine or whether I was dealing with a tire kicker. My KPI was to secure two qualified leads in a four hour shift. I found that face to face lead generation is a mind game. You have to believe in yourself and that you will meet your KPI and be able to do this every shift.

Research scientists are by nature, introverts. We prefer our own company. To be successful in this lead generation role, I had to get over myself and tap into the extroverted part of my personality. It was empowering because I discovered I had that aspect within myself (mostly dormant) but I could call upon it when required.

I bothered to do a 180 shift in my mindset because I am very clear about my personal WHY. So, that is a clue for your readers who are not quite there yet in terms of figuring out what they want to do with the rest of their lives.

I was offered the manager’s job within 14 months of being at that company and asked to train new staff on the skills required to be a good lead generator.

A bonus was learning to handle rejection. This is one of the greatest fears people have that stops them of achieving their goals. We as humans want to be included because there is safety in numbers. So, to hear the word “NO” can crush people’s confidence. Here’s a tip- put the time and energy into building your self esteem and self worth. This is a key component to achieving your goals.

My antidote to hearing no, is being persistent. I did not take it personally and told myself, that person is not interested in the products on offer and their answer of no has no bearing on my worth as a person. But I also knew I had to be persistent and keeping ASKING and keep being enthusiastic during my four hour shift so that I can get my KPI nailed.

Was there a time when you did not believe in yourself? How did this impact your choices?

Again, just understand that self belief stems from our view of ourselves. Every decision we make is based on our internal paradigm which is the filter we put on our view of the world, people and events. We interpret these relative to our internal filter of the way we see ourselves and the world.

We all have self doubt eg am I good enough, what if I fail, will people laugh at me. These are the predominant thoughts that go through the heads of everyone. It is almost a running commentary that plays on high rotation in the minds of most people.

Here is where the daily practice of meditation and journalling becomes powerful responses to the self doubt.

Remember when I finally plucked up the courage to approach the music store manager and put forward a win-win business proposal? Well, I could have done that much earlier instead of waiting until I was miserable being unemployed. I didn’t believe in myself until the pain of being unemployed trumped the fear of rejection, of not being good enough.

My WHY at that point was not wanting to feel the pain and misery of just being at home with not much to do. We as humans are hard wired to be productive. We need a purpose otherwise we just drift along aimlessly and squander our time which is our most precious asset after our health.

At what point did you realize that in order to get to the next level, it would be necessary to build up your belief in yourself? Can you share the story with us?

I got to the point in my life where I could have had a very comfortable existence as a medical research scientist. But it has a ceiling on what I could make as it came as a salary and I wasn’t the person deciding what level of earnings I could achieve.

I figured that investing was the avenue to generate wealth. I also knew that I didn’t know enough until I went out there and did it. A more important point was that my mindset was the main driver of my actions, self belief etc.

I had attended a number of seminars where a speaker on stage said that you can give 10 people the same instructions to build wealth but only one or two people who actually get there.

It piqued my interest in personal development, as I decided my first priority was to get myself in a headspace to be able to follow the steps needed to become financially independent.

The best $20,000 I spent was to sign up for a 12 month personal development course that included four residential bootcamps which I had to travel interstate to complete. As the person running the course said, “We need to process and remove the emotional baggage we have carried into adulthood first. Otherwise, you can through as many resources at creating wealth, but you will self sabotage.” It meant examining my beliefs around money, authority and other people. It meant building my self esteem and self belief by working with a wonderful Master Coach over the 12 month period. It meant setting aside time for self reflection and doing a series of written exercises that when put on paper really hit home as to where I was playing small and not giving myself permission to shine.

That was in 2009; it was the turning point. It set the scene for me taking the next step, and the next step, and the next step. What I realize is that what I gained in experience is the prize, on the way to reaching my goals (which most people think is the prize). Ah, the paradox!

What are your top 5 strategies that will help someone learn to believe in themselves? Please share a story or example for each.

1 . Identify areas of your life where you already have a track record of success and write them down

I recall in primary school I was a bit of a dreamer. I wasn’t particularly engaged in my studies. Then one day, it was light a light switch was flipped in my head and I suddenly took my schooling seriously. I became so focused and self directed in creating a study plan and really leaving all distractions behind. I went on excel in secondary school and going to university. For me, it is academic achievement, being first author on peer reviewed medical and scientific journal publications, speaking at national and international conferences.

2 . Make a list of affirmations focused on what you want to achieve

Make sure that your list of affirmations is what you want, not what you think will gain you admiration, validation, or praise from other people. Your affirmations are the result of you knowing within your every fiber of your being what drives you. You do not need external acceptance, validation, and praise. If you do, then you haven’t worked out your personal why. By the way, you do not need to explain, defend, or justify your why to another person.

My advice is to keep that to yourself as not everyone has your best interest at heart. They may be envious and will try and undermine your confidence so that they won’t feel so bad that they are underachieving and not living to their full potential.

An affirmation list can help us focus on who are best versions of ourselves and take the necessary steps that will help us achieve our goals and find success. Writing affirmations down enables us to look for opportunities, stay motivated, and concentrate on what is most important. Every time we repeat our affirmative phrases, we affirm our desire to reach our dreams and make them come true. You gotta feel in in your bones.

3 . Take time to recognize your strengths and how they can help you reach your goals

I invest in my personal development as I know that is key to achieving long lasting success. I have this quote from Sun Tzu that is take from his book “Art of War”. It says, “If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle”. Take a moment to reflect on this statement.

I also did the Myers-Brigg personality test to work out my strengths and where I had blind spots. This is very valuable as I know that I cannot achieve success on my own. I need to build a team around me and these people I seek are the ones with strengths in areas I’m not good at.

It means being humble and asking for help and admitting I don’t know a subject matter as well as them. It means paying them to do the jobs that they are good at. For example, I do not manage my investment properties; I chose a company with professional property managers to deal with the day to day business of managing tenants. My job is to manage the property manager.

4 . Challenge yourself by setting achievable goals and celebrating each milestone along the way

I am keen on creating online businesses that have low overheads. I took a course on website building and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). I was very proud of myself for being able to build websites not only for myself but my husband who has his own environmental consultancy.

It’s nice to see a tangible result that exists on the internet!

5 . Avoid comparisons

One of the biggest traps many people fall into when trying to build self-belief is comparing themselves to others. Resist this urge as it will only lead to feelings of inferiority or inadequacy. Instead, focus on what makes you unique and special.

Comparisons can also lead to feelings of competition and envy, which create tension and cause us to miss out on recognizing our own strengths. It’s important to remember that no two people are the same — we all have different talents, skillsets, and experiences that shape who we are.

By focusing on our individual qualities, we can truly appreciate the gifts we do have instead of longing for those that others possess. It’s important to remember that everyone has different paths they travel on in life; by accepting where you are right now — flaws included — you can start believing in yourself again and build your confidence along the way.

Conversely, how can one stop the negative stream of self-criticism that often accompanies us as we try to grow?

As humans, we judge ourselves harshly. That is just conditioning we picked up from school and growing up probably if in your home, you had authority figures who were critical of you. At some stage, you got to deal with it and not use it as an emotional crutch. That’s where I recommend investing in personal development as you need to get out of your own way!

That becomes the launch pad to heal your hurts and accept yourself as the perfect being you are as you came into this world. Your actions are imperfect, note I said your actions not you the being.

I read that for every negative thought you have, it requires three to four positives to neutralize that negative thought. So as I mentioned, it pays to include in meditation and journalling as part of your daily success rituals. It is the quiet time in the stillness of early morning that you can reflect, sit still, and come to realizations that cement and remind you of who you really are and what you are meant to do on this Earth.

Are there any misconceptions about self-confidence and believing in oneself that you would like to dispel?

The biggest misconception is that everything is set in stone. This includes thinking that if you are an older person, you can’t learn new skills. Well, I’ve got news for you. There is this fact called neuroplasticity. It means your brain will rewire itself and create new neural pathways that strengthen based on repetition of an action which may be physical but also can be you learning a new skill, subject or craft.

Now that you know that, it means you can proceed with self confidence that the new stuff you are learning will “stick” because you are doing it regularly. There is no such thing as not being able to teach an old dog new tricks. It is just a way for people to excuse themselves for attempting something new lest they “fail” and that would be hard for their ego to take. Sorry people, you can either make excuses or make the time to do what is required to succeed.

What advice would you give to someone who is struggling with imposter syndrome?

One of my business mentors would say “Every master was once a disaster”; so get used to the fact that when you first attempt anything of consequence, more than likely it will not look pretty.

You will probably suck at it; that’s ok.

Another mentor said to me, “Fail fast, and fail forward”. He meant that keep doing the actions required and make note of what you can do better with each attempt.

I like to say, “There is no failure, only feedback”. The results of your first attempt are telling you that you need to refine your processes and repeat it but incorporating an updated version of your approach and actions. You also must be persistent and keep going at it even though you feel discouraged. Always remember your “WHY”.

It is naïve and foolish to think you will nail it on your first attempt. Good luck if you do. The danger is that you will now assume every project/business deal etc you get into will be easy. You stop doing your due diligence as carefully as you would have. It can be a recipe for disaster.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I have a mission statement that I arrived at after committing to a 12 month personal development course. My mission is “To empower you to live your highest values with courage, ease and grace”.

Imagine if everyone just went for it. By that I mean they acted and didn’t fear failure. Imagine how much happier they would be when they allow themselves to be true to who they really are.

Happy and contented people don’t act out, display destructive behaviors or hurt the people around them.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

It would be a hoot to have an hour with Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates. I would like to sit down with him for an hour to get nuggets of insight in how he built his business to having $126.4 billion in assets under management. Also, he commentates on financial and geopolitical events.

In this rather tense global environment, I would be over the moon if I could have a chat with him and get his take on how the leading world economies will perform over the next 30 years.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

I blog about my interests in mindset for success and more recently about caring for elderly parents and all things related to this topic. At the time of writing my father will turn 100 in August 2023 and my mum will be 87 in May 2023.

Your readers can find me at

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

Thank you, Savio for the opportunity to share with your community my experiences and learnings. God bless and take care.


  • Savio P. Clemente

    TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor

    Savio P. Clemente, TEDx speaker and Stage 3 cancer survivor, infuses transformative insights into every article. His journey battling cancer fuels a mission to empower survivors and industry leaders towards living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. As a Board-Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), Savio guides readers to embrace self-discovery and rewrite narratives by loving their inner stranger, as outlined in his acclaimed TEDx talk: "7 Minutes to Wellness: How to Love Your Inner Stranger." Through his best-selling book and impactful work as a media journalist — covering inspirational stories of resilience and exploring wellness trends — Savio has collaborated with notable celebrities and TV personalities, bringing his insights to diverse audiences and touching countless lives. His philosophy, "to know thyself is to heal thyself," resonates in every piece.