TYL #11: How to Give More Than You Take in Life with Edgar Seah

Written by on 19 Apr 2016

You know that one kid who always knew what he wanted to "be" when he grew up?

A doctor. A pilot. A lawyer.

Captain Jack Sparrow.

It didn't matter what he wanted to be. All that mattered was that I had no idea what I wanted to be. And that kid annoyed the crap out of me because of it.

Today's guest would have been that kid.

Thank goodness we had the good fortune of meeting when we were adults.

I know that doesn't exactly sound like a glowing introduction, but stick with me here.

I've always been fascinated by people who are able to look at their lives in totality rather than focusing on the day-to-day. I'm amazed at young people and adults who already know what they want their legacy to be and contemplate their impact on the world at large.

I've never had that kind of perspective, naturally.

I work hard to be a positive person and do more good than bad in any given day. I love unceasingly and give whenever I have a little extra. I even pay all my taxes.


But vision? My future? A legend?

I just never thought that way.

But today's guest, Edgar Seah, knows that his life has a bigger impact than he can ever imagine. He lives every day trying to give more than he takes. He has systematically eradicated his carbon footprint, and is slowly but surely chipping away at the opportunity divide that exists across our world.

In short, he's a badass.

A badass... with a bigger purpose.

Edgar is the Founder and former CEO of SEO Africa, a non-profit aimed at developing leaders across Africa who will one day give back to their local communities. He worked for almost 10 years in the finance industry and was able to retire in his early 30's. He attended Carnegie Mellon and has travel around the world... not once... but twice (and counting).

Did I mention he's a badass?

I hope you enjoy our conversation about how to see our lives as having more impact than we could ever imagine and how each of us can cultivate a desire to give more than we take in our life time.

Play by play:

0:50 Sunday, rainy Sunday

1:20 Tracy’s introduction to the phenomenon that is the crawfish boil

2:00 Why we’re here today

2:30 How I happened to meet Edgar in Africa of all places

3:20 Why first impressions are still really important and still usually wrong

4:20 The story I didn’t know about Edgar

5:50 Edgar’s background story and his route to Budapest

7:30 Edgar’s short stint in the Singaporean Army

8:20 Transitioning from army lieutenant to college freshman

9:00 Why would anyone leave Singapore to come to the United States?

10:15 How a business and economics major fell in love with the non-profit world

11:35 What the heck is SEO and why didn’t I hear about it in college?

13:20 How to take seemingly opposite experiences and make something cohesive out of them

14:00 How Edgar decided to go into banking, but not for the reasons you might think

15:45 How you can get perspective on your own life so you can make better plans

17:10 Seeing what you’re doing as a stepping stone rather than feeling stuck

18:30 Why you don’t have to let everyone in all the time

19:15 How do you commit to where you are when you know that eventually you want to be somewhere else

21:00 Why you should stop putting pressure on yourself to do everything now

22:00 How to order the events of your life so you can continuously grow while being continuously present

24:00 Why money is so much more than things and comfort

24:40 How to know when it’s time to quit

25:20 The #1 method for figuring out if you should stay or you should go

26:30 Traveling around the world for the second time…

26:50 What the heck is Semester at Sea and why didn’t I know about this in college?

29:00 How to know where to start when you’re starting over

30:30 If you don’t know this woman, you need to get to know her

31:20 The one chapter of the one book that made the biggest impact on Edgar’s life

32:50 Two amazing rules for an amazing life

35:00 How to offset your global footprint for the rest of your life

37:00 How to turn the scary things in life into things that motivate you

38:00 What do our lives really mean (yes, we’re getting deep) and why there is meaning in our short existence

39:00 Why the world would be a better place if everyone would give more than they take

40:30 How to empower young people to give back to their communities in the future

43:00 Knowing your role

43:30 What to do when you’ve done it all

44:40 What challenges Edgar found really surprising along the way

45:45 Building self-confidence over time (don’t discount the military!)

46:30 Keep it simple…

46:50 Edgar’s #1 piece of advice for you

47:40 How to get in touch with Edgar

48:10 How to get in touch with me

49:00 My challenge for you this week…


The Monk and The Riddle book link:

The Monk and the Riddle: The Art of Creating a Life While Making a Living


How to offset your global footprint in trees:



SEO Africa



Semester at Sea:


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