From Side Hustle to a Charity in 7 Cities, Here’s Our Story.
This is a sharing by Fion Leung, Co-founder of Time Auction, during Opening Remarks at Time of Our Lives — a fifth anniversary celebration event featuring 20 inspiring guests for a lunch and afterparty, where 90 participants volunteered 1,566 hours to charities to join.
“We are so happy you are here today. Thanks for coming to our fifth anniversary event with us!
5 years ago, Suetyi and I were working in finance. One thing we kept hearing is “do what you love”. “Do what you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life,” that’s what Confucius says. “Do what you love. The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” famously said by Steve Jobs. We were definitely not loving what we do back then and since work takes up 70% of our time, we really wanted to have a career we’re passionate about but not sure how.
So we went to a lot of startup events and one night after an event, we decided to start a side project. What if we can meet people who’ve crafted their own path and made a name for themselves, meet them as a friend and ask them anything we want, while making the world a better place?
As you know, the idea is simple — we ask an inspiring leader to donate a lunch or dinner, anyone can join, they’ll just have to volunteer 10 hours to any charity.
So with a full-time job, we worked on this at lunch, on the weekends, and also secretly at work when our boss isn’t looking.
Here’s one of our first ever events with Ray, Founder of 9GAG — because we had lunch near the 9GAG office in Tsuen Wan and we worked all the way in Central, we ended up taking a 4-hour lunch break that day. When I rushed back to work, I think my boss might have thought about firing me.
But somehow in the next two years, we managed to host about 50 of these events, and people volunteered over 6,000 hours at different charities and joined us. We realized that people love this casual way of learning and we also love what we do. So we became a registered charity, did some fundraising, and started growing this properly.
Fast forward to today, we now host 1–2 events every week in Hong Kong, and have expanded to 6 other cities — Singapore, Melbourne, Los Angeles, Sydney, and San Francisco, with Kuala Lumpur coming up soon.
All of these international chapters are entirely run by volunteers outside of their day job, just like we did 5 years ago!
If you’ve volunteered before, you know it doesn’t stop there. It teaches you something.
I’ve volunteered with ImpactHK which helps the homeless, and now I know there are people who’re suffering so much “living” not that far away from us. I’ve volunteered at beach cleanups, and I’ve seen so much plastic that the first thing I did after was to get myself a reusable coffee cup. Now, whenever someone offers me a straw or a single-use plastic bottle, this is what I think of.
Volunteering is real-world education. Once you have the awareness, it stays with you and changes how you operate and see the world.
To date, our community has volunteered over 50,000 hours.
To put it in perspective, if you can drive around the earth, that’s the time it takes to drive around it 100 times. That’s a lot of volunteering!
So we’re really happy that you’re here today, because the fact that Time Auction exists and we were able to have the growth that we’ve had, show that there are a lot of kind, driven and generous people in the world.
Each of you have volunteered 15 hours to charities to be here. Look around the room, we have students, working professionals, people from different ages and backgrounds, people who’re joining us for the first time today and for someone in the audience, for the 66th time. You all take time to give back and learn to better yourselves, and that to me is really inspiring.
We have such an exciting lineup of guests with us today — people who we’ve had the honour to feature in our first year like Ray and Aaron; people who became our advisors, Angie and Jim; our volunteer emcee Vivek, and all of you who make up such a diverse and inspiring group of leaders that we wouldn’t even be able to dream about having in the beginning.
I hope you all have fun, meet a lot of new friends and enjoy celebrating our fifth birthday with us. Thank you so much for all your support!”