Great By 24

Behind every seemingly normal-looking person is an amazing story waiting to be told.

It is based on this belief that I’ve created a new section on called “Personalities”. I meet new people almost everyday. Many of them have stories that have taught and inspired me along the way, and I’ll put them up here.

John Lee is one of those guys I met recently who doesn’t look all that remarkable on the outside at first, but leaves your mouth wide agape once you know just how much he has accomplished.
Some people looked at him and said he bears an uncanny resemblance to Lord Victor Quartermaine from Wallace and Grommit.

But I think they are just being mean. 😛
They would probably think differently if they were to know three things about John Lee: a 5-figure monthly salary, Mercedes Benz, and 24 years old.
And he did it all by himself.

John Lee is the founder and mastermind of Epsilon Translation, a Kuching-based company specialising in providing translation services for almost every single imaginable languages throughout the whole wide world.
A few years ago, John Lee was a small fry printing flyers from his computer and placing them around University campus. What started out as a RM20 investment from spare change in his pocket, grew into an international company with offices in Malaysia, spanning as far as Japan, Europe and USA, with clients ranging from major airlines to big-chain hotels and electronic giants.
What’s truly amazing is that John Lee did it within a short span of just four years.

The Mercedes that translating bought

Who would have thought translating languages would earn you so much money?
Our parents would tell us to quit dreaming about doing something different and stick to something proven, like setting up a retail outlet or open a coffeeshop business. John Lee broke away from convention found his niche.

John Lee wasn’t born to rich parents with endless wads of cash at his disposal. He doesn’t have an overseas education or even completed his University degree for that matter. Knowing that is enough made me feel inadequate, because even with a job that my father handed down to me on a silver platter, I wasn’t doing half as good as this guy is.
John Lee is self-made, and that’s what make him so inspirational. The guy even had A BOOK published about his success story. How many people can claim the same thing?

Dang, when is it my turn to appear on my own book cover?

John’s book is now available in all major bookstores including Popular, MPH and Kinokuniya.
He passed me a copy of his book and I finished it within a day. I won’t do a book review, but suffice to say it’s short and concise but packed with chokeful of practical tips for budding entrepreneurs. Personally, I highly recommend anyone wanting to start their own business to pick up a copy of this book as motivation. You won’t regret it.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, but Epsilon was built in four years

Clearly, John Lee is enjoying his life. While his ex-classmates was busy slogging 10 hours a day for their engineering firms, John Lee was flying to faraway places like Rome and Vienna clinching his next USD$10,000 deals.
I asked him what are the most bizzare translation jobs he has come across, and he said there’s this European guy who wanted his entire volume of personal diary to be translated for his Asian wife – because he wants her to read it before he commits suicide.

Then there’s this porn video distributor from Thailand who wanted John Lee to do subtitles for their porn videos. Gee, I never knew anyone would pay attention to the dialogues in porn videos.
I mean, who cares, right?
I guess now if any male Epsilon Translation employees are caught watching porn at work with one hand below their desks, then John would have nothing to say.

John is hard at work. Literally, “hard” at work. Pun intended.

Kenny: “Does that mean you will be paid to watch porn videos?”
John: “Yes.”
Kenny: “Bastard…”
John: “Hehehe.”
I bet all you horny guys out there are scrambling to get into the translation business now.

Someone tell me is it even possible for a guy to watch a whole porn video from start to finish without fast-forwarding, stopping or pausing it to go and wash your hands?

103 Replies to “Great By 24”

  1. of all the people who made it, there are another seven thousand who didn’t.
    so while you could be the one who made it, you could also be the other 6999 who didn’t.

  2. This guy is someone for Asian standard (what you drive, how much you earn, anything materialistic).
    But, how many hot women has he brought to orgasms without having to throw in some money?
    Agreed with Mia. There are thousands who won’t make it even if everyone puts in the same effort.
    Kenny, go to that fortune teller of yours, show him the picture of John Lee. I bet John has lots of luck.

  3. yea yea i know this guy. he’s from my school a long long time ago. 5 year senior and his yougner brother was my class mate and school mate my whole school life. cool cool amazing.

  4. I always figured that translating was one of the least profitable and hardest jobs around(especially if you wanna be accurate). I guess you can make a pretty good living from it.

  5. An entrepreneur with fortune that is well deserved. Bravo to his brilliant and down to earth idea of language translation.
    Breeding creativity is truly what this generation of people are all about.

  6. darn i’m already interested in reading his book. Good talk on John. Malaysia’s progressing thru this kind of ppl..

  7. I know John back in UTM days… All props for him on getting his business flying. To all the doubters, it takes more than luck to be successful… Now back to my boring engineering work 🙁

  8. it takes alot of risks for running a business though.. sometimes it does help to generate lots of cash and fill ur pockets up until it’s too full until it drops out. one thing that comes even more important than money making is saving and managing it

  9. Certainly inspirational… maybe he should change his hairdresser..hairstyle looks like those of the old ladies in Chinese operas.

  10. He should also get a stylist cause white suit+ red tie+purple shirt suggest that he is indeed colourblind. Also, he should have plastic surgery. Whats a few grand to get surgery and a new wardrobe. He has a merc after all..
    Lucky does not mean great. Not by a longshot

  11. I laughed out loud, looking at the picture of his book. ( John Lee )
    Great by 24, accompanied by a half-smiling bum folding his arms to seemingly make himself look fitter ? Greater ? (he fails miserably by the way)
    A person who got a deal with Malaysia’s biggest bookstore and started up his own company don’t know the importance of exercise ?
    By the way kenny.
    I think the company’s timeline is only 3 years, from what I could see from the website.

  12. I can’t believe some of the comments here. What kenny’s entry here is focused on John’s amazing personal success not by his physical appearance, but by his own hard work and ingenuity. How many people can claim to have the guts to step out of the norm, take the risk and set up his own innovative business? At the age of 24?
    If kenny blogged about a male model who made it big time and has a contract with Versace or something like that, I bet I wouldn’t see such degrading comments down playing the fella’s story.
    Geez, Bill Gates ain’t a looker either, but he’s laughing all the way to the bank and I don’t see anyone else laughing at his success.
    Brains over brawns people, brains over brawns.

  13. they probably jealous and all they can do is criticized at his looks. Differences between a man and a boy.a boy can only laugh at the success of others while a man can learn from it. John should be a man whom we should look up to and and appreciate. If you ‘re reading this John.You’re my Idol.You give hope to guys like me,that hope do exist in your life and if you believe and try harder.dreams might just come true..

  14. The way he hangs his signboard on the glass window panel… don’t think the Kuching council approved that. Must have done it without any approval or he knows some people of the council…..

  15. if john does come down to jb…then look me up lah !
    we got yam cha wan !
    Congrats JOHN LEE . . .
    Luckily you aint like my greedy uncle JOHN LEE …
    hey ! but u have de same name too ! ! haa haa . . .

  16. John Lee rockz ! =)
    Kenny, next time if u need your blog to be translated to chinese. Maybe u need his help !
    If u have a chinese version u will have more readers ! ask for his help !

  17. OMG! i cant believe this is the JOHN LEE that i know,ahem…actually he is my fren, Peter’s brother.I din recognize him at first glance but when u mentioned bout how he started his business,i remember him as peter’s brother cos peter asked me to drive him around giving out the flyers.he told me it was about his brother starting a translating business. i laughed at that,i know i was mean. i was even disapprove of his brother giving up his degree.then years later, peter told me that his brother is getting a Mercedes…i was like “How can your family going to afford a car like that??!!??” and when peter told me he is goin to NZ and Australia not for studying purpose, i was again like “How can your parents afford to spend on u lik tat??!!??” he answered that his brother was the one who is goin to pay for all the expenses, again i bitched “How can ur brother afford that big massive sum of money??!!??”…and FINALLY all my bitchy questions are answered!!! COS HIS BROTHER JOHN LEE IS RICH AND SUCCESSFUL NOW *whack face*
    24 yrs old,not bad,i wish i could do that too…and i felt terribly sorry for being such a bitch last time… :p

  18. Kenny, next time if u need your blog to be translated to chinese. Maybe u need his help !
    If u have a chinese version u will have more readers ! ask for his help !
    – lianshen
    Yeah, sure chinese ver will get Kenny more readers, even more so if/when furong jie jie links herself to him! rofl!
    Still, if kenny does translate his blog into chinese, i think a lot of his witty puns and jokes would be lost in translation.

  19. 1) Kenny you indeed admire the right role models. That was all of us guys should aspire for. Humble, successful, daring, belief in ourselves and our dreams, determination despite naysayers, hardworking.
    2) Can’t believe how many sore losers there are over here. Hey brada, if you got 6 pecs or can bring a girl to orgasm or whatever, yes thats great, but if u cant keep the girl, so what? That jus about sums up how shallow y’all are. This guy made it himself, and instead of focussing on his achievements, you choose to pick on superficial things like his looks. Maybe first he applies himself to make money, then he applies himself to improving his looks. Then he beats you either way.
    3) Damn…I guess it doesn’t hurt to have some luck too. Gota buy that book man.
    4) Kenny heres an idea: write a book on How to Be a Well Known Blogger. your first step to entrepreneurial success.
    5) Now excuse moi while I go find my niche…

  20. Eh, Kenny, you are SO obviously kissing this guy’s ass!!! BIG TIME! Come on, what did you get? I hope it pays off.

  21. it goes to show that when you put your mind to it anything can happen. Go John Lee!
    also, you lazy jealous freakos out there… up yours!

  22. John Lee definitely deserves all the success he can and will get. One needs to be both a visionary with sharp business acumen and loads of hard work to get to where he is today.
    He’s not only a success for both himself and his family, but also a success for Malaysians (Malaysian aiming for the global market)
    (Really pissed with those simple-minded, sour grapes people bitching about looks)

  23. i know john lee. i think he’s a really nice guy plus modest too though he’s successful. don’t look at the looks of others ok, as long as the persons heart is beautiful, that matters the most. he doesn’t look so bad because there are many more much more obese people out there. he can always start exercising or a gym workout whenever he wants. john, don’t let what other people think put u down. i know u know better than that. 😀

  24. Instead of buying the mercedes benz, he should spend some of the $$$ earned for gym workout and get a stylist. Image also very important nowadays…

  25. From the pix at the cover of his book, he really looks handsome if he get slim down. I definately will choose that slim John Lee rather than Kenny Sia Tze Foo coz John is richer.

  26. Material girl, don’t forget that Kenny Sia Tze Foo is getting an offer from Australia for more ka-ching.
    Mercedes Benz is only a matter of time for him.

  27. I will buy that “Mediocre by 50”, FH20. LOL.
    Only if you add “- but happy” at the end of the title 🙂
    Has anyone heard about Bhutan’s king measuring his country with Gross Domestic Happiness?
    He measured success from happiness, not from income.
    Anyway, John’s story is amazing. Well done. Hardwork pays off.
    To the dude whose going to buy John’s book, good luck, there’s a reason why there isn’t many people in John’s position.
    If book can help, there will already be hundreds of John Lees by now.

  28. To the naysayers: I was the editor of John’s book, so I guess I can say I know him well enough to know he’s not a fake, nor was he overly lucky (obviously there’s a bit of luck in all success stories), nor did he get his book out by clinching a lucky deal with MPH or anything of the sort.
    He sent us his manuscript, and out of dozens of others, we chose to publish it, cause he’s got a pretty interesting story to tell.

  29. What.. last year I wrote a letter applying for a job at his company and they never called. Bah.. and I was thinking maybe my degree in German Linguistics is useless in stinky ol’ Kuching. I’m guessing it still is. Kuching is still sooo ‘ulu’ and opportunities are close to NIL, especially with languages. *sigh*

  30. is john lee graduates fr UTM? cos i ever saw alot of notive which providing translation service in campus few years ago…

  31. Hey, the guy made it. Never slept with nobody (for sure!), did it his way, listened to none of the doomsayers and made it. I say Chinese Malaysian Boleh and we be happy for his achievements.
    Young ppl our age who are trying to make their own money, even this xiaxue and her TV show (which i just blogged about), deserves to be admired, for it is thru hardwork, not lying cheating robbing stealing sleeping ard..

  32. I don’t have problems with fat people.
    In fact I love them, I’m always one step ahead of them.
    But when a successful fat man decides to write a book, and market it, with a title of GREAT BY 24, isn’t it plain common sense to make himself look good ?
    Are you telling me that when you see the cover of the book, you don’t think that it’s a pussy looking fat ass who is claiming to be “great” ?
    Really ??
    Really ??
    Look at the cover of the book above, be honest with yourselves, and go strangle yourselves or something.
    My immediate reaction to the cover of the book was:
    I just want to make a simple point, not to be the ultimate asshole.
    This is supposed to be an inspirational book. The cover has gotta be inspirational too, right ? Books that make you go, “man I wish I was him”.
    Do you wish you were him ?

  33. not getting the job in Kuching means better opportunity elsewhere. I’m actually glad. Kuching’s market is so slow.. it’s just gonna take forever to go anywhere. Poo.

  34. i juz realize he is my old neighbour. wonder if the family still stay at the same place. coz the merz can’t fit comfortably into the car porch i’m afraid. 😉 anyway.. that’s an amazing success for such a young man! well done!

  35. i juz realize he is my old neighbour pisai. wonder if the sai still stay at the same place. coz the sai can’t fit comfortably into the nose i’m afraid. 😉 anyway.. that’s an amazing success for such a young man! well done!

  36. Nicevil: What do physical looks have to do with entrepreneurial success?
    He’s trying to convey the story of his business success, not how good he looks.
    Do Donald Trump, Bill Gates, or even Lim Goh Tong look like pinup models?
    I don’t think so.
    Your immediate negative reaction to the book cover is because it’s not aimed at superficial haters (like yourself, perhaps?), but rather people who might want to know how a 24 year old became successful in such a short space of time.
    So please, give us all a good argument or stfu 🙂

  37. I know John from my friend who worked with him before, and this guy dont have his own house and the mercedes benz is still under loan.But for me its normal.
    what inspired me the most is, he is very responsible young man.he supported his family. he also supported both of his brother furthering their study abroad……………… I wish I have a brother like him!

  38. Kenny, I didn’t realise you have a whole bunch of a*seholes reading your blog. I mean, here you are, blogging about the success of this young chap who made it and what do these idiots do? Pick on his appearance, insinuating he can’t get a girl without money….oh my. It goes to show how superficial some people are. I say if one has nothing nice to say, better say nothing at all. Those bunch of jealous people making all those nasty comments ought to have a foot shoved up their a*ses

  39. John’s entrepreneurial and dare to fail spirit is really inspirational.
    Every thousand mile begin with the first step, hopeful we have more ppl like John in Malaysia – forward looking, self confident and dare to be different.
    John – may God continue to grant you blessings and wisdom in all your future endeavour.

  40. normal only lar… i know guys who are making 5 figure income at the age of 21. better still! 24… sap sap shui lar, nothing to be impressed about.
    you guys look as though you have never seen the world before. sorry.

  41. Congrats. 🙂
    Good that you saw something worthwhile working on. Translation will always make big bucks, its a no brainer.
    Now, which should I pick to study? Economics, finance or engineering…

  42. hehe..his image spoils it all…haiz…
    btw, did he do all the translation by himself? how did he started when he has no employee and no money?? pls clear my doubts…

  43. Stop bitching about John’s look.
    Can’t judge a book by its cover.
    John Lee…I salute you, my fellow Kuchingnite!

  44. hahahaha ….. one guy talk big bout 21 yr old make big money … of course lah many stories …. you see, Kenny didn’t say John’s the Greatest!? Kenny gave a fair and honest review …
    worst of all, your nick is COBRAGROUP …. really almost totally shady Business …. the concept is great and makes sense but many of your so called managers sell it the wrong way and leave a very bad impression ….

  45. ok, i am not bitching about his looks out of jealousy or whatever… cause if he is rich and successful, ok good for him. but he should seriously consider getting into shape. with all that money, i am sure he can eat right and get himself into a gym. go advice your friend lah kenny.

  46. oops! didn’t mean to click so many times! But the page just didn’t load as usual so I thought it didn’t go through..the next thing I knew I was seeing 3 of my own comments >_

  47. No, no, no, you guys didn’t get my point.
    I have no problems with the fat guy. He’s awesome, and respectable.
    I have a problem with the inspirational book with a fat guy. It just isn’t right.
    You don’t see michael jackson promoting a book promoting natural looks, do you ?
    Same thing with a fat guy promoting of being “great at 24”.
    Which idiot would write a inspirational book with himself looking fat ? After all that effort building up the company and writing the book, isn’t it a simple thing to enhance his self image ?

  48. I used to be in the same class with John in ’99..and i give him my fullest respect….coz although i don’t know him 100%…but I praise him and admire his ability to build his business…
    I hate people that rarely gives a thumb up for good effort… how he looks is not the question… his car still on loan?? so what rite…at least he is in position to pay his car loans…i know im not in position to pay any car loans…i still have my study loans to sort out…

  49. i so totally agreed with you thar “Behind every seemingly normal-looking person is an amazing story waiting to be told”….for instance you’ll never know what interesting story might be hidden behind an aunty selling prawn mee or a pakcik who just sits by the sidewalk mending your shoes till you talk to them…amazing… *wink*

  50. John is truly an inspirational figure. I’ve been involved in the translation business for a few years now as a freelancer. And there is indeed a lot of potential in it, especially with corporations. I’ve been wondering when somebody would take it to the next level. Congratulations John!

  51. really an inspiration. makes us think and know that you can be somebody eventhough you start as a commoner. would make many look at their work (and life) in another perspective.

  52. i was facinated when i heard about the business that john is running, when he post the vacancy in Borneo Post, i called him for the job that was a year ago and he hasn’t reply until today…. 🙁 hey john, i am good too and i am still waiting for you to call me for job interview. jane

  53. lol.readin the comments made me realize something.
    Malaysia has world class standards for everything
    but wat we also a thrid world mentality
    jz cz sum1 not to good lookin makes it big.
    ppl get jealous.the stupidity.
    wats da point of being so good lookin.and ur
    im only a 20.uni student.
    those who degraded John Lee in their post shud be younger than me…so they can claim ignorance
    or their just really dumb. =P

  54. i’m interested in how he got the idea of translating and what languages he started off with, if he did it by himself innitially. that is.

  55. Hi cryxtyn,
    I am answering on behalf of Mr. Lee. He got the idea of translating when he was in uni studying his 3rd year engineering degree.
    He started of on his own, with one computer and RM 20 for printing advertisement. It was a one man show for 6 months before he opened an office in KL. The initial languages were Malay n English only.
    For more info, do visit
    All the best. ~ Madam Grace

    For everyone “who wants to be John Lee”, This is the PLAIN TRUTH (please click):
    These are comments from professional translators all around the world who were NOT paid by John Lee. Please note that almost
    all of them gave him a rating of “1”–the lowest rating possible for a translation company.
    This boy John owes these people hard-earned money and he has since gone into hiding, not returning their calls or emails.
    Some of these poor workers have even sued him for amounts ranging from as low as USD80 to as high as USD3,500.
    Yet, he boasts about being “rich” and you could see on his website ( that he tours the world and rides a
    Mercedes. A “typical” Malaysian?
    His so-called “company”, Epsilon Translation, has now been BANNED on, and other sites for these
    dirty practices.
    Figure out for your self, you can get the details of what these people have said by logging in to or Look for the profile of either “John Lee” or “Epsilon Translation”
    Is it hard to figure out that I am one of these victims of his fraud? Yes. I hope not anyone of you fall victim to his scam.
    Try calling his number (+60168665316) and ask yourself, why is it always on answering machine….?
    He is admired by Malaysia’s “No.1 Financial adviser” (as John’s book cover boasts)—yet John gives Malaysia a bad name by
    lying to people around the world!!
    Is that what Azizi Ali teaches to “wannabe-millionaires? To Lie and Deceive and Defraud?
    To those who bought the book, sorry you should have spent your hard-earned money on someone with at least a grain of
    integrity in his/her soul.
    Remember…I’m just one of many people he has LIED to and ROBBED of hard-earned money.
    To John Lee: You shout to everyone that you are rich, right? If that’s true then amount you owe us is only petty change for
    you, Mr. “Great by 24”! So stop hiding from us and pay us now!
    The translation community knows about “Grace Michael” aka “Madam Grace”…they know that “SHE” does NOT exist. John Lee and
    Grace Michael are ONE and the same person. Another of John Lee’s Lies.
    Mr. John Lee aka Madam Grace, you can hide…but your BAD KARMA will follow you everywhere.
    John, you know how to contact any of us. We have been waiting to speak with you. Stop being a coward.

  57. ya! this guy cheats to get rich! he still owe me my pay! pls don’t be fool by him, all you out there!
    it’s just so alarming that i m not the only victim! oh pls! all of u who have been cheated, come out to point him out!

  58. Same applies for at least one client whose “1” score proz removed, just like that.
    The guy leaves a trail of bouncing cheques and unpaid invoices and proz protects him, not just when this client conned me out of a LOT of money (he wanted me to outsource the translations that I couldn’t do, so I really lost money as I worked for him for quite a while) but also when he conned others out of money.
    Who is really behind It’s just a bunch of first names on the web! We don’t even know if the first names are real! No address, nothing. Is proz a registered business? If so, where?
    “3 offices: Syracuse, NY, Herndon, VA and La Plata, Argentina” Yeah, right. Says who? There are a phone and fax number for a Advertising & Conference Manager but that doesn’t mean a thing. My con man client has phone and fax numbers all over the world too, pretends to have a big business with offices everywhere. I don’t think he even has ONE office… (Loudly screaming kids in the background) Plus, he had asked me to represent him in my country so I know… (So glad it never got to that point.)
    Anyway, my point: I wouldn’t necessarily trust that blueboard if I were you. Anyone can enter or remove scores on the blueboard. Anyone.

  59. Aha..personalities eh? hmm..i’m one of the victim. please refer to any translation communities especially in malaysia, u’ll know who the hell is john lee. he even cheats the students who did practical in his company..

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