When he was a child, Mr Vernon Kwek's mother used to sing him a Chinese ditty.
"Na li die dao, na li pa," he recites the refrain in Mandarin. It is an exhortation to pick oneself up if one falls to the floor.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 28, 2019, with the headline 'ItChangedMyLife School dropout cleans up his act - and becomes CEO'. Print Edition | Subscribe
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