To see a world in a grain of sand

To see a world in a grain of sand
Mr Alvin Lee ignored naysayers who told him he was foolish to give up his general manager job to patent a kit to build sandcastles. Today he has several businesses revolving around sandcastles.

Alvin Lee has a piece of life advice. "Plant as many good seeds as you can. They will grow and come back to save you one day," he says sagely.

Cultivate good relationships. Have an open heart and mind, and do not give up on yourself or your dreams, he adds.

Platitudes, some will say. But these beliefs have helped him navigate the peaks and troughs of his life.

In his 30s, he gave up a cushy corporate job, ignored naysayers and headed to the United States to market a sandcastle building kit he had designed with his son, nephews and nieces.

In his 40s, he got involved in a start-up and lost his life savings when the dotcom bubble burst.

But he bounced back.

"More than 20 years ago, I planted a seed when I came up with the sandcastle building kit. Today it has come back to save me," he says.

Now 57, Mr Lee is the founder of Castles Can Fly, an outfit which earns a handsome profit from sandcastle building activities.

Besides using sandcastles to conduct training and team-building sessions, it also organises events and parties for corporations, organisations and others. Its social enterprise arm encourages creativity and helps families and the underprivileged interact and bond.

With skin tanned honey brown from hours under the sun, the industrial engineering graduate has an easy manner and a gravelly voice.

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