From school dropout to litter entrepreneur
Mickey Yan Wai-kiu, a 38-year-old Hongkonger who has been named one of the world's outstanding young people, started work as a cleaner after quitting school early.
Mr Yan, who came to the city from Enping , Guangdong, when he was eight, said his family was poor when he was young.
'I quit school when I finished Form Three,' he said yesterday. 'Then I started to collect rubbish as a job, earning only HK$4,000.
'No matter how tough it was, I never complained.'
He turned bad experiences he encountered at work into motivation.
'Once when I was cleaning the floor of a shopping mall, I heard a mother telling her son: 'Look at him! If you don't study hard, you will end up being like him, collecting rubbish and cleaning the floor',' he recalled.
'I didn't have great feelings about what she said, because I made a good deal of money being a cleaner at that time.
'But what upset me was people would look down on people in this sector, even though we can make money on our own.
'So I vowed to change people's attitudes; I want them to respect this sector.'
As the age of 19, he saw opportunities. After noticing more cleaning projects were being contracted out by the government, he started bidding. In 1989, he set up his firm, which now employs 2,300 people.
Mr Yan was named one of the city's 10 outstanding young people last year for providing voluntary cleaning services to infected areas during the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome.
Apart from work, he also devotes himself to voluntary work. In 2000, he set up a charity that has established 60 schools on the mainland.
The Junior Chamber International said Mr Yan's continuous self-improvement and accomplishments over the decades had led to his recognition as one of the 10 Outstanding Young Persons of the World.
'When I knew about it, I felt like one of those Olympic athletes, winning the gold medal. I hope I can be a role model for teenagers.
'My motto is 'Believe in yourself, and you can fulfil your dreams'.'