Knot That Got Unravelled

knot-1110536_1920When I started in the business many years ago, there were many people along the way whom have contributed to my growth. Some in a good way, some gave examples at how I should not be. These people came in so many forms – family, friends, vendors, bosses, colleagues..and I think it is important to realize that “they” are there, at that exact moment to provide you with life lessons – just when you needed it.

Think about it as learning-on-demand. In HR terms, learning-on-demand is a knowledge-based learning and it can happen in real time, any where, anytime, just as when you need it. Cool huh?

And there is a saying that people come into your life for a season, a reason or for a lifetime.

 

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Phoenix Rising From The Ashes

In a recent radio interview session by BFM89.9 on entrepreneurship, I was asked what (animal, plant, etc.) are you most like?

I said, “I am an oak – strong, resilient. Oak trees have deep roots that come rain or shine, winter, drought- it looks as if it is dying but it is not”.

2013 was not a very good year for the family – career and financial wise. It was fraught with disappointments, one after another. A major project that was supposed to take off in the first quarter of 2013 never took off due to insufficient financial resources of the client. Then, there was this client whom we found out was and still is a major fraud who had cheated people by the millions, and still walking around as a free man. But then, that is another story to tell on another fine day.

The furkids got sick one by one, several crossed the Rainbow Bridge. I still mourn of them. The flowers died, even the money plant that you thought could grow in the Sahara; the grass outside of the gate turned to brown and dry away, just like my heart each time I see them;  even the rambutan tree which were fruiting all throughout the years just simply refused to bear any fruit. It was as if trying to tell us that there was something seriously wrong with something, whatever they are.

I felt side lined. Empty. Demotivated. Dejected. A failure.

There I was on the stage as one of the key panellists in this women forum on entrepreneurship sharing my old success stories of building the empire that crossed the length and breadth of Malaysia. At the same time I was comforting myself how this success can always be created again and again.

“Resilient, dear Self”, I said.

“Be strong, bounce back better and stronger than ever, dear Self”.

“You have done it many times over and you can do it again”.

There were so many times when I could not see in the dark that chocked my breath but as God might have planned His way to show the power He has, He gave a peek of the end of the tunnel. As each day passes by, the light just got bigger and bigger.

I could see it. I could taste it in my mouth. I could feel it in my bones.

Success. Again.

Just like the phoenix rising from the ashes. This time higher and better.

There is still a journey to be made towards the end of this tunnel but I can see it. It is getting brighter and brighter.

I just knew it.

I Hope I Have Inspired Someone Today

I attended a women forum recently under the invitation of the co-organizer whose CEO also happens to be a friend of mine. I was one of the panelists for the two-day session. The forum was held in Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur; the set up was very classy and the stage was beautifully done. I met a lot of people during the two day-session and was awed at the strength of these women leading their lives.

I think one of the most inspiring sessions was when three panelists spoke about their fight against cancer. I was such an intimate topic that I think you ought to really embrace the challenge in order to be able to speak about it. They fought and won. These women are all leaders in their own right, societies, organizations and communities.

Cancer is like a time-stealer. They take time away from you. Inspiring sessions like these, I think, is very important for one to reflect on our own journey in life and to sort what matter to us. No one can tell you what they are, only you can answer this yourself.

I hope I have made a difference in someone’s life on that day.

After my session on the second day, I stepped down from the stage to the ladies room. Some reporters stopped me to take pictures. More people stopped me on the way out and more when I walked back in. They gave me call cards and told me how inspiring my story was to them.

That second session was entitled “Is Entrepreneurship For Everyone?”.

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It was an open ended question. I shared my stories; how I grew up in a family where everyone was an entrepreneur. The good and the bad ones were all there. There was a story about how my grandfather, the sifu of the clan sold off one of the mountains in the village to some guy. The mountain was never his.

But then, he was gifted with the gift of the gab…

I started off my first foray in business right after school. The mom gave me some cash on my 18th birthday and I figured that the money will eventually be gone in days. Kuantan is a town by the beach and Teluk Chempedak was (still is) a haven for tourists. But, there was hardly anywhere to buy nice beach wear.

So, a boutique selling beach wear was the decision that I had. I had two talented batik designers from Terengganu to paint beautiful series of nature inspired pattens on the pareos. Their bright colours of lotus blooms and dragons from Lake Chini coloured the sun-kissed landscape.

There is one important learnt from all these- to be an entrepreneur, you have to embrace risk.

Coming back to the women forum.

As George and I were walking towards the lift at the end of the forum, I saw a lady heading towards an exit. I saw her in the crowd for the past two days. She was elegant and very classy looking, and love her baju kurung.

I introduced myself and she said she enjoyed my stories. They were so inspiring that she retold the stories to her son.

That night, I thanked God for the journey I had lived so far. That my little stories have inspired someone that day.

A Lesson From Building A House

Being a business owner for SME is tricky.

The production line needs to move so that it will churn out products. Your employees keep on quitting on you and you just cannot seem to find anyone to come and work for your company.  After all, you do provide the basics – basic pay, basic annual and SOCSO. The average line managers’ salary is RM2,500.00. You do take in the occasional Management Trainee so that there is someone at the reception table to answer phone calls and do all the other administrative works. The factory is located far away from the main road but it is cheap rental. So far none of the employees have complaint about having to travel the distance.

You want to expand your business but it takes too much time to call those people at the ministries, relevant departments and even to go for any networking sessions with the peers in the industry.

All you want to do is to produce more, sell more and earn more profits. Most of the time you find yourself doing all the fire fighting and ended up dejected. You are always “too busy” to take a look around the company and try to improvise.

And you still wonder why your staff turnover is at an all time high of 50% and no one wants to work for you?

As the title suggests, let’s take a look at what kind of lessons we can learn from building a house.

It is likened to building a house from scratch where you first need to think of what kind of a house are you going to build. Next comes to the type of material, who are your contractors, how long will the house be ready for, location, costs to build this house and so forth. Once the house is ready, you will want to decorate it with all the furnishings, furniture and fittings so that the house will be a home.

A business is like a house where you need to put up the basic structure or otherwise your contractor will not be able to “read” your mind. His understanding of the size of the dream pool you have in mind may not even come close. The 4-seater dining table will serve its purpose – a dining table- but will not look good in a space suitable for 12.

Simple as that. Start with the structure. Sure, you will not see the immediate need as to why you need to lay down a foundation before slapping the mud to build the wall.  But try it when the raining season comes and you will see the mud slides down and you are left with nothing.

Ok, so I am talking about a mud house but this concept is so primitive that even Mr Arg Arg from the Cave Era understood the basics so I really do not understand why a brilliant, post university businessman in this 21st century has a zero understanding of this concept.

Look dude, if you are always too busy, then maybe running a business is not suitable for you. Can’t have a reactive leader up there when there are so many things are at stake. Oh, besides that, do not be too cheap skate as to back peddle on what you have instructed your contractor to do cause nothing is free in this world.