I haven’t had this feeling in a long time. I can’t believe it. Every day now I’m looking forward to go to work. I dread weekends for being too long instead of took short and look forward to my weekdays.
Plus last night when I couldn’t sleep because I was too excited to go to work, it’s not because there was anything special happening today at work. Nothing. Just another normal day but I’m just super excited.
I think it’s a combination of enjoying seeing my colleagues, to enjoying the work I do… to the nice office environment that I was looking forward to go back to. The environment. Ah yes it dawned on me then that all the articles I’ve been reading about how a great working environment makes you happy at work… that’s what I’m feeling right now.
A big part of course the satisfaction we’ve been getting from Colony. After months of hard work and solving crisis after crisis we have put together what I think is the most beautiful co-working space in KL. (Humble brag).
So I look forward every time I have to bring someone on a tour for the first time because the reaction I get each time is a “WOW” followed by a “I WANNA WORK HERE”.
That’s just amazing! Just amazing!
What really got me today was that my friend Arnold came to visit and he was like “WOW”. He then took this picture and posted it on Instagram.
Pharmaton’s overall angle is for people to strive for what people want to achieve. I recently wrote about what I hope to change in myself in 2017 as part of a campaign. Their latest initiative though is to support our Malaysian athletes at our upcoming SEA Games.
I went through the list of our athletes participating and I came on to one that I hope does really well at this SEA Games. His name is Hasihin Sanawi. Now most people would be like… Hasi-who?
Well Hasihin Sanawi is a Paralympic archer who represents Malaysia at the Paralympics. What makes him special to me?
Now Hasihin was a silver medalist at the 2012 London Paralympics but in 2016’s games at Rio he got knocked out before he could get close to a medal. What I like about him was his response to him getting knocked out and you can see it in this old article here.
““I’m sorry for letting everyone down. My form was OK but I could not get going after losing the first set. I tried my best but could not win the third set,” said Hasihin.
Talk about ownership. This guy who finished second in the previous Paralympics and was expected to come home with a medal in 2016 gave no excuses for not winning. While some of us might blame our form, the weather or anything else this guy took 100% full ownership of his loss and said “My form was OK but I could not get going after losing the first set”.
He blamed nobody but himself. That’s what I think make winners. Winners take full ownership of their failures. Hasihin’s upcoming big tournament is the SEA Games and I really hope he comes up on top of that one.
After my half marathon and marathon this year I’ve decided that I’m done with long distance running. I just find the training really tough.
However if Hasihin wins I have decided that I will do one more. I’ll sign up for a half-marathon next year (probably Standard Chartered) and complete it. Hopefully with a new personal best. And Pharmaton is the enabler for me to achieve my goal and keeps me going every day.
Visit www.pharmaton.com.my to pledge for #KeepGoingMalaysia. You can utilize the e-vouchers to get discounts on the products there and sign up as a MastersClub member.
Have you ever felt like you have the pressure to be extraordinary?
That you have to be rich or live a life of many travels or marry a good looking guy or girl or have the perfect family or be the perfect son or BE SOMEONE IMPORTANT!
I do and it’s only after doing some soul searching and reading a book that I realised why.
SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE TELL US THAT
We hear it all the time. Successful entrepreneurs, celebrities, talkshow hosts and the likes all tell us that. They tell u that each of us are unique people. That we can do extraordinary things if we want to. That we can be whoever we want to as long as we put in the hard work behind it.
That’s wildly contradictory because if EVERYONE is extraordinary then NOBODY is extraordinary. So why are we being told this?
2. THE MEDIA ONLY GIVES A SHIT ABOUT EXTRAORDINARY PEOPLE OR THINGS
Scroll down your Facebook feed and pay attention to the articles you see. Stories of:
i) The youngest person to ever graduate with a PHD
ii) The most brutal killing
iii) The WEALTHIEST entrepreneurs in the world
iv) The CRAZY THINGS RICH PEOPLE BUY
v) The BRAVEST thing someone has done
What do these stories share in common? They are all about EXTREMES. Why? Because stories of both sides of an EXTREME spectrum win attention and garner eyeballs. So the media tends to write about these things.
How does this affect us though?
We are then told on a daily basis that if we want to be someone extraordinary, we have to be able to achieve something extraordinary. Do something extreme! That nobody else has done before.
That’s why we feel the pressure to do stupid things like having to show our Facebook friends that we are eating at this expensive Japanese sushi restaurant or are going for another trip to European holiday or that we are totally working hard at work and rocking at it.
It matters because by definition the vast majority of us aren’t extraordinary or go on to do extraordinary things.
It matters because we shouldn’t feel shitty about our normal lives just because it’s normal.
It matters because if we constantly feel like we should be extraordinary but aren’t, we unnecessarily feel unhappy about ourselves.
It matters because it’s only from removing the fear of being un-extraordinary, can we have the desire to work and improve ourselves to become extraordinary. Great athletes aren’t just born content with the talent they have. They constantly hone their skills because they have a constant feeling that they’re not good enough. That they need to do better and do more.
Some of the happiest people I know in life are the most ordinary people you’d ever imagine. So do we really have to be extraordinary?
Today at Colony we had a little issue. We’re just a couple of weeks away from the renovation completing and we’ve had to prepare a lot of things like our kits for our members and more importantly the key cards and lanyards.
We took some time to design a really nice lanyard and sent it to the printers to print. We got them today and were really disappointed with what came out. I’m not going to share a picture of it because I’m too embarrassed to even have any digital footprint of it. Worst part is that we had printed a lot of them in bulk.
We managed to solve the situation in an hour or so. After speaking to the printers they agreed to reprint everything for us again without cost.
In any case I thought we learned some things from the little issue today so I sent the following e-mail to the team. After I wrote it out I thought it would be good maybe to share it on my blog here. So here it is.
Dear Colony Team,
When the Colony lanyards arrived today we were all caught by surprise of how they looked so different from the design we had given the supplier. That issue has been solved now.
However I think there are important insights that I wanted to point out on this issue.
We practice the principle of “Extreme Ownership” in our team. That means whenever someone has a task at hand, he or she takes full ownership of the result of it. The result is the most important outcome. In business things often don’t go as planned and we don’t achieve the result we expected. When these things happen, I as the team leader have a responsibility to go around and ask a lot of questions on what and why did it happen to understand the situation.
Here’s what to keep in mind when answering those questions.
1) Never fear telling the truth
There is no politics in this company and I don’t want us to have a culture of pushing blame when mistakes are made. Never find the need to blame someone else or to “cover yourself”. Everyone makes mistakes and each and every one of us is bound to make a mistake eventually.
More importantly though, understand that while we all practice extreme ownership of our own tasks, I take extreme ownership of all of you. So every mistake any of you make whether it was approved by me or not… is MY mistake. So I am in no position to blame any of you because I share that blame.
2) Never compromise on the good result you expect to get
If a result of your work isn’t good enough whether it’s because of something in or outside your control, NEVER defend it. If the lanyards are shit, they are shit and if we don’t think it’s not good enough then it’s not. Never settle for anything less than excellence. Focus on what went wrong and how to solve the situation. Take your emotions or ego out of the equation because….
3) It is NOT about you.
It isn’t. It’s never about me or you or anyone else. It’s about the purpose we set out to do on every single task. We are measured not by what anyone thinks about us or the task, we are measured only by the result and results don’t lie. So focus all our efforts on the results.
As a team we strive for our purpose of changing the work experience. We want Colony to be the best co-working space in KLor the best one in SouthEast Asia and heck maybe someday the world. In order to get there it’s not about how nice our space looks. It’s about how well we work together as a team and how hard we fight the urge to settle for anything less than the very best.
We’re just a few weeks away now to the completion of Colony, our new Co-Working Space / Service Office in KL. The renovation process has been a huge challenge for us. It’s a lot harder than I expected in spite of having a great team of people behind it.
News is getting out too so we’re getting an increasing number of enquiries and selling a good number of seats too. It’s been really exciting.
What has also been exciting is the first media coverage to come out so far in the past week.
The first one was this article by Vulcan Post. My colleague was reading it out loud to me when I was driving in the car back from a meeting. At first we thought it was an article that made us sound like any other Co-Working Space out there but as we read on it was apparent that the writer totally got the purpose and the mission of Colony. Ah that rush… that excitement when people understood what we were doing was just amazing. I haven’t felt such excitement in a long time.
The second one was an interview with Firstclasse Malaysia and I must say was from one of the most fun interviews I’ve had. The team behind Firstclass is great and the way the article was written, the photos taken (the photo on top of this entry was from them) and how it all looked in the feature is an experience of its own. I highly recommend checking out their site.
So if you haven’t read these two great articles please read them.
Shorty and me were eating at Harbour Steamboat in Sri Petaling for the second time.
Me: Wah this place is really amazing. It’s so packed. Printing money for sure,
Shorty: How much do you think they make?
Me: Well I think this place can fit like 50 people. Lets say in one night they can turn 3 times and assuming no lunch crowd because people don’t normally have steamboat for lunch right? So okay assuming each person spends RM25. That’s about RM3750 a day. Assuming it’s open 6 days a week that’s about RM1.08 million a year. They make at least 20% margin so minimum profit is RM200K a year. MINIMUM.
Shorty: Where got RM25 per head! This is steamboat. More like RM50.
Me: Really? But at this location… don’t think it’s so expensive right?
Half an hour later the bill comes.
Shorty: How much is it? HAH YOU SEE! RM50 PER HEAD. WHERE GOT RM25? ARE YOU STUPID OR WHAT?
I felt the light cool morning breeze as I trotted along KLCC Park. As I took each step I soaked up the view around me. Big leafy trees lined up on both sides of the running track with a patch of carefully curated grass that hugged the pathway. On my right sat proudly the multi-million dollar apartments that surround KLCC Park and on my left the majestic Petronas Twin Towers. The sight of the Twin Towers never gets old.
Along the pavements, people dressed in formal work clothes hurried to their offices. Walking from the LRT or the car parks that surround the area. I watched each and every one of them as they walked past me looking at their phones or stared at the ground ahead of them as they took each step forward.
I couldn’t help but notice that everyone shared one thing in common. None of them were smiling.
It was then that it hit me.
Our lifestyles have improved so much in the past 20 years. We used to have just Starbucks and Coffee Bean. We now have over a hundred different coffee brands around KL. We shop differently, we communicate with people differently and we travel a lot more than we used to 20 years ago.
But the one thing that hasn’t changed in the past 20 years, is the way we work. In contrast to the consumer life we live now full of great choices and hospitality everywhere we go, work is still the same 20 years ago and now. We still sit in the same cubicle-like environment, we don’t get to choose who we report to, where we sit, where we work or the laptops we use. Even technology hasn’t improved our working lives, they’ve only made us more productive.
It’s no wonder that we sometimes dread going to work on Mondays.
I then asked myself what kind of environment I would love to work in.
I don’t care for having a bean-baggy office even though I previously had one. I care for the lifestyle that the office can provide me.
Can I work out at a gym during lunch without having to skip my lunch?
Can I have a coffee from a trained barista instead of a coffee machine?
Can I have a private nap room where sometimes I can take some time off and get some shut eye even if it’s just for 20 minutes?
Can I work in a place that is close to malls where I can dart over to buy things I need rather than making a trip over the weekends or even catch a movie after work?
Few offices here in South East Asia allow us to work like that. This is in spite of many HR studies saying that the working environment (among other factors) plays an important role in what a job candidate looks for in a job. No wonder companies find it so hard to find good people.
It’s not that it’s hard to find good people, it’s that we as heads of companies have failed to create working opportunities that attract them.
I then looked at how the working environment is in the most competitive labour market in the world: Silicon Valley. It’s awesome. Offices in Silicon Valley have everything from great food and coffee, to gyms, to nap rooms to even massage rooms.
Now that makes sense if you’re Google or Facebook. But what if you’re a 5 or 10 or 30 or 50 man team in KL that wants facilities like that? It just doesn’t make sense because you don’t have the scale to warrant having a cafe inside your office or a gym.
That’s when it struck me.
There is an opportunity to build an office with all these facilities and rent it to companies who love their staff and want their staff to work in a great environment.
Today we have a team in place and our first of many locations near completion. The company we started to do this is called Colony and our first location is at Vipod, a building right between Pavilion and KLCC Convention Center.
It’s an 18,000 square feet space that houses:
Lounge areas for the millennial who likes working from different places at different times of the day.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner meals by the Healthy Food People.
An Espresso Lab outlet.
Access to a rooftop swimming pool and gym.
A lactation room for breastfeeding moms (It surprised me how few offices actually have this).
…and more, like a kids play area for working mom or dads who need to bring their kids over to work and let them hang out somewhere while they warrior away on their laptops. There’s a lot more to it but I’ll save that for future articles.
Our purpose at Colony is to raise the standards of what working should be like in the region. That we don’t have to sacrifice having a life for a job. We can have both.
My little dream is that 5 years from now, when someone asks where your office is and you say “At one of those Colony spaces…”.
If your friend responds to that with a “Your company must really love you”. Then we’ve done it.
I told a friend of mine this whole concept and he loved it but he said one thing “Once you go out with this… won’t all the other co-working spaces or service offices copy you?”.
My response was in two parts.
First “My competition is not co-working spaces or service offices. My competition is OFFICE”.
Secondly “if everyone replicated my ideas and this became the new standard of office for people who work in South East Asia, then we have truly achieved our purpose”.
As we sped down Penang bridge I clung on to my father like my life depended on it. Because it really did. I was about 10 years old when my father got into this new hobby of riding motorbikes. He used to joke that it was his mid-life crisis but he found joy in buying these big motorcycles and going for rides in them.
So there I was one faithful night, wearing a kid-sized motorcycle helmet as I clung on to his back looking down on the road below me. I couldn’t stop myself from thinking that if I let go and fell off the bike, something really bad would happen. Really bad.
I wasn’t sure which was worse. Falling on to the road below or falling into the sea on either side of the bridge. I decided that falling into the sea in the dark of night would be worse. I mean if I fell on the road I would hopefully die on the spot. If I fell into the sea, I might not die on impact and nobody would be able to find me in the darkness. Meanwhile the waves would sweep me away along the Straits of Malacca and I would drown.
So I stopped looking down.
In the distance I could see the mainland. Butterworth as we all call it, where my father worked. My father at the time was the Managing Director of a company called Acidchem. It deals in the processing of oleo-chemicals and many of the factories that we see in Butterworth from the bridge belong to the company my Dad worked for. The company was started by my mom’s family… but they eventually sold it and my Dad continued working there till he became MD. I remember he did a great job too and he was well respected within the company.
Once over the bridge he would ride around the factories or what he called “plants” and at certain points he would stop, observe and then go again. I asked him what he was doing and he explained “You know son, I run these plants day in and day out. But every night when I come on my rides here I notice something happening that shouldn’t be happening. Or something that should be happening but isn’t.
Remember that in life, never take for granted the importance of being physically present at the company you run. You will always find something wrong”.
Upon reaching home he would pick up the phone and call his managers who would be very surprised to find out how he knew about something going wrong in the middle of the night.
My father has taught me and mentored me with many of these lessons growing up but this one came to me today when I was doing my morning run. As I ran past the building of our new venture that was being renovated I noticed that the lights in some of the rooms were on. Why should they be on over a long weekend? Were the air-cons on too?
The contractors were supposed to be working today though so I thought maybe it was them. When I tried to go in I then realized something else. Nobody was working as per schedule.
I went home and made some calls. It was then that I thought about this lesson my father gave me when I was just 10. A lesson I will always carry with me from now on. That no matter how much technology allows us to work remotely or how tempted we are to not be there, never ever underestimate the effectiveness of being present.
So I did! My first and probably last 42 KM full marathon!
I can’t believe I actually did this considering that I really started training for this like 3 months ago, I followed a strict running schedule of running 4 times a week and many long distance practice runs but even then I had never done 42km before. Just the day before I was still wondering whether I could actually finish it.
Here’s now it all felt though:
Alright here we go. Take it slow as they say so lets not run so fast here. Okay… so I’m running a little faster than I expected but I can’t help it I’m just so full of energy. Must be all that carb loading.
Uh oh.. the sun looks like it’s rising. Time to pick up a little bit of speed here.
WTF?!?! How did the sun just come up all of a sudden? Isn’t it suppose to rise gradually?
Alright almost at half marathon distance. Keep going keep going! Push push push.
Okay I’m beginning to feel a little tired now. Maybe I’ll take a bit of a walk. Just a little.
Hey where is everybody? Did we all like disperse? Hmm my toes are beginning to hurt. Never had this feeling before.
Ahh my knees hurt and so do my toes… and my neck.. and… fuck I hurt everywhere! It’s okay I’m almost there. Lets do the run for 5 minutes walk for 5 minutes routine. Okay lets go lets go! Stay strong finish strong!
OMG WHY DID I DECIDE TO DO THIS !?!?
WHAT?!?!? JUST 1 KM? AFTER ALL THAT WALKING?!?!
WTF?!?! MY FITBIT SAYS I HAVE NO HEART BEAT. DID I DIE ALREADY?
COME ON 3 FUCKING KM MORE!!! PUSH PUSH PUSH. Weird… why is everyone around me walking?
WHAT THE HELL HOW IS THAT ONLY 500 METRES?!?!?
Damn people going past me in cars. They’re so lucky!
Wow I’m reaching the end. I must be. People I’m walking past are giving me the thumbs up. It’s like I’m almost there.
I can hear the loud speaker! Okay okay they say finish strong so lets start running again. I don’t want to have my picture taken to look like I just walked across the finish line. Come on!
Wait… where is the crowd? Why is there no cheerleading group to cheer us on at the end of this run? What’s going on?
I DID IT! I DID IT!!!!! Ok I need to sit the fuck down now.
Overall I gotta say that the most memorable part of this marathon wasn’t really running it but the journey in training for it. I ran about 500KM since March just for this… and in those 500KMs I’ve had great conversations with my friends that I run with or learned many things from the audio books that I listened to.
Crossing the finish line was actually quite anti-climatic from what I expected though. That being said I don’t think I’m going to ever again do a full marathon. Half-marathon alright but full… ah man that’s just tough.
I ask myself why I do things like that. Like this full marathon and the 160KM century ride when I was cycling. I guess I like how it forces me to be discipline during the training. And how it tests your mental strength during the actual race. To be able to have the mind override the exhaustion and pain that your body is feeling to assure myself that as long as I put my mind to it, I can do it.
Either ways it’s another achievement that I’m glad to have done once in my life.
I’ve been reading a lot of books in the past 6 months that have really changed my outlook on life. I know some of you guys have been asking for a list, so here they are:
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie – This is one of my favourite books. It really opened up the way I treated people. My biggest takeaway from this is that we should never ever criticize. Nothing good ever comes from criticism.
Shoe Dog by Phil Knight – This book the autobiography of the Founder of Nike. I thought it was written in a very honest and sometimes funny way. It really showed the many hurdles and struggles this one company had to go through to get to the multi-billion dollar behemoth it is today.
Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance – This is a book about Elon Musk and his life. I loved how Elon became a master of his art because of pure perseverance and an intense ability and drive to learn about everything from alternative energy to rockets. I mean here’s a guy who learned to build a rocket just from reading books.
7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey – My biggest takeaway here really isn’t about the 7 habits because I thought the book got kinda theoretical at some point. What I loved instead was the concept of a paradigm shift. How sometimes we are too quick to judge a person without realizing that person’s true reality.
48 Laws of power by Robert Greene – I loved how this book is like a guide to life. Telling us what we should do and not do. The part I loved in particular was one part when it told us how we shouldn’t get angry about things. That how we often get angry because we take things personally but very very rarely things aren’t about us at all. People do things for a variety of reasons that can go too far back and are too complicated for us to understand. That was a huge mind shift for me. Once I realized that things weren’t about me, I got angry or emotional a lot less.
Extreme Ownership by Joko Willink and Leif Babin – This book taught me the concept of how to run an efficient team based on how Navy Seals function. On the basic principle of extreme ownership meaning we own the results of our mission entirely. Regardless of factors that fall out of our control.
King of Capital by David Carey – I found this book really interesting because it taught me a lot about how the world of leverage buyouts worked. It gave me an idea of how these huge funds value companies and how it’s all about positive cash flows. That if a bank won’t lend money to your company, chances are your company isn’t that valuable.
Okay guys that’s my reading list. Hope that helps!
Timothy Tiah – Co-Founder of Colony, Kuala Lumpur Co-Working Space