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Things Shorty & Fatty Say #337: Steamboat

#337

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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?

Me: I GUESS I AM!

Why I ended up building the office of the future

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.

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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:

  1. Lounge areas for the millennial who likes working from different places at different times of the day.
  2. Breakfast, lunch and dinner meals by the Healthy Food People.
  3. An Espresso Lab outlet.
  4. Nap rooms.
  5. Massage rooms.
  6. Access to a rooftop swimming pool and gym.
  7. 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”.

If you’re looking for a service office or co-working space in Kuala Lumpur, you can check out the great space we have built up at Colony. Go to our website to check out how the place is going to look like: www.colony.work

Note that we’re still making some changes and tweaks to this but it’s more or less there.

One of the lessons my father taught me that I carry with me till now

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.

I am the man I am today… because of my father.

How it feels like to go through a marathon

So I did! My first and probably last 42 KM full marathon!

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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:

1-10KM

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.

11-15KM

Uh oh.. the sun looks like it’s rising. Time to pick up a little bit of speed here.

16-17KM

WTF?!?! How did the sun just come up all of a sudden? Isn’t it suppose to rise gradually?

18-21KM

Alright almost at half marathon distance. Keep going keep going! Push push push.

22-25KM

Okay I’m beginning to feel a little tired now. Maybe I’ll take a bit of a walk. Just a little.

26KM-30KM

Hey where is everybody? Did we all like disperse? Hmm my toes are beginning to hurt. Never had this feeling before.

31KM-35KM

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!

36KM

OMG WHY DID I DECIDE TO DO THIS !?!?

37KM

WHAT?!?!? JUST 1 KM? AFTER ALL THAT WALKING?!?!

38KM

WTF?!?! MY FITBIT SAYS I HAVE NO HEART BEAT. DID I DIE ALREADY?

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39KM

COME ON 3 FUCKING KM MORE!!! PUSH PUSH PUSH. Weird… why is everyone around me walking?

39.5KM

WHAT THE HELL HOW IS THAT ONLY 500 METRES?!?!?

40KM

Damn people going past me in cars. They’re so lucky!

41KM

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.

41.5KM

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!

41.95KM

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?

42KM

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.

Timothy Tiah’s Reading List

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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!

How my kids taught me the meaning of unconditional love

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I’ve never known the meaning of unconditional love. To me love was always conditional. Like I would love my close ones as long as they treated me well and loved me back. Or I would love my wife as long as she was faithful to me.

But unconditional love by definition means loving someone irregardless of how that someone treats you or how that someone feels about you.  Then came my two kids.

I spend a lot of time with the kids and I love them to bits. However that doesn’t always mean that my love is returned. My kids are closer to my wife than they are to me and for some reason they think that love has to be exclusive. So if they love Mommy they must only love Mommy and not Daddy or anyone else.

While they often tell me how they love me and miss me when I’m not around, at times they can say hurtful things like “I don’t love you Daddy.. go away!”.

Still… I love them all the same. I smile at them when they say words like that meant to pierce. That’s how I finally knew the meaning of “unconditional love”.

Then I thought about my wife and the very conditional love we have for each other. We sat down the other day and had a deep conversation about this. The conclusion was that if I loved her unconditionally, I would want her to do things that made her happy. At the same time I’d allow her without any restrictions to pursue happiness.

No restrictions you might ask? What if she falls in love with another man and has an affair or wants to leave me? I said I hoped I would never find out about it if something like that happened but if it did… then I would have to condition myself to love her the same and let her go. Unconditional love means nothing else is more important to me than her happiness and her wellbeing.

It’s a difficult paradigm shift. All our lives we are brought up to believe that we must stand up for ourselves. That if people disrespect us we should not react positively to it. That if someone cheats on you or cheats you… you react negatively. That’s how we’re all brought up to act.

So does it make sense that in spite of all our natural self-defences, there is this small group of people in our lives that we have no defence for. That whatever they do to us we would love them the same and treat them just as well?

I don’t know. This is a new paradigm shift for Shorts and me. One thing though is that we walked away from our deep conversation with a commitment that we would have unconditional love for each other… and would be committed to each others’ pursuit of happiness.

I don’t think we’re a perfect couple … but I do think we’re perfect for one another,  The best part though is that our suspecting kids were the ones who taught us this.

Drone flying at KLGCC

I spent some time over the weekend doing some drone flying. I have this drone (well it’s my second one after I expensively crashed my first one) that I use every now and then.

I don’t really use it as often as I like to because I don’t really know where to fly it sometimes. But when I do have ideas of where to go I bring it and take some nice videos.

What attracted me to drone flying at first was just to toy of the drone. The technology, the stuff it could do, I would wow and wow at each feature. That novelty wears off quite quickly though and what hooked me after that instead was creating videos.

I’m not very good at creating drone videos yet. I’ve watched a lot of tutorials online and good drone videos really take a lot of creativity and patience, and stable flying. I’ve worked on some of those things, but overall still pretty shaky.

My favourite thing to do is the drone selfie. Which is like what Gin and I did here in this video.

The other thing I really like about drone flying is seeing how things look like from the sky. Very often things look very very different from the sky.

Like this video here I took of the KLGCC golf course. A few years ago when I used to play golf I used to go there a lot. But still seeing it from the sky is a whole different sight. A really beautiful one.

I don’t really know where else to fly my drone in KL. Does anyone have any ideas or any videos that they want to see?

Is this the coolest wedding ever?

I was about to get dressed for Iqbal’s wedding when my wife said “The dress code is festive right?”.

“Festive?” I said… while putting my suit back in the closet.

I quickly looked at the invite again and I realized what I had ahead of me. The wedding invite looked more like a flyer for a gig than the typical white invitation cards we would get for the wedding. Proudly listed in the flyer were the acts that night, the food (all the restaurants at APW from Proof to Kaiju) and drinks like Heineken.

The dress code? Festive. Exactly like what my wife pointed out. I googled Festive to find what people wore to Coachella and well the more recently infamous Fyre Festival and it was lots of shorts and simple casual wear. I thought really hard. Really really hard. It’s like after going for so many formal weddings, it’s like against our nature to go for one so casual. I decided to throw caution to the wind and do it anyway.

When I arrived at the wedding this is what I saw.

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The bride and groom had booked out APW and turned it into a festival. The whole scene looked more like an expensive media event than a wedding. There was a food truck and lots of food stores,

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a DJ console and a live band.

IMG_20170513_211358 Throughout the venue people were standing around casually catching up with each other. I went expecting that I might not know anyone there but I bumped into a lot of common friends we had. In the warehouse though the party continued.

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It was like a club with an open bar.

I was going for a 36 KM run the next morning so I turned down the booze for a Milo. Shorty went for a Kickapoo.

IMG_20170513_201700 Inside the warehouse they played a looping wedding video of the beautiful wedding they had in New Zealand before. Now how would anyone watch the video with EDM blasting away in the background?  Well they had these cool headphones for you to block out all the music and focus on the video if you wanted to.

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The best weddings are the ones that best represent the bride and groom. This wedding I thought really represented Iqbal because well.. he’s the guy behind Livescape, who organizes events like Future Music Festival Asia and more recently It’s the Ship.

So it’s a really apt wedding but more importantly a really awesome one.. for an awesome couple.

If I bought the Rolls Royce of Massage Chairs, how long would it take to get my money back?

This article is in collaboration with GINTELL.

Last weekend I went into the GINTELL store in Pavilion and decided to try out their new massage chair called the GINTELL DéSpace UFO Massage Chair. This to my understanding is the “Rolls Royce of massage chairs”.

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Why Rolls Royce? Well let me tell you what it can do among many other things.

  1. It has this thing called an I-Sensing System that measures your body shape and length from head to toe to accurately provide a “tailor-made” massage experience for you.
  2. It has rollers that reach from your upper back to thigh, even covering your butt.
  3. It doesn’t just massage you but it can stretch you. Like it pulled my feet and really stretched me out. I felt like there was a real person pulling on my feet to stretch my whole body out. Kinda like how you feel in the morning when you stretch out on your own but with a lot more force.
  4. It has speakers at the head rest that you can connect to your phone via Bluetooth to play music.
  5. It can even provide heat therapy.

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It was my first time sitting on a chair like this and I gotta say it was a completely different experience that I was used to from the old one I have at home. For one, once I click a switch it lifts my feet up and tilts me to this comfy position as the machinery works to massage me all over my body.

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When I say all over, I mean everywhere. Traditional massage chairs normally cover your back and sometimes your feet. This one covered everything including my hands.

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It was a great. One of those things I wouldn’t mind getting for Father’s Day (*ahem* if you’re reading this, that’s one month away dear Fighter and Penny. No rush).

So how much does the “Rolls” of Massage chairs cost?

RM21,988.

Yep. RM21-friggin-988.

I balked when the sales person told me the price but he was quick to explain that they have a promo now that allows you to:

  1. Get a free DéVano S Massage Chair if you buy one of the GINTELL DeSpace UFO Massage Massage Chairs.
  2. And there is a GINTELL Parents’ Day buy one free one promotion for their massage chairs with the Double Happiness package that starts with RM4,988.

Okay…. great. But still. RM21,988!

Instead of looking at the overall lump sum cost though I decided instead to calculate how long it would take for me to “recover” this investment. Now if I didn’t buy this massage chair and I was super into massages, maybe I would go like twice a week. So I went to check how much a massage in KL would cost.

A typical spa I googled up puts it at RM109.20 (including GST) for a 60 minute massage. That’s a lot of money to pay but there is some pros and cons to that comparison. The pros of going to a spa is that it’s a different experience with trained staff and nice environment. The cons of going to a spa is the inconvenience of it. You normally need to dedicate a couple of hours just to go there, find parking and all that. So the cost may well be over RM109.20.

Now assuming I go for a massage twice a week the estimated cost of that would be some RM11,357 a year. So in two years I would have completely “made back” my cost of the RM21,988 massage chair. That’s a decent ROI because every massage after that is “free” (minus electricity costs) and massage chairs normally last for many many years.

When I put it that way I can understand why people pay that much for a massage chair. The sales staff at GINTELL told me they sell a good number of them every month and just as I was trying out the chair, another customer came in already prepared to make a big ticket purchase for one of these chairs. By the way speaking of the sales staff, I thought their Pavilion outlet had some really good sales staff. I think one of them was named Bryan.. the other.. I didn’t get his name.

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Anyway if you’d like to check out GINTELL’s new chairs you can check out their website here or the ad below for how the chair works.

 

3 Weeks Before I Embark on my 42 KM Run

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I actually can’t believe that it’s only been like two months since I started training for this marathon we signed up to. At first I was really reluctant and lazy. Convinced that I didn’t want to do it and that I would just go and run as much as I could then take the bus home.

But then my friends seemed enthusiastic about it so I decided to keep to my commitment and give it my best. I’ve been following a running schedule which involves running 3-4 times a week and my weekend runs are getting longer and longer.

2 weeks ago I ran 22.5 KM. Last week it was 26.5 KM and this weekend I’m supposed to do 29KM. Next week 32KM or so.

The marathon? Well that’s 42KM.

I’ve learned there are a lot of things I need to practice too and it’s not just running. I need to practice eating all the power gel and bars and chews while running that will replenish my body with the energy to push myself the distance. If you don’t do it during training, your stomach can feel iffy the first time you do it.

So I went out shopping and bought a lot of these things and boy they’re all not cheap. Whoever said running was free?

I’ve also spent money on 2XU compression tights that is supposed to help with performance and reduce injuries and I initially thought it was just all marketing talk and a placebo but it seems to have helped me. Okay okay maybe that’s placebo effect.

One exciting feeling for me though is for the first time in my life I feel I can run really long distances without stopping. I used to be able to run like… I don’t know.. 800 metres then I would have to stop for a walk. Now I can go on for a long long time.

I’ve also learned that running is better with friends because your friends somehow pressure you to keep going whenever you feel like stopping for a walk.

All in all I have 3 weeks left to the actual marathon. in Phuket. I don’t know how I’m going to cope. I am fully prepared to not finish…. but I find myself now wanting to finish because I’ve put in so much training into it.

The only thing I can’t stand about running or marathons though is waking up early. My marathon starts at 4.30AM. That means I have to wake up at 3AM to prepare everything and then only go for it. I mean who does that? Who wakes up at 3AM? That’s like not sleeping at all.

I’ve also read a lot about how marathons are actually bad for your body and all that. So I think I’m going to stick to doing one marathon and that’s it. I’m not sure if I’ll keep running. I mean I do enjoy listening to my audio books while running because I feel like I’m learning something and exercising at the same time… but well I also do enjoy doing other stuff more like playing badminton.

So okay… 3 weeks to go. Hope I’m all fit and ready for it then. Completing it would be another life achievement unlocked!