We toyed with all the conventional ideas for a launch. Lion dance, a press conference, cut ribbon… all those kind of things. At the end of it the Colony team sat down and we thought about what the purpose was for the launch.
The purpose was just to show case Colony as it was. As how it would look on a normal day. Plus we thought about what made launch events fun. What made them fun wasn’t the launch gambits and all these things. Nobody liked speeches or launch gambits. What made it fun was just the company.
So for our launch we just prepared the food and invited all the people we knew.
We initially prepared ourselves for 100 people but over 150 came including almost 20 journalists from different publications.
It was an amazing event. I gave a short speech and the rest of the time was just for everyone to sit, chill, drink and chat. We had everyone from our friends to our investors.
One particular investor of mine came for the first time and jokingly (or maybe not jokingly) said “Tim… you know when I invested in you right I mentally wrote off the investment liao. Now I see how it looks I think can write half back”.
I’ve learned that sometimes the most simple things are the best. I’ve got lots of people to thank. From the team, to Heineken and Strongbow who sponsored the beer, to Carol Yong who took these great photos to the guests, our investors, our landlord and Bold Grains and Espresso Lab, our food operators of Colony who also catered that night.
The launch is just the beginning of course. Now the pressure is on for us to make this a sustainable business. I know we have a tough road ahead of us, but we’ve got lots to do.
I know I’ve been sparse on my updates on social media lately, even on Dayre. That’s because I’ve been so busy that I’ve even stopped playing War Robots.
At an interview with Focus Malaysia magazine today the journalist asked me what I do with my time now. If I really think about it, all I do is spend time with family, work, run and read my books. That’s about it but the most important thing is… I’m happy.
Thank you for all the people who’ve been such a wonderful part of my life.
Early last week Shorty and I were running around preparing for the 27th of August launch of Colony’s first co-working space. There was just so much to do. We had to finish up all the last minute renovations that we still had ongoing, to preparing for the launch event itself.
The launch turned out to be great. Something I’ll blog about on a later date once all the official photos are out.But back to the story… it was in the midst of all this planning when Shorty said
“What are we doing for our anniversary?”.
Our anniversary is on the 28th July. The one day after our launch. Now Shorty and I have a history of not celebrating Valentine’s Day or Anniversary in a fancy way but we normally try to do a dinner together or something. Not necessarily a fancy dinner, but just some time with each other.
I said we can do a dinner… but on that night an investor of Colony was in town so I probably had to take him out. After we finished dinner that night we got a call from a tenant of ours at Colony that they were having trouble with their air-con.
The weekend had just started at the end of a really busy week and before we knew it we were back at Colony on a Friday night. A major client was using the space and their air-con broke down. Shorty and I went in and relocated them to another space in Colony while trying to get someone to come fix it. Unfortunately it was the weekend so no technicians were able to come until Monday.
Saturday was spent trying to find a technician and on Saturday night Shorty and I decided to catch a movie to celebrate our post anniversary. She had wanted to watch Baby Driver. Right after our movie though we had to go back to Colony to do some stuff so there we were again working. Sunday was an almost full work day for me too since the technician managed to come in and I wanted to be around to learn what happened. I figure I need to know about all these maintenance issues.
At the end of the weekend we spent most of it together… but working. The best part though is that I loved it. Looking back at it, working with my wife has helped me look at her in a different light. At home I see her play the role of mother and wife, but at work… as this really capable woman who inspires me to work with her.
We’ve only just started working together but I feel like our relationship is moving into a new phase altogether.
Whoops okay now I gotta go… wife just finished doing some work and she wants to go for a massage. Husband duties calls!
Yesterday was a big day for us at Colony. It was the launch of our new co-working space and we were all really busy preparing for everything.
The one special thing about Colony is that we’re in a building where its tenants (residents and commercial tenants like us) can pay to use the beautiful gym and swimming pool on the roof top that is operated by an independent operator. So that allows our members access to these great facilities which go well with our work life balance ethos.
One thing I’m really conscious about though is making the residents feel comfortable with us sharing the space. Even though we all pay management fees to be entitled to it, I wanna make sure we do whatever we can to make sure they’re comfortable with us being there.
Anyway on the morning of our launch I got a phone call from a “resident of the building”….. which then spoiler alert turned out to be a Gotcha call by the Hitz.FM morning crew.
Here’s how it went. Turns out my wife set me up.
Jump to minute 1.22. That’s where the call starts.
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”.