TimothyTiah.com

I’m doing some soul-searching… can you help me?

Mann my updates here have been getting a little sparse lately. Heck it’s not just here but my social media updates here in general. I know what you’re thinking… shouldn’t I be updating more now that I don’t have a day job?

Well I thought so but actually I’ve been spending a lot of my time soul-searching. That’s time doing a lot of reading online, meeting up with old friends and talking to people from different industries.

The reason ? I’m trying to find my next calling. The next business that I’m going to commit the next 5-10 years of my life to. And it’s been hard.

Decades ago during our parents’ generation I think starting business was a bit of a land grab. If you see someone else having a coal mine, try to get your hands on one and you’re ok. If someone has a plantation then start a plantation too and you’re ok.

In today’s world all those easy land grabs are all taken up and are now owned by families that have become really really wealthy. So in order to make it big, our generation can no longer just “land grab”. We have to create something that people want… not something that people NEED, because all the NEEDS are already being fulfilled.

To make things even more complicated, today we live in a world where we want instant gratification, and we’re very fickle. So what we want today can be very different from what we want tomorrow. That’s why you see trends come and go so quickly. That’s why a cafe that does so well in the first few months suddenly dies a year later.

So I’ve been carefully looking at what to go into. I think business is hard and choosing a business to go into is really really hard. There are just so many uncertainties and so many things that are really hard to predict because very often we’re creating new industries. So there isn’t any past data to make predictions on or anything like that.

I have a number of ideas in mind, and some of them with Shorty. But it’s still something that we’re still carefully thinking so I’m not sure if I’m ready to announce something like that yet.

I do however want to do a little bit of market research and I was wondering if you guys could help me. I’ve created a short 7 question survey about working in KL. If you’re from KL or if you know anyone from KL, could you send them this survey link? It’ll take like 2 minutes.

Thanks very much guys. Please click here for the survey.


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Why we should NEVER do what’s expected of us but instead…

Here are the two realities we live in now.

  1. We’re constantly surrounded with people with opinions.

2. We’re brought up learning that reputation or what people think of us is important.

As a result of these two things, we are often told of the things we should or should not do. Not because you believe it personally is the right thing to do, but because it is EXPECTED of you. It’s hard to deal with this pressure of expectations

But before we decide to succumb to these expectations, we need to remember these few things:

  1. Reputation is a fickle thing

The saying goes that reputation takes a lifetime to build but only a moment to destroy. What does that tell us?

It tells us that reputation or what people think of you is fickle. It’s even more fickle when you consider that it doesn’t take lifetimes to build a reputation anymore. Think Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos. Five years ago few have ever heard of her. Then a year later she was very quickly built up as the poster girl of entrepreneurship. People put millions into her company and she attracted the praise of people like Sheryl Sandberg. Her rise didn’t take a lifetime. It took a few years.

Her downfall of course was quick which validates the truth in the second part of the saying. So reputation doesn’t take a lifetime to build but it does takes a short time to destroy.

Steve Jobs would know. One day he was viewed as the erratic Apple CEO that was killing the company and some decades later he was the champion bringing back Apple to its glory days.

This realisation brings us then to the following point.

2. Should we base our life decisions on a fickle thing?

Good or bad things that happen to us in life aren’t often the result of one good decision or one bad decision. They’re the result of a series of good or bad decisions. That’s hard because that means we have to consistently make good decisions to make it rich, or be happy, or whatever good outcome we want.

In making these decisions we need to be really squared on what good decisions are. We need to be sure we’re making the right calls and we need to be cutting out all the unimportant factors in weighing these calls.

3. Only you know what’s best for you.

Nobody else does. We owe it to ourselves to get as many perspectives as we can, gather all the facts we need but beyond that nobody else can make a better decision about our own lives than ourselves. Why? Because nobody else cares about you more than yourself.

Everyone else potentially has some other agenda. Others might have something to gain from your failure or some might be envious of you and want to see you go down.

So you gotta make your own call and in making your own call, considering what everyone else expects of you or thinks of you is a distraction. It is not just a distraction but it’s outright unhealthy. Why? Because as I said before what people think of you is a fickle thing, and the last thing you need is to be making a decision based on is a fickle thing.

This applies to our every day struggles. Say you have a poor reputation at work because of some past failures that you may or may not be responsible for. Everyone expects you to quit. Well don’t quit just because of that. Quit if you think it’ll be best for you and understand the fickleness of what people think of you.

Today they may think poorly of you but just one success of work and you could all of a sudden be the rising star all over again.

So don’t do what’s expected of you. Do instead what’s best for you. In doing so you’ll achieve your own success in life, and your reputation will follow.

How our changing eating habits led to the success of this convenience store

Last week my friend Lik Khai invited me to the opening of his second Family Mart store in KL.

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This one in MidValley.

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The first store opened in Wisma Lim Foo Yong about a month ago and was met with great fanfare. The store is constantly packed throughout the day and night. I was there at 1AM last Friday and it was packed. KL is a city that isn’t short of convenience stores.

Throw a stone anywhere in the territory and you would probably hit three. So what’s the deal? How does Family Mart expect to stand out against the incumbent 7-11 that has some 2,000 over stores in Malaysia.

IMG_20161201_100536 The answer is pretty simple: Food. One trend that Lik Khai spotted was the rise of “convenient takeaways”. Today Malaysians work longer hours and families often have two income earners with both husband and wife working. So less of us have time to cook especially on weekdays.

The alternative is takeaway. Traditionally we’d go to any roadside store or economy rice shop to takeaway something for lunch or dinner and bring it back to our office or home to eat. The rise of food delivery services too capitalise on this trend. There are a few issues though:

              1. Takeaway food is often unhealthy – They’re often deep fried and stuff.
              2. Takeaway food from delivery services are expensive.

Here’s the gap that Family Mart looks to fill. Instead of the usual convenience store stuff you can find like chocolates, sweets, condoms… whatever.

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You’ll also find a lot of fresh food that’s delivered daily like this.

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That you can take it to the counter and just have them heat it up for you. Voila a hot meal in a few minutes and some healthy stuff too.If you’re more snacky and less concerned about healthy stuff like me there’s also this.

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Or the popular Tom Yam Oden.

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Or if you want to just grab something really quick that you can eat later you can get my wife’s favorite Onigiri.

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Once you’re done picking your main course, there’s of course the drink. In addition to the usual soft drinks and all you’ll find a whole range of Japanese drinks that in the past you would only be able to find in Japan.

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Drinks is another big plus of Family Mart for me. Many times I walk into a convenience store and I feel like a cold drink. But here’s the challenge. Try to go to a random convenient store and buy a cold drink that isn’t sweet.

There isn’t. Just about every drink on the shelf of a convenience store in Malaysia is sweet apart from milk.

In Family Mart they have lots of non-sweet drinks like their own range of tea.

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I personally like the Jasmine tea.

Or you could have their freshly made coffee too without sugar.

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Now if you don’t care much for watching sugar and you’re a sweet tooth, they also have a shelf for dessert.

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I liked the Green Tea Panna Cotta.

The best part is that all these things are really reasonably priced. The Onigiri cost about RM4 and two of them are enough to fill me up for lunch.

Well the tea from Japan is expensive at around RM8 a bottle because they’re imported from Japan but you can always pick the local options for the drink.

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All in all my wife and I love it. Just the other night after our movie we were looking for something to eat and settled on dropping by the store and picking up some Onigiri.

The bigger lesson for me here with Family Mart is the business lesson. That no matter how crowded a market is, if you manage to find a need that people have and introduce a solution to that need you’ll do really well.

That’s why Family Mart’s success is inspiring. Their slant for fresh food that you can takeaway is no accident. It’s planned and that’s why they’re the only convenience store in Malaysia with lines that would make Apple proud.

How I courted my way back to my daughter’s heart

Since Penny was born she has always been really sticky to Shorty over anybody else in the house. When mommy is carrying her nobody else gets a chance. When anyone else carries her and she sees mommy she makes a dive for mommy. And when she’s sad and crying she only calls out to mommy.

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I used to feel kinda sad about the whole thing. You see Fighter gets a lot of attention because he’s really sociable and enjoys talking to people so I’ve always made it a point to pay special attention to Penny. That extra attention however has been hard to give.

Every time I ask Penny if i could carry her she says “No” and runs away with the quick steps of her little feet. Sometimes I would feel sad from all the rejection I’ve been getting but I realize that just meant I needed to try harder.

So here’s what I did:

  1. I constantly asked her if I could carry her no matter how many times she said no.
  2. When she called out for mommy when mommy wasn’t around I would say “Mommy’s not here but Daddy’s here”.
  3. Whenever I see her on her own alone at home I would play with her. When I see any opportunities that Fighter gets I make sure she gets it too.
  4. I make it a point to read her a bedtime story every night before she sleeps.
  5. I look at what she enjoys doing, and then I make it a point to do it with her.

After many months of trying the above, here’s where I stand today.

  1. She still says no but in at least 40% of the time I ask she raises her hands signalling for me to carry her. I don’t know about you but that’s progress to me.
  2. When I say mommy’s not here but I am she doesn’t ask for mommy anymore. Instead when Mommy is around I hear her sometimes ask for me.
  3. When I’m reading, or playing games or doing things on my own I notice her coming to me to give me attention too. Whether to offer to play something with me or just to sit on my lap.
  4. Today we were at a book store and I sat on the floor while I got out a story book. Without asking she immediately came over to me and sat on my lap, ready to listen to the story. She does that every time I open a story book now.
  5. I realize she likes being chased. Yep… being chased. So I would pretend to be a monster and try to catch her and she would run away in her quick tiny steps while laughing until I finally caught her.

If there’s one thing I think I’ve achieved this year is I think I’ve won my way into Penny’s heart. I now feel really really loved by her and all that effort, all that rejection… was just worth it.

I’ve learned a lesson here. That is no matter how much our kids reject us sometimes, just keep trying… and soon enough they’ll see you for what you really are.

Why I’m super impressed with TNB

When we came back from dinner last night, we quickly realized that half of the lights and air-conditioning in my home were working and the other half not. I went around the house testing all the switches and concluded that one of our electrical phases was down.

The fuse box in our home seemed to be in order so one of the fuses in the outside TNB box must’ve blown. It was 10PM on a Sunday night. Who is going to come help us out?

I decided to give it a shot anyway and called TNB’s helpline. The customer service on the other side picked up promptly and very quickly took down my details and my issue. She said that their response time is to have a team over in 1-2 hours. I was skeptical but hopeful. It was a Sunday night after all.

5 minutes later a technician from TNB called up and said he wanted to come over but he asked me to check if I had the key to the maintenance room. I told him I needed some time to go check with the security guards and he said sure he’ll call back in 10 minutes.

10 minutes later he called back and I acknowledged that yep we did have a key. “We’ll be over in 20 minutes” he said.

20 minutes? Okay that was fast. Again I was hopeful but skeptical. In 20 minutes a team of two technicians showed up at my door. They did some quick checking on this big switch-box right outside our home and confirmed that the fuse of one of the phases had blown.  It took him 5 minutes to replace it and voila everything was working.

I made the TNB report at 10PM and by 11PM I had the technicians over at my place and the power was all up and running again. That’s an amazing response time.

Now here’s what’s even more amazing.

My Dad decided to give them a small tip for their time. He took out a RM100 note and offered it to them but they both politely declined. They refused to accept it even as a tip as they said it was part of their job.

We thanked them and let them go their way. As we closed the door behind them my Dad turned to me and said “Look how good some of our civil servants are”.

Well done TNB!

How I almost hurt my wife by telling her off for a mistake she made with our kids

As we sat down at the dinner table, Fighter announced “I need to pee I need to pee I need to pee”.

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My wife jumped up at attention ready to take Fighter to the toilet before he had another wet episode. Right next to her, Penny sat in her baby chair with her helper next to her.

“I’ll take him”. I volunteered. “Just order me a mild Peri Peri and water”.

I walked off with Fighter in my arms as we hunted for the toilet. 15 minutes later we returned and order had been restored on the table. The menus that previously lay on the table were gone, indicating that the food had been ordered and Penny sat calmly in her baby chair.

The food took longer to come than we expected with Penny saying “food” repeatedly and tapping on her tummy, telling us that she was hungry.

20 minutes passed and the food finally arrived on the table. I ate away as my helper fed Penny and Shorty fed Fighter.

Some 60 seconds in, Fighter let out a cry and shouted “HOT HOT HOT!”. Penny promptly followed suit and did the same as they both reached for their water bottles to put out the inferno happening in their mouths.

I looked at what they were eating and their chicken had the flag which proudly claimed the chicken they ate was a “Mild Peri Peri”.

I asked Shorty “Why did you order them Mild Peri Peri? It’s spicy!”.

Having always ordered “Hot Peri Peri” for herself, Shorty has never had Mild before and she thought Mild was the lowest level. She didn’t know until then that Lemon and Herb existed.

No matter! She decided to wipe away all the sauce from the chicken and tried to feed the kids again. It didn’t work. They both cried and once again chugged down water. Soon enough they both didn’t want to eat anymore. Not the chicken or the totally unspicy rice.

Watching all this I got really upset. I wanted to blame Shorty for making such a mistake and that because of this mistake our kids can’t have a proper dinner now. My mind went through a harsh selection of words “How could you order spicy food for our kids? Now they won’t eat!”.

Just before the words left my mouth though I held myself back. I asked myself what good would telling Shorty off do? She already knew she made a mistake, she didn’t intend to… but now that she did she feels just as bad as I do that our kids won’t eat.

As I sat there zoned out in the moment as both kids were wailing I then asked myself
“Okay… Shorty made a mistake. Our kids are having a hard time. What am I doing about it?”.

I decided to act. I called the waiter to order a “Lemon & Herb” flavour. I then walked over to a defiant Fighter who wouldn’t listen to his mommy and gently whispered in his ear that I would take him for a walk if he calmed down. He did and in 5 minutes we were out of Nandos, walking around KLCC, both father and son trying to cool down.

As I cooled down I began to realise the bullet I just dodged. If I hadn’t controlled myself I would have said words that wouldn’t have improved the situation at all but worse, they would go on to hurt my wife as a mom.

I came back after our walk to see Penny hugging mommy. She refused to eat the Lemon & Herb that arrived so I tried Fighter who took a few bites. After we were sure they wouldn’t eat anymore we decided to take it away and go buy them some bread.

Both kids tucked into bed well that night. They had a sausage bun each and some extra milk to keep them full.

We were in the car on the way out after putting the kids to bed when I started the conversation with a
“You know I nearly made a mistake just now”.

And I explained how I was feeling at the time, and how I’m glad I didn’t act on my raw emotions. Shorty listened to the whole thing and then gave me a pat on the shoulder and said “Thank you”.

Perhaps it’s in our nature to be protective of our kids and stand up for them whenever they’re having a hard time but sometimes we forget that as their mom and dad and as husband and wife, we’re on the same side.  Life is hard but marriage makes life a little easier because you have a partner you can count on… but all that counts for nothing if we turn on one another.

Yes both Shorty and I make mistakes with our kids every now and then, but the wonderful kids they are today is the result of our successes and failures with them. I’m grateful that my wife is this wonderful mom and awesome life partner to raise a family with.

I love you Shorts.

Why a part of our humanity died today with Donald Trump winning the presidency

It’s over. Donald Trump will be the next President of the United States of America and his win is a loss for all of humanity.

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Let me explain why.

It’s not because I think Donald Trump will be a bad President for the US. In fact I think that once in office there’s every chance he might tone down his rhetoric.

It’s also not because I think Donald Trump is incapable of leading the country. Jokes about his Twitter account aside.

It’s also not because of how he doesn’t seem to have a clear policy of how he’s going to do what he says he’s going to do.

No… it’s none of that.

While humanity has died a little today because of what Donald Trump stood for be it racism, bigotry, hate and fear mongering. The thought of Trump winning is hardly as troubling as what the people who voted for him represent.

This changes politics for all of us. This election and Brexit validates that politicians are no longer rewarded for doing the humane thing like accepting refugees of a war torn nation, or standing up for the rights of a racial or religious minority. Instead it tells politicians that they are rewarded for turning away refugees and oppressing the religious or racial minority. That being divisive and for fear-mongering pays off,

No longer will many of our politicians find the need to woo us by their resolve to do the right things or to unite people. Instead they will scare us into voting for them at the ballot box. Creating fear from an exaggerated threat.

Brexit won that way. Trump won that way. And many more leaders will win election that way.

The price of a divided world where we’re all afraid of each other will be paid not by us, but by our children. May God forgive us.

Taking a step back from Netccentric

A few days ago, Netccentric announced to the stock market that I will be leaving my position as COO and taking a step back from active management of the company. I will though still remain a director, advisor and shareholder of the company.

This was a really big decision for me and for the first two days after leaving the company, I was in a state of denial. I felt like I had just gotten out of a 10 year relationship and reality was just sinking in. I didn’t want to talk to anybody about it and I kept myself busy.

Today though I’ve decided to sit down and pen down my thoughts.

With Ming running the company as CEO for the last 2 years, I’ve felt like the company didn’t really need me anymore on an executive level. So in the past few months I carefully evaluated the next steps of my future.

My future of course is no longer mine alone but also that of my family who depend on me. So I had a heart to heart talk with my wife one day. I said I was going to leave my COO position with Netccentric and start something new. With that something new, it will likely be years before I can earn the same income that I used to earn. However I had saved up over the years which would help us maintain our lifestyle. Just no private schools for the kids and less holidays.

Just as important is how happy I think I would be. I’ve always told my colleagues and friends that I was happiest when our company had 20-30 employees. As the company grew to over 200 staff , I began to see the pains of running such a large organization and it ate away a little bit of my happiness.

Being a listed company added to that stress of watching a stock price fluctuate on a day to day basis. More experienced businessmen have told me to ignore the stock price and what it means to my personal net worth but the stock price (which has come down a lot) has affected me in a bigger way. Turns out I’m totally not bothered by what it means for my personal net worth because that’s all just ego.

What hits me though is how sad I feel when investors who invested in us lose money (at least for now) even if the reason for that is contributed from really macro reasons like investor sentiment on ASX Tech stocks being  down. Perhaps that’s one thing that holds me back from being a true businessman. I can’t bear to lose other peoples’ money. I can’t find it in myself to do anything like what Donald Trump did with his Atlantic City ventures.

Ming feels the stress too, but he copes much better than I do. Rather than worry about the fluctuations he puts all his mind into working on the business to deliver shareholder value in the long term. His strength in doing that is something I give him credit for and I’ve never seen him work harder than he has now.

When I first co-founded Netccentric some 10 years ago I hoped for a business that would make me some money but what I ended up getting in the end was far more than money. I had made great friends from clients, colleagues and business partners. Friends who I still keep in close contact with. I’ve also been blessed with a number of entrepreneur awards, the most recent being the Ernst & Young Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year Award last year.

I’ve had also had great memories.

My experience with Netccentric / Nuffnang from boostrapping startup to IPO has also given me invaluable lessons in business that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Some people ask me what I’m doing next… I have an idea, but I’ll talk about it publicly once I’m actually doing it. In the mean time I’m going to spend the extra time I have with my family and pursuing some interests.

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I’ll spend more time reading books and if there’s one thing I’ve always wanted to do was relive my teenage days of doing absolutely nothing but playing computer games from sunrise to sunset.

Maybe I’ll be able to do that now.

The winner of the SEIKO watch

Hi Guys

I just spent the past half an hour going through all the SEIKO stories you guys submitted on your platforms. Thank you very much for that.

There were many many good stories, many of you wanting to give to fathers, husbands, brothers and even friends. I wish I had more to give but I only have one.. so the one that I’m giving it to is to Hanimh who’s giving it to her husband, a SEIKO fan.

Thank you guys for participating and I’ll have more giveaways in future ok? Thank you!

3 Hollywood Actresses that I think are awesome

My wife and I watch a lot of movies together and we generally find ourselves talking about the actresses rather than the actors. For some reason we hardly talk about Robert Downey Jr or Brad Pitt from the movies we watch but we’ll always talk about Emma Stone.

There are 3 actresses that I generally really like though:

  1. Emma Stone

I like Emma Stone because she’s this really pretty girl who doesn’t seem like she’s afraid to make fun of herself.  Like this.

She also comes off in talk shows as really friendly, like if you saw her in public you won’t be as intimidated going up to her to say hi as opposed to say seeing…. Beyonce?

2. Anna Kendrick

I first heard of Anna Kendrick from Pitch Perfect.

I think it’s amazing she can sing but there’s one thing I love even more about her than her singing and that’s how witty and hilarious she is on Twitter.

Here are some of my favourites.

3. Blake Lively

This one really because of this movie.

I first saw her in Gossip Girls years back but I always just thought she’s okay but wow in Age of Adaline… it was really something else.

She’s coming up with another movie that looks pretty interesting too.

One of those lone survivor against all odds kind of movie. I normally don’t like watching movies like this because man it’s stressful but I might watch this one just for Blake Lively.

Also I kinda like her husband Ryan Reynolds too (from Deadpool).