Chris Leong

Disoriented views from the rosy lens of an optimistic realist.

Entrepreneurship and Fun

Entrepreneurship is not for everyone – that is something that I always believe in. So there are times, I frowned upon programmes that encourage students to be entrepreneurs by promoting it as a cool thing to be in. While I can understand the rationale behind promoting entrepreneurship but I sometimes wish entrepreneurship was not portrayed as a cool/fun thing for someone to jump in. To me, that is not the entire picture and can be misleading.

From my time spent in the entrepreneurship scene, I had seen different types of entrepreneurs. I come to notice that there are more and more upcoming want to-be entrepreneurs that had the wrong mindset about what entrepreneurship is. I notice that a lot of these want to-be-entrepreneurs spent more time in events than spending time running the business. A true entrepreneur would rather spent each waking hour in their business rather than going to some get-together to have fun bragging about how good their idea is. And if when you are in the scene long enough, you know ideas are cheap.

Starting a company is never fun (in the conventional way). It would be fun though if you were the type of person that defines fun as spending hours everyday to train for an Iron Man competition or to climb Mt Everest. Not everyone enjoys that, so not everyone will enjoy entrepreneurship.

The life of a true entrepreneur is full of worry and sacrifice. The first thing the entrepreneur loses would most likely be the social life. Clubbing sessions, drinking session and any other non-essential activities would most likely to be the first to go. Public holidays and festivals soon won’t draw the same excitement as it used to – everyday can be a workday anyway. Delay gratification would start to become a habit, as cash flow considerations would be the priority. (Imagine saying no to the latest cool gadget you want to buy). And the list can go on and on

So is entrepreneurship fun? Yes, only to a selected few.

For an entrepreneur to thrive, there must be a deep conviction within. A conviction that regardless of the odds, they have the “special” advantage to succeed. This conviction also would allow entrepreneurs to enjoy the fun part of a start-up: The happiness of getting 1 yes after 10 rejections, the excitement of launching a product after weeks of all-nighters and the satisfaction of proving the naysayers wrong.  That’s the fun part of entrepreneurship – to assume the role of David and to try the very best to beat the hell out of a Goliath.

Entrepreneurship always reminds me of “running”. Running faster than your nearest competitor and running faster so that you are far ahead of any upcoming competitor. So entrepreneurship is all about running fast (especially for tech companies) and this quote that I read from the book “The World is Flat” sums it all up.

“Every morning in Africa, a Gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed.

Every morning a Lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest Gazelle or it will starve to death.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a Lion or a Gazelle… when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.” – Old African Proverb

And that ends my ramblings about entrepreneurship. And if you enjoy “running” welcome to the entrepreneurship world.

Image from the Boho Garden

2012 – A personal recap

It is the beginning of a brand new year and I’m in a particularly reflective mood. I always felt that looking inward and reflecting back is important for ones personal development. It gives me a sense of whether I really grown as a person. And of course I don’t mean physically. That, I leave it to nature :)

2012 – a year of tribulation

2012 to me is a year that I was tested the most – both in terms of career and personal life. It present to me many challenges, and many of them struck me emotionally. Ironically, 2012 was also a year that bears me many fruits. I managed to get a lot of things done and some of the achievements were close to my heart. Something I can be proud of.

I guess during the testing times is where the fire will burn the strongest. The process, no doubt, would be painful but it also fortifies one’s character. I’m fortunate that it made me a better person and manage to end the year on a better note.

Looking back, I’m still counting my blessings as many of the things that I’m been working on bore fruit at the most unlikely time. The most significant one would be the angel tax incentive and my MBA. It was lobbied for 2 years and through sheer grit and support from various stakeholders, the Prime Minister finally announced it in his budget speech in September 2012.

The other thing was my MBA. I finally manage to finish my MBA and surprisingly, with a distinction. That was a huge surprise for me, as I needed a really high score for my dissertation to get a distinction. And the deadline to submit was during the most challenging time of my life (managing a regional event – ABAF for Cradle and juggling life). I’m glad that everything workout fine in the end J

I draw many lessons from 2012. But I would like to share 3 personal lessons that make me a better person.

1) When it rains, it pours. So learn to dance in the rain

Shit happens and unfortunately shit attracts more shit. So either you take it as a lesson/test or you can whine about it. Learning to be thankful about what you have rather than what could have been will open up opportunities for better things to happen.

Looking at the positive side of a bad event and learning the skill (yes it can be learnt) will allow you to find joy in what you have. Trust me. Luck and fortune will find the people who is smiling rather than whining. J

2) Let go. Focus out and take a step at a time

Fantasizing too much about the problem does not help, especially with a problem that is out of your control. So focus out on achieving things and letting go the problem temporary would do wonders to the mind. And more likely or not, if one stays idle too long most probably you are sitting on a lot of things that will transform into problems in the future (unpaid bills, missed deadlines ETC).

Taking baby steps forward equates to one huge step for your mental development. That step would most probably take a lot of mental strength but would lay the foundation for one to conquer bigger problems in the future.

3) Do the right thing. You sleep better at night

I’m old school and like to stick on to traditional values. I strongly believe that when you do bad things, it would be like a boomerang. It would come back sooner or later.

My moral benchmark is simple. If the things I do, won’t let me sleep well at night then it fails my benchmark. A revengeful/evil heart is just bad investment. I’m the type of people who prefers to spend more energy looking forward rather than taking care of my back. And believe me, that is such a waste of time.

So, these are personal lessons of mine. And I do hope it benefits someone who reads it. Good-bye 2012. I’m thankful but I will always remember you as the year of fire.

Company Credo

Something I would like to see in more Malaysian companies. Simple but takes effort to create!

Credo

1) No Asshole allowed
2) Work hard, Be Excellent
3) Create value for others

Lean Start-up

Are you an entrepreneur? Have you heard of Lean Start-up? Then you better understand more on how you can drastically improve your changes by applying the principles in the book. The principles of Lean-Startup can be applied to any business (not only tech). Rather than I explaining it in words, watch this video. It is a great way of explaining what is it all about.

Lean Start-up

You can get the book at major bookstores or you can save a tree by buying the Kindle version in Amazon. More information on the principles on its official website – http://theleanstartup.com/

Lean Start-up by Eric Ries

Happy Chinese New Year

Last year was a hectic year for me. With a lot of testing moments that I hope I can appreciate in the coming years ahead of me. Like the late Steve Jobs say, you can only connect the dots when you look back. I’m hoping whatever experience I have for 2011 will be the foundation for a better future.

Goodbye the year of the Rabbit. Hello year of the Dragon. Wishing everyone i know a great year ahead. 龍馬精神 & Gong Xi Fatt Chai

Silicon Valley Visit–An eye opener

sanfrancisco3

I have been in the tech circle and the entrepreneurship circle for a number of years in Malaysia. I have always regard Silicon Valley as a very special place, some sort of Mecca for entrepreneurs. My visit there was a mind boggling experience and it is a place where i would like to stay longer. Maybe to do a start-up of my own Smile

After being there, talking to VCs, angel investors and visiting the tech giants around. I came into one conclusion. IMHO, Malaysia with its plans to emulate Silicon Valley has still a long way to go. Silicon Valley is special because of the soft aspect – people. Not its infrastructure, it is something that more Government officials need to realise.

Signing off from Dubai, in a 8 hour long transit.

Happy Chinese New Year!

Presentation the Zen way

Recently I completed my speech #8 in D’utama Toastmaster club, I got many good feedback on my speech and many have asked that I share my slides.

 

While I like to take credit for the insights I have presented, but really, I got most of my material and insights from this great book “Presentation Zen”. This book will change the way you think about making presentations with PowerPoint. It has help me along the path to simpler, more effective presentations.I’m sure you will find it useful too.

Presentation Zen Toastmaster D'Utama Speech 8 by Chris Leong

I purchased the kindle version of the  Presentation Zen from Amazon. If you prefer the physical copy, you can always buy it from Kinokuniya or MPH.

Hope you enjoy the book and my slides. Tell me what you think about it too.

Bono’s TED Talk

These days whenever I have free time, I will browse through all the interesting TED talk to get some inspiration. I have seen this video before but it still does inspire me. While Bono did not talk about entrepreneurship per say, but his changing the world attitude is one that any individual can learn from.

I am particular intrigue with one particular quote in the video.

Idealism detached from action is just a dream.

Don’t wait for the ideal business plan to come out. Don’t want for the the ideal partners to start. Entrepreneurs wannabe should start taking small little steps to kick start their venture (Writing business plans do not count). Go talk to prospective customers, start building the site. Do something purposeful. Because, when everything is certain, someone has already made their millions. NOT you.

What I learned from Malcolm Gladwell’s TED Talk

I was browsing through TED’s video and found this video of Malcolm Gladwell’s talk. Being a fan of Malcolm Gladwell writings (I have all his books), I want to see what insights he has to share.

He did not disappoint. His talk was titled “What can we learn from spaghetti sauce”. It tells a tale of how the food industry was obsessed in finding the “perfect” sauce and how a man came to change the industry’s view.

 

I find his delivery to be engaging and funny at times. but more importantly within his speech there are underlying insights that every entrepreneurs can learn from:

Making complex things simple to understand

This lesson was not in the content of his talk but on how they way he delivers the talk. He manage to explain what can be a boring academic research into something easy to understand. His usage of analogies and his story telling style of presenting kept me captivated. This skill is very important especially to entrepreneurs who wants to pitch for funding.

I’ve been into many pitching sessions where entrepreneurs either bore the judges to death or confusing the judges with too many jargons. What they should do is to relate the product offerings to something that the audiences can relate to. Telling a story the problems a consumer/user face and how your product can solve it is a better pitch.

Ask the right questions

No matter how efficient a person digs, there is no way he will find treasure if he’s digging at the wrong place. Asking the right questions is akin to providing the right solution. In the talk, the food industry was asking the wrong question all along, wasting millions of dollars in producing products that does not fulfill people’s need. Having a rebel attitude that challenges the core belief and status quo might just create the right solution to an underlying problem.

Consumers do not know what they want

Revolutionary product that creates new market do not come from market research and focus groups. Consumer just do not know what they want. Think of the IPhone. What do you think the answer would be , if a consumer was asked whether he/she would like to buy a phone that has no multi-tasking, no copy & paste for a premium price?

If people were to survey on whether I would want to buy a tablet that acts almost like the IPhone, I would say no. But now I’m happily proven wrong as I can’t keep my hands off my IPad.

Check out the video.

What have I been up to for 2010–Wrote a book

Like Me Follow Me - Chris Leong

If anyone were to ask me a couple of years back whether I’ll become an author, I will most probably laugh until my stomach ache. But, things really work unexpectedly, in early 2010 I was actually working on a book on Social Media.

When I was tapping Oon Yeoh’s brains on social media for my MBA dissertation, he asked me whether I would like to write a book about Facebook and Twitter with him. Even though I don’t see myself as an author and have no experience doing it, I jumped at the opportunity as it seems to be a fun thing to do.

So that’s the start of an exciting and hectic journey especially with Facebook ever changing features and user interface. Finally on July 2010, the book “Like Me, Follow Me” was in MPH stores.

I learnt a lot from the experience and even got an interview slot in BFM with Oon Yeoh. Check out the podcast attached. If I sound nervous in the podcast, it is because I really am. Smile

 

P.S: I was hysterical when the book was in the 2nd place of local best sellers (non-fiction, Aug 2010).

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