Entrepreneur Insight March 2018

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MARCH 2018




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5 OCTOBER 2018 THE 100 MOST INFLUENTIAL YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS (#100 MIYE) acknowledges bold, creative and innovative young Malaysian entrepreneurs below age of 45, who set the standards of Malaysia’s enterprising spirit. If you are one of these outstanding personalities who run incredible ventures, we want to honour you at The 100 MIYE 2018 Gala Dinner with the publication of our book.


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Asian Steel Magnolia


What Are You Riding?


Lessons From Small Town Startup to Serving Fortune 500 Companies


Empowering The Entrepreneur Inside You


Be Global Invest, Work and Live in Europe


Bouncing Back From Hard Times


6-Pack Social Media Boost 4 Steps and 2 Strategies For Your Business


Become A Great Leader By Practising These 6 Amazing Habits!


Setting A Minimum Sales Target


What Can You Invest In?


Godfather of Furniture Shares Invaluable Tips for Business Success


Understanding Time Value of Money (TVM)

EDITORIAL Editor-in-Chief Dato’ KK Chua kkchua@propertyinsight.com.my

Women Entrepreneurs March Into March It’s official! International Women’s Day will be celebrated on 8 March, commemorating the movement for women’s rights. This Civil awareness day – a day dedicated to women and girls - is annually celebrated as an anti-discrimination day when it pertains to causes concerning the fairer gender. What better day than today to reflect on the achievements women have achieved locally and worldwide. From mothers to sisters and grandmothers, women have indeed trailblazed revolutionary heights of success – be it at home or work – or for that matter, the world. Looking at the string of achievements that women in various fields ranging from sciences to the arts have achieved – what can we say but ---“ You’ve come a long way, baby!” What a far cry indeed from the first observance of a Women’s Day held on February 28, 1909 in New York, the US. History points to how women’s demonstration for bread and peace on March 8, 1917 in Petrograd, Russia gained them suffrage in Soviet Russia – so much so - a national holiday was declared there. It was reportedly a day predominantly celebrated by the socialist movement and communist countries until it was adopted in 1975 by the United Nations (UN). And the rest, as they say, is history. Although some quarters may opine that the majority of women have yet to break through the glass ceiling – just judging at how far women have come thus far – from fighting for the right to vote, to trailblazing revolutionary grounds in the areas they’ve chosen and dedicating their lives to championing real causes – the sky’s really the limit for them! Women Entrepreneurs are no different in choosing to excel in the business industry. Some may agree that nowhere is the battle for equality more prevalent than in the corporate world where women battle it out for equality. Therefore, it is apt that featured on this month’s cover of Entrepreneur Insight is Entrepreneur, developer, TV personality and Celebrity Model Mi-Ki Choong - the granddaughter of Malaysia’s late Lorry King who is dancing to the beat of her own dreams even as she carves out her own career path and life’s goal apart from running the family business. Choong launched ArteSpree – an online art platform that focuses on bringing together the art community last October. In line with her role as the first Global Ambassador for Women Entrepreneurship Day (WED), she is also promoting the WED cause from the UN as a global initiative with the mission to celebrate, support and empower women in business to alleviate poverty in line with Choong’s role to “think global, act local”. She believes in being real in her efforts and doing things to the best of her abilities. She opines:- “If you know who you are and what you want in life, half the battle is won. Never be afraid to fail. If you don’t fail, you will never learn. And, if you don’t try, you will never know.” Read on about the other successful stories in this power-packed issue – of how one can power up from a small startup to servicing Fortune 500 companies and how, in overcoming adversities, one can find opportunity knocking and fulfil one’s calling in life. All these stories and more will give courage and inspiration to other Entrepreneurs starting out on their own. While the road ahead may seem long at times, there’s always the surety of a rainbow at the end of it all. Till the next issue, happy reading. Yvonne Yoong Editor Entrepreneur Insight

Editor Yvonne Yoong yvonneyoong@propertyinsight.com.my

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On The Cover


www.youtube.com/Property Insight Malaysia

Property Insight Malaysia



Mi-Ki Choong

Group Strategist of Centurise Group

Although every reasonable care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, neither the publisher, editors, writers nor employees or agents can be held liable for any errors, inaccuracies and/or omissions. The contents of this publication do not constitute investment advice. It is intended only to inform and illustrate. No reader should act on any information contained in this publication without first seeking appropriate professional advice that takes into account their personal circumstances. We shall not be responsible for any loss or damage, whether directly or indirectly, incidentally or consequently arising from or in connection with the contents of this publication and shall not accept any liability in relation thereto. The views by our contributors expressed here are their personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect Property Insight’s views. The publisher does not endorse any company, organisation, person, investment strategy or technique mentioned in this publication unless expressedly stated otherwise. The publisher does not endorse any advertisements or special advertising features in this publication, nor does the publisher endorse any advertiser(s) or their products/services unless expressedly stated to the contrary. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means, including photocopying and imaging without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Mar 2018 |



Asian Steel Magnolia Mi-Ki Choong continues to shine BY YVONNE YOONG Award-winning Entrepreneur and celebrity Mi-Ki Choong’s life reads like a well-written script. True to life, this inspiring and enterprising personality who not only holds her own in the demanding world of property development is also involved in the area of media, television content creation and has also spearheaded information technology start-ups. Not only that - Choong also occasionally takes on the role of presenter, producer, regional speaker and even models for international brands as a celebrity model. This was the case when she was featured alongside Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Lopez for L’Oréal. In fact, she has made Malaysia proud by being the first Global Ambassador Malaysia for Women Entrepreneurship Day (WED), United Nations (UN) New York - proving that she is on top of her game and can have her cake, icing and eat it – minus the calories. The svelte and slim Choong who is currently the Group Strategist of Centurise Group has also been named the Top 10 Asia’s Top Female Entrepreneur for Malaysia by Top 10 magazine. Besides being a property developer and Technopreneur, she is also a TV personality. Amongst her TV shows includes LifeInStyle which featured Cindy Crawford and Anggun, just to name a few. Choong has also diversified into the timber industry – proving that a woman can achieve anything if she sets her mind to it. In many respects, she’s a Steel Magnolia and an Asian Steel Magnolia at that. In fact, definition.net describes Steel Magnolia as “A woman who exemplifies both traditional feminity as well as an uncommon fortitude.” She is someone who is strong, independent and yet feminine. But Choong is no ordinary lady – being the granddaughter of the late Choong Ah Choy, the “Lorry King” who founded Choong Keow Lorries in the 1920s. Her grandfather is remembered as one of the country’s most renowned pioneers in the lorry transportation industry.

Malaysia Top Female Entrepreneur Award by Top 10 Asia


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Choong says her grandfather has inspired her by leaving a formidable legacy hence she also wishes to excel both in carrying out the family business and also carving her own career path. Smart and savvy, she remains grounded in her endeavours and also has a heart for charity work – making Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) work her priority right now through ArteSpree.

LifeInStyle – Mi-Ki Choong and Anggun She is also involved in teaching and mentoring university students from Enactus Malaysia to apply business concepts to develop community outreach projects and has also been appointed as a Board of Advisor for the Enactus Malaysia Foundation in 2013 whose royal patron is the Raja Muda of Negri Sembilan. Choong also gives her time to charity work which included Snap-A-Star, LifeInStyle charity event in aid of The Star Tsunami Relief Fund and The Star South Asian Quake Fund.

Establishing ArteSpree - An Online Art Platform for Malaysia and The World Mid October 2017, Choong launched ArteSpree - an online art platform from Malaysia that focuses on bringing together the art community. “While its operations focuses mainly in its homeland Malaysia, ArteSpree welcomes the participation of art lovers, artists, galleries and collectors from around the world. Its mantra is to democratise art through building awareness and access to greater audiences, starting from Malaysia and then to the world,” explains Choong. “Art in all forms have a story to tell and ArteSpree hopes to tell it and share it with the world. Art is a form of common language that transcends borders. The same piece of art may bring together a common yet localised perspective of the same matter. Art and culture connects and brings unity among different nations, something that binds people together,” she adds. The second highlight of the launch saw Choong promote the WED cause from United Nations as a global initiative with the mission to celebrate, support and empower women in business to alleviate poverty. This is in line with Choong’s role to “think global, act local”.

LifeInStyle – Mi-Ki Choong and Cindy Crawford According to Choong, ArtSpree has been identified and marked as a CSR project under Centurise Group which she oversees to assist the local art community to be highlighted in WED, UN. “In order to support and empower women, the entire art community must be assisted as a whole. Specifically for several women ambassadors gracing this event, their presence not only highlights the importance of women in leadership positions, but also showcase the successes of women in contributing to the world’s development – be it women in politics, leadership, entrepreneurship or to women in affecting change for the betterment in other women through inspirational role models or for the betterment of the world as a whole,” she opines. Choong has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Art Gallery (NAG) to promote artworks on ArteSpree’s online art platform before, during and after exhibitions. ArteSpree is a platform for artists, galleries and collectors to meet, learn and transact. “This is also part of the monetising culture which is one of the initiatives undertaken by NAG, as we need to look at art as an asset-rich component under the vision of the Government of Malaysia to assist the art industry.” “The collaboration has successfully attracted additional participation and sign up of several local artists on the ArteSpree platform. The launch of ArteSpree at NAG marks the commencement of opeartions of ArteSpree online art platform for the art communities and general public. It is foreseen that many more local and overseas renowned and emerging artists, are to participate and sign up to this platform subsequent to the launch, which ArteSpree welcomes. Unity through art, diversity through inclusion. Participation from all to make a better tomorrow.”

Mar 2018 |



Mi-Ki Choong’s list of credentials, having been awarded and recognised in the following categories:• Global Ambassador for Malaysia for Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (WED) held in United Nations, New York • Malaysia Top Female Entrepreneur award by Top 10 Asia • Women of Excellence Award • Appreciating Leadership Excellence – Passion and Commitment Award • Golden Phoenix Entrepreneur Award • Nokia and Prestige’s Top 40 Under 40 • Malaysia’s Beautiful Women by Procter and Gamble • Her World’s Best Dressed List • Malaysia Tatler’s - The List : The Top People You Need to Know

Golden Phoenix Entrepreneur Award – Award presented by Minister of Tourism & Culture Malaysia, Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz

Women of Excellence Award – Award presented by Federal Territories Minister, Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor


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Malaysia Top Female Entrepreneur Award by Top 10 Asia

The Launch of ArteSpree, a CSR project under Centurise Group to support the arts community

Appreciating Leadership Excellence – Passion & Commitment – Award presented by Minister of Women, Family & Community Development, Datuk Rohani Abdul Karim

Mar 2018 |



Candid Takes

with Mi-Ki Choong How do you intend to impact Malaysia and the world, having undertaken this role?

Congratulations on your role as a Global Ambassador representing Malaysia for Women Entrepreneurship Day (WED) United Nations along the likes of role models like Angelina Jolie and Hillary Clinton. How do you feel about taking on this responsibility and what are your plans moving forward?

I am happy and honoured to take on the role with the hope to create awareness that women can be entrepreneurial and contribute to better gender equality. Each selected Ambassador from each of the 144 countries will undertake the mission to celebrate, support and empower women to alleviate poverty. For me, it’s to “Think global, act local”. So, I created ArteSpree to highlight Malaysia to the world through helping the art community. When I decided to run the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) project on art via ArteSpree, I realised that this will be a possible showcase for women entrepreneurship through helping people to be enterprising, closing the gap for digital commerce in the least expected place, art.


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As per ArteSpree mandate, the idea is about first bridging the digital gap of the art business in Malaysia starting with e-Commerce, Logistics and Payment Gateway. We hope that this will progress fast enough for us to be part of eco system to supplement the digitised trend in art that will take place in different parts of the world and of course after that, we can talk about authentication, cost of ownership, liquidity in demand and art as an investment, etc.

What initiatives have you set in place and which areas will this cover?

ArteSpree is purely CSR and it will most likely stay that way. But as per what I represent, both on personal capacity and as an Ambassador to WED, I think I’d like to give elements of entrepreneurship to its participants. While ArteSpree is CSR, we nonetheless have people, businesses, professionals and enthusiasts embracing us to chat about the commercial opportunities that can be tied to ArteSpree. I do sincerely believe that with commercial partnership and for-profit motivation, ArteSpree, through its commercial partnership will bring better evolution and faster change that will positively impact the art community.

Group photo with the Ambassadors from various countries with Mi-Ki Choong & National Art Gallery Director General Prof. Dato’ Dr. Mohd Najib Ahmad Dawa at ArteSpree launch

How did you rise to the top of the Entrepreneur game?

Well, I never rank myself being a top Entrepreneur. I just pursue my passions in life and do what I love. But I do believe the definition of success is very personal. So if you are asking me about how to ready oneself towards one’s goals to achieve success, my advice is to pursue your passions in life to the fullest. Work hard as there is no shortcuts in life for real success. So, be real in your efforts and do things to your best abilities. When opportunities knocks as in the right time, right place and right people, things will fall into place as per God’s will.

Being an Entrepreneur, developer, TV personality, Celebrity Model and now Global Ambassador for WED UN, which role do you most enjoy or is there a synergy in all these roles combined?

We all wear different hats at different stages of our life and it is natural that we will find the balance in it - one way or another. But to do this better, we need to be real with ourselves. I enjoy all the roles that I have undertaken and am grateful for every

role that has been presented to me as they are all connected and represent different parts of my passions in life and are a representation of different parts of me as a person. So, I will always endeavour to do my best in every role that I am given.

Your mission statement in life and advise to aspiring Entreprenurs?

My mission statement in life - If you know who you are and what you want in life, half the battle is won. Never be afraid to fail. If you don’t fail, you will never learn. And, if you don’t try, you will never know.

What inspires you and who are your role models?

My family inspires me. My late grandfather is my role model for being a successful and humble Entrepreneur. My father encouraged me from young to dream big and do what makes me happy. My mother inspires me to be philanthropic as she does a lot of charity work and helps people very quietly. I am truly grateful to my whole family for being there for me throughout all the challenges in my life. Mar 2018 |



LESSONS LEARNED FROM THE JOURNEY OF A SMALL TOWN STARTUP TO SERVING FORTUNE 500 COMPANIES WITHIN 2 YEARS “Destiny’s role is to twist but it will always be your role to fulfil that twisted part of it” I wasn’t one of them, those whom since a young age, you could tell were destined to be Entrepreneurs. Being of Chinese descent, my parents placed the Chinese characters of Wei Shang - which stands for “Business”in my name which means “A noble Businessman”, the very definition of my Chinese name. A definition which I brushed off throughout my entire phase of being a Generation Y candidate.



Fast forward to June 2015, within that peculiar boardroom filled with thundering echoes from my then boss, it was just another day at work. Being in a firm where high-tech stuff gets churned out on a regular basis, the stress and overtime level is frequently produced at an alarming level which becomes all just too common for the people there.

After quitting, I started my first company called Tinka with a dear friend of mine at McDonald’s, a place where many startup Founders surprisingly concoct their world-changing ideas. The idea was simple, introduce Augmented Reality to Tourist Souvenirs. The execution? Way beyond what two naïve men could comprehend. In other words, what were we actually thinking? Something along the lines of world domination perhaps.

“If all of you continue to be so stupid, when will my dream ever be fulfilled?!” was what my dear boss said that day. Probably a meaningless phrase which gets recycled in my colleague’s ears. However, it was something that greatly changed how I feel and think deep within. It was on that very day that I realised that “Dreams” to me is not something I would take on selfishly, but it’s something that has to be achieved together.

We might have the skills to develop a mobile augmented reality application, but getting it to be accepted by the market is one of the toughest things we had to face. All this happened before the existence of Pokemon GO, where augmented reality became popular due to it. It was an uphill battle to get the public and our users to accept what we were trying to provide. The first introduction of “Augmented Reality Souvenirs” to your potential customers will usually leave many baffled! The obvious strategy when selling products like souvenirs would of course, be handled by approaching major souvenir distributors and retailers within that field. By title, I was Founder and CEO of Tinka, but in reality, I was nothing more than a door -to-door salesman. I realised there and then that leadership is not just the ability to provide ideas and instructions to people, but the willingness to get down and dirty when it matters. That cold approach was honestly unforgiving. However, the lessons I learned from that experience are worth more than what my face has lost.


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THE SHIFT How do we grow and move on from here to achieve bigger accomplishments? With the rate my startup was moving, we will be taken down just as easily as how we started. I then took the plunge and embarked on route that every Founder will usually do in this situation which is the never-ending pilgrimage of investor searching. Was it smooth? Not at all. Days of getting reminded from the initial cold stages of business dealings crept up again. However, by identifying your direction and having the heart to persevere, you will bound to have a breakthrough. Our ever-relentless marketing efforts to our customers finally caught the eye of the most unexpected audience. A product video we produced landed on the eyes of a powerhouse in the marketing industry of Malaysia.

DEALING WITH FORTUNE 500 COMPANIES Marke 360 has been at the forefront of marketing executions in Malaysia within the past few years for tech giants like Microsoft, Intel and Hewlett Packard. Being highly affiliated with major tech corporations would only mean one thing - having a stronger head-start in pushing out new technologies and developments from our side. Our whole team then agreed to move on and join them as partners. What was it like being engaged in huge projects from giants? Highly brutal. I remember the first few months into our endeavour, there were countless nights when we slept in the office and only returned to our apartments to shower at 8am in the morning. Being in the line of business where you work to serve others, it’s all about serving the purpose of your clients. Despite that, being exposed to various industries and adapting to their work processes and protocols opened my eyes to what it means to run companies worth millions. The more knowledge you acquire, the more educated you become for your own company.

AFTERTHOUGHTS The journey till now, still feels like things are just starting. With many more huge projects coming along way, the only direction one must pull their team through would be up. Earning higher than expected profits last year made me target various other aspects of life moving forward, like the art of giving back to the community. Maybe at the end of the day, I would then be able to fulfil the destiny of my own name after all.

Our Augmented Reality Souvenir of A’Famosa Melaka being showcased at a charity event

About The Contributor

Jason Low

is the Founder of Malaysia’s 1st Augmented Reality merchandise and is currently a Partner & Director of an integrated marketing agency that focuses on making brands exciting through on-ground & online strategies. For advice and enquiries, send him an email at jason.low@ marke360.co

Mar 2018 |



BE GLOBAL – INVEST, WORK AND LIVE IN EUROPE Antonio Viñal & Co. Abogados (AVCO Legal) is committed to Educating and assisting Malaysians access Europe through the Golden Visa Programme

Lisbon’s landscape is changing fast with the Golden Visa Programme

As companies and individuals act on their Brexit plans, the main question each and every one of them have to solve is “Where to?” There are notable contenders in dispute aiming for a succulent piece of a Billion Euro pie such as Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Dublin and Paris. That is why the Golden Visa which offers residency and citizenship to non-European Union (EU) nationals is such an advantage.

“Today, AVCO Legal has set a foothold in Malaysia to encourage bilateral interest for local Investors and South-East Asian clients to invest in Spain and Portugal, and vice versa. We have also been assisting clients in Malaysia to obtain a Golden Visa residency programme which has steadily increased over the years since its introduction. The Golden Visa Programme has become one of our core businesses,” adds Viñal.

For the last few years, Antonio Viñal & Co. Abogados (AVCO Legal) - a Spanish law firm with offices in Madrid, Barcelona, Vigo, Lisbon and Milan has been busy sharing and educating Malaysians on the option to live in Europe via the Golden Visa programmes offered by Spain and Portugal. The Golden Visa Programme is a Residency and Citizenship via the Investment market and offers applicants and their families a path to an alternative future with access to the whole of Europe” says Antonio Vinal, Partner of AVCO Legal.

The Golden Visa Programme launched by the Portuguese and Spanish authorities is a fast track programme for foreign Investors from non-EU countries to obtain a fully valid residency permit in Europe. Aimed at attracting foreign investment to both countries, the respective programmes are probably the most appealing in Europe right now. The extremely reduced minimum stay conditions as well as simple and clear legal requirements tell part of the story.

AVCO Legal has been assisting foreign Investors, corporate outfits and individuals for almost 30 years in a variety of situations regarding corporate and real estate deals, construction works, urban refurbishments and investments in the hospitality sector. They have also provided tax advice in connection with these activities and helped non-EU nationals obtain visas, residence permits and citizenship. In 2014, with the opening of its representative office in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, it became the first Spanish law firm present in an ASEAN country. This international law firm is committed to capitalising on its multi-disciplinary expertise to assist Investors from South-East Asia and boost investments in the real estate markets of Spain and Portugal. Viñal wants the firm to be the reference point in Southern Europe for South-East Asians and also, with the help of its fellow law firms throughout ASEAN, to bring more Iberian companies into the dynamic region of ASEAN and vice versa.


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Under the Golden Visa Programme, non-EU citizens simply need to carry out one of the investments set out by the law to qualify in obtaining a residency permit in Spain and Portugal. This residency permit will allow the Investor and his family members to enter, live and work in Spain or Portugal and to travel freely within the vast majority of European countries (Schengen space). The programmes offered by Portugal and Spain may also lead to citizenship in these respective countries with the freedom to live and work anywhere within the EU. “The most attractive and appealing condition for obtaining the Golden Visa which identifies with our South-East Asian clients is via real estate investment into Portugal and Spain. This requires the acquisition of properties for a minimum amount of €500,000 (RM2.4 million), with no liens or encumbrances (lower thresholds apply under certain conditions)”. Our decision to organise this upcoming event and seminar is also to educate potential Investors and introduce them to

developments and the real estate landscape in Portugal and Spain. We believe in providing Malaysian Investors with an accurate legal background on Spain and Portugal, just like we do for Northern European Investors,” adds Viñal.

A GREAT TIME TO INVEST “We encourage investment specifically in Spain and Portugal because now is the moment,” affirms Viñal. “We have seen how, in the past few years, a huge influx of global foreign investment firms, corporations and individuals from all regions of the world have been investing into Spain and Portugal’s real estate. Hence, I think it is also a good moment for Malaysians to consider investments in these countries. The law firm encourages investments into Southern Europe properties partly due to the financial crisis since there’s a huge discount on property prices. Therefore, it is a good time to find opportunities for property purchases at prices that would not have been possible years ago.” “The current appetite for Malaysian Investors has grown over the years to include Thailand, Japanese, Australia and UK properties. I am highly confident that the more they learn about Spain and Portugal, the more they will consider these two countries as their investment destinations in Europe”. “We are seeing prime assets being offered in the market which would not have been available years ago. Prices have dropped by 30%-45% during the crisis. Euribor - the rate of interest at which large European banks lend to each other in Euros - is still negative. In fact, the Euro has depreciated in the past months and banks are lending again at very favourable rates. And finally, the Golden Visa Programme allows qualified Investors to obtain a fast-track visa when purchasing property of at least €500,000 (RM2.4 million), ” Viñal explains further. “When you consider all of these different pieces of information and details, you will end up with a very positive picture. This is why major real estate consultants believe that 2018 will still continue to be a good year for Spain and Portugal, although the prices for real estate have been steadily increasing,” opines Viñal.

lot of value in the market, and Malaysian players should definitely consider coming into Southern Europe. A great example is the joint venture between Malaysian AmCorp Properties and Grosvenor Europe Investments in buying Spanish real estate. “My advice definitely would be for Investors to learn about the market in Southern Europe, and see if it somehow matches their interest. And, if it does, I would say they shouldn’t think too much about it because at the later stage, it might be too late. Prime developments are being purchased by avid buyers before they go on sale. A private launch of the luxury Canalejas project in Madrid, Spain, saw sales of around 50% before the official campaign begun”. Portugal’s Golden Visa Programme has also been a huge success for the country’s real estate market, with more than 90% of applicants choosing to invest in property. In 2016, more than 50% of real estate properties located in the metropolitan area of Portugal’s capital were sold in six months or less, despite property prices rising in the country’s most soughtafter locations. Demand for property in Portugal is rising steadily. In 2016, more than €800 million was brought into Portugal’s real estate market through the Golden Visa Programme, almost double the amount from 2015. In Lisbon and all major metropolitan areas, prices for real estate have risen between 3% to as much as 12.2% in 2016. The increase in prices for the property market is also an indication that it is booming in Portugal, and is one of the property markets that had been previously missed as compared to wider European markets. Despite property prices steadily increasing in Lisbon, some of Portugal’s attractive coastal towns’ properties are still affordable. Although Portugal’s real estate market experienced growth in the last few years, property values remain relatively low despite high demand. Portugal and Spain have now become among the top picks for real estate in Europe, making real estate in Southern Europe a prime opportunity for foreign Investors.

“If you’re looking for bargains and at the same time, are looking to develop the property, hold on to the property for the long run, and obtain good returns on your investment later on. Therefore, now would be the time, to do so,” he advises. Sales in Spain increased by 14.6% in 2017 for a total of 464,423 homes, the highest figure since the crisis in 2008. Portugal also saw record-breaking numbers last year - with 148,518 homes sold, reflecting an increase of 20%. While the global market should be analysed piece-by-piece regionally because not all of it moves at the same pace, Viñal believes that as far as Southern Europe is concerned, there is a

Gran Via, the main shopping district in Madrid is buzzing with tourists and shoppers Mar 2018 |



BOND OF TRUST In addition to the Golden Visa Programme, AVCO Legal also plays its part on behlaf of property Investors by being involved in both pre-legal and legal phases of buying properties in Spain and Portugal. “We try to offer a full package. Firstly, we help our clients select properties of special interest (by location, price, and returns) both on and off-market. Obviously, we are not a real estate agency but we help our clients in identifying the right agents, developers and the right type of property for their own personal interest,” adds Viñal.

Lisbon as well as some other residential projects in some of Portugal’s attractive towns. The upcoming project Calcada Marque is currently being built in the historic centre of Lisbon. It is located in the Santos district and boasts of a wonderful and accessible location with nearby public transportation, rental guarantee and property management. Each of these apartments has been designed with the aim of combining the historic component of the building and the neighbourhood of Santos with the comfort and exclusivity of each of its spaces.

For this upcoming event, AVCO Legal will be partnering ResCom - the specialist in international properties and Verticespecial - Sociedade de Investimentos to showcase their latest development Calcada de Marque.

“We can also assist them, if necessary, to seek the right financing. In the legal phase, we take care - with due diligence and conveyancing and draft or review agreements, arrange the paperwork with the notary and file the public deed with the Land Registry and Tax Office. We also study tax implications at entry and exit points and advise on the best arrangements,” he adds.

Founded in 2013, Verticespecial’s primary activity includes the acquisition of real estate for subsequent monetisation and sale. The developer operates throughout the national territory; mainly in the Lisbon area. Some of their accomplished projects include a hotel, ten residential developments and projects in

“Another important aspect always considered by the firm when dealing with the property Investors is the question of what the clients really want to do with the property. We also assist with introducing long or short term property managers which may also include the option for Airbnb.

“We believe in personal attention because this creates trust,” Viñal emphasises. “Clients feel we’re on their side, and that’s critical when they come from overseas including Malaysian Investors. Some may know very little about Spain and Portugal initially and they really need somebody who will carry them along the way and bridge the gap between Malaysia and Spain or Portugal, thus making the acquisition process a lot easier” he sums.

The upcoming event that will be held at PJ Hilton (Poinsetta 1 & 2) in Petaling Jaya, Selangor will cover specific details about the Golden Visa Programme. Participants would be able to get an overview and further consultation concerning the programme. There will only be two sessions held per day on 10 and 11 March with limited seating available. Attendance is by RSVP only so send an email of your confirmation to project@avco.legal or SMS to 0123087959.

Calcada Marque located in the Santos district, a historic area in Lisbon


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Social media has become so powerful that it can either boost or bust a business! Just like a double-edged sword, leveraging on it well can help a business to reach out to the masses and bring in steady profits in a very short period. The opposite however, may happen too when negative reviews or news are shared on social media. Like it or not, social media’s impact is so significant that we need to embrace and leverage on it so it helps us instead of harming us. According to an online article posted on TheStar.com.my that appeared on January 21, 2016 entitled “Three hours a day on smartphones” - Malaysians spend more than three hours a day on smartphones. And, 40% of that time was spent on social networking and chatting. Based on the report by sme.org.my highlighting Top Active Social Platforms, it is clear that Facebook is the leading social media platform. Businesses should also hop onto Facebook because it is not just the leading social media platform but it also owns the two leading messenger apps - Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger. Apart from Google being listed in fourth place, WeChat appearing in fifth place and Instagram in sixth placing, Facebook tops the list. These applications give businesses the opportunity to reach the masses. However, there can be exceptions for certain businesses. For example, recruitment companies will find LinkedIn more effective as job candidates and employers use LinkedIn for professional work purposes.










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Here is a simple four-step process on how businesses can capitalise on social media:1. Know – First, get your target audience to know you. Do your products, services, solutions, news, your team, advertisements, seasonal greetings, existing customers, etc. appear enough either in words, images or videos to be widely known? When your target audience do not know of your existence, they would be buying from someone like you, in your competitor. 2. Like – Once you are known, are you liked? Most of the time, human beings buy from someone or a business they like. Is your brand, your products and services likable?



Social media’s fundamentals lie in the human psychology. While there are many technological components that are involved, ultimately, technology is just a bridge between human beings. Whether it deals with a business account or an individual account, the reader, receiver, fans, followers or friends are still individuals.


3. Trust – Being liked is great but the decision to buy can only happen when you are trusted. Are your company’s products, services and people trusted by your potential clients, suppliers and partners? 4. Remember – Everyone is busy. If you did not matter much to them, you are probably easily forgotten. Social media is an excellent platform to be remembered simply because Malaysians spend so much time on social media. Since they already need to read or watch something, let you or your business be remembered by appearing regularly. What is an effective social media strategy that you can adopt for your business? Let’s divide the strategies into two types; paid and non-paid. Paid strategies generate quicker results obviously but let’s focus on the non-paid strategies. After all, who doesn’t like FREE strategies right? Here are two, amongst many.

Mar 2018 |



Influencer Strategy Thanks to social media, each individual now can be seen as a media company - sharing various kinds of news and content which can influence his or her circle of people, known as fans, followers or friends – also known as the 3Fs. You can be the TV, radio or the newspaper via social media. Some brands have very prominent influencers. Tan Sri Tony Fernandes will immediately lead us to thinking of AirAsia and vice versa. How about Nike? Few famous sports personalities could come to your mind if you are following the sports scene. Who is or are your business’ influencer(s)? The influencer can be the Founder, an employee or someone not from the company. Your very happy customers are the greatest influencers.

2. Get the influencer to speak at events, write articles, shoot videos and post on social media. Provide relatable and engaging content to the influencer to make it very easy. To maximise engagement, use the #MEMEPO Hack. When content is motivational, educational, moving (touching), entertaining, a public service announcement (for a charitable cause) or an opportunity, the social media engagement rate should be promising. 3. Recognise and appreciate the influencer by featuring or mentioning him or her at events or publications or giving due credit wherever and whenever suitable.

Here are three influencer marketing tactics:-

4. Repeat Steps 1 to 3 and increase the number of influencers and have influencers with stronger follower base.

1. Find someone who is passionate about your product, company or your cause. If you are the business owner then, you should already be an influencer yourself!

The influencer strategy is a very easy to implement strategy as you will be handling individuals. Another strategy is more complex but very powerful when executed well.


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Power Team Strategy An extension to the Influencer Strategy, the power team strategy involves multiple influencers working closely and complementing each other. There is a saying that goes like this:- “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”. The same applies in social media marketing. If you are in the business of selling properties, instead of just talking about properties and promoting your own business, you could have a long list of team members to work closely with based on the property sales cycle. For property sales cycle, the buyer will need the services of a conveyancing lawyer and banker and eventually, after the property is handed over, the buyer needs an interior designer, feng shui master, renovator, CCTV camera supplier, insurance agent, furniture seller and caterer to put together a house warming celebration. The list can grow extremely long!

Once the buyer buys from you, trust has been developed. Now, you are in a position to extend your wealth and share this buyer’s potential business with your circle of trusted suppliers and service providers. This makes you a valuable entity in the community. Sometimes, a property buyer does not start with you but would ask the insurance agent if he knows of any reliable property professionals upon insuring his car. Or, the buyer may ask a feng shui master first whether it is the right time to buy a property. If you have done your due diligence adding business value to those around you, chances are it will return to you! What has this got to do with social media marketing? There are many ways whereby you can include your power team players in your marketing campaign. You can briefly mention them or you can focus on sharing about a topic that will interest your potential clients. The simplest way would be to have a photo of you and them taken together and you promoting them as a person. Another would be to post about “next steps” so your existing clients upon purchasing their properties, know what they need and who they can go to. Do you have a social media marketing strategy in place? If not, it is time to leverage on this double-edged sword to your advantage. Social media is no longer something business owners need for the future but rather - it is needed now.

Marcus Teoh

is the author of “Now or Never – Start a Business with only RM199”, MPH Bookstore’s Top Ten Bestseller for 18 weeks and Best Business Nominee for Year 2017 alongside books by Richard Branson, Jack Ma, Tan Sri Tony Fernandes and Tony Robbins. He teaches on how to use Facebook to market businesses without budget at his workshops. Email him at marcus@marcusteoh.com FB/Instagram: marcusteohmy

Mar 2018 |




SALES TARGET Setting a minimum sales target is always a challenge for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs), especially in the first few years of business. As startups, you might have set “handsome” targets to impress your future Investors, but for the purpose of business management, let’s just look at the realistic picture and plan from there. Gan Teck Hooi, Founder and Managing Consultant of iCFO Solutions offer the following tips:Before venturing into your “big plan”, take a step back and ask yourself this question:- “How much sales do you need?”. You have your respective commitments to meet, be it in business or personal life. The sales you have made minus all the business expenditure must at least be positive (or minimum at zero) so you won’t struggle. In financial term, we called this “break-even sales“. And in this exercise, I would like you to look at the “break-even sales” in a non-conventional way. Let me explain the difference:-


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A. Break-even sales (accounting) – This means the minimum sales you’ll need to achieve so that your company’s Profit & Loss (“P&L”) accounts are not in the red. This can simply be calculated by using the following formulas:-

Company’s fixed expenses (value) / Product’s gross profit margin (%) For example, your company’s fixed expenses include rental, salaries, utilities and so on. So all in, this amounts to about RM120,000 per year while the average product’s gross profit margin is 20%. That means that the “break-even sales” for your company is RM600,000 per year. By setting your sales target below RM600,000, you are putting your company in trouble. It’s as simple as that.

B. “Break-even sales” (cash flow) – This refers to the minimum sales you need to achieve so that your company’s P&L are not in the red while at the same time, taking into consideration your commitment which are not reflected in your P&L. Examples include loan repayment, hire purchase, tax instalments, etc. The formula is as follows:-

[Company’s fixed expenses + cash commitment which are not in P&L (value)] / Product’s gross profit margin (%)

C. “Break-even sales” (personal) – Many startups and young Entrepreneurs are focusing in making sure that the company is profitable by not taking a salary nor charging petty expenses to the book. I’m not promoting the charging of your high salary nor personal expenses to the company. However, for the “break-even sales” exercise, I suggest you include your personal commitments (such as housing loan, car loan, etc.) into the equation.

[Company’s fixed expenses + cash commitment which are not in P&L + Personal commitment (value)] / Product’s gross profit margin (%) From the above example, your company’s fixed expenses as reflected in the P&L is RM120,000 per year while the cash commitment that is not in the P&L totals RM50,000. Add this to your personal commitment of RM30,000 per year, and your “break-even sales” now stands at RM1,000,000 per annum. Imagine if you are using the conventional way of setting a minimum target for sales. You will be happy to hit anything above RM600,000 as the company’s book will show profit. Nevertheless, you will still struggle with cash flow issues since other cash commitments have not been considered. This calculation will ensure you set a minimum sales target to achieve the company’s profitability, and cater for expenses which are not in the P&L accounts as well as surpluses to handle your personal commitment.

Continuing from the above example, supposing your company’s fixed expenses in the P&L is RM120,000 per year, and the cash commitment not reflected in the P&L totals RM50,000, this means that your “break-even sales” is now RM850,000 (RM170,000/20%) per year. Do take note that this is the minimum sales you would need to achieve per year by taking into consideration your cash commitment which is not in the P&L. This doesn’t mean that by achieving the “break-even sales” under this category, you will have no cash flow problems as you would still have to manage your receivables and payables.

Mar 2018 |



Godfather of Furniture Shares Invaluable Tips for Business Success Syddal Wee, former General Manager of Space Furniture – an operation headquarted in Australia and Singapore where he is based and Kuala Lumpur imparts advice on those wishing to make it big in the entrepreneurial world of retail intricacies and challenges BY YVONNE YOONG With over 30 years experience in the premium furniture industry, Syddal is recognised as a veteran and trailblazer in this niche premium sector, which has spawned a growing pool of discerning consumers in Singapore and the region. One of the more recent position he held was as General Manager of Space Asia where he spent over 13 years, first establishing its first foray in Asia (Space first started operations in Sydney in the early 90s). Subsequently, the growth in market share resulted in the set up of the biggest design inspired showroom at Bencoolen Street in Singapore and arguably Asia, dubbed “Space Asia Hub” which has contributed much to the Asian design scene. It was aptly called the Space Asia Hub as it not only attracted affluent home proud consumers from Asia but inspired other Asian furniture dealers to model the showroom concept after Space. This included dealers from ASEAN, Hong Kong, China and India. In recognition of the work in raising the industry bar, Syddal was first nominated by Singapore Tatler Homes as one of the 50 design personalities In the following year in 2016, the magazine identified him as one of the 50 most influential design persons, which is testament to the impact left by Wee during his tenure as Space Asia General Manager. In the following year in 2016, the magazine identified him as one of the 50 most influential design persons, which is testament to the impact left by Wee during his tenure as Space Asia General Manager. Syddal’s first involvement was in the premium furniture industry was in the 1980s when he accepted the challenge to run and grow a small exclusive distributorship of Knoll with potential for growth. This prominent brand, Knoll was then recognised in the western design world as the designer brand with unequalled design pedigree had undeveloped potential for growth in Asia.


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The opportunity to expand the scope of operations came with Knoll’s offer of franchise fabrication initially in Singapore/ Malaysia and subsequently to South East Asia (SEA). The expanded scope resulted in a tenfold increase in sales and with the fabrication of office systems furniture and seating as projects were undertaken in Manila,Bangkok and Hong Kong. The Knoll franchise operations was subsequently sold to a Malaysian conglomerate in the early 90s.

Wee continued with his interest and passion in the industry over the next decade with running a monobrand showroom with B&B furniture and a period where he ran his own furniture company. The offer to run Space Furniture came when the Space owners set their eyes on expanding the operations beyond the domestic market, and his association with Space started in 2001 during a period of uncertainty in economic growth following the shock of the 9/11 incident and the scare of SARS in SEA .The Space operations in Singapore was a bold move with several firsts in the industry. Beyond the fact that it was a then unrealistic floor area of 20,000 SQ ft located in a premium mall, Space had the full time services of a visual merchandiser and as its part of philosophy of showcasing its products in a lifestyle manner, freely offered machine brewed coffee to its clients This bold experiment was initially met with skepticism with losses reflected in the initial two years of operations. Some well-meaning skeptics who ironically were aficionados of design furniture predicted the early demise of Space operations due to the scale of its operations However, these initial two years period of foundation laying started to bear fruits as the sales showed a steady double digit increase and was on to a clear profitable trend by the third year. By the fourth year, the trend of growth and profitability vindicated the decision to commence the Singapore operations and plans were put in place for expanding its operations in KL, Malaysia. The key contributory factors to the unprecedented success of Space in Singapore and its ability to stand above its competitors were the emphasis on several key factors viz: 1. Belief and passion in the products available at Space 2. Focus on enhancing the experience of clients through increased level of service in areas of post sale follow up.

Points 1 and 2 were developed as an adopted culture through frequent training sessions of Space staff to ensure a minimum level of product knowledge and service Together with a proactive marketing program to enhance the position of the ‘Space’ brand, Space continued with its double digit growth through repeat satisfied customers and referrals from existing clients. The formula for success was further enhanced when Poliform was added to Space portfolio of brands in its third year of operations This success was evidenced with Poliform recognition of Space as its biggest dealer in Asia in 2011 having sold a cumulative total of 10,000 sets of Poliform wardrobes and 3,000 Varenna kitchens by the year 2010. This endorsement of the enhanced value of products offered by Space was best reflected in one of the later projects with Poliform and Varenna products where the developer in Singapore was able to achieve improved selling price of its units by up to 30%. Attempts by other organisations to replicate the level of success achieved by Syddal at Space met with tepid success although a similar range of European premium range furniture was offered. The missing ingredient in the lack of success was recognized as the lack of product knowledge afforded through the leadership direction of Syddal. Since his departure from Space in 2014, he has been instrumental in settling the new distributorship of a key premium Italian brand, Molteni in Singapore, and provided his consultancy for projects in Asia with the aim of replicating success in these projects.

3. Reinforce the initial belief of clients that Space offers the best premium furniture products available in the market.

Mar 2018 |



What Are You Riding? You think you’ve placed your bets on the winning horse. But, what happens when the winning horse is no longer what it used to be? Here’s an insight look into what Entrepreneurs may face in their reluctance to dismount on what they perceive as the winning horse.

• Finally, after doing all of the above, we hired a consultant to help diagnose the “dead horse” problem. After a six-month comprehensive study which will include a complete review of every part of the horses body, the consultants will tell us what 90% of the employees already know – that the horse is DEAD!

Entrepreneurs are an interesting breed. They spend a lot of their early entrepreneurial years fighting status quo and building businesses that challenge the norms of society. And then they succeed. And they move along to riding a dead horse. You could possibly be such a person.

Sounds familiar? I am equally guilty of these excuses in the past and it is easy looking back and criticising. Blaming the rider is an easy excuse. Many bosses use this excuse as it implies that the project he initiated is sound but it is the leadership (not his of course!) that failed. We also often see HR backfilling constantly open roles in teams where there is much attrition. Yet, we never address the core attrition issues.

I recently read a wise saying from the Dakota Indians stating:“When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.” It’s an easily understood statement - if a horse is about to die, quickly dismount, let it die and find a new horse. Yet, as I travel and come across businesses in Asia and the world, I am constantly amazed at how many Entrepreneurs seem to be clinging on to archaic practices and traditions that have outlived their usefulness. And, instead of changing the horse in an organisation (for example, outdated processes, policies or culture), we device devious methods to keep the “dead horse alive”. Some of the things we do include the following:• Trying to change the horse riders instead of fixing the core issue • Blaming the equipment and so buying a stronger whip in the hope that the horse will get up and start running again • We start moaning and providing excuses including:- “But, this is the way we’ve always done it. Let’s wait. The horse will somehow start running.” • Appointing a committee to “revive” the horse while evaluating the rider. Nothing was ever done and the dead horse continues to lounge in our workplace. • “lawatan sambil belajar” visits to other companies to see how they manage their dead horses • Blame the riders and implement better training to “upgrade and upskill” the riders who can’t seem to get their jobs done and get the dead horse running again • Hire an expert to teach us how to ride a dead horse. Then, we increase the funding for the “dead horse”, thinking that throwing money, resources, time and effort on the dead horse will somehow get it back to running again. We may even install new state-of-the-art computer programmes which are guaranteed to enhance the dead horse’s performance and productivity


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A number of years ago, a senior leader of a large organisation approached me to help the company “fix” issues with performance. They spent lots of money on consultants with minimal change in behaviour or performance so they kept changing consultants. It was clear to me that the issue was not frameworks or processes but employee resistance issues. It was comforting to keep riding the dead horse and blaming the “lousy” consultants but the core issue could only be addressed once the dead horse was acknowledged. The fact is that when the horse is dead – bury it. But, most of us somehow still believe that if we keep repeating what worked before, miracles will somehow happen and things will change. Albert Einstein repeatedly stated that:- “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” I think dear Albert was on to something there.

Focusing on Past Glories At its peak, the Roman Empire could claim to control 70% of the known world. After centuries of avarice and prosperity, they became weak as they started focusing on past glories, closing the door to external growth which caused a growth of parasites from within including Senators, Caesars, as well as a decline in civic cohesion. The same applies to many companies today which were successful in the past but have not moved forward. Past glories curtail the need to change in order to keep up with the challenges of the future. Michael Hammer, Business Guru and Author suggests:- “One thing that tells me that a company is in trouble is when they tell me how good they were in the past. Same with countries. I am glad you were great in the 14th century, but that was then and this is now. The hallmark of a truly successful organisation is the willingness to abandon what made it successful and start afresh.” Today’s high-performing companies move so fast that product cycles move in months, not years. People are rewarded for deep expertise - not just the ability to follow directives. And with these changes, the entire organisational infrastructure in companies needs to be re-evaluated. Unfortunately, many organisations still cling and cherish the “good old days” instead of reinventing themselves in preparation for the future.

Fear of Change So, why is it that most Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders refuse to dismount the dead horse but continue to practice the same dogma and traditions of the past? The reason is simple - All of us fear change - especially change of the unknown. No one likes change except babies in dirty diapers. And, this fear drives the reluctance of many leaders to maintain the status quo. “Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM.” That cliché has mutated from a sales proposition – representing a strong warning to keep on clinging on to “dead horses” to ensure one’s safety and survival.

About The Contributor

A key change that needs to take place is for business processes to become a continuous process and not merely represent a sporadic one. Annual performance reviews need to move to a constant feedback process. Training has to become experiential. And, product innovation needs to happen daily. Business leaders no longer have the luxury to allow “dead horse” practices to weigh them down. We have focused on reasons to avoid confronting these issues rather than dealing with them and moving on. So, how do we address “dead horse” issues? Here are a few steps Leaders can take to move into the 21st century optimistically:• Identify your organisational “dead horses.” Are they policies, procedures or even a culture that no longer makes sense or has no positive impact to your employees? Is it a technology issue, employee or service concern? Or could it be a product or business model challenge? Focus on identifying these dead horses in your organisation. • Take action to deal with the problem and get rid of the dead horse. • Get a new horse. Look to evolve your business to the 21st century by employing innovative new approaches.

Final Thoughts Nelson Mandela fought for 27 years for a cause he championed. However, when he became President of South Africa, he quit after his first term, even though he could have stayed on. This enabled him to be recognised as a true statesman. Most CEOs or Business Owners find it hard to quit when they should, and it is often because pride gets the better of them. The best Leaders know when to dismount a dead horse. Each of us needs to get serious about identifying stumbling blocks, sacred cows and traditions that hold us back and waste no time in the elimination each of these elements. The sooner we start dismounting dead horses, the faster we can move on with living horses.

Roshan Thiran

is the Founder & Group CEO of Leaderonomics, a social enterprise. He is looking forward to seeing Asian businesses discard dead horses to become world-class innovative companies. Email him at roshan. thiran@gmail.com

Mar 2018 |



Empowering The Entrepreneur Inside You Ever thought of starting your own business? Aspire to be an Entrepreneur but have no idea how to start? Feeling exhausted from long work hours? Wishing for work-life balance? Working hard but don’t get appreciated enough? Will starting your business makes you happier? Have a passion or inspiration for something you enjoy doing or have been wishing to do someday? What price do you put on freedom? Will you sacrifice time for money or money for time? Etc., etc., etc.,

These are some befitting questions of the heart that come to attention from time to time as you seek to balance senses while juggling between your obligation and passion. Well, according to an online article entitled “It’s Healthy To let Your Mind Wander”, which was featured in www.thecut.com and written by Michael C Corballis, there are scientific benefits of mind-wandering. He shared researchers’ findings and wrote that we need to escape from the here and now and consider possible futures. This is the source of creativity, the spark of innovation that leads to an increase in well-being in the longterm. He commented that we should stop feeling guilty about mind-wandering and learn to revel in our escapades. Let’s think about it. I believe this is great food for thought. It is time for us to step up, reflect, dream and explore other possibilities which may improve our quality of life!

One such possibilities is to by becoming an Entrepreneur. Running a business might give you more satisfaction, security on your own terms and joy. Becoming an Entrepreneur is a lifestyle change and, also requires a lot of hard work to succeed. After liberating from the office or corporate job, freedom, independence and owning back all your time are perhaps the just rewards which give you a deep sense of gratification and fulfilment. Before we even consider capabilities as a key ingredient to be able to start a business, which can be a separate topic for discussion, let us contemplate in this issue the inherent traits of an Entrepreneur. In addition to working knowledge, skills and experience, I opine that underpinning successful entrepreneurship demands three virtues of the heart and mind that drive the entrepreneur’s courage, commitment and confidence: Passion, Purpose and Possibilities. Entrepreneurship is a force to be reckoned with, and it is important to define your path with strong believe in your Passion, Purpose and Possibilities.


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Here are attention:

anonymous quotes on Passion which deserve

“People with great passion can make the impossible happen”. “When your passion becomes your purpose, it will one day become your profession”. “Passion is not just about making money and building a career. It is also about discovering your true or authentic self. The one you’ve buried beneath other people’s need”. “Working hard for something we don’t care about is called Stress. Working hard for something we love is called Passion” “Passion is oxygen to the soul” I would also like to quote the famous Oprah Winfrey, “Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes by focusing on what excites you”. This means once you know what ignites and brings you joy, any path you take is the right path. Here is a great quote by Patanjali, the sage who wrote and compiled the Yoga Sutras more than 3,000 years ago, which I came across while reading an article on Dr. Wayne Dyer’s blogsite. I have also heard it over one of his videos on YouTube: “When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds; your mind transcends limitations; your conscious expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a great, new and wonderful world”. As I paused and reflected upon these profound words against the good and bad experiences in my life, I realized that there are causal reasons or divine purposes for things to happen in our lives that enable us to polish our lives to care for ourselves and others. Brave all the challenges and learn from our own and others’ mistakes to become more robust and a human being of the highest character. Dr. Wayne Dyer had also quoted, “When you stay on purpose and refuse to be discouraged by fear, you align with the infinite self, in which all possibilities exist”. This means that when we focus on our purpose courageously, we manifest our inner power or tap the power from within us to achieve our desire.

About The Contributor

According to Dr. Daisaku Ikeda, a Buddhist philosopher, Educator, Author, and Nuclear Disarmament advocate, “our inner power is the highest state of life called Buddhahood, which means opening our lives to their fullest potential to keep advancing along the path of absolute happiness. Courage is the key to reveal our innate power – to be fearless no matter what happens – that is the root of true happiness”. I choose happiness and believe that the purpose of life is to be happy for ourselves and others. Perhaps we could also view our life purpose as a mean to an end – to live happily and to die happily. Death will come to each of us some day. By coming to terms with death, we can establish and pursue a purposeful life. With a strong sense of purpose, we can do our best, overcome anything and achieve our dreams. So, let us write the story of our own life – that purpose, that goal, is our very own. There is no need for comparison. The sweetness of life well lived can only be enjoyed when our lives have a great purpose. As the saying goes, “like the wind traversing vast spaces unhindered, life has the power to uproot and overturn all obstacles and difficulties. Like clear flowing water, it can wash away all the impurities”. I am convinced that life is not about finding oneself but creating oneself meaningfully and contributing to society so that one will enjoy a fulfilling and truly happy life. By doing what we love, we can inspire and awaken the heart of others. So, let’s level up our passion and power up our purpose! The future is filled with infinite possibilities. Eckhart Tolle said, “When you become comfortable with uncertainty, infinite possibilities open up in your life”. It means when nothing is certain, everything is possible. So, believe in all possibilities. Sky’s the limit! It is the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting. “You must find the place inside yourself where nothing is impossible”, quoted Deepak Chopra. Remember, it is never too late to begin anew and never look back. The possibilities are endless once we decide to act. As well said by Walt Disney, “If you can dream it, you can do it”. This is the beginning of anything you desire. Let’s have the courage to take action that will determine our true worth by levelling up on our passion, powering up on our purpose and believing in all possibilities. I shall conclude with two profound quotes by Dr. Maya Angelou - “Success is loving life and daring to live it”, and “Life is better when you are laughing”.

Jennifer Chow

is Founder and Director of Just Jen Connections Sdn Bhd, a marketing and consultancy firm in Kuala Lumpur. She can be reached via her email at jennifer@jenconnects.com

Mar 2018 |



Bouncing Back From Hard Times It’s very easy to lose hope and to give up when life hits you hard. Most people cope with it by taking up drinking or they may become very sarcastic, opinionated and bitter individuals. At the age of 40, I lost it all. I lost my business and put my career in jeopardy. I lost my marriage and, along with it, the custody of my daughter - my only child, my reason for being. I lost my friends who then bombarded me with all sorts of baseless accusations about the choices I had made and told me that I would amount to nothing. And, in that same year, my father - the man who was always there for me, the one who have been providing me with clarity amidst the darkness, was taken away from me to a better place. I could no longer benefit from his guidance, having been a shining beacon to me. I became a very bitter person. I took my rage onto social media. I blamed everyone and everything except myself. I mastered the art of sarcasm and took satisfaction in running people down with my caustic attitude - both online and off. I felt justified. I felt satisfied. Then one evening, I did some self-reflection. I told myself that this isn’t the way to live. And, with the guidance from new love as well as new and old friends who stuck with me, I began my journey of selftransformation. It was then that I found my calling as an Entrepreneur. I became a Master of Ceremonies or Emcee for short, and I treated it as a business just as any other Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) out there. And, I did it full-time as my main source of income. For those who are going through the same journey I was on, here are some tips on how you too, can bounce back and be a self-sustaining and successful entrepreneur: 1. Forgive yourself and others. Tell yourself to let go. Forget about all the dark times. Notch them up as lessons to learn from and move on. 2. Surround yourself with positive people. When you are down, you need to seek out people who will give you strength through encouragement. One of the first things that I did was to join the company of a group of energetic and positive business networking group of people whose aim is to help and encourage people like me to grow. I found my strength in them.


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3. Have a positive mindset. The next thing I did was to make a conscious effort to no longer post negative remarks on social media. It wasn’t easy purging all that resentment but I was resolute. 4. Write a new book. People always equate change with writing a new chapter in their lives. I did not just write a new chapter but wrote a new book altogether. I quit my meagre income paying job and took the plunge by starting my own business by monetising my skill in public speaking. I became a professional Master of Ceremonies. 5. Distance yourself from negative elements. People who badmouth other people or those who incessantly complain about everything, need to be kept at a distance. Some may have a kind heart and well-meaning intentions, but if they start preaching about things that could rile you up, then you need to take a step back and away from these people. You can perhaps remain friends with them but do not be as close to them as compared to the ones who exude positive energy.

I can now hold my head up high as I have proven my detractors wrong by telling them that I can amount to something. I have brought dignity and self-respect back to myself. I am no longer that bitter and caustic man I once was not too long ago. I have made new friends in people who support me and encourage me, people who will pull me back into the right path if I start to veer off. I have rebuilt bridges with my family. And the biggest gift I got out of all of this is that I now have all the time in the world to spend with my daughter, reconnecting with her and making up for lost time. We’re closer now than we can ever hope to be. And, that is a gift that no amount of money in the world can buy. Since that day, I have been engaged as Master of Ceremonies for hundreds of events. I went for a course on protocol management organised by the Department of Ceremonials of the Prime Minister’s Department, enabling me to emcee at events which require a high degree of protocol such as those involving royalties, VVIPs and foreign dignitaries.

6. Believe in the Law of Attraction. Some, if not most, may think this as a cliché but it has worked for me. Just thinking about wanting positive things won’t help though. Some degree of effort needs to be put in as well. I told myself that I want to be a successful Emcee - that I want to rise above it all. In other words, I wanted to be more than the average Emcee. And, I worked for it. And guess what? It happened. After just a year, I was invited to emcee an event in honour of His Royal Highness the Sultan of Selangor. Soon after, I was emceeing international-level events. And not long after, I was offered to host a TV show which then ran for 85 consecutive weeks! I asked for all that, I worked hard for it, and I got it! 7. Finally, and most importantly, return to your faith. Whatever your belief is, return to it. It will help you bring clarity and purpose.

About The Contributor

Throughout my career, I have emceed events for royal families from various states, the Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers and many more. International Conferences and Seminars have also been a staple of where I emcee at such as the World Congress of Accountants 2010, KL Converge! 2014, and the International Co-operatives Alliance Global Conference 2017. My greatest highlight, of course, was being chosen as one of the emcees for the 29th South East Asian Games (SEA Games) Kuala Lumpur 2017. I also provide training in protocol management to corporations, agencies and universities such as the SSM, Open University Malaysia, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, and Petronas. In my spare time, I read the English business news for HyppTV (now known as UnifiTV). That’s right. I am now 44 and I am back on my feet, living my life. You can, too.


is a TV personality, Master of Ceremonies, Protocol Consultant, a voice-over talent and Emcee Skills Trainer/Coach. He runs his own business under the name of Adi Afendi Management, primarily getting engagements for conferences, seminars, corporate dinners, beauty pageants and many more.

Mar 2018 |



Become A Great Leader By Practising

These 6 Amazing Habits!

Do you want to be the best of the best leader of the entrepreneurial world? Practice these 6 amazing habits and you’re on the run to becoming one of the greatest leaders of all times! What is the common characteristics that all great leaders have? For one, they seem to have fascinating aura and a magnetic force surrounding them that can attract followers every place they go. Besides this quality, they also have the drive or ambition to propel their enterprises forward. However, having said that, Roman wasn’t built in a day. Great leaders don’t just wake up and suddenly possess all the skills and expertise at a go. In fact, any good leader should know that in order to be successful, they would need to learn and practice good work ethics and proper planning coupled with invaluable experience to become a great leader. So, are all great leaders are made or born? We’ve compiled six most striking habits of successful leaders for Entrepreneurs to be part of the world of business elites.


| Mar 2018

1. Lead Without Coveting Titles

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Delegate

A good leader should start from the bottom up by working together with employees at the workplace. The key is to have personal professional growth among employees. Fine-tuning your attitude can propel you to become an inspirational leader which will enable you to exude a commanding presence.

As a human being and a leader, you need to realise that you can’t do everything by yourself. The best leaders should delegate tasks accordingly, utilising the most effective habits of business leaders and focus on ways that promote teamwork in the work environment. With this, not only will your business will run smoothly, this delegation will also make others feel involved in the same business as your organisation.

It is important to know your roots so you can be in sync with other individuals under your leadership. If you don’t think of yourself as “the authoritative boss”, you will create an environment that encourages innovation, creativity and initiative at the workplace.

2. Think Differently and Creatively A creative leader can look at ordinary ideas and transform them into extraordinary results. Encourage your team members to come up with innovative and creative inventions. If you are able to provide a continuous stream of inspiration, flexibility and creativity, perhaps in time, you will sit among the giants like Steve Jobs of Apple, Sheryl Sandburg of Facebook or Reed Hastings of Netflix.

3. Share Similar Goals and Ideas To flesh out your innovative idea, you have to be an effective communicator to your team. You need to be clear, concise and honest in trying to achieve the vision and objective of your company among your team members but also at the same time, you need to be a persuasive communicator which constitutes becoming a peerless listener to complaints, questions and feedback without any hint of arrogance. Without the shared vision supported by the team, you will not be able to accomplish your objective. United we stand, divided we fall.

About The Contributor

5. Find Some Time To Relax All this talk of becoming a great leader is invalid if you feel burned out or are not committed to it 100%. Nevertheless, strong leaders make sure they lead a balanced work-life. It’s important to know the right time to take a break or engage in some form of physical activity like sports of exercise. These two things are important to keep your sanity and health on the right track. This also sends a great message to your entire team in which everyone will be able to adapt to the necessary process and create a healthy self-care work balance which will eventually make everyone more productive in the end.

6. Take Accountability and Be Responsible Failure is inevitable in business so when that happens, don’t pinpoint someone as the scapegoat. As the leader of the pack, take responsibility to teach and mentor those around you instead of shifting blame. Your sense of responsibility will foster a productive and positive work environment as well as motivate better dialogue among your team members.

Dato’ KK Chua

is the Strategic Adviser and Managing Director of Armani Media. He is also a registered Real Estate Agent and an investor with more than 10 years experience in the industry. He can be contacted at kkchua@propertyinsight.com.my

Mar 2018 |



What Can You Invest In? As an Entrepreneur or business owner, we know that investing in the business is a good decision because when the business grows, generally our wealth and net worth should grow along with it. However, no business owner should only invest wealth into the business only. Some may choose to utilise their wealth by investing into another venture and others may opt to invest in other investment instruments or asset classes. The objective of making any investment of course, is for us to put our money to work harder in order to have a better chance of protect our purchasing power. As a given, investing is generally perceived as a process whereby one should manage instead of merely chasing after returns blindly. There are steps and measures that Investors should ensure are in place before investing their money. In fact, one of the critical considerations perhaps is the question of where one should invest their money. There are different types of asset classes, namely: 1. Equity / Stocks; 2. Debt / Bond / Fixed Income; 3. Cash & Cash Equivalent; 4. Alternatives. Each asset class will have its own “good time” and “bad time” cycels, and each asset class will have a certain correlation with one another. For instance, usually, when equity moves downwards, fixed income will move the opposite way. So we say, there is a low correlation to equity, hence putting in some allocation of fixed income into your investment portfolio can help lower the risk that inherently comes with the asset class you are investing in. Therefore, when we adopt a proper asset allocation style to investing, we can manage the risk of our portfolio more efficiently, and the question is:- How much money does one need to have an efficiently diversified portfolio? The answer is:A lot. Financial planning and investing is not a privilege reserved only for the rich. Most of the time, I have seen several business owners who have previously made investments into unit trust via their banks or friends walk away worse off from the experience. Bear in mind that most of the time, a very bad investment experience could be due to a flaw in the investment planning process and selection of investment instruments coupled with risky investor behavior; instead of being the fault of the investment vehicle itself.


| Mar 2018

Usually, many people compare the performance of certain unit trust funds to the asset class of equity, but unit trust in itself is not an asset class. Instead, it is an instrument that holds the asset. A person can invest in asset classes such as equity, bonds or even Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) through the unit trust scheme as compared to having to have direct investments in these asset class. If you have been burned before from your previous investment experience, below are some of the indirect or direct benefits of investing into the asset classes above via unit trusts.

Professionally Managed by Full Time Investment Managers Firstly, the fund is professionally managed by a team of Investment Managers supported by Analysts with in-depth insights that amateur Investors may not possess. Take Bursa Malaysia as an example. There are about 930 listed companies*. The investment management team will usually cover around 30 - 50 stocks that fit in with the mandate. Investing in 30 - 50 stocks provide diversification of risk to Investors as opposed to investing in a few stocks that one is familiar with that will have a concentrated risk.

Diversification Means Reduction of Risk Secondly, when I invest in markets directly by myself due to the constraints of time and capital, maybe I will only be able to hold up to 10 stocks at any particular time. If you compare this to a similar Malaysian equity fund that holds 40 stocks in its portfolio, assuming both the fund and my personal portfolio are equally allocated and hold Stock ABC, and the value of stock ABC suddenly becomes zero, my personal portfolio would suffer immediate drop in value by 10% but the fund will only lose one stock out of 40, so the value would have dropped by 2.5%. That is the benefit of diversification, although both portfolios are still relying on the whole economy of the same country. However, the non-systematic risk can be diversified and reduced just by picking a different strategy to invest in belonging to the same asset class.

Do Your Investment and Live Your Lifestyle at the Same Time Thirdly, it is also economically-efficient to invest via a collective investment scheme especially if you believe in the importance and benefit of asset allocation. This is because when one invests in funds, the capital required is simply much less intensive. For example, funds have a minimum initial amount ranging from RM1,000 to RM100,000 as opposed to the situation whereby if I were to invest in the 10 stocks directly by myself raising the question of how much money I would need to have ready before I am qualified to do so. An Entrepreneur who is starting out on the entrepreneurial journey or incubating a startup may not have a huge capital available for wealth creation but can still build a nest egg of equity portfolio that is well-diversified across different geographical areas with a small capital outlay while building on to that portfolio with a minimal monthly investment amount.

Despite the few advantages mentioned above, bear in mind that an equity fund that delivered 15% every year in the last ten years can also have the potential to deliver -15% for the next ten years. Managing risk is also key to whether or not the journey will be a pleasant one. Therefore, asset allocation is critically important for the success or failure of the investment. Research shows that asset allocation is basically the factor that contributes to our portfolio return.

Asset Allocation 94% Stock Allocation


Market Timing


Source: “Determinants of Portfolio Performance II, An update,” Brinson, Hood and Beebower, 1996.

Again, all forms of investment come with risk. Despite that, investments via unit trust can help with the reduction of risks. However, to have a professional Investment Manager team to oversee the money comes at a cost, and there are easily 600 or more unit trust funds in the market. Hence, investors should be wary of the fee charged by different manager as fees will eat away our returns eventually and different managers will have different strategies and philosophies. Furthermore, there are many different channels an Investor can invest when it comes to unit trust. *Source: www.bursamalaysia.com as at 02 January 2015

About The Contributor

Kevin K.M. Neoh

is a Licensed Financial Planner by Securities Commission and Bank Negara Malaysia. He is a member of VKA Wealth Planners, Malaysia’s fast growing home-grown Financial Planning Firm. Kevin can be contacted at KevinNeoh@vka.com.my

Mar 2018 |



Understanding Time Value of Money (TVM) Imagine that you are offered a sum of money and asked to choose whether you want the money now or one year later. Think about this, what could RM10 you could buy 10 years ago and what could it buy you today and what would it be able to buy you in the future? Now would you choose the money now or money later? You can see that it is really not that tough of a question. Anyone and everyone would surely choose to have the money now. Instinctively, you would know that money you have now, i.e. at the present time, is worth more than the same amount in the future. This is a key principle of economics that states as long as money can earn interest, any amount of money is worth more the sooner it is received. This concept illustrates the time value of money, also known as ‘present discounted value’.

The Power of Compound Interest How important is it to begin putting aside money for savings right now, instead of sometime later? Refer to the table of three individuals – Ahmad, Siti and Zainal. Each of them consistently invests annually the same amount of money, i.e. RM3,000, which earns the same interest return of 10% per year. But they start investing at different ages – Ahmad at age 18, Siti at age 22 and Zainal at age 30. When all three of them retire at age 55, Ahmad will have more money than Siti and Zainal. He will have RM467,913, whereas Siti will have RM449,773 and Zainal, RM360,300. Comparatively speaking, Ahmad does not have more money at age 55 and has also invested the least amount of money, i.e. RM15,000 as compared to Siti who invested RM24,000 and Zainal who invested RM75,000. The outcome in the example above is due to the effect of compound interest. It is the additional interest earned on top of the original saving amount plus the interest received. The power of compound interest is that with compound interest, the earlier you start saving, the greater the interest accumulated on your original investment. This simply means the more money you keep aside now- the faster you can fulfil your dreams. When is the best time to start saving? Well NOW of course!


| Mar 2018

Ahmad investing at age 18 at 10% interest return/ year

Siti investing at age 22 at 10% interest return/ year

Zainal investing at age 30 at 10% interest return/ year

Investment amount RM3,000

Investment amount RM3,000

Investment amount RM3,000

How compound interest works – annually and monthly If you put RM10,000 in the bank that draws 5% interest per annum, you will have RM10,500 at the end of the year. If you leave the entire amount in the bank for another year, you will then have RM11,025. In the second year, not only will you get interest on the original investment, you also receive interest on the interest you earned the prior year. This is called compounded interest, i.e. interest applied to interest. Compound interest is important to investors who are able to leave their investment to grow over long periods of time. The RM10,000 investment mentioned above, when invested for 10 years at 5% per annum, will be worth RM16,289! Can you believe that?!

If the interest rate of 5% is compounded on a monthly basis, the monthly interest rate is 0.42% (5% per year divided by 12 months). If the same amount of RM10,000 is invested based on 0.42% per month and invested for 10 years, it will be worth RM16,401, which is RM112 more than if invested at a yearly rate of 5%. Therefore, you will gain more if you invest in an investment that pays interest on a monthly instead of yearly compounded basis. Compound interest can be what we call a double-edged sword. It can work both to your advantage and disadvantage. It can help give you more return on your investment as the benefit of compounding interest means you will earn more interest income the longer you keep your money invested. In contrast, if you have a loan or credit card debt, you can end up paying more interest if these debts are calculated on a compounded interest rate. This is because if you delay your loan or credit card repayment for a longer time, you will be charged more interest, eventually making it increasingly difficult for you to settle your loan or credit card debt

About The Contributor

Dr Desmond Chong Kok Fei

is a Trainer of Agensi Kaunseling & Pengurusan Kredit (AKPK) with over 25 years experience in marketing and management.

Mar 2018 |



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