Don’t Give Up

by Patrick Liew on June 18, 2011

I want to share with you about my friend, partner and mentor, Richard Tan.

In 2003, Richard won the Phoenix Award from the Singapore Government. This award was given to entrepreneurs who have failed and overcome great challenges to be successful. He was chosen to be a model in the business world.

Richard grew up in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Singapore. In fact, it was a stone throw away from Desker Road, one of the oldest red light areas.

His father left the wife and comfort of his home in Foochow to seek his fortune in Singapore. As a trishaw rider, he worked very hard so that his wife could join him much later.

It was in such a poor family that Richard was born. He spent his life until he was a young adult living in a room that is hardly bigger than 30 square meters. Their family lived so simply they were sometimes using fruit wrappers rather than toilet papers.

I first met Richard while playing basketball together. We almost came to blow due to some misunderstandings. The Chinese has a saying, if we don’t have conflicts, we will never get to know each other well enough.

Richard and I got involved in a youth organization. Our duties were to start new chapters and activities.

Richard never failed to amaze me. When he saw an opportunity, he would take actions promptly to capitalize on it. Our organization broke all records in terms of growth during one of our school vacations.

When I first came out to work, I wanted to be a salesperson. Richard was my first trainer. He made me realized you cannot be born as an effective salesperson. You need to learn and take actions to be one.

Once, Richard brought me along with him to do cold calls at the first industrial park in Batam Island. By then, Richard was already an entrepreneur. He would ask the customers, “What do you need in your factory?”

They would tell him, for example, “We need ELCBs, the voltage-operated and not the current-operated type.” Richard would enthusiastically reply, “No problem. Just give me your detailed requirements and I will give you the best price and service.”

After the meeting, he would ask me, “What is an ELCB?” And we had a great laugh.

Nothing would stop Richard from meeting customer’s needs and closing a sale.

Richard and I founded Success Resources, arguably the largest seminar organizer in Asia and we are currently expanding our business in Australia and Europe.

The business was not all smooth sailing. In fact, we went through many failures and rejections.

Many of our well-intentioned friends told us our business model could not work and they were right. But we overcame every challenge and pioneered a new framework for running the business.

Richard would find a way around every problem. He would attempt many things that everybody; including me, thought was impossible but he made it happened.

For example, 19 years ago, he told me he would organize the National Achievers Congress (NAC) a personal development seminar for more than 5000 people at the Indoor Stadium. Nobody at that point in time has done it before and nobody has ever done it since then – except for Success Resources.

The NAC has been a ‘sold-out’ for 19 years and is currently spreading its wings in many countries.

Success Resources was able to invite many of the top gurus to train and influence the lives of thousands of people in more than 54 countries. These gurus include Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Robert Kiyosaki, Michael Porter and Anthony Robbins.

One of the saddest moments in my life happened when Richard was struck with colon cancer. I wanted to close down the company to save my friend’s life. I realized if I did that, it would have taken away his life faster.

The reason is because Richard is totally dedicated to the mission of delivering world class expertise to ordinary people at highly affordable prices. In his words, “If I set a goal and don’t work towards turning it into a reality, I will lose my honour as a human.”

At that point in time, Richard was organizing the NAC in Hong Kong and only 250 tickets were sold. He pleaded with his doctor to allow him to continue his chemotherapy treatment in Hong Kong. In between the treatments, he would lead his sales force to knock on every floor of many commercial buildings to promote the event.

In 1995, he stood on the stage – without hair – at the NAC in Hong Kong. He inspired the packed room with his indomitable spirit and fierce determination to make his dreams come true.

Richard took the company to a height that was never achieved by any other company in the same industry. We were especially proud when we took over the running of a public-listed company in Australia.

Richard continued to be a model for many entrepreneurs, including me.

Richard once said, “Don’t quit until you win. You’re not out of the race until you quit. It can be a long corner but it’s just around the corner.”



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