Have You Developed A Wealth-Creating Environment?

by Patrick Liew on October 7, 2019

In 2006, my company had moved to a new office. To get to work, I had to pass by a coffee shop.
On many mornings, I would see an ordinary-looking old gentleman sitting at a corner all by himself.
He seemed mostly occupied in thoughts, and his cup of coffee would be left untouched.
As a friendly person especially to the elderly, I would greet him and offer to buy him another drink or breakfast.
We would then engage in small talks, the subjects of which were so menial that I could not even remember them anymore.
I supposed they would be about the latest events, news, or rumours going around town at that moment.
Mr. Tan and I struck up a good friendship and our conversation became one of my best business discussions even though it was an accidental one.
At that point, I had no inkling that it would lead to some of the most lucrative businesses in my entrepreneurial journey.
By being friendly with an elderly gentleman, I struck mother lode.
More than anything else, it taught me many valuable wealth-creation lessons.
The strange thing was that I didn’t even know his full name until now.
He had introduced himself initially to me as Mr. Tan and that was how I addressed him in our conversation.
If you know me, I have a knack for putting a smile on the face of even strangers.
In Mr. Tan’s case, we shared many good laughs together.
I have a feeling that he looked forward to meeting me whenever he was at the coffee shop. If it was true, he didn’t tell me.
It was almost impossible for me to ask him, “Do you like to see me?”
Is this one of what you might call a man’s hang ups?
I was sure he would freak out if I had approached him with such a question.
The last thing I wanted to do was to frighten a senior citizen.
I have digressed.
One morning, Mr. Tan looked at me and he said, “Young man, you are in the business of selling properties, right? I’d like you to help me.”
It felt good to hear someone and in fact anyone calling me “young man.”
I wonder why lesser and lesser people realised about my youth over time.
I replied, “Yes. How can I help you?”
When I asked him that question, I have to confess that it was with a sense of concern and some anxiety.
I was worried that he might be asking me to sell his HDB flat.
At that point, I was not keen to be involved in that market.
I have been focusing on different businesses, large-scale projects and investment deals to generate a higher profit margin.
The thoughts that crossed my mind was how to turn him down gently.
Hopefully, it would not make him feel rejected if refer him to one of my colleagues.
Mr. Tan said, “I’d like you to sell one of my semi-detached houses.”
For a moment, I was stunned.
With due respect to Mr. Tan, he did not look like someone who owned a property that was worth easily more than $2 million.
Mr. Tan must have seen my puzzled look.
He quickly added, “Why? Is one house not good enough? I have a dozen more of them.”
At that moment, I almost wanted to stand up, and give him a standing ovation and a big hug.
If that scene was part of a movie, I could imagine the director playing something like “Eye of the Tiger” at the background.
To cut a long story short, I discovered later that Mr. Tan owned the coffee shop and a couple more.
He was a wise property investor, and he eventually became a developer too – a very astute one I must say.
For some years, Mr. Tan had a good run in the property market.
As a result of my relationship with him, my company and I transacted millions of dollars’ worth of deals with and through him.
In 2011, I met Mr. Tan for dinner not at a coffee shop but at a posh restaurant.
He told me that he would like to take time away from the market.
We had a good chat, reminiscing about the deals that we had made in just a few short years.
At the end of the dinner, like a hero in a movie, he bid me goodbye in a poignant moment.
He turned around and until today I can still remember his ordinary-looking back as he walked out of the door.
That was the last time I saw Mr. Tan.
As I reflect on this phase of my wealth-creation journey, I learned the following valuable lessons.
1. Prospect By Wandering Around.
In the business world, we use the word “prospecting” to describe one of the most important activities to generate a profit.
It is probably a term that was left behind by fortune hunters during the gold rush in California.
They came from all over the world with their spades and pans to dig the ground and sieve through the sand.
They hoped to find either a mother lode or a nugget that was large enough to help them do well in life and to retire rich.
In the same way, entrepreneurs, investors, and salespersons prospect for deals to help them survive and succeed in the marketplace.
Unlike in the past, prospecting should not be an activity that you can just schedule and conduct at different points in your journey.
Prospecting should be a part of your life. It should a vital, integral, and exciting part of your lifestyle.
Years ago, HP coined a term called Managing By Wandering Around (MBWA) to indicate that managers shouldn’t just sit in the office.
They should be close to the ground in order to make effective decisions.
To rephrase the term, you should be Prospecting By Wandering Around (PBWA) to find wealth-creation opportunities.
In other words, you should be on a prospecting mode everywhere you are and all the time.
To use an Internet term, you should prospect 24/7 even if you are in a coffee shop and talking to an ordinary-looking old gentleman.
2. Opportunities Are Right Under Your Nose.
The key to remember is that there are opportunities that
are opened to you globally and at any one point in time.
In fact, there are great opportunities around you right now.
That’s why it’s so important to put on your best self all the time.
It includes dressing, behaving and speaking properly because you’ll never know if the next person you meet is a “Mr. Tan” in your life.
3. Switch On Your Reticular Activating System (RAS).
Just as importantly, switch on your reticular activating system (RAS) for business and investment opportunities.
The RAS is the brain’s command centre for attention.
It works like a gatekeeper that filters information from your five senses.
Then, it processes them together with your thoughts and feelings.
The RAS will then decide whether to increase or decrease your focus on the use of the information.
It will influence your belief in and response to the information.
The RAS can therefore be your cognitive tool for the pursuit, discovery, and development of wealth-creation opportunities.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the saying that you can take away all the money from an effective entrepreneur or investor.
In a short while, he will be able to “smell” his way through a money trail and be rich again.
That’s the RAS at work. And you can develop it and hone it to smell out the “Mr. Tans” in the world.
4. Look After Customer’s Total Needs.
In the new economy, you cannot just look after a client’s business needs.
Endeavour to also meet his overall needs and expectations.
Don’t just show interest in one area of his life.
Show your care and concern for him as a human and a child of our Creator, and stand with him.
One of the strongest and most unfair competitive advantages that you can develop is the ability to track his evolving needs and meet his current as well as future needs.
Do it beyond his expectation and offer him better pound-for-pound values than what your competitors can offer to him.
It will ensure that the “Mr. Tans” in the market will be attracted to you and will want to stick with you for life.
5. Business Starts Now.
After knowing Mr Tan for a while, I realised he was much more than what I knew about him.
For example, he did not just decide to do business with me because of a few nice cups of coffee and some good laughs.
He checked on me. And he checked me out thoroughly.
Thankfully, I had worked hard to build a good reputation among my customers.
They must have somehow passed good words about me to Mr. Tan.
Remember, customer relationship management begins way before you meet your customer.
Before the first contact, your “Mr. Tan” may check you out online and through other sources, especially from people who know you and have worked with you.
As they say, there is no second chance to make a good first impression.
Therefore, if he is not impressed with you, it will be harder to develop a healthy and sustainable relationship.
In a networked village, information are readily available, accessible and affordable.
Be cognizant of the information about you, including trade secrets that can even be exposed and discovered and if I may add, quite unpredictably.
The best way to have a positive personal reputation is to achieve more, do good, and live well.
Also, it’s important to review your branding position on a regular basis, especially from the perspective of how it will affect your ongoing business.
Your personal and corporate branding will influence how the customer will respond to you and form a relationship with you.
Unfortunately, most branding are accidentally developed.
Instead of living up to a plan, it is being developed through impression, assumption and perception in the marketplace.
Therefore, find out what is the real position and image of your brand.
The real position and image are not about your perception but the customer’s perception of your brand.
Perception is reality.
Monitor “chatters” about you that are going on amongst your stakeholders.
“Chatters” include truths, lies, half-truths, and misinformation that are being transmitted during formal and informal communications and through online and offline channels.
Remember, even rumours can move the market and affect relationships.
Find out proactively what your stakeholders, including your shareholders, partners, colleagues, customers and prospects feel and are conversing about you.
If the public image is respectable, you can leverage on it to manage and strengthen your customer relationship and business.
By the same token, if the image is less than desirable, you will have an uphill climb to win customers’ hearts and minds.
6. Provide on-demand and ahead-of-the-curve services
The “Mr. Tans” in the market may not know what they want. They can also be wrong about their real needs.
In a fast-changing landscape, they may not be able to keep track of advancements and progress.
In addition, they may not be aware of better solutions and services.
Entrepreneurial leaders such as the late Steve Job, Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffet and many others offer services that may seem to be ahead of time.
They can’t control time but they manage timing by educating their customers and managing and transforming their needs.
They influenced customers to believe that the right place and time to work with them is “here and now.”
For example, Steve Job was known to sell products that have never existed before and they met needs that the customer is not aware of or not fully aware of.
Think: What are tomorrow’s challenges you need to resolve from today?
What are tomorrow’s opportunities that you can capitalise on from today?
As info-communication systems become more pervasive and ubiquitous, customer’s expectation of response time will increase.
The best way to respond to it is to be proactive in pre-empting needs and resolving them ahead of time.
By applying all the above lessons, you can build a healthy, mutually-beneficial, and sustainable relationship with your stakeholders.
You can achieve a stronger and better financial position.


I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

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