Lessons From A Durian Seller

by Patrick Liew on August 20, 2019

Lessons From A Durian Seller

On Monday, 29 October 2012, my colleague and I were driving back from a business trip in Malaysia.

We decided to pick up some durians from a stall along the road.

After choosing the durians, I went on to bargain for a better price.

The durian seller, a guy by the name of Ah Sern gave me what I thought was a reasonable offer.

While engaging him in a short conversation, he shared with me his philosophy of doing business.

His words still rang in my ears and continue to move my heart.

Ah Sern told me, “When I accept any payment from my customer, I am mindful that it is his hard-earned money.

“I will do everything I can to give him back good value for his purchase.”

He shared with me that he is a religious man and is active in his faith.

He would not do anything against his conscience and build a negative image for himself.

His next action touched my heart.

He gave me his business card and assured me, “When you reach home and if any of my fruits is not up to your expectation, please call me. I will replace them for you.”

Ah Sern must have seen the surprised look on my face.

His response included some of the most moving words I have ever heard in the business world.

He asked me a rhetorical question, “Do you know why I do it?”

Without waiting for an answer, he continued, “Let me share with you an illustration.

“Let’s suppose my wife asks me to bring home a durian for my young daughter.

“Her intention was to brighten up my child’s day.

“I’m sure you can imagine how happy my child will be. She may even dance in joy.

“However, if I opened the durian and the flesh was hard and tasteless, how would she feel?

“Won’t she feel disappointed and even sad about it?

“I don’t want you or any of my customers to feel the same way.”

My colleague and I looked at each other, our eyes was communicating the same inaudible word, “Wow!”

Later, my colleague asked me, “Will you patronise his stall again?”

Without any hesitation, I replied, “Of course!

“He has won for himself a customer for life.”

How do you treat the people around you?

Do you love people and use things or do you love things and use people?


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

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

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