Living Moments (Part 17)

by Patrick Liew on April 18, 2012

It was a delight to get a call from a long term customer, one whom I have been serving for more than ten years. From being a customer, he has become a friend and our interactions have gone beyond just professional… matters.

We met at the business centre of the Grand Hyatt hotel and spent some time catching up on each other. Finally, he turned to me and said what every entrepreneur would love to hear, “I have some money and I’m looking for a good investment”.

I shared with him what I believed to be the best investment. In fact, I was even prepared to put my wallet where my mouth is by co-investing with him. 

However, as a responsible salesperson, I gave him my usual disclaimers. It went something like, “You don’t have to believe me. Let me work through the details with you. You can get your advisors to run through the numbers and see if it stacked up. We…”.

Before I could complete my usual pitch, he told me, “I don’t need the usual caveat from you. I have to try very hard not to trust you”.

That compliment brightened my day. I felt elated until right now. 

I have decided from the first day I stepped into the marketplace, ‘I will never compromise with my integrity. Integrity is first and last. If customers do not trust me, they will never do business with me’.

I have painstakingly done my very best to live by this principle. And there is a powerful driver for me to do it.

If you have been reading my blog, you would know I was an accidental entrepreneur. My original plan was to be a social worker, to live a simple life so as to help others with complicated issues.

By an usual twist of event, the manager who offered me a social worker job suddenly resigned. It got me thinking at that point in time if I would be walking into a potential minefield.

After due consideration, I turned down the offer and decided to take my friends’ advice to become a salesperson. I was adviced to chalk up real world experience before “trying to change the world”.

On the other hand, there were other some well-intentioned friends who discouraged me. They told me that I would have to lie and cheat as a salesperson.That really freaked me out.

I did everything I could to prevent myself from doing anything that was wrong. I would even script my presentation, literally word by word because I did not want to ignorantly or unintentionally say something wrong. I would constantly check my soul to make sure it was still intact.

I went on to put in place other systems and procedures to ensure that not only myself but also my team would say on the straight and narrow. Let me give you an example.

At the trough of the Asian Crisis, real estate salespersons resorted to all kinds of underhanded means to close a sale. In fact, there were many who believed that more than 70% of deals, especially in the HDB sector were transacted in an unlawful way.

I am proud that I never had to do any of such deal. In fact, I put in black and white that our company would never be involved in any business that was illegal, unethical or dishonourable. I told my people many a time, “I will personally drive you to the police station if I ever catch you breaking the law”.

You may not realize the gravity of my decision. I was literally walking away from a large segment of the market, with no clue as to whether I could win any part of the remaining segment, let alone survive on it. Obviously, my company and I suffered for it.

Have I ever regretted living by the principle of integrity? Not for a single moment. If I have to sell my soul to earn money, not only my business is not worth running, life is not worth living too.

At the end of the day, I have realized that integrity might not benefit me in the short term. In the long term, it will be a critical part of the foundation for success. It will help me earn loyalty, trust, respect and affection from my customers.

Today’s experience with my long term customer proved once again I am on track. I hope to stay on this straight and narrow track till I see my Creator.

Life should be seen from the perspective of eternity.

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

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

Visit my Inspiration blog at

Visit my Transformation blog at

Please read them and continue to teach me.

Life is FUNtastic!


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