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Learnings in 2013

2013 has been an unforgettable year, especially me going through a personal development journey as well as witnessing a number of amazing changes. It’s indeed been a stretchy year after going through a few crazy shit stuff.

With that, here are 11 learning which I picked up this year.

  1. Stay true to your values
    What separate oneself/a business from the others is sometimes the values that you truly believe in and hold onto. And how strong/willing for a business to stick to the beliefs and values of our business is the ultimate drive for the people in the organisation to see that bigger picture to make things happen. Believe me when I say customers can sense them. It’s definitely going to be tougher for us next year when everything goes up in prices. Staying true to our values of maintaining the prices for our customers will be the ultimate core to drive us to innovate on how we can manage our cost to make that happen.
  2. Know your competitive advantage
    Knowing what you are good at would also help you to accelerate your business and compete with competitors. Every business and every people has their own strengths and that’s what we should focus on instead of our weaknesses. Leverage on the strength of others and grow together. That’s how many long term businesses and successful individual has managed to grow successfully.
  3. Respect Customers
    Customers are king, respect them, treat them right. Nuff said.
  4. Watch your Money
    Probably the biggest learning of this year, especially with the upcoming price hike in 2014. Like they say, keeping money is hard, spending is easy. It takes a lot of foresight to manage what’s coming through as it’s really the bloodline of any business.
  5. Have your People Surprise You
    Trusting and allowing your colleagues to have their space to execute their task will really surprise you. Whether it’s a successful execution or not, that’s not the point. It’s to see them grow at the end of the day and put their development as the main focus ahead of yourself. It’s really amazing again to see all the Geeks at the Lab from operational to management to continue to blossom month after month, some slower than the others, but they will get there eventually.
  6. Watch the Intention
    Probably one of the strongest word learn this year – Intention. Watch your intention and really take notice of it. It might look as “this” at the surface level, but it could be that in a deeper level. Deep stuff, I know! If you are trying to lose weight, this is a good practice for you then. Be aware of every action you make, and you will go far.
  7. Have friends from different age group
    I think having this is a great joy to me to mingle around with people from all ages and to learn from each other. My oldest friend is probably uncle Jimmy, founder of Math Magic, great guy. And being around this young geeks at the Lab does make me feel young again. This is a good way to understand customer behavior of different era as well. 🙂
  8. Always learning
    Be open, continue to learn. Fail fast to learn fast. Read books to learn more, not your ordinary Kotler book, but like Sheryl Sandberg, Howard Schultz and many more.
  9. Stretch to see how far you can go
    Yup, go as far as you can, cause you wouldn’t know where’s the limit. You will be surprise what you are capable of. I always say if you can clean the grease trap in restaurant, you can practically do anything in the kitchen.
  10. You will never be ready
    Always wondered when will you be ready for this or for that? Well you will never be ready, trust me. This is linked to No.9, if you are not stretching yourself, then you will never know when you will be ready. First of all is to take the first step, and to be honest, taking that first step is actually easier than most of you think. Hey, as they say YOLO right? So what the F***, go for it anyway.
  11. Miracles do happen

    Lastly, miracles do happen, ONLY if you try. Lots of crazy stunt we had to pull when we open our 2nd outlet at OUG. Only if we move, then we will see things happening.

Days Left to the 2nd Child

Few more days till the 2nd child is born. This time, it seems to be more hectic than the first born. I guess that’s what family planning is for so that parents can space out the age gaps so that they can catch a breather after raising the child to a certain stage before having another one. Imagine how much of college fund has to be forked out in a large sum in a tight span of time.

Thankfully, the great team in the Lab managed to pull through to get this child together. It’s just amazing to see how the source of creation has its effects – from nothing to something beautiful, despite always having the risk behind everything that is done.

Uncertainties are bound to happen, and possibilities are always open. Faith and believe is sometimes what we need to pull things through and the team has certainly done it, and done it really well. From our store geeks and our kitchen prep crew to the higher management, the togetherness that we have here is just amazing and 3 of us are so proud of everyone of them. I guess we can consider ourselves really lucky to see their growth throughout this journey.

Everyday is definitely a learning journey – to grow things to another level, to take responsibilities of what we do, to take more risk in taking actions, to care for each other even further. Someone mentioned the other day that Google and Facebook always have a internal motto on how they call themselves irrelevant to the world everyday and trying to push themselves further for the users of the internet. Taking that consideration for an F&B to move forward will be another level of challenge.

Taking a leap of faith to the unknown does scares many of us at times. And just surrendering to the process and trust that it will take it course by doing our best is really the best we can do. We will definitely encounter a lot of teething issues with the new born, and just like any other parents, the lack of sleep comes with it. I guess it’s the beautiful journey of the unknown that makes it even more exciting and memorable.

With the second child up next week, the family will grow even bigger. I can’t imagine how this year end party would be like. It would be great to see as many of them back for the celebration.

Kudos to the geeks who made and will make it possible for thousands of people to enjoy burgers on a daily basis (except Mondays). Looking forward to see more new faces next week. It’s going to be another unimaginable stretchy long period of commitment, fun, adrenaline (FCC this is for you), joy, fatigue, satisfaction and rigour.

The First 365 of myBurgerLab

Yep, it’s been that soon since myBurgerLab hit the first 365 days mark. It has been an unforgettable eventful year. Seriously, the insane-ness of how things have revolve still caught me jaw drop.

Started with uncertainty, fear, with sometimes fake confidence has now evolve to commitment to create and make a difference to many. The journey of an entrepreneur is really not a joyride and the prices that one has to pay is sometimes a lot. My friend, Aaron Hee, sent me an article once which very much relates to what we called ourselves sometimes as Entrepreneurshit. To be honest, the E word is just a term. It’s your actions in the end that counts. Of course you will feel afraid, fear, uncertain, with all the what-ifs flocking into your head whenever you feel like doing/creating something. But I guess if one does not want to regret of not trying over one’s death bed, then all these adrenaline of fear will turn into “Screw it, Let’s Do It” and see what happens. If you ain’t dead, there’s really nothing much worse in life. Look at Nick Vujicic! We just have to stretch ourselves and break through that resistance to see how far we can go. Cleaning the grease trap was definitely a breakthrough for me and I always believe if I can do that, I can do anything.

I’m thankful for meeting 2 great partners in this course of my journey. Having gone through ups and downs from the times we had at Red Bean Bag to what we have today is just one hell of journey. We still joke about the burnt buns that we did at Red Bean Bag and how we had to work till super late in the first week of opening. Fun memories, tiring ones though. Sure, there’s always bound to conflict at times, and I guess that’s how we get to know each other better and learn to grow. I believe the key for us to really to focus on things which are bigger than ourseleves – customers, staff, community.

I always mention this to my friends, the best joy I have at myBurgerLab (apart from serving customers) is seeing who my staff has become ever since the first day they stepped into our team. Their willingness and drive to learn, build their character, provide good customer service, improve themselves and also the process, create different flavor burgers, create piece of art, contribute to the economy, and to work hard and play hard at the same time. With the average age of 23, these Geeks (that’s what we call ourselves as here at the Lab) will go far in life with these qualities in them.

The next 365 will be a very challenging one. Statistics has shown that 70% of startups never get past their 3rd year and half of the survival will get made through the 5 years. We definitely want to be longer than 5 years to create a community business which thrives on good food and service with awesome staff. Without any working experience of more than 6 months in a single corporation, everyday is a new learning experience for me, especially when it comes to managing people.

My 2 month experience in Piceri (headhunting) has definitely thought me how to search for talents, interview candidates, screen through them, develop them and to really see that jobs creation can really make a difference to a lot of people out there. Then came the 4 months stint at PwC where I learnt about the accounting process and controls to kickstart BurgerLab’s backend. I guess the long hours in the audit line did also prep me to cope through serving in an FnB outlet. @auditors – if you think Audit is bad, try the FnB industry. The next 6 months advertising internship at Wunderman,NYC was a fruitful one. The biggest learning I get from working in Wunderman was really seeing through how companies are actually willing to spend a potload of money for results which they do not have control on and it’s really left to fate which hopes that the Ad campaigns can make it. Since then, I always believed that if that cost is to be put into staff training and product development, it would be very much well spent. And I have to thank Trevor Owens and team for teaching me the Lean Startup Methodology – the biggest takeaway I have really gotten from NYC, which then we applied it into myBurgerLab. It’s definitely a weekend well spent there. And I have to say, the energy in New York is really intense. Coming back here back then feels so much different.

I shall part now by saying thanks to all our customers for the support, our Geeks for the awesome hard work, all the people who mentored me before and made a difference in my life (especially you Milestone folks 😉 ) and my family for supporting me into this.

If you have something in your mind and you have yet to start, my advice would be stop “Mind Mastrubation” and just take action.

Six simple words to ask yourself – “What are you committed in creating” and it will lead the way.

Trust and Honesty

Probably the 2 most important elements in any relationship, be it in business or personal.

I have to say, I have learn really a great deal of these 2 elements. In business, sometimes you just have to trust the other party that what he/she is planning to do is for the good of the business. We sometimes just have to let go as a partner and trust that the other party can do it. It’s part of a management style – autonomy, rather than being a micromanager.

As for honesty, it is very crucial in business. It’s better to be transparent rather than hiding, even if your ideas or thoughts are to be shot down. You just have to admit that you’re wrong if it is bad one. That is what the so called brainstorming is.

If you can’t have trust and honesty in a business, I would highly advise you not to go forward. Until you can accept the presence of these 2 elements, it will be easier for things to move forward, saving you a lot of time….

Are You the Weird One?

99% vs the 1%. That was the stats in the US last year – showing that the top 1% was earning a big chunk of money. Thanks Andy for posting it up last year.

So if you are the 1% out of the 100%, are you the weird one? Does it take you to be weird to be at the top?

Not sure if you agree with it, but is one weird if one have to reject all outings with friends and work on something great be weird. Is one weird when one has to go against the normal thought among the peers? Is one weird when you quit your job (to forego security) to do things that you do not know it will turn out? Is one weird for doing something that is not done by one’s peers?

Sometimes people give you that look when you tell them your thoughts isn’t it? Is weird = being an extraordinary being? Does it really take you to be weird to be successful?

I guess having huge dreams of travelling to Space on Virgin Galactic or taking a 3 months hike in USA is consider a weird funny one. Tell that to people, and they will give you a look. Perhaps they don’t understand the journey on how you plan to get there, but it’s your journey, so work on it. Be weird, be free.

Question is “Are you willing to be the weird one?”

Listen to this every morning before work and you will be great 🙂

Share your thoughts here or tweet me – @weekiatteoh

The Hike That Was

Packed my dinner, grabbed my bag with my hiking boots and headed out for a lonesome hike in 2010. In fact, it was my first time going there and what a way to do this during the first.

Upon reaching the first peak in the evening, I lay my bag down and took a breath of fresh air. Not many people were there on a Friday evening, which brings out the peace of mind. It definitely reminded me of my Yellowstone time and it felt so good to hike again.

Still remember the vivid images of a flock of birds swirling around the first peak. I also helped 3 friends to take a group photo together. Upon sun down, many have in fact asked me to be careful after knowing that I have decided to spend a night alone. An uncle warned me about tigers as well, which probably wasn’t a good advice as it kept me thinking about it the whole night.

As the day darkens, the beautiful lights of the cities nearby lit up and the whole sky was so orange that I couldn’t see stars. In fact, it was really cloudy that night as it was the rainy season. Took some long exposure and light painting shots. Good way to kill time up there.

Decided to tuck into my sleeping bag once I got tired. Few hours into my sleep, sounds of thunder came about. Being that high up alone back then didn’t seem like a good idea, nor was getting up and finding my way down after midnight. Hence, being stationery on the ground was probably the best idea then. It then started with drizzle and then becoming light rain. Opened up my umbrella to cover my face, but my pants and shirt were soaking wet – making it even less comfortable. But on the bright side, I believed the rain helped to deter the ants away from me.

The hours of not moving under the rain and thunder was definitely a once in a lifetime experience. I admit, I cried in fear, as it was tough going through that alone. Reminds me how Kate was stranded in the ocean after Titanic sunk. When the rain stopped, the next problem were mosquitoes. That wasn’t fun at all and my lightcap was running out of solar battery, making me sleepless that night.

At 5 something in the morning, I could hear voices, fearing that it was some animal from the further peak. Fortunately after a bit, moving white lights can be seen to my left. As I keeping myself tucked in the sleeping bag, a group of students from TAR arrived at the peak, giving me some relief. The adventure ended there and then, when I was no longer alone in the dark. It got boring after that, but was definitely relief that I made out alive.

All these are still so vivid in my mind, probably because it felt like a life and death moment on top of Broga Hill.

Will I do it again? Perhaps, depending on……….. But I glad I did it and I believe I wasn’t the only crazy one to do a lonesome overnight hike. Any stories from the readers out there? I would love to hear yours.

The Irony

The irony of life becomes more evident when you transition out from schooling days to college to working life to marriage and then to old age.

8 hours of sleep, who will ever forget this irony advice since you are small. Every child should get 8 hours of sleep a day. Was that used for real health reasons or just to keep the child quiet so adults won’t be bothered by kids? It’s an irony cause if you fast forward it to adult life, successful people will say “men who have dreams will not be able to sleep, while men who do not will not wake up”. If only parents gave that motivation to their kids, imagine what would happen?

Problems? Big problems? Small problems? Ain’t everything we do will always have problems? Whether it is stupid crazy jam in KL or financial problem, they are bound to happen. But funny how isn’t it parents usually say to their kids, “what for are you doing this (eg organising activities)? Wasting time, money and effort.” Such irony to suppress a child’s dream and goals. That is why probably only 1% of population are at the top, cause they never lose sight of their dreams.

If you have small dreams, your problems will bound to be big. If you have big dreams, your problems will become small cause you feel you can overcome all of them easily. It’s a fact, it’s all in the head. So why the discouragement from the parents? Definitely an irony.

What is being taught after college is 175 degree different from the real world working life. What’s more, the school system really needs a revamp. Industrial revolution syllabus does not work anymore peeps! Get up and change or get left behind.

If you have any irony advice by parents which contradicts with the real adulthood world, do share them below 🙂


Man with the 5 Fingers of Death

Had a great lunch with Mr. Ross Chia, a name that many would be familiar with if one is from the Malaysian Telco Industry during 1995 – 2005.

Ross started his career with P&G before moving to Maxis in 1995 when it all began. His people skills had lead him to set 5 big records in Maxis, helping them to churn out profits by the 5th year. His presence in Maxis has changed the perception of many that a person with FMCG experience can definitely handle the Telco world. He used his own 5 marketing strategies (hence the 5 fingers) to penetrate the market, especially during the 1998 crisis, to compete with Celcom back then.

His secret has always been his motivation skills and warmth towards people. When I first known Ross one and a half years ago, he is definitely one of the nicest boss I have ever seen. My colleague, Andrea, nicknamed him the Angels without wings.

During our lunch together, he mentioned his first book was Dale Carnegie’s awesome How to Win Friends and Influence People, which lead him to be such a great leader. That is definitely a good buy, believe me.

I really appreciate what Ross taught me during lunch about Sales and Marketing. Understanding one’s target market is really important and he taught me few things for my new venture, myBurgerLab. Will definitely keep those in mind.

Thanks Ross.


So tomorrow I will be moving, to a new place. So much uncertainty, so much of getting used to. But that’s life, one has to be versatile. Travelling to US, Europe and Aussie has taught me that. It’s a good thing that I picked up moving from young, especially when I tend to go around alone.

Yes I’m reluctant, but sometimes we just have to get out of our comfort zone. Heck, we only live once.

P.S I’m surprise people actually read my blog post and I have 22 shares in my previous post. Thanks guys, if only I know who you are.

A Regret

My biggest regret in 23 years of my life is not to know my grandfather better when he was alive. He passed away in his 90s – such a strong man with no eye sight problem and can do math. That was how awesome he was.

Listening to stories about him during the Chinese New Year break made me wondered even more why I didn’t learn a lot of lessons from him when he was still alive. For a man to  come over to China and started his own business with 10 children in total was something really hard back in the 1900s. His vast experience would have proved invaluable to all of us grandchildren, yet I took it for granted when I was young. Probably that’s why the entrepreneurial spirit runs in the Teoh family because of him.

Knowing that he has helped so many now-successful businessmen 60 years ago, it inspires me even more that his principal of helping people is always his key in life. My dad and uncle said that he had a great life, a balance one where he had success in business and off business as well. I think that is key, especially to live till the age of 90s.

A wise man whom I didn’t get to know well enough…..

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