After my stint as a lawyer and investment banker, I decided to take a step into the entrepreneurial world. After all, my time in investment banking exposed me to how things work in multimillion-dollar companies.
I specialized in mergers, acquisitions, and fundraising for newly listed companies looking to expand their empire. I was in a superstar team that brought huge profits for the bank and was privy to behind-the-scenes action within the top corporations in the country.
Armed with such experience, coupled with my double degree in law and commerce and a stellar academic track record, entrepreneurship should have been in the palms of my hand.
I was never more wrong.
During my time as a lawyer and investment banker, I was advised about the benefit of golf to network and promptly took it up. Golf memberships in established clubs were expensive, but there was a way to play in these clubs without the need to join them. It was a concept called ‘golf time sharing’.
I decided to copy the idea and do it for gyms instead. Then, major gym chains such as Fitness First, California Fitness, and Celebrity Fitness were beginning to open doors in Malaysia. All the smaller players were affected, including established chains such as Clark Hatch and Phillip Wain, which had dominated the fitness market for many years.
I pumped in all the money I had and hired a whole bunch of people I had admin, sales, designers, and several telemarketers. I set up a big office equipped with fast internet, computers, and phone systems for the telemarketers to make calls. I was ready to take on the world!
I designed shiny brochures, flashy websites, uniforms, and even golden badges as a form of identity. We did telemarketing, door-to-door sales, distributed flyers to homes, and set up booths in shopping centres. (This was how it was done back in the days.)
But sales were slow and the burn rate was high. Cash ran out quickly.
The business failed, and for the first time in my life, I was defeated. I did not know it at that time, but I later learned that I experienced something called the Dunning-Kruger effect, a type of cognitive bias in which people believe that they are smarter and more capable than they are. Essentially, they fail to recognise their own incompetence.
I realised that my ego overshadowed my ability to accurately estimate my level of knowledge. I was proud and was not able to see that my reservoir of knowledge was quite shallow. I did not have a realistic assessment of my abilities, especially when it comes to starting and running a business.
Now whenever I set out to do something, I make sure to cultivate mindful leadership by talking to my team and really listening to what they have to say. There’s no point in a meeting where everybody just agrees with me and compliments my ideas. I want to hear others’ opinions about our projects and I make it a point to challenge my own ideas.
Constantly assessing my thoughts and striving to make improvements is one way I ensure that I am always growing. During a meeting today, one of my team members asked me what I am working on. I seem to have the perfect life online and she wanted to know if there’s anything else I want to improve.
And I tell her there’s always something to improve. No matter how perfect someone’s life seems to be. Right now, I am personally striving to attain a higher mental state through meditation. I practice meditation almost every day for an hour, but I feel like I am still not good at it.
As for our projects at Mental Rockstar…well, we are working on something BIG. Can’t wait to wait to tell you all about it soon! For now, I hope you are all proactively learning from your mistakes and not letting your past failures stop you from living your best life.
As we enter the last quarter of the year, things are gonna get tougher and more exciting. Let me know what you’re working on and how you plan to crush your end-of-the-year goals!