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Leading Your Team To Success With Richard Tan
I have Mr. Richard Tan on with me. We worked together for nine years. It was one of the best parts of my whole life. I learned so much and he’s still one of my mentors and will always be. Richard won the Singapore Phoenix Award in 2003. The Singapore Phoenix Award is given by the Government of Singapore once a year. The Singapore government gave this award to one person who has done exceptionally well in business despite initial obstacles to encourage the spirit of entrepreneurship in Singapore. He’s also the winner of the Top CEO of the year in 2017 by Influential Brands and Deloitte, which recognizes and profiles a select group of CEOs were exemplary in five areas. This is critical because of brand leadership, brand expansion, financial performance, innovation and personal integrity. If you want your business to rock and roll, this is what Richard has done with his business. It’s about that brand leadership too. Richard, the one thing that you’re brilliant in with a lot of things you’ve done is creating that vision and mission.
It’s the vision of where things are going in your business and getting that out to your team and also rewarding your team when they are on that vision. It’s brilliant the way you’ve done that. He’s the Chairman of the Success Resources Group, the leading education organization in the world. Success Resources organizes 500 events in 30 countries, 70 cities across Asia, Europe, Africa and America. Success Resources promotes world-class speakers like Anthony Robbins, Dr. Michael Porter, President Bill Clinton, Prime Minister Tony Blair, Sir Richard Branson, Robert Kiyosaki, T. Harv Eker, who is a huge mentor of mine and many others. Without any further ado, I want to introduce to everybody, Mr. Richard Tan. Richard, how are you?
I’m fine. Thank you very much. I’m very happy about this.
It’s great to have you on. From The Mentor Studio on the Vertical Live, it’s how we educate ourselves and how we bring great mentors into our life. Richard doesn’t even know the questions yet, but he’s been in this business for so long. You’re going to learn brilliance with every answer. Richard, you were a mentor for me. You were somebody that I could look up to, follow and we’re doing things that I myself would want to do. How important for you has it been to have mentors in your life? Can you name a couple of them and what they’ve done for you?
It’s important to have a mentor. Mentors help you shortcut your journey to success. You may take a couple of years to find the answers after failing a couple of times to learn the lesson. I don’t think you can live long enough to learn all the lessons. It’s good to have a mentor. I can probably give you a whole list of how you find a mentor. A mentor will shortcut and save you a lot of time. It has gone through that same path that you are going through so they can give you advice and share the experience. You don’t have to personally fail to learn the lesson but to shortcut and save you a lot of time.
It’s made a difference in my life and in yours too. What you’ve built in the Success Resources and being the chairman of this amazing company, in many ways, you have brought more mentors around the world to people who would’ve never had mentorship before in their lives. When you started the company, your background was not in being a promoter. How did you start Success Resources and can you tell us a little bit of that story?
I started this by accident. I’m an engineer by training. I worked as an electrical engineer drilling oil. During those times, the oil price was going down. The oil company was keeping their oil well because every barrel of oil that came up from the ground, the oil company loses money. I have a friend that I grew up together with and he give me some suggestions and advice. He told me that you’re going to be fired very soon. True enough, when you work for an American company, during a good time, they’ll treat you well. During the bad times, an American company tends to get rid of you fast. I was being laid off. I don’t know if anyone of you has ever been laid off or not. It’s not a good experience. Many of my friends were upset and many of my friends were angry.
When you work for an oil company, you don’t stop. You work on a holiday, Easter, Christmas, New Year, every day you work. They say, “When a company asks, you work hard for them. They don’t ask when they get rid of us.” For me, I felt a bit more peace because at last somebody forced me to take a break. This good friend of mine knows that I’m out of job. He volunteered me to help in a nonprofit organization without my knowledge. He says, “Richard, you are free so I have volunteered you to have a nonprofit organization.” That nonprofit organization was running a conference. At the end of the conference, somebody came to me and say, “Richard, you are quite an organizer. Why don’t you do it full-time?” I haven’t got a job. I said, “Why not?” I had been doing that by accident full-time from that day until now.
Sometimes we fall into things by accident. In a way, you had a friend that was leading you a little bit. You did weigh in the beginning. You filled rooms like nobody else did. You also brought Tony Robbins, Robert Kiyosaki around the world, which has changed how many lives in the time period. The one thing I always find with you and it’s important is when you learn from a mentor, I find that you’re listening all the time. You’ll sit in a room and you’ll learn from them and then you’re always so willing to also teach and be of service. Can you talk a little bit about being of service in business and how that helps businesses?
I believe in precession. It came from Buckminster Fuller. You can’t find it in the dictionary. Precession is a result of your action that brings some other things. For example, I find that education is a good profession. If you’re involved in a certain industry, you do certain things like precession. When I was volunteering for the nonprofit organization, I’m not the only volunteer. There were also other people that volunteer. I remembered there was a life insurance supervisor. When he was volunteering in that, his purpose was looking for a customer. He hopes that by volunteering, he gets to know a lot of contacts. He could prospect them and then they could sell them some life insurance. His purpose was to find customer, acting as a volunteer. He will have a different set of precession. For me, I was a bit naive. I went there and I put in 100% of my effort with no ulterior motive. I even put in my own money in order to help the nonprofit organization. I pay for a lot of things. I got a different set of precession. I get to know a good person who have become my wife. That’s how I get to know Veronica. Because of my contribution, my purpose or my intention, I follow a new business.
I’m an engineer by training. I found a new business running conferences and seminars. I get to go know so many people. I travel around the world. What your intentions are can bring about a certain set of precession. I know one guy. He was there to look for a girlfriend. He says, “If I can volunteer in a seminar, I get to know some female friends, female participants. Maybe I can get a girlfriend here.” They would give him a separate set of precession. The insurance guy was volunteering in the nonprofit organization or looking for a customer, after several years, he’s still a manager in a life insurance company and he can go anywhere. That is his precession. Some of them have a different set of precession. When you volunteer for service, anything that you do, your intention that the universe will give you a set of precession. I believe that if you support education, if you’re in the education industry, you will have very good precession. I’ve been living my life based on this principle that in everything, there’s a precession. If you choose the right intention, your universe will reward you with good precession.
That was perfect because it is that intention part and with Buckminster Fuller, you’re talking about one of the masters. For the audience, Richard and Success Resources has put on the greatest of the greatest on the stages. Part of your job out there is to learn and educate yourself. I go back to the beginning of being of service, getting a mentor. Having a mentor is critical and being of service is also critical. You did talk about setting that intention and moving in a direction. You used Buckminster Fuller and how that works. Can you expand a little bit more on that, Richard? What happens so many times is we think we’re going to do something. We act that we’re going to do something. Sometimes, we learn through stories and it’s up to you if you want to tell the story. When you talk about that story of filling that room in Hong Kong when you were on chemo is one of the most striking stories to me. Do you mind telling that story?
I have no experience. The only experience I have is being a volunteer. From the experience, I figured it that whether you run a small conference or a big conference, you take the same amount of resources. For example, there are seventeen participants. For seventeen participants and for 170 participants, it takes the same amount of effort and resource to put on this webinar. If you run a conference on 300 people and for 1,000 people, it takes the same amount of resources. At a time, if it takes the same amount of resources and you run a big conference and a small conference, what is your preference? If I asked you, I would do a big conference. A big venue in Singapore is called a Singapore Indoor Stadium. It can host 12,000 people. If the stadium can hold 12,000 people, what should your goal be? It’s 12,000. Those days, you don’t have email. I start knocking and selling on doors. At the end of it, I didn’t get my 12,000 people. I missed the goal by more than half. I only got 5,000 people. I didn’t know that in that time, 1993, having 5,000 people in a stadium for a public event is the largest event in the history of Singapore seminars. The first lesson I learned here is not having experience in a seminar industry is an advantage or not working for someone in the seminar industry is an advantage.
I don’t know what cannot be done. If I worked for someone who would say, “Richard, the biggest seminar in Singapore at that time was only 600 people and you are targeting 12,000 people. Either you are stupid or you are crazy.” I had no prior experience and not talking to anybody, I don’t know what cannot be done. In the street of America, wherever you are, there are people who are more qualified than you, smarter than you. They are always trying to get to know everything to start doing something. I began to grow my business. I’m not a smart person. I think well in Singapore. I make money and I repeat the same thing in Malaysia, in Indonesia, in Hong Kong. I duplicate the whole thing in five countries.
At that time, the business was doing well. In 1996, I have a big problem. During a medical checkup, they found a growth in my intestine. After the biopsy, they found it is cancer. I have a colon cancer. I went for surgery and chemotherapy. I have to be in bed and I have to go for chemotherapy three or four times a week. Every time it takes about 1 to 2 hours. You sit there, do nothing and the chemo drug is put into your vein. After sometimes, my left vein got clogged because the vein collapse. The chemo drugs is pretty toxic. The nurs couldn’t open up the vein and it was moved from the left hand to the right hand. After sometime, the right-hand vein also collapsed.
They opened a hole on my chest and put a plug there permanently. There’s a plug there so they can put chemo drugs there. At that time, I have an event. The speakers are Og Mandino and Brian Tracy. I go to Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong and the Philippines. All these venues were full. They do have a couple of thousand people, so I do not worry. My biggest worry is Hong Kong. I only got 300 people signed up for the program and we booked a stadium that can take 6,000 people in a Hong Kong Coliseum. We are only four weeks to the event. I have a choice to cancel the event or to do it.
Since that time, I’ve never canceled a single event and I don’t want to cancel an event. I told my doctor, “Dr. Lim, I would like to apply for a leave.” He says, “What kind of leave?” “I’ve got to go to Hong Kong and I have to fill the room there.” At that time, the problem we have in Hong Kong is that in 1996, the British is going to return Hong Kong to China. People in China are not particularly interested with any seminar. They are more interested in making money and migrate to Canada or to America or to some other places. Nobody is interested in attending the seminar, but that’s not the main problem. The main problem is that I’ve got five staff in Hong Kong and they are not getting along with each other. They’re from different countries. They speak maybe different backgrounds, different religions. They’re not getting along with each other. Hence, they are not working together. That’s a reason why we need that marketing. We only have 300 people signed up for the program. I told my doctor, I say, “I need to go ahead and do something in Hong Kong.” He says, “Richard, are you crazy? You have a critical illness, you will die.” I say, “I need to go, what can I do?” I’m very persistent. I don’t want to take a leave from him and he says, “If you go, I need you to be treated there. You’ve got to go to the clinic there every day for your chemotherapy.” I said, “Yes, sir.”
When I got there, I started working early in the morning like 7:30 AM because in Hong Kong at that time, people don’t want to see you during office hours. They want to make money. Office hour is the time where they make money. Don’t see me during office hours. I see them before office hours. I go there, my staff got inspired and motivated and say, “Boss is coming to help us.” They were trying to work together. They make an appointment for me at 7:30 AM up to 7:30 PM. Every day, I would go from one office to another office. I’ll do a presentation and I will sell. At the end of four weeks, I was able to get 5,000 people in the room. I don’t do it myself, but because my team are so inspired, they will start working and they get together. A lesson here is your team will only go as far as you are willing to go.
You say, “I want to work eight hours a day.” Don’t expect your team to work nine-hour or ten-hour. If you’re willing to work ten hours a day, don’t expect your team to work ten hours. As a leader, you must go further than your team. Your team will only go as far as you are willing to go. As a boss, as a leader, if you’re not there to sell, don’t expect your team to sell. As a leader, if your goal is to make $1 million turnovers, don’t expect your team to aim for $2 million, $3 million or $5 million. If your goal is $5 million, don’t expect your team to aim for $10 million. If your goal is $10 million, don’t expect your team to aim $50 million. The question for you, ladies and gentlemen, how far are you willing to go so that your team can follow you? If you have a low goal, don’t expect your team to have a high goal. If you have a high goal, don’t expect your team to go a higher goal. Your team will only go as far as you are willing to go. If you’re not willing to go to Timbuktu or to the Arctic or on the top of Mount Everest, if you are not willing to do that, don’t expect your team to do that. I was able to fill up the room because I am willing to go further than anybody else in the team. That’s why we achieved our target.
One thing is you are willing to go further and you never ask your team more than you’re willing to do. You have a team that’s worldwide. Richard, you’ve climbed mountains. What’s the mountain you climbed and you took your team to the top with?
I climbed Kilimanjaro three times. Every year, I do an adventure. I’m swimming in a lake, Samuel Lake in Taiwan, 3.3 kilometers in two hours. A couple of years ago, I swam in the sea. I did a triathlon.
Richard, we talked about pushups and then you did that pushup challenge. How many pushups did you do?
I did 500 pushups in 37 minutes. I did 120 pushups in one go.
The great thing about that is you do have this international team. You inspire the team by doing these challenges and goals and never stop it. You also play well. You also teach them. There are times to take time off and there are times to play, which is important, like family. Your grandkids are very important to you. You have this way of inspiring your team. You learn about mentoring and getting it done. You’ve learned the story of the inspiration of a leader. If you do nothing else and you get nothing else from this, and you have teams internationally. Let’s say you’re on a film shoot, you’re on the theater stage, or you’re a big gentleman in front of 10,000 people, it’s the inspiration. Richard, you don’t inspire, you get something done. You create action around that. It’s huge how you get your teams moving. A lot of the audience will be more from entertainment, but there’ll be people reading also who are heavily into business. Do you have any last thoughts on anything we’ve talked about or something you think they should be left with?
There are one or two thoughts that I will share for your audience. Remember to fight for your dream. If you fight for your dream, your dream will fight for you. Don’t stop when you’re tired, stop when it is done. If you can’t run fast, run slowly. If you can’t run slowly, you walk. If you can’t walk, you crawl but don’t stop. I want to wish you well, health and happiness in your life. Thank you, Michael.
Thank you so much, Richard. This is Michael Silvers with the Vertical Live and The Mentor Studio. I want to thank you so much for reading. You can always go to TheMentorStudio.com. We’re on fourteen different networks. You’re going to learn a lot about Podster coming up too and very excited to have all of you on that network. It’s a little bit star driven for the moment, but it’s for all of us who create business and create dreams and make a difference in people’s lives. I want to thank everybody for being with us. Thank you very much and it’s amazing to have you on the show.
About Richard Tan
Richard Tan is the Singapore Phoenix Award Winner in the year 2003. The Singapore Phoenix Award is given by the Government of Singapore. Once a year, the Singapore government give this award to one person who has done exceptionally well in business despite initial obstacle to encourage the spirit of entrepreneurship in Singapore.
Richard is also the winner of Top CEO of the year 2017, by Influential Brands & Deloitte, which recognises and profiles a select group of CEOs who are exemplary in 5 areas;
Brand Leadership, Brand Expansion, Financial Performance, Innovation and Personal Integrity.
Richard is the Chairman of Success Resources Group, the leading education organization in the world. Every year, Success Resources organizes 500 events in 30 countries, 70 cities across Asia, Europe, Africa and America.
Success Resources promotes world class speakers like Anthony Robbins, Dr Michael Porter, President Bill Clinton, Prime Minister Tony Blair, Donald Trump, Sir Richard Branson, Robert Kiyosaki, T Harv Eker and many others.
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