GEL Kickoff day

We attended my company’s Kickoff day at Expo. The agenda includes speeches made by our MD and new CEO about our past results in 2008 and future plans and developments in 2009, and also motivational talks by a few speakers. Usually they are the cream of the crop in my company, or international renowned motivation speakers or outstanding sportsmen/businessmen etc.

I seldom blogged about what the speakers talked about because it will be boring if you’re not in my industry, insurance. And probably, renowned speakers like Adam Khoo, Brian Tracy, Tony Gordon would be foreign to you and I doubt what they shared would be of interest to you although it’s of value to me.

However, this time round, one of the speakers is Ivan Lee. He is the CEO of the chain of Thai Express outlets, New York New York outlets, XingWang Hongkong Cafe(cineleisure/PS) and also a Japanese restaurant outlet at Raffles city. He owns a total of 75 “stalls”(he kept referring them as stalls) worldwide. Currently, he’s opening a new branch every 7 days. Impressive huh~ Surprisingly he dont look very old, around mid 30’s I guess. I gathered that what he shared would be more interesting to you because he’s someone whom you can relate to, i.e, the CEO of the chain of restaurants which you always patronize. I love ThaiExpress’s and Xin Wang HK Cafe’s food. However, New York New York is so-so to me on my few visits.

You might wonder how a restaurant owner might relate to my industry. Oh we had alot in common because basically we’re like self-employed, as in running our own businesses. Of course my business cant be compared to him lah, it will be a molehill to a mountain. He is a business owner while Im a self-employed. However, in many aspects, in business models wise(the 4 cashflow quadrants-please refer to the book Cashflow Quadrant: Rich Dad’s Guide to Financial Freedom By Robert T. Kiyosaki), we have many in common. Anyway, I shall cut short on the boring episode of how we can expand our business and thrive but rather touched on what he shared about how the chains of ThaiExpress comes about. It was very funny and I will try to recall what he said, though please dont expect 100% similarity.

“I actually started my first business when I was 12. That was like, when I’m Primary 6. My parents were divorced when I’m very young so I’m seldom at home. Then my dad bought me a game, called Super Nitendo. That made me stayed at home as I always play the games. At that time, few families had that game and soon, all my classmates la, schoolmates la began to swarm into my house and play my game.

BECAUSE, I’m a very nice person, so I always let them play. And eh, as there’s so many people queuing to play my game, I always cant play. Then suddenly I realised, something is very wrong BECAUSE I cant play my game! So I started to have this idea, that is to charge 50ct per hour for the game. At that time, there were shops which also offers Super Nitendo gaming at $1 hourly rates. So I said, “hey common, mine is so much cheaper, like 50% off. And it’s more comfy, in my house, it’s less restrictive than you go to a shop right?” True enough, my classmates still continued to swarm into my house despite having to pay on an hourly basis. I even have this notebook which I jotted down bookings, from what time to what time by who bla bla. Business was good. I was fullyyyyy booked.

But after some time, I realised I did not make a lot of profit. Why? Because when these classmates come ah, they raided my kitchen! All my maggie mee ah, softdrinks ah, fruit juices ah, tibits ah always get gobbled up by them! So I think, cannot cannot…this cant go on. Therefore, I started to charge for the food and drinks too, after setting the rule that they cant bring food and drinks into my house la. *chuckles*. So I charged like $1 for 1 cup noodle la, $0.50 for a drink la etc. I think this idea pretty much knocked into me, that’s why I sell so many maggie mee in XingWang Hongkong Cafe. Haha.

I started making a lot of money, but strangely enough, I did not anyhow spend them away. I either saved them up, or I invested more into my this business, by buying more variety of games lah, more variety of maggie mee flavours la, more drinks lah, a better notebook to jot down bookings etc. Ya so this was my first business at 12years old. “

We were laughing like crazy when he related this tale. If you dont feel it’s funny then it’s perhaps my story-telling skills wasnt great lah. After that he went into Uni and became a full-time insurance agent. If you’re wondering how can he be a full-timer when he’s a uni student, that’s because he said he seldom spend time at school. Haha. Anyway, he said he personally experienced insurance selling and IT IS TOUGH therefore he has respect for all of us in the trade. After some time, his family started to have this idea to open a restaurant. But business was just so-so. To quote him, “it’s like jiak4 buay3 bah4, yao1 buay3 si4″(cant eat full but also wont starve to death). Haha He’s very funny lah. Therefore they wound up the business. But he felt it was a pity that all his knowledge about operating a restaurant go to waste, that’s how he started ThaiExpress. Hmm, that’s all he said actually. I suppose it was a smooth sail all the way till now bah.

“Many people LOVE to ask me this question. The ONE and ONLY golden question. That is, “What motivates you?” Hmmm….frankly speaking, nothing motivates me. And all this talk about motivation, sometimes it works for different people. I know some people spend lots of time and money to go seminars la, attend talks by motivational speakers, BUT then they come back EXACTLY the same person. *guffaws from the crowd* You all dont laugh lor, I bet some of you also come back EXACTLY the same person.”


“I remembered there was this live motivational talk by the renowned Anthony Robbins in London. He was being said to be a very good speaker and able to, you know, change your life or something. So I booked his talk for my brother la, my mother la, and all the lousyyy people I know TO GO so that they will come back as a better person and not always taking money from me. *MUAHAHAHAHA* Per pax is around $50,000 including airfare, seminar charges etc but I thought if this $50,000 is going to change them and make them a better person, so that I have less trouble then it’s very worth it! You know, like once and for all thing. But then, I started to think again, what if I pay for their London ticket and everything but they go PLAY instead of listen to the talk how? So I think, nono, I must go with them.

Ok. So London we went and Singapore we’re back.


They come back EXACTLYYYYYYYYY the SAMEEEEE person as they are previously. *can imagine him rolling his eyes*”


“For me, I dont have anything which motivates me. I only have this philosophy that I follow in life, that is to make the best out of everything, out of anything that I have, to achieve the best for myself. That’s my so-called motivation.”

Interesting right?

Then he mentioned about some people has the kind of inferiority complex when talking to CEO’s or people with few billions worth of networth. He said there’s no need to because he knew many friends of that circle and they’re all like NORMAL, ORDINARY people. They will still jump whenever they lost a parking coupon. Haha.

He mentioned he has a new partner collaborating with him now and this partner has over 1200 stalls worldwide. He’s currently in his 60’s and he took 40 years to open this 1200 stalls. And Ivan Lee told him straight he wont want to take 40 years to reach that number, he wants 10years. And his theory about how to expand business is to get into the social network who will help him. For example, when he’s having only 1 stall, he will try to befriend entrepreneurs who has 10 stalls or 50 stalls. From him, he will learn how to open 10 stalls or 50 stalls. 1 step at a time might also be helpful for those who are afraid to talk, if they feel it’s abit too far-stretch if they talked to 1 who already has 1200 stalls etc.

And while I’m there at Expo, there is also Johnlittle warehouse sale. There were Charles & Keith shoes too. My buys below.

Queen Full Set including Quilt Cover at $65

Black glossy heels at $9

Blue Sequined heels at $19.90


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