Someone Gave Me 3 Timeless Advice

Leading a team managing a business

I have been a part of a non-profit organisation for about 7 years now and I am still learning much about leading, managing teams and organising tasks. Just recently, a new friend from a different chapter walked up to me to ask me about my thoughts on leadership versus management. 

It is not-so-easy to dissect the key differences in my opinion because both leadership and management skills are intertwined most of the time – i.e. they come together at the same time while completing the same tasks. We don’t consciously question whether, “Is this an action of a leader?” while we are focused solving problems or pushing for things to move, do we?

However, to continue the conversation with this new found friend, I offered these Three Timeless Advice I received from a wise man 15 years ago when I was ambitious to climb the MLM ladder in Herbalife. 

ADVICE #1: Nobody Cares How Much You Know, Until They Know How Much You Care (About Them)

Based on my experience building teams during my days with a Nutrition Club, as Executive Vice President of JCI Lead Tropicana and also as management for a few businesses where I had the opportunity to grow a team… I know for sure that the cost of recruiting someone is definitely more expensive than training and retaining. I remember those days when I was actively recruiting, I constantly prayed for great talents with great attitude.

As a salesperson myself, I know that recruiting is a ‘numbers game’. What it means is, the more leads I have, the easier for me to build a Power Rangers team. I got them through the pipeline and then I did not care **** about them. There is no rocket science why the downlines dropped off and why the network marketing business I was trying to build did not take off.

In summary: I did not know how to nurture talent and retain them. 

I literally did not know what they like or dislike; what motivates or irks them, etc. I did not give two-cents sh** about them because I was too busy caring about myself. While I am terrible at caring for other people’s feelings and emotions, I am that sensitive one who feels the smallest mistreatment, too.  

So, my advice is to do the complete opposite of what I had done earlier. Learn from my screw ups. Spend time with your team mates. Understand that nobody is perfect. Assign them roles they enjoy doing. Talk to them. Let them know that you care. Check-in on them from time-to-time. Bring them out for coffee. Drop gentle reminders to let them know that you are on the ball of a particular task, too. At least you know who is on board rowing the boat in the same direction together with you; and who has the intention to drop-off. People come and go, it is normal, c’est la vie.

The team may never reach your expectation of ideal, but well, you learn leadership and management along the way, won’t you? 

ADVICE #2: Quality is Never the Result of Accident, it the Result of Intelligence

Creating quality work requires one to use their skills to complete their tasks with the highest standards. Often, we define our own “highest standards”. As the leader, manager or supervisor to someone with lesser work experience and work skills, we offer feedback to help them improve their quality of work. 

To help your members to work more efficiently, there has to be some form of visibility that allows everyone to see what each other is doing. You, as the leader is responsible and accountable for the quality of work produced by the team. The quality of work reflects your leadership. 

Hence, it is important to train and upskill your team members constantly, consistently. If you want to stretch them to do better, are you equipping them with the right tools and skillsets? Even if you want them to conquer the world and fight for you, you must at least train them to fight and assure them that they won’t die so easily, right? Only a fool will go into a battlefield for you with only a spear wearing a piece of cloth to go against men with machines heavily clad and armoured. 

ADVICE #3: Ten Soldiers Led Wisely Will Beat a Hundred Without a Leader

I remember until today that there will eventually be one thing that will set us all apart from the crowd, and that one thing will be our own personal wisdom. Wisdom is the ability to use knowledge, understanding, experience, common sense and insights to make sound decisions and sensible judgments. Wise leaders are those who have developed certain characteristics learnt from their own personal experience.

They know that nothing is permanent in this world and things will change. They know that organisations and individuals have seasons. They have learnt that there is a right time to act and there are times to wait it out. Wise leaders plan ahead. They are careful planners. They even plan their words – choosing what to say, how to say and when to walk away. 

They know that good things take time to build and one bad decision can destroy everything.

Well, my friend, I don’t have all the answers on what makes a great leader … but I know that it is more important that you grow and evolve to be a great leader at your own capacity, choice and space everyday.    

You do you.

From the desk of,

3 Things CEO’s Must Do

I picked up an unknown number a few days ago, thinking that might be the delivery guy ringing me to receive a parcel. It turned out to be an old acquaintance I met through a business seminar 7 years ago.

In the last few years, both of us went our different ways to build our different dreams. My interest has always been in entrepreneurship and business; while his lies along the lines of forex investing and ways to grow passive income and then to retire within a few years. I think he did that during the lockdown period already!

Why would someone like him with piles of cash sitting somewhere in his portfolio and assets decide to be a “BUSINESSMAN”?

Doesn’t he know that running a business versus forex trading are two worlds apart?

He had never worked in a corporate; nor has ever led a team and certainly did not have any experience handling paperwork or compliance-work as required by certain acts and laws.

He will have one hell of an adventure as the CEO of his own company!
(Why would he not retire happily and spend his time and money to enjoy the little joys in life?)

How would I know that he will have one hell of an adventure?

First and foremost, a CEO must learn how to ‘LEAD’!

The vision and the big picture of the company must come from the Founder himself! In most businesses, the founder is the CEO, and initially, the CEO is the ‘Chief Everything Officer’.

If the CEO does not know how to sell his vision, his plans, his directions…. then, it is tough to sign up people to get on board his ship. Should the CEO want “great talents” to join him, then he must be precise in what he is selling and who he is selling to. (On top of that, choosing great talents is also a skill a leader must learn to develop.)

Communication is a skill where many of us will make this our life-long lesson. We can only communicate to the extent that we have clarity about “the plans” and what we want to communicate about.

It is just as important that we know how to convey messages through text (typed form); or through spoken words (language, tonality, how people get our message when they listen to us) or through unspoken form (i.e. hand gestures when we speak face-to-face, body language, the way we treat someone, etc).

Being CEO is being the “Leader” of the company. People look up to you for directions, for instructions, and most of the time for motivation or inspiration. Some CEO’s lead their team towards greatness; while some CEO’s bury their fears amongst the mistakes of his team.

*REMEMBER THIS: “An army of sheep led by a lion is better than an army of lion led by a sheep.”

Hence, to be the lion is not about being fierce, forceful nor aggressive…. To be the lion is how you can make sheeps believe in their greatness.

Second, a CEO must learn how to ‘FOLLOW UP’!

If you ask me, I think it is both art and science in following up. I call it ‘art’ because there is no fixed way to follow up effectively. What work for some may not work for others. Following up is mainly a combination of communication and relationship. It is in those conversations with another human being that we know a person’s trigger points.

Follow up is also ‘science’ because there are proven methods that when it is done in a certain format, step and procedure, it is effective! One actually knows what is going on with his company!

Requesting for report and grooming his team how to report and when to report is part of following up. Without reporting, one would not know the progress of his team and activities. Sometimes, it is not about having enough activities to generate revenue for the company but stopping by to care for the people doing those activities are just as important.

A great CEO knows what their team is going through and knows how much to push the team to strive for greatness and excellence.

Third, a CEO must be willing to groom and empower!

Be that rare CEO who seeks to empower the next generation of management by honing their unique skillsets, addressing learning gaps and understanding what makes them tick.

Maybe these 3 points are super generic, and one could easily find them on the net, but to implement concepts and to practice leadership is an experience no words can describe.

Life is not straight-line. Therefore, what has worked in the past may not work today. What worked for you may not work for me. What happened in one industry may not have the same outcome in another.

My friend will have one hell of an experience as a businessman because he will grow much when he gets in the game.

All the best to this friend of mine! I am rooting for your success!

From the desk of,
Cynthia Chiam