The man that taught me most about life, dignity and self worth was my late partner Dato Hisham Albakri. He was a giant among men. He was the architect for among others, PWTC, Pan Pacific, National library, Bank Bumi HQ etc. He was also the man that taught me how to grow up.
One day I got to his house as he was returning from golf. And he had his golf bags in the boot of his car. I volunteered to help him take his bag into the house. He brushed my hands away and carried his own bag grunting, "this is not your job". I think there was another message there. A man carries his own load.
Early in the partnership, I was preparing a contract and wanted him to give his agreement to the terms. He sent it back to me many times with notes to relook at certain aspects. In my exasperation I finally called him up and pointed out that the contract had been vetted by 3 different lawyers. He said this to me, "Raymond, dont talk to me about lawyers, use your brain".
When I was invited by Star Cruises to form the Consortium, read here, I felt outgunned by the Consortium members, WTW Lehrer was part of a fortune 500 company and they had a strategic adviser flown in from overseas to take part in the negotiations. I was dealing with the CEO's of public listed companies and the CEO's of our largest interior construction companies. There were marine architects from America, Australia, Singapore and Malaysia. Not to mention negotiations with the full board of Keppel and senior management of Sembawang (the ship yards). While I had the full backing of Kumpulan Artikek and use of their resources, Dato never once attended a meeting with me despite all my appeals to him.
But he gave me all the time I needed from him personally, day or night, in his house or in the office. We had many heated arguments. Some notable exchanges.
"Dato, this is my problem....." His reply, "Raymond, dont tell me your problems, if I was to tell you mine, this conversation will never end."
"Dato, I am worried about....." His reply, "Raymond, if you are worried, quit business"
I didnt appreciate his words then and was angry with him for much of the time. But today I know the true value of what he did for me. I have modelled my own coaching philosophy from his example and I hope that it will bring benefit to others.