Monday, January 21, 2008

CL10: Road Less Traveled


This is speech no 10 in the Competent and Leadership manual. The most challenging speech in the manual. Toastmaster Leong Hoe Wah joins the rank of Competent Communicator after this excellent effort.

Actual Speech:

I took the road less traveled and that makes (has made) all the difference - Robert Frost.

The man I am going to talk about took the road less traveled.

It was 1937, when a man, a young man, 19 years of age. Unwilling to succumb to the fate of being a farmer; a common fate of most young men of his generation.

He would set sail for Malaya, then known as a land of gold to push the hands of fate hoping to seek a fortune.

He would travel thousands of kilometers, braving the tumbling waves of the ocean and the unsettling ripples of fear, uncertainty and doubt in his heart as he finds himself heading to a strange land, of unknown culture and unfamiliar language with nothing more than the tiny amount of money in his pocket.

When the boat reached the shore; he set a nervous foot for the first time in the Malayan soil. But this young man unlike millions of other Chinese immigrants before him would one day leave a solid footprint in the Malaysian Book of History as one of its most successful entrepreneur of all time.

He started off working for his relative. And when he had saved enough money, he started his own business selling scrap metal and machineries before venturing into the construction business with little engineering knowledge, but a keen business sense, a readiness seek for advice and learn from others to and a willingness to work hard.

It was during one of his project building hydroelectric dam in Cameron Highlands that he conceived his biggest dream.

Who is this man? And what is the dream?

The man is the late Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong and his dream; Genting Highlands – a place where people can enjoy the cool breeze, the exciting entertainment, and visit their money.

A dream that would take 7 long years to realize.

A dream that would demand that he spent his entire savings, sold all his assets and turn a deaf ear to the “advice” from people he knew. That it was absurd in turning a wilderness into a tourist resort.

A dream that almost cost him his life building the access road delivering water and electricity supplies to the hilltop where the resort was built.

One late evening, the land he was standing under gave way due to the earlier monsoon rain. He would’ve plunged more than 20km down the hill, had he not jumped out of the way fast enough. That day he went back and told his wife that he just went to hell, but was turned back because it’s not time yet, must do OT.

Genting Highlands is more than a resort, as it’s name Genting which means “on top of the clouds”, it is more than just a resort; it is a monument of a man who took the road less traveled; who took his dreams on top of the clouds and make it a reality on earth.

Do you have a dream?

Have you been pursuing them with all your heart and soul like Uncle Lim?

If you haven’t. Why not start now?

Johann Goethe says it best:

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!”

There’s nothing less than magic when a man who bought and transformed a company on the brink of death million of dollars in debt into a living dynamic company more than 15 million in profit in a mere 7 months.

He started out as an accountant, then went on to become the youngest head of Warner Music at 28 and later continued 12 more years in the music industry.

Now here’s a man very successful in his own industry. Doesn’t seem to have to risk anything at all. Yet one day he went home and told his wife about his childhood dream to start an airline business. His wife told him, “Why can’t you think of something...simpler”. He thought for a while and responded, "If i Fail, i fail, i don't want to complain at the age of 60, that i should've done that!"

In 2001, Tony Fernandes bought AirAsia for RM1 and with that got himself under RM40 million in debt and 2 planes as new as the KTM line, with zero experience he had to mortagage his house and throw in all his savings. There were no shortage of people who criticize him passionately, calling him crazy, that it wouldn’t work. After all who could provide a better service than Malaysian Airlines?

He wouldn’t have any of it, with sheer hard work and persistence, he turned the company around and now everybody can fly, even to Manchester at 99. so as long as you check in wayyyyy…ahead of time.

Do you have a childhood dream?

What’s stopping you? What are the obstacles you can see?
Between dream and reality there’s always a bridge built with a material called obstacles, obstacles are stepping stones in disguise, each cleared brings your dreams closer to reality.

To borrow a quote from Neil Armstrong, “A small step in overcoming an obstacle, a giant leap in realizing your dreams.”

Now the question is, are you willing to let your dream soar and let the sky be your limit.

Remember, boldness has genius, power and magic in it!

By, Leong Hoe Wah