Legends in the Making

Justification is about the past, answer is for the now, decision is for the future. – Chris Tan

I’ve known Chris Tan, give and take, about a decade. He’s one of the first new friends I made since coming back in December 2005. I knew him then as a real estate lawyer who served an institution called FIABCI. It was not until much later that I knew this “David Bowie” was and is still a lawyer who could hold his tune, co-owns a music recording studio, decorated now with a long list of entrepreneurship praises and a host of other feathers none of us can keep up with.

Freda Liu, if you’ve been in Malaysia in the last few decades watching the news and listening to the radio, you’d notice a very attentive and professional voice. She presents an awe just by saying words like Petronas and Proton and making them sound like Berkshire Hathaway. Yes, that this lady has more than 5,000 interviews under her belt is something you can kneel and worship over.

“I tell my boss that everyday, I should own the station by now,” she joked about her role as a Producer at BFM. “I even met Chris through an interview.”

I’ve had the privilege to interview these two colourful individuals and together they form a formidable corporate duo any PR & Communication hungry company would die to have. But to confine within just PR & Communication is an insult for they bring exceptional wisdom to the table and a different kind of fancy taste to the boardroom, which you can sometimes cross it as strange yet delightful.

(L-R) Freda and Chris.

That’s the feeling I came to at the end of Shake & Spear Your Business – The Romeo & Juliet Way, a book they co-wrote together. Ok, tell us, why Romeo & Juliet?

“We were looking for a perspective together,” said Chris. “We were looking at love and relationship and how it all relates to business and then we thought we need something catchy. So initially we thought, what’s the most commonly known love story throughout the world?

“In the English world, it would be Romeo & Juliet.”

“Yes because even the Chinese educated know Romeo & Juliet,” Freda added although she confessed that it was rather difficult to find an angle at the beginning.

The title of this book is suggestive, but to many a corporate honcho, this may present a softer dimension to a business literature. It’s not your Jim Collins, Malcolm Gladwell, Stephen Covey or Peter Drucker and neither is it your “Who Moved My Cheese?” Maybe it sits somewhere in between, with a bit of personal experience, hidden theories, strategies, mindsets, partnership, future, relationships, legality, humour, to give or to take, to hold or to let go, the danger, the affair, the mistress, the winner, the profit, the life, to fall in love in business – they’re all enveloped together in a very easy to read and light-hearted book. It’s a conversation between Freda and Chris.

Perusing the book you’d find, if you’re like me, Freda to be a true lady – poetic, romantic and emotional. This is where Chris comes in as the perfect sounding board of sorts where his inputs are swift, direct, cold.

Freda would attest to that too, after all she did bow out from a potential business partnership after the very independent advice of Chris, the friend, who just happens to be a lawyer. She found the promptings precise and revealing of the rocky foundation the partnership was built upon, something which she already felt from the start but can’t quite pinpoint.

“I wanted the business to work so much I ignored all logic,” the lady said.

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