Money-Making Lessons From Entertaining An Angel Unaware

In 2006, my company had moved to a new office. To get to work, I had to pass by a coffee shop.

On many mornings, I would see an ordinary-looking old gentleman sitting at a corner all by himself. He seemed mostly occupied in thoughts and his cup of coffee would be left untouched.

As a friendly person especially to the elderly, I would greet him and offer to buy him another drink or breakfast. We would then engage in small talks, the subjects of which were so menial that I could not even remember them anymore.

I supposed they would be about the latest events, news, or rumours going around town at that moment.

Mr Tan and I struck up a good friendship and our conversation became one of my best prospecting calls even though it was an accidental one. At that point, I had no inkling that it would lead to some of the most lucrative businesses in my entrepreneurial journey.

By being friendly with an elderly gentleman, I struck mother lode. More than anything else, it taught me valuable lessons on how to run a better business.

The strange thing was that I didn’t
even know his full name until now. He had introduced himself initially to me as Mr Tan and that was how I addressed him in our conversation.

If you know me, I have a knack for putting a smile on the face of even strangers. In Mr Tan’s case, we shared many good laughs together.

I have a feeling that he looked forward to meeting me whenever he was at the coffee shop. If it was true, he didn’t tell me.

It was almost impossible for me to ask him, “Do you like to see me?”

Is this one of what you might call a man’s hang ups?

I was sure he would freak out if I had approached him with such a question. The last thing I wanted to do was to frighten a senior citizen.

I have digressed.

One morning, Mr Tan looked at me and he said, “Young man, you are in the business of selling properties, right?

“I like you to help me.”

It felt good to hear someone and in fact anyone calling me “young man.” I wonder why lesser and lesser people realised about my youth over time.

I replied, “Yes. How can I help you?”

When I asked him that question, I have to confess that it was with a sense of concern and some anxiety. I was worried that he might be asking me to sell his HDB flat.

At that point, I was not keen to be involved in that market. I have been focusing on large-scale projects and investment deals to generate a higher profit margin.

The thoughts that crossed my mind was how to turn him down gently. I had hoped it would not make him feel rejected should I have to refer him to one of my colleagues.

Mr Tan said, “I like you to sell one of my semi-detached houses.”

For a moment, I was stunned.

With due respect to Mr Tan, he did not look like someone who owned a property that was easily worth more than $2 million.

Mr Tan must have seen my puzzled look. He quickly added, “Why? Is one house not good enough?

“I have a dozen more of them.”

At that moment, I almost wanted to stand up, and give him a standing ovation and a hug. If that scene was part of a movie, I could imagine the director playing something like “Eye Of The Tiger” at the background.

To cut a long story short, I discovered later that Mr Tan owned the coffee shop and a couple more. He was a wise property investor and eventually became a developer too, a very astute one I must say.

For some years, Mr Tan had a good run in the property market. As a result of my relationship with him, my company and I transacted millions of dollars worth of deals with and through him.

In 2011, I met Mr Tan for dinner not at a coffee shop but at at a posh restaurant. He told me that he would like to take time away from the market.

We had a good chat, reminiscing about the deals that we have made in just a few short years.

At the end of the dinner, like a hero in a movie, he bided me good bye in a poignant moment. He turned around and until today I can still remember his ordinary-looking back as he walked out of the door.

That was the last time I saw Mr Tan.

As I reflect on this phase of my journey, I learned valuable lessons to be a better entrepreneur.

1. Prospecting By Wandering Around

In the business world, we use the word “prospecting” to describe one of the most important activities to generate a profit.

It is probably a term that was left behind by fortune hunters during the gold rush in California. They came from all over the world with their spades and pans to dig the ground and sieve through the sand.

They hoped to find either a mother load or a nugget that was large enough to help them do well in life and retire rich.

In the same way, entrepreneurs, investors, and salespersons prospect for deals to help them survive and succeed in the marketplace.

Unlike in the past, prospecting should not be an activity that you can just schedule and conduct at different points in your journey.

Prospecting should be a part of your life. It should a vital, integral, and exciting part of your lifestyle.

Years ago, HP coined a term called Managing By Wandering Around (MBWA) to indicate that managers shouldn’t just sit in the office. They should be close to the ground in order to make effective decisions.

To rephrase the term, you should be Prospecting By Wandering Around (PBWA).

In other words, you should be on a prospecting mode everywhere you are and all the time. To use an Internet term, you should prospect 24/7 even if you are in a coffee shop and talking to an ordinary-looking old gentleman.

2. Opportunities Right Under Your Nose

The key to remember is that there are opportunities that are open to you globally and at any one point in time. In fact, there are great opportunities around you right now.

That’s why it’s so important to put on your best self all the time. It includes dressing, behaving and speaking properly because you’ll never know if the next person you meet is a “Mr Tan” in your life.

3. Switch On Your Reticular Activating System (RAS)

Just as importantly, you need to switch on your reticular activating system (RAS) for business and investment opportunities.

The RAS is the brain’s command centre for attention. It works like a gatekeeper that filters information from your five senses. Then, it processes them together with your thoughts and feelings.

The RAS will then decide whether to increase or decrease your focus on and motivation about the information. It will influence your belief in and response towards it.

The RAS can therefore be your cognitive tool for the pursuit, discovery, and development of wealth-creation opportunities.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the saying that you can take away all the money away from an effective entrepreneur or investor. In a short while, he/she will be able to “smell” their way through a money trail and be rich again.

That’s the RAS at work. And you can develop it and hone it to smell out the “Mr Tan”s of the world.

4. Look After Customer’s Total Needs

In the new economy,you cannot just look after “Mr Tan”‘s  business needs. You should also endeavour to meet his overall needs and expectation.

Don’t just show interest in one area of his life. Show your care and concern for him as a human, a child of our Creator and be there for him.

One of the strongest and most unfair competitive advantages that you can develop is the ability to track “Mr Tan”‘s evolving needs and meet his current as well as future needs.

What’s more, you should do it beyond his expectation and far better pound-for-pound than what your competitors can offer to him.

It will ensure that the “Mr Tan”s of the market will be attracted to you and will want to stick with you for life.

5. Business Starts Now

After knowing Mr Tan for awhile, I realised he was much more than what I knew about him. For example, he did not just decide to do business with me because of a few nice cups of coffee and some good laughs.

He checked on me. And he checked me out thoroughly.

Thankfully, I had worked hard to build a good reputation among my customers. They must have somehow passed good words about me through the grapevine to Mr Tan’s ears.

Remember, customer relationship management begins way before you meet your customer.

Before the first contact, your “Mr Tan” may check you out online and through other sources, especially from people who know you and have worked with you.

As they say, there is no second chance to make a good first  impression.

Therefore, if he is not impressed with you, it will be harder to develop a healthy and sustainable relationship.

In a networked village, information are readily available, accessible and affordable.

Be cognizant that information about you, including even trade secrets can be exposed and discovered and if I may add, quite unpredictably.

The best way to have a positive personal reputation is to do good and live well.

Also, it’s important to review your branding position on a regular basis, especially from the perspective of how it will affect your ongoing business.

Your personal and corporate branding will influence how the customer will respond to you and form a relationship with you.

Most branding are accidentally developed. Instead of living up to a plan, it is being developed through impression, assumption and perception in the marketplace.

Therefore, find out what is the real position of your brand. The real position is not your perception but the customer’s perception of your brand.

Perception is reality.

Monitor the “chatters” about you that is going on amongst your stakeholders.

“Chatters” includes truths, lies, half truths, and misinformation that are being transmitted during formal and informal communication and through online and offline channels. Even rumours can move the market and affect relationships.

Find out proactively what your stakeholders, including your shareholders, partners, colleagues, customers and prospects feel and are conversing about you.

If the public image is respectable, you can leverage on it to manage and strengthen your customer relationship and business.

By the same token, if the image is less than desirable, you will have an uphill climb to win customers’ heart and mind.

6. Provide on-demand and ahead-of-the-curve services.

The “Mr Tan”s in the market may not know what they want. They can also be wrong about their real needs.

In a fast-changing landscape, they may not be able to keep track of advancements and progress. In addition, they may not be aware of
better solutions and services.

Entrepreneurial leaders such as the late Steve Job, Mark Zuckerburg, Warren Buffet and many others offer services that may seem to be ahead of time.

They can’t control time but they manage timing by educating their customers and managing and transforming their needs.

They influenced customers to believe that the right place and time to buy their products is “here and now.”

For example, Steve Job was known to sell products that have never existed before and they meet customer’s needs that they are not aware or adequately aware of.

Think: What are  tomorrow’s challenges you need to resolve today?

What are tomorrow’s opportunities that you can capitalise upon today?

As infocommunication systems become more pervasive and ubiquitous, customer’s expectation of response time will increase.

The best way to respond to it is to be proactive in pre-empting needs and resolving them ahead of time.

If you apply all the above lessons, you will build a healthy, mutually-beneficial, and sustainable relationship with your customers. Your business can only become stronger and better.


I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

Please ‘Like’ me on

Visit my Inspiration blog at

For my opinions on social affairs, please visit my Transformation blog at

Please visit my website,

Please read my reflection and continue to teach me.

Life is FUNtastic!


About Patrick Liew
About Patrick Liew Patrick Liew MBA, MSc, BSc is the Managing Partner of Global Enterprise Exchange Pte. Ltd.. He is also the founder and director of Success Resources, arguably the world’s largest personal development seminar organiser and a major shareholder of a company, which is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange. He was previously the Executive Chairman and CEO of HSR Global Ltd., a publicly listed company on SGX-ST. Previously, he was the regional director of the Gartner Group, providing strategic advisory and planning services to governments, banks and MNCs. He was also the regional head of sales and marketing operation for Dow Jones Telerate. Patrick graduated with a BSc in Estate Management from Heriot Watt University, an MSc with emphasis in global business and marketing from The City University Of New York, and an MBA from Henley Business School / Brunel University. He has also earned more than nine other professional qualifications. Patrick is arguably the first person to develop a multimedia e-learning programme on entrepreneurship. He authored a Chinese book on business systems and was also the co-author of a Times Bookshop best-selling book. Patrick has conducted both ‘brick and mortar’ and online lessons for participants from more than 60 countries. He has also conducted keynote presentations in many international conferences, including being the first Singaporean to teach at the National Association of Realtors. Through his team at Success Resources, Patrick has organised educational conferences for prominent leaders such as President Bill Clinton, Prime Minister Tony Blair, Michael Porter, Richard Branson, Robert Kiyosaki, Donald Trump, and many other prominent leaders. Patrick provides leadership and advisory services to many professional and charity organisations. He is actively involved in supporting humanitarian, philanthropic and charity causes. He has organised three fund-raising events and in the process, help to set three national records in the Singapore Books Of Records. Patrick won the Entrepreneur Of the Year Award For Social Contribution, the Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Award, and six other business awards. Patrick believes the best way to live your life is to live your life for others. The more you reach out to bless other lives, the richer and better your life will become. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- A Personal Note to my Friends The articles that I post online; or what I term as Love Notes, are written with the purpose of inspiring readers to live at a higher plane in life. They are also meant to motivate those who are struggling in life and help them find handlers to overcome their conflicts and challenges. It is my ardent hope that we will form networks and alliances of like-minded people who will put to right many of the wrongs in our midst. Together, we will leverage on each other's resources and create a synergistic impact in making our world a better home. These articles are written as part of regular reflection about the vicissitudes of life. They are at best work in progress and at worst, grumblings, grouses, and gripings of a finite old man. I have deliberately decided NOT to delete many of the articles and pointers that I may not agree with or are outrightly wrong. This is to keep a record of how my personal ideas, beliefs, and values have evolved over time. In addition, I hope to encourage readers by letting them know that I also make mistakes and am struggling with many of the complexity and complication in life. As long as we hang on to hope and work on finding a solution, there will be light at the end of whatever tunnel we are in. I do not pretend to know everything or for that matter, anything of substance. In fact, the more I study, learn, and think about the vast wisdom and knowledge out there, the more I realised how little I know about life and the ways of life. Hence, I have always ended my article by asking readers to continue to teach me. For I, too, am a sojourner in the exploration of truth and the adventure of finding meaning, purpose, and significance for my existence. I am proud of and make no apology for being a Christian, albeit not the most exemplary one. I believe our Creator can lead and guide us to be the best that we can ever be. I bear full responsibility for the shortcoming and error in my life, including my words. The fault is entirely mine and not due to anyone else. Readers have and can exercise the power of choice. They can discard what will not work for them and adopt those that can propel them further and faster in the pursuit of better performance, outcomes, and fulfillment. If I have disappointed or hurt you in any way, form, or manner, I would like to apologise to you. Please do not hold them against me or whoever or whatever is related to me. There are much to pray about, learn, and do. And I'll work on them with a sense of urgency. I hold on to the belief that 'Anything worth doing is worth doing with passion and excellence'. I'll endeavour to live by it. Life is short. There's no dress rehearsal and neither can we turn back the clock to change the drama of life. Therefore, by the grace and power of our Creator, let's live a full life and live it to the fullest. May God bless you abundantly on the journey of life. Your online servant, Patrick Liew I hope this message will find a place in your heart. By the way, I have also recorded other reflections. Please 'Like' me on Visit my Inspiration blog at For my opinions on social affairs, please visit my Transformation blog at Please visit my website, Please read my reflection and continue to teach me. Life is FUNtastic!

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