Standing on the Shoulders of Business Titan Joo Kim Tiah

I have been a member of the Vancouver Entrepreneur Group led by Dan Lok since its first meeting in September 2014.  I make it a priority to attend every meeting which have been great opportunities to learn and meet new people.  Thursday's event at the Vancouver Club was even more exceptional!

We had the opportunity to learn business success tips directly from the young billionaire Joo Kim Tiah. He is the developer behind the $360 million dollar Trump Tower in downtown Vancouver. Joo arrived in the city during a bleak economy in 2009. Everyone laughed when he said that "Vancouver landed on me because someone had to take care of my family's business in the city".

I also had the pleasure of meeting him and speaking​ with him afterwards.

Alfred Ball & Joo Kim Tiah

Alfred Ball with Joo Kim Tiah at Shoulders of Titans

With a standing room only audience of over 100 eager entrepreneurs in attendance Dan Lok interviewed Joo about his family, his upbringing, Trump Tower and what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.  Throughout the conversation Joo answered with humility, integrity and candor. ​

Business Success Tips from Joo Kim Tiah

"Focus on the present being great and the future will be awesome" - Joo Kim Tiah  #vanpreneurs

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Joo Kim Tiah grew-up in Malaysia. His parents worked extremely hard to build a very successful stockbroking company which eventually diversified into real estate. Both his parents were strict with him growing up because to "be successful in business you have to be tough;"  they believed it was important to develop a strong work ethic from a young age.

There was a time where he didn't read much until his father told him that he didn't know much about finances, which he agreed was true. While working at lower level position in bank doing research he discovered a distaste for office politics.  There were people getting promoted who "didn't know jack" only because they knew how to market themselves.

As someone of second generation wealth he began to rebel. ​He wanted to be different.

"You need to find what works for you because you are different." - Joo Kim Tiah #vanpreneurs #entrepreneurship #selfconfidence 

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Have Conviction in Your Products or Services​

​Joo believes that you need to have strong self identity and a stubborn conviction in your products and services. If you don't believe in them how do you expect people to buy them? Everything we do in life will be questioned. When Trump Tower was announced there were haters wondering if Vancouver really needs another luxury hotel.  The haters only "light the fire to succeed," and bring more attention to the project.  

Seek Out Excellence Without Comprmise

It took him two years of searching the globe for the right luxury hotel management team. He chose the Trumps because they have many of the same values, are best in class and he is able to develop a long-term relationship with the family. He knows Donald Jr."god willing" will be around in 20-30 years and will have more context of the original deal than a hotel CEO who changes jobs every 3-5 years.  Joo confirmed the rumour includes the high-end technologically advanced fitness brand Equinox from New York City will be another tenant.

I asked him "why Equinox?" He replied that there is a gap in Vancouver's fitness market. There are lower-market clubs like Steve Nash Fitness World (with a location on the same block as where Equinox will be) and high-end private clubs like ​Terminal City and the Hollyburn Country Club. Equinox's arrival will certainly challenge other large chains to stay in shape.

Competition is good, but don't focus on them, instead put your focus on dominating your market by being best in your niche!​

A Billionaire's Management Style

Although Joo grew-up in Asia, he was educated overseas. This means that he has learned to combine both Western and Eastern styles of management which is necessary skill in Vancouver.

Asian style of management includes the Emperor, General and Subordinates. There are no questions asked and you are beheaded when you do something wrong. Western style is more collective. Everyone is part of a team, they have a sense of ownership, there is more need for rationalization and consensus. At times there can be too much consensus.  - Joo Kim Tiah

Joo's father believed that "you can't be a good General without fighting experience." To lead well and make top line decisions when we are older we need to have fought through the smaller battles in the trenches.

He believes that you can't assume people are compassionate and fair instead you need to make sure you are strong in  your position; know where the ship is going and where it needs to go next. The buck stops with the leader, the entrepreneur! Be strong in your vision to crystalize your thoughts and find people who are good at execution. 

Top 2 Skills to be a Successful Entrepreneur​

This was a difficult question for Joo to answer. Perhaps there were more?

1. Be a Visionary

Have a mind that is constantly inquisitive. Know where the world is going and how it affects certain businesses. Especially yours!

2. Be Fair, Honest and Have Integrity

These are attributes to being a good human being. He also added be tough.

Being a Successful Entrepreneur is Like Being an Athlete

Being a world class athlete doesn't happen overnight, nor does being a successful entrepreneur. World champions are made by reinforcing daily habits that include the "right living and right believing." Becoming an Olympic champion takes over a decade of dedication to chasing the bigger prize, the one that not many of us go after with as much vigor and determination. Reinforce the good habits so that they become part of who you are.   

He attributes much of success to a regime of hard work. We do only live once, but when we are younger we have the energy to work hard. While others are out living the "you only live once" (#YOLO) life of short term thrills the successful entrepreneur is working to build their business. Joo works 12 hour days during the week and 4-6 hours during the weekend.

 What is your big prize? What habits will you strengthen starting today?

How Do You Know When You are Successful?

You are successful when "you are able to impact people in a meaningful way."  To reach that level you first have to save yourself.  Joo does believe it is important to give back, but there is a time and place to do so. Invest the limited energy and time of your youth to build  enough wealth to make an impact on larger scale later in life with the wealth.  

For example it took Bill Gates a couple of decades to build his billions; he know gives back on very large scale with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. I'm not sure if I entirely believe in only working hard now and giving back later. We can call contribute on smaller scale now. Volunteering gives us a sense of community and there are many events and societies that would cease to function without volunteers.

8 Business Succes Tips from a Billionaire Entrepreneur

  1. No Problem is Insumerountable
  2. Have a Strong Conviction and Self Belief
  3. Develop the Right Winning Habits from a Young Age
  4. Be Authentic and Live with Integrity
  5. Build Confidence and Experience from a Resume of Wins
  6. Give 100% to the Process to Become Great!
  7. Be 100% There to Dominate and Have a Winning Mentality
  8.  Do Something 100% to Be "Freaking Good at it!"​

​Feature photo: Dan Lok interviewing Joo Kim Tiah, CEO Holborn Group. Photo credit Bob Garlick, used with permission.

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Alfred Ball

Alfred is a Practicing Kinesiologist who started his own business, Lifemoves Health and Rehabilitation in 2007. He has been writing since a very young age. He enjoys writing about the challenges of entrepreneurship and growing a business while maintaining an active lifestyle.

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