Syed Mokhtar Albukhary

I have a high Growth Emotional Need. It is typical me to buy so many books because I might think that I can benefits from the content. However, I hardly finish reading book because of so many reasons (or excuses). Yesterday, I bought a book – a biography of Malaysian tycoon, the only bumiputera that makes into the list of top 10 riches man in Malaysia (according to Forbes) for more than a decades. He ranked no. 6 in Malaysia and no. 344 of riches man in the world from the latest Forbes list. This book really interest me and for the first time I managed to read the whole book, cover-to-cover in less than 18 hours.

This book really reveal how Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar started the trading business after skipped his SPM examination because the family could not afford to pay for the examination fees. He is really a genius in doing business and there are some strategies that he used which most of people wont. He did not become rich overnight. He really did it step-by-step from a sole-proprietorship. He has his own principle of doing business since the beginning of his venture.

“It was based on the idea that every business needs two key figures who must work together to succeed: one to run the business, another to manage the finances.”

He never do business by his own and always have a partner that will complement. And this principle is true if you look at other giant corporations in the world, most of them started by 2 co-founders.

He went to ups and downs especially during the economic crisis where he lost almost 80% of his net worth.

“The Asian Economic Crisis of 1997 came down hard on me. I was hit by the economic downturn, and it was made worse because I refused to relinquish my own companies as well as those acquired as a bumiputera to settle my debts. It was a question of pride, and I struggled to maintain the dignity of the Malays by not letting go especially of strategic assets. And this cost me RM2.4 billion.”

He puts his interest aside and always think about other people, especially the Malays, the country and the less fortunate.  There are a lot of moves that he did which is not financially strategic, but in order maintain the equity of the bumiputera and protecting the assets. He did not trade stocks and make profits when the price when up. But he holds it and add value so that the price will go up which will benefits the other stakeholders.

Syed Mokhtar has a magic touch, even in heavily diversified industries, he always take over the companies that is sick and turn it around to make the companies run in profit. He has done this over-and-over again especially on the 3 corporations that he took over starting from the MMC, PERNAS and DRB-Hicom. He made many of strategic moves which was not advised by his financial advisor, but he made the decision when he look at it as a whole group benefits, instead of only financial aspect. And this move is actually proven in the long run. It is interesting to see the Proton next moves after DRB-Hicom took over. And I wonder what will happened if he took over Malaysian Airlines.

Ali Alabbar once asked: “Your business is so huge, so why are you working so hard?”
Syed Mokhtar answered: “We all need to be strong and successful so we have the ability to help other.”
Being a philanthropist, he contribute so much and just enjoyed to do so.

“Whenever I do charity, my heart moves. It is not about corporate social responsibility. It is about caring, something that comes from the heart. My wish is that people with money will help those less fortunate so that the world is more just and fair to all.” 

All and all, I felt truly inspired to achieve more success with the leadership, humility and achievement shown by Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar after reading this book.

When was the last time you feel inspired?

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