November 27, 2008

Sold Soul (a fiction of epic proportion) continues...

The Turkish businessman was first introduced to us as an investor who was looking for opportunities in Malaysia to make more money out of his already high nett worth. He was loud, big, unapologetic and demanding. Just like any other businessman who know what he wanted. The first time we met him, he was staying at a hotel I didn't even know existed fronting the Kuala Lumpur City Centre. It was owned by a Singaporean group and was actually a service apartment. It was expensive and as the bill was footed by the conglomerate where our funder was working, the guy was treated like a king.

He was with his wife who was as big as him but spoke softly belying her look. She does look pretty but was hidden under the layer of clothing that she wore. As hot as Kuala Lumpur, she never took off her hijab as her headscarf was known in her country. We were rarely graced by her company except for dinner and breakfast. Dinner were usually held at various places as our Turkish couple loved to taste the various food that Kuala Lumpur had to offer. Be it Thai seafood, Indian cuisine, Malay cuisine under a tree or even the stalls lining up the parking lot at the back of KLCC.

Our day after we were introduced to this Turkish would start with breakfast on the 10th floor of the hotel/apartment that he stayed. We would gorged ourselves on the food which could satisfy any tastebud from Chinese to Western offering. Omellette were cooked on order and as the view was of KLCC which was then very new, we would never miss the chance to have breakfast with him the whole two weeks he was here. It became a routine with the business of the day outlined and discussed before we moved to tackle that day's appointments.

The first order of business for him was to find an office. As the service apartment had an impressive service office in which they offered the use of individual office complete with an executive table and chair but a common reception and meeting room, he used it as a starting point. When Mr. N saw where he was doing his work, Mr N suggested a cheaper alternative at the then Menara Lion where the charges were more reasonable.

Meanwhile, our hunt for a proper office brought us from the Ampang area to Hartamas to Shah Alam. We went up and down small offices on top of shop to offices in tall office tower. From the shabby type of office where the street wouldn't guarantee the safety of your car to those offices where you were escorted all the time you were checking the unit you wanted to rent. It was tiring but was also exhilarating for me as I learned about how fussy one should be when choosing your office location which may determined the fortune of your business. Mrs. N being a Chinese also looked at the feng shui element who was alien for me then.

My loud mouth did asked the question to the Turkish guy why is so hard for him to choose an office and what was all the fuss about where his office would be situated. He said I took for granted Kuala Lumpur as a place I have known all my life. For him, a foreigner, Kuala Lumpur was a strange town where not all places would be perfect for him. He need to ensure he would be able to reach the place as easy as he was able to do at that moment. The logistic of reaching places of interest or the city centre must also be taken into account. He also would like to ensure his office would be accessible from Kuala Lumpur International Airport easily as he may need to reach it straight away upon landing.

I was actually given a lecture on the importance of being patience and careful when setting up an office in a foreign country. It was humiliating but enlightening. That question was also what made him decided to give me further responsibilities which opened up new business opportunities for me...

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