Since my return from DMT ST6, i have been asked many times “Study tour??!!” “So you go study trip learn what?” “Study tour? you still got things to learn?” “So old de, still need to study??” “Waaa… rich ah you, go study tour, go holiday ah??”.
My fellow alumnus, mentor, and good friend Mr.Chris Tan once said, “you will definitely pick up nuggets of knowledge from anywhere if you are looking for it.” Thats right! Life is all about mindset. If you go looking for knowledge, you will find it. If you are open to learning, you will always learn something. The amazing thing about The DMT ST6 was that everyone who came, came prepared to learn and prepared to share. The name alone labeled as ‘study tour’, coupled with the name ‘DMT’ created a preset mindset amongst the attendees that they were here to learn, resulting in phrases like ‘wa, thats something new!’ , ‘thank you,i learnt alot from you’, ‘wow thats great! i didnt think of it that way’, and ‘amazing sharing session’ being heard quite frequently. Every member of the last DMT Study Tour did not only come prepared to learn but were ever willing to share their experiences, knowledge and life stories, making this tour an amazing immersive learning experience. Not only did we learn from the uber successful personalities amongst our midst (and yes there were quite a few!), but also from everyone else in the group.
The willingness to learn and share also came about from the carefully curated mix of members and how the tour is managed and setup. In this tour, titles, position, wealth and net worth do not accord you any special treatments and your usual conveniences (your driver, business class seats and PA maybe?) are not available at your disposal. In The DMT ST6, all are equals.
Besides the camaraderie and the forging of amazing friendships, here are some (and there’s a whole lot more!) of the things i learnt from being apart of the final DMT Study Tour. Starting with the top 5…
1. Be humble
You keep reading about it in books and articles, you hear people saying how they met some rich and successful entrepreneur and going on and on about how humble he/she was. In theory we all know that most successful people share this same trait, experiencing it though is eye opening. On this trip i experienced it first hand, spending 11-days with people whose organisations generate hundreds of millions of ringgit in revenue and i wouldn’t have noticed because they were my driver, my waiter, my cook, my porter sometimes, and shared a bunk bed in a hostel with me. DMT himself was the epitome of humble. Here was a man who runs a RM700 million company running around making sure we were all well taken care of, getting us water, queuing to get us train tickets, and serving us pizza, this list could go on and on. Everyone on this trip, multimillionaire entrepreneurs, lawyers and other professionals were ever willing to sit down with anyone and share their knowledge. Reminder to self: be humble, always.
2. Leadership by example
Be the change you want to see. Leadership, it is not a permission to delegate and shoot out instructions so you can ‘Netflix and chill’. It is a serious responsibility for those in your charge. Leadership means you have much more to do because you want to ensure those in your charge rise and grow, because leadership is about building more leaders. And the proven way that people learn is by watching and following. Set the example for the type of behaviours, habits, mindsets, and performance you wish to see. Be the best example you can be.
You cannot control what happens to you but you can control how you react to it. If your thoughts control your words and your words become your actions then your mind is your most powerful tool. Whilst it is easier said then done, throughout this trip i learnt that having a positive mindset and focus on helping the community and those around you rise is the key to life. How we look at each situation can bring about dramatically different results through the decisions we make. Always choose to see the good in people and stop to take a breather when faced with adversity, and see things from a positive perspective.
4. Do good and good will come.
One person means it could be just him or her, two people means it could be a coincidence, three, four, five and more people means you stand up and take notice. And if you want to progress, you’d better take good notice. Those who genuinely help the community and lift the people around them rise to far greater heights. To live a meaningful life is to leave an impact by providing value to the community. Helping the community need not cost you an arm and a leg, in fact money is only a short term relief. Sharing your experience to equip others with knowledge or bringing experts to share their knowledge with the community provides far greater value than money. Think of creative ways to help the community and you may discover that it not only helps your business but also creates a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that no amount of material gains can bring.
5. We before me.
This is one of those things where the message will not get delivered properly when trying to explain via the written word. Allow me to attempt it. If you had a choice between being inconvenienced to do something for your team and having a cuppa with your mates, you will go with the cuppa. We will always pick fun, convenience, and familiarity over doing something for the team that will not have a direct impact on our business. What we fail to understand is that small gesture or time spent with the team has a massive impact that isn’t visible immediately but creates a lasting impression. It spells ‘we are important’. It sends a message that everyone matters. We do what we have to do and expect nothing in return. As leaders, thats the tone we want to set.
“Your beliefs become your thoughts, Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions, Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values, Your values become your destiny.”
6. The captain never leaves anyone behind
As entrepreneurs we are captains of our ship, big or small. As captains, it is our responsibility to care for those in our charge and our duty to move everyone up. As a leader it is imperative that you ensure everyone rises and no one gets left out.
This is a role that cannot and must never be delegated.
7. Who you travel with makes all the difference
Life’s not fair, fact. Life is filled with obstacles, challenges, bad people, and life is definitely going to deal you some blows. So while the journey through life can be tough, who you keep company with can make all the difference. Travelling up and down this never ending mountain range we call life, having people who constantly encourage and support you, help and guide you, and most importantly help put a smile on your face through tiring times will guarantee to make this climb a breeze.
Expanding from the point above. Your life squad is one thing, your team is another. Your team is critical, team members need to be aligned so that everyone moves at the same speed. Shared values, a common mission and vision, and each one brings their strengths to the table to ensure the group moves in the right direction and more importantly, together. Because together is always better.
9. Don’t follow blindly
Trends and where other people are heading may not be the right path. While some organisations may seem to be heading the right way, there are alot of factors that you cannot see nor are unaware of. Following blindly in someone’s footsteps can lead to disaster.
10. Stop & evaluate
Its great to be moving at a fast pace upwards, but it is always wise to occasionally stop and evaluate where you are, where you are heading, who’s with you, and if you have enough resources to reach your goal. The key to success is sustainability not speed.
11.Things can go wrong
Thats life! Things can go wrong and sometimes horribly wrong too, but thats absolutely ok. As long as you are still breathing and able bodied, you can pick yourself up again. When things go wrong, find a positive angle and take it as a lesson learnt, up your game and go at it again.
12.The summit is only half the journey
When you get to the top, take some time to enjoy the view and bask in the glory. But that as my friend William Wong said is only half the journey, because getting back is equally as treacherous as getting to the top. Your work doesn’t stop when you’re at the top, you keep going.
13.If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
Everyone has heard this proverb and some have experienced it. The first person to reach the summit sprinted off on his own from the get-go, while the rest of us kept to our groups. He did get to the summit first, but so did everyone else albeit only a little slower. Our journey though was a lot less lonely and definitely more fun.
14. If you have elected a leader, dont question the leader and follow orders.
If you have chosen to follow a leader, then trust that this person has the accumulated experience and knowledge to make the right decisions to take you to the top. Have faith that you made the right choice to follow someone who cares about your wellbeing and will ensure that you do not go astray.
15. There are some missteps you can back track, and then there are some where you cant.
Expanding from #9. If you’re not looking far ahead, not paying attention to the changing landscape and weather, you may end up on the wrong path. And while we can backtrack on and make amendments to some of the decisions we have made, there are some where you may be too far off to make corrections. Costing you alot of resources and time.
16. Climb up fast so you can take a longer rest.
From another perspective, if you and your team move fast you can get to the top faster then you can take a longer rest. As someone in the group said, make money faster so you can retire earlier!. Question is, is that all you want to do?.
17.While climbing, remember to stop occasionally and enjoy the scenery.
While we are busy chasing our dreams, climbing the ladder, and scrambling up the mountain of life, don’t forget that the most valuable and important thing in life is time. Time passes so quickly that in our quest chasing our dreams we forget to stop and enjoy the beauty around us. Once you miss those lovely moments in life, you can never get it back.
18.Don’t lose momentum
A body in motion stays in motion. When you’ve got yourself going, don’t stop. Take breaks (because your body needs to) but don’t lose momentum and keep it going.
19. Fake it till you make it
When you’re tired you don’t show it and when faced with adversity you remain calm and composed.
20. Leadership is critical success factor.
Whilst hiking up Mount Snowdon we discovered that as a group one of the most important factors to reaching the top was the leader. The leader plays a critical role in keeping the team moving together and motivating the team to reach the top. The leader does this constantly and consistently, it is a role that cannot be delegated.
21. If you go too fast, and if you don’t have the right information you may take the wrong direction.
Without proper information at your finger tips, you run the risk of making the wrong decision. Always make sure you have market validation for your product before launch and before making a strategic decision, make sure you have gathered the information required. We make our decisions based on our accumulated experiences and assume that is adequate, sometimes that just isn’t enough.
22. Trust the tools of your trade (trust your shoes!)
You invest in the best equipment and software can afford so that you can focus on other things. Put your energy into doing what is needed to be done and trust that your tools will perform like they were meant to.
23. Your team is only as strong as the weakest link.
A common quote you hear frequently, and its a fact. If you are part of a team, it is imperative that you know and appreciate each and every one of your team mate’s strengths and weaknesses. This allows you to learn from each other, leverage on team mate’s strengths, compliment each other and manage expectations.
24. Communication is everything.
Thought leaders across all fields in the world cannot preach enough of this. The foundation of everything in an organisation, heck in the world is communication. Clear concise communication to be exact.
25. To be a good leader, you need to be a good follower.
As humans we have limitations. Our team mates are each equipped with their own strengths and play different roles. When it is not our area of expertise, be a good follower, let someone else take the lead and (as a leader of your organisation) take instructions and execute. Being a good follower also teaches us empathy, enabling us to have a clearer understanding of how things are on the other side of the table.
Some phrases i caught during the trip that will serve as my constant reminder:
1. Core Values, Culture, and Strategy.
“If nobody is doing then what for? its useless.” (core values & culture)
“When managers don’t behave according to core values, it is bullshit. Managers must embrace core values.”
“When you launch something, it must be special and sexy. if not, your team won’t understand why you do it.”
“Top management must work together. Everyone will automatically follow if all upper management says the same thing.”
“Continuously moving up the value chain. Same set of customers – introduce new products to the same set of customers.”
“When implementing strategy, culture, you cannot delegate it. You must execute it. You must never delegate it.”
“Assign, when can get. Next week deadline. Next day ask status. The boss never forgets to keep checking in.”
“Must be a very caring person as a boss. If you care about your team, they will care about you and your business.”
4. As a business owner
“Every problem must be addressed immediately. Find a solution and then.. PREVENTION!”
“If you cannot even handle and settle your own team, how can you kow tim outsiders??”
“Business surviving, do for what???! Must have goals and long term plans to grow.”
This post could go on and on if i tried to put all the things i learned from my 11-days down on paper. I hope these few points shared will help you in some way and if you are interested, feel free to drop me an email and we can meet up to cross share our knowledge and experiences. I am always happy to share knowledge and chat about anything over coffee.
In The Star:
#DMTST6 send off
For all the pictures of the trip:
#DMTST6 Facebook Page
“Life is not about the destination but the journey, and the journey need not be lonely. It is who you travel with that makes life worth living.”