Saturday, October 25, 2008

My Father

Today is a very special day, a day that I will start by telling you about my relationship with my father.

I was never the model son growing up, far from that actually. I refused to study and I was so rebellious you'd wonder if I was dropped on my head while I was a baby. I even recall times where I would actually pretend to be sick just to get away from tuition classes so it was no surprise that out of 12 subjects or so in school I would fail half of them all the way up to Form 1.

My parents tried very hard to motivate me to study using both carrot and stick approaches. They tried to tell me that they would reward me if I got good results, but it didn't work. Then they tried to tell me that they would spank me and ban me from watching TV and playing computer games but again it didn't work. I would just sneak to play computer games when they're not around.

Then just right after Form 1 my parents decided that they have had enough of putting me in a co-ed school. They thought that maybe I was getting distracted with all the girls there especially with all the overflowing hormones at that point in time. I was sent to a boy school in Penang called St. Xavier's where they streamed classes. That means they put you in class based on how good your results before were.

Out of 8 classes, 1 being the best and 8 being the worst, I expected to be put in 1 but to my surprise I was put in 5. That was the day I realized that I was quite a moron after all! So for the first time in my life I started studying and my grades slowly improved. From being ranked 168 out of 280 in the form I went to 120, 96 , 66, 4 and eventually 1 (before quickly falling back to 4 and 5 again).

My father was proud to see my grades improve but he wasn't the kind to show it.

He told me "Son, don't think you're so smart, there are a lot of people out there smarter than you and you'll know it sooner or later".

And he was right. I went to college to do my A-Levels and realized that there were a lot of people there smarter than me. Then I went to do my Economics degree at UCL in London and heck compared to the brilliant minds there, I was a total idiot.

Then came to the next part of my life... what I was going to do once I graduated. I always thought that I was going to end up in an investment bank simply because it was a job that paid really well. So much that I made it a point to do internships at a couple of foreign investment banks during my summer holidays.

All that changed however one summer during my internship with Deutsche Bank. I got together with some friends and worked on a little fun non-profit project to help students find tuition teachers. I came across the realization that I enjoyed the adrenaline of running a web startup and around the same time I started blogging too leading to a growing sense of passion for the blogging community.

Just before I graduated I told my father that I didn't want to work at a bank. Instead I wanted to start an internet business and expecting him to ask me to work first to gain some experience, he instead said "Okay son, lets talk about this when you get back from London".

I got back to Malaysia on the summer of June 06 and along with Ming I started working on a business plan for a web startup that was to be called Nuffnang. After I presented the business plan and financial models of Nuffnang to my dad, he made me make a decision
"Okay I was going to give you this sum of money to do your Masters but you decide what you want to do. If you want to take it to start a business instead then go ahead. Either ways I think you will learn something and become a better person".

We got to working and for someone who was new to running businesses, I made a lot of mistakes and struggled to learn. Then when Nuffnang officially launched in February 2007, the real stress started.

There was pressure to bring in sales because a company without sales is a ticking time bomb and it didn't help that both Ming and I didn't know anyone in the advertising industry neither did any of our family members so we resorted to cold calling and begging for meetings.

But we got really lucky and as people (both clients and bloggers) put their faith in us, Nuffnang grew. But a growing company comes with its own fair share of stress and days went by where I never got much sleep.My father though was always there for me being supportive all the way. Always guiding me teaching me how to deal with the stress and how to solve problems I faced. I know there were even times when my own problems troubled my father as much as it troubled me.

At the same time, my father always tried to manage my expectations. Always afraid that I might get disappointed, he constantly reminded me

"Son... this is your first business and it may not work out. Most people don't get it right the first time round so if you don't, then don't be disheartened okay?"

It really took us both by surprise how Nuffnang grew to where it is today and how it is still growing so rapidly. One day not too long ago, my father for the first time in my life said to me
"Son... I am very proud of you".

To a son who has had a rocky start in life and who was a little devil to raise.... those were the best few words I could ever long to hear in my life. Little does my father know that whatever I am today though is whatever my father shaped me to be. My father taught me so many things that I now carry with me today.

He taught me to be humble for no matter how successful I may ever be in life, there will always be others who are more successful.

He taught me to be nice to everyone you see on your way up in life, because you will see those same people again on your way down.

He taught me to be determined that the ones who persevere are the ones who eventually make it.

Sometimes I wonder what good I must've done in my previous life to deserve such a good father.

I love you Dad... Happy Birthday!

27 comments:

povege said...

Thanks for sharing. I have a great father too. I'm now studying in UK all because of him. I have made so many mistakes and paid a large sum of money for them but my dad has been there for me.

Many a times I do not heed his word and think I know better. But he has been nothing but patient with me. And when things go wrong, he doesn't say a thing until it's the right time to say it.

He's so very supportive and he's the one who shaped me. I am who I am because of my father too. My father's birthday is coming soon in a couple more days but I am too far away to celebrate it for him.

I'm glad you are there with him now.

Happy Birthday to your fantastic dad too!

Christy said...

I absolutely love this post of yours! So touching... if I was your father I would be very very proud of you too!

Stella said...

My parents have bailed me out when I was stuck, they have encouraged me to explore my options and paid for all my (expensive) mistakes without question and are my greatest critics and supporters. They are the reason why I have so much today. Sometimes I wonder why I was not disowned for all the distress I gave them... It takes a lot to be parents huh?

Happy Birthday to your dad!

Nicocoa said...

Happy Birthday Uncle!!!

Boss Stewie said...

povege: i guess all they ask in return from us is that we will take good care of them when they grow old. Seeing how you realize what he has done for you, I'm sure you will make them happy.

christy: thank u christy :)

stella: ah yes... mistakes that I made that my dad has paid for since I was young... I've had plenty. I guess we're all really lucky to have great parents.

nico: Haha i'll pass the word.

Kay said...

aaaaaaaand it's his berfday!! XD Happy Berfday to Stewie's Daddy!

PS : the crow shit is being cleared up because of the rain everyday =(

Chu King Cheang said...

Fantastic post dude !

Thank you for sharing such a great story between you and your dad.

You made him proud.

Happy Birthday to Uncle Tiah ! :)

I hope one day my dad would say the same thing to me too = ).

PiNöLãm said...

one of the best post ever. this post will listed in ur popular entries i believe. thanks for sharing and u were lucky.

Chu King Cheang said...

Dear Glenda,

Before I start, I think you are the one that should really grow up. How old are you? Don't tell me you are 5 because your brain seems like the brain of a 5-year old kid.

Is there anything wrong to start a business without getting a loan? Did you read why Timothy did not get a loan to start Nuffnang? For your information, Tim said before in one of his blog posts, that don't expect any profit for the first two years in internet business so the interest repayment for loans would actually kill sometimes.

He is fortunate enough to have financial backup from the family to kick start Nuffnang. He is also nice enough to say he "loan" the money from the family so I assume that he has to repay the parents the amount of money he "loan" from them too.

I don't see any problem with that.And his dad has said he was actually going to give him that sum of money for him to do his masters. He did not do his masters and started Nuffnang with that money instead. So, what is the difference by using that money to study or do business?

Mrs Glenda,

Can I ask you a question? Do you think that Timothy actually want to earn money by putting Nuffnang ads on his blog?

I don't think so. If you think so, you are very stupid.

Imagine Nuffnang's boss putting other blog advertising company's ads on his blog. Isn't it stupid? Maybe you would do that but certainly not Timothy.

I think it is enough and I hope not to see you again in his blog. Since you hate Timothy so much, you can choose not to read his blog at all.

I actually hope that you do not read this comment because I really don't want you to be here anymore.

Good bye Mrs/Mr humble and not arrogant human being.

Anselm Ong said...

A piece of sharing from an ex Xaverian... and also a kampong folk (haha)..

Always remember your roots..

Be humble always as humility is the key to a perfect success in life..

Grasp to understand rather than just knowing...

God Bless

Jacquelyn said...

Happy birthday Timothy's papa! :)

Is that why u went back to penang? hehe. Was nice bumping into u and aud !

pinkpau said...

hello uncle tiah i think it's really cute how you type in all caps LIKE THIS!

amelia said...

wah so touching. but it's so nice :)
Happy birthday to ur dad! he;s lucky to have u as his son :D

BrYAn said...

awwwhh~ how cool ur dad is.. anyway happy birthday to ur daddy tiah! (:

arathy said...

hey tim..im arathy here..mailed u not too long ago bout access to ur archive..thanks for getting it done..really appreciate it..
and i gotta say ur post nearly brought tears to my eyes..no matter how old we grow,our dads will always be our superheroes!
take care and happy b'day to ur man!
~arathy~

nicole said...

aww...Happy Birthday to your Dad.

ahlost said...

It's so touching.

Happy birthday Uncle :)

Immi said...

awww... (tears welling up).
that's really sweet.
happy birthday mr. tiah senior and you've done a fine job raising timothy. =)
i'm proud to be his friend.

jay said...

you have made us proud bro. i still remember playing against u in street soccer at sxi's 'anfield', (you're much thinner back then tho). you're now so successful. u're really a source of inspiration to everyone!!
hehe.

jay said...

you have made us proud bro. i still remember playing against u in street soccer at sxi's 'anfield', (you're much thinner back then tho). you're now so successful. u're really a source of inspiration to everyone!!
hehe.

a n n n a said...

So touching.. Happy birthday to ur dad..

benauhc said...

Thanks for sharing... and a happy belated birthday to your pop.

Stella said...

Awww..u make me cried for reading this...Btw, Happy Bday uncle!

Sapphira said...

This is such a sweet post. :)

Though... I do wonder if it made a difference that you switched to an all-boys school. ;)

Gary Ooi said...

just a lil note bout the streamin of classes in sxi..

1,2,3 - A class

4,5,6 - B class

7,8 - C class

when i enter form 1, i had quite good results for my upsr..but i was sent to 1/3..and some guys who got lousier results than me wwere sent to 1/1..so, i doesnt' matter how good your results is in a way..if u have the results to enter A class, they will simply put in 1/1 or 1/2 or 1/3..that's all, tim! haha..

how nice to be an ex-xaverian huh..hehe..still rmb u in the old days in sch..much much thinner than what u r now..

anyway, happy bday to MR. TIAH!!

joshuaongys said...

walao eh... ahaha ur childhood times arh, i belif many ppl are kinda same la... sneak out, disobeying, watching tv shows even after parents rotan u and etc hahaha its not tat bad hehehe but its a nice story =D

Michael Tsen said...

lucky u, mine stop at ' u r dump ' and I have to start by saving every cent I pick up from the canteen floor ... :D