CEO Series 22 – Jason Lo, CEO, Tune Talk
Writing credits: Chen Chow Yeoh
Jason was born in Kuching in 1975. He was a sheltered kids in Kuching, just like other Kuching kids. When Kuching had its first flyover, everyone jammed up to take a look at it.
Jason has always been on stage since young, and he really found the world when he studied together with Khairy in Singapore.
When he went to University of Hull to study, he made 3-hour trip every weekend to London. He always tried to get musical deals there, but it was tough. He was very used to get rejection.
Then, he tried to stay longer in UK, and he told his father that he is doing MBA there, as Malaysian Chinese people would want their kids to do courses like business.
Eventually he came back to Malaysia, he started to produce his album.
He joined EMI at the start. Back then, it was tough to get songs to go on radio. He has always been begging around. Hitz gave him a break, when they initially put up his song at 4am, and after he begged for it, they played it at 6pm.
Jason always focused on his fan, and even went off stage to meet the fans.
His partner, Nik ran the business, whereas Jason produced the album.
Once, he spent $100,000 and the revenue was $4,800. That was not really working. And at one point, the debt was $200+K.
Jason had to read the book on how to editing, and throughout the process, he was humiliated many times, from people of Datin class to other people.
He would have to contact supplier last minute, to get the drum sets, as sometimes organizer didn’t have the sets ready, and he had to tape the wires sometimes.
Jason started to get calls, from landlord and suppliers, especially to ask for money. So, time was tough.
Fat Boy was having a tough time, and the phone line was cut and the salary of the staff was not yet paid. Jason asked Zaid to go and convert his guitar which was signed by top star. The cost was RM5,000, and thought that he could sell for RM10K, but eventually it was RM900. Jason cried in the car, as he asked Zaid to go in again to convert the guitar. It was tough time, especially he took a lot of efforts to get the guitar autographed by top star.
With the RM900, Jason used RM200 to pay for phone bill, RM200 for electricity, RM300 for Zaid and RM200 for buffet in Subang. Jason said that when things get very tough, go to buffet. It would be worth it.
Jason that when he was CEO of Fat Boy, it was as tough as being CEO of a telco.
Then, Jason went to do Latte 8 at midnight, and the show ended at 1am, and by the time, he left was 2am and went to bed at 3am. Then, at 5am, he had to wake up for his show at Hitz.
Jason also talked about once he fell asleep in the studio, when Ralph Marshall brought some investors around.
Jason also talked about how he called up Khairy one day, and brought up idea of MyTeam. It was great seeing the kampung boys took their first flight to UK, and drew 0-0 against Manchester United Reserve Team. MyTeam also played against National Team and scored first, before losing 1-2.
Before Tony Fernandes started Air Asia, he did ask Jason on what he thought about airline business, and Jason thought back now that he should have jumped on it back then in 2000 to invest on it. Jason was also asked before Izham went into TV station.
When Tony Fernandes started, he asked Mark Lankester to join, but he refused, as he felt comfortable. But when Tony started his hotel, Mark jumped on it, to be CEO of TuneHotels.com .
Jason even went on knee in boardrooms to ask for support for local artists, but Malaysians often just supported foreigners, especially Westerners.
When Tony Fernandes asked Jason Lo to join telco, and Jason eventually invested a bit on it to have some stake. Jason relied on wikipedia to learn, and during his initial business meetings, he learned his way to learn the key terms.
Jason shared about how his dream of people, when they are in Singapore, they could call back to Malaysia on local call rates and on same number. After that, it would be expansion to Indonesia. It would ride on the Air Asia’s network
Jason talked about how Tony Fernandes warned him before hand that the dealers would hold him to ransom, but Jason thought that it won’t happen. But it did happen. Jason said that Tony was always spot on things.
Jason was sharing on various tricks that telcos use to make money from the customers. Telcos are like commodities of this century. For Tune Talk, it was a flat rate of RM0.16 per minute (flat rate).
Jason talked about how his RM0.5 Million went down to drain, when the incumbents forced the dealers to take out their posters.
Jason said that he is now working on his 4th album, after putting his children and wife to bed. Jason advised that we should always do creative and innovative things everyday.
Jason shared that Star Trek really showed things way in advance. Example, back in 1950s, handphone was there already, and “iPad” type of notebooks were used there too.
Jason hoped that he would achieve the following before he died.
a) Made 20 albums
b) Played at Wembley
c) Went on top of BillBoard
Part 8 [Final]
He said that we should always work very hard to achieve our dream.
As of now, he is making his 4th albums. He had played to 35,000 people in Sungai Petani, hearing them singing his song.
Jason talked about how we could set up platform and went off the ground, and went up bit by bit.
Jason loved wikipedia, and he felt that everything is there. He also felt that dare to fail is important and we could learn from mistakes. Entrepreneurs all dare to fail, and if you do that, then your learning curve would be steeper. When fail, learn from it.
Don’t close yourself off when you are learning, and always go to talk to people, and learn from people. It is very important to learn from everyone. Even a beggar can make us learn from it. Make it a point for us to always learn.
Jason has a management style, which is full transparency. All the staff know everything that is happening, and all the team discussed together for everything, example the company’s marketing plan.
Jason also talked about “Chinese whisper”. He hated it very much, if people do it. Communications would get distorted, if people whispered.
Jason said that it is very important that people don’t have temper. People should be having fun at work. He tried to be very approachable too.
Sometimes his staff would go to him and ask him to make decision, but Jason always wanted the team to discuss and decide. This would empower the staff, and no decision is made without the knowledge of everyone.
Sometimes, Jason might get voted out by his staff, when they all voted for a certain decision. Of course, sometimes wrong decision could be made, but that is unavoidable.
It is very important for Jason that when his staff left, they moved up. Sometimes, he would try to make it very clear to his staff who wanted to leave, if they are not moving to a more established roles elsewhere. He would do his best to convince them to stay back.
Tony Fernandes chose Jason Lo based on his strength and weakness, and he was not from telco background. Jason has also started a company before.
Jason said that a lot of things that happened today, he didn’t plan for it. But when opportunities come, he seized it. Tony, Jason and Mark Lankester all came from music background.
It is very important to communicate with the staff, and have a laugh at things. Jason said that we should be more laughing at ourselves, and not be as touchy on things. It would break the ice and have more fun.
Jason shared his phone number and email address with the audience, and he said that as the bosses, one should be very approachable. One can’t do great things, if one is not approachable.
Malaysia should be do a lot more, but often we are scared to fail, and we don’t reach our potential.