1. Running an ecotourism lodge in the middle of Borneo can be much more difficult than running a five-star hotel. Here’s why.
A prominent local who came to the lodge was an alcoholic. He’d regularly get his daughter, a staff member of the lodge, to unlock the chiller for beer. This was particularly effective for him — because in this culture, one cannot say no to one’s father. “There were some months when my costs were more than my sales!” Albert said.
Albert did not blow up at his staff. He told the lodge manager: “The next time this man comes, the first thing you should do is to get a cup of coffee. Sit down and have a nice, long conversation with him.” With the coffee aftertaste in his mouth (in addition to the conversation), the village-man lost the desire to drink beer. With that, the problem of beer pilferage was solved. And to top it off, the man was cured of his drinking problem.
2. For many years, Albert Teo had wanted to expand his seven-acre lodge by buying up his neighbor’s three-acre plot of land. His neighbor refused to sell.
One day, the neighbor died. The sons and daughters who inherited the land were reluctant to part with the land. They asked Albert to rent the land for 10 years, with the rent paid upfront. “If I do that, I might as well just buy the land,” Albert said. The negotiation gridlock continued.
But one day, Albert had an ingenious idea. “I did the math for them,” he said. If they earned RM100,000 from the sale of land, they could take out a sum for personal expenditure and invest the remaining amount by purchasing Amanah Saham shares. The interest reaped would surpass the rental gains.
Albert wrote the calculations on a piece of paper and presented it to one of the brothers. The brother went back and convinced his siblings. Within 24 hours, they sold the land to Albert.
3. There was once a member of the kitchen staff who was extremely dedicated in throwing rubbish and cleaning up after guests had finished eating the buffet dinner at the lodge. She placed the leftovers – along with bottled sauces, crockery and cutlery – into a plastic bag. “I’m going out to throw the rubbish,” she announced. Then she threw the bag into the river. The bag floated downstream — straight into the waiting arms of her family who lived further down the river!
- Growing People and Profits on a Fragile Planet
- Giving Back Before Gaining Personally
- Failing Forward
- Growing Trees, Growing People
- Leaving a Legacy by Changing Mindsets
- Albert’s Maxims