9 Apr 2014 by Adeline Lum CM-
As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. (Prov 27:17 NKJV)
Adrian Lim and Warren Tan found each other in the midst of the mad business world, having the same passion, heart, vision and ethics to change the world with design, innovation, and technology.
More than just a media or an advertizing agency, they merged together to become VLT, a one-stop consulting agency that uses different and novel approaches to engage consumers in a two-way communication.
And you can tell how well a partnership is from its fruit. Since the merging, the company has doubled in size and expanded their clientele like never before in less than nine months.
What made this story particularly interesting is the colorful history of the founders of VLT, Adrian and Warren. Friendly competitors before this, both crossed paths many times in Starbucks, restaurants, and weddings.
Finally, one day, they sat down to talk business having experienced changes and upheavals in their existing company. And like how a good marriage is, they decided to join hands for a God-led partnership.
Indeed, signing a marriage contract, mused Adrian and Warren, is like signing for a business partner. Both make important decisions together, whereby a divorce in business is equally hard, which cause collateral damage for the people working for them.
But what made them truly ticked is the maturity of their faith in God, groomed and sharpened by the Lord through a decade of hard knocks in the marketplace. Both learned the value of people, courage, and humility.
And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. (Luke 6:31 NKJV)
Adrian, a hardy boy who grew to love the scouting movement, encountered God in a youth camp and wanted to serve God full-time. Nevertheless, after a year of initiation through community work and three months of solitude in the Bible school, God asked him what he wanted. Adrian contemplated and answered what he really wanted was to do business, get married, and have kids.
Hence, he quit his Bible school and started his first business—close-circuit radio broadcast—with Giant and Putra LRT. He did fairly well with his business partner, but they lost money through misplaced trust over a number of people over time, wrecking him with debts that persisted after subsequent business failures that lasted for seven years.
Adrian forgot about God and failure became his foreboding friend. Left curiously with only 50 cents in his pocket after every failed venture, his most painful memory was being unable to pay for two cups of orange juice ordered by prospective clients in Nando’s, after a journey on foot from an empty-fueled car.
At that time, Adrian decided to search for God and give God a second chance. He returned to church, got involved in the ministry, and became the cell group leader. Preparing for his marriage to his beau then, the Lord nudged in his heart to give up a promising business he founded, Kreateevee, which unknowingly zapped the life out of him.
Adrian quit his job in obedience, only to land immediately in another job as a business development manager, offered by his one of his ex-boss. However, he was still burdened with debt, to which his gracious boss loaned him money to pay off the initial debt.
If you are willing and obedient,You shall eat the good of the land (Isa. 1:19 NKJV)
Hence, for the next one year, Adrian worked extra hours in building websites—serendipitously stumbling upon his passion—which paid off all his debts and also paid for his marriage.
Nevertheless, as he worked, his heart tugged for the ministry for the poor and orang asli’s. With peace in his heart upon prayer, he took the leap of faith to quit his full-time job and focused on his business venture in building websites.
In three months, he was hiring two people and acquiring an office. And such was the starting point of his journey into the media agency. While he was looking for more time, he had less time for the ministry though he continued serving the church.
Warren Tan, on the other hand, was a brilliant boy who grew up with two precious gifts from his father—one, was a computer and the other was the opportunity to upgrade the computer himself.
Due to lack of funds from his father, Warren learned from a young age how to upgrade his computer using second-hand parts, to which he began to make money from selling these parts on other platforms. Thus, he started a business of selling second-hand parts till college.
But when he got into the university, Warren decided to spend more time in business and his remaining time in his social life, where he saw his grades plummeting spectacularly for the first time; absolutely strange for someone who had been effortlessly a top student in class.
Feeling down, Warren seek the Lord to decide whether to quit his business. But to his surprise, God told him to do what he loves. Hence, he made a deal with his father at 19 years old to build up a Sendirian Berhad company; if his company were to make money after the first year, he would not need to go to the university.
Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days. There are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless the Lord’s counsel—that will stand. (Prov 19:20-21 NKJV)
Warren eventually grew his company as a CEO with a few partners, but not without grooming in character of course. Although Warren was clever in technology, design, and finances, he was disinterested in human relationships until one day; a business partner told him that he could not run a company without caring about his staffs.
Taken aback, Warren pondered and the very next morning, he shifted out from his office room to sit with his staffs. Now, as the CEO of VLT, Warren has changed so much that his wife would comment him as being ‘too concerned’ with his staffs. Out of care, he would stay back whenever his staffs work late or in the weekends, and buy them cendol and coffee to commend them of their hard work.
Indeed, the Lord has a sense of humor. Not only He answered Warren’s prayer for a business mentor, He provided him a marriage mentor as well. Even before he started seriously pursuing a lovely lady in church, the pastor called him for tea offering him many advices on his relationship. Even now, he thanked God for the godly couple that still walked with them after completing the premarital counseling.
Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety. (Prov 11:14 NKJV)
Because of the mentorship he received, his heart gravitates towards one-on-one counseling with young entrepreneurs and businessmen in the marketplace. He is also leading a marketplace cell group and he believed that his company is his first ministry.
Hence, the strong and healthy marriage of VLT! Both Warren and Adrian believed that people of the company comes first before clients, set firmly on the foundation of God. Leading a group of aspiring Gen-Y staffs in the company, Warren shared, their personal lives and integrity matter to their staffs.
At one point, they had to disagree with their biggest client in the company who offered up to 30 percent of their revenue. Stuck in a grey area, both prayed about it and felt that they could not agree with their biggest client’s request. Hence, the contract is terminated, which brought forth a financial struggle in the next three months.
A time of turmoil, Warren and Adrian was hurting because they could not pay their employees in time. Yet, a few of them came privately to Warren and told him that they could wait for their salary and he need not worry. At that moment, Warren knew whom he was fighting for; more than staffs, they were his friends and family.
Adrian, whose heart is for the ministry, also realized his responsibility to shepherd and steward each one of them. Hence, he would spend half of his time coaching his staffs one-by-one by helping them reflect on their personal strengths and weaknesses, visions, goals, and dreams. Most of all, he wanted them to know he is there for them. What touched him the most was the personal messages sent by his staffs on his birthday of how he made an impact in their lives.
Both believed that each staff would not remain forever with VLT but like a little bird incubated from a nest, they shall fly like an eagle to be who they want to be. Both believed in building the company’s people up by enabling them to build their talent and providing them opportunities to do what they love.
Indeed, Adrian and Warren fit together so well, like a hand in glove, although both of them have such different personalities. Adrian, an impeccable driver who loves people, handles the sales and the day-to-day judiciary operation through their account manager and account executives. Warren, on the other hand, a edgy visionary, is in charge of the strategizing, paving and realizing the vision and dream of VLT including incubation of start-up businesses and discovering new business avenues such as education. Currently, Warren is involved in 16 different projects.
9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. 12 Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken. (Ecc 4:9;12 NKJV)
Hence, unlike the advertizing companies who drove their staffs to achieving bottom lines, Warren and Adrian believed in building a company that would last for 100 years and be an impact to their community and clients.
Indeed, there are no greater seasons than today that God has allowed design, innovation, and technology to be put together to create things that have never been done before. There’s no greater combination of talents, gifts and people that can impact the world like today! And such is the power of the body of Christ! Imagine the impact if we could all come together to pool our talents for the Kingdom of God… Just imagine.
A business done God’s way will prosper, no doubt God’s hands in the business of VLT because of the faithfulness of Warren and Adrian in following His Ways. If you want to succeed, seek first the Kingdom of God and all else will be added to you.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. (Matt 6:33 NKJV)