Grace Yeh (GY): What’s the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?
Karl Mak (KM): I get my kids ready for school. After that, I have breakfast with my wife and our one-year-old son, just a quiet moment before the day starts to get crazy.
Adrian Ang (AA): Nowadays I like to cycle.
GY: What is more important to you – making money or making a name for yourself?
KM: I would say the latter. I think building credibility as an individual gets us opportunities to be involved in a wider spectrum of projects, boards, start-ups etc. It’s an incredible way to create deeper impact in the world.
AA: Definitely the latter. It’s a cliché, but I want to leave the world a better place than when I came into it; to leave a legacy. I believe in creating an impact and letting people remember you for what you do.
GY: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
KM: Thinking that you own, or are superior to, other nationalities in SEA. When we were expanding across SEA, our investor explained that many Singaporeans carry an arrogance when visiting different SEA markets and this is something we must avoid entirely in our journey.
AA: To build something bigger than yourself. That it’s important your business is something that survives without you, so you can truly build something that can really create impact.
GY: Do you have a business philosophy you stand by?
KM: To have a growth mindset. Personally, I am inspired by a particular photo that Jack Ma took before Alibaba with his fellow group of teachers who became his co-founders at Alibaba. Watching their transition from teachers to running one of the world’s largest companies has inspired us to grow with our people.
AA: “Fail fast and fail forward”. In the social media industry, things change super fast. Keeping this thought is how we can ensure that we are always ahead of the game.
GY: Share your most recent elevator pitch.
KM: In 2019 we spotted a blue moon event that would give birth to a new generation of digital creators – the rise of TikTok. We pivoted our business from being content creators to being a platform for digital creators to learn and work together with us.
AA: In the early days, very few people could make money out of being creators. With TikTok, we went on a massive exercise to build a new company and a new network, so these content creators could continue entertaining people.
GY: Who would you like to dine with if you could pick anyone in the world?
KM: Probably Kobe Bryant. He’s no longer around, but his work ethic, his values and the way he sees the world is extremely inspiring.
AA: Sir Alex Ferguson. He is one of those legends. He’s managed to build three, four successful teams over a period of 10, 15 years; I’d want to ask him how do you build a team, tear it down, build it again and still continue success! I think that is truly amazing and something I can learn from him.