This interview article was first published in Lianhe Zaobao on 05 March 2020.
Below is a translated version:
17 years ago, Patrick Cheo and Adam Khoo joined hands to build Adam Khoo Learning Technologies Group (AKLTG), a local education & training organisation. From a humble 2-man company, the Group has transformed into a full-fledged enterprise with over 100 staff strength and more than 20 million annual revenue.
Patrick Cheo revealed, “Our greatest success is probably that ever since Adam and I ventured into this business in our NUS Business School days, we have never quarrelled. We are very clear of our own roles and responsibilities and we do them to our best abilities.”
Indeed, Patrick and Adam take on clearly defined responsibilities in this business, balancing between “internal” and “external” roles. Patrick oversees the company’s finance, human resource, sales and operations, and focuses on regional business expansion in countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines. On the flipside, Adam serves as the company’s namesake and icon, promoting the brand through seminars, books and videos.
To Patrick, delivering an inspirational learning experience is key to transforming the public’s perception towards “motivational speakers”. “Our programmes cover investing and trading strategies, study skills and personal development strategies. These topics can be taught in a theoretical or boring manner, but we choose to teach in a way that touches people’s heart and inspire our participants to take action.”
“As digitalization becomes integral to everybody’s lives, learning preferences are rapidly evolving,” says Patrick. AKLTG believes in lifelong learning and offers a suite of online courses to cater to these shifting needs.
In 2019, AKLTG achieved the Enterprise 50 (E50) Award. Winning the prestigious award for the first time has boosted Patrick’s confidence in forging the company’s future. “Looking back on our business journey, our secret to success has always been ‘doing whatever it takes’,” he says.
He also shared his belief in prioritising the welfare of his employees. “There were periods when we had a cash crunch, but Adam and I were clear that the staff must be paid on time even if it meant us taking on personal loans. This has helped us to retain a lot of capable and loyal staff, many whom have been with us for over 10 years and helped us to grow from strength to strength each year.”
According to Patrick, one of his main motivations for overseas expansion is to challenge his employees and give them opportunities to explore and grow with the company. “Expansion also allows the company to have economies of scale and helps to increase overall profitability.”
Enterprise 50 Award winner, Adam Khoo,
shares his lessons on business, education and life.
When he first shared his idea of teaching financial lessons to a worldwide audience on YouTube, his friends chuckled. “No one is going to listen to an Asian guy talk about the U.S. markets,” they quipped.
Fast-forward to 2019, Adam Khoo is one of YouTube’s most-watched investment mentors with over 16 million views on his videos. His online trading school, Piranha Profits™, caters to students from 122 countries.
“What made you decide to start your YouTube channel?”
I was enjoying great success teaching my stock investing live programme Wealth Academy™ in Southeast Asia. As I approached my 40th birthday, I wanted to make the most of my time and help more people achieve their financial dreams. I set a goal of touching one million lives worldwide and YouTube’s global reach allows me to do just that.
People think I’m crazy for sharing so much great content for free online when other “gurus” charge high fees for the same knowledge. To me it’s all about delivering value. I’ve received thank-you messages from as far as Kenya and Canada. When I see how my video lessons have transformed people’s financial destiny, it becomes all worthwhile.
“What is your advice to businesses who are trying to grow their sales and following?”
When you give real value, when you’re sincere about helping people, they will come to you. My online trading school is a testament to that. Every day I have loads of people wanting to enrol for my courses after watching my YouTube videos.
Businesses need to understand that the old model of placing pushy ads doesn’t work so well anymore. New-age customers want to make informed buying decisions. They want to be educated and entertained. Content is king.
“Your company, Adam Khoo Learning Technologies Group, just won the Enterprise 50 Award. What is the secret to your business success?”
Two things: Innovation and people.
The ability to innovate and adapt to changes has kept my business thriving for the past 17 years.
My company is a pioneer in running educational seminars in Singapore — we reach over 100,000 people a year through our live trainings, school-based programmes, tuition classes and business coaching. But nowadays, more people prefer to learn online through videos and apps. So my team created new programmes to meet their learning needs.
For example, my school training arm makes use of gamification and video learning extensively in our workshops and this has received a roaring response from students.
The other key ingredient is my amazing team.
We would never have made it this far without the talent and hard work of our teammates. To build a great company, you must first take care of your people.
We invest heavily in our people. Every employee is given a generous learning budget to enrol in professional courses of their choice. As part of our family culture, we give a bonus to every employee who gets married or has a baby during their tenure with us.
My business partner, Patrick Cheo, regularly cooks delicacies like wagyu beef and crab beehoon for our staff and all these little gestures of appreciation raise our people’s morale.
“There are people who question the effectiveness of the courses you teach. What are your thoughts on this?”
I don’t blame them; it’s human nature to be doubtful about things you’re unfamiliar with. I choose to focus my energy on helping people who believe in what I have to offer. I just keep going and let my students’ results do the talking.
When I started my YouTube channel 3 years ago, no one believed that a nobody from Singapore could attract the viewership of the Western world.
Today, more than 70% of my viewers are from the U.S. and Europe and my videos are ranked at the top globally for stock, forex and options trading. Last year, I received the YouTube Silver Creator Award for garnering more than 100,000 subscribers.
So, don’t ever let anyone tell you that something is impossible until you have done it yourself.
(A version of this interview was first published on The Business Times.)