Alumnus Chong Cho Lam (Class of 2003, B.A. in Chinese Language and Literature) had a dream of promoting music from Macau to the world and had always been active in music performance since his college days. In facing the dilemma of applying for a normal job or chasing a dream, Alumnus Chong had made a choice that few people would choose ─ to continue pursuing his dream. However, time proved his decision was right as Macau’s entertainment industry has gradually flourished after 14 years of ups and downs. His perseverance in chasing his musical dream and faith in his vision have taken him from one member of a small team to a pioneer in the industry.
Dreams Are the Motivation to Keep Moving Forward
A turning point for Alumnus Chong came in 2001. He replaced the college singing contest, which had been a custom at UM for more than 20 years, with the first ever songwriting contest. He and his partners undertook the project of organizing the anniversary of local telecommunications operators and in doing so earned their first commission. From that point on, the desire to run a business started to grow in him. Together with another two partners, UM alumnus Che Fok Sang (Class of 2002, B.S.S in Contemporary China Studies) and Terence Tsui, Alumnus Chong founded “Chessman Macau”, which provides stage entertainment production, artist management as well as film and video production. They started with the ambition to raise the profile of Macau-composed songs and music among Chinese communities all over the world and create a new market internationally. Alumnus Chong sincerely admits that he was hesitant and struggled at the very beginning of the business and he lived in debt for a period of time. But to him, tough times are a test of your perseverance as well as your faith in your dream.
Adhere to the “Be-Do-Have” Theory and to the Spirit of Enduring Hardships
Having majored in Chinese language and literature, Alumnus Chong has maintained the habit of reading since college because he believes reading helps to enhance analytical ability. He encourages young students to read different kinds of books to acquire knowledge. In virtue of the lessons learned from reading and those years of business experience, Alumnus Chong has formulated two secrets leading to success. They are the “Be-Do-Have” theory and the spirit of enduring hardship.
Alumnus Chong believes that you can strike on to overcome all obstacles only if you choose to believe firmly that you are going to be the person you desire to be. He says, “Most people think according to the ‘Have-Do-Be’ theory. That is, most of us think we need to ‘have’ certain things (like money), and work hard to ‘do’ something (like starting a business) so that we will ‘be’ what we truly want in life. But it works the other way around: ‘Be-Do-Have’. We should decide what we want to ‘be’ and then ‘do’ the right things and finally, we will get what we want to ‘have’.”
However, after successfully starting your own business, the trials are just about to begin. Alumnus Chong admits that a lot of people tend to have an optimistic illusion about the nature of success and many are beaten up by the truth. He shared some observations from readings he has done about the cruel reality of joining the ranks of entrepreneurs: “Firstly, we should have a basic concept of pursuing our wealth for a lifetime. If a person can expect 600 months’ salary in the course of his life, he would earn around MOP 30 million with a normal monthly salary of MOP 50,000. If you choose to start your own business, you could have a chance to earn more than this amount. According to statistics, 50% of new companies will go bankrupt within one year; 80% will be out of business within five years and 98% do not celebrate their 10th anniversary. The survival rate is about 2%. That means, before achieving success in your business, you are more likely to live on the bread line for at least 60 months, or even 100 months. If you are not prepared to tighten your belt for the following 5 years, then you probably shouldn’t expect your wealth to be more than the figure mentioned before.” Therefore, besides a business plan, resources, execution and luck, the enduring spirit in facing any challenges is also an important part of a successful business.
A Theory of Running a Business: “Freedom”, “Trust” & “Delegation”
Alumnus Chong was invited to be the first alumni speaker for the “UM Student Convocation 2015” to share his experiences with nearly 2,000 new students. He said that college life gave him courage and passion to pursue his dream. He believes in the saying that “Good results are often the fruit of the right environment.” At the convocation, he said, “UM prepares students for future challenges by providing a learning environment that encourages freedom of thought, creativity, and entrepreneurial spirit. These all go to help students to nurture their dreams.” “Freedom”, “Trust” and “Delegation” are the key components of the Chessman theory of running a business. He says, “Being a leader, it is important to fully trust, support and delegate to staff. Of course, there is the chance that they will make mistakes along the way but helping them to improve their weakness can help to develop their potential. In addition, we have also introduced a ‘Limited Liability Partnership’. To staff who demonstrate responsibility, leadership and the same values, the company will grant stock for the company branch, allowing them to run the business and thus encouraging employees’ engagement and prolonging the company’s culture. ”
Today, Chessman has developed from a three-man team to a cooperative endeavour of over one hundred employees. In view of company development, Alumnus Chong says, “It’s time for me to cultivate another new world.” The year 2014 was another turning point in his life. Chessman set up its branch office in Hong Kong and entered the Greater China Market. In the same year, he was awarded the “Business Awards of Macau 2014 – Young Entrepreneur Excellence Award,” recognition from the business and commercial sectors of his success as an entrepreneur. From dream envisioner to successful entrepreneur, Chong Cho Lam serves as a perfect model.