Colony Founder Timothy Tiah On How To Tame Your Inner Critic
Both a boon and a burden, doubt is a self-defence mechanism and a high hurdle to overcome in high-stakes decision-making. We asked Generation T lister Timothy Tiah how best to silence your biggest naysayer—yourself.
It was a series of coincidences including a Pussycat Dolls concert in London, a power lunch in Leicester Square, and the prospect of a roast duck dinner that got the wheels in Timothyʼs head whirring—thus was born Nuffnang, Asia Pacific’s leading blog advertising community, in 2007.
In 2017, the entrepreneur unveiled his second ‘big secret project’ by way of Colony, an all-new premium co-working space boasting luxurious amenities and services. Its two branches at Jalan Kia Peng (a stone’s throw from KLCC) and KL Eco City (in the vicinity of Mid Valley) mirror what 'offices of the future will look like,' enthused Tim. Comprising some fifteen members, the small but driven team strives to take Colony's conquest even further in the following years.
Below, the tricenarian tips us off on how to tame one's inner critic when experimenting with new endeavors.
Make Data-Driven Decisions & Get As Many Perspectives As Possible
"(Colony) is not like any other business where if things goes wrong, I just cut the cord and am done," explains Tim. "We had to go in and sign leases for periods spanning 15 years long. If we are wrong, we will pay for it in the span of 15 years. It's a big bet."
In order to quell any uncertainties, he turns to those around him. “I go about asking people from all walks of life, including public agents, ‘Hey, what do you think of this location?’ and we pair that with data to see if it gives us a realistic perspective."
Even then, things still boil down to luck and timing, hence the importance of having a Plan B: "Once you’ve made a decision, it’s no longer about whether you’re wrong or right, but if you’re wrong, how do you react? What will you do?"
A Little Bit of Ignorant Optimism Goes A Long Way
When asked if the success of Nuffnang boosted his confidence with Colony, Tim emits a hearty chuckle.
“When I had the idea for Nuffnang, I had doubts from friends who said, ’Nah, I don’t think anyone’s going to buy into this,’ but I didn’t really doubt myself. Maybe I was young and naïve. It’s really true what they say: as you get older, you get more risk-averse and become more closed to ideas."
Momentarily suffused in his thoughts, Tim voices the realisation: "We suffered from inexperienced, but we benefitted from ignorance.”
Survey Your Industry Successors And Contendors
Colony takes cue from inspiring co-working spaces around the globe, such as The Great Room in Singapore and NeueHouse in America. "The latter, a meeting place for celebrities and creatives, has branches in New York City, Los Angeles and most recently, Hollywood," says Tim. "If you google NeueHouse, it doesn’t look like a typical working space—that’s exactly what we wanted to achieve with Colony.”
According to Tim, the person we're meeting today is a changed man. A year-and-a-half ago, his priorities pivoted: he now eschews material objects in favour of meaningful relationships, and has learned to take things as they come.
“Consistent highs come from also having downs; the latter makes you appreciate the former. It was only after I left Nuffnang that I began to realise: neither positive nor negative experiences are bad, in a sense. The ups and downs we face are just a part of the process of getting somewhere. After all—success is essentially a whole long list of mistakes well-handled.”