Jason Lo on being a singer-songwriter turned CEO
By Danielle Sendou Ringgit
W hen Tan Sri Tony Fernandes first asked Jason Lo to join the AirAsia group and helm Tune Talk, Jason confessed that he did not know anything about mobile operations, to which the founder of AirAsia replied, “Well, I did not know anything about airplanes.”
“And then I thought, good point. So… never close that door that is open to you,” said Jason when he was speaking at the Administrative Professional Conference 2016 held at Pullman Hotel, Kuching recently.
Before he became Tune Talk’s chief executive officer (CEO) in 2007, you might remember Jason – also known as J Lo – as a Hitz.fm DJ or a TV talk show host on the show Latte@8 on 8TV in 2004.
In 2006, Jason collaborated with Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin on a sports reality TV show, ‘My team’, which went on a nationwide talent search for non-professional football players to be trained up for a climactic play against the national team.
Borneo Post SEEDS was lucky to spend some time with the musician-turned-DJ-turned-talk show host-turned producer-turned-CEO and talk about the learning curves and challenges in entrepreneurship.
From music to entrepreneurship
Having started off his career in the entertainment industry, the bubbly jean and T-shirt clad CEO feels that entrepreneurs and musicians actually have a lot in common.
“I think the basis of entrepreneurship is like being a musician because you have to create your own product. So, I have been doing it for all my life – since I was eight – when I wrote my first song,” said Jason, recalling the first song he wrote called ‘Don’t Stop Loving Me’.
“Before you start, you have to write a song, and for that you have to use your imagination. I think artist and musicians are acutely aware of their imaginative assets and they use it to the best of their ability. So that is a great preparation,” he explained.
He added that both professions involved inventing something new; that one has to be be creative and think outside the box as there are no right or wrong way in doing things – only different ways.
“Music trains you. It is a good training ground. I think anyone who is a musician, who looks to sell their work are basically selling themselves. So we are all selling something everyday.”
Mistake or Income?
When asked how he handled difficulties or mistakes along the way, Jason said that every mistake had to be taken positively and should be viewed as part of the learning curve rather than something to regret.
“When you look at the world as a glass being always full, half full of water and half full of air, then you do not look at these things as mistakes. You look at them as opportunities and learning curves,” he said.
He cited Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba who reportedly said that any mistake was the chance for wonderful revenue.
“At first I did not quite understand it. But slowly I understood clearly that mistakes are right away opportunities. Any upturn or downturn in the market is to be taken positively,” said Jason.
Customers and the importance in building a community
Having been the CEO for Tune Talk for almost 10 years now, Jason said that customers were a vital part in the whole equation and it was important to be constantly engaged with them.
“Engage. Engage. Engage. It is the only way we can let the customers know that we are serving them. And for the customers that we truly could not reach or attend to, I think we go through every length to sort anything for anybody because we are in the service sector, meaning that we have to serve,” said Jason.
“I think our engagement level are also about community building. And when you build community, I think you are much closer knit to them in ways that you can’t usually get if you do not get engage at the ground level with people.”
Youths in entrepreneurship
Jumpstarting a business can be tricky but for Jason, there was no such thing as ‘wanting to start’.
“You are always starting, you are always on. It is like you are on a pill of life and ideas drive you,” he said, adding that it was important to always be true to yourself and be ethical no matter the situation.
“I think the best thing is to be kind and courteous, do not be rash or unethical. You need that strong principal when you are and entrepreneur because what you do or the outcome of what you do will all come back to you, whether you do a good or bad job,” advised Jason.