I was once invited to Singapore Polytechnic to address a business class and talk about Corporate Finance. It was a talk that was supposed to show or demonstrate how companies raise money through public listings. I did sense that the topic was going dry and it was really a bunch of students who already knew what I was talking about. As such, I stopped the talk midway and asked if the students would prefer a Q and A and not see the rest of my slides. To my surprise, they all raised their hands and agreed to my suggestion. And the number one question on everyone’s lips – “How do you find deals?” And “How do you close them?”
It was a question I was a little unprepared for because I had no slides to support this question.
Indeed, I was caught a little flat footed but as I summoned my confidence to speak and it came out quite naturally.
I said it all boiled down to one word – Luck. Before someone accuses me of copying Doug Leonie from Sequoia Partners in his talk to the Stanford Business School graduating class, I made my talk more than 5 years ago. While I may not be able to hold a candle to Doug on his deal closing and fund-raising, I could hold my head and say the world is big enough for opportunities to come and in all shapes and sizes. But in an old cliché – luck favors the prepared and the ready. Ronaldo always knew that when he should stick his leg out, where the ball will go to better positioned himself to strike a goal. Be at the right place at the right time.
Getting prepared means you had to know your facts, your domain knowledge or at least know where and how to get it. Being widely read and widely connected were also components of being ready. Being a genius helps but if you’re not a genius (I certainly wasn’t) then it helps to know who the geniuses are and where they usually hang out. Go and connect with them. Nurturing your circle and practicing top EQ techniques in that circle will certainly give you an edge.
Looking for deals is about fishing in the right ocean. If you are looking for a Great White, then you’d probably want to be somewhere near the Great Barrier Reef. If you are looking for small fish and plenty of them then the Straits of Malacca will do but look out for pirates. Having identified your fishing spot, all you need is to equip yourself with knowledge and tools to do your fishing. (You can’t catch tuna without a proper fishing rod, right?) Hang out in the right places and be ready.
I am hard pressed to name the deals I have struck due to privacy and confidentiality concerns, but I have closed my fair share of deals. Debt or equity. PE or VC. Project or Specifics. Demand and Supply. Derivative or Structures. It’s a rich gamut.
Luck is all about being ready and sticking out your foot at the right time. Be thankful for education especially one that teaches you to read well and speak well and ultimately relate well.
To conclude, you only need to take home one thing and that will make your day or your deal – “Right place, right time, right words and right people”
About The Article Contributor
Mr. Chiang Kwok Shong has a life-time experience in banking, private equity, FMCG and fund management. A coach certified by Marshall Goldsmith SCC, Kwok Shong brings a new skill to his people-centred and humorous style of supporting CEOs and corporate leaders to perform at their best. Kwok Shong is now an Executive Director for CYC Company, a famous tailor in Singapore. He received his Bachelor of Commerce from The University of Alberta in 1984 and recently received his certification with the Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching in 2014.