International House Council member Howard Khoo recently published his first book, Street Kung-Fu: Street Wisdom of Successful Businesses (Kanyin Publications, 2017). Howard Khoo studied architecture at the University of Melbourne and was a resident of International House from 1976 to 1978. On returning to Malaysia with his wife Oi Meng, he worked as an architectural planner before buying into his father-in-law’s textile company and beginning his business career.
Howard Khoo’s book describes some of his experiences throughout his career as a businessman. It serves as a motivational guide to aspiring entrepreneurs, and includes tactics that can be used to steer a business to success in the competitive world today. The book includes many ‘real-life’ examples drawing on Mr Khoo’s more than thirty years of experience.
Chapters in the book cover teamwork, collaboration with industry partners, staff contentment, learning from mistakes and customer loyalty. I was interested to read Mr Khoo’s comments on respecting both creditors and debtors, where appreciating both is vital to the success of the entire business venture: ‘Successful business owners always choose to willingly pay for all common events and social gatherings, whether those in attendance are clients or creditors. These costs are but small tokens compared to the benefits received from treating everyone with equal respect.’ (p. 315).
The term “Kung-Fu” refers to the mastery of any art form; business, trade or other useful skills in Chinese culture. In this context, it refers to the mastery of the art of business using street wisdom. The Chinese context is important due to the widely recognised culture of thriving businesses in China.
While this book may detail Mr Khoo’s experiences, in order to be successful, the most important ingredient for aspiring entrepreneurs is to gain practical experience. To attain true success in business or life, “it isn’t just about what you accomplish, it’s about what you inspire others to do.”
Mr Khoo has donated two copies of his book to the International House Library so that current and future residents can continue to benefit from his insights.
Reviewed by Nicholas Ang (IH undergraduate resident)