A New Adventure – Fluff Bakery KL

Yesterday we opened the doors of Fluff Bakery KL for the first time to customers as part of our trial run. Alhamdullilah it was met with great response. It’s humbling to see how much support we get from our friends, family and the public in bringing this cupcake shop to life, bringing them from Jln Pisang in Singapore to Jln Tun Mohd Fuad 2 in TTDI, KL!


Fluff Bakery KL is led by 5 entrepreneurs – Syaira & Ashraf (Mrs & Mr Fluff respectively), Nina, Alia and myself. 

I wrote before how in the many things I learnt being an F&B entrepreneur, one of it is that you should have multiple partners to manage the workload. This venture is a validation of that – 5 entrepreneurs with varying business experience with complementing knowledge of business and networks working together.



I long believe that you should be conscious of learning something new everyday. That is how you know you’ve made the most of your day. Any entrepreneur who have had a physical shop will tell you they will have wish lists for their next shop – most likely lessons learnt from kinks from the first shop! Fluff KL is it for me – a second shop where I am able to make sure things work better, aesthetically and most importantly operationally. 



I once told Alia that as a fellow Taman Tun boy, I would love to have my next shop in TTDI and it’s with great satisfaction that I am able to open Fluff in TTDI!

It’s been a great journey getting the shop from bare to what it is today. Thank you for the support, from the pop ups to our first shop sale and we are excited to be able to fully open to the public! See you then and do say Hi when you come 🙂

A New Adventure – Fluff Bakery KL

Answered Prayers


Ramadan is a time when all of us would be making doa more frequent than usual, more detailed than usual. In your many doa, how do you know it has been answered? You pray for work success but how do you know Allah’s plan for your success is the same thing you consider to be inconvenient now. You pray for good academic results but how do you know you not getting your targeted results is a door to greater successes?

I recently watched a lecture on the power of doa and it made reference to the story of Nabi Musa A.S, as mentioned in surah al-Qasas ayat 24-27. The story told of how during one of his visits to town, he accidentally killed an officer from the ruling class. That incident made him a wanted man, despite him being affiliated to the Pharoah’s household. He escaped Egypt immediately and had to traverse uncomfortable desert conditions with little provisions. He happened upon a well and he saw two girls, holding back their herd of animals from running towards the water. He asked them, “what are you doing?” The girls tell him the area near the water is populated with men, that the girls’ father is old and that the men rudely call out to the girls when they come so they have to wait till the men leave before they can bring their herd to drink. Musa told the girls that he would gladly help and brought the animals to drink on their behalf.

After he was finished, in the shade, he made doa to Allah, “My Lord, I am in need of whatever good you could send me”. The girls said their thanks and left only to later return and to invite him to meet their father. Musa had to the wisdom to realise this is Allah’s answer to his prayer, he said yes to meeting the girls’ father. What came to follow was that the father rewarded Musa with a roof on top of his head, a job and in realising his good character, marriage to his daughter. 

There are many lessons to be learnt from this story – one of which is having the wisdom to know the form Allah’s help appears. In our many doa this Ramadan, may we all also have to wisdom to recognise in what form our prayers are answered.

Answered Prayers

YCM CEO Series 67: Tan Sri Abdul Wahid Omar

For YCM’s 67th CEO Series, we had the privilege of hosting Tan Sri Abdul Wahid Omar, Chairman of PNB. 


I’ve hosted YCM many times enough to realise that different people resonate to different styles of leadership. I have learnt that the leadership style I admire is one steep in humility, decisiveness and a person of good moral character, evident in what one speaks about and how one reacts to things. To me, Tan Sri Wahid ticks many of these boxes and he is easily one of the corporate figures I admire. 

In his talk, Tan Sri spoke of his family background and shared his ambition and journey. He spoke about how he thinks the accounting profession is one of the more versatile professions in the corporate world and of his early ambition, to be a CFO in a listed company. He fulfilled this ambition at age 37. 



Tan Sri shared his lessons learnt in personal leadership, corporate leadership and management. These principles I believe, make for great personal reflection regardless of where you are in your career, a young executive, middle manager or even a CEO:



Tan Sri’s advice on personal leadership is something all of us can reflect on and I echo his points on need to be articulate, need for leaders to go to the ground (“gone are the days CEO can just tell people what to do”), that you don’t need to be loud to be heard and that you should focus on doing a good job on your tasks and not worry about your next career move – your reputation will precede you. Tan Sri’s lessons learnt on management principles are valuable reflections for both senior management and entrepreneurs/businessmen alike. 

As part of his presentation, Tan Sri reminded us of the importance of the Rukun Negara and he emphasized the last point of the Rukun, which is Kesopanan dan Kesusilaan, that we as Malaysians should remember we live a multiracial multireligious community and Good Behaviour and Morality is required of us. 


In his final words, Tan Sri imparted advice to the crowd in the form of six points. Of note, Tan Sri spoke of embracing the attribute of Integrity, Competency and Humility. Lastly, he spoke of the importance of gratitude and you should be grateful, especially to your parents.


It was an inspiring evening session with Tan Sri and I’m looking forward to see how he transforms PNB.

YCM CEO Series 67: Tan Sri Abdul Wahid Omar

What makes a good Malaysian CEO

I had a chat recently with my colleagues at Young Corporate Malaysians and we spoke about ‘what makes a great CEO?’ and ‘what makes a great CEO in Malaysia?’

I noticed immediately that one’s view and expectation of a CEO varies on what stage you are in your career (this observation shows that a good CEO needs to be many things – a different person to different staff groups. The common adjectives were mentioned: visionary, teamplayer, driver, empathic, timely decision maker, able to decide when to be what kind of person. 

I have worked for nine years and I’ve spent my nine years in three distinctly different types of organisation. I have worked in a global management consultancy, an entrepreneur set up headed by a Malaysian billionaire and also a Ministry of Finance owned government linked company. My understanding of what makes a great CEO comes from my experience in these companies.

To me, one attribute not mentioned often enough when talking about the context of Malaysian leadership is this – that to be a good CEO you need to be an effective lobbyist. An effective lobbyist is defined by having a good degree of influence on private sector leaders and a real access to political leadership (I say ‘real’ because many GLC CEOs can say that in their company structure leading civil servants or ministers are board members but in actual fact, he/she doesn’t have the relationship to pick up their phone to call the person to push ideas). Malaysia is a country where the balance tilts in the favour of who-you-know over what-you-know. CEOs of multinationals in Malaysia and private Malaysian companies alike need to be effective lobbyists to be able to cut through red tapes and participate in lucrative government opportunities. CEOs of GLCs need to be effective lobbyists to drive ‘transformation’ (the popular word now) and drive results. 

Too often I see GLCs hire smart individuals – those with the right work experience and academic grounding but with very little influence. CEOs such as these are able to craft, or sit with consultants to craft frameworks, ideas and envision a transformational change but after paying millions of dollars to consultants to craft these, the CEO is not able to access political leaders to present these great ideas and influence it to execution or not having access to other private ‘big boys’ to finance it. 

If a CEO does not have this influence, he or she is no better than a manager. I often stress to young corporates that I meet, value your professional relationship and that you will never know who can be of help to you. The cost of keeping in touch is low – it comes in the form of sending a text or card during major holidays (Raya, Chinese New Year, New Year). This simple gesture goes a long way and may benefit your career in the long run. 

What makes a good Malaysian CEO

6 things I learned after 2 years as an F&B entrepreneur

I became an F&B entrepreneur slightly over 2 years ago, when my wife and I decided to open Double A Cafe. 


As an introduction, my experience in F&B are with cafes – dealing with coffee, cakes and hot kitchen. Cafes are increasingly becoming popular here in KL, you hear a new one opening almost every month. Owning a cafe is exhilarating and it’s like street-cred, it’s the new cool. What people don’t tell you is that, if you are small business with limited cash and you plan to be hands on, owning a cafe involves being exhausted a lot (imagine being on your feet for 10 hours a day for 6 days a week). It is your passion that will drive and sustain you. What people don’t tell you is that while new cafes open every month, cafes close down every month too. If you plan to open a cafe because you want to create a hang-out spot for your guys or you want to look cool and not because you have a genuine love for coffee or cooking, my advise is: Don’t Open A Cafe. 

Here it is, six things I learnt: 

1. Buy things second hand. Some things you can upgrade.

For a small business where cash is limited, you need to be aware that cafe business requires somewhat large capital (a good estimate of a set up cost of a cafe in a shop-lot would be ~RM250,000). Because many cafes close down on a monthly basis, always be on the look for good bargains for equipment. Coffee and kitchen equipment have a lifespan of 5-10 years and many cafes don’t get far past their 1 year mark before closing down hence equipment should be in good condition. Often, when cafes close down, you can get bargains of up to 50%. 

In Malaysia, you can find bargains in Mudah.my (search for Coffee Machine) or on the Facebook groups Barista Club Asia or Malaysian Chef Connection for notice of cafe closure.

2. Don’t rent a place thinking it will boom. It is better to rent in a mature area with proven traffic. 

Rent will make up a significant portion of your monthly fixed cost. It is tempting to tell yourself to rent at a relatively new area as it has a slightly lower rent and telling yourself it will be a matter of time before this place will boom (the common lies you will tell yourself include thinking occupancy of condos above are picking up, your shop is near LRT/MRT etc). My advice is to not fall into this trap – yes perhaps the place will boom but you won’t know if it takes 6 months or 6 years and you won’t last that long. It is better to pay RM10k rent for a mature area with strong purchasing power for your products than going to A new development and paying RM7k. The absence of traffic will kill you. 

3. Don’t rely on traffic as a revenue. Supply. 

Relying solely on foot traffic is one major reasons why many cafes fail. Traffic is unpredictable and the cafe game is a volume game – if any given day you have no traffic, you make no revenue and you are still paying for staff with low productivity. Whatever it is you choose to be known for, may it be coffee, cakes or food, create a new revenue stream by supplying – you can get a head start marketing this by having a good social media account. Getting your staff out to deliver to nearby offices makes more money than them just sitting in the shop. 

4. Work on your marketing early. Build social media influence.

Unless your cafe is situated in a heavy traffic area, it is a good idea for you to work on your social media presence early – even before you construct your shop. Malaysians are heavy users of Facebook and Instagram and these platforms play a big role in influencing customers / foodies to come to your shop. If it’s possible to get some, endorsements by instafamous folks will carry a long way. 

5. Sometimes, putting yourself in your staff’ shoes is not a good idea. Someone needs to clean the grease trap.

F&B is a physically demanding job – it involves a lot of standing, discipline to come in on time and doing the kind of cleaning that you usually don’t do at home (like cleaning the coveted grease trap). One trap I see many owners fall into is letting things slide with their staff – the ‘kesian’ mindset. You may think you are practising empathy when you tell yourself, wow they work this much and get paid so little, let’s not be so hard on them – empathy has a time and place and this is not one of it. Your business is not a charity, it needs to make money and people must do what you expect of them for your business to thrive. Yes you will have rebellious staff who do not want to do what they are told – my advice is one bad apple spoils the vibe for everyone. In a small business where many legal aspects are not well understood by staff, it is a good idea to explain to your young staff the grounds for you to terminate them and do not be afraid to issue warning letters and firing them.

On that note, F&B is the kind of business where you should trust in your hiring instinct and give trust to your staff first, until they break it. Else you will be checking the cctv every 10 minutes. People have the capacity to perform and impress you given the right conditions. 


6. Have multiple partners. Having 50% in a successful business is better than 100% of a failing business.

As much as you are passionate for your cafe business, you still want to have a life outside it. Putting “everything you got” for something like a cafe, where returns are not guaranteed, is not a good idea – both in regards to time and money. It is much better if you can find partners and friends to do this with you. If you have 5 partners, what this means is you spend 1/5th of the expenditure and if you negotiate right with your partners, you work 2 days a week and not 6 or 7 days a week full shift. It is better to have a small share of a successful business (and retaining your sanity) as opposed to full ownership of a failing business. If you are telling yourself on the get-go “I have a good idea for a cafe and I don’t want to share the profits of this brilliant idea”, tell yourself it’s all a big IF. 

As a final word, if you are set on having a cafe, it already means you are an entrepreneur which means you are driven. The key thing is to be prudent and execute. 

6 things I learned after 2 years as an F&B entrepreneur

8 Cafes to visit in Bangkok

The Bangkok cafe scene is thriving and if cafe hopping is on your to-do list while visiting the beautiful city, here are my recommendations:

Firstly, some general tips. A lot of the cafes are in the Phrom Pong, Thong Lor and Ekkamai area and the area is well serviced by the BTS. Traffic can greatly consume your time when moving around Bangkok by car hence I recommend familiarising yourself with BTS and staying at a hotel near one.

Because we can only eat so much in a day, I recommend exploring by districts as it’s much easier. My district hop recommendations:

Phrom Pong – EmQuartier is connected to Phrom Pong BTS. The high end mall is home to Roast, D’Ark and Vanilla Cafeteria.

Thong Lor – Audrey Cafe, After You and The Commons

Ekkamai – Phil Coffee Company, Ink & Lion, Kaizen Coffee Company

As a note to coffee drinkers, Thailand grow their own specialty coffee beans and many cafes try to showcase these local specialty grade beans. If you are looking for new coffee experiences, do ask the servers what’s being served (either espresso or filter) and look out for Thai beans.


1. Roast (nearest BTS: Phrom Pong & Ekkamai)

Roast is a must go when you are in Bangkok. They currently have 2 outlets, one in EmQuartier and another in the uber-hip The Commons. The EmQuartier branch is easily acccessible by BTS as the mall is connected to the BTS. The Commons is about 15 mins walk from Thong Lor BTS and Roast is on the top floor. While the menu is the same and while EmQuartier is more accessible, The Commons is where the cool and the hip hang out, which should be on your list.

I tried both the brunch and dinner menu and both are great. Coffee is from Roots Coffee and filter beans include beans from Thailand.


2. D’Ark by Philip di Bella

D’Ark was listed as one of the top cafes in Bangkok in 2016 by Thailand Tatler. Located in EmQuartier on the Ground floor. I had brunch here and it’s interesting to see poached eggs done with a slightly harder yolk – it’s great nonetheless.


3. Vanilla Cafeteria (nearest BTS: Phrom Pong)

Located in EmQuartier, Vanilla Cafeteria’s range of dessert is superb and definitely made to share. My recommendation is the Chocolate Nutella Crepe – a large chocolate crepe stuffed with vanilla ice cream, cream and fruits. The crepe itself is delicious and the filling and portion is a bonus.


4. Audrey Cafe (Thong Lor)

Audrey Cafe is a Audrey Hepburn inspired cafe and my recommendation is to visit the one in Thong Lor. The decor is very Breakfast at Tiffany’s, with splashes of mint green and decor reminiscent of that era.

Audrey Cafe does both Western and Thai dishes and I always find a fusion of the two particularly interesting to try. I had Tom Yum Spaghetti at quite a number of venues while I was in Bangkok and to me, Audrey Cafe does it best.


5. After You (Thong Lor)

After You is a dessert cafe and it’s been around since 2007. There’s quite a number of outlets but my recommendation is the one in Thong Lor as it’s situated very near The Commons and Audrey Cafe. What originally made the shop famous is its Shibuya Honey Toast – fluffy thick sweet toast served with two scoops of vanilla ice cream and rich amounts of honey – I recommend that. As a dessert, the Shibuya Honey Toast has a balanced sweetness which allows you to eat one bite after another non stop. Another recommendation is the Mango Kakigori.


6. Phil Coffee Company (Ekkamai)

Phil Coffee Company is in the Ekkamai area and it’s located among houses. It’s a 10 minutes walk from the Ekkamai BTS. They roast their own beans and coffee is generally good – I had the ice cappuccino and the beans I was served had clear chocolatey nutty tasting notes. A surprisingly satisfying drink it’s their Watermelon Bubblegum Soda, after the 10 minute walk to get to the shop, this drink is a definite thirst quencher.

7. Kaizen Coffee Company (Ekkamai)

My personal favourite. Kaizen is located in Ekkamai and it’s quite a walk from the Ekkamai BTS – my recommendation is if you are just going to Kaizen, take uber.

I always assess a coffee shop or cafe by its range and quality of product, vibe and customer service and Kaizen excel in all. Floor staff are super friendly, they engage (and speak good English) and make great recommendation. I had nitro coffee there and it’s the best nitro I’ve ever had.

8. Greyhound Cafe

Greyhound is among the pioneer of the Bangkok cafes and it’s well established – you can find a Greyhound in most major malls (EmQuartier, Central World, JAvenue).

8 Cafes to visit in Bangkok

Sabar & Shukur

Some years ago I attended an event organised by Frost & Sullivan in Nusajaya. It was the kind of event where they invited CEOs from various organisation, both multinationals and GLC, to speak. As part of the itinerary, they had a one on one session with Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar, the Managing Director of Khazanah Nasional Berhad. The interviewer was one of the global heads of Frost & Sullivan and one question (and it’s answer) stuck with me. 

The question was, “what are the attributes of a person you value most?”.

I’ve attended many speaker sessions such as this and this sounds like a typical question where answers range from the need to be charismatic, visionary, driven, leading by example and the sort.

Tan Sri’s answer to the interviewer, who was a foreigner mat salleh, was “there are two qualities which I believe are important for a leader, that is Sabar and Shukur”. I remember telling myself, “wow, I’ve didn’t expect that”. He went on to explain to the crowd what Sabar and Shukur means, patience and gratitude respectively, and why it is important any person has them.

It always impresses me when a veteran leader, corporate or otherwise, emphasises the importance of good moral and religious values, which I consider patience and the need to be grateful to be. I remember it was sometime shortly before the talk that I read Surah Ibrahim, Ayat 7, where Allah promised:

“And remember when Lord proclaimed, if you are grateful, I will surely increase you; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe”

I often feel in selected industries in corporate Malaysia, piety is absent and to show you have it is unfavourable. It’s refreshing for me to see at least one leading corporate leader to believe in these values.

Sabar & Shukur