Tan Min-Liang--laughing over spilt milk

Tan Min-Liang, CEO of online IT store SiliconHorizon.com, thrives on the twists and turns of the IT business world, calling the onslaught of challenges and tasks thrown at him "an exhilarating ride."
Written by Ariel Tam, Contributor on
Tan Min-Liang

Tan Min-Liang, CEO of online IT store SiliconHorizon.com, thrives on the topsy turvy twists and turns of the IT business world. In an interview with ZDNet Asia, the 24 year-old law undergraduate and self-professed computer gaming fanatic said that the constant barrage of information, the onslaught of challenges and tasks thrown at him and the sheer pace of the industry is "an exhilarating ride" that makes him feel like he's "surfing on a wave of adrenaline."

Read more about the sprightly upstart and his thoughts on humor, business relationships, and communication technologies.

Tell us how you've contributed to the IT industry.
I'd like to believe that we've managed to contribute to the regional industry by spearheading the B2C e-commerce movement here. The IT industry's pretty huge and since I'll be moving into the legal arena to practise, I certainly hope my experience on both sides of the spectrum will allow me to contribute from a legal perspective tempered with my limited scope of the IT industry.

How do you define success? Do you consider yourself to be successful?
Success? I'd define it as a state of mind in which one is satisfied with his/her state of mind. I don't consider myself to be successful, and I really doubt if I ever will.

What wouldn’t you compromise on when it comes to doing business?
Integrity and honesty in business is the single most important facet any human being must have. This is one single aspect that cannot be compromised, even in the face of adversity. It's the same integrity that will lose you that one client, but bring you many more in the future.

Do you think technology isolates people or brings people closer together?
I think it has made the world a lot smaller, and a lot busier. It's a trade off, ultimately it's up to the individual rather than technology. I find myself emailing my siblings even though we're living under the same roof, what's more, we email each other when we're just a door away. Well, the saving grace is that we actually communicate, be it in one way or another.

What kind of mindset do you think is needed to survive in this digital age?
Having a sense of humor is pretty important to keep sane in this world I guess. Sometimes when you get so caught up with everything, problems look larger than life in the business world and it's exacerbated by the incessant pace of the IT industry. Having a sense of humor and laughing over spilt milk is pretty much the only way I've managed to keep sane.

We have more tools, better technology, but less time. What happened?
Let me e-mail you that answer when I have the time. Or SMS you. Or...

Which aspect(s) of the Asian culture do you think makes for a good or bad business edge in the international IT market?
I think the emphasis on relationships or "guanxi" is an integral part of Chinese if not Asian culture. And it's both a boon and bane to business, be it in the IT industry or otherwise. But it's this self same "guanxi" that I really appreciate in business relationships that I make in this part of the world. There's a certain amount of blind faith in your partners, an insurmountable trust in them. And it's this same blind loyalty that very probably hinders a lot of economically sound decisions, decisions that any normal business person would make but are not done due to the fact that there's some existing business relationship or other with another party.

Which gadget is on your most wanted list?
The problem with being a distributor of gadgets is that you tend to splurge on them without really thinking about the cost. I have about everything I want right now, maybe except a massage chair(which doesn't really count as a gadget but what the heck). So it's a massage chair. Final answer.

Any favorite Web sites?
Can I say www.siliconhorizon.com? Well other than that, I go f*#dcompany.com a lot for some laughs, CNET/ZDNet for the tech news, AsiaOne for the local news. Other than that it's the financial sites, online brokerages...

What's your favorite Internet-related acronym?
GIGO: Garbage In Garbage Out.

What do you do to de-stress?
I work I guess. It's about the only thing I really enjoy. Can't say I find anything else as fun as working. I guess I do go clubbing when I can, and as for sports, I sail and play a little pool. I play loads of computer games though, but that's under the guise that I'm testing out the hardware.

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