Den Fujita, Robert Kuok, and Nick Leeson
Lessons and Insights
How goes it? In case you’ve missed ‘em, I’ll wrap up the past month on the Allocators Asia YouTube channel. Three new videos that I promise you’ll enjoy!
This video wasn’t meant to be released for another week but this thread on Den was absolutely pumping so I tried to ride that wave of popularity. But like an absolute grommet, I wiped out. Ah well, ya win some ya lose some. Anyway, who is Den Fujita?
Den Fujita was an ambitious entrepreneur who spent his life introducing global brands and products to Japan. The founder of McDonald's Japan, he helped adjust and improve their franchise strategy, when the model was only in its infancy.
Some insights, lessons and takeaways from Den’s story:
Born in 1926 in Osaka, Japan. Grew up during World War II, where he lost his father and 2 sisters. Despite this, he still went on to attend law school at the University of Tokyo, one of the country's most prestigious universities.
Whilst still a student, he started working as an interpreter for the American occupation forces at the General Headquarters, in Tokyo.
Started his own company at Uni to import foreign goods, focusing on high-end fashion brands. At one point he was the exclusive importer for Dior in Japan and the largest commercial buyer of Dior handbags globally.
Famous for helping make McDonald’s in Japan what it is today. You’ll have to watch the video for more details ;)
“the truth is that when we [McDonald’s] came here there were not a lot of people who could maneuver through the bureaucracy. He [Den] really knew how to do that. His rare quality is that he can bridge the two cultures."
- James Cantalupo, President of McDonald's International
Special shoutout to Frederik Gieschen from Insecurity Analysis who graciously allowed me to turn his awesome Substack post on Den into a video!
Robert Kuok is Malaysia’s richest man and one of the most influential within the ASEAN region. But it wasn’t smooth sailing to the top. Robert Kuok’s story is one of hard work, greed, and a little corruption sprinkled in.
Some insights, lessons and takeaways from Robert’s story:
Grew up tough. Suffered through the Great Depression, the Japanese invasion of British Malaya in WWII, and his father was a womaniser, a gambler and an opium addict.
Was no star student, but made connections and worked on his social skills. Loved a side hustle and loved to work.
Started his own company with his three brothers. Over time, invested heavily in sugar refineries, at one time controlling 80% of the Malaysian sugar market, and earned the nickname "Sugar King of Asia".
Current business interests include (but certainly ain’t limited to) sugar refineries, flour milling, hotels (Shangri-La), property, trading, and freight (Kerry Logistics). See the video for more!
“I knew that I had what was needed to be a businessman, like a duck taking to water. I am a very focused person. When I do something, I want to do it well.”
- Robert Kuok
This video was also a collab! This time with Asian Century Stocks, who let me make a video about their profile of Robert Kuok. Keen to work with Michael again in the future so state tuned for future collabs ;)
An absolute nuffy of the highest degree. Nick Leeson is living proof that souls undergo reincarnation, because no one can be this stupid in one lifetime. Ok, maybe a little harsh, but bloody hell:
Denied a broker's licence in the UK because he commits fraud on his application, so goes to Singapore instead. Small red flag.
Makes unauthorised speculative trades at his new firm. Uses one of Barings' error accounts (accounts used to correct mistakes made in normal trading) to hide his losses. Absolute unit of a red flag.
Also uses Barings' error accounts to cover mistakes made by one of his traders who often rocks up to work after a long night of partying. By 1994, error accounts losses are £208 million. Red flag larger than my ego after looking in the mirror post gym sesh.
Flees Singapore and leaves a note saying, "I'm sorry". Losses total £827 million. (twice Barings' available trading capital!!!). Red flag so damn big that it collapses in on itself causing a black hole.
Straight to jail. Right away.
Whilst the above video is my own original work, it’s much shorter and way more meme-ier than others I’ve done. So it doesn’t deserve its own email. This video was a monster flop, but a valuable learning experience! Glad I tried it, but I won’t be making anything like this soon.
Ya know I gotta plug the Discord. You’ll get (for free mind you!):
previews of upcoming videos (and be able to suggest topics)
be a part of the process and help decide on thumbnails & titles
access to a group of extremely curious and passionate people :)
So what are ya waiting for!
Overall, a big month for the YouTube channel. The Li Lu video and post really took off after my last email which was surreal. With my latest two videos (Robert Kuok and Den Fujita), I feel my video editing skills are improving dramatically so I’m keen to keep this ball rolling and try new things.
Looking forward, you can expect a deep dive (+ video) on Tao Huabi (of Lao Gan Ma fame), the story of AirAsia, and the Gambling scene in Australia. Each of those will have its own emails sent out, as they’re original work by me :)
Overall, I’m incredibly grateful for the feedback and response the videos have received so far. And I’m keen to keep on improving and try new things. I move to Bali next month for a little bit, so flick me a message if ya in town. My shout.
Cheers a million - K
You can find previous posts here. I also interview legends at Compounding Curiosity and shitpost on Twitter @scarrottkalani.
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