“Patience has always been my biggest character trait” – Chef Dato Fazley Yaakob shares his perspective on leadership.

Which is one of your most defining moments in life?

My life changed for me twice; once when I graduated with my first degree as a scholarship student from New Zealand. It opened many doors for me in life and in business. All of my good friends and all the opportunities I have received as a working adult all sprouted from my days back in university. Secondly, when I won Master Chef Celebrity Malaysia in 2012, I was already an entertainer, known more for my music and acting. It took a very sharp turn when I became the champion and it gave me a big boost in every aspect of my life and career. These two turning points literally defined my life so far, on top of getting married to my lovely wife, having 4 children and many other God's gifts to me. 

Who do you admire the most?

I’ve always been a big fan of Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad as I’ve been acquainted with him and his family since a very young age. When I got the chance to work with him for a period of more than 10 years together, it was not only a dream come true but also a daily lecture in business, leadership, and people skills. 

What is your strongest personal quality?

Patience has always been my biggest character trait.

Who inspired you to push through rough patches?

My mother, Datin Umi Kalsom, has always been my biggest cheerleader, supporting every single thing that I’ve wanted to do in business and entertainment. Even when the idea didn’t seem to fall through with other people in my circles, she always knew I could make it work and it always did.

What does a perfect day look like?

Lunch or dinner with my kids is always a bonus as I’m always on the move. It’s a perfect day when I get some matcha latte and hang out with my wife and children. Could be at home or at the movies. I always treasure my leisure time as I do not have many opportunities to do so.

What would you like to share your thoughts with your followers?

In life, it's easy to plan and it's even easier to dream and fantasize about our goals in life and in business; whether it's about making healthier food choices or starting a coffee shop. The hardest thing to do is to take the first step away from the drawing board and notepad and start working with the real world on how to materialize this ambition. You must maintain the same discipline, perseverance, and patience to all aspects of building this dream, and not only on the ones that are easy to do. Don't fear failure. Get up and try again. Only then, you will know how truly sweet success is. 

How would you like to contribute to unite Asia?

On the contrast to having our children learn to speak, read and write Mandarin to have a better future with China and Chinese-speaking countries emerging as economic giants, I also believe we must have our children be effective in Malay language. Countries like Indonesia, Singapore and Brunei are our direct neighbours as our understanding of culture, consumption of food, commerce and entertainment are so similar. It would be a great waste to not focus on them as a priority as audiences, consumers and most importantly, alliances. We must reach out and work together.

Dato Fazley Yaakob

Chef, Malaysia.

Do you describe yourself as a natural leader?

As the firstborn amongst my siblings, I was already groomed to be a leader in my family at a very young age. My late father was also the alpha type and was a great leader in all his businesses. Most importantly, he taught me to be kind, patient with everyone, no matter who. That is most important in a leader. 

What do you feel most proud about?

I am most proud of my upbringing, where my parents came from very humble backgrounds and even after they got married and had me as their first child, they both had to work hard to make ends meet. Although this is not the case anymore after my late father succeeded as a businessman and my siblings were born to a much better environment. They still taught us that money is not everything and that our priority is always to commit to the family, no matter the time of day, no matter what our situation is. Cash is not king at all, love is. I am most proud that I understand and prioritize this above everything.