Christopher Tay believes in the power of connections. The entrepreneur and managing director of ThinkFarm, a bespoke content marketing and creative solutions company, welcomes all kinds of opportunities, which is why we both found ourselves in Tay’s new Toyota Harrier Hybrid for a long, winding ride to talk about life and business.
Kindness is a way of life
Tay grew up in a 3-room HDB flat at Circuit Road. “We were neither poor nor rich, we just had enough,” he reminisces. Still, that didn’t stop Tay’s parents from always giving within their means to help those in need, whether it was buying a cup of coffee for a stranger or giving a smile to someone on the street.
“It costs us nothing to be kind. A little act of kindness creates an endless ripple,” Tay says. He’s carried those lessons with him throughout his life. The business owner regularly goes for dinner and drinks (his poison of choice is whisky) with his clients to forge stronger relationships. On the third floor of his home in Loyang, Tay has also built a home bar to entertain friends, family and clients. He never has an agenda though.
“I always treat everyone equally, regardless of their status, wealth and occupation. I believe in paying it forward. We never know the day we may need something from them. Keep sowing seeds. You never know what will grow. Instead of judging the harvest you reap daily, focus on the number of seeds you sow instead,” says Tay.
Tay professed that the inception of ThinkFarm was not by choice. “People don’t leave bad jobs. They leave bad bosses,” he laughs. After a year’s sabbatical and reflecting on what he wanted to do next, Tay knew that he wanted to continue doing what he loved most: conceptualising creative ideas, serving the community and most importantly, enjoying the journey.
It wasn’t an easy journey. Tay lost money for the first three years and was close to pulling the plug to return to the corporate world. Finally, in the fourth year, the business turned. Tay survived.
“Eight years in business have taught me many valuable life lessons. I also understand people on a deeper level and can sense their intentions, ingenuity and grace amongst other qualities,” Tay shares. He still has many sleepless nights. But instead of worrying about the business, he tosses and turns at 3am because his mind is flowing with ideas. He would wake up, scribble notes and then reach out to his team once the work day starts. “I don’t text them at that time unless absolutely necessary,” he smiles. “I believe in work-life balance. You must learn to appreciate everyone in your team and respect their boundaries.”
Long drives and family time
“I drive close to 100km every two days,” Tay shares. He accumulates so much mileage because he usually has two meetings with clients each day and picks up his daughter either from school or after her usual activities. Despite the long days on the road, Tay shares that he barely has any problems with the car. It’s one reason he has remained so steadfastly loyal to the Toyota Harrier range. He bought the first model when it came out in 2015 and then switched to the new 2021 Hybrid variant. It also helps that the petrol consumption is minimal. “I only top up my tank about twice a month now with the Toyota Harrier Hybrid, even though I drive so much.”
Tay also loves the comfort and reliability of the Harrier and admits that his previous cars, which were mainly continental models, didn’t perform up to expectations. The Harrier also gives him the opportunity to spend more time with his daughter, who is preparing to go overseas to continue her studies in the next couple of years. They’ll go on long rides to talk about their respective days.
“Actually, once my daughter gets her licence, I might give this car to her to drive because it’s so sturdy and reliable. That way, I know she’ll be safe when she’s out,” Tay says. And if he does that, what car does he plan to get? “I’ll get her to drive me around!” he laughs.
Check out the video below to check out what else Tay loves about the new Toyota Harrier Hybrid and why he recommends everyone visit Jia Wei to enjoy the Chinese fare.