I got a chance to meet up with Tan Sri Tony Fernandes (Tony) during the launched of his book ‘Flying High’. In his book he shares his story of his parents, educations and working life.

From his first job at Virgin until successfully managing AirAsia, here are 5 success tips that we can learn from him.

1. If You See A Chance, Take It.

His first job interview at Virgin was very short and not successful. As he was sitting at the foyer thinking what to do, he saw Richard Branson walked in. Although Tony was 25 at age, he took a bold decision. He stopped Richard and said ‘Hey Richard, I’m from Malaysia’. He continued with ‘I came for a job but I messed the interview up’. That got him a coffee with Richard and after a month later, Tony got his first job at Virgin TV.


2. Trust Your Guts.

Tony was the youngest CEO of Warner Malaysia. In 1995, he was introduced to a religious band called Raihan. He loved the purity of their voice and signed them straight away. Although religious music was unknown at that time, he trusted his gut. And the result was that the album ‘Puji pujian’ exploded and was sold 3.5 millions worldwide.


3. Believe the Unbelievable.

Among the early challenges for AirAsia was to get an airline license and the approval should be granted from Malaysia Prime Minister. With the help from Dato’ Pahamin, Tony and partners got an appointment to meet up Prime Minister (PM) in July 2001.

PM had 2 meetings before them. The first meeting was with the Opposition and after that with Malaysia Airlines, which was on RM 8 billion restructuring.

Tony felt not good (he even thought of applying accountant job at PWC as plan B). However, he maintained his calmness and faith. He did the presentation and most of the time the room was silent. Finally at the end, the PM spoke and gave his blessing.


4. Learn and Adapt Fast. Tony and partners did not have any experience in airline industry. So they worked really hard on setting up the AirAsia. And finally AirAsia made their first low-cost flight in early year 2002.

The night before their first flight, Tony had a meeting with the staff. A stewardess asked ‘In the model, you mention selling food on the plane…? So where’s that going to come from..?’

Tony looked around, picked up his jacket, got 5 people to follow him, jumped into their cars and headed to the nearest Carrefour supermarket. They bought sandwiches, drinks and water and loaded it on to the planes..

Taraa.. They were ready to go !!


5. Just say YES and you’ll figure it out afterwards.

A lot things that happen to Tony was a result of him saying YES and took action to implement it.

A lot of people think too much until they get into ‘analysis by paralysis’ syndrome ie. too much analysis or overthinking that later paralyzed them from making any decision.

If he didn’t open to any opportunity, he might not have his own airline, make affordable for people to fly, has his own football club, had an apprentice adventure etc.


Hope the above stories inspire you to believe in yourself. Work hard and don’t give up, as Miracles Happen EveryDay.



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