Ian on Brad

Mentor who sees the big picture

Mr Brad Robinson and Mr Ian Tan after the former's first professional fight and win in 2012.
Mr Brad Robinson and Mr Ian Tan after the former's first professional fight and win in 2012.PHOTO: COURTESY OF BRAD ROBINSON

For 28-year-old Mr Ian Tan, it is his shared martial arts background with Mr Brad Robinson that has set the right foundation for respect in their relationship.

"We need to make hundreds of decisions for the business every week and as two guys who have literally wrestled together in the past, we trust each other on a different level," says the fitness aficionado who has always worked in the fitness industry.

"This is more than just a business partnership for us. We treat each other like family."

Central to keeping this partnership going is their pact to always keep communication open - even through conflicts and disagreements. He quips: "We have set a rule we will not text each other after 11pm because, otherwise, our conversations about work will never end."

Although Mr Tan admitted that there have been numerous things over the years that the two have disagreed on - primarily over the pace at which they should scale up the business - their willingness to speak frankly has helped them tide through it all.

"I've always been the one concerned about the tangible impact our gym is having on people's lives, whereas Brad is the one who sees the bigger picture - especially when it comes to the potential business opportunities," Mr Tan says.

"But because he took the time to convince me and allowed me to wrap my head around growing the business, I didn't feel like I was pushed into doing something I wasn't comfortable with."

It is this mentorship role, which Mr Robinson has taken on in the past four years, that Mr Tan is most thankful for.

"I don't know how people can grow businesses without love and respect. Without that, I wouldn't have the willingness to be patient or trust his judgment," Mr Tan says.

"It's why I am so appreciative of Brad. Being around him has given me a taste of heavier responsibilities and the bigger team picture."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2016, with the headline 'Mentor who sees the big picture'. Print Edition | Subscribe