What started out as an interest in technology soon became one of the leading web hosting companies in the country. Husband and wife duo Alex and Grace Lam, are the two pioneers of Integricity; and they bring with them a respectable approach of running a business that looks after the holistic welfare of the team.
In the early 2000s, the Internet was still an uncharted territory and people had their doubts. For Alex on the other hand, the opportunity to explore new grounds was something he had to seize. It was nerve wracking to say the least, but self-reflection and the pursue of excellence kept them going while bearing in mind the things that are truly important in their lives.
What would be the most challenging aspect of working together as husband and wife?
A: I don’t think it’s that big of a challenge. Of course there will be times where we have differing opinions, but I think that’s a good thing so that you’re able to challenge each other in different aspects. We head different departments, and we respect each other’s expertise. There can be times where work will extend to the home and it used to happen frequently until we had our children.
Was it frustrating for you tapping into a brand new industry at the time?
A: In the early days, not having a firm direction was a little bit difficult. When we first started, I was looking to explore e-commerce but back then people were very hesitant to put their credit card information online and transact; it was a very different time back then. I “accidentally” got into web hosting when people were asking me to host their websites. I needed to make ends meet at the time, so while building the e-commerce platform, I web hosted on the side. One client led to ten, and ten led to a hundred and so on, and after awhile I shelved the e-commerce idea and focused on web hosting.
How do you handle change, especially if it’s something you were really invested in?
A: Being an entrepreneur, you have to adapt to the environment around you. Things are constantly changing and nothing ever remains the same. If you are not able to keep up or cope with them, you’ll be left behind. Web hosting today is very different from what it was in 2000. We were selling fifteen megabytes packages, but today just to send out one email takes fifteen megabytes! My makeup is such that I’m able to adapt to things and I constantly learn and pick up new skills as I go along. With that, and alongside a great team of people, it’s easier to embrace change. There are a lot of things I still don’t understand, so I hire people who are better than me and that’s how we go further.
G: Change is inevitable. You just need to be aware and not afraid of it, and also evaluate where you are and think of ways to do things better and improve how we do things.
One of the reason why people can’t deal with change is because of the risk of disappointments. Have there been any disappointments that you’ve had to overcome?
A: There are bound to be failures one way or another especially when you’re trying out so many different things. The important lesson is that you pick yourself up and move on. I’ve changed business partners several times; we’ve had failed ventures and had to close them down. These challenges and failures have provided us with the necessary experience that allowed us to become even better at what we do.
G: Working with people is especially hard and there will naturally be disappointments along the way. Over time, you’ll learn that you can’t just harp on the disappointments of a failed relationship because that would hold people back.
A lot of businesses are constantly out to expand, but you have this laser focus on what your mission is instead of growing an empire as most companies would choose to do. What led you to go down this path instead?
A: One thing I make sure I do is take a retreat to strategize and spend time praying for the business. At the core of everything we do, we make sure we identify what is truly important. Are there things that are taking too much of our time that we shouldn’t be focusing on? Are there areas that we could do better in? If you do too many things at once, your spread is quite broad but you don’t go very deep. Once we were able to shave off some of these things, we were able to go quite deep into Integricity Technology and do our jobs well and secure clients that way.
Why is work-life balance important to you?
A: Work-life balance is important not just for ourselves but for the team. We feel everyone should have time for family and friends. I don’t want to abuse that relationship and force people to work beyond what they should be doing. As a result, we have made it a point to let them know that they have flexible hours. If they want to spend time having breakfast with their family, they’re able to come in a little bit later and leave work a little later too; and vice versa.
G: In terms of the relationships we have that are important to us, it is also necessary to draw boundaries like how much time we spend at work, so we can spend quality time with our children. Most people look for satisfaction in everything that they do. People no longer look for jobs that will just pay the bills but are also able to give them the satisfaction and the ability to say that they love what they do.
Despite their success in the industry, we admire how Alex and Grace never let work get the better of them. Having work-life balance is something so rare these days especially with everyone scurrying to reach the top. This episode serves a good reminder that we need to put our best foot forward in whatever we do, but at the same time not getting lost in the whirlwind of being the best and knowing what holds priority in your life.