Rising from the ashes

BUSINESSMAN, actor and television host Wan Hafizol Wan Omar, better known as Fizo Omar, was famous, rich and successful. But in 2014, he lost everything. He was declared bankrupt.

The 33-year-old former football player remembers: “My bank account was frozen. I had nothing with me. I had to sell burgers on the street.”

Slowly, he motivated himself to pick up the broken pieces of his life. Today, he has several business under his belt from catering to construction. He also gives motivational seminars and talks, and provides business tips to young entrepreneurs.

Recently, he wrote about his experience in a book called Bangkit Bila Bangkrap, which he co wrote with former journalist Abie Abdullah.

Fizo hopes his 240-page book will be an inspiration to others who are facing similar situations.

Recalling the bitter events leading to his bankruptcy status, he explains that he stood as guarantor on a loan for his business partner.

"Initially, I was furious with him," Fizo says. "He was my friend. I trusted him and I felt that he betrayed me."

But now, he no longer holds any resentment towards his former partner.

"You cannot go on living your life blaming others, and hating someone," Fizo says.

"I should take some responsibility for whatever had happened to me. I should not have been so lazy and so stupid.

"I have should have done my research carefully before venturing in any business. I should have look after my business more intensely.

"If I had done that, then [there would be] no room for people to cheat me. I left everything to someone [else]."

One wonders if he has difficulties trusting people now.

“If you do not have trust, then you cannot go on living,” he says.

“Trust is an important element in life. But you must not have blind faith because blind faith is dangerous.”

He also did a lot of soul searching after his bankruptcy.

“I have learned being financially bankrupt is terrible, but it not the worst thing in life,” he says.

“I found out that I was emotionally and mentally bankrupt, too and that situation is far more depressing than being financially bankrupt.”

He started the habit of reading and attending several motivational seminars in the country and overseas.

“I am a lazy reader and I despise reading,” he admitted.

However, he learned that reading can open doors to many exciting experiences.

“Everyone should try reading,” he says.

The dark chapter in his life got him closer to religion and God. Initially, he blamed God for his situation.

“Later I realised God was testing me,” he says. “He must have a good reason to put me in this situation.

"I had let success to go my head. I become egoistic. I had forgotten about God. I failed to pay my zakat (Islamic tax on income and property).

"My bankruptcy has humble me.”

It also reconnected him to his experiences growing up. Fizo's father was a successful businessman and owned a lime farm, as well as reared ducks and horses.

“Whenever I wanted pocket money, I worked for it,” he remembers.

He picked limes, collected duck eggs, and cleaned after the horses.

“My father could have easily given me the pocket money But my father did not want to spoil me.

"My father wanted me to be responsible. He taught me that you must never be afraid of hard work."