Be the Man with the Plan

For decades, I have always been proud of my main money-making skill. I am that damn good and fast when it comes to creating and automating useful reports.

Give me any data and logic, and I can easily piece up something useable within 24 hours.

And I won’t lie – getting acknowledgment from peers and conducting so many classes over the years reaffirms my confidence. I feed off my ego. An attention seeker, if you called it. 😅

But one day (10 years ago), while having lunch with some of my Friends, a Friend asked me a very innocent question..

“What if your skill goes redundant one day when technology changes?”

It was meant as a very innocent question, but it haunted me that night. I was in my early 30s then, a young and reckless guy who just live for the moment…
and I suddenly realized that one day I will be in my 40s, my 50s, my 60s, and the world would be a very different place.

So I started asking myself what my secondary skill is. And I had none.

So I spent the next many years discovering what I really wanted as a secondary skill….And as I talked to more people, I slowly discovered what my passion is, and made it my secondary skill… and started building it from zero.

After all, as you grow older, you start to think less about yourself, and more about what you can give back to society during your limited lifetime.

I called it Plan B. And I kept building on it over the years, not knowing when it will ever be executed.

But having a Plan B gives me reassurance over the years. And greater confidence as I go about doing the status quo. Because when you have a backup plan, you can go about living your daily life knowing that your world will not collapse if your current skill goes redundant someday.

With this circuit breaker going on, and you are held up at home, is it time to slow down and start thinking of your Plan B?

Always dig a well before you need the water. Even if you have to dig it a decade earlier.

Have an awesome day ahead, Friends! 🙂

Don’t pray for more money

Money doesn’t guarantee happiness, but it can solve many problems.

While it seems easy to just pray to God for money, money does not fall from the sky.

God did not give us 2 hands to pray – he gave us 2 hands to work for whatever we want in life.

Pray for the courage, to do something necessarily different.

Pray for the mindset, to stop being stubborn.

Pray for the wisdom, to unlearn and learn.

Pray for the determination, to stop only when you are done.

Pray for the focus, so you don’t get blindsided by shiny objects.

Pray for the newfound time
, to develop your skills.

Pray for the future you, so you start acting like one.

And may that help you attract whatever you seek.

Have an Angelic day, Friends.

Too short, too unpredictable

Many years ago, a group of people was standing at a bus stop at Bendemeer Road, waiting for their usual bus.

Suddenly, a bus accidentally veered into the bus stop… killing a few people on the spot.

It was a casual news article that I read, but it was something that always happens as at the back of my mind for over 20 years.

Life can be so unpredictable… so fragile.

One of the many things that I learnt from Sifu was never to take life for granted. Yes I know it sounds very cliche, very common sense, but there is a lot of depth in this statement.

He would tell me, before I go to sleep, make peace with the Wifey and ensure everyone goes to sleep on a good mood. Waking up is something that we always take for granted… not everyone gets up the next day.

And that’s precisely why we should feel really blessed every single day we get up.

And before you step out of the house, always say goodbye. While it may seems like formality, courtesy or whatever you call it, no one knows what’s gonna happen in the next few hours… so make sure you leave home with everyone happy.

And if you are in a Cold War with a loved one or Friend… please, don’t do it. It’s just plain silly.

Life is too short enough for regrets.

Appreciate today. Really really appreciate.

Have a good day ahead.

What if someone can tell you your future?

On my first day at work as an analyst fresh from university, my friend (and ex-classmate) who joined on the same day jokingly told me “I’m going to automate your job.

”I laughed and naively dismissed him. “Good try. Try and automate my analysis and thought process.”

Obviously, I was wrong…

Not because he automated my job, but because the problems we were paid to solve are not unique. It’s only a matter of time before some smart Alec will capitalize on the huge opportunity and come with a system for the mass market, and sell the system to us.

With new planning and allocation systems, it seems that anything with numbers and logic can be systematically automated. Instead of having 10s of people working on an excel sheet, you can have a system, an IT guy to fix problems, and 1-2 people to input data and get results with a snap.

10 years ago, someone I followed shared his view on the world going ahead. There’s going to be more and more people in the world vying for less and less jobs.

He wrote a lengthy article to explain. I can’t recall who wrote it, but he explained it so well that the eerie outlook has been lurking in my mind for the longest time. He predicted some form of chaos, you know what high employment rates lead to.

Jobs are going to get tougher for us as we grow older (and more expensive).

And our poor kids, they better get adaptable with a world that’s gonna change faster than the world we used to know.

Companies are aiming for efficiencies, doing more with less. It’s not anyone’s fault, it’s just how business works. It’s the “right thing to do” when corporates are ensuring positive financial KPIs despite rising costs, in a competitive world, and still answerable to demanding shareholders.

So if the company buys a new million dollars system, you can bet that will help them save more than a million dollars in headcount… someday.

But hope is not lost. While we can’t always save the world, we can “selfishly” try and save ourselves.

If someone can tell me what my future is, and I’m convinced it’s gonna happen, I wanna find creative solutions to minimize the impact.

I’m not wasting time on Netflix while the Godzilla slowly walks towards my city. Don’t rest on the laurels. Be proactive.

If you are an employee working for others, my advice for you is to stay hungry in 2 ways. Within the company and “outside the company”.

Don’t see yourself as an employee working for someone else’s company. See yourself working for yourself in someone else’s company, like a contractor.

You will think and act differently. Now when you hit your 50s and the company wants you to go, I hope you know exactly which direction you are heading for.

You still have time…

Start thinking. Start working on your own unique creative solutions. Only then can you work with a peace of mind, knowing your Plan B is on standby.

Have a good day ahead, my Friend. 🙂

Life after 40

A good Friend of mine quitted his corporate job on his 40th birthday, for a job that is “more mundane”.

To slow down his pace of life, and improve his quality of living.

I have always found it inspiring, and seeing how he was spending better quality time with his family, and actually living.

No more rushing to the office, no more bringing laptop home, no more late-night office calls, no more week-long overseas business trips.

For many years, the pursuit of wealth has always kept me moving. I don’t need fast cars (heck, I rather take MRT),

but I fancy bigger houses, nicer vacations, etc…

But now that I’m past 40, the realistic side of me comes in and starts questioning my vanity.

If I spend $10k less on holidays, doesn’t it mean I can afford to earn $10k less?

Though money can buy me more options in life, does it necessarily mean that the sacrifice is worth it?

If I can have savings when my pay was low, why can’t I have a lot more savings when the pay goes up a few times?

What have I sacrificed over the years, for the sake of “living a more comfortable life”?

It’s amazing what a few months at home can do to a boring mind. 😅

Good afternoon, Friends!

The Creative Opportunist

I have seen many people losing jobs in this crisis…

And it’s interesting to see 2 kinds of people.

1) Some say f*ck my life.
These are the guys who resigned to their fate. They stay passive, because “wahlau eh, nobody wants to take taxi, what you want me to do??”

So these guys stay home. They apply for handouts. They spend less. They see “useless news” like which are the top 5 countries with Covid19 (as if they are traveling anytime soon).

And they just waste their life and wait… and pray things will be back to normal soon.

Now I’m not saying it’s “wrong” to do this if you are content to take a little break after working non stop for the past few decades.

But please man up, if you CHOOSE to leave things to fate, don’t complain. You might be jobless but at least you still have an HDB flat to stay in.

It’s not like you are homeless and sleeping on the streets with a blanket, and a red cup begging for money.

2) And then there are the creative opportunists.
These are the taxi drivers who initiate bulk food deliveries. You might have joined that SK/PG taxi driver who helps packet Amoy lor mee to all the sengkang/punggol people stuck at home (with nothing to do but eat. Haha, Singapore’s favorite past time).

Or you could be part of the people who have taken the chance to leverage on the internet. Many of my Friends have started live trading, doing freelance services. Tuition centers are quickly adapting to online classes (and I kind of enjoy not having to physically bring my kids to classes. Ok, except swimming class I don’t know how to do that at home).

Go Udemy and pick up new skills. Learn how to make money from the dropship. Go read a book to be a better dad. Pick up a new exercise routine at home.

Having to stay home for the late 2 months is a once in a lifetime opportunity for us to seriously plan the path for our future. Instead of creating your lifestyle around a job, how about creating a job around your desired lifestyle?

Anyway, it’s going to be a very different world out there when this Covid thing is over.

I hope you are ready for the New World.

And leveraging on exciting opportunities that are created with every problem.

Take care always, Friends.

There will come a time..

If you are holding a normal job…

There will come a time when either you want to leave the Company, or the Company wants to leave you.

What happens the day after that?
I have seen people getting their Grab license, study diplomas, brushing up secondary employment skills before that happens… and I’m happy for them.

Plan B is important. If you have a company, or you are in a high position…

There will come a time when you stop working. You will just be like anyone of us. From formal suits to la kopi at the coffee shop, you start observing things that you had neglected over the years.

What happens after that?
If you have been loving the guys who worked their a** for you, they will be happy to stay in touch with you after that. There’s real Friendship. There’s respect.

If you have a kid…
There will come a time when the kids are all grown. They might have a family, gotten busy in their careers, or even be stationed in another country.

What happens after that?
You will be left at home with your Spouse. And that’s why the relationship with Spouse is important with growing kids. Keep it alive. Don’t put your Spouse 2nd priority after the Kids.

If you have good health…
There will come a time when you will get old. Your body becomes rugged. And you will no longer be able to play golf, dance, and whatever physical exercises that made you feel human.

What happens after that?
Sit on the sidelines and watch the youngsters doing what you used to love? I don’t know…

But when you are very aware that there will come a time… that’s when you REALLY go all out to make today a REALLY special day.

Hi Friends!
Today is beautiful, isn’t it? 😊

Your Best Day

Your best day is not your average day.

During the good times, everything goes smoothly well. The stars are aligned, and everyone’s happy.

But don’t take that for granted. Just because you make $100 in a certain day doesn’t mean you extrapolate that and assume that will be $3k/month.

Because rainy days do come. There are floods, just like there are droughts. You want to be the ant that has stocked up during the sunny days, so there’s the food during winter times.

Recently, I got to know some new friends who have a taste of some quick successes. Good for them, but my simple reminder for them was “don’t go around telling all your family and friends about your win. It does nothing (except a small boost in ego).

Because the day will come when there are dips, and that’s when you stay quiet because nobody flaunts a failure”

Instead, during the good times, it’s important to work even harder to leverage on the momentum and make it a bigger win. Whatever you make in excess, is not meant for you to splurge. It’s for reinvesting and for your rainy day funds.

Celebrate small wins, but remember the journey has just started. Success is an ongoing game, have enough water to fill your humps as you cross the desert.

Cheering you guys on (you know who u are!)

No Place for Strawberries

Friends and colleagues know me as the happy-go-lucky guy who smiles a lot and doesn’t get angry… but that’s not really who I am…

My kids know me as a serious daddy. I don’t bat an eyelid when my team makes a mistake at work that cost us $200… but I get upset when my kids don’t want to brush their teeth or refuse to get up from the bed.

You see… there’s this cycle that I always believe in.

1) Hard Times Create Strong Men.

2) Strong Men create Good Times.

3) Good Times create Weak Men.

4) Weak Men create Hard Times.

And I’m sure some of my friends in my generation can relate to this.
We were born poor, but it pushed us to study and work hard to become middle class

(#1) through tremendous hard work. So by the time we have our kids, our finances get better and we start upgrading our lifestyles

(#2) By then, we have kids and they get to enjoy the fruits of our labor, and we start pampering them with luxuries (holidays, cruises, toys, iPads, piano classes, etc) we never had when we were young. But this made them feel entitled and they also complain more when they don’t get what they want

(#3) So I’m constantly cautious that our love and over-protection for our children will potentially make them “weak”, and they will grow up to be pampered and find every challenge to be “too hard for me”

(#4) The Strawberry generation, 草莓族 (aka snowflake generation) is a term that we call the younger folks, who “bruise easily” like strawberries, unable to handle social pressure, unable to work hard, spoiled, self-centered, and sluggish at work.

And I don’t want my kids to be strawberries. So I like bringing them for long-distance cycling to build resilience, to let them fall and pick themself up, to keep going no matter how tired they are, to cycle for miles with the ice cream or Prata shop as an end goal…

I may not be the best Daddy, but I am clear on my purpose in life. To guide them, to help them learn, to encourage them to try and fail… and try and fail again… and keep trying.

One day, you and I will all be gone… and our kids will rule the world. Let’s keep them strong and prepare them for that moment.

Good morning, Friends!

Pay Yourself First. Always

If you are always having money issues, here’s something you already know… but worth reminding.

There’s something that is flawed with the equation
Salary – Expenses = Savings.

If your Salary is $2000, you will spend until $2000 gone, and your savings $0.
Even if your salary goes up to $3000… you will “magically” end up with savings $0.

It’s just human nature to spend whatever we have.

We always have a justification why the new phone is a NEED.

Why that extra vacation is a NECCESSITY.

But when you start flipping the equation.

Salary – Savings = Expenses

Every month when you get the $3000, auto channel $1000 (via online banking) into your savings account and NEVER touch it. Your expenses will be fixed at $2000.

Now you can finally build wealth, your backup cash when the next crisis comes.

Many of you already know this, but it’s still worth reminding my Friends who are forever having issues with their finances.

Now, go pay yourself first.

Don’t pay Apple, Chan Brothers, and not even NTUC first.