Saturday, 4 May 2013
Not one hasty decision I've made has had a positive outcome. Be it a "hot" stock pick without conducting much due diligence or an impulsive purchase, I tend to come off worse than before when I base a decision on limited information and a lust for quick results.
Getting towards something slowly admittedly isn't very sexy. We're a culture of Now. We want to get rich quickly and buy into things that promise quick results. Why buy boring mutual funds when there are financial derivatives that are geared ten times? (A derivative which is geared ten times means that your gains or losses are amplified by ten fold, depending on whichever way a stock price moves. If a share price moves up by $1, you can make $10 and vice versa).
When someone is starstruck by the lure of quick results and money they forget to account for the impact of a setback. Having a contingency in case of failure isn't cynicism, it's pragmatism: setbacks and outright failures can happen in spite of your best intentions and hardest work.
Saturday, 20 April 2013
Listen to the excuses a person makes when an outcome is underwhelming, and you will usually find the same group of reasons cropping up: either the market wasn't behaving rationally (investing), the other team played dirty (sport), the contract was awarded to the highest bribe (business), the economy is bad (business again), or the other person was unwilling to change (relationships).
It's one of the most difficult things on earth to be introspective and objective about your shortcomings fresh on the heels of a failure. A society that's only interested in results and nothing else doesn't encourage you to be candid about your errors either. However while pointing a finger outward may shirk responsibility and can even be therapeutic, it will not bring any progress. Excuses like the list above are now so common to the point that they have become worn out cliches. Worse yet is that they are generally acknowledged as logical, valid reasons: they make perfect sense at a conversational level.
Saturday, 13 April 2013
People who have projects, ventures or businesses outside their normal 9 to 5 jobs have to climb a daily hill called fatigue. It becomes difficult after a full day of "normal" work to push on with your personal (but important) interests. If you stay up late you're exhausted the next day - sleep deprivation is short sighted and isn't the answer.
Consider doing some before-hours work. Carla White created an iPhone application called the Gratitude Journal during the hours of 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. before going to her day job. Her initial morning efforts have now turned into a full-time career for her.
Saturday, 6 April 2013
My cousins played a lot of club Soccer in our younger days and as you can imagine followed professional Soccer on television. Having only kicked a ball around a few times, whenever a match is broadcasted I see little more than a bunch of men who are proficient at kicking and pretending to get hurt at the slightest touch. But as a result of playing many matches my cousins understand and appreciate better than me how difficult it is to muster the level of skill displayed at professional level. They're also less dismissive and critical of the game than I am.
The level of appreciation we express for anything is strongly correlated to our involvement with the object of appreciation. This principle of appreciation applies to anything in life. These days for instance consumers and tech critics often decry the "lack of innovation" from some smartphone manufacturer or the other. And how often do we dismiss what others do as "easy," or our country's government employees as "lazy and incompetent?"
Monday, 1 April 2013
"Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe." Lincoln
Notice how a large manufacturing concern will always take ample time to properly lay out a new assembly line, even if it means delaying production for a few days. Having machinery in close proximity that's laid out in a sequential manner will reduce process times and lower manufacturing costs. Those few extra days taken to carefully lay the line out will be paid for within the first few weeks of production.
This principle of preparedness can be extended to practically any undertaking, be it taking the time to sharpen an axe before chopping a tree, the mechanics of a Formula One team spending hours to meticulously pack and unpack their tools before a race, or a chef laying out all his implements and ingredients before cooking. The time to do these things almost always ends up being time well invested.
Friday, 22 March 2013
It's ironic that I grew disenchanted with the book smarts route only once I completed my studies and actually started working. In my first year of work, after twelve years of school and five years of university, my senior manager told me I needed to study even further to "stand out from other graduates." An honours degree in commerce wasn't enough. I wondered: when can you finally start living and unconditionally enjoy the fruits of your studying? When does the academic carrot dangling end?
Sunday, 17 March 2013
Managers are usually generous with the time they allocate when a new employee does something for the first time. It's common sense: a person takes longer than usual to perform a task that's new to them. Once they become proficient they will speed up as their efficiency improves. If something takes 4 hours the first time, it could be reduced to an hour once a person learns the ropes.
During this learning phase an employee knows this and they don't feel pressured to work in a hurry, and that's not a bad thing.
Saturday, 9 March 2013
My father's friend does $3 million in annual turnover. About 90% of this turnover comes from supplying and installing electrical lighting to shopping centers, office parks and other private sector related projects.
Two weeks ago he drove 35 kilometers after-hours to a household that was going to give him about $500 of business. It's insignificant to his bottom line yet for most of these small jobs he still opts to go by himself instead of sending out a staff member. The reason for this is the networking opportunities these small jobs present.
He doesn't care that the current deal is small; he wants to leave a good taste in the customer's mouth so that they will remember him whenever the topic of lighting comes up in any of their conversations. He will even do a free consult before physically delivering anything to advise what sort of light fittings would suit a given room and budget. Over 28 years he has built his network this way. Today's deal could be small, but tomorrow's referral could be life-changing.