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I often hear people saying “Stop daydreaming, Alvin!”, “Please concentrate in my class!” or things like “…*PIAK*”…the story of the flying chalk……

..ah well, those were the days…of me sleeping and daydreaming in the class.

Most adults would tell their children to stop daydreaming and face the real world. I do agree, AND disagree. One should always be brave enough to dream…..but make sure you don’t just DREAM, you should also take the necessary steps in making your dream a reality.

Recently, I’ve entered the 2007 Animax Award.Β  It’s an anime story writing competition. Actually, I really like this kind of competition because it promotes creativity and innovation among the younger generation. I’ve submitted one story for the Asia Pacific region (Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia) and someone called me that I’ve won the competition. *grin grin* Hmm, quite a big surprise for me since I feel my story was quite crappy. πŸ˜› Anyway, I haven’t obtain any proof (besides the e-mail and phone call)….so, we’ll wait then. πŸ™‚

To be honest, I really enjoy doing creative stuff. To dream…to imagine…….to fantasize (in a good and positive way), is always good. You can think of the impossible, think of the unimaginable (to some people), to think of anything. Your imagination is the biggest free world you can ever get. Use it.

Leonardo Da Vinci daydreamed and imagined a lot……he imagined things like helicopter during his time. If you were to think like him during that period of time…..and went on to tell people the things you imagined, people will think you’re a madman. He’s not a madman. He’s a genius. πŸ™‚

So, don’t be afraid to dream and to imagine. Without dreams and imaginations, we human are just an empty vessel.Β 

First of all, I must apologize for being away for so long from this blog. Been pretty busy with work….and i’m still busy actually. πŸ™‚ Just taking a break.

So here i am again…throwing this question to all of you who want to start your own business.

Let’s face it. Most people, especially in Asia, want to start their own business. But why? What’s the reason of you, wanting to start your own business? Is it for fame? To build an icon like Microsoft or Google? To pursue your dreams and ambitions? To work for yourselves rather than relying on someone else? Or is it you just want to be rich and become financially independent?

I’ve asked this question to a lot of people…..not just you. Most of the answers I’ve received, well…it’s quite disappointing. Most people gave me answers such as “I just want to be my own boss” or “I want to be rich”. And none of them actually say something like “pursue my dreams/ambitions”.

If you seriously want to start your own business….have you heard of people saying that 9 out of 10 startups will fail in the first 5 years? The 1 will actually survive the first 5 years….but after that, 9 out of 10 surviving companies will struggle and perish. The survival rate is actually 5-10%….and that’s only for the first 10 years…and jst to survive.

If your main objective is to get rich quick or be financially independent, then don’t start your own business. You can do that by using your money wisely – investing in the right place, generating money from money….etc. You don’t need to start your own business to be rich. You can use other people’s business to be rich. And also…even if you start your own business, there’s a very high possibility that you won’t get rich.

For myself, I still insist that i want to start my own business. Not to get rich from it….but more like to pursue my dreams and do what I want AND, be successful with it. πŸ™‚

What bout you? πŸ˜€ Ask yourself….and answer the question honestly. πŸ™‚ Hopefully, you’ll find the answer you seek. Β 

Here’s an interesting article from Entrepreneur.com.

Do check it out when you have time πŸ™‚

I think it’s a MUST READ for all entrepreneurs-wannabe.

Countdown to Startup

Finally, after Google-ing here and there, I’ve found out about the meaning of tag. Just recently, I’ve been tagged by Cirnelle, and well, i’m supposed to continue the tag here. πŸ˜€ Sorry Cirnelle, was pretty busy with my work. πŸ˜‰

Here goes nothing….

5 things found in your bag ( i only have a laptop bag and a wallet …but i’ll talk about wallet since i don’t carry my laptop bag around like a turtle shell) Β 

  1. My limited edition money πŸ˜›
  2. Credit cards (mostly supplementary)
  3. ATM cards
  4. Business cards (well…i’m in consulting line after all…though jz a normal IT developer)
  5. MPH card (yea, i spend a lot on books…can deduct from tax mah…)

5 favourite things in your roomΒ 

  1. My PC aka my entertainment hub
  2. My KingKoil bed (soooo nice to sleep…but not so nice to pay the “EASY PAYMENT” thing)
  3. My soft toys (yea…i have a lot actually, mostly from friends…i don’t buy them and i’m being honest)
  4. The night view of IKEA, Curve and 1U. πŸ™‚ Could that be consider a thing?
  5. My books (i usually keep my favorite books in my room)

5 things you’ve always wanted to do

  1. Own a business like PIXAR and create top-notch animations like Shrek. πŸ˜‰
  2. Have my own business and build it up to become a global brand.
  3. Sponsor my family for vacations.
  4. Become a real estate tycoon who owns several high-end real properties (ok..maybe in my wildest dream).
  5. Have a sweet, caring, understanding wife and some lovable kids (no Calvin n Hobbes thingy here pleaseee)!

5 things you’re currently into

  1. Investment
  2. Reading…reading…and reading.
  3. Writing blog and ….design documents for a project 😐
  4. Borrowing PSP from my team leads …..(they pity me since my PSP died).
  5. Sleeping (my favorite was cooking…but due to the severe lack of sleep…….i prefer sleep now).

5 people you want to tag

Mmmm seriously don’t know. πŸ˜› I’llΒ  be kind enough not to tag the 5 people….i’ll tag everyone who is reading this now >:)

Ever heard of the term “tightness of fit” ? It is a term used by Jerry Poras and Jim Collins in the book Built to Last to describe how visionary companies keep only the individuals with the right mindset with them.

On the other hand, I have a friend who keeps a private mailing list with some of his close friends and named it “Just among ourselves“. No one else (except the few close friends) is allowed to join the mailing list and he will go to the extent of explicitly telling other wannabe-joiners that the mailing list is – “Just among ourselves“. So if you’re not in the list, means you should not and will not be in the list.

Sounds a bit..harsh right? But that’s what a visionary company should do. At least, that’s my opinion.

Why?

If you notice, most big and successful companies have some mission statements…or visions…or ideologies. These are the things they believe in…the things they are working towards to…the guidelines…the set of principles that they MUST follow. To them, it is as important as the law itself. That is why they always stick very close to these so-called “statements“. These “statements” could be more important than the money itself. It’s the LIFE of the company.

Now, imagine if the company hires someone new to fill into an important job position….potentially a decision maker in the company. There are only 3 possibilities…….The first one, the new guy shares the same mentality or “mission statements“as the company itself………and this is the best scenario. The next possibility is the new guy does not share the same values or mentality……but he is open to change and can adapt to the company’s culture. The last possibility is the worst…..the new guy has a completely different way of thinking and does not wish to change.

Imagine this….you are working in a big company and has been made to believe “Making a customer happy is your first priority“. You and the rest of the employees will be willing to go through anything (even outside your line of duty) to make the customers happy and hope that they will return to seek your company’s services in the future. This is your company’s “mission statement“. Suddenly, this new senior manager came in. He forced the idea of “Who squeezes the most profit out of a customer will be rewarded” onto all of you. What do you think will happen? The priority has changed. The business will not be like what it used to be anymore.

A senior manager is able to have such a huge influence on the small team of people…….can you imagine the impact of having an important decision maker to practice such mindset?

That is why if you go for interviews with certain big companies…….they will ask you about your dreams, your goals, ambitions…your plans for the future, or even do some personality test on you just to see whether you are able to fit into their culture.

Blame them not because i am sure that you will do the same thing………..if you are a good leader who cares about the company. πŸ™‚

Hope it helps πŸ˜‰

Many of us have asked this question over and over and over again, including myself. I’m going to tell you one pretty bad news…….. if you do always ask yourself this question, it means you are most probably trapped in the rat race like I do. A person who has no worries about money, will never ask that question……or maybe, the frequency won’t be as high as those caught up in the rat race. πŸ˜‰

Just a few hours ago, my dad called me up…(for your info, he’s my financial controller…in-charged of paying the loans on my behalf), and informed me I owe him **** amount this month. Thats is actually more than 50% of my monthly salary (the monthly salary before the income tax, pension fund, etc which one must pay every month to the government). And after paying my study loan, mutual fund investment, etc…….i’ll only have RM 400-500 per month to eat. Hmm… my brain is already trying to work out how to get “free meals” from my friends. LOL.

Sometimes, people tend to get trapped in the rat race without knowing it…..they work and work and work, hoping that the next increment will come soon. When it came, they then realized that it is not enough. Their expenses somehow will shoot up also. This is exactly what I am currently experiencing. My expenses used to be quite okay…..and then I changed a job, got a 30-40% pay rise……..and i went on to buy a car (I opted for a slightly more expensive Japanese car due to safety reason). Then I moved into my new condominium….renovation, furnitures, etc…..all these cost $$$. Before I realized…..i’ve become the latest victim of rat race. Working hard, just to pay the bills.

So, how do I intend to step out from this rat race? It’s not easy. Or rather…I’ll say it’s very difficult based on the number of commitments I have – taxes, mortgages, etc. Still, this will not destroy my ambitions. I believe I’ll figure out some ways to step out of this rat race.

Maybe working as a part-timer in Starbucks? LOL. Just kidding. There should be some other ways to do this. Taking a part-time job is not really recommended especially for those in the IT & Consulting line.

Sorry for reading my ramblings. My intention here is to tell you my first hand experience of being a victim in the rat race. I seriously hope that all of you will plan your finance better so that you will not end up being the next rat race victim. If you are already in the rat race…well, all is not lost.

Start asking yourselves…...why are you working so hard yet earning nothing? Why are you repeating the routine of getting more pay just to pay off higher debts?Β  How are you going to stop this routine?Β 

One of the simplest methods – start to buy assets and not liabilities….please refer to my previous posts on that. πŸ™‚

Hope it helps.

Something actually happened to me lately….something bad. My PlayStation Portable (PSP) which was bought less than a year ago at around RM 1000 (around USD 300-400 ?), was pronounced dead by the second doctor. I was feeling very sad (er…maybe i should use “I am feeling very sad”).

There’s something within me that shouts the line “Alvin, go ahead and buy another PSP for goodness sake. It’s only RM 700 now!” And I seriously mean it, I do have that urge to drive to the shop and purchase another PSP…especially with all the nice games coming up.

If this happened 6 months ago…..I would’ve bought myself another PSP…around RM 700 (total cost of owning a WORKING PSP will then be around RM 1700). But now…something within me, is telling me not to buy another PSP. Why?

Because it’s a liability.

A lot of things around us can be considered liabilities. Branded clothings, bags, shoes, luxury watches, video games, LCD TV….I’m sure you know better than me. True, some of you might argue with me (or with yourselves) that the NICE thing that you’re planning to buy (such as Nintendo WII) is NOT a liability. Well, let me ask you this question “How sure are you?

Asset is something that you should buy, if you want to be in control of your finances. Assets can earn more money for you. These are the things which will make you rich. These are the things which will make money work for you. Example? Shares, bonds, etc….of course…the right ones. πŸ™‚

Liabilities, on the other hand, are mostly our desires. The “nice-to-haves” such as …well, i just listed some of them down.Β  These are the things that will make you spend money….but there will not be much (if any) returns of investment.

One of my best buddies told me he plans to buy a new PC…cool. I asked him one question “Do you think it’s a liability or an asset?” He said…”It’s an asset“, and I asked “Can it make money for you?” and he said “Of course! I can start an e-business using it!“. Pretty relevant. You can indeed start an online business using your PC………but…….i pushed on with my last question “How sure are you that your main purpose is to start an e-business using this PC?“…and he went silent.

If you are pretty sure the “liability” you are buying can earn you some $$…then please, go ahead and prove to yourselves (not to anyone else). Most of us thought that these liabilities that we are planning to buy, will end up bringing some $$ to us….but most of the time, this “dream” of ours will not materialise.

So, the next time you are planning to buy something….think about this. πŸ™‚

p/s…of course, it helps to reward yourselves from time to time with nice-to-haves. Don’t be so stingy to yourselves. πŸ™‚ But please don’t overdo it especially if you have big dreams. For me…I don’t think I’ll get another PSP just yet. πŸ˜‰ …..even though I seriously want 1. LOL. Β 

Phew…last week was a pretty busy one for me. 2 of my good friends got married (yea, the husband n wife are my good friends). Congratz to Ryan and Andrea πŸ˜‰

Wasn’t been able to post up something until now (which I think, is late Monday).

I’ve been reading a book titled “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki. I’m sure some of you have heard about this book before. It actually enlightened some of my friends who have read this book. I’m still at chapter 2 or 3….so…don’t expect me to talk much about it. πŸ˜‰

What I intend to discuss today is the so-called “Rat Race“. In the book, the author mentioned that most people work for money…and not the other way round. Don’t believe so? Let me ask you a simple question. I am sure most people (including myself) have this big dream of doing whatever we like…pursuing our passions in life…abandoning our current job and go chasing after our dreams. But we didn’t. Why? Because we have something called commitments – families, bills, etc.

We need money to support these things.

In other words…we’re being controlled by money. We are working for money.

Also, most of us will say that a higher pay can actually help us to solve the problem. I can assure you, it won’t. The higher your pay…the higher your expenses. You will have more bills to pay, more desires (nice-to-haves) to fulfill. The cycle will go on and on and on…never ending, and this is what they called the “rat race“.

So if you are in a situation I’ve described above….do take some time to ponder…whether you are really in control of your lives…or you’re being controlled by money.

Think about what you really want. I know what I want…. and it’s not paying bills. I have the option to go to the SAP world…earning big bucks, but I chose not to because I realized that’s not the direction I wanted to go. Bigger bucks might be able to solve some of the short term solution……but the long term problem here is, I am still chasing after the $$…working for the $$.

Do take some time to think about this. πŸ™‚ Life is not just about chasing after money…or involving in the never ending rat race.

It has been 3 years since I started working. I only took 2 weeks of rest after my final exam….and started working immediately after that. Fortunately for me, I’ve found my passion in the world of IT (though some may feel it’s a bit hopeless) ever since I decided to study IT (it stands for Information Technology in case some of you may wonder, and it’s not Idiotic Transformation). Till now, I’m beginning to step into another new field called Business & Management (but i’m not letting go of IT just yet).

That’s me. I’ve sort of found my own direction….the direction, the route that I wanted to take.

What about you?

There are few people I know who do not like what they were doing in the university time. Some of them who graduated with a degree in IT, ended up in the world of investment…or banking…or marketing. I even have few friends who have worked in all kinds of jobs/fields…just to find their respective direction. They do not know what are their passions…they do not know what drives them forward. They are trying hard to find the answer by switching jobs, again and again…and again.

One of my friends graduated with a first class honor from a reputable university in the IT field. He started his working life as a programmer. Within months, he got bored and switched to sales….car salesman. Again, in less than a year, he realized that his personality is not really meant for sales. He changed and became chef (lowest ranking) in a restaurant. Again…he left within months. He was shopping around for few years before deciding to return to the world of IT. He has spent so many years…in vain. When he went for the interview, he was treated as someone with a lot of working experience but minmum technical experience. He was treated as a fresh graduate.

Don’t get me wrong. I always support people to switch jobs (not job hopping, mind you)…either within the same company or not…just to find your own direction, your own passions. It might take a while…and it might not. For those who did not take too long to find their passions, good for you. For those who did…just always remember that one is never too old to discover that. πŸ˜‰

However, there is one thing that you must know….you should not continue to change job or type of job once you have found your direction. Keep the pendulum swinging…and you should be pushing the pendulum in the direction that the pendulum is swinging…to increase its momentum. This means that once you’ve found your direction, you should work hard and improve yourself in that field.

Remember not to push the pendulum in the opposite direction…thus decreasing its momentum…and eventually bringing the pendulum to a halt. Try not to switch too much…especially after you know what you actually want to do with your life.

LOL, hope you all can get my idea from this article. My “weather” inside my brain is cloudy…very tired today.

Hope it helps. Do drop your comments πŸ™‚

In our world today, money is something that you no longer can escape from. Everything that you need…you’ll need money. Food, vacation, daily necessities, entertainments, etc….all of these, you will need money to buy them.

For myself, I am actually looking into investing my money in certain areas right now. I’m planning to diversify a little – maybe a bit in mutual funds, a bit in stock, and when I have enough money, put into real estate. The latter is less volatile but has bigger risk. So…it really depends on your financial capability and how big a risk are you willing to take.

Well, in the end, the most important thing is…do you actually have the money to start buying or start investing?

For the younger generation (20s and 30s), spending your money on something you really like is quite normal. For guys, gadgets and for girls, clothes, cosmetics, etc etc. I used to be like a typical young man…spending a lot on gadgets, games, food and entertainment. I used to spend like 5k in 3 months…on such things (my salary is not much, fyi).

But recently, I’ve changed. I no longer spend so much on gadgets and food. I feel most of those stuff are “nice-to-have” and not “need-to-have“. With 5k…there are a lot of things that I could do. I can buy a lower-end blue chip stock in Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange. I can deposit the 5k into a Fixed Deposit…or even put them into the mutual funds. There are so many things that you can do with 5k…and all of them will lead to making you 5k multiply. True, it’s not something that you can see overnight and it’ll most probably need some time to grow..and at times it might gain negative progress. However, it is still better than using your 5k on purchasing a liability.

So, how much have you save this month? I am sure all of you have your own ambitions, your own dreams…and everyone wants to see their current money grow. But I can seriously tell you……..spending majority of your money on short-term happiness will never help your money to grow. πŸ™‚

I’ve learnt this, and I hope you do too.