Monday, January 17, 2011

A Fisherman's Story - Brilliant

There was once a businessman who was sitting by the beach in a small Brazilian village.
As he sat, he saw a Brazilian fisherman rowing a small boat towards the shore having caught quite few big fish.
The businessman was impressed and asked the fisherman, “How long does it take you to catch so many fish?”
The fisherman replied, “Oh, just a short while.”
“Then why don’t you stay longer at sea and catch even more?” The businessman was astonished.
“This is enough to feed my whole family,” the fisherman said.
The businessman then asked, “So, what do you do for the rest of the day?”
The fisherman replied, “Well, I usually wake up early in the morning, go out to sea and catch a few fish, then go back and play with my kids. In the afternoon, I take a nap with my wife, and evening comes, I join my buddies in the village for a drink — we play guitar, sing and dance throughout the night.”

The businessman offered a suggestion to the fisherman.
“I am a PhD in business management. I could help you to become a more successful person. From now on, you should spend more time at sea and try to catch as many fish as possible. When you have saved enough money, you could buy a bigger boat and catch even more fish. Soon you will be able to afford to buy more boats, set up your own company, your own production plant for canned food and distribution network. By then, you will have moved out of this village and to Sao Paulo, where you can set up HQ to manage your other branches.”

The fisherman continues, “And after that?”
The businessman laughs heartily, “After that, you can live like a king in your own house, and when the time is right, you can go public and float your shares in the Stock Exchange, and you will be rich.”
The fisherman asks, “And after that?”
The businessman says, “After that, you can finally retire, you can move to a house by the fishing village, wake up early in the morning, catch a few fish, then return home to play with kids, have a nice afternoon nap with your wife, and when evening comes, you can join your buddies for a drink, play the guitar, sing and dance throughout the night!”
The fisherman was puzzled, “Isn’t that what I am doing now?


Before I read this story, I chose Businessman. Now I still want to be a businessman; but one that lives like a fisherman. Is that possible? Love your wife, love your parents, love your kids. Most importantly, Love your Job. Everything else will fall in place, I choose to believe. Successful entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson claims [in his autobiography] that doing business is what makes him happy; the challenges he faces on a daily basis drives him like a passion. 
I don't know if I have that as a passion right now. But I do know one thing: I want to make a difference. If that's through the means of business, I'll do it and I'll do it fervently.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Details in the fabric ~ business

'It's about the details' - Sir Richard Branson. He keeps a little notebook and pen in his back pocket and always puts it to good use by jotting notes of ways to improve his company's services, down to the very last detail.
'Why should I not fire you?'
'Because if you fire me, I'll come and compete with you'. 

I'm tremendously inspired by Sir Richard Branson. His character, attitude and spirit is what I yearn to develop. His views on running a business is one of a kind. He calls it a 'machine' for making money, but also says that it can bring about revolutionary changes in the way people live. I think it is precisely the fact that private enterprises have so much power that they care only about themselves most of the time; with only a few exceptions. I believe it's innate that when we're living comfortably, we become less aware of the problems there are around us. Poverty is the biggest oblivion, perhaps followed by environmental awareness. Sir Richard Branson, I feel, is doing what he can to tackle problems that he tries hard (since he is rich) to see. With the CarbonWarRoom set up, and his involvement in Africa's young and aspiring entrepreneurs, it says a lot about him as a person; as a human like you and me.

This year I'm turning 21. In my country, that means becoming 'legal'. It also means that in a few years time, after I get my degree from a local university, that it's time for me to take that leap into the society and learn to be financially and emotionally independent. Fortunately for me, I've already met the love of my life and I'm ready to live with her for the rest of my living life. This assures me that at least on the emotional department, I've got an angel. I'm really not worried about straying off my tracks and going into gambling or smoking or taking drugs because I know that she will be there to keep me guided. But I can't say the same when it comes to money.

I've got no knowledge of money, only those that I've acquired by reading the papers and hearsay. And to be frank, I really cannot care less about not knowing much about business. If I were living in the 70's and I had somehow read about Richard Branson's adventures, I'd stop everything I'm doing and come up with an idea, stick to it, and put it to action without second doubts. The thing is, this is the 21st century, and I wonder if such a daredevil tactic can ever prove to be successful. 
So many people out there are educated in business. Do they have an edge over me? Undoubtedly so. What, 3 years of learning about business and picking up skills (not to mention contacts) and I expect them to be no better than me? Wishful thinking!
Because of that sheer fact, I'm considering taking up business in NUS. My heart lies in Engineering because I've always felt that should my ventures go wrong in the future, I'd still be able to contribute to make changes in society, just with a much smaller payslip and less satisfaction; but nevertheless, contributing. So now comes a dilemma - business or engineering? I thought about the idea of taking up a double degree and I haven't ruled that possibility yet. Whenever I imagine myself reading double majors, I feel like myself 3 years ago when I just entered JC. 

I felt stressed up because I was in a school surrounded by people who have been studying in renown, elite schools... I felt hopeless and that I was bound to fail miserably in my academics. So I retracted my application to the Students' Council in fear that I wouldn't be able to pass my exams. I got depressed and I complained everyday to mei about how sad I was. Things started to change for the better in June as I realized that I'm managing well in my academics, and the people around me in school were supportive and incredibly fun-loving - the complete opposite of what I imagined them to be when I first enrolled. So things really started to change for me, and I graduated with 2 A's and straight B's, and a testimonial full of praise. Now, I wish I could go back to college and live those 2 years again. I'm even willing to give up 6 months to feel depressed, to feel that youthful, energetic and sometimes outrageous spirit in me once again. I must say that I still live off that spirit now and it has helped me overcome many problems in my Army life. 

Having said all that, I think I managed to force myself to think deep. Pulling out from the Students' Council even before I got in was and still is one of the biggest regrets of my life thusfar. Being told by a friend in the Council that I would have been elected as part of the executive committee didn't help. In retrospect, I sincerely believe that I would've been able to cope with my school work even if I had been in the Council. 
Anyway, I think I've made up my mind - I'll apply for a double degree in NUS when the window for applications opens. I might not be granted the courses, but it's worth a try. I'll fight for what I want. 

Then, with some knowledge of environmental problems and armed with a business perspective, I'll start my venture. A venture that's going to be global - much like the Virgin Group. Nobody said it's going to be easy, but as Sir Richard Branson aptly pointed out, 'no venture made, no profits gained'.

About work-life balance:
"You want to have fun at home; why shouldn’t you have fun at work? I think leaders have got to make a bigger effort to make sure the people who work for them are enjoying what they’re doing. If a chairman of a company visits Seattle, that chairman should take all the staff out in the evening and have a few drinks together, talk together and party together and not be embarrassed about the staff seeing the weaker side of you. They don’t lose respect for you because they see your human side. They actually gain more respect for you."

About employees:
"If a flower is watered, it flourishes. If not, it shrivels up and dies. It’s much more fun looking for the best in people. People don’t need to be told where they’ve slipped up or made a mess of something. They’ll sort it out themselves."

About building trust with his managers:
Branson has developed a level of trust with his top managers by setting the direction and then stepping back to let them navigate. "I come up with the original idea, spend the first three months immersed in the business so I know the ins and outs and then give chief executives a stake in the company and ask them to run it as if it’s their own," explains Branson. "I intervene as little as possible. Give them that, and they will give everything back."


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Job search continues...

Yes, that's right. Spent the entire day applying for jobs online. Sending emails until I have no idea who's who when they start giving me calls to discuss details.

Been mostly applying to 'admin officer' job positions; definitely staying away from the whole Customer Service scene without a doubt. I cannot begin to imagine just how horrible my life would have been if I took up the call center job. I'd have easily 100 swear words shouted into my ears everyday just to earn that extra $2/hr from other normal jobs.

It's quite a chore to find a job that suits you, so I've realized. Also, it's amazing just how much searching for jobs makes you think about yourself. I keep wondering if I was the problem in most of the job applications. Am I being too picky? Am I being to egoistical? Do I have too much pride to work as a lowly receptionist? (for the record, I did apply for jobs as receptionists) I hope I'm not. Anyway, enough of boring content in this blog. Here's a really interesting job position that I found on st701 (online jobs database):

Yup. Tattoos and piercings encouraged. I think this corrupts the minds of the young and naive... They'd start thinking that tattoos and piercings actually have positive impacts on people's lives; instead of seeing them as either terrible taste in art or a dumb way of getting unnecessary infections.

Moving on. I'm going to Jurong Point later to have dinner with my family and also to stock up on the groceries. What's exciting is that I'm going to buy the ingredients required to bake the 'ultimate brownies' according to an online recipe from that I found today. The reviews - adding up to 70 or so of them - have been great and I can't wait to try it out for myself! I'll be baking with mei of course. I can already smell the fragrance of molten chocolate with a hint of butter in the air!~

--- Still waiting for that call to offer a $8/hr job! ---


Monday, January 10, 2011


Coffee Bean schmoffee bin... Told my friends that I was going to apply for a job at coffee bean as a barrister and they advised me against it. Severely underpaid was the common term exchanged between our conversation. Since then, I've applied for several other jobs already. I've just received a call for an interview today at 130pm, and was told that if I pass the interview, I'd be able to start work immediately! $9/hr was what she told me. Awesome :) 

So I'll be back later to post an update on the outcome of the interview. I'm pretty excited, seeing that this is my first official job interview. I hope my nerves don't get the better of me! 

--- Back from interview ---

It's 9pm now, and I'm home from the interviews today, and just had dinner with the family. The interview was interesting, but sort of a waste of time. There were 2 interviews, one with BGC (the recruitment company) and the other with Starhub at Tai Seng. My consultant at BGC was 45 minutes late for our interview. The interviewer at Starhub was 40 minutes late as well. On the overall, I'm confused. Initially I thought I'd secured the job for sure. But after the interview, I really think I don't have a 90% chance of being employed there. In fact, I'm having second thoughts right now. Everyone there are corporate animals in a huge corporate jungle in ultra-urban Singapore. I don't like it. Not a little bit... But I can't be picky, can I? The pay's great, but does it justify the stress level? People abuse people verbally everyday, all over the world. It's like operators at customer service are punching bags, not humans.


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Changed blog!

I've decided to change my blogging website to after using livejournal and facing so much clutter and boredom.

Anyway a few things have changed since last week. One of my dad's workers got cheated of quite a sum of money, and the impact on his company is forceful. So much so that my it has pushed his company into loss-overdrive. According to the lunar calender, the year 2010 has been a terrible year for him and his company, having encountered many frauds. I really hope things will turn out for the better for him in this coming year...
Today I've also decided that I'm going to apply for a job as a barrister at Coffee Bean. I ran into a banner displayed at Illuma's Coffee Bean that said that they were hiring. After some thought and discussion with Mei, I've decided to give it a shot. I'm looking forward to flexible hours, or at least a 3 day work week so that I can still have my own time to live life slowly before the start of the University semester. Since I'm going to hold my plans to travel parts of the world because of the bad news at my dad's company, I guess working would be the logical progression. (I intended to borrow money from my parents, not take, to do some solo travelling). 
Opening that business that I have in mind (after refining it more) would require some start-up money as well. Even though Coffee Bean probably ain't going to pay me even close to enough...

My friends are leaving Singapore for the overseas exchange as part of NUS' exchange program. One's going to Sweden's Lund University, and the other to one in Milan (unsure of its name) - I hope I'll be able to qualify (academically and monetarily) for an exchange when my opportunity comes! 6 months overseas will probably help me grow into a person with a wider perspective.

I 'broke up' with my first student yesterday over the phone. To be accurate, I called her mother to tell her that I won't be able to continue teaching her anymore. It wasn't easy, but I had to do it. Teaching wasn't my cup of tea you could say, and I was frankly worried about being a burden to her education. I always believed that confidence is very important in what a person does, especially if that task affects other people. Kudos to all teachers, including my buddy Keegs!

Made up my mind about working at CB. No more procrastination!