A letter to my daughter

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Today is a special day. It’s the day I become something bigger than a CEO of a founder. I am now a father.

But it’s not about me. It’s about how your mother agonised over 12 hours to bring you to this world. I watch her endure the pain to deliver you. The pain just shows how love truly is the greatest strength of all.

We probably have a lot to learn to be the best mum and dad, but we’ll strive to make your life a happy and fun one. We’ll watch you grow up to be a fine lady. And I hope you will be free to pursue the things that matter to you most in time to come.

You will strive too and do great work, which is what your name implies.

You will be brave, just like your mother.

You will probably be small, but you’ll have a big heart.

Hello, world. Hello Amelia.

Industry Rockstar Seminar

*4 mins read*

This weekend I went on my very first business seminar on business/personal development by Kane Minkus of Industry RockStar.  This business coaching seminar aims to helps budding Entrepreneurs walk through some of the business hurdles around branding, sales and marketing.

The two and a half day session was jam packed with information and networking with other business owners. Kane had great stage presence and was very relatable , given he has started over 30 businesses and brought 5 of them to over million dollars in revenue. I’ve met art directors, entrepreneurs who have started SaaS businesses and Qigong masters in the seminar.

I’ll quote an extract from his book “Industry Rockstar: Become A Highly Paid, High Profile Person In Your Industry” :

MYTH: The more degrees you have, the more money you make.

There are two types of education: traditional education (university, college and so on) and results-based education. Results-based education is an education that thrives on the amount of real results that you have from that education. Examples of this would be any workshop, seminar, training, or training with coaches and consultants whose job is to have you achieve goals, outcomes, intents and results.

Traditional education is great – but it only gets you so far before you require other skills, especially when it comes to succeeding in business. The most important thing you can have to accelerate your results is to surround yourself with people who are genuinely successful in the fields you want to play in – and play at the top.

One very great secret we were let in on early on, from a top executive mentor of ours, was: “Always partner with best in class”. If you want to be successful you need to be around those that are doing it and are able to teach it. This combination is important.

Often the most highly-paid people in the world are actually sales people, not academics. I have stopped being surprised to find out how many successful people have no degrees, struggled in school or have no formal education in the area in which they are working.

However, they have the most important form of experience: logged hours on their passion, self-education, and results with real customers and clients.

There is actually no official connection between being book-smart and how much money you can make in business. In fact, some of the smartest and most successful people in the world dropped out of school or made their own way from a traditional education.

Traditional education is great, but alone, it is not enough. I am an education junkie. I still research, learn, seek out mentors and attend workshop after workshop, because I love to learn and apply what I learn.

But I also know it is in the application in the real world where it all makes the difference. (I realize that for some technical professions – like medicine, etc. – that traditional education is essential. I’m merely talking about the success rate of the business).

What “Success” is, is determined by each individual of course. However, a business is in business for a profit – so a more successful business creates more profit. It’s like saying a surgeon is a surgeon to save lives – therefore a more successful surgeon will save more lives.

I have coached or trained some of the most brilliant people on Earth (some of which you would know by name) who were financially struggling, broke, or frustrated that they weren’t making more money considering how smart they were… which is further proof that there is no connection between wealth and smarts. It might seem that way, because it would be logical that the more you educate yourself the more money you make. However, in my years of working with people all over the planet, I have met super smart, broke people, super uneducated, rich people and everyone in between.

We do draw a correlation between willingness to take emotional risks and wealth, however.

Successful people follow the new laws, mindset and techniques of business. They are willing to take the emotional risks necessary to succeed.

Do we encouragetraditional education? Of course! Being educated can’t hurt you.

However, if you think that being more educated will equal more money, then you are someone that has bought into the traditional mindset, and you will only be able to use that when getting a higher paid job.

The downside is that you will always have aceiling on how much someone is willing to pay you to work for their company. This book is not about how to be smarter at what you do; this book is about how to build the structure around your already smart-enough brain so you have a money machine that sells your smartness. Being smart with no business structure is like pouring water through your hand – it will all seep out onto the floor.

Pretty interesting hur?

It was also my first time being introduced to Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) –  which is an approach to communication, personal development, and psychotherapy created by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in California, United States in the 1970s.

NLP is basically a connection between the neurological processes (“neuro”), language (“linguistic”) and behavioral patterns learned through experience (“programming”) and that these can be changed to achieve specific goals in life.

On a side note, I’ve been thinking over the last couple of months I’ve actually met up with quite a number of entrepreneurs, sharing my journey and information on how I ran my business and it seems like I have a passion to meet and share my wisdom of people. The field of coaching/consulting/mentoring definitely has some appeal to me. It certainly sounds like this is a service business that could benefit people. *lightbulb moment*

Well, the big takeaway apart from the content of the seminar is to take action, starting today.

I have discovered a little bit more about myself. What about you? 🙂

1 March 2015

*2 mins read*

It’s official! It has been 6 months since I left my job to focus on a business venture not new to many called BoxGreen.

The truth is, after 6 months of doing this, I’ve realised it has been a wakeup call for me to start finding my passion back again.

I recently met a friend who has left the bank and she mentioned it felt like she lost part of herself in the 3 years which she was working. She is currently taking a break to discover herself back again. I can’t help but to agree with her.

The past  6 months was more of a rehabilitation/discovery process of myself. In the past, I’ve been told to wake up, go to work, come back home, sleep, rinse and repeat. I have given up on my interests, hobbies, doing things that I used to love doing in our past. With the sudden amount of free time after leaving my job, I became quite lost for a period of time because I don’t really know what I am going to do with my life! Work has become part of my life and now it feels like I’m missing on something. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. What I know is I don’t want to be trading my hours for dollars, at least the concept of automating businesses so I have more time to focus on the more important things in life, my wife and my family was something I thought makes sense.

The process of building BoxGreen is definitely a character building exercise. But in the midst I’ve also realised what matters more to me is having the time to do whatever I want, whenever I want.

Some business takeaways.

1. If you wanna go fast, go alone, if you wanna go far, go together.

2. It’s not a 9-5 job. The time spent does not determined your results. Automation is the smarter way of doing things. Smart business owners create a process which allows them to work on more opportunities.

3.  It’s not all about the end goal but the process.

4. I wrestle with fear on a daily basis and that is what keeps me alive and opens the doors to more opportunities.

5. There’s a reason why many opportunities happen to be found in the road less travelled.

 

A New Year (Sort of)

*2 mins read*

Today is the eve of the lunar new year, which marks the last day of the year in the chinese calendar. I thought it would be appropriate to share some thoughts on the last day of the year.

I have been on this journey of starting my company for almost 6 months now. And more often than not, I felt like giving up almost every alternate days and starting a company is not easy.

Quoting Andreessen Horowitz in his book The hard thing about hard things

What’s The Most Difficult CEO Skill? Managing Your Own Psychology

There are times when I felt like I have been working in overdrive  for an extended period of time. As compared to working in 9-5 job, I started asking why did I gave it all up. The idea of going back to a day job sure sounds tempting as hell.

As of now, I’ve learnt to pace myself better, I realized I can never finish doing everything. I have to focus. So I set off to complete only 3 major tasks each day. Having a to-do list also helped tremendously.

Last but not least, this is more of a marathon than a sprint. I was too fixated on the result that I lost track of why I started this in the first place. This led to a tunnelled vision of working mindlessly, not remember the bigger picture of helping people find healthier snacks easily

To quote an excerpt from AH’s blog,

A Final Word of Advice—Don’t Punk Out and Don’t Quit

As CEO, there will be many times when you feel like quitting. I have seen CEOs try to cope with the stress by drinking heavily, checking out, and even quitting. In each case, the CEO has a marvelous rationalization why it was OK for him to punk out or quit, but none them will ever be great CEOs. Great CEOs face the pain. They deal with the sleepless nights, the cold sweat, and what my friend the great Alfred Chuang (legendary founder and CEO of BEA Systems) calls “the torture.” Whenever I meet a successful CEO, I ask them how they did it. Mediocre CEOs point to their brilliant strategic moves or their intuitive business sense or a variety of other self-congratulatory explanations. The great CEOs tend to be remarkably consistent in their answers. They all say: “I didn’t quit.”

All that’s been said, the journey is still a fruitful and humbling experience. Every day is different. So here’s wishing everyone a happy lunar new year and a prosperous year of the goat ahead! Mehhhhh~!

Wedding, Photography & the Balls of Life

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Amidst all the hustle and bustle of starting up, it’s always nice to take a break and appreciate some of the greater things in life, such as the holy matrimony of 2 people.

I’ve had the chance to witness the marriage of my best friend for 14 years (@kodomut.com), capture some of the special occasion and ponder about life.

SONY DSC

I’ve posted the photos here on exposure.co, which is an awesome platform for telling stories through pictures.  Hopefully I’ll be able to migrate the old photos over and get my photo journal updated.

The event reminded  me of the crystal ball story by Brian Dyson, CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprises,  who spoke of the relationship of work to your other commitments:

Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them – Work, Family, Health, Friends and Spirit and you’re keeping all of these in the air.

You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls – Family, Health, Friends and Spirit – are made of glass. If you drop one of these; they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for it.

Give the required time to your family, friends and have proper rest. Value has a value only if its value is valued.

How counter intuitive this piece of advice is for a startup!

So everyone, at the end of the day, life is short, build/do stuff that matters. 🙂

Congratulations again to you Mr. & Mrs Soh @kodomut.com!

1 September 2014

*3 mins read*

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset

I am officially unemployed.

And it’s not that scary to be honest. After a lot of procrastination, I’ve decided to dust away the digital cobwebs on my site and start writing.  From Walt Disney:

The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing. – Walt Disney

I’ve decided to commit time to writing. To set some quiet time to be alone with my thoughts, and actually following through with them. It’s about doing one small thing, anything, to honor our personal truth — today.

Golden Handcuffs

I’ve had a good run in the bank the last 3 years, made some of the brightest friends in Asia, built some really great network and of course, meeting and marrying the most beautiful and greatest wife that I could ask for. So you could say the ROI of my early career is infinity.

And then I started thinking when I hit 26 a year ago.

I was in a rather cushy environment and all I had to do back then was to drag myself out of bed, arrive at the office by 9am, look forward to lunch, survive the after lunch food coma and get out of office at 6pm.  Get paid. Enjoy the weekends. Rinse and repeat.

But in reality, every bit of the above sucks. Everyday felt like a drag. I ended up swimming in a sea of organizational inefficiencies and office politics rather than actually trying to solve a customer’s problem.

And what’s next? Climb the career ladder, wait for the next bonus and bigger paycheck? Not the most meaningful thing in life. So I’ve decided to let the entrepreneurial side of me take over the driver’s seat.

The Clock Is Ticking

I thought to myself that when I’m 30 and I look back at my 20s, I wouldn’t want to have a belly and continue to meddle with office politics. Now is the best time to go out to learn and make mistakes, to acquire and try our different skills, to meet new people and build a network. To experience and to learn while I still have the youth and vigour.

Our 20s are the defining decade of adulthood. 80% of life’s most defining moments take place by about age 35. 2/3 of lifetime wage growth happens during the first ten years of a career. More than half of Americans are married or are dating or living with their future partner by age 30. Personality can change more during our 20s than at any other decade in life. Female fertility peaks at 28. The brain caps off its last major growth spurt. When it comes to adult development, 30 is not the new 20. Even if you do nothing, not making choices is a choice all the same. Don’t be defined by what you didn’t know or didn’t do.” -Meg Jay

Failure IS an Option

Lucky for us. I think failure is a more widely accepted notion today than 5 or 10 years ago. If you think about it, what’s the worst that could happen? Start something and fail, or regret not even trying? That doesn’t mean I’m setting myself up for failure. I think 1 year of savings have given me enough runway to figure something out.

Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. – Steve Jobs

So, 1st of September 2014 carries a lot of significance. A new end and a new beginning. Now I guess it’s time to get down to business. Welcome to the Jungle. Welcome to BoxGreen.

 

 

Vietnam | 02

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People x Street x Food x Soul

This is the 2nd and the final part of the Vietnam series.  Post-war Vietnam is a rapidly developing , highly cultured country that and has a travel palate suitable for travellers of all kinds.  With ample amenities, stunning scenaries of soaring mountains, fertile rice paddies and dense forests round the corner, there is always a side of Vietnam for all to see.




























 -End-

Vietnam | 01

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Summer is here. I had a reminiscence of Vietnam the other day and decided I should get my Vietnam post going.

Vietnam is a  place which offers many unparalleled rural views and also sadly, a post war experience.  For the price  you pay, the  food and lodging can come close to being one of the most value for money as far as visiting a country.

The 2 largest cities in Vietnam is the capital formally known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, which resides further up north of the country. Seems to me that Hanoi and HCM are like polar opposites, which sort of reminds me of  how people who love the States generally tend to  dislike Europe or vice versa.  I digress. I personally love Hanoi. Its a culture wonderland with and is overflowing with the art and identity. Just an hour away from Hanoi are theses luscious landscapes that can qualify as a hidden gem. Amongst them are Tam Coc, mountainous landscapes and an interesting self discovery bike path. If you are feeling more adventurous, you can also try the over trip just north of Hanoi to Sapa Valley.

This will be a 2 part series as I cover Vietnam from different aspects. The 1st theme would be Landscape & Scenery.

01 | Landscape & Scenery

02| People & the Streets

Halong Bay

Increasing number of digging works have affected the natural beauty of Halong Bay

A view from one of the floating homes in Halong Bay

Docking to visit the cave of Wonders

Nature at work. Many stalactites and stalagmites (Formation of Limestones)

The docking area in Tam Coc

Rowing across Ngo Dong River

Luscious green surround the river

Passing through a really short cave

Serenity and Peace

An endless road to cycle & explore

A water buffalo grazing by the road

A farming working on his ricefields

The landscape of Tam Coc, not too far away from Hanoi city

A view of Halong Bay before the Sunset

Sunset at Halong Bay

Along China Beach

A sweet taste of Bali

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Bali took my breath away.

There, I said it. My expectations have been met. My research has paid off. I am a happy man.
My wife and I decided to go on a scouting trip for potential wedding venues in Bali and we’re so glad we did! The guides and reviews about mystical Bali are completely spot on and there is just something surreal about this little island. The place pretty much reflects the result of a booming tourism industry, seeing how it has shaped the majority of the island. Yet, the tradition and culture is etched deeply into the island. And there is just so much to understand and absorb about the Balinese way of life. Parts of the island that remains almost untouched. The roads leading to some of the grandest and stunning villas are often bumpy, narrow and paved with brown cows grazing by the sides. I can stay and watch the waves all day, just watching them crash against the cliff over and over again.  I can’t wait for the wedding to be held on the acclaimed “Island of Gods”. You can find the list of resorts and villas that we visited at the end of the post.  All photos are taken with an x100s and Sony a850. Enjoy!

Bvlgari Resort

One of the many Villas & resorts in Bali for a breathtaking wedding

Inside the resort

A spectacular view of the ocean

List of places visited (in order of pictures shown)

1. Bvlgari Resorts
2. The Semera Villa
3. The Edge Villa
4. The Sanctus Villa
5. Latitude Villa
6. Ayodya Resorts
7. Uluwatu Temple