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Saturday, 27 August 2016

Change Yourself First

People like to come to me for advice.

They come from all walks of life, and they are from all sorts of backgrounds. All races. All ages. Young and old. Working, studying, retired. 

I enjoy meeting them. In my line of work, I give advice, sometimes for free ... other times for a fee.

It's good to reflect on what's happened in life.

Today my 55 year old friend called me up. 

He wanted to know if he could register a URL. I told him that he means a domain name. He said, "You know, like a dotcom." I said, "That's a domain name. Yes, you can." He said that the domain was similar to someone else's company. Any problem with that? I said that he could use his domain if there was no confusion about which company owned the website. He said OK, then hung up.

My friend was a banker. He came out and became a businessman. He is now an exporter of products. He operates with fairness and frankness. And he never fails to encourage others, and see the good in them. Nobody knows that two years ago, his second son passed away in an accident. A motoring accident. The kid died in the car. He smiles when he thinks about his son. Somebody else might cry instead. 

I met him two nights ago. He told me that he had a dream. In the dream, his son's school had called him up with some bad news. Some boys had beaten up his son. His son was hurt. So in his dream, he went to the principal's office. His son was sitting with the principal. The principal called one of the boys who beat his son up to come to the office. When the boy arrived, my friend's son hugged the boy. The boy was surprised. Then his son asked the boy, "Were you hurt? Are you okay?" 

My friend laughed. "That's my son. He always forgives others. Even when he's hurt. I taught him that. Now he's teaching it to me, in my dreams. I must have some unforgiveness in my heart!"

The lesson I learned from him is to forgive others. Even when they hurt you.

My friend, whose son passed away, is a go-getter and a real inspiration to me. Even at his age, he is opening up markets for his products in new countries. 

Today my 46 year old friend visited me. 

He wanted to know what I thought about his business proposal for an oil trader. Last month I introduced him to the oil trader. Then he had a face-to-face discussion with the oil trader and then there was no response.

The oil trader is also my friend. The oil trader said that my friend had offended him by asking for proof of how much business he is doing, and whether he can reveal any figures to prove his company is real. "Your friend seems amateurish, bro. How to do business with him?" 

Today my 46 year old friend said, "I've decided to give your friend the oil trader a chance since he is your friend. He does not have to prove his business to me. I will trust him because of you." 

I have no idea how to break the news to my friend that the oil trader doesn't want to see him anymore. My other friend, the oil trader, doesn't need people to give him chances.

I learned a lesson. You shouldn't mistake humility with inferiority. And a quiet man isn't necessarily an unsuccessful man. Some quiet people are very successful.

You can be successful one day if you get started today. It's always too late to wait. It's never too late to start. (That line was from a book called "The Slight Edge")

Two days ago I met a white haired neighbour for a short conversation. 

He was telling me about his father's land. 90 acres, in the south, dedicated to planting palm oil. When his father was around, my neighbour hadn't cared about his father's business. It was the family business. There were many siblings, and most of them weren't interested in the business. Some of the children migrated overseas. Others moved to KL. 

Then one day his father passed away. My neighbour was the eldest and he was expected to take over the family business. He told me that he didn't know how to run the business. He didn't have the contacts. He didn't have the know-how. He didn't know the market prices and how to market the product. 

So he struck a deal with another palm oil farmer. The farmer would run his 90 acres, and they would split the profit, after the costs were deducted. After five years, my neighbour had learned a little bit about the business. He started to learn more about the industry, bit by bit. Eventually he had learned enough, to take over the oil palm business. 

I thought about the farmer my neighbour had engaged, the one who kept the palm oil business going for a while, before my neighbour took it back and took it over. The farmer must have been unhappy, and maybe he felt a little cheated. But that's life, right?

So maybe there are a few things we can learn from that story as well.

First, if you don't know how to take over a business, find someone who can keep it running until you can learn the business. Share the profits until the day you take over.

Second, if you have a windfall, don't forget that nothing lasts forever. The windfall might disappear one day.

Third, you should teach your kids everything in life. Including how to live without you. Because nobody is indispensable.

Life must go on.

Everyone can complain. Not everyone can pick themselves up and keep moving. 

Recently my wife has been spending money on inconsequential things. Baby stuff. Ladies stuff. Children's stuff. She talks about getting a new mobile phone and how we should take a trip overseas. All is fine, except for the fact that I'm the one paying.

I find it hard to save what I earn, because of all that impulse buying. 

But I find it hard to tell her, after I've already told her, that we need to control our budget.

So maybe, I'll find some part-time work like giving tuition classes or lecturing part-time. Anything to keep the household moving.

I can't change her. But I can change myself.

I wish that my wife would look at her piggy bank like that. She prefers to look at my piggy bank like that.

Thanks for reading.

Here are some other pieces from me.