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What I learned after 3 years doing business – part 3

Continue from Part 2, let’s talk about the last 2 lessons that I learned over 3 years of managing a business; talk less, listen more; and a new world of opportunities.

Tl; dr;

  • Talk less and listen more.
  • Access to a whole new world of possibilities.

Interactions with other people

I have always been a quiet person, which I find it a lot easier when I realized this approach actually works. People tend to complain about their issues, brag about their achievements, and talk about their plans. All of these can be converted into opportunities. All I need to do is to ask the right questions to keep them talking. Looking back, most of my meetings will consist of about 80% of other people talking about their businesses and their issues. At the end of the conversations, I know more about them than they do about me, but that 20% of me talking is embedded in their mind, and I make sure that they remember me and my services through talking about how my services can help them.

Credentials are often overrated. I find that when dealing with a person, they care a lot less about what achievement you have, and more about how you can help them solving their problems. So I don’t even bother telling them about my companies size, how much clients have we served, etc. I listen to their issues first, and if I can help them with Digital Envision‘s services, I will align the discussion that way. If they query about the credentials, then I briefly talk about that, but it never is the start of my conversation.

Negotiation skills are something that I have been working on in the last few months. I practice methods in Never Split the Difference book, which is suitable to my style of interactions. So far it has been helping me securing a few contracts, so I will continue on practicing the methods. There is one sentence in the book that I like the most: “Negotiation is an art to make other people have your way.” I guess once you really understand this quote, then you will be an effective negotiator.

Opportunities

There are things that will never be available to non-business owners, simply because we don’t even know about it. One example, everyone uses American Express cards. Some even use multiple credit cards, which we call them card churning, which is a method to rack up bonus points, often flight points, to be able to claim for free flight travels. The major down side of credit cards is they cannot be used to pay invoices with bank transfer payment method.

Well, not really. Amex allows business owners to access something called Access Line, which allows us to pay our employee salary, our invoices, and even our tax returns with Amex account. And we can rack up the points with these payments. Through card churning, you need to apply to multiple credit cards, damage your credit scores to get a few hundred thousands points. For us as business owners, we just need to pay everything with our credit account and the points are quickly stacking up. (We’re not there yet) Imagine we spend like 100k each month as employee salary, and with 1 Qantas point per dollar spent, it’s already 100k Qantas points per month. That’s like a free ticket back to Vietnam every single month.

Apart from exclusive services, I also have access to certain conversations that contain information before it was reveal to the public. I know about how Federal government rolled out their COVID-normal plans probably 2-3 months before it took place. And that privilege really helped us realign our business to fit the direction from the government.

Summary

2 words to sum up the lessons: Quiet and Opportunity.

It has been a life-changing experience for me over the past 3 years. Lots of lesson learned, and there are still numerous things out there waiting for me to know about them. Life has never been more exciting for me.

“The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear.” – Ram Dass

By Tuan Nguyen

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What I learned after 3 years doing business – part 2

Continuing from Part 1, in this post I will discuss on another 2 massive lessons that I learned, managing people and work-life balance.

Tl; dr;

  • Managing people is getting more and more complicated as the team grows.
  • There is no such thing as work-life balance for the owners (or at least myself).

Managing people

When there were only 2 of us, life was simple.

Then we added an admin, and a developer. It was something that we needed to get used to.

And then, everything changed, now we have 18 in Indonesia, and 3 in Australia. Now things like company values, company cultures, etc. are something that we need to create and effectively communicate to our employees.

I read a lot about these topics, trying to figure out how other companies do it and grow to over 100 employees. I like Simon Sinek’s way of thinking, I adopted some of that principles into the company. We put employee benefit first before our clients, believing that they will deliver better results and in turn, the clients benefit from it. A lot more was spent into creating an enjoyable working environment than we spend on marketing, which is basically just our time at this point. We have not seen a persuasive way to spend our budget on marketing effectively (yet). So far we managed to keep our staff happy and productive. But that does not mean we don’t have people resign or get fired from the company.

So far we had about 6-7 people who left DE. Most of them resigned because of various reasons. I only had to fire one person due to his performance. And it was a devastating experience. Before the day, I had to find a friend and had a drink with her, which I don’t normally do, to prepare for that. Firing people is not easy, the first time you do it, it was hard.

We can’t get to over 20 staff without doing A LOT of interviews. I started to be able to feel what other people don’t talk about. Sometimes I see the desperations in their eyes, the lack of food, the distress in trying to find another job, etc.. And it was hard to turn them down because their skills are not good enough for us. We have to put our company before all else, otherwise it is a crime against our current employees. And that means we have to be cruel sometimes. The other day I interviewed someone who is in my dad’s age, and it is hard to put him into the declined status, his skills are not what we looked for, but still, his eyes showed me the misery of life.

interview count
As of today we have completed nearly 600 interviews

Looking back, my business partner and I have sacrificed quite a lot for the company. Over 3 years, it was and still is our top priority from morning till night. We do everything to nurture it. In a way, I understand more about being a parent, and I am ready to sacrifice a lot more to see it grows.

Work-life balance

As an employee, all we want is having 8 hours of work, 8 hours of rest and 8 hours of entertainment. And that’s how the whole revolution started and now we have Labor’s day to memorize that.

I am here to tell you that once you become a business owner, you can forget about that. Maybe later on, once you have someone run it for you, but I’m not there yet, so this is what I noted down for myself in the future.

Over 3 years, my schedule has been 16 hours of work and (maybe) 8 hours of rest. And it is necessary, we had to plan the next catch ups, who to meet next, creating processes for staff to follow, etc. There are a lot of work that come with having employees as well as keeping the leads coming in. Mental breakdowns are expected. And I sometimes feel overwhelmed with all of these. I am scared, but I can still push on. Most people will not understand this, and I don’t bother telling them.

Lockdowns have been really good for me. I don’t need any excuse to go out on weekends, no planned dinners and other social conventions. Over 18 months, I have been able to focus on growing Digital Envision, and it will be better next month, next year and beyond. While most people complain, I kept my mouth shut, and keep pushing through all barriers.

Summary

2 words to summarize the above lessons: empathy and sacrifice.

I learned how to read people when they need something from me, and it is not pleasant most of the time. I get used to it, but still it stings everytime.

When you’re working to provide for your kids, you would do anything to keep them happy. I have the same feeling when it comes to Digital Envision. There is no compromise to that, and it makes me happy.

In the Final part I will talk about how I interact with other business people and the opportunities that I captured.

“Nothing is miserable unless you think it so; and on the other hand, nothing brings happiness unless you are content with it.” ― Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy

By Tuan Nguyen

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What I learned after 3 years doing business – part 1

People say that over 50% businesses fail after 2 years, and over 90% fails after 5 years. Given that Digital Envision Pty. Ltd. has been running for over 3 years, it’s time to look back and reflect on the lessons learned.

Tl; dr;

  • Start from scratch is a lot heavier than purchase existing businesses.
  • Building contacts and networks takes time, A LOT of time.

How did we start?

The journey begins in September, 2019. A friend of mine worked for a clinic and the IT company who supported the clinic went out of business. She asked me whether I knew another IT company. Coincidentally, I was planning to participate in an event called Startup Insider, which was a Shark Tank – like event. “Right now I don’t know, but give me a week and I’ll send you the details of an IT company.” – I told my friend.

In 1 week, my business partner and I created everything from nothing. We registered the business name, created the profile website, created a brochure representing our services, basically everything needed to present to the clinic. And we got that contract the week after. It was simply just maintaining and further developing a few WordPress websites, nothing too special. However, part of me was surprised of how fast one can build up a company just like that. All we needed was the will to do.

So we got our first client, how did we get our second one? This was difficult for both of us, but we managed to get 2 more small projects from the first client as well as the employer of my business partner. However, both of us were just working on this company part time, there was no commitment and therefore the sales became rarer and rarer. And because of a misunderstanding from within the company, my business partner got fired and we faced the first opportunity of having him doing full time for DE.

Everything changed.

He started doing full time for DE. I introduced him to BNI and we decided to join under web development category. We started the most difficult time of our company, survival. BNI has been really important for our growth, my business partner spent a lot of time making connections and joined meetings with business owners in BNI. I did a lot less networking than him due to working full time for Adslot still. I was in charge of all technical aspects and around this time we had our first staff, a general admin and a developer.

That was a lot of work for 2 amateurs trying to start a small business. Looking back on that, it was good that we started from scratch. We now understand what needs to be done to build the business from ground up. However, next time, we will look around first and try to buy an established business instead of growing from scratch.

Growing business networks

Like I said before, BNI has been a key factor for our growth. However, it took us a year and a half to finally see the fruits. Through the first and second lockdown in Melbourne, everything froze and we managed to get most of the grants, which were tremendously helpful. We had barely enough to pay our employees, while continuing to conduct meetings with more and more people within BNI networks.

After a while, we made some people think of us whenever their clients said they needed a website or a mobile application. And it all started to explode, especially in the first half of 2021. Before that, we had doubts on whether this actually works. We had a hard time discussing on whether we needed to extend BNI membership because we didn’t see anything fruitful at that time. But we persevered on that chosen path. Since then, we joined 2 more business networks, one being Victorian Chamber of Commerce, where we had the opportunity to meet with the politicians and listen to their plans ahead; another one is Club of United Business, which we found extremely helpful on our path of building a better business.

Zoom networking meeting
Me at the top left corner in a meeting from Victorian Chamber of Commerce

After talking to people who referred us business, I realized that it is crucial to keep in touch with the key referral partners, as they need to remember us first thing when they hear anyone talking about needing our services. If they don’t remember us at that time, most likely other company took our place in their mind. This aligns well with one of BNI’s principle: be visible. And we will continue to be visible in all of our networking events, by participating in the conversations, people will remember you and your services.

Summary

If someone asks me to sum up my experience on the above lessons, I have 2 words only: decisive and persevere. We saw an opportunity, we took the leap of faith. Business partner and I all agree that I have a lot of patience when it comes to business matters. And so far, it worked out for us.

In Part 2 I will discuss 2 more lessons about people management and work-life balance.

“Be decisive. A wrong decision is generally less disastrous than indecision.” – Bernhard Langer

By Tuan Nguyen

New normal – are we fked? – Part 3

Last 2 blogs are about my observations, and this one will be about my assumptions and actions to deal with this “new normal”

Tl; dr;

Assumptions

  • The pandemic is here to stay, maybe downgrade to a seasonal flu.
  • People will be working remotely more.
  • There will be financial/economic consequences after we get out of the pandemic status.

Actions

  • (Try to) ignore the news that is not related to my goal(s).
  • Keep a consistent daily schedule.
  • Research and prepare for future real estate investments.
  • Improve Digital Envision and VA For Everyone businesses.

Assumption – COVID-19 is here to stay

cat with cute eyes

Since September 2020, when we just got out of the longest lockdown in Melbourne, I started to expect that the pandemic will not be gone any time soon. We have made great progress on vaccinations, but as long as there are still a significant population who are not immune, we still face the chance of mutation and therefore, outbreaks. Not to mention people are irrational and there is always a thirst for physical connections. Which is why I was not surprised when there were other lockdowns and outbreaks afterwards, as they are all expected in my mind.

With that being said, we are living in the best time in history. All previous pandemic experienced a lot more cases and a lot more death. Black Death plague in the 1300s, it killed over 30% of Europe’s populations. Spanish Flu in the 1900s, which infected 500 millions people and 100 millions people died. We should be grateful that we are in a much better place now.

Assumption – Working remote will be more common

work from home meme

With social distancing rules applied, offices cannot put as many people like they could before. There is a chance that some of the workforce will be working remotely as a norm. This will change a lot in the professional services industries. I am still unsure if blue-collar industries will be affected or not.

I have been working from home since March 2020 and my personal experience is that sometimes I get distracted of certain issues in the house, therefore reducing my performance. Moreover, the line between work and life fades when I work from home. Long term it may lead to work-life unbalance, which is not what anyone wants.

Therefore my thought is that we will come back to the office part-time instead of full-time. How many days? I don’t know. People are still trying to figure out the balance.

Assumption – There will be an economy consequences

frog meme

Since the government has to publish a lot of fiscal as well as monetary policies to support businesses as well as citizens during this time. There will be a time when we need to pay back what we spend today. Will it come any time soon? I don’t know. For now everyone is happy because their asset values are climbing up day by day, week by week. Who cares about the downturn, right?

I am no economist, and surely everyone has their own judgement about the future. I only want to ensure that my future is somewhat predictable in financial term.

Action – focus on what matters

yoda on focus teachings

We have too much distractions today. Our attention has become a currency that every business out there try to buy. This is why advertising businesses are so successful. They broker those deals.

We all know that to be good at something, we need to spend a lot of attention to it. Therefore, I decided to block out all news and information that are not relevant to my goals and my interests. This started when we started going into lockdown last year (March 2020).

I realized that if there was something really, really bad, I would know it from my friend and business circle. So I don’t need to read the news to know about it first hand. People have the need to share disastrous news anyway. We had a tiny earthquake a few days ago for like 20 seconds and the whole social media is already flooded with it for a few days. As a result, I unfollowed all news site, drop my email subscriptions to minimum, and only check social media during my breaks throughout the day.

This frees up time for me to do things that I deem more important to me. I started to spend more time cooking, do some exercising (not much but I keep it consistent), improving important relationships and working on my business. I also started to research the spirituality topic and find it very useful to keep me stay in my track. Through my spiritual journey, I feel at peace with Death, when the time comes, I will welcome it and walk along side with Death like an old friend. But I know that I can still contribute to Life, so I have a strong faith that until I cease to prove my usefulness, I’m not going anywhere. This helps me stay calm during life and death situations.

Action – research

During this time, I read a lot of books related to real estate investments and do researches on them. All to prepare for the case when there is an economy down turn. My patience is somewhat higher than average, so I believe that I will be able to wait for a good deal to strike.

Researching is not an easy thing to do. I need to keep an open mind, as well as managing my risk level to figure out which assets can be comfortable for me to hold long term. To me, anything that is less than 5 years is considered short term, 5-15 years are medium term, and longer than 15 years are long term holding. Obviously I would like most of my assets in the 15+ years. Therefore a thorough research is required before I jump into a new investment deal.

Action – work on my business

Lately I decided to quit a high paying job to fully work on my business, which is a big decision because now I only get paid for half of what I used to get. However I get to work for myself, and it is really a different world to me. I worked 2 jobs for the last 2 years and it was time to eliminate one thing in life and fully focus on the other one.

The businesses are flourishing, in both Digital Envision and VA For Everyone. I believe as a business we can hit 20 staff by the end of the year, probably more. We are still small but our growth has been great in the last Financial year. And there is a different world when it comes to business finance. I am looking forward to taking advantage of it. This financial way will help me purchase more and more real estate assets in the future. And who knows, I may dabble in other investment assets as well.

Summary

I believe that everyone must have a plan for the future. Sadly most of us walking around with no idea about tomorrow. Is it the lack of education? Is it just human nature? I don’t know. But the fact is that we are irrational creatures, and logical thinking is basically unnatural to us. It takes a lot of courage to actually follow the plan we set out for a better future.

“Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value.” ― Albert Einstein

By Tuan Nguyen

New normal – are we fked? – Part 2

Let’s talk about what I see in other people when we are all put into an unexpected situation.

Tl; dr;

Most people I know have negative thoughts about the future. They all have different ways to deal with the pandemic.

  • Some withdraw into their self-built containers where they just wait for the storm to pass.
  • Others break the rule repetitively to go where they want, do what they want, and justify it as freedom of choice.
  • Some others pursue new habits, hobbies.
  • Only a tiny portion of people that I know, who can and commit to take advantage of the circumstances.

The hibernators

Source: libraryvisit.org

As the name that I just made up suggested, this type of people will create a safe haven for themselves and stay there until everything is over. And as long as they are comfortable, staying out of troubles and other issues that are happening, it’s all good right?

I am lucky enough to surround myself with friends who have stable jobs and income. They are generally did great in university, being respected in their fields, and therefore secured jobs and in some cases, career. It is understandable that when the whole pandemic happened, and if they are not being affected by the economy, then defensive cocoon is definitely an appropriate choice to go. (Defensive cocoon is a term in chess where you just put all the pieces next to your king to weather the enemy’s attacks).

It is quite easy to spot these people, especially with limitation in travels and reason to go out. Some behaviours include:

  • Being lazy to go out (within the rules), and if going out, they are the ones who look at the time first in the group.
  • Avoid drastic changes, even if they know it’s right for them. Changes can be relationships, jobs, place to live, etc.
  • Often use the phrase: “Once we get out of this…” Every exciting things are pushed into the future, leaving all other things in the present.

I think it is a perfectly reasonable way to deal with the crisis. However, there are little contributions from these people to other people, or to the humankind as a whole. But at the end, they may survive, and that is important.

The rule-breakers

Let’s put aside the anti-vax and anti-mask people, since they generally fall into this category. In this section, I only want to talk about those who break the rules in a more subtle way, but still think they are in the right.

One thing to note is that I have done breaking the rules as well. This is only what I observe from myself and from other people. Most common things that we do is that despite curfews and restrictions, we find every ways to get out of the house, even though it’s not deemed necessary. And we tell ourselves things such as:

  • I can’t stay at home, I’m an outgoing person.
  • It’s only a few hours.
  • I just want to have some fresh air, I didn’t come into contact with anyone.
  • I have work permits, they can’t fine me. (my all time favourite, also apply people who has permits to do charity works)
  • I have freedom and rights, noone can restrain me.

My thought on this is, it is somewhat selfish to justify going against the rules to satisfy oneself the “need” to go out. The 3rd and 4th lockdown in Melbourne happened partly because of the one unlucky person who did exactly that.

So, if you don’t want to break rules, or get tired doing so, what else could you do?

The hobbyists

“I am experimenting something new”, “I just started on the thing that I’ve always wanted.”, “I plan to do this and that”. These are the typical sentences that I hear my friends say every now and then in the last 18 months. And it is quite exciting and beneficial to start a new hobby or a new business idea. But I have some concerns when certain signals appear. Considering this scenario: a person who has never touched anything musical, suddenly announced that they want to start on not one, but two different musical instruments. Or a person who has never started a business, and then plans to start 2 different businesses within a span of 6 months. Something doesn’t add up here.

My hypothesis is that these people are just looking for something, anything, to distract them from the real issues. Most common ones are binge-watching movies and TV-series, but I purposely exclude them from this category. I only want to look at people who start something new during this time. The truth is that to build an actual hobby or a business, you need to focus on doing just that one thing. Juggling multiple things at once will either exhaust you, or you will end up with nothing done, because everything is half-baked.

This is me speaking from experience, I used to do a lot of different things in my free time, all at once, e.g. building electrical circuits, playing guitar, playing piano, rubik speed-solving, etc. And let me tell you, I ended up knowing a little of everything, but nothing to be proud of. I would rather do one thing and be an expert in it.

From the observation, it seems like these people does not have any goal in life. They simply live and go with the flow. “You Only Live Once” mentality. People with goals behave differently. They are focused on one thing at a time and do not stray from it. This is why those people are quite boring to talk to sometimes. As all they know is that one thing and you will end up listening to the same thing all the time when you talk to them. But those people are the ones that actually make things happen and change the world around them.

The world changers

These are the ones that I admire the most. They believe that it doesn’t matter what is happening out there, how they respond to it is the only thing that matters. They happily adapt to the new circumstances, and even thrive from it. They rarely listen to news, but they know everything related to the topics that interest them. World changers believe in helping people get what they want, and in turn, they receive what they deserve.

I happen to be a part of a small group of people who strive to be the best at what they do. We all have our own goal written down and carried with us all the time. It’s the compass that guide us when we feel lost. The written text prevents us from doing anything that does not contribute to achieving that goal. I pretty much have the text in front of me all the time when I’m working. And when I’m walking outside, the tiny piece of paper is felt in my pocket as a constant reminder.

It’s not that hard to spot these kind of people. They can always recite their goal in a 1-2 sentences without even thinking. The best thing is that I always have a feeling when I talk to different people, whether they are focused on their goal or not. Sadly I have not encounter anyone outside the group who is determined to get to their destination, by any means necessary. But maybe one day I will.

Summary

People have different ways to respond to the change in circumstances. Above are just 4 different ones that I observed. Without a doubt, I want to be one of the world changers, because if I only live once, why not lead a life that affects as many people as I can in a positive way.

In Part 3, I note down a summary of what have I done in the last 18 months that contribute to my goal, and how I ignore almost all news that are non-related to my goal.

“Clarity and simplicity are the antidotes to complexity and uncertainty.” – General George Casey

By Tuan Nguyen

New normal – are we fked? – Part 1

Just my thoughts on the “new normal” that has been talked about in both social media as well as government official announcements. What I observed other people’s behaviour after a year and a half under COVID-19 influence, and how did I respond to the same circumstance.

Tl; dr;

I think we are heading towards a cliff as a whole. Big explosions are expected to go off at anytime. However, it depends on what can I do if and when they happen.

I choose to hold close to my investment assets, and not selling anything as of now. Holding as much cash as I can in the offset accounts, while looking for more investment opportunities. I will only expand my portfolio if I find something that fits my calculations and risk tolerance.

The economy

Did you ever look back 2 years ago, when a 2-litre bottle of milk is $2.00? Now, it is $2.40. Same brand, same bottle. What happened? Did inflation go up so much that we did not even notice? Other food products have gone up too, maybe not 20% in the case of milk, but surely, 10% is the norm. While people are looking, researching on stocks, real estates, cryptocurrencies, other aspects of our lives are also going up at a high pace. And nobody bats an eye.

So why did it happen? According to investopedia, there are 3 forces that may affect the inflation rate of a certain product. Cost-pushing, Demand-pull, and Expansionary Fiscal Policy.

  • Cost-pushing: with the restrictions in travelling as well as worsened relationships with foreign countries, we are not importing as many materials in the last 2 years. As a result, a lot of subsequent products are going up due to the lack of materials. We can see it in the increment of new property builds.
  • Demand-pull: this probably can be observed the most when there are disconcerting news, like the first lockdown in Melbourne last year. People flocks to purchase food, and not surprisingly, toilet papers. We did have some people hoarding them and resell with a higher price. And sadly some people bought the items.
  • Expansionary Fiscal Policy: I strongly believe this is the cause of all food prices going up. With various supports coming from the government, suddenly there is more money in people’s pocket, and they can afford more. Corporations are probably the best people to take advantage of this fact, and they raise the price, just a little. I don’t blame them, if I were in their shoes, I would probably do exactly the same.

However, our economy has not been thriving at all. Lots of money going into people’s hand end up in properties. Let’s consider 2 streams, one is purchasing established properties, the other is purchasing new builds.

  • Established properties: this purchase, in my opinions, does not contribute to the productivity of the whole economy. It’s just moving money, or mostly credits in this instance, from one bank to another. And because the price of properties has been rising, there is more and more credits being created every time properties change hands. Which may lead to the breaking point where people realize that there are just too much debt to pay, and we have a time bomb waiting to explode.
  • New builds: contribute a temporary boost of productivity and jobs, due to the fact that someone has to build the property. However it is not sustainable. Some people will argue that we can keep building houses, but we only have like 30 millions population. Who are you building these properties for? Unless the government has a better migration policies, and hoping that people will flock into Australia, we might not end up where we think.
Source: ABS

Since when are we borrowing to buy properties more than we invest into our business, and therefore the economy???

Employment

I have seen companies who wants to employ an experienced level person for 6 months, but unable to do so. They put their compensation to more than $160,000 per annum but there was no hope. At the end, they needed to source the resource from oversea.

We are facing an issue where most of our senior level employees are from migrations, and not a lot locally. This may be the reason why employment is still high, and even if it’s low, the people who got employed may not worth it. The longer our border restriction is, the companies become more desperate and they will need to either go for offshore resources, or agree to a sub-optimal local one.

I know about this because I’m running a service to help businesses finding their offshore resources. The business is called VA For Everyone. And I talked to a lot of business owners with resounding answers that are similar to what I described above.

Summary

I guess that’s long enough for a rant. The economy and the employment aspects are pretty weird and I manage to take advantage of it by providing people what they need. However if this drags out for another year, I am not sure what is going to happen.

Next part I will share my thoughts on people’s psychology from observing people in my circle.

“You see, but you do not observe” – Sherlock Holmes

By Tuan Nguyen

A cocktail in your hand, and on your wrist

Imagine you’re in a bar, you walk to the bartender and say “Get me something that looks like my watch.”

The bartender looks at your wrist, and say, “A mockingbird, sir?”

You laugh.

He laughs.

Seiko laughs.

Tl; dr;

I bought a Seiko Presage watch for my birthday. It is the most valuable watch in my collection so far.

The watch signifies a milestone in my career, and my life. Looking at it reminds me of that milestone, and in the future, it will be an invaluable memory. And this timepiece will be there to remind me of that.

The watch I bought.

Seiko was my choice of brand when I decide to buy a watch for my birthday. Mainly because I need a dress watch, and it fits my budget.

This watch is part of the Midnight Cocktail collection. There are 5 different designs, which represents 5 different cocktails. I chose the Mockingbird due to the simple design, and suitable for a good dress watch on my wrist.

I almost picked the one that features a whisky-based cocktail, however decided against it because I don’t feel like the face and the strap has the same colour. Maybe in the future when I can ask for a strap replacement, I’ll consider purchasing that kind of watches.

Price differences

It is very hard to track the watch price in the market. The Presage Mockingbird RRP is $699, but a quick google search and you can find various pricing from different dealers.

I have been browsing the market for a while, and have my eyes on a few other watches from different brands, such as Rolex and Omega. However the price is surprisingly unpredictable and there are a lot of people buying/selling for a profit.

Google image for Seiko Presage Mockingbird prices
Source: google.com.au

I ended up picking the one in Myer, mainly because I can obtain the watch in store and can inspect it immediately. It was an exciting day when I picked up the watch and tried it on my wrist.

The feeling

Wearing this watch is very comfortable, the strap and face is not too big to overwhelm my wrist. It sometimes feels like I don’t wear a watch at all, very lightweight. I feel a lot more confident, more empowered when I have it with me.

The great thing is that there is no battery, it recharges itself through my movements. So theoretically, it can run with me until the end of days, and plus 2 more days. 😀

Symbols of the watch

So what is this one signifies?

Well, it is my 30th birthday. And people have an expectation that these kind of round-number birthdays need to be celebrated differently. So as part of the excuse to mask my true reason, I can simply use this one as an important milestone of my life journey.

For the true reason? I would like to only disclose that to only people that I trust. So if you see me going around wearing this watch, it is an important event. I will treat this as a special jewellery for special occasions.

Summary

This is the first watch that I bought for myself, and for sure it will not be the last. I am somewhat of a watch enthusiast, and I will continue collect other timepieces as part of my life journey.

By Tuan Nguyen

Experience – Thinking into Results – Week 2

Following up on my week 1 post, this is my experience about knowing-doing gap when I am in the middle of week 2 materials of Thinking Into Results course.

Tl; dr;

Week 2 is all about learning what I can do and what I actually do. Being aware of them helps me to close the gap between what I know and what I do.

  • Most people know a lot but not doing anywhere near their knowledge level.
  • People do things they do not want to do, hence getting results they do not want to get.
  • Only by changing paradigms, you can change your behaviour, which will change your results.

What is the knowing-doing gap?

Bob Proctor introduces the idea of knowing-doing gap, which is the difference between how much a person know, i.e. his/her knowledge, and how much that person is doing. We learn a lot about different things in life, but how often do we actually do it?

For example, I know a lot about the theory of sales and marketing, but am I a good salesman? Far from it. This is my knowing-doing gap that I need to close. There are 60 trillions in US dollar per year that corporations spend on training their staff, helping people to know more. However the missing link here is that we need to help people to DO more.

Why people do what they do?

Imagine someone who needs to get in shape, they have just started dieting and exercise. Then they see their favourite cake. They know that it is not right to eat that cake, it will not help them achieving their goal of getting into a good shape. However most of the time we observe that they will eat the cake anyway.

So why do people know that doing something will harm them, but they do it anyway?

The answer lies in our subconscious mind. It is the way we are programmed to do. Imagine you have been eating excessively in the last 10 years, now suddenly you want to stop doing all that? How would your mind react to it? The subconscious mind resists change. It does not like doing new things. If the current way is safe, why doing something different?

Well, the answer here is that we need to implement a new programming into our subconscious mind, getting it to perceive another way as “safe”. Because only by changing ourselves, we can get different results.

What do I need to work on?

Firstly, I need to work on my concentration ability. I find myself easy to be distracted by mobile phones. So what do I imagine my life will be if I am able to concentrate?

  • I concentrate on the task at hand, and will keep going until it is done.
  • I only access my phone 2 times during work hour, 11am and 4pm.
  • I still have access to the phone to answer phone calls and text messages.
  • I turn off most notifications except phone calls and text messages.
  • I get more done during the day and be more productive.

Secondly, I want to work on my organizational skill. I am aware that I do not have the cleanest apartment in the world. So let’s do something about that.

  • I clean the dishes after cooking and eating.
  • I vacuum the apartment at least once a week.
  • I keep the desk organized with labeled items.
  • I throw away boxes that I no longer need.

Summary

This lesson help me figure out the knowing-doing gap: what are my undesirable results and how to address them. I can see the clarity in my actions now and will follow the new way that leads me to the result I want.

“Do everyday things in a new way to get the brain thinking in new ways.” – Jesse Itzler

By Tuan Nguyen

Experience – Thinking into Results – Week 1

As stated in my previous blog post, I start week 1 of Thinking Into Results program on Monday (31/08/2020). And it is harder than I thought. First lesson is setting a worthy goal, which turns out to be much challenging than expected.

Tl; dr;

  • Setting a clear vision of a goal involves how I feel about the outcome.
  • Being able to clearly “see” the goal proves to be challenging.

Setting a C type goal

3 different types of goals

According to Bob Proctor, there are 3 types of goals.

  • A type goal: something that you can do. For example, you bought a new car 5 years ago. Now you have a desire to purchase another new car. For this goal you already know how to do it. Therefore there is no personal growth attached to the outcome.
  • B type goal: something that you think you can do. For example, your salary is currently $50,000 pa. You set a goal to make $60,000 pa. But this is so small that you already map out steps to be able to achieve it. Negotiating salary, working harder, making yourself noticed by the manager, etc. The point is, you already think that you can do, therefore you have no motivation to do it after a while, and often end up not achieving it.
  • C type goal: something that you want. This does not involve you knowing how to achieve. The point is to clearly see the the target and direct your actions and emotions toward that goal. The path will be laid out along the way.

Vision a goal

The goal has to be in the fantasy realm. I need to use my imagination to “see” this goal. It is easy to say “I want to make 1 million a year in income.” It is much harder to imagine how my life will be when I reach there. The workshop exercises require me to describe how I envision what I want, down to minute details.

The objective is to push my vision down to the subconscious level, which I will learn how to do in future lessons. I will need to repeat the process of finding and defining goals for the next 2 weeks.

Dr. Jordan Peterson has a great view on why do we need to set goals in our lives. And I think it aligns with what I am studying at the moment.

Summary

Starting to know what I want, and envision them in details makes me feel like I have more control. Control over my life and my circumstances, I feel more powerful and can take on responsibilities for getting what I want, no matter the circumstances.

I will continue on this path and see how it turns out.

“First comes thought; then organization of that thought, into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality. The beginning, as you will observe, is in your imagination.” – Napoleon Hill

By Tuan Nguyen

Discussion – Pareto distribution

Recently I came across a lecture from Professor Jordan Peterson. In this lecture, he talks about Pareto distribution and comparing it with the Normal distribution. There are massive distinctions between these two and I think it is interesting to note down some of them.

Tl; dr;

  • Pareto distribution deals with creative domains, or human creativity. Where the majority of work is produced by a small number of people.
  • In a domain, the square root amount of people produces half of the product.
  • Given a randomized trading environment, the trading activity always end with one player holds all the money.

Pareto distribution

In contrast to the normal distribution, where most activities occurs in the norm, Pareto distribution argues that the most activities occurs around a very small set of units.

Galton board
Normal distribution visualized
pareto distribution
Credit: mode.com
Visualize the 80-20 rule with Pareto distribution

One thing that we may have heard before, 80% of the work is produced in 20% of the time. This is the most common example of the Pareto distribution. One thing to note is that this distribution works best in creativity domain, where things are not certain.

There is a formula, called Price’s law, is used to determine the amount of creative work. This formula is derived from Pareto distribution theory. The formula states that given X people working on a creativity project, square root of X people produce half of the progress, while others produce the remaining half.

For example, if 10 people are assigned to do a project, then 3 people will deliver half of the project, and 7 people deliver the other half. This does not make sense when I first read about the theory, but experimental results clarify the point. An amazing thing about this law is that if 10,000 people work on a project, we only need 100 people to deliver half of the project. It becomes ridiculous at a large scale.

Applying Pareto distribution to the Game of Money

With the same understanding of the distribution, and project it to how wealth are concentrated only in a few individuals. We can clearly see the Pareto Distribution at work.

Professor Peterson talks about an example, like Monopoly, we start with 4 players, and at the end, 1 player ends up with all the money and wins. And even if we start again and again, only 1 person is the winner. With Pareto distribution theory, in a randomized environment, and we apply randomized trading rules, the game always end with 1 player having all the money.

I did not believe it.

So, I decided to write a small web app to test the theory, what’s programming is for right?

To my surprise, it always end with one player holding all the money. Which player is not important, the important thing is that we know the end result will take a shape like that.

You can access the game here https://lightbringer1991.github.io/trading-game/

Summary

Knowing about Pareto distribution, I finally have an answer to the question: “Why can’t we distribute wealth evenly to everyone, would the society be better off that way?”. The simple answer to that, is, even if we do the distribution, over time all the wealth will concentrate to a small number of people anyway.

“The more you know, the more you realize you don’t know.” – Aristotle

By Tuan Nguyen