Saturday, 29 June 2013

Money Matters

"Do a job you love and you do not have to work a day in your life!"

The above has been quoted by sages and management gurus for ages. We envy people who love their jobs or make a living out of what they love doing. Not all people have that kind of luxury. Yes there is a handful that live out their passion and that’s great. But the rest of us should not view it as a failure that we do not do what we love for a living.

Being a practical being and due to my background whereby money is scarce, I do not have the luxury to choose what I love to do immediately after my secondary school. The post high school study that I had chosen has to be one that’s reasonably priced, locally available and promised some kind of career security. The latter is absolutely important as I or at least the people from my generation are expected to “pay back” to our parents via monthly allowances when we start working. I know lots of people from the younger generation might not be very familiar with such “commitment” but that’s how it is.

So, I’m not ashamed to say that money is fairly important in choosing a career but I’m not ready to say that I’ll let money to have the final say in my decision-making. So yes, there is a middle ground here but I guess one can choose to do something that combines money and passion (well, at least not something that you dread doing) but along the way, if you believe your passion can get you somewhere, go for it.

Furthermore, I truly believe passion can be cultivated over time. Don’t box yourself up and buy in the idea that certain things are just not my cup of tea. In desperate times, you don't have the luxury to choose. So I don't believe being a whiner! I believe in making the best of what is available for me. And don’t underestimate our ability to adopt and adapt. You might amaze yourself

As a practical person who knows that no one can do the stuff they are passionate about if they are worrying about food and rent. Support yourself somehow first, and then explore your passions from there.

I personally feel one is very lucky to even have a passion to start with. There’s always a choice whether you wish to put money or passion first. So either way, you are in a fortunate position. Anytime better than people who do not have a passion for anything.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Chained to the Desk

When talk about addiction, what generally came to mind would be drugs, coffee and alcohol. It is an addiction when you have difficulty saying no to it. Instead, your mind is preoccupied with the thing or activity all the time.But seriously, can anyone be addicted to work? Of course, it is absolutely possible.
However, a work addict seldom gets condemned. In a way, it’s one addiction that is socially acceptable. For instance, you would be excused when you missed a family function because you need to work late…again. Tell them any other reason, you’ll get a lecture for sure.
The problem is since it’s socially acceptable, no one really cares about the danger of workaholic. It was said in Japan, “death by overwork” caused 1000 deaths per year, nearly 5% of that country’s stroke and heart attack deaths in employees under age 60.

I don’t think anyone wants to die prematurely due to work. But majority of us do not even know we are already an addict.Too much work like any addiction is bad for an individual. And having employees work long hours does not necessarily promise greater productivity for the company either. 

I still cannot resist telling my Australian friends that I started on a salary of RM1800 and had to work, for many years, on the graveyard shift in Malaysia. Although I feel they need to experience pain before pleasure and appreciate the value of hard work, it often does not come across like that from their perspective.

Currently, I am working as an Accountant in an Australian multinational that reminded me that no one is allowed to work beyond office hours unless a written request is submitted. It is not more than 12hours per day.Office hours were very strict. If you wanted to stay back after 5pm, you had to make a request in writing. No one ever does that because in the management’s eyes, anyone who had to stay back is either not doing his work well or plain inefficient.When my Australian’s mate asked me why I worked long hours and bring home my works, I laughed and simply said that I am so use to Malaysian work style.

But in Malaysia, we head to work before the sun rises and reach home after the sun sets. Surely, that cannot do any good to the quality of life index, no matter how much one is paid. Again to my fellow accountant in Malaysia who stuck at work between 8pm and 3am in lieu of month-end – who’ve had to forcibly forego dinner, quality time with their family and friends, a favorite TV show, just so those books are closed to perfection- That is our life and our curse. 
Note:- There is a difference between hard work and workaholic.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

The A-Team

Steve Jobs said this about the Beatles and teamwork: “My model for business is the Beatles. They were four guys who kept each others’ negative tendencies in check. They balanced each other and the total was greater than the sum of its parts. And that’s how I see business. Great things in business are never done by one person, they are done by a team of people.”

The most important idea to take from this is the notion that the total team is greater than the sum of the individual parts. In teams there will be a disparity of abilities. Because of this, it is crucial to hone in on each team member’s unique strength in order to maximize success of the team.

The diversity in thinking and behaving —are the keys to success in today’s dynamic workplace. That’s why the most effective leaders leverage their behavioral differences. And the most effective leaders recognize and celebrate and adapt to the differences in their staffs.

Those birds, flying throughout your organization, are as different as eagles, peacocks, doves and owls. That’s why the most effective leaders know they have to feed these birds differently in order for them to all perch together on the same branch to achieve the intended goal.

In particular, Doves and Eagles are good for each other as long as Doves don’t get too intimidated. Doves can encourage Eagles to be more sensitive to the needs of others, and Eagles can encourage Doves to be more assertive and decisive.Owls and Peacocks are also good for each other. Owls can help Peacocks get more organized and keep focused, and Peacocks can encourage Owls to take more risks and be more flexible. 

So, when developing relationships with other birds [sorry, other people], it’s useful to know what type of bird they are.

Lennon said “A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.” Align your team’s goals so that each individual is working towards the team’s overall goal.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Rich Dad, Poor Dad

Many people believe that the love of money is the root of all evil. In the long history of mankind, there are many examples of how money led to the destruction of many societies. Even now, whether we like it or not, we live in an age where life is centered on money. We need money to buy things, be it for our necessities or our desires. 

We may ask ourselves, why we do have to work, and spend eight hours or more at our office, even though we may not like the environment, our superiors or our colleagues?

The fact is we must go to work every day, simply to earn money to live. We need money to maintain our health, to pursue our studies and much more. Some say money cannot buy us happiness, but truly, do we feel secure, safe, calm and happy when we find out that our bank account is zero or even negative?

Seen in the right context, money can give us a meaningful life, to develop our abilities and pursue the things that we enjoy in our life. The real problem in our society arises when money is fueled by an inner human attitude called greed. Some people even live by the creed that money can buy everything in this world, and as such, they are unable to determine how much money is enough for them.

Nevertheless, the people’s perception towards money has changed over the years because we have become more aware of personal finance issues, which help us understand the concept of financial freedom.

Some people see financial freedom as having more than enough money to cover their cost of living, without having to work actively. While for young people, they may see financial freedom as the ability to earn sufficiently without the need to burden their parents. It could also relate to the freedom of being able to do things whenever we want to.

Furthermore, the idea of “freedom” must also mean freedom from unethical conduct and values, where one is prepared to earn money at the expense of one’s integrity. A person who has an astronomical amount of money, accumulated through unethical means, will remain a slave of money, and thus he does not have real financial freedom.

True financial freedom is achieved when one has the ability to resist and control certain things in dealing with the sources and uses of one’s money, hence partaking the righteous decisions in whatever situation, either in prosperity or in hardship. Certainly, one who can deal freely with his money in prosperity or adversity is the one who has achieved financial freedom.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Happily N'Ever After

When a couple becomes husband and wife, life becomes a blur. Family and friends all want to help with anything you'll let them be involved with. And every one of them has loving advice. 

I waded through a river of opinions from people I loved during my wedding. Whether out of politeness, curiosity, or concern, I listened to each piece. But as the flood waters rose higher, I began to see that not everything I heard was worth taking to heart. I received advice like: "You need to have a baby right away. Nothing brings a couple together faster than a baby!" and "A good wife will keep a spotless house and cook every night."

Well, I knew I didn't want a baby right away unless God willed it. As my wife who works full time, I have never expect her to kept a spotless house or cooked every night.

I also heard some scary advice from several couples. Their advice sounded something like this: "When you get married, you'll be happy for few years, and miserable the rest of your life." In other words, "Good Luck!" 

You can't take everything everybody says seriously, but whether you appreciate the advice or not, you can't turn off the advice machine either. Somehow, people mistake silence or subject-changing for an invitation to give yet more advice. Advice from loved ones has its benefits though. I did find some gems among the things I was told – positive advice that had practical application in my young marriage.