Jan 31, 2016

Can Financial Freedom turn a retriever into a german shepherd dog?

He was tall, like basketball-tall and like how people describe in Chinese; skinny and dry. He took to the stage and begun his opening speech. Big words, dramatic pauses and full of enthusiasm.

The man was new but not really; he replaced an outgoing gentleman on the board, an Angmoh transferred in from another division. 

The audience was a raucous gathering of successful cowboys, swashbucklers and fishmongers. You could not find one here who could not tell a tale or two of their gallant exploits out in the field. They were seated in comfy chairs and smiling lazily, the effects of lunch were beginning to set in on most of them. 

Speaking slowly and simply, the man softened up these tough locals who were renowned to appear passive and indifferent.
A simple joke here, a remark there, he succeeded in teasing out obligatory smiles from the crowd. And then he dropped it.

"We actually should have been growing 10%, if not even 15, it's not impossible..."

"But we wouldn't have actually grown, if not for acquisitions..."

"So without that, what do I think about this?"

"Its crap. Really." 

What an audacious statement! Did a magical fairy whisper numbers in his ear? Can we finally turn this speech into a two way dialogue?
The youngest of them was indignant. A fishmonger by trade, the boy was still yet a juvenile in the eyes of these elders. He glanced slightly to observe the crowd. These veterans, seasoned by the elements and fearless after years of plying their trade out in the field. 

Blank stares, tight-lips and stony gazes. They were just... there, quietly taking it.

Where is all their fire now? The boy wondered.

Jan 4, 2016

The first working day of 2016

Today began for me just like any other. I got up past seven, did stuff, then left after packing breakfast. Traffic was heavy like it used to be before Christmas, and I arrived early at half past eight. I was pleased to see the carpark still relatively empty, and my favorite single lot available. I cruised smoothly towards the lot and lined parallel ahead. Slowly I angled in, stopped to adjust, then pulled out and re-did it again because I wanted to park 'swee swee'. Is there an impatient driver waiting to pass? No, it does not matter, nobody is around yet.

Said the usual good morning to the early birds, and I am at my desk. I have planned a minimalist theme to start the year. My table is a shaped somewhat like an L, and I positioned my chair in the 'armpit' of the table. I just have my laptop in the middle, spanking new calendar on the left, by the phone, and a name card holder on my right. I plan to place a pot of something on the right. Maybe I shall visit Far East Flora at the Queensway Macdonald's drive-through place.

It was the first working day of 2016, yet it felt like any other. It is not a fresh start or gung ho shouting of ambitious resolutions to undertake. There is simply no need. I am merely continuing where I left off. I realized I had been busy, real busy and hyperactive from the beginning right till the last day of 2015. Today just symbolizes the striking of the gong where my boss and I climb back onto the hamster wheel that had its steps-count reset.

Twelve months ago, I had enough of my job at what resembled a modern-day 'Flea Bottom', and did what any reckless young man would do. I quit, tossed my anxiety aside and took on a role I had wanted to do but had always dismissed myself as not ready. Somehow I did not fall off the roller-coaster and here I am again for the next ride.

One good method of coping was something I learnt at basic sales training. Sometimes I encounter a stubborn human roadblock and find myself going nowhere. Maybe we do not click, or we are of conflicting zodiac signs, and then I felt helpless because I thought that was it.

What I learnt was this Stakeholder Plan below. You take a step back, then assign your counterpart to the right description. This blockhead really has no interest in working with me, but then his influence in the company is low. Aha! Perhaps I'll talk instead to his colleague who is my supporter, and help him in becoming my champion?

The market today is really red. Just so happens I wore an ang-teh-kor for my first day at work too. Some of the blue chips are getting hit back to the early October levels. As bad as the SGX stocks did in 2015, the SET was no better over the same period. Notably, AIS had fallen off the cliff after some brinksmanship that resulted in the most expensive 4G license bidding in the world. The hospital trio - BDMS, BH and VIBHA have been holding up pretty well amid the turmoil. Meanwhile Amazing Thailand lives up to its reputation as tourist arrivals continue to climb.