Recently I’ve been struggling in my idea of enjoying work. Work has been non-stop both for my startup and my dayjob, and burnout just seems to be around the corner. I’ve been finding it difficult to enjoy doing my work. And it bothers me, both the struggle from the high demands of my work and my lack of enjoyment in it. The latter bothers me significantly more.

I tried to break down why I’m having the struggle to find the needed enjoyment. I found three things:

  1. I found that doing work is heavy when I feel that I’m working for someone else;
  2. I found that work limits my creative goals and creative juices when work is itemized;
  3. I found that work is drudging when I am doing it only for work’s sake: To deliver.

And from identifying theses causes to my problem, I tried to find how I usually enjoy my work.  And this is what I found out: I believe that work should be enjoyable, that work should be creative, that work should fulfill my purpose. And this can be done by going back to basking in the fundamentals of my work, namely:

  1. The enjoyment of of building something;
  2. The enjoyment of learning new things;
  3. The enjoyment of solving problems;
  4. The enjoyment of making ideas into reality;
  5. The enjoyment of knowing that my work has a purpose.

From the identification of the problem, to its causes, to how my enjoyment can be attained, I can then work on the steps needed for me to arrive to my goal:

  1. Instead of focusing on the reality that I am working to make my clients happy, I can focus on how I can pour out my talents and energy to my craft.
  2. Instead of just focusing on the itemized deliverables, I can allocate some of my spare time to attend to my creative goals.
  3. Instead of of focusing on delivering, I can focus on how my work has an end-purpose, and what that end-purpose is, and then working on that end-purpose instead of just remaining on the side of delivering.

In writing this something of great importance came to mind. The words of Paul echo in my ear,
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.” (Colossians 3:23-25)

 

We are serving the Lord Jesus Christ. And realizing this, not only in my mind but to my heart and my actions, is what brings purpose to my work.

 

And this is where joy is found.

 

 

For strange reasons I just bought my own domain.

I really don’t have a concrete plan for this site: For now it’s just a personal blog. A safe space to write off anything that’s in my heart or my mind. Sometimes I share my goals and my progress. Sometimes I digest books and try to teach them. Sometimes I write about things that I’m learning. Oftentimes I just write gibberish nonsense. And this is if ever I get the urge to write.

So now I have my own domain. A space for the randomness of my progress. And for whatever strange reason there may be I am writing this.

The 21 Common Sense Business Development Truths are points of business truths coined from the book “Financial Times Guides: Business Development – How to Win Profitable Customers and Clients” by Ian Cooper.

These down-to-earth truths, as Ian has coined, offer much wisdom on how to develop your business, whether you’re just planning to start out or you’re already running in traction.

The 21 truths in it’s entirety are titled as follows:

  1. Focus your efforts on turning your enquiries into business and not just on generating leads.
  2. Exceed customer or client expectations.
  3. Speak to potential customers or clients … and speak to them nicely.
  4. Be open for business.
  5. Don’t let your admin get in the way.
  6. There’s no job more important than helping customers or clients part with their cash!
  7. Don’t let technology get in the way.
  8. Quality and word-of-mouth count for everything.
  9. Actively strive for consistency.
  10. Recruitment is part of business development.
  11. Keep in touch with your existing and past customer and clients.
  12. Master social online media.
  13. Test your ideas, concepts, and prices.
  14. Plan, but keep things simple.
  15. Take complaints seriously,.
  16. Make your customer or client environment appropriate.
  17. Train your people to spot opportunities.
  18. Get out of your office or premises and mix and mingle.
  19. Find a niche and specialise.
  20. Model what works best.
  21. Be squeaky clean – you need to be trusted.

 

Conclusion:

These truths pack a lot of punch. Without getting into the nitty gritty of things (I advise to read the book for details), I will summarize them into five points:

  1. Customers first. Your business exist for your customers. As much as possible, exceed their expectations. Ask their feedback. Take their complaints seriously. Talk to them and build your relationship. Make their life better and easier.
  2. Goals over processes. It is harmful to get short-sighted by focusing on the processes and procedures without thinking long-term and asking the following questions: What is our business here for? What do we value? What are our goals?
  3. Test your ideas, concepts, and prices. “Business is not, as some think, about taking wild risks. It is about making sensible and sound judgments based on information that is usually available. Test as much as you can, so you have as much information as possible. In this way any risks you take are calculated ones, which then ‘stack the odds’ in your favour.”
  4. Model what works, but find a niche and specialize! “If something has been consistently successful in the past, there is a reason for it.” At the same time, it is being different that makes businesses stand out.
  5. Build trust. I’ve built Progressia with zero financial capital, instead I built it all just on the economy of trust. Be clean. Have strong values. Be honest. Be a person of utmost integrity. In the smallest of things, realize that it’s an opportunity to practice your character. And then you will attract people who will want to help you succeed and do business with you.

 

 

Reference: http://wpc.475d.edgecastcdn.net/00475D/uk/Email/FT_Guide_to_buisiness_Viking.pdf

I think I am a weirdo.

My age is something that I prefer to not bring up–if I can just forget it and cast it into oblivion. But I think I cannot just do that. I have to yield to it at some point, and probably even to reality. Most especially since I have a feat that I need to drill into my thick skull: That I started a startup in my twenty three years of living. I am a twenty three year old CEO. And the startup that I started, which I started with zero financial capital, still lives after almost one year of being founded!

This experience is something that I want to poke at, to think about, to learn from, to dissect, to treasure, and yes, to write on.

These points that I will be sharing may be jumbled, but here are the lessons that I learned from this crazy of an adventure that you might also learn from.

If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur who plan to juggle a dayjob and a startup, read on!

Time Management

This may not be an important thing if you have your hands free for your startup (or your dayjob), but when you have a dayjob and a startup, pro time management skills is a must! You’re working two jobs at the same time! The other has a distinct clear future and it pays your bills; The other is a high-risk-high-reward venture that may not pay anything yet.

I believe some of the actions for this then is to develop effective time management strategies and a commitment to be purposeful in the usage of time. And last but not the least, to not just work hard, but WORK SMART.

Psychological Management

A GREAT part of the strains of startup is psychological stress. I think this is highly the case if you’re also the CEO of the group. There’s only so much that you can handle. The stress, your thoughts, your emotions, and your physical weariness — these are heavy and they will take a toll on you.

Some of the actions then, just like above, is to develop effective strategies for dealing with stress. Your self-talk, your feelings, your thoughts, your determination, your vision, your habits, your systems, your environment, your faith, etc. Most of them basically revolves around how you manage your self. I believe self-management is a very important part of this experience.

On Growth

I think that in terms of technical growth, personal and character development, and networking opportunities, I am growing faster than most of my peers. I’m working more than the standard 40 hours a week. I’m being exposed to more technical problems and solutions. I’m meeting and talking to more people. I’m solving more problems crossing across diverse natures and disciplines. My speed of gaining experience and the areas where I gain experience is much more demanding and robust.

This also became evident with my dayjob. As a result, I had been entrusted with more responsibilities, I had more confidence, I was faster, and I also became more inquisitive of how the systems, processes, and business of our company work, which to me previously was hiding from plain sight.

This is also the stage where I came face to face with my own immaturity and lack of experience. When you’re twenty three and you started an initiative with people who are more experienced than you, you can’t help but see it. But it is how you take it as a learning opportunity that I consider to be most important.

On Pain, On Grit

I have to admit that a lot of days I just want to give up: Mornings where I wake up and start the day by questioning my own existence: Nights where I cry out of pressure: Vacations where I can’t take my mind from work, etc.

The days then will come where you will start to question everything. Your motivations, your actions, your plans, your life. But from there, I found a solid foundation upon where my motivations and dreams are laid. So I find the grit to press on. And I find a stronger source of light that lives within.

One of the lines from a successful entrepreneur that I can’t forget is this one: “Running a startup is like eating glass and staring into the void.”

Running a startup is painful. But it also develops a stronger will, a stronger mind, a stronger heart, a stronger grit.

On Grace

One thing that I also learned from this experience is this: That I need to practice grace. Not only towards others, but most especially towards my self. Ideally to be gracious as how the Lord is gracious.

After all, we are just beggars of of grace.

On Moving Forward

My sister said that I now achieved a childhood dream of mine: To be a CEO. I really hadn’t thought about it. But if I now think about it, it is kind of true to a degree. I am indeed living the dream.

The doubts, the struggles, the weariness, the uncertainty, they all contribute to the pain that keeps me from practicing gratitude. But having a mind for gratitude is important.

And from this gratitude, I’m moving forward. Despite the struggles, I’m learning more about the world. I’m getting progress.

On Progress

We initially named our startup “Progress” because we want to have progress.

After wanting to revise our name, I suggested to name us “Progressia” because I want our startup to become a symbol of progress: A group of people who are working towards progress, not just for ourselves, but for our people and our nation.

We want change.

We are working towards progress.

In the case that if we fail, we will actually not since we stand as “people who are working towards progress.”

Win or lose, we will still win.

It’s a win-win scenario.

I think that I had been putting the blame of my recent lack of self-discipline on to Someone.

My new knowledge of God’s sovereignty was music to my ears. Even though the knowledge of it is beyond comforting to my soul, but it also became a reason for me not to take any responsibility over my life.

Yet it is amazing, how cold pitch-black nights can open my eyes that is; Sadness made me realize my foolishness.

Now I am ready to bounce back. I am at the edge of my seat. Now is the time to make up for what is lost and move forward!

Distractions

We live in a generation filled with buzzing, noisy, entertaining distractions. We may be preoccupied with tasks, our schedules filled with meetings, and our mind conquered by short-term goals. We think that we are productive, but at the end of the year, we look back and see the time that we lost.

I learned that there’s a GREAT difference between what is urgent and what is important. Important things are what we should only strive to work on, while urgent things are what must be taken care of. Anything else is a distraction.

Working on important things is the goal; working on urgent things is a responsibility.

But consistently working on what is important is difficult. Partly because it requires more mental effort and force, the disciplining of the mind, and the keeping of strong good habits.

But to be distracted is dangerous.

It is a great boon to learn how to number our days, so that we may hopefully gain a heart of wisdom.

Emotions

Kings fell. Nations crumbled. Wars waged. Families broken. All because of a single thing — the fallen human heart.

Leadership always requires strong control over the heart. To keep emotions in check. To control outbursts. To make sound and wise decisions. To have control over the self.

The heart is deceitful above all things; We should watch over it with all diligence.

Stewardship

With everything that we have, with the relationships that we had been given and will be given, with the range of free will that we have, with the space and time that we are in. With the degree of control that we have — it is stewardship entrusted to us.

It is then our job to take responsibility over it.

Finally, self-discipline is hard — The moment we believe that we have it, we then easily lose it. But it is something that is worth having.

 

PS: Though I try to avoid taking quotes out of context but all of these sprung out from a paragraph that randomly popped out of my head: “Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.”

Pain has a weird way of knocking at my door and trying to change me. Her cold, colorless heavy air and her overwhelming, sheer weight would almost always slow down my pace, make me sit on my chair, and force to me my unwanted introspective questions.

My frustrated poetic expressions aside, I would like to think and write about the encounter I had with this one question:

“Is what I’m doing (i.e. starting, building, and running a startup) at this young age worth it?”

I’ve read hundreds of books and videos and I believe there would be people standing on two sides of differing stances:

At one side, there would be people who would discourage what I’m doing with a burning passion. They’d say I’ll miss a part of my life, I can’t enjoy my 20s, I’ll miss knocking opportunities, I’ll be different, probably even hated, I’ll “eat glass”, I won’t be able to enjoy a girlfriend, and so on and so forth.
On the other side would be the people that would say that I’m extremely lucky.

But to answer the question, I think we have to dig deeper than that. It was then I came upon three things that helped me answer this question.

 

Here are three things that I believe sheds light to this question:

Thinking in a wider and higher scope of existence.
Everything happened, happens, and will happen for a reason, or so that’s what my very finite understanding of the sovereignty of God stands to believe. Knowing that I’m only a speck of dust in the Universe brings me considerable comfort. And it brings me great hope of the things that happened, are happening, and will happen.

My dream is no longer my own.
It would be selfish to consider my dream as my dream only and no-one else’s; a dream that I can just throw away when I want to. That would probably be okay if I was still a child, but that is no longer the case. People have joined me in my quest. People who are significantly better than me, who are far more experienced, skillful, and talented. People have already spent their precious irredeemable  time, money, and opportunities because of me. I am no longer alone in this. Of course the weight of this responsibility is not light, but this is also something that I find I could always take great strength from.

Being mindful of the future.
I may not have the ability to peek into the future, but I believe that we have the responsibility to create a better future not for ourselves but for those who will come after us, our children, our grandchildren, our grand-grandchildren.

 

 

So is starting a company while in your 20s worth it?

To those who want to stand up and make a dent in the world: Yes.
To the dreamers and idealists who believe we should dream for everyone’s sake: Yes.
To the futurists who want to pave a better future for our children and grandchildren: Yes.
To those who would sacrifice present happiness for a long-term vision: Yes.
To those who are different: Yes.

To the crazy ones: Yes.

 


 

Do you enjoy what you’re reading?  I wouldn’t mind if you subscribe.

 

 

 

Learning To Read

The first time that I read a book from cover to cover was when I was in highschool. Our English teacher assigned us a project of reading a book and then making a review out of it. Being a highschool kid who never had any interest in books, I got myself a random fiction book called “The Twelfth Angel” by Og Mandino. It was a book that told the story of a little American kid who’s into competitive baseball.

And the book taught me the value of “never, never, never, never, never giving up.

A Whole New World

Reading the book was fun and exciting. It was like I was dragged into a whole new world with interesting characters, and where I can think and feel what the characters think and feel at the moment. After two months, I finally finished the book. Man, does it feel good to finish a book from cover to cover! Then my sister showed up. She asked me if she can borrow the book. I agreed. She took the book from me, she read it on her spare time, and then after one week, she was finished.

She finished the book in just a week, while I struggled to complete it in two months.

That was the time when I said to myself, “I have no talent in reading. I hate reading books.

Three Reasons To Read

Everything changed when I got into the later years of my college days. I now consider myself an evangelist of reading. In fact, just last year, I finished reading 41 books within a single year. I’m still a naturally slow reader, but I try to atleast put a portion of my time towards reading.

And here’s why I think you should too. I can probably list tens, or maybe a hundred, but I’m going to give you just three reasons why you should read books:

First, because the world-class guys do it! Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Benjamin Franklin. If I am to name one thing that these guys have in common, it is that they realize the importance of reading. These guys have been reported to be voracious readers and that their reading eventually contributed to their success. If these guys who are already at the top did it, and are still doing it, why aren’t we?

Second, because it’s fun. Books can take you not only to different places, but to different eras and even different worlds as well. Imagine, time travel at the palm of your hands! Who would have thought that I could get to experience being in the Romantic Period of Europe? Or who would have thought that I could learn the childhood years, the aspirations, and the habits of one of the Founding Fathers of America? Books open to you how big the world is.

Third, because it makes you smarter. Studies have shown that reading books improves the following: Concentration skills, creativity, self-awareness, knowledge, empathy, and that’s just to name a few.

Reading As An Investment

The simple act of reading might be one of the best investments that we can make. It improves many aspects of our life, and it improves us as a person and as a society overall.

If you can remember what I just shared earlier, I have no talent in reading. I was born a slow reader. And I just got into reading late into my college years. But I now realize the importance of reading.

And a thing that I also believe is this quote that I found to be true. It’s goes like this:

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”