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Archive for January, 2012|Monthly archive page

Over and Out (OO)!

In Relationships on January 25, 2012 at 8:25 pm

Another new friend (actually to be precise, a group of friends I’d met at a career networking event) whom I will consider entering into this blog as we’d spent time chatting beyond the networking sessions we attended.

OO is a bubbly character, full of bounce and a joyous outlook on life. He is unafraid of meeting new people and generally happy to be the first to introduce himself to others…perhaps the word is exuberant. He is warm and unassuming and does make people laugh when he’s in the group.

However, I made the mistake of agreeing to a midnight show after an event, thinking that it was a group thing. I guess I assumed that would be the normal course of action for a serial networker like OO, who seemed to have many friends. But, I should have been more … discerning?

In fact, when I agreed to watch the show, the fact was that I didn’t mind watching a midnight show with OO. Preferably in a group, but even if not, it was no skin off my back – it would be cordial, and friendly…which was partly why I wasn’t too particular about whether there were others going along. Unfortunately, OO must have thought otherwise, and at the event that we had arranged to meet at 8pm, he insisted on buying me drinks and not allowing me to pay; he stuck to me the whole night, even going so far as to lean into me, and basically “claim me”. It was uncomfortable for me and I kept trying to evade physical contact. I tried to recall perhaps it was his style (was he like that the previous night?) to be physically close to others, and I bordered on telling him several times that I could get around on my own, I could buy my own drinks, and please, not to lean to close to me. It WAS a networking function and I would have liked to meet other people, but he was not allowing me the space. Anyway, I decided to leave the event early and head home first, to get some breather before the midnight show. Was I glad I left!

The show went well and OO tended to keep his distance when we were not in a crowd, so that was a relief on my part. He insisted that we have supper after the show. I was too polite to turn him down, and managed to be cordial for another hour or so, as we had early morning eats along the streets.

After that, over the next two days, OO kept messaging me and asking me to go for tea. I turned him down twice and I felt like telling him directly that I did not want to see him that often. I appreciate his friendship, but I’d like to keep it cordial. Meeting once in a while is fine, but everyday was not. Perhaps I would feel and think differently if I liked him in some way. Perhaps then I would look forward to receiving his calls or SMSes, but unfortunately, in this case, I am just not interested. As one friend puts it “It’s either you like, or you don’t”. No hows, whys, whos and whats.

OO called this afternoon, and I replied several hours later “You called?” He said yes, and that he wanted to ask me about the work event that I had over the last few days. I think it’s just an excuse to communicate with me. I have not replied to the message and probably won’t – I’m sorry OO, I need to have some distance, or I may be so irritated at your insistent contact that I will not even want to have you as an acquaintance. (Why can’t the guy take a hint?!)

What would you have done in my shoes?

The Consultant

In Relationships on January 25, 2012 at 8:00 pm

Sometimes, I wonder about chance.

At an event atop a hill, in a gathering of about a hundred persons, of all the events that I would be at, and of all the events that THEY would be at, I met two friends – both suave, both consultants. One friend I meet regularly for business and we kind of keep in touch through a mutual network of friend and acquaintances. The other – now, this is a story worth telling – was someone who I was supposed to meet over a year back for a reintroduction, but never did.

We’d met through a mutual couple friend who were keen in organising small get-togethers. That was about 3 years ago. We met in a group of six, had drinks, some food and generally enjoyed the company for the evening. Nothing much progressed out of that gathering for most of us who were new acquaintances. 3 years later, my friend gets this idea that I should meet with the consultant of the group again, and she claimed that we would “get along tremendously”. So through some coaxing, we agreed to meet for a Sunday lunch.

Unfortunately (and this was really one of those rare incidences – so rare that it was unique!) I lost my voice that very week, and could barely whisper. I was physically fine, and actually up and about – just voiceless. I asked my friend if I should still go ahead with the lunch, but we eventually decided that it would not be a good idea. So I cancelled.

Thereafter, I had expected the consultant to fix another appointment with me, but I guess he must have also felt that since I had cancelled, I should be the one doing so. The days passed into weeks and months, and we still had not met. My friend even went to the extent of inviting me to an office party of hers so that we would have a reason to be at the same place at the same time. But unfortunately once again, I was held up with an event and by the time I was on the way to the party, it was rather late and I heard that most of the people had left, including the consultant.

Ah well, so another foiled attempt.

So, imagine my surprise, when all of a sudden, at this quirky event atop the hill, some guy approaches me and starts saying “you probably don’t remember me, but I believe we have a mutual friend.” And he wasn’t very clear about who this friend was and it was the last thing on my mind, and he went on to mention some obscure facts of the last meet up we had, which for a moment, I could not grasp. When finally, I managed to piece the puzzle together, I realised that this was the person I was supposed to re-meet but never did.

Imagine my surprise! And this consultant was not even an invited guest to the event atop the hill. He (like the other consultant – what’s with consultants and gatecrashing?) had been asked by a friend who had an invite, to come along and he had decided to tag along.

We spoke briefly and we left saying that we should really meet and that we’d arrange since we actually had each other’s numbers from long ago (ha!). The first thing I did that night when I got home was to text our mutual friends (2 of them) “You wouldn’t believe who I met today!”

My friends were pleasantly bowled over and one of them went “Well, if you’re meant to meet, you’re meant to meet!” So … since chance had thrown us together in this manner, what do we do? And feeling guilty from not having rearranged a meetup earlier, I decided to text the consultant and finally figure out a meeting.

And so, yes, we met. He was terribly late for the first meeting and I had to entertain myself at some networking event which he then arrived at and promptly assimilated into the crowd. We had a late dinner thereafter and I must say that it was a pleasant dinner with good food, and good company.

I’m still a little stunned at what life will throw at you when you least expect it, but hey, not complaining and definitely enjoying the company of this “old-new friend” from the atop the hill!

To be continued!

Meeting V and W

In Relationships on January 25, 2012 at 7:34 pm

W and V were a result of my meet up with my city friend.  We met for drinks in a nondescript (actually purposely so – the entrance didn’t even have a signboard! You had to be ‘in the know’ to even attempt to walk into the place!).  The cocktails we unique indeed and the menu very detailed (a little too much to read at times!) and the snacks had a western-asian fusion twist that was not unpleasant, and rather tasty actually.  It was an experience in all, being there.  We chatted and i got to learn more about the friends my city pal hangs our with – ladies with confidence and a sense of exploration … and sharp tongues!  Unfortunately, work called and I had to pick up my mobile bar items and left a little tipsy (very slightly!) on 4 extraordinary cocktails.   I would have loved to stay to see how the evening would pan out, as more pub crawlers meandered their way to where we were and the place got rowdier, but that had to wait for another day.

Leng Kee? This Leng won’t ki(4)!

In Entrepreneurship on January 14, 2012 at 6:45 am

Leng, one friend who never fails to make me laugh, with his witty comments, and humorous take on life, is full of verve, and despite claiming to be in a down period in his life, apparently still laughs A LOT. I am confused. Hahah, but I am glad that his comedic side has not left him and he can still add a sparkle to my day!

Leng is a fighter, and he inspired many of us with his tough yet firm take on life. He is a natural leader who uses humour to lead and to softly put across his ideas. I remember our undergraduate days together, leading the freshman camp. If not for him, the main committee would not have had so much fun while creating one of the best camps for the society!

Leng let  us use our creativity and gently guided us. I think he also has a knack of assembling a good team and bringing each person’s potential out. I was a junior, so, I dare say I was a little naive and ‘blur’ but under Leng’s leadership, I didn’t have to worry about everything else and was able to just focus on what I was supposed to do. I think he ironed out the kinks among the various teams (there must have been lots of logistics issues which I was blissfully unaware of) and managed to deliver a smooth camp, and definitely a memorable one.

We also had our fun times after the camp, and he was one of those that I could clique with and thus, we kept in touch.  Over the years, we started working and Leng started dabbling in investing, we met as friends, and as client-agent, and it was always eye opening for me. Leng shared openly what he learnt about finances and I distinctly remember him saying (when he discovered this thing called a credit line and balance transfer) “I could have $5000 for only $12 a month!”. Over the years, as I too learnt to manage credit and balance my finances, this sentence kept playing around in my head.

I think it was also through this sentence, that my thoughts on credit management and credit risk were formed, for I use credit extensively in running my business. In the beginning, it was tough, and my partners and I literally had to scramble for money and pull them from every pocket we could, to stay afloat. Thankfully those days are over (and hopefully not to be repeated in the future, ever!) and I look bank with gratefulness that there was such a thing called a credit line.

We had to weigh the cost of money against the cost of losing the company. And if you ask me, interest of a few hundred to get a few thousand was definitely worth every cent! Then as we developed, we start to play the money game, as I like to call it. We started looking at interest rates vs loan quantums, compound interests vs simple.

Making money is not just about not loaning money. It is about managing credit to do more, turning the lower cost of a loan into a higher value product or service and thereby creating wealth.

This brings to mind what one of my uncles said to my cousin working in a bank (and he is VERY rich – purely through his own efforts – he has a swimming pool in his GCB in the most expensive estate in Singapore). He told my cousin to take a loan from her bank because she enjoyed preferential rates as a staff of the bank, and to park the money under one of the more stable shares of singapore, like REiTs or Singapore-xxx companies. To which my cousin vehemently replied, “No lah uncle, I can’t do that. I am not a risk taker! I won’t dare to buy shares with money I loan.”

I was a listener in the conversation and I thought to myself, what I would do.  I would take the bank loan (if I had such a facility) and indeed use it to get capital which I could then use to create more wealth.  And the ROI on buying a REIT vs the low loan interest was definitely attractive. I remember thinking that I had indeed come a long way from not knowing about money to knowing how to start thinking about money in this sense.

At the end of it all, what is money and what is wealth? It is but created by man to manage life.  If we can understand money and learn to control it, we can control our wealth.

The City Never Sleeps

In Relationships on January 10, 2012 at 3:58 pm

On Monday, I met another friend from days long past, someone I had shared many a wild house party with, and whom I think we share a lot in common with, in terms of our work ethics, how we view the world, education, life issues and the way we handle matters. The resemblance of her life experiences to mine made me wonder ‘why didn’t we keep in touch all these years?’. We would have loved swapping stories on the good, the bad, the ugly.

The city indeed never sleeps with this friend of mine, used to late nights out hanging with friends, of random incidences and unexpected situations. She’d even gone through a bout of friendship-business relationships in the same industries I am in. Sometimes, I wonder, are our individual lives as different as we like to think they are? We could swap the main players around, and the stories would be the same, just a different person, in the same storyline.

Over dinner, we swapped heartaches, grouses and experiences that have formed the bulk of our ‘lost years’. I guess through these shared experiences, we got to learn a bit more of ourselves, and of why we acted out our lives the way we did. We also got to know each other better, of course.

Through her I recognize the power of chemistry between two people. You know, if you like someone, you should say it or act on it. If not, in the later years to come, you will always have a hole in your heart, or, you would just be waiting for a disastrous mistake to be made.

I shared with this friend my resolution to head out and meet new people this year, and she shared my enthusiasm. However, she handed me an added challenge – that if I meet more than one new friend that week, it would not count towards my ‘quota’, and would be considered a bonus instead. So I can’t just meet 5 people in a group and slack off for the next 5 weeks! All right, fair enough. I guess she’ll have to keep tabs then!

We have arranged to meet this this Friday…I am thinking I may have a problem with the snowball effect of meeting and remeeting old friends and new friends if I continue meeting everyone I meet this year more than once a week, but that, my friends, is a happy problem, as they say.

Onward to new friendships!

Jade – auspicious tidings for the new year!

In Relationships on January 10, 2012 at 3:38 pm

I met Jade on Saturday, just at the end of the week, so here was my ‘old friend’ for the week.

Over a long tea session, we caught up with about two years of news and happenings. I sure missed out on my friend’s life! So many things had happened in her life – new jobs, new country, new friends.

Anyway, our discussion brought us to an event we attended about two years back, and she shared with me that that night, one of the persons we were speaking to really made an impression on her, and somehow, she never got  the chance to ask to keep in touch.  Now, two years on, she thinks that she should have taken a first step in staying in touch. Who knows? A good friendship might blossom.

Anyway, never too late to try and I attempted to contact a mutual friend who might have the person’s number and voila, via return email, we got the number … The ball’s in Jade’s court now. The most recent update is that they are meeting for tea … Cross fingers, good luck my friend!

“Before sensibility and practicality set in, let your heart lead the next step you should take, for no matter how many other steps you take, it is the one that you will always think you should have taken and that would have made the difference.”

Meeting Rand

In Entrepreneurship on January 9, 2012 at 9:35 pm

My first old friend to meet actually found me.  Through the Christmas and New Year well wishes came an SMS from an ex-colleague I’d not met for the last 7 years.  In his own words, he was just a “small boy then”.  So many years have gone by and I now see before me a young man juggling the demands of the world as best as he can.  It’s the age where we start to ask if this is what we want from life and what more can life offer us, or we offer the world?

Rand shared with me his working experiences, and his current employment pangs.  The boss was unappreciative, rude and bad tempered.  Staff turnover in the small company of 10 averaged 1 every month.  Rand thanked the company for redeveloping his interest in design (he’s a programmer by training, but was assigned to do marketing and sales work for this IT company, which turned out to be a passion-rekindler for Rand), but he also wanted to explore freelancing as a web designer, or set up a business of his own.  He was deciding when to leave the company and said “I’ll look for another job, then leave and start doing freelance web design at the same time.”

I probed and asked if that was what he really wanted.  For to freelance, or to set up a business are two different methodologies and thought processes, from which his actions will be directed. I shared with him that if he was serious, he should consider setting up the company straight away instead of trying to hedge his bets (as so many people often do and end up struggling at the half-way mark) by getting a job and coping with freelance work at night. Because if he did so, I could foresee that he would be coping with the demands of a new job to learn the ropes and prove himself, and he would feel stretched if he set up his own outfit at the same time – and as human nature would work out, he would start giving himself excuses like “I’m too busy at work this week to start on my own company”, or “I’ll do my website next week when I get this project over with.” and so the story goes (sounds familiar to anyone?).

And at the very best, he would end up a freelancer earning a few extra bucks a month, but still depend heavily on his day job.  Was that what he really wanted?

Then Rand started saying that he could not leave without the security of a job. I asked him “What are your commitments? You’re young, your family does not need you to support them, you have no wife, no kids, no car, no house, you are basically earning for yourself. Your parents would expect you to support them and you want to as well, but they do not need all of your support right now … not yet, anyway, while they are still earning their own keep. And besides, how much can you give them from your salary every month, and for how long?”

“Anyway, what’s the worst that can happen if you don’t have a job?”

“If you don’t take a loan, don’t run into debt, buy the correct insurance to protect yourself and your family from unforeseen circumstances, at the very least, you will lose all your money and take a couple of years to pay off any debt (if any).

Seriously, what is the worst that could happen? You might not have any business, you might not earn the salary you are earning, but you would be able to earn minimally to survive – realistically speaking, a few hundred dollars a month is enough to eat. If you get sick, make sure you are covered by the right insurance, or if you get into an accident, seriously, even with a job, you never know what could happen.”

I think our conversation started him thinking. He said he was seeing things in a different light. It took a day or two to sink in and for him to digest what we could do with life.

I’m glad to say that 2 days later, Rand sent me a text saying  “You’re right. What’s the worst that could happen? I quit this morning and I’ll be setting up my company today.”  Kudos to Rand!

Here’s to all aspiring entrepreneurs and people looking for a way to a more fulfilled life – go out and do something you really want to – what’s the worst that could happen?

The Start of a New Year

In Uncategorized on January 9, 2012 at 8:41 pm

It’s the start of a new year and I was beginning to feel the ennui of going through the whole process of Jan to Dec once again. Everyday is new, but at the same time, it’s not, if you know what I mean.

We strive to fill our days with meaning and hope that at day’s end, we can tally up our scoreboard and say “I did something worthwhile with my day”.

So whilst I was clearing my mailbox in preparation for the new that may come my way, I also had time to scroll through the profiles in my newly set up Linked In account.  I felt a little voyeuristic as I glanced at the CVs of my friends from long ago, and friends whom I’d never really known what exactly they did (well, now I know!), and truth be told, I did wonder what happened to each of them beyond the profiles they put up.  I mean, behind every job change and picture change, there is a story, yes?

I emailed a few of them via Linked In and wished them a Merry Christmas, and at the same time responded to requests to be linked.  I then received an uplifting email from a stranger on Linked In to whom I was now “connected” to.   This stranger said “You look like a cheerful person – did anyone ever tell you you have a beautiful smile?”  To which I replied, that my friends had mentioned that before, and thankfully, I use my smile all the time, being naturally cheerful!  Then this person went on to ask if perhaps, we could meet up in 2012. and I thought, why not? New year, new friend!

This little exchange must have formed the basis of what I would later term as my “New Year Resolution” for 2012 – to meet a friend a week, new or old.

I have no idea how I will do so, but I started by sharing my resolution with my girl friends and asked them to join me on my journey through 52 weeks and 52 friendships!  I received encouraging and enthusiastic responses and I’m glad to say, 2 weeks into the new year, I am on target! (Ha!)

So starting today, I shall begin to chronicle my friendships of the week and  invite you to join me on this journey to reach out beyond the virtual world, to actually meet and greet a fellow human being.  For at day’s end, it’s not the CVs on Linked In or the posts on Facebook that form the strong bonds of friendship and of appreciating life and the people around us, but of the real time we spend with each other, with the subtle nuances of body language, tones, and live responses that really bring us alive in all our animated glory and personify what it means to be alive!

“A thousand people may know me and I may know, but I only need a few to hold.”