Past Present Future – How It Relates To Us

As some of you know I used to work in the Bank.

I just love this disclaimer.

And there are so many different ways the Bank actually spins it around:

Past performance does not necessarily predict future results
Past Performance Is Not A Guarantee Of Future Returns
Past performance is no guarantee of future results

Well they all mean the same thing.
In common speak: “We might be lucky in the past – but we might not be so lucky in the future and we will not shoulder that responsibility of being right all the time – even if we might already used up all your retirement funds

OK – so the last bit is a bit of an exaggeration.

I digress.

Anyway – I find that we (myself included) usually have this fascination of looking back at past victories (usually victories) and thinking we can replicate the same in the future.

Think of it.

Job interviews – they ask you for your past experience and past success in the companies.
Dates – we always look at who the person is today from what the person did in the past.
Relationships – need I say more – the girlfriend / wife has almost photographic memory of EVERYTHING you did / wore in the past (while I struggle to recall what I had for dinner a week ago).

That being said – we put so much emphasis on the past as a solid marker for what is to come in the future.

This is both dangerous and irresponsible – I got to side the Bank with this one.

Most startup factories do the same (I shall not name which – but it’s really an open secret – no?) – just because something does well in Europe / Western World – it MUST definitely do well here in Asia.

And yes – let’s just give the top seat to a European instead of the Asian savages.
They know better – besides they spent most of their formative years in more civilized Europe.

Unfortunately – as much as I believe in unicorns and yetis – it does not work this way.
Life / startups / relationships / marketing campaigns are often much more complex than that.

Sure – there are some principles that stay true – we are after all humans – with more or less the same needs and same “Lizard Brain” that makes us tick.
But the real key here is improvisation.

I view past success as just milestones from what we do on a day to day basis.

There is no such thing as an “overnight success” – rather repeated patterns, rituals, behaviors, habits and mindset – and crafting that to perfection.
So a success or award or <insert ego stroking boost> is just that – a milestone.

Future performance is entirely dependent on current actions.
And like most things in the current – it has to have a degree of fluidity.
Sure – you need to have a clear destination or goal – but the means of execution (eg. marketing campaigns, growth hacking strategies, operational execution) is solely dependent on what you have to work with.

I think we also dangerously discount past failures.
Its usually with failures (at least for me) – that we learn and grow the most.

Pain (a healthy does of it at least) promotes growth.

So does this mean to stop buying all bank products, freeze hiring and stop what was working before?
On the contrary – this means – looking beyond what is currently working, looking at a bigger landscape and raising your standards to stay ahead of the curve and over-exceed “past performance”.

Screw past performance.

The past is just a reminder of what was before – just be grateful and don’t use that as a crutch for the future.

My Advice To My 20 Year Old & 25 Year Old Self

So I turn to the BIG 3-0 today.

The dreaded 30.
So did I achieve all the goals that I set out to achieve?

Not all of them.

Income levels – pretty much checked.
Nett worth – not even close (will get to that later).
Experiences – not where I want to be.
Health – didn’t quite get the 6 pack that I was aiming for.
Spirituality – not where I want it to be as well.
Relationships – can be better.

So – what do I want to achieve for the next 5 years?

More travelling – actually seeing and experiencing the world. More diverse destinations – Note to self: purchase flight tickets WAY in advance so that I don’t give myself any excuses.
Great physique – this is huge – I have always talked about it – but falter halfway due to time and diet constraints. Looking at sub 15% body fat and more muscle mass vs fat.
Freedom – something I truly value and wished I had more of. Great advice I got today – “The More Disciplined You Are the More Freedom You Get” – seems counter-intuitive but probably will elaborate in another blog post.
Philanthropy – getting more involved in causes I truly care about and playing a greater role both in the community and world at large to leave the world better than when I found it.
Growth – to learn and explore more things in personal development, spirituality, marketing, entrepreneurship & actual technical skills.
Tribe – I remember what it used to be when I was 21 and wanted a good role model to follow. I believe that we are put to this world to not only grow personally but to grow others in the process.
Taking Better Care Of Myself – I think this is huge – especially sleep, fresh air, good diet and consistent workouts.
Greater Contribution – My current life direction and focus is using technology to simplify lives. I am a firm believer that humans are not meant to do hard work that they hate (done plenty of that myself). I also believe in awesome work environments where people can grow and are happy to come to work.
I hope I can contribute (significantly I hope) a startup / success of startups I work with in this direction.

I am a bit too old for celebrations I feel – I gave a new phone to my mum so that she would be able to keep in touch with me when I travel in the future, took my family out for a meal and got nothing much but fresher perspectives of living.

So in the spirit of Tim Ferriss’s podcast, I would like to give some advice to both my 20 Year Old Self and 25 Year Old Self.

Just to give you some context – when I was 20 – I was still studying my BSc. (Hons) Biotechnology degree at UTAR. Not the best student, I was mostly feeling lost, had very little confidence that I would amount to anything, was constantly worried about the future (without even taking care of my present – READ: better grades).

When I was 25 – I was in transition of working for the Bank and starting out foodpanda.my.
It was quite a scary and weirdly confident time for me. Part of me felt as if I knew everything – another just felt I can’t make it happen. It was self conflicting yet it was most certainly an interesting period of time for me.

 

My Advice To My 20 Year Old Self

  1. Don’t fret, just focus on what you enjoy – not what pays the most money – there is truth in the old adage – follow your bliss.
  2. Live within your means – set a budget to how much you should be spending.
  3. Start learning internet marketing and start something on the side – it was the wild wild west – keyword stuffed affiliate site could have afforded me much cooler stuff.
  4. Make better use of the internet – the Internet really isn’t just about downloading movies, music, porn and coursework. There’s so many more cool things to learn online.
  5. Learn copywriting & the art / science of conversions.
  6. Learn how to hack social communications / social hierachy – read “The Game” by Neil Strauss and “48 Laws of Power” by Robert Greene.
  7. Start looking for people who are more successful than you – study them – what are their habits, influences, books, and practices that they did to be where they want to be.
  8. Get a gym membership & start working out. Good place to start 5×5 Stronglifts.
  9. Get an internship with MindValley – don’t worry about the salary – just learn and absorb marketing / direct response / culture hacking.
  10. Read more widely – don’t just limit your horizon to self help – but autobiographies, spirituality, business, marketing, game theory.
  11. Network with people outside UTAR – seek out other entrepreneurial individuals and start some side gig.
  12. Join Toastmasters & start meeting people older than yourself.
  13. Join a MLM group to learn the basics of selling. Sales isn’t a dirty work – it’s essentially part of what the best entrepreneurs / linchpins have to do: sell their ideas, their products, their personality, etc.
  14. Learn Finance and how does money work – the various instruments where money is made and invested.
  15. Don’t waste time on well time wasters – actually use the time to study damn it!
  16. Invest in modafinil.
  17. Experiment – not just in labs. But with experiences, mind altering herbs, etc.
  18. Get a proper haircut and invest in a good set of clothes – first impression counts.
  19. Start looking at how to actually apply of what you learn outside the classroom.
  20. Don’t buy CD’s – it takes up space and most of them end up as junk.
  21. Buy Maroon 5’s Songs About Jane and the Battlestar Galattica series!

 

My Advice to My 25 Year Old Self

  1. Set every activity (even phone calls) with a specific outcome – if there is no outcome – don’t do it.
  2. Attend more personal development programs – invest more in yourself.
  3. Be very cautious to your time – spend it in things that really matter and make a difference.
  4. Be more consistent about gym time and actually go.
  5. Read / learn and practice – there is a difference between just knowing and actually doing.
  6. You don’t know everything – stop deluding yourself that you do – because it’s as simple as ‘Are You OK With The Results That You Currently Have’ – if the answer is no – then you are still not getting it right.
  7. Take “EXTREME RESPONSIBILITY” of your life – your current state financially, physically, mentally, emotionally is your fault – there is nobody else to be blamed for your success / failures.
  8. Stop thinking as a consumer – look at the world as a builder / creator.
  9. Plan your weeks ahead. Give yourself 5 Missions Daily in the morning – check back if all missions are accomplished at night – the missions must tie in with your annual, quarterly, monthly and weekly goals.
  10. Start drinking bulletproof coffee in the mornings to clear mind fog.
  11. Spend more time with people more successful than yourself, stop worrying about those that can’t keep up with your ambition – they will always be small and weak – there is no use to convince them to change their ways. Unfortunately that’s how the world works – and that’s why there’s so few successful people – they are just not willing to do ‘crazy things’ that you do.
  12. Keep learning diligently and keep asking yourself every month – “What Should I Upskill Myself With To Achieve My End Goal?”
  13. Limit the purchase of gadgets – I am looking at you – Blackberry Playbook.
  14. Look at your goals daily and keep asking yourself what can I do today to get me there. Remember: small imperfect actions.
  15. Start saving up money to invest in property – learn how to make money using property.
  16. Some movies are really not worth watching – those movies are truly a waste of time and film reels.
  17. Learn to say “No” to more things that don’t align with your goals and say “Yes” to more things that allows you to grow.  I am looking at courses that I ended up not following and not even redeeming the 30 Day Money Back Guarantee.
  18. Seek out more entrepreneurs (and not the ones from Rocket – but real true blue ones) and add value to their ventures. There’s always ways you can contribute.
  19. Travel more – do more than just sight-see but see what you can learn / bring back / contribute.
  20. Find time every month to feed the homeless.
  21. Try to get your ass to Singapore sooner – the Ringgit will fall – oh wait – you already knew that.

 

Those are pretty much the tactical stuff, but I guess on a more strategic side – I would just give these 3 main advice:

  1. Choose Your Battles – Know your odds – fight only battles you know you will win, have a failsafe option and fight a good fight.
  2. Do What Is Right – It’s Not Always What’s Easy or Convenient (Unfortunately) – but trust me, its more sustainable and will get you less heartaches.
  3. Add Immense Value In Everything That You Do / Every Interaction You Have – the world and its denizens do not orbit around you (although it would be cool if it did).

 

Here’s hoping I don’t repeat the above advice to myself when I hit 40!

A Marketer Should Have 9 Lives…

I was just sharing this with my team today.

Remove all the fancy trappings, ninja techniques that comes with marketing.
Take away A-B Testing.
Take away SEO, SEO, CPC – and other 3 letter buzzwords.
Take away copywriting tricks.
Take away sales funnels.

A marketer is a strategic salesperson.
Strategic because as convincing as he is – the marketer is aware of how best to use different channels to multiply his efforts – think door to door Mormons evolving to click bait webinars online.

OK – weird example.

The aim of a marketer is after all to influence, persuade and to illicit an action or thought.
And great writers and speakers also do the same.

It can be to influence someone to start using Macs (trust me – I am trying to be a convert myself – but I still love typing on my Thinkpad), persuading the girl that you are the Alpha Man she should open her legs for, or to get someone to re-think about how much their time is worth and to start ordering food online.

But a marketer is first of all a person who is curious about humans and their idiosyncrasies.
Thus like a curious cat – they should also have 9 lives.

What makes individuals tick?

What are their cognitive bias are?

What is the tipping point for someone to say “Yes” to something?

Where do “Early Adopters” hang out? – Yes I mean you over there who keeps checking on Windows 10 update on your computer

What makes people reluctant to pull the trigger? – Yes, the other camp who still has not clicked on the “Get Windows 10” icon.

Where and how do people place value on items? – The curious case of people complaining that the economy is bad yet still wait in line for the overpriced new iPhone

It’s an interesting brew of both art and science.

Art is making ideas, products and services come alive – hell really good marketers can even make tissue papers the best piece of paper.
Science in having measurable outcomes and perimeters to test against.

And I feel blessed that we live in a digital age where we can track down to the precision of what works and how do we make things better.

With so many data points – we can accurately pin point the exact customers to target.

After all – its all about finding the relevant audience – else it’s as good as selling Windows to a die hard Mac fanatic who is sold on the idea that minor hardware tweaks “changes everything”.

Back to my point.

Whenever I go out – I always observe people, buying patterns, how do people choose items off shopping shelves (do they read the copy? or are they sold with really cool packaging?), what do people talk about, and what their main concerns are.

Simply because – complementing a curious marketer is an entrepreneur – that solves problems for fun and profit.