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Three to Thrive: Lessons Turning 33

As I sit by the beach here in Lombok, Indonesia, for my short getaway on my birthday. I begin my annual ritual where I’ll have my alone-time to review and reflect on what a year it has been as I add another year to my spiritual time here on this physical Earth.

Year 2018 has been the year I’ve traveled the most in my entire life. If there is 3 words to summarize my year, it has been learning, traveling and working.

Between January to July alone, I’ve traveled from Kuala Lumpur to New Delhi, Siam Reap, Phnom Penh, Singapore, Suwon, Seoul, Washington DC, Dubai, Jakarta, Beijing, Bangkok. Some of these cities were regular monthly travels and I’ve not included my local travels in states like Penang, Ipoh, Johor Bahru, Kota Kinabalu and Malacca.

As I hardly get to sleep on the plane, that gave me lots of time to read, think, and Netflix. I’ve read tons of books from business to futurism, from blockchain to personal development, from relationships to spirituality. So this year has been quite inspirational and transformational for myself as I continue soak myself up with new ideas to challenge my existing reality of business and life.

So, these are the 3 lessons as I turn 33:

1) The ROI of the New Economy

I believe that we are living in a transition period just like the time when the Internet was introduced to the world. Internet changed the way we communicate and it made this connected world a lot ‘closer and nearer’. An hour call from Malaysia to China would have cost a fortune 10 years ago. But today, it’s practically free!

It also means that while I’m having my holidays here in Lombok, I’ll still be able to have meetings over Zoom calls, anytime my team needs me.

Just like how the Internet has changed the way human’s communicate, exponential technologies like blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum computing will change the way we live.

Most of these exponential technologies are still at the ‘distraction’ stage, just like where the Internet was in the 1990s, when there were so many Dot Com companies that were created but only very few that lasted till today. However, I do believe that these technologies are bound to disrupt our businesses, the way we work and the way we live.

While the ROI in the old economy is Return of Investment. I believe that the ROI of this new economy is Return on Imagination.

Ideas, Information, Inspiration and Implementation will be the 4 major currencies of the new economy.

In order to gain ideas, information and inspiration, you’ve got to travel, read and meet the relevant people. Who you’ll be in 10 years to come will be determined today by the books that you read, places that you have visited, and the people that you meet.

2) My Best Practice In 2018
I was having a discussion with a friend when I shared that I was able to achieve more focus in Year 2018. This is probably due to the extra time I had during my flights to read, review and reflect.
He then shared with me his secrets of success. He said, “Do you know why most people rarely achieve their goals?”

That’s because they look at their goals once a year. By then, they would probably be setting the same goals, all over again.

As for himself, he spends the first 30 minutes every day sitting on his own, reviewing his goals, journaling his experiences and aligning himself towards his goals.

I was so impressed and I started journaling almost every single morning since then.
Today, I spend my morning by myself at my balcony asking myself these 5 questions:

1) What Am I Grateful For Today?
2) What Have I Done Right Yesterday?
3) What Should I Be Doing Today to Improve Towards My Goals?
4) What Is The 20% Goal that I Must Achieve Today To Bring 80% of Results?
5) What Are My Top 3 To Do List?
6) What Is That 1 Thing That I Must Ignore Today?

Just as your car runs more smoothly and requires less energy to go faster and father when the wheels are in perfect alignment, you achieve happiness and peak performance when your thoughts, feelings, emotions, goals and values are constantly in a balance. As a leader, you’ve 3 major responsibilities. Craft a vision. Create alignment. Champion execution.

3) True Wealth In Any Economy
While technology create new jobs, it also replace current jobs. Think about it… In the past, 85% of people are farmers. Today only 3% of the world are in agriculture business. But they alone can feed the entire world.

Technology do replaces jobs. But it also frees humanity into finding our greater purpose and live our passion. Thanks to the advancement of technology, you no longer need to be a farmer or hunter to crave your hunger, but you can be out there fulfilling your purpose and passion.

As we move into this transition period, I am extremely excited as we will be living in an exceptional time where all mundane, routine and boring jobs will be replaced. Individuals will empowered to do what they truly love to do.

While the thought of robots and AI taking over our jobs sounds scary, you’ll be very blessed to know that robots and AI cannot replace 2 tasks; creativity and love.

I may not drive Ferrari or Lambo. I may not wear an AP and Hublot. But I am truly happy with the birthday week as I celebrated my birthday with my friends and family. It’s these deep friendships and relationships that brings true happiness.

One thing good about growing older is you tend to know what you want and what you don’t want. You become clearer with what you can do and what you won’t or cannot do. Your network of friends will become bigger but your circle of close friends get smaller.

As you grow older, you’ll begin to realize that the wealth that brings true happiness is not more dollar, gold or bitcoins. True happiness comes when you start becoming rich in relationships.

Birthday cake with mum and dad.

Celebrating my granny’s 85th birthday as her birthday is just one day before mine.

My fellow team members of Owners Circle having my advance celebration

What started with a hotpot dinner gathering ended up in an ice-cream shop with a Ferrero Rocher Ice Cream Birthday Cake

One of the prayers I’ve made over the year was to be able to spend my birthday with someone whom I love. And I’m very blessed that this year, my Lord above has decided to answer my prayer and gave me one of my biggest blessing of 2018.

Will You Sink or Swim in The Digital Revolution?

This weekend, I was fortunate to be invited by Roger James Hamilton and his team to speak at the Global Entrepreneur Summit in Bangkok with a group of changemakers of Thailand.

During that 2 days, Roger shared about the very latest top 10 waves to surf in the digital revolution, from crowdfunding to cryptocurrency, to global expansion, and steps that every entrepreneurs can apply straightaway.

Personally, I found it very exciting to be seeing another speaker who speaks in the same business language. As I’ve personally been going ALL-IN into crowdfunding, cryptocurrency, blockchain and recently, my latest obsession has been Artificial Intelligence.

I believe that the technology revolution is like a tsunami. When the wave hits, it’s either you sink or you swim!

You can’t change the direction of the wave. It’s either you equip yourself today with swimming skills. Or you’ll sink when the wave hits!

A third option is to build something entirely new that gives you an unfair advantage in this complete different environment.

So instead of sinking or swimming, you can surf through the waves!

We are living in one of the greatest times to be an entrepreneur and investor. Because if you ride through the wave, you’ll definite have a great time surfing through this tsunami!

Change or You’ll Be Changed

Over the years, I’ve noticed that there are 2 types of people. Either you’re a person with a fixed mindset. Or are you a person with a growth mindset.

So. What’s the difference?

People with fixed mindset believe that in life, there are only winners or losers.

On the other hand, people with growth mindset believe that in life, there are winners or learners.

Fixed Mindset

People with a fixed mindset believe that talent is king. They believe they are born naturally gifted at doing some things but utterly incapable of others. In their view, a person is, by nature, either intelligent and talented or stupid and incompetent, and will stay that way.

Growth Mindset

The people in this group continue growing throughout their lives, acquiring new skills without reservation and actively engaging in their relationships. For them, the only constant in life is change.

People with a growth mindset relish any opportunity to learn tricks from the crème de la crème in a field. They reconsider and discard strategies used in the past, and are always thinking about how they can eradicate their faults and weaknesses.
Growth and development are possible in the growth mindset.

People with a fixed mindset obstruct their own development through their belief in innate talent and their fear of failure. On the contrary, people with a growth mindset work hard and train hard to ultimately realize their potential to the fullest. By confronting our own attitudes and ideas, we can develop a growth mindset

Growth-Mindset Business

In business and in life, the only thing that’s constant is change. And it’s even more important for every entrepreneur to adopt the growth mindset for your business.

Tony Hsieh once said, “A great company is a story that never stops unfolding.” And that means that is important to continuously evolve and experiment. Bill Gates takes this insight a step further, “Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.”
The Japanese have long followed the practice of Kaizen: constant improvement as a fundamental process management technique.

The most important message of Lean Startup is to “fail fast and fail often, while eliminating waste.”
Be The Change

In today’s fast changing world, the biggest risk is not taking any risk at all. Constant experimentation are now the only ways to reduce risk. Our mindset shapes whether we believe we can learn and change and grow – or not. And I firmly believe, in today’s exponentially changing world, you got to be brave to change what needs to be change.

Because its either you change, or its a matter of time that you’ll be changed.


 

2 Business Trends That’s Happening Right Now

Technology has changed so fast in the past 10 years that it has surpassed the past 1,000 years combined. Thanks to the rapid pace of technological evolution, it brought a huge change to the way we live and the way businesses are being conducted.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur or an aspiring entrepreneur, you need to read this and pay attention to the business trends that’s fast changing especially in the past 10 years.

With this, you’ll have a mindset shift that will positively impact your ability to achieving your business, career and financial goals in the very near future.

1) The Trend from OLD, SLOW AND STEADY to NEW, FAST AND SWIFT

Scenario: Today, we are seeing university students with video production and acting capabilities winning major contracts from major firms, beating the traditional, old, big creative agencies. Why? Because their ideas are fresh, new and relevant with the existing world where most eyes are now glued to Youtube and Facebook.

What Does It Means For You?

We are living in one of the greatest times to be alive. Thanks to technology advancement, we are living in a time where for the very first time in history, you can advertise and promote your skills and knowledge on facebook, instagram, or youtube for free!

The power of social media gives anyone the flexibility to quickly ramp up your brand name through promoting your work and delivering value online.

If you’re a skilled worker like writer, designer, actor, marketer, web developer, or singer, you no longer need to clock into a traditional job every day to enjoy your craft. You can be in control over your schedule and continue to pursue your passion and your dreams.

2) The Trend from CENTRALISED AND CONTROLLED to COMMUNITY AND NETWORKED DRIVEN

Scenario: The boom of bitcoin shows just how deeply distrustful people are towards the centralised monetary system. Bitcoin was created to solve the problem of a centralised fiat currency system through the creation of a peer-to-peer electronic cash system. That’s why some experts call bitcoin the ‘people’s money’.

And bitcoin is not alone. In the early 1990s, Microsoft saw the way the world was going and knew that PC will have tremendous potential for multimedia and access to information at homes. Microsoft then invested millions into a product known as Microsoft Encarta, an online encyclopaedia. Which was later killed by the power of crowd. Through Wikipedia. Want to know more about Encarta? Go check them out on Wikipedia.

What Does It Means For You?

Wikipedia is a classic example of an organisation that uses the power of crowd and community to kill off a centralised and controlled organisation. But what matters most is it has also triggered a dramatic shift in the way work is organised, talent is employed, research is conducted, and products are made and marketed.

As an entrepreneur, you can now look to our existing customer base for solution. By creating a robust forum to receive their feedbacks, you can deliver a fantastic experience while instilling a strong sense of loyalty.

You can also turn to your customer base in search for funding and get them to own a part of your business.

I know I’m repetitive when I say this. We are living in one of the most exciting times in human history. Never before have entrepreneurs been able to leverage technology, their customers and each other so effectively to accomplish so much with so little. The wisdom of the crowd has the potential to dramatically change the way small businesses and startup operate worldwide, level the playing field and competing with larger counterparts more aggressively than ever before.

The Membership Economy (The Revolution of the Token Economy)

Imagine always having access to a new, clean car, without worrying about car maintenance, insurance, parking or paying taxes for it. Doesn’t sound bad right?

In our modern, networked world, this is the reality for an increasing number of people who simply want access to a product, rather than ownership of it. The result is that more and more companies are changing their business model from a customer-based to a membership oriented-one.

Transition from a Customer to a Member mindset

Welcome to the world of the membership economy!

The advantage of the membership economy is that it allows us to bypass all the responsibilities and costs associated with ownership. But it’s a big shift. Because the traditional economy is built around the principle of ownership; when customers buy things under the standard system, they can do whatever they want with them.

Just think of car ownership. You can paint the car with an outrageous color or change the body kit. However, if the car breaks down, you have to fix it. You also have to pay taxes and secure a parking spot.

But what if you only need the car once or twice a week? Or even once or twice a day? Short term rent might be the best solution. That way, you will have access to a car when necessary, but not have to bear the responsibility to pay the cost of ownership.

The Rules of Business Have Changed

Fortunately, the internet makes this kind of access easier than ever before. And over the past few years, new web-powered companies have emerged, giving their customers convenient alternatives to ownership in almost every sector.

For instance, Malaysia’s very own unicorn, Grab, give us access to a fleet of cars with drivers whenever we need it. All we need to do is to book on it’s app and Grab pairs drivers with those who need a ride.

How Membership Economy Works

The membership-oriented business creates an ongoing relationship between the company, the users of the network; the customers and the providers.

Imagine the old ways of getting a driver. You engage a driver because you need to attend a major event. After the service is rendered and after you paid for it, the relationship is over.

The membership economy is different. When customers commit to a company, they get all the benefits and responsibilities of your ongoing relationship with the membership network.

I’m going to use Grab as a case study on the 5 major categories that creates a membership economy

1) Digital Subscription: It cost nothing to set up an account with Grab. But online businesses like Netflix ask members to pay a recurring fee to access content, features or services.
2) Online Communities: Grab create networks around shared goal – ride sharing. With this in mind, drivers and riders are allowed to review and rate each other. There is also a membership tier moving from normal member to silver to gold and platinum.
3) Loyalty Programs: GrabRewards track and reward loyalty, by creating different tiers of benefits for frequent users.
4) Referral Programs: Grab allows you to “Invite Friends” and reward you when you start referring your friends to be a part of the membership network.
5) Complementary Services: As Grab track members spending and behavior, they start offering additional services like GrabDaily, GrabPay, and what I believe will be more to come.

The Membership-Oriented Business World

The membership economy is at the heart of the most valuable companies built in the last quarter century. Think Uber, Airbnb, Netflix, LinkedIn, Facebook, Amazon Prime, Dropbox, any many more.

However, as the network in the membership economy continues to grow, it moves towards a natural monopoly, allowing the owner of this membership network the pricing power to charge higher fees – understanding that even if members are unhappy and frustrated, they have few alternatives.

Think of how Grab acquired Uber in South East Asia and prices started to increase!

So yeah, at first, a membership-oriented business is highly beneficial to customers. But over time, not so much!

Up until now, most of the membership-oriented businesses are owned by private or public listed companies. However, as blockchain technology continues to mature, I believe that a well-designed decentralized tokenized membership network can change the game.

Blockchain is about to transform the nature of the businesses built around them.

Token Economy: Membership Economy on Blockchain

So imagine instead of the centralized company Grab, we create a distributed application – call it BlockGrab – a cooperative owned by it’s token holders. Let’s call it “BlockGrab token”.

Everyone who participates in the activity of the network, using and accruing tokens in the process, is effectively a network “owner”.

When someone wants a ride, BlockGrab software scans it’s blockchain for all the listing and filters the riders that meet his criteria. Without a centralized intermediary.

BlockGrab can also create it’s very own Token Economy.

1) Payment: Instead of using the Malaysian Ringgit, you can use to BlockGrab Tokens to make payment.

2) Reviews & Ratings: If you’re given a good review or rating, you’ll be rewarded with more BlockGrab Tokens.

3) Membership: As you continue to hold more BlockGrab Tokens, your membership tier gets upgraded with more benefits.

4) Referral Programs: As you continue to “Invite Friends”, the network grows bigger and rewards you with more BlockGrab Tokens for every friends you invite.

5) Complementary Services: As additional services like BlockGrabDaily being offered, the usage of the BlockGrab Tokens increase and valuation of the tokens increases due to demand, indirectly making the BlockGrab token holders richer!

Ideation to Incubation

As I’m writing this article right now, the idea of “BlockGrab” is being executed by several blockchain startups. All hailing themselves either the future of transportation or the future of ride sharing.

1) Bit Cab – https://bitcab.io

2) Arcade City – https://arcade.city

3) LaZooz – http://lazooz.org

4) Dacsee – https://dacsee.com/

Why Token Economy is the Next Revolution of the Membership Economy!

When a membership network is owned by a private, centralized company. The value flows away from network members to the hands of a group of shareholders who hold equity of the company.

In a token economy, membership economy built on blockchain, the relationship between the customer and company changes. Members of the token have a stake in the entire membership network. Because there is no division between owners and participants, it’s easier to align incentives in the token economy.

This is revolutionary. A token economy is able to provide all the benefits of the membership economy without increasing costs to members that are unavoidable under private, centralized network ownership. More importantly, these cost savings can be more than financial. They can also come in the form of increased privacy, ownership of data, and more favorable network policies.

So, instead of putting taxi drivers out of job, a blockchain-based membership-oriented business puts companies like Uber and Grab out of job and let’s the driver work with their customers directly. Because everyone owns a part of this ecosystem.

The Evolution of Crowdfunding

If you really think about it… Entrepreneurs are the engines of economic growth in society. For whatever products and services that you’re enjoying right now, it’s because there was an entrepreneur who brought fresh thinking to the marketplace and created a prosperous economy.

Many people whom I’ve spoken who works in a 9-5 job dreams of being an entrepreneur. However, it’s not very often you get to jump out of a stable income job into a territory where your income is being put at risk every single day.
And to make it worst.. Research has shown that 96 out of 100 businesses fail on the 10th year. 4% odds to succeed? What kinda terrible odds are those?

I started Owners Circle because I wanted to turn consumers into business owners while increasing the ‘4% odds’ to succeed. Our team started matching investors with entrepreneurs to create an ‘Owners Circle’. Now, the consumers turned co-owners can proudly share to their friends and become influencers of the business. I believe that with crowdfunding, we are moving into a period of human history whereby very large numbers of people can become owners of wealth through sharing a business like a restaurant or a hotel.

Yes! I was leveraging on the power of crowdfunding to change the face of business. Through the wisdom of the crowd, we were disrupting conventional financial models to create collaborative ventures to open up a whole new universe of investment opportunities.
Over the past few years, my team at Owners Circle and I had the privilege to incubate crowdfunded projects such as The Barn wine bar, Artisan Eco Hotel, and several more out there.

Distributed Ownership

Already, Owners Circle was changing the face of finance. But in 2017, I was exposed to the world of ICO. When I studied in depth on the world of ‘Blockchain IPO’, it blew my mind. ICO not only can improve the efficacy and efficiency of raising money, it also lowers the cost for the issuer and it allows previously unimaginable groups of burgeoning investors to participate.

Now, imagine a world where opportunities can be shared more equally in the wealth created by the society? Where consumers are no longer just consuming. They can also be producers at the same time. Imagine a new category of people called the prosumers.

Initial Coin Offering

So, what is the Blockchain IPO aka ICO all about? Imagine companies can raise funds “on the blockchain” by issuing tokens, or crypto-tokens or cryptocurrencies in a decentralized platform.

Imagine not relying on your local bank account to invest.. Because you only need a mobile phone with Internet access with major cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum to participate.

Imagine the crypto-tokens received can not only be held as your digital asset that stores the value of your wealth, but also be used as a new payment rails to transact with counterparties.

This blockchain technology is creating a whole new set of business models previously unimaginable that empower individuals as economic agents.

Challenges of ICO

As ICO remains in an unregulated territory, it faces it own challenges as well. Most recently, Savedroid was reported going missing after raising USD$50 million.

It’s founder even posted on Twitter that he was sipping drinks at the beach. (https://www.financemagnates.com/cryptocurrency/news/german-ico-savedroid-pulls-exit-scam-raising-50-million/)

Of course, later it then posted another article saying that it was a stunt to show fragile the ICO world is like for investors. https://ico.savedroid.com/

In Malaysia, where I came from, ICO is often known as the tool used by Money Game to scam regular moms and pops.

The Future of Finance

I believe that it’s just a matter of time where governments and governance are putting their hands into blockchain. Blockchain technology is already revolutionizing the way we live.

Rather than predicting a blockchain future, I’m glad to see more and more governments are advocating it.

Personally I’m a big fan of blockchain because I believe that the economy works best when it works for everyone, and this new platform is an engine of inclusion. It drastically lowers the cost of transmitting funds, lowers the barrier of investing, and it supports entrepreneurship and participation in global trade. It catalyses distributed capitalism, not just a redistributed capitalism.

In my humble opinion, blockchain is the next best thing that has happened to modern humankind since the introduction of the Internet. Admittedly, a bold statement. Watch on and judge for yourself!

Digital Asset Investment Forum 2018

It’s 4.10am here in Washington D.C. and I’m having a jetlag. It’s 5.10pm in Kuala Lumpur!

So I figured, since I couldn’t sleep, why not write a blogpost to share what I’ve learnt here in Washington so far.

What Am I Doing Here in Washington?

Thanks to the invitation by Xiaochen Zhang, the founder of Global Digital Economy Council, I flew here from South Korea 3 days ago to attend the DAIF (Digital Asset Investment Forum) here in Washington.

About Xiaochen Zhang

Xiaochen is a Chinese residing here in the United States. A brilliant man who leads the design and implementation of Fintech and blockchain solutions. He has adviced government agencies and multinational organizations on innovation, emerging technologies and investment in positions at the World Bank, United Nations, and other international partnership platforms.

I was here to attend his event titled ‘Digital Assets Investment Forum’, an event that connects digital assets experts, technology pioneers and cryptocurrency investors from all over the world.

These are my top 3 takeaways from this entire forum:

1) Conceptualization to Application

Like 1993 when the world was introduced to the word ‘Internet’, we are currently at the stage when the world is being introduced to the word ‘Blockchain’.

Today, blockchain is like that late 1900s of internet – lots of use case potential, but substantial effort is required to realize it’s fullest potential. Initially, I was highly skeptical because there have been too much of the hype around blockchain with so many crypto gurus and seminar being created over the past few months. However, the DAIF has showed me many strong evidence that blockchain technology could transform existing business models and invent new forms of business in a profound way.

Bitcoin and Ethereum was created to solve an inefficiency of the existing financial markets. Soon, we will see a token economy to solve the existing inefficiencies of the existing Blockchain markets.

2) Initial Coin Offerings

ICO is a method used by blockchain startups or cryptocurrency ventures to raise funds. Very similar to crowdfunding. Rather than fund raising in normal, fiat currencies, ICO’s crowdfunding is centered on cryptocurrencies. Therefore, this method allows startups to bypass the rigorous and regulated capital-raising process required by venture capitalists or banks. The crypto tokens issued after an ICO is supposedly functional units of currency that can be used as payments or a form of utility.

Year 2017 saw 885 ICOs and $6 billion of funding being raised. It has now surpassed and tripled the amount raised from mainstream VC funding!

Picture taken from https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/09/initial-coin-offerings-surpass-early-stage-venture-capital-funding.html

At this point of time, the largest PEs and VCs in China, such as Fenbushi Capital and Jiuding Capital, are also getting into the game by setting up funds that exclusively invest in Blockchain-enabled companies.

3) Investment Opportunities in Blockchain

With echos of disruption already being heard across multiple industries in blockchain, I thought that it would be prudent to explore the blockchain investment opportunities by looking at what the PE and VC funds are exploring right now.

One panelist shared that there is tremendous opportunity for blockchain development in the financial industry. Now that banks have decided to stop fighting blockchain technology and start adopting it, the door is wide open for companies that can provide blockchain solutions to the financial institutions, both large and small.

As one of the hottest features of blockchain is its ability to facilitate smart contracts, another area where developers are reaping handsome rewards by introducing the concept of smart contracts into manufacturing and supply chain management. Supply chain management has proven to be a willing market for blockchain technology. We will also see smart contracts increasingly being a part of logistics platforms.

One particular panel who impressed me was Tong Gao, the founder of Token Club. This young entrepreneur founded the largest investors syndication community in China that connects all crypto investors (from newbies to professionals) to profit from the crypto space.

My Biggest Takeway

The DAIF was a great opportunity for me to understand how blockchain is disrupting industries across the board, who the players are, and how can an investor like myself get a piece of the market.

After the conference, our team got together and discussed about our different takeaways and learning from the conference. It’s no doubt that blockchain and cryptocurrency is poised for explosive growth, but great rewards only come to those who hustle, at the right place, and at the right time.

Jian Sun, the managing partner of Jiuding Capital and founder of JLab Blockchain Fund, shared that there is now an elite group of blockchain entrepreneurs and developers in China known as the “3AM Club”.

So why 3AM?

Because that’s what time most of them finish work every single day. At 3am, they will get together in a Wechat chatroom to discuss the latest development in blockchain, cryptocurrency and digital assets, before they go to sleep!

And guess what? They will be wide-awake working again at 6am!

When I first heard about it, I thought to myself, “That’s some insane level of hustling, isn’t it?”

This is the elite group of movers and shakers of the entire blockchain industry in China (and probably the world!)

My overall takeaway?

The hype in the media about bitcoin and cryptocurrency currently outpaces the development of blockchain. However, when I’m in such an environment of solid blockchain ecosystem, I’m excited about the evolution of blockchain and how it will transform the global world of business.

My Biggest Lesson before Turning 32

Every single year, I spend the night before my birthday celebrating and cheering the night away. However, this year, I’ve decided that I wanted to spend the night with no one else, but myself. And I asked myself 3 simple questions:

“Did I really live?”
“Did I really love?”
“Did I make a difference?”

It was a very different set of questions compared to the other years where I’ll reflect and review upon what went right and what could have been improved. The standard training and coaching questions.

Review of Year 2017

This year has been yet another turbulent year for me in my career and business. We have been fire fighting since January. Earlier this year, I stepped down my role as the CEO and started focusing on my role as a trainer and speaker. However, things weren’t moving as fast as we wished we could.

And, in July, a huge chaos took place in Owners Circle.

To cut the long story short, Owners Circle was burning cash faster than before. The company couldn’t sustain. The entire sales team decided to leave (and set up their own company). I made one of the toughest decisions of my entire career when I informed my business partner whom we have started and worked together for the past 7 years that our vision and values weren’t aligned and I am going to take over the role of the CEO of Owners Circle.

Upon taking over the leadership role in the month of July, I worked 15 to 20 hours day, non-stop for 30 days with the remaining of team members I had. We pivoted the direction of Owners Circle. Reshuffled the team. And rebuilt the company which was at the brink of shutting down.

The Calling

In mid of August, I attended a seminar organized by EO and they invited a guest speaker. This guy is just a year older than me. But he is WAY MORE SUCCESSFUL!

Whether it’s business and career, health and fitness, family and friends. He had it all covered. And I was truly impressed. I’ve never seen a person who had such a balanced life!

What impressed me further during the talk was when he kept giving praises to God and gave all credits to his Higher Power.

Later on, I got his number and we got together for dinner. During that dinner meeting, I was truly impressed with his composure and clarity in everything he does in life.

During dinner, he continued praising his Higher Power and shared that whatever he has is the blessing from The Lord above.

That night, I couldn’t sleep. I started asking myself, “Isn’t it obvious the message that I’m getting here?”

That Sunday, I decided to go to church.

The Blessing

Honestly speaking, I was born in a Catholic family. However, since my University days, I’ve not been a very regular church-goer. I was basically a part-timer. I only visit church during Christmas. Or whenever my parents nag at me.

When I was in church that day, I felt my heart was very much at ease. It was a feeling of peace. A feeling that I’ve not had for a long time. A feeling that I very much yearned for.

From that day onwards, I made my time with God on Sundays the top of my priority. And I’ve not failed since then unless I had to be overseas giving talks or conducting workshops.

The Breakdown

The month of September and October has been really challenging. My team worked really hard and yet we just didn’t seem to get the results we were hoping to see.

During one of the Sundays in the month of October, I broke down and I prayed really hard. I prayed, “Lord God, please fill within me the fullness of your spirit. Take everything away that may hinder my relationship with you.”

That day, something in me changed. I was in a mode of giving up. I decided to surrender. Not to surrender and give everything up in life. But I’ve decided that my arrogance was killing me. I continued praying, “You’ve given me so much gifts in life. Yet, I’ve failed to make the best use of them all. Lord, please make me your instrument. I’ll surrender it all to you to decide how should I move forward from now on.”

The Turning Point

It’s been only 2 weeks in the month of November. And guess what? Our sales for the past 2 weeks has surpassed the results of what our team have been working on for the 2 months. Yes! 2 weeks in November has surpassed results of September and October combined!

Besides that, we have been given opportunities that from December 2017 onwards, it will be a brand new ballgame for our team at Owners Circle and for myself as well!

2 years ago, when I celebrated my birthday in Verve Suites. That marks the end of my career in alternative investments. And today, as I’m preparing to head down for my birthday party with my team members and closed friends, we are heading towards a brand new beginning.

(I’m holding back on the good news for now because everything has been agreed verbally and we will be signing the papers in December 2017.)

Steve Jobs once said, “You cannot connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect the dots looking backwards.”

Looking back to all that has happened over the past 2 years, I must say that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go. Things go wrong so that you learn to appreciate them when they are right.

Sometimes good things fall apart so that better things can come together.

My Greatest Gift of Year 2017

Today, I ask myself these exact questions.

“Did I really live? Did I really love? Have I made a difference?“

As I look back, I guess the greatest gift I’ve had at the age of 32 was the gift of finding my new purpose in life.

The purpose of my time here on Earth has nothing to do with acquiring possessions, accomplishments or status. Those are secondary issues.

Life is all about love. With God and with other people. You can be successful in many areas of life. But if you fail to learn how to love God, love yourself and love others, you have missed the reason why on Earth you’re here for.

And to you who is reading this article. Regardless what religion or faith. I pray that you too walk in the grace of your Higher Power. Whatever trials and tribulations that’s placed in front of you, remember that everything happens for a reason. And have faith that your Higher Power is always there with you to pick you up, turn you around, restore you and make you whole.

You’ll be complete in boundless love when you walk in the never-ending Grace of your Higher Power.

My Wish for the Year

For my 32nd birthday, I wish for a life in his name. A life that truly matters. A life filled with love. And a life that allows me to be a difference maker. Through his power and his words.

Does Your Life Matter?

“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” – Joseph Campbell

As an individual, I had to make a decision. Because if I have chosen to move alone, I’ll move faster. But if I’ve chosen to move as a team, I’ll move further.
Making the transformation from “ME” to “WE” is not an easy task. It not only requires a mental rethinking of your leadership, but it also necessitates changes in behaviour to focus on others rather than yourself.

Few years back, I started asking;

  • “Does my life really matter? To whom?”
  • “What’s the purpose of my life and my leadership?”
  • “Will I leave a legacy behind?”

It was then when I started to commit to follow my heart and doing what I most love and what is most meaningful to me.

And today, I encourage you do ask the same questions and explore doing the same.

Because at the end of the day, its a miraculous life to be serving others and a mission greater than ourselves – a worthy cause, an organization important to you, your family, or a friend in need.

That’s the best way to know that your life truly matters.

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