On Workstations

I built my first PC circa 2002, almost 15 years ago. It was an AMD machine with an ASUS motherboard. I remembered it has 256MB of RAM which was a big deal, and a 2GB Maxtor hard drive. I have no idea what happened to that machine, but it really got me through lots of freelance projects and contributed hundreds of hour of rendering time for my award-winning 3D animation. The return on investment for that AMD machine was easily a hundred fold.

In the age of internet shopping convenience, only people with a lot of time on their hands would think about building their own workstation. Anyone who knows how to check out an item online, pay their online orders with their credit card can buy a notebook easily. So easy that most probably don’t even bother to look at the full specs of the machine they are getting. They probably just stopped right at the part where the online brochure says “Made for those who wants to get the job done…”

Well, I am not anyone. I am actually quite fed up with the stock machines offered by manufacturers these days. Too much cosmetics. Too much sugar-coatings. Too much emphasis on outlooks and forms. I am hungry for raw power.

So, today, I have decided build myself a new workstation. It may not be cost effective than those stock machines out there, but at least I get to maxed out on the stuff that really matters to me.

I don’t want to ‘Think Different’. I want to ‘Do Different’.

2017-05-22T03:42:24+00:00 May 22nd, 2017|Technology|0 Comments

Top Line vs Bottom Line

balance sheet

Enterprises are paid to create wealth, not to control costs. But that obvious fact is not reflected in traditional measurements. First-year accounting students are taught that the balance sheet portrays the liquidation value of the enterprise and provides creditors with worst-case information. But enterprises are not normally run to be liquidated. They have to be managed as going concerns, that is, for wealth creation.

To do that requires information that enables executives to make informed judgments. It requires four sets of diagnostic tools: foundation information, productivity information, competence information, and information about the allocation of scarce resources. Together, they constitute the executive’s tool kit for managing the current business.

Peter Drucker, an excerpt from ‘The Essential Drucker’

Very often, I find myself trying to cut down expenses at the expense (pun not intended) of long term growth. There’s only that much savings you can implement on your bottom line. Every resources you throw at maximizing your bottom lines is an opportunity cost to your top lines. That is why it can be a dangerous habit seeking business advisories from your accountant. Leave your accountants to bookkeeping.

In my own experience, I have seen business owners who don’t give much thoughts on their operating expenses. To be fair, they do not splurge on fancy furniture and grandiose renovations in their business premise. But these business owners are very focused on the revenue aspect of their business. They spend a lot of time on customer acquisitions,  working on their sales pitches, training their sales team and perfecting their sourcing strategies. They spend very little time comparing quotes that don’t have much impact on their bottom line. Electrician A might be 5%  more expensive than Electrician B, but if A can fix the problem right away, he gets the job.

They also don’t worry too much on how much they are taxed. Rather, they worry about the sales they are missing out if they spent too much time agonizing over their tax relieves and deductibles.

In their head, they just keep telling themselves, “The show must go on!”

2017-04-07T14:27:08+00:00 April 7th, 2017|Entrepreneurship|0 Comments

How You Should Be Managing Time?

“Time is not measured in minutes nor seconds. It’s measured in the things you do with it.”

Time...

In other words, you can have all the minutes and seconds you want, but if you don’t use it to accomplish something, you might as well not have it to begin with.

We go through our days with numerous tasks that require our attention. And we usually deal with them by allocating chunks of time from whatever amount of time we assume we will have in that particular day. I say assume because realistically, you can only guess how many hours you will have to attack these tasks. There is a possibility that you might get into a car accident and you will spend the rest of the day in the hospital. So, we always tell ourselves that we’ll have 15 minutes for this meeting, 30 minutes to write that report, 1 hour for the lunch appointment so on and so forth. We are very good at managing time this way- by allocating tasks to a specific duration of time. This time-for-tasks allocation is a quantitative approach to manage your priorities.

I believe there’s a better way around that. Of course, it would require some un-learning on what we’ve been taught. We may not need to check all that task in the to-do list. After all, many of the things in our life would not need the same quality of attention that we’ve been giving them. Maybe a qualitative approach to the way we spend our precious hours would make more sense. Instead of starting off with how much time to allocate for each projects, how about we figure out first which projects would make give us a better sense of satisfaction and accomplishment? Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn how to bake apple pies. But as you look at your calendar, you might realize that you barely have time to slot in any 60 minutes baking lessons for the weeks to come. And this is when you should start looking into those menial tasks that is gnawing your time away and possibly replace those slots with baking lessons.

We can always make time for the things that we love to do. But if we don’t remind ourselves the goals that we want to accomplish on a daily basis, it’s very easy to let other parasitic tasks slip into our schedule.

Go ahead and list down all the things you want to accomplish by end of the year, and stick to it. Remember, the goal is to do the things that will make your life more enjoyable.

2017-04-07T03:59:47+00:00 March 27th, 2017|Daily Observations|0 Comments

Entrepreneurs Are Risk-Takers?

Cliffhanger

This pretty much sums up what I’ve always felt about running your own gig. When you’ve decided to stop living on the security of regular paycheck and charting out your own path into unknown, it’s all too easy to let your adrenaline do the planning.

A year or two ago I attended a university symposium on entrepreneurship at which a number of psychologists spoke. Although their papers disagreed on everything else, they all talked of an “entrepreneurial personality,” which was characterized by a “propensity for risk-taking.”

A well-known and successful innovator and entrepreneur who had built a process-based innovation into a substantial worldwide business in the space of twenty-five years was then asked to comment. He said: “I find myself baffled by your papers. I think I know as many successful innovators and entrepreneurs as anyone, beginning with myself. I have never come across an ‘entrepreneurial personality.’ The successful ones I know all have, however, one thing – and only one thing – in common: they are not ‘risk-takers’. They try to define the risks they have to take and to minimize them as much as possible. Otherwise none of us could have succeeded. As for myself, if I had wanted to be a risk-taker, I would have gone into real estate or commodity trading, or I would have become the professional painter my mother wanted me to be.”

This jibes with my own experience. I, too, know a good many successful innovators and entrepreneurs. Not one of them has a “propensity for risk-taking”.

The popular picture of innovators- half pop-psychology, half Hollywood- makes them look like a a cross between Superman and the Knights of the Round Table. Alas, most of them in real life are unromantic figures, and much more likely to spend hours on a cash-flow projection than to dash-off looking for “risks”.

Successful innovators are conservative. They have to be. They are not “risk-focused”; they are “opportunity-focused”.

Extracted from ‘The Essential Drucker’, by Peter F. Drucker

 

 

 

2017-03-27T04:20:05+00:00 March 13th, 2017|Entrepreneurship|0 Comments

The Focus Dilemma

That’s one piece of advice I am sure you have been given many times by successful entrepreneurs and in many business books- stay focus.

I am saying it’s good or bad advice but allow me to elaborate a bit on that advice. Telling someone to focus is like telling someone to work hard. It’s a very vague advice and can potentially do more harm than good. Why is that so?

From the point of the recipient, the well-intended advice of working hard can be interpreted as unless you are willing to work your ass off, there’s no chance you will succeed. Unfortunately, you can be working hard your thus far but you might just not be achieving the results that you want.

Yet, there’s nothing wrong with working hard. Every successful entrepreneurs I personally know truly worked very hard, especially in the beginning phases of their ventures. To put things in context, by successful I mean the venture is making profits and the company’s culture is healthy with a team of great people working together to grow the company. However, the critical difference here is not just working hard but rather what are you working hard on?

You can work hard in ensuring every one in your company washes their hands after using the bathroom but that would hardly create any positive impact in your company’s bottom line.

Therein lies the most important piece of puzzle that you must figure out. You may have the talents, perseverance, discipline and even the passionate drive to succeed. But if you are working on the wrong stuffs, you will only be ‘rewarded’ with the results you don’t want.

Take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Slow down or even stop whatever you are doing just to gain clarity. You cannot see very clearly with all that noise that’s constantly seeking your attention 24/7. Re-calibrate your compass and regroup your soldiers.

Speed is important but speed in the wrong direction can sometimes be fatal.

2017-01-18T02:57:49+00:00 January 18th, 2017|Entrepreneurship|0 Comments