Archive for July, 2012

Hard truths

July.28. 2012

I’ve probably mentioned that I started reading up on self-help books a few years ago, including some of those so-called ‘business success’ books.

It seems that the more I read these books, the more I realize how full of it they are.

For example, take their usual litany of ‘principles of success.’

— Honesty, reliability, integrity, generosity.

These are supposed to be the pillars of wealth and success.

The truth is – and none of these self-help gurus will tell you this – none of these things matter .

I’ve met lots of successful people who are first-class a-holes.

Most of them got to where they are simply because they’re better at schmoozing than others, better at playing the game than others.

Then there’re those who cheat their way to the top.

And then there’re those who sleep their way to the top.

And generosity? Some of the richest guys I know (in Sibu anyway) are the stingiest. One of them is famously known for saying ‘I’ll think about it’ (translation: forget it loser) whenever he’s approached for donations.

Integrity? Forget it.

If you’re a man of integrity, you should become a monk, because in the real world, integrity is not an asset, it’s a liability. Ask Madoff and all those Wall Street super crooks how they amassed their wealth. Ask them if integrity was part of their wealth strategy.

The truth is when it comes to success, there’s only one thing that matters,

And that is energy and drive.

You see, success is a destination and to get to any destination, you need a vehicle, an engine to get you there.

Without that engine, you’re going nowhere.

So if you want to succeed at whatever you do, start getting busy, start moving towards that destination.

That’s the only secret of success you need to know.

Harvesting nature’s abundance in the city

July.24. 2012

This is a follow-up to an earlier article.

The most basic act of harvesting nature’s abundance is transferring it from nature’s domain to your personal domain

For instance, catching a fish and bringing it home.

As long as the fish is in the river, it doesn’t belong to you, it belongs to nature. Only when you catch it and bring it home is it yours.

The same is true of every act of harvesting nature’s abundance.

But you say, you don’t live in a jungle, you live in an urban jungle instead. Where is nature’s abundance in your part of town?

Think about it first, what is most abundant in a city?

Yes, you’re right. It’s people.

And what’s in their pockets?

Money.

Think of all that money walking around you. (We’re assuming you live in a normal city.) That’s nature’s abundance for you.

Unfortunately, just like in the real jungle, that money doesn’t belong to you. You’ll have to find a way to transfer it from those people to you.

And unfortunately, just like in the real jungle, nature doesn’t give up its abundance easily in the city too. Those people will not part with their money easily.

There’s only one way to get them to give you their money.

You’ll have to give them something they want. You’ll have to give them something of value so they will give you their money in exchange.

There’re other ways, of course. For example, you can force them to hand it to you or you can appeal to their conscience and hold up a “will work for food” sign.

But generally, the socially acceptable way is to give people something they want so they will give up their money for that something.

There’re as many ways of doing this as there are human needs and wants.

For example, a basic human need is food. Open a food stand and if you’re good cook, you’ll be harvesting all that money walking around you in no time.

It doesn’t have to be a basic need. Many people want to learn to play guitar. If you’re a guitar player, post a few signs for lessons, and you’ll be making money from teaching guitar in no time too.

All this may be stating the obvious, but that’s all there is to harvesting nature’s abundance in the city.

And yet, people complain about the lack of economic opportunities.

They say they can’t find work.

They protest in the streets about unemployment.

They go on the dole.

When all around them is money walking around.

It’s like the guy in the jungle who complains he doesn’t have food – because he doesn’t want to go out and catch all that food walking or swimming around them.

I go out sometime and see people operating their small taco stands. They don’t complain about lack of jobs or economic opportunities.

Or the guy who teaches guitar in his garage and then gigs at night. He doesn’t complain about lack of jobs either.

The point I’m trying to make is, there’re no lack of opportunities. Nature is abundant wherever you are. You could be living in a desert and there’re still opportunities there.

The problem of harvesting nature’s abundance is not how to go about doing it, but how best to go about it so you reap maximum returns for your time and efforts.

That’s the subject for my next article.

A tale of two countries

July.22. 2012

Having lived in Malaysia and the States for most of my life, I can say that there’re some remarkable similarities between the two countries.

Both are heavily multiracial, both share an incredible variety of ethnic cuisines (one reason I love both countries dearly).

Both share official policies of affirmative action, which favor some races over others.

And both share the same flag design, although it’s obvious who copied from whom, from the chronology.

However there’s one thing that that separates the two countries and it is in how corruption operates.

We all know corruption is in the human DNA so it’s no surprise that neither Malaysia nor the USA is immune.

(If you think you’re immune to corruption yourself, ask yourself what you would do if someone hands you a million dollars (or ringgit) to give him something you have the power to do in whatever job capacity you might have.)

The big difference is that in the USA, corruption occurs behind the scenes, discretely, with many lawyers and accountants behind the acts, whereas in Malaysia, it’s openly done, even flaunted.

Some have attributed the present gridlock in American politics to differences in ideology, but it doesn’t take a genius to connect the dots and follow the money, and know it’s all about corruption and who’s paying whom.

And it’s not restricted to one party, although I tend to believe it’s heavily tilted towards one party more than the other.

Why else can’t simple legislation concerning the wellbeing and health of its citizens such as universal healthcare not be passed? (Can you say private health insurance lobby?)

And when the Medicare Prescription Drug Act was passed in 2003, why was there a clause prohibiting the government from negotiating down drug prices with the drug companies? (And some of the very proponents of this measure claim to be hardcore capitalists – isn’t negotiations and supply and demand at the heart of capitalism?)

And when the Iraq War was declared, why did the stock of one company triple in price?

In Malaysia, the situation is far different.

There, politicians openly flaunt their corruption, in grandiose mansions and lavish lifestyles. And the amazing thing is, the more they flaunt, the more respect they get from the populace.

This is perhaps due to the tendency of the Malaysian populace to idolize anyone who has money.

It doesn’t matter how you acquired your money, if you have millions or billions, then you’re a god in the eyes of the people.

For example, if your primary source of wealth is to go to undeveloped countries to decimate their jungles and cart away all their timber, you’re a financial genius. One of these financial geniuses even got a knighthood from Her Majesty, Elizabeth Regina for his valiant efforts in cutting down most of the jungles in Borneo, New Guinea and god knows where else.

Corruption is so rampant in Malaysia and yet, when I talk to friends there, all they worry about is the affirmative action accorded to some races, the racism they perceive in official policy.

I, for one, am all in favor of helping certain quarters of the population.

If you’ve been blessed with good fortune, why not share it with others? There’s no point living in a huge mansion when all around you is filth and squalor and poverty (and I would add, discontentment and ill-will toward you). Why not spread the wealth?

We all know life is not fair, some people always do more work than others. Some people are always born more endowed than others. Would you rather be the one that’s less endowed and be on the receiving end than the one who’s been blessed by God and be on the giving end?

Instead of griping about how those on ‘welfare’ are taking from you and living off your ‘hard work,’ why not thank God for your blessings and be magnanimous and gladly share what you have.

And why not see the bigger problem, which is corruption?

Because it fosters a society based on stealing. And it encourages criminals, opportunists, and sleazeballs of every stripe and color to enter politics. And what you get is government for the people (who pay bribes) and by the people (who get paid the bribes), and the rest of us without money power are shut out of the process.