Year 2, or how not to panic

Soon Min Blog, On growth 38 Comments


The months have slipped by faster than expected (as usual) and boy what a crazy 7 months it’s been since my last post. My purpose was to focus on getting things moving, and while overall things have progressed, it’s been a challenging year.

A few of the really nice plusses that have happened:

  • Conducted ‘Present like a pro’ for MaGIC in Penang and Kota Kinabalu.
  • Became a simulation master for a program under Axiata for 80 prospective management trainees.
  • Launched 3 new products, with a 4th under development.
  • Joined a new ad agency that’s testing out a new business model.

Annnndd the nerve wrecking speed bumps along the way:

  • Had a string of product defects resulting in some customer service issues.
  • Quality control issues late in the manufacturing process that resulted in delays.
  • Lower than expected sales performance.
  • Plus a slower training schedule.

What a roller coaster so far into year 2! Here’s some of the stuff that I’ve realised along the way.

As I crossed into year 2, many amazing things have happened that pumped me up. Without realising it, every win created a higher ‘floor’ for me. This resulted in an overall increase in expectations that honestly became unrealistic. While intellectually, I understood that, it took awhile to appreciate that I was subjecting myself to that raised bar of expecting only ‘good things’ to happen continuously.

It takes a time to adjust to a new emotional normal

I’m more saddled with the need for control that I’d like to admit, but that’s my demon to battle against. With that personality trait, when things go out of whack, it’s ‘oh shit oh shit oh shit’ raging on in my head. The reasonable amount of self awareness I have tends to become a double edged sword here.

Thanks to the ability to observe myself feeling that way, initially this was accompanied by my own self judgement. So feeling bad compounded itself! Over time, I realised I was not only mostly jumping at shadows, but I grew more accepting of that feeling when it arrives. I just try not to let my reaction and self judgement keep me down.

Awesome solution 1: Remembering your why

When things are going great, you’re thinking ‘this is the best decision ever!’. It flips around quickly during those harsh times and you start to really miss the stability of being a full time employee. Your mind then brings up the good times, being with awesome colleagues, having a nice office, a cool salary. Suddenly you’re knee deep in ‘why the heck am I putting myself through this’.

Right here is where you’re suddenly recalling that reason why, that you committed to memory, or wrote down in Evernote as a reminder to yourself. Or you come up short and then quickly apply for jobs. Either way, it’ll get you where you need to go.

Awesome solution 2: Gratitude

Not too long ago, I picked up this great trick, but I can’t recall where from. Most of the times, we whine to ourselves saying ‘Ugh I have to do this and that’. The simple trick is changing that sentence to ‘Wow, I GET to do this’. Of course, the words themselves are meaningless without the emotional connection to it.

But like Gary Vaynerchuck puts it; “You’re a human being on planet earth. Alive. You’ve won the f@ckin lottery”. I’ll add to that the fact that if you’re watching him on YouTube, or reading this blog, it’s even more proof that you’re miles ahead of most people in the world.

I GET to wake up and build a business around helping people feel more confident in any pitch. I GET to work on a range of different businesses. I GET to meet so many amazing people from different backgrounds and passions. I GET to choose who I work with (mostly haha). I GET to build something that I can be proud of.

I lucked out. The best part is, you did too.


Soon MinYear 2, or how not to panic

Resting and recalibration

Soon Min Blog, On growth 32 Comments

The other day, I was listening to the guys from the Tropical MBA. It’s an interesting business podcast that focuses on the goal that I’m aspiring towards to now, which is to try and create a location independent business. During the episode, a couple of realisations prompted me to reflect deeper on the year that has passed.

As a result, this post will be the last for awhile as I use the Chinese New Year holidays coming up to really think about things. So that this doesn’t become a useless, farewell post, here’s what I’ll be thinking about and perhaps it can spur you toward your own reflection for the future.

The journey of the blog

When this blog first came up, it was part of a larger plan of building Pitch Confident not only as a service where I physically help coach and upskill people, but it was to eventually be turned into another revenue source through online courses, particularly aimed at the advertising industry.

As the first couple of months went by, I made a decision that it wasn’t to be an area I wanted to focus on. This led me to then refocus on entrepreneurs as a community that I was interested in, and since I’m going through the motions, the blog became an outlet for me to express what I’ve learned, and a way to hone the clarity of my thinking.

Eventually, this became a good habit to have, where I spend a few hours a week writing a post.

The question of time and value

Is what I’m doing the best use of my time? Does it produce significant value? 

While I don’t have the craziest schedule around, I’m certainly committed to many different things. Besides training agencies, clients and startups, I’m also involved with consulting work, and most recently an e-commerce venture that I’ll be spending much more time on this year. This schedule has resulted in the pause of the podcast, and now this weekly blogpost.

When it comes to value, if I take an honest look at what I’ve done so far, I feel that it’s ‘nice to have’, but doesn’t produce as much value as I’d like for my audience. The value created for myself, which is the discipline and habit of writing, is arguable. The only truly unique area of content would be my podcasts, which will likely play a stronger role when I return.

In the meantime, my hours will be spent trying to grow my new venture.

That thing called FOCUS

With what little contemplation I’ve done so far, I realized that I have a habit of ‘spreading’ my sources of income, thus risk. While I still believe in creating diversified streams of income, I’m now conscious that I’m also diluting the efforts within the separate things I’m committed to.

My refocused goals are also now toward this new venture, and I don’t think I’m committing enough time to it, especially in this early stage. I’ve now a clearer target to try and hit, which makes me feel that it’s time to put more energy into achieving that.

At some point in the near future, I’ll produce more content that hopefully creates way more value than what this site currently produces. Till that time comes, keep on pushing forward everyone!

Soon MinResting and recalibration

The 4 elements to build a garden which you can grow best in

Soon Min Blog, On growth 39 Comments

The concept of personal growth probably stemmed from the time I was 18 feeling really horrible after a heartbreak, and I stumbled on Tony Robbins’ book called Awaken the Giant Within. At that point, I had no idea what ‘self help’ was, but something (asides from the 10 Ringgit discount price tag) made me pick it up. I only finished the book years later, but what little I read at that point helped nudge me along life feeling a little better. 

One of the biggest concepts I absorbed from the book was the idea that people have the ability to build themselves a better life. This simple belief is a powerful one at its core, and is made even more so with another one that says ‘you are the sum of the 5 people around you’. While I don’t buy into its literal interpretation, I believe in its underlying truth that our growth is heavily influenced by key elements around us.

The garden of you

Have you ever seen a beautiful garden, where everything looks great? What many don’t see is the effort that’s taken to nurture it. I’m no gardener, but I get that it requires fertiliser, pruning, weeding,  watering, and the right environment for the right type of plants. Similarly, when we as people have the right elements combined, we allow for growth to happen in the best way possible. Here are the key elements that I think can be key to allowing accelerated growth.

The people around you

You might have heard of that saying before and loosely get that the people around us ‘somehow’ influence us. Where I specifically see and experience its effects are:

  1. Your state – Emotions are contagious. Surround yourself with optimistic, driven and hopeful people, and some of it is likely to rub off. It’s true inversely too. These seemingly temporary effects might not seem like a big deal, but once your state is affected, how you behave and react to your surroundings is thereby affected too.
  2. Ideas and inspiration – Are the people around you open to your ideas? Do they challenge yours? Do they bring to the table their own? People like these are invaluable because they facilitate new ideas and opportunities that you might not have thought off by yourself.
  3. Motivation – This is deeper than just a ‘state’. When you have people that you respect and admire around you, there’s a nudge that happens inside you to be better yourself. I credit many friends who have qualities that I admire that provided me with a drive to grow those qualities within me.

The material you consume

This element carries a double meaning. Firstly, it’s literally the things you consume as food. Most of us wind up as adults with crappy food habits and none the wiser. Not knowing any better, it’s challenging to see how a change in what you eat can really impact the way you feel, how you think and behave. Michael Pollan has summed up the perfect advice when it comes to diet into 7 words. “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” (I’m still working on that last point!)

The 2nd meaning is intellectual (including spiritual if you like). I don’t know about you, but I’m having trouble keeping up with the sheer amount of things to read, watch and listen to. The question is, how are you filtering it? How do you divide your time between entertainment and substance? Of those with ‘substance’, how do you find quality material? In 24 hours, you can only do so much, so finding that right balance and quality makes sense. Find the people that have grown the way you want to, then see what material they would recommend.

The actions you take

The old saying goes that ‘Knowledge is power’. I fall into the camp that believes in the extended version, ‘Knowledge is power only with action’. Learning and getting inspiration is really important, but you can only grow so much by reading or listening to podcasts. Taking action, even if it means failing, is the only way to grow further than theory.

By doing, you also unlock opportunities for growth more than you might expect. It’s like playing football. When you join a team and begin playing, at first it’s just learning the physical game. Only through taking part in it, you begin to learn areas such as teamwork, competitive pressure, rest and recovery, and even leadership.

If you’ve got something you’ve read about all this while, it’s time to get more doing done.

The habits you keep

Two of the things I constantly underestimate is how much it takes to really learn something, and how much goes into maintaining it. In the fitness world, it’s easier to see as prolonged breaks in your program really show. With my recent break from CrossFit these few months, I’m definitely seeing a drop in my strength, mobility and metabolic conditioning. It’s harder to notice when it comes to some other skills. Quit from an industry for too long, and you lose touch. Your mental knife becomes dull over time without sharpening.

This final principle applies across the board. From work related skills, soft skills, physical wellbeing, and even your mood. Only through consistent habits are you able to grow and maintain them. How have you added some structure to nurture what’s important?

Asides from the initial belief that we CAN grow, there’s one more thing to practice to make the 4 things work. It’s the ability to choose what to say yes to, and what to let go of. It’s a process that’s ongoing and one to be enjoyed as you discover more.

Soon MinThe 4 elements to build a garden which you can grow best in