Get back in touch with those old friends

This post is inspired by the quote below – ‘To be capable of steady friendship or lasting love, are the two greatest proofs, not only of goodness of heart, but of strength of mind.’

Post high school, I spent 4 years in Singapore – a good 3,000 miles away from the place I grew up. With that distance, I found it rather easy to let go of the many bonds I’d had from school life. With time and the change I experienced within, the 3,000 miles felt more like a 30,000 mile gap with the added distance in the mind, of course.
I kept in touch with a couple of friends who I spent time with. The rest, well, ‘I didn’t have time’..
And, last year, when I finally realized that not having time is not a valid excuse for not staying in touch, I began a slow and concerted effort of trying to get back in touch with those friends I’d been closed to and looked destined to be ‘friends for life’ with, those friends who had made me laugh and stood with me during so many tough times.
1 year, a couple of meet ups and many many emails later, I received an email from that buddy who almost never writes an email telling me that he’s all set to start work in a new place after a change of plan. And as I wished him ‘best of luck’, I felt nice about the whole effort. It’s not come easy because I’ve often wondered whether it’d be ‘awkward’ or ‘weird’ trying to get back in touch with friends who’d seemingly changed a lot.
The good news is – it was none of those things. Yes, there were a couple who got away and who didn’t feel the need to re-connect but for the most part, the response was one of joy and excitement.
I’m realizing more and more that there are more events in a day that can cause unhappiness than there are that make us happy. And in that, life throws us a challenge – every hour, every minute to fight for that right to be happy. The speciality about the fight is that it is one that we have with ourselves. And for myself, I’ve realized that working with a bit of discipline to create systems to do the little things in a day that contribute to my happiness tends to offset the many not-so-positive events in a day. (More on that in another post)
One of these little systems is writing a monthly/fortnightly/weekly/tri-weekly email to my old school gangs, friends, family – just keeping in touch. Many a time I’ve questioned whether it’s worth it but now, a year or so after having gotten this started, I can tell you that every bit of the effort has reaped a result worth it’s weight in gold.

The 7 Habits of Highly Rich Millionaires

Picture your classic millionaire. What are the images that come to your mind? I would take a guess they would be one or more of the following-

Thomas Stanley and William Danko thought as much as well. However, their research of the 2.5 million millionaires revealed that, aside from the 10% of millionaires who were rich by inheritance or a windfall of cash, the 90% who made it by themselves were characterized by the following ‘7 Habits of Highly Rich Millionaires‘ :) –

1) Entrepreneurs: Typically self employed businessmen. There are a few normal wage earners as well.

2) Happy marriage: Married once with a happy family and kids who are typically independent and don’t live off their parents

3) Don’t go for status or rich neighborhood: Never bought the latest sports car or spent more than $300 on a suit or watch and most definitely don’t live in a rich neighborhood.

4) Marry a similar minded spouse: In most cases, the wife is even more frugal than the husband/breadwinner.

5) Save, Budget and Plan: Strong yearly and monthly household budget maintained along with investment planning. And save more save 15% or more of their income.

6) Child care: Never compromise on sponsoring their kids’ education.

7) Invest in a good financial advisor: Never hesitate on investing in good financial advice and spending time to make sure they invest smart.

The money management strategy of the majority of these millionaires is simple i.e. Strong offence i.e. excellent earning with a very strong defence i.e. excellent saving.

And do you know what the most inspiring part was? Many of these self made millionaires did this in spite of annual incomes of about 90K USD at the peak of their careers and yet are in the ‘Prodigious Accumulators of Wealth’ category! If they can do it, why can’t we?

Let’s start with budgeting our expenses for 2011 then!

Ask, but don’t ask too much

It’s a fine balance, as we all probably know and realize.

As a stupid 21 year old in his first job, I am obviously eager to learn and absorb as much as I can. While a significant part of that learning comes from a mix of google, observation and working on getting results, a significant part (greater than or equal to 50%) comes from learning from people.
And here, the equation is simple –
-> Never hesitate to ask if you don’t understand. There’s no time or tolerance for bullshit anyway.
-> Having said that, there’s also that point where the answerer’s patience wears thin and when he/she would rather do things alone rather than have you badgering him/her.
It’s the same with asking for favors. Asking for small favors once in a while doesn’t hurt especially if you are doing enough to make sure you’re returning those favors but asking one big favor can be pretty detrimental..
It’s a fine line. Most of life is like a tight rope walk anyway when we come to think of it. Why should this be any different, right?

Irreverent Advice for Young Up-and-Comers:

When it comes to learning from the past, there’s got to be a damn good reason to look back since you’re probably better off just living in the present. Still, post mortems are certainly valuable exercises for learning from the past and determining what to do differently next go ’round.

So, today I got to thinking, if I could go back to when I was a young up-and-comer in the working world, what would I tell that early version of me, knowing what I know now? On second thought, I was so full of myself back then that I probably wouldn’t listen.

Still, I’m hoping that at least some of you and your proteges are less pigheaded than I was and might benefit from this heartfelt but hard-hitting Irreverent Advice for Young Up-and-Comers:

Brains will only get you so far in the real world. While you may very well be as smart as you think you are, your intelligence will only be marginally useful in the real world. As time goes on, you’ll come to rely less and less on your smarts and more and more on the wisdom, self-confidence, and strength that comes from experience. That’s the foundation your future success will be built upon.

Don’t take yourself so damn seriously. The sooner you get over yourself, the better. The sooner you grow up and stop thinking you’re special; the sooner you realize that you’re just another guy trying to carve his own path in the world; the sooner you fall down, get up, dust yourself off, and realize that wasn’t so bad; the better. Because that’s what it takes to do what comes next …

Take big risks … now! It gets much harder as you get older and begin to “acquire” things you don’t want to risk losing. What do you hope to achieve by taking big risks when you’re young?

  • Opportunity and visibility. When you start out, you’re essentially invisible. You want to change that as soon as possible. The more visible you become the more options you’ll have, the more opportunities to learn and grow, the bigger your network will become, etc. Success doesn’t happen in a vacuum.
  • Find your passion. If you don’t think you’ve found it yet, then you haven’t. You’ll know when you have. Everything will get easier. You’ll become driven and self-motivated. Climbing the corporate ladder and increasing responsibility and accountability will come naturally. If you’re good at it and the market cooperates, you’ll be successful.
  • Succeed and fail .. a lot. It’s not important whether you succeed or fail early on, just that you do one or the other many times and get a solid feedback loop going. You’ll achieve confidence from success and wisdom from failure. It’s all good, it’s all information, it’s all experience, and it all builds a strong foundation.

Don’t forget to live. You’ll get all sorts of advice about work/life balance; here’s a story that may help: Sometime in the future you’ll meet someone, fall in love, and marry her. And when the opportunity arises to build a distributor network for your company in Europe, you’ll take her with you, rent a car, and travel all over the place. Some of the time the two of you will explore and have fun, the rest of the time you’ll do your business. Try to model your work/life balance after that trip. It works pretty well.

Good advice, I thought..

So you’re having a lamp post day..

I.e. one of those days when you feel everything around you is peeing on you. (Generally, a result of an accumulation of a bunch of small things)

Nothing to worry.
You know that friend who always makes you laugh. Yes, THAT friend.
Find him/her.
And talk/chat/sms – whatever you can get hold of.
And watch your day feel better already!