Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The miserable start up life that eventually worked out

It’s a quarter to 9 now. I just got back from the beach waiting for a beer session. Today has been fun kayaking for hours exploring some snorkeling spots ourselves and free-dive to search for turtles. More than these activities, I am writing to celebrate the goal that I set 3 years ago right before I ventured into the business. Though it came a year later than my plan, I think I still made it and it’s important to celebrate this. No, I am not bragging about what I have attained, I have no intention to do that at all. I am, however, especially happy and excited to share that 3 years ago, I set a goal to attain a free and easy lifestyle, to be able to take leave as I like, to be able to work on computer from anywhere and to have a team to take care of the operation. I wanted a paycheck to have my necessary expenses covered (housing, car and daily expenses) with a little overflow to travel and explore the world. I want to celebrate this very moment that I’ve made it, and I hope this blog is able to encourage you to celebrate your success too.

See how detailed and how average my goal was. Compared to the lavish lifestyle and really filthy rich (which is one of my ultimate goals), the goal I set 3 years ago is simple but uncommon to many.  To aim for an free and easy lifestyle at this age seems to be non-mainstream goal. I admit as I started running the business, I became greedy, I wanted more (I still want), but I think we owe ourselves some credits, so important that these credits tell us we should take a pause and pad on our shoulder and tell us we are good. We made it.

We grow up being taught that keep pushing the boundaries is a good attitude to have towards life. We are taught that we should keep raising the bar because that’s we should strive for better living standard. While all these are good practices to have, I realised that many of us are trying too hard that it hurts. We never get contended. We are programmed to be reaching new height after another that it eventually breaks us up internally. How irony things work.

My plan was to get what I wanted in two years time, but hey, 2 years for a business is really short. It’s just about the time you start to know the game, people start to know you, things start to work out, you become mature. Then a year later, here I am, proudly acknowledging what I have gotten.

In this 3 years of running Pott Glasses, I am lucky to have met a lot of great business people. People of the same age like Eddie, Joddess, Mandy, Jodie, Roger, EJ, Bryan, Johnson and so many more who are doing much better than me in the business. Then my mastermind group, Julius, Sereen, LeeChin, Ryan, Larry, who have more experience in business than me and guided me. Not to mention the excitement to meet the legendary Beer Factory founder Kent Chua and Sakura Crystal and ever growing Makan Culture founder Alex who have achieved great height in business at the young age. How can I forget Fax and Wee Kiat!

These people open my eyes to the world of business. They show me there’s no limit to possibilities and they inspire me to set higher goal and to put me out of my comfort zone. I am so prepared to expand the business this year. I am so excited to bring Pott Glasses to another height with my business partner Hong. But before anything, I would like to share what I have experienced so far.

One of the articles that got me kicked start my business journey is “How quitting my corporate job for my startup dream f*cked up my life”. I would read it every now and then. It feels very relatable every time I read about it, if not more. Long story short, he wrote about his struggles and eventually made it after 2 years (that is also why I set 2 years). And if you read about it, the author also mentioned that he’s at the beach when he blogged that. I actually envisioned myself to be in similar setup and yes, I made it, so literally.

In these 3 years, if there’s one struggle that I always face and hardly get resolved, that would be the mental struggle. Mental struggle haunts me on how incompetent I am compared to my peers, compared to my competitors and this breeds the intention of giving up. Peers in MNC are making good money, setting up family and entering another stage of life. Me on the other side paying rental, not giving anything to family, reinvesting the money to the business and bank account went back to square one. Then the number of competitors grew tremendously in 2016, seeing glasses shop opened after one another, and the big players started their price war game. Then another one came out with another marketing trick. All these just were so good at breaking my mental strength. Insecurity kicked in bringing her friend, insomnia along to accompany me for countless nights and became a regular companion. Halfway through I got steered away the initial goal, wanted to try out more things, and even gotten an offer from VC.  Many dilemmas that I had to fight through, I had to answer to myself; And I couldn't tell if I had missed a boat or the decision was made right.

I sometimes had to turn to alcohol (don’t feel like covering the fact and make running business a glamorous thing so I prefer to tell the truth). This negative spiral could’ve grown out of control but thankfully I started to learn to take control of the mind. Thankfully good news and sales came in in time. Thankfully exercise does release endorphins to steer me back to think positively. Thankfully all the kind words from friends (Sijing especially you) help to regain the faith. So here I am now to share and hope to encourage you to give yourself more credits on all the work that you’ve done. It may not be perfect yet, but hey look how far you have come along, hey you have achieved one of your goals. Oh yes, one more thing. Every one has their own set of success. Some want work life balance, some want tonnes of money, and maybe some are like me still exploring. Let’s focus more on ourselves rather than letting others to define. Meanwhile I have already gotten what’s next on my list. Definitely going all in for expansion and building my team.  Let’s enjoy the moment now.

Friday, February 9, 2018




Saturday, November 4, 2017

The seemingly uncommon common thing called Insommina

if it's wasn't Michelle posted some apps about recording the sleeping hours or whatsoever, I wouldnt have known that she suffered from insomnia as well. To me, insomnia sticks on more more than the shorts does, and I just couldn't get rid of it.
There are many reasons I think insomnia loves me. Stress, expectations, celebration and disappointment. Running a business is tough, on a higher view, life can be tough. If it's not tough, I'll find the challenge. This leads to hype, expectation and rejection is inevitable. All sort of emotions are tied to insomnia and I sort of get used to it.
Don't get me wrong, I hate it. And I think that it's a serious issue. This post is meant to hightlighy the on the ground issue i face as I take on my life. I am actively searching for solution. Self healing, self coping, whatever it is, I need a healthy solution. Not cans of beer every night. I do this very often because I cannot risk a night for insomnia.
Till then, see ya!

Monday, October 2, 2017

First sense of disappointment

Today is the first time I got a sense that mum is not very proud of me running an optical retail business despite holding a civil engineering degree. It broke my heart. Of course I wouldnt know if I have broken her heart and disappointed her when I decided to walk this path. All along I thought she is proud and happy, because she's very supportive in every aspect.
But in the conversation with my secondary school teacher then only I found out that she'd mention my degree before my current work. And the tone of conversation carries a certain disappointment . Couldn't blame her for that, after all she has spent years grooming me to who I am.
I came across a lot of articles from start up founders saying how hard it was to get encouragement and support from family but I have never experienced that. Today I get a bit of sense of it. It will not change what I do but I prefer to pen down the feeling because it reminds me everything has a deadline. Time to put in double hard work and get some result.

Not so happy,

Friday, June 2, 2017

the will power derived from desire

Want and desire can be mysterious. The difference between both ly within the will power each posseses. To simply things, I'd group them under the same category, the feeling of getting thing that is out of current reach. This thing can be obtained either immediately or through hardship. And it's different from things one needs. Because of this, uncontrolled want can be devastating. What is meant by controlled then?
To control is to be conscious about it. Will power is only being generated when there's a presence of want. Without this element, we do not move forward. Here's the thing, we need to be conscious about this fact and utilise it.
This is often the case: I have an iPhone 6s but I want an iPhone 7. Being conscious means that I'd work for it. Being uncontrolled can make life miserable. But, even after buying Iphone 7, I'll get uncontented, I want more. Maybe iPhone 8. Then I work harder, I get hungry. Of course if this is healthy I'll be moving forward all the time.
Now. Take a deeper thought on this. The adrenaline derived from the  desire of wanting an iPhone 7 is higher than actually owning one. Get it? The happiness level of planning a trip is much higher than going for a trip. See how our mind work? We do not need these things, to be exact, we do not need to own these things, we just need to dream about it. And that is the beauty of it.
Having snacks for birthday was fun, not until you want more, like having KFC, and then more, like throwing a party, and even more, making one extravaganza. We are constantly pushing ourselves to taste the boarder of our limits. Without being aware about this fact, the desire will drive us crazy. Nothing can content us. However, we can manipulate this feeling.
We always aim high, just to abstract the adrenaline and the will power, and turn that hard work into more fruitful things. Work hard, earn more, and instead of buying a new phone, save for new house down payment. Being practical about life, but not to forget to dream wild. Because all we want is the intangible feeling, not the tangible product.
Oh well, occasional vacation and luxury items can be good, if you can afford

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Journey Thus Far

Just got back to the room with fried chicken and beer as supper. It's my second time travelling by flight attend sharing session with undergraduates and get my accommodation covered (the first one was in Curtin, now in USM). A little pride dancing around inside.

When I first got the invitation from Chun Kit, the project director of Enactus, the first question that came to my mind : how on earth that they found me, and why me? But Tai Hau being Tai Hau, I grab every opportunity that comes to me. I love talking in front of crowd, I love sharing, and I often get inspired attending talk. This is the very reason why I accepted the invitation, to talk about the journey in front of 100+ undergraduates from USM, UMP and UUM. Very honoured and humbled to be invited.

I feel both excited and nervous at the same time because I am sharing the stage with the legendary burger cafe's founder, Wee Kiat. An infamous face in F&B industry, an enlighten start up founder cum blogger and EY Young Entrepreneur nominee. Then I found out more about another speaker, Mr Ko, the executive director of + Solar, the dominant player of solar power industry in Malaysia, with a turnover of multi million dollar.

Okay Hau, wait a minute. What are you going to share? And who are you compared to these guys?
Self doubt and low esteem kicked in, adding even more fuel to my burning nervous. With all the overflowed jobs that pilled up since last week and Air Asia post event follow ups, I had little time to focus and plan for the talk. I decided to do a more down to earth sharing, instead of talking about all the cool stuffs, I wanted to share about the challenges and emotion.

So the talk began. And ended. Followed by Wee Kiat's and Fax's.

I learned a lot from both of them. Not just about the story, but the way to present too. Wee Kiat has a lot of empathy elements in sharing, and he can connect well. I got the chance to ask him more about his journey personally (I've read his blog and really respect this guy a lot)

Then Fax. This guy is good! Speaking of gaining experience and garnering resources before venturing into an industry that requires solid fundamental and technical knowledge, he has executed flawlessly. Spending 4 years working with different companies to starting up his business with 100k and getting multi million turnovers in the 5th year, this is the technical-to-business path one will take.

Then come to this point when I start to think, what would the audience perceive about our sharing. Was mine too shallow? or too irrelevant?

We had tonnes of photo sessions after the sharing. Before leaving, a young lady walked up to me and thanked me. Funny thing was that I asked her : why thank me?
She answered that I cleared her doubts and the questions she has been having all the while. Whether or not to choose to start a business. This sharing I really opened up to share about my own feeling and experience rather than giving all the politically correct answer. And she valued it.
"I was so focused during your sharing and you've given me the answer" this makes every single second spent preparing the talk worthwhile.

I think our sharing resonates with different people. Some find mine relatable, while I find theirs relatable. I admire and respect them for what they've done, they may find the same about me.

Everyone has their own story to tell. Let's not be inferior about our own, You'd never know how powerful yours is. After all, every business is different, there's no way to compare, and there is no need to compare.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

It's okay to ask for more.

It's okay to ask for more. There's this saying, if you want 1 million, aim for 10 million. It's okay to aim high, because even if you fall, you'll be somewhere higher than what you initially wanted to.
Couldn't make 10 million, you might have made 5, or 3 , or even 1.5, that's still higher than 1. And you know 1 is good enough. Want to run a sub 5 marathon? Train with sub 4, you might be able to improve faster.
Along the journey of going after that 10, you'll ask for more. How about 20? It's okay to ask for more. You've stretch beyond your initial limit, you've grown, you're stronger, more ambitious, and asking more drives you.
Ever heard of this saying "if you're the smartest in the room, you're in the wrong room. " ?
If you're want 1 mil, aim for 10 mil, mix with 20 mil guys. It's okay to be the dumbest, it's okay to do more work to catch up, it's okay to get rejected, because anywhere you fall, you'll be making more than 1 mil. You will get disappointed, feel like you're negligible compared to the people around you, and that's okay. Hey, you're mixing with those who are way better than you, what's the disappointment?
The real disappointment should be not able to mix with them.
It's okay to ask for more. It's just not okay to be over greedy. Chase for what you want, be happy with what you have.