Wayne Chia

Business

10 Things Techsailor Taught Me

by on Oct.12, 2010, under Business, Muses

10-things

In the spirit of our 5th anniversary on “10-10-10”, I decided to throw in one more “Ten” – 10 things that Techsailor has value-added to my life

1. Chinese

The least expected yet the most dramatic self-improvement I made was being able to get my Chinese up to speed to communicate with our colleagues in China. OK, I won’t be rattling Li Bai’s poems anytime soon but at least I can write a decent requirement document in Chinese and type at a pretty rapid speed.  Of course, Google Translate and Pera-perakun were indispensible.

2. Financial accounting

Prior to Techsailor, my knowledge of financial accounting is probably equivalent to my understanding of Latin – the figures look familiar yet I can’t make heads nor tails out of it. Fast forward 3 years, I can now have a proper conversation with our accountant on depreciation, accruals, journal entries and other terms that were Latin in the previous incarnation. Heck, at least my understanding of “Credit” and “Debit” is no longer confined to the plastic cards that sits in my wallet.

3. Effective meetings

It’s amazing how with proper focus, a 2 hour meeting can be condensed to 45 mins. Of course, shutting people up from crapping, pull them back when they lose focus is part of the inglorious necessities, but hey, at least I get my coffee break!

4. Prioritizing

To most people, prioritizing is like keeping fit. Everyone knows it is good for health, but few bother practicing. Todo lists are good, but priority list gives you focus. Do yourself a favor. When you start the day, don’t only list out the todos – attach a priority number to it. It only takes 10 minutes max. Trust me, it’s worth your 10 minutes. It took me 3 years to realize that.

5.  Better time estimation

If prioritizing is number one for effective time management, then effective time estimation is probably number two. Once you get comfortable with a priority list, start attaching an estimated time to complete for each to do. The time estimation gives me a feasibility check on how much I can complete in a day. The moment the total duration exceeds 10 hours, I know I am kidding myself unless I am on 5 cups of coffee that day.

6. Becoming more comfortable speaking on stage

Public speaking was never my cup of tea. I never thought I had the charisma to pull it off. But after rounds and round of presenting to prospective investors who were looking at every opportunity to tear you apart, I find myself actually having fun on stage whenever I am doing a non-investment presentation. In fact, I think I am getting pretty good at it. Just need to kick away all the sentence fillers and I am well on my way to becoming a good public speaker.

7. Information architecture

Over the years, I noticed that I kind of get pretty good at doing slide presentations. But the interesting thing is, it wasn’t my ability to create presentation slides that improved. On the contrary, my slide count went down, layouts got simpler, they had less fanciful animations. I believe what got better was the way i organized information. They are more consistent and thematic, so they can communicate more with less. A simple concise slide takes longer to prepare than a congested one. I got our previous Managing Director Junde to thank for this book recommendation.

8. Saying ‘no’ to clients

Not all clients are equal. Some really think like partners. Others just want to take you for a ride. But this was really tough. It wasn’t easy turning down clients even though they were dragging payments, making unreasonable demands, or want us to do something that is simply outside out field of work. But standing firm to your principles is probably what makes many companies great. It took me 3 years to say my first ‘no’. The rest… is history

9. Knowing what I want in life

When you spend 10-16 hours a day working for 3 years, you would probably wake up every morning and ask if this is something you really wanted in life. If you are not sure, may I suggest you do up a life list – basically listing out what you really want to do during your short stint on earth. If you are in need of inspiration, do check out our Creative Director, Ling’s excellent life list. Inspiration will probably follow soon.

10. Ability to smell farce

We have all met someone like this along the way – the dude with a (self-proclaimed) illustrious list of past achievements, the guy who claims his connections ranges from high-flying CEOs to royalties or the “humble” scholar who admitted he got his PhD while boozing 4 days a week. Well, to be fair, most of the time, these people are genuinely OK to hang out with, just that they exaggerated their achievements in the spur of enthusiasm (or they could be just plain delusional). But when they try pass off their exaggeration as credibility to doing business, that’s when my farce antennas go up.

Over the years, we seemed to have picked up an uncanny ability to smell bullsh*t. We even got specialized terms for these people and we learnt to laugh it off. Now, if only we can isolate these people off business, they would give our stand-up comedians a serious run for their money 😉

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If your church buddies don’t understand what you do…. rejoice!

by on May.07, 2010, under Business, Muses

I chanced upon this interesting article:

“Now here’s a litmus test that will tell you if you’re in the right kind of business.” We were standing in the lobby of his church and someone was playing music in another room somewhere.

I said, “If you walk in that room and give one of your church buddies the elevator speech for your business, and they immediately understand it… you’re in the wrong business. If you’re starting a solo online biz, the only way you have a chance is if it’s a niche within a niche.

“If you tell them, ‘My business sells RS232 interfaces for computers made between 1995 and 2000 and we enable software communication with Unix blah blah blah’ they’ll have no idea what you just said. That’s probably a good niche.

“Or if you tell them, ‘I do property tax negotiations for landlords who’ve failed to file form GL632 and are in violation of the Underhill Act of 1964’ their eyes will glaze over because they don’t get it. That’s probably also good business to be in.

“You want to choose some teeny tiny hill and be the #1 king of that hill in the whole world.”

Now I really had a good laugh cause for the longest time, nobody in my church really understood what I was doing when I say “online customer engagement”, “customer communities” and “social media marketing(!!)”  (not that it’s anything new –  having “computational biology” as a college major gave me a fair share of glazed looks).

While I agree that niche markets are the way for businesses to win (don’t forget even Facebook started from just targeting ivy league colleges),  I would put a caveat to this though. It’s one thing to have  niche no one really know exists but it’s another thing NOT being able to explain what you do in terms simple enough for a 12th-grader to understand – especially when you’re trying to raise money for investment! The ability to simplify your business in words is an art that all business development, sales and marketers should master, no matter how complicated your business model may be.

But otherwise, I would take it as a compliment the next time a church member doesn’t understand what I really do.

Article source: perrymarshal.com

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