Chapters of Life

There’s no chapters in Life. No time to put the book down to reflect what just happened. No clear start and finish other than birth and death, and even then sometimes the lines seem blurred. Life just goes on, from one chapter to the next with no indication that a chapter is over. Sure when you graduate, get hired, get married, etc those are clearer starts to something that you could possibly define as new, but usually we won’t know that a chapter in your life is over until way well into the next one, when things are so different already that you finally notice a change in the color of your mood ring.

A lot of people, myself included, often make the mistake of waiting for the next chapter to begin, or waiting til this one is over. One of my friends knew he was going to get laid off a while back, perhaps even a year ago, that his position was going to become obsolete. Now he’s 2 months away and he’s still waiting for the axe to drop. His response? “I’ll figure it out.” I’m sure he will, but in the meantime he’s letting external factors control his life. Stop waiting and go do something. Change will happen whether you do something or not, but if you’re proactive, you can at least control the cange instead of being a victim of change. Think about all the different chapters in your lives. When you were in school. When you were dating your first boyfriend/girlfriend. When you were playing in the backyard as a child. Even last year, when you were single and now you’re not. When did you first notice that things weren’t the way they were? This will continue throughout your life until you die. I’ve been saying WTF at every turn of realization…

WTF…I actually graduated?! What happened in the past 4 years?! WTF…I’m doing this as a career?! I thought it’d be something else. WTF…I’m in a relationship?! How’d that happen, we were just hanging out everyday. WTF…I’m 30, single and no kids?! I thought I’d be 2 wives in and 5 kids by now. WTF…I have 3 kids?! I remember getting a dog, how did I end up with a family?!? WTF…I’m retiring? Wow, never thought this day would come. WTF…life is over?! what happened? Where did time go?

All those things you’re waiting for to happen probably won’t ever turn out as you thought. Tolle says “This too, shall pass.” that this moment, no matter how perfect or imperfect it is, won’t last. Don’t wait for the next chapter to start or end, because it’ll come and you won’t even know it, because it’ll come in a fashion that is completely different than what you’d expected. And why should it happen the way you want, when you’ve done nothing to help it along that path? Write your next chapter yourself, MAKE the start you want to see, MAKE the end you want to happen and be the author of your own life.

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Alcoholic or Workoholic? Can I be both?!

Wow it’s been a busy month! It’s been a while since I posted so my apologies to all the blog readers who come expecting to see something. It’s disappointing I bet. Like going to the theatres expecting to watch a movie that you were waiting all week to go see and then having it be sold out. Then you have to figure out what to do now because you expected to spend the next 2 hours nomming on popcorn and spacing out watching some medieval guy cut up goblins (or watching some middle aged ladies try to recapture their youth by spending lots of money, sleeping with every guy under 30 and complaining about why they’re single. I mean, come on. It’s kind of obvious why you’re single. But in that case, maybe missing the movie is a good thing…) Either way! Sorry it’s been a while since my last posting. (maybe you don’t even care. you’re like…”wth, who’s this dude think he is comparing his blog to one of the best chick flicks ever…”)

I wish I could tell you that I travelled to the Bahamas and sipped on coconut juice while lounging on a hammock by the crystal blue and green ocean this past month. But I can’t, cuz I didn’t. I’ve eaten out alot this past month…is that worth mentioning? I love trying new restaurants; the ambiance, the food and service of somewhere new almost makes it like a mini-vacation in your own city as you’re experiencing something new. Other than eat out alot I havn’t really done much summery stuff. Alas, what I have to report as my reason of non-posting blog neglectance is that…*drum roll*… I’ve been working alot.

YAY…

Sad really, summers almost over and I havn’t done half of the things I wanted to do. But work hard and play hard I guess! (I’m just kidding…I don’t work or play hard…)

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

Some Shiny Yellow Rule and Whatnot

Treat others like you would want to be treated. Simple enough no? Every relationship or interaction you’re in involves 2 people. Ordering coffee at Starbucks with your barrista or having lunch with a friend or shopping with Mom. The best and easiest way to get more out of them, or out of anybody really, is to give more to them. Sounds crazy right?

– WTF is he yapping about. I gotta give what?! –

 At a restaurant, you’re nicer to the server, you get better service. You help a friend move, he happily helps you back. You take care of your clients, they keep doing business with you. It’s a GIVE and take, not a take and give. I always find it so interesting how the way people conduct businesses is so correlated to how people treat relationships. So many of the subtle nuances can be transferred interchangeably between the two at all stages. I had a mentor when I was at Business Objects and he always preached that in order to be truly wealthy, you need success in both work life and personal life, a perfect balance of both with neither defining who you are entirely.

– WTF? I have to master both?!?! I’ll NEVER be happy! –

No you chump. The secret is to master one and see the similarities between the two. Follow one set of rules for both work and personal.

Tony Hsieh is the CEO of Zappos.com, Inc. During the past 10 years, the company has grown from almost no sales to more than $1 billion in annual gross merchandise sales, driven primarily by repeat customers and word of mouth. Below is an excerpt from Tony’s book that describes how Zappos approaches vendor relationships. I’m going to put an * next to the nuances. Make the connections as you see it.

This goes to show that any relationship you carry whether it be professional or personal, can be as successful or as horrible as you wish it to be with the Golden Rule.

The typical industry approach is to treat vendors like the enemy. Don’t show them any respect, don’t return their phone calls, make them wait for scheduled appointments, and make them buy the meals.

It’s a wonder people don’t realize that business doesn’t have to be done this way.

Ultimately, each party is out for the same thing: to take care of the customers, grow the business, and be profitable. In the long run, it doesn’t behoove either party if there’s only one winner.* If vendors can’t make a profit then they don’t have money to invest in research and development, which in turn means that the products they bring to market will be less inspiring to customers, which in turn negatively affects the retailer’s business because customers aren’t inspired to buy. People want to cut costs and negotiate aggressively because there’s a limited amount of profit to be shared by both sides. As a result of this “death spiral,” most retailers fail.*

We wanted Zappos to be different. We decided to create collaborative relationships in which both parties shared the risks, as well as the rewards.*We found it much easier to create alliances when partners aligned themselves to the same vision and committed to accountability, knowing we’d all benefit from achieving our goals. Not only does this approach get both sides pulling in the same direction, it creates an environment and culture where people are inspired and passionate about what they do.*

We implement this partnership mentality in many ways at Zappos, but it all begins with the Golden Rule: Treat others as you’d like to be treated.* When vendors fly to visit our offices in Las Vegas, they are greeted at the airport by one of our Zappos shuttles. If it’s their first time visiting our office, we give them a tour. We offer them drinks and snacks to make them feel comfortable. This is all far from industry standard, but if we were in their position, I’m sure we wouldn’t mind being treated this way.

Credibility killed the Cat (or there lack of)

Recently a close friend of mine came across a killer condo in Yaletown. This place was serious pimp (opposite of ‘falsely pimp’ where the pimp-in-question tries too hard whereas ‘serious pimp’ is au natural and just…flows) with views of False Creek marina to the South and Downtown core to the North. Spacious and bright with an artful decor in a tasteful red, white and black motif, this place had everything a perfect bachelor pad should have; even down to the Heineken Beer-Tender Krups B95. Unfortunately it was short lived. The landlord decided to move back in after less than 2 months tenancy and was ‘evicting’ my friend. Now normally this wouldn’t  have been able to happen according to the BCREA, but there were extenuating circumstances which would be best left to another posting on its own.

 

He found another place in short notice though. This new place was 2 buildings down and was higher and larger. It was leasing for a great rate so there were multiple applicants for the condo. Being a landlord, when multiple people apply to rent your condo, you want to look for several differentiating factors such as: will they pay you on time? Will they trash your place? Will they stay for the term of the lease and not bail early? Applying for a place to rent (or buy) is like applying for a job. You put your best foot forward and hope the interviewer/landlord/mortgage broker likes what they see and deem you better than the rest. As a landlord and manager though, one thing I rely on more so than what the applicant tells me is what their references and experiences tell me. People will often lie for themselves, but other people are less prone to lie for other people.

 

My friend had 3 references on his application. The first reference was his company which he owned. It’s a franchise company and he’s been very successful at building and growing the business to a thriving, self-sustained enterprise. The 2nd reference was a friend whom he’d grown up with who was now an RCMP and his 3rd reference was me. Needless to say, the landlord never made it to calling me as a global company with franchises worldwide and a police officer was good enough. He had enough credibility to beat out the competition and he’d spent a lifetime building that credibility. On the opposite spectrum, I had a friend who wanted to purchase a condo this past month with his girlfriend and was turned down because his credit was horrible; because he didn’t do what he said he would do and pay back the money loaned out to him by the banks. Now, 7 years later like that little Italian kid you used to pick on, it’s come back larger and stronger and kicked his ass.

When you tell your friends that you’ll do something, do they believe you? Do you come through? What about if there is a deadline at work? Do you deliver? Your ability to say what you mean and do what you say. Personally I always do what I say, otherwise I wouldn’t say it. If I’m unsure if I can deliver, I’ll say nothing first until I’m sure. Everybody has that friend who says “I’m going to start a business!” or “I’m going to do this or that!” and never end up doing it. Like the boy who cried wolf, people will eventually tune you out like the bathroom fan that stays running all day. It’s a simple enough principle and one that has been drilled into our heads since we were young but why is it that it’s such a hard concept for some people? I notice that a lot of monkeys will say what they say in the heat of the moment and worry about the consequences later. The thing with credibility though, is that it takes a lifetime to build. Each and every action that we take and every word that we speaks increases our cred meter, both personally and professionally. All we have is our reputation and once that is tainted it takes a long time to build it back so be good with your actions and words, you never know what references you’ll need in the future.

No Regrets

Every Monday the majority of us smash our alarm clocks on average about 3 times, snoozing in a good 20-30 minutes after we’re supposed to wake up. If you’re smart, you’ve set your alarm for 20 minutes earlier the night before, but usually what that does for me is I then end up hitting the snooze 5 times, making me really late anyways. The alarm clock, a daily reminder that we are controlled by someone else, something else, that forces us out of what we want to be doing (sleeping) and what we have to be doing (working). If we all ran by our own clocks, there wouldn’t be a need for the alarm.

We go to work and do our thing. Some of us flip burgers, others sell software. Some lead other people, others are managed. My friends are roofers, IT guys, public relations managers, teachers, sales guys, realtors, delivery drivers, etc. Some of them work 20 hours a week and others work 60 but most of us work for our money. Of course, living in Vancouver, we all know our fair share of DD’s (and if you think I mean designated drivers, I applaud you for your innocence).

One thing that we can get lost in is our work. We immerse ourselves in what we do to better our careers, to get that big bonus or close that big deal. We put in extra hours after work or on weekends, often neglecting our personal lives. We sit in coffee shops at 9pm putting that final touch on the proposal or tweaking the graphics on your clients website so it’s just perfect. Two of my best friends even moved across the continent to a different country to pursue a ‘higher work status’. All this, in hopes to gain credibility and eventually higher paying jobs or more contracts. In the end, what we are doing essentially is simply trading our time (limited) for money (unlimited).

If you look at all the best moments in your life, they are rarely when you are by yourself. All of the best memories you will ever have, will be with other people.

Time is a limited commodity. In our lives, time is the most non-renewable resource and is the most valuable thing that we could share with another person. As young adults, we don’t really see beyond 5-10 years of our lives and sometimes we take for granted how short a time we’re here to make an impact on other people, on matters and on the world. I once had a conversation with a World War 2 veteran while sitting at the mall. He was probably in his 80’s, tall and carried a pretty big frame on him and we were both waiting for our significant others while they shopped (yes age has no buffers when it comes to accompanying your wife/gf to the mall). When we finished our conversation, he leaned heavily on his cane to stand up and said to me “Enjoy your youth while you still have it son.” I looked at him and thought of him in his younger days. Probably a healthy, active guy, physically and mentally able to do whatever his mind wished him to. Fast forward 40-50 years and all you have is memories of what you did and thoughts of what you could have done.

I’m hoping to have more memories of what I’ve done than thoughts of what I could have, should have, would have… but didn’t do.

It’s easy to get caught up in work and the need to succeed financially. But don’t lose sight of why we work to begin with; to have more freedom to spend time with our circle of people, doing the things we enjoy. I mean, isn’t it all of our goals to make more money so we can have more free time? Don’t let work control you or define who you are, but rather, see it as a means to an end, something that will help enhance your life and not be your life. My job title is Account Executive of Corporate Software Sales. It’s not who I am, but what I do sometimes. I am also a Son, Brother, Friend, Boyfriend, Hockey player, Realtor, Rider, BBQ’er, Writer, Blogger, and the list goes on. The more I can add to that list, the more people I touch in my life. Can you add to your list? Your call.

My Favorite Quotes

Some people work hard now to play hard later, only to realize that while the brain is willing, the body is unable. 

Others play hard now with the thought to work hard later, only to come to the crossroads and realize that they’ve been left behind. 

The best mix is to play hard now and work hard now, to enjoy life if all of its different stages through the years 

With no sacrifice to yesterday or tomorrow. 

-me 

~~

The most successful people are the ones who have failed the most. 

No matter how many times you’ve failed, it won’t be your last. What’s the worst that could happen? Nobody ever died from failure. 

It’s the lack of action after failure that kills people. 

-David Needleman, ex CEO and founder JetBlue Airways, part of Southwest Airlines, WestJet, Azul, and Open Skies – 2002 

~~

The reasonable man adapts to the world. 

The unreasonable man makes the world adapt to him. 

Therefore all progress in the world rests with the unreasonable man. 

-George Bernard Shaw 

~~

Don’t just find a job. Find an opportunity. 

A job is just a job. 

But an opportunity can make you rich. 

-Simon Lu 

~~

Don’t get caught up being too much of a pleaser. I will try my best to keep others happy, 

So long as it doesn’t compromise my own happiness. 

-Brian Budd – Mentor 

 ~~

The international billion dollar corporation has a CEO. 

The beautiful model has a boyfriend. 

The international best selling novel has an author. 

This home has an owner. 

There is no goal that you want, that someone else has not yet achieved, deeming it possible. 

There is no goal that you want, that is unattainable, only perhaps in your mind.

Somebody’s gotta do it. Why not me? 

-me 

~~

New parents sometimes puts so much emphasis on being a good mother or father. 

They forget about being a good wife or husband. 

That’s why there are so many divorces today. 

You need balance. 

-Shannon Hamilton 

~~

Yesterday is History. 

Tomorrow is a Mystery. 

Today, today is a gift. 

That’s why it is called ‘Present’. 

-Sifu – Kung Fu Panda 

~~

Time is all we have. And you may find one day that you have less than you think. 

Randy Pausch (1960-2008) – Author: Last Lecture (Professor diagnosed with pancreatic cancer) 

-one of the best books I’ve read.

This Too, Shall Pass

It’s funny how life turns out sometimes. We live so much in what we’re doing now, in today, that often times people don’t realize that tomorrow might be different. We take for granted so many things that make our days the way they are, whether good or bad, until they’re gone or changed. Most recently in the last 2 weeks, I started working at a software company. It’s funny because it’s the same company that sent my boys down to Austin, TX. They made me an offer I couldn’t refuse and so I joined the team and now I’m back in the corporate world. When I said I wanted a dual-income household, I didn’t mean for both incomes to be mine! (Corporate sales rep by day, Realtor by night. 2010 is gonna be busy!) On Tuesday, I was in the lunch room getting coffee and the coffee delivery guy looked at me. He stared at me for a little while…

“Pius?” Says he.
“Yes. I’m sorry, I’m new here.”

It turns out I knew him from High School. He didn’t work for my company, but instead he worked for the company that delivered all the coffee to the Bentall buildings downtown. He has 2 kids and was married now, living in New West. He looked tired, that was the only way to describe him…

I’ve been many things in the stages of my life as I’m sure you have been as well. My timeline can be summarized pretty easily by “the days”…

Elementary School Days: Couldn’t speak English, made no friends, got in trouble with the teachers a lot cuz I was “misunderstood” as one of very few immigrant kids growing up in Coquitlam in the 80’s.

High School Days: Nerdy, awkward Asian kid in a sea of Caucasian kids at Port Moody in the 90’s, athlete who got picked on by his teammates

HotShot/Bamboo Days: Asian-ized. (Gangsta gangsta! Blonde streaked, McD’s golden arches style hair and all) Got in trouble a lot. Got arrested, (somehow managed to graduate university) clubs and parties. Good Ol’ Funktion Fridays at BBB and Purple Onion.

Downtown Days: Yuppie. Suit. downtown,  professional, got property. Carved down my huge entourage to a nice compact group of close and best friends. Worked hard and played harder.

Now…Moved out to Burnaby, started new careers, new relationships.

Each time an ‘era’ ended and a new one started, I didn’t realize that I was in it until months or years later. While you’re in it, you think that this is it, that this is your life forever. You can’t see the future, just as I couldn’t and had no way of realizing that one day my life would be different than it was today. I bet all those Wall Street millionaires never imagined that they’d be flat broke and in debt within a month. A great portrayal of this is the movie “The Wrestler”. If you haven’t seen it, go watch it. It’s pretty somber. While I was in High School and the way I was, I never imagined that I’d be who I was 2 years later. Even today, I’ve come to the realization that even though I might be where I am now, by tomorrow I could be somewhere else and I don’t mean just a career change or a move, but as an entirely different person on a different path.

The coffee guy wasn’t exactly a friend of mine in high school. He was the star running back on my football team, one of my teammates who wasn’t exactly slick rick to me back in the 90’s. I’m sure back in the day, he never thought he’d be where he is today, just as I never would have imagined I’d be where I am today. Now, older, I take the good days and good times and I don’t take them for granted. I’m happy all the time.  I look at the bad days and the bad times as temporary because if you do something about it, you’ll get out of it. No matter how good or bad today is, tomorrow will be different and time won’t pause just because you’re loving life or hating it, cherishing where you’re at or loathing your situation. As Mr. Tolle has enlighteningly said “This too, shall pass.”