My first 25 years

·3 min read

How time flies. I didn’t realize that I’ve been in business for 25 years now since retiring from Manulife Insurance Company at age 49.

To mark the moment, I’m pleased to share with you some of the most important lessons and insights I’ve learned since becoming my own boss.

Please feel free to share these with others who may also benefit from them.

I believe that...

1. A business is a blessing from God to be nurtured, grow and use to serve others.

2. A business will only prosper when its owners and stakeholders are able to overcome the challenges (to me, every problem is a challenge) it faces every day. That’s why learning, innovating, and leveling up must be a continuous process in every organization. The Japanese call it “Kaizen” or continuous improvement even in the smallest of things.

3. The purpose of a business is to create satisfied customers. Unless your company is doing this in a grand manner, it will die a natural death.

4. Business is a team sport and that no one can do it alone.

5. You shouldn’t waste time on a business that has no potential to grow big. The time, effort and energy you spend running a small enterprise are the same as in running a big one.

6. Leadership is the difference between success and failure in any endeavor. The mindset of the leader is the single most important ingredient to business success. A company rises or falls due to the quality, character and drive of its leadership.

7. Competition becomes irrelevant when you operate in “blue oceans” rather than in “red oceans” where markets are overcrowded and everyone is fighting over the same customers. Master the book, “Blue Ocean Strategy,” by Renee Mauborgne and W. Chan Kim to know how.

8. The game of business is best played by playing to win and not playing not to lose. Playing to win is offensive; playing not to lose is defensive. Like in sports, the best offense will beat the best defense majority of the time.

9. The number one responsibility of a leader is to develop other leaders. This is the one job that he cannot delegate. The future of his company depends on it. Business opportunities, capital and potential customers will always be there when the right idea arrives. But unless you have the right leaders and people on board, your company’s growth will be stymied.

10. People are not your best asset — only the right people are. Practice what best-selling author, Jim Collins, advocates in his book, “Good to Great” on hiring: put the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus and the right people in the right seats.

11. To prosper in life, one must do four things exceeding well over the long haul: 1) solve your problems 2) build capacity 3) capitalize on your opportunities and 4) and, practice “Kaizen” relentlessly.

12. People will only give you their best if they feel that you care for them.

13. The Universe likes speed — speed of trust; speed of decisions and speed of action. Master the art of closing “open loops” as taught by productivity Guru David Allen in his book “Ready for Anything.” Open loops are unfinished projects, tasks undone; promises unkept. These open loops cloud your focus and hinder forward motion. At worse, they create stress, tension and anxiety affecting every facet of your life, including health. The ability to close open loops alone will up your chances of achieving personal and business success a hundredfold.

14. By asking yourself throughout the day: “What is the most productive use of my time right now?”, then do the answer, you’ll be able to accomplish much more in life. It doesn’t matter what it is, so long as it’s the best use of your time for that moment.

15. Prayers work. I’ve been using this short prayer my late grandmother, Lola Taling, taught me when I was a child with amazing results: “GOD IS WITH ME. GOD IS HELPING ME. GOD IS GUIDING ME.”