What is it About Passion, Really?

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We all have read it or heard it from the greats. Find your passion before starting any business. Do what you love. Do what you’re passionate about.
I’ve been contemplating these thoughts the past weekends.

If you ask me what my passion is, I have so many things in mind. I love music; I love writing and scribbling. I love solving problems and innovating. I enjoy spending time with my family and kids.

I often ask, especially with people I just met, what makes you get up in the morning? Most of us, get up because it is an obligation. The passion for doing your obligation. That’s a little tricky because doing what you need to do requires some sense of motivation.

Mark Cuban says, “The things I ended up being really good at were the things I found myself putting effort into. A lot of people talk about passion, but that’s really not what you need to focus on. You really need to evaluate and say, ‘Okay, where am I putting in my time?'”.

“Because when you look at where you put in your time, where you put in your effort, that tends to be the things that you are good at. And if you put in enough time, you tend to get really good at it,” explains Cuban.

He is talking about self-awareness. You may be passionate about basketball, but if you’re not genetically designed to be athletic, then you’ll end up a failure.

So why am I writing this anyway?

I am writing this for the young people. You need not be overthinking about what your passion really is. When I was in my 20s, I attempted most of the hobbies in the hobby list in Wikipedia. Some I found boring, some are interesting, but I didn’t pursue, but some come back to me naturally. It is okay to fail, and if you are in your 20s, you still have forever to figure it out.

Now that I am nearing my 40s, I figured I am still passionate about a lot of things and those I still pursue. It just comes to me. Like writing, playing the piano or guitar on weekends, spending time with the kids, photography, and business. Mark Cuban is right. I just followed my effort. How do I maintain it? I just do it mindfully and just have fun.

The Innovative Employee

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Being an innovative employee is a little tricky. It depends on your overall career objective. Are you working for your employer because you love what you do? Or are you working because you want to help your family, help customers, save for the future or gain experience?

When I was working for a Japanese company back in the day, I used to play around with tools to make our product, a banking application, useable. My motivation was the self-gratification of solving real-life programming challenges. I was competitive and enjoy the experience of finishing early on my commitment. Until I left the company and worked for my own.

So the innovation that I had done was to find ways to estimate tasks creatively, execute coding with finesse and release early. I break tasks into 2-hour chunks, use a notepad to log them thru our intranet time accounting app.

As the youngest member of the 12-man team, I love the attention I get when I solve challenging problems by myself.

Here’s my take on how to be an innovative employee and routines that will get you on your way to peak performance:

Proper Mindset

Having a positive mindset and attitude is the top most important thing that you should do. Stay away from work gossip and toxic people who feed you nothing but negativity & complaints.  Establish a productive routine from making your bed by the time you wake up, visualization, exercise, and focus.

Implement the latest technology and methodology.

Look up the technique called “Pomodoro”. It’s about breaking your tasks into 25-minute chunks and 5-minute break. It’s one of the trending methodologies these days. With this, plus an app such as TickTick can be an innovative tool for productivity.

Balance stress and rest.

Did you know that the most important part of toning your body is rest? After breaking your muscles during a workout, rest is the part where it builds back the muscles that you teared up. It’s no different with work, rest is where you sometimes achieve the eureka moment and get solutions to your problems. It allows your brain to step out of the linear thought process. It is where your subconscious mind kicks-in.

Do not multi-task.

Compartmentalize your tasks into categories and block your time for each category. Turn off your phone during time-blocking.

Concretize your purpose.

Is it really about just gaining experience or just getting your salary every 15th and 30th? Align your purpose with the company’s purpose to get motivated and contribute to society.

Set your own scorecard and engage for impact.

Try to gamify your scores. When I heard the term “gamify” for the first time, I couldn’t help but be curious and be excited about it. Being creative on your targets and your KPIs make it more exciting and fun to work with.

Engaging for impact means, just adequate follow through and you’re working harmoniously with your team especially when your tasks are inter-linked with each other.

There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing progress, whether it is about your own growth, the company’s, your team or your customer’s.  And being an innovative member of your team gives you true pleasure at work and in life.

A Simple Creative Concept on How to Become a Millionaire in the Philippines

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Imagine that you wake up in the morning, brush your teeth, ask your driver to drive you to a fancy restaurant for breakfast with your family without worrying about money. Imagine that you can buy whatever new gadget there is, new clothes, a new car and all that. That’s a great feeling honestly.

But it requires considerable effort to be able to get to that status. It requires building healthy habits, passion in what you do, hard work and big dreams to achieve financial independence. In global standards, being a millionaire means you should have a net worth of 50 million in pesos. But what I want to talk about is to start at 1M pesos.

1. The first step is to set the target income. If the target is to achieve your first million, then multiply it by 10, so it’s Php10M. It’s the 10X concept of Grant Cardone where it says that to realize your dreams, you have to exert significant effort. So multiplying your goal by ten means, you will increase your energy 10 times as well. You shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars. You can start with an 8-5 job, or a be salesperson of a promising industry or a legitimate networking/direct selling company.

2. Pay yourself first and save the 40%. With this, it means you will have to spend considerable efforts to minimize your expenditures first to 60% of your actual income. If your current income is P40k per month, then it means your budget threshold should only be at P24k. If your salary is 100k, then spend only 60k. I know its difficult. It might say that you have to downsize your apartment, minimize dining out or avoid credit card installment. Let go of your ego and focus on the vision and the long-term benefits.

3. Invest the 40%. Your savings or your money has zero value if it’s stored in the bank. It should be moving. It can be with a good product idea, stocks, or any business that you are passionate about. You can always work in a company while running an online business.

4. Continue to grow your business until your monthly business net income is equal to your salary. The next step is to leave your current employer and achieve your target on item 1.

5. Apply the same concept with your business, invest the 40% back to your company or another business or any other form of investment.

People want to go to heaven, but they are not willing to die. Same concept here, if you’re going to earn your first million, then you should be willing to do the above.

Just bear in mind that it’s not always about the money, the main goal is about having the time to do what you love to do without working your ass-off all the time.

Project Zero-Phone-Use: The Ultimate To Do List

todolist.pngAccording to a study, an average cell phone user touches the phone 2,167 times a day or equivalent to 2.5 hours.  Then there’s also a study that continually checking their phones results to a higher level of stress compared to people who spend less time interacting with their gadgets.

Some of us use the phone simultaneous with when we are talking to someone or even driving, which is worse.  Yes, there are benefits in multi-tasking, but the drawbacks outweigh those benefits.  It not only results in more anxiety or stress but a half-baked product of your work.

With this, I wonder, how can one person reduce the number of times they touch his or her phone?  If you’re a businessperson and you are managing all aspects of your company, it is given that you will be overwhelmed with so many tasks.  So if one can develop a system to automate some and minimize friction in executing your work such as checking your to-do list on your phone, then you’ll be more effective and efficient.

Over the years, I’ve been in constant research, trial and error on how to achieve that “nirvana” of doing my todo list.  I tried so many tools from Remember The Milk, Google Inbox, Google Tasks, Google Keep, Jira, Basecamp, Post Its, a physical notebook and Trello.  But I always end up with obsessively checking the tasks on hand and non-stop looking at my phone.

I even have a separate phone with me in the morning so that I won’t be tempted to glance at the notifications of my work phone.  I may seem calm from the outside, but my mind is pounding with stressful thoughts and anxiety.

Just recently, I thought of an experiment to minimize the number of times I will touch and view my phone and use a smartwatch or only the phone notification to glance at quick pings and IMs.

The main objective is, how can I be able to reduce the use of my phone while still be productive and efficient?  So this is what I am going to do at work in the next coming days:

1. Classify my activities.

    * a. Email checks and work planning using a laptop

    * b. Face-to-face meetings

    * c. Manage IMs

2. For activity a)., I will block one hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon to reply to emails using my laptop.  Then I will use Google Keep to set tasks with due date reminder notification that will require me to do another activity, for example, a phone call or proposal review.

3. Use Google Calendar to set events for face-to-face meetings.

4. Classify IMs, using a smartwatch with cellular data can eliminate the use of a phone.  You can even leave your phone at home with the latest smartwatches such as Apple Watch.

    * IMs answerable by yes or no, use a reply/msg template to make a quick reply.

    * IMs that require a discussion, I can use a smartwatch with a wireless earphone to call instead of discussing over text if it’s urgent, or just call them after my current task.

To paint you a picture further, here’s a sample day for me:

7am – 8am – I will block this hour to reply to emails, messages, and set reminders to place a call in a specific time of the day.

7:45am – a watch Google Keep notification will pop-up telling me to start the sales meeting at 8am showing the list of things to discuss.

8am – 10am – focus on the sales meeting while glancing over quick IMs and apply item 4 above.

9:45am – a watch notification will pop-up telling me to wrap up and start driving to my a meeting outside the office.

10am to 12pm – sales call outside the office while glancing over quick IMs on my smartwatch.  Will reply using templates and/or set reminders via the watch to call back.

12pm to 2pm – lunch and do item 2 above – check emails using a laptop and re-arrange Google Keep tasks.

1:45pm – a watch notification will pop-up telling me what to do next…

And the cycle goes on and on.

With this “algorithm,” I might be able to reduce the time significantly in using my phone, if not entirely eliminate them instead of constantly checking and replying emails, msgs and attending to tasks real-time.

The smart way of using your phone this time is when you want to read an ebook peacefully on the bed, listen to podcasts or engage in social media when you are not in work mode.

If this experiment is successful, then I will try to share my experience with you via a vlog.

Stay tuned.

Creative Ways to Spice Up Sales Meetings

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I was 22 and a young pup when I started going to sales calls and started facing executives.  I had no coach and mentor.  All I had was courage to accept rejections and courage to enter into conference rooms while shaking heavily.  It was a great experience.  However, I know things can be fast-tracked if salespeople are well coached and managed.

It’s Monday once again, and Mondays are our sales meeting day.  I am not formally trained to be a sales manager, but as the leader of a growing software company, it’s inevitable to lead a young promising sales team.

I usually start meetings by talking to them of then one-by-one.  I am result-oriented hence I begin traditionally by discussing their results.  How many new opportunities are converted into “Warm” or  “Hot” or how many were booked last week?  If I see a few results, that’s the only time I dive into details, such as their activities and planned itinerary for mentoring.

The exciting part for me is the team meetings.  Below are some creative topics when facilitating sales team meetings:

Success stories – while one-on-one sessions are for open discussions about each area for improvement, team meetings are for celebration and success stories.  It’s exciting to discuss stories on how a salesperson closed the deal.

Personal update – it’s interesting to discuss what’s happening to each member’s own life.  It gives a sense of being a family at work thus motivates them to work as a team.

Product training – I always like to note special cases who have unique requirements.  Brainstorming on how to configure our product and providing a solution to fit into client’s needs is one of the things that excite me.  Product updates, FAQs and probing techniques are also good topics to discuss.

Business plan – lead generation is one of the challenges in being a salesperson.  Discussion on each one’s business plan is a healthy way to motivate them to drive results.

Grievances – From time to time, it’s healthy to discuss feedback about company policies, systems, and obstacles.  Having an open-door policy is one of our cultures in the company to promote innovation and improvement.

Book or blog review – Assign a member to search and read a blog or a chapter of a book related to the industry, product or sales techniques.

Discuss takeaways – key takeaways every after sales team meetings are a good indication if the conference is a success or not.
However you do your meetings, make sure things meetings are run efficiently, so the sales team keep their momentum, and they do not feel like they wasted their 3-4 hours instead of chasing sales.

10 Practical Guideposts on Innovation

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I wrote this for myself.  I am obsessed with it.  I can’t help but be obsessed with solving every problem or every inefficiency that I see.  I know these guideposts will help me when I need it.
 
I started this blog a few months back to help me have a platform to do my research about innovation and creativity.  Over time, gradually, I started to understand its basics and intricacies.
 
I failed a couple of times but when successful, I fell in love with the products or solutions that I develop.  I get motivated every time I hear business challenges internally and that of our clients.  I’ve also seen what innovation looks like at every stage of our business and in life.
 
1. Innovation Never Stops.  Problems and challenges never stop therefore you should never stop innovating.  Do not tolerate problems that you see, queue it in your to-dos, prioritize and work on each of them.
 
2. Be Brave to Start Again.  If the product or solution does not work, cut the losses and do not be afraid of starting again.  The company 3M has this process of keeping what works and discarding what doesn’t work.
 
3. Find Your Inspiration.  In music, you need inspiration to come up with songs.  In writing, you find inspiration from books you read on life experiences.  In business, you get inspiration from your mentors, competitors, and innovators.
 
4. Don’t Worry if You Can’t Figure Out Your Niche Yet.  When I started the company, we didn’t know yet what to build.  We built our first product (accounting software) from the people around us who happened to be accountants.  All I want at the time is to innovate.
 
5. Be Patient.  I know I said not to be afraid to start again, but you have to find that balance in re-doing and being patient.  It takes time.  If you are building a product, build your minimum viable product (MVP) and iterate.  On the first year, start, research, and learn everything.  Just Do.  On the 2nd year, try to network and make friends with people who are your possible clients or partners.  Year three, try to start making money, but not profit yet.  Year four, profit and year five, scale up.
 
6. There are no shortcuts.  This is related to number 5, but just to emphasize further, there’s no life hack, or overnight success, for innovation. It takes time.
 
7. Stick with the Purpose.  More than money and profits, the product or innovation that you do should have a purpose, a mission and vision.  It can be as simple as innovating your to-do list.  Being efficient in your to-dos will help you focus and be efficient in managing time.  So in effect, you will have the time for other important matters or time to spend time with your family.  That’s the purpose.
 
8. Start Today.   Don’t wait for tomorrow, or next week to innovate.  Be mindful of the problems in front of you, then look for solutions now.
 
9. What If I Want to Invent Something Weird?  Maybe a flying car, or underground tunnel?  Do item 5 then number 2.
 
10. What If I Keep on Failing?  Do a routine every morning to listen to positive affirmations from YouTube.  List down three things you are thankful for.  Exercise.  Then repeat from number 1. 
 
Hopefully, these  will be useful to you as it was, and will always be, to me.