You need to protect your time and prioritize what’s important to you, rather than blindly following or haphazardly managing your time

I…used to be people pleaser – it was hard to say no because i wanted to be liked and popular but the more i said yes to people and things i dont care about, the unhappier and more lost i got. In the end I realize I have to protect my time for people and projects i care about.

Here’s what i did.

TLDR: time is limited, time that has passed will never come back. I learnt to schedule activities, events and projects i care about to get the kind of results i want be it financially, buying time back or spending with people i care about

The biggest 2 things i learnt:

  1. Schedule everything. This includes sleep time, rest time, slack / serendipity time, exercise time, everything – the more details that went into the calendar, the better. It made it easier to focus and to say no to things that dont fit the goal or the time.

  2. Prioritization of importance. Things may seem urgent, but frankly not everything is important, and not everything can be done. i have to just choose the best 3-4 things in a day to focus on. this also meant saying no to many events that were not critical or important.

Business-wise, it’s the same when it comes to decision making and prioritization. Choose the core 3-4 activities that progresses or grow the business and drop / ignore the stuff that isn’t as important for the time being.

There’s another 3 lessons i learnt to maximize my time, watch the video to find out.

One of the most self destructive habits we humans have is the sense of constant comparison, and it’s toxic. Let’s break that.

Comparing ourselves to others may be natural…but it’s terrible. Mostly, it just makes us feel worse and powerless…and worse, bitter. If you have loved ones, kids or employees, it’s important to change the way we compare such that it’s useful rather than disempowering. Here’s what I learnt.

TLDR: comparing negatively or without useful purpose can be disempoweringly painful and bitter especially when it’s too vague to do anything over, but we can reframe comparisons to be useful

Nigel, why you so fat compared to your friends and cousins?

Lol, that was one of the actual comparison that I personally received. The others that I can remember includes:

  • why cant you be as smart as your friend / cousin?

  • why cant you be as good / obedient as so-and-so?

Work-wise, I’ve come across these nuggets from clowns

  • why is employee B faster than you?

  • why must you be so difficult? why cant you just follow my grand (but stupid ideas) like employee C?

If I had a fucking dollar each time I hear these…thank goodness I am a little thick-skinned, and though it hurt then, it hurts less now.

These are all useless, vague and non-actionable comparisons that just makes me sad, pissed and bitter.

Look, we all compare all the time, it’s not something new, but it’s not useful to compare without purpose.

And dont compare just to annoy or disempower your kids or employees as bad habits. If you’re doing that, stop it.

Here’s how to do it better – since we’re gonna compare anyway (cos it’s natural), let’s at least make it useful, such as

  • compare to study the strengths and wins of others (trade improvement notes) eg “oh so and so got so good with their 3-pointer jump shot because they practiced it 2 hours a day every day”

  • compare to realize and know your own strengths (which is good) and the strengths of others to collaborate better

How to progress and stop holding yourself back by controlling the narrative and perspectives in your head

Our human minds are amazing, but sometimes my Lord, it can work against our best interest when we don’t use it well. Taking control of your focus and perspective will increase your likelihood to succeed by a wide margin. Here’s what I learnt.

TLDR: the key to progress is to focus (and speak) only on the path that gets you there, NOT the obstacles in your way.

Our human brains cannot see or think in a negative, such as if I tell you “don’t think of a burger” – most of the time, we’d think of a burger.

Replace this with “dont think of a ___ with anything”,

  • elephant

  • car model X

  • watch

  • etc

and immediately your brain will think of what you’re NOT supposed to be thinking about.

Damn.

Aaaaaannnd since we can’t “dont think” and we’re surrounded by much negativity, it becomes very easy to repeat negative stuff to ourselves or to focus on negative stuff, like “I’m boring” or “I cant get a job” or “I cant find _____”

We all know sometimes when we say we can’t find the keys / salt / something, it may be just right in front of us, isn’t it? Happens all the time to me in the past, when I cant find my name tag or my keys or some shit I need 5 minutes ago lol

Our brains are amazing, but damn, it can work against us if we don’t use it well such as slowing us down or just shutting down our hopes entirely, fuck this when this happens.

Frankly, that’s a waste of this function.

Instead use it brainhack yourself to increase your motivation and focus to push through projects, limitations, fears, anxieties, and above all, to help you achieve what you set out to achieve.

Example in group basketball, when you get the ball, what do you do? Do you just see the number of opponents in your way and moan about that? Of course not – the opponent’s job is the stop/slow you and get the ball from you.

Your job in that very moment?

See the opponents…but more importantly, see the PATH between them that you need to maneuver to take the shot or pass the ball strategically to someone who can score the shot.

The answer to progress, succeed and get what you want is profoundly simple at times:

  • keep your eyes on the path that brings you to where you want to go

  • speak what you want and about the path that brings you to where you want to go

Nothing else.

Will you suffer failures? Yes. Setbacks? Yes. Betrayals? Maybe. Pain? Yes. But is it worth it? Yes.

How to use positive, hope and growth narratives to help you through hard times and positively impact your life experiences

Tell me about your life story, describe to me what you’d learnt, what you’ve lived through and experienced…

And how you tell these stories will shape your life and experiences now and in the future.

Negative / contamination storytelling bad

Let me give you an example:

For example, if you tend to tell stories about

  • how difficult your life is

  • how X person did this to you (stole your credit, took your stuff, made you feel bad)

  • how everything always goes wrong

  • how life isn’t fair

This is known as negative storytelling, also known as “Contamination Storytelling”

Contamination stories like its name, these stories causes contamination, weaknesses and disempowerment. Most of the time, people who subscribe to this way of storytelling consciously or unconsciously create and perpetuate more

  • feelings of powerlessness or

  • feeling like a victim

It’s a very common way of telling stories…but I want to introduce a different and better way of story telling.

Redemptive storytelling good

It’s the other side of the coin, which is known as “Redemptive Storytelling”, kinda like the balance between good and bad.

People who believe their lives are meaningful, worth something, they tend to tell stories that are filled with hope, growth, learnings (lessons learnt) and love.

Redemptive stories bring about stronger sense of identities and empowerment and they continue to feel that

  • their lives have purpose and meaning

  • they have sense of control

No denials or lies needed

Look I don’t believe in lying at all.

Neither is denials good or needed.

We don’t have to lie or “spin”, truths are truths, but we can reframe the way we tell our stories, be it to ourselves or others.

Just by making small tweaks, micro-edits to your personal stories, you can feel very powerful effects on your self of self, purpose and well being.

How to change your inner dialogue for your own good?

I use these words: What I learnt & What I Hope

  • using the words “What I learnt” makes you take on the hat of a student, where you’re learning and finding lessons in the experience

  • using the words “What I hope” puts a perspective of hope in the future

So instead of saying, my life is so difficult, you can reframe it very specificly to say:

I learnt to hone and harness patience working in this painful place, and I hope this patience that I learnt becomes a powerful ability when I became a mum / dad / fur parent / entrepreneur etc

Reframe your narrative and stories for a better life experience and mental health

Why I share this is because I know we not only create our own personal histories as we live and experience life forward, BUT we must remember that we have the power and ability to write, rewrite and reframe our life stories to live life with meaning, love and purpose…

…just by choosing what we want to focus on.

Today, I encourage you to choose to fill your stories with hope, growth, lessons and love.

What stories will you tell going forward?

Entrepreneurs and business owners…it is responsible and value creating to automate your business to be able to function without you

I sold my physical therapy practice in 2014, and one of the core reasons why the buyers wanted my business was not just because there was business synergy (they are a medical group; we are a physical therapy / hand therapy group), but also importantly, I had created the business such that it would run with little to no input from me.

I still worked hard of course, but I could unplug anytime, go for 2-3 weeks breaks when I want, and the business would still run without me.

7 years later, and the business still runs without me (I’d exited fully since end 2017) – to me, it’s very responsible as the business doesn’t need to me to function…to hear that I’m still right, 7 years later – it’s music to my ears and soul =)

Why outsource, delegate and automate the business?

#1 – Risk Management

If we’re the only person in charge of the business (or if we’re the business), it’s very risky to the business.

We’re just ONE problem away from zero income.

One accident or a disease can hit you and your business hard if your business is all you. And that’s what that bugs me and makes me worried:

If shit hits the fan and something happens to me or the sole proprietor…then what happens?

Zero income, or worse, business shuts down.

Sure enough, we can have insurance etc – but insurance may not be able to save the business. Or what if insurance doesn’t cover?

#2 We have finite time, energy and attention

Instead of building a business that requires 100% of my time, I’d rather build a business that requires 10% effort of 10 persons, and if they desire to achieve more, it’d be more than 100%.

If we want the business to grow beyond us, then we will need to learn to outsource, delegate and automate.

Ie you’ve got to learn how to hire, train, retain, and fire.

#3 If the business can grow with you…it can grow WAY beyond you

Not dissing solopreneurs who likes one-person-operation, but those are usually limited to the extent of point #2 which is limited to YOUR

  • time
  • energy
  • attention

Now if you build a business that can run without you, not only your business is automated, more importantly, it means that you can scale your business a lot more than you can do it by yourself.

How you can do the same for your business?

Right now, I speak for physical therapy business in a physical location, and it’d likely be applicable for other services be it

  • health: GP, podiatry, massage, TCM

  • home: lawn, electrical, dry wall, fence, broken locks / keys stuck in locks

  • house call services

  • etc

I don’t have any formal business education, I mainly just studied occupational therapy and practiced, but I think what I share can be applied to any service / skilled based workers and what I followed was:

build up my client base / cases load to 80% of my capacity, and then hire based on revenue share and pass my entire case load to the new hire

Repeat as this process as the new hire reaches a standard 70-80% of max load, and then bring in another new hire, split the new cases, bearing in mind

  • not to overhire (eg some places have capacity for 2 full timers, some 1, some 3) – you will know as you operate and manage the business

  • make sure your legal contracts are fair but firm and tight (engage a good lawyer for this)

  • pay your people on time (finance function)

  • take care of your people: hear them out, serve them, fix problems, treat them meals, celebrate together

  • etc

For the non-skilled eg front desk / admin staff

I show them the required tasks for daily operations such as making appointments, rescheduling, taking payments, dealing with clients and their enquiries, etc

  1. showing them (hiree) how to do it first

  2. then they do it with me a couple of times (up to a month)

  3. then they do themselves without me

This is what I generally do from a sales > hire > retain > manage standpoint.

Rinse and repeat.

Boring stuff…but tried, tested and proven for me since 2010.

What about you? What do you think and how do you delegate out your work?

Bonus: A common complaint when I share this: BUT NIGEL, I WANT TO BE THE SOLE PERSON!

Yes I understand and I hear you – doing the above, delegating yourself doesn’t mean that you cannot be the main person in charge anymore. If anything, it allows you the flexibility to choose if you want to keep working or not.

Maybe you want to work and all revolve around you, in your 30s. But maybe at your 50s, you may want to sell the entire business off.

Or maybe golf and keep the business as a cash cow.

You CAN choose to work or not…which is very different from you HAVE to work because you have to; instead, you can work or not, because you want to.

It’s about having options in business and life.

It made sense then, it still makes sense today, 2021 onwards.

Be Brave Enough To Ask Seemingly Simple Or Stupid Questions

Since 2018, I make it a point to ask again and again until I understand points (even when everyone but me gets it), at the risk of sounding or looking dumb. I don’t regret this at all, and it’s since improved business, relationship and even investment decisions by asking seemingly “stupid” questions.

Most of us fear to look dumb.

We don’t want to look or sound dumb to our bosses, investors, family, friends or colleagues – that’s why we as humans rather die than speak in public or look dumb lol

But I feel and think that there is an opportunity where we can develop a very specific learning superpower

  1. if we can recognize that sometimes it’s good to zig when everyone’s zagging

  2. if we can overcome the fear of looking dumb by asking seemingly stupid questions

Usually the dumb questions are the questions that is sitting right there in front of that no one seems to be asking BUT it could be the most important and smart question to ask

So I am not the brightest light bulb in the room and I know it – and when very smart people share ideas with me or teach me like I already understand (oh bless these kind souls) when I don’t such as complex medical issues, financial instrumentation, insurance, legal matters, investment, projections etc

If I don’t understand and If I’m discussing direct with the presenter, I ask

  1. what does this mean?
  2. how does it affect me or anyone?
  3. what can I do to get the outcomes I want?

Or if I’m in a group, I

  1. Raise my hand
  2. (Optional) Apologize if you’re in a group saying “sorry to delay the meeting but…”
  3. I don’t understand, can you explain that and how it works?

Sometimes presenters gives me this look of “I just explained” or “you’re the management/leader but you don’t get it?” Some of my peers may start to roll their eyes or look away when I ask these simple questions….

…but if I don’t get it, I don’t get it (I did say I wasn’t the smartest…).

Plus I want to understand because if I don’t understand and act as though I understand…

  1. I will not be able to apply the teachings
  2. I wont be able to teach the concept to my peers
  3. I will make unnecessary mistakes
  4. the costs of hiring the presenter will be wasted

So I want to learn and keep improving and keep making better and better decisions and because of that, there is no such thing as stupid questions in my vocabulary.

Example of Chris Sacca, billionaire investor – when he was entry level in Google, he would attend really high level meetings with the twins and top leadership, and initially they would ask him, “what are you doing here?” and he would say “I’m just here take notes” – and they let him stay. At some point, they expect him to be around and then he would be the one to ask dumb questions. Such as the very obvious pink elephant questions in the room that no one asks or no one dares to ask. And because of this ability to override the fear of looking stupid by asking obvious questions, he’s created incredible breakthroughs in investing (he’s a billionaire investor) – of course other smarts involved as well in research and decision making.

Also, if we want to ask these seemingly dumb questions, I believe that there will be others who want to ask these questions also but they are just scared or embarrassed.

In this case at the very least, everyone will learn and understand more together and at the best, you may find better and better ideas to your next

  • best selling book topics
  • profitable 6-7 figure businesses
  • picking the next best investment (maybe the next Uber?)
  • etc

To conclude, don’t be afraid to ask for whatever you need to get the job done. If you don’t understand in a group meeting,

  1. Just raise your hand
  2. (Optional) Apologize if you’re in a group saying “sorry to delay the meeting but…”
  3. I don’t understand, can you explain that and how it works?

Repeat this until you get it – happy learning.

Build A Side Business That Can Be Automated – Earn More & Buy Back Your Time

Some basic assumptions before we start:

  1. This is a business that will be built on the side (part time; meaning you’d be working full time Mondays to Fridays) so let’s assume you can put in 4 hours on Saturdays and 4 hours on Sundays (total 8 hours a week).
  2. Because this starts off as a part time business, it doesnt make sense to rent a space like a shop or office because we’re only dedicating 8 hours per week on Saturdays and Sundays combined. So this will be a service that will be provided at the clients home, our home or their offices.
  3. We’re aiming for delegation and automation so we’re prioritizing more for freed up time.

Generally to build a side business that can be automated into 2 categories for me:

A. Building A Physical Service Business Into An Agency

This is the easier option because it’s very convenient, here and now. See most adults can understand what a massage therapist does, and they can make a snap decision to try and to keep having massage.

There are dozens if not hundreds of services that people are willing to pay for, which includes tutoring, personal training, music teaching, massage, therapy, etc.

In this video, we will be using the example of massage therapy as main focus. It is very easy to pickup massage therapy, and you can train and learn within months or at most a year.

The biggest question that people usually have is “how do I get my first client?” – for such questions, the general answer is that the simpler to understand, the easier to get client.

Eg if you provide a $100/hour massage versus a $10000 website production, it’s soooo easy for clients to decide on the $100/hour massage compared to the $10K one.

To start the ball rolling, say you’re a newbie massage therapist, just make an offer. Assuming your competition offers $100/hour, you can adopt the same pricing strategy BUT offer a free 30 minutes trial.

Send out this offer to all your friends, family etc via whatsapp, Facebook, Instagram etc and say that it’s totally no obligation, those who like the massage during the trial, they can opt to extend another 30 minutes that is paid ($50) and/or pay during the next session at rate of $100/hour.

That’s it.

You can join paid networking communities like BNI as well and other options, but do this first.

Once you get your first client, do your best, and ask for referrals. Repeat until your part time hours are filled. 8 hours a weekend x 4 weeks x $100/hour = $3200/month. You can already hire your massage therapist hiree.

Once you hire your first employee, you’re already an agency. Rinse and repeat ie get more clients, hire more. Rinse and repeat.

This is generally the same process for most service business as they transition into an agency.

B. Digital / Online Business (Product)

Digital or online business is the direction that I’m moving towards, and it typically entails

1. Creating your own products

  • ebooks such as massage books for specific conditions
  • audiobooks ie converting massage books into audio versions
  • tutorials
  • courses – video courses to help people visualize how to exactly do it

2. Selling other people’s products (affiliate marketing)

  • related, relevant and high quality products
  • massage therapy business examples:
    • clients may ask what massage oils or lotions to buy
    • what massage beds is best
    • which pain relief gels are best etc

and you can recommend them and if they buy through your links and recommendations, you may be paid by the company

3. Content creation (blogging, podcasting, video)

These refer to blogging (writing on websites), podcasting (creating audio interviews and podcasts) and videos (YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok) for marketing and branding purposes

Remember your goal, which is to start a business on the side, build and scale it up to a profitable agency and buyback your time as you hire and manage employees.

Financial Independence Retire Early: Why You Need To FIRE

Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE) is a movement that pushed individuals to retire as young and early as possible by achieving financial independence from a young age, and not at 65.

It’s a basic numbers game, to FIRE, you need 25X of your annual spending. This means if you spend $25000 a year, you’ll need $625K (which is $25K x 25). Which is based on the 4% withdrawal rate annually (but I’ll instead invest the $625K for 4-5% dividend returns so that my principal amount will be kept intact.

That’s that general overview, and the most important thing to consider is:

1) WHY

1a: Time freedom.

This scores highest on my list because our time on earth is limited (most average humans live 75-90 years old) and I’m not going to wait till I’m 65-70 years old to retire, leaving 10+ years to enjoy. Besides, by then, I probably can’t walk that much or may be in too much pain to enjoy retirement.

I prefer to enjoy retirement when I’m younger, when I can still have the health and energy to spend time with my wife, kids, family, friends etc; and maybe work till I die if the work is super meaningful and brings a lot of relationships together. Maybe.

1b. Flexibility to pursue

– interests such as studying law, art, philanthropy, medicine etc
– spend time with people, animals and projects that I care about
– serendipitous moments or opportunities
– happiness

2) HOW

This is the easy but boring part – the basic how is generally EARNING MORE and/or SPENDING LESS.

Spending less will help you achieve your FIRE goals much faster, but there is only so much you can save and cut back at times, and I don’t want to cut back too much until retirement isn’t fun.

This is one of the reasons why I chose entrepreneurship, to accelerate my FIRE journey and at the same time, meet and serve more people that I care and like =)

The Law Of Reversed Effort – The More You Want, The Less You Get

Have you seen someone trying hard to get something but just cant get it?

  • Could be money or wealth.
  • Could be love or relationship or that guy or that girl.
  • Whatever.

Just that whatever they try so hard for…it seems to elude them.

And then the other corner, there’s a bunch of people who don’t seem to care BUT they actually get what they want.

Heard that story before?

Aldous Huxley coined the term ‘The Law of Reversed Effort’ to explain that the harder we try with the conscious will to do something, the less we shall succeed.

Is this true?

I’ve experienced this personally and know individuals and even businesses who experience this

This happens a lot in life.

An example is when people chase after happiness and joy.

They will say things like “I want to be happy” and they may do everything remotely possible to make their lives happier…but they dont get happier. They try and try but happiness seems to avoid them.

Ironically they get less happy.

Conversely…people who dont really care about happiness or joy…seems happier and fulfilled.

Weird right?

Another common example is when banks start calling you to offer you loans…WHEN you don’t need the loan or the money.

Or when people avoid committing to someone because they seem needy or trying too hard.

Or when clients are adamant and insistent to engage you when you’re fully booked, or I reject them or don’t need new business or clients?

So why do some people try so hard but dont get what they want?

And yet another group of people who don’t seem to try so hard just gets what they want?

What are we missing?

I find the issue stems from 3 main things

#1 They spend too much time dreaming, talking and thinking about the end result and what they will do with it than actually doing what is required

Examples

  • talking / dreaming about benefits of jogging or what to wear to jog than to actually fucking jog – just wear that running gear and go jog
  • talking / dreaming about earning $100K, $1M or whatever amount and what they will do with the money when they get there….instead of putting the work to actually earn
  • liking the idea of falling in love and being in a relationship instead of actually liking or loving the person in the relationship

It’s distraction from doing what is important.

#2 Taking Short Cuts

Taking short cuts is where many businesses and relationships start to fail because they start taking short term transactional thinking, and people may start to compromise quality and ethics.

This is like taking clients as cash cows or special ones like convenience, minus any real relationship.

It becomes a “how much can I take in the shortest time possible”.

This approach will kill relationships and businesses, because no one wants to be with someone that just takes and takes without giving, loving or committing.

#3 Trying too hard & Spending too little energy and effort on the process itself

This is the actual focus that you need to be at. You got to love the process and love the execution.

If you’re a baker and own a bakery, you gotta enjoy the process involved including the waking up early, buying the ingredients, preparing the dough and the process of letting it rise, baking, slicing and packing and then selling and networking to build the brand, dealing with customers etc

If you’re a physical therapist, the magic is in it’s falling in love with your patients and the process of healing them from injury to zero pain and normal movement

If you’re in a relationship, you pay attention to your special someone and what they like, what they don’t like. You give them time, love, energy etc, again and again. It’s that daily “saying hey baby, how’s your day” and “I love you” and “I’m sorry”

You got to love the process and daily do the processes and improving them consistently

How Can You Get What You Want?

You got to disconnect from the end result and you got to fall in love with the process.

  1. If you want six pack abs, you gotta exercise, cut your unhealthy food intake on a daily basis, for 6-12+ months.
  2. If you want good clean teeth and dental hygiene, you gotta floss and brush your teeth at least twice a day everyday. Avoid sticky sweets.
  3. If you want to build a good business, you gotta fall in love with your clients, find out what’s their #1 problem that you can solve and help them solve it again and again transparently and damn well
  4. If you want a loving relationship or marriage, you got to put in the effort of the little kisses, flirting, the how’s your day baby and I’ve got you baby
  5. Etc

That’s really it. The magic is in the diligence and the process.

This can be applied to ANYTHING that you want in life be it relationships, love, money, business – anything at all.

Remember, end results that you want come as a byproduct of consistent doing and improvement. Don’t just dream or talk about it, execute and do something about it consistently.

6 Skills For Successful Startup Founders

6 Skills For Successful Startup Founders will help maximize your startup chances of success, and frankly, will also be required for all small, medium and large businesses to thrive.

1) Technical / Core Skill(s)

  • technical skill is the core of the deliverables that your start up want to provide and generate revenue from, be it baking, physical therapy, coding, platforms, massage etc
  • to learn go to school or apprentice

2) Hard Product & Systems Processes building, maintaining and refining

  • this is about the business itself per se, knowing what and how to build the business system
  • online can be a platforms like Amazon, search engines like Google etc
  • offline can be physical therapy clinics, bakeries, cafes, massage places
  • about knowing what to build
  • continually upgrade the system
  • build and do part time

3) Design

  • visual, taste & user experience
  • visual is how it looks
  • taste is the quality and how it communicates
  • user experience is how well or easy it is for your clients to use or purchase your stuff

4) Sales and Marketing

  • underrated and sometimes looked down upon skill BUT highly highly invaluable core skill, but need to bear ethical and value-add perspective
  • be able to get the attention of people
  • communicate, convey and convert them

5) Finance

  • metrics to know if your business is actually working…growing…or dying
  • you need to know how to read profit and loss statements, balance sheet statements
  • helps you make decisions to build or grow

6) Leadership & Management

  • most important because the higher your leadership ability, the more you’d be able to attract and retain high quality team mates
  • how to lead and get people to do things
  • leading from empathy is more important
  • build trust so that they need to be able to have crucial conversations in a very constructive yet impactful
  • learn: take on projects that require coordination with multiple people and with numbers involved eg can we do X to improve Y revenue?

Most of the time, you can likely do well in just 1-3 at most (2 is more normal), and generally know the rest which needs to be supported by hiring or recruiting other team members