2023: The Year Of Change & High Interest Rates

2020-2022 where COVID-19 ravaged the world, uprooting global trade, travel and lives, where there were so much sufferings in health (people lost lives and lost health), lost jobs and independence when we were forced be it by law or fear to stay home.

I distinctively remembered that during the early COVID years, the uncertainties the individuals faced, how lost the governments were in facing this global epidemic, but I also remembered that I enjoyed the quiet for a bit on the roads, in buildings – I welcomed the silence (without dismissing the health and trade pains).

Those years were a blur.

Then came 2023.

2023 for me, other than the biggest pain of the Fed ever-increasing of the interest rates, which spilled-over into almost every aspect of my business and life, even in Singapore, I can recall distinct changes and growth by month:

January 2023

We moved into our new place in Boon Keng, after renting for about a year in Woodleigh. We moved within 1 KM of St Andrews Primary, to give our boys a chance to get into the school as I’m not alumni of any good schools in Singapore (I was born and schooled in Malaysia).

The landlord at woodleigh wasnt satisfied with forfeiting and taking our 2 months deposit amounting to $7600, and wanted another $11400 on top of that, which our agent resisted against, and we exited without much issues.

It was a stark difference living in Boon Keng versus Sengkang, where we lived in since 2009 (it was our matrimonial home), because there was so much cheaper and better food, but most importantly, it was very accessible. By bus and/or train, I can get to

  • Novena in 15-20 minutes
  • Tampines in 30 minutes
  • Bukit Timah in 30 minutes
  • Serangoon Central in 10-15 minutes

I really like the accessibility!

June 2023

It was anxiety-provoking when we got and did the application for David (our second kiddo) to enter St Andrew Junior (Primary) school. The sole reason why we sold our place in Sengkang in 2021, move to a rental space in Woodleigh in 2022 and then bought our own place in Boon Keng which we moved into in Jan 2023 was for A chance for him to enter St Andrews.

And it was a little anxiety-provoking having to wait, because we were applying at Stage 2C, which is the last stage for a chance to enter, which means we’re at the tail end, chance-wise.

And we got in!

I mean, David got in. This means that Joshie, the third one, will also get in, but easier as David will be a sibling in school when Joshie goes into Primary one. Whew.

Thank God we moved closer, because anyone outside of 2 KM will have to ballot if I recalled correctly.

Helps that Boon Keng is a great accessible place to reach many places in quick time.

September 2023

I allowed a shareholder who wanted to remain hidden to join our group physiotherapy and hand therapy practice in 2017/2018, other than the two other director-shareholders who openly wanted to join me who I also allowed to join.

It took me six years to ask him to leave (I bought him out), and I kept telling myself that “there’s a role for him” and looking back, there were some functions and responsibilities that he was good with, but overall, it’s been six years too long to have him simply because we were too small – the financial and legal moves he made and strategies were too big, advanced and expensive for a small company, no matter how smart or good the intentions were.

With him exiting, I learnt many things:

  1. Trust my instincts, experience and brain and dont second-guess myself. I know what I’m good at.
  2. That I need to hire for what the business needs for the moment, not for something 5-10 years down the road. It’s too early and complex.
  3. Simplify.
  4. Be direct and have more open honest conversations.

I am reminded not to work with people who are too close or related to me, and I promptly when on a spree to dismantle an unnecessary and overly-complex structures that costs us at least $12K-$15K++/year. Every dollar will go back into the business to help it grow.

The group is now soooooo much simpler and easier to scale and manage, and though he was “supposed” to manage shareholders, which included updating them, we had to keep reminding him to update them (less than 3x over 6 years my gosh).

When I took over?

At least once per month detailed reporting.

Go figure, Nigel.

October 2023

October was a roller coaster:

  1. We got an opportunity to grow our physiotherapy and hand therapy business into Serangoon! After some back-and-forth discussions, we secured the rental and started the renovations discussion. The landlord is amazing and the location is pretty sweet as well.
  2. My mum traveled to Iceland with some friends to see the aurora lights, and though she enjoyed some company and sights, she also learnt that not all “friends” are good. Lessons that I’m learning as well.
  3. My brother was warded for 7 days in Johor Bahru’s general hospital (Sultanah Aminah), for having difficulties breathing. He was diagnosed with heart failure and he looked a wreck, and we thought he’s a goner but he lived! I think he’s a fighter survivor, and that made him start paying more attention and serious about exercising regularly.
  4. My sister finalized the purchase of her own space in JB, and we’re so excited for her!
  5. I engaged a writer as a teacher, and his name is Johnny B Truant, to teach me how to write a book(s) and the conversations and lessons were something I looked forward to 1-2x per week. I was about to write but I’ll share more below.

November 2023

November 11th, 2023, my turn where I almost died.

This time, it was my turn for heart failure and there’s more details if you click the link above. I was warded for 6 days in hospital with an attending cardiologist who was very worried for me. It was a weird, zen-like days for me with lots of conversations with God on if I would pass on.

Of course, I lived (for now, heh), and after I discharged on 16th November 2023,

  1. I was very, very, very tired for many days. First the cardio thought it was just me recovering from the original chest infection (damn you rhinovirus) but I told him that I think it’s truly the meds. After he tweaked the meds and after about a month, I am strong enough to start strengthening exercises.
  2. I started (almost) daily intermittent fasting. From 8 PM the night before and at least 12 PM (or later) to break my fast. Even with that, I do my best to avoid carbs, starch, salt and avoid caloric-drinks. I even stopped coffee, tea and caffeine for most parts.
  3. I measured and track my blood pressure daily into a google sheet.
  4. I started writing here in nigelchua.com again. Never mind what’s the focus, how to monetize, traffic strategies, whatever. I am just gonna write and tweak as I go along.
  5. Continued with my restructuring works and replaced our accountant and corporate secretary, saving the business another $1.5K+/month, which can funnel into sustainability and growth measures.

December 2023

I’m writing this in December so these are really fresh:

I finally visited my friend Shaun who moved to Kuching (Sarawak) for a quick 3 days and 2 nights (thank you wifey for allowing me to travel like this. Read more about that here.

One of my front desk rage-quit and the last time she did this, I sat her down to speak with her to retain. This time, I didn’t do that even when she invited me to talk with her. I said, okay, go if you think so, and that’s it. I started to arrange for interviews (had given six to date, and by the time this article goes live, I’d already had hired a replacement and started training).

I’m not remotely interested to “attempt” to retain people who has already made up their mind and taken action before consulting me – I will not waste my time. If you dont consult me before you make a decision, why would I waste my time speaking after? Even when she asked if she can join us for our team meals after, I said no. Simply because one cannot wish to only join during fun and relaxed moments and avoid the actual working together. Goodbye and God bless.

We had two different company dinners this time for year end gathering, because we couldnt gather altogether and it was a warm gathering. One was in Dian Xiao Er NEX, and the other is Go-Ang Pratunam Michelin Chicken rice. Fun times!

Here + Hopes for 2024

Crypto is starting to stir after a few years of winter hiatus, where Bitcoin went from all-time-high (then) of USD 69K to lowest of USD 15K (which is a big drop – crypto IS volatile!). But winter is melting, and things are heating up, and Bitcoin has gone to moving sideways of USD 40-42K in Dec, and with Bitcoin halving coming in 2024, and the Feds announcing at least THREE interest cuts (boyohboyohboy) — I’m expecting a bullrun + multiple volatile rallies. Exciting times.

Our core business, which is a physiotherapy and hand therapy multi-clinic-multi-therapist business in Singapore, has undergone multiple changes and corporate restructuring which I’m leading as mentioned above. We’ve launched our third physiotherapy clinic in Serangoon central, and though it’s an experiment, I’m having high hopes and expectations for it. More to come too, as we ramp up sales and marketing and I’m in the midst of brainstorming the next level up partnerships.

Health. November 2023’s heart failure from rhinovirus was a mild scare, and though I’ve made my peace with God, I definitely would like to live a long life to walk my daughter down the aisle and see my boys getting married and having their own kids as well as growing older with my beautiful wife. I’ve adopted near daily intermittent fasting, heart / blood pressure meds and blood pressure monitoring, and have started my strengthening regime again. I aim to pick up jogging too in 2024.

Family is central to most of what I do, from business to investing to spending quality time together, and this will continue to be part of my daily / weekly lifestyle.

Investing. Once I take a chunk of profits from my investments, I will very likely execute on the trust fund that I’d been thinking and talking so long about, with a core focus on either index funds of US and/or globally, possibly balanced with 30% bond…but I can go all into index as well. I’m still thinking if I should go into rental properties, but if I want something really, really hands off and passive, then index and chill IS the way. It’s also the easiest that can intertwine with trust funds.

Writing. I’m back to writing here in nigelchua.com, and other than the technical writing at the core business and marketing sites, I will also write “Adventures in Candyland”, made of snippets and short stories of memories of books and comics I read throughout my life, to my daughter during our daily commute to her preschool. She’s been pestering me to write it, and when I hired a writing coach, he too nudged me to write that. So it’d either written as a page here in nigelchua.com, or in another website (but I’m dreading managing another site!). But there’s that.

Spiritual walk with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. As I grow older, I become increasingly more aware that I am not just a body, but a spiritual being and I sense God’s presence often. Many things that I experience and go through has His hands all over it (from His protection, guidance, love and more). I’m not exactly a sinless man, though I do my best to not harm anyone and I will continue to become more and more like Christ and what / who He wants me to be.

I pray for your 2024 to be an even better year than the last years combined!

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