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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Opportunity comes - we recognise it?

I had a lot of fun the last few days facilitating a moot question here recently.

One spin-off which deserves a post by itself is this thing - If opportunity knocks, can we recognise it?

When I was working on the selling floor as retail sales assistant, the dream for most of us was similar to police constables aspiring to be plainclothes CID.

In retail, most of us want to be Buyers! It's the "glamour" part of retailing. No need to wear uniforms, no shift-work, normal office hours, and weekend offs!

To be precise, we all want to be Fashion Buyers. Who doesn't want to have buying trips to Milan, Paris, and Tokyo?

But what if one gets an offer to be a Stationery Buyer instead? 

As a Stationery Buyer, there's hardly any overseas buying trips as we are mostly dealing with local distributors and suppliers.... Bummer.

I watch in disbelief as some of my younger colleagues turn these "opportunities" down!? Didn't they say they want to be buyers? 

They rather wait for that "cookie-cutter perfect and ribbon tied and nicely gift-wrapped" opportunity to appear. Meanwhile they moan and groan that company never give them opportunities to grow... How retailing no future...

How about your dream to trade full-time to achieve? We all know its notoriously difficult to break-into trading for others.

Guess what? A commodities trading house is willing to take a chance on you and offers you a position as Coffee Trader.

Instead of grabbing it immediately, you still want to counter-offer and negotiate terms? Hello!

I know. The reality is you wanted to be a Bond or Forex trader at a big investment bank or hedge fund - these 2 markets by themselves are much much bigger than the equities market. Is it glamour you after or the love of trading?

While you were dithering, that Coffee Trading position was given to another leaner, meaner, and hungrier applicant.

Imagine you are a medical student. Study so long and hard, finally graduates. And to reward your "success", as part of your housemanship, you got assigned to the A&E department where you have to do the graveyard shift occasionally.

Hello? Isn't those kind of graveyard shift jobs "belong" to those who never study enough? Like those working at convenience stores, supermarkets, fast food outlets that open 24 hours?

So do you still want to be Doctor or not?

Unless we can claim "who we know" or "who my daddy knows" privileges, for the rest of us, we all have to pay our dues.

Be it as a cook or as a lawyer.

The trick is to do it first and quickly use this experience as a stepping-stone for something closer to what you really desire.

And ask yourself - is it better to be inside first then plot a transfer, or is it better to be outside hoping and waiting for someone to let you in?


  1. Hi SMOL

    Whether it is doctor lawyer or other noble professions, the start is always some sai gang works first before eventually one moves up to pass the sai gang to the next generation.

    When we explain to people what we do, we say the glamorous thing in summary. It looks good on the outside not so good on the inside ;)

    1. B,

      You know you are "high potential" when get rotated out of these "sai gang" gigs within 9-18 months.

      I am just "potential" - it takes me on average around 2-3 years to jump out.

      Then there are those "lao jiaos" that are still in these "sai gang" positions after 4-5 years - bitter, angry, sour, and cynical.

      And if they don't pick up the courage to quit and restart all over at another company (sometimes its just being a square peg in a round hole), they either end up as:

      a) those people who have lots of time and opinions at social-political websites.

      b) the main target group for snake-oil salesmen promoting passive income or financial freedom to ease the pain of not making the same progress as their cohorts...

    2. Never read Dr Michael Leong's book. Doc also sai gang when u tio A&E

    3. CW,

      Dr Michael Leong was washing dishes while others who got "daddy scholarships" were out partying with the local birds.

      Hope that answers your question whether I got read widely or not ;)

      Just ask any management trainees if they have to do the graveyard shift, see what's their response?

      There's night trading desks at our brokerages and banks - any takers all you trading wannebes?

  2. Hi SMOL,

    I guess the moral of the story/post is that you should always position yourself to do something that is closer to your "dream" job, instead of just lamenting that it isn't coming.

    If you already know that you dislike your current job and something different comes along, why not take a stab at it?

    Somehow, some people just prefer to be stuck in familiar misery. Beats me.

    1. Hello 15 HWW,

      These people are the same people who gets uncomfortable when they see others have the guts to quit and try something totally new, or take a sabbatical to rediscover themselves and find their True North.

      To relieve this discomfort, they admonish others for "quitting".

      They don't realise:

      Quitting to escape is not the same as quitting to achieve ;)

  3. Hi SMOL

    i just chanced upon a quote by Richard Brandson : " if someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you're not sure you can do it , say yes - then learn how to do it later . "

    Now i chanced upon your new post .

    1. Small Time Investor,

      That's what crossed my mind when we were playing the genie and million $ game ;)

      It's to grab that opportunity first!!!

      Don't think too much.

      What's the worst that can happen?

      If crash and burn, we just go back to whatever we were doing before lor.

      BTW, Richard Brandson is one cool guy. Now that's really having fun with our one life - right here, right now!

  4. Hi SMOL,

    Humility is key.

    No job is beneath us before no job is above us.

    Badge of honour only comes after baptism by fire.

    Want that nice title as status symbol? Earn it lor!

    First must recognise that real substance is an accumulation of sai, sweat, and tears. Need to be organic one. :D

    1. Endrene,

      A woman never sweats; she scintillates.

      Those are not tears in her eyes; they are heaven's dew.

      I am totally defeated by "sai".... How do you put a positive spin on something like it?

      Cannot! I am snake-oil salesman. There must be a way...


      Woman is water; man is mud.

      Water cleanses; mud sullies.

      Oh stop talking already, let's get frisky tonight!

  5. Eh. ...if u realized hor...investment bloggers who want "passive" income, another source of income so they can throw in the letter and not see boss smelly face, wanna be lazy and retire early, wanna find ways to make it big and rich....Almost all tend to be MEN.

    Think only Uncle CW is exception. His reason is to support family. And he everyday work hard to come up w charts.

    Blogger Lady U can be Free has supporting her family as the main reason too.

    So, SMOL...u tell ppl to work hard and take some shit. Most ppl where got do that....

    And very weird hor...ur ex colleagues. They r from retail. And yet they r not able to sell themselves to whichever job they wanna go to. Then wanna cry father cry mother...

  6. Oh yar....u say i gotch no blog for u to "verify".

    I did a full monty also at AK71's blog some time ago. (Its not just U, k. :P) U can check out my comments.


  7. The reason is SMOL is sitting high up.

    Lesson: You don't need brains to be a Boss - any asshole will do.

    An organisation is like a tree full of monkeys, all on different limbs at different levels, some climbing up, some fooling around and some simply just idling... The monkeys on top look down and see a tree full of smiling faces...The monkeys on the bottom look up and see nothing but assholes...

    Lesson: Those at the bottom seem happy getting shits from the assholes.

    1. Why SMOL ask pple to take some shits?

  8. Wah seh...type so long. Still haven't really reply direct to ur blog post hor.

    Dream jobs and "doing what u really desire" r over rated. Does anybody truly know what they truly desire anyway?

    After working 10yrs, i also dunno what is my dream job. I just wanna do some job that i can see meaning. Not overly meaninful also coz i may not be able to take it. Must also balance with good pay. Not too much pay as well, else expectations v high...i don't wanna sell my life.

    Anything also can be opportunity depending on how u make of it. If u flip open the recruitment page and see the job openings.

    They need sales engineers. Technical know how + ability to talk.

    They need network/systems engineer. Preferable if they know programming language A to Z.

    They need IT security engineers who know network infrastructure and systems architecture AND able to conduct IT security review/audit and WRITE a report.

    They need market risk analysts who knows programming language A to Z and financial modelling.

    They need risk manager who knows process improvements, able to build in process controls AND programming language A to Z!

    ALL of the above requires at least 10 to 15 years experience in the exact SAME industry as the hiring company.

    For those with more experience somemore must be able to lead a team or manage a team of 3 to 5. Multi task. Work in stressful fast paced environment, etc.

    Where got ppl know so many things by being in the same industry and doing their one dream job (or cry father cry mother in their 1 job) their entire career wan...

    Think think a bit can conclude that there r not so many of these cross/multi disciplinary ppl around. Thats why there is a need for such ppl and so hv the vacancies. And these are the type of jobs which are NOT outsourced to Mumbai.

    And if anyone reading this long comment is a scardy cat who is afraid of retrenchment at the big 4-0. U look carefully....25 yrs old start work + 15 yrs old experience = 4-0!!!!!

    Now u re-look at my comment. ... know how not to get retrenched hor.

  9. 1. pf and CW,

    Hey! The gloves have finally came off!

    Hmm, why did it have to wait till a 2 men tag-team appears?

    Silly me! Stop looking at gift horses in the mouth.

    I'll respond to both of you in turn.

    By the way, I'll totally ignore the silly bits where words were put in my mouth or twisting of my words out of context - especially the "shit" innuendos ;)

    We are no longer in kindergarten; I deserve better. Give me something more intellectually stimulating to work with.

    And thankfully pf, you didn't disappoint.

  10. 2. CW,

    You are a honest man.

    You have shared openly how your career hit a glass ceiling after a medical condition. You didn't become bitter or cynical like so many others. You soldiered on in the same company despite this "setback".

    Instead of getting mad, you got even.

    You found your "equilibrium medicine" through a combination of trading short-term and investing for the long term after office hours (I hope).

    And it clear you have done very well for yourself!!! You made sure we knew about it.

    The humbling thing is you never gloss over your mistakes and failures.

    You have joked about how some of your short-term bets turned out to be long-term holdings...

    How some stocks you owned have gone to ZERO. Not even bone residues left...

    And about that time so close to the finishing line you fell asleep on the wheel; or rather, blinded by greed... The price? 4 years in the wilderness just to break-even
    Now that's a good cautionary tale. Who want's to set goals just to break-even?

    So its never about everything you touch has turned into gold. And that's very commendable!

    P.S. I think you are honourable enough to turn down the extra brownie points pf tried to fob on you.

    Any decent man who marries and have children will treat "supporting the family" as "default", goes without thinking, part and parcel of married life, etc.

    What has it to do with passive income and blogging?

  11. 3. pf,

    Your snipe at my ex-retail colleagues is not cool.

    From the way you are not shy to reveal more of your "context and perspective", you DO KNOW the Rules of Engagement, and something from the Chivalry Code.

    I'll treat it as a temporary lapse of judgement in the heat of the moment.

    Please direct your sticks and stones ONLY to me in future?

    You know what? I instinctively knew WHO to recruit if I am a land-owner looking for that super-duper multi-tasking shepherd person you were mentioning:


    If a woman can manage the weird and touchy relationship between her man and his other most important "woman" - mommy dearest - she got my vote! That would put balancing the needs of top management and staff a walk in the park.

    A woman knows something about making sure the homework is done on time, toys are put back into their containers after play, good hygiene habits like brushing teeth, we finish our vegetables, etc.

    Encourage their children to share their toys and foods with others. If got conflicts, we take about it. We share how we feel; we don't keep things bottled-up.

    Knows when it's better to outsource than to be mancho like her man who makes a bigger and more expensive mess by trying to fix the plumbing himself... And when it's better to do it in-house like making a home-cook meal or cake that future memories are gathered round.

    Woman knows how to make her man and children feel SPECIAL. She let others take the limelight Woman doesn't mind being in the background, in the shadows.

    All she ever want is her man and children to be healthy and happy.

    If they are, she will be too.

    And that's why we need more women in boardrooms, in top management, in IT departments, and in engineering ;)

  12. Hey, sorry if my comment offends. Didn't mean it that way.

    I do not know how to respond to your comment on women.

    1. pf,

      I practice One Minute Management. If there's anything I feel uncomfortable, I'll let you know immediately. And I did ;)

      It's a risk we take when commenting.here in the internet.

      Can't see the body language, facial expression, tone of voice, etc. It's easy to get misunderstood or offend ;)

      Like the Chinese say: no fight, no have your acquaintance.

      You didn't expect my "SMOL" style rebuttal didn't you?


  13. Yar. So far I'm the sharpest and bluntest person i know.

    Btw, i do not know how to respond to your comment on women is becoz my thoughts r coming in too many angles.

    Nvm lah. Just let it rest. :)


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