Monday, 20 June 2016

I got a 75% pay raise last year


Before I can share my observations on the retail scene live from the selling floor (thank you hyom hyom), I need to update my current weekend work situation to provide the proper context and perspective.

Some readers may remember during November last year, I did a 2 weeks radio silence act?

Well, I moved to a new weekend gig, that's why.

I've been in general merchandise and home furnishings retailing; but I've never worked with electrical and home appliance retailing before.

2 weeks of focused and intensive on-line learning on my new product category and I picked it up readily.

Hey! Selling is selling!

Product different; people the same.

I am now a weekend promoter for a foreign brand of home appliance maker, and they stationed me at one of those big electrical and home appliance retailer at some super ulu location.

How ulu? Well, I passed by an army camp on my way to work. That's how ulu... LOL!

Previously, I was working for Howard Storage World at Plaza Singapura. If you were served by a super handsome bald uncle, that's me!

There were some funny moments when some readers recognised me!

Now to the real reason you're here - my 75% pay raise. 

My click-bait of a post heading is a poke to those who love to count in percentages.

After 1.5 years of "sabbatical from work", I needed to work weekends to rest my "mind and soul".

After looking around, I found Howard Storage World's employees were mostly around my young-at-heart age group - so I applied!

Never mind the near minimum wage hourly rate they were paying.

No way I'm working with young kids and have them call me "uncle" this, "uncle" that! 

Instead of seeing how "low" I'm paid, I was bemused I was getting paid to "rest".

(I was sipping coffee at Ya Kun at Harbour Front and there's a life-sized photo cut-out of one of the shop managers smiling and asking applicants to join them - that Howard Storage Store is now closed and replaced by Mothercare. Yes, this info is relevant to my next post)

If so good why I left?


If you look at my checkered work history at "My Story", I am what you call a "rolling stone".

I've never stayed in a single job position more than 4 years.

Yup, if you are applying for a job and I am the one doing the interview, working at the same job position for more than 5 years is a negative to me. Bite me. Just blame your bad luck for meeting me!

I do get bored easy. I like trying different things.

Hence every other week for the past 2 years, when free, I would just surf one of the more popular job recruitment website. Look see, look see, to get a feel of what's happening out there for non-graduate positions.

Quite interesting. Sometimes you'll see the same company keep on advertising for staff month after month. Its an easy tell either that company is miserly paying below the market rate, or the company's working environment is nasty. 

If that's a listed company... Shameful right? I don't think of money every waking hour, but I do keep myself abreast of investment opportunities all the time :(

Then there are some employers that are proudly advertising they are paying above market rate. Some turned out to be "fake" and you'll see the online community give them flak. Some are genuine as they are willing to pay for performance - which means stress for those who can't hit their KPIs, if you joined. Got free lunch meh?

Well, I was intrigued to find one such company who was willing to pay above market rate for a mature and experienced retail sales.

Even though I have zero sales experience with home appliances, and I don't cook (instant mee cooking don't count), I was hired last November. Wow! It's 6 months into my new weekend gig already!

The take-outs

What works for me is planned job obsolescence on my part - how's that for marketing bullshit for job hopping? (See? Having a wider vocabulary helps)

A moving target is harder to hit. No way I'm staying still and make myself an easy target - 10 years experience but its the same 1st year job experience times 10. Ouch!

You improve the chances of Lady Luck finding you by making it easier for her. I was surfing the job recruitment website for 2 years... How would my luck odds improve if I had just "work hard" at Howard Storage World?

I focus on what I can control and influence. What's happening in the economy and globally I can't control. If everything in our lives is out of our control, tell me - what's your definition of slavery?

Earn more is my way to achieve escape velocity. Of course I got save more. But if I had relied just on save more... By the way, why are you investing or trading? That's not save more, is it? Gotcha!

We are who we are. Even though I don't need the extra weekend pay increase, its already my career modus operandi. It's in my blood. That's the reason why you find billionaires acting miserly - before they got rich, they were miserly. Duh.

So don't read too much into all these talks about needs or wants. If you are born a spendthrift, you are a spendthrift. If you are born frugal, you will be frugal. Your net worth got nothing to do with anything.  

If you believe you can change, all the power to you! Just don't mention reversion to mean in your investment thesis. Wink.



  1. Quote: "So don't read too much into all these talks about needs or wants. If you are born a spendthrift, you are a spendthrift. If you are born frugal, you will be frugal. Your net worth got nothing to do with anything."

    The story of tips by Bill Gates and his daughter.

    1. CW,

      I'm not sure that story of Bill Gates and his daughter is true or not for Bill Gates' father is definitely not a woodcutter ;)

      But that's the internet. People just mindlessly forward such unverified stories in social media ;)

      The boss of the company I've stayed the longest is one of the richest man on Earth, but know one knows for sure how much he is worth - his company is not listed.

      Smart man. No need to share the profits with free loaders ;)

      He was born dirt poor. Now even with his current immense wealth, he is still one of the stingiest person I've met.

      Nope, our CURRENT net worth don't matter as much.

      The net worth of our parents may have an INFLUENCE; but upbringing matters more.

      I believe it has a bigger impact whether we grow up with a Mentality of Lack or a Mentality of Abundance.

      I better stop. Wait I sound more like a motivational speaker or those prosperity preachers...


  2. Ha. So, is it true that a 100% gain needs only a 50% drop to be back to square one? And a 50% drop requires a 100% gain to break even. Omg. Why do people even invest?

    1. Kevin,


      When I am paid near minimum wage, a little bit of increase in dollar terms will be magnified in percentages to 75%!

      A bit like investing $1000 and making $400 one year - go every where telling people you beat Temasek and Warren Buffett when it comes to CARG or XIRR!?

      Why do we invest?

      Greed and Fear?

      For some, it's my mother told me to. She heard from that neighbour 2 floors down if we don't invest, we can't retire in Singapore and must work until forever!

      And for the even lesser few, because they enjoy the process? Now how weird is that? No objectives, no targets, no goals???

    2. Thank you very much for the article. You even prepared an "appetizer" before delivering the main course. Looking forward to the main course!

      Talking about the investing process. I really don't set targets. Like you said, "What's happening in the economy and globally I can't control". Same here. If the economy is bad, how to achieve a high performance target when there are few opportunities? Setting a high target when there are few opportunities will pressure one into taking excessive risks. Psychology is also not right for trading/investing.

      I think you are a good salesman. Wonder if you have faced such a situation. Salesman cannot control the product quality of the stuff that they are tasked to sell. If a salesman is paid highly to sell rubbish, how har? Should a person pick sales jobs only when the products are of top quality? But good quality products that are of top quality usually sell by themselves and don't need salesmen. Such products command low commission. How har?

      I am not a salesman and don't think I will make a good one because I have a tendency to talk about weaknesses before strengths.

    3. hyom hyom,

      Its a welcomed opportunity for me to update on my current situation - not that anyone is interested.

      I always like to lay down the context so readers can get a proper perspective.

      Just like in "My Story", I made it clear my days of leisure were not due to investing or trading prowess.

      That should filter out the "Got tips?" readers :)

      1. Not think; I am a good salesman. LOL! I take pride in my craft; and I'm shameless!

      2. Of course as a salesman I must pick the right company to join and product to sell! My name is my personal branding.

      If I sell "rubbish", that's a one time deal. Singapore not very big. How to hide?

      Salespersons who worked for those gold trading scams can't say they were just employees and victims too, can they?

      Same for insurance salespersons who sold ILPs. How to look at yourself in the mirror?

      3. What you say is not entirely true. Look at Prada and LV; Mercedes and BMW; Apple and Rolex - great products but we still need salespersons :)

      4. What you are thinking is probably the PUSH and PULL marketing strategies.

      PULL is using PR, advertising, social media, etc; to create an interest in us consumers so we will ask for the product, enter the store, pick it up from the shelves.

      PUSH is using door-to-door, stopping you in the streets, in-store promotions, promoters like me to help bring the product/service to your attention.

      Both have their pros and cons. Just like Ying and Yang; can't say which is superior.

      P.S. We are all salespersons.

      How you convinced your wife to say "Yes"?


    4. Hi Jared,

      I am pretty sure I am a lousier salesman compared to you but I have no problems getting my wife to say yes despite that. No need to be a salesman for finding wife. I just be myself everytime we are together. Women who dislike me for what I am will naturally avoid me. This will save me lots of money in buying them free movie tickets and free meal treats. Women who can stand my faults and still remain by my side after a long time should not say no when the time comes. I think this be-yourself technique should work for most people. Trying to be a salesmen with girls will attract the wrong girls because they may like the guy for what he is not. This is going to be very expensive for Singaporean men (particularly "salesmen") thanks to Women's Charter.

    5. hyom hyom,

      Ah! You the soft sell kind!

      Its the 江太公 technique: Willing buyer; willing seller ;)

  3. "And for the even lesser few, because they enjoy the process? Now how weird is that? No objectives, no targets, no goals???"

    Hi SMOL,
    i don't know whether you are saying me or not?
    My ears are a bit itchy leh.
    But i do track my assets and cash flow and operate my wealth machines (WM borrow from Investment Moat,s posting)

    1. temperament,

      Does it matter?

      You grasshopper; I grasshopper. LOL!

      Your ears itch? Use mopiko!

      By the way, I don't quite like the choice of words as in "Wealth Machines".

      Not elegant and soulless. Blah. It doesn't move the human spirit!

      I much prefer "craftsmanship".

      It puts our human endeavours in the foreground; no way will I submit myself to cold, lifeless tools.

      I much prefer to be a humanistic grasshopper than be a mechanical grasshopper ;)

    2. Smol,

      Ha! Ha!
      Humanistic and "craftmanship" may be suitable for grasshoppers.
      Wealth Machines is for the majority.
      Besides the whole picture of WM tells you more then a thousand words.
      Sound very nice and "cheem" leh!
      Still you are right, the WM's picture only point you the "directions"
      You still have to find and practise your "craftmanship".

      Ha! Ha!
      Grasshopper laughing at grasshopper.

    3. temperament,

      Those who practice healthy living watch what they put into their bodies.

      I am very discerning in letting the right thoughts enter my mind.

      "Machines" give the connotation of "passive". We can relax; let the machines do the work for us.

      At my age, I can't afford to be complacent.

      I have no desire to fall asleep on the wheel a second time.

      I don't laugh AT ants; what more to fellow grasshoppers?

      I only laugh WITH excellent sounding boards!

      My pokes and brand of satire is never about ridicule; its more in the nature of, "I think there's something between your teeth."


    4. temperament,

      I just had a funny mental image of us.

      Grasshoppers are not exactly the sharpest insects. Imagine we get our own machines because other insects have one.

      First thing we do is look at each other and say,

      "Eh, you know how to on this machine?"

  4. Hi SMOL

    I need to spot you one of these days and say to people, hey i know that guy!!! :)

    1. B,

      Remember not to make a scene!

      One of my colleagues at Howard Storage World video taped my appearance on TV and WhatsApp to everyone... That was awkward...

      One regular retiree customer (there are a few churches near Plaza Sing) even walked up and told me he saw me on TV! We had a good laugh :)

      Well, I'm no longer working at Orchard Road. So try catching me in suburbia!

  5. Hi Jared,

    Your post reminds me of my part time sales days when I also tried selling slimming pills! Haha. It's fun because selling and meeting new people is in our blood.

    Glad to see you doing your 'ideal' job! :)

    1. Jes,

      The best part is when meeting confident and sassy lady customers, can do a bit of naughty flirting ;)

  6. SMOL,

    I believe that you would have clocked at least two years at your second part-time job. Any plan for the third one?


    1. Ben,

      Yup, coming to 2 years 2 months now...

      No plans to change for now.

      This current one quite interesting and fun. I'll stay for a while as I'm doing well.

      How I know?

      I pissing off a few fulltime promoters who can't stand the sight of me beating them and making them look bad...


      There's a plan B. I don't mind being a weekend tour guide or trail marshal at the bird park or singapore zoo.

      No aircon, but I guess it would be fun to keep our tourists entertained and safe?

      And I'll get some sun and exercise too!


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