TimothyTiah.com

How I’m earning less, spending less but at the happiest point of my life

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When I left Netccentric last year, Shorty and I had a discussion in planning our finances in the coming years. I was going to be leaving a position that gave me a good income. The new venture we were going to start was unlikely to be able to replace that income entirely at least for the first few years. So we decided that we had to prioritize (in what we both refer to as our “austerity drive”). We won’t take a cut in lifestyle for the things that we really valued like the kids education, having helpers and a driver and a nice van to send the kids around in.

But we will take a cut in the non-essential things.

  1. We decided that we’ve been for enough overseas holidays in US, Europe or Japan and we could replace those with holidays in Phuket or Bali instead.
  2. We cut down on eating out and ate more at home. When we did go out to eat (for our lunches) we went for hawker food or used discount vouchers from Entertainer or the Maxis app or stuff like that.
  3. We shopped less. A lot less. Shorty used to go out often to buy things she liked but she read this article about how to turn her wardrobe into a minimal set of pieces that could be used to create a wide variety and combination of outfits. I on the other hand used to shop a lot but I’ve cut down everything. We no longer buy anything designer unless it’s with a discount and most of my clothes now are from Topman, Uniqlo and the likes. Not H&M because H&M stuff really don’t last long to me.
  4. We focus our spending instead on experiences or things that could really help us capture our experiences like the drone I bought.
  5. Triggered by our moving into a new place we’re renovating, we decided to pack up and sell a lot of our old stuff. So we’ve been selling stuff we no longer need on Carousell or things like that. Wow the amount of money we raised from all these things that would have otherwise been thrown away surprised us.

It’s been almost 6 months since we’ve made these cuts and here’s what I feel about life right now.

  1. I don’t seem to have anymore interest in designer things or nice watches or even nice cars unless I can get any one of those for a really really good deal. I’m a sucker for deals that way.
  2. I finally know what really makes me happy. Spending time with the kids, badminton on my weeknights, meeting people and working on my new venture. That’s it. Life suddenly feel a lot less complicated. It’s like I used to have to find a stimulus somewhere whenever I was restless. I felt the need to go for a holiday, or to buy something or to just do something. I no longer feel that and it’s liberating. When I have nothing to do, I just enjoy the moment of doing nothing rather than pressure myself to do something.
  3. When I see my friends go for luxurious holidays or buy expensive cars or watches I’ve learned to admire them rather than the tinge of envy I used to feel.
  4. When good things happen to my friends I genuinely feel very very very happy for them. When bad things happen to them I feel angry for them too.
  5. I talked about how meeting new people was one of the things that made me happy earlier. Because of my new venture I’ve been meeting a lot of new people lately and that has brought me so much fulfillment.
I’ve also been reading a lot of self-improvement books and I’ve learned so much about myself. So many things wrong with me in the past and so many mistakes I’ve made. I’ve embraced these changes and even my wife now says I’m a very very different person now.

I used to:

i) Be hot tempered – Now I’ve learned to really temper it all down. I haven’t lost my temper once in the past 6 months.

ii) A chronic worrier – I used to worry about everything and overthink things – Now I’ve learned to compartmentalize my worries and make my thoughts “day-tight”. I only worry about what I’m doing on a day to day basis. I still plan for the future, but I make it a point to only worry about things on the date itself.
iii) Take a lot of things personally and be very emotional about them – I’ve learned the secret of not being like that. I now take nothing personally except myself. I hold no grudges.
iv) I used to be harsh sometimes in the things I say when talking to people – I’ve learned to communicate much better with people. To never criticize and to always listen to people entirely before saying anything.
As a result of all the above things, I feel like my life has changed. The quality of my life has improved very significantly. It’s strange but even though I’m earning and spending less than before, I am the happiest I have ever been in my life now.
One of the books I read had a quote “Happiness is a state of mind”. I’m proud now to say that happiness is a state of mine.

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Here’s why I’ve been sparse on social media…

My social media updates have slowed to an embarrassing lull lately. Wait wait I have an explanation (well okay an excuse). The new venture that I’ve been working on starting is gearing up to launch and I’ve been getting really busy.

In the past month I’ve set things in motion for the first product to be built and I’ve started hiring a team. I’m blessed to be able to find two leaders that in my opinion are among the best in their industry.

I find myself doing a lot of things that I haven’t done in 10 years which really reminds me of how things were when we started Nuffnang. I’m doing everything from making the big decisions that tie the company down to million dollar commitments to admin and HR. Heck I realize how much I took for granted back at Netccentric, having a PA, a HR or whoever there was in charge of doing whatever I needed to do.

Don’t get me wrong. I raised a very significant amount of money from some of the most prominent investors and families in Asia so I can afford to hire a big team but I decided that’s not the path I wanted to go down.

I’m blessed. When I left Netccentric, I’ve had investors calling me up and asking me what I was doing next. Some went as far as to say “I don’t care what you’re doing, whatever it is… I want in”.

But with raising money comes expectations so that’s why I shared with my lead investors that I’m not playing a corporate finance game. Success to me won’t be measured by how much money I raise or at what valuation but how profitable a business I build in the medium to long term. Raising money to fuel growth sometimes creates bad habits. We become less discipline about the money we spend and whether we are truly maximising the capital we have.

I am determined not to make the same mistake. So this time I’m negotiating everything down from the big items to the small items. Just last week I was negotiating with a name card printer to give me a discount on the name cards from RM32 per box to RM30 per box (they’re pretty nice name cards so they cost a lot more than the usual).

So I’m really excited about what I’m doing and I feel the pressure mounting but I love it. I miss this feeling really. However I know what I will miss is the time I have been able to spent with my family in the past few months.

I’m now on a family trip to Bali, which is almost like a quick getaway before a really busy period. As I was walking with Fighter in my arms earlier I told him “Fighter I really love you. Daddy is going to have to spend more time at work in the next few months so I will see you a bit less., But I love you all the same and more okay?”.

The other exciting part for me is that in this venture, Shorty is going to be working with me. I’ve always wanted to work with her. Not only do I think she’s the most beautiful and funniest woman I’ve ever met, I think she’s really really smart too and I’m excited about working with her.

So the reason why I’ve been sparse on my social media updates is not because I’ve forgotten about you guys. I don’t and I really appreciate you guys always checking my updates. The reason is because if there’s one thing I really am finding short of now, it’s time and social media apps are designed to eat up time (I still do play my War Robot game though which is a great end to a busy day for me).

I will continue to blog. Perhaps less often but updates will be here so if you want to see my updates without having to check back my blog all the time please subscribe below.

I’ll also still be updating Dayre and all… just in the same sparse manner I’ve apologetically been doing so in the past month.

Let me end though with this picture of Shorty and me… at the site of our new venture.

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We know it’s not going to be easy and will possibly take a lot of time before we find success but we’re in for the long haul. Together.

Giveaway: VIP tickets to One-man Star Wars Trilogy

Hello Everyone!

Been a while since I’ve done a giveaway so here’s one courtesy of Milestone Productions.

I’m going to cut and paste the press release here that really describes well what this show is about.

KUALA LUMPUR, 29 MARCH 2017 — This April, international show promoter, event and entertainment specialist Milestone Production will bring you on a ride of a lifetime into a galaxy far, far away. Organised to support United Nation’s International Day of Families, Milestone Production is bringing the critically acclaimed Broadway comedy parody “One Man Star Wars Trilogy” to Kuala Lumpur and Penang. The epic journey across the galaxy will be told through one man’s frenetic talents and energy at HGH Convention Centre Kuala Lumpur on 21 April 2017 and The Wembley’s Grand Ballroom @ St. Giles in Penang on 22 April 2017.

Avid fans (both young & old) will get to relive the epic moments of the first original trilogy series (A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi) told through one man’s performing talents. Even if you are not a Star Wars fan, you will be mesmerized by Canadian actor Charles Ross’ talent where he singlehandedly plays all the 40 characters. “Ross makes an impressive Star Wars run in less than 12 parsecs!” quoted Chicago Sun Times and he will wow the audience by singing the music, flying the ships, fighting the light saber battles and condense the Star Wars trilogy plots into just over 75 minutes of live entertainment. Let Ross ; one of the craziest Star Wars fan who have watched all of the series for the 400th time takes you on an epic space journey from mimicking Chewbacca and Jabba The Hutt right down to the battle of Darth Vader versus Luke Skywalker to blowing up the Death Star and the revelation of Darth Vader’s true identity.

One Man Star Wars Trilogy has been performed across the globe for the past 16 years. In fact, Ross has even met George Lucas and received endorsement from the Star Wars creator himself for his production. If Lucas Films itself has given its support to Ross’ endeavours, you can be sure it is worth your time.

It is finally the time for fellow Jedis and Padawans to go onboard the Millennium Falcon and let Ross take you on a journey to a galaxy far, far away. Proudly presented by Milestone Production, tickets for One Man Star Wars Trilogy are now open for sale. Tickets for One Man Star Wars trilogy are priced from RM80 onwards with multiple categories available. Ticket prices are not inclusive of 6% GST and RM4 ticketing fee. For more information please log on to www.milestone-entertainment.com or www.ticketpro.com.my directly to purchase your tickets. 

I have 3 pairs VIP tickets (each ticket is worth RM213.90 each) to give away. If you’d like them please send me an email at lengmoublogs@yahoo.com.

No contest no nothing; Just a gift for you guys for following my blog, and for a little support to our arts and theatre scene here in Malaysia. Thank you Milestone Productions for bringing in all these acts.

Update: WOW! Lots of demand for this. Sorry guys all tickets have now been given out.

What I learned about the carpet manufacturing industry

This week my friend invited me over to his factory in Ipoh to learn about a whole new business. The business of carpet manufacturing.

This factory I went to has been there for like 40 years or so passed down from his father to him. In a few months time he’ll be moving into a new factory with really nice facilities but I’m glad I managed to visit this one before he moved.

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To see where the business was conducted out of for the past 40 years or so.

This is the raw product that he receives from suppliers. Wool.

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He then has people that takes this wool and then turn it into ball yarns like this.

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Once that’s done it’s all stored.

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All with different colours to cater to different designs.

Now comes the hard part.

A projector is used to guide the skilled worker to design the carpet.

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Each different colour in the heat map above is marked by a different number to indicate a different colour that goes with the design.

Once the initial part is done it’s hung up on the wall like that.

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The workers then use these gun-like equipment to shoot through the yarn to form the patterns of the carpet.

Until it becomes something like this.

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My friend’s company supplies carpets to palaces, hotels, homes or offices all around the country. I always thought that most of these carpets just come off some kind of conveyor belt in a factory but actually they’re all hand-made (with the help of some equipment). It takes a lot of work and about 3 months to train a worker on how to do the job before he or she can actually do it.

This is close to the end product of the carpet..

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The worker in the blue shirt is using some kind of shaver to create the different gradients that we see in a carpet. Looks like a pretty stressful job to me since a mistake or so could really mess up the entire piece that went through the previous process.

The carpet industry in Malaysia is a challenging one though. The challenges faced are competition from the cheap supplies of China to competition from wood floors or vinyl floors that are easier to maintain and repair.

Carpets though have its strengths. It makes a bedroom feel a lot more cosy and it helps to absorb noise of say high heels walking in a public place.

With all the challenges in the business though there must be some reason (apart from money) that motivates my friend to work. So I asked him what is the thing that satisfies him the most about this business and he said that the carpet is normally the last thing that is put into a room after renovation. Once you put in what seems like the last piece of the puzzle, the room looks very very different than what it looked like before… and complete.

Before we left Ipoh, my friend brought me to the site of his new factory.

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A much bigger and nicer place where his carpets of the future will be made.

When your son makes your Dad Happy

My Dad doesn’t generally like to appear on my social media platforms but I just couldn’t resist this picture of him and Fighter. In this picture, he’s showing Fighter some video of some animals playing some musical instruments and Fighter seems really happy about it.

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I quickly whipped out my photo and took this picture to capture the moment. It’s at this moment I thought about my childhood days, when my Dad took care of me and did all these things with me. I’ve seen many things that made my Dad happy in life. The times when he bought a new car, or when his friends praise him or many other things. But the one thing that consistently makes him happy is his kids and now his grandkids.

This happiness spills down to me too. Many things make me happy in life, but nothing makes me happier than time with my kids. Ten years ago I couldn’t imagine how my kids would look like or be like. Now I can’t imagine my life without them.

What I hope to change in myself in 2017

This post is in collaboration with Pharmaton

I’m supporting the new Pharmaton campaign that is looking for people to share what they achieved in 2016 and their 2017 resolution. . ‘Pharmaton®  Reward Your Achievement” Contest is organised by Pharmaton® with multivitamin and minerals + Ginseng extract. They’ll reward 15 people with prizes of up to RM50,000 worth to help them with their 2017 resolution.

When composing this article, the hardest part for me was thinking about what I achieved in 2016. Sure there were the small wins here and there but I don’t think people generally like to hear a “success” brag (no matter how humble) from me. So I decided to dig deeper. What did I really achieve that is not in material nature… I think completing a 160KM cycling ride would qualify for that but I did that in 2015, not 2016.

Then it hit me what I did last year that mattered the most to me.

After leaving Netccentric in November I spent the last two months of the year with a lot more time on my hands than I was used to. I spent that time with family, I spent that time working out and I threw away quite a significant amount of that time on War Robots. Fortunately though I did spend some of that time on something else… personal development. I read a wide number of books ranging from the Dale Carnegie classic How to Win Friends and Influence People to Elon Musk’s biography.

I also watched a lot of Ted Talks and YouTube videos or different speakers that really talked about self-development. My conclusion at the end of these two months was that I am doing so many things wrong in life. Here’s what I learned and what I’ve resolved to change starting from the first month of 2017. Note that the below are sins that I have been committing all my life.

  1. Never Criticize 

Very little good ever comes from criticism. When we criticize somebody, we automatically put that somebody in a defensive position. That person then in order to protect his/her self esteem or ego would immediately be thinking of a rebuttal to your criticism as opposed to truly considering if your criticism is really warranted.

The end result is that criticism hurts people and while it may occasionally work in drumming in the point you’re trying to make, that benefit is often offset by the resentment that you create.

The first thing I thought about when learning this was “What? Does this mean I can never tell any of my colleagues off for something they did wrong?”.

I learned then it’s a matter of language.

So here’s how the average boss might have told off an employee: “Do you realize that the mistake you made in the purchasing order cost us an additional RM10,000. I already told you to always double check these things before sending it out. Why did you still make this mistake? I don’t care how you settle this but just do it!”.

Here’s how it could be better communicated. Assume that the person’s name is Daisy.

“Daisy I know you work really hard for this company. Your commitment is second to none. This mistake though is really unfortunate. It ended up costing us RM10,000. I’m sure you didn’t mean to make it and I’m confident you’ll learn from your mistake and never make it again but now that it’s done, how do you suggest we rectify it? Do you think you’ll be able to resolve this on your own?”.

Notice how if you absolutely have to criticize, start off first with a praise, then slowly go into it. Never go flat out criticism. This works not just on the basis of work but also at home. When we speak to our brothers and sisters, our parents and our wives or husbands or even friends.

2. Listen. Like REALLY Listen

Many of us aren’t really good at listening. Next time you’re having a conversation with someone, pay attention to whether you’re really listening or whether you’re “listening to respond”.  Most of us listen while our mind processes what we could say next in response to what he just said. Sometimes in our hurry to respond we don’t let the person finish before we give our response.

Really listening means really doing nothing but having direct eye contact with that person and listening to every word that person says until he stops and waits for you to respond. If he doesn’t stop… then you just have more to listen to.

This is important because listening helps you learn things. Helps you understand more about a person but most importantly, listening helps that other person feel important. Making someone feel important makes it more likely that the person would feel more positively towards you.

3. Have a Life Constitution

When we ask ourselves the question of what we want in life, we normally get a really short answer. “To be a billionaire” or “To be happy” or “to be a star”. The thing about these answers is that they tend to be one dimensional. “To be a billionaire” however focuses our life goals at being rich, but then what about family? or personal happiness?

We end up neglecting all that in our pursuit to “be a billionaire” and at the end of it could end up a little depressed. To make things worse life is full of surprises. Good ones and bad ones too. So sometimes life hits, like you fall sick and then you run into disarray. Or you have issues at work and you neglect family and personal happiness.

What I learned from the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is to have a clear mission statement or constitution in mind on what and who we want to be. Describe your life 10 years from now, what do you want in terms of business, family and personal.

Then describe what kind of person or values do we want? Maybe you want to be empathetic, someone who doesn’t judge until you hear both sides of the story or someone who finds happiness in the smallest things. This constitution just like the constitution of a country becomes the base in which we live our life.

The base in which we decide what decisions to make when life throws all sorts of crisis at us. I talked to my dear wife Shorty about this and she agreed that was something she needed. A direction and a purpose for everything we do in life. Hence what we’ve decided is to take some time away together. Go to a nearby beach resort in Phuket or something and then just spend a few days without distraction working out our constitution.

Maybe if I’m lucky I might win something like that from Pharmaton but if not… I think it’s something we have to be able to do. So you see towards the end of last year I feel that through books and personal development I have achieved self-awareness of who I am.

My strengths and my weaknesses. 2017 is going to be about fighting my nature to do better in these things. To not criticize people, to listen… and there are a lot more things that I need to do to improve. Share your 2016 achievement and your 2017 resolution here (www.pharmaton.com.my) and maybe Pharmaton might help you keep that resolution.

Hurry and Join as this promo will run until 31 March 2017

Oh and don’t forget to pick up some of these to help you to achieve your resolution.

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How to train for a marathon like a boss

If you asked me a year ago if I would be training for a marathon I would be like “NO FUGGIN WAY!”.

So why am I doing it now?

Because of these guys.

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My EO Forum mates. They all decided they wanted to check something off the bucket list this year which includes a half marathon in a month’s time and a full marathon by the end of the year. That’s crazy because that takes training and while I enjoy cycling training… running is super boring to me.

Still… out of not letting my friends down I decided to do it.

So just yesterday we invited another friend named Keat (on the left in the picture above) to share some tips with us on how to prepare for a marathon. Keat is a season Iron Man, Marathoner and Century Rider. He has done everything.

He gave us a lot of tips but here’s what I’m going to list down.

  1. Have a running schedule

He came up with this running schedule for us. That is how many KM to run each week which include some weeks of less running for recovery.

 

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The first thing I noticed about this schedule was “Wait.. when do we actually go for a practice run of 42KM ?”.

The answer though is never. Keat said that marathon runners don’t run 42 KM on their training rounds because it just takes too much out of the body. The most we ever run is 32KM and that’s like a couple of weeks before race day.

This was a paradigm shift for me because I thought running and endurance was all about doing more and more distance each time. What I learned though is that when it comes to training, it’s not about distance, it’s about consistency.

2. Vaseline up your nipples and your thighs. 

It’s called chafing. Because apparently the friction you get on your nipples from running for hours causes your nipples to bleed. That’s pretty scary.

3. Stretches after a run are very important to prevent injury.

I do some stretching before a workout but I never really used to do a post run one because after a run I just feel like sitting down and chilling. That’s wrong. There are a lot of basic stretches we can find on YouTube and that’s something we gotta do to prevent injury.

4. Drink before you’re thirsty. Eat before you’re hungry.

On a long run we normally need to bring our calories with us that come in the form of gel, energy bars or fruit. Always eat or drink before we actually get hungry because by the time we do it’s too late. Keat also recommended recovery drinks like Endurox so I went out to buy some today.

5. How to trick the mind and fight the mental war

42KM is a long way to run and sometimes our mind gives up before our body does. Keat said what he did was to break down the whole route into 10KM and then 5KM and then 2KM segments so that it’s mentally easier to keep it up.

He also said that if we’re not running to get the best possible time and just want to complete then don’t be afraid to walk.

6. Don’t save on a good pair of running shoes

I learned this the hard way actually. I went for a 10KM fun run and ended up hurting the sole of my feet. So I searched online for the best running shoes in the world and bought any pair that I could find in Malaysia.

And that’s my key takeaways from the session.

Used stuff that sell online and stuff that don’t

“FATS! Please throw out all your old stuff or sell them before I do it for you”.

That was when I realized my wife was serious about her spring cleaning warpath. So I went online to start selling stuff.

I’ve sold stuff on many different sites like Mudah but this time I decided to try Carousell. I proudly put together a collection of things that I thought would sell and even threw in some stuff that I thought won’t sell.

Here are the things I put up for sale. Try to guess to see if it would sell or not and I’ll give you the answer below.

  1. A pair of authentic G-Star jeans – RM100

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I went through a phase where I loved designer jeans years ago. So I bought a number of jeans like this. When I put them on again I was like woah fug… they were all baggy and stuff which probably was more acceptable then but not in 2016 or 2017. Maybe the trend of baggy jeans will come back again in a few years but not for now.

I thought nobody would wanna buy it so I was going to sell it for RM25. Then Shorty stopped me and said “What? At least RM100. Trust me. I know fashion”.

So guess if I had any buyers for this pair of jeans at RM100.

The answer is….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No.

In fact I had no interest so I dropped it to RM80 and then to RM50. And still no interest.

2) My old Crumpler laptop bag – RM 20

 

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Shorty was initially offended when I decided to put this up for sale. She said the bottom part was all torn… who would want to buy such a thing?

Well I believed that everything has a price. And it was a good functional bag. So I posted it up along with clear pictures of the torn part at the bottom.

Guess if I managed to sell it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOLD! For RM20!

3) Mont Blanc Watch Winder – RM90

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I actually won this when I won the Prestige 40 under 40 a few years ago but I’ve never really used it. I didn’t want to throw it away because it was still brand new and it’s a really nice thing. Just not something I use. So I decided to put it up for sale for RM90.

The big question though was who would want to buy such a thing? Are people who would buy a watch winder shopping online for second hand stuff like this?

So did I sell it….?

SOLD! FOR RM90. One guy came about and said that he was buying it for his Dad’s birthday.

4) Authentic pair of True Religion Jeans – RM80

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At one point I loved True Religion jeans. So this is the same story as the G-Star one above.

So did I sell it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nope. Not a peep. Crickets.

5) My old Adidas running shoes – RM40

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These shoes are quite a number of years old. I’ve been running in them for a while and my feet hurt from them when I started to do longer distances. So I ended up buying a new pair of shoes (Nike). I had no use for these shoes and they were taking up room in my shoe cabinet so okay… I put it for sale for RM40. And the answer is….

SOLD!!

6) My Scott Addict 10 Road Bike – RM 5,500

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Love this bike when I used to cycle. It has taken me for rides over thousands of KMs in its lifetime. It’s also heavily modded. The bike alone costs RM10K but I think all the add ons probably bring it to like RM15K or so in total. I put it on sale for RM5,500. That’s 66% lower than what I probably paid for it and…..

 

 

 

 

 

NOT SOLD!!! Not a single offer.

 

7) My Sony PlayStation 3

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Since I don’t play console games anymore I thought I put this up for sale for RM650. The answer….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOT SOLD!!!

8) Bunch of old cycling jerseys – RM50

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Okay… I don’t know who would buy cycling jerseys that I had worn and soaked with sweat over a number of rides. But these cycling jerseys were taking up a lot of space.

So I put them all up and decided to test the market.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOLD!! In fact I offered the guy more jerseys and some cycling shorts (I thought hey who would buy my shorts since you know… people go commando in cycling shorts). But he took it. For RM80 he bought almost every cycling jersey and shorts I owned.

He told me that he took it then and sold it to his bicycle group of friends for a profit. So probably a good deal for him.

Okay so of the 8 of the above.. how many did you guys get right?

How marriage surprised me

Coming back from Singapore by car last weekend, Shorty was suffering from a very quickly escalating condition of UTI (urinary tract infection). The symptoms was pain, which she was feeling and her constant need to go to the bathroom. Which made us thankful that Malaysian highways had so many rest stops.

When we got to KL we immediately went to see a doctor. The doctor told her to pee in a cup. When she held up the cup for me to see, I had a shock of my life. Her pee was the colour of Ribena.

The doctor confirming that it was UTI offered her an injection to cure the symptoms. He felt that she would hesitate an injection like any normal person but little did he know, Shorty wasn’t normal. You see, Shorty has a phobia for taking oral medication and given a choice she would rather take an injection any day. Heck if Panadol came in the form of an injection she would stop up a rack of them at home just for herself.

As we stood outside the clinic waiting for our Uber that rainy day, Shorty looked at me and said “Thank you” (for taking me to the doctor).

I said “What are you thanking me for? It is my duty. Through sickness and in health right?”.

It was then that I was reminded about what many marriages have… what Shorty and I have. Before you find the one to settle down and get married, relationships were all about discovery, about fun and sometimes about the petty little fights that help us know each other better. After a long relationship though there’s always that fear about taking that next step. Is the one I’m going to marry the right one? What is it like to be with one person for the rest of your life?

The latter question is the one most guys go through and here I am, married for almost 5 years now and I’m actually really happy that I am. I don’t see marriage as me being with one woman for the rest of my life. It’s like over the past 5 years, my wife has become a real part of me. Conjoined to me like my personality is, my soul and my heart. If she’s happy I’m happy. If she’s sad I’m sad. If she’s sick I feel sick too. What marriage gives us isn’t really variety, nor discovery nor many of the other things we had when we were just dating. It gives me much more than that.

It gives me a sense of partnership that have a commitment to be together through thick and thin. That through our kids we have a common goal in wanting to raise them well and give them the best. That life is not just about me anymore. It’s about us. It’s about family.

Watching the rain fall that day outside the clinic with my wife standing next to me I thought to myself that it’s been almost 5 years of marriage now. I hope the next 30 years are just as good.

How telling the truth about social media moms resulted in 800,000 views in a day

As we sat down at the Starbucks of a suburban mall in Subang, Pierre said to me

“Tim. We have a new product for Mamee coming out. It’s called Mamee Monster Biskidz and because the Mamee Monster brand goes a long way back for the company, we need to make sure I put together a campaign that works. But because it’s a new product, I don’t have a big marketing budget… so I need it to go viral on social media. And you’re the only person I know in Malaysia who consistently virals stuff so please help me.”

The target market was moms. They created a product that has the thin crispiness of a potato chip, but it was actually a biscuit. So it was a healthier snack alternative to chips. It was available in slim packaging so it’s easy to carry around to act as an emergency snack when moms are travelling with their kids and their kids get hungry.

The good news was that the product was great.

The bad news was that its main target market is one of the hardest target markets to market to. Moms.

Moms are the most powerful and lucrative consumer market out there. They are the decision makers in buying just about every household item. In my home my wife chooses what eggs to buy, what tissue paper, what milk, what soap, heck she even chooses what bed sheets I sleep on. I pay for it… but she chooses. Because moms are so powerful, just about every single brand is finding different ways to sell something to them be it household stuff or things for their kids.

And this brings us to an even deeper problem.

Moms are the guardians of their kids and they have the highest standards of everything their kids use. Higher than even for themselves (how many moms do you know who drink Coke but don’t let their kids have any).  Yet brands are pushing product to moms on a regular basis and all more or less in the same way.

So how do you sell to moms?

You have to build trust.

How do you build trust?

You build trust with a person when he or she takes an effort to really listen, understand and empathize with how you feel.  Trust is further built when after doing that, that person does something to help you.

So idea is first to empathize… then to provide the solution which Mamee Monster Biskidz was made to be.

The question though is what and how.

I spent the next week after our meeting at Starbucks talking to moms and really just listening. One thing that really stuck with me was the struggle of the modern mom. Society is really harsh on the modern mom. Modern moms are expected to sometimes work and earn a living like their husbands, yet they’re also expected to take care of the kids, manage the household and even take care of their husbands. On top of that all they’re also expected to ensure they take care of how they physically look to other people.

That’s just really really hard and I found that many moms fall deeper into depression under all this pressure. The one thing that makes all this worse? Social media.

The Facebook or Instagram posting that your favourite parenting blogger posts of the perfect beautifully decorated meals that they cook for their kids, or the beautiful family photo shoots when everyone is happy or how our celebrity moms manage to deliver kids and lose all their baby weight in a month.

The problem with social media though is that it’s not real life. People post the best of them on social media so we only see one side, but as a result of that moms start feeling that they’re not doing a good enough job as a mom and get even more depressed.

So the idea I had?

Tell the real moms the truth. That there is no perfect mom and there should be no pressure to be a perfect mom. Every mom no matter how imperfect in the eyes of mothers need to know that they’re great moms and that’s all that matters. That we should stop embracing perfect moms and instead celebrate imperfect moms!

How do we do that?

I thought of creating a video that told the story of 3 real life celebrity moms in Malaysia and how their beautiful Instagram photos don’t necessarily reflect real life.

Pierre thought it was a brilliant idea but great ideas are only as good as how they’re executed. So we put together a team of the most capable people we know.

There was the team of Sashimi who was Mamee’s digital agency, Reelity.TV (a Netccentric company) and Playground Productions that put together the video and a great team at Mamee who oversaw the whole thing. It was one of the most turbulent video productions I’ve ever seen. We’ve had problems like a key talent falling sick on the day of the shoot and us having to replace that person. Or that we thought we had a great video made on to test it and see that it failed to get a good response from a different demographic.

While I was involved in the first half of the project, by the second half I had taken a step back and the team from the agencies above handled everything on their own accord. It was the most amazing team I’ve ever seen. Everyone was motivated to create a video that really impacted people instead of thinking of their bottom line.

When you put 10 very very capable people in the room, there’s bound to be a lot of pressure and differing opinions but the team at Mamee held everything together. Mamee also worked with Sashimi, Reelity.TV and Playground as partners rather than vendors. Listening to their opinions and taking risk. They weren’t worried about how many seconds their product appeared in the video. They were only concerned about whether the video spoke for moms. There was authenticity in what everyone was trying to do. We weren’t trying to sell product. We were trying to build a brand.

Finally the video came out and with only an initial marketing spend of RM1,700 on Facebook ads, the video reached thousands of shares and over 250,000 views in 8 hours. A day later the video hit 14,500 shares and almost 800,000 views. The best part though was in the comments. Moms commented about how grateful they were that Mamee Monster as a brand understood them. That this brand hadn’t looked to push product to them at the first encounter, but to first empathize.

This is the new start of the Mamee Monster brand. It’s not a biscuit or a snack brand. It’s a brand that aims to support mothers by sometimes saying things that moms themselves don’t say and by creating products that solve their problems.

It’s a brand that understands that you first have to empathize with your customer before you sell him or her something.

Special thanks goes out to the people who worked together through blood sweat and tears to put this video together:

From Sashimi: Desmond, Lee Fen, Fayth

From Reelity.TV: Michael and Isaiah.

From Playground Productions: Faisal, Megat, Azman, Ismail, Razaisyam and Bajai.

And last but not least from Mamee: Li Yein, Meng Yang, Alysha, Kenneth and Hui Ying.

Colony