Tag: life

The Advice I Didn’t Need

The Advice I Didn’t Need

You become what you feed your mind.

I’m glad I learned this lesson early on in life by reading. Since I was fifteen, I became very intentional in letting people into my life, accepting advices, and consuming information.

In a way, I am very lucky. 

Lucky that I wasn’t born into a generation where children were given smartphones, access to the internet and social media at a young age. Their information diet today is filled with a lot of junk.

The modern devil comes in the form of cheap dopamines. Give a child unregulated access to sweets and there will be no control.

The same goes for social media.

This is not to say that parents should forbid social media. 

It should be guided. 

The benefits of social media and the internet cuts both ways, when used for good, you can gain a lot of leverage over what the current education system can provide.

Stand guard at the door of your mind

If we don’t watch what we let into our mind, we would allow negativity to seep through. And negativity is like pollution. It pollutes the mind and relationships.

Regardless of how smart, savvy or inspired you are, if you don’t guard the door to your mind, you are giving the tacit approval of the disempowering, uninspiring, and cynical.

Not taking action is an action in itself.

Intellectual diabetes

Just as eating healthy is an everyday battle, the internet makes it difficult to find nutrient-dense information. For most of us, we allow mass media and online algorithms to curate our information diet.

When we mindlessly consume information, we’ll end up with intellectual diabetes.

It’s absolutely possible to filter out nutrient-dense information on the internet, it just demands deliberate effort.

News Publications

I don’t follow the news on a day to day basis. There is simply no need to.

If it’s important, the news will seek me.

I have friends who are glued to CNBC, Bloomberg, and several other publications because they must know everything and have a well-informed opinion.

Instead, what they have is a false sense of control.

“To be completely cured of newspapers, spend a year reading the previous week’s newspapers.”

— Nassim Taleb

My friends working in journalism shared how they were trained to write—publish the scariest headlines. 

Or else no one will read it.

There’s a lot of competition as publications compete for our attention. To stand out, they have to write headlines that sound important, critical, urgent, and dangerous even for the most minute of events.

The result is a society that is always anxious, pessimistic, and short-term oriented.  

As you consume more of this content, you have less time for stuff that matters.

What is Your Average?

We are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with.

When it comes to our mindset, self-esteem and decisions, we are greatly influenced—whether we like it or not—by those closest to us.

When I was 15, I wanted to surround myself with ambitious, hardworking, and driven individuals.

In a way, I still do, but it has evolved—I want to play long-term games with long-term people.

All benefits in life come from compound interest—money, relationships, learning or health. And there are 2 factors that determine your outcome: (1) the rate at which you compound, and (2) how long you compound.

The rate at which you compound is determined by your daily actions—who you choose to hang out with, your information diet, whether you laze around or choose to workout, read, etc.

How long you can compound is determined by the work you do and your reputation.

Let me explain.

If we want to be successful, you have to work with others. We have to figure out who we can trust, over a long period of time. We want to be able to keep playing the game with them and collect the reward at the end of the project.

Trust and a stellar reputation will make it easier to play this game. In a long-term game, everybody benefits, it is a positive-sum game.

In a short-term game, everybody focuses on making themselves rich. We become paranoid over whether we would be betrayed. Taking attention and energy away from the work that matters.

Play the long-term game. The returns are greater and it is much more satisfying.

Unsolicited advice

The reason I wrote this is to remind myself that I become what I feed my mind. That I have to be intentional about the conversations I have and the people I meet.

Last night, I met a group of people who advised me on making money, “This is a dog eat dog world, you have to step over others to succeed. You need to learn how to push products, and convince them (clients) to buy, even if they do not need the product.”

I probably should have ended the conversation politely there and then.

They went on to boast how much money they made by charging “cash backs” for construction projects, overcharging their clients and pushing financial products that their clients do not need.

I felt irritated nauseated.

Although their advice left no impact beyond a bad taste for me, I worry how will someone young and developing take this advice. 

Rejecting bad advices is as important, if not more important, than seeking advices from others. And developing the judgment to reject advices like these takes time and experience.


I hope this post brought awareness to how important it is to be intentional about what you feed your mind. That you have to stand guard the door of your mind by curating your information diet and spend time with people who inspire you.

If you like me to do it for you, subscribe to 3-Bullet Sunday today. 

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The problem with perfectionism

The problem with perfectionism

Back in the days when I was a student going through my business communication module. There was a class on interviewing skills.

The instructor asked for volunteers and one of the questions went like this:

Instructor: Tell me about your biggest weakness.

Response: I’m a perfectionist. I spend too much time getting caught up in the little details…


This was a decade back where this response was considered the model answer for “what’s your biggest flaw” type of questions.

This poster, found on the walls of... - Facebook for Education | Facebook
Poster on walls of Facebook office

Today, with technology and best practices changing so rapidly, perfectionism would be crippling to most organizations.

Agile, Scrum and Kanban are the buzzwords for innovation for almost every organization nowadays. It focuses on incremental changes, testing, and modifications. Rather than in-depth planning right at the beginning.

“If you think that’s a big failure, we’re working on much bigger failures right now — and I am not kidding. Some of them are going to make the Fire Phone look like a tiny little blip.”

Jeff Bezos on the failure of the Fire Phone

Successful organizations are increasingly aware of the importance of trying out, going fast and making progress instead of executing only when there’s a ‘perfect’ idea.

What’s wrong with being a perfectionist?

It is paralyzing.

“Perfectionism is insecurity with lipstick on it”

Gary Vaynerchuk

The quest for perfectionism is a defense mechanism that prevents us from doing anything. It is the worst procrastination tool around.

The true perfectionist will not try new things, because they know it will never be perfect.

If you’re looking for a perfect life, you will never enjoy living.
If you’re looking for a perfect opportunity, you will never find it.
If you’re looking for the perfect investment, you will never invest.
If you’re looking for the perfect relationship, you will never find anyone.

Many knows that their life could be better by investing, getting insured, publish their content publicly, or pursue their dreams.

But would never do it.

“Investing is too risky, best left to professionals.”

“It has already been done by many others, I’m too late to try.”

“I don’t think I’m good enough.”

We are afraid that we have no talent. That we will be rejected, criticized, ridiculed or misunderstood or — worst of all — not be heard.

But we forget that the path to being good at anything is to start.

The gap between expectations & reality

We often look at our idols, be it Michael Jordan for basketball, Warren Buffett for investing, J.K. Rowling for writing or Jeff Bezos for running businesses and awe at how good they are.

We start setting unrealistic expectations for ourselves as amateurs and compare ourselves with our idols. With what we see on the surface — perfection.

Our perfectionism starts to torture us when we overlook how hard others had work or suffered before reaching ‘perfection’.

The original Amazon website (August 1995)
The original Amazon website (1995)

Amazon did not start out to be the e-commerce powerhouse it is today. Jeff Bezos was rejected multiple times when trying to raise funds in 1994.

He said, “I had to take 60 meetings to raise $1 million, and I raised it from 22 people at approximately $50,000 a person.”

In the book The Everything Store, Bezos started out packing books, rushing to meet customers orders, and struggled to find supplies.

Nothing was easy nor instant. Bezos achieve what he has today with a constant struggle of refining, testing, failing, and improving before Amazon became the number one e-commerce store.

What do we do?

Start the process by not judging yourself.

At least not in the short term. Don’t judge yourself in a day, or weeks, or months. Judge yourself in a life.

Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good.

Focus on progress, not perfection.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.

If you’re enjoying the content so far, I’m sure you’ll find 3 Bullet Sunday helpful. As an extension to the regular posts, I send out weekly newsletters sharing timeless ideas on life and finance.

I do not share these content elsewhere.

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Becoming 30: Receiving a message from my younger self

Becoming 30: Receiving a message from my younger self

On 23 Jan 2020, I opened my inbox and read the subject title “WHAT’S NEXT?”

It was a delayed message sent by my younger self to pause and reflect. I set the delayed message years back when I got admitted into University and was awarded a scholarship.

Email of scholarship award back in 2012

Looking back at my journals, I was worried that I would lose my drive and hunger overtime after having mini-successes.

There were multiple questions my younger self wanted my present self to ponder:

Is this what you want to do?

What’s holding you back?

How can I overcome obstacles holding me back?

My early twenties

Through my growing up years, I have been always struggling to balance between 2 fears — the fear of cruising along my life and the fear of change.

That I may be settling for doing “just okay” because it has become comfortable. That I may let life escape past me, because I let my fear of change freeze me on my tracks.

But life is not long enough, for fear of change to take control.

There will always be very rational reasons why you shouldn’t leave a job that doesn’t excite you, a relationship that no longer works or to start saving and investing.

“The job market is bad.”

“I have invested too much into this, I can’t leave.”

“I don’t even have enough money to tide through this month.”

Underlying all these reasons are two fundamental cause — fear and homeostasis.


We fear the uncertainty that arises from change. Our mind is designed for survival. Fear is a natural response that helped our ancestors survive in the wild. In today’s world, this response if unregulated, can hold you back from living life to the fullest.

Certainty is the enemy of growth and perfectionism is a serial killer for joy, spontaneity and hope. The truth is we will never have clarity of our future. Fear and indecision are often the obstacles that prevent us from moving forward.

Ironically, the only way to work with fear is to take action. As Jack Canfield famously said, “everything you want in life is on the other side of fear.”

A question that I frequently reflect on is “What happens if I don’t do this?”

In many of his interviews, Jeff Bezos explained that our biggest regret in life usually stems from acts of omission. It is the paths not taken and they haunt us. Leaving us to wonder what would have happened.

When I’m 80 and reflecting back, I want to have minimized the number of regrets that I have in my life. And most of our regrets are acts of omission—the things we didn’t try, the paths untraveled. Those are the things that haunt us.

A life mainly guided by fear is a small, shrunken substitute for what it could have been.

That is not to say we should completely avoid fear. We should stop trying to overcome it, and work with it instead.

Fear is what protects and keeps us alive from dangerous situations.

But fear doesn’t know the difference between a genuinely dangerous situation and its irrational counterpart — casting self-doubt and raising anxiety.

Work with the irrational fear that is the culprit for causing anxiety and panic attacks.

In his TED Talk, Tim Ferriss shared that Fear-Setting is the most powerful exercise he does. Ferriss claimed it helped produced his biggest success, by allowing him to move onward despite fear and self-doubt.

Start by writing the thing that makes you uncomfortable on the top as the title. Split the page into 3 columns.

  1. In the first column: Define your nightmare, the absolute worst that could happen if you did what you are considering. What doubt, fears, and “what-ifs” pop up as you consider the big changes you can—or need—to make? Envision them in painstaking detail. Would it be the end of your life? What would be the permanent impact, if any, on a scale of 1–10? Are these things really permanent? How likely do you think it is that they would actually happen?
  2. In the second column: List down the actions you could take today to reduce the likelihood of these events occurring.
  3. In the last column: Identify what steps could you take to repair the damage or get things back on the upswing, even if temporarily? Chances are, it’s easier than you imagine. How could you get things back under control?

By practicing Fear-Setting, it helps us rationalize our fears and use it as a tool for fulfilling our goals.


Backsliding is a universal experience. Everyone resists significant change, no matter it’s for the worse or for the better. Our body, brain, and behavior have a built-in tendency to stay within narrow limits and snap back when changed.

As George Leonard discusses in his book Mastery, this condition of equilibrium, this resistance to change, is called homeostasis.

The simplest example of homeostasis can be found in your home heating system. The thermostat on the wall senses the room temperature; when the temperature on a winter’s day drops below the level you’ve set, the thermostat sends an electrical signal that turns the heater on. The heater completes the loop by sending heat to the room in which the thermostat is located. When the room temperature reaches the level you’ve set, the thermostat sends an electrical signal back to the heater, turning it off, thus maintaining homeostasis. Keeping a room at the right temperature takes only one feedback loop. Keeping even the simplest single-celled organism alive and well takes thousands. And maintaining a human being in a state of homeostasis takes billions of interweaving electrochemical signals pulsing in the brain, rushing along nerve fibers, coursing through the bloodstream. One example: each of us has about 150,000 tiny thermostats in the form of nerve endings close to the surface of the skin that are sensitive to the loss of heat from our bodies, and another sixteen thousand or so a little deeper in the skin that alert us to the entry of heat from without.

An even more sensitive thermostat resides in the hypothalamus at the base of the brain, close to branches of the main artery that brings blood from the heart to the head. This thermostat can pick up even the tiniest change of temperature in the blood. When you start getting cold, these thermostats signal the sweat glands, pores, and small blood vessels near the surface of the body to close down. Glandular activity and muscle tension cause you to shiver in order to produce more heat, and your senses send a very clear message to your brain, leading you to keep moving, to put on more clothes, to cuddle closer to someone, to seek shelter, or to build a fire.

After years of not exercising, your body regards a sedentary life as normal. The beginning of change, even if it is for the better, is interpreted as a threat.

Let’s say, for instance, that for the last twenty years—ever since high school, in fact—you’ve been almost entirely sedentary. Now most of your friends are working out, and you figure that if you can’t beat the fitness revolution, you’ll join it. Buying the tights and running shoes is fun, and so are the first few steps as you start jogging on the high school track near your house. Then, about a third of the way around the first lap, something terrible happens. Maybe you’re suddenly sick to your stomach. Maybe you’re dizzy. Maybe there’s a strange, panicky feeling in your chest. Maybe you’re going to die.

No, you’re going to die. What’s more, the particular sensations you’re feeling probably aren’t significant in themselves. What you’re really getting is a homeostatic alarm signal—bells clanging, lights flashing. Warning! Warning!  Significant changes in respiration, heart rate, metabolism. Whatever you’re doing, stop doing it immediately. Homeostasis, remember, doesn’t distinguish between what you would call change for the better and change for the worse. It resists all change. After twenty years without exercise, your body regards a sedentary style of life as “normal”; the beginning of a change for the better is interpreted as a threat. So you walk slowly back to your car, figuring you’ll look around for some other revolution to join.

Homeostasis is not entirely negative. It keeps systems alive and well. Our bodies wouldn’t work without it, nor would our social systems.

The problem is that homeostasis, like fear, is undirected and does not have a “value system” — it doesn’t keep what’s good and reject what’s bad.

It is up to us to work with homeostasis.

Leonard lays out 5 guidelines on how to approach the issue:

  1. Be aware of homeostasis. Expect resistance and backslash. Don’t give up at the first sign of trouble. In fact, take it as a positive indication that your life is definitely changing.
  2. Negotiate with your resistance to change. Use pain as a guide to performance. Be willing to take one step back for every two forward, sometimes vice versa. Have the determination to keep pushing, but not without awareness. Pushing your way through despite the warning signals raises the possibility of backsliding.
  3. Develop a support system. It helps a great deal to have other people with whom you can share the joys and challenges of the change you’re making. The best support system involves people we have gone through or are going through a similar process.
  4. Follow a regular practice. When embarking on change, gain stability and comfort through a routine. Practicing some worthwhile activity, not so much for the sake of achieving an external goal as simply for its own sake.
  5. Dedicate yourself to lifelong learning. To learn is to change. The lifelong learner learns to deal with homeostasis because he is doing it all the time.
Image for post


I don’t think that me in my early twenties would expect myself to still have to work with fear. I probably expected that I would have my sh*t sorted out and all. But I have learned the need to respect and work with both fear and homeostasis. To embrace our flaws and acknowledge that while we will not be perfect, we can be better.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.

In my next post, I will be sharing advice I would like to give my younger self. These are lessons I have learned over the years which will be helpful to you. Especially if you are in your early twenties or going-through change.

If you’re enjoying the content so far, I’m sure you’ll find 3 Bullet Sunday helpful. As an extension to the regular posts, I send out weekly newsletters sharing timeless ideas on life and finance.

Join others and subscribe to our newsletter today to receive a free investment checklist!