Tag Archives: money

A snapshot of my day

Today I:

  • read History of Western Philosophy (yes, still reading it… very thick!)
  • helped put together a sofa-bed – just arrived today, thanks made.com
  • worked, of course
  • wrote one page-r recommending Zmags, a really cool digital publishing platform
  • texted lots of friends. My mobile’s normally forgotten
  • chatted with sis
  • bought Pet Shop Boys tickets
  • a bit of grocery shopping online
  • recorded myself singing Winter Wonderland. Don’t ask
  • cooked for Hari Raya Haji, without oni0ns (Salam Aidiladha everybody!)
  • prayed
  • booked appointment to do a presenter headshot for Spotlight finally!
  • scheduled to put a little bit of money in Aberdeen Asia Pacific fund – I love Asia so much I want to invest in it. Almost a quarter of it goes to S’pore companies so that’s good for me
  • renewed library books.

My happy, chilled out life, low stress no strife! ūüôā

Books books books

I’ve been reading a lot more lately. I’ve been trying to stick to one book at a time but it’s hard! Esp since I have a great library at my workplace. I just come downstairs and choose some swell books.

Like Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations. I think it’s a copy from the 40s or smth. I’m not sure I’m going to finish this one. I’ve learnt a lot just from the intro! Maybe it’s just my modern brain but some paragraphs could be much shorter really. I’m up to the chapter about Wages for Labour, smth like that.

Bertrand Russell’s History of Western Philosophy – I’ve just finished Socrates, a bit of Plato and delving more into Aristotle. The cover of the book I got is a painting by James Barry that can be found on across all four walls of the great hall where I work. It truly impressed me first time I saw it.

I also finished How to be Idle by Tom Hodgkinson and How to Get Rich by Felix Dennis.

How to be Idle is arranged by chapters demarcated by time and the significance of it in an idlers’ day. Like for example 3am is a perfect witching hour as it’s long enough to forget the happenings of the day before and before the new day is born. The first half of the book seems much more informative than the second half. I’m guessing that his little children must be distracting him.

How to be rich is a great read. According to Felix Dennis, it is an ‘anti self-help book’, in that it lays bare what is truly involved in getting rich and does not indulge in ‘anyone can do it’ type BS. It is written purely from his perspective, and my what an insight. I suspect that this book has put some people off from pursuing their dream of ‘being rich’, judging from a couple of Amazon reviews. Some passages which warn the reader about the dangers (and perks of course) of being rich are really insightful, and he encourages the reader to learn from his mistakes and successes. I think it is rare to find a book on this subject by a bestselling poet.This is one of the books I will keep and re-read.

I just borrowed some Germaine Greer from the library; wanna know what all the fuss was about… and also a children’s French book as that is my French reading level – I gotta start somewhere!

Baby boomers vs bloomers

An acquaintance of mine appeared on TV the other day to debate the fate of ‘our generation’. I think the programme was trying to set up a slagging match between kids young people¬† and people who are as old as their parents. Did it work? I don’t know. It’s like trying to ask someone who’s¬† been happily blindfolded what he saw. The blindfold’s off, it ain’t pretty, but how did we get here?

Every cloud has a silver lining. Cliche. In the so-called age of austerity (hmm, austerity with laptops and iPods) , we have to learn to live with less, learn to cope. This is what the world needs; it cannot support unlimited, unbridled consumption. The older generation will eventually die out and we’ll inherit a surplus of stuff (houses, clothes, bad ideas) as there’s more of them –¬† at least where the population is declining. We cannot expect our generation to enjoy exactly the same privileges¬† – as it is, we probably have the best childhoods, historically, and the best prospects. People can get the sort of job that are a better match to their individual abilities, rather than being forced to work in t’pit, just ‘cos that’s what people do’.¬†Technology has destroyed jobs and created exciting ones in its place.

It is a fair point though that some have been excessively greedy. I’m not talking about bankers – they get enough flak – I’m talking about university vice-chancellors. How is it justifiable that a student struggles through uni and leaves with thousands of debt, while a vice-chancellor gets paid over ¬£250,000 a year, and urging for tuition-fee rises? I believe more of tuition fee costs must be shouldered by corporate firms, who ultimately benefit by employing such well-educated people. Also, there are plenty of positions it seems, that pay much more than what the prime minister gets paid – is their job much harder? They should be running the country then.

How to make more money from an arty-farty job – jack it

A new podcast from I Will Teach You To Be Rich features a young lady, Cass aka WebWallflower, who used her skills as theatre stage manager to become a freelance niche conference organiser. Apparently she was earning up to US$400 a week in her previous job, and now as a freelancer she’s making three times that and working three times less.

She really brought to light the magic of niche; she specialises in organising conferences and events just for start-ups and web 2.0 companies. Why clients hire her: she’ll take care of all the gruntwork involved in organising a conference (a/v etc), booking a venue and negotiating a bargain (apparently hotels always quote 40% over the price they’re willing to settle for), finding speakers, sponsorship… and on the day, her clients can be free to network and make business rather than take care of logistics.

She also selects her clients quite carefully – and focuses on taking on jobs that will get her more business e.g the right target market, and a good fit for her expertise and network. For example, she can organise an event for doctors or lawyers but would rather not as she wouldn’t bring as much value to the table, and vice-versa – she is not au fait with that particular market so would less likely get new clients.

She also takes investing in her business as a given – for her having a website and getting a faster computer are essentials. If you’re not psychologically prepared to pay to invest in your business, you’re not ready. It forces her to get things done/get more business since the overhead’s running!

She invested time as well, to figure out if this is the way forward. She was moonlighting whilst working 50-100 hours a week for the theatre, when it dawned on her that she was making as much money as a conference organiser in half the time!

Her main skill that she took from being a stage manager is being able to juggle plenty of proverbial balls in the air, liase with people in a friendly way, and keep the show running. Over time she’d developed a formidable database of contacts that she can call on to sell conference tickets to, or ask to speak at these conferences. She develops her business mainly through word of mouth and through the conferences she has organised – and I guess now, from interviews she’s done with the likes of Ramit. She never fails to make sure that she is noticed in conferences – despite being an introvert – and keeps her online presence alive via Twitter and Facebook.

The more she specialises, the more valuable she becomes, and hence the more likely clients are willing to pay top dollar!

Her sales pitch with a prospective client is not really a pitch – it’s a chance for her to suss out the clients’ needs. Through¬† information such as what they’re hoping to achieve through their conference and the sort of content/market they’re after, she’s able to work out how much they’re willing or should be spending. She also assuages their fears and make sure they know that they’ll be free to create new business and network while she handles the event’s logistics. If they’re actually not quite ready to host a conference, or are unclear about what they want to achieve, she tells it like it is and points them elsewhere! She doesn’t just hard sell. This shows her to be genuine and a source of expert advice, and in fact she’s thinking of providing a service where clients who aren’t quite ready to pay for full-blown event management to sit with her for a couple of hours to work out what they can do to organise their own forthcoming event.

As for getting paid, she either charges a flat fee and requests 50% upfront, or if she believes the conference is going to sell, and she thinks she can benefit from future business, she’ll charge a lower flat free but will take a percentage of profits after the conference.

She also advises that, to get the most out of a conference, it’s best to have it two or three times – with each time it gets cheaper to produce and will make more money, as it gets more established and punters know what they’re in for (plus the whole word of mouth effect from each successful event!).

Very useful ‘day in the life’ story to inspire us to see how we can take our existing skills and put it to use in a different capacity.¬† It is also another example of how starting small works, and that it’s better to be a big clever fish in a small niche pond. Listen to the full audio interview on I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

Side-businesses – just go for it!

It’s great to listen to an interview on I Will Teach You To be Rich,¬† by an entrepreneur with a full-time job (at Twitter!). Elizabeth gets to indulge and earn an income from her hobby, which is letterpressing.

The main point I’ve learned is that when starting out,¬† there is no point fussing over creating a website, or even a business card. They are just barriers to entry. You are better off using free, cheap and existing tools to help you get off the ground – for instance, using cloud computing tools like Zoho to manage customers and having a seller profile on etsy.com or eBay. She’s been going for 4 years and only just launching her website!

It’s better to get practice on selling your product rather than creating a multi-page business plan right from the start. Her way of progressing is to meet the needs of the next challenge she encounters, rather than dreaming up of every eventual possibility, finding it all too much, and giving up a full-time job. This is a good method for side-businesses as it reduces the tendency to stall and procrastinate.

Thanks for the tips, Elizabeth from Paperwheel!

I Will Teach You To Be Rich

… says a guy called Ramit. Well, I think he is rich since he co-founded PBWiki.

On a rare occasion does junk mail incite interest – Midnight Express is like takeaway home delivery… for alcohol and cigarettes. What a bloody great idea. I’ve not seen that before. Maybe I’ve been living a sheltered life !

Singapore National Day… and get rich slowly…in music?

Really enjoyed watching the Singapore National Day Parade online. It’s better than ever and the music direction is not as cheesy. It looked Kraftwerky at one point. Seems like they are taking onboard lots (more) of inspiration from overseas but of course with a Singaporean twist. I’m seriously contemplating going back. I know I’ll move back at some point, but now, probably sooner than I expect. They are taking arts more seriously and now that I have experience and buy-in from people here I can see myself taking forward a music/performing career there.

For the first half of the show, half of my screen was the parade and the other half were posts on investing and an explanation on quatitative easing. Another blog I follow sometimes is Get Rich Slowly. Blogs like these can get quite addictive especially if written by good bloggers. I’m saving, paying down a debt from my “record label” (you can say all I got was a bunch of recordings, but that’s something to give the grandchildren), paying into a pension, investing a tiny little bit… but amongst all this order I feel that my life could be more exciting, and more aligned to what I truly am. [And, of course, the majority of people would agree with this re: themselves]. I’m not young forever, and children are looming closer. At the same time, I’m not prepared to lose the stability I have achieved in the past year.

And a big problem with me is that I can’t seem to equate music with making money. Maybe it’s because of very early conditioning – I remember, as a child,¬† my mother telling off my brother for being a musician because “it doesn’t pay”. Of course it does when done right – look at Beyonce! – and there are plenty of people who make money out of music in various ways. But I’ve always found that I shell out. I’ve made money out of it a few times, but never as much as what I spend on it. And I came to see at one point, that the people making money in music are not the musicians but guitar shops, rehearsal rooms, recording studios, even promoters – all in on the ‘dream’.

I do know a bunch of very lovely guys who are making a decent living off music. They play weddings and corporate events, as well as original stuff in the guise of another band. Absolutely superb musicians. One of them is a maths graduate and does their books. How convenient!

I should look into getting an income stream from music. Somehow. I want to sing happy 90s dance hits to happily drunk people and get paid for it. Just need to get some backing tracks and a monkey on a piano (or a cat!) and we’re off!

By the way my brother Malex is still performing and has released a couple of albums which are cult successes back in Singapore. He does have a day job, but he is still staying true to his passion! Check him out, he’s the one with the blue guitar.