by VINCENT LAI (Tel Aviv, Israel)
There is a joy in me when I see fellow entrepreneurs enjoying growing their baby. =) To me, entrepreneurship means Freedom. Many many years ago when I was 20 I had a discussion with a very good friend of mine talking about the typical life cycle, particularly in Singapore.
I break down the life cycle in Singapore into 3 sub-cycles:
• 1st sub-cycles – Primary >> Secondary >> Tertiary education (you don’t really have to worry about money)
• 2nd sub-cycles – Working for a better future >> Marriage/Buy Houses (need money)
• 3rd sub-cycles – Having the next generation (need more money)
Ok let me explain, the 1st cycle is nothing much, basically your parents will take care of it. Your job is to just focus on studying and absorb as much knowledge from the world as you can, from school environment, university, friends and teachers.
The 2nd cycle is the interesting one, the moment your parents told you that you are on your own; no financials supports from them from now on, then things become really challenging in life. Basically you are on your own, you start to live differently. Did you already notice about the “trap” for working as an employee? Let me put it in the SMU student context. We all study and work hard; many of us are prepared to join the work force.
The way I look at it is this – we can start to work after graduate, earn and save some money, by the time we have some money, we want to get married. So all of our savings gone to our marriage, buying houses, you are trapped by the typical life cycle now. Agreed?
Ok then we continue to work and save, by the time we have some money, oh we need to have a baby, now we are in 3rd sub-cycles and money comes into the picture again, need to do more planning for the future, for the next generation. 1st kid, 2nd kid or maybe more kids! More money it means! It means buying milk powder, it means having savings for their future education savings, insurance, it means letting them to exploring different things in life (trying out sports or arts), tertiary etc etc . All these need money!
On top of that, working as an employee doesn’t really have any job security (in my humble opinion), you might be fired anytime. So my point is this – if we work as an employee, where do we find FREEDOM in doing what our soul truly want to be/do? I have known few people like in my life that quit their very very comfortable job in the mid 40s and become an entrepreneur – Nicholas Koh who used to be Lieutenant Colonel in Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN), now running big business in GCC middle-east; thank God he came into my life through Kirpal. Robert Kiyosaki who used to work for Apple as an evangelist. My former StandChart boss who wants to become an entrepreneur now! It is so funny when I bump into him that day and now that he wants to follow my foot step.
So, I think being an entrepreneur can break this typical life cycle. To find our truest self and do what we really want to in life, not being tied down by money, by the “default standard” that is meant for the mass. Of course, I am cognizant that a lot of hard work needs to be put in, but I believe if you continue to work in the correct direction and enjoying what you are doing, money will come and that is where FREEDOM comes into our life. When you are enjoying what you are doing, you are no longer working anymore, you are enjoying every moment in your life, that is where life feels really good.
Toon King said seized the opportunity, I have given few opportunities to start a business with awesome people around me, now this is my chance in life and I am making it a reality every day, one step at a time. My mind is just full of the picture of the future.
I am really fortunate to meet a bunch of good friends in Singapore, US and Israel. I will be going to mid-east to explore business opportunity as well. Besides, many mentors/angels are willing to spend their time with me, to guide me in the path that is less travelled by. The government and SMU are supportive in some ways as well. I know I have chosen a path that is different, but like what you said Prof, it is not about the right decision; it is about righting the decision. This is something in my mind always.
Dr Ting gave me a very deep impression that a good team in business is very very important when I first met him. Now with a good team as foundation, it enables the team to soar; this is where clarity in business directions becomes very very important. I always think that clarity preceded mastering in something. Only if we are clear of where we are heading, then we can move on, like Steven Covey said, begins with the end in mind. We have mentor guiding us, I believe we can do it.
Many challenges ahead but having said that – light a candle instead of cursing the dark. Make this life a worth-living one. Once someone asked me, life is like a movie, is yours worth watching ? Now whatever I do, I am making this “movie” an exciting one !
Thank you so much, Prof. =)