Monday, August 6, 2007

On Being Gainfully employed

"Madam, why is your husband still working whereas you both have so much?"

That conversation was during a dinner cum investment talk that I had attended. My affiliate was perplexed as to why my husband is still in the Employee Quadrant (term coined by Robert Kiyosaki) when I have so much wealth at my disposal. Kiyosaki’s idea in his Rich dad, poor dad’s series is that being an investor or business owner gives one more freedom and a higher upside than being someone else's employee or being an owner-operator of a business. My answer was: I respect my husband’s decision to remain gainfully employed as a professional in one of the GLCs (Government-linked company) in Malaysia. The truth is not everybody can own a corporation or be an entrepreneur and like opposing spectrum – male versus female, good versus evil, white against black there is always the gray area. This goes to say that my husband could be one, both or even all parties of the four of Kiyosaki’s quadrants. In Malaysia, one cannot be gainfully employed as well as be a business owner of a corporation. In actual fact I am the business owner but in a Muslim marriage where the man leads and I love it that he leads, I refer to my husband as my ultimate boss.

At this point, most would have wondered why my blog is called Millionaires are from the same planet. I feel it is immodest to blurt all, a tiny hint would suffice but way back in 1988 when I was 27, I owned at least 100 Telecom shares and a dozen or more shares which than summed even at that time would have been more than a million RM at least. Marketing at that time was buying two or three properties in a day without a blink of an eye. Nevertheless, I still continued teaching in a public high school – not even a lecturer than. I saw teaching as a vocation – my stabilizer as dealing with young people and having a hand at shaping their life held more meaning to me than any amount of money I could make. I think I am one of those lucky people who could have his pie and eat it as well. The only luxury that I afford myself was going for Umrahs (trips and rites to the Holy city of Mecca) and of course holidays. The point I am driving is you could be making tonnes of money and continue leading such an ordinary life.

How you may have wondered, I accumulate such wealth because definitely it was not through inheritance or through marriage and the Internet was not widespread – no emails or whatsoever. The computer’s appeal was more as a spreadsheet. Some hint: Kiyosaki was right about leveraging – I had procured those shares through bank guarantees and owning corporations and the shares were bought through IPOs (initial public offerings) which discount the need for speculation as any listing would sometimes have seen those shares doubling up way back those years when ‘privatization’ was the main agenda of the Malaysian Government. A couple of years down the road, the Malaysian banks no longer offered guarantees to purchase IPOs as chances of hitting one is as good as buying a lottery if not even less. By that time, my attention has shifted to properties – at least managing the properties I have diverted my funds to.

I remembered reading a book urging one to flow with the tide – because that was what I was doing all along. And how would I know high tides to low tides – keep abreast with the signals. I don’t know about luck but I attribute my wealth-building to my background as a researcher and reading which affords me a clear picture of what steps to take in my process of decision-making. Of course again there is the Solat Istikharah- daily rituals that implore the Divine to guide me. If I had remained in stocks – in 1997 when the Malaysian currency was falling down, I could have lost everything. Even if I had quitted my job than – I would have lost my stabilizer as well as my identity. Why than should my husband quit his more than modest job and lose his gratuity and retirement benefits which may come up to be a couple of millions. Life is not only about financial fast-track as opposed to Kiyosaki’s writing who put his Rich Dad in such high reverence compared to his own Dad. Furthermore, I have resigned from my teachings - I feel that the time has come for me to spread my wings and I didn’t want to become some jaded lecturer(talk about vanity) that has lost a lot of her luster standing upfront in the podium. Young people need more vivacious people to be their role models. I do however go back to consultancy from time to time but for now I am just blogging.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

On Motherhood in Cyber Era




















‘The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness’
-Quoted




Who says that being a mother to a daughter is the same as being a mother of two sons? My relationship with Hannah borders between insanity and apprehension but always with pride and love, at least on my part. Insanity at the sometimes profanities that I mouthed out because of my apprehension of what will become of her and sometimes pride when she reasoned and stood up to my sometimes most domineering character.

I take pride on the rare occasions that she discusses her boyfriends or even her career prospect to me. I am even proud that she sold off clothes bought by me which is not to her liking through e-bay although I do not get a cent back. At least my business streak surfaces from time to time in her.

I read an article somewhere describing mothers falling into categories of one which is the alpha mother or more apt the control-freak kind like Abby in ‘Desperate Housewives’ or the laid-back type like Felicity in the same series.

I may be a cross between the two characters or neither because there is no wrong or right way to raise a daughter but you do things that seems befitting in her best interest – to the extent like maybe doing her needlework when she was nine so that she can complete her other homework. I gave birth to my first born about 21 years ago and now she is graduating in accountancy – something not much different from my Mathematician background. This picture deeply embedded in my memory of her mouthing her first word ‘ayah’ at 4 months instead of mama because that is the most frequent vocabulary that she hears. Admittedly, I called out to her father frequently to help out with household chores and my man who was than a new husband and father had not most often responded in time to a first-time mother that panicked at the slightest twitch her first-born made. I was a very harassed mum than – what with starting a career and motherhood. Calling out ‘ayah’, I were to later discover was not an act of preference at all - when her younger brother’s first syllabus is Hannah as by that time the most frequent vocabulary of the day was than of course her name. As such your first spoken legible word has nothing to do with the person you identified with most – so mothers out there should be enlightened by my discovery.
Hannah’s first piano exam, becoming a prefect than dropped for not completing her homework, being called by her teachers and arguing out with her teachers that they should cool it down with their homework to a nine year old like her - much to the dismay of her teachers as I myself was an educator; graduation stuffs and encounters with boyfriends has been etched in my memory for all eternity. I told my wayward daughter than that being a ‘prefect’ or short for perfect is not everything but the ability to learn from consequences of one’s action should be imbedded properly in her brain. The glorified moments as well as the battles too as we combat our differences would be another tale to tell.

In personality, she does not take after me at all for we are two different kindred in this chaotic world - me the more reserved, quiet type, bespectacled lady of my era where to be heard of for one’s academic achievements is more important than being seen while she the party girl among her friends. Never the academic icon like her mother but the more extrovert type that is bent on having a good time always for had I not named her ‘Farhanah’ in which means ‘joy’. My own mother mould me to be the meek lady that never raise a single sentence against her but I was surprise that when it comes to Hannah I will always be siding with my daughter and arguing out that times has changed and she deserved the space which I had always craved for. Looking at my own beloved mother, still mouthing advice on how I should raise my daughter gives credit to the adage that a mother who is really a mother is never free holds an absolute truth that all mothers in the world accept
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Millionaires are normal people

Making Money in the Cyber Era

I made my money in stocks, real estate, traditional and online investments, consultancy, brokering and introductory so much so that when I read my own portfolio on how I make money – I come around as an opportunist. That is how my daughter summed me – I thought it as a cold and calculative term but she says it is meant as a compliment because she has never gotten a better mentor than me at showing her the ropes on how I made my kills.

However, one area that eludes me is the MLM business. I tried my hands at MLM and failed miserably because although I may be a networker I am not good at convincing people to buy something almost 5 times its price. For a middle aged lady I have a number of e-gold accounts, pay pal accounts and have multicurrency accounts in quite a number of countries. My accomplishment is nothing to shout about but I may be what you would call as comfortable. I am very comfortable around a laptop that my husband says I am 12 hours at the PC – hence I called myself a networker. After all, that is how introverts like me take their shot at the Business world. For years I had been an educator and all those years managing students paid off handsomely when my mastery at managing humans is used for my own deals. A word of caution though is holding to that wealth is the real Endeavour so much so that the best sentence that describes what I am doing these days is managing my wealth.

My latest foray in oil brokerage seems to be attractive but have not gained much mileage yet. I have got the buyers and the sellers and the BGs and the ICPOs but it’s a stalemate. However, it is the adventure for the bigger and bigger stuffs that keeps me young and agile. Kindly contribute if you are in this line. Fortune to me is a number crunch.

On Mistakes

To steer yourself to great wealth or through life for that matter – of course you make mistakes and I do make big ones too. Taking risk is never the same as gambling your wealth away. You may call it calculated risk but at the end of the day the answers is always never certain. As a devout Muslim, my secret is to perform the Solat Istikharah where you ask God to guide you. It is not hocus pocus but at the end of the debate which you held mostly within yourself and maybe with a few of your key personnel – you let yourself be guided. Of course you will still be making mistakes as there is always a lesson to be learnt behind every mistake.

One of my ex-students called about his venture with a company rearing goats. He says you pay RM 5500 and after 60 days when the goats are ready for slaughter you will reap an income of RM2000 which will be paid to you per 60 days cycles. Because I know that he is an able-bodied person – I said that if someone were to rent you a car, not any car but an executive saloon at say RM3000 a month and you were to capture on the Arab season whereby an hour’s usage is RM40 to RM50 around the city of Kuala Lumpur, can you capture the same amount of money. He says that he could get at least RM5000 or maybe more after 30 days and his risk becomes less as he gets income everyday. Within 30 days he not only recoups his capital, he makes extra income for himself and increases his circle of network. So I told him that I have actually answered his question. My student here speaks Arabic fluently and enjoys bringing tourist around. If you are not bequeath with the same skill, trust me that selling nasi lemak makes a better deal than parking your money on online investments that may sometimes turn out to be scams. The essence is money in someone else hands is never the same as it is in your own hand. The answer would be very much different if you have disposable income and can capture the Arab market as well as the goat market – than by all means a traditional business and even an online investment thrown in will definitely multiply your income many folds.

One old sage told me that what I am doing for the moment is like walking on bubbles. Only faith can make those bubbles hardened and allow me to pass through – he was trying to tell me that my oil deal is a no go deal but what the heck – part of the adventure and spirit is not fathoming the unseeable future. After all, I don’t see money changing hands just yet, only my time and expenses for incidentals. In business, you do have to take risk and risk can come not only in the form of money but it could be a tradable entity like time. The old man was very concern that I would not make time for my husband and family - a family breakdown is the greatest of all evils and is what he perceives as the outcomes or trade offs if my business ventures are successful. Thus, risk does not translate as only financial risk but it could be emotional risk or even societal risk.

However, getting back to calculating financial risk is that there is no need to go into a too deep financial analysis like calculating IRR, quick test, acid test and NPV if you are talking about making money for yourself or for that matter your small business but a quick idea of when you will get back your capital should suffice. Factor in the opportunity lost if you were to choose one thing against the other. And a word of advice is think BIG but starts small.