— 11 Years and Counting

Looking back. My first year was one of the hardest and it also holds the most painful memories.

When I started, I thought I had a good product. I thought it would be easy to introduce my product. I was an engineer. I was never a sales person. I knew I wouldn’t be comfortable in the new role. But I knew that in order to start my own business, I had to bravely step over the imaginery line and be thick-skin about it and become a sales person. Anyway, like all fresh entrepreneur, I had the utmost confidence in my product. I had the innocent exuberance. I was a dreamer. I innocently believed that it would be easy-going and I thought my product would rock the world Singapore!

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Primary School (6 years) I was a student who didn’t understand what exams were when I was a young boy. Until my PSLE, that is. For some reason, I suddenly showed some semblance of brilliance during my PSLE. My result was 406 when the top score that year was 425. My parents were very proud of me then. Looking back, I’m glad that I had once made them proud.

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If you are an executive earning $10k a month, you had a dream but you chose to give it up so you can keep earning $10k a month and more in future. That would be the price of your dream.

If you were a poly lecturer making $5k per month but you gave up the job to pursue your dream of being a volunteer to take care of stray cats at a much reduced income. However, you are happier and derived satisfaction from the volunteer work. That would be the price of your dream.

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Many years ago when I just started working as an engineer, I had an opportunity to attend a seminar organised by Intel in Penang, which was also where their factory was located. The seminar was related to the introduction of a series of new chips which will be using ball-grid array (BGA) arrangement. The seminar was to let us know how the BGA packaged chips may impact our printed circuit assembly process. As my ex-company was a large customer of Intel, up to four engineers were invited to attend the seminar for free, with flight tickets and hotel lodging provided. The procurement engineer from our company had included my name as he felt that I should attend as one of my future new product will be using BGA devices. We were to fly in on Friday morning, with Intel plant tour and seminar the next day. We’ll be back on a Sunday flight. The only thing I needed to do was get approval from my manager. I thought it would be easy since my department did not have to pay a single cent for me to attend. Boy, was I wrong!

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benefits

During this year’s budget report, when Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam touched on Special Employment Credit (SEC) and he mentioned about the enhancements, I was heartened to learn of the changes.

When I became the accidental boss, I had hoped to create a wonderful working conditions and environment for my staff. I mean, we spent most of our life working, if we don’t enjoy working, it would mean most of our life will be spent living miserably. Things I’ve introduced to make working more enjoyable: flexi hours, choice of working from home, off days on birthdays, child’s birthday, wedding anniversary etc. I also give my staff a lot of autonomy in the day-to-day operations.

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