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“Who’s the most important person that walks into your salon every day?” Eamonn said during the launch of Label M in Malaysia, where I was one of the models.

“Your customer,” some people from the audience said. 

“No!” said Eamonn. “The most important person is you.” 

If there are no hairdressers in a salon, nobody’s hair would get cut or coloured or styled. 

If the hairdressers don’t take care of themselves, if they’re not in tiptop shape to create a great experiences for customers, the salon won’t stay in business long, he told the audience. 

During the event, another senior hairdresser, David, talked about knowing your customers and using data to increase retention. 

For example, male customers are more loyal than female; they go back to the salon once every four weeks and will buy some kind of product in every visit. Female customers go back every 11.2 weeks.

Listening to these hairdressers speak, reminded me why I do things like work part-time at a bar, or do some modelling — something many of my entrepreneur friends don’t understand. 

One, I enjoy the work. In fact, I enjoy it so much that it doesn’t feel like work. Two, I relearn old things that are presented in a new light, in different industries. 

I’ve found that one of the best ways to stay inspired at work, is by exploring different things. 

Getting out of my zone and putting myself into situations that I’m not as familiar with. 

Kaizen

I’m a huge fan of continuous improvement, especially in terms of productivity and life hacking, which is why I was eager to read Josh Spector’s 60-second routine to increase productivity

“Try it today and get more done tomorrow” is his tagline. 

It’s a four-step process, which involves listing down everything you did in the day, then cutting out or changing up things that weren’t a good use of time. 

“It’s simple, it works, and its compounding effect will make you dramatically more productive,” writes Spector. 

And isn’t that the key to continuous improvement, or kaizen as the Japanese say it? 

To improve on something, you first have to identify its flaws. 

And if it involves self-improvement, it means that one needs to cultivate a certain level of self- or situational awareness. To learn to listen to criticism, and to be ruthless with ourselves. 

Once we are aware of flaws, we can begin to seek solutions — finding new resources, improving processes, removing redundancies. 

It can be a painful process, like putting money aside to invest. It takes some self-discipline. 

But just like investing, and just as Spector says, these small steps have compounding effects. A little improvement a day goes a long way. 

Won’t

I had a call with a friend earlier this week, and as we spoke about work struggles and career aspirations, she said something along the lines of how being “good at different things” was also a challenge because “you don’t make a decision about what you want to do”. 

How do you make a decision to pursue just one thing when you enjoy doing so many different things? When you’re able to excel in those things as well?

I’m slowly learning that just because I can, and perhaps even should do those things — because they’re more recognised, make more money etc — doesn’t mean I have to. 

There’s a quote I’ve seen floating around on Instagram: “She knew she could, but she was tired so she didn’t.”

At the time, it felt like one of the most inspirational things I’d ever read. 

“I just want to write,” I said, over the call. And that’s why I’ve been looking for ways to do more of that. 

To further increase and optimise my passive income, so that I can focus on doing more of what I love while being able to live “my rich life”.

I’m gradually finding a way to my ONE THING. 

By saying “I won’t”, even though I could.

Hidden

I often tell myself not to read into things too much, that things are as they are. What you see is what you get. 

But this often isn’t true. 

The person who lashes out and brings your life as you know it crashing down, does it because he’s hurt. You’ve wounded his pride and all he wants is to make himself feel better. 

The person who talks about all his achievements, all the money he’s making, he just wants to be recognised. He wants you to tell him that he’s good enough. 

The person who owns multiple businesses, drives a nice car, wears a nice watch. He doesn’t tell people that the amount in his personal bank account is dangerously close to zero. 

The person who looks like she has it all together. She doubts herself, constantly. Sometimes her anxiety is so bad, the only way for her to calm down is by working into the wee hours of the morning. 

Everyone has their own struggles, their own fears and desires. Remembering this helps me to be more gracious, to accept people as they are. To forgive them when their actions hurt me, but also to know when to say “enough is enough”.

Zero-value

I’ve been reminded over and over again this year that having the right kind of friendships is valuable. And that it’s important to foster these relationships.

Over the last few months, I’ve learned to cull toxic, as well as zero-value relationships.

The former may be easier to identify. Hanging out with these people leave you drained, perhaps even feeling bad about yourself.

I cut those out of my life and the result was immediate.

The Universe prefers equilibrium. The empty space left behind after you rid yourself of toxic relationships is open to better opportunities.

But the latter – relationships that bring no value to your life – are more insidious.

These are the people who text you after years of not talking, asking how you are, but really all they want to do is sell you insurance.

They’re the people who ask to hang out because they “haven’t seen you in ages”, and then bail on the day itself because they have to meet other friends.

They’re the people who want you for some kind of value you provide, who will make promises about things they want to do for you, but will never come through.

There’s nothing truly bad about them. But time is limited. Spend it on the people who really matter.

Story

I’ve been reading The Grail Quest, a series of books by Bernard Cornwell that’s set during the time of the Hundred Years’ War. 

This is a change from the historical fiction that I usually read as it tells the story of Thomas of Hookton, an English archer, and his search for the Holy Grail. 

I’m normally more interested in stories about women — queens fighting to stay relevant, whores trying to survive the streets, scholars searching for recognition in  academic society. 

But I’m enjoying this nonetheless. 

What I love about historical fiction is that it makes things that happened in the past feel more engaging. 

When studying history, it’s easy to become bored by lists of facts and events and dates. But when it’s told as a story, suddenly it’s easy to remember that King Henry VIII had six wives, that Catherine de Medici married King Henry II to become Queen of France. 

Stories make it easier to dive into that specific time and place, and after being absorbed into the story, I find myself wanting to know more about what truly happened. 

Stories are a gateway, enticing a person further and further into a whole new world. 

If you want people to pay attention, tell them a story.

Productive

I’ve had a couple of extra productive days and somehow managed to get heaps of reading in as well.

And it’s made me realise that the concept of work expanding to fit the time available is so true.

This week, I had two days blocked off where I knew I wouldn’t be able to get any work done. And yet, I have the same amount of deliverables as usual.

So I organised my time into 90-minute blocks; each block for a specific project. I also listed out the tasks to complete for each project, within those blocks.

Somehow, everything got done and I even had time to work on things that cropped up last minute. I also managed to get ahead on some tasks.

Does it make me some kind of geek if I say that this level of productivity excites me?

If I apply this concept to the rest of my weeks, does it mean that I’ll have even more free time? (As of now, I have three/four-day weekends, depending on how I feel.)

But if you know me, you’ll know that the prospect of more free time attracts me because it means more time to work.

“Work is my hobby,” I once said to someone. That’s the advantage of loving what you do.