Practice hard. Practice well

Practice hard. Practice well.

When I started writing this blog in 2003, I was not a strong writer. Sixteen years later, I am a better writer. Doing something every day is the best way to improve at something.

I think everyone can improve at things they are not good at and become competent, even excellent, at them. I am not going to win a Pulitzer Prize, but I can write well and have become a strong communicator by practicing it routinely. Practice really works.

It has been over 10 years of practice for my relationship. Pretty damn solid now. On to the next thing to practice.

Healthy solitude

Nicholas Bate, always a favourite

With healthy solitude comes profound insight. Seek more of the former and make life easier.

As work rushes on, and I overwork again. It’s the quiet and alone moments, when time is allocated to sit still and pat the needy cat, that some form of clarity awakens. Then I realise that the path is so clear.

As the meaningless options fade away.

What is complex becomes simple.

Is your business a junction or a destination

What is your business about?

Yahoo grew as a place to stay. They built one service after another, hoping for time on site.

Google, on the other hand, began as a place to visit when you wanted to go somewhere else. That’s their entire business model. Time on site wasn’t as important to them as the accuracy of their direction. Come to leave.

Facebook, on the other hand, is organized to be a one-way street, with people staying on the site as long as possible.

Of course, it’s not simply web sites that work this way. Either we organize for junctions and trajectory, or we build our place as a destination, physically or as metaphor.

Playing to your strengths as a leader doesn’t make you a good boss – in fact, it can make you a bad boss.

So, you have to ask yourself: Are your actions feeding your team, or your ego?

Focus on what you’re good at, and the team never becomes good at it themselves. Focus on what you’re good at, and you never see things for what they really are.

Resist viewing your strengths as the only way to make the team strong. Resist falling in love with the short-term results of doing what feels good to be doing.

Find someone who will tell you the truth. Your co-founder, your coworkers. Ask them if what you’re doing that you’re good at is really helping move the team forward.

Our strengths are our weakness, our weakness our strengths.

Also, the entire Know Your Team blog is amazing.

Tracking job applications for metrics

In a past iteration of tracking job applications, I kept an uber long note in Simplenote, with simple information like:

  1. Job title
  2. Company
  3. Link to job posting
  4. Date of application

In this iteration of applications, I decided something had to change and decided to spreadsheet the applications. Since the Internetz has probably done it, I decided to not start afresh.

Zen Ren, from Zapier, really knocked it out of the park with this fantastic article.

The biggest thing I changed this time was realizing that, much like a real job, I had to track my work and pin down what was efficient for me and what wasn’t, and keep re-adjusting my strategy. Reading a hundred guides on how to write a standout resume or kill it at an interview wasn’t going to help me if my application strategy was all wrong.

By focusing on the tactics I was using and tracking numbers, I could quickly fine-tune what was working and cut out tasks that were wasting time with no results.

As for me, I had a lot of soft skills across diverse industries, which can be tough. Because of this, I had three resumes that I had tailored for the three different kinds of jobs I was applying to: Sales Management, Business Operations Analyst, and Tier 1 Support.

Amen. I too was applying to different types of roles that suited different resumes, and yet it was getting really time consuming to tailor my resume to every single role.

Hope this helps someone and good luck to you too!

3 Simple (NOT) Things to Remember in a Relationship

Being in a relationship for 12 years and counting didn’t seem big deal to me.

What led me to write this post was because friends, acquaintances and strangers started mentioning that we were such a sweet, strong and #couplegoals, type of couple.

Even a Grab driver started chatting with us and commented that we seemed to be on our honeymoon. At that time, we were 11 years together.

No expert, but I’ve been asked for relationship advice (Sidenote: /facepalm). Over the years, the advice has became simpler.

1. Commitment

Believing in the relationship and saying yes to it everyday, not just the wedding day. Saying yes, when the other party says no; saying yes, through all difficulties. That commitment will help both parties be open to the next points.

2. Communication

Such a cliche, but so true. Communicate as much as possible. We almost overshare. It has helped us to build processes, structures and trust with each other. From shared calendars (dutifully updated) to finances, goals, especially unhappiness with each other.

3. Acceptance

This has definitely been a struggle for me, maybe not so much that Other Half, due to our different personalities. When I catch myself saying or thinking “can’t you do xxx”, I try to take a step back and appreciate the other things that he does. Definitely a work in progress!

We work at this relationship every single day. We’re almost exact opposites, so disagreements are a given.

With practice, it gets easier, and what you see is the fruits of that labour!

PS: Lessons from our personal relationship has helped me to translate to making friend and work relationships work.

2019 Spreadsheet for Savings Accounts + Rebate Credit Card Combo (Singapore)

v1.01. Updated 20 Jan 2019

Click to view spreadsheet

 

The Other Half did up a spreadsheet to estimate which savings account and rebate card combo best suits our spending pattern.

We prefer rebate and interest over points as we get our returns sooner, and have the freedom to swap to better plans as needed, without feeling tied down by points.

This spreadsheet was done after reading through extremely lengthy (and sometimes confusing) terms and conditions from various Singapore banks.

Hope this helps someone!

Comments activated for feedback.

8 questions to ask at job interviews

This post is for me to archive general interview questions that I tend to ask, and maybe someone will find them useful!

So I’ve been going to job interviews these past few years. Interviews give me such a bag of nerves that when it comes to “do you have any questions?”, I just remember 1 or 2 of the questions that I had prepared.

As I get more comfortable and confident going for interviews, now I have no qualms about fishing out my notebook or phone (depending on where the prepared questions were noted down), whilst saying, “give me a moment to check my questions”.

The questions are loosely organised in chronological order as the interview progresses. Meaning that questions that should be asked earlier are listed first.

1. What does your ideal candidate look like?

A job description has so many requirements. Generally, interviewers will list their key requirements in response to this question. Then you’ll be able to cite relevant experiences that directly fit the role.

2. What is the growth path of this role?

This shows that you’re keen on staying and growing with the company for awhile (which I sure hope you are!). Also it helps you figure out if the planned growth path suits your long-term goals. If not, there’s still time to communicate that to the interviewer and see if there could be an alternative growth path.

3. What are the short and long-term plans of the department/company?

This is different from question #2. This shows that you’re interested in the environment around you (you better be cos it definitely has an impact on you!). You can also see if the plans tie in with your growth. If it does, communicate it with the interviewer so this shows that you’re personally invested and motivated in being successful in this role.

4. What is your working style?

Being able to work well with your boss is so important! When you get to talk to your direct reporting manager, it’s good to find out what they’re like. If you’re similar, or appreciate their style, tell them! It builds rapport. Also, bosses, like anyone are just looking for people that they can work well with.

5. What is your managerial style?

This is different from question #4. If they have experience managing staff, it will be evident after this question. You’ll be able to tell how they care, how they lead and how they expect work to be done.

6. Could you share any concerns that you have about me regarding this role?

Such an important question! Ask this towards the end of the interview. Then you’ll be able to (hopefully) address any lingering doubts about you.

7. What are the next steps of the interview process and the expected timeline?

This will help you manage your expectations on how short or long the interview process will be. You’ll also know when to ask HR or the recruiter for updates without being pushy.

8. Do you have any feedback for me?

I asked this question on a whim when I felt a really good rapport with the interviewer. The answer was invaluable. Please ask this when possible!

Good luck!

PS: I can’t emphasise the usefulness of bringing a notebook/scribble pad to an interview. An interviewer suggested using “pieces of paper” to help with organising thoughts (after I asked “do you have any general feedback”), I acted on it in a subsequent interview, and used it to organise an answer to an on-the-spot scenario-based question. So good!

PPS: After writing this post, I realised that I could have done so much better at past interviews. Then again, that’s why I blog – to reflect, learn and grow.