Reverting Back to My Old Ways

My wife told me, NH is becoming soft. Yes, I have. I have 2 daughters now. I mellow when I see Hello Kitty, unicorns and Play Dohs.

So here I am, reverting back to my old theme. This is awesome.

Migrating to a Foreign Land

A conversation I had with mom. I told her, I want to move out of Malaysia to Melbourne or Perth.

She was shocked. She refused to accept what I said but when the tension was over, she asked me, for good?

“Yes. For good ma. (for now)”

Another shocker for her. She asked me why.

There were many reasons, but the biggest priority is the kids. I want them to grow in an environment where there are allowed to explore their potentials. In this country, we are limited by the syllabus. If you’re out of the line, teachers will smack you right in them. Making sure you obey the rule as if you’re a cadet in a military school.

Also, I don’t no longer think this country is safe. Back in the 80s and 90s, I remembered wandering off the streets and playgrounds, from one taman to another. I came back when it’s getting dark or I got hungry. I believe our kids and future generation are robbed of this freedom. I dare not leave my kids alone to the park.

Mom asked, what my career would be like.

“Anything would do ma. But I guess it’s about time for me explore other worlds, to improve ourselves, to get out of the comfort zone.”, I replied.

Clearly, she was showing signs of disapproval. She’s not liking what she’s hearing. And the conversation ended.

I told her this, because when the time comes, I am leaving. And I really hope my parents understands my decision. As the famous Malay saying, “Jangan jadi katak di bawah tempurung.”

The Birth of #AmiraEdwin

Aisyah was getting Braxton Hicks every now and then, for a few days already. Equipped with additional knowledge from Gentle Birthing, and first hand knowledge giving birth to Sara, we didn’t panic. We waited for the right time.

Aisyah wanted a squatting position, which not many hospital or clinic offers as the doctors say, “it will make my work harder”. We went to several clinics and hospitals prior to the due date, until we found one in Gombak, Gombak Medical Center. It’s her body, she can choose however way befitting her.

On 27th Jan 2016, Aisyah went by herself to do a medical check up. She was strong enough to drive from Shah Alam to Gombak KL. In the evening, she told me the BH was getting intense. We waited out for a while and until the traffic subsided. We left Shah Alam at 8pm after kissing our first born good night. She was confused, but she seems to get the idea.

We arrived about 40 mins later, I floored the Axia as hard as I can in between the surges. This wasn’t the first time driving to the ‘Medical Center’, so it was easy. We were then sent to our room and started unpacking our stuffs.

Around 9.15pm, we called to check on the opening, it was already 9.5 cm. We were directed to the OT. The room was small to say the lease but it was ok. Aisyah resumed the position she wanted, squatting. For the record, squatting was a traditional method of giving birth, even the Ministry of Health endorsed it (but never really practised it). I guess not many were strong enough to squat for hours.

It didn’t take long to see the ring of fire. I saw the baby’s hair. The nurses and docs were in and out of the room, chatty as always. The surges were 5 minutes apart, Aisyah went rogue, pulling everything in her face, including my hair.

Alhamdulillah, after 1 hour of battle, Amira was born. She fell on the bed, head first and it was only Aisyah and me in the room. I called for the doc and nurses. They were happy, I guess they did have to do anything much to do. The tearing was minor but still requires stitching. I did the call for prayers to Amira. She’s a fit baby, 10 mins out of the womb, she tried to roll.

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Around 10.30pm, we were sent to our room. We did have a little accident, where Aisyah tried to shower and passed out midway. I had to carry her back to the bed. Blood were all over the floor, yeahhh,  it was bloody slippery.

day1 amira

Once things have settled down, I sat down and flashed back everything that happened that day. I can’t believe it, I’m a father of two. I tried to fell in love with Amira like I did with Sara, but it didn’t happened. It felt more like a responsibility than unconditional love.

When we got home everyone was elated by Amira’s presence. Everybody wanted a piece of her and we were happy to outsource the dirty works.

Initially, her name is Alayna. It means Princess (Spanish). However, being the pro Arabs like most Malays are, Alayna means “on top of you”. That sounded like the Thai horror movie, “The Shutter”. We went through our notes again, finding the right name. Alas, we settled for Amira. It means ‘leader’ or ‘royal’. It had a good ring to it and it resonated quickly with the family.

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Sara on the other hand, started throwing tantrums, knowing that she’s no longer the attention of the family. She cried often, yelled, throwing things and eventually I had scold her for doing so. It was heartbreaking, I felt like a bad parent but she needed it. The thing with Sara, she’s 2 years and 6 months old, but speaks like a 3-4 year old. It was hard to think she’s still a toddler.

Fast forward to today (2 months since birth), I can finally say, thank God everything went well. And my love for Amira has grown each passing day. I no longer felt I had to share the love between Sara and Amira. Sara has also grown out of her jealousy, she loves her sister.

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9 Reasons Why Malaysian Startups/Businesses Fail

As Asians, the most taboo word is fail. Like failing Math in elementary school (I got a good whipping for this, truth was, I didn’t know how to read Malay). Failure in relationship? Failure in career by getting fired? What ever the failure is, it’s not the end of the world.

In the past few years, I’ve had my share of failures. Almost all were costly as time and money were part of the trade. But there’s always a good thing about a business failure, you come back with vengeance, battle scars and loads of experience. So here’s what I learned:

1. Not Solving Any Problem

To make money, you need to provide a solution to a problem. No one will spend unnecessarily, especially in this age. The problem has to be big, it has to mean something. It has to annoy so much that it affects lifestyle, mood, livelihood, kids etc.

In my new venture, we always ask ourselves, what is it that we’re solving? Again and again. It’s been a year now, and we’re still asking the question. Why? Because we want to make sure what we do matters to our target market.

2. Solving Problem That Doesn’t Matter

Some problems are just too tiny to consider. Have you ever fell for the “forever sharp knife” on TV shopping? Who cares, we already have knives in our kitchen. We don’t exactly need another knife if what we have now is sufficient. Similarly if the problem is too small, no one cares. (BTW, I got IKEA knives, they’re awesome!)

3. Not Understanding Your Target Market

This relates to the previous points, but on a different level. To win a customer, you need to understand what they are going through, what are their pain points, how can you make them sleep better at night, what tickles them and more. The best method to obtain this is by asking your target audience directly. Another method is by ‘stalking them’ on social media (the data is there, use it!). This also helps to cross sell your future products.

4. Obsessed with Your Idea

The most common failure is obsessing over an idea. Let me be frank to you, your idea was already thought of and so does the solution you had in mind. It means nothing if it doesn’t solve any problem except for yours. While standing firm to an idea is important, learn to let go. Trust me, new ideas will arise. If you can’t let go, then do a market validation.

Sometimes the idea is too sophisticated to tell. My experience tells me, if you can’t explain your business in one line, then dude, move on.

5. Positioning or Location

We had this problem when we ran a Kebab stall. The problem we had was not enough traffic was driven to the spanking new mall. As a result we had very little sales and enough to stay afloat. Few months after, we closed. Positioning and location is key in business, online or offline. For online, being on the first page of Google is important and for offline, being accessible by your target market is highly sought.

6. Doing it For the Money

The worst of any kind of business, is doing it for the money. In order to get the best bottom line (profit), you shave right left center top bottom. Doing that hurts the end product. Yes, business will boom, but it will suffer in the long run and hurt your self conscience. Don’t go into business to make money, because once you have it, you don’t care anymore about anything else besides money. Instead have a genuine goal, for one of my startup is “Creating Happy Moments”. So by hook and crook, we have to do this even if it means tightening our belts.

7. Priced Wrongly

I hate to give this example, but look at Tutti Frutti. The first year of business was so well for them, the franchise bloomed like spring-time. Now, every shop I came across had workers with a frown and bored faces. Why? There had no customer and they were overpriced. Once customer got smacked in the face with such a heavy price tag, they never came back. Quantify the problem, price correctly. If you can’t, then model after your competitors.

8. Being Mediocre

This is a Malay dilemma. Open shop whenever pleased. Make something half hearted. Do you think customer will comeback for more? Don’t settle for just enough. If you can push further, do it. Give value to your customer, make them smile for a change.

9. Didn’t Test The Market

One of the most important steps before investing your money into business is ample research, by ample I mean testing the market. If you have a business idea, always test it with your target market. The Managing Director I worked for taught me the easiest way to test the market is to ask/say the following thing.

  1. Reaffirm with your target customer about their problem.
  2. Describe how are you going to solve it.
  3. And if you build it, would they buy it?

So there you go, 10 years of my experience. I might comeback to add more, but this is it for now. So to businesses and startup out there good luck. Remember we’re here not here to compete, but to compliment. If you have a business, do share on the comments below. I’d love to know what you do.

“It’s better to try and fail, then fail to try”

The Poopy Story

It was her usual time of the hour. As her bowel lined up to the stars, she took a poop.

This normally happened around 830 pm, so we were ready. We wanted to potty train at such an early age so we can reduce the amount of diapers used daily. *cough cheapskate*

When she’s done with her business, she’d run to us and tell us, “mama, Sara yak ke?”. The tone was a question, just like we’d normally ask her, but I can assure you that’s a statement. She always messes up the tone, but it doesn’t matter, we’ll fix that later.

After dinner, we (Aisyah and me) took our time to share about each others day and talk about smoked duck (it cant be help, she’s craving for it). We heard Sara defecating at the corner of the room. It’s ok, we’ll clean her up once we’re done with the dishes. Sara yelled from the living room, “Mama, Sara yak ke?”.

Running across the hall with only her tshirt on. OMG. She took her pants and diaper off! Her stool was everywhere on her ‘cheeks’. Luckily there were no bricks nor skid marks on the floor. I quickly grabbed her and ran upstairs.

Giggling while I rushed her to the loo, in her tiny little voice, she said. “Abah, tima kaceh.”

I took my time to respond, knowing that the moment will end and she’ll outgrow time faster than my beard. One day, I’ll be an old man and she might be cleaning up after me. We do not need to be thanked, but it always nice to feel appreciated.

I whispered to her, “You’re welcome, always.”