Default choice

If I'm returning to a restaurant, usually I'll go for what I like best. This is will be the default choice unless i'm returning more often which I'll then flip flop between a few of my top choices. My reasons are rather simple.

  1. Saves time - It can take a while to decide on what to eat, so going for the default choice gives me more time enjoying the food and less time deciding.
  2. Safe choice - Being the best choice usually guarantee that I'll have an enjoyable and tasty meal. Yes, I'm not that adventurous simply because I hate sucky food.
  3. I get the best they offer - My choices are usually the restaurant's signature dishes. This means I'm ordering something they are really good at, at least to me. No reason to go KFC and have the fish burger. Go for their best meal. (hint: chicken)

The caveat here is obviously I had to go through some of the food before discovering my favourite. But once I found it, it'll be my default choice until something change.

What about you? Do you have default choice or you prefer to try something every time? Or maybe it's dependent on the current alignment of the stars?

The convenient choice

How often to you buy something or choose a certain business because it's more convenient for you? Maybe it's nearer or maybe your friend works there. Some businesses benefit from being more convenient to their customers. People tend to go for lunch near their office as it saves them time and effort, as long as the food is decent.

The most common factor of convenience is the location. If you open an art supplies store right beside an art school, you give the students more reason to buy from you simply because you're the nearest one available.

Another way to be more convenient is to provide extra value-added services. I would order from a restaurant with free-delivery even though there's another one right downstairs assuming both serve equally good food.

I think it's worthwhile to try to improve your convenience factor of your business to attract more customer. It's also a great way to beat your competitors by being the more convenient choice.

Doing it for yourself

Many people envy those who are self-employed. The reason is that they are working for themselves and not for others. But that's not entirely true. Whether you are your own boss or working for someone else, you are still doing it for yourself.

Regardless who you are reporting to, every decision and action you make will first and foremost affect yourself. If you think you are playing it safe and just doing your job, then that's the path you chose for your career.

If you're doing it to serve others, ultimately you will get recognition and respect from others. You can't do something without affecting yourself.

You'll start to enjoy the things you do as soon as you realize that doing it for yourself. Given a choice, who wouldn't want the best for themselves?

Helping strangers

There are many ways you could make life better for others even for a moment. You could offer your seat to an old lady in the bus or give directions to a tourist on the street. But where do you draw the line? It's fine when someone asks for directions or help to move something. But if a stranger asks for cash, the answer is no. It might be mean but the real world isn't exactly that nice either.

If it's an emergency where he needed to get something, I'll rather buy the item than giving cash directly to him. But either way it's a tough call and I don't the right answer.

Sometimes your decision to help a stranger can be a matter of life and death, yet more often than not, they are probably just preying on your altruism. Under what circumstances are you willing to help a stranger?

Lose small, win big

In many situations, you'll noticed that all you need is one big break that pulls you out of a string of failures. The huge win that wipes out all your losses. You see this in investments, businesses and games. But of course, it also works the other way round more often than it should. You probably know someone who lost everything in a bad bet. After all, losing is part of the game so someone got to take the hit.

It is best to expect losses and aim to reduce its damage but Nassim Nicholas Taleb took it a step further and used the inevitability of losing as his strategy to win big. He planned his investment strategy around the fact that sooner or later a financial disaster would occur and aims to cash in on that.

He used a financial instrument known as options where you can make bets against the future of the stock price. You can obtain options to buy or sell stocks at a certain price. He systematically purchase options to buy stocks at a price which is most likely higher than it will be during a market crash.

Obviously the market doesn't crash that often, so most of the time he is slowly losing money. (due to the transaction cost of trading options) But when the day comes, he will exercise his options to recoup his losses and more. He limits the money he can lose while leaving the opportunity to make a much larger amount.

I think this is probably the best strategy you can ever adopt. You should try apply it not only to your investment portfolio but to everything in your life. We can't prevent failures and losses. So losing is fine as long as it's small but remember to leave the door open for yourself to win big.

Make a choice

When  I started my own business, I took on any jobs and gigs I could find. It's hard when you are starting out so obviously I try to get all the help I can. Then at some point, I realized that some of the things I'm doing just isn't profitable and led me no where. All they did was take up my time and prevented me from doing the ones that actually matters.

So I decided it was time to define the scope of jobs I will take on and those that I won't. I made the choice to focus only on web development which I have the most experience with.

It worked out well because I'm doing things that I'm good at and also enjoy. It also allowed me to focus on my own self-improvement. Now that I know what I want, I know exactly where I need to improve myself.

The other choice I made was to only work with clients that are worth it. Sometimes, you'll meet clients that are impossible to please and it is best to walk away from the project. But when you find one that's a keeper, you should do whatever it takes to keep it going.

Realize that you need to make a choice in order to change something and whether it changes for the better or worse is where the real challenge it.

The Alternative

Have you ever gone to your favourite restaurant or bar to find out that it's full and decide to go for the one next door? There are many businesses that position themselves to be the alternative after the popular choice. In order to be the next best thing for your customer, you need to be easily accessible and ideally be at the same place as the best. This is why you see businesses of the same type tend to open next to each other. It makes the location the place to be and improves patronage for everyone in the area.

Obviously, it would be better to be the best in your trade if possible but sometimes being the alternative is a viable strategy as long as you are at the right place at the right time.

Taking sides

In politics, you'll often see parties taking the opposite sides not to stand for what they believe in but rather just to not be on the same side as their opponent. They are taking sides for the sake of taking sides. I'm all for doing things differently and going against the status quo as long as that's what you truly believe in. However, just because you don't agree with someone doesn't mean they are your opponents. There can be more than 2 sides in a fight.

Maybe we are heavily influenced by sports where it's always between 2 opposing teams or by the media that tend to over-generalize the demographics, we tend to believe that if you are not on the winning side then you are on the losing side.

I think that it's important to be able to take sides and make a stand for your ideology, principle or argument. Just remember that there can be more than 2 sides and the other sides aren't always your enemy.

Learn to pick your fights

Not gun fights or fist fights but goals and tasks that you decide to challenge in your everyday life. You can't just get yourself into every fight and expect to win. Here's some tips to prepare yourself for the next challenge.

  1. Divide and Conquer - Split the objective into smaller ones. This should be intuitive. You are not Ip Man so stop trying to fight 10 battles at the same time.
  2. Henchmen first, Boss last - Like in movies, the protagonist always fight his/her way through the henchmen before confronting the boss. Complete the simpler tasks first to build up confidence.
  3. Skip some fights - There is no reason to fight every single battle out there. It is wise to only fight those you need to and let your sidekick handle the rest.
  4. Don't bring a knife to a gun-fight - Make sure you are well-equipped. You are going to need all the help you can get.
  5. It's okay to run - If it's just too hard, retreat and fight another day. Go for something that's easier first (Rule #2). Don't waste time on fights that you can't win (yet).

If you keep these tips in mind, you'll never lose a fight again.

Rework your business

The guys from 37signals just released their new book REWORK. I'm hoping to get my hands on one soon. It's a compilation of essays that give you great new insights on how you should run your business. A must read for every entrepreneur out there.

In the real world, you can't have over a dozen employees spread out across eight different cities over two continents. In the real world, you can't attract millions of customers without any salespeople or advertising. In the real world, you can't reveal your formula for success to the rest of the world. But we've done all those things and prospered. The real world isn't a place, it's an excuse. It's a justification for not trying. It has nothing to do with you. - Excerpt from REWORK

If you would like to know more about the book. check out the REWORK manifesto on Changethis.