Meet the Dog Whisperer of Singapore

24 Feb
Meet the Dog Whisperer of Singapore

Hi everyone, I’ll like to introduce to you the dog whisperer of Singapore, Bernard Lau! He’s no stranger to me as I have known him for more than half of my life.

Bernard and I are primary school friends and I noticed his social media feeds were mostly travelling pictures and videos. I’ve always wondered what he was doing and it’s only when I saw this video of a mannequin challenge he did that I found out he’s the founder of Berdhouse.

As a dog lover myself, this video immediately caught my attention. We managed to catch up recently and that’s when I got to know in detail about the work that he does.

I’m super happy that he readily agreed to do this interview so let’s hear from the man himself on how he founded his company and created the lifestyle most people can only dream about.

1) Hey Bernard! I know the both of us need no introduction but for the benefit of our readers, share with us who you are and what is it that you do for a living?

Hi. My name is Bernard and I am the founder of Berdhouse.

Berdhouse provides a range of pet services that includes training, boarding, and grooming. Our company also carries a range of products carefully selected and tested to ensure that the products are ideal for your dog.

The focus is on our training/boarding programme and we specialise in puppies. This programme consists of your dog undergoing basic obedience command training and the rehabilitation of any undesirable dog behaviour.

Here’s a short video of our puppy introductory course:

2) How did Berdhouse come about and what inspired you to go into the dog training business?

Berdhouse was a project of mine that I did back in university for an entrepreneurship module during my schooling days.Upon graduation and after a short stint in the financial industry, I decided to put that business plan into action.

My first dog, Hiro, was what inspired me to start dog training. I wanted her to be able to go off the leash and run freely like how every dog should. However, I still had to keep her and others around safe. Therefore, I began giving her obedience training.

Here’s a video of Hiro and I going through some routine training:

3) Is it difficult training dogs?

It really isn’t hard to train dogs. All you need is clear communication. That’s why patience and consistency will play a huge role.

I’d like to emphasize on the importance of starting training young. Apart from being able to bond with your dog through training, many potential behavioural problems like over excitement, aggression, fearfulness and so on can be prevented. It’s also the ideal time as they have a higher learning capability at a younger age.

It’s my goal to help educate new dog owners to avoid potential mistakes from being made. After all, prevention is better than cure!

4) What’s your advice when it comes to pet ownership and obedience training?

The most important rule I will always share is to reinforce discipline before showering them with love and affection. This will ensure a healthy relationship between owner and dog.

For example, when coming home to your dog after a long day, it’ll be common to see your dog jumping on you, seeking your attention. Instead of rewarding such unwanted behaviour, command your dog to sit and wait patiently, calm them down before giving them the affection they seek.

5) Any quick tips and tricks for new pet owners who’s having a hard time trying to train their dog?

When having a tough time training your dog, the best way is to use enticing treats to capture your pooch’s attention and communicate clearly. Personally, I use the clicker training method for that purpose.

Another tip is to keep taking small, progressive steps when training your dog. Don’t be afraid to push the limits but also do take a few steps back when you’re not making any progress.

My final tip is to train in a calm mindset. If you ever feel frustrated that the training is not making any progress, stop and try again later.

6) I’ve been following your Instagram for a while now and see that you’ve been travelling quite frequently, how do you do it?

I’m fortunate enough to have the opportunity to run my own business, which means that I’m able to plan my own schedule. The travelling you see is only one part of my life. What you don’t see is that at times, I work really hard, working daily consecutively for weeks and at times, even months. During work, there are no weekends or public holidays.

By working hard, it allows me to save up and go for extended trips to unwind and do what I love to reward myself.

7) Wow, that’s interesting… Maybe share with us what were some of the challenges faced when you first started out, for both business and travelling and how did you overcome them?

When I first started out, I was fortunate enough to get an overwhelming demand for my services. Being new and inexperienced, I took on many jobs and overworking myself. I worked to exhaustion to meet deadlines in order to get results delivered.

Learning from this, I hired someone to assist me in my job.It helped and subsequently, I planned my schedule very carefully to ensure that I don’t take on more than what I can handle.

One challenge I face when travelling are my dogs. As I’m unable to bring them along, I’ve to find someone to care of them for me. Duration of my trips also have to be considered as I am unable to leave them for too long.

8) Where are you planning to travel this year and what’s your main goal for Berdhouse to achieve in 2017?

This year, I have already travelled to Myanmar and Cambodia. Bali and Lombok has been planned and I also aim to visit either New Zealand or Nepal too. As for what I would like Berdhouse to achieve this year, it’s to expand my premises and get someone to assist me in my work so I can increase my capacity.

9) In your own words, what does it mean to “Love the Life You Live and Live the Life You Love”?

In my own words, it means to be thankful and appreciative of what you are blessed with and do what makes you happy.

Greatest Takeaway
Although we’ve been friends for so long, we still learn a great deal from each other. From this interview, I’ve learned that there’s a price to pay for the lifestyle that we desire to live.

There’s always two sides to a coin.

Before reconnecting with Bernard, I envied that he was able to travel so frequently and visit so many nice places on long, extended trips. After this interview with him, I finally understood that there are sacrifices to be made that people don’t see or hear about often.

Thanks Bernard for giving us a sneak peek into the life of a dog trainer and avid traveller. All the best to you and your furry friends 🙂

If you want to stay up to date with Bernard’s upcoming adventures and see nice pictures of his canines, you can follow him on Instagram @asfreeasaberd

Lastly, Bernard did mention that he’s currently looking for dog trainers so if this is something of interest to you, feel free to contact him! I’m sure it’ll be loads of fun 😉


Bernard Lau
Founder of Berdhouse

Bernard Lau Profile PictureBernard is a dog lover that shares a wonderful relationship with his dogs. He wishes that all pet owners are able to have that with their canine friends. Certain pet behavioural issues can sometimes cause a strain in this relationship so he hopes to help educate dog owners on how to prevent or resolve such problems.

As a dog trainer, Bernard sees himself like an educator. He feels a sense of accomplishment whenever there’s progress from his students at the end of the day. He also feels rewarded when owners express their gratitude and sees the relationship between dog and owner improve. Bernard’s hobbies also include fitness and photography.

Berdhouse

Berdhouse LogoFounded in February 2016, Berdhouse is the one stop solution centre for all pet needs.They provide a range of relevant services to enhance the lives of both pets and owners which includes dog training, dog care, and dog grooming. Berdhouse’s mission is to deliver top quality service to clients, giving them a peace of mind while enjoying the convenience and efficiency.

Website: http://www.theberdhouse.com/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/berdhouse

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Starting a Business During an Economic Recession

17 Feb
Starting a Business During an Economic Recession

KC is one of the first few business associates I’ve met when I started my entrepreneurial journey. We got to know each other through a networking event and it was around that time when he launched his business.

He supported me in many ways when I first started out and I’ve learned a lot from him. Aside from just being a business associate, he’s also a good friend of mine and we’ve stayed in touch over the years. He’s also one of the featured entrepreneurs in my book.

It’s with great honour that I get to introduce him to you today through an interview we did on starting a business during an economic recession. He started his business in the 2008 financial crisis and I’m sure all of us can learn a thing or two from his insights and experiences.

1) So KC, share with our readers who you are and what is it that you do for a living?

Sure! My name is KC and I started my training business in 2008 teaching people how to create and market their websites online. I’ve been an adjunct lecturer in Singapore Polytechnic in the web development area. In addition, I also conducted workshops in NUSS (National University of Singapore Society), CSC (Civil Service Club) and other organisations. Since 2014, I’ve shifted most of my focus to online training. Now, I have twelve online courses with more than 30,000 students enrolled.

2) What were some of the challenges faced when you started your business and how did you overcome them?

During the 2008 economic crisis, most businesses don’t want to spend as much and prefer doing barter trading instead. I started my business doing barter trades to gain exposure and connections.

Looking back, I think the most difficult part is breaking through my own mindset to adopt a business mindset. As I was an engineer before starting my business, I tend to think from an employee’s mindset, not from the employer mindset. In order to be successful and profitable, I have learned the hard way that we have to unlearn the old and relearn the new.

To overcome this challenge, I decided to upgrade my skill, specifically in terms of selling. I realised that if I can’t sell, I will not have any income at the end of each month. I attended a lot of workshops and trainings to practice and learn sales techniques. I also attended networking events and joined BNI (Business Network International) that eventually referred me deals to keep my business profitable.

Regarding mindset, it was hard to shift from an employee to an employer in a matter of months. It took me a long time to realise this. I’ll say that by getting to know business owners and spending more time with them has helped me shift the way I think over the years.

3) All of us know that we’re heading towards an economic recession this year. Will you recommend someone to start a business during this period? Why or why not?

Yes, I will recommend someone to start a business, regardless of good or bad times. I recalled that my mentor Wendy Kwek once told me that if I can make money during bad times, I can definitely make money during good times! However, you might not be able to make money in bad times if you only know how to make money in good times.

I believe starting a business in bad times is a better timing than starting a business in the good times because it will give you maximum opportunity to learn from the beginning. If you can survive the hard times, you’ll definitely do great in your business!

4) What advice do you have for someone who’s planning to start their own business but don’t know where to begin?

For this question, I have two suggestions to make;

First, why do you want to start this business? If your answer is money, then you’ll probably want to hold on to your idea first. Based on my experience over the years, people who focused on money when they started eventually found themselves chasing after all kinds of opportunities when they are in this vast marketplace. Instead, the main reason when you first start a business should be on serving a need or a current gap in the market.

Second, get to know a lot of people who are running their own business. One of the good ways you can do so is to attend networking events. Having a wide network is essential in running a profitable business. You can start by searching up websites such as meetup.com or eventbrite.com for events near your area.

5) Any tips or tricks for those of us who are already in business? 

One tip I have for people who are already in business is to always remember why you are in business. Many people often forget the reason why they started in the first place.

I’ve heard of many people saying that they want freedom so they started their own business but when I see them running from place to place for appointments and getting sick and tired with all the projects, I am puzzled and wonder if they still remembered what they said in the past.

I believe most business owners started out not just for money but for but for the people around them. I recommend existing business owners to spend some time on a regular basis asking themselves if their current business has allowed them to achieve what they wanted in the beginning. If not, they should work toward getting closer to what they want and not further away.

6) What are some of the plans you intend to achieve for yourself and your company in 2017?

For my main training business, I am content that it’s performing well in the online market. I have students signing up my courses every day through Udemy.

This year, I’ll be working on a new business called WebBuddy that I’ve started with my wife Rachael. We help small businesses maintain their websites and our plan is to actively reach out to them. From our knowledge, we realised that some are really frustrated over their websites and we hope to eliminate their frustrations so they can focus on other important parts of their business.

For myself, I’ve been taking a part-time course on Chinese Dietician Traditional Medicine in Singapore College of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It’s been my interest to learn how to use Chinese herbs and natural food to improve our body’s immune system. This year, I’m not only going to learn but also to put into practice by cooking some meals for my family.

7) In your own words, what does it mean to “Love the Life You Live and Live the Life You Love”?

I believe most of us have full control over our own lives. We must design our lives to suit ourselves. By first planning and designing our lives, we can live the life we love.

For example, before I started my business in 2008, I visualised myself doing what I want to do every day. It’s the lifestyle that I wanted to pursue, not the money. Today, I’m content that I’m living the lifestyle I envisioned back then.

For some people, if you really have no choice or options in life, what you can do is to love your current life. Since you can’t have the life you want, might as well change your mindset and love your life regardless of how it is now. I can assure you that once you start to love every moment of your life, it will start to change for the better.

Greatest Takeaway
From this interview, I’ve learned that anyone can still start a business regardless of the current economic situation. What’s more important is to have the correct mindset and the discipline to constantly remind ourselves why we started doing business in the first place.

Thanks KC for taking time out of your busy schedule for this interview! I’m sure all of us have gained valuable knowledge from what you’ve shared. I wish you and Rachael success in all that you do, especially with the new venture both of you are working on. Have an amazing year ahead! 😀


KC Tan
Founder, WebSprout Academy Pte Ltd

KC Tan Profile Picture

During his university days at NTU, KC challenged himself to build an online game from scratch through self-learning – an important milestone that he himself did not imagine would eventually lead him to his business today – WebSprout Academy. KC successfully created his own game called Absolute III in 2005, which attracted hundreds of regular players from the United States. Much to his surprise one day, KC received an email from a company that offered to pay him for advertising space in his game! This got KC excited about the tremendous potential of internet business and inspired him to explore the unlimited possibilities of generating income through the Internet.

Within a year of research and learning, KC mastered the techniques of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and successfully helped several small businesses to rank their websites on the first page of Google and Yahoo without them having to pay for advertising. This sparked an idea in KC that he could use his knowledge and skills to provide a valuable service in the marketplace! With this in mind, KC started his first business – WebSprout Consulting – in 2008, specialising in providing web development and SEO services for his clients.

In the course of running his business, KC discovered his growing passion in training and endeavoured to bring his knowledge to more people, helping them take their first step in internet entrepreneurship. He went on to incorporate his company, marrying his interest in training with the years of invaluable experience that he had accumulated in internet business.

Today, WebSprout Academy Pte Ltd is a company that provides WordPress (website creation) and SEO training to business owners, sales professionals and individuals who want to generate an income online. KC personally trained more than a thousand individuals and professionals in internet business and SEO at institutions and organisations including Singapore Polytechnic, National University of Singapore Society (NUSS), ITE, Civil Service Club, Social Enterprise Association, Compact Singapore and Singapore Manufacturers’ Federation. He conducts specialised training for property agent teams from Knight Frank and PropNex as well.

KC is also one of the few trainers in Singapore who is certified by Google in the area of Google Analytics. He is proficient in helping companies to enhance and improve their websites so that they can achieve greater sales conversion online.

On a personal note, KC enjoys reading self-development books and watching inspirational movies. He is a nature-lover and finds joy in taking nature walks and spending quality time with his lovely wife, Rachael. In his own free time, he also likes to go jogging and enjoys a good game of badminton with his friends – one of his favourite sports since his secondary school days.

Together with his team of trainers and associates, KC’s life mission is to bring happiness to people by teaching them a way to make a living through the Internet!Websprout Academy Logo

WebSprout Academy Pte Ltd specialises in providing Internet Marketing training to the public and corporate sector. Their aim is to educate and help people achieve an alternative source of income in this changing economy.

Core Training Modules:

  • Website Creation
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Google Analytics
  • Email Relationship Marketing
  • Mobile Apps Development
  • Internet Business Entrepreneurship

Some of the Organisations Trained:

  • Singapore Polytechnic
  • National University of Singapore Society (NUSS)
  • Social Enterprise Association
  • Compact Singapore
  • Singapore Manufacturers’ Federation
  • Knight Frank Property
  • PropNex

Website: http://www.websproutconsulting.com
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/websproutacademy/

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A 938LIVE Radio Interview: The Beginning of an Entrepreneur’s Journey

7 Feb
The Beginning of an Entrepreneur's Journey

Had the privilege of being on 938LIVE for a radio interview with Keith de Souza, sharing on his show about the beginning of an entrepreneur’s journey.

Joining me is Lujian and Aurora, two of my business associates I brought along to share their journey as well.

Lujian is a first year student at a local Polytechnic and the President of Alp while Aurora just left the corporate world to pursue starting her very own Social Enterprise.

From this radio interview, I hope you can gain some insights to what it’s like starting out 🙂

 

Keith de Souza: Home base coming up in just a little while, we delve into the realm of non-profits and find out why social entrepreneurs are taking the road less travelled.

It’s coming up in about two minutes and these are all Singapore created, originated and hopefully, like we say, non-profits not to make profits but they can, and they do! So we’re going to find out from three social entrepreneurs this morning how they got into the world of non-profits. Stay with us, up in two minutes.

(Traffic Update and Commercials)

Keith de Souza: This is home base on 938 LIVE and we are speaking with three social entrepreneurs this morning about their foray into the world of non-profits; why did they choose the road less travelled in this day and age?

Joining us this morning is Ranford Neo, Founder of Storyaire. We are also joined by Lujian, he is the founder of Alp and we’ve got a very lovely lady, Aurora Kuang. She is in the process of starting her own Social Enterprise. We’re going to find out what that is… We’ve got a snippet, environmental! But let’s speak with Ranford. Ranford, Lujian and Aurora, a very good morning….

All: Good morning Keith!

Keith de Souza: Let’s talk about Storyaire first.

Ranford Neo: Sure. First of all, I want to thank you so much for having me back on your show again, it’s really great.

Keith de Souza: It’s my pleasure.

Ranford Neo: Storyaire came about through this idea that I actually published my book about three to four years ago…

Keith de Souza: At the age of 21?

Ranford Neo: Yeah, that’s right! Up till today people still ask me, “Ranford, why did you publish your book? What inspired you to do that?” And I share with them it’s because at that time, I was really passionate about entrepreneurship.

So I said, “Hey, why not kill two birds with one stone?” Write a book about it and I get to learn about entrepreneurship. At the same time, boost my credibility as a published author. That’s where it all came about.

Storytelling – What makes us unique as humans is our ability to tell stories and what better way to communicate and connect with each other than telling a story? I mean, all of us enjoy listening to a good story now and then, right?

Keith de Souza: Indeed. So, I have to ask you… You have been in this business for a while right now, are you making money or not?

Ranford Neo: I’m still starting out. Making money… Usually my strategy is, and I don’t mind sharing with your listeners an insider tip and it’s this thing called, making money with no money.

So how do you actually do that? How do you actually make money with no money? It’s usually though this thing called sponsorships; get people to come in to support you first. Maybe through preorders and then from there, develop your idea.

Keith de Souza: So isn’t it difficult? Making money with no money? When you are starting out with no track record, how do you do something like that?

Ranford Neo: That’s a very good question and I get that question all the time. I think it’s about this thing called testing your idea. People always say, “Ready, Aim, Fire” but I always believe you have to, “Ready, Fire, Aim”. Put yourself out there, throw your ideas out there and don’t be afraid of people rejecting you, giving you the “No’s” because it refines your ideas.

I believe that people always put their money where their mouth is. I don’t mean to be crude but when they actually listen to your idea and believe in what you are doing, they will definitely pay you first. This is the concept of “Sell First, Buy Later” that has worked perfect for me.

Keith de Souza: You know what’s very inspiring this morning is that all of you are extremely young, taking the road less travelled and willing to take the risk. Let’s speak with Lujian. Lujian is the President of Alp, it’s an investment portal I believe, correct me if I’m wrong Lujian.

Lujian: It’s not really a portal it’s a leaning platform for us to share information with the public and our readers. Information ranging from basic investment knowledge to a more in depth analysis in terms of the stock market; companies that we feel are worth buying and investing in.

We wanted to change the conventional way of how education is being carried out and how people learn about investment. Usually, you go for a one-time seminar or courses…

Keith de Souza: and someone hooks you in…

Lujian: Yup… and the learning stops there. So what we feel is that learning is a journey, not a destination. We want to grow together with our readers. We really look to teach readers, people who have no idea about investment at all. Start from the basics and really bring our readers along as we progress and grow with them.

Keith de Souza: I’ve seen your website, lots of sponsorship on it as well but when we talk about information, why did you decide to go on the investment information route, given the fact that we are bombarded on a daily basis by information? Do you sieve out the wheat from the chaff, more or less?

Lujian: Yes. How we actually started was because a group of us came together and we really felt that we should start investing at a young age but realised that a common problem was that we don’t have a reliable source of information.

That’s when we decided to try it out ourselves. We actually went on to invest on our own, to really test out our theories. We look into the stock market, analyse on companies that we felt are worth buying. All the report and analysis that are created and published by us are all made by us.

Based on our last year’s record, we actually invested on our own, about six stocks and we have not made a lost so far. That’s why we felt that we want to share this information with everyone so everyone can have a better understanding in terms of which companies are worth buying.

Keith de Souza: We want to find out about your investment strategies in just a moment but let’s speak with Aurora Kuang. Aurora, you are the baby in all of this, you’re taking fledging steps into Social Entrepreneurship. What motivated that decision and what’s the progress?

Aurora Kuang: I’ve actually already worked for a few years, changing from manufacturing to healthcare and the education industry. Every switch, every time I will always ask a common question, “What is the meaning of the job? What impact can I bring, what kind of differences can I bring to others?” It comes to a point where I myself, am also a regular volunteer, both in Singapore and Malaysia.

It exposed me a lot to the outside world and I start to realise that there’s a lot that can be done, both in terms of environment and to the community, to the urban poor including the special needs and the handicapped.

As per last year, I think Stephen Hawkings has been repeatedly stating that as there is further progress in science and technology, it brings new ways that things can go wrong. Right now, we’re actually in a critical moment whereby we have technology that can destroy the planet that we live in without the ability and the capability to escape.

I felt that everyone has a part to play, no matter how small it is. Therefore, I decided that I want to start a Social Enterprise, involving in both environmental; bringing in products and services that will integrate into people’s lifestyle, becomes a good habit and at the same time, create opportunities for the urban poor.

Keith de Souza: So have you got a company up and running already or is it still in the progress?

Aurora Kuang: It’s still in the progress. My team and I thought of a name for the company known as Avoca, which is Evoke, Provoke and Advocate. It kind of combines together to create this name. It’s not finalised yet so we are open to ideas to make it even better. We are also open to ideas to what people wish to see and to be done.

Keith de Souza: So what would the business plan be and who would you be marketing to? If you’re going to make lifestyle, if I were to adopt it, why and how?

Aurora Kuang: Any environmental products like plates and cups actually…

Keith de Souza: So no paper plates, no plastics plates, no Styrofoam?!

Aurora Kuang: Yes, yes! We’re actually looking into that and something that’s biodegradable…

Keith de Souza: And of course this would be marketed not only to Singaporeans because Singaporeans we don’t bury our trash, we burn it!

Aurora Kuang: That is actually another issue because by burning, we are increasing carbon dioxide level. Worldwide right now, we are having the climate change issue, global warming issue… Carbon dioxide level is still constantly increasing. By actually burning, we are still “contributing” in that sense.

Keith de Souza: Our number is 66911938 if you want to get in on the conversation. We’re talking with three social entrepreneurs this morning. Ranford Neo, the man behind Storyaire, we are also speaking with Lujian, he is the President of Alp. They are providing investors with little or no knowledge the way and means in order to get started. Lujian, do you charge for your services?

Lujian: So as of now we don’t because we don’t want people to have the barrier with our readers thinking if we are reliable, whether our source of information is credible. We want to reach out to as many people as possible with this information on starting to invest early, how to invest and what are ways and means around it.

We really don’t want charge and put that barrier between ourselves and our readers. We want to release information that are accurate as well as free to the general public.

Keith de Souza: So are you still just tracking six companies?

Lujian: That was last year. We have some other plans for this year. We are also looking to diversify ourselves towards more of the business connections.

Keith de Souza: What would differentiate your portal from say, other proprietary “value-investor portals”? Because everyone is using this term now, “value investing” these days and you know, “Invest for the long-term, invest in the value of the company…” How different is your company?

Lujian: Okay. First of all, I would say that we are not aiming to earn from our readers so in that sense, we don’t gain anything in terms of giving you the wrong information. The second thing is that whatever we say on our Facebook and website, we actually really go on and do ourselves so we actually try it out.

Keith de Souza: So you do first and then report on it?

Lujian: Sometimes it like that, sometimes we do it simultaneously. That gives our readers a chance to know that the people who are giving the information are doing it as well. We’re taking the risk at the same time when we tell our readers to take the risk.

Ranford Neo: Keith, may I jump in? So just to add on, because I personally know the founder of Alp, I think the big picture… I was very drawn in by their vision, about connecting business, inspiring people. So aside from just an investment portal, where people get all the news and updates, which is very common place, especially for the Singapore market, theirs is about connecting. There’s an entrepreneurship arm, an investment arm. At the end of the day, it’s about connecting people in South East Asia.

For me, I see them as the next, you know, Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn, all rolled into one company! So I was like “Wow, watch out for these guys man, the young guys… They are going to be the next Mark Zuckerbergs of Asia!”

Keith de Souza: Fingers crossed, they might even get bought out and they can live on a yacht somewhere. Speaking about social entrepreneurship this morning with Ranford Neo, Ranford is the man behind Storyaire. Lujian is the president of Alp and Aurora Kuang, in the process of starting an environmental related business.

We’ll come back, talk to Ranford, Lujian and Aurora in just a moment after an update of what’s happening in the world and on the roads of Singapore. Stay with us.

(News and Traffic Update)

Keith de Souza: Back into home base on 938LIVE speaking this morning with social entrepreneurs Ranford Neo, the man behind Storyaire, Lujian, he is the President of Alp and Aurora Kuang is in the process of starting all of this. Aurora, can I ask you why you decided to go the road less travelled… What do your parents have to say about all this?

Aurora Kuang: Because it’s a road less travelled and is pretty unconventional so I would say that emotional support is also very important from family and friends. They didn’t stop me from doing it, especially because I have been regularly volunteering, they already saw that I’m a person that looks into the meaning and making a difference.

Keith de Souza: What did mum and dad have to say, Lujian?

Lujian: As I’m only a poly student, I didn’t dare to tell them at first and it was only some time when they asked me where am I going and what are you so busy with that I realised I can’t keep this from them anymore.

I actually told them and surprisingly, they are very supportive because they think that pursuing what you want to do, making that small little difference, following our dream and creating that difference with just your own effort, it’s actually a good thing to do, especially people who are at my age. They really want to support me and get me going with what I’m doing.

Keith de Souza: I’ve been ignoring Ranford, I apologise…

Ranford Neo: No worries Keith, the limelight is on the both of them today!

Keith de Souza: Indeed. Well, Ranford was in last week, he was a volunteer with Craftpreneurs. And let’s talk, was it a success last week?

Ranford Neo: Oh yes, it was great! I mean, thanks so much for having us. We had Dr Maliki, a lion dance and lots of lots of nice pictures. It was really great, we even had The Straits Times, they picked up the story and the Malay papers, they also picked up the story and did a feature.

Keith de Souza: So let’s talk about Storyaire. If someone tells you “I want to make a business out of storytelling”, did anyone say, “Pardon my colloquialism, manner?”

Ranford Neo: I haven’t got that question yet but usually I’m the one who tell them this. I’d say “Okay, that’s the reason why I actually launch my personal website and Facebook page last month because I’m going to be the human guinea pig of what I’m going to teach.”

So whatever that I’m going teach in the future; how do you craft your story; to build your individual brand or cooperate brand, I’ll be the one who make all the mistakes and share with you what works and what doesn’t work.

Keith de Souza: So, would I be wrong to say, basically your business is also a public speaking platform?

 Ranford Neo: That’s right. It’s more about getting to share the message that means the most to you; the message that’s closest to your heart to your audience. At the same time, bring the people you want to work with together and repel the people you don’t want to work with. So that’s the power of a story!

Keith de Souza: They say, opposite attract. Is that what you are doing, or are you trying to get rid of the opposites?

 Ranford Neo: Get rid? I would say people that you don’t want to work with. I don’t know, actually I’m not sure. It’s more like who you can work with, the chemistry, who can resonate with the message.

I think that is what storytelling is all about. I think in this information age, people are no longer fighting for information acquisition but are facing information overload. So how do you sort out all this information? By telling your story and capturing the hearts of your audience.

Keith de Souza: Where did you draw your inspiration from? Is it from daily life, on how people say, “I’ve got a bunch of employees who are unmotivated and how do I get to get rid of all of them? Or do I start a fire under their chairs?”

Ranford Neo: I think where do I get my inspiration from is daily life, that’s one. At the same time, I’m probably more creative by nature so I usually see things from a different perspective.

So how do I inspire, coming back to your question, to inspire people who are unmotivated? Two ways; at the end of the day, I believe in this philosophy called “live and let live”. So I do my best and of course, you have to do the rest. I do my best to be myself and the best version of myself, I’m also human, but at the end of the day, the ball is back in your courts man, it’s your life, you have to face your own consequences.

Keith de Souza: Indeed. I’m being a bit remiss talking about Alp and of course with Aurora Kuang as well. Lujian, their company vision is to Connect Businesses and Inspire People. They have a website, it is thealpnews.com. They also have a facebook page, head over to facebook and search “Alp Corporation”.

Aurora has Facebook as well, all you have to do is search “Aurora Kuang”. We want to find out from Aurora what challenges have you faced so far? What obstacles have been put in your way? Acceptance, perhaps?

Aurora Kuang: Yes, firstly it’s about acceptance and secondly, we are also looking into an economic downturn period. In terms of financial support, funding are kind of challenging at this moment. Thirdly, we are looking into a dual impact social enterprise right now. Other than making it sustainable, we also have to ensure that the social needs are met. Next we have to look into the expandability and scalability.

Keith de Souza: What about Aurora’s needs? To live, to eat, you know, to pay the rent… Pay the mobile phone bill?!

Aurora Kuang: I guess that will have to be worked out along the way…

Keith de Souza: I mean, I think you are a very brave lady to take the foray into something like this. How long do you think before you can be set and up and running and how long are you going to tap on your own savings?

Aurora Kuang: Maybe about a year?

Keith de Souza: Are you getting outside help for the business at the moment?

Aurora Kuang: Currently, I’m looking into writing in for grants because the government does have some schemes to help social enterprise to get the startup running, especially if they meet social needs.

Keith de Souza: Same question to you Lujian, putting food on the table, how difficult has that been thus far?

Lujian: We have been going on for about almost two years now. The initial phase was pretty difficult for us in terms of how do we sustain ourselves. There are costs everywhere. We started to diversify ourselves and find more sponsorships and other ways to get up and running.

Keith de Souza: A question for all of you, have you ever tried crowd funding?

 Ranford Neo: Crowd funding? I did that for my book. Actually not really crowd funding, this is what we call crowd sourcing. Preorders, sponsorships… It works. But I think in terms of crowd funding, your question is more towards something like a kick-starter. For me personally, no. I’m not too sure about the both of them.

Keith de Souza: We would like to talk with you a whole lot more but I don’t know where the time has gone… If you want more information on Alp, all you have to do is to hit Lujian up at “Alp Corp” at facebook.com, their website is thealpnews.com, lots of investor news and of course if you want to take part in their activities, you can do so.

You can search for Aurora on facebook as well and see if her vision and yours match, perhaps you can help her on her way. Ranford, the man behind Storyaire, wish you all the best, you seem to be doing great at the moment.

Ranford Neo: Your listeners can find me at my website, ranfordneo.com…

Keith de Souza: And of course if you can’t find Ranford then just go to Craftpreneurs at Tanjong Katong, OneKM and knock on the door and say, “I want to find Ranford!”

We are out of time this morning for home base I’m Keith de Souza. Ranford, Lujian and Aurora, thank you so much for making it in, hope you come back and talk to us again. Aurora, come back and talk to us when everything up and running!

All: Thank you Keith!

Keith de Souza: This is home base at 938LIVE, I’m Keith de Souza.

(End of Radio Interview)

There you have it, the beginning of an entrepreneur’s journey 😉

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Three Lessons Learned After Leaving the Financial Industry

26 Jan
Three Lessons Learned After Leaving the Financial Industry

It’s a bittersweet feeling to be writing my letter of resignation so early on in the year and a couple of days before Chinese New Year.

Some will know that I’ve been a financial adviser for the past three years. I embarked on this journey immediately after I finished national service and completed writing my book. The reason why I entered this industry was because I was looking for a platform to apply the knowledge I’ve written on entrepreneurship.

This decision raised many eyebrows, mainly because they didn’t understand why I did so. Many of them asked, “Ranford, I thought you are an entrepreneur? Didn’t you just write a book about entrepreneurship? Why did you choose to work for a company as a financial adviser?”

As a young adult just entering into the working world, I was idealistic, full of zest for life and had huge dreams and aspirations on what I could have done with my newfound knowledge. At one point, I even had the idea of “revolutionising” the industry! I was excited about what I intend to accomplish so what people said fell on deaf ears.

Fast forward to today, the critics and sceptics were right and I was wrong. When I took a close hard look at my job scope, I am just an insurance salesman for a huge multinational company.

I have to admit, the cold hard truth hurts.

Do I see this as a failure? Definitely yes.

But throughout this process, I’ve learned a lot and below are three of the greatest takeaways I’ve gained after leaving the financial industry:

#1: The Importance of Financial Planning

As the famous adage goes, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail” and this is the same for our finances.

Many of us put in the time and effort to plan for our career, family, relationships, goals and dreams in life but few actually sit down and look into personal financial planning.

Maybe it’s a cultural thing, like a taboo to talk about money over the dinner table. Or probably we weren’t brought up being taught about financial literacy.

Whatever the reason may be, financial planning is the cornerstone in which we build the rest of our lives upon. Being equipped with the skill set of helping others plan their finances over the years has taught me a thing or two about planning for mine as well.

#2: Death is the Greatest Equaliser

“Nothing is certain in life except for one thing, that all of us will die one day”. As blunt or crude as it sounds, this is one of the many facts in life.

Death is the greatest equaliser and helps put things into perspective. It doesn’t matter who you are, what your background is or where you come from, all of us will eventually reach the same destination.

This gives me confidence when I speak, knowing that I don’t have to feel inferior to someone else. It also keeps my ego in check and reminds me that all of us are equal in the eyes of nature.

#3: Focus on What’s Most Important to You

As a life insurance salesman, talking about death to prospects and clients on a daily basis got me thinking on the things that matter most to me in life.

“If today were my last day here on this earth, will I die a happy man?”

“If I only had three months to live, will I be doing what I am doing today?”

I’m not sure if you can relate but as I grow older, I become more self conscious about how people see me, what I’m expected to do and achieve at my age, what society expects of me etc.. and the list goes on. Self doubt slowly creeps in and I always think twice, if not even three times before doing anything.

However, the greatest fear that I have is not of failure but to come to the end of my life realising that I haven’t truly lived. This was the main epiphany that gave me the final push to put myself out there and give it my all again.

Moving forward, I intend to pick up from where I left off three years ago, keeping in mind what I’ve learned through this journey as important life lessons.

For those of you who are still in this profession, you have my upmost respect. I hope this article can give you some conversational pointers with your prospects and clients.

I’d like to end off with a quote from Mark Twain that says,

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did so. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

In the busyness of life, don’t get caught up with things that are urgent and overlook what is truly important to you.

Oftentimes, you won’t regret the things you’ve done but will regret the things you didn’t do when you had the chance.

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The Entrepreneur Checklist for Beginners

25 Jan
The Entrepreneur Checklist for Beginners

Are you looking to start something of your own but don’t know where to begin? This article was specially written for you so you can now have a basic framework to get the ball rolling, take immediate action and generate instant results.

At the end of reading this article, you’ll be able to:

#1: Have a clear definition of what entrepreneurship means to you

#2: Uncover the most compelling reason behind your pursuit of entrepreneurship

#3: Learn how to identify your potential customers

#4: Understand their pain and position yourself as an ideal solution provider

#5: Make your potential customers choose you over your competition

Below are some testimonials on what others have to say after reading this article:Deborah Torres Patel, Director of Expressing You Pte LtdThe Entrepreneur Checklist for Beginners highlights essential questions every new entrepreneur must answer when starting a business.” – Deborah Torres Patel, Director of Expressing You Pte Ltd

Kenny Chia, Co-founder of The Little Snowball (TLS)“This article is simple, concise, and practical for the budding entrepreneur. Ranford has been an inspiration to me in my own journey as an entrepreneur and I am sure he will be one to you as well.” – Kenny Chia, Co-founder of The Little Snowball (TLS)

KC Tan, Founder of WebBuddy“Young and courageous, this was what came to my mind years ago when I met him during a BNI event. I find Ranford creative and open to explore various types of channels for marketing a business.  I have also invited Ranford to my company, WebSprout Academy to conduct training for my trainers and coaches. It was eye and mind-opening. I highly recommend Ranford’s services. Thank you, Ranford!”  – KC Tan, Founder of WebBuddy

I’m excited to share with you what I know so if this is something of interest to you, click here to subscribe and download this article today!

I’ll see you on the other side 😉

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6 Steps to Daily Successful Living

25 Jan
6 Steps to Daily Successful Living Article

If you want to learn how to be happy, successful and live a meaningful life all at the same time, 6 Steps to Daily Successful Living will definitely be a good read for you.

The reason why I wrote this article is because I came to realise during my entrepreneurial pursuit that it’s not an easy task. There are ups and downs, breakdowns and breakthroughs and a flurry of emotions that come with it. It almost feels like a never-ending emotional roller coaster ride.

In order to help myself smoothen out this curve and keep a clear mind to focus on accomplishing the things that matter the most, I’ve figured out six simple steps that I personally use on a daily basis that works. It’s comes in handy, especially on my “rough days”.

After years of trial and error, reading countless self-help books and attending numerous personal development seminars, this formula has helped me overcome various challenges, not only in business and entrepreneurship but life in general as well. Through this process, I’ve learned how to be happier, live a purpose-filled life and have a new outlook to an authentic definition of what success truly means to me.

If you know me personally, you’ll know that I am someone who loves to share what I know and I’m more than happy to provide you with some insights to my inner thoughts and hopefully, it’ll help you in the course of your entrepreneurial journey or whatever you’re going through in life right now.

Although it’ll only take you about five to ten minutes to complete reading this article, I urge you to try out what you’ve just read to experience for yourself the magic it can create. It’s not rocket science – just a simple process practiced daily.

Success is never a destination but a journey all of us must take. I’m excited to share with you this information so if this is something of interest to you, click here to subscribe and download this article today!

I’ll see you on the other side 😉

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Welcome to the Drawing Board of My Life!

1 Dec
Love the Life You Live, Live the Life You Love

Hi there!

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Ranford and I’m author of the book, The Instant Entrepreneur, 10 Surefire Strategies to Guarantee Your Startup’s Success. I’m an aspiring lifestyle entrepreneur and during my free time, I love talking to my dog.

For those of you who DO know me, you know that I am doing A LOT of things. So many that I’m pretty sure you’ve lost track. You must be thinking, “What’s Ranford up to this time??”

Don’t worry, I feel you. Sometimes I ask myself that question too. HAHA

Anyway, welcome to the drawing board of my life, ranfordneo.com. This will be the place where I document the journey of my entrepreneurial pursuit; the good, the bad and the ugly.

At the same time, I’ll share with you what were some of the greatest lessons I’ve learned, mistakes I’ve made along the way and what potential pitfalls to avoid.

It’s been exactly two years since I’ve published my book and it took me quite a while to really think about what I wanted to do. I had to ask myself hard questions; about life, about meaning, about purpose and about contribution.

I’ve finally found a quote that resonates with me the most and it’s by Bob Marley that says,

Love the Life You Live, Live the Life You Love (Square)
I’m an Idealist, I enjoy the Entrepreneurship journey, Family is most important to me, I want to Travel more, Purpose means everything, Passion is what keeps me going and giving back through Philanthropy is my ultimate goal in life.

Watch this 30 second video to get a complete summary of what I stand for and intend to accomplish during my lifetime.

Anyway, enough about me. The main reason why I started this website is because of you.

All of us have unique gifts and talents that were meant to be shared with this world. I feel that I’ll be doing you and the people around me a disservice if I chose to withhold what I know, what I’ve learned and who I am as a person. It took me a long time to make this decision to put myself out there again and give it my all.

I’m an overly optimistic person by nature but if you’ve been around long enough, you know that the world can be quite a cruel place. Sometimes life just doesn’t go the way you want it to. Sometimes there are people who will pull you down and rip you up into pieces. Sometimes life just happens.

But courage is not the absence of fear, it’s acting in spite of it. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all.

That’s why I’ve decided to take the plunge and share with you my journey in hopes of one day, inspiring you to do the same too 🙂

If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read so far, subscribe here so you can continue watching/reading the Chronicles of Narnia Ranford and not miss a single episode ever again. (Btw, I’ve also got some exclusive articles just for you if you’ve opted-in. I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading it.. Take it as an early Christmas present from me to you 😉 )

If you’re not ready to take our relationship to THAT level just yet, no worries! We can go slow by staying in touch though social media first. I’m most active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn so let’s get connected there and feel free to say “Hello!”.

I’m thinking of writing my next book so if there’s any topic that interest you or something that you really, really, REALLY want to learn about, let me know in the comments section below or drop me a message via any of the social media platforms.

I’ll go out there, brave though the storms, smash through brick walls and sail the seven seas just to learn all that I can about it and share it back here with you (In other words, make a few phone calls and ask my good friend Google and let you know my thoughts on it 😛 )

That’s all for my first article and fingers crossed that it’ll not be my last! I always struggle with finishing what I start. Let’s just hope that the drawing board of my life doesn’t end abruptly, arrgh. *makes a short prayer*

P.S: To all the Grammar Nazis out there, I think faster than I speak and I speak faster than I write or type. I’m trying out this new conversational style of writing so I’m pretty sure I’ve violated like 1000 grammar and sentence structure rules. But I kinda like this style because I can hear my words speak to me with my voice (which is damn cool!!).

I’m always open to learn and improve but please be gentle with your critique, will you? You’re called a “Nazi” for a reason. I’m still a work in progress and I’ll be practicing hard to be better. Promise I’ll use Grammarly to do my spell checks, ok? HAHA

Cheers!

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Hello World!

1 Dec

Hi there!

My name is Ranford and I am passionate about life.

I believe that every one should live to the fullest potential, share their unique gifts and talents to help others and make this world a better place.

I enjoy learning and growing as a person and the best way to do so is through entrepreneurship and humanitarian work.

If you share the same values as I do, let’s get in touch and see how we can work together to create a better future for ourselves and the people around us.

I look forward to hear from you soon 😉

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