One of the best things about writing for BigFatPurse is that it gives me an excuse to reach out to interesting people. Over the years we have chatted with Lionel, Eric, HooiLing, Xeo amongst many others. It is a great way to make new friends.
I have been following blogger Adrian Tan for a while now. Instead of my usual diet of personal finance and investing, Adrian writes about entrepreneurship, productivity, recruitment and parenting on his blog. I am a parent and an entrepreneur who is constantly trying to be more productive. Out of four genres, we have three in common (with me being a parent, an entrepreneur and also always trying to hack my life to be more productive). I figured he would be an interesting chap to chat with.
And so I emailed him out of the blue. We met up and chatted. As with all interesting people, the least I could do is to get him to share his story with our readers. Here goes.
Tell us about yourself.
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I’m currently a career coach operating from a setup I founded in late 2014. Prior to that I co-founded a recruitment agency and an executive search firm. I have since exited from both.
My entrepreneurial journey started back in 2004. It came about as I was staring at a potential 3rd retrenchment. The only way to prevent that from occurring is for me to ‘hire’ myself, so I jumped into the venture with three of my friends.
Somehow, a two year experiment became an 11 year long journey. In between I presided over the Singapore Professional Recruitment Organisation (a trade association for professional recruitment companies), won a HR entrepreneur award for myself and multiple other awards for the company.
I have also embarked on my parental journey. I am now the proud father of 3 kids, with another one due in April.
What has being an entrepreuneur and running a successful HR outfit taught you about finance?
Running a business taught me the importance of cash flow. I also learnt that revenue can be very deceptive especially for newbies to business. It is also critical to be aware of profit margins and maintaining a healthy ageing report.
You write about parenting often. How do you teach your kids about money and finance?
We try to get him into the habit of saving (by not spending every cent of his daily pocket money) and also reward him with tasks at home (e.g. helping me to wash car = $0.50). It’s to let him know that there is always an avenue to make money.
Recently at a friend’s house we played Monopoly with him. I felt that boardgames are often overlooked in this digital age. My son practiced addition and subtraction, as well as bidding for land. I will be getting him a Monopoly set soon and maybe a game of life as well.
You mentioned your visit to the Credit Counselling Service. Could you share more?
My financial management has been very poor for a long time.
The more I make, the more I would spend. It was okay when things are fine but when tough times hit, many things cannot be financed. That resulted in rampant swiping of my credit cards and also borrowing from credit lines.
On top of personal finances, I also have to finance my business shortfall. It snowballed to an extend where I could not manage anymore.
I visited CCS with the intentions of enrolling into a Debt Repayment Scheme.
The experience was an eye opener for me. There are many others who were in deeper shit than me. It sort of made me feel better because the magnitude of my problems were put into proper perspective. CCS told us that they hold three sessions per week and it is always full house.
There was at least 100 people when I was there. Imagine the number of people who were in the same shit.
What is your best and worst investment?
My best investment would be starting a business. I learnt a lot, especially about myself. And I made a lot of good connections along the way. I also co-authored a book and overcame my fear of the stage.
My worst investment would be a BMW X5. It was a poorly maintained 2nd hand car and cost me a lot on maintenance as well as monthly installments.
What is the best piece of advice for jobseekers?
I would suggest every jobseeker to try their hands at business. In this time and age, it is easiest time to do so and it cost very little. Registration of business, domain and a web host will cost you less than $200 a year. You do not have to go all in. You could always start small or on the side.
I think it is important because it teaches you a lot and allows you to gain an alternate stream of income. Something very important in this very unpredictable world.
Do you have any horror jobseeker/interviewee stories?
I interviewed a middle age lady who walked in to our office. Accordingly to her resume, she left her past 3 jobs because the companies closed down. I never heard of the first 2 but her last place of employment is the Tanglin Club. I was pretty sure they didn’t closed down so I probed further.
She raised her voice and replied, “I SAID CLOSED DOWN!”.
I was worried she might reach into her tightly gripped purse for a dagger and plunge that into me. I almost shat in my pants!
How did you get started blogging?
I started blogging in 2005 under blogspot. It was the ‘in’ thing back then and I just write about everything and anything I fancy. I migrated to wordpress in 2007 because it is so much easier to customize. Again topics were random.
It was only in the early part of 2015 that I decided to get my own domain. In doing so I did some research and realized I need to have an angle. So now I blog about entrepreneurship, productivity, recruitment and parenting on adriantan.com.sg and career related topics on careerladder.sg/blog.
I also do quite a fair bit of guest blogging on Singapore Business Review, LifeHack, Social-Hire, UndercoverRecruiter and HRinAsia.