Hey there!!

Here goes: the very first blog post in 23 years! =)

Better late than never!! Well here goes:

Segmented first entry’s gonna be long: The end of a phase at UNI Strategic, starting of a new life at SOT and a testing time ahead.

Leaving UNI’s gotta rank as one of the toughest decisions in my life:

I still remember the days leading up to ORD and wondering where to go and what to do before enrolling in SOT. Seven months is plenty of time to rot innit?

Still remember signing up with recruit express to hunt for a job. Could probably rot for those seven months but knowing myself in those days having more than a day’s break would leave me feeling hyperactive and hunting for something to do. Withdrawal symptoms of a driven character. Hah

Anyway, despite the good, slack jobs churned out by recruit express. Examples being a singtel cust svc officer position, part-time promoters etc etc. There was an ad by UNI: For the driven, self-motivated professionals willing to learn. no prior experience needed!!

And I’ve never regretted choosing UNI. First, gained a great friend and fellow scouser in Ivan. God really does have a great sense of humour: First met Ivan at the pool vs SG game in July. For those of you who were there with me that day: He’s the guy wearing the MAN U SUCK jersey!!! HAHAHA, as it turned out. He’s a team leader in the company I was supposed to join after leaving the army!! Talk about providence eh? 😉 (And not to mention the burgeoning liverpool fan base cum ministry we established together after joining the company, last count was 6 or 7 compared to 2. Exercising my Ă©vangelistic’ skills, haha)

Next was working with Jayden and Lara: Jayden’s my assistant sales manager (or ASM in short) otherwise my direct superior. He came across as a real c*ckster with a propensity for trash talk and lame jokes. But he’s street smart with a sharp nose for smelling deals!! (Top grossing sales staff for the year 2009 is no mean feat, especially with the financial meltdown) lol, he’s also willing to teach and impart skills such as getting past operators/secretaries, infiltrating companies from giants like Microsoft and Chevron to small no-name companies whose names are even more remote than Timbuctoo. Can say through him I became known as a Mini-Jayden. Such was his reputation (and eventually mine), so shameless, hahah.

Lara? Probably the best boss I’ve ever worked for in my (short) working life yet. The ultra unshakeable confidence everybody makes of me recently was inspired by her. Yes Ladies and Gents, behind every successful enterprise lies a powerful, determined and confident lady!! Who says women can’t make it in the marketplace? Haha *scores some points with the ladies 😉

For the benefit of those not knowing what UNI does, here goes: Imagine a sales floor with a hundred odd staff making phone calls to companies around Asia-Pacific. In short, the job is calling into a company relevant to the program you’re selling, say an oil & gas event like something related to drilling. So you make calls to supergiants like Petronas or BP, get past hawk-like operators, cobra-like secretaries and ‘catching’  those elusive managers, directors, GM’s CEO’s and whatnots. Then pitch the program to them and close deals with them. Sounds easy? Anything but!!

Still remember those early days when making a phone call was so tough, the phone literally weighed a ton!! Can’t even speak properly on the phone, let alone pitch. Getting shot down by operators, shunted around by secretaries, blown off by engineers, managers, other bigshots with funny titles to enhance their humongous egos. You get the picture how ‘wonderful’ those early days were.

This is certainly not for the faint-hearted. Days of reaching home completely drained, nights of crying and pleading with God for a breakthrough. Really needed the money for SOT, the coveted Iphone, the full wardrobe makeover etcetc. Prayer meets with Alvin at his place after every late night pool game and encounters with God in his room. And we prayed THAT often cos with the wretched season pool had, we ‘d pray JUST to pull the dagger out of our hearts so it wouldn’t affect our countenance for service the following day. Even now, every bad result is like nothing already. (Totally immune liao)

Days of calling places from Singapore to Malaysia to India (oh god, the ultimate patience builder) to Japan to Saudi Arabia and even Russia. Sounds exotic eh? Well how many people can lay claim to speaking with Russian, Arab, Vietnamese, Pakistani, American and British businessmen in one day? Well we at UNI can!! The skills you pick up along the way are of a wide variety and not limited to: Smoking skills, assumption of various tones, EQ (VERY IMPORTANT WITH OPERATORS), understanding of business cultures worldwide, accents (thanks to India I have a very powerful, authentic north indian accent, really), extreme creativity (also known as the ability to assume 5-50 different identities in one day, or changing your voice to sound like a big GM when you’re just an executive), thick-skinned and sheer confidence.

In fact, once you get used to UNI, it really is a fun job!!

Pitching people all over the place, learning to handle rejections (mind you, the rejections are downright ugly), countless lost in translation episodes, learning not to give a damn what others say, office politics wasn’t much of a problem (unless you start becoming successful, and people do get jealous, regardless of their tone or faces. I’ll get to that later), and the deals are of high value (one successful deal can bring in an extra $250-300, think about how much clinching 5 and above will bring you, and I havent mentioned the base salary yet).

So yes, I’ve really enjoyed my time at UNI. Though it took me 3 and half months to close my first deal (others took a month, some 2 weeks, some even the next working day). Through God’s grace and provision, I’ve managed to close 7 more deals (possibly more to come =)) to date with enough $$ for the Iphone, wardrobe and a substantial amount for SOT. Along the way, developed crucial business traits and picked up marketplace skills for the future as listed below:

Confidence: VERY IMPORTANT. Without this, not even the most basic tasks can be accomplished, most secretaries and operators CAN be bypassed with confidence. One just needs to know who they’re calling and why are they calling, with confidence and a valid reason, this can be achieved. With confidence and poise, you can pitch the pants off anybody (provided you’ve reached the right person) and capture their attention and interest. The basic core attribute not just in the marketplace but in your spiritual walk with god and relationships.

Sharpness: The ability to anticipate, spot and react to situations before they develop. Say the drilling department doesn’t  ‘exist’ according to the operator, yet the company states in their website that drilling operations have commenced just 2 weeks ago together with the listing of key personnel. Spotting and reacting to this is key to success here as there is limited time and you can’t really trust everything they say on the phone.

Decisiveness: Time is of an essence in the marketplace and you can’t afford anyone wasting your time. Be prepared to drop those wasting your time giving you false hopes of a deal and move on to more sincere clients. This puts you in control instead of them. Remember: business is done by two equal, willing parties! Not one party is meant to be singled out in any fair deal!!

Toughness/thick-skinned: Trust me, after confidence this is the most important trait. Rejections often come in fast and furious and this industry is VERY UGLY. Without a thick skin and a devil-may-care what the world thinks attitude, you won’t last very long here. One of the hardest traits to develop and REALLY useful once it’s fully developed (took me at least 1000 hours on the phone, innumerable rejections and a really pissed off me deciding nobody has the right to put me down unreasonably)

Resourcefulness: Learning to react to the situation on the ground is a skill only picked up by actually calling. It takes a while to get the feel of the ground and the ability to adapt to any given situation is key to decide whether you can tap on new markets of ‘spiderweb’/expand existing ‘companies’ markets.

EQ: At the end of the day, the people I call to everyday are people too, they have work to do, commitments to fulfil, families to support blablabla…key thing is to understand what is going down there and bring down their defences or trust can be destroyed.

Well there you have it: Survival guide in a corporate sales company!!

Which is why it’s such a heartache to leave UNI. But God……asked me to follow him to SOT

It took countless meetings with Lara and Jayden to convince them to let me go. Cos after all, in their eyes I’m a rising star on the sales floor. Promises of bonuses, promotions, new deals to be made were all very tempting…. yet God asked me to commit 2010 in his hands……

And so I decided to leave. But not without leaving a legacy behind.

Because I’ve seen too many people in my seven months here taking from the company then leaving. So I resolved to give something back to the company in return for the skills I’ve picked up and the deals I was able to make:

And to my surprise….Lara granted me 10 mins of her weekly time for me to give a speech about motivation. Praise God!!!

That was last thursday. And so, with that impromptu task. Did it at Jesher’s place with his counsel and Janice’s.

Together with leaving behind all my contacts (500+ of them, a plethora of contacts in the energy and chemical sector), this speech was meant to inspire everyone to look into themselves and find out what is their motivation, especially the newbies.

After intense prayer: God told me to write it in a form of a story, John D Rockefeller: Richest man in modern history coupled together with my experiences. Took me 3 hours to draft the speech together with the relevant research (Now I understand the hard work Pastor Kong undertakes for a sermon, you have no idea people!!).

Was falling apart literally the next day, but thanks to God’s grace and a short prayer before, pulled the speech off and brought the house down. Not an easy task with people double my age, managers, directors there listening and one or two nasty souls waiting for an opportunity to pick up any mistake and dissecting me with it.

And instantly God told me there and then afterwards: this is the start of your calling as an economist and motivational speaker…….

Completely taken aback!! Well, nothing’s too big for our God eh? =)

And this poem from John D Rockefeller summed the speech up:

‘I was early taught to work as well as play, My life has been one long, happy holiday; Full of work and full of play- I dropped the worry on the way- And God was good to me everyday’

It’ll be my work motto from now onwards =)

Will leave on April 1st, end of a phase, start of another:


To be continued……