Monday, August 15, 2011

My list

I am 35 years old this year, turning 36 soon.

You often hear lists like "10 things to do before you die", These make sense most of the time, but isn't "before you die" too late?

35 years old is probably going to turn out to be a mid life point for many of us. While I have few regrets on how I have lived my life, there are probably a few things which would have changed my life dramatically if I had undertaken, or avoided them.

So I thought this is a good time to reflect, sieve through my life and come up with a "10 things to do before you turn 35" list.

Here goes:

1) Learn about your job options. No one will come up and tell you that you can earn millions as an investment bank trader, but have to make do with a few thousand dollars a month as an engineer. Know the options. The final choice is yours obviously, but go in with eyes wide shut.

2) Venture beyond your home base. The world is much larger than you know. Go out there, see and experience a different world at the minimum, learn a new language, a new culture if you can. This will open up a new world for the rest of your life - new friends, new business opportunities, new favorite food, new favorite spots. 2 lives in 1.

3) Be young, be rash. Be called a young punk at work. Rashness is a privilege of the young. You do not have experience to fall back on, but you have energy and stamina. Go for what you think is right. But try to make sure you have someone to pull you back when you are over the edge, or at least cover your ass if you go over the edge and flatten your CEO's car. However, be humble and appreciative when reprimanded. The person who makes the effort to shout at you probably cares for you, or is a complete asshole. Either way, it is a lesson in life that you cannot buy with money.

4) Work hard, but choose the timing well. A person can work his ass off for about 3 times in life. Hopefully you spent one of these in school. The second should be spent on a stint that will drive you to the next stage of your career, either strengthening your resume or bringing you the promotion to managerial level. The last time, spend it in your 30s or 40s, when you are going for that senior management job.

5) Have fun, lots of fun. Having fun will give you stories to tell - something that comes in handy when you need to spice up a boring business dinner, or pick up a girl off the streets. People you had fun with are also the people you will be able to turn to easily when you need simple help (e.g., business introductions) later on in life.

6) But keep a close set of friends near you. Be sure to spend time with them. Friendship you build before 30s, before everyone gets married and becomes too busy to meet up, these are the people who will be there the rest of your life, and these are the people who will extend their hand when you REALLY need help.

7) Keep in touch with your bosses, and your senior clients. Not everyone of them, just the ones you can connect with, or respect. Forget about the term "networking". This does not work. The real connection comes when you keep the relationship alive and someday feel comfortable enough to ask these people for advice when you are lost.

8) Keep healthy. The rate at which your body deteriorates post 30s is depressing.

9) Have many relationships, but be sure to be sincere in every one of them. Fooling around is fun while you are doing it, but leaves you nothing. Each relationship you have however leaves you with a better idea of who you are, and more importantly, who you should be and who you should be with the rest of your life.

10) This last one is precious. Will leave this blank for a few days and think about it before posting again. But if I had to put something down now, I would say leverage hard and invest in property. Property price goes up and down, but is sufficiently long term and mean reverting that it probably provide you with at least a small profit somewhere down the road.