We are into the 2nd half of 2020!

And so 6 months have flown by.

At the start of the year, I am pretty sure, many of us have wildly contrasting dreams and aspirations. 
Places that we want to explore, things that we want to experience… Career goals and business dreams to achieve…
6 months into the year, after the outbreak of Covid, what have we? Where are we right now?
When I started this year, I was almost finishing my Digital Marketing Professional Diploma with Lithan Academy. I’m looking forward to transit out of my day job at Ultimate Drive, to embark on a full time career as a life coach.
3 months into the year, in March, things didn’t seem to get any better. The virus has spread all over the world, and Singapore was not spared. Flights were getting cancelled as countries started closing their borders all over the world. China was in a lock down and soon, Singapore was to enter her own “circuit-breaker”.
Friends around me, who owned businesses, were suffering badly. Especially hard hit were the tourism sectors, and F and B sectors. The rest of the sectors in the service and retail were also badly hit. This resulted in a trickle down effect, and even financial services and real estate were suffering.
In April alone, 8,500 companies closed in Singapore, and economists predict that we will have 200,000 job losses by the end of this year. And this is only the tip of the ice-berg.
With the circuit-breaker, people remain at homes most of the time. Zoom and other online meetings became the norm as people shifted work away from offices. Delivery of food and goods became the means to put bread on the table for many people. Pilots and stewardesses I knew who once flew 30,000 feet in the air remain grounded as service and Covid-19 safety distancing staff in public areas.
The world as we once knew, was no longer the same, and will never go back to the same again.
Wearing a mask used to be something I did way back in university, at an attachment to a pharmaceutical manufacturing plant. Now, it has become my semi-permanent face accessory! 
In the few months since circuit-breaker, I have completed my ICF certifications, and am undergoing certifications for ACC. I have also shifted all my coaching online, and coached my coachees to do the same for all their current and future endeavours. I am also currently doing my financial papers, to qualify as a financial consultant. This will add further value as I can coach in financial planning matters on top of coaching the mindsets.
It has been a hectic but fruitful first half of the year. And of course, totally… unexpected. But such is life, that when you are served lemons, make lemonade… 😉
How about you? How are you planning to end 2020?


How do I get started as a coach? (Part 1)

So now you have decided that you want to embark on the coaching journey… CONGRATULATIONS!

1 year ago, I embarked on a similar journey, and you can read about my journey here.
This is just a guidelines, of how I got started, and it is definitely not prescriptive, but hopefully, it will give you some idea of what to expect in the wonderful journey ahead!
Firstly, you want to have a clear idea what value you can provide.
Are you able to give advice in a particular industry, because you have experience and a certain level of accomplishment? For example, I was in the retail pharmacy for 7 years, and I left the job as a pharmacy manager. The value that I can provide as a coach would be to guide my coachees in the pharmaceutical or retail industry, if they want to achieve their goals in their career and grow as a person.
You have to ask yourself, what is the value that I can provide to my clients? How can I make them become better people? In which specific areas can I help them to grow? 
This may also mean that before you start out on your coaching journey, you may need certain certifications like ICF or NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming). For myself, I am currently completing my certification in ICF, and soon to be going through my certifications in NLP.
Of course, there are some out there who claim you do not need certifications to be a coach. That is true. I myself started on my coaching journey without certifications, acquiring paying customers as I already have a solid brand on social media. However, having certifications serve 2 main purpose: 
a) They will help you to get corporate contracts more easily, as corporations often look for internationally recognized certifications like the ICF.
b) They will equip you with more tools in your tool box to help the client get over his limiting beliefs, overcome the challenges and obstacles on his way to achieve his goals. In short, it will tremendously increase the value that you can provide to your clients (Hence you can price yourself higher!)
Secondly, start off with complimentary or low fee coaching, with the idea of getting your first 2-3 powerful testimonials.
Here, you have to be strategic in reaching out to the correct target audience in offering your complimentary or low fee coaching services. Some people make the mistake of reaching out to college students, with no intention of looking for this same target group once they move on to paying customers.
This is a total waste of time!!
Coaching students can be a “passion” project, but it cannot feed you if your eventual paying customers do not come from that segment of the population.
Your testimonials can only be powerful if they are from your target group of paying customers. So do not go in circles by taking in people whom you have no intention of eventually coaching when you start charging your dream fees. Cut to the mustard and go for the correct target group from the get-go.
Does this make any sense?
I have also covered the 3 powerful questions for your testimonials in this video here.
Thirdly, once you have your first 2-3 powerful testimonials, you can start asking those coachees for referrals.

I am sure that if you have delivered absolute value, you will have no problems getting at least 2-3 referrals per person, and now you have your first batch of paying customers!
This might also be the time you start looking at constructing your own marketing and sales funnel, which I will cover in a future topic.
All the best in your new coaching career! It will be really rewarding!
Once you have done the steps above, please read on to find out what to do next.
If you need some clarity, feel free to text me, by clicking on the “Ask Yuantai” button 😁

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Life mission: helping jaded professionals discover clarity and re-ignite passion for what they do.

During last night’s RI Zoom meet, which was supposed to run for one hour but ended in 2 hours, I realized that a lot of Rafflesians are actually educators themselves!
Raffles is known for producing men in white (literally because our uniform is white). Politicians, doctors, lawyers… but I realized that there are actually a number of educators in our midst.
This was another of my take away from the meaningful session last night: that we do have a heart to serve, to educate and to empower. Of course, this is a huge testament to the teachers who sacrificed their prime years to teach and guide us. It is never easy teaching teenage boys, who have that extra “smarts” to find ways around rules and take advantage of teachers. ( I know I am definitely one of them)
As a coach, I consider myself to be a part of that group of educators. But I took quite a detour on my journey to discovery, starting from getting an education in pharmacy, coming out to practice, and then getting out of practice to start my own entrepreneurship journey.
Here’s a big hats off to all educators out there: you guys are heroes! Having to adjust and adapt to the changing environment, all the while trying your best to give the children the best chance of success in their lives…
Once again, my heart is so full from yesterday’s meet up. Full of gratitude, joy and pride at being a part of a wonderful community with a heart and love for people.
Auspicium Melioris Aevi.

The Most Powerful 2-Word Question

Take a guess?

Yup, it is this: Anything else?

Having gone through ICF coaching certification, two of my biggest takeaways are learning how to be present (I am easily distracted) and how to ask powerful questions.

One of these questions is, “Anything else?”

Asking this question forces one to keep pushing for options. And this is all about pushing your creativity. The brain is really like a muscle, and the more you use, the stronger and better it will become.

Now, before you give up and say, ” I have no more ideas!”, try asking yourself “Anything else? Is there an alternative? Have I missed out something here?” All of these questions will keep pushing you to your limit. And this is really important especially during these times!

The more creative we can be, and the more options that we have, the better we can survive, and even thrive, in times of crisis. And the converse is true. Being creative and resourceful is how the mighty cockroach can survive tough conditions: yes, even a nuclear fall out!

The next time you run out of options, ask yourself,

Anything else?

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Congruency – what you do is what you say, and what you say is what you do.

I don’t usually comment on topics relating to religion or politics, but the recent Ivan-gate has brought to bear this word: congruency.
It is indeed not an easy task being a leader, especially standing in parliament and having to account to stakeholders (the people of Singapore). And while I don’t know the full extend of the matter, nor do I know Ivan personally, I do know this: there is never smoke without fire.
Now, apparently, there is a lack of congruence somewhere along the line. It could be the selection process, how he could have “smoked” his way through.
Or it could be simply be a reflection of how the political game is played. (Why I will never step into the political minefield).
As a coach, I have coachees who lack congruence in their values, and what they want to achieve. For example, an accountancy biz owner who wants to scale up her business, but yet doesn’t believe that she is able to muster the resources to do it. In coaching, it is a 50-50 effort. If the coachee has issues with her values and beliefs not aligning with her goals, it is my role to help her to align these values and find congruency.
In sales and business, being congruent is very important. There are people who always want to “look good”, hence they will always over-promise and over-sell a product or a service. This is the fastest way to break someone’s trust! Don’t ever do that! Always seek to under-promise and over-deliver. That is the golden rule in any business, and if you can do that, you will get a lot of referrals.
In this sad incident, there has been a distinct lack of congruence. This has resulted in a promising candidate being forced to step down even before his political career has  ended. He will now have to start from square one again, if he is really keen to serve the people in a capacity as a member of parliament.
If you have any comments or questions about trust building, don’t hesitate to click on the yellow button below👇

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It goes beyond selling an idea…

People used to say, it is not about selling a product/service, but about selling ideas.

I beg to differ.
As a coach, ideas are just ideas. Ideas are formed in the head, and many people have many different ideas.
If you are selling just an idea, it is nothing inspirational. Ideas are a dime a dozen. Let’s dig a little deeper, shall we?
How about: selling a dream?
Better! Dreams are big, and dreams inspire! Martin Luther King sold his dream of, “I have a dream, that one day…” in his famous speech, that to me, is still one of the best ever “sales copy”, if I may do a huge disservice and compare it as such. Dreams are people’s aspirations, and galvanize them to act in small measurable steps towards fulfilling the big goal.
Now, you can really see what I am driving at.
As I prepare to run my first ever “accountability group”, I realize that most people do not lack ideas. They also do not lack dreams. What do they really, really lack is having the motivation and discipline to push through and take concrete small steps towards the big goal.
That is why, it should be selling a journey/experience.
You should go deeper than just selling ideas, and not even stop at dreams, but be selling the journey that the potential prospect will be embarking on you. Most people get it wrong. The customer’s journey only begins after they have made payment. It doesn’t end there!
Hence, if you run a business, it is high time that you relook at how you structure your business. The mindset and thinking that goes behind every process and every member of the team. If you are selling just an idea, you are shortchanging yourself. If you are selling a dream, go deeper. Focus on the whole customer experience journey, and you will be able to build long term, sustainable customer relationships.
As a coach, it is also my responsibility to create that fantastic customer experience journey. I guide the person to walk this journey of self-discovery and growth.
If this message resonates with you, do feel free to share it. This has to go out there!

Champions! At long last!

My love for football started during the Malaysian Cup days, in the nineties, and I started watching the English Premier League. There was this club, called Liverpool, which intrigued me because of her rich history and passionate fans.
Liverpool was on a slow downward spiral, and when I started supporting Liverpool in 1997, she was always playing bridesmaid to Manchester United, who had a rising managerial star called Alex Ferguson.
Each year, I would hope that Liverpool would end the title drought, but each season ended in a heartbreak and the managers came and went.
Nevertheless, Liverpool fans like myself never stopped believing that we would one day win the champion again. We kept the faith and hope.
With each new manager, a new era was promised, but most ended in pain and dreams shattered. Roy Evans, the last manager of the “Boot Room” era, left and was replaced by the French Gérard Houllier. This heralded in an era of foreign managers.
Liverpool almost went into administration, when American owners Gillette and Hicks loaded Liverpool with interest debts in a leveraged buyout. I almost lost a dear friend of over a decade. But we survived.
When FSG took over, and brought in Klopp as the manager, there was hope once again. But cautious hope. Too many times, the hope ended in desperate despair.
But this year, in a very unusual climate, we finally made it! Champions! It is a very surreal feeling, as every year prior I had a certain vision of how I would celebrate the title win.
Nevertheless, being crowned champions calls for a celebration. But I just felt… Calm? I am looking forward to next season, of repeating the same feat again, in what is undoubtedly a new and changed environment.
Hopes and dreams will never die.
If you feel at the lowest now, just like I did when Liverpool almost went into administration, don’t give up. There will be people rooting for you, cheering you on.
You’ll never walk alone. This is why I deeply support Liverpool.


What is your personal brand?

I’ve been asked this question in various ways, so let me start by sharing how I do my personal branding, and hopefully, this will give you ideas of your own.

Most people know that your personal branding should convey your values and your value proposition.
This is a common way of going about doing your personal branding. I did mine in the same way too, until I realized that personal branding goes much, much deeper than just a phrase you use when you introduce yourself, or a one-liner you put on your social media profiles.
Now, I started on my personal brand being known as the Happy Man. 
This is because I identify with the values of being helpful, and being happy.
It is also related to what I do for a living, which is to coach people to discover true happiness in life. I have helped working professionals, who are sick and tired of being in the rat race, dragging themselves to work everyday, find clarity and re-ignite the passion that they once had.
This is my story, a personal story of self discovery. 
So what is your personal branding? And what is your story?
Personal branding goes much deeper. There has to be congruence in your private and public persona. 
Unless you suffer from personality disorder, like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, you must do what you say, and say what you do.
Nothing can ever stay hidden forever. This is why, as I have learnt, that personal branding is really about how you treat people, day in, day out. 
Personal branding is about:
What you say
What you don’t do
How you say it
What you do
What you don’t do
If you want to be a true master of personal branding, simply putting on the packaging won’t cut the mustard. There are a lot of marketers out there who are really fantastic about what they do: I totally respect that. I used to do digital marketing too, and had paying clients.
But beyond the fancy packaging, there has to be substance inside. People will unwrap the packaging to look at the contents, and you have to be dead certain, it better be good. Or else, you will simply be discarded.
I always tell my coachees to think for the long term. Build sustainable, authentic and honest relationships. It is not about making a quick buck or closing the sale. In fact, the sales process only starts when the client has put money into your pocket!

So, what should be your personal branding?
If you are not sure, you can always start with what it should not be. If you need some clarity, feel free to text me. 
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Thought Leadership And How It Can Help Our Personal Brand In This New Normal

Thought leadership is not just about being known for something… That’s too self-serving and myopic.

Thought leadership is about being known for serving, for meeting the needs of your target audience.

Understanding this key difference will help us a lot in our personal branding process. It is a cornerstone of our personal branding!

I started off on my personal branding journey thinking that establishing thought leadership is just about getting known for my areas of expertise. As a coach focusing on 2 areas: helping people in the areas of personal branding and empowering them with a positive mindset to become happier in life.

However, creating content (for the sake of it) soon became a bit of a drag and a burden… I wasn’t enjoying it at all.

Then I came across this reminder about what thought leadership is really about, and I had a great revelation! Or rather, it is like a smack on my head…

Let me offer you a step by step guide to building your own thought leadership.
1. Know what problems and pain your target audience is facing
You will have to be crystal clear on the exact problems and pain that your target audience is facing. 
If I ask you, can you list down exactly what problems and pain do your target audience face, would you be able to answer with clarity and certainty?
If you don’t know what is the exact problems and pain, then do your research.
Ask your target audience exactly what they will pay money to solve. 
But you will also have to bear in mind that sometimes people don’t know what they want.
This is where the top leaders have an unfair advantage: they are intuitive and creative, and act fast to enjoy the first mover’s advantage.
In this “New Normal”, fear and survival is at the top of most people’s minds.
But different demographics will experience fear for different reasons. You have to figure out exactly what your target audience is worried or fearful about.
2. Come up with a solution to address both the problem AND the pain
You have to have the necessary expertise and ability to come up with a creative solution to the problem and the pain. 
But bear in mind this: people always pay money to address a pain.
People don’t know that they have a problem; until someone else comes to them with a solution after they have suffered enough from the pain that the problem is causing.
Can you innovate and create a solution, if there is nothing existing in the market?
What kind of solutions do people need in this “New Normal”?
How will your solution still remain relevant in spite of the changes in consumption behaviour?
Can you tap on resources to help you create a solution?
If you can come up with a solution, congratulations!
3. Offer your solution strategically
They say that if you are good at something, don’t do it for free.
I don’t fully agree. Out of the abundance of your heart, you can and you should be generous.
But there is something you need to be aware: be highly intentional when offering something for free.
Make sure that your seeds are sown on good, fertile ground, that can produce fruit.
Don’t ever give away something to someone that will never ever appreciate it.
(Of course, I have done that many times before, that is why I am sharing here, in the hopes that you don’t make the same mistakes as I do).
For me, I only offer free coaching to people who absolutely cannot afford it. For example, the less advantaged in society. It is a way for me to give back to the society, and I am really happy doing that.
One of my core values is this: it is more blessed to give than to receive. Even so, I am aware that I have to be a good steward of my resources, and choose to sow my seeds wisely.
4. Be consistent
Be consistent in honing your expertise in the niche area, as well as improving on the solutions that you can offer. 
Being consistent also means that you don’t practice double standards. What you preach, you practice. 
People see what you do more than hear what you say.
This is especially true in the “New Normal”, when digital communication plays a bigger role in our personal branding.
A quick Google search can often uncover things that can prove your character’s integrity, or lack thereof.
If you need some clarity, feel free to reach out to me here.
17 John C. Maxwell Quotes and Lessons on Successful Leadership
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What can we do to survive Covid 19 and beyond?

Grab Singapore lays off 5% of her staff, after One Championship announced a 20% global reduction in headcount in spite of having a 9 figures balance sheet…
This comes in the wake of the mini controversy stirred up by Straits Times’ survey of what’s essential vs non essential services…
Are you worried? Should you be worried?
What should we do? One of the things that I have been doing is picking up relevant skills and using social media to increase my presence and build my network.
Currently, I am getting my certifications in ICF and NLP, so that I can better serve my existing and future corporate clients. My clients and I have also adjusted well to online coaching, and I would urge you to incorporate online touch points, if you have not already done so.
Build up your personal branding, and if you are a biz owner, that of your company branding too. But always start with your personal branding, as your business is just your “vehicle”.
Many people got too attached to their vehicle, and when the tsunami hit, they got trapped inside their vehicles.
Don’t be another mortality!
If you have been investing time into learning and upgrading, you might want to translate some of the information into concrete action. Please find a mentor to help you with clarity, if you are lost or don’t know how to put your plans into place. You can drop me a pm too, to bounce ideas off. I will be happy to help you! 😁
Stay positive always. Surround yourself with people who are encouraging and will spur you on. Be careful of “crabby” people in your life, who might wish you some success, but begin to put you down once you have climbed past them.
I am certain that you can make it through. You are not in this alone, and there are people who are willing to help you along. You just need to ask them.
After all, what doesn’t break you, will make you stronger.