Sharpen Your Axe? (Axe Series Part 1)

As promised in the previous post, I’m introducing the many different ways you can learn and improve yourself as an individual. But first, some questions:

Why learn and improve?

  • Maximises your employability and contribution to your organisation
  • Equips yourself with skills and expertise
  • Opportunity for some personal reflection and self-realisation
  • Looks greats on your CV
  • Provides immense satisfaction and sense of achievement
  • Most importantly, sharpens your axe

Sharpen what?

A few months ago, my beautiful and supportive girlfriend sent me an email, which originally came from her dad. It was an article from

It started with a story about a woodcutter who could cut down 15 trees a day when he first started his job. But day by day, the number of trees he could cut down steadily dropped. Sound familiar? His boss asked if he had sharpened his axe, and he has been doing so everyday ever since.

The point of the story (in case you missed it) is that instead of working and pushing blindly, you should always seek to keep yourself at optimum performance. The woodcutter’s axe represents his skills at work. Read the article Sharpen Your Axe for better understanding.

The following is an exerpt from the article, which deeply moved me with its common yet unpractised sense:

Most people fail to understand what it means and mistake it for taking a break or vacation. If you’re overworking yourself and your productivity drops off, take a break.  However, that isn’t sharpening the axe — that’s putting the axe down. When you put down a dull blade and rest, the blade will still be dull when you pick it up.  The woodcutter does need downtime to rest, but it is not ‘sharpening the axe’. The woodcutter only becomes more productive by sharpening his blade, analysing new woodcutting techniques, exercising to become stronger, and learning from other woodcutters.

Hopefully, the burning question right now is how? How can I sharpen my axe? How can I improve myself? Be patient young Padawan, the next post will satisfy your curiousity.


The saddest day of your life

The finish line… already?!

I would like to think that most of you have graduated from secondary school/college/university or are halfway there. Ever thought about your plans at the finishing point? More often than not, I hear resounding choruses of enough studying or I-want-to-do-something-more-with-my-life-than-studying-in-libraries.

You are holding yourself back

I think that as humans, we are very gifted creatures housing one of Nature’s greatest, unbounded miracles, the brain. Humans can learn quickly, adapt to different surroundings with ease, improve current conditions and create wonderful things to make our life better, fuller, richer. We are able to enjoy modern civilisation today. We invent fast beautiful cars, create inspiring art, set fashionable trends and whip up sense-provoking dishes. The possibilities are *endless*.

Ever since we were taught how to walk and talk, we have been learning and improving ourselves. That learning and improvement escalated when we went to schools and eventually higher education, where we chose our passions and prepared ourselves for our dreams.


And we will reach G-Day, where most of us would have our loved ones at our ceremonies where we eagerly clap to strangers’ achievements just to walk up on stage to grab an expensive piece of paper. Photos will be taken, tears will flow and celebrations will be in order.

Which, for some, might really be the saddest day of your life.

Because instead of continuing to improve, we vow never to set foot in a library again. We stop our learning and look to our future. We find a nice paying job and after a while, get content with our lives. We let ourselves slip into our comfort zones.

I think that’s when you stop improving and learning. That’s when you put a limit on your own capabilities. And that’s when you stop walking towards your goals and dreams.

Don’t limit yourself. The world has much to learn from. Learning can take many different forms, which I will cover in my next blog post. Re-ignite that spark that could propel you towards your dreams.

Before I leave you to your thoughts, this is a little something I hope you take with you: No one ever became successful just by following or being comfortable with the way things were.

They went out of their comfort zones and failed a lot, but only needed one success to propel themselves into financial greatness.

The Magic of Compounding (Part 2/2)

Back to our topic of compounding, one of the miracles of finance. You must be thinking: Hey,  this Asian dude’s just regurgitating notes from my Business Finance class! Okay okay, as promised: The Juicy Bit.

Now imagine two friends, Early Earl and Laggy Larry. Both of them:

  • Are the same age
  • Started work at  the same time (20)
  • Are taking home the same income.
  • Saved 10% of their income, say $300 per month for 5 years.

Only difference is, Early Earl started early (age 20 – 25) and Laggy Larry thought he should be more financially stable first, so he started 5 years later (age 25 – 30).
Now, both at age 50, they look at their bank accounts. Laggy Larry is proud of himself, enjoying $69,000. Early Earl can only laugh; he amassed $93,000.  WHAT?! That’s a difference of $24,000! You could buy a car just because you started 5 years earlier!

Compounding FTW.

As you can see, there are potential unthinkable benefits in the magic of compounding. But as my friend Newton used to say: For every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction. Many do not realise the downfalls of debt and inflation working against your hard earned income. More on those icky topics later!

The Magic of Compounding (Part 1/2)

All of us are subject to compounding, whether we like or not. Be it credit cards bills, inflation, savings, car/home loans, shares etc., I think everyone should listen up and will make better financial decisions after this lesson. In this first part,  let’s get a bit of technical stuff out of the way:

What is compounding? Imagine you have an investment/savings account. Instead of cashing in on your investment returns/interest income, the earnings immediately gets automatically reinvested into your principal once earned. This means your principal will grow after every period, earning you more return/income compared to your original principal.

This means if you were to have $1,000 in an 5% interest-bearing account and completely forget about it for say 30 years, you would be in for a pleasant surprise. Ka-ching: $4,321.94 Just by doing…… nothing.

Fantasize your wildest financial dreams here (courtesy of

If you’re sitting there wondering to yourself: “Hey this isn’t magic! It’s common sense!” Hold your horses partner, the juicy bit’s coming up in Part Two.

The First Step

” A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

– Confucius

My name is Bryan Xie Qida, university graduate fresh from the factory. I have a dream, a goal, a drive, an insatiable hunger for financial success. It keeps me alive, it keeps me motivated, it pushes me harder each day. I want to share that passion and hopefully educate 20-somethings like myself on its importance.

Like myself, I’m pretty sure most graduates are faced with the same problem: Getting a JOB. What most of them don’t think about is the bigger problem: How to manage your personal finances after getting that job.

The purposes of this blog is to:

  • Sharing my knowledge, skills, experiences and approaches on maximising my employability by focussing on my strengths.
  • Educate readers on personal finance and why YOU should start NOW.
  • Meet great people along the way, sharing knowledge and experiences in abundance.

That’s really it as of now; I really appreciate comments/feedback. Get me on my email: for any questions on jobs/personal finance/job offers. 😉

P.S. It took me 3 hours to set up an account with WordPress, think of a blog name (wasn’t the most creative thing I’ve done, I know), get a professional-looking theme and type my first post. All for the sake of better employability!