The Art of Reaching Your Full Potential
Zat Rana

It’s a funny thing when you are never satisfied with average, and always go for the best — you end up with the best and being the best.

When I eat a burger, I like to find the best burger in town and I must say it tastes A LOT better than McDonald’s. Although it also costs more, I can tell you that the most expensive burger or most expensive anything does not necessarily mean the best.

I want to drive the best or I won’t drive at all and so I got a Porsche. Are there better cars? Certainly, if you are willing to spend millions but I’m not a millionaire, lol. Here is a good example because I’ve driven a Ferrari and a Lambo which are both much more expensive than a Porsche but they are not better than a Porsche.

Naturally, I always do my best at my job because this will insure I’ll get the best salary. Average is fine if you’re fine with an average salary which last time I checked was around 55k, so if you’re fine with that, continue being average.

Everyday you will face ppl that will question you and ask you why would you do that? They just don’t understand. I remembered a user asked why I would design an app like that because he could only operate under the current set of rules of how an app CAN behave. And this is key — Can is very subjective. When ppl ask Why? You should ask Why not? Sometimes its hard not to take it personally especially if you’re new to the industry or sensitive but as you continue to gain experience, you will realize that these naysayers or haters have very limited expectations for themselves. When ppl limit themselves, it is only natural they will limit others.

I was not able to get my design approved and in the end they chose a more conservative and quite boring design. It was like, do you want to drive a Volvo or a Maserati and they were like, Volvo.

Fast forward 10 years, I used the exact same design at another company. By then tech as progressed and changed a lot and sure enough they accepted my design and it was extremely well-received. I feel validated obviously but then I was never really in doubt. My feeling has always been that my design was ahead of the times and sometimes that is the reason why they reject your idea— the world is just not ready for your idea!

I went camping a few times and I always remembered how hard it was to start a camp fire. We used a starter log and all kinds of crazy methods but the damn fire just would not start. When we finally started this fire, we kept feeding it wood and twigs and I tell you, the small camp fire grew at a rapid pace and became a huge camp fire with very little ease.

This is what happens, once you get started and commit to excellence. Excellence is hard in the beginning but once started it’ll be much easier and better. My motto is from a Def Leppard song, …the best is yet to come.

There is an old saying, It takes money to make money. And why the rich can only do one thing — get richer.

I started out as a thief. My dad used to put his spare change in a tin can and I would steal the change and put it in my can. Of course, when he found out about it, he was not happy and so I had to work for this change and it would be my allowance. I really like how this worked and how I can buy gum and candy on my own now so I would try to do my sister’s chores as well so I can earn more. It was not long before this can was full and I had to buy a small safe.

It was not long before I started helping out at my dad’s job and now earning a lot more. The mini safe was not working because not only was it too small now but I earned no interest so my parents helped me open a bank account.

When I decided to find work on my own related to my field of study, I met someone at work that changed my life. He introduced me to the stock market. At first, I was not sure what that was about only on days when his portfolio was up, myself and this other guy got free lunch, all we can eat! This co-worker was quite extraordinary and also introduced me to the concept of developing good habits but of course, I totally ignored that because I just could not keep my eyes off the stock market. The concept of being able to make money while doing nothing sounded great to me!

This was also a great time to invest as it was the beginning of the tech boom and also online discount brokerages were hot. I can literally buy and sell stocks on a web site for $25 a trade at the time. My co-worker gave me a few brokers that I can sign up with but only one problem. The minimum to start an account was $5k which was a lot for me. I checked my savings account and I had a total of $3k and change! Although this is not bad for a kid who started with a can of coins, this was not enough for trading. I vowed to save all my money so I can start this account.

I remembered it was so exciting when I finally opened that account and bought my first stock which was ADI. I had no idea what they do but I just bought it from advice at work. I was able to buy 100 shares which I thought would be great because if it goes up $1, that’s instant $100! And sure enough, quite exciting whenever it goes up because I was basically making money from doing nothing. Not bad for a kid still in college I thought.

I did sold that stock after it went up 10 and I thought $1000 gain is great. Of course, many lessons were learned like short-term trading is taxed equivalent to income tax rate. Also it’s not necessary to buy a lot of shares if it’s a good stock. I took someone’s advice to buy Microsoft even though it was over $100 a share but my 10 shares grew quickly after additional purchases and several splits and became 600 shares in the end. But the biggest lesson? What goes up must come down. I lost more than half of what I had after the dot-com bubble.

Of course, you can give up and never trust the market again which is what some ppl did, but I decided to read all I can and learn about investing. Up to this point, all my investing direction was based on a friend’s or co-worker’s advice which is a bad way to invest. Not only did I read about the market but I started reading about smart investors like Warren Buffett and Peter Lynch. I learned how they invest and about different strategies and try to find one that would work for me.

Armed with knowledge, I was quite prepared for the 2008 recession. Most of my gains were erased but I did not lose money because I bought these stocks at their near-bottoms. I decided to buy more at the bottom of the recession. This is not a natural thing to do BTW when you lose your job and you see stock prices continue to plummet but I didn’t care, I just kept buying even if I had to eat McDonald’s everyday. I even made some money during the recession by betting against the market.

As you would expect, this paid off tremendously during the recovery. When to buy is a very important lesson but when to sell is equally important. During the tech boom, I could have made so much money had I sold my winners but I was too in love in holding them and believing they would just keep going up. As I said, what comes up must come down. I sold so many stocks during the past few years and this has allowed me to buy my apartment and my dream cars. There are a lot of lessons to be learned in this story but the one that is the most important is the importance of starting and continuing — had I not started saving the change in the little can and continued to build and accumulate more money, none of this could happened. Build your own camp fire.

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