by Niall Doherty

Tuesday

I finish reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad. My mind is racing. Such a fascinating book.

I ask myself:

  • How did reading that book benefit me?
  • What action has it inspired?

There’s a lot in there about mentors. Regular people usually ask the rich for loans or jobs. Very few ask them, “Can you show me how to do what you do?”

I try to think of the most savvy business person I’ve met in Bangkok. Jayhawk immediately springs to mind. He owned the apartment I rented when I first moved here. I’d only met him twice, briefly. A mutual friend told me tales of his investments. I was impressed.

I have Jayhawk’s number in my phone. But I can’t just text him out of the blue. He probably won’t remember me. And even if he did, why would he agree to meet and chat with some random greenhorn?

I let the self-doubt swirl for a few minutes before realizing what this is: a death cookie. As soon as I have it labeled as such, I know what’s for lunch.

I send the text:

Hi Jayhawk. Niall here, one of the guys who rented the apartment from you back in January. Strange request, but if you’re in Bangkok over the next few weeks I’d love to take you out to lunch and pick your brain about business. Just read Rich Dad, Poor Dad and a big recommendation was to reach out and learn from savvy business people. From what Johnny tells me, you’re certainly such a person. Just one lunch if you have the time, no pressure. Thanks!

Five minutes later, my phone beeps.

Wednesday

We meet at a coffee shop. He’s really laid back, remarkably open, and even smarter than I suspected.

I tell him that I’m interested in developing a better business mindset, learning how to spot opportunities and handle risk.

Then I shut up and let him talk.

He tells me about his background, how he got started investing, how he assesses opportunities.

“Numbers and people are the big things,” he says. “Always start with the numbers, get the most accurate data you can and see if it all adds up. Determine the best case and the worst case. If even the worst looks good, the next step is to find the right people and put them in place, trustworthy people who can run things for you.”

I sit and soak it all up for more than an hour. Before leaving he offers to introduce me to his business partner and mentor, the guy who taught him much of what he knows. I answer absolutely.

I take a detour on the ride home, up Soi 39, looking for a weathered house on a curve. Jayhawk mentioned an old lady who sits out front with a table of baked goods. He’s driven past her countless times and never seen her sell anything. The traffic gets backed up right there but there’s nowhere to pull over. Motorists can’t go to the old lady, and the old lady can’t go to them.

“All she needs to do is hire a kid to go window to window with a tray of her treats while the traffic is stopped. She’d be sold out in half an hour.”

This was just one example he gave to illustrate the entrepreneurial mindset. Always looking at how things are done. Asking yourself how they could be done better. Seeing what’s missing.

I ride up there and find the old lady on the curve. A day earlier I would have driven by blindly. Now I’m seeing what Jayhawk had seen, looking at the world through an entrepreneurial lens, and there’s music in my ears.

Get on your dancing shoes, you sexy little swine…

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