Hard work or Smart work?

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Thursday, 13 November 2014 - Last Updated on November 13, 2014

work smartUnknown to many, SM had a very humble beginning. It all started with a dream and hard work by its founder, Henry Sy. Henry Sy traces his roots to Jinjiang, China. At the age of 12, he left China and joined his father in the Philippines. His father was a proprietor of a small sari-sari store in Manila. The circumstances upon his arrival were very challenging. He only knew his native dialect and spoke neither English nor Tagalog. And worse, his father lived in a less comfortable setting. He worked full-time at his father’s store, often 12 hours a day. He enrolled in a school to learn English and during his free time, sold merchandise at the Quiapo market.

At a very young age, Henry understood that with hard work and self-discipline, he could turn things around. He later conceptualized his shoe-business model and travelled to the West to study the shopping center development while buying items for his business. He dreamed the same for the Philippines and after opening his first mall (SM City North EDSA), his empire gradually grew over time. Henry Sy’s success was not achieved overnight. He often stressed the importance of hard work.

One can observe that there are a lot of people who worked too hard all their lives but never made it rich. If that is the case, then why did Henry Sy say hard work is the key? What he did was a combination of working hard and working smart. If he did not work smart, he would not have been our retail king. Let us see how the two differs and how these can be combined to help you succeed.

When we were young children, our parents would often advise us study well, get good grades, get a job and work hard. Working hard on a job is good as it will create a discipline on how to do a task completely. This discipline can be carried on by the person until he creates his own system. At the same time, working hard can also be a means for an individual to learn new knowledge and skill that he can use for his own later. Although working hard is good, it is often not enough. I have seen workers who labored more than 20 years and are still in the same situation as they were when they started. I compare them to a person running on a treadmill but is still on the same spot no matter how long he runs or how fast his pace is. All they know is to complain about their employer when in fact, when they sought employment, they agreed to the salary offered by their employer. The reason why they are not rich like Henry Sy is because they worked hard to make their boss rich. They sold their time for a fixed amount of money. They became under control of their boss. No matter how hard they work, as long as they are under the control of someone else. Their wealth will also be under control.

Working smart does not require one to be highly educated. One only has to think, create ideas, apply the ideas and later create a system where people implement your ideas to your advantage. The best form of a smart work is via leverage. In Physics, we learned that a lever is used to perform a heavy task with the use of the least effort. Leverage makes our work a lot easier. In our example, Henry Sy hires people to work for him. He leverages on the time, effort and knowledge of his employees so that he can have free time to think of more businesses where he can leverage on more people. By leveraging, he worked smart and was able to generate passive income with the least effort. The smarter you work, the bigger your income will be.

There is still hope for people under employment. If Henry Sy worked hard to create a system that enabled him to work smart, you can also do the same even if not on the same level as his. Work hard and faithfully serve your employer. For sure, you will be noticed and rewarded. No matter what your paycheck is, always make it a point to include in your system to pay yourself first. Allot 20% of your income to your savings. Make savings a habit and minimize unnecessary spending. Live simply and below your means. Whatever excess money you have, make it a point to study the different investment instruments and apply your learnings it so that your money can grow and outpace inflation. When you invest your money, give it time to grow. Time is both your friend and enemy. Partner with time early and you reap the reward. Take time for granted and you end up running after it. Time is your real wealth. Once time has gone by, you can only look back but never go back. By disregarding the value of time, you pay a heavier price later. Working smart involves the use of time to grab opportunity once it passes by.

Valentin Sy of Philequity Fund has this to say,” Most first time investors don’t realize this, but investing really requires a lot of hard work and research. An investor should look at a company in the same way as a businessperson does. The businessperson wants to buy the entire company while an investor wants to buy a part. The investor would benefit by using the same business purchase criteria as the businessperson”.

Another key to working smart is to see and think the way a smart businessperson does. If you do not have his qualities, the best way is to be a part-owner of his company ( by buying his company shares) so that whatever he makes, you also make. You are actually riding on his expertise.

Why do you need to work smart? The effects of working hard are the following: stress, anxiety, strained relationships, an unhealthy work/life balance, burnout, decreased productivity and dissatisfaction with work. While the benefits of working smart are: better health, often more money, a great work/life balance, more energy, a better self-esteem, exceptional productivity, and satisfaction with work.

Given the choice, which do you prefer?


Photo: “Work smart, not work hard. That is the different between genius and lame..” by Syed Ikhwan, c/o Flickr. Some Rights Reserved.
Edmund Lao (43 Posts)

2 thoughts on “Hard work or Smart work?

  1. Pingback: Hard work or Smart work? | wealthadvocate

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