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Decision-making in uncertain times

By Younas Chaudhary

My first decision to enter the oil and gas business came with a lot of uncertainty! On a bright summer day in 1979, I got a call from my brother Aziz. I was in Edmonton, Canada living a middle-class Canadian life with a secure government job and a few side hustles. Aziz asked if I could go to Kansas in America and try to buy oil leases there and he had mentioned the same opportunity to another family member. Read more here

Thrift adds value to character

By Younas Chaudhary

When I was a young boy, I grew up in a remote part of Pakistan with no savings and our family lived a “hand to mouth” existence. My father was a land-rich, but a cash-poor farmer and in those days, farmers rarely obtained loans from the banks. So, you can imagine that I learned thrift the hard way at a very early age.

I had only 2 shirts growing up. One was worn at home and the other was   worn on special occasions. I had only one pair of pajamas and just one pair of shoes that my parents bought for me.  However, some of my friends either wore cheap handmade slippers or walked barefoot.

During my youth, we rarely ate meat at home. Sometimes, my mother would cut a pound of meat into small pieces and add lots of vegetables. She wanted to make sure that the amount of food looked like there was sufficient quantity to feed our hungry stomachs and it was most likely that she wanted to teach us the value of thrift. In traditional Pakistani culture at that time, the man of the house, namely my father, took a major share of the meat and the remaining four of us, including my mother, ate what was left.

A bottle of Coke was a luxury for us. Coke was purchased only on special occasions when we had guests at home. If any portion of the Coke was left, my younger sister and I would share a few sips of what was left over.  

We were thrifty in all that we did and were never allowed to leave any food on our plates. My heart breaks when I see millions of tons of food wasted every day in the Western World.

When I immigrated to Canada in the seventies, thrift came along as a habit and it became second nature to me. I remember getting my first paycheck, a whopping $265. I was making $3.31 an hour as a welder’s helper. This was a huge amount when I converted it into Pakistani rupees (You can read more about it and my other experiences as an immigrant in my book “From Dirt Roads to Black Gold.”)

During my early years in Canada, I would spend hours converting Canadian dollars into Pakistani rupees, often scrawling it on a piece of paper. I was making more money in a week than my father made in a year as a farmer back home!

Despite better lives in Canada, both I and my wife, Bushra, learned early on that we had to live on a budget within our income at that time. So, when we went to the grocery store once a week, we always took a list of items to buy and we stuck to it.  We did not add anything extra that would increase our expenses. We were reminded of Ben Franklin’s famous quote: “Beware of little expenses, a small leak will sink a great ship.”

Bushra and I would buy the shank meat, the cheapest cut of meat in those days, and we cooked it following my mother’s thrifty recipe- more vegetables and less meat. At home, Bushra always cooked healthy food at a fraction of the cost of eating out and thrift became a habit. Our “takeout” was a homemade pizza at 20 cents for the dough and 75 cents for the low-grade ground beef.

Two of our kids were born in Canada and they were my wife’s pride and joy. Bushra would put in layaway her kids expensive clothes and would pay $5 to $10 each month until they were paid in full. Then she would dress her kids, like a king & queen.

Once I began my “side hustle” as a used car salesman, I made it a point never to incur debt. I always reinvested what I made into the small business.

Today, as millions of people are stuck at home during the current pandemic, what worries me the most is that 4 in 10 people in this wonderful country, have hardly $400 in their savings account! This is quite sad for me.

How can we call ourselves the richest nation in the world when 40% of us, do not even have a few hundred dollars in our savings account and many of us are living on a “paycheck to paycheck” basis? I feel, it is the result of our current, careless lifestyle.

Today’s parents must bear the blame for not teaching thriftiness to their children. By their actions and deeds, they have demonstrated a sheer lack of thriftiness and this has continued through generations. When people can make a healthy dinner at home for a few dollars why are so many people using credit cards to buy their meals and regularly use services like, mobile eat, while they have no savings of their own? I cannot understand the logic and I believe people are making poor financial decisions.  

A lack of fiscal discipline and the absence of thrift is ruining our society. I do not feel sorry for people who complain that they do not have enough, ask for more, and more, and do not try to live within their means and do not teach good values to their children as demonstrated by their own actions and deeds.

Our major businesses have also resorted to overspending and it is very evident as you see billion-dollar companies going broke so quickly because of waste and overspending.

My philosophy about thrift is very simple. If you are making $100, do not spend $200, just because you can get credit from the loan sharks around you or you are able to scam it from others. Instead, work hard, be consistent, work smart, try to make another $100 doing a “side hustle” and save that for the future.

A long time ago, the Roman philosopher Seneca said: “Thrift comes too late when you find it at the bottom of your purse”. Right now, we all have hit the bottom and those who were thrifty have something in their purses!

Today with the spreading of the Covid-19 pandemic around the world and lockdowns, America is changing daily in front of our very eyes. Unfortunately, very few are paying attention to it.

Wake up…. America, smell the coffee!

Find out more about me in my best -selling book “From dirt roads to black gold.” Note that 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of this book will help people in need through my foundation, the YBC Foundation.

Disclaimer:

The views, thoughts and opinions  expressed in this article are my own and do not represent the opinions of any entity whatsoever with which I have been , am now or will be affiliated.

The author does not warrant or make any representations concerning the accuracy, likely results, or reliability of the use of the materials on its website or otherwise relating to such materials or on any sites linked to this site. The author makes no warranties, expressed or implied, and hereby disclaims and negates all warranties including, without limitation, implied warranties or conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, or non-infringement of intellectual property or other violation of rights.

Workaholic! Why I am not.

Background concept wordcloud illustration of workaholism glowing light

Are you a workaholic? People have often asked me, and my simple answer is No! A workaholic is a person who is deeply addicted to work. Since most of us are now at home either working or thinking of work, I would like to explain why I am not a workaholic:

  1. Consistent work ethic: For the past 4 decades, I was consistently the first person to be at work and the last one to leave. This valuable habit developed at an early age. I was a young trainee officer in the Army and that forcefully taught me self-discipline. For example, the daily discipline to wake up at around 5 am even if I didn’t like it. This has stayed with me and I still do it to this day.

2. Rigor: I followed the rigor of having a dawn to dusk schedule most of my life before the unfortunate illness of my wife. I would be at work at around 6 am and leave at around 7 pm. The long daylight hours in summer increased my productivity allowing me to inspect wells at oil and gas fields, talk to pumpers, get back to work and do other daily office tasks. On Saturdays, I worked half days with a skeletal crew, and this gave us time to analyze our work during the current week and to be ready, (preplan and make projections) for the upcoming week. We did a lot of problem solving together during after hours and on weekends.

3. Freedom to work from anywhere, anytime: I did not make it mandatory for co-workers to stay with me from dawn to dusk. Since I was mostly the last one staying, I would encourage co-workers to go back to their families especially if they were married with kids and generously allowed telecommuting before the word became fashionable!  However, most coworkers followed my work habits.

4. Multitasking: Fortunately, I feel that I have the God-given gift of being a good multitasker. My view is contrary to the principles in the book, Deep Work by Cal Newport, that encourages people to stay focused on just one task in a highly distracted world. I personally can handle, manage and delegate a legal question, talk to my field guys, address engineering questions, address well production issues, monitor costs, respond to an accounting question, solve another issue simultaneously, and so forth. I try hard to research the tasks and issues at hand and try to find quick, simple, ingenious ways to solve them. You may call it multitasking but for me it was a deep passion for work and a mastery of skills that took me several years to accomplish.

5. Work smart and take risks: My passion for work allowed me to work smart and take calculated risks throughout my life. If I had been just a workaholic, I would have ended up working long hours with nothing or little to show for at the end of the day.

6. Create the right environment: I was fortunate that my wife was on board with this, which is very important.  You need to manage those who nag you about focusing more on domestic chores and not work harder and consistently. Our family worked as a unit understanding that I was the breadwinner, had to earn money, pay all of the bills, and educate children, who knew I was deeply passionate about my work. So, create in your homes a good happy balanced unit that moves positively in harmony.

7. Work-life balance: My young grandchildren ask me: “Papa, why do you still work?” I am semi-retired, close to 70 and honestly, I don’t need to work. But I still do more work than most youngsters today and I am not a workaholic. I had traveled around the world with my wife, kids and grandkids. I spend my leisure time wisely and I balance my work, home and general life. In fact, I really raised my 2 younger children and continued to be involved in their lives until they were both happily married.

8. Always be available: I dislike “out of office” reminders sent from people saying that they are “unavailable.” I don’t even understand this concept for anyone in business.  In a deeply connected world, I do not understand how you can fake being unavailable! I am always available to all of my staff and family on a 24/7 basis and I’ve never felt it uncomfortable responding to them in a timely manner, wherever I am.

Now, you may wonder why I am not a workaholic! I have had a great work-life which was balanced with my home life. Together, my wife and I raised four children who are all well-settled. I did all of this and without being a workaholic and I believe you can do it too!

Find out more about me in my best -selling book “From dirt roads to black gold.” Note that 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of this book will help people in need through my foundation, the YBC Foundation.

Disclaimer:

The views, thoughts and opinions  expressed in this article are my own and do not represent the opinions of any entity whatsoever with which I have been , am now or will be affiliated.

The author does not warrant or make any representations concerning the accuracy, likely results, or reliability of the use of the materials on its website or otherwise relating to such materials or on any sites linked to this site. The author makes no warranties, expressed or implied, and hereby disclaims and negates all warranties including, without limitation, implied warranties or conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, or non-infringement of intellectual property or other violation of rights.

Consistency + Discipline= Success

By Younas Chaudhary

Consistency plus discipline equals success.

Consistency has helped me in my personal and business life, and I value it as the number one trait for success. In the sixties as a teenager in Pakistan, I used to bike ride around 5 miles every day from a small town we lived into a neighboring village where I was born. My father owned land there where we obtained daily fresh buffalo milk. Often, I had to milk the buffalo, carry around five liters of milk in a big pail and bring it home. In my early teenage years, my father had delegated this job to me, and I could not get out of it. Very soon, it became my consistent practice. Read more here