Ningas Cogon: Finish What You Started

"FINISH WHAT YOU STARTED!” your dad yelled. You can almost see his tonsils even if you are steps away from him. It was the ‘nth’ time that you started something but didn’t pursue to continue.

Maybe some of us have heard this scolding more than once. Hard headed kids grow up hearing these words almost everyday.

In case you’re unfamiliar with ‘Ningas Cogon’, it’s a term we use to describe a certain attitude. Cogon is a type of grass that's tall and thin. You will see it in large fields. Because of its thin and dry texture, it can easily catch fire and spread into wild fire. The thing is that… the fire burns out easily as well.

Ningas Cogon is the attitude when we start something with interest and enthusiasm, then after a very short time, we lose interest and stop whatever it is we are doing. Leaving things incomplete. Just like a wild fire burning out quickly.

Here are the Ten Things that I think we should finish or complete one way or the other:

(1) Projects that we started
If you ask me, I'd prefer to start one project that I can complete immediately than start with three left unfinished. Focus and attention management is key.

(2) Relationships to Mend
Pick up the phone. Send the letter. Visit the person. Do what you need to do now. Don't wait for the right time. It might not come.
(3) Debts to Pay
This will be unavoidable. So better face it today and get on with it.

(4) Unpublished Books, Blogs, Writing, Songs or Art work. Set a daily schedule when to work on these. Don't wait for inspiration. Sit down and start writing or creating. Take one step forward everyday until you reach completion.

(5) Sales to Close
Now that the client is interested to hear from you, go ahead and submit the proposal. Prepare the presentation. Throw your pitch. Close the sale.

(6) Books to Read
Tip: No read-No buy -- Remember this next time you go to a book store.

(7) Yearly or Quarterly Goals
If you don't know where you are headed, sit down for a cup of coffee. Write down your goals for the year or at least for the quarter. Take a look at your goals as frequent as possible to keep you on track.

(8) Savings and Budgets
Maybe last January you started a savings plan or a budget, but you are not living up to it. It’s not too late to implement your plan. You can start anytime of the year. You don’t need to wait for another “New year”.

(9) Going to the gym or losing weight
If you paid for the membership, either make use of what you paid for or discontinue your membership. There is no middle ground. If you decide to quit, find a sport or physical activity that you think you will be able to sustain for a looooong time.

(10) Education or MBA
Finish your education or find ways to continue learning. It shouldn't stop.

You know what they say -- It’s not how you start but how you finish!


Selling Cheaper is Not a Strategy

As a consumer, I like it when prices are low. It gives me more spending power. It allows me to get more bang for my buck.

But as an entrepreneur, I don't like to sell low. Instead, I choose to create value in the products or services that we offer. This allows us to sell at a more substantial profit. It's healthier for the business.

Don't think your customers will stick with you solely because "mas mura".

If you think a low-price strategy can give you an edge, think again. The problem with winning by selling low is that it's temporal. Customers will choose to buy from you today (while you are the lowest) but when a competitor decides to lower their prices...

Bam! You can see your customers wave goodbye.

Don't forget that the lower the price, the lesser profit margins. The more you need to push your sales people to move. Pricing lower might not improve the bottom line. In fact, it can worsen the situation.

Instead of doing that, find a way to satisfy your clients by adding value. This should increase your business. Find an unmet need, then serve it. Don't let your competition notice what you're doing. Do it under the radar.

What are key improvements that your customers are asking for? Do it. Then capitalize on this and make it your competitive advantage.



Just the other day, I landed a big sale. Big enough to pay for two months worth of our family expenses. Substantial enough for a single guy to live for a year.

What's the first thing that do you do when you receive a large chunk of money?

I'll be honest. Receiving that money automatically gave me the desire to ... SPEND.
Photo Credit
One of the first thing we did was to buy a new iPod. My wife and I have been contemplating to get one. It was because our 'Jurassic' Sony Handycam finally went to extinction last December. We need the video cam features of the new iPod for our upcoming Bohol Trip this March.

Ever since my kids were small, we've taken videos of our trips.

It has been a tradition for us to edit the best parts and turn it into home movies.

So a small part of the money went into that purchase.

Why are we not 'guilty' of this purchase? It's because even before we received the money, we already made a plan on how we will handle it.
When we were younger, we experienced how fast it was to deplete hundreds of thousands. If you don't know what you're doing that money is quick to squander.
So what's the best thing to do with Instant Money? (in no particular order)

(1) Blow Money. 

Set aside more or less 5% of your money to blow away. This is not conventional wisdom. In fact, it's not really for everybody.

But if this is 'extra money' or money that you really don't need to pay for your bills, 5% is better than spending the whole amount for something.

If you've worked hard for this money and you still have more than enough to keep, give yourself a break. You can reward yourself. Buy that one gadget that you were dreaming of. Shop for new clothes. Eat out in the fancy restaurant you've been craving for.
Celebrate. The last thing that you want to feel during this favorable event is deprivation. 
Spend as long as it's within the blow money.

(2) Save.
This shouldn't be the last thing on the list. In fact, it should be the first one. You have two options on how to approach this...

Equation A • Instant Money - Savings = Expenses
Equation B • Instant Money - Expenses = Savings

Equation A is more effective than Equation B. Once you start spending, the possibility to save becomes slimmer. So it's better to put it aside first.

(3) Invest.

Set aside money that will allow you to make more money. Allow it to work for you.

In this case, I used a large chunk of the money to pay for the amortization of the condominium we purchased as an investment. This will allow the property to have an early 'turn-over'. Enabling us to lease out the apartment and collect rent immediately. The plan is to let the property pay for itself later on.

Use the money for your investments or to fund your new 'money-making' venture.

(4) Pay Debt. 
This is self-explanatory. I'm sure you have an idea on how to go about this. 

(5) Give.
Whatever we sow, we reap. Giving is a way to acknowledge that whatever we have today is a favor received from God. Blessings are from him.




The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing. 
- Walt Disney

Walter got it right from the start. He envisioned a world with "Disney" products or movies, then he created it. His imagination quotient (if there's such a thing) is 110/100. Whatever he dreamt, he was able to translate it into action.

Walter wasn't only creative, he was organized as well. According to his bio, he keeps a close tab when it comes to his copyright, he makes sure he has control in whatever he does. That's why even during the depression, Disney's studio flourished.

The same imagination and tenacity to act, he passed on to his successors. 

No wonder even after Walt passed away, Disney World, the 185 acre amusement park he envisioned, was built by the very same people who followed him.

That's not only vision, but action.