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Is there a roadmap to financial freedom?

I glanced the time on my iPad, and knew that I may have to skip lunch if my meeting didn't end soon. In a while, I managed to take a quick dash across the road for a sandwich, before my next meeting started.

Now, as our job offers us with the stability of an income, it also binds us into a never ending rat-race. In western economies (which are now largely failing), there are provisions for welfare. It comes in the form of elderly care, healthcare, housing benefits, etc; but in eastern economies we have effectively none. Most of us are working in an age where retirement is a myth. I often worry about my future 10 years down the line, in terms of financial well-being. At that age, it would be really hard for me to find a job in Singapore.

"There must be a better way to wealth, than just a job".. my mind kept thinking, as I sipped a hot milo during the quick lunch. Such few minutes of thinking-nuggets are the only pockets of time I get with myself now. "There must be a better way.." it was the same notorious question that had fueled my drive to migrate to Singapore; study part-time Masters at NUS; build a career; take citizenship; and invest in property here. On my way back..I queued at the AXS machine to pay some heavy bills. It shaved-off a good part of my salary. Just as I was digging through my iPad to record the bill payments.. an email popped up. It offered a free seminar to financial freedom, by Adam Khoo!

A week later, I drove to Adam Khoo's Academy (website) at 7 pm, my eyes & back still sore from the heavy work-day. At times I wondered if it was the right choice to go for such talks, which was a bit out of my character. The daunting 3 hours of talk time & parking fee had already stacked the odds against my choice.

Soon, I found myself facing Adam Khoo - Singapore's most successful motivational speaker, best selling author, an investment strategist, and above all..a self-made multi-millionaire. Unlike a typical conference / seminar setting, I was among the handful of about 100 participants who were tightly seated in a room the size of a ballroom. The compact setting had a pronounced effect on the audience, when Adam began speaking. It almost felt like he was talking to each one of us in a conversational way.

His talk was interesting. It made sense that Singapore had the largest density of wealthy people in the Asia-pacific, which was set to double by 2016. When he asked the audience who wanted to be financially free and rich.. all hands went up. Initially (like most participants) I thought it was easier said than done. But eventually, it was his strategy to build income generating assets (passive income), which got most people at the edge of their seats.

Adam meticulously compared the yields on each of the investment types, and proved that it was cheaper & less risky to own a part of any business, instead of starting a new one.

"But how could you own a part of business with as low as $500?" In a land-scarce island, nothing beats investing in REITs (real estate investment trusts). Yields of Jakarta index have been topping US, HK, and STI. Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) offer a sound investment into an entire basket of index stocks. His 5 step approach to pick winning stocks was sound, a combination of fundamental, analysis and technical analysis.
Having read his previous books, I could mentally piece-together his ideas and understand. Fundamental analysis would cover the annual net earnings growth, debt to net income ratio, free cash flow to sales revenue ratio, intrinsic value of the company, and insider trades. The technical analysis would cover the charting patterns, trends, indicators like: Exponential Moving Averages, Moving averages convergence divergence (MACD), and Relative Strength Index (RSI).

"So what could go wrong if you knew how to pick the right stocks?" The timing. You got to pick the right stock at the right time. Adam showed a way to use the Price to Earnings ratio (P/E) on the sectors, to find out if the stocks were trading cheaper or dearer. He also had great ideas on cyclical analysis of the market/sectors.

I thought, having read his books, I already knew a little bit of the strategies which he was talking about. I had made some decent returns on my long term investments in the past, by reading his books and picking investment skills in the library. I wondered what was it that wasn't working for me. I was still stuck in the rat-race, running a 9-6 job that gave me a monthly salary and hardly any time for myself. I had little to boast about my savings, owing to my lifestyle & private-property investment in one of the most expensive countries in the world. At that point, I felt helpless for a moment. It reminded me of the previous motivational talks I had attended, they would inflate you with false energy..but the next morning you end-up waking to an alarm clock to rush to work - i.e. back to reality.

Thats when Adam worked his magic again on the crowd. He shared a multi-dimensional approach to financial-freedom. He talked about beliefs (values & habits), attitude, the conviction to succeed, and the power of taking action. He correctly told everyone that they all knew they could be financially free, but a part of their inner-self had accepted failure. Their sense of self-doubt prevented them from giving in all they had into the fight. That really made sense for me. Some of my habits were counter-productive. I didn't have an active financial target, plan, or score card. I had been occasionally investing, reading only on weekends. Counting beans on my iPad was my definition of money-management..duh.

He shared a great 8 point framework for building wealth (link). Here Adam started sounding like Anthony Robbins, but he was very effective. He is a a really good speaker, and besides style.. he's got substance. He was right, most people waste hours online, on social networks and games. Instead an addiction to a Bloomberg was perhaps a healthier choice. As for myself, my own online research & analysis was focussed on chasing the financial & world news, but without fully translating it into a financial strategy or returns.

"We are all holding ourself back!" By this time my focus was laser sharp, on his words. Even that sporty athletic babe on the front seat was no longer a distraction for me, I was totally into the talk. I was in my zone.

We can all chose to exit the rat-race; live a fuller life; and build better wealth. It is possible. Yes, there is a road-map to financial freedom and wealth. A good education and job is your ticket to enter the professional world, but it will lock you in. With time, as you grow older and so do your responsibiities and liabilities, the reality will begin to bite in. That's when you will need to build some financial muscle (picture yourself going to the gym, I hope you do). Some books, seminars, and professional courses can go a long way in shaping your life goals & destiny. It's a choice you can make.

The seminar was certainly an educational experience, it corrected my financial direction. I no longer aspire to start a business, instead I would focus on investing. Before investing, I will sharpen my skills. If I don't have the skills; time; or money.. I will find it. At the end of the talk, I was convinced to join his 4 day wealth academy program. Although it was late, about 10+ pm, I enjoyed my drive back home. Since then, I have embarked on my financial plan & framework; and started taking steps in the positive direction.