Saturday, November 29, 2008

Graduation Speech - Kitip Lutheran Secondary School, WHP

I will be Guest of Honour at the 26th Grade 10 and 4th Grade 12 Graduation of Kitip Lutheran Secondary School in the Western Highlands Province on Thursday 16th December 2008. Below is the address I will be delivering to the students.

Good morning Chairman and Members of the Board of Governors, the Principal, Teachers & Ancillary Staff of Kitip Secondary School, Parents and Guardians, Families and Friends, Invited Guests, Graduating Students, Ladies and Gentlemen!

Today is a very special day in the lives of the young people who will be graduating with Grade 10 and Grade 12 Certificates. I feel really honoured to have been invited to speak into their lives on this pivotal occasion.

I have a very special message for the students, so I ask for your full attention.

The title of my speech today is “Becoming A Drop-Out Can Be A Blessing In Disguise.” Most people think that being a drop-out is bad. I have come to challenge that mentality. I hope that you will go away thinking differently.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the students graduating today can be divided into two groups. In the first group are those who will be continuing with their studies over the next few years. Sadly, these students will be in the minority. The national average for Grade 10 students continuing to Grade 11 is around 50%. This means that half of the students graduating with Grade 10 Certificates today will not continue next year.

As for Grade 12s, students going to tertiary institutions is around 30%, meaning that out of every 10 Grade 12 students, only 3 make it into college or university.

The other group, which makes up the majority, will not find a place in college or university. The sad fact is that there are a limited number of spaces in tertiary institutions. At the moment, out of 12,000 Grade 12 students throughout the country, 9,000 or 75% will NOT make it.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the sad reality we face in PNG today. We have so many primary schools, high schools and secondary schools but a small number of spaces in secondary school and tertiary institutions. The result is that out of the thousands graduating from secondary school, only a small number can continue. People talk a lot about universal primary education, free education, etc, but investment in educational facilities does not reflect all the talk.

So, seeing we have two groups of students, my message is divided into two. First, the minority. My message to those of you who continue your education next year is: Aim for the moon!

Don’t become careless and reckless with your lives. Many students are getting drunk and meddling with take drugs today. Many girls look for boyfriends instead of concentrating on their studies, and get pregnant. Students attending tertiary institutions particularly have more freedom, and most of them abuse that freedom. Don’t be one of them.

Friends, the world is now beginning to recognize and appreciate the intelligence and expertise of Papua New Guinean professional people. An increasing number of people who do well in school and in their professions are being poached by overseas employers. We are seeing many engineers, pilots, accountants, lawyers, doctors, geologists, environmental scientists, heavy equipment fitters, bankers, etc being lured overseas today with much better terms and conditions.

So aim high and far. Don’t limit yourself to the borders of Papua New Guinea. Set your sights beyond the shores. Don’t waste your time messing around with small issues such as friendships. One motto which I would like for you to adopt is this: “I will aim for the moon, and if I fall short, I will still land among the stars.”

As for those who will not continue, I want to say this: School may come to an end, but life continues. Not getting a place in a tertiary institution is not the end of life. In fact, it is a blessing in disguise.

Let me explain. For the few who will be continuing on to college or university, only a small number will get a paid job. The rest will graduate with diplomas and degrees but not get jobs, because there aren’t many jobs around. The same goes for those continuing on to Grade 11 next year. In two year’s time, only a few will make it into college or university. The majority will have to return home.

The job market in Papua New Guinea is very small. Of the 6.5 million people we have in the country, around 3 million are between the working ages of 20 and 55 years. Of the 3 million, only 300,000 (or 10%) are employed. The remaining 90% are unemployed in the sense of not holding paid jobs.

And the number of unemployed grows every year. My estimate is that out of around 50,000 young people leaving school between Grade 10 and university every year, only 10,000 can find jobs. The majority (40,000 or 80%) become unemployed. The education system produces workers faster than the public and private sectors can absorb. For the bulk of students coming out of the system, it is like driving up a dead-end road.

When I look at these facts, I am convinced that young people like you need to seriously consider becoming self-employed.

I know that self-employment goes against the mindset of most people. Most parents expect their children to get paid jobs after school. Students think the same. In fact, the whole of society expects students to end up with jobs. School conditions people to expect jobs, which is basically working (or should I say slaving) for other people.

I have done some research and have found that self-employed people are generally better off financially than the majority of salaried people. Most of the self-employed people are uneducated or semi-educated (drop-outs), but in terms of financial well-being, they are better off than the highly-educated and highly-paid. In fact, in every town today, employed people are highly indebted to self-employed people. Many self-employed people own cars while the employed compete with the uneducated for seats on PMVs.

This observation has prompted me to write a book titled “Be Your Own Boss”, in which I give 18 reasons why students, school leavers, the unemployed and even employed people need to think about becoming self-employed. I am aware that several people have already left their jobs to work for themselves after reading the book. They have come to realize that they can make more money working for themselves, and that working for a fortnightly salary is a waste of their time. A number of university students have told me they are already planning to work for themselves rather than looking for jobs straight after graduating.

I am not here to encourage people to leave their jobs, but I am saying that students who do not make it next year need to realize that there are other (better) ways of living than having paid jobs. I would like to encourage the majority of Grade 10 and Grade 12 leavers as well as you parents to think positively. NOT CONTINUING IN SCHOOL NEXT YEAR IS NOT THE END OF LIFE; IT MAY BE A BLESSING IN DISGUISE!

Think of it this way: Students who go to Grade 11 and tertiary schools will spend the next two to six years in school. Their parents will spend thousands of kina to get them into school (pay their tuition) and keep them there (meet other costs). After they graduate with a diploma or degree, they will have to look for jobs. But seeing there are too many people with similar educational qualifications looking for jobs as well, the majority of them will end up becoming unemployed.

Now imagine that you drop out in Grade 10 or 12 and next year you start working for yourself. You go back to your village and work the land. People start talking about you, but you put your head down and work, and start making money. By the time your colleagues are looking for jobs, you will be ahead financially by several years. Once you have an income-generating system working for you and you have money, you can afford to go to the best schools of your choice.

The majority of diploma and degree holders will not get jobs. And the few that succeed in getting employed will find themselves struggling from the first pay day. You know why? Well, firstly, because they will be hit with income tax. Today, working people see between 17% and 42% of their gross salaries evaporate through income tax to government. If you work for yourself in an informal business, will you pay income tax? The answer is NO. 100% of what you make is yours.

The sequence for tax payment is as follows:

The employed earn, pay tax and spend.
The self-employ earn, spend and pay tax.

Secondly, working people are faced with high prices. When they go to the shops, the prices of basic goods are high; when they go to the markets, prices are also high there. When they look at their pay, they find that it stays the same for years. So they are squeezed from all sides, like a piece of meat in a sandwich! The majority of them are one fortnight away from bankruptcy. One missed fortnight means disaster.

I have been conducting seminars on financial management throughout the country, and one thing that has come strongly, and which I also know from personal experience, is that there is not much fun in having a paid job. The truth is that the majority of working Papua New Guineans are struggling financially and actually hate their jobs. They work hard from 08:00 to 05:00 every working day and may be earning much, but most of the money escapes from their hands.

They are like traffic officers at a road junction. Money comes into their lives one way, and they direct it out many ways. And their lives are like water falling on taro leaves: a lot of money falls upon their lives, but there is no evidence; their lives are still dry, so to speak.

That is why I am saying that if you do not make it next year, don’t worry. You must take it positively. In PNG, you do not need money to make money. And you certainly don’t need a university degree to succeed financially. IF YOU HAVE LAND AND A WILLINGNESS TO WORK HARD AND MANAGE YOUR TIME AND MONEY WELL, YOU CAN BECOME A MILLIONAIRE WITHIN 5-10 YEARS. (I am not talking parables now; I am talking real millions. Not through politics, bribery, fraud and corruption but through honest hard work!)

PNG is set for unprecedented economic boom times within the next few years. When the LNG project comes on stream in 2013, there will be a lot of spin-off activities for people who are prepared to become involved. You know who those people will be? The self-employed and business people, not those working for a salary! While people who have jobs are busy attending to their employers’ businesses and spending their pay to maintain their lives, the self-employed and business people will have the opportunity to get ahead financially.

If you work for yourself, you can employ university graduates to work for you. You can live in better houses and drive the best vehicles. You can buy property in the major towns and cities and rent them to employed people. Can this happen? Has this happened already? Can it happen for you? YES! That is one of the blessings of being a so-called drop-out.

Don’t throw your life away thinking that you cannot do anything. I have come here to tell you that you can succeed in life even if the school system labels you a failure.

Being in school means other people control your time and life. Being a drop-out means you regain control of your time and hence your life. Don’t mess your life with this freedom; use it for your benefit. I repeat: IF YOU HAVE LAND AND A WILLINGNESS TO WORK HARD AND MANAGE YOUR TIME AND MONEY WELL, YOU CAN BECOME A MILLIONAIRE WITHIN A FEW YEARS.

Let me now make two appeals to parents:

Firstly, please do not give up on your children because they don’t go to Grade 11, college or university next year. You have brought them this far. You have given them a Grade 10 or 12 education. You have given them what they need to succeed. The knowledge they have gained is more than sufficient for them to succeed in life. What they will need now more than ever is your trust and confidence in them. They need your support and understanding. They need your advice and encouragement. In fact, they need your continued financial support. Instead of giving up on them or paying for them to upgrade their marks, give them the finances to start something in the village.

My second appeal: Parents, please do not to force your children to get married quickly, especially now that they have left school. I have seen so many young people getting married too soon, and they struggle for the rest of their lives. Today, money is essential for life, and times are tough. Give your children, and especially girls, a good start financially. Help them to become financially independent first before marriage and starting families.

In summary:

• For students who make it to college or university in 2009, don’t mess up the opportunity. Set career and academic goals and concentrate on your studies. Remember to aim for the moon. If you fall short, you will land among the stars.

• For the majority of you who don’t make it, take it positively. It is not the end of the world. Use your imagination and creativity to start a small business. You have land. You have time. You have strength and a sound mind. If you combine these assets, money will come. You can make in one day what takes salaried people a fortnight. And several years form now, you will be better off financially than your mates who go to college or university. Who knows, you might even employ a few of them.

• To parents, don’t give up on your children. You have supported them for the past 12 years. Just be with them for one or two more. If you use the money you would spend to send them to school to help them start something, you will empower them to do better than their mates who continue with their education. And don’t force them to get married quickly. You will die earlier, but they have a long way to go. Help them set themselves up first, then they can settle into life.

I join everyone here today in congratulating you graduating students for achieving this milestone in your life. We all wish you the best as you face life from hereon.

To everyone, I wish you all a Very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous 2009 and beyond.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Seminar on Business Plan

I attended an informative seminar yesterday sponsored by Bank South Pacific and conducted by Virginia Thompson of Sustainable Business Consulting Ltd, on how to write a Business Plan. The basics of a Business Plan according to presenter are:

1. The Company Overview
2. Management - Organisational Structure and People
3. The Business Environment
4. Industry Analysis
5. Marketing
6. Growth Plans
7. Financial Review
8. Cashflow
9. Finance Being Sought
10. Security Being Offered

I learnt a lot and am sure the other participants did as well.

Mindset of the Poor

In my weekly talk on local radio I have been dealing with the mindset of the poor or the basic thoughts which makes people poor. In speaking on the subject, I have come to realise how important our thoughts are in determining our actions and ultimately our destinies. I have concluded that people are poor and struggle in life not because they are poor, but because they think they are poor.

Ralph Waldo Emerson has made a statement which I normally quote in my seminars. Here it is:

Sow a thought, reap an action
Sow and action, reap a habit
Sow a habit, reap a character
Sow a character, reap a destiny

This is a true statement. Even the Bible says, "As a man thinks, so is he." Another verse says, "Be careful how you think, because your life is shaped by your thoughts."

In the talk, I have come up with 4 statements on the difference between rich and poor people. These are:

1. Poor people with poor mindsets remain poor.
2. Rich people with poor mindsets become poor.
3. Rich people with poor mindsets become poor.
4. Rich people with rich mindsets remain rich.

Our thoughts have a lot of bearing on what kinds of lives we live. If we are thinking poor thoughts, we remain or become poor. So if you want to become rich, check what you are thinking. The answer to you progressing in life lies in your mind.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Financial Freedom Seminars at Lihir & Kokopo

I have had the privilege of travelling to Lihir Island to conduct the "7 Steps To Financial Freedom" Seminar for Hastings Deering. I was there on 4th and 5th November, with 15 staff members attending. This was followed by one day at Kokopo, East New Britain Province.

I am grateful to Hastings Deering (PNG) Ltd for supporting me this year to conduct these seminars. I have been to Lae, Port Moresby, Tabubil, Lihir and Kokopo, all at the company's cost. I am also thankful that the company purchased over 200 copies of my book "Young Money" and distributed them to its employees.

I am confident that people who attended the seminars will never be the same again. Some have already taken action on the knowledge, while others have been thinking and planning like they have never done. I know that we will hear many powerful testimonies of how people have seen their financial lives being transformed as they have acted on the ideas that were presented during the seminars.

Graduation Speech at Brandi Secondary School, Wewak, East Sepik Province

I have been invited as Guest of Honour at the 8th Grade 12 Graduation Ceremony of Brandi Secondary School in the East Sepik Province. Below is the speech I will be deilvering.


Good morning Chairman and Members of the Board of Governors, the Principal, Teachers & Ancillary Staff of Brandi Secondary School, Parents and Guardians, Invited Guests, Families and Friends, Graduating Students, Ladies and Gentlemen!

Today is a very special day in the lives of the young people who will be graduating with Grade 12 Certificates. I feel really honoured to have been invited to speak on this important occasion which represents a milestone in their lives. It is a once-in-a-lifetime occasion, never to be repeated again, so let us all savour the moment with them.

I have a very special message for the students, so I ask for your full attention. In fact, the message applies to all the young people in the audience today.

Before I proceed, I would like all of us to give a round of applause to our Heavenly Father for sustaining us all up to this point in time. It is in Him that we all live, move and have our being. All the glory and credit for the school and the students surviving another academic year belongs to Him.

I would also like all of us to give a round of applause to three groups of people here today:

Firstly the students who have worked very hard to come this far in life. Those of us who have gone through school know that studying is not easy. These students have shown that they are capable by enduring school life for the past 12 years. They are winners, and we are here to congratulate and cheer them!

Secondly, the hardworking teachers and staff. Many of us parents send our children off to school and forget about them. It is the teachers who not only teach the children but shape and mould them in many other ways during the 8 hours of each day they are in school. If you think about it, the teachers spend more time with the students that the parents. They are like second parents to our children. For this they deserve our salute.

Lastly, but by no means the least, we all need to recognize the sacrifices the parents and guardians have made throughout the years, and especially in the last 4 years. Most of you are subsistence farmers who have really broken your backs to see your children come this far. Today is an important day in your lives as much as for your children. Let us therefore give 3 claps for the parents and guardians of the graduating students.

The title of my message to the students and young people generally is, “You’ve Got What It Takes To Succeed.”

I would like to start by reading a verse from the Bible. It is taken from Acts Chapter 17 and verse 26. It says:

“And He made from one [common origin, one source, one blood] all nations of men to settle on the face of the earth, having definitely determined their allotted periods of time and the fixed boundaries of their habitation (their lands, settlements, abodes).

Another translation says “God determined the exact times and places where they should live.”

Students, what each one of you needs to realize is that you are who you are and where you are because of divine appointment – not by the will of your parents but by the will of Almighty God. He determined that you should be born to your parents; He determined that you should be born in 1990s and live in the 21st century; and He determined that you should be born in Papua New Guinea.

So what we can say is this: YOU ARE IN THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME.

Don’t for one moment regret that you are a Papua New Guinean. Don’t for one moment wish that you were born in America, Europe or Australia. Don’t even wish that you were born in the days of your ancestors, or sometime in the future. Let me say it again: YOU ARE IN THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME!

Let me open your mind to see the kind of country you have been born into, to help you understand that you are in the right place.

Our country is uniquely blessed with natural resources such as:

Gas, oil, gold, silver, copper, nickel, forest resources, marine resources, oil palm, coffee, cocoa, copra, vanilla. The list is in fact endless. PNG has been described by a geologist who is an expert in the geological formation of the country as “A mountain of gold floating on a sea of oil”! Think about that. “A mountain of gold floating on a sea of oil.”

If you look at the resource map of the country, you will see gold deposits all along the mainland from the border with Indonesia to Milne Bay. The islands are also gold deposits. There is even gold under the sea. The world’s first underwater gold mine is now being established between New Ireland and New Britain! There are new gas and oil discoveries in the Papuan Gulf and even right here in the East Sepik Province.

This is so much for a country of 6 million people. There is no reason for poverty in this country. People talk a lot about poverty alleviation. I think we are focusing on the wrong area. It creates poverty-consciousness. We should be talking wealth creation instead. It is more positive and truthful. We have the resource base for everyone to become wealthy.

There is no reason for unemployment either. Out of a working-age population of around 3 million, only 300,000 or 10% has a paid job. The majority (90%) cannot find jobs. But that should not mean people sitting around and complaining about it. There are enough opportunities for everyone to create their own jobs through self-employment.

We are so blessed the whole world thinks everybody in PNG is rich. I have had the privilege of traveling to more than 20 countries of the world in the course of my career, and I can tell you that there is no place like PNG. You go to any Asian country and tell people you come from PNG, and they will follow you around to buy their products. They have heard so much about our country that they think if you are a Papua New Guinean, you must be rich. So you can understand why they are flooding in! Most of them come here penniless and are becoming rich right before our eyes.

Papua New Guinea is referred to as the “Land of the Unexpected”. But did you know that it is also the only place on the planet the world refers to as ‘Paradise’? Not America, Europe, Australia or even Israel, but PNG. Everything that resembles ‘paradise’ is here. You put any seed in the ground and it will come up without you having to water or fertilizer the soil.

This is the country you have been born into. People are scrambling to come here, because this country represents the last frontier – a land of opportunities and untapped potential. But you are already here. You are born here. Aren’t you glad? Don’t you feel privileged? Don’t you feel lucky?

I know that the majority of you will not make it to Grade 11 or a tertiary institution next year. In fact, statistics show that 75% of Grade 12s will not make it to college or university. But does that make you are failure? Many people, including your parents and society at large would think so, but I want to assure you that you not making it up the educational ladder does not make you are failure.

We tend to associate education and jobs with success, but if you look closely, some of the most miserable failures in life are the well–educated and the highly-paid. They have been to university and hold jobs but struggle financially and in other areas of life. On the other hand, some of the most successful people all over the world are people who have never been to school or dropped out midway. So please, don’t associate not going to college next year with failure.

What I have come from the Highlands to say to you – and I hope you don’t ever forget - is that whether you make it next year or not, you already have what it takes to succeed in life.

Let me share with you what I call the 5 Basic Ingredients Of Success for any Papua New Guinean. Here they are:

1. You have land, the basis of wealth. If you have some land in your village – and all of you do - it is worth hundreds of thousands of kina. So you are already rich – I should say, YOU WERE BORN RICH.

2. You have a sound mind. The mind is the greatest asset you have, if you can use it to your advantage. Now that you have come this far in school, yours is also an educated mind. You possess something whose power exceeds all the computers in the world put together! Don’t confuse and misuse it by feeding it with alcohol and drugs. If you feed it with garbage, it will produce garbage. You know – “Garbage in, garbage out.”

3. You have God-given common sense which you were born with. Common sense is knowing what is right and what is wrong. You know what is right and good for you, and you know what is wrong and bad for you. You don’t need a university degree to know what is right and wrong. You just know it. Success is really the application of common sense.

4. You have a healthy body and physical strength. You have the same number of eyes, ears, hands and feet, blood colour, bones, nerves and veins, brain size, etc as every successful person in the world. If so many in the world can succeed against all odds, so can you.

5. You have time, which is another very important asset. Every day you have 12 hours, like everybody else in the world. You might have heard the saying, “Time is money”. This is true. If you use time wisely, money will come. And being young, time is on your side.

These are the basic ingredients of success. And you possess them all.

Notice I have not included education. Most people think that because they have not been to school or dropped out, they cannot succeed. This is a destructive myth which keeps so many people from realising their potential. Education is only a bonus, not an essential ingredient.

But if you feel that education is still necessary for you to succeed, let me tell you that you now have that as well. What you have learnt is more than sufficient for you to make it in life. In fact, I would go so far as to say that for you to succeed, 1-2-3 and A-B-C is sufficient. You have gone beyond the basics, so you are more than equipped to succeed.

Notice also that a job is not on the list either. Most people associate success with a paid job. People believe so much in jobs that when they fail to get jobs, they immediately think they are failures. This is another destructive mindset which holds people back. What I would like to tell you is that you can succeed without a paid job. I know so many people who are successful that have never held a paid job in their lives. This gives me the confidence to assure you that you can succeed without a job.

Finally, notice that I have not included money as an essential ingredient for success. You know why? It is because in PNG you don’t need money to succeed. One common saying is, “You need money to make money”. This may apply in other countries but not in PNG. Here, you can make money without money.

If you combine your land, your mind, the common sense you were born with, physical strength and time, MONEY WILL COME. Even if you don’t have land, you can still live a comfortable life by combining the other ingredients. That is one of the blessings and privileges of being born a Papua New Guinean which most young people overlook.

So there you have it:

• You are here because Almighty God decided in His wisdom that you should be born and live in such a time as this in such a country as PNG. Heaven knows you are here. And if you read Jeremiah 29:11, heaven has a plan for you.
• You are a citizen of an abundantly rich country. There is enough in this country for each one of us to become millionaires.
• You are born rich. You may think you are poor, but the truth is that you are rich.
• You are alive at the right time when so many opportunities are opening up. PNG is on the verge of the biggest economic boom since Independence.
• And you possess the 5 Basic Ingredients of Success.

Don’t let anything or anyone convince you otherwise. Don’t think yourself as a failure if you don’t make it next year. (Parents, please don’t see your child as a failure. See him or her as a person with a lot of potential.) And if you do make it to college or university but don’t get a job 2 to 4 years from now, don’t believe that you have failed.

Let me end with a story I read in a book titled Acres of Diamonds by Russell H. Corwell. It is the story of an Iraqi farmer by the name of Al Hafed. The story goes one day a Buddhist priest from the East came to spend the night in Al Hafed’s. As they were talking in the night, the wise man told the farmer about diamonds. Al Hafed was so intrigued that he sold his farm the next day and went to the world looking for diamonds. He searched far and wide until he came to Barcelona, Spain. Having spent all his money without finding any diamond, and having no place to return to back home, he committed suicide by throwing himself over the cliffs, and died in despair, hopelessness and poverty.

In the meantime, the man who bought the farm discovered acres of diamonds in the creek that ran by the farm, and went on to become the richest man of his time.

The moral of the story is this: So many people search far and wide for opportunities, jobs, wealth and riches like Al Afed, when their ‘acres of diamonds’ is right in their backyards. What you need to live a successful life could be with you or in you already. So before you start searching in places, look within yourself first.

Don’t be like Moses in the burning bush. When God asked what he had in his hand, Moses replied, “It’s only a shepherd’s rod, God.” God said, “Moses, it’s not just a rod; it’s a mighty instrument of signs and wonders in Egypt and deliverance for my people Israel!” What seemed so little and innocent in Moses’s eyes was very powerful in God’s sight. God uses what weak and foolish things and people to confound the strong and wise.

And that is the essence of my speech today: You Already Have What It Takes To Succeed! Don’t think it is in Port Moresby or Lae, so you go looking for it. It is right where you are. If you look within yourself, you will find your ‘acres of diamonds’. If you look intently at what you already have, it is enough for you to live a powerful life.

In conclusion, I join everyone here today in congratulating you for achieving this milestone in your life. We all wish you the best as you face life from hereon.

To everyone, I wish you all a Very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous 2009 and beyond.

May God bless you all.