Are you passionate enough?

The Oxford dictionary defines the word passion as ‘strong and barely controllable emotion’ and passionate as ‘having, showing or caused by strong feelings or beliefs‘ .

What great definitions!

To succeed, be meaningful and happy, you need to be passionate about something.

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If you want to stay an average person, you may not bother at all, but then you will have a dull life.

I strongly believe that we are all living on this planet to change things.

Changing things is easier said than done.

You can be passionate about anything: a football team, your family, friends, food, business, travelling and so on.

But there has to be something in your life that you are really passionate about.

What are you passionate about? 

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Going back to the Oxford dictionary definition of passion, it is a strong and barely controllable emotion.

It is really important that you can control it, but only barely. It should be such a strong feeling.

If it is not controllable, it is not your friend any more.

Making things worse, it is actually your enemy.

There is a very fine line between being passionate and obsessive.

The Oxford dictionary defines obsession as ‘an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind’ and obsessive as ‘of the nature of an obsession’ .

When you are obsessed with something, you cannot control your emotion. In other words, you are not your own boss any more.

That feeling/emotion starts controlling you and can potentially destroy you.

From my experience, educated and self-confident people are more likely to control their emotions.

Emotions help them to succeed and be happy in their lives.

Someone with a high ego very likely means someone with less knowledge and less self-confidence who tries to overcome these problems by increasing their own self-importance.

When you hear ‘I am important’ type of statements from someone, just walk away…

I am personally very passionate about Besiktas (a Turkish football team), reading, travelling, technology and meeting new people.

I am passionate about Besiktas, not because Besiktas is a good sports club, but more importantly because it has a unique type of supporter who is quite sensitive to domestic and global issues. Besiktas is a very good platform for good companionship, to channel your knowledge and, if necessary, help those who need them.

I am passionate about reading; as I read more, I develop my thinking, how I see the world, what has shaped the world and the people. More importantly, each book makes me so curious that I want to jump into any different book.

To give you an example, last year I read The World Order by Henry Kissinger, which made me read Hillary Clinton’s recent book, Hard Choices. After reading Hillary Clinton’s book, I wanted to learn more about the Saudis and it made me read Inside the Kingdom by Robert Lacey.

I am passionate about travelling because the more I travel, the more I understand people with different backgrounds. So far, I have been to only 51 countries and knowing there are many more to go keeps me very motivated. In addition, I know that even if I visit every single country one day, I will need to go to those countries again.

Why? Nothing stands still and I have to be updated!

I am passionate about people because everybody has a unique life story. I am quite privileged to work in the banking profession as it is part of my job to meet new people, understand them and bring unique solutions to each of them.

Am I obsessed with something?

I hope I am not. People who know me should answer this rather than me.

If you cannot find something that you are passionate about in your life, you should start searching for it.

If you can connect your passion with your job, success is inevitable, then! Instead of looking for a living or an extra earning, do not sell your passion for temporary means!

It should wake you up early, always have that in mind and get excited and think positively about the future.

More importantly, it should help you to be meaningful and happy in our limited time on this planet!

All the best from Singapore.

Sukru Haskan
Twitter: @sukru_haskan

 

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A Decade Away from Istanbul

The date of 15 September 2015 marks the completion of a decade away from Istanbul in my native land, Turkey.

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It is always good to look back and analyse your challenges, mistakes and successes to improve yourself.

I am still young but a completely different person from who I used to be.

What has been my experience in the last 10 years?

I would definitely rate my experience as 10 out of 10.

Here are the reasons why.

Once I was out of my comfort zone, I realized what a spoiled upbringing I had had.

Your parents want to give you everything and that’s not really good.

I was living in central London and I had some of my old friends from Turkey and new friends from my courses.

Initially, it was too much fun!

But then I realized that I had to wash my clothes, change my bed linen and even sometimes cook!

I truly wasn’t aware of all these tasks being done by somebody else all those years!

Lesson #1: The first few weeks in London taught me that I had good intellectual capacity, but I was not at all prepared for everyday life.

Even paying the bills on time and keeping track of what I spent was a totally new concept for me.

Once I started to get going with the basics, I was fine but I was not aware that life was about to get tough.

Without being immodest, I can say that my graduate course on international business economics was going very well. I was very confident that I would be one of the very few students who would get a distinction at the year’s end and I did!

In the meantime, I started liking the challenges and most importantly London! And I made the decision to stay there.

So I needed to find a proper job.

Istanbul was my playground and I could reach anybody through my network but London was something new. I did not know anybody except a few friends who were also students.

Lesson #2: I learned that I had to rely on myself to get things done. Nobody would give me a job here as I have no contacts in London.

So I started networking and applying !

This was a great challenge.

And I did it!

Now I had a job and I stayed in London.

New challenges lay ahead.

I enrolled on a graduate programme for new employees from all over the world: Brazil, Greece, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, the UK, Germany, Iran…

While I was a student, I chose whom to spend time with.  A new episode in my life was about to start…

Lesson #3: I understood how important it is to interact with everybody, not only with loved ones!

More importantly, I learned that I have to build relationships with those I don’t like as well!

Having been in London for some years, I had friends now from all over the globe.

Time was ticking by and I was exposed to many different cultures, which fostered my curiosity and confused me as well, sometimes.

Lesson #4: This encouraged me to travel to different countries to understand my friends’ cultures and I also read a lot about them.

I should know the history of people with whom I am dealing and more importantly I should understand their background and what influences their decisions.

And then I discovered that I don’t even know my own background properly. Unfortunately, history lessons in Turkish high schools are not wide-ranging.

I am still learning…

Lesson #5: As Richard Branson famously says, “The more you travel, the more you read and the more you read, the more you travel”. I am in a learning circle right now which I doubt I will ever want to leave.

A Danish gentleman, Peter Klein, was my first CEO and I remember what he told me during my first days of employment.

“University does not teach you much but it does teach one main thing and that is the ability to update yourself continuously”.

Maybe university did not do that but living abroad in the last decade definitely did !

To sum up, I had a really fantastic decade living outside my comfort zone. It became so addictive that I am not sure I want to step into my comfort zone again.

I encourage you all, especially new graduates, to get out of your comfort zone and work abroad.

Unfortunately, the world is not so rosy and the best way to learn is to get out of your comfort zone and mix with different types of people.

All the best from Singapore

Sukru Haskan
Twitter: @sukru_haskan

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Hike the Interest Rate, Please!

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There is a FOMC meeting scheduled for next week and September, 17th is the date when Janet Yellen will hold a press conference. Everybody is waiting for that date in the financial sector as Janet Yellen will convey the decision on whether they will hike the interest rate or not.

For those of you without a finance background, FOMC stands for Federal Open Market Committee.

FOMC consists of 12 members and it holds eight meetings per year. September is one of the last three meeting dates for this year.

This invaluable group of people are responsible for designing the United States’ monetary policy.

The last FED interest rate hike was in 2006.

Yellen, FED chairwoman, has indicated many times that they are data driven and not market driven.

The data are good. Unfortunately, the markets are not.

There has been huge volatility since early June. It started with Greece and now continues with China.

If Yellen delays the rate hike decision, it will once more contradict FED previous statements.

What happens when you contradict your statements continually?

You lose your credibility. 

And it is not good when you have competitors willing to replace you in the system.

Many will discuss that FED has a global role to stabilize the markets, I do not really agree with this point.

The fundamentals of different economies have recently changed dramatically.

The US is growing and its unemployment level is now back to pre-2008 levels.

In my opinion, we will continue to see divergent policies rather than convergent policies among central banks.

And it creates problems…

Why?

Because we got used to seeing convergent policies after 2008 and now that policies around the globe will be mixed, it will be harder to predict future moves in many markets.

There are many valuable economists and bankers that do not share my view.

A reputable columnist in FT, Martin Wolf, wrote an article this week entitled ‘Keep rates low – the world is abnormal’.

Andy Haldane of the Bank of England said “The act of raising the yield curve would itself increase the probability of recession”.

The World Bank has warned FED not to increase the rate as the world is not out of the woods yet.

Emerging markets will be affected dramatically by a rate hike. The rate hike will accelerate the outflows from emerging markets and it will create further turbulence.

This is an inevitable fact…

But some, surprisingly, are in favour of a rate hike.

Indonesian central banker, Mirza Adityaswara, is one of them. Another is Peru’s central banker.

Unsurprisingly, Swiss National Bank is praying for a rate hike. They want to abolish their negative interest policy as soon as possible. They know that it is unsustainable.

No matter what the decision is, the time for a rate hike is coming closer and closer…

There is no escape!

We will shortly experience the end of the cheap money era.

And I think it will start on September, 17th…

Good luck!

Best from Singapore,
Sukru Haskan
Twitter: @sukru_haskan

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Tell me your CODE HALOS!

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The world is changing rapidly and we have been living two types of lives for some time now; physical and digital.

Our physical lives are simple and also complicated. Simple because we follow our basic needs and wants such as sleeping and drinking. These are our instincts. Complicated because we interact with many individuals during our lives and we have motivations, emotions and egos.

Our digital lives are complicated and also simple. Complicated because it is new and many of us are not really aware of it. Simple because everything is accessible, trackable and fast.

Our digital lives are becoming important as they start overcoming our physical lives and this transformation has a huge impact not only on human beings but also on the corporate world.

What are your Code Halos?

In our digital lives like our physical lives, we are leaving traces behind us.

These traces in the digital world are our CODE HALOS! It is the meaningful version of BIG DATA!

Since human brain is programmed to forget, we simply forget things but computers DO NOT!

So Code Halos are our digital lives’ track record that is analyzed and made ready for us to make our lives easier.

Nowadays Code Halos are being used by many companies such as Amazon, Google and Facebook. It is the DNA of what you like, who you like and what inspires you.

Thanks to Google Analytics, even I am tracking your behavior on this blog…. e.g: How many minutes you spend on each page, which countries and cities you are from, your keyboard default language, etc.

This valuable information will determine my future articles to get more traction from you.

Whilst these are all happening at full throttle, there are people resisting change.

So what will happen to those status quo keepers? 

  1. If it is a person, they will be unemployed.
    Just like what happened to blue collars in late 1900s, digital world will get many people out of the workforce. The difference is; it will hit white collar employees this time. 
  2. If it is a company, it will simply not survive.
    Companies that are not building their own clients’ code halos are losing out today. Just like Kodak, Nokia or CompuServe did…

Like anything, Code Halos also bring its own challenges. Recently Ashley Madison clients’ data has been stolen and very private information is now public and most recently a HIV clinic in the UK released its list of their patients by mistake. Data safety and using it for genuine purposes is crucial.

As a banker, I am aware that banking will also change completely. It has already started with retail banking initially and it will follow with other segments of banking slowly.

There will be no need for physical branches. This will create huge opportunities for every bank and internet companies that are allowed to collect deposit/give loans to compete in geographically large countries such as India, Australia and Russia.

Alibaba has started collecting deposits in China and Apple has introduced Apple Pay to facilitate payments. You do not really have to be genius to predict that these companies may kick some banks and financial intermediaries like Visa and Mastercard out of the game in the coming years.

We all have revenue production pressures and results do not always come very quickly. Patience and willingness to adapt will be the key factors that will determine if traditional banks and financial intermediaries will stay in this game.

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Book recommendation: This article is largely inspired after reading the book, Code Halos written by Malcolm Frank, Paul Roehrig and Ben Pring.

Best from Singapore,
Sukru Haskan
Twitter: @sukru_haskan

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