You might find it hard to believe that something as intangible as information would rank as the most valuable commodity in the world to me. After time, that is.

No time to read through the entire post? Scroll to the last section for a quick tip.

With the right information at the right time, there are no limits to what can be achieved. Perfect information means the potential for infinite gains and absolute power. To have the ability to acquire and understand information is therefore critical in life.

Software Engineers

My wife and I were software engineers. As a by-product of our education and job requirements, what would you think is the most valuable skillset that we have gained?

To think about it, a degree in IT has endless advantages in the modern world we live in today. It makes us less afraid of new things. We know how the magic works behind many of the marvels of technology. The fundamentals are what we rely on when we acquire new information to solve problems.

For example, we can easily design and setup a simple home network. If fact, we gave specific instructions to our contractor on how to wire up our apartment. We also know how to set up the networking device and how to troubleshoot when it isn’t working.

Then again, we don’t know everything about computers. If there is someone you know who thinks that a degree in IT means that person can automatically fix a broken computer, please slap that person for me. (kidding)

Master of Google

However, the knowledge that we learned along the way wasn’t the most important thing. The most critical skill we honed is to use Google. Or perhaps, I should say, to place trust in believing that the majority of questions we want to ask already have been answered on the internet.

We can fix a broken computer because we listened to your problem, Googled the problem, found the solution, and applied the fix.

In most cases, it is a matter of whether you can find the information you need. This is the second key. I find it difficult to explain or impart this point – I am simply good at it because I spend a lot of time doing it. In the IT industry, many times we don’t ask our friends or colleagues when we are in doubt. We google. Why? It is way faster and far more effective than asking someone.

Very often, we can easily harness information and convert it into money, either saved or earned.

Just today, I averted disaster and saved over $40 because of the information I acquired in a matter of seconds. To cut the long story short, I was charged S$85 renewal fee for my antivirus software because I stupidly forgot to disable the auto renewal.

Many people would probably curse silently and move on. Not me.

Act Blur

A quick Google (need to store some ammunition for use) later, I was on web-chat with the online support staff. I claimed that I did not receive the reminder email two weeks prior to expiry. Gotta love email. Just need to act blur.

The support staff was polite and assured me that yes, a refund can be made. However, he would like to offer me a renewal at half price. What? Same thing at half price for 5 minutes worth of work? Awesome deal!

Many people would cheer silently and move on. Not me.

I checked the official website and said that the products listed for sale in 2015 no longer contained what I subscribed to. Why would I want to renew it?

The support staff politely explained that the new products were simply updated versions of what I had.

“I see.” I typed in a quick reply followed by silence.

Eureka

Moments later, I was offered a free upgrade if I were to consider renewing my subscription, which increased usage from 3 devices to 10 devices, at 50% of the price that was already charged to my credit card.

Alrightey! Time to stop pushing it. I said “OK”.

Many times, some of the people holding the least glamorous jobs wield a disproportionately large amount of power. In this instance, a 10-minute web-chat saved me money on an expenditure I was planning to incur anyway.

My circles of competence largely revolves around IT, hospitality/travel as well as finance. These are also the areas where I make the best use of information.

To quote another example, a polite question posed to the guest service officer in a Sydney hotel got me the only top floor balcony room with early check-in for a token A$20 fee that I gladly paid. Doing this at the right time and the right place exponentially increases the chance of success. If you are staying in a business hotel (right place), occupancy rates on weekends (right time) are usually lower than weekdays.

You have to stop thinking like a tourist. People travelling for work tend to meet acquaintances and make business calls on weekdays, because that’s when people go to work, and therefore they stay on weekdays. Make sense?

Blogs, like mine, contain an abundance of information. Make the best use of them but be skeptical of what you read. Harness the power of information.