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Every morning while on my way to work, I’ll open both my eyes wide and try to observe what other people is doing (while trying to notice if there’s any pretty ladies nearby). I find it quite amusing since there are so many weird and funny behaviors….some people sleep on other people’s shoulder (stranger) in the train…some like to breathe very close to another person..and the rest walking (or marching…or maybe close to crawling…) their way towards their respective offices.

Then i started to wonder….when we walk towards our office….do we already have an idea of what we are going to achieve on that particular day? Or, are we just walking towards that direction while leaving our brain or consciousness at our home?

Do we begin the day with an end in mind?

For those who have read Stephen Covey‘s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People will know that “begin with an end in mind” is 1 of the 7 important habits. It teaches people to always think of the end result of an action, before actually taking that particular action.

If you know what you want to achieve and if you are willing to work hard (need to work smart too. Banging your head against a wall won’t help you to demolish a house), you will eventually find ways to achieve it.

In the book “Built to Last“, the authors mentioned that most visionary companies have BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) to keep their direction focused and to motivate the employees.  With a goal in sight, everyone will work towards it (the “everyone” must have enough confidence that this goal can be achieved. Even the slightest negative feeling will make the goal…remains as a goal). Everyone knows that the goal is the end result and they need and will achieve it. How? They’ll figure it out.

Without a goal or an end in mind….you’ll be walking like a headless chicken…directionless. Your actions and behaviors will lead you somewhere for sure, but not to places where you want to be.

Therefore, it’s important to begin your first step with an end in mind. Understand what kind of result you want to achieve, and start developing the steps necessary to achieve it. Remember that life is too precious for you to walk around like a headless chicken.  Hope it helps.

p/s….I’m trying to learn how to practice this “begin with an end in mind” regularly. It is never easy….but it is worth the try. 

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Finally, I’m back from my 1 week Chinese New Year vacation. Hope things are going well for all of you. 🙂

During this short vacation, I’ve finished reading (finally finished) the famous “Fish! Tales” book. To be honest, it’s not as good as I was hoping it would be. Nevertheless, I still managed to grab few important lessons from this book.

One of them is to “be there” for someone. It could be anyone – from your family, your friends, colleagues, bosses or even customers. By doing that, it doesn’t only mean you are there physically. You need to be there physically AND mentally. You need to pay attention to whatever the person is telling you. You need to “feel” his or her problems or concerns and understand them well. Most importantly, you need to “be there” to show you care.

After reading the book, I’ve noticed something which I have not noticed for a long long time. Whenever my family members (be it my parents or my sister) talk to me while I am doing my work or playing my computer, I would just talk to them while doing whatever I was doing at that time. Well, I’m an IT specialist…so I AM supposed to be able to multitask. 😛 As expected, the conversation didn’t last long….with me not listening to them.

However…just few days ago, I noticed that whenever I approached my mum to talk to her (whether she’s doing something or not), she would stop whatever she is doing and looks at me…and listens. So is my dad…and my sister…well, at times. She’s a multitask specialist as well. 😛

Once I noticed this…I’ve made a promise to myself that I will always “be there” when someone important to me, talks to me. Just to show that I’m concerned and I do care about the person.

That’s not all…try bringing this mentality to work…when you are facing your colleagues, bosses or even clients. I believe it will work very well (especially if you’re a consultant and you’re facing a client who has a lot of problems with his/her company’s operations).

I’m going to try this in every part of my life. I think you should try it too. 🙂 We’re all here in this world, to make a difference. Try making a difference in someone’s life now.

I’ll be away for more than a week to celebrate Chinese New Year. Therefore, the blog will be a little bit quiet during this period of time.

Hereby wishing all of you a happy and prosperous Chinese New Year.  

As human, we need to communicate with other human beings everyday (even Tom Hanks needs to talk to “Wilson” in the movie “Cast Away). Different people have different methods of having a conversation. A salesman for example, talks to a potential customer differently if compared to an employee talking to his boss. No matter what, being honest in a conversation is very important most of the time.

Why?

Well, if you’re a consultant (bear with me, I’m from a consulting company), you are supposed to sell your services and your solutions to the clients. You might need to BS (in case some of you don’t know what is “BS“…well, just ask your consultant friend) most of the time but that won’t get you any long term result. It pays to be honest to your clients. Give them an honest assessment of their problems and provide the solution which is most suitable for them…….and not aiming to rip them apart for $$. At the end of the day, what you need to get is a long term business relationship….not a “I got your money so byebye to you” kind of relationship.

Another example is your conversation with your friends, your colleagues, your bosses or anyone who is close to you. I’ve seen people suffering from emotional stress because their loved ones ignored them (I used to be one of them…) for something they didn’t know. I’ve also seen friends been laid off even though their bosses complimented on their performances just weeks before the laying off. So what is the problem now? Lack of honest conversation…or the so-called “heart to heart talk“. Again, it pays to be honest and tell someone what you feel about him/her HONESTLY. Don’t beat around the bush. If there’s something you don’t like, tell them so that they have the opportunity to change. It’ll be unfair to both of you if you don’t tell him honestly.

To be honest (yea, I’m speaking honestly now), I’m rushing my work now…..just suddenly have this urge to write on this topic because tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. 😛

Remember, nobody can change something which they’re not aware of…. 🙂 It is up to the people around this “nobody” to let them know, so that they can change.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you. 😉 Have a great time!

I’m sure most of you have heard of the term “slave driving“. It’s a term widely used in our world today, especially in the IT industry where competition is stiff. All the companies want to deliver a project in the shortest time possible to please the clients. However, the only way they can do this is to “force” their employees to work more and longer period of time….which means “slave driving“.

In some big corporations, “slave driving” is a norm. It is something they used to measure an employee’s commitment. I used to work in a company where going back on time is not encouraged. Everyone will be looking at you whenever you choose to go back at 5.30 or 6pm…..including your bosses who might be taking some “personal notes” as you walked pass. Well, as expected, I didn’t do well in the company because I was considered not committed enough even though I used to work > 14 hours a day for them.

The question now is : Do you think one is not committed enough if one always go back on time (even if his work is completed)?

I personally don’t think so. If a person always go back on time, even though the work for the day has not been completed…then that person is not committed enough. However, it depends on the workload as well. If the manager is too demanding, it’s a totally different story.

Also, based on some researches, an employee cannot perform well if work for > 12 hours a day. The person will suffer “brain freeze” or “mental block“. So, what’s the use of forcing people to work > 12 hours when their brains are not working?

When an employee is not working happily…such as not in a fun working environment (remember the “Fish!” philosophy?), no family and work balance, not rewarded appropriately or no job satisfaction… the employee will leave the company sooner or later. This is why most of the “slave driving” companies have very high turnover rate since not everyone can be as “committed” as the management team wants them to be.

What will happen if the company has very high turnover rate? Well, I am sure that’s a question most people can answer. Reputation, headcount problem, etc will come into question.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t mean to say that an employee should stick to 9-5 type of work. It is necessary to show your initiatives and your commitments to your company but at the same time, have a balance work + family life. Sometimes the company needs you to work for longer period of time due to project timeline. That will be the time for you to show your commitment. Your company don’t pay you for nothing. 🙂

Conclusion, respect for the individual is the key phrase. Every company should respect its own employees, including giving them their personal time and freedom. If the company respects its employees, I am sure the employees will be willing to take up some of their personal time to do something for the company. The work of someone who is willing, is always better than the work of someone who has been forced.

Recently, I’ve got myself a book called “Fish Tales!” by Harry Paul, John Christensen and Philip Strand. This is a sequel to the famous “Fish!” book which teaches us about the “Fish!” philosophy.

Fish! philosophy talks about making your workplace a fun place to work in. This is severely lacking in our world today. Look at your current workplace……can you find something which you can label as “fun” or “entertaining” ? Maybe you can gather a few colleagues to crack a joke or two…or maybe laughing at somebody else’s weird behavior….but that’s about it. Or maybe your company management is so kind that a “fun” party is organized for the employees on a particular day….for maybe 2 hours. That’s it. Why must it be only that 2 hours? Or have you ever hear your boss saying “Fun time is over lads, now get back to work!“.

Everyone loves to have fun, though there is a small group of people who thinks that being serious at work means it cannot be related to the word FUN. Different people different preferences but I am sure there are a lot of people out there, who wants to enjoy their work by mixing in work + fun.

It’s not impossible. A lot of companies have done it. Why not yours?

Fun is necessary for people to stay occupied in something for a long period of time. Take programming for example. A lot of IT companies believe that squeezing their programmers is the right thing to do….or maybe, to rephrase it to a better sentence…the only thing they could do due to the timeline given. I strongly disagree. Yes, we do have project timeline which is critical. However, squeezing your programmers to work > 12 hours a day is ridiculous…..unless, they can associate fun with their work. I know some companies who have this “fun” element, and their employees don’t mind working for long hours. The “fun” element keeps them occupied and make them feel like they’re enjoying their work.

Sadly, most companies do not care about this mentality. It’s out of the norm…it doesn’t align with the beliefs the old companies have. In the end, employees are forced to work for very long hours without “fun“….which means they don’t enjoy the work they’re doing. And when someone doesn’t like the work he’s doing, it spells disaster. The person will either work half-heartedly, or resign to seek for something he really enjoys doing.

That is why, I strongly believe the importance of mixing fun and work together. Make your job fun. Doesn’t that sound great?

Remember, fun is the source of creativity and innovation. Without it, you’ll be working like a pre-programmed robot, not a creative human being. 🙂

Today, I’ve had a quick discussion over the internet with a close friend of mine regarding the most suitable type of leadership for a business startup. I mentioned that I’m a strong believer of non-military style leadership whereas he believes that being harsh and stern at times are necessary.

True, and also false. To me, I’ll always try my best not to be harsh to the people I’m working with, or the people working under me. Believe it or not, nobody wants to be treated harshly by his or her superior. For example, your boss told you that if you fail to deliver a project component by today, your annual bonus will be deducted by 50%. That’s harsh. Or maybe you have an important appointment today which you can’t afford to miss. So you started to pack at 6pm after you’ve finished your work…and then your worst nightmare started. Your boss came to stop you and told you to finish this presentation by today…immediately. Why? Because he needs it for tomorrow. Sounds familiar? That’s harsh too…especially if you told your boss you couldn’t make it since you have an important appointment…and your boss started to feel angry and even threatened to cut your bonus.

Don’t you think the above examples are like a soldier in a camp who made a small mistake and ended up getting punished severely?

True, this kind of mentality is good to train the employees to be disciplined. However, do you seriously think this kind of method can be used in this era where it’s extremely difficult to retain good employees in your company for more than few years?

Your company’s top management is not that harsh? Fine. There’s also place we can check if your company is being run by a “military styled” leader.

In some companies, there are people who behave like a military commander. A stern, serious, decisive and commanding figure reflects the characteristics of a commander-like leader. He likes to give orders and expects nothing but excellent results from his subordinates. He controls, strategize and lead the entire company by himself….much like a military commander leading the entire battalion of soldiers by himself.

So, what’s so bad about this form of leadership? One thing for sure, a normal commander-like leader is a very good tactician who knows how to plan far into the future. However, the company he is leading will most probably last as long as he does. By giving orders (only) and expecting nothing but result, he is not encouraging the participation of other employees in the decision making process. This will only create the so-called “followers” and not “leaders” which the company needs the most.

What happens if this commander-like leader suddenly disappear one day? How will these “followers” proceed without him? Just think of the battlefield…….a military general was leading the entire battalion to war when he was killed by a sniper in an ambush laid by the enemy soldiers. With their commander dead, who will these “followers” turn to? If after all this while, the orders have been coming from the commander and him alone…..there is a high possibility that there’s no 2nd leader who knows what to do. The consequence? The battalion got dispersed ….or slaughtered…since they didn’t know what to do.

It applies to every company out there. It’s the same concept. No matter how good a tactician, it’s useless when the tactician is gone and nobody is there to carry out the plan.

You might disagree with me, like my friend did….. If that’s the case, do feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section.

Thanks for your time and hope it helps. 🙂

Just recently, my team (we’re a small team in a not-so-big multinational company) had had a discussion which we called it “brown bag session”. It’s a technical discussion where the speaker (from our team) will be presenting on technical stuff to the audiences (also from our team). This is something which our team manager started…and I personally feel that it’s very useful, both to train our presentation skills and also enhance our knowledge on certain technical topics.

Alright, let’s get to the point. During the presentation, one of my seniors somehow showed signs of disrespect to the presenter (which for this week, is our team manager). He yawned loudly more than 10 times, during the 2 hours presentation. He also made a lot of funny sound…like tapping on the table…humming…. etc.

Here’s the problem…you should never show your disrespect to a presenter/speaker of a presentation when you’re the audience.  

To me, no matter how boring a presentation is, always respect the speaker in front. It is not easy to present in front of an audience…or even a few people, especially for certain individuals. So, why do you want to make their life worse? Always respect and listen. Pay attention to what the speaker has to say or offer or even teach. It’ll help to train your patience, and also help the speaker to complete his presentation without facing too many problems. Who knows, you might end up gaining some extra information/contact/knowledge from this presentation.

To summarize, here are some of the things you should do as an audience, during any presentation:

  1. Always pay attention and listen to the presentation.
  2. Avoid making weird sounds which will disturb the audiences or the presenter.
  3. Avoid asking stupid questions. Ask questions which are related to the presentation.
  4. Have eye contact with the presenter. Look at him/her. It’ll help both of you to focus more and … well … to stay awake. 🙂
  5. Avoid falling asleep.
  6. Avoid talking or discussing too loud with your peers or other attendees of the presentation.
  7. Nod your head once in a while if you agree with what the presenter is talking about.
  8. Make sure you sit properly. 🙂

The above are some very simple things that you should be doing if you attend a presentation. Always remember, everyone will have a chance to do a presentation, whether you like it or not……..and when you’re presenting, you would expect certain things from your audiences…..and these are the things that you should be doing when you attend any presentation. Respect…that’s the keyword.

Hope it helps. 🙂

Finding the right person for a job is never an easy task for anyone to do, not even for a psychologist. Why?

Some people are very good with words and ‘selling’. They can tell you what they know confidently, even though the fact is they have no idea how to do it. These people are good, but only if they’re applying for a sales or marketing job. On the other hand, there are people who are creative, smart and talented…yet, they cannot present or express themselves in a proper way. BUT, this doesn’t mean they’re not good in their job.

There are few things you can do to test whether the person is the right person for the job….and avoid getting fooled by the confident sweet talker. 🙂

Firstly, ask the person about his passions. What he likes to do during his free time. You should be able to see whether he is trying to cook up stories…or he’s sincere. If someone is talking something he is passionate about, you should be able to see it from his eyes. Try to see if the things he claimed he’s passionate about, has anything related to the job he is applying in your company….or is it something which promotes creativity and innovation?

Second thing you can do is to ask him about his plan in the next 10 years…his ambition. This is a very common question to ask in the interview. See whether his ambition(s) has anything to do with the job. If it contradicts the job he applied, then you might want to advise him to reconsider his application…..since it doesn’t align with the direction he’s heading.

Third….try to see his interest in the job by the way he speaks and presents himself. If he’s serious, he should be wearing formal and should be well prepared – with the proper knowledge such as company history, profile, job scope, etc. Make sure he’s interested, and not desperate for the job. If he’s desperate, he should be nervous and panic when being asked questions he couldn’t answer. Being desperate is not really a bad thing though. If he’s desperate, it means he really cares about landing the job and being serious in it. However, try to avoid lowering the salary of this guy just because he looks desperate. 🙂  Give him whatever he deserves.

Last but not least….follow your feelings. I don’t trust those personality tests conducted by some companies. IQ and logical tests, yes….those are useful….but not personality test. If you’re experienced enough, you should be able to judge the person’s value by communicating with him for few minutes. Try asking him some questions like those I gave above….and see what are the answers given, and the way he gave the answers.

Finding the right person for a job is never easy. Always remember that finding someone passionate, is better than someone knowledgeable but without passion because someone passionate can always make the extra miles to learn up new stuff related to the job. 🙂

I’m sure most of us have problems in our lives every now and then. Some of them are things that we have direct influence on, while the others are most probably things which are out of our control….things we can’t change….things we have no influence on.

How should you handle things you can’t change?

For me, there are only 2 ways. First, is to influence the things that have influence on the things you can’t change. If you do so, you’re indirectly trying to influence it. For example, your company’s top management is trying to decide which team should the new USD $ 10 million project be assigned to. You, as the team leader of a small team has no direct influence on the decision of the top management, but your department head does. What you can do, is to influence and convince your department head so that he can play his part during the top management meeting. The chances of getting it is not high, since you’ll be relying on this department head of urs. However, slim chances are always better than no chance at all.

The 2nd option…which is easier to say than do….is don’t worry about the things you can’t change. For example, if your relationship is a one-sided relationship…..no matter how much you worried about that person, you’re merely clapping with one hand. There will be no result….and yet, you’re worried about so many things. Do you have the control over such things? No? Then let it go and focus on other things you CAN control….like taking care of your family, your work, your friends, etc. Life is short, don’t waste your time on the things that you can’t control. 🙂

This is just a simple post, reflecting what I’m facing now. I’ll always remind myself of this….don’t worry about the things you can’t change. When the storm is coming, don’t worry about how to stop the storm because you can’t. Instead, worry about how you can help yourselves and other people, to be safe from this storm.

Hope this helps.