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Recently, I’ve been reading a book called “Blue Ocean Strategy” which I am sure some of you here have heard of it before. It’s a very good book with a lot of valid points on the businesses of today. A must read, if you’re very much into business and management stuff.

In the early part of the book, it talks about the 3 kinds of things businesses focus to create – things which enable us to go to work, things to help us at work, and things that we like to do after work.

Example of things which enable us to go to work is the car industry. Ford revolutionized this industry with its T model which enabled thousands of not-so-rich families to own their own car (though Ford is trying hard to survive in a battle against the likes of Toyota and Honda). Besides car industry, you can try to think of ways to create new values in any of the transportation section – public transports, light-weight transportations, or things that people can use while going to work such as mp3 player.

The things which help us at work should be quite obvious – anything related to the business. Computers, photocopiers, printers, projectors, telephones, etc etc etc. The list goes on and on and on….. and everyday, we’ll see at least few new items being added to that never-ending list. As long as the product can help to improve the business values – efficiency, quality, etc – then it can be considered a good product in this category.

The final category will be the things we do after work. I personally believe that this will be the place where most money is spent….and the target customers will be the majority of the world’s population. Why? Everyone needs to do something to relax or enjoy themselves after work…..the bosses, the leaders, managers, and even the normal low-income workers. As the competition in the corporate world becomes more and more competitive, workload will increase as well together with the amount of stress generated by these workloads. The higher the amount of stress, the more people will try to escape from it and “seek help” from this world of entertainment and relaxation. That is why the movie, music and gaming (including casinos) industry are earning big bucks now.

This post has briefly touched on the 3 categories which you should look into if you are planning to start something (a product, or even a company). I’ll talk about these 3 categories again (more in depth) in the near future.

Hope it helps. 🙂

Just recently, one of the blog readers (who is most probably reading this) mentioned to me that I sounded like a 30+ years old corporate manager (or someone in the executive level). Well, I was happy and sad. Happy because I didn’t know that I have such a mature thinking *ahem*. Sad because, I’m really not that old. I’m 25 this year and I’m not a high level executive. I’m just a junior staff in a UK IT consulting company. 🙂

Anyway, the “30+ years old” thing somehow prompt me to ask myself this question – does age really matter? I’m sure most of you have asked this yourselves (it could be something related to your career, love, friendship, etc) but does it really matter if you’re 24 or 30, or even 50?

To me, yes and no.

Let’s look at it from 4 perspectives – career, love/friendship and life itself.

Career

Every company has its own junior and senior staff. Some companies take age and experience very seriously. To them, someone at the age of 40 is always better and more mature than someone at the age of 25. I find this to be true in most cases but not true in few cases. I’ve known seniors at the age of 30+ who…basically think like a kid…. whereas juniors who are in their mid 20s think like they are 30-40 years old.

In terms of work experience, it goes all the way down to the efforts of the individual. If someone senior who only works 8 hours a day and has no interest in improving himself, he will (sooner or later) be replaced by someone junior but has the urge and will to work harder in order to improve himself.

Mindset is the key here, not the age. Working experience and maturity go hand in hand with age most of the time – not all the time. So, don’t judge a junior person to be “less qualified” than a senior who behaves like a kid. 🙂

Love life/friendship

I’m not very sure about other regions, but in Asia, age plays an important role when one chooses his/her life partner. Most Asian girls prefer older and more mature guys, whereas guys don’t really care about age (as long as the gap is not too big). Fact is, age is just a number. Being younger does not mean the guy is not financially stable, and it does not mean the guy is more childish than she is. What matters most in any relationship, be it love life or friendship, is how you two (or you all) “click” with each other.

Just make sure there’s no generation gap (too big gap will result in this) and you two love and care for each other (applies to friends as well), have the common interests, etc ….I guess that’s all that matters… I might be wrong though.

Life

To be honest, whenever we grow up or older…..our parents are too. My parents are no longer young. I can see that they get easily tired after some simple activities…and their muscles/bones are no longer that strong. It hurts my heart when I see that. But I know it’s something that nobody can change. All I can tell them is to stop thinking they are old. Yes…you need to keep that kind of mentality. Believe it or not, it works. Whenever they mention they are old, I have to lecture them and remind them not to say that again. And they will suddenly feel slightly more energized and said “Yeah ! We cannot say we’re old!” 🙂 Whenever they do that, it brightens my life a little……though I didn’t show much. 🙂

To me, age is indeed just a number. It’s true that in life, this “number” will influence some of the things we do. However, I still strongly believe that mindset plays an important role. If you believe that you’re young, you will be – physically and mentally.

So, for all of you out there who always have this fear of getting older …please don’t because you cannot change it. You can never escape from it. You just have to accept it with an open arm…and tell yourself “Age is just a number. It doesn’t really matter much“.

It only matters to the extent that you allow it to. 🙂

In case you’re wondering…No, this is not some advertisement asking you to key in some numbers and look for “friends” to talk to. This is a post by me. 🙂

This morning (Monday morning…..) I came across this conversation or dialog by a local radio DJ which somehow woke me up (well, it’s Monday and I wasn’t driving). The DJ actually talked about human beings always want to talk to other human beings. It’s our nature. We need to feel belonged to somewhere…some places, any places. How true is this? Well, no matter how much we deny…it is a fact. It is our nature. Human nature.

Let’s have a simple scenario. I have a friend, who is very quiet (a bit nerdy)…and very very shy (to the extent of being weird). He doesn’t talk to anyone in the class. Well, it’s not that he doesn’t want to talk to anyone…it’s just he’s too passive, introvert or shy. So, there was this one day when we (me and my friends) approached him (sounds like a gangster but we’re not) and asked him to join us for a basketball match. His usually boring and moody eyes suddenly brightened up. He looked as if he’s a completely different person. He nodded his head non-stop (you know..those very excited mood).

So, the following day, we were having a simple basketball practice match. He was there alone, in a corner, practicing his basketball skills – dribbling, crossover (with an imaginary opponent), etc. We were playing the usual game of course….and well, we did talk to him from time to time during the day – we’re all very caring you see.

Everyday, he was there to practice…very hard, even when we were not there for the match. Finally, the “match” day has come. Well, it was a normal game for us….but it wasn’t for him. He started to have this “sense of belonging” to somewhere – to us, the basketball team (erm..even though we just ask him to play for fun). When the match started, he retrieved the ball, wow-ed all of us with his skills (4 days of training….and he did a lot of tricks that I couldn’t do) and went pass 4 opponents …and he did a back flip lay up (erm…should be called back flip, since he couldn’t see the net when he did the lay up) … and he scored ! He was jumping up and down, up and down and ran towards us and said “High 5 !! I did it !!“. We were all very happy for him because he finally found a place – a place where he could find someone to talk to.

However, we weren’t be able to react to the “High 5“…because well, he scored the wrong net… it was an “own goal“.

Well, you see…sometimes people don’t really want to speak out. They are feeling moody, down, troubled…yet, they do not want to approach their friends and tell them the problems. They keep these problems in their hearts until someone approaches them and ask “Are you okay? Is anything troubling you?“. Then, they will pour their heart out.

It’s not that they do not want to share. They are just too shy to trouble someone with their problems. Everyone in this world needs people to talk to… needs a place to belong to…. Let’s face it. We don’t live alone in this world.

So, the next time you see a lonely person sitting quietly and look troubled…approach him/her and show that you are concerned. Talk to the person and see if you can help. Make this world a better place to live for everyone. Well, just make sure that person is not mentally ill….erm, otherwise, good luck. 😀

We all have our own share of setbacks from time to time. Nobody can escape from it. It just depends on what degree is the setbacks – it could be failing in your exam, falling out with your lover, involved in an accident, hospitalized, etc. It also depends on how you yourself define the word “setback”.

Why do I say so? To some people, a minor problem like not able to attend a friend’s party or not achieving 100% score for an exam paper (er…there are really such people) is a setback. On the contrary, some people define something as serious as being hospitalized, or being diagnosed with a serious illness (*touch wood*)  as a setback.

Besides having the right mindset, it is also very important to know that you should always learn to handle setbacks properly. Some people chose to ignore the setbacks and carry on with whatever they are doing. Wise choice, but not the wisest since some setbacks will come back to haunt you. For example, getting a poor performance review means you need to improve yourself before the next performance review. If you ignore it, it will show how dedicated an employee you are. You won’t change. Your shortcomings will still be there. That’s why, if you are the kind of person who prefers to ignore everything and carry on with your life, just be sure that the setback/problem will not come back to haunt you in the future. Choose wisely.

There are also some people who dwell on the setback for a long period of time. Too long. My advice is…. if you feel like crying, then cry your heart out. I always tell people that “after the rain, the sky will always look clearer and you’ll know which way to go“. Just make sure that your “sky” will not always be filled with “dark clouds” even after you cried. 🙂 Hope you get what I mean.

In the end, it is the solution that we want. Not the problem. Don’t dwell on the problem. Let’s focus on the solution. I know it’s human nature to keep complaining about the problem, but what’s the point? You’ll just be wasting your energy. I always tell people that rather than complaining, maybe we should start looking at what we can do to change the situation. Having 3 or 4 brains together to think about a possible solution is always better than 3 or 4 brains dwelling in the problem for too long.

I know it’s hard to do all these. I’ve experienced setbacks myself. I’ve climbed back up whenever I fell and I know it’s never easy. Yet, we have to do that. Life goes on. This life is too wonderful to let a few setbacks ruin it. 🙂 So, live your life to the fullest. Don’t dwell on the problems. Solve them ! And if you can’t, nobody can.

In case you’re wondering why this topic, I assure you (especially my supervisors) that this backstabbing incident happened to me few years ago and not now. 🙂  And now, let’s continue with the post.

Office politics has nowadays becoming a norm in most of the companies. The bigger a company is (more employees), the more office politics you’ll have to face..unless, of course, if you’re a very lucky person.

Office politics can mean a lot of things….and sometimes, you’re being dragged into it unwillingly. Backstabbing is one form of such incidents. I’ve been backstabbed before in my career (few years ago when I was a trainee in an IT company)….and I know it wasn’t a very pleasant feeling. It was like being made a scapegoat for someone’s mistake. I doubt anyone of you will like that.

So what should you do when you’re being backstabbed…or being dragged into office politics unwillingly? Here are some suggestions from me (do feel free to debate because I might be wrong).

  1. Continue to do your own work.
    • The first option is of course to ignore the politics or whoever is backstabbing you and continue with your work. That’s your responsibility and the least you could do.
    • Just make sure that you have completely nothing to do with the incident and you’re the innocent party.
  2. Speak to other colleagues
    • If the situation doesn’t improve, and things become unbearable, talk to your other colleagues.
    • Surely, there will be someone on your side. Talk to them and see what do they think about your current situation.
    • Avoid fingerpointing. Don’t ever accuse the backstabber of anything. You do not want to trust the wrong person and start a World War 3 inside the company.
    • Just ask them for their opinions and see if they’ve heard anything which will harm you and your reputation in the company.
    • They will tell you honestly if they’re on your side.
  3. Speak to the so-called culprit
    • Talk to the person who you know is the main culprit.
    • See his/her side of the story.
    • Do not start pointing your finger at the person.
    • Try to ask a few questions such as “I’ve heard something going on behind my back about myself…do you know what is it? I’m a bit concerned“, etc.
    • If he sounds very displeased or “fake“, then most probably he has something to do with it. Tell him that you would appreciate anyone (any colleagues, him included) to talk to you before backstabbing you.
    • Remember, you can’t change something you are not aware of.
  4. Speak to your supervisor(s)
    • If the culprit is not willing to admit, and the backstabbing is still on-going, talk to your supervisor.
    • See his side of the story and ask if he knows anything.
    • Ask him for advice if he does know something.
    • Make sure you tell your supervisor of your commitment to the company and that such backstabbing incident is quite demotivating. If there’s a solution, you would like to fix this up as soon as possible.
  5. If your supervisor is the culprit, talk to his/her supervisor
    • But if your supervisor is the main culprit…then things might get a little bit more complicated than usual.
    • Talk to the supervisor of your supervisor if there’s really no choice.
    • See if the person can give you any useful advice. Again, state your desire to work hard for the company.
  6. Change department or transfer to other branches
    • If nobody can help you…..and things are still the same, I advise you to change to another department or transfer to other company branches.
    • This is to get away from this group of people.
    • We can’t control what other people talk or do, we can only control what we ourselves can do.
    • Moving away from this group of people might be a good solution. You need to get your motivation back on track in order to perform properly in your career.
  7. Change company
    • If changing to another department is not possible…I believe you have to move on and change to another company.
    • Office politics is always something which is very hard to avoid…and fix. You will have to either cope with it, try your hard to avoid it, fix it, or get away from it.

I hope that this few “methods” can help those of you (who are currently being dragged into an office politic) to do something to salvage your career….which is unwillingly being damaged by some idiots.

Hope it helps. 🙂

Here’s a very good article – a speech by Steve Jobs. I find it very meaningful indeed. “Stay hungry, stay foolish”.

http://news-service.stanford.edu/news/2005/june15/jobs-061505.html 

Communication is a necessity in our daily life – be it with our family, colleagues, friends, customers, etc (even Tom Hanks in the movie “Cast Away” needs to communicate with the volleyball “Wilson” in order to keep his sanity in check). But how many of us actually is generous when we speak? Not many I believe.
I live in Malaysia, the place where everyone lives based on the typical passive culture. Here, the people are normally quite polite and courteous (sadly, not on the road…so…do drive carefully when you’re in Malaysia). However, they are polite from within… For example, if you happen to go to a shop and purchase something, it is normal for the shopkeeper to thank you. However, it doesn’t hurt much for you, as a customer, to thank him back for helping you in getting your stuff. How many of us actually do this?

Another example. I was in a lift with some strangers….and when the lift stopped at certain levels, I will press the “Open” button to ensure everyone goes out before I myself step out from the lift (erm…well, sometimes, the censor doesn’t work. I do this to avoid seeing people getting sandwiched by the lift’s door). How many actually thank me? 3 out of 10 perhaps. And don’t get me wrong, I am not expecting anyone to thank me. I just feel it’s funny that some people are so stingy with their words.

Also, if you want to thank someone, make sure the person hears it. If you’re a manager who appreciates whatever your employees did…..thank them so that they are able to hear. Don’t thank them for the sake of thanking them (only you can hear). Make them feel they’re appreciated. This will make them feel good about themselves. Believe it or not, it’s one of the basic skills a good manager must have.

If you’re happy with someone, tell them. If you’re grateful, thank them. If you’re not happy with them, tell them honestly what you feel is wrong based on their behavior…not on them as a person. Choose your words nicely and send your messages over. Be sincere. Be thankful. Be generous.

Remember, it won’t take you too much of an effort to thank someone, but that little bit of effort from yours, might be able to improve someone’s life/mood/day and might even prove to be more precious that you could ever imagined. 

Recently, I’ve been reading a book called “The One Minute Manager” by Ken Blanchard. It’s a very thin book but its content is as good as some more long-winded leadership and management books.

In this book, there’s a part which talks about an employee’s meeting with his manager to discuss a problem. The employee was having a difficult time trying to solve a problem with one of the contractors. That’s why he approached the manager, hoping that the manager has some advice or can offer some help for him.

Well, this is normal for most of us. When we are faced with a problem….we will try for maybe few times and give up especially if there’s someone there to help us with the problem. We assume that this person will help us fix the problem easily without troubling ourselves with it.

Easy isn’t it? It sure is…that is why most of us would go for this option.

However, in this book, the manager (who is known as “The One Minute Manager) refused to help when the employee asked “Can you please help me to solve this?“. Why? The answer is simple. The employee’s role is to fix the problem, not the manager’s. By helping the employee, the manager is making him too dependent on the manager………and also wasting the manager’s time which is meant to do something else.

What the manager should actually do is to hint at the employee on what should be done. Questions like “What is the problem?“, “How do you like it to be if there’s no such problem?”, “How do you intend to get to this path you wanted?“, “Is there any plan for it? Do you think this plan of yours can work? If no, do you have any other plans?“.

I believe these questions will make the employee think for himself. If he cannot answer the 2nd question which is “How do you like it to be if this problem doesn’t exist?“…….then it is not a problem. The employee is just complaining without putting some thought into how to fix the problem.

That is why we must always remember that we need to be independent especially when it comes to solving a problem. Other people can only give us hints, tips or advice…but they should not be solving it for us. Let’s fix it ourselves.

Hope it helps.

The answer is yes and no. As a typical presales guy would say, “It depends“. It depends on the company you are working in, and the supervisor who is managing you.

If you are in a company where the people is taught to be open-minded…..be able to voice out their opinions constructively for the benefits of others….and where age and experience do not play a vital role – then, you definitely can. It’s never easy, but it’s entirely possible.

If you are working in such a company, and under a supervisor who treasures your skills/talents/contributions and acknowledges them……….then, things will become easier for you.

However, if you are in a company where seniority rules……where the upper management does not accept any form of opinions/feedbacks from the lower level employees (stubborn people)…then forget it. You are just wasting your energy. Even if you have a good boss who is willing to listen and acccept….it won’t be good enough since the upper management team has every right to reject and deny whatever you are suggesting to them.

So, what kind of company do you think you are in? If you are not very sure of it yourself, then talk to your direct supervisor. He might know about the company’s processes and mentality better than you do. And he is also the person who will decide whether you can make an impact, or not. So, talk to him.

If you are in the right company, and working under the right person (i know some of you might think that you can overtake your supervisor and voice out to someone higher up……..well, it’s possible but it’s always better to respect whoever is supervising you), and most importantly, you have the will to contribute and make an impact…..then by all means, go ahead ! Voice out your opinions, concerns, problems AND solutions. If you are given the responsibility to take charge in order to make changes, then it’s better still. Go lead the initiatives and make an impact !

By making an impact, be it big or small, you are not only helping your company but you are also learning a lot of stuff. Why not take this opportunity to learn, and at the same time, make an impact and create a name for yourself ? Just make sure that once you have the plan out and approved…….you have to complete it.

Hope it helps.

This morning, I was stuck in a traffic jam while on my way to work (thankfully, i wasn’t driving. hohoho) and there was this radio program which talked about career ladies. Apparently, the number of working ladies is growing fast in our otherwise “passive” Asian culture. And some of these working ladies, choose not to get married. They prefer career, over romance.

I know this is a very personal question…since it differs greatly from one individual to the other but here I am, throwing this same question to you – Would you prefer to purse your career, over your love life, or vice versa?

Let’s take a scenario (which actually happened to one of my close friends). You met your true love in the company you currently working on. Your job suddenly became very interesting and fun….from the otherwise boring + mindless 9-5 routine. No serious problem occurs between you 2. The only problem is your job. Stagnant. No prospect. Time wasting. So, do you want to remain in the company for the sake of romance since you can still work together with your loved one, or you prefer to take the first step and start hunting for a job with a better prospect.

It’s a very difficult choice to make and it really depends on the priority of the particular individual. If to the person, romance is important but he/she is not worried that changing a new job will deter or destroy the relationship. The love is so strong that it should be able to withstand anything. Or, if the person fears that by leaving the loved one for another new job…….distance will separate them. With the type of working hour that we practice nowadays, it is not something new that the relationship between the 2 lovers deteriorates if they are not working together. The only “free time” they have is after office hour (still ok if they stay nearby) on weekdays…or Saturdays and Sundays. Worse still if one of the couple is actually working on a project in another part of the world.

Well…believe it or not, distance can make the heart grows fonder. However, people don’t say “long distance relationship is hard to maintain” for nothing.

For me, I feel that if you really love somebody……try to go an extra mile for him or her. However, you should also believe that if your love is so strong, nothing will stand in your way. Nothing can stop both of you from remaining together. And if you have such belief and you can make it happen……then, move on and pursue your career. Because I believe that life is not just about romance. There are things in life that romance cannot provide…but only your career can…by doing what you like.

And if you’re looking for romance in your office….do take some time to read this – http://workcoach.wordpress.com/2007/03/29/sex-and-the-workplace/