Common Sense is Uncommon

October 16th, 2013


I was reading an article on CNN that we need to limit the human population for us to survive. Link here. 

I feel that we need to look closely at our lives and see whether they are going to last for the next 100,200 years or more. I have even thought of a few possibilities in terms of transport, business and food 

Just have a read and give a thought to it. Where will we be if we do not make a change?

Today, the Malaysian health minister said that sugar subsidies should be reduced in order to reduce the number of diabetic cases.

Article here

But if you think about it, where do we consume sugar? In Malaysia, it is mostly from our drinks at the mamak and all food outlets. Also it doesn't help that most of us have a sweet tooth as well...

It took me a long time to reduce the amount of sugar I take in my drinks. Just cutting down on coke to once in a while has actually helped me maintain my few KG weight loss. And during this time, I get to notice that there are very few and cheap alternatives to soft drinks alone. Majority of eateries in KL alone serve fountain soft drinks and if you want a non-sweetened option, you usually have coffee or tea as an alternative. The worst case is that when you want water, they only have premium bottled water at an extremely high cost. 

To me, Mr Health Minister, please ensure that all restaurants serve filtered water to all patrons for free in order to encourage a healthier lifestyle. Please encourage the reduction in prices of healthier foods like fruits and vegetables in order for us to eat healthier. In my opinion, when McDonalds can serve you a meal cheaper than the nearby 'chap fan' shop and still make money, then how is that encouraging people to eat healthily? 

I always think about life and how can we move the world forward. There are so many ways but I always believe that we must invest in training the next generation up in order to progress as a species.

I have seen and heard many times that there are managers who do not invest in training up their staff and keep intimidating them until they leave. And yet, these people say that their staff sucks and are horrible. However, if you were the one who hired them in the first place, why do you say they suck? Does that mean that you suck as an interviewer? (Note: No one has a 100% track record of hiring but many cases I hear of involve majority of the team)

But anyway, what I am talking about today is whenever we have direct staff or junior team mates, we must take the initiative to coach and guide them. If not, no once will be able to replace you and release you to do something more useful. If we don't encourage and train up juniors, do we have the right to complain that there are no good staff out there? If we don't train anyone up, how will anyone be able to do the job?

So, do reflect on yourself whether you encourage and teach the people you know or do you just pour cold water on them. And are you afraid if one of them replaces you...

Some food for though. 


Fail Fast


It's been a while since I wrote something... been having other things on my mind and I keep forgetting what i wanted to write about anyway...

As i was talking the other day with the FI group, we talked about failing fast. We were discussing it on the context of starting our own company and knowing when it is time to pull the plug. It's not about failing but to know when is not the time to push things through. 

I think this is quite relevant in our daily lives covering everything from fixing the leaking pipe to the light bulbs and to some extent, even our relationships. We must know when it is time to pull the plug and call for help! We can't do everything alone and even if we can, it probably is not good for our mental health. 

Many times in our lives, we will always try to make things work out. We will work harder to complete projects, burning the midnight oil just because we have to. We will tolerate behavior from our colleagues that is detrimental to ourselves and yet we persevere because we are afraid of what may happen. End of the day, we have to learn to let go when the time comes. To fail fast. 

A case in point we were discussing the other day were some start ups that have been around for 2-3 years but nothing major has materialized out of it. The idea when it was founded a few years ago was great but with the world and technology evolving at such a rapid pace, it has now become an OK idea. So is it time to fail? It will always depend on the founder and how much emotional attachment he/she has on the project. And also how much money the person has. 

End of the day, we need to know when it is time to move on. When to look at other things and when to push to complete things. It is a choice we have to learn for ourselves...

I was having some drinks with a few friends at the mamak store the other day and we started talking about work. One of my friends was telling me that the HR of a company I used to work with said I am banned from returning because I worked there for just a few months. 

Mmm... banned... so be it. I have been told that quite a few times and I don't care.  But this is a problem that I notice in many HR and hiring managers. If you leave, you are at fault. It's your fault you didn't stick to it and you wouldn't take the pressure/shit/problems etc. 

But how is that being true to yourself? Just working for the sake of ensuring that your resume shows you were at a company for a few years? Wasting your time not learning anything new or growing yourself as an employee? 

Well, I am classified as a job hopper. I change jobs more often than others and you can check my LinkedIn on how many jobs I have had over the years. And I always see that there are so many HR/Head Hunters/people that tell me I am stupid for doing so. I however have a different opinion. 

If goes back to one of my first jobs where my manager gave me some career advice. He told me that since I was young and have a long way ahead of me, always update your resume every 3 months. It's not to find a job but for you to know if you are growing. If you have nothing to add to your resume in 3 months means you have not done or accomplished anything in the last 3 months. And if after 6/9 months you can't add anything useful, you are wasting your time at the company. 

I believe that we need to constantly grow in order to become better. We have to be better than the previous generation else we will not be moving forward. I practice what my old manager taught me and I look at my resume every 5-6 months to see if I am growing and if I am learning anything at all. And if I find I am wasting my time, I will look to move on to be able to learn more in order to grow myself.

It's kind of weird that managers are scared of people like me. It's not that i will leave in a short period of time but I will leave if I am not able to grow. I don't plan on taking over their job but it is important that we all continuously increase our knowledge and skills. 

So, lets see if anyone will be willing to hire me again as it is not just about work but also about improving myself. 

Was looking at my FB feed and I found this interesting. I don't think that this is 100% accurate but it gives us a general way to look at how things are going and what we do 
I always wonder if i am the only one who does job research and focuses on what I need to improve on to become better at what I do. It's not just a simple what do I want to be in 3 or 5 years time but actually looking for those who do it and ask them about the job itself.

Just felt like writing about this today as for many years, I have usually been the youngest in whatever post I do and I do feel I am pretty well compensated for what I do. Or maybe it's just because money is not a major motivator for me. 

But anyway, what do I do? Well, it's simple... I just observe and ask questions. Lots and lots of questions. I ask so many questions until some people get sick of me. Well, I am trying to achieve my objective!

I just look to ask on a few basic things
  1. What do you do
  2. What do you need to qualify
  3. What do you look for when hiring a replacement
  4. What do you think about me
  5. What are the skills that are must have for the job

It's easy right? But it's more than just that. You need to know how to ask questions and also to get the information that you want. You need to think on your feet and have an objective. 

So as you think about moving up the ladder and look for better jobs, you need to do some research on your target jobs and talk to the people who do it. A skip level 1x1 is a really great tool to ask how to become your boss but most people take it as a time to complain about their bosses. 

I have been thinking a lot recently on where should my path take me. And all more importantly I have figured out is what I enjoy doing. Earlier I discussed that we need to know what we don't want to do and that makes it easier for us to know what we like. So now lets explore on the stuff that makes us happy.

Why did I start off with what we don't want? It's simple. We must know what we don't want before we can concentrate on what we want. I not, we will focus on the things we want and forget about what we dislike. And by continuing to accept things that we dislike will make us unhappy in the end.

The path is very simple, like earlier when we listed out things that we don't want to do, start to list out things that you want to do. Be realistic. Just because you want to be a CEO of a company doesn't mean you are qualified for it now. (I'll talk about skills planning in another post, on another day)

Once you know what you would enjoy doing, it's then simple to add the lists together and start looking at jobs that will be able to grant you both. Choose what is a must have and what is a nice to have else there will be no job in the world that would satisfy you. Like I said earlier, its about living with the maybe's and staying away from the will not's. 

So, earlier I talked about what do you want and also for you to think about what are you bad at. Now, it is time to put those things down and for you to narrow down what do you actually want! Yay, getting somewhere!

But don't get ahead of yourself. We must know what are we want to get ourselves into before looking into getting what we want. We need to be sure that we will not be doing things that we don't like in order to be happy doing what we are asked to do.

To make it simple, lets look at a list of things we usually don't like to do. 
  1. Monotonous routines
  2. Door to door sales
  3. Lack of direction

So, basically we will need something that is higher up in the work food chain. We don;t want to be doing the entry level boring stuff. At my level, I can choose not to but for someone starting out, you got to prove yourself first. 

Speaking of being in the higher levels, we actually have to do more of the things that we don't like in order to do what we would like. It's a trade off. Simply put, we need to do it because we have the necessary skills and we reached these levels because we passed through doing the things that we didn't like in the first place. And we did them well.

Next after knowing what we don't want to do, we have to think what can we actually live with? So please look through your list and choose, what can you live with and why? Why can you take it? With that, you will now have a list of things you will never do, things you may do, and things you don;t mind doing. 

Stay tuned for the next post where we will start looking at what we want to do!


Choosing your path


As I sit and write this, it echos in my head "What do you want to do?". And I find that this is a common question I come across when talking to friends about career choices.

It's not that I am an expert in this, but for myself, it does help to write it out in order to get some clarity in my head. I too am always thinking what do I want to do? What do i want to achieve?

But it's more than just that. It's more than what do you want to do, what are you good at, what do you have passion for... It's also about what do you not want to do, what you dislike, what can you live with and what compromises are you willing to take. What are you going to handle?

I know for many its all about how much am I going to get paid and that no matter what, you can take it for the money. Kinda sounds like some profession? Not knowing what you are getting until u get in?

So while I think more and write more on this over the next few days, think of this first.

"What am I not good at?" 

Sounds simple? It's harder than it looks. Knowing what you are not good at will help you choose what do you want to do, and ultimately knowing what you are good at.