Seoul Trip in March: Part 2

I took loads of photos during this trip, that it seems an injustice to showcase everything in just one posting. So here are more snapshots of Seoul..

Breathtaking view and stroll to the Namsan Tower where most of Seoul could be seen from the top.

Petite France, a miniature town of a village in France. This is the site where the famous korean variety show dubbed Running Man did a shooting for one of the episode.

Nami Island. The most famous site for the korean drama “Winter Sonata”.




Seoul Trip in March: Part 1

It was a dream come true when I finally made my inaugural trip to Seoul in March this year (2017). Being an avid audience of Korean Variety Shows, I have always been fascinated by anything that is Korean.

March in Seoul, is a time when winter is just coming to an end, and spring is peeking in. The weather was supposed to be around 14 degrees celsius, But because of the wind, it was cooler than expected. Nonetheless, I had the most memorable experience and I look forward to visiting Seoul again in the near future.

The trip to Seoul was a packaged trip customised by members of the Women Graduates’ Association. Luckily, a dear friend who was a member of the group offered slots to join the trip, since they were looking for few more people to meet the group target of more than 20 pax. The 8-days trip had cost BND1880 per pax which included return international flights, return domestic flights to Jeju, hotel, meals (breakfast/lunch/dinner) and coach transport. We had to pay separately for travel insurance. We also have a rep from Freme Travel and a korean tourist guide/translator as part of the tour.
Here are few snapshots of my wonderful trip to Seoul..

Bring cash

Since Brunei currency is not accepted in Seoul, it is advisable to bring those currencies that are widely accepted such as the Korean Won, Singapore Dollars and American Dollars. Cash is useful especially if you plan to visit all the markets where they sell affordable souvenirs.

Group of the Women Graduates’ Association and family members posing with the Brunei flat at Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul.

Visit to the Kimchi School was enlightening. I had first hand experience on how to prepare kimchi. After all the hard work, I was able to taste some fresh seaweeds and cabbage kimchi.


Took the opportunity to doll up wearing the Hanbok, korean traditional dress. It was really comfortable and pretty.

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Myeongdong Market has got to be my favourite place to go as you can get anything there at affordable prices, especially street food. The varieties of things to see was very exciting and memorable.

I ate well throughout the trip. And my favourite korean food have got to be the sweet potatoes, crispy bean sprout, and rice cakes.

One day trip to Jeju Island, truly too short to see everything. Places visited included a traditional village, teddy museum, and Jeju seashore.


Dealing with 5 Characters at Work

In my previous post, I briefly explained the 5 prominent characters at work, which require customised treatment to ensure that they become a productive member of the organisation. So how do we deal with each of these character types?

The Runner

Type: They come to work, punch in the attendance, do a bit (minimal) of work and spend the rest of the day at the canteen or out fetching their kids from schools and sending them to another schools. Basically they earn a salary to do their own personal things during working hours.

Suggested Solution: Institutionalising a personal work plan would be useful to ensure this type of employee to commit and delivery based on their pay-check! Since work attendance may still be a problem due to the unavoidable personal responsibilities, applying work flexi-hour option may provide a win-win solution. The main point here is open communication and compromise are needed to align the capacity/ needs of the employee to the needs and aspiration of the organisation.

The Robot

Type: They work in the background. They just follow whatever you tell them to do. If you don’t tell them, they don’t do anything productive, just loiter around making empty conversations and wasting time at work. Basically their income is for doing supervised work only.

Suggested Solution: Providing daily work schedules and deliverables may be useful. Again, for this to be successful there need to be open communication and continuous facilitation. The employee needs to take responsibility for what they need to delivery on a daily basis. So a stake has to be created. An option is to link deliverables to their annual bonus e.g. Significant unfinished work equates deducted bonus.

The Invisible

These are the quiet ones. They come to work. You ask them to do a specific task, which they will do. After that, they disappear. Then they reappear when they call y0u. When you’re not looking, they disappear again. They want to earn their income for not doing anything.

Suggested Solution: Disciplinary enforcement is key here. A reminder has to be issued to the employee to put their acts together or face disciplinary action. Truancy is never acceptable, especially if it done more frequent than what is normally acceptable.

The Stray

These are usually people with potentials, but seem to be lost without a leader. They try to do something great, but usually go astray or stop short due to lack of support. They are easily demotivated and disoriented. So they end up just doing mediocre things. They want to earn their living by doing great things, but end up procrastinating and end up in self-pity.

Suggested Solution: Mentoring is much needed here. With a dedicated mentor, the employee will be more motivated to explore their creativity for enhanced productivity. Choices of mentor must be aligned to what is “comfortable, but yet assertive” to provide the much needed leadership push to help this employee excel, in a progressive way.

The Ace

These are the high achiever. They seek our sure wins and constant leadership attention. They are a type of narcissist. They don’t stick around though. They leave once they sense the working environment is helping to nurture their egos and materialistic ambitions, (and if they find greener pasture than their current state).

Suggested Solution: If your have the resources, make career progression highly competitive and reward the employee when it is due. A highly reliable system is needed to ensure talent retention is done impartially and based on recorded deliverables. It is also worthwhile to allocate special projects to prospects that out-shine the rest. But above all, I need to emphasize the need to ensure impartiality in any judgments exercised in identifying the potentials. Everything must be evidence-based and deliberated by a standing committee comprising leaders, managers, peers and people under their supervision. 360 degrees feedback mechanism is a must!

If you want to share your own experiences relating to this post, plz feel free to leave your comment.


Characters at Work

Having worked for more than 17 years at the same organisation, I have the privilege to observe various characters at work that can be categorised into 5 prominent groups, namely: (1) The Runner (2) The Robot (3) The Invisible (4) The Stray (3) The Ace.

The Runner

They come to work, punch in the attendance, do a bit (minimal) of work and spend the rest of the day at the canteen or out fetching their kids from schools and sending them to another schools. Basically they earn a salary to do their own personal things during working hours.

The Robot

They work in the background. They just follow whatever you tell them to do. If you don’t tell them, they don’t do anything productive, just loiter around making empty conversations and wasting time at work. Basically their income is for doing supervised work only.

The Invisible

These are the quiet ones. They come to work. You ask them to do a specific task, which they will do. After that, they disappear. Then they reappear when you call them. When you’re not looking, they disappear again. They want to earn their income for not doing anything.

The Stray

These are usually people with potentials, but seem to be lost without a leader. They try to do something great, but usually go astray or stop short due to lack of support. They are easily demotivated and disoriented. So they end up just doing mediocre things. They want to earn their living by doing great things, but end up procrastinating and indulge in self-pity.

The Ace

These are the high achiever. They seek our sure wins and constant leadership attention. They are a type of narcissist. They don’t stick around though. They leave once they sense the working environment is not helping to nurture their egos and materialistic ambitions, (and of course, if they find greener pasture than their current state).

So how do we handle each of these groups? I will share my thoughts on that in my next post…


To Forgive, To Forget

“Once bitten, Twice Shy”.

Being heart broken is what I am referring to here. Regardless of the cause, once heart broken, it is not easy to just forgive or forget.

I have had my own fair share of bad experiences. At those times, I would have never thought it possible to feel so many emotions all at once and at random intensity. Crying endlessly for days, making your eyes so swollen as if you had marshmallows for eyeballs. Feeling as if the whole world turned against you, isolating your and pushing you into the furthest corner of emptiness. And totally losing every inch of your self control and self confidence, thinking that you are human after all, you are not invincible, and you do bleed when pricked.

The experience had humanised me, to the very core. During that down-time, life just seemed at its worst, desolate, and vacant. Nothing seemed to make sense anymore, everybody seemed like the enemy, and I was convinced that I had lost this battle.

Without strong will, those moments may bring about one’s demise. Breaking down, losing yourself to sudden depression and helplessness is not an easy feat to overcome.

But it is not impossible to overcome this. Though slowly, but steadily you can overcome it. There isn’t a guarantee timeline for total healing or recovery. It depends on how fast you can forgive and forget that bad experience.

But through those experiences I learnt an important lesson. Sadness is a necessity. Sadness has a humbling effect. Humility is the outcome of bad experiences. It is still a new experience for me. I am not coping perfectly all the time. I am still trying to heal. And I just hope the healing process will make me stronger and wiser than before. InsyaaAllah.



Readiness and Preparedness, An Idealistic Aspiration.

In many deliberations about the issues of readiness and preparedness, there seem to be a lack of realism on what it takes for one to be totally ready and prepared to face any eventuality.

Readiness and preparedness are outcomes that require prerequisites such as resources in excess, real-time decision making process, functional delivery framework, innovative working environment and high performing human resource.

Of course, this is easier said than done. The consequent questions to ask would be:

(1) How much excess in resources is needed and how can it be sustainable during times of austerity?

(2) How can information be managed differently to facilitate real-time decision making process? And can decision making power be delegated to those on the ground, (and away from the conventional top-bottom practice)?

(3) How can multiple implementors/ stakeholders communicate better and perform effectively together?

(4) What changes are needed in the existing systems and working culture to enable and promote innovation at the work place?

(5) How can creativity facilitate and generate greater motivation for talented human resources to be productive continuously? And (6) How do we ensure alignment across all of these factors (cause-effect relations)?

So how many of these questions can be realistically answered by todays decision makers and managers?

Observing, ongoing practices within public service in Brunei. There are several instances that may be hindering our ability to achieve readiness and preparedness, such as:

(1) Decision making process remains an exclusive right. Only people at the top make the decision but deprived of consolidated and unfiltered data to justify the decisions;

(2) Resources need sustainable investments. But currently, resources are not planned and managed based on longer term needs, but limited (delayed) by budget availability (austerity measure) for that fiscal year;

(3) Functional barriers (hogging) across all government agencies prevent people from working as a proper team (each holding on to their “functional powers” as if it is a power race);

(4) Existing working systems remains unchanged at the core, despite the various attempts made to change management styles on the surface;

(5) Creativity and innovation are mere lip-service, where “thinking outside of the box” remain a limited exercise (behind closed door, and not in front of the boss); and

(6) Performance is measured within individual institutions/ agency, but such data is not not aligned (shared) across other agencies (for holistic overview and consolidation).

In view of the Vision 2035 timeline, urgent and serious attention is needed on all these matters. It is no longer acceptable to formulate policies and plans without prior public/ stakeholder engagements. It is no longer acceptable to plan and strategize in silo, within the four-walls of individual agency. It is no longer beneficial to not optimize on existing talents and their ideas to help realise the Vision.

Changes are needed both on the surface and at the core. Leaders can no longer make decision behind their fancy and over-priced executive office tables. To be ready and prepared, everyone (such as top executives, heads of units, managers, employees and the public) need to work as a team. Everyone’s opinions matters. Creativity and innovation needs a renewed working systems that will allow it to flourish and grow.

So who is willing to take the first giant step (away from traditional leadership and into transformational leadership) for the sake of readiness and preparedness?


Response Strategy Needed to Address Emerging Public Utilities Disruptions

Power or water outages are inconveniences for the general public.  So the relevant agencies need to have in place an effective response strategy to minimise such inconveniences.

For instance, after more than 10 hours of halted water service, the relevant agencies have failed to provide counter measures such as provision of temporary portable water tanks at strategic locations while the repair works are underway. How can the members of the public be expected to live a normal life during such down-time? Cooking, cleaning, and even performing our daily prayers become a challenge.

In addition to that, calling the hotline 123 proved to be meaningless when they remain unaware or uninformed about what caused the water outage because they claimed they have not received any feedback from the relevant utilities agencies.

Even using the 123 to request for water top-up seems to take ages. We call in, ask for the water top up, they take our location detail, give us a complaint number, and yet after 2 hours still no water top up.

Is this how the public service providers will continue to conduct its business, despite the promises of improved lifestyles and public services espoused in the Vision 2035?

Changes remain superficial. Improvement from the delivery side is still in dire need of urgent attention.

I hope, for Bruneians’ sake, we wake up to reality and striving for changes that will bring about direct, tangible and meaningful improvements to ease the lives of the citizens.

It is time to stop “talking and launching” about changes. It is time to just act on it and get your hands dirty!


Service Schemes, A Threat for Talent Retention in the Public Service

It is uncertain why service schemes were first introduced and how it managed to remain as a deep-rooted practice in Brunei’s public service employment. Some of the justifications for installing service scheme (I think) included the desire for proper career progression for specific schemes, providing structured capacity building program and systematic career management.

Based on my almost two decades of employment in the public service, I failed to see these justifications being religiously implemented in practice. I have transitioned between two different service schemes throughout my career in the public service. In my current service scheme, there is definitely no prospect for any career progression (because it is dependent of post vacancies, and budget availability to create new posts); there is no structured capacity building program for my profession (only based on random nomination based on course availability at the Institute of Civil Service); and definitely nobody is managing my career at the moment. In addition to this, it is not easy (sometimes almost impossible) to try to infiltrate another (different) service scheme. It just seems administratively unacceptable for an employee from Service Scheme A to move into a different Service Scheme B. I still cannot comprehend the reason behind this.

So I am like a floating employee, just doing my job with no carrots at the end of the stick.

But certainly, it is observed other specific services schemes are allocated more attention and privilege (highly favoured) simply because of the perception that those services schemes are more important and ‘successful’ in grooming future leaders. Here, I am referring to the Administrative Officer Scheme. This is the scheme where most of the Permanent Secretaries originate from.

So what went wrong? What can be done differently to effectively manage ALL types of professions in the civil service?

Brunei has a limited pool of human resource based on its population size and demographics. So by being picky and selective with the already limited pool of talented people, the public service is only heading towards its slow demise in the longer run.

With the current austerity measures, selective posts have been frozen and some are even downsizing by trading off posts that are considered non-substantive. Development of public servants have been rigorously pursued. Numerous learning programs have been initiated and implemented to nurture more capable and talented civil servants as future leaders. Scholarship Award is another strategy to attract highly performing students into the civil service.

But what is the outcome and what else is needed? I am not sure what the outcomes are so far, because, like any of government plans and strategy, such information are not openly shared to the masses.

However, I have several recommendations for this, such as:

(1) Get rid of all service schemes. Establish just one scheme, where there is no barriers to where people can be mobilised to at any time;

(2) Establish a customised capacity building program for civil servants and implement it without prejudice or bias (where only performance indicators [attitude, aptitude and deliverables] should be the basis of identifying potentials– and not favourtism/ nepotism/ cronyism);

(3) Appoint a One-stop agency (centralisation) that is accountable (and has the authority) to plan and mobilize (enabled by use of I.T.) the entire civil servants across government ministries/ agencies, and that ensures all HR management is aligned to government overall objectives and longer term aspirations.

(4) Selecting potentials for promotion should be conducted in an open and inclusive manner by bringing in people who can give accurate and updated testimony about the employee’s performance. The decision making process should not be left in the hands of a small quorum, who have not even met the person they are considering for promotion. Accountability is a must in the decision making process. All decision must be justified and explained openly to the prospective potentials, as a way to motivate them to achieve the standards expected.

(4) Benchmarking and Rebranding of Brunei’s civil service. Send officials abroad, regionally and beyond, to find another country’s best practices and customise it into Brunei’s civil service new identity and culture.

If there are any takers, I would enjoy and welcome further brainstorming session on this.


Leadership is about giving back the power

Recently I saw a video about this guy “Bob” sharing his experience as a leader and his definition of leadership. I was deeply intrigued by what he shared and I think it is something that I need to share with everyone who reads my blog.

This guys simply said that you’re either a leader or your not. It is not something you can force someone to have. And whether you’re a bad or great leader is defined by how you manage your ‘power’.

He said, being a leader is about giving power back. Many leaders experience failure in their leadership simply because they retain the power for themselves. Power is deemed an important commodity for a leader, and for some, to let it go, would be compromising their leadership position– hence there is ego involved in this context. Alternatively, very few leaders would agree that being a leader means they have to give back power to the people so that the impact will be significant and holistic– in this instance, the leaders would be illustrating humility.

My personal understanding on this concept of ‘giving back power’ basically means empowering those under your care in order to enable their optimal performance and confidence in executing their tasks. I am a high believer of this theory. I believe people need to be empowered, like a child needs motivation whenever they do a task well. Empowerment means being given trust, which in turns raises sense of responsibility and accountability to do well and achieve the targeted goal. Empowerment is also a path towards self-fulfilment or actualisation. Empowerment acts as a stimulus for putting in the extra effort and energy into a task with the objective of achieving above average performance.

So for those leaders out there, please consider this notion of “giving back power”or empowerment. As a leader, you don’t have to do everything yourself. You can empower people and share the burdens and glories.



Introducing Innovation and Creativity at Work

How many of us really understand the meaning of innovation? The niche in new management today is to bring in greater innovation and creativity to the workplace. Based on my own work setting, I do hear the word innovation being uttered at different occasions but I am not seeing it in its physical form. There seems to be a confusion between innovation and improvements. I am seeing new infrastructure being build, new service schemes introduced, and new contracts being signed. But these are merely routines and probably cosmetic improvements to existing requirements.

I have yet to see and experience a totally new working culture and mindset. My understanding on innovation and creativity is doing things differently from existing practices. Innovation is about doing something new, and continuing or improving status quo.

I guess injecting innovation in the public sector is almost similar to driving towards a mountain of boulder. There are too many “resistance” to innovation, despite the desire to institutionalise innovation. The need for innovation seems to be mere lip-service. When it comes to implementation, numerous “excuses” surfaces to justify the impossibility of innovation at this present moment.

A word of advise to those who find themselves in similar situations, the resistance to innovation is actually yourself. The next time you preach about innovation, you need to also relay your commitment to support innovation. Innovation is synonymous with something new and untried. So when the time comes to innovate, don’t be afraid of the uncertainties. If we have conducted thorough analysis on innovative projects, insyallah, the risk would have been minimised.

So do not fear innovation, but rather embrace it and live it.


Difference between HR, Human Capital and Talent Management

Can you briefly explain the difference between (1) Human Resource (2) Human Capital (3) Talent Management?

Here are my explanations:

(1) Human Resource is the physical being.

(2) Human capital is the investment made on the physical being in order to be equipped with relevant and useable armours (competencies). What I am saying here is that people need to be trained and later put in positions or given tasks to enable them to apply those skills.

(3) Talent management is about positioning your pool of talented personnel in positions that will ensure optimal performance and benefit for the organisation. A common slogan for this is “putting the right people, at the right place, at the right time”.

Another question: what is the difference between (1) HRD and (2) HRM?

Here are my explanations:
(1) Human Resource Development (HRD) is about intelligence/ knowledge/ skills/ competency acquisition and application.

(2) Human Resource Management (HRM) looks at the bigger picture on HR requirements  (covering recruitment, positioning, development, evolution, retention etc.) but with clear objectives and measurable indicators.


PR and New Media

The advent of New Media technologies has changed the world for good. Gone are the days when we are kept in the dark about important issues that involve the lives of those we know and the world that we live in. At the click of a button, an abundance of information is accessible. Globalisation has really revealed itself through what New Media is capable of providing for those seeking it.

In the public relations field, the potential of the new media is not left unchecked. The only problem is there are still people in this field who failed to fully understand and optimise its potential.

At my own organisation, the new media, particularly the corporate website plays an important role in reaching out to people nation wide and beyond. It’s an open and accessible source for anything and everything about my organisation. And to ensure people get the right information in a timely manner, my team are working tediously and proactively to update the website.

Of course there are few hurdles we have to confront in the process. Providing information is one part of the process. But getting the relevant information is another totally different process and a very challenging on. The usual excuse that we get when requesting the related information, “oh we’ll try to get it to you as soon as we can, we are so busy at the moment”… “the information is classified, we will have to get clearance from the big bosses”.. “isn’t that your job?”…

But whatever the excuse, all of it only lead to one thing… more delays!

The keys to overcoming all these obstacles and excuses are: we have to be persistent and consistent, cover all channels of communication, consult with the highest authority for endorsement and support, and keep on trying.

So if any of you have other ideas on how to optimise the utilisation of new media, do drop me a comment or two.


Challenges in Keeping the Corporate Website Current

Corporate website is one of the platforms that Public Relations practitioners opt for when socialising relevant and updated information about an organisation and on the services that it provides. In catering to the urgent needs of netizen, it is essential that information displayed on the corporate website is always updated and current. But how easy is it to keep the corporate website updated?

In my experience, it is easier said than done. First, the responsibility to update information on a corporate website does not lie solely with the Public Relations staff. It is a shared responsibility that requires input from relevant personnel within the organisations. Second, access to upload new data or information onto the corporate website is not open to everyone. Only selective people are given access to the website. Third, accessibility of the corporate website from outside the walls of the organisation is not always possible. Reason being, internal server is much preferred as a precaution against any hackers. Hence, updating in a timely manner may take slightly longer with that kind of restriction in place.

These three challenges are not exlusive. There are other variables that can pose a challenge in sustaining a current and updated corporate website. With that said, the three issues highlighted are probably the most common challenges faced by most government organisations locally. The ideal solution to these would be: (1) Every HOD/units/departments assumes full responsibility in updating their respective detail on the corporate website; (2) Every units/ departments are installed with trained I.T. personnel to assist in putting respective departmental updates online; and (3) corporate website needs to be accessible within and outside of the organisation.

To implement the suggested solutions, there need to be a changed mindset on the shared responsibility, re-training or re-allocation of personnel, and assessment on server and network capability. All of these would only mean one thing, more money need to be spent. But the organisation stands to lose even more money if the challenges are nor addressed urgently.


Civil Servants’ Salary Scale Remain Stagnant

In the Brunei Times paper today, the article on “Time to review civil servants’ salary scale” caught my attention. It is always interesting how the issue is always cleverly manouvered away from the main issue and directed towards what civil services’ available privileges and the free public services such as education and health care.

In the article, it was mentioned that the Government spends a total of $139 million annually in subsidies granted to its employees, not inclusive of other comprehensive benefits extended by the government such as free healthcare and education, low rates of electricity and water bills, subsidies on petrol costs, public housing etc. But what was the question posed here? The question was on why the salary scale still remain stagnant since independence, and despite the rising costs of living?

Interestingly, the report was quoting the Second Minister of Finance during the 8th LegCo session yesterday. So quite rightly, his retort would be leaning towards ‘economical’ considerations for the government, and no consideration at all on the human factor of the issue. Although the report did mention something about acknowledging the cost of living, but that was about it.

When analysing the human factor aspect of the issue, the function of salary is to provide financial incentive to a worker to be productive in their job specification. The absence of opportunities for career progression or salary increments, over time, will contribute to a  downward trend in motivation and hence productivity. One probable reason for this may be due to the arising challenge of adjusting to rising cost of living with stagnant pay, or the perception that stagnant pay illustrates hard work will not be recognised. In this particular environment, an organisation may not be able to realise its optimum development potential if the driver of the whole plan, human resource, are neglected or taken for granted.

My point here is not to indicate that people are primarily motivated through financial incentives. But it is the reality that people work for money. So if we fail to give rewards or recognition to those deserving, then the organisation’s progress will be compromised.

For any worker, whether they’re from public or private sectors, job security and job satisfaction are of primary concern in their career. So if organisations fail to assure their employees that these two are of utmost priority within the organisation, then motivation may plummet and productivity may also be affected in the long run.


Personal Finance.. What’s the right way?

Finance is a very challenging task in our daily life. Most people just don’t know how to keep track or even control their personal finances which consequently drive them to banckuptcy.

I was brousing this website (http://personalfinance.tipcentral.net/changinghabits.html) that give tips on how to handle personal finances. If you have time do browse through it. I’m just reposting parts that I found useful.


Most people fall into three general financial profiles. They either spend above their means, spend just what they have, or they spend less than their means. There have been studies done which show that 90% of the world’s wealth is held by 10% of the population, and that even if this wealth were redistributed equally, it would be back in the hands of the 10% within seven years. This illustrates that most people would find it difficult to change their normal spending habits, but in fact, this is the most important thing to guarantee personal financial health.

What this comes down to is learning what profile you fit in, and then learning how to change those spending, budgeting, and saving habits to meet your goals. Although many of these strategies will require discipline, the long term goals are clear: once you decide on a path, make the commitment to stick to it and you will find within a few months, you will begin adjusting your lifestyle to your new financial habits, which will, in turn, reinforce these new practices. Remember, nothing comes for free – long term financial goals require short term sacrifices, the trick is to find the right compromise that allows you to meet those long term goals while still enjoying life to the fullest in the short term.

If you often spend more than your needs, you best first step is to focus on a budget, looking for areas that are unnecessary and can be trimmed, and be prepared to have the discipline to stick to your new budget. If you often spend to your means, your best starting point is look for opportunities to build up your savings, which helps to reduce the risk and impact of unexpected expenses, and allows you to begin saving for the future. If you often spend below your means, you are in a good position to save to the future and should focus on savings that are structured to provide for better return on retirement, although, don’t forget to still enjoy life in the interim as many people that spend below their needs end up with a full bank account and regrets on missed opportunities and experiences.


The first step to getting your personal finances under control is to clearly understand where you are. Review all of your finances listing your assets and debts, including any loans, credit cards or other liabilities. Many banks will go through a similar process to evaluate your financial health, where they compare your income and assets with your debts and liabilities to come up with a percentage called your debt to equity ratio. It is important to be honest and thorough, as you will need to use this information to help build your financial plan.

Find a method of tracking your personal finances, either with a simple book and paper ledger or with automatic software packages like Quicken or Microsoft Money. This will not only help you track and budget how you spend your money, but the software can integrate with many online banking services which allow you to keep a virtually real-time picture of your spending. The important thing to do is to be consistent and make sure all of your spending and budgeting is tracked for a complete picture.

Once you have an accurate picture of your personal finances, you need to identify your short and long term goals. When do you want to retire? Are there specific purchases you are planning? Are there any time frames to consider? Are you planning for your children’s education or just interested in being debt-free?

Once you understand what’s important to you, you will understand what needs to be done to get there: how much you’ll need to earn, how much you’ll need to save, and over what period of time. Basically, know where you are, and where you want to be.


Budgeting is a critical process which forces you to look at what you’re spending, where you’re spending it, and thus be able to make informed decision on where changes can be made to meet your financial goals. Using software to track your finances and assets, you will get the added benefit of being able to tie it into budget planning. Chart out all your accounts and determine what online services your bank offers, as this will make it simpler automatically download your regular spending transactions and bill payments, to be integrated with your spending and budget tracking.

Try to switch your purchase habits to not make purchases with cash – cash spending can not be tracked easily with budget software – paying with a bank card or credit card will help keep an accurate record of where your money is going. This one habit will not only allow you to track and trend your purchases, but also provides invaluable visibility to your purchases. For example, you may discover you spend three times as much on groceries, or twice as much eating out at restaurants than you thought.

After you adopt this method, track your finances for several months and then revisit your budget – look at what you are taking in and what you are spending, and compare it to your financial goals. Look for areas where your spending can be reduced and adjust your budget accordingly. At its simplest level, budgeting is easy – you look at what you make, you look at what you’re spending, and you look at how much is left over to be put away for the future – if the numbers don’t match, it gives you a clearer process to shuffle your income accordingly. For example, some savings you may find are spending less on entertaining, reducing the cost of ownership of a car with a bad maintenance record, or shifting your eating habits to home cooking instead of takeout.


There are different reasons to save, and different approaches depending on what you are trying to achieve. One overall savings goal is to put money away for a rainy day; anything from health related problems, for repairs to a house or car, or an interruption to employment. Most experts say to put three months salary away to cushion life’s little emergencies.

Another common saving strategy is to target a specific purchase or expense, like a new sofa, or a vacation, and plan your savings around that specific amount. In this case, either put away a set amount every month, or even create a second bank account and divert the savings into that account so it can’t be touched, and once you reach the amount, you make the purchase with a clear conscience.

The important longer term strategy is more about saving for the future. Numerous books like the wealthy barber that were written about the huge long term savings benefits by making small changes in how and what you save. One of the easiest ways to approach this kind of savings is with small but regular saving program An often used example is that if two brothers both start saving money, with one starting at twenty and one starting at thirty five, the brother that started saving earlier would have ten times as much. The reason why savings can be so dramatic is that the money that you save increases not only as you save, but is accelerated by the compound interest that continues to grow over time.

The easiest way to put long term savings away is to set up an automatic withdrawal of funds. You may feel the difference in not having that extra money initially, but before long, you will adjust and will get used to it. Your budget will make sure that if it’s not there you don’t miss it. In fact, many companies allow flexible ways of having savings deducted directly from an employee’s pay, making it easier to keep sticking to the plan.


Agents of Change

I.. You.. They.. Anyone… and Everyone.. can be agents of change. But to what extent to we even optimise the potential of those around us in the mission towards greater change?

Most of the time, change can be an overwhelming process. Most people know what they want to achieve at the end of the day. But even more people have no idea on how to exactly go about it the right way.

Doing things the right way and effective way can be very tricky. People focus on achieving result base on the physical outcome they get and this is usually attempted at a much shorter time frame. Very little effort or even thoughts are given to invest in areas that promises even greater returns in the long-run.

Personally, ultimate change in anything that we aspire is primarily dependent on how best we optimise the available resources. I honestly believe that people should be the first investment. We need supporters and drivers for the changes to take place. And people are the fundamental resources to be utilised in this pursuit.

Before actual change can take place, we have to create and groom our agents of change. This can be done by focusing initiatives and efforts in shaping the mindset as well as the environment conducive for such change to take place. The effects or outcome of such initiative will neither come easily nor immediately. Convincing and changing people’s perceptions to accept the necessity of change is as hard as catching a fly with chopsticks! But yet not impossible.

All that is needed is for us to pause and make plans on how best to OPTIMISE our people strength and harness on their potentials. This takes a lot of commitment. So are you up for it?


Media Operations

Participating in military operations as a media personnel is indeed a challenging task. Not only do you have to worry about your own safety and survival, in all the shambles and chaos you are burdened with responsibility of gathering stories for the public consumption.

I was recently involved in a military exercise in which my unit played the role of media operators/ facilitator. With only 3 years background on public relations matters, nothing has ever prepared me for this exercise.

In the first few days I was racking my brain trying to find news worthy stories about the “war” to be published in a news bulletin, notionally to be distributed to the entire population. On top of that, my team and I had to get video footage of events and turn it into a brief tv news clip. I felt as if my whole team was converted, overnight, into a News Station and Newspaper agency, as well as a bunch of untrained actors.


What is PR…

There’s actually not one sole definition for PR (Public Relations). It can mean different things to different people. For an organisation, the function of public relations is really dependent on what is required by that organisation itself. But the sad thing is, there is this incorrect assumption that PR equals multi-tasking. This is absolutely wrong and needs to be addressed accordingly.

Personally, I believe PR is about being proficient in one thing, effective communication. Communication has many dimension but the end result is basically the same, to have a connection with someone else. So how do we establish a connection with someone. There are many ways of doing this, such as by having personal contact through physical contact, conversation, sight and others. We can also use a medium to have such contacts, such as using telephones, texting, electronics, correspondences, newspapers and many more. However, we can’t be expected to make use of all of those available means. The means and ways we communicate depends on what we hope to gain back from establishing such connection. I don’t want to dive into that part of communication, it might just invite more debates.

I’m just going to share my own definition of PR. To me, being PR practitioner is about anticipating people’s expectations. To do that, we have to be sensitive and alert on people’s requirements through their feedbacks and reactions. It is also important to take account of all feedbacks and comments made, and there’s no such thing as trivial or insignificant comments. As a PR, we have to view people as part of a bigger puzzle. Nothing can be done in a single-handed manner, everything takes team work and credible leadership. Another essential reminder is that resources will always be limited, therefore expect the unexpected and be ready with a contingency.

I have so much more to share, but I don’t want to confuse people with my complex thoughts. So let’s leave it at this for the moment.


90/10 Principles

I received this lovely email from one of colleagues and it was about the “90/10 Principles” by  Stephen Covey. I loved the deduction from this principle.. and when I enjoyed something, I just have to share it with all my blog readers..

Discover the 90/10 Principle.

It will change your life (at least the way you react to situations).

What is this principle? 10% of life is made up of what happens to you. 90% of life is decided by how you react.

What does this mean? We really have no control over 10% of what happens to us.

We cannot stop the car from breaking down. The plane will be late arriving, which throws our whole schedule off. A driver may cut us off in traffic.

We have no control over this 10%. The other 90% is different. You determine the other 90%.

How? ……….By your reaction.

You cannot control a red light. but you can control your reaction. Don’t let people fool you; YOU can control how you react.

Let’s use an example.

You are eating breakfast with your family. Your daughter knocks over a cup of coffee onto your business shirt. You have no control over what just happened.

What happens next will be determined by how you react.

You curse.

You harshly scold your daughter for knocking the cup over. She breaks down in tears. After scolding her, you turn to your spouse and criticize her for placing the cup too close to the edge of the table. A short verbal battle follows. You storm upstairs and change your shirt. Back downstairs, you find your daughter has been too busy crying to finish breakfast and get ready for school. She misses the bus.

Your spouse must leave immediately for work. You rush to the car and drive your daughter to school. Because you are late, you drive 40 miles an hour in a 30 mph speed limit.

After a 15-minute delay and throwing $60 traffic fine away, you arrive at school. Your daughter runs into the building without saying goodbye. After arriving at the office 20 minutes late, you find you forgot your briefcase. Your day has started terrible. As it continues, it seems to get worse and worse. You look forward to coming home.

When you arrive home, you find small wedge in your relationship with your spouse and daughter.

Why? …. Because of how you reacted in the morning.

Why did you have a bad day?

A) Did the coffee cause it?

B) Did your daughter cause it?

C) Did the policeman cause it?

D) Did you cause it?

The answer is “D”.

You had no control over what happened with the coffee. How you reacted in those 5 seconds is what caused your bad day.

Here is what could have and should have happened.

Coffee splashes over you. Your daughter is about to cry. You gently say, “Its ok honey, you just need to be more careful next time”. Grabbing a towel you rush upstairs. After grabbing a new shirt and your briefcase, you come back down in time to look through the window and see your child getting on the bus. She turns and waves. You arrive 5 minutes early and cheerfully greet the staff. Your boss comments on how good the day you are having.

Notice the difference?

Two different scenarios. Both started the same. Both ended different.


Because of how you REACTED.

You really do not have any control over 10% of what happens. The other 90% was determined by your reaction.

Here are some ways to apply the 90/10 principle. If someone says something negative about you, don’t be a sponge. Let the attack roll off like water on glass. You don’t have to let the negative comment affect you!

React properly and it will not ruin your day. A wrong reaction could result in losing a friend, being fired, getting stressed out etc.

How do you react if someone cuts you off in traffic? Do you lose your temper? Pound on the steering wheel? A friend of mine had the steering wheel fall off) Do you curse? Does your blood pressure skyrocket? Do you try and bump them?

WHO CARES if you arrive ten seconds later at work? Why let the cars ruin your drive?

Remember the 90/10 principle, and do not worry about it.

You are told you lost your job.

Why lose sleep and get irritated? It will work out. Use your worrying energy and time into finding another job.

The plane is late; it is going to mangle your schedule for the day. Why take outpour frustration on the flight attendant? She has no control over what is going on.

Use your time to study, get to know the other passenger. Why get stressed out? It will just make things worse.

Now you know the 90-10 principle. Apply it and you will be amazed at the results. You will lose nothing if you try it. The 90-10 principle is incredible. Very few know and apply this principle.

The result?

Millions of people are suffering from undeserved stress, trials, problems and heartache. We all must understand and apply the 90/10 principle.

It CAN change your life!!!



Economics and NPM

There is this ongoing effort to give economics reasoning to how the public sector manages itself. This can be a challenge, especially if you don’t have any economics background to begin with. But yet not impossible.

When people hear the word economics, you can see their facial expression changing to a very concerned and unfamiliar look. There’s nothing to be afraid of about economics. It’s just one of those subjects in school where most students just don’t opt to sit in as a choice. But it is a subject that is very closely related to our everyday life.

Simply put, economics is about how we behave in our daily life. Microeconomics is the effects of our behavior on those things around us, while macroeconomics is about the effects of everyone’s behaviour on everything else around them.

In the context of NPM (New Public Management), economics is seen under a lighter shade. Economics here is used to explain why certain choices of policy is more beneficial than others, in consideration of the micro and macro effect that it has. This is my own understanding and definition. So don’t quote me. But do debate if you disagree.

Hence, with the application of economics in management, the concept of ‘NPM’ begin to emerge. NPM basically brings traditional public administrators to a new height, with a focus for more strategic change and outcome rather than merely implementation base on instruction.  Again this is my own definition.

So when you put economics and NPM together, what is endeavoured is to ensure decisions in the policy formulation process is derived from assessment of the related environment and users/ beneficiary feedbacks. Of course, the explanation on this is much more extensive than what I’ve written here. But we can cover that another time.

On the implementation side, attempting to mould a new working culture revolving around economics and NPM is indeed a crazy and almost impossible undertaking. The very words of Economics and NPM, which are aliens to most people, will automatically turn people on the defensive mode and consequently produce a resistance.

Anything new, unfamiliar and imply a change from the norm will have this effect. So the force for change will need to be greater in strength and tenacity. Leaders (in action not in position) have an important role to play here. Because only strong-willed and tenacious leaders can bring out the ultimate change through alteration in mindset and working culture. Equally important is to manage such initiative with relevant and timely knowledge. People will ease up to any undertakings if they are constantly updated and informed on the progress.

I could talk endlessly on this. There are many dimesion to explore and deliberate. If there is an area you want to share under this title, please to pass in your comments. I’m dying to read more refreshing thoughts on this.


Women, the Best Manager.

It’s an undeniable fact that women make better managers than men do.

Probably this statement may come off as feminist, but I’m merely stating what has been proven from the days of our great, great ancestors.

Women started off as playing a more domesticated role in the olden days. Yes, the men were always the ones going out to get food and livelihood for the family. But it’s always the women who produce something out of the food and livelihood gathered. Men may bring in fowl, beef and flour home. But it’s the women who then turn those items into something like bbq chicken, beef stew and bread – all with its various condiments and side dishes.

In the contemporary world, although men have been seen to dominate the working sector previously, women nowadays are becoming more and more capable as well as competent to compete with their male counterparts. Women have over the centuries has elevated in status from mere domestic housewife to professions such as government officers, teachers/ lecturers, entrepreneurs, engineers, lawyers and many more. And it has been widely acknowledge that women are more thorough and organised then men are. I’m not sure whether the men will agree, but this is what I’ve heard, not just because I’m a woman myself 🙂

Women’s competency as managers is not something new. It has flourished over time. Women started off as manager of their own home and family and nowadays (still executing their domestic responsibilities) have also gained a respected status as managers at the work place.

I salute what women globally have achieved for themselves over the years. Keep up the great work! Girl Power!!



Democratic Management

I was reading a book on public administration a few days back, and I came across an interesting view on the topic. The book stated that the public sector has been cultured to do things just because the top authority tells them to do it. And they will not do things beyond the instruction given. So the so called public servants were merely like puppets with the strings symbolising the directives and procedures given to them to conduct the necessary action.

To an extent, those statement still applies in today’s world. Some of the people in the public sector seem to be more comfortable to just stay within the above definition. And for the few of the people, this can form a kind of resistance, especially if the organisation aspires to evolve into something more dynamic.

I also came across a book on Participative Management which among other things highlighted how democratic management is the way to go nowadays. Democracy in this sense is about empowering people and allowing them to take rein and be accountable for their actions. The superiors in this instance will not be surrendering their authority but instead delegating the task and sharing the responsibility with those in the organisation.

I love this idea of democratic management. Although I haven’t really finished reading the article, I’m keen more than ever to further explore this concept. So if any of you know specific books I should be reading on this, please do tell me.


Mentoring and Youths

I was browsing through the bookshelves at the library the other day and I came across this book on Mentoring. I didn’t actually read the book, but the title itself made me recall an article I read on that same topic.

There was this notion of applying Mentoring on troublesome youths. Somehow I was kind of skeptic about this idea. It’s a good idea though. It’s just that I doubt the capability to executive such an idea.

Looking at my own personal experience, I’ve been primarily educated at the national public schools. And when it comes to students’ welfare issues, there has never been any qualified counselors at the school to help sort out the troubled students. The usual practice, as I remembered it, is that the welfare teacher allocated at any public schools are usually one of the teaching staff at the school, who happened to be free and don’t necessarily possess any counseling skills.

And now, they have this new idea about mentoring. I seriously would like to know how this notion will be applied.

To me, when it comes to troublesome youths, we have to look at the root cause of it. The usual common issues confronting these youths are divorced parents, negligence, peer pressure, lack of religious education, and many more.

Troublesome youths can be considered as one of the social ills of the modernised world. If we look back at how things were during our great grand parents days, they didn’t have problems like this with their youths. Youths of yesteryears were more obedient, loyal, respectful and fearful of their elders. But today, youths are more exposed to their surroundings and thus have a tendency to be calculative with their obedience, loyalty, and respect. And most youths certainly do not fear their elders like they used to.

Looking at these characteristics, the attempt of applying mentoring (defined as a responsible adult becoming role models to the trouble youths by being their confidante, conscience and adviser) to these kids will indeed be a challenging one. Most youths, when in trouble, prefer to turn to their peers than to an adult. It’s a universal culture or traits. Reason being for fear of being nagged and scolded at probably.

My suggestion as a solution to trouble youths syndrome, is to revert back to how families used to live their life. Example, rather than parents being so engrossed with their worldly jobs and daily upkeep, please do make the time to spend quality time with every family members, find out what the children have been up to, how they’re doing in schools, who they hang out with, who their friends are, and etc etc. Another example is, rather than letting your child spend most of their time with their peers at the Mall, use some of the free time to get close and get to know your child, be their parents and friend.

I know it’s not easy to try to revert our modern way of living to the old backward days of our ancestor. But for me, it’s a worthwhile effort and journey to retain the value of family-hood just so that we can live harmoniously as a family. So let’s give this a try.


Standard Curriculum undermines innovation?

A few months back I had encountered a man who was vibrant in personality, persistant in action and focused in life’s ambition. He said something that seem to have stuck in my mind ever since. He said existing educational systems dictates the curriculum that students should take, completely ignoring the individual capacity and requirement of the student. He also said, it would be more beneficial to work on curriculum that actually fit to the requirement of the individual student rather than trying to make everyone fit into one standardised curriculum.

What he said made a whole lot of sense to me. And it also eased out a few personal concerns of my own.

During my school days, I fall into the those category of students who have the potential to seriously excel in my studies, but due some fun distractions, I manage to perform averagely in my studies. I was and still am the type who make attempt to still add fun-life to anything ‘serious’ that I do. And this is the one habit my friends envy most, although they are equally capable of doing it if only they know how to do so 🙂

Anyway, during my schooling years I’ve always had problems with one subject. Maths. My brain just seems to wander elsewhere whenever I have maths class. That’s why my grades are always super average in this subject. But surprisingly, when it comes to doing accountings, almost similar to maths without the x and y thingy, I got excellent distinctions! Go figure.

I’ve always hated the policy making maths a compulsory subject. Just because maths is just not my cup of tea. Never was, never will be.

I totally agree with the statement that existing curriculum in school, around the world, gives very little attention to developing curriculum to develop the potentials of individual students. As a short cut, a one-fits all curriculum is produced, with the hope of turning the students into ‘successful’ and useful ‘asset’ to the nation.

Personally, this idea of one-fits all curriculum actually undermines innovation, creativity and personal niche capability.. especially at the start of the educational process. Children need to be nurtured and taught and groomed base on what they’re good at, not base on what the curriculum dictates them to do.

If we ever aspire to have a generation of great thinkers, innovator and drivers of great changes, we have to workimmediately in changing the way we do things. To achieve change, to achieve innovation, we have to first change ourselves.. change the way we used to do things, the way we used to think, and be more forward thinking for the greater good.. without compromising the individual potentials.

Innovation and change is never a straightforward process. It will be tedious, it will be demanding and it will be challenging. But in order to realise our true potentials, we have to stop standardising how we do things. We have to evolve with time and current needs. And education is a significant component of this process.

It’s time for change.


Website and Portals

Technological change and globalisation has brought with it the never ending challenge of competition. One of the effective mode in boosting our competitive edge is the capability to optimize usage of the internet. Whether you’re in the public or private sector, utilisation of I.T is a must if you wish to ensure that people are well informed about your organisation.

Yesterday, I attended a workshop that specifically focused on finding a solution to challenges in establishing an organisation’s website and portal. Although it was only a one-day session, but the discussions that transpired were exceedingly refreshing. Within that one-day session we were able to identify common challenges and eventually selective/ unified solutions.

The internet revolution is still a new concept to fellow colleagues in my sector. Although slow in embracing this new technology, we are not completely ignorant of its potential. The ongoing problem is that we are just not putting enough effort and attention to realise this potential.

Personally, the intent of establishing a portal for our sector would go a very long way in not only allowing us to reach out to all corners of the nation and beyond but concomitantly will help to further disseminate our aspirations to others. Today’s society is different from the olden days. Nowadays people are more and more curious and crave for information on anything an everything. With the advent of I.T., the general public have the freedom to access all types of information just at the click of a button.

Although on the one side I.T. enables people to be more well informed on things, but there is also the danger of people being mis-informed at the same time. There is not specific software that is capable of filtering inaccurate information. And this is a shortcoming that specific sectors have concerns about.

As a solution, organisations world wide take the initiative to set up their own official website and portals. Hopefully through this effort, people will be provided with timely, relevant and accurate information.

But for some, implementing such an initiative entails a huge challenge. It requires an organisational change i.e. to designate the right people for the job, who knows and understands the organisation’s needs, and are empowered to do so. These are only some of the necessary changes that need to take place. There are other activities that are of equal importance, and should be explored base on respective needs and requirements. And this was exactly what I went through in identifying and deliberating during the workshop yesterday.

I seriously hope friends and colleagues will make attempts to familiarise with I.T. Although it may seem common in today’s business, but its impact has no barrier. And it would be a personal as well as professional achievement if we can start and continue to utilize I.T. in everything that we do. Remember, Work Smart, not Work Hard 🙂


Water is Life’s Essential


In my country, water is something you can easily find at the turn of the tap. But in other parts of the world, it is something of a luxury and scarce to some. My heart goes out to those who are deprived of this life’s core essential. And I just hope and pray that something is done to distribute the essential to those in need, immediately.

baby waterthe middle east

kids_drinking_water_ssvtrying to have a sip of the little water there is

kids_waterOnly one source to get water from

Nias_kids_largein asia

water kidzcherish the water


Effective PR


I had a very interesting discussion with my colleagues in the PR business. There seems to be a shared concerns on what effective public relations really means. Current understanding on public relations, specifically in the public sector focus mainly on the dissemination of information to the general public. Probably, in my opinion, too much focus has been granted in passing such information via the media, and very little attention and yet necessary has been allocated on exploring the alternative channels for such purposes.

I’ve only been permanently posted into the Public Relations business about less than 2 years, and during that time I’ve seen so much potentials that are just left to pass everyone by. My peers in this field are most of the time too bogged down with menial tasks that they lacked the opportunities to explore the more relevant and core area of their profession.

And this was exactly what my discussion yesterday was touching on. A question was posted to all my peers, what exactly makes an effective public relation officer? And surprisingly, my peers just remained quiet. I don’t blame them really. Because PR business is a contemporary concept that has yet to be fully absorbed into a traditional and conventional society such as ours.

Just to share my own thoughts, for me PR is everyone’s responsiblity. There is no law or rules that states only PR practisioners can be involved in such profession. Personally, public relations is an activity that everyone are involved in on a daily basis. But yet, when the word PR is even mention, fingers start to be pointed at the PR officers every single time.

Base on my experience, PR officers are the frontliners in this business. But their effectiveness lies in how other entities and personnel within and outside of the organisation are willing to render their assistance and support in the process as well. Therefore, the whole organisation has to work together to make PR work for them. Not merely making PRO work for the organisation.

Therefore, a change of mindset and culture in fully embracing PR responsibilities is necessary. And this has to start from the top of the hierarchy ladder and cascaded to the personnel on the ground. Realistically, this is a very complex and difficult task to achieve. Even in the management field, attempting to cascade an ideology to all levels is almost like trying to penetrate a steel door with a wooden chopstick!

But overall, achieving change means we have to be able to convince, fully or even partially, those around us on its imperativeness. Only through the such support will there be progress. At the same time, it would be useful to have a well thought out plan as well. So gather all your wits and prepare a sound plan, you might just be able to succeed in the PR business 🙂


Wonders and Horrors of I.T.

As I look back at my younger years, I.T. was not something that is familiar to me or to people around me. Back then, it was still fine and normal to go out and roam around without having a handphone in your handbag or even a laptop doning the coffee table when you ‘lepak’ with your friends. During the yester-years, people were technology free, merely spending time like the olden days, merely enjoying the pleasure of those around you.

But today everything has changed. Nowadays, people would feel awkward without a handphone, or two, in their presence, wherever they go. Even laptop is a must when one go out of the house nowadays. These two technologies are examples of the things that today’s generation regard as life essention, wherever they may be. Without it, they would be lost.


This new lifestyle, which is dependency on technology, does have its good side as well as the bad side. The good side is techology such as laptops + broadbands, handphones allow us to constantly be informed and aware of what goes on around us. Whether it’s about world news, the stock market, friends whereabout, whatever the issue, we have the technology and facility to keep us connected 24/7.

However, the downside of it is that with technologies giving us the luxury of continuous connection with friends, business partners and world events, it somehow takes away the luxury of personal contact. Most of us are either so hung up talking endlessly on their mobile phones or faced down as if mesmerized by the power of computers and broadbands! People spend lesser time to actually enjoy life as they should, by having first hand experience as opposed to just browsing it through the internet. Even the process of making friends are now done through networks like msn live messenger, facebook, friendsters, tagged and many more. Just at the click of a button, we can add new friends and get to know them through that process. We don’t necessarily have to go out of the house to do that!


One way of looking at things, I.T. has brought about a deterioration or even minimise face-to-face human contact. We have become ‘lone-rangers’, to some extent, engulfed in the comfort of our soft sofa / bed, with eyes only for the laptop and what broadband / espeed allow us to have access to.

Personally, I’m amongst these technology-dependent generation. I cannot and will not leave my home without the comfort of knowing that I have my mobile phones, hard disk, ipod and laptop (depending on where I’m going) within my person. And this is one of the reason why my handbag seems to get bigger and bigger over time, just to accommodate all my ‘essential’ gadgets. But there were times when I wish I could make do without all these contraptions. At least I can travel light. Unfortunately, I’m too addicted already. And there’s no turning back.


Public Relations

Public Relations is what I do in my line of work now. But I didn’t start off from there. Initially I was in research and policy formulation. And by some good fortune, I was promoted to a completely different post.

Despite the total change in my career path, I treat it with renewed enthusiasm and determination. I love the thrills of a new adventure. And that is exactly what PR has for me.

In PR, I get to do all my favourite activities. I get to meet new people all the time, adding my circle of friends. I get to do public speaking through presentations and seminars. But best of all, I get to head a photography section. Totally my kind of work.

Aside from the perks, there are of course some visible challenges. In PR, there are a lot of spontanity, last minute requirements/ changes, and dealing with media matters. All these promising quite stressful moments. But it is something I expected and learnt to adapt myself to.

But what I’ve learnt, after being in the field for about a year, no matter what task is being given, I just have to remain calm and receive things positively. I know some may say it’s easier said than done. But I promise, it will be easier once you accept and embrace the positive mindset.


Communication vs Communicating

Ten years of working experience has taught me a lot of things about the challenges facing the working population. But what I have found out to be ultimately useful in gaining fast momentum in climbing the career ladder is that we have to be able to COMMUNICATE our ideas.

Some may make the mistake of assuming that it is about being VOCAL. But this is not what I mean.

There are various ways on how we can effectively convey our ideas to others. But possessing a proficiency in public speaking backed by credible knowledge will inevitably allow us to excel beyond expectation. Of course, such attributes can only be gained through hard work and dedication. Practices will indeed sharpen those attributes making it more distinguished and formidable.

Another dampening assumption is that, some may assume that individuals with higher qualifications will be able to better perform in their work. Personally, this is definitely a false assumption. Academic qualifications will not and is not a very good determinant of a person’s competency. There are other additional characteristics and personality that serve as requisites in determining the most ideal ‘package’. But the basic guideline we can adhere to is to embrace all the good qualities that is humanly possible. And at the same time to always bare in mind to “treat others as you wish to be treated yourself”.. and.. “without followers there will be no leader, and without a leader there will be no followers”.

These two philosophies, if I may call it that, are basis whidh I’ve always lived by, especially when it comes to how to deal with people. Since in my career I deal with people from all walks of life, I make it a point to polish up on my communication as well as communicating skills.

Yes, there is a difference between the two. Communication is leaning more on the process of things e.g. using fax, emails, hand phones, meetings, conferences as a means of conveying certain information. Communicating on the other hand is about putting in the human touch to those processes. This includes personal bonding, interpersonal skills and mutual understanding and confidence.  I know it sounds quite confusing now, but once we get involve in the practical side of it, it becomes crystal clear.

So for those of you other there, if you agree or disagree or even if you wish to supplement me with your own personal views on this, please do forward me your comments. I’m more than happy to read what you have to say. LIke I always say, sharing is caring!! So share your ideas with me.


Media Relations

In any big event, the organiser would inevitably be seeking the assistance of Media partners to ensure they get the publicity and coverage they need. In my line of work, dealing with media is a routine matter. As part of our policy, projecting a positive image of the oganisation is crucial not only to garner the support that we need but at the same time to harness the credibility of the organisation in the eyes of the stakeholders and public.

But dealing with the media is not always easy. This probably because of the difference in the role played by either side. Eventhough an organiser of an event has in mind a particular message to pass through to the public via the media, but the channel, that is the media, will definitely a completely different agenda on their mind on how they can ‘exploit/ manipulate’ the event at hand.

Some of you might disagree with me in the defence that our local media are not as aggressive as those in other countries. To an extent this is can be accepted. But it still cannot be denied that everyone have ulterior motives, especially when it can either hike or diminish the ratings of that particular institution.

But whatever the reason behind the ‘partnership’ between the organiser and media, both sides still need to work together. Success of the event is still a priority on everyone’s mind. And to ensure success, ample preparation needs to take place.

One of my earliest experience in handling the media was during the RBAF Anniversary celebration. In 2008, the celebration took place at 3rd Battalion Camp in Lumut. This particular celebration involves extensive movements and logistics, which are crucial information for the media partners to be briefed about prior to the event.

I was truly nervous during that time, because that was the very first time for myself to head the media team. But luckily with the backings of my office-mates, it was an event I’m quite proud of, especially in terms of the media coverage. And it was that event, which I use as my referrence up until today on how to connect and strengthen the relations between organiser and media, specifically through improved processes and understandings.

Lessons learnt is that, organisers MUST convey alll crucial and relevant information to the Media, especially those relating to sequence of events, list of VIP lists, background information and focal points to cater to the logistical requirements of the media.

Being the middle person, I have the daunting task of trying to connect the two side. So it is imperative for me to be light on my feet and mouth in getting what I need to pass onto the media. So for those of you who share similar tasking, do take heed of this insights. You never know, maybe one day, what I’ve just mentioned here will come in handy for you!

So in this opportunity, I would like to thank all my Media friends for the support, dedication and cooperation extended to my organisation. The cordial but professional partnership is greatly appreciated. I sincerely hope this will continue to be the basis of the relationship and for both sides to remain sensitive to the needs and requirements of one another. Thank you.