AlwaysWoW! For a Great Great WoW in Life

Thoughts from me about things that are cool, that are WoW, that blow me away. Observations about businesses and people from a wide variety of life. Daily encounters - and thoughts outside the box, inside the box and without any box. New thinking, and challenging old thinking. Passionate about life, about respect, and about integrity.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Moving on-- Farewell to a Blog

Let's move on to Is AlwaysWoW becoming more serious? I don't know but may be a new platform deserves a more serious approach? Actually, I don't think so. AlwaysWoW means to have fun in doing things, looking at things differently as well, challenging old thinking and including and learning new ones.

But serious: I had fun at Naively, I opened the account back in January 2002 – so now, I am a three year member of Blogger.

I did so because at that time, I opened a lot of accounts in the Internet, most of them for free. The account wasn't used for a long time, but one day in June 2003, I sat down to write something about a great restaurant that I visisted with my family, which employed really boring waiters and waitresses.

Writing words without thinking much (has it changed at all, since?). Innocent as I was, it didn't work straight away in the very first beginning. Since my thinking was such that I thought Blogger knows all, they will also know my challenges and come back to me without I asking them. That was my thinking, and of course, nobody came to help me. But normally they responded when I faced a problem or challenge. Sometimes they helped me straigthen out my blog again - thanks, guys!!

It took a while before I wrote more frequently, and well, my interest in customer experience shaped my thinking and how this blog developed. It took a very long time for me to also start manipulating the template, and to integrate a visitor counter for example, or Haloscan – recently I already changed my old profile to the current one. I did so once, and hey, it messed up my blog so badly that I didn’t change anything for a long time. The nice piece, however is that I learnt or re-learnt a bit of HTML. I am sometimes sitting with books and study and change and test and retest. Awesome. But I digress.

Sometimes in beginning of this year, I discovered Petaling Street and naturally, I wasn't able to post things first.

Thanks to Aizuddin, who helped me in the beginning by explaining how to post posts I was able to post. From that time onwards, I wrote more entries. But from the beginning I planned to have an upgraded service. Blogger always replied to my respective inquiries that such service is planned, but it never came. Over time, I discovered other, great blogs in the US and elsewhere and realized that I want my own upgraded blog more and more. I started by registering alwayswow as domain in May 2004, not too late since about a week later, someone reserved the .net version.

All I all, I wrote 223 entries in the Blogspot post – and according to my profile, this makes a total of 66,442 words. On average, I posted one article per week, but than, my blog was dormant for a long time. And oi – I just discovered that since I have a profile on my blogspot 391 visitors looked at it – and this is one that has only be recently made available.

Now, again, it is time to move over – here we come I have to apologise to those that link to me but would like to ask them to change their links to this new location and follow me to my new experience.

Continued at


Strong quake strikes off Indonesia's coast?

Another one? I just found this in the China Post.

It says:

"A 5.6-magnitude earthquake has hit near the site of last week's tsunami-inducing quake off Indonesia's coast, the Hong Kong Observatory said Thursday.

The latest tremor, recorded Wednesday night, was centered about 110 kilometers (70 miles) west of Banda Aceh, the capital of the Indonesian province hit hard Dec. 26 by a 9.0-magnitude quake and resulting tsunami, the observatory said.

It wasn't immediately clear if there were any casualties from Wednesday's earthquake."


Bush donates US$10K in Tsunami Aid

Donating is fine. It is known that Americans like to donate a lot of money. I believe that this is okay, since they are living in the richest country in the world, and I appreciate it.

I also believe that it is important that corporations and politicians open their wallet and donate whatever they can. Goodness, in the end, this is for their own sake - if the countries affected by the Tsunami overcome the crisis quickly and the population starts having a living again - in hotels, hawkers, souvenir shops - business will profit as well.

There is an article in Yahoo that celebrates Bush for donating US$10,000. Great - thank you. It will help, no doubt about it.

But than there is this one little piece in the setting that makes my stomach feel sour:

"Scott McClellan, White House press secretary, told reporters traveling with Bush to Illinois that the president — himself a multimillionaire — has written checks to several organizations listed on a Web site set up to direct Americans to various reputable charities collecting private contributions for tsunami relief."

Thank you, Mr. President, for your generosity. US$10,000 might be a lot for many people, but considering your pocket, I believe a larger amount would have been nice. Well, may be it is coming, after a further assessment by the President. Remember, the US only pledged US$35 million in the beginning, only to quickly increase the sum tenfold after being criticised by the international community.


I was criticised that I criticise the President for giving so little from his big pocket. Aizuddin says: "What disturbs me is that the size of individual and organizational (corporate) donations in aid for the victims of the tsunami have become an issue. So-and-so has not done enough. So-and-so has done so much. My donation is bigger than yours. My donation is more worthy."

That is true - my comment sounds like a non-WoW. But such is life. I believe that sometimes, it is okay to give a lot of money, and that money can move mountains. President Bush is a leader and leaders set examples. He could have shown that despite all the negative criticism that is thrown at him, he is able to open up and give a lot of what he can give. He could have set some records straigth. But first was the case that the UN had to criticise the US for the small amount of donations, before financial assistance started to flow. And now, secondly, the President stays behind. I wrote before in another entry, that some get it, some don't. You chose which one President Bush is.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Fine, Mama

Latest since Allan Pease and Barbara Pease published their book "Why Men Lie and Women Cry" do people know that men's communication structure differs dramatically from women's. Well, many people knew it before but they got it confirmed scientifically.

My boy doesn't differ too mcuh from this - only that he is able to ask lots and lots of questions. So, on Monday, when he sits in the car with my wife, he starts to ask her:

"Mama, how are you."

My wife responds.

"Mama, what did you do."

My wife responds. And he keeps talking but after a while he gets quiet. Than he says.

"Mama, you haven't ask me, how was school today!"

My wife asks: "And, how was school today?"

My kid responds: "Fine."

My wife asks: "What did you learn?"

My kid responds: "I don't know. I forgot already."

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Tables and desks remain empty

I mentioned it two days ago that there will be the realisation that desks or tables remain empty, when school is starting. That kids in schools that were in holiday with their parents are dead or that employees won't return.

It is happening.

"We know whole families are missing from this school, children from this school are missing," she said. "We know we will have empty desks in classrooms next week, and we want to make sure we have the support in place. All over Bromma it is the same, you can feel people's pain, everyone is affected. Children are clinging to their parents, and mothers, myself included, are holding their children very close to them these days."

This is a very emotional article reporting about the situation in Sweden, from where many holidayers came to have fun in Asia.


After the Tsunami - What can be done next?

Sham has a great post over at JoyJuiceWizard and it raises the question, what to do next. We donated, some have helped, for better or worse.

The governments around the world try their best, but food alone, clothes and so on might not be enough. There are people that need more to get over the crisis.

  • Professional life have been destroyed in the form of hotels, resorts, or fishing utilities. In the wake, there are those that were employed by those facilities, resulting in an economic multiplier effect.
  • Kids, but also adults are traumatised by the event. Imagine, you have been close to the waves or even in them. Fighting for your life. Seeing your kids or parents swept away.

I believe those are the victims that need to get back on their feet:

  • What about consulting services to get them the assistance to get moving again?
  • What about cheap bank loans with very little or no interest rates, with a longer repayment period? I actually just read that Thai banks do provide that.
  • Where are the psychologist that talk to children and adults alike to get the over the trauma?
  • Where are the construction companies that offer to rebuild houses for free, at a speedy service, or at least for a lowered sum?
  • Where are the white good and the brown good companies that offer goods for free to the victims? It doesn't need to be the largest TV screen or the most modern aircondition set, but something, something - hey, a stove would be nice or a microwave
  • Where are the mega markets, supermarkets, food traders that offer rice supply for the next 1, 2, 3 months, dependent on some criteria?
  • Where are the schools that don't require fee payments for the children of the victims?
  • Where are the clothing stores that provide school uniforms for free?
  • Where are the telcos that install telephone lines for free or provide free service for a certain time?
  • Where are the mobile communications providers that give away handsets for free? I heard that Thai cellular companies do something in this area - anybody has comments?
  • Atiza commented that there is no electricity in many of the affected areas. Stupid me. But let's say, we could start with some generators to be donated. Hello Tenaga Nasional, hello IPP. A chance for promotion and marketing!!

There is so much more to say to this - any company can do something. Step forward, I say!!

I read in The Nation (Thailand), December 29, 2004 edition that "Banks and private companies have donated hundreds of millions of baht as well as goods and services ranging from water and food to free telephone calls to help victims of the tsunami that battered Thailands southwestern coast." Sounds like a good start

I somehow have the feeling that it is only the people who provide their means - and that we are still waiting for the manufacturers to get moving.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Talk about the power of the blogs

Church of the Customer has this very interesting write-up about a blogger who went to become a book author after a publisher stumpled upon her blog.



Some get it, some just don't

Call me emotional, call me anything or flame me if you want.

But while it appears that more and more nations get together to help out in the ongoing effort to clear up the damage of the Tsunami and to help those that struggle to get their life back to a somewhat normal or livable basis, others just keep doing what they did before - not realising that they fall more and more out of step with the so-called "world community."

On the one hand, we will have a summit (whatever good that is for) on the Tsunami: Asia Prepares for Tsunami Summit; Thailand Wants Warning System

And than we have news such as this: "Suicide Bombing Kills at Least 23"

or this:

Egypt demands Israel pullback to 2000 lines

or this

Despite pullback pledges, Israel rolls tanks into Gaza

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Back to school

My kid will be in Standard 2 from tomorrow onwards. That means, my time of getting up a bit later is over. It is back to 5.45 AM, the yawning, the challenge of getting my kid ready, the dread to be on the road for one endless hour before I be in my office.

I don't like it!!! But I will have my fun. Listening to the radio, singing songs, exchanging ideas with my wife and kid, "cursing" other drivers.

But what I realised is the following scenario. There were many people that went on leave over Christmas. They might have been to places where the Tsunami hit, but nobody in their office knows. Imagine the scenario that they are expected back and their desk remains empty. It will happen and it is scary!


One week after the Tsunami - are we moving on?

It's about a week since the Tsunami struck many countries in Asia. The first shock is over, the emotions that we first felt are slowly subsiding. Instead of people running away from the water, we see the destruction of the areas and observe and comment how people try to get on their feet again.

We sigh a relief that the first helicopters are landing, that emergency food supply is somewhat secured and that the world is donating a lot.

The newspapers and the media will report another week about the Tsunami, and than, other news will start to take over the frontpages of the papers, the ongoing reports from CNN, our Malaysian TV and BBC will be replace by hourly reports in the news and even here, the description will be shorter and shorter.

But it is not over yet. Please don't forget that there are hundreds of thousands of people that will still face the consequences of the Tsunami. Diseases are eminent. There are those whose livelihood has been destroyed, may be forever. Children will still be without parents, and parents in many areas will have lost their jobs, families have been decimated.

It is easy to move on - tomorrow, holidays are over for many, school is starting in Malaysia, and it is easy to forget. But please keep on donating. Please remember the victims. Unicef still needs donations and I believe they are not the only ones.


Thanks Peter!

Found help already, thanks to Peter.

But man, Movable Type is a toughy!!


I am totally 150% frustrated with Movable Types

I nearly give up. I want to move to a different service - Movable Type - but somehow, everything is now messed up. Is there anybody out there who is able to help me with it? I really would appreciate some help!!

Thanks so much.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Service - the little things that make a difference

Recently, this blog focusses on services provided in hotels. Actually, it started off by comparing two hotels in Kuala Lumpur that look the same, and which are located side by side.

Following this was the situation, in which a receptionist in the Pangkor Island Beach Resort Hotel called my sister-in-law "stupid woman", when the she put down the telephone receiver, but was still audible.

Instead of going to Pangkor, we drove up to Cameron Highlands (yeah, yeah, I know, I made a spelling mistake earlier - thanks for telling me).

The hotel we booked was the Equatorial. They provided a different experience altogether.

We drove up the mountains and weren't quite sure of the way. My wife called the hotel and they explained the details to her. The receptionist said good-bye in a special way: "You take care and have a nice day!"

The hotel is divided into two sections. One section contains the main building, while the other contains apartments that can be rented. However, they smelled - probably haven't been occupied for a while - we were suppose to say there for a night and than move to the main building. So, up we went to the reception to ask for a different room.

There was no problem in getting two rooms, for my sister-in-law's and my family. What was nice is that the magnetic strip card (sorry, I don't know the right word for it), was set to function in both room, as if there was only one room.

We still moved to different rooms the next day - both rooms were connected to each other. Again, the rooms were connected.

Small things, naturally - but it is the small things that make the difference. Hotels are in the business of renting rooms to people. This is the entry ticket to running their business. Based on their target group (is there such thing, still?), hotels target different types of travellers - think of budget hotels to the most luxiourous hotels.

The rest is what makes up the experience for the traveller - the little things, as I mention. Those that make your place stand out from the rest. It is so easy to entice or thrill your customer, isn't it?


Chomel and Kentum

A long time back, there was a cat called Grey. When he died, in late 2003 (we put him to sleep) he was about 18 years old. All his life he lived in the house together with members of my family. He ruled the house and he ruled his area. He came in by climbing up the bars at the kitchen windows and squeezing through a small open gap on top of the window.

He was a beautiful cat, but in the end, without teeth and lower control of his body movements he was sometimes badly hurt by rivals.

However, he made his mark. Our area is full of his descendants. Some that look like him and some that only resemble his original beauty.

My kid and my niece have adopted three kittens - well, by now, they are a bit bigger than kittens already. The little ones love the cats, and well, the cats love them - especially the food that the kids give them.

It is great for kids to be in together with animals to learn to take care. My kid wants a cat on his own, and may be, some day, I will get him one. But not in the condominium, I am staying in, not, as long as all the plants that he is suppose to taking care of die sooner or later. But may be, one day!!

Here is to Chomel and Kentum.


Happy New Year 2005

Official celebrations were cancelled in Malaysia. I am not sure if there were any in Indonesia or Thailand or anywhere else, where the Tsunami hit - I doubt it.

I want to wish my family, my friends, and the readers of this blog -those that come here regular, those that just pop by today, those that came here after the catastrophy and those that were here earlier (gosh, what a lengthy writing), - a happy and successful year 2005.

Yesterday evening, I sent a lot of SMS to friends and colleagues (both frequently the same). I wasn't even sure in the beginning if this was appropriate. It is not a happy start to a new year. Let's hope it will get better soon.

The combined efforts of the nations to battle the crisis is a good sign. I heard yesterday that in Sri Lanka, long term foes, the Tamil Tigers and the government, cooperate closely. I heard that in Aceh in Indonesia, there is no sign of rivalry between the rebels and the government. Let's just hope that working together in this catastrophy makes foes realise that the guy working beside you is a human. Just like you and me. With family, children, beliefs and hope.

Friday, December 31, 2004

Inquiry at Pangkor Island Beach Resort Hotel

Last week, I wrote about two hotels in Kuala Lumpur, the Meridien and The Hilton.

The pictures showed that both look very much the same and the question was, what makes them different from each other. The basic situation is the same, I thought. Training to their employees is provised and customer feedback is checked. The question was, what makes someone pick one hotel over the other - and presumably, it is the attitude of the customer service staff.

And true enough - they make a difference. Let me tell you a little story that happened before the Tsunami.

Our family (the whole family) planned a getaway to the hotel between Christmas and New Year, and the story.

We planned to go to Pangkor Island at wanted to book rooms in the Pangkor Island Beach Resort Hotel, the former Pan Pacific. My brother-in called and wanted to book a room called Ocean View, but was told by their receptionist that this room is not available.

My sister-in-law, the same afternoon, asked for the same room and suddenly was told that the room is still available. There is nothing wrong with this, since someone might have just cancelled the room.

So, in order to get the family in for one holiday she booked 5 rooms at once. The hotel should be happy to get such a large number of room reservations at once.

Later that day, she went to see her travel agent. Here, she picked up a brochure outlining a promotional campaign of the hotel, promising much lower prices than we were charged during the original booking.

Getting curious, she called the hotel anonymously to find out about the promotion. She talked to a receptionist called "Suzy". This Suzy told her that the campaign was over already.

My sister-in-law said that this is okay. So far so good - but when she start putting down the receiver, she heard the receptionist saying "so stupid, this woman." For no reason.

Employees can surely make a difference..

Another point to make here is that the travel agent, of course, shouldn't have left the brochure on the shelves, outlining the promotional campaign.

We also called the same hotel to ask for about the weather situation after the Tsunami struck. During that call, we referred to the governmental announcement asking people to stay away from beaches. They said that their place is safe, that tourists would still arrive by ferry, and that they couldn't refund the advance payment done. How would a great customer experience end? With a lot of apologies, informing the hotel guest that the area is safe and that there is nothing to worry about. But, to increase the surprise and generate potentially a word-of-mouth promotion, they should have offered a refund. May be with some deduction, but still. This was and still is a difficult situation. There is the so-called Act of God in policies and companies like to reinforce this in times of trouble. The hotel could have acted generously, just to show that they care.

We didn't cancel the room - and, according to an online information, we have to pay the whole (of course). I wonder if they left the room vacant, always expecting us. A great hotel would have called to find out where the guests whereabouts is.

It is a beautiful hotel with a great location - but employees and their attitude surely make a difference - to the better or to the worse! A simple remark can damage the perception of a hotel, and damage the brand. If it exists in the online world, it is damaged forever.

I am going to send this link to them.


Aerial Picture of Tsunami

There are plenty of pictures around about the Tsunami already, however, why not posting one more. This one was sent to me by Andy Tan last Wednesday - thanks Andy. I haven't posted it earlier since I just came back from my holiday yesterday.

It shows the power of nature.


Brand Malaysia mentioning AlwaysWoW!

Mack, over at Brand Malaysia wrote a very nice, and funny piece about this German blogger. And he got it right. I like Laksa, be it Penang Laksa or the one made by my mum-in-law.

I love Teh Tarik and how this came about is a different story to be told another day.

Let me expand on what Mack said. My basic intention of blogging is to blog about everything that I like and that I don't like. I am a critical guy, but hopefully seen as constructive. This part comes from my German heritage, and it is in me thanks to my parents.

Okay - some words about Germans - and sorry, if I am offending someone, please see this as a VERY general description. Well, I believe Germans have a tendency to see things critical, and very often, see the world way too pessimistic. May be I should say they see things negatively critical. In my opinion, this has something to do with their historical background that reaches way beyond Hitler's Third Reich. I have to say this to avoid being misunderstood - I believe that Germany's paranoia let to the rise of Hitler.

But I am detailed oriented, just like other Germans. Numbers drive me - colleagues in my office say that anything I say is supported by data and facts. I guess they are true, but hopefully, this is not boring.

I don't see myself as boring. People tell me that I am very different from the Germans they know to which I reply, that I was expelled from German because I am laughing and smiling too often. Germans are pretty serious people.

So yeah - that is also the motto of this blog - Make Your Life A WoW:

  • Don't do boring things - those things that are boring to you might be exciting to others. Like, not everybody loves numbers.
  • If you have to do something that is not too exciting, try the hardest to make it a great thing (is this a contradiction?). Try to find the gem in there that excites you. Be the greatest in what you have to do;
  • Don't take yourself too serious. Have a smile readywhen things turn sour. Be open to change course;
  • Be respectful - Show the same respect to a 5 year old, to a 90 year old, to a receptionist or to a CEO. They are all humans and have a role to play in life. And they have to say something;
  • Be compassionate and helpful. Don't ignore the bad things in life. Like the Tsunami catastrophy, I try to do my share and donate, and help, and inform, and post pictures. When I watch TV, read the newspapers or personal events on blogs, I am struggling with emotions. Or, just think about the service you deliver today to a customer - try to do your best. Just provide the best customer service your company has ever given. Go out of your way to help.
  • Show patience and be tolerant to mistakes and failures. Something I am struggling with and that my kid teaches me. I learnt that if he doesn't understand one way of explanation, it is not necessarily his mistake or fault. May be I have to find a different way to explain things to him. Or, that he keeps asking and asking and asking and asking - I think it is great. I have to overcome my sleepy head and respond to his questions. And well, if it is late and he actually should sleep, I have to tell him that there is more time the next day to ask more questions. In one of the presentations by Tom Peters is a slide that states - Punish mediocre success. Celebrate great failures. How true!
  • Be honest and integer - It is tough sometimes, to find the way to do things right. It is easy to just do things, even so they might be wrong. I have learnt that I have to listen to my feelings. If I don't feel okay doing something, I believe I should not do them.
  • Be a CEO of your life. In anything you do, you have the power to change, to enhance, to enrich. or to destroy. It is your life. Live it to the fullest. Find opportunities to make things better, if you face challenges. Enjoy those challenges.
  • Find positive things that blow you away. Living a Wow also means to find those things that enrich life. That give the energy to get going and keep going. To make me get up at 6.00 AM every morning (okay, not the weekends)
  • Be passionate. People ask me what they should study, what job they should take. Hey - do what you like to do. If you find the one thing in life that really, really drives you, something that makes you really, really happy, do it. If you are alone in the field or if there are 100,000 others - your passion for this one thing will make you stand out, and will make you successful. Just do it, as Nike said. There are enough people that do things they don't like for reasons that sound odd and worn like old socks.
  • Learn, share knowledge but unlearn. Why not? It is great to learn new things and even better if you share those with others. They might just know the things you need to know to move on. But just like life changes, knowledge needs to evolve. Since the world appears to move faster today, there is a lot that we need to learn new everyday. We cannot hold on to old rules, regulations and requirements. There is a constant need to try something new and to forget what we learnt yesterday.
  • Be yourself. Don't imitate anybody. Find your own self. And live it

There is plenty more to say, but this is the basic motto for a Great WoW in Life.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Tom Peters mentioning Tsunami

There are many, many management gurus.

There are many, many blogs around the world that are read by many, many people.

Sadly, there are, so far, only a few, who mention the Tsunami in their blogs.

Tom Peters is one - but he also understands Asia quite a bit.

Joi Ito (so no management guru) is another one - but he lives in Japan.

But where are all the other bloggers - those that have a huge following and could boost the donations? May be I am unfair, am I?


Just coming in: New Tsunamis possible. Warnings issued

Yahoo reports that

"Tens of thousands of residents fled coasts in India, Sri Lanka and Thailand after warnings of possible new tsunamis Thursday, and pilots in Indonesia dropped food to cliff-rimmed villages yet to be visited by outsiders four days after the disaster."

Let's pray that this is wrong alert or that the people are prepared!


Bloggers without borders launched

Joi Ito writes that Bloggers without Borders was just launched.

Jonas writes about the Tsunami:

"Tsunami Outreach

We have found our compassion in this one. Yet, one thing remains and is badly needed, says a friend of mine who just arrived in Sri Lanka and will be contributing what he learned in eight years in Uniform. People. Not the odd-job bystander, not the “activist”, and certainly not the journalist. What is needed most, today, are qualified specialists. Demolitions experts to safely destroy dangerous structures, Doctors, guys and gals who know how to handle a syringe or a gun. The latter is needed more and more as the looting increases and food and medical supplies are being raided by black marketers.

He suggests I throw my visitors behind this and start a list. A “hall of fame” of companies willing to give their employees a few weeks off to come help. One to list companies willing to priority interview returnees who have been fired for taking the big step of personal sacrifice for a common good.

We have those lists for soldiers. We need it for volunteers. What do you think?

Update: We have a number of people pledging frequent flyer miles, small donations, and some part of their income. If you are truly interested in going, have something to contribute, and want more info, I am setting up the site as we speak."


AlwaysWoW in The Star

The Star (Malaysia) mentioned my blog this morning and they referred to this posting. While I am happy that they have mentioned it, it is clear that some of the writing had been taken out. Just for those who visit the blog following the article.

It helped, however, the readership of this blog. The numbers kept already growing after Jeff Ooi mentioned my blog. Thanks Jeff. It didn't help, however, that this blog entry wasn't necessarily the smartest one that I posted and pinged to Petaling Street in my life as a blogger.

The sad piece is that the inflow of spam in my Yahoo Account increased dramatically as well.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Three thoughts about the earthquake

We planned to go to Pangkor Island. But considering the potential of a second tremor, a second tsunami, we decided to reschedule. Now it is Cameroon Highlands. It is sad - really, for the victims of the earthquake. The damages that the earthquake caused. The economic ruin that some families face.

But what amazes me all the time when I hear about catastrophies is the manner, people come together to help. They just get closer to each other, isn't it? Calls for assistance are responded to, donations are initiated. There is no thinking of war, or killing, of religion and who is right and who is wrong.

Why isn't it possible that we live together in harmony and help each other every day? Why is it that only in danger, we come together as one?

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Earthquake or vibrations in Kuala Lumpur?

Was there an earthquake this morning in Malaysia or in Indonesia with the vibrations hitting Kuala Lumpur?

It was about 9.00 o'clock this morning, when the iron bars on my window started to vibrate. I thought that this is weird, since the aircon is not that strong, of course, to move those bars. But they kept shattering.

I just ignored it.

About 30 minutes later, my sister in law called me from her apartment building in Taman Desa. She said her building shook. She first thought that she was dizzy, but then, she saw picture frames moving, and realised that her building was shaking.

She went down, together with other inhabitants. Police was also there, and ask inhabitants to evacuate the building.

Anybody knows something more?

Okay - here is a picture from Yahoo.

It must have been a pretty bad eathquake - Yahoo reports that up to 3,000 people died, and that waves even hit Sri Lanka, and India:

"Sri Lanka's prime minister said 1,500 people were killed in that country. Officials in India reported 1,000 dead. More than 400 were reported killed in Indonesia, 120 in Thailand and 15 in Malaysia."

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Santa Claus brought the Playstation

Those who follow the blog will remember that my kid wished for a Playstation. Well, thanks to a lot of comments, and e-mails, and telephone calls (thanks Ash), Santa Claus actually brought a unit and put it under the Christmas tree.

There is nothing better than to see the beaming eyes of a kid who is happy. He played a lot today, and he was good at it. I was testing some of the games earlier, and I had problems in moving my finger fast enough or even getting a handle on what is required. Especially with Spiderman - I constantly crashed on the pavement - I did not quickly enough realise what buttons to press, duh!

Now, my kid loves Spiderman too, and so he played it a long time today - no problems at all. Well, okay, he faces some challenges in getting to the action on time to save the world. He likes to move here, swing there, and crawl over there - he had a lot of fun jumping onto the roof of the cars and let them carry him through town.

Nevermind - but what I want to say is that kids comprehend so much more of technology than we "elderly people" do. I recently read somewhere (don't find the link anymore) that companies in Europe still have problems in getting 3G to take off. The author of the article concluded that those challenges boil down to two issues: Firstly, the prices for MMS and 3G are still to high (may be so in europe, I don't know in Asia), and that the operator should hire some teenagers to figure out what is cool at 3G. 3G is more than sending pictures to your friends.

The point that I want to make is that even my kid seem to be ahead of me in some games (not all - I beat him in the car race). Sure, I catch up, and it might take a bit longer, but it is the same issue. Corporations need to have young people in their management team, or on their board. If older people decide what is good for young people, and what products young people like, it sure will fail. Now take a look at the Annual Reports of big corporations in Malaysia and you get a feeling that something needs to change.

One more cute point to this post that became more serious than I thought - when I brought my kid to bed he said with a sigh: "I like to play Playstation. It sure was nice of Santa Claus to bring me one."



I am thinking about A&W - and Mack finally gave the last push to publish those thoughts. A&W always was the little guy after McDonalds and Burger King. All that I heard of as being good was their Root Beer and their - ... I forgot the name of that thing with the sausage in the middle and the sauce on top (so much for awareness) - I still like their Root Beer.

I remember the old A&W at Subang Airport and, sorry to say, the bad customer service there and the dirty surrounding of the outlet.

They have changed over the last couple of months and upgraded the premises - this was actually promised in an article in the New Straits Times in 2002 (!) where they say that " KUB Malaysia Bhd is embarking on an aggressive marketing campaign to revitalise the A&W fast food chain in a move to increase its market share of the fast-food sector by the end of the year." I am not sure if it happened but the attitude of their employees improved. Just go to the outlet at Amcorp Mall, and the moment you open the door, about four people greet you and want to take your order. The same thing is happening in their nice outlet in Alamanda Mall.

Still, and sorry to say so - the outlets have changed, the attitude of the employees might have changed, but the food still "sucks". My opinion. But no doubt - people visit the outlets and interestingly, it is an older clientel that can be seen. In the outlet at Amcorp Mall, many people seem to actually conduct meetings. I am not sure what kind of meetings, but it seems serious. Which I think is interesting. It throws up the question, what kind of market position A&W is aspiring to, how it wants to be seen, and what it thinks of its brand. I really, really wonder, if their corporate strategies include all of this, or if they try to cater to the youth segment only - and I think that in the morning, you will find many "youngsters" in the outlets (sorry the language).

And hey - look at the picture above - people are lining up, while one counter is not manned (the guy is cleaning the counter?). What impression is this giving?

Their webpage is still outdated - they talk of about 23 outlets in Malaysia as of July 2003, which is a couple of months behind us, I believe. The newest news that can be found is also from 2003. I wonder if someone in A&W is aware that they have a webpage.

It actually shows that corporate webpages are still very often seen as corporate broadcasting board - initially, touting a company's achievements. The Internet is frequently not integrated as communications tool into the corporate communications strategy. Many companies see it as part of the job of a web developer to update and maintain a webpage, and soon, it gets forgotten, and is quickly outdated. Only when companies realise that the web is different and not something to simply replicate a corporate brochure will a webpage be successful. Blogging, in fact, is even revolutionising this point of view and putting much greater strain on corporate communications. The communications department and the web developer need to work hand in hand to develop an integrated strategy that positions the company where it wants to be positioned.

Well, a rambling post, but well, that is what a blog is for, sometimes - to let rambling thoughts out.

PS: The pictures are copied from their website, without permission.


Merry Xmas to all of you

I totally forgot to wish all of you a Merry Christmas - too much food (what's new?), too many presents (not for me!!), too many (no, not at all) visitors that kept me and my family busy. Keep up the comenting, reading, criticising - constructively or not, and don't forget:

Have a great life, make it a WoW



Here you have them - two hotels, side by side. The Meridien and The Hilton. Both standing tall, with impressive architecture.

Both are 5 Star Hotels. Service is top fit, really. And so are the prices - you probably pay a lot for great service and great food.

I also believe that both do a great job in their aim to satisfy customers. This is probably tracked with feedback forms, market research, focus group discussions, and mystery shoopers - people who walk in disguised as guests, but in fact, are researchers.

From time to time, you will find an advertisement in the newspapers, or promotion that is being pushed by travel agents that work with the individual hotel. In this time, one hotel might have a slight edge over the other, for a short while, before the other is doing something similar. But it won't be a lasting gain - those little effects are not differentiating.

So what makes the two hotels different? Why, if I have the money, would I choose the Hilton over the Meridien, or the Meridien over the Hilton? What would be the response if a PA arranges a travel iternery and has to chose between the Hilton and Meridien?

Is it word-of-mouth and that more people talk about the Hilton?

Having great employees will hep the individual hotel to make a difference, I would suggest, but than, they are trained, in both hotels to conform to their values, and cultures.

May be the employees are in alignment with the brand and the value proposition that Hilton and Meridien represents.

Is it the corporate reputation? May be one hotel is more known than the other hotel? May be ones salespeople are more effective (hey - but I don't like it when they call me on the phone to sell me some strange membership). May be they have different operating models, as I discussed with a friend yesterday evening. May be the Meridien doesn't want to have a full house, but works with higher margins, than the Hilton? Although that doesn't make sense, since hotels are build to be occupied, not vacant.

So what makes you chose one hotel over the other?

Friday, December 24, 2004

It is annoying that ....

How annoying is it that:

  • You call a company, and the answering machine kicks in to tell you that all the operators are busy at the moment, and that you should key in the extension number. This doesn’t happen only once, but ALL the time, making it either a very, very busy company or simply unbelievable,
  • You call a company and, since the person you want to talk to is busy, she or he actually asks YOU to call back in five minutes. This is not your first call to the company, you are not looking for a job, and you are not a telemarketer.
  • You call a company and you are constantly told that the person you want to speak to is not around, in a meeting, is on the phone or just stepped out. You ask, when is an appropriate time to speak to them and call at the time given, once again. Again, you find out that the person is not around, in a meeting, just stepped out or on the phone. You leave your name, and contact details, never to hear from them again;
  • You call a company, and than, while on hold, a tape recorder plays the same music again and again. It is made worse when it is a tape recorder that praises the company’s high achievement, their products or their service level – and when finally, you get the connection, you get excuses as mentioned in the point before;
  • It can also happen that anytime, someone connects you, the line breaks down. This is annoying as well
  • It is annoying that you have to give all your details to the receptionist. She transfers you to the PA of the person you want to speak to and than …. she ask the same things again – what is your name, where are you calling from and so on. The receptionist never passes the information on. It actually happened to me (in Indonesia), that I was transferred to 4 different people until finally, someone told me that there is no such person working in the company
  • It is annoying that there are still companies that ask you to write a letter if you just want to talk to someone for a short while to discuss a pertinent matter.
  • It is annoying that companies lose your letter, and you have to refax the letter and again and again and again – to fail in what you wanted to achieve
  • It is annoying that companies don’t have the courtesy to reply to a letter. Some do reply, after a year or longer, so – but does this make it better?
  • It is annoying to realize that there are companies that employ people as receptionists, PA or even higher up the management level, that haven’t heard of courtesy, manners and politeness. Are they employed to make you feel unwelcome?

But it is great to find exceptions to all those points above

Thank you to all of you

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The jilted bride

Nobody is blogging about this new thing? About this Kedah soccer player that cancelled his wedding in the last second via SMS?

Okay, let me try to formulate what I think. I am on no one's side, and I believe that how this is conducted is no WoW for anyone involved.

I think what the guy did was bad, really. I mean, come on, sending an SMS to cancel your wedding, or to break up with your bride? That is worse than picking up the phone and tell her "sorry Darling, cannot see you anymore, found someone else." Or, "sorry, cannot tahan, no wedding lah."

It is cowardly, but well, some people misuse technology for such thing.

But hey - I think it is a private thing. Between the two - why all the news coverage? Is there nothing else that is happening in Malaysia that is more newsworthy? Okay, he is a soccer player may be a good one, may be a bad one. I don't know. Is it like a David Beckham drama, only now in Malaysia, and his affair with whoever? What is in it for the girl?

Sure, she is embarrassed and wounded. But suing this guy? Is this a copy from what you see in American soap operas? Dallas or Denver (1980s - oh my God) comes to my mind. Isn't it better to get over with it? She is still young, right? Honestly, would it have been better to get married and than, have a divorce after a day, week, month or year? The guy appears as if he is not very mature. He is scared of what is going on in his life. In the time, he behaves like an elephant in a porcelain shop, clearly. I am not defending the guy, but is it really the right way to say - "he embarrassed the nation, his team, we don't extend his contract, and destroy another life in the process?" Too much harm done already.

Let them work it out - and actually, may be the girl gets a contract on the way for TV, as newsreader or actress.

Monday, December 20, 2004

The long tail - a story worth reading

You need to read this story. Really. To fully understand the tremendous impact the Internet has. On music, on books, on anything. To understand the power of comments and recommendations. To understand the limitations of the current world. To get an understanding of the beginning revolution that we are facing. This revolution that is just beginning and came into being through the Internet. But also, that through the power of sharing, something can be created that is better than what any individual can do alone.

The Long Tail - I read the story first in Wired Magazine:

" In 1988, a British mountain climber named Joe Simpson wrote a book called Touching the Void, a harrowing account of near death in the Peruvian Andes. It got good reviews but, only a modest success, it was soon forgotten. Then, a decade later, a strange thing happened. Jon Krakauer wrote Into Thin Air, another book about a mountain-climbing tragedy, which became a publishing sensation. Suddenly Touching the Void started to sell again.
Random House rushed out a new edition to keep up with demand. Booksellers began to promote it next to their Into Thin Air displays, and sales rose further. A revised paperback edition, which came out in January, spent 14 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. That same month, IFC Films released a docudrama of the story to critical acclaim. Now Touching the Void outsells Into Thin Air more than two to one.

What happened? In short, recommendations. The online bookseller's software noted patterns in buying behavior and suggested that readers who liked Into Thin Air would also like Touching the Void. People took the suggestion, agreed wholeheartedly, wrote rhapsodic reviews. More sales, more algorithm-fueled recommendations, and the positive feedback loop kicked in."
(Kim - this is not an Amazon Story, okay!!)

Now, The Long Tail is out as a manifest in ChangeThis. It tells the story how an online retailer, such as Amazon, Rhapsody, Netflix and others can hold so many more documents, books, movies and music compared to traditional retailers and, the amazingly, that people don't only buy music that they know, but they get carried away into areas they would never experience without recommendations.

And it shows that the Pareto rule, this famous 80/20 rule (80% of your business is derived from 20% of your customers) might not necessarily be valid anymore. It asks the question: "What percentage of the top 10,000 titles in any one online media store (Netflix, Amazon etc.) will rent or sell at least once a months?" Most people guess 20%, - due to the Pareto Thinking. but this is wrong - The answer here is 99%!!!! "There is a demand for nearly every one of those 10,000 tracks."

How, will you ask? Recommendations, that bring you from the top of the chart (say Britney Spears down the tail to similar genres). Beautiful

I wrote about ChangeThis here and here before and I love the project. So log in and read the other manifests to see the speed of change and get your hands on really good knowledge.


Mr Kee and Mr Teyu of KL Credit Sdn Bhd

Their card says "Adalah anda kekurangan Wang Tunai? Syarikat kami pakar mengurus pinjaman yang cepat dan mudah untuk menyelesaikan masalah anda!"

Not sure what it all says on their business cards but it probably states that if I am in need of money, they are there to help me. I understand the piece about "no problem, and cheap" - yeah right, until I cannot pay up anymore.

The loansharks are back. I think the waves around them calmed down - there weren't that many news articles about them recently. They must have suffered - the card, that was pinned to the windowscreen of my car still has a calendar for 2004 (its tough to get a clear picture with a cameraphone). Or, may be, they try to get rid of old stock.

Or, they saw Sharkstale in the movies and thought, it is an appropriate time to relaunch and rebrand their business. Pickyback on Walt Disney's success.


Banks profiting from service charges

Ha - you thought I talk about Maybank, right?

Nope, Maybank in Malaysia, for a while at least, retreats from its charges that the bank wanted to impose on its customers for the usage of Maybank's Internet Banking website - I wrote something about it before.

Let me try this again whole thought again:

The process is as follows: You log in from your computer (if you are at home), that you have paid (hopefully). You have also paid your monthly subscription fee to your chosen Internet Service Provider (as long as you don't log in from your company, you should have paid something to an ISP).

You maintain an account with Maybank, and the bank planned to charge you that you can access your account via their website.

Okay, in the meantime, they retreated from this idea - Bank Negara, the National Bank of Malaysia, plus, hopefully, a lot of pressure from the consumers, forced them to get back to the table and think through their idea again. What is good, I think

Now, everybody, who works for Maybank, please stop reading here.

It actually appears that Maybank or Malaysia is not the only country where banks profit from the growing trend to log on and use their service.

It is also happening in Korea. There, banks also have quite a profitable year - banks in Korea are expected to post record-high incomes from banking fees this year. No protest in Korea. But one guy Kim Woo-jin who is a researcher at the Korea Institute of Finance, said that even though a raise in fees was inevitable to keep banks in profit, it represented a disservice to customers. The banks should prepare an alternative plan to minimize customers' loss."

I am happy to live in Malaysia - I don't have an Internet account where the fees could get increased, but once banks become comfortable in increasing fees, they will find all kind of ways to increase fees for services that you haven't thought about.

I am coming from Germany, and let me tell you, there are lots of ways for different institutions to increase some service fee, and some service fee there. And the tendency to increase fees accelerated with each year the country headed towards crisis and higher unemployment. Wonder, if there are some clouds in Malaysia's economic heaven that I haven't seen yet?

Sunday, December 19, 2004

A sign at a Waffle shop

I visited Alamanda Mall in Putrajaya, once again and boy (or girl), it is getting crowded there. The problem is that there are two entries to different parking lots, but only one is known to the public. And since there is the habit of following the car in front of you, one parking lot - the one know, of course - is packed up to the top, while the other one is totally empty.

Anyway, in the foodcourt is the Waffle Shop and in front of the cashier, there is this very interesting sign.

Judge for yourself. It is the little things that make you different.

Pity, it is so small and the guys and girls behind the counter don't market it. A foodcourt is the ultimate competitive environment. One stall after the next screams for your attention. You have a variety of food, that you can endulge in - just what your taste is like. Mine, today, was for Western Food. At first. But what happened? I stood there, and about three - what? let's call them attendants - behind the counter. Two of them totally ignored me, for about one minute, while the third one at the cashier took care of the one person in front of me.

I am nagging, I know, but there should be some kind of an acknowledgement of one customer - I think.

After she, the cashier girl, finished with the lady in front of me, she attended to me. I ordered my food, and guess what. She ask if I could wait 20 minutes. Business is good, and well, at least she had the couresy to inform me about the time. But I wonder, how much business was lost, besides mine, since I walked away and ate a waffle.

Do something about the attitude. I believe that some of them are the ones leasing the stall and that they have an interest in getting business. It might be THE investment of a lifetime for them and how do they look or operate the stall? As if there would be endless time. As if there are enough customers and one can afford to lose a nagging German. That, well, if you cannot wait, eat somewhere else attitude. Do something with your employees - let them be friendly - it is so simple. While it is more than having a smile policy, a smile is at least a start.

Like the sign at the Waffle shop. They could do so much out of it. Sell the sign, have some fun with it. Forget the receipt, every now and than, and make a big, public affair out of the free food. Now that would be the Free Price that attracts attention, and might even create a buzz, if handled correctly, spontaneously, and with the consumer in mind.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

What I liked in 2004 - and didn't

It is more or less a habit that I write down what I like at a year in the end of a year - its positive and its negative sides.

This is the beginning of the list, but I might add on over the next couple of days or so.

What I liked
  1. I love life and live it to the fullest. There is still a Great WoW in Life
  2. I keep bonding with my kid - and I am still amazed about the things that a "small one" is doing
  3. I am amazed about my wife's knowledge that she gains so quickly when she really entrenches herself in a new hobby. I could outline a lot of what she learnt over the past 12 months, but she has now great knowledge about insurance, tax law, property law, Yoka and so on and so on
  4. Met a hellova great people over blogger - thanks to all of you guys that I communicate with and that I met during different situations
  5. Met a helluva great people via other opportunities - such as training seminars, conferences, and "interest" clubs, so to speak
  6. A great outlook for 2005
  7. Reading a lot of great books, with the best book of 2004 being Re-Imagine by Tom Peters (nah, there are others, but this is a different entry)
  8. Developed blogger skills and with that, also learnt a bit of HTML (I learnt it earlier, but forgot everything)
  9. I registered a company and foresee great opportunities and fun in 2005 (may be? may be not)
  10. Develop new skills around new business opportunities and have really fun around that
  11. Upgraded my car - cannot say that my new car is new, since I switched my old car with a newer one from my brother-in-law
  12. I am still tremendously curious
  13. I am still passionate about things that drive me
  14. I discover that I still can change. This is getting tougher when you get older, since we "elderly" become more complacent (and I hate it!)
  15. The two conferences where I had great fun and from which different things evolve that still keep growing
  16. My Mum turns 80 this year. My sister and I gave her a hotair balloon trip for her birthday to fulfill her childhood dream
  17. My niece found a job after completion of school - which is pretty tough in German with an unemployment rate of 11%
  18. Some headhunters called me - but since I have a great job that involves a lot of reading and some more, I stayed with my current employer
  19. There are a great many great people employed in my company and the feeling is like being with a family
  20. The Internet - how could I forget this!! This is the greatest invention of all times (really?)
  21. Great books (didn't I write this already?)
  22. Great discussions with great people
  23. An invitation to participate in the establishment of an association (cannot say more in the moment, but that WoWs me)
What I didn't like
  1. My job is not that challenging anymore. I need more stretch targets (but than, isn't that up to me?
  2. I am getting older (but than, may be also wiser and have more opportunities?)
  3. I am still impatient and I cannot stand it at all
  4. There are still only 24 hours in a day
  5. Why do I have to get up so early to bring my kid to school !! (and how does he manage to keep his energy level so high, despite getting up early?)
  6. My boss is pretty cynical sometimes
  7. I am still angry at stupid drivers that cut in and think their time is more worth than mind
  8. My boy is growing bigger and we have our first generation gaps
  9. I haven't been on a business trip for more than a day. Singapore was the only destination that I had this year. I like travelling!!!
  10. Bush won the election
  11. There are way too many wars in the world and as usual, kids and women are the ones suffering
  12. I saw the video on the beheading of one of the hostages and I have to say that this was one of the most shocking, cruesome and disgusting experiences that I can recall!
  13. Malaysians still throw rubbish all over the place. I love this country - I always say that I never saw a country that destroys its beauty that fast and I am sad about it
  14. My Mum turned 80 this year and she didn't manage to visit us for health reasons. But she still travels a lot in Europe (needed to make an appointment when I visisted her in 2003 and I am not kidding).
  15. I couldn't go to Germany since the exchange rate to the Euro is so damn high (I think 1 Euro is about RM 4.90 in the moment - who can afford to go to Europe?)
  16. My Nephew in Germany is pretty sick
  17. I haven't written anything in the positive list that I liked in my company in 2004, besides the two conferences - this looks serious for someone who works more than his fair share of the day!!!!!! I need to think about this serious (Okay - I wrote something in point 17)
  18. That it is 2005 already. I remember how I sat on the veranda in 2000 and waited for the famous glitches that never came
  19. I am still messy - my desks - office and at home - look like a nuclear war took place

I am happy that there are more things that WoWed me than that turned me off.

Hello 2005 - here I come


Chocolade for RM123

My boss had a Family Day last week, and well, low thinking as I am, I first got a nicely designed box of chocolate, made in China. And WoW, did my wife give me the heat. She said that this is chocolate manufacturer that is known by no one. She assumed that the taste of the chocolate inside would be horrible. She was right with that - how come women are always right? . We tasted the chocolate later and I think, it ended up in the garbage bin shortly afterwards. I first tried to put on a brave face stating, yeah, that it tastes nice, but than, well, I couldn't eat more than two or three of the pieces.

Okay - her opinion was that a present reflects who you are - the image that you project - and how much you value the person that you give the present to. So she said we need a nice looking package with extremely well-tasting content.

The picture below shows the chocolate package that we bought in the chocolate shop in Megamall - I think its name is something with Belgium in it. It looked very nice, very professionally made. I just hope that my boss keeps the package, since the box alone costed around RM25.

But yeah, my wife is right. A present reflects on you and as such, the creation and the management of an image still is important for a product manufacturer and service provider. Even today. The design of the box is beautiful, and I believe the content - Belgium chocolate!! - will be great.

But the story also reminds me of the campaign for National Service in Malaysia. I heard an advertisement on the radio recently which praised the situation in the camps. How beautiful they are, and how important NS is. That it is great that participants can meet so many different people from differen races. But open the newspapers and read the section "Letters to the Editors". How did one describe it today in a letter to The Star?

  • Security - the camp is still under construction and foreign workers are all around
  • Communication - there are only five phones available to all participants
  • Cantine smell - he wrote that even a toilet would smell better than the canteen in the camp
Clearly, those organising the National Service want to promote a picture of fun, and learning. But, again, what perception is created when the experience is bad? Its a similar situation, isn't it? Managing your image and aligning your image with the reality and the perception is crucial for the success.

To come back to the story with the chocolate - the Chinese manufacturer had a chance to persuade my wife that his product is great - it already had a great design. I bought the box, and my wife tasted it. But the lasting impression is that Chinese chocolate is not necessarily something that I am going to buy again. So well, first impressions count as well.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Some more things to know

I had a list taken from Seth's blog yesterday published in mine. His had a total of 30 items and I want to add on some more, related to the Asian context. Add on if you want - what do you think is important?

31. The need to learn Bahasa Melayu.
32. Don't forget to learn Mandarin or any other Chinese dialect as long as it is also commonly used in China - thus, it could also be Cantonese
33. I mentioned earlier, that we need to rollodex
34. Never forget to have fun
35. Be sensitive to those you have dealings with - have respect for their gender, religion, attitude and opinion
36. Learn and apply what you have learnt.
37. Be openminded
38. Learn to unlearn
39. Play and see the world through the eyes of a seven year old

Sham added in this one:

40. To always see yourself in the mirror and evaluate do you like what you see? If you don't, make an effort to change it. If you do, improve it.
41. To learn to not be afraid to ask question, even those that might hurt you. You never know what you can learn.
42. Computer... Tea, Earl Grey, hot." — Jean-Luc Picard

Anything else that is there to know?

Thursday, December 16, 2004

The top 1,000 things to know, and than some more

Now, finally, I know what to teach my kid before he is 13 year old. Thanks Seth. This is a helpful list. There are even some items, I still have to learn, like number 20 on the list: "Understanding the biographies of 500 important historical figures and 200 fictional ones."

But here is the original list taken from his blog:

1. How to type.
2. How to speak in front of a group.
3. How to write clear prose that other people actually want to read.
4. How to manage a project.
5. The most important lessons from American history.
6. What the world's religions have in common.
7. Evolution.8. Formal logic.9. The 15,000 most common English words.
10. Conversational Spanish.
11. How to handle big changes, with grace.
12. How to run a small business.
13. Basic chemistry.
14. Not arithmetic, but algebra.
15. A little geometry, a little calculus.
16. The most important lessons from ten other world cultures and their history.
17. Speed reading with comprehension.
18. How to sell.
19. Pick one: how to paint, write a poem, compose a song or juggle really well.
20. Understanding the biographies of 500 important historical figures and 200 fictional ones.
21. Basic understanding of electricity.
22. How to drive a nail, drive a screw, cut a board, build a box.
23. How to drive a car in the winter, how to pull a car out of a skid.
24. How to ask for help.
25. How to read a table and a chart
26. How to read the media for spin and for insight
27. The importance of doing things for other people.(yes, this one among others is mostly a parenting job, but yes, it can be taught)
28. How to work really really hard, sometimes on things that aren't fun.
29. What it's like to be in jail.
30. How to create an internal dialogue that makes you happy.

This is Seth's list.

And thereare an additional 10 items that we also need to be good at.

21. Basic understanding of electricity.
22. How to drive a nail, drive a screw, cut a board, build a box.
23. How to drive a car in the winter, how to pull a car out of a skid.
24. How to ask for help.
25. How to read a table and a chart
26. How to read the media for spin and for insight
27. The importance of doing things for other people.(yes, this one among others is mostly a parenting job, but yes, it can be taught)
28. How to work really really hard, sometimes on things that aren't fun.
29. What it's like to be in jail.3
0. How to create an internal dialogue that makes you happy.

What is missing? How to network, maintaining a good Rollodex (I don't even know how to write this correctly) and having fun in everything you do. Like, an Always WoW for a Great Great Life, right?

So, when are the schools in Malaysia or Asia changing their school curriculums?

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Popcorn tin - what a design!

Is this tin full of popcorn? Or is it a toy? It is both, it is huge and it is beautiful.

It is a can full of different popcorn bags - popcorn with cheese taste, with caramel, and with butter taste.

Look at the view from the aisle!

It stands out from the crowd. It wants to be seen, it is made to be seen. Where do you put it? In the toy department or in the food department? And that is the great part of it – because the retailer will put it where it can be seen.

The best? The tin is beautiful and colourful – a great design. It will cheer up kids heart – damn it, it cheers up mine. This is what I call “stand out from the crowd.” It could have been another boring bag of popcorn.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Be nice at Petaling Street (stupid title)

What kind of series do I run here? Don't know - just posted something about Friendly Gestures, now I write about Being Nice at Petaling Street.

I am not sure if I do a good deed here - I believe that blogging in Malaysia is great and that there are talented bloggers out there. I know that we all are proud of our blogs - at least sometimes - and that we want to develop it into something that is great. Nevermind that now.

So in conversations with friends and clients and acquaitances, I mention Petaling Street and the great bloggers that post at Petaling Street.

I had a great meeting today and an even better diner, but this aside. The guy I am talking about is the CEO of an IT company and we had a conversation about the dire need for great employees. He said that there are plenty employees that he has offered a job, but they decline the offer in the last minute. Others don't show up at all.

He told the story of an employee who had signed the contract, but who called up to decline the job a day before the the official start.

This employee mentioned, as reason for the cancellation that the job scope might be too high for him, might require too much, and he wouldn't have it yet. My friend wasn't happy, of course - finding a good employee is not cheap. It takes up his time, time, that he could spend with clients, or with employees that already work with him. He said that this is a sad case, because of course he would take care of the employees and that they grow according to their capabilities and that they have the time to stretch themselves.

So I said that he should take a look at Petaling Street and that there are a lot of bloggers out there that have the talent to succeed in the IT world. I mean it. The other guys that were with us tonight actually encouraged him to take a look - so post something nice, okay!!.

However, if you are interested, and just looking for a job I am more than happy to forward your blog link to him.


Friendly gestures

Is it sad to blog about something nice and friendly? Is it so unusual already that I thought it was nice?

I went to MPH last week, and when I had paid and slowly moved away, the girl at the cashier called me back. I was so entrenched in my thoughts that I didn't hear her, or react to anything, until a younger guy in the queue actually called on me, and stopped me. What happened? I forgot my change. I had paid with RM100, and forgot to pocket my change. So I walked back and collected it, and, going back again, thanked the younger guy.

He grinned and said, "is okay and have a nice evening". I do the same, sometimes, but it blew me away that someone can actually be that friendly. Is this normal? Am I unnormal to always see the things that don't work so nicely? I know this is a boring entry, but I thought it is worthwhile.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Ugly women get less aid

That was a headline in yesterday's The Star.

It is sad that there are still so many people around us with some really "%£$*^ attitudes. Especially when one realises that women have all the characteristics to become better employees or entrepreneurs in the 21st century than men:

  • More creativity
  • More emotions
  • More thinking outside the box
  • Teamwork, less competitive
  • And there is much more
Men might only see that once they are left behind far, far behind!


Is this advertisement reflecting the Malaysian culture?

Before I forget it - I am carrying this ad from LG with me, advertising for their handphone series. LG is a leading conglomerate in S-Korea, and they actually produce some rocking things. They are coming but I saw this print-ad last week on Wednesday (Dec 8) in The Star and I didn't like it and I don't think - hope - it reflects Malaysian culture.

I don't have a softcopy of the ad, so please let me describe it.

The picture in the advertisement depicted a family driving in a car. Two adults - I assume they are the parents and their three kids - I assume they are their kids. And all are using their handphone. The father, at the stirring wheel, uses bluethooth, with the handphone laying on the dashboard (doesn't he know that the phone will fly like a rocket, in case of an accident?). The mother is sitting on the passenger seat, also encrossed in a conversation. The daughter as well, both using the phone without the hands-free - isn't is said to be better to use a handsfree?

Both boys play on their mobile phones - yeah, boys don't like to talk on the phone that long.

But, what I don't like is that there is no indication of a conversation within the family. It is like, I am with you, but actually, I am somewhere else. Sad, if the Asian culture is like that, nowadays. Is this really Asia?

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Conversations with God

I love my kid. More than anything in the world. Those of you who read this will know what I am talking about. It is about mutual learning - I learn from my kid to have patience, and he learns a thing or two about life. At least I hope that although I think that this will change once he gets older - and when he tells me to stay away from his parties, and doesn't invite me anymore or appreciates when I come along.

Anyway, he is seven now, and his brain really starts to work. Questioning everything and trying to build his own insights.

One thing that he is worried about is death. He is worried that one of his parents dies, so we - my wife and I tell him that he should pray to God. When he is worried about me dying, I also tell him that I have to live healthily - going to the gym, for example (I will never be able to stop after that), eat vegetables (the thing parents do to tell their kids to eat the green stuff on the plate).

Recently my wife told my kid, once again, that he should pray to God and ask him to let his parents live long.

My kid was quiet for a short while - what rarely happens. Than he asks - "But when there are so many people asking for things, how can God hear me?" My wife reaffirmed him that God is listening, but what a question!!

I think the question comes from the fear of being alone - of not knowing what will happen after one dies, or what will happen to him. So I explained to him that there will also be someone to take care of him, but it is such a emotionally moving topic. He is frequently crying than, and it takes some time to console him. It is a phase, I know, but it shows how hard kids can take it, and deep and far they actually can think.


Member value at Fitness First - 1.94%

I gotta talk about Fitness First again. It is not that I don't think that they don't do a good deed for people like me, no, I think a Gym Center is worthwhile and important. Why do I criticise them than, now, I think the third time?

May be because I didn't work out for a long time, started again today, and felt like all the efforts that I made over the last two or three years are gone and I start from zero - that is how much I huffed and puffed. But than I saw this and I had to take a picture with my cameraphone.

It is bad quality so let me tell you what is there. It tells you that you get an organiser for 2005 if you refer two new members to Fitness First. The organiser is worth RM 70 and that is a picture of it.

And here are my thoughts.

This is not a promotion this is a joke. Why? Because firstly, for RM 70, you won't get a beautiful one. I think - nevermind. But you get a cheaper one if you just look around. I don't even want to start saying, who is using those organiser but that might be unfair or arrogant.

But think about the conditions - you have to refer two new members to get such thing. Let's say, each member pays about RM 150 monthly, what makes RM3,600 together, right? What is the share that you get back from Fitness First for this? 1.94%. That's it and that is a ridiculous promotional gift. That is a major rip-off of members good-will, really! It takes time to get two people to join - and than only gets a return of such meagre value? May be that is how they value their customers, considering that there are so many complaints in the blogger sphere.


Pictures from Putrajaya

No, not really. But some that show the "daunting character" of Putrajaya. My opinion. There are others, of course. My wife thinks Putrajaya is beautiful - and the majority of the bloggers commented said so - while I think it is partially scary, daunting, mesmerising.

The buildings and the whole style make me feel insignificant, are buildings of power that project power. My impression. What is yours?

Streets in Putrajaya are still pretty empty

Massive buildings. This is the one that houses immigration

Empty aisles in the buildings

Friday, December 10, 2004

Success at immigration - and the difference between a spousepass and a work permit

I did my last round to immigration yesterday - and again, we - my wife and I - lost our way. This time actually on the highway leading to the administrative center in Putrajaya. We wanted to be smart and that is often a mistake.

The signboard on the highway showed that to go to Section 2, where the immigration is, we would have to go straight. However, the road was blocked, so in order to go to immigration, you currently have to go up the flyover, turn right on the traffic light and than, sooner or later, you will reach the department.

Now, since we were smart, we thought we go up to the highway but instead of turning right, we went straigth - the road that is closed due to construction, but it looked okay to us. Only that it didn't lead us anywhere. After about 5 kilometers, we decided to turn back - it took us another 2 kilometers to find a U-Turn opportunity and to head straight back.

However, on the way back to that said flyover, we made another mistake and turned left too early. The road we travelled on was amazing. What we saw from the distance looked like a beautiful slope that leads along a hill. But as closer we came, as more did we realise that this road - a highway under construction - didn't lead us anywhere - was in fact a deadend. The hill that we saw was straight across the highway. I wonder how it is at night. If you are unfortunate (and as smart as we were), you travel too fast and hit the hill, straight away.

Well, in the end, we found our department. We started to greet to the various officers, that were there during our first trips, but apparently, it is not allowed to wave back in a sign of recognition. Or to smile, for that matter. I got my passport, and was out of immigration in less than 30 minutes. What was a speed record and I was happy.

Since I have a spousepass, I have to renew the permit in May next year. What that means is that the whole renewal process starts again in February.

My questions:
Now - a work permit is valid for two years, while a spouse pass is valid for one year. Why? As a so-called expatriate, you are suppose to transfer the knowledge of what you do to a Malaysian. This is estimated to take 2 years. If you want a renewal of a work permit, you need to show that your job scope widened.

How is that with a spouse pass? Why is it only valid for one year? Is it that as a foreign husband or wife, the knowledge that you carry can be transmitted in one year? What about the upgrade? Valid questions, right?


Hit by a prayers mat

At 1.15 PMI was in the car with my colleagues and we drove along Jalan Maroof, coming back from lunch.

Traffic was heavy around the Bangsar mosque area, the usual double lane parking, and the dense after-lunch-hour traffic.

There was this elderly guy, waving his prayers mat, indicating that he wants to cross the road to attend to the prayers. We couldn’t stop, so suddenly, since there were cars behind us. We didn't even realise what he was up to - trying to cross the road to run to the mosque. What did he do? He took the mat, and slammed it on the side of the car.

Nothing happened, of course, just a pretty loud thud. But what impression did he give us? If something would have happened – we stop and some other car crashes into us, it would have been us who are at fault, and he would have disappeared. And, being a religious man, one should be on time, and not do some violent act, as minor as this was. There were four of us in the car. The Mat Salleh (yours truly), two Chinese and one Malay).

We understood, after we realized that he wanted to go to the prayers. But what if the car behind us didn’t understand? I just don’t know what goes on in people’s head, sometimes.


My accent and HP shop in Megamall

I went to the HP shop in Megamall’s IT City yesterday. First, to check for the PS2 that I plan to get for my kid for Christmas, but also, I started to browse around for a new IPaq. I want one that allows me to write a blog entry anywhere I am. I am not sure if I want to buy one now, but checking is always good.

While I was standing outside the HP shop called Micro House, the sales guy came out from the inside to check out what I want. As usual, I responded that I am just browsing, but than remembered the discussion in Malaysia a couple of weeks back about a possible tax that will be imposed on PDAs.

So I asked the guy in my typical German accent if VAT has already been imposed. He looked at me, looking somewhat startled and said: “No Sir, not yet, but I am also waiting for it to come.”
I thought, that doesn’t make much sense – a sales guy waiting for a tax?

I realized, he thought I was talking about a new PDA model. But how sincere is that? He just responded as if he knew what I was talking about - if he doesn't understand what I am saying he could ask. A lot of people do that, you know. My trust in him dropped by 10 points.

So I said “No, I am not talking about a new model. There was the discussion in Malaysia to impose this tax, this VAT on PDAs. My question is, has it already been introduced or not?”

He said “no, not yet, but HP has already been informed that they have to include the tax into the prices by January. Now, we are selling all that is there with the prices before the VAT.”

His first response caused my trust in him to skydive but than, may be he really tried to make sense of what I was saying. Or was he trying to pull off a sales from me?


Thanks to the guys and gals behind Petalingstreet

Thank you to the guys and girls behind Petalingstreet!!

I think they deserve a huge Thank You. They make it possible that we can ping our postings, and that traffic rises at our weblogs.

Through their work, I am able to connect to other bloggers in Malaysia, and I am able to get to know other blogs as well. Over the last couple of weeks and months, I had a lot of fun and met great people through them. And I think I am not the only one who feels this way!

And now, that Petalingstreet was down for a while, I realized that those guys and girls worked a lot in the background to make it happen – to correct whatever happened.
So yeah – you deserve a big, big Thanks!!

You really WoW our life!

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Santa Claus and the PlayStation

The other day, I wrote about my kid's belief in Santa Claus and that he wrote a long wishlist. Well, last weekend, one of his buddies from school visited him and he brought his PlayStation, fo that they could play it in our apartment.

Now, my kid is all excited - he added PlayStation to the list. He always wanted it, but this since he goes to school and all his friends have one station, he is now more kee than ever to buy one. Since I like to play as well and since I see this as a good way to connect to my kid some more, I think I am going out tonight and buy one.

I don't have too much time to travel around and check out every place possible so my question is actually, if any Blogger in Kuala Lumpur knows and recommends a shop with trustworthy and enthusiastic employees that sells PlayStations and where I could get some more insights into the How-To's ? Any comment is welcome.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Top 24 of 2004 from AlwaysWoW

Jon made me aware of this entry at A Penny For and I think it is a fantastic way of looking back. So, here is my compilation of my Top 24 blog entries that I like.

Feel free to prepare your own Top 24 and send it to Todd at Send the entry link at "".

1.) Ready for the next round: AlwaysWoW! against Immigration

2.) Peanuts and television ads

3.) The Greatest Race on Earth and what has it got to do with banks

4.) Bankrupting my kid

5.) Words can make a difference

6.) Help me, I am in the wrong segment

7.) Advertising in a sardine tin

8.) Marketing lessons from Cha-Cha Clown

9.) Are Blogger artists or: Life is about Interactivity

10.) Before applying, check out the blogs

11.) Speaking assignments and stagefright

12.) Famous and going to be rich

13.) Birthday parties

14.) Learning Bahasa Melayu - a long and rambling blog entry

15.) Bonding with my kid

16.) Customer Centric versus Company-Centric or Outside-In versus Inside-Out

17.) Spam - Or, we live in reverse mode

18.) Networking, rollodex and having fun

19.) Your personal Annual Report - Your Resume

20.) Online registrations, online surveys - I am pissed off

21.) Spiderman - Its hard to be a hero

22.) Management lessons from Euro 2004 - Part 7

23.) Mobile phones – I am with you but I am not really there

24.) Closing a sale


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