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, July 31, 2003

Fitness First Gym Center - A follow up story

I have to follow up on my recent experience with my gym center. As mentioned, several of my colleagues joined in their recent promotion, and because our firm supports the membership financially as a means for a healthy lifestyle. Since the newly joined enjoy a slightly lower monthly membership fee than I do, I thought I would like to try to change mine as well. Not because I want to save money, (although there wasn't a lot to be saved, but however, why not gaining from small savings?) I actually wanted to test the gym center’s real customer orientation and flexibility. The story goes as follows. Since I wanted to change the credit card from where they deduct my monthly charges, I thought I would start with this. Then the customer service officer appeared with whom I had have the earlier conversation and who "failed" to send me the material. She was very friendly, actually, was it earlier as well. And she asked me why none of my friends would have signed up. I replied, they did, to which she responded, but not with her - of course she was ''hurt", since her commission was at stake. She looked a bit, a tiny little bit offended, when I mentioned, that 4 or 5 signed up already, and that I passed her telephone number on, but that she could have send me the promotional list, as promised. She replied that she did send it, but it bounced back and that she didn’t want to resend a mail that had an undeliverable in the address bar (????), something that I don’t really understand. Nevermind, I asked her, why she didn’t call – well, she said she wasn’t sure if she could – why not? Makes me wonder, but if she didn’t call, because she was polite and didn’t want to impose, that is okay – these were my thoughts. So I said, well, I was in the gym center since the last conversation and even waved at her and smiled – why didn’t she react to this. Her reply was that she was too busy. I honestly believe that she might be a nice girl, but would she actually deserve the commission? Next test was to ask if I could change my package. I could, but first I also had to “reject” the idea that I would have to pay an administration fee of RM 45. I said that this would kill all the advantage that I got due to the change. She quickly checked with her boss, and since her boss knew me it was ok. But – the boss is also one of the persons that I could write about. In the beginning of my membership term, we had great conversations, which fall silent after a while! Hm – comments, as usual to

Saturday, July 26, 2003

My Gym Center - Fitness First

A longer story about my gym center – and something that I meant to write for a long time. I joined the gym center back in Sept. 2001, which means, I am active since nearly 2 years (wow). The center is expanding rapidly throughout Malaysia. Starting with two outlets in Kuala Lumpur back in 2001, they now have, I think, 3 or 4 in Kuala Lumpur, one in Subang Jaya – a city close to Kuala Lumpur - and now, expansion started in Penang, which is a State further up the North.

The trainers and personnel are nice. Young, dynamic, and some of them are full of passion when they conduct their aerobic classes. However, they are not too friendly, all the time, or trained to delight their customers. Meaning, if you get to know them, they are friendly, but it happens that they walk passed me without even a nod. And they do know me, what I find out from casual conversations with them – after I start to talk to them. Which actually is bad. I mean, okay, I don’t have a personal trainer, which is a value add provided by the gym, for additional payments. Still!

My company now supports employees that would like to join the center. I was asked by our HR person to inquire about promotions etc. The customer service attendant was first astonished that I would ask, since she knows that I am a member already. She understood after I explained the reason for my inquiry about promotions. She than scribbled a list and said, she would e-mail me something to my account. We even joked about my comment that I would now be inundated by their offers. I am actually still waiting for the material – since two weeks now. And since I inquired, I went a couple of times to work out already. Does anyone believe that she actually walks past me and looks to the other direction? I look at her, to say hello. And I, honestly, don’t believe, I am that bad, or scary looking :):). Makes you think, right? People from my office now signed up already. While signing up, they were not even told about the promotion! As the customer service attendants are probably earn a commission, and of course, the promotion makes any package cheaper compared to a normal sign-up. That is bad!! Comments as usual to

Monday, July 21, 2003

So many disappointing events

I come to realise that I describe more disappointing experiences than positive ones. But the situation is like this. I breathe experiences, and constantly observe. I don’t wear a black hat, as Edward de Bono would say, to just collect negative ones. No, on the contrary – I am always looking forward to experience great customer service. But it is the small things that keep creeping up, and that show how people are treated.
Yesterday, I went to Tesco in Damansara. Actually, my family and I planned to look for houses or apartments in the area, but since Tesco was around and we were hungry, we stopped by, to eat. My kid wanted a small trolley so that he could push it and help. My wife saw the manager and asked where she could find one. He helped, and asked someone else, immediately. This someone else passed the request on to a salesgirl that walked by. She took off to look for such a small trolley. The other two guys also disappeared, telling us, to wait, since the girl would come back. My wife took off as well, since she didn’t believe that the girl would return – how true. I would still wait for the trolley, I believe. Sad, isn’t it?
But hey, there is a positive one – the firm I am working with, organises a regional study, which involves a lot of involvement from participating companies. We then follow-up by presenting the individual results to the companies’ senior management team. Well, the CEO of one the companies followed up with a very nice letter, thanking and saying, that he would like to meet up to establish some mutually beneficial relation. I replied by e-mail – okay, a letter would have been better – thanking him as well, and proposed to meet towards the end of this week. He might be a busy person, to reply to this e-mail, so I will follow up with another e-mail this Wednesday.

Friday, July 18, 2003

They came back

Okay, the school I just talked about, came back with an apology. They said that usually, kids would receive a letter for the parents about 2 weeks before an event - problem is, my kid is enrolled and not yet attending to the school. - and that the e-mail in discussion was meant as a reminder They also stated that they had problems with the server connection and were only able after numerous attempts to send the mail. Lastly they stated that a further delay could have been caused due to the recipient's mail server, where their mail might have got stuck.

Anyway, I proposed to them to e-mail earlier in conjunction with a letter so that parents, whose kids are not yet attending to the school would also get notified.

It was nice of them to come back - also, I have to say, a bit too late - three days is a long time to increase the discomfort of anyone disgruntled. How many rumours could have been spread until the apology has reached me? And, hey, we live in the electronic age. At least an early notification would have been great together with a message that they look into the details! Anyway - Thank you very much in the first place!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Some Great Experiences

... and some not so good ones.

Some great and some less great experiences happened yesterday. I am subscribing to some internet newsletters written by Tracy - a motivational management guru who supports personal, financial, entrepreneurial, management, and time management improvements. I think I receive about one or two newsletters each per week. They are good, the guy is good. Interesting, with action examples and some have actually inspired me – something that doesn’t happen too much with many offerings from the web. He is also a famous author, has published lots and lots of books. I would believe a lot of people are aware of him. Now, he sent a couple of mails yesterday and some were repetitive. He than followed up with an apologetic mail, saying that because of a mistake in his system, mails have been shot off to subscribers repeatedly. To make up, he offered a document for free that normally would cost something – a lot. And he stated that it is free but that soon, it would cost something. All alright, in the light of customer delight. Something that is not found all the time, and is probably still lacking in places not that advanced in customer orientation – think Malaysia. But what was disturbing was that the offer also let to a webpage, where another motivational guru was pushing his products. My opinion? If you want to apologise, do so sincerely, as the experience was diluted through the follow-up cross-selling push.

I am drinking some Malaysian tea, called Teh Tarik, nearly every afternoon, at around 4.00 PM from a hawker stall that is located down the lane at our office. It helps me to clear my thoughts, get some new inspirations, and new energy for the remainder of the day. And it is nice to observe people going about their business – watching the hawkers working. The Teh Tarik Stall - is ran by three brothers – but only two of them are constantly around. The third one, who is not always around, is specially customer oriented.

Yesterday, their business was booming. All the tables were packed, and it didn’t look as if any of the customers would leave soon. Additionally there were the four of us. However, at one table, there were two guys enjoying their tea, with one table standing right next to them, which was vacant. The owner-guy took this empty table and moved it away and organised the chairs for us. Some of us were a bit doubtful about the location – it was right next to a construction site with a crane hovering over us and we didn’t want to sit too close to it – an accident is always possible. So instead of grumbling, what many would have done, he grabbed the table, and took it across the road, to the other tables, and moved it to a location further away. Next, he organised additional chairs for us so that all of us could sit. An earlier situation underlines his passion for customers. I normally take a donut with my tea. But when the American Donuts ones ran out one day, he gave us the Malaysian – just like that and said, we should try those. Okay, we had to pay for it when the guy was gone and his brother billed us, but okay. His brothers are also good, by the way. Frequently, we just sit down, and our tea comes automatically, and always with less sugar than the normal, sweet one – anybody needs good management?


Another let down came from the school our kid is enrolled in – he is starting primary school next year. The school is a so-called Smart School – according to the new concept of the government a school that supports a high-tech attitude and creativity from the pupils. Young kids get to know the computer with several computer lessons over the week, cafeteria purchases are made with a microchip – so no cash payments, and my kid would sign in in the morning and out in the afternoon, when he leaves school - and I would receive an e-mail when he arrives or leaves. Great concept. BT – and there is very often a but to a good concept. They had a seminar for parents last Friday, July 12, from 10.00-12.00 AM – I received the related e-mail on Monday, July 15, and realised that the invitation was send off on Friday, at 12.45 PM – thus 45 minutes after the seminar ended. I sent an inquiry, and ask, how this could happen – and still no response, two days later. Makes me think!!

Sunday, July 13, 2003

About Benchmarking

All over the place, one can read about benchmarking. Benchmarking basically means that a corporation (or even an individual) would compare a practice deemed valuable and successful elsewhere and tries to implement those in his/ her own corporation or business department. This reaches across sectors or industries. For example, a GE in the US might see practice in a Walmart that it wants to emulate. The basic driver behind this is the urge to become better in this specific segment. This is fine. As long as there are certain situations taken into account for which make a company unique:
• Namely the culture in which the company operates – how to compare a US corporation with one, that operates in Indonesia, or Vietnam?
• The strategy of the company – is the one company it is comparing itself with, actually serving the same segment in its own market? A telecommunications operator in China would like to compare itself with one in Germany – same segment? Males, females? Strata? And so on
• The internal culture of a company – a bit more a tricky question. But may be the history of a company and how it earlier approached change situations, should be considered. It cannot be expected that a company that traditionally was more conservative in its market approaches suddenly revamps itself and becomes a high risk company that ventures into a new market with great entrepreneurial strikes

The conclusion is thus that benchmarking is more difficult to approach. It is not enough to take some ratios – value added by employee or operating expenses to sales revenue and says that my company should get to the same level as this company just because their ratio looks better. Clearly, more research would be needed.

But benchmarking is useful, if one looks at individual processes – such as how one company is identifying high performing talents, organising its successor issues, partially even compensation – but, to repeat, it is important to keep a company unique and consider its background, future, market approaches and many other issues.

Any comments with regard to this? Please send them to

Friday, July 11, 2003

Chief Fun Officer

I found an article that I think it describes something great (Business Today, July 6, 2003: Geeks And Their Funny Bone tech Companies Are Going Out Of Their Way To Make Working Fun.. An Indian company called NIIT appointed some 51year old person named Thadani to become a CFO - not Chief Financial Officer, but Chief Fun Officer. His mission is, and I quote: "To bring the smile, rather the guffaws, back into the workplace." He says that "There's a new intruder who has crept into our lives. It is causing terror in NIIT. As the CFO, I declare a prolonged war against that intruder-seriousness." He hired an "army of officers" and the theme of the year is 366 days of fun. NIIT is a company busy in e-commerce and as all the others, suffering under the stigma of reduced profits and so on. But this is not the reason for the person to be engaged. The main reason is to reduce the turnover amongst the workforce in India which is actually a booming country - average turnover rate is high at 13-14%, apparently. And the job of Mr. or Mrs. Thadani would be to lower the rate in his or her company but I don't know the level of attrition here.

There are more examples in the article, so please e-mail me to, if someone wants to have the details.
My big questionmark is only, if to "command" fun is the right way to go? I mean, can you say - okay, now le't be funny, or, let's have fun, but please, not too long - like that? Shouldn't one hire people with the right attitude from the very first beginning - some, who are able to bring fun to the workplace and make the place a WoW? Isn't it a cultural issue? People leave, because they don't like something in the company - it is not just the perks they receive. And to command them fun won't make them stay longer. True? But still, it is a beginning


Chief Fun Officer

I found an article that I think it describes something great (Business Today, July 6, 2003: Geeks And Their Funny Bone tech Companies Are Going Out Of Their Way To Make Working Fun.. An Indian company called NIIT appointed some 51year old person named Thadani to become a CFO – not Chief Financial Officer, but Chief Fun Officer. Hi smission and I quote: “To bring the smile, rather the guffaws, back into the workplace.” He says that "There's a new intruder who has crept into our lives. It is causing terror in NIIT. As the CFO, I declare a prolonged war against that intruder-seriousness." He hired an “army of officers” and the “theme of the year is 366 days of fun”. NIIT is a company busy in e-commerce and as all the others, suffering under the stigma of reduced profits and so on. But this is not the reason for the person to be engaged. The main reason is to reduce the turnover amongst workforce – in India – which is actually a booming country – average turnover rate is high at 13-14%, apparently. And the job of Mr. or Mrs. Thadani would be to lower the rate in his or her company – but I don’t know the level of attrition here.

There are more examples here, so please e-mail me to, if someone wants to have the details.

Thursday, July 03, 2003

My Profile

Haven't been here for a while, and feel quite bad about it. May be there is really someone who is checking my blogger out and there are no updates. Not a wow for anyone.

Anyway, a lot happened over the last 3 weeks, but I won't write about everything now. What I want to post is my profile, hehe. Yeah, I did a profile analysis with Strengthfinder, developed by Gallup. While I don't fully agree with their theses that it is better to develop your strength and somewhat ignor your weaknesses - as you would just waste your energy - the profile results were quite accurate.

Here they come and that is me - please be aware that my comments to the descriptors are in italic:

You are inquisitive. You collect things. You might collect information-words, facts, books, and quotations-or you might collect tangible objects such as butterflies, baseball cards, porcelain dolls, or sepia photographs. Whatever you collect, you collect it because it interests you. And yours is the kind of mind that finds so many things interesting. The world is exciting precisely because of its infinite variety and complexity. If you read a great deal, it is not necessarily to refine your theories but, rather, to add more information to your archives. If you like to travel, it is because each new location offers novel artifacts and facts. These can be acquired and then stored away. Why are they worth storing? At the time of storing it is often hard to say exactly when or why you might need them, but who knows when they might become useful? With all those possible uses in mind, you really don't feel comfortable throwing anything away. So you keep acquiring and compiling and filing stuff away. It's interesting. It keeps your mind fresh. And perhaps one day some of it will prove valuable. (True true true - bookstores just love me, hehe. So nice to feel a new book, open it a first time, flip through it and inhale the thoughts and knowledge).

You like to think. You like mental activity. You like exercising the "muscles" of your brain, stretching them in multiple directions. This need for mental activity may be focused; for example, you may be trying to solve a problem or develop an idea or understand another person's feelings. The exact focus will depend on your other strengths. On the other hand, this mental activity may very well lack focus. The theme of Intellection does not dictate what you are thinking about; it simply describes that you like to think. You are the kind of person who enjoys your time alone because it is your time for musing and reflection. You are introspective. In a sense you are your own best companion, as you pose yourself questions and try out answers on yourself to see how they sound. This introspection may lead you to a slight sense of discontent as you compare what you are actually doing with all the thoughts and ideas that your mind conceives. Or this introspection may tend toward more pragmatic matters such as the events of the day or a conversation that you plan to have later. Wherever it leads you, this mental hum is one of the constants of your life. (Yeah - thinking out of the box, recognising and formulating patterns, smattering ideas around, challenging my own thoughts - just great)

Woo stands for winning others over. You enjoy the challenge of meeting new people and getting them to like you. Strangers are rarely intimidating to you. On the contrary, strangers can be energizing. You are drawn to them. You want to learn their names, ask them questions, and find some area of common interest so that you can strike up a conversation and build rapport. Some people shy away from starting up conversations because they worry about running out of things to say. You don't. Not only are you rarely at a loss for words; you actually enjoy initiating with strangers because you derive satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection. Once that connection is made, you are quite happy to wrap it up and move on. There are new people to meet, new rooms to work, new crowds to mingle in. In your world there are no strangers, only friends you haven't met yet-lots of them. (yes - great to meet new people. Especially the passionate once. Or to get a Wow out of those that are not passionate. Yeah - and that is why I try to reframe my own department - not often enough out on the road)

You like to explain, to describe, to host, to speak in public, and to write. This is your Communication theme at work. Ideas are a dry beginning. Events are static. You feel a need to bring them to life, to energize them, to make them exciting and vivid. And so you turn events into stories and practice telling them. You take the dry idea and enliven it with images and examples and metaphors. You believe that most people have a very short attention span. They are bombarded by information, but very little of it survives. You want your information-whether an idea, an event, a product's features and benefits, a discovery, or a lesson-to survive. You want to divert their attention toward you and then capture it, lock it in. This is what drives your hunt for the perfect phrase. This is what draws you toward dramatic words and powerful word combinations. This is why people like to listen to you. Your word pictures pique their interest, sharpen their world, and inspire them to act. (Sometimes not only explain, but lecture. Carried away by my own thoughts. Exciting others. Building ideas and burning the handicaps away - I get somehow lost in my own thoughts sometimes. Too much on my mind and everything wants to get out at once. Too much passion and excitement. But then, I am getting better at it - motto: think first before you speak - which I do about once or twice a year, hehe)

You want to be very significant in the eyes of other people. In the truest sense of the word you want to be recognized. You want to be heard. You want to stand out. You want to be known. In particular, you want to be known and appreciated for the unique strengths you bring. You feel a need to be admired as credible, professional, and successful. Likewise, you want to associate with others who are credible, professional, and successful. And if they aren't, you will push them to achieve until they are. Or you will move on. An independent spirit, you want your work to be a way of life rather than a job, and in that work you want to be given free rein, the leeway to do things your way. Your yearnings feel intense to you, and you honor those yearnings. And so your life is filled with goals, achievements, or qualifications that you crave. Whatever your focus-and each person is distinct-your Significance theme will keep pulling you upward, away from the mediocre toward the exceptional. It is the theme that keeps you reaching. (Again, another strong yes. And to excite others. Constantly. Build the future. It also forces me to constantly reinvent who I am and what I do. As such, not bad. And it makes me try to stay relevant in the eyes of others. Important? I think so!!)


Powered by Blogger

Blogarama - The Blog Directory