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.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Taxis offer you to pay via MasterCard

I think that this is great. Singaporean taxis offer that you pay via MasterCard. A reasonable alliance. A Win-Win situation for all. For the customer, for the taxi driver and for MasterCard. A good marketing effort, and not in your face.

Imagine we would have something like this in Malaysia. Chances are the taxi drivers would complain about the time they need to process the card and to do general administration related to it.

But then, the whole attitude of Singaporean taxi driver’s contrasts that of Malaysian taxi drivers. Sure, they are penalised heavily if one customer complaints about them. Once a complainant calls, he or she is asked if he or she would want to just pursue a monetary penalty or go for the more severe penalty of banning the taxi driver from his or her job for a period of time or forever - at least that was so back in early 2000.

But I don't think it was changed. As much as I am opposed to such sever penalties - the guys want to make a living, and well, they want to be treated like adults as well - it is amazing how friendly most of them are.

In fact, it’s been a long time since I heard of an unfriendly taxi driver in Singapore. When was the last time, someone had a friendly taxi driver in Malaysia?


Studying forbidden

I saw this picture at the outside window of Singapore's Changi Airport yesterday. It is a sign showing all the activities that are forbidden in the airport.

The upper right picture says "No Studying". No studying? Hey - I am working on my computer - is this studying? Can I only play Solitaire?

Or what if I am reading the newspaper or a magazine - Cannot, lah? Forbidden in here, go out?

I understand the intention - they want to avoid crowds of students coming in and study in, may be a restaurant - but why not? Is a group of busily studying students destroying a perception of Singapore - like, "hey, sorry, our students study, where they are not suppose to study?"

Excuse me? Isn't it better to study at an airport than to be a tout? Or to just hang out? (which is probably punished anyway). I just don't understand rules sometimes!



Ever so often, I get a call from a telemarketer. Today I got two. One in the morning from a hotel and one in the evening from an investment adviser.

Both were friendly - asking me nicely, how I was doing today and in my friendliest voice I said, I am doing fine. But for sure, they are not interested at all in my well being, or only until I would agree to something they want to sell.

I don't always know where they get my telephone number from and the one from the hotel has my handphone number.

The guy in the evening had a strategy to sell something to me - he first told me where he got my number from. From another investment adviser that I talked to last year or so. So he established a reference. Than he told me about this great company that is going to be publicly listed in Sweden, and unfortunately, a larger investment banker has already bought a lot of shares, so there wouldn't be any chance to get into it anymore. Indeed, the other investment adviser got the deal, but if I would be lucky, the big investment adviser would miss a deadline and that would gave me the window of opportunity to move in.

After all this, he ask me if this was a convenient time to talk - which I denied - I believe it is good to talk to people and I am friendly, so I told him that. He kept asking, if I would be interested to know talk some more another time, so he could learn more about my investment behaviour. I first said, no that I wouldn't like, since I don't know him - bad move, since he moved in saying that is why he would like to talk to me so that we would get to know each other better. After which I said thank you, but I am not really interested in talking about investment in the near or medium term future. I could feel that he was getting very angry - may be frustrated (it is a frustrating job), and hardly managed to put down the phone - or basically slammed down the phone. Faster than I could say Good Bye (what I would have).

What went wrong? Well, this is direct marketing. You get a name, any name from anywhere, friends, internet, former or current business acquaintances, and call them. Direct Marketers are not interested in you or your well being - they are only interested in you until you have stated that you are not interested. Most of the time, one can hear the echo of the curse they shout after you, when they put down the phone. The business acquaintance that gave him my number is out of any consideration from me - and I will send a nasty e-mail that I don't accept if they pass on my details.

Just to make it clear - I am interested to talk to people. I know they do their business. But this is not customer relationship management or building up a relationship. This is annoying and in my face. This is a cramp in my stomach and a frozen smile on my lips. This is when the telephone receiver is pinned under my chin, and continue to work, until I realise that I am expected to say something.

The investment adviser that gave the marketer my number had a good strategy in the early stages - or better, his marketer. He asked how I was, and when I said I have no time, he asked me if he could call me back. Very friendly, even when I told him that I am not interested. He said, nevermind, but may be my situation would change 6 months down the road and if I would mind if he would call again. I said no, he could do that. Punctually six months later, he would call. He would ask, if I would remember him, and yes, after a while, I remembered him. He was friendly whey I told him that nothing would have changed in my situation. He would call again, at an agreed next schedule. One day he convinced me and I saw the investment adviser (the one that passed my name on). We had a great first and second talk, and I actually considered him. But, when I wanted to meet him, and by chance it was a holiday, he couldn't make it - and I never heard from him again - only receive some strange mails advertising great investment opportunities. That is when I knew that he was no better than others - he lost his edge. And now he is gone from my radar screen as well, since he passed my name on. Sorry! I will post him this link, later.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Happy Birthday

I don't know what I am actually doing here, in front of the computer, blogging away (addicted?). It's my kid's birthday - he turns seven today.

He was born seven years ago, at 15.23, in a hospital in Kuala Lumpur. At that time, my wife and I lived in Jakarta and she flew to Malaysia earlier. As far as we knew, she had to deliver in Malaysia if our child was to get Malaysian citizenship. I came a couple of weeks after her, and worked in the Malaysian subsidiary on my projects in Jakarta.

The day my child was born, I was also working and actually had a lunch appointment with my boss. I could plan it that way, since he was not expected that day. Now, at around 1145 or so, I received a call from my wife, that she would go to the hospital since her water broke, and that I could come any time. In typical male fashion to such news, I reacted confused. Thinking about my lunch appointment, I went to my other colleague in the next room, and told him, that the water had broken, and what he would do in my case - he was an expert, since he was the father of three kids at that time. He thought I talked about work, and responded, that he wouldn't know the project, so if I could explain it to him in more detail - that he stopped, looked at me and said - "what? Your wife is going to deliver today and you are still here? You should go go go!". In the same moment, my boss came - also married with kids. He heard the story and said, not to worry, you need a beer, let's go for lunch. so I trotted with him and another colleague. He told the waiter to hurry up, since my wife would deliver soon. I was just sitting there, eating my lunch, drinking my beer, and looked a bit dazed. Than my boss said, that now I am strong enough and should go quickly - but hey, as bad as this sounds, he meant well. So I went of to the hospital - and came on time. My wife was there and I saw her off to the delivery room.

Than I sat in the waiting room - I was not allowed in - my wife underwent Caesarean. I sat there, staring at magazines (why do they have magazines in the waiting room of the delivery section??). I picked one magazine, but didn't understand a thing. I thought - uh oh, I am not ready. We tried to get ready for the child together. I thought that this is the reason why pregnancy takes nine months. To get yourself ready psychologically for the change. Nonsense - you are never ready before it.

Than I heard the crying of my baby, and I sat down - sank down. That's it, I thought - here it comes. I wasn't alone anymore, since my sis in law was there as well. But I don't know anymore what she did, said or so. Than I saw my child, and my wife. My wife was knocked out from the anesthetics. The nurses gave me my kid. He wasn't bigger than from my fingertips to my ellow. I looked at him and at that moment I knew what love is. What real love is - from father or parent to someone you really care about. I just thought, my goodness, this is my kid - I love him. I will never ever allow something to happen to him. It was the greatest feeling that I ever had, and right now, writing this, I feel a deep sense of it in me.

We went through a lot after all of that, my family and I. The riots in Indonesia, and how we flew out from the embassy. The time in Singapore in 1998 and 1999, when I went swimming with him everyday. When he walked through the baby pool, first with his hands up, and I am holding his balance by holding his hands. Later, when he walked along, and I was two or three feet behind him, and he fall in the baby pool and how shocked I was to see him under water, raced to get him out. When he took his first steps alone - my wife and I sitting opposite on the floor, I am holding him, let go, and say, come on, go to Mama. He does. She does the same and me again. He loses his way to her - its not easy to go straight the first time you walk - and turns left instead. We struggle from our position to run after him before he runs into the wall - stopping is also not that easy.

The first time I scolded him for doing something and he didn't take me serious. I wiggled my finger and tried to do an angry face. He just did the face back and wiggled his finger - how can you be angry.

He didn't want to fall asleep alone or outside the pram. So I am pushing the pram up and down and up and down and up and down. Are not allowed to stop, or to carry him to bed, before he is deeply asleep. Or, even earlier, when he could only fall asleep on my shoulder. No where else. And me walking up and down. One day, deep in the night he woke up, and couldn't sleep anymore. So off I go, at three in the morning - up and down and up and down. tapping his back, sh sh sh. Stopping, looking - does he sleep - nope, he looks back at me. And up and down and up and down.

I am having a diary with all those little stories. Not much and not always consistent. It gets more difficult to write, when one kid grows.

Now he is seven years old - goes to primary school, learns multiplication, falls in love with a lot of girls already. The first time that happened was in kindergarten. It is fun to learn with him, to bond with him. I read somewhere that we adults smile way lesser than kids, and yeah, it is true. But it is great for me to "go back" to being a child. Racing after the ball with him. Playing waterpistol. Doing funny faces. Simply being a child again. Imagining how it is when there are adults looking at him, from top down.

So I go on my knees, often, when I talk to him - face to face. Or I imagine how it is on the escalator, when you are so small - all those big backsides pointing to you - how do kids feel than? Explaining good and bad to him, when it is difficult to distinguish between good and bad today.

Instead of teaching him how to walk or swim, teaching him to value people, plants and trees and animals. But how to explain that ants on the ground are important but that those living in your household "deserve to be flushed away" with water? How to explain that driving fast is not good and that emergency lanes are for the ambulance when there are many cars driving by on the emergency lane? How to teach respect for a lot of things that don't make sense anymore? How to teach him to be quiet when the teacher talks, when I believe it is okay to speak up when you have an opinion?

How to teach him that its not okay to always have what others have, when all his friends get to have it?

Today is his first big BIG birthday party - starting at three in MegaKidz in Megamall. He is looking forward to it since about 3 weeks or even planned it longer - before my wife and I knew. Its his first big one - before, we always kept it smaller, amongst the family. Now, with all his friends having parties, he also wanted to have one and that is okay. Over the planning period, the number of invited kids exploded. He is having the party with his cousin, who had birthday last weekend. So we already relocated from Bangsar to Megamall. Instead of 30-40 kids, we expect around 60.

My wife is going to the seminar, but my In-Laws came and my sis in law will also help. I will have fun, we will have fun, I promise you. And I will look forward to more happenings with my kid.

So this is a long entry. I should be going - and I will be. Will report back soonest!


Remember Manny? Manny gets to say thank her rescuer

Remember the girl that was so critically injured in the recent bombing by terrorists in Jakarta in the beginning of this month? Her name is Elizabeth "Manny" Musu and she was flown to Australia for treatment.

She is now awake again, on the path to improvement - has regained some movement in her right side, after doctors had originally believed that she would be paralysed, and started to ask for food - such as McDonald. I hope she gets better every day!

Yesterday, she had the chance to meet the guy, Ahmad Usman, who carried her out from the rubble after the blast.

There are still some good developments in the word!


On leave

I took Thursday and Friday off, hoping that I could do a lot of things offline and online that I postponed for a longer time. It didn't happen in the sense that I planned it.

I still had to work - had to prepare for yet another conference and the paper for this conference has to be submitted next week. I was a bit complacent here - I knew I had all the material that I needed on my computer, and thought, it would just take me some hours to complete the presentation. Well, it took me 2 1/2 days. That's okay, since I like to work at home. I can drag my laptop wherever I want to work and a change of location is sometimes needed to boost my brain capacity - you should ask my colleagues how often I walk around in the office - it helps me to get new ideas. Lucky, I don't need to stand on my head to get inspiration and make funny sounds. And while I worked at home, I could chat with my blogger friend from Also good since at work, my Yahoo messenger doesn't work. So well, yeah, there were a lot of delays - in between, I had an afternoon nap.

I also drove my kid to school - alone. I always drive him to school, but normally, when I go to work, my wife is with us in the car and she takes over the car, once she drops me of at my workplace. So this time, we were alone in the car. We studied multiplication together. Times Two and Times Three. He really got it. We had great fun doing it together, and he now understands it - it is amazing how fast learning goes when fun is involved. I know I am losing my patience way too often - and than, I am upset, if he just doesn't get it. Like - he figures out that 3 times 3 is 9. Now, next, he struggles to get to 4 times 3 - but gets it after a while as well. Now, since the first - 3 times 3 - was tough, I ask it again - repetition. Wooms - he forgot and starts to think all over again. Now, it is okay, if this goes on like that for one or two times, but if this continues into the fourth or fifth time, I get impatient. Okay - I always tell him, he should just try and that Edison needed a lot of times to get the lightbulb burning as well. But gggrrrr. Now he has it until ten times three and when I ask him, he says - oh so easy - and says the correct answer. Basically, the brain cells are connected. And my wife had some more sleep in the morning - she has the chance to sleep in when I am on leave - basically, it burns down to this. Well, she said it was only 15 minutes more, but than, I already slept 15 minutes longer. So, coming to think of it, my leave helps her to sleep longer. No comment!

I went to the office on Friday evening, to copy some stuff from the server onto my own hard drive - I am of to Singapore on Monday for a meeting, and well, didn't know about the trip on Thursday. So here went another hour.

Yesterdy, my wife and I went to a seminar - and she is there today again. I have to take care of my kid's birthday party, but this is another entry!

I still managed something on Friday what was important, but may be, again, I will post about it another time.

Is there any message in this entry? Nope - only that I am still tired, but nevertheless had a good time. And that's what leave is all about. Not just sleeping and lazying. So plans are good, but it is also okay to let the wind carry you, where it wants to.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Renovating or what?

Hey - I never was good at renovating, building, drawing, anything creative where one uses hands. I am a so-called knowledge worker.

I took a day of from work to renovate our new apartment. What - not even renovate, most of it is done. Just to drill holes for the curtain railings (don't even know how to write this), and fix those. To build in the shower curtain thingy. And to put up some mirrors. All with a drill - a real high tech one. My wife bought it and interestingly, she is really good at renovating or organising - she is able to command a whole battalion of contractors around, if need is - she did already and did this very well. But well, a guy is a guy, and so I fought with the drill, attached some railings, failed to get in holes in the bathroom - as the wall was just so very much stronger that I was.

We called for help from management - and luckily, they send us two young Malay guys for help. Real experienced ones - one look at our drill machine and they told us, that this is one which also has a hammer function. Basically, you can either drill by pressing and pressing and hope the wall gives in and grants you that hole that you so desire - my style. Or, you set the drill on this "hammer function" (I don't even know the right word for it!!) and woooms - go for it, and sorry wall, - no agreement needed, I just get it done without it.

I than managed to get my holes done, the ones I failed earlier. Ha - !! Success. Only that those Malay guys were so incredibly fast in doing a lot of other things. It was like Sesame Open. While I look at drills, compare drills, think about which one to take, try one and realise, that I took the one for wood instead of concrete, change the drill to the next possible one, try again and may be succeed, they just did it.

And my fingers hurt now - can not even type correctly. I am tired and I realised that my life is with Microsoft, and computers, and books and writing. This is called specialisation or stick to your core.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Famous and going to be rich

I am so incredibly famous. My reputation has spread, whatever reputation I had. But something must have happened that increased my credibility incredibly. Something, if only I would know about it. Damn, I could develop it further, and spread the good news. No, than others would get the same benefits. I will better keep the magic to me and reap the fruits of my reputation.

I did it – I will be rich, rich, rich – incredibly rich, and will never ever have to work again.
What happened? It is really unbelievable, but over the past couple of weeks, some oh so nice gentlemen have approached me – from all around the world - they send me mails promising to share their money with me if I can help them a little bit.

Just today alone, I received a mail from a Mr. Lars Jerry – and he is working in Dubai. Yeah, he is right, I am surprised that he comes to me, since I have never heard of him, but he has of me, apparently.

The poor guy is sick - diagnosed with prostate and oesophageal Cancer, well, at least with prostate cancer he has a high chance of survival, so he writes, it was only discovered in the late stages. He talks about US$7.5 million that he has abroad, the last of his money – the rest is already given to charities. If all goes according to his will, I will receive US$1.5 million, when I donate the rest to other charities, but first, we have to get the money out of Dubai – he must have ran out of ideas what charities there are in Dubai - and looks for assistance outside the country.

Than there is Dr. Mabo Dagash – he lives in Zimbabwe, and we all know that life is hard down there. Again, he mentions, that he hasn’t met me. His father has stashed an even larger amount of money in Holland – US$25 million and if I help him, I get 25% of the cash. It must be reputable, since he provides webpage links to CNN and BBC that document his problems - well, the problems in Zimbabwe.

A family in needs also sent me a mail today – and they offer me another business relationship. Good – I first thought they want some money from me – but with all my riches, I might have given them something as well. They offer me a share of only 10% of their US$16 million that they have somewhere in Europe - so stingy. They also come from Zimbabwe – must have been a very rich country, before all these riots took place. Two people running away from the country - I must help them, and it is nice to get some money from them for their help.

Now, I am going down to business – but first, I have to collect the money from the Royal Spanish Sweepstake Lottery. They sent me two mails today that I won in their lotteries so I am “double lucky”. I didn't know I participated, actually. May be my wife did it for me, under my name, and now they come to me.

And if I have the money, I am throwing a party for my boss – after I bought enough shares in his company.

But if I would only know why all this mail goes into my spam box, provided by Yahoo? All of those are serious business proposals, and if I wouldn't have taken care, I would have lost a lot of money - right?

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

What bedvils Malaysia

There is so much garbage everywhere. And people just throw their garbage anywhere, without consideration. So often do I see people just opening their car door or window and out flies the cigarette packages, butts, or more like plastic bottles.

Last Sunday, I saw someone at the fuel station, just throwing his stuff. And I still bite my "backsite" that I didn't go to the driver and said, "Excuse me, I think you just lost something".

Malaysia is so beautiful, still, but boy, this lack of conscious environmental mindset destroys her future. When I talk to some of the younger executives in our office, they see the point, and are angry about it as well. Is it just the older generation, or a lack of education?

Or a lack in the number of garbage bins that are available? I mean, look, even if I want to throw something away at the right place, there is hardly something around where I can put that stuff. I have to keep it. In contrast to Germany, where one finds a garbage bin every 200 meters or so. And people are frowned upon, if they throw something away - I mean, really really frowned upon.

But then, I also saw someone in Malaysia throwing something on the ground between two garbage bins and both were separated by two meters. Or the families who go for a picnic somewhere and just drop their stuff, where ever they are. Before they leave, they have surrounded themselves with garbage - but wouldn't even think to take back their rubbish. Upsetting!!

Another problem - the lack of suitable garbage trucks, or their schedule. I don't know what the schedule is like in Malaysia, but it doesn't seem to be pretty regular or frequent.

One problem is of course the amount of plastic bags and containers for the food. Just look around at lunch time - it is a huge business for those selling the plastic bags. There is no sharing amongst customers coming from the same office. How easy would it be to just put two containers in one plastic bag, if you go with your colleague or friend?

At lunch time, you find red plastic bags, and on the Pasar Malams, there are the black ones. And it piles up and up and up. This, I believe, is not good for the country, and her future.


Jokes in my inbox

I get a lot of spam to the various e-mails addresses that I maintain, and even our corporate account is affected.

Lucky, have friends that send me "spam" that I like - like the joke below that outlines a conversation between a teacher and a kid (inclusive a father). How language can trick us!

TEACHER : Why are you late?
BALGOBIN : Because of the sign.
TEACHER : What sign?
BALGOBIN : The one that says, "School Ahead, Go Slow."

TEACHER : Balgobin, why are you doing your math sums on the
BALGOBIN : You told me to do it without using tables!

TEACHER : Balgobin, how do you spell "crocodile"?
TEACHER : No, that's wrong
BALGOBIN : Maybe it's wrong, but you asked me how I spell it!

TEACHER : What is the chemical formula for water?
TEACHER : What are you talking about?
BALGOBIN : Yesterday you said it's H to O !

TEACHER : Balgobin, go to the map and find North America.
BALGOBIN : Here it is!
TEACHER : Correct. Now, class, who discovered America?
CLASS : Balgobin !

TEACHER : Balgobin, name one important thing we have today that
we didn't have ten years ago.

TEACHER : Balgobin, why do you always get so dirty?
BALGOBIN : Well, I'm a lot closer to the ground than you are.

BALGOBIN : Dad, can you write in the dark?
FATHER : I think so. What do you want me to write?
BALGOBIN : Your name on this report card.

TEACHER : How can you prevent diseases caused by biting insects?
BALGOBIN : Don't bite any.

TEACHER : Balgobin, give me a sentence starting with "I".
BALGOBIN : I is...
TEACHER : No, Balgobin. Always say, "I am."
BALGOBIN : All right... "I am the ninth letter of the alphabet."

TEACHER : "Can anybody give an example of "COINCIDENCE?"
BALGOBIN : "Sir, my Mother and Father got married on the same
day, same time."

TEACHER : "George Washington not only chopped down his father's Cherry
tree, but also admitted doing it. Now do you know why his father didn't punish
BALGOBIN : "Because George still had the axe in his hand?"

BALGOBIN : Daddy, have you ever been to Egypt?
FATHER : No. Why do you ask that?
BALGOBIN : Well, where did you get THIS mummy then?

TEACHER : What a pair of strange socks you are wearing, one is green and
one is blue with red spots !
BALGOBIN : Yes it's really strange. I've got another pair just like that
at home.

TEACHER : Now, children, if I saw a man beating a donkey and stopped
him,what virtue would I be showing?
BALGOBIN : Brotherly love ?

TEACHER : Now, Balgobin, tell me frankly do you say prayers
before eating?
BALGOBIN : No sir, I don't have to, my mom is a good cook.

TEACHER : Balgobin, your composition on "My Dog" is exactly the same as your
brother's. Did you copy his?
BALGOBIN : No, teacher, it's the same dog !

TEACHER : What do you call a person who keeps on talking when people are no
longer interested?
BALGOBIN : A teacher

Monday, September 20, 2004

Birthday parties

I underwent the normal routine of life – birth (naturally), primary school, high school, university and than of we go into working life.

There were heavy parties throughout my life – especially during the end of my high school period and increasingly in university. Long nights, lots of drinks, wild music, and long sleeps into the days. Fantastic and nothing to regret.

This continued even in Malaysia although “the intensity” decreased. The beginning of my time here and after I met my many friends, there were the visits to the Hard Rock Café, and others in that area – yeah, Hard Rock was very much in at that time.

Once my kid was born in 1997 – I was in Indonesia at that time – the intensity was out. No more parties. It is tough to party knowing that your boy isn’t understanding the concept of sleeping in. I remember that one day, on a Sunday shortly after 7.00 AM, he crawled up on our bed, sat on me, opened one of my eyes and leant forward shouting “Papa, wake up. Playyyyyyy”. That was that.

Once he grew older, things changed a bit again. He now understands or got used to me sleeping a bit longer on a Sunday – may be he even gave up – that is the assumption of my wife.
However, recently, things started to change again. He starts to go on parties – and because this is Asia or Malaysia, parents are coming along.

Not so in Germany, at least not when I was young. My mum organised the parties for the "Little Ones" and we played. There weren’t that many invited.

My kid is now planning his own birthday party – he turns seven next Sunday. Invited are all his friends from school, kids from relatives that live in Kuala Lumpur, and other kids, he meets from time to time. A LOT of kids. It isn’t organised in our house, of course – to invite 30 or 40 kids plus parents would just go way beyond my capacity, so we organize it outside – also something that is new to me. I dont mind the parents - it is great to meet them, most or all of them are nice, I ca learn a lot from their experience, and how they live their life and may be even make a new friend o two.

Last Saturday was the second or third party in a row that he is going to and now comes his turn to throw a party. One of my friends just confirmed her attendance with kids and said the same is happening to her. She said that nowadays, her daughter is constantly on the row – and her daughter is four years old, I think.

So basically, I am back to the cycle – I look forward to school holidays since I can sleep in one more hour before going to work. I am not on the road that long in the morning as well. Next similarities – birthday parties with my kid.

I wonder what is next? I wouldn’t mind going with him to discos or pubs, when the time comes, but what would I have thought when my father would have come along? Well, may be for a The Tarik or two, when the time comes. In the meantime, I hang on, and follow him to his activities.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Learning Bahasa Melayu - a long and rambling blog entry

I know, I know, I know - and I am somewhat ashamed. I am in Southeast Asia for about 11 years. I was in Malaysia from 1993 to 1995, than in Indonesia for three years, living through the crisis (so the crisis wasn't my fault, I promise!!). Later, I was in Singapore for one year on a contract, that brought me over the crisis and came back to Malaysia in the very end of 1999 (this starts to sound like a resume).

So I have been here long enough to learn Bahasa Melayu (for those from overseas, this is how the national language is called in Malaysia). Okay, I am struggling along - I can speak enough to fool a taxi driver that I know a lot - after running out of my words I just nod my head at the right points, or say something, when i catch up with the content, or think, I know what he (it is always a he) is talking about. I can order food at the hawker stalls or in a restaurant and thus impress visitors from overseas.

I understand more than I can speak, that is true. But it is not enough to bring me over the first 5 minutes of a conversation, and that is what I always want. A major part of my wife's family lives up in the North, and while they speak English, I know that I would go much further with them and learn a lot from them, if I could speak a better Bahasa. Problem - they speak the local dialect and this sounds very much like Thai to me.

The English of some of the Malays that I do know in Kuala Lumpur is not that good either and I always regret that I cannot follow their discussion in Malay, especially, if it sounds interesting and is at the edge of a topic where I have an opinion. But I cannot expect them to speak English, because they might get lost in that language - to dicuss, you need emotions, and if you struggle to think in another language, you might get lost in the discussion.

I am speaking Malay with the maid that works with my sister in law, but my wife tells me that I shouldn't because she wouldn't have a clue what I am saying, and that she wouldn't expect a Mat Salleh (white person - for those from overseas) to speak their language.

It is said that Bahasa is the easiest language on Earth and that might be true. Well, I could say, German is the easiest language on Earth as well - hey, I am speaking it since I was what? - 15 months old or even younger - hehe. Over my life, I learnt French - but forgot over 85% of it, and haven't spoken it in may be a decade - when I try to speak it, I actually flip into Bahasa.

I learnt Italian - one of my girlfriends back in German was Italian and when her mom and her brother came and both couldn't speak anything butItalian (okay, her brother spoke broken English), I learnt 200 words of Italian in one night. Our conversation went on in broken English, an Italian-German dictionary in my hand, my 200 words, and a lot of laughters.

I also learnt Spanish in Germany - met another girlfriend in the course and forgot all my Spanish the week after I left the course.

When I came to Malaysia, I attented a course in Mandarin. That was one of the heaviest struggle in my life. It took me hours to memorise the words and sentences, and honest by God, I had muscle ache in my jaw. A lot is gone now - 98% to be exact. I know how to say "I love you", "Thank you for your concern", "Good Morning". Through my kid's learning in school, I learn some new words again, like "Fish" or "School" or "Teacher". I still have the certificate - it says something like - "... Daringly took the challenge" or so and that is true - it was a challenge.

Bahasa is easy, since it doesn't have much grammar - some say no grammar at all. But there is no similarity to English or German or whatever other Roman or Anglo-Saxon language. Once you know a bit of the European languages, you see similarities between them.

For example - table is Tisch in German or tableaux in French (I think). Or Sun is Sonne in German or Soleil in French.

But table is Meja in Bahasa and sun is Matahari. Meja could be fork, food, eating, sleeping, book - anything in English. Same with Matahari and so on and so on.

So what I want to say is that I really have to learn one word after the next to get started in Malay. Memorising one after the next - drudging along. And that is the tough part. It is easy to speak English in Kuala Lumpur or the rest in Malaysia - no one forces you to speak the language. In contrast, in Indonesia, one needs to practice Indonesian, in order to make yourself understood. English is pretty bad, or hardly existing in many parts of Jakarta or in the rest of Indonesia. That is why I speak more Bahasa Indonesia than Bahasa Melayu as well.

Do I have the time? Well, I work about 10 to eleven hours a day, learn and play with my kid in the evening, bring him to bed, read a book for another hour or two to keep my knowledge updated and I am just tired after all this. Okay - excuses. I have to learn it. I want to learn it. It is on my New Years Evening Resolutions (yeah - I actually have those). Is there any chance that I will have my break through? I think, if I learn another 2,000 words, I will get started and things will get easier. How? Only time will tell - but I will go for it word after word after word - may be one word or two, three four, a day. Pushing my old brain, upgrading the hard disk up there some more.

So - that is my Sunday afternoon entry.

Friday, September 17, 2004

An ambassador for GoDaddy - Thanks Anita

I found one – someone who is passionate about a service provided. So passionate that she took the effort to tell me that she doesn’t agree with me. She was looking up something about GoDaddy (, which is a webhosting company. And she came across my blog.

The story is the following: A long time back, I tried to move a domain from Network Solutions to GoDaddy. I think, and still believe that Network Solutions is extremely, outrageously expensive, but they serviced me very well the couple of times I was in touch with them and were very responsive.

But they were also my first webhosting company, and somehow, I stuck with them. Than I wanted to move a domain to GoDaddy. I wanted to move to a different provider and I researched a long time, before I decided to make the move to GoDaddy. I wanted to move to them because they were “recommended” by CNet. It didn’t work out – I never got news from them, even after I inquired a couple of times. They just ignored me, even after I paid for the transfer. Even a mail to their CEO didn’t work out and I never got a refund (to be honest, they state that you don’t get a refund, if a transfer failed).

So I wrote a somewhat nasty blog entry (, describing the whole story. That was it for me.

Now, today, I received an e-mail from Canada – and the writer was really good and very supportive of GoDaddy. I would call her an ambassador for GoDaddy and those that recommend services are the best, a company can get.

They work for free for a company and are simply in love with a company – this s beyond simple loyalty. They create the buzz for a company, spread the word and they are the ones that others believe in. I believe in something friends tell me about. I listen to friends’ and relative’s recommendations, more than I listen to advertisements and marketers.

Experiences with marketers are generally bad – just listen to someone trying to sell you something. Everybody knows that advertisement is in the face of the consumer, and most switch TV channels to avoid them. When I see an ad in the newspaper, I flip the page, hardly looking at who is advertising there. Word of Mouth is powerful. ( ) doesn’t “do” advertisement anymore. They believe that they rather spend the money in reducing the price of their products. They retreated from advertisements, after tests showed them, that sales didn’t increase much after a campaign. So Word of Mouth is way more effective, respectable and, most f all, believable, than advertisement, and sales people or marketing.

And she really proved her point, and this blog entry is dedicated to her – Thanks Anita. For those of the readers, who want to see her webpage, check
There is something more funny behind the story with GoDaddy. GoDaddy is not necessarily the right name for a good branding, at least not in the beginning. Some wrong associations. Now, when I ordered a name from GoDaddy (a process without problems – the transfer was the difficult one, that upset me), someone from HSBC Creditcard Center called my wife at that time.

They always call, when I do an online or larger purchase, to verify that it was really me (here is a blog entry about I: ) . Normally, my wife (the center has her name) would ask what I purchased to verify it – she knows the staff that I buy, and can quickly say yes (always) or no (never happened, luckily). Only that time, the person from HSBC said – I cannot tell you what your husband bought. Now this is secrecy.

Oh - by the way: Here is her mail:

"HelloI read your blog while searching for godaddy info on something else.Anyway, I really like godaddy and have had nothing but excellent servicefrom them. Network Solutions indeed does make it hard to take away a namefrom them. I have registered dozens of domains for myself and my clients,and always good service.


Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Bonding with my kid

School is tough these days. Kids have to learn so much and I have the feeling that in about 2 years from now, my kid will know more than I ever learnt.

What is another challenge is that some of the stuff that is naturally in my blood comes difficult to someone who is just 7 years. I mean, gosh, how to explain subtraction in the easiest way? How many different ways to explain it? When one is failing, which one to choose? Different angle?

I mean, even Edison needed – what? 1,000 experiments before the stupid bulb started to light up? But nothing better when you find the way into the child’s mind and suddenly, the light opens up – he gets it. I had such a great moment the other day. He suddenly understood how to subtract numbers from each other.

And than, he got it - he was first able to subtract small numbers from each other, and than went on to subtracting three digit numbers from 3 digit numbers. Nothing better than to see him proud. How he ran to his mother to show her what he did. Beaming eyes!! Passion. Fun to learn. Bonding between the two of us on levels that succeed anything one has ever experienced. So happy that he didn’t want to stop! Kids are like this. We, the big ones, and society teach them to "hate" learning with our discipline, and our rigid structures.

Well, that was something that I could still teach him. I am worried what comes next – after all, he is already at multiplication – in Primary 1!!! I learnt multiplication when I was, I think, 10 or eleven. That means, he is three years ahead. Algorithm came in High School and shortly after than, I was lost. The speed that my kid is learning math, algorithm appears to be on the horizon in about 12 months from now. And my kid will realize that his father is not the hero he thought he would be.


Customer Centric versus Company-Centric or Outside-In versus Inside-Out

It is my favourite topic and one that I am going to speak about soon. Outside-in means to me that the company that I am dealing with really sees me in the center of attention.

Customer-centric: I want to buy something from them, and the purchasing is made easy. The company tries to help me in making my choices. Products or services are recommended, but I don’t have the feeling that stuff is pushed to me. I am respected. The sales personnel I attentive and knows what they are talking about. They smile and advise. They are professional in their dealings with customers and it is fun coming back to their shop or to do business with them.

Company-centric: Inside-out are initiated by companies that only see their own need first. They have their processes and I have to follow them. I have long waits on the phone line, when I call them and I am transferred from place to place. They tell me that they are not responsible and I need to call another number. I have the feeling that I am a disturbance. Sales assistance is spotty, and assistants are totally untrained. They don’t know what they are talking about.

I believe there is more to say – way more. It is difficult to find good companies in Malaysia. When was the last time that I had the feeling a company really, fully understood me and my motivations? That rocked me when I entered the shop and where I regretted leaving? That gave me the WoW feeling? Hm – I can’t remember. And all of this after years and years of market research, customer relationship software, training of employees. Umph

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Overworked and simply tired

Companies need to restructure. I understand this. They need to do this to maintain their competitive edge and to be able to react fast to changes in the market place.

What I don’t understand and what research has shown over and over again, that in order to do so, companies shouldn’t step over their people. Okay, many or most nowadays say that people are their main assets, but is this true?

We are downsized, rightsized, outsourced not very trust encouraging, but okay. But what is needed are people at the workplace that are fresh and able to laugh – at least from time to time.
Never trust a workplace that is quiet. People that are able to have a family life. People, who are able to multitask but for sure not overtasked.

How can they relax over night and find the energy to get going the next day? How are they able to brainstorm in an office, when their brains are tired, and the energy level is so low?

How are they able to share knowledge, when they have no time to talk since they work all the time?

How are they able to contribute to competitiveness, if their tired brains makes mistakes and it takes time, cost and more energy to identify and correct the mistakes?

How can they identify competitive threats in the marketplace and listen to the noises from companies, newspapers, friends, relatives, clients, if they are not even able to lift their head from the monitor, since the workload keeps increasing.

How can they serve a client better, or delight a customer, if they need to go back to their work, their ever growing list of unread mails in their inbox?

I needed to say this since I am so tired, exhaustive, braindead, overworked, and overtasked myself with deep rings under my eyes - am I the only one who feels like this?

Now, let’s go back to work, after I could let this out – where is the WoW?

Monday, September 13, 2004

Muslim groups start taking responsibility

If there is anything good coming out from the terror attacks in Russia and most recently in Jakarta, it is that more and more Islamic groups step forward and say that enough is enough.

That Islam is not about violence and that those that commit those attacks are wrong, even so they commit the acts in the name of Islam.

I was waiting for this kind of reaction, and it made me mad already during recent events in the mosque in Thailand ( and that all that came was silence

I know that I am getting into difficult territory here, but I want to take position.

The New York Times recently brought a good article that described reactions of Muslim groups across the world about the terror attacks. Jordan copied the article into his blog – so if you want to read the whole article at his blog, click here - . The New York Times is a subscription based website, so access to it is gone by now.

Now, today, I found the link . It is another article about Muslim organizations that stand up and apologize for atrocities committed. The article is courtesy of

And, to follow Jordan’s step, I am copying the article into this blog – just in case the World Tribune is another subscription based website (see below).

I agree with those articles

It has to be acknowledged that all religions have bloody edges. You find hardcore Christian groups in the US that promote the killing of doctors who work in abortion clinics. Overall, the US has slipped to the right to become more extreme religiously in recent years, under the Bush administration.

There are those who point out that those in the war (I wouldn’t call it war, but let’s leave it at this) in North Ireland are heavily religious – but the difference of all those is that they don’t fight in the name of Christianity or for a Christian country with Christian laws. The IRA in Ireland calls for independence. The killers in the US call for a stop to abortions.
But I also see more “bloody edges” at the sides of Islam. It is sad to say that the majority of terrorist acts in recent years have been committed by those proclaiming to fight for Islam.

When Germany lost the Second World War the population saw the crimes against humanity committed against Jews and other groups. When they came to realize the horrors of concentration camps, a deep sense of shame, and pain (is this the right word?) was the result – Germans, over the last couple of decades, changed their mindset.

From a fiery nation of constant war mongering we became a nation of tree huggers and those that stand up and say Never Again to Fascism and Racism and War. A result of it was that the overwhelming majority of Germans was and is against the war in Iraq. Even if the German military ventures out of the country’s borders, it causes a lot of headache, even so they are engaged in non-military actions.

Anyway – I hope that one day our children can look back and say that the events of these first two weeks of September let to a change in mindset amongst the Islamic population and that they finally stood up and said No More to Terror and War. That these were the days were first steps were taken to reconcile the pain in the world.

I hope that reasoning is setting in again. And that the killings stop. My kid starts to ask a lot of questions. How to explain those tragedies to him? That children are killed, wounded, hurt, by adults, who normally have the task of protecting them?

The article

Muslim group takes responsibility for 9-11: 'We are so sorry'

Special to World

Friday, September 10, 2004

We Are So Sorry for 9-11

This September 11 marks the third unforgettable anniversary of the worst mass murder in American history.

After September 11, many in the Muslim world chose denial and hallucination rather than face up to the sad fact that Muslims perpetrated the 9-11 terrorist acts and that we have an enormous problem with extremism and support for terrorism. Many Muslims, including religious leaders, and “intellectuals” blamed 9-11 on a Jewish conspiracy and went as far as fabricating a tale that 4000 Jews did not show up for work in the World Trade Center on 9-11.

Yet others blamed 9-11 on an American right wing conspiracy or the U.S. Government which allegedly wanted an excuse to invade Iraq and “steal” Iraqi oil.
As to apologizing, we will no longer wait for our religious leaders and "intellectuals" to do the right thing. Instead, we will start by apologizing for 9-11 . . .

After numerous admissions of guilt by Bin Laden and numerous corroborating admissions by captured top level Al-Qaida operatives, we wonder, does the Muslim leadership have the dignity and courage to apologize for 9-11?

If not 9-11, will we apologize for the murder of school children in Russia?

If not Russia, will we apologize for the train bombings in Madrid, Spain?

If not Spain, will we apologize for suicide bombings in buses, restaurants and other public places?

If not suicide bombings, will we apologize for the barbaric beheadings of human beings?

If not beheadings, will we apologize for the rape and murder of thousands of innocent people in Darfour?

If not Darfour, will we apologize for the blowing up of two Russian planes by Muslim women?

What will we apologize for?

What will it take for Muslims to realize that those who commit mass murder in the name of Islam are not just a few fringe elements?

What will it take for Muslims to realize that we are facing a crisis that is more deadly than the Aids epidemic?

What will it take for Muslims to realize that there is a large evil movement that is turning what was a peaceful religion into a cult?

Will Muslims wake up before it is too late? Or will we continue blaming the Jews and an imaginary Jewish conspiracy? The blaming of all Muslim problems on Jews is a cancer that is destroying Muslim society from within and it must stop.

Muslims must look inward and put a stop to many of our religious leaders who spend most of their sermons teaching hatred, intolerance and violent jihad. We should not be afraid to admit that as Muslims we have a problem with violent extremism. We should not be afraid to admit that so many of our religious leaders belong behind bars and not behind a pulpit.

Only moderate Muslims can challenge and defeat extremist Muslims. We can no longer afford to be silent. If we remain silent to the extremism within our community then we should not expect anyone to listen to us when we complain of stereotyping and discrimination by non-Muslims; we should not be surprised when the world treats all of us as terrorists; we should not be surprised when we are profiled at airports.

Simply put, not only do Muslims need to join the war against terror, we need to take the lead in this war.

As to apologizing, we will no longer wait for our religious leaders and “intellectuals” to do the right thing. Instead, we will start by apologizing for 9-11.

We are so sorry that 3000 people were murdered in our name. We will never forget the sight of people jumping from two of the highest buildings in the world hoping against hope that if they moved their arms fast enough that they may fly and survive a certain death from burning.

We are sorry for blaming 9-11 on a Jewish or right wing conspiracy.

We are so sorry for the murder of more than three hundred school children and adults in Russia.
We are so sorry for the murder of train passengers in Spain.

We are so sorry for all the victims of suicide bombings. We are so sorry for the beheadings, abductions, rapes, violent Jihad and all the atrocities committed by Muslims around the world.

We are so sorry for a religious education that raised killers rather than train people to do good in the world. We are sorry that we did not take the time to teach our children tolerance and respect for other people.

We are so sorry for not rising up against the dictators who have ruled the Muslim world for decades.

We are so sorry for allowing corruption to spread so fast and so deep in the Muslim world that many of our youth lost hope.

We are so sorry for allowing our religious leaders to relegate women to the status of forth class citizens at best and sub-humans at worse.

We are so sorry.

For more information visit our website at:

There was once the saying that if one wants change, one needs to look into the mirror first. Change yourself first, before criticizing others. Admit mistakes and undertake steps that help to rectify those. Be open, don’t deny.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Bloggers Meet in Bangsar

I enjoyed it. We had it yesterday and well, there are a lot of pics at Dusty's blog. It was great to put faces to links (in an earlier life, about 100 years ago it seems, we said we would put a face to a voice).

It started of as a smaller group in Coffee Bean in Bangsar and grew quickly into a noisy bunch of about 15 bloggers.

We shall do it again, I guess, may be after Hari Raya?

Here is a link to Dusty's blog - Enjoy!

And here, in Mei's blog is a description or naming of all bloggers that attended:


5 T-Shirts with my own logo

I did it ! Yes - I now have 5 T-Shirts with the name of my blog. And, may be I am the last one to discover this, but standing in front of the mirror (admiring me - so vein !), I finally realised that "blog" looks a bit like "gold", written backwards. However, if you look at it in the mirror, it clearly reads Gold - so Blogspot is Gold-spot. Interesting.

Anyway, if you see a guy with a T-Shirt and the AlwaysWoW logo at the back (and a small one on the front), than just stop and say hello!

I would love to meet more of you (after the great blogger meeting yesterday)!

Friday, September 10, 2004

Marina in Tioman - Project is stopped

I wrote about the Tioman project this week (, expressing my hope that the plan to build a marina in Tioman Island would not go through. The island is simply too beautiful. Well, there was a lot of protest on the island, and now the New Straits Times reports that “The Government will issue a stop work order on the developer of the RM40 million marina project off Kampung Tekek in Pulau Tioman with immediate effect. The order will only be lifted once the developer submits an Environment Management Plan on how the coral reefs will be preserved and managed.


This means that while something will go on there, at least the project is stopped for the time being. I am happy (or am I too optimistic?)! Malaysia is really changing.


Spam - Or, we live in reverse mode

I don’t know what is happening, but I liked (see the past tense) Yahoo account. My account name is fitting to my perspective of life, and, of course, to the name of my “beloved” Blog.

I liked Yahoo even more when they increased their storage capacity, and it somewhat becomes my main email address – I have a couple in Gmail, and in Hotmail as well.
In addition to this, they said that they don’t count spam towards the total quota – which is enticing customers to stay with Yahoo in this age of spam. Somehow, I was always lucky that I didn’t get too much spam, but since publish more frequently, spam is also increasing.
Lately, I constantly get something from a nerd called Jjohnrose, clearly spam.

What was annoying is that some of the news I subscribe to was labeled Spam – since I know this, I am checking my spam folder as well. When it happens, I politely click the button on top that says – No Spam – and Yahoo’s responding webpage, as nice as it is, always says, “Thank you – blabla - don’t know the rest anymore, but that my action would help them to make their spam filter more efficient.”

Now, something dramatic is happening – since two days or so, my favourite blogging and e-mail partner from is labeled spam by Yahoo. So how? I already clicked the “No Spam” button – I believe she is human (hey, I am kidding), so how can the machines label her differently. Today, Spam was in my “normal” inbox, instead of where it belongs – the spam box. We live in reverse mode, it seems.


Olah - My blog's got daily news updates

... or may be even hourly or whatever. I am still not that good with coding , so my e-mail address skipped down too far, but may be over the weekend, when I have the time (after the bloggers meeting?), I might be able to correct this.

And if Blogger manages not to crash this time again.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Unofficial Apple Blog looks for writers/ bloggers

Well, if any of you is thinking of writing for the unofficial Apple blog, to get traffic and earn some few bucks - here is the link :

I found it via

Good luck

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

The customer is always right - Right? Right!

Change This has published another manifest, this time by Bruce Kasanoff.

Bruce Kasanoff is (and I quote here) an entrepreneurial marketing expert who has helped companies of all sizes position their services, strengthen their brand and communicate their value. In this document called Less – What consumers want - that you can it download here, he points out examples of customer services that go awfully wrong and great customer experiences that go awfully right. You know how it is in Malaysia – and not only here. That shopping for anything just sucks very often. I have written often enough about sulking attendants in Jaya Jusco that just don’t move from where they are and expect customers to find what they need, to Carrefour as a company that doesn’t trust its customers.

The document describes a couple of great examples how “customer experience in a shop could actually be”. Let me cite just one example:

“Let’s take Susan, a top salesperson in an upscale clothing store, as an example. The first thing Susan does when you walk into the store is to let you know she is there to help you, on your terms. Her greeting is friendly, but not overly so.

She doesn’t want to scare away a hesitant shopper, and knows that to tailor her approach for you, she must first get some sense of your needs. When she can, Susan looks for non-verbal hints. If you are carrying a letter from the store, she might ask, “Did you come to check out our private sale?” The store has big glass windows, and she sometimes gets hints from the car you drove or the fact that your husband or wife dropped you off. In such cases, she might ask, “How much time do you have?” Most importantly, Susan listens and waits.

When her customer is ready to stop talking and be served, she then takes action, suggesting various outfits and pointing out interesting new options. Along the way, she is constantly looking for both verbal and non-verbal feedback. She never ignores a glance at a watch, or when a customer stops to touch a rack of glove-soft leather jackets.

While she might not act immediately on all these inputs, she uses all of them to influence the way she treats a customer. Finally, Susan is motivated by sustainable success. She understands word of mouth, and knows that great reputations are built through a never-ending series of small actions. She’d rather lose a sale than lose a customer. If she can’t sell the customer something that they will be happy with for years to come, she won’t sell anything.”

WoW, wouldn’t that be nice? What is missing, however, is that there are customer who drain your resources - and keep you away from those that deserve your attention. Those are a very small minority, and one should have processes in place on how to manage those - my opinion. But overall, I totally agree with the document!

Is it possible in Malaysia or Asia? I believe yes – it is possible and there are stores that are on their way (may be another story for another time). Can any store afford to ignore this “movement”? For the time being – yes. Long term – no.

What is also nice in the document is that it talks a bit about the personal initiatives that each and everyone can take to make the life of the client easier, and to organize one’s own life in a better manner with less wastage. So, download it, read it, distribute it and may be even apply the learning.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Tioman and the Marina - Some definitions about a plan to destroy (sorry, develop ??) a beauty

Definition Marina - a small port that is used for pleasure rather than trade, often with hotels, restaurants and bars (

Definition Tourism - Synopsis: Tourism is classically regarded as travelling for recreation although this definition has been expanded in recent years to include any travel outside of one's normal working or living area (

Tioman Island - I was there once, and while I didn't like it too much (my mistake, it was shortly after rainy season and everything was kind of urgh), I read somewhere in a travel guide that it is one of the 11 most beautiful islands in the world.

Someone has a plan - they want to build a marina for RM 40 million. According to The Star Malaysia (where the picture is coming from), "the project spans 127,000 sq metres and is expected to provide yacht docking areas, an administration building, water breakers and a cargo jetty which is expected to be 30m wide at the tip and stretches 175m into the sea.

The marina will threaten the survival of more than 200 endangered giant clams, 300-year-old corals and other marine life which thrive within it.".

I say that this is WoW - I just came at the wrong time. A lot of tourists want to see this. This area can be developed in an ecological sensible manner. No need to destroy. It can upgrade the skills of the villagers.

But not in the way the marina is planned - according to this news, the marina as planned will destroy this beauty. Let's hope that Dato' Seri Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawi (Pak Lah), once again, will veto the project.

Malaysia hopes to develop its tourism - tourism is already quite a cashcow for the country. But there are many, many areas where Malaysia still needs to develop. An environmental mindset is one that is needed (see my entry about Redang Island at - I was a so-called "tree hugger" when I was younger (I was much more, but leave it at this), and I am proud of every tree that I hugged and saved.

Malaysia is too beautiful to be commercialised. In the end of the day, 5 years or 10 years down the road, they have to re-do all the corals again, regretting that there was no voice of opposition to this plan - but here is one that speaks up loud and clearly.

Say no to the marina in Tioman.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Networking, rollodex and having fun

A former colleague of mine once said to me that he wouldn't be afraid to leave our company, or any company for that matter. He said that he would find a new job 3 days after he would leave any company. The reason? He is a great networker. His address book is full with names and he is able to stay in touch with many, many of the contacts that he has.

He is invaluable for any company. Nowadays, it is frequently more important to know a lot of people that will assist you in a new company and, by linkage, also the company, than technical knowhow (okay, technical knowhow is also important).

But since competition heats up globally, and markets are oversaturated with products, it is often the networker that is able to roll a ball into the field. The networker knows, where the new work is coming from, before it is publicly known knowledge. He or she has already had a conversation with decision-makers before other even heard about upcoming business. This has nothing to do with corruption or collusion, but simply knowing people in the market.

I am preparing a speech for a conference about customer segmentation and one piece of research that I found said that word-of-mouth is way more important than advertising in the purchase decision for a product or a service. The same with projects, or finding a new job or whatever. If you know someone who knows someone who knows someone, it is easier to get through.

Think for example, about the following - you call someone but you don't know this person - why should he or she want to talk to you? But if there was a recommendation before that, well, I would pick up the phone in a much more appreciating manner than otherwise.

Networking crosses geographic boundaries, gender, positions, age, opinions and ethnic groups. Via e-mail, blogging, IM or your own webpage, it is easier to "meet" with people across the world. Even services such as Friendster can help here.

It is boring to stick to ones own gender. Especially, if you are a guy. Women are much better equipped to cope with the changing environment that we are facing in the businessworld. They are better at improvising, networking, listening, they are more creative, more sensitive, can relate better and so on and so on. Many countries have realised that and recent headlines in Malaysian newspapers that the government wants to develop the female workforce recognises this development.

It is important to network across positions. Gosh, it is awful to only stick to those positions that one sees as equal. What about those that start their career? They are fresh in their mind, not corrupted by the corporate life. They are way closer to the "real world". And just because they are called "executives" - may be with a junior in front - and ones own job title is already "manager" or even with a "senior" in front, doesn't mean that the more senior one is the smarter one.

Network across age groups - okay, I indicated it already when I just wrote about networking across positions. Mostly, "juniors" are younger. But I have to say it again. Just because someone is younger doesn't mean they don't know anything. Tom Peters ones wrote "bow before the young". When I see how "youngsters" use technology, and what kind of aspiration they have, wow, I am running to stay in touch, and learn, learn, learn from them. Gosh, I learn from my kid and he is seven (I am exaggerating!). But it goes the other way around as well. Just because one is young, doesn't mean that everybody above 30 or 40 is dead, or not worthwhile spending time with. There is a lot of experience, and may I dare saying, wisdom? Tap this wisdom - okay, many might have given up on personal development or are plain lost in the changes, but I am not talking about those! One of my friends is still amazed how I knew about the questions that would come up in a job interview, and what she should prepare for. But this is only known to those who have been around for a while. - so I am talking about me.

The last one - search out people who are different from you - different in opinion, looks, or ethic groups. because if you always hang out with the same people, you become like them, you are like them, and everything becomes stale. There is no learning anymore.

Malaysians have the greatest chance of all. Here we find different ethnic groups, different religions and all that, and it could be so great to see this grow.

So here we go - here is the field to work on for networking. The greatest challenge? To keep in touch. But don't neglect it. Not ever!! Be diligent about it. Schedule it. Call friends, know your friends, stay in touch with them.

Mei, the one writing the blog called The Scarfer ( had this great idea to get the Malaysian bloggers together - here is the link to her posting : It would be great to meet a lot of you there!

And this is the fun part of networking. You meet new people, hear new opinions, enhance your knowledge and simply have fun. And that is what life is all about.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Russians Storm School; 100 Bodies Found

I just saw the reports on BBC World - fighting is still ongoing. Apparently, 10 gunmen have been killed, others are on the run - with or without hostages. The rescue operation started after an explosion inside the school was heard. A roof in the school collapsed and there are reports that at least 100 hostages were killed in the crossfire, and under the collapse. People and relatives were crying, nearly all the hostages were naked. One freed kid was so traumatised that he couldn't remember his name. Most hostages were carried out on stretchers or by people since they were totally dehydrated.

I was close to tears when I saw the picture. It is so bad, so bad.


Posco to invest in energy saving

In a world where nearly everything is still very much on the usage of petroleum and investments in renewable energy and energy saving technology is also still very much underdeveloped (generally speaking), it is worthwhile mentioning that Posco, the leading Korean steelmaker intends to spend US$662 million by 2008 to develop facilities and products that will save energy and cut costs for the company and its customers as fuel prices soar.

These type of investments however become more frequent, generally, when energy prices soar, something that is currently happening with the high oil prices.

This investment might also assist Posco in its future exports to the European Community that plans to implement tough environmental requirements for imported products.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Custom made t-shirts

I want to create a t-shirt with my own design. Is there any shop in Kuala Lumpur that is doing this? Any contacts available? The quality should be okay or good (am I asking for too much) and the price shouldn't be out of the world.

Who knows a shop like this?

Actually, while I am on it - is there any shop that prints great business cards, that doesn't cost the world, and are of good quality?

Sorry, I am asking for a lot, but any assistance would be appreciated.

The blog as a community and aid tool - now how is that?

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Yahoo! News - Reports: Hundreds Held Hostage in Russia

This is so sad. There are a lot of children taken hostage. As a parent, my heart is always bleeding when I read stories like this, really - and I don't care for the reason.

Especially children are the most innocent in the whole mess that we are living in now.

I solemnly see this from an emotional point of view.

Yahoo! News - Reports: Hundreds Held Hostage in Russia


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