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.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Paint drops are falling on my head

This signboard stands at Amcorp Mall, shortly before the entrance and along the roadside, where people walk. And cars drive by.

There is renovation ongoing at Amcorp Mall and well, it is possible that paint drops fall down on you. The risk is on your side since you are not suppose to walk there. The company hired to do the paint shop doesn't apparently take precaution that there are no paint drops falling on people.

So better watch out :)


KFC Follow up - Am I too harsh?

May be I was too harsh - and I throw the question into the discussion. I was complaining, nagging or observing that there is no flexibility in KFC when I really didn't ask for much - my perception.

The comments in the earlier entry were partially agreeing, but "CFK NEKCIHC" made some pretty good remarks. Let me copy them here:

"Give them a chance. These poor OTC waiters (probably Part-time students) taking your orders are under STRICT ORDERS to abide by the rules.

You are also giving them headaches to try and convert the "equivalent prices" of different items in a set menu. Moreover, every piece of chicken and all items in the outlet are probably under a computerized inventory control. At the end of the day, the amount sold should tally with the orders otherwise the auditors will be after them.

Also understand, it is a fast food outlet and if they were to cater to your whims and fancies, it will cause a long queue. Yes, you have the $ in your pocket, but money can't buy you everything you wish and desire. The Beatles have been shouting, "Money can't buy me love." KFC foods are expensive, go to the supermarkets and back to your gas ovens and prepare your meals according to your taste and your requirements.

Patronize them only once in a while only. Cheers, just my observations."

He might be very very right with the possibility that there was a part-timer standing at the cashier. In addition, she was probably hungry and thirsty, since she was a Malay girl and it was shortly before the break of fast - so may be that is a problem by KFC.

Did I give them a headache? Was there the potential of a long queue. Yeah - may be I was wrong, and didn't see it at that point of time - I had my own agenda in mind. I wouldn't have gone to KFC in the first place, if McD would have been open.

I believe one can expect a great deal of customer service in a lot of different places, such as shops and services, nowadays. This is needed to stay competitive.

I don't know who wrote the book about the different approaches to customers or products but there are three different approaches:

1.) Product orientation - Companies that produce products and the leading edge - Samsung, Nokia or Nike fall into this category.
2.) Customer orientation - Companies that embrace their customer and that are able to embrace their customers. Consulting firms are falling into this category
3.) Operational efficiency - companies that are extremely efficient in running their business on scale - Dell is one of those companies. McDonalds is one of those. There is not much flexibility in their model and that means that anything outside their scope disturbs the process.

The authors (I will find the name, no worries)**, said that to be competitive, a company needs to be worldclass in one of the categories and very good at the other two.

McDonalds started to have trouble (at least in the US), when they began to customise their menu, while they were extremely efficient in their operations. And it is clear that KFC is somewhere in there as well.

Now - I as a "normal" customer will of course not know the orientation of a company - I will not be familiar with their direction, but feel bad if I don't necessarily get what I want or ordered.

I still believe that it is the duty of management to provide flexibility to frontstaff, but may be that would drive up the costs, since they would have to train their frontstaff or hire more experienced people. I however see the mistake that I made but wonder, if I should react differently next time. Or, may be, KFC or any other fast food restaurant should be able to provide the customer experience at a different level, at different times or I don't know what - help me out here.

** The book was written by Treacy & Wiersema, The Discipline of Market Leaders. Addison-Wesley, 1995.

Friday, October 29, 2004

KFC - or: Customer experience starts at the point of purchase

This is an easy story - my kid and I went to get food in Kentucky. It is easier to order for him in McDonalds, since they have smaller portions, as McD markets more aggressively to the kids but since McD's shop in Megamall was closed (closed? - it is Ramadan - boomtime month - but what contradiction is that?), so we trotted over to KFC.

It was close to the break of fast, people started to come in and I could see that the place filled up quickly. Muslims were sitting at their table, waiting the few minutes before breaking fast.

Well, I looked at the menu and saw that the Ramadan Special Menu looked like my boy would like it - two pieces of chicken, mashed potatoes, Jelly, icecream, the usual mini-salad and a carbonated drink. Now, while I eat a lot of rubbish (but try to get better at it), I try to order things that are somewhat healthier (or calm my bad consciouness by ordering "somewhat better food" as, after all it still is "unhealthy" fast food) and that he likes - we way too often throw food away.

So - here I go with the negotiation. First - mashed potatoes. While not that healthy, my kid prefers french fries - so my question to the girl behind the counter, whether or not we could change that mashed potatoes to french fries. She shakes her head and smiles - "sorry Sir, this is not possible".

Okay - got to stick with the mashed potatoes. Next try - very friendly from my side, with a big smile on my face. "But may be it is possible to change the carbonated drink to Milo Ice?" Here you can see me on the health trip. I don't like it when he drinks carbonated drinks - okay, a sib, once in a while, but not more. The smile again - "cannot". I ask her why, since this is just an exchange of one drink to another. She just repeats her cannot. I am getting a bit moody, grumble under my teeth, that this is not very customer friendly.

She gets the food and than comes her question about the chicken - spicy or not spicy. Here, it surely should be possible to have a mix. I ask her if a non-spicy one and a spicy one would be possible - it is possible that my kid doesn't like the spicy one, so he could have the normal one. I cannot believe her response - it is not possible. I mean, come on, chicken is chicken and if it is more expensive to put spices on top of it, than KFC would even win under my proposition. But it is not possible. I don't understand why not - these are small changes. If someone says that carbonated drinks are very much cheaper than Milo Ice, and that a change would make a big big difference in the end of the day - okay, they might argue with me about that. I still would say that this doens't meet my expectations.

My conclusion? It is the flexibility at the point of purchase, the moment of truth, when the real customer orientation is delivered. And don't tell me that this is corporate policies. It is my opionion that if a customer is asking for something that is not even out of the world, than damn the corporate policies and meet the customer's expectation? I didn't ask her for Pizza instead of chicken or to dance when she puts the chicken on the tray (okay, I am getting unfair here).

What is more valuable? The customer, who is happy and wants to spend or the one, who has to live with bad compromises. What goes down the drain? My perception of KFC - I know this contrasts with Jordan's experience with KFC and what he experiences is great (Jordan - if you read this, please add a search to your blog - the link above doesn't lead to your great KFC experience!). Individual experiences are different of course, no doubt about this, but it is the great individual and consistent experience that is demanded by consumers in the dawn of the experience economy. Heavy words as we are a long way from that! Remember my experience with Bodyshop and how "corporate" they reacted.

I am posting the story here, I am submitting a feedback form to KFC - an online form with a link to this blog. I don't think that they will react to it, but may be I will be surprised. Anyway - in the days of the Internet, when bad news travels fast and wide, competition is strong, corporate reputations under attack - I believe that those incidences shouldn't happen. Am I asking for too much? I think not! There must be a WoW in store for every customer.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Discovering new things is great - New human species discovered

Nothing better than learning something new. Nothing better than discovering something that you dind't know it exists. That always WoW's me.

A newly discovered species of human has been dubbed "the Hobbit" - reminds me of Lord of the Rings. The species lived as recently as 13,000 years ago - long after homo sapiens began walking the planet and was found on the island of Flores in Indonesia.

They also found out that the species has been wiped out by volcanic eruptions.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Amazon lets customers post photos

Amazon gets it. I loved the company from the very beginning. They do marketing the quiet way - they don't ask you to fill out long registration forms when you sign up. They only want your e-mail address. They learn when you are with them, when you order. When you order, they inform you in a personalised e-mail that your order has been received, and send off. Personalised means, not just sending an e-mail that says, "Dear Sir" - but addressing you with name.

When I once didn't receive my package in the promised time, they apologised profoundly, and made no fuss in sending a new one. No questions asked. They only asked to send back one of the packages in case I would receive the original one.

I once informed them that a transport to Malaysia would take longer than advertised in their webpage, and they thanked me, and said they would track the incidence and change the numbers on their webpage, when required. They actually changed it !!

Amazon doesn't advertise anymore. They did a study comparing the effect of advertising on sale in one city where they advertised compared to a city, where no advertising took place. Since advertising didn't generate much more than a little pop, Jeff Bezos, their CEO said that advertising will be stopped, and that they rather reduce the prices of their products. He believes in Word of Mouth Marketing. Have a great experience and you will talk about it. I wrote about it when I described my experience with Cha Cha the Clown in Malaysia.

There are lots of groups commenting on books - community building, and reaching out to their customers. People love it and it actually helps people to decide for one book over another.

Amazon let website visitors look inside the books - to provide them with the experience that book buyers want - read a bit here and there in a book, before you buy a book. Authors, initially, protested, but their sales didn't go down.

They now have a search engine that allows a user to keep track of their search history.

Now, has quietly introduced a new feature on its Web store that lets customers post photos alongside product reviews - its latest effort to build a sense of community among customers. CNet writes "the idea is to let customers highlight specific attributes of a product, such as size, and show the product in action.

Amazon's move underscores an online trend--the blurring of e-commerce and personal media such as Web logs and social networking sites like Friendster."

If you want to know how to build a business, grow a business and entice customers to say WoW, study Amazon. I will be a raving fan of your business.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

The Greatest Race on Earth and what has it got to do with banking?

It started two days ago. A super event called "The Greatest Race on Earth". It covers over 5447 miles, began in Nairobi (Kenya), moves to Singapore on December 5, then onto Mumbai (India) on January 25 next year, with the final race in Hong Kong on February 27.

55 teams participate with each team consisting of four runners with a team member running in one marathon each. For Malaysia police long distance runner Shaharuddin Hashim participates.

The race goes in a way that as one country marathon is over, the next athlete runs in the next country, picking up the baton from his colleague who ran the previous marathon.

Over one billion people will watch the race on TV or can be followed on the web.

Its main sponsor is Standard Chartered Bank, and its Singaporean CEO Euleen Goh had some interesting comparisons between the banking business and the marathon.

Let me bring some of those quotes that were also published in The Edge (Singapore):

"You cannot be still because you will be overtaken, which is why we like the
marathon. Anyone can participate. And you can keep going."

She (he? - sorry, but I don't know if this is a male or a female name - please tell me)also said that the company is identifying niches to serve its customers - "Marine Parade was our first branch after QFB where customers can sit down on sofa sets, watch Bloomberg and have a chat with our relationship manager." - But this is followed by the statement that competitors are upstaging it by offering similar services. "This comes back to, can we stay at it? We have to. We have to keep doing things differently because we will be copied. Maybe part of our role is to add the fizz, add the buzz, add the choices."

Or, may be they do what customers really require. Make customer's feel like a real WoW whey then enter Standard Chartered's premises. Not like - okay - this one I have seen already and that one I have seen somewhere else. Hm - the bank looks just like any other bank.

Design is a differentiator, for sure. But it also is the internal culture that drives the differentiation to competitors. So Standard Chartered might want to ask themselves - everybody is doing what we are doing (what is already great) - but may be instead of running with all the other banks in the same race, may be we should run a different race altogether?

Like, for example, offering services that customers require - not just offering choices for the sake of offering choices and than hope that it will be picked up by customers. What is a different ballgame - do you see the difference?

Monday, October 25, 2004

Astro - I have got a problem

My Astro receiver is down – no signal. This happens frequently, when the weather is bad in KL, so I was okay with it on Saturday night. However, it was still down on Sunday, so I thought I call their customer service. I never had any bad experience with them and every time, they could help me in “my misery”.

So, at about 10.40 AM, I started to call and this blog entry is about the Tour de Astro. I hope to get everything right, but might not – my memory is not that good anymore, and I cannot read the few notes that I took anymore – my handwriting deteriorates with age (just kidding).

The lines were busy, busy, busy, so I pressed the redial button constantly, hoping, to find the spot to get in. Finally – I made it.

I got the usual options – Press 1 for Bahasa and Press 2 for English. Okay, I pressed 2, since my English is way better.

Next, I got even more options. Press 1 for Smartcard Inquiries, Press 2 for Balance Inquiry, Press 3 for Reconnecting your Service, Press 4 for InfoBox Movies, Press 5 for Life Soccer Matches, Press 6 for Flexi Packages, Press 7 for Transmission Problems – ahhhhh – here it was.

I pressed the 7. I now got another two options, one which asked me to press 1, when I have no signal and, I think 2, when I want to get back to the main menue. So I pressed 1 and the tape told me to switch off the Astro Receiver for 15 seconds, and to switch it on, after 15 seconds, with my favourite channel.

I did so (do they know my favourite channel) – but, to give you an impression of the process, I must put down the receiver in order to move to the front of the TV, because a shelf prevents the signal of the remote control to reach the receiver.

So I put down the receiver, get into position, and switch the receiver off. Counting. Switching it on. Still no signal. In the meantime, the tape keeps repeating its message. I got stuck – what to press now?

Oh – okay, it tells me to get back to the main menu – but there was nothing about customer service when I reached the “7”, remember? Okay – let’s try. I press the number to get to the main menue. It starts again – Press 1 for Smartcard Inquiries …… reaching 7, continues with Press 8 when you want to talk to a customer service assistant (or whatever they are called).

Ah - here it is, my desired number – I press the 8. Am I on the way to success? I can finally speak to some human being. Oh – the tape continues with a slogan – “Welcome to Astro…. Makes your life richer. We are committed to making your life easier.”

And so on. Sounds good – making your life easier, so help must be close. Hm – now the tape tells me that I am number 15 in line. It continues with advertisements, and songs, and tells me what great services they do now have on offer.

Every now and than, I hear that I moved up the line – in the beginning, it goes somewhat faster, than slower and slower. However, when this happens it first tells me that it now transfers me Customer Service Representative – stop. They are all busy. If I want to continue I need to press 2. Sure I want. I keep hanging on.

I learn that if my old Smartcard expired Sept 15 – well, that was last month, and I got my new one (how old is the ad??). I learn about new Astro Box Office Movies. I learn that there is a new children channel on 63. That continues and continues. 11.15 AM. I have pressed the Number 2 – my interest to stay in the line, about 15 times already.

Now finally, I get through – hurray, after nearly memorising the songs, I can talk to someone. As usual, those guys are friendly, and the guy I am talking to, called Vincent, he leads me through the process. Is the smart card in. Check the configuration, check the cable – all okay. What about the reception. Every time he asks me something to do, I put down the receiver, and run to follow the instruction. This all goes on for about 5 minutes or so. Than he asks me to switch off the receiver – until it is totally down and out.

The remote refuses to do its tasks. Vincent asks me to switch off the main power supply. Okay – I run of to the board and switch of one after the next till I reach the correct one.

When I get back to the phone it is dead. Since I have a phone together with a fax machine, it runs with electricity. Quickly, I put the power back, and of course, Vincent is gone, Oh no – do I need to start all over again? It is now 11.30 AM, and my family planned to go to Cyberjaya to check something out.

Okay, let's do it – I dial the number again. Press 1 for Bahasa, Press 2 for English. All is okay, I shortly stuck again, since I cannot remember that I have to wait for the “8”, but than, I am back in line. Position 15. Grrr. But somehow, somehow they must have kept my number since suddenly, I jump the line and can talk to another guy. No Vincent.

I tell him what happened, and he only asks me, if the Astro dish belongs to us or management of the Condominium. No – it is not mine. He replies that apparently, there is nothing wrong with my receiver, that I would have to check with management and it doesn’t work, Astro would have to send someone over to help. That was a five minute thing. So short?

What I like at the whole service is the friendliness of the customer service representatives. They are really nice and try to help - Vincent, if you read this : Thanks Vincent, a job well done.

I hate part with the machines. I didn’t like that the customer service is number 8, after transmission errors, which has got number 7 (but 8 brings luck). Surely this is done to avoid that everyone is straight going for the customer service and totally blocks the lines with the little things. Everybody likes to talk to persons instead of to machines. But it is a bit confusing.

My opinion is as well, that the human touch is lost when all you have is machines. This is a great chance for Astro to “bond” with their customers. But while I listen to the endless repetition of the tape, I get angry, uptight, whatever. None of the ads convinced me to change my package or subscribe to something new. Nothing worse than getting off the line with the jingles in my mind.

The big question is: is this really successful? Do people quickly change their mind, when their service is down, that they don’t want to talk to someone anymore, but instead, that they want to subscribe to Astro Box Office Movie Packages? Or, that the moment their service is up again, they call back to subscribe to something new? My need at that point of time is to get my receiver fixed. Nothing more. It is okay to go through the first steps – although improvements are possible – but the other promotion that I have to listen to is just pushed down my throat.

Well, my wife hopefully has the time to talk to our building management today. If not, I might be back in the line - starting position 15.


Malaysian Food Guide

Don't know where to eat? Try this webpage.

I once heard that it is difficult to pinpoint THE Malaysian culture. There are Indians, Malays, Chinese, the "Aborigines and "Others". So many cultures and one meltpot - but than, coming to Malaysia one quickly realises that the Malaysian life very much evolves around food, so may be food and eating great stuff is the Malaysian culture?

Well, I read about the webpage this morning, and liked what I saw. So check it out, the next time you want to Buka Puasa at a different place.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Words can make a difference

Words can make a difference. What sounds better? I was greatly satisfied with my food in this restaurant. Yawn. I would rather say, WoW, the food and the service blows me away. May be it is semantic, but it changes the whole thing, I believe.

That is why we also set BHAG – Big Hairy Audacious Goals. Nothing small. I want to grow my business by 2 percent next year. Yuks. "I want to double the size of my business". May be too ambitious now, but you get the message.

Sony is launching a Playstation Portable in Japan, in the end of the year. Their main competitor? Nintendo's Game Boy and its souped-up successor Game Boy Advance that already sold almost 120 million units worldwide and is in the market for more than a decade.

Ken Kutaragi, head of the Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) division and best-known as the father of the PlayStation is quoted by Newsweek (Oct. 25, 2004) as saying:

“I have music, I have pictures, I 'd have games but I have no time. I set up a nice home theater in my house, but I cannot watch. Many times I would take United Airlines, Singapore Airlines, but their movies are very shabby. Game Boy is nice, but it's only for kids playing games. This [he holds up a phone] is still improving, but for watching a movie or playing a game, it's not the best solution. So we introduced this product to change the world."

Listen to those words – Change the World. Blows me away. Can’t wait to see that thing. Wanna have it now.

CEO Nobuyuki Idei says that "The PSP is an integration of the whole technology accumulated at Sony," says Idei. "[It can process] anything that crosses your brain cells." Another mindblowing statement - fantastic!

Sure, Sony’s Playstation Portable apparently has problems with battery life, and software title. Sure, this destroys the value chain – I understand. But those words, sentences show ambition, readiness to take on the world, energise, greatly expand the universe.

On the other hand, what is their main competitor, Nintendo saying about their own new product, the Nintendo DS? (that, by the way, will appeal to the same audience)

Their president Satoru Itawa says that "We try to appeal to everybody regardless of their age, sex or game-playing experience."

What is your opinion? Am I exaggerating? Are words important for companies in today's highly competitive world?

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Traffic during Ramadan

I don't want to write an exclusive and intensive overview but there is something that I think is really different in traffic situations shortly before the break of fast. The behaviour of many drivers becomes extremely dangerous and very, very selfish. Cutting in, extremely fast driving, pushing other cars to the side (!!), overtaking when there is hardly any space or traffic is oncoming. Have you encountered similar situations?

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Just letters - but what a fun page

I found this link over at Smart Mops - you have to see this.

Letters moving on a webpage. Nothing special. Until you realise that other people drag those letters from one place to the next.

Actually - I took one letter that someone dragged and just put it elsewhere. WoW, this person on the other side grabbed it back and took it back. Interesting also, that letters that are located at the side of the page are not that much used. People concentrate on those letters in the middle - one observation. Don't know what it tells me. Others try to write words. Real good. Basic communications. Wah - check it out and tell me what you think.

Here is the link again: (or click at the headline)


The world is hoping for another president

Do I get into hot water here with another political comment? Not sure - but I want to show the data that were published in the New Straits Times (Malaysia) yesterday (quoting The Guardian of the UK). This follows another entry into this blog about the opinion about the US elections in Asia

Three questions were asked in the survey. The first

Question: Would you prefer to see the election ofGeorge W Bush of John Kerry on Nov 2?

(First number Bush, second Kerry)

Australia 28/ 54%
Britain 22/50
Canada 20/60
France 16/72
Israel 24/30
Japan 30/ 51
Mexico 20/ 55
Russia 52/ 48
S-Korea 18/ 68
Spain 13/ 58
Average 27/ 54

Those are dramatic numbers. I read somewhere else earlier that in Africa there are only two countries supportiveof Bush.

There are more questions in the survey, indicating that the majority of people actually have a favourable opinion of Americans - the average is 68% to 23% for favourable with Mexico and Spain being the closest:

Mexico is 51% for favourable and 43% for unfavourable andin Spain, 47% of the population thinks favourable to 32% unfavourable.

The third question is inquiring about the opinion about the invasion of Iraq.

By far the majority, however, said that the invasion of Iraq was wrong (right :25% wrong 68% on average).

What does it say? Well, we still like Americans, and are able to distinguish between politicians per se and the people who live in the US. Most believe that the invasion of Iraq was wrong.

This can have some implications for business, medium to longterm. I believe that currently, US businesses are still seen as okay, but if there is no change in policies, or no communication or whatever, perceptions might change, as the emergence of several products that were clearly directed agains US MNCs over the last year or so have shown.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Marketing lessons from Cha Cha Clown

Well, once again, my kid was invited to a birthday party last Sunday and once again did I have the pleasure of Cha Cha Clown - or, as he is called in his real life, Mike. The last time I saw him was mid-September and I actually wanted to "hire him" for my own kid's party. Than, he wasn't available.

Was does this mean? Well, he is busy, and he is in demand. I heard one has to book him 2 months ahead. So while his program didn't change over the last couple of weeks - how often is a clown changing his "inventory"? - the kids enjoy him.

He is able to control a larger or a smaller bunch of kids, and that is not always easy, I tell you. He doesn't lose his patience, but engages the kids in a great way. This is not always easy with kids that are young and tend to get on the row once they are amongst friends. But he talks to them, plays with them, engages them in games, and magic show. It is wonderful to see kids sitting quietly at the right time, and mesmerised look at him and his show.

He doesn't denigrate the kids or the parents in his jokes or when he involves them in his show. I have seen it with other clowns whose jokes were hurtful to parents or children. Parents may realise this, and that is why they recommend Cha Cha to the next parent.

It is Word-of-Mouth advertising, since Cha Cha will probably not be able or even willing to advertise in the newspapers, radio or television. And it shows that a great reputation can lead to success in the marketplace. doesn't advertise anymore as well, since they found out by testing, that advertising didn't bump up sales. So Jeff Bezos said that they rather reduce prices of goods than advertise their company. Well, Cha Cha takes the opportunity to "pose" when he see a camera - he actually stopped a second or so when he saw my camera, to give me a good shot. He knows that I will talk about him, and he didn't mind that I will write about him and also that I forwarded the picture to He gave me his business card before I told him that I write something about him. He didn't ask me for mine - so naturally, I won't here from him. He knows I will contact him or at least consider him, when I need "his service". As a corporate lesson - there is no direct marketing, he won't call me up to sell his services, and I am not endangered that he sells my personal details to another institution.

So these are some of the management and marketing lessons that I learnt last Sunday from Cha Cha Clown. And, yeah, I would recommend him to others. Follow the link above to get to his contact points

Monday, October 18, 2004

Asia is hoping for another president

Or so could the interpretation go.

I don't want to get involved too much in a public debate which president will be better for the rest of the world, however, I have the strange feeling that this is a crucial election, not only for the US, but for the rest of the world.

As such, I decided to link to this article that was published by ChannelNewsAsia and follows a variety of other related articles last week.

All those articles clearly state that there is hardly any support for a continuation of President Bush's reign in the US. This is not to say that Kerry will be the better president, but it confirms his early statement in the election run-up when he said that leaders across the globe told him that he has to win this election.

It is probably more a choice between Pest and Cholera - I heard this description once to describe the choice that Germans had for an election in German when the choice of the candidates was seen as a choice between, yeah, Pest or Cholera - so don't flame me for this.

Anyway, look at the numbers:

56 percent of 1,730 responses favoured Kerry against 21.5 percent for Bush.

54 percent of respondents in Australia supporting Kerry while only 28 percent backed Bush.

South Korea:
Split over Bush's perceived hawkish stance

"Some Asians -- particularly in India, Thailand and China -- are apathetic about the US poll, but others have strong views crystallised by US foreign policy issues that affect them at home: the war on terror; economic policies on protectionism and outsourcing; and potential regional flashpoints such as North Korea and Taiwan."

Another newspaper ( wrote that "in 10 countries worldwide, including Israel, the results of a public opinion poll commissioned by leading newspapers in advance of the American presidential election were published on Friday. The results were surprising in their one-sidedness: In nine countries, public opinion about President George Bush was negative, generally by a large majority; only one country, Israel, liked Bush - again by a large majority. Both aspects of this phenomenon are interesting: the negative attitude toward Bush, and Israel's bucking of the international trend."

So it looks as if only in the US is a deadlock between the two candidates. And I try to do my little bit to show those that read my blog in the US that there are opinions outside of the US that hopefully matter to some. Especially since I just read that Bush has gained a eight percent lead over Kerry.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Happy Birthday has been trademarked

There is a strong movement against copyrighting of material with the argument that it stiffles innovation. This is the reason why Creative Common becomes so successful, since they take a more flexible look at it.

There is now this Chinese company called Fufeng that trademarked the wods "Happy Birthday", what means that no other company can use the words together with their products without paying royalties.

Their argument is that with "increasingly fierce competition in the world toy market, the company realized the importance of branding. They were inspired to register the "well-known and pleasant phrase 'happy birthday""

I think that this is a major blow to other companies that used the words in a generic and happy sense. Imagine, no more toys with happy birthday, no cakes or anything.

And this has nothing to do with branding, but only with plain selfish egoism. Someone should tell the little kids that, well, no more cake with Happy Birthday because someone is branding the words somewhere else. Phhhh.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

News Junkie

I love to read - a lot. No, not trivial literature, but magazines and newspapers and books - mostly management books. Don't let me in a bookshop - I most of the time have too many choices to buy and in the end, spend way too much.

I am pretty happy that my job involves a lot of reading, and that my company subscribes to a bunch of newspapers and magazines. They are for the office, but since hardly anybody reads magazines, I am the one who grabs them first and reads them first.

My company subscribes to the following magazines:

- BusinessWeek
- Fortune Magazine
- Harvard Business Review
- Malaysian Business

As newspapers, we have:

- New Straits Times
- The Star
- The Sun
- The Edge

I am in research and my research involves reading a lot, also material from overseas publications usually not available in Malaysia or via usual newsstands - I am talking about scientific magazines such as HR Magazine, or Organisational Dynamics. This is possible through our subscription to online databases. Those give me access to 30,000 + magazines and newspapers. Tremendous, the material that I find. From really good stuff to stuff that hardly interests me.

When I research a company or industry, there are always the little jewels that keep me interested, about branding and marketing, or case studies of how a company turned around, explored new markets and finally succeeded in their business. Fascinating. Those are the stories that I collect, so to speak.

In addition to this, I buy books that relate to my job - management books, as stated already. So I read the Tom Peter's, Michael Treacy, Gary Hamel, C.K. Prahalat, Michael Porter, Seth Godin and Clayton M. Christensen and other little gems like Adam Morgan or Malcolm Gladwell. It is fascinating - and I am not reading the books only once but a lot of times. Just standing there, browsing in the books and reading a chapter or two. Most of the times I read at least 3 or 4 books at the same time. There are books that I read in the morning, books that I read before I sleep, books that I read when there is advertisement on television (if I watch television, that is).

I am constantly reading, learning, understanding patterns, seeing connections - taking a point from here, developing it further there, and changing the substance over there.

All those learning go into my work and I believe that I am pretty good at what I am doing. There is nothing more fun than researching the background of an industry and analysing the different company positioning according to different articles or documentations. So many contradictions and it is "my job" to evaluate and identify some kind of truth (is there such thing?).

This means including a lot of own ideas from the stuff that I found, read and digested. It is interesting to talk to people about what I learn - get challenged and pass knowledge on. Some of my colleagues call me a walking library. Others say that whatever I am talking about there are numbers that I spit out that come from somewhere.

For many, this might sound boring - but I am learning everyday, challenge my own thinking and change my position accordingly. The best part of this is that I frequently understand both sides of an argument or a position. And that is the great part of it and an ability that is sorely missing in today's world.

Well, basically, I am a news junkie - but it is one kind of addiction that I enjoy.


My last conference - Business Intelligence in Asia

I now attended to this conference about Business Intelligence and Customer Relationship Management in Asia. I get those invitations every now and than and as mentioned in an earlier blog, I love to speak. It is nice to be in front of the audience. Especially if the crowd is not that big. This time, there were about 50 or so participants. A great number, since it allows interactivity (hey, am I back to this point now, again?). The audience was a mixture of tech people, and marketing or analyst people, with some sprinkled in between that had a financial background.

My topic was "Crafting an effective effective customer segmentation strategy or.... New ways to reach your customer". May favourite topic - the danger was that I would bore the tech people since I was not going to talk their language.

Well, it was fun, all in all. I had enough stories to tell, about Malaysia and about the rest of the world. The audience asked a lot of questions and contributed to the story - something that I appreciate, although it can be difficult if there is one that wants to be difficult or one, that simply asks so many questions that I run out of ideas.

The interesting piece, so, came after the conference, yesterday in my office. One of the participants that I also talked to, created an online forum in Yahoo, and invited those that participated in the conference to join. This is great. There is always the danger that the learning of a conference fades away the moment you come back to the office. If it is a workshop that coaches new skills, they might fade away in face of all the old staff that is cluttered in your office. So here we have a support group. Fantastic, if we keep it up. Since it helps to reinforce what was learnt. Is this the new way of doing things? I simply love it - since it shows continuous interactivity and the willingness to take things forward.

Friday, October 15, 2004

One funny joke

Joi Ito had a link to this joke on his page and I thought it is worthwhil distributing it further. Joke Time:

"President Bush goes to an elementary school to talk about the war. After his talk, he offers to answer questions.

One little boy puts up his hand and the president asks him his name. "I'm Billy, sir." "And what's your question, Billy?"

"I have three questions, sir. Why did the US invade Iraq without the support of the UN? Why are you President when Al Gore got more votes? And whatever happened to Osama Bin Laden?"

Just then the bell rings for recess. Bush announces that they'll continue after recess.
When they return, Bush asks, "OK, where were we? Question time! Who has a question?"

Another little boy raises his hand. The president asks his name. "I'm Steve, sir." "And what's your question, Steve?" "I have five questions, sir. Why did the US invade Iraq without the support of the UN? Why are you President when Al Gore got more votes? Whatever happened to Osama Bin Laden? Why did the recess bell go off twenty minutes early? And what the heck happened to Billy?"

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Advertising in a sardine tin

I read Jeremey's blog entry about Nokia's advertising blitz in the PUTRA LRT (for those from overseas - this is the innercity train in Kuala Lumpur). He described how every car is plastered with advertisement for the (already older N-Cage). In addition, every station stop is announced with one of their ringtones via the train's loudspeaker system followed by their catch phrase - Nokia ... Connecting People.

Imagine how you feel when you have to go a couple of stations. First of all, the wagons are full - packed, no space to move.

It is early in the morning and you go to work, just fall off the bed and you are tired. Or it is later in the evening and you go home and you just fall of the office chair and you are tired. The person next to you has bad breath, or body odor, or too much makeup, or too much of the perfume that you really can't stand.

However, ringtone business is big business( Now, what better chance as a company in the handphone business to team up with a public train company to spread the news about your great ringtones. Imagine - what opportunity. People cannot run away! They cannot switch channel. They have to listen to your message and it is played loud enough and persistent enough to overwhelm any conversation. What arrogance!

This isn't the interactivity that I wrote about yesterday. In business, companies often lock their customers in - be it in the business-to-business world or business-to-customer world. For instance, locking in means that you sign a contract with a telco provider for a couple of years - its not a great move, according to my opinion, from the telecommunications provider, but this is an entry for another post. Locking in in this situation in the train means that you cannot run away. A silent suffering endures. Will you like it? Some might like it the first time around, may be a second time - but longer?

Some great marketing guy must have thought that this is a great way to scream louder at his or her audience. That this would create business or more loyalty. Will it really?

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Are Blogger artists or: Life is about Interactivity

I got the idea from a fellow blogger - thanks Jon - more about you a bit further down (at least one person will read this to the end)

I believe all of us blog because we are addicted to the statistics, checking our hits on the website, may be a couple of times a day (I wrote about that way back in 2003 - and here We can check on Technorati (, how many links our blog has.

We look for things to blog, the moment we leave the house or even at home - think about and how he blogs about his daily life and the development of his baby. What a fantastic blogging, how "interactive" we felt and still feel with him.

We also check for comments and well, sometimes, the original entries are a bit provocative to get some feedback.

I for my part enjoy it all and I want to thank all of those that read my blog. But do you know I like most at blogging? Blogging is about interactivity - I had and still have some pretty good conversations offline (well, not really offline, but via SMS and e-mails), and got to know a great many people so far. I learn through all of you and that is great. I also learn from those blogs that I read and I read way too many - I am kind of a blog junkie, I would say.

Why does it turn me on? Well, I mentioned the word already - Interactivity. Across my blog, you can also read a lot about experience economy or the new economy, and delighting customers. And I think that this is linked.

Blogging is like dancing in a disco - Jon said recently that blogging is like a piece of music (Check the link to Jon -, a great guy with fantastic ideas whom I met via blogging. I think he is right, since blogging is art. But I thought about it recently and I think that a piece of music that is posted or published somewhere is still not interactive enough.

Dancing in a disco is basically about interactivity - although you can dance pretty much alone as well. You go to a disco, you meet friends and find new friends. You have fun, the music, so loud, is blasting away. You enjoy life, have tremendous fun. The DJ is playing great music - if you don't like it, you go away. Okay - a bit of interactivity is missing, since you don't decide what music to play. But if the DJ is good, he feels the beat, and plays what the crowd requires. He (le's just say, it is a HE) plays music, and let's the guest feel the experience. They scream together, dance together and feel sorry, when the light goes on and the music is over. You don't feel sorry that you spend more than you would if you buy your drink in a supermarket, because it was worthwhile the fun and the experience. It was interactive. You can exceed the fun, and than it becomes a problem, of course, no one is denying this and in this, I agree with Jordan when he wrote about drinking too much ( But I am not writing about drinking too much, I am writing about the experience.

Interactivity exist in a blog as well. You or I want to feel the beat via the comments, and, moreover, I can connect to my "visitors", via their e-mail addresses and enter a conversation, build on the entry and learn. We than develop ideas together, challenge the status quo - see the recent discussion about Jeff Ooi (, or you develop a controversy such as happened yesterday about AirAsia (my blog entry yesterday or Kervin's

Other companies learn as well to develop interactivity. When Lord of the Rings was produced, the company had the chance to develop the film on their own or involve the millions and millions of existing readers and those that discussed the book on the web via their websites or in forums. They did just that - they shared ideas, designs and layouts with a group of people to capture their input. I believe the movie became a better movie through this. If they wouldn't have done it, it could have been a success or not. But at least, people were invited and involved and might have become ambassadors for the movie.

An example closer to home is Akademi Fantasia or The Malaysian Idol series. How interactive can this be? It brings families together and emties the streets in Kuala Lumpur on a Saturday night. How many SMS were send during AF? 150 million, right? More than 30,000 webpages have been created - think about a movement.

May be a better example is slowly developing all around us - the successor to SMS, namely MMS or, already booming, Internet games. Interactivity - you can play with your buddies. The early stages of this was in ICQ or in the different messengers. When companies get this right, they have a booming business - see the following entry at

Interactivity turns me on. I want to go back to what I learnt during the situation, experience it again. May be even get a different feeling all together. It makes my life a WoW - as the event, the situation bursts full of energy, and I know that I will blog about it, tell my friends about, and create a Word of Mouth Movement. Something Worth Talking About, as Tom Peters loves to say it. This is than better than just being satisfied, or which goes beyond anything ever experienced - scintillating and forever staying alive in my memory - it blows me away (one of my favourite expressions!) - Izuan, does this help as an explanation?

I believe there is plenty more to say, so please feel free to comment. Ask yourself - when was the last time you had a great experience? Something that was worth talking about? Was it something that included interactivity, or was it something else?

Monday, October 11, 2004

AirAsia - no more

My wife and kid are coming back tonight. We made the critical decision that they fly to Kedah over the weekend, and come back this Monday.

This meant three crucial things:

1.) My kid skips school today (hope, no teacher reads this :)
2.) He had to complete his preparations for his exams last Friday, since there wouldn't be much time for him to learn over the weekend. A bit worrying, because naturally, he still forgets a lot. Being seven years old, all those things that come naturally to us (money, time, subtraction etc) are still hard to come by for him.
3.) He might be tired on arrival in Kuala Lumpur, has to sleep in the car on the way back from the airport, but would get enough rest to be fit to go to school tomorrow for the tests.

We forgot one thing - Number Three is dependent on one thing out of our control - we booked AirAsia, and this entry, again, is ranting against them and the unreliability of their service. It is really unbelievable - read on!

The flight was booked for 7.50 PM - a great time, since my kid wouldn't go to bed too late. They would arrive at 8.50 PM, and there would be plenty of rest for him.

My wife received a message from them this morning. Imagine - in the morning, announcing a rescheduling for a flight in the evening.

It says: "Urgent! Air Asia Flight Alor Setar - KLIA now retimed to 9.50 PM. Sorry for the inconvenience caused."

What does this mean? That they franatically try to reshuffle flights to cope with their ever-expanding service. Look - they made this announcement 7 hours before the actual flight- 7 Hours !!!

The New Straits Times printed an interview with CEO Tony Fernandes.

One question was:

"Q: What is AirAsia’s focus and near-term strategy?

Tony: Our strategy remains the same. We will continue to offer low fares, develop new routes and add frequencies. We will always be a domestic and regional player. We are not interested in flights longer than three hours"

Let me add to this: Tony, you cannot even cope and keep a 45 minute flight on track. Please don't add new frequencies, but serve better - way better - what you've got already.

Another question:

Q: AirAsia’s biggest draw card has been its cheap fares. What other attractions can AirAsia offer to boost its following?

A: AirAsia’s loyalty is based on low fares.On our attractions: We have one of the best methodologies and one of the easiest ways of buying a seat on our flights. Our Internet (buying of seats through is a huge success. People love the ease of our online booking.We have a first-class cabin crew who are fun, helpful and provide a great service to our guests. We have leather seats, and great food to buy. We have a great network (routes) and huge frequencies to destinations giving more choice.We have super pilots and fantastic engineers and a newly refurbished aircraft. We maintain one of the highest safety standards in the world. All the above for some of the lowest fares in the world.

My comment - thanks Tony - but you don't mention anything about delayed flights, and how you want to cope with those. And reading the letters to the editor in newspapers like The Star or the New Straits Times, there are a lot of related comments.

I loved AirAsia's business model when it came into being in Asia. It developed a new market, tapped new market segments. It didn't serve old markets or competed against established airliners. Its competition are the cars on the road, and it is cheaper to fly AirAsia than to travel by car. At least to some destinations.

It could have been good for the corporate world as well - imagine, when business travel is getting cheaper, people can easily meet, and still keep their projects on budget.

However - all this is gone, gone, gone with great unreliability. I trusted AirAsia, was willing to give my money to them. But my trust is broken. I will relate this stories plenty of time, every time, someone asks me about AirAsia.

This broken trust will stay alive in this weblog. Others will read about it. There is no way that AirAsia will sustain if they continue like this. May be their public listing, which makes them accountable to stakeholders, will help them getting back on track. But would I buy shares if I could? Nope - they don't deliver. They live on their cheap price. But cheap prices are no differentiator longterm.

For the time being, and until I am convinced by plenty of stories that tell me the opposite:

AirAsia ? No more !!

Saturday, October 09, 2004

I am lost - no title for this story

I have no idea what I am thinking of this event. So may be you can help me.

A while ago, my wife and I participated in this great seminar on Neural Linguistic Programming or NLP. basically, it is about how to communicate better with people, create common bonds and avoid aliniating your conversation partner. In addition to the ability to visualise and imagine to achieve your goals. It was fantastic, but this is only the introduction to this story.

I so happens that if one is going to a seminar, the learnings are quickly forgotten. One way out of it is to follow up with your course participants. Since this course was well organised and pretty personal, we developed the ties, and there was a first meeting. We agreed to meet again. It was my turn to organise the next meeting - which was supposed to take place today (but this is not the reason why I stayed at home alone).

Now it didn't take place, because all those invited cancelled. The last one cancelled today. She is a nice woman, friendly, working in insurance. She SMS-ed me saying, "sorry, I cannot make it today." So, a minute or two later (I had my breakfast, so I wanted to sip my coffee deciding on the right course of action), it sms-ed back -"is okay, thanks for informing". I thought that is it. Now comes what I don't really understand. She immediately texted back "sorry - who is this? Please identify yourself". Okay - I took her to task. I texted back - "this is Andreas, and hey, could you inform .... as well, that it is cancelled, please? We have too many cancellations and I don't have her H/P number, left it in the office." (I spell out all the words here). Back comes an "OK".

What is the funny part is that we texted to each other before - and she also asked me a that time, who I was. Now okay, may be I am not THAT important to become an individual on someone's SIM card. But thinking that she is an insurance agent, she should see me as potential target (ooomph - an expression I hate - it is like shoot your customer). But she knows that my wife is also in insurance, so this could be the reason I am not "worthwhile the space on her SIM card.

May be it is not worthwhile writing about it and I might not do it when wife and kid would be here and it would be more lifely in my place (She is at my mum in law's place, and the only time that it is quiet there is when no one is around. It must be the noisiest place in Malaysia).

So yeah - I cannot make sense. But, heck, do I always need to make sense of what is going on?

Friday, October 08, 2004

AlwaysWoW alone at home - and relating wife's odysee with AirAsia

I have something pretty important on on Sunday while my sister-in-law is marrying the same day.

So wife and son is off to the North - avoiding possible watercuts in Kuala Lumpur ( - while I am sitting here, alone, typing away and blog one more entry.

They flew with AirAsia and the flight was supposed to take off at 6.30 PM. She called me shortly before 4.00 PM that AirAsia SMS-ed her saying, the flight is delayed by one hour - now scheduled t0 7.30PM.

Which is fine and great service. Nevertheless - the taxi came at 4.30 PM, so with all the goodwill she had to leave. A taxi driver picked her up that my office is using very often. So I am not worried.

She called me at 7.30 PM - the time of the postponed takeoff, saying that the plane is delayed again. Being my wife she made some noise (I mean this in a friendly manner), got up and checked with the attendant about the reason for the delay. After some hesitation, she was told that their original flight was rescheduled to fly to Kota Kinabalu. Now, they would have to wait for another plane to arrive from Kota Kinabalu, since there was no flight crew. The attendant said he didn't know when the plane from KK would arrive, and after she asked, how come that he wouldn't know, said, in one hour time. Another passenger told her, after she conveyed the story, that this was wrong - a plane from KK takes two hours to reach KL.

So of course, all the delays made sense. She was told through the SMS that the plane was delayed one hour - 6.30 to 7.30. The flight attendant didn't tell that the real delay would be two hours (!!!!!).

At 8.00 PM, the plane's departure scheduled for 8.15 PM, however, since the cabin crew's arrival was only at 8.20 PM, final departure was at 8.30. However, the cabin crew was very friendly.

Passengers were hungry, thirsty and annoyed. The staff offered drinks to the passenger - but the supply ran out after 10 passengers were served. Great. There were kids that were bored, and probably thirsty. In between and while waiting the flight attendant announced that the passengers shouldn't worry anymore, the plane had just arrived and see, here it is.

Nobody laughed and people grumbled. Not very funny. Try to smile when you are angry, and been treated like you've paid nothing for the flight. Hey - I am serious. Being a no-frills airline is one thing, customer service another. Other countries can do both - look at Southwest Airlines - people LOVE the airline for their service and punctuality.

Tony Fernandes, AirAsia's CEO, was not around. He likes to greet people when they are happy, but to jump in when people are angry is another thing - Remember my "Thank You" entry earlier this week? This is another thing that is important - stand up as a leader, when something goes wrong. Admit your mistake.

Well, I am sitting here and blog. But I "try" to enjoy the "bad times". Listen to music that I normally don't listen to. My wife doesn't like all my stuff. Like the Clash, Sex Pistols, AC/DC. Old music, heavy music. Music to play loud. My neighbours probably wish already that the weekend would be over already. I am rocking along. Singing loud. Screaming along. Hopping about. I think that this is okay.

Now - sorry - I have to call my wife. She just landed, send me an SMS about her ordeal


McDonalds - I ' m lovin' it

The evaluation of service or product can be so easy - don't need to be extraordinarily difficult if one is just thinking a bit outside the box.

McDonalds is just doing this in at least one of their outlets in Damansara. They have a simple Smiley Box standing there where one can put in tennisballs. Two choices are given - either you like it or you don't.

Of course, they won't know why someone is happy or unhappy, but they might get a quick feedback if what they are doing is working. If it is not working, they can implement something more elaborated.

What do you think?


Let's get smelly : 700,000 consumers to face water cut

The Star reports this morning that due to maintenance and repair works at the Sungai Laut water treatment plan. Affected are around 700,000 consumers.

"Supply to 221 residential, commercial and industrial areas would be shut off starting from 9am on Saturday and would return in three stages, starting from 9am the following day."

What do I say? Thank you very much.

Thanks for the early notification. Thanks for doing this over the weekend, when most of the consumers will be at home.

I think that this is great customer orientation - it will have the greatest impact.

Imagine the relief on Sunday afternoon, when after two days of sweating, we can finally take to long awaited shower. We will really appreciate this, right?

And it is a good move to keep the youngsters at home and control them - have a family life. Who wants to go out to party, if you cannot shower when you come home - smelling of alcohol, and cigarettes, sweaty from the dancing? So thanks for doing this to the community! Right? Please don't ever doing during weekdays. We wouldn't be able to appreciate it.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Screenshots... and the little "Thanks" that helps so much

I believe the whole situation surrounding Jeff might have finally cleared. And that is great.

And now he extends his Thanks to all. And that shows the humbledness (is there such word - I mean being humble ) of a great person. To be able to stretch out your hand - to friends, foes and woes alike - be responsible, and someone with a strong backbone and move on.

If you carry crutches, you will carry the load throughout your life. And think about it - there is always, always, always the one chance in any situation where there still is a way back, or around an issue. When problems and challenges can be solved. When greater damage can be avoided. I don't only refer to the big things in life here, but also to the small things, the personal ones. So next time you have a fight - just stop a second, before you say the "nasty thing" that you mean to say - stop this one crucial second, and think, how you would feel when you would hear what you are about to say. Frequently, we would bite our tongue and wouldn't say it. So, may be, instead, calm down, stretch out your hand and say - let's talk about it like adults.

Jeff, it is a pleasure to read your blog. I don't comment there because I "hate" signing in, but I appreciate your opinions and the way how you carry ot your "voluntary duties".


How Malaysia really fared in the Olympics

Well, while I hate spam, I like to get jokes in my mail especially real good ones like the ones below.

Inserted comment: Thanks to the awareness of "Premnath" and "Po Ku", I learnt that this originated

Sorry - didn't know it earlier - thanks to those readers (and Izuan joined them shortly ago as well), I can at least attribute it to the right person.

How Malaysia really fared in the 'Olympic' Games


VCD Peddlers' 10000 km Relay Race
1) Malaysia
2) China
3) Thailand

Long Distance Bus Racing(Individual)
1) Malaysia
2) India
3) Vietnam

Composing SMS While Driving (Individual)
1) Philippines
2) Malaysia
3) India

Cub Chai Night Street Racing(under125cc)
1) Malaysia
2) Vietnam
3) Cambodia

Creative Spitting(over25m)
1) China
2) HongKong
3) Malaysia

Crow Shooting
1) Malaysia
2) USA
3) SriLanka

Feng Thou Endurance Dancing(Individual)
1) Malaysia
2) Indonesia*
3) Thailand

*disqualified after fake Ecstasy was found in contestant's

Maid Car Wash & Polish(Speed Event)
1) Malaysia
2) Singapore
3) HongKong

Ah Beng Creative Hair Tinting
1) Singapore
2) Malaysia
3) Taiwan

Ah Lian Butt Crack Display(Synchro Squatting)
1) Malaysia
2) Taiwan
3) Singapore

Credit Card Cloning(SpeedEvent)
1) Malaysia
2) USA
3) HongKong

Obstacle Driving(Dining Tables Category)
1) Malaysia
2) Thailand
3) France

Bets Taking(Bookies Event)
1) HongKong
2) Malaysia
3) Indonesia

Forest Burning(Team)
1) Indonesia
2) Malaysia
3) Brazil

Vehicle Hot Wiring(Individual)
1) Malaysia
2) USA
3) Mexico

"Michael Learns To Rock" Lyrics Recital
1) Malaysia
2) Singapore
3) Denmark

Speed Packing(Buffet Spread Category)
1) Singapore
2) HongKong
3) Malaysia

Firefly Killing(Speed Event)
1) Malaysia
2) SriLanka
3) Korea

Coral Collecting(Underwater Event)
1) Singapore
2) Malaysia
3) Australia

Handbag Disarming(Snatch Category)
1) Malaysia
2) Colombia
3) Italy

Kuda Gaming Machine(Skills Challenge)
1) Malaysia
2) Japan
3) Cambodia

Indoor Prawn Fishing(Team)
1) Malaysia
2) Thailand
3) Laos

Installing Hidden Cams(Hotel/Condo Category)
1) Taiwan
2) Malaysia
3) Singapore

Power Windows Speed Winding(Team)
1) Germany
2) Japan
3) Malaysia *

* Disqualified after national car's power window
jammed permanently

Women Beach Volleyball(Men SMS Voting)
1) Malaysia
2) Afghanistan
3) Iraq

E-Mail Jokes Forwarding(Speed Challenge)
1) Malaysia
2) Singapore
3) G.Britain


Woman married two men

The New Straits Times really develops capabilities to unearth this kind of stories.

First we have the guy who married 53 times in his life, now we have the woman who has been ordered to separate temporarily from her two husbands.

Syariah prosecutor Abu Bakar Abdullah Kutty is quoted as saying: "The matter in contention here today is that two marriages have taken place between a woman and two men in a year. The prosecution views this as something unusual, and shocking to say the least."

Help me out here - how is it again when a man is marrying two women? In certain areas of the society it is also not allowed, but we have an ongoing discussion in Malaysia about men marrying 4 women (so apparently the ratio is very small). I don't want to get into trouble here, so that is why am censoring myself :). For once!

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Speaking assignments and stagefright

From time to time, I am invited to speak at conferences - I wrote about this earlier. Now, yesterday was the first one, and next week is the next.

I like to speak at conferences. There is a thrill in it. Before my turn is up, there is this sitting at the podium. The MC announcing the different speakers for the particular session. Announcing the speaker, and the topic of the speech. Reading the speaker's biographical background - the speaker gets up to the stage, and thanks the MC for the announcement. Some thank the MC for all the glorious words - while most of the time (if not always, the biography has been written by the speaker).

There is this adrenaline rush before I go onto the stage. The stage fright that does not go away after all these years of assignments and is there, even if I present something to my colleagues, who are a friendly audience. The first few words and the strange sound that my voice makes. My own introduction, which trained as I learnt that this is my own way to get used to my voice. A little bit of a joke to enlighten the audience and to develop some bonding with the audience.

After a while things turn out normal and it is fun. I know my material, the slides just run down. I have many pictures - don't like too much text. There is this rule that there shouldn't be more than 3 bullets points and six words per line - that is what is said. I think it is better to have less words and a great picture. And talk to the visuals. This addresses those in the audience who like to have visuals and those that prefer audio.

I don't like those speakers who read from their slides - which is the most boring part. But it is tough, of course, because it is easier to read than to learn your material.

But the audience is most of the time there for two reasons. They are interested in the topic (if they haven't been forced to go by someone else, like their own company). So, most of the time, they are friendly. And they think that you have something to share. May be a new perspective, or something that they do know from before.

They most of the time don't realise that you are scared or nervous. It is called "your own space". Your own space, your own awareness. The speaker thinks that he or she is so nervous that everybody will see it - what makes things worse. They are okay with you. But they fall asleep, if the speech is boring, there are no jokes, no enlightenment, the speaker just reads.

So yeah, I enjoy it. Yesterday, I clearly talked to an audience who wanted to learn. That is okay. Next week, it is more complicated. I am speaking about customer experiences and the decline of traditional advertising. This despite the fact that a lot of people in the industry talk about the coming boom of advertising in Asia. But I believe there are different ways to reach your audience nowadays. I don't like direct mail, pop-ups or advertisements in TV. So I am presenting about companies that don't do this anymore. Challenge - the audience comprises of marketers. Will they like what they hear? I don't know, but it will sure be more challenging than yesterday.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

53 marriages in a lifetime - for just one guy?

Please tell me that this is not going into the Malaysian Book of Records. The New Straits Times provides front coverage to a guy who married 53 time and proudly announces that his shortest marriage lasted just 2 days and the longest 20 years. He divorced all but one of the women.

Is this something to celebrate? Isn't it more like .... (oh - please fill in the blanks yourself or send a mail, if you want me to fill in the blanks - otherwise, I am going to get sued!!)

NST really runs out of reasonable stories - first Jeff Ooi and now this.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Before applying, check out the blogs

CNet has a great article today - how do you send out a resume? Well, most of the resumes that I see in my job are boring. Don't stand out. Don't measure up. Don't look anything enticing. And that is important.

Imagine you advertise a position and there are hundreds of resumes that are submitted. Imagine, how boring it is to read the same stuff over and over again. No differentiation. It is just like being in the supermarket and you see the shelves filled up with breakfast cereals. They all look the same. No fun.

Differentiation is everything - stand out from the crowd. Who has ever thought of sending the link of a blog instead of a resume? It is all in there, what? Your thinking, your attitudes, your writing style, even your profile - okay, you might want to change a thing or two in the profile, but basically that is you. No need to make up for a lot more.

There was once a recruitment ad from Yahoo that specifically asked you to send the link to your webpage. - now that surely is a differenting factor!! I would happily go to the link and check it out.

Well, that is it in the US or may be Europe - would it work in Asia (besides with those like me)? Do "corporate captains" in Asia actually know the expression "blog"? Or "blogger"?

Just imagine you write - for more information about me, check out my blog .... - Hm - makes me wonder.

But: Turn the argument around - how many blogs would stand up for public scrutiny as well? Would you send your link along?


Coffee and cola are addictive

Adoh here goes my health. I stopped smoking 10 years ago - down from 1 1/2 packages a day to zero. And never looked back - well, once or twice, and decided, internally, that I will start smoking again when I am 65 years old. Stopping to smoke was like learning to live again. There were so many things that I had to do a first time without a cigarette. Getting up in the morning, partying, meeting friends and discuss, the cigarette after lunch, diner, before sleeping and so on. And the cigarette after coffee.

I also stopped to drink cola - well, every now and than, I do have a coke, but most of the time, I try to skip carbonated drinks. But I love coffee, and drink way too much of it.

Not much coffee in a cup, but the amount of cups is high - may be about eight. One in the morning to get up, one at about 10 AM, at 11.30 PM, at 2.00 PM, 4 PM and 6 PM (sometimes, I skip the 4 PM one with a Teh Tarik).

I mix it with sugar, milk powder and Milo - okay, my spoon can stand in it, that i how thick the brew s. The joke of the office. But the Milo eliminates the bitter taste of the coffee.

My wife tries to persuade me to reduce the intake or stop it totally. Says, it is unhealthy, while I tried to find arguments that coffee is healthy. It is always a pro and con, isn't it? Now they are saying that coffee is addictive. Adoh - I don't want to stop that habit. Doesn't hurt anybody, does it? Only that I need to wash my cup heavily, since all that stuff in the cup is too much for the water to dilude.

But it is sad that all the good and fun stuff in life is just not good for your health. Well, I just need to wait a while until a new study is published saying tht coffee is healthy. It will be one sponsored by the coffee industry but do I care? As long as I can avoid that my wife finds this current study somewhere online!

Friday, October 01, 2004

Branding Malaysia

A group has been established to promote the branding of Malaysia. They are correctly saying that branding is not about having logos like the Petronas Twin Tower (didn't know that this is a logo - I thought it is a tower) - but that branding is about projecting positive attitudes and behaviour.

Well, branding is also about negative behaviour etc - this is called negative branding. But I am fine with the effort.

They are saying, in the article, that the group was formed from representatives of corporations, some professionals and academics.

Sounds bad to me. What I am worried about is that only men are engaged in this. May be even older men - and well established ones.

What I hope for:

- There are a lot of women involved in the group as women are the future

- There are a lot of youngsters involved, those that have different opinions and those that are mainstream

- There are a lot of different groups involved, from Taxi drivers to squatters to foreigners to, yeah, professionals as well

- There are different ethnic groups involved

- There are different religions involved

- There are people from different states involved

I think I could continue - who else could be added?

Make the group a WoW, not just some people sitting around a table and develop a paper. Uuha - how boring could THAT be. A paper with 10 or 20 or 30 recommendations at the end. This wouldn't change anything. People that only talk amongst themselves? As a solution to branding?

Anyway - we need diversity more than anything in this group. Diversity rocks and beats conformity by length. Be different, be challenging, and have fun. Only than will solutions found that tick in peoples mind and change something. Communicate, communicate, communicate - to us the Rakyat. To those involved. Ayoh - could go on endlessly but this is too important to be left alone to a bunch "representatives from professional bodies"



I am all for debates. There is currently the debate between Kerry and Bush in the US and apparently, Kerry didn't perform too bad last night in the first debate. It seems that Bush was great in the first 30 minutes, but lost his train of thought (if he ever....) after that. May be that is all what is there - lack of concentration after 30 minutes, I don't know.I loved election debates when I was in Germany. Before the elections and when the elections were over. Nothing livelier than some hardcore and emotional scenes - okay, nothing compared to Taiwanese or Korean parliamentary sessions, when delegates beat each other up. I miss those in Malaysia, or when I was in Singapore or Indonesia. Something is missing here. The real discussions, the challenges on TV, in the radio.

Not the "always-so-polite-beating-around-the-bush" tendencies. The interruptions and reiterations.I loved the election fever when I was way younger, back in Germany and how they went on for a couple of weeks before the actual date. Hearing the different candidates speaking life in the center of the town. They came to address their "Rakyat". Somewhere behind somewhere were the hagglers - dependent on the party, I was amongst them, for sure, when there was the great debate in Europe about war and peace and the installation of cruise missiles and Pershing (no shame about this!!) - does anyone remember this or know about this?

I remember that a group of us had whistles and we were loud. So more than 100 meters away from the speaker, we realised that we irritated him. The police were also angry and asked us to stop the whistling or they would take away our whistles. So, well, to spite them, I whistled on my fingers. Never will I forget the expression on the police guy's face.

Was I bad? Yeah, sure – but I believe that opposition is part of growing up. One can call it generation gap, or also starting to formulate an opinion. It forced me to read a lot of the papers from the parties that I don't agree with, and to learn to think through both sides. To see both sides without getting angry - real angry. To smile at those who lost their temper and steamed of.Ha - I discovered something that I miss. There is not much that I miss here. I miss the forests in Germany, the sunsets, the parks, and the public transport system. Now I miss election debates as well. Hm!


Garbage in Malaysia - I didn’t know this

It has been published before, I believe but now, in course of my work, I came across this numbers published by The Edge Singapore (Sept. 27).

It says that “16,000 tonnes of garbage are produced a day and by 2020, it will be 21,729 tonnes. Between 1997 and now, the amount of garbage generated has increased by 14%. Meanwhile, only 3% of the junk is recycled even as the landfills are stuffed to the hilt. Operators have warned that many of the landfills have to be decommissioned soon.”

This is 16,000 tonnes a day - this is an amazing number, mind-boggling. Goodness, guys. Wake up, you are covering Malaysia in garbage!!!

Really scary, but fits with my recent entry ( ) – I realize that there are still many things that I haven’t heard of in Malaysia. Well, apparently, with the recent ratification by Parliament of the Solid Waste Management Bill, changes will knock at the door might come. Hopefully! Although its been table since a long time (since 1997). I just hope that the new administration will push it through, throws the wheel around, is doing something.


Water and Bullies

There might be way to many stories in my blog about cars and driving styles of car drivers (just follow the link to see one letter to an imaginary car driver (, but I finally found a method that works against those @*#^%# that drive way too close to my car.

You know which cars I mean: Those cars that are that close that you can see the nose hair of the driver, the frowning on their face.

I use the windows wiper - the one, that splashes water on my car window. It has always worked so far. One second, they nearly kiss my boot - the next second, they keep a sufficient distance. And clean their window.

Mean? Yeah - but let forward the question - who is meaner, or more dangerous?


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