Monday 31 December 2012

The Success Indicator

I found this simple poster which I like a lot.

I can see myself in both sides. 
Through cheerleading myself over the years, I guess I've developed and trained myself to practice the thoughts and habits on one side more than the other.

Don't get me wrong. It's not about "winning" or "beating" the other person. Everyone should have their own definition of "success".

For me, I do find certain thought processes and habits do make me happier. Hence the motivation to continue!

But one funny thing though. 

I've moved from never setting goals, to setting goals and life plans, and now I am back full circle to not setting goals.

Goal settings and KPIs worked great when I was a shepherd - how else to please my landowner and keep my sheep in line?    

Now that I am a Ronin (masterless samurai), I've no desire to subjugate myself to the same Jedi mind tricks I've used on others in the past. 

I've now switched to visualising techniques used by athletes. 

Instead of setting different separate goals on different aspect of my life - for eg, 5 years from now - I now visualise a holistic picture of:

1) How I want to look and feel.

2) The lifestyle I live.

3) The people and company I would like to keep.

4) My desired experiences.

5) And so on...       

This helps me to avoid the the skewed emphasis most people have when it comes to goal settings.

Frequently, our goal settings fall mainly on work and finances. And maybe health if you had a recent scare.

See What 5 balls? There's no balls; only you!

Thursday 27 December 2012

Review 2012 - I am thankful

2012 is coming to an end soon.

It was a painful transition in the first few months of the year since coming back. The days passed painfully slow...

Not that easy to adjust from a structured life to one where I can hungry eat; tired rest; sleepy nap. Come to think of it, I've been living a "structured" life ever since I started primary 1 in 1974! 

Play, study, work, NS, work. Man! 44 years flew by just like that!?

Year 2012 was me returning to what was life before starting school at 7 years young. Can you remember what was life then when you were 6?

I remember me tagging along with grandma during her morning walks around the neighbourhood. 

And looking out the kitchen window longingly for my elder sibling to come back from school in the blue Volkswagen school van.

When bored, i will play (I think terrorise too) with my younger sibling who is still a toddler.

Yes, life was indeed fun then!

Hang on! Why I am sharing this? What has this got to do with my 2012 review?

Oh! I remember now. Back full circle to play. (I am wearing a big grin on my face)

Today, I accompanied my mom to NUH for her medical review. 

Everything is fine. Next appointment is in 3 months time. I am happy.

The long journey started in March this year. Multiple tests with 5 surgeries thrown in. From 2 medical follow-up appointments a week, to 1 appointment a week, to 1 appointment a month. And today it's a new milestone - 1 appointment every 3 months! 

I am grateful.


What's my achievement in 2012? It's to be around.

3 years ago, I was in Athens, mom went for knee replacement for her right leg and she told my younger sibling - who is the only one in Singapore as both me and my elder sibling were working overseas then - not to let us know least we worry.

Imagine discovering this when I came back during my home leave. How destroyed I felt inside knowing mom was bed-ridden alone at home for 2 months when my younger sibling was working? 

And I had the cheek to be angry with my younger sibling for not telling me! As if I can help being 9000 km away... I am so phoney....

But that's all behind now.   

In 2012, I've earned the privilege to be around.

I say this with gratitude and humility. 

With thanks in my heart, I shall gleefully look forward to 2013!


Tuesday 25 December 2012

senor santa claus - jim reeves

I remember buying a Christmas songs cassette tape while in primary 6 many many years ago. 

There's a Spanish flavoured Christmas song that I love a lot

It's different from the usual Christmas carols.

But ever since I thew away all my cassette tapes, I've not heard this song for the past 30 odd years!?

I am so glad I've found this song this evening in Youtube.  

Hope you'll like it.

Merry Christmas everyone!


Thursday 20 December 2012

Stop worrying about CPI

Recently, it’s fashionable to talk and fret about the increasing CPI statistic – but what has that got to do with you personally?

Do you understand what and how CPI is measured? (Count me in as those not knowing what talking me if a reporter were to ask me the same question that I’ve asked you!) 

For those interested, you can visit this: Consumer Price Index Education Corner

Remember, it’s just a statistical average.

It’s a world of difference between the below same CPI “average” of 5%:

1)      (4 + 6) / 2 = 5

2)      (-5 + 15) /2 = 5

Yup, the same CPI of 5 can mean totally different to two different individuals – depending on your lifestyle, age, and means.

For example, looking at the IT and electronics sales, I swear it’s a deflation out there! I am amazed that we can get the big screen TV, the super-doper notebook, and a whole plethora of home appliances at prices that were lower (with more bells and whistles thrown in) than 3 years ago… What inflation? 

But if we talk about cars and property, I bet for the buyer-to-be, the inflation pain felt is much much more than the published CPI! What do you mean inflation has slowed from 5% to 4%? 

The Young 20 & 30s

Hey! At your age, you should be enjoying life! Don’t be in a hurry to grow old!

I know. Most of us don’t have “scholarship” and “pension” from mom and dad. So must think and fend for ourselves (hurray!). 

Your worry could be about an increase tuition fees. Looking at CPI won’t offer solutions. 

Some of the smarter ones study hard so they qualify for scholarships and/or bursaries. The practical ones work part-time or give private tuition.  

The enlighten “lost” ones may question whether it’s better to work first and come back to school once they have figured what they want to do in life? Hey! Maybe you discover what you like to do don’t need a degree? (I suspect these young ones will make better investors or more likely to strike it out on their own one day)

For the working ones, you may dream of owning a car. Inflation or no inflation, the better question is perhaps how financially literate are you?

Should you buy a new car or a used 2nd hand car (pre-owned is such a rubbish word; just like quantitative easing)?

Or instead of paying off a car loan in 7 years, what if you skip buying a car and after saving for the same 7 years, you now have a “meaningful” capital to start your investing or trading journey? Aren’t you better off than those cynics who “complain” you need money to make money? And that’s after working for 10 odds years…  

Yes, life is about a series of decision points.  

Housing you asked? 

Worry that you can’t afford the place of your own? Come now. You know and I know Singapore is one of those few metropolitan cities where you can afford a place of your own just by working a few years. Note: I say it’s a place of your “own” and not a place of your “dreams”!  

For those of modest means, perhaps you would like to apply the tried and tested 2 bites of the HDB cherry and hop to the private condo route? 

For those with private banking support from mom and dad, you can do whatever you want! Your process is much shorter; but the pleasure is a bit like sex without foreplay. Huh? Ladies out there would understand me. Just ask them. We can’t have everything!

Whether you are single or married, you have 3 broad options:

a)      Live with mom and dad (I better don’t make jokes as I now living with mom)

b)      Rent (You have no chains on your feet but if rent increases...)

c)       Buy (The bank owns you until you pay off your indenture…) 

We won’t know whether this big ticket decision we’ve made is wise until much later in life… 

Retirement 60s

If food and transport prices are a major concern of yours in your 60s, I guess your main concern is more about the ability and opportunity in working after 65.

For those “luckier” ones, I guess your main concern may be the escalating medical costs. If you have left your private medical insurance decision till now, it will cost you for your procrastination…  You didn’t think your generous company’s health and dental benefits will end the day you retire?

Yes, this is the time all the decisions you have or have not made in your past will come flooding back. Please don’t take it out on CPI. 

For those who are asset rich but cash poor, a little bit of inflation does wonders to your net worth. You have more options than your compatriot who is asset light and cash rich – who maybe now sweating hard to find “investments” that can beat inflation. 

It’s not fun to have spent all your working life “saving” and not getting yourself financially literate by getting your hands wet or burnt – now in your 60s, a misstep here can be fatal… 

Mid-life 40s and 50s

No, I’ve not forgotten us. But at this stage of our life, CPI or inflation could be the last of our concerns. 

This is the time where we are more concerned about non-financial stuffs. 

Like whether we should get a divorce? 

It’s the time about affairs and lusts... 

Or whether we should get married and tone down on the focus on career? You are tired…

Some will decide to strike out on their own. If not now, we know we never will!

We question whether we have turned out to be what we envision ourselves when we were young. That’s perhaps why some make mid-life career switches.

We ask is this it?

Are we happy?  

Who cares?

I am not saying inflation or deflation expectations are not important. But empty talk and grousing about CPI will not solve anything.

I repeat: life is about a series of decision points.

It’s what we choose to do or not to do that really counts. 

Tuesday 18 December 2012

The Peacock and the Fox

A peacock was very unhappy with his ugly voice, and he spent most of his days complaining about it.
"It is true that you cannot sing," said the fox, "But look how beautiful you are!"

"Oh, but what good is all this beauty," moaned the dishearten bird, "with such an unpleasant voice!"

"Oh hear," said the fox, "each one has it's special gift. You have such beauty, the nightingale has his song, the owl has his eyes, and the eagle his strength. Even if you had a eloquent voice, you would still complain about another thing."

Sounds familiar?

Make the most of our strengths and skill sets. 

And stop pouring cold water on yourself. There are many who will gladly do that to you - for free!

Friday 14 December 2012

3 Archers Meet

A good day, a glorious day!

Today is when three archers meet

Laughter all round as each has their say

Not gold or silver in what they seek

Only their true hearts they do obey

Monday 10 December 2012

Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay

While Youtube surfing, I came across this song totally by accident.

I was drawn to the uplifting tempo, the catchy rhythm, and the addictive beat of the song. See if you can stop swaying your head and tapping your fingers on your thigh!

I especially love the guitar solo by "Char" in the middle.

But if you listened to the lyrics carefully, they are by far the most despondent, depressing, dispirited, and crestfallen words to a song I've heard so far.

It got me thinking...  Then a sudden flashback to a forgotten memory...

What's your immediate reaction after hearing this song?

And has anything changed after you reflected on the words a little longer

P.S.  Artistically speaking, I am very impressed with the musicians' way of interpreting this song. Would you have sung a sad song this way? 



Thursday 6 December 2012

The nail don't hurt enough yet...

Ah Seng went to visit his neighbour, who had a front garden that extended across the entire front of his terrace house.

On the garden sat the neighbor's dog, howling . . .


Ah Seng asked his neighbor what the dog's problem was . . .


The neighbor said, "he's sitting on a nail."


Ah Seng asked why the dog didn't just move instead of howling


The neighbour said . . . The nail don't hurt bad enough yet . . .

We all know that colleague who always complain the company is so mean, so stingy. Job no prospect, company no future. But after 5 years still in the same job with the same company... it's a bit sad no?

How about the coffee shop uncle in his 60s whining that Singapore impossible to live in. Medical costs too high! Transport costs too high! Property prices too high! It's fun listening until he shared he has relatives already emigrated to other countries... And he boasted he started this tirade when he was in his 30s... What great foresight he had! 

Does your nail hurt enough yet?

Tuesday 4 December 2012

I had fun last night!

Last night, I had a great time (no, not that kind)! 

I was invited by Roy (he got to know me through my blog) to give a talk at the Singapore Microcomputer Society’s weekly seminar:

It was like having a blind date with 14-16 strangers!

Since I have no clue what to say, I decided to use one presentation I gave to our IKEA IT group management when IKEA decided to jump on-board the “out-sourcing” bandwagon.  

Those of you working in IT during recent years would know what out-sourcing means to you personally and your families…I say this with the utmost respect and humility. Since this is a Microcomputer Society, they would understand too? 

I was stationed at Trading Shanghai then. Working with supply chain, we are used to collaborating with carriers, 3rd party service providers, suppliers, distributors, etc. 

Our IT group management were on a worldwide field trip to study how other IKEA organisations handle vendor management before they start their “reengineering” in their own backyard. Shanghai just happened to be one of their pit-stops.  

The essence of my presentation was:

Corporations focus on

KPIs first,
then Business,
then People.

My personal view (the Asian and holistic way) is

People first,
then Business,
then KPIs

I must have touched on some raw nerves last night! I went from speaker to facilitator (phew! It worked according to plan). I spent ¾ of the time listening to the passionate and hot debates between the participants.

The youngest looked 50 plus while the majority are in their 60s. These are the seniors who made Singapore what it is today. I learned a lot last night. I listened.

It was a great night of diversity of opinions and sharing of past personal experiences! 

I used one example of a public listed transport company who in recent years, had lots of challenges with breakdowns, and recently with employee relations…  

I also used the recent PSLE debate as a moot point for discussion on KPIs first or people first? (If you have recruiting experience, do you look at the PSLE results of your interviewees? LOL! Much ado about nothing right?)

Of course I managed to squeeze in putting People first may help in our investing/trading journey. (No, I not telling you! If want to learn more, you have to invite me!)

At the end of the day, I merely borrowed with pride the Chinese medicine way of diagnosing and treating illnesses. 

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