Tuesday 15 May 2018

Are Top Salespersons Born or Trained?

Every once in a while, this nature versus nurture question will pop up.

Most of the time, the heated discussions often are merely "talk male-chicken" in nature, with no consequences to your daily lives.

You know what? 

I was asked this question in a job interview when I was 25.

Its for a recruiter position at a global insurance giant.

What's a recruiter? 

Its to recruit, train, and coach insurance snake-oils to sell for the agency. Its a shepherd position. Wink.

Sitting across the desk is the interviewer. Young man in his late 20s.He is the typical Teochew "pui nei nei" (chubby), fair and educated looking type.  

Behind him sits a "chow ah beng" (face you like to punch) looking man in his 40s. Dark like 非洲华侨 (African). Oily face full of craters like the moon. Very rude. The whole time reading his notes. Ignored me. I am guessing he is the boss of the agency.

The "pui nei nei" interviewer asks, "Are salesmen born or trained?"

"They are born," I replied with a straight face.

The "chow ah beng" boss finally stops his reading, looks up at me. I've got his attention.

The interviewer turned back to his boss with an expectant look that tells me I must be the only one who gave them a different answer. Great! Half the battle won...

"Why? And what's the point of us recruiting you then?" The interviewer continued.

"An unpolished diamond looks exactly like an unpolished glass bead.

Training is the act of polishing the stones. 

A polished glass bead will outshine an unpolished diamond.

But no matter how much I polish any glass beads, they will never outsparkle a polished diamond!"


Do you think I got the job?

Thursday 10 May 2018

Well, that's regime change for you!

It happened to Japan. 

Although after trying change, it quickly went back to the tried and tested - same old, same old. 

It happend to Taiwan too. 

Flip flop like roti prata. Very messy; but all so very entertaining!

But did anything changed for the better? 

It happened to Myanmar also.

And then its heard no more... (Strange or not?)

Someone in America did promise change. Yes we can!

He is considered black by the world, but in Singapore he would be considered "white".

(Its better to be the one who writes the rules, no?)

Now someone with funny hair has taken over from him and undoing all the previous "yes we can" changes...

Well, that's "democracy" for you!

60 years not a short time. Now its history...

In politics, there are no permanent friends; and there are no permanent enemies.

Former mentor and protege had become enemies, and now back into an alliance together.

It would be interesting to see promises made when there were a common enemy will be honoured once the common enemy is no more...

And if the promise is honoured, talk about success is what we have to sacrifice to achieve it!

All those years in and out of prison...


I'll bet someone is taking notes. 

Next time want to appoint just appoint. Let's not get into that farce ever again... 

Anyone with half a brain all knew what you were up to. It's like trying to hide a balding head with comb over - who's kidding who?

We certainly are living in interesting times!

With so many regime changes in recent years...

Its almost like in the 60s where former colonial countries broke away and became fully independent sovereign states who can finally chart their own destinies.

Tuesday 8 May 2018

We see what we want to see

Sometimes, we hear of so and so dropped out of school to pursue an acting or singing career after that person got sudden fame due to winning a talent contest.

Of course there will be concerned parents and "friends" that will say better to finish school first...

Its the same if you want to quit work to be an entrepreneur...

How can you start just like that?

Got money? Got do market research? Got business plan? How about Vision? Mission Statement? (Notice its all about "parroting" theories they have learnt? Sounds smart but empty words) These are the "planners" that surround you. They have got their lives all worked out in advance. Cross the t's and dot the i's.

Eh, how often do opportunities come in our lives?

Never heard of make hay when the sun shines?

Hit iron when its still hot? 

I think you know what I'll quote next. Wink.

Yup, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg all never finished their university education. You mean when an opportunity of a lifetime drops on your lap, you'll turn it down?

"Sorry, I need to stick with my study hard and work hard goals and plans first."

"Cannot! First, I need to secure an emergency fund. Then I need to build up a bigger opportunity fund. Very risky to borrow money for startups you know!? Then I also need another recovery fund so that in case my startup venture fails, I'll have capital to start all over again..."

Moving the goal posts procrastination masquerading as "sound planning".

Then there are those who "do".

Plans and goals will flow naturally when we have jumped into the deep end. Paddle hard or drown! Now that's clarity and sense of urgency for you!


Of course many will fail. 

You mean setting goals and plans come with money back guarantees? Like "bao jiak" durians?

I've missed many opportunities through procrastination and over thinking.

Luckily, I've grabbed hold of some and here I am. Lucky as lucky does!

I've learnt life is more about the decisions you have or have not made. 

Decision is "do". Make no mistake about it.

That's why so many dare not make decisions on their own. 

Its more comforting to seek permission, to ask for consensus.

Got someone to blame if things don't work out mah!

And by the way, I just know that school and work are always there if we failed and need to go back to them.

That's comforting, isn't it?

Tuesday 1 May 2018

How to lower your input costs

Introduce competition!

When Uber first came to Singapore, you were glad didn't you? What's not to like with all the discounts you were getting from normal cab fares?

When Grab joined into the fray, life couldn't get any better, wasn't it?

Now that Uber has capitulated and abandoned the Singapore market, all of sudden people were writing to big daddy to monitor against monopoly and what not!?

As if ComfortDelgro never was a "quasi-monopoly" in the first place...

Deep down you know the days of generous Grab discount codes are numbered...

Similarly, to entice you to switch from traditional credit cards to mobile payments, they have to dangle cash rebates as carrots to your nose. Once these landowners have achieved sufficient scale in customer acquisition, the milking (or monetisation) of their acquired flock will take over.

Just look at how credit card companies were able to increase interest rates, late payment charges, and other fees at will... Well, someone has to pay for the "free" miles and cash rebates, "ah ber then"?

Same goes for mobile telecoms and the internet. Introduce more players into the oligopoly market, all of sudden, consumers got lots of choices at even more competitive prices!

Let's hope the test in Jurong West for electricity liberalisation will be a success. Then all of us will have more options, and lower electricity prices to offset the increased in water prices!

As sheep or shepherd working for landowners, at the back of your head, you know your "value" would increase if more competitors enter into our Singapore market.

Remember the short lived experiment with a 2nd TV operator as in Channel U? Now we need 2 CEOs, 2 CFOs, more producers, more soundmen, more cameramen; etc.

Its not unheard of some amongst those who "defected" to Channel U got double or triple promotions! Want to bet those working now in SPH wished there were more "competition"?

If you are working in the banking industry, even if your bank were not affected, you'll feel the pressure when other banks withdrew from Singapore or cutback on their headcounts...

You know there will be more retrenched and experienced bankers knocking on your HR door.... That may erode your bargaining power end of the year....

As a landowner, if you are sick of paying exhorbitant manpower costs, what would you do?

Automation is one answer:

Driverless MRT trains - you extrapolate from here.

Self ordering and payment machines at cinemas, supermarkets, fast food outlets...

Robo advisors - sorry, I couldn't stop laughing...

I was pleasantly surprised to discover recently Singapore is currently No.2 in the world (behind South Korea) when it comes to using robots!?

I had assumed No.1 would be Japan!

However, not every job can be automated. We still need Man Fridays and Girl Fridays.

So don't hold your breath.

10 million will come whether you like it or not.

Unless you are OK with paying even higher prices.

That's the great paradox.

We welcome competition as we benefit from it ultimately. When it comes to our jobs, we much prefer it to be a monopoly!

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