Knot That Got Unravelled

knot-1110536_1920When I started in the business many years ago, there were many people along the way whom have contributed to my growth. Some in a good way, some gave examples at how I should not be. These people came in so many forms – family, friends, vendors, bosses, colleagues..and I think it is important to realize that “they” are there, at that exact moment to provide you with life lessons – just when you needed it.

Think about it as learning-on-demand. In HR terms, learning-on-demand is a knowledge-based learning and it can happen in real time, any where, anytime, just as when you need it. Cool huh?

And there is a saying that people come into your life for a season, a reason or for a lifetime.

 

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Get That Food

Yes, let’s talk about culture shock.

The reason being is that, during umrah course, all they mentioned was – do not get into argument with the locals, be patience, respect the local law, respect other people’s spaces.

We Malaysians are really good bunch of people.

What we were not prepared was in essence, was a lot of things. Food, attire, the officials, weather, toilets, language, ways of doing things…

You can take out a kampung girl from the kampung, but you can’t take the kampung out from her.

By the third day, I was dying for something familiar – my fried fish, sambal and ulam. Ok, second option? Noodles. Try looking for anything that resembles noodles in this part of the holy city? I could not find it. I dreamed of eating fried tuna fish, hot steaming rice accompanied with spicy sambal belacan and ulam. I salivated over the thought of tomyam noodle, laksa curry, mee mamak basah, hokkien mee.

Damn.

Good thing I brought my emergency ration from home (dont laugh!) – noodle in cup, a jar of sambal, soup in sachet and my favourite drinks such as Milo and Aik Cheong coffee. Somewhere in between the days when the caterer served the three-times daily meals at the hotel, that I saw fried fish, sambal and ulam. (grins)

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There were some nights when we just wanted something to nibble on. So, G would go out to buy some Arabic bread and cheese. We had our little picnic in the room by spreading a plastic sheet on the bed and we had our bread, cheese, fruits and mint tea. It was so basic that it felt so romantic and awesome.

IMG_20151229_033253On some days, George just wanted his comfort food. That means having to go to the ginormous malls that surround the Masjidil Al Haram and….visit these places…

KFC in Mecca
KFC in Mecca
Burger King in Mecca
Burger King in Mecca

His regular Americano and muffin cost from Starbucks twice as much than in Kuala Lumpur. Sigh.

Starbucks in Mecca
Starbucks in Mecca
Expensive coffee in Starbucks Mecca
Expensive coffee in Starbucks Mecca

Would have been interesting to try out the Mc Donald’s but the nearest outlet was a tad too far for walking.

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On most days, we ended up at the food court where I tried out strange food to my palate such as liver sandwich which was surprisingly, yummy! (sorry no pix). Otherwise, be prepared to spend about between SAR10 to SAR30 for food. Portions are big though. You can share with at least another football team.

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Measurement of Happiness

As I skimmed through my FB memory postings, I saw one article that I posted about a year ago. It was an article written by Richard Branson. His first line was, “How happy are you?”.

Such a simple question, and yet so profound. Reflects on my current state of spirit, mind, body and soul of mine….

I saw that my last post was about 3 months ago. G often told me that I usually blog when my mind is unease and troubled. In actual truth, he is right. I write my best pieces years ago. The yearning to write again is there for months on end. Just that I have been digressing.

Read the full article here.

The Art Of Finding The Soul Mate

This piece is dedicated to a dear friend, Mohsin who is a game changer, explorer, adrenaline junkie, single & available and is on his quest to look for The One.

All of us grew up watching Disney movies where the Prince and Princess will live happily ever after at the end. The movies are always accompanied with beautiful songs which are so Disney-esque.

And still did not see it in the real world.

Beautiful, I thought. But I never thought that true love would happen to me. Finding that elusive soul mate is just a fairy tale. I grew watching so many loveless marriages and shattered relationships that the idea of true love just eluded me.

The Never Land

Being single at one point of my life taught me a few important things, and I call this my Never Land:

  • never underestimate your own strength of living through life
  • never have the “I am a victim” mentality
  • never “settle” as you deserve more. Psychobitches and psycho bastards are abound and difficult to shake off.
  • never disregard your bull shit detector/gut feels that God gives you
  • never accept “half loaf of bread”
  • never be needy and desperate
  • never compact your life in a small box. The world is your oyster, go explore.
  • (this is for men) never let your dick do the thinking as it has no brain for rationalisation.

Some friends ask me how do G and I achieve a balance in our own marriage. Being so different and yet so compatible. Well, I do not have all the answers but one thing we agreed upon is that we both have had life experiences before we met each other. If we had met years before we were destined to meet, I do not think we will even tolerate each other, let alone being married! Being the practical people that we are, we treated the relationship as a business similar to merger & acquisition. We prodded, examined, asked, validated everything from divorce papers, salary slips to health screens to legal papers. Then we opened up the “closets” and think about whether we could live with all these information with a knowledge and acceptance that history was done. That this person is here, now, present and he/she cannot undo what has happened in the past. The acceptance is important because this is where the trust comes in. The trust that whatever you found in the closets will never be used against you in the future. This is where the NDA (non disclosure agreement) comes in. Next step is to sign the M&A or in this context, the pre nuptial agreement.

But, one of the key things is this – your “customer service” must be opened, 7 days a week, 365 and a quarter – ever ready to serve your “client” (spouse/partner/soulmate). Come rain or shine, this customer service must be grounded, neutral and objective.

Why I Am A Big Advocate of Pre nuptial Agreement

Donald Trump, one of my big time idols advocates pre nuptial agreement. “It’s a hard, painful, ugly tool,” says Trump. “Believe me, there’s nothing fun about it. But there comes a time when you have to say, ‘Darling, I think you’re magnificent, and I care for you deeply, but if things don’t work out, this is what you’re going to get.” It is worth noting that he was married twice before Melania Knauss and both ex wives tried contesting the pre nup with no success.

See what happens when the love is lost? When you are still in love, you want to give and give and love and care the other person. When the love is lost, trust me my friends, even a single sen will be dug out from the past – where was it gone to, what have you done with it, etc etc.

It is also a show of responsibility especially when you have a business to run. Pre nuptial agreements ensures the company’s sustainability which in return takes care of its employees. Do not punish the employees for your own stupidity when the company is split into several ways upon your divorce. Imagine 10s, 100s or thousands of employees who are out of jobs when this happens.

The Check Boxes

Sure, you can create as many boxes as you like as you go along but remember all these boxes must also be a reflection of yourself. Would you check all these boxes for yourself?

So Where’s The Art In This?

Be brave, listen to your gut feel, open up your mind and do not be gullible. It is easy to fall in lust and confused it with love.

Cover Your Ass Work Culture

Perhaps the word “ass” captured your attention. I dont know. Maybe the word “culture” did. But then again, I wont know either.

Have you ever step into someone’s office and feel welcome and great? People’s faces are cheerful, doors are opened, you see people around the office and the aura are just so good. Makes you think that you want to sashay into the pantry and make yourself a cup of coffee from that snazzy-looking coffee machine. Then, your mind starts to wonder whether are all these are farce and it is only a facade? What lays behind the great wall,  you start to think?

A couple of years ago, my team and I had the opportunity to work with a construction/developer company for a project. A mid sized public listed company that generates around RM500 million turnover every year. Total population of about 700 odd. The job came about after a simple brief that came from the General Manager who wanted to revamp the performance appraisal form to make it look “sexier” than it was.

The brief came in a form of a piece of paper – literally a very brief piece of paper -the performance appraisal form – that they have used for the last donkey years. A supposedly simple brief turned to be a 5 months engagement. We literally camped in their office. Ate their food, breath the same air they did. Loved every minutes of it.

Staff turn-over we were told, was less than 5%. No one wants to leave. Pay scale was not even up to market standard. I thought who in the world wants to stay? But they did. They stayed, and stayed. And the rotated jobs all over the departments, they changed bosses; bosses transferred them to another department to find the right fit for their staff (or better boss?). Some have worked for the company from Day 1 and that was 25 years ago.

Amazing.

I started talking to the drivers, receptionists, cleaners (they are all local makciks I tell you…), then moved up and right across – executives, secretaries, managers, engineers, site surveyors, Quality Controllers, Workshop guys. You name it. I spoke to them.

And they spoke of the same language.

It is the culture of the company that they like best. When asked exactly what they meant. No one could really tell me exactly what they are but from what I could gather – just some stuff where everyone is happy about which exists in the company and accepted by everyone. It could be from the free daily lunch the company provides, to the very active sports club they have, or the dance class every Wednesday, Monday breakfast with the CEO and top Managements, or could it be the minimum 6 months bonus they enjoy every year. To top it off, some have gone on umrah or haj, thanks to the company for rewarding them for being loyal.

And yet, some companies are just odd….I have observed where there is this culture…where I shall call it “the cover your ass work culture”. Everything is confrontational and the end game is to win. Of something. Of what? I dont know. Recognition? Or facade? Putting face?

Odd.

Like I said.

Touching Photos, Touching Lives

A picture, they say, says a thousand words.

No need for elaborate sentences, but a brief description is enough to bring out the emotion. I found this link that conveys such strong human emotions that I just have to share this.

Touching photos.

Enjoy and dont forget to ready the tissues first!

Phoenix Rising From The Ashes

In a recent radio interview session by BFM89.9 on entrepreneurship, I was asked what (animal, plant, etc.) are you most like?

I said, “I am an oak – strong, resilient. Oak trees have deep roots that come rain or shine, winter, drought- it looks as if it is dying but it is not”.

2013 was not a very good year for the family – career and financial wise. It was fraught with disappointments, one after another. A major project that was supposed to take off in the first quarter of 2013 never took off due to insufficient financial resources of the client. Then, there was this client whom we found out was and still is a major fraud who had cheated people by the millions, and still walking around as a free man. But then, that is another story to tell on another fine day.

The furkids got sick one by one, several crossed the Rainbow Bridge. I still mourn of them. The flowers died, even the money plant that you thought could grow in the Sahara; the grass outside of the gate turned to brown and dry away, just like my heart each time I see them;  even the rambutan tree which were fruiting all throughout the years just simply refused to bear any fruit. It was as if trying to tell us that there was something seriously wrong with something, whatever they are.

I felt side lined. Empty. Demotivated. Dejected. A failure.

There I was on the stage as one of the key panellists in this women forum on entrepreneurship sharing my old success stories of building the empire that crossed the length and breadth of Malaysia. At the same time I was comforting myself how this success can always be created again and again.

“Resilient, dear Self”, I said.

“Be strong, bounce back better and stronger than ever, dear Self”.

“You have done it many times over and you can do it again”.

There were so many times when I could not see in the dark that chocked my breath but as God might have planned His way to show the power He has, He gave a peek of the end of the tunnel. As each day passes by, the light just got bigger and bigger.

I could see it. I could taste it in my mouth. I could feel it in my bones.

Success. Again.

Just like the phoenix rising from the ashes. This time higher and better.

There is still a journey to be made towards the end of this tunnel but I can see it. It is getting brighter and brighter.

I just knew it.

Kuala Lumpur, My City

I arrived in Kuala Lumpur sometime in 1991 after living in Pahang all of my life. My then-husband applied for a transfer back to the city after he decided a transfer to the backwaters of Rompin, Pahang was out of question.

At that time, I was working for a well known travel agency and had no problem to land another equally exciting job in the city. The office, I remember was located in this building right smack in the middle of the city.

The first day of work was exciting. I was all dressed in my new attire and got to work at 8 am. Come lunch hour, I came down to explore lunch places. As I stepped out from that grey building, I literally stopped dead in my track. I was suddenly consumed with anxiety and shock.

The whole surroundings were full of people rushing left and right! The streets were choked with vehicle and I was in an instant culture shock. Never in my life had ever seen so many people walking so fast. The buildings were standing tall.

I felt like an ant.

The city has changed so much by then. The streets are now busier than ever. There are more tall buildings, apartments, LRTs, MRTs and monorails. New developments are all over the city for at least a couple more years.

The city is divided into 11 districts and covers an area of 243 km2 (94 sq miles). The city now can boasts of so many parks, several iconic green buildings, top 10 biggest shopping malls and has about 1.6 million population, and climbing at a rate of 1.1%.

The KL Sentral, Malaysia’s largest transit hub connects many of the inter-city trains connecting points in the Peninsular, Singapore and Thailand. A massive city within a city, this RM1.7billion development is still in its building phases and will only complete sometime in 2015.

Kuala Lumpur city at duskThis pix was taken when I was driving along the Elevated Highway or known as AKLEH, a 7.7km elevated highway from Ampang to Kuala Lumpur.

Kuala Lumpur cityscapeI always feel awe of the sheer vastness of the city. It is so beautiful when seen at dusk like this. The buildings gleam in the fading sun light as the night creeps in.

Flag pole Dataran Merdeka IloveKL Sultan Abdul Samad building Sungai GombakI love this city for its uniqueness.

But, I think it is time to make a move elsewhere to a quieter place where we dont have to fight with constant traffic jam, gadzillion people and high cost of living……

Lanjut beach, RompinThis…my friends…is looking better and better…..

At The Big Bad Wolf Sale

Time: 2 am

Location: The Big Bad Wolf Sale, The Mines Exhibition Centre

Event: The CRAZY Big Bad Wolf Sale that runs for 24 hours (6-15 December, 2013). Yes, it runs for freakin’ 24 hours…

As we entered the humongous event hall, and saw gadzillion books..(they put up about 3 million books for the event). The hall was packed with humans, humans and more humans at 2 am!

Husband: Wow! I get a hard-on just seeing these books.

Wife: Me too! And, I don’t even have a penis!

cool cats

We left the event hall at 4 am and the hall was still packed.

Crazy.

Nelson Mandela On Leadership

A good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that at the end he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger. You don’t have that idea when you are arrogant, superficial, and uninformed. ~ Nelson Mandela, July 1918-December 2013. RIP

One of my icons has died.