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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The Strange Dreams, Post Umrah

I told G the strange dreams I had since we came back from umrah. Usually it will involve either one of these:

  • me walking towards kaabah from the mosque,
  • George and I doing our circumambulation around Kaabah
  • looking at kaabah from one side of the mosque
  • praying in the mosque facing kaabah
Kaaba
Kaaba

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.

The Senior Citizen At Home

We have 26 furkids and roughly 3/4 of them are senior citizens, meaning they are above 7 years old.

The most senior is Rexton, aged 16 which is about 80 years old human age. Her mom, Chomel was a real darling. Rexton’s dad was Tiger, an exotic breed of Persian and LDSH ginger boy.

Rexton

(Rexton, 2013)

As I type this blog, she is just lazying herself next to the netbook, trying to be as quiet as possible although her occasional meows breaks the silence in the room. Her fur has changed somewhat. Her lovely fur now is now greying, with white and silver specks here and there. And, just like human do, she refused to walk up and down the staircase more than she needs to. She has lesser teeth now too. Taking comfort with a mix of kibbles and wet food, she loves her boiled chicken as treat.

Rexton3

 

(Rexton, 2006)

She mostly sleeps nowadays, or admiring the quiet street in front of our home. There is not much of activity in the neighbourhood except for the contractors who have been busy renovating the houses near ours. Her usual place is by the glass sliding door where it is quiet and hidden away from the rest of the furkids.  When she gets bored, she will take the effort to climb the stairs and curls up in front of our bedroom door.

At night, she climbs in to bed noisily, usually with some long winded stories and plonks herself next to me or sometimes next to George. I could smell her sweet Rexton scent, so unique to her. I think each of our kids have their own unique scent!

Rexton2014

 

(Rexton, 2014, on the study table, next to me)

Even at 16 years old, she is still scared of the thunder. She will hide away under the bed or better still, the blanket and promptly fell asleep while the thunder roars outside.

We have been watching her closely for the last couple of months of some subtle changes in her….. There is so much love and care for them in this house. And the furkids have been through a lot for the past many years and hope that we could provide them with the best of their final years with us.

 

“Foot In Mouth” Disease

I have responded to the news of the Federal Minister’s plan to ban soup kitchen within the 2km radius of city centre in my Tweets, FB as well as my LinkedIn. Haven’t found the time to actually sit down and pen down my thoughts on this until today.

The main thought that came to my mind each time I hear something as ridiculous as this is – are these the real words that came out from someone’s mouth, or has it been a result of manipulation by the newspapers? Being a person who is sometimes interviewed by the press, I am very aware of the latter whereby words and interpretations of a certain story can be totally off-tangent.

Reading from then salvaging mode press releases by him and a few other supportive parties…well, looks like that was what he said.

Sigh.

Next thought is – I wonder whether all of our Yang Berhormats have been given sessions or trainings on media handling and media crisis management? Perhaps, these two program would be a fantastic part of their leadership development program?

I have never volunteered to cook for the homeless at soup kitchens before, apart from playing a tiny role of sourcing for the rice from Bernas. This came about when the team wanted to do something charitable one December a few years ago.

However, coming from the HR fraternity, I did plenty of recruitment programs for clients back then. Some clients have special requirements that in my mind, not so many conventional recruitment companies want to do due to the low GP and the condition that you need to operate in. No air cond, no flashy office, no formal attire whatsoever, just a pair of keen eye for details and observation skills.

And, a very willing client.

We will sit in these soup kitchens during their meal time, with client sitting behind observing everyone who might have the potential to be recruited. I can tell you one thing – I broke down in each of the session.

You will get one candidate asking for a pair of slippers, or asking whether will there be enough pillows for him to sleep with. Someone else will come along and asked how many meals in a day can he get if he starts working this client? There was one candidate who came all the way from Sabah through a work agency, supposedly to be placed with a client only to be cheated out of his money, Mykad taken away and abandoned in the city.

Not all homeless are uneducated. Some whom we met were just down on their luck. Old men who could not find a job anymore, single mothers who keep two (sometimes three) jobs, taxi drivers, or those who actually work but earn so little that they could not find a decent place to live are mostly whom we met.

Being down in luck for the whole entire year last year gave me a different kind of perspective about what life is. Being homeless is not a choice that everyone wants. I do not believe that when a person wakes in the morning, the first thing that came to his mind is, “Ok, let’s see how I can be a homeless today.”

I wish that some people who sits on their high horses realize that if you strip away most of the things that you have right now , never mind the house and the car – how do you feel? Simple things such as your cable channels, the air conditioner, smart phones – it will be painful indeed.

Now imagine that you do not have a job to sustain life’s needs. Take away the house, let alone owning a car. It gives a domino effect. One of the noblest things to do is to feed hungry people, and I think giving people jobs when they need one also means giving them back self worthiness and dignity. A lot of the Government’s efforts have been concentrated to provide jobs to people. But jobs without the 360 degrees of support is not going to be helpful. Where would the single mothers/fathers leave their children when they go out for work? With an average of RM600/child/month for a day care centre, this is not possible at all when all you earn is a measly between RM20/day to RM40/day.

Poverty in Malaysia is measured by the Poverty Line Index (PLI). A household is considered poor if its income falls below that line. The Poverty Line Index (PLI) for Malaysia was introduced in June 1977 using the 1973 Household Expenditure Survey (HES). It was based on the minimum requirements of a household for food, clothing and footwear, and other non-food items such as rent, fuel and power. For the food component, the minimum expenditure was based on a daily requirement of 9,910 calories for a family of five comprising an adult male, an adult female and three children of either sex within 1-3, 4-6, 7-9 years of age. The minimum requirements for clothing and footwear were based on standards set by the Department of Social Welfare for the requirements of inmates in welfare homes. The other non-food items were based on the level of expenditure of the lower income households as reported in the HES. (cited here)

The urban poor is a reality. Malaysia’s urban poverty line is now RM3,000 compared to RM700 several years ago. In 2012, the Mean Monthly Gross Household Income was RM5,742, an increase of 190%. This may sound fantastic when you look at the numbers. However, again reality strikes. Cost of living rise by the year and even for George and I who had a comfortable combined income found it difficult to make ends meet.

So, coming back to my rant on this topic, think before you speak otherwise you might end up with Foot In Mouth disease.

 

 

 

 

Jaded About Life

It was a glorious morning today. The sun shone so brightly and the traffic was, well, as usual heavy. We took the usual 2 hour or so drive from home to wherever fringe of the city. And this morning was in Phileo Damansara to meet someone who has a big name in the education industry. I have admired him from afar due to his successes in building an education hub where I think, at least in my mind, revolutionary.

There he was, in his jeans and shirt ala Richard Branson. Serving us drinks in his ala Google office. It was love at first sight with his office when I first visited sometime last month.

Then, this Man talked. Visionary, quick paced, thoughtful in his responses, just like many leaders whom I have met in my career. Then, we talked about youth and his education hub’s activities in helping these young folks finding the niche in their career lives.

I went away disappointed with his views. I just feel that he has been jaded with life and feel that many of these youngsters are with no hope to help them get the right career.

Youth/young people are exactly that. They think they know everything, and yet they know nothing. Some are lucky enough to be able to carry through their schooling days until university days with no problem, thanks to mom and dad who worked day and night.

Then, there are those who are just bored with conventional educational life. They want to do something different from what their parents have preached them or what the society has dictated them to be. To be what, they still have not found out.

It is those who are in the capacity to help and do something and can do something should guide and mentor these young people.

After all, were we not young before?

I Hope I Have Inspired Someone Today

I attended a women forum recently under the invitation of the co-organizer whose CEO also happens to be a friend of mine. I was one of the panelists for the two-day session. The forum was held in Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur; the set up was very classy and the stage was beautifully done. I met a lot of people during the two day-session and was awed at the strength of these women leading their lives.

I think one of the most inspiring sessions was when three panelists spoke about their fight against cancer. I was such an intimate topic that I think you ought to really embrace the challenge in order to be able to speak about it. They fought and won. These women are all leaders in their own right, societies, organizations and communities.

Cancer is like a time-stealer. They take time away from you. Inspiring sessions like these, I think, is very important for one to reflect on our own journey in life and to sort what matter to us. No one can tell you what they are, only you can answer this yourself.

I hope I have made a difference in someone’s life on that day.

After my session on the second day, I stepped down from the stage to the ladies room. Some reporters stopped me to take pictures. More people stopped me on the way out and more when I walked back in. They gave me call cards and told me how inspiring my story was to them.

That second session was entitled “Is Entrepreneurship For Everyone?”.

DSCN1015

It was an open ended question. I shared my stories; how I grew up in a family where everyone was an entrepreneur. The good and the bad ones were all there. There was a story about how my grandfather, the sifu of the clan sold off one of the mountains in the village to some guy. The mountain was never his.

But then, he was gifted with the gift of the gab…

I started off my first foray in business right after school. The mom gave me some cash on my 18th birthday and I figured that the money will eventually be gone in days. Kuantan is a town by the beach and Teluk Chempedak was (still is) a haven for tourists. But, there was hardly anywhere to buy nice beach wear.

So, a boutique selling beach wear was the decision that I had. I had two talented batik designers from Terengganu to paint beautiful series of nature inspired pattens on the pareos. Their bright colours of lotus blooms and dragons from Lake Chini coloured the sun-kissed landscape.

There is one important learnt from all these- to be an entrepreneur, you have to embrace risk.

Coming back to the women forum.

As George and I were walking towards the lift at the end of the forum, I saw a lady heading towards an exit. I saw her in the crowd for the past two days. She was elegant and very classy looking, and love her baju kurung.

I introduced myself and she said she enjoyed my stories. They were so inspiring that she retold the stories to her son.

That night, I thanked God for the journey I had lived so far. That my little stories have inspired someone that day.

The Story About My Angry Bird Keychain

I sat in the upmarket tea and coffee place in Bangsar sipping my RM12.00 latte, admiring people walking by the street. The place was nice and cooling what with the full blasted aircondition. It was a comfortable place to be.

Out of nowhere, a man walked in through the glass door, carrying what I believed was key chains of all sorts. He was sweating from the sweltering heat of the streets. His clothes had seen better days, and from the way he walked, the shape of his hands and the way he tilted his head each time he spoke, this man was obviously with physical disabilities.

No one paid any attention to him. They just ignored his presence next to them and pretended that he did not exists. I was surprised that none of the bistro’s employee asked him to leave.

The next minute, he was beside me, showing this bunch of key chains -Ultra Man, Hello Kitty etc etc…and then I saw this big, yellow Angry Bird key chain.

One thing about living in the city is that, you just do not know who is being used in scams. Children, women, people with disabilities, they all have been used to solicit for money and most of the times none of the sales money go to them.

But, my house key chain was rendered a goner a few days ago. I had no other suitable key chains and I was looking for one. I looked at this guy and asked him how much. He said RM10 each. My first instinct told me that the real cost could not have been more than RM2 and this guy was ripping me off.

I told him, that’s ok, I’d pass this time.

But, then, he said something so profound that makes me think in a flash…:

  • here I am sipping a RM12 latte and it will be gone in a minute. The key chain will be with me for a good long while.
  • will I still be able to eat after I give this guy a RM10 for the key chain?

I chose the Angry Bird keychain, handed him the RM10 and he thanked me profusely before walking out to the sweltering heat.

angry bird key chain

 

This was what he said, “Please buy a key chain from me, for my meal of the day.”