Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What is Right, and What is Wrong?

This video that I chose is the 2nd in a 8 part lecture series by Dr. Albert A. Bartlett's lecture on "Arithmetic, Population, and Energy".

The first video talked about the power of exponential growth. It raises an interesting question about whether we are aware what it means when we say 6% or 5% growth.

The second one raises an important question on population issue and how to solve it. If you choose law and order, be prepared for the world to be over-populated. Choose war if you want to balance population growth. Are you willing to do that?

I guess my point is that in choosing to promote something, whether in politics or even your own career, we often fail to consider the full consequences of our choices. For example, while minimum wage is a noble idea, has anyone fully considered the impact of such measure on long-term inflation and subsequent increase in personal debt, and how that ultimately leads to a bubble, and...well, you get my point.

Think hard, think smart.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Education First

Have you guys heard of Education First (EF)? It's a Swedish company that's dominating the world in private education. It has over 25000 teachers and 15 million students all over the world.

They're focused on providing language education in a unique way that emphasizes conversational skills rather than rote learning. Being Swedish, their training centers are also a lesson in design integration as part of the training process.

The global language training industry is estimated to be around Euro 54 billion a year.

Another below the radar business opportunity that a lot of people don't even know about.

(Discovered them while reading Monocle, a huge magazine that takes longer to go through than most novels. It's a different type of magazine than most are used to, but it's got some left-field coverage...A bit like Off The Edge meets The Edge Weekly)

How about this as an idea - a prep school that focuses on career advice,communication skills,and entrepreneurial knowledge for 3 categories - pre-SPM, post-SPM, post-Degree?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Just When Things Are Good...

I don't listen to radio that much these days. The new car's full media integration with USB drive AND SD Card (in addition to a 6-disc changer, but who uses CD now anyway) makes radio a truly alternative choice, especially with the endless advertisements, staid selections AND idiotic deejays.

If I was to tune in to anything, it would normally be either XFM (103.0) or BFM (89.9). Most often I would just let XFM play me the best that local music could offer. I like XFM because (1) not much advertising (2) minimal deejay interruption (3) great songs.

I think Malaysian music is undergoing a sort of renaissance. Its cyclical in nature. We used to be ahead of the Indonesians, then we sort of lost our way with the focus on mono-syllabic named bands like Spin, Spoon, Scoin. Then everybody was into hip-hop, but it never really fit in with the older set, which kinda explains how Siti Nurhaliza (which came out at around the same time as Poetic Ammon & Too Phat) could dominate for so long. Yes, kids love hip-hop, but only parents had the money to buy an album.

Now, we finally have a mature, creative era of great songs sung by relevant artistes that transcends age, culture and language. Kids and their parents can dig Faizal Tahir, Yuna & Aizat. Our hip-hop has gone beyond the lame cliche of old and now contains sublime rhymes carried out by people like Malique, Altimet and Joe. We've even basically thrown away soapy jiwang karat rock away with a whole new bunch of "indie" bands making it big on the mainstream.

Tell me you didn't bob your head when you hear Bunkface and I'll tell you you've lost your groove. We've got young and upcoming vocalists who no longer subscribe to Siti's scream it if you mean it mantra like Ana Raffali, Zee Avi & Liyana Fizi.

It's all great news for the fans. I think the quality's up to the par of anything I can pick out from the Indonesians these days. Unfortunately, I think it's too late.

Just when our music standard has been raised to a level where everyone could be proud of, our artistes will no longer be financially rewarded for their work. Long gone are the days where a popular Juara Lagu winner will sell more than a million album (Raihan did that), have sold-out stadium concerts (Search, Wings used to, and still is, packing in the fans), or basically become a freaking rock star.

With parents also now in tune to digital downloads, and kids being kids wanting things for free, it is almost impossible to find anyone actually purchasing an album, even from foreign artist. Without album sales, it's almost impossible for record companies to think about organizing a concert.

No corporate sponsors want to sponsor a concert of an artist who couldn't sell records, without realizing that in today's day and age, the lack of record sales doesn't automatically make an artist unpopular.

It's sad that it has come down to this, but the future is even bleaker. Unless of course there is a significant change in the way record companies and artistes approach the problem. But let's just hope for now, despite not making as much money as Slam ever did, our new crop of singers, songwriters, producers and musicians continue doing it for the sake of us music lovers. If you do, trust us, we'll promise to download your song.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

From Tadashi Yanai

Tadashi Yanai is the Chairman/CEO of Fast Retailing (owners of Uniqlo).

"The worst people in the world are those that neither succeed nor fail. These people don't do anything and accomplish nothing.

The second worst type are those that continuously fail. They never learn from their mistake and never succeed."
Sent via BlackBerry from Maxis

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Between Raya and today...(Me,Myself & I...)

I checked my last post. It was before Raya. And all the things I said about Raya was true. But I didn't have time to update this blog, my dear readers, because I just got my second son (so matter of fact and casual). And just like my first son, he is the most handsome, brightest, charming human being I've ever seen. Until the next one comes along.

But just more than a week before that, I took delivery of my materialistic baby - a new car. It's new, shiny, and thus far, the best I've ever driven. Not because it's new and shiny mind you. I plumped myself into another new and shiny car my mom got for herself. And I wouldn't put it even in the top 3 cars I've driven. No, the reason my new car is the best is simply because it is - pace, power, refinement and looks. Man, it's lame, but when I park this new set of wheels, I still stare at it a bit when I walk off.

The only bad thing about getting a new car is getting your friends' reaction. I've had this problem ever since I drove my first car. "Why didn't you buy this?", "Why did you get this color?","Rugi beli brand-new..."...the idiotic kind of comments coming from people who have never even come close to having the choices I have. Maybe it's about living vicariously. Dude, my best mate just got himself a dull as clorox Toyota, and I still pretended to be excited over it all. Nah, no worries. I'm not angry or bitter. Just peeved. Don't blame them though, most people do this.

Anyway, with a new car and a new baby, I needed a new wife. Wrong sentence. I needed a new hobby.

I've picked up walking, of all things. I only enjoy exercise if it's fun. And it's only fun when someone keeps score. So I can play futsal forever, but I wouldn't last a few weeks if I picked up jogging. Too lonely. And I have weak knees. People say it's because of...well, I wouldn't know about that;)

Unfortunately, futsal's usually played late at night. I need to be with the two boys. So I found something I could probably do continuously, but it's not really exercising as I know it, so I wouldn't feel pressured to perform. So walking it is. That's why I call it a hobby.

Because when I walk, I don't think about walking, I think about everything else. I'm an observer, if you've observed. Some of the interesting things I've discovered while walking around my area in Shah Alam (I usually brisk walk/explore for about 1 hour to 1.5 hours) are:

1. Not everyone who stays in a bungalow drive nice cars
2. Not everyone who drives a normal car stays in a small house
3. The fact that I've seen a few purple/police blue houses just goes to show how weird and irrational human beings are
4. Even though Shah Alam is a predominantly Malay area, a lot of the nice houses here belong to Chinese
5. The roads in Shah Alam, even in a VIP-dominated area, are pretty badly maintained (apparently, since PR took over)

I've also discovered that the police on patrol love to "rest" in their car on top of the hill where my house is located. While this is good news for me, I wonder if my neighbors are happy about it.

Other than this new hobby, I've intensified my existing hobby of reading. I read a lot. Maybe not as much as some of you, but definitely more than most. I buy an average of 3-5 books a month. Not only that, my subscription to Time, Fortune and Bloomberg BusinessWeek ensures that every week I'd have something new to read. I also pick up a lot of magazines off the shelf like Fast Company (GREAT MAGAZINE), Entrepreneur (not so great,but some nice ideas), INC. (soon to be GREAT MAGAZINE) and my regular fix of Top Gear Malaysia and Autocar Malaysia. So in a month I'd cover 3 books, 10 subscription magazines, 5 off-the-shelf magazines...and Off The Edge every week.

(I wouldn't even bother quantifying the newspaper, news website, blogs, sports reports that I read on a daily basis)

It has led me to wonder whether I'm suffering from information overload. It's so bad that sometimes I can't remember the title of the book I was reading (no worries, now reading The Game by Neil Strauss. Not for information, but to compare notes...hahahahaha).

The best thing about reading is that it opens up your mind to new possibilities. Which leads me to another NEW thing - a new business venture. I can't say what, I can't say who, I can't say when, I can't say how. I just want to make money. Now that is NOT new.




Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Bila Raya...

10. Semua terkejut jalan sesak, sedangkan dari aku celik mata, balik raya memang jarang-jarang perjalanan lancar. Malah, aku rasa, sesak-sesak di jalan raya dan terutamanya perhentian R & R adalah sebahagian daripada keseronokan beraya. Malangnya, keseronokan ini tidak lama sekiranya aku nak ke tandas tetapi terpaksa menahan setelah melihat kejijikan yang dibuat manusia tidak berakal.

9. Kereta besar-besar mula menyinggah ke kawasan kampung. Dulu waktu rajin balik ke kawasan kampung Bukit Mertajam, berduyun-duyun Mercedez dan BMW di jalan. Peliknya, benda sama tidak pula berlaku di kampung aku yang bukan kampung sangat yakni Gelugor, Penang. Adakah ini bermakna hanya "migrant" dari kawasan kampung yang lebih berjaya bila pindah ke bandar?

8. Semua surat lambat sampai, terutamanya majalah-majalah. Pelik, sebab aku rasa dulu lagi banyak surat orang hantar. Mungkin penjimatan masa daripada pengurangan orang menghantar kad raya tiada kesan apabila produktiviti setiap pekerja POS generasi baru semakin merudum (berbanding pekerja-pekerja dulu). Maklumlah, ramai sekarang tiada motivasi dan lebih sibuk mencari awek untuk membatalkan puasa (bukan pekerja POS sahaja, tetapi Melayu generasi baru secara am-nya).

Surat dah digantikan....dengan Facebook! E-Mel pun tak sempat nak jadi medium yang popular. Buat apa penat-penat masukkan alamat e-mel semua kawan dan kenalan apabila anda boleh "tag" saja gambar kad raya di Facebook? Yang naik menyampah adalah komen-komen memanjang selepas itu. Kalau komen beramai-ramai, aku boleh terima. Kadang-kadang hanya 2 orang saja komen, tapi jadi macam "chatting". Memang tak boleh belah.

Mula lah orang hantar mesej-mesej Hari Raya menerusi SMS. Aku terima sahaja, tapi tolonglah...sangat klise mesej-mesej berbentuk keinsafan. Aku selalu tertanya-tanya apakah motif mesej panjang-panjang ini. Adakah SMS sebegini akan mengubah pendirian individu yang tak tergerak walaupun disogok khutbah Jumaat, tazkirah terawikh, rancangan agama dan mesej-mesej keagamaan di media massa?

Tetapi aku suka mesej Hari Raya yang kelakar-kelakar. Aku hendak mengucapkan terima kasih bagi mereka yang rajin merangka mesej SMS Raya yang unik dan kelakar. Aku pun cuba jugak, cuma sindiran aku kadang-kadang buat orang terasa. Sebagai contoh: "Isap rokok batal hukumnya, Wajib x buat terawikh beria, Kalau macam ni waktu berpuasa, Baik xyah sambut hari raya...".

7. Pengedar mercun dan bunga api popular. Aku sendiri belanja RM500 tahun ini membeli "perkakas hiburan". Mercun sekarang dah tak macam dulu. Budak-budak sekarang pun dah tak macam dulu. Dalam zaman permainan komputer seperti Halo, setakat bunga api cap kucing memang budak-budak tak layan. Sekarang minimum Thunder Clap. Malah, aku tengok katalog "dealer", macam-macam jenis baru diperkenalkan. Ada nama "Osama" - amat sesuai untuk pasukan ekstremis yang semakin menjadi-jadi di Malaysia (asyik bersyarah dan mengata orang lain aja kerja).

Aku rasa lebih baik mercun dan bunga api dijadikan barang kawalan daripada diharamkan. Bila diharamkan tetapi tidak begitu diharamkan, apa bezanya? Baik dibenarkan tetapi harus berdaftar dan mengikut spesifikasi tertentu. Dapat pula cukai tambahan. Ada QC bunga api. Hehehehe...idea bodoh tatkala nak raya.

6. Orang Islam jadi teramat malas. Aku ingat lagi di USJ, Subang, ada kedai kegemaran masakan Kelantan. Dia cuti sebulan sebelum Raya, dan sebulan SELEPAS Raya! Dua bulan bercuti. Contoh macam ini banyak aku nampak dalam perniagaan orang Melayu. Sudahlah kita kebelakang, kemudian kita harus mengejar masa sebab tanggungjawab agama banyak (seperti solat Jumaat yang menghilangkan 2 jam dari produktiviti pekerja. Masalahnya, adakah kita ganti 2 jam ini dengan balik pukul 7? Tidak jugak!), lepas tuh nak jadi pemalas pula. Kononnya sibuk beraya. Jangan tipu. Duduk kampung sekarang goyang kaki, makan banyak.

Sebab itu, dulu waktu aku kerja makan gaji, aku tak suka cuti panjang untuk Raya. Bukan sebab aku ni terlebih rajin. Sebab aku perasan, kerja memang langsung tidak ada sekitar musim perayaan. Masuklah ke pejabat, duduk bukak komputer, keluar makan lama-lama, pergi membeli belah (waktu aku di Maxis) dan balik awal. Aku rasa orang yang tidak balik kampung, dan hanya nak duduk rumah sahaja, lebih baik simpan cuti tu. Pergi je pejabat. Macam cuti juga!

5. Jualan murah berlambak. Tetapi aku macam ada syak wasangka harga barang-barang telah dinaikkan untuk musim perayaan kemudian diberi diskaun. Walau apapun, waktu inilah orang semua keluar membeli baju melayu, samping, tempah baju kurung, dan beli songkok. Mesti ramai yang tak tahu bahawa sebelum Raya adalah masa paling lumayan bagi penjual kereta sebab ramai orang kita nak bawak kereta baru untuk Raya. Bukan itu sahaja, perabot baru, karpet baru, malah sekarang ni mungkin muka baru, semuanya menjadi pilihan!

Semua gedung beli-belah memainkan lagu-lagu Raya dan tema Raya. Eih, bukan gedung beli-belah sahaja - pusat hiburan KTV, kelab malam, pusat urut pun pandai buat mood raya (aku dengar cerita laaa...). Inilah baru dinamakan 1Malaysia. Cuma peliknya, aku rasa diorang lebih beria-ria sambut Krismas dan Gong Xi Fa Cai dari Hari Raya. Kalau 2 perayaan itu, kadang-kadang lebih sebulan sebelum dah mula main lagu Krismas. Mungkinkah sebab 2 perayaan itu, terutamanya Krismas, lebih santai dan meriah?

4. Mungkin juga, sebab dalam nak dekat-dekat Raya ni banyak la pulak stesen radio mainkan lagu Raya. Lagu Raya memang klasik tapi tahulah, sedih semacam kebanyakannya. Bukan aku tak suka, tapi sampai ke hari ini asyik-asyik 3-4 set lagu sahaja yang boleh diterima pakai umum. Cubaan terbaru banyak kecundang, walaupun letak 2-3 orang sekali nyanyi satu lagu (perlukah Radio DJ pun nak jadi penyanyi?).

Mungkin juga lagu Raya ini kena ikut formula tertentu - beat sama ada perlahan atau rancak tetapi tidak boleh ada elemen teknologi (kalau rancak kena ikut rentak kompang/gendang), lirik ceria nak mampus atau lirik nak mampus (tidak boleh di antara), dan kena ada sedikit seruling/tabla/ghazal. Bunkface mungkin boleh cuba buat lagu raya, tetapi aku rasa Nassier Wahab pasti lebih berjaya.

3. Bukan lagu Raya sahaja ada formula. Cerita Raya lagilah klise. Setiap tahun stesen TV menjanjikan rancangan menarik untuk seisi keluarga. Wajib kena ada katalog cerita Melayu 2-3 tahun lapuk. Aku lagi suka kalau dia campur dengan cerita klasik macam Mira Edora (oh Julia Rais). Tetapi aku tahu stesen TV dah ada formula kena tunjuk cerita David Teoh satu, cerita Senario satu. Malah tahun ini, aku tengok Astro promosi "marathon" Senario. Yang tengah "hot" sekarang juga cerita rempit motor dan kereta. Baguslah, beri pendedahan awal kepada budak-budak Melayu tentang masa depan mereka. Aku suka.

Juga wajib dalam pelan siaran adalah cerita Bollywood. Ini adalah satu fakta menarik tentang orang Melayu. Mereka gemar menonton filem Bollywood, sehinggakan di Hari Raya, mereka lebih sanggup membuat perancangan beraya sekitar cerita Bollywood. Lebih banyak menari dan menyanyi, lebih banyak hero mati hidup kembali, lebih beria orang Melayu nak tengok cerita Bollywood. Pelik juga, sebab makcik-makcik ini jugalah yang beria-ria anti-India bila cerita tentang hak Melayu.

Tidak lupa juga kepada rancangan muzikal yang memang jadi teramat meloyakan. Dulu waktu aku kecik-kecik, memang satu family di Gelugor akan menonton rancangan muzikal pada malam Raya dan juga konsert-konsert selepas Raya. Itu sebab aku ni banyak katalog lagu Melayu. Tetapi aku perasan generasi baru macam adik aku memang tak layan muzikal-muzikal macam ini. Aku pun dah naik bosan. Aku rasa kalau amik 10 tahun lepas M. Nasir nyanyi lagu "Satu Hari di Hari Raya", mainkan tahun ini, tiada sesiapa pun akan kisah. Sekarang ni senang. Campak je budak-budak rancangan realiti TV atas pentas buat lawak dan menyanyi. Masalahnya, orang tak kenal pun...(tidak sempat jadi terkenal).

Akhir sekali, dan ini "favourite" aku, drama Raya. Konsep drama Raya tidak pernah berubah. Terbahagi kepada dua - Keinsafan atau Komedi. Malam Raya biasanya mesti ada cerita keinsafan. Pengarah popular untuk benda-benda sesak nafas sebegini adalah Rashid Sibir. Hah, yang terkenal dengan shot 5 minit mak tengah menangis di dapur, tapi konon artistik sebab ambil dari angle bawah dagu. Pelakon paling popular sudah tentulah Fauziah Nawi. Sama ada anak dia mati, suami dia mati, atau dia sendiri mati - yang penting mesti ada orang mati dalam drama keinsafan.

2. Dan yang paling wajib tatkala musim Raya sudah tentulah iklan Raya. Dulu, memang berbaloi syarikat gergasi berbelanja besar mengeluarkan wang menghasilkan mini-filem mengenai Hari Raya. Tetapi semenjak dua menjak, aku perasan banyak juga iklan yang dikitar semula. Adakah semenjak pemergian Yasmin Ahmad, sudah tiada lagi semangat menghasilkan iklan raya? Atau adakah sebab ramai dari kalangan "target demographics" dah menghabiskan masa melayan NCIS atau E!News sampai tiada penonton iklan raya?

Tahun ini iklan raya paling hot dan viral adalah iklan raya TV3. Aku rasa syarikat aku pun tak lama lagi nak buat iklan kontroversi macam TV3. Orang yang tak layan iklan Raya pun tengok. Orang bukan Islam pun lebih banyak menonton iklan ini dari orang Islam, aku rasalah. Ini menaikkan profil TV3. Mungkin 2 tahun lagi, syarikat aku nak buat iklan Raya tapi dilakonkan oleh pelakon Mak Salleh. Woooo...bayangkan muka cam Megan Fox kacau dodol, atau Scarlett Johansson ikat ketupat. Mesti famous.

Hah? Korang tak tahu pasal iklan TV3 penuh kontroversi itu? Alah, cari je rakan baik korang. Namanya Google. Cuba tanya. Pendapat aku senang - manusia akan nampak apa yang minda dia ingin nampak. Sebagai contoh, setiap hari aku tengok cermin aku nampak George Clooney.

1. Setiap Raya tidak lengkap tanpa...duit raya! Dengan duit raya, baju raya, kuih raya, kereta raya...tahun ini aku memang kena seluk ke dalam poket sedalam yang mungkin. Sekarang ni status sebagai boss membuatkan anak-anak buah aku (atau lebih tepat lagi, ibu bapa mereka) mengharapkan aku menyumbang duit raya macam Bill Gates. Aku pun suka kasi duit raya sebenarnya. Lagi banyak aku boleh kasi, maksudnya lagi bagus perniagaan aku kan? Tapi takut nanti bila aku takde duit, harapan duit raya sama macam zaman aku ada duit. Hmmm...ini motivasi untuk sentiasa banyak duit!

Aku nak tahu sama ada sesuai atau tidak duit raya melalui Maybank2u? Kenapa tidak sesuai? Tahun lepas aku kasi duit raya kat mak aku pakai Maybank2u, banyak pulak tuh, tapi dia merajuk cakap nak duit raya dalam sampul.

Apa-apapun aku nak ingatkan semua supaya berhati-hati bila berbelanja dan memandu di jalan raya. Selamat menyambut Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Post My Rides...

This is a brief recollection of the cars that have been part of my life.


I was in Form 4 when I was first given a taste of driving. It was a Perdana Automatic. Biasalah, forward, reverse, kiri, kanan dalam taman perumahan. Maybe because my family's a bit strict when it comes to discipline and studies that I view driving as a means of escape, because from that moment on, I took every chance I could get to drive.

I had my chance when I was in Form 5 when I got my L license. Now, L means shit, but to me, it meant I am, theoretically, capable of driving. So "my" first car was a Proton Saga Megavalve hatchback.

Registration number CAH 45. It was actually my auntie's car by that time as she bought it over from my mom. Her whole family commutes often between KL and Johor, so this car was left quite often in my porch.

And what did I do with my new-found, albeit illegal and immoral, freedom? Bawak pergi tuisyen Bahasa Malaysia dengan saudara Bharat Joshi. Then to the mamaks, normally Sri Melur USJ 12. Sometimes I would take it a bit further out for a round of Counter-Strike at a CC in SS 15.

At that time I was in no position to pass opinion on handling, or comfort. All I know was that the car had four wheels, can seat four, and can be driven by any idiot - like me.

I guess my auntie suspected me of joy-riding the car because she keeps wondering why her mileage keeps on increasing. I usually answered that I helped her warm up the engine since she left the car for so long, which actually doesn't make sense. Jadi, sempena hari raya, saya mohon ampun.


I was actually quite crazy and rebellious enough to insist on taking my license as soon as I could. Since my birthday's in September, it meant that when I took the test at Metro Driving Academy Kg. Subang, it was just a few weeks before SPM. Semangat bawak buku Sure Skor (or one of those small books with summarized notes).

I didn't get a car immediately after getting my license. Lepas SPM, kerja melepak sampai lewat malam aja di pusat snuker dan kafe siber di SS 15. I usually ride the bus, Metrobus. On many occasion, I was fortunate enough to be allowed to drive the 1st-gen Honda CRV that my family had.

At that time, we were all into some form of hip-hop. And driving a 4WD (no matter if it's a Honda), was very urban (in my mind, at least). Official soundtrack: 2Pac & Naughty by Nature on repeat.

Bila fikir balik, memang agak poyo.
But I had a lot of fun with this car. It was big, which meant it could fit a whole lot of car-less teenage kids eager for a night out in town. There was a time when I carried 7 people in there, with one kid hanging out in the boot.

My First Car

Despite my rebellious streak in Form 5, I did manage to do well in my SPM. Malas ar cerita berapa nanti ingat aku ni nerd laks. So my parents, being the lovely folks that they are, and probably secretly as a way of thanking me for not insisting on studying overseas, decided to get me a car.

At that time, there weren't that many choices. And for boys, the Proton Satria's usually a pretty safe bet. But I didn't want some lame-ass cockle-doo 1.3 (which was what they have in the showrooms). I found out that there was a 1.6 version of the Satria which has been discontinued.

So I got mine at the 1st second-hand car dealership we stopped along Jalan Ampang, I think. Test drive consisted of me driving the car around the office building. My parents signed the papers, and off I went with my new car.

A few months later, I joined UiTM. Time tuh, kalau bawak kereta dalam kampus, kira cukup gempak la. This is UiTM, remember. I stayed in the hostel for the 1st semester, and there was plenty of riding around town doing nothing moments with a bunch of crazy ass friends.

Budak-budak perempuan pun takder kereta time tuh. So you can be quite a hero (or a deuschbag...) by "helping" them around campus. The Satria 1.6XLI with plate no. WGX 1544 was a familiar sight around campus, I think.

Anyway, the car itself was powerful, but drank petrol like it's nobody's business. It probably didn't help that I pushed the car too often. But I love it. I spent my first PTPTN loan (hah, pengakuan) on getting this car a kick-ass Sony stereo with new speakers and twitters. Time tuh, beli dan pasang dekat Brothers. Manalah kita pandai sangat.

With illegal downloads just starting to mushroom on "broadband", I had a blast playing my compilations. I probably annoyed the hell out of my buddy, Ahmad Faiz (who knew we'd still be riding around until today?), but who cares. Nak naik kereta aku, dengar lah music aku.

My 2nd Car - Honda Jazz 1.4 iDSI

I don't know why, but I was damn enthusiastic about studying law when I first joined the faculty. So I got pretty good results for my pre-law program. At that time, the Satria was starting to cost a bomb to maintain (or so I keep on insisting to my parents...sneaky bastard).

I kept harping on them for a new car. You see, I get bored easily, and it's the same with cars. After 3 semesters, everyone's started driving some variation of the Proton - Wira, Satria etc. So I wanted something else, and the 3 straight Dean's List Award was a strong bargaining chip.

It was funny how we got the Jazz (it wasn't my 1st choice, actually). My father was asleep one afternoon. I cornered my mom while she was reading the newspaper. Without my dad, my mom's a pretty easy target for mental manipulation. She came across the ad for the New Jazz (at that time). She said it looked nice. I saw the opportunity, so I said, why don't we have a look.

At that time, there was a Honda showroom at Taipan USJ. Secara kebetulan rasanya mood mak aku baik, kereta Jazz yang ada berkilat, dan salesgirl (namanya Anita) sangat efektif. Then and there, she booked the car, rationalizing that we're going to share it (muahahaha...).

I managed to get the earlier generation Honda Jazz 1.4 iDSI with a built-in stereo. This was the model that you should get if you wanted to buy Gen 1 Honda Jazz. My sister later got a Jazz too, but hers were plagued with a lot of issues.

I love my Honda. Honestly, I never thought I would. But it was such a competent little monster, and it looked great too (walaupun tak macho...but I was never playing the macho game anyway), especially after I spent a bomb kitting it out in Mugen bodykit and new 17-inch rims.

The stereo was good, and that's important because I love my music in my cars. The handling was neat. And it was very cost-effective too, in terms of fuel consumption and maintenance (since nothing broke throughout my ownership of the car). The power delivery was weird because it was using a CVT gearbox (no actual cogs, just rubber-bands), but I can't praise this car enough.

Maybe I love this car more than I should because it also coincided with some great memories of life as a university student. I started my degree program, I realized it was pretty pointless to be so serious about studies, so I let loose a bit. I was more than happy to trade-off my Dean's List for the experiences I had. Duit PTPTN banyak habis atas kereta ni.

My 3rd Car - BMW E46

Naturally, after close to 3 years of using the Jazz, I got a little bit itchy. At the time, my dad was using an E200 while my mom has a BMW E46 which she didn't use much. They wanted a BMW 5 series E60, and they needed to make a decision soon because the 520i was going to be discontinued soon.

I saw my chance (aku rasa cam aku ni evil dalam cerita ni...muahahah). I offered to give my car to our company's GM, who was looking for a new car to replace her Proton. And I would then "borrow" my mom's BMW. Brilliant, right?

The BMW brought with it a whole new set of dimension to my lifestyle. Suffice to say, it was a bit of an embarrassment to be driving a 3 series to UiTM. Pak Guards would make some snide remarks.

Anyway, the car itself was a gem. It was genuine driving machine. After losing out the Satria and getting the Jazz, I had turned a bit mellow, as a driver. But with the Beemer, I found my mojo. Because my family's not really into performance cars then, the Beemer, despite only being a 2.0, was considered quick by our standard.

The handling was, and still is the best, I've driven to date. I think the E46's cabin was the last great BMW cabin. From the E60 5 series to the E96 series, they seem to have been a bit bland. It was a great car to drive, a great car to have fun in.

But I messed it up. Honestly, I did, although it was an accident that led to the mess. It was just a minor fender bender (not my fault) with a MBSJ lorry who backed up without looking. But I used it as an excuse to go and "PIMP MY RIDE".

I modified the car's exterior with some AC SusahNakEja bodykit and repainting the whole car Ferrari Red. It was the stupidest mistake I've ever made. The job wasn't well executed, and after re-assembly, the car doesn't feel like it's my car. To top it all off, I crashed the car into the deepest pothole along Jalan Maarof after attending Kursus Kahwin, causing damage that was never really fixed until the day I sold it off.

This was the car that thought me never to modify a good thing. Ever. But the 3 series held with it some great memories as it was the car I had during my final year at Law School and which I kept owning for another 9 months after I graduated. That car was my Batmobile then - maklumlah, sewa apartment sendiri (dok sorang ye), so merayau ajalah kerja.

My 4th Car - Nissan Murano 2.5

And then it was time for me to get married. It was 2007. I wasn't quite sure that the E46 would survive married life - it's air-conditioning was broken, there were parts that were literally hanging off the car.

I had made some money from the stock market, selling unit trust, my share in a failed restaurant venture and some other means. So I decided that I would, for the 1st time, decide on my own a car that I would get.

Honestly, when I went to the Naza showroom, I wanted to get the Nizzan 350z. It was at the same price point as the Murano. But then, a new sporty two-seater wouldn't really play well with my in-laws and new family now would it? (See, I'm a chess player when it comes to mind games).

And so I bought the big, white, 2WD Japan Spec Nissan Murano. I didn't realize at that time how many people actually admired the car. I thought I was one of the few who knew about the car and how beautiful it looked on the road. Apparently, no. A lot of chicks seem to dig it, which is kind of weird at the time because I bought it to project the image of a family man.

I had the car about 3-4 months before I got married. It was also the same time I joined Maxis as a graduate trainee/management associate. This car carried with it some great memories too. Like it was the 1st car Dani rode in.

For such a big car, the Murano was pleasantly easy to drive. Typical of Japanes cars then, its steering was a bit light, and dead on high speed, but it was hard to find fault with the overall package of the car. Power wasn't spectacular, but then again, you're driving a mini-truck. Which is why it's one of the most practical cars I've had.

It marries superb build quality, with durability (I tend to find, rather than avoid, potholes before my LASIK), and great presence on the road. I've always had a soft spot for 4WD (remember the Honda CRV story?), so I was very comfortable with the Murano. It was also very practical, and is a great highway cruiser.

I'm going to miss it...

My 5th Car - Suzuki Swift

The Murano was great, but we needed something small and nippy (and more importantly, fuel efficient) to drive around town. At that time, my new wife was still using her Kancil manual. In fact, when we first got married, I would drive the Kancil to the Taman Jaya LRT station to get to KLCC. So if anyone of you claim that I've never driven a Kancil, kiss my arse.

Tapi kesian tengok Rinie bawak manual. Not only that, the car looked like crap. So we went shopping for a car. It was a great moment for us as a couple because it was the first car we bought together.

The Swift is one of those little gems that constantly surprises you. I fell in love with the car as soon as I drove it. The simplicity in its execution, the whole "solid" feel of the black interior, the free-revving engine, and of course, its BMW-like handling made this a preferred mode of transport for us. I still think its a bit overpriced for the room it offers, but anyone who has their hearts set on it, I'd advise them to just go get one.

Rinie had Dani, and she stopped working. Then, we all moved to Shah Alam with my parents. There were basically too many cars in the porch, too little utilization. I was basically paying monthly for an extra run about, so I made the hard decision to sell off the Swift after just one year of having it. It's not a reflection on the car, just a simple economics decision that has to be made.

My 6th Car - ???

I just sold off my Murano, and just finished paying the insurance for a new car. It's nothing spectacular, just a natural evolution of my car ownership experience. Just for the record, we've gotten a Honda Stream RSZ for the family, so I don't need a big 4WD...for now.

Next year, who knows.


I've been very fortunate to have had these cars, and the pleasure of driving a few others as well. As a car nut, I feel very grateful for all these opportunities in life. I just hope that my sharing is not misconstrued as showing-off. I know plenty of people with better rides than me, and I also know a lot (too many) who hasn't had a chance to even drive a car. Insyaallaah, we all have our place in this world.

But anyway, here's my rankings of all the rides based on something beyond speed, handling etc. It's just my ranking of the best driving experience I've had.

1. Honda Jazz 1.4 iDSI - my most complete car at that time
2. Nissan Murano 2.5 - big, stylish and practical
3. Suzuki Swift - brilliant little pocket dynamite
4. BMW E46 - would have been no.1 if it weren't for self-caused issues
5. Satria 1.6 XLi - plenty of flaws mechanically, but thanks for the great memories
6. Proton Saga Megavalve - I love it just like you love your first sexual partner no matter how uncomforable and awkward it was.

Friday, August 20, 2010

How Berjiwa Rakyat?

1. On my way to Friday prayers, I was suddenly surrounded by 3-4 traffic policemen in their flashy big bikes aggressively shepherding cars to make way for what is ANOTHER V.I.P.

2. Suffice to say, it almost cause a bit of an accident in front of me as 4 lanes were suddenly being made into 1 by one lone macho policeman.

3. The VIP was royalty, probably the HM The King himself as there were more policemen escorting him than there are patrolling the whole of Subang Jaya.

4. It got me thinking to this conversation I had with a friend of mine somewhere in Johor recently.

5. Every time this big shot politician (very big shot) comes to town, there will be an order to patch up all roads that he will pass by so that it'll be smooth as silk.

6. Apparently this is not uncommon. It's not a directive from the politician himself, but as usual, when there's big gun coming to town, the locals would pull out all the stops.

7. I bet it's the same whenever politicians go on the ground - the grass would be cut, the clogged drain would be cleared, the stench from abandoned dumpsite covered up...even flood prone riverbanks would be dug deeper.

8. My question is, since no high ranking politician or VIPs ever have to fill up petrol, buy groceries, get stuck in traffic jam, start a business, renew their passports, get a maid and all the other things we middle-income folks have to go through, how could they ever understand what the rakyat is actually facing?

9. They don't send their kids to local school, and obviously local universities. They don't worry about unreliable Internet connection. They will very seldom run the risk of being mugged or robbed of their vehicle. They HAVE never bought tickets to ride the LRT or better yet, KTM Komuter. Apa lagi? Banyak lagi....

10. I'm not saying politicians should live like us. But maybe, sometimes, they should just keep the police escorts at home, and try being stuck in peak hour traffic along the Federal Highway. Then they'll start wrecking their brains out trying to solve our issues - one real problem at a time.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Fixing Our Economy - Talent

1. There has been a lot of talk about keeping talent here in Malaysia. Unfortunately, there seems to be less focus on what these talents would do.

2. I realize there's a missing link in our discussion of increasing and retaining the talent pool.

3. There's an assumption that as long as we can increase the number and retain the majority of these talented individuals, our economy would improve.

4. Perhaps I am stupid for thinking that where and what these talents would do is as important as keeping them.

5. Any investment, whether in talent or infrastructure, must bring about the most maximum impact it can give. And I think the way we structure and treat our talent has not given the most maximum impact for the benefit of the rakyat.

6. The brightest most talented students are picked and given scholarships by the Government, GLCs, and big corporations. These graduates would later be absorbed into some behemoth institution, further giving these institutions a bigger chunk of the talent pool.

7. And what do these bright individuals do that deserves the RM 1 million (eg: scholarship of engineering students in US) assistance using the rakyat's money and is the rakyat reaping the benefits?

8. On the surface, it may look as though we are. These individuals are paid at 20-30% premium over average market rate for graduates which makes them a high earner paying more taxes and spending more on the economy (house, holiday...). More importantly, it seems, they add value to the firm or corporation or agency where they work, which in turns make bigger profit thus making the company bigger, stronger and further stimulating the economy.

9. But are they really contributing more bang-per-buck this way? The cyclical nature, the spread of wealth, looks very linear, very simplified. Government gives you money to become smarter, you come back and serve the government or GLC you're paid a bit more, so you spend a bit more, thus stimulating other sectors, allowing these companies to make a bit more money, which would in turn go back to the government.

10. What if there's a way to amplify the impact our investment on our talented students will have on the nation's economy?

11. The way we're doing this at this moment has left us with a highly talented pool of WORKERS - not innovators, not trailblazers, and not entrepreneurs. It may sound fine, but the reality is that our continued production of workers has left us vulnerable once again as other poorer nations increase their own talent pool at a lower cost than ours.

12. Not only that, we fail to see that producing talented workers for the SERVICE INDUSTRY will not benefit us in the long run. Engineers no longer create, or innovate, instead they become analysts or marketers. We have more lawyers now than ever, when what we should focus on is simplifying legislation so that we don't need to depend on lawyers. We produce doctors, but not scientists that can do research and development. We have IT graduates that takes pride in maintaining SAP systems, but not tech-wiz that can actually come up with a new SAP.

13. Andy Grove, of Intel fame, wrote what I thought was a brilliant piece maybe a few months back about the perils of thinking that we can be innovators without being producers. He said that America's increasing reliance on overseas production, with the supposed caveat that they keep the innovation portion alive, is actually harming the future of their economy. He said that by moving production to lower cost nations, the impetus and technological capability to innovate on production resides with the manufacturer. The only way forward is for America to continue becoming a manufacturer of products at a cost of reduced profitability but with long term economic security in mind.

14. The same thinking must be applied in whatever discussion we have about our talent pool.

15. We need our bright graduates to be encouraged to become innovators and entrepreneurs. We need them to produce Made in Malaysia goods so that the actual technological know-how to innovate resides with us. We need them to spur a whole new idea of SMEs. In the US of A, bright students are always thinking of creating a start-up. Here in Malaysia, they all want to work for Khazanah or Petronas. Something's wrong with this picture.

16. We should continue giving them scholarships, but what if we change a bit the terms. Anyone who while studying or within any moment of serving their scholarship that can come up with a valid business proposal or creative invention should be allowed a sabbatical to flesh out their ideas, and not only that, they should be given access to credit facilities at favorable terms.

17. Anyone who turn in a positive cash flow position within 2 years and employs 10 or more Malaysians are exempted from further serving their scholarship. Further credit facilities should be extended to these individuals. In fact, the Government should set up a investment fund that specifically invests in these companies in exchange of an equity stake which shall be divested upon initial public offering (which must be a part of their terms of incorporation upon fulfillment of all regulatory requirements).

18. These graduates, if successful, not only create wealth for themselves but also other Malaysians with more room for growth than staid mega corporations. They are also obliged to return back the favor to the economy by adding liquidity and options to our stock market.

19. These initiatives could also work for research and development efforts. The measurement could be in terms of the number of patents filed or the impact such innovation has on its respective field. It doesn't have to be all profit oriented.

20. Maybe the government already has some of this measure, but I can certainly bet they haven't thought of incorporating it into their talent pool discussion.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Observing Ramadhan

1. It's funny how the usually less pious folks get all worked up for Ramadhan, while the pious ones remain pretty cool.

2. You know, sending all these messages spreading the holiness of Ramadhan, while at the same time lamenting that they'll not be clubbing for a month. Telling how Ramadhan is visiting with his friends, when you're still talking about having casual sex.

3. Or spending the entire day making a big fuss over buka puasa and not eating. Or making a big deal over completing a day of fasting.

4. I guess it's like the World Cup. Some non-football fans get all worked up once every four years, when actually they can't tell the difference between a sweeper and a winger, or they can't watch a game for the full 90 minutes without switching to Glee or Benci Bilang Cinta, or thinking that any game with a 0-0 scoreline is a bore.

5. The more I look at it, the more I realize Ramadhan is like the World Cup for a significant number of Muslims - an event of such a nature that they'll feel left out if they don't become a part of. You realize during the World Cup the sudden surge in interest on football, like it's the in thing to be interested in.

6. Therefore, people overcompensate. Suddenly 21 rakaat for terawikh is more than acceptable, when before 2 for Friday Prayers is too taxing. Like suddenly wearing Holland's jersey, when before you thought that football jerseys are for rempits.

7. The weird part is how people really get into the Ramadhan culture, without actually delving into the Ramadhan spirit. How many would want to bet (totally un-Ramadhan like) that there's more people at the Pasar Ramadhan than they are in the mosque for terawikh?

8. Anyway, I'm not judging. I'm not saying that's bad or wrong. It's an observation.

9. In fact, I'm the first to admit that sometimes I feel a bit like a fraud during Ramadhan.

10. The difference is I realize that I am, and I keep my mouth shut.

11. Bad Muslim? Maybe, and I'm working on it. Hypocrite? I don't think so.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Halal Or Not?

1. Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia or JAKIM for short has been in the news quite a bit this year.

2. Maybe the pent-up frustration of playing second fiddle to Khairy's Halal Development Corporation during Pak Lah Islam Hadhari's tenure has led to JAKIM's very prominent role this year.

3. Just recently they started asking Muslims to be aware and avoid hotels that doesn't have the Halal Certificate for its kitchen for Berbuka Puasa.

4. I read yesterday's piece on mStar (the Star's sunday Malay tabloid) on JAKIM's inspection and certification process. Suffice to say I've got a feeling your roadside warung would be declared as non-Halal going by the standard JAKIM's going by.

5. They may have the best of intentions, but the reality is that their certification goes beyond what we understand of what constitutes halal. It is not as simple as serving pork or the food having alcohol. Maybe what we (or I) understand is not good enough.

6. The problem is not in them certifying it with such strict compliance of what is more likely a man-made interpretation of Islamic principles. The truth is that Halal certification means the food or premise has far exceeded the minimum standard for safe consumption.

7. The problem lies in the impression JAKIM gives of those that does not have its certificate. Through its words and actions, JAKIM has basically hinted that non-certified food or premise is HARAM and cannot be consumed or visited or used by Muslims.

8. It is akin to me saying that if you don't drive a Mercedez, then you're breaking the law.

9. This is a fundamentally flawed impression given to consumers, who through lack of knowledge or ignorance, have chosen to leave the process of thought at the hands of religious officials.

10. The truth is that getting a HALAL certificate is VOLUNTARY. It is an option.

11. The lack of one does not automatically makes the premise or the food as HARAM. You don't see any qualms from Muslims being served with food from dirty unkempt cook working in a dirty premise that doesn't have the halal logo. But when a clean restaurant or hotel does not have it, we all go bonkers.

12. And from JAKIM's website, they have now asked all hotels that does not have HALAL certificate to stop advertising their buka puasa buffet as Buffet Ramadhan, saying that it'll cause us Muslims to be confused. Don't tell me JAKIM, apparently toothless, now has the privilege to OWN the term Ramadhan?

13. So what if we believe that the premise is halal, even though it doesn't have a Halal cert? Does having a Halal cert automatically makes the food halal and vice versa? My house's kitchen is not certified HALAL, but during open house hundreds of people come and eat there - does it make them any less Muslim, and my food any less halal?

14. I am not against certification. I am against voluntary certification being made to be involuntary, as if without it you're breaking God's law.

15. People must recognize and be educated on the difference between being CERTIFIED HALAL and Halal as a concept. It's fundamentally two different things.


Friday, July 30, 2010

Managing a Company - Talent

10. Talent is a major issue. You either don't have any, or the ones you have will eventually leave.

9. A growing number of quality graduates have tied up their future with big GLCs or multi-nationals.

8. This trend coincides with the lack of enthusiasm for personal enterprise and entrepreneurship amongst quality graduates.

7. Why bother with growing a company when you can hop from one big company to another after just a couple of years?

6. These has resulted in a dearth of talented individuals brave enough to join a start-up or SME.

5. SMEs, like my company, are left with almost nothing from the talent pool when it comes to hiring our staffs. We scrape at the bottom of the barrel. We don't even think of getting those experienced folks from JobStreet. My talent pool lies in

4. Although I do believe that street smart is as invaluable as book smarts, no amount of hard work and perseverance can mask incompetence. And a lot of people who failed in school generally fall into three categories : (a) low IQ (b) low motivation (c) social delinquent. Only some have managed to overcome these challenges.

3. The biggest issue we have is dealing with linear-thinking staffs. They work hard, they mean well, but they cannot and will never see the bigger picture. If A says A, then A it is, without thinking that maybe A has a problem with B and that C is more profitable for A.

2. It's not only about the money that we can offer. I can offer a fresh graduate the same amount he would get in a multinational, but we can't provide other hidden benefits like brand recognition, peer recognition and a social environment that's conducive for their own personal development and growth.

1. However, I have realized one thing. Street smart people can do 80% of what book smarts folks can give at only 40% the cost. In business, this is a crucial factor. Plus, they're more submissive, has less expectations, lower aspiration, and more likely to stay loyal.

I've always wished that this company is filled with me (talk about ego). But then again, I probably wouldn't enjoy managing people like me. I guess the grass is always greener on the other side.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Malaysian Dilemma 01 - Najib's Paradox

Teh o ais limau. Empty, boring mamak. One hour to kill.

1. 1Malaysia, as a concept and aspiration, is necessary for the betterment of all.

2. However, how fast we try to achieve it, must be thought out carefully.

3. Go too slow, and Najib will be deemed as not meeting the growing and vocal demands of the political liberals (predominantly non-Bumi), and probably lose even more ground amongst the non-BN and fence-sitters in the next General Election.

4. Go too fast, and he will lose his own political mileage within UMNO, and with that BN's hope of winning the next GE.

5. He is caught between losing what he has, or losing what he needs to have.

6. The political liberals do have valid points in a lot of their demands.

7. At the same time, they have also failed to understand, or even try to understand, that in politics and life, sometimes being theoretically right is not sufficient. A sense of perspective, and a wider viewpoint, would lead a lot of them to realize that life does not start and end in Kuala Lumpur only.

8. The political conservatives (predominantly Malay) has grown wary and weary with the demands, or rather, the verbalization of demands after years of being used to life as a "protected species".

9. The speed of change, either too fast or slow, may result in a complete failure of achieving a united Malaysia.

10. Push too many things to fast, and a growing number of Malays will suddenly find themselves aligning more and more with the likes of PERKASA, which is far from the ideal scenario for anyone.

11. A segregated and segmented Malay diaspora is slowly taking shape as we speak, and will continue to grow if they cannot find a moderate voice from one single party. This will lead to extremism, fueling political instability within the Malay population, paving the way for a non-dominant political majority. For a growing country aspiring to be recognized as a developed nation, this is a potential banana skin.

12. Push too little things too slow, and by GE 13, there's no hope in hell that the non-Bumis, in particular the Chinese, would ever put Barisan in power.

13. The effect of which would place the potential for a coalition of convenience to be in power. Whether they'd actually result in a united Malaysia is a different matter entirely, especially as a matter of principle one party must claim that anyone who doesn't subscribe to their form of governance would go to hell (no small matter).

14. If only one side just try to understand that, just like Amy Winehouse, rehab is not easy.

15. If only the other side can imagine joining a club but not being allowed to use some facilities, which is open to other types of members, despite paying the same fees and fulfilling the same entry requirements.

16. If 14 and 15 happens, then 1Malaysia will stop just being a catchy slogan, but the new reality for our beloved nation.

p/s: If you're in Najib's shoes right now, what would you do?

Friday, July 23, 2010

10 Things About MLM...

You may not know that I own a direct-selling company. You know, like Amway, Avon, Tupperware. And you probably don't know that another name for direct-selling is Multi-Level Marketing or MLM. Yes, the dreaded 3 letter word in our lexicon.

Not all direct-selling companies are structured for MLM type compensation (although 95% of them are...), but all MLM companies are in fact direct-selling companies. I am not here to explain what is MLM or direct-selling. You can go to the Direct-Selling Association of Malaysia official website (Google it), of which we are one of its esteemed members, and find out more.

I'm just here trying to jot down some thoughts I have about this business, and observation being in the industry, not as a distributor, but the actual owner and chief executive of a running concern. Especially in light of the recent controversies surrounding them.

10. MLM is not a GUARANTEED profit-making business. It is, like any other private enterprise, carries with it the risk of failure. The reason why you hear so many people failing is that the number of people joining is huge. It's recorded that over 4 million Malaysians are registered direct-sellers. Assume that as a general rule, all businesses has a 20% average success rate. Therefore, more than 3.2 million direct-sellers could be considered unsuccessful. So next time you hear someone complaining that they make money off MLM, you know they're part of nature's 80/20 law.

9. Fortunately (or unfortunately), we really cannot determine the exact criteria of a successful MLM-er, meaning that while MLM is definitely not for everyone, we really cannot say who these "everyone" is. From high-school dropouts to PhD. holders, professionals to car wash cleaner, fat to thin, old to young, women to men, married to single, friendly to downright scary...I've seen them all succeed in this business. When you cannot screen prospects, you have to accept everyone, and when you accept everyone, you run the risk of a higher NUMBER of failures (although percentage wise, you're right on par with any other private enterprise).

8. No one is NOT SUITABLE for this business, which means that almost EVERYONE feel that they can do it. And when they feel that they can do it, and then they fail, they automatically assume there's foul play. Reality is that this is NOT an easy business to succeed in.

7. But no business in this world is easy. For some, doing MLM is second nature, and they transition well into the business. For others, it takes time, effort and most importantly, perseverance.

6. Unfortunately, perseverance is not the easiest trait to possess. The barrier to entry for a legitimate MLM business is relatively low. Imagine investing RM 100,000 in your own restaurant. Now imagine investing RM 100 to 1000 to join a MLM business. Which one would be easier for you to quit in? In fact, when you open a restaurant, you're probably expecting not to make money the first 6 months, and you'll still be committed to it. But when you start a low-cost business, it's so easy for anyone to just close shop when they're not making money in the first 6 weeks!

5. Because the barrier to entry is low, and the concept is a bit different, a lot of people don't treat it as a legitimate business. When you don't take the time to strategize, organize, execute and all the other things you'd normally do for a normal business, you start down the path of failure. How many hours do you spend a day running a restaurant? How many hours a day do you spend on your MLM business? See the difference?

4. When the barrier to entry is low, and the potential profit is high, and the number of pax involved is huge, you can generally guess that there's bound to be a group bound on cheating others. Like the doctors that over-prescribed medication, or the lawyer that embezzles your money, no business enterprise is free from cheaters. But in a volume game like MLM, the number of people involved in a scam can multiply like rabbits.

3. Unfortunately, there's no way to determine a legitimate business presentation and a fraudulent one, until the con has been executed. I've had cases where my registered distributor goes around collecting money from people but never delivering the products. As a general rule, any presentation where you don't have to sell a product, should be viewed with caution.

2. People who claim to have failed in this business can be categorized into two categories : those who accept their failures, and those who don't. The latter group, based on our informal survey, either has an unrealistic expectation or did not understand the concept or was deliberately misled by the promoter. Those who did accept, often admitted lack of focus, lack of commitment and lack of effort in the process, from failure to attend training to failure to even try the product they purchased.

1. This business, if done right, and ethically, can result in a beneficial two-way relationship between upline and downline in a huge group that is not only reasonably profitable, but also has a close-knit family-like relationship that goes beyond dollar and cents. Sometimes, I've met people who are perfectly happy to earn an extra RM 500 a month, while I've also met those who RM 50,000 a month from this business is not good enough. To each his own.

A lot more observations on these, and other matters concerning the industry.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Wish Someone Told Me In High School...

1. You can be 25 and earn enough to afford a house, two cars and a luxurious life by being a pilot. Why bother with a degree?

2. SPM is important. For bragging, and not much else.

3. There's one place that accepts anyone, guarantees promotion and pay rise, sends you overseas on other people's money and won't ever fire you for incompetence. It's called the Civil Service.

4. What you learn in High School matters jack-shit in the real world. What you learn in University matters only if you turned out to be a lecturer.

5. People who were hot in High School will turn out less than hot 5 years after graduation.

6. If you work in McDonald's straight out of High-School, you'll earn more than your friends who joined a 5 1/2 year law school when they graduate. And you'll probably be smarter too.

7. Only in exceptional cases does the "true love" that you had in High-School leads to long-term relationship. Most will break-up once you start working. Either one of you will be uglier to the other person by the time you enter University.

8. Nobody cares if you're a member of the Leo/Interact/Pengakap/Bulan Sabit Merah/Kelab Sukan...

9. Being a sports star in High School is a precursor to being a failure in almost everything. Only in rare cases have this been proven otherwise.

10. Getting married is the best thing you could ever do.

11. Being monogamous is the worst thing you could ever get into.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

More running, more dieting (less oil, less sugar)

At the time of writing, by tomorrow, we will have to deal with increasing petrol, diesel and sugar prices. Something brief for us to ponder:

1. At an average of 80 litres used per week, the increase is worth RM 4. That is less than a pack of cigarettes.

2. During 2008, when Pak Lah "wisely" increased petrol prices by a whopping 30-40 cents, the roads leading to work (I was with Maxis then) was for most part, relatively smooth. Don't expect the same this time.

3. The real impact will be suffered in the economic cycle involving transportation and manufacturing, which finally will be transferred to consumers. I read somewhere that 75% of petrol consumption is for commercial usage, either in the manufacturing process or transportation.

4. For example, my slimming product, coffee and other consumables has sugar as one of its ingredients. The increase in the price of sugar will be transferred from my contract manufacturer to me. This is not inclusive of the expected revision in transportation charges from the manufacturer to my company.

5. On our part, we then have to adjust our internal cost of transportation. Then we need to factor in the increase in cost to transport the finished goods to the end consumer.

6. Maybe we'll increase our prices, or maybe we won't. That is a business decision that has to be made by almost every company, regardless whether it involves direct product to consumers or others.

7. Even construction, cleaning, even services, would be affected.

8. The normal solution is to transfer the cost to the consumer - increase in the price of your coffee, increase in the price of magazine subscription...

9. So at the pumps, you may be losing only RM 4 a week, but the real cost is being felt whenever you buy some goods, from the frappucino at Starbucks to the raw fish at the local wet market.

10. I am all for a reduction of subsidies, with the savings be better utilized for nation-building (whereby my following write-ups on improving the economy would cover).

11. I too can accept the increase in the prices of consumer goods. But I find it difficult to stomach that prices keep going up, but it never comes down once the subsidy kicks back again.

12. Government shouldn't give and take back subsidies. I think Najib's administration is gradually moving forward with removal of subsidies without putting it back in.

13. Unfortunately, I have doubt that the money saved would be maximized for the benefit of the rakyat - not as long as there exist strong structural defects that allows leakages...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fixing Our Economy 01

This is not the easiest subject to cover. Especially not when this entry is made via Blackberry.

The economy is a lot like our body. If it's sick,you can prescribe it medication,which helps solve the current condition,or you can subscribe to a long-term health program,which may help prevent any other condition from cropping up.

For example,inflation is like high fever. Increasing the interest rate is like panadol. But combining prudent fiscal policy with flexible monetary principle while ensuring stable economic growth is a long term program that sounds easy but often than not,is way harder to implement.

A lot like you being asked to watch your diet, stop smoking, exercise everyday and have a lot of rest etc. Easier said than done.

I'm hearing a lot of intelligent and not-so-intelligent people giving their opinion on our economic situation. More often than not, the "stupid" folks have a better grasp of the underlying problem than over-trained analysts.

I'm triggered to write a bit of this because I'm genuinely filled to the brim with ideas. And at the same time I'm reading Bloomberg BW. Which stimulates my mind to produce ideas.

So its a vicious cycle isn't it?

Which is why I'll write about this gradually over the course of this week.

Sent via BlackBerry from Maxis

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Building a Playlist

Insight: As we all deal with escalating inflation on a lot of things (houses, petrol, cars...), this current generation is also blessed with getting a lot of things for free and with ease - music, news, knowledge... Just something for us to think about.

Anyway, I am now in the midst of building another playlist to accompany my often long and boring commuting schedule. Unlike you cool folks, I don't own an iPod (or its ilk), and by some strange fate my Jap-spec 2005 Nissan Murano has a MiniDisc (anyone still using that?) player but its CD player does not support MP3. So I'm left with the task of actually picking a select number of songs (20 maximum) to fill an actual Audio CD.

I think part of the appeal of building a playlist or mixtape, at its primitive level, is the selection process. I know for a fact that I really do enjoy the challenge. It IS quite a challenge, because just like my very diverse taste in girls, cars and everything else, my musical inclination has so far veered from mellow ballads to heart-thumping trance tracks.

Some folks just pick all the latest downloaded track and burn it, but not me. I actually have a set strategy for building a playlist.

No. 1 - Identify the objective. Night out in town, road trip with friends, date night, road trip with colleagues, family trip, alone trip...all carry very different meaning when it comes to choosing your tracks.

No. 2 - Identify your current mood. Are you depressed, angry, excited, all of the above? It's stupid to play All By Myself if you just broke up, or maybe not? Sometimes all you want is a big tear-jerker to get over someone. Know thyself.

No. 3 - Check the amount of time you'll spent on the road. Is it one continuous playlist? Or are your bar-hopping across town? You can be a bit loose in the arrangement with the latter, but for long distance, you've got to really think hard.

No. 4 - Identify the route. Nothing screams amateur playlist more than one hip-hop track after another when you're in a kampung setting. Get in the mood folks.

No. 5 - Current hits or random selection? Personally, my current hits is 50% Fly FM and 50% Billboard derived so there's a lot of songs you don't hear often and quite a few that brings familiarity to the proceeding.

No. 6 - Identify who's in the car. I thoroughly enjoy sharing a Led Zeppelin/Beatles mixtape with a fellow fan, but I also enjoy exposing something new to the less musically-inclined. So do play that Daughtry track, but immediately follow it up with a bit Kings Of Leon.

No. 7 - Finally, have fun choosing your songs. 80% of the joy comes from listening to a LOT of tunes before choosing your 20. Along the way you'll remember the song you used as your ringtone back in Semester 1, UiTM, or the song that you used to "pujuk" your future wife, or the song that 5 other guys in the car sang along after a boring lecture (it was a Sheila on 7 track...:).

The whole process may seem like a bit of a chore. But if choosing music is a chore, then ladies and gentleman, I am your slave for life.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Grass is Greener

I'm away this week for four days on a roadtour to the North.

In my line of work,occasionally I have to travel and meet my distributors to explain and present on the latest product,among other things. It's a bit like a political roadtour,but without the "duit ehsan".

Nevertheless,the early parts of the roadtour is usually the hardest,especially the being alone part.

I'm not really into spending time outside of work with my staffs or distributors. It's bad for business. It's bad for my mental health.

So I'm usually stuck in a hotel room,with a book,which I usually don't read because somehow,I watch a lot of TV. I guess this is the time where I usually catch up on the crap they show on terrestial tv.

It's lonely.Boring with a capital B.

But yesterday,I met a teacher who wanted to find out how my company's product can help his youngest child battle leukimia (blood cancer).

A nice man,pleasant personality,but there's a profound sadness in his eyes.

Which puts me into my place. I understand what I'm doing is not merely to make money,but to spread our good fortune via our products to people like this teacher.

While I was spending the weekend with the dilemma of choosing what new car to buy,here is a man whose child had to undergo his first chemotherapy session last Saturday.

Oh yeah. The kid's only ONE year and 7 months old. 1 year 7 months. And cancer positive.

Think about that.

Sent via BlackBerry from Maxis

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Kenapa Tidak Bahasa Malaysia?

Semalam saya sempat singgah ke MPH Subang Parade yang pada pendapat saya jauh lebih mantap dari Popular Bookstore, Empire. Perbandingan dibuat kerana walaupun saya sudah berpindah ke Shah Alam (kembali ke pangkal jalan, wahai anak Melayu:p), kawasan Subang tetap menjadi pujaan hati.

Kalau hendak diikutkan, pada pandangan subjektif saya, yang terbaik dan paling memenuhi cita rasa selama ini adalah Kinokuniya di KLCC. Rupa-rupanya, tidak semua kedai buku sama. Dari segi koleksi yang dibawa, dan cara penyusunan, masing-masing memberi impak berbeza kepada pengalaman membelek buku.

Tetapi tujuan saya menulis coretan ini bukanlah untuk menceritakan tentang kedai buku, tetapi kebangkitan penulisan dalam Bahasa Malaysia. Saya terkejut melihat koleksi buku-buku Bahasa Malaysia kian bertambah di MPH Subang Parade. Kalau dulu buku Bahasa lebih menjurus ke arah novel jiwang karat yang memenuhi ketegangan seksual terbuku dalam jiwa anak-anak Melayu, kini semakin banyak buku praktikal seperti buku motivasi dan buku perniagaan yang diolah sendiri atau diterjemahkan dari teks Bahasa Inggeris.

Saya teringat lagi perbualan pasca makan malam di Apartment KLCC beberapa tahun yang lalu di mana dalam keghairahan penyokong Pakatan Rakyat berseloroh, dia mempertikaikan kepentingan Bahasa Malaysia. Beliau dengan yakin menyatakan bahawa "BM is dead". Jelas sekali apa yang berlaku sekarang adalah sebaliknya. Dari buku ke majalah, dari blog ke laman web, dari rancangan TV ke muzik, Bahasa Malaysia semakin banyak digunakan.

Saya sering berpendapat bahawa Bahasa mencerminkan bangsa, dan Bahasa tidak membuktikan kebijaksanaan ataupun kebolehan. Malangnya mentaliti masyarakat Malaysia adalah untuk mengagungkan bahasa asing, terutamanya Bahasa Inggeris, sehinggakan pendapat dari tukang cat rumah boleh dianggap "bijak" hanya kerana beliau seorang Inggeris yang bercakap Bahasa Inggeris dengan loghat British.

Saya lihat bangsa Jepun, bangsa Korea, bangsa Taiwan, bangsa German tetap maju dengan kebolehan teknologi dan inovasi walaupun majoriti rakyatnya menggunakan bahasa kebangsaan. Pada saya, adalah lebih penting untuk melihat kepada pembentukan minda kreatif, inovatif dan berani mencuba daripada meletakkan kepentingan 100% kepada kebolehan berbahasa Inggeris.

Masalah lebih meruncing apabila rakyat Malaysia sendiri tidak menganggap bahawa Bahasa Malaysia adalah bahasa kebangsaan. Dan bila dikatakan Bahasa mencerminkan bangsa, ramai yang meletakkan Bahasa Malaysia sebagai Bahasa untuk bangsa Melayu sahaja.

Situasi ini jelas berbeza dari keadaan di Indonesia. Saya difahamkan, walaupun sebenarnya Bahasa Jawa lebih banyak digunakan di seluruh Indonesia, kerajaan telah mengambil keputusan nekad meletakkan Bahasa Indonesia yang diambil dari dialek Melayu Riau. Oleh itu, walaupun Indonesia mempunyai lebih 300 bahasa berbeza, kebanyakan dari rakyatnya menerima dan menggunakan Bahasa Indonesia sebagai perantaraan harian. Kerana itulah orang gaji anda boleh memahami sedikit sebanyak Bahasa Malaysia walaupun mereka dari kampung Jawa. Saya seronok melihat pelajar-pelajar Indonesia yang menuntut di kolej swasta berborak dalam Bahasa Indonesia, walaupun mereka keturunan Cina.

Integrasi inilah yang dicari-cari dalam usaha memantapkan perpaduan rakyat Malaysia. Malangnya, jika rakyat, yang sibuk mahu digelar Bangsa Malaysia, masih ego dan tidak mahu melepaskan mentaliti mendahulukan budaya kaum masing-masing dalam sistem persekolahan nasional, kita tidak akan melihat penerimaan Bahasa Malaysia sebagai bahasa yang mengikat diri kita sebagai satu jiwa dalam satu Malaysia.

Nota: Saya menggunakan Bahasa Malaysia sebab saya rasa itu yang kita harus usahakan. Bukan Bahasa Melayu yang dari bahasa sendiri telah menampakkan sikap eksklusif dan bukan inklusif. Saya juga menulis dalam Bahasa Malaysia sekali sekala untuk membuktikan bahawa kebolehan berbahasa Malaysia tidak melemahkan kebolehan berbahasa asing dan sebaliknya.

Tahukah anda bahawa MPH ditubuhkan oleh salah seorang tokoh Methodist awal di Tanah Melayu. Perubahan nama termasuk Methodist Publishing House yang kemudian menjadi Malaya Publishing House sebelum bertukar ke Malaysia Publishing House. Dalam sejarah yang sudah lebih 120 tahun, MPH tidak pernah dimiliki 100% oleh rakyat Malaysia sehingga Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary membeli MPH pada tahun 2002.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Lonely Is...

People often asked if being married is lonelier than not. Maybe because they're up all night with friends, or away to trips here and there, or shagging one women after another. To substitute all these for a lifetime of implied monogamy and less social space is deemed to be lonely.

To me, it doesn't really matter what's your status. Married or not married, single or with a partner, with or without parents.

Because loneliness is a state of being, developed from your thoughts. Now that we share a lot of our thoughts through twitter and fb and other social networking medium, it's not impossible to develop theories on the concept of loneliness based on your twits, comments and status updates.

If you have many friends, and yet you still feel the need for external affirmation (via praise, compliment or seek satisfaction from people commenting on your photos etc.), you are lonely. If you have a lot of activities, and yet still seek more, and cannot stop from inviting yourself to the activities of others, you are lonely. If you join one craze after another, if you hop from one relationship after another, if you can't stop selling yourself short in public, if you like the attention of strangers, you are lonely. No matter how you appear not to be, you are actually lonely inside.

I believe that people can have as many friends as they want and yet be lonely. This is because that true loneliness comes not from the lack of people who recognize you, but from you not really recognizing yourself. Not from people who don't wish you, but from you not wishing yourself. Not from people who don't talk to you, but from you not talking to yourself.

True loneliness comes when you don't acknowledge, and act, like you really want to. It comes from conformity to a norm that you don't really believe in. It comes when you fake your "un-loneliness".

You love sitting by yourself to read books. You enjoy just chilling with your mom watching TV. You absolutely wish you could have 8 hours of sleep every night. And yet...there you go, to Changkat, or wherever the latest hot spot seems to be, with friends whom you smile a fake smile, with partners whom you pretend to find attractive, with people whom you pretend to be impressed with.

Life can be so fulfilling, and not so lonely, once you accept who you really are, and embrace it fully. If who you really are involves a lot of partying, so be it. But if it's not, think hard before saying yes to another drunken night.

Remember, being alone is not the same as being lonely.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Why We Hate/Like Cristiano Ronaldo

10. When he walks out on the pitch, he makes sure he's one of the last, walking as slow as possible.

Possible excuse: I don't want to stretch himself
Real reason       : I don't want others to block the cameras

9. When he misses a chance, he reacts like he's passing shit after a week of constipation

Possible excuse : I was really hoping it would go in and score for the team
Real reason        : I'm lazy to drop back and defend so I pretend to care about the missed chance while the opposition attacks

8. When a free kick just misses the goal (or a spectacular try), he would look up to the heavens and then wag his finger like it's hot

Possible excuse : My fate is in the hot hands of God
Real reason        : Damn, I'm so hot that God better watch out

7. When he scores, he gives a cheeky wink and shrug of the shoulder

Possible excuse  : It wasn't me, it was the team
Real reason         : It's definitely me, and it was damn easy

6. When he scores, he opens up his arms for others to embrace

Possible excuse  : This is for all of you, my friends
Real reason         : Hail to your savior, talentless twats!

5. When he dribbles, he suddenly falls down after a light touch from the opponent

Possible excuse  : At my speed, any touch would be amplified and cause me to lose balance
Real reason         : The camera will focus on my face

4. When his team mates score, he doesn't join in the celebration

Possible excuse  : I want him to have all the spotlight
Real reason         : He should've f*ck*ing pass to me!

3. When the ball doesn't get to him fast enough, he will go all bonkers and throw his hands in the air in resignation

Possible excuse  : I wish we could work together as a team to score
Real reason         : I want the ball so the camera would focus on me, you ugly Iberians!

2. When he takes a freekick, he places the ball carefully, he takes three big steps backwards (always, he never turns around for the run-up), stand with his legs apart, hands on the side like a gunslinger, puffs out his chest, looks directly at the ball, clenches his jaws and butt, with exaggerated breathing style.

Possible excuse  : I have perfected this technique to deliver maximum power and accuracy to my free-kicks
Real reason         : I am "poyo"

1. After a match he takes off his shirt

Possible excuse  : I want to exchange my jersey with my poor opponents
Real reason         : Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian...who's next?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Perils of Flip-Flops

Not the ones you wear. I'm referring to decisions. Making one and later revoking or backtracking.

Indecisiveness must be differentiated from correcting a mistake. The former is a weakness, while the latter is a strength.

Recently, the government announced that Ascot (one of Vincent Tan's many money-making vehicles) will be re-issued a sports betting license, thus giving it a strong advantage as the only legalized sports betting company in Malaysia, much like Genting monopolized the casino industry. Then, after a few weeks and after Vincent Tan has made the necessary public disclosure including his own personal offer to be a Malaysian Bill Gates (which I think is a bit "poyo"), the government back-tracked. There's no other way to describe it.

Now, I won't comment on whether sports betting, or gambling in general, is good or not. Even if they can show statistics that says 100% of people who gambled will lose their family, kill their kids, and dance naked in Dataran Merdeka, it wouldn't matter.

What matters is having a government that can make a thorough strategic analysis of the situation before making a decision. Surely they must think not only of the financial repercussions (in terms of tax collected) but also the political and social fall-out from any decision. Flip-flopping is bad, not only in business to make money, but in the business of running a nation.

Until today, I still have reservations on buying a new car due to constant rumors about lowering of excise duty on imported cars. I've been hearing this since 2008.

Stick to your guns if you truly believe that the future will be all the better for a decision made today. As a leader of my own organization, I know how hard it is to make a decision. But that's why we're here. To decide. Whether it's right or wrong.

Side note: Did you know that Genting Highlands (I think First World?) is the world's largest casino resort?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Lessons From England's Exit

We can learn a lot from football.

1. Humans are prone to error (and the better for it, IMHO). It's what humans do.

2. The amount of newspaper coverage you get has no direct correlation to your actual value (Barisan Nasional, please take note).

3. It's hard to find a solution to a problem, but very easy to point out problems in a solution (Pakatan Rakyat, please take note).

4. One defeat can erase dozens of wins (all business leaders, take note).

5. When you're up, everyone's kissing your ass. When you're down, everyone's kicking it.

6. Ability to speak in English is not an indication of intelligence (John Terry's pretty vocal, isn't he?).

7. We can aim for the sky but first, make sure we have wings to fly (Malaysia Boleh, please take note).

8. Higher wages does not mean better players (watch out NEM).

9. You cannot manage egos (all managers, please take note).

10. Never bet on England. Ever.

Friday, June 25, 2010

From 3GP to GDP – A Thinking Man’s Drinking Session

I have promised to make things simple. Here, I will just list down the topics my good mates and I covered in a short 1 hour lunch session, in order of their appearance in the conversation.

1.  World Cup 2010. Of course, we talked about Italy’s funny exit (I thought it was funny) and how New Zealand proved to the world that they’re more than just Kiwis and All-Blacks.

2.   In spirit of the current controversy surrounding Ascott’s gambling license, we decided to do our own social experiment *ehem ehem* on sports betting. So far, it has been proven that some are clearly luckier than the others (on a consistent basis, no less), while the rest (majority) are saddled with “enormous” debt.

3.  Which leads us, inexplicably, to Ariel Peterporn’s controversy. No further details necessary. Except that TM’s decision to ban most “interesting” sites is futile due to the simple fact we could use Google’s DNS (oh, you didn’t know?).

4.  One of them complained about the quality of 3GP videos, while another commented that almost all materials involving Malays are in 3GP, which lead to us talking about the weird places these folks fornicate. They all agree that when we have multiple videos of Malay couples having sex in open staircases, on motorbikes and in the jungle, there’s something seriously wrong.

5.  Based on this 3GP discussion, they wondered why Malays fornicate everywhere and with anyone.  And how come that anyone does not include them? I concluded that they’re much too intelligent to meet these girls from the videos. They regretted studying hard.

6.  At the current rate, Malays would procreate at a pace that would overwhelm all in Malaysia, and that may not be such a good thing. I mentioned about Lee Kuan Yew’s social engineering program in Singapore to control the QUALITY of babies.

7.  That led me to lament that Malaysia has not controlled its population growth in tandem with the economic theory for rapid progress. And how do we normally measure progress for a nation? Gross Domestic Product or GDP.

8.  What are the merits of measuring via GDP? What about the actual happiness of the people? Would high GDP growth be worth it if the people are sad and stressed-out (like Singaporeans!)?

Yes, we did cover a lot of things for such a short span of time. And that’s how we roll. I’ve been with group of guys who does nothing but talk about girls, and I’ve been with groups that talks only of politics. To them, Luna Maya’s probably a name of a Liberal Democratic party in Indonesia.

So girls, this is how a thinking man’s group session goes about. We’ll talk about the silly stuffs for sure (because we are Alpha male), but we do talk about serious stuff. Much more serious than girls talking endlessly about the plot to Twilight. 

It’s about a vampire and a werewolf chasing after a freak. And you need 6 hours of movie-time for that?