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January 19, 2012

Who’s the boss?

I don’t care if you are an entrepreneur or if you work in a small medium enterprise or if you work in a Fortune 500 company. You don’t work for someone else, you work for yourself. If you think about it that way, you dictate a lot of things. Yeah, I know. I don’t work in your company. I don’t know your clients. I should come try and work with your boss. Precisely. That’s why I asked. Who do you work for?
January 18, 2012

What resolutions?

Now that the New Year is way behind us. Just a quick question – What will you say to yourself in eleven months time? Every year, every month, every day is a chance to change and improve. Create a new habit. But you have not started. You wait for the perfect day. The perfect whatever. I am not sure what you are waiting for or afraid of. What will it be? Risk of failure or chances of success?
January 17, 2012

Are you the authentic brand in your category?

You probably created your brand with a preset notion in mind. Across time, you see your competitors doing well with certain criteria. And you set out to photocopy this set of criteria. It’s your right to do that. You are the brand owner. Anytime you try to measure yourself against a preset notion of what you are trying to create with what someone else has drawn then you lose what is authentically you. Worst, you lose the opportunity to draw the perimeter of definition for someone else. Are people coloring along the lines you have drawn?
January 16, 2012

What are positioning statements, really?

It’s not something you write and agree upon and have everyone single mindedly do that for years and years. Well, yes, to some extent you need to do that. But you better not forget that positioning your brand is like walking up a moving downward escalator. Do not forget that every time you try to position yourself, someone else is also repositioning you. Your positioning is dynamic. Alive and being thwarted daily by your competitors and consumers. What is your stance now?
January 13, 2012

What is luxury to you?

For some people it is time with the family. For others it could be doing their Bassai-dai to perfection a 100 times without fail effortlessly. Yet others it could be as simple as sharing a mug of ramen noodles, beer and catching late night TV when the “cost-centers” (a friend calls their kids that) are in bed. I find it interesting when people call their brands ‘luxury’, as in luxury brands and luxury products. “I am in the luxury category,” he said. “Hmmm…interesting,” is my answer. The luxury that my friends and I know are all somewhat intangible. Perhaps we […]
January 12, 2012

What do you hate your boss for?

People forget “initiative” is to be taken. Not given. That’s why it is called “take initiative.” I read that in Seth Godin’s blog. Some people wait to be “given”…in which case it would not be an initiative. We have another word for it, “instruction”. When you wait to be given it is usually instruction. Then don’t complain you have no influence over things. What else will be taken away from you?
January 11, 2012

When do you become an arrogant bitch?

Does it happen when you have a booming business, your brand is much sought after and you can’t seem to dish out your goods fast enough? You give your customers the “take it or leave it” because you have 100 customers waiting eagerly in line to buy. What’s one to lose when you have another 100. You most definitely cannot spare your precious time to answer all the questions that a new customer has for you. And what about your staff? Are they acting like billion-ass to help you cut down the waiting line? Is your brand monopolizing with contempt?
January 10, 2012

When do you say sorry and shut up?

When a customer writes in to state a problem they encounter, it’s because they care enough to spend the few minutes to write in. Most times, they will just bitch about it to whoever’s within earshot. And at other times, there can the frustrations until they explode at the next intolerably disappointing service. By then it’s too late. How should a brand respond to the first feedback served to you? The customer has just done you an invaluable service. She doesn’t want to hear why you are right and how much investment you have put into your product to make […]
January 9, 2012

What are you denying your brand today?

Let’s just say you’ve been diagnosed by your dentist today that your gum is badly infected. So bad that nothing you do from now on is going to save your nice set of teeth – all 32 of it! And you’ve had three consultations before with three different dentists. All had given you the same prognosis – you will lose all your teeth soon. Which of these actions will you take? Disregard all the dentists’ diagnosis and seek further consultations until you get to hear one that will tell you otherwise. Ignore the recommended treatment by the dentist since the […]
January 6, 2012

Who’s throwing cold water in your face?

I know of someone who finally woke up to her folly when the azan (call to prayer) just sounds extremely loud to her. Sometimes it is not what. It is who.  And it may not be divine in nature. Maybe it is better if you have a human alarm to ring you out of our behavioral slumber. Not everyone that throws cold water in your face is a bad person. Appoint someone and give the candidate a bucket. Tell them to use it when it is time. Who’s waking you up?
January 5, 2012

How do you find a better way?

Perhaps one way is to ask – have you considered the different options? There is more than one way to write this, ask that question, and interpret that poem. What you have is but one of the many options. What is stopping you from finding that better option? That you have to dig deep. A few things come to mind. Laziness, arrogance and denial. Until something hits you and your business takes a hit. Then you will have to think of a better option. What’s your excuse?
January 4, 2012

Can you take me to your leader?

Does your company thinks that change can come by just launch a plan? Perhaps it is time to think again, whether it is improving customer service or even relationships between feuding departments. What overhauls the way a company crawls doesn’t hit it like a lighting bolt. It creeps slowly into people and forms a culture. It needs following up. It needs commitment from people we call leaders. And people who self-appoint to make sure they change for the better and leads others to do the same. It starts with you. And if you are in a leadership position reading this. […]
January 3, 2012

Which is your house?

The home you grew up in? The family you spent the most time with? The books that you read? A kind teacher? What built you? I think it’s a good question to ask when most answers fail you in times of hardship. What built you?
December 30, 2011

What is your ambition?

One of those predictable essay titles they gave you when you were in primary school. Then again in secondary school. And you try to better the one you wrote 6 years ago. Now that you are in the working world, perhaps it is good to write that essay again. But with a little different way of asking that question. What do you want to become? Not what you want to be. Like a millionaire. Or a doctor or anything of that sort. What do you want to become? People aren’t certain what they want to be in the future. But […]
December 29, 2011

What about the execution?

The concept is simple. Mobile Number Portability (MNP). It simply means you can opt to keep your mobile number if you decide to switch service provider. It’s that simple. Fill in form, wait for sms to switch your sim card, insert new sim card. The complication starts when you are a supplementary-line holder. You can’t just port your number. You have to first pay a registration fee to convert from supplementary line to main line. Then wait for the main line to activate (that means wait a day). Then go back to cancel your main line. Then migrate to the […]
December 28, 2011

How many boulders have you allowed your brand today?

Who are the boulders in your plan? Those that tells you these things … I’ve got no time to finish your work today. Maybe tomorrow. It can’t be done. [No solution given. No alternative given.] This is not how we approach it. [Again. No solution given. No alternative given.] I’m not sure how this should be done. Your brief was not clear [This is told to you on the day the deadline is due.] Sloppy. Distracted. Laggard. Ignorant. Nonchalant. Seriously, are your boulders that indispensable that you allow them to have so much control over your success?
December 27, 2011

Is your brand facing paralysis?

Do you hear resistance each time a new idea is being tabled? Are you allowing fear of failure to take control over your brand’s success? The next time you are about to say no or wait, stop for a moment and ask yourself this question. Is your brand missing the best opportunity to fear and resistance?
December 23, 2011

People don’t read anymore?

Is it true that people do not read anymore? I have always used the example that if I wrote a one pager on “All about the snakes of Mojave desert” you are not likely to read it. Unless of course you have an appetite for the reptile. On the other hand, if I wrote a 400 page book and title it, “All about XXX of YYY” – insert your name at XXX and where you work in YYY,  then I bet you, you will read it page for page. Why? Quite simply. Relevance. If it is relevant to you, you […]
December 22, 2011

Are you giving your customers a roller coaster ride of his life?

How did you make your customer feel today when he walked into your store? Did he get a pleasant greeting or a bark from your front liners? When he finally gets passed that, did he had to wait in the dark not knowing what is going to happen next or was there someone who attended to him immediately? Your customer’s experience starts way before he stepped into the store. He came to the store because he was spoken to warmly and invited to come for a visit. It’s ok if he’s not buying, you said, just come and browse, no […]
December 21, 2011

Are you being robbed?

You’ve lived with your brand for the last decade. You’ve breathed life into it, you nurture it with your tender loving care, you’ve gone through hardships and triumphs. In fact you’ve had a ball of a time. You think you can now sit and relax a little and reap the returns. Then the bomb came. Someone moved in last night to set up shop. How dare he. Almost identical, almost like yours but not the same. And at such a dirty low price. How dare he come rob your brand away? Is your brand at that vulnerable point?
December 20, 2011

Who is your enemy?

That keeps you from growing your brand? Or that keeps you from becoming a better person? Is it your ego? Your perceived intelligence? Your sense of entitlement? Or is it the work involved? When the sexiness of creating the idea is gone. All that remains is the unsexy sweat that rolls down your eye brow. And that is what stops most people from executing the work that matters. Until you know who that enemy is, you will never know what is holding you back. Can you see the boulders you are chained to?
December 19, 2011

Are you the rabbit or tortoise?

Almost everyone who justifies how slow they work will tell you about the story of the rabbit and the tortoise. They love that story. It gives them permission to be slow. But I hate the way people who do not move with speed and decisiveness manipulates the story. If you are slow and indecisive, you are not the tortoise. You are a sloth. So stop insulting the tortoise in the story. The tortoise in the story is the persistence, the perseverance, will and commitment to FINISH. Something – you, the slow and indecisive sloth do not have. The tortoise is […]
December 16, 2011

When was the last time you said something nice at work?

Here, do it today. Say something nice and meaningful to a co-worker now. An email doesn’t count. A sms or an instant messenger doesn’t count. Do it face-to-face. Go. What would you say?
December 15, 2011

What’s your figure?

Most goals can have a figure to it. The amount of money you make. That’s an easy one. The number of people you want to make a positive impact on. That’s another. The number of people you want to date before you get married. Or the market share your brand would garner before you kick the marketing plan up a notch. Drive that new strategy. Figures can be a good measure of goals. Not all goals must have a figure but if you are at a lost what to set as your goal. Perhaps it is time to ask, what […]
December 14, 2011

Are you a chicken or a pig?

My brainiac brother who is a professor sent me this interesting true story that he heard from a visiting professor. An established professor was asked how she recruits good researchers for her team. The professor replied she makes it clear to the candidate that she needs the researcher to be committed, not just involved. The difference between committed and involved? She explains: It’s like the egg and bacon on your breakfast plate. The chicken is involved, the pig is committed. Are your people involved or committed?
December 13, 2011

How in touch do you have to be?

You know keeping up makes you tired and doing more stresses you out. But you refuse to let anything go. You want to tweet, get on FB, and check your Gmail. Read all the e-newsletters you subscribe to, digest every business book that is launched and listen to the business news every morning. You tell yourself I need to be in touch, to be in the know. Try this – you already have enough information. To be in the know is to reflect and contemplate on the wisest move for the issue at hand. To contemplate and reflect, you need […]
December 9, 2011

Which moment do you wish to have unlimited reruns?

It could be one with your family, when you were young or with your best friends. We reminisce good times, even without our love ones with us. In fact, that’s how we miss them and that’s how we put in the effort to be in touch with them. Those we have most good memories with we have deeper relationships. How can your brand create more good memories with your fans? They really need to learn. How deep is your love?
December 8, 2011

Ever wondered what happened to John Doe?

It’s easy now-a-days. When you wonder about someone, you just google them up. FB them. We are all caught with the memories of people we have shared an experience with sometimes. Ever wonder what happened to those who have used your service, bought your products some time ago? Ever wonder if they wondered what happened to you? Perhaps it’s time to reconnect? What would you say first?
December 7, 2011

What are you happy about today?

In Malaysia, we see a lot of congratulatory ads. You know those that say, “Wow! Great factory you opened today.” And its various other incarnations. They are usually paid for by suppliers and business partners. Nothing wrong with that. It’s the way we do business here. I just wonder if they can be more productive. Somehow, these ads are like Tarzan swinging through the jungle screaming “Orrr eee orrr” half naked and no one paying him any attention. The only people who would listen are his animal friends. The rest of the jungle becomes awfully silent. Better I think to […]
December 6, 2011

Do you want a whetstone?

You are too busy fighting fires. Too busy managing crisis. Too busy doing the things incompetent people in your team are doing. Maybe you should be too busy implementing a plan to get rid of these people who keeps you busy. Start with relooking how you recruit, how you reward, how you retain good people. Perhaps your salary is too low for the kind of quality people you are looking for. Perhaps good people are frustrated by your inaction. You constantly turning of a blind eye to people with conscious incompetence will eventually crash your company. Stop thinking the disruption […]
December 5, 2011

Do you think it’s an opinion about you?

When you get a “like” on your Facebook, is it a vote of like for your brand? Or is the act of clicking on the like button on your FB page a statement this person is saying about his thoughts, attitudes and behavior? Knowing that difference can make a huge difference in how you communicate your brand. Could it be they are doing it for themselves?
December 2, 2011

What do you know?

Good intention must be balanced by great wisdom, in-depth knowledge and precise action. Otherwise, you may think you are doing a great deed but you end up killing someone. Recently, a friend died from colon cancer. This friend was young, healthy, and had an excellent prognosis. I wonder if my friend could have been saved if he had taken up adjuvant chemotherapy as the doctor suggested. Unfortunately, sometimes doctors aren’t good storytellers. Quacks and well-intention people are better at it. So, sometimes lives are lost. What’s the next wise move?
December 1, 2011

When are you starting to live?

Do you know people who like carpe diem as a concept only and not as a lifestyle. It’s fun to see how they live their lives. Lots of clutter, little clarity. They live in the land of buts and ifs. I think a good tool to remind ourselves to live in the now is to set a countdown clock of our lives. After all we have countdown clocks when we build Olympic stadiums, when the rainforest will all be gone, etc. Just to give people perspective and urgency. So, what if there is a countdown clock to your life? So, […]
November 30, 2011

Isn’t it too difficult?

Discipline is too hard. Too difficult. In fact, it feels forced. How can you be good at something if you forced yourself to do it? I am sorry if that is your understanding of discipline. Forced, regimented and difficult. You must have suffered for so many years. Try this – discipline isn’t about force. It’s about understanding. If you understand why you have to do what you have to do to get where you want to be? Then it wouldn’t feel forced isn’t it? You would do it willingly. Courting your girlfriend and trying to make her your wife requires […]
November 29, 2011

Where have they all gone?

You hear that it is getting more and more difficult to get good people. Especially, fresh graduates to take up entry level jobs. Somehow, we have all not been very happy with the quality and attitude. I wonder? I wonder if apprenticeship is a way to go for some industries. Call it chambering, residency or black ship if you like. You know the concept. Someone who works under a ‘sifu’ to learn the craft. Be it surgery or fixing a punctured tire. One big value in apprenticeship is that it would shift some of the responsibility to the direct boss. […]
November 25, 2011

What will you believe today?

Across the years I believe I have seen all sorts who deal with media sales. They can be from the media owners end or media independent agencies. Respectable ones are few and in between. Majority of which are only concerned about selling you space, airtime or sound bites as the case maybe. Doesn’t matter what your marketing objectives are, their medium will fit. It can do all sorts. If you are deft in figures and their numbers doesn’t gel with your plans, they will tell you to evaluate based on qualitative reasons. When they have tonnes of figures to back […]
November 24, 2011

When are you waking up from your slumber?

Personally, I feel too much credit have been given to dreamers. Especially dreamers who fail to execute. Don’t get me wrong. I am quite a dreamer myself. But dreams must be backed by action. Otherwise, dreams are fantasy. Dreams do come through. Fantasies don’t. You want dreams to come true? Execute. Chase down that dream like mad. A million dreams are but a figment of imagination – useless. Unless it touches people lives. The great dreamers and thinkers were also doers from Leonard da Vinci to Jonas Edward Salk. Their dreams and thoughts touched people because they did something. You […]
November 23, 2011

Which is your favorite primal feeling?

Passion is irrational. It’s that raw primal feeling that propels us to do what our logical brain says no. So, I find it difficult to understand when people say, look for what you are passionate about and do that work. How can your raw primal feeling want to work? It wants to rest. It wants to sleep. It wants to wake up in a hammock by the beach. It wants to have some coconut water in the mid afternoon. Maybe some sex before evening comes. Glug down some beer. That is what passion wants. Not work. But you can reverse […]
November 22, 2011

What will you want?

What you want and what you will do is entirely different. What you want must be balanced with what you will. Specifically, what you will DO. Otherwise, your dreams are ashes. Burnt even before they become a reality. You want to be a movie star? What will you do for it? You want to make more money than the asshole boss of yours? Sure. What will you do for it? Unless you are ready to sacrifice some sleep, skip a lot of TV (or internet or computer or iPad – whatever that you use for entertainment) and admit that your […]
November 21, 2011

What happens before money changes hands?

You want people to buy into you? You want their loyalty? Before they pay you, other payments have to come into play first. You need to pay attention. The only way they will pay attention is when you pay attention to what they are saying. I think some smart people calls these insights. You need not be introduced to insights via research and planning sessions. Insights are conversations your consumers are having about life, about work, about family and relationships. About fears, about love, and about dreams. Yeah, they don’t talk about you. Until you pay them. Are you paying […]
November 18, 2011

What do you stand for?

It’s funny isn’t it, your positioning statement says nothing about taking a position. If you think it does, let’s take a look. Go on, read it. Or pull it out from your computer or your brand book. Whatever that it’s recorded or written in. So, what does it say? A positioning takes a position in the consumer’s mind. The best way to take a position in the consumer’s mind is to take a position on the things your community is concerned about. Positioning is about that locus in their hearts. Not a set of coordinates written in marketing speak on […]
November 17, 2011

How can you reach out?

People who consume your products and use your services are humans. You already know that. If you know that then the conversations you have with them should be human as well. Not contrived marketing speak. You don’t convince your mother and sister and best friend to buy your product that way. Why should you speak to someone else’s mother, sister and best friend that way you write your ads? To convince someone, you reach for the heart. To touch the heart, you need something hearty. Hearty means genuine, affectionate, sincere, warm and nourishing. Do you speak from the heart?
November 16, 2011

What did you deposit today?

It’s tough to become an entrepreneur and not think about money and material wealth. It’s also tough to work for someone and not to think about money and material wealth. So, in all these strategizing, planning, objectives, and implementation somewhere the energy of accumulation digests the need for cultivation. Seek all you want externally. But it should not be at the cost of sharpening what you can internally. Cultivation rather than accumulation. Would you prefer growth instead?
November 15, 2011

What are previous successes doing to you?

One of the biggest threat to your personal growth is whatever halo effect you carry. You should be quite aware of this. If you look quite good, you probably know people think so about you too. You are also likely to know that whatever work you do, people tend to think you do it better than the others. If you graduated from a very good university, people likely think that you are good in all that you do. That’s the halo effect at work. If you are conscious of the halo effect and exploit it? Be careful that it breeds […]
November 14, 2011

What do you choose to say?

Action steps have to be owned. Personalized.  Which means taking personal responsibility for the work that needs to be done. It is the responsibility to the collective group. If your wife asks you to buy a loaf of bread on your way home and you forgot? Saying you are so busy that you forgot is just as bad as saying the dog ate your to-do list. Too busy, too stressed, too many things to remember – these reasons? Everyone can use them. Admitting to not doing what you are assigned to do and lying about not doing is just as […]
November 11, 2011

What makes you feel alive?

Hunger keeps some people real. From the type of hunger that can be placated by putting food in one’s stomach to the pangs that can be appeased when projects see the light of day. What keeps you real?
November 10, 2011

Where is your learning opportunity coming from today?

When you sit across the table and are presented with a case that you can potentially learn from? Resist saying “…but it’s a different category”, or whatever similar angle like “…but we are selling at a different price point.” Or “…but that’s in a different country.” Ifs and buts kill learning opportunities. Of course the case presented to you or the example shown to you is of a different category, place, price point, consumer segment and what have you. Your dream case study others will use as a fine example of marketing magic? The exact category and in the exact […]
November 9, 2011

How did you get here?

Too often if you are the guy that carries that big title, you need to know what is it that you have skipped. Perhaps, you are where you are because it is a family business, for which you have not learned the hard way up. Or you may have climbed that corporate ladder because you were good at that one solid thing. It propelled you to the top. All too often, big guys at the top forget there are many things they may not know. Too egoistic to ask, too busy to know. It spells disaster for you, your customers […]
November 8, 2011

Which big effort got you somewhere?

Do you laugh at little efforts? Small little things people do? What is better? Someone dreaming of big things and never got moving? Or someone who starts to move even that small little thing. In everything there is latent energy. The potential in every small effort. Do not look down upon what in your big dream is defined by miniscule. “Drop by drop an empty bucket is soon filled with water.” – The Dhammapada. If little birds start questioning every tiny straw it carries to make a nest, it would not have a resting place. Do you see the potential […]
November 4, 2011

Is your effort in cash or credit?

Compounded interest earns you lots of money. It can earn you lots of dividends too when applied to your – hate to-do list, someday I will do list, I am too busy to attend to it now list. If you can compound your interest on the things that needs your attention now but you are forever procrastinating, the returns will be satisfaction in its many forms. Why do you believe in compounded interest when it comes to your banking accounts but not on your whatever lists? What would compounded interest bring you?
November 3, 2011

Is your work art?

Sometimes I wonder. People say work sucks. Of course work sucks. That’s why it’s called work. You have other words for the fun things you do. Or love. But it also depends on the way you look at things, no? Your work I mean. Whatever it is. You look at other people’s work and say, “Wow, that’s a work of art.” How come other people’s work can be a work of art? What have you been doing wrong? Let me suggest this. It’s what you expect work to deliver. It’s you not accepting that the discovery of your passions and […]
November 2, 2011

Who’s the barb wire?

Are you in the way of your best people’s performance? How else do you want me to ask that question? Are you in the way?
November 1, 2011

An excuse to treat you less?

Do you ever wonder when you pay less, you are actually giving a reason to whoever that is serving you to treat you worse than if you were to pay full price? For businesses to grow the usual idea is to convert the consumer to bigger ticket items or for the same customer to buy more. Why then would a budget whatever (airlines, hotel, whatever) treat you like they are only doing business with you once by treating you like cattle? Perhaps if they treated you better, you would buy that red cap of theirs. Have another can of Coke, […]
October 31, 2011

First in what?

In my family, if you walked in screaming you got first in your 100 meters sprint event (or anything else besides good academic results? You will certainly hear a retort of “If only you got first in your exams!”) My brothers and I grew up to be fairly healthy adults. Got me thinking this morning, what do we strive to be first in? Wealthiest, biggest house, latest gadget, best schools for the kids, most expensive car. Being first is good. But being first in what? When was the last time you strive to be first in compassion, loving-kindness, generosity, effort, […]
October 28, 2011

What’s the river carrying away today?

Fear can be overcome by flow. What does that mean? It is understanding that you cannot control everything. A leaf in a raging rapid just flows where the water take it. Being afraid that ideas will dry up, business will stop coming and the cash will run out are all legitimate fears. But if you can observe and build a bigger capacity for reflection, then the flow will carry your fears away. You just won’t notice fear anymore. What phenomenon did you observe today?
October 27, 2011

Are you listening?

October 25, 2011

How are you running your business?

That business model that you have? I am sure it is great. You can soon bask in the sun all day while the rest makes money for you. You can duplicate efforts without lifting a finger. Others will do the work for you. You dream of retirement. Congratulations. You have a plan. Others may not share that same belief as you do. So stop telling them their business model is wrong. Some may not want to retire at all. Hard for you to conceive but it’s what they want. Maybe they just want a set of respectful clients. A set […]
October 24, 2011

What have you been doing?

You want to feel busy and useful. You don’t want to achieve your goals. Because to achieve your goals means a lot of hard work and knocking into brick walls. It means confronting your weaknesses and opening up for all to poke at your work. Guffaw at you and your stupidity. If you want to write a book, what you need to do is – write. Sit down and start typing. Not a list of to-do list and which distributor to call or where to get your ISBN. Write. If you want to start a company, start. It means get […]
October 21, 2011

How are you unearthing it?

Buried in impossible is possible. You can dig it out with a hoe, a drill, or a good mix of action, willpower, discipline and dream. What’s your favourite tool?
October 20, 2011

Is the present holding back your future?

When making a decision, you have to remind yourself that it is very often about now and not so much about the future. Many would argue that we need to make a decision that will benefit the future. Of course, no dispute to that. The challenge is to recognize that a delayed decision affects the future as much as one that you feel will be the perfect decision. How do you do that? One, making a decision isn’t about predicting the future. Let’s face it; no one can predict the future. Your predictions are only as good as your assumptions. […]
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