If you are thinking about taking the plunge, quitting that desk job of yours, becoming your own boss, the first thing you ought to ask yourself is, “Do you love solving problems?”
Many people only see the glamour of being your own boss, which are manifold of course (provided you are successful). These include:
1) Freedom to work in an area you enjoy (Subject to constraints of market behaviour and demand)
2) Flexibility to work when you want, where you want
3) Public acknowledgement if you are successful (Shame, and “I told you so” attitudes if you fail though)
4) MONEY, and its associated benefits
5) Plus its just awesome when your staff add a prefix “Boss” to your name (Joking hehe, although I likes it! :-p)
What they don’t see are the challenges a business owner faces day to day.
My father put it most aptly to me in saying that as a businessman, you are esentially a firefighter.
A fire pops out somewhere, you rush there to put it out, as soon as it is out, another one is bound to pop up somewhere else. You only hope that you don’t have too many fires to handle or one that burns out of control, so you can get back up and fight the next fire.
As simple an explanation as this is, it is the most profound advice my father has given me, and one I hold close to my heart in trying times. On a separate note, 28th November (today), is my dad’s birthday, so do wish him happy birthday too in my comments feed if you are reading this.
We’ve faced many challenges in the history of our company. Timothy and myself started Netccentric on the 8th of August 2006, its been six years, by any measure of a business, its a short time.
And yet, in many ways it feels both like we’ve seen everything, and learnt everything, and seen nothing and learnt nothing at the same time.
We’ve built an amazing company, with an amazing culture, and one that has grown rapidly at first, and now steadily, and one would think it gets easier, or more predictable. But because we are dealing with the most complicated resource of all, people, it never does.
So what is this rant about you ask?
Well, it seems ironic, that after having just dispensed advice about building a great company culture, in recent months, both me and tim have found that one of the growing pains of the company is we seem to be losing some of our pioneer staff.
Don’t get me wrong, its not as if the flood gates have opened up, and nuffies are flooding through the doors. But i’ve always taken it incredibly seriously, when a pioneer or an important nuffie leaves, its one too many. We’ve had nuffies, who just could not fit into the culture, or just did not have the heart or will to meet the standards, but those are not the ones I’m concerned about.
I’m candid and open about this serious issue, because I’m candid and open with my staff. They know everything that goes on, and I see no reason to stop that.
As a long term and strategic planner, my vision for the company has always been.
1) A mutually loving culture
2) A place where you enjoy your work
3) A place you can build your career, earn a keep, and if committed and talented, build personal wealth
4) A place you are a part of, as much as the place is a part of you
Tim’s ideology is largely similar.
I believe, we’ve achieved these things to a large degree within the Netccentric group. And yet, we face a problem, because you build these things generally, and they encompass a static set of rules with dynamic variables, but the one thing you cannot equate for is the key variable, and that is the employee themselves.
I started out this post by talking about the challenges you might face as a boss, and I’m ending it by saying, I’ve determined, at this point, what is likely to be my biggest challenge of all.
How do I provide and promote lifelong employment in an age of short term gratification? The grass is always greener on the other side, but how do we keep our grass in plain sight, and nurture and grow our pastures, so the ones that matter will never want to leave?
Its a question that has been on my mind for a while now, and one I intend to address at our upcoming company retreat to ….
Yes … paradise! Just 11 months after our last retreat to Chiang Mai!
Penny for your thoughts in the NuffnangX conversations box below.
Hi all, yes, sorry I’ve been travelling such a good time, I havnt had the time to blog here.
Writing up a real update as you see this, but just wanted to share this awesome local ad with you.
Its not very often that Singaporean ads are this good. So enjoy!
I’ve been following the US presidential elections with great interest.
Even though the rise of Asia and China are iminent and an unstoppable phenomnenon, the US is still today the most important country in the world. Both in Economic and more importantly, geopolitical standpoints.
Ever since they abandoned their policy of isolationism, I believe the US has largely been a force for good in the world, and a stabalising force in an uncertain and often delicately balanced geopolitical world.
It is a fine line between peace and war, and I don’t think people generally appreciate that they could be just weeks away from having the prosperity and peace they enjoy being taken away from them. We’re talking a world war here, which my parent’s generation have had the benefit of missing so far.
I’m not going to get into a whole thesis of the moral choices and ambiguities the US may have been guilty of, even though I acknowledge the seriousness and consequences of such actions, but on the balance of everything, I would say, the USA stands largely as a moral good in this world. And believe you me, there are moral baddies, far too many of them.
As a result, in the last election, I watched eagerly as well. Although back then I was rooting for the other fella. Senator John McCain.
Yeah, he not much to look at, and frankly, he was 72 years old the last time, so one of the genuine concerns back then, was simply that he would drop dead in the middle of his term (leaving us with Sarah Palin as President OMG).
I am happy to note, I grossly underestimated the mortality rates in the USA, and the Senator is still alive and well (long may that be the case).
I’m sure you’ll find that a little odd. Especially given the wave of ObamaMANIA the WHOLE world was going through. Obama was a charismatic fella for sure, an inspirational orator, and he seemed like he was saying the right things in general.
What I felt in general though, was that alot of people were simply subscribing to his charisma and a popular message of change. I could not understand and considered irrational, the seemingly blind faith masses had with this untested candidate. If you want to recall how big it was, check out this video of him in Berlin, BEFORE he was president.
Change for the sake of change is something I strongly disagree with. Of course it wasnt simply that, there were policy stances, I also disagreed with, especially his eagerness to simply pull out of Iraq (I was not opposed to the USA pulling out of Iraq for the record, but how quickly was what I was contending with).
All in all, I felt he lacked track record, and it seemed he was winning on charisma, rather than substance. He had only served 1 term as a Senator, before sweeping the highest office in the land.
As soon as he won though, I held my breath and waited to see how he would perform. The stakes were high. The decisions an American president makes has far reaching consequences with the rest of the world. Singapore and our region included.
When did I start supporting Barrack Obama? I remember it distinctly. It was when he was negotiating with the republicans for a deal to raise the debt ceiling which would have seen the US virtually shut down.
What I loved about this address was its simplicity in breaking down what was going on, and what needed to be done.
This type of address, is typical of Singaporean politics today, one reason why I support the ruling party. It is clear, concise and to the point. Does not shy away from taboo topics or the hard truths (that most people would rather not address), and prescribes solutions as well. (A sidenote is that every singaporean should watch the National Day rally, the clarity and candidness in which the message is delivered is truly unique and deserves admiration).
Whilst good speeches should rile up emotions, in order to be successful, as educated people, it is our duty to strip the emotion out of it, and look past into the facts, and figures and weigh the things being said.
Surely, working in a bipartisan, and bicameral democracy brought President obama down to earth. Change does not happen easily in reality. Beyond inspirational speeches, the world with its complex weavings will wear you down, test your resolve and force you to compromise. And in all honesty, President Obama probably did have to compromise on some of them, but he stood up for the ones that mattered.
Making tough choices that people may not necessarily like or enjoy, is a leader’s job. We can certainly take the easy route out and promise goodies and riches and prosperity and everything the people want, but we are simply deferring responsibility to the next fella, and setting ourselves up for a fall.
Case in point is greece. And you should read this. Unfortunately, Papandreou senior inherited the consequences of 2 papandreou’s before him. Who took the fall when the music stopped?
Well the people of greece today. Sons and daughters of those who enjoyed beyond their means, and now have to pay for it. Unemployment in greece is a staggering 25.4% (i read that recently), and 1 in 2 young people below the age of 30 are out of work! Can you imagine a Singapore like that? (I shuddered at the thought).
Back on point then. Besides appreciating President Obama for his candidness, forthrightness, and willingness to tackle a problem head on, we’ve also got to look at his rival candidate. None other than Mitt Romney.
I’m a businessman. And I normally like other business people. But I hate this guy. Pure and simple.
I guess its a problem when you are not in government, that you do not have the full set of figures and data in front of you to make an established argument, and yes he did win the first debate, not on his merit though, but surprisingly, on Obama’s demerit. (If you’re interested, watch the full debate below).
The problem is, the more I listen to Mitt Romney’s plans, the more ridiculous it seems. He claims he has the answers to all of America’s problems, and all of America’s suffering, as a presidential candidate rightly should claim. His solutions though are general and unsophisticated, and appeal more to emotions than any practical reality.
For example, he has a 5 point plan. It is as follows.
1) To make the USA energy independent
2) Open up trade, especially with Latin America, but crack down on China
3) Promote education
4) Balance the budget
5) Champion Small Business
Sounds good? Sure does.
Problem is this. These are not ideas. These are not solutions, these are wants! They appeal on a cursory level to the general person just as if I said to you, “Let me tell you what I’ll do for you”
1) Give you cheaper petrol
2) Make sure we have business from overseas
3) Send your kids to a good quality school
4) Pay for all of this and still have money to spare
In the first place, even within his key statements, there are already contradictions. For example, he says he wants to open up trade and encourage growth, particularly with Latin America, but then he wants to censure the largest market in the world (mostly because it is popular), China, and create tariffs.
I’m really not too sure about the specifics of WTO membership, of which the USA is a leader in, but I’m not sure how it would go down with that group of people. And having China retaliate by creating tarriffs for American made products is likely to harm the USA more than anything. But hey, the Americans hate china right now, so lets bang hard on the Chinese! Give me more emotion baby!
Another key point in his “plan”, is to reduce the deficit.
I think this is the Achilis heel of the Obama campaign, who made promises to reduce the deficit (in his first campaign), but really did not, and instead increased it.
This is understandable of course, as the patient has to spend money first on medicine to get better, before he can then get back to work and start repaying his debts, and start living again, and yet, the promise was made.
Well it is here, that I really start to detest Romney. His specific plan, he says, is to reduce the tax rate for EVERYBODY (including the rich, he suddenly also cares about the 47 percent), but reduce deductions, exemptions and credits. And oh yes, cut unnecessary programmes, thereby levelling the budget.
Obama argues back that this means 7 trillion dollars worth of cuts, which will NOT be able to be offset by the reduction in deductions, exemptions and credits.
I’m not an data cruncher, and I certainly don’t have the full set of numbers. But me thinks, on the balance of probability, that Obama is probably right.
If I simply needed to cut all these exemptions and deductions and credits to balance the budget, I would have done it 4 years ago. No matter how convulated the tax system in the USA is, I simply do not believe it to be big enough to withstand a cut in the general rate, let alone remedy the CURRENT situation with the CURRENT tax rate.
Romney’s steadfastness and reality distortion is typical of a businessman (I am one), who sometimes needs to overcome the obvious in order to believe the unvelievable. He says, no that is not true, it will not amount to a 7 trillion tax cut, and my plan will work, and thats the end of it.
BUT if you want more specifics on programmes I will cut, I’ll show you one you all know!
That’s right, I’m a comin after you big bird!
I know alot has been said about the Big Bird comments by Romney, but it symbolises to me, what Mitt Romney’s solutions are. A BIG pile of yellow FLUFF!
And that is why this time around, I’m supporting Barrack Obama to continue in his 2nd term as President of the United States. But that is not for me to decide!
This blog post is kind of a follow up to the one I wrote about double sided tape.
I was recently in Bangkok, and shopping for stationary again at an Office Depot. This time though we were looking for printing paper.
Once again, there are so many different types of paper to choose from, but generally they differ only at a superficial level. Packaging, for example.
So really, to me, if we’re making a decision, price would probably be the main differentiating factor.
The Siam Cement Group would disagree, and they innovated to give you and me …
If you’re slightly confused as to what green read actually is, let me explain.
5 guys in lab coats and safety goggles spent countless nights and days experimenting with the molecular structure of normal paper, and had a breakthrough one night!
Bleary eyed, they realised their paper helped them read better! All of a sudden, they had achieved clarity. Upon further tests, they discovered, the coating they had applied to normal paper reduced the light reflected off the surface ensuring they had tired eyes no more!
I know what you’re thinking. And I was thinking the same thing. All respect due to SCG paper for trying, but really, innovation is about a unique proposition that consumers can respond to, and maybe they do have customers that pick up the ream of paper based on their claims. But in this instance, I wasnt one of them!
Yesterday evening, I paid a long overdue visit to the gym!
My little secret workout spot, is located along the beautiful Singapore river, and this is the view.
I find the river a really enchanting bit of Singapore, so having completed my workout, I thought taking a stroll by myself alongst its banks would be a wonderful way to cap the day.
I ambled along the banks of the river, with no agenda, taking in the sights and sounds. Joggers n their ipods, alfresco dinner dates, tourists plying the excursionist route, doggies meeting other doggies, a random catch up with an old friend … the walk continued till I found my spot.
I think you can see why I chose it.
It was completely isolated, save a woman, sitting in a far corner by herself, under the boughs of a tree, pensive in her own thoughts as I was.
I was transported for a moment to a random summer afternoon years ago, when I had visited Cafe De Flore in St Germain De Pres, Paris.
I sat there sipping my coffee, imagining Hemingway, scribbling notes as an anonymous observer of the world, creating his masterpiece, “A moveable feast”.
The random thought of the day started crystallising as cursive words started forming on the edge of my tongue.
I FELT LIKE WRITING A POEM!
As quickly as the thought appeared, it was destroyed in a poof! And I was transported from Paris back to a dingy dark chinese restaurant in San Francisco Chinatown at least 10 years back now.
I was a young student studying in Cambridge, on holiday with my family, and I had started writing poems. Alot of the day, my random thoughts would turn into prose, and I would try it out on my friends, fancying that perhaps I would one day be a modern Wordsworth.
Having just enjoyed some mediocre chinese fare (sense the bitterness), I got one of these on my table. Rubbed my hands together, and cracked it open anticipating some inspirational message.
Maybe something like this one would have been appropriate.
I cant remember exactly what it said, because my brain has no space for bad shit, but the jist of it was, “You’re barking up the wrong tree if you think you’re going to be a poet.”
I believe in signs, and it is in that instant, I stopped writing poems.
I sat there for a moment more, wistful that a poets life would never be for me, then I brightened up and thought to myself, enjoying the moment with myself and another is good enough.
Music means the world to me.
I love discovering a new song, and if it’s in tune with with your feelings for the day, be it sad, happy or just meh, it’s likely to help you feel better about the day ahead.
This one is for all my readers out there, find that song today, and sing it, and tell me what you’re singing in the comments below!
p.s. “Don’t worry if its not good enough for anyone else to hear, just sing, sing a song!”
Inspiration comes from the darnest places doesn’t it?
I was chatting with one of my closest friends, Pierre, on whatsapp.
Getting feedback about the content of my newly launched blog, which as you can see, I’m pretty serious about.
It is at this juncture that I would like to announce, the launch of the bossming.com loyalty program.
The person with the most likes and comments on my blog posts via NuffnangX will get to redeem this wonderful domestic device (Apologies to pierre, the likely winner, but only one model available).
Haha, anyway, the conclusion went (And I agree somewhat), that I want this blog to be more about thought leadership, than my personal life, and what I ate this morning (For that, you can refer to my instagram feed or twitter ;-p).
Pierre mentioned not mixing business with pleasure, and hence the title for my first business blog post per se!
As far as my businesses go within the Netccentric group, it is ENTIRELY about mixing business with pleasure.
I have always believed this to be the KEY reason why Netccentric has grown so much. And also integral to the future sustained growth of the company.
As such, this is a lesson for the Nuffies, Nomsters, Lollies, as much as it is to the general reader.
It is not by accident but by design, that the status of friend and colleague takes equal standing within the company.
How do we design it? Let me count the ways.
Number 1: Take the lead
As the co-founder of the company, I try to be as accessible as I can to everybody. I take great pains first to be their friend, and 2nd, their boss. I always want to know more about how they are doing in their personal lives. I get them to open up, and its a two way street I know, so this takes some work. Eventually they do though.
It surprises even my personal friends, when they see how I treat my staff. I just don’t look at them as staff when I do it. I always leave room for fun in our worktrips for example. And a particularly memorable trip for me was to Tokyo for the Tokyo Gift Fair. This is Maylene, showing off her camwhoring skills, and Elaine, at Disneysea.
Me and the nuffies in moses (my car)
There are of course clear boundaries, and I make it clear that I’m not afraid to have a go at them, and not be fussed about it, if they have done something wrong. Think Alex Ferguson hairdryer. If you’ve crossed that line, I go all the way.
One of the most common lines I’ve heard is that you should never do business with friends. To me, thats a bunch of hogwash, IN FACT, you should ONLY do business with friends!
What is the alternative? Doing business with your enemy!? Or doing business with somebody you are “MEH” about?
Doing business with your friends, will do one of 2 things. Make your friendship ever stronger, because just like in a relationship, you understand each other better, or completely destroy it, and you know why? Because it could not stand the true test of friendship. Life is too short to live with in betweens, and people who are only there for each other during times of leisure.
What I’m saying here is if I have an employee who takes my friendship for granted, and starts walking over me or thinking that they don’t need to deliver because they are my friend, both the friendship and work relationship are dysfunctional, and should not exist in any case.
Friends are of course tolerant to each others mistakes, and weaknesses, but there is and should be line drawn in the sand. Friends don’t take things for granted, and friends don’t let one another down, repeatedly.
If you watch Suits, you’ll know Trevor, and this is the kind of “Friend” we do not like to have in the company.
Wipe that smirk off your face boy! And mike listen to your grandma!
Number 2: Hiring the right friend
Nowadays, with our group numbers burgeoning at 160 staff regionally, we have a proper HR procedure in place. Do check out our careers page while you’re at it!
This is where I’d like to draw the attention of the HR practitioners in the company. They’ve probably heard it before, but I’m going to give it to them again.
We’ve got the standard filters for pulling people in.Things like
1) Your CV
2) Your cover letter
3) An interview questionaire
4) An interview with HR
5) An interview with a Head of Department
6) An interview with Me
Now as we, formalize these procedures, which are entirely necessary in a growing company, the one thing we can never institutionalize is your heart and your feelings.
A candidate could tick all the columns in the area of skill-sets, or experience, but do they tick the correct columns when it comes to integrity, character, and more importantly would you want them as a friend? Would the others want this person as a friend?
This is the MOST important bit of HR. All respect to Bradsmart and his Topgrading formulas, which I guess have extra relevance in an organization that are too big to care, and just needs to churn those A players in, and those B and C players out.
People who have been interviewed by me, find it strange, when I start talking to them about what they do in their free time? Whether they have a boyfriend or girlfriend, what their political views are, and so on and so forth, but you know what, in those 10 minutes that I’m in with you, I’m trying to suss you out, and figure out, if you’re going to be a great addition to the team socially. You gotta be cool to join the school of rock yo.
Compromise on this and you risk diluting a culture you have taken a long time to build up. Its like adding too much water to your milo …. …. FTS.
Number 3: Conducting health checkups
In line with the point above, whilst it is important to have clear work related KPIs set and monitored, it is equally, if not even more important to have, SOCIAL KPIs checked and monitored.
There are 2 levels to this.
Number 1: Localised checkups
Number 2: Full body checkups
Lets start with number 2 first, which is typically my domain. A full body checkup looks into the sum of parts. Is the team cohesive, are they working well together, do they love one another?
Recently I called for a company BBQ. I called for it on a Friday night, and we got RSVPs in. Call me a hawk, call me a dictator. But I actually do pour over each of these RSVPs seeing who’s coming, who’s not and why not?
We don’t have these things all the time. But when we do,I do hope for a good turnout. Friday night is an important time socially for alot of us, and the fact that we are willing and also WANTING to spend time together says alot. We had a good time, and the laughter that filled the air, and the feelings milling about were genuine and true.
Localised checkups.My staff know I stalk them. And all our HR practitioners better be doing the same. Of course spotting sincerety from fakeness is also part of the job, but whenever I see something like this, I feel a warm fuzzy feeling inside.
The love is not just limited to the girls. The image above, is some true bromance going down with my technical team. Haha.
This is when Louis Armstrong’s, “Its a wonderful world” starts playing in my head, and I get to that bit, “I see friends shaking hands, saying how do you do, they’re really saying, I love you.”
Of course health checkups don’t just dig up the good. They also dig up the bad. Somebody who feels they have no personal time for their colleagues for example is simply not going to fit in to our company. We bring them in to counsel them, but eventually they themselves drop out, as they just don’t understand the magic, and as such can never enjoy the benefit.
Anybody who says, “Its JUST a BBQ”, is like Peter here, saying that Porthos is “JUST” a dog in Finding Neverland. Every little initiative, every little action, every little thought goes a long way to building friendships in the workplace that last far beyond it.
What a horrible candle snuffing word! Thats like saying, thats not a diamond, its just a rock … just …”
This post has been all about forging a conducive workplace for friendships in the workplace. But why is that even important? And why do you seem to place so much emphasis on this?
Very simple, because you will fight for the person you love. If you love your colleague, the workplace that provides for you, you will fight with all your heart and soul. And you will win, when you fight for love.
The road ahead, is fraught with many challenges for our young company, but none more so that preserving this belief. As a company grows larger, its philosophy morphs into one that is uncaring, intolerant and exclusive. The baton will have to be passed, and our future leaders will need to carry it forward with equal vigour and conviction. But that is another story for another day.
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A funny thing happened today.
I decided to drive to the office to pick up my portable hard disk drive, as I was committed to churn out a blog post.
Its quite a challenge getting into my office on a Sunday. Its located very centrally, off Little India!
That’s when our hordes of foreign workers from the Pan Asian region come out to enjoy their rest day. But I was determined to be a good blogger, so I went ahead and drove in anyway.
With mission accomplished (And discovering a nuffie working on a sunday!), I proceeded to drive out by the big field in Farrer park, and thats when I spotted it.
My mind went into random thought mode, I did a quick check in the rear view mirror, did a little top gun reverse thrusters manoeuvre and turned into the field carpark.
What I spotted was this.
A game of Sunday cricket.
I walked in amongst the bemused crowd of foreign workers watching the game. They seemed suitably amused that a local was here watching the game too. Even more so, when I whipped out my trusty BB (Galaxy S3 battery was dead!), and started taking photos. They probably thought I was some government agent spying on their activities or something.
Why was this scene so special, and why had I stopped in my tracks to watch the game?
The answer lies in this next photo, which I took off tomsyard.com via Google images.
This is parker’s piece, in Cambridge, where I spent 2 of my best years studying my A levels.
On a Sunday, one of my favourite things to do, would be to walk by here, plonk myself on the carpet grass, and watch a game I used to enjoy playing myself. I would take in the scene. And admire it.
The classy whites of the cricketers, the arch of the bowler’s form as he delivers his ball, the “thwack” of a good swing, the bustle of the field as fielders scurry to contain the damage.
It was like art. And I loved it.
What stopped me in my tracks and made me turn into the field was the realisation that I would not pass this by in Cambridge. What was making me pass it by here?
Alot of us travel overseas, and enjoy other people’s cultures. But do we even realise that we share many similarities and that the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side? (Thats just my bb photo as opposed to tom yard’s SLR btw haha).
I stood there for a good 20 minutes, and throughly enjoyed my Sunday doing it. These were hardmen, I concluded, playing with bare feet on the rough and rocky surface. Even the wicket keeper did not have gloves. I shuddered slightly at the thought of a cricket ball hitting one of them in the balls or face (because both has happened to me, and I had protection!).
There was no cool spring breeze, no smooth carpet grass, or cathedrals in the background. But it was art, a piece of art that belonged to us, and I admired it.
One thing I love about my home, is oftentimes, when I step back after a long day at work. I hear the halls filled with music.
It could be my father playing on the organ, my mum on the piano, or simply the sound of the hifi in the living room upstairs.
On some evenings, the tune is almost like a spell leading me up those spiral steps, to find out more. On one such evening, this is the song I heard. (Read on as the music plays to take in the post).
Does it not take you back through time this song?
The Japan we are all familiar with, is typically one of skyscrapers,
anime (the girl with crossed eyes reminds me of somebody :-p)
This song though instantly brought me back to the trip to Kyoto I took with my family in autumn of 2010.
A fair amount of the time, I found myself wandering off, and taking in the captivating beauty around me.
Follow the lyrics, which are incredibly meaningful.
I do imagine, it was on a walk such as mine, that such a beautiful song was composed.
Kawano Nagare No Yoni.
I came walking on this long, narrow path
without knowing it
When I turn around,
my distant hometown is visible
The uneven path twists & turns
and doesn’t even have a map
So is the road of life
Ah, like the flow of the river
the era passes by leniently
Ah, like the flow of the river
the sky is just endlessly dyed at twilight
Living and taking a journey,
an endless path
Take The person I love to my side
while searching for a dream
Even if I’m rained on & the path is muddy,
someday the sunny day will come again
Ah, like the flow of the river
I want to calmly go with the flow
Ah, like the flow of the river
The changing seasons
Ah, like the flow of the river
I want to calmly go with the flow
Ah, like the flow of the river
while listening to the blue blabbling stream
I hope you enjoyed the walk with me. The photographs I took together with the music playing, is the 2nd best thing to being there in the flesh.
I’ve often heard this comment about me. That my mind often seems to be in a different place from my body.
That is sometimes true, simply because this is how my thought process works.
As soon as I pick up on something, my brain starts whirring into motion and considering the surface and deeper implications of the object, occurance, or concept. And I can’t multitask, so all focus goes into pondering the matter at hand, often times leading to angry girlfriends. Haha.
I thought writing short posts about some of these random thoughts would be both fun and informative, so I’m starting this series titled rather creatively, “Ming’s random thought of the day”.
Today’s random thought comes courtesy of some double sided tape I bought from retail mecca, Mustafa.
Anybody who’s been to Mustafa knows they are bombarded by the most diverse selection of products available to humankind. So buying a simple roll of double sided tape becomes very much like choosing the pattern of your wallpaper, or the flowers at your wedding.
As you can see, I settled on 3M double sided tape, and the question I found myself pondering later was WHY?
After some processing, I realised there were 2 key aspects to this simple $2.80 decision.
1) Pragmatic and Practical
For #1, I had decided that since I had spent so much effort, time and money on the project I was using the double sided tape for, it would be stupid to buy some china piang brand, and have my good work wasted.
For #2, the emotional part came in when I saw the big Made in USA sign. I even turned the packaging around to double check. After all, what’s made in the USA nowadays? The emotional side of me assigned quality to a USA made product, and I started seeing an American flag waving in my head.
Which led to the next thought, right before I was reaching the end of my walk back to the office.
With globalisation, I felt a certain comfort, knowing that not EVERYTHING is made in China. The fact that 3M has created a value proposition through its innovation, consistent quality and branding, means I get to enjoy a differentiated product that has given somebody in the USA a job to do.
It is one activity I hope and concluded is likely to continue, simply because I’m sure there are a fair amount of people who will not want whatever they are attaching to their important, scrapbooks or the like, to start peeling off after a while.
Thats it folks, now back to work!
I am an analyzer by nature, and I analyze everything.
I guess alot of us do this.
The biggest questions I think as humans we ask ourselves is
1) Why are we here?
2) What is the point?
3) How do we fulfil our purpose?
I’ve gone back and forth on these questions myself, time and time again.
When I was in college, I remember my answer used to be, “I am here to make a mark. To make a difference. To leave a legacy that will be forever remembered.”
My collegiate ambitions thus spanned the range. Amongst them, was to be Prime Minister of Singapore, global champion Squash Player, award winnning Architect, Pulitzer Photographer, I think you get the idea.
photo above is by Pulitzer winning Patrick Farrell (And I am getting goosebumps just looking at it).
The essence of all of these ambitions lie in service not just to oneself, but to others.
I think Singaporeans often get it wrong when they think these pursuits are just all about the dollars and cents.
It is not.
There are realities the common man and woman has to face everyday. The most basic of which, is simply, how to get by? The world is about dollars and cents after all, so we do the logic that if A=B and B=C then A=B=C.
The logic holds, but so does my argument.
The 2 key words we should focus on is SACRIFICE and CHOICE.
Something has got to give.
And it is at this juncture that I should tell you, if you have not watched “The Lady” which revolves around Aung San Suu Kyi’s life, go out there, buy a copy from Poh Kim, tissue paper from NTUC, and hunker down for a cry fest (Or maybe thats just me).- SPOILER ALERT
In a nutshell summary, The Lady is based on Aung San Suu Kyi’s life. And we see her first as a mother to 2 young boys and dedicated wife to an Oxford lecturer, Michael Aris.
The family setting in Oxford is particularly poignant for me as I did my A levels in Cambridge. And you see all the usual trappings of domestic family life. Things I see now that some of my friends have started their own family units and are getting on with their lives.
Whilst ordinary life can be equally as fulfilling, when we admire greatness, we need to understand that sacrifices are a part of this.
Our daily pursuits to bring up our children with good values, within a comfortable environment, the best schools, organic food, whilst rewarding, and fulfilling in its own right, is measured against alternative choices which have consequences and results far beyond our own, and as a result, I believe deserves special admiration.
Back to the plot, it is at this point that Aung San Suu Kyi heads back to Burma to see her dying mother, and witnesses the atrocities and violence of the military regime against her people.
She decides to stay on in Burma, and it becomes evident with time, that the military is going to hardass her, and make it difficult for her as a woman. Take away her support structures. In particular access to the outside world, and her family.
These fat cats in khaki green, of course make it clear she can go at any time. And this is where CHOICE comes into the picture. And sacrifice is chosen.
Aung San could have packed up and left and continued with her life in Oxford, continued life as much of us do. But she did not, choosing instead an uncertain and possibly infinite period of loneliness and isolation. The story is as much about Aung San as it is about Michael Aris of course, who really encapsulates the ideal of love.
This scene is my favourite one in the movie (also because I LOVE CANON IN D), but just because you feel her isolation but the also the love that seems to transmit for her through that little radio.
Who does not harbour dreams and aspirations of true love? I certainly do, but are we willing to pay the price? As Michael Aris did?
We harbour hopes of a better tomorrow, but will we sacrifice our own for others? For perhaps just one other? Do we have that courage inside us?
I started this article wanting to write in a totally different direction that it has ended up in. It started out with a frivolous morning, in which I was shaking my booty to some 80s music, arriving in the office and switching to the Forest Gump theme song, and now listening to canon in D.
The pursuit of happyness is a never ending journey for us human beings, and thus I end this blog post letting you know there will be a second and a third, and a fourth, and perhaps more. Meanwhile ponder for a second that we sway like a feather in the wind, and life is what we make out of it.
It seems a little odd that I should be restarting my blog with a post titled as such, but here it is.
Somewhere along the line, in the last 6 years, I got lazy and stopped blogging. Why?
Well in one word, laziness.
One morning I woke up and said I’ll do it tomorrow, and that tomorrow stretched into a
matter of years.
I’m not proud of it, I think nobody ever is of procrastination, but you learn to forget.
So what changed? Why am I back? And how long will it continue for?
Alot has changed since I stopped blogging. The internet space evolves even more quickly than I could ever have imagined. Twitter in, Twitter out, Plurk in, Plurk out, Facebook in, Twitter back, Foursquare in, Foursquare out, Pinterest in, Instagram in …
The evolution of social media, irregardless of which fad it has manifested into at any particular point of time has grossly shaped our lives and how we lead it.
Back on point, something dawned on me as I fell in and out of love so easily with all these new internet services that was spawning and then dying out.
They had one thing in common.
They pandered to a universal human need, and the better they did it, the quicker they succeeded. That need is:
Unless you’re this guy? Who, rather admirably has deferred that in this life for eternal gratification afterwards.
Now back to this thing about instant gratification. The internet I believe has brought out both the best and worst in us, and I’m the prime example.
I’ve always been an impatient fella. My mother always has to tell me to stop shaking my legs as I’m shaking away the wealth she says.
The internet brings out the real me. And I’m a slave to several little buttons. The first one is the easiest! Without creating, I want information, so I hit this little sucker! And depending on how deep you’re in, that itch you’ve been resisting to scratch for about 3 minutes gets satiated, at least for now.
Ahhhhhh … that feels good. Now give me more.
And so Facebook and Instagram gave me incentive, in the form of these little devils.
photo is from @marrianemixi, I took it off the web.
Thus, I tweet, instagram and tell you whats on my mind.
And even after this blog post, I’ll continue to do so, because overall the associated benefits that come with these activities, such as keeping abreast with whats going on in the world, with my friends and doing the same for them, remain.
PLUS, I get instant love from all of you.
But the question I find myself asking is … what have I actually created?
The masterpieces I admire as I walk through the museums I enjoy visiting in London or rome, took an entire lifetime to create.
The grand structures, whose walls and crevices and floors speak to me, took 2 or 3 lifetimes.
Sure, technology dictates that we should do more with less, and yet … I believe in established argument, philosophy and theorizing.
I believe that whilst it is easier to create in short form, and today we are rewarded for doing so, taking time and effort to create something and then having it appreciated in a qualitative manner demands a place in this world.
It is with this vision that I restart my blog and also launch my new service, NuffnangX, to bring power and appreciation back to long form blogging and thought leadership.
We live in a new reality, shaped by technology that is constantly evolving, and changing how and if we choose to consume media, and in what format.
NuffnangX brings prose to the mobile platform in a palatable format & relevance back to a space that was losing it.
Perhaps, just perhaps, we can avoid, the death of independent prose in the online space.
I am in melbourne now, and was about to leave the hotel room for the office, when this ad came on CNN.
I stopped in my tracks and actually wanted to see who it was by.The answer surprised me, pleasantly. SC Global is a singaporean property developer.
I love how they’ve put together such meaningful words, music and meshed them together with images I can identify with.
Some people say that the creative is all over and nitpicked, but the most important thing for me is that it clicked. The lyrics of the song just matched the images so well, and SC global tied in the theme that home is where the heart is, even though there are so many other places that will hold memories for us.
Check it out, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
p.s. Do you know who it is doing the voiceover? I thot that was a great choice!
With so much discussion, condemnation, defence swirling around tiger woods, I’ve had my points of view, but just have not found time to put them up.
Today tiger woods is back where he belongs. On the golf course.
Having been in the marketing world for a short 3 years, I’ve gained some insight into how marketers think.
And to be honest, just like the rest of the world, and any food chain, the best ones (marketers),at the top of the food chain is a distinct minority.
The food chain of course is often represented as a pyramind, meaning that whilst the top is top, there aren’t many of them.
It looks something like above, so you see, the decomposers, are probably one of the largest groups in the food chain, but we all know what they do, they feed on shit.
See, when tiger woods went public, the only thought in my mind was, “Hey shit, thats going to affect his game.”
I wasn’t thinking “Oh shit, my whole moral structure and basis has been destroyed.” I wasn’t thinking, “Oh accenture, tell me how to win again, or be great. Give me another idol to look up to.”
Far from it. As we all know, whichever faith you come from, we all have one thing in common. We all have within ourselves the ability to tell right from wrong.
Sure, there are many external influences in the world. One being the media and these super personalities we all so love to hate. But lets be frank, if you’ve gone around philandering with a dozen women in spite of having 3 beautiful kids, and a model wife, ITS ON YOU!
When tiger woods is on the course, we don’t go, “Hey kids, don’t be like uncle tiger, don’t cheat on your wives or husbands in the future”, we go “FUCK SON! Look at that swing, you better swing like that from now on! Havn’t I been telling you for the longest time! I tell you I go back and change your coach! He hasnt been teaching you right! And add a morning lesson for you also!”
Whichever way you look at it. ITS ALL about the golf when it comes to tiger.
And thus I have reached my point.
Yes, marketers would like to think or assume they are associating themselves with certain core values when they sign up a star. And yes on the surface it is true. But only in a very superflous manner. So for example, they got a brochure from tiger woods agent, citing reasons like below:
Why you should have tiger endorse your products
1) He is the best player of golf in the world
2) He is a great role model
3) A family figure
4) Associated with values of honesty, sincerety, perseverance, tenacity, etc etc etc.
5) People look up to him
You see over time, marketers and people in general have to justify things. As a boss, I don’t like you to cite me just merely the obvious points when you are giving me something. So they went into a board room and spawned a snazzy powerpoint about how tiger woods and what he “represents” mixes with the corporate culture and values those people in the boardroom believe.
The reason why they want tiger woods or NEED him, is because HE IS THE BEST FUCKING PLAYER in the world of golf. Yes Phil Mickleson is a great player too, with great values. But all I see so far is the POTENTIAL to be GREAT! He’s good, just not fucking great.When he hits that ball, you have 1 in a 100 expectation of seeing an INCREDIBLE shot. For tiger woods this happens EVERYTIME wheather or not it is the case.
So they forgot all about the famous 80/20 rule. They focused on the 80 percent, what seemed to be the bigger picture. But in doing so, really really lost the bigger picture.
So what happens? HERD INSTINCT happens. Actually it always happens.
Just to take you on another tangent. One related to economics.
Think back to the global financial crisis that happened just a while back.
Honestly it would take courage to go into a market that just seems to keep spiralling down. Even when it stablises, you’re not sure if any company is safe.
WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF RISK.
If you had been brave. If you had conquered your fears, instead of shivering at home in the corner. If you had waited for your moment.
You might have bought OSIM stocks at 8 cents, and made over 10 times in just a year.
Put in 100,000 and you’re a millionaire. Put in a million and you’re a ten millionaire.
Yes, I am over simplifying things. But thats how the cookie crumbles folks!
At 8 cents, I personally bought stocks into osim, which I felt were way way undervalued. I had the benefit of knowing Ron Sim, the founder personally, and felt he was a survivor. If even in the sort to medium run. (Nobody can look too far ahead).
I sold out at 50 cents of course, I did not make gamillions either. Because “money no enough” (This post is for jack neo too).
The point often is, when everybody is excited and into something, most times it is overvalued. I personally feel the market is overvalued at this point. I could be wrong, but I don’t like to trade on endless upside. Its much harder.
When a “shock” occurs though, what happens is ALWAYS an OVER-REACTION.
And thus I end my story. At this point, and even before this. I viewed tiger like OSIM.
And no, ACCENTURE, you clearly do not know what it takes to be a tiger.
THIS IS WHAT IT TAKES TO BE A TIGER. I am seeing conflicting news about Tag Heuer, and am not sure if they are still supporting him. But COMING OUT LIKE THIS in the HEAT of the scandal. That is MARKETING.
THAT IS A VALUE I AS A CONSUMER CAN IDENTIFY WITH. Supporting me when I am down.
And lastly of course. Nike. I love this brand. How many countless marketers have gone for conventions to learn about the best?
They clearly didnt learn that much. The brands that invested in tiger during his downtime, will get the biggest rewards. Because they took a risk, and nobody ever became great without doing that.
Tiger woods, “For what its worth, Ming stands with you too.”
p.s. Not a tiger fan by the way. Just a fan of reason.
P.S. I know this is atrociously late, but I’ve had such a crazy good start to the year, this blog of mine has been growing cobwebs! I’ll try to update more often! Promise!
With the finalists confirmed, all 60 of them, the preparations really took a step up!
There were a whole lot of details to iron out.
Amongst them was
1) Sorting out the flights, internal transfers, and accomodation for over 150 foreign bloggers, clients and guests
2) Sorting out the menu, decorations, stage, detailed programme for the night itself
3) Keeping open and maintaining clear lines of communications with all stakeholders, including sponsors, VIPs, and bloggers
4) Double checking EVERYTHING
5) Maintaining the integrity of our budget
Here are the girls pouring through the list of bloggers, and assigning them to rooms. As Nuffnang was picking up the tab for EVERYTHING, from flight, to internal transfer to hotel accomodation, we had to have 2 bloggers to a room, and could not afford the luxury of each blogger having their own accomodation.
As a result, you can imagine, how much of a nightmare it was making sure the bloggers knew who they were staying with, and it had to coincide with the arrival schedules, amogst other things.
Every single blogger (unless they had chosen to come earlier on their own accord) was met by a member of our team.
This was to ensure, the bloggers got to their accomodations safely, and had a liason from the moment they touched down.
So this was me and huiwen, greeting our first group of bloggers from Australia, in the middle of the night!
We had arranged coaches, for the various groups.
The other group I met, was from Philippines. Really cool people.
After their bus ride, they were met at Link Hotel, our OFFICIAL ACCOMDATION PARTNERS, by a member of our staff, to sort out their rooms.
All this stuff happens simultaneously. So its kinda like you never really “book out” of the office at all.
As soon as the receiving party has sorted out the blogger’s accomodations, they’re back in the office to sort out the nitty gritty stuff that needs to be done.
Tiny details, like creating “official” name tags, so that Nuffnang staff can be easily identified in their gowns and suits on the event night!
We chose the small and sleek tags, so that it wouldn’t clash with the event’s dress code.
Raine was our official graphic designer for these little features.
This is carlos slitting our registration table notices.
It may not seem like alot, but when you’re inundated by a huge amount of work, little details like the winner’s cards get forgotten or neglected.
Not by our team!
This is elise, preparing the slips that held the winner’s names. This was printed just the day before (for security reasons), and kept behind a locked door.
All key personnel also had walkie talkies to ensure that communication lines were open in the vast ballroom.
For the night itself, every nuffie was assigned specific roles. Some more important than others.
Elaine and Robb for example, had probably the biggest, as Programme ICs. Their role was to ensure, that they knew the programme inside out, and controlled it.
They are the ones prompting various people of their upcoming roles and activities.
Furthermore, if any unforseen circumstances occurred, these 2 would be the ones, rejigging the program on the spot and notifying everybody so that the evening retains its flow.
Here they are literally memorizing the itenarary. Item after item, timing after timing. I gave them a test! It was fun! For me!
Robb is always up for these kinds of tests anyway!
One other item that we had prepared way earlier, was the souvenir programme.
I wonder how many people take a moment to think about how much work goes into those pages as they are flipping through!
It was a labour of love and I loved the result!
On a trip to melbourne, I had spotted a candy shop that made customized candies.
I had originally contemplated importing them over as table gifts.
I didnt need to, because a young entrereneur and his wife, kris, brought Sticky in!
They did a fantastic job for us, and many bloggers loved the sweets.
Behind a locked door, along with the winner cards, were our winners trophies.
These trophies are 100 percent CUSTOM MADE and we had to order 50 of them! They are 100 percent crystal and to be honest cost our budget dearly, but this was one area we felt we could not save on.
So much work went into the inaugural NAPBAS, and I was elated to hear very very positive comments about the proceedings. I think the team felt validated. You can’t cover all they did in 2 blog posts, it’s impossible, but there isnt a need to either.
We all felt rather empty, once the last foreign blogger had left our shores, and the weekend came. Whilst it was alot of work, the team came together so well, and I think enjoyed themselves immensely.Some things money cannot buy.
As many of you probably know by now, the inaugural Nuffnang Asia Pacific Blog Awards 09, or NAPBAS in short was a major success.
My vision for the project encompassed the equivalent of an Oscars for Bloggers, and we set out trying to make it as grand an affair as possible.I cannot be happier with the results, and I have my team to thank for that.
The countless number of hours, blood, sweat and tears that went ino this project, is mind boggling, and it certainly forged strong bonds within the team.
Since there have been countless posts about the going ons of the evening itself, I thought it would be useful to write about the blog awards from where I was standing. As “minister mentor” of the event and project (Execution was headed by my able team).
So I’m going to start right at the beginning.
This project, started in earnest, about a year before the actual event. As the largest blog advertising community, we come across thousands of blogs on a daily basis, and were itching to do a blog awards. For 3 main reasons.
1) We wanted to honour the best, and in doing so, hopefully encourage the great bloggers to continue blogging and supplying great content to the open web.
2) To encourage other bloggers to emulate these great content producers.
3) We knew with our database and knowledge of the blogosphere, we had the ability to pull this bigger and better than any of its predecessors.
To be honest, the event was supposed to happen somewhere in March or April 2009, in conjunction with our 2nd annivesary, but circumstances kept pushing the date further forward. One thing we knew, is that regardless of how far the date was pushed, we would not compromise on the quality or vision of the awards. And so we waited.
Finally, after securing our wonderful sponsors, Pringles (who had been engaged with us from the start), our host destination, Uniquely Singapore, we were all systems go. I think this was somewhere in August, and once we set the event date at October 23rd, we found we had alot of ground to cover, and very little time to do it!
For the NAPBAS, we worked closely with our sister company Ripplewerkz Pte Ltd to develop all the interactive elements of the blog awards. This included as planned earlier, a website, the online home of the NAPBAS, which would cover three phases, (Nomination, Voting and Post event-not completed), nomination videos showcasing the various finalists, banner ads to publicize our event, the napbas booklet, the stage, and more.
The guys at Ripplewerkz are great when it comes to fulfilling their clients expectations, and I wanted a site that would portray the grandness of the event, but not be too cluttered and difficult to navigate around. Note that having sponsors also meant their brand assets needed to be protected, and so they were consulted on almost every aspect of the awards, down to the microsite. There was therefore a neccessary delay and buffer for every decision we needed to have made.
I really like the website, and the permanant home of the napbas, has been set at www.napbas.com, although the site has not been completed yet (Expect it 1st Q 10)
Once the site was up, it was a matter of waiting the three weeks, but also collating data and nominations to assess them. So whilst we were receiving the nominations at a breakneck pace, we had to assess them otherwise we’d be in for a rough time.
Over 10,000 nominations were received from all over Asia Pacific. The bias was definitely in countries where Nuffnang had a strong presence in, but we had nominations come in from Indonesia, Vietnam, China, India, amongst other places. Ultimately though, tough decisions had to be made, and I guess from the sheer numbers from Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines and Australia, the quality was too strong to deny.
Once nomination closed, we had a frantic time actually consolidating and finalizing selections for our panelists.
We had to narrow it down to 25 (Or thereabout depending on the nominations) for every category, as most of the panelists are busy people and, with 12 categories, you’re looking at 300 blogs in itself!
To help them, we came out with powerpoint slides that did several things.
Firstly to give them a broad definition of the category.
and secondly to highlight key reasons or elements we felt were interesting and relevant to the category.
Of course nothing replaces going to the blog itself, so after they are presented these elements, they go into the blog itself, and have a few quick minutes to browse through the site, and get a feel of it.
Finally we end the timing and let them score the blogs.
In dossiers that we prepared for each panelist.
For our foreign panelists, we got them to do it remotely.
To maintain fairness, judges with confilcts of interests with bloggers were excluded from judging ENTIRE categories. So Lionel from Ripplewerkz was excluded from judging for Best Original Blog Design, while Nuffnang panelists did not judge Best Fashion Blog as Candice was working with Nuffnang Australia as our community manager.
Each scoring sheet is easy to mark, simply with a tick or a circle, and there are generic judging points and judging points specific to the category.
With nominations closing on a Friday, and needing the panelists to get together over monday to wednesday in the next week, it was a mad dash getting hundreds of powerpoint slides, and individual scoring sheets ready. That was one of the first weekends that the nuffies would stay in. As in literally, get their jammies together (like so), and work overnight in the office.
1 person could sleep at the nuffie corner, and we got really thin mats for other people too. They were a temporary solution.
Until I got 2 tatami beds, which really are very comfortable, and supposed to be great for your back.
Alot of hard work was put in that first MAJOR weekend.
It paid off when at least 4 of the independent panelists commented that the judging process was world class and excellent in quality. Win no 1 for the organising team!
Part 2 coming up soon.
To ben yeow: Here is that 2nd post as requested! Hope you are doing well in Shanghai!
Day 2 of our Hong Kong Disneyland experience.
Everybody knows I’m an early riser. When I’m on holiday, I don’t really like to waste time in the hotel, sleeping most of the day away.
Lucky for our group then, that the park only opens at 10AM.
So we scheduled to meet for our breakfast in the hotel a much more decent time (to audrey), 0930AM.
A buffet breakfast was included with our stay at the Disneyland hotel in a wonderfully decorated restaurant called “The Enchanted Garden”
You could only get away with fantastic names like that in Disneyland.
These are some pictures of how it looks.
Pretty big buffet spread, which included everything from Japanese to Chinese to American.
The gazebo in the middle. Following a victorian setting once again.
I figure I would have enjoyed living as an aristocrat in the victorian age.
My brekkie! Complete with mickey mouse shaped pancakes!
If you come to Disneyland, it is my opinion, you need to stay at a Disneyland hotel.
And breakfast with the Disney characters is one big reason why.
I remember in Anaheim, how my sisters used to get their autographs.
At disneyland, no matter how old you are, just let go! Be a kid again! Take photos with mickey and minnie. Soak it in.
Like my partner Tim!
OFFICIALLY the BIGGEST FAN of Disney I know. He keeps on going on about how Disneyland is such a happy place.
TOTALLY CANDID shot! LOOK AT THE GUY’S FACE! Better not show audrey, cause I’ve never seen him as happy with her! *CHOPE!*
Me and Estee with Mickey, my hero!
Leaving the Enchanted garden, full, happy and feeling like a child again!
One of my favourite things about Disneyland is THE MERCHANDISE!
Ok, so I’m a shopaholic, but honestly, nobody does merchandise better than disney.
Everything is so damn cute and thoughtful, and when you’re in that happy mood, you go crazy. Every item you buy represents a memory, and I’m all into retaining memories.
Another reason then, why you should stay at a Disney resort hotel, is that there is a shop in every hotel!
NO LONG QUEUES AND CRAZED CHINESE PEOPLE SNATCHING MY MICKEY! IT’S MINE! SLAPPP PUNCHHH!!!
This is how the store looks.
The girls decided to get into character before we hit the park itself.
A short shuttle bus ride later, and we were in the park itself.
Estee trying to lift mercury, and failing miserably.
This is her seconds before she gets crushed by impeding doom.
I spent 30 bucks on those mittens because she was cold! Not because she trying to act cute.
We went onto the space mountain ride, which was really quite terrifying.
I used to love rollercoasters and extreme rides like that, but I don’t anymore.
My picture after the ride, had my look of pure terror.
When I go to themeparks, like sixflags in LA, me and another friend stanley, take all the kiddy rides.
Just imagine 2 twenty plus year olds jostling with little kids on the bumper cars, and mini ferris wheels, and the like. We always win them of course! mwahahah.
The 2nd ride we went to was the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters.
More my type of ride, 2 people sit in a vehicle, and use laser guns to score points.
I totally whooped estee’s ass here. She will claim otherwise, but don’t listen to her! She’s deranged.
We also went for this really cool and interactive attraction called Stitch Encounter.
Basically, you interact with Stitch on screen, and he interacts back.
There is obviously somebody behind the screen, but they do a great job meshing the animation (his actions) and his words.
Really fun! Trust me, it is not lame at all. And only disney could pull it off so well.
Although the room was full of kids, I found myself answering his questions! hahahahaah. I am competitive by nature. What can i say.
Next stop! FANTASY LAND!
And the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
One of thsoe rides, where you sit in a vehicle and go through a story animated by wax figurines, and light and sound effects.
Nice and relaxing ride.
Next up: Mickey’s Philarmagic.
Look at the posters outside.
Super cute lah.
This was a 4D experience, that basically brings you through some of the best music from Disney cartoons.
Being a huge fan of disney music (I smashed my car because I was singing to Little Mermaid’s “Under the Sea”), this was definitely a personal favourite.
I like how all three lands in Disneyland HK are so distinct.
From the picture perfect fantasy land, we moved on to the raw and steamy jungles of Adventureland.
This guy, with nothing more than a broom and some water, was drawing disney characters on the floor.
We all stood there fascinated for a while.
A short raft ride, across a wild river, and we reached Tarzan’s treehouse.
A simulation of how tarzan’s treehouse would have looked like.
Anybody who says Disneyland Hong Kong is small does not know what they’re talking about.
We got in at 10AM and by 4PM i was pooped and headed back.
By which time we happened to catch the daily parade in main street.
I’ll let you soak in some of the colourful images.
Bye bye disneyland! Filled with happiness, but leaving with some sadness.
Thank god then that we return to this!
We’ve still got happy music piping through. And a live band playing christmas songs. Their music filling the atrium.
*WARM FUZZY FEELING*
With Disney cartoons in the lobby to moot!
We were staying at the victorian, and i think posher Disneyland Hotel.
This one is the more mainstream one, called Hollywood hotel.
The architecture is of the Art Deco style. Really retro. One of the houses I build in the future will have art deco elements throughout.
And Club Mickey, where the kind folks at Disneyland HK had booked us all in for a sumptous christmas buffet.
The international spread is INSANE. There is so much variety. From chinese to japanese to indian, to american.
You want it? You’ve got it!
And the best part is the quality of food was excellent! Not your typical buffet! If you’re going to be in Disneyland, its worthwhile going for this buffet.
An excellent way to cap our HKDL experience.
Overall, it was a refreshing weekend away, which at first I had been dreading (Having just returned from a 3 week european holiday), but I ended up loving so much!
I’ve told tim, that next year’s company retreat, should be helf in Disneyland, so guys work harder!
Back in the comfort of my home, I laid out the loot! Check it!
Haha, I couldnt help myself, i even splurged on a 5G gold bar with mickey on it!
Just 5 days after getting back from my big European escapade (which I will blog about soon), I was off to Hong Kong Disneyland, together with Estee, Timothy, Audrey, Wendy, Mike, Redmummy, and cheesie.
To be honest, I was quite tired of travelling, but nonetheless, it was Disneyland that was calling, so this was different, no?
Getting up at 6Am for our flight did not help the situation, but I called us a cab, and got a mercedes! Wooohooo! One up already! Alwayss a good sign.
I never really realised how short a distance Hong Kong is from Singapore.
The flight only takes 3 hours.
Taking the morning flight meant I slept through most of it, skipping the yucky plane food (I NEVER eat plane food! Its totally gross), and waking up to the splendid Hong Kong International Airport, which by air travel goes is really one of the best (Next to our own Changi of course!) :-p
A 15 minute cab ride costing just $20 SGD later, and we were in the beautiful and elegant Disneyland Hotel HK.
Door to door it took us just 6 hours, which is comparable to my trips up to KL (By coach of course).
This is the main lobby area of the hotel. The hotel takes on a victorian theme throughout, and it exudes feelings of nostalgia and of course aristocracy!
The malaysian group got in before us (having caught a 6Am flight, *snigger*) so we caught up with them at the lobby restaurant, and had a quick lunch too.
There is my other “half”, Timothy (Ignore the girl beside him, thats just audrey). hehe :-p
Wendy and mike.
Me and estee. I need a haircut. Haha!
After lunch, the malaysians got checked in, and also enjoyed the famed machine gun kiss (For the 20th time by now).
That is the gross “multiple” barrage of simultaneous kisses tim gives audrey. Disneyland is probably the only place on earth, I find it mildly acceptable. Having said that, the memory of it still gives me the shivers. BRRrrrrr shiver me timbers!
Mickey and minnie looking on too. All smiles of course.
Our rooms were pretty big. 2 double beds!
I found out that the Hotel rate is approximately $300SGD per night, and as you can see, can sleep 4, so thats just $75SGD per person, which honestly is a steal!
It had all the usual luxuries of a 5 star hotel, including plasma TV, cable, free local phone calls, etc.
But as they say, “The devil is in the details!”
And boy are the details fantastic!
Our bed headboards, had an image of the sleeping beauty castle.
Comforters were themed Alice in wonderland.
A general view of the bathroom (in my opinion, the MOST important part of a hotel room).
And the details continue.
7 dwarves toiletries set, which I took home as a souvenir. so cute! How to use!?
Even the tissue box has “sneezy” on it!
The full sized mirror continues the theme.
As do the courtesy signs.
All these tiny details add up to make you feel like you’re in Disneyland even before you even step onto the hallowed ground itself!
I was feeling happy already, and could have just spent the whole day lazing in my room, but Tea at 4PM called, so hai ho hai ho and off to tea we go!
Dum dum dee dum dum, dum dum dee dum dum, hai ho, hai ho, hai ho, hai ho!
The blogger contingent with their tea trays. There are 3 layers, and each one of us had one of those! I kid you not!
Tea is served at the sorcerers lounge, which is a cosy lounge just next to the lobby.
Mickey is everywhereeee!!!
Even the butter!
Multiple scones, cakes, sandwiches, tea and a shuttle bus ride later, we were in Disneyland!
I swear, as soon as you walk in, and start hearing the piped music (dummm deee dumm deeee dumm deee dumm- hum to tune of “when you wish upon a star), you come alive! And boy was I alive!
Gone was all the lethargy. Joy filled my heart (No honestly), and you remember.
It was really windy, but our contingent still looked pretty good!
At night, they give out these really cool “visors” that when you put on, amazingly, turns the flare of any light, into various shapes.
For example: Hearts!
Look carefully at this picture, I put the lens behind the visor, you can see all the heart shapes!
Christmas is the most important time of the year for me. I always feel warm and fuzzy around this time of year, and love taking drives down orchard roof, with my sunroof open to soak in the lights.
It is soooooooooo beautiful in Disneyland this time of the year. With a massive tree on Main Street (Where all the Disney shops are- jewellry, souvenirs, crystal, bakeries, photo shops- all disney themed!).
They call it winter wonderland, and it really is. A light show ensues along with a parade, and as you watch with the visors, a christmas tree light show of hearts follows. It is so beautiful.
Would I a poet or a writer, I would wax lyric about the feelings I had to explain it to you. Unfortunately, I can’t, and you really have to experience it yourself.
The climax of the christmas parade is a flurry of snow that seemingly appears out of nowhere. It is simulated very realistically, and I’m telling you from experience.
Dudes: There is no better date place than disneyland in Christmas Babes: Just sit back and enjoy it.
After the christmas parade, it was off to the rides!
And the first one, “It’s a small world”.
It is a really cute ride. To jog your memory (I’m sure you’ve been on it!), its a “water” ride, that takes you through recreations of all the cities and places in the world.
And africa. And all the while, with “Its a small world afterall, its a small world afterall, its a small world afterall, its a small small world”.
I promise you, after you leave the ride, you’ll be humming the tune the whole night.
The 2nd ride we went on was the Mad Hatter Tea Cup ride. MY FAVOURITE.
This is estee and me.
Estee was all gung ho before the ride, saying, “I’m going to spin you so hard you are going to puke”
I ended up doing the turning, she ended up saying “Stop stop stop”, which simple encouraged me to spin even more.
Super fun. Dodo bird.
We capped the evening with the nightly fireworks display.
Again, pictures don’t do it justice.
With the “visor”, what you see is a flurry of hearts and snowflakes. Its pretty darn cool.
With the “ooooohhsss” and “ahhhhhs” of the crowd and friends around me, we left the park, just ….
The weekend thus far has been nothing short of magical here at Hong Kong Disneyland.
I have enjoyed myself immensely. More than I remember.
That I realise, is the thing about Disneyland.
If you havn’t come in a long time, you forget what it’s all about. But the moment you enter those magical gates, you remember.
And in that instant your heart, mind and soul dance in harmony with the loved ones around you.