Being a Boss

17

Written on 5/28/2009 02:24:00 pm by sikapitan

It’s been a while since I last updated my blog. AND it’s been a while since I talked about something else other than Dani (who’s doing fine by the way, and is on his way to becoming a bona-fide heartbreaker…make Daddy proud!).

In case you didn’t know, I’ve quit from my post as a Management Associate at Maxis. So please don’t bug me about how terrible Maxis’ lines are, because I can’t help you anymore. Now that I’m no longer an employee I can tell you that – (a) yes, the network sucks big time, but seems to be improving (b) yes, it’s because of their stupid push for Mobile Broadband and (c) yes, I think foreigners don’t understand the local market.

BUT, and this is a big BUT (like JLo’s but without the T), they will bounce back. There are too many great people in there, there’s too much pride in the team, there’s too much talent at their disposal that things will only get better. ONLY if they’re willing to admit their mistakes and move on.

I’ve moved on though. I’m running my family’s business right now. It was supposed to be a gradual transition of power. But being a natural power-hungry Machiavellian disciple, I’ve disposed of my mom and dad within a fortnight of joining…hahaha.

The most important thing about taking over an organization is to establish clear goals and work principles. Communicate these goals and work principles to your employees. Example, when I first came in, I immediately re-established our core purpose – to be a leading Network Marketing company in Malaysia. Just by establishing this purpose, we’ve managed to realign all our business activities to grow the network marketing portion.

Next is to establish credibility. Being 26 and leading an organization with 50000 distributors and revenue in millions every month is not easy, especially in a Malay-centric membership base like ours. So I had to prove myself which I did as soon as I joined by being a part of a Business Preview and making presentations to the general public.

I also have to prove that I can strategically grow this business. So I set about, with the aid of my team, to refocus our attention on Business Previews. We were slowing down, with only 20 participants every week. But thanks to the collective effort of the team and a strategic campaign, we’re now averaging 100 pax every week (which is the most we can take anyway). And this happened all within 2 months.

With success, comes jealousy. That is the only drawback of my business.


I’d love to write more about my experience as the Boss of a Network Marketing company, but my schedule’s a bit packed. Right now, I’m rushing to interview a new employee for my corporate communication department.

So until next time, See You at the Pinnacle of Success!

My First Month as Daddy

4

Written on 5/04/2009 03:02:00 pm by sikapitan

“Nooooooo…he’s been out for a month and all he can give us is another Daddy story…” Sorry folks, there’ll be a bit of this because Dani has become a huge part of my life, so it’s only natural that I talk a bit about him.

The first month has been great. Dani and Mommy have been nothing but superb. The only challenging part is trying to raise Dani my own way. It’s not as easy as it seems, especially considering that everyone has Dani’s best interest at heart.

For example, I want Dani to be breast-fed. But in the beginning, he can’t seem to connect with the nipple well enough for the milk to be pouring, and if the milk is not pouring, he gets frustrated and hungry. The first 2 days, he was a screamer. We tried feeding him but he just can’t connect. The nurses said that it’s okay if the baby doesn’t get any milk, as they’re conditioned to last about 2 days without it. They recommended we stay patient and steadfast in trying to breast-feed the boy.

Unfortunately, both our parents can’t stand to see him cry (and again, he’s a screamer) so they (in particular, Tok Nani aka my Mom) started saying how we’re torturing him etc2. Finally, we caved in, and fed him formula milk. Guess what happens? He gets used to easy milk, so he won’t work hard for breast-milk, so the milk stop coming out easily, so he can’t get the milk, so he gets frustrated, so we have to feed him formula. It’s a chicken and egg thing.

It’s hard to be mad when your mom or dad wants to pamper the baby because they can’t stand to see the baby cry. I mean, they have a point. Why let the baby suffer? But the consequences will only be felt later. Dani developed rashes after a few weeks of having S-26 Gold (cow-based formula claimed to be closest to breast milk), and he now has to take soy-based Isomil Eye-Q. His antibody will not be as strong as a baby that drinks breast-milk.

It’s the same thing with cradling him to sleep. If my baby has been fed, and his pampers are clean, I would honestly let him cry until he falls asleep, as he has developed this habit of wanting to be hugged and cradled until he sleeps. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with cradling him, but as my nephew Adam proves, it gets difficult for the baby to part ways and be independent even after 1 or 2 years.


Dani and Danny thinking how much
we can milk Tok Nani and Tok Wan of their money...heheheh

It has been good every time I used this technique. He’ll cry about 10-15 minutes then fall asleep naturally. But when our parents come into the picture, they’ll immediately want to hold and sway the baby to sleep. Arghhhh….

And I can see it now. How every time I don’t want to give something to Dani, someone will come and give it to him out of pity. How every time I’d want to discipline Dani, there’ll be a rescue angel (most likely Tok Nani) who’ll come and spoil everything. Not spoil per se, but you get my drift.

I wonder if all grandparents are like that. Or if yes, why can’t they remember when they were having us, how they have to deal with THEIR parents.

Hahaha…anyway, Dani loves Tok Nani so I should be cool with that.

...

Something about being a dad...

9

Written on 3/28/2009 12:22:00 am by sikapitan

Here’s a brief chronology of events leading up to the birth of Putra Dani Nashrin:

Thursday, 19th March 2009

0900 – I was supposed to go for site visits when Rinie said she couldn’t stand the pain anymore. My mom panicked, of course, and we all went to Sime Darby Medical Centre – Subang Jaya (I much prefer SJMC)

1130 – After monitoring Rinie for one hour, at a charge of close to RM 200, the nurse said her dilation’s was only 1 cm, and her contraction wasn’t severe. The doctor examined her and told us to go back home. At the rate we’re going, she says, Dani may even exceed the estimated due date (22nd March 2009). She was expecting us to come see her on Monday morning to discuss other options, including inducing labour. Lesson No.1: Don’t trust your doctors 100%

1930 – We went out to KLCC. Doctor said she must move a lot more to speed up the process. I went up to finish up some work, because I’m leaving Maxis by the 2nd of April. Another entry, another day for that. Rinie bought another bag. Sigh.

Friday, 20th March 2009

1030 – We went to Sunway Pyramid. Needed to switch my Maxis line from Employee Rate Plan to a normal Value plan. Rinie was in pain, with contractions coming in every 5 minutes. I was a bit worried, but she said it was okay. We had lunch at TGI.

1430 – Contractions getting worse according to Rinie. My mom made the executive decision to bring her to the hospital, so off we went again.

1600 – After another hour of monitoring, they still gave us an option of whether to stay or to go back. Are they crazy? I said, screw it, we’re gonna sleep here tonight. Rinie was in a terrible mess by this time. Her dilation was only 2cm, but her contractions coming in at a shorter period, but according to the nurse, not intense enough.

2130 – She tried to watch One in A Million, to catch Tomok. Apparently, he’s pretty good. Unfortunately, the pain was too much for her to enjoy the show. Parents came over, but can’t visit her. There wasn’t an empty room, so we had to stay in the labour room (Delivery Room 3A to be exact), and they don’t allow anyone except husband to be there.

2300 – Took the painkiller that the doctor said would help. I just wanted her to sleep well as she needs the energy to push Dani out.

Saturday, 21st March 2009

0300 – Painkiller no longer effective. I keep waking up every 3 minutes as Rinie suffered through her contractions. Called in the nurse, decided to get the epidural. Epidural is a form of painkiller that is delivered via an insertion in your bone marrow or something. Anaesthetist was called in, signed a few papers, and Rinie underwent the short procedure. Immediate relief, wished she got it earlier

0900 – She can’t have breakfast, she can’t eat. She’s been fasting since 3 a.m. Dilation’s only at 2.5 and opening very slowly. In fact, contraction seemed to have slowed down. This is another side effect of epidural. You don’t feel the pain, so your muscle won’t contract, so it’s harder to open up. Oh, the Doc decided to break her water-bag as a way to expedite the contractions.

1230 – Still no difference. Dilation at 4 cm. But Rinie looked really weak. She hadn’t had anything for the past 13 hours at least. I’ve had Nasi Lemak, 1901s and I still feel weak. Damn, it’s hard being a mother.

1530 – It was getting worse. Somehow the epidural’s not working so well. It’s either the nurse messed up, or Rinie’s contraction getting worse. I don’t know, because the nurses have trouble communicating. They’re nice people, but I wanted to know what’s going on. They’ll just waltz in, jab a few things, poke their finger, smile and leave the room. What the f*c*?

1730 – Still no food or drink for Rinie. Just sips of water. Why? Because if she has to suddenly go for caesarean (ie. open surgery to remove baby), then she must be clear of food or water. But it has been going on for almost a day now, and she was so tough to ride it out. I’ve got marks on my hand where she pinched and scratched during her contractions. It hurts, of course, but you’ve got to imagine how much pain SHE was going through. Lesson No.2: Wrap a towel around your hand

1900 – Tried watching Akademi Fantasia. Doctor came in and examined Rinie. Dilation only at 5 cm. She said if things don’t improve by 2230, she’ll have to perform a caesarean. It’s risky to keep babies for longer than a day when the water-back has been broken.

1930 – Inform the family of this news. They were worried, and my father-in-law started saying how weak Rinie is, and how he always knew Rinie would finally have to opt for a C-Section. I told Rinie about it, and it was like she was motivated to deliver this baby naturally after being challenged like that.

2230 – Doctor came in, said that dilation was 8 cm. Wow. She switched off the epidural, and said they’d monitor for another ½ hour. Rinie was by then fully dependant on the gas mask for pain relief. It was so discomforting to see your wife suffer by your side. Every few minutes I would have to cup in the mask for her to breathe in the “laughing gas”. Lesson No. 3: Eat, because you have to keep up your energy level to support your wife

2300 – Nurse came in, and started to move things around, and put in new equipments. Asked Rinie to spread her legs, and push. WTF? Who was going to deliver my baby? What the hell did I pay for anyway? I was just pissed off that they weren’t telling me much

2315 – One annoying nurse came, poked around, gave some stupid advice. It’s not their fault actually. Now, I just realized that we’re probably the gazillion couple they’ve given birth to. For them, we’re just another couple. But for us, this is our first child...so they could certainly improve in this area

2320 – Doctor came in, started getting ready. I didn’t realize it but by then I was part of the process, prodding my wife to push as hard as she could. I couldn’t believe that I was there, because I’m the squirmish kind of dude. Even my parents said I shouldn’t be a burden to Rinie. Lesson No. 4: This is a true life-changing moment of discovery. Not some summer camp crap...

2335 – Doctor said she was trying hard to help, but if Rinie can’t push along then we have to go for emergency C-Section. I think she was just trying to scare Rinie, and it worked. Rinie pushed and pushed and out comes the baby. Can you imagine that the baby’s been stuck in a tiny area for so long?

2337 – Baby came out just fine. Not like in the movies, crying immediately. It was eerily quiet for a brief moment. Dani was like a squid. Seriously. I was asked whether I would like to cut the umbilical cord. I said yes, and it felt weird cutting it. Nurse immediately put him under a warmer, and that’s when I first heard his cry. Damn, he’s loud. Lesson No. 5: Life is not like in the movies.

2345 – Dani was placed on Rinie’s lap. Rinie was glowing, despite the fact she was still wide open with the doctor doing some weird stuff between her legs. Luckily, she was a woman. Lesson No. 6: Guys, go for female OBGY...hehehe

2400 – Family was standing outside Labour Ward, looking all excited. I came out and told them everything’s okay. Putra Dani Nashrin, 3.45 KG, 11.37PM. I was immediately mobbed and hugged and congratulated. Heck, it’s great being a dad. She does all the hard work (and it was freaking hard work) and I get all the applause. Lesson No. 7: Be the Guy

Officially, doctor said Rinie underwent 17 hours of labour. But she started counting only in the morning of the 21st, when she broke her water-bag. But she was on epidural since 3, and painkillers since 11 the night before. She didn't eat or drink for close to 24 hours. That's crazy!

I have a new found respect for her. She's tough like hell, and I'm gonna make sure Dani knows it too.

Btw, don't panic if your baby comes out looking like he's a track cyclist. The helmet-like shape of the head is only temporary...

More on this later! (Sorry to bore my mates. Football pun tengah International break kan?)

Shorts

2

Written on 3/17/2009 09:05:00 pm by sikapitan

Accepting a Loss

We lost. Yes, I was disappointed. Surprisingly, I took it quite well. Why? I’m not sure myself. I’ve had more disappointments losing 1-0 before. Maybe it was the scoreline. I watched the replay again, and I still found the whole experience surreal. Even my Liverpool mates were too shocked to even rub it in. They were more upbeat when we failed to beat Inter at the San Siro! I hope it was what everyone thinks it was – an anomaly, an off-day, an outlier.

Too little, too late

Ali Rustam was “dropped” from the UMNO Deputy-President race, thus saving Malaysians from having a Deputy Prime Minister who can’t really converse in English, has no experience at the Federal Level, and looks a lot like Datuk K (which for some might be a compliment).

The fact that UMNO top echelons took to the Disciplinary Committee to save them from the potential embarrassment of Ali Rustam winning just goes to prove one thing – it is the shrinking UMNO grassroot, not its top leaders, who are disillusioned and out of touch with reality. Why?

Because brilliant young minds no longer join UMNO like before. It’s left to Putera’s Rempit generation, that’s why Khir Toyo still has a chance, and people like Norza Zakaria are still supported.

One day, it’ll be a little too late for change, and the only natural consequence is the demise of UMNO. I thought it’s going to take some time, but now, I think my soon-to-be born son would not even get to hear about UMNO. That’s how bad it is…

Just waiting and praying for the best

I’m going to be a dad soon (EDD 22nd, but we’ll just have to wait and see). I’ve never written much about this, despite my wife being pregnant (she positively looks pregnant now!) for the past 9 months. I can’t describe how excited I am at the prospect of raising another human being. It’s a great responsibility, and I love challenges.

But at this moment, all I want to see is my lovely wife and child have a wonderful and healthy experience, albeit painful. Pray for the best with me, and God willing, we will see the latest addition to the world’s burgeoning population to take just a little bit more of our shared resources…ahhahahaha…

Tree of Hope, or Symbol of Mess?

0

Written on 3/08/2009 10:36:00 am by sikapitan

Is this another Malaysia Boleh moment? Seriously, a freaking tree assembly? How low can we go? It becomes evidently clear from the whole Perak fiasco that all politicians, regardless of political divide, will do whatever is necessary to gain or remain in power.

Some may argue on the legality and merit of the actions. Regardless, it seems rather obvious that PR is trying all it can to cling on to its hold on Perak. People may ask why it was so critical for Sivakumar to call for an emergency assembly. It’s quite simple.

He doesn’t want to wait for the court to declare his suspension of the BN assemblymen as ultra vires (ie. illegal), or Zambry as the lawful MB, or to give an injunction order against any state assembly sitting.

They all may have a reason for wanting power. From Anwar’s futile attempt at taking over the Federal Government, to Pak Lah’s last-minute ditch to remain as UMNO President. But who is actually doing their job of moving this country forward?

Although I don’t always support PR, I thought it was inherently a more honest organisation that BN. However, I’m starting to hear things recently which has made me re-consider this belief.

A close confidant, one whom I believe, recently shared of the conversation he had with a Member of Parliament from Pakatan, specifically Keadilan. This person is a high-ranking leader with close association with the present de facto (why still de facto?) leader of Keadilan. He casually admitted there’s lots of money to be made when you’re an MP. When asked why he didn’t want to be an ADUN (in a state where PR is in control), he brazenly claimed that when PR overtakes the federal government, he will become a minister, and there’s more money to be made there!

A contractor also told of this PAS state assemblyman from another Pakatan state who is asking for a monthly payment of around RM60,000 to support a project.

Hey, these are only rumours, and I’ve not even started with the shit I hear about BN leaders. But I only expected better from PR, and unfortunately, like my uncle said, we are all only human. I personally think that there’s two groups of Politicans – the older breed who are used to this corrupt practice as being part and parcel of politics, and the new breed of young, idealistic leaders who have not yet succumbed to the dark side.

There must be more of this new breed, because as long as politics are dictated by those at the top, the old-timers, the longer it takes for change to occur. Unfortunately, with time, no one can resist the dark side, not even idealistic, young, educated leaders.

...

Something about Going for Five

3

Written on 3/02/2009 10:25:00 pm by sikapitan

Manchester United has just added another trophy this season with last night’s League Cup victory over Tottenham Hotspur. That’s two already, with the World Club Cup already won before the beginning of this year.

In fact, after a slow start to the season, the World Club Cup, instead of being a distraction many predicted it would be, has become the catalyst to an impressive run which saw United now poised to further progress in the Champions League and FA Cup while still maintaining a healthy lead over Liverpool and Chelsea in the BPL.

7 points ahead with one game in hand for a team that has lost only twice the whole season is a comfortable lead that seems insurmountable, as admitted by Rafa “Cracking Up” Benitez recently.

In other words, today’s generation of Man United fans may well remember this season as the “Golden Age” of domination where United is finally able to marry its attacking philosophy with the pragmatism that has become a staple of modern football.

However, in my opinion, this has not been a vintage season by United’s standard. United have been more effective than enthralling, more patient than gung-ho, and frankly, more boring than entertaining.

A familiar sight this season?

If we were Chelsea, I wouldn’t have minded grinding out results week in week out. But this is United, where we live and breathe fast-paced high-energy attacking football. It’s in our culture to think that we don’t mind conceding 2 goals because we definitely will score 3 or 4 in reply.
I guess it’s another sign of compromise. Even Ferraris now comes in automatic.

Truly Cracked Up

I’m surrounded by Liverpool fans. It must have hurt them to see me season after season smiling. I don’t wish to rub it in but the truth of the matter is, Liverpool has lost the plot.
As a friend pointed out early this season, don’t worry about Liverpool under Rafa – he’s bound to mess things up. And mess things up he did. Frankly, they’ve conspired to turn an interesting season into a boring one.

I wanted a title fight, and while it’s still too early, it seems like Liverpool is just about ready to get KO’d before Man U even broke sweat. My friends (of Liverpool faith), I implore you to hate Rafa Benitez immensely as he is the sole reason you’ve turned from Champions-elect to potentially scraping for Champions League placing.

Some may reminisce about the Champions League he won (fortuitously, IMHO), BUT the truth of the matter is Liverpool has not won the BPL since its inception! And in Rafa Benitez, they have a manager unsuited to the needs of the English game and most importantly, arrogant enough not to accept he is wrong.

He is the only manager I know who hates his strikers from scoring too many goals. He buys defenders like we shop at Giant – buy in bulk, and hope there’s a bargain in there. He re-shuffles his team to defend against, hold your breath, the great Stewart Downing! Finally, he will never ever admit he’s crazy when every Brit reporter has termed him as “manic”.

I am a romantic when it comes to Football. I prefer Liverpool fans to Chelsea fans any time of the day as I believe we are intrinsically linked in the great tradition of English football. That’s why I will always root for Everton and not Manchester City, West Ham and not Portsmouth.

That is why I feel that the biggest challenge to Man United should come from Liverpool. I would love it if Liverpool could give a fight till the end. I want to win, sure, but I want to win it in style, and it’s only in style if we beat a fighting Liverpool.

But as long as Rafa Benitez is in charge of the club, despite his great Cup records, we will continue seeing the likes of Lucas, El Zhar and the atrocious Ryan Babel. And with these names and the other sorry misfits he has acquired (Robbie Keane was smart to move), I don’t think we’ll get that fight.

...

Something about Sergeant Babu…

5

Written on 2/23/2009 12:20:00 pm by sikapitan

One business that is booming despite the recession is private security services. More and more streets around my neighborhood in USJ are turning into private roads manned by private security guards. I am still not convinced on the legality of this.

What if I still insist on passing through? Can the guard stop me? What if I refuse to identify myself? Can they force me? Would I be guilty of a crime if I don’t? Are they guilty of a crime when they force me to do things I have no obligation to do?

Anyway, this evening, there will be a community meeting for my street where I believe they will decide whether to hire mercenaries and guard our street. I am sure the answer would be a resounding yes. We cannot stop the tide. Soon, every community will be gated. Why?

Simple economics dictate that people act rationally to incentives and calculate cost-benefit subconsciously before arriving to decisions every day. In the case of privatized security, residents have increasingly accepted that the benefit of private security far outweigh the cost.

The cost of private security, in whatever form, has gone down dramatically. This is in part due to an increase in demand, leading to increase in recruitment of foreign guards. As the pool of quality guards (ex-police, gurkhas) decrease, more and more untrained guards are recruited from foreign countries, typically Nepal. These untrained guards are currently flooding our economy – cheaper price, lower quality.


Meanwhile, the cost of NOT having private security has increased dramatically. This is due to our population increasing at a rate far greater than the increase in the number of police officers. The “cost” for one resident to have police protection has increased simply because demand has outpaced supply. Less people can “afford” to have police protection; therefore more people are exposed to non-protection, leading to an increase in crime.

Criminals are also calculating the probability that they will get caught. As the police force spreads itself more thinly in the face of growing population, the probability decreases until the “benefit” of committing crime will outweigh the “cost” of getting caught.

Anyway, adept at we are at such calculations, I think we fail to realize the implication of this increase in demand for private security. Firstly, there will be an influx of foreign labor, not a problem in itself, but ironically this also increases the “cost” of police protection as the population increase.

Next, when we rely on private security from foreign workers to provide basic security in our community, we will further detach the police force from its responsibility. It creates a false impression of security, leading to the police not being able to forecast accurately the actual number of police needed to maintain peace and security.

All is well, but in the event of a mass exodus of these foreign workers, either through our own actions, or their own, there will be a sudden and massive breakdown in security. A breakdown that will not be anticipated simply because it was not forecasted.

Finally, there are the hidden social implications of a sudden and unnatural spike in foreign labor in Malaysia. The ratio of male-female will shift. The future composition of our society will also change in the future. More importantly, in the short term, there will be a problem of assimilation and acceptance. Without these, foreign workers will continue to be tied to their place of birth.

We are leaving the fate of our security ultimately in the hands of people who don’t have any affinity to our culture, people and nation. Is that worth the risk? Go figure…

...

Shorts

0

Written on 2/18/2009 12:24:00 am by sikapitan

MCs = Necessary Evil

When you call in sick from work, you’re required to provide proof that you’re actually sick. This comes in the form of the ubiquitous MC. I don’t blame anyone for this, but it got me thinking what this requirement actually mean.

Employers start with the premise that you’re lying, because if it’s the opposite, they have to prove you’re not sick. And the reason why they start with that premise is because they assumed you don’t enjoy work enough to come up with a fake reason not to go to work. And the reason they assumed as such is because they believe you’re not doing something you like. This belief comes from the logic that all the work they have available is so bad that no one would actually want to do it honestly and enthusiastically.

So in conclusion, employers actually believe that they’re giving you a shitty job. Can’t they just solve this by not giving shitty jobs? Go figure.

Machiavellian Politics to the Fore

A lot has been going on in Malaysian politics that Buletin Utama has more drama than Samarinda (if you don’t get the reference, imagine Teri Hatcher in a nurse outfit...it’s got nothing to do with that but at least you have a nice image).

Today another PKR rep has decided to resign. Eli Wong is a prominent activist turned politician now embroiled in a nude photo controversy. After the Perak debacle, Pakatan Rakyat again fall victim to politics that could best be described as Machiavellian in nature. Observers have pinned this down to Najib solidifying his support base before the UMNO election in March.

But I’ve got a sneaky feeling that behind this grand scheme (I might think it’s a bit dirty, but neutral observers could not help but feel a tinge of fascination how this game is being played out) is one true believer of Machiavellian politic in Malaysia – Tun Mahathir.

I was once told that Mahathir could “eat” not only Pak Lah (as he has done) but also Anwar, Khairy or whoever else he feels like having for breakfast. In any case, Anwar’s losing the plot, but isn’t he STILL only the “adviser” to PKR? Why so? Is there another sub-plot emerging? His silence thus far is deafening...

Shameful Breach of Privacy

On that note, I wish to express my utter disgust to the guy who secretly captured Eli Wong’s nude body while she was sleeping. Its one thing to record a consensual partner, but to do it this way is just plain shameful.

Chua Soi Lek is one of the few who managed to
escape a sex video scandal in Malaysia
with their reputation "enhanced"

Speaking of which, why do people consensually allow recording of their sexual activities? The increase in hand phone-made home videos have shown how disturbed young kids are nowadays. Unfortunately, the vast majority of them are Malays = Muslims. Go figure.

...

Something about Peeling Durian

1

Written on 2/13/2009 06:07:00 pm by sikapitan

We were just sitting around when a friend mentioned that his friend just came back from work at 5 am this morning and was up for work at 8.30 am. That’s crazy, but auditors usually are. Anyway, we got around to discussing on success measurement, on a more micro level.

My friend is a bit stressed out from his current job scope, understandably as he has around $20 million revenue target to meet and a whole lot of back-end mess to clean up. He’s staying on a bit too long every day, and he is seldom left alone on weekends.

The problem is that there’s no correlation at this moment with the work he’s doing and the amount he’s getting paid. Logic dictates that the harder you work, the more you should be paid, but management is seldom logical.

So we started calculating our effective wage, which means wage/number of hours working. We don’t care about your output, as no matter how productive you are, it doesn’t matter shit if you’re paid the same.

My friend got more depressed. Let’s say our effective monthly compensation is RM4000, and we work for 20 days. That means it’s RM200 a day. On this, we are both equal. But I spend an average of 6 hours a day at work, while he goes on close to 8 hours a day. So my effective pay is RM33 per hour while his is only RM25 per hour. I haven’t added in the complexity of his task yet…

There is a potential pay-off for all the hard-work, and that is called promotion. Promotion usually corresponds with a pay raise, though more often than not, a one-step promotion seldom result in more than 10% increase in wage. Isn’t that depressing?

But there is still another potential pay-off. The faster you get your promotion, the faster it is you get to another step for promotion. And the cycle goes on and on, until one fine day, because of your hard work, you managed to earn what you should be earning 3 promotions ago. Sad but true.

You want more sad news? Well, promotion depends on rating and assessment by your boss. Most of the time, through no fault of your assessor, you get rated the same as your colleagues. I know some of you would be saying, “You’re not effective” but trust me; sometimes it’s just the nature of the job.

Well, imagine that A and B were hired to cut and serve fruits. A was assigned to serve oranges, while B was assigned to serve durians. Customer demanded 10 oranges and 10 durians. A and B both served the customer’s demand on time and as requested. Both met their boss’ expectation, but we all know that peeling durian is harder than oranges.

And the boss can’t favor B simply because his job is harder and more complex. A can simply turn around and demand the same treatment because he’s doing what is being asked by the boss just as well as B. So the boss compromises by giving both the same ratings, or at most, give B a bit more than A.

Now, imagine that the durian portfolio is a messy one, filled with blunt tools and haphazard organization. My friend is handling the “durian” while I’m the one with “oranges” to take care of. Life’s not fair, and we BOTH know it.

My friend is slowly turning into a Durian

Not only do I have a higher effective wage than him, and much less stress, but we are both on the same path towards promotion. He might get there sooner than me, by a few months, but with less stress and more free time, I will not get old as soon as him either!

Another way to measure wage is to calculate your profit. Another friend of mine, who is earning less than us in Maxis can afford to buy a new car with his own money. How?

Treat yourself as a company. Your total wage is your revenue. Minus all the work-related expenses (transportation, parking, food) and you get what you’d call your useable income. This is the true measurement of your profit, not total revenue. There’s no point earning RM4000 when you spend RM2000 every month for work while another person earns RM3000 but only spends RM800 for work.

Anyway, have sympathy for my intelligent, hard-working and all-around nice-guy friend at Maxis. Luck, as Malcolm Gladwell pointed out in Outliers, plays a more important role than good old-fashioned effort in success.

Go figure.

Something about Perak

1

Written on 2/07/2009 12:21:00 am by sikapitan

My colleagues and I had a deal for the past few weeks not to talk about politics. Frankly, I’ve felt liberated since, as I am invariably asked to represent a certain political party, which gets tiring. The fact that I quite like Justin Timberlake does not mean I think he’s a great actor...if you catch my drift.

Anyway, it’s a bit hard not to say a few words regarding the situation in Perak. I had lunch with a friend of mine, who has become something of an Opposition fanatic. Sometimes, you can get a bit too attached to an ideal that you’ll lose your common sense and logic.

Of course, he was pissed with the cross-over in Perak. A few others were also moaning the fact that BN has taken over the state government. I’ve just got a few comments on this:

One:

My principle, which I have stated before vocally and through my party channels, is that I am against elected representative changing or leaving their party without first stepping down as a rep. I don’t care if it’s called a defection, cross-over or hopping. All I know is that in Malaysia, we vote based on party line first (unfortunately), and it is not fair to the constituents to vote for one government, only to be ruled by another. It is undemocratic.

Two:

People can be so hypocritical that it becomes annoying, even causing me anger. Barisan leaders are hypocrites when they welcome these defectors, because they were SO into passing an “anti-hopping” law previously when there was a threat of mass defection to Pakatan. Pakatan leaders are also hypocrites for now condemning defections, as just 10 days ago they were smiling when a Barisan rep joined them in Perak. Same goes with all supporters.

Three:

Hypocrisy is one thing, but outright blatant disregard for respect is another. The Perak monarchy is noted for having two of the brightest Rulers in Malaysia. Everyone, including the Opposition, was so into Raja Nazrin, with some even claiming openly that HE should be leading this country. And yet, just when things don’t go their way, they turned around and say that these very same people are evil and against democracy. Think!

Four:

I find it funny when my friend claimed that Malaysiakini is not biased. I personally think, as objectively as possible, that Malaysiakini is as biased to the Opposition as the Star is biased to the Government. I won’t even mention Utusan because that’s a gone case. Not openly biased, but as you read you do get a feeling that both sets of editors have their own agenda. I don’t have a problem with that. In fact, I quite like it. But at least I realize and admit it, which many find hard to do.

Five:

My boss summarized the whole episode well. This is like a football game. It has its own set of rules, one which we might not wholly agree with, but we have decided to play it this way. One team lost, due to their own miscalculation or mistake and another team won, whether it’s because of their tactics and skills or they cheated the referee. And just like in football, decisions are made which decides the outcome of the game. If a person dived and got a penalty, it is still a valid goal.

This is not to say that cheating is encouraged or should be supported. It is just that players in the game must be aware of the rules and the loopholes. They should know NOT to stick a foot out when Ronaldo’s in the penalty box. In other words, they must be smart players with the right tactics to deal with opposition who would resort to these measures to win, if any.

In conclusion, here is a team that lost a game that they decided to play wholeheartedly. They tried their own version of cheating, and were then sucker punched when the other team was found to be better at it than them.

It sucks, of course, but being a loser always makes you feel that way, right?

Something about the Economy

2

Written on 2/04/2009 12:21:00 am by sikapitan

A lot has been said about our economy and the problems we are facing. Datuk Nazir Razak today mentioned that throwing out race-based policies would help. I am particularly impressed by Tengku Razaleigh’s recent speech (published in The Edge and Off The Edge) where he clearly and specifically state what needs to be done.

There’s no such thing as a quick fix. I can see where this might be true. Some of the long-standing issues like accountability and transparency require fundamental changes in the system, which will not, I’m afraid, be quick. Most of the solutions given thus far will take 2-3 years of preparation, of political willingness, of public buy-in, before it could even be implemented.

But we NEED a quick fix, a band-aid solution that will stop the bleeding, and a bandage to hold up the ever-widening wound, before something gets infected so bad that we have to amputate it. Phew...that’s another way to describe our economic crisis.

That’s where the stimulus package comes in. 7 billion before, and another 10 billion declared today. Before people say that it’s not enough (and a lot of experts are), we have to remember the issues we have with execution. I was reliably informed that some of the mega corridor projects still has HUNDREDS of MILLION of allocated money not yet spent, so giving them more is not the answer.

A lot has been said about using the stimulus package for high-impact projects and hopefully, the market will efficiently distribute the wealth to as many people as possible. Somehow, though I’m a believer in the free market, I think it does have its weaknesses.

Think about it - companies and basically individuals in a free market want to earn profit. So the bigger the project is, the more likely it is to be awarded to a few companies only. These companies, in turn, are supposed to distribute the project to sub-contractors. However, they would have made their profit cut in the first instance, thus reducing the amount to be distributed when sub-contracting.

The bigger the project, the bigger the company, thus the more profit they need to reap in. Thus, although in theory giving a RM 1 billion project to a company seems like a great way to stimulate the economy, in reality, the wealth would only be distributed to a few companies and ultimately, a few individuals.

Not only that, the execution period of bigger projects is much longer, and what happens is that these companies would continue to receive money years after the economy has recovered. Is that fair and equal distribution of wealth?

I prefer using a substantial amount of whatever stimulus package we have to provide opportunity to as many people as possible. It might mean that no one earns profit in the millions, but it would definitely ensure a lot more people would survive and earn good income which hopefully they would spend on a lot of little things.

For example, giving a mega project would allow someone, who is already more than wealthy, to purchase another BMW or Merc. Identifying smaller, lower-cost, projects to be distributed over a larger base, would allow 10 people to buy Protons or even Peroduas.

Another quick-fix that I think would help is easy credit. It is an extension to my belief that economic stimulus must be distributed directly to as many people as possible. And we can start with just utilising RM1 billion of the stimulus package.

1 billion might not be a lot. I might be wrong, but if we were to given 25 million Malaysians a share of the pie, each would only get RM40. Clearly not enough to stimulate the economy. But if we talk about a RM100, 000 low-interest quick loans for small businesses like restaurants and services, then it will directly benefit 10,000 businesses. Split it further to RM 50,000 (enough perhaps for 10 months rental at RM 5000 a month), then you’d help 20,000 businesses.

Execution is a bane; therefore, leave it out of the hands of the government. Distribute it through conventional banks, and ensure it is distributed within a certain time frame. The banks will be in charge of vetting the requests, and doing their normal due diligence test, assign the necessary amount to the necessary people.

People say that it is difficult to ensure that these businesses will use the money for business sake or will they waste and spend it. In my mind, using the money to spend, although it is not ideal, is not the worst case scenario. Spending is ultimately what we want to achieve, either through the mega projects or my proposed “wide, direct distribution” model. So if these people waste the loans by buying a new bike or whatever, it still creates demand, thus driving up the whole economic cycle.

I mean, I could discuss this further, but I’m just a bit tired of writing. Hahaha...plus, Jimmy Kimmel is on. I’ll explore this issue further, if I feel like it. Go figure.

Shorts

2

Written on 1/29/2009 11:29:00 am by sikapitan

We don’t need this…

It’s never a nice thing to hear about police brutality. It’s never a good time to know someone died in police custody. But the whole Kugan incident couldn’t come at a worse time for the government already battling cross-over members and getting whooped in by-elections. It couldn’t have come at a worse time for those fighting for his cause too, as a lot of people are just too worried sick about the economy to rally on his behalf. There’s never a good time for this sort of thing, but there’s always the worst time…

So maybe Mahathir is right after all…

You know, I was never one to truly believe in this World Order conspiracy theory whereby the whole world is under the masterful control of a select few – usually it’s the Jews who bear the brunt of this theory. But when I think about it, the Gaza offensive couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Palestinians and at a better time for the Israelis. The whole world is busy handling the mess created by the Jewish-dominated banking industry to be able to effectively render assistance to the Palestinians. It’s hard to help others when you’re saddled with unemployment and deficit budgets. If I were a strategist, it seems like a perfect plan, doesn’t it? The Quran didn’t declare the Jews to be the smartest people in the world, ever, for nothing.

Rafa’s cracking up…

On a lighter note, we’re on top of the league, and that’s a fact (in tribute to Rafa’s “Keegan-like” meltdown). Another 1-1 draw, against Wigan, has condemned Liverpool to 3rd place, with United still having a game in hand. Rafa’s probably distracted with the boardroom battles, and his own ambition to go back to Spain to head Real Madrid.

He’s probably pissed off that Juande “Hotspur” Ramos got the nod as interim coach, and definitely seething to see President-nominee Perez promising to bring in Arsene Wenger, of all people, if he wins. He’s probably thinking, “Haven’t I done enough?” But to truly understand why people are wary of Rafa, just see this convoluted piece of logic:

When he’s on top of the league, unbeaten, he says that Liverpool cannot win the league. When he’s second in the league, and United on a fine run, he says that Liverpool can win it.

Flash your boobs, Gerrard!

You just have to love football...

...

Some interesting, random, short observations:

6

Written on 1/20/2009 05:13:00 pm by sikapitan

Curious racial profiling

Why is there no Chinese working at toll booths as toll collectors? I’ve been told by my friend that he has seen an Indian doing this, but till today that cannot be verified with supporting evidence. Just drive through our highways and tell me if you find any.

Weird coincidence

Sime Darby’s recent aborted move to privatize IJN (after much public outcry, even though Pak Lah kind of gave his blessing) was linked to Khairy’s cronies’ last attempt to milk the cow before Pak Lah leaves.

Now, Sime Darby wants to undertake a massive private initiative to build a new airport for Air Asia Berhad. Now, Air Asia Berhad is partially owned by the Tune group of companies, famously led by Tony Fernandes. His close associates include Datuk Kalimullah, the former NSTP man most famously linked to Khairy in the whole ECM-Libra deal, and Jason Lo, the former rock star turned CEO who is a close friend of Khairy through their MyTeam for TV3 project.

And where is this KLIA-East project going to be located? Labu, Negeri Sembilan. Khairy is probably the most famous MP from Negeri Sembilan.

Long live the conspiracy theorists! At the end of the day, the people get screwed as all these GLCs (yes, even Air Asia, in a way) compete on politics.

...

Something about Pareto

0

Written on 1/14/2009 10:59:00 pm by sikapitan


I’m reading this book called the 4-Hour Work Week. In it, the author espouses a lean yet fulfilling lifestyle where wasted time on menial work is reduced. His mantra is “minimum effort for maximum result”.

His measurement of success is based on profit per effort. You could be earning RM 8,000 a month, and I’m earning RM 4,000, BUT if I only work an hour a day instead of your typical 9 hours a day, my profit per hour is more than yours many times over.

It’s a continuation of the Pareto Law (or better known as the 80/20 rule). This is usually associated with wealth where it has been observed that 80% of wealth goes to 20% of the population or a higher ratio than that. This can be applied to other aspects of life.

80% of your work output comes from 20% of your input. The other 80% of input you’re doing only contributes 20% of your total output. So the book practically explains how you can minimize all the unnecessary work consuming 80% of your time and focus on the 20% that actually leads to the majority of your profit/wage/output.

I won’t get into the whole wealth generation idea that he proposes. It’s mind-blowingly simple, but I’m just going to talk about handling e-mails, because I managed to try it for a few days (only, as we’re still a pretty top-heavy, hours-dependent organization).

In today’s age, everyone works through e-mail, especially in an organization like Maxis. However, this may lead to e-mail overload with unnecessary messages all coming in trying to gain our attention.

The solution? Never check your e-mails in the morning, because you’ll never get to the end of it. As soon as you reply in the morning, the response, even though it’s not important, will come soon after. So it’ll be a never-ending loop of e-mails over an issue that isn’t event .

Set your auto-responder to the following message: I am away and will only be answering e-mails from 12 – 1 PM and 5 – 6 PM. If it’s important and requires urgent response, please contact my mobile at *******.

I tried it for two days while I was away for site-surveys. Although it’s not really what the author meant (he probably wanted me to try it while I’m actually IN THE OFFICE), I realized that a lot of things get filtered through.

People don’t rush for a response, and nothing gets broken along the way. Sometimes a lot of people get all messed up over little things. I’m experiencing a lot of these unnecessary worry because of the top-down nature of the organization. “I want this done by yada yada yada” when the effect of the done deal is not going to manifest itself anytime this year or the next.
Why must everything be so tied to deadlines?

In truth, a lot of people are afraid to admit that their power is derived from their ability to turn every unimportant task into something so profoundly important that its non-completion would cause the whole world to collapse. It does not. The world keeps on revolving, and we have to decide whether we want to be a part of it and live our dreams, or worry about meeting that deadline.

...

Something about United winning 3-0

1

Written on 1/12/2009 04:39:00 pm by sikapitan

It has been a long while since I managed to catch a football game with my friends. This season has been a lonely one in terms of viewing a game as everyone’s getting caught up with work and other commitments.

I was determined to watch yesterday’s game between United (Manchester, of course... “There’s only one United!”). There’s nothing like the pleasure of watching a good game of football with a crowd of passionate football fans.

Especially if United wins. Me and my mate have been trying to avoid this supposed curse of United losing every time we watch a game this season. We only looked on in horror as the team sheet showed 35-year old Ryan Giggs against the likes of Ballack, Lampard, and Obi Mikel.

But what is it about United and unheralded players becoming heroes in important fixtures? I remember Alan Smith playing a blinder in central midfield against Chelsea or Darren Fletcher (who also started yesterday’s game, naturally, considering the luck he has against Chelsea) who has popped up with a couple of masterful displays against higher rated opponents.

The legend with the thinning hair proved he's still got it...

Last night, it was all about the forgotten 35-year old. Yes, Berbatov played a big part in the game, but both he and Ronaldo were on form only after United took the lead. Giggsy showed that, despite his slowing pace and dodgy touch, he could still be counted on for his passion and commitment to the cause.

I am a harsh critic of Giggs, but I must stand up and applaud his control of the game from the centre of midfield. His calm presence was the perfect foil for the ever energetic and combative Darren Fletcher. Last night, Ferguson’s tinkering with the team worked like a charm.

It probably helped that Chelsea were, to be kind here, below their best. To be quite honest, they were horrible. Too narrow in midfield, and with oversized egos not on the same wavelength, they offered an easy challenge for United’s defence.

Rooney through Ashley's back...now if that doesn't make Arsenal fans laugh...

Despite the threat of their midfield overrunning United’s relatively weak centre, it never really materialized as Van Der Sar was a mere passenger.

On a bad note, I don’t think Cristiano Ronaldo is as effective this season trying to be an out-and-out winger with Ferguson preferring a traditional 4-4-2 since Berbatov arrived. With his freedom curtailed, he cuts a despondent figure on the wing. With the arrival of two young Serbians, one an out and out winger, is this the beginning of the end for one of United’s most explosive forward ever?

...

Something about Sharing

0

Written on 1/10/2009 12:51:00 am by sikapitan

People like to share. It creates a bond, apparently. Unfortunately, wives don’t really want to share their husbands.

Another thing that we value as personal more than sharing is our workspace. In the right company, a shared workspace can be a magnet for you to come to work. However, what is the probability of you getting a workmate that would match your personality? I suspect 1 out of 100.

It doesn’t help that workspace now has been reduced so as to increase the number of people companies can fit per floor. In the interest of increasing profit per square, they’ve tried to reduce whatever trace of individuality and privacy one can have in the office.

In exchange they promote “wide, open spaces” that has “no barriers between you and your colleagues” so that you can “improve relationship” and “increase productivity”. Yeah, it’s pure management bullshit.

I work on an open-concept floor where there’s no partition. Each island has about 4 individual seats and the islands are separated to each other by an arm’s length. It’s not really a bad environment to work with; other than the lack of privacy I pretty much find the arrangement quite comfortable...

This, hypothetically, could be spoiled by the existence of an obnoxious colleague. I can only imagine the horror of working in such an open space beside a colleague that talk loudly on the phone. I can only imagine cringing every time I hear another “hey, lookS...”. I can only imagine trying to filter out the annoying way that colleague is faking politeness in trying to close a deal. I can only imagine putting on a headphone as a colleague shouts about “you have to buy me lunch...” over the phone the 500th time of the day. I can only imagine shooting a colleague who wants to be my boss just to cover his/her own insecurities.

Don't lose your mind...

Alas, I can only imagine because I work in such a perfect, pristine office environment where everyone is intelligent, respectful, and most importantly, genuine. Go figure.

...

People always say that talking, or writing, is good for therapy. Just the act of sharing their thoughts will fulfil human kind inner desire to connect with people. But is that really true? Do we want to share just for the sake of sharing, or do we actually look for understanding?

I mean, I’ve been accused of clamming up on what I actually think/feel. In my defence, I don’t see why I should bother with working myself up to tell something, to get the emotion aspect of it right, to share what I think is important, only to be disappointed when no one understands my point.

Do you get the entry above? If you don’t, or your feed-back doesn’t respond to my expectations, would I not be disappointed? Why SHOULDN’T I be disappointed? So why put yourself up for disappointment, just for the sake of sharing...
...

Something about Sushi King and McDonald’s

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Written on 1/07/2009 10:38:00 pm by sikapitan

I had dinner at Sushi King, Subang Parade with my wife and in-laws. She loves sushi, but I must warn her to avoid the really raw ones.

We frequent the outlet quite often previously. But tonight I found that the service level has dropped significantly. They couldn’t get the orders right, it was hard to get their attention, and they even served something that was wrongly described in the menu.

There was a point when I felt it was like at the mamaks, when I had to wave my arms frantically trying to get their attention while they were busy chit-chatting. The fact that there was only 6 other customers made it worse.

Since we’re on the topic of lousy customer service from food outlets, has anyone noticed how bad McDonald’s service level is nowadays?

I usually go to the outlet in Taipan. Despite the horrible traffic situation, I had fond memories of that restaurant. I used to go there for snacks after my guitar lessons at the now-defunct Yamaha. It was a vibrant, fun environment, and fast food really meant fast food.

But nowadays, the queue to order is so bad that I just couldn’t be bothered. Only ONE counter would be opened, and this is despite there being a significant queue. The rest of the crew would be busy making jokes and chit-chatting with the Home-Delivery riders.

In fact, the whole environment has deteriorated with the increase in the number of these riders. They would congregate outside, talking loudly, and then when they come to pick up orders, they would usually create a big scene that is so unprofessional and unruly.

I think McDonald’s has lost focus of the “ambience” of their outlets when they concentrate on the Home Delivery business model. Even then, it is not perfect.

Last Saturday, we wanted to order-in as it was raining. Gave the damn McD’s number a call, waited for a few minutes, then was told nonchalantly that they would NOT be delivering because it’s raining. Go figure.

All day, all night as long as the weather's perfect, there's no traffic jam
and I'm well enough to eat outside...which defeats the purpose of home delivery, duh


I called Domino’s and two hot regular thin crust pizzas reached my place in 30 minutes. Now, they’ve got my vote.

2009’s resolution: Reduce unnecessary anger by venting frustration out as soon as possible...

Something about Watching TV

2

Written on 1/06/2009 10:27:00 pm by sikapitan

I’m watching Grey’s Anatomy right now with my wife. She doesn’t like the fact that I comment a lot when I watch TV. But I only comment when it doesn’t make sense.

For example, we tuned in to Keeping Up With Kardashians over at E! and it just doesn’t make sense. Reality TV, in this format, never made any sense to me. This guy was walking along the hotel’s corridor when he suddenly proposed to Kim’s sister (the less ugly, but not the ugliest).

No, it wasn't him or her but I thought this would be a better photo, don't you?

It would have been kind of romantic if it weren’t for the fact that there’s a whole TV crew RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM! How anyone could be natural in that environment is beyond me.

Reality TV in its purest form is when one party or both is unaware of the existence, or the location of the camera(s). So I don’t consider Kardiashians, Run’s House (which is the most unreal reality TV I’ve seen) or whatever it is with Paris Hilton in it as reality TV.

Now, those players hitting the club in Keys to the VIP, they’re true reality TV guys. I love that freaking show...raise your glass!

2009 Resolution : One of my resolutions is to write shorter entries on a more regular basis in my blog.