Friday, 19 July 2013

Training in Lahad Datu, Sabah (July 13-14 2013)

As a trainer for the last 18 years, I have travelled extensively throughout the country conducting training programs either for companies or organised public workshops.  The only one state that I have not been to was Sabah.  So when a request finally came through for me to travel to the state to conduct a session, I was delighted as I thought it would be nice to visit Kota Kinabalu again after all these years.  The last time I was in Sabah was way back in 1972 when I was sent by my company to do a research on touristic spots in East Malaysia as part of our promotional exercise to our clients in Europe and the States. However, for this time, I was asked to conduct my training program in Lahad Datu.    Understandably I was a little concern about my safety especially after the recent incursion on the place by those Suluk militants from Philippines.

Anyway, I took it in my stride and proceeded with my travelling plans.  Upon arrival I found out that the incursion actually took place a 100 kms from where the town is.  English is not widely spoken as everyone speaks BM (but sounded more like Bahasa Indonesia to me).  Most of the retailers are Indian Muslims and Pakistanis involved in textile trade and money changing.

The Lahad Datu airport terminal reminds me of a single storey bungalow house and is about a 3-minute drive to town.  The taxi fare from the airport to the town is RM10.

Herebelow, is a video and some photos on Lahad Datu.

From my hotel room window

The sales staff of Sabarice (read Sabah Rice) Sdn Bhd

With Ms Martina Ganis, Asst Manager - HR & Admin, Sabarice Sdn Bhd

Thursday, 18 July 2013

The one thing successful people never do

Success comes in all shapes and colours. You can be successful in your job and career but you can equally be successful in your marriage, at sports or a hobby. Whatever success you are after there is one thing all radically successful people have in common: Their ferocious drive and hunger for success makes them never give up.

Successful people (or the people talking or writing about them) often paint a picture of the perfect ascent to success. In fact, some of the most successful people in business, entertainment and sport have failed. Many have failed numerous times but they have never given up. Successful people are able to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and carry on trying.

I have collected some examples that should be an inspiration to anyone who aspires to be successful. They show that if you want to succeed you should expect failure along the way. I actually believe that failure can spur you on and make you try even harder. You could argue that every experience of failure increases the hunger for success. The truly successful won't be beaten, they take responsibility for failure, learn from it and start all over from a stronger position.

Let's look at some exemplary influencers:

Henry Ford - the pioneer of modern business entrepreneurs and the founder of the Ford Motor Company failed a number of times on his route to success. His first venture to build a motor car got dissolved a year and a half after it was started because the stockholders lost confidence in Henry Ford. Ford was able to gather enough capital to start again but a year later pressure from the financiers forced him out of the company again. Despite the fact that the entire motor industry had lost faith in him he managed to find another investor to start the Ford Motor Company - and the rest is history.

Walt Disney - one of the greatest business leaders who created the global Disney empire of film studios, theme parks and consumer products didn't start off successful. Before the great success came a number of failures. Believe it or not, Walt was fired from an early job at the Kansas City Star Newspaper because he was not creative enough! In 1922 he started his first company called Laugh-O-Gram. The Kansas based business would produce cartoons and short advertising films. In 1923, the business went bankrupt. Walt didn't give up, he packed up, went to Hollywood and started The Walt Disney Company.

Richard Branson - He is undoubtedly a successful entrepreneur with many successful ventures to his name including Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Music and Virgin Active. However, when he was 16 he dropped out of school to start a student magazine that didn't do as well as he hoped. He then set up a mail-order record business which did so well that he opened his own record shop called Virgin. Along the way to success came many other failed ventures including Virgin Cola, Virgin Vodka, Virgin Clothes, Virgin Vie, Virgin cards, etc.

Oprah Winfrey - who ranks No 1 in the Forbes celebrity list and is recognised as the queen of entertainment based on an amazing career as iconic talk show host, media proprietor, actress and producer. In her earlier career she had numerous set-backs, which included getting fired from her job as a reporter because she was 'unfit for television', getting fired as co-anchor for the 6 O'clock weekday news on WJZ-TV and being demoted to morning TV.

J.K. Rowling - who wrote the Harry Potter books selling over 400 million copies and making it one of the most successful and lucrative book and film series ever. However, like so many writers she received endless rejections from publishers. Many rejected her manuscript outright for reasons like 'it was far too long for a children's book' or because 'children books never make any money'. J.K. Rowling's story is even more inspiring because when she started she was a divorced single mum on welfare.

Bill Gates -co-founder and chairman of Microsoft dropped out of Harvard and set up a business called Traf-O-Data. The partnership between him, Paul Allen and Paul Gilbert was based on a good idea (to read data from roadway traffic counters and create automated reports on traffic flows) but a flawed business model that left the company with few customers. The company ran up losses between 1974 and 1980 before it was closed. However, Bill Gates and Paul Allen took what they learned and avoided those mistakes whey they created the Microsoft empire.

History is littered with many more similar examples:
  • Milton Hershey failed in his first two attempts to set up a confectionary business.
  • H.J. Heinz set up a company that produced horseradish, which went bankrupt shortly after.
  • Steve Jobs got fired from Apple, the company he founded. Only to return a few years later to turn it into one of the most successful companies ever.
So, the one thing successful people never do is: Give up! I hope that this is inspiration and motivation for everyone who aspires to be successful in whatever way they chose. Do you agree or disagree with me? Are there other things you would add to the list of things successful people never do? Please share your thoughts...

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Malaysia's education system not in sync with workforce development

It was recently brought to my attention that students in Malaysia's IPTS are will be required to undertake Islamic and Asian Civilisation Studies. In my professional opinion, it is a policy that does not reap many benefits (if any) for the future development of the country.

Malaysia's education system has been plagued with problems that have damaged the workforce development. Problems include:

1. High unemployment among fresh graduates - many employers are becoming unsatisfied with the quality of graduates. Many were found to lack communication, management and professional skills.

2. Lack in productivity - evidenced from the very low income that graduates are earning. Many graduates are employed to perform menial and unskilled jobs. Output per worker is small resulting in employers willing to pay less.

3. Workforce mismatch - The skills mismatch between employers and worker is one of many reasons leading to high graduate unemployment. Malaysia has produced many 'skilled' workers in IT, science, and professional graduates that were aimed to increase R&D and raise productivity in our key leading sectors (i.e. services, high-tech export manufacturing). However, the absence of quality leading institutions to absorb and lead such initiatives has resulted in high unemployment.

4. Irrelevant education provision - One important lesson any workforce policy makers need to understand is that the aim of an IPTS is to increase student enrolments and business profits. It is not in their business plan to develop the right workforce/graduates that will magically chart a strategic development policy for the country. Hence, workforce facilitation / intervention is extremely important. Singapore workforce development model is an example of a strategic plan to deliver the right workforce education to in line with the country's development plan.

5. Skewed selection of students - One of the key to increase productivity is to let student work on their natural strengths. Not all the brightest students in the country are given opportunities to study course of their choice. Many bright students lack the financial means to undertake courses of their choice, although they are most likely to succeed and advance further in their fields. However, the non-meritocratic way of awarding scholarships and university entrants have led to the second- or third-best in line undertaking enrolments in prime subjects. Problem is the country will experience a brain-drain, as seen through the many skilled and talented Malaysians living abroad. And the development of the country is left to the second- or third-best. 

My point is there are so many workforce issues to consider in the country. Making an argument to standardise education by introducing Titas should be among the least of the priority.

Friday, 5 July 2013

The 5 Secrets of Networking

As sales persons, we need to network extensively to expand our contact base, but many seem to be doing it the wrong way. I still remember many years back when I was in the banking industry, a colleague of mine one day invited me to join him for a gathering of bankers at the Bankers Club that evening. It was a kind of a cocktail reception and a banker-get to know-banker session. Now I ask myself, the people who would be there would be my competitors in the industry. So why would I partake in such a gathering? What business would I get from them, anyway? Shouldn't I be attending a gathering where my business prospects would be, say, at some trade associations dinner, cocktail or talk? Networking is important but one must be clear of the objective why you were there in the first