Monday, January 11, 2016

What would 'Perfect Education' look like?

I am convinced that in order for human to advance, we must always consider 'balance' in our everyday life.  It sounds like some Buddhist Zen philosophy but reality is that is how nature has always taken its course.  Which to me, education should not be a field that is an exception to this law.  If at all, it should be the most important one to embrace this because as we all know, education is the fabric of any modern development.

To me, 'Perfect Education' should look like this, where X marks the perfect equilibrium of technical skill (what is) and thinking skill (what if):

Too often than not, traditional education tends to focus on the 'what is' - the technical aspect of any field of study.  While this is important as logic tells us; before you meddle with science, you better know your compounds - it teaches the individual of what had happened, what had been discovered and how the world is currently working - but not necessary what can happen, what is yet to be discovered and how the world should or could work.  But if we apply 'what ifs' thinking into the equation, learning becomes something else.  It spurs us to question what had happened and how we can change that.  This is the thinking skill, we so desperately need.  Do bear in mind however, a school that teaches only 'thinking skills' - usually dubbed as 'creative', seems to produce students best in fields which don't require a lot of technical knowledge.  It's missing a lot if you ask me because no society is built without technical capabilities.

Although I'm not a big fan of moral police, but if I absolutely have to add another dimension to this so-called 'Perfect Education', it would be 'ethical skills'.  This is an area of contend, even for me, because personally I believe that there is good in human if only they are taught to 'think'.  The greater the ability to think, the greater the ability to connect ideas - good or bad.  Unless, the person is pure evil, there is no way an individual will choose to continue building on a series of bad ideas!

What kind of education is this framework applied?  Any.  In nurseries, in schools, in colleges, in professional courses, in corporate training and in life.  That's how lifehack came about anyway right?  What you do previously and how you can hack it to make it better.  Same principle.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

We are hiring: Driven 'automotive' marketing specialists.

It's going to be tough.  Automotive is a multi-billion industry in Malaysia.  Our GDP relies on this.  One screw up isn't one car sale down.  It sends a repercussion to hundreds or maybe even thousands of jobs being cut.  It's serious business because it involves 8.3 million lives (excluding motorcyclists and pedestrians).  So if you think we are anal about how this business is run and communicated, you are absolutely right. It only looks repetitive if you don't know how to hack it.  The game?  Is to keep repositioning your competitors with what you do.  One step if you're good.  Ten if you're great.

You'll be wanted for accountability - of everything that comes out from your kitchen.  Your pole position is meeting targets, the title on your card is secondary - let us make that clear.  You drive the brand and it drives you.  You are partners, like in any race - man and machine is one.  And let us repeat one more time, in case you missed the first line.  It's going to be tough.  On top of a challenging industry, is another.  We believe in innovating how brands are built by way of integration and collaboration.  We put scientific measures behind our intuitions and have extremely stringent expectations on our fellow brand builders whether from a creative, media or comms specialist aspect.  And most of all, we take pride in providing world-class service to our clients.  They win, we win.  If you can't agree to that equation, you may exit right now.

So if you have what it takes - the desire to not just race but win in the automotive business and you can demonstrate to us why you can do that, we want to meet you.  We're looking for automotive specialists, no longer an account management person or a strategic planning person or a whatever person who can do many things.  We don't care where you come from as long as you can deliver what's to come in the future.  You can be Jack of however many trades you like, there's only ONE thing that we care for you to master - the car business.

In terms of personality requirements, you will need resilience and energy to excel.  A strong character with an inclusive leadership to take the reign is not absolute but from our experience, is a trait will take you very far.

So if you know anything about races, you'd also know second place is the first loser.  Reach out to us now.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Milking the future.

My latest research expedition brought me to far flung, long forgotten places that are resting in the dusty recesses of the economy - dairy farming.

Nutshell, we are only 12% self-sufficient when it comes to milk production.  What does that mean?  It means, if we were 100% self-sufficient, milk prices will come down and more people can drink more milk because it's more affordable.

It's quite scary to know that Malaysia lacks a strategy when it comes to food security.  We are too reliant on food imports which is why we're all hurting over our grocery bills today when the Ringgit plummeted.  Sometimes I wonder.  I really really wonder.  I wonder what else can the ministry do.  This is not a bashing post, and I don't doubt some people are really good at what they do.  But the question is what's next?  What's our best game plan in feeding 30 million mouths and counting? While Najib has moved on to the 11th Malaysia Plan, a quick search on the internet seems to me that the Ministry of Agriculture and Department of Veterinary Services are still stuck in the 9th!

Looks like all the attention is focused on building a knowledge-based economy that we have left our fundamental needs behind.  Many are quick to jump into an obvious conclusion - use agriculture to lift up the bottom 40 economy.  This is where we make a grave mistake of assuming poor people are meant to be farmers and urban folks are not.  That's a very strong social prejudice in this day and age, mind you.  In my books, it's equivalent to asking women to stay home.  Agricultural and farming technologies have evolved past mere livelihood to increase efficiency for better yield for better revenues for bigger markets for new economies.  You need someone who is savvy and trained and to a very large extent, passionate about about the job.  And no young urbanite today, likes a dirty job.

So perhaps, it would be wise for the government to consider attracting knowledge-based young entrepreneurs back into the agriculture sector to catapult it to its much needed and deserved growth.  Instead of just flogging dead horses, shoving expired KPIs into the shed and trying to attract those who have no will power to succeed nor excel to be part of their program.  It will bode well when we start with education, to inspire young minds to find success in farming. That this field deserves as much pride as your Silicon Valley-ish start-ups.  We need to look and scrutinize short, mid and long-term plans instead and it seems that there're A LOT to catch up.  Such bright future for us, if only the people at high places are more accounted for.

Got a related project or an idea?  Call me and let's discuss over a mug of milk.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Nine gloomy nine.

Today is Nine Nine.  September Nine.  And boy so much things have happened since October 20th.  This was almost going to be an anniversary post of my last piece.

These days have been gloomy.  Not just physically because of the dark haze blanketing the entire nation region but also of the world and of our country.

My heart goes out to those who are running away from their beloved homes and pleading for help in neighbouring countries.  They didn't have to suffer because it was never their choice for such ill-fated situation in Syria.  Some European and South American countries opened their doors to welcome the worse migrant exodus since WWII really gave me some hope.  Whilst the hardening of hearts of Syria's rich neighbours say so much about their priority.  More and more I realised that civilization isn't about technology development nor economic wealth.  A civilized society is one that learns from its past and put steps into place to ensure it's civilians are and will be much better off than where they were yesterday.  Germany is probably the first nation that stood up and declared assistance and I can't think of a more apt country that one that has been ridden with a supremely bad past.  Nations are not deadwood, they're like brands and if they're like brands, they're like people.  They can have a soul and they can learn to respond to and with humanity.  That's civilization.

Coming back closer to home, whatever happened in Shah Alam stadium is a sports disaster that we wished had never happened.  Yes, what exactly happened?  Fans got unruly?  Fans couldn't contain their frustration?  Frustration to who?  Surely not to our Arab opponents for scoring?  Buried and building frustration towards the management of football in our country perhaps?  When will Malaysia learn the civilized way of showing displease?  Or care enough to stand up for the change or difference when the right time posed itself?  When?  Instead of internalizing everything and lashing it out on our sports friends.  Is education the root of this problem?  Is it work ethics?  Family values?  What is it?  I know what it isn't.  It isn't about football.  It's a hell lot of deeper underlying currents that have somehow weaved itself together and brought about such ill harvest.  So I tweeted to Khairy and asked that he does not give up.  I asked that he will continue to use sports to unite the nation.  And I would have loved to ask him to open his doors to people who are able, disregarding race, gender and religion.  Those who are objective and strategic.  Nation building, ministry building, company building, brand building - the fundamentals are the same.  Rubbish in, rubbish out.  Will he reply?  I don't know.  I guess it doesn't matter because frankly, who am I?  Am no Tan Sri nor Datuk.  Just a little spark.

So there you go.  Darkness looms as we desperately scramble for some hope.  I hope the clouds, haze and smog go away soon and return us some deep blue skies.  Sigh.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Dumpster Divers: Yay or Nay?

Dumpster Divers are people who rummage through garbage to find wasted food that might not be perfect, but is comfortably safe to be consumed.  You could say it's a culture, a way of life for some, and few for art sake - the perfect way to demonstrate how much wastage is going through in urban areas.

Watch this:

This video was shared by a fellow Human-Design coursemate as we were discussing about the issue of food wastage.  While I think there is merit to the idea of scourging dumpsters to look for perfectly safe and edible foods (not to mention incurring absolutely zero cost for 3 meals a day!), but I'm not really convinced on the concept of 'freeganism'.  Hmm.

I remember my dad once told me that it's okay to study religion.  Or be religious.  The danger is being TOO religious.  Why?  Yah, one of the reasons could be obvious - we don't want no ISIS beheading no people.  But really, if you think about it... what kind of economic value would this individual be putting in the society?  Sure, Freeganism is sustainable for them. But, what about the rest of the society?  How is Freeganism sustainable for everyone?

That's an interesting albeit very touchy subject.  And for fear I attract haters/stalkers, I shall not delve further.  Except to leave you with this very thought.  As an individual that functions as a whole in the society, is it or is it not important for you to be able to add value to the system?  Freeganism sounds like takers.  But if it's done right, it could very well be like a much needed organic support system for many living on the streets.  Just like how an acquaintance rightly put - if only hipsters act like REAL hipsters.

I don't know, what do you think?

Monday, October 13, 2014

IKEA is sexist.

Yup. The everybody-loves-cheap-and-good furniture and home decor giant from Sweden who also holds a gigantic prejudice against the fairer and frail-ier gender.  Women.  Muscle-less women.  Women who don't do crossfit and can't lift a 10kg flat pack on her own.

Have you ever thought why is it SO jam-packed in IKEA?  Two weeks ago, I sent a private message to the IKEA team on Facebook (I'm being ignored already due to my persistent questioning of gender equality, but oh well, what's not to be expected).  To be honest, my inquiry was gently masqueraded as a genuine honest query on why IKEA with every resource prepared, does not have e-commerce?

Here's IKEA's answer: Thanks for being a major fan! We would love to cater to to requests from our fans for online shopping, however we don't have the resources for this service just yet! We do appreciate fans who brave the jam to come visit us - isn't shopping in store (being able to see, touch and possibly, sniff) our items better than shopping online?

Well, IKEA, here's my answer to your question: NO.

I'm your major fan, but I can see that you're not mine.  In this age of personalization, easy access and #lifehacks (sorry, it didn't seem complete without the hashtag), does anyone think they can escape from providing products and services that don't consider consumer needs first?

Isn't it peculiar?  Women who are the growing economic power and a strong draft in social change, can't perform a simple task such as buying a big wardrobe from IKEA on her own, simply because we couldn't.  Fullstop.  Our arms and legs just won't let us carry an 8-ft, god-knows-how-many-kgs flat pack on our own.  I'm PRETTY sure some guys have problems too.  Which is why, if you take a drive to IKEA at anytime, you'll pretty much see the Woman scouring for stuff, while the Man stands at the side with his giant trolley and tries not to be too much in everyone's way and only acts when he's bidded by Her Royal Highness.

Now let's pause here.

Dear IKEA.  If you are reading this, wouldn't it be MUCH simpler if you did away with greed (we will buy your stuff even if we're not there seeing, touching and possibly sniffing them. Yes, WITH impulse, and YES to even your smallest stuff!) and just build an e-commerce platform?  You'll be everybody's major fan. Instantly, I promise.  I'll even throw in payment for your service.  Ok?

Online shopping is a woman's game. Okay, we have stats to prove what they do when they're online.  But seriously, forget about indulgence but really consider the very practicality of a woman's lifestyle.  If she's born frail, do you expect her to carry a 1kg bottle of cooking oil, 1 pack of toilet roll, 3kg worth of rice and tonnes of other fresh foods and cleaning detergent, etc, all entirely on her own?

Okay, so maybe she should learn to build up a little bit, I mean who asked her to be stay frail right?  Okay, let's try something else then.  What if that woman was your 60 year old mother?  Who by the way need to fend off unscrupulous snatch thieves and what not while carrying all I've mentioned above.  And you tell me there's NO market for e-commerce?  YOU are not ready?

Tsk tsk.  Really? 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The world is changing and so is beauty.

Gone is the last century of beauty of porcelain smooth baby's-bottom skin, or has it?  Look at today's beauty ads - same same but different: good looking lady, very feminine, with all the right curves and almost spotless.  We kept touting that beauty has change or at least, Dove has been trying really hard to convince the society at large (or reflect?) that beauty is all in the mind.  It has nothing to do with products.  You use products because you only care about how others perceive you.  But really, beauty is about confidence and if you think you've got it, you've got it.

Is that what the world has come to?  If so, then why are we still seeing 99% of beauty commercials talking about the same old thing?

Why do women want to be beautiful?  Because they want to be accepted.  They feel that beauty is a passport for them to gain access to meaningful interpersonal relationships.  To not miss out or be left out in the society, they must at the very least groom themselves because it's the 'social norm'.  So, nobody's born ugly.  Everyone's born beautiful to the beholder, the question is what does society accept and reject?  That caused women all over the world to scramble to look 'right'.

Let's talk about hair.  Does being hairy make a woman feel unattractive?  But if we follow the argument above, isn't her 'unattractiveness' a result of a miss in social expectations?  So WHO decides these expectations?  Men?  Or media?  Or beautiful women?  Or all of the above?

So if I want to tell a woman that she deserves is beautiful, what must I say in order to convince her?  With a clause that she must must must use our product?  Whatever noble message that comes from the commercial, I guess it's sort of cheating.  It's a grey area and a very fine line.

I think all women are beautiful.  At different points of their lives, they experiment with different solutions - make up, clothes, hair removal, etc.  When they drop the school uniform, they'll start to realize the need for hairless armpits and legs to be socially accepted when wearing clothes that might reveal those area.  I suppose this isn't called 'beauty', it's simply about being respectable.  Like not wearing your underwear out in public.  Or your birthday suit.  Or having BO.  Can a beauty service then sell itself by unpositioning itself in the beauty area?  Frankly, it's such a sensitive area, it's pretty much like the discussion of a Brazilian wax.  There're two extremely different school of thoughts regarding that X zone.

Strong women are not beautiful?  Wrong.  Strong women are the most beautiful.  Because they stand for something.  I've got my train of thoughts back now, thank you very much.