Sunday, May 31, 2009

Jon Schmidt.

I met Robin Sharma and he told me to follow closely on those who inspire me. I think Jon Schmidt does ;) We all need a bit of those amazing music sense sometimes.

Friday, May 29, 2009

1st borrower of Sparks' Open Library Project.

Ali G. Copywriter. Design appreciator. Indie lover. Dentsu-ian. Ex-ducks owner.

Taken two books in their best condition (no bone creases, no dog ears): Problem solving 101 by Ken Watanabe and The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz. Good choice :) Returning on the 29th of June.

In exchange, Ali traded 'Forgetting Things by Sigmund 'Dream man' Freud' with me although it was under no obligation at all. 10-point size 55 pages, should be okay.

Was just about to wonder if this works. But so far, I did have another request for Ken Watanabe's book. Anyway, we'll see. Let's all read more and make this world a better place.

Two Planners in a Room.

"...when the pressure is highest and the risk greatest that the biggest rewards can be achieved..." - TPR

The nearest APG is in Australia, I wonder if there isn't a need to have one in within the region, or ASIA? (Although yea, it provides a perfectly good excuse why I should do a trip to Melbourne).

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The world's most scarce resource: Talent.

We've been on a recruiting (and I-so-wish firing) mode. And believe me, from today till the next couple of years, the world's most scarce resource will be TALENT. And when I say talent, it doesn't mean people with skills. It means people with skills and VISION. It's so hard to find that in young people these days. No, scrape young. Just people.

Especially when the world's in a mess (enviromentally, politically and socially), web 2.0 blurred everything about copyright issues and plagiarism is rampant, but at the same time, curiosity brings people to places they've never been (physically and in their mind), creating a new hybrid of thinkers who understand the mechanism of connections better (between themselves and friends, between other people, between corporations and people), and who have higher expectation on what they can do and what employers should provide. This talent management field is tough! The balance between getting someone with a vision versus over-confidence. The balance between a thinker and doer (ha! I think almost everyone in Malaysia can relate to this. They either do without thinking, or think without knowing how to do it). The balance between self and team. It's almost as tough as doing the job, trying to produce an optimum team.

Getting the right people on board is difficult. But I cannot tell which is more challenging - capturing high flyers or creating them in-house. I think for the past one year, I've experienced both. Both are equally challenging I supposed, but I have to admit that the latter brings a much sweeter satisfaction. The question is, on whose expense? Management's sanity? Client's business? The (God forbid) brand?

Awhile back, when I was still with McCann's, we were working towards setting up a McCann University in Malaysia where the unpolished diamonds will be sharpened till they gleam. It was a brilliant idea. Getting the right education endorses was a non-issue since all that really depends on 'management connections' anyway. Shortly, after I left and I never knew what happened to the project. I guess it didn't happen because if it did, McCann would have milked the PR coverage shamelessly (that's why they are a reputable brand). Then this morning, I came across what W+K is doing too, to hone talents. I think the industry is slowly recognising more and more the importance of talent management. Yet so few of us can do that. Why? Because this isn't a factory. We don't churn out square cut products. We're dealing with people. And people have feelings. I've cornered an executive so badly that she cried but I knew if she endures through the furnace, she would stretch, break out of it and become a much better thinking doer. But she's crying, what do I do? I backed off.

These issues, I'm sorry, are not taught in the best of the best Harvards of management schools. It comes with experience in dealing with people. Because at the end of the day, what your people would do for you shows who you really are.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The new BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo.

The good:

Simple video with strategic coverage of all important functions and features. The split screen tells more story in a single second, the choice of music brings forth more emotion than a VO. And I think (although at first glance, it's strange) it's a really nice detailed touch to use the German word 'interieur' versus 'interior'. Typo or not, that kinda seals the German DNA and automatically filters out Tom, Dick, Harry and Jo. Absolutely love the last shot of those eyes and how they blink at you.

The bad:

Sorry for nitpicking but there ARE some spacing error. Otherwise, perfect.

The ugly:

Nothing about the car; it is a beauty to behold; the long panning frames of 5 series GT on cruise mode and signature still shots pretty much tell the entire story. The last sign off line instigates the heart. EXCEPT (maybe zis germanz didn't know...), "When was the last time, you did something for the first time?" was Emirates' recent campaign line :S (boo boo). Just for reference, it's exactly the same right down to the last question mark.

But you know, it's really forgivable since I think this commercial was aired two years ago. But see my point is, if every 'big idea' conceivable had been conceived, then how should we evolve in advertising? Hmm. If you ask me? Hey, the line still works for Beemer. But you know, the feeling of it being used (so widely) before? Hmm.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Brilliant insight on photography.

Ad 1: Horizontal spread versus pillar wrapped.
Ad 2:

Ad 3: Friend sent me a link to this. Sometimes we've just got to bend our minds, to see things which are so obviously there, yet we're enemies to familiarity. The simplicity of it all: What goes around, comes around.

Original post here.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Open Library Project.

As Sparks' initiative to promote sustainability (creatively), I've decided to open my personal library of reads.

How it works:

You'll find different genres of books that may be of interest to you. Some of these books are my precious keepsake (so please take good care of them), some are brilliant, some were presents, some were donated and etc. But whatever it is, feel free to let me know if you want to borrow any of them. Just email me and tell me which title(s) and we'll figure a way to get them to you. My apologies but I think at this moment, this project may be only relevant to those residing in Klang Valley (Malaysia). If it grows (somehow), we'll figure ways to improve the 'system'.
But please please please do NOT crease the books. Thanks.

I think the question on everyone's mind will be copyright issue? Hmm. While I don't think I've violated anything (would lending a book to a friend be considered as copyright violation? Or would this be considered as illegal distribution?), if at all, I think it helps people to make a wiser purchase. If they really enjoyed something, I'm sure they'll purchase it to keep. I'd rather think this as promoting 'efficient consumption'. Purchase only when you absolutely (friggin') got to have it. So, stop buying and start investing :)

Start browsing the library now.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Sparks' pet (project) launched (on blog).

To all who are following Cat, can now follow him here too :) (refer to side panel for different adventures)He's appeared in a couple of magazines, latest one called 'holiday'. But I didn't have time and the patience to figure out the printer's scanning function. So yea. Cat's looking for publishers. Know any?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Late night.

My eyes're stinging, my mind's out, my breathing's abnormal. But something like that will make anyone smile.Doodle bread. Hmm, hybrid of food and art. Hybrid is a product of which the end value always amount to more than when two items are put together. In a hybrid equation, one plus one never equals two. The third (or subsequent) value is what innovation is about.

So doodle bread. Bread + art. What's the third value? Eye candy? A playful consumption experience? The praises, oohs and aahs that's gladly received when shared? Hmm.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The WikiMalaysia Project.

It's about time.

"When a politician says something, do you know whether it's consistent with the rest of his stand? How do you know whether you can vote for him or not? We need a solid record of what our leaders are doing and saying for the benefit of our people. Malaysians need to keep track of them in the public mind. We need to centrally archive news, and make it publically available to accurately judge his or her performance.We need to archive and summarize their actions from the daily news, blogs, websites, newspapers, etc. I've done some work already. Sign up to help foster more meaningful olitical awareness among Malaysians." - WikiMalaysia FB

This is just one proposed area which could get Malaysians more aware of what is happening in the country (or what happened in the past). Other categories include literature, history, arts, business, etc. Sparks endorses this 100%. If the media in this country is biased, then let social media to the job. Power to the people. So if I were ___, I'd be really careful what I headline on papers.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A weekend in magnificent Terengganu.

We've been sparking all these fancy trips on 2009 Honda City FB for quite some time now. So far, the reactions are positive but how can we make this better? How can we improve the way users consume content? What's the difference between consuming the same content in one social media over the other? How do we enhance the appearance and/or innovate it to suit different environments? How is it different from consuming content from a non-digital environment to a digital one? How much do tactile senses influence the satisfaction of reading something by being able to hold/feel it? At what point do users become motivated enough to react to the content and/or take action? Hmm.

So many questions. Although we've just wrapped one social research (and a big one that is), but I'm already imagining the parameters for the next one ;) Hmm hmm.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Thanks dvrunner for the BIG shout out :)

Seriously did not expect such a big shout out from DVRunner. Told him to go hush hush about it. But I'm glad. Not because we got front page, glad because we're doing something for the bigger picture. And if you are reading this, and wish to pledge for his run (84km yo!), please feel free to do so without any obligation. We have pledged an amount irregardless if he finishes the run (maybe that's why we got the spotlight :P). Hope to see more people believing and participating.


The news is out: Thank you for the opportunity to work on this year's Tech Challenge (again). Deepest appreciation to the team and Honda :)

(Coming back on a Sunday was definitely worth it.)

Check back for celebration happening tomorrow ;)

What if my favourite colour is not green?

T'was a year long project. No, come to think of it, almost one and a half years. I think this is by far, the biggest, longest, most in-depth social research I've done to date. Not to mention heaviest. Some of the findings may step on somebody's toes but then again, this research isn't intended to highlight any negativity. They're just facts. Awareness provides better decisions.

Phew~ and it's finally a wrap :) The objective of the study is to understand environmental conservation efforts and awareness level to date amongst Malaysians. But I think what I've learned from this study is to understand what messages have been sent out there and how effective (the word of the order is 'sustainable') they are in getting people on board to be not just a little more concerned about the environment but enough to nudge them to act upon it. I thought the question, "What if my favourite colour is not green?" is quite apt. Too often than not, we assume that we're all motivated in the same way. Especially when environment is concerned because it's such a global (and at the same time, personal) issue. That we stand as one race, which is humankind (I really have to re-think about the word kind here cause you and I know, we're far from that :P ). This study has enabled me to understand that, we're so motivated by different issues and causes and reasons that green communicators perhaps failed to identify the niche which they could have been more effective by segmenting their target strategically. We learned from conventional marketing that when you target everyone and anyone, you target no one. That kinda makes you think exactly how effective these two years of greenwashing had been right? Hmm.

Wanna know more?

*This project is a collaboration between Sparks and Dentsu Utama.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sparks runs with DVRunner.

Every business should have a cause. While I don't think 'running' is Sparks' cause per se but I think 'running for something' is. So, we'll be endorsing DVRunner and his big picture :)

Maybe I should learn how to run too. I'm using the word 'learn' because I don't think everyone has the stamina nor the endurance to run. Yea, we can all run away from something (which some of us do so well) but towards something? Hmm.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

McKinsey happy meal in hardcovers.

One of the most palatable and friendly strategy books ever written and read. Ken Watanabe who was a consultant with McKinsey for awhile back has got it nailed. That's what problem solving strategies are supposed to be. Simplicity and crystal clarity. That's exactly what I think most people lack. Clarity of their thought process, if there is one. Sometimes we arrive at a brilliant idea, without even knowing where we've been to come to that. Which is why, the same brilliance can never spark twice (no pun here okay).

I think another issue is also the mental endurance needed to really wring your brain out dry to consider all possibilities. For those who have tried it, it's an awfully tiring procedure. Have you ever felt your brain get 'tired' before? And that, I don't mean just zoning out or getting stoned for over thinking. I meant, really. Like you can feel the muscles in your brain, sore. Like what happens to your jello-like-legs after you've ran like a hundred miles (or kilometres here). Well, I have. Not often (admittedly with great honesty), but I have. It's a strange sensation. Extreme exhaustion that comes with great satisfaction. Speaking for myself, it would be great if I could just discipline myself a little bit more and push with the same consistency throughout every project. But then again, maybe not. Because they call that getting burnt out right? Hmm.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Civic Type-R Track Day.

14th of April - T'was a weekday. Hmm. Gets you thinking, doesn't it?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Test drive - VW Golf GTi.

Ok. So you are stressed. Nobody understands you. Work's crazy. Friends' are nowhere to be found. And you're all alone on a Friday night. So what do you do? You get a Golf GTi. So far (in my books at least), the mk5 Golf GTi the epitome of fun driving that is (ahem) obviously more affordable than many of the old boys' toy which of course, supposedly to serve much more than just being 'fun'.

Then you realise that your so-called 'stress' gets extracted out of the tiltable sunroof before you get to even complete your sigh when you pedal your new found friend. And you suddenly realise it's better to be an island, who needs understanding? Too much brain work. And uh, work? Woh...what? Friends? They'll eat your dust trying to catch up with your 18" Detroit alloy wheels. Being alone? Trust me. In your vintage tartan bucket seat is definitely where you want to be. Friday night, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, heck any day anytime. Because it's like a magic carpet that brings you to anywhere your heart desires and most importantly, transforming you from zero to hero at 6.9 seconds. Sweeet. Maybe it's not fair for me to compare, but. Bye bye 1 series (turbo 1).

The DSG (direct shift gearbox) which is uniquely (thank God) GTi was exhilarating which gives these wheels the ultimate driving ex... oops. I mean, the ultimate fun driving experience. In low revs (from 1800 rpm), you could already feel the torque surging and that's only the D mode. Immediate shift to Sports was seamless, except for that sudden burst of torque orgasm which really got me whoa! This car doesn't just run, it floods the road! 200 horses (obviously, don't think I've even reached anywhere near that) felt like all ranches broke loose on Penchala Link. To reach the power climax which its FSi engine is famed for, this baby needs to run on Sepang yo.

In terms of the driving experience, I was really pleased. Really surprisingly pleased. When stationary, the car welcomes you with a low growl just like your (I mean, man's) best friend. Put it on D, it doesn't move just yet. You have to return the greeting by slightly tapping on the pedal and the relationship is sealed. The interior is comfortable and suspension is hard enough which gives you a really nice feel of the road. Now I understand what they meant when they say BMW is becoming too refined. You could feel the road but the feeling is pretty much insulated in order to provide more driving comfort, which I think is what the general mass looks for anyway. So I guess it really depends on what works for you. But if I'm on the road, I'd like to feel like I'm on the road and not like in some cushy bubble wrap. And to top it off, a very fun road.

Good handling at 60 to 80km/h during sharp cornering is kind of expected. I was thrown a little (a cm is a cm) but I guess that's what the bucket seats are for. To put you back in place to challenge your little GTi when it throws you off guard with the unassuming powerpacked turbo-charged engine. This neat little package doesn't know how much power it has and it tends to overestimate itself and plays a little rough when provoked. Nevertheless, GTi strips away the masquerade of this unpretentious and modest personality that the VW badge had labelled it. Yea, pretty much like the 'Jekyll and Hyde' thing going there ("Oh, so you think I'm cute, wait till you see the evil things I can do").

Even the headlights are amusing. Ignite the engine in darkness, and you'll see them blink in subtle exuberance in anticipating a joyride with the owner (the headlights apparently also 'curve' a little according to your steering for better night visibility). Not to mention, interior lights are disco! Electric red and neon blue - crisp and clear. Everything about this 'little' car spells F.U.N. What about MINI? MINI is a handbag...

All in all. I think once you go turbo, it's hard to turn back. 1 series probably sits in another category altogether. I don't know, what shall we compare it with? Mazda RX8? Subaru STi? Honda Civic Type-R? Mitsubishi Lancer? Hmm. It'd be interesting to see what turbo means to the Japanese then.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Applicable for any industry if you think about it: If we're not in the business of innovation. We're not in business.