Thursday, August 27, 2009

MINI 50th birthday celebration.

This mv makes people happy. Personally, I used to think MINI was cool. You know, when there's an inexplicable attraction towards something, you normally just label it 'cool'.

Anyway, this video represents MINI's most honest expression, the very essence of its evergreen iconic attitude that is fun, engaging, timeless, priceless, genderless. Somehow, all that is lost in the MINI brand in Malaysia. I can very well understand why since it's so exorbitantly priced. It was 'attitude' alright. But with the snob appeal kind. I have never worked on the MINI brand, but isn't that quite oxymoronic with its lovable, down-to-earth character? Also, I think the brand is facing a tough challenge - being seen more and more as a female car at best, a designer handbag at worst - perhaps that's why there are a lot more cuts on macho MEN standing next to their MINI in the video?

Anyway. Love the video. Love MINI. As in. The REAL MINI.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

J.W von Goethe - The Sorrows of Young Werther.

Such passion locked in such compact epistolary novel. Goethe is a true romantic. He is gifted with a cunning ability to draw forth Werther's doomed passion from intricate poetic expressions to crisp punchy terseness. Dislocating himself from his romantic counterparts, Goethe seemed to have written to prove to his contemporaries that he can beg to differ in the zeitgeist where romance flourished in everything possible.

Every page is like a journey. It narrates Werther's mood beautifully - on his perspective, his predicament and how dangerous his desires can be. As much as I sympathize with his sorrows and long to set him free from desolation, I too, found myself getting consumed in anger and impatience for his overtly romantic notions. The sorrows of young Werther was laced with the early conception of Faust, our dear Faust, but in a complete paradox. Werther threw himself into the depths of darkness, burned in passion but one could still emphatize with his fate. While Faust who seemed to have inherited Werther's haughtiness and intelligence, amplified them to mock Fate and religion. Although both protagonists were wasted away because of their longing for the forbidden, they still maintain individual views on self-control and destiny on very different angles.

Goethe's flexibility is by no means docile because one could read his work and immediately identify its proprietor. And my admiration towards Goethe grows because he is a romantic, a poet, a dramatist. He's able to draw emotions from me and weave them into his narration creating a space where reality melds beautifully into fiction. I am definitely a romantic convert.

Look for it here!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Joy is the new BMW X1.

Active lifestyle of really stylish people. Good choice of music. Vibrant, outgoing, nothing that associates BMW's X vehicles with the middle-aged family man. Strategic planning and production helps you stay relevant with the times without losing the core essence of your brand. Ever.

White is awesome.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


I thought I'd take a short break to chat personal.

Getting a little irritable with things. My friends are beginning to notice how my stress level stated on the status of my messenger is fluctuating up and down like a stock market gone haywire.

How do you define costing based on man-hours? Honestly, if I charged you for 4 hours, does that mean that once the time is up, I stop? Even if the job is uncompleted? Why then do I get charged for inefficient people? Why then do I not get charged more for highly efficient people? So, if I'm highly efficient and took half the time to produce something that requires others more time to complete, I charge less!? The absurdity of this cost strategy goes beyond me.

So if I was thinking about your project for 4 hours. And I continued to think about it while I'm in my shower, while I'm speeding, while I'm fidgeting or even while having dinner, table-tennis-ing some thoughts with random friends, how do you charge for that?

How can knowledge-based 'work' be calculated as if it's labor-based 'work'? Hey, if I'm at your event, and you told me to give out all the leaflets by 5 o'clock, you bet I'd give them all out by 5 o'clock, otherwise it's per hourly fee, yes, no? But strategic planning!? Creative production!? Digital programming?! Wha...?!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Behavior of a Global Villager.

1) Spends at least 1/3 of their leisure time online

2) Belong to an average of 2 social networks and have regular contact with 16 people whom they met 'virtually' on the net (plus, minus)

3) 1 out of 10 connects to the internet via mobile handsets at least once a day

4) The world of internet is his/her oyster - search for anything and everything - answering 'whys, hows, whats, whens, wheres and whos' (you got the question, the web has the answer, or at least someone on the web has the answer)

5) Uses the internet to ease everyday chores such as online banking and researching a product/service (the paradox of spending more time online to get more time in life)

6) Engaged in some form of 'commerce' activity - either actual purchase online or leading to a purchase offline (buy, compare and research)

Reference from TNS.

What's most interesting is the paradox I noted above. The web enables people to multi-task therefore able to do more for less time. Synovates answer: "Multi-tasking, media-rich lifestyles are the norm among 8-24 year olds in Asia, with these on-the-pulse consumers fitting 38 hours of activities into every 24 hour period". A 40-something-year old once told me: "Everyone is equal. Everyone has 24 hours". Well. I beg to differ ;)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sustainability & Change Management.

It's been a crazy week at work. The stuff you do every day and should be doing every day, the stuff that brings in the dough and feeds the mouth, the stuff that lifts morale and sparks passion, the stuff that is right for the nature of our business and nature, period.

We've finally got around launching a new division in my employer's company which is called Sustainability & Change Management. While we're not claiming to be the experts, but this certainly seals a serious commitment for Dentsu to move towards a sustainable future. Not just for ourselves, but our clients and the community which surrounds us. IMPORTANT: This is beyond going green. I think the key word is BALANCE. Our world is too extreme which is why our eco-system is tipped and screwed up.

Get wired in our less-serious blog, and police us ;) We welcome that. Oh by the way, our new batch of namecards is 100% made from recycled paper. How bout that for a start?

Meanwhile, if you're interested to know more. Get in touch.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Honda CR-V now in Taffeta White.

Don't want to drive a bus? Maybe a sedan-feel SUV? How about white? Launched now.

Monday, August 10, 2009

WHAT IS talent? How can recruiters and employers spot it and quantify it?

Hmm. Interesting. So, the next time you go for an interview and before you open your mouth and make lofty demands and promises, please ask this fundamental question: Do I possess any TALENT? Followed by: If I'm half past six, then exactly how half past six am I?


Dave Ulrich, professor of business at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, has devised a formula: Competence + Commitment + Contribution = Talent.

Competence means that individuals have the knowledge, skills and values required for today’s and tomorrow’s jobs.

Committed or engaged employees work hard, put in their time and do what they are asked to do.

Contribution occurs when employees feel that their personal needs are being met through their participation in their organisation.

The whole person is involved, says Ulrich: Competence deals with the head (being able), commitment with the hands and feet (being there), and contribution with the heart (simply being).


Original post here.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Off The Edge: What happened after May 13?

I bought this month's 'Off The Edge' magazine cause the cover really caught my eye. A simple rendering of the classic Chinese calendar of 13 May 1969. I think most Malaysians are aware of the date but seriously, may not have the same factual understanding of what really happened. Go get it. If not for your own curiosity, at least for a better understanding of your own citizenship (and so that you don't look so bad in front of your children/grandchildren).

However, what really caught my attention was this interview excerpt between Farish Noor and Datuk Abdul Rahman Hamidon (the then NOC's (National Operations Council) secretary - NOC was set up after the ethnic riots of May 1969 to take over the Malaysian Parliament and the Cabinet's ruling, headed by reluctant dictator Tun Razak Hussein to reinstall peace and progress in the country). Check this out:

***excerpt from The Meaning of May 13, Off The Edge, pg 41***

FN: This period (1969-1970) reminds me of the book 'Founding Brothers', about the creation of America during the war against the British. America was created by a coterie of 40 men who agreed on how to create their new nation. Everything then was ad hoc like you described of the NOC; decisions were written on paper, decisions made early in the morning. But then over time, these gain a sense of permanence. The period of the NOC remains as one of the foundational pillars of our contemporary history. And yet everything you’ve described to us about it makes me feel that it had so many contingent elements. Now, God forbid, if there was ever another Emergency and another NOC, would we be able to cope? We don’t have a Tun Razak today, who understood that democracy had to be restored. We don’t have a Tun Ismail today, who understood that the military should not be allowed to enter politics. We have what you, Datuk, called ‘deadwood’ (laughter) that may run a NOC. Is that something that we should be worried about?

Well, because of the National Operations Council, now there is a basic policy on how to deal with an emergency, and the police and the army now know what to do in the event. We now have a National Security Council that is not run by the police of the army, but by civilians. They have plans for [different scenarios] if anything were to happen to this country.
During my time, there was no plan. It was just decided by a few people then that ‘this was the best way to do things’. But now it is very professional.

You must also remember that the army now is more intelligent than those days. When I was in the NOC, a lot of young people ended up running the army, and they were all clamouring for power. They rang me up, and said, When are we going to move in? The country should be run by us. I said no, you cannot do it; we haven’t come to the stage when you can take over. They were young people in the command asking for power. I told them: it cannot be done.

FN: When you look back at how things were so contingent then, do you think it was just a case of sheer luck or fate that saved us from becoming like Philippines under Marcos, or Indonesia under Suharto or, worst still, Uganda under Idi Amin?

No, no, I don’t think it was luck. I think it was due very much to the maturity of the people who ran the country at that time: the politicians, headed by Tun Razak, Tun Ismail, Tun Tan Siew Sin. These people, compared to what you have now… These people were solid people – you could not bribe them. Tun Razak had only three bush jackets – three. That’s what he used to wear… Now, every day is like Bollywood: morning, different shirt; afternoon, different shirt. Tun Razak wore one.

DKL: I sometimes used to help carry Tun Razak’s bag. Now they’ve got people to carry minister’s wives’ bags, hairdresses, make-up…

I’ll tell you about one incident. One day Tun Razak had to make a trip to Kelantan. Tun Rahah had wanted to follow him but ministers could not take their wives with them [on official trips]; the government would not pay for it.

So that morning Tun Razak called me and said, ‘I’m going to Kelantan and Rahah wants to go too but I cannot take her because government won’t pay for this’.

I said to him, ‘Tun, this is NOC, and I am the controlling officer. I have the right to approve and you are the number one man. You take her, I’ll pay for it and no one will query it. You are the Director of Operations.’ He said, ‘No, no, no people will talk, people will talk. Rahman, I don’t want people to talk about this.’ In the end, Tun Rahah had to go to Kelantan by herself, by car.

And that’s the type of man we had running the country at that time. Let alone now, going overseas and taking their wives and children…

***end of excerpt (underline mine)***

You know. These days I've been reading a hell lot of books and articles on Malaysian history. And speaking of 1Malaysia, so far to what shallow knowledge I have about my own country (I am shameless), I think we've seen two occurrences where multi races rose up to national unity. The first was during the Japanese Occupation period in the 40s, where races and tribes came together to form the MPAJA (Malayan People Anti-Japanese Army) to resist the Japanese invasion. Although MPAJA together with the British were not able to fend off the aggression but at least, they did make it short and as hellish as possible for the Japs. But sadly, after the Japs surrendered, the party broke up and we were back to square one of small explosion of civil wars due to power contention. The second incidence of 1Malaysia was the formation of the NOC (as shared above), where the country was forwardly and justly governed by a few extraordinary individuals from different races, namely Tun Razak, Tun Tan Siew Sin, and Tun VT Sambanthan. And Malaysia, very quickly, got out of the state of emergency caused by the throes of ethnic riots. But now? History tells us that Malaysia needs 'a state of emergency' in order to spur unity. So let's hope that the common enemy in this modern times, is this economic downturn that we're facing or the threat of human extinction that's caused by global warming and NOT anything similar to what our ancestors have had experienced.

I've made a commitment today to unlearn my history and learn it all over again within the next two years. Join me here if you're interested and I'll share what I've learned (and what should be unlearned from our school days). I hope to share with you the truth behind the fable of Hang Tuah being a Chinese and was subsequently expelled from our school history books, someday. That for me, is just pure curiosity.

By the way. In addition to the above interview excerpt, I thought this is also a very important piece on Tun Razak which you should know:

(pg 37)

He (Tun Razak) restored peace to the country which figuratively was on the brink of collapse, and the speed with which this was done was extraordinary, thanks to the active cooperation of all the ethnic groups. A shy, reticent and exceptionally able administrator cum politician, he was a rare combination of qualities. He was very dedicated to his work, to the extent of being a workaholic and, above all, he was incorruptible. When he died, he left behind only two modest houses - one in Kuala Lumpur, and the other, a rumah kampung in his constituency of Pekan, Pahang. He had accumulated savings of RM100,000. He also left behind a wife (Tun Rahah Haji Noah), five boys and an adopted daughter. Two of the boys are Prime Minister Dato Seri Najib and Dato Seri Nazir (the youngest), the tsar of CIMB.

Few thoughts in summary:

1) I disagree with Datuk. I think the politicians THEN were MORE professional
2) I've got a new role model(s) and a new hope. A just Malaysian politician EXISTS or at least, existed.
3) Tun Razak's wife took the car to Kelantan on her own, but his son's wife...

Clearing the air on Petronas and LB.

About one or two weeks ago, media broke news that Petronas was opening its lubricant business up for a pitch while news of Yasmin's passing was still hot off the press. Many took this as a sign of disrespect for Yasmin and also as a lack of local finesse in handling the situation.

But a little bird told me today that it wasn't true. Petronas has already decided to put the business up for a pitch much earlier before the unfortunate incident shook the advertising industry.

So there. It was decided. I thought I should do my part a bit to just clear the air.

Friday, August 7, 2009

New Golf GTi launched in Hong Kong (and everywhere else soon).

New GTi (mk6) launched in Hong Kong. While I love the 'love speed' idea (mk6's output up by 10 horses from its new EA888 engine (shared with Scirocco?) with refined suspension and drivability, max torque is the same at 280Nm achievable on a slightly lower rpm of 1,700) but I think the site is a little... disappointing. The whole idea is to utilize available online viral videos about speed and associate them with the campaign but it feels to me that it could have been more... dynamite in terms of presentation and usability. Hmm. VW should have originated these ideas and not fish them from YouTube (we've always been original about mobility concepts and technologies right?).

The new generation GTi loses the honeycombed front grille (slight resemblance to its Audi cousins) replaced by a more understated one with red lining. The eyes however, are narrower balancing out the well-mannered exterior to keep that sporty but more refined outlook. It's got a meaner look at some angles and a more gentleman executive look in others. Visual tricks. I'm liking the backlights too. The mk6 also replaced the side 'mold' panels with a more careful but distinct pressline to perhaps lift up the vehicle's muscularity. I think it could beef up a little bit more definition to really flex more muscles to its otherwise 'chubby' sides. It's lowered 22mm (front) and 15mm (rear) so expect even better handling than the already extremely road-hugging characteristic of the GTi.

I'm guessing this will cost about... RM230,000?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

BMW Isetta.

There seems to be a trend of these MV-ish style of car commercials these days. Happy, easy, feel good, puts a (or another) smile on your face.

BMW Museum. Hmm. Now that's where I want to be :)

Honda Diesel ad from UK.

Put on a smile!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

New BMW X1.

Posted a close up shot of BMW X1's new swanky angular rim before and here we see it running. I always prefer car videos with narration (at least for BMW) simply because they're so... poetic ;) This one, although in absence of Beemer's usual literary rhythm, still captures the essence of the latest addition to the X family.

I like the last bit on the sunroof. Malaysians will tell you that it's not practical, the rubber will wear off, rain will leak in, it's silly if you haven't breathe enough of smog and haze, and all sorts of other blah blah blahs. But take no heed. Because when you do have it, though it may not be something handy, but it certainly gives you an inexplicable feeling of 'driving freedom' that is 'close' (not the same, but close) to a convertible.

I draw the sunroof back (yes, in Malaysia) simply because. I can.

VW Golf GT TSi commercial.

I don't know if this will work in Malaysia but it's darn hell funny. I thought this would cheer you up after yesterday's morbid post ;)

Nice rims.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Man sometimes makes me sick.

Today was another one of those days. I clock in to work before ten, sit at my desk, wait for Windows to boot, go through all the social media sites I'm wired on and proceed to update my mood and empty my mind.

While waiting for the team to gather for our weekly work-in-progress meeting, I picked up GQ, August issue and thought I should finish the last remaining article of the magazine. Hi, my name is --- and I have an obsessive compulsive behavior. I read magazines from cover to cover. Yes, even the advertisements. What I didn't know was the intensity of what I'm about to read, doesn't just upset my stomach but my soul.

The title in all its simplicity was called 'Never Forget' written by Michael Paterniti (who had the golden privilege of going cross-country with Einsteins' brain in a tub once, which we will divulge another day, another time). What do you think of an article with such unassuming title would be about? And then *pow*, it hits you. Your eyes, brain, mind are drawn into the deep recesses of Paterniti's thoughts that the inner person in you twists and turns in disgusted objection to any further reading. Yet, the mystery of one of mankind's most unspeakable atrocities magnetizes your curiosity. It is no other than the Khmer Rouge regime.

The funny thing is, I was there before. In Tuol Sleng. Not the infamous Killing Fields. Don't know if I can stomach that but yea, Tuol Sleng. And it's as close as it can get to imagining what it must have been like to live in such a torturous and demented, time-stopping (albeit abbreviated) era. So when Paterniti started painting the picture of 1975, it doesn't just bring back memories. It brought me back to a confounded state that took me a good couple of days to get out, after the visit. So many researches have been conducted and reconducted to find out why the Nazis could do what they did. Or more accurately, the people employed by the Nazis could do what they did to millions of others. It was simply befuddling. And in the case of the Khmer Rouge, it's probably hard to conduct the same kind of research because close to two millions were wiped out clean in a span of a few years. You need numbers to quantify these researches.

They've caught the Master of Torturer, Duch (pronounced as doik). A Cambodian ex-mathematician teacher who spent time in jungle hide-outs devising new and creative ways to 'torture'. What. On. Earth. Created. Such. A. Monster. During the height of the despicable regime, Duch was put in charged of prisoner camp S-21 where he lived out his twisted imaginations on live experiments. The physicality of it: Removing nails and dousing wounds in alcohol, slicing bellies and putting scorpions in to roam, feeding prisoners with human excrement, performing cannibalism, the vile list is endless. And not forgetting the emotional side of it all where words like 'colour', 'happy', 'laugh' were banned. Erased eternally from the vocabulary of the populace as they knew it. The human race should be devoid of happiness. They should be walking zombies dressed in black pyjamas where a smile would be fatal. And above all these, if you could bear all of these, your steely soul is only given a point zero four percent of survival chance. What would you do?

Now, standing on the trial stand, a much 'so-called' remorse Duch admitted to his hideous crimes and asked for pardon. His 'so-called' conversion to Christianity was his first step to remorseful repentance (if he was, why was he hiding in a jungle till he was 'accidentally' discovered by a journalist?). And he's 'so-called' living a life of such burden that the only relief is death. And that he's 'so-called' challenging you to put yourself in his shoes. If the lives of your family is threatened, what would you do? I have my answers to the above. I have my point of view on the Christianity bit but I leave the final judgement to God. Have I no pity for this person? (Has he no pity for the victims?) If my family is threatened... That's the tricky part. I have no honest answers to that. I can only say that should I choose to do what he had chose to do, I would readily accept the consequences that come with it. And that will be no pardon. No physical freedom back to the human society and certainly no emotional forgiveness that could ever free the soul once again. What would you do?

I am left helpless after reading the article. It's stuff like that, that really punches your daily routine and creates a hole that tells you that you're incapable of doing anything. I've thought about it that's why I wanted to share it. Sparks is all about possibility, hope, dreams and change. Yet, today after some hard digestion of these sobering facts (yet, once again), Sparks is dimmed and reduced to faint ember.

Highly recommended this month is GQ and their take on violence.

Nikon Coolpix P6000 - Really cool.

Nikon Coolpix P6000 with 13.5 megapixels and comes with an in-built GPS system. Remember, the Android HTC I was talking about that allow you to geo-tag your photos and auto-upload onto Google Latitude? Well, this one does pretty much the same except it has its own 'my Picturetown'. Your photos will be 'remembered' by its latitude and longtitude location and appear on 'my Picturetown' as thumbnails on a map. So you no longer need to crack your head thinking about your own footprint. Well Coolpix is cool. Now come on, let's get it WiFi-ed!