Saturday, July 31, 2010
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
It was a book which I wasn't planning to read because I'm not one who will support over-commercialized publications. Eat, Pray, Love was on everyone's lips and every magazine's book reviews, peppered with sprays of praise. Sheesh, I thought.
When I was in Auckland, I spent most of my evenings, waiting. Not the kind of wait that makes you bloat with redness in your face. But the pleasure-is-all-mine kind of wait. And one uneventful evening, during one of my 'waitings', I picked up this book at the local bookstore, picked a good seat and started reading. I decided to challenge Elizabeth Gilbert and see what she has to say about eating, praying and loving. And two pages after that, I was stuck. And that was the last night I waited in the bookstore. Because, every night after that I found myself waiting anywhere and everywhere with the book. And then magical conversations happened.
Two things which struck me was Gilbert's most approachable writing style. She's funny, witty, intelligent, curious, innocent, sometimes quite a doofus but in a good way, kind of way, and it captures you like a friend with a great listening ear. And she speaks to you as if you guys have known each other for years. There was no double meaning, no guessing, no wondering if you-could-have-meant-this-instead-of-that kind of situation. It was honest and the brutal truth about a woman who at the turn of her 3rd decade in life started going berserk because she wasn't sure if she likes to be who she was. Hmm. Sounds dramatic right? But show me a person who has never been at this crossroad before and I'll show you whatever you want to see in your life. Sometimes, some people pause for a long time, questioning the journey, wondering if they should get off the next stop (being epic is of course, optional). But sometimes, they only pause a second long enough before snapping out of it, returning to their joyous or monotonous life. Nevertheless, they paused.
The other thing which struck me too was, her audacity to chase after her directionless dreams albeit what society pressures her to be. And I think all of us can relate to that. It's almost like giving a voice to our subconscious who don't have the balls to face facts, own up, stand up and needless to say, who aren't blessed with New York Times-worthy English to have narrated like how she did in a book. Her life story, compiled and compressed in between two covers. I loved Elizabeth almost instantly and because it was a good ending, I'm assuming it must have given millions of other wondering and wandering souls (women or not) a kind of hope that if you are still living and breathing, you can always get off the next stop, buy another ticket, go the other way, go round in circles till you figure where you want to head to, or just be still at the station. And that will be okay.
You should read this. And you should get all your friends whom you suspect may be in a crossroad too to read this. And you can start by borrowing it from me here. Today, I'm no longer waiting. I'm actually going somewhere. Good luck ;)
Who else will fit such a role if not Julia Roberts? :)
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Today, there's this proposal of mimicking a leaf where Chinese scientists found a way to create artificial leaves that are almost identical to the real deal. Complete with the ability to capture light and all. If replicated on an industrial scale (according to Knowledge magazine), this could reduce our dependence on oil.
So... Dolly was not okay but leaf is okay. Will it help if I give a name to the leaf like... Betty? The danger of such technology is not apparent because it's masqueraded under so-called innovative endeavour to ultimately bring mankind forward. But we're still not addressing the ultimate issue which is our dependence on oil and negligence on sustainable consumption! Our entire consumer lifestyle is dependent on oil. By creating something like that, we may be weaned off one of nature's most prize gifts but still it doesn't do anything to our mindset in needing to achieve 'balance' not 'profit'.
Well, the debate may not be as controversial as Dolly's because this is a leaf. Living but vegetarian. You get my point. You cast your vote :)
Monday, July 26, 2010
The Sustainable MBA is easy to digest with straightforward facts and ideas written in point forms to avoid the lethargy of needing to digest overly technical business jargon that would put any MBA potential to 'Z' land. Though its flow is simple, nevertheless after every chapter, it inspires you to reassess current business situation and question how better things can be done now. While I don't think anything written in this book is rocket science but it does provide an extremely holistic view on how to operate a socially and environmentally conscious business in the 21st century. The problem most managers are facing is the inability to see the big picture simply because the sustainable canvas is too wide for a single perspective. But without viewing the situation in whole, it becomes a real challenge in trying to convince upper management or even stakeholders (external or internal) on why change is imminent and instead of reacting to it via 'bolt-on' tactics which only provide temporal results, we should be responding and even capitalizing on it for the sake of the future. Not everything is accounted in dollars and cents. Like Mastercard so thoughtfully put it: Somethings are priceless.
Long gone are the days of unprofitable social business. For business to stick around for years to come and reap profits, it now needs to consider the social side of things. Whether in terms of investment or returns, it's high time we all learn to steer in the right direction before it's too late.
Sparks Open Library Project
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Beatrice and Virgil is about Henry, a successful writer who hit a road block in his creative endeavor. While trying to deviate from the reality of not being able to complete his task, he was half hiding and half in denial when he found himself mysteriously drawn to two fictitious friends narrated by an equally mysterious taxidermist who stood no where near Henry when it came to writing fame. The enigma of mystery finally brought Henry lessons in life that should and could never be forgotten.
To be very honest with you, when I started reading the book, it was kind of slow. Perhaps of my exceptionally high expectation on this book, thanks to Yann's extremely engaging Life of Pi. Even half way through the story, I was not particularly empathetic towards the characters. Instead, I was getting slightly impatient and was only drawn to the plot only at certain twists and turns. And then *wham*, it hit me right in the face. The crux of the story came and went very quickly but was so intense that I had to 'rewind'. I leafed a few pages back and re-read the entire scene to fully consume the message again. You've got me, Yann. You caught me off guard ;)
The plot is tight, the climax is short but diabetic-ally sweet and it hits you in the gut. Then this overwhelming sense of guilt suddenly washes over and chide you for being such a lax reader and taking the 'point' so carelessly. It suddenly made me realised that Yann had perhaps intentionally set the pace in such a way that we (as expected by him) would see history as facts that set the mood for a lethargic afternoon, than truly embracing it as part of an important lesson to be remembered and held with such esteem so that we will never, ever allow it to repeat itself.
This book isn't just about words weaved into fiction, aimed at lulling us into another dimension of imagination. That is only half of what this book is really about. The other half is him using words as a technique to relive a part in our memory that has begun to erode...
A must read for all thinkers. And from the horse's mouth (no pun intended, Yann :)):
Sparks Open Library Project.
Monday, July 19, 2010
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Friday, July 16, 2010
But in terms of the script and storyline, I thought it would have been a 'warmer' event if he cracked a few jokes to make the situation a little more light-hearted. As many of you advertising people know, Paul Arden is an award winning Creative Director and best-selling author who passed away in 2008. Which makes this a little... spooky? Sad? Freaky? With him appearing in such a sombre mood. Best is how he went *poof* (complete with dropping of the microphone and all) at the end of the presentation. It's strange because it leaves audience in an awkward mood, not knowing whether to cheer or be silent. Knowing that he is gone forever (and it doesn't help with the last line which he was scripted to say). I think seriously, if it was less serious, it could have been better :) Nevertheless, it's awesome how technology can now make us immortals.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Note to managers: Do you know what your staff is doing when they are bored? You think they are just Facebooking but in fact they're probably thinking where they should go next and editing their resume :)
Take a break if you must (everyone needs one!) but don't let the engine become idle for too long, else it will stall.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Monday, July 12, 2010
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Friday, July 9, 2010
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
In his new book, Jamie's recipes are borrowed from the various countries which he had traveled to, namely Spain, Morocco, France, Italy, Greece and Sweden. He shares on how his perspective had been widen through the different cooking processes that were embraced and practised by all these unique local cultures. Jamie shows us how to steal a great idea and makes it his own with appropriate quotations to what and who inspired him. Never, ever copy someone else's idea. That's just wrong.
Even if you're not a fan of cooking, this book is a keeper because of all those interesting photos that were spontaneously nevertheless carefully captured in the moment. It will spark the travel bug in you.
Now the part which I love love love most that Jamie shared was:
Something France really gets right is the way it fights to protect the heritage and integrity of its food product and producers. So cheeses, butter, wine and other agricultural products with a history and tradition that make them unique are protected by the AOC label (Appellation d’origine contrôlée, or 'controlled term of origin'). This means that the artisan producers who make Roquefort cheese, for example, are monitored to make sure they are making their cheese in the traditional way, using the proper ingredients and ageing the cheese in the same caves at Roquefort-sur-Soulzon they've always aged in. Only then can that cheese be called Roquefort.
Seriously, seriously. It's not just the quality of the product that will be guaranteed, but local heritage, tradition and artisans will also be secured. For example, Ipoh white coffee must be:
1) Use beans which have been roasted with palm-oil margarine without any sugar2) Be served with condensed milk
3) And above all, MADE IN IPOH.
Which means, Ipoh white coffee is protected as a national heritage product which deserves its own patent in this country. Which also means, not Tom, Dick and Harry can claim they too have Ipoh white coffee. Aik Cheong, Old Town, Ali Baba, Tan Cheong, Whatever and most of all NESTLE. What does a German know about Ipoh white coffee!? You get my point.
Anyway, back to the book. So to widen your horizons especially when we realise that food, travel and culture intermix like a marble cake, this book is a definite keeper :) Enjoy!
Sparks' Open Library Project
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
We are ranked at 48. Not bad right?
The boo boo is, get this. We've been number 48 since 10 years ago. Now I hear ya (what the #$*$#&%#)%*^(@#(# right? Right.) For 10 years... 10 long freaking years. We've been sitting here, being safe, enjoying mediocrity, spewing a workforce who has no balls to challenge the norm nor question the leaders, a mentality of 'if it ain't broken, don't fix it' with no intention to improve status quo except to satiate their selfish ego and gain family benefits. A decade comes and goes so easily.
You must be frustrated (and bruised) to know that you're part of this statistic if you're a Malaysian. But there's something you can do. Learn your rights, stretch at work, break some rules, question the norm, push yourself, support an opposition, etc. I'm not here to sway your vote but I'm just saying that only with a strong and vigilant opposition can keep BN in place (maybe moving is a better word, in case we're STILL at the same place after 10 years). You may liken Pakatan Rakyat as the lubricant to a rusty engine. We don't have to replace the engine. We just have to make sure it's well-oiled.
Monday, July 5, 2010
Friday, July 2, 2010
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Dentsu is an integrated communication agency that is 109 years old, while Dentsu Utama is five located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We support the green economy and would like to spark the first out of a million green jobs in this industry.
If you are interested or know someone who is (but too shy or confused on why an advertising agency is hiring an eco graduate) then email me please.
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Remember, we can only create the videos. Only the wise crowd will determine if it's viral. So stop calling your videos viral when presenting to clients unless you're 100% sure you can make it viral! :) (Sparks supports campaign accountability)