All posts by shaunhoon
I recently attended a dialogue on the topic of God’s Rewards.
The speaker spoke of God’s intention to Reward us when we do what He desires, if not in this lifetime, the life to come, using an impressive score of biblical references and examples.
While I do not dispute the theological suggestions, the talk left me thinking about another set of questions: What exactly is God planning to Reward His people? What would the Ultimate Reward look like, if only He could reveal a glimpse to us, right here, right now?
If God’s Rewards equal wealth, fame and treasures; good health, fruitful life and happy family…
Then, anyone regardless good or evil, that has everything going for them would seem to be in God’s favor.
Today, I got in touch with another group of people discussing about a charity program.
The questions about Rewards lingered on: What is the Reward of doing good? What are the ‘incentives’ to get people involved?
People do charity for a handful reasons; for altruism, reciprocation, and recognition.
That, or perhaps because they are already the recipients of the God-given Ultimate Reward:
Being in the position to give, to make a difference.
And not being on the receiving end.
Time Magazine recently featured a story on Why Nokia isn’t dead yet (here)? And it instantly captured my attention. Two reasons:
1. Most of the people I know, including myself have made the switch to an iPhone or a Blackberry.
2. Function wise, Nokia is clearly losing out in innovation and it’s coolness.
The verdict of the article was simple. Just because you, your friends and your dog use an iPhone or a Blackberry, it is easy to assume that the whole world has embraced the much loved gadgets.
The simple fact that was overlooked by most people was that iPhone is not for everybody. Time magazine repeatedly used the description, ‘myopic view’ of the Americans in coming to this conclusion. I contend that it’s also a catastrophic view of the fellow students of marketing (me included), who are seemingly obsessed with the two buzz words: Innovation & Technology.
According to the report, smart phone has only penetrated 5% of worldwide sales in the mobile phone industry. As impressive as iPhone sales was (over 100 million units sold since March 2011, according to Wikipedia), the number is still a minority, compared to the 7 billion people of the world’s population.
My grand mother uses a Nokia, so do my mum and dad, the maid in the house, and also my 55 year old auntie. Gather the whole family in a room, and my wife and I are actually in the minority.
Before opening my shoe shop in Australia, selling cheap Chinese shoes with no brands, no affiliations (those that I wouldn’t personally wear myself), I used to think that my business was destined to fail because I thought that people would only buy Nike, Birkenstock and Timberland. To my pleasant surprise, our business survived for 3 years, and many of the cheap shoes sold beyond my wildest expectations.
What’s my point?
Not everybody aspires for a Porsche, a Private Jet and an iPhone. Ok, may be they do. But not everyone could afford one.
Do not despair if you’re not selling Apples, there’s always room for Orange, Watermelon and Bananas.
And one more thing!
Only fools learn from their own mistakes
It could have saved me 3 years of worrying, had I learned about this long ago.
A very good morning to all of you. I am very happy and lucky to be here today to thank all who have helped and support me to make me what I am today.
I am very grateful to the Upper School Council for awarding me the scholarship again. This scholarship would help me through my university. I can only pray to god that may you all be blessed and successful in whatever you do.
I am now studying in University Technology Mara of Kuching pursuing a 2-year Diploma In Public Administration. After this, I would like to continue a 3-year Degree course in Political Science. I know that this would be very challenging but not impossible. I will do my best to achieve my dream. Moreover, knowing that all of you are supporting, helping and guiding me would motivate me to achieve my goal.
In the past, all the Penan students in SMK Medamit found it difficult to go home during school holidays because of transport problem. We had to depend on the mercy of logging company’s truck. Many times we had to spend the whole frightening night sleeping by the roadside because the company’s transport did not travel to our villages . We only can hope by the next morning, another truck would come our way to get us to Long Sembayang. From there, we had to walk for another 3 hours to reach our village in Long Tegan. Because of this transport problem, many Penan students dropped out from school.
However, after getting help from you all, my friends and I can go home on a chartered truck and come back to school safely and on time. We now also have clean uniforms, school shoes and stationeries. We are very grateful to all of you, esp. Auntie Jacky, Auntie Violette, Auntie Shida and Auntie Asrid and their friends who gave us a lot of help and encouragement. Once again, thank you and May God bless you with good health, happiness and peace.
In explaining to me about a Social Project that my former high school teacher, Mrs Violette Tan, and her small circle of housewives friends started, Mrs Tan casually uttered out a seemingly harmless statement saying: “We are`feeding the hungry’, in contrast to `enhancing the life’ of others…” Little did she realize, a simple sentence like that discomforted me for months because I belong to the latter category she was referring to.
Fascinated by her cause, I sent a list of questions to Mrs Tan about the Penan Project, with the goal of sharing her story on my blog under the category of Cool People (who says teacher can’t be cool?). Mrs Tan obliged, but had not found the chance to respond since, as she was too busy doing the ‘real work’ for her project.
Instead, she invited me to come along to Limbang last week to join her Social visit, where I could witness the answers by myself. I had all my questions answered in that day, with my teacher explaining every detail right beside me (reminiscing the good old days), as we strolled on a few hours drive across the border.
1. Watch Plenty of TV (Ads)
You can always spot someone working in the Marketing industry from the outsiders: During television commercial, instead of going to the toilet, he / she will be glued to the TV, analysing every second of the clip. Be that person. Look out for good adverts, as well as the bad ones. They will teach you what not to do in the future.
2. Master your English
I wish someone had told me this when I was growing up. Without a good fundamental in English, I was often handicapped by the grammar errors and the limited vocabulary in my repertoire to express my ideas. Vocabulary is like your weapons going into a battle. Imagine fighting a war with inferior firepower.
Two ideas: Read broadly, read vicariously! Start a Blog, begin to write, even if no body reads it (I understand!). The reward is priceless.
3. Learn Pu-Tong-Hua
In case you haven’t already noticed, China is already taking over America and the rest of the world in many economic frontiers. When you graduate in 3 years time, most of your customers would demand your sales pitch in Chinese. What’s the use of a Harvard Degree, if you cannot speak in your customers’ language?
4. Learn the Basics
One of the best thing that ever happened to me as a Marketer was the 8 years of returning to Australia. After working a few years for Asia Inc Magazine in Brunei and Singapore early in my career, I had a sense of confidence that I could take on any challenge when I immigrated to Australia. 8 months of unemployment on, I resolved to selling Kebab for an Iranian take-out and eventually started a shoe shop with my uncle, who was also my partner.
There, I learned first hand the value of customer service, the thrill of responding to customers’ complain, thinking on my feet. I also developed an insight on the effectiveness of my marketing campaigns, which I would never otherwise be able to understand, had I been pushing paper in the office.
Go, be a part time waitress, stack supermarket shelves, deliver newspaper. You’d come out better because of it!
5. Take Lots of Pictures (and create fun captions)
Print Advertisements are often nothing more than Pictures breathed into live with clever captions. Try turning your pictures into advertisements at home, insert punchy captions less than 10 words, try 5 if you can, 3 even better! Do it long enough, you’d be ready for a job as a copy writer before you know it.
Below is a transcript of my speech at Jerudong International School (JIS). It outlines an intimate part of my childhood. One that most people would not openly brag about, but what’s the point of holding back, if telling the story can help even one person.
This is a talk that I wish someone had told me when I was in high school. I hope it makes a difference to those who think they are not good enough.
Part 1. Finding Passion
There are 3 reasons why you attend my talk today.
1. You are curious about Marketing
2. You are clueless about your Future
3. You wonder who the loser is!
When Ann Lord asked me to write a short description about myself to ‘promote’ my up coming career talk; I thought I’d be as honest as possible about my experience. So that I could connect with the students who were like me, when I was your age – Often Clueless, Mostly Hopeless.
This was what I wrote:
When I was engaged by NBT Brunei to share my thoughts on Customer Service earlier this year, Mr. Ninan Chacko gave me a simple, but tall order: to make NBT’s Service as the Talk of the Town!
It is one thing to provide good customer service, and it is quite another to be so great that the whole town talks about you. Mr. Chacko is a man of high expectation. The quality of service in NBT, as you would agree, is reflected in the way their staff carry themselves, with Pride and Dignity, and the immaculate process the company put in place behind the scene to ensure the seamless efficiency of frontline operations.
I remember during our exchange, we spoke at length about the importance of attention towards details in making all the difference between a good and great customer experience.
Mr. Chacko told me one of the best Customer Service story that I have ever heard; on his occasion with the Singapore Airlines from Singapore to Nagoya, flying on Business Class nonetheless. He also graciously shared with me the appreciation letter that he wrote to Singapore Airline’s CEO so that I can pass on the lessons.
Like me, I hope you would pick up the Secrets in serving the elite from his story.
Like me, I hope you’d be equally inspired.
Mr.Chacko’s letter below:
At Triple Stars today, we bumped into Mohammed, the same Sales Attendant who sold us the baby court before Siena was born 7 months ago (time flies!). Mohammed and I clicked instantly. He laughed when I recited Russel Peters’ famous “Take It & Go” line (see 3Mins 05Sec onwards), with the signature hand gesture in my attempt to get some discounts (it worked!). Aside from getting my jokes, Mohammed gave me a sense that he actually gets it about Customer Service. He was professional, confident, and he knew his products.
As he was helping me to load the stuff into the car, I casually asked if he’d be interested to join us. Mohammed courteously declined, without the slightest interest in what company I work for, or how much I was going to offer him (let’s just assume that Mohammed doesn’t mind my face for this illustration purpose). Offended, I pushed further for an explanation. He came back with a simple but classic response, those you only read in fiction novels or see in the movies: that “It’s not about the money.”
Mohammed loves his boss, he’s been treated extremely well for the last 16 years he’s been here. His job has helped him raise two boys, 4 and 9 in India, who frequently visit him in Brunei. Above all, he loves what he does, and so it was reflected in his service attitude.
Who says Bruneian can’t serve?
You may argue that Mohammed is a foreigner. But to me, anyone who’s been living here for more than 16 years is a Bruneian, regardless of what it says on the passport.
For a brief 60 seconds, I was humbled by my interaction with Mohammed. Not only did he show me how proper Customer Service is carried out, but he also taught me a very important lesson: There are things that money can’t buy. A precious little word that has became a rarity since my grand father’s generation (Hint it starts with L!).
The next time when you go to Triple Star, go check him out by yourself. Tell Mohammed I sent you. And he’d probably answer: Who is Shaun?