Monday, August 08, 2016

The path to be a great leader

Being a leader is never a clear path. I would not say that I am a great accomplished leader nor I would not say that I have not lead either. What I am writing here are my observation and studies on the few leaders I've met, talked to or even learned from throughout my time on this planet. I have to say there are many types of leaders out there that have different traits that are either born with or learned the hard way.

I have often heard people asking this question (I have to admit that I too asked this question when I was leading my team back then), "What does it takes to be a good leader?". This is a very subjective question as it really depends on who you are leading and what is your job scope. 

What I have realised is that leaders generally scale down to three types, either you are an effective leader, a charismatic leader or you are both. 

From my observation, an effective leader is someone who will lead their team to achieve their goal in a systematically way. They are usually a "Follow-the-system" no nonsense kind of person. They will ensure that the job is done in their way, putting aside all the small pep talks or in other words, bullshit talks or meetings. These leaders get the job done. Thats it! Some would compare them slightly like a dictator. They are usually effective when there is a crisis or when things are in chaos.

For a charismatic leader, they are the ones that will talk, inspire and at times charm the team to work for them without whipping them. These leaders are often seen as a likable figure. They will at times try to use the team's strength and encourage discovery. They are the ones who will use pep talks or they are the ones who will take you out for a drink to motivate you and talk to you to find ways to inspire you to go beyond.

Hence, as mentioned the ones that can combine both traits is not something you can get overnight or easily obtained. A leader with a good balance of both usually takes a while to master. Experience and character does play a huge role on how you find that balance too. 

There are several other points that I have learned from the various leaders that I used to talked to or interviewed back in my radio and BNI days, (these are actual points stated by the leaders) here they are:

  1. Do not take longer than 5 minutes to make a decision. Once a decision is made, if it is a wrong or bad decision, never regret it but instead, learn from it. 
  2. A good leader have to be fair and transparent. This is usually one of the toughest aspect as this is one area where your every decision may look unfair to someone. So sometimes a decision made have to be thought through properly and objectively and not emotionally. A decision made have to be clear as to why it is being made. No point hiding or twisting certain facts.
  3. A good leader eliminates office politics. Office politics are usually the ones that kills an organisation. Discourage gossips. If there is an issue, bring together the parties involved and solve in face-to-face in a professional and civilized manner
  4. In relation to point number 2 and 3, a leader does not takes side and always listen to the stories of both parties before making a judgement. 
  5. A leader leads, a manage manages. There is usually a difference. One example, a good sales person does not necessary make a good sales manager.
  6. Learn to empower your team or your staffs. Trust in their ability and knowledge. Let them take charge on smaller decisions. Entrust them with some tasks, delegate the job. 
  7. A good leader helps the team to grow in knowledge and skills. If an staff or team are not able to perform a certain task given, find out why and guide them either via education or reassigning them to a task they are good at.
  8. As a leader, you may not know everything and sometimes it is good to ask for help from your team or others. 
  9. Keep instructions clear, straight forward and simple. You don't want your team to run around doing things that may not be productive just because you didn't make your instructions clear. A simple clear straight forward instructions gets the task done fast.  
  10. A leader always reads and try to upgrade their skills
  11. A leader should be generous in educating others and imparting knowledge and experience
  12. A leader is just a team member with extra responsibilities. They are not more superior or more powerful, just more responsibilities. 
  13. A leader is not a position where everyone will like you. There are definitely situations that you will be hated due to a decision you make but it is part and parcel of the job.
  14. The higher you go, the lonelier you get
  15. A leader dont have to reinvent the wheel, just make it better. Sometimes a working system does not need to be revamped, just improved. 
  16. A good leader leads by example, practice what they preach
  17. Lives up to their promises. Do not promise if you know you can't fulfill them. 
  18. Its always the team and not you. 
  19. A leader don't mind going the extra mile for the team. BUT do not sacrifice yourself! 
  20. Admits and owns up to their mistakes
  21. and finally... a leader must be themselves. Be quirky, be funny, be original... be yourself! 
Being a leader is never easy but if you know how do to it, the feeling of seeing your team or organisation succeed and you sitting there as their leader, knowing that you lead them there is such a satisfying feeling. I myself am still learning the traits and I hope one day I will be able to be standing along with those that taught me. And perhaps one day, I would be able to help others too...

To all the leaders that I have the privilege to chat with, thank you!

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."  
-John Quincy Adams

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Feeling Down and Battered

Tired, worthless, moody and sad was what I was feeling the past few weeks. I was trying to find out what was the problem but I somehow couldn't. I was losing my interest on anything and I was constantly angry yet sad. Then I came across an article that pointed out all the symptoms I had and that I may be suffering from work burnout. My mind was all over the place. I could not focus and I was snapping at anyone. After a while, I started to feel guilty and angry at myself for being a jerk. I started apologising to everyone but that did not solved anything. I was still feeling like a wreck, something that I never felt for a long time. The last time I felt this way was more than 5 years ago. Spending a good time with my family and friends brought a short joy but once after meeting with them I went back into that deep dark hole. To the extend some people even said that I was being dramatic or exaggerating and that I am just overreacting but I know what I am going through and I just can't get out of it. 

"What was the problem? " I thought to myself. "What was the cause of this?"... "Was it due to work?"... "Was it due to people?"...  "Was it all of the above?".

It was something that was puzzling to me. I have no reason to feel down. Yes, I was swarmed with work but I was swarmed with work before this but I never went into this kind of spiral. Me being me, I was trying to figure out what was the cause of this problem. I tried digging deep into my mind and started remembering all the things that was taught to me by successful people and I still can't find my answer. I was desperate for an answer as it was affecting my work and the people around me. I was constantly putting on a fake smile. My laughter was hollow as if I was a robot pre-programmed to laugh. It affected me so bad that I even considered quitting my job and leaving everything behind and disappear. 

It was not until today I found my answer... GOD! Nah just kidding! I stumbled across this video of Sean Stephenson on YouTube. He was talking about how we are so fixated about other people's judgement on us or what other people think about us that it affected us. We are locked in our our very own prison, which is our mind. Another thing he said was "never believe a prediction that doesn't empower you".  What he said resonated and hit a chord within me, not entirely but a part of me. For the past few weeks, was not a very pleasant time for me. problems here, comments there, challenges here, assholes there. I realised that I was the one who dug my own hole and jumped inside. I was the cause of my own problems. I made myself like that. Perhaps I tripped a little hard this time and I've lost my way somehow and let it consumed me. I was constantly blaming everything else including myself. As Jim Rohn said "You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself".

I knew the answer all these while. How silly was I to be absorbed into this nonsensical hole?  A friend of mine told me today that I've put too much pressure on myself to perform that I've lost my identity. I think I shall get back on path and chill and smile like I always have...

In the words of Ian Malcolm of Jurassic Park...

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The time conundrum

Well if you noticed my recent articles, it is all about time and looking back and remembering certain things. I am at it again! all thanks to Facebook Memories or "On this Day" function. Sad to say this is one of the first few activities I do when I get up in the morning, switch on my phone and go through the news and my FB. And this is always one of the first things that popped into my notification. "On This Day..." and things that I thought I have just done is already 2 or 3 years ago. Heck, some is already 5-6 years ago. I have been using Facebook for 8 years! 

It was just moments ago when I look at some of the postings I did recently and I thought I have posted it few days ago shockingly it was actually 2-3 weeks ago. That sudden surge of confusion of what ever happened in between those time? How did time fly so fast? 

I remember back in school, waiting for a half hour class to be over seems like eternity. Back then I felt that I did so many things in a day whereas now I can barely finish a few. Maybe it is the complexity of the work? Maybe not. Is this all about being an adult? 

A wise old friend of mine once told me, if you plan your day out, time wont fly away fast. You have to be conscious most of the time during the day, because most of us are not 100% conscious  most of the time. Sometimes we just auto-pilot on certain things or we focus too much on one thing and neglect the world. Perhaps that is what I am going through. Living sub-consciously for the past few years. And when I gain consciousness, I realised I have lost some time. Something that you cant gain back or buy back. 

But thinking back again, end of the day although it seems fast I am happy that it is all spent on the people matters most to me and doing what I am happy doing.  As much as it is a lost time, it is lost for a good reason. As this saying goes "Time flies when you are having fun" perhaps sub consciously I am actually having fun and I just stop smiling or stop appreciating it... maybe... maybe I am still that happy kid that just lost his smile on the outside like a faded once brightly coloured poster been exposed too long under the sun. Yes, I like that...

How did it get so late so soon? Its night before its afternoon. December is here before its June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon? -Dr. Seuss-

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

My Twilight Zone

I actually lost track of time recently. I recall clearly that I have wrote an article recently talking about my last decade that changed my life and I clearly remember writing it like 1 to 2 months ago and then I came in here and I checked the date, HOLY SHIEAT! it was last June! That is like 10 months ago! Almost a year ago! Oh my how time flies! I still remember telling myself while writing that article, that I will start writing actively again, hence the great number of article that month (2).  

the people of BR24
Since that article, I have moved on from my previous job at Bernama Radio24 and thanks to Facebook memories, I just realized that I have manage to answer myself in an article I wrote few years ago here entitled "Passion vs the world". Yes, I guess the "world" managed to win. I have moved on to a job that pays more and serves my current needs. Leaving the job that you love is never easy, especially a job that you dream of doing ever since a kid. But the world wins and I need to pay the bills. So I have to look at the second thing that I have passion on, branding. Like I said again, it pays the bills and life goes on.   

Besides that, one thing that I am really glad is that I managed to hold on to my passion, well at least a little bit as I managed to get a part-time gig at an online radio to do what I love most and that is radio broadcasting.. It doesn't pay monetarily and it not a daily thing but it pays passion-ly (if that is even a word!) and emotionally. I feel very happy producing or running a radio show, I don't know why. Maybe it is something that I hold very close and dear to my heart ever since I was a kid. Somehow I just feel happy doing it, even if it was for free! of course if there is a proper salary would be even better! Who wouldn't want to do their dream job and get paid for it? 

Now after a while, that little ember of a question started flickering back on... passion vs the world, who should I choose? I have now chosen the world, should I go back to passion or is there a new question on board? or should I find the world that has the same passion as I do? or should I create or change my current situation to what I want? I guess time and/or maybe my stupid-temperamental-sub-conscious-acting-hastily-and-not-thinking-straight will tell. Who knows what the future holds... perhaps I shall come back here and read after a long time again and laugh at my silly past or agree with him... who knows? 

Anyway, I'm out...

"Prepare for the unknown by studying how others in the past have coped with the unforeseeable and the unpredictable." -George S. Patton

Monday, June 22, 2015

On Father's Day...

Father's day has just passed and to be honest, it was a rather sombre and quiet day for me. Looking at most of the people in my list posting pictures of their dad and saying how great they are kind of made me angry and envious at the same time. Perhaps it is because I missed my dad so much and that I could not spend anymore moments like what was posted by my friends, which made me angry. Looking at status like "My Hero", "The greatest man in my life", and so on, made me smile because I knew that my dad was all that was stated too. In fact maybe even more! 

For me, loving my parents and cherishing every moments with them on a daily basis is more important than on any specific day. Just like what I stated in my previous blog about celebrating mothers day, you don't need a specific day to celebrate mother's or father's day. Love and cherish everyday with them is more important because with a blink of an eye, they might not be there anymore... 

I miss my dad - my pillar, my superman, my friend... 

I am glad to have many many great moments with you...

Happy Father's day...

Friday, June 19, 2015

and Suddenly I looked back...

Have you ever come to a time when you sit back, reflect and started calculating the years that certain events happened? I did! Well, recently I came to a crossroad, a life crossroad that is. And I told myself that I needed to do a self reflection and self review. I lie down for hours, reflecting and daydreaming and I realised that in the past 10 years, I have been through tons of stuff that I never thought I would go through. Its been a crazy decade for me. Many ups and downs, in fact, lots of right and left and back and front, too! 

It all started when my Gmail prompted me to clear up my emails, as my account is getting full (imagine that! 15GB of nonsense!). So I decided to clean up some of my old emails. I look back at the very first email I got... of course it was the welcoming email from Google. I clearly remembered that my buddy invited me to join gmail. Yes, when Gmail started you need someone who have a Gmail account to invite you to enable you to join. He told me that they provide 2GB of space. Which at that time is alot of memory space!! and the interesting thing about Gmail is that it doesn't stay at 2GB. There as a counter at the side that shows the space is growing. OK, back to my first email, I saw the date of the mail sent and it shooked me up a lil'. it was 25th November 2004!! I thought to myself "HOLY SHIEAT!! MY GMAIL ACCOUNT IS 11 YEARS OLD!!,". Has it been so long?! 

my first email on Gmail

I then look at some of the really first few mails that I received. Then I noticed that it was all those funny emails, jokes, photos, pixelated videos and quizzes. I was trying to remember why some of my friends who sends me all these emails. Then it dawned to me, FACEBOOK wasn't around that time. Friendster was just becoming the hit and the only way to "share" information is through emails! Well technically things didn't really changed. We just migrated from emails to Facebook. But the funny thing is that those who diligently send interesting emails back then are those who are totally non existent in Facebook now. How a decade can change someone!

Then I decided to walk down that nostalgic path. Went to click on my blog, yes, this very blog! well, it is linked to Google, Then something happened, I realised that my blog itself is 10 years old! 10 FREAKING YEARS OLD! Back then blogspot was not under Google yet. Things were kind of complicated and not so user friendly as it is now. As I was going through my posts, I realised that I write a load of crap. I guess I was still trying. Check out my first post here! 10 years and 314 posts later, here I am writing this very blog. I wouldn't have thought that I can write so many articles, or so it seems. Reading some of my blogs, I started reflecting again and trying to find out why I wrote those articles. It is kinda funny thinking back. 

Reading blogs and looking at old emails brought back lots of emotions. I've been through lots of ups and downs in the last decade. I realised losing my dad and grandma in the same year was the lowest point in my life but somehow my loved ones and buddies brought me back up. Something that I don;t know how to repay them. 

And there were the ups in the past decade, where I get to meet the love of my life and also getting married to her. The days of MSN Messengers were hot during the courting days. SMSes and phone calls were expensive so there were lots of chats! yay emoticons and low res web cams! yea right! 

It was during this decade too, that I got into a job that I really only dreamt of getting. I thought I was embarking on a path of a lifetime in becoming part of the social machine, lifeless and emotionless working army, then came a job that I have always dreamt off! a job in a Radio Station! It was during these years that I get to go to places that I have only dreamt of going and meeting people that I would never thought I will ever meet in person. Heck, I was blessed to even have a decent private conversation with them! If you would have told me 10 years ago that I will be doing all these, I would only laugh and sit down and daydream!

My idol growing up, the voice of Malaysia, the legendary Patrick Teoh

The great Zainal Abidin. I even get to stand 2 feet away from him singing live!
But the last decade too, I guess we all have to experience lots of national incidents that were foreign to us. The changes of the political scene, or some would say, the political tsunami in the last 2 elections. The dark side of politics and politicians that were foreign a decade ago, or perhaps maybe its due to lack of social media back then. 

The airline incidents, MH370, MH17 and QZ8501. These are something that were unheard of. Plane crash yes, we hear it often but disappearing planes, plane got shot down on hostile zone was something we would never thought would happen to us. 

Funny thing is that during these incidents, I was in the thick of it as I have to cover the event, albeit by sitting in the studio. Most people are able to switch off and take a break but not me. We were facing this 24/7 and after a long period of time, it can get rather depressing but then again, no complains, it is my job!

Well, well, coming back to the MH370 issue, it was crazy and scary as my wife and I was suppose to head for our honeymoon 4 days after the incident on the same airline and same plane model. We went anyway as I was quite confident as there was nothing to worry about, as after interviewing aviation experts, pilots, cabin crews and engineers on my radio few days prior to my trip. But what I can tell you is that the atmosphere in the plane the entire trip was intense! every turbulence was followed with cringing of eyes, screams and nervous voices. The sigh of relief was heard when we landed.

me right after landing
Like I mentioned earlier, its been a crazy decade and I wouldn't mind to go through it all over again. All these obstacles, bonuses, challenges, ups and downs only made me stronger and made me more confident to venture into the blurry path laid upon me. If I can survive the last decade, I am sure I can survive the next decade!

To end this article... I somehow find the lyrics of these song made sense to the current situation.

The moments of happiness we enjoy take us by surprise. It is not that we seize them, but that they seize us.     -Ashley Montagu

Monday, May 11, 2015


Mother's day has just passed. As usual, my facebook feed is flooded with pictures of my friends mom. Dinner with them, flowers, old pictures and so on. It is also flooded with quotes and wishes. But why? why boast or share with the whole world?

Throughout the years, mother's day has been a day where I would plan all week or month beforehand. I always feel that it is the one of the most important day of the year. But the last few years, I slowly saw the significance dwindling. Somehow Mother's day is not that important any more. Not because I don't adore or love my mother but more on the depth of the day. What does it means? It is the same thing in comparison to going to church on Sundays or going to the mosque on Fridays. Are you not devout to your religion on normal days? same goes with mothers. Do you not love your mother on normal days? Why do you need a specific day to shower your mom with love and flowers?

For me, I feel that mother's day is a redundant if you throw everything down for your mom on that particular day but neglect your mom on other day. For me mother's day is just like any other festival, it is a day where all of us took the opportunity to have a family gathering. But the truth is that everyday for me is mother's day. Everyday the time spent with my mom is as precious as any other days. Because as cliché as as it may sound, if you love your mom, everyday is mother's day. Every meal together everyday is as important as mother's day. You don't need any day to celebrate or recognise what your mom did for you. 

I decided this year not to wish my mom on facebook or any other social media. For what? I would just rather have a nice quiet and happy meal with my mom, god-moms and family. Why? because love does not need to be shared on social media. Love them in real person everyday and have a meal with them is more meaningful than trying to show to the world that you love them. 

Be successful in life and live a good life and ensure that they get lots of love everyday. That is the greatest gift I can give to my mom. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Life After Death

It has been a bitter sweet weekend for me. Heading back to my home town to celebrate Qing Ming or Cheng Beng. At the same weekend too was the funeral of the former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. When I was young, Cheng Beng has always been a happy family gathering for me, where we will head to my great-grandparents resting place then to my grandpa's resting place. Its been a yearly affair where I look forward to the food, the cleaning up of my ancestors final resting place and the fun stories that my family members tell about the departed, even if you heard it year after year. Stories about how great my great-grandparents are and what they did during the yesteryears always gets me excited and I always wondered how are they when they are alive. I would always look forward to the end of the prayers as we are allowed to eat the food that was offered. One of my favourites is the "siew mai" or meat dumplings that my aunt bought. 

Throughout the years it was the same ritual, same procedure, it became an annual routine. I always knew about what Cheng Beng is all about but then as I get older I started to see the importance of it. It is not just visiting and pay respect to our deceased ancestors because we have to and just "makan" but the festival actually have a deeper meaning. Things started to change 5 years ago. After my dad passed away and followed by my grandma few months later, The whole meaning and importance of the Cheng Beng festival became more clearer to me. I understand now why it is celebrated. It is not about religion nor was it to pray for the deceased to get their blessings. Although lots of people tend to skew towards that. It is about to remembering and to remind us where we came from. Who are our family, and what did they do. It is a festival to remind and educate the younger and coming generations of their family and their roots and their history. The prayers and ritual was merely an addition to make it more official and meaningful. Cheng Beng is a Chinese culture where we sort of make our younger generations learn about their family and why do we carry our family name. It is because of this festival, I get to know so much about my great-grandparents. They passed on before I was born but I somehow feel connected to them. Same goes with my grandpa. I have no recollection of him as he passed away when I was just 3 years old. But it is because of the stories told by my family that I can relate to him and my family's past. 

As I mentioned earlier, things became more apparent when my dad and grandma passed away. I now understand why my aunts and uncles or my grandaunts and uncles share their stories of my deceased ancestor. I too wanted to share my stories of my dad and grandma. Share the stories of what I have experienced and witnessed. Share the the idea and principles that they stand for. Everytime my family members share their stories, I am not sure whether they are aware about it but they are passing on the legacy of my family. Letting me know my roots and my family's history. 

Coming back to yesterday, when I was travelling back to KL from my home town after visiting my ancestors resting place, a strange thought popped into my head (mind you, it was a long journey and my mind works best while I am driving). This came after my aunt from Singapore told that that day was the funeral of the late Lee Kuan Yew, and that thought suddenly struck me. I suddenly have a thought of what life after death actually means. I am never always a religious person. I somehow reject the idea of the institution of religion but I somehow believe that there is a big guy up there. Be it a supernatural being or just a group of sentient being. But then again, I do respect all religion as it is a way of life to teach a person to be a better person!

Coming back to the story, I have always asked or been asked on whether I do believe in life after death. What will we become after our time on this planet ends... then it occurs to me after joining the dots in my head. 

Most people said that there is a heaven and there is a hell. Heaven for those who does good deeds and hell for those who did bad deeds. Most religion says the same thing. But does anyone really knows about it? This is when things get blurry for me. How can a person be judged whether he or she goes to hell or heaven? There are some things that we have done may be deemed good by one person but bad for another. Then it occurred to me during my drive is that heaven and hell is in all of us. What we have done to other living being while we are alive determines where we go. Right? How much we influence a person or a group of people determines where we go. That is life after death. 

I believe that when we die, we don't go anywhere but live in the minds and memory of others. The people that we touch determines where we go. It is in their minds that determines where we go. We do good, people will think we go to heaven. We do bad, people will want us to go to hell. Hence heaven and hell is in all of us. We will never know where we go after death but knowing that we have done a great deal of good deeds that we will be ingrained into people's mind forever. Just like the great deeds that our ancestors did or just like the great deeds that the great leaders/personalities did. 

In generations to come, they will still talk about the deeds we did in their life that ensure that in their memories we are now in heaven. No prayers, rituals nor offerings can make it any different. It is just a process to recollect the memories of old. With that our souls or memory will live on as a series of image in a persons mind. So everytime someone speaks of another person with respect after they are gone you know that there is life after death. The more you touch a person's life, the longer your soul or memory lives... and in their mind, you will always be in heaven (that is if you do good lah!).

Hence, I always live with this idea where, if you live a life with respect of others and yourself, you will get it back in return whether it is now or later...

Then again, that is what I think-lah! 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

5 years on...

5 years ago, today, I lost one of the pillar of my life. In just a blink of an eye... my dad has left us for 5 years... this time 5 years ago, the doctor told us to be prepared... this time 5 years ago the glass that I call life, shatters upon me... 

"Watching you and hoping that you will miraculously open your eyes and get better... but reality is harsh... I felt helpless as I could not do anything... I felt lost and defeated... I hope and I hope but I watched you slowly wither away... I tried singing while holding your hand, hoping you sing along with me like you always do... but to no avail... watching you go without saying goodbye hurts even more..."

Till today it still aches, till today I still can't fill that hole, till today I still wish that my dad will walk through my front door and say that he was fooling all of us, just like a prankster he always is... but at the end of the day... I have to accept it... that he is gone and the only thing left is my memory...

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Too Lazy To Party

I just came back from the Borneo Jazz Festival. It was fun and great but I realised one thing that was bugging me... and that was my lost of enthusiasm for partying. Zoom back 10 years ago, I would jump at the chance to go for a drinking session or a party... 10 years on... I would rather sit down and just chill. Having a great time is no longer loud music and booze but more of a good meal and good company.

I lost my interest in drinking booze also. The idea of intoxicating myself and losing control over myself seems wrong. I just dont like the idea of being drunk or high anymore. I dont know am I being boring or anti social but I have also starting to avoid going out to "have a drink". Maybe I just don't see the benefit of paying over the top for something I don't enjoy anymore or just plain worrying about my health, somehow, I just stopped.

I now start to understand what my parents meant when they commented about loud music and it being annoying. Not that I have lost my love for loud music but I just can't stand music that are too loud (those in clubs).

Does that makes me an old man? or have I out grown these kind of lifestyles?

Maybe... maybe not...

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