Saturday, October 27, 2012

Iron tips

A old friend of mine was a naturopath, and one of her hobbies was educating women on the right iron supplement and taking it at the right time during the day. 

Here are her tips where I'd like to share:

  • Avoid anything that is a sulphated form of iron (e.g Ferrous gradumet, FeFol etc). - These are very poorly assimilated and poorly absorbed in the gut. It 'dumps' a huge dose of this type of iron and the gut suffers all this grief (nausea/constipation) for not much iron intake in the end. Most of these iron supplements are cheap and nasty in my humble opinion.
  • My favourites are Metagenics 'Haemagenics Intensive Care' (a patented form of amino acid chelated iron that doesn't dissociate in the gut and is a lot more stable than others) but it’s is a 'practitioner dispensing only' product so may have to see a naturopath to get it or the retail version is Ethical Nutrients 'Iron Plus' (identical product made by same company). For a Hb that low I'd suggest 1 tab 3 x day separately and ideally in-between meals. Best to check the ferritin levels too. (This friend is based in Melbourne, Australia so these may not be available but just look out for the general iron level specifications).
  • Liquid irons work better for some women - I find the liquid irons work better with some women than others; Floradix 'Floravital' is good - take 20mls 3xday for Hb that low too. It does get expensive though and bottles are either 250ml or 500ml. Sometimes I suggest a course of liquid iron, then tablet iron, etc.
  • Beware of taking iron with other minerals (such as calcium) - It's also important to take iron away from other mineral rich meals eg. calcium (dairy or fortified non-dairys usually a biggie as breakfast), as the two minerals will naturally compete for absorption and you won’t be making the most out of your supplements. If you are having an iron-rich meal then you can take your iron with it too boost the meal up.
  • Don’t take iron with tea/ coffee – Don’t take iron foods or supplements with tannin-rich drinks (tea, coffee, some herbal teas).
  • Red meat is a good source of iron - Red meat is a very good source of haeme-iron (the redder the meat, the more iron in it) and eating this alongside vitamin C rich foods is even better - steak with mixed salads etc.This is generally pork, beef, lamb, etc. 
  • Non-haeme (non-meat) sources - The non-haeme iron sources are the 'vegetarian' types of iron; green leafies : herbs, chorella, spirulina, legumes, pulses, beans etc. These are good 'sources' but the absorption is affected by other naturally occuring compounds in the foods e.g. phytates and oxalates etc, these will often bind to the iron and form insoluable salts/compounds which are not absorbed via gut wall and end up in bowel for passing.
  • Overall suggestion - I suggest a balance of everything both non-haeme; haeme iron sources, a liquid and or a quality iron supplement.

Prayer as a form of meditation

Have you ever thought about the way people pray? It's been something I have always thought every time I see someone pray. The way they find a nice quiet spot and then put themselves into a position and give themselves a moment of silence to speak to their God.

I believe prayer is a similar action to meditation. Where you are in deep silence, you keep still, you concentrate. I see it almost as an opportunity for you to find oneself. To make peace with yourself and the world around you.

In movies they always talk about making peace with yourself, so to me, it seems that prayer and meditation is one way for people to do that. It's something that most (if not all) religions have in common. So regardless of whatever religion you believe in, it's a time to take a step back from the world and to reflect in silence.

So take the moment to pray (or meditate) in silence. For it is the common action that helps make peace with yourself and the world around you...

Teaching the reasons, aids learning

When you explain the reasons behind why something is done a particular way, it aids in the learning for the individual you are teaching. 

This is as it gives them more context and information to help them to understand what and why they are doing in that way. 

I have found it the case in one of my past jobs where I worked as a swim teacher. In the beginning, I would teach by example and demonstrating the exact movement, positioning and style of each swimming technique. At times, there were some children who were able to pick it up from just that, that is, from seeing and then doing - but not everyone learns like that.

What I found even more useful to them (for those children who had were able to understand me then - directly or through analogies and examples) was that when I taught them the technique and then the reasoning behind it they were able to have the insight they needed to do it. As this helps them to think about the technique more and to tailor to their own needs as they understand what a particular stroke may be aiming to achieve. They may even do it better and show me a better way of doing it.

Looking back over my earlier years, I have found that knowing the reasoning behind things has personally aided in my learning. So the next time you are teaching or showing someone something, don't just show or tell them how it's done, tell them why as well. That way they may learn it that little bit more better - or even teach you a thing or two!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

How I got into IT...

I just joined the Singapore Computer Society, and they'd asked me to write a little profile about myself and how/ why I got into IT. Like job interviews and just interviews in general, I always find requests like these interesting and a great way to learn about yourself more - as it makes you reflect on where you are and how you got there.

I've been in a variety of roles in IT, including working as an IT business analyst, IT auditor, IT adviser, IT support, IT research analyst and now IT consultant. But how did I get into it? Here are some of the questions and my answers that I'd like to share. Hopefully it gives you an idea of how I got into it, and maybe you can understand whether IT is/ was the right career path for you:

When was the first time you started using a computer – how old were you, what did you use it for and please describe how you felt/what you did
I started using computers when they first arrived in classrooms. It was the old Apple computers which were promptly replaced by the personal computers (PCs). I was around 6-7 years old then and I used it for basic word processing and playing some fun learning games, including one game where you’d try catch a villain that travels and hides around the world (Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?). I felt like I was a different person, like reading a book, chasing this character. It’s the feelings one has when you’re looking for Wally in “Where’s Wally” and the movie, “Catch me if you can!”

How IT has changed your life
IT has changed my life by always been enabling my access to information and being able to continue to remain in touch with all my friends and family from around the world. Information Technology is everywhere and has been much a part of my life, so much that I feel empty and strange without it.

What would you do or how would you feel if you had to live without IT for a day
I always like to think of IT as a layer and a medium that enables us to carry out the activities that we normally would, but in a simpler and easier manner. The world existed without IT but with it, we are able to stay connected to people and information in ways that is changing every day. Without IT I would feel disconnected from my friends but I actually would also feel it as a break as I often find myself lost in the Internet and computers for hours on end without realising it. 

I also often like to watch movies and TV series off my laptop, so I think I'll be out there more exploring the world. I think it'll be a good thing to take a break from IT. I don't think I can stay disconnected from IT for long though as it helps me stay connected with all my old and current friends, especially now that I live in Singapore.

How did you get into the IT profession
I was originally studying to become an engineer, as I wasn't too sure what I wanted to do and was following my brother's lead. I ended up in IT after realising that engineering wasn't for me. I wanted to do something relating to business and given that IT is an enabler that serves and supports business, I'd thought I'll give that a try. Given the rapidly changing environment and challenges in the IT and technology, I've put myself in a interesting industry, one that is looking to change the way we live our lives more and more each day. I'm glad to be stuck right in the middle of it, but hope to relate it more into the how it supports communities and societies down the track.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Secrets of body language

An interesting video on how to read body language. Makes one want to think about those in the public office, what they are truly thinking and the non-verbal power plays between people. I had no idea that's what was happening between them.

Some things that they mentioned we should consider when assessing someone's body language and that is:
  • Context - How would a normal person react in this situation?
  • Tone - Listen to the tone.
  • Ask questions - Asking questions such as, what is missing? That is, what emotion has been suppressed or is hidden?

Monday, April 30, 2012

Surrounding yourself with great people...

A friend of mine invited me to a network marketing session a couple of months ago, and while I'm not interested in these sort of initiatives, what I wanted to find out was how they managed to get my friend on board. As I find that things are not always what they seem, particularly with these sort of ventures.

I knew that word of mouth marketing/ advertising was strong, and could see that my friend simply joined without looking in the fine details of what she was getting into based on a recommendation by a friend.

So I went along and afterwards I tried to understand the reasons behind my friend's decision to head in this direction, and tried to help her to challenge her thoughts and understanding of it. After a while, I knew that her mind could not be changed, and one could understand why. If one had invested money in something that one would want to see a return from, then it would be the typical human reaction. As these ventures often require an investment (normally financial) to participate.

So, given this situation, the only thing I could encourage was for one to set boundaries, by setting stop limits. But one has to set this both ways though, a limit on the amount one be willing to invest and gain. This is when should one stop if such and such was spent, and when should stop if such and such was achievable. Greed and temptation is often pitfalls here, so though there were defensive reactions to my non-evasive suggestions and questions, I'd managed to at least encourage her to set those limits. I'd always advise that it's best to set limits early, as emotions will always play a factor down the track - even I get lost in my emotions at times, so it's best to be aware of this.

Enough about that though, as I know in time my friend will learn from their experience, and really I have done all that I could really. Now something that I really wanted to share with you was some great concepts that I learnt at this network marketing session. Of course, the session itself was more driven towards trying to persuade you by trying to show you how easy it can be to get rich, etc. which wasn't my thing.

What stood out for me were these comments that I've heard before from other sources, but it struck me well this time round:
  • Surround yourself with great people - One should try surround oneself with a core of six people. The analogy of people carrying your coffin during your funeral was used. Essentially surrounding yourself with people who you can trust, who you can share and work with.
  • Opportunities only come once - "When an opportunity comes by. The same one won't come again. You will not get the same opportunity. You may get an opportunity down the track but it won't be the same." This is true, as one philosopher once said that you never jump into the same river twice.
So what I got from the whole experience was that I should surround myself with great people and knowing that while I can't jump into the same river twice, I should understand why and why you didn't choose to jump this time round. As life is full of choices. Indeed I will only live once, but in this one life I may find that I can only jump in the river once and never know where I'll go. So I'd hope that make the right choice when I jump into the river...with my great friends and family...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

How we often trade off larger future benefits for much smaller short term ones

I just briefly read through a book in the library the other day titled, "Happiness around the world: the paradox of happy peasants and miserable millionaires" which is written by Carol Graham.

Basically there were research shared on what happiness is and this technical term 'hyperbolic discounting'. It explains the links between happiness and money, happiness and crime and a bunch of other themes.  It goes in-deth and draws these themes more and also offers suggestions on what actions can be done to change and improve happiness. I didn't get a chance to read it all but here were some key sentences caught my attention.

“Individuals often trade off much larger future benefits for much smaller short-term ones (hyperbolic discounting).  Due to this most developed economies have forced savings schemes – whether individuals accounts or pay-as-you go based- which are ultimately institutionalized mechanisms to get citizens to trade-off current consumption to save for their future retirement years"
  • This is one of the reasons countries have superannuation. Australia has superannuation and Singapore has what they call the CPF which follows a similar principle but each with its own benefits.

“[Charles and Anthony Kenny] define happiness as having three separate components: contentment, welfare, and dignity.”
  • Contentment with what we have, our general welfare and our pride/ dignity - having those in tact means we are happy. The example of happy peasants is used where they can be happier than a millionaire as they have these three catered for in their way of life.

“[For developed economies the] challenge is not extreme poverty but relative poverty, vulnerability, and inequality of income and opportunity.”
  • Very true, I don't believe many people are starving to death in a westernised country like Australia however they are struggling to hang in there, some even going by each day one day at a time - with no real personal outlook and feeling that there are opportunities out there for their own future. 
“Happiness literature shows that individuals adapt very quickly to income gains but less quickly to losses, and more to changes in income than to changes in status.”
  • This is true, it is always easy to gain something than to lose it. For a peasant to have an opportunity to experience a new way of life, having that expectation and personal experience of what it is really like having more money. It is much more difficult to stay happy when circumstances require them to live as they were before the change.

“High levels of inequality or low levels of social mobility, and related low expectations, can result in higher discount rates (and therefore more hyperbolic discounting) for those in the lower income ranks. This discounting can apply to areas such as public health as well as in the income realms, and may help explain why phenomena such as obesity are concentrated among lower income cohorts, at least in the developed economies.” 
  • An interesting insight into obesity and even smoking. I wonder if a comment made by an old colleague about chilli rings true here to?
Interesting insights into why some things have been set up the way they are to keep us happy, if only in the short term...

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Ladder of Young People's Participation

Someone once shared me some details about Roger Hart's Ladder of Young People's Participation. This is quite interesting model that can be used when you are thinking about young engagement. As it is a model that helps categorise and conceptualise where a particular organisation or community group are in engaging with young people.

The levels vary, and something that catches my attention the most is the notion of the 'Token youth'. This is where a young person may be added to the group for their opinions, but in reality are only there just so the group can say that they had a youth represented there. Or at times they might not feel engaged enough to be a true representative in the group...

This is great for seeing where young people currently fit in within a group and where and how you would like them to be involved. Of course, we can also apply this to other categories of individuals which can be involved such as the elderly involvement in a group.

So here's a copy of the ladder borrowed from, where they detail each of these levels or 'rungs' as they call it in more detail, where:

Rung 8: Young people and adults share decision making
Rung 7: Young people lead and initiate action
Rung 6: Adult-initiated, shared decisions with young people
Rung 5: Young people consulted and informed
Rung 4: Young people assigned and informed
Rung 3: Young people are tokenised*
Rung 2: Young people as decoration*
Rung 1: Young people are manipulated*

*Please note that the last three rungs are non-participation by young people.

This overall is adapted from Hart, R (1992). Children's Participation from Tokenism to Citzenship. Florence: UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Reward efforts than outcomes

I read this article the other day in the Straits Times which I found it an interesting read on motivation and how kids and people in general are motivated, I'd thought I'll share some key points from the article:

  • Autonomy and meaningful goals - We are at our best when we choose to work towards meaningful goals. 
"People focused on rewards miss out on the inner resources of intrinsic motivation and volition. We are most engaged and do our most creative work when we feel that we are acting according to our own will on behalf of goals we find meaningful."

  • Rewards are often given for outcomes rather than valued behaviour. Rewarding individuals does work but what we have to be careful is that individuals can often look towards the final outcome and may undertake unethical approaches to achieve the desired outcome. It's better to reward for efforts than the outcomes of efforts.
"A reward that acknowledges a great effort is more effective than one that is promised upfront for getting an A. Appreciation is always a better motivator than control".
  • Encouraging a child to do his or her best is enough - As this is not only supportive but may also help reduce anxiety which often can compromise performance.

  • Self-determination theory - These points are based on what makes people happy,  and  what makes people happy according to the self-determination theory, is that all humans have three basic psychological needs and these are: 
  1. The need to belong or feel connected
  2. The need to feel competent, and
  3. The need for autonomy or self-determination. 
"When those needs are satisfied, we're motivated, productive and happy. When they are thwarted, our motivation, productivity and happiness plummet"  

"Human beings have an innate drive to be autonomous, self-determined, and connected to one another. When these needs are met, the actions of people - be they students or employees - will be rooted not by short-term and inconsistent extrinsic motivation, but by sustaining, ingrained and habitual intrinsic motivation."

The article I read was titled, "Should you reward your child for A grades?" and is written by Sandra Davie on the 1st April 2012. It featured Profession Richard Ryan a clinical psychologist and professor of Psychology, Psychiatry and Education at the University of Rochester, New York, US.

You'll find the article here if you're interested in reading it, I'd say it's worth a read. Enjoy!

How children learn

I'd like to share this speech that reminds me of a book I read a while ago about 'How Children Learn', where the book was written by someone who was observing the way kids grow up. Essentially they discussed how children are naturally curious and creative, but what happens is that they are conditioned by society through their parents, school, community to begin to question the very thing that allows easy flow of creativity.

They fear mistakes, believe things that were before possible, now impossible and are educated to think differently than they would have as kids. Think about when you learn another language now, you may get words wrong then you won't try. Whereas kids try and try until they get it right, until they start to fear mistakes, at which point they stop learning as fast and being creative.

Ken Robinson captures this concept really well in this 2006 speech titled, 'Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity'.

How to set up your Ezlink enabled credit card in Singapore

The steps detailed below applies to users of Singapore's public transport system (buses, trains - MRT). It also is for individuals that have a Singapore credit card and is directed towards those with credit cards that can be used as an Ezlink card. This saves you from having to carry two cards with you and to make your wallet that little bit lighter.

I've just set up some basic instructions here as I found myself confused for a while on the Ezlink webpage, so you may find this overview useful. As among the offerings from Ezlink: EZ-Reload, EZ-Online, Top and Tap and a whole bunch of other things, EZ-Reload is the one that applies to turning your credit card into an Ezlink card that you can use in Singapore trains and buses. You can use this process just to setup your normal Ezlink card so it is charged up automatically by your credit card as well.

Some credit cards can also be used as an Ezlink card
Some cards do offer rebates (up to 7%) on charging up as well, and they are currently POSB Everyday Card, Citibank SMRT Card, and HSBC Revolution Card. But I'd say use whichever works best for you.

Before I go through the process though, please just check that you have everything you need:
  1. Confirm that your card is Ezlink enabled - Just quickly before I provide the exact details of the process I went through to set up my card, please just flip the credit card that you think is enabled. Have a look at the very bottom. It should have a CAN number and an Ezlink symbol somewhere. You'll need this CAN number for later.
  2. Check that you have your NRIC/ FIN and personal details ready - NRIC is a National Registration Identity Card and for foreigners can be an Employment Pass (EP), etc.
  3. A valid email address/ mobile number - This is as the application status and collection slip number will be sent to you via email/ sms.
  4. EZ-Reload amount - At the moment you have to go through whole process again (cancel and reapply) if you want to change this amount, so just think about whether you want to reload $20, $30, $40, or $50 for each auto reload. I'd say to help keep track more easily and to factor in the small admin fee that costs $0.25 for each auto reload, the more the better, but this depends on your personal habits. If you often lose things, it may be worth not loading up too much at once or even using this auto reload option at all.
Important note:
  • Any change in top-up amount or credit/debit card number (e.g. When your credit card expires) you need to deactivate the card and apply again. This is noted to take about 2 weeks to process. 
Steps to set up your credit card as the Ezlink card online (follow the term "Ez-Reload")
  1. Visit Ezlink's Ez-Reload webpage, (Right click to open link in a new window)
  2. Click here to apply for EZ-Reload today - Read the terms and conditions to see what applies to you. The main thing here is that only you use your card and you're aware of what to do when it expires.
  3. Click Ez-Reload by card - You'll be at the Ez-Reload page now - and assuming you're using a credit card, select the picture and link with the Ez-Reload by card.
  4. Click on I want to apply - You'll be able to read some more details here about the card. The main information I feel you need to know what is happens after you fill in the form Please feel free to read the FAQ if you want to as well.
  5. Click on I agree - After reading some more details about the card and after clicking I agree you'll get to choose your credit card type and then fill in the details about yourself and your card. The
    EZ-Reload amount you'll need to think about carefully as it'll take 2 weeks to process each time you want to change this one.
  6. Submit your application - It'll ask you to confirm your details with your bank. For my card I was asked to enter in an the OTP (One time authorisation) code that is sent to my phone. Now you wait.
Next steps:
  1. Wait for collection slip number to be sent via email/ sms  - I received a confirmation of my application email but the code via sms.
  2. Find a standard Ezlink card machine and activate - You do this by placing your card on the standard scanner.
  3. Select 'More services' 
  4. Select 'Activate EZReload'
  5. Enter collection slip number details - After entering you'll get a receipt.
  6. Use your card as a normal Ezlink card - Congratulations you've got it all set up now! Now your credit card will be automatically reloaded for you when it gets low. You have added credit card to your Ezlink card.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Even the little things count...

I remember receiving my surprise as I was happily given Christmas cards last Christmas from my fellow Lion club members and feeling the warmth and friendship that came with it. It reminded me of my good old primary school days when we gave these around to our friends and family and even made some cards ourselves.

These days, too often we find ourselves lost in our technology that often aren't able to find the time to do something so simple and memorable for someone else. I've even had a couple of Christmas cards mailed to my house and you don't realise how much of an effect it can have on others. So show your friends you care, perhaps it may be sending that little Christmas card or even a kind message sent in a letter via snail mail (the post) - as even the little things count...

Here's a nice quote I'd like to leave you with as well:
"There are many people who can do big things, but there are very few people who will do the small things." -  Mother Teresa

Quotes on learning

They say you never stop learning - so here's just some great quotes to remind you to continue to do so and where you find you never have time to read. Make some time to read!

"You will demand much of your teachers, but what you get is your responsibility" - William H. Armstrong

"How long do you put off thinking yourself worthy of the best of things... what sort of teacher are you still waiting for, that you put off improving yourself until he comes? You are not a [child] anymore, but already..full grown" -Epicetus

 "The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them." -Mark Twain

"There is no such thing as an interesting book, there are only interested readers" -Ralph Waldo Emerson

"The student who ignores rules and definitions is all too soon overcome by ideas that cannot be understood". - William H. Armstrong

"It matters, if individuals are to retain any capacity to form their own judgments and opinions, that they continue to read for themselves" - Harold Bloom

"Reading is to the mind, what exercise is to the body" - Joseph Addison

Friday, March 30, 2012

Gav's quotes on the Young Endeavour

These are some quotes from my Young Endeavour trip a couple of years ago, from the Captain Gav. Gav, I hope you don't mind me sharing this, I love quotes and I want share it with others who may not have been as lucky as we have to sail the seas.
This was an 11 day sailing voyage (though I have more days worth below...) ;)

You can read about that fun trip here - Young Endeavour post voyage log

Gav's quotes

Day 1
I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze that it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in a magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. I shall use my time - Jack London (but the question is doing what is it that is worth doing?)

Day 2
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do then by the things you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. EXPLORE. DREAM. DISCOVER. - Mark Twain.

Day 3
It is not the critic who counts,
nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, 
or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. 
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, 
whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, 
who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again;
 because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; 
but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, 
the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, 
who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, 
if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. 
So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls 
who know neither victory nor defeat. 
- Theodore Roosevelt

Day 4
Be not content with the commonplace in character any more than with the commonplace in ambition or intellectual attainment. Do not expect that you will make any lasting or very strong impression on the world through intellectual power without the use of an equal amount of conscience and heart. - William Jewett Tucker

Day 5
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. - Martin Luther King, Jr

Day 6
Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race. - Calvin Coolidge

Day 7
Do not pray for easy times; pray to be stronger. Do not pray for tasks equal to your power; pray for powers equal to your tasks. - John F. Kennedy

Day 8
A leader is best
When people barely knows he exists,
Not so good when people obey and acclaim him.
Worse when they despise him.
"Fail to honour people,
They fail to honour you"
But of a good leader who talks little,
When his work is done, his aim fulfilled,
They will say, "We did this ourselves"
-Lao Tzu, Chinese philosopher

Day 9
I went on a search to become a leader.

I searched high and low.

I spoke with authority; people listened.

But alas, there was one who was wiser than I,

And they followed that individual.

I sought to inspire confidence,

But the crowd responded, "Why should I trust you?"

I postured, and I assumed that look of leadership

With a countenance that flowed with confidence and pride,

But many passed me by and never noticed my air of elegance.

I ran ahead of others, pointed the way to new heights.

I demonstrated that I knew the route to greatness.

And then I looked back, and I was alone.

"What shall I do?" I queried.

"I've tried hard and used all that I know."

And I sad down and pondered long.

And then, I listened to the voices around me.

And I heard what the group was trying to accomplish.

I rolled up my sleeves and joined in the work.

As we worked, I asked, "Are we all together in what we want to do

And how to get the job done?"

And we thought together,

And we fought together,

And we struggled towards our goal.

I found myself encouraging the fainthearted.

I sought ideas of those too shy to speak out.I taught those who had little skill.

I praised those who worked hard.

When our task was completed, one of the group turned to me and said,

"This would not have been done but for your leadership."

At first, I said, "I didn't lead. I just worked like the rest."

And then I understood, leadership is not a goal.

It's a way to reaching a goal.

I lead best when I help others to go where we've decided to go.

I lead best when I help others to use themselves creatively.

I lead best when i forget about myself as a leader and focus on my group...

Their needs and their goals.

To lead is to achieve together.


Day 10
Many of our failures sweep us to greater heights of success, than we ever hoped for in our wildest dreams. Life is a successive unfolding of success from failure. - William George Jordan

Day 11
This life is the only one you're given
Look for opportunities to grow, and never be discouraged in your efforts to do so.
Don't measure the future by the past;
Let yesterday be a memory and tomorrow a promise
Begin each day by focusing on all that is good, and you will be able to handle whatever comes along.
Take responsibilities for your actions, and
never make excuses for not being the best that you can be.

Day 12
I here and I forget,
I see and I remember,
I do and I understand.
- Chinese proverb/ YC (Young Endeavour crewmember) Member Robin

Day 13
Flatter me, and I may not believe you,
Criticize me, and I may not like you,
Ignore me, and I may not forgive you,
Encourage me, and I will not forget you.
YC (Young Endeavour crewmember) member Loren 

Day 14
Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body,
But rather to skid sideways,
Chocolate in one hand,
Wine in the other,
Body thoroughly used up,
Totally worn out and screaming
"WOO HOO what a ride!" 
- Staffy (Young Endeavour term) Lisa Hickman

The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand. - Vince Lombardi

On studies and deadlines

Something someone once told me about my studies, though you can apply this to work, life, or anything that seems to have a deadline.

Think of your studies as yogurt or milk and close to the due date it starts to taste more and more dull. Sometimes you are lucky and it might not taste foul, but usually it does... 

Here's also a nice quote to leave you with:
"Deal with it before it is there; check disorder before it is rife. Deal with the hard while it is still easy, the great while it is still small" -Lao Tzu 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Living through the lives of others

You must learn from the mistakes of others. You can't possibly live long enough to make them all yourself. - Sam Levenson 

Very true, that must be why I love reading biographies and autobiographies. While these stories can be sometimes bias and show one perspective of how one has seen situations life, it offers you a new perspective on the world through their eyes as well as the observers eyes.

You learn what's important for them, some of the challenges they've faced and how they've dealt with them, some of the mistakes they've made as well as all their successes. All the things that make each and every one of us human. While many of the people you'll read about are quite famous, renowned, and you'll find your everyday friends, family, and even colleagues have achieved something special in their lives - whether big or small.

I think that's partly why I like hearing other people's stories, as it's always interesting to hear and feel the passion they have when they share their story. Everyone has a story to share, no matter where they are from and how underprivileged or privileged they are, there are challenges that we all face and I think feeling that connection in itself is special.

In a way, we can feel as through we live through others, and in return we can share our mark and hopefully that can inspire and guide each other.

So take the time to listen to the stories from others, not only their mistakes but their successes, and in that way you will find that you have lived not only your own life but also through the lives of your fellow people around you as well - as a person is a person through other persons...

You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist

You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.   - Indira Gandhi

I like this quote, it's a nice and simple message that you can picture. Very true indeed.

It makes me wonder if I open my palms when if I'm angry or upset about something whether I may feel different a bit like they say you should breath in and out deeply. Right now I'm testing this theory out while thinking about something that would make me angry and it does seem to work. Maybe I'm thinking too much about it right now but I'll be certain to test it out when I'm in a situation where angry emotions arise.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Is it easy to leave the rat race?

That's one question that has been in mind for a while. However with the constant demands that are required of us by our friends, our family, our colleagues, our society. It always seems difficult to do so.

Some say you create your own successful business, become wealthy and retire and that's the answer. But is that really it? Do we reallly always have to follow the money?

I have seen what money does to people and one thing I am eager to ensure is that my decisions are not lead by money, rather, I make my own decisions and whether money follows or not is a latter concern. I feel that as long as I cover my basic human needs I believe I would feel and be happy. But with so many others with a different mindset to my own, it can be challenging to see how that value and priority system can take hold. As it is quite easy to fall into the temptation and needing that next new thing (see wants vs needs post).

I always wonder at some of the experiences that I've been quite privileged to experience. My travels, opportunities, my great friends, family, and the like. Yet through it all, I feel as though there is more to life than meets the eye. I've spoken to many people and thought (i.e., that there is more to life than meets the eye and the way we're living it) perhaps it was the human instinct in most, if not all of us, but we often choose to ignore it because we get lost in the 'pressing matters' of today.

Even those so called 'pressing matters' of today seem as something that we in society have created for ourselves. I like to call it, a world that we have created for ourselves and if you've seen the movie - The Matrix, it's a world that keeps us happy - but in reality we actually are only been given our basic human needs to survive.

Because if you think carefully, in the caveman days, the only thing people worried about was food, family and friends within the tribe. Ensuring that the next meal was coming in, there was shelter and that there was enough for everyone.

Now we're worried about whether we get that report or assignment in in time, that we didn't get a raise, a promotion, that new toy, that new car, etc. Yet in places I've seen around in my travels, there are people that all that they worry about is ensuring that make enough for their next meals. That's it. Yet for us, we have fulfilled that hunger 'need', now we're busy focusing on fulfilling our 'wants'.

'Wants' that only keep a satisfied in lieu of the next 'want', the next 'want' and the next 'want'... And that's often why we all find ourselves in the rat race, yet I feel as though my life was and is not meant to be constrained within this way. So is there a way out?

I'm not too sure at the moment, as beyond this, can we truly find more meaning to our lives? I hope in time we'll all discover that answer...

Here's a nice quote to leave you with:
"Most people spend their whole lives climbing the ladder of success only to realize, when they get to the top, the ladder has been leaning against the wrong wall".- Stephen Covey

The internet as an extension of what you do

The internet is like alcohol in some sense. It accentuates what you would do anyway. If you want to be a loner, you can be more alone. If you want to connect, it makes it easier to connect. - Esther Dyson

The internet is an extension of what we do - This seems true, the internet does seem like an extension of what we do. And the way that's it's been so well integrated in our lives these days makes me wonder how much of my life is already in the net (internet).

The internet is another medium for our social networking - When you think about life outside the internet then you'll realise that the social networks we have in real life have only been continued and engaged in a different way in the internet. It is indeed a medium, a form, a method, a tool that we use to connect with others, some of course may not have stayed or reached out to otherwise.

If you watch this youtube clip that someone made, you'll see this in a quite simple explanation - Social Networking in Plain English,

So this continuation of our social networks keeps us connected or not as connected - depending on the extent that we use the tools available to us. As in real life relationships, how much we share, can also mean how much we get back. But at the same time there are risks that one learns and tries to manage as much as possible - in terms of privacy, security, etc.

As people though, our desire is to connect with others our tribal and instinctive desires, and that can make us vulnerable to ourselves and others and our need to feel worthy. However, we do decide to manage ourselves online though, what you'll find is that the internet will always be there as a tool that we can use to extend ourselves with the people around. If that is how we desire to represent ourselves (as some like to stay anonymous online).

So whether you want to stay connected and to what extent, will always be up to you - for it is a tool that can be used as an extension of what we do with others...

Why do we put our hands out when it's raining...

I'm just thinking about why we normally like to put out our hands when it's raining. I always find it bizarre, and I don't know if everyone feels it but I know  I just instinctively feel like I should hold my hand out whenever I see rain.

I guess it's the nice feeling of rain in my hands, as they say water means life - as trees, plants, and crops grow. Perhaps that's why? I like hearing the sound of rain drops so maybe it's because we each just feel and know that water will mean more life in our world. One could say the same with the sun being out.

It just makes me think about all the nice sayings that people have relating to the weather and how our environment plays a big part in our thoughts and how we need elements of it to live. I'll certainly be looking at phrases such as 'It's a nice day today' in a different light - and just thinking about how we each instinctively are relating it to it meaning life in our world...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Rejuvernating the brand

Something someone once told me about brands made me think about how much our minds can be somewhat simulated or tricked (for want of a better word).

Essentially when you think about a high profile brand on the market today like Maccas (Mc Donalds), Coke, Nike, what you'd actually find they'll be constanting doing is rolling out new styles, new burgers, new promotions, and what a business coach once told me, things that essentially rejuvenate the brand.

If you look carefully at Coke for instance, they have some many different variations and favours of Coke, but what you'll find is that while they do indeed sell say 5-10% of these variations such as Coke Vanilla, Coke Blueberry or whatever, essentially the main product line they'll predominately sell is the plain old original Coke.

So what does that say? What that says about the mindset of the consumer is that while Coke has all these new and great favours coming out, I like having the choice and knowing that there are other favours available. Sure I might try one one day, but at the end of the day I'm happy with my good old Coke.

As imagine if Coke had only been selling plain old Coke for the last 20-30 old years, would you still feel the same about waiting to drink that? Or would it feel outdated then?

All the youthful marketing, new styles and variations that come out, it's all there to give you that new feeling.

This is the same with all brands. Maccas does the same too, with Big Macs, Mc Chickens being the big sellers, but all these other promotional burgers helping to keep the menu looking fresh and not outdated.

I found this whole marketing concept interesting and true, so something to think about the next time you go to choose that Coke or new favour of Coke - Is Coke the one you really wanted to drink? Or is that too outdated for you now?

Even when nobody's there to appreciate it

The trouble with being punctual is that nobody's there to appreciate it.
  - Franklin P. Jones

It seems that so often that seems to be the case, not only relating to being punctual but also just doing things (a bit like that say with mum's housework is never done), when things are done, nobody seems to realise and be able to truly appreciate it.

It's true though that noone truly sees it, but I feel that at the end of the day, at the very least, you know and can appreciate your efforts yourself if you know you have truly worked hard to achieve something - even if indeed nobody has seen and appreciated it. I find that self satisfaction, and essentially doing something not necessarily for the sake of it being seen, but because it needs to be done and/or just gives satisfaction to oneself.

This links to one of my favourite quotes.
"If we only do what is required of us we are slaves, the moment we do more we are free" - Cicero 

So sometimes, whether we are required to do something or not, it's ultimately our free decision to decide if we'd like to. Even if noone else realises how much more we may have put into it, at least we know we did...for we are free!

Getting a visa in Bali - Indonesia

Here's just some brief tips and a general overview on Bali, which is an Indonesian island. When you book an airline ticket, it'll have the city, Denpasar Bali, Indonesia noted on your itinerary. Contrary to what I actually first thought, there seems to be no town in Bali called Bali, rather it is the entire island that is called Bali.

Anyway, I'm going to run you through what the visa process is currently like, and the exit procedures. They are building a new airport which looks set to be completed in the next few years. It'll be a very modern airport compared to the present one, so it'll be exciting to see how that finishes.

I'll also be detailing some of the places around Bali that you can check out and some things you can do.

I won't bore you with the steps taken for me to get on the plane towards Bali, rather I'll focus on what you do when you're in Bali and leaving it. (please click on the tag 'travel tips' to read about departing/ entering Singapore Changi airport).

  1. Enter Denpasar airport from plane
  2. Turn left and buy a Visa on Arrival (VOA)* - After disembarking off the plane, you will need to buy a Visa-On-Arrival (it is currently 25 USD). This gives you 30 days in Indonesia and they will give you a receipt for this.
  3. With receipt wait in line to enter Bali (immigration) - This will be on your right, and you'll see big signs there. Here they will view your receipt, check and stamp your passport. I actually skipped step 2 and ended paying the immigrations officer a little bit more for the visa. But if you're traveling for work and to get a receipt, you go through the right procedure as described in step 2.
  4. Collect baggage from your plane
  5. Go through customs and security - I don't remember taking off my belt here, so you just put your luggage into the conveyer belt and it'll go through the security scanner.
  6. You are in Bali! - Congratulations you are in Bali!
*Visa On Arrival (VOA) varies depending on where your passport is from. Please check website to see if you're eligible for a VOA.

Visitors from some SEA (South East Asian) countries do not need visas are as follows: Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Hong Kong SAR (Special Administration Region), Macao SAR, Malaysia, Maroco, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Equador.

In Bali
There are quite a few places to go to in Bali depending on your interests and tastes. Everywhere you go you'll get asked if you'd like a massage and if you need a taxi. You'll see rice fields everywhere and can hire a motorbike (my favourite thing there!). Common tourist places are the beach area (Kuta, Seminyak), mountains (Ubud). But I'd recommend a cycling tour or what they seem to love doing there is whitewater rafting - be mindful of the time of year you go though as the waterfalls can be too easy.

Cravings seen while whitewater rafting near Ubud, Bali
You can pay to jump onto a boat and head off to some not so traveled places as well. You can choose a slow boat or fast boat there where I believe the difference is between 12 hours for the fast boat and 3-5 hours for the slow - basically faster is probably better.  Here you can check out islands like Gili and Lombak which I hear are the places to go!

Prices: Similar to Vietnam, prices are often quoted in local currency (Indonesia Rupiah or USD). So here are some rough prices:
  • 50,000 rupiah (equivalent to $5 USD) a day - hire a motorbike - Tip - bargain so you get insurance included.
  • 4,500 rupiah - for a litre of petrol - gets you very far!
  • 250,000 rupiah (approx.) taxi from Kuta to Ubud/ Ubud to Kuta
  • 50,000 rupiah - shuttle bus from Kuta to Ubud/ Ubud to Kuta (Bus company is called: Peramatour)
Monkey mountain, Ubud, Bali

Leaving Bali
  1. Security check - This is the first airport like this, but before being able to check in. You'll have to go through a security check and you'll need to have your passport and boarding pass to go it. This is a time to say goodbye to friends and family that are not traveling with you.
  2. Check in - Check in as per usual.
  3. Pay departure tax (exit fee) - Again, this is the first airport I've been too that has this. You'll go through these booths where you'll pay 150k Indonesia Rupiah. You'll get a receipt and sticker for this which is attached for your ticket. It's generally advisable to have the right change here, though I do believe they can provide some change.
  4. Immigration - You go through immigrations now providing your passport, boarding pass and the receipt for the exit fee.
  5. Find gate entrance - Walk around and find your boarding gate.
  6. Security check - Go through a security check where you'll need to show your passport and ticket.
  7. Get to the gate waiting area - You'll find yourself in a waiting area which normally more than one gate. For example, gates 1, 2, 3 waiting area.
  8. Go to the gate when calling for boarding
  9. Board flight home or onwards
 I hope you have fun! :)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

World Economic Forum - Global Risks 2012

There's an interesting online report available from the World Economic Forum - Global Risks 2012 (Seventh Edition), where you can read about current global risks within these five areas - economic, environmental, geopolitical, societal and technological risks.

This is available to read online at: and is where you'll find that they go into these into these five areas more detail, including what they define as 'risk clusters' such as the water-food-energy nexus and the global illicit economy.

There's also some case examples into what's happening in the world at the moment, these are:

  • Seeds of Dystopia (which is referring to critical fragile states)
  • How Safe are our Safeguards? (which is referring to current regulations)
  • The Dark Side of Connectivity (which is referring to possible cyber attacks, viruses, etc.)

While they do discuss risks, one thing to remember that 'through every challenge there is always an opportunity'. So while they do mention that 'no single country, region, sector or industry is likely to be able to confront or prevent on their own', what it does mean is that there is an opportunity for our global communities to become closer together as work towards reducing the risks that we all share.

The power of vulnerability and feeling worthy

As usual, I've been inspired by another TED talk (I love TED talks!) . This one that really hits the spot with some of my recent thoughts on the meaning of life and how we each live. 

This was presented by Brene Brown on "The power of vulnerability" and how we each need to feel worthy to connect with ourselves and others. It's quite interesting and definitely worth the time to watch.

Here is a summary of key highlights and messages that I found from her speech:
  • We fear being disconnected from others - Connections are part of who we are as humans and we strive to stay connected with others. We often feel shame and fear when we feel that we may become disconnected from others. 
  • We have to allow ourselves to be seen - To be seen lets us build that connection with others and often means that we may find ourselves 'excruciatingly vulnerable’ showing ourselves (you could say the spirit behind the ego).
  • To be worthy is to believe you are worthy (Worthiness) - People who believe they have a sense of worthiness and belonging also believed they were worthy.

  • We often try to:
    • We often try to make the uncertain certain
    • We often try to be perfect – This applies to ourselves and even our children – where we can often hard wire them to struggle. When really we should be telling them that yes that are imperfect, but you are worthy of loving and belonging
    • We often try to pretend – We pretend that what we do doesn’t have an affect on other people. When we should say that we are sorry, and this is what we’ll do to fix it.

  • What we should try do is:
    • We have to let ourselves be seen
    • We have to love with our whole hearts – even if it means that we are seen
    • We have to practice gratitude and joy - particularly in moments of terror and uncertainly, where we should remember that to feel vulnerable is to feel that I’m alive.
    • We need to believe that we are enough (i.e. ‘I am enough’) - Where we can stop screaming and start listening and be kinder to the people around us.

  • What people who felt worthy had in common was that they had:
    • Courage (cour – means heart) – They had the courage to be able to tell their story with their heart.
    • Compassion – They had the compassion with themselves and that allowed them to be compassionate with others.
    • Connection – To have a connection, they needed to be willing to let go of who they thought they should be, in order to be who they truly are.
    • Vulnerability – They believed that ‘what made them vulnerable made them beautiful’, and they felt that this was necessary. Especially as what people can often do is numb feelings of vulnerability through addictions (such as alcohol, drugs), but what that does is numb everything – the good and the bad, not just the bad things. Numbing everything means that the good is lost and that can put one into a bad cycle.

So we have the courage to allow ourselves to be seen even if it means we are vulnerable. To do so allows us to have compassion to connect with ourselves and others.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Kind words though kind itself can become much more than you realise...

I once shared some kind words to someone, more as a thank you than anything for pretty much spending the time with me to go through my graduate job search application. 

This was years ago, but I remembered how passionate she had been in her work and how much feedback and support she offered me in developing the tools I need to find a job, i.e., my CV and cover letter. It'd been a while and I was looking through my old emails saw our old conversations and I just sent an email saying thank you and to let her know I was doing well now. 

As she was a careers adviser, and most of the time while they do provide students with career guidance and advice, they often rarely hear back from them again. However, I'd thought I would update her on what was happening and little did I know but she had a very busy and challenging time that week, and it was my little email that seemed to made her week and lifted up her spirits. 

While I hadn't received  the response I'd been expecting to be getting (just a small your welcome and glad to hear you're doing alright response), but it seems that without even realising it, my kind words meant more to her and at the right moment. So even if you haven't heard and/or spoken to someone for a while, what can mean all the world to them and inspire them at the right moment can be some kind words. Kind, simple words of encouragement you could say. 

So share your kind words and thank those around you and I hope you all well - Enjoy your day! - Vu :)

Ego and the spirit

A while ago I went on a few youth and leadership camps and I remember discussions about what was identified as the ego and the spirit, and how our spirit seems to be at times suppressed by our ego.

A bit like kids not having filters and believing anything is possible, we generally find ourselves hiding our true spirit behind our ego. Like an egg, we shield ourselves with the ego around us with the spirit hidden inside, sometimes the spirit is free, other times it's not.

Often, we do this subconsciously, and consciously with our general fears on how we feel how things would be perceived by people around us, for not being accepted and you could say, of who we really are. Most of us deep down are quite scared of being vulnerable and we tend to hide behind our egos because of that, it makes us more comfortable. The ego and the spirit is often something they teach about in karate and boxing.

One of the activities we did on the leadership camp was to imagine myself as a two year old again and just do whichever and whatever I felt like doing. And we would feel comfortable as everyone else around uswas doing it too, as it's okay to be a kid at times. Even today I still find hills to roll down and run under trees to catch leaves but that's me...

I can't say I do it all the time, I can't do it if I'm in a suit for instance, but perhaps the next time you are aware that your ego might be in the way of your true spirit then it's something to think about. So go and find your hill and roll down it and let your spirit free... who knows you might even decide to do it in that new suit/ dress of yours... haha have fun! :)

Here's also a couple of nice quotes to leave you with:

"As long as you have to defend the imaginary self that you think is important, you lose your peace of heart. As soon as you compare that shadow with the shadows of other people, you lose all joy, because you have begun to trade in unrealities and there is no joy in things that do not exist." - Thomas Merton

"Many [people] ... never become the [person] who is called for by all the circumstances of their individual lives. They waste their years in vain efforts to be some other [person]... For many absurd reasons, they are convinced that they are obligated to become somebody else.. They wear their minds and bodies in a hopeless endeavour to have somebody else's experiences or write somebody else's poems or express someone's else's spirituality." - Thomas Merton

Teach as you would like to be taught

In one of my past lives I was a swim teacher and one of my student of mine said once to me that I am "an awesome swim teacher" (Student Gemma), but I wondered how?

My thoughts were that perhaps I try to make things fun, made sure that my students near the basics and then advanced to the more challenging aspects of a swimming style. I wanted to make them feel involved, a part of something and most of all I wanted them enjoy the experience and prepare them for the real thing one day - the ocean.

As every teacher as their own style and approach to teaching I think the central theme for my teaching is I taught how I would like to be taught if I was learning how to swim myself. I thought about how it would be received on their side as a student, i.e. putting myself in their shoes. So my technique to teaching is to teach as you would like to be taught. 

A capitalist only when it's convenient?

A while ago I met a bloke at a laundry mat. We were just chatting around our local community and the conversation moved to the economy and the capitalist system that we live in.

He was discussing how it wasn't that bad living in a dictatorship (he was from Iraq), as things were quite fair in terms of prices for things, where they generally were limits placed on how much you could price something as a storeowner, so as a buyer you knew exactly how much you ought to be paying for something.

That sounded quite reasonable, when he mentioned the example of buying tomatos for say $1 a kg, where you'd expect to pay the same everywhere else you go. There won't be any ridiculous pricing like $7-8 a kg for the same thing. The same thing with petrol and all other basic items. The way it is set up is so that the storeowner can make a living, and buyers can buy what they need. That seemed fair.

Of course this is only one aspect of the overall system, as wealth is distributed in a different way and many decisions on what happens around you are set by someone else. So what's set may not be entirely be in the best interest of all and/or a few. But for me, I'd need to understand and learn about the pros and cons of such a system as I'm sure there is more to it then meets the eye.

But during our conversation he made a comment about capitalism and how people are generally only a capitalist when it suits them, and he how people took advantage of others when it was convenient for them. He then mentioned the global financial crisis as an example.

So what struck me was that very comment, people are generally only a capitalist when it's convenient for them? Is that true? Who are these people? You and me? I hope to learn more about this from examples of how it might be so, so please feel free to share your thoughts and stories if you have some.

Be the person you want to follow

I always wonder whenever I hear someone talk about how someone is a great leader. How inspiring they can be, and what great qualities that they possess. Am I a good leader?

It makes me think about what makes a leader and what qualities should a leader possess? Qualities such as courage, charisma, integrity, communication, and the list can go on.

But I believe what we want to see in a leader are the qualities we aspire towards, and that's how I feel about leaders and role models that I admire. They generally possess a certain quality that motivates you to want to push yourself in a certain way. Think Bruce Lee for example. He may not be alive today, but the symbol of the things he represented still remain with us today - through his movies, clips, and things written about him. He is seen as a symbol of peace, strength and that is what I aspire towards and admire.

Each of us are leaders in some way, whether formally or not, and whether we realise it or not. We are leaders when we lead our friends, our family, with our very thoughts and ideas of what we would like and should do in our day-to-day lives.

So the qualities that I believe we seek in our leaders are those we have or aspire to, so perhaps the answer to whether you are good leader comes down to whether you believe you are living the values and qualities that you truly admire. Be the person you want to follow, because at the end of the day. That's who is truly inspiring you to be who you are today...

Monday, January 9, 2012

One never notices what has been done; one can only see what remains to be done

"One never notices what has been done; one can only see what remains to be done"  - Marie Curie

You're always working, working hard at work, taking care of those calls, dealing with those customers. 

Yet whenever your manager sees you, it seems like you're not doing anything? Sound familiar? It seems that there are so many times that you complete so many tasks, yet all that is seen is what you still need to do. 

They always catch you at the wrong moment, when you are taking that little break just to check your phone, your mail, etc. The focus should be what you have done and what you will do, but sometimes it seems that that is never really seen.

So what do you do? Documenting your tasks doesn't seem to be the answer? What else? That I don't know the answer to, but please feel free to share your thoughts if you do have some suggestions.

I believe what you can do is manage the perceptions on as what you are doing and what you've seen to be doing is important. Hopefully that's enough and you can still have those short little breaks in-between your busy schedules!

How can I do this?

Someone mentioned this to me the other day and I'd thought it was interesting to see it from this perspective. It's about the way we think about the problems around us.

When we confront a problem or a task we often think to ourselves, "can I do this?" Whereas present this same problem or task to a child and the response you may get instead is "how can I do this?"

A child asks - How can I do this?
An adult will ask - Can I do this?

Too often, we challenge problems or a task with the thought, can I? Whereas, the question of how we should be asking. It may be because as adults society has seemed to have taught and conditioned us to think that way, and we may be lazy and have lost the enthusiasm and general thought process to actually want to find a way to make things work and instead just brush it off. As kids don't have filters and they believe.

So next time you experience a new problem or task, instead of asking "Can I?" ask "How can I do this?"

Fun calculator age trick

Here's a neat little trick you can do to surprise people you know using their age. Someone surprised me with it, so I'd thought it was worth sharing with you so you can play around with it too. 

What you'll need:
  • a calculator. 
Steps to fun

  1. Ask your friend how old they are? 
  2. Enter their age into your calculator and multiply it by 259 and by 39 (i.e., age x 259 x 39
  3. Say their age is 30, then 303030 will pop up.
  4. Sounding surprised, tell them how cool it is that their age is popping up three times! 

The secret behind this is you multiply any number by 10101 and you'll get that a similar result with whatever age you have entered. 259 x 39 = 10101. 

Have fun! :)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

How to get your first Employment Pass (EP) in Singapore

First of all, welcome to Singapore! 

Here’s an overview of the steps that I took in order to obtain my EP (Employment Pass) in Singapore, after moving here from Australia. It's been over a couple of months since I got my EP now, but I found one of the most difficult things was just finding the place to register and collect my EP!

How to get your first Employment Pass EP in Singapore
  1. Employer fills in application form - Your employer fills in the application form with you to apply for your EP. This can be done online or manually on paper. Applying online is the fastest option.
  2. Wait - This can take a while to process and can take up to five weeks.
  3. In-Principle Approval letter provided - An In-Principle Approval letter will be mailed to the employer if the Employment Pass application has been approved. 
  4. Apply to collect the Pass - Your employer will need to apply for you to then collect your pass, which includes the payment and a Notification Letter. 
  5. Register for an appointment online - You will need to register to book an appointment online at
  6. Employment Pass Services Centre -  When you have an appointment all set up you can arrive to present your documents and collect your pass in person (directions below). When you arrive there will be someone there ready to greet and guide you to collect a waiting number for you to see someone. You don't need to wait for your exact booking time to collect this waiting number, you can pick up a waiting number as soon as you arrive and if they're not too busy you can actually be served before your assigned booking time. 
  7. At the Employment Pass Services Centre counter - They will take your documents (see below for Documents to bring) and ask you to scan your fingerprints (mainly your thumb) into the system. You'll find this thumbprint useful if you ever need to enter/leave Singapore at their electronic gates - as you will be able to use the Enhanced Immigration Automated Clearance System (eIACS) lanes using just your fingerprint. In terms of the EP card, they will let you know when your card will be ready as you will need to come back to pick it up another day.
  8. Wait 2-3 days - Pick up your Employment Pass (EP) card at the same place (different section at the centre) when it's ready. Well done, you're now officially allowed to work in Singapore!

Where is the Employment Pass Services Centre?
Finding the place I found one of the most challenging, as the process itself although timewise can take a while, is generally quite straightforward. So this is where you pick up your employment pass:

The Employment Pass Services Centre
The Riverwalk
20 Upper Circular Road, #04-01/02
Singapore 058416

View Larger Map

There's a map provided at:
Here's the link to Google Maps as well. It's the block between the river and Upper Circular Rd.

The best way to get there is head to Clarke Quay MRT station (train station - coded NE5), where you will come out of a shopping centre called the "Central". Once there you just need to cross the road (Eu Tong Sen St and New Bridge Road - note they have a street name for each direction the traffic is going), and you cross the road by going over an overpass or pedestrian crossing.

Stick to the river if you get lost and look for a building called "The Riverwalk". It may not look like it at first if you're not taking the lift (elevator) and instead taking escalators, but the EP processing centre is at one of the top levels.

If you find yourself near a building that has different colour wooden windows then you're on the wrong side of the river. Make sure you're on the side with Central and you should see The Riverwalk walk nearby too.

Documents to bring
  • Employment Pass application form and/or In-Principle Letter
  • Notification Letter
  • Your educational documents such as a copy of your education degree/ certificates and past employment testimonials
  • Passport sized photograph (passport-sized and taken within last three months) - they generally want one with a clear white background as they scan the photo in. There is a local passport photo store nearby that does it for SGD $6 if your photo is not suitable.
  • Personal particulars page of applicant’s passport/travel document - i.e., your passport and current visa travel document. (e.g. Immigration White Card)

You can take "People out of the system, but it's harder to get the system out of the people"

You can take "people out of the system, but it's harder to get the system out of the people".

This was an interesting thought that I came across, and made me think about the general thoughts that people held within a community, particularly when it comes to social change.

As that thought itself made me think about how one individual might be able to free themselves from a particular system - if it isn't doesn't work for them, then they can change themselves. Yet if they try change the system for all, this will prove to be a difficult challenge. Because if people do not see the personal value of change themselves, then they will generally be unwilling to support it. It may be as they may not know of anything better and the question must always be asked - is it truly better for them?

People generally dislike things that are different, and things that require them to change. As being able to understand why things might be different, why they should change is something that needs to be understood. If it's a system they're used to and seem to have everything built around it, why would they want to change? Particularly those benefiting from the way the system works.

Those social movements that are happening now are instances where the system is finding it's way out of the people, and in turn is taking the unwanted people and/or elements out of the system. It seems that educating  and making them feel like they're apart of something is what is bringing the system out of the people.

So what's happening is the system is coming out of the people, and in turn certain people who lead that system are put out of the system. Rather than the other way around. An interesting view into the social changes that is occurring now.

Our close friendships

A friend of mine mentioned a while ago about the number of friends that you can really maintain good close relationships. I never really thought about it too much as I believe the number will vary depending on the person, but I came across an article on it again recently so it'll be good to look at it again.

So it was an evolutionary anthropologist, Professor Robin Dunbar from Oxford University, that had said that this number is 150 (also known as "Dunbar's number") is based on his research into the number of trusted relationships we can maintain throughout our life. This is our 'cognitive limit' (mental limit), which makes sense as it reminds me of one of my favourite quotes where we can't always do everything, but we can always do something. As our friendships generally weaken when we may not have been in interacted with the one another for a while, and we can only really interact well up to a certain extent. He further points out that often these are people are generally physically close to us to give us that sense of community, which makes sense as it's easier to stay in touch more intimately with those closer to you.

In a time of globalisation and greater connections, I wonder what that number would be like for each of us, whether it is indeed the 150 (actually 148 but rounded up) that Dunbar number refers to, but that debate can go on forever...

Either way, I think the main benefit of his research is that it helps us understand that while we may try to have as little or as many friends as possible, eventually there is only so much close relationships you can have. I'm sure everyone has their own ideals, thoughts and personalities which all play a part in how many people we tend to stay in contact with.

So what I believe we can each do now is ensure that we look at focusing our efforts on creating quality relationships rather than worrying how the quantity (i.e., the number) of relationships we may have. So keep those relationships going with those you'd like to continue to remain in contact with.