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Do we still teach Technical studies at our secondary schools? 

I wonder why during my time they "teach" us Metal and Wood works? Its not as if we are going to be blacksmiths or carpenters later on in life...

I think it would be better if they taught us simple DIY electrical and plumbing instead!

At least I won't feel so helpless at home compared to my Swedish colleagues - they can install their own plumbing and electrical wirings at their summer homes!?

Well, it least I know how to change the light bulb in the toilet!

So I'm not totally useless...



Have you ever had a bad experience with your husband or dad when he tried to do plumbing repairs at home?

The more he tries to "help", the more costly and messier it gets! 

Especially when he "capitulates" and finally calls in the pros to "undo" the damage he has made worse...



So next time you have a plumbing emergency, call an experienced plumber in Singapore instead:


Plumbers-singapore.com



You don't even have to say Singapore Man of Leisure sent you. Wink.









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And I thought volatility for today would come from the trade war tariffs... Plus the Non-Farm Payrolls tonight since I'm more into forex in recent years.

Not everyday we see STI component stocks swan dived -10% to -15% right?

And you thought big cap stocks can't behave like penny stocks... (There's a reason why I prefer to use big caps instead of blue chips to pigeon-hole stocks. I believe in the power of words to influence our minds)



In forex, after living through the EUR/CHF (Euro/Swiss) policy change by the Swiss Central Bank not to defend its floor (when it previously reassured the market it would) several years ago - where several foreign forex brokers went belly up - I had the fear of policy changes beaten into me.

(I benefitted from the above as I was in the EUR/USD pair. Although I made money, it was pure dumb luck as it could easily have been the other way round)
   


For equities, we say don't fight the Fed.

For Singapore properties, I guess if you didn't already know, you don't fight big daddy.

Its not new. Just ask veteran property speculators.



Remember my Chiang Mai vacation post about rental bikes being an eyesore?

Well, the policy change by big daddy some months later didn't come as a surprise to me. Wink.  



If all you did was to listen to vested interests telling you better buy property now or else... I guess studying past big daddy decisions on property boosting and cooling measures can be healthy to your pockets...

Investors like Singapore because of stability

You figure out why.







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Some stories and passages we've read we remember even though the author and book title we have long since forgotten...

My recent "missing-in-action" episode has reminded me of this story I've read during my late 20s. Yet, I've no clue where I read it from!

Its about this watch seller in Holland during the 1930s.  

His friend, whom he has not seen for a decade or more, came visiting his shop one day. 

The watch seller decided to close his shop early that afternoon to have coffee with his friend.

Surprised, his friend asked whether the watch seller has a business to run?

The watch seller smiled and replied his friend one of the reasons he started a business for himself is to have greater control of his time. 

What's the point of having a business if one cannot take an afternoon off to have coffee with a friend?



Well, I guess I didn't take an afternoon off...

I took 6 weeks off!

LOL!

You can say I had my June holidays! 



No, its not a girl or woman.

But I am still glad I have the time to be able to spend time on this interesting "distraction". 



Some of you may know how I feel. Especially those of you who remember those carefree days of schooling before you started work. Skip classes anyone?

Now?

Work, family, and social commitments... 

Earn and make a lot; no time for unplanned distractions.

How to live in the moment when everything has to be scheduled and allocated way in advance into the future?



My distraction has faded away like the summer rain.

I'm back to where I were.

Nothing has changed.

Only memories remain.



One thing I've discovered.

Blogging is not a chore.

Neither is it a business.









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Every once in a while, this nature versus nurture question will pop up.

Most of the time, the heated discussions often are merely "talk male-chicken" in nature, with no consequences to your daily lives.

You know what? 

I was asked this question in a job interview when I were 25.

Its for a recruiter position at a global insurance giant.

What's a recruiter? 

Its to recruit, train, and coach insurance snake-oils to sell for the agency. Its a shepherd position. Wink.



Sitting across the desk is the interviewer. Young man in his late 20s.He is the typical Teochew "pui nei nei" (chubby), fair and educated looking type.  

Behind him sits a "chow ah beng" ( face you like to punch) looking man in his 40s. Dark like 非洲华侨 (African). Oily face full of craters like the moon. Very rude. The whole time reading his notes. Ignored me. I am guessing he is the boss of the agency.


The "pui nei nei" interviewer asks, "Are salesman born or trained?"

"They are born," I replied with a straight face.


The "chow ah beng" boss finally stops his reading, looks up at me. I've got his attention.

The interviewer turned back to give his boss an expectant look that tells me I must be the only one who gave them a different answer. Great! Half the battle won...


"Why? And what's the point of us recruiting you then?" The interviewer continued.

"An unpolished diamond looks exactly like an unpolished glass bead.

Training is the act of polishing the stones. 

A polished glass bead will outshine an unpolished diamond.

But no matter how much I polish any glass beads, it will never outsparkle a polished diamond!"



How?

Do you think I got the job?








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It happened to Japan. 

Although after trying change, it quickly went back to the tried and tested - same old, same old. 



It happend to Taiwan too. 

Flip flop like roti prata. Very messy; but all so very entertaining!

But did anything changed for the better? 



It happened to Myanmar also.

And then its heard no more... (Strange or not?)



Someone in America did promise change. Yes we can!

He is considered black by the world, but in Singapore he would be considered "white".

(Its better to be the one who writes the rules, no?)

Now someone with funny hair has taken over from him and undoing all the previous "yes we can" changes...

Well, that's "democracy" for you!



60 years not a short time. Now its history...

In politics, there are no permanent friends; and there are no permanent enemies.

Former mentor and protege had become enemies, and now back into an alliance together.

It would be interesting to see promises made when there were a common enemy will be honoured once the common enemy is no more...

And if the promise is honoured, talk about success is what we have to sacrifice to achieve it!

All those years in and out of prison...

Respect.



I'll bet someone is taking notes. 

Next time want to appoint just appoint. Let's not get into that farce ever again... 

Anyone with half a brain all knew what you were up to. It's like trying to hide a balding head with comb over - who's kidding who?


We certainly are living in interesting times!

With so many regime changes in recent years...

Its almost like in the 60s where former colonial countries broke away and became fully independent sovereign states who can finally chart their own destinies.








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Sometimes, we hear of so and so dropped out of school to pursue an acting or singing career after that person got sudden fame due to winning a talent contest.

Of course there will be concerned parents and "friends" that will say better to finish school first...


Its the same if you want to quit work to be an entrepreneur...

How can you start just like that?

Got money? Got do market research? Got business plan? How about Vision? Mission Statement? (Notice its all about "parroting" theories they have learnt? Sounds smart but empty words) These are the "planners" that surround you. They have got their lives all worked out in advance. Cross the t's and dot the i's.



Eh, how often do opportunities come in our lives?

Never heard of make hay when the sun shines?

Hit iron when its still hot? 



I think you know what I'll quote next. Wink.

Yup, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg all never finished their university education. You mean when an opportunity of a lifetime drops on your lap, you'll turn it down?

"Sorry, I need to stick with my study hard and work hard goals and plans first."

"Cannot! First, I need to secure an emergency fund. Then I need to build up a bigger opportunity fund. Very risky to borrow money for startups you know!? Then I also need another recovery fund so that in case my startup venture fails, I'll have capital to start all over again..."


Moving the goal posts procrastination masquerading as "sound planning".



Then there are those who "do".

Plans and goals will flow naturally when we have jumped into the deep end. Paddle hard or drown! Now that's clarity and sense of urgency for you!

LOL!

Of course many will fail. 



You mean setting goals and plans come with money back guarantees? Like "bao jiak" durians?



I've missed many opportunities through procrastination and over thinking.

Luckily, I've grabbed hold of some and here I am. Lucky as lucky does!



I've learnt life is more about the decisions you have or have not made. 

Decision is "do". Make no mistake about it.

That's why so many dare not make decisions on their own. 

Its more comforting to seek permission, to ask for consensus.

Got someone to blame if things don't work out mah!



And by the way, I just know that school and work are always there if we failed and need to go back to them.

That's comforting, isn't it?








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Introduce competition!

When Uber first came to Singapore, you were glad didn't you? What's not to like with all the discounts you were getting from normal cab fares?

When Grab joined into the fray, life couldn't get any better, wasn't it?

Now that Uber has capitulated and abandoned the Singapore market, all of sudden people were writing to big daddy to monitor against monopoly and what not!?

As if ComfortDelgro never was a "quasi-monopoly" in the first place...

Deep down you know the days of generous Grab discount codes are numbered...


Similarly, to entice you to switch from traditional credit cards to mobile payments, they have to dangle cash rebates as carrots to your nose. Once these landowners have achieved sufficient scale in customer acquisition, the milking (or monetisation) of their acquired flock will take over.

Just look at how credit card companies were able to increase interest rates, late payment charges, and other fees at will... Well, someone has to pay for the "free" miles and cash rebates, "ah ber then"?


Same goes for mobile telecoms and the internet. Introduce more players into the oligopoly market, all of sudden, consumers got lots of choices at even more competitive prices!


Let's hope the test in Jurong West for electricity liberalisation will be a success. Then all of us will have more options, and lower electricity prices to offset the increased in water prices!




As sheep or shepherd working for landowners, at the back of your head, you know your "value" would increase if more competitors enter into our Singapore market.

Remember the short lived experiment with a 2nd TV operator as in Channel U? Now we need 2 CEOs, 2 CFOs, more producers, more soundmen, more cameramen; etc.

Its not unheard of some amongst those who "defected" to Channel U got double or triple promotions! Want to bet those working now in SPH wished there were more "competition"?


If you are working in the banking industry, even if your bank were not affected, you'll feel the pressure when other banks withdrew from Singapore or cutback on their headcounts...

You know there will be more retrenched and experienced bankers knocking on your HR door.... That may erode your bargaining power end of the year....




As a landowner, if you are sick of paying exhorbitant manpower costs, what would you do?

Automation is one answer:

Driverless MRT trains - you extrapolate from here.

Self ordering and payment machines at cinemas, supermarkets, fast food outlets...

Robo advisors - sorry, I couldn't stop laughing...

I was pleasantly surprised to discover recently that Singapore is currently No.1 in the world when it comes to using robots!?

I had assumed it would be Japan!


However, not every job can be automated. We still need Man Fridays and Girl Fridays.

So don't hold your breath.

10 million will come whether you like it or not.

Unless you are OK with paying even higher prices.




That's the great paradox.

We welcome competition as we benefit from it ultimately. When it comes to our jobs, we much prefer it to be a monopoly!








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有因,就有果。

但我们就是喜欢不用动脑,不用费体力,不用花时间。。。

就有果。




捡现成有什么不好?

那跟买 Toto 有什么不同?




运气比努力更重要?

不要看我。

我是靠一张嘴混下来的!







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Americans are great at "inventing" a lot of marketing bullshit.

So much so that if you didn't know better, you would have believed Americans were the ones who "invented" marketing!

OK, I'll concede that the modern marketing concept is popularised by the Americans. What to do? Your first marketing textbook is probably from Philip Kotler!



To encourage working parents to spend more time at work and feel less guity about it, what do you do?

Introduce the concept of "Quality Time" of course!

Come on!

Deep down you know its bullshit!

If it did work, why are we now talking about Work/Life balance?

Pause and reflect for a bit. Wink.

You want "Quality Time" or Work/Life balance?



Remember that time you got a school prize or fantastic grade for a test and you rushed home eager to tell your parents? They weren't home... How you felt?

You had your first kiss or someone held your hand for the first time. You can't wait to tell your best friends! How you feel if they practiced "quality time" on you?

The concept of best friend forever is someone who always have the time for you right? Not tell you to make an appointment first...

Those who own pets knew this already; they are always there for you. Pets can be more "loyal" than people "tio boh"?



I am closest to my Ah Ma when it comes to family ties. She was always there for me ever since I can remember. We did things together before I started school. And when I started primary school, she was ofen visited me during canteen breaks.

I still remember crying for Ah Ma during her 2 visits back to Mainland China when mom punished me for being naughty. Yes, Ah Ma always shielded me whenever I got a beating from mom!

Yes, I still visit Ah Ma at Mount Vernon from time to time without prompting from anyone, or waiting for a reason like "Ching Ming". I always visit her during my returns to Singapore when I were working overseas.

Next time you study or work overseas, and you return to Singapore for holiday, who you spend time with you'll know who matters. Yah, track and measure your finances you do, track and measure the time you spend with people that matters you forget... 



You think why Singaporeans try to travel overseas together as a family once or twice per year? That's the best excuse for "Quality Time"!

Its probably the only time you all have the chance to be physically together. That's provided you don't keep thinking about work all the time... Work on emails during the coach rides or late at night at the hotel...

Its same old same old. Back at hotel everyone keep to their rooms. At meal times everyone stare at their own smartphones. 

But hey! Got lots of family photos to carpet bomb in Facebook! Must keep up with appearances mah!



I can count on my hands the number of times I had the most scintillating moments with mom over the last 5 years now that I'm back. These moments just came about unexpectedly. How to "plan" such "quality moments" ahead of time?

I remember vividly my younger sibling standing up and walked for the first time. I yelled at mom to quickly see! Its so amazing! 

Pray tell how you intend to make an appointment for "quality time" to catch your baby whsiper his/her first word? Standing up and walking for the first time?

Stay at home dads and moms know this. We just have to be there. Period.



If you believe 5 minutes a day is all you need to invest or trade, then you'll believe in "Quality Time".

Then again, would you tell your child all they need is to study 5 minutes a day?

Play the violin, swim competitively, or do ballet using "quality time"?



Back at work, those once a year team building workshops or company trips, do they actually work?

Or maybe it's the face time you, your team members, and team leader have spent together, through thick and thin times, that matters more?



You know what's the best test to experience the lies of "Quality Time"?

Take note of how you felt next time others practice it on you.

Ouch!






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Everything but the kitchen sink!

We've heard or used this expression before.


The poor kitchen sink. It gets no love.

Quick!

When was the last time you spent any time thinking about your kitchen sink?

Maybe that one time you done up your kitchen?

Even then, its probably a cursory decision wasn't it?

You didn't visit multiple showrooms like for other home accessories or appliances, did you?






The above is an expressionist painting by John Bratby.

He founded the Kitchen Sink school of social realism painting style that depicts the working class activities of his time in UK during the late 50s to early 60s.


Who would want to paint a kitchen sink?

And from a working class household some more!?





Have you noticed many seeking to "escape" the drudgery of "work" often paint and write about an "idealistic" or "romanticised" story of their journeys or plans?

Its like those Mills and Boon romantic novels or Kpop dramas that so captivate our hearts.

OK, this could be hard on you if you read books and watch movies/plays without thnking.

For those who do, try recalling those movies/plays/TV dramas/books that were in the social realism style.

And contrast the two emotions you felt when exposed to Romantism and Social Realism.


Yes, its not your fault for not taking Art or Literature in school. But hey! Art and Literature are all around us. Just take the time to smell the flowers once in a while.

What's the point?

I know some may think got money can already. 

Well, you'll have to ask yourself whether you eat to live or live to eat.

And then you'll look at the kitchen sink in another light.

Wink.







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