Thursday, November 26, 2015

Tips for Giving and Receiving Feedback

How to Give Feedback
  • Lead with intent. “The reason I am telling you this is …. I am hoping the result of this conversation will be ….”
  • Have a conversation. View the conversation as a two-way exchange, not a one-way dump.
  • Understand the goal. The purpose of constructive feedback is to encourage the other to move into a problem-solving conversation with you, not to “change” for you. The purpose of complimentary feedback is to help the other more fully own and leverage their strengths.
  • Focus on the behavior. Discuss its impact on you and/or your organization.
  • Language matters. Avoid attributions or labels such as “you are insensitive.” Do not make up stories about why they act in a certain way, such as “you don’t care.” Use “I” language instead of “You” language, but remember that saying “I feel that you are insensitive” and “I feel that you don’t care” is cheating.
  • Use inquiry. Ask what the other person hears you saying. Ask what is important to them. Ask what they need in return from you.
  • Reframe. Maintain the mental model that feedback is a gift — it is data. And more data is always better because it provides us with choices we wouldn’t otherwise have.
How to Be a Good Receiver of Feedback
  • Tamp down your defensiveness. Avoid justifying, explaining, or making the other person wrong. Remember that feedback is data and having data is better than not having it because it expands our choices and results in healthier relationships.
  • Become curious. Tell yourself: “This person is upset with something I do. If I can figure out what that is, I can move toward solving the problem.”
  • Repeat. Ask questions. “So, I hear that you are really annoyed and think I am not committed. Yes? It would be helpful to me if I understood what it is that I do that results in you feeling that way.”
  • Signal that you understand. “I hear that the fact that sometimes I don’t respond to your texts for several days is what leaves you feeling that I am not committed.” This is better than getting into an argument about whether or not you are committed.
  • Thank the giver. At some level they care enough to say something.
  • Know when to stop. It is OK, and even preferable, to say when you need to take a break and negotiate a time to return to the conversation. The giver may have waited until he or she was really upset before saying anything, and therefore it is often easier to take the issues a bit at a time.
Deborah Petersen

Note to self: always bear these in mind.

Friday, September 18, 2015


Sometimes I think about the reckless times in Shanghai, the times when nothing seems to matter but the next party or dinner. carefree. no commitments. no adult worries but the monthly utilities bill.

sometimes i do miss those times.
but then im also glad to be back.
cos this is the real world.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Cyber Security

With technology infiltrating in every realm of our lives, cyber security becomes all the more pertinent.
Imagine the person who can hack into the network.

Inspired by:

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Newcastle Reflections

Newcastle Reflections #1
I only like Newcastle insofar as it reminds me of Edinburgh

Newcastle Reflections #2
Entered the university by chance really. came across the students having their graduation ceremony and thinking of mine. congregating at mcewan hall. itwas Breezy but sunny. everyone looking smart in their graduation gown, me in my freshly cut bob. sitting in that dark,dark hall. waiting for your turn to be tapped on the head by someone's trousers. gathering with laura, rahima, hannah and some at balmoral hotel, sipping tea with their parents, feeling posh, feeling like i'm part of the system. just as these Newcastle students sit at quillan bros tea house sipping tea. looks like a lovely place to have tea. but it's not for me, at least not today. i shall continue my journey.

London Reflections 2015

London Reflections #1
Coming back to explore  previously unexplored territory. Thinking of the UK as a second home though I've never actually lived in London. But while the people and roads are unfamiliar. The systems, the signs, the accents, the vegetation, the air are all familiar, familiar enough not to give me a jarring sensation, the sensation that tells you're abroad in  brand, new exciting destination. Not to say I wasn't thrilled to be seeing a part of London I haven't seen before, not to say I don't enjoy, but it lacks the thrill and fear of a totally unknown destination. I guess I know what to expect and it is very comforting.

London Reflections #2
Walking my luggage as the residents walk their dogs along the scenic Thames path.

London Reflections #3
a moment of silence for the 7/7 victims. a complete silence as all stopped in their steps and lowered their heads. no clattering of utensils or shuffling of feet. till the intercom sparkled to life, bringing an end to the moment.

London Reflections #4
Kew Gardens is really pricey for a garden without much flowers.

London Reflections #5
An oak tree. Completely bizarre. An actor who doesnt know the script. A hypnotist who lost his skill. A father who lost his daughter. An audience is in the clouds as the two men switched between scripts. A free conversation.. that is totally scripted. The loss of girl who is not dead. The concept, the idea of a person. The concept, the idea of  play. An accident, the actor takes on the attributes of the playwright.

would love to spend more time figuring the play really.
but moving on for now..

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Balancing Local Sentiments and Economic Benefits

Read this article this morning, and felt that it really reinforced this belief I have, that sometimes governments need to be firm on their long-term goals because the people tend to be blinded by short-term effects without realising the long-term benefits. This came also in the wake of the various critical articles about LKY after his passing away earlier...

Hong Kong is now suffering a decline in tourism numbers of 34% y-o-y, influenced by the various anti-Chinese campaigns over the past year or so. The most recent public holiday in China, which usually brings an influx of visitors to Hong Kong, did little to alleviate the decline.

The anti-Chinese sentiments began with the influx of 'businessmen' bringing counterfeit goods to and fro Shenzhen and Hong Kong. These businessmen are seen to bring down the quality of life in Hong Kong as they are usually from the lower classes of society. A series of anti-Chinese incidents began as the Hong Kong residents began to see all Chinese visitors as threat to their society and way of living.

The incidents brought the effect that the residents hoped for, a decline in Chinese visitorship. However, the counterfeit goods smugglers, according to the article, not fazed by the bad attitude of the Hong Kong residents towards them given the potential profit to be earned, continue to come in large numbers. Instead, the higher quality Chinese high-spenders are deterred, opting for other (more luxurious/ better service most likely) destinations, affecting the service industry which had depended to a large extent on them.

Should the government have taken a harder stance on protesters, or should the protesters have been given their freedom of expression? It's hard to say really, but I'm imploring those who unconditionally advocate freedom of expression to think deeper about what this freedom really entails.


Thursday, March 26, 2015


Politics make me ugly.
They bring out a me that I hate and despise and want to laugh at. A me so full of angst at the world, at the inability of people to understand these bubbling problems, at the way I know so little, and at the frustration of never knowing enough. A me that rants about the problems, hurtfully, sharply, critically, rudely, that will never be resolved. A me that feels so weak and small and pathetic in this monstrous world out there.

But, I can't help commenting on things that I see.

The onslaught of posts about LKY led me to this ironic statement - who IS this Liu Shengjun -:
Columnist Liu Shengjun wrote that Singapore’s stability and efficiency are built on “Lee’s authoritarian charisma,” which has limited appeal in China’s consensus-driven government.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The other side of things. Or the passing.

The death of Lee Kuan Yew had affected many, hit the headlines all over the world, and once again put our little island on the global map.

It touched me though I've never interacted with the man, except two brief encounters at F1 one year when I was attending to the Singapore Suite, and again from a far distance during NDP. I've always appreciated what Singapore has to offer, and the legacy he left behind, believing that we needed a leader like him to bring us here, and an equally revolutionary leader to bring us further from here on. Living overseas, be it in a developed country like the UK or in a less applauded country like China, made me count my blessings that a country like mine with no natural resources but its people (who were mostly immigrants) can do so well.

But saw this article on how he had become the excuse of many autocrats in other parts of the world to rule their countries with an iron hand at the expense of their citizens. It doesn't feel right to blame LKY for this, but I can understand how they have twisted his methods to suit their needs. Haven't formed a coherent thought on this article but thought it was interesting and wanted to capture it before I lose this thought...

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Those random moments

Was walking to office across Xintiandi after lunch.

A girl stops me, says "Excuse me?"
I turn around, thinking it was a lost tourist, asking for directions (we see many of those in these areas, some of whom will ask where Xintiandi is).
She says "Can we take a picture for you as a street shot for their magazine?"

I was stunned to say the least.
And, as usual, rejected - (on hindsight, I should have just said yes. This could be my only ever chance).
Nevertheless, I was secretly pleased. I wanted to shout out to the world and say "oh my god someone spotted me."

Reminded of that day in high school when a guy stopped me and asked to be friends.
Rejected as usual in a stunned state, but pleased nonetheless...

I... like moments like these.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Modern Beethoven - or not.

The Tale of Mamoru Samuragochi
A man who climbed to fame through almost farcical manipulation of the media and the people around him and then came crashing down again as the media and people he used retaliated.

Very intriguing how he managed to pull the whole thing off. He must be very charming. He might be... a musical psychopath (though the muscial bit might be debatable).

Am I paranoid now? Am I..?

The Psychopath Test - Dylan Thomas

Was reading up a little on Dylan Thomas:
And suddenly I was reminded of the Psychopath Test, written by the guy who wrote The Men Who Stare at Goats.

Was it possible Thomas was a psychopath (I need to read more to ascertain)? His disdain of other people; his clever manipulation of the people around him who financed his life; his careless irresponsibility and lack of concern for consequences. I do think he ticks many boxes on Hare's checklist. Worth a look into for curiousity's sake.. someday.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

SMEs in Singapore

A Survival Guide for SMEs by Nitin Pangarkar

SMEs always fascinated me. I think it's because you seldom hear about them and yet they form the majority in terms of number of companies (revenue? employees? I have no idea) in the business landscape.

The title of the article naturally caught my attention but really the conclusion that SMEs survive better if they ally with diverse partners is not very instructive or illuminating. SMEs, given their size, tend to focus on a specific area of expertise, which makes it very natural for them to need partners to cover the whole value chain if they wish to succeed? Am I missing something here...? I think what would be interesting would be a deeper analysis of the types of alliances and business models that have flourished. It would also be interesting to compare the difference between countries. Do different operating environments/ business culture affect the way SMEs partner other companies, and how?

Monday, February 09, 2015

Sustainable Growth

Reading this article, and just want to capture some thoughts before I forget...
President Xi Jinping has taken some actions to slow China's economy in a bid to produce more sustainable growth:
(1) visa restrictions, (2) the anti-corruption campaign, and (3) UnionPay monitoring.

This has hit the gambling industry worldwide badly. With the implementation of the anti-corruption measures, the casinos had already felt the initial impact of the policies. But Xi is not going to stop there. A more targeted move against gambling shows Xi's resolve in this matter. Through limiting visas, monitoring frequent gamblers' spend, banning advertisements and such measures, the casinos are in for a bad year.

While this may not bode well for us, I think it's time someone took action on this issue.
It's not just about China and their need for sustainable growth.
It's about how the whole world is spurring economic growth today.

The whole world investing all their efforts and resources in this one country desperately needs to rethink their strategy. The mad investment (see all the reports on Chinese spending consumption behaviours, the crazy advertisements, the proliferation of Chinese-speaking sales staff all over the world) in this market is creating a bubble that would not last. When the spending began to slow a few years back, reports started coming up about targeting the wiser Chinese spenders who spend with greater discretion, every country fighting to win one another for a slice of the Chinese pie put in a disporportionate amount of effort to rework marketing messages to unearth the reasons for Chinese to spend, developing products that provides greater incentives for spending.

Now, with the impending slowdown, what would happen to all these efforts? Have we overestimated the potential of this market in a bid to outdo each other?

2015 feels like a scary year.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Reviewing my time in Shanghai.

Well, not so much an intellectual review but just feeling nostalgic looking through some of my old photos and decided maybe I should start documenting these before I forget - though I've probably already forgotten the feeling. I've looked through some of my older posts, and I can't help thinking that it's not me writing these posts? I can vaguely recall the emotions, mindset of that person writing but it's definitely not me anymore. The way I write, the way I view things, the way I conduct myself are irreversibly changed. And the thing about change is, it's not like how people see it, a two- way thing, you can either go left or right, better or worse - just one or the other.. but really it's multi-directional. Don't think of change as a point on a straight line, it's a point that veers in all direction erratically, drastically in a mad chase of randomness. So don't ask me if I've changed for the better or worse. I don't know what to say.

Anyway, its so slow and laggy I've decided to.. give up.

Will relook this.. some other time. HAHA.