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Category Archives: The Today Paper
Newspaper column in Today on 2 Aug 2008.
We Singaporeans have a problem. We are graceless, they say. So we train ourselves to say the right magic words at the right times and to smile at random intervals. We still come across as a bit graceless at times.
We have to bite the bullet and face the music; we may be a bit on the rude side — when judged by the western norms of pasticky grace popularized by the media. But we don’t do too badly when judged by our own mixed bag of Asian cultures [...] Continue reading
Pointers in surviving the corporate jungle. Newspaper column in Today on 14 June 2008.
[...] In the unforgiving, dog-eat-dog corporate jungle, you need to be sure of the welcome. More importantly, you need to prove yourself worthy of it. Fear not, I am here to help you through it. And I will gladly accept all credit for your survival, if you care to make it public. But I regret that we (this newspaper, me, our family members, dogs, lawyers and so on) cannot be held responsible for any untoward consequence of applying my suggestions. Come on, you should know better than to base your career on a newspaper column! [...] Continue reading
Newspaper column in Today on 17 May 2008.
When it comes to news, things are seldom what they seem. The media can colour news events while remaining technically objective and strictly factual. Faced with such insidiously accurate reporting, we have little choice but to read between the lines. [...] Continue reading
The rights and wrongs of gender equality. Newspaper column in Today on 5 April 2008.
[...] When such dimensions of equality encompass all aspects of our lives, we will be able to safely say that gender equality has arrived. We should not be looking for equality in testosterone-driven playing fields, which, by the way, may include higher echelons of the corporate pyramid. We should be relegating debates on equality to irrelevance by attributing enough respect and value to natural differences. [...] Continue reading
Newspaper column in Today on March 1, 2008.
We all want to be the boss. At least some of us want to be the big boss at some, hopefully not-too-distant, future. It is good to be the boss. However, it takes quite a bit to get there. It takes credentials, maturity, technical expertise, people skills, communication and articulation, not to mention charisma and connections. Even with all the superior qualities, being a boss is tough. Being a good boss is even tougher; it is a tricky balancing act. One tricky question is, how friendly can you get with your team? [...] Continue reading
How to turn around gracefully? Newspaper column in Today on 19 Jan 2008.
Elton John is right, sorry is the hardest word. It is hard to admit that one has been wrong. Harder still is to find a way forward, a way to correct one’s past mistakes. It often involves backtracking. [...] Continue reading
How to market sophistication, a la francaise! Newspaper column in Today on 5 Jan 2008.
Sophistication is a French invention. The French are masters when it comes to nurturing, and more importantly, selling sophistication. Think of some expensive (and therefore classy) brands. Chances are that more than half of the ones that spring to mind would be French. And the other half would be distinctly French sounding wannabes. [...] Continue reading
A frank, but strange, look at global warming. Are we a virus on the earth? And is the global warming a bout of fever? Published in the Singaporean newspaper, Today, on 1 Dec 2008.
[...] The end result of a viral infection is always gloomy. Either the host succumbs or the virus gets beaten by the host’s immune systems. If we are the virus, both these eventualities are unpalatable. We don’t want to kill the Earth. And we certainly don’t want to be exterminated by the Earth. But those are the only possible outcomes of our viral-like activity here. It is unlikely that we will get exterminated; we are far too sophisticated for that. In all likelihood, we will make our planet uninhabitable. We may, by then, have our technological means of migrating to other planetary systems. In other words, if we are lucky, we may be contagious! [...] Continue reading
On how to handle rumors at the work place. Newspaper column in Today on 27 Oct. 2007
[...] There is a city underground. Parallel to the world of corporate memos and communication meetings, this rumour city trades information, often generating it as needed. [...] Continue reading
Newspaper column in Today on 20 Oct. 2007.
How can we manage stress, given that it is unavoidable in our corporate existence? Common tactics against stress include exercise, yoga, meditation, breathing techniques, reprioritizing family etc. To add to this list, I have my own secret weapons to battle stress that I would like to share with you. These weapons may be too potent; so use them with care. [...] Continue reading
Newspaper column in Today on 29 Sept. 2007.
[...] Isn’t there a danger lurking behind our habit of demanding super specialized silos of knowledge? One obvious danger is the loss of synergy and potential innovation. A case in point — a particle physicist at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) faces the problem of accessing various files on different computers and networks. Being conversant in computing issues, the physicist devices a nice way of describing the file (or, as it is known now, the resource) and suddenly the first URL (Universal Resource Locator) is born. The rest is history — we have the World Wide Web, the Internet. Fifteen years later, you have e-commerce and YouTube! [...] Continue reading
Newspaper column in Today on 15 Sept. 2007.
[...] In high school, I used logarithm tables to work out results in physics and chemistry experiments. Calculators were not allowed. Though inconvenient, this practice honed my arithmetic skills — skills that calculators and spreadsheets have eroded by now. Similar erosion is taking place in our reading skills as well. We don’t read to retain information or knowledge any more. We search, scan, locate keywords, browse and bookmark. The Internet is doing to our reading habits what the calculator did to our arithmetic abilities. [...] Continue reading
Newspaper column in Today on 1 Sept, 2007.
[...] A normally aggressive soul, on the other hand, may become an obnoxious sender of what are known as stinkers. Stinkers are emails that are meant to inflict humiliation. [...] Continue reading
Newspaper column in Today on 8 Aug, 2007.
Technical knowledge is not always a good for you in the modern workplace. Unless you are careful, others will take advantage of your expertise and dump their responsibilities on you. You may not mind it as long as they respect your expertise. But, they often hog the credit for your work and present their ability to evade work as people management skills. [...] Continue reading
Newspaper column in Today, 8 Aug. 2007.
Stress is as much a part of our corporate careers as death is a fact of life. Still, it is best to keep the two (career and death) separate. This is the message that was lost on some hardworking young souls here who literally worked themselves to death. So do a lot of Japanese, if we are to believe the media. [...] Continue reading
Newspaper column in Today, 28 July 2007.
[...] The conversation between two tired minds usually lacks an essential ingredient — the listener. And a conversation without a listener is not much of a conversation at all. It is merely two monologues that will end up generating one more setback to whine about — spousal indifference. [...] Continue reading
Newspaper column in Today on 21 July 2007 on talent shortage in Singapore.
Singapore needs foreign talent. This need is nothing to feel bad about. It is a statistical fact of life. For every top Singaporean in any field — be it science, medicine, finance, sports or whatever — we will find about 500 professionals of equal caliber in China and India. Not because we are 500 times less talented, just that they have 500 times more people. [...] Continue reading
Newspaper column in Today on 14 July 2007.
We go through this ordeal every year when our bosses appraise our performance. Our career progression, bonus and salary depend on it. So we spend sleepless nights agonizing over it. In addition to the appraisal, we also get our key performance indicators or KPIs for next year. These are the commandments we have to live by for the rest of the year. The whole experience of it is so unpleasant that we say to ourselves that life as an employee sucks. [...]
First newspaper column in Today, 7 July 2007 (07/07/07 ) on handling staff resignations.
Hold on to your pants, your key staff has just tendered his resignation — your worst nightmare as a manager! Once the dust settles and the panic subsides, you begin to ask yourself, what next? [..] Continue reading