Category Archives: Random Observations

Thoughts on Self-Definition

Be defined, not by the trophies in our cabinet, the money in our bank account; nor the clothes that we wear, or profession that we do.

But think and define ourselves as the person we are, for all the strengths and faults, quirks and abilities… the person you’re building – that is the bigger question, and the biggest challenge of our lives.


The 10 Reasons Why No One Knows What They’re Doing in Their 20s

Where are you heading?


I came across this interesting post, whilst randomly surfing for interesting articles (which is a good thing) to read.

I must say, having started my career in my early 20s, that I found the list highly relatable and that I agree it to a large extent.

Points 1, 6, 7, 9 and 10 will probably get the biggest YES! from me, seeing that they were the main things I made a conscious effort to go against.

I do however, find points 2 and points 10 a little big oxymoronic, since the latter could be seen as an attempt by the “junkie” to live in the present, and I do wish that I can be more present as I go about fighting for the things I want in life.

Still, it makes for interesting reading. Tell me what you think about the 10 Reasons.

Which ones do agree with and why? Share your thoughts in the comments column below.

Continue reading The 10 Reasons Why No One Knows What They’re Doing in Their 20s

Singapore By-Election Aftermath: 5 Communication Tips for Campaigning Candidates

Hougang By-Election, Politics Singapore
Photo taken off Channel News Asia

Those of you residing in Singapore would probably know the story. It was a breathtaking two weeks of hustings with a local by-election in the electoral division of Hougang. For quite an extended period, the Opposition Workers Party seemed to be on its back foot as talks of party disunity, indiscipline and issues of integrity dominated the headlines.

Political observers, initially in unison in their analysis that despite it being the opposition’s stronghold, a number of voters could be swayed to support the ruling party, due in part of reasons why the by-election was called for in the first place. Yet, as allegations and issues surrounding the opposition party and its members surfaced, the ruling party seemed to jump on unto the bandwagon to amplify the issues in a bid to whip and collect political advantage.

Unsurprising I would say. It’s politics. It’s a game of one-upsmanship. Why let your opponents go, when you can use the opportunity to show the world, the audience – your voters – that your opponents are not up to the mark? That their quality, or or abilities are not up to par, or even their arguments and proposals are fundamentally flawed?

Unfortunately, what seemed to be a natural, political move, seems to have backfired, again, and the electorate returned the constituency to the opposition, margin of 62.09% to 37.91% of the total number of eligible votes.

Political commentators responded in their analysts, that the ruling PAP should’ve and could’ve narrowed down the margin… but the PAP’s constant harping on integrity issues and their attempts to pull down their opponents suggested that the ruling party “hadn’t learned their lesson” since the last General Elections.

Now I’m no political whiz, and my interest lies more in my country’s future than in political affiliations (i.e, I will vote for the best candidates available to me, after careful analysis of what they both stand for, and not necessarily along party lines).

However, based on my analysis as a speech coach and speaking strategist, it is my view that the old method of mudslinging at campaigns is over. Personality attacks simply do not work anymore, and whilst enough noise may still be generated from a sizable electorate in larger countries, the truth is that positive personalities… people who are likable are tend to draw crowds towards them and their ideas like moths to a flame.

The point in contention here isn’t just about content. You can give the best speech in the world… but nobody will buy it if they don’t trust you, and if they don’t trust you, they won’t like you, and if they don’t like you, they won’t buy you or buy from you.

Nobody cares about how much you know, until they know how much you care – John C. Maxwell

It’s not only a battle of minds, for minds, but also a battle for hearts.

I’ll be the first to acknowledge, that Continue reading Singapore By-Election Aftermath: 5 Communication Tips for Campaigning Candidates

Concise Communication Tips for the Day

When East Meets West - What Do You Do?

Greetings are cultural dependent – A Chinese person would most likely ask “Have you Eaten?”, to which you should answer “Yes..” to start the conversation.

A Westerner would most likely ask, “How are you?” or “How have you been!”, to which you answer “Great, and you look great too!”.

Unfortunately, the biggest wrong answer a Westerner can give when he meets a Chinese person is to answer “No! Are you giving me a treat?”!

Similarly, it’s important to take Westernized comments such as comments such as you were great! And “you’re really charming…” with a pinch of salt!

Reciprocity of greetings in cultural contexts is the key. The problem of miscommunication often arises when one party misreads or mis-reciprocates the other party’s advances!

Why Wait Till Death?

I was letting my thoughts run wild when suddenly a thought came to mind. It seemed to strike me that lots of words of appreciation and positivity seem to appear at the time of a person’s death. Words like “He was a good man, always eager to help and make a difference…” and “She was always there for me when I needed a listening ear…” etc.

Why is it that such words of appreciation seem to appear only upon a person’s death? Why do we reserve such powerful, moving words for times when the main characters whom these are dedicated to are gone? Why do we only speak of them when they’re no longer around?

It makes no sense! Here we are living, craving for appreciation and it’s emotional fulfillment, finding it hard to come by… only to receive it when we’re gone – when it no longer matters anymore!
Continue reading Why Wait Till Death?

Simple Strategy for Success!

Today’s lesson is going to be short, simple and sweeeeet! I’ve come across various resources lately on public speaking, learning and dating, and there was at least one segment that pointed in the same direction. And I agree! Why? Because I bought it long ago and I put it to use to great effect!

Now how would you like to be a successful public speaker, delivering emotional and gripping messages while charming the socks (and maybe even the wallets) off your clients and audience?

Or, perhaps you’d really want to be that successful emcee who’s seeking to incorporate humour and entertainment into your current predominantly formal presentation arsenal.

Better still! How about gaining and RETAINING the attention of that cute waitress who caught your attention from three streets away!?

It’s pretty simple really. All you’ve got to do, is remember this Simple Strategy for Success:

Do the things that “successful” people do, especially things which the “other” people don’t want to do!

Let me repeat that: “successful” people do, especially things which “other” people don’t want to do!

Yes, the “other” speakers will cringe at every opportunity to speak because of various reasons – most notably because of fear. But trust me, ALL “successful” speakers overcome their fear of public speaking because they choose to stand up and speak and gain experience and expertise. They understand that, in order to become a better speaker, they need to practice and polish up their skills. They learn by observing the best, imitating the best, personalising the techniques and principles and then apply them for own use. They do all these, when the “other/average” speaker can hardly be bothered with improving their skills, and hopes to get their speech over and done with insufficient regard for its quality!

The effective salesman makes more calls and distributes more name cards than the average salesperson. Hey, if you’re a sports fan, you may have realised that some of the world’s greatest sporting personalities have spent a significant portion of their waking days training to improve to push the boundaries of their limitations, even though they’re already among the best in what they do! Tiger Woods, Air Jordan, Wanye Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka are all sporting stars who excel at what they do with lots of sweat and tears! And I can assure you that hard work played and continues to play a significant role in their success.

Alright. I’ll grant it, those are talented people in their respective sports. But hey, what about the “average” person like you and me? Does the SSS work for us? Hey, I’d like to share with you a personal story…

* * *

I went out with a few of my buddies for some drinks one night and one of them happened to catch a cute waitress who was working at the restaurant opposite our pub! That buddy of mine tried DESPERATELY to get her attention (supposedly, he wanted to “order some food” from her). He waved, he called before he finally caught her eye. Now guess what did he do when she came over?

Make a Guess!


He was so nervous that he kept poring over the menu! And for a good 10 seconds, she stood there in awkward silence staring at him, waiting for his order! Hey, talk about charming! *grins*
Okay, fine I’m being mean. But it’s for your entertainment pleasure ;)!

After awhile, I’ve had enough of the awkward silence and decided to have some “fun”. I began to engage the waitress and spoke to her a little about herself with the techniques which I listed under my post on “It’s All About You
, while my buddy continued to “engage” the menu. Well, I must say he was having quite some success with it because he finally came up with what he wanted to eat in under 2 minutes, which by then, I had already secured the waitress’ school, nationality, background, hope and future plans and, most importantly, her attention (she had a very nice smile)!

Now before you guys start condemning me for hitting on my buddy’s crush, I’d like to clarify that it wasn’t my intention to hit on her. You would have realised that I didn’t even ask her name and get her contact number! So, to tell you the truth, I was really doing it for fun, in addition to the following three reasons.

Firstly, I wanted to prove to you that the techniques in my post work! It doesn’t take lots of effort to make a person smile and command their attention. Just be interested in the other person, ask questions, shut up and listen!

Secondly, and most importantly, I hate awkward silences and I wanted to liven up the atmosphere and, (secretly) I was hoping my buddy would engage himself into the conversation too. Unfortunately, I guess he found the menu too “attractive” to pry his eyes away from the sexy Arial 10 fonts!

Thirdly, I wanted to see the reaction of my buddy when I shared the rationale of some of the techniques and principles which I utilised in during our exchanges and some suggestions on how he could follow up on his interest. Now before I carry on, I want you to know that he was prying me for all the answers and responses I got from the waitress. My response to him was to suggest having him to talk to the waitress the next time she returns, and ask her himself! But guess what?! HE REFUSED! And to on top of that, he came up with a million and one reasons why he couldn’t/shouldn’t/didn’t want to do it!

Interesting isn’t it?

Now I want you to note that I’m not sharing this story because I want to embarrass this buddy of mine. Oh no! Neither am I trying to promote myself as a Casanova – I’m not interested in these cheap thrills. But I want you to realise that, in order for you to achieve results that you have never achieved before, you must first do the things which you have never done before! Makes sense?

Einstein said it best, that “the surest sign of insanity, is expecting different results when doing the same thing”!

Hey, if you’re not going take it from me, then take it from the smartest man in the Universe! I may be off by a far shot, but surely he can’t be too far off! This guy came up with the Theory of Relativity just by staring into thin air! (Well, sort of!)

Let’s recap on the key lesson again”

Simple Strategy for Success – To achieve the results you want is to do the things that successful people do , especially the things which the “other” people don’t want to do!

So now then, when are you going to start doing something different today?

Here’s how to improve yourself without paying!

My mentor once asked me, “What’s the best way to learn?”

“Study? Read?”

“No. Observe!”

We’ve all been brought up and taught that the best way to learn and THE place to learn was the school. And books was always the answer whenever we needed material.

Now while books are great enriching tools and possess a great deal of information on how we can improve ourselves, buying and reading the books do incur some sort of opporunity costs too. For one, some good books can be very expensive and reading can take up lots of time!

Forunately I came to realise one day that, with enough curiousity, we can virtually learn anywhere, anytime from anyone – for free! Yes, free even if you learnt from the best speaker in the world (well, at least for considerably less)!

No, I’m not asking you to turn to piracy. Like what my mentor said, we can learn simply by observing!

Let’s take an example. During a seminar or talk on public speaking, most trainers will go about talking about the skills and strategies that are in their handouts and notes. Now most attendees would either be busy copying down everything that’s said, or they would be ‘busying’ themselves by staring and listening to the speaker.

I on the other hand, would be doing those two mentioned above, in addition to observing WHAT the speaker is doing. His every move and word is screened and those that are most effective are quickly printed on my notes. It could be a funny joke that he said, a series of movement that strikes the audience or a mere inflexion of voice that enchants the audience. Everything goes down, in addition to whatever material that’s already been provided!

So, as most participants are armed with only “words and sentences” on how to improve their public speaking skills, I’m going back armed not only with theoretical information, but with detailed practical examples and ready tools! I’m getting 2 things for the price of 1!

Now the above is an example of observing a current instructor at a seminar. But seriously, are we really confined to observation only in seminars? No! We can learn through observation anywhere at anytime! It can even go both ways. Remember a negative example and avoid it as much as integrating a positive example into your daily life!

So how about that? Learning without paying! It’s efficient, it’s cost effective, and the best thing is, there’s really no limit to what you can gain when you’re learning through observation.

Communicating with Children

As a trainer, I’ve been previledged to work with hundreds of school children in various schools throughout my career. Together with being an uncle and elder cousin to several younger members of the family, I’ve been blessed with being in the unique position to work and empower children in both my professional and personal capacities.

Although young and impressionable, working with young children does not come without it’s own set of challenges. Like most adults, many children can be stubborn and deeply set in their mindsets as well. As the saying goes, habits once formed are hard to change. There’s even a saying in the Bible that relates to habits and their influence in our lives. The book of Proverbs (22:6) even states that “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

Lots of books have been written by adults on how we should discipline and teach our children. I think many of them are useful. But there are two things which I read which stood out as particularly useful, and I’ve used to great effect in teaching children. The key, I feel, does not necessarily lie on what we do. It’s HOW we do it. It’s all about communication!

A close friend and psychologist friend of mine once shared with me about his work with parents. Now most kids dislike (to put it mildly!) going to school. But of ccourse, they go anyway. My friend told me that most children aren’t really going to school because they want to learn. Why do they go to school for then? Perhaps I should rephrase that question: Who are they going to school for? For whom are they working their hearts out for to achieve better grades?

Themselves? Perhaps. But do you suppose a 7-year old child who’s just begun going to school thinks that? No. As most of you would have guessed it, it’s for their parents.

Now most parents would protest by saying that they’re doing it for “the child’s own good!” I can’t protest with that. As a matter a fact, I support that with both hands up! But, is there a better way to do it? Is there a better way of getting children to do what we’d like them to do?


I think A lot has got to do with how we communicate our ideas to them.

1) Think about what THEY want!

I recalled a story of how a man once faced extreme difficulty in getting his second son to start going to nursery. No amount of threatening and coaxing was enough to get a ‘yes’ out of his son. Alex, the father wondered if there was something else he and his wife hadn’t try. He begain wondering about what were the things that could make his son want to go to school… and came up with an idea.

Alex gathered his wife and elder son together in the kitchen and begain playing with paint and painting. They laughed and had pretty much fun with the activity. Curious about the laughter, Brian (the second son) sneaked to peek around the kitchen wall to see his entire family having loads of fun with paint! When he requested to join in the fun, guess what was Alex’s reply?

“No! You’ve got to go to school to learn that!”

No prize for guessing who got up extra early the next day in his school uniform.

The technique/principle could be applied in educating children to follow positive behaviour too.

There was a time when my niece disliked going to school because of a selfish friend in her class. She told me of how her friend hoards all the toys in class and demands that others play with her whenever she wants.

I asked her if she like her ‘friend’. Not surprisingly, She replied no. I followed up my question by asking her if she’d like to be as unpopular and disliked by other people like her ‘friend’. ‘No’ came quickly too. That set the stage for my main message “do not be selfish if you do not want to be unpopular” and “good people have good friends”!

Everybody wants the good things in life. Understanding what children (and people even) perceive and accept as good is a fundamental key in helping us change behaviours.

2) Respect

The second useful and powerful tool which I often use is respecting my young learners.

I know sometimes it could be difficult to place importance on items and behaviours which we deem insignificant and immmature. But there’s a difference between disagreeing with the means and disrespecting the person. No doubt we can disapprove of negative behaviour, but we should always respect the person – even if they’re just 10 years old!

Showing respect to children can be tough, as mentioned above. However, there are subtle methods which we can utilise to emphasize their position of importance in our lives. And these are welcomed gestures!

As an uncle dealing with exceptionally young children, there’s a routine I’d like to do, and that is I’d always take the trouble to match myself physically to the child’s height. I ususally do this in two ways. The first is by lifting up the child in my arms. The second, and most frequently used, is to bend my knees to squat or kneel.

Talking to a child at eye level takes work. It takes away our physical superiority and dispels any sense of apprehension that the child may have towards us. This induces a sense of comfort and security and allows the child to better express his ideas and thoughts with any fear of attack or rebuttle. In addition, the fact that it takes work on our part, is a subconscious signal to the child that they are important people in our lives and that in turn, fosters an invaluable sense of trust that will form the bedrock of the parent-child relationship for years to come!

Lastly, the following method I frequently use is a hybrid between showing respect and knowing what the child wants. .

For example, if I expect the class of ‘young leaders’ to lead and make the right decision for their group, I’ll leave the decision making to the leaders. My role as a trainer and adult would be merely to explain the pros and cons of the various options available and allow them to make the choice. Of course, they make the wrong ones sometimes. But hey, that’s part of life isn’t it? The most important thing, however, is that they learn the most out of it! Better still if we’re around to guide them… and that they would be WILLING to listen to us.

And it’s obvious! Any rational human being will select the options which are most advantagous to them! More importantly, it’s the need to live up to the trust and expectations that I’ve placed in them that motivates the child to function.

The two principles and techniques which I’ve mentioned above are useful skills which I’ve utilised in my dealings with children and young adults. For me they have worked wonders in in my coaching career.

Interestingly however, in my observation knowing what children want, explaining and bestowing the sense of importance and respect on them seems to be excessively inadequately done by adults.

It’s time to do something about it. And it begins with YOU!!!

Try it!

What would your success story be?

Taking for Granted

If somebody knows another well, does that give him the right to take the other for granted?

Ie: If A “knows B well”, does that give B permission to take A for granted?

If B is friendly to other ‘new ppl’, but dares to be rude/unfriendly to those that he/she is closest to… then are we right to say that A is better off not being close to B?


I attended a talk today about love. During the talk, the facilitator shared with us how some spouses began taking their partners for granted by displaying certain traits that were less than positive – traits that we seldom seen when the couple were still dating. Very often, the justification these spouses gave was “But you know me! That’s the way I am!”

In the words of the facilitator, does “being friendly authorise one to become unfriendly?”. He noted that some spouses appear to become very hostile towards each other after years of marriage! The days of lovey-dovey and honey sweetness were far-few between, if not otherwise long gone!

Do you see the irony? A person is friendly in order to achieve a certain level of trust and proximity in a relationship. Then, as he gains the trust and proximity, he slackens off and becomes less than friendly/polite!

I think it’s a very big danger to take one’s foot off the pedal in a relationship. And that is regardless if it’s a romantic relationship, family, platonic or professional one. Things change! People change! And relationships have to be maintained in view of those changes in circumstances! Otherwise, like everything else, it is liable to becoming worn out… and runs the risks of allowing hostility to set in!

Taking things for granted is among some of the top reasons for failure in a person’s life. Guard against it. It’s ok to take a break once in awhile from all the hard work, but let it not become a habit!

Constant Communication

I just returned home from running an errand, but there were 2 events that caught my attention. One happened on the bus. Another happened in a supermarket. Both involved 2 young girls and an adult.

The my first observation on a bus was when a lady and her two young daughters boarded the bus. The daughters were very well behaved and spoke softly when they needed to talk. More importantly, they were very willing to share with their mother, to the extent that they enquired what was the meaning of pointing the various fingers on one’s hand [yes… that includes the middle one!]

The mother’s reaction? She was patient at listening and offered her piece in an equally soft, calm and lovely manner. All the while, her gaze was fixated on her daughters while they spoke. No wondering eyes. No indifferent stares at the other passengers. Only a warm smile and patient heart.

Fast forward to the supermarket. There was once again, two young girls and another mother. This time round however, the young girls were shouting and relatively boorish as they went down the aisles looking for items that their mother needed. And what did the mother do? Instead of correcting them, she shouted her orders to her two young kids too.

It’s intriguing isn’t it? Both events involved the same mix of people. And yet there were such distinct results! What does this tell us?

Some would argue that children learn what they need from schools, from their teachers. However, I believe that children learn the most from their parents. Children see and learn from what they experience. If it’s ok for their parents, then why can’t it be for them?

Some parents would argue again that they know their behaviour is bad, and that their children should do better. But hey… if it’s hard for the parent, what’s more for the kid?

Education begins at home, and continues at home. Schools and teachers will come and go, but parents are the ones that stay the longest, and have the biggest influence in their children’s life. It’s important to note then, that whatever you do and say, your children will be looking and learning. Every word spoken and action done, whether consciously or not, you are constantly communicating ‘educational’ messages to your children.

Therefore, always seek to set a good example for your children!

A Purposeful Life

John’s eyes were intensely fixated on the computer screen. His mind focused on navigating his virtual character through a labyrinth of mazes, fighting mythical creatures, orgres and undead knights. John’s character goes aggressively in search of monsters to slay. As he does, his character gains experience gets promoted to the next ‘level’. Level 5, 23, 36, 65… John spends his day in front of the computer screen, and nights after nights awake to help his character “gain experience”.

The cycle dies hard.

Everyday, millions of gamers are hooked on games and missions in virtual reality. To these people, these games are ‘fun’, and more often than not, gamers often find themselves hooked in front of the computer focused on relentless chasing virtual goals and objectives. Yet, have you ever wondered why these ‘focused’ people are finding it hard to exert the same amount of enthusiasm in their daily lives in school and work?

What exactly consitutes ‘fun’ to us? What excites us? What exactly is that ‘element’ which hooks us and leaves us begging for more?

The answer is – Purpose

Having a sense of purpose gives us hope and a sense of direction. And then there’s the excitement of chasing the quests (goals) of our lives. When one realises his purpose or goals in life, each day becomes an adventure waiting to be realised. There are monsters (challenges) to be tackled and experience to be gained.

However, the difference between the rewards of virtual experience and that of reality, is that with the latter, exhilaration and results are real, and unique only to you. Most importantly, that adventure is yours and yours alone – and not something that a million others can emulate.