Saturday, December 17, 2011

2011 - A Year of Losses and Gains

2011 is a year that saw a big loss for my family and I.. the demise of my very good father and a loving nephew in September.

With life, one will always look back and wonder what if we did this and that; did it differently or not at all; and did it more or some less.

With life, there is no rewind button on the remote control of experience but just a look back and cannot change button for you to cherish, either in happiness or in anguish.

With life, we can either celebrate in its wonderment of it all of criticize it in its full glory. It all depends on not how we start nor how we end, but how we fill the gap in between these two bookmarks of our time on the world.

2011 also marks the revival of consciousness of what is important - family and the love of it.

One tends to pride oneself with the amazement of technology and its extensive capabilities without stopping to ask why we are more pressed for time when we created so many inventions to help us save it.

One tends to differentiate oneself as the busiest and thus most successful when after all, leisure quality time with loved ones is what we sought.

One tends to use advancement to move backwards, creating excuses for being late using a mobile phone because we can. Informing does not mean one does not erode away discipline, in this case of timeliness.

In the days not too far before us, our parents are always on time; are always creating family moments, and doing it all in the most sincere and simplest of ways. No extensively planned holidays; no extensively expensive gifts and no extensively luxurious food.

Today, we have lost time whilst trying to create more; we have erode friendship whilst having all the best of technologies to do so; and we have cheapen love because we have an abundance of ways to show it.

With the passing of 2011, I hope for all and myself to not just realize but to actualize what we realize and make 2012 yet a better year, for one, for all, for everyone.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

The smell of memory...

Have you ever wondered how memories work? Why do we get such a rush of it - desired or otherwise - when we get it? Does the smell of fresh linen; the pungent-ness of soiled ones; body odour or the cologne dashed onto you in an Indian barber shop brings flashback of yesteryears which in many of these years of rushing around tends to remain the blackbox undiscovered. I recently had a good haircut from the traiditonal Indian barber and upon the whiff of the smell of the familiar cologne, brought me back to when I was a little boy and when dad brought me to the Indian barber close to home for what was then a traumatic experience of a haircut.
Funny how it all came back, vivid, of a memory that I thought I had forgotten.

I can even see the shop, the chair, what I wore and how I embarrassingly - not then - cried.
It was like yesterday.

The mind works in mysterious ways.
There are past treasures which we have forgotten that we had.
There are future rewards waiting to be reaped.

Memories, as a record of our past will continue to educate us, at different times with different lessons, as we pass the journey we call life.

If memory can be stored in globes as in Harry Potter, it can be selected whenever.
But seriously, can we? Should we?

Memory is also copyrighted.
It cannot be stolen.
It cannot be shared.
It is yours, and yours only, forever.

If you chance upon reading this, it will now remain as on of those... memories.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Who is this person I see staring back?

Who is this person I see staring back?

'Who is the girl I see, staring back straight at me..' coos Coco Lee in the feature song of Mulan.

This is what we sometimes wonder looking into a mirror or simply contemplating a reflection off the TV screen clean enough to do so. And if you have not, you should.

As our journey through life gets consumed every second by time and chalked up what we regard as age and experience, we sometimes forget to give ourselves the private time of looking back. Looking back at our journey, in achievements of success and, not or, of failures. And we deserve it.

On a flight back from Sydney, as I prepared my world's largest reclinable bed-seat, I caught a glimpse of a familiar face which inadvertently looked back.


I seriously have not seen ME for a while, although we confront the mirror almost daily, in toilets, in elevators, in the car back-view mirror. These were stares that was for a purpose, not one that is to examine oneself. It is to check a blemish, to shave – for men and some women, to check on traffic before you overtake or reverse, or to conform to let time pass by faster when you examine your clothes and hair in an elevator shiny surface.

How many of us look into the mirror at ourselves to see us, to see our soul, to see the track of experiences that sometimes is so evident through laugh lines or lines resulting from stress. I would submit to you that we seldom, or even never.

The fact is that we should.

We spend time to understand others. How much time do you spend understanding yourself?

We spend time appreciating others' success and achievements. How much time do you spend appreciating your own achievements, may it be closing a big deal, getting to a leadership position before 30, or simply offering a helping hand to an old person crossing the road.

We spend time criticizing others' in their doings, wrong by our judgment, and passing it by our standards. How often do we spend learning from our own mistakes – which we all make more often than we care to admit, in love, in career and to our loved ones.

That in itself is sharing our own journey with who is supposedly the most intimate person to oneself – OURSELF.

The question is WHY do we not do that?

Many does not do it because they are too involved in doing it to show off. We most times do things to impress and please others and in return for an exchange of the 15 seconds awe others have for us.

Many does not self-examine or better, self-access or self-appreciate because we are consumed by the need to care for others.

Many does not give time to themselves as their excuse is either too busy doing things for others towards the claim of selflessness.

Well, as I said before, the difference between human beings and animals are the ability to make excuse for what they want to do.

So, why not spend sometime with yourself.

Even if it is once in a while.

It is better than never.

Never never.

Spend time to understand yourself for yourself.

You can be naked with your soul.

You can be excessively honest because you are talking to yourself and you will not squeal on yourself. If you do, it is intentional!

You can be the plain you, the glamorous you, the judgmental you, the lying you, the loving you, the cynical and skeptical you.. as long as it is you on YOU!

Learn from it.

You can now decide what you choose to continue.

For good. For bad. And for all the beauty and ugliness the world care to present.

PS: Can also be done without a pillow. Ceiling staring is also useful before one stares at the inside of one's eyelids.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 : On Reflections and Reflexions

As time comes to another superficial end called New Year eve and then start it again with the new year, it calls to attention for us all to REFLECT on what this last 365 days has been, not that we can do anything now to change it. Personally, I do not believe in waiting for an 'auspicious' break, superficial or otherwise, to reflect but seems like the world is intoxicated with resolutions, before the first glass of bubbly is consumed.

2010 could be a wonderful year for some; an average non-eventful for others or an annus horribilis for the rest. It sure has its fair share of highlights, lowlights and nolights! From financial rollercoasters, through political unheavals, to human achievements in science, medicine and behaviour.

We chose the man who Wiki-exposed it all as the Most Intriguing Man of the Year; we afforded ourselves lifestyles which we cannot afford; and we continue to see love perpectuated through one another, like Kate and William or a couple at the Registrar of Marriage - straight, gay and everything in between.

However, the question remains on the fact of WHAT DID YOU DO IN 2010?

What value did you add?
Did you make someone else's life better? Happier?
Did you make yours?

We go through the passage of time, without the choice of it.
We somehow allowed stimulus around us to incent us to reflexively react to situations, whether it is to buy something; to judge someone or to change jobs.

Because they are there.
Because they are appealing.
Because the grass is always greener on the other side of the septic tank.
Because it portrays itself as HOPE.

2010 for me has been a good year, because I yield it so.
However, external factors like my dad's cancer is outside the realms of anyone's control.
As I kept promising to write a book called the TWO BUCKET SYSTEM.
This squarely falls in Bucket One, things that we canNOT change.
However, we have Bucket Two, things that we can do to Bucket One.
Well, we made him comfortable, brought him to Taipei, gave him the best medical attention we can afford.

What is the best thing that came out of this?
The family coming together more closely, regardless of what the reason may be.

As I always said, the difference between a human being and an animal is the ability to make excuse for everything that they want to do! In this case, for a good reason too!

What else in 2010?
Career-wise it was interesting.. I finally got out of the Director-ship into now a Senior Director-ship.
I have decided many years ago that titles does not matter anymore.
Beyond financial benefits, it is happiness at what one does is more critical.

I re-connected with some friends.. some by 'divine' intervention!
I found some new acquaintances - some good, some bad amd many in between.

On RELFLEXION, I went and bought a car.
Without much consideration for quality but becasue I was there!

On REFLECTION, I have not done enough.
I am of the opinion that if one does not REFLECT enough, one is more REFLEXIVE!

REFLECTION allows one to think, and more importantly one to learn, from mistakes and from successes. More importantly, one learns. But to do what?

Learn to make others happy and in turn hope to make yourself so.

As we again pass this timeline of 2010 into 2011, we are given a new opportunity to learn to REFLECT more and REFLEX less.

So the question as the clock strikes 12 tonight and before your carriage turns into a pumpkin will be : WHAT WILL YOU DO IN 2011?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

More for Less: Leveraging e-marketing for more effective results

More for Less: Leveraging e-marketing for more effective results

(Original text of article found in Singapore Institiute of Management's (SIM) TODAY'S MANAGER (June-July 2010) issue

e-marketing has been around for some time but its effectiveness is now only beginning to be realised. With social media and more technologically advanced tools, we can do more effective marketing by studying the behaviour of clients and consumers rather than sending 1 million e-mails to have 10 opened.

With the advent of a seamless networked world, e-marketing – marketing of products and services over the Internet – seems not just the right thing to do but a critical strategy to stay competitive.

Does that mean we should all rush into e-marketing? The answer is, “It depends!”

It is of course gratifying to see one’s business information, products and services up on a Web site with the promise of getting millions of eyeballs around the world. The Internet can make a small business a global business by allowing it to be in front of a global audience.

But e-marketing is still marketing. Marketing, whether with an “e” or not, has to be relevant to the audience.

The Internet has been transformed into a tool to drive innovation through collaboration. Businesses have leveraged on the explosive growth of the Internet and Web 2.0 technologies to derive better results from marketing activities. e-marketing has gone through drastic transformation, from the early days when marketers dabbled with putting up a Web site and struggled to keep the information current; to the next stage of enabling an e-commerce engine to facilitate transactions; and to the present where marketers consider how they can effectively use of Facebook and social networks to drive more returns from marketing activities. Many are also using social networking sites to solicit feedback about their products and services and gather information to influence future product development.

The key point to remember is that the basics of marketing still apply. Understanding customer needs and answering them is still the primary driving force in making a sale. The advantage of the e-marketing engine is that it allows us to do it faster and cheaper. The catch, though, is you have to do it right.

Who to sell what to and when

Sending an eDM (electronic Direct Mail) is NOT the ultimate end, even though many list providers would incentivise with bulk discounts on increased number of names rented. The ultimate end of a marketing activity is sales. Why send out something about a product or service if you are not keen in selling it? Making sure you send information to the people who need it when they need it will increase sales.

More important is to recognise that the e-version of a sales catalogue has greater cost and time-to-market advantages especially if the direct mail campaign is to be repeated, or information about product or service benefits is to be changed in different campaigns to address different target audiences, for example, technical users vs a business audience.

The efficiency of e-marketing, however, is a different story. The effectiveness of e-marketing is not about increased coverage and costs of eDMs but has to start with the right success factors, not about just how many eDMs were sent.

One of the advantages of e-marketing which does not surface frequently is the advantage of institutional memory. All information available can be used repeatedly for new marketing campaigns; repackaged to address a different customer set and also be integrated into other parts of a new campaign with relative ease.

Many organisations and marketers do not leverage an integrated approach to re-using information. Many projects are developed to create more or less the same type of information because there is no process or system to manage this 'knowledge' repository.

E-measurements : Truth or fluff?

An eDM may cost $1,000 to develop and can be sent to as many people as you have e-mail addresses. Comparing this with the production cost of even $1 per DM piece makes eDM a worthwhile investment. However, this is not the truth of measurement because sending does not mean reaching. Reaching does not mean opening. Opening does not mean reading. Reading does not mean clicking. Clicking does not mean buying.

To ensure the end-in-mind is to sell more things to more people more often for more money, one has to focus on how to communicate with the right people with the right message through the right channel at the right time. If one’s product is at least to be given a chance to be successful, one should look at the audience you are communicating to by segmentation, for example, by industry, types of audience (C-level, IT managers, and to certain degree, gender depending on the products). From there decide on a list and measure receive rate (percentage of non-bounced email); open rate (open over received); click rate (click over open) and lastly buy rate (buy over click).

With this simple understanding, you can decide on the effectiveness of a list you rented or tweak the relevancy of messages (price or value) and begin building categories of audiences for future e-marketing activities with the intent to improve efficiency and yield better ROI.

This should also change the model of business between marketers and list vendors, moving from list rental to pay-per-lead model. This therefore forces the list vendors to ensure that they have the best lists and uses it to prove that the quality of their lists is what they said it is.

The upcoming trend in e-marketing is behavioural tracking and management. Within the confines of privacy rules, this is a very exciting and important aspect of how business goals can be achieved through profiling and living up to giving the customers what they want in a timely manner.


The question that needs to be answered before deciding on e-marketing is how committed are you to maintaining the infrastructure. Yes, you can outsource the hosting. You can even outsource the marketing in utilizing search engines etc. But the information, the plan, and the execution that is relevant to your business cannot be closer to anyone else than to your organization.

Many organizations rushed into setting up Web sites and the information stays the same from the day it was created, 10 years ago. The worst case is that the Web site is not even up because the ISP that the job was outsourced to during the dot-boom era has gone out of business. The sad part of this is many businesses think they have entered the foray of e-marketing with this. True, but for the wrong reasons and it erodes the brand. Couple this with Internet user behaviour of short attention span and spoilt for choice, returning to your site may be something that will not happen ever again, that is losing a prospective customer forever.

Some organizations continue to test the privacy rules of countries. Most did it without understanding of what it is. Spamming is still a prevalent problem. This again brings us back to the argument about sending eDMs as a measurement and not about selling.


The advent of e-marketing also allowed companies to save costs through below the line marketing in the form of readiness. Many successful organizations include enablement of their sales force – around the world – through training and briefing on the Internet.

However, this requires investment in media creation and course creation. In line with institutional memory, these assets can be used and re-used, impacting hiring schedule and providing flexibility to the recipients to learn on-demand, where and when they can.

What is even better is that it can track who has taken what course and for how long he/she went through the course and even take online quizzes and provide feedback. This can apply to 10 or 10,000 without increasing costs.

With this, the sales force will be more ready than previously to provide the necessary information to customers, expediting the sales cycle. Surely, this is a good ROI for the business.

Serve yourself

Self-service has been introduced in many forms. ATMs to replace bank counters, automated phone service through voice-recognition and now information search on portals and some even offer customers to configure their own products and price. This is all good from an efficiency angle. However, it takes away the human touch.

E-marketing provides information availability across the globe. Information is available across the globe, 24x7, 365 days a year. The challenge is that it has to be available 24-hours; in all languages; meets all local requirements, and at the same time open to scrutiny, in an accelerated manner.

Any problem, no matter how small, will become a global problem in no time. A wrong update may force your company to sell a product for $2.50 although you intended to key in $250.

That is part of the bad and the ugly.

There is definitely goodness in providing self-service. If it is done well. A good self-service must start from understanding customer needs – languages, ability, relevancy. It must be backed up by escalation processes to help, which need to be operating around the clock. This goes back to the infrastructure requirements we talked about earlier.

When done well, e-marketing becomes an avenue to delight customers. It becomes a way to drive effectiveness and efficiency. It becomes a framework for growth globally.

e-tools: What are available

E-tools abound today. Some are good, some so-so, some bad. But it depends on what you want to do.

In Website tracking, one can use free tools available on the Internet to track traffic. You can outsource the task to a gamut of Web hosting companies or e-marketing agencies. You can also use applications now available on the Cloud, from Web site publishing to e-commerce engines.

Social media has sprung to the forefront of discussion in recent years. Social media can be used to provide a view into one’s social behaviour that may be of consequence in closing a deal. Examples are often repeated of how commenting about the soccer game of the son of a client has helped to open doors to his office. Development of social media for e-marketing is still at its infancy and there is little concrete data about its usage and effectiveness.

Another important aspect of e-marketing is behaviour tracking. Marketing is about behaviour management i.e. changing your decision to delay a purchase to one that buys now with promotion; changing the decision of not buy a competitive product to buy yours with better perceived benefits. Above all, it is about relationships. E-marketing is the very platform to make this possible.

The end-in-mind is to have an intuitive engine that will drive towards the holy grail of 1-on-1 marketing through ultimate relevancy based on the customer’s needs and time he/she needs it.

This can certainly be done through careful back-to-basic planning and mapping the right tools to reach the end-in-mind of ‘selling more things to more people more often for more money’ with the understanding of ‘communicating the right message to the right people through the right channel at the right time.’


Daniel Ng has been in IT marketing for over 25 years. He has worked with many multinationals in the IT industry. Currently based in Singapore, Daniel continues to build successful marketing programmes companies across the Asia Pacific region. Daniel is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cecilia, you are the shining model of living life to its fullest

Cecilia, you are the shining model of living life to its fullest

My dear Cecilia, when your request over Facebook for me to write your eulogy came on May 8th, I brushed it off as another one of your warped humour. We have all expected, as usual, that you will be well again!

I am usually not stuck for words but with this piece, I was lost.
Lost not because I have nothing to write but lost in how I should write it to embody such an incredible human being.

Then I found my answer.
It cannot be about grief.
If that, you in your inflated ego, will kick me in the butt!
It has to be YOU, a celebration of LIFE!

When I think of our first meeting, the only word that came to mind was SHOCK!
Your bright red hair began the series of shock for the short time we had together.

You shocked me into realization that life is about what you want it to be.
You shocked me into understanding that at the lowest point in your life after your mishap with your leg makes you look higher and be happier
You shocked me with your down to earth attitude where heaven can exist
You shocked me that friendship can be as thick as blood in a short period of time

In short, you shock the hell out of me... and brought me to the heaven of bliss, passion, contentment, love and no regrets.

My dear Cecilia, we are here to celebrate you!
Celebrate what you have done to our lives, albeit in your own shocking way, which you may or may not know.

I salute your intensity to realize your passion of being what other people cringe and may shun, a zoo-keeper.
I salute you for being yourself, in your glowing red-hair and your rainbow coloured outfits as a show of confidence and individualism which bred followership.
I salute you for your focus to make an imperfect leg walk better than anyone and the miles to chase your passion.
I salute you for your disposition - contagious, brightens-up-the-room, can't-get-enough-of.

I miss you for stopping to show us the way, so soon.
I love you everyday for what you have given us and taught us to be what we are born to be.

There. Done. And with no tears, for tears is never for my darling Cecilia.
Just laughters, smiles, happiness and love can only be worthy of your legacy.

Fare thee well my sweetie.

Till we all are together again.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Welcome to my box...

To many, the saying 'Life begins at 40' is just that, a saying.
However, to some, how you feel and thus how you look is within your hands.
To a few, that is a realization and acted on it!

In my passing of the last 47 plus years, I have heard of people making excuses for things that they like to do, far more t han making excuses for things that they do not like to do. Guess that is human.

In a quite recent school reunion, my 5-year old niece and true to the nature of 5-year-olds who speak their mind - a quality we lose as we grow older - asked my classmates how old they are. To the bemusement of a few of them who took to 'bullying' little girls came the answer :' Silly girl, we are your uncle's classmates. Therefore we are of the same age!' came the unexpected and rather to-the-heart reply : 'Then why do you look so old and fat!' (in relative to her uncle!)

This entry is by no means an account to show-off nor a guidance to shape-up.
It is merely a reflection of focusing on what you want to do, impacted by 'market' forces, and derived at the end-in-mind that you desire. Best of all, it is an account of what is possible. Impossible is nothing, says Adidas!

Well, as I passed 40 years old, with a rotund 38" waist and over 26% body fat, I fit into the usual mould of an UNCLE, AH PEK or PAKCIK. Gone are the days when I was called ABANG, KOR KOR or simply MISTER. The former salutation is by way of respect (for my coming of weight.. of age I mean.. as demonstrated by my imposing waistline!). The worst thing was I was readily accepting it!

Then came one fine day when my friends and I went island hopping in Phuket, pre-tsunami period in 2001.To their rather witty and sheepish question of whether I am wearing a swim trunk, my RASPUTIA-belly stood flacid and round over my not-so skimpy trunks, I knew they were telling the truth. They, knowing how I take to challenge like any hot-blooded Leos would, issued the challenge that by my next birthday - 12 months from the day - they wanted to see 6-pax! 6-pax to me was a dream which remained shy and hidden. I knew it was there but I also knew that it was cushioned by the layer called FAT!

I duly took up their challenge and engaged a personal trainer on my return to Singapore.
The beginning of the ordeal was painful, nonetheless.
One notable incident was when the Honorable David Levine, US Ambassador to Singapore at the time, asked if I was OK, seeing that I was walking like someone who has hernia. This was the week AFTER I started training.. tell me if you would not be walking like that!

A note to remember : Personal trainers comes in many shapes and forms. Some are just counters - do not show you what to do but only counts the reps you did. Some are tele-PT, meaning that they are on their phone sms'ing whoever all the time you are yelping for help. There are ones who cheats, who signs for you the sessions that you did not have so they can clock in more revenue. And of course there are those few that does it for the right reasons. I was unlucky to begin but ended up with a PT I call a friend for the last 8 years!

So, welcome to my box! What box is that?
Over 40!

To cut a very long story short, it is not impossible!
I called it the 3 + 2'D' regime.
What is that?
3 D : Discipline - I wake up at 5 AM daily to be at the gym at 6 AM. Drive - you MUST want to do it! You must have the end-in-mind.. beyond looking good and lastly Diet : You are what you eat. Best way is to cut off carbs for dinner. No carbs after 5!

The other 2 'D's?
Haha! Daniel and Din, my PT friend... (Hey, I m in Marketing!)

So I have had many queries of HOW to do it... Upon which I talk about my 3Ds. Many retorted - I love my donuts. I cant do away with Maggi noodles at 10pm etc etc. Well, you are after all what you eat. If you are comfortable having a donut around your waist, then indulge and be happy!

Lastly, do whatever you feel will make you happy.
As I started, I am sharing, not prescribing.

And do not cheat, buying a size bigger pants to have a relatively smaller (growing) waist is only for short term happiness!