A cup of coffee

November 5, 2007

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“The happiest people in the world are not those who have no problems,but those who learn to live with things that are less than perfect.”

A group of graduates, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life.

Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups – porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite – telling them to help themselves to the coffee.

When all the students had a cup of coffee, the professor said: “If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the simple and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress.

Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In most cases, it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups… Then you began eyeing each other’s cups.

Now consider this:
– Life is the coffee; the jobs, money and position in society are the cups.
– They are just tools to hold and contain Life, and the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of life we live.
– Sometimes, by concentrating on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee God has provided us. Enjoy your coffee!.

The happiest people don’t have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything.”

  1. Live simply.
  2. Love generously.
  3. Care deeply.
  4. Speak kindly.
  5. Leave the rest to God.

Digital Natives Vs Digital Immigrants

November 2, 2007

By: Dr. R. Palan, Chairman & CEO of SMR Group
Date: Friday (19th of October 2007)

I have spent the last few days in Melbourne, Australia.

The days with academics in the University and some of the world’s top  CEO’s of software companies was a refreshing experience.

Who is a digital native? Most likely your children and Gen Y’s.

Digital Immigrants – needless to say it is more about people in their 40’s and above.

It was an interesting debate.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister of Victoria made 4 important points:

  1. Solution Pull is always more effective than Technology push. It is about soultions not how great the technology is.
  2. It is always the simple things that win in the market place.
  3. All it requires is to work till we exceed the threshold to get success such as Hotmail.
  4. User interfaces and learner needs are more important than the features of your product. The business world here is buzzing with several new initiatives despite the elections here.

Manage Energy Not Time

November 2, 2007

By: Dr. R. Palan, Chairman & CEO of SMR Group
Date: Sunday, 7th October, 2007

Time Management has always been a misnomer. We can never manage time, we can only manage ourselves with respect to time.That was a valid  argument, I thought. Today, I read Tony Schwartz in this month’s Harvard Business Review.

He says most of us respond to rising demands in the workplace by working longer. This will inevitably lead to longer working hours and will take a toll on the physical, mental and emotional health.

The core problem with time is that it is a finite resource. Energy is a different story. Defined in physics as the capacity to work, energy comes from four main wellsprings in human being: the body, emotions, mind and spirit.

While the body is all about physical energy; the emotions about the quality of energy; the mind the focus of energy and the human spirit the energy of meaning and purpose.

In each, the energy can be expanded by establishing specific rituals  with the goal of making them habits. We can make it a ritual to exercise in the gym everyday as some of us now look at the emails. We can manage energy depleting behaviours such as anger by taking responsibility for changing them.

I thought the idea of managing energy not time would be something useful to me. I like to explore it in greater detail in the next couple of weeks.


Identifying the IP Assets of a Company

November 2, 2007

By: Renuka Sena, Director of Mindvault Sdn Bhd.
Date: Saturday, 29th September 2007

The arrival of globalisation has brought change in traditional rules and perspective on economy. Old economy defined assets as something tangible such as inventory and property. But the new economy had re-define asset as something intangible. In fact, tangible asset only make up a small percentage of the company’s net value. Most of their net worth resides in their intangible assets like the intellectual property (IP).

But what exactly is IP? The law protects IP in separate and distinct categories namely patents, trademarks, copyright, industrial design and confidential information. Although it is hard to recognise these values within an organisation, we must make an effort to learn how to identify intangible assets in the organisation to survive the k-economy.

To identify an IP, it is important to know where to start.  An IP audit is the most cost effective solution in identifying IPs. It is a legal exercise execute due to diligence purposes. It will commence occasionally for periodic review which requires expertise from business, technical and legal fields. The end result is, it illustrates a catalogue of the organisation’s IP. Then, the management can make a timely decision to use and protect their assets.

Strategies to protect and use these intangible assets vary. Some assets are unique which may have multiple avenues of protection. That is why, before determining which protection strategy to use, a few factors must be considered. In the case of chemical compound such as compound used in face cream or recipe, it must be distinguished first whether it could be ascertained from lab testing or reverse engineering.

If it can, patenting it is the best way to protect the R&D investment. Patenting gives the company a monopoly over the compound for 20 years and the company can license the compound to other companies to make additional revenue. However, company must also assess the commercial potential of the use of the compound versus the cost of maintaining the patent. Once this is done, the company can decide if patenting is a good commercial strategy or not.

However, if the compound could not be ascertained from lab testing or reverse engineering, the most appropriate strategy is to keep the compound as a trade secret, just like the recipe for KFC and Coca Cola. Trade secret is low in cost and last longer than 20 years if compare to patenting. Yet, company should only utilise this if they are confident that its competitions will not discover the formula as trade secrets are vulnerable. Once the secrets are leak, the value is lost forever.

Each method of protection will depend on the potential value of the asset when seen in the context of the business as a whole.

Summarised by: Farhana Zahani Zainal Abidin


Mind Over Money

November 2, 2007

 By: Rajen Devadason, CFP speaker and author.
Date: Sunday, 16th September 2007

Credit card has been around for over half a century. It is a small rectangle plastic object that carries the bearer’s status while freeing him from walking with pockets full of cash. Nevertheless, these cards has resulted people worldwide entangling themselves in the most expensive legal form of consumer debt. As an intelligent Malaysian, we must be responsible to analyse our ultimate financial destination, in accordance to our current behavior toward money. Will it be scarcity or surplus? It’s in your hand to decide how you want to behave and the future lies within your choice.

Start paying attention to your money now. Here are some few ways to begin the process of flipping your brain’s money switch off. Make sure you track your expenses. Write down your source of monthly cash inflow and your fixed expenses. After that, you’ll have a clear view of your monthly cash flow either deficit or surplus. Obviously you will want to reduce your expenditures and grow your income source.

The next step is to start saving your money. Find your long lost piggy bank so you can start using it and look for your savings account passbook to save money steadily. Then, you need to curb possible credit card mismanagement. Pay attention to how you use your cards and track how often you use it to buy something useless for the sake of impressing the people you don’t like with the money you don’t have.

If you are willing to take small steps towards financial discipline, you might end up in luxury with impressive stuff that you can afford, without having much trouble with debt.

Summarised by: Farhana Zahani Zainal Abidin