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Stop Blaming the World

July 11th, 2015

Came across a great quote from one my random reading adventures:

“A man only begins to be a man when he ceases to whine and revile, and commences to search for the hidden justice which regulates his life. And he adapts his mind to that regulating factor, he ceases to accuse others as the cause of his condition, and builds himself up in strong and noble thoughts; ceases to kick against circumstances, but begins to use them as aids to his more rapid progress, and as a means of the hidden powers and possibilities within himself.”

James Allen, As a Man Thinketh

Makes me want to read more from this author now. It sounds a little too philosophical from my average selection, but I have had enough of serious biographies for the past few months.

Often times, I have observed how people are quick to point at others the moment shit hits the fan. I am guilty of this too. But shit don’t get wiped off from the fan no matter how hard you point at others. In the workplace, it’s very easy to witness such episodes.

I somehow believe that condemning failures is the main reason why finger-pointing becomes the most practiced exercise in the cubicles. We have been trained since young that failures is something to be shunned at all cost. We must not allow failures and all that training we get about the 101 ways to avoid making mistakes. And deep down in our subconscious, we fear failures almost as much as death itself. Worse yet, some even start to make up stories (read: lie) to cover up for their mistakes, which is a lot more effort than owning up to it. These make-believes don’t exactly help us to become a better person. hey just make us better liar.

That’s also not to say that we should blame ourselves for everything that went wrong. People get depressions because of this. It’s important to know accept the fact that we cannot resolve all the challenges around us. The idea here is to at least stop passing the buck around, take control of the situation and act on it. Even if we fail, it will be very likely we will put ourselves in a better position than before we started. So while we cannot get a perfect ten in every life’s challenges (which is impossible in my opinion), at least we are above the average because we keep working at it.

Like one of my school teacher used to say (I can’t give him credit because I couldn’t remember which teacher actually said it), “While you have one finger pointing at others, you have another four pointing back at yourself”.

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Am End Cees

July 6th, 2015

First, we read that JVC is quiting Malaysia and relocating to Thailand.

About 500 workers from consumer and professional electronics devices corporation — JVCKENWOOD Malaysia Sdn Bhd — were laid off as part of the Japanese company’s plans to relocate its operations, shutting down its plant here.

News of the factory’s official closure today had been making its rounds over social media, attracting netizens to lament on the workers’ plight and the state of economy.

While some described the sudden closure as being unfair to the workers, checks by The Rakyat Post revealed that this was not the case.

“The workers were not laid off suddenly as they were already notified of the closure earlier this year,” a factory worker said.

While some of the staff were retrenched, appropriate compensation was paid and JVC had also assisted others to secure employment elsewhere.

“They told us that the factory operations were moving to Thailand,” said the worker.

Source: The Rakyat Post

And then we read about the possibility of Shell’s winding up their IT operation here in Malaysia.

Around 850 jobs could be at stake at Shell offices in Cyberjaya as the Anglo-Dutch oil major consolidates its IT functions at a new base in Bangalore, India.

While no decision has yet been made, a senior officer dropped this bombshell during a town hall meeting with staff in Cyberjaya late last month, said sources.

The Bangalore move could also affect some 1,000 third party contractors if they are unable to relocate to India, the sources said.

Source: RoyalDutchShellPLC.com

And we always read about how our government provides tax rebates, free trade zones and many other perks to get these multi-national corporations (MNCs) to setup their operations here. These MNCs provides job opportunities and brings money to invest, so goes the logic.

Anyway, I’m rather amused by the way these MNCs just close shops like that, citing higher cost of operation as their main reason. In a way, as a business strategy, I totally agree that when the environment becomes hostile, a business should always relocate to a more business-friendly environment, e.g. cheaper labor, lower tax rates etc.

But bear in mind, these corporations do not have any loyalty to the Malaysia, or it’s likely they pledge no allegiance to any countries. They will stick around as long as the countries are conducive to their operation. Instead of spending resources to attract these MNCs, I suggest that we put more effort to build up the local businesses in Malaysia, specifically the small and medium enterprises (SMEs). These local businesses are the ones that faithfully contribute taxes and keeps the economy going even during the worst recessions. They are also likely the business segment that is responsible for the majority of the employment in Malaysia.

They are a lot of reasons why we should boost local businesses. Perhaps you can name a few.

While there’s nothing wrong with making Malaysia a lucrative place for foreign corporations to setup shop, but I really think that there’s nothing much being done to make life easier for local businesses.

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A Marketing Experiment while Getting My FujiXerox Machine

June 21st, 2015

There was this computer hardware company (we will call them Company AT) where I bought a few entry level Xerox printers 5 years ago. And ever since I checked the ‘Subscribe me to the latest promotion…’ check box, I have been receiving their newsletters. And I did not opt-out of the mailing list, which probably says alot about my level of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).

They started sending me emails, and the links in their emails were directed to their website at AT2U.com

And in the beginning of those emails, their website was either out of service, or was hacked. I actually took the trouble to call them up and alerted them about it, but they don’t seem to be able to fix it. Or nobody seemed bothered about their website.

And a few more months passed. They seemed to have decided that their website could be an important sales channel to complement their retail operation. And that’s when the SMS starts coming in, and I had to admit I was quite impressed at the level of customization that was invested in these promotional SMS- “Get Your Xerox Phaser 3010 Toners at Only RM225.00″.

They actually remembered which printer I bought.

And I did buy those toners from them.

And just today, I bought a bulky Fuji Xerox CM305DF for our new office. But I did not buy it from them. I got it from a retail store that I have never heard of in the mall.

Then, as I drove back to setup the printer in the office, I kept thinking what went wrong with Company AT’s marketing? They’ve been very consistent with their Petronas and KFC Vouchers. They occasionally sent me warnings about toners and printing supplies price hike which I find very useful.

But why didn’t I buy the CM305DF from Company AT? Where was my sense of loyalty to this company that has been persistently sending me product updates and offerings? I was just comparing their prices online with other online portals such as Lazada and Lelong yesterday, and they’d one of the lowest pricing.

The salesman that was attending to me wasn’t very knowledgeable and not at all helpful in closing the sale. He was lucky I was a determined buyer who had done his homework.

And so, I ran a list of possible factors that could have caused me to buy from the unknown retailer:

1) There was no additional value buying from Company AT. No member points, no rebates. Maybe free delivery, but I am already in the mall, so it makes no difference.

2) There’s a lack of human interaction when I am shopping online. There are a lot of other questions I threw to the salesman where I got almost instant answers, e.g. price of the toners, similar price products, cost of ownership, special features etc. I couldn’t get all these from the online stores, at least not instantly. And if you are shopping online at 11pm, the phone numbers don’t work either. I guess fast and timely human response is very important to get me to part with my money. Impulsiveness at work here.

3) I could get physical with the products. I tried to carry a few of the printers to gauge their weight, opened up the compartments and paper trays, checked out the cable connectivity. All these help to reinforce the idea of possessing the printer, even though I hadn’t pay for it yet. I was also able to instantly visualize how the printer would fit in my office. And there’s no way these information can come so easily from product photos on the web.

4) A retail space can be a very controlled experience. The moment I stepped into the retail shop, instead of being distracted by irrelevant banner ads, annoying Facebook game invites, I am surrounded by products that the retailers wants me to see. The retailer had somehow meticulously designed the surroundings to give him the best ROI per square feet. It’s like walking into a trap :-)

As a guy who runs a few e-commerce businesses, I am particularly curious in identifying what goes on in the mind of a potential customer who in the end, after all the marketing and communications I’ve done, still end up not buying from me. A returning customer is one of the best assets a business can have. If I can keep improving the odds of my customers coming back over and over again, we are on the right track to a healthy bottom line.

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OpenCart and Journal Theme

June 5th, 2015

If you are familiar with how OpenCart works, you would have realized by now that getting your OpenCart up-to-date can be a very overwhelming task.

Each time the folks at OpenCart announces a new release, everyone starts popping champagne because someone’s finally going to fix the critical bugs, but lo and behold, each new releases also introduces a new swarm of bugs.

That’s Open Source for you…

Anyway, if you are using Journal Theme for your OpenCart, always remember to update the Journal theme right after you updated OpenCart. It doesn’t matter if there’s no new version for Journal, but just proceed to update your Journal with the latest version you have on hand so that you overwrite the files on the freshly updated OpenCart. If you don’t update your Journal theme and proceed to access the admin pages, you might lose some or all of your Journal theme settings, which can be a pain-in-the-ass.

You will not get any warnings from your Journal theme. I learned this the hard way. You’ve been warned!

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WooCommerce Now Part of WordPress

May 31st, 2015

WooCommerce Now Part of WordPress

On 19th May, one of the most popular e-commerce WordPress plugins – WooCommerce becomes officially part of the WordPress family.

Some fast facts on WooCommmerce as of May 2015.

    Founders: Mark Forrester & Magnus Jepson
    Number of Employees: 55
    Downloads: 7 million with approximately 1 million active installed base
    Market Share: 30% of All Online Stores Worldwide (In comparison, my favorite e-commerce platform OpenCart has about 7.13%)
    Acquisition Cost (Speculated): USD30 million (Source: recode.net)

It’s Automattic’s biggest acquisition so far. With WordPress backing up WooCommerce, we know that:
1) e-Commerce is important to bloggers, and to Automattic.
2) Plug-ins development can be a lucrative business model.
3) Besides banner advertisements and sponsored posts, you can monetize your content on WordPress by selling physical goods

I have personally not used WooCommerce, only got around installing it 3 years ago on one of the blogs I manage. I didn’t like the interface and I had a difficult time convincing myself how a plug-in could turn WordPress into a full-fledged e-commerce platform- equipped with invoicing, payment, inventory and logistic features. Call me an old fart, but I am in the camp where if you try to do too many things, you start to compromise on your real strengths.

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The 37signals Manifesto

February 3rd, 2015

Some gold nuggets written back in 1999. Only came across it recently: 37signals.com/manifesto

Never too late.

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