Effective and Efficient

Chart of Purpose

Was listening to a podcast on AoC a few days back where the host Jordan Harbinger was Jeff Goins, author of The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do.

In their conversation, I discovered something that could be very useful for that million dollar question, “What should I do with my life?”

Jeff shared with the listeners the following chart which I’ve reproduced it visually here.

What Should You Do with Your Life
The chart is not the ultimatum of your life’s purpose but it’s a very useful tool for anyone to start narrowing down their choices in life. It’s a top-down approach, where you select a few activities in each different circles and see how well each of these activities overlaps each other.

For instance, if you love to repair VHS tapes (if you actually know what that is) and you are very good at it, you might find yourself in tough spot because there’s simply not much demand for VHS tapes anymore.

I would strongly recommend you to listen to the podcast. It’s only a few minutes.

Good luck in finding your calling!

2016-12-14T08:28:18+08:00December 14th, 2016|Productivity|0 Comments

Training vs Education

It’s easy and actually quite common to interpret that both training and education means the same thing. But as we shall read it from Thomas E. Ricks, the author of The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today, training and education is 2 very different things:

Training tends to prepare one for known problems, while education better prepares one for the unknown, the unpredictable, and the unexpected.

Training is very much like a step-by-step exercise repeated continuously to achieve an expected result. Think of it like a simulation with predefined objectives, with the set of challenges known and familiar to the participant. Usually, it’s also expected for the participant to engage training exercises within confined rules and regulations. The desired outcome is when the participant becomes very competent tactically in the given challenges.

Consider another scenario where a Susan, a six year old child, is enrolled in a coloring exercise. In an effort to train her to become very good at coloring, she was told not to color outside the lines. Next, she was told that she must color based on the example given (the objective). The grass must be light green in color. The sky must be blue. The trunk of the tree must be brown. Any variations from the example, the exercise is considered a failure.

Everyday as part of her training regime, Susan is given new coloring exercises and taught many different coloring techniques to achieve the desired outcome. And these exercises are often repeated until she masters the technique, which is evaluated by how close her results are to the examples given. Eventually, she becomes very skillful in most of the coloring techniques and she can reliably reproduce the outcomes that is expected of her. Susan is now a very well-trained colorist.

Next, we look into the realms of education, which may sound very similar to training but is essentially a very different form of cognitive exercise. In education, you are given a lot of contextual information. In our coloring example, the child is taught about primary, secondary and tertiary colors. She also learn about warm and cool colors complementary colors. She is also taught that black and white are not really colors (this is a highly debatable topic, depending on which color theory you are coming from). She also learns how colors affect our moods and give meanings to our every lives.

In short, education seems like learning a whole bunch of theories, so much so that the student sometimes would start to doubt if it’s really necessary to be so educated in the practical world we live in. However, it is only with a good understanding of theories, an in-depth knowledge of the subject matter and a habit of constantly questioning the status quo that we can hope to confront the unpredictable and randomness of real-world challenges.

Training puts you in a box and asks you to give your very best within the boundaries. Education informs you that though the problem is about the box, the solution is likely outside the box.

If your sixteen year-old daughter told you that she was going to take a sex education course at high school, you might be pleased. What if she announced she was going to take part in some sex training at school?

Jay Cross, credited with inventing the term e-learning

So, are you well-trained or well-educated? Maybe you have the best of both worlds :-)

2015-10-08T02:09:05+08:00October 8th, 2015|Daily Observations, Productivity|0 Comments


E-mail attachments can sometimes be a very damaging thing- not referring to the virus and scams that you get everyday. It’s the fact that once your attachment is sent out, there’s no way you can ‘undo’ it. You can definitely remember the time when your attachment is sent to the wrong intended recipient… All the embarrassing damage control you mustered up to ensure things doesn’t get any worse. Only it’s already out of your control.

If only there’s an email app that attaches a file by linking it to a specific location on a server, instead of literally attaching it together with the email. This way, the sender can choose to edit or remove the attached file referred to in the e-mail.

That should save everyone a lot of unnecessary awkwardness.

2015-03-20T01:51:15+08:00November 23rd, 2014|Daily Observations, Productivity, Technology|0 Comments

How to Make Your Family Rich

Rice paddy fields at Dawn

“No one who can rise before dawn 360 days a year fails to make his family rich.”

That’s a very interesting quote I keep referring to from Gladwell’s Outliers. It’s a saying originated by Chinese paddy farmers, which literally means, wealth comes to those who works hard with consistency and perseverance. In the book, this is contrasted with the Western culture’s wheat cultivation, where there’s a gap of about a 3-4 months where no significant labor is performed on the field because of the unsuitability of the soil during those period.

Note that, the quote refers to paddy farmers. Hence, their work cycle has to start in the morning, before the sun’s first light.

Today, many of us no longer toil the fields, and we’ve come a long way since the industrial era. Many enterprises I know no longer practice such orthodox way of running their business. Case in point, the very platform I am using to write this short essay is built by Automattic, the company that did away with cubicles and every employee works from home.

Some even say that by not reporting to work by a certain time of a day, one is considered an individual lack of discipline. Of course, if one first agree with the working hours, and has the same idea on productivity and efficiency. If by working from 9 to 5 implies great efficiency, we would have a very effective government service- just look at the hours they put in and the number of people employed by the government. We could easily be the most productive and efficient government on Planet Earth.

What do you say about working hours and it’s effect on productivity and efficiency, especially in the context of a technology-based enterprises (where creativity, innovation, effective problem-solving and decision-making is of utmost importance)?

2013-11-18T04:29:44+08:00November 18th, 2013|Daily Observations, Entrepreneurship, Productivity, Technology|0 Comments

Priority or Focus

There’s only so many things you can do today.

Yes, it’s a good idea to prioritize, but I feel it still leaves too much room for distractions.

What if you limit yourself to only ONE assignment today? I bet you can do it really well, today.

What’s that one thing that cannot wait?

If you can only stock your warehouse with only 3 products, what would they be? And by focusing all your efforts on only these 3 products, I am sure the results would be very different.

What if you only serves 5 dishes in your restaurant?

Sometimes, limitations is not such a bad thing.

2012-08-24T02:01:36+08:00August 24th, 2012|Daily Observations, Entrepreneurship, Productivity|3 Comments

Offer a Ride, and Make Some Money!

A World War II car sharing propaganda poster.

A World War II car sharing propaganda poster.

I’ve always wanted to develop a car pooling platform. There are a few reasons why car pooling would work very well in Malaysia:

1) Most city people are getting quite environmental conscious.

2) Car pooling is way better than taking an express bus or train.

3) Depending on who you are hitching the ride with and the conditions attached with the ride, car pooling usually delivers you to your doorstep using the least amount of time. Express buses, ironically, usually stops for long ‘tea-breaks’ along their journeys which makes the traveling much more unbearable that it already is.

4) You can collect a little fee from each passengers to share the cost of traveling.

5) You can have someone to talk to during the entire trip. Hence car pooling could be a very effective socializing tool.


Yet, there are a few reasons why car pooling might not work:

1) Hitching a ride with a stranger, especially in a crime-infested nation like Malaysia is an absolute no-no. So, if you can only car pool with someone you know, the destinations and trips available would be severely limited.

2) Most car pooling trips are usually one-way trips. So, it’s very likely that you would still need to take an express bus on your way back to your original destination. Unless, of course, car pooling becomes a major part of the motoring culture in Malaysia.

3) If you are stuck with an ‘unpleasant’ passenger for the entire trip, say from Johor Bahru all the way to Penang (about a thousand kilometres), you would wish you’d taken the bus instead.

So, while I was pondering the feasibility of an online car pooling platform for Malaysians, I decided to do some quick research on existing online car pooling systems. Ah…the wonders of the Internet, and it wasn’t long before I stumble upon a car pooling system that is very close to what I have in mind. It is linked to Google Map’s API, which is a great feature and it automatically allows me to publish my rides to people I personally know on Facebook (via the Facebook Connect API). The car sharing tool that can do this right away is Zimride.


Now, you can start offering your ride too, and make some pocket money! Oh, in case you are wondering, Zimride did not pay me for this article ;-)

2009-10-01T01:23:15+08:00October 1st, 2009|Daily Observations, Productivity, Technology|4 Comments