Thursday, June 11, 2009

An Inception & An End

I my eyes and see that the buildings and shophouses have been replaced with wooden huts erected sporadically on wide open padi fields, narrow winding roads have taken the place of wide freeways. I know I'm close. Arriving minutes later at a tucked-away little serene retreat, I summarily consume the welcome drink and took the hot towel out of gratitude for the show of hospitality. I have other concerns; my whole body is tingling with nervousness and excitement as I scan the vicinity from the reception area. And there in the distance, against clear blue skies, sitting on the balcony as if reflecting, was she; the subject of my restlessness the past few weeks and the sole purpose of this surprise trip. I call her mobile and ask "A penny for your thoughts?" She is perplexed… then turns till I come into her direct line of sight. I wave, smiling my widest grin… I hope she’s happy to see me…

... soaked up all the sights and sounds the next 3 days - the temples, pagodas, a brief look into life under the old regime, interacting with the local kids and that one bicycle trip in the drizzle to town at night. I learnt that one of the worst feelings is that of missing someone when the person is just next to you. While I knew deep down that I was never over the love we shared despite the year apart, I never thought the reaction at seeing her again and indulging in a common passion for discovery could be so overwhelming for me. Mostly because we were both happy and excited on this new adventure… and I remembered that we had been this way before. We both had a substantial part to play in our own demise, much larger than what both had chosen to remember. Yes, I see twice as much looking back now...

And I promise myself that I'll never look back again. What was I thinking then. Our demise, for most part, was your doing.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Managing Upwards

Working where I do, you get a lot of smart-assed "chiefs" with bright ideas. I've somehow learnt to play my cards right and personally I feel managing your bosses should be a required skill set for every coolie in the corporate world; you make the head honcho happy, you get the desired results (for yourself as well!), and you will be slated as first in line for that possible promotion. If there is one.

I DON'T suck up, I manage upwards. Taken from Mr. Jones' Rules for the Mordern Man (thanks Shiqah for the book... 2007 was it?), I'm sharing some excerpts with you readers:
  1. Find out how your boss likes to do everything and then make sure things happen that way. It's not underhanded, nor expedient, just good business practice.
  2. Some bosses hate it when staff come into thier office for a meeting/ chat/ whatever and don't bring a pen and notepad. What, are you so gifted you're going to remember everything the boss asks you to do?
  3. Never outshine the master... even if the master is making an ass of themselves. Never contradict your boss in public or show them up in front of people. Do it in private.
  4. Bosses want solutions, not problems. This doesn't mean that you should keep problems from the boss, but ideally you should also go armed with a solution or two (or three).
  5. Never hide things from the boss, If there's a problem, let them know (unless you're clever enough to get rid of said problem without the boss knowing).
  6. If you screw up, admit it immediately. Your boss will think more of you for doing so.
  7. Never let your boss make a mistake. If they need more facts in order to make a decision, do the legwork for them i.e. if their presentation is weak, beef it up. Good bosses train you to take their place so that when they get promoted, you can progress.
  8. Don't sulk and be surly, You boss will so not respect you.
  9. Don't dwell on things, be it mistakes or past glories. Your boss is moving on to the next problem, and expects you to be there with them, on the front line, anticipating solutions with them.
  10. Check your boss' schedule so that when you walk into thier office and launch into a tirade about something, they are not about to receive 10 representatives from a Chinese trade delegation. You won't get your boss' full attention (or any of it), and they'll be irritated that you've broken their concentration.
  11. If a project or deal involves your boss' immediate boss, be aware that your boss will be taking extra care with it and that they will expect to be updated as to its progress at every step of the way.
  12. Get back to bosses immediately too. If you asked someone to do something, the last thing you'd want is to ask said person how it's going. You'd want them to fill you in before you've had a chance to wonder why they didn't get back to you.
  13. Don't bring up too many issues at one time. Bosses tend to focus on one thing at a time, and will not take kindly to you trying to solve half a dozen problems in one go.
  14. Don't be a dittohead. If your boss thinks you'll say yes to anything, they won't trust you to make decisions. But the most important phrase you'll ever master is 'You're right'. It shows you've thought about it.
  15. Never take credit for something you didn't do, as the boss will find out and wonder why you are obviously so insecure.
  16. Don't make you bosses wait for you (don't make ANYONE wait for you for that matter).
  17. Make sure you try out solutions before suggesting them. Your boss may just ask you 'Have you checked with the client?'
  18. Ideally, when your boss suggests something might be a good idea, you need to be able to turn around and say 'I've already done it.' The boss won't think you're a smart-ass, he'll think you're smart, full stop.
  19. When sending bosses email, don't turn it into an essay. Give them short and concise pieces of information, preferably the sort that need short answers.
  20. Lastly, if you can't manage upwards, then I would think it's probably YOUR fault, not the fault of your boss (who, incidentally, hasn't complained about you).

If your boss is an ass, do what I do and tell their boss. And if that doesn't work out, leave. Also, making your boss contented with your work has a good effect on the team - when you're on leave and uncontactable, the boss won't have to bug your other teammates on an outstanding item you left out in your leave notes. Well, here's to making work relationships function as smoothly as possible. Remember, at the end of the day, it's about getting work done.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Manic As Ever

I've started blogging again after an 8-month disappearance.

Admittedly, I may not be able to update this site as often, but it's an available avenue to pen down my thoughts, worthy chronicles and misadventures. Should I find the time. Why? Because writing it all down is similar to living the moment twice.

Do check in now and then. Feedbacks are VERY much appreciated... in all frankness & brutality.

Thank You Ladies

Matrilineality is a system in which lineage is traced through the mother and maternal ancestors. In feminist culture, the word is synonymously used with "matriarchy". In the context of my family, the female dominance extends not only in numbers but also in influence.

Very much akin to a matriarchy, I have placed my grandma as the genesis of what my family is today - more importantly what I am today.

While I've met my granddad in his lifetime, I never knew him. He left my grandmother to set-up another family while I was still a toddler. Compared to my older cousins, I never had the man's strict and regimental methods of upbringing. My point of reference, my disciplinarian, and my source of much love and comfort as a boy were my grandmother, my mother, and her sisters.

My grandma and my grandad were hooked up after their respective spouses passed on, each bringing a daughter into the marriage. They later had 3 more boys and 3 more girls. From what I hear, grandad was merely the breadwinner and spiritual leader of the household. He lived out his years with the other family, but I have a feeling that their dysfunctional and stereotypical malay attributes was something he'd desired less of.

Naturally, my grandma took the helm of the household, assisted by her 2 lieutenants to raise the other 6. The women in my family are the real success stories. My grandma was a teacher and, always so calm, collected and ever so poised in her mannerisms. She would take time to look her best, and believed that no task was worth embarking on if it can't be done right. She wouldn't hesitate to set me right with the cane and her deadly pinches to the abs and thighs. One of my fondest memories of grandma was our common interest in marine life documentaries; we would be in front of the TV together watching them in the evenings.

The women she raised went on to become a legal secretary, an accountant and the ones with entrepreneurial abilities, owners of private businesses. They inherited my grandma's self-assuredness, independence, preseverence, and quiet grace. And they imparted to me the same, with a special focus on how I should treat my women.

My grandma passed on sometime in 1994, recently followed by the 2 eldest aunts in 2007 and 2009. This brings closer to home the mortality of the other women, for they could be next... my own mother included. I was carrying an umbrella, sheltering my mother the other day from the intense rays of the afternoon sun when we went to visit my grandad's grave near Batu Caves. I didn't care much for the man's mark of his life in this world given the lack of sentamentalities. All the while noticing my mother, under her immaculate dressing and her D&G sunglasses, I could never imagine the vulnerability of one of my idols - she was always invincible in my eyes. I draw comfort that should the inevitable occur, I've made up for my disappointments of the past and her strength will live on in my sisters and me.

Incidentally, my youngest sister has blossomed nicely - I wouldn't have been able to recognise her if I bumped into her on the streets - and she will be commencing her Sociology degree with NTU in August 09... looks and brains, a product of our upbringing I'd like to think.

I am ever so proud to mention that I was raised by the women in my household. They are the powerhouses. Thank you ladies. Only problem is that they've set the standard so high, I cannot find a significant other with comparable strength, determination and beauty.