Employee vs Employer

I was an employee half my career life, climbing the corporate ladder with much enthusiasm. Why I describe it as an exciting experience is because it was truly FUN, looking back now. The great challenge has always been to see how high I could climb. I’d reached where I wanted to be and more.

Being an employee isn’t such a bad thing altogether. You clock in and out and then have a life outside the office. You don’t have to carry the weight of the whole company on your shoulders (as bosses do). You are only responsible for your own scope of work, that’s it. You can go on leave when you want a vacation, you can go on medical leave when you are ill, you can literally leave the desk for a week without worrying about anything much!

Office politics? It’s everywhere, not only happening in big corporations. I can’t understand why must there be office politics? If the same amount of effort, time, strategic thinking and attention are applied on the right thing, i.e. in performing your work, I think not only will your boss be happy with you, you will be too! Productivity will be high, so would your reward.

Naturally, there would be “recruiters” going around to get people to join their camps. If you take sides, you don’t know for sure which is the winning team. Bear in mind, the winning team today may not be one tomorrow. Being neutral doesn’t mean you are a fence-sitter. You just know who you are and what you are there for….to earn a good living and have a bright career. When dealing with fellow colleagues, being diplomatic is wise. Do move around in the social circle, be friendly. Steering clear from trouble-makers but remain polite.

Perform your best at work. If you have been working with your current boss for some years, you would have understood his way of working. The ability to think ahead will be brilliant! Bosses always prefer staffs to be pro-active; making suggestions for improvement or provide solutions. Even if it is not the correct answer, at least you take the initiative to try. That tells a lot about your attitude towards work.

When you are new to the job or project, learn like a sponge. Don’t hesitate to volunteer and do a bit more. By being mentally and physically involved in the job, you will certainly learn faster. If you don’t know, it is okay to admit it but be willing to learn. What you have learnt will be with you forever, it is an asset.

Always ask when you are unsure of your position or the direction the company is heading. Get to know the company’s short, mid and long-term plan. This will help you plan your career growth in that company. Bosses always enjoy working with a team, with common goal and understanding. Be a team player.

If you have been a performer with great results, come year-end performance evaluation, if the situation is right, have courage to ask for a raise. If there is an opening for a more senior position and you know you are up to it, inform your immediate superior that you would like to apply for that position. Do not make the common mistake many employees make, i.e. always believe that bosses will know what you’ve done over the year and will reward you automatically. You have to ASK! Bosses have many things on their mind, but to count your achievements is not one of them.

Being an employer isn’t easy, or else, everyone will be a boss, isn’t it? It looks cool and easy on the outside but what goes on inside is a mystery. Sometimes, there are no off days , not even weekends and medical leave for bosses. Working more than 10 hours a day is a norm. These happen when the business is at the growth stage. If you have “landed”, meaning the business has matured, then you can enjoy the fruit of your hard labour. What many envied are what they see of the matured businesses. To get there, one must go through the rags before riches, unless you receive a windfall or inheritance. Anyone in business who built it from scratch have many sob stories behind it. It is from that hardship which make them stronger and more determined to succeed. Once they reached the top, they deserve to enjoy the fruit of their hard labour, more than anybody else. I have high respect for these business people. They understand extremely well what life is all about….

In business, you have to go through teething problems first; like initial business set up, marketing and sales, then partners and employees issues. When your business started to grow, you will have to stay current and be innovative to ensure you maintain your spot in the business world. If being ordinary isn’t satisfying, you must do something out of norm to be the first in the market. You have to keep cracking your head for new ideas, solutions, applications, etc. It is not peculiar to find employers working through the nights. They have to continuously think about the sales, employees issues, cash-flow, etc. When there is any constraint, employees’ benefits always come first before theirs.

Communication from top down is most important to garner continuous support and loyalty from the staff members. Let every member know your directions and plans so that they can work in the same tune with you. Ensure every head of department convey the right messages to their members, steering them towards one direction, to meeting your goals and objectives. Delegate tasks to the right employees and empower them to act. This makes them feel important and act as motivation for them to work harder to produce better results. We can’t deny the fact that everyone likes to feel important. Why not accord that to your star employees. You need to give in order to receive more. Act as a mentor to capable assistants so that they can take away some tasks from you. Learn to let go a little. That will free you up for better and more important things to do. Things like planning and strategizing, networking, creating business opportunities, etc.

All in all, I feel that as long as you carry out your role well, regardless if you are an employee or employer, you can never go too wrong. There is no short cut to success. Just learn from your mistakes and that of others. Keep moving forward.

All the best!

~Alice N.


Are We Just Passers-by?

The recent hit and run accident involving a 2-year old toddler shocked the whole world beyond words! Many people were fuming mad with the van drivers, passers-by and the parents. Thank God there was this lady who was humane enough to act without much hesitation. Otherwise, I can’t imagine what would be left of the baby. So sad that it happened to such a young being (anyone for that matter) and people around the world mourned for her death. I can’t bear the thought that if she were to survive the accident, would she be whole? Would she lead a normal life? With this thought in mind, I’m glad that God loves her more….I’d like to think that she’ll be at a safer, better place, well and happy always. I can only imagine the pain her parents have to go through now for the loss of their beautiful baby.

Coming back to our home ground, many people are passers-by too; whereby they will slow down to look, hesitate for a while before moving on. In the case of snatch theft, when the victim shouted for help, onlookers just looked and shook heads feeling sorry for the victim. Sad, isn’t it? It is a relief to know that not all are just passers-by. Fortunately, there are still some Good Samaritans left. There were times when we saw people reacted quickly to help the victim to safety, some manned the traffic, or someone called the emergency line to report the accident, etc. Bless them all.

When we hear the sirens from afar, do make way for the rescue teams i.e. police patrol, ambulances and fire brigades to reach the accident site without any further delay – by simply getting out of the way! That much all of us can do for the victims. Sometimes, we encountered some insensitive people who refused to make way, and instead racing with these ambulances! You can never tell what goes on that driver’s mind! (sigh)

When we see what happened to the toddler in China, don’t act too surprised. I don’t mean to be insensitive or disrespectful. We all know that similar event happened all over the world, which could be unknown to us as they were not reported. Let’s make this a wake up call to all human beings. Revisit our moral values. Think about what we can offer to another human being. Think, what if the victim is someone known to us? When such things happened before our eyes, what would be the first thing we should do. Small gesture does make a huge difference, especially when it is about life and death matter.

For parents with young children, please keep close watch of them. You cannot afford to turn your back even for several seconds! You have no idea where they could have wandered off to. If the road visibility is low, some drivers may not see the little figure in front, side or back of their vehicles. Just keep them close to you at all times when you are in public areas. Hold on to them at all times, if you can.

Another scene is streets in residential areas. In the evening, you can find many young children led by maids or family members, cycling, running, or playing in the middle of the street! Some even play at the curve/bend of the street where no one can see any oncoming traffic! I get very mad when I see adults with a group of children playing in the middle of the street and expecting drivers to watch over them! How shall we drill this into their adult heads that the street is not the playing ground?! Every residential area has playgrounds and big fields for running around. This scene only waits for an accident to happen, I pray not. When accidents really happened, parents would be quick to blame road users and not themselves, who first allowed the children to play at the wrong place!!!

Parents reading this and unaware where your children are playing at, please check and set strict safety rules for the children and the maids to follow. There is always a right place for doing something. If you love your children and do not wish something bad to befall them, this is the time to act. If it has been yourself allowing your own children to play and cycle in circle on the street along your house, stop this instant! Don’t be lazy. Take a short walk to the playground to let them play safely there. Otherwise, they would think that the streets are their play areas too, without knowing the grave danger lurking behind that bend of the street.

Let’s decide to do a good deed by not being just passers-by and to always watch over our young children like hawks! Keep them close-by, within eyesight and ear shot. Never mind if people call you paranoid or whatever. It’s better to be safe than sorry…..

~ Alice N.

Who Says…….

“Who says, who says you’re not perfect, who says you’re not worth it, who says you’re the only one that’s hurting. Trust me, trust the price of beauty, who says you’re not pretty, who says you’re not beautiful, who says”. That, everyone knows is a hit song, sung by Selena Gomez.

Well, since when we care so much what people say about us? Yea right, you’re going to say since the day you were born. You are not wrong, actually. That’s why you notice babies and little tots keep doing the same act knowingly that they can draw more attention and praises from other people. You can see that they enjoy being the centre of attention and at the same time, showered with strings of praises.

There you go ; Human beings, of any age, are continuously seeking to hear good words about themselves from people around them, known to them or strangers alike. Of course, everyone tries to avoid, as much as possible, listening to negative ones.

When you think or believe you are smarter/good/charming/etc. why do you care so much when others say otherwise? Could it be that the person is telling the truth or wait a minute, could the person aim that hurtful statement just to spite you? Nonetheless, it is always good to find out more before you decide to give in.

I have heard and seen people brushing away compliments for a another person by saying something “hurtful” in the person’s presence, without realizing how bad it sounded. I mean like, a child did very well in his studies. When someone else praised the child, humble parent(s) would be quick to dismiss it and said that “it’s nothing“, or “my child is not that smart“, or “my child is actually very lazy“, or “it’s pure luck!“. I can understand when parents choose to be humble and not wanting to boast such excellent achievement. But, to the extent of belittling that young person, who deserves none other than a compliment, is just not cool! Please parents, just graciously say “thank you“, if you don’t want to say more. It’s good enough for all.

If it is not corrected this instant, over time, it would leave a permanent mark in the receiver (in this case, the young child) e.g. loss of self-confidence, lower self-esteem, lack of self-worth i.e. started to believe that he/she is never good enough or maybe simply given up altogether (because no matter how well he does, the parents just won’t notice or feel proud of them)! It could happen to adults too, anyone and anywhere. So watch what we say to others, as well.

We have no control over other people’s action and speech. What is within our control is, when you know that is not right, don’t let it get to you. Don’t for a minute be doubtful about your capability. Stick to your ground by choosing to believe in yourself. If you are not strong enough to counter that, look for someone who can boost your confidence and who is more respectful and objective about it.

I must qualify that not all remarks are made with bad intention. There are times when the remarks are true! This happens when we are over-confident that we disregard everyone else, when we are in denial and refuse to face the truth. Here, we should pause to re-assess the statement, honestly. It could be one spoken by a trusted friend, spouse, parent, sibling, employer, colleague, etc. This kind of remark is spoken with good intention, by someone who cares about you, who takes the effort to speak to you about it, risking your friendship/relationship. If you know, at a corner of your mind, that he/she might be speaking the truth, it is worth listening and find out why he/she thinks/feels that way about you. You might re-discover your true self, who knows?

When you face such challenges with an open mind, you’ll learn more about yourself. Through all these “psychological trainings”, you’ll only grow stronger. As you grow older, you’ll realise that you don’t need approval from everyone in everything that you do or say! This is because you are more mature and you know yourself well enough to recognize what a genuine judgment is and what is not. If it is not, you can choose to dismiss it altogether. If it is true, you will allow yourself to bask in the limelight. And if the negative statement is true, learn from it. Make necessary changes to have a more meaningful life. The only thing that is constant is change! We have to keep changing to adapt to our environment, agree?

Finally, you must love yourself first before you can afford to love someone else, and to have a meaningful and lasting relationship. No one can hurt you unless you allow it. Always remember that the final choice is always yours. What you choose to believe and accept. You are what you think you are….so do your best to make the right choice!

Now, tell me again, who says you are not perfect, who says you are not worth it? Who says….

~ Alice N.

Nasi Lemak

Nasi Lemak is considered the national dish of Malaysia, enjoyed by people of all races. Traditionally, this comes as a platter of food wrapped in banana leaves, steamed coconut milk rice with cucumber slices, hard-boiled egg, fried crispy little anchovies (ikan bills), roasted peanuts, onion-anchovies-sambal at its core. As a more substantial meal, nasi lemak can also come with other accompaniments, mostly spicy, such as fried chicken, fried eggs, cuttlefish, cockles, beef/chicken rendang (beef or chicken pieces stewed in coconut milk).

Nasi Lemak is an all-time favourite of all Malaysians. It is one of my fave food too. It can be taken as breakfast, lunch, dinner or even supper. First off, I must qualify that I am a food lover but not a food critic. Then, you wonder why do I write about Nasi Lemak today?

Well, it’s the after-effect of watching a local production movie called “NASI LEMAK 2.0“. The movie is about the journey of this chef and his companion in search of the right people to teach him ways to cook the mouth-watering food. He met with a couple – Baba and Nyonya (from personal experience, Nyonya cooks real mean Sambal), an Indian man who is most knowledgeable in spices, and a Malay family (I think, they must be the ones who put everything together to complete the special meal).

What I personally learnt from this movie comes from the process of preparing the meal. I’m talking about the rice and accompaniments:

# crispy anchovies – method of frying is important to keep it crispy at all times. Keep watch of the heat.

# roasted peanut – not in the oven, mind you. I was told by a Chinese chef that her fragrant peanuts have to be stir-fried in a clean wok over low fire. Again, it’s chef’s secret as different chefs produced different result.

# Sambal – I can see sliced onions and anchovies in the sweet and spicy gravy. This is the determinant factor to the whole Nasi Lemak. If the Sambal is good, so will be the packet of Nasi Lemak.

# Rice – steamed rice with coconut milk which draws fragrance from the screw pine leaves (daun pandan). There must be the right amount of coconut milk to ensure that the rice is not too dry or soft. I noticed some chefs included stalks of lemon grass or slices of ginger to localise the food.

As you can see, every condiments are skilfully prepared with great care and attention. Nasi Lemak is like, us as a family, people to a country, a team of workers, anyone and everyone. Each person’s role is important whereby, one cannot do without the other. When all play their roles well, the end result will be…..none other than, perfect!

If all this while you have been wondering what is missing in your life or you feel emptiness in certain part of your life, “unwrap the pack” to see what is actually missing.

Take for example a basic Nasi Lemak meal consisting of the fragrant rice, crunchy peanuts and crispy anchovies, hard-boiled egg, slices of cucumber and Sambal. It is not a complete packet if one of these ingredients is missing.

Same goes to your life/career….what makes it complete, ask yourself. Now that you have identified all accompaniments of your life, pay more attention to any missing links(s). Think of what you can do to fill in the gap. If you do not know how to achieve that, seek out someone who does. It may not necessarily come as a whole. In parts are just as well. Because, at the end, it will be you who is going to pack it all together as one.

Yeah, life is like Nasi Lemak. So tasty but spicy too! Now, all this writing about Nasi Lemak, makes me crave for one. Gotta go for my Nasi Lemak break! Yummy….

~ Alice N.

It’s Not Always Sunny :) :'( :/ :D

Weather changes constantly. One minute sunny, the next pouring cats and dogs, windy, or cloudy. In all my posts, I wrote to share my thoughts and experience, maybe bringing hope and sunshine into people’s lives when they read them.

A thought just came to my mind. Life just isn’t filled with cheers but tears too. Let’s be realistic. I feel that I ought to write about some gray moments and how I cope with them. I’m only human and I do have some down times. I had gone through slumps before and I know life will continue to serve me that once in a while. When that happens, I shall allow myself to be in the slump temporarily. Then, I would tell myself, “Enough is Enough. Cut it out!“, followed by, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade out of them“. Next, start cracking my head on how to move forward. Oh yes, I do talk to myself. I find that self-talk helps a lot, especially during challenging times.

There were moments when I just wanted to crawl under the cover, hoping that the sadness/fear/hurt would pass me by, like the gray clouds being blown away by the wind. I also resorted to watching sad movies to let the tears pour out freely. It’s like draining the wretched feeling I had inside of me. When people said that crying makes you feel better, it is true! Try it and you’ll know what I mean.

During such down time, I also drown myself in books. Sometimes in novels and some in motivational books seeking guidance, inspiration and wisdom. When I allow slumps to set in, it is like validating my feeling of helplessness. But, a BIG BUT, I must not let it carry on for far too long. Embracing the sense of helplessness or sadness for a short while is fine. Not for a long period of time, or you may become melancholic. When that happens you will continue to envelope yourself in self-pity, which would suck you deeper and deeper, into a bottomless black hole. Be careful there.

When people say, “Fake It Till You Believe It“, it’s true. When I put my state of mind in forced happiness, by thinking of happy thoughts, it would automatically put a smile on my face (which I instantly feel my heart opens up like the first day break) and start thinking positive (that makes me think of any possible solutions).

Another way which worked for me was when I could see that my issue was not as bad as others I knew of or heard of, after all. What I learnt from this experience is that when we magnify our issues, it would fill our brains with demotivating thoughts! We would be strapped to the problems! Conversely, when we see that we are not so worst off, it only occupies a small fraction of our brains, leaving us more room to search for solutions!

To sum it all up :

# validate your feelings; it is alright to feel down
# allow slump time
# set the time when you want to get out of slump, as short as possible. Not more than a week, please.
# then, surround yourself with positive energy – family, friends, cheerful environment, etc. Don’t forget positive self-talks.
# get down from your high horse, ask for help. If you have to let someone takeover, so be it.
# remember that this is only temporary. The clouds and rain will clear soon. The sun will then come out again.
# have faith in yourself.

If you happen to have down time now, I hope this helps. Take it easy, pal. What goes up will come down and what gets down will go up again. Life is like that! It’s not always sunny….

Good Luck!

~ Alice N.

Dear Children,

I have always wanted to be your friend. To speak words which are soothing to your ears, words you like to hear. To agree with you, to please you. To do things your way. To agree instead of disagree. To earn as many star ratings from you. But…..

My wonderful children, as much as I wanted to be your best pal, I am also your mother. I don’t want to choose either one. I want to be both with you; I choose to be your MOM and your FRIEND. There is no hard and fast rule which comes first or second. Depending on the situation, my role will switch from one to another, where applicable.

By being your MOM, naturally, I shall set some boundaries. I don’t enjoy being strict on you, but I have to, sometimes. However, I do allow certain degree of freedom as long as you can handle it. I shall always discuss with you when I decide to take away any benefit. It is only temporary, my precious. When I feel that you’re ready for more freedom, rest assured, you will have it. Please don’t rush to grow up. Every bittersweet experience you go through now will form the firm foundation to your adult lives. I shall hope that you would cherish every single day of your life.

As your FRIEND, when you are hurt, upset, angry, disappointed, frustrated, afraid or in doubt, I shall always be there for you. Just call and I’ll come to you; lending you my ears to listen to your troubles; offer my shoulder to lean your tired head on; a warm bear hug to comfort you; sitting next to you, accompanying you in silence till you are ready to talk about it; or to brainstorm the issue together, if you wish. I shall first allow you space to handle the situation on your own, unless you ask for it and when I feel that my intervention is appropriate, then I shall step in. Of course, the mother in me would do anything to chase away the blues to see that sweet, heart-warming smile and listen to the lovely tune of your laughter again. But, I must prevent myself from jumping off my skin and start taking over from you. You must at least try first, okay?

As your MOM and FRIEND, when you are wrong, I must let you know and give you the chance to make it right. You will surely learn from the experience, my sweethearts. Please understand why I choose not to be too protective over you, for your own good. Also understand why I want you to learn to be independent. As I’ve said before, I won’t be with you forever. For as long as I’m with you, I shall guide you as walk along your path of life. In short, I shall teach you to fish, instead of fishing for you. That way, you’ll Learn to survive well with or without me.

Children, all parents wish for the best for their young ones. Likewise for me. There will be times when you are confused or even puzzled over some actions or decisions I made. Please feel free to ask; no question is silly when you seek further understanding. It is best to get the right answer than to make a wild guess. You may get it right, you may not. If not, it may cause unnecessary misunderstanding. We don’t want that do we?

So my lovely prince and princess, always remember that you can count on us to be there when you need us, your Daddy and I. We love you always ❤

Love always,

Doing What You Like, Liking What You Do.

Whatever you do in your life, choose it well. Choose to do something which you enjoy doing. Reason being, when you do something which you like, you’ll enjoy doing it. It takes lesser efforts too.

Just like studying; take up what you enjoy learning about. When you study what you are interested in, your mind is more receptive towards subject matter, and it absorbs information more willingly and easily. You are more attentive and proactive too. I believe that contributes largely to success in your studies.

When it comes to work, if you engage in activities which you are passionate about, you’ll be eager to learn and volunteer to do more. Because, you know that by offering to do more, you’ll get the opportunity to learn better. You don’t find that to be a burden at all! Ever heard of people who get paid for their hobbies? Many people these days, put their hobbies to good work, and earn well too. I’ve known quite a number of friends who put their baking, handicraft, sewing, designing and writing skills to earning good income!

As for me, I am passionate about what I do. I enjoy the challenge of looking for solutions to my clients’ financial and wealth preservation issues. Not every case is the same and the level of complexity differs from client to client. It can be as straight forward as planning a client’s cash/budget management, lifestyle protection, retirement planning, or as complicated as estate planning, generational wealth strategy and business succession planning, for instance. Every case is exciting to me. I’d give it my full attention as I would handling a newborn baby. Being able to put the jigsaw puzzle together can be challenging but most satisfying, especially when you have a happy client and when the client turns to be a good friend, at the end of the whole exercise.

When you are doing what you like, you must really like what you do! I have people who told me that they like planning but dislike dealing with clients; there is no way you can come up with a good strategy without meeting and understanding the client. Some like to meet with clients but don’t like administrative works like writing reports, filing, etc. There is no two-way about it….you’ve got to have it as a whole.

If you dislike something very much, find out what is the reason behind this strong reaction. If you can identify it, you may find a way around it, or better, fix it. Could it be because you don’t know how to perform the task? If that is so, seek out someone who is good at it and learn from him/her. It is alright to ask for help. Everyone does that, one way or another. If you find an unwilling teacher, go to the next one. Many people out there is kind and helpful. They don’t mind sharing their knowledge with you. I’m so blessed to have friends and associates who are ever so willing to provide guidance and advice when I need them. I do the same too, to anyone who is genuinely in need of help to develop oneself. I often discover that the more I share, the more I learn, the deeper I understand the subject matter.

There is still so much to learn no matter how many years of experience you have. I have been in this industry for 13 years and I am still learning from everyone around me! Everyday is a learning experience. Therefore, it is important to be doing what you like and liking what you do. You’ll survive the marathon in the long haul. Your passion and ever lasting interest will be your personal cheerleader and energy booster to keep you moving towards your goal(s). When you love and enjoy doing something, you are always on a positive mode. When faced with challenges, you seek out solutions and opportunities, instead of seeing it as a dead-end.

If you are not sure whether what you are doing is what you really like, write down your thoughts and feelings about it. Ask yourself if you could see yourself doing the same thing, three to five years from now? If it is not the same thing, does whatever you do or study able to branch out to something more challenging and exciting for your personal development?

For instance, I studied Accounting because I enjoyed doing the accounts and playing with figures. Then, I learnt Marketing to get into the most rewarding career, Sales & Marketing. Thereafter, I went into Human Resources Management as I was interested to know how I can contribute to the workforce, to make their jobs more motivating and rewarding.

Insurance and Investment Planning came next and further expanded to Financial Planning Advisory, as it is today. Yeah, I can see myself planning and consulting till I grow old, doing what I am passionate about. I shall also keep on seeking formal education in the field of my expertise. Besides practicing, I know that one day soon, I shall branch out to training and lecturing too!

Now, back to you, my friend. What would you do with your passion? What does it take to make it better than what it is now? For how long will you keeping doing it?

Whatever do choose to do, there is not Right or Wrong. It is only wrong when you force yourself to like something and end up hating it. Choose wisely.

I wish you all the best in your future undertakings!

~ Alice N.