Saturday, 27 October 2007

My farewell email

Updated on 14 May 2008:
Hi readers,
I know you probably get to this post by searching for farewell emails. I hope you like what you are reading and continue to visit my blog, where I share my experience and knowledge.

Since you are looking for farewell emails, my "clever" guess is that you are moving to new jobs. Then you might need to read about Corporate Games aka Office Politics and 3 principles in doing everything in life.

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Here is my farewell email to the company which I have worked for 6 years. I have another version of what I do not miss, but I won't be posting that here. :).

Hi Fantastic People,


Just want to bid you all a simple farewell. It has been a great experience working with all of you. Bye bye , see you !

Here are what I will miss very much:
1. All the friendly, helpful and energetic colleagues
2. Great team spirit.
3. Freedom to perform and argue.
4. Flexible working hours.
5. Agile meetings and planning with the point estimation using UNO cards (I leave the UNO cards for you guys)
6. The free but delicious birthday cakes, moon cakes, “tong sui”, and food (from trips) in front of CSD room.
7. Cute souvenirs from colleagues after their trips.
8. The agile room full of writings on mahjong papers.
9. The one-on-one talks with all people.
10. My boss's endurance of me and my bad habits
11. My spacious but messy desk.
All to best to you guys! Do keep in touch.

Best Regards,
Susan

Here are some photos:
My messy desk


Find out the poster here.


Our Agile Room full of writings of our tasks on all the walls







So many wonderful memories.......................

Friday, 26 October 2007

Farewell Email

I stumbled upon this funny farewell email. Of course, I have sent a more professional farewell email to the company. I did not know actually how to write one. I think I have never written one as well, if not mistaken. In my last job, I was retrenched together with 80% of people in the company. In my previous job, which is also my first job, I could not remember I have written a farewell email. I was either too junior to know or it was not a norm in the company.

But, alas, I have written one farewell message in around an hour (in facts, two - one for the whole company and another one just for our team). And it was in point form. I guessed it is quite a unique farewell letter. :)

Well, below is the funny and sarcastic email that I find enjoying. Here is the site too. Enjoy!!

Dear Co-Workers,


As many of you probably know, today is my last day. But before I leave, I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know what a great and distinct pleasure it has been to type “Today is my last day.”

For nearly as long as I’ve worked here, I’ve hoped that I might one day leave this company. And now that this dream has become a reality, please know that I could not have reached this goal without your unending lack of support. Words cannot express my gratitude for the words of gratitude you did not express.

I would especially like to thank all of my managers: in an age where miscommunication is all too common, you consistently impressed and inspired me with the sheer magnitude of your misinformation. It takes a strong man to admit his mistake - it takes a stronger man to attribute his mistake to me.

Over the past three years, you have taught me more than I could ever ask for and, in most cases, ever did ask for. I have been fortunate enough to work with some absolutely interchangeable supervisors on a wide variety of seemingly identical projects - an invaluable lesson in overcoming daily tedium in overcoming daily tedium in overcoming daily tedium.

Your demands were high and your patience short, but I take great solace knowing that my work was, as stated on my annual review, "mostly satisfactory." That is the type of praise that sends a man home happy after even a 10 hour day, smiling his way through half a bottle of mostly satisfactory scotch.

And to most of my peers: even though we barely acknowledged each other within these office walls, I hope that in the future, should we pass on the street, you will regard me the same way as I regard you: sans eye contact.

But to those few souls with whom I’ve actually interacted, here are my personalized notes of farewell:

To Rudy: I will always remember sharing lunch with you, despite having clearly labeled it with my name.

To Steven: I will miss detecting your flatulence as much as you will clearly miss walking past my cubicle to deliver it.

To Eileen: Best wishes on your ongoing campaign to popularize these “email forwards.” I sincerely hope you receive that weekend full of good luck, that hug from an old friend, and that baby for your dusty womb.

To Felix: I left a new wristwatch on your desk. It is so that you might be able to still tell time even without your hourly phone call to let me know the copier is jammed. (Call Steven – he’ll come by.)

And finally, to Kat: you were right - I tested positive. We’ll talk later.

So, in parting, if I could pass on any word of advice to the individual who will soon be filling my position, it would be to cherish this experience like a sponge and soak it up like a good woman, because a job opportunity like this comes along only once in a lifetime.

Meaning: if I had to work here again in this lifetime, I would sooner kill myself.

Very truly yours,
Chris Kula
Image credit to http://hirondelledessin.blogspot.com/2013/05/illustration-friday-farewell.html 

Thursday, 25 October 2007

The first hundred days

I am reading the book "You're in Charge - Now What?" now in preparation for my new job. This book is a gift from my boss which I consider to be valuable.

Although the author has used the CEO job as examples, there are many things that we all can learn. For one thing, we need to realize that the first hundred days in our new job are the most important. It was the time when we are in the temporary state of incompetence, faced with being the person who know least about the company. But it is also the most important period for one to lay the groundwork for a long-term momentum and great performance.

I think this should be the first thing we hear when we start a new job. "Congratulations, you got the job, now you have to earn it."

Below is a memo sent by the managing partner of McKinsey Company to the new recruits when they started. He sent a very strong message that day. Coincidentally, I was born in that same month. :)

To: New Associates
From: Ron Daniel
Date: April 1979

On Becoming An Associate


It has been traditional for the firm's managing director to write to all new associates. It is difficult to personalize such a communication, but through this memorandum I would like to add
my welcome to you as you join the firm. My purpose is to convey a few ideas that I think are important. These ideas are largely personal, no matters of firm policy, and are offered for whatever value they may have for you.

The first concept has to do with a basic attitude that I believe can significantly affect the satisfaction and fulfillment you will derive from your work. I urge you to think of yourself from this day on as a member of our firm, not as an employee of it. This is your firm, and you should
assume a proprietary state of mind toward it. In many ways, the kind of firm McKinsey & Company is five years from now will be the result of your interests, your convictions, and your energies.

Secondly, recognize the necessity of getting off to a good start in the firm. Your first few engagements are critical. During these studies, you can establish an internal clientele for yourself - that is, by performing in an outstanding way, your reputation will be quickly established in your office and even the firm. If you are successful, you will be sought out by your colleagues when new engagement opportunities come along. New responsibilities will flow to you. You can overcome a poor start, of course, but it takes considerable time and effort - and obviously it is better not to have to rebuild professional standing, but, rather, to continuously add to it.


Our firm has a
long history that, among other things, has left us with a well-established value system. The professional approach, the one-firm concept, and a commitment to quality are all essential values of the firm that I hope you will soon understand and support. There are written materials about these topics in your office. I hope you will read them and discuss them with your office manager, your teammates, or any member of the management group. Another part of our value system is the expectation - indeed, the responsibility - for even the newest associate to speak up , to come forward, to contribute from the very beginning, to understand his or her role in an engagement team, to be clear on and supportive of our arrangements and commitments to a particular client, to bring to bear facts and evidence that challenge the thinking of the engagement director and engagement manager, and to be convinced that we have placed our clients' interest first. While this kind of behaviour implies a strength of character and the courage of one's convictions, and while the firm expects this from even our newest associates, we don't expect you to be all-knowing and able to prove your superiority in every situation.

Men and women who join this firm are invariably achievement motivated and ambitious people. Most have egos of generous size. But another key aspect of the firm's value system is the concept of collaboration. Reach out for help. Establish the habit of teamwork early. When you don't know, ask. When you're uncertain, ask. It's ironic that it is our strongest performers, out most effective consultants, who most often reach out for help from their colleagues. In the process, the strong get even stronger.


Finally, I urge you to regularly establish some perspective on your firm, on your work, and on yourself. Step back once in a while and take stock of things - not every day , not every week, but perhaps every six months. Are you still learning and being challenged? Are you getting personal satisfaction from a life that essentially involves serving others? Are you growing personally? Is the word
professional coming to have any special, personal meanings for you? Have you experienced the benefits of our one-firm concept? Have you enjoyed the stimulation, the congeniality, the support of your colleagues? Can you - like the Nobel biologist Albert Szent-Györgyi - run to work most of the time out of enthusiasm for what you are doing? Have you exercised the control that only you can exercise to maintain a reasonable balance between your professional work and your personal life? For over the twenty years I've been able to answer yes to most of these questions, most of the time. During this time, I've believed it to be a genuine privilege to be part of this group of high-talent people of diverse talents, varied backgrounds, and wide-ranging interests who comprise our firm.

I wish you good luck as you begin, and hope that you come to feel the same measure of excitement , stimulation, support , warmth, and fun that I've enjoyed.


I hope this memo make an influential point for everyone who are going to start a new job or even a new role in the same company (as you get promoted). It has for me.

I have the whole book to finish before I am going to start my new job on 1 Nov. Busy busy. And tomorrow is my last day in my company of 6 years tenure. It is time to leave a bunch of wonderful and talented people. I am so gonna miss them. And also farewell to my messy desk at the corner!

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Want to digg something?

Do the buzzwords "Wiki", "Facebook", "Twitter", "RSS", "Digg" resonate with you? If you do not know any of these and you are in IT field, I guess you have to start reading more. :)

These websites have also created some new verbs like Google - while you are googling any of the terms above, someone else is digging an article, your friend is getting "poked" in Facebook (this is where you click a button and a line pops-up on the other person's page saying they've been poked), you wonder "What are people twittering about?". Then, your application is no longer a portal but a mashup and apple is bricking its iPhone. Brick is not even in Wiki encyclopedia yet, it is a term made popular by apple for making iPhone into unusable "brick" if users install unauthorized software.

Above all that, Iphone still has such a cool interface and Apple products always win in usability. See right picture.

Below are 2 videos that explain about Digg:






I think I will not start using Digg, Twitter or Facebook for now. Also trying Friendster but not really keen. But I am totally addicted to RSS & Wiki.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Adversity Quotient (AQ)

Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and Emotional Quotient (EQ) have always seem to be the most important measures to predict whether one can be successful in their life and career.

However, in the book "The World is Flat", it noted that Curiosity Quotient and Passion Quotient may matter even more than IQ (CQ + PQ > IQ)

Until today, I found there is another measurement - Adversity Quotient (AQ) that is also important, and I strongly agree. In fact, I always believe, my AQ contribute largely to who I am and what I have now. In the book "The Adversity Advantage - Turning Everyday Struggles Into Everyday Greatness", the authors have chosen the mountain as their metaphor for a universal symbol of inspiration and aspiration. People share a drive to ascend -- to move forward and up in our lives; to gain, rather than lose, elevation.

That's why I love mountain climbing so much. I always feel the journey to the top of the mountain is like a journey through life.

In one of the other book, the author talked about 3 categories of response to the daunting challenge of leading an ever-elevating life.

Quitters
Quitters simply give up on the ascent -- the pursuit of an enriching life -- and as a result are often embittered.

Campers
Campers generally work hard, apply themselves, pay their dues, and do what it takes to reach a certain level. Then they plant their tent stakes and settle for their current elevation.

Climbers
Climbers are the rare breed who continue to learn, grow, strive, and improve until their final breath, who look back on life and say these precious words: "I gave it my all." It's no coincidence that Climbers are the people we most admire, are drawn to, and seek to become.

So are you a quitter, camper or climber? Or which type you want to be?

One of the major discoveries of the research is that at the heart of the difference between Climbers and Campers or Quitters lies what they do with adversity.

Relentlessly pursuing a life or building an organization rich in purpose can be tough. The weather on the mountain is rough -- and intensifying. That's why Quitters abandon the ascent and Campers hunker down. Only Climbers take on the immensely gratifying challenge of learning, striving, improving, and contributing until their final breath.

According to our poll of more than 150,000 leaders across all industries worldwide, many people quit (5 to 20 percent), most camp (65 to 90 percent), and a rare few climb. In fact, when leaders are asked, "What percentage of your workforce is camping?" the most common response is "80 percent."




What if you can use any adversity to your advantage? What if you could convert your everyday struggles, big and small, into the kind of fuel that powers you past everyday normality to everyday greatness?

Isn't there something incredibly riveting about the human struggle with adversity? Not only is it the central strand of our story, shared across eras and cultures, but we also read about it in all the great books, are spellbound by it in popular movies, and wrestle with it in our own lives every day.

The book offered the principles and practices to harness adversity as a vital life force to achieve everyday greatness in our own day-to-day lives.

Summit 1: Take It On. Learn how to overcome frustration, helplessness, and anger — and benefit from adversity.

Summit 2:
Summon Your Strengths. Challenge the conventional wisdom that natural strengths drive success. Exceed expectations of what you and others can, or should, attempt to do.

Summit 3:
Engage Your CORE. Learn how to handle adversity better and faster. Engage your CORE (the four dimensions that determine how you respond to adversity ) and learn how to turn adversities into advantages.

Summit 4:
Pioneer Possibilities. Devise signature systems for turning the impossible into the possible. Learn to create strategies that others fail to see.

Summit 5:
Pack Light, Pack Right. Learn how packing poorly cripples you… but how choosing the right things, people, obligations, and pursuits strengthen you. “Spring clean” so you can rise up, rather than crumble, under the weight of adversity.

Summit 6:
Suffer Well. Character is forged in the flames of adversity. Done right, suffering can fuel greatness.

Summit 7:
Deliver Greatness, Everyday. This summit, the culmination, weaves together the most important ideas of the book, providing a coherent, portable package of practices that you can apply anywhere, anytime.

So which summit you are at right now?

Here is the introduction of the book. I have not owned this book yet but I am definitely interested to read this as soon as I finish all my other books. If you have read this book, do let me know your comment.

Here and here are my previous posts on my climb to Mount KK , a very wonderful experience for me.




I still remembered the strong feeling of looking at the mountain summit from far, knowing that I would start the ascent the very next day and I would be at the lonely top in 2 days.
And I have enjoyed every moment of the climb even at the point when my legs were so shaky that I started to regret carrying my 8kg backpack that weighed heavier and heavier with each climb, and even when I was so scared of the height and the rock climbing near the top (I always hate rock). But I enjoyed every moment of that. :)

My Idol is my Mentor

I found myself to be a bit dreamy these days. This is because I am behaving like a teenager and started to idolize an actor who suddenly became my favorite after watching one of his drama and also series of his interviews.

While you are wondering why I am blogging about this, I am going to reveal that despite the aimless admiration, I found myself to be truly inspired.

What attracted this idol to me is not just his look (even though he does look cute...LOL), it is about his adoring nature, i.e. a bubbly, enthusiastic, and hugely positive personality that I like most. Despite his usual hectic schedule and lack of sleep, he always seems to appear happy and energetic in front of the camera. And this is contagious and I am in awe.

In retrospect, I found myself to be less enthusiastic. And I gave myself a lot of reasons for this. Hectic work schedule in perpetual firefighting mode, disagreement with boss, pressure to succeed and for people to view me seriously, all give me reasons to be exasperated and dull. Even in the weeks after my resignation, while preparing myself to go to the new job, I was indeed quite worried that I won't be able to handle things in the new environment and cannot live up to people expectation.

And my idol has indirectly mentor me on this. Despite the numerous reason for me to sulk away my day, I can choose to be enthusiastic and show passions and be happy even in very small things.

Despite the conventional thinking that when you feel happy, your brain react and send signal or adrenalin to your body, either to smile or to jump around. The reverse is also true.

If you have a serious face, you have to use 64 muscles on your lips. And if you smile, only 10 of your lips muscle is used. Small effort and you could take an advantage from that.

When you start smiling, your cheek will send messages to your brain. At the same time, happiness hormones spreads and it will stop the production of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenalin. Smile also triggers your immunity system which strengthen your body and produce antobody.


Below are some clips from You Tube about my idol. His name is Bosco Wong. This video is in Cantonese.





More links:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBQEU44F16Y
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8En2gBOB-YQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UvDUxN_A1s (This is from the drama I love)

Suddenly, I am much prepared for my new job. Because I know , no matter how difficult it is , I will always smile and face the situation with enthusiasm and positive energy.

Always give yourself any reason to be happy, no matter how small the reason is!!!!!

Dreaming away...................

Friday, 19 October 2007

Never Give Up!

Just looked up my desk and saw this picture (only in black and white printout) hanging on my cubicle wall.

I like this poster a lot and every time I look at it, I remind myself this - In life, there are many things and many people who may make your life miserable and cause you to give up on things or even in yourself. Even though you are very small compared to the big people or the big world, there is always ways for you to survive and advance. Thus, you should never give up no matter how hard it is!

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Everyday Greatness

An Excerpt from Stephen Covey's New Book, Everyday Greatness

I believe that the majority of people in this world are good people doing good things, and that we should not let the noise of the negative minority drown out the steady sound of good that is around us.

But let me also say this. While so many of us are up to good things and probably deserve more credit than we give ourselves, most of us know that the good we are doing does not always represent our best. And so in our quieter moments, we sense there is still more we can be getting out of life, more we can be giving.
Isn't that true for you?

I like to approach life with the belief that my most important work is always ahead of me, not behind me, and my personal motto is "Live life in crescendo." As a result, I feel a persisting desire to stretch myself in new directions, to look for worthy ways to make a difference. And when I personally experience the desire for life enhancement, I find it valuable to have a resource such as this collection available for reading and reflection. Gathered by Reader's Digest from decades of classic "success" literature and from many of the most currently respected people around the globe, it is a true treasury of timeless principles and practical insights for optimizing life—a collection for our times.

Occasionally, the world witnesses a heroic feat or discovers a person with rare talent. Every now and then, a scientist makes a pivotal discovery or an engineer designs a revolutionary device. Each decade or so, a pair of politicians sign a bold peace initiative. Annually, extravagant affairs tout the year's best actors, musicians, athletes, and salespeople, while hometown festivals crown the person who can eat the most chili peppers or sound the best yodel.Such singular events and accomplishments often appear in sizzling media headlines under the banner of "greatness." And in most cases they do represent a type of greatness that is deserving of attention and applause. For many of them represent achievements that move society forward in significant, progressive ways, while others simply add a much needed measure of spice and humor to life.

But most people know there is another type of greatness that tends to be more quiet by nature, one that generally escapes the headlines. Yet, it is a greatness that in my opinion is deserving of higher honor, even more respect. I call it "Everyday Greatness."

Everyday Greatness is what I have called, in other settings, "primary greatness." It has to do with character and contribution, as distinguished from "secondary greatness," which has to do with notoriety, wealth, fame, prestige, or position. Everyday Greatness is a way of living, not a one-time event. It says more about who a person is than what a person has, and is portrayed more by the goodness that radiates from a face than the title on a business card. It speaks more about people's motives than about their talents; more about small and simple deeds than about grandiose accomplishments. It is humble.

When asked to describe Everyday Greatness, people typically respond with descriptions of individuals they know personally, such as a farmer who year in and year out weathers the storms of life, provides for family, and helps neighbors. Or a mother who knows she is not perfect but who perseveres in doing her everyday best to exhibit unconditional love to a challenging child. They describe a grandparent, a teacher, a work colleague, a neighbor, or a friend who is always dependable, honest, hardworking, and respectful of others. Above all, they describe someone who is within reach of emulation, sensing that they do not have to be the next Gandhi or Abraham Lincoln or Mother Teresa to exhibit Everyday Greatness.

Yes, the type of people they describe when trying to define Everyday Greatness are the people who, despite the negative noise in the world, still somehow find ways to step up and do their part to make a positive contribution. The key is that it is all part of who they are every day.

I believe that you are one of the people I spoke of in the beginning—one who is already up to good things in a world that shouts so much of turmoil. You have experiences and talents exclusive to you. Trust them. Use them to improve upon the many insights in this collection. But above all, make the three choices.

Act upon life.
Attach yourself to meaningful, uplifting purposes.
Live in accordance with timeless, universal principles.


As you do, I have firm confidence that you will find greater joy, more peace of mind, and an enhanced feeling of worth that comes through living a life of Everyday Greatness.


Here is the interview with Stephen Covey.

My note:
Let's make everyday a great day!!!

Life should be filled with purpose, not emptiness (yeah, Autumnmusic?).

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Procrastination

Today, I finally made it to the bank located just about 4 blocks away from my office. After waiting for more than a year after losing my ATM card on a non-active account, it was still not a strong enough reason to push me to go. Until recently when the other account where I banked in monthly allowance for my parents was also frozen, I finally dragged my heavy feet to go there. It was, I think, at least more than 3 weeks after my parents reported to me and after at least more than 2 reminders from them. Finally, I got it all done in less than an hour. Suddenly, I felt much less heavy.

Yes, I am serious procrastinator (way serious!!) and I hate going to bank.

I stumbled upon a site which is showing some data to procrastination. My score is way beyond the chart! Can you believe it? (sigh..i guess if my fellow colleagues (or ex-colleagues or friends) are reading this, I probably imagining them laughing and nodding their head violently).

Ok, here are my embarrassing revelations:

1. It took me usually 30 minutes to 2 hours to wake up. Yes, my alarm clock goes off at around 7 something and I put it to snooze countless times until I wake up at 9 something (or around 10 a.m. lately)

2. Last year, I finished my income tax form AFTER it was due.

Beware, procrastinator (hey, YOU and YOU TOO!)! Don't end up like this (refer to the following picture)

Finally, I get some consolation from this poster! (still can be a leader, right , even though no one knows when tomorrow will come.)


Notes from today's lesson on procrastination:

1. I reported my card lost and got my new card from the same man that gave me the lost ATM card almost 6 or more years ago at the customer service counter. I am pretty sure it was the same man. A thought race through my mind. Since he is doing the same thing 6 years ago, did that mean he was not getting promoted or advancing in his career? On the outlook, I was pretty much the same like 6 years ago (yes, still young and slim - my college clothes still fit me until now). But on career, I was doing different things since 6 years ago although I had much more things to pick up especially on the soft skills.

Maybe he is already very contented, who knows. But I felt like telling him this - finally, I am moving out to a more challenging job and moving out from the same job I have since 6 years ago. I hope I will not see him sitting there next time. I will be happy to see him inside the big room behind the bank counter or maybe in another bank.

Does that mean people procrastinate in finding a better job or better opportunities, but instead prefer to stay in their comfort zone? I know I did. I had no regret in my current job, just that I wished I could come out 1 or 2 years earlier to do other things. But I believe this is the greater plan God has for me.

2. I found that a good way to push you to do the work instead of procrastinating is to shout out to all the people. Then, there is no way you are going to pull back or procrastinate.

For e.g.:

1. I posted "Banking!" on my YM status to remind myself I will definitely go to do banking today.

2. I posted "Gym today" on my YM status last Tuesday, because I have skipped gym for a long time and I have changed to use the gym in my condo. Despite the rain and traffic jam which gave me so many reason to change my mind, but I persisted and made it to the gym at last ! Proud! Clap Clap.

3. I almost told everyone I was going to resign before I even really fully decided. That was like in May. Since then, I gave myself few months to contemplate and cooled down. But I think because I told everyone , it makes me more determined to venture out despite being afraid of not getting better opportunities. Indeed, there are many better opportunities.

4. I posted in my blog and told some people, I wanted to author a book someday. And writing a blog is an important step to it - to promote my writing and practicing my skills. Though, being a author is not a easy feat to achieve given my English is not totally fantastic and I am in Asian country. But, telling people this make it harder for me to give up.

Thus , I will definitely continue blogging! If you are reading this, do help to promote my blog cause I need the larger reader base to move forward. One step at a time.

Way to go today, my dear procrastinator (ME!) !

Monday, 15 October 2007

Disable Search Feature

When I was trying to do a search in one of the forum site, I encountered this.

Sorry, this feature is currently disabled.

Please try again during a quieter period.

I am wondering whether this is a good feature trade-off - to disallow users to search when the server is very busy and ask them to try later , or just allow them to do search by letting them wait a long time to view the result triggering frustration and high blood pressure.

Both have problems. For the site that disabled the search, I did not even get to know when the site will be free for me to do search. So, I will probably give it up and go to another site. For the latter option, I probably will "feel" the website is not in a good shape. Because users are guided by feeling or emotion when they choose to buy or use a products/services (ask Apple's loyal users, why they like Apple so much!), this will also have big impact. When people see your brands , they will recall the frustration for having to wait every few seconds to minutes when they click on each buttons of the website. They probably will tell their friends and that is a bad marketing strategy through WOM.

Thus, a great interface design and back-end programming are vital for a web product. That is why Google company is worth billions because their technology allows the search result to be displayed in split seconds.

And that is also why YouTube was bought over by Google even though at that time, there are others video streaming website and Google had enough resources to build their own video streaming program if they want to . In July 2007, YouTube announced that it is serving around 100 million videos per day. What’s more, the site served 2.5 billion videos to nearly 20 million unique visitors over the course of June. So, you may ask, what so special about a video streaming website that enabled it to attract the attention of Google and the rest of the world? My personal guess will be, YouTube has the key to handle that much load of a high video demands without hanging the server or application. And I never encounter this - YouTube asking me or other users to come back to view our selected videos when the server is less busy.

Friday, 12 October 2007

PostSecret

Frank Warren started PostSecret in 2004 to create a “place” where people could feel free to share their private hopes, desires and fears. A place where the secrets they could not tell their friends and family would be treated with dignity in a non-judgmental way.

Since then people have sent in one hundred and seventy-five thousand anonymous postcards. They are featured in art galleries, a music video, and Frank’s bestselling books.

Here are some truly touching postcards.




The combination of the picture and the words or phrases are very easily imprinted in our mind.
That is the same reason why I always put pictures in my blog. Some pictures are really motivating or peaceful to look at.

In other cases of PostSecret, the words alone can leave a deep print.

For e.g.
here's my secret: every time some finds out that i lost a child and tries to relate to me by talking about how they lost a grandparent or an older relative, i want to scream.

Some are naughty revelations:




Interview with Frank Warren

Why is PostSecret such a hit? Because despite the hectic and high tech life we have , the world need a little bit more personal touch!

Agile Team (with personality observation)

Following is my message to the team (I wrote this on 5 something a.m. today because my brain was just wired with these messages when I woke up suddenly):

When we started Agile few months ago, besides hoping the team can be more effective and efficient, it also intended to serve as an eye-opener. That is - old way does not always work best and there are always possibilities to change for the better. It is not changing for the sake of changing. It is changing for the better. But no one knows exactly what need to be changed to be better. That is where the Agile is a project for exploring this.

During the introduction to Agile, while the perceptive types were mostly supportive of the agile approach, the judging types (maybe only those who are strong in judging) were mostly skeptical. Because the perceptive like the flexibility and keeping their options open while the judging types prefer the big up-front planning, which probably take days or even weeks to come out with only the plan. Am I right? :)

We are repeatedly reminded - Agile is no silver bullet. Nor is everything in live.
The answer then lies with the balance. Even with judging or perceptive type, there shall be balance between both. One should have plan, but one also should not be too rigid to change.

Before we go any further, let’s explore how we had fared so far. And later, let’s see what or where we can continue.

What we did right or wrong in Agile?

Maybe we should always have 2 types of plans. One is a long-term plan, which serves as a vision and to provide guidelines and principles so that one will not swerve out of course. Another one to complement is the shorter and more flexible short-term goal.

The big plan and the product feature list that product/ management team did is the long-term plan. Agile Sprint planning is the small plan, flexible yet strongly within the scope of the larger plan or milestones. Thus, do not get confused. When we have the big plan all laid out, we do not need to plan for Agile Sprint anymore.

We also seem like given up the point estimation. Why? Is it because the requirements are uncertain? Is it because it is easier not to estimate? I may imagine the Feeling type cringes on this – "let’s not think about this too much, just do it with our feel!" Or the sensing type – "I do not know what is the scope yet or how large is the scope, so I cannot estimate." Or even the intuitive type – "I can only see the big picture, but I do not know in details what need to be done, so I cannot estimate."

So, doesn’t it ends up ALL of us are still inept in estimating? In this particular case, personality does not help. Only experience and persistence will. Estimation is the upfront thinking process – the planning! Nobody said Agile does not need planning. If we cannot even do a good estimation for a 2 weeks project, how are we going to estimate any better for a 3-months project plan?

Though the personality test revealed something on all of us. But there is absolutely one thing the test is not telling us. That is how efficient and effective we are in doing our tasks. You may have a big picture, you may plan well or you may sense something is wrong, but nothing happen until you do something about that, for e.g. go and fix the bug now or executing the plan.

And talking about procrastination on planning, it is prevalent among all the team members. Of course, we have tried many times to plan on Friday when the following Monday we need to start new sprint, which is good. But that only happened like one out of six times.

As for SCRUM meeting, yes there are latecomers. I believed I contributed large part on this, especially lately. :). Worst is that everyone is waiting for others to call and when nobody calls, there is just simply no meeting.

During the SCRUM meeting, problems arise with people not making their points and people not listening or understanding the points being made.

And also, there is no more review meeting at the end of sprint, which is actually a time to celebrate after the lost of blood and sweat.

On top of all that, the Agile strongest advocate (yes, me!) is leaving and there is no one really driving this anymore. Although, I did slack in most parts also. And I am slacking much more now. (Unless you have already resigned and only have few weeks left from leaving a company, you will not understand how unfocused one can be. A simple and no-brainer job may seem quite impossible to achieve. :) . Believe me, you will get to this point someday. I initially did not understand this also. Or maybe you are not my type of personality and you will not.)

What we can do next?

Ok, enough of story writing. Let me make my point here on what we can continue to do or improve:

Sprint Planning:

1. Continue to plan for Sprint. Maybe we can improve this by planning 2 Sprints ahead instead of one.

2. Plan the sprint before the sprint starts. Plan for the plan to happen, i.e. allocate like one day before the sprint start for requirement study/understanding and planning.

3. Continue to provide the estimation as accurate as possible. Use past estimation to serve in relative. Leverage on your past experience.

4. Get approval for the sprint plan before going ahead.

SCRUM Meeting

5. Reduce the SCRUM Meeting to 2 to 3 times a week if you feel it is necessary.

6. Start SCRUM meeting on time. In fact, start all your meetings on time.

7. Do not wait for the latecomers to start. Let guilt guides them to come on time. J. How about like those who miss the meeting or on leave is requires to follow-up by sending out an email to the team on what they have achieved? Be creative in encouraging people to be on time and attend the meeting without reminders.

8. Change the mixing of the team in the SCRUM meeting once a while so that each team can interact with other different teams. If we reduce the meeting, all teams can meet at the same time but on different alternate days.

9. Be energetic and precise in getting your points across. Train yourself to speak like you are presenting to your customers to market what you are doing. The objective is getting people to understand and learn what you are doing. Ensure you are getting your message across, not merely just sending your message.

10. Try to listen and understand what others are saying. Ask if you are not clear.

11. Be spontaneous. Be sporting. Be efficient. Be energetic (yes, want to stress this again). Do not try to look around at others and pretend it is not your turn to speak!! (I guess this is an unconscious gesture we always make because we are mostly afraid to speak up).

12. Improve the process on how to take turn to speak. Try to volunteer yourself to be the first to speak next time. Do not always get comfortable with the wait-and-see behaviour.

13. Speak fluently and maybe give a more complete sentence. “I am doing stylesheet for Company X, which is task no. 5. ” as opposed to “I am doing no. 5 lor”. No harm to re-iterate things to make the points. A common truth about communication is that even if you repeat the same things 7 times, there will still be people who claim to have listened to it for the first time.

14. Be reminded to tell people what you have achieved and what you are going to achieve next. You need to KNOW what you are going to do next. If you usually do not, then you need to start to see how you can improve that because effective and efficient person always knows what are their next things to do. If it is not planned out for you yet, chase someone. Take initiate to plan by yourself also, if need be.

15. Be open. No one is there to judge you or evaluate how you are doing.

16. It may be a good idea to let others know sometimes the percentage of completeness like ”I think I still have 50% to go” (maybe not all the time depend on your liking). I got to know that someone came up with this before and someone also quickly opposed to this, which led me to the next point also.

17. Do not just shrug off suggestions. No one knows what is the best agile method or approach. It is up to the team to experience and decide whether it should stick or it should go. Also come to next point.

18. Arguments are strongly welcomed sometimes. Just because someone objects to your idea, does not mean you cannot argue back. Of course, please be rational and carry this out in a peaceful way.

Sprint Review:

19. Always have review after the sprint has been done. Either a demo or have the QA or product person to walk through the completed functionalities to confirm the correctness and completeness.

20. Plan the sprint review upfront.


General:
21. Continue to refine the Agile approach in all areas to suit our needs.

22. Volunteer to advocate the Agile approach if you are interested. We need people to continue the initiative to improve the practice.

23. Everyone needs to work together to find better ways to work together.

Further reading:

Ten Common Mistakes of going agile
Agile Requirements – no BRUF just GRIT

And, something to revive what a SCRUM meeting look like:



Sorry, for being brash on all this. The points made here do not come from a Manager, but is just a form of sharing.

A couple of great people said subordinates always see the red flagging light on the manager’s forehead because a manager can reward or fire them. So, just merely the presence of a manager will jolt you awake. It is always there, no matter how friendly is the manager or how good is the subordinates to try to treat the manager impartially. Thus, subordinates always will keep their guard on when dealing with their managers. It is natural and logical.

Since I am not really your manager now, I can be more frank and brash and not afraid to hurt you guys or drive you away. And I hope you will do the same to me. And because I am not really your manager now, it is easier for me to ask you guys for outings and not afraid you turn down because you scared of revealing yourself too much or you turn up because you are too scared to turn down.

Isn’t it ironic? :)

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

So cute

avatars myspace

I used gickr.com to convert 10 pictures to this animated gif. It is fast and easy to use. And it is absolutely free too.

Myers-Briggs Personality Test

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator which based the test on 16 personality types is popular among big corporation like Coco-Cola. While the cost to take the test is very high, there are several advantages of knowing what type of employees or colleagues you have. Once we know, it is easier to understand others differences in personality , work-styles and learn to deal with the different personalities. Ultimately, the team can work better together. The 16 personality types are derived from the eight basic personality preferences, mainly:
  • Extroversion vs. Introversion
    Where do I get my energy? From the external world or people (extroverts), or from data, ideas, or things (introverts).

  • Sensing vs. Intuitive
    How do I perceive information? Sensing types relate to information from their senses (visual, tactile, auditory, etc.) Intuitive types look at the “big” picture – global, spiritual, the possible, the infinite...

  • Thinking vs. Feeling
    How do I make decisions? Through logic (thinking) or through person-center modes (feeling)?

  • Judging vs. Perceptive
    How do I prefer to live? Judging types prefer to live planned, structured lives, while perceptive like flexibility and keeping their options open.
Out of curiosity, I found a free test and taken the test online. There are around 70+ questions asked, which I answered in less than 1 second each. The test can be taken here. It is FREE. It may not be so accurate as the non-free one, but I guess it is no harm to just explore a bit.

Ahem, my result of the test are the following. I have to say, it is quite accurate, especially it associates
me few things I really have strong feeling for.

Your Type is
INFP
Introverted Intuitive Feeling Perceiving
Strength of the preferences %
56 62 25 44

It also brought me to a lot detailed information on my type - INFP:


From Typelogic:

INFP children often exhibit this in a 'Calvin and Hobbes' fashion, switching from reality to fantasy and back again. Calvin and Hobbes is my definitely my favorite cartoon beside Dilbert!

INFPs never seem to lose their sense of wonder. One might say they see life through rose-colored glasses.

Yeap, it seems there are so many things I wonder and I wish to blog. Readers, stay tune.

An INFP friend describes the inner conflict as not good versus bad, but on a grand scale, Good vs. Evil. Luke Skywalker in Star Wars depicts this conflict in his struggle between the two sides of "The Force." Although the dark side must be reckoned with, the INFP believes that good ultimately triumphs.

Oh, my God, I still remember blogging a lot about Good vs. Evil last time.

Click on the picture

Another site, Keirsey.com pointed these:

Healer Idealists are abstract in thought and speech, cooperative in striving for their ends, and investigative and attentive in their interpersonal relations. Healer present a seemingly tranquil, and noticeably pleasant face to the world, and though to all appearances they might seem reserved, and even shy, on the inside they are anything but reserved, having a capacity for caring not always found in other types. They care deeply-indeed, passionately.

Deeply committed to the positive and the good, yet taught to believe there is evil in them, Healers can come to develop a certain fascination with the problem of good and evil, sacred and profane. Princess Diana is an example of a Healer Idealist.

I am proud to be associated to her in a small way. I guess , if anyone I wish to become like one day , it will be Princess Diana.

Readers and friends, do try out the test yourself. Let me know your type also. Either post me a comment or email/YM me.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Right Brain or Left Brain

My friend posted this test on The Right Brain vs Left Brain test.

Do you see the dancer turning clockwise or anti-clockwise?

Clockwise -> Right brain
Anti-clockwise -> Left Brain

So, I found myself using more right brain. But when I really focus few times on the picture, it switches to turn the other side, i.e. using my left brain. Try this, it is cool!

It is said that people normally see anti-clockwise. I find it hard to believe.

So, here is roughly my test result, which I felt is mostly true for me:

Use more feeling than logic
"Big picture" oriented rather than detailed oriented
Imagination rather than facts rules
Fantasy-based rather than reality-based
Impetuous rather than practical
Risk taking rather than safe

And, I do use my left brain sometimes, like trying to play safe, being practical and be more realistic. But that is mostly due to influence or a consequences of going through several mistakes.

Both left and right brain should function at most time. It will be great a find a good balance cause we cannot always live in our fantasy world, can we?
LEFT BRAIN FUNCTIONS
uses logic
detail oriented
facts rule
words and language
present and past
math and science
can comprehend
knowing
acknowledges
order/pattern perception
knows object name
reality based
forms strategies
practical
safe
RIGHT BRAIN FUNCTIONS
uses feeling
"big picture" oriented
imagination rules
symbols and images
present and future
philosophy & religion
can "get it" (i.e. meaning)
believes
appreciates
spatial perception
knows object function
fantasy based
presents possibilities
impetuous
risk taking

Friday, 5 October 2007

Why am I paying more for coffee?

I found that I am paying more and more for my coffee these day. In an innocent attempt to convince myself that coffee is healthy for me, I switched my daily cup of coffee to a new product line which include healthy ingredients like Ginseng and high-calcium milk in the coffee. How pathetic I am. I might as well bought a ginseng to chew on , rather than mix it in my coffee.

Actually, do you know that coffee is good for health? Coffee can actually cure cancer and good for sun protection. If you have known several crazy coffee lovers, who can drink more than 4 cups per day, and also whom I am happy to acquainted with (or am I? :) ) , you probably hear the previous statement a lot of times.

Maybe I did not find it to be very convincing. So, uncontrollably, I found myself drinking the latest combination, Ginseng and Tongkat Ali ; which cost almost double the prices of the normal coffee from the same brand.

Incidentally, my colleagues were telling me that Tongkat Ali is only meant for men. I read somewhere before it can be used for general health and also for women. But after doing more searches on Google, I found that my colleagues were right - it is more suitable for men and it can increase testosterone levels. Oh my God, no wonder I felt so "manly" these day. LOL .

Luckily (or not), I also read in a report that the herb extract used in coffee has very little health benefits. But I do not know why I am still buying it. Maybe I am not a smart consumer. Or maybe like what Tim Harford had observed, I am one of those who have fallen into the economist trap. Because I love coffee so blindly, I am willing to pay higher prices for it.


Tim Harford, a smart economist, mentioned more on this concept in his book (yes, I am reading this now) and articles on coffee and starbuck.

He said:
The cleverest and most common way to persuade turkeys to vote for Christmas is the “self-incrimination” strategy. To get customers to give themselves away, companies have to sell products that are at least slightly different from each other. So they offer products in different quantities (a large cappuccino instead of a small one, or an offer of three for the price of two) or with different features (with whipped cream or white chocolate or fair trade ingredients) or even in different locations, because a sandwich in a station kiosk is not the same product as a physically identical sandwich in an out-of-town superstore.

And the one who are choosing all these "fancy" products are willing to pay more and actually paying a lot more than what the product is worth. For e.g a white chocolate may cost around 30 cents more. But if you may be paying $3 extra for the coffee with white chocolate (let's say $7 instead of $4 for normal coffee) because you are willing to pay more for a cup of coffee.

What a trick!

Ok, so what type of coffee product I should buy next? Definitely this time, I will make sure I check out the price and think more in an economist way. Oh, and no more Tongkat Ali for me. :)

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Very Cute Presentation on Wiki

This is a really cool presentation on Wiki (referred by my boss). Visit here for more. Hope can create a presentation like this next time. :)







Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Sales is about liking and helping people first

I do not understand a lot about sales. I never really do sales before. But I know if I want to start my business one day, I need to at least know a little bit on how to do sales.

But I know that in order to do a good sales, you need to like people. And you need to be genuine when interacting with people, especially your customers. Let's say you hate your customers and you force yourself to deal with them in order to get the business, your expression and body language will show your hatred. Maybe you will wince, or you may look away from them. That is not hard for some smart people to find out through observation or they can just feel it.

Someone who has been doing sales asked me this - "Do you really want to be a sales person (doing business means sales)? Do you want to be forced to associate yourself with people you do not like and live your everyday doing things that you hate?"

This seems like a strange question to me. Or maybe I am just too ignorant of things. I never really feel like I will hate every people or customers I meet. In fact, I love people. And I know there are many good people out there. I have met a lot of successful and down-to-earth people who are willing to share their experiences or knowledges with you without asking anything in return. I met a lot of people who may not be successful in the larger term but are successful in their own way - people with great family, great friends, stable income, happy, relaxing life. I learn a lot from people who are younger from me also.

Of course, I know also there is a good dose of bad people out there , who may look at every opportunity to take advantages of you. I am not totally naive to acknowledge this.

But if I set my mindset that I will associate myself with people I do not like when I am doing sales, I might as well just go find a job that work with trees. (I posted this before - all the jobs working with trees or dogs are already taken. In every other jobs, you need to work with people). If I have to work with people whether I like it or not, I might as well like it. My thought will be , people who do not genuinely like other people, they are not going to be successful in sales or business, let alone in live. Well, again, I may be wrong. Some people may be able to fake it. :)

During the Mid Autumn Festival last month , I had chance to work on my first sales assignment. It was something impromptu. It started with my friends who said she was able to get a 30% discount on the moon cakes. I asked around and got a few orders. Then , my friend stopped buying (not her fault, :) ) and I found myself having to deal with the manager of the moon cake business directly. The manager also started to pull back on the discount , saying that if I cannot get like 30 boxes of order, he might only be able to give me 20% discount. At one hand, I have people ordering because they want the 30% discount , on the other hand, if I do not have a lot of orders, I will just be able to get 20% discount.

So, I somehow landed myself with a first sales assignment. No profit for myself, just the fun of it.
My quota is to be able to get more than 30 boxes order of moon cakes. If not, I cannot get 30% discount for the people ordering. So, I went ahead , giving people 30% discount to collect the orders. I was prepared to negotiate with the manager to get 30% even if I cannot hit the 30-boxes quota.

The result was I was able to get the manager to give 30% for 20+ boxes without any difficult negotiation. :) And , in the end, I actually got total orders of more than 30 boxes. It was fun trying to hit the quota and preparing to negotiate.

The no-fun part was actually taking the moon cakes from the shop (I need to engaged my boyfriend as my physical labor to load all the boxes to my car and endured his nagging :p. ), arranging and re-arranging all the boxes, calculating the prices, distributing to the people and collecting the money. All for experiences and just helping others but no single cents of profit.

But it was really a nice experience after all. And a good start to being in sales, although I had to say this assignment was really so easy because of the 30% discount.

Let's see when I will beg people for sales. :) But I do not think I will mind to associate myself with people. Much more with I do not intend to dislike them.

Google did not start with making profit. It started with trying to help people search the things they want- started with a great product. Thus, sales is also not only about getting the advantages or profit you want. It starts will liking and trying to help other people also as well as building a relationship with trust and confidence.

My Mooncake Order. :)

Blogging during lunch again.

Monday, 1 October 2007

"You cannot" and "If only I had" voices

I heard a lot of voices from the back of my mind these days.

In the quiet moment of trying to recapitulate what have taken place since I decided to resign until now, I gained a lot of different perspectives. Like a sponge, I absorbed anything that was poured out to me. I chose not to filter out or close out any information, positive or negative. I stored all the information, referring to it when I ponder of stuffs.

But still, I shall not change my mind. People who know me well will know that I am a little too stubborn. When my mind is made up, I seldom change unless I found that I have made a mistake. But some people reminded me on what seem to be like Simone de Beauvoir said in his famous quote: "In the face of an obstacle that is impossible to overcome, stubbornness is stupid."

Someone did ask me whether I will be happy doing what I have chosen to do next. I do not really know how to answer this. The answer is maybe slightly less than obvious. So, this is still unquestionably questionable. Let's put it this way. Do I seem to be really happy doing what I am doing now? I am not unhappy, but I am not really happy either. And this is not that obvious given the fact that nobody know how to define happiness for others as happiness mean different things for different people.
So, does it worth my effort and risk to go out and try other things that I maybe happy?

Well, not to someone. And someone also said this "I can be very successful at the end of the day, but I am just pretending to be someone else". I would have replied, "If I continue on without the change, I maybe just pretending I am happy."

So, I have these voices of "YOU CAN'T! YOU SHOULDN'T! YOU MUSTN'T!" echoing from everywhere. If you are a risk taker or like doing new things like me, you will hear these very often from all the people around you.

I will be fine. For now, I just need to survive my ego on my implied stupidity and pretense. After all, as Glen Beaman said: "Stubbornness does have its helpful features. You always know what you're going to be thinking tomorrow."

Also, I try to lighten up and learn not to take everything so personally. In fact, I have accepted a meeting with open minded even though I knew I was going to hear negative things about my future. Before the meeting, I told myself I have made the decision. Not only I will not change it , I also will not take to heart any attempts to question or doubt my decision. Something that I keep reminding myself to continue to improve my emotional intelligence. Indeed, the meeting has turned out well.

So, I am trying to shut down the "YOU CANNOT" voices and turn it into "YOU CAN".

Also, what I am doing now, I know clearly that I am trying to avoid the "IF ONLY I HAD" voices as explained ever so clearly in this article.
With the wisdom of years comes regret for the road not taken, the too-conservative choices made.
As you think about your career, your life, and your plans for the future; you are, at the very least, going to have to contemplate some uncomfortable choices about yourself, your personal style and your level of happiness. I make no apologies for this - that’s just life. But I contend that it is better to take the time and spend the effort now to improve the choices that you make for later, rather than to have those choices made for you at a time that may not suit you.


Yes, NOW is the time I have to make these difficult choices. Will I be happy? Will I pretend to be who I am not really am? Will I be successful? Will I fail terribly?

I never know. So do all the people in this world. They can speculate, but they do not know the real answer. No one know. That is why I am going to find out. And I take full responsibilities on what will happen in the end. Just ME, enduring all the sufferings if need be - not my family, not my partner and definitely not my boss.

So,

Dear "You cannot" and "If only I had" voices,

LISTEN to me. I am banning you from my life from now on.

Best Regards,
Susan