Archive for January, 2011

Self-Mockery (Part One)

If the above is what you are witnessing in your work place, call me, and send your colleagues the link of this blog. 

I will surely enjoy my chats with them.

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No one should ever underestimate the criticality of employee recruitment and retention, and so is the procurement community.  The biggest reason I see people leaving a role in strategic sourcing, other than purely monetary attractions of another role, is job dissatisfaction.  In my early posts of this blog, I wrote quite a lot about the constant struggles, frustrations and challenges of our roles.  The procurement profession is undergoing a transition phase –  transitioning from a back-office operational function to a more strategic business consultative role.  However, if the leader is not in tune with the expectations of the company, or if he or she lacks the vision and stamina to put forward a compelling case in front of top management, there might be a high risk of losing good people.  Since we are advocating strong influencing capabilities and stakeholder management skills, new joiners will consume costly months of time to reestablish connections with business partners, usually not something the organization can afford often.  As I have said before, strategic procurement is a people business.  The deliverables and results of each project varies significantly by the strategies and personalities of the individual project leads.  No negotiations can be cloned.  Results are different in different counties and different time zones.   Unlike what we buy, staffing should never be commoditized.

I recently come across an excellent article on CPO Agenda titled Stars of Tomorrow, written by Helen Gilbert.  Selling the industry as a long-term career choice, is what she advocates.  If everyone thinks that stepping out of the profession is the only way to progress their careers, there is a big problem. 

Raising the awareness of the profession is critical in recruiting and retaining talent.  I wish that I am modestly playing my part in this space.

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The 5 Stages of Grief

Many people have heard about the 5 stages of the grieving process.  Maybe it’s a lucky thing that I wasn’t aware of it until a year ago when a good friend of mine introduced me to this.  With so much unwanted despair around our personal lives and from what we read on the news, I am revisiting this as well as sharing with my loved ones, all with the intention to look at the light at the end of the tunnel, in this upcoming new year.

Regardless of the nature of the loss it might be, every one of us mourns differently.  According to Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, there are 5 common stages of grief a person goes through when mourning.  One has to note that we may not necessarily experience these stages in one fluid order.  We may actually go back a stage at one time, or go through some of the stages more than once.  Why?  Because there are triggering incidences everywhere.  It may be another friend’s stories, movies or TVs programs, or finding an old greeting card or an item of clothing stashed somewhere, unexpectedly.

  • Denial

No, this is not me.  It is not happening.  He/she will change his/her mind.  No one is dead, I am expecting him/her to walk through the door anytime soon.

  • Anger / Resentment

Why me?  Why did you do it?  Why are you deliberately hurting me?

  • Bargaining

If I do this, you will do that.  If you’ll stay, I will change.  If you bring him/her back God, I will be a better person.

  • Depression

It’s really happened.  Nothing is going to change.  Acknowledgement brings deep depression.  Often a quiet, withdrawn time.

  • Acceptance

This is what happened.  You can now begin to move forward. 

Speaking from experience, my advice is to really take the much-needed time to go through all 5 of the above stages.  There is no need to rush.  Someone who jumps right into acceptance the next day after a breakup or a loss in the family is only kidding himself or herself.  If we tell ourselves that it is okay to feel unhappy, lost, mad and disillusioned, it will help.  At times of despair, I seriously don’t think one needs to pretend he is a hero.

What my friends told me is so true.  Always, always take care of your own feelings.  Nurture yourself spiritually, emotionally, and physically.  No one else can do it but you.  Eat healthy, exercise and let yourself take time to grieve.  Needless to say, share with your trusted friends and advisers.  Showing signs of vulnerability is the strongest character building ritual everyone should go through, once in a while.



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The Joy of Laziness

Turns out I don’t need this book to know how to slow down and live longer.  When I buy books I usually keep the cashier’s receipt out of habit.  Tonight when I picked out this unread book from my bookshelf, I shockingly discovered that I bought it in March 2005 – almost 6 years ago!  I am too lazy to read a book I purchased that talks about the joy and benefits of laziness!

The book is an easy read.  The authors Dr. Peter Axt and Dr. Michaela Axt-Gadermann finds a solution to combat our daily demands on our energy, which is hurry, frustration, sleep deprivation, poor nutrition, work stress etc..  To feel good we engage in intensive fitness regimes, competitive sports, and radical diets.  These activities actually take a toll on our health, accelerating the ageing process, making us more susceptible to illness, and shortening our lives.   What’s the solution? Laziness.

According to scientific research, the authors list out actions that have a positive effect on our health indicators.  Namely:

  • Moderation in eating (weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, blood cholesterol, uric acid)
  • Relaxation and calmness (blood pressure, blood sugar, antibodies, stress-hormone levels)
  • Moderate exercise (weight, stress-hormone levels, blood pressure, antibodies)
  • Warmth and sunlight (blood sugar level, blood pressure, weight)
  • Sufficient sleep (cortisol level, antibodies, blood sugar level)

The authors talk about conserving energy by doing nothing.  Eating less will make us live longer because food costs us energy.  In fact, fasting delays the ageing process and lengthens life.  Relaxing makes us more intelligent.  Laughter is the number one stress fighter.   And we all know that lack of sleep makes us old, stupid, cranky, ill, and fat, so the authors believe that we can all become younger in our sleep, since it affects body temperature, stress level, and metabolism.

It surely doesn’t sound like anything you haven’t heard of before, but think about it, if we can all learn how to manage our stress level  by being more relaxed and composed, that is already a big step towards a younger looking and longer life!

I recommend this book to my ex-colleagues and bosses, for reasons known only to themselves.

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Paragon Scrapbook

Aside from the super hospitable and friendly people, great cuisine, relatively inexpensive hotels & apartments, natural remedies in terms of herbal products & massages, and gorgeous sunny weather, I have to keep reminding everyone that Bangkok is just beautiful.  No, not only the obvious natural beauties of beaches, landscape, the Palace as well as temples, but Bangkok’s design scene that is both innovative and mind-boggling.  I am no expert in interior design, but I just learn to be thankful and appreciative in everything that brings pleasure and enjoyment to my eyes.

And there is plenty to be thankful for, even if it means confining to one shopping mall for a day.

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THANN Addict

Ok I just have to write this when I am physically still in heaven.  This afternoon I had my forth massage / spa treatment on my fifth day in Bangkok this week.  Amazingly, the four treatments so far are all focused on different problematic areas, and every single one of them works its wonders.  Some people may think it’s a lame excuse, but I always believe that we need to treat our bodies right, whether it is eating tasty food, or better yet eating the right and nutritious food,  exercising, and relieving all its aches and pains from the daily chores and pressures of life itself.  Without a fit body, even the brightest mind can’t do anything.  Not anyone can be Stephen Hawking, period.

Among a million other reasons, having the luxury and professional resources to pamper my own physical and mental wellbeing is what I love about Thailand.  The Thais truly understand how important it really is to revitalize our bodies using the most basic herbs and the art of natural therapy.   Aside from traditional Thai massages, aroma massages, and healing stone massages, there are tons of personal products containing the best herbs and essential oils you can find on the planet.  Lemongrass, lavender, rosemary, shiso, peppermint, eucalyptus, and the list goes on. 

I have been a fan of the Thann brand for a long time. Every time I am in Thailand I will stock up on supplies.  I know there is now Thann in Hong Kong, but there is just no comparison visiting the holy temple from where this all originates.  Even though I just bought a load in my last trip here in November last year, I still found myself hypnotized to visit its store on my second day in the city.  In the new arrivals section, I found this cutest little electric incense diffuser that I couldn’t say no to.  I haven’t used my incense burner for some time, probably due to the mess of candles and the scary thought of burning my apartment down in the middle of the night.  Now with this unit that diffuses aroma by ultrasonic oscillation without heating or burning the essential oils, it feels safer and also maintains the original effects of the oils at the same time.

Alright, with the new diffuser, comes a replenished supply of large size (50ml) essential oils.  I picked their Flower & Vanilla blend oil (lavender, rosemary, geranium), Enigmar blend oil (rosewood, rosemary, marjoram), Mediterranean Floral oil (lavender and rosemary), Sea Foam oil (peppermint, thyme, rosemary and eucalyptus), and Woody Floral blend oil (orange, cedarwood, ylang ylang, tangerine, bergamot, clove, sandalwood), enough to make my whole apartment floor smell like a spa center.  In addition, I also bought a gift set that contains three small size (10ml) oils of Sea Form, Oriental Essence (lemongrass) and Aromatic Wood with potpourri.  One more Mediterranean Floral Natural Flax Seed eye mask and essential oil that offers heated pressure relief on the eyes, all added up to a huge heavy bag of soothing goodies for me to bring home and indulge in the next few months. 

No that’s not enough.  To thank my apparently generous patronage, the store gave me two huge sets of gift boxes that contains at least a dozen samples of body gel, shampoo, conditioner, lotions and soaps in each.  I don’t think I will ever finish it all, but it will be welcoming gifts for just about everybody.  The storekeeper asked me when I would be leaving Thailand, which was a question I did not expect.  Turned out he gave me two gift vouchers to their renowned Thann Sanctuary which is worth any spa treatment of THB2,200 each.  That is good for a 2-hour spa treatment of just about anything.  I didn’t expect this.  What a pleasant surprise.   For a spa and massage maniac like I am, this is literally like a further 30% off my entire purchase.

It was indeed marketing investment well spent on their part.  After enjoying the 2-hour Thann Sanctuary Signature Massage with my local friend,  I have to admit it is by far the best spa treatments I have ever had, and that includes 5-star hotel spa experiences.   I think aside from the massage techniques, the fact that they couple with their signature oils and products, and that its small establishment provides the coziness that no fancy grand hotel spas can compete with.  While I am wholeheartedly recommending the place to my friends, I hope that it will forever remain to be a small-sized hidden gem that provides individualistic services to its customers.

And I also just found out that they have a Thann  Tea Cafe in both Gaysorn and Paragon, as well as a florist.  What a great lifestyle brand.  If they continue to offer sincere marketing promotions to its customers, I am sure it will convert many more of them, not that they have not already, into loyals, like I do.

A healthy and balanced body brings a healthy mind.  And a healthy mind brings fortune in life.  Not a great saying perhaps, but it’s my saying.


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Best Reason to Learn Chinese

Chinese President Hu Jintao is in the United States this week and it’s all over the news on CNN, NBC, ABC and CBS.  Many nightly news programs are using the opportunity to present news features comparing the 2 superpowers.  Last night, CBS talked about how few American students  (around 50,000) are learning Chinese at schools while 200 million Chinese are learning English since young. 

That former figure is certainly climbing.  In America, the number of schools offering Chinese as part of their curriculum has climbed from 300 in Year 2000 to over 1,600 in 2010.  An 8-year old boy answered CBS reporter that he believes he might get a better job and a raise when he grows up, knowing Chinese.

I just can’t help but burst out to laughter when the same question was raised to Natalie Love, a student at City Terrace Elementary.  In the most adorable and innocent manner, she replied “I think they (her parents) wanted me to learn Chinese because they like to go to Chinese restaurants“.

How cute is that?  Go Natalie!

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