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Archive for March, 2011

Have you heard of phytochemicals?  If not, it’s time to pay some attention to this most natural and valuable element on earth.  Phytochemicals help our bodies fight cancer and all kinds of illnesses.  It is a natural element that can only be found from natural foods, like Isoflavones from beans, Lycopene from tomatoes, Allicin from garlic, Indoles from cabbages, and Catechins from green tea.  In the past, nutritionists did not pay much attention to phytochemicals since they are neither minerals nor vitamins that are vital to maintaining the smooth operation of the human body.  However, scientists have since discovered that these colorful natural chemicals provide excellent antioxidation capabilities.  We all know that most illnesses (cancer included) as well as our aging process has a lot to do with oxidation, so phytochemicals provide the much needed and most effective natural remedies for our bodies.

So instead of popping pills and supplements with unknown origins, concentration and doubtful manufacturing processes, getting phytochemicals from the world’s most natural fruits and vegetables is not only safe but also inexpensive.  It may take time and energy to make it a ritual to go to the markets for fresh produce every other day, but it’s a rather small price and effort to pay when health is at stake.

Where are these chemicals located in our fruits and vegetables?  Well they are mostly found under the skin fiber, inside the seeds, pits, stones and stems.  Ironically, these are the parts that we often discard when we prepare fruits and vegetables.  Hence many of us fail to fully benefit from the fruits and vegetables just from the way we consume them.  That’s how high-speed food processors come into play.

And now let the drum roll begins…

15 Most Photochemicals-Enriched Foods

  1. Garlic.  Garlic helps prevent a number of cancer formulations, has high anti-inflammatory effects, and protects the heart.  However over-dosage has its side effects and hence the right dosage per day is roughly 0.125 grams of garlic for every 1 kg of body weight.  A little goes a long way.
  2. Ginger.  Ginger has Curcumin which helps with blood circulation, reduce cholesterol levels, and contains anti-inflammatory effects.
  3. Almond.  Almonds have vitamins A, B17 or Amygdalin, and E, which are proven to prevent cancer and reduce cholesterol levels.  Picking fresh almonds is key however as it oxidizes fairly quickly.
  4. Tomatoes.  My refrigerator favorite.  Lycopene can inhibit cancer cells and boost our natural killer cells.  It is inexpensive, and simply delicious!
  5. Carrots.  Another refrigerator favorite.  It’s nicknamed “ginseng for the poor” because it contains over 490 types of phytochemicals.  We all know that carrots are good for night blindness, coughing, high blood pressure as well as our liver.
  6. Beet Root.  Before I never heard of beet root.  I recall seeing it in salad bars in the school cafeteria when I used to study in the States years ago.  It was cooked and has that amazing red color that is overpowering.  I seldom see it in local markets here at home and almost never heard of anyone incorporating beet root into their diets.  In fact, beet root is considered as the equivalent of Chinese Lingzhi in Europe.  You can just begin to imagine the incredible health value of beet root from that analogy.  They are a rich source of potent antioxidants and nutrients, including magnesium, sodium, potassium and vitamin C, and betaine, which is important for cardiovascular health. It functions by acting with other nutrients to reduce the concentration of homocysteine, a homologue of the naturally occurring amino acid cysteine, which can be harmful to blood vessels and thus contribute to the development of heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease.  Additionally, several preliminary studies on both rats and humans have shown betaine may protect against liver disease, particularly the build up of fatty deposits in the liver caused by alcohol abuse, protein deficiency, or diabetes, among other causes. The nutrient also helps individuals with hypochlorhydria, a condition causing abnormally low levels of stomach acid, by increasing stomach acidity.  Beetroot juice has been shown to lower blood pressure and thus help prevent cardiovascular problems.   Now, I always make sure I have enough beet root in my fridge.  It’s definitely way cheaper than Lingzhi!
  7. Asparagus.  Particularly beneficial for women who are preparing for pregnancy.  It has high concentration of vitamins A, C, E, as well as the capability to fight many types of cancer.
  8. Celery.  Amazing food to lower blood pressure!
  9. Blueberries.  United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) advises that blueberries are good for cancer prevention and anti-aging.  I remember it used to be quite pricey in this neck of the woods since they used to be imported from United States, but lately I see a lot of cheaper options originated from Chile.  Not bad.
  10. Cherries.  Prevents cancer, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, aging, inflammation, eye fatigue, insomnia…the list goes on.
  11. Strawberries.  Great fruit to fight cancer, but it’s not in my daily diet since it is still relatively pricey.
  12. Wolfberry, or Lycium Barbarum.  We almost always see them in dried reddish form and we Chinese always put them in soups and desserts.  When Chinese Emperor Qin (221 BC) ordered his people to look for the “prescription of eternal life”, the few rumored prescriptions that are countered for today ALL contain wolfberries as a critical ingredient.  It’s good for our eyes, skin, immune system, liver and kidney.  I don’t think it will give me eternal life (and not that I ever want that really), but I won’t say no to healthier skin!
  13. Cranberries.  Known for its effect on urinary infections.  Relatively more rare and expensive here, and imported concentrated juices can be rather costly too.
  14. Linseed or Flax seed.  Can be found in most organic health food stores.  It contains Omega-3, Omega-6 and Omega-9.  It prevents heart disease and cancer, lowers cholesterol, blood sugar, degradation of the brain, and prevents hair loss, sight degradation and dry skin.  I have not yet tried this, and it just seems that I’ve been missing out.
  15. Sesame.  We Chinese are known to prepare creamy black sesame puree as desserts, though in the last decade or two its role on the dining table  has been largely replaced by ice cream, fancy cakes and puddings.  It does incredible wonders to our skin and helps delay the aging process.

There you have it.  Don’t over-stress yourself to find all 15, instead just go for the ones that are easy to get, in season and affordable.  Nevertheless most of these foods are low-priced relative to the so-called bottled supplements in health food stores, without the unknown side effects and artificial addictives.   If taking these foods can improve your health and energy PLUS offering the sense of fullness to your stomach, I really don’t see how one won’t be able to lose weight while feeling great, at the same time. 

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Aside from sit-down restaurants, the most patronized F&B outlet in town for me is Starbucks or Pacific Coffee.  No I don’t really go for the caffeine kick or the taste of freshly ground coffee beans, and quite frankly I don’t find the quality of these coffee chains any appealing either.  I visit their outlets when I need a place to rest my feet, stay sober from the crazy pedestrians on the world’s most crowded streets, and to kill time in between appointments around the city.  In Hong Kong where a 500 square feet jewellery store in Causeway Bay was reportedly rented for HK$1.4 million per month, or the new to-be-opened Apple store is spending US$20 million on fit-out in Central’s IFC mall, a HK$33 venti cappuccino feels like a bargain for a 2-hour refuge in the midst of all that madness.

 

There is a lot to be studied under the Starbucks logo.  Economists use Starbucks’ pricing of different sized drinks to explain costing theories.  Psychologists will tell you how that each order can be customized provides the one final shred of perceived control that each patron gets to salvage in today’s helpless world.  Nutritionists question the high calorie content of its Frappucinos (and plenty more), though Starbucks fearlessly rolled out its Trenta-sized iced products that are 30% larger than Venti.  At 916 mL, the Trenta is actually larger than the average capacity of the adult human stomach (900mL).

So what are The Top 10 Things You don’t Want To Hear From A Guy At Starbucks?  Here is David Letterman’s answer.

10.”We ran out of coffee filters, so I’m using one of my old undershirts.”

9.”Try our triple cappuccino — It’s a legal alternative to crack.”

8.”Let me make sure that’s not too hot.”
 
7.”You know, I licked every one of these stirrers.”
 
6.”One Decaf Venti Skim Latte — 39 US dollars.”
 
5.”Sugar with that?”
 
4.”Grande Caramel Macchaito? Talk English!”
 
3.”If I catch any of you people going into a Dunkin’ Donuts for coffee, I’ll break your legs!”
 
2.”Some whipped cream for you… and some whipped cream for me.”
 
1.”After work, I’m gonna pick up a hooker-uccino.”

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No To Facebook Depression

I had no idea that some kids end up feeling even worse after seeing Facebook updates of their happy looking friends having a good time.  Apparently it’s called “Facebook Depression”.  Right, those status updates are so “in-your-face” and more often than not, bragging the hell out of oneself, as I covered earlier on my advice for these people.  Dr. Gwenn O’Keeffe, a Boston-area pediatrician and lead author of new American Academy of Pediatrics social media guidelines, said that “…it can be more painful than sitting alone in a crowded school cafeteria or other real-life encounters that can make kids feel down, because Facebook provides a skewed view of what’s really going on. Online, there’s no way to see facial expressions or read body language that provide context.”

No doubt Facebook can be a popularity contest for those who aspire to be followed or idolized, regardless of what age they are at.  I choose to play no part of that.  I use Facebook to let my friends know whenever a blog post is published, and I leave it at that.  I believe some may find it annoying if they don’t find my posts relevant to their liking, and they might have hid my updates using the site’s privacy settings.  For those who are tolerant enough to leave me unhid, I choose not to add to their burden by planting self-promoting catch-phrases on each update like some people I know.  I choose to let my friends and readers decide whether my posts are crap or inspiring, and I am not going to rob them out of their freedom to make their own judgements. 

Well, if it’s a commercial establishment then it’s another story.  However, Facebook is Facebook.  I would like to see it remain as a social networking platform, at least on my news feed page.

The other form of “Facebook Depression” lies with relationship matters.  I come across this Top 10 Facebook Etiquette Rules on Relationships from yourtango.com which is just too hilarious not to share.

  1. Relationship status is a mutual decision.
  2. It’s OK to look through your friend’s friends for people you might want to meet/ date/ friend. It’s not OK to skip the middleman on the introduction.
  3. Ask first before friending a close friend’s ex-squeeze.
  4. It’s OK to remain friends with someone you used to date on Facebook.
  5. Posting a ton of pictures, videos and comments regarding a recent, failed relationship is a bad idea.
  6. As with all things, there is such thing as too much information.
  7. This is sort of an addendum to 2 previous rules, but it bears its own space: don’t friend an ex’s new squeeze if you’re not actually friends.
  8. Know the difference between the Wall and a message.
  9. Again, the interweb is not a therapy session and shouldn’t be used with severely impaired judgment.
  10. Above all other rules (in this actually is in the Facebook rules), do not create a fake page as a way to punish an ex.

Don’t you just love this?  For the complete write-up with clarifications and examples (if you ever need anything more really), check this out.

Happy Facebooking, and don’t end up making yourself look laughable or pityful, please.

 

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Heart-Wrenching Sorrow

I’m sure you have experienced some form of heart wrenching moments in your life, and though it might not necessarily be your greatest moments, they are still worth remembering.  Obviously I have experienced my fair share, and to be honest I do try my very best to see the silver lining of every one of them.  I won’t agree that this is self-deceiving, as I believe withering away in my own demise isn’t something I am thrilled about.

Sometimes listening to the signs of your body is pretty amazing.  When I feel that the left side of my chest (aka my heart) starts to grip slowly sending sour emotional notes up my brain, I know I have gone into areas that matter.  You know sometimes we are lost as to what we are fighting for and what’s it all about in life, just because we tend to follow paths where they are all decided for us.  It’s these late night heart wrenching moments which remind me that I am alive and human, and my organic human needs lie with my family, my relationships and my beliefs.

A few lines from Yahoo’s associated content:

“Sorrow is usually accompanied by tears and much pain. The pain from sorrow is definitely more acute than physical pain because it is something which cannot be alleviated by medicine. Some people have described the pain sadness as the breaking of the heart.”

” Although sorrow is something unavoidable, we must also learn how to deal with it so that it does not develop into manic depression. The only way to deal effectively with sorrow is to come to terms with the loss which triggered it. Accepting that what has happened cannot be altered and coping with life thereafter is the best way to combat depression. Although it is not a fool-proof cure, because the memories remain; carrying on with life is the best possible antidote. For the inexplicable sorrow which is triggered from innocuous events, it should not be allowed to overwhelm us so much that we lose self-control and sink into despair.”

Amanda Harvey has the following to say on her life-coaching portal:

“To feel the pain, is to stop fighting the nature of reality. In Buddhism it is said that pain or sorrow is as much a part of our life as joy. The difference that we can bring to the pain that we experience is whether or not we allow it to cause us suffering.

Very few people want to feel pain. It is not nice or pleasant, but it is inevitable. Whether our pain brings suffering to our lives is largely dependent on how we handle it. Suffering is always caused by a conflict between what we believe reality should be, and what reality actually is. Fighting against reality does not change what is happening in our lives, but rather, it intensifies and distorts the pain of difficult experiences.

By allowing ourselves to feel, rather than fight the sorrow of life’s tough times, we can move through the pain much faster, and experience it as a pure sensation rather than an inner turmoil. Fear of feeling pain is almost always worse than the pain itself, and giving into the pain can actually lessen its intensity.

If you are going to experience sorrow, as part of the human experience, why complicate the issue with resistance, fear, and suppression? By allowing yourself to feel the pain when it comes, you also open your heart to making a quick recovery, and to being able to fully experience the joy that will also come, as surely as night follows day.”

Right on.  The keyword for me is allowing ourselves to feel rather than combating sorrow full frontal.  Feel it, live it, accept it and move on from it.

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Tweeting is hugely popular in the States and somehow the version here in Hong Kong is named “Weibo” (literally translated as microblog) which gains its popularity through Chinese “tweets” by celebrities in the region (for those  who are interested in the difference between Sina Weibo and Twitter, read this).   Whether it is in the form of tweets or Facebook updates, there is no turning back once an update is posted.  Never underestimate the effect of a post especially if you are one of the opinion shakers in the community. 

So when I see the following slideshow on the top 10 Twitter firings and fallouts, I cannot believe how the movers and shakers could have been so careless.  If they have listened to US President Obama’s advice that “…whatever you do [when posting on Facebook] , it will be pulled up later in your life…“, they wouldn’t be at where they are today.

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In Part One I wrote about procurement salaries and I recently come across new United Kingdom data from The Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply (CIPS).  For those who are curious over the profession’s earning power, read on.

Earning Power

By Supply Management magazine

Purchasing managers are more highly paid than their colleagues in marketing, HR sales, IT and finance. Members of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply (CIPS) earn £1,500 more a year than purchasing professionals who are not members. The pay gap between men and women is virtually non-existent in procurement. And more than half of purchasing professionals say they have good or excellent job satisfaction.

Figures like that make procurement a real contender in the graduate jobs market. The profession is seen by many organisations as the department that saves money, and while purchasers were not immune to job cuts during the recession they have generally escaped the worst of the cull. And now, procurement recruiters are reporting a buoyant market post-recession as posts open up and buyers become more confident about switching jobs.

And salaries are holding up well. The general complaint in this resurgent procurement jobs market isn’t that there aren’t enough applicants, but that there aren’t enough of the right calibre, so employers are willing to pay more than average to get the right people.

For junior managers, which is entry level for graduates, pay is about on a par with the national average for similar jobs in other professions: £30,000 compared with an average of £29,650, according to the 2010 Purchasing & Supply Rewards research from CIPS and Croner Reward. This is ever so slightly less than you’d get in an equivalent position in IT (£30,904) or sales (£30,441), but a bit more than in finance, HR and marketing.

As you rise through the profession, though, you can expect the gap to grow. At senior manager level you would probably be earning in the region of £52,500, about £10,000 more than you would be in HR or marketing, and compared with a national average at this level of £45,000. The trend continues right up to director level, where the average for purchasing is £90,000. For HR this is £72,611, against a national average of £80,000.

It is only at director level that there is any discrepancy between the genders, with the women who responded to the survey (10 per cent of the directors who responded were female) saying they earnt an average of £78,000, compared with an average of £90,000 for the men.

Average bonuses reported in this year’s survey were £2,500, with the top earners getting £4,800. Middle managers generally ended up with about £2,160, and 29 per cent of all respondents received a bonus averaging £1,200.

Of course, reward isn’t all about the pay. Working conditions and job satisfaction are also part of the package. The news isn’t quite as rosy as far as working hours go. There has been a general increase over the past year in the number of hours procurement professionals work, although this is by no means unique to purchasing. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has recorded a rise in the number of hours worked across the UK as the economy recovers and labour demands grow. In procurement, this has meant that the biggest proportion of employees work 41 to 45 hours a week; last year the biggest proportion worked 40 hours a week.

Despite this, 54 per cent of survey respondents rated their job satisfaction as good or excellent. Almost all of them said that their job security was fair to excellent, and 77 per cent said they thought their total pay package was equal to or above market rates. A happy bunch, then – and with the right skills and abilities you could be well placed to join them.”

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Centralize, decentralize, reorganize, re-engineer, grow, downsize, externalize, outsource, insource…

These are just a few of the most heard-of verbs in today’s corporate workplace.  Some are well warranted, but I bet some of you must have chuckled over the various reorganization episodes in your work lives.  Can you honestly tell me the following thought have not come into your mind?

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Developing procurement talent is an art by itself, particularly when I still see many leaders having a less than adequate understanding of how this profession has evolved.  It is a highly fluid practice and it requires professionals with great adaptiveness and agility.  Paul Teague, US contributing editor of Procurement Leaders, published a blog post recently on the topic that is worth sharing.

“How to Develop Procurement Talent

By Paul Teague

Stephen Hester, vice president and CPO of Smith International, was the first to raise the issue at a recent Procurement Leaders roundtable on risk management,sponsored by Emptoris. Procurement, especially in the oil and gas industry from which he hails, has a people problem. Specifically, he said, the need is to develop the next generation of procurement professionals, to groom executives who will have the broad knowledge and international savvy required for success in a global economy.

One by one, the other roundtable members echoed his sentiments when talking about the risks they face. You can read what they said in a report on the Roundtable in the next issue of Procurement Leaders.

I heard similar views expressed at a previous roundtable sponsored by AT Kearney on data analytics. Ahmet Hepdogan, vice president of procurement at Fresh Start Bakeries North America, called for a new generation of procurement executives with “holistic” knowledge.

There have been whole conferences on  talent development, including Procurement Leaders’ Forums. Procurement Leaders formed a knowledge group on talent management. Recently, the Procurement Intelligence Unit called talent management a key priority for CPOs. Google even has a special project on people skills, specifically management skills.

I thought of all that when I read the US News and World Report magazine’s most recent ranking of the best US colleges for studying supply chain management. Here are some of the courses those “top schools” will teach future procurement and supply chain leaders: finance and accounting (Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Pennsylvania State University), law and marketing (Pennsylvania State) and negotiations (Michigan State University), all areas of knowledge procurement professionals need. But, I saw only one course each in global supply chain management (Michigan State) and international business and finance (The University of Michigan).

Gadzooks! Given the globalization of business, the apparent lack of recognition among some of the curriculum planners of the importance of international studies is stunning. Even the Harvard Business Review touted the importance of international experience and knowledge for procurement and supply chain management. I guess the rest of the proverbial ivory tower has no windows through which to look at the world.

So what should the ideal curriculum include? Introductory courses in engineering concepts (to give them an appreciation for product design and manufacturing); corporate finance (so they will see how CFOs look at a business); business law, marketing and advertising, personnel management, and logistics (so they can truly understand the issues those functions face); risk management (think of commodity-price fluctuations, Middle East turmoil and Japanese earthquakes and tsunamis); computer science and statistics (to get them used to using software for analytics); and, especially, courses in international relations/culture/communications (because the world really is flat).

And, rather than study versions of those courses tailored for procurement and supply chain management, they should attend the same classes that engineers, finance students, political science majors and others who will make their careers in those disciplines attend. May as well get them used to collaborating with those folks early.

Oh, and once they get their first job in procurement, I suggest assigning them to those other functions for three to six months each to further appreciate the roles of the people they will serve.

Maybe the best academic program is not one entitled “supply chain management,” but a broad, interdisciplinary program called “business-cycle management.” That may better reflect the role future practitioners will play.”

One thing for sure, those who are trained following Paul’s prescription will no longer be labelled as just a “buyer”.  Let’s announce to the rest of the world how much value we can add.

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I cannot resist the temptation to post this up and I don’t think this needs any more elaboration on my part.  Some people just don’t realize how naked they are of their insecurities in front of colleagues, friends and even family members.  Please, don’t live in your own little bubbles.  Allow me to vent a little bit here, but consistent to my belief, I never leave criticisms alone without some recommendations.  This time around, they come from Michael Bucci of AskMen.com.  The last paragraph sums all of this up well.

Learn How To Brag Discreetly

By Michael Bucci

So here you are, sitting at the bar of a trendy restaurant lounge, enjoying a fine drink with a few of your friends. You are easing into the night and having a merry time doing so. You will soon be meeting some associates and lady friends for an evening out on the town.

It’s A Pleasure To Meet You

I’ve already discussed the importance of making a good first impression, but just as a reminder, know that people will form an impression of you within the first few minutes of contact. More likely than not, the impression they get will be reinforced over the next few hours.

Suppose you are talking to an attractive woman that is to your liking, or perhaps you are talking to a potential friend or business associate, how can you get the point that you are successful (or at least on the ball and soon to be successful) across?

What To Avoid

You are doing well for yourself; you’re a junior partner at a prosperous law firm. You’re on the fast track and you want people to know this, so you buy yourself a big diamond ring and tell anyone who’s willing to listen about how great your new Mercedes SLK-500 is and how much you prefer it over the BMW 740i or the Lexus. You also go out of your way to specify that anyone not driving such an expensive car is a big loser that is worth less than a bag of cheap fertilizer.

So what have you just achieved? Sure, everyone present will know you are making some green and are climbing the corporate ladder, but they will also hate your guts for being such a braggart. You’ll alienate everyone there, not to mention make a few enemies in the process. Not exactly the desired effect.

By following some simple tips, you’ll have a heads up on the competition and still keep your modesty intact.

Don’t Flaunt It

The old expression, “If you got it, flaunt it,” does not apply in this case. In fact, it rarely applies in any case. The last thing you want to do is come off sounding like a constant bragger. You don’t have to make it known that you drive a Ferrari by telling people directly. Instead, you can discuss cars in general with others and wait for them to ask what you drive.

When you tell them you drive a Beemer, say it matter-of-factly. Don’t add more details unless they ask you the questions. The trick is not to sound like you’re bragging, and don’t purposely make the other person feel small because they don’t drive a fancy car.

This way, they’ll know you drive a nice car and they will respect the fact that you don’t attach this to your ego too much (even if they attach a lot of meaning to what you drive).

The same goes for your clothing. You can wear classy tailor-made suits and Brioni shirts, but there’s no need to announce it to the world. People will notice you are well dressed, more so than the average man, and they will make a mental note of it. Just because they don’t comment, that doesn’t mean they don’t notice.

So how do you appear super successful and stay humble?

1. Never say how much you earn

Maybe you are knocking down $500,000 a year, but you should not make a point of telling everyone you meet what your take-home is. If people ask (which is impolite to begin with), just smile and say you do well for yourself and you are very happy with how things have turned out. Don’t offer more detail; to do so is somewhat crass.

2. Compliment others

A good way to brag discreetly is to compliment others on their clothes, car, jobs, etc. By doing so, it makes you seem like a nice guy for noticing other people, and they will in turn be flattered by the attention. Furthermore, they will likely compare themselves with you on the very things you are complimenting them on.

For example, if you tell Bob that’s he’s got a nice car (slick, fast, tears up the road, etc.) he’ll be proud of his car. He will immediately wonder what you drive. If you are driving a similar or better car, he will automatically raise you to his level, if not higher. Objective achieved: you bragged discreetly and so did he.

3. Just the facts ma’am

The worst thing you can do is embellish everything you say. People will catch on that you’re all about hype over substance rather quickly. Instead of telling long stories about how you single-handedly slayed the giant dragon, opt to emphasize the hard work and team effort that went into achieving the goal.

Mention that you are only part of the team and stick to facts. If it is a fact, then no one can argue or hold it against you. If you closed the big deal, then you will be recognized for your accomplishment, even if you give credit to others. The point is to avoid hogging all the glory or you will make enemies — a lot of them.

4. Your crew

Who better to sing your praises than your friends? This one is simple; just have your friends chime in once in a while with some tidbit about you that you can’t mention because it would be bragging. They can praise you and get away with it, so long as you act modestly about the thing in question and don’t talk about it much, if at all.

5. Never sound pretentious

There are geniuses in this world, and they do things with ease that amaze most mortals. However, no one will hold this against them unless they are pretentious about their achievements. Never make your success sound like it was a walk in the park. You don’t have to tell people it was the hardest thing in the world, but never make things sound too easy or people will resent you for thinking you’re better than everyone else.

Make it sound like they could have accomplished the same thing as you; this will reassure them of their abilities and they won’t feel threatened by you. Internally, they’ll probably admit to themselves that they would not have been able to succeed as you did, but as long as only they know this fact, they’ll be saving face.

Remember, you can be better than everyone else. In fact, you can even know that you are better; just never say so out loud and you’ll do great. So go out there and be modest, downplay your achievements and learn to brag discreetly. Once you get good at this, you’ll realize that this is the way the game has been played all along.”

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“Did you know that Guiness employees…

  • Enjoy free happy hours on Thursday nights at a onsite pub;
  • Receive a liquor allowance each quarter;
  • Can take advantage of partially paid gym memberships;
  • Enjoy on-site services such as health clubs, laundry and dry cleaning services, film development, tailoring and banking services;
  • Are paid well and receive great benefits?”

This is an e-mail I received from Vault.com to market its company profile and insider information services aimed at job seekers. 

Interesting.  Free alcohol on work site.

Though this is hardly unorthodox at all.  At least they are an alcoholic beverages producer, and who can testify their products better than the employees?  I once conducted a e-sourcing training program for Nestle in Beijing.  During break I found fridges packed with ice cream bars that are free for employees to indulge themselves, let alone all the other coffees and soft drinks.  How they managed not to weigh 200 pounds was a mystery to me.  What’s truly amazing, is when companies like accounting firms, investment banks and law firms, offer Friday parties and fully paid gym memberships to the employees as an attempt to promote workplace harmony and work-life balance.

Undoubtedly we all love our perks and benefits.  Other than the critical medical and insurance benefits that I think everyone should be entitled to, I am not too crazy on the perks above.  It’s a nice gesture, but I do get a paycheck from my employer.  If I think that paycheck is fair, I will be as loyal to the company as the reciprocal treatment is evidential.  If my colleagues want to complain about not getting free wine, free office furniture, free fancy stationery or even free meals on company dime, I am happy to see them leaving for the folks that do.  We all have a choice, and it’s not like our employers have tricked us staying for good.  They might have in other aspects, but that is a whole different story, and one that shouldn’t be mixed in the same pot.

At the end of the day, all I am saying is that as long as I am compensated appropriately, I’d rather make use of my paycheck and spend it on dinner parties, gym memberships, home furnishings, investment and vacation plans with my family and friends, my way my time.  If you find that you are not receiving your paychecks lately, call the Labor Department now instead of stealing office supplies.

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