Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Malaysia Book Update 6: Comment & Win

Finally, after going through the many photo submissions, we have finally made a choice on what goes in the front cover.

It was a hard choice, as many photos were very beautiful - this I must thank the contributors. Then of course, we also have a criteria that the front cover must represent what Malaysia looks like at one glance. It has to speak to a Malaysians heart yet at the same time appeal to tourists alike.

Malaysia being a mixture of many cultures and with so many different things to promote, makes this a tough decision.

Anyway, we've finalised 8 photos in 3 different covers which we think will depict Malaysia as a travel destination and even as a wholesome place.

Comment & Win
We will need your help here in selecting and telling us which is your favourite cover. The top 3 best comments will get a copy of the 50+1 Malaysia book delivered to your house/ address FREE.

Everyone Can Comment including Anonymous
And for the first time in months, I will open the comments to allow those who are shy to comment under Anonymous. This will be open till the closing date 13 May 2008, afterwhich the decision is to be made on 14th May 2008, and the files send to the printer.

malaysia book cover, Sipadan, Malaysian smile/ Citrawarna/ Onde onde kuih
Cover 1
Picture (from left to right): Sipadan, Malaysian smile/ Citrawarna/ Onde onde kuih

malaysia book cover, Nyonya kebaya, nasi lemak, Pulau Redang
Cover 2
Picture (from left to right): Nyonya kebaya, nasi lemak, Pulau Redang

malaysia book cover, Indian girl, Citrawarna/ Malaysian smile/ Malay girl, Chinese/ Chinese Opera
Cover 3
Picture (from left to right): Indian girl, Citrawarna/ Malaysian smile/ Malay girl, Chinese/ Chinese Opera

Yes, it's that simple... just tell us which cover you like, and stand a chance to win the book :)

You can give us any other feedback or suggestions related to the cover as well (eg. if you prefer another combination of the pictures).

And can ask a favour - help pass this contest around :)

*We will announce the winner on 14 May 2008 - 1 day after the closing date. Winner will be requested to provide address to send the book to once the book is ready (roughly 6-8 weeks after).

*For the contributors, you will already receive 1 copy of the book, but I do hope that you will also participate in this. If your comment is the best, we will send you a second copy.

We've selected the 3 winners!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Comeback Story: Mariah Carey

Today I want to share on an inspiring comeback story - a bit of biography on one of the world's most popular singers of all time.

mariah carey, e=mc2

If you are into 90s music, then you would have definitely heard about the celebrity songstress, Mariah Carey. Carefully crafted with former husband Tommy Motolla, Mariah was a pop icon born in 1990, going on to win awards for her singing vocals. Her career started off high and fast with songs like Vision Of Love, Someday, Love Takes Time making big waves in the American music industry.

She continued with her high range vocal songs featured in albums like Emotions, Musci Box, Merry Christmas and also Daydream, producing hits and hits of number ones including the all famous, Hero. Of course there was also Fantasy, Dreamlover, Without You and the successful combination with Boyz 2 Men - One Sweet Day!

Interestingly, after her divorce with her hubby, she changed her more conservative image in Butterfly to sexy. Now, that was a hip album with a new Mariah and very catchy tunes like Honey.

And along the way, she had a movie role in Glitter as well. But that was when things started to look bad.

Her next album, Rainbow didn't do too well and the movie bombed. Her next few albums were all so-so. Sales were never the same time high. And there were some problems with her big time recording deal as well. In a nutshell, at that period of time, Mariah was seen as a has-been, or some would put it a wipe-off. Critics were saying her time was up, especially with new singers emerging.

Can you imagine if you were Mariah? Having everything just slipping away bit by bit? Her life just couldn't go lower. Yes, it was that low.

But that is where Heroes are made. Just when you think all is gone, Mariah makes a comeback with The Emanicipation Of Mimi. It was a big comeback alright - becoming the best selling album in the USA in 2005.

Now, that didn't stop there. Her latest - E=MC2 (Emancipation equals Mariah Carey to the second power) has produced a new single, Touch My Body, becoming her 18th no. 1 single in Hot 100, beating the legendary King of Rock & Roll, Elvis Presly. And newest, she has a new movie role in Tennessee.

Her comeback story is remarkable. And though some may not like her, but then, you can't dismiss what a great comeback Mariah has done - from Hero to Zero and now back on top!

Her music has definitely changed somewhat and she don't stretch the high notes as much from what she was introduced, singing with some whispering style... but that is what we call re-invention and if that works, well done! :)

Mariah's latest single - Bye Bye.

*If Mariah can do it, what about pop princess Britney? :)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

East Goes West: Jay Chou - The Cowboy Is Busy

A follow up to Asian actors going West, it seems that the singers are also heading over or Western influenced at least.

One is this cowboy song by Jay Chou, famous for his unique music. Honesetly, I've never really been a fan of him, but when I heard this, I thought he did a good rendition of a familiar western tune. And I'm sure you guys have heard this many times over already. This clearly makes Jay Chou stand out and why he's touted as no. 1 in the Chinese music industry.

In this video, Mando pop prince, Jay Chou is in his cowboy suit and all going West. The video I must say is very well done despite it is an Asian-American version. In fact it looks pretty American! lol.

Anyway, here's the video clip and its lyrics in mandarin, pinyin and translated to English (courtesy of MyGrandFinalE).


火车笛 随著奔腾的马蹄
小妹妹吹著口琴 夕阳下美了剪影
介绍完了风景 接下来换介绍我自己

我虽然是个牛仔 在酒吧只点牛奶
為什麼不喝啤酒 因為啤酒伤身体
很多人不长眼睛 嚣张都靠武器

不用麻烦了 不用麻烦了
不用麻烦不用麻烦了 不用麻烦了
你们一起上 我在赶时间
每天决斗观眾都累了 英雄也累了
不用麻烦了 不用麻烦了
副歌不长你们有几个 一起上好了
正义呼唤我 美女需要我

我啦啦啦骑毛驴 因為马跨不上去
洗澡都洗泡泡浴 因為可以玩玩具.
我有颗善良的心 都只穿假牛皮

我曾经答应上帝 除非是万不得已 我尽量射橡皮筋
要逃命前请你 顺便餵餵我那隻小毛驴

~* Repeat Chorus *~

The Cowboy Is Very Busy

Wu la la la
The train whistle, in sync with the galloping horses' hooves
The little girl plays the harmonica, the evening sun casts her beautiful shadow
My days are spent in bullet rain
After we introduce the background, it's time for my self-introduction

Although I am a cowboy, I only order milk at bars.
Why not beer? Because it's bad for health
Many are blind, their arrogance comes from their weapons.
Once empty-handed, their guts shrink to that of ants

Don't bother, Don't bother
Don't bother, Don't bother, Don't bother.
Come at me all together, I am rushing for time
The audience is tired of duels everyday, so is the hero
Don't bother, Don't bother
The chorus isn't long so come at me together, no matter your numbers
Justice is calling for me, the babes need me
The cowboy is very busy

I ride on the donkey, 'cos I cannot get on the horse.
I soak in bubble baths, because then I can play with toys.
I have a gentle heart, only wearing synthetic leather
Oh! And try not to crush the grass when I fall

The guns do not have eyes
So I have promised God that I will shoot with rubber bands, unless I am forced to
Boss, first a cup of milkshake
Before you run for your life, please feed my little donkey

~* Repeat Chorus *~

Nui Zai Hen Mang

Wu la la la
Huo che di Sui zhe ben teng de ma ti
Xiao mei mei chui zhe kou qin Xi yang xia mei le jian ying
Wo yong zi dan xie ri ji
Jie shao wan le feng jing Jie xia lai huan jie shao wo zi ji

Wo sui ran shi ge nui zai Zai jiu ba zhi dian nui nai.
wei shen me bu he pi jiu Yin wei pi jiu shang sheng ti
Hen duo ren bu zhang yan jing Xiao zhang dou kao wu qi
Chi shou kong quan jiu suo cheng ma yi

Bu yong ma fan le Bu yong ma fan le
Bu yong ma fan bu yong ma fan le Bu yong ma fan le
Ni men yi qi shang Wo zai gan shi jian
Mei tian jue dou guan zhong dou lei le Ying xiong ye lei le
Bu yong ma fan le Bu yong ma fan le
Fu ge bu chang ni men you ji ge Yi qi shang hao le
Zheng yi hu huan wo Mei nv xu yao wo
Nui zai hen mang de

Wo la la la qi mao lv Yin wei ma kua bu shang qu
Xi zao dou xi pao pao yu Yin wei ke yi wan wan ju
Wo you ke shan liang de xin Dou zhi chuan jia niu pi
O die dao shi jin liang bu ya cao pi

Qiang kou ta mei zhang yan jing
Wo ceng jing da ying shang di Chu fei shi wang bu de yi Wo jin liang she xiang pi jin
Lao ban xian lai bei nai xi
Yao tao ming qian qing ni Shun bian wei wei won a zhi xiao mao lv

~* Repeat Chorus *~

Types Of Internet Business

In the overview: online business, I showed why people are doing online business. In this second part, I want to show the 4 main types of online business that people can venture.

A discussion with fellow technopreneurs highlighted 3, and later, I remembered one more.

internet business, reseller, blogger, programmer, internet marketeer

1. Resellers
This is in fact the easiest way to earn money online. There are 2 ways to go about it here. First is similar to that of a traditional store, with the difference, you don't have a store, but instead a virtual store.

Some have an e commerce system with shopping cart. And for payment, though you can tie up with credit cards agents who tie up with the credit card companies , but those usually come with an annual fee (whether or not you use the card system). So, for a safer choice, just use PayPal as you pay only when you use, where they take a small percentage of your sales.

An easier option of course is through eBay or any other local sites that allow you to sell your products. Going to these sites are good because of easy searchability where your products are linked together with similar products.

Another type of reseller is the affiliates - where the products are not yours, but you are selling other people's product. Think as an online agent. All you need is using your email or you can even host the goods on a website. One example of an affiliate store is 1ShoppingCart - just choose the products suitable to you. If your website drives a lot of traffic, this might make good money for you. The good thing is you don't need to do anything - no handling work on your part - remember you are only the agent!

2. Internet Marketeers
These are people who learn SEO (search engine optimisation) where they ensure that the websites they create are highly ranked in search engines like Google & Yahoo, and even MSN.

They are famous for their one page websites, where the page is only to sell an ebook which may or may not have been written by them. Of course, some of them offer free information - and their aim is for you to click on their advertisements.

Basically, their theories here is to drive huge traffic and turn users either into buyers or interests in advertising.

A few have branced out and call themselves 'internet gurus' where all they do now is to teach others on maximising your online potential by giving you online course or by attending their seminars. And if you are too lazy to learn, you could hire them for a big fee (up to 5 figure) just to do your website.

Just be wary, some of them can be very big headed and arrogant.

3. Programmers
This group include the webmasters and is an interesting group of people who live and eat IT. They have programming at the back of their fingertips and know the latest free codes. Some however, prefer to do from scratch despite the many other codes readily available.

They aim to create new functions and services to aid web users and are usually very ethical in their works and jobscope. Some may spend months on a project, but now with Joomla and Wordpress.Org around, their job are much easier. In fact, many of them just use this currently to create new websites.

You will be surprised how easy it is to learn the codes on your own - some are self trained, working in their 'garage'. And the functions to their sites seem really cool - mainly because they know what is available and how to enhance a web user's experience.

4. Bloggers
This is of all the most interesting group. Starting out as a personal journey, some have taken it into a business. Topics can range from anything - mainly what you are interested in to write - it could be on cooking, travel, food places, business and many more. Some are even so dedicated to the political news in their country!

There are some bloggers who actually just teach you on blogging - on how to make your blog famous, and all the tools and tips require for blogging. These are sought after people because every blogger needs to learn more on maximising their blogs.

Then there is the 'celebrity bloggers'. Just imagine celebrity, but who is online. That means, their personal life is all shared - from their outings, dinner dates, places they eat, food they eat, clothes they buy & where, etc are all shared. There's no paparazzi, but instead its usually them who carry their pocket camera or phone camera taking photos of themselves and their friends.

Readers react to them well if they find the 'celebrity bloggers' interesting - and with such high demand on celeb stories, we don't see why not.

How do bloggers earn money? Through advertisements on their site and some also have affiliate banners. And once you become real popular, you can then become an ambassador to live products.

This is in fact, rather easy to earn money, but be prepared there is a lot to learn about blogging - it's not just writing and complaining your hearts' content.

Just a caution, you have to be prepared to meet other weird bloggers around who give a bad name to blogging or some weird comments coming into your blog.

Well, there you have it - 4 broad ways of making money online. Like I've mentioned, it's not easy money, or quick cash, as you'll need to put in hardwork just like any other business.

But saying that, internet business is a good option to think about if you want extra income for the start before you quit your full time job!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Want To Earn More Cash: Do Online Business

The past few weeks or so, I've been meeting up with a few entrepreneurs and soon-to-be-enterpreneurs.

Some are on their own path on making money and are already in a business of their own. Some are new altogether, but with a dream of venturing into the business world in the near future (maybe after completion of studies, or start a business part time). Some people have a dream to work from home or to start a home based business.

I also do get some who are not into business, but who are looking into business opportunities... asking questions like:
"Do you have any opportunities for me to make money?"

Yes, there are lots of ways one can make money - both through traditional (brick & motar) and also through online.

Although there are a lot of traditional business with low costs which is still very much popular with the traditionalists, but there's a new pool of people jumping onto the online business scene. They are from any age group though the bulk seems to be from the Gen X and Gen Y.

So, why start an online business? And can you really make money online?

1. Firstly, online seems to be an easier and safer choice as costs are relatively lower. There are a lot of free ways to start up your business - and you only pay for your electricity costs.

IT knowledge may come in hand, though, for many, you don't even need to be an IT expert where there are many simple and easy to use platforms available (eg. like blogging or ecommerce). In any case, when your business grows, you can pick up more IT skills along the way.

2. Small manpower. Of course, you can grow this into a bigger business later on. But for the start, all you need is really yourself, or some business partners. You don't really need to hire anyone, not even a PA, as your stuffs can all be done and documented through your computer by yourself.

In fact, there's usually not much documentation as it's again mostly done by the providers (eg. if you are selling adverts via Google Adsense in your blog/ website, they create the data and send you your cheque. All you need to do is check your earnings). With that, it means further cost savings, and making more profit.

3. Comfort of working from your home. Many drag their feet to work, going into traffic jams and crowded trains. For online business, you wake up and you are straight into office. Time taken to office - the time you walk from your room to your study. This means more time can be spent on work, and you will be less tired (from everyday travel). This will make you more refreshed and working in leisure and comfort.

4. Follow your interests. That is one of the best thing internet does. You can basically earn money by doing what you like. Of course if you are a writer or someone who loves programming, that is direct earnings.

But more so, internet allows you to share and earn from what you like to do. For example, if you like a certain topic, you can actually share about it online and earn money just by sharing what you like. It can even be about your life (that's where blogging comes in) or even about your complains!

5. Start immediately. While traditional business require you to register a company or at least have some name cards, letterheads, etc, however, for internet business, you don't really need all that - at least not when you just started. You can basically start and run your business straight away, as and when you are ready!

This saves you more time and is hassle free. You won't be bugged by all the registrations and complicating matters.

So, if again, anyone wants to make some part time income or money online, yes, it can be done. It is not easy money, or money sent from haven, but with right attitude, yes, money can literally grow on your computer!

In my next post, I'll share more on the types of internet businesses one can venture.

Next: Types of Internet Business.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Malaysia Book Update 5: Ah Ha!

I've mentioned in Malaysia Book Update 4: The Sky Is BLUE that I'm embarking on a sales mission to bring in enough sales to finance this 50+1 Malaysia book project I'm doing.

I've actually put this off for a while because I'm uncertain about it. Actually, when the initial idea of the book was out last year, I've embarked on quite a few sales & marketing strategies - I basically used quite a fair bit of resources including hiring sales reps. We've had a small share of success and hence, it gets me a lil apprehensive this time round.

So, I went to focus on the overhaul of the book - make it more focused. Hence, after some thought, it went on to focus on tourism.

Anyway, the contents are already done and like I said, to make this book available for as many people as possible, and to promote Malaysia as much as we can, I need to find Sponsors & Advertisers.

So, I spent Monday & Tuesday formulating my strategies once again. Finally on Tuesday nite, I've came out with some sales technique. On Wed & Thurs, I made my sales call. To be honest, I was a lil hesitant, and quite reluctant, but I know I have to persevere.

What I would like to share my experience on making the phone calls. I've done many more sales call before in my previous project, so this is not really new. But surprisingly, this time round, the sales calls were much more pleasant.

The people (mainly from Marketing/ Advertising/ PR/ Corporate Communications) I spoke to were mainly quite pleasant and friendly. That is a first thumbs up! In fact, I noticed the people from Sabah & Sarawak were the most friendly of all.

And surprise behold, nearly everyone (bout 90%) speaks fluent English. The only surprise were some Penangites who were more English with their Penang Hokkien tone (some call it the sing-song tone) - that was quite unique :)

Of course, I also had a few rough encounters with some who would rattle rudely with no intention of being an Advertiser. I guess I was like their punching bag.

Exec: You know ah.. I won't be paying money for tourism. In fact tourism should be paying me money you know. Because why? I bring tourists in here you know...

Then after talking for 5 mins
Exec: Btw ah, you can forget it lah.

Then some couldn't understand English and were just dumbfounded.

Exec: pause...pause... Apa itu? U nak cakap dengan siapa ah? (What is it? You want to speak to who?).

One was even going round the bush talking rubbish if I can say so - each sentence I made got an off topic reply! For eg.

Myself: My company is publishing a book on Malaysia.
Exec: When was the book out? Out already ah? Got feature us ah?

Myself: (intro on book)... I'm inviting your company to be an Advertiser...
Exec: You looking for who? What is it?

You get the picture.

And there were some with their slang with the strong ah, hor, or, issit (izzit!), har.. etc.

But anyway, overall, it was a good experience. Some quite laughable, though at times I was a lil furious I must say.

Next up, I've been preparing my sales kit & video presentation for them today and will be emailing the list tomorrow. Wish me good luck in securing enough Advertisers :)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Bullet Train Dream

That's the second time the announcement is made to scrap the KL-Singapore high speed train. The 90 minute speed train from KL to Singapore will make it faster to reach Singapore than driving KL-Ipoh or KL-Malacca! The reason given is the cost factor that the Malaysian government has to fund the project (Full report by Channel News Asia or Summary by Lancerlord).

So, for the moment, Malaysia is not joining Japan, Europe or China in having speed trains.

I had earlier envisioned a breakfast in Singapore and a second helping in KL! lol. Ok, actually, I was looking at more like going for a meeting in KL and back on the same day. In fact, within half a day. Take an early morning ride, arrive just nice when office starts and back by lunch.

Of course, that might be an expensive meeting. But for business travelers - it is always time vs. money, and if the meeting is a good one, it might be well worth it.

I've already heard of business travelers doing that, using the plane - imagine what this could do - save more time with less hassle. The no. of business deals between the 2 countries might just increase!

Back on food - I could take the train ride up for the tempting KL hokkien mee! (ok, that would be a costly dinner).

Anyway, I'm sure I wasn't the only one dreaming of the bullet train between KL-Singapore. Some of those who could benefit:

The shoppers or tourists (from both sides) - who just want a fun day shopping spree in the other city. Already there are shoppers going up when Malaysia's Mega Sale is on and KL-ites coming over for the Grand Singapore Sale. Imagine, how many more might just pop by if it was that convenient. And they don't go alone, bringing friends and the whole family sometimes!

This benefit the shoppers, but more importantly the 2 countries. As now even overseas tourists who may not want to go to the other city may do so now. It's just like if you are overseas. Because of the bullet train, you travel to more places.

The tourism industry will definitely get a direct benefit from this.

Next - the concert & event goers. Celine Dion just did a South East Asia stop only in KL. Imagine how many more would have come from Singapore. Or those who flew into Changi and head up to KL just for that concert.

More on the arts scene - realise that there are quite a few international stage theaters which are performed only in KL or Singapore, but are advertised in both places? The train could help boost up more sales.

Or even the F1 - fans will just hop over the next city... making these KL' Sepang F1 and Singtel's Singapore F1 compliments rather than being near rivals!

And when a person visits another city (eg. for a concert), one just don't go in for that concert. They spend in F&B, souvenirs and some might even put up a night in a hotel, if they decided to stay on. And usually if they do, they end up spending more - partly because they may also take the chance to do more sight seeing.

Again, the tourism/ retail industries will benefit. In fact, this will benefit the arts scene and the cross cultural understanding too. Cultures will be shared and we can understand each other better, without having weird perceptions of each other (more: Does Singapore Really Cares About Malaysia?).

For example, Singapore may even promote their popular shows like the Beauty World to the KL-ites to come down and watch it at the Esplanade. And when one watches it, they understand Singapore and Singaporeans a lil better - from the slightly different lingos of 'lei' and 'hor' to why kiasu-ism is not too bad afterall (I know some don't agree, but hey, that's why the train is good!).

beauty world musical singapore
Beauty World - one of Singapore's most popular musicals

It can also do wonders for Malaysia as well. The highly acclaimed Puteri Gunung Ledang or the other performances like the colourful Citrawarna can be promoted even more so to the Singaporeans. And this can help the Singaporeans to know beautiful Malaysia and Malaysians better too. Already, Singaporeans form the largest group of tourists to Malaysia.

puteri gunung ledang musical
Puteri Gunung Ledang Musical - Malaysia's grandest musical

Still Dreaming?
I guess there are many more reasons on why we want to see this come true. Guess, the time is not now, and we once again are not ready for a high speed train yet. Well, at least we have the KL-Singapore budget airplanes for the start.

Hopefully, we can be third time lucky in the next 10 years time? And that time round, let's make the train travel all the way up to Penang & Bangkok! :)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Malaysia Book Update 4: The Sky Is BLUE!

First the not so happy news - we are not featuring the 50+1 Brands segment as initially planned. Somehow, this segment is way beyond our scope at this point of time. When I mentioned in Malaysia Book Update 3: To Feature Or Not To Feature, it was still 50-50. But now, it's more like 90-10 (against - for).

Many reasons behind it and I don't think I want to dwell into it that much. Actually, I saved a post to publish on a similar title The Sky Is Blue for the reason of the partnership with a brands company. I took a day up to KL for a day meeting and I was so proud that the partnership went through.

I felt very happy to have made my journey up all the way from early morning and back in late night. And though the sky wasn't realy blue (it was cloudly), I thought heck, when things are working fine, the sky is blue!

Now, the partnership is still there (the same), the only difference is we won't embark on this together at this point of time.

Ok, then why am I writing The Sky Is Blue right?

Well, here's the good BREAKING NEWS:
Free Books To Contributors!

Yes, each one who have agreed to feature their photo, or have been interviewed or even for some who have written and shared what they love about the country.

Thank you guys for supporting this humble project of mine, to promote Malaysia. Many have come forward without hoping for anything at all - and some in faith. Honestly, I've been moved by the contributions and I'm very happy that we have made this decision.

So, the book is already completed (minus a few pages of intro etc). Now, to make this happen, I'm going to spend 2 weeks or more on pure marketing. As this is a one time off book (for this year) and it's a new thing to me, I'm taking it on my own hands. I'll need to learn the ropes as well before I can hire in my next project.

And better news, my company will be rolling an online website which will benefit readers and bloggers pretty soon too (when the book is launched).

So, guys, once again, thanks for your support... and really, the Sky Is BLUE! :)

If you are new to the book, read here: Malaysia Book Q&A :)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

How To Look Rich

Based on the following advert, there must be a certain look to being rich. The advert mentions that we should practice looking rich now in case we can win the cash prize money (and be rich and wealthy). Amongst them, the angle of the face must be 38.7 degrees up!

rich face, look rich
The Look Rich Advert promoting Heads Up!

There is also an advert (by the same company) playing on the radio saying that to look rich, one is to smile less or was it don't smile (look grumpy?), and a few other things.

Of course, if based on one of my experience with a bit richer than normal businessman not too long back, Keeping It Cool, there must be some truth on how rich people look and behave.

Ok, but today is only on the rich look only.

I've always pondered why some businessmen or top management people have that certain unhappiness. Have you ever taken notice of their photographs in the pictures that appear in the media? Or even at times when they speak on TV interviews? Pictures tell a million things and it is usually through the pictures that we can see them - their emotions.

Of course, we may bump them at certain lush places. But if ever we do, they are so surrounded by guards and other 'important people' and can't see their emotions.

Anyway, I realise that seeing their pictures, there is something missing in these big tycoons. The lower/middle class may sometimes wonder
"Why/ How come? Got everything already but still unhappy?"

Then, not long after I saw the advert, I read somewhere about the rich. To sum up, it says that the more rich one gets, the more insecure he becomes, as there is no knowing when is good enough to stop. That is why they continue to go into bigger deals (most of the times into more unknowns, diverting from their main business). And these deals are big investments and risks as well. Hence, the insecurity.

I believe in that, though I feel a lil sad that these rich people are actually like the rest of the world in insecurity. In fact, minus insecurity, some not rich people have more joyous looks.

The rich may not be like the middle class who are insecure of their jobs or their rents, loans, children's education, but they are insecure in other matters.

Looking back at the pictures, I guess the point I want to make is that these kind of looks just don't make everyone wanting to reach that high status.

Now, turning the other way around, have you seen a happy rich person? I don't mean a happy moment where the smile is for that moment only, but more so, a person who looks rich, is rich in wealth and most of all is rich in happiness?

I've seen a few though it is quite outnumbered. But, these glitter in their smiling eyes just make you feel to aim to achieve their level. In fact, if ever you can come across them, I'm sure they will make you feel good and comfortable too, without much/ any arrogance, rudeness, or insecurity in them.

So, really, is there a look to being rich and wealthy? Guess you know the answer by now... Yes, one that is a smiling one and a contentment in life :)

*Just forget the head level, and focus on the road ahead :)

When East Goes West

I've recently watched 2 movies.

forbidden kingdom, jet li, jackie chan
Forbidden Kingdom

One features the 2 kung fu legend action heroes - Jackie Chan and Jet Li. It also stars Michael Angarano in this more Chinese cast who speak English throughout. This movie was filmed mostly in China with scenic views of the jungle and mountains.

Escape From Huang Shi/ Children Of Huang Shi

The other one stars another 2 of the most popular Chinese movie stars who has made it in Hollywood, Hong Kong's gentleman, Chow Yun Fat and Malaysia' very own, and one of the most popular Bond girls, Michelle Yeoh. Though not the main leads, they together with Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Radha Mitchell are the 4 main characters in this again, China filmed movie. And again, it's an all English script - only snippets of Mandarin between the Chinese characters.

Watching these two movies have been awesome... and I've just had some thoughts and feel good feeling, mainly for a few good reasons:

1. The Asian stars (or rather Chinese stars) are playing amongst the leads in the movies. Last time, if you remember, Asians are only heroes in their own movies - where they are the good guys, while the Westerners are the baddies. This happen a lot in Jackie Chan's old kung fu movies.

However, Jackie Chan acting in Rush Hour was one of the first to change that. He playing the lead role together with funny guy Chris Tucker is one success story Asian-to-West story.

2. But apart from Rush Hour, most Asians are still baddies in Hollywood films.

If ever they are the main roles playing the good guys, most of their movies do not attract the crowd - we've seen Chow Yun Fat's foray into Hollywood (remember Anna & The King or Replacement Killers?), and even Jet Li's. It could be partly international audience are new to them. Also, the script & budget may have played a factor.

So again, watching these 2 movies and seeing that Asians and Westerners stand on same good ground is a good thing. There's no 'with me or against me', but rather in these 2 movies, they all serve a common goal for a good cause (especially on Escape From Huang Shi).

3. One of the other turning point to the acceptence of Asian actors/ actresses for the global audience is at the award winning Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which also made an international name for Chinese swordplay and kung fu action. It was there that one of most recognisable Asian woman, Zhang Ziyi made her mark.

So, once again, to feature credible Asian actors/ actresses in these Hollywood films show an acceptance to them. In fact, it is even better that they are now cast alongside the Hollywood actors/ actress giving them equal attention and better scripts and movie roles.

4. Another highlight that though they Asian stars have Asian coloured skin, but they speak anything else from Cantonese/ Mandarin but a 'foreingn language'. It is admirable for them to learn a new language.

Yes, it may sound a lil weird or monotonous English, but the Chinese have learnt the language quite alright. (Of course, it comes naturally for Michelle Yeoh who of all speaks perfect English - not Manglish/ Singlish or even the American-wannabe slang, but standard English with great diction).

And now, even the once don't-care-about-Hollywood actor, Jet Li is marching into Hollywood with English.

5. All these East into West clearly shows the power of Asia (with help of the awaken dragon China). It could be a marketing tactic to one extend to reach to an even wider audience. Smaller countries are already doing crossovers (eg. HK-Thai, Singapore-HK, etc) and obviously Hollywood's in the game as well.

Yes, this will help Hollywood (not that they need much more as Asia is actually very receptive of their movies).

But the ones to gain most are actually the Asians. The stars are one, but also the production crew and now even the tourism dollars! Watching the above movies make more wanting to just visit the various places in China. Just like what happend to New Zealand with the filming of Lord Of The Rings.

6. And furthermore, now that these actors/ actresses can play in proper roles, they can showcase their Asian culture in themselves. The Asian values which many times have been misinterpreted by the media in the West can be ironed out through the movies (even with Jackie Chan playing the funny cop, it shows that Asians are not dumb and unable to speak proper lol).

Of course if the movies are like the above, where they are a lil more ancient China, it will show more on the Asian values. Small things like drinking tea in tea cups (ok, I know it seems normal for us in Chinese retaurants lol) or the grace of the ladies and their respect for elders will all be showcased. Asian values are going West!

With all these feel good (and are really good reasons), it's no wonder why smaller countries are taking the movie industry seriously. Singapore has started it with a more serious government backing. The principles how movies make East Goes West can be applied to how Singapore Goes Global or for that matter, even Malaysia.

But these are for a next post.


Related: Oscar Goes Global

Movies Review:
Forbidden Kingdom
Escape From Huang Shi

Sunday, April 20, 2008

How To Win Without Fighting

Writing the post Does Singapore Really Cares About Malaysia got me thinking a bit about why some companies/ people can't grow and be no. 1.

When I was in school, I had a classmate who kept comparing the results he got with mine for each and every paper. In a way it felt good (to know that I was a yardstick - Seeing Red Positively) but honestly, it was only a school exam! The actual real test would definitely be the government exams eg. SPM or the O Levels.

Even if he 'won' or got higher results than me in the school exams wouldn't mean much actually as the deciding factor would be how we performed in the big end exam. Anyway, this is my belief, and I've applied it in my works as well till today - that beating the competition is good, but we shouldn't be contented to just stay ahead that way.

Take a look in the global business world. When Google came out with their search engine, did they really wanted to just beat Yahoo? Maybe initially because their reason Yahoo's didn't provide the best search results. But later on, their aim was more of providing a service in all areas for internet users globally - a reliable and good search engine and now much more areas too. So, rather than just being one step ahead of Yahoo, they have emerged as a internet giant today, and far more ahead of rivals Yahoo.

Another example - take Facebook vs. MySpace vs. Friendster. Friendster was one of the pioneers in the industry of social networking. However today, in most places of the world and especially in important market USA, MySpace rule much bigger than Friendster despite coming into the market later. Again, I'm sure they had an ambition to be good (or great) and hence they introduced quite a fair bit of things to their sites and are highly successful with the artistes pages.

Then along came Facebook and did they point blank want to only beat MySpace? Yes, maybe. But, the things they introduced is clearly on their own goal and mission of again providing something useful and clearly meets the more sophisticated internet users. They maybe rivals to MySpace, but no more direct head to head rivals, but rather with their own mission and aim.

All these examples show that companies who want to be big (and to one large extend, no. 1), they look way beyond just what their rivals are doing. Instead, they look at a longer term vision and goal - their very own vision and goals not their rivals'.

Coming back to Malaysia and Singapore, if Malaysia is to succeed, we need to know what Singapore is doing, but more than that, we need to have a stronger vision ourselves and to know where want to head to.

We need to know what we've done and succeeded, and what more we need to do. Malaysia is a unique country by itself with huge resources and wonderful mix of people. We should use that to our advantage.

Whilst Singapore has successfully combined the East meets West, Malaysia may want to focus on being truly Asia - where we are the centre of the Middle East countries, India and China. That is what makes Malaysia unique and we should make full use of it. We have strong culture and talented people - what we need now is positioning ourselves. (In fact, I realise Singapore is doing this now as well in a way with their foray into Islamic banking too).

Anyway, getting back - let Singapore be the roundest, their port being one of the busiest ports in the world despite the ships ploying the same route and their world class Singapore Airlines. Let's give them credit for these achievements of theirs. They obviously did some things right.

And for Malaysia, let's look ahead and hope to achieve our wins in our own ways. For the record and pat on the back, Malaysia Airlines won award for best hospitality - we may not win direct competition, but we are winning in other forms :)

*Also, for the record, my friend lost in most papers and of course in the end results as well. He really should have focused on the end results only :)

Also read: Being No. 1

Friday, April 18, 2008

Does Singapore Really Cares About Malaysia?

Talking to Malaysian friends, I have a sense that they have a lil uneasiness with Singapore. It is not shown directly, but you can get a feel of it sometimes. Even a friend of mine pointed it out.

One can understand why to one extend. The island city is hardly anything in size compared to Malaysia yet it has gained from '3rd world to 1st world' before reaching 50 years old; while Malaysia is nearly 51 and is 12 years to its Vision 2020.

The branded 'kiasu-ism' in Singapore could be another factor. And at one stage, which was even reported in the press, there was an 'ugly Singaporean' image. However, some have changed somewhat since the humble pie of the economic crises back in late 90s and including the outbreak of SARS which hit the country badly.

So, the Singapore Flyer takes off with a big bang - but Malaysians are calling it a kiasu approach to KL's temporary The Eye On Malaysia.

Honestly, I don't think Singapore did the Flyer which cost over S$200m was built just to beat or rival Malaysia's. Besides, this was planned in 2003, when the KL Eye was not there yet. Of course, I'm not sure did Malaysia planned The Eye before 2003 and it leaked to Singapore? Actually, which was planned first - and who copied who?

In any case, I see it more like a fight of kiasu-ism (for a good cause) against London and even China (the Flyer is now the world's tallest - beating the Star of Nanchang, and before it gets beaten by the Great Beijing Wheel in 2009. (more at Singapore's The Roundest)

Some other reasons I think Singapore don't compare with Malaysia - take a look at the Formula One race. Malaysia's Sepang touted as the hottest race in the world has just celebrated its 10th race! And Singapore is only starting its maiden race this September! And we always thought Singapore is much more 'advanced'?

I believe that the reason Singapore is bringing F1 here is because it aims to boost Singapore's image internationally. And that is because many other Asia cities have done so - including international cities Bahrain & Shanghai. I see that Singapore is more concern in loosing its appeal to these 2 cities than to KL.

They are taking calculated gains & risks for the F1. Of course, they are smart in making it the first night race in the world. Again, if they are so concerned with Malaysia, they would have done the A1 Grand Prix as well.

On a sidetrack, Singapore's partnership with Mark Burnett, the producer behind Survivor is part of Singapore's aim in branding the island.

Another example - the Commonwealth Games. Malaysia hosted this in 1998 - and it was a huge success bringing the nation together. It also put Malaysia in the limelight at least amongst the Commonwealth countries.

But why does Singapore don't bother to even host the SEA Games what more the Commonwealth Games? If I'm not wrong they passed their chance in hosting one of the previous SEA Games. If they were so concerned that Malaysia has been hosting it, then wouldn't they quickly host the Games as well?

Now, then one would say, yeah, but Singapore is hosting the First Youth Olympics. Again, are they really competing with Malaysia here? From my perspective, it's again a fight with the other Asia countries - again China. China is hosting the World Summer Olympics come August. Well so Singapore can say they hosted the Youth Olympics - though at a smaller scale.

Next, the integrated resorts. Yes, Malaysia has the Genting casino. And soon, so will Singapore - which will be operated by Malaysia's Resort World. Here, I may say, yes, they are looking at the huge gains Genting make yearly and the Singaporeans driving up to the clouds for a night or two trying their luck. But I also think, that they have looked beyond that and their main rivals are actually Macau.

In my conclusion, this self-proclaimed lil red-dot is not really competing with Malaysia. It has taken a shift to try to stay ahead with the awakening (or already awaken) dragon, China and also the countries in the Middle East. Their main competitor is HK, Abu Dhabi, Shanghai and even Seoul and Tokyo.

So for us Malaysians, let's not bother too much on the things (little or big) that Singapore does, but focus instead of competing with the bigger boys. In any, we should work with Singapore rather than against her and succeed together.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Singapore's The Roundest!

Inspired by blogger friend's post, Singapore Has Beaten Malaysia, thought I'll be a good resident to share my take on Singapore's rounder than ever, bigger than more - the Singapore Flyer.

Ok, well, the biggest round actually. The just opened Singapore Flyer is now the world's biggest - tallest at 165m.

Ever since London started off with the observation wheel (in UK called the London Eye), every other country is bringing it in for tourism purposes.

In Malaysia, it was and still is a main Visit Malaysia feature (till 31 Aug 2008). The Eye On Malaysia is only a temporary one, making it a star showcase this Visit Malaysia.

singapore flyer, singapore skyline
Singapore's flyer smack in the city

Anyway, back to Singapore's Flyer - it has overtaken Star of Nanchang which held the world's biggest for 2 years. And if like the Chinese, round things are good luck, then I hope this as well for Singapore.

What you can expect to see here:

singapore flyer top view
Singapore Flyer from the top

singapore flyer in the tropics
Singapore Flyer in the tropics

A friend of mine has just went for a ride on the wheel, and she liked it so much that she went a second time - at a different time of the day. The view won't change, but from night, she wants to see sunset! And a view she and any other visitors will get - the view of the city's skyline and nearby fun centres from the F1 street circuit to the durian like Esplanade and soon to be opened casino at Marina Bay.

So if you are nearby Singapore or living here yourself, take this chance to sit on the world's biggest. You only have about a year or less before China once again hold its record in Bejing come a year's time in 2009 - the Beijing's Great Observation Wheel (giving Beijing everything great heh :) ).

world observation wheel

Fast Facts:
*Apparently, Shanghai scrapped the idea of the world's largest.
*Just a comparison: ticket price on Eye on Malaysia & The Singapore Flyer - RM15 to S$29.50 - but hey, they are different ya?

Now who says Singapore is boring? :)

*Updated: Made an error that the price for the Flyer was S$40. The full price with packages are at Ticket Rates.

Malaysia Book Update 3: To Feature Or Not To Feature

7 topics have been completed and on stock take, we are beyond 220 pages as our initial target. From the looks, we could go up to 300 or more. That is way beyond the estimated budget.

At this junction, I'm thinking of whether or not to feature the 50+1 Brands. My considerations, the list is difficult although now we are going to work with a brand company on it; more pages means more budget (nearly 50% more), and time constraint - we are so late already (book deadline has been changed & pushed back so often now - the latest target pushed to end April).

These are the few things going in my head currently.

Although, we will most likely go on as planned (though I'm saying this with a bit of caution). Reasons - it will make the book more wholesome and meets the objective of branding & promoting Malaysia, as we first initiated.

As the brands company can only get back to me on Monday, we have these 4 days to consolidate our works and complete the rest.

The book really is coming to a near close - in a way I'm happy - it's been so many months now. We are not accepting anymore pictures and writings as all segments have nearly been done up. But of course, I'll miss the process.

Has been a steep learning curve and a great process altogether - one of a kind I think for book publishing in Malaysia, the region and I think maybe even worldwide.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

It's Quite Ok-lah

I wrote No Matchbox Please - We Want Fresh Air to share how some Singaporeans feel living in the island city. In fact, that was one of the main reasons why some Malaysians are not coming here, or some have gone back, that despite many others loving Singapore (to one large extend).

Aniway that was my thought on HDB living when I first came to Singapore as well. And with that mindset, I have avoided as much as I could to stay in the flats.

My history is I've stayed in the condo - though it being a very small room and even managed to stay on landed property (for a very good price). But when prices last year sky rocketed making Singapore's property market the hottest in the world, many of us had to move out. The demand for flats increased, so did rents. But we had not much choice.

Owners were renewing contracts, increasing prices like never before. It went up to as high as 50% increase in some cases especially the condos. Some friends I know who emphasis more on good & comfortable lifestyle living has also headed to HDB as their condo rents went way beyond budget.

Aniway, despite the maybe not so good scenes on living in a HDB flat, but actually, it is not so bad afterall.

Yes, we may not be used to at first. But hey, if one manages to find a decent place, it can be ok. The noise is not always there - and rather bearable actually. The lifts are dirty at times, but by the next day, it is clean again. Even the pathways - in fact the pathways to my place is usually clean. And though a lil cram, with some adjustments and arrangements, it can look and feel alright.

If one misses the condo facilities, the sports facilities are usually not too far off - one can simply drive or take a bus there. And there always is some greens around the flat which is quite eye relaxing.

hdb singapore

HDB photo by Lou

It is about adaptability and looking at the glass as half full. In fact, newer HDBs are very condo style architectures.

Again, I don't want to bluff to say that it is a luxurious lifestyle. For me, it's ok for short term. I still dream of living again on solid ground (ie landed property) someday soon - and apparently Singapore is not short of landed properties!

But for now, hey, living in the HDB is quite ok-lah. :)

Monday, April 14, 2008

No Matchbox Please - We Want Fresh Air

It's in the morning, and the sun is not out yet. I walk past a few homes on the way to the lift. There is 1-2 schoolchildren shuffling out their ipods.

The lift door opens and we get in. The lift stops at the next level and more people join in. The small lift is now a lil crowded and it's a bit too near for comfort. It gets a lil stuffy.

The numbers at the lift starts to become interesting - me waiting patiently (or impatiently) to get out. I guess the rest feel the same way too.

Fresh air at last. Though it was only a short while, but how nice it is to be out.

We then head our own ways. Some to work, some to school.

Now it's 7ish and the skies are turning dark. I head home to the lift. I'm waiting for the lift once again - this time to go up. Some other families are waiting nearby. Sometimes it's a young couple; other times its a mother-child. I see many leaflets being thrown at the corner. Somehow that corner of the lift is always filled with leaflets. Today is good already as there is no urine on that corner. Whew.

We head up. Everyone is quiet. Occasionally the mum talks to the children, or even scold them. Bit by bit as the lift goes higher, more people go out. Then it's my turn. Again, it's fresh air.

I head home. Once again, I pass by a row of other homes. I sometimes take a peek into their homes. At times I can smell the cooking - home cooked food. Sometimes, the dog will come out and bark.

And I'm back. Into this home that some of my friends call a matchbox style home.

I can understand why. It's not huge and maybe a lil cramp. If you are in the room beside the living room, you'll be able to hear the TV when it's on. It's definitely much bigger than the lift, but it's still cramp if you are living with others like family members or friends.

The living room allows you to put a TV and a some sofa. And then it's the dining room followed by the kitchen.

Sometimes I can hear the noisy neighbours from upstairs or even the beside one. Especially when they have guests around. Again, too close for comfort gets to me.

This is a scenario of living in a HDB flat - a housing scheme the government introduced. It's the cheapest around. A decent flat is only S$200000 and above - which is rather affordable for the average middle income earner.

I know I've painted a 'gloomy' picture on it, but I just want show why some Singaporeans are leaving the country for more fresh air and open spaces, like near neighbour Australia. Apart from many other things, some of these Singaporeans don't want to be in crammed matchboxes or living on air. They want to live on solid ground in beautiful homes without boundaries. Does the HDB provide that, or are they looking at a glass that is half full?

In my next post, I'll share a different picture - It's Quite Ok-lah :)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Finally, There's Enough Love

At first I thought that the 50+1 Love Expressions (to the country) segment could have been easy. After all, it was just mostly images of the Malaysian flag.

Alamak, how wrong can one get!

Firstly, though there are lots of Malaysian flag photos, but we need quite unique ones - not just flags in any position. Now, that was the first hurdle.

And secondly, to get 50+1 (ie 51) pictures, that's is a lot for just one topic - in fact it's the most throughout the book. No other items have 51! (eg. even a particular food like the popular nasi lemak, we didn't need 51 pics of it).

So after much invitation to people to submit, I thought we had enough. However, on stock take, we were actually short of about 6. So near, yet so far!

After some thoughts, I had an idea to invite a few artists who has drawings of posters & cartoon characters to participate.

Many of these posters are for competitions and some of which are award winners. There were also artists who draw for a living - either graphic designers or pure artists.

This makes the segment very unique - just as it was envisioned: to bring together people from all walks of life to share their love on the country in any possible form.

And so now we have photos, writings and also drawings on loving Malaysia, making this a very unique segment on its on.

I'm glad this segment is now completed. Finally, there's 'enough love' and it's good we didn't had to pay anyone to show their love :)

What Kind Of Thinker Are You?

Blogger friend seems to be doing a fair bit of quizzes on her blogs, Anything Beautiful. Been trying out a bit of what she shares and find them quite accurate.

Know some of you might not like the idea of such quizzes. I don't all the time, but so far the results are quite close!

Aniway, being the business-in-me, took this quiz on type of thinker I am.


Your Thinking is Concrete and Random

You are naturally inquisitive and curious.

You're excited by new ideas, and you are a true independent thinker.

You are interested in what is possible. You like the process of discovery.

You are often experimenting, challenging old ideas, and inventing new concepts.

Rules, restrictions, and limit don't really work for you.

You have to do things your own way, and you can't be bothered to explain yourself.

How true is that! I can relate to it as I like to create new stuffs - like the projects I've done & currently doing, quite a bit of a thinker - now with some strands of white hair! And new ideas really make me sit up!

Oh and no, don't like rules since in school though I was then the one making other students stick to the school rules! lol.

How about you? What type of thinker are you? :)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Sunshine After The Storm

One of my friends made a statement today as to why I always seem to share the positive part of life to them.

"Can't be you don't have low points in life one right?"

Well, I acknowledge that I too faces quite a fair bit of mix - both positive and negative experiences.

Being in business, I face quite a fair bit of challenge - the steep learning curve, making some naive mistakes, getting conned, being overpromised in some events but the turnout was terrible, meeting some very arrogant and rude counterparts and many more.

I hardly like to share these negative experiences if possible because it is usually already over. Though I did one in Keeping It Cool.

However, most of the times, instead of focusing on the bad part of things, I thought I should concentrate on the more inspiring outcome. It's just my way of seeing the rainbow after the rain which I've mentioned. Actually, to me it's more like the sunshine after every storm!

Now if it was a mistake, I do acknowledge it, and point out that it shouldn't repeat itself again. (this I believe is important as we can't bluff ourselves!)

However, most of the times, by not dwelling into the negative, I manage to see the good parts of it. Like the time when my website banner & one of the segment's ideas was copied which I've shared at Seeing Red Positively. So rather than feeling down, I turned it around and learnt a thing or two. And the mood was better. (Of course, I took necessary actions to ensure the direct copy stopeed!).

This may seem a lil crazy to some, but I also like the idea that something good will emerge out of the events - either as a learning point or sometimes the events turn out quite differently. And in fact, in many cases, there were some quite positive results in the end.

Take for example when I participated in my very second event - the KL Asia Fashion Week when I first published my first book. That was horrible - there weren't much crowd at all despite this event was touted as a big thing! And then, at the night function, no one actually noticed my booth as it was at a hidden corner and when I wanted to put the booth inside the main hall, we were allowed at first (by the Organisers) only to be screamed at later (by the Sponsors of the show). What an embarrassment!

Driving up to KL, carrying the many heavy books and the hope of sales just went down the drain right from the very first day. I didn't stayed on till the end - packed up by the 3rd day. You wouldn't believe how disappointed I was - it was sad. I had hired a helper to help, and here I wasn't even able to cover her costs! It wasn't much, but as it was a new event and me being so new in business, it hit my self esteem!

However, the good things at that event was being able to meet with Datuk Dr Victor Wee, Secretary General of Tourism Malaysia - my first time meeting anyone of a high status; and also meeting one of Malaysia's top model-actress, Amber Chia (who at that time haven't ventured into acting).

Now, Amber is part of the 50+1 Malaysians List of my new 50+1 Malaysia book! And I've been since working closely with a few Malaysian Ministries.

amber chia, datuk victor
Datuk Dr Victor at the event accompanied by Amber Chia

It was my first exposure to the celebrities in Malaysia - as apart from meeting Amber, I also met Ziana Zain at the night gala fashion show event. In a way, that was nice and it does help in a way with my works today like interviewing the celebrities/ personalities.

I have many other experiences, and some were quite expensive lessons - in terms of dollar wise and also time spent.

But, really, thinking positively does help and it gets me moving forward. There were really some good things that came out of those lil experiences and life lessons - hey I'm still around in the business which many have asked me to stopped, which luckily I didn't!

So, to my friend's question, yes, but it's a choice to see things in a positive light :)

Read also: Seeing The Good

Friday, April 11, 2008

Happy Birthday, Anyone?

I spoke to some friends recently - some say that they still do receive cards, especially if they are wedding cards. On the contrary, my friends I know who have gotten married have been just sending sms, emails and even using Facebook.

Well if wedding cards are already so difficult to get, what's more on birthday cards. I myself hardly send any - usually if I do, it's a present rather than a card.

Well, of course an e-card is the easiest. There are those one page simple ones when ecards were first introduced. Then they got some animation, and now you can click here & there and play some games as well before you read the message. But as much as we like it, it can get boring too right?

Interestingly, YouTube is another way to send a greeting card. There are those good animated ones which will leave the recipient rather happy and in a good mood. One of my personal favourites is this one:

But when I saw the next Happy Birthday video clip, this has got to be the one. Some call it 'scary'. I call it funny. lol

Ok, maybe the cat shouldn't have talked towards the end... but then, without it there will be no kick in this clip! haha

Maybe the best one is a DIY video then?

*And since I'm at it, a Happy Birthday to any April boomers! :)

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

How To Publish A Book

Some friends and acquaintances have asked me on the works of publishing ever since I've taken this road of publishing.

Firstly self published books are one of the easiest ways to get your idea in a book. Mainstream publishers do not really take on niche titles and may reject your ideas, though it is still worth giving them a try.

However, if that fails, you can always go into independent publishing to get your idea across.

Some publish because they want it as a medium of expression, while others choose to make money out of it. Others use it purely as a marketing tool - just like artistes who produce albums, but make their monies through concerts. Here, these publishers make monies by seminar or courses that they offer.

But usually, independent publishers are people with ideas & are passionate about their topics. And while they may like the idea to make money out of their project, they don't put that as the no. 1 priority.

This is good because then the works are usually non commercial and very interesting at times.

So what are the steps to be a publisher?
1. Ideas
Formulate your concept & idea of the book. This is a very crucial part of your book. While most independent publishers usually just think of their idea, they must also note of the target audience for the book.

With knowing what goes in, you will be able to determine your title. Throw a few titles and ask around to see the best one. Looking at the available titles in your bookstore is also good - you either follow them or do a title that is totally different to differentiate your book.

2. Planning
Your book will fall into either a storybook, a photography book (coffee-table book), a directory or a knowledge based book. Depends on your type of book, different books have different planning stages and on its importance.

If you are publishing a storybook, you will need to at least have a bit of talent in building up a good story and a good conclusion. The characters are very important.

If you are on coffee-table books, then photography is crucial - and working with a good photographer is essential.

3. Budgeting
This is a crucial part for publishers as they need to see if this project is viable.

Get quotes from printers in your country and also overseas. Ask them to quote you including shipping and taxes (if from overseas).

It is definitely easier to deal with a local printer, but sometimes overseas are way cheaper.

This is usually the biggest bulk of the costs. Hard cover books are more expensive. And coloured books are also more expensive as compared to black & white only.

4. More on budget & setting up a team
Most independent publishers may not have the big budget for a big team. Don't despair. Outsource what you can and on your budget. A good designer is important as well for all types of books including story books - people judge a book very much by its cover. Some may also hire proof readers.

Do a timeline with them and a comfortable schedule for all parties.

5. Budget - the crucial!
You need to see how you can raise the funds - either your own monies or working with advertisers/ sponsors. Take note on the book industry - how many people actually buy them.

Be conservative, and do not expect your book to be a bestseller yet. You must budget for time spent on marketing as well.

6. Formalities
Register for the ISBN number through your National Library. This ISBN code is a worldwide standardise code for each book. This is important for all book publishers. In certain countries, by registering your book, it is immediately copyrighted.

7. More formalities
With the code, you are sometimes given the ISBN code bar as well. If they don't give you, then you will need to get some professional help in doing the bar.

8. Printing
Once your content is complete, you are ready to head to the printers. Some printing companies may require you to stay in their factories to see the print of each page (usually they print 4 pages in one).

Expect to stay up to 2 days or more if your book is a photography book where colour is important. Usually, you will need to bring your own printed pages as a guideline (which you can print at any shop prior - just remember the costs as it can be a lil costly).

9. Distribution
While your book is in print, you can actually talk to some distributors. Work an arrangement that benefits the both of you and them.

Most independent publishers may consider doing the distribution themselves, dealing directly with the bookstores. However, usually this is not so possible for some bookstores who prefer to deal with a distributor.

But for those that do get to do on their own, expect more paperwork and lots of carrying the books yourselves, or with your helper. Also find transport companies that can help with the transportation.

10. Marketing
Find suitable events and whatever means you can to get your book publicised. Expect to give free copies to the magazines & newspapers for reviews. Collaborate with bookstores for author sessions as well. This can actually be planned before your book is out.

Submit your book to Amazon and also create a website for it. Get any support from your friends who are webmasters or again, outsource it. You could also learn to build a site on your own later on.

Apart from budgeting, this is another very crucial segment if you do not wish your printed books to be seating in your storeroom.

I've learnt the ropes on my own here and boy, was it a journey and experience! In any case, I do hope to help fellow independent publishers in the near future.

Good Luck!


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Want To Be A Movie Star?

Yes, look no further if you like to be in action.

Model-actor Christien New (Jarum Halus) is producing a movie under his production company, Christien Lavin Production. The movie title is Life Is Good (aka Back To School). It will star Sazzy Falak, Daphne Iking, Asraf Sindair, Razif Hasim, James Wong and the producers themselves - Christien New and Lavin Seow.

life is good, back to school audition poster
And they are looking for more talents to join in this uni musical, which looks into the lives of students. This humour movie focus will be on groovy dance moves, singing and basketball game scenes.

If you think you've got talent in acting, dancing, singing or simply playing basketball, then simply download the form and head to the auditions!

You can be the Next Big Thing! (just remember to thank me when you become famous :) )

PS: Apparently they are open to non Malaysians as well in their form. So Singaporeans, you may want to join in the fun as well? :)

Monday, April 07, 2008

Need A Break? Take One

Ever since the budget airlines has entered the market, more and more people are flying, taking short breaks without having to burn a hole in the pockets. Clearly, it is much more affordable now and to borrow a phrase from one of the premier budget airlines in the region, Air Asia - "Now, everyone can fly!"

If you live in this region of South East Asia, then all you need is a few days and a small budget for a short needed break. The only problem - where to head to?

Here I compile a list of the places I've been to, serving as a rough guide to what these countries can offer for a good budget.

Visit Malaysia, Truly Asia

If you are thinking of distinct multi racial country, it has got to be non other than beautiful Malaysia. Depends on what you like - from sea, nature, heritage or city life, this is one place not to be missed. It's very huge diversity brings people to many of its cities to its rural areas for different interests & activities.

Although Malays are the main race here, but the other races who have made Malaysia their home have much retained their identity creating interesting sites like the Kek Lok Si in Penang. There is of course a unique group of intermarriages which form new distinct cutlures like the Peranakans and Portugese-Eurasians.

Peranakan House in Malacca by Ad Q

And with Tourism Malaysia extending the Visit Malaysia Year till 31 Aug 2008, it has a series of activities and events lined up for every different type of visitor.

What's more - 3 states are also having their visit year - Kedah, Terengganu & Kelantan. These northern states are known for its heart of Malay traditional culture - like the dances & batik. They are known for amongst the best islands in the country - amongst them Pulau Langkawi, Pulau Redang & Pulau Perhentian. Each state has its own events & festivals lined up specially for this year!

Uniquely Singapore
This island city is always a good stop by for anyone who wishes to see the best of East meets West. The Little India is relatively huge here and some part of its Chinatown is a living Chinatown of old & new.

Then there is the famous street of Orchard Road with its huge shopping centres, plus the much revamped island playground of Sentosa. There is late night shopping every Saturday till 11pm.


Singapore has also injected more excitement to the city-state including the landmark Esplanade, the hip & happening bars and cafes at Clarke Quay and the first F1 night race which will race in the streets of the city itself! There are also many other events lined up for both locals & tourists alike.

Visit Indonesia

Another diversified country that one should visit. This is the country with rich authentic culture. Different islands offers different things and though mainly are Muslims but their culture differ from one province/ island to another. For example, the Javanese from Java differ from the Bataks from Sumatera or the Balinese from Bali (who are mainly Hindus).

The people are friendly and very well cultured. Somehow Indonesians have a distinct personality which very much retains and continue to give them a unique identity.

Bali Festival By Annabel Sheppey

For beach lovers they can look forward to visiting the famous Bali or its sister island Lombok. Of course, Bali's rich culture has much more to offer, plus its friendly and warmth people. It has become an international destination with some big international events held there. Nearer a stone away from Singapore is Batam and Bintan, which one can just take a ferry ride.

Borobudur by Trey Ratcliff

Those into heritage can look forward to Borobudur in Magelang and nearby Yogyakarta. My personal experience to these places leave me very contended as the people are one of the friendliest I've met. And it's on the streets of Yogyakarta and also other towns in Indonesia where horse carts go side by side with other modern day vehicles, adding colours to the towns.

Horse cart in Yogya by Orangescale Studio

And with this 2008 being an official Visit Indonesia Year, it too has a series of events lined up for a good photography experience.

Amazing Thailand
The land of smiles is one of the more renowned destination in this South East Asian region.

Phi Phi Island By Rene Ehrhardt

Like its neighbouring countries, it offers diversified different things for different interests. Beach lovers can look forward to the very popular Phuket island, Krabi & Phi Phi island and Koh Samui amongst others.

Long neck in Thailand - smiling Thai by John Jantak

For culture head up north to Chiang Mai or to Mae Hong Som, home to the the long neck women. I've personally seen them and it's quite a marvel they being able to put so many rings around their necks. Southern Thailand's culture is closer the Malay culture of Malaysia. This will be unique when they look just like Malaysian Malays, but speak no Bahasa Malaysia but the beautiful Thai language instead.

Then there is the City Of Angels, Bangkok. One needs to go there once or twice and will definitely be smitten by it. This city has the charm to bring visitors to keep coming back and enjoy its friendliness amidst its bustling city life. Beyond its heavy jams lies a city of design and where one can find unique local brands, which stand side by side with the bigger international names.

Well, there you have it. 4 destinations which are Cheap & Good! Happy Holidays!

*There's some promos being offered by the budget airlines to some of these destinations now. Go grab your offers! :)

Saturday, April 05, 2008

To The Olympics On Volkswagen

I was told it was to be a 8 hours or more shoot. And we were to arrive at 7am. Again, not much details were told beforehand.

One by one the models arrived. Some were delayed, as the area was a bit difficult to find, though it was in town. When we were altogether, we then headed into a van which transported us to Kallang Stadium.

kallang stadium
During the journey, we introduced ourselves and got to know each other better. Then, we arrived in our first destination. These models were quite friendly, which was nice - different from the sometimes sombre mood of other models.

volkswagen olympic shoot at kallang
The Volkswagen car was at the set. There was also the crew that was already there. Some of us then headed for make-up & slight touch up. We also had a change of clothes, which we used the van as the 'changing room'. The image: to give us a young, energetic, sporty look, just like the model car with its shinny bright red!

the clothes van
The clothes van - filled with different clothes for all of us.

Out we come, young, trendy & cool ready for the shoot. The aim was to fit all of us in the mini car. To do that, we took turns being in the car - max 7 at a time. Yes, that small car can fit 7 of us - driver, front passenger, 4 behind, and with the torch bearer standing popping his head & body through the sun roof. My position was at the back left. It was a lil funny as we were trying to smile each time in the car as by now the morning sun is very much out.

After us, the next 2 went in, with their body and head popping through the back 2 windows. Their shot with ours is to be photoshopped to create an image as if 9 people were in the car.

volkswagen olympics advert

After we were done, we then headed to the second location. By now it was about 11. This was inside the studio in a building. We headed to a studio with a large Blue panel. Here, we met another much bigger group of fellow models. The crew started to set up, while we went to change.

studio with blue panel

The aim this time, is to create a mountain of people, which when the photo is edited, will combine with the previous photo - making as if we were sitting/ standing on the top of the car.

Many Faces
The Art Director had wanted to create a scene with a lot of people, hence some of us actually changed twice, like myself. So in total, I will be featured thrice - the first one in the car; first row on the car (sitting) and one more standing in between the rows! Lucky me!

One guy was styled so differently that this young early 20s managed to look like someone from an old 1960s!

volkswagen olympic advert shoot
Group of models who were to be later photoshopped to create image as if standing on the car.

volkswagen advert, results of photoshoot
This is the sample of the ad. See the added race track and the people on top of the car. The initial Kallang stadium has been taken out.

We took turns to shoot, group by group as there were many of us, and the space was limited. In between we were served packet lunch which was quite nice of the crew (though most crew usually does so).

One More
Once finished, there was another type of shoot, different from what was to be from the first advertisement.

volkswagen modeling shoot
One of the row of models oohing & ahhing over the imaginary cars.

This time round, we were to stand in a row and imagine looking through a glass panel, looking at the 2 'imaginary' cars. Facial expressions were important here, and we were to 'ooh' and 'ahh' over the cars. Row by row of us were taking photos.

We also switched positions, with different hairstyles and clothes. The image this time was to give a serious, executive look. So each of us were dressed more formal.

volkswagen advertisment modeling shoot
When I'm at the panel, this is the view looking back at the crew, including Photographer, Art Director and the rest of the models behind waiting in turn.

By towards the end, some of us, especially the first batch was rather worned out. It has been 12 hours - the longest modeling shoot I've done.

This modeling shoot was nice experience for me, just like the rest I've done - learning the ropes behind the works and at the same time enjoying the experience. I managed to speak to the Producer of the advertisement and learnt a bit.

Lastly, this shoot is for Volkswagen... and we were told it was for the Olympics! As it's for Hong Kong, we are unlikely to see the advertisement here. Well, at least we are going to the Olympics! - literally :)