A Walk In The Clouds

I remember my childhood days when everything is simple. I only crave to have a good meal, wishing there’s chicken, pork, or beef in my mom’s cooking, eat at least three times a day and play with my friends.

Primary school is all about theories, play with child games, and develop some crushes. I guess I’m an early bloomer. But with the crushes, there’s always the achievement to be the best in the class and bring honor medals to my parents. We started to create our own slam book and hoping that our crush will actually fill up and answer the questions posed so we would know what he or she wants and likes and who is his or her crush. We even jump with joy and shout with a pillow once we found out that feelings are mutual.

Secondary school or what we call high school is all about fun and development. The talents will start to emerge. Some of us are good writers, some are good in acting, some are good in science and inventions, some starts to develop their leadership skills. Crushes will develop into first loves and official relationships. The Junior and Senior Prom night can be the most memorable to most of us. Some have their first kiss at this stage. Secrets are developed and some of us cracked like an eggshell sometimes.

College and University days are the realization of dreams. Some of us are lucky to proceed with the study that we wanted since childhood. Some others have no choice but to follow what the family wants us to be. This case is me. But there were no regrets as I enjoyed all my achievements. My family and my friends made my life worth living.

When we start to work is when we start to have ambitions. We see ourselves who we want us to be in the upcoming years. Some of us dream big and were able to succeed. Some of us fail. Some of us are struggling. Some are happy. Some are not. We pay our taxes. We start to dream of having our own car, house, family. Yes. Settling down.

We settle down when we met THE ONE. THE ONE who makes us laugh during the rainy days. THE ONE who give us the inspiration to continue even if situations fail us. THE ONE who is always there on our side listen to our whining, fight with the remote control, challenge our ideas, cuddle and snuggle, intimacy, and all those petty fights — pillow flight, toilet arguments, etc.

How do we know that the person on our side right now is THE ONE? Are there clues? Do we rely on our feelings? Or is it because we are in the settling age so currently he or she is THE ONE? Is THE ONE your soulmate?

No one can foretell the future. And if we are a part of the majestic plan, then I will let it be. Everything happens for a reason.

    Photo taken at New York, USA last 2005.

All of us still continue our journey. People come, people go and some of them come back to our lives. I guess in order for us to be happy is to embrace with smile all the things that happened and will happen.

Til next time. Au revoir.

You And Me Against The World

One key aspect of any business is relationship. A firm can have an excellent products and offerings but without partners or alliances, it is impossible for the business to grow locally or global.

Similar to subsidiaries, strategic partners or alliances greatly contributes to the multinational firm’s revenues. It is easy to knock-the-door of your prospect business partner. Once the door is opened, discussions can be done. However, until the biggest hindrance of any business relationship is overcome, the strength of relationship is undefined.

What is the biggest hindrance?

COMMITMENT AND TRUST.

Having been working on the side of the principal (or the manufacturer of the products and offerings) company, here’s the applicability based on my personal experience:

Phase 1: GETTING TO KNOW EACH OTHER

Like any business transaction, alliances start with ‘getting to know each other’ phase. In this phase, we meet our potential partners and present our products and offerings to the market. We identify how we can create and add values to the prospect partner’s current offerings to their existing customers and requirements. It is also in this phase that we demonstrate and prove our technology’s capability and what are our competitive advantages against our competitors. It is also in this phase that both parties goals and objectives are reviewed and checked if there are any differences. Selecting the partner or alliance is critical.

Phase 2: COMMITMENT

Commitment is reached when the prospect partner promised or give the commitment to allocate resources for the partnership. A clear indication of their attitudinal commitment. It is considered to be a great leap once this phase is reached as resource allocation entails manpower cost which will be shouldered by the prospect partner. In this phase, we normally conduct partner enablement seminars and workshops (to show the fair exchange) in order to kick-start the technology transfer. The partner enablement program also provides the product and solution positioning when going to the market. Most of the time, the prospect partners already have deals in their pipeline before we even reached this state. As such, the pricing, negotiations and partner margins are very critical in this phase as part of the calculative commitment. If pricing and margins are not lucrative enough and there is no demand of our products from the market, it is unlikely that the prospect will give commitment.

Phase 3: TRUST

Expectations are very important in partnership. And strategic alliances follows the credibility trust (also reputation based) whereby our partners (whether distributor or reseller) have their annual quota to meet in exchange to our fair exchange commitment to them. We also expect the benevolent trust from our partners whereby if we are the agreed product to be positioned for a certain sales deal, the partner will remain true to its promise and will not turn to our competitors.

Phase 4: MAINTENANCE

Maintaining the alliance is a long term process for both parties. The following are key factors:

  • The presence of Alliance Manager focused on partner management and growth is an important role for the global company to grow further. Some countries which deemed to be politically risky to setup the subsidiary is the good candidate for distributor and reseller business model. As such, the Alliance Manager holds a vital role.
  • Partner enablement program focused on ensuring that the partners or alliances technical or R&D team are abreast for new products and offerings. Aside from new products, product releases and product roadmap updates are equally important to be shared.

Optional Phase: SEPARATION OR DIVORCE

The contract between two parties can end up in separation if one of the parties decided to terminate due to the other parties inability to maintain the previously set expectations. It is inevitable and it is normal especially when one of the parties decide to shift their business focus to other aspects or other industries wherever the case maybe.

As such, like the song ‘You and Me Against the World’ by Helen Reddy, the promise of commitment and trust is very important when building and maintaining strategic alliances.

Here’s one video discussing and giving few points for strategic alliance:

Til next time. Au revoir.

Would You Like To Speak My Language?

All the world’s a stage

– As You Like It by William Shakespeare

When I think about languages, the first person that comes to my mind is William Shakespeare. His creativity in his sonnets and plays has contributed to the expansion of English language. It was during his time when theatre plays has become popular as the form of entertainment.

Language is that aspect of communication which provides understanding to both the speaker and the listener (or the giver and the receiver). Needless to say, language plays the important role in business negotiations which is critical for company’s revenue.

He’s my nephew. Photo taken at Amsterdam, The Netherlands on September 2010.

Not everyone can speak the English language. And even English language spoken by Americans still possesses differences to the English language spoken by the British. In combination of culture, knowing a host country’s language is an added advantage for the international business negotiator. With Culture + Language, we can understand with clarity where the prospect customer(s) or the prospect business partner(s) are coming from. Not all languages are spoken, there are also the bodily languages that we need to understand.

Language is one of the challenges of an international manager or negotiator that need to overcome in order to win the business negotiation or implement the company’s global strategy.

Benjamin Lee Whorf is the known American linguist famous for his study of linguistic relativity. As per Whorf’s hypothesis, the language determines the nature of culture.

Whorf argued that words provide the concepts for understanding the world. According to Whorf, all languages have limited sets of words. These restricted word sets in turn constrain the ability of users to understand or conceptualize the world. Since language structures the way we think about what we see, it determines the cultural patterns.

Whorf’s hypothesis can also be interpreted as the most influential language has the control of economy and the world.

Although there are other studies conducted to disagree with Whorf’s claims, however, in my opinion, Whorf’s hypothesis and theory is true.

Taking into example the Southeast Asia region with countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, and Philippines, these three countries are until now sharing words. Language between these three countries varies due to the colonization of different countries depicted in their country history. However, having been living, working, and communicating with these countries made me realized that we are still sharing few old words of which the meanings are exactly the same. And those words that we don’t have the commonality have been borrowed from the countries who colonized us. The behavior of the people or some aspects of culture vividly show similarities. When I consider comparing the country ratings of Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions country ratings, it also shows similarities to some aspects of culture. Below is my analysis based using Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions of National Culture:

In conclusion, by basing from this example, the influence of language to other countries can be a tool to tap and to gain advantage during business deals and transactions to the host country. However, this is only the beginning or door opener for the international manager or business negotiator, it is still necessary to further understand not only the language that is verbally communicated but also the body language (implicit languages) from those countries belonging to the High Context Languages as distinct by anthropologist Edward T. Hall.

In the current economy, English has been the most common form of language used in business negotiations. As such, it is important for the international manager or negotiator to use the simplest English words (avoid the ‘slang’) in order to clearly deliver the message to the targeted audience.

As the famous Shakespeare once coined:

Brevity is the soul of wit.

It is through the simplest and precise words one’s intelligence is shown.

Til next time. Au revoir.

Citations:

  1. Cullen J, Parboteeah P, Multinational Management Strategic Approach 4ed, Thomson South-Western, c. 2008, pp. 641 – 643
  2. Benjamin Lee Whorf, “Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia”,  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Lee_Whorf(3) Geert
  3. Hofstede Cultural Dimension http://www.geert-hofstede.com/hofstede_dimensions.php

Crossroads

When it comes to relationship, the term ‘crossroads’ is very common. This term which literally means ‘intersection’ has been represented in different situations:

  1. Simple crossroads: Happens when we are uncommitted and opened ourselves to the market. When eligible men starts to notice us and we ended up having more than one ( > 1) admirer. Simple crossroads would lead us to the situation when we have to choose on who among the admirers is suitable to hit the ‘Enter’ button to go to the next level. Yes, have an official relationship and call thyself ‘The Girlfriend’.
  2. The crossroads of the Exes: This situation is a bit difficult to handle. When you are in committed relationship and suddenly your Ex-boyfriend appeared from ‘Never-Neverland‘ or have probably finished ‘painting the town red’ and have decided to pursue you again. The tricky part is when you still have unresolved issues with your ex-boyfriend or rather in short ‘I still love my ex-boyfriend’ is written in your forehead. Crossroads happen when your current boyfriend demands an answer which leads you to choose the crossing between two roads–> the current boyfriend road or the ex-boyfriend road.
  3. The complicated crossroads: This for me is the metaphorical representation on what is real and what is abstract. This happens when we develop feelings towards a stranger. Someone we meet from the physical or the virtual world. So, why it became complicated? Well, it is complicated when there are men within your reach who maybe your friends or colleagues or acquaintances who are pursuing you and yet you’re not giving them chances because of Mr. Stranger. Let’s make things more complicated –> when your ex-boyfriend appeared again and wanted you back. Funny isn’t it? Which road will you choose? Or, how many roads do you have to consider? It all depends on how many men are asking you the question.

Well, surely there are a lot more representations of crossroads. These are the my representations so far basing from my experience.

In the end, I know that when you reach the crossroads you will need to decide. Your decision will allow you to cross the road you choose which lead you to your future home. They always say ‘home is where the heart is….’

Which crossroads am I currently?

Well… I’m in the 3rd representation.

Yes, I’m in the complicated crossroads. I have met a guy virtually. There were some confusions in the beginning but we were able to sort it out. I like him. I do. However, it is rather better to allow fate take its proper course for the two of us.

Which road will I choose?

 

    Photo is taken in New York, USA last 2005.

Well, I decided to cross the road that is less traveled. The road represents risk and uncertainty but I can’t deny myself that this is what I want. Now, I have allowed the majestic plan to rule and decide on what is the best for us. If there is one word that will describe everything, that is –> Wait.

 

    Photo is taken in Gutersloh, Germany last 2009.

I decided to wait until the right moment comes. Surely fate will give its signs.

In every decision, there is always a price to pay.

However, I’d rather take the risk and take my chances than do nothing at all.

 

I always believe there’s a reason for everything. And I always treasure three letters since my childhood.

That is, my GFF

.

    Photo is taken in New York, USA last 2005.

I believe in God.

I believe in Fate and Destiny.

And I have Faith.

 

Til next time. Au revoir.


 

My Playmate Hans

As an expat working and living in Singapore, there are a lot of advantages….

  1. First is security. Singapore is very secure country to live. With very minimal crime rates, residents can walk and stay outside until 4AM without the fear of being mugged by strangers.
  2. Lower personal tax. In Asia, I must say Singapore has the lowest tax rates compared to neighboring countries.
  3. Competitive purchasing power. For shoppers like me, I totally enjoyed this. As the currency of Singapore gains power over other currencies, the better buying power we can have. The inflation rate is also lower as opposed to other Asian countries.

If there’s one thing that is a disadvantage to Singapore, that’s the property or house rental. Singapore is an island thus the house rents are pretty high. However, it is not as expensive as living in Dubai.

So most of the Asian expats are pretty smart to avoid the high house rents. It is the practical side of things that is more important to such kind of situation. So, since my job requires frequent traveling (every month), I decided not to rent an entire flat or condo unit. I  decided to go for flat share with which I can save SGD 1,000+ per month.

October 2008 when my company decided that I relocate back to Singapore after working in Malaysia for two years. I stayed in Pan Pacific Hotel Singapore for two weeks allowing me to search for flat rents then I am on my own. With luck, I was able to find a flat share within the two-week period. I decided to share it with a very nice family; a couple with their 3-year old son. The toddler’s name is Hans. He’s a very sweet and very active kid. Shy in the beginning but when I showed him my Nikon D200 D-SLR, the shyness suddenly disappeared. He always posed in front of my camera and he became my subject most of the time. We always play inside the flat whenever I’m not on business trip and those occasions that I am working from home.

He calls me ‘Tita Lai! Tita Lai!’…. He sometimes sounded like my dad…. When I reached home and I decided to go out and meet friends, he will be asking me:

Hans: Where are you going Tita Lai?

Me: I have to go out and have dinner with friends.

Hans: But you just got back?

He’s a very good observer and openly admires every time he sees me in business clothes with make-up due to my client meetings. He would normally ask for a kiss before I go to work.

However, as my work demanded a lot of my time, my interaction with Hans has become lesser and lesser. I was not able to play with him anymore. I didn’t know he was already giving me the cues that he wanted to play with me. In short, I wasn’t able to give time to him.

And all of a sudden, he shut down his attention and totally ignored me. Everybody was surprised last January, 2010 when he said he didn’t know me at all. He’s very shy and didn’t even want to talk to me.

Slowly, I introduced myself again to Hans. Slowly, I spent time with him playing and talking. He’s now attending Pre-school within our neighborhood. Every time I had the chance, I talked to him in English and played with him and his cars. When I’m on travel I made sure I visit the duty free shops in the airport to check for toys and buy them for Hans.

And now, Hans recognized me again but not the same as before. Well at least he opened up his world again and accepted me back. When previously he calls me ‘Tita Lai’, now he calls me ‘Friend’. Well maybe because he feels he’s a big boy now. Every time we’re playing and chit-chatting and his mom would call him he would normally respond: ‘Mom I’m still talking with my friend…’ I sometimes can’t help but laugh.

Right now Hans is on the age of inquisitiveness. He demands a lot of answers so I made sure that I will respond to all of his queries. He’s a very sweet kid when he’s in the mood but he can be a total pain when he’s on his tantrums period.

What Hans didn’t know is that he taught me a lesson in life. When it comes to relationship regardless of personal or business, the quantity of time is very essential. Most of the us promote the slogan ‘Quality time…’ but in reality, it is the ‘Quantity time…’ that matters. A lot of relationships personal and business fail because of not enough quantity time.

In order to maintain our relationships with others, we have to spend quantity time with them.

You may wonder how Hans looks like. Well, here he is. He’s a very cute kid.

    Photo taken at Singapore last 2008.

Til next time. Au revoir.


The Kid, The Mother, And The Lady in Red

After living and working outside my country for the last four years, I usually smiled when I see faces of parents and children enjoying the family time and the quality of life in malls, theme parks, children learning centers, and restaurants. These children were lucky because they belong to the new generation. Their parents from Generation X (Gen X) were the offsprings of the baby boomers; they now belong after the Generation Y (Gen Y). Most nations now have stabilized economy as compared to circa ’70s when nations in Southeast Asia are still developing.
Photo taken at Bugis Junction, Singapore last 2005.

I was born without the golden spoon in the mouth; not even silver nor bronze. My father didn’t have stable job and when he has a job it’s always carpentry related… Another historical job that he has when I wasn’t born is being a game dealer in our provincial version of casino. He’s into the gambling business because he’s smart. My mom was a plain housewife. Her previous job before she married my father is being a maid to any family that can afford to pay her services. I’m the youngest of the eight siblings. I’m the unexpected child of my parents. My mother was under contraceptive pills for the last ten years before I was born. I’m considered as the ‘accidental daughter’ or ‘ooopppss’. The seventh sibling, my brother, is treated as the youngest in the family.

There’s a huge age gap between me and my brothers and sisters especially those belonging to the eldest category. To them I’m their eldest daughter because their kids and I belong to the same generation. I got lucky to be born few months before my eldest niece was born; otherwise it would be awkward to call me as aunt when she’s older than me.

Since I was born, my health was very weak. As young as first month I already paid my visit to the hospital. My family was struggling financially and my father was working far away from us as a carpenter. If you’re a parent of eight with your youngest as sickly as me and you still have seven mouth to feed, what would you do? When you are having the toughest time to make ends meet, who will you seek?

Life is tough.

And so we know it.

I remember when some of my older brothers and sisters recall their memories of our childhood, their eyes are still teary… they still linger the pains… I guess it’s because they weren’t able to achieve their ambitions… I guess they weren’t able to make their best in their teenage years… They have to give up the honors and medals in school because they have to work and sell native pastries so that the family will have dinner…

My health as a baby didn’t improve. Every month I paid visit to the hospital with different illness. My mom always tells me it’s because I’m her menopausal baby. She reached to the decision that she would rather give me up rather than sacrifice the other siblings needs. They’re all studying when I was still few months old.

We were living in Cebu, Philippines circa 1975 – 77.

That’s where I was born. Every week my mother and I as a baby always attend the Catholic mass in Sto. Nino Church. When she decided to give my life up, she went to the same church and prayed deeply to God. She offered me to God. If I live it is because of God’s decision and mercy. She doesn’t want to fight with my life anymore. She still got other children to attend to and she cannot give all her time for me. She still has to work.

Sto. Nino Church in Cebu is very famous for the ‘Singing Ladies in Red’. They are the elderly women whom you normally see outside the church holding red candles and singing while they pray. When my mom went out of church, one of these ladies approached my mother and talked to her. The elder lady has actually hold me and told my mom how beautiful baby I was; telling her as well to just give patience and fight with me as I’m bound to do great things in life. The lady told my mom that I will undergo a terrible sickness when I reached seven years of age which will decide if I’m bound to live. If I overcome that sickness I won’t be sickly as I used to be; otherwise, it’s God’s decision to take me back to His loving care.

My mom cried and the lady disappeared.

True enough, my mom took care of me as every month I usually got sick. My family adopted my situation and they prepared themselves that I might leave them in the upcoming months and years. When I reached age seven, I got sick with H-Fever on it’s way to Thypoid fever. It was a deadly condition during that time as it can lead to death. With God’s will I survive. I even took my first communion in the hospital. After I overcome the sickness, my health started to stabilized. I didn’t get sick anymore. I become healthy.

I graduated as Valedictorian during my primary school years.

I graduated again as Valedictorian during my secondary school years.

And though I was struggling financially, with all the roller coaster challenges of university, I still made it and graduated top five of my batch when I graduated in University. I’ve finished bachelor of science (BS) major in computer engineering.

I started my career at the age of 20. A decade after, I decided to pursue my master’s degree and is still completing it as I am writing this.

If there’s one thing I wouldn’t forget is that quote from my high school literature:

A Filipino is like the coconut tree. No matter how high it grew, it always bows its leaves to the ground recognizing the roots it came from.

And so it does. The gratitude. And I hope this blog would be my contribution to having a bubbly life though there are pains and downturns. A simple smile can always make a difference in someone else’s life. (wink).

Live life with grace.

Live it with passion and ofcourse, live it with style… live it with … FASHION….

That’s me when I was 8 years old; my friends would just say I look like a Chinese doll. This is my first medal of recognition in school right after my health stabilized. The beautiful lady beside me is my eldest sister.

Til next time. Au revoir.