Archive for July, 2013

Yesterday, I was engaged in what I perceived to be a rather premature interview about Entrepreneurship –  in response to a comment about my ‘success’  I cited that I am far from any visible level of achievement in the big picture and ill-suited for being held as a role model, After all, unlike the myriad business blogs out there wallowing in their decadent and hedonistic lifestyles and non-stop streams of “I’m better than you” photos, I’m struggling alongside my peers in a constant battle for parity. My purpose, after all, is to depict a realistic and useful narrative for the arduous undertaking of business ownership (and in some cases the latter is synonymous with bland self-employment) – Nathaddeus Tan was the interviewer who is engaging on the mission of writing a book for success in entrepreneurship asked me a plethora of questions targeting the attitudes, motivations and inspirations of my entrepreneurial journey. I might have shocked him with some of the things I said. For instance, I’m not a ‘one hit wonder’ – this is my 5th, stumbling attempt at a business and the last one in particular had a spectacular speed bump when a vendor decided not to deliver. But one question he posed warrants a decent explanation on this blog – why did I call the blog ‘hawkerize’

A Hawker is a vendor of merchandise that can easily be transported (wikipedia) – in fact one can argue EVERY Entrepeneur is a hawker: a mobile sales engine of varying scale, but in the colloquial south-east Asian context, it is a noble profession of serving cooked food to the masses – a very common sight from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur to Singapore to Jakarta and their sister cities. My entrepreneurial intent could be summarized in the utilitarian nature of the latter trade; its value-add its obvious: The hawker cooks food (a product universally relatable), charges a competitive price and operates on extreme efficiency. Any small business bearing ‘hawker-like’ traits benefits its host society and is consistent with my ethos that a good business model should not take more than 3 words to describe. For instance at networking parties I could sum up my flagship operation (Cheeseshaker) as “I print”. Just like “I’m a butcher” or “I’m a postman”, not “I created this app that helps to aggregate data across…” which has a far more diluted economic effect. The elegant simplicity of hawkerism is that it addresses fundamental niches in economic sphere. Speaking of which, even FOX NEWS (we’re scraping the barrel) has proclaimed patronising Hawker food as number 7 in its “10 things to do in Asia before you die“. And with a small degree of patriotism, the Hawker trade itself is an integral part of the Singaporean national identity.

So why aren’t I a hawker myself? Though my domestic food preparation skills are honed by years of lean living through surviving multiple ‘troughs of sorrow’, I don’t have the expertise to scale it up into a commercial operation. However the core principles I have outlined are paralleled in that I have:

  1. Created jobs

    Our 2013 team as of Chinese new year.

    Our 2013 team as of Chinese new year.

  2. Provide a useful and tangible product / service
Posters and stands

Posters and stands

roll-up banners

roll-up banners

Leaflets and broucheres

Leaflets and broucheres

Business cards

Business cards

  1. Do not ‘game the system’ by consuming much more than my own labour

Hence to ‘hawkerize’ is akin to evangelizing the spirit of a business embodying the positive traits of being a hawker.

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Thanks to the generosity of Marketing firm MUSTARD SEED I went for the preview of The Conjuring tonight at Marina GV. There is a reason why I’m reviewing movies – it is an efficient form of recreation on a dollar to time-engaged ratio. I’ll have a recreation for the struggling entrepreneur piece soon.

Bottom Line: 4/10

Disappointing. Predictable but watchable. Set in the mid 70s, Family of  7 (with no less than 5 girls who are too young to have the obligatory nudity rampant in American horror/slasher) move into an old house, that is haunted. They get scared, experts come in. Cue ghostbusters theme.

Worth the price of entry? – If you are expecting Cabin in the woods calibre props, special effects and monsters, be prepared for sheer budget you-barely-see-it blair witch tomfoolery with inconsistent shaky cam (although not shot in ‘found footage style’ which felt less POV than sloppy camera work.) that caused me some degree of vertigo-esque discomfort. Not much of spoiler, but you get to see a corpse-paint witch, maid with slit wrists, crying mother with more corpse paint and kid-that-appears-in-mirror. Perhaps they hired an out of work femme Deathmetal band and got them to bring in family members. Not that you need much acting skills to play dead people who either stare at you or scream. Cinematographer did good framing and transition work though to carry off a supernatural state of suspense and terror. Too bad he was held back by the cast.

Scary moments were well thought out with deliberate and well crafted sound-scapes (kudos to the original composer)  but not enough to save the movie for the supposed climatic effects that drew some hoots rather than screams from my cohort of reviewers. The religious overtone was also quite dense, with special emphasis brought to bear on the victim family being ‘non-baptised’. The latter contrived commentary could just be a cheap a shot at the Vatican, particularly since the true exorcist never made it to the premises due to bureacracy and Patrick Wilson had to power through a horrifically enunciated Latin exorcism ritual scene with much less conviction than a taxi driver running after the LTA parking attendant mid-bakchormee.

The air of mystery was pierced rather immediately once the paranormal investigators, who while the actors played to a tee, were somewhat of a buzzkill.

Not recommended to watch with clients, but if your spouse is a horror junkie, there might be some value. She better not have a headache later.

Bottom Line: 6 / 10

My honest thought that the movie was a very good commentary on Chinese pugilism in the 21st Century. The writing generated a good film pace and a rather good cast – though Karen Mok and her beautiful mouth (perhaps her only redeeming feature) was given a rather cursory role as an investigating detective, authentically speaking canto while the rest of the cast spoke in Mandarin or English. The even a cameo for Iko Uwais the star of Indonesia’s The Raid: Redemption. The story depicts a Tai chi practitioner who in an amazing bout of innovation decides to invent a spectacular aggressive  permutation of his chosen martial school and gets ultimately corrupted and SURPRISE…. redeems himself.

Of course I went into watching the show with an intense skeptism of Keanu Reeves’ directorial debut as well as him inserting and casting himself as the nefarious Dohaka Mark, a villain (the surprise) who organises underground no-holds-barred voyeuristic fighting matches.

Though Perhaps one could read deeper into the themes, and yes maybe I try too hard but that’s my prerogative on the blog, so bear with me – you get to see protagonist Chen Lin hu become a good allegory for the Chinese as a nation (come on, even the surname is as generic as it gets -Chen = Tan here too, even makes sense in a Singaporean context.)  He does his blue collar delivery job with adequate obeisance (working class hero / working class) in which he dons a bright yellow jacket, while displays a stark dichotomy by talking suavely in martial arts tournaments and swaggers after wins while deviating from the normal gentleness of his style ‘ling kong tai chi’ of which he is the only heir (Entrepreneurial mindset / embryonic innovator) but is chided by his aging Master (authority figure / Cultural conservatism)  whose temple is about to be shut down for safety violations. Keanu, the necessary Caucasian face of western monetary and/or economic intervention runs a shady security company that seduces Lin hu to abandon his ethics in favour of a much higher cashflow (One is tempted to assume America as a coercive force, but let’s use our imagination, shall we?) . We at first see him use the newfound funds to buy home appliances and better food for his parents of which he is typically an only son, but later starts taking greater liberties in both his in-match and out-of-the-ring behaviour until he’s basically Van Damme in real life (ba dum tish). I found a good basis for my interpretation – almost every opponent that he fights has a nationality of a Tier-one chinese city economic competitor – A russian who has his eyes stabbed out, a northern chinese fighter (northern states?) , a Korean in full Tae Kwon Do gi and culminating in a showdown with Iko Uwais’ character of which, oh my, our hero is hesitant to beat up (Indonesia: 3rd largest population in the world, fast growth rate and earnest competitor? Some people might think otherwise)

Rather than go into the full details of the plot, here’s the highlights of why you should probably watch this with a client and make some semi-intelligent conversation using my points and not giving me any credit.

1. Action sequences are worth it because of Yuen Wo Ping‘s choreography – but I personally don’t appreciate the introduction of wire-fu-ness towards the end. It took away from the gristle of realism enforced throughout the whole frontal portion of the film where the fighting was both brutal and believable.

2. Themes are deeper than perceived. Already described in paragraph above. Feel free to liberally expound the faux-depth this fighting movie brings to the table to your candy-crush-preoccupied spouse, I’m sure a client on the other hand will minimally act amused.

3. You get to see Keanu Reeves get his ass handed to him. For me that’s the whole $10 SGD price of the ticket right there. First time he directs and casts himself as a villain and the first time he shoots himself getting whooped. Well, you get 20 seconds of Neo-nostalgia, just no cheesy movement restricting trenchcoat and vision-impairing sunglasses in a brawl.

Mark – away!

Useful resources for online grocery shopping for the busy Entrepeneur

One of most common hard skills an entrepreneur can accrue without much difficulty is cooking. This would greatly reduce basal cash outflow by cutting down on non-client meal costs (well it sucks if you have to entertain ALL the time like in b2b functions) and the greatest way to facilitate this is a simple trip to your local supermarket. But if you, like me, are using a SOHO, I encourage you to do your grocery shopping online. This has apparently kicked in China, where most tier-one city dwellers have resorted to ordering their groceries via the internet to enhance the quality of life through saving time and fighting cashier queues and parking costs. Seeing as how the denizens of Shanghai and Beijing have their love affair with 一号店 / Yi Hao Dian (rather suave move by Walmart to acquire them recently by the way) – I surmised emulating this behavior would set me and my dear readers ahead of the curve. The latter company has seen immense growth, specifically 19,218% over the last 3 years alone. I recommend you take the time to read the interview with founder Gang Yu at Deloitte.

Incidentally, I recently had the privilege to sit through Toby desforges’ talk at a Regus Connect event held in Wisma Regus (yes I’m plugging them because I’m a member as well as a fan of their rather empowering service, but more on this another time) and he spoke about the rising adoption on e-tailing (electronic/online retailing) particularly from e-grocers  – I recommend following his linkedin profile I provided and networking with him; he’s a veritable authority on the retail industry and gave very good insights into how Retail is still the biggest business on earth – validating my involvement with web based POS ‘s3pos’ (Simple Solutions Global: Please support me by liking the page and signing up to the mailing list so I can invite you to the SE Asia launch as soon as the product is finally translated in full)

If you are really into considering an e-grocer business, this PDF is an academic piece on the strategies and challenges of Internet Grocery retailing Logistics (not light reading, but if you are on my blog – you should not be thwarted with a short attention span or a lack of vocabulary anyway)

Finally, I’m done with my ramble, so here’s some great online resources (I’m not associated to any of them, these are only my personal recommendations.)

(more…)

Rather surprised  Artist Nickolay Lamm took the trouble to depict the classic Barbie doll In Real World Measurements. I recommend this as a read:  http://ow.ly/mVQbd – rather good commentary by Andri Antoniades

on an attainable Ideal for impressionable girls attempting to find an physical aspiration. One thing that troubles me is that at this point, we should be seeing more sinocized girl toys (and for that matter media content) instead of the same ‘international’ veneer that a blond american icon should emanate.

Barbie in real life proportions

What am I doing, throwing my irreverent comments onto del toro’s work on Pacific Rim on what is supposedly a blog principally for entrepreneurs? So why not have the elevator pitch version of a review to express my innate compulsion to motivate (or demotivate) would-be viewers whether this morsel of entertainment would offset your personal time value of money?

May I present the very first of  THE PROLIFIC ENTREPRENEUR’S BOTTOM LINE REVIEWS!

Bottom Line: 7 / 10
1. More than enough CG effects to be worth your money as with Man of Steel.

2. More plot holes than jarlsberg cheese –
Spoiler Alert (Scroll away before its too late! Unless you are like me and would rather have precise, explicit plot details pre-show. #Arvin_I_am_your_father)

  1. Tactical nuclear warhead can wipe out an advanced ‘mk 5’ at close range and not a beaten up mk3 with an obvious hull breach from loss of arm.
  2. With such a high level of bioengineering why didnt the damn aliens just invent a plague that self-replicates Kaiju using Earth’s local biomass? Or how about sending 50 at quick succession and focus attacks on key infrastructure (hive mind coordination = superior battle coordination?) – Alien commander Fail; and yes, just STARE at the cause of your demise instead of reacting sensibly.
  3. The infrastructure cost of the ‘wall of life’ would be more manual and inefficient than mechanising the Jaegers using Six Sigma methods. How about a geosynchronous satellite that drops a Kaiju killing payload just above the damn breach. The UN in the story really had a shortage of entrepreneurial minds contributing ideas to solving the monster problem – the only character I can relate to is Ron Perlman‘s 🙂 Now that’s MARKET CREATION

There are more, but I tire. Good distraction for about 2 hours and bring the boys.

The Necessary Exposition

Posted: July 12, 2013 in News
Tags: ,

Quite interestingly, 

I find myself engaging in the verbal wankerage (or wankery, can’t be too sure about the grammatical accuracy of a contrived verb) that is bloggerism (again…) – as with all inaugural entries on a content platform I feel obligated to share the rigmarole that is my present, personal ‘state of the nation’. I used to have a blog in eons past on livejournal, but that was another time with a different brain-chemical mix (read: puberty). I’m just a bilingual, unmarried, 30-something ethnic Chinese Singaporean [For the uninformed- this is in Southeast Asia, take a microscope to the southern end of the Malayan peninsula and here you may find winged men.]

Given my recent sojourn into full time entrepreneurship [靠!Note that the very term is French for ‘he who undertakes’], I am finding myself listless in that leaving behind my full time job of 7 years in NTUC Club has created a rather fascinating shift in my modus operandi; I can now sleep till 11am (or whenever my neighbour’s renovation crew decide to start using their jackhammers at 8.30am) and practically travel at whim; all with a firm sniperesque line-of-sight  to the cashflow situation that has beset me since my last paycheck disintegrated into bills and inefficient hedonism. I have embarked on not one but three separate channels of business: 

  • Cheeseshaker – a printing company with infrastructure principally based in Johor, Malaysia.
  • VX Global – A valiant attempt at Alcohol import and trading turned lifestyle and marketing 
  • Simple Solutions – a representative role of a Vietnamese Web-based POS that I saw great promise in their proliferation into the rural retail sphere

My days are now spent in a systematic process of problem solving until I reach a reactive state and then pro-actively trying to scale up my operations to a certain end… and what end might that be?

My long term objectives, for lack of a crystal ball, are plainly to create a mechanism that would allow me to pursue greater levels of connectivity. Why would this be a long time goal? I always thought that the accumulation of knowledge as a child was tantamount to lasting success, then later this objective swiftly became time in my adolescence and adulthood. We are seemingly in a perpetual marathon, chasing after a finish line that seems nailed to the horizon; embodied in the whole sham ‘you can do XXX after your exams’ – what Tim Ferriss‘ would refer to as the behaviour of  a ‘deferer’.  It is also ironic that in the quest to find more time as a full-time employee, we struggle to find more activity while in the throes of teething a sustainable business. I thoroughly regret that in my secondary and tertiary years I was an experimenter, dabbling in various esoteric pursuits such as the mystic art of Disc jockeying – now rendered meaningless and hollow by the almighty ‘sync button’ on interfaces everywhere alongside similarly redundant bikini clad effigies. I also tried, like every hormonal undergraduate to turn my love of parties into a paltry career: I studied Multimedia in Perth’s Murdoch university and attempted to rally a posse (now called ‘database management’) into a farm-able community: That I could generate leisure events that could satisfy my then lurid lifestyle and financial needs in one fell swoop. But it was for naught. Had I bothered to financially educate myself and learn some serious HARD life skills I would not have spent the best of my 20s, which I now dub ‘the lost decade’ in such lamentable circumstances.

So discarding knowledge (which is ubiquitous now at a mouseclick) and time (which is finite anyway) – I have now decided to focus my faculties on maximizing my health (increasing effective time by lengthening my lifespan) and learning to learn (internalizing a lifelong, open-minded approach to learning as opposed to the meagre accumulation of mere data) – but most of all, the epiphany I had is that a focused lifelong goal is social in nature. I want to know as many people in the context of doing business as humanly possible before my eventual senility. It is statistically improbable that I could become a billionaire, hell, there’s about ten thousand Olympic gold medallists versus 400 billionaires on Forbes – its easier to be the world champion at, say, shot-put, than it is to accumulate a billion USD. And to what end? Creation of a dynastic wealth does sound superficially appealing in that my bloodline would be ‘set for life’ but would I be able to change the world? In fact based on the rates of fixed deposit account in ANZ bank western Australia, I only really need 1.3M to kickstart the unproductive lifestyle of unearned income to the tune of say 50k annually, eliminating the need to contribute work…. ever. I will speak of the toxicity and evil of passive income in a forthcoming entry. Onward.

Just to re-emphasize how unlikely it is to be a Billionaire (aside from reading aloud the entirety of Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers) – your net worth has to multiply not by lineal progression but by exponential growth – meaning that at some stage an aspiring billionaire has to delegate (the prerequisite of any given complex system) via hiring, replicating (franchising perhaps?) and accelerate each year. I recently had the joy of reading Blueprint to a billion by David Thompson – heads up, its available in your local library – that purports that billion dollar mark companies and their respective IPOs follow a Darwinistic set of common principals, and yet I sometimes always believed in cults of personality ala Steve Jobs that are the necessary radical force that drives such engines of success. Gladwell’s argument is the success of billionaires as statistical outliers is largely environmental as well as a conspiracy of savants with 10,000 hours of practise in their relevant field. So looking at the latter I’ve taken a page from his book in that I will get 10,000 hours of training in NETWORKING and hence mastery of the art of social connection in business.

So that is my purpose, my destiny, my grail and my Golgotha – I cannot be the MOST connected entrepreneur in the world, it is nigh improbable. But I can be the most connected SOUTH-EAST ASIAN Entrepreneur. And I’m going to get there step by step by sharing segments of my life via this grotesque window into my brain. 

Promotion on business documents (Cheeseshaker)

Feed a starving entrepeneur by enjoying savings on Business documents (What a way to debut on this blog) – My printing company is launching a promotion for books/pads for receipts and invoices this month with a offer of 10 free items with a minimum purchase of 10 units.