Sunday, 27 November 2011

Flaming Brothers

“We must love one another, yes, yes, that's all true enough, but nothing says we have to like each other. It may be the very recognition of all men as our brothers that accounts for the sibling rivalry, and even enmity, we have toward so many of them.”- Peter De Vries . 

The story of Cain and Abel tells of one brother's jealousy after God appeared to favour his sibling, and the jealousy ultimately leads to murder.

Though they are unlikely to enjoy the comparison with Adam and Eve's offspring, they can take comfort from being by no means the first, and certainly not the last.
In 1952, there is small Bavarian town of Herzogenaurach, the town also being nickname as "the town of bent necks", because townsfolk would not strike a conversation with a stranger until they had first looked down at the shoes that person was wearing.
Here only the bravest dared to wear their Puma shoes and cross the river to the adidas side of town. It was a town split into footwear factions. Townsfolk were marked as adidas or Puma people.

The town was really split in two like a sort of mini-Berlin with this little river as a partition in the middle.

The enmity can be traced to a spat in the 1940s between two local shoemakers - Brothers Adolf and Rudolf Dassler - who fell out and set up rival companies, adidas and Puma, on either side of the town's river.

Initially the brothers had worked well together, despite their differences.

The pair had made shoes together in the 1920s in their mother's kitchen, trading as Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory. They complemented each other very well to begin with. Adi Dassler was always more thoughtful, a craftsman who enjoyed nothing more than fiddling with his shoes. Whereas Rudolf Dassler was a more abrasive, loudmouthed salesman.

But as their business took off, the two brothers grew increasingly frustrated with each other. They disagreed on everything from politics, the future of the company and one another's choice in wives.

It didn't come to blows between brothers Adi and Rudolf Dassler who in happier days spent their summer holidays patching shoes. A beautiful brotherly business partnership might have blossomed until they found they couldn't reconcile political differences stemming from the Second World War.

At the beginning of the war Rudolf and Adolf Dassler had such an argument that they never spoke to each other again. 

Rudolf left to set up Puma, and Adolf renamed the company adidas. They disbanded their 25-year-old company which had made shoes for legendary athlete, and formed rival manufacturers on opposite sides of the river Aurach, which runs through the centre of Herzogenaurach. And here the headquarters of these two giants remain today, barely a couple of miles apart.

The brothers never reconciled, or even spoke to each other again. As for Herzogenaurach--it split down the middle. Adidas and Puma were the biggest employers around and everyone was loyal to one brother or the other. It was so bad that it even split the town apart. People were loyal either to Rudolf or to Adolf.

The split spawned decades of fierce business rivalry, split a town in two, and led to the establishment of two of the best-recognised sporting brands in the world

Rudi succumbed to lung cancer in 1974, leaving Puma to his son. The family sold the company in 1989. Adi died in 1978, and his son took over Adidas till his death in 1987. Even now in the cemetery, one lies one side and the other right the opposite side.
But now, after more than 60 years of enmity, Puma and adidas have chosen to call a truce.

Tensions between the two firms appeared to have eased in recent years, with neither company in the hands of the founding families any longer.

Adidas and Puma may be among the most recognized brands in the world, but neither might exist if not for a bitter rivalry between two brothers from a little-known village in Germany. It is an interesting lesson is that you need great enemies. I don't think either company would be where it is today if it hadn't been stimulated by the rivalry with the other.

Note:- I was only figthing with my sibling to conquer the TV it was a great war

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Office Space and Balance.

 According to a global survey by Regus, Malaysians are not only clocking more hours at work but bringing their office load back home as well.

I can already see many of you, especially my friends working in Accounting Department nodding your heads in agreement.

Regus is the world’s largest provider of workplace solutions so it obviously has the credentials to carry out the survey which involved some 12,000 business people in 85 countries.

The findings of interest to us – 47% of Malaysian workers take tasks home to finish at the end of the day for more than three times a week, compared to 43% globally; 15% regularly work for more than 11 hours a day, compared with 10% globally

According to William Willems, regional vice-president for Regus Australia, New Zealand and South-East Asia, says the study found Malaysian has “a clear blurring” of the line separating work and home.

The long-term effects of such over-work could be damaging to both workers’ health and overall productivity. In his views, employee may drive themselves too hard and become disaffected, depressed and even physically ill.

Sounds rather ominous but I doubt if anyone is going to lobby the Government for policy changes so that people don’t work so hard.

After all, many are fighting asking the retirement age in the private sector raise to 60, the same as that in the Government sector.

The Regus report should be seen in the perspective of an Australian and prove how different country work culture view work because of different circumstances.

Work Life Balance is very important to Australian; they believe that achieving a balance between work and family responsibilities has benefits for the whole community. That why if you ever travel to Australia you will notice that business closed by 6.00 p.m. so they can spent more time with family.

In 1990 International Labour organisation (ILO) Convention on Workers with Family Responsibilities, Australia government has pledge a commitment to providing a climate in which workers with family responsibilities have the right to work without discrimination and with consideration given to their family responsibilities in the workplace.

I still cannot resist telling my Australian friends that I started on a salary of RM1800 and had to work, for many years, on the graveyard shift in Malaysia. Although I feel they need to experience pain before pleasure and appreciate the value of hard work, it often does not come across like that from their perspective.

I also work from home.  When I went back to my hometown especially on Raya, I took my work with me. In this age of the Blackberry and Internet, it is not impossible to work from one’s home. I am fully using the whole plethora of IT tools, including SMS, email and video chat. If my manager desires a report, I could easily email the files to any printer in the world.

Advances in technology, which allow the workforce to stay connected without being together physically, may, in some industries, make even the standard 9 to 5 routine in the office outdated.

Currently, I am working as an Accountant in an Australian multinational that reminded me that no one is allowed to work beyond office hours unless a written request is submitted. It is not more than 12hours per day.

Office hours were very strict. If you wanted to stay back after 5pm, you had to make a request in writing. No one ever does that because in the management’s eyes, anyone who had to stay back is either not doing his work well or plain inefficient.

When my Australian’s mate asked me why I worked long hours and bring home my works, I laughed and simply said that I am so use to Malaysian work style.

But in Malaysia, we head to work before the sun rises and reach home after the sun sets. Surely, that cannot do any good to the quality of life index, no matter how much one is paid.

Willems said businesses that enabled employees to work from locations closer to home and manage their time more independently could offset the stress of a poor work-life balance.

I am glad that we are beginning to see many enlightened bosses who value a proper work-life balance for their workers but they are still in the minority.

Recently, Malaysian government conducted a test pilot for employee to work from home for three months .Starting that the work-from-home concept is workable if employees have the integrity to do the work at home as well as it would have been done in the office.

Yet, in reality, working from home is not something embraced by most employers. Somehow, there is the fear that employees cannot be trusted if they are not physically around.

The result is we end up with many employees, not necessarily the most productive ones, hanging around the office way after official working hours, when they could be at home enjoying family time.

It is about integrity, the point is that employers must start to trust their employees more and not just let those who will shirk or shortchange them determine the policy of the company.

The work-from-home concept should be encouraged in both the public and private sectors.

Again to my fellow accountant in Malaysia who stuck at work between 8pm and 3am in lieu of month-end – who’ve had to forcibly forego dinner, quality time with their family and friends, a favorite TV show, just so those books are closed to perfection- That is our life and our curse.

Note:-  I am still a "Malaysian" Accountant working in Australia environment

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Slumdog Millionaire

Real life Slumdog millionaire: Sushil (left) says thank you with clasped hands as he receives his US$1mil prize from Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan during the fifth season of the Indian version of the Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Television quiz in Mumbai on Oct 25. Kumar, a computer operator who earns just US$130 a month, has become the first person to win the top prize. — AFP
I remember when I started working; the ultimate dream was to earn a five-figure salary. For most of us, however, being a millionaire is really out of the question unless we strike the lottery or take part in Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? And win the top prize

What would you do if you have a million bucks? A poor government clerk from Bihar, a remote and poverty-stricken region of northern India, has become the first person to win 50 million rupees (RM3mil) on the popular Indian version of the game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

Sushil Kumar’s win is a classic case of life imitating art as the script is similar to that of the 2008 Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire.

According to the Associated Press, Sushil said he would spend some of his prize money to prepare for India’s tough civil service examination, which could lead to a secure and prestigious lifetime job.

He would also buy a new home for his wife, pay off his parents’ debts, give his brothers cash to set up small businesses and build a library in Motihari so the children of his village would have access to books and knowledge.

Everyone loves a story like this. Although people can become instant millionaires by striking the lottery or pulling the lever on a one-armed bandit at a casino, using one’s talent at a tension-filled game show is more admirable.

And I applaud Sushil for his noble attitude in thinking of others to share in his newfound fortune. Bihar is one of the poorest states of India and its remoter areas, such as Motihari, have been largely untouched by India’s phenomenal recent economic growth.

In 1991, 24 year-old Malaysian laid became instant millionaire when he won the grand prize of RM1 million in a quiz show in a local version of “Wheel of Fortune”. Up till now, Ahmad Samerin Dzulkifli remains the country's only game show millionaire. Currently, he still owns the bicycle-repair shop but has added an electrical appliance shop and several other businesses. But he remains elusive and publicity-shy, preferring to live a normal life.

Do you know that there are now at least 39,000 millionaires in Malaysia? According to a recent report by the Credit Suisse Group, 19,000 new millionaires were created over the past 18 months alone.

Meanwhile, the Asia-Pacific Wealth Report 2011 by Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management and Capgemini, also released recently, revealed that Malaysia’s rich prefer splurging on a fancy new set of wheels, luxurious yachts or private jets.

Last year, Billionaire Bill Gates and Warren Buffett meet with a group of billionaires from US, China and India in a private gathering. It was a great chance for the billionaires to meet each other, compare notes, eat and laugh.

What do billionaires talk about when they get together? Their topic this time was of course money; not how to make it, but how to give it away.

The one thing in common for these ultra-rich philanthropists is that they belong to the special club of people who had pledged to give away at least half of their wealth under the Giving Pledge initiated by Buffett and Gates.

And it is good that other rich people around the world, embracing this concept of giving away part of one’s wealth to address the world’s many problems.

An elderly couple in Nova Scotia made world headlines in 2010 when they gave away nearly all the US$11mil (RM33mil) they won in a lottery. Allen and Violet Large, aged 75 and 78, only kept aside 2% of the winnings for a rainy day. The rest went to a number of local organisations, charities, hospitals and churches.

It is easy to say, when we don’t have the millions, that we can be like Violet and Allen. I suspect, however, that if we get our hands on say, RM1mil, many of us will struggle to let go of even a single sen.

Back to the dream, I was wondering to myself, what would I do if I suddenly had a million ringgit in hand? I suppose our wishes would coincide very much with our age, status, and ultimately our character.

To those who believe material pursuits equate to real happiness, a shopping spree would be fantastic. Those who do not focus too much on material things may want to travel around the world and complete their Bucket List.

Note:- I just  wish I don't have to work and live life lazy...

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Accountant from Venice (Happy Accountant's Day)


To all those fun and crazy people who are good with figures I wish “Happy International Accountant’s Day”

I was sitting in my cubicle today, and I realized, I have the utmost respect, admiration and appreciation for accountants. I have also been one for years in the financial services sector.

Here are a few facts about the noble accountant that you might not know. 

Famous accountants include novelist John Grisham (also a lawyer), much maligned elevator music sax player Kenny G (accounting grad who finished in the top 2 per cent of his university year), as well as the actual “father of accounting” Luca Pacioli. 

Okay, you might not know Luca Pacioli. He is the reason November 10 is designated as International Accountant’s Day. It marks the day his book Summa de Arithmetica, Geometria, Proportioni et Proportionalita or Everything About Arithmetic, Geometry and Proportion was published in Venice in 1494. The tome provides a detailed description of Venetian book-keeping, an explanation of the accounting cycle used today, how to use journals and ledgers, tips on accounting ethics and sage advice such as not to go to sleep at night until the debits equalled the credits.

He didn’t invent the accounting system but described the system the actual merchants of Venice used during the Italian Renaissance and rest is history. 

Traditionally, accountants were seen as business and audit specialist who only duty is to keep records of things happen in the past. People see accountants then as stale people who routinely carry out function-record keeping and doing report during month end.

Accountant and other financial professional have to agree that accounting is now more of contingent process then repetitive process. This is however disputed by some group of accountant who still see accounting as a routine process that only involve crunching numbers. I have once worked under the supervision of one such “old fashioned accountants” before and must tell you that is not very easy convincing them of them the changes that taken place in accounting field as a whole.

Accountants nowadays are facing tremendous challenge and pressure in efforts to build a credible, reputable and globally competitive capital market. The challenges include enhancing transparency, governance and accountability; harmonisation and coping with diverse information needs; and moving up the value-added ladder.

It takes hard work and dedication to become a qualified accountant. With business being more complicated and financial system getting more complex have constantly place more challenges in the hand of accountants and other finance professionals that only those with lion heart can manage to handle the situation and the problem that comes with it.

To be relevant as an accountant today and the future, we need to be comfortable with the use of; computers, accounting software’s, information gathering and analysing tools.  We also need to have a broad knowledge of business and economy around the world. Accountant must act as an information analyst that can act as “a profit centre” rather than just keeping the financial history. 

So for all those accountants stuck at work between 8pm and 3am in lieu of month-end – who’ve had to forcibly forego dinner, quality time with their family and friends, a favourite TV show, just so those books are closed to perfection – I sincerely salute you

Anyway, on this special day do something nice for your colleagues in the accounting department. They have scarify a lot to make sure the company not going to chapter 11 soon.

Note:- I am an Accountant from Worsley :)

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Don't let schooling interfere with your education

 This animate was adapted from a talk given at the RSA by Sir Ken Robinson about the origins of our current school system. He claims today’s system is largely modeled after the Prussian educational system in the mid-1800s. In the U.S., the Prussian system was advocated and financed by industrial power giants. They viewed individuals in a population as essentially cogs in a wheel; individuals were described as “raw materials” that needed to be “processed” in order to fit the demands of the current economy

The debate over the Teaching of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI) seem to be the current polemic issue in Malaysia. The real victims are our young generation, whose voices are not heard. Those who speak on their behalf, from either side, must understand that there are long-term consequences when policy changes are made at this level, more so in the field of education.

At a very early age in our development, many of us are expected to go into educational institutions that prepare us for the real world. In theory, we should prepare young individuals with the life skills they will need to be successful as they reach adulthood. Subjects like science, math, English, and history can be seen as fundamental components to a well-rounded individual – and crucial for social progress into the future.

An adult that doesn’t understand basic math or English will likely suffer due to their lack of knowledge. They will have a hard time adapting to a world that expects you to be able to work and communicate in English.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that the educational institutions we have now are the only (let alone the most desirable) way to teach children these fundamental skills. In fact, our educational system today seems to come with many drawbacks and unhealthy assumptions regarding how to properly educate children.

I’ve been critical of today’s schools ever since I’ve been a part of them. It’s not because I’m bitter for getting poor grades (actually, I was mostly a straight A student). I was technically “smart,” in the sense that I knew how to perform well on tests, but that’s not all there is to a good education.

I also don’t think that my dislike of school is due to my specific circumstances. By all measures, my peers and I were quite “privileged” to attend the schools that we did. Yet, the system still seemed ridden with problems and short-comings that I believe have led to some long-term struggles for me. I imagine these problems are equally represented in other schools around the country (or even around the world).

While I could probably write a book elaborating on some of these things that I believe ruin our current schooling system, I’m going to narrow my focus to 3 main points that I think are fairly universal among most schools. Some of these will likely resonate with your own experiences. Others may not.

This is one of the most common critiques I see regarding schools, and rightfully so. There is a world of difference between knowing how to regurgitate facts on a multiple choice or “fill-in-the-blank” test compared to actually understanding the material you are learning. In school, we are taught that an “A” is the highest level of achievement. And so long as you know how to memorize the right things and take a test, then you are presumably “intelligent.” 

When we teach our students how to be more focused on grades, rather than the love for knowledge, we set ourselves up for an intellectually lazy generation. One that is content on mediocrity and “getting by,” rather than developing a true sense of wonder and curiosity.

So many people I know bullshitted their way through school. They learned all the tricks on how to perform well on homework and tests without ever really putting in any planning or effort. For example, in English class, I used spark notes the night before I had to write an essay way more than I ever read the books we were supposed to read. And grade-wise, I did just fine. For most tests, I could usually cram some memorization in the night of and pass with flying colors. By the time the test was over, I forgot everything I “learned,” and got prepared to bullshit for the next chapter.  Maybe I was “smart”; maybe the classes were just too easy.

As I mentioned in the introduction, I was a very good student on paper. Teaches usually liked me because I didn’t cause problem, I didn’t question what they said, and I was very obedient and complacent to what they demanded from me. Even when we were told to write persuasive essays, I usually argued in favor of something that I knew the teacher would approve of (even though in my head I wanted to rebel against these social norms). My few experiences trying to deviate from what was expected usually back-fired on my report cards. I remember one time writing an essay about why video games were good for children, I remember my grade being significantly deflated compared to the times where I argued in accordance to my teacher’s values.

These troubles were especially prevalent throughout my history classes (which were by far my least favorite subjects). As a teacher, you cannot teach history without presenting the information from some kind of point-of-view. The best history teachers are the ones who try to cover issues from a variety of different perspectives, but often times your history teacher is personally biased to present information in a certain way. Critical thinking often becomes diminished for the sake of being a “good student.” To add to the fire, these classes are usually our first taste of politics, so we become molded into a certain way of thinking before ever having the ability to form our own beliefs.

Often we aren’t just learning Malay or history – we are implicitly being taught how to conform to the teacher’s worldview, beliefs, values, and personal philosophy. Parents may think they are sending students to school to learn fundamental and universal skills, but often children walk out with a cleverly molded view of reality. (This of course is also true in parenting and other early experiences throughout a child’s life, but the point still stands strong, and schooling is one of the biggest culprits).

That’s one problem you’re going to have when you try to standardize the curriculum to fit hundreds of individual’s varying needs.

At the very least, the current education system diminishes our potential to evolve and grow, both as individuals and as a society. As individuals – our talents, skills, interests and values are placed as secondary importance. As a society – we lose out on a lot of creative and innovative thinking that could otherwise improve social progress.

The big point I want to make here is that there are some obvious drawbacks and limitations that come with our current schooling, which unfortunately we don’t seem to have many viable alternatives for.

In general, I think the attitude towards learning that is propagated in many schools today runs at the antithesis to a proper education. Curriculum has been standardized to the point where it only appeals to the lowest common denominator of people. Meanwhile, most individuals, especially ones with passions, skills, and talents, usually have their strengths minimized for the sake of conformity and easy management. As a result, I really feel we all suffer.

Note: My primary school and secondary school has been the best times of my lives.