Wednesday, April 27, 2011

2nd time is a charm

I’m back from Guangzhou, China.
Am drop dead tired.
What an experience. To experience the world. To understand it. To explain it. To help it a little. To write :)

the interlace

Prince Harry: The Nation's Best Man :)
Another 2 more days to go to celebrate the first key royal wedding of the 21st century :)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

time shallows up even the legends

10th Sarawak State Election - This may be the most important election in Sarawak history ever. Finally, in the end – Barisan Nasional 55 : 16 Opposition. After an intense 10 days of campaigning to capture the 71 state assembly seats that are made available, the Barisan Nasional sweeps to power with two-thirds majority again…but…the opposition parties especially the DAP still manage to make some inroads as well…the DAP have stamped its mark by nearly wiping out SUPP (the state’s second biggest party which is equivalent to MCA in peninsular Malaysia which looks after the Chinese community) in urban Chinese majority seats and doubling its tally to 12 out of the 15 seats contested in Miri, Sibu and Kuching. The Chinese in Sarawak have made themselves heard loud & clear. I salute them for their courage. It’s good that we no longer have the immigrant mind set where we always play safe, remain silent, don’t want to cause so much problems because our ancestors was not originally from this land. Today, we are Malaysians…regardless of our race, we need to raise our concerns and the government is obliged to provide the solutions for the rakyat. I don’t care whether the Prime Minister is male or female…Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan, Iban etc…straight or not so straight…have been around for ages or just recently onboard…I personally don’t think it matters as long as the job’s done. It could be a super computer for all I care. As long as that individual is willing to change according to time and willing to adapt. Again, as I have always emphasize…a government's role is to provide sufficient employment with salaries that matches the current inflation rate, free education, affordable medical & free immunization programs, food security, sustainable & environmental-friendly development, energy & natural resources conservation and homeland security. That should be the government’s prime objectives.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Tale Of Two Cities

Juan Carlos brought me out for lunch at Ben & Nick’s Diner on last week Friday. Private lunch with private conversations :) Juan Carlos has been on board since February but until now, Juan Carlos still refuses to confirm on the department's official organization structure. Since I have nothing to lose, me being me…I was upfront and transparent. I was firm and strict. Don’t judge me! I’m a control freak and there is always the need for me to have a say in everything. Yes, I always need to be the one holding the steering wheel. I am who I am because of the different experiences that I have had in my life :)

Well, at the company Group Level, the Furniture Department goes hand in hand with the Bedding Department; understood because both of the categories complement each other…however, it also means that I will be park under Felix or hand over the Furniture portfolio to Felix. Don’t get me wrong. Overall, Felix is a nice gentleman. I have been under Felix & Snow Petrol for a couple of months and they are indeed good people. But what I don't like about Felix is that Felix do not give me the opportunity to do things my way. Everything must be done according to the Felix's way. I am not saying that my way is right (i could be wrong as well) but being a Category Manager, I believe that I have the ability & capability to manage my portfolio to meet the company's objectives. I should have a certain level of freedom, creativity, accountability and responsibility. The Group Division Manager's role is to guide, help to solve problems that I can't solve and to bring me back on track if I ever go off track. But, with Felix is all about following instructions. Therefore, there is no fun working with Felix. There is no need to have a buyer under Felix, having a clerk will do. With Celtic is a bit different, even though Celtic knows that my way is wrong and the idea sucks, Celtic still let me try, with the possibility that maybe I can actually make the wrong right and I get to learn throughout the entire process, so I will do better in the future. Actually, Felix is also a Yes Man…Felix pleases the bosses. To please Juan Carlos, Felix actually manipulates the figures. Tin Min can be my witness for this. Right now, all of the Division Managers are trying their very best to please Juan Carlos as much as possible because they want to be in Juan Carlos’s good books. And of course, since all of them is giving in, Juan Carlos just receive them gladly. I; on the other hand…do not have the colonial mind set. If I can do it, I will do it. If I cannot do it, I say cannot. I don’t overdo it and over promise things. I don’t fear authority. And I certainly don’t bastardise people. A lot of people are very jealous of D31 right now because it’s going to be Juan Carlos’s number 1 priority and D31 will get the best in everything. So, there are many teasing, many insults, many gossips and many unpleasant words that is going around.

So, I told Juan Carlos; if you want me to hand over the category to Felix, you better do it right now. So I can start to concentrate on my new portfolio, please don’t waste my time. And on the other hand, I will be very upset & angry as well…I have been laboring very hard since January this year, I have put in a lot of effort in developing the new furniture collections & pushing up my department sales & margin…currently, my department is one of the department in the division that is positive YTD LFL...and by asking me to give it all away right now, by giving all of my ideas to Felix (whether Felix follows through with my ideas or not is another issue)…I will be very pissed off…first, I don’t get to enjoy the fruits of my hard labor and secondly, Felix will be getting all of the credit for my hard work. Whether my ideas work or not is another question. Felix will be the lucky chap. I have built the foundation, solve all of the pending problems, cleaning up all the shits and Felix just receive them so easily; a hassles-free category…no way. Yes, I am that selfish. I was blunt all right.

But to my surprise, Juan Carlos took it rather well. As a matter of fact, Juan Carlos allows me to continue my project till the end and wants to promote me to Division Manager! :) Thank you GOD, Praise to the LORD, Bless you GOD – but I decline it. Yeah, Juan Carlos is also very baffled as to why I keep on rejecting his offers…other people would have said yes on the spot. I am thankful with GOD’s continuous blessings, giving me such an opportunity…but it doesn't give me a big head or anything. So in my heart, I will always be grateful & humble. And thank you GOD for the good comments that Madam Chappron, Madam Chenut, Karan & Rufus have put in for me. According to Stewart, the reasons why Juan Carlos have been viewing me differently is because I have been very consistent in my work, I am open to new ideas, I can accept new changes and I am more responsive. And in certain ways, I am even more mature compare to my Division Manager; Celtic. Well, Celtic have been behaving very inappropriately lately for someone in such a position which leads to Juan Carlos commenting that Celtic is not ready nor fit for the post yet. Juan Carlos thinks that I have the potential to grow even further.

The reason why I reject Juan Carlos offer is simply because I am not ready yet for such a big & important position. I know what my strengths are and where are my weaknesses. I am a person who has a very high level f self-awareness. I am a people person. I am not a tough negotiator, I am not good with numbers. As a matter of fact, I hate negotiating. I do not have a very good business sense as well. But what still keeps me glue to this job is my love for developing new product categories, planning events, organizing trade marketing...that’s me. I’m into advertising, branding, communication, media. Juan Carlos wants me to take up D32 & D33...again I am flatter...but I’m still in the learning stages in my very own portfolio and I also don’t have a proper full team as well. The Stationary Buyer, Edward & Lexie are still fresh. Taking over the departments right now, it will mean that I will be in the lion’s den because I still have to do the operational things all by myself and I will not have the time to do the strategy work as I still can’t let the 3 freshie to run the things independently because they are still raw.

In the end, as a conclusion - Juan Carlos will give me 6 months probation period and see how well I performed. Nobody in the team knows about this secret agreement except for Stewart; which I have consulted. Well, my life is still the same, nothing have been changed...I still behave the chances are 50-50. I could succeed...or I could even fail. Yingze will continue to work with Passion, Commitment, Courage, Honesty & Loyalty. But I know that for the next 6 months, I need to carry myself well and I need to grow up fast. I am not doing this for the company, but doing it for myself. Being thrown into the deepest darkest waters isn’t always a bad thing. There is an opportunity to survive through it all and become a hero. All I have to do is keep on moving, learning, and giving.

The Faraway Tree Collection

Work Tales - Life has been quite stressful and hectic for me these last few weeks. I have zillions of emails to respond to, tasks are piling up and my to-do list is just impossible!!! The 2011 Contract Season is here. It's been hard. Very hard. I really don’t know how to generate positive growth (double-digit) for this year negotiation. I don’t want to point fingers, I am sure Patrick have to do what he have to do at that time. The pressure that Iron Butterfly and Rufus have put on Patrick; I am sure it has been overwhelming on him at that point of time. If I were in Patrick’s shoes...I would probably do the same thing as well. It’s always easy to say just ignore the pressure but it’s actually very hard to actually to do it when the time comes. The market share for the furniture business is already so small and yet my predecessors decided to split them up and have 4 main players instead of the big 2. Letting in the 2 late entrants suppliers who contribute the least in terms of RBB and yet giving them to handle the most fast-moving sku business while the 2 original suppliers who pay the most money, only get a small pie of the share. It’s not fair. It’s not even on the same level of playing field. Putting aside the 2 big manufacturers in Malaysia and giving away the big business to a small manufacturer and a trading company does not make any business sense to me at all. I don’t understand where the logic is...asking the 2 big suppliers to pay for so much but in return such a small business that they are getting back from us. I guess everyone have their own reasons for what they do. And I don’t want to understand. All I know right now, is that the 4 contracts is out of balance and I am having a very difficult time to make things right. The 2 big suppliers wants a reduction in their contract for this year while the 2 small time players refuse to give more. am I going to convince, influence and persuade the 2 big suppliers to at least to maintain their A & P fund as per last year and to increase the budget for the other 2? Another big problem that I am facing is with the consignment suppliers who just refuse to increase their entry margin & back margin. So, no matter how good my outright business are, my overall commercial margin will be affected because these consignment suppliers value is too big. The more I do with them, the less profits I earned. And I cannot get rid of them either. I cannot buy sofas, bedroom set, mattresses on an outright basis because this will shoot up my store's stock days & stock value. Plus, my stores do not have sufficient storage place to keep these items. I cannot stop selling these items as well because they generate volume and they are big sales value to the department. And I cannot replace them with my outright goods because the outright value is too small and the company financial policy is to compare the sales LFL (lite for lite). My store team would rather push the sales of a sofa that cost RM1990 than selling 100 units of a RM19.90 folding chair. I agree with Juan Carlos that we should run our business on an outright basis, we should not let consignment suppliers to decide on our business. Again, my predecessors have run the furniture business in such a way: Outright 60%, Consignment 40%. Out of balance again. So, how am I going to at least to maintain the sales figures as per last year while reducing the outright vs consignment ratio? I'm just trying to get through this negotiation process as gracefully as possible without any drama :)

The Hitch Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy

I think I have recovered from my writer's block :) I didn’t do anything though. So, let’s give it a go. I’m big on blogs. There are several good blogs out there which I frequently visit. I find other people’s lives very fascinating. For me, it’s a way to see the rest of the world through someone else’s eyes (or lens). If I just looked at things in life based on what’s in front of me, I think I would be a frog in a well. Through these blogs, I get to experience a different kind of lifestyle & roles that an individual takes on in the society…see places that I’ve never been to…learn new skills…marvel at the things that other people can do that I can’t…soak myself up with new knowledge & culture…learn how to handle the daily obstacles & the pressures in life…and how to strike a balance & to remember to celebrate life always…the world suddenly becomes a much bigger and a more beautiful place. Even if it’s in the same place, at the same time, someone’s perspective could still be very different from yours. And it’s always worth a look :)

The Magic Man

I am having writer’s block. I have so many stories to tell (both good & bad, happy & sad), I have so many new pictures to share on my work, my personality, my quirks, my interests, my talents, my style. I love the process of story-telling, sharing bits of my life in an entertaining way and creating an experience with words and pictures. I love the fact that this site is mine and I can control everything about it - from how it looks like, to what I have to say. And I like to re-read them once in a while to jog my memory on the past experiences that have shape who I am today. But for the past few weeks, I can’t even string the words together to create a proper sentence. It’s frustrating. I feel like I’m motivated to do something to help myself to recover from this writer's block but I don’t know how and what :(

Sunday, April 10, 2011

the egg story

My favorite song of the month:

I’m coming home
I’m coming home
Tell the World I’m coming home
Let the rain wash away all the pain of yesterday
I know my kingdom awaits and they’ve forgiven my mistakes
I’m coming home, I’m coming home
Tell the World that I’m coming

Back where I belong, yeah I never felt so strong
(I’m back baby)
I feel like there’s nothing that I can’t try
And if you with me put your hands high
(put your hands high)
If you ever lost a light before, this ones for you
And you, the dreams are for you

I hear “The Tears of a Clown”
I hate that song
I feel like they talking to me when it comes on
Another day another Dawn
Another Keisha, nice to meet ya, get the math I’m gone
What am I ‘posed to do when the club lights come on
Its easy to be Puff, its harder to be Sean
What if the twins ask why I aint marry their mom (why, damn!)
How do I respond?
What if my son stares with a face like my own
And says he wants to be like me when he’s grown
Shit! But I aint finished growing
Another night the inevitable prolongs
Another day another Dawn
Just tell Taneka and Taresha I’ll be better in the morn’
Another lie that I carry on
I need to get back to the place I belong

[Dirty Money - Chorus]
I’m coming home
I’m coming home
Tell the World I’m coming home
Let the rain wash away all the pain of yesterday
I know my kingdom awaits and they’ve forgiven my mistakes
I’m coming home, I’m coming home
Tell the World that I’m coming

[Diddy - Verse 2]
“A house is Not a Home”, I hate this song
Is a house really a home when your loved ones are gone
And n-ggas got the nerve to blame you for it
And you know you woulda took the bullet if you saw it
But you felt it and still feel it
And money can’t make up for it or conceal it
But you deal with it and you keep ballin’
Pour out some liquor, play ball and we keep ballin’
Baby we’ve been living in sin ’cause we’ve been really in love
But we’ve been living as friends
So you’ve been a guest in your own home
It’s time to make your house your home
Pick up your phone, come on

[Dirty Money - Chorus]
I’m coming home
I’m coming home
Tell the World I’m coming home
Let the rain wash away all the pain of yesterday
I know my kingdom awaits and they’ve forgiven my mistakes
I’m coming home, I’m coming home
Tell the World that I’m coming

[Diddy - Verse 3]
“Ain’t No Stopping Us Now”, I love that song
Whenever it comes on it makes me feel strong
I thought I told y’all that we won’t stop
We back cruising through Harlem, Viso blocks
It’s what made me, saved me, drove me crazy
Drove me away than embraced me
Forgave me for all of my shortcomings
Welcome to my homecoming
Yeah it’s been a long time coming
Lot of fights, lot of scars, lot of bottles
Lot of cars, lot of ups, lot of downs
Made it back, lost my dog (I miss you BIG)
And here I stand, a better man! (a better man)
Thank you Lord (Thank you Lord)

[Dirty Money - Chorus]
I’m coming home
I’m coming home
Tell the World I’m coming home
Let the rain wash away all the pain of yesterday
I know my kingdom awaits and they’ve forgiven my mistakes
I’m coming home, I’m coming home
Tell the World that I’m coming

-Coming Home: Diddy Dirty Money Featuring Skylar Grey-

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Rainbow Nation

When Juan Carlos extended the invitation to me…I said YES and nodded my head. This time I am ready. It’s my turn to be on the swing and fly to reach for the stars. I am ready to participate in a much smaller regional sourcing trip like Yiwu…and hopefully in the future, I will get the chance to go for international sourcing trip to France which I rejected earlier last month :) I hopped on the plane with Juan Carlos, Rufus & Edward. And then, our Yiwu adventure begins :)

Yiwu is famous for its small commodity trade and vibrant free markets and is a regional tourist destination. It is more well known as China's number one producer of fashion jewelry. It is the largest market of petty commodity wholesales in the world where various foreign buyers go to place orders. Yiwu is located 100km south of the city of Hangzhou (a 2 hours car ride), and is famous in China as a commodities center. The city has for 6 consecutive years topped China's 100 top open markets and was for successive years listed as China's civilized open market. It has been named as the banner of China's market economy and with a large variety of quality but cheaper commodities, the market has become a shopping paradise for tourists. The event and exhibition hall was even bigger than the MIFF event which I attended last month at PWTC. It was such an eye-opener for me. As it was a petty general merchandise commodity trade event – we source a lot for stocklot items and came up with many themes for our future Trade Marketing Fair (it's our secret weapon) – What’s New, Flat Price, Stainless Steel Fair, Outdoor Fair etc. So excited for these themes and our planned hit & run strategies. It will surely knock off our competitors. We are back in the business :)

The Chinese are very rich in material, they have luxury infrastructure, they have expensive buildings, they eat lavishly, they dressed in branded clothes and they drive in classy cars. In Yiwu city, everyone drives either a BMW or Audi. Their BMWs consumption are like our local Proton & Myvi cars here. They are cheap & everywhere. I say that this is all the Malaysian government fault for imposing such high taxes on us, which prevent us from buying luxury cars at a lower rate. This is because we need to protect out Proton & Perodua who is incapable to compete at the global market. If Yiwu people are living so richly…so just imagine the Chinese who lives in Shanghai or Beijing where the standard of living there is even more higher. But one thing that turns me off is their mentality & attitude. They still spit everywhere, they still smoke like there is no tomorrow even though they are in an air-condition room that have the No Smoking sign hanging around everywhere, their toilets have improved though; doors are actually installed but they still have no proper toilet hygiene - the ladies do no wrap their sanitary napkins, they just dispose them off just like that; piece by piece, so just imagine; entering the toilet with such a strong stench & seeing blood (so disgusting, i nearly fainted) and they still talk so loud as though they are in a Pasar Malam. No wonder, I never have the interest or the desire to visit China even though I am a Chinese myself. I have never feel the connection. I think its a culture thingy...they still have a long way to go.

It’s still winter over there and it’s cold. We work from morning till evening. We walk all day long. Visiting as many booths as possible as we were chasing time since our schedule was also very tight as well. I didn’t even get to explore the city as a tourist. Half way through, I fell sick. And have been self-medicating my flu + sore throat + cough. Blaming on the horrible cold + windy weather when we were outside and then the warm temperature when we were indoors which we’ve been experiencing.

When I got back to KL, wish I could just stay at home and do nothing but watch movies, catch-up on some reading and eat mum’s porridge, but as usual; I have unavoidable work deadlines, and other meetings which I might as well try to keep if I’m going to pretend that I’m not sick.

Overall this has been a good business trip. I learned lots and I experienced lots :)

I counted my blessings for today, and I was grateful for all that was good in my life :)

chop chops

I am craving for this right now :)

I am a big fan of cookies. I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE cookies! All sorts of cookies - buttery ones, crisp or chewy, big and little, nutty, chocolate chipped, peanut butter sandwich cookies?! OMG! Those are the BEST! :)

Well, it’s easy to love Meiji’s Hello Panda – it’s sweet, creamy, smooth, velvety, smells nice, cute and turns into a warm, melted, softness on your tongue. It’s everything a girl wants :)