Do you really want that promotion?

Have you ever asked yourself if you really wanted to move up the career ladder? I had always thought I certainly did; that is, until I chanced upon some interesting commentary on moving up the corporate ladder in the book Everyone’s Business on Getting Ahead by Gorden Wells

You work will have become your Life. You get paid a lot more and you have a lot more interest and responsibility. But what about the “quality of your life”? You see less of your family, except at weekends. But you can now afford to have a much better time when you do all get it together. The decision is yours. but you must make it consciously.

In making the decision, think too about your wife. Is she content to see less of you? A busy manager’s life may mean loneliness for the wife. Can she accept this in exchange for a nicer house in better surroundings?

It reminded me of a seminar/talk during my polytechnic days when an entrepreneur opened up the floor for a little Q&A (question and answer) after a presentation related to entrepreneurship. Though highly averse to asking questions at such events (for fear of making everyone else look foolish with my highly intelligent questions), I asked him how his pursuit of entrepreneurial success impacted his family life.

Though I did not think it was significant at that time, it has now dawned on me that it probably revealed something about my personality, especially with regards to how I valued family life. I took a short quiz in the same book that was to show how suitable I was to move up the corporate ladder; apparently due to my inclination to put family ahead of my career, I’m not quite as suitable as I might otherwise be. I honestly don’t know what to make of it.

Borders Singapore Coupon

This is a limited-time offer for the Borders book store, Singapore (until 30 July 2009). Buy two books for 20% off, or buy three for 25% off. Just thought I’d share.

Get the coupons on here.

I’ve used these Borders coupons before and they’re definitely legit. As far as I know there shouldn’t be a limit to how many coupons you print/use, though there might be. Just print these out, show it to the cashier and the discount is yours.

Bing Donn Lee’s Star

You ask yourself if having a domain name, specifically edonn.com, actually creates more stress than necessary. Didn’t you just go to bing.com to do a search on “donn lee” realise that it didn’t contain any results linking to your webpage? And didn’t this little thing cause you to start feeling a little flustered, a little stressed, and a little lost? Didn’t you immediately wonder if you should have been promoting your website more to get it higher up the search rankings?

How difficult can it be, you figure, since there is but one more prominent Donn Lee online, that of a Facebook engineer who has been online longer than you have (probably since when the world wide web was born; probably since when you was born). Though his website(s) aren’t very interesting (to you), and they don’t look particularly aesthetically pleasing, his experience affords him the luxury of first place if not for now, then for a long time to come.

Early in this war of “donn” search rankings, you decided that he wasn’t going to be someone you were working to topple (though it had entered your mind more than once), but was instead just going to “be there” hogging the top spot while you lingered in second place; and it wasn’t something you felt or were going to feel bad about because it was exactly what you expected and was, in all honesty, what you were working for.

At the end of that state of fluster upon finding out you were not featuring at all on bing.com’s “donn lee” searches, you suddenly experienced a precious feeling of freedom from no longer being the top dog (or second, or third… were you even a “good” dog?) This disappearing into obscurity seemes to have brought its own kind of reward. The pressure to perform – to write, to publish – had disappeared along with your search rankings, even if this pressure was self-manifested, and even (especially!) when this pressure to “perform” was for a “performance” that really wasn’t anything close to great (…or good; or above-average; or mediocre… deperessing).

It is, you think, perhaps time to give up this domain. Not so much in the physical sense (you love @edonn.com too much to give it up), but what it stands for: “I have my own blog on my own domain, and thefore I am (a writer)”. It is perhaps time to give it up, because according to bing.com, there’s just not so much fantasy to live up to anymore. Your star has faded.

Knowing the Full Story

Our meeting was at 2.30pm. Literally seconds before I was going to go over she called, and told me that she had to postpone. “I have one more quote to do,” she told me in a harried voice, “give me thirty minutes.” This meeting had gone off to a bad start, I thought. This was to be our second meeting in two weeks.

Our previous meeting hadn’t gone that well, either. There was the initial difficulty in trying to set up the meeting in the first place (there never was a “good” time). Then during the meeting itself, we spent thirty minutes discussing how a certain process could be carried out, only for it to end with feelings of resignation on both sides that it just couldn’t be done. We finally decided to try finding out how other people did it (i.e. our North American counterparts) and simply follow what they did — no use reinventing the wheel, right? Unfortunately, a week later, we found that the wheel hadn’t actually been invented, and what we were trying to do had been just as impossible to them as it had been to us.

Still, there was a possibility that it was simply that they, the North Americans, just hadn’t tried very hard at all; and so I was tasked with setting up another meeting with her to finalise the (im)possibility of the process. After another round of e-mail tennis and slightly curt phone calls, a meeting time and date was finally settled.

Relieved that we had finally settled on this, I informed my boss, only to for him to tell me that he wasn’t going to be able to attend as he would be on leave that day. I was hoping that he’d ask me to arrange for another date as having your boss around more or less ensures things go smoothly, but  at the same time hoping he’d not, as it was a pain arranging a mutually acceptable date and time. In the end, he asked if I thought I could handle it, and I, not knowing any other answer, simply said, “Yes.” And that was that.

When 2.59 rolled along, I made my way to her desk. Upon arriving, she looked at me, smiled a little sheepishly, and told me, “I’m not ready yet. You want to just sit down here or wait for me at your desk? I need another twenty minutes.” I tried my best to give her a subtle look of displeasure, one that didn’t show outright peevishness but that let her know I wasn’t entirely happy. I told her I’d be back later.

I decided that I’d wait for her call. Twenty minutes turned into thirty, then forty. Filled with regret as to my decision to go ahead with the meeting, I was just about to call her up to remind her about our meeting when she called. “Tell you what,” she said, “I think you just come over and we’ll have this meeting. If you wait for me to finish this meeting will never happen!” I laughed politely with her, and told her I’d be over in a minute.

As relieved as I was that this meeting was finally going to commence, I was by now more than a little upset. All this waiting for her to finish made me feel as if she didn’t value my time; and I had doubts as to whether or not she would have done this if my boss had been here. Was she really that busy in the first place? Being new at the job, I knew I would have little bargaining power or any influence to speak of. All I could do was hope she’d treat me with some respect, which she didn’t appear to be doing.

When I got to her desk, she was on the phone. For about another ten minutes or so, I was made to wait while she handled some work that apparently required her immediate attention. As I observed her (and those around her), I felt transported to a whole different world.

In my part of the office, it was relatively quiet and relaxed. Apart from the typical sales talk from the Export sales department, voices were seldom heard. And though e-mails were a fairly common occurrence, you never had so many that you’d wonder to yourself if you’d ever finish reading them all. In her part of the office, however, voices seemed to be booming around everywhere. Her e-mail inbox was filled with unread messages, and new ones appeared to be coming in quite frequently; and every time she wanted to entertain me her phone would ring or a colleague would consult her on some matter; the other cubicles around her, too, were filled with similar activity. It was simply not something I experienced in my part of the office.

This experience opened my eyes to how different work-life could be even within the same company. I understood now why her e-mails were so delayed, and why it was so difficult for her to find time for meetings. At the end of the meeting, from which I almost managed to invent the wheel, thanks to her help, I felt I had wronged her. Now every time I feel peeved with someone, I remind myself that I don’t know the full story, and if I did I might well do what they do, too.

It reminded me of how as a driver, I wonder all the why cyclists chose to cycle on roads (do they not realise how difficult it is to overtake them with so many other cars around? Why not go on the pavement?), and how as a cyclist I wonder all the time why cars drive so close by me (is it that difficult to just overtake me on another lane? I have every right to this road as you!)

Wedding Ang Pow Calculation Table

Ang Pow CalculationThe girlfriend sent me this Ang Pow Calculation table today. I wonder if it’s supposed to be some subtle but not-too-subtle hint. (To the girlfriend: If it is, I’m not getting it, I swear.)

The calculation used in the calculation of how much to give as “Ang Pow” is pretty standard fare. You generally will want to give the same amount it took to invite you — that is, if it costs $1,000 per table, and there are 10 people per table (as in most hotels/Chinese restaurants), then it’d generally be considered good form to give $100, to help cover costs.

Of course, there are variables, explained by the author (Celine Tan) at the bottom of the sheet. The relationship between you and the couple getting married plays an important part in how much you ought to give.

You know you’re getting old when your friends start forwarding you things like these. Seemed like only last year when I was getting those “let’s be friends forever” type of e-mails which were adorned with bears and floating hearts or the like. If I received this e-mail then I’d probably have deleted it pretty quick thinking it had nothing to do with me.

I can just imagine in how in what might seem like a few years time I might linger a little longer viewing deleting e-mails purporting to know the secrets of longer, harder erections, and how I might start regaining a full head of hair.

Clutter: The Beauty of Less

Stuff I didn’t need nor use lay strewn across my room, on my table, floor, and shelves: books I hadn’t read in ages and some I hadn’t read at all; souvenirs from a trip that wasn’t particularly interesting, and that I didn’t even go; exercise equipment I didn’t use; keys to unknown locks; and other miscellaneous “stuff”.

The night before, I finally decided to get rid of this clutter and put things in their rightful place, while the decision was acted upon just last night. I threw away the stuff I didn’t need, while packing the stuff I did nicely (even the previously useless ornaments created aesthetic value after some creative placement).

I cannot tell you just how much of a difference this exercise in de-cluttering has made to my state of mind. I feel fresher, freer, and more in control. Why didn’t I do this before?

My Work Life

I suppose it hasn’t really been kosher for me to have avoided talk about my work life thus far. Most of you probably don’t even know what I’m working as or where I’m working at.

Well, I’m currently working as a business analyst for an electronic components distributor. The job largely entails the generation of reports, the maintenance of point of sales (POS) and customer relationship management (CRM) data, and occasionally acting as the middleman between the marketing and IT functions.

Though, like most jobs, it has its really mundane tasks (some reports have so little structure and require so much flexibility as to make automation nearly impossible, requiring plenty of manual intervention), many parts of this job have had me thinking if perhaps I should be paying them to do it (I never knew I would ever learn, and actually enjoy, programming in Visual Basic).

But even then, I can’t say I see myself doing this for the next five years. I’ve always been keen to go into freelance work or starting entrepreneurial ventures, and finding and landing this job hasn’t quite changed that. Though I’m getting used to wearing business attire (especially with the beautiful ties LiShya got me from Australia), I still don’t quite see myself as a salaryman, chained to the rigid rules of the corporate world.