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Inspirational Quote of the Day

"Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking." —Marcus Aurelius

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Monday, July 20, 2015

Completed My Fifth MBA Module: Marketing Management

I've completed my fifth module, Marketing Management, a few weeks ago. I realized I haven't written about my experience for this module. Dr. Shankar was a great lecturer, and I'm happy to say he's the best and most engaging in this program. I have also enjoyed writing the assignment!

The books I picked out from my personal library for the study of this module

My current and sixth module is Managing Operations. The day to write the thesis is drawing near. My successful completion of two more modules and the thesis will determine if I graduate or not by middle of next year. I would like to graduate in Paris and once again, restart my annual traveling plans. I can't wait to go back to Italy!

P/S: Here's another great piece of news: My ScholarVox eLibrary access is finally ready! My AMA (American Management Association) membership is also in effect now. Many thanks to Mr. Sridharan from Olympia College Penang for all the help he has extended!


Sunday, June 28, 2015

About Me: An Extension from the 10 Things Your Personal Brand is Not

Today, 28 June 2015, is my fifth anniversary of working with the firm. I love my job! As an extension to my post yesterday on my thoughts about personal branding, I'd like to elaborate more on one or two things from the 10 Things Your Personal Brand is Not... Click here for a recap of the list.

For illustration, I'd like to use the deck I prepared at work that I use to introduce myself. Please click on the images to enlarge. I think this one below summarizes my job pretty well. :)

And now for my resumé... I started working way back in 1995 and that means I have been in the work force for 20 years. I started as a clerk and strategized my way to where I am today. I have written more about succeeding without a university degree in this post.

"Success takes 10 years." Richard St. John, author of Spike's Guide to Success: Stupid, Ugly, Unlucky and Rich

When I re-read the quote by Richard St. John above (a book I had in my personal library since 2008), I took another look at my brief bio below. I can see that it rings true. I've toiled a long time and worked really hard to establish myself within the first 10 years. By then I stopped looking for the best job because jobs started looking for me (I was being headhunted). I've been invited to speak in conferences. Despite not possessing a degree, I have proven myself worthy of a position in which I have now been serving in for the last five years. Also, once again today, 28 June 2015, is my fifth anniversary of working with the firm!

On a lighter note, here's more about me personally about what I've done, my fur-kid Trio, my insatiable desire for learning, my madness for books, and my involvement in social media. I'm by no means a heavyweight in the world of Twitter or Facebook (here and here), but everything I do there I do it with love.

I hope this will give you a glimpse of me and what I stand for. In the spirit of "success takes 10 years," I suspect I would be incredible in my Italian language by the time I'm 45 (10 years from 2012)!


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Personal Brand: Some Thoughts

I'm back home in Kuala Lumpur this weekend and catching up on the back issues of magazines in my Zinio. I found this article: What exactly is a "personal brand"? According to Dorie Clark in the MORE magazine (December 2014/January 2015 edition),  

Your personal brand is the way your values and talents are deliberately expressed through your profession, skill set, online presence, communication style, even clothing. Your personal brand represents what you stand for in a way that both defines you and sets you apart.

So in my case as the "Asia Pacific regional platform manager for my firm" I become "the go-to subject matter expert with dedication to simplifying the lives of the client and my colleagues in the firm." My main aim is to create value and make it as easy as possible for these people. I summarized it in the chart that I created at work as my strategy.

"You always have to give customers what they want, rather than being an artist who does what you want."  Isadore "Issy" Sharp, founder and chairman, Four Seasons Hotels
"When your personal brand is a genuine expression of your core values, it focuses your attention on actions you should be taking—as well as making clear what you should avoid." —Stew Friedman, director of the Work/Life Integration Project at the Wharton School of Business.

Friedman's statement above reminded me of my recent read of the Dalai Lama's The Art of Happiness (my blog post here). The training of the mind, constant and consistent practicing, the discipline and avoiding compromising situations will definitely result in the better alignment of the different parts of one's life. I have certainly see the fruits of my labor through all of that, which is why The Art of Happiness resonated so much with me. 

I also find the distinctions outlined by MORE about what your personal brand is and is not a good read:

10 Things Your Personal Brand is Not...
1) Your Job
2) Your Resumé
3) Your Elevator Pitch
4) Your Network
5) Your LinkedIn Profile
6) Your Leadership Roles
7) Your Google Search Results
8) Your Style of Dress
9) Your Way of Relating to Others
10) Your Office Decor

Your Personal Brand Is...
What you stand for and your reputation—what others say about you when you leave the room. [...] these elements (above) communicate to the outside world who you are and how you see yourself.

MORE Magazine (December 2014/January 2015) — click on picture to enlarge

I want to be known as a person who is sincere, with integrity and very serious about doing my best in my chosen profession while remaining humble as a person. I began my career life in the most unconventional way; I started working very young when I was 17 years old. Nothing is impossible so never give up on your dreams!

What is your personal brand?


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Hong Kong Bar (HKB), Chulia Street, Penang

For the first time after five years of living in Penang, I finally step foot into Hong Kong Bar in Chulia Street. For this, I must thank a friend―let's call him Simon P.―because without his and his friends' postings on social media, I wouldn't have noticed this super cool, old-fashioned (but in a very good way) bar. I loved it.

The nice cold beer, the lovely hosts Jenny and Peter, the oldies music, all that history displayed on the wall, I just sat there and took them all in. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes was playing in the background. Only You... Jenny thought I was from Japan.

My selfie. There's no air-conditioning so please come in your light clothing... 

I took the bus, stopped at the Jetty and walked my way to Chulia Street. I was greeted along the way by some locals thinking I'm a foreign tourist. It was fun.

I found it! It's the one round the corner. Step into this unassuming bar and enjoy yourself with a nice cold beer and chat.

Hong Kong Bar (HKB) is a family-run business going a long way back since 1955 and has always been a popular spot for servicemen from the RAF/RAAF Butterworth days. I read from the Internet that there was a major fire at the bar in September 2004 which gutted much of the interior and destroyed the old photo books.

HKB's walls are lined with plaques and photos, mementos left by the servicemen of their many hours spent in the bar. I've captured some snapshots below. I asked Jenny, a wonderful and sweet lady, if I may take photos and she was like, take all the photos you want! YAY! So, I immediately got to work.

The Australian flag. Beautiful...

I also asked Jenny if I could step behind the bar counter to get a wider shot of the wall and she's totally accommodating. By this time, I was already in love with her.

This was around 3:30 PM to 4:00 PM and by the time it's early evening, the bar filled up. Every chair, bench and spot taken.

I walked outside and took a snapshot of this. I was just parading about and *click click* My iPhone was busy making photos. LOL.

The fridge that keeps all the beer we so loved!

Here comes the plaques and photos, mementos...

Jenny dished out some photo albums and I spent a good hour browsing through them. The bar has a custom of keeping photos of all its customers. I ogled at lots of really handsome and good looking men in the pictures. Perfect way to spend an afternoon over a few bottles of beer.

I was browsing the awesome albums. So many photos! I signed the guestbook too. My handwriting's awful...

Oooooh... a sexy pose by one of the servicemen.

This is the latest memento from the RAAF boys to be added to the collection! Fresh from the oven today and soon onto the wall.

Here are the RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force) boys making a group photo. I sneaked a shot of everybody's backsides...

When I say Jenny is really nice, I mean she is REALLY nice. Here's a bowl of hot "sai yong choi" soup. Delicious! Perfect to go with the yam rice she cooked. What a dinner treat! Thank you so much, Jenny, for the wonderful hospitality. I left the bar at about 7:30 PM or so. I will see you and Hong Kong Bar again. And again. 

My bowl of hot soup oozing with home-cooked goodness.


Sunday, June 14, 2015

InterNations in Penang June 2015

Yesterday evening was an InterNations dinner night in ‪‎Penang‬ (yes, once again!). Time passed really quickly because we just had one last month on May 23. This month's outing was held at Loke Thye Kee (LTK) on Burma Street, Penang. I'm looking forward to the next meeting!

LTK offers a myriad of different dining experiences, starting from the Kopitiam (Ground Floor), Loke Thye Kee Restaurant (First Floor) and The  Bridge Grill (Roof Terrace - this was where we had the event).

We had global guests and expats joining from all over the world: the UK, the US, Italy, Australia, Korea, and many more. There were, of course, local Malaysians such as Yours Truly.

Lucky Draw time! Many thanks to awesome hosts, Marc (holding the big bowl) and Shawn (beside Marc).

You can find out more about InterNations here. And if you're an expat, all the more reason why you should be joining!


Saturday, June 06, 2015

THE ART OF HAPPINESS, by H.H. The Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler

I finished reading The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living by His Holiness The Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler a few weeks ago. It was my constant companion every morning while commuting to work in the bus or while waiting for it.

Having finished Mindfulness for Every Day Living by Christopher Titmuss very much earlier, I expanded my reading to include the Dalai Lama's book mentioned above. These two books are some of the best things that have happened to me.

The Art of Happiness brought clarity to a few things I often think about. While I am happy and contented with my life, there are still questions that sit in my head. I wonder about them often: What is a psychologically healthy person? Inner discipline? Training the mind - how? Is it normal if I don't feel the lack of or the yearn for romantic intimacy?

While I consider myself a well-disciplined person with a strong ability to train my mind, I still have questions as to what that really is (this training of the mind), and why is making positive changes painfully slow at times. This is where the book brought light to these issues. Here are some of my favorites passages from the book:

There is a widespread notion in our culture that deep intimacy is best achieved within the context of a passionate romantic relationship—that Special Someone who we set apart from all others. This can be a profoundly limiting viewpoint, cutting us off from other potential sources of intimacy, and the cause of much misery and unhappiness when that Special Someone isn't there.

But we have within our power the means to avoid this, we need only courageously expand our concept of intimacy to include all the other forms that surround us on a daily basis. By broadening our definition of intimacy, we open ourselves to discovering many new and equally satisfying ways to connect with others.

I found a lot truth in the above (p.83). People's reaction to my lack of romantic relationship at some point did baffle me a bit, but I never felt bad about not having a Special Someone to live my life with. I didn't have the feeling that I need to be in a relationship to make my life complete. When I read the Dalai Lama's take on this, I knew I am already on the right track. I'm not anti-social by any means because I love hanging out with family and friends as much as I love spending time with myself doing the stuff I love such as reading, blogging, traveling and so on. And then, there's the part on self-created suffering (p.151 and 152), which I also totally agree:

We also often add to our pain and suffering by being overly sensitive, overreacting to minor things, and sometimes taking things too personally. We tend to take small things too seriously and blow them up out of proportion, while at the same time we often remain indifferent to the really important things, those things which have profound effects on our lives and long-term consequences and implications.

So I think that to a large extent, whether you suffer depends on how you respond to a given situation. For example, say you find out that someone is speaking badly of you behind your back. If you react to this knowledge [...], this negativity, with a feeling of hurt or anger, then you yourself destroy your own peace of mind. Your pain is your own creation. On the other hand, if you refrain from reacting in a negative way, let the slander pass by you as if it were a silent wind passing behind your ears, you protect yourself from that feeling of hurt, that feeling of agony. So, although you may not always be able to avoid difficult situations, you can modify the extent to which you suffer by how you choose to respond to the situation. 

So this is where the training of the mind is so important. It takes control to be able to react in a way that will not "bomb" things into oblivion although that is the natural tendency especially when one is being wronged. Coming back to the very beginning of the book, this is how a psychologically healthy person looks like (p. 40):

Well, I would regard a compassionate, warm, kindhearted person as healthy. If you maintain a feeling of compassion, loving kindness, then something automatically opens your inner door. Through that, you can communicate much more easily with other people. And that feeling of warmth creates a kind of openness. You'll find that all human beings are just like you, so you'll be able to relate to them more easily.

Finally, change takes time (p.42).

And in the same way, transforming your mind takes time. There are a lot of negative mental traits, so you need to address and counteract each one of these. That isn't easy. It requires repeated application of various techniques and taking the time to familiarize yourself with the practices. It's a process of learning. [...] No matter what activity or practice we are pursuing, there isn't anything that isn't made easier through constant familiarity and training. Through training, we can change; we can transform ourselves.

The Dalai Lama is spot on on the above. When I think back to how I achieve mastery in Italian, it was through exposing and familiarizing myself with the sound and look of the language, and by practicing it daily and always. The same applies to training our minds, changing our habits for the better and living a happier life!

I loved this book so much that I searched for the Italian edition and found it on Here's a snapshot of it, L'arte della felicità.


Thursday, June 04, 2015


Please join me in welcoming author Jessica Tudos to Hello, My Name Is Alice!

Guest Post: FLIP approach to achieving success

One of the most surprising things about being the author of Kika the Upside-Down Girl has been my newfound sense of urgency around empowering people to get, and stay, in shape and live active creative lives. As Kika demonstrates through her dedication to living upside down while the rest of the word is pressuring her to stay right side up, one of my biggest discoveries has been the importance of encouraging healthy living in people of ALL ages, not just the kids who read Kika the Upside-Down Girl.

Perhaps due to the fact that I’ve spent over 10,000 hours upside-down training to be an Olympic gymnast, people often ask me what it takes to be really good at something and find the confidence and courage to do so. As an experiential educator with over 20 years actively working in the field, I figured it would be worth finding out. The result has been the creation of The FLIP Approach, a 4-step process to achieving success based on Kika’s story and my own adventure. It’s an easy to follow approach that anyone can follow

F = FIRST: First, there must be passion. When we inherently like what we are doing, we often succeed. Questions to ask, “What fuels my optimism, energy and ability to move forward?”

L = LAST: Think about your end goal, the result you desire after action has taken place

The question here is, “What does success, on my terms, look and feel like?

I = IN-BETWEEN: In between is where the hard work comes in. No way around this step

The key question here is, “How can work efficiently authentically and “smart?”

P = PLUS: Plus refers to people - the formal & informal support we all need to achieve success.

The key question here is, “Who can I trust to help me reach my goals and find success?

So, how do we inspire and empower kids and adults to be successful? Just FLIP it! Turn your ideas upside-down and watch how things change – with Kika guiding the way. Now that the book is out in the world and I continue to broaden my speaking engagements, I see how valuable a simple tool like The FL!P Approach can be. Feeling so grateful for the opportunity.

Jessica Tudos is an Olympian turned educator, motivational speaker, author and creative Toronto-based mother whose mission is to empower upside-down ninjas everywhere to be more confident and resilient so they can lead active, healthy and creative lives.


Even as a baby, upside down on her mother’s back or in her high chair, Kika loved exploring the world in her own unique way.

Kika the Upside-Down Girl is a must-read by parents and it's cute picture book for young children. Children would be delighted to meet Kika, a girl who has always enjoyed being upside down—even as a baby. A "big kid" like me certainly loved her!

The illustration is beautiful and there are many such wonderful pictures to enjoy throughout the book. As you can see, Kika is a special girl!

Every page in this colorfully illustrated book is a joy to read. It is perfect for young children aged between 4 and 8, and would make a great read-aloud session by parents or guardians for their children or those under their care.

The book carries a positive message to be brave for who you are, not to be afraid to dream and realize your dream. As for parents and guardians, we could all learn from this story to appreciate the children in our lives; to recognize and nurture their talents through the encouragement of their development that is true to themselves.

I read this one so fast (it's a fast-paced little book!) and was sad that it ended so quickly but at the same time cheering for Kika. I highly recommend this fun-filled and exciting little gem!

Book Synopses: Kika always seems to accomplish things differently than others and tends to get into trouble for it. She reminds us that choosing to be different is more than okay, and finding others to join in her upside down adventures makes her heart feel huge - especially when it involves somersaults, vaults, flips and kips! Join Kika, a girl who loves living upside down in a right side up world, on her unique journey to a fliptastic world! Kika reminds us that choosing to be different is more than okay, and finding others to join in her upside down adventures feels fliptastic - especially when it involves somersaults, vaults, flips and kips in the Gymnastics Emporium!


Olympic gymnast turned author, motivational speaker and experiential educator Jessica Tudos ( is on a mission to empower kids, youth and adults to develop the confidence and resiliency required to lead active, healthy and creative lives. In organizations around the world, Jessica empowers audiences through engaging stories, insights and reflections drawn from her upside down life, including her Olympic gymnastics adventures. Jessica is a sought after speaker, facilitator and professor in experiential education, physical literacy, leadership and elite sports.

Connect with Brent: Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook 

Where to buy the book: Amazon ~ Chapters-Indigo ~ Barnes and Noble

Many thanks to Laura Fabiani from iRead Book Tours for sending me a complimentary copy of this book. I'm proud to be a part of this book tour!


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