Friday, 21 November 2014


This post is prompted by a question from one of my friends, Ms. June Tan from Shah Alam: How to improve sale? How to be a successful entrepreneur?

Everyone who is not involved in sales and entrepreneurship thinks, “I could never sell.” Truth is, most entrepreneurs and people who are in sales secretly think the same thing!

There is a reason people feel this way: most of us look at sales backward. We may see it as convincing people to do something they don’t want to do. But it isn’t. Sales and entrepreneurship is about learning what people do want to do and helping them do that. Or, we may think it’s about taking advantage of others - while in fact, it’s about giving other people more advantage.

But the biggest inversion of all, the great upside-down misconception about sales, is that it is an effort to get something from others. The truth is that sales at its best - that is, at its most effective - is precisely the opposite: it is about giving.

Selling is giving: giving time, attention, counsel, education, empathy, and value. In fact, the word sell comes from the Old English word sellan, which means - you guessed it - “to give.”

Typically, sales is taught as a set of specific skills, reinforced by a range of techniques, aimed at putting your product into someone else’s hands and their dollar into your pocket. From the prospecting dialogue and qualifying questions to overcoming objections and closing the sale, every step of the process is mapped out and nailed down. All you have to do, so the idea goes, is thoroughly learn and carefully practice everything in the salesman’s bag of tricks, and you too will become a sales success!

At least, that’s the theory. But it often doesn’t work out that way. Here is the reality: of the hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs, small business owners, corporate salespeople, independent reps, and others in business who find themselves fulfilling any sort of sales function, most are having a hard time with sales and selling.

This difficulty does not typically come from a lack of belief. Most people who are involved in sales genuinely believe in what they’re selling. They are excited about the value they can add to other people’s lives while making a healthy living for themselves and providing for their families.

But when it comes to the actual selling part? Most of us don’t believe we’re any good at it. We get performance anxiety or don’t feel comfortable with the idea of “pitching”. We don’t like having things pushed on us, and don’t really expect others to like it either.

We want to sell - we just don’t want to be in selling mode.

When you spend time with a genuinely successful salesperson, pay close attention and you’ll find something surprising: none of the hundreds of standard sales techniques are what makes them excel at what they do. Oh, they know about them, and when it will serve their customer, they may utilize some of them. But what makes a great salesperson great at sales is that he or she is wholeheartedly interested in the other person.


Genuinely great salespeople are not great because they have mastered “the close,” or because they give a dazzling presentation, or because they could shoot holes in any customer objection from fifty paces. They are great because they create a vast and spreading sphere of goodwill wherever they go. They enrich, enhance, and add value to people’s lives. They make people happier.

This is very good news, because it means that anyone can be great in sales. It means you can be great in sales. You might think that to do so, you need to have an outgoing, naturally jovial, gregarious personality. Not true. Shy people create relationships and get married. Introverts make great friends. You don’t need to be a “people person,” or any specific type of person, to be great at selling. In fact, the idea itself - that you might have to be a certain sort of person to be great in sales - precisely misses the point:


Thursday, 20 November 2014


It's great to be a go-getter. Go-getters are people who take action. Rather than waiting for circumstances to go their way, they create circumstances that go their way. Go-getters make things happen. But as great as it is to be a go-getter, Bob Burg believes that being a go-giver is even better!

To Burg, co-author (with John David Mann) of the bestseller, The Go-Giver: A Little Story About A Powerful Business Idea, being a go-giver means you add value to others in a way that helps them significantly while at the same time increases your own sense of joy and improves your bottom line, both in your business and your personal life.

The book seems to contradict conventional wisdom. The basic premise is that shifting one's focus from getting to giving - constantly and consistently adding value to the lives of others—is not only a nice way to live life but a very profitable way as well.

There are actually several very practical reasons why go-givers are the most successful people. One is that being "other-focused" instead of "me-focused" makes other people feel good about you and makes them recognize the value you bring to their lives. When that happens, they're much more excited about adding value to your life, just as you have for them. Everyone wins.

Another reason is that in a free enterprise-based society, where no one is forced to buy from you, the only way someone is going to pay for your product or service is if they find value in it [beyond the price]. Those who give lots of value get the most back. In a relationship, business people can often sense if you really care for them or if you are just faking it. Smart people can often read true caring vs. feigned sincerity.

It takes more than simply being nice. Many simply nice people are simply broke people as well. Success as a go-giver is also a matter of doing the correct things in what we call "the success process" that allows one to be successful and "finish first." The book's story walks the reader through those five principles.

The book's main character, Joe, is frustrated, and he's described as a go-getter. And being a go-getter is not necessarily a bad thing. A go-getter is, generally, a person who gets things done. That's terrific. And many go-getters are also go-givers. The opposite of a go-giver is not a go-getter; the opposite of a go-giver is a go-taker - someone who feels entitled to take, take, take without ever adding value to the relationship or the process in any way.

When we say go-giver, we're simply referring to the man or woman who has the great attributes of a successful person. One of those basic attributes is the ability to take one's eyes off oneself in order to focus on contribution and adding value to the lives of others. That's the person who accomplishes the most.

And by the way, there's nothing self-sacrificial or martyr-like about this. What we're talking about is extremely practical - it's following a methodology that allows you to be principle-based, continually adding value to the lives of others, and doing very, very well for yourself at the same time.

The sad thing is that so many successful people know this but so few people have yet embraced. While there are good and bad people of all types in the world, when one truly makes a study of people who are successful in the long term, both financially and in their personal lives, you find that by and large these people live lives and conduct their businesses based on character traits and values such as honesty, integrity, humility, and encouragement—and that they go out of their way to add significant value to every relationship in which they are involved.

The book underlines five laws of Stratospheric Success.

1.  The Law of Value: Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment. The key is realizing that price and value are two different things. Price is what a person pay; value is what a person get. Always strive to provide more in "use value" to your customer than what you charge them - while still making a healthy profit.

2.  The Law of Compensation: Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them. While Law of Value discusses the value you provide, the Law of compensation shows you how to get well compensated for the value you provide. You do so by touching the lives of a lot of people.

3.  The Law of Influence: Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other peoples' interests first. This might sound corny, but it's actually extremely practical. The golden rule of business is that all things being equal, people will do business with and refer business to those people they know, like, and trust. There's no quicker, more powerful, or more effective method of eliciting those feelings in others than by focusing on putting their interests first.

4. The Law of Authenticity: The greatest gift you have to offer is yourself. The most significant way you have of adding value to others' lives is by honouring your own nature - by being genuine and not trying to be someone you're not. Consciously or not, people can tell when you're not being authentic, and it interferes with your interaction just as surely as if you broke off an electrical current. You cannot truly give to another person unless you're being authentic.

5. The Law of Receptivity: The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving. This is what really brings it home. It says that receiving is good - it's great - because it is a natural result of giving.

I think perhaps the most prevalent false-dilemma question is: "Would you rather be rich OR happy?" What an awful question. Why not be both? And far too many people have bought into that artificial contradiction. Let's instead see the world as one of abundance. In this great country, if you can create, if you can add value - you can be rich and happy.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014


This book should be a must-read before being hired or joining a team.

A linchpin mindset is all about leaving behind the industrial way of doing things, like saying, “this isn’t my job.” A linchpin is someone who would be missed if they were gone.

As always, Godin does a masterful job explaining what used to work and why it doesn’t anymore, while also providing a new roadmap—or rather a mindset—on how to become a linchpin in your workplace. Being a cog in a machine is neither fun nor fruitful.

“If your organization wanted to replace you with someone far better at your job than you, what would they look for? I think it’s unlikely that they’d seek out someone willing to work more hours, or someone with more industry experience, or someone who could score better on a standardized test. No, the competitive advantage the marketplace demands is someone more human, connected, and mature. Someone with passion and energy, capable of seeing things as they are and negotiating multiple priorities as she makes useful decisions without angst. Flexible in the face of change, resilient in the face of confusion. All of these attributes are choices, not talents, and all of them are available to you.”

Copies are available from Times Bookstore Malaysia. Other relevant details are as follows:

  • Local Retail Price : RM63.95
  • ISBN : 9780749953355
  • Publisher : PIATKUS
  • Published date : Feb-2010
  • Format : PAPERBACK
  • No. of Pages : 256

Tuesday, 18 November 2014


I just love quotes. Quotes condense lifetimes of learning into bite-sized sentences. They saved time and pain of actually experiencing something yourself. Here are some quotes from some entrepreneurs that I think are very inspiring:

Kip Tindell, founder of The Container Store “At The Container Store we learned that if you take better care of the employee than anybody else, she will take better care of the customer than anybody else. And if those two people are ecstatic, then the shareholder is going to be ecstatic too, but that goes against all these business school rules that everybody is brought up to believe.”

Milton Glaser, graphic designer “One of my rules of life is, always work with people you like. An essential part of being in business is, try to surround yourself with people who you feel affinity for, or even more than affinity.”

Robin Chase, founder of Zipcar “I think we do have an overemphasis on raising money from venture capitalists. There’s this idea that ‘I’m only cool if I was able to go get Sequoia investing,’ and I think that’s garbage. If you could have done it without raising capital, that’s way better.”

Maxine B├ędat, co-founder of Zady “Millennials want to buy from brands that stand for something and are doing it right. And if you are a company, no matter what you are doing, if you’re not doing it right, this demographic shift will not support you.”

Eli Pariser, co-founder of Upworthy “I think the reason that it’s worked out well for [co-founder] Peter [Koechley] and I is that, on the 20-hour days where we’re in meetings all day and flying across the country, we don’t get incredibly annoyed with each other.”


KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 18 — Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Ahmad Maslan was forced to apologise to the Dewan Rakyat today for having left out “six words” during his winding speech in Parliament two weeks ago over a controversial letter of support for 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

In responding to a motion to refer him to the Parliament’s rights and privileges committee, Ahmad said he did not intend to mislead the House when he said on November 6 that there was no other sovereign guarantee or letter of support to the Putrajaya-backed investment arm.

“I accept my mistake of having left out six words that there is no other guarantee letter,” said Ahmad.

During his winding up speech on Budget 2015, Ahmad had insisted that there were “no other letter support” apart from an explicit guarantee of only RM5.8 billion of the sovereign fund’s loans.

Ahmad had also denied the existence of Putrajaya’s letter of support for 1MDB arranged by US-based investment banker Goldman Sach’s International to raise US$3 billion (RM10.02 billion) in bonds last year.

On November 8, in a press conference in Parliament, the deputy minister, however, said he meant to state that the letter of support does not tantamount to an explicit guarantee.


Sunday, 16 November 2014


1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.

This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.

Monday, 10 November 2014


Once upon a time there was a man who attended a wedding reception at a five star hotel in KL. At the lobby he saw 2 doors...Door #1 "Bridegroom's Guests" and Door #2 - "Bride's Guests". He entered Door #1.

After taking a few steps he saw another 2 doors...Door #1 "Male Guests" and Door #2 "Female Guests". He entered Door #1.

He took a few steps and saw another 2 doors...Door #1 "Guests With Gifts" and Door #2 "Guests Without Gifts". As he didn't bring anything, he entered Door #2.

After another few steps, he saw another 2 doors...Door #1 "Guests With Money In Envelope" and Door #2 "Guests with no money". As he was hungry and broke, he entered Door #2 happily.

He then took another few steps...and suddenly realized that he is standing by the roadside outside the hotel!

Morale of the story...Life is full of choices. Whilst you are free to choose anything you want to do or not do, you are not free to choose the consequences. So be careful when exercising your right to choose.

Saturday, 8 November 2014


When you deliver a presentation, your body language is important because it creates an instant visual first impression that answers a big question for your audience: "Can I trust this person?"

Until now, science had not been able to isolate the specific physical cues that could lead to distrust. But thanks to Dr. David DeSteno, a professor of psychology at Northeastern University, we now know what gestures can undermine the perception of our trustworthiness.

Dr. DeSteno devised a study in which participants played an economic game that could be played cooperatively, or selfishly, in a distrustful manner. Half played face-to-face, and half played over the Internet. Those who played face-to-face were videotaped from three camera angles.

In the game, the average level of cooperation between the two groups was the same, whether the communication was in-person or over the Internet. But accuracy predicting the perceived trustworthiness of a partner was significantly greater when the communication was face-to-face. Somehow, the people playing face-to-face were better at picking up cues.

Based on the videos, the investigators built models that tied four specific gestures to perceived trustworthiness. These gestures were:

  1. Hand-touching,
  2. Touching your own face,
  3. Crossing your arms, and
  4. Leaning away.

The more a participant expressed these actions, the less he was trusted.

However, how could Dr. DeSteno be sure that other, unnoticed gestures were not contributing to the impression of untrustworthiness? People send many cues simultaneously. So he enlisted the help of a robot called Nexi, designed by Cynthia Brazil at the MIT Media Lab. For one group, Nexi was programmed to display only those gestures associated with lack of trust, while for the other group she displayed more neutral gestures.

Sure enough, those who saw Nexi display the four gestures rated her as less trustworthy than those who saw her speaking with other, more neutral gestures.

So let's take a quick look at the four gestures that could undermine the perception of trustworthiness.

Hand-touching can make you look tentative and nervous, which could cause observers to think you are hiding something or not being honest, or that you lack confidence. Clasping your hands together may also be interpreted as a closing-off gesture: It could look as if you were putting up a fence between yourself and the people you're speaking with. When you see Nexi do the gesture, it looks like she's a plotting poker player gathering in a massive pile of other people's chips.

Touching your own face
Touching your own face is a common gesture that signals you are thinking. After all, you're touching your head. But what you are thinking is unknown to those who are trying to determine if you can be trusted. And if they don't know you well, the safe choice might be to decide that you're up to no good. To touch another's face is a gesture of intimacy and affection, but to touch your own face is to mask your expression.

Crossing your arms
Crossing your arms is a classic closing gesture. By doing it, you cover your heart and protect your solar plexus, the most vulnerable real estate on the body. Crossing the arms tends to communicate that your true feelings will remain undisclosed, and that you are not open for collaboration.

Leaning away
We like people who like us. When you lean in, you express the desire to be close. When you lean away, you could very well be seen as someone who is running away, disengaged, or avoiding contact - you're aloof on the balcony, not moshing on the dance floor.

Successful public figures are trained to avoid these gestures, which is behavioural marketing: it's hard to get elected and govern if you send negative signals.

Those of us in business also need to earn the trust of the people we seek to influence - which is almost everyone we meet, from direct reports, to peers, to the big boss at the top of the food chain. With a little practice, you can avoid touching your hands and face, crossing your arms, or leaning away from people you're conversing with.

If you watch the video of Nexi, it's clear that Dr. DeSteno is right: Our minds ascribe moral intention to gestures - even those performed by robots - if they show any hint of emotional expression.