Archive for February, 2008

February 29, 2008

“Nine Cs of Leadership”

With the election round the corner, I feel that it is appropriate for me to share this with the public – on what to look for in a leader… and hopefully, be able to vote wisely…

The following is an excerpt from Lee Iacocca’s (former CEO of Chrysler Corporation) book – “Where Have All The Leaders Gone?”. Note that most of the references are about the American political scene, but then in and out, it’s not much different than anywhere else in the world. For some weird reason, the guy at the top is always an asshole.

But then, not that you can’t change a thing about it. All you have to do, is pick wisely. Try not to pick an asshole but instead, a real leader with substance. Find out what an accomplished leader has to say about what it takes to be a good leader… just take a 10 minute break and do it. (trust me, if it’s not worth reading, I wouldn’t have posted it here…)

The Test of a Leader

I’ve never been Commander in Chief, but I’ve been a CEO. I understand a few things about leadership at the top. I’ve figured out nine points — not ten (I don’t want people accusing me of thinking I’m Moses). I call them the “Nine Cs of Leadership.” They’re not fancy or complicated. Just clear, obvious qualities that every true leader should have. We should look at how the current administration stacks up. Like it or not, this crew is going to be around until January 2009. Maybe we can learn something before we go to the polls in 2008. Then let’s be sure we use the leadership test to screen the candidates who say they want to run the country. It’s up to us to choose wisely.

So, here’s my C list:

A leader has to show CURIOSITY. He has to listen to people outside of the “Yes, sir” crowd in his inner circle. He has to read voraciously, because the world is a big, complicated place. George W. Bush brags about never reading a newspaper. “I just scan the headlines,” he says. Am I hearing this right? He’s the President of the United States and he never reads a newspaper? Thomas Jefferson once said, “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate for a moment to prefer the latter.” Bush disagrees. As long as he gets his daily hour in the gym, with Fox News piped through the sound system, he’s ready to go.

If a leader never steps outside his comfort zone to hear different ideas, he grows stale. If he doesn’t put his beliefs to the test, how does he know he’s right? The inability to listen is a form of arrogance. It means either you think you already know it all, or you just don’t care. Before the 2006 election, George Bush made a big point of saying he didn’t listen to the polls. Yeah, that’s what they all say when the polls stink. But maybe he should have listened, because 70 percent of the people were saying he was on the wrong track. It took a “thumping” on election day to wake him up, but even then you got the feeling he wasn’t listening so much as he was calculating how to do a better job of convincing everyone he was right.

A leader has to be CREATIVE, go out on a limb, be willing to try something different. You know, think outside the box. George Bush prides himself on never changing, even as the world around him is spinning out of control. God forbid someone should accuse him of flip-flopping. There’s a disturbingly messianic fervor to his certainty. Senator Joe Biden recalled a conversation he had with Bush a few months after our troops marched into Baghdad. Joe was in the Oval Office outlining his concerns to the President — the explosive mix of Shiite and Sunni, the disbanded Iraqi army, the problems securing the oil fields. “The President was serene,” Joe recalled. “He told me he was sure that we were on the right course and that all would be well. ‘Mr. President,’ I finally said, ‘how can you be so sure when you don’t yet know all the facts?'” Bush then reached over and put a steadying hand on Joe’s shoulder. “My instincts,” he said. “My instincts.” Joe was flabbergasted. He told Bush, “Mr. President, your instincts aren’t good enough.” Joe Biden sure didn’t think the matter was settled. And, as we all know now, it wasn’t.

Leadership is all about managing change — whether you’re leading a company or leading a country. Things change, and you get creative. You adapt. Maybe Bush was absent the day they covered that at Harvard Business School.

A leader has to COMMUNICATE. I’m not talking about running off at the mouth or spouting sound bites. I’m talking about facing reality and telling the truth. Nobody in the current administration seems to know how to talk straight anymore. Instead, they spend most of their time trying to convince us that things are not really as bad as they seem. I don’t know if it’s denial or dishonesty, but it can start to drive you crazy after a while. Communication has to start with telling the truth, even when it’s painful. The war in Iraq has been, among other things, a grand failure of communication. Bush is like the boy who didn’t cry wolf when the wolf was at the door. After years of being told that all is well, even as the casualties and chaos mount, we’ve stopped listening to him.

A leader has to be a person of CHARACTER. That means knowing the difference between right and wrong and having the guts to do the right thing. Abraham Lincoln once said, “If you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” George Bush has a lot of power. What does it say about his character? Bush has shown a willingness to take bold action on the world stage because he has the power, but he shows little regard for the grievous consequences. He has sent our troops (not to mention hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi citizens) to their deaths — for what? To build our oil reserves? To avenge his daddy because Saddam Hussein once tried to have him killed? To show his daddy he’s tougher? The motivations behind the war in Iraq are questionable, and the execution of the war has been a disaster. A man of character does not ask a single soldier to die for a failed policy.

A leader must have COURAGE. I’m talking about balls. (That even goes for female leaders.) Swagger isn’t courage. Tough talk isn’t courage. George Bush comes from a blue-blooded Connecticut family, but he likes to talk like a cowboy. You know, My gun is bigger than your gun. Courage in the twenty-first century doesn’t mean posturing and bravado. Courage is a commitment to sit down at the negotiating table and talk.

If you’re a politician, courage means taking a position even when you know it will cost you votes. Bush can’t even make a public appearance unless the audience has been handpicked and sanitized. He did a series of so-called town hall meetings last year, in auditoriums packed with his most devoted fans. The questions were all softballs.

To be a leader you’ve got to have CONVICTION — a fire in your belly. You’ve got to have passion. You’ve got to really want to get something done. How do you measure fire in the belly? Bush has set the all-time record for number of vacation days taken by a U.S. President — four hundred and counting. He’d rather clear brush on his ranch than immerse himself in the business of governing. He even told an interviewer that the high point of his presidency so far was catching a seven-and-a-half-pound perch in his hand-stocked lake.

It’s no better on Capitol Hill. Congress was in session only ninety-seven days in 2006. That’s eleven days less than the record set in 1948, when President Harry Truman coined the term do-nothing Congress. Most people would expect to be fired if they worked so little and had nothing to show for it. But Congress managed to find the time to vote itself a raise. Now, that’s not leadership.

A leader should have CHARISMA. I’m not talking about being flashy. Charisma is the quality that makes people want to follow you. It’s the ability to inspire. People follow a leader because they trust him. That’s my definition of charisma. Maybe George Bush is a great guy to hang out with at a barbecue or a ball game. But put him at a global summit where the future of our planet is at stake, and he doesn’t look very presidential. Those frat-boy pranks and the kidding around he enjoys so much don’t go over that well with world leaders. Just ask German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who received an unwelcome shoulder massage from our President at a G-8 Summit. When he came up behind her and started squeezing, I thought she was going to go right through the roof.

A leader has to be COMPETENT. That seems obvious, doesn’t it? You’ve got to know what you’re doing. More important than that, you’ve got to surround yourself with people who know what they’re doing. Bush brags about being our first MBA President. Does that make him competent? Well, let’s see. Thanks to our first MBA President, we’ve got the largest deficit in history, Social Security is on life support, and we’ve run up a half-a-trillion-dollar price tag (so far) in Iraq. And that’s just for starters. A leader has to be a problem solver, and the biggest problems we face as a nation seem to be on the back burner.

You can’t be a leader if you don’t have COMMON SENSE. I call this Charlie Beacham’s rule. When I was a young guy just starting out in the car business, one of my first jobs was as Ford’s zone manager in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. My boss was a guy named Charlie Beacham, who was the East Coast regional manager. Charlie was a big Southerner, with a warm drawl, a huge smile, and a core of steel. Charlie used to tell me, “Remember, Lee, the only thing you’ve got going for you as a human being is your ability to reason and your common sense. If you don’t know a dip of horseshit from a dip of vanilla ice cream, you’ll never make it.” George Bush doesn’t have common sense. He just has a lot of sound bites. You know — Mr. they’ll welcome us as liberators no child left behind heck of a job Brownie mission accomplished Bush.

Former President Bill Clinton once said, “I grew up in an alcoholic home. I spent half my childhood trying to get into the reality-based world — and I like it here.”

I think our current President should visit the real world once in a while.

The Biggest C is Crisis

Leaders are made, not born. Leadership is forged in times of crisis. It’s easy to sit there with your feet up on the desk and talk theory. Or send someone else’s kids off to war when you’ve never seen a battlefield yourself. It’s another thing to lead when your world comes tumbling down.

On September 11, 2001, we needed a strong leader more than any other time in our history. We needed a steady hand to guide us out of the ashes. Where was George Bush? He was reading a story about a pet goat to kids in Florida when he heard about the attacks. He kept sitting there for twenty minutes with a baffled look on his face. It’s all on tape. You can see it for yourself. Then, instead of taking the quickest route back to Washington and immediately going on the air to reassure the panicked people of this country, he decided it wasn’t safe to return to the White House. He basically went into hiding for the day—and he told Vice President Dick Cheney to stay put in his bunker. We were all frozen in front of our TVs, scared out of our wits, waiting for our leaders to tell us that we were going to be okay, and there was nobody home. It took Bush a couple of days to get his bearings and devise the right photo op at Ground Zero.

That was George Bush’s moment of truth, and he was paralyzed. And what did he do when he’d regained his composure? He led us down the road to Iraq — a road his own father had considered disastrous when he was President. But Bush didn’t listen to Daddy. He listened to a higher father. He prides himself on being faith based, not reality based. If that doesn’t scare the crap out of you, I don’t know what will.

A Hell of a Mess

So here’s where we stand. We’re immersed in a bloody war with no plan for winning and no plan for leaving. We’re running the biggest deficit in the history of the country. We’re losing the manufacturing edge to Asia, while our once-great companies are getting slaughtered by health care costs. Gas prices are skyrocketing, and nobody in power has a coherent energy policy. Our schools are in trouble. Our borders are like sieves. The middle class is being squeezed every which way. These are times that cry out for leadership.

But when you look around, you’ve got to ask: “Where have all the leaders gone?” Where are the curious, creative communicators? Where are the people of character, courage, conviction, competence, and common sense? I may be a sucker for alliteration, but I think you get the point.

Name me a leader who has a better idea for homeland security than making us take off our shoes in airports and throw away our shampoo? We’ve spent billions of dollars building a huge new bureaucracy, and all we know how to do is react to things that have already happened.

Name me one leader who emerged from the crisis of Hurricane Katrina. Congress has yet to spend a single day evaluating the response to the hurricane, or demanding accountability for the decisions that were made in the crucial hours after the storm. Everyone’s hunkering down, fingers crossed, hoping it doesn’t happen again. Now, that’s just crazy. Storms happen. Deal with it. Make a plan. Figure out what you’re going to do the next time.

Name me an industry leader who is thinking creatively about how we can restore our competitive edge in manufacturing. Who would have believed that there could ever be a time when “the Big Three” referred to Japanese car companies? How did this happen — and more important, what are we going to do about it?

Name me a government leader who can articulate a plan for paying down the debt, or solving the energy crisis, or managing the health care problem. The silence is deafening. But these are the crises that are eating away at our country and milking the middle class dry.

I have news for the gang in Congress. We didn’t elect you to sit on your asses and do nothing and remain silent while our democracy is being hijacked and our greatness is being replaced with mediocrity. What is everybody so afraid of? That some bobblehead on Fox News will call them a name? Give me a break. Why don’t you guys show some spine for a change?

Had Enough?

Hey, I’m not trying to be the voice of gloom and doom here. I’m trying to light a fire. I’m speaking out because I have hope. I believe in America. In my lifetime I’ve had the privilege of living through some of America’s greatest moments. I’ve also experienced some of our worst crises — the Great Depression, World War II, the Korean War, the Kennedy assassination, the Vietnam War, the 1970s oil crisis, and the struggles of recent years culminating with 9/11. If I’ve learned one thing, it’s this: You don’t get anywhere by standing on the sidelines waiting for somebody else to take action. Whether it’s building a better car or building a better future for our children, we all have a role to play. That’s the challenge I’m raising in this book. It’s a call to action for people who, like me, believe in America. It’s not too late, but it’s getting pretty close. So let’s shake off the horseshit and go to work. Let’s tell ‘em all we’ve had enough.

Vote wisely, people… and best of luck.

michaelooi  | snippets  | 9 Comments
February 26, 2008

what ‘pundek’ means…

Before you proceed to read the transcript below, you’re required to know the following words beforehand….
– ‘cheebye‘ : Hokkien for vagina, cooter, beaver, pussy, etc.
– ‘lancheow‘: Hokkien for penis, dick, weiner, schlong, etc.
– ‘lampah‘: Hokkien for testicals, nutsack, balls, ballsack, etc.
– ‘pundek‘: Tamil for cheebye.
– ‘puki‘: Tagalog for cheebye

Note: Those words are the most commonly used profanities in the general Malaysian public today. If you don’t know any of these words, you should probably fucking get a lobotomy.

The following conversation took place at Company X messenger today, between myself and a female colleague (FC) of mine. It’s a discussion about our everyday profanities. Those of you pansy ass who knows nuts about local profanities, you’re strongly encouraged to peruse this dialog with utmost scrutiny…

FC: u busy ke?

Michael: not really, why?

FC: so r u still feeling lazy?

Michael: yeah, that explains the reply ‘not really’. i have a lot of work, but i’m not busy.

FC: haha

Michael: what abt you? free?

FC: ya quite free that’s why reading ur blog can’t reamember when was the last time i read it. think was last year

Michael: pundek

FC: wat pundek i dun have one

Michael: you don’t have pundek?? then what do you have lar?? lampah?

FC: thought that one is for guy

Michael: pundek is Tamil for cheebye

FC: u serious?

Michael: yes i am. ask your indian friends.

FC: i i alwasy thought it’s a guys one

Michael: no ler. guys one is called lancheow. or lampah also can.

FC: that one is chinese lah. then indian one leh? call wat?

Michael: tamil for lancheow i don’t know

FC: hahaha

Michael: i figured, if i want to describe a dick to an english illiterate Indian chick, i’d just whip out my lancheow, she’d understand. I can’t whip out a cheebye, can I? That’s why i only learned the word – pundek

FC: ahahhahah ok now i know pundek is girls one

Michael: good good.

FC: oh yeah i have gal fren thought puki is for guys. she is liek 26 ys old, only recently she learn that puki is for gals

Michael: what the fuck??

FC: ahahhah we laughed at her

Michael: does she even know herself has one??

FC: ya i asked her whther she has puki. she looked at me one kind n said i was crazee.

Michael: maaan. is there really still such people on this planet? act innocent kot?

FC: well she knows what is cheebye. but she interpreted puki as the guy part

Yeah, we’d all be fucking damned if we guys have puki.

Just remember, people, if you don’t know or unsure what a certain profanity word means, you better ask around. You don’t want to make a mistake like my friend here (and also her friend in this case)… saying things like herself not having a cooter and mistaken their male counterparts as having one… it’ll be tragic.

michaelooi  | e-chats  | 12 Comments
February 25, 2008

I speakeh Enguhlish (part 2)

As usual, I was doing my job chasing for reports from vendors. Again, a Chinese female correspondent of unknown age responded:

Dear all:
The attached file is FA report for your reference, if have any question, please connect with me.

Best Regards
[female correspondent of unknown age]

I think this one’s hornier than the previous one – she demanded a hook-up for every answer to a question. But I ain’t asking that cheap bitch anything man…

michaelooi  | mails/posts  | 6 Comments
February 21, 2008

isn’t it dramatic?

Emily was hearing her housewife colleagues meting out each other’s glorious moments in their respective domestic quarrels in an automobile, when it came to her turn to tell her story. When my wife told them that she and I would usually go quiet after each quarrel inside the car, it garnered quite a reaction from the bunch.

I don’t exactly have the details, but I can imagine it go like this, “What? You’d just keep quiet?? No… girl, that will be too easy for your husband”.

I am not sure if this was for the good or bad, but it seems that they have their own idea of how to react each time they have a quarrel with their husband. From what I understand through Emily’s description, the reaction must possess following characteristics:

1) it must be something out of ordinary.
2) it must have the ‘shock and awe’ element.
3) it must be done with style and glamor.
4) it must not be easy on your husband.

I then asked, “So what is it?”. I was thinking of something like jumping out of the car window and roll on the tarmac like a Hindustan stuntman (or in this case, stuntwoman), which kinda fulfilled the 4 big important criteria above, but it wasn’t.

Emily replied – “2 of them did this before – they actually asked their husband to stop the car, got out of the vehicle in a dramatic fashion and attempted to walk home.”

o_O”

My reaction – “That was fucking dumb.”

But surprisingly, their plan actually worked. It so happened that their husbands did go after them and wheedled them back into the vehicle, bloating them with pride and self confidence. And that was why, I reckon, the ladies failed to spot anything wrong with their acts.

“If it were to be me, dear, you can best bet your ass that I won’t come back after you. You can walk home sweltering under that hot sun, for all I care. I’m gonna go ahead and drive myself the fuck home.”

“You’re a heartless fucker. How could you do that??”

“If you look at it this way, I’m just fulfilling your wish of not wanting to be with me. Who knows, maybe you needed that moment alone to walk long distance home and cool off. If you don’t want to walk home, then don’t ask for it.”

“Maybe I should ask you to get out of the vehicle instead, and I DRIVE HOME.”

“Fine for me. I just need to make a couple of phone calls and I’d be spending the rest of the day happy-houring with my buddies at our regular pub in no time.”

“…”

Maybe we guys take things easier than the ladies. I don’t see the logic of doing things like that to your spouse. I for one, would definitely never do that. Threatening to walk home to force the situation in favor of you isn’t right. That is just spastic.

Going quiet is the best you can do if you have a quarrel inside a car. Mitigate the damage. Avert yourself from further confrontation lest you’d say something you might regret. Walking home alone on a highway can be very dangerous. You risks yourself of getting kidnapped by sex fiends, gang raped by rabid dogs or worse, run over by a garbage truck. It’s just not worth it. (well, unless you enjoy it…)

michaelooi  | 2-of-us  | 12 Comments
February 19, 2008

a little bit of conversation

You know you’re a Malaysian if you can understand the conversation (from MSN) below:

Michael: itu lydia shum sudah mati

Luis: betui ka..

Michael: yeah. latest news

Luis: but she is old aldy ler.. i mean got problem aldy…

Michael: yeah, dia mia timing belt sudah putus

Luis: aaha.. timing belt…

Michael: dia mia piston sama itu valve semua sudah out of sync. macam yewtube mia kereta. hahah

Luis: tapi memang dia dah ada problem ler.. just that depa keep from news

Michael: i think Star published her pictures before. she basically looked like a rat… her fat all gone.

Luis: yeah…its a sad news ler..

Michael: it seems like the stars of our time are tapau-ing one after another. dude, can i blog this conversation? see if people can understand our language…

Luis: i think yes ler.. but what if lydia read this ?

Michael: lydia’s dead dude

Luis: and get upset like XXX ?

[actually, I had a case recently with a friend - whose name I masked with 'XXX' - who got really upset with me for blogging about him. His discontentment has since been allayed with a couple glasses of beer swigging measure]

Michael: you mean, her hantu come and haunt us? ahaha

Luis: ahaha

*****

If you do not understand what we’re talking about, nevermind.

michaelooi  | e-chats  | 5 Comments