Monday, July 31, 2006

English Instructions

This is definitely a nation of non-english speakers which need more help from the Native English Speakers to help them..

Seriously, "Singlish" is a better understood language than "Janglish" both its spoken and written form..


Only in my current job, I am exposed to the strategies and tactics of sales..

When I graduated from University, I didn't know what was it like being a sales person. Beyond the feature of the products, there were multiple other methods and tricks of the trade which a layman wouldn't be aware of..

This is one of the reason I wasn't able to get myself landed as a sales executive or sales engineer..

One of the widely used method is known as upselling..
What is upselling, one might wonder..

There are many dictionaries giving it multiple definitions.
However, I learnt it from the coffeeshop.

Today, I had picked up this skill from the Chicken Rice stall hawker.
I felt like having the local delicacy, so I went to a nearby coffeeshop for lunch.
After ordering my chicken rice with charsiew, the guy taking orders didn't just stop there... He actually tried to upsell me..

He asked if I wanted an egg to go with that..
Upselling also needs experience and survey of the situation.
I presumed he saw that I was not a small sized guy and knowing that I had ordered extras of charsiew on top of my chicken portion, he then decided to upsell.

The egg costed me additional of $0.50 more. Nothing too extravagant. But that would have meant that he had increased the revenue of the stall takings to an additional $0.50. And that was a 14.3% increase over my original price of $3.00 without the egg.

At the same time, he had helped to clear their stock of eggs and reduced the holding costs by one. Now that's upselling.

Another incident also awed me. A visit to a local mobile phone accessories shop.
I went into replace the LCD screen protector for my pocketpc phone.
Costed me $10 bucks. This sales person whom could not be more than 23 years old, actually tried to upsell me by asking me if I wanted to buy a bluetooth headset as well. The "state of the art" bluetooth headset costs up to $120 which was 12x more than the screen protector which I was already buying from him..

He did his survey of the situation, knowing that I use a "state of the art" phone, tried to match my need for "state of the art" gadgets by selling me another accessory. In his attempt, if he was successful, he'd have increased my expenditure of $10 up to another 1200% to $120 dollars.. Thankfully, I'd already owned one of those bluetooth headset. I kindly refused him and respected his effort.

Upselling, is by no means asking a customer to buy more than what he is intending to spend.
Nor is it to sell to a customer an additional item which is in stock and yet not know if the customer do have the need or not.

It is not just a science nor a formula... but an art which takes practice and from the practice, learning new experiences. It is a study of environment, people, interaction and also their body language and outwards expressions.

And this skill, sadly, is not something that can be taught at any instituition.
It has to be learnt through interaction with many people of multiple characters and cultures. Failures are not absolute, and neither is success. And it is a skill that constantly needs sharpening.

I hope this is enlightening for the reader...
Comments if you have more tips and tricks..

Friday, July 28, 2006

Indonesian Handshake

Work calls me for to be in Jakarta for the last week.
I was there with another colleague for about 5 days conducting seminars for several different companies.

Met up with my ex-secondary school classmate, Rusli Maryono Wardjojo, a local Indonesian Chinese. He was a close friend and a buddy. Rusli offered to show us around his city in his Mercedes Benz.

Everywhere we went in a car, we were able to see the "Terus" man.. I gave them the nickname because everytime Rusli has to park his car in the public, there would be this local Indonesian guy that will say to him "TERUS .. TERUS..". "Terus" means "straight" in the local language. In doing that, he is helping my friend to park the car by directing him into the lot. Not that Rusli's parking skills is bad but it was a norm in Indonesia, especially in Jakarta to receive these kind of pseudo-valet service.

And whenever we have to leave the location and drive somewhere else, the "Terus" man will appear again, helping to stop the incoming traffic so as to allow the Mercedes to reverse out of the lot... Of course, this will also mean that the "Terus" man will be giving the "Terus" command to my friend while he stops the incoming traffic..

After which, Rusli's hand will extend out of the window with a "mandatory" tip ranging from 2000-4000 rupiahs (local currency) for the "Terus" man. It's a handshake that will transfer the notes from the driver's hand to the "Terus" man's hand. Rusli tells me this is known as the "INDONESIAN HANDSHAKE".

Everywhere we park the car in a public place, there will be a "Terus" man around, all eager to assist you. These "Terus" men are not employed by government agencies nor officials from the transport authorities.. There are merely locals whom claim the territory and self operate as a "Terus" man.. Though lucrative as it is, and very much territorial in nature, it is also illegal. However, due to the amiable nature of the locals, there doesn't seem to be any gangland wars over these territories for the "Terus" people and there aren't also drivers whom were unwilling to part with their 2000-4000 rupiahs for the service rendered by the "Terus" man. Both parties are happy and there are no conflicts of borders and territories.

It is also due to opportunities like these that still draw villagers from faraway rural areas of Java and Sumatra to come to the capital city of Jakarta. Flooding the city with unemployment and the ever increasing slum areas. It makes me wonder if most of the jobs taken by these rural migrants are not legal or if they are mostly piecemeal work, does the high unemployment rate still stand true?

Anyway, if I were to be stranded in Jakarta, I'd definitely wanna be a "Terus" man, given my limited vocabulary of the local language, I think I'd be able to make it.
"Terus, Kiri, Kanan and Terima Kasih".

Some other interesting facts of Indonesia

In Singapore, we usually address a local malay as "Abang" or "bang" which means "Elder brother". In Jakarta, the locals are commonly addressed as "Mas" which means "Young Men of Java".

Batavia is another old name for Jakarta when it was still a Dutch Colony.

Extract from Wikipedia
Batavia : Dutch settlement on the island of Java. It later became the capital of the Dutch East Indies colony.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Mobile Blogging

Now blogging through my pocketpc phone, my trusty Dopod 818pro via this application "Pocket Blogger".

Hopefully, this will mean that the blog will be updated more often.

Coupled with wifi @ office & home, I shall have the mobility & flexibility to blog even in the toilet.

The only concern is to not drop the phone while creating new entries....else I quote Carl's Junior slogan ....

"It's gonna get messy!"

It's gonna get messy

Monday, July 24, 2006

If you miss, please try again

Another interesting sign that was created, printed and pasted without much thought.

Darn cleaner must be wondering why his workload increased ever since this poster was up.

If you miss, please, Try again!

An interesting followup poster should append to this current one..

"If you miss, please ,FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE, try again"

Signs in JKT

In a place where "AIR" is referred to as a liquid and not a gas,

Superman is not allowed.

No Superman on street please

After much investigation and asking around, it was found out that the "S" means "STOP" and the sign actually means "No Stopping".

However, if you had noticed, all other road signs are in their native languages.
"Stop" in the native language of this place I visited actually is known as "Berhenti".
Using "B" as the abbreviation will confuse with "BAS" which incidentally mean "Bus".

In the confusing conundrum of signages using both english and also the local language, how can the road users be sure what signs actually mean? But I am surprised that though traffic condition is bad, it never comes to a standstill nor did I witness any road accidents... especially when every other vehicle is inching by everyone else...

It is also amazing that when changing lanes in this land, it is better not to signal at all because it just gives another reason for the driver of the adjacent lane to speed up.


It is amazing how ambiguous the word "BORDERS" can be.

Borders define the country and thus unite its people behind them.

Borders also at the same time separate people.

In some cases, when borders become too distinct, people fight.
And in other cases when borders are not distinct, people fight.

Whatever that defined the people, gave just cause for war to happen.
Whatever that didn't define the people, gave just cause to define them and thus having the same conflicts.

In a huge piece of land filled with extensive raw minerals/gases/oil, everyone wants a piece of it. It's also amazing that this is land where many prophets of several religions originated. Unfortunately, peace that were preached by these prophets was never achieved and though these religions spread far and wide across the world, it never helped achieve peace and happiness in the lands of which these religions originated from.

Instead, these religions in its multiple variants became additional reasons for them to fight even more.

You say Allah, I say Amen.
Mine is the Koran, yours is the bible.
You got your precepts, I have my commandments.

Diversity should be celebrated and not a reason to fight about.
For it is the small differences between ourselves that make us unique.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Sublimal Programming of Marketing Campaigns

Ever since I stopped taking taxis, I have been more exposed to the power of mental suggestions.
And this suggestions are mostly sublimal in nature, ie, you will not know that you have been influenced.. These suggestions come in the form of advertisements panels on buses and within bus-stops.

Marketing campaigns to encourage the public to buy more of their product and hence improving their sales. These marketing campaigns often involves the use of famous people to be their spokesperson. To attract the public by telling them that even famous people uses their product.
Sometimes, it also carry sublimal messages that couldn't be deciphered by reading the text alone. Showing a cow in an advertisement poster for milk will sublimally let the audience know that the milk is fresh, even without needed to place the word "FRESH" on any part of the poster.

One such marketing advertisement I saw was about a cultured milk that aids the digestive system. Somehow the sublimal message I get from the advertisement tells me more about enhancing mammary glands more than the digestive system.

Vitagen Less Sugar for enhancing mammary glands


I used to get drink in pubs and clubs.

Nowadays, I can only afford to get drunk in my local coffeeshop.

How's that for economy?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

An entirely unrelated statement

showing off totally unrelated pictures to address current issues..

A statement that the public is crying out loud to the govt that was ironically selected by the public themselves.

This poster was first seen in a bus stop panel in hope that it will change the attitude of the general public on the disabled.

Your negative attitude is our biggest barrier

Signs are everywhere!

We see pictures everyday...
They seemed to be normal advertisements or signages..

But do take a minute and think...
Does these signs/slogans/advertisements mean anything?

How can they relate to our tiny existence.
Do they serve just as marketing strategies for companies to sell more of their goods?

I see them differently...
I try to relate them to whatever that is happening around us..

And I share them with you.

In the recent media blockout of comments from the public in response to MICA's feedback to Mr Brown on rising costs of living, I manage to get this picture while travelling on a bus.

You can still choose... not just every 4 years.

Change may be good!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Every Picture has a meaning

Every picture we see tell a story...

I have visited the male toilet in my office floor countless times in more than 2 years..

I must have stood right below the poster for thousand of times without even noticing it..

This poster, looking at its yellow tint, should be more than 5 or 6 years old..

It is attached to the wall by means of some adhesive, probably doublesided tape.
And it is right above the urinal.. which makes the message which the poster wanted to bring across so darn clear!

Even before the public was aware of the plan for recycled water... there were already subtle hints given by the respective agencies.

The future is in your hands..
Use wisely.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

I am Singaporean

I am a Singaporean.
I studied in England thanks to my dad.
My english can be powderful,
But I rhyme better in hokkien than in english.
When I die, the face of my ashes urn will tell you my provincial roots in China,
not Singapore.

I am an engineer, and I still cannot afford a car.
I feel progress but it seems like more weight to the existing ball & chain I have on both my legs.
I take the public transport.But due to rising cab fares, my 18mth old daughter have to be cruelly woken up at 7am so we can bring her by 3 trips of bus to the nanny.
It is a change of lifestyle but my wife, my baby daughter and I have to accept this change.

One day, my daughter will grow up.
Though she cannot understand now,
Why both of her parents have to work and spend so little time with her,
Why she is on the bus most of the time that we are with her,
Why she dont get to see her mummy more than her nanny.
I will work my whole life for her..
I hope I can provide her her to learn French, Bahasa Melayu and perfect her mother tongue, Mandarin.
So she will have better life than me.

I am often known by me online alter ego, FarBird.
I am Franklin Neo in real life.
Whatever name you choose to call me...
I was Singaporean and I am Singaporean.

So Say We All...
So Say We All...

Other "I am Singaporean" podcasts below.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Fares up, no free speech, National day

Not sure if anyone read the "voices" column every Friday by this
guy known as Mr Brown.

He did an article on progress vs rising cost of living

Also seen in his blog here

The following monday, he was slammed by MICA Press Secretary
feedback in the same papers.

The contents of the feedback replicated here

Issue raised were rising cost of living and rising cost of public

I left some comments and would like my friends to see and appreciate
I also submitted the same letter to feedback but
apparently it wasnt published on Tuesday. In fact, the papers didnt
even publish a single feedback with regards to this issue.

also seen here but u need to search for "franklin"

And here is another comment from me in this forum
---Extract from HWZ forum---
Every ride will cost $2.50 when u board the cab.
For every 210m below 10km, it will charge $0.10 instead of the
previous $0.10 per 225m.
for every 175m above 10km, it will charge $0.10 instead of the
previous $0.10 per 200m

Today, I will make it my personal mission to boycott taxis.

To make my point that Govt must take care of the public that voted
for them... and not ensure the interests of the companies that the
govt had invested heavily in..

I ask of you , humble reader, to join me too.

Last night, I walked about 2km with my daughter in arm so I can have
1 bus trip lesser.

Not because for exercise or for health sake... but for the fact that
I choose not to be milked any further than necessary by these arms
of govt.


The link below was my most recent comment on this issue.

On how much I have to spend on transport every month.

This link below is a podcast by Mr Brown, after the MICA letter

Apparently, this podcast was done for National Day and it sings the
songs of all middle class Singaporeans. I wept in office after
hearing the podcast...

Another supporter made a video and posted on youtube in retaliation to MICA reply

I may just be a speck of sand on the beach.....and the coastline is
receding fast.

My flag won't be flying this year...
You have a choice always...