Review on Toastmasters Project 8: My Love Affair

I did my Toastmasters Project 8 on the 17th March 2017. I felt better about this presentation than I was on Project 7. It seems that I will have to focus more on the introduction and conclusion to ensure that I start and end with a BANG! I will need to learn how to be more creative to use visual aids and maybe add a bit of humor.

The evaluator graded me based on the following:

  1. What was mentioned?: Love affair with Netflix. Three props were used to support her message
  2. What was memorable?: Use of language using rheotorical devices. Using natural humor in words and irony
  3. What was mendable?: Improve on usage of props to exemplify your message. Props that can be used througout the speech.Use of props in a stronger conclusion to deliver your message.

What could the speaker have done differently to make the speech more effective?

  • Use or choose one or two props that could exemplify your message to make it more memorable rather than one off event

What did you like about the speech?

  • Link the props back to the key message during your conclusion
  • Fun topic
  • Good use of language and humor
  • Audience enjoyed your speech

Pathways: Dynamic Leadership 1: Evaluation & Feedback: How travelling shapes and transforms you

Happy New Year, my friends, fellow toastmasters and guests! It’s that time of the year again, where we all recover from vacations. Criteo, a performance marketing company, reported that Singaporeans took an average of 5.2 trips in the past 12 months. That translates to an average of one trip every two months. Despite the frequent travel, do we really know the real value of traveling? Or are we just traveling because we need time off, and hence we make plans to travel ?

Ever since I decided to start traveling solo, since about four years ago, I have learnt countless lessons. For a start, traveling exposes you to various communications styles. I am not talking about verbal communications but all forms of communications as well. I have been in Germany where I had to practice my German and made a cuckoo out of myself.

Thankfully, the locals were patient enough as I had to juggle between my dictionary and maps. That’s the good thing about spontaneous traveling, you get to focus on select ideas and also be flexible enough to change according to the various circumstances or factors. In this case, time, weather and personal interests. I can’t be visiting all 16 states in Germany in two weeks, so I decided to focus on the Bavarian region with priority given to nature.

In my humble opinion, travelling makes one modest. Humble in a sense, you have to remain curious and ask questions of people who may understand or know the city better than you do. In my recent trip, I took a train from Munich to Salzburg and made new local friends along the way. I asked for recommendations for local attractions. As I am such an avid trekker, I was urged to trek an untouched mountain 30 minutes away from the city centre.

I was told it was an easy walk. When I got to the destination, I was all alone, and the whole forest felt like mine. The land was really untouched. I was trekking all on my own till I met a local person along the way, when I was almost reaching the top. So yes, I trekked on my own by accident. But that aside, I don’t just gain freedom, but also new friendships plus knowledge about the city, Salzburg without the need of a tour guide! Am I lucky or what?

Living out of a suitcase, is worth the time and money. Traveling opens up the wonders of our world. I love the idea of how traveling connects us with culture. When in Australia, people go crazy over beef steak, animal sanctuaries. In Europe, we go crazy over cheese, how they solve socio economic problems and most importantly, chocolates. In Asia, we talk about exquisite food with their strong flavours.

What we don’t realize is, how traveling to explore far places actually brings us closer to who we really are. When we are born, we don’t have any social perceptions or stereotypes. We accept everything by heart. Then there are social actors such as families, schools, environments and governments that dictate our perception of life. But they forgot that we all have personalities and identities. For instance, we are proud Singaporeans. We are proud of our chilli crab, skyscrapers and strict regulations. Germans are proud of their beer. The French are always saying their country is better than any other in Europe.

It is only when we step into their country, that we put ourselves in their shoes, we start to see how close we actually are and how we share the same joys about similar things in life. We cannot change our nationality or languages. But we can always open our eyes and minds to understand the various historical, geographical, social and cultural effects of their different lifestyle practices.

Thomas Paine travelled and said “my country is my world, and my religion is to do good”. 1400 years ago, Muhammad said “Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have travelled”.

My dear friends, I have travelled, you have travelled. Travel has inspired me to know countries, culture, languages and build communities. Most importantly, to do what I can to make a difference. In Germany, I was impressed at how the country does their best in terms of recycling. I try to recycle my things much more often than I used to before. In other words, it has helped me to become a better citizen of this planet and hopefully a better person when you reconnect with yourself. And I hope it can do the same for you.

Thank you.

How to speak eloquently

One of my personal goals this month is to work on personal branding. I will be reaching out to friends who are successful in their own right and people I see as mentors to guide me as I work towards being a better person. For this article, I will be writing tips which I find useful and action plans that I will performing to speak better and improve my arguments.

Tip 1: Practice Enunciation and Pronunciation

Many of you are not aware that I am currently learning German. One of the things that I struggle with (Not the gender) but getting the pronunciation right. The advice that I received from my German teacher is to practice speaking daily. Don’t be afraid to open your mouth wide in order to improve your enunciation.

Now, I dedicate 15 minutes daily to either speak in front of the mirror or listen to podcast and read the manuscript.

Tip 2: Avoid Swearing

This is a no brainer, but I still hear people cursing in professionally settings. Reserve your ‘venting out’ to after work and mind your manners outside.

Tip 3: Choose your words wisely

A continuation from point 2. I usually pinch the fleshy area between my thumb and index finger when I am nervous or when someone is getting on my nerves.

When you speak, ensure people can understand you speak simply so others are not intimated by you. When needed, improve your arguments. When you can do this, you are making others included and people will not find you unapproachable and showing off.

I find that listening to audiobooks, and watching Tedtalks or other shows seem to improve the way I communicate. Hopefully they are useful for you too.

Tip 4: Speak without filters

Filters are words we use between words. They may not necessary be bad although my mentors at Toastmasters will disagree. I don’t deny that good speeches don’t use filters. However, filters are often used when people are struggling with what to say or rather they are thinking of what to say next.

An easy way to avoid this is to speak slowly. Form the sentence in your head before saying it. For German, I have to write it down first before saying it. I’m far from perfect in this aspect. Filters usually occur between thoughts and when the sentence changes. So instead of saying “umm” or “like” just pause…and continue with your story.

Let me know if you have other tips.

Tip 5: Control your volume

We need to control our indoor and outdoor voices. Be considerate when you speak and avoid turning heads. They are often soft spoken and often times the person listening to them needs to lean in a bit to hear more about them. Never boasts and never yells.

Tip 6: Speaking with kindness and grace

Elevate the success of others and be humble with yours. They know their manners: they know when to speak, when to listen, and when to interrupt. The goal is to sound pleasant with your words and make sure others feel enlightened, not unimpressed after speaking to you.

Be kind to others at all times. Know when to keep your silence. You can be honest and strong, but not rude.

Summary of How to Negotiate by Christopher Copper IND

How to negotiate – Christopher Copper IND

One of the most important skills I have learnt this year is learning to negotiate effectively. Negotiation is not only useful in meeting rooms, bargaining for items while one is shopping in markets, hostage crises, conflict resolution and the list goes on.

As the saying goes, ‘ The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people halfway’ .

Personally, I believe that one should always strive to improve on one’s communication skills, inside out. For 2019, I choose to focus on negotiation skills. After completing a negotiation course and reading a couple of books on negotiation, here are some summaries I have gathered for myself. Of course, the content may change over time depending on the stage or situation I am in when I redo or re read the course or books, but in general, here are some of the key points. This time round, I am avoiding mind maps due to lack of time.

  1. Chapter 0 – Understanding negotiation

What is negotiation?

  • Art of compromise, while knowing what you want, going after it and being mindful of the other person in the process
  • Useful life skill
    • Power to resolve differences into beneficial agreements
    • On average, people negotiate 2-5 times daily
  • How do we learn to negotiate?
  • Prepare for the negotiation
  • Have self – awareness about your opponent
  • Knowledge on strengths and weaknesses, what he can forgo and Must Haves and Good to Have
  1. Culture:
    • British – Setting one ‘s cards as the last resort (Not efficient)
      1. Preference on using understatement and humor
    • French, Dutch and some others – Slow process as they tend to over analyze
    • German – Expect opponent to be on time and tend to do thorough research
      1. Very logic driven
    • Arabs – Enjoys getting to know their opponents before discussing business, at times can be emotional and circuitous
    • Singapore – Fast and furious
    • Chinese – numerous meetings to understand the proposal and the decision will be made on later date without any interaction with the other party
      1. If the deal is to proceed – they will lay down the terms and conditions in a take it or leave it manner
    • Indians – May play ambiguity along the way
  2. Good listening skills:
  3. Power imbalances
  4. What are the deal breakers?
  • Learning curve – Every negotiation is unique in its own way
  1. Identification of the possibility
  2. Find the people who can make it happen
  3. Types of negotiation
  • Bargaining – Dispute the cost of an item
  • Distributive negotiation:
  • Hard bargaining, zero sum brand of negotiation where both sides adopt from an extreme position and they seek to yield as little as possible
    1. Not commonly used in corporate business
    2. Eg: bargaining the price of a carpet where there is a fixed price, Donald Trump’s style
  • Integrative Negotiation
  1. Integrative or principled negotiation
  2. Tends to expand value to mutual benefit rather than as a fixed entity
    • Usually results in a gain on each side and strive towards achieving mutual interests
    • End goal – satisfies both parties while maintaining strong relations
    • May comprise of some elements from distribute negotiation
  3. Notes:
  • What’s in it for them instead of What’s in it for me?
  • Remain focused on the outcome
  • Leave the boardroom with strong and positive relations
  • Achieve the middle
  • Understand the power and how it works in negotiation


  1. Chapter 1 – Power & Psychology
    1. Psychology of negotiation
      • Empathy – driving force behind negotiation
        • Definition – the experience of understanding another person’s thoughts and feelings and conditions from their perspective instead of your own
        • Exercise empathy to gain trust and integrity
      • Power
        • Definition
          1. Ability or capacity to do something or act in a particular way
          2. Ability or capacity to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events
        • Successful negotiation uses a balance of power
          1. Redistribute power between yourself and your opponent
          2. Use it to open up possibilities within negotiations, enabling holders to control the agenda, course taken by proceedings and shapes the final outcome
          3. Information is power
        • Managing states of mind
          • Managing expectations is the central part of managing expectations
          • Concession or refusal may bring about a difference in consequences
        • Taking control
          • Draft the agenda in a particular order
          • Hosting the negotiation venue
            1. Setting up seating arrangement
            2. Formal or casual (round table for small group or long table for big group)
            3. Careful of mixing two sides together
            4. Use time as an advantage
              1. Short and efficient process
              2. Set a tight, workable timeframe that suits you agenda and stick to it
  • Using information
    • Do your research and be well informed (Be knowledgeable about what the other side lacks)
    • Don’t just be focused on the deal
  • Things to avoid
    • Mentioning your price
      1. You can mention the parameters in the early stages of the negotiation so that you can easily progress with confidence
    • Acrimony/ Ambiguity
    • Greed – Remember your opponent needs to get something out of it
    • Emotion
      1. Don’t reveal too much
      2. Don’t take it personally
  1. Chapter 2 – Essential Skills
    1. Observe everything
      • Make eye contact
      • Understand first what is motivating both of you
      • Observe yourself and your opponent
      • Body language, emotions, motivations
    2. Never forget the power of silence, that massively disconcerting pause which goes on and on and may at last induce an opponent to babble and backtrack nervously
    3. Know what you want to achieve prior to starting to negotiate
    4. Be open to adaptive skillsets:
      • Observe – Be alert to your opponent, their behavior and their language
      • Speak – But only when appropriate
        • Practice speaking slowly
        • Keep sentences short
        • Use plenty of full stops
        • Be alert to your tome
          1. Believe in the offer that you are making
          2. Match your tone to the situation
        • Question – Ask questions that are pertinent and timely
          • Skillful questioning (Curiosity, Engagement)
            1. Encourage questioning ( two way street)
            2. Smart questioning and empathize
            3. Frame questions and a pause 3 seconds before questioning to show importance
          • Listen – take note of what you are being told and learn to use it
          • Use Silence – Pause to prompt, disconcert and buy time to think
          • Make decisions – Forge decisions in the course of negotiation and keep to them
            • Joint decision making process and timelines to solve problems
            • Trust your own judgement
            • One can practice by using role plays with colleagues
          • Prioritize – Keep those aims in view and in perspective
          • Apply assertiveness – Be firm without offending, use leverage to good effect
          • Solve problems – Recognize when problems are arising and know how to tackle them
          • Avoid emotions – Learn to maintain diplomacy and a clam exchange in acutely stressful situations


  1. Chapter 3 – Know your enemy
    1. Understand their motivation, culture, ambitions, values
    2. Establish good relations with them and develop focus points
    3. Use this to anticipate their tactics
    4. Perspective taking
      • Understand or adopt their perspective
      • Be able to step outside the constraints of their own immediate, biased frames of references
      • Perspectives can provide insights as to how deals should be structured
    5. Research, research your opponent
    6. Establish boundaries
      • Keep in contact
      • Define the boundaries of the prospective deal
      • Ensure both parties lay out their cards (goals, expectations etc)
    7. Agendas and motivation
      • Be transparent about your goals, targets and discuss with opponent
      • reassure them that you are the right partner


  1. Chapter 4 – Strategy
    1. Definition
      • A plan of action designed to achieve long term or overall aim
      • Art of planning and directing overall military operations and movements in a war or battle
      • For negotiation – a plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal
      • Address your needs (or more) before your opponent takes advantage of you
    2. Strategic thinking
      • Defines the way people think about, assess, shape and create the future
      • Relies upon mastering a series of critical and interrelated skills
      • 11 strategic thinking skills
        • Use logic (left) and creative (right) of the brain
        • The ability to think with a strategic purpose while creating a vision of their direction
          1. Blend the two skills
        • Clearly define the objectives and align them to timelines
        • Able to integrate plans with flexibility by having milestones which they can revise plans along the way
        • Being proactive and anticipate change and challenge status quo
        • Perception: Recognize subtle clues to inform and guide their strategic direction
        • Lifelong learning – Being inquisitive and curious
        • Actively seek out advice from others
        • Creativity is combined with sharp sense of realism
          1. Being alert to what one can achieve in short, medium or longer term
        • Non judgmental
        • Have limitless capacity for patience, being mindful that ideas and strategies take time to develop
  1. Implementation
    • Often starts with business plan
    • Most popular – SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats)
      • Embrace any weaknesses and threats
  1. Aligning strategy with situation
    • Match strategy to a situation and ensure that is grounded in reality
    • STARS Model
      • Start up, Turn – around, realignment, sustaining process
      • Often used by strategic planners ahead of negotiators to figure out the background of proposed deal
  1. Types of negotiation strategy:
    • Integrative (interest based) or principled negotiation
      • Built on trust
      • Aim for win win
      • Common problem solving approach
    • Distributive negotiation ( hard bargaining)
  2. Tactics
    • Can be used to enforce power dynamics
      • Used by those with power/ confidence and apply pressure on their opponents
      • Key tactics
        1. Preparation: Crucial research
          1. Establish their competitors’ pricings and offers
        2. Initiative: Draft the first version of any agreement
        3. Goodwill: Keep negotiations courteous and positive in tone
          1. Establish a good long term relationship
        4. Listen instead of talking too much
        5. Understand the dynamics at play
          1. Identify who has the leverage and what are their constraints in terms of time and scope
          2. Be clear as to what advantages which side holds
        6. Be prepared to walk away if terms are not attractive and appear immovable
          1. Back up your arguments with research beforehand
        7. Time: Manage time well (Make sure its time efficient and effective)
        8. Send a letter of intent if no contract is signed
          1. Summarize and record main points gleaned from the negotiations
        9. Ask plenty of questions
        10. Always counter. Never accept the first offer
        11. Lay the groundwork to avoid instances of buyer’s response
        12. Break out sessions
          1. Pauses can give off the record time for both sides to think and reflect
        13. Salaries
          1. If you don’t ask, you don’t get mindset
          2. Be well informed before making the first move
            1. Go first if the employer is concerned about his costs
            2. Set your figure in context
            3. Keep it realistic and avoid ultimatum
          3. Chapter 5 – Key Stages
            1. Preparation and planning
              • Every negotiation is unique
              • Better to prepare as a team to ensure everyone is along the same line and minimizing chances of straying
              • Establish your aims and variables, they can be discussed in early stages as well. There may be others depending on type of deal. Give the counterparts time to consider the variables
                • Pricing/ Fee
                • Delivery: When & Where
                • Volume and scale
                • Contract
                • Payment terms
  1. Defining the rules
    • Avoid tension and chaos
    • Put in some rules to remind both parties of the agreed limitations of the deal
    • A set of rules to define topics of discussion, allocated timeframe, no of sessions, place etc
  2. Clarifications and problem solving
    • Aim: Find a working solution not just an agreement
    • Ensure that agreed solution can be implemented and iron out issues
    • Discuss the process to clear up any misunderstandings
  3. Bargaining
    • Avoid openings with extreme positions but adopt an opening position that works for you but manages the other side’s position
    • Use the knowledge you have, insights and market intelligence to gauge a realistic opening position
    • Plan to concede a minimum to get the deal through and end with both sides content
  4. Closure and implementation
    • Try to deal with the person most qualified for the deal
    • Be realistic
    • Create a sense of momentum
      • Set a dateline
      • Time constraints can be a leverage
    • Sit down with a colleague who is familiar with the deal and brainstorm any objections
    • Role play with your colleague to see what they have came up with and what you have missed out on


  1. Chapter 6: Cultural Differences
    1. International business deals cross both borders and cultures
    2. Learn about the culture in advance
    3. Let the host know in advance your key points and send them a message saying you are looking forward to meet them
    4. Time is money for Americans, while Asians want to take things slowly to build trust
    5. Observe local customs and etiquette
    6. Bring more business cards with you (Give with both hands in Asia)
    7. Sometimes you will have to speak in the foreign language or have a translator
      • Stay calm, polite and focused on your strategy
      • Always clarify when sensing a misinterpretation
      • Be a sensitive listener and ask appropriate questions
    8. Get your bearings right and learn some local history
    9. Other forms of communications
      • More direct and simple dialogue VS indirect and convoluted approaches
      • Style & Diplomacy: Being prepared and knowing what to expect and how to react
      • Always a good idea to under estimate and over deliver
      • Silence: Count to ten (Silent way of showing disapproval and a great way to keep on negotiating)
    10. Body language: Maintain a good posture and assume your opponent is a good reader of body language
      • Do your homework before you arrive and take your cue from your opponent
      • Mirror them to steer you through
      • Be punctual or arrive way earlier at the venue, allocating time for traffic


  1. Chapter 7: The Deal
    1. Eight core principles:
      • Keep calm
      • Be patient
      • Stay focused
      • Work to eliminate ambiguity or misunderstanding
      • Buy time if necessary
      • Remain in control of your emotions and your body language
      • Be firm and clear while avoiding aggression
    2. Decide on the break even point before you sit at the table, then set the negotiations to open at the maximum sustainable position
    3. How to pitch
      • Maintain a studious anticipation
      • Avoid conflict by identifying your opponent’s threshold (Bolstering range)
      • Know the value of your anticipated outcome
      • Patience and calm persistence are necessary to outlast your opponent
      • Remain focused on the goals
      • Aim high (Let the opponent go first)
        • Lend them a certain legitimacy
        • Broaden the deal
        • Be alert to opportunities
          1. Barters
          2. Sharing of technology etc
        • Avoid telling the other side why you choose them over their opponents and talk on why you want to do business with them
      • What to ask for
        • Requests have to be realistic and you must have the capacity to deliver
      • Countenance
        • Maintain a cool, calm and collected exterior to curb your enthusiasm
        • Control the way you deliver the message to ensure they got the correct message
        • Learning to stay calm and focused will help you make decisions with a cool head
        • If things aren’t going well, looking nonplussed can leave your opponent feeling awkward
          1. Can undermine their own pitch
          2. Don’t yawn and maintain eye contact
          3. Act like you can make the deal work
        • The Contract
          • Clauses and payment terms are clearly stated
          • Clarify the identity of the parties involved
          • Hire a lawyer
            1. May slow things down
            2. Hired by the other side
          • Conflict
            • Keep post negotiation conflicts to a minimum
            • Speaking on the phone is a good way to clear up misunderstandings
            • Present yourself as on the ball on side and trustworthy
            • Expectations should be aired in early stages
            • Causes of conflict
              1. Sound research can reduce the number of conflicts
              2. Imbalances of power
                1. Recognize your position of power but apply your leverage with great care
  • Conflict resolution strategies
    1. Separate interests and look at problems on each side
    2. Try to ascertain what your opponent attaches to his various positions, as a way to break the impasse
    3. Try to build relationships through common grounds or interests
    4. Focus on shared values first
    5. Don’t let differences between you fester
    6. 5 ways to respond to conflicts (completed through assertiveness or cooperation) :
      1. Competition
      2. Compromise
  • Avoidance
  1. Collaboration
  2. Accommodation
  3. Mediators as a 3rd party to resolve conflicts
  • Time and timing
    1. Firm dateline should be established at the start
  • Walking away
    1. Got to be careful as it is the most overused and easily misunderstood
    2. Alternative: better off to explain your stand and the reasons why you cannot accept their offer
    3. Thank them for their time

Let every eye negotiate for itself and trust no agent. A thorough research and positive attitude paves the way to a more trusting relationship regardless of the outcome.

Along the way remember to:

  1. Prepare, prepare, prepare
  2. Identify common ground and be prepared to concede in principle
  3. Maintain frequent communications throughout
  4. Remain calm and courteous
  5. Look over the contract like a hawk

Remember that negotiation brings people together to make something happen.



Reflection on Coursera Course – Design for Innovation

Example Reflection – Storytelling

Storytelling is a tool I use all the time, one of the most useful skill sets that I use all the time and intend to improve over time. As a business analyst cum consultant, I often use this technique to get people to open up and tell me their thoughts, ideas and concerns. I usually do this over a cup of coffee, outside of the office, so they feel more comfortable to open up. Once this is over, I use the information I got and transformed them into ideas to improve or develop the functionalities of the software tools we developed for our clients.

Application – From What to Why

I have numerous stories about storytelling in my short career of five years. A common example would be driving the adoption of technology of all of the software that fall under my care. Usually, I would have regular one to one catch up over coffee or have a conference call with each one of them regularly if they are not based in the same country as me.

There was an incident where our stakeholders in South East Asia (SEA) were not embracing the analytics tool that we have developed for them. So I arranged a video conference with the main stakeholder in each of the countries in SEA to understand their concerns. Turned out that there was a lack of adoption because of lack of training and lack of follow up to understand their future concerns.

Approach and Insight

So during most of the conference calls or what I call ‘catch ups’, I would listen to their thought process and concerns. Turned out that our stakeholders or rather users of our tools are worried about their job security. The analytics applications that we developed will at least shorten their job tasks by 50% while numerous tasks will be automated, such as email scheduling and running reports based on the filters they want.

This was an eye opener although I was not that surprised.  Upon understanding this major concern, I had to reassure them that their jobs are still secured while their main job tasks may have shifted towards providing insights to the sales and marketing teams.  This also means that we had to create additional materials on how they can provide insights to their respective sales and marketing teams such as using color codes and understanding the nature and purpose of the reports. At the same time, we developed a self-service component of the tools to encourage users to explore ways they can further contribute to their teams. As such, we were able to drive adoption of the applications and improve the working lifestyle of our users and stakeholders. The long term benefits, everyone makes better use of their time and fully contribute at work and grow their skill sets.

I never thought that storytelling will allow me to not just deliver my work duties, but it is a truly great feeling when you improve the quality of life for others. Indeed, Albert Camus was right when he said ‘There is no happiness if the things we believe in are different from the things we do’.

Speech for my lovely cousin wedding..

Ladies & Gentlemen,

I am Farah, Fizah’s cousin and one of the bridesmaids. I have been asked to speak a few words for this joyous occasion of the wedding of Fizah and Tkt.

Having grown together naturally we become more like close sisters. We share stories, secrets, ups and downs on top of our usual monthly brunches. 11 years ago, Fizah told us a few times about the man standing next to her now, but we never really meet him until we sent her off at the airport, at that time I think she was on her way to Chiang Mai for a voluntary trip. God, he was so shy, hiding in some corner, refusing to meet the anxious cousins.

11years on, look at you now. From someone so shy, you have grown to be so mature, patient and chubbier, ready to take on the world. I think I can see that from the way you took care of Fizah when she was hospitalized and how patient you were with her when we travelled together, in fact, even with the antics that our crazy family often had on you! One advice though, do not ever question her decision, because one of them is you!

My dear Fizah, such a beautiful bride you are today. I couldn’t wish for a better cousin and words can’t describe how much you mean to us. The whole family is proud of you and we are excited for today. Sometimes, I wondered who is getting married you or our mothers. I love the both of you and look forward to our lives together.

Marriage is not about finding a person you can live with, it’s about finding the person you can’t live without. You have both found that person. You guys have been through so much together and we know you will do whatever it takes to make it work. May your love always find its way back to each other. May you both be garments of one another, protecting and shielding each other today, tomorrow and in the hereafter.

TKT, today, we officially welcome you to our family. From your in laws, to my family and on behalf of Aunty, Uncle and Cik Ajak, our homes are yours, our hearts are yours.

May Allah, the Al-Malik raise your home. May He make your marriage the best thing that ever happened to you. Happy married life.

Evaluation for Pathways Project 3: Dynamic Leadership: ‘Sell Yourself’ by Brand

I did my Pathways Level 1 Project 3 on the 20th April 2018. I was a lot more calm when it came to delivery. However, I  forgot most of lines and thus, the structure of the speech was messed up when I started speaking. I think I will need to practice more and improve on techniques to remember the lines better.

Here are the feedback given by the evaluator.

  1. You excelled at: Good delivery and good command of English
  2. You may want to work on: Practice more as there were many pause filters. Work on structure of the speech to have a bit more opening, body and conclusion.
  3.  To challenge yourself: Suppose to incorporate previous feedback. You should have mentioned previous feedback at the start of the speech.


Pathways Project 3: Feedback: Dynamic Leadership: ‘Sell Yourself’ by Brand

Good evening, fellow Toastmasters, guests and friends, I have a miracle pill to sell you. It will help you win more, earn more, be happier, have more fulfilling relationships and most importantly, be you. It’s a revolutionary new pharmaceutical product called ‘Sell yourself’ by Brand. Just one dose a day, will allow you to change your life and maybe open up more doors for you to change the lives of others.

All jokes aside, every one of us in this room has been judged before. It is human nature, after all, to judge those who naturally do not do what we do, or do not compile to our way of thinking. Many times in my life, I have been judged by people whom I hardly know – not good enough, not confident enough, not assertive enough, they say. In the past, it used to hurt me. Or even make me feel angry. Who are they to judge me? What do they know about me? I would scream in my head, lots of noise, lots of neural activity, lots of clutter in my head.

But isn’t that where the problem lies? They hardly know me. And so, I decided to change things – and the way I decided to do it is by creating a personal brand – an image that I would want the outside world to carry of me. I am not talking about money, number of followers, qualifications. The whole world has achieved more than me. I am talking about making an impact, having a reputation that is in your good name. What people would say about you when you are not there. That’s your share price on the stock market of life.

Often enough, early in the morning, when it is still dark outside around 5.30am, I would think about my plans for the day and think about how I want to tell my compelling story. Once I am done, I would get ready. For some people, they put one their powerful suits, makeup, shoes or have a cup of coffee. For me, I prefer to get to office early to gauge the room, audience  and body language. If need be, change the delivery.

What about me? I like solving problems. I love interacting with people. I am not talking about getting things done. I am talking about knowing each one of them as a person, understanding their concerns and problems. Then, I will try to deliver a little bit more than expected, at least, whenever your timeline allows it. That’s probably the reason why I am a consultant.

What about you? Have you thought about who you really are ? What are you good at?

How do you live by design not by default? How do you get started?

  1. Feel -Be self-aware of your emotions, where you want to be, who you want to be
    • Take ownership of your thoughts, goals, problems
  2. Say – Tell your story with your life..
    • Get their attention
    • Make sure it is memorable
  3. Think & Do – Think of how you can benefit others and be relevant to them

Know the weapons that you have. Don’t just talk about talents and qualifications. That’s putting in a grey box where it is difficult to stand out. Fight a different battle, using your unique DNA that is your own expertise, your knowledge that I don’t even dream of.

Your personal brand is actually your website, the way you deal with people, the way you talk, your dress code. Its all the messages that people gather about you when they interacted with you. That’s your red box.

Lastly, you should always work on expanding your network,. Let more people know more about you. Share your ideas and expertise with the world. Don’t be the world’s best kept secret. Focus on being the authentic you for everyone else is taken. Focus on that red box and hopefully we all continue to touch other lives in every phase of our lives and someday be the number one to go person for what you do.

You all have a piece of paper and a pen with you? Write down your chief aim and everything else in your head. Put it in your wallet or hang it on your wall. Remind yourselves to live that way now. You can change it later. But do it consciously and deliberately.

Thank you.


Review on Rework by Jason Fried and David Hansson

I finished Rework on my first leg of flight on the way to Munich. That means seven hours in flight. That was how easy the book was written by Jason Fried and David Hansson.

Technology has disrupted the way we work. We all know that. We moved from industrial economy to informational and perhaps gig economy. However, the expectations on how we should work, where and when have not changed with the times.

2017 was a challenging year for me. If it was not for God’s grace, encouragement and support from parents and close friends, I probably would not have the courage to pull through. I have learnt a lot of lessons from this year, I would say the most by far. The vacation I took to Munich was not just a much needed one, but I would like to think that I was reborn if not a changed person. I have learnt to trust the process and let the universe to do its thing – that is after all effort has been put. However, at the same time, we need to learn to adapt in the ever changing environment – it can be country or a new company. Simply because there is no one size fits all box and people change over time. Learning to deal with such factors not only make us more confident but more empathic as well.

Rework shows us an easier, faster if not a better way to be more productive. In fact, we don’t need a lot to achieve what we want to achieve. Planning is good, but plans are useless if you don’t start working. I would think this is useful not only for entrepreneurs but for typical employees like me.

Having a strong faith in our ambitions, products is the fundamental of the business or core value. Others may think that competitors can deliver better, but we should not always comply to clients’ requests if they are unreasonable and cannot be delivered within an agreed time frame. Having a strong belief that the business will succeed starts from living it!

In any case, the authors broke down some critical concepts that I think we should follow. You can refer to the mind map below.

Evaluation for Pathways Project 2: Dynamic Leadership: How travelling shapes and transforms you

I did my second Pathway speech on the 19th January 2018. It was a week after I got back from my vacation and I was still recovering from cold and sore throat. Thankfully I did not exceed the time limit of seven minutes and was not coughing too much during that duration.

In general, I heard laughter in between my speech so that is good. It means that the audience are engaged as the topic is very much relevant. A senior toastmaster told me to stick to conversational type of speeches as they suit me well. I believe I will need to rehearse a little more before my presentation to ensure smooth transition of the speech. I would also need to work on linking the points together.

Here are the comments by the evaluator:

I excelled at: 

  • Choice of topic: Travel as the audience can relate to it easily
  • Painted a vivid picture even without the slides

You may want to work on:

  • Rehearsing the speech because there are many pause fillers. Refer to evaluation criteria in the next page

To challenge yourself:

  • Record and playback the video to spot the errors for improvements
  • Overall a good job on the speech

Notes from evaluation form:

  1. Clarity: Spoken language is clear and is easily understood:
    • Exemplary
    • Vivid and colourful language
  2. Vocal Variety: Uses tone, speed and volume as tools
    • Excels
    • Could have added more excitement
  3. Eye Contact: Effectively uses eye contact to engage audience
    • Excels
    • Could have moved across the stage
  4. Audience Awareness: Demonstrates awareness of audience engagement and needs
    • Exemplary
  5. Comfort Level: Appears comfortable with the audience
    • Exemplary
  6. Interest: Engages audience with interesting, well – constructed content
    • Exemplary