16th Mar2009

A Different Kind of Currency

by Dorothy

With headlines about the bleak state of the economy dominating the news, it is quite difficult not to feel discouraged about the situation. Nevertheless, here are a couple of links to some good reads.

A different kind of currency
Lets talk about a different kind of currency, one that is not financial, but financially linked.

Will Online Volunteers Transform Our Economic Recovery?
Josh Bernoff is the co-author of “
Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies“.

“A pessimist sees value erosion. But the value’s not gone, it’s just different. The consumer/creators get paid for their contribution in love, admiration, pride and a sense of belonging.”

“The online social world is driven by free, volunteer activity. Now add a horde of unemployed and underemployed digital talent, both those laid off and new college graduates who, when they reach the doorstep of the job market, find a sign that says “Sorry, We’re Closed.” While they wait for better jobs to appear, they’re going to invent online tools that supplant the current ones — tools whose modus vivendi is emotional, not financial.”

You know you truly have someone’s passion when they would be doing it for free anyway. Intrinsic motivation is hard to beat, easier to sustain in the long run. Will we see a surplus of innovative tools as digital talent fuel the volunteer economy? Only time will tell.

What people want – a “good job”
Here is another read on
Global Migration Patterns and Job Creation.
The article details that what people really aspire for is a good job. Given that employment levels are at an all time high, there are no surprises there. As the world moves beyond the basic needs in Maslow’s hierarchy, it is only natural that other qualitative factors come into play in determining one’s fulfillment in life.

This article makes for a good manifesto that leaders of countries, education, lawmakers, military leaders, amongst the few listed, could look into, as we try and move out from the current crisis. It also looks into the driving forces behind global migration and how best to tap into this trend of mobile talent.

“Love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness.” Work is crucial to every adult human because work holds within it the soul of the relationship of one citizen to one government and one country. The most important World Poll discovery, so far, is that the primary driver of almost everyone is a “good job.” This particular condition relates to net migration in high-income countries and GDP growth in low-income countries, but it is also a core influence of elections, revolution, and war.”

“…A successful team of global leaders will need both state-of-the-art classic economics, such as GDP, inflation, population, and birth rates and state-of-the-art behavioral economics, such as law and order, citizen engagement, and well-being to affect the migration patterns of the most talented people and create the next global economic empire.”

Time for a “less selfish” capitalism?
The concept of progress is questioned in this article.

“…despite massive wealth creation, happiness has not risen since the 1950s in the US or Britain or (over a shorter period) in western Germany. No researcher questions these facts. So accelerated economic growth is not a goal for which we should make large sacrifices. In particular, we should not sacrifice the most important source of happiness, which is the quality of human relationships – at home, at work and in the community. We have sacrificed too many of these in the name of efficiency and productivity growth.”

love_currencyThese reads were pretty thought provoking for me, and I do wonder how this situation we are all in will play out. Of particular interest for me would be how technology can help to connect talent around the world, so that physical migration is no longer necessary.

The reasons are, of course partially personal, and ones that I will expand on in future posts!

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07th Mar2009

The “Difference” Factor – Why it matters…and why it does not

by Dorothy

Here, Guy Kawasaki talks about the Harvard’s admission process, an alternative take on an educational institution that one normally assumes does not have to pro actively reach out to get applicants.

Full disclaimer: I am currently schooling in a tertiary institution in Singapore.

Having said that, I am not going to engage in one of those comparison posts. I do not want to compare, because one cannot do so if one has not been in any of the other major universities in Singapore. What you hear about the various institutions is probably true, but remember that perception largely depends on who is perceiving it. It would be prudent to see if the source of an opinion is of a similar personality to yourself, or is similar enough for you to think that a similar experience would result if you attended X institution. Just because your best friend’s niece loved a certain school and excelled while being in it, does not guarantee the same for yourself. But then again, what do you know when you’re around 18 to 20 years of age? 🙂

The institutional salience filter: Labeling Theory

Obviously, labels make a difference. I suppose, to a certain extent, all these labeling issues will always be around. Here’s a take from the article on Harvard.

“What we aim to do is to get the very best faculty together with the very best students,” he says. “Our hope is that these synergies will develop the talents of these students to a much greater degree and that they will then give back a lot more to America and the world.”

That is their promise, and that is the edge that Harvard students get in their first impressions. I suppose the general rule of thumb is, never, ever in a situation to introduce yourself as being from a certain institution and stop there, expecting that that alone will entitle you to anything. Where you are from at most gives you an edge, it is not a reason for anyone to hire you.

Another thing, it is not just the student cohort that makes any institution different. It is also the gatekeepers, the ones selecting who gets to be in the institution, both at an administrative, faculty and student level. It is the industry, the ones who come into contact with those associated with an institution that will perpetuate the external brand image of the typical character found in that institution. It is the school “culture”.

Why I am loving where I am/have been
Totally awesome modules like the Business Study Mission (I’m New York Dec’07), Digital Media Across Asia (here’s what we’re building for the community), opportunities for Student Exchange Programs (GO HOOS! UVA) are amongst the things that I will cherish in my undergraduate life.

A whole multitude of other opportunities are out there when potential students come in, for anyone keen to take them up. These come in the forms of the various CCA clubs, Case Competitions, Overseas Community projects, bond free scholarships. And most of all, the hunger and drive that is in the student cohorts. So there are many chances for you to learn, and also to give back. There are many chances for you to step out of your comfort zone and grow.

Of course, you could choose not to participate in any of these, and just exist as a normal undergraduate.

What I am advocating
Take a more proactive stance in your education. The pedagogy is not entrenched in stone, neither is the syllabus, neither is your educational route. The opportunities are out there, it is up to you to find those that have the best fit with who you want to become. There is also nothing wrong with stumbling into something that you find you are good at.

Open House
I have to say I am loving the experiment into Web 2.0 elements in this year’s Open House Campaign with blogs and the like, but there are just too many things going on in the front landing page of the website, completely overwhelming the viewer. Where do I start?

Their Photoshopped signages in the advertorial campaigns need much more work. Take the cue from Industrial Light Magic when they created Star Wars, and realized that a bit of dirt on their shiny spaceships made it seem that much more realistic. The signs are too clean, too glossy, too distant. On a random note, the signs are also mostly significant only to those already in the institution, who outside would know that they are part of the school architecture? Then again, maybe that was a good way for the campaign to build up the rapport from within the school and not just be outward orientated.

To those contemplating admission…
I guess to sum up, I hope that if you are “different” in terms of what you have to offer to your future counterparts in school, you will come. Don’t expect mere admission into an institution to give you that differential edge. The sooner you realize that the world does not owe you anything, the sooner you can change your strategies towards getting what you aspire towards in life. And the good thing about it is, there are now multiple channels open to you (that are also less socially stigmatized).

To the graduated/graduating…
It is myopic to say that this issue does not concern you, just because you are graduating. In some ways, you are affected by the current cohort in school. You should be very concerned about the kind of people that your alma mater is accepting. It’s heartening to see the Student Association asking if seniors should be invovled in the admission process. This concept has was what they envisioned for the LCKSP program, I wonder if it would be possible school-wide.

There you go. I couldn’t be there physically to help out, but at the end of the day, I am thankful for my institution for shaping me into who I have become today.

Be Great.
So yes to being different, even though I still cringe slightly when people talk about it.

But even more so to being great. Some of the most amazing people around still haven’t got a clue about what they would be doing in 5 years time, but they are great at what they do currently and they continue to strive for this.

Focus not so much on being different (it is possible to be different in a wrong way), just take the time to find out what you excel in, and simply, be great at doing that.

Live or merely exist; the choice is yours.

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03rd Jan2009

The Marshmellow Test

by Summerisque

What is your marshmellow? I was first exposed to this phrase during a talk in the last quarter of 2008.

Some excerpts from the above linked article:The character traits highlighted by The Marshmallow Test persist in adult life. They effect our performance in every area. Once you start looking for them, it’s easy to spot the “marshmallows” in our professional — and personal — lives. They are the activities which give us immediate gratification — but undermine longer-range benefits.

The desire to please everyone is a “marshmallow” for the manager who let’s herself be “interrupt-driven” . To get those immediate smiles or words of praise, she spends the better part of each day responding to random requests to do this or that, help this person or that one — and never gets around to pursuing her own projects. She needs to occasionally shut the door, have the calls screened, and focus on the greater gratification of achieving long-range goals.

The current “cash cow” may be a “marshmallow” for the CEO who just wants to continue milking profits from “what’s always worked and is still working for us.” In failing to push his people to explore new products and services, he may undermine the organization’s capacity to keep its edge in the future.

Successful people have developed habits which overcome the marshmallow temptation: Self-Restraint, Focus, Prioritizing, the Long-Range View. The marshmallow test is a telling way to catch people’s attention for a presentation on these strategies, which are so essential to success.

Suffice to say, ever since then, or rather, ever since then I have been aware of how I have been administering my own variation of the Marshmallow Test, and of course taking it in some form of another in different situations. I’ve watched as we’ve failed, I’ve watched as we’ve stumbled, I’ve watched as we’ve passed the test. It’s funny, but I probably scored higher on this test as a child and a teenager.

Conspicuously absent from this site will be the resolution list for 2009, either the to-do list, or the stop-doing list. Let’s just say that it always helps to know exactly what you want (or what you don’t want)…because how else would you be able to recognize it if it were right in front of you?

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us; we were all going directly to Heaven, we were all going the other way.”

—  Charles Dickens. A Tale of Two Cities.

p1071410My favourite quote of the moment – Only when we are no longer afraid; do we begin to live

Here’s to 2009.

06th Oct2008

The World is full of Two kinds of Men…

by Dorothy

Early this May, I spotted this ‘insightful’ comment in the Ladies, on the back of the door, of the deli, next to the Big Apple Hostel, in New York City. (What a mouthful!).

“The world is full of two kinds of men:

Religious men without intelligence

& intelligent men without religion.”


I will remember that when I snapped the picture I forgot to turn of the flash on the camera and some elderly lady probably thought it was some wierdo in the bathroom. Two years later, I still remember her saying “Oh, come on!”. Self amusement ensues as I scuttle out of there, fast. But I digress.

The door became temporary educational and quoteworthy canvas because it held other pearls of wisdom, such as:

Life must be lived as Play” – Plato

And another of my favorites:

“If your mind is narrow,

Small things will agitate you.

Make your mind an ocean.”

It’s strange how we can find inspiration in the most unlikely of places.

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31st Aug2008

4 minutes to change the world (or maybe an hour)

by Dorothy

I am a little late in sharing this video, which has undoubtedly been circulating the net. Nevertheless, better late than never. We all need constant reminders like this. Worth a watch, even if you don’t sit through the full hour of it!


Carnegie Mellon Professor Randy Pausch (Oct. 23, 1960 – July 25, 2008) gave his last lecture at the university Sept. 18, 2007, before a packed McConomy Auditorium. In his moving presentation, “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams,” Pausch talked about his lessons learned and gave advice to students on how to achieve their own career and personal goals. For more, visit www.cmu.edu/randyslecture.”


We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.

On the first man on the moon:
The inspiration, and the permssion to dream, is huge..

On (constructive) criticism:
When you’re screwing up and nobody is saying anything anymore, that means they gave up.”

Experience is what you get, when you didn’t get what you wanted.
– Randy Pausch

21st Aug2008

Quoteworthy Olympian

by Dorothy

“You can’t doubt.
If you doubt, then that’s it.
The biggest thing is staying positive and imagining anything is possible.
Because it really is.”


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22nd Feb2008

In the end; we are all the same.

by Dorothy


As the world grows increasingly capitalist in nature, I fear for our cultural diversity, or any diversity for that matter. I never ever looked from this perspective until recently. But it is true, isn’t it – Nothing succeeds like success. Replicas of TV shows, replicas of story lines, replicas of popular songs. Why do we not have any more variations in our media products – because The Suits are ultimately dictating that anything too risky and too unpalatable is going to be bad for ratings/popularity, and inadvertently, they act as gatekeepers and filter all the creative content out.

The most horrifying of course is the dawning realization of the role that advertising plays into this. The more people try to inject cultural elements into the advertisements (inter-cultural communication?) into ads, the more all of us are eventually socialized into the same culture of consumerism. It doesn’t matter your race, age, gender, personal preferences. All are schooled into the same way of thinking. Every point of contact with the media tells you that you are imperfect, that you need what they can offer you to conceal those imperfections.

We are taught that buying (-insert product plug here-) will solve all our problems. Purchasing a product equates to happiness eventually because you are that one step closer to a perfect lifestyle- just like on TV!

The production process is eventually relegated to the background. Products are created in toy factories full of glitter and puffballs ( the Coke factory anyone?). Like the elves in Santa’s workshop. Like the oompa loompas in Willy Wonka’s factory. No one really wants to see images of Third World children slaving away in sweatshops in dilapidated conditions, come on!

In Brands We Trust
As the corner store grocer and mom and pop stores all around the world lose the battle against the large chains, all of us eventually turn to brands. There is nothing else that is familiar to us, nothing else we can bank on. So why is it that you only only swear by (insert favourite brand here), when just another product from another brand is just as functional? Is it really delivering that much of a different experience to you?

Is it you that is really controlling what you consume? Or is it something else that has shaped your tastes and preferences? And how would you ever know, or would you even know?

I, personally, have yet to figure that out. Just like how I don’t understand why people go loco over the very ugly Coach bags. But that is another story altogether.

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