Father Sez

From and to parents - parental advice to our children on personal financial management and life.
Search Blog

Archive for July, 2008

Applying 5 S Methodology, the cornerstone of Japanese lean manufacturing strength in our daily lives – Part 4

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

Continuing our series on 5 S….. as consistent practice and application of the Japanese “5 S” Methodology helps to form a strong foundation for our journey into continuous incremental improvements in our workplace, homes and lives.  We have already covered:-

- SEIRI 

- SEITON  and

- SEISO

The fourth of the “5 S” is SEIKETSU or STANDARDIZE.

The word “standardize” has many meanings. I follow the version that refers to having standards for every process that we do in the office, home or for ourselves.

Examples may be that all supplier files are red. All keys are in duplicated in 3 sets, one for use by the person, 1 set with Administration Department, and the last set as a final back up with someone else. Uniforms are another form of standards. All dangerous liquids being marked with a standard logo that does not allow for any mistaking it for Sprite.   Color coding, etc.

Whilst this step does not allow for much improvisation or so called individualism, it allows for very easy understanding of work functions if people have to be shifted around or if people leave.

(Improvisation and improvement is more than adequately allowed for in other parts of Kaizen. Still for Kaizen to truly grow and flourish, all players should have their 5 S well mastered.)

Imagine an organization, much like the colonies of bees or ants. Each member knows exactly what to do, when and how. All according to the standards that exist for the colonies. And many are the praises of efficiency these colonies get.

In the home, this standardization can be extended to storage of items, (including filing of documentation), buying and storing of food stuff. Having standards will help us track down abnormalities in food packaging (stuff that the marketing guys do to “fool us”. Get Rich Slowly wrote an excellent post on this.) 

Perhaps some of the preachers of better living may say that variety is the spice of life. Thus looking down at process like SEIKETSU.  Take a different route to work everyday, try a different type of food, etc.  

I think there is a place in life for both of these kinds of thinking. Some processes which are repetitive in nature may flourish based on 5 S, whiles others may be better looked at from the variety point of view. 

We just have to make our individual choices.      

The narration of the Arab and the Camel

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

Image Credit: Flickr.com 

Most of us might have heard the story of the Arab, the Camel and the tent. This can   perhaps be best described as the Arabic story form version of the saying “Give him an inch and he asks for a foot.” 

The more relevant story to me currently is the one with the same players minus the tent. 

The Quran is the primary source of guidance for Muslims. The secondary source is narrations of what the Prophet pbuh said or did during his lifetime.  

One of these narrations goes like this: 

“A person came riding his camel to the mosque. Upon reaching the mosque, he dismounted, left the camel and walked right into the mosque. The Prophet pbuh saw him and asked, “Why are you not tying up the camel?” To which the man replied, “I am leaving him in the care of the All Mighty.” And the Prophet pbuh told him, “Tie the camel to the post, and then leave him in the care of the All Mighty.” 

This hadith (as we refer to the narrations) has left a very strong impression on me.  I have no doubt that ultimately all that happens and all that do not happen are exactly as how the All Mighty wanted them to be.  Hence despite all that we plan, test, and do, the final outcome is not in our hands. So, theoretically we can just sit and gaze at the sky, ceiling or wall or whatever, do nothing and the outcome will be just as ordained.  

My thinking on this has, (ever since I read about this hadith)  been strongly influenced by the hadith of the Arab and his camel. We are required to do all that we can and then and only then should we leave it in the hands of the All Mighty.  

This is the hadith, I reflected back upon as I driving home today. My last day at work has been agreed as the 31st of July 08, the day after tomorrow. 

I have planned for this eventuality. I have lined up what I should do to ensure that my family is provided for. I even have a back up plan (i.e. to go back to the life of a working stiff - not a good one, but still a back up).   

And I believe that I have done all the above with all sincerity and given them the best that I have in my arsenal of knowledge and experience. 

Now as I wait for the moment to take the big leap into the unknown, I do so with the conviction that it is now in the hands of the All Mighty.     

Getting ready for a different rhythm to my life

Sunday, July 27th, 2008

Image Credit: Google  

Madison dropped a nice bombshell last week. She declared that she was quitting (or taking a leave of absence) and focussing on her priorities. I have been sort of expecting something like this ever since she wrote some about some of the “pulls and pushes in her life” way back in January and February 08. 

Her life is going to change in more ways than one. She’ll have to find a new rhythm as opposed to the “go to work, come back from work” kind of thing. 

This is what I have been going through the past few weeks. Finding a new rhythm at least mentally. Unlike Madison, or Ms. SVB over at the Digerati Life or Trent at the Simple Dollar, my exit from the 9-5 working life has been a little involuntary. It was also not quite the same as the Snarky Chica’s walking away from corporate life.  

My case is a mutual parting of ways.  

A wise friend told me a long time ago, that a salaried guy would have to be sacked before he can do something worthwhile on his own. Well, I am finally getting the chance now.

For the longest time, I have wanted to be on my own. Independent. Not subservient to any of the more often than not, silly corporate rules and regulations. In March 08, I wrote a guest article in Free Money Finance (my first ever guest post) on how I intended to quit the rat race. Looks like it’s time to put the plan into action.   

I have now crossed the door. The actual day to carry my things out of the office has not been fixed yet and I am quite frankly eagerly waiting for that day. 

My wife, my in-house motivator and a practical optimist says that this would probably be the best thing that has happened to the Fathersez family.  As I look for my new rhythm of my life, there will be effects on the children. Though the family knows of this, details have not been discussed with the kids. 

This coming Saturday, I’ll have to talk to the youngest two girls. Then the boy. I am scared, as all salaried bozos would be if they were to lose the security blanket of the monthly pay check.

I must thank Ms. SVB, Trent, Snarky Chica and now Madison who have clearly shown that life will go on. 

As Winston Churchill said, “Most of our fears will never come to pass.” 

I’ll keep you posted.

Hey! Spammer, please give me a break

Friday, July 25th, 2008

Last week I wrote about a spam artist who seemed to have dedicated his life to sending me spam comments.  

I have no idea why he chose me. He sends long incoherent comments, with links in every line of his essay. He also seems to have a busload of Gmail ID’s. 

On a whim, I tried looking up IP addresses and their locations. And found an excellent resource for this purpose.  It looks like my friend (who knows, maybe I’ll get to know him and we’ll become the best of pals) is from the city of Marlborough in the United Kingdom. 

Though I am not sure if I am interpreting the results correctly, it looks like my friend has been a pretty good boy in staying away from the more aggressive spam opponents. He seems to have managed to keep himself from being blacklisted. 

My Marlborough friend, I am all for automated ways to make money. In fact, I am trying my level best to find ways and means to earn money automatically myself.  But for the life of me, I cannot see how you can earn any money by sending me these spam comments which I delete. So why don’t you wise up. Find something else to do. Something else that will be more useful to people. (Perhaps we can even do something together.) 

And if by any chance, any of my UK readers know this guy, please tell him to take up another vocation.  

Checking out my “Impostor Syndrome” rating

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

A while ago, I read Mrs. M’s post on the Impostor Syndrome.

She defined it as:-

“Feeling like you’ve never made significant accomplishments and that you’re actually a fraud waiting to be found out and humiliated or punished or exposed.” 

I think this is a feeling that perhaps, many of us go through. The feeling that we have never ever really made “true” progress and it was just plain dumb luck that took us to where we are now.  When we read this definition of the Impostor Syndrome, together with Peter’s Principle of being promoted to our level of incompetence, it feels like a real solid knock on our heads. 

Well, this is a feeling that I have been going through for a little while now.  When I first started out in working life, I had a truly wonderful supervisor, Angie. She was supportive, guided me tirelessly, was a great mentor and set me off on a blazing start to my career. She would be the single person I should attribute my “fearless and can-do attitude” to.  

Along the way, I have now run into some not so inspiring situations, hence the present feelings. My usual motivator is my wife, as I have mentioned before.

This time, however, I wanted another confirmation. Unlike Mrs. M, who works in a library and found reassurances from a series of career books called the “Career Coward” books, I did not have these books to fall back on.

This is how I found the reassurance I wanted.

I read aboutThe 5 Patterns of Extraordinary Careers” via a web site while researching something. To quote them:-

“The 5 patterns reveal the subtle yet powerful factors that determine career success.  Based on three years of extensive research, including an in-depth survey of more than 2,000 of the top executives in business, we now know the patterns of thought and action most correlated with extraordinary careers.”

And to check whether we would have an extraordinary career, they provide an online quiz, which I took. 

It appears that I am a person with great potential. So I am writing this post with a feeling of “not too little” reassurance.  

If any of you are feeling even a little of the impostor syndrome now, go on and take the quiz. At least you will learn a little more about yourself.   

These bums, don’t they have something better to do?

Friday, July 18th, 2008

I am as angry as this guy!. Picture credit: Google 

For the past few weeks I have been bugged by some shady character whose sole purpose in life seems to be sending spam messages to my blog. 

I’ll mark them as spam regularly and equally regularly he’ll send them back to me. It is clear that this is a way one sided battle. This creep being a master at what he does probably automates his mail (always the same IP address with different gmail ID’s), while I have to clear them manually. 

Mrs. Micah once wrote about a variation of these nasty fellows. Except that her guy (are they all guys?) seemed a little more devious. He used real commentators’ names, hoping to slip through Mrs. M’s eagle eyes. He was caught out and now she’s removing such dubious comments manually (I think?). 

Ana, over at Debt Free Revolution gave a mighty military style warning to these creeps. I am not sure if they now leave her alone. (BTW, her last post is dated June 20th. Any idea what happened?) 

A search in Google on how to block specific IP addresses gave me something about Spam Karma to be loaded in as a plug in. Hah! The only plugs I know are 3 pin plugs! 

So for the time being, it seems that all I can do is to curse this guy each time I delete his spam. Hopefully he’ll soon find another job as a telemarketer or a used car salesman.  

WWYW, PWYP, TITWTBH&G

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

No, this is not about Microsoft’s latest offering.  

I have previously written a little about our family’s Mission Statement. 

It’s pretty long for a Mission Statement, with 8 points covering the areas of life such as family, health, religion, money, friends, community etc. 

However we also have a family tag line. And it is just one line.  

WORK WHILE YOU WORK, PLAY WHILE YOU PLAY THAT IS THE WAY TO BE HAPPY AND GAY! 

This was told to me by someone I lived with more than 4 decades ago (Gosh! Has it been really that long?). I think this line was about the only English he knew. He had learnt this from one of his teachers and had stuck in his mind. I have no idea why this line stuck in my mind. Perhaps it was because I thought it was funny, being quoted by someone who hardly knew English.  

Now we use it often at home. When the two elder girls got their first cell phones (when they signed up for college) this WWYW, PWYP, TITWTBH&G was about the most common message that I would text to them. 

The younger children, too, have heard it enough times to learn it by heart. This is the line I use, when they sleep in during weekends and school holidays. 

To my housemate (I can’t remember his name now. Just the mental image of him appears when I try to think back of the times he had quoted this line to me) and the teacher who taught it to him, I offer a belated thank you. 

I am not sure if my children will quote this line to their children and maintain it as their own family tag line, but who knows!       

Alhamdulillah, We have had the soft launch of our goat farm - finally.

Monday, July 14th, 2008

Last Saturday, the 12th of July we officially launched our goat farm. 

The opening date had first been set for April. This was postponed to June due to my mother’s demise. Then the June date was postponed due to another reason. The 12th of July launch went just fine. 

We had a small “kenduri”. I suppose the closest translation would be a thanksgiving feast.

The festivities were all handled by Zai, (my wife’s cousin brother and our partner in this venture) and his family. True to the Malaysian kampong (village) tradition, almost the whole village turned up to help. As this is the standard practice in almost all Malaysian kampungs, this did not result in many cooks spoiling the broth, rather it was many hands making light work. 

The occasion was made all the merrier by the inclusion of the “aqiqah” ceremony for my nephew’s daughter. The local imam read a short thanksgiving prayer followed by a delicious lunch prepared by the village team led by Zai’s mother, Puan Rokiah(who is more often called Unggah (short for Tunggal or only child).

sany0062of-ungga.JPG   

Ungga planting the neem tree. Picture taken by my son, Abang.

       

sany005-machi-new.jpg

Picture of my sister in law planting the Neem tree. Picture taken by my son, Abang.

To mark the opening, my eldest sister in law (the matriarch of our family now that my mother is no longer with us) and Ungga planted a neem tree each. God Willing, the farm should thrive, grow and provide for all of us varied benefits just like a neem tree is believed to do. 

My eldest girl could not make it as she was not well. She has been given a blow by blow account by her Mama, and I am sure her best wishes were with us. 

We now have one goat shed up, 45 goats + one Indonesian worker to help Zai operate the farm. The current objective is just to get into and understand fully the rhythm of the operations and to get used to rearing and looking after the goats. Issues such as looking after their health, their feeding rates, cleanliness of the shed, etc. Another worker is expected to join us shortly and then we would start on our second shed.   

The website for the farm is still in progress. Our plan is to get this website launched by the second week of August, and after that all the goat posts will be shifted there.  

God Willing, this farm shall now be a major focus for the Fathersez family.    

Is this an opportunity staring me in my face, or just fools’ gold?

Friday, July 11th, 2008

For sometime now, I have been looking for the elusive online business. The one business that would slowly but surely refill my depleted coffers. 

I have been eagerly reading blog posts that talk about online marketing and making money online. I have often thought about subscribing to those repeatedly appearing ads that promise to detail to me in full and complete detail the secrets of the online rich. Somehow I have held back, so far at least.  

Recently I read about a forum being put up for sale. 

This forum, BicaraJutawan.com, is for local entrepreneurs (seems to include quite a number of  budding and wannabes) to network with one another. It has been around since 2005 and the founder is also the owner of a personal finance blog that I follow. I believe he may also own other blogs.

The forum apparently attracts a readership of about 50,000 monthly and with the current increasing interest in entrepreneurship, I am sure the membership is likely to rise and quite steeply at that.  

I have often read the postings in the forum and many of the posts offer sound and useful information based on the personal experiences of those posting. The discussions are mostly in our National Language, Bahasa Malaysia. As it can be expected, the postings once in a while drift away to some irrelevant issue, but in general, I would say that the forum founder does have a strong community. 

I remember reading in Caroline’s blog about the 3 revenue models for making money online. The membership site model (one of these 3), was further elaborated upon by Caroline in a subsequent post.  

I am still a newbie to the online world and still floundering. Yet this does look like a good opportunity. An opportunity to apply to buy over the forum and try to further enhance it with useful resources and later slowly change it to a membership site.  Perhaps also to seek ads which would be relevant and useful to this community without being pain in the neck pop-ups?  

All these would take some time.  

The present owner, Pakdi has almost an iconic presence and it is clear that the community respects him tremendously. He has mighty big shoes that may not be that easy for the next guy to fill.  And not to forget that people in general would rather sign up for a public speech than to pay for information. 

I have not done any research to seek out forums that are successful and that could be used as a benchmark for me to learn from.  

In the meantime, I suggested a joint venture proposal to Pakdi who declined interest, preferring an outright sale.   

This thing is still tingling in my mind. The goat farm has started and the “opening kenduri”, (already postponed twice in April and June) is tomorrow. Let me get the kenduri over and come back to this again. 

In the meantime, if you have any ideas or suggestions it will be very much appreciated.    

5 Tips for the New Grad in a New Job

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

You finished college and are feeling invincible.  This feeling is going to go away when you enter the work force and are working for a boss and rely on co-workers just as they’ll rely on you.  It’s not easy just starting out and getting your feet wet.  Chances are you’re idealistic job is not out there immediately for you and you’re going to start out in an entry position.  There’s no shame in this, but you need to know you’re not alone and can lean on many people around you for help.  Here are a few tips for you to consider when you get that uneasy feeling during the first week, but probably on that first day: 

i) Ask questions. 

First and foremost, you can’t be afraid to ask questions.  If, at any time, you need clarification on any issues or are unsure about what is expected, be sure to ask questions of your superiors.  Remember what your teachers used to say?  There are no dumb questions.  This rings true in the work place as well.

ii) Be early all the time. 

It’s your first job and you are looking to make a good impression at all turns.  Arriving for work early is the easiest way to show your enthusiasm and eagerness for the job.

iii) Ask for more responsibilities when you’re ready. 

Obviously, if your boss asks you to do something then you have to step up to the plate.  However, when you feel like you’re ready to take on more responsibility then you should seek the heavier workload.  This will impress your bosses by showing you are someone who relishes the spotlight.

iv) Avoid petty work spats. 

You’re young and fresh out of college where you made tons of friends.  When you’re at work you need to realize it’s a different animal then the quad at college.  It’s important you make solid work relationships, but stay away from the subculture in the workplace that’s rife with gossip and vague friendships.  It’s easy to fall into this trap, but it’s not worth dredging your name in the mud.

v) Do your homework. 

Just because you’re not in school anymore doesn’t mean that you don’t have homework anymore.  Don’t be one of the guys that go to the bar with all the co-workers right after quitting time.  When you are just starting out, you want to make sure that you’re arriving at work with a clear head with more knowledge than when you left the night before.

By-line: 

This post was contributed by Heather Johnson, who writes on the subject of Chase Rewards. She invites your feedback at heatherjohnson2323 at gmail dot com. 

Blog Subscription

Like what you are reading?
Subscribe to my RSS Feed