Saturday, September 15, 2007

Life Is Competitive

I realize that life is competitive. (Oh, wow! Tell me something new.)

No, I came to this conclusion, because I thought of it mathematically.

There is no way out of that. Even if I had the power to automagically give everyone on earth $10,000,000 each, the economic classes will still remain roughly the same. Property prices will just sky rocket based on each people's bids. There will be a certain percentage of people who will fritter away their money, COE's will skyrocket. (Pareto Principle will emerge.)

In business you may be one of the first movers in a new market, but there will be people who will see your success and start copying your product.

Because life is competitive, being agile, and stronger in business is a necessity. In an industry, consolidation occurs, and only 2-3 winners to emerge. One big winner, a second smaller one, and perhaps a third minority. The virtuous cycle is tapped on by these winners. The successful ones beget even more success. They tap into the economies of scale. It is a pattern that repeats itself over and over in industries. Car manufacturers, Airplane makers, Internet search engines, etc. In mathematical terms, clustering happens. Customers will start clustering around the best providers.

That is the reason why working hard is a feature of life. But working hard shouldn't be the target of work. It is a side-effect. I've seen too many bosses and workers pursue working hard as a goal. It is not a goal. It is the side-effect of pursuing a goal. Just like happiness and joy shouldn't be the goal, but rather the side effect of serving others. Commanding someone to work hard is, in a sense, the same as commanding someone to be happy.

I think the reason why people pursue the side effects is because they don't have clear cut goals in life and in business. A couple automatically works hard because they want their child to be well-fed, and provided for. They don't make it a goal to stay up late at night and lose sleep for the sake of losing sleep. But I see that in some offices. Peer pressure, expectations from the boss. "If I don't stay late in the office, people/my boss will think that I'm a slacker."

These thoughts remind me of a scene from "The Pursuit of Happyness" starring Will Smith. In that film, he played a man who worked hard because he had the goal of providing for his family. He worked hard because he had a clear cut goal of completing his tasks before 5pm. (It was not an option, he had to leave by 5pm so that he could queue up at the homeless shelter.) He then cut the goals into smaller sub-goals like shaving 8 seconds of each cold call by not hanging up with the phone but by pressing the hook with his fingers.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Mediacorp Shoot

Mediacorp Shoot

Originally uploaded by nicodemus_chan.

Had a short shoot this morning for "Life Story". Played a funeral director. Also had a brush with Fiona Xie in the make up room.

Tremors in Singapore

Tremors in Singapore

Originally uploaded by nicodemus_chan.

The crowd outside UIC Building after evacuation.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Problem with Software...

Is that it is invisible.

Imagine that only 3 out of 10 building projects succeed. 3 out of 10 building projects are abandoned. And the 4 that are delivered late are of poor quality, rundown and not what the customers wanted. Within 2 years, another project to replace these buildings will be in place.

Hardly what we see in the building and construction industry.

Unfortunately, that is the norm in the software industry. A lot of software is bad quality, badly maintained. The reason for that I believe is that software is invisible. A customer can only see the effects of software, he can't inspect with his eyes each line of code. What we can see of software is the draping of a cloth over an invisible structure. We can see the shape the structure makes, but we don't know how well the construction is.

Humans being sensory creatures find it hard to understand software. Software is an abstraction. Perhaps with more tools like unit testing, integration testing and continuous builds software construction could be made better.

I'm not sure how this problem can be solved outright. Education could be one thing, but some people don't want the secret out. Software consultancy is like the tailors trade in "The Emperor's Clothes".

Sunday, September 09, 2007

How Machiavellian Are You?

Take the test at:

The book was banned by the Catholic church because it expoused worldly principles of deceit and manipulation.

I've read it. Why?

Because Jesus said to be as innocent as doves yet as wise as serpents.

Being Original

Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.