Curated: Being a Go Getter is No Fun

I shared all the interesting posts and articles I found on FB. It’s sort of like a placeholder for me, where I can look back and reread some of the articles. It’s not the same system, often bogged down by the sheer amount of clutter there but it’s what I’d been doing.

There’s one article that resonated so much with me that I printed it out, and pinned to my cubicle walls for casual reading. Below are some excepts from it.

“People ask high self-control people to do more for perfectly logical reasons—because they think that those who successfully demonstrate high (vs. low) self-control will perform better and accomplish more. So it is a reasonable thing to do, from the perspective of the partner, the manager, the coworker,” says Christy Zhou Koval, a Ph.D student at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and lead author of the study.“But for the actor, it can feel like a burden. Why should you do more work for the same reward, while your less capable coworker coasts along with lower expectations and work?”

A separate experiment found that participants not only assigned more tasks to the go-getters—but underestimated how much work it would take to get the job done. “What looks easy from the outside may not feel that easy on the inside,” says Gráinne Fitzsimons, one of the co-authors of the study.

high performers were not only aware that they were giving more at work—they rightly assumed that their managers and co-workers didn’t understand how hard it was for them, and thus felt unhappy about being given more tasks.

“In the workplace, managers should be careful to give the highest quality work and best opportunities to the most capable employees, and give the lower quality but time consuming work to less capable employees,” says Koval. “If someone is doing more than his fair share, compensate him for it. If not, he may ultimately leave and seek recognition elsewhere.

In short, the only reward for hard work is more work.

Makes one ponder, will it be worth it in the end.

Slow Updates

I haven’t been coming here much lately.

The scar is still there. Now, I’m known as “that guy” among the trainers in the gym.

I’d changed my role recently – more visibility in the office as my reporting manager would be closer, Singapore instead of China. A very tiring role. I haven’t thought of experiencing falling asleep on the chair just a month into the new role. It’s that exhausting. Adapting to the craziness still takes some getting use to.

I’d been getting pulled into a number of projects at work and that’s sapping almost all my energy. Did I mentioned my visibility in office is high? Almost too high for my comfort.

I also have to move because my prior landlord wanted to  retake and renovate the apartment. I have to find a new place. 60% spike in the rent charges compared to my prior place with not much difference in space.That’s going to hurt my wallet.

Momentary Lapse in Concentration

I was doing some bench press today when I encountered a mishap. What happened was that I was finished with my exercise and was placing the bar back to the placeholder. I thought I’d secured it but alas, one side was not. 70 kg worth of weight (half of it since 1 half was secured came crashing down on my head. The area to my left eyes was lacerated and I had a deep flesh wound.

I’d went to the clinic and had 5 stitches to tie the wound up. I’d definitely shocked my colleagues with my bloodied face. I feel like Zuko of the Avatar series now.

I’m also aware that I’d started and stopped a lot of projects in the middle mainly because I got busy during work and then got distracted in something else. This is something I’m constantly aware of and has been a thorn in my side for so long.

Happy Lunar New Year 2015

I haven’t been updating much at all since last.

Since I’m back home and have a break for the Lunar New Year celebration (My holidays was supposed to start last Monday, but I’d still been working … ), I finally figured that I have time to rearrange my life around, think up on resolutions and all the good stuff.

My New Year (end Dec – Jan period) was a hectic mess that drags on till this month with new deadlines, sudden changes and everything that took us by storm.

IBM Reorg

I’m still reeling from this and things aren’t looking to settle down any time soon.

Anyway, Happy Lunar New Year everyone. Wish you all wealth, prosperity and all the usual greetings in this coming year.

2014: Year in Review

It’s been so long since I’d updated that I didn’t realized a year had passed since.

The year just passed by so fast. 2014 was rather uneventful, and in many ways, marked a year with not much progression in my life.

In terms of career, this year really took a backseat. Although there’s a role change and several intense period of allnighter,  this was probably the most relaxed year I’d so far. So much that I’d gotten considerably lax and lost a lot of that fire burning inside. The company performance had been bad, very bad. And compensation took a nosedive, to nill. My awaited increment was postponed till financials were better.

Work was fun, but not challenging enough. Maybe it’s because I’d endured so much the previous two years that everything looked relatively simple by now.  I might be looking for a bit more challenge in my next role, or I’ll ended up coasting along. I’ll certainly hope to do it soon though, early next year I’m expecting several business model changes coming in, that are frankly a tiresome nuisance. I’m not sure whether I want to spend my energy in tackling that.

The working environment mellowed as well. Colleagues whom I’d entered the company together at the same time resigned one by one. Those who I thought would continued working tendered their resignations. At this rate, I’ll be the last of my intake. It kinda put into perspective how long I’d been on this. Also, the colleagues in my team are moving out one by one. I’d been through this a few times, but this time, I felt the loneliness at bit more, maybe cause I’d opened my heart a bit more for them. I’d saw them came into the company, taught a number of them and even had great memories with them. Seems like what one of them said was true. The curse of high performance was that no manager will willingly let you go. Case in point.

In terms of personal, I didn’t have much changes as well. My relationships are as they were in the beginning of the year. Those around me are falling in love. Classmates I knew are getting married. I wondered if everyone else is just speeding in life ahead of me. The only big thing I’d done this year was to make going to the gym a habit. I’d gotten stronger, and my physique was corresponding to the changes. I’m still a glutton when it comes to food though.

I’d been reading a lot recently, so that was well for me but that had gotten me an earful or two because I would be so engrossed that I tend to be reading the whole night till the next morning when my eyes are bloodshot and I’ll fall asleep on the bed. That’s how most of my weekends are spent nowadays.

Finances took a deep plunge. I’d been saving up my money in the stock market for better performance since I’m young but the market had been going down due to the oil price dropped, and my net worth went down with it. Let just say that my net worth at the end of this year is equivalent to the beginning of the year although I’d thrown almost all that I’d earned throughout the year excluding living expenses into the index. That was a bitter pain, though I wasn’t planning to save a big purchase anyway.

Here’s to hoping that 2015 would be a better year, and that I will be more productive. Maybe I should be more vigilant about posting here instead of just remembering about this place once a year.

When Common Sense Thrumps Analytics

Had been coping with a lot of work since the last few months. Expecting more in incoming months since my bosses has graciously forced volunteer myself to be involved in more projects. In one way, I’m grateful for their intention and desire for me to take on more stuff. On the other, I know when my plate is full, but can’t reject them.

I hate it when business become just a number. It should be used to help explain how the business is performing and motivate the sales team to get there, but shouldn’t be the sole important thing to base on. Recently, I was involved in splitting budget and target number for next year business. Previously, the approach was for WW to give out a target and seek the FA to think on how to appropriate the amount – to which countries, and which brand should be the main driver etc. However, recent changes had WW sending the targets directly for each large accounts.

Despite escalations that the numbers given are unreasonable – whether from a finance view or the local business view, our cries are disregarded as WW want to maintain the number so things look fine when presenting to their own bosses. The top down approach was seemed as more analytical since those operating on a global scale has a more holistic view on which area can drive growth. But should this approach be continued when local business insights are giving feedback that the top down numbers are unreasonable and almost impossible to achieve?

At least, I know they won’t responsible when asked to explain how the local business cannot drive growth to meet the target given.

Theme Changed

I’d upgraded my wordpress theme, and it crashed. So, resorted to using this for a while until I can get things sorted out.

More Awards from Work

Carlos

It’s not always that I gotten a mention from an exec in the US HQ. So, I thought this warrant a brief mention and screenshot.

Also, I got the recent You Rock award for being a top contributor. It’s nice seeing my name, my profile and achievement everything put into a presentation and broadcasted to everyone at the town hall. Below is the small trophy that comes with it.

They also gave me an additional LCD monitor to aid in my work. Not sure if I had any use for it at the moment. For now, it’s just taking up real estate space in my cubicle. It’s the monitor behind the trophy below.

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Big Data Simulation

Big Data Result

Life’s been very hectic. In between a recent promotion, growing interest in body reconstruction and failing attempts to jumpstart my writing again, I haven’t been putting much time for other activities.

In terms of writing, my output felled to almost nil. I produced no usable work, and often restart when I’m already one third of my way in. It’s very inefficient and waster of time. I also lost my keyboard to malfunction and sent it out for warranty repairs. So far, it’s been a month of wait and unproductivity.

The body project is something I’d interest in that popped up from time to time, but only recently did I began to look into it more seriously. Judgment still to come whether I can sustain it. Recent attempts left me with a very sore back, but I was hoping with some sort of physical bildungsroman out of this.

On top of everything else, I’d also recently changed role. It’s a promotion so to say. My workload remained almost the same, but only because I’d been carrying the load for quite some time now, being interim team lead and everything. Only this time, it’s more official and have a better title to go with it. Hopefully, my salary will adjust to reflect this promotion. The company’s still being cheap that way.

On to more interesting stuff, I’d been involved with a certain Business Analytics project, with hopes of revamping the organization into embracing more of the analytics movement, in hope of reducing workload and deliver higher value work.

Recently, there’s an education organized to showcase the power of such analytics to the managers line. I got in at the last minute because my boss’s boss’s boss wanted to swap. He wants me to take his place. Turns out, the education is a simulation of sorts, making decisions based on data available.

It’s very similar to the competitive strategy game I previously played with during university time, only this is supposed to be more real life. How, as a CEO and CFO makes business decisions based on data.

So, that’s what we did. 4 hours of understanding how the software works, and then discussion on what should we do – relative pricing, how to gain market share. Our decisions are then transmitted to a server in South Africa that computes and simulates outcomes based on our decisions. We were separated into groups and compete among each other, with the main goal here of getting the highest profits (a goal to provide objective measurement that decided by consensus before we start things off).

We have to sort through a lot of information and decide which ones are good and others to ignore – too much info for too little time. That’s where the consultant model structure comes in. It really helps provide segmentation and highlight area that we can focus on by Pareto.

Here’s the basic scenario. The company sells three different items – Alpha, Charger and Nova to different regions (NA, Europe, AP) that have different split of customer preferences. Alpha is the low cost, low margin product. Charger is the largest piece of the pie product with higher costs and better margin. Nova is the recently introduced line that commands a high margin and appeal to those seeking quality. Also, the regions have different split of customers too. In general, NA customers are more willing to pay for the higher price, whereas Asia customers are cheapskate.

 T1 RevT1 GPT2 RevT2 GPT3 RevT3 GPT4 RevT4 GP
FY Tgt159.120.5153.319.8155.119.9153.619.7
Q133.16.030.74.227.52.132.25.0
Q236.67.839.310.338.78.844.211.6
Q340.58.634.47.140.99.242.49.6
Q438.58.236.28.337.37.245.713.4
FY148.730.6140.629.9144.527.3165.139.6
B/(W)(10.4)10.1(12.7)10.1(10.6)7.411.519.9
Atmt93.5%150%91.7%151%93.2%138%107.5%201%

The table above is the same as the picture. What happened was after we study past trend data, we set out targets – where should we fight for market share and how many should each region contribute to the overall performance. A formula calculate things out and spit out the full year target to us.

Then, we start making our decisions, and the quarter actuals reflect the results of the course that we took. Everyone start off with the same data and initial starting point, and at the end of Q4, we compared our FY actuals to that of the original target.

The B/(W) measures the actual better or worse compared to budget, whereas Atmt measures the percentage attainment over the target.

I’m in team 4, and so naturally, we have the best results by far, outpacing our initial target and the nearest competitors. Our FY GP is at $39.6M, almost $20M better than the target set out, and $9M higher than our nearest competitor. That provided me with a good enough excuse to gloat over the next few days.

Revenue wise, our $165.1M FY tops any other competitors by far, better $16.4M against the nearest team, also team 1.

In the picture, there’s some red lines. That’s actually the last quarter strategy used by each team. When we finally reveal our strategy, I was quite surprised that team 1 – 3 have almost similar strategy based on their data, while team 4 employed a slight different approach.

All the team unsurprisingly focused on Nova, and whereas team 1 – 3 placed a premium on it, high above the competitors price, we took a different approach, rising our price to have better margins but at the same time still priced it lower than competitors. Their justification was that Nova was bought predominantly in NA, who has less price elasticity. We thought the same thing too, but tested things out and found out that the high price won’t make up to our drop in volume. That insight allow us to change our approach and consistently get better results each quarter.

Aside from maximizing our revenue and GP, team 4 also has the best GP margin there. The margin actually improved from 9% last year (based on the data) to a 24% this year for us. The administrator of this simulation, Kyle, mentioned that this is the first time this was administrated outside of the US, and the highest achievement he saw so far. The previous revenue range had always been in the $140M – $150M. He was intrigued by our result that he asked for our by quarter strategy and see if he could replicate it.

All in all, it’s a fun simulation. I guess, aside from the usual grunt work, things like this are part of the days work. I should seek to move to the strategy department. I’m good at this.

Card from US (or How to Motivate Top Talents)

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I got this card from IBM HQ back in March, for some of my work that reached the eyes of HQ in US. From what I heard, the higher-ups were very impressed and I got this in return.

It’s just a simple thank you card, but it has value due to the signatures on it. Those who signed it are among the top executives in IBM, but I think the most recognizable one for those outside of IBM would be the one on the bottom-right by Mark.

IBM Chief Financial Officer Mark Loughridge

This Mark Loughridge. Felt pretty good to be recognized by the top boss of the Finance department, and all the other executives there.

Can you guess the others whose signatures are here?

Thanks to CC, S, HJ, and IJ for this.