Why I can’t sit in an office.

Hi guys, I’m back!

This week has gone by RIDICULOUSLY slowly, unlike past weeks when I would get out of bed at 11 and poof! the next thing you know it, it’s dinner time. After a six and a half month lay-off, I’m no longer on MC and yes, back in camp. Tekong- to be exact.

So my daily routine is something like this:

Wake up at 6.45am

Board bus 9 towards SAF ferry terminal

Change my 11B for a military pass

Board the ferry

Report at the office at 8am

Sit down and down absolutely nothing till lunch

Have lunch

Return to office

Sit down and down absolutely nothing till 5pm

Pack up

Leave the office

Scan my pass

Board the ferry

Return to SAF ferry terminal and change my pass for my 11B

Exit the terminal

Cross the road

Board bus 9 Back home

So for five days consecutively, I was doing this (except for like MPS, physio and my night class on friday) the rest of the time I was stuck in the cycle, unable to break free.

and that sucked…

Me all day errday.

Sitting in the office while waiting for time to pass, second by second was one of the most torturous things I have ever done. Okay, actually I had things to do la (studying, reading a book) BUT STILL. Being confined to an area to do your own thing isn’t doing your own thing haha, unlike doing them in your house where you can roam to anywhere you wanted whenever you felt like it. But we have to accept it, since it’s the military anyway.

These five days though did make me pause to think what office jobs would be like in the future and you know what, it will most likely (though not entirely but it’ll largely be similar :O minus the being confined to one area part) but seriously, think about it.

You drag yourself out of your bed (A little different here, you turn to your partner and see her smile which lightens your mood a bit, recalling the crazy time you had in bed the night before)

But then it’s back to boarding that bus (or maybe your car to work)

You sit in your chair at your desk, read your emails, organize some files, review some presentations, check to ensure you have what you need, gather for the meeting and phew, it’s lunchtime.

So you run out of office to the nearby hawker centre (working still must save money right) grab a packet of chicken rice and maybe a teh peng (iced tea) and chow down as fast as you can before your boss grumbles to you about taking too much time off for lunch.

Thus you race back to office, back in your desk, redo whatever that needs redoing, help out with your colleagues, probably meet your boss again to discuss corporate strategy and wait at your desk for the clock to strike five before you pack up and leave (that, probably applies to your lucky days where you need not stay till ten and clock in overtime. Which probably happens more than 50% of the time.)

Then you head out of that chilly air-conditioned room breathing in the fresh air after a long day’s of work, only to freeze in the bus or in your car, impatiently honking away while you get caught in the evening jam (face it, whether it’s the bus or car, you can never run away from jams at such a timing.)

You finally reached home and see the smile of your love (which i didn’t have for my 5 days, okay la my Mum counts right) and sink into your sofa, remove your tie while you douse in her aroma as she massages you and ask about your day (I only doused myself in greasy sweat of army guys) and that’s probably the end of the nightmare.

So apart from having your other half to come home to, I for one can’t imagine going to office from 8-5, 5 days a week. IT”S JUST INSANE (currently using this word a lot, so pardon me) but yes I shouldn’t be complaining especially having the privilege to go home everyday to see my loved ones but it does increase my desire to find work in a non-office environment in future.

To see something new every alternative day would be a dream and of course meeting different people every now and then would be a huge blessing 🙂 and although these “fantasies” are just all in my head, there’s this serious drive to turn them into reality.

Well, on a more serious note, I’m glad to be officially moving on to my next phase of my army life having not been doing much the last few months, as I saw my other buddies accomplishing so many new feats. Although I’m not entirely looking forward to this administrative role, who knows what’s to come and what new things can be learnt 🙂

For now, I’ll have to find a way to make the hands of the wall clock move faster, just by staring at them.

Till the next time!
Darren

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Time Lapse!

So recently, I decided to jump on the time-lapse photography bandwagon and to  just see how difficult it is to actually capture slow-moving moments eg. flowers blooming at the break of dawn, cloud movements, sunrises and sunsets, even fireworks and play them back at a faster speed.

So incase you’re wondering what time-lapse photography is, it is a technique whereby the frequency at which film frames are captured is much lower than that used to view the sequence.

Huh, what is that supposed to mean?!?!

Haha, it’s not the most straightforward concept, many would agree. But to make things simpler, do you remember watching clips of city cars zooming across the streets like in a Formula One race or how people walk at breakneck speed in the hullabaloo of a bustling city?

Well, if that still doesn’t help, you can watch this!

The art of capturing a process that spans a good long 4 hours and squeezing it into a matter of 40 seconds seems like a simple task when I first learnt of time-lapse photography. Especially when I realised I could just film the entire process and play it back, 20 times faster! (now that’s easy… BUT THAT’S ALSO CHEATING HAHA)

Well, everyone has their own starting point so if you’re not comfortable doing a time-lapse by taking pictures, you can try the video method first. Anyways, coming back to my time-lapse experience, I decided to head for Sunset Walk, a secluded, hardly known of boardwalk along Changi Beach. It is actually just behind Changi Beach Club. (2 Andover Rd, Singapore 509984) You can hop onto buses 2,9 and talk a stroll past The Coastal Settlement Restaurant or you can take 29 and alight just outside the Commando camp and walk in. It’s about a 20, 15 minute walk respectively.

Changi Beach Club |Photo Credits: Flikr

Photo Cradits: Today Online

Sunset Walk Boardwalk |Photo Credits: Today Online

Doesn’t this place look ABSOLUTELY STUNNING. On first impression, I would have never guess of such a quaint part of Singapore to be such an amazing location to view sunsets. That being said, I was rearing to go. So I packed my supplies, which included (2 tripods, 2 cameras, my Mac which I regretted bringing HAHA and a book to keep me company for the trip)

Try emulating Herschel on Insta but fail HAHA

Tried emulating Herschel on Instagram but failed HAHA

The walk there was TIRING. Especially since my leg was still recovering. But eventually, all was worth the toil as I got my cameras set up and filming began.

So I waited, waited and waited for time to go by as the sun mercilessly chided me with its rays. (Silently, I begged for the sun to stop raining me with its golden arrows but how could I when I needed it to shine its brightest) unfortunately or fortunately for my face (before it got burnt) thick pillows of clouds whisked into the path between my camera lenses and the sun.

The sudden release from the heat sprang me from my seat to check on the cameras and see how I could alter the settings. But you can never beat Mother Nature at her game and all I could do was sit back and wait. Dampened, and deflated my worse fears turned into reality as the clouds thickened and darkened. Persistent to get as many shots as I could I didn’t heed the warning signs of what seemed to be imminent.

And then drop of raindrops became waterfalls.

In a frenzy I dismantled my cameras from the tripods, and BECAUSE I COULDN’T RUN, I walked pitifully to the pavilion nearby. Just like that my plans were ruined unfortunately, but I guess it’s all in the name of adventure to expect the unexpected.

As I waited for the sky’s pee to die off, in the far distance, obscured by the clouds was the sun setting gradually, turning the sky into a subtle but pretty pinkish hue. My heart wrenched further as the sky became saturated in pink. The soaked wooden planks creaked under my weight as I made my way out, clothes drenched from the madness a couple of minutes ago.

“Here to catch fish or watch sunset ah boy?” A Malay Uncle in a raincoat asked when his eyes finally landed on my tripod,” Aiya, so saiyang (wasted), today rain big big, cannot take photo.”

“Ya Uncle very sad, of all days, today rain, but nevermind Uncle, I will come back.” I replied the old man who was getting ready to throw his rod out.

It wasn’t the best of road trips (not that I’ve been on many to begin with) but it’s a beginning to more solo adventures with my camera and my tripod and me.

Excited to get my gopro in future cause there’s really much more one can do with it. For now, I shall just leave you with the video I made from whatever I had, it isn’t much but decent for a first attempt I presume. Till then, Darren 🙂

P.s if you do time-lapse photography, do help me out and leave me some tips on it as well as nice locations for the capturing of future works, much appreciated!

Frame Interval (time between each picture taken): 3 Seconds

Frame Rate: 30 frames per second

Filming Duration: ~45 minutes

 

 

“Writers don’t need tricks or gimmicks.”

Maybe I’ve been trying too hard the past month, caught up in all complex thought processes and forgetting that the most genuine writings come from the heart.

The Daily Post

If you write for an audience — be it millions of strangers or your mom — you inevitably think about how your words appear to others. Very often, this self-consciousness results in overstuffed prose and too-clever storytelling. Here to remind us of the virtue of simplicity in writing is Raymond Carver, a master of narrative and linguistic economy:

“I hate tricks. At the first sign of a trick or gimmick in a piece of fiction, a cheap trick or even an elaborate trick, I tend to look for cover. Tricks are ultimately boring, and I get bored easily, which may go along with my not having much of an attention span. But extremely clever chi-chi writing, or just plain tomfoolery writing, puts me to sleep. Writers don’t need tricks or gimmicks or even necessarily need to be the smartest fellows on the block. At the risk of appearing foolish, a writer…

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It all depends on one’s attitude.

It’s a long post, but really worth the read.

Original post: http://vulcanpost.com/15199/mba-lesson-taxi-driver-ceo/

MBA Lessons From A Taxi Driver To A CEO

I needed to go from Xujiahui to the airport, so I hurriedly concluded a meeting and I was looking for a taxi in front of the Meiluo building.

A taxi driver saw me and drove professionally and stopped right in front of me. Thus followed the story that astonished me greatly as if I had attended a lively MBA course.

“Where would you like to go?”

“The airport please.”

“Good, the airport.” The driver continued his conversation.

“At Xujiahui, I love to pick up customers in front of the Meiluo building. Over here, I only work two places: the Meiluo building and the Junyao building. Did you know? Before I picked you up, I circled around the Meiluo building twice before I saw you! People who come out of office buildings are definitely not going to some nearby places.”

“Oh? That’s very smart of you!” I agreed.

“As a taxi driver, we must also work with scientific methods,” he said.

I was surprised and I got curious: “What scientific methods?”

“I have to know statistics. I have made my calculations. Let me share with you. I drive an average of 17 hours a day, and my hourly cost is RMB34.5.”

Before he could continue, I interrupted: “How did you arrive at that?”

“You just had to calculate: I have to pay RMB380 to the company each day for the renting the car. The gasoline is about RMB210. I work 17 hours per day. On an hourly basis, the fixed cost is the RMB22 that I give to the taxi company and an hourly average of RMB12.5 in gasoline expenses. Isn’t that RMB34.5?”

       
I was a bit surprised. I have taken taxis for ten years, but this is the first time that a taxi driver has calculated the costs this way. Previously, the taxi drivers all tell me that the cost per kilometer was RMB0.30 in addition to the total company fee.

“Costs should not be calculated on a per-kilometer basis. It should be calculated on an hourly basis. You see, each meter has a ‘review’ function through which you can see the details of the day. I have done a data analysis. The averarge time gap between customers is seven minutes. If I started counting the revenue when someone gets in, it is RMB10 for about 10 minutes. But for each customer who pays RMB10 and takes 17 minutes of time, the cost is actually RMB9.8 (=34.5 x 17 / 60). This is not making money!”

If we were to refer to customers heading to the airport as having a full meal, then customers who are travelling in short distance, 10 minutes for RMB10, then these customers cant even satisfy our hunger at all.”

This was astonishing. The driver did not sound like a taxi driver. He sounded more like an accountant.

“So what you do then?” I was even more interested and I continued talking to the driver. It looked like I was going to learn something new on the way to the airport.

“You must not let the customer lead you all over the place. You decide what you want to do based upon the location, time and customer.”

I was very surprised, but this made a lot of sense.

“Someone said that the taxi driving is a profession that depends on luck. I don’t think so. You have to stand in the position of the customer and consider things from the customer’s perspective.”

What the taxi driver said sounded very much like what many business management lecturers said: “Put yourself in other’s shoe.”

image


Put Yourself in other’s shoe. Image Credit: Quotesvalley

“Let me give you an example. You are at the entrance to a hospital. There is someone holding some medicine and there is someone else holding a washing basin. Which person will you pick up?”

I thought about it and I said that I didn’t know.

“You take the one with the washing basin. If you have a minor complaint that you want to be examined and to get some medication, you don’t usually go to a hospital far away. Anyone who is carrying a washing basin has definitely just been discharged from the hospital.”

The taxi driver continued: “When people enter the hospital, some of them die. Today, someone on the second floor dies. Tomorrow, someone else on the third floor dies. Those who make it out of the hospital usually have a feeling of having been given a second life and they recognize the meaning of life again — health is the most important thing. So on that day a person was discharged, that person told me, “Go … go to Qingpu.” Would you say that he wanted to take a taxi to the People’s Plaza to transfer to the Qingpu line subway? Absolutely not! He would definitely take a taxi and enjoy a comfortable ride.”

I began to admire him.

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Flagging Taxi. Image Credit: Jill Konrath

“Let me give you another example. That day at the People’s Plaza, three customer prospects were waving at me. One was a young woman who had just finished shopping and was holding some small bags. Another was a young couple who were out for a stroll. The third one was a man who wore a silk shirt and a down jacket and holding a notebook computer bag.”

The taxi driver continued, “I spent three seconds looking at each person and I stopped in front of the man without hesitation. When the man got in, he said: ‘Yannan Elevated Highway. South North Elevated Highway .’ Before even finishing, he could not help but ask, ‘Why did you stop in front of me without hesitating? There were two people in front. They wanted to get on as well. I was too embarrassed to fight with them.’ I replied, ‘It is around noon and just a dozen or so minutes before one o’clock. That young woman must have slipped out at noon to buy something and I guess that her company must be nearby. That couple are tourists because they are not holding anything and they are not going to travel far. You are going out on business. You are holding a notebook computer bag, so I can tell that this is business. If you are going out at this time, I guess that it would not be too close.’ The man said, ‘You are right. I’m going to Baoshan.’”

“Are those people wearing pyjamas in front of supermarkets or subway stations going to travel far? Are they going to the airport? The airport is not going to let them enter.”

That makes sense! I began to enjoy this conversation with the taxi driver more and more.

“Many drivers complain that business is tough and the price of gas has gone up. They are trying to pin the cause down on other people. If you keep pinning the cause on other people, you will never get any better. You must look at yourself to see where the problem is. This sounds very familiar. It seems like “If you cannot change the world, then you should change yourself” or perhaps a pirated copy of Steven Corey’s “Circles of Influence and Concern.”

“One time, on Nandan Road, someone flagged me down and wanted to go to Tianlin. Later on, someone else flagged me down on Nandan Road and he also wanted to go to Tianlin. So I asked, ‘How come all you people who came out on Nandan Road wants to go to Tianlin?’ He said, ‘There is a public bus depot at Nandan Road. We all take the public bus from Pudong to there, and then we take the taxi to Tianlin. So I understood. For example, you look at the road that we just passed. There are no offices, no hotels, nothing. Just a public bus station. Those people who flag down taxis there are mostly people who just got off the public bus, and they look for the shortest road for a taxi. People who flag down taxis here will usually ride not more than RMB15. I never return to pick up customers at Nandan Road during that hour anymore. ”

“Therefore,

I say that the attitude determines everything!”

I have heard dozens of company CEO’s say that, but this was the first time that I heard a taxi driver say that.

The taxi driver continued his story, “We need to use scientific methods and statistics to conduct a business. Those people who wait at the subway exits every day for business will never make money. How are you going to provide for your wife and kids at RMB500 a month? You must arm yourself with knowledge. You have to learn and acquire knowledge to become a smart person. A smart person learns knowledge in order to become a very smart person. A very smart person learns knowledge in order to become a genius.”

“One time, a person wanted a taxi in order to get to the train station. I asked him how he wanted to go. He told me how to get there. I said that was slow. I said to get on the elevated highway and go this other way. He said that it was a longer way. I told him, ‘No problem. You have experience because you go that way frequently. It costs you RMB50. If you go my way, I will turn off the meter when it reaches RMB50. You can just pay me RMB50. Anything more is mine. If you go your way, it will take 50 minutes. If I go my way, it will take 25 minutes.’ So in the end, we went my way. We traveled an additional four kilometers but 25 minutes quicker. I accepted only RMB50. The customer was very delighted for saving about RMB10. What he didn’t know is that this extra four kilometers cost me just over RMB1 in gas. So I have swapped RMB1 for 25 extra minutes of my time. As I just said, my hourly cost is 34.5 RMB. It was quite worthwhile for me! Win win.”

image

Image Credit: thefengshuiguy

“In a public taxi company, an ordinary driver takes three to four thousand RMB home per month. The good driver can get around five thousand. The top driver can get seven thousand RMB. Out of the 20,000 drivers, there are about two to three who can make more than 8,000 RMB a month. I am one of those two or three. Furthermore, it is very stable without too much fluctuation.”

By this point, I admired this taxi driver even more.

“I often tell everyone that I am a happy driver. Some people say, ‘That’s because you earn a lot of money. Of course, you must be happy.”

I tell them, ‘You are wrong. This is because I have a happy and active mind, and that is why I make a lot of money.’

What a wonderful way to put it!

“You have to appreciate the beauty that your work brings. Stuck in a traffic jam at People’s Plaza, many drivers complain, ‘Oh, there’s a traffic jam again! What rotten luck!’ You must not have that kind of mindset. You should try to experience the beauty of the city. There are many pretty girls passing by. There are many tall modern buildings; although you cannot afford them, you can still enjoy them with an appreciative look. While driving to the airport, you can look at the greenery on both sides. In the winter, it is white. How beautiful! Look at the meter — it is more than RMB100. That is even more beautiful! Each job has its own beauty. We need to learn how to experience that beauty in our line of work.”

When we arrived at the airport, I gave him my business card and said, “This Friday, are you interested in coming to my office and explain to our employees about how you operate your taxi? You can treat it as if your meter is running at 60 kilometers per hour. I will pay you for the time that you talk to us. Give me a call.”