Saturday, July 30, 2011

Fancy 1000 strategies in your pocket? - How to navigate & stay on top in a world full of chaotic turmoil

Being the main star needs to be strategic to get on top
The world is not as you imagined
Taking a cue from Steve Jobs when he first introduced the Ipod in 2001, as Communications Strategy Coach, I always keep a variety of strategies in my pocket at any one time - 1000 songs in your pocket?. Now teaching over 80 students at any time, I have found the strategies I've learned over the years as an artiste have truly helped me in managing different people of various temperaments. Learning the hard way is not for everyone, but if you have the money, then hire a Communications Coach to cut the way shorter. The world is full of turmoil. Do not live under the delusion that everything is fine and dandy, all glamour and lights. Our world is a hostile place, squeezed by hostile corporate takeovers, bankrupted by bank mergers and changing political in-fighting for more power resulting in social unrest. Personally for me, I have been "unfortunate" to have bumped into many wrong walls - taking a look at my past various performances both in TV dramas and films. Local dramas/film productions are so full of turmoil, chaos and hardship for the actors.

Ignoring communication in an industry that should value communication at its core
Being an actor, in Malaysia, you'd faced so many hardships. For example, I've starred in quite a highly-rated medical drama series a few years back. According to a source, the episode where I've starred in had surpassed the 2 million viewer points, the highest ever of any episode for that series. After these years, let me say it was NOT a happy experience for me. For this episode, my character was to play a gay character (controversial role in a society like ours), and my co-star was someone I don't respect much in real life because he came off as someone very arrogant and selfish. Worst, I have to play the character who loved him on screen. Here's where an actor has to literally bite the bullet and act. When you watch the episode, you wouldn't even notice that I actually balked at the idea of "loving him" - at least not superficially. You really get to watch my acting skills whenever I have to face someone I dislike.

Confusion and favouritism on set
The second hardship is with the local production crew for this particular drama. The Production Manager acted all like she's the director, producer and goddamn producer - shouting at the talents, directing and using abusive words against them. And you know what - she's only 24 years old that time. Who on earth has the right mind to put such a person as the PM? Now, you'll be surprised how many of these "young punks" are put in the so-called casting director's chair or production manager, simply because they're cheap to be hired. Besides, who wouldn't want to be in the position of shouting and acting like the director? That's another problem with local producers - they like to hire cheap. But cheap only gets you cheap quality. Local producers simply don't care about the working condition - no ethics in managing people, last minute changes and throwing blame at each other instead of owning up to their responsibilities. Turmoil. Looking back, I'm thankful for that experience for it makes me appreciate my own abilities in communication skills.

Doing the best with what you have
The third hardship is the constant switching and changing of clothes and dialogue. A lot of favouritism is placed, when it comes to giving whom the most dialogues. A lot of eager actors would go after roles with plenty of dialogues under the false impression that they'll get more screen time. Like in that particular episode I starred in, I was supposed to play the character who's bed ridden in the hospital. But at the last minute, they switched the role. But good for me - because then I'm able to rest more. Many thought I would be frustrated, especially the PM, but hey, I was actually relieved! I may not get the sick role, but I'd do just as best I could with what I have. For that part, I have to bring my own clothes, same like everyone else - and look what I wore. A striking red. Got just as much attention as any other actors in that scene, if not even more.

Plan all the way to the end
Mind you, that TV drama episode was aired way before the KFC commercial came out just last year. And see who has the last laugh in the end? A lot of people may belittle you, say bad things about your looks, height and weight. But remember - only the end that matters. A lot of times you have to stand up for yourself when it becomes too intense and the injustice is too glaring to be taken lightly. A lot of my students are afraid to offend or displease the producers and directors. But that would only give them more leeway to intimidate you and use you to their advantage. Aspiring artistes, you must be strong and patient to strive on. Your time to shine will eventually come. Here's where the communication strategies learned are most important. Not only for actors, but CEOs and managers can benefit from these strategies too. To all my muslim students, friends and clients, I wish you all a Happy Fasting Month. Only do it if it makes you happy.

Friday, July 22, 2011

When one becomes a Communications Strategy Coach FULL-TIME, beware of the food intake

neYes, girls and boys. It's official. I am now a Communications Strategy Coach full-time. More specifically - teaching English communication in the food and beverage industry. Before this, I have been coaching on a part-time basis, knowing how much time and energy are needed to plan. Now, this is something I have always been aware of. Food! But it can be difficult to resist food, since SO MUCH energy is dispensed everyday, teaching and coaching, persuading and laughing with my students - who mostly are inept in the English language. Not to mention, I have to outline the course details, remembering to give balance in each class in terms of the content and the manner in which I teach, so it will always be fresh and exciting in attracting these students to attend everyday. When so much energy is dispensed in all these coaching work and planning, naturally one would have to eat some food to replenish one's loss of humongous energy. And how much weight have I gained since! (almost 2kg). Check out my NEW commercial in Youtube:

Communication Barriers
First and foremost, I can't possibly joke with my international students in English, which I always did with my other local students. This group of students are more "international", being that they are not locals and English is not their first language. So you can imagine how tough it is for me to even communicate and teach the simplest terms to them. Being a communications coach, I have been able to utilise my years of "bumping into the wrong wall" experience, and come up with strategies that find its way into the minds and hearts of my new found international audience. The first week was exciting - getting to know each and everyone of them, more than 80 of them. I predict more new faces are coming.

Using Communication Strategies
Strategies mean using my interpersonal skills, experience, knowledge, even body language and facial expression to communicate and reach out to them. It's all really natural to me, since I have the experience of being an actor, so I find the skills I've learnt on set have truly helped. Of course, some of the students in the group knew of my past TV appearances, so it helps to connect and flame the camaraderie. It's all good, positive rapport! And with all the good vibes, my students would sometimes bring me some food. The first time, I didn't expect it, for I do not want to be too comfortable and take any advantage. But there are some interesting foods - like the pig patee served with bread. Creamy and really filling! Oh, the pig patee is to die for, it's all mashed up into a dry paste, in which you can spread over the bread like some butter, served with a cup of milked coffee.

Like a Professional
Later, one of my students who is in charge of supplying food (secretly) to the floor staff when they're working, decided to let me taste their traditional noodles. Glass bee-hoon in sweet, sour and little bit spicy soup, mixed together with some mushrooms and giant onions. I declined at first, for I do not want to take anybody's share, but the student insisted. She even have the food sent up to me at my class - all nicely presented like a professional chef would have done - with the steel lid cover over the bowl and white napkins and silver cutlery. Impressive.

Lunchtime is my coaching time
The timing of my work starts also clash with lunchtime, which I have to immediately head back to the training room, after a quick lunch. The area of the restaurant and bar, is thankfully packed with a few Chinese food stalls, but a tad expensive to my taste. I tried the mixed rice shop at Sg Wang food court, and I advised you guys not to eat there for dinner. Seriously, the food quality has deteriorated much. So the only available place is Jalan Alor, and even that place I don't favor much because the price. But the place is pretty packed with other specialty restaurants. One of my students passed me some shrimps and white buns as snacks to take away, which I saved it to prepare my dinner for the night. They really love me. Hopefully all the love will not be channelled to my weight gain! Ai-yai-yai, I definitely have to go for a hardy swim session tomorrow!

Monday, July 11, 2011

My Birthday Celebration - An important record of my present state of Mind and Body.

A little surprise party organised by my latest batch of students
Auspicious Day on an Auspicious Year
At this day 11 July, 2011, what a beautiful day and numbering too. Of course I am referring to my birthday. As  of now, I have received a total of 5 birthday wishes (more are expecting to come), 3 special gifts and 1 very good feeling - that I am guided by a greater power than myself. No money problems at the moment. Got a roof over my head. Good health. Good mind. What more could a man ask for? I believe when we ask for more, we may get it. Sometimes more does not mean it's better quality. So one simply just count one's blessings. Do you know this year, all my numbers consists of the same numbering pairs, even my age? Beautiful....

Surprised and thankful for the love received from my students
Gaining Momentum - One Goal at a Time
Career-wise, I have achieved what I've set out to do. First I wanted to be infamous, and did. Second, I wanted to become an actor, and I did. The third act, and current one, is to become a teacher, and I am now still teaching - this time so much bigger than the last batch of students. Of course, acting is still going on, but on one's birthday, one would consider taking only quality projects. I am so happy that my ex-student got a film role! He shall be a shining example of my success in coaching students who aspire to become artistes. Great job, S.Nair! Diversified skill sets are important in generating a great income. That's why joining an Artiste Training Course can be your next crucial career decision.

Some presents received - but the little Golden Pig means the most!
Love for Others
Love-wise is a bit tricky. When one has attained a certain kind of "fame", one tends to be more careful in inviting anyone into one's life. Even friendship-wise, I have learned much that even the most honest friends can be just as manipulative as the bad friends. Recently, I tried to hook up 2 of my old single friends from camp together, giving them my blessings if they were to become a couple. But they denied their relationship for some time, even when they were actually together, right in front of me - hence, indirectly giving me the impression that I am the other guy, someone to be mistrusted? It's all human nature. The pangs of insecurities constantly scratches into the minds and hearts. One can only be still, and heed these wise words "This too, shall pass..."

My birthday cake - short, sweet & delicious
Being Happy to Meet Challenges
In fact, my new stint at a famous restaurant in Changkat, has actually revitalised my fame value - this time  towards the Myanmar nationals. They are an interesting lot of people - a breath of fresh air to the concept of being Asian, which encapsulates so much diversity. I may have a great challenge in front of me - educating them in the English language. But life is a series of challenges, isn't it? One must face each day with a bold and  daring heart to take life by its horns and turn it into the direction one hopes will lead the next new venture. Like the Spanish bullfighter in the rings of life, hold on to your red cloth. Victory belongs to the brave.

Love is Anywhere when You Have Love Yourself
On my way back from teaching, my students gave me a surprise birthday cake. In my heart I am so very touched and thankful, for I truly teach them with all my heart, and they felt it too. My sincerity in really teaching and hoping for their advancement in the language is evident, everytime when they attended my class, I sense a kind of excitement and anticipation. Here I would like to wish all my students at the restaurant and bar a big THANK YOU.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

My new MP4 - enjoying it so much, and it's neither Ipod or Sony. It's....

Sick for 2 days....
...ZEN Creative! Yes, and I got it at a sale too. Before I delve further into this little gem, I would like to apologise for my late entry update, due to my extreme sick condition. You guys must have felt it too, the crazy extremely hot weather. Plus, I used to eat a lot of "heaty" stuff, and one of my friend invited me out for dinner and ordered me a watermelon juice, after that, it's all downhill! I was sick for 2 full days, with so little energy. And in that 2 days, I got so many things to do! What such luck. So I forced myself out from bed and went attending all the various errands for my company.

Comes with slot for removable SD Card (but max up to 4gig only)
Now back to my new MP4, I am quite pleasantly surprised to got it, for I was walking in Best Denki, new outlet opening at KLCC. They were having a sales, and suddenly I spotted this MP4. The size is only 2gig, but it has a removable SD card. The promoter was good at selling it. But there are limitation for the SD card could only carry maximum up to 4gig. So it adds up to 6gig of music storage. It was the LAST one in the store, and 2 has already been sold off.

Simple interface

Sound quality good, interface so-so
The sound quality of Zen Creative is pretty on par with Sony, with its rich bass. I am quite drawn to it. And surprised. My attraction to it must also do with its size. Fits nicely into the palm of my hand. But as I browse through the interface of the mp4, I discovered that there's no album cover to categorize each music selection into its own proper albums. The earphones are simple. Sometimes, I would have to dig the earphones deeper into my eardrums, to actually hear the music, or I have to amp up the volume.

Why do they persuade me to get the adaptor?
When I purchase this mp4, the promoter persuaded me to buy the Zen adaptor as well, and it costs like RM5. So I did. The reason she gave was the adaptor that comes with the mp4 is very short and can only be connected to a laptop. Unfortunately, the downside of using the Zen Adaptor is, after being charged, the mp4 just went blank! I just couldn't switch on the player in a normal way! Instead, I have to use a pin to poke inside the setting hole, which is pretty ridiculous for me. One important tip to remember when purchasing anything at Best Denki: KEEP THE RECEIPTS! They actually considered that as some sort of warranty, at least in the case of my mp4 purchase.

Made in Hong Kong and pretty good
But i conclusion, Zen Creative is actually a good product. If you're looking for sound quality, it is satisfactory. For interface on the screen, still very basic compared to Ipod or Sony, which are more advanced and more colourful. Transferring of music wise, it is very easy to do. But if you have a huge library of music to carry with you, then you would need to buy several SD cards and keep it with you, which is not practical. Before I purchase the Zen Creative, which was the last one in stock, I did went over to Sony Station to enquire about the arrival of their latest walkman models. Still no news. Frustrated, I'll just have to keep this Zen for company.