Strategy 101 with Joescher Chee

I attended my first ever strategy workshop on 4 January 2018. I felt my afternoon was well spent, listening to Joescher Chee sharing his knowledge, wisdom and insights. Unlike many people who lived their lives mechanically or in a haze from dawn till dusk, birth till death, Joescher got his wake-up call early in life. At 17, after a death-defying experience, he asked himself if his life mattered and what his purpose in life was. From then on, he changed his life profoundly and embarked on a meaningful life to become better and to help others as well.

In 2018, Joescher Chee has come very far in life. He is the Founder and CEO of Global Strategy Advisory, Co-Founder of Strategy Masterclass for CEOs and Entrepreneurs, an international speaker, and a branding expert who consulted over 200 brands across 23 industries.

Joescher Chee
Joescher Chee

So, what is strategy? Most people have vague ideas of what strategy is supposed to be, but Joescher demystified the term easily. He explained strategy as ‘the blueprint to get you from point A to B’. In business, there are various types of strategies. For example, business strategy is what drives your business, while brand strategy is what should your brand stand for. Marketing and communication strategy is how to reach out to customers, whereas advertising strategy involves how and where to advertise.

So, why is strategy important to a company? Usually, companies only notice the symptoms of a lack of strategy, which include stalling shares, falling market share, losing money, reducing margins, declining productivity, being stuck in the status quo, and diminishing employee morale. However, Joescher explained that these are just the fruits or outcomes of trouble related to a lack of strategy, which is the root of the problem. In order to fix the symptoms, we must first address the root cause.

Through his many years of consulting, Joescher noticed that companies normally fail because of 3 main reasons – no blueprint (strategy), wrong blueprint, or cannot execute the blueprint.

“Most companies in Asia are very good in execution, but they execute the wrong strategy,” said Joescher. “No good customer or supplier will want to jump into a ship that is lost.”

“If you don’t have a strategy, you don’t have a direction, you are lost,” he elaborated. “If your company doesn’t have a strategy, it simply won’t get you to the destination.”

On the other hand, if you have a strategy, you will have clarity, control, certainty and confidence. You will have a structured approach to smart growth and a clear road map to achieve breakthrough performance.

In the strategy workshop, he shared 3 strategy tools that are essential and practical for businesses. They are 3 Critical Choices, The Golden Ratio, and Industry Attractiveness.

The 3 critical choices are to be the Biggest, Best, or Most Profitable. Many years ago, businesses could achieve success by focusing on any 1 of them, but in our current age, with increasing competition, 1 is no longer enough.

In The Golden Ratio, the 3 important aspects of a business, regardless of industry, are simplified as Marketing, Operations, and Production. How a company decides on the ratio of focus, how much weight to give each aspect, will determine whether a company succeeds or fails.

The third strategy tool discussed was Industry Attractiveness. This is because the attractiveness of an industry also plays a very important role in how well a company performs. The higher the score, the more attractive the industry.

From this workshop, another point I found important was the importance of standing out from the rest – how to make yourself unique and special as compared to your competitors. As Joescher said, “In this world today, if your business is not a brand, it is a commodity. If it is a commodity, it can only compete on price.”

Business, brand and leadership strategy are required to transform organisations, cities and even countries. A clear strategy, a winning blueprint and a solid growth plan are indispensable to achieving business success for any company, in any industry worldwide. That is how critical the right strategy is, and therefore we as individuals can go so much further in life if we also had a clear strategy ourselves.

Feeling appreciated

I have been working since 2000. Contrary to my coursemates who applied for prestigious jobs in the cities once they graduated, I decided to work as a research assistant in the university and do my Master of Science (Environmental Science) at the same time.

It has been 17 years since then, and I have worked for all manner of employers, from tiny three-person companies to sizeable international ones, but somehow, the interest wanes after one to two years, and boredom sets in as I do the same thing over and over again, year after year. In my last job, in my fourth year, I tried to apply for a transfer to another department to have a change of environment and job scope, but my application was unsuccessful. I then did the next best thing. I set out on my own, choosing to become self-employed.

Of course, this does not mean self-employment is for everybody, nor do I recommend it for anyone who is having issues with boredom at work. Self-employment is a major life-changing decision, and can only be made after careful consideration of all important aspects of one’s life, and everybody’s life is unique and different.

There are many pros and cons in relation to being employed by a company, but I feel the top reason why employees stay on even though they are unhappy is perceived job security. Sometimes, the only reason they bother to wake up and go to the office is to get a pay cheque at the end of the month. It has become a mechanical action for countless people every day – to get up, dress up, and show up. And that is how they pass their time, year after year, decade after decade, till retirement. The retirement age in Malaysia used to be 55. Now, it is 60. Maybe 10 year later, as the workforce ages progressively and costs of living rises steadily, the retirement age might be raised to 65. Who knows?

However, in these trying times of economic uncertainty, I sometimes feel that job security is somewhat of an illusion. Terms like ‘retrenchment’ and ‘VSS’ are becoming increasingly common. Even though staff do not want to think about it, it is there, lurking in the dark corners of their mind.

In times like these, it would be useful to pick up a new skill, or learn a new trade, or even take a hobby to the next level. Perhaps, the new experience might spark passion in a previously undiscovered area, and lead to a new direction, and hopefully more interesting times ahead. Let’s face it. How many people will not get bored working in the same job for 10 to 30 years?

Another area of concern for me in full-time employment is the lack of appreciation from employers. Since staff are paid for their time and effort, it is easy to take them for granted, treating them as if they owe the company, simply because they are paid to work. It is like deja vu. In large organisations, sometimes staff are like hundreds of cows or sheep. The top management simply thinks of their workers en masse, and not as individuals with unique aspirations, interests and needs.

Strangely, I have found appreciation in other areas, all of which do not concern full-time employment. Since a young age, I have always had an interest in volunteer work, serving the community and environmental conservation and protection. It is the organisations and individuals in this area that are the most appreciative of my contributions.

In 2008, the Selangor Branch of the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) gave me a branch award in recognition of my contributions as a volunteer.

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About 10 years later, our MNS Selangor Branch chairperson Pasu brought back a certificate of appreciation from the recent national AGM in Langkawi for me. It was a pleasant surprise that an award was presented to me at an AGM that I did not attend. 😀

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Even though I will not likely be awarded any long-service awards by any organisations in the future, these NGO awards will always remind me that I have contributed meaningfully to worthy causes and people have taken note of my contributions. And that is how I would like to be remembered.

❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mindful Monday: Practice Being Thankful #mindfulmonday

In our modern lives, we rush from point to point, meeting to meeting, event to event. In the past, we did this in a relatively private setting, and only our family, close friends and colleagues knew how busy (or not busy) we were. However, with the advent of social media, everybody seemed to want to outdo each other to show how marvelously interesting or exciting their lives were. When did our lives become a reality show and privacy become old news? People who could afford to lead exciting lives full of holidays, parties and glamorous events drew envy, while those who could not afford to do so, suddenly had a reason to feel incomplete or lacking in some way. Most do not realise that this is an unhealthy trend.

Being thankful1

Realise that You Do Not Need to Keep Up with the Joneses

As the saying goes – “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Let the flashy neighbours buy their new car. Your 5-year-old car is doing fine. Of course, it might have a hiccup once in a while. There might be some repairs required from time to time, or some new parts, but that is just wear and tear. Keep the bonus you would use as a downpayment for a spanking new car for a rainy day instead, and forget about getting a loan to buy that hot red two-seater convertible you have been eyeing for the past week.

Let your old school friend buy the latest smartphone model, for which he declared he was going to queue outside the shop for from 7am onwards on launch day. Yours is only a year old. It was the latest model when you bought it and it still serves you well, without any problems.

Let your colleague buy the new eight-thousand-ringgit piano for his musically gifted daughter. Your son is enjoying his guitar lessons and your old guitar, given to you by your father on your birthday, is still is good condition. Stop thinking about getting an eight-thousand-ringgit violin and switching the boy to take violin lessons.

Realise That You Have Many Things to Be Thankful For

Do not look at what you do not have. Instead, look at what you do have.

Of course, your neighbour’s spanking new car looks gorgeous. But one day, it will grow old and your neighbour will grow tired of it, and the neighbourhood will stop ogling at it in favour of something else that is new and exciting. As with all things new, it will one day become passé, or old news.

Furthermore, your old school friend’s smartphone will attract an orbit of curious people wanting to check out the latest model, but it might not necessarily be the best in the market, or trouble-free. Sometimes, it is better to let people test the latest model first, then give their reviews. Based on informed and unbiased reviews, you can then decide if buying the new phone is indeed worthwhile. If you are unlucky, your latest model might come packaged with hardware weaknesses or software glitches.

Lastly, if your kid loves playing the guitar, let him be. Do not try something funny, or you will end up with a kid that will not play any musical instrument at all. Kids are a force to be reckoned with and you want your kid to be cooperative and on your side. 🙂

Instead of dwelling on what you do not have, make it a point to think of what you do have. If you do not have the habit of having such thoughts, try making a list to help you along. Stick the list on our fridge door, or on your car dashboard, or at the side of your computer monitor screen.

You do not need to copy somebody else’s list. Your list is custom-designed by you, and is only applicable for you. Here’s an example:

Being thankful

Your list does not need to be long, grand or complicated. It can have only three items, or it can have ten. It is entirely up to you.

Make It a Habit to Think of Things You are Thankful For

We all have to start somewhere, sometime. Why not now?

If you do not have the habit of being thankful for all the good things in your life, then you have to kick-start the habit. Here are some things you can do to help you along:

  1. Take 5-10 mins a day to think of everything you are thankful for. You might want to make it the same time every day, just to help make this habit-forming exercise a bit easier. For example, when you wake up every morning, or right before you go to sleep. If you want to take it a bit further, you can meditate quietly on the topic of thankfulness for 10 mins a day.
  2. Try to observe your thoughts. Once you find that you are thinking of something you are unhappy or dissatisfied about, for example, your boss did not appreciate all the articles you wrote for the company website, try to switch this thought with something you are thankful for, such as your mango tree bloomed for the first time since you planted it in the garden five years ago. You will have mango fruits soon!
  3. The little things count. In fact, the little things make the biggest difference. Being thankful is not about lavish things and big gestures. These are infrequent and far between. What are you going to do in the meantime, while you wait for the next one? The little things are small, and might seem insignificant, but they make the most difference because they happen every day. For example, the cheerful admin lady who wishes you good morning every day, or the old friend who calls you to ask you how you are getting on and tell you the latest good news about your ex-classmates. They might be common and even mundane, but they help to brighten up even the most dull and boring day.

So, make it a habit to be thankful. Maybe it will not make much of a difference in your life, but maybe it will make you smile more often, or even sleep better at night! Who knows? 🙂

Here’s to new beginnings and better days to come. 😀

 

Note: I was inspired to write my Mindful Monday posts after reading Silver Threading‘s Mindful Monday articles. Please visit her blog to read her latest Mindful Monday post, entitled How to catch more zzzz’s. 😉

 

 

 

 

 

Perseverance

Here is a 5-line tanka for your reading pleasure. 🙂

Perseverance

Focus attention
On attainment of success
Determination
The goal is within your reach
Believe that you can achieve

 

An original tanka by
Khor Hui Min
31 July 2014

 

Poetic style

This poem was written in the style of a tanka. A tanka is a Japanese poem (also known as a waka or uta). A tanka poem is similar to a haiku poem, but has two additional lines.

A tanka has 5 lines and 31 syllables. The structure is as follows:

Line 1 – 5 syllables
Line 2 – 7 syllables
Line 3 – 5 syllables
Line 4 – 7 syllables
Line 5 – 7 syllables

I’ve shown my poem with the number of syllables per line as below:

(5) Focus attention
(7) On attainment of success
(5) Determination
(7) The goal is within your reach
(7) Believe that you can achieve

To find out more about tanka poems, visit the Young Writers’ Website.

 

Kindness

Like the fleeting wind, or a breath of fresh air
Kindness come and goes, gentle and caressing
Smile on a mother’s face, stroking her babe’s hair
Laughter of a young girl, with her pet, playing
A thoughtful umbrella in a storm, to share
Hands of a man, outstretched to a boy, helping
Kindness is soft as a feather, never hard
Comforting, considerate, never on guard

 

An original poem by
Khor Hui Min
21 July 2014

 

Poetic style
This poem was written in the style of an Ottava Rima. It is an Italian poem made up of eight lines that rhyme. Each line consists of eleven syllables.

An Ottava Rima poem is made up of an octave with the following rhyming pattern:

 ab
 ab
 ab
 cc

The rhyming pattern for my poem is shown below:

(a)  Like the fleeting wind, or a breath of fresh air
(b)  Kindness come and goes, gentle and caressing
(a)  Smile on a mother’s face, stroking her babe’s hair
(b)  Laughter of a young girl, with her pet, playing
(a)  A thoughtful umbrella in a storm, to share
(b)  Hands of a man, outstretched to a boy, helping
(c)  Kindness is soft as a feather, never hard
(c)  Comforting, considerate, never on guard

To read more about the Ottava Rima poetic form, visit the Young Writers’ Website.