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.

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Living more sustainably – the plastic dilemma

If you read the newspapers or online news websites, or watch the news on TV, you would have noticed that pollution is a chronic problem affecting our natural environment, especially since plastic was invented.

Plastics everywhere

Plastic has been around for the last 60-70 years, but it has revolutionised our urban existence. Because plastic is so flexible and created to last such a long time, it has been an ingredient added into everything from clothing, cooking and catering equipment, to engineering and retailing materials. The problem is that nearly all plastic that has ever been created still exists today in some form, as they take a very long time to degrade. The chart below from BBC’s ‘Seven Charts That Explain the Pollution Problem’ illustrates clearly the lifespan of plastic.

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Due to consumerism, our lifestyles have largely become unsustainable, and we generate too much trash every day, to the extent that landfills are filling up way too fast.

Making Choices

So, what can we do as ordinary people to be more sustainable in our daily lives? Well, it’s all about choices. Yesterday, I participated in a beach clean-up at Bagan Lalang in Sepang, and after the activity, some of us were very thirsty, so we bought some drinks from a drink stall nearby. A friend thought out loud, “We just picked up all the trash on this beach. After that, are we going to generate more trash?” She was referring to the plastic cups. I said I was not going to throw the cup away, but bring it home, wash it, and reuse it. Reusing stuff is a very important part of a more sustainable lifestyle.

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The cup I brought back from Bagan Lalang Beach
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I stack up the cups and store them in my cabinet with all my baking stuff. Left of cups – stacked up containers with cookie cutters & other small pieces of equipment). On the right – cake boards.

Reusing Plastic Items

Plastic cups, plates, bowls, cutlery, etc. all can be taken home, washed, stored neatly and reused, at least for a few times. I like to keep them for outings, barbecues and parties. Once they are damaged, broken, change colour or warp in some way, then it is time to put them in the recycling bin.

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Reusable Cutlery, Straws & Containers

It is handy to bring your own set of reusable cutlery along with you to work or outings. In that way, you do not need to get the disposable type. These are very common now – they are made of extra sturdy plastic or metal, and come in their own containers or pouches. If the food seller offers disposable food containers and cutlery to you, you can politely decline them.

Similarly, bamboo and stainless steel straws are becoming more popular and more widely sold now. So, if you are the type that likes to sip your iced drinks through straws, it is a good idea to get yourself one.

Plan ahead. If you like to buy food on the way to work or on the way back home, it is good to have a few reusable food containers in the car or in your bag. For those who go out during lunchtime to buy food back to the office, having a reusable container in your office drawer, plus reusable cutlery, is a good idea.

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Bringing your own reusable container when buying food is an excellent habit. In this photo – nasi kerabu with half a salted egg.

If you like to buy coffee or drinks on-the-go, then it will be good to have a thermos or tumbler in the car or in your bag, so that you can do away with paper or plastic cups. Do you know that paper drink cups are not recyclable? The plastic waterproof lining of many paper cups makes them unrecyclable. If they are collected with paper and cardboard, they may actually contaminate the whole load because they are also dirty/stained – this will cause the lot to be sent to landfill.

For those who travel frequently, or like to have garden parties or picnics, a set of reusable lightweight crockery and cutlery would be ideal to have. I got this 46-piece blue picnic set at carrefour many years ago, and they have served me well.

Recycling Plastic Items That Can’t Be Used Anymore

Once your reusable plastic items cannot be reused anymore, it is time to put them in the recycling bin. I sort my recyclables the low-tech way in my yard – one bag for plastics, one bag for paper, one bag for metal items, and another bag for glass items. It takes me a few months to fill up a bag. When a bag is full, I will take it to a recycling bin.

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Remember that you have to clean your plastic containers, glass bottles and metal tins before you put them in your recycling bin. You do not want to contaminate the whole bin. Also, please take note that soiled/dirty paper cannot be recycled. Dirty paper (especially those stained with food) will contaminate all the paper pulp during recycling.

So, if you haven’t thought about living more sustainably, it is never too late to start. If you are already doing all the necessary steps for living a more sustainable life, then congratulations! Keep up the good work.