Monday, August 30, 2010

Women of Today

Women of today are busy people. In fact, many are extremely so.

It used to be that the sole role women played for hundreds, if not thousands, of years was that of the homemaker. They were humbly known as housewives.

'Housewife' is a demeaning term. If you are a 'housewife' it means you: (1) belong only to the house, and (2) are someone else's property (a wife).

To make things worse, housewives were usually deemed the least productive members of the labour hierarchy. Because it was not easy to quantify productivity of something so non-monetary in economic terms, housewives had always been a deprived and under-recognised segment of society.

Having said all that, however, these housewives decades ago were the lucky ones as they were only required to stay home and fulfil the 3C's - Cooking, Cleaning and Caring for the husband and children.

However, today, the world is changing and women are now playing a much more significant role in the productive labour force. It is now a norm to have both the husband and the wife working hard to provide for the family, something which used to be a chauvinistic responsibility.

With more women than men enrolled at institutions of higher learning throughout the world, and more and more women taking top jobs in multinational organisations and governments, it is now clear that the world is experiencing a great power shift - one that is moving gradually from a male-centric society to a more balanced male-female partnership model, or even a female dominant society eventually.

In my honest opinion, women are superior to men in many ways.

There are some virtues in women that are not always found in men; qualities such as perseverance, patience, focus and loyalty (in relative term).

Motherhood is a great training and testing ground for perseverance. The pain and suffering women must go through in the process of child bearing can never be fully understood by men (unless we get an opportunity to experience motherhood ourselves personally, which, unfortunately, is unlikely to happen).

Motherhood develops strength and unleashes the infinite potential in women, for without these qualities it is not easy pull through the process in its entirety.

Child delivery has been described as the most physically painful experience one will ever experience. This develops tolerance for pain in women that men can only envy.

Child rearing requires a tremendous amount of love and patience, and love and patience are the two most important qualities you must have in order to build cohesive teams. Having a cohesive team means half of your corporate battle is won.

Women are somehow much more able to concentrate on the things they pursue. This quality of focus is somehow slightly more difficult to find in men. While many men have demonstrated their ability to stay focused on one thing for a very long time, biologically and genetically women are built much more so for this purpose.

As a result of being more able to stay focused, more women graduate with tertiary qualification than men. And the ability to concentrate forges their ability to manage things in a microscopic manner. Attention to detail is an essential success element which many men, not all of course, lack.

Last but not least, loyalty seems to be another area which women excel in better than their male counterparts.

The fact that men have been given special privileges over the centuries is the reason why many of them feel that by merely being men they deserve special rights - amongst them the right to be disloyal, particularly in the marital sense.

Polygamy is a practice which existed for thousands of years, even within the Chinese context. It was supposedly acceptable for men to marry a few wives, but it was not okay for a woman to marry a few husbands. Of course I know there are reasons why this was or is still so, but this is not an area of discussion within in this article.

There is, however, a blessing in disguise in what the women had to go through historically. It has developed a stronger sense of loyalty to the entity they serve or belong to, be it their spouse, family or organisation.

This stronger sense of loyalty is a virtue that is treasured in the corporate world today, for loyalty forges trust, and trust - in turn - forges leadership.

It is little wonder why women of today are becoming more and more successful, and in many instances, much more so than their male counterparts.

To all the men out there - this is your wake up call, mate!

“Life is about constantly going beyond limits!”
- Erican Chong

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Success Habits

We are all beings of habits. How we live and what we do everyday are shaped by certain habits that are formed over the years.

Most successful people are successful not because they have extraordinary luck or work extraordinarily hard, but because they have extraordinary success habits.

On the other hand, many of those who have failed did so, not because they did not try hard enough, but because they had not developed a 'way of life' that would constantly steer them towards the direction of success, i.e. they were not equipped with 'success habits'.

Success Habits is an important concept for serious pursuers of success. It is important because without it, it is extremely difficult to go far in life.

'Why is it so?' You may ask.

The answer is that your ultimate success is usually a result of your consistency in life.

Success is not likely to happen overnight unless, of course, one strikes the lottery or receives a surprise inheritance from a long-lost millionaire uncle who happened to have no children.

Since the probability of one of the above mentioned events happening in real life is extremely low, you must not depend on it. Rather, you must depend on yourself to make it happen. And to make it happen, you cannot merely just 'do the things right' but also 'do the right things'.

In short, you must always 'do the right things right'!

But how can we always do the right things right? The only way for this to happen is if our brain is programmed in such a way that without having to always consciously remind ourselves, we simply will go about doing these 'rights things right’ unknowingly. It, therefore, needs to become habitual!

Anything that is not you or part of your system cannot last. The only things that will last are things you do as a habit or things that you love to do.

Say, for example, you do not like to study but you understand the importance of achieving good results. So you study hard. However, since intrinsically you do not like studying, it is unlikely that you will do so if there is no exam pressure. You will surely study very hard when an important exam is around the corner, but right after that, you will throw all your books away and party day and night until another exam comes again.

And yes, you can still do well academically and achieve good results, but you are unlikely to be a top-notch student. Top-notch students are those who love studying and have developed a habit for reading, learning and excelling. These top guns do not study for exams, they study because this is a habit of theirs - they merely do what they love to do and want to do, without having to constantly remind themselves to do it for better results.

When something is programmed in your brain, it becomes intrinsic. This means that whatever you do comes from your heart, without external forces. This is what we call Success Habits, and it is the most powerful type of success quality one can possibly possess.

Those who force it upon themselves to do the 'right things right' will find it impossible to follow through and achieve 100% consistency. In fact, you are considered fantastic if you are able to achieve 80% consistency.

Since the degree of one's success is a result of how consistently one can do the right things right, the one who achieves 100% consistency will achieve 100% success, and the one who achieves 80% will likely be only 80% successful.

Therefore, do not depend on luck; depend on Success Habits.

Make ‘doing all the right things’ such as working hard, thinking strategically, being passionate and positive, reading substantially, planning meticulously, speaking politely, treating people with sincerity and respect, asking questions, looking for solutions, learning and observing as habitual for you as the many other simple acts such as brushing your teeth in the morning, saying a prayer before you eat, combing your hair before you walk out of your house, and looking left and right before you cross a street.

Your habits in life will make or break you, so try your level best to weed out all of your bad habits and strengthen the good ones.

You will become much more successful in whatever you do before you know it.

So try it out and be amazed!

“Life is about constantly going beyond limits!”
- Erican Chong

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Action-packed Procrastinators

One of the biggest evils that often results in either personal or organisational failure is procrastination.

So many people lead a life deprived of achievements and recognition that they might have had if only they had not been haunted by the ghost of procrastination.

If you observe highly successful people in action, you will notice one thing - these guys are action packed and they achieve amazing accomplishments at lightning speed.

The one thing which is unlikely to be detected in these guys is procrastination.

Indeed, no procrastinators can ever achieve phenomenal success. They never will be, and nor are they ever meant to. If any of them ever should become successful, then it is likely to be by accident – that is, an act of God, rather than the act of man.

"But Erican Chong,” you may argue, “some people are slow moving and slow talking, but yet they are successful!"

Hark! Let us not be confused by 'slow moving' and 'slow acting'.

Some guys seem slow alright. They walk slowly and talk slowly but they act fast. The effectiveness of a person should not be measured the speed of his physical movement but by the speed of his execution and achievements.

Do not be fooled by the apparent physical slowness of some people. Some of these fellows can be the most effective and highest-achieving people around. The most effective people may not always be the fastest in moving or talking, but they are always the fastest in THINKING.

Stephen Hawking cannot move very fast; in fact, he cannot move at all. He has been confined to a wheelchair due to a lifelong battle with Lou Gehrig's disease. He is unable to move any part of his body except his facial muscles now, which he uses to control computer input for a voice synthesizer.

Despite the extreme physical challenges Stephen Hawking faces, he is one of the most productive and efficient men alive. Though it takes him many painful hours to get just a simple message across, the inner mind of this great man never rests; rather, it is constantly working at a frenzy pace, theorising, analysing, deducing and discovering.

So do not be misled by an external lack of action. What is important is what goes on inside of our brains.

A prudent and well thought-out idea, once properly executed, may seem overly slow or drawn-out, but it is far more efficient than a half-baked idea which has been hastily or haphazardly executed.

A well thought-out or planned idea always saves time. After all, since it is more likely to be successful, less re-work is involved and hence less time is wasted. A hasty or badly planned idea is unproductive because an untold number of corrections may need to be made along the way.

Some people seem 'action-packed' - they talk fast, walk fast, and do everything fast. However, these seemingly highly productive people may be some of the biggest procrastinators around. They are what I call the ‘Action-packed Procrastinators’.

"Hey, how can one move fast, and yet procrastinate?" You may wonder.

It is very possible. There are two different types of such procrastinators and I call them the Type X & Type Y Action-packed Procrastinators.

Type X Action-packed Procrastinators:

These people move fast; in fact, they move 'too fast'. They do not think carefully, plan properly, or exhaust all possibilities before they act. They implement 'half-baked' ideas in a haphazard manner. When they finally do realise that their ideas will not work due to the many weaknesses and 'holes' in their premature concept, it is usually too late or too costly to fix.

While these guys may feel that they are highly effective, they are actually worse than the real procrastinators. Real procrastinators are simply slow to act and therefore do not achieve; these Type X Procrastinators may incur tremendous financial or opportunity costs in their misguided efforts.

Type Y Action-packed Procrastinators:

These people move fast - they talk fast, walk fast and do everything fast. However, they do not have the patience to get anything done 100%. Due to their hyperactivity, they usually move on to the next thing before the previous thing they were working on was able to be completed.

So these guys work tirelessly, pursuing one goal after another. Unfortunately, however, they simply move on and on, without ever having properly completed anything. Because of this, they can never claim ownership of a successful project or venture.

These guys are stupid; they go round and round the mulberry bush, much like a hamster on a wheel. They think they are working very hard, but without any clear sense of direction, what is the point in them moving so fast?

In fact, if you are moving in the wrong direction, the faster you move the more damage will be done.

So put on your thinking cap and plan properly before you embark on anything. Be an action-packed achiever and say 'NO' to action-packed procrastination.

“Life is about constantly going beyond limits!”
- Erican Chong

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Acquaintances, Friends and Buddies

'Friends' is actually a generic term; it refers to 'all the people one knows'. This is, of course, an overly simplified definition.

There are actually different levels of friendship. The people that you know can be categorised into three different groups:

1. Acquaintances
2. Friends
3. Buddies

This is the natural progression of friendship development. Since nobody has unlimited amount of time for socialising, it is highly unlikely that anyone can develop friendships indiscriminately.

When you’re just starting out and your circle is still small, you are likely to want to make friends with anybody and everybody that you chance into. Your sole objective at this time would be to simply expand your social contacts.

However, as you grow and become more established, you realise that you need to be more selective about your friends and friendships. You must first decide what type of social circle you want to build, as this determines the kinds of friends you should have.

A friendship always begins with getting acquainted with someone somewhere, such as at a social function, at the workplace, in a bus, on a flight, in school, etc.

Each person you were introduced started off as an acquaintance, and the majority may remain as mere acquaintances.

Your 'social tentacles' are usually hard at work each time you meet someone, whether you know it or not. The minute you shake hands with a person, an impression is formed and you will develop a like or dislike for that individual.

You may be amazed to learn that you are not exactly the fair person you think you are. Most people aren’t. There will be some people that you are naturally able to 'click' with, while there will be some that you may talk to, but it is merely all superficial friendliness. There may even be a few people that you do not wish to ever see again, even though you can’t explain why you feel that way at all.

This is your subconscious mind at work, a higher - yet usually dormant - form of intelligence that you are equipped with. We call this our 'instinct' and it can be quite accurate.

The Pureto Principal usually applies in the process of friendship development - 80% of the people you meet for the first time will be mere acquaintances; these are the people you will nod to or shake hands with politely when you bump into one another again, but that will be it.

Some people claim that they 'know’ a lot of people, but what they really mean is that they have been ‘acquainted’ with a lot of people. This means that most of these people they only know superficially.

Having acquaintances is good, but it is not always good enough. Acquaintances offer breadth but not depth.

To gain depth you need to take an acquaintance to the next level - you need to develop a friendship with someone your 'social tentacle' labels as 'potential friend'.

But nothing will happen and no friendships will develop if you do not take the initiative and reach out to these people.

Friendships can be developed in two different ways - either naturally or intentionally.

Some people will naturally become your friends. You guys are 'on the same wavelength', so to speak. Everything feels right - you have common interests, cultural background, mutual friends, hobbies, life goals, etc.

But if you depend on things to happen naturally then you will have very few friends. A lot of people are like this - they only have a few friends in life.

The type of work you do should determine the size of your required social circle. If you are doing mostly creative and mental work that takes a lot of focus and concentration, you may not need many friends. In fact, having many friends may become a hindrance. Socialising does eat into the time you need for deep thinking and solidarity which is usually required by this type of work.

However, if you are in business or doing sales and marketing, the friends and friendships you possess will have a direct and defining impact on your success or failure. Usually the more friends you have, the better you will do in life. Having more friends means having more possibilities - they can be your potential customers, partners or advisors.

Being ‘friends’ means that a certain level of trust has been built. With trust, many good things can happen. After all, isn't business always built on trust and confidence?

However, being 'merely friends' is not the highest level that a friendship can reach. Some friends become very close to us, so close that we fondly call them 'buddies'.

Buddies are people who will do anything for you and you will do anything for them. Though they are not related to you by blood, they may care about you more than your own siblings do.

It is important for us to have buddies in life but we need to be even more careful in our selection of them. These are the people who will not only define who we are; they may even change our life's destiny.

In true 'buddy hood' there is a lot of sharing. Therefore, our buddies can make or break us!

A buddy who is the richest man in town may help you to become the second richest in town, but a drug-lord buddy can also get you into doing something that may cost you your life or freedom.

If peer pressure exists amongst mere friends, imagine that among buddies. So be highly selective of these people whom you will share your life with.

Do not be content to stay as mere acquaintances with people you know are worthy to become friends. Build those relationships up and make them your friends.

But do not just stay as merely friends either. Nurture friendships; take them to the highest level and turn them into true buddies.

And depending on whom your buddies are… your life may never be the same ever again.

“Life is about constantly going beyond limits!”
- Erican Chong

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Friends and Friendships

The most Earth shaking news in Malaysia after the World Cup this year was not Anwar's sodomy trial, nor was it the withdrawal of subsidies on sugar and fuel. Rather, the whole country zoomed in on one 28 year old Chinese Malaysian extraordinaire, Taek Jho Low, who was spotted partying with the world's most famous and fun-loving girls, Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and the like.

When the photos of Taek Jho and his elite friends got out, international media hyped up the news and paparazzi chased after these people like crazy. Taek Jho became an instant celebrity. His boyish charm enchanted and captured the imagination of millions, especially those of Malaysians, both young and old.

Let's not discuss the morality of the extravagant lifestyle of the rich and famous, or whether partying on private yachts and drinking expensive wine is right. What I want to do is to talk about is the importance of friends and friendships in the journey of our quest for success.

There is a popular Chinese saying that goes like this: "While at home, depend on parents. While away, depend on friends."

Our friends do play a significant role in our lives. They impact not only the quality of our lives, but our overall success or failure as well. It has been said that “Friends are the family that we choose for ourselves.”

As humans we need friends. It is not just a nice thing to have friends, it is essential that we do. These people we call 'friends' are not just people who help us to fulfil our social needs and bring happiness to our lives, they serve a much larger long-term purpose.

There is another famous Chinese saying that goes literally like this: "If you are near a cinnabar, you will become red. If you are near the ink, you will become black."

What this proverb means is that the people you mingle with and call 'friends' are some of the most important people in your life. They will collectively define the kind of person you shall become. You may find this an exaggeration but it is absolutely true.

YOU are indeed who you are as a result of WHO you are with.

If you want to be a good-hearted person, you must surround yourself with good-hearted people. If all your friends are bad-hearted, you will find it impossible to practise your 'good-heartedness'.

For example, if the good deed of your helping an old man to cross the street or giving up your seat to a pregnant woman in the bus is ever 'leaked out' to your bad-hearted social circle, you will immediately be a social outcast. Your acts of kindness will be deemed 'socially unacceptable'.

In life, if you do not conform to the 'social norms', whatever they may be, you will soon find yourself marginalised as you will be unable to fit in.

Let's look at another example. Let’s say you are trying to achieve academic excellence but none of your friends cares about that. All they want to do is to hang around and have a good time. Every time they find out that you actually went to the library or studied at home, they laugh and label you as a 'kiasu bookworm' - the most socially uncool outcast in Lazyland.

How are you ever going to feel motivated if you continue to associate yourself with these lazy buggers?

On the other hand, let's picture this:

You are a good-hearted person and you befriend a group of equally good-hearted people. Due to this common interest, you guys often talk about how you could do more charity work and help more people, something which is very dear to all of your hearts.

When words get out that you helped an elderly man to cross the street or gave up your seat to a pregnant woman, you receive nothing but genuine praise and recognition from these friends of yours, who wish to do the same thing themselves.

Or taking the other example, you aspire to excel academically and you happen to be in a circle of 'academic elites'. These serious and hard working students take their schoolwork very seriously. You guys spend most of your time studying in the library or discussing project assignments after school. Everybody in this 'gang' has a vision of entering the best universities in the world such as Harvard, Yale, Oxford, etc.

Imagine if you are always with friends like these, will you not become one of them?

So you need to choose the right people to be your friends. Taek Jho Low studied in Harrow School, one of the most prestigious private schools in the UK, and subsequently attended one of the best business schools in the US, The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

The morality of their extravagance and living a life of excess aside, the simple fact is that Taek Jho Loh did go from 'Malaysian Class' to 'World Class' because he associated himself with ‘World Class’ people.

So think about who you want to become and choose your friends carefully. And understand that while you observe and choose, you are also being observed and chosen.

But if you are serious about achieving success in life, you must be more selective about friends than the 'average' people who may not have such a grandiose vision as yours.

No, you do not have to do what Taek Jho Low does or live the high life that he lives. However, you do need to consciously choose to be friends with people who have a positive and winning attitude. And you must distance yourself from those who are negative and think like losers.

So anybody wants to be my friend?

“Life is about constantly going beyond limits!”
- Erican Chong

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Most Important Moment

Do you know what the most important moment in your life is?

Was it when you obtained those straight A's in your public exam a few years ago? Or when you got that unexpected promotion or won the Best Achievement Award? Or will it be when you finally walk down the aisle and marry that special person that you have always loved? Or could it be something memorable, like buying your first car, your first house or your first boat?

If you answered 'yes' to any of these, I would humbly beg to differ.

To be honest, the most important moment in your entire life is actually happening right now - with you reading this "Musings with Erican Chong" blog article entitled "The Most Important Moment".

Yes, this very moment is the most important one of your entire life. For no matter what happened yesterday or last year, it has already happened and it will never come back. These past incidents, no matter how glorious, indignified, joyous or sorrowful they may have been, they are just memories now and shall never return.

And moving on to the future, things which may likely (or hopefully) happen tomorrow or next year will not happen any sooner, no matter how much you keep thinking about them. These future incidents, no matter how fearful, exciting, frightening or sad, will happen when they happen and cannot be avoided or skipped.

So why worry about things that have already happened and that you cannot change or bring back? Why worry about things that will happen no matter how much you want or do not want them to happen?

But this particular moment, this very instant that you are reading this article entitled "The Most Important Moment", an act and an article that you think is insignificant, is indeed the most important moment in your life right now.

Why? That's simply because 'this' is the only time period in your life that you can do something about, and 'this' is the only time in your life that you can change.

Since the present is the most important moment in your life, make sure that you live it to the fullest. Make sure that every waking moment becomes the moment that is most exciting, most meaningful, most enjoyable, most effective, most inspiring, and most valued in your entire life.

Is our life not an accumulation of all the millions of present moments added together? Imagine if we always treasure each of the present moments we have and make the best of them! Would our lives be dull, uninteresting or regretful?

So respect every present moment that you have. These present moments will soon pass and become part of our memory. Future moments will soon arrive and will hence form what we call the present.

DO NOT waste a second of your precious present moments doing something meaningless, useless or insignificant.

We are created by God to add value and meaning to this world. Do not go against this law of nature by engaging in the art of nothingness.

I am sure if you savour each and every moment of your life, be it when you are up or down, happy or sad, rich or poor, you will experience a life so full that it leaves you with few if any regrets.

If you are still with me, close your eyes and think about what I have just said. I hope you will fully understand the importance of the Present.

Now, take this moment....and start living!

“Life is about constantly going beyond limits!”
- Erican Chong

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Do What Einstein Would...

Curiosity is a very important part of human nature. The modern lifestyle that we enjoy today is as a result of the countless questions that our ancestors asked and were answered over the centuries.

If there was no curiosity, there would be no questions. Curiosity is indeed the mother of innovation. And, questions manifest curiosity.

If you ever feel embarrassed because you always seem to have a lot of questions in your head or worry about bothering people by asking too many questions, stop feeling so. On the contrary, you are doing exactly the right thing. A person not ashamed to ask questions is a person who will grow, rather than one who stagnates.

This world is a quickly changing one. If anyone out there believes he has already understood everything there is to understand, then he is either a rare genius or a complete fool.

If you never engage in thinking, of course, you will never have any questions. The more you think, the more you will find things that you do not understand, and therefore the more questions you will have.

One of the consistent traits of great men and women throughout history is curiosity. Louis Pasteur, Madame Curie, Thomas Edison - none of these people made it to the hall of fame without possessing an intense curiosity.

Albert Einstein is perhaps one of the most famous for his great curiosity. He asked countless questions everyday, to others and especially to himself.

In his famous letter to Otto Juliusburger, Einstein wrote: "People like you and I, though mortal of course like everyone else, do not grow old no matter how long we live...[We] never cease to stand like curious children before the great mystery into which we were born."

When Einstein was interviewed about his secrets of success, he said, "I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious."

He also added, "The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing."

Many adults find it difficult to ask questions as doing so requires tremendous humility. They feel that if they ask questions they are exposing their weaknesses and might be placed in a vulnerable spot. These people, therefore, pretend that they know everything. When people talk about something unfamiliar to them, they will just nod their heads and smile, as if they know exactly what is being discussed.

These people are fools. Little did they know that by being reluctant to ask questions, they are sinking deeper and deeper into the sea of ignorance. The more successful their pretence becomes, the more difficult they find getting out of the mud. In order to not reveal their true identity of naivety, there is nothing they can do but to use another lie to cover the first lie.

These people are doomed. They will never be able to change the inevitable fate that awaits them - to eventually become absolutely irrelevant.

To those who are students - Do not ever be afraid to raise your hand and ask questions in class when you need further explanation. If your teacher is ever unhappy because you 'ask too many questions', do not be discouraged. Not all teachers are right. As long as you do so in good faith and all the questions you ask are intelligent, you will have done your job as a student. Never turn into a quiet student and join the silent majority.

To those who are parents - If you find your child constantly 'disturbing' you with lots of why's and how's, do not be upset; rather be very, very happy about it. This inquisitive child of yours may turn out to be an outstanding person.

To those who are teachers - If your students ask questions in class, do not ever feel that this is a sign of disrespect. In fact, pay particular attention to these ‘troublemakers’. They are most likely the only ones who are genuinely interested in your class and the subject matter.

So do not ever stop asking questions. Be like Einstein - ask your way to success!

“Life is about constantly going beyond limits!”
- Erican Chong

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Winners in Life

Alan Lim and I share a few laughs and thoughts together.

I have been fortunate to be involved in a very meaningful industry - education and training. The kind of work we do is of tremendous value to society and transforms lives. This belief keeps me going strong after having been an educator for twenty years.

A few days ago I attended a dinner function, the CEO’s Night, organised by the Malaysian Retail Chain Association, of which Erican has been a member of for many years. The special guest speaker for that night was none other than the incredible and charismatic founder of Air Asia, Dato Seri Tony Fernandes. But it is not he that I want to talk about here. Rather, I wish to write about someone else; someone who touched me deeply that night with his success story.

I had arrived at One World Hotel early that evening so that I could catch up with old friends and meet some new acquaintances.

While I was busily mingling with friends, I was introduced to a man from Termeloh, a man who was described as 'the most successful local property developer', Alan Lim.

Alan shook my hand enthusiastically and thanked me profusely for changing his life and the lives of many others.

When I asked him what he meant, Alan sipped his wine, cleared his throat, and told me his story.

"I was brought up in a very poor family. I worked as a petty trader in the night market and I could not speak a word of English. And you know, Eric, without English I found myself trapped in a very small world; it was difficult for me to reach out and do better things."

"One day, I attended a seminar that changed my life. And you know what? It was a motivational seminar you conducted in Mentakab. I remember that you did not just speak that night; you even sang and danced!" He winked at me.

I was a bit embarrassed about that 'song and dance' bit. When I was younger, I did indeed compose a song entitled 'Let's Learn Good English'. It was the one and only song I have ever composed in my entire life, and the only one I ever will do.

I would do anything to encourage Malaysians to take up the learning of English as I firmly believed that the one thing that Malaysia as a country needed to take in order to move up to the next level was a massive English learning movement.

Yes, I would even sing and dance if that was what it would take to motivate the masses to take up the learning of this important language. That’s how much it mattered to me.

Alan continued to tell his story.

"You really got me fired up. When I heard you say it was never too late to learn English, I made that life changing decision." His eyes glowed as he said that.

As it turned out, Alan could not speak a word of English at all then. Unlike many others, however, he did not just sit around and feel bad for himself; he took action. He signed up with Erican immediately and started learning English, one word at a time.

"Erican was a fantastic language learning centre. I improved really fast. After a while, I was able to communicate with people in simple English. That changed my life and lifted me out of my poverty. I found opportunities that had not been available to me before."

"I saved up some money and eventually got into property development. My life was never the same again - thanks to you." He spoke sincerely to me in decent English and shook my hands passionately yet again.

I was really touched by his story. I told him I would share his story on my blog as I was sure it would inspire others.

Alan is a winner in life. He has become a successful property developer in Termeloh despite all the odds that were piled up against him. He was given nothing to begin with - no proper education, no English, and no money.

Alan is, of course, not alone. There are many other winners in this game of Life out there who have moving stories of their own to tell - how they defied the conventional rules and achieved extraordinary success.

These rags to riches stories should not be treated like fairy tales - something that we simply listen to and forget. These stories are quite real and much can be learned from them. They can be a great source of inspiration for all.

To all the winners out there - I salute you!

“Life is about constantly going beyond limits!”
- Erican Chong

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Erican Receives National Mark of Malaysian Brand

Erican Chong receives National Mark from HRH Raja Nazrin Shah

Since the founding of the first Erican Language Centre 20 years ago, Erican has been at the forefront of the promotion of English language learning, whilst faithfully serving the needs of the local community.

I have been very fortunate indeed to have been blessed with a team of great people - loyal and dedicated colleagues whom I passionately call "Ericanites". They have stuck with me through thick and thin, ups and downs, over the last two decades. The oldest serving Centre Manager of Erican, Sally Teh, has been with me for the past 18 years, while the more 'junior' Mr Tan Ban King is at least 10 years into his service.

These Erican champions ensure that we stay on top of our game – they ensure that all language programmes offered meet the stringent international standards of the University of Cambridge ESOL and that effective learning experiences and promised academic outcomes are always delivered.

The hard work and absolute commitment of these great Erican champions, the Ericanites, has paid off handsomely. Over the years, more than 150,000 individuals have depended on Erican to help them to achieve their desired language proficiency. I am proud to say, as the leader of this small yet dynamic organisation, that we have always done our very best to ensure a wonderful learning experience and to see our customers through.

In recent years, Erican has been a 'frequent' recipient of awards and accolades. From the "Golden Bull Award" to the "100 Outstanding SMEs Award" and "MRCA-8TV Entrepreneur of the Year Award", Erican is honoured and blessed to have been nominated and, in many cases, received these great awards. While I, as the founder and the managing director of this organisation, am proud of what we have achieved, I am also humbled by the recognition society has given us. In order to live up to the expectation of these prestigious awards, I pledge to work doubly hard to ensure that we continue to add value to society.

On 15th July, Erican received one particular award that made me especially proud - the National Mark of Malaysian Brand, a quality certification awarded jointly by SME Corp Malaysia and SIRIM. What made me even more proud was that Erican was among the first batch of 14 companies recommended for this certification, which is of the highest standards. The certification is based upon the following criteria: financial performance, management capability, organisational strength, future outlook, and international competitiveness.

His Royal Highness Raja Nazrin Shah, the Regent of Perak, was the Guest of Honour who presented the award to these first fourteen privileged recipients. It was a most uplifting moment for me when I received this incredible honour. Being the eighth company certified in the whole of Malaysia, I quietly vowed to myself: "I must work harder and must never let down those who have supported me tremendously - my employees, my customers and my country."

Thank you all, once again, for all of your support. With the blessings you have bestowed upon us, I am sure Erican will do even better, run even faster and soar even higher in the many years to come.

“Life is about constantly going beyond limits!”
- Erican Chong