30kg

It was in the middle of scorching afternoon, my long sleeves were rolled up, my tie was removed. I didn’t bring the trolley as I didn’t expect the internal carpark would be full that day. So I parked at the open carpark, which was like half a soccer field away.

I  carried the 30kg HP LaserJet 4Si, slowly inching my way to the office block of my biggest client at that time — Motorola. To fulfil an order on very short notice, so short I had to deliver it myself.

I was 21. Why I can remember this so well? Because it was that very afternoon I told myself: “Hang in there, Dean. It will get better!”

After several months of trying to please the client, I didn’t win the 500K, 350K, 250K, 150K maintenance contract. So it didn’t get better.

I was shattered, I broke down and cried in that very same, bloody dusty carpark.

I had eventually given up on that job. But I didn’t give up on myself. I continued to try to make things better.

But the more I tried to make things better, the more backfires I got.

They say: The higher you are the harder you fall. I’m having hard time accepting this. Why am I being punished for trying to go further?

It’s in our blood

My grandfather died before I was born, so I don’t know much about him. But I do know about the story of how he got slapped left-right-center, all because he didn’t manage to salute the Japanese officer soon enough when he bumped into him at the street. That was during Japanese occupancy period. Time must be really hard for him, but he made it through and beyond anyway. He never gave up.

My father was a primary school teacher. Due to life circumstances he was made to teach at the school 30km from where we lived. He didn’t have a car, so every morning he had to leave home by 5am, took two buses, traveled two hours to the school. He did that for a good decade until he finally retired. He never gave up.

The year I graduated from secondary school was the year my father retired. He had prepared to give me all his penchant fund for my further study. But I chose not to take it. So I stopped at O Level.

I know full well I will never be able to count on my academic background. So I had to be the person who creates the job for myself. There are a lot of setbacks I have to deal with. A lot of challenges I have to overcome. A lot of odds I have to fight against.

But when I lie in my dying bed many years later, I want to be able to tell both my sons: like my father, and my father’s father, l never gave up too. Because not giving up, is in our blood!

What i have learned through my son about customer service

When it comes to Customer Service, people somehow think it’s all about giving what customers want. I haven’t gone to business school, I don’t know if this is what they teach in school, but I personally feel Customer Service aims to let everybody win at the end of the day.  And I learn about Customer Service through interaction with my son.

#1 Patience

The first and very important ingredient of good customer service is Patience.

In running my business, I haven’t been very good in this department. I’m not saying I don’t provide good customer service. I always did, but I would run out of patience when customer pushed it too far, that was usually when I would call it a day and dropped the customer like hot potato.

But when it comes to dealing with my son, calling quit is not going to, and will never be an option, not at least for as long as I live! When I ran out of patience, I could choose to lose my grip, throw a fit and upset both him and myself — yet still do not get anything done; or I could choose to exercise some patience and strive for win-win.

So what do I do to keep my cool? I sing this song:

(No joke, I really do!)

#2 Negotiation

As mentioned up front, to me, I feel customer service is not just about giving what customer wants, it’s about letting both parties get what they want.

Once again, when it comes to dealing with my son, giving in is never my favorite. Not because I don’t like to, but it is my duty to show him in life, one does not get what one wants all of the time. The sooner he can accept that fact, the happier life he can expect ahead of him.

Nevertheless, telling my son “no” all the time does not cut it either lest I would make him feel more and more oppressed, eventually turns rebellious. Or worse, loses interests to want anything at all. Ultimately, he’ll become an unhappy customer.

In the quest of achieving good customer service, I started to push myself to become more creative in coming up with solutions and better ways to get things done. To give my son what he wants, yet without giving in too much. I have become better negotiator.

#3 Anger Management

Pretty much relevant to first point. There were times I ran out of patience and lost my grip, and negotiation attempt went south.

This is usually when I would either throw in the towel, or unleash hell. But because it is my son I’m talking about, whom I care a lot about. Neither of above choices of action would do him good.

So when I did lose my grip, first thing I  did was to acknowledge to him that “Papa is very angry now.”

“… I’m not going to shout at you because you will not like it. It will upset me too. And most importantly, it is because I have promised you that I will not shout at you anymore.”

This is usually when I would get his attention. “Now, can we do this without upsetting anyone. You will do <things I wanted him to do>, and I will do <things I was willing to trade off for him to do his part>, no one will be hurt, everyone will be happy. Can we do that?”

9 out of 10 times, this worked. Both father and son won!

40, not yet a dragon

I stopped feeling excited about my birthdays since, I think, 11.

I can actually count the number of cakes I have ever cut on my birthdays, most of which were shared with other birthday boys/girls.

I have no problem with birthdays, though. I only dreaded when there was transition of the first digit, ie from 10s to 20s, from 20s to 30s…

On  the dot of the zero-hour of my 30th birthday, I was alone in my rented room, no celebration, no cake, and I cried like a miserable bloke.

I cried not because there wasn’t a birthday party, but was beating myself up for failing to become a millionaire by 30. Not to mention I was also troubled with all sorts of personal problems. I told myself, “I’ll be better when I turn 40.”

Fast forward to 10 years now. I still dread the transition from 30s to 40s, except this time I don’t have to feel lonely as I have my family with me. I don’t have to feel troubled as I have God with me. And I definitely have some big plans ahead of me!

Though, I’m still not a millionaire, but that doesn’t trouble me as much as it did. Because this time, I’m aiming to become billionaire! Muah ha ha…

When the going gets tough, run!

Since a month ago, I decided to start running again.

The way I put it sounded like I used to run, truth is, I was hardly a runner. I swam a lot. But running? It was never my favorite subject.

Why did I start running? Because I had no time for swim.

How did I make time for running when I had no time for swim? Because I needed to pick Jude from the childcare center anyway. Taking bus would take about as much time as it would for me to run there. Win-win!

For a person who hardly ran in his life, trying to get started was not easy.  Funny thing is, I was more motivated this time, and you know what motivates me? I need to get better in running, so that I can chase bus better!

I should also mention, we sold our car. That’s why I had to start taking buses. Call it a blessing in disguise, else the idea of running would not have crossed my mind.

Things haven’t been going too well for me lately; luckily only workwise. But it’s bad enough to slowly affecting other aspects of me. Running gave me the opportunity to put aside all the negative thoughts and let me focus only at one thing: finish the journey.

Through running, I was reminded once again, that once I had a target in sight, I would reach the target. Regardless how tough the journey was, I always knew one thing for sure, when I eventually finished it, the victorious feeling was indescribable, and it was all worth it.

It was through running, I felt like a winner again.

“Akira-inspired” iPhone 5 Lego Stand

So here’s the story: we all knew iPhone 5 is physically longer. Because of that my previous DIY Lego iPhone stand was forced to retire. My original intention was just to increase the height by a little, ended up I took everything apart and built this. If you grew up with Akira, you will find this familiar. The front wheel is missing as I ran out of Lego parts.

True expert in pizza delivery

I decided to eat pizza for lunch today. I knew there is a Domino Pizza near where I live, so I thought this might be a good opportunity to try them out. It turned out to be my best experience ever for ordering food online!

I was already quite intrigued as soon as I have landed on Domino Pizza’s homepage. Maybe the color scheme, maybe the photography, but I knew I was definitely making it my only choice of pizza delivery from now on!

Continue reading

Set up baby cam using computer with webcam and iPhone/iPod/iPad

My wife and I were thinking of getting baby cam for monitoring our baby when he sleeps at night. There are many different kinds of baby cam in the market, priced ranging from $300 to $600 SGD. Even Singtel offers baby cam service for remote monitoring via mobile phone on monthly subscription basis.

We have no issue with the cost, but my problem is, those cams aren’t exactly cool and sexy in terms of product design; more over, I am not a big fan of spending money on something that is useful for only a short period. Once Jude starts to walk and talk, the cam is no longer useful per se. Well unless I can find a cam that moves and follows Jude where ever he goes (maybe something like R2D2?)

With this in mind, I began to think I can put the old MacBook into a good use. Why MacBook? Because it has a built-in webcam (iSight). Don’t worry if you don’t have MacBook, any spare computer, be it Mac or PC, as long as you have a webcam connected to it, you are good! The rest of this post will be made into a step-by-step instruction for easy reference. So here we go… Continue reading

My New Year Resolution for 2011

Yes, I’m finally making a new year resolution. It’s not like I have never done this before, but to make it official, no. The success gurus will tell you only by making it official, you have greater chance of actually achieving it! So here I am making it official. Because I mean to achieve it!

First and foremost: Get back in shape.
Shame on me, this was supposed to be in my 2008 resolution (I had actually drafted the blog post titled “Dean Loh 2.0 In The Making” but never published it.)

Considering now that I have a baby boy, this is no longer an optional item but a must! I have about a year (or less) time to rebuild my stamina, so that when Jude starts to run around the shopping mall, I will be able to keep up with him.

Repositioning my brand. I started, and have been stuck as “freelance web designer” since 2006. I’m not complaining, but I have to agree to the setback: being recognized as “freelance web designer” somehow makes me look more like a “will build website for pizza”. After all, this is what most people in this region (particularly SINGAPOREANS) consider “freelance” as.

By repositioning my brand, I mean to move myself out of the “freelance camp”, not saying I will no longer be a freelance, rather, to dissociate it from the negative connotations such as “cheap”, “low quality work”, “unreliable”, etc.

Above all, continue to be a loving husband and father. And that’s about all!