Last night I met a script supervisor. She works with directors to make sure a movie has the right continuity, and one scene fits the next. It’s a fascinating job, hobnobbing with top directors, writers, and celebrities. No two assignments are the same. How do you get that kind of career? She earned a degree in anthropology and just “fell into it” through a series of events.

I know the feeling. I majored in economics, got an MBA, worked at a bank, then a phone company, and became a cartoonist.

For every person who studies something specific, such as the law or medicine, and actually ended up in that sort of career, I think there are five who let chance pick their careers. That works out more often than you’d think, but you can’t recommend it as a career strategy. Instead, I recommend a general formula for success. Allow me to explain.

If you want an average successful life, it doesn’t take much planning. Just stay out of trouble, go to school, and apply for jobs you might like. But if you want something extraordinary, you have two paths:

1. Become the best at one specific thing.
2. Become very good (top 25%) at two or more things.

The first strategy is difficult to the point of near impossibility. Few people will ever play in the NBA or make a platinum album. I don’t recommend anyone even try.

The second strategy is fairly easy. Everyone has at least a few areas in which they could be in the top 25% with some effort. In my case, I can draw better than most people, but I’m hardly an artist. And I’m not any funnier than the average standup comedian who never makes it big, but I’m funnier than most people. The magic is that few people can draw well and write jokes. It’s the combination of the two that makes what I do so rare. And when you add in my business background, suddenly I had a topic that few cartoonists could hope to understand without living it.

I always advise young people to become good public speakers (top 25%). Anyone can do it with practice. If you add that talent to any other, suddenly you’re the boss of the people who have only one skill. Or get a degree in business on top of your engineering degree, law degree, medical degree, science degree, or whatever. Suddenly you’re in charge, or maybe you’re starting your own company using your combined knowledge.

Capitalism rewards things that are both rare and valuable. You make yourself rare by combining two or more “pretty goods” until no one else has your mix. I didn’t spend much time with the script supervisor, but it was obvious that her verbal/writing skills were in the top tier as well as her people skills. I’m guessing she also has a high attention to detail, and perhaps a few other skills in the mix. Probably none of those skills are best in the world, but together they make a strong package. Apparently she’s been in high demand for decades.

At least one of the skills in your mixture should involve communication, either written or verbal. And it could be as simple as learning how to sell more effectively than 75% of the world. That’s one. Now add to that whatever your passion is, and you have two, because that’s the thing you’ll easily put enough energy into to reach the top 25%.  If you have an aptitude for a third skill, perhaps business or public speaking, develop that too.

It sounds like generic advice, but you’d be hard pressed to find any successful person who didn’t have about three skills in the top 25%.

What are your three?

Dilbert MBA

Dilbert MBA

Course Prerequisite Flow Chart

Course Prerequisite Flow Chart

Contemporary Management Skills

This course is designed to lay the foundation for the development of knowledge and skills to pursue a managerial career. This knowledge and these skills are expected to be fostered and upgraded through teaching and learning as well as assessment in subsequent MBA courses.

The course begins by exposing students to the transition that they go through to take up a management role in their chosen career. The skills and resources needed to make the transition successfully are explored in terms of Katz’s classic typologies of technical, human and conceptual skills.

The course serves as a formal introduction for new students commencing post graduate tertiary education and provides context for the aims, objectives, common themes and methodologies which are applied throughout the MBA program.

Creative and Accountable Marketing

This course will give an overview of how markets operate, the contribution of marketing thinking and the role of the marketing function appropriate to contemporary organisations.

Core issues that will be covered in the course include how markets actually work, the marketing concept, the marketing management process, market orientation and profitability, market based performance, how firms relate to their markets, customer analysis and value creation, marketing in a social service arena, market segmentation, product/service decisions, market-based pricing, marketing communications and customer response, market based assets, gaining and using market intelligence, the benefits and pitfalls of market research, dealing with competition, marketing strategic analysis, strategy implementation and performance metrics, global marketing issues.

Leading and Managing People

Leading and Managing People is concerned with managers as leaders and the strategic leadership of people. In our present turbulent environment firms require strategies for maximising the human resource contribution from all employees to sustain their organisation’s competitive advantage. This course aims to explore some of the key factors that influence people’s performance and behaviour in organisations from a perspective that draws upon leadership, organisational behaviour and HR literature. Core concepts include the strategic HRM, employee relations, human resource development, e-business, diversity, social responsibility and changing employee relations.

Accounting for Decision Making

Accounting for Decision Making has been designed to provide students with the skills and knowledge to be able to utilise accounting information to improve their performance as managers. The course assumes that participants have not previously studied accounting. In the course we aim to develop the skills necessary for students to understand, evaluate and make the best possible use of accounting information. These skills will be developed through an initial understanding of the principles, processes and techniques involved in preparing financial reports and other accounting information.

Students will then develop an appreciation of management accounting and the significance for business managers of understanding costs, cost systems, budgets, control systems and financial decision making principles. We include a focus on contemporary issues within the discipline so that students are in tune with, or ahead of, accounting developments within their organisations. And finally, our delivery approach aims to enable students to share practical experiences of a range of accounting issues with class colleagues.

Leadership Dynamics

To provide students with a framework for exploring the complexity of the leadership and management challenges within contemporary organisations. This course is designed to draw attention to the critical factors of personal and team functioning and their relationship to successful business enterprises.

Managerial Finance

This course builds on the basic principles and knowledge acquired in the Accounting course. The aims of the course are to develop an understanding of the key theories upon which corporate finance is based, and a mastery of the skills required to apply analytical techniques from finance in real world financial decision-making situations.

Competitive Strategy PG

This course examines how organizations can create sustainable competitive advantage. It focuses on factors that determine an organisation’s success, including industry-specific and country-specific factors as well as organisational resources and capabilities, and how appropriate strategies can be formulated, implemented and evaluated through the use of various analytical and assessment tools.

Managerial Economics

The objective of managerial economics is to explore how economic theory and decision science tools can assist in the formulation of optimal solutions to managerial decision problems. The course applies many familiar concepts from economics such as demand and cost, monopoly and competition, the allocation of resources and economic trade-offs, level of economic activity, macro-economic policy, and the impact of globalisation. Students will also acquire quantitative skills in business and economic forecasting. At the end of the course, students should be able to use these analytical tools within the economic framework on real-world business applications.

International Business

This course aims to provide students with the knowledge and skills to manage a business in the international arena and to familiarise them as managers and leaders with the range of strategies available to compete more effectively in today’s rapidly emerging global economy.

Sustainable Corporate Strategy

This course examines strategy formulation and implementation at the corporate level with emphasis on sustainability. It builds on the Competitive Strategy course by focusing on strategic actions at the corporate level of multi-business firms. The course also explores the role of a business firm in society and the nature, problems and prospects of corporate social responsibility.

The primary source of government support comes from the Singapore Economic Development Board.

As for private financing, private Venture Capital Firms are the alternative solution.

Following is the list of reliable venture capitalists with strong
presence in Singapore and Asia:

Company name: Venture TDF Pte Ltd
Company reg. no: 199508508M (ACRA database)

1, Scotts Road #18-06 Shaw Centre Singapore 228208
Tel. : 65-6735 9339
Fax : 65-6887 0535

About the company:
Founded in October 1995, Venture TDF is a venture capital fund
management company with its headquarters in Singapore and offices in
Silicon Valley, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Geographical Location of Company/Project:
Singapore, North Asia, China, North America, Europe.

Industry Classification:
Electronics, Information Technology, Media & Communications,
Medical/Healthcare Related, M-Commerce/E-Commerce.

Stage of Development:
– Developing prototype of product/service
– Commercialising product/service
– Generating revenue

Information Technology portfolio:

Well known portfolio in Singapore and China are Alibaba.com,
800buy.com, MediaRing, JobsDB.com

Range of Investment
USD500,001 to USD3,000,000

Company Contact Person:

Company name: 3i Asia Pacific plc
Company reg. no: F 05891D (ACRA database)

Company address:
80 Raffles Place #33-20 UOB PLaza 2

About the company:
3i’s international relationship network is unique. Our team of over
300 investment professionals spans three continents, linking us to a
wealth of corporate contacts and industry experts.

Geographical Location of Company/Project:
Singapore, South East Asia

Information Technology portfolio:

Range of Investment:
USD3,000,001 to USD10,000,000
USD10,000,000 and above

Company Contact Person:
Mark Thornton (MARK_THORNTON@3I.COM)
Clarissa Lim (CLARISSA_LIM@3I.COM)

Company name: Aventures Capital Management Pte Ltd
Company reg. no: 200102369M (ACRA database)

Company adress:
180 Cecil Street #17-00 Bangkok Bank Building

About the company:

Aventures Capital Management Pte Ltd was established in April 2001 as a venture capital and private equity fund management company. Aventures is the fund manager for Aventures 1 Pte Ltd and other proprietary funds.
Aventures 1 Pte Ltd is the S$30m (US$16m) flagship venture capital
fund of AFC Merchant Bank. Its investors include financial
institutions, corporates, and successful entrepreneurs.

Geographical Location of Company/Project
South East Asia

Industry Classification
– Electronics
– Information Technology
– Media & Communications
– Education Products & Services
– Environmental

Stage of Development
Generating revenue
Generating profit

Range of Investment
USD500,000 and below

Company Contact Person:

Company name: UOB Venture Management Private Limited
Company reg. no: 199100969M (ACRA database)

Company address:
80, Raffles Place 30th Storey UOB Plaza 2

About the company:
UOB Venture Management Private Limited (UOBVM) is the venture capital subsidiary of United Overseas Bank (UOB) Limited, one of Singapore’s leading international bank groups. Established in 1992, we provide financing to unlisted companies through direct equity investments.

Information Technology portfolio:
Authenex Inc., Ninetowns Digital World Trade Holdings Ltd

Company Contact Person:
Mr Seah Kian Wee, Managing Director (info@uobvm.com.sg)
Dr Aw Chye Huat, Executive Director (aw.chyehuat@uobgroup.com)

Company reg. no: 199902157D (ACRA Database)

Company address: 50 Raffles Place #16-03 Singapore Land Tower Singapore 048623

About the company:
Established in Singapore in April 1999 to engage in the exciting
growth of technorpreneur development in Singapore. This also enlarged FVIG’s scope of networking and business partners in Asia by including countries in the ASEAN region. It focuses in high-tech investments, specifically in software, information technology, and the Internet, areas which Singapore companies have strong domain knowledge and core competency. Fortune Singapore provides a valuable platform for investment companies to enter new markets in Greater China, USA, and ASEAN.

Geographical Location of Company/Project:
Singapore, South East Asia, North Asia, China, India, Oceania, North
America, Europe

Stage of Development:
– Developing prototype of product/service
– Commercialising product/service
– Generating revenue
– Generating profit

Range of Investment:
USD500,000 and below
USD500,001 to USD3,000,000
USD3,000,001 to USD10,000,000

Company Contact Person:

Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority of Singapore
A government statutory board.

Directory of Business, Company and Limited Liability Partnership Names.

Economic Development Board of Singapore
A government statutory board.

Other related resource:
Singapore Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (SVCA)
Established in 1992, SVCA organises seminars, talks, education and
training programmes. The association also publishes a directory of
venture capital firms and their areas of investment.

Deal Flow Connection
An initiative of Action Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE) and
supported by SPRING Singapore, the Deal Flow Connection matches
businesses with potential sources of funds through intermediaries

Business Angels Network South East Asia (BANSEA)

BANSEA aims to promote development of the angel investment community in Asia through educational conferences/workshops, research, networking with angel groups worldwide, contributing to improving the regulatory environment and corporate governance system for angel investing, and facilitating the matching of start-ups with angel investors.

Internet startups in the Silicon Valley are used to getting funded by the many Venture Capitals and Angel Investors they have over there. That’s why Internet Startup companies in Silicon Valley blooms up like mushrooms after a rain.

Unfortunately, we don’t have the same luxury here in Malaysia. Nevertheless, the Malaysian government does have allocation for the Malaysian Internet startups to get initial capital and start their businesses to boost the ICT industry in Malaysia.

However, Malaysia is still far from a meritocratic based society and due to that, a lot of ideas is never presented to these government bodies for needed funding due to fear that business plans and strategies are stolen by the select few in the administration and their cronies who are in the know. Instead, their financing are sourced privately.

The 2 official sources of funding are from:

1. Technopreneur Pre-Seed Fund Programme

This fund is introduced by MDEC (Multimedia Development Corporation, Malaysia). In this programme, your startup business can get a conditional fund of up to MYR$150,000 that you can use to develop your IT business plan into commercial projects. The good news is that apart from the money, you will also get the benefit of their mentoring services and use their MSC status shared lab facilities.

Take note that ONLY INDIVIDUALS are eligible to apply. You can’t apply under a business name. In other words, you’re not eligible apply this fund if your business already has an established Sdn Bhd company name. You may read more information about this on their website.

2. Cradle Investment Programme

This programme offers MYR$50,000 of fund that you may use for the development of your project’s prototype, proof of concept or business plan. Same like the pre-seed programme above, this fund is also only for individuals, not companies. Their focus is to give entrepreneurs a headstart in realizing their unique ideas (sounds a lot like you?). You can make application online. Visit their website for more thorough and detailed explanation on this fund.

Ever notice that some people have tons of connections in LinkedIn and some people have…well…one?

While it is easy to sign up for a LinkedIn account, few people realize that their LinkedIn account can open doors to new business partnerships, potentials clients, and a wealth of information to aid in building a business. Although it is not exactly rocket science, establishing strong relationships in LinkedIn is quickly replacing lunch meetings and cold calls. And, the reason why is simple. You can easily meet and introduce yourself to a host of interesting and interested business contacts all with a few minutes. More importantly, you gain exposure to many other business owners and clients from across the street as well as across the world!

There is a failure for business owners when using LinkedIn! About 80% of LinkedIn profiles are filled with resume information instead of business information. If you are asking yourself why this matters, the answer is quite clear to any marketer within a hundred paces. You have to present yourself in such a way that it shows visitors why they would want to meet you and what you have to offer as a connection. Be realistic, when you look at your LinkedIn profile, do you see someone who is credible? Your LinkedIn profile should be the online equivalent of your elevator speech because you only get 9 seconds to impress the person who reads it. The definition of bad is if the person comes away from your profile unimpressed. Worse would be if someone elects not to read it at all.

Let’s start the New Year off right by toning up your profile (no heavy lifting, I promise!) to harness the power of LinkedIn with this quick checklist:

  1. Profiling: Look at your LinkedIn profile in the Big Picture view. If it is not complete, then deduct points. If it does not use power words that speak specifically of skills, talents, and experiences, then start over. Don’t be afraid to tell people your specialties in your summary and list keywords that add targeted punch to your skill set. For example, I am a marketer, but that says absolutely nothing. But, if you read my profile you find that I specialize in marketing for women and coaches. You have a deeper understanding of my abilities, especially if you are women business owner or a coach. Make yourself stand out by not being a part of the crowd of general adjectives and boring copy.
  2. Sharing: Start with the knowledge that if you do not approach others, you will not get asked to dance! Add connections to your profile by sending invitations to people in your address book and adding your LinkedIn profile badge to all of your outgoing information like your blog, email messages, and your website. Publicize your profile everywhere you can and you will be surprised how many people start linking to you.
  3. Joining: This is the fun part! Now that you have a great LinkedIn profile, join some groups. LinkedIn really makes this easy because you can join groups according to religion, education, hobbies, sports, job interests, inspiration, and support. If you can think of a reason or interest, then it is likely that LinkedIn has a group started already for you to join. By joining groups, you will get to send connection requests to group members and they will get to contact you for connections. Many groups supply discussion boards, messaging space, and connection updates.
  4. Asking: This is the one place that so many people forget to upkeep in their LinkedIn profile. Perhaps because we are concerned about asking for testimonials and reviews from past connections, we shy away from asking for a recommendation or referral. Don’t! If you have had a good relationship with another LinkedIn member, then ask for a recommendation. And…return the favor because their recommendation gives you credentials, but your recommendation gives you exposure in their LinkedIn profile too. It is the best of both worlds.
  5. Answering: One of the vital assets of the LinkedIn community is often building a network of people who can offer insight into questions you might have about business. In order to find those connections, asking and answering questions is a great way to establish a first contact. By asking questions, you are able to be an expert in a field and offer guidance to someone else. In return, by asking a question, you are giving the opportunity for others to show their expertise. Everyone has questions…now you have network to ask.
  6. Adding: Use the robust applications of LinkedIn to share what you are doing with your blog, add polls to your profile, and share presentations. Creating a 360 degree link to all of your activities gives the people in your LinkedIn network the ability to follow your message without difficulty or direction. In the end, your LinkedIn profile should be about “working smarter, not harder” to get connections.

LinkedIn might seem like a huge investment in time, but it is really an investment in networking the smart way. Once your LinkedIn profile is set up and you are interacting with your groups, you will find it a pleasure that you look forward to every week. Plus, it is a great reference tool for you to tell potential clients or business partners: “check out my LinkedIn profile.” It is your online portfolio for you and your business.

Lastly…remember: Your LinkedIn profile is searchable in Google. Use your keywords in your description and make yourself interesting!

Now…get out there and get LinkedIn!

kellyThere are those who leads, and there are those who follow. It all started in 2004 when I started watching Donald Trump’s Apprentice Season 2. This was a case where Kelly Perdew, a dynamic yet honest and hardworking entrepreneur triumphed over all other participants in the fray.

This was the year I started by freelancing during my off days and nights as an Independent Sales Representative for a VOIP provider, IPMaster. This was a privately owned subsidiary of Pentamaster, which was shortlived as it was managed poorly technically and had QoS (Quality of Service) issues which is the “backbone” of that particular industry.

The short, yet revealing stint into this added onto my experience in handling factory managers and business owners. The urges to continue to something my own gave rise to Website Solutions which I started in Aug 2005. For the past 4-5 years, I’ve learn that tenacity is required in the business world. However, honesty and integrity will go far in establishing and growing business relationships.

In business, everyone’s a leader. This is the quality that is needed to generate success as well as to overcome obstacles. Take Command: 10 Leadership Principles I Learned in the Military and Put to Work for Donald Trump is a good book to start.

It’s been 2 weeks now since I started pondering on the idea of “Going Back To School.” Immediately on the initial weekend, I heard the sermon on Joshua Chapter 1. In a way, it is about taking leadership – in this case Joshua taking leadership from Moses, as a precursor of going into the Holy Land.

What strikes me is the truth that God always know when we are ready to take a “leap of faith” as he has always been the Alpha and the Omega (The Beginning and The End). In those 1st few days, whenever I browse to onto the Internet and even at other instances where I read supplements from Our Daily Bread (a supplement from RBC Ministries), the scripture that keeps jumping up at me was that of Joshua Ch1 v8-9 (KJV) , “v8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
v9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”

joshI did pray to God for direction and sincerely believe he has answered my prayers with these verses. Hope these scripture will be an encouragement for those of you who are at crossroads in life. I am at mine. To go forth and claim victory as God has promised to His people.

Incidentally, I’ve uploaded Dr. Charles W Missler’s (former CEO of Western Digital Corp) exposition on Book of Joshua Chapter 1 onto the BoxNet archives of my LinkedIn account. Connect to me to access these files.