Monday, July 21, 2008

First day working...

6.45: I woke up. Yeah I know it's a bit too early, but it's not nice to be late in the first day of work.

7.30: Had my breakfast near Bukit Batok MRT. They serve nice coffee, but their toast is damn oily, and it's just not nice to start the day with such an unhealthy food. Starting from tomorrow, I will be eating apples instead for breakfast.

7.50: Waiting for MRT.. The first train came, but I couldn't enter because they were too many people. The second train came. A lady in front of me at first didn't want to enter the train, too crowded maybe? Hello! Miss, if you want to enter empty train, maybe you will need to wait until lunchtime. I entered the train nevertheless.

8.35: Arrived at my workplace, I was the second person coming to office.

8.55: Surprise, the guy who was interviewed together with me is also offered the job. There were about 300 people applied for this post from NTU alone, and only 5 of us being offered the job (that's 1 out of every 60 applicants, mind you!)

In the first stage of interview process, we were interviewed two by two, means, two interviewees were interviewed by one interviewer in the same time, that makes 150 pairs.

To find out that 2 out of 5 successful applicants were interviewed together, that is quite a nice surprise. So, they only choose 3 people from the remaining 298 applicants. And I know I shouldn't continue the math further :D

9 - 11.50am: Morning session of the training. I had a lot of fun there, being together with some of the future superstars of UOB.

1150am - 1240pm: lunch. We had Burger King. It's great to know each other better. One of my colleagues made a very interesting comment, saying that footballer Cristiano Ronaldo made 120,000 pounds everyweek, which is much more than 10 of us combined together for a year. I know it's pretty pathetic, but well, I am not going after that kind of salary forever.

1240 - 5 pm: Afternoon session of the training. We had some games. It's quite sad that in all the games, our group came second... and we ended up with nothing while the winner got prizes.

When I reflected further, that's true in life as well, winners take all.
Since young, I only want 1 thing: To be number one in everything I do. And this job is no exception.

It's quite a nice start. Tomorrow, we will be starting the actual training, and I am really looking forward to that.

Friday, July 18, 2008


Well, I hate to admit this... but if I have to mention one out of my weaknesses, that would be... I am a very last-minute person. I am in the process to improve on this though.

Since I got a job contract from UOB Bank which is dated 21 June 2008 until now, there are more than 20 days in between. I know I should apply for temporary work permit and subsequently SPR (Singapore Permanent Resident) status. Blame everything to my excellent expertise in procrastinating, I only apply today, which is by the way, 3 days just before my work starts.

Terrible right??

Well, I don't deny that.

To make things worse, I had just realized yesterday that... my original birth certificate was not with me. It's 700 miles away from Singapore, all the way in my home city.

I woke up this morning with only 1 thing in mind... well, it's gonna be real challenge today. And I was not disappointed, it really is.

After getting stamp from my company, I headed to ICA to apply for PR. I reached there at 10.15 and got a queue number. For account balance in our bank account, the more digits it has, the better it is. However, for queue number, the opposite is true.

I almost couldn't believe that my queue number is 645!!! All thanks to Singapore government who makes the PR status so desirable.


From 10.15 to lunchtime, they only managed to finish about 75 applicants. If you do the math, they will be serving me on... WEDNESDAY?

I called UOB HR people, and they can't allow me to start to work on Monday if I couldn't manage to get temporary pass done by Monday, and I will be starting my work on 25th August. When I heard that, I felt like I was struck by lightening (Err.. I never experience that, but anyway, that's a good way to express that situation).

I know myself very well that I work very well under pressure, and this is what I thought I will do.

Because I have $100 cash in my wallet, I was going to offer anyone who was willing to give up their queue number for me. I don't care. I must get the work pass by TODAY. I MUST GET IT.

It's amazing too see the power of pressure. It can make us more creative. I know myself too well to understand that I work the best under pressure.

However, It seems that I don't need to use my negotiation skill to get the pass done by today. I don't know how it can happen, but suddenly, the queue number JUMPED from 300 something to 638! IT LITERALLY JUMPED!!!!!!!!!

I couldn't believe my eyes. It's 638, which is just a few away from my queue number which is 645. OH MY GOD. Is it for real??

And the miracle didn't stop there. The officer decided to give me the temporary work pass, but required me to submit the original birth certificate to them in the future.

To cut the long story short (fine, it's not that short), I managed to get the temporary work pass at 5.30 pm today, and I am allowed to start work next Monday.

On the way back home after that thing, I reflected on some things...
1. Well, it's a mistake to do everything very last-minute, but...
2. Maybe, it's God's plan to make me trust Him more.
3. Miracles do happen :)

God is good. Indeed, He is really really good.

Monday, July 14, 2008

What I learn from: Nadal vs Federer... James vs Stefani The Apprentice

Last night, I watched not one great match, but TWO great battles. Okay, both are not LIVE, but still, they provide good insight for me...

Roger Federer vs Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon 2008 final

We can't say who played better during the match, because the match is very close. True enough, Nadal dominated the first two sets, but Roger Federer is world's number 1 not without reasons. He was so calm and he tried to win one point each time, not thinking that he was down by two sets.

Roger is 27 this year, probably the greatest player of all time. He is like blue-chip in the stock market. Great performance, very consistent, and always delivers.

While Rafa, 22, is young, energetic and optimistic. He never blames his racket (or the ball, weather, or any other circumstances). He is like good start-up companies with great ideas, like Starbucks or Microsoft in their early stage.

However, seeing from marketing point of view, I think Roger outshines Rafa a lot. His English is much better than Rafa (although I can still understand perfectly both), and he is more comfortable in front of camera than Rafa. Rafa doesn't like to be the center of attention. If Roger was an Asian, he would be the Korean auntie-killer Bae Yong Jun. Seeing these commercials, we can easily tell: Who makes better marketing icon.

We have great players all the time, but why can we only remember Maria Sharapova? Andre Agassi? Sampras? Federer? We can't remember Justine Henin so much, Lindsay Davenport. Justine Henin is more talented than Sharapova, but Sharapova is a lot richer..

All comes down to Marketing. I am sure Rafael Nadal can easily afford to hire an Image consultant, and I think that is one of the best investments he could ever make in his life... beside hiring a tennis coach.

The Apprentice 6: James Sun vs Stefani Schaeffer

Well, both are great. And anyone who follows The Apprentice will be able to spot each candidate's weakness.

James is too perfectionist and he sometimes loses focus. When I saw him directing the 60-second commercial, I was like... What is he up to??? The actor was okay, but he asked her to repeat so many times... for hours.

Luckily, James was with Stefani who has good organizational skill. If he was in one group with Frank, I think they couldn't finish the commercial.

Stefani is a good presenter, charismatic lawyer... BUT. I didn't see her leadership, and hiring someone who never leads before to lead hundreds of smart professionals is just too risky.

Now it comes down to a classic decision making process. You want a leader who sometimes loses focus or you want someone who likes to play it safe to gain respect from everyone?

If I were Mr Trump, I would still hire Stefani though. James made 6-figure income in his previous job, found a successful company, and now works for "only" $250,000 per year??? Gimme a break. He is too great to be The Apprentice. Stefani will make a safer option.

Nevertheless, it's great to see an Asian - American to be the runner-up of The Apprentice, and that proves that Asian - Americans are not only good in Math or Science, they are good in business as well.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Don't just say your name, GIVE OUT YOUR NAME CARDS!!!!!

Well, people like me and millions of other visual thinkers have a problem. We are bad at remembering names, very bad.

So, the usual conversation is like this...

Ben : Hi, my name is Ben.
Andy : Hey, I am Andy

20 minutes later, the two visual thinkers meet again.

Ben : We met before right? but I am so sorry, I can't remember your name.
Andy : Don't worry FRANK, sometimes I can't remember people's names also.

See the problem? We are very bad at remembering names. At least I admit that.

So after doing some readings, these are the techniques I found.

Ben : Hi, my name is Ben. What's your name?
Angela : Hi, Angela here...

The following conversations happen only in my brain.

Ben to himself: Angela... Angela... Angela... okay, the girl with short hair, sexy clothes, and 2-cm thick make-up is ANGELA..

This technique is not bad, but the problem is... sometimes I don't introduce myself to only 1 person.

Ben : Hi everyone, my name is Ben.
Angela : Hi, I am Angela.
Peter : Peter.
Roland : Roland here.
Geraldine : Hello, my name is Geraldine. Nice to meet you all.
Mark : Hi, I am Mark.

GOSH!!!!!!!! How am I supposed to remember so many names????


Ben : Hi, I am Ben. You are?
Melissa : Hi, I am Melissa.
Ben : Hi Melissa, nice to meet you.
Melissa : Nice to meet you too.
Ben : By the way, where do you work Melissa?
Melissa : I work at a printing company called PRINTME. I am the sales reps there.
Ben : Cool! I work for UOB Bank, as personal banker.
Melissa : Wow, I applied there also before, but I didn't manage to get it.
Ben : Well Melissa, I think luck plays an important role also. Count myself lucky.

You see the technique? I repeat the name "Melissa" often. That technique is much better than the first technique.

However, nothing works best for a visual thinker like me (and millions of others) than this technique.


Ben : Hi, my name is Benny Pandowo, just call me Ben. What's your name?
Eric : Hi Ben, I am Eric.
Ben : Eric, nice to meet you. This is my business card...
Eric : Oh great, thanks. This is mine.

Ben and Eric look at the name card given for a few seconds.

Ben : Oh, so you are a CFA? I really admire people who is a CFA.
Eric : It's nothing. As long as you work hard enough, you will get it.
Ben : You are too humble, Eric. I think hard work only will not get you that far. By the way, what is your company doing?
Eric : We are a shipping company. Our company handles shipping to almost all parts of the world.
Ben : Great. How is your company doing?
Eric : Well Ben. It does face quite a bit of competition from smaller companies, but I guess, we have loyal customers who only want to do business with us.
Ben : I am so happy to hear that Eric.

That technique is combination between giving a name card and technique number 2. However, I must say, giving name card contributes at least 70% of the success attained... again, at least for me.

You say your name, unless your name is Angelina Jolie or Donald Trump, most of the time I can't remember.

You give your name card, I can remember your name, your company's name, even some not important stuffs like the colour of your name card.

SO.... Moral of the story is... GIVE OUT YOUR NAME CARDS!!! Sixty percent of the world's population will thank you for that.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Smart but Ugly or Pretty but Dumb?

My Chinese teacher asked the guys in my class... Do you prefer a girl that's smart but ugly or stupid but pretty?

Don't say pretty and smart (and rich and forgiving), because I answered that but my teacher disapproved.

Being a typical student trained in World-class university, I formulated something like this:

Smart but Ugly

- I will have great conversations with her
- I will have smart kids
- I don't need to hire tutors for my kids
- None of my friends will try to snap my wife away, because... because... noone is interested.
- She can contribute to the family income

- My chance to get good looking kids decrease because only the father brings the good-looking gene
- I will need to buy her lots of cosmetics just to make her presentable.
- I will have hard time to explain to everyone.. she's my wife, not my maid.

Pretty but Dumb

- I will get to see beautiful creature for free, everyday.
- My kids will definitely be good-looking because both mother and father bring good-looking gene
- I will spend less money on cosmetics

- I will have a hard time because my friends visit my house often just to see my wife
- If that dumb gene goes into my kids, I will need to hire tutors for them
- I can't have inclined conversations with her..

Not so easy afterall huh?

However, today I got an inspiration from Newspaper...

And finally, I decided, I will take a smart but ugly wife.

Smart girls will command higher salary, and with higher salary, she can....


It's getting more affordable nowadays, almost negligible risk, and she can choose whether she wants to look like Paris Hilton or Jessica Alba, Fiona Xie or Michelle Chong or Jade Seah.

And the best part is, she can still keep the smart brain of hers.

SO.... Smart and Pretty woman at the end. Lucky somemore, because she has a smart husband who can think of the best solution possible. Ehem.

Nevertheless, I will still go for a girl with heart made of gold... because the price of gold is increasing these days... beauty can fade, intelligence will fade, but a good heart remains :)

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

I and My Difficult Name

Yes, my official name is "Benny Ardi Pandowo", which is quite long. So if I were to spell out my name, it would take about 1 minute to do so.

"Benny. B for Bangkok - E - N for Norway - N for Norway.. Yes, I mean TWO Norways! - Y"

"Then space. Ardi. A - R for Riyadh - Oh you don't know? Hmm.. let me think.. R for Rotterdam? - Still don't know? Gosh.. you watch football? R for Real Madrid, yes. - D for Denmark - I"

"Space. My family name is Pandowo.. P for Poland - A - N for Norway - D for Denmark - O - W - O.. So, it's Benny Ardi Pandowo. Got it?"

You see? It's not very easy. Maybe only Greg Uttsada Panichkul can emphatize with me on how difficult it is to spell out a name.. although the later has decided to cut down the unnecessary trouble by allowing people to call him "Utt", yes that MTV VJ.

It's easy for Utt.. Even if he insists to use his name.. or even if his name is Gregwerqjghyk Uttsadawakakakaka Panichkulosis, girls will make some effort to remember.. But for someone like me who is not blessed with physical beauty like that, we don't have that luxury.

Second reason..

When I started to introduce my name as "Benny", especially when I am catching cold, people started to ask..

"Sorry, Debbie?"

"Eh.. Hebbie?"



For goodness sake, I never find a man named Debbie unless he is undergoing a major sex-change surgery.

Hebbie and Beppie are not even proper names according to the majority's standard.

I know I have a baby-face, but to use "baby" to call a mature 22-year-old man for the first meeting sounds more disgusting than to call a 90-year-old woman "my lovely sweety pie"

SO... Usually I proceed by saying.. "No, Benny... You know Ben.. Yes that Ben, Benny"

Most people with IQ at least 110 will get it. But the rest with IQ a bit below average will ask..

"So, your name is Ben or Benny?"


And then at one point of time I started to realize, hey, BEN sounds not bad. We have Ben Affleck. We have Benjamin Franklin.. We have Benny Ardi Pandowo.

Why not I change my name, at least my nickname to "Ben"?

People do it all the time..

Nicholas prefers to be called "Nick"

Raymond prefers to be called "Ray"

Christopher prefers to be called "Chris"

Alexandre prefers to be called "Alex"

for girl, Jennifer prefers to be called "Jen"

The list goes on and on..

So, what stops me from choosing the name "Ben" over "Benny" for my name, or for the time being, for my nick name?

I have nothing against my so-called official name. That's the most beautiful name on earth given by my parents and my elder brother. BUT. We are talking about business here, and in business, for most of the time, the simpler, the better.

"Hi my name is Ben. Ben Pandowo."

Or maybe.. "Hi, my name is Benny Pandowo. Just call me Ben."

It sounds much better.

I totally disagree with the saying.. "What's in a name?" by William Shakessphere.. Eh, Sheaks-pere... I mean... forget it. You tell me, William SEX - WHO???

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

I turned down another job offer today... T_T

2 months ago I thought it's cool to say to an HR person..

"Thanks for the offer... but I am already employed."

However, Today... I learnt that: Turning down a job offer is not that easy. At least for me.

"Hi is that Benny?"


"Hi Benny, this is xxxx from xxxx. I have received your E-mail regarding bla bla bla.."

"I see."

"Benny, I appreciate your reasons and I believe those reasons are very valid."

(Great, at least you read a book titled "How to Win Friends and Influence People")

.... "However, may I ask you first, what do you look in a career... If you look for money, you can go to Bank.. Investment Banking especially... However, I believe that in looking for a job, you can't look for the money factor alone.... We have world-class training programme bla bla bla and in fact, in the job, you are like given a scholarship. You get paid by learning in the job given..."

Don't get me wrong. I don't look for money alone. NEVER!

I look for money PLUS benefits PLUS stock-options PLUS full-paid overseas holidays to Paris and Dubai PLUS car PLUS bonus of 6-month salary PLUS 1-month annual leave PLUS...

I think it's absolutely cliche.


Politician-type-of answer.

MONEY is not everything. BUT It DOES save you from lots of trouble.

When we have enough money (what I mean by "enough" is "a lot"), we don't need to waste time thinking about our bills, our debts, and other money-related-matters. We can focus more to other more important stuffs... going to Paris for example.

We can help earthquake victims in Sichuan without thinking "Gosh, it costs me quite a bit of my saving. I am afraid I couldn't make the end meet this month" You don't need to!

When you have money, you will never think how to cheat on your tax.. You don't need to pretend to be a student when you are already in your 30s and wish to pay Student's rate.

And this HR person.. graduated from the best university in Indonesia told me... "We can't offer you that much money.. but we can offer you very good training and career progression.."



Which company says... you will be stagnant if you join us. You will do the same things everyday and you will not learn anything except how to pretend to be busy by making your desk very untidy?


So, everything else being equal, the dollar makes the difference. BIG.. BIG.. BIG difference.

Everyone who knows me well will understand that I am very blunt, and I hide almost nothing. Here I am.

I want to earn my first hard-earned million before I am 28, and if that means, I have to work 7 days a week, 18 hours a day, 364 days a year, Here I am.

If that means I have to remain girlfriend-less till I start to get wrinkles in my face, Here I am.

If that means I need to drink 5 cups of coffee everyday, Here I am.

If that means I could only sleep with handphone beside my ear, Here I am.

Because I know...

I do it not only for myself.

I do it for my family.
I do it for my Lord, Jesus Christ.
I do it for poor people in Indonesia.
I do it for mentally-retarded people in Singapore and Japan.
I do it for homeless people in Sichuan.
I do it for poorly-educated children in India and Pakistan.
I do it for hungry people in Africa.
I do it for drug-addicted teenagers in US and England.

And at the end of the day, even when I get sick because I am too tired, I know, I am doing it for a good cause. And it's worth it!