Category Archives: Useful Tools and Tips

Useful tools and tips for people that reads your blog

How do you get interested in business operations? Play a game…

originally published on Financial Times MBA Blog on June 13, 2016

by: Laura Melina Loeven, MBA 2015-16

The last course I have to pass before graduating from Nanyang Business School is a 12-week operations class. As more consumers around the globe demand good quality products at a low-cost, establishing cost-efficient and reliable operations is a fixed part of every corporate agenda to gain an edge over the competition.

Thus, aspiring executives must not only be good strategists, but also need to be prepared for managing the day-to-day operations.

Yet many multinational corporations are criticised for their negligence in operations management, and we read more and more about the difficulties balancing cost and quality. Climate change, depleting natural resources and labour strikes are just some of the challenges faced. But how can you prepare MBA students for a multitude of operational issues in just 12 weeks? How do you engage a bunch of young professionals in a subject that does not sound nearly as sexy as any of the popular strategy design courses, but has an even higher impact on corporate success? The answer is simple: you play a game.

What I saw were just three machines, an order book and a reporting tool that displays real-time analysis of my team’s performance. It all seemed so simple.

Tapping into the competitive spirit of MBA students always works, and soon after firing the starting gun of the Littlefield simulation game, enthusiasm for operations issues increased notably. The class is split into groups and the game is played over the course of one week. The goal of each group is to maximise revenues from customer orders while maintaining optimal machine capacity utilisation. Yet, the only decisions a team can make is to buy or sell machines. The catch? One hour in the Littlefield world represents a full day in real life, so inevitably you end up monitoring the game before breakfast, skip lunch to check the capacity utilisation figures, and wake up at night to make sure operations are still running smoothly.

When typing the key word Littlefield into Google search, I stumbled across a scary YouTube video of a particularly committed student who fully dedicates himself to the game, monitoring the virtual factory floor 24/7. But he drops all other responsibilities, neglects his girlfriend and eventually loses his mind. With this off-putting story in mind, I am hesitant to engage in this exercise and approached the game with scepticism. However, what I saw were just three machines, an order book and a reporting tool that displays real-time analysis of my team’s performance. It all seemed so simple.



For seven days, I logged into the Littlefield game and saw the reporting graphs climbing up and down, and found my team’s ranking moving in sync. Staring at the chart that reflects the capacity utilisation of my factory left me in awe, and even after 10 months of business school I feel helpless. Puzzled by the uncertainties of Littlefield, my team decided to follow the most complacent of all strategies: do nothing. While ignoring our managerial responsibilities seemed to work well for us for a while, we eventually dropped to the bottom of the field and finished the game as the second last team. Still, Littlefield taught me crucial lessons on operations management, and life itself:

  • If you want to go far, go together. Only working with a team leads to success.
  • You are never prepared enough. Making decisions when uncertain is an art you have to master.
  • Even simple set-ups bear risks. Be proactive, bold, and balance a holistic overview and attention to detail when it comes to managing daily challenges.
  • Doing nothing is never a good idea. Observe, analyse, act and react to succeed.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2016. All rights reserved.

Art of Negotiation

One of the vital skills that your MBA programme will teach you is the art of negotiation. Every conversation you’ll have in the business world involves negotiation to some degree. Being good at it requires discipline, strategic thinking and emotional intelligence. Every negotiation has its own context and will require something different from you.


Here’s how you can approach the process.

  • Do Your Homework:

Research is important. Once you know whom you’ll be meeting, find out all you can about the people and situation that you’ll be discussing. How has the other party handled things in the past? What kind of work have they been doing and what do they like? Know all the possible issues that could come up before you head to the meeting. Have the offers and counter offers ready in your head too. Sometimes it helps to write it all out as a script. This way, you won’t fumble for words whatever happens.

  • Build Relationships:

You could have everything there in your hands in a spreadsheet or on the slides you’ll be presenting, but negotiations are about making deals with people. If you want to seal a deal, you need to earn the other party’s trust. In fact, research says that they’ll be more influenced by you if they like you. This means that you have to look at building a bond and not just the money you can gain. Let them know that you’ll be working with them as a team – not as isolated entities. Don’t expect to agree on everything but don’t work too hard to find common ground too since differences can result in more value creation as you trade them. Who knows? Maybe you can give them a lot more than you’d thought they’d needed.

  • Listen Well:

Negotiation is not a one-sided activity. You need to be able to hold a conversation where lots of information is exchanged. Find out about the other side’s needs. Ask open-ended questions so you get more information to work with when you are using your strategy. Connect what they say to you in the meeting with what you know about them. You should be able to understand their needs and preferences that way.

  • Focus on Timing:

Saying the right thing at the right time can get you your deal. Similarly, saying the wrong thing at the wrong time or any time at all can ruin things for you. So leave out some questions that aren’t really needed and don’t go overboard with the selling when you should stop. Claim your value early in the conversation so that they know what you can give them best. Never say yes too fast. And when things get heated, take a break.

  • Be Ethical:

Ethics is a major subject covered in top MBA programmes like the one at NBS. Being ethical is a must if you want to have a good reputation in the industry. Don’t go back on promises. Be fair and involve the right people from your office and know about the best practices in your field. Once you take a decision on your side, explain the reasons.

Coursework at your B-school will involve role-playing in cases that resemble ones that you will confront in the real world. That will enable you to try out your negotiation skills under the eyes of experts who can tell you where you’re going wrong. Lots of practice will show you the way to form relationships and bring success to your organisation. 

Tips for Crisis Management

Any emergency situation that affects employees, creates insecurity in an organisation and damages the public trust in an organisation is considered a crisis. Accidents, financial difficulties, misrepresentation and whistle blowing are common examples of situations that can lead to a crisis in an organisation. The management of an organisation requires specific communication skills that can help the organisation deal with worried stakeholders, customers, suppliers, investors, partners and employees.


Unfortunately, there is no way to predict when a major disaster will hit you, but here’s how you can be prepared.

  • Delineate Roles:

Everyone in your company needs to know what their role is and what is expected from them. Once this is clear, you have the right logistical support in case problems arise. Even the person who answers phone calls should know what to say. Remember that when there is a crisis, everybody in the organisation will be approached for their inputs on it. Neighbours, media and social media – they’ll all want to know the details and people do not hesitate to add their own perceptions to it all, which can make things messier. When crisis hits, you’ll have to communicate with your stakeholders and other relevant people as soon as you get a hint of trouble. If outsiders like media persons reach them before you, you have not managed your crisis well.

  • Keep Resources Handy:

Company information is vital for key stakeholders, so you need to enable easy access to it and keep backups at a site that is not a part of your office. Say there’s a natural disaster or your premises are locked down for legal reasons, you cannot say information is unavailable. In fact, consider having a meeting place in a different location where you can use equipment you may need in the event of an emergency. For instance, a publication may have a place to print their paper when their office is out of bounds.

  • Hire a Specialist:

Many companies hire a crisis communications manager or consultant to take charge of things when they need to. This is a professional who knows how to stay calm and think strategically even when everybody else is having trouble coping. Help with media relations and external and internal communications material such as letters explaining the crisis and detailing what steps are being taken and how employees will be affected, is provided by him/her.

  • Learn Special Interview Skills:

As a manager, you’ll be facing the camera with the industry and country wanting to know what’s happening to your company. It’s easy to break down in public or get into an angry brawl with people who are rude and inquisitive, but you can’t afford to do that. Invest in training from a coach who can teach you about the correct body language and verbal communication skills that you’ll need in order to have an interview that doesn’t make things worse.

  • Conduct a Test:

Smart managers like to practice crisis management by organising regular crisis simulations to test and improve their plans. It also works as a way to keep staff alert because people rarely think that crisis will hit home. Let each individual know what could happen and give them the opportunity to give inputs on how they think they could help. Feedback contributes to better preparation for the future. Try out all possible conditions so that you have a solid plan at the end.

Crisis starts with shock and leads to confusion. Then it drives you towards an intense search for solutions. That’s normal behaviour. You can use your newly acquired B-school skills and exposure to keep your focus on how the public hears about the situation and of course, don’t leave anybody in the company in the dark. A good leader is a great communicator.

5 Student Friendly Places to Grab a Bite in NBS

Student life is all about balancing work and play. When you aren’t studying or busy with club activities, it’s always fun to sit in a coffee shop with your friends or even for some quality alone time. NBS students are spoiled for choice with their options of hanging out zones. The campus recreation facilities include several coffee shops and eateries.


Here are 5 student-friendly cafes that you’ll love.

  • Pitchstop: This café is known for its delicious wood-fired pizzas that come with every possible topping you could ask for. And you get to choose between indoor and outdoor seating areas. If you decide to go for the alfresco seating to enjoy the sunshine or scenery, you’ll find large tables that are great for big groups of friends sharing a meal and conversation at the café.
  • The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf: Located across the Nanyang Auditorium, this coffee shop is no stranger to you. There are outlets across Singapore, but this one holds a special place in the lives of NBS students. It is a favourite for a great studying environment with a cosy feel. While the coffee shop chain introduces new items to the menu on a regular basis, it also encourages students to spend as much time as they want to, sipping coffee and getting work done.
  • Spruce Bistro: Housed in the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, this coffee shop has lots of pocket-friendly options. For example, in one particular month, students could opt for a tea or coffee combo with cupcake or cookie at just 5 dollars. And there are often bar combos including beer or wine and a snack. If you keep your eyes on their Facebook page, you won’t miss a thing. Don’t forget to sample the nacho chips with their signature salsa.
  • Art Pastry: Conveniently located in the School of Art, Design and Media (ADM), this weekday coffee shop is popular with both vegetarians and non-vegetarians. If you aren’t looking to satisfy your sweet tooth with a pastry, you’ll find healthy, light meals throughout the day. Be sure to try their bento boxes and cookies.
  • Co-Op Café @ The Hive: This is the perfect destination for a leisurely meal on your own or with friends. So if you’re looking for an extensive menu and a place to hang out, head on over. The menu has everything from western to Asian fare including fusion food like Tom Yum Pasta. Plus, Toby’s Estate coffee is available here. What more could you want?

Remember that the campus life will be a big part of your MBA experience. And most NBS students end up having a favourite coffee shop. They spend lots of time there during the MBA programme and sometimes even return for a visit when they are in town after graduation.

So here’s wishing you happy times on the campus!

5 Tips To Get You Geared Up For Your Sales Meeting

Meetings are a regular part of business. There are meetings with your team, meetings with your subordinates, meetings with your seniors, meetings with board members and so on. Another kind of meeting that requires different strategies and talent is the sales meeting. There is a special way to participate in business meetings with prospective clients and where you are trying to finalise a sale. So you could be a pro at meetings involving your own co-workers but not so confident at handling things outside.


Here are 5 tips to get you ready for your next sales meeting:

  1. Gather background information: Whenever you make a sales call, it helps to know your prospect. Do your research with the help of the Internet, your network and anything else you can get your hands on. By the time you reach the meeting, you should be familiar with the person’s company and have an idea about his or her needs and wants so that you can address them. How can your product or service create a difference for the prospective client? Be prepared.
  2. Set a clear objective: When you walk into a sales meeting, you should ask yourself how your time spent there will increase your sales. To avoid frustration and a waste of time, have your detailed answer ready. The objective should be specific. For example, you could decide to use the meeting to teach sales representatives about Product X. And success could be attained if 90% of the representatives reach your target sales quota within the quarter. Your job is to let everybody at the meeting know exactly what the goal is. Awareness and understanding are important.
  3. Ask qualifying questions: There’s a difference between pitching to a prospect and holding a sales meeting with him. The meeting is supposed to be a conversation – so you shouldn’t be the only one talking. While you intelligently steer the discussion toward his/her organisation’s needs and possible solutions, you need to make sure that it brings results. Listen well and ask good questions. For instance, you should find out who will be making the final decision on the sale.
  4. Prepare high-quality material: The printed tools that you carry into your sales meeting should be of high quality. That means that the business cards, brochures, stationery and estimate sheets should all be immaculate. Check for writing quality. Is the grammar and spelling all fine? Do you see anything that could read better? Fix it. How about the colours, typeface and design? Pay attention to every detail because you do not want to lose out to fellow contenders because of unattractive, uninformative materials.
  5. Share case histories: Stories that demonstrate the ways that you and your team have successfully met client needs should be presented at the meeting. Whether you are employing the use of a long slide presentation or talking through most of it, keep more than two case histories at hand. Never directly criticise a competitor but tactfully point out how you can do things better in the case at hand. Tell the story with a focus on your company’s strengths and the benefits your clients enjoy.

Remember, the sales meeting is where you position yourself and your company in a field full of players. So let the conversation be your best.

10 Influencers To Follow During Your MBA Programme

As future business leaders, you are certainly keeping an eye out for motivation and examples that will drive you towards success. Thanks to the rise of social media, you can follow your role models on sites such as Twitter and LinkedIn and stay on top of things. Here are 10 influencers whom you should follow during your MBA programme and even when you are finished with your course.


  1. Richard Branson: Branson is a well-known businessman and investor. Everybody knows him as the founder of Virgin Group, a powerhouse of hundreds of companies. His business acumen was evident from a young age when he started his first venture – a magazine called Student. He opened a chain of record stores and ended up launching the major record label Virgin Records with Nik Powell. From then on, there were a plethora of brands including Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Mobile. Reading Branson’s books is a great way to understand how he’s lead so many businesses and people without always following conventional norms like a stuck-in-a-cubicle environment.
  2. Mark Zuckerberg: Just around 30 years old, Zuckerberg is famous for bringing Facebook into our lives. He and his college roommates at Harvard University launched Facebook from their dorm rooms. At 23, he was declared a billionaire with the site’s success. And he isn’t sitting there complacently. Instead, he works on bringing constant innovation to his product like the popular Facebook ads programme. A 2010 movie called The Social Network even portrayed the rise of Facebook with an actor playing Zuckerberg.
  3. Evan Williams: Williams is an American computer programmer and Internet entrepreneur who has founded several Internet companies. One of his companies led to the introduction of Twitter, the free micro-blogging site. Its popularity resulted in a new company in itself and Williams was appointed CEO in 2008. Although he stepped down as CEO a few years later, Twitter user statistics soared and he decided to try his hand at publishing too. And Medium ( was born.
  4. Arianna Huffington: She is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post and was listed as the 52nd most powerful woman in the world by Forbes last year. She began her career path hosting TV shows and public radio programmes and proceeded to host a website called before launching the Huffington Post. You can follow her on LinkedIn where she writes about success and shares professional insights.
  5. Guy Kawasaki: Kawasaki was one of the employees responsible for marketing the Macintosh in the 1980s. His time at Apple was followed by entrepreneurial ventures and lots of writing and speaking engagements. One of his software companies lead to the creation of the email product called Emailer and a list server product called LetterRip. He’s worked as a special advisor to the CEO of Motorola and has several books to his credit as well. His love for design is being enforced in his new role at Canva in Australia.
  6. Tony Fernandes: He is a Malaysian entrepreneur who gave his people their first budget airline, Air Asia. When Fernandes had stepped in, it was an ailing government-linked commercial airline. He also convinced the then-Malaysian Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad to introduce the idea of an open skies agreement with the neighbouring countries. So now Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia have granted landing rights to Air Asia and other budget carriers.
  7. Anand Mahindra: The chairman and MD of the Mahindra Group in India, Mahindra is in charge of an empire that enjoys market leadership in several business verticals including utility vehicles, finance and IT. He joined Mahindra Ugine Steel Company after acquiring an MBA from Harvard Business School and worked his way up from his initial position as executive assistant to the finance director. He’s typically featured in all lists of Asia’s most powerful business leaders.
  8. Oki Matsumoto: In 1999, when the online finance boom was in full swing in the United States, Matsumoto decided that Japan should be a part of it too. He left his investment-banking job at Goldman Sachs and launched Monex Group with help from Sony in the form of capital. It is now one of Japan’s leading financial services firms and Matsumoto has successfully built a global customer base that is growing every day.
  9. Hendy Setiono: Indonesian Hendy Setiono’s business idea came from holiday visits to his father in the Middle East. He realised that kebab shops were very popular and started his business empire with a single pushcart. The number of carts increased and Kebab Turki Baba Rafi began operations with the help of his wife and one employee. Today, they have expanded to other Asian countries and can say that they made kebabs popular in the region.
  10. William Bao Bean: William began his technology investment career two decades ago as a technology analyst in Taiwan. He joined SOS Ventures from SingTel Innov8 where he was managing director. A whiz at investments, he lead investments in major entities during his time there and was once a partner at Softbank China & India Holdings, an early stage venture capital firm as well. While at Softbank, he took care of major investments too. His tweets give you a look into life as a venture capitalist in China. He also gives the lowdown on innovation taking place in the region.

Part of being an MBA candidate involves knowing what is going on around the world and its industries. So be sure to follow!

Anyone you’d like to add to this list? Don’t forget to share the names in the comments below.

Do Entrepreneurs Need An MBA?

So you have some great ideas and are ready to start your own business venture. The idea of being your own boss sounds promising. The opportunity to let your ideas translate into profitable business is appealing. So in a stage where you are attempting to get cash together for your start-up, how would an MBA come into the picture? The answer: An MBA can help you acquire the skills that you need to supplement your ideas and passion.


Here’s what you’ll get.

  • Good Deadline Habits

Crazy deadlines are in. If you thought that your undergraduate professors were being too demanding or unreasonable, welcome to the real world. An intensive MBA programme like the one at Nanyang Business School will keep you motivated to achieve targets one after the other. Because that’s how things work in the real world! Long hours and seemingly impossible time frames will be of no worry to you once you complete the programme.

  • Networking Skills

You can’t like everybody and everyone can’t like you. Still, people do business with those who they know and trust. An MBA will push you into regular interaction with business experts, alumni, classmates, locals and other people around. With time, you will pick up the ability to create lasting relationships with them. Building powerful networks lays the foundation to success as an entrepreneur. Who knows? Maybe you will find future investors for your start-up.

  • A Platform or a Test Bed

Launching your own business involves risk. A lot of money and time goes into beginning each venture and there’s no better place to test the waters than your B-school. MBA candidates get the advantage of having a trusted space to share their ideas without really starting anything officially. So entrepreneurs can gain from feedback. It will be good to know if your business idea is leaning toward failure and the reasons behind it – before spending a fortune on it.

  • Analytical Proficiency

Just because you have a decent idea does not mean that you know how things work behind the scenes of a start-up. Reading and understanding financial statements and being proficient with spreadsheets is a must for any entrepreneur. If you don’t know it and think that hiring somebody would be good enough, think again. You need to know what is happening in your business instead of hearing a short summary about the reports. Thankfully, MBA students spend lots of time analysing balance sheets, profit and lost statements, and cash flow statements when they work on case studies.

  • Teambuilding Drive

Most entrepreneurs are confident individuals who love building on their own ideas and seeing the results. Sometimes they forget that a team works together to get things together. When you choose to attend an MBA programme, you’ll find yourself collaborating with fellow candidates who you may not like to be friends with. In other words, you learn to work in groups consisting of all kinds of people. Everyone will have their own objectives and skills, and you will need to learn how to work with their ideas without losing sight of your own.

When entrepreneurs or aspiring entrepreneurs invest in an MBA degree, they are bound to learn in one or two years, what they would have learned on the job in five years or more. Of course it isn’t cheap, but it gives you the power to avoid mistakes that could end up costing you more.

When Is The Right Time To Do An MBA?

A few years into the workforce, and you’re bound to consider arming yourself with another qualification. Thoughts of applying for an MBA programme will fill your mind because it certainly seems like a stepping-stone to success. The trouble is indecisiveness, with factors like a weak economy, insufficient savings and anxiety about returning to school, that keeps people stuck in their jobs and away from the classroom. Still, you can’t put off that MBA forever.


  • Map Your Goals

A lot of people make the mistake of applying to MBA programmes just because their jobs are getting a little tedious. It’s alright if that is one of your reasons for considering B-school, but you need a plan. Map out your career the way you see it and want it. Do you see yourself in sales or marketing? Does the finance industry appeal to you more than what you are doing now? What is the difference between what you are doing now and what you want to do in the future? Of course, you could change your mind later, but having clear goals will enable you to focus better. Plus, your interviewer for MBA programme admissions can get a good idea about your passion as a candidate and future leader.

  • Talk to People

If you know what you want to do after the MBA programme, start exploring your options. It is never too early. See what kinds of candidates are hired for the roles you aspire to fill. For instance, some organisations expect several years of work experience and an MBA for some positions. Other organisations may put more emphasis on candidates with an MBA degree rather than the number of years worked. Keep your eyes and ears open because you need to be aware of the typical expectations from your chosen field/industry.

  • Organise your Finances

Most MBA programmes run for a year or two. Tuition fees do not scare good candidates away, since they look at it as a worthwhile investment. Sit down with your family members and see if you have enough savings to give you a stress-free study break. Find out if you are eligible for any scholarships and apply in time. Do you have to move to attend the best programme? The important people in your life have a part to play in your choice. Most of all, you need to believe that an MBA can have a major positive impact on your career path.

  • Analyse Your Skills

One reason that an MBA seems attractive is the upgrade in skills that you’ll gain. A better salary and promotion are tempting. What skills do you have? And what skills are you lacking? Make a list. Be honest with yourself. The MBA can fill up the skills gap that is keeping you away from your dream job by making sure that you take advantage of the research facilities, real-world projects with corporations, and constantly updated theory.

So there is no right time. The best time to make your decision is now. Are you ready to make yourself a more attractive and relevant candidate for your next career move? The demand for efficient managers is increasing every day, and so is the demand for sharp, polished MBA graduates. You know yourself best; you’ll find the right time.

20 Singlish Words & Phrases To Get You Started

When Singapore became independent 50 years ago, English was chosen as the official language of the city-state. That didn’t stop the various ethnic groups from creating their own dialect or Singlish, as it is called. Its grammar and vocabulary is borrowed from Malay, Cantonese, Hokkien, Tamil, Mandarin and other Chinese languages.


Studying in a new country is no fun if you don’t immerse yourself into the local culture, so knowing some common Singlish phrases can help you begin.

  • Lah: Native Singaporeans love adding this word to the end of sentences. There are many ways to use it. For example, Ok lah translates to Okie dokie. No lah! means No, and you are clearly wrong to suggest that. Basically, lah is used to change the tone of a sentence and doesn’t really have a definition itself. Don’t confuse it with OK lor, which means Alright then and is said with a tone of resignation.
  • Leh: Leh can be used interchangeably with lah. For example, you could say, She did not tell me about that leh. Or somebody could tell you, No leh. He isn’t like that.
  • Why you so like that: This Singlish phrase means Why are you behaving this way? It is used to show frustration at somebody who is annoying you. Think of your friend making you wait for her for thirty minutes. Then you would ask her this. A Singapore group Kopi Kat Klan has a song called ‘Why you so like dat’. Check it out.
  • Talk cock: This term means joking around. If you had a relaxed evening laughing and talking with your friends, you could say, Today nothing to do. We all just talk cock all day long.
  • Wah lao!/Wah piang: These terms are interchangeable. Singaporeans express shock using them. For example, if you find out that the currency exchange rate with your home currency has increased a lot, you could say, Wah lao! So expensive!
  • Stylo Milo: This fun phrase can come to use when you are describing a classmate or somebody else. It describes someone as trying too hard to be stylish. Someone could point at a guy and say, Eh that guy so stylo milo.
  • Alamak!: This term translates to Oh my gosh! When a person is shocked or surprised, they may use this word.
  • Blur like sotong: These words describe a person who has no idea of what he or she is doing. For instance, it could be said to describe a fellow student who struggles to solve a problem. Or it could talk about a person who always seems to get lost. You could say, he is so old and still gets lost all the time, really blur like sotong!
  • Pai-seh: This term comes from the Hokkien dialect and means embarrassed or shy. You could employ it to express your discomfort about a mistake you made by saying, I forgot his book again. So pai seh. It is pronounced pie-say.
  • Ya ya papaya: This funny sounding term is used to describe a person as boastful or arrogant. If somebody in class always seems too full of herself and keeps on talking about her accomplishments, you could say, She’s so ya ya. 
  • Eat already anot?: This phrase means Have you already eaten/Have you eaten yet? Anot is a common Singlish word that translates to or not.
  • Corright: This Singlish word combines the English words correct and right. It can be defined as righter than right. Imagine having a light-hearted argument with your classmate when he thinks what is right is obvious; then he could say Corright to emphasise how very correct he is.
  • Ah bu then?: This Singlish phrase can be used in instances where you’d say duh or of course in normal English. So if somebody sees you sleeping with your head on the desk and asks you if you are sleepy, this would be the answer.
  • Dun anyhow touch here touch there leh: If your roommate says this to you, you are in trouble. It means, Please don’t mess with my things. 
  • Oi! Wake up your idea!: A person you are discussing a project with may say, Oi! Wake up your idea! The phrase translates to Can you start thinking straight! The speaker is asking you to wake up from your sleepy state and is being sarcastic.
  • Siao: This word is very common. It literally means crazy. If somebody asks you something absurd or does something stupid like burn his clothes with the iron, you could say: You siao ah? It’s sarcastic.
  • Shiong: Shiong is defined as very tired or tiring. Wah today damn shiong, the lecturer asked us to write so many articles, is one example of its usage. In other words, somebody is exhausted and is complaining about his workload.
  • I don’t know you / How I know you: When a friend does something stupid and realises it, you could utter the words: How I know you? No reply is expected. It is a sarcastic comment.
  • Han nah / Yah lah: This one comes in handy if you are being nagged. Say somebody keeps on asking you if you have finished reading the book that you borrowed yesterday; you can say han nah han nah han nah (as many times as you want to). Some people like to say Yah lah yah lah instead. If anybody uses this one on you, it means you are annoying him or her a lot. 
  • Catch No Ball: When a local person says this to you, he is telling you that he didn’t understand you. You could picture a ball in his court, which he cannot grasp to remember what it means, “Eh, what talking you? I catch no ball!”

What are your favourite words and phrases? Don’t forget to share in the comments below.

How do you define your brand online?

The last few years have seen a drastic change in the field of marketing. The physical form of marketing (including one-on-one consultations, display boards and signs) has not died out, but has a new companion – digital marketing. The evolution of informational technology has put the digital space in the spotlight, with organisations devoting significant resources to digital marketing. The term ‘digital marketing’ covers marketing processes that largely depend on the use of technologies. Social networking websites, apps and blogs are examples.


Earlier, customers would touch and feel the product, see some advertisements on TV or in the newspaper, buy the product and leave. These days, digital marketing has expanded the customer-brand relationship by bringing them closer and allowing interaction. Nevertheless, merely opening a Facebook page or a Twitter account doesn’t build your brand.

Here is how you can define your brand online:

  • Define Your Target Audience

Every brand has a target group of customers. You need to understand who your customers are and what kind of lives they lead. Are they men or women? What about age and marital status? Household income and location are other factors that are important. What kind of people can afford your product or service? Once that is done, find out which social media websites this group uses. Maybe they are not too Twitter savvy? Similarly, a very young audience may not like spending time reading long blog posts. You need to find out your target group’s online habits.

  • Be Consistent

Since your brand has a unique persona, let that persona reflect in your brand goals as well. This means that the design of your website must reflect the brand’s personality. This is why brands for the youth use brighter colours and fun designs with lots of opportunity for interaction. Even your tweets and Facebook posts need to be tailored to fit your brand. Like a brand whose USP is no animal testing, should keep that in mind and never post anything that could question their value – such as posting ads for a company that sells leather products.

  • Deliver Great Content

Content drives the customer experience. Your brand could be present on every social media and web platform but not make an impact if the information you are sharing is not appealing. Details about products, prices and promotional offers, all need to be conveyed with the target audience in mind. What type of customers do you have and what kind do you want to attract to your brand? Educate your customers on the industry and not just your brand. For instance, leading health magazines share interesting articles about nutrition and psychology trends that are not from their product.

  • Develop the Voice

Along with a personality, a brand needs a voice. When you are tweeting or posting online, you are speaking as the brand. All digital content should stick to a single tone and pace. If your brand is targeting young working women who love to use makeup, then fun may be an important part of your brand’s definition. If it is, keep it fun. If a compassionate, serious voice matches your brand, then stick to that. For instance, a healthcare facility will probably have the latter.

Even if the brand in question has existed for a while, the digital marketing space requires a completely different approach from traditional marketing. Both forms of marketing can affect a brand. The online category helps a brand develop a wider customer base and enables customers to communicate with the company. That in turn, contributes to the brand’s growth with constant feedback. Not a bad thing at all!