To my Secret santas

I LOVE Christmas.

Religious beliefs aside, Christmas means alot more than just gift exchanges, bright glittery lights, yummy food and alcohol.  (I do like Christmas sales though!)

Every year, I find myself all stressed up about having to buy ‘obligatory’ Christmas gifts for family and friends. I don’t believe in gift buying for the sake of it, esp. for people I am not close to. However, not to be the grinch at parties, I often end up doing rounds of gift exchanges (mostly secret santa styled). This year, I already have 4 secret santas!

So, in the attempt to give Christmas the true meaning of  “Season of giving”, here’s what I hope my secret santas would consider:-

I don’t want any more chocs (am on diet) and don’t need any more scented candles (I just bought a new bright lamp) and definitely don’t want any stuff toy (no space on my bed/ shelves), so if you are also stressing over what to get for my ‘obligatory gift’ …. please just donate in my name (my email at pris_tan@yahoo.com) to any of the three Charities/ causes I truly believe in and support:-

* World Vision
* Singapore Zoo
* WWF

This way, no stress for you and lots of benefits for the people and charities who really need help.

Thank you, Santas. :X

NO seems to be the hardest word

Elton John could be wrong when he sang “Sorry seems to be the hardest word.”

Recently, I realised “NO” is a very difficult word for many people.

Generally, I don’t like to say no. In the past, whenever someone (especially at work) had a request, I would say yes. A part of me did not want to burn bridges and I always try to avoid confrontations. I also try to compromise and say yes to help my friends whenever they ask, because I hate to disappoint.

I also realised many people cannot accept being told “NO.”  The word “No” is almost a dirty word, people take them personally even when the intentions were good.

Over the years, I’ve learned and grown wiser, thanks to various mentors and close friends in my life who helped put things into better perspective.

I learned that every time we say yes to something, we are actually saying no to something else.

When you say yes to working overtime every day, you say no to your social and family life and personal hobbies. When you say yes to a job you don’t love, you say no to a dream you may have. When you say yes to attending a meeting you are not even sure why you are there, you are saying no to another more important task that you could have done with that time.

Susan Newman, author of “The Book of No” wrote, “By saying no, you can focus on your goals.” Saying yes to everything can damage your reputation and hurt your career (and may I add, your life too).

People (myself included) should learn that saying no is okay. Recently, I said No to a couple of requests and immediately was made to feel bad. I was worried about being rude, seen as being unhelpful and not a good person. Someone told me “maybe you should just agree and do what you are asked anyway.”

The episodes kept me awake. I concluded that there was a reason for saying No. And even after communicating the reason, the recipients pushed back. (Aha, those were always tricky). The guilt doubled!

By saying yes to something I didn’t believe in, I would have to say no to doing the right thing and upholding my beliefs.

A very wise mentor used to tell me, “People (the smart ones anyway) respect you more when you say no to the right things.” Sure, everyone may like you because they can get you to do everything they want for them. But do they really have respect for the guy or for his time?

Now, go ponder. And then learn. This is not a post to encourage people to be lazy at work or be an anti-social being. This is a post of a personal reminder and a revelation that saying “NO” is not a bad thing. Learning to say “NO” is not easy but necessary and there are many benefits that come with it. Practising how to say NO in life and at work can be a challenge but one that everyone should take up.

Have you ever bought an audiobook?

Economic Times in India recently reported that Audiobooks are gaining popularity in the Indian markets.

For their ability to reach out to people who cannot read and for those who want to multitask in modern day busy lifestyle, audiobooks in India are slowly getting popular, though the industry is still in its infancy.

Audiobooks have been popular among children but now famous books and novels are being converted into this format for adults too.

Three years ago, I wrote a blog post about audio books. I mentioned that I didn’t think that audiobooks were doing well in Asian markets, now it looks like it is changing. I also wrote about the reasons I love audiobooks.

I love books – in any format. I bought the iPad to try save space on my bookshelves. I got addicted and started buying several titles on Amazon Kindle and via iBooks.

Recently, when I was listening to a podcast , I got a promotional code to get a free audiobook of my choice from Audible.com. Out of curiousity (how could I resist a FREE book?), I tried!

Do you know that Audible.com is a subsidiary of Amazon? I found out that you can listen to audiobooks from Audible.com on different devices, including iPod/ iPad, Android smartphones etc. According to the website, it currently has more than 85,000 titles.

I received my free audiobook and was very happy. The customer service at Audible.com was very quick to respond to questions and was very helpful when I ran into some billing issues later on.

A useful and interesting site –  NextAdvisor.com also came to my attention recently. It allows you to check out audiobook reviews, compares audiobooks subscription plans etc.

My fellow book lovers would often argue that electronic books will never replace the hard copies and I doubt many of them have tried an audiobook. I just loved the fact that I can consume books in different formats at different time. I usually listen to audiobooks when I am running. I do drag my iPad out to read during commute and sometimes, I laze by the pool or on my couch with a nice paperback novel.

However, I noticed that not many of my friends (those who actually read and love books) are into audiobooks. I asked the Rambling Librarian why and he said “short attention lifespan for spoken words …”

So, question – Have you bought an audiobook and why do you think they are not doing as well as other format of books? Price? Reading behavior?

For those of you who want to try one out, here’s a 30-day trial on Amazon/ Audible.com,  iTunes has a good selection and check out Simply Audiobooks too.

For my Singaporean friends, the National Library has a a good selection of audiobook titles too.

Happy Reading!

Aahh… dolce far niente! A new year resolution

Ah! dolce far niente!. It means “pleasant idleness”, the sweetness of doing NOTHING (in Italian)

It is the start of a new year. Many friends have been posting their new year’s resolutions on Facebook. I believe in having goals and working towards them but somehow, like many people, I have not been very successful in keeping my new year’s resolutions.

This year, I decided to make only ONE resolution. One that sounds too simple and almost silly to make it as a New Year’s resolution.

I want to learn to find the joy of doing nothing. The two key words “Joy” and “Nothing.

Before you jump in to tell me how I should not be lazy (my mum would), I am not referring to being a beach bum, not finding employment or inactivity.

“Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.” –  Winnie the Pooh

The concept of ‘doing nothing’ sounds good to many people but something that many fail to do, especially Asians (and women). Many of us are so used to being too busy and doing too much. Learning to do ‘nothing’ or finding the joy and sweetness to just do nothing sound like an impossible task. Doing nothing is not inactivity. “Sit” around is a verb, so is “Smell” the roses but how many of us are actually doing that?

I read a great article in ELLE magazine asking readers when was the last time you really take a day off to sit on your couch, with a nice cup of coffee, read a good book and not feel guilty about not cleaning the house, not running errand, not attending to last minute work emails and just give yourself a day to just ‘be with yourself” and “do nothing much?” The article went on to say that women are prone to suffer from guilt for taking time off for themselves.

For a long time, I had been so busy with work and when I had a day off, I also had a long ‘to-do’ list – “go for gym training, go to the bank, reply ‘urgent’ emails, pick up groceries, meet up friends for dinner etc” Before I know it, the day off was gone and I was tired and upset that I didn’t get to REST!

Recently, due to various reasons, I decided to take a break from work (I realised it was a great decision I made in 2010).

A part of me is so eager to find the next new exciting role, especially when great friends and contacts are enthusiastic about sharing work opportunities. The wiser bit of me is persuading myself to just take some time off to breathe, enjoy this rare period when I can truly do the things I have always wanted to do but always too busy to.

I am convinced that doing nothing takes more effort and more determination than to rush around and doing many things.

I am not saying that my goal is not to work so that I can master the art of doing nothing, what I am saying is, I want to learn to find the joy in resting and taking absolute pleasure in idling some times (even if it’s just spending 15mins each day after work lying on my bed, staring at the ceiling and not feel guilty that I’ve not updated this blog or not reply to my work emails).

My pastor often reminds us of a great revelation he shared about the topic -“restful increase.” Key words – Rest and you’ll find the Increase. I am not going to preach here (follow the link if you want to read more about what Pastor said…).

To end this post, here are some pictures of my New Year holiday at a lovely resort by the beach in Bintan, Indonesia where I learned to enjoy doing absolutely nothing much. I eat, sleep, rest, read, stare at the sea, at the sky and strolled from one end of the beach to the other by myself, listening to my favourite music …then eat and sleep again..”

So, today marks the start of my new year resolution – in search of la dolce far niente. The next time you see me stressed and rushing around doing 1001 things, you know what to tell me!

I am guilty

It gets harder each year to gather friends to have a nice Christmas dinner. Some have business travels to attend to (yes, I know, usually planning meetings for the following year), family vacation and others are just forever busy. So, Melvin, Kevin, Walter, Vanessa and I decided to have our super early Christmas drinks last night at Red Dot Brewery.

We always know we are a group of very like-minded friends and we can talk non-stop for hours – from business to fashion, trends, food and yes, gossips (about other people)! And no surprise at all when we ended up ordering the exact same food!

Van thought it was funny and took a photo of our five plates of Fish & Chips and tagged each of us on our Facebook. Some of my friends on FB who saw the photo asked me if the F&C was on special promotion. No, it wasn’t.

Fish & Chips Christmas dinner

Anyway, as usual, we had a great time. It was also the first time Dr. Kevin Lim managed to join us since he is now back in Singapore – for good.

During dinner, Walter said I should start blogging again since I am not working now and have all the time to myself.

I do feel guilty for not updating the blog. So, last night, I edited the header and re-arranged some minor features and tell myself, ok, I’ll make it a new year resolution (an early one) to start writing again.

And yes, for friends who are not aware, I have left Yahoo! and I am now enjoying a nice little break. So, stay tuned for updates on this blog and let’s have Christmas dinners/ drinks!

Christmas shopping starts today!!

Back with the first post of the year

It’s coming to the end of March 09 and this is my very first post this year!

Interestingly, even when I stopped blogging, there are still traffic coming to this blog. Readers still comment on some old posts. That is somewhat encouraging.

Although from Brendan’s PR index, this blog just keeps on falling. haa. I really applaud Brendan for pulling together the index, it’s a great resource for me. I enjoy clicking on the links, knowing that they’ll lead me to some interesting PR blogs. Over the last one year, I’ve made several online acquaintances from that list. Number 7 and 13 are folks I follow on Twitter and added as friends on facebook. Number 36 is a friend of mine in Singapore, currently doing his master degree in Australia. There are several others on that list that I read regularly.

So, what have I been up to the last many months? WORK! Yes, work has taken a little too much of my life, but it is getting better and I am still having a great time at Yahoo!

A recently illness (infection causing some problems to ear and nose) had caused some discomfort and more stress. Forced to cancel a trip to Taipei (what a shame!) and I’ve been spending a lot more time in Indonesia.

We are launching the Yahoo! Mobile Developer Awards that we ran in Singapore last year in Indonesia. Met some really cool developers and it is getting exciting!

There are alot of good food in Jakarta!

Big yummy prawns

(I don’t know where I ate this but the seafood are all so fresh, yummy and huge!)

The other nice thing about Jakarta is, we stay at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, and you would think it costs a bomb, but it is quite affordable. Spacious and a huge comfy bed.

room2