Archive for September 2007

8 Important Things To Keep In Mind When Seeking Employment

September 30, 2007

Just two days ago, I was conducting the first part of the workshop for “Employability Skills”. Ideas and thoughts about employment were discussed, exchanged, and reflected. One such understanding is that in the midst of seeking jobs, it is obvious that setbacks of non-acceptance will occur before the success of securing employment.

In getting employed, a number of factors come into play. Qualification, skills competency, experience, achievements, character, communication skills, charisma, age and a few others are all relevant employment factors. However, what one must also realize that the factors play to varying degree of importance rather than all of equal standing.

Here are the important things to keep in mind when seeking employment:

1. Your mindset and perspective is the initial influencing element and the most important of the job seeking process. Blaming on the past will only develop tunnel vision. A renewed view of issues will expand the range of job choices you have. Begin to understand that job seeking is not limited to only one employment factor. Also know that it is your responsibility to help the potential employer see the value in you.

2. As your employment factors change, so must your requested job appointment scope change. Going for those that are obviously not your own competency constitutes a mismatch of job requirement, resulting in non-acceptance during application.

3. Conversely, these new jobs may require you to change to a new job scope and/or new industry. You must be willing to explore new grounds. Whenever you are looking for another employment, it’s like starting all over in a new track of your career. Instead of the insisting on the exact same job, in same industry with same salary, be prepared to discover opportunities in a new place or new responsibility. Opportunities often knock at places you never expect.

4. During times of non-acceptance, dare to move on. There are many reasons to why a person is not accepted. Most of these reasons are hidden, hardly obvious to you. What you think as the reason may not be the actual or only reason. Give it a “No big deal”, learn from it, improve it, and move on.

5. The reasons why they should employ you must be represented in your cover letter and resume. As most potential employers want to know more about your background and competency, your cover letter and resume are keys to represent you and speak for you when you are not there. They are also the initial introduction to them that there is such a person as you. In short, they sell you. Therefore make your first impression powerful. Give your cover letter and resume a make over if you have to. You will be surprised how a well-written cover letter and resume will open doors for you.

6. Employers usually hire the most positively outstanding person in their eyes and mind. This should be the aim of your job seeking. Position yourself as the most outstanding you in the best way possible in the midst of other candidates. Find out more about the company and know the right way to position yourself. Hiding behind others and doing the same things as them won’t help bring you the job. Making yourself outstanding gets you hired.

7. Since life and situation change, persistence helps. It’s really a process of finding jobs that match you and sell to potential employers. Sometimes you might be the one to call the company instead of them contacting you. A continuing process of search is essential.

8. Constantly upgrade yourself to add value as a potential candidate. The more you match the requirements of the companies, the more likely they want you. Just as new trends develop, so should you continue learning.

Do remember to keep these in mind. When you apply them, they become helpful and shorten the search process greatly.

Here’s wishing you the best in your job search. May you excel beyond excellence!


How To Really Stay Focus On Achieving Your Goals?

September 27, 2007

A person works hard throughout his life. Blood, sweat and tears are poured into it. And what are all these hustle and bustle for? Hopefully, they bring you closer to your goals.

Distractions galore! Temptations abound! Busy, busy all year around!” you say.

“That’s why I’m not getting what I want.” you added.

BUT these are not reasons, they are excuses. It’s just busy for the sake of being busy.

It’s therefore better to realign oneself and keep focusing on getting ourselves closer to our goals, instead of being busy getting no nearer.

Here are the ways to stay focus onto achieving our goals:

1. Know what you stand for

2. Understand what is essential in your life.

3. Your goals must be made worthy enough of your attention.

4. Make them larger than yourself. Include others in it.

5. Commitment and dedication MUST be in!

6. Stop giving yourself excuses to stop. Start giving yourself reasons to start.

7. Accept that there are costs and sacrifices

8. Be willing to pay the price.

9. Give a penalty for not achieving the individual milestones.

10. Take time to reflect on the day’s work. Review it and amend if needed.

11. Plan the act and Act the plan. This is the most cliché of all, YET the least done of all.

12. Do something with what you read here instead of just reading here.

13. Lastly, be willing to excel. Not just excel. But excel beyond excellence!

Top Criteria of Quality Questions That Help You Help Your Client

September 26, 2007

Just completed the first part of the workshop, “Coaching for Enhanced Performance Management” It was indeed heartwarming to sense the commitment and dedication of the participants. Their desire to assist the clients towards a better life and performance was admirable and inspiring.

One of the most vital skills set of an effective coach is the ability to ask Quality Questions. Questions, when artfully used, can immensely empower your client.

During your coaching with the client, most of the questions asked should contain at least one or more of the following criteria:

1. Contains the value that the client is interested in.

Eg, Client spoke at length about an incident where a colleague is always expressing his dissatisfaction with work.

You: “To what extend is satisfaction at work important to you?”
“How do you think you can remain happy at the workplace?”

2. Enables the filling of the gaps of the client’s thoughts and strategies.

Eg, Client: “When I look at what my life has turned into, I know I have to do something to change it. I know I must.”

You: “What is it exactly that makes you so determined to change your life?”

3. Makes the client reflect and think.

Eg,”What does fulfillment in life truly mean to you?”

“How do you see yourself making a difference to your loved ones?”

4. Helps the client think or move in a forward direction.

Eg: Client: ”I know I want to be happy. I would like to wake up happily tomorrow and go to work.”

You: “What action do you specifically have to take in order to wake up happily?”

5. Lets the client self-understand his own thought processes or action steps.

Eg: “How did you arrive at this conclusion?”
“What steps did you take to accomplish that?”

6. Minimizes ambiguities and towards clarity when needed.

Instead of saying, “Kindly indulge me in the comprehension of your intended route of implied application.”

Simply ask, “What do you intend to do next?”

7. Draws out the client.

Eg, “What role do you see yourself playing in this situation?”

It is always useful to practice asking these quality questions often. Make these questions a part of your coaching process to help your client. Together with your client, you’ll definitely excel beyond excellence!

How To Create Value In Your Negotiations?

September 25, 2007

It was yet another wonderful series of negotiation trainings. At today’s “Effective Negotiation Skills”, I loved it when participants start to apply the structure and tactics of negotiations. It is an indication of the learning process. At the same time, they are encouraged to vary them when needed. Well done, guys! (And welcome to the world, Stanley. 🙂

As promised, here are the steps on creating value in your negotiation:

1. Know what the other party wants.

2. Know what you want.

3. Find the common area within.

4. Word your language to their interests.

5. Begin a process of subtle ‘trading’ of the values.

6. Always gear up on your confidence and negotiating balance of power.

7. Document your agreements.

8. Follow up with action.

Key Tactics For Attracting People Into Your Life

September 24, 2007

Had several in-depth discussions and sharing at the “What Men Want” workshop yesterday. For those of you who have not heard of the workshop, it’s a relationship and attraction session strictly for ladies only. It was definitely fun as we go about setting specific directions and strategies to improve the ladies’ life.

Upon reflection and further arrangement, here are several key thoughts about attraction:

* When you want to attract a lion, dangle the meat in front of him, not the vegetable.

* Whoever you want to attract in your life, be that person first.

* Be ready to socialize to have a social life.

Crunch Time! What Must You Do To Master Over It?

September 23, 2007

There are often times where you are put through extremely tight situations. When I mean ‘tight’, I do mean so tight that even a minute of difference count. A rushing, a scurrying, and a meeting in a nick of time.

Some pointers that you can use to overcome it:

1. Use breathing technique

2. Keep your mind clear

3. Manage between rational and emotional aspects of yourself

4. Be precise with time planning

5. Get friends to support you and take over some tasks

6. Coordinate extremely well and work closely with them

7. Charge your phone and have sufficient sms

8. Keep fit

9. Smile to defuse anxiety

10. Keep people and purpose in focus in whatever you do

11. Begin with the end in mind

How To Boost and Maximize Your Brain’s Learning Capabilities?

September 22, 2007

“Your mind has been a learning machine ever since you’re born.” This was one of the messages I shared with my course participants for the last two days. In “Brain Power”, I’m so glad that all the participants took immense interest excelling in their own mental well being and life success. Well done, everyone!

To add on, here are the ways to maximize and boost your brain’s learning capabilities:

1. Get curious. And I mean really curious about everything.

2. Start to ask questions. Ask them well and ask them deep. Ask me too.

3. Be observant. Hone your powers of sight and hearing. Tune your instincts.

4. Study different perspectives. Be receptive to possible ways of looking at issues and ideas. You see what I mean?

5. Take notes. Note them down. Study them. Discuss them.

6. Test for reaction. A bit of cheekiness here. Dare you push someone to the brink of their limit? Not crossing it though. A little sort of “what happens if I do this?” and then just work on the nerve buttons. I bet you’ll learn something you’ll never forget. (Please… use some emotional intelligence here to know your limits of testing, ok?)

7. Add variety. A little bit of pepper won’t hurt. Who knows, you might like it. So, instead of cramping the books, get out and boogie!!!

8. Seek creativity. When variety isn’t enough, get creative. Ever worn a flowery shirt to work instead of the usual black-and-whites?

9. Have fun. Fun has the strange ability to make you want more of it. So if you have fun learning, guess what you want more of? (The irony is… it’s a no brainer!)

10. Experience freshness and refresh your life. Take a deep breath, feel the positive energy of this world. Reflect on its existence and your purpose of being here in this life. Mediation adds to your enlightenment too. Hmmm……

Remember, your mind craves for new knowledge. Never deny it the chance to grow, for its continued growth is your guarantee to excel in life. A life that lets you excel beyond excellence!

7 Must-Have Elements To Make Your Coaching Relationship Work

September 20, 2007

Coaching is an unique relationship that is established for the ultimate enrichment benefit of the client as well as the skills enhancement of the coach. As a result of this uniqueness and purpose, certain elements are to be there in order to attain success in your coaching.

In my years of coaching in sales and negotiation, communication, public speaking, relationships and others, I will always ensure that these elements are central focus of a successful coaching session. Whenever I train the coaches, trainers, counselors and mentors, they become the grounding and foundation for the scope of training.

To make your coaching relationship work, these key elements must first be present:

1. The Mutual Recognition of the Value of Coaching

2. The Connection between the Coach and the Client

3. The Establishment of Agreement and Procedure

4. The Presence of Openness, Confidentiality and Trust (OCT)

5. The Willingness to Demonstrate and Participate

6. The Act of Sharing, Learning and Improving (SLI)

7. The Maintained Rapport Throughout

The next time you are coached or are coaching someone, always strive to make sure these elements are within the relationship before proceeding with your coaching session. Having these will ensure your client and you will excel beyond excellence in coaching.

5 Essential Capacities Of Effective Leaders

September 19, 2007

Yesterday was a very fruitful training session with the leaders from various schools. At “Leadership Skills for School Leaders”, we had a rather in-depth sharing about various issues about leadership and matters that truly concern them.

At the same time, I also highlighted and explained some of the key capacities of a leader. Each of these areas must be performed well or leadership cracks will occur. They are also closely linked with the other as they form intricate support for each other.

Hence a leader must strive to equip himself with as much as the following capacity as possible:

1. People and situation reading

2. Making decisions

3. People and Resources deployment

4. Job and Responsibilities delegation

5. Motivation and inspiration

It is then with such wise and capable leader that an organization may excel.

How To Drastically Reduce Your Pause Fillers?

September 17, 2007

If your speech is peppered with pause fillers , it disrupts the enjoyment of your presentation and the appreciation of your message. However for most people, pause fillers do become somewhat of a ‘plague’ when left unchecked. They give the impression that the speaker is lacking in confidence and ill-prepared. Hence it is imperative that we strive to minimize them as much as we can.

For this segment, Gerald Ong, has graciously contributed his article on how to drastically reduce our pause fillers in our speeches. My sincere appreciation to him for his sharing.

Overcoming Ah-Er Counter


Have you ever noticed words that affected your speech daily? Words may be inappropriate interjections, such as and, well, but, so, you know. Sounds may be ah, um, er. This is called Pause fillers. If you wonder why we do it daily, it subconsciously affects our thoughts. This can’t be avoided but can be reduced. I will explain it to you as I go along with you in this article.

Scientific Names of Pause Fillers:

Discourse Marker (in linguistics): It is a word or phrase that marks a boundary in a discourse, typically as part of a dialogue, i.e. “Actually”

Speech Disfluencies are any of various breaks, irregularities, or utterances that are often not consistent with any specific grammatical construction and occur within the flow of otherwise fluent speech, i.e. repeated words and phrases.

Fillers (in linguistics): They are sounds or words that are spoken to fill up gaps in utterances, i.e. “uh”, “err”

A Complied List of Pause Fillers (a total of 26 or more):




But (non-connective)

I think

I mean

You See

You Know










I guess

And (non-connective)

Say (non-connective)

Basically (non-connective)



Others (Dialects)




**This list can be extended further, subjective to one’s level of hearing and understanding*

As a rule of thumb;

For basic speakers, their average pause fillers are about 20 counts or above.

For advanced speaker, their average pause fillers is about 10 counts or above

If the speaker achieves 0 counts, I would say that he has made the most effort in controlling his pause fillers. Please compliment him with due respect.

Don’t be surprised when you see a basic speaker having a low number. That means that the speaker is of good quality and has made sufficient preparations in his speech.

Role of Ah Counter during normal chapter meetings in Toastmasters:

The purpose of the Ah Counter is to note words and sounds used as a “crutch” or “pause filler” by anyone who speaks during the meeting. Words may be inappropriate interjections, such as and, well, but, so, you know. Sounds may be ah, um, er. You should also note when a speaker repeats a word or phrase such as “I, I” or “This means, this means”.

Main Sources of Pause Fillers (in order of frequency of occurrences):

1. Table Topics Speakers – 2 minutes 30 sec

— This is one of the easiest times to catch as the speakers would stammer in their speech and create a wide range of pause fillers.

2. Prepared Speech Speakers – project duration

— This can’t be quite difficult to catch. It depends on the project that the speaker is doing

3. Old CL Presentation from The Successful Club Series or Leadership Excellence Series – 15 minutes

4. The Better Speaker Series – 15 minutes

5. Leadership Excellence Series – 15 minutes

6. Success /Communication Series – 15 minutes

7. Success/ Leadership Series – 15 minute

For the other 5 presentations, I don’t wish to comment much as most speakers would be doing either prepared speeches or prepared speech evaluation in 90% of the chapter meetings. They are known as Special Presentations to obtain their educational goals.

From the sources of pause fillers which I have mentioned earlier, there are many possibilities that pause fillers would take place. However, it does differ from individuals. An experienced and active Toastmaster would usually have a low pause filler count, due to their continuous exposure, but a New Toastmaster would typically have a high number (as indicated in the previous page)

The roles that you are advised to take up to get better understanding of the pause fillers:

1. Prepared Speech Speaker

2. Prepared Speech Evaluator

3. Table Topics Speaker & Table Topics Master (understand the psychology of impromptu speaking)

4. Language Evaluator

5. Ah Counter

By taking up the above roles, you can experience the ways in how pause fillers are captured by the Ah Counter and reduce it with your self-conscious. As you go through the individual roles, you will know how to find ways to overcome your pause fillers.

Every role plays an important part in giving great understanding of the pause fillers. It takes place naturally in our speeches and requires a lot of effort in being very conscious in your pause fillers.

You can make the effort with your heart and soul in reducing them. Don’t give up! Everyone matures over time to achieve it.

The going may be tough, but the results would be fruitful at the end of the tunnel.

Watch out for others:

Affected Meeting appointment holder: Ah Counter

Quote from New CL manual, page 72, “Listen to everyone for ‘crutch’ sounds and long pauses used as filler and not as a necessary part of the sentence structure.” (Linked back to Definition on the first page). See Guide below

Making an Effective Ah Counter’s Report for all speakers in the meeting:

Key Facts to deliver:

1. Who are the prepared speech speakers, prepared speech evaluators, appointment holders and table topics speakers?

2. What made them create a high number?

3. Assess each pause filler to the best of your ability

4. Know which scenarios to allow dispersion of pause filler count.

5. Be entertaining and humorous to your audience.

Supplementary Notes:

Guide for AH Counter

Before Meeting

** Prepare brief explanation of your duties for benefit of guests.

** Obtain record sheet or blank paper from Sergeant-at-Arms to make notes.

During Meeting

** Record the number of times a speaker uses words and sounds as well as repeated words/phrases as “pause fillers” during the meeting.

** Repeated words/phrases could include, “I, I”, “this means, this means.”

** Pause filler words such as “Well”, “You know”, “I mean”, “OK”, “So”, “And”, etc.

** Pause filler sounds such as “Ah”, “Um”, “Er”, “Yah”, etc.

** Listen and write down the number of pause fillers used by every speaker.

** When called upon to make a report, stand at your seat and report. Suggested report sequence is as follows:

— Highlight the speakers who used absolutely no pause fillers; and

    — Mention the speakers who used pause fillers, report in detail.

After Meeting

** Give completed reported to Treasurer for collection of fines.

(Differs from club to club)

Who is helping ahead of you?

The Language Evaluator

He could have missed areas that he did not cover in his language evaluation speech. You can help him by pointing out some areas which he did not talk about in the pause filler segment.

See Guide below for more information of the role of the Language Evaluator:

Guide for Language Evaluator

Before Meeting

** Prepare to comment on the use of English language during the meeting.

** Prepare “Word of the Day” to be used during the meeting. The word should help increase members’ vocabulary. Define it and give examples of its use. Write it large enough to be seen by all on a Whiteboard/Flip Chart.

During Meeting

** Throughout the meeting, listen to everyone’s word and vocabulary usage as well as grammar.

** When called upon to deliver the Language Evaluator’s Report, observe protocol, and then comment on any creative and beautiful language used.

** Try to offer the correct usage whenever there is a misuse of the language.

** Ask for a dictionary from SAA (if available) to assist you with meanings and pronunciations of words. Some words have more than one meaning and can be used to great effect by the speaker.

After Meeting

** Give completed report to Treasurer for collection of fines.

(Differs from club to club)

How can we avoid / reduce it?

Are we very careful in reducing your pause fillers? You have to, because every pause filler you make wastes 3 seconds in your speech duration. Timing is very important in a speech and this really matters to the speakers in the long-term.

Control your own sub-conscience on your pause fillers in your own speech

Affected Meeting appointment holders: Sergeant-At-Arms, Toastmaster-of-the-Evening, Table Topics Master, Table Topics Speaker, Prepared Speech Speaker, Prepared Speech Evaluator, and Language Evaluator

How to become very conscious in your Pause Fillers?

1. You can’t avoid the pause fillers but you can reduce it.

2. Set yourself a comfortable range to fall in (i.e. 0-10 counts per meeting)

3. Know what pause filler you have that repeats continuously at every meeting

4. As you speak, make a mental estimation of how many pause fillers you make each time. After which, make a review once every 3 months.

5. Review the Ah Counter’s report at every meeting.

“When you have too many pause fillers, your speech gets broken up into small fragments and don’t sound easy for the ears. You may feel that your ears can get unbearable as the speech continues.” Gerald Ong

Finally, let me share with you the tips in reducing your pause fillers & presenting your Ah Counter’s Report:

Tips in reducing your pause fillers:

1. During your practice speeches, have a rubber band on your wrist. Pull the rubber band when you speak through and pick up a pause filler. This would trigger your mind to remember to avoid speaking on it.

2. Develop self-conscious in knowing the numbers and type of pause filler you have. “Once bitter, twice shy” – as long as you know where and what made you got it, you can reduce and eliminate it.

3. In table topic, control your nervousness and don’t display it. Rely on something familiar which you can relate to.

4. Review your counts at every meeting (if you visit clubs on regular basis)

5. Always ensure that you notice that your pause fillers are decreasing gradually.

6. If your pause fillers keep increasing, make an effort to reduce it further. I believe that something has caused you to increase proportionally.

7. Your pause fillers are waste words. For every erm, you waste 3 seconds in your speech. Time is very precious in your speeches.

8. Don’t fumble and look at your notes! You will create opportunities to have pause fillers.

9. Know how to take advantage of having long pauses during your speech to create an element of suspense & surprise. “Silence speakers louder than words”

Tips in presenting Ah-Er Counter Report:

1. Work with the Vice President (Education) for a 7-10 minute slot in the meeting agenda. This would allow you to give a substantial evaluation.

2. Use chronological sequence in your report. It keeps everyone on track with the meeting agenda.

3. Always tell the relevant speakers in a detailed manner of their pause fillers. They need to know their numbers before improving further.

4. Personalize your Ah Counter Report like Language Evaluation in a different style. This helps speaker to receive your personal touch

5. You are encouraged to use the “CRC” method. Comment the speakers’ good areas, recommend the weak areas and comment on everyone performance as a whole.


1. Present an informative Ah Counter Report

2. Learn how to overcome the self-conscious part of your speech

3. Know the pause fillers

4. How to achieve the best out of it.

Pause fillers can be overcome through trials & errors. This can be achieved through constant practice and improvement over a period of time. If I can do it, so can you! Enjoy your speaking journey.