February 22, 2005

Never Hire Family

Hallo... I come from a successful business family which has been around for almost 200 years. However, I have this advice for those out there thinking of hiring relatives, "Never Hire Family!"

Yes, that is right - never hire family! Please note, this advice is based on my personal professional experience and has nothing to do with my family business, of which I am not a part of and shall be reserved as a different story for another time.

Hiring family makes bad business sense. Why? Well, you can't get rid of them when they don't perform, you are forced to give them a salary raise and promotion despite their not delivering, they argue with you till you give in, you feel sorry for them, they make you look bad in front of other employees, you have to cater to their whims and cries, and worst of all... despite the business downfall, you have to attend family functions with them for the rest of your life!

You might ask, "What about trust?" Yes, we all want to work with people we can trust and feel comfortable with and the first instinct is to go with family. Wrong! Not wrong because family cannot be trusted, they should be and there should be a strong bond between family members. Wrong because once you mix business with pleasure or business with family, you have a concoction for disaster.

Strange thing is, even though I grew up around a red-tape, bribery-filled, money-under-the-table society, I am a solid proponent of the merit system. Oh yes, if you work hard, you deserve the credit and not someone who happens to be a relative of the boss! So, rule number one in business... refer to the title of this blog.


February 16, 2005

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Hallo... I think PBS makes having a TV worth it! Recently on NOVA there was a piece about a recent brain discovery named, Mirror Neurons. When you watch a sports event, a movie, a person in distress, a person laughing, and such, our brain reacts, but how?

It all started with a monkey who was fed peanuts in an Italian lab. Each time the monkey reached out for the peanut, a certain neuron fired in the brain. Then one day, a lab technician reached for a peanut in front of the monkey (I guess he was hungry) and the same neuron fired in the monkey's brain! Did you get that? The monkey did not move, but his brain mirrored the action. It was as if the monkey actually reached for the peanut himself.

When we watch a game of basketball, we feel and behave as if we are playing the game. We move with the players, calling out cheers and jeers, we feel their pain when a foul is called, and we feel their happiness when a goal is scored! Our brains mirror it all and the mechanism is just amazing!

To learn more about Mirror Neurons or watch the program online go to NOVA - Science Now


February 14, 2005

Society Made Me A Hedonist

Hallo... according to a study conducted by someone somewhere, Americans are about as happy now as they were in 1946! Sounds untrue, since we have lots of fancy technology at our fingertips these days. We have gadgets in all shapes and sizes to make our lives easier and faster. Well, then why are we unhappy or not as happy as we should be?

This weekend, I went to purchase a scanner and the checkout lady insisted I purchase insurance for the next two years. What? Are you kidding me, two years of insurance for a gadget that will be obsolete perhaps before the end of 2005? No way! The way technology is heading, a scanner model 5 times as good will be out in the market in no time.

Guess what? My attitude and my approach to technology is the problem, accordingly to a certain study. I constantly experience a phenomenon psychologists call, "hedonic adaptation." In a nutshell, the new gadget comes out, I buy it, I get bored, the next model comes out, I buy, I get bored, etc. I am not alone, most of us behave this way. Gosh, society made me a hedonist?!

Check out MIT's Technology Review - January 2004, specially the article "Technology and Happiness." This magazine as a whole is one of the best I have read!


February 11, 2005

Rediscovering The Skipping Rope

Hallo... there I was in the gym on my somewhat usual treadmill run feeling like a hamster, when my eyes caught something I had not seen in decades. This long white thing with two wooden handles at the ends was a rare sight for me.

"Oh wow, it that a skipping rope?" the question shouted in my head while my eyes must have appeared larger than normal. I stopped the boring treadmill and made a bee-line for the skipping rope. Taking it in my hands, I found some empty space and proceeded to jump. 1, 2, 3... 28, 29, 30! It felt delightful and brought back childhood memories long misplaced.

The rediscovery of the skipping rope has set me on a different exercise track. It has also given me something to think about... why pay $25-$100 per month on a gym membership, when you can buy a $5 skipping rope that cuts the mustard just as well? Maybe we have been spoilt by the jacuzzi and sauna, huh?