End of Apple era? Or lack of innovative ideas?

Since Steve Jobs left this world, I personally haven’t seen anything innovative like these products I own(ed):

Apple 24″ iMAc

Yes, I have gotten the non-white body iMac.

apple-imac-24inch

I bought this to launch my freelance career.

Apple iPod Shuffle 2G

The “jack” that also being used to charge the iPod.

apple-ipod-shuffle-2g

Apple Macbook Pro 13″

Aluminium unibody!

apple-macbook-pro-unibody

This one was stolen in 2010.

Apple (New) Macbook Air

new-macbook-air-thunderbold-magsafe

My wife bought me this 13″ for my birthday. Super fast. Good battery life and Magsafe 2.

This Inc article made me to put this into blog writing as my prediction of shop closure at Suria KLCC mall is quite accurate and I thought it would also be the same for this brand, in which yet to come one with a phone good enough for me to buy.

There are more than the above when it comes to innovation for apple, even the introduction of “Mission Control”, “Spaces” and “Hot corners” are enough to justify how their products innovate and revolutionise the way we work and think (at least myself).

The beginning of the end?

But, few triggers made me feel “the beginning of the end” is already happening:

  • Selling of cheap iPhone (iPhone 5c) = lack of focus. Milking the cash cow?
  • Introduction of new names for OS X = Mavericks, Yosemite, El Capitan, Sierra. Really?
  • Too much variation of screen sizes (iPhone, iPad) = This is what you get when you listen too much to the people. When they revolutionise few years back, they disrupt their market with their products, but now they are disrupted.

I can sense that there is an internal conflict or belief within the organisation. Lack of trust? Lack of conviction? But something is wrong somewhere. But I still put my bet on Jonathan Ive but if he left the company or having an early retirement (age: 49, btw), then I can be sure.

Till then, I still hope for the best despite a shitty iPhone 7 launch. I’ll skip this one and still waiting for the amazing/best iPhone since iPhone.

End.

 

Focused Execution

When we wish to deliver certain project or task with the best possible way, there are so many things that will go inside of our mind. And you shouldn’t be scared of that. If you are nervous about it, that is a good start because it means you are not sure whether it is going to work or not.

But more important than that, you will be learning something new. Something to break your upper limit and at the end of it, you will gain a new set of experience. Perhaps you expanded your network, you gained positive feedback, you get to know someone better, you understand certain underlying concept or idea better or even if it doesn’t. You still learn. So, don’t be scared.

You might ask, where should I start?

Resources

Provided that you clear with what the expectations are (Rule number ZERO), then you will start by analysis the resources you currently have. Some of which can be summarised as follows:

  1. Time
  2. Money
  3. Technology
  4. Contacts / Network
  5. Experience
  6. Management

Having lack of any of the above, you will need to start to be resourceful. Not giving excuses. Find the time you may need, collaborate, start picking up phone, ask permission and many more. As Tony Robbins said in his TED talk, lack of resources are not the real problem, not being resourceful is.

A-Team

Having a team is useful, but knowing to select your team members are even more important because you can leverage on the strength of your team members. The ability to profile and understand how to leverage are two things that you need to start learn.

Learn to observe what your future team members are good at. And don’t be shy to ask about their passion. As a leader (regardless whether you are the team lead or not), it is vital to get all the team members to believe in the idea.

If you are trying to rob a bank and you are gathering your team, you won’t be recruiting a member that doesn’t believe in the idea. Especially if it is a crazy idea!

It may take some time for you to have a team member, but collaboration with a set of people that might joint force is another possible way as well.

On top of things

Always be on top of things even if you are reporting the task to someone, regardless President or Board of Directors. Ask yourself 1 million questions and be prepared with the answers, reasons and justifications. They will appreciate you doing the extra mile and consider all options.

This is the part where you will learn and experience so many first things. The most useful thing you can do now is to unlearn and learn back again. Expect nothing in return but experience. You shall be in good hands. Although it might be rocky, but keep calm as it is nothing compared to the pain of quitting.

Getting Things Done

When it comes to the things that specifically need your attention, get it done with the upmost respect to yourself. Don’t do it for others.

Watch and learn how to learn, how you think, how you react, how you feel and how you judge. If stuck, take a short break and a step back to see the whole picture. Share your challenges and brainstorm the solution.

And don’t forget to enjoy what you do.

It is also important to be self-aware of your surroundings. Don’t miss doing the things you always do. If your habit is running, don’t stop for the sake of getting things done. Your non-negotiables are your non-negotiables (see italic sentence above).

Room for improvement

Always look for room for improvement in what you do. Spend some time thinking of what you can do better. Getting feedback from other people is very useful. You may enjoy the good feedback but at the same time take note on the negative ones. Those gaps are meant to be filled. And should you are responsible to give feedback, be objective and honest with it. When a person asking for an honest feedback, don’t sugar coat.

And perhaps after the end of everything, you will not realise that you have improved based on the feedback you received. Even if you fail, owning what you are supposed to do is an act of integrity. Sir Ken Robinson said, “if you are not prepared to be wronged (Personal Note: or I would also consider fail), you will never come up with something new.”

Oil and Gas employees are now at the bottom of the food chain?

Going through this hard time of oil plummet. I believe it is interesting to record and thin slice things happening around the country or world.

After budget cuts and right-sizing strategy across the industry, I have received this email screenshot related to the loans and financing application for employees of oil and gas industry.

image

In my recent chart analysis that indicates the down trend of the commodity seems to be made worse when information like this being shared.

It seems like financial institutions will now further tighten the process and deal with things on case to case basis when they want to lend their “borrowed” money.

For now, the employees of OGA companies are (I can say) officially at the bottom of the food chain. Struggling to even survive as if the job security problem is solved yesterday.

Darkest hour? Or we are at the bottom of the abyss yet?

Stay strong. Perhaps this is the time to have hope even when there is none spared.

For every downturn, there must be something in store for all of us.

I am trying to be optimist indeed. And more importantly grateful if I am comparing myself to the people that were badly affected.

When I asked fellow colleagues what happened during 97 and 98 financual crisis, there was no increment. Let alone bonus. Maybe, we should think that having a job now is considered a bonus.

29 replies to Jeff Bezos’s Amazon Interview Questions (Part 2)

Around 2 weeks ago, I have written the answer for 15 interview questions for Amazon job interview (Part 1).  I have received unexpected responses and here are the remaining of my spontaneous answers:

16. “Tell the story of the last time you had to apologize to someone.”

Back in 2010, I was working for IX Telecom, a small telco company in Malaysia monitoring large networks. One of the key lesson that I learned from the Chief is that we shouldn’t simply say sorry. Especially without any real meaning.

I made few mistakes in my working life, despite it is just a small mistake. 3R is the simplest way to resolve this. Regret. Reason. Remedy.

And the last time I apologize to someone was when there is a breakdown in communication in terms of what mechanism needs to be in place for guests registration for a launch of a new exhibition. As part of Marketing team, I was eager to roll the latest visitor registration system via iPad. However, since it is new, we thought it would delay the registration process. So, we decided to use paper and pen.

Then, at the end of everything. There is a bit of miscommunication in terms of how things should be implemented. At the end of it, I have decided that I took full responsibility and learned that communications are vital. Vertically and horizontally. And it is a beauty when you can experience the meaning of “doing the right thing” versus “doing things right”. Which of course, for a separate discussion.

17. “Walk me through how Amazon Kindle books would be priced.”

My first perception, cheaply. But it actually depends on the author/publisher. It is a light version of a book but content is still King. So, yeah. It is a mix of the pricing and product quality resulted in the output.

  • Right pricing. Good product. Good sales.
  • Wrong pricing. Bad product. Bad sales.

But pricing it at $0.99 is good if you already reached your break-even cost or desired profit. And Kindle is just another channel for you to sell your book. The choice is yours.

18. “What would you do if you saw someone being unsafe at work?”

Think. Choose the right approach and take action. If it is not time specific, you can share it with him or his/your superior.

Best if you know his/her influencer(s). Talk to them.

19. “What would you do if somehow you misdirected 10,000 units of something?”

You have two options:

Firstly, redirect it back again to where it belongs. Then tell your superior.

Secondly, tell your superior and direct it where it belongs.

I want to stress the point of communication because “somehow” it happened. And it was none of your attention. Most problem arise when you are being caught with your hand inside the cookie jar while you didn’t know your hands reaching in.

But integrity is at the core. You can choose to redirect it back again without anyone knows about it. But you decide the magnitude. Again, “doing the right thing” or “doing things right”.

20. “How would you improve Amazon’s website?”

For goodness sake, ship Worldwide🙂

21. “You have 30 people working under you with 2 working indirect. Each employee can do 150 units/hour. Each work day has two 15 min breaks and one 30 min lunch. In a 5 day work week, how many total units can you complete?”

Is that all? Okay.

  • Capacity: 32 people = (32 * (8 – 1) * 5) hours = 1120 hours
  • Units = 1120*150 = 168,000 completed units.

22. “What is the most difficult situation you have ever faced in your life? How did you handle it?”

I have an issue related to my family, but I am not ready to share it here. So, but I have another which could be considered as one of the most difficult.

Getting my wife to focus on the family.

The idea is simple. To get my wife to focus on the family. Asking her to quit her job and focus on our two daughters. It is a bout delegation and I can earn more than her. Plus, she always wanted to work from home and start her own business and manage her own time.

It took a while for me to come up with something. I have discussed this with her for more than a year until I have decided to mathematically consider three main things:

  • How much she earns and what’s left after deducting everything
  • What are her goals and dreams
  • How her time are being used on daily basis

So, I introduced her with the idea 3 months ago and she is currently serving her notice. Thinking about the fact that she has a degree in Business Management, normally people would go against this idea. But I have learned that we know best about our family, our goals, our targets and what do we want from life.

But hey, if later she decides to work again. I am open. So, it is a win-win situation and she just needs a little push.

23. “How would you tell a customer what Wi-Fi is?”

I would firstly ask if you he/she knows what Internet is and Wi-Fi is another form of wireless connection that helps your device to surf the web.

Traditionally, you need the cable. So, for “wireless”.

24. “You are Amazon and Samsung offers you 10,000 Samsung Galaxy S3s at a 34% discount. Is that a good deal?”

At the current situation (December 2015). Probably people wouldn’t bother because there is S6 now. If you are looking to clear your stock, perhaps 50% would be a good deal.

Unless, I can sell it at the market value. Then I know I have at least 34% gross profit margin.

25. “Design an online payment system.”

Why do we need to reinvent the wheel? Perhaps we should focus on improving the UX and UI of the payment system.

26. “Give me an example of a time when you were 75% of the way through a project, and you had to pivot strategy–how were you able to make that into a success story?”

Test it fast and if it successful. Share the initial story. Then people would know that the pivot strategy works. There must be something that you did which give birth to the new strategy. Share that as well.

Sir Ken Robinson said, “If you are not prepared to be wronged, you will never come up with something new.”

27. “Should we sell private label cleaning products?”

Never. Don’t bother. 80/20 (Pareto’s Principle)

28. “What would you do if you found out that your closest friend at work was stealing?”

Refer question #18. It seems like this is one of the top questions in Amazon job interview🙂

29. “Which Amazon leadership principle do you resonate most with?”

Innovation.

I love innovation because it shows progress. Similar like growing. When there is no progress, you are dying. Year by year, I will set few things to achieve in a particular year and focus on it.

Be a better version of yourself everyday.

(Part 2 – 29 December 2015, 6:33PM)

—— End of Interview ——

Thank you for reading and if you have feedback, please fill up the following form. Cheers and happy 2016!

29 replies to Jeff Bezos’s Amazon Interview Questions (Part 1)

Inc.com published this article on 29 Interview Questions Amazon Uses and I would like to give it a shot (as-an-when basis). Here it goes.

1. “Who was your most difficult customer?”

The one that kept quiet. It is hard because you can force the horse to go to the river. But you can’t force it to drink. But the secret is to (1) Establish the form of communication. (2) Keeping the momentum. (3) Understand that he/she is a human and they decide best.

At the end of the day, he/she might not buy it now. Maybe later. If not this product, the other product from your store. Business is when needs are fulfilled. Economically speaking, supply meets demand.

2. “How would you introduce AWS in an elevator pitch?”

The solution that wasn’t available a decade ago. It is made available with a friction of a cost allowing you to replicate your applications that can serve your customer all over the world. Scalable is the keyword. If you don’t need it now. You will need it in the future because this is the future.

3. “What is the worst mistake you ever made?”

Not opening myself up for possibilities. Between 20 – 25 years old, my focus was to do ALL things possible my way, the way I want it to be. But now, 3 years later. I realised that although I manage uncover a lot of things, the secret is to allow openness.

In terms of learning and in terms of accepting that you can’t do all things by yourself. The secret to living is growing and in order to grow, we must learn. And to learn, we must be open. #kisahorangbiasa

4. “If your direct manager was instructing you to do something you disagreed with, how would you handle it?”

This isn’t the first time. During the first few, I found hesitation in myself, but sooner I realised that it didn’t do me any good. Despite the different personality that I have with my superior, but I always ask this question to myself everyday:

When is the last time you try something new?

So, I believe that I just need to do deal with it and treat it as something new. There must be something I can learn. Or if it is a vicious cycle, you will learn “how not to be someone”.

5. “Describe what Human Resource means to you.”

Anthony Robbins mentioned in his TED Talk that most people complain about lack of resources. “I don’t have enough staff”, for example. And human is part of the equation or resource.

Network = Net worth. So, human resource is putting the value to the time and energy spent by the people.

6. “What is the angle between the hour hand and minute hand in an analog clock?”

Depending on your time. I don’t have the exact mathematics calculation on top of my head but if you consider. 3am (hour hand at 3, minute hand at 12). That is a 90 degrees. And you can divide them into 3 which is 30 degrees for each distance between 1 and 2 for example. The rest, you can deduce from there.

7. “How do you detect whether or not a word is a palindrome?”

To be honest. I don’t know the effective way. But what pops on top of my head now is drawing a line in the middle of all characters combine. And check if left side is similar to right from the centre. Done.

8. “Do you know our CEO? How do you pronounce his name?”

Jeff Bezos. I have been pronouncing his name the way it should. Double checked it on several video sources.

9. “Here’s a string with numbers from 1-250 in random order, but it’s missing one number. How will you find the missed number?”

This is quite challenging. To be honest I don’t know how. Perhaps sort the numbers from 1 – 50, 51 – 100, 101 – 150, 151 – 200 and 201 – 250 and check the unfortunate column.

10. “Are you willing to work on your feet for ten hours, four days a week?”

Sure. I just need a standing workstation and permission to wear whatever shoes I want to wear.

11. “Do you think you’ll reach a point where you storm off the floor and never return?”

It is hard to say but so far I will know if I am “falling” and I will bring myself up again. I prefer to keep quiet and not say anything.

When you’re up to this point, ask yourself?

Is this worst then death? No. Good!

12. “Would you tell on an employee for stealing?”

It is code of conduct. I will personally tell him/her. Even in a single note but this will be on my personal record. If it happens again, it is time for face-to-face. If it happens again, HR it is.

Sometimes, people didn’t know it is “stealing”.

13. “How would you solve problems if you were from Mars?”

Just solve the problem if you can. If you can’t communicate, find a way to do so and solve the problem. People don’t care where you are coming from. Stay focus on the problems.

14. “How do you persuade people?”

I influent them with what I have done and what I am willing to do for them. Mutual understanding. Mutual respect. Perhaps we can reach to a mutual agreement and expectations.

Communicate effectively.

15. “Describe what happens in your browser as soon as you hit enter after writing a URL in the address bar.”

With my little knowledge, URL is mapped to an IP. Basically you will request for information (download) from that IP to be displayed. It will travel through the wire and go through the tunnel where the IP is located. Then the packets will be sent back to you and displayed on your screen.

(Part 1 – 15 December 2015, 5:30PM)

READ PART 2

Image credit: ceoworld.biz

A short (art) trip

Few hours ago, I was invited to visit the studio of a local artist. I have never been to one since 2013. Before the trip, I hesitate to visit but when I ask myself when is the last time you try something new? I decide that 30 minutes visit should be good for a start.

Art-KisahOrangBiasa_42

Permission

Today, I learn about permission. It is a simple concept but it gives respect to anyone that should be credited. We will get ourselves in trouble if we do not have the permission.

The concept of private and public.

The idea of close and open.

The theory of off and on.

#KisahOrangBiasa

3 Reasons Why You Should Write A Book and How I Can Help You Too

It was end of March, I have sent the final transcript to the printer. While people is stressing about GST, I am happy that I have fulfilled one my life goal – writing and publishing my first book.

Back in 2007, I thought of writing a motivational book about Work, Love and Life. But I realised that I need more time to gain the content I need for work. So, I am focusing on what I have been doing for the past 3 years and sharing it to the people. After 3 months, I am now sharing 3 reasons why you should write a book and then I am sharing you how I can help you to write and publish yours too!

It is all about giving. Sharing.

sharing

When you write a book, you will be able to share your experience, expertise and document it in a form that has been used for many centuries.

Plus, if you put your book on Google Books for example, you are allowing the world to find related content to the subject and in a way you are “sharing” it to the world.

Need I say more?

Network. Network. Network

With other property book authors in Gombak last month.
With other property book authors in Gombak in May 2015.

I visited my friend, Ahyat Ishak during Prospek Hartanah event in Gombak and I was called to the stage to basically take pictures with other property gurus in Malaysia together with the books written by all of us (namely Ahyat, Ali Majis, Ishmael Ho).

When you write a book, you will be able to expand your network within the niche you are focus on. It is also a positioning method for yourself and associate yourself with the people you want to be with.

“Your network is your net worth” anyway. So, write a book!

Your Expertise. Your Voice.

your-voice

And when no one in your niche write a book and you are the first one to write it. Your have the VOICE. Your will be able to establish your territory and influence the niche.

You can now explore and knock doors of opportunities such as giving talks, organising seminars, personal coaching and you can repackage your book as an ebook.

Now, I believe you have enough reasons to write a book.

If I can do it in less than 1 month to finish a book while I spent another to smell my own book. You can do it too.

So, let me help you as I am opening a new course as follows:

Course Title: Your Book Your Voice

I am now offering one week book writing course for you to follow and learn the start till the end of book writing, publishing, marketing and selling.

No frills. You will have the access, anytime, anywhere.

From as low as USD 470 only!

Register your interests today, for more info, you may email me at hello@mohdrafie.com

See you at the top!🙂