Alan Soh

I am my own columnist, sharing my own thoughts and recent experiences!


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Remember this discussion in which I’ve did a blog post last year (see post dated 15 July 2018), sharing my thoughts about it? Read on for its report done by a co-organiser.

Having concluded the “Bridge the Gap” youth discussion on inequality and the class divide in Singapore in mid-July last year – and hence, in very overdue fashion – here is the executive summary and some accompanying thoughts.

via “Bridge The Gap”: Executive Summary And Post-Discussion Report — guanyinmiao’s musings Continue reading

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Anyone still using voicemail?

voicemail

Yesterday, I received a voicemail on my smartphone.

It was a number I couldn’t recognise. I simply ignored it because I think it could be a call coming from a telemarketer.

It is year 2018. Who still uses voicemail these days, I wonder.

Is it redundant?

To communicate with someone, more than 90% of people of whom I know prefer SMS texting to voicemail. If you were to use voice mail, you have to go through a few steps in order to get that message. So why the inconvenience?

I believe texting is the most preferred mode of communication among people these days, other than telephone calls.

I think there are 5 reasons why most of us prefer texting over leaving a voice mail.

1. Time-consuming

We all want to get things fast.

Voice messages are not very long yet, however the bit of extra time and the steps required to retrieve that little piece of information from the voice mailbox could be a big turn-off.

Having said that, there is still a slight chance that there is an important message waiting for you yet you turn it off before the voice message starts playing.

 

2. Impersonal

Who are the people who would leave you voice mail?

There’s your mother – maybe your grandmother – who rambles on about how she just wanted to check and see how things are going on with you? But wait, mothers these days are quite IT-savvy. They know how to text us over Whatsapp!

Or it could be that financial services consultant whom you met at a roadshow recently, hoping to do a follow-up call with you, after completing a form.

When someone close to us wants to get in touch, they either message us on social media or text us. As such when you see a voicemail, you know that the caller who left you a voicemail, is someone whom you hardly knows, and this person is outside your social circles.

At that point, so why bother getting back to that caller?

3. Difficult to hear

How many times are we self-conscious about others overhearing our calls and voice messages, or we had to leave a room because it was too noisy?

Texting is so much easier. Furthermore, it is visual communication. People understand better when they could read words.

How many times do I have to replay a voice message to understand totally what was said, or to write down an important phone number? This is a big hassle, and text messaging provides a simple EASY solution.

This is difficult for people who are hearing-challenged like myself. 

4. Still makes you write a message

A message should be something which upon receiving it, you can instantly run along with, not something which you have to replay 3 or 4 times ,and still have to take notes.

Wheras on the other hand, if somebody texts me, I already gotten a written record of everything which I need to know, and the number to contact that person. In addition, I can also keep an unlimited number of texts saved, instead of dialling the voicemail number to clear my voice mailbox messages frequently.

5. No urgency to retrieve voicemail

Haha. If it is not urgent, I think most of us are just going to forget about it. Totally.

If someone can’t answer your call, there is a HIGH chance that they won’t be listening to your voice mail soon either.

Most text messages are read within 3 minutes, and hence the receipient can decide whether to pay attention to that message immediately or leave it for replying later.

In short, I won’t be sad if voicemail goes one day. It is not helpful in our daily lives nowadays. 

 

 


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Chinese New Year 2018

Today (2 March) is the 15th day and final day of the Chinese New Year (CNY) — Yuan Xiao Festival.

How was your Chinese New Year holidays?

My recent instagram posts provide some insights on how I spent mine. Check it out at my IG profile @ humourboi.

For the uninitiated, Yuan Xiao Festival is also known as The Lantern Festival, marking the end of the CNY celebrations. It is called Chap Goh Mei (literally 15th evening of the 1st Lunar Month) in Singapore. For the lovebirds, this is also the chinese version of Valentine’s Day!

Note: Please do not confuse it with the Mid-Autumn Festival which falls in the 8th Lunar Month which is also popularly known as Lantern Festival.

I am now at the final lap of my current course. I hope everything goes well.

I wish you happiness, good health, prosperity and great success in the Year of the Dog. Let’s work hard for ourselves! Have an awesome Woof Woof year! 🙂

Here’s my clip of the fireworks display taken at the recent River Hongbao event. Enjoy!


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Helping people take flight in 2017!

taking-flight

It is a brand new year.

It is time for us to take charge of our lives, and strive to equip ourselves with new skills so that we can be independent and fly high.

A friend of mine has founded a new social enterprise called Taking Flight 启飞, which aims to help provide fair employment opportunities and personal development for disadvantaged youths in Singapore (which includes physically challenged, at-risk and those below the poverty line).

This is achieved through business process consultations with small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) to clearly identify portions of the value chain that could be undertaken by these Singaporean youths.

 

Together with the job match, Taking Flight will look to value-add to the persons in the following areas:

i) Personal Development (such as On-boarding, Workplace training, Continuing Education)

ii) Financial Development (such as Coaching/ Mentoring by experienced volunteers, financial literacy skills)

iii) Career Development

 

The social enterprise has currently started efforts in the financial industry to take on a few different roles starting March 2017. This pilot effort will provide part-time employment for a duration of 3 months before review and scaling.

Looking for Singaporeans or Permanent Residents who are:

– aged 18 years old and above,

– able to speak simple English with anyone outdoors,

– can be from disadvantaged families, physically-challenged, deaf, or youths-at-risks,

– IT savvy enough to use a smartphone or a tablet PC.

If you or know any fellow Singaporeans who have a keen desire to break out of their cycles to become someone strong and independent one day, would like to occupy free time slots to earn some income on part-time basis, this is the place for them to start embarking on a journey of personal transformation.

Working hours are flexible. The jobscope is doable and it pay wells.

The founder has more than 15 years of prior work experience in conceptualisation, implementation and reviewing of the Youth Sector Development Framework and establishing grant relations with many non-profit organisations in Singapore.

He is not looking at 20 individuals, in fact more than 100.

To find out more details via a non-obligatory chat over a cup of friendly coffee, or to express interest, you may e-mail me at alan.soh@hotmail.sg or Mr Yap Keng Hwee at yapkenghwee@yahoo.com.


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Breaking The Sound Barrier (Part 1)

It has been several months since I rejoined Young ChangeMakers 2.0 at National Youth Council, as a YCM project curator aka mentor.

I am presently the YCM Project Mentor behind a group of enthusiastic undergraduates from Nanyang Technological University, Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information.

The team is planning a campaign, titled “Breaking the Sound Barrier”, which hopes to help the deaf community in Singapore.

1 out of every 1,000 babies born in Singapore have severe or profound hearing loss, and the team found themselves being drawn to this issue and hence, would like to do something for the deaf Singaporeans.

The main partner of this project, Singapore Association of the Deaf (SADeaf) has served the deaf community for over 61 years. To the team, it has highlighted the problem of deaf Singaporeans having difficulty in searching and getting jobs despite having the same qualifications as others. As such, there is an increasing importance to help create an inclusive workplace environment for the deaf.

The objectives of this 7-month campaign are:

  1. to heighten awareness among employers of the potential of deaf community as ABLE employees,
  2. to change employers’ perceptions towards hiring the deaf,
  3. to encourage more local employers to hire the deaf.

The key message here is; to break employment barriers for deaf Singaporeans – they can be valuable employees and excellent contributors to our workorce.

The deaf are just like you and me.

By supporting and dispensing advice to this project, I am indirectly helping similar Singaporeans like myself. Therefore, I stepped forward to be their mentor, offering help.

 

Presently the team is carrying out a survey to better understand the current situation.

I will be very grateful if you could help us to spread word about this online survey to people in your network connections, of whom you know who are managers, particularly Human Resource personnel, or anyone involved in the hiring procedures.

Responses are kept 100% confidential, and the information collated will be very helpful to this campaign.

Here is the Breaking the Sound Barrier – Online Survey

I hope you can assist us, in helping this group of Singaporeans, building a more inclusive Singapore.

Thank you very much! 🙂

breaking-the-sound-barrier


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A random Sunday thought

On top of my hearing impairment condition, I always make it a point to mingle more and try to understand people from their point of view. Especially from the best smart ones. Although I admit that my critical thinking ability may not be very good. Okay, perhaps it means I need to read up more?

It is another separate issue if people are not willing to share.

At my current age, I already learnt not to pre-judge people first. These days, I understand things by listening and observing, and then try to understand why things are done in a certain pattern.

Until today, I am still trying to understand what is my unique standing position in Singapore and this world. Why am I born in Singapore? Why am I in this current state? Why do I exist? What is my purpose? Is there something I can help to change in this world? How do I go about doing it?

I somehow think that purpose is getting more clearer and clearer to me.

The challenging part is often about how one can look beyond surrounding naysayers say and follow what he or she wants to do wholeheartedly.

I think sharing perspectives can help to broaden my mind further.
I like talking to people, to understand their thoughts on an issue.

Hmm..maybe it is time to come up with my own version of MediaCorp Channel 5 “Let’s Think About It” conversation with some friends over coffee?


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An email interview

Recently, an undergraduate friend has requested to do an email interview with me on his project on motivation.

This is how I made my response.

Preliminary questions

Question: How would you describe your own aspirations?

Reply: Aspirations, in my own words at this current life stage, would be more of what I hope to achieve and who I want to be in future.

Question: What are some of your interests?

Reply: Hobbies, you mean? Things that interest me presently are: reading, swimming, jogging, karaoke, movies, volunteering, photography, listening to songs or instrumental music.

Areas of topic would be: public relations, public speaking, communications management.

Question: What current causes do you feel the most?

Reply: Disability, social mobility, and youth volunteerism.

Drive – Individual

Question: What are you most motivated by? Why?

Reply: Happiness and making a difference in other people’s lives. Nothing to do with money.

I personally think that it is important to be happy always. Remember the good stuff, forget the bad ones. When you are happy, you feel good about yourself, in which it translates further into a positive motivational force. Thus, you would have a clear purposeful direction on where you want to head towards in life.

Once my basic needs are covered, I think it is for me to start looking into the needs of other people – making a meaningful difference in their lives. Help people as and when necessary. Extend a helping hand to someone. Every now and then, you and I need some form of help from someone else from time to time. Being kind requires no reason. Just help a fellow human being without expecting anything in return.

Question: If you could pick a mentor/or someone whom you would like to meet the most, living or dead, who would you pick? Why?

Reply: As I studied mass communications, I always hope to enter the media industry. If I have the opportunity to pick a mentor from any Singaporean personality, I would like to learn from Ms Diana Ser. She is a veteran presenter, and was a former broadcast journalist with 20 over years of experience in the media industry. It is her journalistic background that makes her the choice of emcee at many high-profile corporate events today.

Like her, I am also effectively bilingual in English and Mandarin but I would like to learn from her the finer skills of presentation at executive level. I think she is a very competent public speaker aka presenter, and could think fast on her feet. I am still honing my skills of being an effective communicator, despite being hearing-impaired. Does anyone know her? 😀

Perhaps for a start, I can apply to join a Toastmasters Club. 🙂

Question: Steve Jobs: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” How would you respond to this quote?

Reply: Everyone perceives time in different ways. To me, it is about having full control of the available time I have on my hand. But first, there must have a purpose in whatever I do. Next, with the time amount I have, I strive to place priority on doing the important things first. Having said that, there must be a time for relaxation too. I will slow down at intervals to do things which I always wanted to do. This include spending time with my loved ones and close friends.

I tell myself, go do all the things I want to do while I am still young and healthy now.

Being older, I feel more at ease with myself. I start to tell myself to “be daring enough to stand out among the crowd” than to blend in with the mass.

Question: How do you define success?

Reply: Success is about getting across those trials and tribulations, to be able to become the kind of person whom you want to be in this lifetime. You only live once.

Question: What achievements are you most proud of making in your family/school/community?

Reply: Being chosen to represent Singapore in the Korea-ASEAN Youth Exchange Programme 2007 in Busan, South Korea. With another 4 young Singaporeans.

And being one of 37 awesome youths in the PA Youth Movement contingent for National Day Parade 2014 parade & ceremony segment. And was made “Singaporean of The Day” for 2 weeks.

Hearing-impairment does not deter me from such given opportunities.

Drive – Institutional

Question: In what decisions do you let your authority figures intervene in?

Reply: Thankfully, my parents do not impose their will on me. It is more of me taking the first move to seek advice from my teachers and elders on the impact of the choice I make, for example: my educational path.

My parents are more concerned about me being disciplined and mingling with any bad company. Haha.

Question: Do you feel encouraged/neutral/limited by any form of institution, in the pursuit of your goals?

Reply: I am blessed to have the freedom to pursue my interests. However given my humble family background, I do feel limited in terms of financial resources. That is where I have to work hard to go for what I want to get.

Dare – Individual

Question: Have you ever started or led something new in any area of your life?

Reply: Joining a newly established social enterprise which helps people with special needs. Yes I am now a partial social entrepreneur, in whatever way how you wish to see it.

This is something which I have not done before.

I want to gain a good understanding of social entrepreneurship, and given my current background and skills, to see how I can help my boss to stabilise the business and bring it to the next level in the next 2 to 5 years. I call it a challenge for myself.

Question: Do you volunteer? What motivates you to volunteer?

Reply: Yes, I do voluntary work since 2005. Outside work, I volunteer to learn and expand my skillsets such as effective communication, and events liaison. Through the community events which I volunteered for, I feel happy knowing that I have made someone happy today.

More importantly, in recent years, I learnt to appreciate and look at my problems in perspective, realising my problems faced may not be as worst as some others. I learn to deal with my own problems in a more positive manner.

It is about serving the needs of the people around me. I am happy to do it.

Final thought – Do you think our youths today lack drive and dare?

Reply: I may not be able to answer this question well, as I mingle more with young adults in their twenties these days.

My own personal observation is, they have the knowledge. They have the drive. Many of them are well-travelled too. I am just more concerned about them having an elitist outlook on the things around them, which includes the way how they interact with people especially those from the lower strata of our society.

On the issue of our youths lacking the drive and dare, I think it could be more prevalent among the schooling youths especially those in secondary schools today. Despite having the knowledge, some of them could be risk-averse, not willing to venture beyond their comfort zones.

I hope they can prove me wrong. 😉