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Archive for the ‘personal’ Category

8 things about Alex

Posted by Alex Drexel on November 25, 2008

1)      I studied in the UK as an undergraduate

2)      I’ve climbed a glacier

3)      I fished for piranha in the Amazon – a great eating fish; a white meat, light and flakey; be careful when taking the hook out!

4)     I like to watch C-SPAN

5)     I lived in Australia

6)     I’d rather watch paint dry than to sit through a Keanu Reeves movie  

7)     Up until the early part of high school, I thought Jimmy Hendrix was singing “Excuse me while I kiss this guy”

‘8)    I’ve been to a Star Trek convention. Just once. A long time ago. Not in costume.


This is NOT a picture of me!

Posted in personal | 1 Comment »

Great strategists rock my world

Posted by Meg Bear on November 13, 2008

thisway1 I’ve been thinking on this topic off and on for some time.  Trying to figure out how to write such a post and not seem as a complete butt kisser*.  I have since realized that I’m cool with kissing butt when it’s called for, so I took that constraint off and wrote the post anyway.

As luck would have it, I’m in a very fortunate situation having an awesome strategist to work with.  I seem to be very lucky in this regard, in that this is not the first time this has happened.  I consider a strong, smart strategist the most important thing to be successful in a development role.  Why?  Well quite simply, you can never build every cool idea you have.  Being able to find the right set of priorities separates the men from the boys (as it were).  

The single most important thing [for me], in a strategist is when they “call it“.  When they see around the corner where I cannot, and help convince me which way to go.  The bigger the idea, the more foresight the better.  Being able to get to market with something that is innovative is a huge rush for us nerds. 

I have mentioned before that I’m not really an innovator myself, I’m a problem solver.  Being pointed in the direction of the right problems is critical when this is your weakness. 

The question is, how do you find such a person?  That’s tricky since you have to be able to trust someone who knows things you don’t.  Looking into their past track record is useful but finding someone you respect is paramount. 

So here is to all the great strategists out there, you really do rock my world.  For the combination of a great development team and an insightful strategist is really unstoppable.


*My attempt to use non-offensive language has taken me to unchartered territory, as those of you who know me will attest.  That said, I’ve recently learned that my 3 year old can spell the word b-u-t-t (thanks to her sister) so it has re-entered my vocabulary this week, if only to say “we don’t need to talk like that“.

Posted in leadership, personal | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Golf, talent not required…

Posted by Sal Taharim on November 11, 2008

…it’s all about a lot of practice and a whole lot of luck!

Lucky golf ball.

Lucky golf ball.

Green fee…RM$120,

Cart rental…RM$60,

Golf clubs rental…RM$40,

Birdied twice at the Perak Royal Golf Club…priceless.

I do enjoy playing golf. It is a fun game. I pick up the game while I was living in the mid-west soon after college. I used to work for an IT consulting firm and the only way to leisurely mingle with the clients and co-workers was at the golf course.

Yeah, I spent a lot of hours at the driving range to practice my golf swing in order to hit the golf ball correctly. Some will say, “Sal, you are hitting a stationary ball, how hard could it be?” Well, the ball is only about 1.68 inches in diameter and the length of the longest golf club shaft is about 45 inches. That is quite a distance to hit a relatively small object.

Now how about a swing, from address position of the clubface square next to the ball, maintain a straight take away for the back swing while try to create a large arch, at the same time keep your arms straight and relax your shoulders, coil your upper body to gain and create power in speed, release the swing by maintaining the same line of the back swing, hopefully the clubface make contact with the ball on the down swing, and follow through the swing.

One does not need talent to play golf.  All he needs a lot of practices, patience and eager to learn the proper techniques in the sport.  I remember when I first started playing golf I hit the ground more than the ball. And sometimes missed the ball all together. Once I know or get used to the swing, I hit the ball more often but the clubface may not square upon contact with the ball and thus I get a hook or a slice. So instead of the ball going straight as I meant it to go towards the target, the ball went to the right or to the left, the hazards, sand traps, water etc. Yeah, I lost lots of golf balls!

My current handicap index as of November 2008 is 22.9 according to Northern California Golf Association.  I am improving my game each time I golf and looking forward to the challenges of the golf course and the elements during game day.  My goal is to break 90 in 2009.  With more practice at the driving range and a whole lot of luck, I believe I can achieve my goal.

Posted in personal | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

9 things about me

Posted by Jayavel Bharathi on October 23, 2008


  • My journey of life started in a temple town Chidambaram, the east-central part of the Tamil Nadustate of south-eastern India. Being born in a lower middle class family as a second Boy, I had in my childhood, swim against and enthusiasms.  I was fond of being in grounds rather inside the classroom resulting, to show off myself as an average student (really not) at class.   I hardly ever tried to get top ranks until my zoology teacher could bring me out myself in (it was then 10+2).  I am the first post-graduate and IT professional in my whole family tree.
  • I had to work hard to earn and study during my school and college days. By then I was known as newspaper boy and I also owned a business of lending library.  In my life journey, it’s also a wonderful time to pass by wherein I learned many things like punctuality, honesty, sincerity, hard working.
  • Until my graduation I never had an opportunity of knowing about computer. Later completed 2 years diploma in Software Engineering at APTECH with Distinction. It’s my Turning Point !. The marketing slogan of Aptech says “WE CHANGE LIVES”, it really changed my life. Realizing my strength, I decided my career path.
  • Regarding my family life, I am gifted with caring wife and two lovely sons. I always feel that I have blessed life, no matter how many things I don’t have. I dreamed for many things and achieved lot of them (Starting from owning a house, car, wanted to be centre head of APTECH, passionate about work for Oracle corp). This experience made me to believe that if you dream and work hard towards it, you will for sure get it.
  • I am a strong believer of super power – God whom I believe to be controller of everything. But at the same time I dont believe in any superstitious acts.  I am philosophical but not a philosopher. 
  • Believe me I dont have any childhood photos. I remember taken my first photo (that too passport size) at the age of 15 for appearing 10th class exams. There was an old belief in india that taking photos will reduce the life, not sure my parents believed in it.
  • I had a very good immune system in the past. After used with sophisticated life, I think I lost that resistance power built over 20+ years. No longer I can drink tap water/ eat roadside food, cycling under hot sun/rain. Same thing goes for fitness.
  • And about my eating habits, I am fond of sea foods and hate to eat vegetables. Being very choosy  I very slowly accept foods, good in taste or in fact I don’t do.  I can rather starve , instead of eating foods i don’t like.  I love fish, prawn, crab, chicken, lamb,  and hate pork, beef.
  • I did write lot of short stories but the publishers had accepted none. Also I tried many lucky draws but again none favoured me. My favourite number is 4, and unlucky number is 8.


Posted in personal | 5 Comments »

Get rid of performance reviews?!?

Posted by Justin Field on October 22, 2008

Dr Sam Culbert writes in the Wall Street Journal that performance reviews destroy morale, kill teamwork and hurt the bottom line.  I take pity on Dr Culbert’s manager, who must be tearing his or her hair out with Dr Culbert’s obvious distaste for the performance review process.  And I wonder what it is like to work at the UCLA Anderson School of Management.  Are they practising all the bad habits that Dr Culbert’s shares in his article?

If only Dr Culbert’s arguments made sense.  He is clearly trapped in a performance review timewarp.  His version of performance review is medieval, with the manager (who he consistently calls “the boss”) standing in judgement of the hapless employee, who meekly accepts the manager’s opinion.  There are however kernels of truth in Dr Culbert’s analysis, so let’s take a look at the modern (non-medieval) way of performance evaluation:

1.  We believe in the concept and vision of daily performance managementDr Culbert does make reference to this when he says the once-a-year judgement of performance is a poor vehicle for giving and receiving feedback.  And he’s 100% correct.  Our concept of daily performance management is that the manager and the employee have a continuous, ongoing dialogue regarding the employee’s performance and how it can be adjusted to make the employee successful and to make the organisation successful.  To enable daily performance management, we believe our applications shouldn’t limit the user to a once-per-year interaction.  The system should be open and flexible and it should facilitate more frequent interactions.

2.  We believe in a future-facing performance management environment.  Dr Culbert seems to hate having his manager look back at past events and indiscretions and pointing out how bad he was.  Poor sausage.  Instead, think about a system based on performance objectives or goals, where the manager and the employee discuss those goals upfront, and then they collaborate on achieving them.  Dr Culbert would think he’d died and gone to heaven!  In fact, it comes very close to Dr Culbert’s idea of “performance previews,” looking at collaborating to support future performance, rather than looking back at historical events.

3.  We believe in open lines of communication between the manager and the employee.  The thing that struck me reading Dr Culbert’s article was how often the problems he perceived could be dealt with by open communication.  Now, it is true that it takes effort for a manager to build trust that would facilitate this level of communication, and the employee has to play their part too, but that is not to say that it is impossible. 

4.  We believe in customised and relevant content in the performance evaluation.  One of Dr Culbert’s gripes is that “bosses apply the same rating scale to people with different functions” and that managers “don’t redo the checklist for every different activity.”  Well, of course, that would be silly and unhelpful.  So our applications provide the ability to define precisely the content and measurements for each job, so that the manager and the employee have specific and relevant attributes that define success for each role.  And over and above that, the manager and the employee can define specific and personal objectives that apply only to that employee.  By supplying a library of skills, competencies and accomplishments, and by defining highly specific job profiles, our applications will help managers and employees to understand what the baseline expectations are.

Dr Culbert’s right about improvement:  “[it] is each individual’s own responsibility.”  So let’s have a performance management system that helps the individual clearly identify the opportunities.  And he’s right about trust too:  there needs to be a high level of trust between manager and employee.  So let’s have a performance management system that supports building of trust, rather than tearing it down.

Posted in Career Development, competency, engagement, goals, leadership, performance, personal, profiles, succession planning, teams, top talent, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Is the Australian cricket team a lesson in poor talent management?

Posted by Justin Field on October 22, 2008

Well, the Australians have just lost the second test against India at Mohali, losing by 320 runs. I’ve been reading the coverage in print and online and it struck me that there were a few home truths in the Australian team’s performance and behaviour.

Monday’s disgraceful spat between Ricky Ponting and Brett Lee is a lesson in how not to manage poor or declining performance in your team. Brett clearly wanted to bowl and thought he could do it, although Ricky thought otherwise, and handed the ball to another bowler. There followed an argument and heated words.
Lesson for managers: Don’t discipline underperforming team members in public. It causes hurt and consternation all round. Remember to clearly explain your expectations for high performance and help (rather than insult) those that once had great performance but are now struggling.

Some commentators have been lamenting the retirements of Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Adam Gilchrist.  The reasoning goes that they were senior players who brought great skill and great cohesion to the team, and assisted Ricky in building team spirit and discipline.  But now, they are gone.  And the Australians are looking like a second rate team, with good, but not great, younger players joining the test team.  To me it seems quite short-sighted that the Australian cricket fraternity has not been grooming junior players to have the quality and the attitude that is required at international test level.
Lesson for managers:  Don’t think succession planning is someone’s else’s business.  It is your business and it is your business now.  With financial conditions changing on a daily basis, with the economy in turmoil and with talented employees always looking out for their next career move, you cannot afford to be caught dozing when your key talent retires or moves on to other opportunities.  So do what you need to do to identify your key talent, work out succession plans, and start talking to peers and executives about creating the right conditions to retain and grow your talent.

Posted in management, personal, teams | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

8 things about Ariel

Posted by Ariel Ceballos on October 10, 2008

A “gaucho” by Florencio Molina Campos

Here is my self introduction to TalentedApps and 8 things you may or may not know about me.

  1. First of all, I am a boy.  I know, my name makes you think of a mermaid, but it is a boy’s name where I come from.  It is supposed to be pronounced differently but I’ve given up on that.  I hope that if we’ve met before this is not something you did not know about me.
  2. So where do I come from? One could argue that from the southernmost country on the planet (although I didn’t see snow until I was 17).  A place you definitely want to visit at least once in your life.  The land of San Martin, Gardel, Peron, Borges and Maradona.  Although lately I find more people who can recognize the name of Manu Ginobili more than they can recognize any of these other names.  This place is Argentina.
  3. I wrote a short story when I was 8.  It was about chocolate and madness.  It was huge success among family members.  Unfortunately, it followed the same destiny as the Colossus of Rhodes and the Statue of Zeus at Olympia (although of slightly smaller artistic value).  
  4. I was passionate about insects and spiders as a child.  I used to say I’d be an entomologist when I grew up until I actually met one and realized the life this person lived.  At about 13 years of age I decided I would be better off focusing my energy on my other passion, which would later become my professional career (software).
  5. I migrated to the US in 2002.  This was mostly due to the economic crisis that hit Argentina on December 2001.  I was working then at Peoplesoft Argentina when our VP of development paid us a visit and said our team would be disbanded so we should better start looking for other opportunities.  I received an offer to transfer to Peoplesoft Inc and move to the US.  I had tremendous doubts about moving to another country, especially one on the other side of the planet.  The offer was coming from who would become one of the best managers I’ve had, a frequent blogger on this website who I will always be thankful to.  I finally decided to go with it so I married my lifelong girlfriend, jumped on a plane and started a new life.
  6. Moving to the US was challenging in pretty much every aspect.  From the obvious missing family and friends to having to learn how to do a large number of things again.  The hardest aspect was language (despite years of formal education in the English language).  Communication had always been one of my strongest skills (in Spanish of course) and all of a sudden I was crippled.  And consequently I kept quiet for a long time.  Despite positive reinforcement from my manager, it took me several years to partially overcome my self imposed limitation.  360 feedback helped me enormously.
  7. My life changed again when my first son was born in 2005.  I had heard  many times that children change your life.  Now I think it is more accurate to say that they actually take it away from you.  And still you can’t figure out how you could possibly have lived this long without them.  My second son arrived 16 months later.  Yes, our hands are quite full and my wife and I constantly remind each other about how very lucky we are.
  8. Among other things, I am a carnivore (why can there be vegetarians and vegans but not carnivores?), I use lots of sugar on my coffee (and I probably drink too much of it),  I have a serious spatial orientation disability (which conflicts with the fact that I am a pilot).  I love football (although I had to learn to call it soccer) and I am looking forward to South Africa 2010.  And here it is, a bit more than 8 things about me.

Posted in personal | 5 Comments »

When in Rome….

Posted by Vivian Wong on September 9, 2008

“Half of the world is composed of people who have something to say and can’t, and the other half who have nothing to say but keep on saying it.” – Robert Frost

Photo taken in Oman

Food Court @ Oman

Since we all live and work in an increasingly global environment, I thought I should share some the interesting “facts” I have learned over the years – hopefully you will either find them amusing or helpful in managing your culturally diverse workforce:


  • 4 is a bad luck number for the Chinese (same pronunciation as death) – so you may want to think twice about giving your employee a pay raise of $4444.
  • 13 is a bad luck number for the Western culture but it is actually a good luck number for the Chinese.
  • 8 is a bad luck number for the Hindus – but it is a good luck number for the Chinese.
  • 9 is a good luck number for the Hindus.


  • It is considered disrespectful and rude if you enter an Asian household (including Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Hindus etc) with your shoes on. You should always at least pretend to leave your shoes at the door and only put them back on if the hosts are wearing shoes inside their house and insist that you put them back on. The same with “entering” someone else’s house – don’t go into the house unless they invite you to.
  • In Asia, it’s disrespectful to disagree with your boss – especially in public. Subordinates are typically fearful of management. This is one of the many reasons why it can be very difficult to get your asia-born team members to speak up or share THEIR ideas especially in a group setting. They are either afraid of you or they are afraid of being “wrong” or “look stupid”. (“Face” i.e. looking good is very important.) I remember as a kid, I was taught to “Listen before your speak” and I was also warned to “speak carefully and accurately”. Another tip – no matter how much your employees may dislike you or your ideas, they may never tell that to your face; instead they may simply smile at you – out of courtesy. (The secret to having them open up to you is to earn their trust.)
  • Elders in Asian countries are highly respected. If they are significantly older than you, you should address them as grandma or grandpa (even if you are not related to them) or address them as uncle and auntie if they are about your parents age.
  • In Australia, it’s fine to make fun of our prime minister; while in the US and the rest of the world, it’s fine to laugh at endless Bush jokes. Laugh at a Chinese official and you could be behind bars before you even know it. (As a kid in China, we were taught to dob in anyone (including our own parents) should they make disrespectful gestures or comments (accidentally or not) about officials. My father once accidentally used Chinese newspaper to wrap a cabbage and later discovered  there was a photo of Chairman Mao on the other side of the paper – he broke out in cold sweat even though no one else was around.)
  • At the risk of stating the obvious, job titles are extremely important in the Asian culture. If you HAVE to choose between a pay raise and a promotion, promotion may be more impactful than pay raises if you are working with Asians in their native countries. (Of course in the Western culture, money sometimes speaks louder than job titles.) 
  • Middle Eastern people consider it an insult to show the soles of your feet while seated facing your host – so do not place your feet on a chair or cross your legs in such a way that you are showing the bottom of your feet!


  • A Hindu father should touch his newborn baby with gold – because gold is the noblest of all metals. (I wonder what the locals in Hyderabad thought of me when I visited my team there 6 months ago since I don’t wear much gold.)
  • In China, it’s regarded poor etiquette to pile up your own plate or bowl with lots of food at the beginning of a meal (when dining with a Chinese family or your colleagues) – they may not say anything but they may think you are being rude and selfish. It’s OK if THEY pile it on your plate (out of courtesy) but you should refrain from grabbing more than your next few bites.
  • Don’t buy white flowers for your Chinese date or her family – unless they are dead. (In China, white flowers are primarily used for paying respect to those who have passed away.)

Language barriers:

  • Same word may have different meanings for different English speaking countries. I learned this the hard way 9 years ago. I was asked to visit one of our clients in New Jersey and when I asked about the dress code, my VP said “smart business attire”. I jokingly said: “No thongs then?” With a big smirk on his face, he said:’You could. The client would be very happy if you do.” (OK – so I grew up in Australia, and when we say “thongs”, we mean “sandals” or “flip flops”. It is not a little piece of sexy under garment.)
  • In Australia, if someone says:
  1. “like a pickpocket at a nudist camp” – it means they are out of place.
  2. “they are in the cactus”, it means they are in trouble. (Quite a visual)
  3. “couldn’t last a round in a revolving door” – it means someone is incompetent.
  4. “they are happy as a boxing kangaroo in a fog” – it means they are depressed.
  5. “flat-out like lizard drinking” – it means they are too busy and “buggered”.
  6. if someone calls you or your employee a “singsong”, “Wally”, “dingbat”, “dingdong” – they are calling you “an idiot”. (Pick your battle!)
  7. “tired and emotional” – it means they are drunk
  8. “like a possum up a gum tree” – it means they are supremely happy. (Hopefully that’s how your employees describe their job satisfaction!)

Posted in engagement, hr, leadership, management, personal, teams | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

8 Things about Vivian

Posted by Vivian Wong on August 26, 2008

Since this is my first blog on this site, I figured I should introduce myself to the world ;-).

1. I am the classic product of Cultural Revolution in China.  I was the only one in the family that was born in the Black Dragon River province – Northeast of China. My parents were relocated there by the “communist party” after graduating from Beijing university.  Black Dragon River was colder than cold (minus 25 degrees Celsius in winter). The first sentence I learned at school  was “Long Live Chairman Mao!”. The second sentence I learned was “Long Live Communist Party!”.

2. My great grandfather migrated from Canton (now known as Guang Zhou) to Australia during the gold rush in the late 1800s. My great grand aunt migrated to San Francisco in the early 1900s. She recently passed away in Oakland although I never got to know her.

3. I grew up in Australia. We moved to Sydney in the early 80s and I didn’t get to go to school for the first couple of years due to our immigration status. My sister taught me maths and physics at home.  She was born an over-achiever – she always came first in her class and set the bar high for me (which I didn’t appreciate during my younger years).  She even started cooking for the family when she was 8 y.o. and I still can’t cook to save my life. (I do make a decent Thai Fried Rice though – I got its recipe from a book called “Hardly in the kitchen“. My friend Anthony suggested I should write a book and title it “Never in the kitchen”.)

4. Learning English as a second language was difficult for me. When I was in high school, I was petrified if the teacher asks me a question and the answer had a “three” in there. I also struggled with words such as “soup” vs “soap”, “walk” vs “work”. “sheet” vs “shit”. You can imagine how much fun other people had when I told them “I love drinking soap” or how “that  bedshit looks pretty” and how I enjoy “work to work” or that “I am going to the bitch”.   One of the more embarrassing moments in my life was when I went to Top Ryde public library and asked the librarian where I could find “pussy-chology” books and she looked both confused and horrified at the same time. I spelled out “psychology” on paper for her and she kindly corrected my pronunciation. I was so embarrassed that I ran out of the library and hyperventilated.

5. I always wanted to be a police-woman but was told I didn’t “meet the height requirement” when I graduated from high school.  I am 5 foot 6 and half (with 4 inch heels). I was elected the “hygiene police” in second grade (in China). My job was to examine my classmate’s nails, elbows and ears. (If they were dirty and unkept, I’d send them home.)

6.  My very first presentation at school was about Madame Mao Jiang Qing and how wonderful she was. On the day of the presentation, she was arrested together with the rest of the “gang of four“.  All of a sudden it was not cool to talk about Madame Mao.  This was the political climate in China during my childhood.

7. I love food (and people and animals too!). I am a snack queen.  You can’t take me anywhere without finding food in my handbag, backpack or pockets.  And yes, I pack treats for both my dog and I even if we go for a 10 mins joy ride in my car.

8. I’ve lived in America for over a decade and love it here – I actually supported Team USA for the 2008 Olympics. I love to travel and experience the world. My biggest complaint about living in the US is that we don’t get enough vacation days. Justin just reminded me yesterday how he gets 4 weeks of vacation in Australia every year. Perhaps I will move back to Sydney sometime in the future so I can also celebrate Queen’s birthday and Boxing Day with the rest of the Australians.

Posted in personal, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Did I get it right?

Posted by Meg Bear on August 20, 2008

I always take these tests thinking that there is a *right* answer, which I know there isn’t.  But this one did nail me I think.  How about you?

You perceive the world with particular attention to humanity. You focus on what’s in front of you (the foreground) and how that is affected by the details of life. You are also particularly drawn towards the shapes around you. Because of the value you place on humanity, you tend to seek out other people and get energized by being around others. You like to deal directly with whatever comes your way without dealing with speculating possibilities or outcomes you can’t control. You are highly focused on specific goals or tasks and find meaning in life by pursuing those goals. You prefer a structured environment within which to live and you like things to be predictable.

Hat tip to Charlotte’s Web for the link.

Take your own: The Perception Personality Test at Hello Quizzy 

Posted in goals, personal, social network, teams | 7 Comments »