productive Wed

Previously, I posted a short article on tools for facilitating virtual classroom. For asynchronous virtual classrooms, here are more tools to consider:

1. How to download videos – Sign up for premium account. Add ss to youtube. Be careful of copyright.

2. Record your screen on screencastomatic and edit on Camtasia. Another option is Kaltura. Why not record on Microsoft ppt? There may be storage problem as your file becomes too big.

3. Podcast

4. Create Infographic materials in bite-sized content via CANVA, Piktochart etc.

5. Twitter to keep up to date with current events. Twitter also has a polls function to survey your followers for views.

6. Blogs, Instagram, Pinterest for collaborative sharing.

7. Quizz like Kahoot, Socrative to test for learning and recall. Mentimeter, Google Forms to get feedback.

8. Digital Badges: Credly, Badgr, Accredible, Open Badges.Org Don’t you love recognition?

I’ve received feedback that many organisations and companies today have their own Organisation Learning Management System platform and these tools I’ve posted are useful for them as well.

If you’ve tried any of the above tools, pls share your comments with me below. Thank you. Stay safe. :-+

#Techtools #Virtual #Facilitation

1. Polling can be created on paid version of Zoom as well as MS Teams. Share results of polls to members. Example as an ice-breaker on generation diversity.

2. “Break out rooms” in Zoom for pair-n-share.

3. Whiteboard on Zoom for Affirmation to a group member, brainstorm or leaving feedback. Eg. Pose a question such as “Your favourite Leader”. “Annotate” function allows you to save the screen in a folder as a keepsake esp if its a “Affirmation” card.

4. Padlet is another tech whiteboard on its own. Used in the same way as above to write affirmations for someone or feedback. Create columns eg “I like” vs “I wish you could”. You can also load photos/images for sharing eg ice-breaker instead of bringing an item to class for “Show and Tell”, ask participanta to share their favourite item, or what they had for lunch.

5. MURAL – Post-its for brainstorming eg in case study. Alternatives are Miro and Google’s Jamboard.

6. Kahoot for simple exercises to test recall of information and understanding.

7. Menti-meter to survey the room eg years of experience. Sharing of expectations. Polling can be done. Brainstorm of ideas.

8. Classroom Screen for timers eg to track time taken for an activity or break

9. Wheel of names – for awkward moments where no participant wants to share. Round robin – cold calling.

10. Url shortener:

11. How to download videos – Sign up for premium account. Add ss to youtube.

#Techtools #Virtual #Facilitation

Do you have a friend at work? It matters to your happiness.

12 Tough Questions to ask yourself regarding Workplace Happiness

According to Gallup Organisation, 71% of American workers (as of 2012) are “disengaged” or “actively disengaged” from their work.  Surprisingly, Gen X are more disengaged than Baby Boomers (above 65 yrs old) and Gen Y (below 30 yrs old).  Those with college education and above are more disengaged than those with High School Diploma.  Perhaps not so surprising, considering that the Gen X and those with higher education qualifications may be caught in the middle management squeeze and unfulfilled dreams.

How do Singaporean workers fare?  According to a Bloomberg report, 2% of Singapore workforce is engaged, down from 6%. Global average is 11%.

Source: Gallup


Given the strong relationship between workers’ workplace engagement and the company’s positive business performance, employers should care that their workers are engaged.    What can employers do?  After 80,000 interviews with 400 managers,  Gallup narrows down 12 questions that all employees should ask:

Network upwards:

1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?

2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?

3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?

4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?

5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?

6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?

7. At work, do my opinions seem to count?

8. Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?


Source: Lunch atop a skyscraper in New York

Networking sideways: 

9. Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?

10. Do I have a best friend at work?

Looking inwards:

11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?

12. This last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?

From First, Break All the Rules, What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham & Curt Coffman, Simon & Schuster, 1999.

Ozawa: Self assertion is perfectly normal in Europe. Its the only way to survive. In Japan though, people think and think about things until they finally take action – or take no action at all. … I am not sure which mentality is better.

Murakami: Its true in just about any field in Japan. Maybe even in writer’s circles. People cant do anything until they’ve gauged the opinions of the other people present. They look around, they absorb the atmosphere and only then do they raise their hands and say something unobjectionable. That way there’s no progress where it matters, and the status quo is set in stone. #High Context#

Absolutely on Music, conversations with Seiji Ozawa by Haruki Murakami

I would like to take some time away from job search to pen some thoughts on preparing a Lasting Power of Attorney.

The Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)

The LPA is a legal document which allows a person who is at least 21 years of age (‘donor’), to voluntarily appoint one or more persons (‘donee(s)’) to make decisions and act on his behalf should he lose mental capacity one day. A donee can be appointed to act in the two broad areas of personal welfare and property & affairs matters.

Office of Public Guardians

Step 1: Decide who is your donee. Who do you trust to help you with your estate. Who is willing to help you. Get their consent and photocopy their NRIC (front and back).

Step 2: Print forms. Get Form 1 as a first step. Basic. Get your red notary sticker (small) from any stationery shop. Your donee must sign form, preferably in front of a witness. (My certificate issuer was my witness.)


Step 3. Getting a Certificate Issuer. The list is on the Office of Public Guardians website. This is a very informative website with a chatbot to answer all your questions. I did mine with Raffles Medical Group because they are reputable and convenient and there is a promotion, $53.50.

Step 4. Either donor or donee can be an applicant. I was applicant for my parents’ LPA and mine.

Step 5. Drop copy in this box at the Office of Public Guardian. 4th floor Enabling Village. ( Don”t need envelopes, just plastic sheets. Ask the very helpful staff at the counter. They even checked my forms and found out my mom’s form had no dates.)


Nearest MRT: Redhill. Have lunch at The Sapling or Soul Food while there.

Processing time is around 3-4 months. You will be informed by mail to pick up the form when ready. Keep in an accessible place in case you need it. You can reapply as many times as you see fit or need to change your donee.

Note: The process was very easy and straightforward. Bottleneck are the certificate issuers. Going to a chain like Raffles Medical Group, I went to Haborfront where the doctor Dr Lim was very helpful, patient and familiar.

Despite a very efficient process by the Office of Public Guardians, network played a part.

1) Who do you trust when your mental capacity is gone but you are still physically alive? To take care of you? To do the unrewarding work? If there is no one, you can appoint a trustee for a fee.

2) Finding a certificate issuer. Despite the online adverts, my google search did not come up with any meaningful find until a colleague at my Toastmasters Club pointed out the Raffles Medical Gp promotion. Only after I typed in keywords “Raffles Medical” and “LPA”, did the promotion come up. Limitations of algorithm. Real contacts still work better.

Like Ozawa I also get up at four in the morning and concentrate on my work, alone. In winter, its still pitch dark …

I spend five or six hours at my desk, sipping hot coffee and single mindedly tapping away at the keyboard. Ive been living like this for more than a quarter of a century. During those same hours of the day when Ozawa is concentrating on reading his scores, I am concentrating on my writing. ….

It often occurs to me that this life of mine would not exist if I lacked the ability to concentrate. Without concentration, it would not be my life. I suspect that Ozawa feels the same way.

“If you remember me, then I don’t care if everyone else forgets“.

Absolutely on Music, conversations with Seiji Ozawa by Haruki Murakami

Tales of the Malay World currently exhibiting at the NLB Bldg on 10th floor has provided me an insight into this world I am living but not submerged.


Last night I was at the curator’s tour and some learnings caught me by surprise. Singapore was not a sleepy fishing village when Raffles arrived. While not sophisticated as major world cities like Nanjing, it boasted a history from 14th Century.


Alexander the Great allegedly passed through. He was known as Zulkernain.



Raffles was inspired to pick up Malay on his boat trip from UK.

Raffles chose Singapore as a port because of the Malay book “Genealogy of Kings” <em>Sukalat al-Salatin that the Forbidden Hill housed remains of the 16th century Melaka Kings or Malay Annals Sejarah Melayu.

Raffles was a collector of many things, among them Malay manuscripts which allowed the British and Dutch better idea of the locals so as to conquer them.

Singapore was not a sleepy fishing village when the British came. The Malay annals led Raffles to Singapore.

Singapore was not founded in 1819 when Raffles came with the East India Company. Its role as a port was as early as 14th century. A significant port and settlement, known as Temasek, later renamed Singapura, existed on the island of Singapore in the 14th century. Vietnamese records indicate possible diplomatic relationship between Temasek and Vietnam in the 13th century, and Chinese documents describe settlements there in the 14th century.

It lapsed into insignificance for 200 hundred years when abandoned until the British came to establish a port without antagonizing the Dutch.

Location, location, location
Point to note that despite Singapore’s strategic location, it fell out of action for 200 yrs. The Dutch did not choose Singapore for their spice trade. The late Mover, the British chose 2nd best, Singapore. Strategic advantage is highly dependent on economic relevance. 1st Mover advantage is not necessarily winner takes all. (Unfortunately for Raffles, he died in debt.)

Importance of learning lingua franca of the day, which may not be English.

Diversity and global trade have been around for a long time.

People were more open to learning from one another. Rev Keasbury obtained the help of Muslim cleric Munshi Abdullah to translate the first Malay bible. He introduced Abdullah to the printing press to produce bibles. Initially the missionaries were in Singapore enroute to China. But as that stop was closed, their attention turned to Singapore.

While the Bible was translated into Malay, the audience could have been wider, as the varied trading community spoke Malay, the lingua franca, including the Chinese. Today’s Muslim and Christian community, it appeared to me, are more sharply alienated. It didnt seem that Abdullah converted to Christianity. Yet there was a meaningful working relationship between Keasbury and Abdullah.

Two stories about animals


Story in “Analect” records that one day, Confucius’ horse stable caught fire. Instead of asking about the horses, he asked if everyone was alright, anyone hurt. Although horses were precious asset, more valuable than the lives of his stable hands and servants, he demonstrated that he considered, human lives more important. (I am sure that Confucius was attached to his horses too.)

bǐng jí wèn niú

Another parallel story in Analects is about a cow. Premier BingJi asking about the cow.


One day while travelling through the villages to survey how his citizens were living, Bingji saw a few men fighting. Yet he did not intervene.

Later in his journeys he saw a sick cow and send his attendants to enquire about the condition of the cow.

Surprised, his attendants asked why he was more concerned about a cow than humans. Bingji explained that he did not interfere in the matter of the men fighting because that was the jurisdiction of the local authorities.

However, the sick cow may signal an unexpected weather change or epidemic that could affect the harvest and the livelihood of the peoples under his charge (China was predominantly an agriculture country in those days.)

When we lead and manage corporations and nations, do we value our employees more than the balance sheet?

Money is important and all nations and companies need to stay afloat and excel. Shareholder returns are important. Digitalisation of the economy is for the ease of lives. Not the enslavement of another human being.

Disruptive technology has worked in a large part to capture shareholder value but at the same time remove certainty of employment and other benefits to the owner of labor.

Will disruptive technology also disrupt the dignity of labor? And instead reduce the price of labor to the constant haggling we see in markets of third world nations? (We call that demand and supply to sound more posh.) Will it lead to the enslavement of one group of people with another group.

But in the deepest of hearts, do we sometimes forget that people are not tools for our purpose.

When we look at the balance sheet of a successful company, do we ask how they treat the workers of production ?

Upgrading of skills, salary. Do they disrupt without creating value for families and homes? Do we measure success from only the view point of shareholder returns?

As labour gets increasingly expensive, in the service industry in Japan, there are ways to involve the customer.


Self service ordering of food via vending machine.

Take your own water, cutlery and tray.

Some of the hotels have big bottles of toiletries but no disposable lotion. For that, you go to the communal baths, albeit designed beautifully and using good quality stuff.

Here in Pan de Pan bakery at Lake Akan, toast your bread, sort out your rubbish and return tray.


Plus eco friendly decor like this tree with wood shavings as leaves.



There is a free hot spring for your feet just outside the Bakery.

For work-life balance, the cafe is closed on Monday and Wednesday. Opened from 830am to 630pm.



I love the bitter caramel puff which cost 220 Yen and the pumkin danish 80 Yen. The delicious cakes are 380 Yen each. You can eat in or take out.



Self check in and out at the Richmond Hotel in Obihiro. (The male reception was very helpful and did it for me. But I later realised when I saw a Japanese guest work the machine. )

Japan is still a highly service oriented culture. The Cashier at the supermarket does not give out free plastic bags. Cost about 3 Yen each. But she will pack your items neatly into the basket as she scans their price code.


At a European MBA school I once worked in, we once received a complaint from an employer because his Asian intern was caught sleeping at her desk. Clarification from a French colleague who had worked in Vietnam revealed that this student was indeed napping during a lunch break, a common practice in Taiwan, Vietnam and China.

What used to raise eyebrows in AngloSaxon countries where working all night = high productivity is now gaining popularity amongst the coolest of firms such as Zappos, Facebook, Google and PWC.

The latest in HR practice is to provide power nap cells or rooms for employees to catch forty winks.

In “How to have a good day”, former McKinsey consultant Caroline Webb starts her book with a chapter on the Science Essentials. She quotes Havard professor of sleep medicine Charles Czeisler that skimping on sleep – sleeping only four hours a night a week induces an impairment equivalent to a blood alcohol of 0.1 percent. We would never say “This person is a great worker. He’s drunk all the time!” Yet we continue to celebrate people who sacrifice sleep.

Czeisler counts CEOs, star athletes and rock stars such as Mick Jagger among his sleep clients especially when they are criss-crossing across time zones during their tours. Now it makes perfect sense why Madonna in her recent Asian tour started her concert at 1030pm while her show in Singapore on the last leg was at a more sane 830pm. (Of course fans were not informed in advance and had to wait for her. This was not prima donna behavior but a realistic human reaction to perform at her peak.)

Webb quotes upsetting research by neuroscientists of brain scan of volunteers who hadn’t slept. They showed much activation in their amygdala -60 percent more than people who were well rested. The tired brain survival circuitry was more jittery and likely to launch into a fight or flight/ freeze defence in the face of challenge or uncertainty.

Another research, cited by Webb points to the positive side of sleeping. Stanford researcher found that when she got male basketball platers to sleep ten hours a night – both their mood and daytime energy improved as well as their hoop shooting performance by an average of 9 percent.

What should we do?
1. Does alcohol help me sleep?
Contrary to popular belief, while alcohol makes you drowsy, it leads to poor quality sleep. Previously known as taking a nightcap, alcohol is known to interfere with breathing and you end up more tired than before you fell asleep. (Todd Arnedt, PhD, clinical assistant professor at the Sleep and Chronophysiology Laboratory at the University of Michigan.)
This is due to the biphasic effects of alcohol which makes you drowsy but stimulates the blood stream and interferes with REM sleep.

2. Does watching television and surfing the net help calm me down before sleep?
While research suggests that helping the body calm down before sleep is critical. Reading a book, engaging in crossword puzzles helps prepare the mind to slow down. On the other hand, bright lights from television and Internet do not, leading to a shallow sleep as the brain is confused thinking that it has to get up.

3. What else can I do?
a. Set a sleep routine so that the body’s circadian rythumn can get into the habit.
b. Avoid bright lights
c. Practice deep breathing.
Forget counting sheep but instead count your breath. Close your eyes and breathe in counts of 4 and breathe out counts of 7. Notice your breath flow from your stomach to your nose for 10 sets.
d. Engage in moderate exercise which helps reduce cortisol produced by the body during a stressful work day. At the same time the body produces endorphins or happy hormones which relaxes the body.
e. Do not engage in any stimulating activity just before bedtime. Jot down some points but leave the heavy weight thinking for the morning.

4. What if I can’t sleep?
Webb suggests taking power naps of 20-30 mins during the day.

Do you think introverts need more sleep than extroverts?