Passions of Willie

Listen – Understand – Learn – Serve – Share – Lead

The Paradox of Strength.

Great writing …

Thriving Under Pressure

Some lessons happen over a lifetime. Others happen in an instant.

Either way, the paradox of strength is that develops though pain.

Each misfortune cultivates a renewed appreciation.

Each obstacle fosters a new level of perseverance.

Each sadness teaches a greater depth of compassion.

Each challenge harvests a new field of possibilities.

We all must fall down to stand up.

Again and again and again.


Related Post: I've never met a strong person with any easy past.

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The burning fire in one’s eyes needs to be re-ignited ….

” Familliarity ” will not be good for one’s soul nor to the people surrounding you ;  be it internal or external customers. The competitive winning instict and speed will be missing. An overdose of flexibility & tolerance will prevail. 

Discipline will be compromised.



A beautiful message received from a friend ………

Many years ago, after I got married I was sitting on a couch on a hot, humid day, sipping frozen juice during a visit to my father.

As I talked about adult life, marriage, responsibilities, and obligations, my father thoughtfully stirred the ice cubes in his glass and cast a clear, sober look at me.

“Never forget your friends,” he advised, “they will become more important as you get older.”

“Regardless of how much you love your family and the children you happen to have, you will always need friends.

Remember to go out with them occasionally, do activities with them, call them …”

“What strange advice!” I Thought. “I just entered the married world, I am an adult and surely my wife and the family that we will start will be everything I need to make sense of my life.”

Yet I obeyed him; Kept in touch with my friends and annually increased their number. Over the years, I became aware that my father knew what he was talking about.

In as much as time and nature carry out their designs and mysteries on a man, friends were the bulwarks of his life.

After 50 years of life, here is what I learned:

Time passes.

Life goes on.

The distance separates.

Children grow up.

Children cease to be children and become independent.

And to the parents it breaks the heart but the children are separated of the parents.

Jobs come and go.

Illusions, desires, attraction, ….weaken.

People do not do what they should do.

The heart breaks.

The parents die.

Colleagues forget the favors.

The races are over.

But, true friends are always there, no matter how long or how many miles they are.

A friend is never more distant than the reach of a need, barring you, intervening in your favor, waiting for you with open arms or blessing your life.

When we started this adventure called LIFE, we did not know of the incredible joys or sorrows that were ahead.

We did not know how much we would need from each other. Love your parents, take care of your children, but keep a group of good friends. Dialogue with them but do not impose your criteria.


Dedicated to all my Friends.

Let’s continue to be n touch …………..

Why Your Company Culture Should Match Your Brand

Read a great article by Denise Lee Yohn. Sharing the article below.


Ask people how to develop a good corporate culture, and most of them will immediately suggest offering generous employee benefits, like they do at Starbucks, or letting people dress casually, as Southwest Airlines does. Rarely do people point to encouraging employees to disagree with their managers, as Amazon does, or firing top performers, as Jack Welch did at GE.

But in fact, it’s having a distinct corporate culture — not a copycat of another firm’s culture — that allows these great organizations to produce phenomenal results. Each of these companies has aligned and integrated its culture and brand to create a powerful engine of competitive advantage and growth. Their leaders understand that a strong, differentiated company culture contributes to a strong, differentiated brand — and that an extraordinary brand can support and advance an extraordinary culture.

It doesn’t matter if your company culture is friendly or competitive, nurturing or analytical. If your culture and your brand are driven by the same purpose and values and if you weave them together into a single guiding force for your company, you will win the competitive battle for customers and employees, future-proof your business from failures and downturns, and produce an organization that operates with integrity and authenticity.

When you think and operate in unique ways internally, you can produce the unique identity and image you desire externally. You need to have employees who understand and embrace the distinct ways you create value for customers, the points that differentiate your brand from the competition, and the unique personality that your company uses to express itself — and your employees must be empowered to interpret and reinforce these themselves. You achieve this by cultivating a clear, strong, and distinctive brand-led culture.

If your culture and brand are mismatched, you can end up with happy, productive employees who produce the wrong results. For example, at a grocery store chain I worked with, employees were steeped in an operations culture that valued efficiency and productivity. As the industry moved toward an emphasis on customer service and merchandising, the company fell behind, because its employees were focused more on increasing inventory turns and sales per square foot. It had to confront the fact that its culture, though vibrant and vital, was holding it back from serving customers well and improving the brand image.

Without using your brand purpose and values to orient your culture efforts, you’re also likely to waste a lot of money. You may think you need to take extraordinary measures to attract and retain in-demand talent, like providing free lunches to employees, putting foosball tables and beer kegs in break rooms, and offering free gym memberships. As you try to one-up your competition in the war for talent, you’ll probably draw from a pool of perks and benefits that sound great but produce little more than a generic, fun work environment. And you may end up like social media software startup Buffer, which struggled to achieve profitability because its generous cultural practices, including offering vacation bonuses and wellness grants, ate away at cash flow instead of producing employees who were passionate about the brand offering and committed to developing on-brand innovations.

With a single, unifying drive behind both your culture and your brand, however, you reap the benefits of a focused and aligned workforce. No one needs to expend extra energy figuring out what to do or how to act in order to achieve what you want your company to stand for in the world. Your human resources aren’t trying to decipher what skills and behaviors will be needed in the future, or maintaining performance evaluation systems that are out of sync with your values. And your sales and marketing departments aren’t working at cross-purposes, each with its own view of what success looks like. Organizational silos are bridged and disjointed initiatives are minimized because everyone is singularly focused on the same priorities.

How can you tell if your culture and your brand aren’t interdependent and mutually reinforcing? A disconnect between your employee experiences and your customer experiences is a telltale sign. If you engage your employees differently from how you expect them to engage your customers, your organization is operating with two set of values.

I’m not just talking about the obvious problem of managers who treat their employees poorly. I recommend using the same principles to design and manage experiences for both employees and customers. If you want to consistently introduce new products and technologies to your customers, then cultivate a test-and-learn mentality among your employees and encourage them to experiment with the latest gadgets. If your brand is differentiated by the way your products and services look and feel, then infuse your employee experience with design and creativity. You can’t expect your employees to deliver benefits to customers that they don’t experience or embrace themselves.

Another indicator of a mismatch between your culture and your brand is the lack of understanding of and engagement with your brand among your people. Your employees should understand what makes your brand different and special from a customer perspective. They should clearly understand who the company’s target customers are, as well as their primary wants and needs. They should use your brand purpose and values as decision-making filters and they should understand how they contribute to a great customer experience — even if they don’t have direct customer contact. If your people think they don’t play a role in interpreting and reinforcing your brand and that brand building is your marketing department’s responsibility, then your culture lacks brand integrity.

To address these gaps and align and to integrate your brand and culture, start by clearly identifying and articulating your brand aspirations. Do you want your brand to be known for delivering superior performance and dependability? Or is your intent to challenge the existing way of doing things and position your brand as a disruptor? Or is your brand about making a positive social or environmental impact?

Once you know what type of brand you’re aiming for, you can identify the values that your organization should embrace. In the case of a performance brand, you should work on cultivating a culture of achievement, excellence, and consistency inside your organization, while a strong sense of purpose, commitment, and shared values is needed for a socially or environmentally responsible brand. When you have clarity on the values necessary to support your desired brand type, you can use it to inform and ignite other culture efforts, including organizational design, leadership development, policies and procedures, employee experience, etc.

How you operate on the inside should be inextricably linked with how you want to be perceived on the outside. Just as brands differ, there is no single right culture. Identify the distinct cultural elements that enable you to achieve your desired brand identity, and then deliberately cultivate them. When your brand and culture are aligned and integrated, you increase operational efficiency, accuracy, and quality; you improve your ability to compete for talent and customer loyalty with intangibles that can’t be copied; and you move your organization closer to its vision.

Denise Lee Yohn is a leading authority on building and positioning exceptional brands, and has 25 years of experience working with world-class brands including Sony and Frito-Lay.


Europe 18 June to 1 July 2017

lts been a while since I visited Europe. Even then, it was mostly for work and there was always a local host looking after us.

This time round, I took my family for a 12 day holiday to Amsterdam, Paris and Zurich. It was indeed a pleasant experience and we enjoyed it thoroughly. Of course there were moments of joy as well as moments of exasperation. Luckily, there was more joy overall.

As Alexis is only 10, it was great for her to see and also learn a few things on culture, behavior and mannerisms of people outside of Asia.

Firstly, on language. In France today, we are pleasantly pleased that the French we encountered in places we went spoke English. They understood us and were very helpful in giving us guidance. Though it will be nicer if they did it with a smile. Somehow they seemed moody and sullen.

The myth that the French spoke little English or ignored people who spoke English to them – does not seem to be true anymore. However, they do seem impatient and stern with an air of arrogance when giving answers (avoiding eye contact as well) : which I felt was rude.

We could see Pullman Hotel employs people from other countries to be at their front desk and breakfast area. Everyone was helpful and could cater to tourists from China, Korea and Latin countries, hence speaking in languages other than French whilst serving foreigners.

However, it was indeed contrasting when a low level receptionist was  helpful and polite but instead the captain of the hotel simply refused to answer us a simple question ; but insisted that we spoke to the concierge instead. And he (the captain) was not even busy.

I was making a joke to my wife  that perhaps this captain’s English was not so great and hence there is a defense machanism to divert me to someone else, instead of loosing face in case he did not understand me or could not answer me accurately. Or is he “looking down” on people who are not in “suit and tie” ?

The key point here is language. On our end, when we are in another country, it would be great if we spoke a little bit of their language. And on the French people’s end, it would be great too if they recognize the importance of English and other foreign languages today  ( I HOPE THEY DO), especially if they want to host the Olympics in the near future.

Now, on the other side of the coin, we happenned to be sitting beside a middle age American couple who thought that their American language was most superior in the world. They ordered coffee and made a scene comparing milk vs. cream and complained that their coffee was “burnt” and tasted awful, when infact I guessed they were just not being accustomed to the strong taste of black European coffee. Thats fine – if not for the fact that they complained that the waiter was bad and did not understand English. Hello,  you are in France, Mr. COWBOY who drinks only “light watery coffee” and light Budweiser !!

It would be like me (a Chinese) expecting the waiter to understand Mandarin and wanted tea to taste like Chinese Oolong tea and compalined that Mint Camomile did not taste good and was too diluted ???!!

Note – I am only too aware that not all Americans are like the ones I met here.

Again, the point would be on “language” ; and we should never assume that our language is the BEST in the world and that everyone else should understand it. Shame on us if we do.

Second observation  – cost cutting !! I was surprised that today KLM and AirFrance have adopted the Air Asia way (or was it vice versa).

Checking in and printing of boarding passes can only be done via an automated touch screen machine. Any checked in baggage will cost 35 € and the machine accepts credit cards too. In CDG Paris and Zurich, the luggage tag is even printed out from the machine and we have to tag our luggage ourselves. Then when we went to the check in counter, there was no person there. We had to scan our ticket ourselves as well as our baggage tag too and then push our luggage into the conveyor system. Wow !! Zero personnel needed for the whole check in process. Tickets are printed on cheap paper. No more ticket cards.

In Asia, Air Asia is regarded as a budget airline. Now KLM and AirFrance too ? Seems like everyone is cutting headcount and cost. It is indeed inevitable. 

Observation point – if one is not familliar with touch screen features, computer illiterate or uneducated,  one will have challenges with these machines. We saw many passengers fiddling with the machines – obviously confused and lost. Sadly, there were also very few AF personnel available to provide assistance. Language was again another barrier here ; as foreigners had challanges communicating with the AF personnel. 

Some autommated machines do not even accept foreign credit cards. (Not very ready on globslization, are you ?).

And with 35 € for 1 piece of check in luggage, everyone should travel light. Oh dear, we had 3 luggages to check in. Really … really ….nothing is for free anymore.

And it may be VERY WISE  to check in early to avoid “timing stress”. With the queue and the confusion, it took us 1 hour 15 minutes to finally reach our boarding gate. The normal discipline of checking in 2 hours earlier may not be enough (unless of course you already know all the steps and procedures).

I am happy though to note that we no longer need to pay a 1 € coin to get a trolley cart. Years ago, I felt this was so ridiculous. Not so much of the amount of the money –  but more of “how many foreigners would have a 1 € coins in their pocket ready on standby to get a trolley to bring our huge luggages ???”

Transportation in the city – we noted that it is so easy, comfortable, clean, inexpensive and efficient to travel by train. Every major cities are connected by rail and going from place to place was a breeze. Hence, it is important that one stays in hotel that is near the city central station. These stations are huge and had many lines, built years ago. Hello Indonesia, why oh why did we not learn this years ago ?

However, taxis are pretty expensive. In Paris and Amsterdam, some taxis have a fix rate of 50 to 55 € from the airport to any hotel in the city centre and vice versa. Of course, there’s always “thugs” who would prey on ignorant tourist and have their mileage meter switched on resulting to passengers having to pay 10 to 15 € extra. One thug even offered us a “traffic free route” for 85 € flat. Luckily, we refused.

On our last day, we were so lucky. Our taxi driver was polite, kind and honest. Told us directly when we boarded that the rate is fixed at 50 €,  googled for us for that the Garuda check-in gate was at row 31 and when we arrived at the airport, he automatically helped us to get 2 trolley-carts for our bagages. All done with a friendly smile. Wow. How can I not give him a good tip !! Europe is wishing us a pleasant flight home.

Well all in all, we learnt so many things in our days here.

Personally, I would have preferred to be served with more smiles, humility and patience. It would be nice if they were more open and receptive instead of being defensive. They should listen better and not assume the questions we had and thus giving us wrong answers. It would be wonderful if they showed more care and sincerity for our well being.

We are tourist. Of course we would like to feel warm, welcome, perhaps even pampered.

Well what do I know ? Maybe Asians are spoilt when it comes to demanding for good SERVICE. Errrr … customer is king ? No ? Oooops who taught me that ?

Communication is always a  2 way street and perhaps some Frenchmen is also blogging away now on how we Asians cannot communicate well, being too demanding or having too many questions (asking questions does not mean one is stupid, mind you).

But hey Europe is Europe. One country differs from the other and obviously, different nationalities differ in their own respective manners and behaviors. Some do welcome foreigners with a smile whilst perhaps others may feel impatient on having to put up with aliens “invading” their country and perhaps their ego challenged for having to serve Asians ? Well,  how delussional, arrogant and ignorant can one be ?

For today, I simply believe everyone is equal and Mutual Respect should be a culture for all human beings regardless of race, nationality, color or religion. The world would be a more beautiful place to live in then.

Good bye Europe. We enjoyed the scenery, the good food, the wine, the history, lakes, beautiful architecture, paintings, the clean drinking water from the tap, the friendly Swiss-German ; and we ceratinly would come back here again. The challeges we went thru were pale in comparison to all the other great things we encountered and saw.

To top it all, we met SUPERMAN in Zurich. Hello Clark Kent ….

Idul Fitri 

Wishing you and your family a warm & blessed Idul Fitri, showered with love, happiness, laughter and joy.

Minal Aidin Wal Faidzin

I am a patient guy, really.

I have been know to be impatient. If one were to ask my family, friends or colleague whether I am a patient guy, I believe all of them would say NO  in a jiffy.

I am impatient with bad services,  rude service providers, snail pace responses, some people’s lack of common sense and sometimes to people who do not see my simple point of view. Yeahhhh … I  know its not good, I admit.

Well, until as I was having my vacation in Paris recently with my family, I realized that living in Jakarta has taught me to be PATIENT in one area. The TRAFFIC.

I happpend to be in Paris on the 2 days (23-24 June) where they had a “demonstration carnival” in their push to bid as host for the 2024 Olympic Games. Roads were closed, sites were quardonned off and naturally traffic was in total chaos.

I rode in 2 taxis and they told me they have not experienced such “bad traffic” before. I could see them being frustrated, honking, driving precariously as they tried to not give way at all to whatever that is in front of them. Braking, accelerating, jerking. Geez it was really an unpleasant ride. Their body language showed annoyance. They seemed to be uttering words which I believe are some curse words in French.

Yes they were really VERY IMPATIENT. They told me that a normal 20 minute ride has now taken them 40 minutes and they are PISSED OFF.

I looked at my wife and smiled. Besides the jerking, we were completely at ease with a 40 minute ride. Ha ha …. we are from Jakarta, monsieur  !! Our normal car rides would be 1-2 hours on average.

I even guided the taxi driver using google maps and asking him to avoid all the “red stretch of roads”, with a smile and some humour. He was impressed at my cheerfulness and PATIENCE.

We arrived at our destination finally after a 20 minutes delay. We were calm but our driver was fuming mad, cursing the govt for not thinking of the public and he could not understand why or how an Olympic event can be organized in Paris. He dropped us off at 4 pm and he told us that he is going straight home and he will be home the next day too. 

” It is stupid to be out here” he said.

I turned to my wife and told her smugly  ” Dear, I am not so impatient after all, am I “

A picture paints a thousand words

Selling ….

Words, accompanied by visuals  – makes it more convincing. Shouldn’t one have a collection of visuals to share with one’s customers ?

Words like warmth …….. space …. rustic beauty …. random artistry, simplicity …. tonality variation, inviting ………. all articulated by the sales person precisely understood by the customer.

Dreams can be shared ………clearly.

True “LOVE” to sell

A true Passion to Sell 

Is like finding love and falling in love
You believe in it, you pursue it  

It’s non manupulative
There’s no deception, no coercion
It has to be of free will

You act, speak and smile with your heart
Your action match your words,  pure and sincere

You serve, you simply do your best to impress
You get the sale, you take care of your customer
You hope for a long term relationship

Is selling your passion ?
Are you selling right ?

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