22 March 2007

It's 2 Years Now...

I just realized that my blog is 3 years old. Time flies. All I can say is, somehow, this blog is solid. I did see some people change blog several times in less than a year, they change what they want to talk about, change the template, change the theme, in short, there's truly a lost of focus and the old enthusiasm has a vague motivation -money.

I just entered my second year living in a foreign land. From the little excitement I had in my first day, nothing much have changed. In fact, things are starting to breakdown. Traffic jam is getting worse, weather is becoming more interesting, buses are travelling slower than usual, and...the mobile TV! Oh yes, that one. It sometimes works, sometimes doesn't but most of the time doesn't. The bookstore that I used to hang out with still offers great books but it seems only journalists and other media people are reading them 'cause it looks like they are the only people that are really learning from it. In two years all I can say is this land has one really very strong asset: Governance. There isn't really much in here but that and the rest just depend on it.

Customer Service Standards are at best is pitifully a flatliner, I really don't know why, is it because of their accent that sometimes misunderstood as a bit confrontational? Ok, this is not a comparison of apple to oranges but actually a learning tip. When you do your groceries in one of the biggest supermarkets in the Philippines this is how the flow will go: 1.) You get in to store, grab a shopping cart(no $1 deposit required) 2.) Grab what you need to buy, ask questions to any store personnel and they will gladly assist you and if they don't know the answer, they will look for someone who knows instead of the typical "sorry lah, I only got 6 hours to work not a minute to waste" answer. 3.) And when you check out from the cashier with all your overflowing merchandise(because it's really dirt cheap you could almost buy everything inside a supermarket) a store clerk or assistant will gladly push your cart to the taxi stand or to the parking lot and help you load your stuff in to the trunk. That's three simple step to basic excellent service, why can't they do it here? That's just the basic, you have to be there to see the gold standard.

When my father used to work in the Middle East as an engineer(these are the real ones, not the software ones) during the 80's they are periodically introduced to different technologies that are happening in their respective fields. Really something breakthrough and really something new and when he finally came home, he set up his own engineering shop and applied what he has picked up from the Western oilers. But me, as a software "engineer" didn't learn anything new in my stint in a foreign land, I just used what I've learned before I came here and used for all it's worth, I never came in to any training to really learn something new and compelling (forget Fatwire, Hyperion, SAP, BEA and all this crap) I'm still using the stuff that I learned back home with nothing in return except a good currency but that is very vague. When I get back home, I will also setup my own "engineering" shop with nothing new to apply but only a lot of stupid things to unlearn.

It's 2 years now and it's really very short. The only consistent thing is change, I have changed my template so that my code samples will fit nicely. I still had my focus with no thanks to some few distractions. I am a programmer and that's the hat I wear most of the time and that is my favorite hat, I can not be a maintenance guy, I can not be a salesman. I don't sell stuff because my stuff sells by itself. Oh and that's another thing, I see a lot of software salespeople sells like a car or an insurance salesman, pushing themselves to the death march just to win an account. Back in the Philippines when I first worked on my own, I never did that. No hard selling, no bullshit. The pitch is simple, we'll just talk over coffee and I will tell them what I can do and what I will not do if they are fine with that then we're in business, if not, then have a nice day no need to chase time after time. Software is abstract but the business is simple specially if you really have something compelling, no need to do hard selling, no powerpoints, no long talks and a no bullshit time because you know people will need it. It's really difficult to ingrain these into some people's mind, a product that sells by itself, and they are missing a lot.

DON'T TREAT YOUR JOB AS IF IT IS YOUR VERY EXISTENCE! Our country is not a starving nation(because stroke is our number 1 killer now) and yet we have the luxury to relax, we have the luxury not to be afraid to our customers and give in to their stressful demands, we have the luxury to reject service to anyone. We don't really mind losing business to a difficult customer because they deserve a difficult provider.

It's 2 years, and nothing seemed to move significantly.

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