TBTM #32: I Don’t Have To Say What Can Be Surfed

I do get told quite often by my friends that they don’t really know what I do or that it’s kind of vague or mysterious.

Well that’s exactly how it should be, because I never tell anyone outside my inner circle what I really do when I go on assignment.

It’s already difficult enough for most people to understand the System Architect job description, which also happens to be a high security vocation because of the confidential nature of the work of designing and setting up Building Intelligence Systems, which also involves integrated security and surveillance systems.

So when it comes to work directly involving secure access and asset management, I obviously would talk even less about it. For that matter usually say nothing about the specifics of the jobs and assignments. Which usually becomes an issue for some people that can’t understand why I don’t talk about it.

Which is why when I chanced upon the Mozayix website (https://mozayix.com/security/) earlier today when researching new assignment offers, I immediately realised that this would take one huge ass monkey off my back.

The Mozayix does almost the same stuff and the site explains plainly enough what my old SBU, the “International” unit, did “in-house” for the energy company that I use to work for.

I can’t believe they put that much info on the site but I think it’s great. It’s more than we ever talk about off the clock, and to be honest a little uncomfortable to read, but the great thing is now I can continue to not say anything to explain what I did. So now, anytime anyone of my friends wants to know what those pages of my life were about, I can just tell them to go to the site and read about what I don’t talk about.

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TBTM #30: “Branding And Your Psychometric Profile”

What is your personal or professional branding?

Creating your brand identity. To find your place in the market and be known for something without being pegion- holed.

If there is one thing I can teach you in 5 minutes about branding. It is the most important lesson you will ever learn in Branding.

BE YOURSELF DELIBERATELY!

Sounds simple but it’s not easy. Most people never achieve the success the seek because the do not know who they are.

To “Be Yourself Deliberately” you must first understand:
1) Who you are
and
2) What you are doing with your life.

By “Who you are”, I am not just talking about your name and biodata. I am talking about your psychometric profile. Who you are as a desicion maker and participant of life in your natural state.

Who you are is influenced by the life you have lived and how you have responded to that life. And how your life experiences have influenced the Culture, Values and Principles and Attitudes that influences the way you live your life.

And “what you are doing” with your life is your decision. It is who you want to become as a person and a professional.

Being pigeon holed means that your brand identity limits what people think of you to less than what you can do. Don’t pigeon hole yourself.

However if you are awesome, you will have alot worth saying. The key is not to overwhelm your audience with your awesomenss. The secret is to CONTEXTUALISE!

Okay personal story time, because everyone has a story to tell.

How do I personally practice what I just preached to you in every day life and my career?

Firstly, to know who I am, I actively seek to learn about myself and not live in my own head. I invest in Psychometric Assessment tools like MBTI and C-VAT to give me a proper objective assessment of my personality and personal traits. To learn what I am naturally or programmatically inclined to and why I tend to function the way that I do, And how my belief system affects the decisions I make.

My MBTI profile is an ENTJ, the same profile as that of Bill Gates, Margeret Thatcher. The natural leader / CEO profile. The big picture visionary macro manager that has an organised eye for micro details. The ability to comfortably delegate comes naturally to this profile from a natural ability for knowing where everything fits and what roles they play, and what to prioritise and when.

MBTI indicates Intrinsic Traits. Traits that we are born with and do not usually change.

C-VAT indicates inclinations based on our Culture, Values, Principles and Attitudes.

My C-VAT profile shows that I have the following inclinations: low for hard work, high for planning and organisation, high finish work, high quality of work, low for time and high on loyalty, medium high affection and empathy, with a low on status.

What this says of me is that I try to minimise unnecessary work, work smart and plan things to save time, I am very flexible with deadlines and patient with people, so I push for the most important tasks to be completed first and allow non-critical tasks to the put aside until the relevant important tasks are completed. In short I am an effecient and effective multi-tasker.

In reality I work hard and because I am a smart worker, get more done in the same time that a person that focuses priority on the time pressure rather than the heirarchy of importance and quality of work.

I am in control of my work load, my work load does not control me. That is the desired trait that companies look for when hiring leaders for high pressure jobs with heavy responsibility in making executive decisions.

And because of my medium high affection and empathy levels, I am usually a more likeable leader because of my style of communication and focus on relationship building within my team, but I am also selective in how invlolved I am with different relationships. The latter is very important for professional life, knowing how to be a good colleague without being a nosy busybody.

A high loyalty score means that I am more inclined to be loyal and form long term bonds with those I have personal and professional relationships with.

My low status inclination means that I don’t usually care what other people think of me and rank and popularity are not important to me.

Knowing that about myself helps me understand why I usually find myself in the professional appointments I am given and why I am able to sustain my volunteerism long term without the need for recognition for my efforts.

Understanding my psychometric profile ultimately influences how I create my Personal Brand based on who I am.

Both profiles are consistent for the desired traits of top management and strategic networkers. And that is the basis of how I developed my brand as a professional and as a friend or family member.

And on understanding what you are doing with your life. You must know what the heck you are doing lah!

I am deliberate in everything I do. Every decision I make and action I take has a specific purpose to achieve an intended outcome and output that I want it to.

I do many things as a businessman, educator and philanthropist. I develop real estate, buy and sell energy companies and mines, design and build solar powered robot buildings, I do counselling for young people and families, I run a sports school as a social enterprise to keep youths on the path to being professionals not prisoners, I give lectures on social enterprise, corporate social responsibility, communications and behavioural science at universities whenever time permits.

How do I create a Brand that helps people think what they need to about me to appreciate me as the “go to guy” for them?

I do it by clearly identifying the relationships that I want to build with each specific party I am associating myself with for a specific function.

So my “Brand” is specific to the target audience.

To the kids at MClub’s Young Minds’ Club I am Abang Eman the Faci/Mentor that “keeps it real” and they can talk to about almost everything and get counselling about stuff that they don’t feel comfortable talking to their parents and teachers. To them I am just Abang Eman. This brand fits the purpose of the Mentor-Mentee Relationship.

To my Institutional Investors, my brand is that of the project development and due dilligence guy that they can send anywhere in the developing world to network and acquire primary intelligence and establish connections for resources and resolve potential conflict before it happens so deals can be made and projects realised.

As a System Architect, my brand is easier to develop because my specialisation is a niche. I design and implement Building Intelligence Systems for the Millitary and Green Technology Projects. There are only a few people in the world with that specialisation and the niche client base makes it easy to establish brand equity. The psychometric trait on high loyalty also means that I am naturally very patriotic and I am contrary to what some people might think extremely good at keeping secrets and upholding confidentiality, this was actually one of the reasons I passed the psychometric testing required to enter this line of work.

As a property developer, I specialise in commissions for high end residential real estate. For this my clients build the brand for me. To them engaging me as Principal to design and build their homes, is like getting Steve Jobs to customise their DIY home PC. Again it is niche by virtue of the target market. Because of the nature of the service, it is a premium service and exclusivity is the actual selling point. Every new client must be recommended by an existing client. I do not advertise this service because it cheapens the value proposition. Again the Brand is about quality and quantum value not quantity. For this part of my career, it’s actually a creative hobby for me and the clients know that it is a privillege to engage me. Apart from due dilligence to confirm that their funds are legal, I actually have to like them before I do business with them. It is a relationship business and every person has to become a friend before I take them on as a client.

I could go on to talk about my brand as a professional adventure racer, philanthropist and social entrepreneur but being highly empathetic I know that would piss off the people that are highly time sensitive and competitively status conscious.

By managing my brand according to the specific target audiences it is easier to be myself because of the clearly defined relationship I build with that audience.

Yes, obviously when people learn that I am doing several highly specialised careers simultaneously they always ask me how I do so much. And because I can use my psychometric profile to explain why I work smart and prioritise how I spend my time, it improves my brand.

Knowing that the common thread for all those career specialisations namely creative problem solving, planning and relationship management, both of which are all stronger natural inclinations for me, means I truly get to be myself all the time.

Rounding up, remember the core message, “Be Yourself!”

And to be yourself, you must know
1) Who you are,
and
2) What you are doing.

In closing, “Be Yourself Deliberately!”.

TBTM #25: “Tony Stark Represent!”

Actually Tony Stark (a.k.a. Iron Man) represents every bachelor that makes above 7 figures a year.

They have to be significantly more confident, intelligent and creative than ordinary folk to get to where they are.

They lead a double life having to balance their public persona identity and their highly confidential private life.

They might seem to be playboys that change girlfriends like they change their underwear, but really what they want is to find the best fit and they don’t waste any more time than necessary with anyone that they aren’t absolutely comfortable with.

They feel compelled to help society through philanthropy and direct service, though when they do the latter they would prefer to serve hands-on and anonymously where they feel their abilities are needed not necessarily where they are appreciated.

To be as successful as they are they must be extremely dedicated and committed to causes they believe in and also protective of their loved ones because in being in their position it is very hard to find people that they can actually trust.

They aren’t by any means easy to understand because of the complexity of their uncommon situation in life and society, that very few can comprehend unless they are in the same shoes. They maybe even seem difficult get along with if you have self esteem issues, because what is normal to them may not be normal for most of the other people, they could be talking about something that is typical for them but it could be taken as boasting by someone insecure with low self esteem or has a jealous nature. The threat of people with negative intentions and ulterior motives exists in every aspect of their lives. This is why they keep only a small circle of trusted close friends whom are emotionally secure and comfortable with who they are themselves and with whom they can be themselves with. They are of course fully aware of the reality that such friends are hard to find, which is why they treasure these relationships.

The reason why Tony Stark joined the Avengers is because he needs them and he knows they need him too, because he knows that they always have his back, and he knows very clearly his place and function in the team. He doesn’t need to play by the rules or follow instructions from the organisation, honestly because he really just doesn’t need the organisation, what he does is what he thinks and feels is best for the team and those they protect, he brings with him the independent and alternative voice to the team which only he can provide because the organisation knows that they need him more than he needs the organisation and that he can walk away anytime and continue doing what he does without the organisation’s support because he has the resources to take the entire team with him and support them if they feel that the organisation has lost sight of their true purpose. In that sense his moral compass is his biggest contribution to the team because he isn’t bound by obligation to an employer or a social or spiritual debt, he does what he feels is right all the time, sometimes the rest of the team sees his actions as suicidal but they know where his heart is and that he’s usually thought things through well ahead of anyone else so they trust him and he trusts that they will stop him from going too far with the self-sacrificial insanity before he gets to the point of self destruction.

In short the reason the Avengers work is because they keep each other sane, Tony keeps everyone from taking themselves too seriously and they keep him from doing anything too crazy.

When I was a kid I wanted to be Batman when I grew up, but then I grew up and realised that for what I wanted to do with my life, where I was headed and what I’ve done and what I’m doing that Tony Stark was a more realistic representation of what life is like for real life businessmen genius-playboy-philanthropists that do occasional overseas assignments for the government.

Navigating Facebook with your Keyboard

For keyboard navigation of FB, hold down “Alt” and type any of the Number keys, each one takes you directly to a different feature/section.  Listed below is where some commands will take you.

  1. Alt + 1 – News Feed
  2. Alt + 2 – Profile
  3. Alt + 3 – Friend Requests
  4. Alt + 4 – Messages
  5. Alt + 5 – Notifications
  6. Alt + 6 – My Account
  7. Alt + 7 – Privacy Settings
  8. Alt + 8 – FB Like page
  9. Alt + 9 – FB User Agreement
  10. Alt + 0 – Help

 

TBTM #12: “The Military Code Monkey”

Growing up in the ’80s and ’90s, I loved G.I. Joe, the animated series and movie, the comics, the action figures and the video games. One of the most comprehensive product franchises, there was a GI Joe everything, even tissues and plasters. All with a healthy dose of pro-USA, pro-military propaganda.

The marketing juggernaut that the G.I. Joe brand was, it was inevitable that they had an action figure character for damn near every military vocation appealing to boys in the 6 to 66 years age group demographic.

The usual combat vocations aside, they also had support vocations covered too. And among the cast of support vocation characcters is the Computer Specialist, “Mainframe”.

Thank God! I finally remembered that G.I. Joe has a Military Code Monkey that does a job somewhat resembling what I do for reservist.

Well that certainly makes my life a heck of a lot easier. Every time I get asked about what I do for reservist, I have to go through the process of explaining that I do IT systems, and by “do” I mean design the system architecture and integrate it with the operational environment hardware infrastructure. Which is a bitch to explain especially since “Technical Officer” is not a uniformed vocational class, very few people actually understand what the hell any of  what any part of my explanation actually means. Perhaps because the job is easier to do than to describe, it’s like brain surgery in that respect.

At least now when they ask I can ask them to go look up “Mainframe” of G.I. Joe on Wikipedia, and they’ll get the gist of what I do.

Though it’s actually quite coincidental how Mainframe’s character development in the comics, resembles my own path to getting arrowed with my current appointment.

Mainframe signed on at 17 and was originally trained for infantry, then went on to study at MIT on military scholarship, then worked in the private sector making some pretty impressive pocket change in Silicon Valley, before rejoining the military when his skills were required by the Marines and roped into the G.I. Joe team.

I on the other hand was offered a defence ministry scholarship which I turned down, and was drafted into the infantry but was given a non-combat job, before going on to study communications at RMIT and work in the private sector, where I was eventually hired as a consultant by a defence contractor for a military project and was subsequently arrowed back into uniformed service for reservist duties because some genius thought it was the more cost effective way to get my skills back on the payroll.

Though the catch is that I can be called back at any time there’s a technical issue to resolve or troubleshoot, but I can’t really complain, cos I get to report for duty in whatever civilian attire I’m in when I get recalled, and I’m free to go off duty after resolving the problems, which for code monkeys it means anything from 5 minutes to a couple of days, but for the most part it’s usually 2-4hours each time. And my CO gave me the freedom to clock those duty days as I pleased on my annual Hi/Low Key quota, come up with my own training programme for my team, so practically anything we do when we meet up that we can contextualise as IT or military related goes into our docket as official training days. So all in it’s actually a pretty decent trade-off, trading time (spent)  freedom for time (spending) freedom.

If you’re curious to find out more about G.I. Joe’s resident code monkey, check out the Wikipedia link below. Yo Joe!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mainframe_(G.I._Joe)

TBTM #11: “The System Architect VS Tech Movies”

Having just come out of watching ‘Tron: Legacy’ at the cinema, I can’t help but feel both slighted and validated at the same time.

To be honest it was actually not as bad as the ITidiot critics in the local tabloid said it was. The storyline was coherent and the graphics were what I’d expect to see in any Hollywood blockbuster worth paying $6 to watch on a Wednesday afternoon for.

It was good entertainment, didn’t have many gaps in the plot and an ending that had some closure leaving just enough room for sequels.

And that balance of “tech show-off-ery” and plot coherence is in itself amazing.

Being a professional code monkey, the beef I have with tech movies is that they have a tendency to go too far either way leaving the end product lopsided. With all flash and no plot, or too much plot and no flash. Watch the James Bond franchise end to end end you will see what I mean.

Personally, Tron has always been one of my favourite tech movies. The first time I watched it as a kid, the fantasy of a digital world with intelligent codic life forms just blew me away.

Then as a grown up code monkey, a different sense of appreciation took root. The architecture, a system environment shaped by the user, ultimate dominion over a realm of existence.

My appreciation for the different aspects of the movie elements reflected my own growth as a code monkey, starting out with little things like isolated program code like ‘tic-tac-toe’ on Q Basic, the kindergarten of coding. Moving on to integrated application design and finally to the macro “big picture-y” stuff in system architecture.

I’ve developed a self checking mechanism to manage my expectations of movies, the same way I audit intelligence systems, look for what actually matters most critically to the user experience, see how it all fits into the big picture and make damn well sure I catch it.

TBTM #10: The Truth About “The Bachelor’s Workstation”

For all the curious ladies out there wondering what a bachelor’s desk at home looks like, this one’s for you. A look into the home office of that cute project manager, adorable engineer,  nice accountant or interesting analyst that you’ve had your eye on at the corporate office and wondered about what kind of equipment he’s packing in private.

Most guy’s (that like girls) like to keep things simple, all we ask for in a functional workstation is a worktop with enough space for writing, design and sketch work, productivity tools, and some prime real estate for the telecoms equipment.

Especially so for the entrepreneur who needs to manage productivity, cost effectiveness of professional utility machines and absolute expenditure, in a sustainable manner. To achieve maximum utility from minimum workspace, functionality, utility and versatility are the key.

The picture below is a bachelor’s workstation @ the home office. Well yea, actually it’s my worktop at home, a converted solid wood dining table the family got from Ikea in 1994, we got a  new dining table when we moved, so I use this old one as my home office desk. It doubles as a buffet table when the extended family comes over during the festive seasons.

It’s about 1.2m by 0.8m, so it tucks in a corner well, so I can place it against a wall or by a window and it stays out of the way. The work top is big enough for my A1 and A0 size plans from work and it’s got enough room for me to do my sketching, design drawings and manual drafting, tools and all as well. The surface is solid wood so it can take quite a lot of abuse from my crafting and sculpting projects without complaint. And because it was made for original purpose as a dining table it is super easy to clean and maintain.

For functionality and versatility I just got a new Samsung SCX-4623F multifunction printer (MFP) this week, because it was on sale!!! The footprint is a plump 0.4m by 0.4m, but it saves space from previously having separate printer, scanner and fax machines, plus now I can do my photocopying at home for under 2cents a page. It’s a monochrome laser, all my primary needs for documentation are b/w so it makes more sense (keeping within my budget) to go for the more cost effective mono laser option (with higher machine cost) rather that the cheaper (machine cost) but less economical colour inkjets, and also  because all my colour work usually needs to be printed on A2 or A1 for use at work and it’s easier to get those done at the print shop.

Ok, so here’s what you came to see, what a bachelor’s home office workstation looks like. And at the bottom what you should expect to find in one.

The "Bachelor's Workstation @ The Home Office"

Productivity:

  • Laptop for word processing, presentations, accounting, project worksheets, email, internet,  design review and entertainment.
  • MFP for printing, copying, scanning and fax. Essentially all your basic office document transmission needs.

Telecoms:

  • Smartphone for mobile productivity. BB for the bosses and businessmen, iPhone’s for people that need idiot proof interface (sadly iPhones aren’t imbecile proof) and Android for people that don’t like to pay for stuff.
  • Usually a second mobile phone for mobile multitasking and backup in case the smartphone battery runs out. Also used when travelling to places where you’re likely to get mugged for being seen with a smartphone.
  • Wireless G Router/Gateway for broadband internet connection and wireless connectivity anywhere around the home.

Emergency:

  • Trusty old pen and paper for emergencies when you need to jot down quick notes, sudden flashes of genius, in case of blackout or laptop dying. Not to mention serving as virtually hack proof information storage for super secret info, like your next date’s contact info and appointment details.