Four Decades of Reinvention

Serenading Reflection

‘Understanding others is knowledge, Understanding oneself is enlightenment; Conquering others is power, Conquering oneself is strength’ -Lao-tze, legendary philosopher.

Without self-reflection (muhasabah), it’s a strenuous effort for us to thrive.

How do we get by? Maturity is one of the biggest challenges in shaping who we are as a person, followed by good mental health. Without the sense of alertness, concious and maturity, we are open to an emotional and mental breakdown. According to Ministry of Health in 2018, there are 4.2mil Malaysians living with mental disorder. Just December last year, Ministry of Health launched Mental Health Guidebook (which is available free at with very good info-graphic to aid the knoweldge with comprehensive information.

It’s about meeting the unexpected obstacle and the readiness to adapt. I am in utmost privileged to be surrounded by kind and wise souls to shower me with sanity, forward-thinking, patience, and whilst keeping myself imperfect so I can continue to stay grounded and agile.

We often lost our way or skidded from our path and true goal. Often we get distracted by the most unwanted desire that assassinates our goals and focus. We often feel dissapointed because we kept comparing with others instead of being grateful how our encouragement and perseverence have eventually shape us, reinvent and empower in many ways instead of finding so many excuse not to modify our obnoxious behaviors.

How do you define success?

We often look at the wrong direction. It makes us dwell in the status quo. It’s always been stereotype with materialistic achievement. Success is unported. But most importantly, you must master your vision. You can create success from small to a massive outcome. It does not neccessarily be in a form of an award nor a title. Avoid from being desprate for entitlement simply to seek exclusivity and superiority to shun others. Don’t be obsessed about dream jobs and popularity. Stop being extremely ambitious because it will crush your humility. Remember, patience is a virtue. Look for that small satisfaction with high impact and great output. It takes stairs to reach success, never take shortcut as you may never sure if the lift if working or malfunction.

So when someone ask? “How do I pull it of?”

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Profound things happen in the past year of journey as an artist and designer. At the age of 40, I am able to look back with satisfaction that I have actually made it. I stick to my true self of becoming a designer. I always reinvent myself.

Self-awareness. Our consciousness. Our mastery in willpower. Understanding the balance and the fundemantals of what we desire to achieve in a long run. It’s always about outcome and impact.

Being proactive instead of reactive. I am just like anyone else who gets fed up of people telling me what’s best for them through me instead of me identifying, learning and knowing how I could gravitate and maximize my true potential without depending too much on others. This is my know-how. I pay attention instead of ‘nodding’. At times you have to be meticulous. It’s also about readiness to make things happen.

I am an agent of change. I have a responsibility not just to myself but everyone around me. As someone who constantly inspire most young and old generation of designers and artists, I should be able to empower change. We should embrace change. Change of mindset. I’m bored at routine works.

Self-care. Because no one will be able to keep on holding on your shoulder for that extra push. Stop getting spoon-fed. Stop relying on others.Be independent. You need to find the deepest value of worthiness and being coherent. Honour your vulnerability and imperfection. Bring out the best in you. Self-care is self-love. How can you expect people to care and love you, if you don’t even care and love yourself?

Faith. Believe in the higher power. When you’re at your lowest point of life, no matter how screwed you are, find back to our Source of Faith. I believe in small steps takes us to great destination. Focus on the growth and rewards will come in gradually even in silver-lining. Having faith helps to motivate our energy and spirituality.

Agility. To withstand negativity and intoxicating surroundings. To decent those unnecessary voices that distrupt our very focus in reaching our goals and direction. Remember, the more you hold on to negativity, the more you invite desolation. Focus on abundence instead of challenges. Be a champion instead of having a defeatist attitude.

Integrity. Something we need to ponder upon, and understand about our principle and honesty at work, not to be corrupted and defaming others. The totality of being whole while having good ethics and principe. Don’t abuse integrity by carrying viciousity to overthrown and overrule others by threat. I witness extreme fault-finders who not only created destruction towards others but destroy people’s well-being for the sake of saddistic pleasure. Breaking integrity will lead to kleptocracy. It gets worst.

Facing anxiety and fear. Fear is a territory where no one wants to anticipate. Fear of stigma. Fear of asking or discovering of knowledge. Don’t be embarrassed to reach out to others alike and non-alike. You may ask questions but don’t choose to be ignorant whilst refusing to accept answers and facts. I recall the time I met fear of failure. Then I learned you can accept failure but never to idolize failure. Understanding of our hardship shapes us to be stronger and wiser. Face your fear of failure will enlighten your depression. Always seek advices and make the best out of it instead of self-destruct. Based on a research survey conducted by Malaysian Psychiatric Association (MPA) in 2019. 67% or over two-thirds of youth were embarrassed to seek help.

Humanising communication. At this juncture, social media networking and WhatsApp has been one of most unstable form of communication where interpretation have been often being abused and misunderstood resulting more speculative than clarity. It invites unhealthy discussions and worst, throwing tantrum towards one another. Technology can be very futile if it’s being abuse. The lack of empathy and being extremely objective assasinated compassion of a person. Above all, disrespecting personal space is deem unnecessary.

Openness. Don’t sell ourselves short. Always be open. It’s the mindset. Read more, listen more and open to collaborations. Being open welcomes diversity.

Above Influences: Role models

Phil Cleaver, Joshua Davis, Michael Paul Young, William Harrald Wong, Kamil Yunus, Asri Ahmad, Oon Soon, Hashim Hassan, Yaman Ahmad Mus. These are some of the creative power-household names who are above my age, legends of our times especially in the creative industry. Their leadership, passion and mastery in the things they do makes me value my worthiness. That’s why legend moves in silence because they let their works speaks volumes. They inspire more to do more, to become competent and reach out to others who are in need of motivation. They continue to shower with great wisdom. I am here because of them, and I am here because of you. We compliment and treasure each other.

Participatory: Inclusivity, not isolation

Never work in silo. Avoid saperation, instead heal and engage as much as possible. Being inclusive creates equality and harmonize participation among your peers and associates.

Measure the trend of your progression through good analysis. Chart and keep track of your milestone and forcast your future to empower stability and longetivity.

So what’s next? Being financially stable. It means that those past mistakes and poor financial management will be more better when you avoid repeating debts because it’s something you are able to manage. A part from our life goals are also to eradicate our debts so we could live better, prosperously. Imagine your CCRIS record show such a healthy result.

Increase of work performance and productivity. I always believe that anyone is replacable no matter how special or exclusive you may think. When we partner with resillent, we will be able to recover, heal and be more prepared in adapt new things. Don’t pamper yourselves with petty things, enforce yourselves with innovation. Be industrious.

Pay attention to growth instead of self-destruction. Be with people who really want to change their perspective in life and to embrace positivity. Take constant care of yourself. Watch what you eat and occassionally work out to have a vital, healthy life.

It may not be picture perfect to achieve such life, but when you put your best effort, your sweat and tears to get to where you are, you will have a good reflections and see your hardship as a pillar to your strengh. Don’t give up and if you must, stand up.

Creative Process: A Necessity

As an avid creative practitioner, we must put confidence in the creative process to complement our craftsmanship to its finest. It is as a necessity in order to have prudent design management in how we plan, navigate and deliver with minor fault and risk.

We forget that due to certain stigma, as a creative person, we are often challenged by those who are not familiar with how we do things creatively. Some begin to hesitate our creative intelligence as obscured, unstructured and cheap. In the end, especially who are employed in a corporation or larger institution would assume we only do operational work which is considered inefficient and position as factory labor without strategic insights-which I absolutely differ.

What I’ve learned from Scott Belsky’sThe Messy Middle‘, among the highlights which attract me the most is the relative joy of creating. This diagram brings the value of the creative process which often challenges by the intervention and it could be healthy or counter-productive. Somehow a strong lesson learned is how deeply we appreciate our effort in creating and rejoice its journey.

When we value our time and creativity with processes that would benefit us in a long-term, it makes our end product more worthy and academically honest. We are building memories so we could relive it.

When we are too spontaneous as a designer, we invite risks especially in the context of intellectual property and transparency of authenticity. Often times, creative people seek inspiration from works available on the virtual platform or their surroundings and it can be intimidating to replicate an idea.

I met some highly opinionated individuals who often dishonor the creative process yet has no absolute ingenious outcome in position their craftsmanship at a pleasing value worth profiting in the long run. Some believe that process only intervene their creativity yet when client audit their manhours, some unable to justify at a very accommodating manner.

A limited survey is conducted to see how far the creative process is essential.

“Creative outputs in my mind have always been about collaboration and continuity. Even if the original idea comes from a single individual, it’s the subsequent value adds that come from collaboration and continuity that bring it full circle from ideation to asset.”

– Kamil Othman, Vice President, Asian Film Commissioners Network

So again, shall we inspire others with our unbidden execution that resulted to dissatisfaction or shall we demonstrate creativity with the intelligence so we will be a position with respect?

Unemployment: Where Do We Go From Here?

With over 500,000 people in this country are unemployed, fresh graduates unquestionably left with no luxurious option to choose for their dream job. The statistic clearly a sign of reflection and a call for action, especially to those who are unemployed to shift their strategies – to be resilient and ready to stand out to compete among the best out there.

Although academic qualification is the mandatory requirement to access job interviews, this does not give any assurance nor guarantee to any unemployed candidates. Employers are vigorously looking for those with passion, having job experiences and those extra miles curricular activities that display diversity to ensure employers hire the best talent.

Unemployment Rate (Second Quarter of 2017)

Unemployment Rate (2nd Quarter 2017 ) �

At this moment of the year, Malaysia is at 3.4% of the unemployment rate. Other countries like Greece reached 21.7%, Spain still sits higher at 18.7%% meanwhile both of our neighbour countries like the Philippines with 5.7% and Indonesia with 5.3%.

According to, there are at least 3,052 fresh grads jobs in Malaysia whilst 25,295 jobs available via Jobstreet as of 1 July 2017.

So, how do we ‘topple’ 3.4% to a much lower rate? With our economy is recovering at most agile phase, more doors of opportunities open for us. Jobless candidates need to be on high alert to consider these opportunities. They need to be responsive. 

Challenges in Finding A Job

A small poll had been conducted recently to see public respond in unemployment issue via Twitter:

This has particularly gathered some useful data to understand the challenges and what we can do to strategize and improve our method to applying for a job.

Room for Improvement: 10 Tips to Enhance Your Job Opportunities

Here are the tips for your consideration. It can be a short term solution and it can be a long term. Here we go!

#1. Job experience matter. That is why you need to take an internship or part-time job to gather as many experiences so you can adapt the working culture in your respective industry. You don’t have to decline a job simply because of low salary. Few even apply for an unpaid internship because they wanted to learn and gain experience to improve their skills including those who join a non-profit organization as volunteers. Don’t be embarrassed to get a part time job. Everyone else done it before.





#2. Your CV/resume. CV needs to be comprehensive and clear. Most of the candidates tend to make a mistake by cheating their CV with inaccurate information and way too much information. Remember, employers always investigate and cross-check your background and past companies you worked or done an internship before. Disturbingly, some candidates self-evaluated their own skills and provide their own ratings. It’s time to make your CV clear and simple yet impactful and factual. It’s best to have a LinkedIn account to enable your acquaintances and colleagues to rate your skills fairly. This way, you can get the actual data and numbers to support your CV.

Stop ‘decorating’ your CV with a complicated design layout. You’re not Elle Woods or neither Chewbacca. CV is not a product brochure. Employers do not have the time to browse more than 6-7 second. Less ‘cosmetics’ and narrate your CV with a good flow of information. Avoid redundant information and keep it as comprehensive as possible. CV needs to be printer-friendly, so don’t waste ink and paper with heavy graphics. If you feel that your CV is good to go, it’s time to register and deposit your CV to your future employers.

#3. Skills. You have to earn these skills by learning through practice and courses, even classes! Don’t give financial difficulty and time in obtaining a knowledge. Some of us have extra self-conscious to gain more knowledge through learning. There’s a big gap in applying for jobs and one of the biggest problems is the language barrier. Candidates don’t meet one of the most important requirement because they can’t read, write and speak English. There’s literally hundreds of online course offer by OpenCulture, FutureLearn, edX, Class Central, AdobeTV and much more.

#4. Communication. In some candidate, their CV stated the level of their language as ‘fluent’ or ‘excellent’ however it does not reflect how the candidate would communicate with others in person. Too many times in internship or job interviews, the lack of oral communication contributed difficulty to understand the questions raised during the interview session. Try this simple communication quiz or this quiz (link will launch .pdf document). Time to start building a network and have a more frequent conversation with your friends or people around you. Read a book out loud so you can hear your pronunciation. Practice makes you more competent.

#5. Portfolio management. While witnessing candidate who came to job interview flaunting their academic transcript with CGPA of 3.5-4.0 and with a dean’s list award, some came to job interviews without the presence of a portfolio and depend solely on academic qualification. It’s embarrassing. Sort out your work (especially designers) by arranging in a category of work and pick only the best 5 to 10 of your all-time most viewed or favourite work. Post your work online in Behance so that your future employer can access and pre-evaluate your work better. A coffee table book of your portfolio would be EPIC if you have ample time and money to do one.

#6. A change of attitude. A bad attitude is the biggest challenge because it degrades change. Either being too extra confident, or low self-esteem which includes being reserved and shy, lack of confidence, indecisive and pride often gets in people way. I.e. Some with the fear of what our friends, neighbour or relatives think about our job simply to ignite an impression to earn respect. You work to earn a living, not to feed them. Find the balance. Change now or never, or you will be left out.

#7. Don’t be ridiculous with high salary expectation. There are more qualified candidates who’re ready to tone down their salary so they can get the job.  Start your way up from the bottom. There are fresh graduates who have an enormous expectation with no working experiences out there who demand a five figure salary with a high ranking position but when your future employers access your qualification, they met with NONE of the basic standards. Don’t put yourself too high above everyone else.

#8. Appearance. This is the part where some candidates take less into account in applying for job interviews. Most of the time, appearance matters to employers especially those who are applying for a position that places them as front-liners or who represent the company’s brand, sales and marketing. No employers would hire a sloppy and an unmannered candidate. We must be able to stay fit and healthy. It cost no penny to run around the park with a bottle of one drinking water for short run on a weekly basis. So, what’s the harm of trying to be smart, fitter and smell extra nice for just one day?

#9. Be prepared. If you want to apply for a job, you need to know the industry at the back of your head. You need to know who’s the top guns or the big players, who are the competitors and how is it compared from our country to other regions. If you’re applying for a position in an advertising company, for example, you should at least know top ten creative agencies who nailed big accounts. Read the news about the trending success of the company you like to apply or the related industry, browse through their annual report or least get to know the nature of their business through people around you. Don’t be too ignorant, it will chase your opportunity away. And please show up extra early. Being stuck in stand-still traffic is an ancient excuse.

#10. Go visit a career fair and attend career talks/workshops. There are many admission-free career fair and seminars around town. You just have to keep your eyes and ears open to not miss it.

Whilst this country produce such great talents, there are more opportunities await for them to rise from the occasion. Having an optimistic mind, an attitude to thrive and positive-thinking will shape a greater perspective in us to enable progression.

Don’t look for the next opportunity, the one you have in hand is the opportunity – Paul Arden.

Author’s remark:
I personally offer advice and tips on a pro-bono basis to those who needed some direction in improving their CVs. I’ve done it in the past. Please drop an email to me or you can DM over my Twitter account.

1. Statistic Department of Malaysia
Malaysia’s jobless rate up slightly, TheStar
3. Trending Economics, Malaysia Unemployment Rate