• Career,  Lifestyle

    Rocking 9 to 5: Songs for the Workplace

    Noisy colleagues? In need of some motivation? You know what they say..Happy workers equals better productivity, so put those records on!

    Research has shown that listening to music in the workplace leads to happier employees and boosts office morale and creativity. In a global survey commissioned by leading music streaming service Spotify, nearly two thirds (61%) of people revealed they listen to music while at work with Adele topping the list as most popular (16%), followed by Arctic Monkeys (14%), and folk foursome Mumford & Sons coming in third (13%).

    Dr. Anneli Haake, an expert on music in the workplace, whose own research took place in hundreds of offices and showed that music can provide relief from stress and improve concentration, supports the research that shows over a third (36%) of workers find that music helps to get them through the day, while a fifth (20%) find that listening to music is a welcome distraction from their “boring” jobs.

    While people clearly feel music makes them more productive at work, 16% admitted that they listen to music to drown out colleagues. Furthermore, workers need to choose their tunes carefully as the research revealed that one in ten (10%) revealed that they have judged a colleague based on their choice of music.

    Spotify’s research also shows that the most popular genre of music in the workplace is pop/chart music, with over a third (34%) choosing it as their preferred genre, closely followed by rock (29%).

    Spotify and Dr. Haake’s top office playlists to match your mood include:

    To block out background noise from chatty colleagues:

    Do I Wanna Know? – Arctic Monkeys
    Dr. Haake said: “Select music that uses several different instruments and has a steady sound and tempo to increase concentration and block out office distractions.”

    For motivation:

    We Can’t Stop – Miley Cyrus
    Dr. Haake said: “If you want to use music for motivation or to stop daydreaming, select something that you like and that makes you happy –something rhythmic, pumping or upbeat.”

    For concentration:

    Drunk in Love – Beyoncé
    Dr. Haake said: “For the easily distracted, listen to a track you know well for a lesser level of distraction.”

    When you need a pick me up:

    Get Lucky – Daft Punk ft. Pharrell
    Dr. Haake said: “Reward yourself with your favourite tune for three minutes after working hard. Get out of your chair and do a little dance to get the blood flowing to increase the flow of endorphins which are vital to reducing stress.”

    What’s particularly interesting from this research is that attitudes towards listening to music in the workplace are changing – whereas people may have once raised a few eyebrows by playing music in the office, it’s finally been proven that this not only boosts morale but creativity and productivity too.

    Dr. Haake adds: “One really interesting thing for me during this study was the way that listeners seemed to balance their individual music needs with the demands in the workplace. People were really careful about not disturbing each other, or appearing unprofessional in front of clients.

    “We know that listening to your own music makes people happy – and a happy worker is likely to be a more productive one.”

    To make life easier for you, Spotify has created a Music in the Workplace bespoke playlist that has been developed to provide the ultimate soundtrack to the working day, incorporating tracks to help get office workers through the 9 to 5!

  • Career,  Lifestyle

    Ladies, Want to Open an Online Store? Let Rakuten Help You

    It seems like more and more women are setting up e-commerce or online stores as a source of income to be able to work from home, but sometimes the thought of taking your business online can be a daunting feat..especially if you know nothing about setting up a website!

    There’s a steep learning curve to opening up your online store – from managing the website, to the social media do’s and don’ts, shipping out orders and the list goes on which can all be a little overwhelming. So what if you could get someone to manage the website bit for you?

    Rakuten Ichiba is a unique business-to-business-to-customer (B-B-C) business model which makes selling online easy and empowers you, the merchants. With a worldwide presence in over 10 countries (with more to come), it’s the perfect platform for you to venture online where you have fullest control over your business, inventory and policies. The best part? It’s in Malaysia now!

    Here’s what some of Rakuten’s female entrepreneurs have to say:

    Cao, Chi-Yi, CEO of Shoes Party

    Cao discovered Rakuten while studying in Japan and is currently using the site to bring her father’s shoe factory (which he founded in 1978) to the online space.

    “Rakuten was my first choice when I thought about expanding my business online. I admire how Rakuten is professional, efficient and customer-oriented. These are the qualities that I consider as the key ingredients to creating a successful business,” explains Cao.

    A big part of Shoes Party’s success comes from the creative marketing campaigns Cao develops with her E-Commerce Consultant (ECC).

    “I work closely with my ECC to develop effective communication tactics, which are crucial for our business. We speak every other day and I can always expect to receive practical advice and industry insight from my ECC,” says Cao.

    “I also love how you can customize your store to match your preferred brand image, as well as easily communicate with customers.”

    Cao holds regular ‘shoe-fitting events’, which help Shoes Party build strong customer relationships and also increase customers’ confidence in ordering shoes online. “Ladies are eager to try on shoes and surprisingly their boyfriends or husbands may come along to enjoy a coffee or a photography exhibition. In the near future, I look forward to organizing more events for existing and potential customers,” say Cao.


    Nawaporn Sa-ardpan, Founder of Annabrandname

    Nawaporn Sa-ardpan had always dreamed of running her own business. While searching for a designer handbag she realized prices in the US were much lower than in Thailand.

    Then in 2010 she noticed an advert for Rakuten and was particular drawn to their message offering ‘free set-up’. It gave her the push to try and set something up on her own.

    “I quickly moved the store to the ‘Premium Mall’ where I was assigned an ECC. They gave me great advice and we were able to exchange ideas on how to boost sales and visitors. With the ECC’s support we came up with a contest idea where customers could win prizes at my site. This helped boost my store’s profile and build trust between me and my customers, providing a great start to my e-commerce business. The great thing is, even three years after the store opened, my ECC is still there to give me advice,” she added.

    “I ensure that all of the original tags are intact and each item is packed in luxurious layers of tissue and I include a personalized thank you card with every delivery. I also invest in good photography, each product has images from various angles and zooms in on details, to ensure that consumers have the best possible vision of the product that they are ordering,” says Nawaporn.


    Nitjanun Danpichitchoke, Owner of Nongkhun

    Expanding your business to reach new consumers is never easy. When you are located in a relatively small city, which provides you with a limited customer base, it is even more difficult to grow sales to a level needed to justify further investment in products and marketing.

    This is the situation that Nitjanun Danpichitchoke found herself in after opening Nongkhun, her car accessories business, based in Thailand’s northern city of Chiang Mai. Despite locating her stores in popular shopping malls, demand from local customers was limited and sales volume was not consistent.

    With quieter days becoming the norm and rents beginning to rise, Danpichitchoke decided that she had to close down her stores. But this move left her with a large inventory of goods that she hadn’t yet sold.

    “This was when I decided to open an online store on Rakuten and use the marketplace as a short-term solution to sell my remaining inventory. I can’t say that my expectations were high, or long-term, as I was simply focused on clearing my storeroom space,” says Danpichitchoke.

    However when she joined Rakuten, she was offered free training to help her maximise on e-commerce activity and she jumped at the opportunity.

    “After completing the training I was really optimistic about my online store and even opted to join the Premium Mall. An ECC contacted me to guide me through the various marketing techniques that would help my business grow. I quickly saw the benefits and I was able to rapidly expand my customer base by using a combination of targeted email marketing and strategic promotions through the website,” said Danpichitchoke.

    Sales quickly grew and Danpichitchoke began to see a steady stream of new customers coming to her online store from all over the country. Moreover she was delighted to see that her business was no longer restricted to her local area.

    Danpichitchoke concluded, “Working with Rakuten has also allowed me to implement new systems which have helped my business. Their online payment options provide convenience to my customers, whilst the credibility of the marketplace helps stimulate better sales and introduce my business to a new audience.”

    For more information, visit the Rakuten Merchant page.

  • Career,  Lifestyle,  VenusMaxisFeed

    5 Ways Of Handling Difficult Bosses

    Difficult, horrible or plain ol’ crazy bosses? Here’s what you can do.

    You’re doing what you love, you get along wonderfully with your colleagues, and your office culture is relaxing and motivating. Yes, everything about your job is perfect, except for one major factor – your boss!

    Difficult bosses are an unfortunate circumstance of your working life that can make things fairly hard for you. In fact, there is scientific research proving that working for horrible bosses is damaging to health! So you know you have it bad when even a mere mention of their name leaves you into a quivering mess of resentment and frustration.

    Before your sanity decides to leave you and you hand in your resignation letter, here are some tips on handling employers that are a bit crazy, emotional, childish, dysfunctional, and every other negative adjective you can think of to describe a person.

    Is The Problem You?

    Is this the first boss that you can’t seem to work with, or have you been through several situations as such? Truth is, while it’s easy to blame the source of your stress on employers, the problem sometimes lies within yourself – so do some soul-searching (within yourself, other coworkers or HR Department) and make sure that the problem is not you before you go on and deem your boss irrational.

    Set Boundaries

    In a world where communication can be easily carried out 24/7, boundaries have become blurred or nonexistent between people – thus explaining why it’s good to set boundaries for yourself as soon as possible when dealing with bad (or any) bosses.

    To avoid feeling the frustration and annoyance of your boss crawling up your neck even when it’s way pass your overtime, or he/she wants you to handle too big a project by yourself – make it clear in the most polite and understanding manner on what you are able and comfortable to do.

    Communication Is Key

    The way you communicate to your boss actually depends on his or her personality and management style. Consider when and how your boss likes to communicate in order to establish better relationship between the two of you – such as straight to the point information for no-nonsense leaders, and a softer tone for those who like to connect with the employees. In addition to that, know that body language also plays a big role.

    Be Professional

    Just because your boss is emotional, doesn’t mean that you should follow suit. Although it might not always be easy, be the bigger person and take the high road – try to remain calm and professional, even in the face of your boss’ fits of rage. If you think that it’s hard to do so, just ask yourself whether joining in on the negativity is worth the risk of losing your job.

    Don’t Take Things To Heart

    If you’ve realised that your boss has an explosive behaviour or is somewhat bipolar, try not to take things he/she says too personally. This is because when you do, it would only further fuel the tension and resentment you feel towards them. As the saying goes, ‘sticks and stone may break your bones, but words will never hurt you.’

    Source: Forbes 

  • Career,  Lifestyle

    7 Tips For A More Organised Desk

    Right, it’s the workweek again and what better way to start your official duties than to have a more organised workspace.

    Some people work better with a messy table while for others, a neat desk means better productivity. Well, whichever category you fall into, it works to your advantage when there’s some sort of organisation. Check out these tips to maintain an organised space, whether at the office or even home.

    Pens and pencils – You may think you need 10 different pens in various colours for every other project but most of us, just actually use one type of pen for everything. Get rid of writing instruments that you don’t really need and check to see if these are still in working order. Don’t feel bad about throwing some out, it is just clutter.

    Notepads – It is probably one of the most important things to have on your desk. You should keep a notebook to specifically jot down telephone numbers, messages, names, order confirmations, flight numbers, etc. If you have a planner, that’s even better. It helps you to keep track of the vital infos and you don’t lose as many things with scraps of paper everywhere.

    Drawers – Perhaps, one of the most often forgotten part of your desk. Clear out whatever that you haven’t been using in the last six months and compartmentalise each drawer with empty boxes/trays to have a more orderly space. Check back every three months to see if you have anything else to throw out.

    Electronics – Items like cable modem, telephone wires, charger, etc shouldn’t be on your desk. This just introduces visual clutter. So use pieces of velcros to wrap those wires away or make sure the electronics/cables are tuck out of the way. Remember, the less clutter you have, the more organised you will be. Isn’t this a much nicer place to work?

    Pocket stash – This means that your keys, phone, access tags, etc should have a designated home of its own. The ideal setup should be sitting in the top drawer or right beside your monitor. This makes it easier for retrieval and you have all your essentials in one spot so you don’t have to hunt for them.

    Proximity rule – The key organisation tip is to have the things you use every day closer than something you use only a few times each week. This is common sense but some people do arrange the desk for aesthetics sake rather than usefulness.

    Easy access – We’re talking about productivity here, so easy filing is one of the most important aspect of organisation. Your filing system or cabinet should be within reach without needing you to walk far or even getting up from the chair. The more effort it requires, the more you’ll be tempted to just put those files on your desk en route to becoming a white elephant in the middle of the room.

  • Career,  Lifestyle

    What Kind Of Office Sitter Are You?

    Do you know the way you sit in the office can show the kind of person that you are?

    Some of us like to slouch, while others live (or sit) on the edge… believe it or not, we are always channelling our personality to the world or in this case, office. And this is translated from our sitting habits as well. As presented by Chair Office, the regular office workers can be categorised into the following 10 types and with that, these people find likeminded friends in their colleagues.

    So which one are you?

  • Career,  Lifestyle

    Top 10 Best Countries For Expats To Live

    If you are looking to live, work and play in a new environment abroad, look no further than our neighbouring Thailand.

    When it comes to living abroad, a HSBC Expat Explorer Survey reveals that Thailand is the best for overall expat experience. The Thai kingdom emerged top in a ranking rated by more than 7,000 expats from nearly 100 countries around the globe.

    The survey takes into consideration the quality of life as a foreigner. Generally, Asia is a favourite choice as the ideal destination to set up, integrate and find new friends. Among the top 10 countries include China, Singapore, India and Taiwan. Meanwhile, Malaysia is placed at the 20th spot, Indonesia at 31st and Vietnam at 32nd.

    The HSBC survey found that it was relatively easier for expats living in Thailand to make friends and they enjoy the best social life compared to foreigners in other countries. Plus, the lower living costs and higher earnings potential made Thailand the most cost-effective place for foreigners. 

    But of course, the number one factor for relocating is down to benefits and household earnings. Asia is home to the highest paid expats in the world with the foreigners earning more than $250,000 located in Indonesia, Japan and China.

    The survey, dubbed the largest of its kind, also polls respondents on their financial well-being and factors important to expat families. If you’re spurred by the desire to make more money, consider moving to Switzerland, China or Qatar where expats noticed “an improvement in their financial status.” If you have kids in tow, European destinations (in particular Germany) are ranked the most attractive for raising a family. This is followed by Singapore, France, New Zealand and South Africa.

    Here are the top 20 best countries for the expats experience:

    1. Thailand
    2. Bahrain
    3. China
    4. Cayman Islands
    5. Australia
    6. Singapore
    7. India
    8. Taiwan
    9. Spain
    10. Brazil
    11. Germany
    12. Russia
    13. Switzerland
    14. South Africa
    15. Argentina
    16. Canada
    17. Mexico
    18. New Zealand
    19. Belgium
    20. Malaysia

    Source: The Wall Street Journal

  • Career,  Lifestyle,  VenusMaxisFeed

    Messy Or Tidy? – How Your Desk Affects Your Work

    Take a look at your desk – do you see organised piles or strewn papers everywhere?

    Each one of us function in a certain way and each type of behaviour has its benefits.

    A previous study by the University of Minnesota found that a clean setting led people to be on better conduct like refraining from crime and littering, and generally showing more generosity.

    A recent study however was conducted to see if there’s any benefit of the opposite; it was discovered that a messy setting can also provide a valuable outcome. This group of people are generally more creative and dare to try new things.

    It was believed that clutter inspires the mind to break free of convention.

    For the experiment, the researchers set up two offices with the same view, furniture and amount of sunlight. The only difference is that while one was free of clutter, the other had various things scattered around the room including office supplies and paperwork.

    The participants were asked to complete a questionnaire in the offices and offered a chance to donate money to a charity and eat an apple or chocolate. Results showed that the tidy office volunteers were more likely to donate and choose the apple over the chocolate compared to the messy office volunteers. This indicates that a more generous spirit and healthy habit prevailed in one group over the other.

    Next, in the test of creativity the two groups were tasked to figure out new ways to use a ping-pong ball. Both had the same number of ideas but those who were at the messier table had more interesting and creative ideas.

    So it appears that whether the environment was tidy or unkempt, it made a big difference to one’s behaviour. Now rather than dissing a co-worker for his or her messy table, bear in mind that this could actually help them with their work by taking the unusual route and producing fresh insights.

    A touch of clutter can actually aid imagination.

    Source: Medical Daily

  • Career,  Lifestyle,  VenusMaxisFeed

    Study: A Glass Of Water Helps Brain To Work Faster

    Oh the wonders of the brain! All you need to make it work faster is water.

    The next time you’re stumped for an answer during a discussion or having a particularly hard time getting your brain to work, try drinking a glass of water.

    Researchers from the University of East London have found that drinking water can actually sharpen the mind, more so when you are thirsty. In response, your brain will work faster.

    In an experiment carried out on 34 men and women, it was believed that once you relieve your thirst, your brain would be able to focus on the task at hand more effectively, as much as 14 percent faster.

    The study got the participants to complete a number of mental tests twice with one session after a breakfast of just cereal bar and another after eating a cereal bar washed down with a bottle of water. Both sessions started off with no one eating or drinking anything after a night’s rest.

    For those who said that they weren’t thirsty, test showed that they were equally quick in reaction time with or without water. But for those who were thirsty, their ability sped up by 14 percent after having a drink.

    Researchers said it appears that a glass of water is all you’ll need to free up the parts of the brain that were busy telling the body it was thirsty. Afterall, 80 percent of our brain is made up of water.

    So remember when you are working hard, it doesn’t hurt to stop and have a drink of water. Researcher Caroline Edmonds pointed out that even tea or coffee can help hydrate you. We’d still go with H2O anytime!

    Source: Telegraph UK

  • Career,  Lifestyle

    In Style Langkawi 2013: A Snapshot of Malaysia’s Lifestyle Industry

    An exciting new event has been added to the Malaysian fashion calendar – In Style Langkawi (ISL) is set to be the game changer in promoting the best of Malaysian lifestyle brands!

    Set amidst the picturesque backdrop of Langkawi’s Perdana Quay at Telaga Harbour, ISL will be highlighting over 40 handpicked contemporary labels at this romantic setting from September 20 to 21.

    Imagine walking on a spacious waterfront boardwalk facing a beautiful marina interwoven with trendy restaurants and chic boutiques – with the sea breeze blowing in your hair, this is set to be one of the most effortlessly stylish events in Malaysia that will feature everything from clothes, apparel, skincare, jewellery, art, shoes, bags, and even home decor items!

    Some of the brands include Pink Jambu, Adila Long, Gadis Manis, Moniko, Thirtyfour, Francisca & D and many others that will be displaying their prototypes for regional and international buyers targeting hotel chains, retailers, manufacturers, department stores, and lifestyle product buyers.

    Despite being primarily a tradeshow for B2B opportunities around the world, ISL will be open to the public on the second day (September 21) from 2pm to 5pm.

    A Tradeshow to Boost Up Local Brands

    Often times, many women start up their own fashion lines, or lifestyle-esque businesses without a bigger plan on how to market their products or to reach out to a wider audience and that’s when ISL comes in – to help set-up that networking connection, beyond the country.

    Francisca Turner and Daljeet Kaur are both mothers who met through their husbands, and discovered that many of their friends (like themselves) preferred to make bespoke outfits to fit ‘real’ bodies instead of the generic sizing by mass brands, as well as to suit their own personal style.

    (L-R): Francisca Turner and Daljeet Kaur, wearing creations from their clothing line Francisca & D

    That’s when they created Francisca & D, a clothing brand designed for women – specifically working mothers who like contemporary, classic designs that are timeless and comfortable.

    “I found D (Daljeet), and she’s a seamstress and she loves making dresses so we said – Listen, why don’t we start making clothes for people? And from then on, we also decided to have a Ready to Wear collection to support that business,” said Francisca.

    “We are adamant that the brand remains Malaysian, which means it has to be made by Malaysians. We make everything locally, and we source for materials from the region,” said Daljeet.

    Currently, they sell their items online and have an international following thanks to sites like Etsy and Facebook.

    “I think online is the way to go; an online store is 24-hours, it makes absolute sense. Also, our business model is not to have a physical shop, but to market this wholesale to retailers,” said Daljeet.

    “This is one of the reasons why we’re participating in ISL because they’re match-making us, putting us into marriage with potential buyers that actually buy wholesale instead of being consignment-based, which doesn’t really make sense. I think this is a good stepping stone for a lot of the brands that want to reach out – not just in Langkawi, but in Malaysia and beyond that,” said Francisca.

    We’re definitely excited to see what else In Style Langkawi has to offer and hopefully, this will open up more opportunities for entrepreneurial Malaysian women everywhere!

    For more information on In Style Langkawi, click on the website

  • Career,  Lifestyle

    Join Now: The Apprentice Asia

    Calling all success-hungry souls! A 6-figure job is waiting on the line.

    Few can hear the dreadful ‘You’re fired!’ term without thinking about Donald Trump and his world-renowned business strategy reality TV show, ‘The Apprentice’. After 8 years and 12 seasons of changing candidates’ careers, the ‘ultimate job interview’ show is coming to Asia. Produced by Fremantlemedia Asia and helmed by reality TV guru Mark Burnett (The Voice, Survivor), the show is scheduled to air in May 2013.

    In other words, we now have the chance to be the suited up candidates who lead exciting business projects in the running to hold a 6-figure job position!

    In position of business tycoon Donald Trump is none other than the man behind AirAsia Group, Tan Sri Tony Fernandes. The self-made billionaire is best known for his magic touch on the formerly ailing AirAsia airline, having turned it into a global aviation breakthrough. He was the first Malaysian and Southeast Asian to be crowned ‘Forbes’ Businessman of the Year’ in 2010.

    Application is now open for aspiring Asian entrepreneurs armed with strategic business ideas and are ready to pursuit their dreams. Not only limited to those with business background, the competition is open to:

    • anyone aged 21 or above;
    • holds Asian residency; and
    • owns a valid passport of at least 6 (six) months

    Download the entry application here and submit it via mail together with your introductory video to register as a candidate on ‘The Apprentice Asia’. Closing date for entries is 16 December 2013.

    The top 100 shortlisted applicants will be called for a series of interview, from which 30 of the chosen ones will undergo casting and various tests for the TV show. Ultimately, 12 people will be the official candidates of ‘The Apprentice Asia’.

    For more info, visit www.axn-asia.com/programs/theapprenticeasia.