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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Family Money

Personal Directions

The Doctor's Consultation by Dr. Iain Corness

Agony Column

Camera Class by Snapshot

Recipes from Rattana

Family Money: Making It On Your Own - Part 2

By Leslie Wright,
Managing director of Westminster Portfolio Services (Thailand) Ltd.

Last week we started looking at the ingredients of success to becoming an entrepreneur and running your own business. The first Rule of Management in any business is Planning. Thinking through carefully what you need to be successful, and where and why things could go wrong.

The area many entrepreneurs neglect is Finances.

Surprisingly few entrepreneurs that I’ve met have any real idea how to plan their capital requirements realistically. Many set themselves up with insufficient capital to last long enough to establish the business on a firm footing, and provide a cushion during an unexpected economic downturn or cyclical lean period.

They perhaps imagined that the revenue generated by their new business venture would provide sufficient income to keep the business going as well as provide them with a comfortable living from the first day they opened.

Very few businesses (legal ones, that is) are so instantly profitable that they are able to do that.

Sometimes the venture was set up with borrowed capital. This is probably carrying a high burden of interest, which may then drain off a significant proportion of the profits – if there are any.

Sound financial planning involves setting aside a proportion of the revenue to pay off this loan eventually. But because all too often there is too little revenue coming in, nothing is put aside to pay off the capital loan, so the debt remains on the books.

That’s fine if the lender is content for that situation to continue indefinitely – which he may be if the interest is paid regularly and it’s producing a good return on his highly risky investment. (It’s a high-risk investment because the entrepreneur who borrowed it may default on the loan, or disappear, or die, so the investor may never get his capital back).

An even worse scenario is when there is insufficient revenue coming in even to service the interest, which then gets added to the principal, putting the business inexorably deeper into debt.

Eventually the business goes bankrupt, or the entrepreneur who is unable to repay the loan disappears overnight. Again, the investor who lent the money to the entrepreneur with the bright idea is the biggest loser.

Polonius said it first

The character Polonius in Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ warns his son La๋rtes, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be”.

It’s amazing then how many investors are willing to lend hard-earned money to friends or people who have no track-record of success in business simply on the budding entrepreneur’s word.

Often, because it is to a friend, there is no formal agreement covering the capital loan – so the lender has no legal recourse if things go wrong. (And then he’s probably lost a friend as well as his money).

Sometimes, again because it is to help a friend, otherwise shrewd people will lend this friend money at a beneficial rate of interest out of all proportion to the risk that is inherent in the situation.

These same investors look very carefully at the return they can expect from secure offshore investments made through a reputable broker and placed with internationally-recognised institutions who have been successfully managing billions of dollars for decades – but will blithely lend a considerable portion of their life savings to a friend who has a bright idea which he hopes will make both of them rich (which indeed it may, but statistically is unlikely to).

When it comes to evaluating risk on a scale of 1-10 (where risk-rating 1 is hard-currency cash deposits in a stable bank, 2 is a basket of international bonds, 4 is investing into a single developed stock market such as the UK or USA, 5 is investing in a single-country emerging stock market such as Thailand), it may come as a surprise to some readers that going into business for oneself – or lending someone else the money to do so – is rated by those of us whose job it is to consider such matters, at risk level 10+.

Of course, no entrepreneur accepts that his business is that risky – that’s why he became an entrepreneur; he has the Belief, the Courage and the Determination to succeed! But if you are considering investing in an entrepreneurial situation, it might be prudent to weigh the risks of this against alternative forms of investment; and if you accept the inherent risk (which equates to potential loss, remember), ensure proper paperwork is put in place to protect yourself – just in case.


Personal Directions: A sense of ownership

By Christina Dodd,
founder and managing director of Asia Training Associates

I’ve been doing a fair bit of travelling these past months and in my travels I’ve been talking to numerous people at various levels in different companies, from the shop floor, up to the ranks of senior management. What we have been talking about mostly has been “job satisfaction” and - are they getting any? If not, then why not? It’s quite a simple question which comes with some very interesting answers.

A lot of the people I spoke to were reasonably happy with what they were doing - but they weren’t over the moon by any stretch of the imagination. They were content to continue on with their jobs perhaps in the same fashion for the next two or five or ten years! They were quite willing just to “go with the flow” and see what eventuates. Others to whom I spoke were quite the opposite and open about it as well, saying that they were merely turning up to earn a wage to pay the bills, put the kids through school and so on, and that was that. They did whatever they had to regardless of whether it brought them a sense of achievement or satisfaction. And then there were those who were absolutely committed and who felt very fulfilled in their respective roles and totally dedicated to their positions and to their company!

When I was looking further into this and having some fairly honest and down to earth discussions with different people from the first two groups, it seemed to me that many of them felt that whilst they had a job, or a “place to go” every day, they felt that there was nothing more to it than that. They were part of a process that was designed to produce results. They had been trained and had the necessary skills required to perform their roles and tasks, but this alone was not enough to give them a great sense of job satisfaction. They didn’t feel anything exceptional or uplifting or rewarding that would make the jump out of their chairs or run out of the office or warehouse or factory building shouting “I feel good!”

One factory manager I was speaking to at length about this raised his eyebrows and was almost in shock at the idea that his employees might all rush out at knock-off time totally exuberant about their achievements during the day and shouting and carrying on in a joyful way! This kind of scenario was simply not on and what would everyone say at such behavior? I told him that it could possibly be the best thing that could happen to him and to his staff and if I were him, I’d run up and join in the fun - because that is what it is all about!

What would it take to have a scene like the one I’ve just described actually happen?

There are a lot of factors that come into play here, but a major part of this puzzle comes from something that I think is very fundamental to all of us, no matter where we live or who we are, and that is having a “sense of ownership”.

Let’s for a moment look at a very simple analogy, say that of renting a car as opposed to buying and owning a car. When you rent a car, it doesn’t belong to you and therefore in your mind the level of responsibility towards the car is diminished. That’s not to say that you don’t treat the car with due regard, but it means that because you are not the owner, you have a different attitude towards it. You are not one hundred percent involved with it because it belongs to someone else. It’s not yours and you can simply walk away from it. But if you own it, a slightly different set of values come into it and one of those values is a sense of ownership and pride in that ownership. Suddenly the car is a reflection of who you are as well, and this impacts on your behavior and your sense of well-being and purpose.

We are totally changed when we have a sense of ownership about almost anything. It could be a farmer who for years could only rent his land, and now can finally own it and leave it to his sons. He now may have a deeper sense of pride, and so may his family and employees who work the land, in what they actually grow and in the results of farming the land. It can have a profound effect on the lives of every one involved because they are being totally and directly rewarded for their efforts.

The pride we feel as a result of ownership of anything inspires us and drives us. It brings fulfilment and a sense of meaning to life.

In companies all over the world the onus is on the management to instil a sense of ownership (and pride) in the individual employee as part of the collective pride of the company. Then the question of job satisfaction may have far different answers to what we are normally used to hearing. How management does this is directly linked to the vision, the mission, the purpose of the company and the type of people who own and run that company. Innovative thinkers and bosses who perhaps remember their own roots and how it was when they first began work. People who have not lost sight of struggle and hardship and who can empathize with individuals in the workforce.

Managers and supervisors at all levels and in all industries have to be able to coach and mentor their staff, to ensure that staff become involved and want to become involved in the activities of the company - that they are not just sitting on the fence looking in! The individual has to feel like he or she belongs to and is part of something fantastic and worthwhile. This requires an enormous amount of support from the company, but it also specifically is the responsibility of the management.

For more information on this subject and other matters relating to personal growth and development, please contact me by email at [email protected] com and visit Asia Training Associates at www.asiatrain ingassociates.com

Until next time, have a wonderful week.


The Doctor's Consultation by Dr. Iain Corness: Enter the PSA - Is it the end of the DRE?

by Dr. Iain Corness

We just love acronyms in medicine! CXR is a Chest X-Ray, LFT’s are Liver Function Tests and even the History we take from you during the consultation is written as Hx. Having said that, let’s get into PSA and DRE.

PSA stands for Prostate Specific Antigen. Please re-read that - it is Prostate, and not “prostrate”. The Prostate is a gland at the base of the bladder, while “prostrate” is how you get after a good night on the turps! Big difference!

Now, DRE stands for Digital Rectal Examination, which means exactly what it says. This is examination of the Prostate gland, done by the medical digit, via the rectum. A form of examination that many patients shrink from, and medico’s themselves have much hesitation in suggesting. However, we were all taught as undergraduates, “If you don’t put your finger in it, you may put your foot in it.”

Prostate cancer is the big worry. Sure, only us males get this particularly nasty cancer (women don’t have a prostate) but it is one you do not want to get! And it is nasty. Prostate cancer is a form of cancer that is very aggressive, eating into bone and spreading through the entire body and is a very painful way to end one’s days, and not to be recommended.

So, like many medical problems, we should try and get an early warning system up and operating for us, much as we used to do screening CXR’s for TB many years ago. So what did the medical fraternity offer males over 50? Annual DRE’s, something which had decided buyer resistance in some quarters.

However, in 1986 the male world was heartened to be told there was now a blood test which had been developed to detect prostate cancer, called the PSA. Overnight the medical labs were being bombarded by males over 50 wanting the blood test, rather than the digit test. Alas, the real picture was not as cut and dried.

While PSA appeared to be a reasonable indicator - that’s where it started and finished. It was a “reasonable indicator” and that was all. A low PSA did not guarantee freedom from cancer and a high PSA did not necessarily mean you were ready for the open coffin routine at the local temple. It was found that some benign conditions, such as benign prostatic hypertrophy (non cancerous prostate enlargement) also increased the PSA levels in some males, and prostatitis (inflammation) and even sexual intercourse could alter the levels too. So while the PSA did relate to prostate function, it could only be called an “imperfect” test.

However, the boffins in the back room continued to refine the PSA test and we then came up with something called a “PSA velocity” figure. This measured the rate of increase in the PSA result over a given period of time. The faster the increase, the “more likely” it was that there was a cancer down there. But it still wasn’t absolute.

So where does that leave us (males)? The bad news is, back with the DRE, plus serial PSA estimations. DRE and PSA continue to be our best bet, and if either or both of those tests are a little doubtful, then the next definitive step is a prostatic needle biopsy.

Think about a check-up today! It could mean you get a lot more trouble free “todays”.


Agony Column

Dear Hillary,

I read your wise reply to the gentleman who asked (two weeks ago) about joining a monastery during his next holiday and would like to add the following: there is a monastery at Chaiya, close to Surat Thani that offers 10 day courses to foreigners starting the 1st of each month. The course involves adhering to strict silence for the whole period, sleeping on a concrete bed and using a wooden pillow, 4 a.m. wake-ups and eating just 2 simple meals a day (i.e., adhering to the usual Buddhist way of life). Look for information via google or yahoo under ‘Suan Mokkh’. Best of luck! And by the way, as I’m sure you are wondering ... Yes, it was truly a wonderful experience!

David Rhodes

Dear David,

Thank you for the additional information, my Petal. I could even be interested myself, if they allowed French champagne and chocolates as the two simple meals of the day that could be partaken between 9 a.m. and 11.30 p.m., but the concrete bed sounds a little rigorous! For that matter, strict silence doesn’t fit my life style either! However, for others with a real interest, here are the contact details for the monastery: www.suanmokkh.org

Dear Hillary,

On a Sunday afternoon, some weeks ago, I (female) was down in Pattaya and happily windsurfing in front of Dongtan Beach (beyond the swimming area of course), when a Russian guy on a jet ski decided out of the blue to gently run over the nose of my board. As soon as I was on the board again, the guy came back, but this time accompanied by three friends. No Hillary, they did not come to offer chocolates and champagne as an apology, but rather to threaten me by driving circles, shouting and attempting to pull me from the board. By that time I was really scared off, but fortunately one of the parachute boats came to help. (Many thanks to these guys!) Back ashore, I went to the rescue team to report the incident. The rescue team caught the four Russian guys (who just laughed and said “No speak English”), but I wonder if eventually they were fined. Although very kind and helpful, I got the impression that the efficiency of the rescue team is constrained by a lack of equipment (e.g. they don’t seem to have a computer to check IDs). This was not the first time that I had trouble with some crazy tourists on the jet ski. Apparently driving a jet ski is not really exciting and some people try to get an extra dose of adrenalin by passing windsurfers, kayaks and swimmers as close as possible. As Pattaya is being promoted as a water sports destination, does the city offer any James Bond style self defence devices to upgrade windsurfing gear or how is it supposed to work?

Troubled Waters \

Dear Troubled Waters,

Obviously a harrowing weekend for you; however, you must realise that Hillary does not really understand jet skis or windsurfing. Both of them play havoc with your hairstyle. Many years ago I struck a bargain with the denizens of the deep - I would not swim in their bathwater, if they would refrain from swimming in mine. But that is incidental to your problem. Now I note you called these chaps Russians - how did you know this when they proclaimed they did not speak English? I also note that you want the rescue people to have computer checking of IDs. Who’s IDs? The “Russians” or yours? Do you really want “Big Brother” to be doing computer checks on you at the beach? I am glad that you report that the culprits were detained by the rescue people and perhaps fined. I am not sure what more you can do - bopping them over the head with a James Bond drop-kick does not do much for anyone, other than stirring up more aggression in a potentially very aggressive situation. I am sure the Bond fans could dream up a few items of self defence, like board-mounted machine guns, fins that turn into chopper blades and even a sail that becomes a parachute and drops bombs. However, the answer is “Jai yen yen” - keep a cool heart, my Petal, and windsurfing further down Jomtien Beach where the windsurfing guys are located to protect you might be the better alternative.

Dear Hillary,

Do you think it is OK to have a little fling every so often? There is a nice chap in my office who enjoys my company, and I enjoy his. So far all we have done is to have a drink after work for a few weeks now. He is making some suggestions, but I have pretended I haven’t heard or understood what he was saying. He is married, but says that his wife doesn’t mind him having a girlfriend. What do you think?

Flinger

Dear Flinger,

There are many people who would tell you that having a little bit of a fling is a good idea. These are generally wandering husbands with wandering eyes and hands and divorce lawyers. Hillary is neither of these. Forget the after work assignations and look for someone who can offer you a bit more short term gain for long term pain.


Camera Class: David Hill and Robert Adamson

by Snapshot

While many keen photographers or students of history would have heard of Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre (to give him his full appellation), not so many have heard of David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson. These photographers were written up in the Quarterly Review in 1857 as follows: “It was in Edinburgh (Scotland) where the first earnest, professional practice of the art (of portraiture) began, and the calotypes of Messrs Hill and Adamson remain to this day the most picturesque specimens of the new discovery.”

The calotype process has been described before, but basically it was the discovery of the ‘negative’ by Fox Talbot in 1835 that led to the new process being called calotypes. At last, more than one print could be made following a photographic sitting.

Fox Talbot, an Englishman, did not patent his process in Scotland, and Sir David Brewster (the inventor of the kaleidoscope) suggested to Adamson that he should set up in business as a professional (calotype) photographer, which he did on 10 May 1843 in Edinburgh.

Earth shattering events happened over the next two weeks in Edinburgh after Adamson opened his doors, with 155 ministers resigning from the Church of Scotland and then the establishment of the “free” Church of Scotland with 500 ministers in attendance in Edinburgh. This stirred the imagination of a painter, David Hill, who decided that he should paint the event of massed ministers, but had very few days in which he could sketch likenesses of them all, before they returned to their towns throughout the country.

Sir David Brewster came to his rescue, suggesting that Hill contact Adamson and photographs be made. And thus it came to pass, as my old minister was wont to say, that there was a steady trek of clerics into the garden of Adamson’s photography studio.

Why the garden? In those days, there was never enough light for the fairly insensitive photographic materials, so the best time was between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. outside. In this way, the exposure time (rather than calling it shutter speed) was measured in minutes, rather than hours.

Being taken in the middle of the day, the light is above and not flattering, but Hill and Adamson altered the light falling on the faces of their subjects by reflecting light back into the face with mirrors. Even in 1843 they were ‘painting with light’, the true art of photography.

Now take a look at the photograph with this article. This is one from that series and you can see the tricks that the photographers had to do in those days to keep the sitters still. Note the man on the left has his right elbow supported by the book on the table, while he supports his chin with his left hand. The seated subject is braced against the back of the chair and holds the large book, which in turn is braced against the top of the table.

Photos from this era are sometimes criticized for the ‘stiff’ poses, but when they had to keep that pose for many minutes, you can now see why. Think about that famous photograph of King Chulalongkorn that you can see in almost every office in Thailand, with the King in the bowler hat, knee supported on a chair and his hands and body supported by the cane. A classic and local example.

Hill and Adamson exhibited their photographs at the Royal Scottish Academy in 1844 and the display was entitled as being “Executed by R. Adamson under the artistic direction of D. O. Hill” so you can see the concept of “art directors” is not anything new.

Between them, Hill and Adamson produced 2,500 calotypes in four and a half years, but their partnership was cut short by the early demise of Adamson, who died in 1847 aged only 26. Hill continued with his painting, going on till he died at 68 years of age.


Recipes from Rattana: Kwiteo nam (noodle soup)

Thai roadside noodle soup is enjoyed by everyone. Each seller has their own slightly different recipe, but this is a good “standard”. The main noodle styles are “sen lek” (thin), “sen yai” (wide), “sen mee” (AKA “Bamee” egg noodles) and “Mama” (wriggly noodles).

With any of these “local” recipes, it is possible to add or subtract items in the soup. Many times the soup is different, just because certain items were not available at the markets that day. Do not be afraid to improvise. Improvisation is the Mother of Great Cuisine

Ingredients Serves 4

Noodles (soaked) 200 gm

Pork (minced) 200 gm

Fish balls (any supermarket) 200 gm

Bean sprouts 150 gm

Coriander (chopped) 2 tbspn

Shallots (chopped) 1

Garlic (chopped, fried) 1 tbspn

Fish sauce 50 mls

Ground white pepper 1/2 tspn

Sugar 1 tspn

Chicken stock 1.5 litres

Cooking Method

Boil up the stock and add the fish balls, pork, fish sauce and sugar. After 2 minutes add the noodles and bean sprouts in a net spoon and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Now quickly add the shallot, coriander and garlic.

Fish out the sprouts and noodles and place into bowls, then add the fish balls and minced pork. Top up with the soup stock and sprinkle a little pepper on top. Serve with some more fish sauce, some chilli powder, sugar and sliced red chilli in vinegar. The individual diner adds these to taste, so no one ever eats the same soup.