Personal Directions: Good training is a necessary ingredient
By Christina Dodd,
Following on from my story last week and to how “a little bit
of training can go a long way,” I would like to fill you in on an experience
I had just recently that really does highlight this point.
Over the holidays I found a new carwash facility in our
area. As you know, there are so many of these places around, but it is really
quite difficult to find one that outshines another. They are all relatively
cheap, provide reasonably quick service and clean your car - that’s it in a
nutshell. All most people want is to have their car washed with the inside
vacuumed and of course - someone else to do it! Most people regard this as a
fairly routine activity and don’t attach a lot of seriousness to the level
of service and performance.
But this place really caught my attention. It wasn’t a
flashy franchise with a catchy name and a hundred cars in the queue. It was a
small operation with good equipment set on a fairly large area of land off the
beaten track. There were a few very ordinary chairs and seats placed around a
fridge with the usual dinks for sale and the daily papers scattered here and
there. The operation looked well-organized and seemed to be running quite
smoothly. So I thought to myself, let’s see how we go with this outfit and
how well they work on my car - which by the way I must say has seen a lot of
miles and a lot of years!
Usually when I drive into a carwash they take one look at
my car and adopt a less than enthusiastic attitude to cleaning it. I have
found this in many places because most people love to work on bright and shiny
new or newer cars. With second-hand or older cars there is no real attraction
and I’m sure a lot of the staff in these shops wonder why owners of older
cars take the trouble.
Anyway, I took a seat and let the show begin. The young
crew that was assigned to my car took a completely different attitude to it
than any other carwash I had been to before. They almost caressed it after the
big hosing episode and began to delicately and lovingly go over her inside and
out. Nothing was a problem, nothing seemed to be too much trouble. Every
little inch and half inch that could be cleaned and polished was given the
treatment. The boot interior was left in pristine condition and the contents
rearranged much better than I had done. I was amazed to see such attention to
detail and such dedication to doing nothing but the best for my car!
During all this activity, which by the way seemed similar
to being in the audience at a silent movie, I noticed the faces on each of the
staff. They all looked happy and contented; enjoying what they were doing. You
could see that each of them held a certain level of pride in completing each
of their specific duties and areas of responsibility on the car. No-one joked
around and wasted time or effort. The whole focus was on getting the job done
and in doing so, giving the car that is being cleaned the respect it deserved
- even though it was an old car.
You may think I’m going a bit far with this point, but I
think it is very pertinent to the way we all approach the tasks we undertake
in life. Giving the task the respect that is due to it - it is fundamental to
succeeding in the completion of that task and coming away with a true sense of
achievement and pride.
I was so pleased to have come across these young people who
were almost whistling whilst they were working. It was obvious that they had
been given some very good training and direction in the work they were doing.
Each had a role, each had a task to complete. Their tools were prepared and
ready. They had all they needed at hand to be efficient. There was a
beginning, a middle and an end to the procedure.
The owner of the establishment was there to observe and
ensure the final product was to my satisfaction. He was a polished young man
in every way and allowed his staff to get on with the job without any
interference from him. It was obvious that he was able to do this because he
had laid the groundwork with the excellent training he had provided them. The
foundations for success had been put in place.
This kind of experience always inspires me and restores my
faith in people and their ability to excel. People at all levels can do so
well in the fields they choose to work in. No matter how simple or mundane
those fields may appear to others, that is not the point. As humans we can
excel if we are motivated and given encouragement and the right kind of
training. With this set of ingredients we can embrace a task and come out on
top. We can enjoy what we do and at the same time, have pride in doing it.
These young kids who were washing my car were putting every
ounce of effort in to doing their job. They had been given very basic and very
good training that allowed them to work together as a team. They performed
like clockwork. Nothing missed a beat and the end result was excellent. My car
was gleaming inside and out. So too were the faces on the staff at the end of
A little bit of training goes a long way. But think about
what happens when it is more than just a little bit. Think of what can be
achieved with dedicated, committed, sound and professional training. People
have the most incredible abilities and given the right kind of support and
training, they can really surprise you.
For those of you would like a presentation on our training
or life-coaching services, or any of our other professional and life skills
programs, please contact me at Christina.dodd @asiatrainingassociates.com
Until next time, have a tremendous week!
The Doctor's Consultation: The sins of the fathers!
by Dr. Iain Corness
One problem of being an orphan is that it leaves the person
with no idea as to what ailments are going to befall them. Heredity is one of
the ‘clues’ to your health in the future, and what you can do to enjoy a
long, lively and healthy one.
With the increasing research into genetics, we are able to
map out likely futures and can predict such ailments as diabetes, epilepsy and
other neurological problems like Huntington’s Chorea and Alzheimer’s
Disease, some cancers such as breast, ovarian, lower bowel, prostate, skin and
testicular, heart attacks, blood pressure problems, certain blood diseases
like Sickle Cell Anaemia and so the list goes on.
However, you do not need to have multi-million baht
examinations done on your DNA to see where you are headed, all you need to do
is to start asking the older family members about your inheritance. Not the
money - your genetic inheritance in the health stakes.
Have you ever wondered why the questionnaire for life
insurance asks whether any close member of your family has ever suffered from
diabetes, epilepsy and other ailments and then also asks you to write down how
old your parents or brothers and sisters were when they died, and what they
died from? All that they, the insurance company, is doing is finding out the
relative likelihood (or ‘risk’) of your succumbing early to an easily
identifiable disease. This does not need a postgraduate Masters degree in
rocket science. It needs a cursory application of family history.
If either of your parents had diabetes, your elder brother
has diabetes, your younger brother has diabetes and your cousin has diabetes,
what are the odds on your getting (or already having) diabetes? Again this is
not rocket science. The answer is pretty damn high! And yet, I see families
like this where the individual members are totally surprised and amazed when
they fall ill, go to hospital, and diabetes is diagnosed.
It does not really take very much time over a family lunch
to begin to enquire about one’s forebears. After five minutes it will be
obvious if there is some kind of common medical thread running through your
family. That thread may not necessarily be life threatening, but could be
something like arthritis for example.
Look at it this way - your future is being displayed by
your family’s past. This could be considered frightening, when your father,
his brother and your grandfather all died very early from heart attacks. Or,
this could be considered as life saving, if it pushes you towards looking at
you own cardiac health and overcoming an apparently disastrous medical
This is an advantage that you get if you are not an orphan.
You know what to look for before it becomes a problem. Going back to the
family with diabetes, what should the younger members do? Well, if it were me,
I would be having my blood sugar checked at least once a year from the age of
20. Any time I had reason to visit the doctor in between, I would also ask to
have the level checked. We are talking about a very inexpensive test that
could literally save you millions of baht in the future, as well as giving you
a better quality of life, and a longer one.
Ask around the dinner table today and plan to check your
medical future tomorrow. It’s called a ‘Check-up’!
After reading your wonderful words of wisdom from afar, and cottoning onto
the fact that you are a connosuer (sic) of champagne and chocolates, I am
hoping you can also help me from afar. I am dating a wonderful young lady
and just want to know what champagne I should buy to woo her, and whether
dark chocolate or milk chocolate would be best.
The Gentleman Suitor
Dear Gentleman Suitor,
The first thing you have to do is attend to your spelling, my Petal. If
you want to be a “connoisseur” of champagne, then learn to spell it!
However, in your side of the world, my favourite champagne Veuve Cliquot
(French and vintage, darling, vintage) is not too expensive, though the
Grande Dame should be only brought out for very special occasions.
Regarding the chocolate, you won’t go wrong with milk chocolate
selections, though the white chocolate can be quite special. But it is a
presentation box, my Gentleman friend, not a block!
Since I come to Thailand many times a year, I am thinking about buying a
bar, rather than spending my money in somebody else’s bar. Is this
possible and do you think it is a good idea? I have a Thai girlfriend who
could look after it for me while I am away and the idea of sitting at my
own bar, drinking my own beer is very attractive. Is it possible?
Dear Bar Fly,
I think this is an excellent idea for your Thai girlfriend but not for
you. Like any business venture, unless you have experience, then starting
a new venture, in Thailand in particular, is very hazardous. Your
experience seems to be in sitting on the wrong side of the bar, not the
business side that has the cash register. There is also a small matter of
work permits in this country, and ‘bar owner’ is not one of those
skills that the Thai government is looking for in foreign arrivals. You
may as well just give all your money to your girlfriend and let her buy
you beers while you are over here. The money might last longer. The way to
make a small fortune out of owning a bar in Thailand is to start with a
large fortune. Forget it, Bar Fly.
During high season my boyfriend tells me that there are many visiting
ladies out sunning themselves around the swimming pool of the hotel where
he work. Many of the (big) ladies are wearing nothing on their top. Thai
woman are very shy, but the visitor do not care about local custom. This
make embarrassing for Thai women. What should be done to stop this custom?
It is all a question of cost, little Noi. As you say, the foreign tourists
are large and to buy the top for a swimsuit is very pricey, as it takes so
much material, so they make do with just the bottoms. You have to remember
that it is very expensive for them to come out here for their holidays, so
they have to save money somewhere. Don’t worry, Noi, they will all be
gone soon. I know that topless sunbathing is the custom overseas, so
forgive them. I am sure your boyfriend is not complaining.
Most of the letters you get are from men who are whining about what has
happened to them with girls from in the bar scene. Has the simple fact
escaped them that there is another side to living in Thailand? Surely they
must see that there is a big difference between that side and the other
side? If they stopped to look past the end of their noses they would see
that there are some truly wonderful girls out there. I have been married
to my Thai wife for ten years now and we have a partnership and mutual
trust. This works very well and I have never felt at any time that I am
being ripped off. Adjustments have to be made (by both the people) but
that is normal in any marriage. My wife came from a respectable family and
had a good job before she settled down to be a wife and mother to our two
lovely girls. Why don’t some of these men who write in with complaints
spend more time to look for the “good” girls?
Happily Married to a Thai lady
Dear Happily Married to a Thai lady,
I thank you for your letter, as it is easy for the casual reader to think
that there is nothing but disaster in any relationship with a Thai lady.
You are correct, people with problems do tend to write in to a problems
column, rather than those who do not. It is always good to show that there
is another side to the coin. Unfortunately, the ‘professional’ ladies
are the ones that the newcomers meet, who are then swept off their feet in
the rush to the gold shop, the motorcycle dealers and the real estate
agents. These men would not go looking for their life’s partner in a bar
in their own country, so why do they do so here? Laziness and easy
availability is the answer. Congratulations again on writing in and 10
years of marital (not ‘martial’) bliss.
Camera Class: Sharpen your focussing skills - even with AutoFocus
by Harry Flashman
Though I have been sorely tempted from time to time, I do not
use an AutoFocus (AF) camera. There are a couple of reasons for this, more than
just the expense of totally changing my Nikon system, but one of them is the
fact that even the most modern AF systems are slower focussing than me and my
manual focus ring, and the second is that by the very act of focussing it
reminds me just who or what is the ‘hero’ - the subject that has to be pin
since most new cameras are AF, the following tips will try and ensure that you
do get the sharp prints that you think you’re going to get from the expensive
There are unfortunately many situations where the magic AF
eye just cannot work properly. If there is no contrast in the scene, then the AF
will not work. If you are trying to focus in a “low light” situation then
the AF will “hunt” constantly looking for a bright area. When trying to
shoot through glass or wire mesh the AF can become totally confused. No, while
AF is now almost 100 percent universal, it still is not 100 percent foolproof.
One of the reasons for this is quite simple. The camera’s
magic eye doesn’t know exactly what subject(s) you want to be in focus and
picked the wrong one! The focussing area for the AF system is a small circle or
square in the middle of the viewfinder, so if you are taking a picture of two
people two metres away, the camera may just focus on the trees in the far
distance that it can see between your two subjects. Those trees are two km away,
so you get back a print with the background sharp and the two people in the
foreground as soft fuzzy blobs.
What you have to do is use the “hold-focus” (sometimes
called “focus lock”) facility in your camera. To use this facility, compose
the people the way you want them, but then turn the camera so that one person is
now directly in the middle of the viewfinder. Gently push the shutter release
half way down and the AF will “fix” on the subject. Generally you will get a
“beep” or a green light in the viewfinder to let you know that the camera
has fixed its focus. It will now hold that focus until you either fully depress
the shutter release, or you take your finger off the button. So keeping your
finger on the button, recompose the picture in the viewfinder and shoot. The
people are now in focus, and the background soft and fuzzy, instead of the other
So what should you do in the other situations when the AF is
in trouble? Simple answer is to turn it off, and focus manually! Sometimes, in
the poor light it is possible to shine a torch on the subject, get the AF fixed
on the subject and then turn off your torch and go from there. But this is only
when you cannot turn the AF off!
Another focussing problem is when photographing a moving
subject. When say, for example, you are attempting to shoot a subject coming
rapidly towards you, the AF is unable to “keep up” with the constantly
moving target. The answer here is to manually focus at the point where you want
to get the photograph and then wait for the subject to reach that point. As it
gets level with the predetermined point, trip the shutter and you have it. A
sharply focussed action photograph.
Another super tip from the photographic studios of the glamour photographers
- when making a portrait shot, focus on the eyes, nowhere else. I know it is
easier to focus on the collar for example, but you run the risk of the shot
going “soft” around the eyes. Very, very carefully focus on the eyelid
margins and you will have a super shot, no matter how shallow your depth of
field may be.