Follow Up!

As the famous saying goes, “ideas are a dime-a-dozen, but the men and women who implement them are priceless”.

The world is full of people with great ideas motivated with the best of intentions and yet the majority of them never seem to perform. Such people will invariably make poor leaders.


What makes a good follow-up?

1. Listen
We must learn to listen. We need to have the patience to hear every detailed concern about challenges that our peers, staff, managers, customers and leaders face in the field. By listening, we can genuinely appreciate what others are going through and become motivated to do something about the problem.

2. Involve others to help formulate the solution
There are many perspectives in life and we all need to hear different ideas or solutions on how we can get things done. After hearing all sides, we can decide what course of action is best to take.

3. Follow-up and follow through
This is only possible if you know where you’re going! It is only possible if you have a goal and you have shared that same goal to the people in your team.

Build a program in your department where you make it a point to hear opinions, comments, or suggestions from your team. Such feedback processes should be programmed into our business culture. This will help us to listen carefully to what people have to say about us.

What is more important is that we gain an indication of an action plan in response to what we have heard. Feedback and following up like this allows us to:

1. Analyse and implement a possible solution
2. Test the solution with selected target groups
3. Take results back to the team
4. Enlist the full support of everyone on the team
5. Implement effective changes

Please take a moment to ponder… if we learn to follow-up and to follow-through properly, then we can all make the necessary changes to improve our company.

A simple follow through of ideas is what will get things done.


Joseph Bismark
Group Managing Director, QI Ltd

Fitness Matters

In today’s ever demanding world of global business domination, most CEOs and managers spend a lot of their time flying and travelling. They end up eating unhealthy, processed and oily foods that are commercially-prepared and microwave-heated many times over. Eventually, bellies are turning into balloons and heading down south as the weight of extra fat succumbs to nature’s force of gravity.

Last year I travelled three million air miles on business flights alone and was bound to consume the most fattening in-flight food. I always fool myself into thinking that I will work out at the hotel gyms to burn the added calories but fail to do so each time.

Today, I have gained an additional 30 pounds and the proof of it is something I need to hide under a loose shirt. Every morning as I look into the mirror I see a fatter version of myself, and it does not make me feel good. From then on, I made a decision to do something about it and start fighting the battle towards a better and healthier body.

I know it is a difficult journey but surely, it is worth the effort because a healthy body means a healthy mind, and a healthy mind leads to more productivity. This means I will have the energy needed to be able to deliver what is expected of me at the workplace, and yet have enough stamina to enjoy time and life away from work.

Businessmen and corporate people need to stay fit to cope up with the stress and demands of their job. It is no wonder that physical fitness programmes, gyms and yoga centres, have become the latest corporate lifestyle craze of this era.

Assess yourself … how fit are you? You may be just one of the many caught in the wheel of procrastination who put off health and fitness for tomorrow … or next week… or the week after. Stop making so many excuses and stop giving yourself reasons and hurdles to overcome before starting your health fitness programme.


Pre-requisites to starting your own personal fitness programme:

1. DECIDE exactly what you want to achieve (define your objective or target weight, etc.);
2. Make sure you actually have a BURNING DESIRE for the objective;
3. Set and document the EXACT GOALS of what you want to achieve;
4. VISUALISE and ‘feel’ what you want to achieve as if you have already achieved it!;
5. BELIEVE that you CAN actually achieve it;
6. Take positive action today…NOW. Start achieving (do not procrastinate). Use the ‘DO IT NOW!’ attitude.

In order to be successful at anything, all excuses need to go out the window . . . there are no excuses that will justify your failure. There is no such thing as “Not enough time”.

These are the things nobody ever wants to talk about, but it is important to get the right mindset first before dealing with the ‘minor details’ about physical fitness. These details are actually easy to tackle once you have set your goals and made the commitment.

So, make sure to take a second look at the six points above that you absolutely need to be clear about first. I want you to really give some serious thought to each one. Take a moment to ponder . . .

Again, once you are straight about proper mindset, you can get started on the ‘details’! Go get a trainer, enrol in a yoga class or fitness programme, or get a friend or buddy to work out with.

. . . DO IT NOW!

Joseph Bismark
Group Managing Director, QI Ltd

Principles of Decision Making

We cannot avoid making decisions. Right or wrong, decisions are made every minute of the day. They are unavoidable. And if we try to avoid making decisions, someone else will make them for us.

Do you really want to put your life and decisions about your life in the hands of someone else?

It is best to make our own decisions. Making decisions is a way of moving forward in life. Not making decisions is to stagnate and die.

We are faced with challenging decisions about our lives every day; from the simplest to the most complex tasks.

Let me share with you some points and principles on decision-making to make the task easier and more rewarding.

  1. Do not make decisions when you are feeling angry or emotional.
    If you make decisions during these times, you are likely to end up regretting the decision you make. Decisions made under the influence of these emotions are always subjective and destructive and will do neither you nor anyone else any good. All good decisions are made when a person is sober and clear-headed, as this is the state of mind in which we can think most objectively.
  2. Do not make a decision until you have heard all sides of the story.
    Do not assume you know everything needed to make a particular decision. Talk to people who are experienced about the subject. Not only will they present you with new options, but their insights could completely change the way you think about your decision. You must always be willing to hear an opposing view. Be as detached and objective as possible from the task and the decision-making process.
  3. Consider all your possible options.
    I have yet to meet a decision maker, good or bad, who had checked out all available options. You can invariably come up with options never considered, or hear options you would never have thought of yourself.
  4. Do not make decisions when you are under pressure.
    Remember the oldest technique in the book of selling; sales people will use pressure to try to make you decide in haste:

    “It’s the last best deal in town… you cannot let this go! You will lose this deal, you have to decide NOW!”

    Do not fall for this old trick… if the deal is not there when you are ready, then it is not the deal for you. There will be plenty more deals waiting for you when you are ready to make a decision.

  5. Do a reality check before making a decision.
    Make a list of things that can go wrong and the things that probably will go wrong. Keep the number of things that must go right for the decision to succeed to a minimum. At the end of the day, there are no wrong or right decisions per se, but we do need to be prepared to correct some decisions to make them better. Expect the worst and work for the best. If you did not make the best decision the first time around, this is great if you can learn from it! But do not stop there. Be sure to continue to manage your decisions and your decision making processes.

Good decision making comes from disciplined thinking. If you follow some of these basic principles before making decisions, the results of your decisions are most likely to work. If you think haphazardly when you make a decision, then little of what you plan will eventually work out.

Good decision making is habit forming. Each time you make the right decision, you gain more self-confidence to keep making good decisions.

Please take a moment to ponder… Follow some of these basic principles before making your next important decision(s); these principles are most crucial to remember and apply.

Joseph Bismark
Group Managing Director, QI Ltd

Are You an Expert?

I once asked this question during one of my training seminars: “Who wants to have the mind of an expert?”

Everyone in the hall raised their hands.

Do you wonder why I was asking an irrelevant question?

Do you think of course everyone should want to think like an expert, so why should I even ask?

Most people assume that success is synonymous with being an expert. If this would be the case, then anyone who is an expert should automatically be successful?

We all know that this is not the case, in fact most experts find themselves analysing to the point of paralysis. It stops them from moving forward, from taking risk, or from being open to new ideas like those coming from a beginner’s mind. The expert tends to reject ideas easily if they do not conform or agree with their ‘expert’ mindset. This is one of the major reasons many experts of the past failed to recognise the great minds and great innovations of today.

Let me give you one example:

“Smith the founder of FEDEX attended high school at Memphis University School. In 1962, Smith entered Yale University. While attending Yale, he wrote a paper for an economics class, outlining overnight delivery service in a computer information age. Folklore his professor suggests he received a “C” grade for his paper.

The paper became the idea for FedEx (for years, the sample package displayed in the company’s print advertisements featured a return address at Yale).”

Source: Wikipedia

I went on to ask my second question: “Who wants to have a beginner’s mind?”

No one raised their hands.

I realised, at that moment, what a hindrance this could possibly be and how it could prevent people from further learning.

The major reason people are afraid of taking risk is because of the fear of making mistakes. This is not what is expected of an expert.

Smith had a beginner’s mind when he wrote that paper for his economic class, while his professor in his ‘expert opinion’ thought that such a proposition would not work. The beginner’s mind is the root of all great innovations. It is empty, open to learning, and open to taking on impossibilities and making them reality. The beginner’s mind has a humble approach to life and work. It will not hurt to think like a beginner or have a beginner’s mind. It is always better to be reminded of things even if you happen to know about them already… Why say “I know”, when you can say “I do not know” for a change? You will see how fast you can learn things that you thought you already knew!

Besides, the experts are always in a state of anxiety… because they cannot make mistakes… they are the experts after all… they will be hanged if they make mistakes… but who would hang a beginner if they made mistakes?… he is just a beginner, so excuse him…

So my advice is to always be a humble beginner and have that peace of mind and openness to everything in life. Please take a moment to ponder this…


Joseph Bismark
Group Managing Director, QI Ltd

Delegate, Delete or Delay

We all have only 24 hours in a day.

Finding a balance between work and family relations has always been a challenge for every corporate person. Let me share with you a simple technique that can help you find the time you need to enjoy both family and the demands at work. Continue reading

Handling Crisis

Crisis is an event or a revelation, allegations, or set of circumstances that threatens the reputation and integrity of a company or an individual.

For Your Information: it does not even have to be true – it simply has to be public, or have the potential to cause harm. It inevitably occurs in any company that primarily deals with a vast market of customers across the globe. Whether it is caused by a disgruntled customer’s complaints brought to the press, or just plain negative publicity caused by competitive detractors trying to discredit your company.

Ten Simple Rules to Remember When Engaged in Crisis Management

1. Anticipate Issues. Stay ahead and be ready and prepared with answers to reporters’ questions or anybodies’ questions on issues pertaining to the challenges or event.

2. Get Out in Front. Tell the truth and say it before the media or someone finds out about the issue or discusses the issues or their repercussions in front of the public or before it can be misrepresented.

3. Act; Don’t React. When you react you are immediately in a defensive position. Tell the people ahead of time what you are doing, what will happen, or how you are dealing with the problem, tell them what they should or can expect.

4. Be Visible. Do not hide even if you do not have anything to say, be available. When you are invisible, the media or reporters and anyone with concerns will think you are hiding because the bad news is true.

5. Tell the Truth. This is the only rule of rules. Always tell the truth. The truth is easy you do not have to defend it and you will always be consistent. Lies you will have to remember and the truth will always surface and come out anyway.

6. Have a Spokesperson representing you or your company always briefed and ready. Do not keep the people who will talk to the media in the dark. Have people you trust and who know, “make sure they know the difference between knowing and saying.” You can never BS your way around crisis communication.

7. Talk Directly with Your Customers, Staff, Managers, Directors and Shareholders. You have to make sure whoever is integral to your business is fully informed of the crisis and bad news from you and not indirectly from the media.

8. Express Empathy and Concern. The most important rule next to honesty, if you express genuine concern for others, even if you are in a crisis you will be most probably forgiven. People will understand that you are human after all and are bound to make mistakes and will be more forgiving than anyone defending their mistakes and hiding the truth.

9. Take Responsibility. Taking ownership of a problem, especially as a leader is one of the secrets to defusing a crisis. You apologise and make amends and move on to correct the wrong.

10. Don’t Delay. You can shape the discussions and use the media to transmit messages, even if it is not the final solution to the crisis. Delays can create a secondary crisis.

Please take a moment to ponder. Crisis is an opportunity for change, manage it and turn it into an opportunity for growth and success, Do not run away… running from crisis is defeat.

Crisis is part of growth and development either with an individual or a company.


Joseph Bismark
Group Managing Director, QI Ltd

So You Know What People Really Think?

Have you ever noticed that people don’t always really say what they think?

I was in an elevator once in Singapore with a well dressed professional man who appeared to be in his late fifties. A young woman in extremely tight black pants, three inch heels and a low-cut red satin blouse stepped on at a middle floor.

He smiled in her direction and stated, “that’s a quite a stunning outfit.”

She gave him a big smile back, however, when she exited at the next floor and once the elevator door had closed, he turned and said to me…

“She looked like a tramp. How could a woman dress like that in a professional building?”

People rarely tell you what they really think, unless you insist. Especially when you’re the boss and you’ve just given a presentation, some will say “great job” and then they’ll slice and dice the speech when you’re out of sight.

People will not risk candour if there is nothing in it for them. So, if you want to know, you have to ask and also seek their opinion… You need to show that you really want to know.

Please take a moment to ponder… ask and seek opinions from the people close to you… be open to hear what they have to say in reply… it is only an opinion after all? It is not necessarily the truth… so relax… hear it and see what you can apply and learn.

Do not miss these opportunities for positive (or negative) feedback they can greatly improve you as a person.


Joseph Bismark
Group Managing Director, QI Ltd

Authentic Leadership

Being candid is essential to authentic leadership.

You have to learn to speak your mind. You have to convey your opinion without fear, pretty language and qualifiers. Authenticity is about the truth. The truth requires candour.

Any leader knows when and how to be candid and they don’t avoid it!

Please take a moment to ponder. Be brave and always be candid!

People want to hear the truth even if it may hurt to do so.


Joseph Bismark
Group Managing Director, QI Ltd

Share Your Values

Sharing your values with your office mates and friends is a sure way to build bridges.

People prefer leaders or managers with the courage to talk about their convictions and beliefs over those who just say what everyone wants to hear.

It really is that simple: Express your values and act on your values and people will respect you and believe that you are genuine.

Please take a moment to ponder on the idea: The key to success is speaking out and sharing your values with people and from there you begin to gain their respect.

People will recognise your contribution. It is not in the title or position that you can use to influence people… it is in the values that you believe in.

This is where you can truly lead people in the direction that they also wish to go.


Joseph Bismark
Group Managing Director, QI Ltd

Polish Your Professional Image

Prior to my corporate exposure, I grew up in a community where personal grooming was never an issue.

When we founded QI in 1998 it came as a shock to me when Dato Vijay told me that I was a crappy dresser and that I would have to start dressing up like a CEO and that I would have to do some personal grooming myself.

Initially, I felt a little insulted by his candour, but after some thought…
“only a true friend would tell me this”

Most people will only tell us how good we look, even if we are poorly dressed.

Image is important especially in your own office. Your office, board room, conferences and surroundings are all part of your overall image. Likewise, your outfit and accessories matter, from the suit and tie you wear to your hair style…

If you try to cover that balding head with whatever little hair is left… it will appear pathetic… accept that you’re balding and do not attempt hiding it… accept it and shave your head or wear your hair short… be confident and do not be conscious of reality… people will accept you for what you are and how you look… your briefcase, pen, watches and shoes are all a part of self presentation.

It is this professional image that you have to sell in a first time encounter with any business clients or customers.

We must understand the language of clothing in the business world. Whether your office is business-casual or more formal, you must have a wardrobe that works well in all types of events that you will have to attend. You have to set the tone and have to be ahead of the game.

Consistency of image is very important. Even if you’re accustomed to shopping for your wardrobe… seek assistance from a wardrobe consultant. You will rarely get honest feedback from people you know because the subject is so sensitive and personal.

Please take a moment to look into the mirror and ponder on how you can improve your professional image.


Joseph Bismark
Group Managing Director, QI Ltd