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28 Feb 2014

Tightening of PIC Scheme and Expiry of PIC Bonus in Dec 2014

Unknown to many people, the PIC (Productivity and Innovation Credit) Scheme was tightened on 21 February 2014.  Effective from 2015 to 2017, all claiming businesses must have 3 CPF employees (excluding the directors and shareholders) every month, instead of only the qualifying month (i.e. March, June, September and December) as in the past.

As for the popular PIC Bonus Scheme, it shall  expire for financial years ending in 2014.  So if your company's financial year-end is on 31 March 2014, the last month for you to receive the PIC bonus is March 2014.  This is because although the PIC Scheme was extended till 2017, the PIC Bonus is not extended, thus it will end as planned in 2014.

For those that are not familiar, the PIC Bonus is automatically given out to companies as long as their PIC claims exceed $5,000 in a year.  The PIC Bonus is given out in cash (not tax deduction) up to $15,000.  This PIC Bonus, unlike the PIC Cash Payouts, is taxable.

Andy Ng wrote this article, his website is at here.  Thank you for reading this article.  To continue  receivibg our articles, follow us in this blog. Readers that read this article also read the following related articles:

Your Only Failure is Your Failure to Participate Fully

By far the biggest difference between successful people and struggling people is that successful people know that it is the participation that matters.  Struggling people often ask what do they get from a situation, they did not know that it is what they give to the situation that matters.  In short, the only failure is the failure to participate, and it is your level of participation that creates success.  If you too want to participate for success, you must do the following 7 things at work:
  1. Work 2 extra hours a week without staying back an extra minute
  2. Before bringing up a problem, please think of possible solutions.  If there are no solutions, at least let people know what is your level of commitment, are you a passive spectator or a serious spectator?
  3. Always to go the root of the problem and not just solve the surface of the problem. For example, the root of lack of sales is not the market but salespeople not doing what they should be doing.  By taking action at the root of the problem, you're are participating at a high level
  4. Don't ask what your company can do for you, ask what you can do for your company. Never ask how much you can get, ask how much you can contribute. Never ask the customer for payment, ask how you can help him to pay.
  5. Participate fully with your mind, heart and spirit.  No point just participate with your body, you are no better than an computer.  For example, many service personnel just stand there and smile, their mind is not with the customer at all. Such 'customer service' is not engaging and is actually enraging!
  6. If you are not sure, ask, don't assume. 
  7. Work as though this is your own business, and your participation level will be raised immediately. Instead of treating your employer as your paymaster, why not treat your employer like your beloved customer and give him the best service you can have.
By Andy Ng, Chief Trainer at Asia Trainers, details here.

27 Feb 2014

Make Sure Your Next Training Program covers these 5 Key Elements

With the PIC Grant, companies can claim up to $10,000 a year on internal training, i.e. their own people conducting training for their own people.  A good example would be HR Department doing Induction for new staff.  Other than that, it has become something as common as buying stationery when companies send their staff for external training.  This is because under the PIC Bonus scheme, companies get 160% of what they spend on training.  Before you sign up for your next public course, or get the trainer to come to your premise to conduct an in-house training, make sure that your next training program has the following 5 key attributes:
  1. Mix New School with Old School.  If what the trainer is doing is to replay old school principles, there won't be much value in today's context as the world is changing rapidly.  A phrase we often use in our training in describing what needs to be today in 2014 is a "time tested tactics blended with time relevant concepts".
  2. Situational Training. Trainers need to adapt the training material to suit the situation that the trainees are in.  For example, we often change our slides to suit the attendees.  In one program called Magnetic Selling, we create taglines for selected trainees on the spot. In another program Selling Ice to the Eskimos, we go through the 5 steps and create on-the-spot the USP (Unique Selling Proposition) for the trainee's business.
  3. Ensure that the Trainees Learn Something About Themselves.  If you want trainees to stay engaged and come back for more, your training program must incorporate segments that allow them to learn more about themselves.  For example, in our How to Be a Better Manager program, our trainees do a VAKOG Analysis to know their VAK type.  Studies show that the more people learn about themselves, they more they will be willing to take action to implement the ideas taught.
  4. Focus on the Real World that is Happening Right Now.  You could include role plays, discuss current events or simply let your trainees share their current work challenges.  A good trainer always brings the trainees back to the training content and see how the content can be applied immediately.  For us, we incorporate a '30-Day Action Plan' in the course and make every trainee write this plan or they shall have to repeat the program!
  5. Have Measurable Outcomes.  Whether you are training rookies or veterans that need a boost, the training needs to have a measurable outcome that both the trainees and their company will benefit from it.  It can be outcome based (like get 5 new prospects) to activity based (like give validation to your colleagues).  If there are no measurables, the worth of the training will be subdued. 
In short, whether you are training middle level managers, senior level executives, working level staff, salespeople or professional engineers, you need to make sure that your training program possess the above 5 key attributes.  As with all things in life, you need to get the basics right before you can reap tangible rewardss.  Companies must take training seriously because a good training program will produce profits many times over the training investment.

By Andy Ng, Chief Trainer Coach with Asia Trainers, details of courses are at here.  Related articles:

  1. Salespeople are the problems, and here's the solution
  2. The Laughed when they saw me addicted to the screen, but when they see what I see ....
  3. How PIC can benefit employees directly
  4. Bosses are the problems, and here are the solutions
  5. How just merely participating will make you successful
  6. Doubling your Success Rate for Your Goals
  7. Government Handouts do not help people at all

The 5 Strategies that Make Android the World's Fastest Growing System

Whether you are an employee, manager, salesperson or professional, we can all adopt the winning ways of the world's biggest computing platform: Android.  A company started by Andy Rubin in 2003 and launched to the world in 2008, Android is now the world's largest operating system for computers, especially smartphones. As at December 2013, Android has captured 82% of all smartphones and tablets, overtaking Apple since 2012.  Today there are more than one million applications (or apps) written using the Android's open-source operating system, with over 1.2 billion mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) installed.  The 5 Winning Ways of Android are:
  1. Focus on Product, not Marketing.  Android focused on creating apps that are useful, e.g. Play Books, Color Note and Panoroma Camera.  In fact, many of the Android's apps are more innovative than Apple's iOS, and this is also the reason that makes Android's platform more popular than Apple.
  2. Leverage on Parters, not Compete with Partners.  Android did not, like Microsoft, compete with its partners.  Instead Android works closely with partners to create scale-down versions like Amazon's Kindle, Nokia X and Nexus tablets.   When you work with partners, your partners will see you as non-threatening and they will in turn work with you more. The result is more results for you
  3. Focus on Customers' Needs, Not Gimmicks.  Unlike Samsung Galaxy S4 and S5 smartphones which come out many gimmicky features that few people turn them on, Android focused on the real needs of smartphone users: flexibility.  Unlike Apple, you can create and customize as many home pages you desire on your smartphone, making you more productive
  4. Fast, Nimble and Disciplined Approach.  Android did not, like Microsoft, become slow in coming up new applications.  Because of its nimble and small operating size, Android can respond faster to rapidly changing needs.  This is in stark contrast to Blackberry, where even until today you cannot install WeChat app.
  5. Go Mobile and Not Fixated on Any Single Platform.  Android works on all devices: Blackberry, Samsung's Tizen, Microsoft's Windows and even Apple's iOS.  Android also works on PCs, laptops, GPS, e-book readers, Smart Watch and even TVs.  The advantage is that it gives users ultimate convenience.  This is is unlike the operating systems from Apple, Microsoft and Blackberry. 
Because of the above 5 reasons, Android has become now the de-facto computing platform in a short span of just 6 years (since the 1st HTC Android phone came out in 2008).   In fact, Android's rise is faster than Apple's iOS, and beats the industry giant Microsoft's Windows.  Such success can definitely inspire many of us to also beat the giant in our market.

By Andy Ng, Chief Trainer at Asia Trainers, details at here.

25 Feb 2014

Salespeople, Not the Market, Are the Problems

Yes, the lack of sales is not caused by the market, your competitors or even your boss.  Salespeople are the problems, and the big problem is that they don't even realize this.  By far the biggest problem is salespeople not realizing that they are the problem and justify their situation as 'everyone is also like that, right' thinking.  There are 7 ways that salespeople make themselves the biggest problem. Know them, eradicate them, and you'll be on the path to greatness in sales...
  1. Lack of Selling Skills, especially in doing sales follow-up and overcoming of tough objections;
  2. Never Leverage on the Team, especially the customer's team and your company's support team;
  3. No Follow-Through and Follow-up on Leads, leading to no leads and thus no sales;
  4. Lack of Lead Generating Activities, resulting in no prospects to follow-up on and thus no prospects in sales;
  5. Never Listen to the Real Needs of customers, thus missing on the big picture and cannot close sales;
  6. Stop Learning and Think that they Know Everything.  Like many of them still doesn't know how the PIC scheme can help them to increase their sales;
  7. Assume Too Much, and Do Sales based on wrong assumptions.  Like assuming people want lower price when they say that your price is too high, when in fact they are asking you to show them the value of what you are selling.
By Andy Ng, Sales Trainer at Asia Trainers, details of sales courses are at here.  Related sales articles:

  1. Answers that everyone look for in sales
  2. Most sales training in Singapore are wasting your money and here's why
  3. Another 7 ways to sell the impossible

They Laugh When They See Me Addicted to my Smartphone...But When they See Me Smile...

With people using their smartphones (and tablets) on average over 3 hours a day, that's even more than the amount of time people spend on their home computers and TVs.  But only 9% of the time (16 minutes) is on talking, the bulk of the time (72% or 2 hours) is on instant communications, especially group and private messaging on Whatsapp, Twitter, Facebook, Line and WeChat).  Many people wonder if we have become slaves or addicted to our smartphones as many people carry them even inside the water closets.  However to us, the smartphone is just a tool, it is neither good or bad.  We can make ourselves smarter with our smartphones in the following 7 ways:
  1. Learn something new every day by reading blogs, seminar write-ups, news analysis, commentaries and TED videos; 
  2. Become a Guru instantly by broadcasting to others our unique thoughts on current events.  For example, I posted on my facebook the biggest disappointment of the year: the Samsung Galaxy S5 and immediately got recognised as the expert;
  3. Love your families and friends by keeping in touch with them constantly via your Whatsapp, Facebook and Weibo accounts;
  4. Tune in to the latest news that's happening by the minute, and never have to read newspapers again (other than advertisements for good deals and news analysis);
  5. Discover new ways things are done, be it entertainment, school work or 'how-to' series via YouTube videos and AppleDaily; 
  6. Read full books (at 50% discount) and book samples (for free) on Google's Play Books app.  You can read over 10 books a month or 120 books a year easily with such convenient tools; 
  7. Get non-stop inspiration and motivation with apps that push positive messages to you on the go.
In fact, if you use your smartphone in the right ways, your 3-hours usage is not addiction but lifelong continuous learning, which is what life is about, right?  So go ahead and use your smartphone more!  Note: our company is now giving out the new Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 worth S$328 free to every 5 seats registered.  Click here to see the full courses or email to us. 

How our Finance Minister Kill with a Borrowed Knife

Sun Tzu Art of War uses tactics to achieve maximum results with minimum resources.  One of the most used stratagem is "Kill with a Borrowed Knife" or 借刀杀人。Unknown to many people and unreported by the media, our Finance Minister Mr Tharman used this tactic in pushing the PIC (Productivity and Innovation Credit).

You see, Mr Tharman had a tall and challenging task.  How can Singapore 250,000 companies, of which over 95% are small and medium enterprises, reduce the reliance on cheap foreign labour and use higher skilled local staff and automation to increase productivity?  So he came up with the PIC scheme in 2010.

In 2012, Mr Tharman enhanced this scheme and increased the cash subsidy from 30% to 60%, payable quarterly instead of yearly.  But he has another problem: how can this scheme be pushed out quickly to the most number of SMEs without the government hiring a big public relations team?  The answer lies in making use of vendors.

You see, vendors doing training, IT Solutions, IT Hardware, Software and Automation Equipment can see huge payouts to their business if their clients invest in such PIC claimable items.  So these vendors (including we as training providers) are actually the knifes used by the Finance Minister.

Not only that, such vendors are also using the PIC scheme as a knife to 'kill' or close the sale.  And the companies that invest in PIC claimable expenditure are also using the PIC as a knife to achieve their goals: train their people, upgrade the IT and automate their businesses.

In short, everyone, from the Government to the Vendor and the claimant companies are all using the PIC as a knife to kill or achieve their goals. No wonder they say that such a tactic is the most used among the 36 Stratagems.  For when you try to kill someone with your own knife, people will be defensive. But when you borrow a knife from their friend, they will let their guard down as they doubt their friend will harm them.  So the key is to always borrow a tactic, a strategy, a tool, money or any resource that people perceive to be friendly, and then use this borrowed 'knife' to 'kill' or achieve your purpose.  This is what Facebook was doing: it used US$16 billion Facebook shares to buy over Whatsapp.  In short, kill with a borrowed knife is very effective.

By Andy Ng, whose courses on Sun Tzu Art of War are now done in 3 different areas: Sales, Leadership and People Management.  For details, click here.

24 Feb 2014

Is PIC a Government Gimmick that Does Not Benefit Employees?

Note: click here for PIC training

As we know, the PIC (Productivity and Innovation Credit) scheme has been in place since 2010, and has just been extended till 2017.  Under this general and generous scheme, the government gives 60% cash or 3 times additional tax deductions to businesses that invest to innovate and up their productivity. The 8 types of expenditure eligible for PIC Claims are: Training, IT Solutions, IT Hardware, Software, Automation Equipment, R & D, Intellectual Property Rights and Singapore Design Council design projects.

Many employees that we talk to feel that such a scheme only benefits their employer and they cannot see any benefits accruing to them. In fact some employees told us that making PIC Claims only adds up to their already heavy work load.  It's just a government's gimmick, right?

Make no mistake: the Government is serious about making Singapore's employees more productive. When employers receive money from the government, some of them will ultimately flow to their employees, directly or indirectly.  In the short term (1 year), PIC benefits employees directly in 7 ways:
  1. It increases their skill-set as now all trainings are subsided by the government.  Companies know that trained employees will increase the company's competitiveness, and since the net cost of training is only 40%, companies can easily justify training;   
  2. Higher skills will make employees able to do their job easier, thus giving them more peace of mind and more time to spend with their loved ones; 
  3. With increase in skills, employees will earn more than those that are not trained, whether in the form of fixed or variable salary and incentives.  Like one of our trainee, a secretary with a swimming club, she attended sales training in 2012 and now earns incentives every month base on sales closed by her;  
  4. As PIC also funds companies to invest in IT Solutions, IT Hardware and IT Software, employees will find that they have better tools to get more done using less time.  For example, many of them got the latest Samsung Galaxy S5, iPhone 5S and iPad Air for free from their employers. 
  5. In addition, PIC also funds Internal Training up to $10,000 a year, thus giving employees even more chances to be more skilled, leading to higher income and faster promotion;
  6. Other than that, PIC upgrades the entire company's spirit: companies are now very in-tuned into measures that increase productivity.  With higher productivity, employees will earn more;
  7. Most importantly, PIC brings employees closer with their employer.  This is because employees now feel that their employer are willing to invest in them more, be it in the form of training or better IT and equipment to do their daily work.  Such positive feeling undoubtedly boosts morale, leading to higher productivity and ultimately higher income for all.
In fact, the PIC scheme seems to have all the advantages and it will be insane if companies do not take advantage of it.  However, PIC does have one disadvantage that most people are unaware of: what will happen once PIC expires in 2017?  Since there are still 3 years and 6 months more to go, we shall look into this later.  For now, let's enjoy the PIC ride and make ourselves rich! 

23 Feb 2014

The 7 Changes to PIC that You Must Know

Over the past few days, I poured over 20+ pages at IRAS website and managed to sniff out the 7 changes to this PIC (Productivity and Innovation Credit) Scheme.  Know them and you'll be able to take advantage of them.  If you are ignorant, you will lose out at least $375,000.  The 7 Key Changes are:
  1. PIC is now extended to 2017 (originally to end in 2014).  This means that companies have more time to plan and take full advantage of this very general and generous scheme;
  2. Cap for Tax Deduction claims are now increased from $400,000 to $600,000 a year, effective for years 2013 to 2017.  This new scheme is called PIC +.  For cash payout, the cap remains at $100,000 per year;
  3. Website design and creation, including the registration of domain names, now qualify for IT claims, also effective for years 2013 to 2017.  Note that Search Engine Optimization (SEOs) will also qualify for this if SEOs are done as part and parcel of website creation. This means that companies can invest in more mobile sites (apps) and websites to effectively market their business. 
  4. Training expenses incurred for related companies employees (not under your company's payroll) are also eligible for PIC claims, also effective 2013 to 2017.  Also, examination fees where there is no training expense incurred, too qualify for PIC claims;
  5. List of Automation Equipment is now extended to include landscaping equipment and covers for open-top containers
  6. All IT and Automation Equipment claims under Hire Purchase (HP) need to follow the new HP Claim form.  This effectively eradicates interest and other non-equipment claims.
  7. As for the popular PIC Bonus of $15,000, there is no change and also no extension. This means that if you have already received the PIC Bonus, there is no more new PIC bonus to look forward to. 
The PIC (Productivity and Innovation Credit) Scheme is an general and generous scheme from the government to give cash payouts or 3 times additional tax deductions to businesses that invest to innovate and up their productivity.  The 8 types of expenditure eligible for PIC Claims are: Training, IT Solutions, IT Hardware, Software, Automation Equipment, R & D, Intellectual Property Rights and Singapore Design Council design projects.   Businesses can get up to $60,000 a year from 2012 to 2017, or opt for 300% Tax Deduction from 2010 to 2017.  On top of that, businesses will also automatically receive the PIC Bonus of $15,000 Cash if their PIC Claims exceed $5,000 in a year.  To know more about what you can claim and what you cannot claim for PIC, visit here

By Andy Ng, whose training on PIC and other sales and management topics have been featured in The Straits Times on 3 June 2013 page 20 (Money).  Contact Andy at Whatsapp to 8201-4347 or email to him at now.  Related articles on training, management and business include:

  1. Handouts like PIC are not as useful as business
  2. Newton's 3rd Law and You
  3. How Confucius did it
  4. Solving Your Problems in a very SAD Way
  5. The best salesperson is never from your company or industry
  6. Outsell your competition with Successful Selling Strategies
  7. 5 Common Management Myths and Truths

Bosses Are the Problems and How to Be a Great Boss

Note: The next How to Be a Great Boss is confirmed on 9 Dec 2014 Tuesday 2 to 5.30 pm.  Limited seats, register via text to 8201-4347 now.

If you don’t like the title of this article, read on. By ‘boss’ here, I am referring to a person that an employee reports to. That reporting boss can be a customer, the shareholders, superior and in some cases, the government.

Today I shall focus on your superior, that is, someone that you report to in your work. Most of the time this person is a manager or supervisor.

Whenever an employee has a performance issue, most managers will assume it is the lack of training. As a trainer with 18 years of experience training 81,131 people in 14 countries since 1996, I know that many a times it is not the lack of training. It may not even be the lack of skills or attitude.

The biggest obstacle to an employee not performing well is not about not knowing what to do. The biggest obstacle is Interferences from Bosses.

The following are the 5 most common interferences by bosses that are causing the performance problem. Remove them and you’ll see your employees’ performance soar.

1. Lack of systems or systems are encouraging lousy performance while punishing good performance

Many companies give difficult assignments to those good performing staff and give easy jobs to those that don’t perform. Many a times performers are asked to clean up the ‘shit’ done by the trouble makers, like service recovery. This really de-motivates the good performers as it is against the simple principle of motivation - reward to reinforce positive behaviour and punish to eliminate negative behaviour.

Another common system problem is remuneration, where everyone gets the same 13th month bonus (or 5% annual increment) regardless of their performance. High performers often don’t get much more than another month bonus, which is telling everyone that it is okay to under-perform.

2. Too much pressure, especially instructions that are based on the past situations and ignore the present situation.

Imagine you are at the tennis court when you are trying hard to remember all the instructions that you have been given. When the ball is coming to you at 150 km per hour, you try to recall past instructions on what to do. The outcome is that you will definitely miss the ball. You simply can’t focus on the past and the present in the same moment.

This is what is happening in the workplace every day. Bosses always insists that staff follow company’s policies, many of which are based on what have happened in the past. When a new situation occurs (like commuters stuck in the underground tunnel), the staff are trying to focus on the present and act accordingly, like give out information immediately to the stuck commuters. But the staff remembered that under company policy, only the top management can give out information to the public.

Torn between doing what they should be doing and doing what they were told, the staff will reach a state of inertia - not doing anything.

This pressure to follow past instructions, which are no longer valid as we are dealing with a new situation now, is causing big problems. Some bosses may even blamed the staff lack of skills as the reason for the under-performance. Unbelievable but true!

3. Wrong Strategy or Tactic

A good example is the famous Kodak company, which has filed for bankruptcy in January 2012, after being in business for 131 years. Kodak adopted the wrong strategy of sticking to its film business instead of moving into digital photography and saw its business declined by 99% in a decade!

The strange thing is that it is so obvious to everyone in this world that digital photography and not film photography will do well, and I am sure all the employees in Kodak know this too. Yet Kodak management does not seem to know or listen to the public or its own staff and stick on to the wrong strategy.

If you are in top management, ask yourself this question: have you asked your staff, especially the people closest to the market, how valid is your current strategy?

The truth is not if you have a wrong strategy and you pushed your employees hard to pursue that strategy, you are the one that is really causing the poor performance!

4. Protecting their Own Turf

We know that it is not easy for bosses to rise to their current position and as such they will do whatever it takes to protect their own turf. And in doing so they may be causing harm to the organization. Worse still, the boss punishes staff that don’t toe their line. Look at the many office politics happening now and you’ll know what I am talking about.

This point is very obvious but many people refuse to face it. Like some may not even want to circulate this article for fear of being seen as bad in their employees’ eyes.

We know that the first purpose of a boss is to achieve the organization’s goals. If he cannot do so, why have him in the first place?

If the boss, in protecting his own turf, downplays achievement of the organization’s goals, in no time he will be played-out by his own boss (the shareholders in business or voters in politics).

5. Lack of management and supervision skills

We know that it is very common for the top performer to be promoted to management position, like the best performing salesperson is promoted to the post of Sales Manager.

The reality is that management calls for different skills and they are often in conflict with the technical skills that a manager was previously good at.

The lack of management and supervision skills will make the manager unable to focus on management and instead focus on technical aspects of the work. We often see Sales Managers unable to motivate and inspire their sales team to hit their sales targets and have to do the sales himself to make up for the shortfall. In fact by him doing more sales than his salespeople, he is causing his sales team to under-perform!

In short, the above 5 interferences are blocking the road to higher performance. Remove them and you’ll be have a more effective, successful and happy team. Happy management!
By Andy Ng, Asia Trainers at
See Andy in action at or get inspired by his over 450 articles daily at

If you too want to get the most out of your life and career and reap the rewards like many of our coaching clients and seminar participants have achieved, hire a Business or Executive Coach now. For more information, email to, visit or call Andy Ng at 65-6225-1784 during office hours.

21 Feb 2014

Wishful Living is Wasteful Living

Yesterday I talked to someone who told me he wish to learn how to close sales, but he is only free next week.  When I told him that we have a course How to Close Every Sale on next Friday, he was shocked.  I told him that he can attend for half price too as he is my friend.  I would expect him to say yes immediately.  Imagine my shock when he told me that he wanted to 'think about it'!

Some people dare not commit anything and never live life in willing ways.  The way to test them is to give them whatever they wish, and 99% of the time they will not bite.  That's what I called living life in wishful ways.  When you live life in wishful ways, there are 7 negative consequences:
  1. You never realize your dreams
  2. Life is always incomplete and you'll have more and more wish-list as time goes
  3. You will miss opportunities and will miss the boat
  4. Life will seem happy but deep down you will feel a sense of emptiness or incompletion
  5. There are always suffering of un-satisfaction
  6. Soon enough people will stop giving you good things because you never receive them
  7. There will be more regrets than rewards in your life.
So my friend, if you don't want to live a life of waste, stop living in wishful ways.  Instead live life in willing ways. Remember, if you commit nothing in life, life is not worthwhile committing.

By Andy Ng, Trainer at Asia Trainers, details of How to Be a Great Boss at here.  Related articles:

Budget 2014 Highlights (updated 24/2)

*Good news: No new foreign workers caps PIC Extension till 2017*

As announced by the Finance Minister Tharman on 21 Feb 2014, this is a 'People' Budget.  As such, there are not many things for businesses.  In fact, if you are an old person (called 'Pioneers'), you will get lots of benefits.  Not so for smokers and drinkers, there will be a 10% tax and 25% increase respectively.

Here are the highlights: (more details will be revealed by the Government over the next week).
  1. All Singaporeans will receive GST vouchers of $250 cash, an increase over last year.  This may not mean much to most you, but will make your staff feel slightly happier TODAY
  2. Excise duty on tobacco and liquor to rise by 10% and 25% respectively, effective from 21 Feb 2014. Drinkers will face rising cost, and this will affect pubs that rely on liquor sale negatively
  3. Betting duty rates on lotteries to rise to 30% from 25%. This has zero impact on the punter (impact on Singapore Pools only)
  4. Levy for basic-skilled or R2 work permit holders to rise to $700 from $600 in July 2016.  This only affects Construction indusry
  5. To raise Central Provident Fund (CPF) Medisave employer contribution rate by 1 % point for all from January 2015.  This has a marginal effect on business cost, but would mean that hiring foreigners is relatively cheaper
  6. To offset point 5 above, Government will provide 0.5% Temporary Employment Credit and Special Employment Credit of up to 0.5% for one year. 
  7. Elderly will get discounted outpatient care, top ups to their Medisave accounts, and subsidies for the new national MediShield Life insurance system
  8. To raise CPF contribution rates for workers aged 50 to 55 by 1.5% points, 1% point from the employer and 0.5% from the employee. Will raise employer contribution rate for those aged 55 to 65 by 0.5% points
  9. PIC Scheme, which was originally to end by 2014, will be extended for 3 years to 2017.  (PIC Scheme gives 60% cash or 300% tax deduction if you spend on Training, IT Hardware, Software, Automation Equipment and Intellectual Property Rights).  But no additional PIC Bonus (to the original $15K). For the 7 Changes to PIC that you must know, click here.
  10. New Scheme to Get Companies to harness ICT (Information Communications and Technology), including subsidy on fibre broadband (at least 100 Mbps) and 80% support for Emerging Solutions
  11. Extension of 50% additional tax deduction for R & D expenditure till 2024
By Andy Ng, Chief Trainer at Asia Trainers, details at here

20 Feb 2014

The 5 Most Inspiring Words and Phrases that Make People Want to Die for You

In management training we know that people don't remember what a manager does for them.  But what he said will be remembered for life.  Thus instead of just saying things in a plain, old and uninspiring way, why not say it a powerful, motivating and inspiring way?  The following 5 are most powerful:
  1. I would like to hear your opinion. Wow, people love to be treated as important and want to be heard.  But you must really hear them before giving any opinion. Never give any judgement, otherwise this will be another of those 'for show' things that will not engage people and enrage them instead!
  2. I know you can do better than do.  This is often used when you want people to do difficult assignments or when their work is below your expectations.  
  3. If you were me, what would you do?  This really put them on par with you, for they now have the rare opportunity to think like you.  Great ideas will flow, and because the ideas are from them, they will execute them happily and willingly.  They may even die for you!
  4. Are there 1 or 2 things that I could do to help you make your life easier?  This is very direct and straightforward and you will be seen as caring and helpful.
  5. What do you really like to have from me as your boss?  This is called Listening Power, and with this you'll have Leadership Power.
By Andy Ng, Management and Sales Trainer from Asia Trainers

19 Feb 2014

How to Use Force and Get People Like You

Sun Tzu in the Art of War (which leaders can adopt) advocate the use of non-force to create lasting win-win battles. 

However, many people still like to use force. Mention the word 'force' and many would think of violence, aggressive behaviour and verbal abuse.  In fact the problem managers face today is staff are no longer obeying their instructions.  In other words, many supervisors, managers and directors have become too soft and are not using sufficient force in their work to get things done.

Over at Asia Trainers, we believe that the sufficient and appropriate use of force in your management and leadership will reap you dividends.  As revealed in our latest course "How to Be a Great Boss" on 1 March 2014 Saturday 9 am to 12.30 pm, you can use force and still get people to like you.  The 5 ways are:
  1. Pre-empt People that You'll Not Be NICE.  Because NICE means Nothing Inside Me Cares Enough, and since you care for them, that's why you want to be real and tell them as it is.
  2. Use a Variety of Ways - Voice, Body Language and Words.  Your words should be clear and authoritative, like "Get it Done TODAY, absolutely non-negotiable".  Your tone of voice should be firm and you should talk to them by looking (not staring) into their eyes firmly for at least 5 seconds.  
  3. Use Both Carrot and Stick.  To be firm you must tell people what are the negative consequences (stick) if they don't follow you, and the rewards (carrot) if they do follow you.
  4. Repeat Your Demand if they do not comply.  This time round, you can up the stakes (increase both the carrot and stick)
  5. Scold.  Yes, if the above does not work, you have to be more forceful and this means tell them emotionally (or commonly called 'scolding').  SCOLD means Sincerely Commanding for Obedience to Lead them to get things Done. Note that this scolding is only done as a last resort as nobody likes to be scolded.  The important thing is after your scolding, you should offer your help.  In this way your staff will feel that you are actually a caring person and they will soon be moved by your assertiveness. 
So my friend, go and practise the above 5 ways to be Forceful in Your Management.  Remember, at the end of the day, if your employees fail to do their work, it also means that you have failed to do your work.  A manager is measured not by how nice he is, but by results and results alone.  Action speaks louder than words, and Forceful Action can Move Mountains.

By Andy Ng, Chief Trainer Coach at Asia Trainers, details of our courses are at here.  

18 Feb 2014

How to Walk on Fire and Don't Get Burnt

You have experienced this before: in front of many high level people, you have to face the music and make a daring proposal. This could be a management restructuring meeting or some meetings where you have some tough proposals to push through. You know that the audience will question you hard, challenge you fiercely and even reprimand you for what you are presenting. Yet you have no choice and have to continue the job. We call this Walk on Fire at the Workplace.

Indeed many people think that walking on fire will get your feet burnt. Yet anyone that has done some fire walking (on hot embers or stones) will tell you that if you do the right things, your feet will not get burnt. This is because fire-walking has been practised by many people and cultures in all parts of the world, with the earliest known reference dating back to Iron Age India around 1,200 BCE. It is often used as a rite of passage, as a test of an individual's strength and courage, or in religion as a test of one's faith. Fire-walking became popular in the twentieth century when Motivational Guru Tony Robbins began giving public courses throughout the United States and Asia to demonstrate that the practice was not paranormal. I myself have done it at Tony Robbins' Unleash the Power Within Weekend in August 2001 and came out unhurt. The 5 things to do to walk on fire and not get burnt are:
  1. Only have brief moments of contact between your feet and the hot stones. If the contact is less than one second, the time is too short for the fire stones to have any effect on your feet;
  2. Wet your feet, thereby creating a good cooling effect to negate any fire effect on your feet;
  3. Walk firmly and in a balanced way, thereby putting very little weight of your body on the hot stones, reducing further your feet's contact point with the hot stones;
  4. Look up straight and not look down, for when you look down you will tend to be frighten and slow down, thereby lengthening the contact time with the hot stones;
  5. Walk fast but not too fast that you will stumble and fall. Fast walking further reduces the contact time with the hot stones. In the end the contact time of less than one tenth of a second will make you unable to feel the fire below your feet.
In the workplace, we can apply the above parallel to walk on fire and not get burnt as follows:
  1. Do not linger or spend too much time of contact between you and the questioners. Focus on your presentation and do not go outside your agenda even when asked. 
  2. Put some 'water' cooling elements between you and the questioners, and this 'water' usually means a relaxed yet confident posture and smile on your face;
  3. Present firmly and in a balanced way, covering all interests and making sure that everyone benefits from your proposal;
  4. Look into their eyes when you present, do not look down at your notes for it shows a lack of conviction in your presentation;
  5. Speak fast but not too fast until they cannot understand you. Speaking fast means that the audience do not have much time to ask you questions, thereby minimizing any fire between you and the questioners.
In short, if you do the above 5 ways, you can be like me, walk on fire and not get my feet burnt. Happy walking!

By Andy Ng, Chief Trainer Coach at Asia Trainers, details are at here.

The Single Most Important Element in Training that They Don't Tell You

Following my previous blog on the need for bosses to force their employees to attend training or they will never be trained, people asked me if there are painless ways to force training. The following are the 5 ways that have worked very well with our clients (from Lego to SingTel, DBS and AIA): 
  1. Provide sumptuous lunch. The best must be an international hotel buffet that includes sashimi, local delicacies and western ice cream. As we know, such training meals are also 60% paid by the government under PIC (Productivity and Innovation Credit). 
  2. Use movies clips to entertain and educate at the same time. Like this year 2014 we use movies never used before like Jobs, Freedom Writers, The Lion Men, Man of Steel and Cast Away.
  3. Have games that have the surprise element, like the trainees able to cut a piece of wood with just a piece of tissue paper;
  4. End the session early. Make it as a reward for the the trainees to complete certain tasks. By the far this is the most effective and most motivating for the trainees. The beauty is that the trainer too get to work less but with higher value! 
  5. Bosses Join in the Training. When employees see that their boss is also attending the same training as them, their painful feeling will disappear immediately. 
For those that want to know more on how to painlessly make training entertaining and educational, click here for our latest course schedule.  Other related articles on PIC funding and training:

  1. What You Don't Hear from the Minister about PIC
  2. Top 11 Misunderstandings about PIC that will hurt You
  3. Get $36,000 Cash from PIC Under Internal Training
  4. Kill with a Borrowed Knife with PIC
  5. PIC does not benefit employees and here are the reasons
  6. The 7 Changes to PIC that You Must Know
  7. Make Sure Your Training Programs Cover These 5 Key Elements
  8. Tightening of PIC and Expiry of PIC Bonus in less than 8 months

17 Feb 2014

How to Train Your People

At the beginning of every training session I normally ask my students why they are here.  Inevitably I get answers like, "I was told by my boss to attend", "I have to come for training or my boss will not be happy" and "Do I have a choice?  Coming for training is part of work, right?"

I would often counter what they said by saying, "That means you are forced by your boss to attend this training, right?"  The whole class would erupt into laughter.  I then thank them for their honesty and show instant appreciation to their boss (who could be inside the class).

Indeed the best reason for coming to training is no reason, that is, come because of being forced by bosses.  

As we know, training is not playing or social activity, very few people, maybe less than 0.01% of the population, would attend training on their own.  Most people need their bosses to force them to attend training.  The reason is that many employees feel that they know a lot and there is little they can learn from trainers who are not in their field.  They also told their bosses that they want to help the company to save money by not going for training.

But we know that deep down inside, these employees think that training will give them undue pressure as follows:
  • They have to stay back late to make up for the lost time incurred in attending training;
  • They are afraid that their bosses would ask them to do more things after the training;
  • They are also afraid that the trainer would pressurize them during the training session;
  • They just don't want to get out of their comfort zone and make the journey to the training centre.
Of courses the wise bosses would then ask these employees if they already know everything they need to know to do a 100 percent excellent job in their daily job.  Even if they know everything, knowledge is only potential power, only action is real power.  A wise boss would know that only with training will people get motivation, inspiration and enlightenment to take action.

Such a wise boss also knows that training is self-funding, i.e., the training fees can be easily recovered from the higher productivity of the employees after attending the training.  Now with the Government's PIC 60% Cash Grant or 400% Tax Deduction, training cost is reduced by 60% to 300%!  Unbelievable but true!

So the wise bosses would know that it makes business sense to send people for training.  And if the employees don't want to attend training for reasons stated above, the boss would force them, but never threaten them.  For training is not something that people would do on their own but need to be enforced from the outside.  Nothing venture, nothing gain. 

By Andy Ng, a passionate trainer that never forces people to attend training but instead lure them to attend with lots of freebies.  Related articles:

  1. Newest management buzzword: Transformational Leadership
  2. Oldest yet most effective sales tactic: Transformational Sales
  3. A Hungry Ghost Meets a Hungry Manager
  4. The 7 Unbelievable Magic Power of Training
  5. Jump the bandwagon of Successful Selling Strategies

16 Feb 2014

Today's 5 Lessons for the Workplace Warrior

In case you do not already know, we are all warriors in life, and the biggest war we fight is the war within ourselves.  Psychologists said that we have over 16 million thoughts everyday, and at every moment a few conflicting thoughts are going through in our mind and our thoughts have to fight to see which thought can come out stronger than the rest.

In the workplace we are too fighting: fighting for promotion, for business, for attention, and for appreciation.  Learn these 5 lessons today and you'll be a more successful workplace warrior:
  1. Low Maintenance First.  Before we can talk about being a high performing employee, we must first be low maintenance.  This means that we do not require much input and help from our bosses and we are independent and reliable.  Like we are being trained, disciplined, healthy (not fall sick often), and most importantly, be easily trainable.  Also do not break down often (i.e. let go your negative emotions in public). 
  2. Be Creative. Here creativity is about creation, i.e. how can you create value in your daily work. Instead of just doing your work, why not create value in everything that you do?  Like you make someone's day by smiling, you suggest alternatives when there is no stock, and most importantly, you create value by simply spreading enthusiasm in the office. 
  3. The Boss is Always Right.  If you think your boss is wrong, think again.  If still cannot be satisfied with your thinking, that means you have the wrong boss!  
  4. People Don't Mean What They Say, and Say What They Mean.  So if your boss says that your performance is 'okay', this means that you are not up to the mark!  Also, when customers are angry or scold you, it doesn't mean that they won't buy from you again.  Just look at the high number of complaints against Facebook since its inception and it's huge success today (over 1.23 billion active customers daily) and you'll know what I mean.
  5. Everything is Created Twice, One in the Mind and Another in the Physical World. Before you begin the project, if you think that the project is not possible to be done, it will be impossible to be done. That's why it is important to think the right thoughts as this is the beginning of everything.  Read 'The 8 Steps Thinking' at here.  
By Teacher Andy Ng, whose courses on management and sales are at here

15 Feb 2014

To Sell is Human: Selling is Moving People

Yes, everyone is a salesperson, because selling is moving people. Most people are in non-sales selling, that is, they are not doing sales as their main job, like an insurance agent. But most people are in jobs that involves communication, influence and persuasion, and these are nothing but sales.  We at Asia Trainers call these sales job as Moving People.
Myths and Truths of Moving People:
  1. Moving people is not about getting your way with others but about helping others get their way. You too will get your way when you help others get their way.  As what Zig Ziglar said, "You can get anything you want in your life as long as you help enough other people get what they want". 
  2. Moving people is not about how much conviction you have, but how much people feel about your conviction.  As what Andy Ferrari Norman said, it is not about convincing people but about conveying your ideas in ways that make people be convinced by themselves.
  3. Moving people depends more on the creative, heuristic, problem-finding skills than reductive, algorithmic and problem-solving skills.  You need to think and do out of the box to move people, as a trick that has been used before will be hard to work again.
  4. From caveat emptor to caveat venditor.  We have moved from a world of caveat emptor (buyer beware) to caveat venditor (seller beware).  This is because buyers now know more than vendors and it's more likely that buyers mislead vendors than the other way round.  So to move people you have to be aware that the other party may mislead you! 
  5. From Alignment to Attunement.  Yes, being aligned to the buyer's goals is no longer enough to move people now.  You need to attune to their deepest aspirations as well.  One of the best way to move people is to let them know of the challenges that they themselves may not be aware of.  Better still, solve the challenge for them. This must surely move people.
In short, moving people is the highest level in selling.  To sell is to move people.  

By Andy Ng, Sales Trainer at Asia Trainers, details here.

13 Feb 2014

Find Out if Your Boss is Crazy by Asking Him this Simple Question

In our training and coaching sessions, a question people often ask is: what is the first step to take if you want to improve your performance at work?  My answer is: Realize that Your Boss is Not Crazy.

Many people often feel that they are not in control of their destiny at work and believe that it is their bosses that determine everything at work. Even if this is true (of course we don't for a moment believe in this), you can still control your fate at work.  Just start to realize that you are in control and you can do something about it.

For example, you can improve your performance by becoming more efficient and more effective.  Efficiency is doing things right while effectiveness is doing the right things. You can put in more hours or even come back on Saturday/Sundays to clear the backlog.  Or you can take up some training to improve your skills, knowledge and attitude.  You can also seek help from your seniors.

In fact there are countless of ways that you can do, all you need to do is take the first step.  Do not, like most people, give excuses or reasons why you cannot do the above.  For me, the only valid reason is your boss disallows you to be more hard-working.  If this is so, your boss must be crazy!  Of course there are no such insane bosses in this world!

In short, you are always in control of your career.  Here are 7 simple things you can do to be more hard-working:

  1. Work 2 extra hours a day (by starting 30 minutes earlier, taking only 30 minutes lunch break, eliminate breaks during the day by 30 minutes, and stay back 30 minutes)
  2. Set your own goals to achieve the boss or company's goals
  3. Work well with other team members to produce strong teamwork
  4. Learning something new everyday
  5. Pro-actively ask your boss, "What is the one or two things that I can do to make your work easier?'
  6. Take up More Duties and Responsibilities
  7. Do an Excellent Job in whatever you're doing.
Of course the more aggressive ones can go to their bosses and ask when is the earliest that you can get promoted.  If the boss says, '3 years', then work out with your boss a 2-year plan to make it happen.  Even if promotion is not possible (you could be at the highest possible level), ask your boss what ways you can be an A at work.  If your boss says no to this, you really have an insane boss! 

By Andy Ng of Asia Trainers.  For details of our management and sales courses, click here

12 Feb 2014

Secrets to Making Sales

The 7 Sales Secrets that few teach you: 
1.    Sales is not a function, a goal or a number but an outcome, the outcome is customer satisfaction.  Regardless of how solid your product or service is, nothing happens without a sale.  If you did not make the sale, there is no customer satisfaction but instead lots of frustration for salespeople!
2.     Today customers are all suffering from Frazzled Customer Syndrome (FCS): a state of extreme exhaustion, that’s why they are not returning your call and give you the cold shoulder.  They are extremely checked out because of heavy workload, too many choices, rapidly changing market and past bad experience with salespeople.  How can we blame them for this?
3.     The result: customers keep you at a distance, brush you off, dismiss you entirely and stick with the status quo, no matter how undesirable the status quo is. Once you can empathize how customers feel, you can help them to improve and get out of this frazzle trap.
4.     Reasons for customers staying status quo:
·        If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it
·        It’s risky to make decision on purchasing that may affect your career
·        Most of the options provided by vendors are like near-clones of one another
·        It’s best to stick to established names as ‘nobody ever gets fired from specifying IBM’ is still the most trusted philosophy
5.     As a salesperson, we need to reframe these frazzled customers as call for action and not call for give-up.  They are not rejecting us but just calling us for help.  For example, when they procrastinate, it’s not that they are lazy but is that they need a sense of achievement, and the task of deciding to buy is simply too difficult for them at this moment!
6.     In order to quickly get into the customer’s mind, a salesperson needs to instantly add value to the customer.
7.     Before we can talk about salespeople adding value to customers, salespeople must not be seen by customers as wasting their time. Customers consider salespeople as irrelevant and wasting time when:
·        They talk about their products and services first without finding out what customers need and want;
·        They use proof sources (case studies, testimonials, white papers and even demonstrations) when the customer feels that their situation is very different from those they cited;
·        Their values and visions are out of sync with the customer, e.g. talking about saving money when the customer’s priority now is not enough time;
·        They know almost nothing about the customer’s situation and yet pretend to know or think that such knowledge is not important. Such behaviour belittles the customer.