derek toh malaysian fresh graduate

Malaysian Fresh Graduates Have Attitude Problems?

Here’s an interesting article that’s been going around social media recently about why many Malaysian fresh graduates remain unemployed. It seems, we can all basically sum it up to them having attitude problems. In fact, the article breaks this down into several key reasons:

  • Unrealistic salary expectations – RM3.5k to RM6.5k
  • Poor communications skills
  • Dreaming too big (it seems, if you are from a “small” university you should work with a small company)

Understandably, employers who agree with this are furiously sharing this article on social media, along with expressing their own frustrations with their experience of hiring Malaysian fresh graduates.

But many of the fresh graduates that I have interviewed or hired did not actually show such “bad attitudes”, therefore I am a bit confused. As a startup, our salaries are fairly modest. Yet we’ve hired many quality Malaysian fresh graduates. They are matured and capable. Their communication skills are good, their attitude is decent, and they certainly could work in any multi-national company, yet they are working in a small startup (are they dreaming too small?). Continue reading →

Radical Candor

Before we jump into how radical candor works, I want to write about the “conventional” or adviced method of giving negative feedback. In my previous jobs, we’ve always been trained to manage communication with colleagues, especially when giving negative feedback, using a common technique where you “sandwich” the negative feedback between positive ones, to get your message across but not hurt egos too much. The idea is that this allows negative feedback to be received without demotivating your team. Continue reading →

The Gen Y Mind

I was on BFM recently, having a conversation directly with Gen Y talent about their careers. We had honest discussions about work-life balance, job hopping, taking a gap year, find work that you are passionate about etc. Many important topics that are on many Gen Y’s minds, yet they’ve never had the opportunity to speak out and actually get feedback about how these ideas work in reality.

Have a listen here, and if you have friends who may benefit from listening to this conversation, share it with them too!


DIGI CXO Apprentice Program

Full disclosure: WOBB.CO is a partner to DIGI for their newly launched DIGI CXO Apprentice Program. However, I am not commissioned to write this particular article, and the opinions expressed here are genuinely my own. It’s a program that I am personally excited about, and I hope more companies consider launching such a program.

Continue reading →

What’s it like to work in a startup?

I was moderating a casual panel discussion yesterday at MaGIC’s startup career fair, and joined by some well recognised people in the startup scene, Josh Teng (, Aaron Gill (MyTeksi), Joash Wee (Between) and Izwan Ismail (VLT Labs).

And while these are all very well respected leaders in their companies, the entire conversation was really chilled out, and you can tell that people that work in startups know how to have fun and don’t take themselves too seriously all the time. I think that’s a great trait of startups, because even your leaders are young, and it’s much easier to relate to then, and that really adds on to the appeal of being in these companies.

Biggest lesson? Startups care deeply about work culture, it’s the best advantage they have of attracting good people, and because of that, people who actually work in the startup environment can truly experience what it’s like to be part of a team that’s trying to change the world.


Why it’s a mistake to stick to a “safe job”, according to Jim Carrey

We all know Jim Carrey as the comedian. Someone that you would not take too seriously. But he recently gave a very inspiring  commencement speech to Maharishi University of Management’s class of 2014.

He tells a story of his father, who could have been a comedian, but chose to be an Accountant instead because it was a “safe job”. And learning later, that even a “safe job” is not really safe. To quote Jim Carrey:

“You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance at doing what you love.”

Here’s the highlight from the speech:

Or if you have the time, watch the full speech here:

Is social media really networking?

Networkers and recruiters pay attention, because this really applies to you. Social media is a good networking TOOL, but most people confuse it as being networking itself. There are many social media platforms right now, including Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter. In fact, the other day I got an email from Linkedin asking me to download their “Connected App” because apparently using this I can “network without the work”. Since when did clicking a few buttons and sending a few messages become networking?

Yet that is what a lot of confused people are doing out there right now. They are adding people on these social media platforms, sending them a couple of messages, and in their minds, they are busy NETWORKING. No, not really.

Here’s a little TEDx talk by Michael Goldberg about the Rediscovering Personal Networking, which I believe pretty much sums up what people forget as REAL networking.

Here’s a summary of some of the most important ideas from the talk:

1) Your “friends” on social media are not your real friends

He joked (maybe not a joke) that if you really wanted to know who your real friends are, send them all of the a message telling them that you need help moving to a new house. Only those who respond are your real friends. Everyone else should be “unfriended”.

2) Real relationships are built when networking is about them, not about you

He defined networking as “a proactive approach to meet people to learn with the prospect of helping them”. Not to sell your stuff, or pitch your ideas.

3) It’s okay to network only with people you actually like

Goldberg says that he only likes about a third of the people he meets, and he spends most of his time networking with them.

4) Strategic networking is about technique

Goldberg offers a technique that he summarises as PEEC (Profession, Expertise, Environment, Call to Action). By building a PEEC statement with a clear call to action, you are always prepared when doing strategic networking.



How to choose the right company culture for you

IMG_1970Some people under estimate the importance of choosing the right company culture for you. Yet I’ve seen many very bright individuals “not fitting in”, ultimately resulting in their careers made stagnant, or worse still, damaged and short-lived.

John Kotter (best selling author) defined culture in his book Leading Change as “….norm of behaviours and shared values among a group of people.” So even with all the right skills, if your values and behaviours do not fit in with the majority of the people in a company, you are probably going to have a difficult time progressing within the organisation.

So what should you be looking out for when assessing a company’s culture?

According to Robert Quinn and Kim Cameron at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, there are four types of organizational culture: Clan, Adhocracy, Market, and Hierarchy.

1) Clan oriented cultures are family-like, with a focus on mentoring, nurturing, and “doing things together.”
2) Adhocracy oriented cultures are dynamic and entrepreneurial, with a focus on risk-taking, innovation, and “doing things first.”
3) Market oriented cultures are results oriented, with a focus on competition, achievement, and “getting the job done.”
4) Hierarchy oriented cultures are structured and controlled, with a focus on efficiency, stability and “doing things right.”

What culture is your organisation, and which one would you prefer to be in?