Why we should strive to stay fit and healthy

In our studies or career, we sometimes tend to push ourselves beyond our physical, mental and emotional limits, thinking that we’re capable of overcoming any and all challenges.

As a result, our health and wellbeing end up taking the brunt of this push, and our bodies are forced to endure stresses that can be detrimental in the long haul.

Still, it’s never too late to start our journey to become healthy and with time, patience and commitment, incorporating healthy habits into our lifestyle is attainable.

If you think that adopting a healthy lifestyle is just about trying to look good or to lose the extra weight, you should think about the bigger benefits it brings.

Gain more energy

Last year, a workplace survey conducted by AIA Vitality showed that despite working long hours, Malaysians are the least productive.

The survey found that their low productivity resulted from a lack of proper diet, exercise and sleep, as well as experiences with work-related stress.

This suggests that our performance at work and in life is dependent on our energy level accumulated from what we eat, how active we are physically, how long we sleep, and how we manage stress.

Therefore, it’s vital to take care of yourself so that you have enough energy to handle whatever tasks at hand.

Build confidence

Establishing a healthy lifestyle can involve setting goals for improvement, for instance eating certain healthy food for the first time or running at a distance further than your previous record.

Besides the physical benefits, achieving these goals will help to boost your confidence and self-esteem, thereby strengthening your mental and emotional health.

Numerous studies have also shown that having healthy habits ensure a healthy brain by reducing stress and risk of depression, plus improve learning, judgement and thinking capabilities.

Save money

Practising healthy habits boosts overall health, meaning you could lower your chances of having cardiovascular disease, hypertension and other life-threatening illnesses.

This also means that you can keep your healthcare expenses down, allowing you to have sufficient finances for other commitments like bill payments or pleasures like travel.

Live for the future

Above all, staying fit and healthy is about your longevity. It means having more time to achieve your life goals, be it succeeding in your studies and career, or establishing your own business.

Accomplishing this, however, requires prioritising and being responsible for your own health and wellbeing.

So, eat right, get moving, sleep well and don’t take your health for granted.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2Bj3O69

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Study smarter by avoiding time wasters

Now that we’re already a couple of weeks into the New Year, most of us would probably be thinking how time flies, whether we’re having fun or not.

If you’re a student, trying to juggle classes, assignments, extra-curricular activities and a social life can be quite a struggle.

If you’re looking to use your time more efficiently, one of the keys is to eliminate time wasters from your day so that you can strike a better balance between home and study.

Most of us would probably agree that one of the most common time wasters is excessive usage of social media.

While social media may be a good platform for networking and information searching, it’s also a tool that easily distracts you from study-related activities or accomplishing your tasks, as it is often the main source of procrastination.

With social media, you will face a constant stream of distractions from your smartphones or laptops, which will undoubtedly affect your ability to focus.

Apart from social media, a lack of planning or poor scheduling could also be considered a time waster for students.

Planning or making a schedule in advance is the best way to keep track of your activities and is critical if you want to accomplish something as it provides you with a clear direction towards your goal.

Constantly reviewing and assessing your schedule can help you recognise whether you need to make a change in your study pattern and complete your assignments, while at the same time learning to prioritise.

And while it’s good to have a full day planned ahead, another common mistake students often make that could also be considered time wasting is not taking breaks in between long study sessions.

Taking short breaks after about 30 minutes of a study session has been scientifically proven to boost focus and productivity because after a long period of working, the brain uses up oxygen and glucose, which is a form of energy.

By taking breaks, you are able to rejuvenate your mind so that you can refocus on your studies when it is time to resume, thus making it easier for you to digest more information.

Time wasters come in different forms and they might vary from one individual to another so just by eliminating some (if not all) will allow you to reset your priorities, be more productive, and also save more time.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2EHbpxE

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Finding the right ‘problem’ to solve

We are now in the year 2018, and if one of your New Year resolutions happens to be starting your own business, the very first step you must take is finding the right ‘problem’ to solve.

It is the essence of entrepreneurship to create new solutions that satisfy unmet needs. Yet, many businesses fail because they come up with products or services before even identifying the actual problem.

Searching for the right problem to solve could determine the success and longevity of your business venture because this problem will evolve into an idea that defines the bedrock of your establishment.

This means that your business framework, strategies, decisions and implementation will revolve around the issue you intend to tackle – the raison d’être of your entrepreneurial endeavour.

Obviously, this is easier said than done, for it takes patience, diligence and thorough research on the viability of the idea to ensure success in your business.

This crucial market research requires asking yourself whether there is a demand for such idea in the marketplace, if you will be faced with a high level of competition, or whether you have the capability and capital to provide a new solution.

It may be ideal to find a problem related to your passion, but it is much more meaningful when the problem can transform into an idea that leads to a solution that people need in the long run, instead of what they want now.

The question then is where can you find that real, ‘painful’ problem you can actively solve?

First of all, observe your surroundings and see whether there are things people do that upset them, waste their time, money and effort, or even hinder them from accomplishing their tasks.

Your surroundings could be a goldmine of problems that are in dire need of solutions, so stay sharp and watch your environment for potential business ideas.

Experiences can be a source of ideas too, so reflect on them, be it your own or people you have encountered. Not all ideas involve saving the world; instead they can come from minor grievances through our daily lives.

In your conversations with family, friends or anyone, who can be your potential customers, pay attention to their gripes. They might appear as trivial comments, but never discredit those and consider them as problems worth solving.

There is also a possibility that someone else has attempted to tackle a problem similar to yours, so analyse your competitors who have succeeded or failed, including their strengths and weaknesses.

Learning from them could prevent you from committing the same mistakes they’ve made, allowing you to build a competitive advantage that could push your business to greater heights.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2AD6eMH

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Enormous opportunity to explore in big data

In the age of IT and Internet of Things (IoT), you might have heard the hype on big data analytics but have you ever considered a career in this goldmine of a field? Described as the process of collecting, organising and analysing a big volume of data, the application of big data analytics is used to uncover patterns, unknown correlations, market trends, customer preferences and other useful information to give companies a competitive edge.

The data, which can be both structured and unstructured, is gathered from various sources such as social networks, videos, digital images, and digital transaction records.

Presently, there is a steady inclination towards big data among analytics professionals as more and more organisations are using big data and related analysis applications as a way to gain more information in developing effective business strategies and decisions.

According to the latest Worldwide Semiannual Big Data and Analytics Spending Guide from International Data Corporation (IDC), the worldwide revenue for big data and business analytics will grow to more than US$203 billion in 2020.

This means that the demand for professionals with big data analytics skills is also increasing alongside investments in big data due to the evolving nature of analytical needs and the influx of data from various resources.

Sarawak is no exception to this disruptive change as it is striving to develop its digital economy, including the big data analytics field, thus leaving endless opportunities for youths to explore.

Driven by specialised analytics systems and software, those pursuing a career in big data analytics must possess both technical skills such as statistical and analytical skills, software programming, and data visualisation, as well as business skills such as communication, creativity, problem identification, and solution approach.

While the technological field currently accounts for most of the job prospects in data analytics, there are other areas using data analytics application as well, including marketing, corporate, consulting, healthcare, financial services, government, banking, manufacturing and gaming.

The big data field has a wide variety of career paths to choose from, such as data analyst, data scientist, big data engineer, database administrators and big data architect.

The shift towards a data-driven culture within society and the new generation of technology available have created a number of opportunities for IT professionals with data analytics skills to exploit.

So, if you do have an interest in statistics, numbers and programming, now is the right time to consider pursuing tertiary studies and eventually a career in this field as there is great demand for big data professionals from companies in various sectors globally.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan ZamanMansang(Azam) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams.Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2zRwJxw

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Enhancing technology through human-computer interaction

Every year, we find that advancements in technology have made equipment and gadgets more accessible and functional for people to use, and this is thanks to the progress made in the field of ‘human-computer interaction’ or commonly referred to as HCI.

Prominent examples can be found in consumer electronics, such as personal assistant apps in smartphones that require voice interaction; virtual reality (VR) headsets for VR-driven games; and ‘wearables’ like exercise wristbands for fitness tracking.

HCI is a socio-technological field that looks at the design and execution of the interface between humans and computer systems in both hardware and software, including mobile devices and applications.

Combining knowledge and skills from a wide range of disciplines like computer science, behavioural sciences and design, HCI aims to provide analyses that can contribute to the development of a usable system that is able to conduct various human activities and meet its users’ satisfaction.

Unlike many IT fields, HCI practitioners prioritise users in their studies and system design, particularly in their requirements, abilities and preferences, among many other factors, as poor human-computer interface can badly affect users in carrying out their tasks.

Thus, HCI systems are highly valuable across many industries, be it healthcare, manufacturing, energy, education or even entertainment.

Technology developed with HCI processes and principles has the potential of improving users’ quality of life; for instance, more user-friendly products and services are becoming available for the disabled.

From an economic perspective, HCI technologies developed through innovation and creativity can lead to new products, services and systems, subsequently modernising industries and boosting a country’s competitiveness and overall socioeconomic progress.

With technology becoming central in our lives, demand for skilled IT professionals capable of creating user-friendly, meaningful technologies has been on the rise around the world, including Sarawak.

It is no surprise then that Yayasan Sarawak now offers loans and scholarships for HCI research, reflecting Sarawak’s intent on developing scientifically- and technically-strong human capital as part of its digital transformation agenda.

If you find yourself interested in HCI, take note that this field involves becoming a ‘translator’ in communicating the needs of users to software developers.

This means possessing strong research and data interpretation skills, having a great understanding of the workings of different technologies and systems, and staying updated with the latest scientific and technological advancement.

Being proficient in HCI can lead you into a number of career paths, such as user experience (UX) designer, interaction designer, usability analyst, information architect, and user researcher.

Most importantly though, you will need to have the drive to solve problems, experiment with new ideas and develop fresh experiences that empower people to thrive in their everyday lives through technology.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (AZAM) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2ByPCHd

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Blogging to market your products

Getting involved in e-commerce will mean taking the time to pick up some new skills, and one of those skills will definitely involve online marketing.

Most of us are familiar with the use of social media as effective platforms for selling products and services, but have you considered blogging as another way to reach more people and potential customers?

An article entitled ‘Blog Marketing: What Is It and How to Do It’, which was published on the website thebalance.com, described ‘blog marketing’ as the “process of reaching your home business’ target market through the use of a blog”.

If you already have an online store or are already selling your products online, the blog will allow you to promote your business.

According to the article, although it’s relatively easy to start a blog and use it immediately to promote your business, the hard part will be the on-going marketing process and management of the blog.

To help you, it has come up with this simple checklist:

Prepare a blog marketing plan

This will mean deciding on what you want to publish on your blog. Are you going to provide the latest updates about your product or are you going to write about the updates in the industry you are in? Apart from that, your blog marketing plan will decide on whether you will update your blog once a day or twice a day or more.

Create the blog that’s right for you

Once you have your blog marketing plan ready, you will need to decide on the blogging platform – WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, Wix, etc – that offers the best fit for you and your business. Although you have the option of going for a free blog platform, it’s better to opt for paid plans, as it will make a huge difference in making it easier for people to search for your blog.

Update your blog immediately

Before you publish your blog, make sure you have an ample supply of posts, because if your blog is empty, you might as well not bother setting it up in the first place. So, get those posts ready and then follow the schedule you’ve decided in your blog marketing plan.

Use social media effectively

Although the primary goal of your blog is to market your product, you will still need to market your blog. Fortunately, with social media this task is much easier especially since it’s not difficult to integrate Facebook, Twitter and Instagram into your blog.

Stay social

Due to the social nature of blogs, you must always reply to comments from your readers. However, you also have to make sure to deal appropriately with online trolls and spam posts.

Encourage email signups

By allowing you to send them updates directly through email, your customers are also signalling that they’re excited about your products and services and hopefully excited to buy more from you, as well.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2CpL5qz

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Selling on an online marketplace

Previously, we talked about the nature of e-commerce as well as some of the steps you can take to set up an online store.

However, if you find yourself unsure about having your own e-commerce site, then consider making an online marketplace your launch pad towards becoming an online entrepreneur.

An online marketplace – like Lazada, 11street.my and Lelong.my – comes in the form of a website or a mobile application, and is designed as a platform for third parties such as sellers and retailers to conduct online business.

An online marketplace lets these sellers and retailers list their products or services, and facilitates transactions and order management for them; making it an easier and more affordable option for many sellers whose primary goal tends to be sales generation.

Selling in online marketplaces also enables you to take advantage of their promotional campaigns, which provides greater opportunities for you to get more potential customers to check out your products.

However, despite the convenience it provides, an online marketplace can be restrictive if you wish to build your brand in the long term.

For instance, while you can design your branded online store around your products or services, you can’t do the same with the online marketplace due to its ‘one-size-fits-all’ layout.

And because promotional campaigns are determined by the marketplace operator, you won’t be able to run your own campaign, which can be a hurdle in reaching out to your target customers.

Plus, customers tend to remember the name of the marketplace more than the seller if asked about their online purchases, meaning you’ll have a hard time to develop a brand following.

Still, with its low barrier of entry and its popularity among online consumers, an online marketplace would be a good place to start if you need to gain experience in e-commerce, as long as you keep in mind the following pointers.

Most importantly, you need to have your business registered with the Companies Commission of Malaysia, a regulation required for all online sellers in Malaysia to ensure customer confidence in online shopping.

You also need to consider some criteria in finding the right online marketplace to participate in, such as site traffic, customer-to-product fit, and merchant support and service.

For example, if you want to sell fashion goods that cater to women, you’ll have a better chance reaching your target market through fashion marketplace Zalora instead of the more general Lazada.

Consider these tips for your business research and ensure quality in your product and delivery, so that you can build the experience you need in running your own business online.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2A8u4QN

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Preparing for the Fourth Industrial Revolution

By now, you’ve probably heard the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ mentioned in the media, among your circle of friends, or in the workplace.

A Forbes magazine article probably said it best when it explained that, “The First Industrial Revolution was characterised by steam and water; the Second Industrial Revolution was the introduction of electricity to mass produce things; the Third is characterised by the Internet, communication technologies, and the digitalisation of everything; and the Fourth Industrial Revolution is the concept of blurring the real world with the technological world.”

However, if you don’t quite understand what it’s all about, don’t worry too much about it, as it’s more important for you to find out if you’re well prepared to succeed in this new era we’re about to live in.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution will create new jobs that don’t currently exist or are not considered common in our state of Sarawak, so how are we supposed to prepare for it?

As a rough guide, the World Economic Forum (WEF) report ‘The Future of Jobs’ has listed the ‘Top 10 Skills’ you will need in 2020, in the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

1. Complex Problem Solving Skills

2. Critical Thinking

3. Creativity

4. People Management

5. Coordinating with Others

6. Emotional Intelligence

7. Judgment and Decision Making

8. Service Orientation

9. Negotiation

10. Cognitive Flexibility

What do these skills have in common? They are skills that computer algorithms and robots cannot do as well as humans (at least, for now).

Of course skills such as computer programming and data management will be equally as important but as more jobs are digitised and taken over by robots, your role will be more about overseeing the tasks being done, and it also means being able to adapt to changing roles and becoming multi-disciplined.

The WEF believes that by the year 2020, more than a third of the skills considered important in today’s workforce would have changed, as the Fourth Industrial Revolution would have brought advanced robotics and autonomous transport, artificial intelligence and machine learning, advanced materials, biotechnology and genomics.

However, if you concentrate on building the skills listed above, you will be greatly improving your chances of excelling in this new exciting era.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2khYjBK

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Building your own online store

For some of us, e-commerce is already a part of our daily life and we could never imagine going back to the old ways of doing things.

However, for most of us, our role in e-commerce may just be as users or consumers rather than as makers, providers or sellers of goods and services online.

If you’re keen on exploring the world of e-commerce as an entrepreneur, there are absolutely endless resources on the Internet on how to go about it so there’s no need for SarawakYES! to delve too deeply into this topic today.

Rather, we’d like to share with you some of the essential items on your checklist, should you decide to take the plunge and open up your own online business.

First of all, you should decide what you want to offer to your customers. Our advice would be to pick a product that you’re passionate about. It should be something that you’re able to produce consistently and with quality. For example, if you’re good at knitting, you could sell what you make online.

Secondly, make sure you possess a domain name for your e-commerce website. Do make sure though that the domain name is the same as, or as close as possible to, the name of the business you’re running. Continuing on from the previous example, you could choose the name sarawakknits.com for your new business.

Once you’ve chosen your domain name, the next step will be to choose a web hosting service that will publish the website online.

Of course, you’ll have to actually build the website, which will be the virtual store for customers to browse through your products and more importantly allow them to buy the items that they like.

Nowadays, it is crucial that the website be mobile-friendly as more and more people shop online through their various mobile devices, be it mobile phones or tablets. If you want to take it a step further, you could also consider creating a mobile app for your customers.

At this point, you would have already created the virtual store for your products but in order to allow your customers to actually buy anything, you will next have to make sure you have your ‘shopping cart’ software ready, as well as a merchant services provider that will serve as the all-important link between your customers, the credit card company and your business.

Once you have checked all these items off your checklist, you’re ready to start your very own online business.

If you find those steps too complicated, there are several e-commerce website builders, such as Shopify and Wix, to name a few, that have made it even easier to build your online store.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2AxY7Fq

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Exploring apps for education

(Above) Example of education apps that can be found online. From left to right: Udemy, Duolingo, Photomath, Udacity. Screencaptured from Google Play.

In the not so distant past, mobile apps were mostly popular for gaming and entertainment content.

However, due to the rapid advancement in mobile technology, apps now cover every industry including banking, retail, airlines, and ridesharing services.

Nowadays, apps are even used for education, as one can easily find various education apps such as Khan Academy, Lynda, Photomath, Udacity and Duolingo for smartphones.

While some may argue that spending too much time on the phone and being highly dependent on technology can be a bad thing, apps are opening numerous possibilities and advancement in the education sector.

According to research by the University of Warwick, mobile phone apps can revolutionise learning in developing countries where educational resources are less accessible.

The research included an e-learning app for math and science called M-Thuto – containing class notes, access to online learning materials, quizzes and textbook content – for schools in South Africa to supplement classroom teaching.

It was found that the students in the research project were able to engage better in class and also performed better, compared to the traditional textbook method.

Mobile apps are able to provide multi-modal pathways by offering video, audio and presentations where students can engage with the content thus helping them to understand and retain more information.

Besides making learning fun and interactive, mobile apps are available round the clock, which helps students to improve performance and enjoy the learning process.

And as apps are available anywhere and anytime, learning is thus not confined to the classroom.

On the other hand, there are also apps out there for students to stay updated on campus events, schedules, fees, assignment deadlines, and meetings.

Apart from being active users of apps, you could also venture to become app developers, like the 13-year-old Sarawakian who designed an app for students to view the content of their textbooks.

Perhaps more youths could be inspired by this to create apps for all sorts of services that could increase our productivity and improve our lives, as well as contribute towards the growth of Sarawak’s digital economy.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2mKwYt5

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