Tuesday, September 23, 2014


More and more retirees are returning to work life almost immediately after retirement. With longer life expectancy and the ever rising cost of living, most retirees simply cannot afford to enjoy full retirement. Would a 60-year old retiree have accumulated enough in his EPF or CPF to support him for the next 15 to 20 years? The answer is a likely NO.

What is the solution? Go back to work? Easier said than done. Retirees face age discrimination in the workplace. Unless they have skills that are highly sought after, and unless the government offers a helping hand to retrain older workers, many will have difficulty re-entering the job market.

A very useful guide to finding your encore career. Source: Encore Tampa Bay

'Encore career' is a relatively new term to refer to older adults re-entering work life after retirement or after a short hiatus. The chart above provides a useful guide to helping baby boomers identify their passion or interest, and what to do to get started.

If you don't fancy working for someone else, you can always start your own business and be your own boss. This involves taking on some risks, especially financial ones. If you are unable to secure a loan or find partners, would you have enough confidence and optimism to inject your retirement savings into the venture? How good is your appetite for risk-taking?

Check out this free 6-week course at https://www.coursera.org/course/innovativeideas

I am currently doing an online course that is helping me discover if I have what it takes to be an entrepreneur, and how to go about turning a business idea into a reality. If you want to learn about entrepreneurship but do not want to work on the assignments to get a certificate, you can sign up for it anytime now, and follow the video lectures at your own pace. The 6-week course ends on 3 Nov. By the way, it's free.

There's another way of looking at seniors going into entrepreneurship. Not only do we remain self-reliant, we also contribute to the economy by creating job opportunities with our business. Here's a website that offers a wealth of resources on senior entrepreneurship.

For more about senior entrepreneurship, go to http://seniorentrepreneurshipworks.org/

Statistics show that senior business ventures are the fastest growing of new startups in the US, in the UK and in other countries as well, due mainly to the rapid rise in global ageing. Although data is not available for Malaysia, a simple survey among my network of friends seem to support this trend. The Star recently did a cover feature on the "Rise of the Older-preneurs".

Click here to read the full article. 

The Singapore government provides grants and other financial assistance for new entrepreneurs. You can visit their website Enterprise Singapore for more details. The Malaysian government has cut down on funding startups except for those in technology. However, many of the major banks like Maybank, CIMB and RHB have their own funding programmes. If you are looking for angel investors or venture capitalists, do check out http://www.cradle.com.my/  Yet another source of start-up capital is crowd funding. Kickstarter is a good place to check out what projects will attract backers. (Note: the link is no longer available).

You could also try attending an entreprenuer bootcamp where participants vie for a chance to present their innovative ideas to a panel of potential investors. If you submit your name, you will be informed of the next bootcamp or competition. SeniorsAloud was approached by a finalist in the Asia Social Innovation Camp 2013 to endorse an app for seniors called Guardian Angel. We were happy to oblige.

Your success in obtaining funding depends a lot on how you pitch your business idea. Are you able to convince the banks or the angel investors that your business venture is a viable one? View Shark Tank video on YouTube to get an idea of how to make a pitch. It's entertaining, and also educational as it gives you an idea of how pitching works. BBC has a similar series called Dragon's Den. (Note: both videos are no longer available).

So there you are - enough resources and links to get you started on your business venture. Are you ready to be an entrepreneur?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


Take a walk in the city, and you are bound to come across heart-breaking scenes of elderly men and women rummaging through garbage bins looking for plastic bottles or aluminium cans, or collecting discarded cardboard boxes to sell for a pittance. At their age these seniors should be enjoying their golden years pursuing their passions and playing with their grandchildren, not eke out a living.

Regardless of the circumstances that have led to their current state of destitution, they need a helping hand from the government, NGOs or some good Samaritans. Unfortunately, many of them fall outside the welfare radar. They are not aware they are eligible for welfare aid. Nor do they know where to go or who to seek for help. Talk to any one of them, and they will tell you they are just waiting 'to die'.

It is hard to understand how anyone could be all alone in the world, with no family members or friends to turn to in times of need. But it happens. No one wants to be in a situation like this. No one deserves to be in a situation like this. It can happen to anyone. Even the wealthy can end up poor and homeless if a sudden calamity befalls them. Wars and natural disasters can render us in need of helping hands.

This article published in The Star yesterday (8 Sept, 2014) throws some light on the plight of these forsaken elderly. 

Chin Kam Hoong, 74, pictured above, never married. He used up all his savings years ago and relies solely on his monthly RM300 welfare aid, out of which RM200 goes towards the rental of his 2.5m by 3m room. Tan Ee Chin, 76, who lives near Chin, has two daughters and a son. After the girls got married, he never heard from them and doesn't know where they are now. His son is an odd-jobber and lives 'somewhere in the city'.

Their stories are typical of the destitute elderly living in the city. Chin and Tan have a room to go back to at the end of the day. But there are many who cannot afford a roof over their head. These are the ones who set up 'home' along pavements, under bridges and in the void decks of apartment blocks. Surrounded by their meagre belongings, they literally live from hand to mouth, from day to day.

While it is next to impossible to completely eradicate poverty and homelessness, it pricks our conscience to stand by and do nothing. If you would like to help, but are not sure how to go about it, consider volunteering for community service with your religious groups or NGOs. Or contact SeniorsAloud at info@seniorsaloud.com. We will put you in touch with the relevant NGOs.

Friday, September 5, 2014


Malaysia recently played host to 2,700 Toastmasters from all over the world, including Malaysia. The event may not have made the front pages of the local media, but it certainly made Toastmasters history. For the first time since Toastmasters was set up in 1924, the annual convention was held outside North America - right here in the heart of our city at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

The event was held from 20 August to 23 August, 2014. The timing couldn't have been better. For what better time to showcase our rich Malaysian culture, our beautiful city and our friendly people than in August when the country is all geared up to celebrate Independence Day on 31 August. Let's not forget 2014 is also Visit Malaysia Year.

The opening ceremony was simply jaw-dropping awesome. It received thunderous applause and a standing ovation from all the delegates. As I watched the cultural performances, and the parade of flags, my heart swelled with pride. Two thumbs up to organizing chair from the host country, DTM Low Yat Seow, and his hard-working team. You guys did an amazing job!

Over the next few days, there were more reasons to be proud of Malaysia. District 51, which covers Peninsular Malaysia, was one of only 18 districts that won the prestigious President's Distinguished District award. Not bad considering there are 97 districts worldwide. Congratulations to Immediate Past District 51 Governor DTM Faang Kiang Pyng and her committee.

Each year Toastmasters International presents the Golden Gavel award to an individual who has distinguished himself or herself in the fields of communication and leadership. This year the award went to our fellow Malaysian Dato' Rohana Rozhan, CEO of Astro Malaysia Holdings Berhad. She joins a select group of luminaries that include past recipients Steven Covey, Deepak Chopra and Anthony Robbins. Dato' Rohana's acceptance speech gave us another reason to feel proud we are Malaysians. 

The highlight of the final day was the World Championship of Public Speaking. Prior to the convention, a total of 30,000 Toastmasters worldwide had already participated at their home club level. This was narrowed down to 90 contestants in nine rounds of semi-finals at the convention, and only nine made it through to the final round. These were the creme de la creme of Toastmasters' best speakers. Imagine what a feat it is to win the coveted title of World Champion of Public Speaking. This year the winner (hands down) was Dananjaya Hettiarachchi, representing District 82 (India and Sri Lanka). He completely won over the entire audience with his faultless delivery.

Here's a video of his winning speech "I see something in you, but I don't know what it is".

If you are looking to build confidence in speaking to an audience, whether it is to your department staff, seminar participants or club members, Toastmasters is undeniably the best program to help you reach that goal. You pay only US$36 every six months, that works out to around RM20 a month! Unbelievable value for money!

And that's not all, new members pay a registration fee of US$20 and get two manuals to start them off on their Toastmasters journey. The Competent Communication manual guides you through 10 assignment speeches each focusing on a different aspect of public speaking. e.g. how to organize your speech, how to use visual aids, vocal variety and body language.

The Competent Leadership manual contains a wide range of roles that you are encouraged to take up. These include chairing a meeting, organizing a speech contest, evaluating a club meeting and mentoring a new member.

Members also receive a copy of the Toastmasters magazine every month. It is packed with loads of excellent articles on how to improve your communication and leadership skills.

Toastmasters believe in learning by doing, in a friendly and supportive club environment. You learn to improve your speaking skills by speaking, and you learn to be a leader by taking on leadership roles. All speeches and roles are evaluated by other members. So you get instant feedback on where you did well, and where you need to improve.

When you have completed both the manuals, you get two certificates issued by Toastmasters International, USA, that qualify you to be addressed as Competent Communicator (CC) and Competent Leader (CL).

How to build confidence in public speaking; Advanced manuals cover a wide range of topics.

These are only the basic manuals. Members are encouraged to go for the Advanced Manuals. When they have completed all the levels, they are awarded the Distinguished Toastmaster status or DTM.

What I have laid out above are only some of the many benefits that you get to enjoy when you join Toastmasters. There are members who have been in Toastmasters for 30 years or more. I joined Maxis Toastmasters Club in 2005, and after nine years, I still consider it the best investment I have made in my personal development.

Dr Ralph Smedley, founder of Toastmasters. The organization has enjoyed rapid growth since 1924.

Whether you are a young professional seeking to climb up the career ladder, an entrepreneur hoping to reach out to more customers, or just a volunteer working with a non-profit organization, Toastmasters gives you the essential tools to help you achieve your objectives.

So if you would like to know more more Toastmasters and you are residing in Malaysia, you might want to check out the website at https://www.toastmasters.org/Find-a-Club/07697900-malaysia-online.