Friday, October 18, 2013

People Watching

After months of solitude, the hermit has had enough of her own company (God, is she depressing). I have since christened my neighbourhood Starbucks as my office. Wifi, caffeine and many a distraction. What's not to love (besides the coffee).

Hipsters bump chairs with insurance sales people who try to talk above the loud businessmen with their mobile phones - oblivious to the student looking to stay as long as she can with her homework and a tumbler of discounted Americano.

My least favourite patron is the loud contractor businessman who unabashedly suck up to Datuks and in a heartbeat spew insults into his Samsung handheld presumably to some underling. Yes la. We know you are important hot shot la. Ok, so its a million dollar deal. Still not your money right?

Which makes me wonder if this is the real face of business in Malaysia. That it is brash and loud and manipulative. The sub-prime mess was a result of an unconscionable Wall Street yet I am not sure if lessons are suitably learnt.

The rethoric of all encompasing economic reform is jarringly different from the financial pages which still is all about one upmanship - how do you make more money, safeguard your intrest and get ahead of everyone else.

While our social entreprenurs talk about sustainability and social responsibility, a running theme in every feel good TedTalk there is, our bankers are still telling us how to run our businesses and build debt, governments tell us how to live our lives (chicken too expensive, dont each chicken lah) and society still reveres the financial tycoon who fights tooth and nail to delay the implementation of minimum wage.

I reject the notion that making money has to be at the expense of society. Microfinancing and crowd sourcing are wonderful new paradigms that make up today's economic and social narrative. It still begs the question of how many of our current industries will support and participate in a new economy where there is no place for corruption and old world bad behaviour. I feel my MBA materials are obsolete already.

The businessman with the Samsung handheld looks at me and shifts his eyes. Somehow I am not feeling optimistic.

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