Sunday, 16 May 2021

Good Reads/Podcasts/Videos: April 2021

A very very late post (Wow wait we've already passed the midpoint of May?). We're back into lockdown, and I've been keeping myself busy by baking cookies, my new side gig. Hoping to be able to share more about this in an upcoming blog post :D. But for now, here's a round-up of some of the Good Reads/Podcasts/Videos I've came across in April 2021. 

1. Are some homebuyers in Malaysia paid to borrow and buy? - Edge Prop

Some of the key points from this article: 

- Number of properties going into auction in Malaysia has been going on a worrying uptrend since 2015. In fact, the value of properties ending up in auction has been growing at a much faster pace compared with annual new property sales.
- We have a large overhang of unsold properties but developers are still aggressively launching new projects at a high price.
- Property prices in the secondary market is weak, which is reflective of the real underlying property demand. See the disconnect here? 
- The auction reserve price is just about 78%, on average, of the Sale & Purchase Agreement (SPA) price, based on the data collected in this article, compared to our neighbour Singapore, where the auction reserve price does not run far from the actual SPA price.

Why is this happening? The writer deduced that the SPA price might be artificially inflated by the developer — above the prevailing market prices for similar units within the vicinity. 

This is an open secret that some developers then offer discounts-rebates to homebuyers — typically 10% of the SPA price, in some cases much more. In other words, the SPA price is overstated by at least 10%.

Mortgages are given based on SPA pricing. For example, buyers can get up to 90% loan on this amount for their first two properties. Therefore, by inflating the SPA price, homebuyers are incentivised to buy because they can now effectively obtain 100% financing. House price = SPA price less 10% discount = total mortgage financing.

A lot of property marketing /discount scheme now suddenly makes a lot of sense to me. I was often confused about how some people tell me they managed to obtain up to 100% financing, and now I can see the whys and hows. 

2. Leading Difficult Conversations with Emotional Intelligence - Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence 

This was part of the readings provided in the Managing Emotions in Times of Uncertainty & Stress online course I took in April. It is a set of reminders for us when we're engaging in difficult conversations, or when we are going through difficult times.

We've just entered into MCO 3.0, the second round of lockdown this year. We are going through difficult times now - I'd like to acknowledge that I am feeling rather upset, when I've slowly gotten used to going out a little, meeting more friends. And these feelings are normal too - we've been under lockdown on and off. Most of us are experiencing some sort of lockdown fatigue.

But I understand that the situation now is dire and we should all do our part and stay home. 

I'd still like to be grateful that I still have a roof over my head. To have food on my table. To still have friends I can talk to when I need them. 

(This is me practising the reminders in this article - to acknowledge and accept what I'm going through and feeling, and to be grateful for what I have)

3. THE GREAT MENTAL MODELS by Shane Parrish - Productivity Game

This is a summary of the book, The Great Mental Models by Shane Parrish. I really love the three foundations of thinking presented in this book, namely the I.F.S.:

1) Inversion
- if you're facing difficulty solving a problem/brainstorming for an idea, try inverting your problem
- eg: instead of thinking about how to create a fun & interactive lesson, think of how you can create a boring and dull lesson - and avoid them!

2) First Principle Thinking 
- Drill down to why a solution works - question and drill down to why existing solutions work, find out the fundamental component on why it works!
- Eg: if your friend is enjoying his/her career, try to drill down why he/she likes the career, don't stop at the face value! Use the first principle of thinking and drill down to the why(s) 
- Examine, test and understand solutions 

3) Second-Order Thinking
- Before implementing a solution/taking an action, think beyond the outcome you're going for, and try to think of the reaction you might get from your actions, to avoid disastrous consequences 
- Eg: you are a CEO of the company trying to get your employees back to the office after working from home for a year. Your intended outcome is to improve the culture, which might be achievable by getting everyone back to the office. However, what is some of the reactions you may obtain that will lead to unintended consequences? Employees might feel unsafe or realise how much they dislike commuting every day, after being used to working from home for so long and might eventually leave the company 

This book is definitely on my to-read list! 

4. The Insanely Simple Way I Learned To Be Useful In Every Meeting - Fast Company

Meetings. We all have a love-hate relationship with meetings. There are times where we might not have a total understanding and grasps of what is going on in the meeting. 

My main takeaway from this article is to not pretend you know everything if you ever find yourself in this situation. Pretending to know something takes up headspace. Instead, focus on what you will allow you to better showcase your strength. Take a step back from the urge of wanting to pretend that you know everything. 

5. Why we’re experiencing ‘Zoom fatigue’ and how to fix it - CNBC

Oh yes, in this era of Zoom, 'Zoom fatigue' is a real thing many are experiencing. It doesn't help that we're back in lockdown again, where we're forced to shift all our meetings and social interaction to online platform. I often feel drained and it takes some time for me to recover my productivity back after having a Zoom conference so this article was helpful in helping me delve into the whys of this, and the hows on how to overcome this.

The four main reason why we experience 'Zoom fatigue':
- Videoconferencing forces users to make extended eye contact
- It requires us to use nonverbal signals, such as nodding, which require more effort
- The little box where users see themselves is unnatural
- Users are forced to sit in one place.

Ways to overcome 'Zoom fatigue':
- Hide self-view.
- Shrink the Zoom window to make other people a little bit smaller, or sit further away from your screen 
- Turn off your camera and take a five-minute audio-only break during a long meeting to give yourself a chance to move around.
- Set cultural norms with your co-workers that it’s OK to turn off the camera sometimes.

Personally, want to try hiding my own camera view the next time I feel exhausted from Zoom meetings.

That's it for the Good Reads/Podcasts/Videos of the month! Stay safe and take care everyone! 

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