Money in Business

Continuing from the business series, this post is my notes on money matters in business.

It is easy to get confused about finance or accounting. Many people gets scared when they hear about it. Balance sheet, ROCE, ROI, IRR, NPV, DCF, WACC, CAGR, etc. etc. But when it comes to money in business, there is one principle that takes precedence above the rest.

1. The principle is this: You must collect your money.

Many businesses go bust because they fail to collect their debts. This is a major chronic situation, especially so in desperation to get sales. The best type of businesses are those that collect cash upfront before delivery of goods or services. Heck, the best are those who collect upfront before production starts.

In the course of business, it is easy to forget this principle because the sales numbers are so tempting. And the apparent “friendliness” of your customers makes you believe that they will pay you on the dot. Most of the time, they don’t.

It has to be clear in your mind this thought: bad debts are worse than no sales.

Imagine that you earn 10% profits on your sales. If you fail to collect on just one job, you will have to do 10 more jobs of equal size and margin just to cover the debt that you failed to collect. This is a disaster!

2. The next principle is that you must pay your staff and suppliers on time. And if you have salespersons that earns commissions, you must also pay them on the dot.

Paying people on time establishes trust. Paying salespersons’ commission on time establishes motivation. And these are the people that supports the business, your suppliers and staff. Understand that without their support, for example, if suppliers stop delivering to you on time because you do not pay on time, or they do not deliver high quality raw materials to you, your end products will also reflect such inferior quality. Also, if you do not pay your staff on time, they will sooner or later look for other jobs and those who remain either is your secret admirer hoping one day to be able to marry you or those who cannot find a job elsewhere, which means you are keeping people that nobody else wants.

3. The third principle on money in business is to think of Inventory (stocks) as the devil that needs to be cast away. Inventory eats you dry. You should target zero inventory. Having inventory as “assets” is an accounting laughingstock because inventory is cost.

The problem with inventory is that you expect you can realize them in the future, turning them into cash. The sad truth is that a lot of inventory goes to scrap, and the cash spent to stock them also goes down the drain. This is not a smart thing to do.

Actually, all the above is what we call working capital management, or the cash cycle. It is how fast you get back the cash that you invested into the business and turn a profit. The shorter the time, the better off you are.

For example, imagine if you are selling handphones. The best scenario is your customers pay you upfront the full price of the handphone and then you use that money to buy the handphone from your supplier and then pass the handphone to your customer, keeping the profits in your pocket.

The worst scenario is you stock up one thousand phones hoping that you will sell all of them.

Collecting all the cash upfront is usually not possible nor realistic but you must at least get a deposit. This is a must.

There may be customers that you need to give some credit but still, you need to get some deposits or downpayment. The reason is very simple. If they are genuine customers, why is it that they cannot pay something upfront, as earnest money? And having a deposit will reduce the chances of them canceling the order after you have bought the raw materials/stocks.

If there is one person that is your friend in your finance department, that person is the credit control manager. Have him or her report to you directly. Have standard operating procedures and credit risk management policies in place. Make them inviolable. Stick to your guns, always remembering that one bad debt will take many good sales to recover, so don’t be greedy.

Bad things happen to greedy people.

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Principles of Business

As I am trying to write and distill what I learnt so far in business, I have come up with the following principles of business. They are actually pretty common sense but many people do get lost along the way and I thought I will post it here to remind myself. Each principle can easily be expandable and elaborated on but for my current convenience, I will just simply state it first.

1. To be in business, you need to sell things that people want to buy.

2. To make things that people want to buy, your products must be superior to your competitors’.

3. To create people’s desire to buy your superior products, you must first make people aware that your products exist.

4. When the people are aware of the existence of your products, you must make it convenient for them to purchase it.

So as you can see, the principles are pretty common sense and general but each can be further elaborated on. First you need to know what people want to buy. There are a million things that people wants to buy, so how do you decide what to sell? The guiding light will be to sell what you are good at, extraordinarily good at. Not just that you are good, but you are at least the best amongst your family, friends and acquaintances. So what is it? If you cannot figure this out at this point in time, do not proceed.

Next, how to make your products superior to your competitors. The first thing to know here is who are your competitors. Your competitors need not be those who sell the exact same products or service that you sell. Your competitors also consist of people offering alternative solution. For example, the competitor of a burger seller are not just other burger sellers but also the noodle store, the rice stall etc. because they offer the same solution to the problem. For example, in entertainment, the competitor of the TV box are not just merely those other TV channels but also the mobile phone, the iPad, the Mac or PC, etc. So after you figured out what you are really good at, then figure out who will be your competitors if you go into business and how can you be better than them. Even if you cook the best pasta amongst your family, friends and acquaintances, that doesn’t mean your pasta is better than the one across the street if you decide to start a pasta shop.

And then you need to spend a lot of time innovating. Your pasta may be the best now but they may no longer be so 6 months down the road. Look ahead of the curve. Improve your products. Innovate like mad, whether products or processes. Always strive to be better and better, just like a 100m sprinter always working so hard to clock a better time. Listen to customers. Observe behaviors and trends. Make innovation a process so that you can remain the best all the time.

Now, you are really good at something, and you know your pasta is the best in the neighborhood because you have tasted every single pasta shop, you still sell zero if no one knows you exists, that your pasta is the best in town. This is where marketing comes in. You need to shout, make every single person know that you exists and you have the best stuff in town. Do not be shy. Shout. Bang your pots and pans. Make yourself well known. Give no apologies for being the loudest to tell everyone you are the best there is.

And after everyone knows you exists and have the best pasta in town, they must be able to buy it, godamit. What is the use of a line of a hundred people if you can only cook one bowl of pasta every 30 minutes. Or that your stall is so inaccessible, going there is a major chore and hazard. In industry, for example, this is operations and customer service. You must always be contactable, accessible. You must always show your face and make it easy for people to do business with you. You must always be able to offer solution faster than anybody else in business. You must be there.

Push your products. Tell them why your products are so good. Show them that they will never get fired choosing you. Prove to them that you will always be there all the time, anytime. Keep in touch. Send cards. Do whatever it takes so that you will be there when they need you and you can neatly offer a superior solution to their problems, on budget, on time.

And of course, underlying it all, you need to have a great team but that is another major subject which I have touched on in my previous post.

So let’s think about every step in our daily business. Where are you at?

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The Business of Management

There are way more managers than entrepreneurs. Management is part of Entrepreneurship but there will be no Management if there are no Entrepreneurs. This post is about Management, especially so Management in a reasonably established and reasonably large enterprise. This is because I have never been an entrepreneur myself, those that starts businesses from scratch. The most part of my working life is spent being an employee, safe from having to burn my own pocket if the business fails and as such cannot really understand the thoughts and decisions that go through an entrepreneur’s mind. Only in the past several years where I begin to have some ownership in a business that these decisions and actions made some sense for me.

But this post is about Management. In my mind, there are two very distinct areas where their failure can be crippling. The first is Human Capital. The second is Growth. The former takes precedence in everything Management and is by far the hardest.

There are many books and courses that talks about that topic, those comes immediately to mind will be Jim Collin’s GOOD TO GREAT (get the right people on the bus), Patrick Lencioni’s THE ADVANTAGE, Marcus Buckingham’s FIRST, BREAK ALL THE RULES, Marc Effron and Miriam Ort’s ONE PAGE TALENT MANAGEMENT, Peter Senge’s THE FIFTH DISCIPLINE, Dave Ulrich’s HR TRANSFORMATION, Jack Welch’s WINNING to name a few pretty good ones.

What I have distilled from these books and courses and from real life experience are as follows:

1. First, you must establish a stable and consistent environment for people to work in. If the company is perpetually in a state of chaos and there exists a sense of uncertainty for the future, it is hard for the company to grow. It is like trying to grow a tree on unstable soil. The tree will never grow to become big and strong.

2. Hand in hand with the above, the people must believe in the future of the company and believe that the company’s future is also their future. The company’s success will be their success. It is important for the leadership team to not only paint the future of the company (many company does this via their mission/vision statements that are sometime so artificial, I believe they do it because of some corporate exercise), but to communicate and live this future. Everyone in the company must be made to know what this future is and how they can contribute to it, and everything the company does, its actions and culture must be aligned to it. The company must walk the talk.

3. Fairness. Animals, not only human beings, have a very strong instinct for fairness. It is ok to suffer together but if it is perceived that some people enjoy and some people suffers, it will turn the company upside down. Compensation and benefits, incentive systems, must be fair. In this sense, fair does not mean same. Fair here means those who works gets fairly rewarded and acknowledged, those who does not contribute are “corrected” or managed out. Rewards and incentives, opportunities to move up the ladder, must be as clear as daylight. Everyone in the company must know what will be rewarded and what will be punished.

4. Candor and transparency. The pre-requisite for fairness is candor and transparency. Without this, no one will believe in the system. This is especially true with the younger generation of employees, the oft-labelled Gen Y. But this is true to all levels of employees, not only Gen Y’s. Candor and transparency is already a pre-requisite before the advent of social media, blogs and such. It is just convenient to blame them. Candor and transparency will bust through gossips, red tapes, fakeness and all those dark evil. Candor and transparency is like the Sun, casting away all evils and vampires.

Contrary to many popular believes, people do not really need a superstar leader. People do not need a rock star CEO. People needs an honest, hardworking CEOs with a vision for the future and the ability to get everyone in the company to work towards that vision of success. People need a CEO or leadership team that they can trust their future on.

Then the Growth Imperative, as coined by Clayton Christensen in his book THE INNOVATOR’S SOLUTION. Philp Kotler’s MARKET YOUR WAY TO GROWTH is another book at sheds valuable insights in this area.

There is no question that growth is important to any company. But really, many company’s problem is not growth itself which in my mind is really a by product. Like money is a by product of great efforts, growth is a by product of great efforts too. Many companies do not grow or even fail because they are stubborn and their execution sucks.

Jim Collin’s GREAT BY CHOICE talks about the 20 Mile March. This disciplined, self-controlled strive towards a set direction and vision, with clear milestone markers really sets those who perform in the long term than those who fails trying too bombastically. It is important to set the company on this path of growth and communicate this clearly downwards. This is true of all execution, from product innovation, mergers and acquisition, entering new markets, business development etc.

There are a few observations that I have made:

1. There are too much emphasis on new products or new product categories. The reality is that improvements in existing products is much more important, and the fact is a lot of sales are still generated by these so-called “old” products. Yes, there may be products that need to be phased out but have you listened to the customers enough? Often, you don’t really need a “wow!” to grow top line revenue. Service, building trust with customers, improving on existing products and service (such as turnaround time), far trumps the birth of “wow!” products or product categories.

2. Once you determine any improvements or new product innovation, your execution must be flawless. If you consistently miss launch times, or when having launch the prototype but takes forever for the product to get out, whether is is mould problems, or tooling problems etc. will diminish a lot of trust from your sales persons (and we are not talking about customers yet because your sales persons are your immediate and first customer!). If your sales people do not believe in you, how would you think they can sell?

3. When entering a new market, you have to be prudent. Many people will advice that you spend big, invest heavily, make a presence. Most often, you will find yourself losing a ton of money before you can even see a cent of return. Making alliances is fine and in many cases the cornerstone of success but you cannot trust them with your farm. You have always to have a watchful eye on their activities with regular reports and most importantly, regular conversations with them and with people in the industry. Stick to your core business. Do what you know. If you open a restaurant, make sure you yourself know how to cook, and cook well. Ultimately, the successful running of a company in a foreign market depends on the strength of your local team. You have got to have a strong local team that is loyal to you and believe in the company. Align their incentives as such. Make them co-owners. No company can be strong if they do not have a strong local team.

Ok, enough ranting in this post. Time to go out and play some Go. In future posts, I may talk about my thoughts on operations and their many practices, e.g. Lean and such but no such initiative is possible if the company does not meet some criteria and no book says it better than Karen Martin’s THE OUTSTANDING ORGANIZATION.

By the way, no Management training is complete if one has not internalized Peter Drucker’s books, most notably MANAGEMENT: TASKS, RESPONSIBILITIES, PRACTICES, THE EFFECTIVE EXECUTIVE, MANAGING ONESELF, MANAGING FOR RESULTS, MANAGEMENT FOR THE 21ST CENTURY and INNOVATION & ENTREPRENEURSHIP.

Books mentioned in this post:

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The Future of Facebook

Any comments about the future are risky. The reason is obvious. If your prediction is wrong, you might be condemned and if you are right, you won’t get any prizes, in fact, no one might even acknowledge you. But this is not right from a moral point of view because both these reasons demonstrate human weakness, in the former case, the weakness of fear and in the latter, the weakness of unchecked ego.

I shall therefore proceed with this post about the future of Facebook. At least my Facebook.

In the beginning, Facebook was a revelation. Suddenly, I know what my friends and family are up to. Suddenly I get to connect not only with old friends from school but also with some vague celebrity of some sort that I am actually not very close with, but just merely an acquaintance at best due to the nature of my work. But the feeling was one of vague superiority, although I did not get into the race in having the most number of friends amongst my friends. At least not that vain.

As the experience of Facebook progressed, I became more discerning and stopped the rate of adding friends. But it is still a great tool to keep in touch with some friends and activities, such as Go related activities or board game related activities which I enjoy. I also enjoy the photos and stories posted by friends, some of them very inspirational. I also posted many photos and activities to share with my friends.

However, I only realized recently a few things on my Facebook activities. Not that I run an analytics about it (which I believe those guys at Facebook has) but just a reflection on my Facebook activities. I realized the following:

1. At the most, I communicate and participate in the activities of a small handful of my friends. I believe the number to be no more than 50 active participations. The rest are inactive. Their status and posts do pop up in my wall but I have no participation in them, sometimes not even interest. They have no consequences whatsoever in my life.

2. I sometimes get a feeling of disgust, to put it less mildly, at some posts. With all due respects, these posts are generally religious in nature. I know that the intent is good, the spreading of religious wisdom etc. but most of the time, it gets on my nerve. It gets preachy and gives me a holier-than-thou kind of feeling. My believe is religion should be a private affair, between you and God, something that you just believe and do, just do good, not talking good.

3. A show off affair. Yes, indeed it often feels like that. I myself is guilty of it sometimes. The need to show off is a result of an inferiority complex. The difference between showing off and sharing is one fine line. Sharing pictures of what you had for dinner in a particular restaurant and recommending the food because it is good is not show off. It is sharing. On the other hand, showing the food you eat in a business class flight is showing off.

I think Facebook, or at least my Facebook, will eventually become:

1. A network of very small group of family and friends where everyone in the group wants to know what each other are up to and not minding the food or vacation picture you put up, not to mention baby pictures (aarrgghh!). For me this group is at most around 50 people who are really close with me. This includes Facebook friends who are actively participating in my Facebook activities or those whom I participate in actively.

2. Facebook will eventually turn into a marketing tool, and a good one. And this is the reason to buy Facebook stocks because I think there is tremendous upside. I will find myself member of groups that interests me, such as board games, and would like to keep updated on the activities of the group. I might eventually make some purchases because of it. The main difference is the sincerity of the group. For example, the Boardgamecafe group is marvelous and superbly well run. I truly enjoy reading about their activities and explore the games that they played. This is a bunch of sincere board gamers who love to share their boardgame experience. Another example will be Go related groups, such as GoGameGuru, another superbly run company.

As such, the future of my Facebook will be one where I will have a very limited number of “friends”. This will also avoid annoying others with my posts the same way that some posts annoy me. I will keep in a separate group some people that interests me, people that I want to know their development and what is happening with them. But these people shall be spared from some of my posts meant for sharing with my group of close family and friends. I will also participate in groups that interest me, groups where I can contribute to and be active in. I think this will make my Facebook activities more meaningful and relevant.

The rest are crap.

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The Watery Worlds: Kerala’s Backwaters, Ha Long Bay and Venice

The natural progression for the travel journal after Vienna should be Venice but since we did not spend much time in Venice and since we just visited Ha Long Bay, might as well I do a two in one. And then as I started to write, I remembered how the experience in Ha Long Bay reminded me of the experience in the Backwaters of Kerala. We have similarly spent one night on the boat in the Backwaters as we did in Ha Long Bay and we did cruised and enjoyed the same carefreeness, if such a word exists.

Ha Long Bay is picturesque and the sights are pretty amazing. But that place felt very touristy and lacking in some character. The Backwaters, although there are also many tour operators there, the environment did not feel as congested as Ha Long Bay. The atmosphere was more relaxed and there are tons of character. But perhaps I am not comparing apple to apple. In the Backwaters, we had a whole boat to ourselves with our own captain and private cook. And it also costs much less than the Ha Long Bay trip.

Comparatively, I will visit the Backwaters again without having to think but I don’t think I want to return to Ha Long Bay. Picture to picture, the Backwaters does not seems at all comparable to those magnificent limestone hills of Ha Long Bay but there is a natural calm to the Backwaters, and definitely much more authentic.

What about Venice? A completely different animal altogether. It does not have the natural surroundings of the Backwaters nor Ha Long Bay but instead is surrounded by many beautiful buildings with some very nice architecture. Although it is somewhat a tourist city, in itself it has a lot of life. It is a real city where real people live and work and has a life. The way the canals run through those beautiful old buildings makes it one of the most beautiful cities I have visited. We did not spend enough time in Venice but will I return to Venice? Definitely.

The Backwaters is a small town on water. Venice is a city on water. Ha Long Bay is a tourist destination on water.

Pictures say a thousand words, so here they are.

VENICE, ITALY

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BACKWATERS, KERALA, INDIA

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HA LONG BAY, VIETNAM

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halong10So what’s your take?

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Vienna, a Tribute to Gustav Mahler. Movies.

Vienna has always been sort of a teenage dream. At that time, I only knew it was the land of classical music. Only later did I know it has so much more but then again, it was how all the dream to visit Vienna started, i.e. it being a musical dreamland. Then in my twenties, Vienna is a must visit place, sort of like a personal pilgrimage, to pay respects to none other than the great Gustav Mahler.

I cannot remember how I got so deep into Mahler. Something about his music speaks to me. I remember Ted Dorall from the New Straits Times whom I have gotten quite close to at that time (like 13 years ago?) asked me why such a great fascination for Mahler but I cannot remember exactly how I answered him although I remembered then going into a discussion on THE CATCHER IN THE RYE and why he didn’t like Holden and thereafter went into a bit of Hemingway’s A MOVEABLE FEAST. The last time I saw him, he was moving to Penang and gave me a compilation of Hemingway’s short stories as a parting gift.

Continuing from the previous travel journal, we took a train from Prague to Vienna. The first thing we did after checking into the hotel was to go and see the Wiener Staatsoper, the famous Vienna State Opera. Of course it has such great history but for me, all that was in my mind that evening was Gustav Mahler and his time there. It is a dream come true, to be standing at the place where Mahler stood.

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Nothing beats being in the hall itself and having bought the ticket to Mozart’s LA CLEMENZA DI TITO, we indulged in an evening of musical extravaganza. This opera by Mozart is from his later period and is much less well known compared to the likes of THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO or THE MAGIC FLUTE but I felt that opera to be quite deep and engaging. It seems that this opera which was previously believed to be an inferior opera is now beginning to get a revival and was also favorably performed by The Metropolitan Opera in New York.

IMG_0279The little LED panel (blue light) at the back of the seats let’s you choose subtitles for the opera.

IMG_0292The orchestra pit right in front of the stage. I can’t help but imagine Mahler conducting there, although it is now different from Mahler’s time.

staatsbackWe also went for a tour of the opera house and was shown around, including a room named after Mahler. The picture above is the backstage.

A Mahlerite’s visit to Vienna cannot be complete without paying respects to Mahler at Grinzing where he was buried. I sat there by his grave and listened to the whole of his 5th Symphony. It was a wonderful day. The sky was clear and there was light breeze. The weather was slightly cool but not too cold. The place was quite empty and sitting there with his music, I cannot help but shed a few tears.

Woody Allen in his film MANHATTAN asked what makes life worth living.

For me, what makes life worth living comprises of moments like this. Sitting there, I try to figure out what life is all about. I still don’t know but at the moment, and many other moments, I felt it. What makes life worth living is the immense depth of the human spirit and the immense possibility to experience and enjoy them, be part of that human movement. What makes life worth living is the people that makes it worth living. Family and friends. Together appreciating these wonderful human creation and spirit, be it the making and/or appreciation of music, films, art, literature, food, poetry, playing GO….. and hopefully be part of this spirit, contributing whatever little we can to this human world.

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Besides the many sightings of Mahler, e.g. a bronze plate here and there, a street named after him, he also has his own section in the House of Music (Haus der Musik). There are many memorabilia there, including his favorite cap and some letters in his own handwriting. Although it is not a very large exhibition, there is enough Mahler there for me to spend some time.

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All in all, we had a great time with Mahler in Vienna.

Besides Mahler, we also indulged in some movie experience and the best was to go down the Viennese sewers just like Carol Reed’s movie THE THIRD MAN. It is truly an out of the world experience! It has to be a once in a lifetime experience and a must-do if you are a movie fan. Uber-cool.

3rd1Going down into the sewers.

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The guide who knows the movie inside out.

3rd2A picture inside the sewers in black and white.

Besides THE THIRD MAN experience, we were lucky that the Vienna International Film Festival is being held there. And there is a retrospective on Fritz Lang. We immediately bought tickets to his DR. MABUSE THE GAMBLER. It was a 4 hour show in Black and White. Not to mention a silent movie! The pianist did a magnificent job, accompanying the show for 4 hours without rest. It was a new experience for me doing that, and at some point in time, it was also hard for me although Fritz Lang is not a stranger to me having watched METROPOLIS and M, two of his most famous works.

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IMG_3551Waiting to go into the screening hall.

There is so much to Vienna that such a short time cannot do justice to it. There are still many things to explore. I am not talking about buildings and monuments and such. Those things are what many tourists do. They visit a place and takes as many pictures of buildings and monuments as they can.

What I am saying is to have more time to explore the place a bit. Stay there and work there for a while if possible. To know the people and what they really do. Then to dig deeper into the culture and food. But as tourists, it is very hard to do that. But any touring cannot just be visiting buildings and monuments but with whatever little time, one needs to explore the arts and culture, not to mention exploring local food.

If not, why not just stay at home and watch Discovery Channel and if there is a need, use Photoshop and paste your own picture on those buildings and monuments? That way, it saves a lot of money.

(some photo credit many thanks to Kit Liew!)

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Prague….. not so Kafkaesque after all.

Having been lazy and following on from Taipei, I thought I would add a post on the travel journal slot for the trip to Prague last autumn. Vienna, Venice and Rome will have to wait a bit. Memories are very peculiar in a way not dissimilar to what Tagore said, something to this effect:

“I do not know who has painted the pictures of my life imprinted on my memory. But whoever he is, he is an artist. He does not take up his brush simply to copy everything that happens; he retains or omits things just as he fancies; he makes many a big thing small and small thing big; he does not hesitate to exchange things in the foreground with things in the background. In short, his task is to paint pictures, not to write history. The flow of events forms our external life, while within us a series of pictures is painted. The two correspond, but are not identical.”

I feel the same way too. What I desire in my memory is not an exact blow by blow, second by second “true” account of what exactly happened. That will be too sterile and unromantic.

The memories of Prague is one of a giant Disneyland. This is perhaps due to the nature of my visit, i.e. we are merely tourists. But that city is one magical place. The buildings silently speak untold stories it witnessed through its turbulent history. I was impressed with how dog friendly that city is, how bicycle friendly, and what a good transportation system it has. All the hallmarks of an advanced and civic conscious city, which took me a bit by surprise. It makes me reflect on my own city and what a substandard job our city management has done comparatively.

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The beautiful subway station. Well maintained and clean.

But of course, mentioning Prague will inevitably trigger my admiration first and foremost for Franz Kafka and also, but to a lesser extent, Dvořák and Smetana. Surely, Prague has been the host to many others. Mozart once said that the people of Prague understands him. Einstein found Prague to be a great place conducive for him to immerse himself in thoughts and further crystalize his theories on relativity.

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Franz Kafka Museum. Not a big place but the atmosphere inside and the music is unmistakably Kafkaesque!

But no one that ever comes to Prague can miss the vein that runs through this city, the Vltava River. One of my best memories of Prague, besides the morning walk on the Petrin Hill where I have foolishly caught a cold, was to walk by the bank of the Vltava River and listening to Smetana’s MA VLAST (My Country) where the river’s name was featured as one of the six symphonic poems. It is a wonderful piece of music and listening to that piece by the bank of the river, watching the swans swimming in the most carefree manner is one of the high points of the trip.

It is one of those memories what I pray will not fade from my feelings and my mind. And this is one of the reasons to be alive, to be happy, a reason to celebrate life! Memories like this makes life worth living.

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By the bank of the Vltava River

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A Kafka statue. Guess which story this is from.

There is music everywhere. Truly a city of arts and culture.

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Street musicians abound. 

We went for a performance of SWAN LAKE which was so-so. On our final night, we had a sublime performance in the Smetana Hall playing Ravel and Gershwin.

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Some more pictures of Prague:

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Autumn on Petrin Hill

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Street artists on the Charles Bridge

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Municipal House, home to the Czech National Symphony Orchestra.

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Tram lines. Great transportation system in Prague.

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Night scene from the Old Town area. 

Prague is a magical city.

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