Archive for September, 2004

Saw the new day

It is 6:30.
Dawn is breaking, darkness is over.
I am at work, it is so quiet. Just me and my machine watching the program go. A couple of problems, all resolved now.
It is not that bad after all.
I actually worshiped by myself at dawn. It was quite refreshing.



I have this moonlighting job which I do once in a while. I work as a simultaneous translator for focus groups. I know this market researcher (He is an interesting fellow, he did Ph.D. in Psychology on organization behavior and later he started he own marketing research company) and he does market research on Chinese speaking consumers. So he gets a bunch of Cantonese speaking people together for focus groups. They will talk in a room with a one way mirror and I’ll listen in and simultaneously translate the conversation (in Cantonese of course) into English for the clients who are listening in.

The job is really interesting, I get to listen to some raw human behavior. A lot of time the dialogue is of the type “Why do you like this product?”, which can be quite boring but at times the responses are just hilarious. I also learn a lot about facilitating a group discussion. On top of that I got to see how real marketing is done in the corporate world.
I keep thinking may be the church should do some focus groups too so we can reach people more effectively.

Another friend of mine who is a venture capital manger asked me once : “What should be the output of a church? Also, what is the ROR (rate of return) like?” At first I dismiss this as purely secular thinking. Then I realize it is a question worth thinking about. Efficiency is not a monopoly of the secular world. Particularly if I look at people burning out, we need to allocate human resources in the church in a effective way.

Now to some fun stuff, here are some real things people said in the groups (not just the last 2 nights) :

(A TV commercial of Pepsi with F4 was shown. F4 is a boys group from Taiwan like the Backstreet Boys.)
Q:”Why do you like this commercial?”
A:(from a female participant)”I like F4.” (giggles)
Q:”Can you tell me what do you like about them?”
A:”I really like them.” (more giggles)
Q:”Can you elaborate a bit why you like them?”
A”I just really like to look at them.” (even more giggles)”
And this is from a woman who was dressed in Bay Street uniform, i.e. dark suit, white blouse and black attache.

Q:”Why don’t you like the commercial?”
A:(from a male participant)”I don’t like F4.”
Q:”Why not?”
A:”They are guys, I want to see chicks, any commercial without chicks is boring.”
He said it so naturally that even the moderator was taken aback for a second. He reminded me of a buddy of mine. He added some more comments later but this blog is PG-13. so bleep.

(The moderator was probing for the hobbies of the group)
Q:”Do you have a hobby?”
A:(A mid-aged stern looking woman)”I play the piano.”
Q:”Wow, what music do you like to play?”
A:”Hymns, I only play hymns.”
She kind of looked upwards after her response. I was expecting a chorus of PTLs but that never came. However, a halo did appear above her head. Again the moderator was a bit stunned by the response.

The subject this night was snacks. The moderator unloaded 2 boxes of different kind of snacks. (Like those you find at Auntie Mary’s place.) There were seven girls (age 18-20) in the group.
“Wow”, giggles, slight scream,”wah”, “I just had this”, “This is soooo good” ,”Oh, wasabi peas”, “ahya, can I open this”… and it went on for a few minutes. I stopped translating. One of the clients looked at me as if asking me, why did I stopped. I handed her the headphone while the cacophony continued. She listened and smiled at me. Girls-talk have no language barrier.

Q:”How would you describe yourself as a snack person?” (The clients and myself included took that to mean what’s your snacking habits like.)
A:(A skinny little guy) “Chocolate.”
Q:”Pardon me, did you say chocolate?”
A:”Yes, chocolate, you know some chocolate have fillings, hard outside, soft inside.” He said softly with hand motions.
eeeck…goose pimple…

Q:”When do you usually snacks?”
A:”before supper and after supper, at school, in class, in malls, watching tv or dvd and sometimes and if I do not feel like having breakfast.”
I was thinking, it would be easier to ask him when he does not snack.

Q:”Can you describe what kind of a snack person are you?”
A:”totally out of control, I spent at least 30% of my salary on snacks.”
If she were making $1000 a month, she is spending over $300 a month on snacks??? That is like 300 packs of KitKat a month. That is like 10 a day!!! OK Hong Kong snacks are more expansive. Still that is like 100 packs of stuff a month or like 3 to 4 packs a day!!