Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Holidays

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

May your Christmas be BIG with love, life and good health. May 2008 bring BIG things to be grateful for!

Jonathan Ong
President / Training Consultant
Big Projects, Inc.

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thank You

In today's fast paced lifestyle, common courtesies such as "please" and "thank you's" have been replaced by the constant struggle to just keep things going.... hey, how about "an excuse me?".

I have always reminded my clients (I prefer to call them my students!), that a thank you goes a long way. From thanking that someone for holding the elevator door open, or for that someone who directed you to the rest room or even for that person who handed you a pen to borrow.

Thank you notes and thank you letters are appreciated all the time. From a favor that was extended and especially when you just finished that interview.

To those I missed out on, Thank You.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

5 Resume No No's

I've been helping out a group of students work on their resume. With this current experience, let me give you 5 resume peeves I have, which could also be a 5 Resume No No's.

Number 5: Do not lie. There were some resumes that came across my table and just from the looks of it, it screams, "I'm making all this things up!!" Don't lie on your resume. You might not get caught now, but it when you least expect it. Dave Edmondson (former RadioShack Chief Executive) lied on his resume about his college degree, he got fired!

Number 4: Do not leave out big gaps in work history. If you are writing your resume in chronological format, do not leave out big gaps of history. You chose this format because your years of experience tells something about you. If you do intend to leave out certain years of work experience (due to a career change etc), you might want to consider a functional format instead.

Number 3: Do not leave your resume un-formatted. I am a big fan of well organized, well typed, and well-formatted documents. MS Word has a wizard that does the formatting, but it is never perfect. Have someone check your resume for proper formatting. Formatting includes consistency in type, size and design. Keep the format simple that can easily be read by a computer.

Number 2: Do not forgot to keep your contact information updated. Your resume is a bigger version of your calling card. Wrong number could lead to a job interview (or worse, a job offer) not getting to you. Update your resume with a corrected address and phone numbers. If you use an email handle, sign up for a new one that gives you a more formal email such as or

Number 1: Do not use weak words. When discussing duties and responsibilities in your resume, try to spin the words by using stronger words. Instead of "stacks products on shelves", you could say, "in-charge of product display and inventory". Instead of "picks up phone calls" you could say, "responsible for customer queries over the phone."

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Big Projects' Summer Entry

Labor day is just around the corner. In less than 30 days, kids would be going back to school and leaves will start to turn their colors. So what do Big Projects suggests for the next few weeks? We suggest for you to recharge and renew. It is not too late for a quick get away and it need not be expensive. Here are some tips to get you ready for the next season.

Get Your Summer Reading Going
I started my summer reading quite late myself. However, it is never too late. I would suggest you head to your local coffee shop and bury yourself in books that will inspire and renew your spirit. Here are my five summer books that I have read, is reading and will be reading in the next few weeks:

  1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling. I am a Potter fan, so reading the hundreds of pages was not labor extensive. I'll spare everybody the review on this book since it has been posted all throughout the www since it arrived in stores last July 21. Just found the ending a little bit cheesy for fans who have grown up with the book.
  2. The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis. This is my current read right now. Took me the entire first letter and the first half of the second letter to understand the premise of the book and how it is to be read. This would be the first CS Lewis book I ever read and I'm starting to like his way of story telling. This book was suggested to me by Sarah G. of NY.
  3. Becoming Who You Are by James Martin, SJ. This book was suggested by Rebecca M. She had me read one part of a chapter, got so curious about where that part was coming from and where it was leading to that I decided to buy the book.
  4. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I have been wanting to read this book for the longest from great reviews from friends and having heard quotes from him and the book over and over again. So, when I was buying books for my summer reading, I decided to pick this one up myself.
  5. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse as translated by Hilda Rosner. I don't know the premise of the book yet, but due to raving reviews by Marianne D. and her lending me her copy, this tops my 5 books for summer.

I have listed all these books in as one list to make buying easier for you.

I'll re-post in the next month or so as to my take on the last four books.

Listen to Podcasts
You don't have to have an Ipod to listed to podcasts and it doesn't mean that you'd have to stay in front of a computer to listed to them as well. I have gathered some links below to help listen to podcasts no matter what type of MP3 player you might have.

For Ipod and Itunes user check the guide a guy named Rodney Rumford created by clicking on this link:

For other MP3 players, it would take a little bit of downloads and stuff, but it is rather straight forward if you already know how to put music into your players. has a compiled lists of software that allows you to automatically receive downloadable podcasts. Check out the link at Check out the software Juice Receiver ( Screens are simple and very user friendly.

But what are Podcasts and what good are they? Podcasts are generally "radio shows" that are published on the world wide web that can be downloaded and listened to at anytime. Podcasts ranges from Political commentaries, scholastic reviews, Spiritual and Faith Conversations, Foreign Language classes and a whole lot more. Take podcasts with you on your commute to work or that cardio work out at the treadmills. These small bits of information streamed to you could be an enriching as grabbing a book on these topics.

Check out for my suggested Podcasts. The ones that I frequently listen to ranges from Effective Management Tips ( to enriching my connection with my faith through podcasts.

Go to a Retreat
A retreat need not be a set on a glamorous Caribbean beach spot or even be as expensive as a Beverly Hills Spa. A retreat in the middle of Central Park with a good book, a picnic blanket and maybe sparkling cider (I'm not sure if they allow wine in the parks here in NY) would be a great way to unwind for a day. Or if you have a couple of days to spare, you can head down to small communities in the middle of nowhere to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. One suggestion for the East Coast dwellers would be Jim Thorpe, PA ( A charming little town in Pennsylvania where you enjoy the simpler offerings of life.

This year, I went on a spiritual retreat to energize my mind, body and soul. The Paulist Mission of North American sponsors this Young Adults Retreat through their Young Adult Ministry with This year, I find myself in the middle of Oak Ridge, NJ in the vast retreat house of the Paulist Fathers with around 40 young adults in their 20's and 3o's. A great weekend of connecting with like minds and growing your network of friends and spiritual support as we face issues that affects us and our communities. Their next retreat is scheduled on November 9 - 11, 2007. Visit to learn more about upcoming schedules of the Retreats.

Go on a Vacation
We might not have time to have a lavish European vacation (due to time and the high currency exchange rates) but with a few hops and jumps we can find yourself enjoying the great and historic country that we have. A day trip in Boston from NY would costs you around $150. That will include your round trip Greyhound bus for about $55, a Duck Tour Boat Ride for around $30, your day pass for the trains and buses for $9, which leaves you with $56 left for lunch at McCormick&Schmick's, a Boston Red Sox souvenir shirt (of just buy a plain Boston shirt would do) and maybe grabbing some Boston Beans while you are at it. To make your day trip cheap yet fun, I suggest to take your courageous friends along for the Freedom Trail walk. It will be a long day of walking, so end your day with the Duck Tour to relax and see the city from the river. I suggest that you buy your Duck Tour tickets in advance to avoid missing the chance if it ever sells out.

Summer's end may be fast approaching, but it doesn't mean giving up on some R&Rs. Enjoy the rest of the summer!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Essence of Teamwork

The few memories that I have of my kindergarten days consists of the teacher telling me to share my crayons and toys with the other kids. I used to hoard these small lego-like toys and build myself this grand spaceship. However, it was always better when I build spaceships with my friends, we are able to create an entire fleet for space exploration and domination.

We learn at a very early age the essence of teamwork. We get to accomplish more (like build grand forts in the backyard). We enjoy the rewards as a group (playing well with others usually gets us ice cream afterwards). We look at each other's back when there is trouble (or that neighborhood bully is around the corner).

As working adults nothing much have changed. We get paid for the stuff that we accomplish just like ice cream (some more than others, but that's a different entry).

On the contrary, where corporate America is no longer loyal to their employees, the essence of teamwork have started to dissipate in the world of "survival of the fittest". The disposition of "If I do my stuff, I'm goood." have been creeping up in workplaces left and right.

Who is to blame? Corporate moguls who lays off people when profits starts to dwindle? Middle management who just wants work done no matter what? Individual workers who blame upper management for the corporate status quo? Don't blame Paris Hilton.

A successful team grows from jumping the stages of development and a guidance of an authentic leader (Google Bill George's article on Truly Authentic Leadership). However, the essence of teamwork starts with the individual. The individual contributing to the bigger picture without selfish motives. The individual who shares the work load and shares the spotlight at the end.

Good thing I learned how to play nice as a kid... I get to share Ice Cream with everybody at the end of the day.

Monday, June 18, 2007

What NOT to do with PowerPoint

I have said this things about PowerPoint a thousand of times in a very professional and kind way, but I guess it takes the comedian Don McMillan to pull the punches on this one. Enjoy the show.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Attention all businesses, especially small business owners. You might receive in the mail an "Annual Minutes Disclosure Statement" request form that asks for an annual fee of $125. Beware, this is a big scam that is being ran all over the country.

This form asks you some questions that seems legit but if you keep on reading the fine print, it would say "The product or service has not been approved or endorsed by any government agency..." A big red flag. Check out the link for another blogger who came across this scam a few years back in California.

I am usually smart about these things. This time, I was close to being scammed. I was actually filing in the forms and have completed it. Good thing I forgot my checkbook at home.

Avoid being scammed, read all those fine prints.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Money and Taxes

Money Management was the intended focus for March in preparation for the April taxes. In any case, I hoped that taxes were filed on time and Uncle Sam won't go after you. The question now, what do I do after the tax season. The simple answer, do a financial checkup again just like before the new year started. For a longer to do list, check out the rest of the article. Things to do After Filing for Taxes

  1. Review your tax return. Most individuals focus on how much tax refund they are getting and not the more important details such as tax bracket, filing status etc. Check this information on your tax returns so you can plan for this year's tax payment. If you are single and have multiple jobs and owed taxes, you might want to withhold a little bit more of taxes on your weekly paycheck. This is where your tax bracket information is crucial for this year.

  2. Archive your tax documents. This includes receipts and journals that would back up your tax return. You'll never know when you need it. Aside from tax review purposes, these documents are useful for claiming insurance and warranty.

  3. Plan for new tax year. Are you working under a 1099? Got married? Bought a house? All these things and more can affect your tax contributions. Talk with your tax advisor / accountant.

  4. I got a refund, what do I do with it? Before splurging it on a trip to Cancun or that new Rolex watch here's my list of other options according to priority: A. online savings account (ING Direct or HSBC Direct); B. Pay-off credit card debts; C. House renovation or that new boiler; D. Education / College Fund; E. Vacation (we all need one).

  5. Setup your financial calendar. I was able to download a payment reminder from and tweaked it a little bit with my own version (check it out excel / pdf versions). If you need help with this spreadsheet, send me a comment / email.

There are a thousand of ways to save money, the first step is to understand your spending habits and second is to start putting away a dollar or two now. As always, check with an accountant and a financial advisor with whatever you plan to do.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Health is Wealth

As you would have known, I took a second job last February. It was sort of like a favor that I had to do. I had to teach a class who was up in arms already with the erratic change of instructors every few weeks. I was their 5th instructor. So I was asked to start (the same day they called me!) and see them finish their program. I thought that the extra cash would be worth it, but after two weeks, I was already burning out. I found out that week that health is definitely your greatest wealth.

I was eating late at night when I get home. I didn't exercise during the week. The weekend that I went to the gym, I only get to run for 20 minutes. I was living a rat's race.

To combat that, here's a list that I aim to keep in order to be healthy:
  1. Drink plenty of water. Some say 6, some say 12. My say, drink enough water until you feel hydrated but 8 glasses is a good number to aim for. I have a 3 liter jug by my desk that I fill up every day. You get cleansed and is a good diet companion. No calories and it fills you up.
  2. Get up and exercise. I was in a subway and saw this ad for running shoes, it says "A 10 minute mile is just as far as a 6 minute mile. Run easy." Just get your heart rate up and move.
  3. Bring lunch to work. Eating out is quick and easy however you would not know what goes in there. You can even portion control yourself without wasting food. I don't like throwing food out so I tend to finish a lunch special even if I am full.
  4. Sleep well. A good 8 hours of sleep is great for the mind and body. You are more alert and it fights off weight gains. Keep the room dark, the bed firm but comfortable and quiet down your radio.
  5. Take multi-vitamins. Multi-vitamins are not just expensive urine. It has been proven that taking vitamins and supplements benefits everybody in the long run. However, consult your doctor with the supplements and vitamins that you are taking. See #7.
  6. Fix your finances. It has been studied that wealthier people sleep better than people with huge debts. Of course, how can you sleep if you think that the repo man is about to show up and take that car. Peace of mind is something that you achieve. Ask a friend for help. You'll need an objective perspective when dealing with your own finances. Check this article:
  7. See your doctor. We don't like seeing the doctor. I am one of them. However, let's push ourselves to at least see him once a year.
  8. Adapt a good oral hygiene. Studies have shown that good oral hygiene is linked to better heart health. Check this out:
  9. See family and friends. Have a good Friday night dinner with friends or see family for Sunday brunch. Aside from emotional re-charging, you get good laughs when you are with people you care.
  10. Have faith. Pray. Go to church. Ready daily spirituals. Meditate. As a start, click on this link or this

Hiatus; Calling on Contributors

I've been on a long hiatus. Almost two months of no updates on the Big Projects Blog. As the sole contributor / writer for this blog, I get to only post when time permits. It should not be an excuse, but time just didn't allow me to put into writing all the articles planned for February and March. If you want to know, I took on an evening job last February that threw off my schedule. It was a sudden change of daily rituals. But here I am again. No worries.

If anybody out there who wish to contribute to this blog, drop me a line. This blog's content focuses on issues that matters to personal and professional development. I will publish more posts within the week to catch up. Until then.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Goals Checkup

According to an article in MSN, Good Day to Stay in Bed? by Sally Wadyka, today has been calculated to be the most depressing day of the year. Some psychologist derived it from various variables such as weather, bills, being it a Monday etc.

Nonetheless, we turn it upside down here in Big Projects. Let us go back to our goals list for 2007 and review them. A lot of things might have happened in the past few weeks that would ask you to change and modify your goals.

For my personal goals list, I have done pretty good. It is what I call a work in progress. There are 11 more months to work on them. Don't bang your head on the wall for not losing that 20 pounds... baby steps.

Take time out today to go over your goals and see where you are. Pat yourself on the back for your achievements, small or big. You deserve it.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Game Plan 2007

Do this: Find a serene and relaxing place. Sit comfortably. Get your favorite drink (alcoholic drinks don't count). Grab a pen and a notebook. Write down 10 things you would like to achieve, acquire or be in a position for this year. Regardless of time, money and other limitations.

These 10 things are what would change your life. It takes a moment to do this task but a lifetime of great ecstasy. I was reading this article by Paolo Coelho, titled Closing Cycles and it ends with a powerful line, "Stop being who you were and change into who you are." Most of the time, it's this piece of paper what will change us. Share these with family, friends and whoever, the universe might just find a way of bringing it closer to you.

Pray for God's guidance and strength over the goals that you created. Sometimes, we just have to realize that it's not on our time but HIS; however; HE only helps those who help themselves.

Instead of the cliche of making a new year's resolutions, kick off 2007 with goal setting.

This January, we focus on Time Management and Goal Setting. You may want to share 1, 2 or 10 of your goals through the comments part of this entry.

Jonathan writes from New York. You may reach him at