Saturday, July 14, 2007

SYNTOPIC BOOK REVIEW: THE LAW OF SUCCESS

The first batch of significant books that had the greatest influence on me, in terms of attaining personal achievement, includes mostly Napoleon Hill's books (early editions):

1) ‘The Law of Success’;
2) ‘Think & Grow Rich’;
3) ‘The Master Keys to Riches’;
4) ‘Success through a Positive Mental Attitude’;
5) ‘Succeed & Grow Rich through Persuasion’;

The others were from Clement Stone, Dale Carnegie, David Schwartz, Earl Nightingale & Og Mandino.

That was the early 70's, when I had just started work as a young engineer.

The author, Napoleon Hill, had impressed me most by his humble beginnings & his relentless dedication in spending some two to three decades of his life to pursue & research the success secrets of the rich & famous, with a little help from Andrew Carnegie, of course.

As matter of fact, many of the rich & famous people he interviewed were also favourite role models of mine, e.g. Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, just to name a few

Till this day, I have never forgotten what he said at the onset: "The most powerful instrument we have in our hands is the power of our mind."

I have never ceased to be fascinated by the simplicity & the potency of his ABCs of personal achievement: CONCEIVE, BELIEVE & ACHIEVE!

It is certainly enlightening to note that even Stephen Covey had drew inspiration from Napoleon Hill's work even though he never made that credit. He only admitted that the 7 Habits had its origins from "200 years of success literature in the United States." That remark itself is self explanatory.

Anthony Robbin's many public seminar programs, including Mastery University, as embodied in his books as well as his audio/video resources, are no exception, even though he has been influenced to a larger extent by NLP or neuro-associative conditioning.

If you look at & compare the 17 principles of personal achievement in 'The Law of Success' &/or the 13 Steps to Riches in 'Think & Grow Rich', one can obviously see the uncanny resemblance of the 7 Habits & the Mastery principles, in one way or another. At this juncture, let me outline the principal theme of each book:

1) The Law of Success:

- the original course on the fundamentals of success, based on the author’s survey of some 500 super-achievers – encompassing all the seventeen essential principles of personal achievement;

2) Think & Grow Rich:

- The seventeen essential principles are reframed & condensed in terms of thirteen concrete steps to wealth creation (in actuality, this is a condensation of the Law of Success);

3) The Master Keys to Riches:

- a further elaboration of the seventeen essential principles with concrete suggestions, exercises & advice;

4) Success Through Positive Mental Attitude:

- joint authorship with Clement Stone, with a further focused emphasis on developing a positive mental attitude;

5) Succeed & Grow Rich Through Persuasion:

- joint authorship with Clement Stone, with a further emphasis on developing master salesmanship & networking;

[Clement Stone actually built his insurance business empire with these principles.]

My most productive, personal learning experience from Napoleon Hill's work is the understanding - & application - of his success principle #1: Develop Definiteness of Purpose.

This generally corresponds to ‘Habit #2: Having the End in Mind’ in Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits philosophy, &/or 'Step #1: Know Your Outcome' in the ‘Ultimate Success Formula’, as propounded by Anthony Robbins.

[Very surprisingly, J Y Pillay, former Chairman of Singapore Airlines, - who had been credited for building the airline to what it is today, A GREAT WAY TO FLY! - also credited his work axiom to this same success principle, but he attributed it to an ancient Hindu scripture known as Bhagavad Gita.]

I am certainly gratified to note that Napoleon Hill's work had casted so much influence on - & empowered - so many people in the world, including myself.

To end this syntopic review of the foregoing five books, it is pertinent for me to point out that, knowing the law of success is not enough. In fact, willing is also not enough - we must do & put the law of success to work!.

At the end of the day, any true success, financial or otherwise, is built upon a strong foundation exemplified by hard work, & a focus on thoughtful planning & decision making, coupled with continuous diligent action.

UNDERSTANDING THE GOBBLEDYGOOK IN JOB ADS

I found these interesting stuff on the net recently. Job hunters & changers, beware!

COMPETITIVE SALARY:
We remain competitive by paying less than our competitors.

JOIN OUR FAST-PACED COMPANY:
We have no time to train you.

CASUAL WORK ATMOSPHERE:
We don't pay enough to expect that you'll dress up; well, a couple of the real daring guys wear earrings.

MUST BE DEADLINE ORIENTED:
You'll be six months behind schedule on your first day.

SOME OVERTIME REQUIRED:
Some time each night and some time each weekend.

DUTIES WILL VARY:
Anyone in the office can boss you around.

MUST HAVE AN EYE FOR DETAIL:
We have no quality control.

CAREER-MINDED:
Female Applicants must be childless (and remain that way).

APPLY IN PERSON:
If you're old, fat or ugly you'll be told the position has been filled.

NO PHONE CALLS PLEASE:
We've filled the job; our call for resumes is just a legal formality.

SEEKING CANDIDATES WITH A WIDE VARIETY OF EXPERIENCE:
You'll need it to replace three people who just left.

PROBLEM-SOLVING SKILLS A MUST:
You're walking into a company in perpetual chaos.

REQUIRES TEAM LEADERSHIP SKILLS:
You'll have the responsibilities of a manager, without the pay or respect.

GOOD COMMUNICATION SKILLS:
Management communicates, you listen, figure out what they want and do it.

LESSONS FROM A NOBEL LAUREATE

Almost a decade ago, I attended the NUS Centennial Nobel Laureate Public Lectures, during which Dr Lee Yuan Tseh, who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1986, (The award was shared with two other chemists, Dr Dudley Robert Herschbach of USA & Dr John Charles Polanyi of Canada), shared his personal & strategic insights about the learning process in schools.

These were the lessons I had picked up from Dr Lee.

1) Think independently and question accepted answers;

2) Ask good questions that probe the frontiers of knowledge;

3) View a problem from all different angles, so that you can weigh the pros & cons of every issue;

4) Investigate a topic thoroughly as this is the best way to learn about a subject;

5) Tackle unsolvable problems - questions or puzzles with no correct answers - so you can learn to think deeply;

6) Do not be afraid to express your personal opinions;

7) Do not be afraid to challenge your teachers;

I understand that Dr Lee won the Nobel Prize for his research work on the dynamics of the encounters between individual molecules during a chemical reaction. His breakthrough came from imaginative visualisation of these encounters, in many of which he envisaged the molecules had human-like motives & feelings. He argued strongly that science students & others should be given practice & encouragement in the use of these imaginative acts.

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

What would you do if something did not stand in your way?

What would you do if you knew you couldn't fail?

If there were no limits, boundaries, ceilings or walls, how far could you go?

TODAY'S VERY IMPORTANT POSE

"The fact that life is problematic means that your life doesn't fit into life's shape. So you must change your life, & when it fits into the shape, what is problematic disappears!"

(Dr Ludwig Wittgenstein, philosopher)

VENTURE MANAGEMENT LAWS FOR THE RAPIDLY CHANGING ECONOMY

TECHNOLOGY:

If you understand it, it's obsolete!

STRATEGY:

If it's static, it's obsolete!

TRAINING:

If it's certified, it's obsolete!

So, if you wish to win in today's hyper-competitive market, you must LEAD, i.e.

- Learn

- Experiment

- Adapt &

- Differentiate!

[Source: Vadim Kotelnikov, Founder, Ten3 Business e-Coach. His corporate website is a goldmine of valuable information for entrepreneurs & professionals.]

HOW TO SELL YOUR IDEAS? TAKE A LEAF FROM EXPERTS

Getting an idea or ideas out of your head is often not a difficult task. Most people can do it easily, and fast too, even if they are put under time pressure. Sometimes, under time pressures, surprisingly many people can even come up with whacky, and yet brilliant ideas.

However, idea generation or creativity, for that matter, is only a small part of the whole equation. There is no dispute ideas come from individual minds, but innovation will only take place when you are able to promote or sell your idea or ideas to your or other people.

It takes teams or a group of interested people to make your ideas to work, i.e. to make innovation to happen.

There are a lot of idea generation and/or creativity books out in the marketplace, but very hard to find books touching on the promotion and selling of ideas. From my personal pursuit over the years, I have found only a small handful of good books in this genre.

I am very glad to have found this one book.

BY THE NUMBERS: USING FACTS & FIGURES TO GET YOUR PROJECTS, PLANS & IDEAS APPROVED
By Richard Haasnoot, Joyce McLeary, Susan Drake & Joseph Webb McLeary

The four authors are well qualified, as all of them are business communication professionals.

As the authors contend: "There are three phases in getting an idea off the ground", as follows:

1. Get an idea...and sell it!

2. Develop the idea..and sell it!

3. Move the idea to market...and really sell it!"

This book describes, in a step-by-step process, the strategic and tactical elements of the promotion and selling proposition, as follows:

- research your ideas from all standpoints;
- develop a comprehensive plan;
- build a support network;
- develop a winning presentation;
- prepare to present;
- deliver your winning case;
- celebrate;


I am very impressed by this book partly because the authors took a comprehensive, broad-based approach to the subject at hand. They wrote it in the context of both organisational and personal perspectives.

In the process, the authors covered every conceivable angle of promoting and selling your idea or ideas - from understanding your organisation, educating yourself right through building your case, gaining allies (with key players), assessing your audience, building a support base, and all the way to designing and preparing your case as well as presenting your case flawlessly.

The chapter pertaining to 'Building a Business Case' is a gem to read and follow. This is a very important area to note in promoting and selling your idea.

Oftentimes, people get carried away by their whacky ideas and they forget that the numbers or bottom-line are also important considerations, especially when you want to get support. This chapter will help you to refine your presentation of numbers.

I also enjoy the authors' writing style - concise, crisp and succinct. All key learning points are also captured at the end of each chapter. These make reading and review much easier for the reader.

So, if you want to learn how to promote and sell your idea or ideas, this is a 'must-read' book!

BOOK REVIEW: 'QUESTION OF BUSINESS', by Curtis Page & C J Selden

This wonderful book shows you how to address the right questions to your own business!

When I first embarked in the late 80's on a quest to start my own small strategy consulting business, after spending twenty-four years in the corporate world, I actually acquired this wonderful book, after a deliberate search, to help me to think through all the potential problems & opportunities.

What attracted me to this book was the anatomy of asking questions in the prologue of the book. According to the two authors, both business consultants, every successful ideas passes through three phases. Each phase involves a different perspective.


To implement an idea, all three need to be integrated. They label them as follows:

- Visualising What to Do: Seeing & painting a clear picture of my company: identity, resources;

- Charting the Position: Aiming & drawing up a blueprint for action: strategic objectives, trends;

- Activating the Plan: Doing & implementing my objectives: tactics, role expectations;

As you can see from the above, the first one refers to the process of conceptualisation.

The second one refers to the process of strategising i.e. formulating the strategic blueprint.

The final one refers to operationalising i.e. putting the strategic blueprint to work.

The full value of seeing, aiming, & doing comes when they are integrated. Questions like (adapted for my own personal application):

- what business am I really in?
- what are my strategic objectives?
- what are my tactics?

are part of a larger mosaic. The answer to any question affects the others.

The next part of the book comprises the integration model. It starts off with the development of a Questioning Mindset. The authors emphasise that the same question can be asked in many different ways, depending on the intended results. Answers alone may not be the only objective. Just right questions can affect attitudes & perceptions. They can be asked to get the process started.

Here the authors outlined the three basic question-asking techniques:

1. Startling: The Surprise Question:

The intent is to be creatively upsetting. The authors illustrate with a classic business question: What business am I in? To make it startling or confrontational, the question could be re-stated: What makes me think I am still in the business I say I am?

Questions asked this way are confrontational. The intent is to open my eyes & undermine outdated assumptions.

2. Supporting: The Helping Question:

I call this the Discovery Question. The authors draw an analogy of a trial lawyer. An experienced trial lawyer avoids asking questions whose answers he/she is not certain of. In a trial, lawyers use questions to promote their own understanding of the case to the judge & jury. Any discovery of information should happen before the trial starts. In my case, the purpose of such questions e.g. 'what business am I in?' is to discover what I already know.

3. Searching The Inquisitive Question:

Example: what business am I really in? The purpose is to find out what I don't know but need to know. The emphasis is the spirit of inquiry.

The authors stress that the best answers are open-ended, thereby resulting in useful answers that keep evolving.

The rest of the book comprises a series of well-thought question units covering every aspect of business management. There are a total of forty four units, & each is supported by a brief rationale. They are logically allocated to the three foregoing distinct phases. Each unit is designed to develop a broad "just right question" such as:

- what business am I really in?

& expands its implications through a series of "follow-up questions" such as:

- what business will I be in a few years from now?
- what business could I be in?

As you can see from the foregoing examples, the whole exercise of the questioning processes is intended to facilitate understanding of the implications of the question & pondering of the answers. In other words, to facilitate a question-asking approach for an answer-producing payoff.

By the time I have gone through all the question units under each distinct phase, I have finally painted a constructive & enlightening picture of my dreams-come-true.

This book really stands up to its title, A Question of Business: Questions for Managers Looking for Answers. Until today, I have yet to come across another business book under this particular genre.

Even today, despite the torn yellowing pages & stained dog-ears, I still dip into the question list of the book to refresh my strategic thinking on emerging issues.

To sum up my review, I am proud to say that I am still running my own small strategy consulting business today. Today is my 17th year in business.

I am very happy to share this wonderful gem with readers. This book will definitely help you to develop useful answers by learning to ask incisive questions.

[READERS! PLEASE NOTE: Content-wise, this book is exactly the same book as 'Asking Just Right Business Questions' by Curtis Page.]

Friday, July 13, 2007

WHY DO WE NEED TO GO FOR LARGE QUANTITY OF IDEAS WHILE BRAINSTORMING? III

In my earlier post, Guidelines for Setting up a ‘Brainstorming Lab’, I have specified, among others, the need to “go for large quantity of ideas”. Why?

Here is one interesting perspective from the book, 'Innovation: Breakthrough Thinking at 3M, Dupont, GE, Pfizer & Rubbermaid', by Rosabeth Moss Kanter, John Kao, & Fred Wiersema, & with a Foreword by Tom Peters:

It can take as many as 250 raw ideas to yield one major marketable product, drawing on Dupont's experience.

That is, 250 RIs = 1 MP.

Put it in another way, innovation is actually risk management. If you are committed to innovation, you've got to have a very high tolerance for risk & failure.

WHY DO WE NEED TO GO FOR LARGE QUANTITY OF IDEAS WHILE BRAINSTORMING? II

In my earlier post, Guidelines for Setting up a ‘Brainstorming Lab’, I have specified, among others, the need to “go for large quantity of ideas”. Why?

Here is one interesting perspective from Doug Hall, author of 'Jump Start Your Business Brain.'

According to him, only 20 % of business ideas actually succeed in the marketplace.

WHY DO WE NEED TO GO FOR LARGE QUANTITY OF IDEAS WHILE BRAINSTORMING? I

In my earlier post, Guidelines for Setting up a ‘Brainstorming Lab’, I have specified, among others, the need to “go for large quantity of ideas”. Why?

Here is one interesting perspective from Gary Hamel, author of 'Leading the Revolution: How to Thrive in Turbulent Times by Making Innovation a Way of Life'.

According to him:

- For every 1,000 ideas, only 100 will have enough commercial promise to merit a small scale experiment;
- Only 10 of these will warrant a substantial financial commitment;
- & of these only a couple will turn out to be unqualified success;

In fact, this is known as Hamel's Law of Innovation. It's the inverse log scale behind innovation.

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

How can I find a unique angle for my product or service?


How can I be different from my competition?

How do I position my product or service in the marketplace?

What must I do to dominate my market?

Can I come up with something different & creative that will set me apart from my competition? If YES, how to go about it? If NO, why not?

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"Intelligence is when you learn from your own experience. Genius is when you learn from other people's experience. Ignorance is when you are not even prepared to try."

(Ali Perez)

A PERSONAL TRIBUTE TO JOHN WAYNE, THE DUKE

As a young boy, I had always enjoyed watching John Wayne, nicknamed ‘The Duke’, in so many westerns, namely, ‘Stage-Coach’, ‘The Alamo’, ‘Big Jake’, ‘Cahill, US Marshall’, ‘Comancheros’, ‘The Cowboys’, ‘El Dorado’, ‘Fort Apache’, ‘Rio Bravo’, ‘Rio Grande’, ‘Rio Lobo’, ‘Rooster Cogburn’, ‘The Searchers’, ‘The Shootist’, & ‘True Grit’. To me, he was the greatest comboy star of all time.

He even won an Oscar for ‘Best Actor in a Leading Role’ in ‘True Grit’.

In westerns, he often played the frontier town sheriff or US Marshall or a rancher or simply a gun-fighter for hire. His westerns were full of action, but usually not excessively violent.

I was often mesmerised by his trade-marked fist fights in saloon bars, coupled with his macho, straight-shooting, & wise-cracking style, plus his characteristic display of professional courtesy to other fellow gun-fighters in the movies.

He was once interviewed by a reporter who asked him why he always loved to act in westerns. His immediate reply was something like this: “That’s the only place where man is man, woman is woman.”

I had also seen him in quite a number of war movies, namely ‘The Green Berets’ (which was at first banned in Singapore because of its “political insensitivity” & re-released about a decade later, just after the Vietnam War), ‘Sands of Iwo Jima’, & ‘The Longest Day’.

In between, he also played a gold prospector in ‘North to Alaska’, a big-game hunter in ‘Hatari’, an oil-field fire fighter in ‘Hell-fighters’ (based on the true life story of Red Adair), as well as a no-nonsense cop in two movies, namely, ‘McQ’ & ‘Brannigan’.

In terms of pure entertainment, all the above-mentioned movies left a lasting impression on me, especially John Wayne who played the lead role.

Among all his action movies, I want to single out two, which I had actually watched in the theatres during the mid 70's or so.

I had recently watched their re-runs on cable TV:

- ‘McQ
- ‘BRANNIGAN


For me, it was really fun to watch John Wayne as he played 'Dirty Harry' in both movies - in the tradition of a one-man trouble shooter, with little regard for rules, but who always produced results, popularised by Clint Eastwood as Inspector Callahan!

I believe that John Wayne was almost in his late 60's/early 70's when he starred in the above two movies. I also believe that these were the only two movies in which he had played a street-wise no-nonsense cop!

In the first movie, 'McQ', he was Police Detective-Lieutenant Lon McQ in Seattle. He investigated the death of his partner & along the way uncovered some corrupt elements in his police department with shady connections to the mob. The signature mobster in the movie, Manny Santiago, was played by Al Lettieri.

In the second movie, 'Brannigan', he was Police Detective-Lieutenant Jim Brannigan in Chicago. He was sent to London to bring back an American mobster on the run, Ben Larkin, (played by John Vernon) & along the way he got entangled with the conservative work-style of Scotland Yard.

Despite his age, John Wayne was really remarkable in both roles. Having seen him in so many westerns & war movies, it was refreshing to see him acting in contemporary settings. The hot-pursuit action sequences (car chases & shoot-outs) were really good, considering that era.

In 'McQ', the car chase along the beach, with sea gulls fluttering away for cover, was magnificently choreographed.

In 'Brannigan', the car chase segment ending at the Tower Bridge was great, too. There was even a large-scale brawl at a London pub. This was reminiscent of John Wayne's innumerable westerns.

The storyline in both movies was quite intriguing. The dialogue in both movies was witty, too.

In 'McQ', he even got to show off his physical prowess with an unlicensed sub-machine gun (actually, a 9mm Ingram automatic). That was cool!

In 'Brannigan', one could see how big & tall John Wayne was (in real life, he was 1.94 m tall), when he was in London walking among the crowd. He really stood out like a sore thumb. His opposite was Commander Sir Charles Swann of Scotland Yard, played by a very fine British actor, Richard Attenborough. John Wayne even got a beautiful side-kick in the movie, Detective Sergeant Jennifer Thatcher, played by Judy Geeson.

In 'McQ', I was very surprised to see John Wayne in a relatively intimate scene involving a junkie informer played by a fine actress (Colleen Dewhurst) in an understated role. This was something which had never happened in any of his other movies, as far as I know!

On the whole, both movies had a good mix of action, drama & comedy, coupled with witty dialogue throughout. I have enjoyed very much watching both of them again after so many years.

BOOK REVIEW: MY FAVOURITE BOOKS FOR GENERAL MANAGERS

THE GENERAL MANAGERS By John Kotter (JK)

GENERAL MANAGERS IN ACTION: POLICIES & STRATEGIES by Francis Aguilar (FA)

While re-sorting/re-organising my personal library recently, these two books happened to pop out right in front of me. I had owned & read them during the mid-eighties when I had just been promoted to General Manager. In fact, they were my constant companions - field guides to be exact - during the nine years when I had held this position with three different firms across three different industries (chemicals manufacturing in Thailand, software development in Singapore, & metals trading in Singapore with manufacturing interests in Indonesia).

Both authors were known to me as I had read John Kotter (JK)'s 'Power & Influence: Beyond Formal Authority' & Francis Aguilar (FA)'s 'Scanning the Business Environment' in earlier years.

While JK's book was more specific in terms of the vital tasks & responsibilities of a GM, particularly from a typical American landscape, FA's book was more broad-based & intellectually more stimulating with an added international flavour. Nevertheless, both books were very well-written & easy to read. Both my own copies were earlier or first editions. I am gratified to know that newer editions of both books are now available from amazon website.

JK's book was based on the author's first-hand observations of fifteen top GMs from nine major companies. He described a typical day in the life of a successful GM. On the basis of his research into the daily behavior of GMs, he identified a dozen of typical patterns, discussed their implications & concluded that it was hard to fit the GM's behavior into categories like planning, organizing, controlling, directing, or staffing.

He argued that, in order to understand the GM' behavior it is fundamental to recognize the two fundamental challenges & dilemmas in their jobs:

1) Figuring out what to do in the light of uncertainty & information anxiety;

2) Getting things done through a diverse group of people in spite of having little control over them;


Accordingly, GMs used agenda setting & network building to tackle these two challenges. The author further discussed both these tools in detail. He also explained how GMs use their entire networking relationships to implement their agendas.

With the author's fascinating portrait of the day-to-day activities of top GMs, I was really glad that I was able to piece together some workable composite ideas for my own career accomplishments.

There was, however, only one intriguing point from JK's book. He persuasively argued that the best manager was actually a specialist who had spent most of his career in one industry, learning its intricacies & establishing cooperative working relationships.

For readers' convenience, I append below the book's table of contents:

1. INTRODUCTION
2. THE GENERAL MANAGMENT JOBS: KEYS CHALLENGES & DILEMMAS
3. THE GM: PERSONAL & BACKGROUND CHARACTERISTICS
4. THE GMS IN ACTION PART II: SIMILARITIES IN BEHAVIOUR
5. THE GMS IN ACTIONS PART I: DIFFERENCES IN BEHAVIOUR
6. SUMMARY DISCUSSIONS & IMPLICATIONS FOR INCREASING GM PERFORMANCE APPENDIX: INTERVIEW GUIDES, QUESTIONNAIRES, RESUMES, APPRAISING GM PERFORMANCE


As for FA's book, which was originally intended as a case-study book for advanced management courses, I was able to use it as companion reading to JK's book.

Content-wise, it had eighteen classic case studies from a variety of international businesses that illuminate the major decisions of business life & the strategies for dealing with specific situations. The author also painstakingly discussed the critical issues faced by most GMs.

From this book, I had obtained very clear perspectives on the complex issues of strategic management. The chapter on 'Formulating Strategy', in which the author touched on managing the quality of strategic thinking, was my favourite.

For readers' convenience, I append below the table of contents of the book as follows:

PART I: THE GENERAL MANAGER

1. THE GM'S JOB
2. STRATEGY & THE GM
3. FORMULATING STRATEGY
4. IMPLEMENTING STRATEGY
5. THE GM AS LEADER
6. MEETING THE GLOBAL BUSINESS CHALLENGE
7. CORPORATE FINANCE & THE GM
8. CORPORATE GOVERNANCE & THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS

PART II: CASES ON GENERAL MANAGEMENT, CORPORATE STRATEGY & BUSINESS POLICY


To conclude this review, I had derived tremendous pleasure from reading both books during the mid-eighties, just as they had also provided me with stimulating insights as well as practical guidance about the complexities of general management.

That really made my life easier as a GM during those tough nine years.

Although the case studies may be dated in today's context, I believe the strategies & tools for general management as outlined in the two books are still highly relevant & readily applicable.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

POINTS TO PONDER: THE POWER OF PSYCHO-SEMANTICS

While surfing the net recently, I stumbled on to one particular article, entitled ‘Discrimination: the First Law of Success’ & written by a gentleman with the name of Oscar Bruce, who is considered “the ultimate personal communications guru”. The article was published by 'Article Channel: Free Content Articles Directory for your Ezine or Website'.

Apparently, he runs 'The Oscar Bruce Institute for Advanced Conversational Skills'. His institute produces publications that “help people fine tune their conversation skills, increasing their effectiveness in dealing with people”. This is his corporate tag line: “Your conversation tells the world who you are”.

I love what he wrote & I want to share it with my readers.

Discrimination: The First Law Of Success

As the author of personal development publications distributed world-wide, I am frequently asked why certain people seem to succeed at practically everything they attempt, while others fail no matter how hard they try. My response is "I definitely can tell you, but you're really not going to like the answer." But here it is.

Most people spend 97% of their time with the wrong people. This fact means your best friend could very well be your worst enemy. It's here that discrimination as a process is the essential element that will create success or disappoint.

What the ear hears, the mouth repeats. In short, you absorb the language of the people with whom you frequently associate. If the language is mundane, and loaded with meaningless clichés and useless figures of speech, soon that is the way you will speak. And, it's a well known fact that people judge you by the way you speak.

Your mind is like a giant sponge that soaks up everything it hears. Many words that are not favorable to your well being and personal success take residence there. Through a psychological process I call: "Psycho-Semantics," they impose a detrimental influence on your imagination and your vision. Those words will direct your outlook and expectations.

Out there is a beautiful world and beautiful people everywhere. Why clutter it with relationships that don't belong in your life? It's an easy life if you don't let others drag you down. You therefore must break ranks from ordinary people whose language you do not want to become your way of speaking. Treat them like you would a cancer: early detection and swift removal.

Unless you discriminate deliberately and savagely, the people around you will engage in conversation about the trivia of their latest ailment, their relationship problems, and gossip in the form of "I said, and then, she said." Even worse, a generous sprinkling of "isn't it awful" and "pity poor me." If all this sounds all too familiar, you must learn to initiate new conversation topics - topics that cause listeners to perceive you as intelligent and insightful.

Albert Einstein is quoted as follows. "The definition of insanity is doing the same things and expecting a different outcome." In my book "Winning Words Winning Ways" I make the salient point, "Your future will be exactly like your past unless you make major changes."

Now that we've covered the primary liability that holds most people back, I'm going to share the powerful dynamic that will provide all the best that life has to offer.

Since the mind and life abhor a vacuum, you will need new and better friends. This will require new, personal communication skills to make you appealing in better circles. You will need new words and phrases to make your conversation sizzle. That is upgrading the way you verbalize your ideas and feelings.

Why are new communications skills and new conversation topic important? Big things happen when you say the little things right. And, you'd be surprised at what you can get when you ask for it the right way. The power superior verbal skills will give you has absolutely no limit.

You must become a word specialist, a person who paints beautiful pictures with an invisible brush of magical words, a skilled verbal artist whose conversation is both persuasive and compelling. That draws people to you. They compete to be with you.

On the other hand, through the process of Psycho-Semantics there are also certain words and phrases that will be uplifting and tend to expand the mind's perception and vision. Select words and phrases that help the mind to see opportunities previously overlooked.

You don't see eagles hanging out with sparrows do you? After all, gutter language wouldn't work well in the office of your company's C.E.O.

"If you want to hang with the natives, you'd better speak the native tongue." Within that simple sentence lies the reason that "discrimination is the first law of success."

Chose your friends and associate carefully. DISCRIMINATE SAVAGELY."

I fully concur with what Oscar Bruce has written. I believe it was Jim Rohn, international motivational speaker, who said "Who you become in the future will be a function of the books you read & the people you meet."

[More information about Oscar Bruce & his publications can be found at his corporate website, http://www.oscarbruce.com/. I must say that his website is a goldmine of useful information.]

BOOK REVIEW: 'PERSONAL BRILLIANCE - MASTERING THE EVERYDAY HABITS THAT CREATE A LIFETIME OF SUCCESS', by Jim Canterucci

Overall, this is still a worthwhile book to read on developing personal mastery!,

I had read this book more than two years ago. I would rank this book in the same genre of books that include:

- ‘Million Dollar Habits', by Robert Ringer;
- ‘Seven Habits for Highly Effective People', by Stephen Covey;
- ‘Mastering the Rockefeller Habits', by Verne Harnish);
- ‘Developing the 21st Century Mind', by Marsha Sinetar;

In the case of this book, the author has added fun practices, discovery exercises & many inspiring stories (as well as abundant `success' quotations, which help to fill up text space) to maximize & leverage on your innate habitual traits, as follows:

- Awareness;
- Curiosity;
- Focus;
- Initiative;

These are nothing new or exciting, if readers have been pursuing & exploring principles of developing personal mastery.

According to the author, all the four foregoing traits, when developed further & honed properly, can be the catalysts for achieving our personal best. The secret is in consistently applying these four `habits of mind."

To each key trait, content-wise, the author devotes from two to four solid chapters. They are consistently well-treated. I really marvel at the author's narrative ability, by being able to explain, describe & illustrate in both scope & depth, just on these four habits. He certainly knows how to profit from his personal knowledge & field experiences as an executive advisor & success coach.

At the end of each chapter, the author offers many useful strategies in developing & enhancing the habits as well as dealing with personal barriers. I particularly like the author's attitude towards barriers:

"Barriers provide us with important information about who we are & how we function under challenging conditions. Every time we confront a barrier, we improve our problem solving skills."

From my personal perspective, I definitely enjoyed perusing - as well as playing with the exercises - chapters 7 to 10, on the Curiosity habit.

The author's writing is also crisp & succinct, almost in a friendly conversational style.

The author also invites the reader to take a live "Personal Brilliance Quotient Assessment" on his website. There are twenty assessment questions.

My own score is 84, & I am now classified as a Prospector: an explorer, to be exact, just as I have expected, as the questions are too simplistic.

Upon completion of the assessment, the author leads me subtly to ‘procure' more stuff from the website.

Frankly, as I recall two years ago, the author's website, http://www.mypersonalbrilliance.com/ was still incomplete.

There were many areas under construction. To me, at that point in time, the author was almost like selling vapour-ware! Today, I am happy to say that there are quite a number of interesting resources available on the author’s website. They are worth your browsing! The 4-1/2-minute web movie is worth your watching, too!

Overall, it is still a worthwhile book to read. You can treat it as a good opportunity for some mental workout, as some of the exercises can be quite intriguing & perplexing.

To be fair to the author, & in summing up my review, there are indeed good stuff in the book. Get it & read it, if you are seeking more perspectives on developing personal mastery &/or if you are building up a repertoire of skills & knowledge to deal with the 21st Century.

MOVIE REVIEW: 'SPYGAME', starring Robert Redford & Brad Pitt

Quite a thriller...more of an expose on the dirty tricks of CIA operatives!

It is refreshing to watch an older Robert Redford pitting his acting skills against a younger Brad Pitt in this spy thriller movie. Both of them acted very well despite the sketchy plot.

To me, the storyline is pretty straight-forward:

A retiring veteran CIA operative, Nathan Muir (Robert Redford) learned that his protégé, a young hot-shot rookie, Tom Bishop (Brad Pitt), had been arrested in China as a result of a botched rescue attempt of his girl-friend. He was due to be executed shortly. Because of vested interests, CIA refused to mount a rescue.

Out of sheer loyalty & friendship, Muir engineered a successful but unauthorised rescue.

The entire movie is beautifully choreographed through black & white flash-backs & pure dialogue, during which Muir recalled his personal encounter & close friendship with his protégé. That relationship spanned across a timeline of about twenty years, from the Vietnam War in the 70's, to the end of the cold war in Berlin during the 80's & then to the mean streets of Beirut in the 90's.

The movie moves on to show how Muir had taught Bishop all the skills (or dirty tricks?) of spy-craft...how to case a restaurant, fix a radio,...to be callous, look at the big picture...to stay remote...to sell out people if that's of use...finally, to kill.

Unlike most spy thrillers, there isn’t any typically high-octane action sequences or high-tech gizmos in this particular one, except for a brief heart-pounding escape scene in a China prison.

Throughout the movie, one can see how Muir had to use his quick wits & clever manipulating skills (or dirty tricks?) he had learned while working for the CIA to out-smart the CIA's top echelon as well as his fellow CIA operatives to mount a personally-financed rescue mission.

I really enjoyed watching his brilliant machinations as he moved from scene to scene in the movie. I just loved the part where he juxtaposed CIA satellite images to fool his bosses. He even forged the signature of the CIA Director. At the end of it, all of them apparently did not have the slightest clue as to what was happening & had happened.

On the whole, I have enjoyed watching this spy thriller. This movie reminds me of two earlier spy thrillers in which Robert Redford had also played a leading role. One was 'Sneakers' (he played the leader of a bunch of computer hackers, blackmailed by CIA to undertake a covert mission) during the nineties & the other, 'Three Days of the Condor' (he played a researcher/analyst on the run from rogue elements in the CIA) during the seventies.

It is also comforting to know that an accomplished Singaporean actor, Adrian Pang, had a small role in the movie. He played a medic during the botched rescue attempt.

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

What do I value most in my life?

What do I want in my life?

What will my life look like in five years from now?

What can I do today to move me closer to my desired outcome?

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"We will never change people until we change what they know."
(Joel Arthur Barker)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

BOOK REVIEW: 'STRATEGIC THINKING & THE NEW SCIENCE', by T Irene Sanders

I recall that, towards late 80’s & out of sheer curiosity, I had read James Gleick’s 'Chaos: Making a New Science' book. I was not enlightened very much although I had acquired some basic facts.

Subsequently, I went on to read Margaret Wheatley’s 'Leadership & The New Science', and also 'A Simpler Way'. I got a much better picture of the subject, and I began to take an earnest interest in the New Science.

In the ensuing years, I had also read a few other authors’ books, but they did not strike a common chord with me, although they fueled my continuing pursuit.

Actually, I had stumbled on to Irene Sanders’ book on the internet by chance because of its catchy cover title.

I was intrigued when I scanned the book's index page and found many interesting stuff:

insight, foresight, geographic intelligence, Futurescape vs. Mindmap, imagery, new planning paradigm, new science, perking information, scenario building, thinking in pictures, visual models, whole-brain functioning, etc.

All of them are my kind of stuff.

I have read the book many times because of my deep personal interest in Strategic Thinking, and I have not been disappointed.

I love the author’s break down of the Strategic Thinking process into two components:

- insight about the present;

- foresight about the future;


and her argument that visual thinking stimulates both processes.

She also defines and makes very clear distinctions between the terms ‘insight’ and ‘foresight’ as well as ‘forecast.’

She then moves on to introduce her seven principles of Strategic Thinking in the context of the New Science, and elaborates at length her ten-step Futurescape mapping process.

To me, her Futurescaping is an extremely innovative expansion of the Mindscaping process created by Nancy Margulies in her book, 'Mapping Innerspace', which I had reviewed earlier.

She goes on further to differentiate her Futurescape from the traditional mind-mapping process, developed by Tony Buzan. I thought that was great, as I have always felt that mind-mapping is only good for organising personal notes and dumping quick ideas on to paper.

I love to play with the Futurescape mapping process, in the light of its ability to present the big visual picture, showing the dynamic interactions and inter-relationships of abstract concepts as well as complex issues.

With hindsight from my own consulting work, I am firmly convinced that Futurescaping can be a very powerful tool for strategic visioning by companies/organisations, as part of their annual business planning exercise. It will allow “left-brain thinkers” to work harmoniously with “right-brain thinkers” to form a whole-brain approach for designing the preferred company future.

The book is divided into two equal parts:

Part 1: Understanding the New Science;

Part 2: The Art & Science of Visual Thinking.;

In the first part, she outlines and explains many of the New Science terms very well. For once, “butterflies and hurricanes” make some real sense to me. The second part is essentially the application part of the author’s visual models. As the author puts it, it is also the framework for the new planning paradigm, as defined by the New Science.

While reading this book, it reminds me of another good book, 'The Next Common Sense', by Michael Lissack. There seems to be a common thread among the two books.

Both authors argue and support very strongly the visual thinking metaphors as powerful tools for comprehending complexity. I strongly recommend readers to get hold of the book, too.

Again, this is another good book that you just can’t read it in one go and put it on your shelf. You have to peruse it, think about it, reflect, and then make use of the Futurescape mapping process.

To paraphrase the author, ‘The present is the future in its most creative state.’ Futurescaping will allow you to put your creativity to work immediately.

On the whole, the author’s writing style is very easy-going, & as well as crisp & succinct.

BOOK REVIEW: 'CHANGE THE WAY YOU SEE EVERYTHING: THROUGH ASSET BASED THINKING', by Kathryn Cramer & Hank Wasiak

At first glance, this book seems quite exciting, judging from its colourful presentation format, with visually appealing photographs, breezy light text & catchy phrases. After perusing it, I regret to find that it offers neither breakthrough ideas nor revolutionary approach.

In the field of business writing, the concept & philosophy behind ABT (what I would term as perceptual sensitivity or acuity) was first broached by Edward de bono in the early 70's with his series of lateral thinking books, starting from the ground-breaking `Mechanism of Mind.' His former discipline, Michael Hewitt-Gleeson from Down Under went on to expand his former mentor's ideas by introducing the CVS2BVS equation in his book, `Software for Your Brain.' He even created a web-based School of Thinking to teach his stuff.

Many business consultants/authors have since then come out with their own insightful interpretations. They include, to name just a few, Joel Arthur Barker (`Future Edge'), Jerry Wind (`The Power of Impossible Thinking'), J Philip Kirby (`Thoughtware'), Moshe Rubinstein (`The Minding Organisation'), Mark Brown ('Dinosaur Strain'), & Luc de Brabandere (`The Forgotten Half of Change'). A few others even introduced some creative twists to the original concept, e.g. Wayne Burkan's 'Wide Angle Vision' (or 'Splatter Vision') & George Day's `Peripheral Vision.'

Coming back to this book, I would like add that I actually enjoyed reading the inspiring stories of real people & also doing the workouts & reflections, some of which may seem absurd to some readers.

At the end of the book, the authors have provided some ABT cards which one can pull out & create laminated cards for sharing the ideas with others. The authors have also incorporated one last visual challenge at the end of the book, What Do You See?.

I am particularly intrigued as to why the authors did not include a bibliography or references at the back of the book.

On the whole from the standpoint of enhancing perceptual sensitivity or acuity, I would rate this book highly for its colourful presentation, brilliant simplicity & catchy metaphors, although I am quite inclined to rate it lower in the light of what I have just reviewed.

To all those readers who have not read any of the books mentioned in this review, I want to say that this book is still worthwhile to be read & played with.

Additionally, I would recommend:

- 'Playful Perception: Choosing How to Experience Your World', by Herbert Leff;
- 'How to Use Your Eyes', by James Elkins;
- 'The Playful Eye: An Album of Visual Delight', by Julian Rothenstein;

for those readers who are keen to explore further.

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

What impact have my actions had on others today?


What impact have my actions had on achieving my personal goals?

What impact have my actions had on my own future?

What did I learn today from my own actions?

How will I improve tomorrow?

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"To change the world one must choose not to be an observer but an actor; not a watcher but a doer; not a spectator but a player."

(source unknown)

PARETO’S LAW

Pareto's Law is named after Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian agricultural economist.

As an avid gardener, he first observed that, while gardening, 20% of the pea pods in his garden yielded 80% of the peas that were harvested. He later observed, while researching & analysing wealth & income distribution trends in 19th century England, during which he noted that 20% of the people owned 80 % of the wealth.

He then tested his law in other countries, & in all sorts of distribution scenarios, with which he was able to confirm that the law, & similarly imbalanced numerical correlations, could be used reliably as a model to predict & measure all kinds of situations.

The law is also known by many other names:

- the 80/20 Rule or Principle;

- the Principle of Least Effort;

- the Principle of Imbalance;

- the Rule of the Vital Few, & other combinations of these expressions.

At the simplest level, the law suggests that, where two related data sets or groups exist, typically, in terms of cause & effect, or input & output:

- 80 % of your results come from 20 % of your efforts;
- 80 % of your activity will require 20 % of your resources;
- 80 % of the difficulty in achieving something lies in 20 % of the challenge;
- 80 % of your revenue comes from 20 % of your customers;
- 80 % of road traffic accidents are often caused by 20 % of drivers;
- 80 % of your time spent on this website will be spent on 20 % of this website;
- 80% of the meaning in a given text will come from 20% of the words or phrases; & so on;


Remember for any particular situation the precise ratio can & probably will be different from the 80:20, but the law will apply nevertheless, and in many cases the actual ratio will not be too far away from the 80:20.

Over the years, I have learned, during the course of business planning, problem solving, decision making, & change management, that this law can be applied to itself & the predictable imbalance can be extrapolated to illustrate that:

- 4 % of your effort i.e. 20 % of the 20 % of the vital few will yield 64% of the results i.e. 80 % of the 80 %;

& even further:

- 1 % of your effort will yield 50% of the results;

For this reason:

- 50 % improvements in performance are often possible with only minimum effort!

As you can see, you don’t have to be perfect & try to fix everything, you just have to be able to focus on the vital few!

Therefore, Pareto's Law should serve as a daily reminder to focus 80 % of your time & energy on the 20 % of your activities that are really important.

To paraphrase Stephen Covey, you should always focus on the Big Rocks!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"A belief is a perceptual framework which leads us to see the world in a way that reinforces that framework."

(Edward de bono)

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

What am I doing well today?

What needs changing?

What obstacles are standing in my way?

What strategies can I call upon to overcome them?

What are the next steps I can take to get started?

THE TOP TEN PER CENT

Brian Tracy shared this very illuminating lesson, in the form of a very beautiful analogy, in his book, 'Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life':

Remember, every one in the top ten per cent started on the bottom ten per cent.

The way to get to the front of the buffet line of life, where all the good things are to be found, is simple.

- FIRST, GET IN LINE!

- SECOND, STAY IN LINE!

Once you start moving toward personal excellence. Keep learning & practise until you get there.

The buffet line of life is moving. It never closes. It is open twenty four hours per day.

Everyone get in line & stay in line eventually gets to the front.

Nothing can stop you from getting into the top ten per cent except yourself.

Monday, July 9, 2007

BOOK REVIEW: 'DAYDREAMING - UNLOCK THE CREATIVE POWER OF YOUR MIND', by Diane Barth

A straight-forward, comprehensible, intelligent exposition of the value of daydreams!

Daydreaming is a very fascinating phenomenon. For as long as I can remember, I have been a daydreamer.

According to experts, daydreams are "coded communications" which can yield abundant clues, when examined, about ourselves & our hidden needs, desires & potential.

Ever since I have read about Albert Einstein's daydreaming ventures, which eventually inspired him to fine-tune his famous 'Theory of Relativity', I have been hooked by this subject.

This book is one of my first books on the subject. I acquired it because, firstly, it was written by a highly-respected psychoanalyst & psychotherapist, which gives the book some credibility.

Secondly, I was trying to tie up some "loose ends" in my understanding - & further application - of strategic thinking & scenario planning.

In the three leading books, among many others, on strategic thinking & scenario planning, namely,

- 'The Art of the Long View: Planning for the Future in an Uncertain World', by Peter Schwartz;
- 'Scenarios: the Art of Strategic Conversations', by Kees van der Heijden; &
- 'The Living Company: Habits for Survival in a Turbulent Business Environment', by Arie de Geus;

there was specific mention about the research work of Dr. David Ingvar, a neuro-scientist in Sweden, concerning 'memories of the future.' In short, he talked about the brain's innate ability to anticipate the future through imagined stories (or scenarios).

Parallel in my relentless pursuit, I have read & digested a few brain books by another neuro-scientist, Dr. William Calvin. He talked about 'ballistic prowess': in short, the brain's natural propensity for strategic visioning (thinking about the future).

By implication, all of us have this uniquely human ability to think ahead, to project ourselves into the future, & to launch a plan of attack that hits the intended objective.

This book, especially Part 1:

- what is a daydream;
- understanding the symbols in your daydreams;
- searching for the familiar in the unfamiliar;
- using daydreams to cope with fears;
- how day dreams & night dreams connect;
- using your daydreams at work;

has enlightened me tremendously, particularly to the application of daydreaming at work & to its practical connection to strategic thinking & scenario planning processes.

Now I know, in many respects, daydreaming is more subtle, whereas strategic thinking & scenario planning are more deliberate attempts to think ahead.

Combining all these approaches in a systematic manner & syn-convergently (with apologies to Michael Gelb), & as part of further experimentation, I want to make more deliberate, conscious as well as subtle, unconscious attempts to allow the more vital, hidden clues to surface. This will serve as my work in progress as I continue to pursue better understanding of these domains through reading & experimentation.

The author's suggested practice exercises are well-thought of & the recommended personal dream journal is certainly a helpful aid.

Despite the 'new-agey' connotations of daydreaming, I am impressed that the author has blessed readers with a straight-forward, comprehensible, intelligent exposition of the value of daydreams.

With my personal inputs on strategic thinking & scenario planning, as outlined above, I trust readers will now have a better perspective to pursue daydreaming.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

AXIOM OF SUCCESSFUL LIVING

According to Marilee McLeod, author of 'How to Live Happily Ever After: A Guide for Successful Living':

Life is 10% what happens to you & 90% how you respond to it.

You are not a loser if you don't choose to be. Realise that & get on with your life.

Try not to look at things DE-STRUCTIVELY, but rather CON-STRUCTIVELY.

Remember that it's not what happens to you, but how you respond to what happens to you that really matters. There's an old saying that goes : When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!

Learn how to turn a NEGATIVE into a POSITIVE & you will never go wrong.

Focus on the good things as well. Take pride in what you've managed to accomplish up till now.

Incidentally, this reminds me of Jack Canfield, who states in his book, ‘The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be’, a simple equation that you can use in taking responsibility for your own life & for changing the desired outcome that you want in your own life.

That formula is:

E + R = O (Event + Response = Outcome)

An ‘Event’ in the external environment always happens. This is a fact of life.

Taking the ‘Event’ and adding your ‘Response’ creates the ‘Outcome’. This is the essence of the equation.

An ‘Outcome’ can sometimes come across as not controllable or out of control. However, your response is controllable. How you ‘Respond’ in a given situation, based on the ‘Event’, guides & determines the ‘Outcome’.

You cannot control the ‘Event’ & neither can you control the ‘Outcome’, but you can always control your ‘Response’ to the ‘Event’, thus eventually paving the way to guide & determine the ‘Outcome’.

How you ‘Respond’ to an 'Event' in any given situation is a choice. Exercising this choice is a reflection of your maturity & character.

It is interesting to note that, in reality, you are the h-E-R-O of your own life's journey, because for every EVENT, it is your RESPONSE that decides the OUTCOME for you!

BOOK REVIEW (V): 'WHY WE WANT YOU TO BE RICH', by Donald Trump & Robert Kiyosaki

[continue from Part IV. This is the final part.]

My End Analysis of the Book:

Readers who are seriously looking forward to specific methods to become rich in this book will definitely be disappointed, although there are some really good stuff - practical insights - on developing personal change-readiness as well as a 'play to win' investing mindset.

I want to say this: There is no MAGIC FORMULA! In fact, RK personally puts it in no uncertain terms on page 50:

"You need to find the style & method that is best suited for you. While it is important to learn from people like Warren & Donald, it is also important to find your own formula."

In fact, both authors repeat this message on one of the end pages:

"Each person needs to find the magic formula that fits him or her best...You will need to find your own magic formula."

It is quite sad to note that the two authors have not done their home-work assignment properly, as I would have envisaged. Otherwise, it would have been a great book!

For readers who have not yet read any of RK &/or DT's books, then I would say this book is still worth reading. You can use it a mental springboard to determine what you really want, what motivates you & whether you want to be rich.

I want to take this opportunity to say this:

Many of RK's thoughtwares (derived concepts of: self-education; ideas in the head equal cash in the hands; power of leverage; precession; gung-ho attitude towards challenges; do what you love & love what you do; & playing to win, with everyone as winners, etc.) have impacted me very much, especially during the times when I embarked on the second half of my life journey during the early nineties.

However, I do not condone his modus operandi. As a trainer/coach, he is genuinely very motivational & inspirational, & sincerely wants to help people. This is the kind & gentler side of RK, which is lesser known to the public at large. He loves to push people to the edge, just as he had done to me at the boot-camp, to which I will always be eternally grateful.

Otherwise, till today, I would probably have remained a corporate rat - looking good, but going nowhere.

Today, I am retired, not rich & not poor either, but in my own way. I still go globe-trotting, as & when I want. I have visited India once & have criss-crossed China (including the ancient Silk Road) several times, just to feel the pulse.

My friendly advice to RK is this:

Bob, please stop lambasting stockbrokers, real estate brokers, financial planners, bankers & insurance agents! Please tone down - or better still - get rid of your contemptuous attitude towards people who opt for "get a job, work hard, get out of debt, save money, diversify..." Just learn to be magnanimous. By doing do so, you will not alienate so many people across the globe! Likewise, less people will throw spanners at you!

Last but not least, please don't insult the intelligence of your readers & don't rehash again in your future writings!

My friendly advice to DT:

Don, Please keep up with the good work! & if you write again, think about what I have suggested.

Lastly, & in concluding this review, I have enjoyed reading - & dissecting - this book, despite the foregoing shortcomings.

BOOK REVIEW (IV): 'WHY WE WANT YOU TO BE RICH', by Donald Trump & Robert Kiyosaki

[continue from Part III]

For the benefit of potential readers, let me share some interesting observations from the book:

DT:

- It's important to know about yourself & your inclinations before setting out on any path, new or otherwise.

- Remember: Write your own script. Then produce it yourself & find yourself living the way you want to. That's freedom, that's power & that's winning.

- Remain open to ideas you might not normally entertain.

- Don't underestimate yourself or your possibilities. Whether you're 6 or 60, there are still a lot of great opportunities out there. The good life isn't over until you give up on it.

- It's easy to become careless when things are going well, so keep yourself focused.

- 1) You have to be good at what you're doing, & 2) you have to have the courage to take the leap & go for it yourself;

- Singleness of purpose is required if you want to have your own business;

- If you have the inspiration & are able to combine it with diligence & focus, I would advise you to think about owning your own business;

RK:

- "We are all born rich. We all have been given the most powerful lever on earth, our minds...so use your mind for leverage to make you rich rather than to make excuses."

- If your financial education increases, you will start to recognise financial opportunities everywhere;

- If you want to be an entrepreneur, you need to know how to sell;

- To be a true entrepreneur, you need to be smart & love to learn.

- Constantly ask yourself: "Am I ahead of the world or am I falling behind?"

- Constantly ask yourself: "How can I profit from these changes? "

- Of the three, Health, Wealth & Happiness, 'Health' is the most important; also Love is the key to a life of health, wealth & happiness. It is easier to be healthy if you are happy. It is easier to be wealthy if you are happy. & it is easier t be happy if you are in love with what you are doing.

- If you cannot lead yourself, you will not be able to lead others;

- Intelligence is the ability to solve problems;

[to be continued in Part V]

BOOK REVIEW (III): 'WHY WE WANT YOU TO BE RICH', by Donald Trump & Robert Kiyosaki

[continue from Part II]

Now, these are the really bad or not-so-good stuff:

1) As typical of all his earlier books, RK continues to back-track on old grounds - balance sheet basics, cash flow quadrant, entitlement mentality, groupthink, leverage, real estate investing, etc. Yes, Repetition is the mother of learning, but don't get carried away!

2) I am intrigued when both authors make a sweeping statement on page 50:


"In many ways that will be explained later in this book, both Donald & I can beat Warren (Buffet)'s rates of returns on investment."

Yet, at the end of the book, they do not provide any shred of evidence or even anecdotes to substantiate it. A case of sour grapes?

3) On page 51, RK's response:

"One reason: If you do not decide to become rich, the chances are you will become poor."

He continues on page 251:

"...That is why it amuses me when I meet people who are looking for a job or pay a pay rise or wondering how they are going to make a few extra dollars. Obviously, they live in a different world than I do."

Such written statements are uncalled for. Asians believe these reflect very badly on your upbringing.

4) The title of Chapter 4 is 'How to Make Yourself Rich' & RK answers the question with this spurious remark:

"If you want to make yourself rich, solve problems. Identifying a problem creates the opportunity for creating a solution."

The rest of what he writes has nothing to do with problem solving.

In the same breadth, DT has his say, too:

"It's a matter of leadership & the ability to solve problems...Problem solving is education at its best"

as he relates the story of the fabulous $90 chair vs. the expensive $1,500 one.

Unfortunately, both authors do not offer practical hints about this important aspect of leadership. I would love to know their operating model for problem solving.

6) RK gives the subtle impression that he or his Rich Dad has created 'The 90/10 Rule of Money'.

According to information technology geeks in my circle of close friends, the 90/10 Rule came from software engineering. A FORTRAN programmer wrote about it in the early seventies. He argued that "a computer program spends ninety per cent of its execution time from ten per cent of its code of instructions." Operationally, it's no different from Pareto's Law, or better known as the 80/20 Rule!

7) RK still thinks very highly of his brainchild: the ESBI or cashflow Quadrant. It may be a fun tool but I think it is flawed. It puts a lot of undue psychological pressure on the uninitiated. Not everyone can be a 'B' or an 'I'. In fact, not everyone wants to be a 'B' or an 'I'. RK is seemingly contemptuous of people who are E's or S's. A vibrant economic society needs a natural balance of E's, S's, B's & I's.

My sense is that RK is obviously out of sync with our current knowledge era, where collaborative networks & virtual task forces are dominating the corporate as well as business landscape. We need all the E's & S's as well as all the B's & I's to get the economy running on all cylinders!

In fact, I would urge RK to redesign the Cashflow Quadrant such that each quadrant offers an opportunity to excel as well as a choice to upgrade. For example, a person in 'E' should be encouraged to be an 'S' by thinking of himself as self-employed & the boss of his own life & work.

To all the hard-working employees out there, let me say this: WE ARE ALL SELF EMPLOYED!

8) With due respect, the B-I Triangle on page 148 is just a playful variation - from the semantic standpoint - of the original business model taught, during most of the nineties, in the one-day 'Nuts & Bolts of Organisation' & 3-1/2-day 'Money & You' seminars.

[I had attended both seminars. The latter was a prerequisite to the boot-camp.]

RK was a past part-owner & instructor of the seminars. In fact, these seminars have their origins from the now-defunct Burklyn Business School in Vermont, CA, founded in the late 70's by Marshall Thurber. The latter was one of RK's Rich Dads. Remember, Rich Dad is a composite.

9) Among the thirteen traits of "people who are successful" highlighted on page 165: I simply pick out one of them: 'HUMILITY'.

The way RK writes this book as well as most of his other books, often taunting other people he has classified as "the poor" or "traditionally educated", he does not in reality portray or project the image of humility to readers. I see only the antonym: ARROGANCE!

10) I would consider the entire 'Part Three', comprising Chapter Fourteen to Chapter Twenty, as a ragtag collection of pad factors & filler stuff. To me, they are redundant pieces. In fact, by having these chapters in the book, RK has unwittingly put himself in a much tighter spot now.

Let me expound.

For example, in Chapter Seventeen, on page 188, RK's response: "I also learned to follow & give orders. In other words, I learned leadership." Gee, Bob, are you kidding ?

There are also some puzzling inconsistencies:

In his opening statement on page 187, he offers "three reasons he went to a military school."

In his debut book, & even at the boot camp I had attended, he said he had joined the Merchant Marine Academy because "he wanted to go to sea, travel to exotic places, drink booze, & hang out with beautiful girls." He had also revealed that he had served as a helicopter gunship pilot on board an air-craft carrier.

On page 118, he writes:

"In 1969, when I graduated from the Merchant Maritime Academy in New York, I considered going to Wharton also."

Then, on page 189, he continues:

'After four years of the academy, I volunteered for the Marine Corps...'

Let's go back to page 95 in 'Chapter Seven - Choose Your Battle & Battlefield', where he writes in the opening paragraph:

"I learned the importance of choosing your battle & your battlefield in military school, & it was reinforced in the Marine Corps..."

Did he go to military school or merchant school?

11) In the end pages under 'Conclusion: Self Evaluation', I note that there is a repeat of the 'Cone of Learning'. It would have been more appropriate if both authors design & put in some sort of a change readiness quiz or audit. The questions they have posed in the 'Conclusion: Self Evaluation' can be easily dove-tailed into this quiz or audit. This would have been an excellent closure of the book.

12) We are now coming to a very sensitive issue, which has always been a bone of contention (occasionally a ruckus) among many 'Rich Dad Poor Dad' seminar participants in my part of the world.

On page 159, DT writes:

"The rich get richer, in most cases, because it's easier to invest when you have the money to invest to begin with."

On page 252, RK's response, under the sub-heading: Winning 'the Money Olympics':

"For people starting with nothing, yet want to be rich, I often suggest they imagine wanting to win an Olympic Gold Medal...."

I can really understand DT's remark because of where he comes from. For RK, it's a totally different matter. Till this day, RK has never been able to fully address this sensitive issue. The example about the Olympic Gold Medal he writes about is seemingly his characteristic propensity to run circles around people who continue to seek pertinent answers. Perhaps, RK's exact words on page 20, "Most rich people don't want others to know how they got rich..." ring true!

[to be continued in Part IV]

BOOK REVIEW (II): 'WHY WE WANT YOU TO BE RICH', by Donald Trump & Robert Kiyosaki

[continue from Part I]

First, let me begin with the really good stuff:

1) The book is written almost as a workbook, where readers are asked to reflect on some open-ended questions at the end of major chapters, so that you can start to build your own 'viewpoints' just as the two authors have shared their 'viewpoints'. This is certainly a good strategy to engage readers.

2) The use of the cone of learning (or learning pyramid) on page 125 to alert readers is a really good tool to push readers into an active learning mode. Learning is not a spectator sport!

3) Comparatively, I must say DT deserves a huge pat on the back as he has some ostensibly finer points in the book:

i) On page 32, he writes:

"There is a certain amount of living on the edge that's needed if one is to excel."

ii) On page 53, against the backdrop of emergent global changes in China & India, he writes:

"Philosophy is one way to try to comprehend the inexplicable things & events we all encounter at some point in our lives...The biggest risk we have now is being prepared for the future. As we have seen, there are no guarantees, but being ready sure beats being taken by surprise."

He continues on page 56:

"How can you use this information to your advantage? The rich will spot the opportunities while the poor will hide their heads...can you spot opportunities that may arise from these economic changes?"

iii) On page 66, he writes

"I have learned that what is essential can sometimes be invisible to the eye. That's where discernment comes in. Leaders are those people who have replaced fear with discernment, which they can predict the inevitable."

iv) On page 82, while exploring 'What are your Natural Instincts', he writes:

"After a while, you develop a sixth sense, an instinct about when patterns might change."

v) On page 84, he writes:

"Distilling something down to its essence can take time & a great deal of thought. That's a good reason to read great thinkers & writers - in many cases, they've already done the distilling process for us."

vi) His advice on 'Play to Win' on page 92 is a commendable piece of work;

vii) On page 144, he writes about 'Flashes':

"Creativity is also related to intuition, something I believe in. Some things are just inexplicable, but the creative mind can grasp them & put them into tangible form."

viii) On page 151, he writes about 'Think expansively':

"To entrepreneurs, thinking expansively includes seeing what is possible & making it happen. Entrepreneurs see the vision & call it good sense & inevitable. The rest of the world calls it innovation."

As he relates the story of a composer who combined Renaissance music with fractal geometry as well as the second chair story, he writes:

"That's the first step to visionary status - seeing something & knowing it could be different or better."

However, to my utter disappointment, DT does not deliberate further on each of these valid points from the perspective of a CEO.

Throughout the book, I note that both authors simply love to ramble about 'vision', 'power of vision', 'visionaries', 'ability to see through', 'vigilance', 'patterns' & 'creativity' & 'change starts in the head', but do not make concerted efforts to intellectualise them in depth & breadth for the benefit of more discerning readers.

Putting them together, I can readily see that the raised points accentuate the significant role of opportunity sensing/recognition. In layman terms, & put it in another way, how does one see or recognise opportunities? How does one develop this sensory acuity?

In the marketplace, a lot of established consultants (e.g. Edward de Bono, Michel Robert, Nigel MacLennan, Robert Tucker, Art Turock, just to name a few) have written about this subject. Well-known academics (e.g. Robert Singh, Jeffry Timmons, Karl Vesper, etc.) have also taken a more scholarlistic approach on the subject.

As far as I know, no real entrepreneur - &/or no one from the university of hard knocks - has entered into the foray to share their real-world, street-wise insights.

By virtue of their business track records, both authors would have done a marvellous job here, only if they have really sat down together to contemplate & deliberate on it!

I am very sure there are a lot of powerful stuff inside the heads of both authors! I am very surprised to note that both of them have powerful resources & yet they don't tap them. DT has Trump University professors. RK has Rich Dad Advisors & Insiders. Both authors should have got their respective people to move their big fat butts!

4) RK's basic model for wealth creation, comprising the elements of leverage, control, creativity, expansion & predictability, with the attendant anecdotes, is interesting. To me, it's also a valid model.

5) I reckon 'Part Four - If you were in my Shoes, What would you do?' is generally very well written. Both authors have wisely addressed all the possible scenarios in terms of:

- I am still in school, what should I do?
- I am an adult without much money, what should I do?
- I am a baby boomer without much money, what should I do?
- What if I am already rich, what advice do you have for me?
- why do some people who want to be rich..fail to become rich?

In RK's response to 'What Should I Study?', I would add 'Foreign Languages', especially the Chinese Language, to 'Accounting' & 'Business Law'.

Additionally, I would urge students to also focus on building multi-skill sets in their repertoires. DT's response here is exceptionally good. I would urge student readers, if any, to read this section carefully. Take note of his two questions:

- what would you do if you didn't need money?

- what would you do if you knew you couldn't fail?

I really like DT's as well as RK's high-touch response to the third question in this section of the book. At this juncture, to digress a little bit, I am curious to know whether the reported story about DT, his limousine & the out-of-job mechanic is true?

6) Interestingly, in 'Chapter Twenty-Four' RK lists out ten possible reasons why people fail to become rich. In fact, these are the same reasons why people don't set - & get - their goals. It will be a really good exercise for readers to think through the reasons.

In the same chapter, both authors share their views on building environments to support wealth creation, which I generally concur:

RK's view: "The right environment is essential to developing your genius...Sometimes the fastest way to change & improve yourself is simply to change your environment."

DT's view: "A good way to deal with environments that are not ideal is to maintain your focus....focus on solutions."

[to be continued in Part III]