Saturday, August 25, 2007

NOTES FROM MY SCRATCH PAD: NINE PRINCIPLES TO TRANSFORM THE WAY YOU WORK

Pamela Meyer, author of 'Quantum Creativity' offers the following nine principles to help you transform the way you work:

1) Listen to your essence: tap the power of your intention & silence;

2) Follow your passion: turn your inspiration into action;

3) Abstain from judgement: remove blocks to your creativity;

4) Say 'yes, and...': find opportunities in your obstacles;

5) Trust the process: discover the wisdom of your patience;

6) Embrace chaos: learn nature's lessons in creativity;

7) Show up & pay attention: be here now, & now, & now;

8) Make continuous discoveries: cultivate your curiosity;

9) Allow the boundaries to free you: encounter unlimited possibilities within your limits;


[More information about Pamela Meyer & her work can be found on her corporate website.

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"The things to do are: the things that need doing, that you see need to be done, and that no one else seems to see need to be done. Then you will conceive your own way of doing that which needs to be done — that no one else has told you to do or how to do it."

(R. Buckminster Fuller, Planet Earth's friendly genius)

GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR READING V

[continue from GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR READING IV]

The third step or stage in SQ5R or SQ7R is

R (1) = READ QUICKLY & SELECTIVELY

This is the quick & selective reading part of the entire reading process.

In a way, you are reading quickly and selectively to find the answers to all your questions (from your quick survey), & more importantly, to meet your purpose in reading.

From my personal experience, & in order to read quickly, you need a pacer. You can use your index finger as a pacer as your read.

As for me, I like to use a 4-colour marker pen, felt or roller ball.

Move your pacer i.e your index finger or marker pen, & glide it horizontally across the width of the paragraph, from left to right, just along the lower portion of each sentence as you read it.

When your pacer reaches the end of the sentence, move it quickly to the front of the next sentence below, and continue the motion as if you are continuously writing a "Z" with your pacer.

First, you can start by gliding it slowly as you read, and then pick up your speed as you feel comfortable reading faster.

The purpose of the pacer is to "guide" your eye balls in a steady manner.

Let me explain.

Our eye balls are hard-wired to move rapidly and naturally. In science, we call them saccadic movements. This has to do with our evolutionary design. Our forefathers were hunters-gatherers.

As hunters-gatherers, our eye balls had been hard-wired to scan the environment at far and open distances: to look out for animals to hunt, and at the same time, to watch out for predators!
So, when we read, which is at close range, we need to keep our eyes under control and guide them to read the small text in a steady manner.

Once you have all the questions formulated from the headings and subheadings, and also the review questions from the end of the chapter at the back of your mind, you can now begin to read quickly.

There are a few things to pay attention to when you read:

Read for key ideas - look out for at least one idea per paragraph - they are often located at the beginning &/or end of the paragraph; sometimes, in the middle of the paragraph.

Remember, the questions you have previewed or formulated earlier will often lead you to key ideas.

If possible, divide your chapter into small sections, rather than trying to read the whole chapter non-stop. Prompt yourself 'What is the main point here?' &/or 'What are the key ideas here?' before reading each paragraph or section, & then seek out your answers as you read.

At this juncture, I want to introduce you to two supplementary techniques to be used during the reading process:

The first supplementary technique, is learn to recognise "signal words".

Operationally, "Signal words" tell you what’s coming up as you read.

Watching out for "signal words" as you read quickly will immediately help you to focus your attention on information gathering. They often signal you to pay quick attention to the information that often follows the signals.

I have listed below some common signal words and also explain the appropriate meaning of the signals:

They signal an addition to the author’s original train of thought:

- also;
- in addition
- further;
- furthermore;
- lastly;
- moreover;
- first;
- second;
- secondly;
- too;


They signal changing, challenging or contradicting thought to the author’s original train of thought:

- although;
- after all;
- but;
- by contrast;
- however;
- nevertheless;
- on the contrary;
- yet;
- still;
- despite the fact;

They signal that the author is defining:

- referred to as;
- is;
- the same as;
- means;
- termed;
- defined as;
- means the same;
- a synonym for;

They signal that the author is pointing out similarities/differences:

- alike;
- similarly;
- likewise;
- by the same token;
- in the same vein;
- unlike;
- otherwise;
- different;
- contrasts with;
- on the other hand;
- opposite;
- as opposed to;

They signal that the author is introducing examples & illustrations:

- for example;
- for instance;
- specifically;
- in other words;
- i.e.;

They signal that the author is introducing some causes & effects:

- it is because;
- because;
- due to;
- results in;
- unless;
- effect;
- cause;
- the quality;
- attribute;
- for this reason;
- if;
- as a result;
- stems from;
- consequently;
- thus;
- therefore;
- hence;
- in response;

They signal that the author is helping readers to follow a sequence in time:

- in the meantime;
- next;
- soon;
- after a while;
- in time;
- of late;
- thereafter;
- afterwards;
- finally;

They signal that the author is repeating a point already made:

- in short;
- in brief;
- in conclusion;
- in other words;
- on the whole;
- in summary;
- to reiterate;
- to sum up;


Once you have recognised & understand these "signal words", you will begin to understand how the text in each paragraph is organised by the author.

This is the basis of the second supplmentary technique, which I will illustrate under R(2) in the next post.

[to be continued in GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR READING VI]

LEARNING A THING OR TWO FROM SINGAPORE

Every morning, the first thing I do is to answer the call of nature. I will have my morning papers, the Straits Times, with me.

I will often do a quick browse of the headlines & then take note of those serious articles I want to read later. This usually takes five minutes or so; ten minutes at the most. Then, I am off for my gym work after breakfast.

At night, before going to bed, I will re-read the Straits Times, especially those serious articles I have noted in the morning.

Last night, I had read an interesting article by Fauziah Ismail, based in Kuala Lumpur, under the Review page.

The focus of her article, targetted at Malaysians, was exemplified in the Malay saying: "Kuman di-sebarang laut nampak, gajah di depan mata tidak nampak" - "You can see a germ across the sea but not an elephant in front of you", which she had used beautifully as a preamble.

However, what struck my personal attention were these fascinating key points raised in her article:

"We sneer at Singaporeans' 'kiasu-ness' but do not realise that this fear of losing in a highly competitive society is what made Singapore what it is today...

"...Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Community Development, Youth & Sport said 'kiasu-ism' was not about being superior, but about survival."

"Ask any ordinary Singaporean if they feel superior," he said, "No oil, gas, palm oil, rubber, beautiful tourist spots or gems in the earth. What we have today is (the result of) hard work. If anything, we are probably insecure in that if we don't work hard, we will starve. Our focus on making money is actually survival. We are working to put food on the table for ourselves & our children. Any excess is put in reserves. This is security for the future."

Wow! What a refreshing way to put 'kiasu-ism' in positive light!

21 WAYS TO BE MORE CREATIVE

While surfing the net last night, I found this interesting article about '21 Ways to be more Creative'.

It was written by Christine Kane, a singer, songwriter, performer, teacher & writer from Ashville, North Carolina, USA. She has her own record label, 'Firepink'.

Here is the gist of her personal experiences with the '21 Ways':

1 - Stop watching television or better yet, get rid of the damn thing;

2 - Take a 20-minute walk everyday;


3 – Keep a journal;

4 - Write songs to your pets;

5 - Dance around the house while you make dinner;

6 - Walk in the rain;

7 - Make a collage;

8 - Make a list of things you love;

9 - Write 10 postcards to friends & family;

10 - Get up early and watch the sun rise;

11 - Listen to music you’ve never listened to before;

12 – Be a kid again & eat with your hands;

13 - Be quiet;

14 - Take a nap;

15 - Take photos of anything - real photos; not digital photos;

16 - Make an event out of watching the full moon come up;

17 - Read poetry aloud;

18 – Get out of the house & go see a play or live music or live anything;

19 - Visit a gallery;

20 - Write a letter;

21 - Stop watching television - this is an important one. It bears repeating. There are so many better things you can do than watch American Idol;


Many thanks to you, Christine, for sharing.

[If you want to read her original article or find out more about her & her work, please visit her corporate website. It's also her personal weblog.]

KIDS IN SCHOOL THINK QUICK!

I got the following stuff by email from a good friend recently.

I concur with him: Kids in school certainly think quick!


TEACHER: Maria, go to the map and find North America.
MARIA: Here it is!
TEACHER: Correct. Now class, who discovered America?
CLASS: Maria!

TEACHER: Why are you late, Frank?
FRANK: Because of the sign.
TEACHER: What sign?
FRANK: The one that says, "School Ahead, Go Slow."

TEACHER: John, why are you doing your math multiplication on the floor?
JOHN: You told me to do it without using tables!

TEACHER: Glenn, how do you spell "crocodile?"
GLENN: K-R-O-K-O-D-A-I-L"
TEACHER: No, that's wrong
GLENN: Maybe it s wrong, but you asked me how I spell it!

TEACHER: Donald, what is the chemical formula for water?
DONALD: H I J K L M N O!!
TEACHER: What are you talking about?
DONALD: Yesterday you said it's H to O!

TEACHER: Winnie, name one important thing we have today that we didn't have ten years ago.
WINNIE: Me!

TEACHER: Goss, why do you always get so dirty?
GOSS: Well, I'm a lot closer to the ground than you are.

TEACHER: Millie, give me a sentence starting with "I."
MILLIE: I is...
TEACHER: No, Millie..... Always say, "I am."
MILLIE: All right... "I am the ninth letter of the alphabet."

TEACHER: Can anybody give an example of COINCIDENCE?
TINO: Sir, my Mother and Father got married on the same day, same time."

TEACHER: George Washington not only chopped down his father's cherry tree,but also admitted doing it. Now, Louie, do you know why his father didn't punish him?"
LOUIS: Because George still had the axe in his hand.

TEACHER: Now, Simon, tell me frankly, do you say prayers before eating?
SIMON: No sir, I don't have to, my Mom is a good cook.

TEACHER: Clyde, your composition on "My Dog" is exactly the same as your brother's. Did you copy his?
CLYDE: No, teacher, it's the same dog!;

TEACHER : Harold, what do you call a person who keeps on talking when people are no longer interested?
HAROLD: A teacher!

Friday, August 24, 2007

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

1. What do I love to do most?

2. How could I do this to benefit others so that they would be willing to invest in it?

3. How could I do it to reach a multitude of people?

4. How could I do it intelligently so that it remains profitable?

[Source: Anthony Robbins]

NOTES FROM MY SCRATCH PAD: CAREER OPTIONS

The following notes came from Paul Stevens. He is the author of 'Stop Postponing the Rest of Your Life/Expand Your Career Horizons', published in the nineties.

1) Remain in your current job: No content change;

2) Enrichment: Develop your current job;

3) Vertical: Seek promotion from your current job;

4) Exploration: Test out option in the open job market;

5) Lateral: Make sideways move;

6) Realignment: Consider a down shift;

7) Relocation: Change your business unit;

8) Redirection: Change career field;

9) Proposal: Create a new job;

10) External: Change employer;

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"I'm very secure in my ability to focus on what I want. If I have an agenda or a goal, no one is going to deter me from what I want to do. When I'm trying to make a statement or prove something, I might joke around with you, but don't confuse that with changing my motivation. I'm still going to get up and work out in the morning, and do the necessary things. If you have something else you want to do, fine. I'll catch up with you. But I am not going to be talked into looking the other way."


(Michael Jordan)

MOVIE REVIEW: ‘THE BEAST OF WAR’, starring George Dzundza, Jason Patric & Steve Bauer

Originally, I did not want to watch this action movie on cable TV. The movie’s capsular synopsis did not excite me. In fact, I had deliberately skipped it several times. One afternoon, I happened to run out of movie choices. I was apparently stuck with only one choice: This was it.

I had finally watched it. It was generally a good action movie, with a heavy human component, but without all the electronic wizardry.

In a nut shell, this movie traced the gripping saga of a 5-member Soviet tank crew on the run for survival.

The setting was the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

The story began with the bloody destruction of a small Afghanistan village by a Soviet tank platoon. This was the most gruesome part of the movie.

During the aftermath, one of the tanks led by a sadistic & psychotic tank commander, Daskal (played by George Dzundra) got lost in the vast desert terrain. It was subsequently pursued relentlessly by a band of Mujahideen guerrillas, led by a young leader, Khan (played by Steve Bauer), as well as a rag-tag bunch of blood-thirsty Afghan women folks.

As the tank rumbled across the desert to find its way back to home base, internal conflict among the tank crew began to surface. The commander was extremely cruel in dealing with his tank crew. He was apparently tormented by his bitter memories of World War II, when the Germans invaded Stalingrad. As a kid, he was forced to blow up German tanks.

Koverchenko (played by Jason Patric) as the tank driver, was apparently torn between believing in his own conscience & just obeying orders. He knew that the commander was more obsessed with the tank from falling into enemy hands than to worry about the safety of the crew. He kept copious notes of what the commander had done wrong.

Among the remaining three crew members, one was an ethnic Afghan, who acted as a scout, while the other two crew members were quite blur & clueless as to what the commander was up to. When the commander finally shot the scout, suspected of being a traitor, Koverchenko blew his top at the commander.

Daskal, sensing a potential mutiny, quickly ordered the remaining crew to subdue Koverchenko & chain him to a barren rock, leaving him to die in the desert.

Under the hot sun, Koverchenko was almost stoned to death by the rag-tag bunch of blood-thirsty Afghan women folks, who seemed to be trailing the tank. Luckily, he was saved by the pursuing Mujahideen guerrillas. The young guerrilla leader somehow sensed why Koverchenko was left to die & decided to seek his help.

Probably concerned about his own survival, & reluctantly, especially after Khan had extended the typical Afghan hospitality of ‘nanawati’ (which mean ‘mercy’) to him, Koverchenko decided to switch allegiance & taught the guerrillas how to repair their rocket-propelled guns (RPG).

Meanwhile, despite the language barrier, some sort of mutual respect developed between Kahn & Koverchenko. Jointly, they went to hunt for the runaway tank.

[At this point, I was quite intrigued by a reported fact (or was it urban legend?):

During the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the United States supported, funded & trained the Mujahideen guerrillas. American Stinger missiles were used to shoot down Soviet helicopters.

The most famous Mujahideen fighter trained by the United States would happen to be Osama bin Laden. He fought against the Soviet military machine, much to the delight of the United States. The fact that the United States had invaded Afghanistan after 9/11 made this movie much more interesting to watch.

It is ironical that the Mujahideen guerrillas, now better known as the Taliban militants, & once supported & funded by the Americans, are now the enemies of the state.]

For me, the final scene was really poignant & quite complicated.

Anxiety & tension mounted as the Mujahideen guerrillas finally closed in, with the sole intent of destroying the Soviet tank.

The contempt of the commander from the crew obviously intensified as the commander struggled to lead the tank out of a mountain pass to escape into their home base. I could really feel the anguish & the fear of being captured by the guerrillas on the faces of the remaining tank crew.

For a rare moment, I could even see shock & fear in the commander’s eyes, after he had spotted Koverchenko colluding with the guerrillas through his binoculars.

The tank was eventually cornered & incapacitated. Koverchenko surprisingly stopped the guerrillas from killing the commander & the crew. They were allowed to walk away. Somehow, this part of the movie certainly put the guerrillas in good light.

Unfortunately, the commander, who was quite badly wounded during the final skirmish, was caught up - & stoned to death - by the rag-tag bunch of blood-thirsty Afghan women folks, while the other two crew members managed to escape.

The closing scene showed Koverchenko being picked up by a Soviet helicopter, after he had refused to rejoin the guerrillas. He waved them goodbye, as the guerrillas once again disappeared into the mountains.

The cinematography of the barren desert landscape & the rugged mountain terrain was really stunning & breathtaking. I was vividly transported into Afghanistan while watching this movie. My heart reverberated with the sweat & toil of the tank crew struggling within a confined compartment.

Naturally, there were some interesting snippets about how the Mujahideen guerrillas & their women folks survived & behaved in Afghanistan during the Russian occupation.

For me, this was an inspiring movie about the savagery of military conflict. It made the beast out of every man. From one perspective, I felt sorrow for the tank commander as he was completely shaped by his earlier bitter war experiences & yet, I felt he deserved to die for his wanton destruction of the Afghan village & the brutal treatment of his own crew.

Having watched the action movie 'Rambo III', also with Afghanistan as a backdrop, I thought this movie, was a completely refreshing change for me, at least in terms of understanding perspectives about human nature, social customs & belief systems. I still reckon this movie gave a relatively truer portrayal of the military conflict.

Naturally, this was essentially an American Hollywood production, with American actors playing Russian soldiers, & with English as the dialogue medium.

Interestingly, actors playing the guerrillas, including their young leader, Khan, spoke the Afghan native language, with English sub-titles in the movie. It was quite fun to hear them talking ‘RPG kaput’, ‘RPG kaboom tank’, etc.

However, these imperfections did not in any way diminish my good impressions of this movie.

I highly recommend this movie to all audiences. This movie should serve to remind all of us that military conflict, for whatever intents & purposes, should be avoided at all costs.

BOOK REVIEW: 'FROM IDEA TO LAUNCH AT INTERNET SPEED: HOW TO IDENTIFY & DEVELOP PROFITABLE OPPORTUNITIES', by Catherine Kitcho

Following my earlier review of 'Harnessing the Unicorn', by Pat O'Reilly, I came across this wonderful book, actually by accident, while surfing the amazon.com website for other books in the same genre.

Again, I was very happy to have obtained - and perused - the book.

This book is for any business professional who is involved in conceptualising, developing and/or launching new product ideas. The entire new product development cycle is well-captured. It is based on the author's personal/professional experiences and also her interviews with 20 other professionals.

This book contains a potent, streamlined, idea screening process, with six most important criteria: strategic fit, customer, competition, market, resources and profit. Each criteria is illustrated extensively, with examples, guidelines and discrete steps, by a separate chapter of the book. These chapters are worth the cover price of the book. To me, these areas are the most critical part of the new product development cycle.

The author also shares her many business models, which give you a refreshing look at strategy and planning for new products.

In the remaining chapters, the author touches on launching your new products and maintaining the momentum in the marketplace.

The accompanying CD contains many customisable templates, checklists and other tools. The author also has a corporate website.

Throughout the book, the author emphasises two strategic parameters: agility (in the decision-making processes) and profitability, without which new product ideas are simply useless! All her evaluation frameworks and screening tools in the book are designed for this purpose in mind.

My only complaint about this book: it has a very scanty bibliography. To others, this may seem trivial but to me, it is important as I often like to know more about what or who has influenced the author's thinking processes.

Nevertheless, I like this book very much, particularly for all the realistic process frameworks. The author's writing style is crisp and succinct. I will rank this book in the same genre with all my other books on opportunity management.

LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE

In the CATS RECRUIT page of today's Straits Times, Dr Terry Paulson, shares the following simple & yet sensible advice:

1) Be adventurous;

2) Keep learning;

3) Appreciate yourself;

4) Learn from mistakes;

5) Be with positive people;

6) learn to laugh;

7) Be happy & experience the power of gratitude;

He points out that optimistic people are happier & more successful.

[More information about Dr Terry Paulson can be found on his corporate website.]

BOOK REVIEW: 'NEW BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES: GETTING TO THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME', by Jeffry Timmons

This excellent book is among my personal collection of selected books written by Jeffry Timmons, who is internationally renowned and respected in the field of entrepreneurship education and research.

It follows Timmons' earlier book, 'The Entrepreneurial Mind', which I had already reviewed. In some way, it is linked to also Timmons' earlier (now revised/expanded for the 21st Century) pioneering book, 'New Venture Creation'.

What I like about this book is that it helps you to understand the critical difference between 'idea' and 'opportunity', and also how to evaluate each and pursue them. It has a focus on execution as opposed to just having ideas.

For an entrepreneur wannabe, a clear understanding of the distinctions between an 'idea' and an 'opportunity' can make or break the business or project success. As the saying goes, Clarity is Power!

In a nutshell, it helps you to answer many crucial questions at the onset, prior to embarking on your venture, for example:

- what is a good opportunity?
- why do a selected few opportunities inherently have much greater upside potential than all the rest?
- why and how do winning entrepreneurs often find the best opportunities?
- how can you find such opportunities? or create one?
- would you recognise an opportunity when you see it?
- how can you determine whether the opportunity will last?
- is it the right opportunity for you?
- can you determine to what extent it will add or create value, and thereby actually fill a customer need?


All the chapters in the book are well organised and systematically structured for easy follow-up reading.

The core chapters, which I find very useful, are as follows:

Chapter 1: what is an idea?
Chapter 2: enhancing creativity
(tickles your brain!);
Chapter 3: sources of new business ideas:
Chapter 4: recognising opportunities
(wow!);
Chapter 5: sources for opportunity screening (wow!);
Chapter 7: opportunity screening guide ( a real gem!);
Chapter 8: using other peoples resources or OPR (very interesting insight!);

The opportunity screening guide illustrated in the book is a real gem. It can really help you to determine whether you want to continue your initial pursuit and develop a complete business plan.

The remaining chapters, chapter 13, 14, 15 16 and 17 show how the three essentials of venture creation: opportunities, people and resources come together to face the many difficulties, which arise for entrepreneurs. With these enlightening chapters covering entrepreneurs in action, this book is deeply rooted in real-world applications plus 20 years of classroom refinement by the author.

Best of all and on the whole, the book is very easy to read and follow. Timmons writes very concisely and succinctly.

I strongly recommend this book to all entrepreneur wannabes to read - and reflect - before you embark on your pursuit.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

BOOK REVIEW: 'HARNESSING THE UNICORN: HOW TO CREATE OPPORTUNITY & MANAGE RISK', by Pat O'Reilly

First of all, the title is intriguing. When I read the subtitle, I was immediately attracted to this book.

I have always been very fascinated by the subject "opportunity management" and will scout for and pursue books, used and new, that touch on this subject. I am very keen to find out how different people recognise it, seize it, and deal with it in disparate environments.

When I read the inside jacket cover: "...is for any project manager, change agent, team leader, systems and product developer who needs to identify and exploit opportunities and, at the same time, to manage risk and uncertainty...", I knew I had found another good book on "opportunity management."

The author has spent 36 years in industry, first as a scientist, project manager, and R & D head, and for the past 16 years as a management consultant.

I must say he approached the subject very well, and he used a situational story in a corporate environment, involving a project executive (who is suffering from a daily diet of blame and shame for failed targets and missed deadlines; an irritating boss, irrational staff and irate customers; a job backlog, all of which are either emergencies, panics or mad crises - sound familiar?) and his mentor/colleague.

Written in a conversational style between the two, it is interspersed with real-world problem cases and helpful checklists. Frankly, I did not enjoy the "story-line". I thought it was quite boring to some extent. In fact, I did not even finish reading the whole story.

However, I just browsed through some 250 pages quickly and randomly, but noted down all the key points highlighted in bold print, and perused the summary at the end of every chapter, and also the consolidating summary at the end of the book. As a fast reader, I was more interested in the author's personal and/or professional experiences, and what his book can offer me in terms of learning points.

In a nutshell, I have not been disappointed.

In our fast-paced, rapidly-changing and constantly demanding world, this book offers refreshing insights about opportunity - and risk - management. I like particularly the author's specific categorisation of opportunities: copycat, windfall, hidden and imagineered opportunities, and his practical strategies for dealing with each of them.

His perspectives about risk management are also very illuminating. The checklists offered by the author are very helpful and also very useful.

I would recommend this book to every corporate executive, who wants to learn how to spot, to create and to manage opportunities in a high-risk, change-oriented environment.

I rank this absorbing book in the same genre as Art Turock's 'Invent Business Opportunities'; Edward de Bono's 'Opportunities'; Michel Robert's 'The Innovation Formula' & Peter Drucker's 'Innovation & Entrepreneurship'.

MOVIE REVIEW: ‘EIGHT BELOW’, starring Paul Walker

I recently watched this amazing & beautiful movie from Walt Disney Productions on cable tv.

My decision to watch this movie was partly influenced by an earlier entertaining movie, also from Walt Disney Productions, entitled ‘Snow Dogs’, starring Cuba Gooding, Jr., & James Coburn.

[In the latter movie, a dentist in Miami had inherited a pack of rowdy sled dogs from his mother, who had passed away in Alaska. He had to learn the trade quickly or lose his pack to a crusty mountain man, played by James Coburn.]

Throughout this movie, I was completed transfixed by the eight canine stars – according to the movie’s credits, there were actually eight pairs of them, totalling sixteen, with one of each pair in the close-up shots & the other one in the same pair, for the running sequences with the sleds.

Anyone who adores dogs cannot fail to fall in love with them! Frankly, they really stole my whole heart while watching them.

Apparently, this movie was inspired by a previously filmed, in a much more different format, as the Japanese hit ‘Antarctica’ during the eighties. The latter was based on an actual incident that happened in Antartica in 1957.

The movie setting in this case was a scientific research station in Antartica, but the story took place in the year 1993.

The story had a very simple plot: An eight-dog sled, originally led by an experienced field guide, Jerry Shephard (played by Paul Walker), was abandoned at the station in anticipation of a severe snow storm, coupled with the advent of the most unforgiving winter on the planet. In an earlier action sequence, Jerry & his sled team had rescued a mainland researcher, Dr Davis McClaren (played by Bruce Greenwood) from falling into a crevice, while undertaking a field trip across the glacier.

I understand the dogs came from huskies & malamutes, each with an unforgettable name in the movie: Maya (the lead dog), Jack, Shorty, Max, Truman, Dewey, Shadow & Buck. I like the ending part when Jerry introduced each of the dogs to Dr McClaren: “...All brawn & absolutely no brain. But we love them all.”

Left to fend for themselves, the rugged & resourceful dogs had to encounter dangers e.g. from attack by a leopard seal, at every corner, surviving for nearly six months on their own, while Jerry & his colleagues from the research station, with the aid of Dr McClaren, finally joined forces to mount a daring rescue mission.

For me, the movie captured the true essence of bravery, intelligence, loyalty & tenacity of the sled dogs. Obviously, each of the dogs had it own unique personality & yet they demonstrated devotion to the sled team, especially when they were completely on their own to hunt for survival.

In a nut shell, it was a truly family-type movie with an inspiring theme about the unwavering bond of friendship between man & his best friends.

The movie was made on actual locations in Norway, Greenland & northern parts of Canada with stunning nature cinematography.

Actually, watching this movie brought back some sweet memories of my trip to Greenland during the late nineties (it was spring time then), together with my late wife. We had taken a 8-dog sled on a round trip across the glacier for almost an hour. We even had a ten minute helicopter ride to enjoy a bird’s eye view of the breathtaking artic landscape.

Thank you to Disney for making this wonderful movie!

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

1) What would happen if I achieved this goal?

2) What would happen if I didn’t achieve this goal?

3) What wouldn’t happen if I achieved this goal?

4) What wouldn’t happen if I didn’t achieve this goal?

(Inspired by Richard Bandler, the progenitor of neurolinguistic programming technology)

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"I have come to discover through earnest personal experience & dedicated learning that ultimately the greatest help is self-help - doing one’s best, dedicating one’s self wholeheartedly to a given
task, which happens to have no end, but is an on-going process."

(Bruce Lee)

THE SECOND CYCLE

Yesterday, my gym buddy celebrated his 60th birthday in a very quiet way. [I will reach mine in April next year.] He has invited a few close friends, including myself & my wife, for a simple a la carte lunch at the Singapore Recreation Club (SRC).

After that, we adjourned to the Jasmine Room on the third floor for karaoke till 6pm. [This coming Sunday, he will celebrate the occasion again with his two sons & two grand-daughters.]

According to him, the 60th milestone represents the beginning of his second cycle of life. This is based on the Chinese zodiac, which goes one complete cycle in every sixty years.

My gym buddy is an electrical engineer by training. He was also my school mate, as well as my room mate, during the mid sixties, when we went to the same technical institute in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He was enrolled in the electrical class, while I was in the mechanical class.

[He was born in Malacca, Malaysia, while I was born in Singapore but brought up in Yong Peng, Johor, Malaysia.]

As a matter of fact, a few years later during the seventies, we joined the same company (Behn, Meyer & Co.,) to work from different directions & in disparate job functions. He was based in Malaysia & I was based in Singapore. We then both left at different times to pursue our individual career interests. As a result, we lost touch with each other.

Again, by a stroke of synchronicity, & out of the blue, we competed for the same managerial job in the Singapore subsidiary of United Motor Works (UMW), a large industrial conglomerate, during the early eighties. Fortunately, the then Chairman & General Manager were so impressed with both our credentials that two job offers were made. We worked together for about a year. He left later on to pursue his professional interests, but I was transferred to Thailand to manage the group’s manufacturing operations. As a result, we lost touch again.

In the early nineties, I left the corporate world to start my own strategy consulting firm.

Again, by another stroke of synchronicity, we met again during the early twenties, by which time, I had already retired from active consulting work, while he ran a successful electrical engineering consulting practice.

Today, he has more or less delegated much of his professional work to his eldest son, an ex-army Captain, who is also an engineer by training. His own wife currently looks after the finance. He has a younger son who is about to complete his national service. The latter is scheduled join the NTU by next year.

We go the public gym located at the neighbourhood Jurong East Sports Centre together every morning, from Mondays to Fridays.

Not contended with this arrangement, he even continues on his own (sometimes with his wife) with his jogging routines in the wee hours for 7 to 8 km every day, as well as high-intensity weight training at the gym in SRC during the afternoon, under the watchful eye of a certified personal trainer, twice a week.

On top of these strenuous physical activities, & together with his wife, he has scheduled social dancing sessions, five times a week, at the neighbourhood community clubs.

In recent months, he has also resumed his reading hobby. Like me, he is also a regular customer of amazon.com. To some extent, we have similar personal interests in brain fitness, mental toughness, healthy lifestyles & life extensions.

As part of his retirement projects during the golden years, he has lined up a handful of interesting physical & intellectual activities:

- To attend a portrait photography course;
- To learn how to cook with Chinese herbs;
- To document his weight-lifting & body building routines;
- To write, probably a bi-lingual blog, on brain fitness, healthy lifestyle & longevity;
- To create a variety of delicatessen, merging the best of East & West & using only natural ingredients;
- To take up an adult learning program, possibly at UniSIM;


As for delicatessen, he has done reasonably well, particularly in experimenting with home-dried fruit slices from apples, durians, & dragon fruit (from Vietnam). He has also made his own concoction of fruit jam, yogurt, plus frozen longan & strawberries. Making wine at home is also one of his past times.

Like Dr Nakamats, he has photographed each & every step of his home cooking processes. As a matter of fact, for the past one year, he has kept a photographic dossier of his body contour as a result of his structured training in the gym.

A few days ago, he has started to make his own version of moon cakes. For me, the initial batch turned out reasonably well for an amateur cook. Each cake is biscuit size, in thick crust, & best of all, not too sweet.

I will probably join him in some of his intended activities.

The birthday boy may have reached the cross-roads, but from the aesthetic perspective, he looks only about forty-five, based on feedback of friends & strangers we often meet in the gym & in the streets.

His personal motto: Have fun, be positive, stay healthy, age gracefully, & tell the world, your butt is mine! That’s what I would call the right spirit for the second cycle.

NOTES FROM MY SCRATCH PAD: AXIOMS OF OPPORTUNITY

1) Change invites vision & direction;

2) Change creates vast opportunities;

3) Windows of opportunity are brief;

4) If you don't create the future, someone will do it for you;

5) Dare to envision your future you prefer;

6) Trust your instincts; act quickly & decisively; you can thrive;

[Attributed to a Jeremy D Campbell]

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

IN LIFE, CHANGE EQUALS OPPORTUNITY!

Recently, while surfing the net, I stumbled on to an interesting ad from a certified life coach, Isabelle King of Kaleidoscopic Coaching Services, in Canada.

I was intrigued by what she wrote at the introduction to her own ad:

"Just as every new image viewed in a kaleidoscope represents an opportunity.

In a kaleidoscope, the same shapes are being used but because of the mirrors reflecting back shapes and colors, you see different images as it turns.

Life represents endless perspectives just like a kaleidoscope has an endless array of images.


It is the Perspective (or the image in the kaleidoscope) we choose to take on that will have an impact on our life and leave a lasting impression."

She believes that “the client is in control of viewing those endless images and perspectives.

The Coach, facilitates and points out the natural beauty but the client chooses the speed of change and what perspective to take on.”

What a refreshing way to illustrate 'Change Equals Opportunity!' & the pivotal role of a success coach.

Kudos to you, Isabelle!

[More information about Isabelle King & her work can be found on her corporate website.]

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

What can I do everyday to make my life rich & happy?

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"If you stop learning, there will be trouble in the short term.
If you stop strategizing, there will be trouble in the mid term.
If you stop innovating, there will be trouble in the long term."

(Stuart Tan, author, 'Secrets of Internet Millionaires')

BOOK REVIEW: 'STRATEGIC ANALYSIS FOR VENTURE EVALUATION THE SAVE APPROACH TO BUSINESS DECISIONS', by William Park

This is an excellent guide-book for project managers. It contains very highly organised techniques for measuring the success potential of virtually any project decision.

It been written by two eminently qualified authors - one, trained as an engineer & the other, an architect, but both had worked as principal economists & management consultants & involved in myriad project feasibility studies & new venture evaluations.

Of all the books I have in my personal library over the years that relate to project feasibility studies & new venture evaluations, this one is my personal favourite. It is also the most comprehensive & yet in-depth! It has assisted my professional work while I was working in the corporate world.

In a nut shell, this book has a very practical, well-structured & clearly-defined numerical rating system, ranging from rough processing to full evaluation, to help you in your exploration & evaluation, covering:

four (4) broad facets, namely:

- your product/service/activity (in terms of prospective performance, salability, defensibility);- yourself or your company (in terms of personal traits & relative strengths/weaknesses);

- your environment (in terms of possible effects);

- your venture (in terms of investment considerations & strategic possibilities;

These are broken down into:

- thirteen (13) general aspects;

These are further broken down into:

- sixty nine (69) individual factors;

The authors coin the acronym 'SAVE' (hence the book title, Strategic Analysis Venture Evaluation) to sum up their wonderful model. The model approach will definitely save you from potential failure.

Packed with forms, checklists, questions, it will compel your careful attention to all the factors involved in a new venture, thus preventing dangerous blind-spots. It also help to prevent over-valueing a few dominant factors that tend to distort decision/judgement.

As the authors contend in the inside cover of this book: "This is the only book that provide you with immediate answers to such complex questions as, How attractive is this proposed venture, to this company, organisation or individual, at this time, and under this set of conditions."

I highly recommend this book to all project managers!

GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR READING IV

[continue from GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR READING III]

The second step or stage in SQ5R or SQ7R is

Q = QUESTION

In this stage, the first important question you should ask yourself is:

‘What do I already know about this topic?’

[For me, I often ponder over these additional questions, which you may also want to consider:

- ‘What have I read or what have I experienced before that relates to this topic?”;
- ‘What am I expected to learn from this topic?’;
- ‘What do I want to learn from this topic?’;

Spend a few minutes thinking about them. If you are familiar with mind-mapping or clustering, draw a simple mind-map or a cluster map to jot down your initial thoughts.

The purpose of this focal question is to discover what you already know, what you need to know & what you don’t know.

Earlier, as part of your quick survey, you have already scanned the sectional headings and sub-headings.

The next immediate thing to do, under this step or stage, is to take those sectional headings as well as sub-headings, and then, convert all of them into questions, one by one, as you read.

By formulating questions in this manner, you are learning to put your mind into a questioning mode.

In other words, you will be reading very actively. In reality, you are beginning to probe & interact with the chapter or the book as you read.

For example, if the printed sectional heading or subheading in the chapter or in the book is, say “Hologram”.

Mentally, you convert it into a question, by asking yourself some questions as you read “Hologram”:

- ‘What is a Hologram?’;
- ‘How does it work?’;
- ‘Why is it important?’;
- ‘What do I expect to learn from it”?


By doing so, you are posing to your mind some questions. As you read further, naturally your mind will be searching for the answers to those questions. This technique is particularly useful in academic reading.

Think about it. The graphic symbol for question is a question mark "?”.

If you turn it upside down, it looks like a hook. Do you agree?

Questions therefore serve as memory hooks!

To put it in an operational perspective, reading is fishing for information - and ultimately, forming ideas.

In a nut shell, here are all the possible ways you can formulate your questions:

- What?
- Who?
- Where?
- When?
- Which?
- Why?
- How?
- How much or many?
- How frequent?

You can of course extend your questions to a higher level to include:

- So what…? What’s next?
- Says who?
- What if…?
- Why not…?
- What does this remind me of?
- How does this information fit into what I already know?


It takes a little bit of creativity to formulate your questions. Think of it as a Jeopardy game.

In reality, questions will always keep you mentally alert as you read. In fact, questions will also stimulate your curiosity in some way. They will also give you a greater sense of purpose to your search for answers & make the key ideas in the text visible to you as a reader.

Furthermore, from your quick survey, you probably have already read the end-of-chapter or review or discussion questions.

Indirectly, these deliberate questions, set by the author, will often point you to the important points of the chapter or the book.

Using these deliberate questions as your reference or focal points, your reading journey becomes a breeze as you already know what to look for.

[From time to time, I often noted from my personal experience, that some seemingly irrelevant questions – I like to call them, exploratory questions - may invariably come to mind as you scan through the terrain of the book. You should also take note of those questions.]

By consciously applying a series of questions as you convert each sectional heading or sub-heading into a question, & supplementing them with the author’s questions, &/or other questions that come to mind, you are actually having in a your hands a very powerful information gathering tool.

With the aid of this tool, you can gradually develop your ability to think more critically in your reading.

So, to conclude in one sentence, ‘question’ is ‘activate your search engine’.

Now, are you ready to go to the next step or stage?

[to be continued in GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR READING V]

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"Intuition does not always appear as the ingenious breakthrough or something grandiose. Intuitive thoughts, feelings, and solutions often manifest themselves as good old common sense. Common sense is efficient."

(Doc Lew Childre & Bruce Cryer, 'From Chaos to Coherence')

PEAK PERFORMANCE

To be a peak performer, you need to:

1) Focus on what you always do well consistently;

2) Make the best of what life brings;

3) Build on your strengths;

4) Do not dwell on your weakness;


The key to unlocking the door to what you do best is what do you like which you find yourself doing over & over again.

According to Gallup Consulting, the best way to develop yourself and net the greatest return on investment in your own personal growth is to identify your strengths, then expose yourself to skills, knowledge & experiences that build on those strengths to create consistently, perfect performances.

Their extensive research over the last thirty years indicates that we learn the most, change the most, and improve the most in those areas of our brain where we already have the strongest synaptic connections.

As Joseph LeDoux, professor of neuroscience at New York University & author of 'Synaptic Self: How Our Brains Become Who We Are', notes:

"New synaptic connections formed by activity [by 'activity,' he means practice, training, and experience] are not created as entirely new entities, but rather are added to . . . pre-existing connections. Added connections are therefore more like new buds on a branch rather than new branches. Activity thus does not produce wholesale rewiring of the brain."

There is a widespread belief that we can do anything well if we learn enough or try hard enough. Most training and development programs that attempt to teach "steps," "habits," or "behaviors" ignore the fact that everyone's steps, habits, and behaviors are different - and should be different if we are to use our natural talents and strengths. This remedial approach often produces disappointing results. It rarely, if ever, helps us achieve excellence, and it wastes training and development dollars.

According to Gallup Consulting, we should always emphasize developing areas of talent into strength, rather than correcting weaknesses.

[Source: 'Now Discover Your Strengths', by Marcus Buckingham. More information can be found at the author's corporate website.]

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

How do I make a profit & maintain it?

How do I keep my customers?

How do I get more customers?

How do I reduce my overhead?

How do I increase my sales?

How do I reduce my cost of operations?

BOOK REVIEW: ‘SCUPTING AIR: THE EXECUTIVE’S GUIDE TO SHAPING STRATEGY’, by Rich Horwath

In an earlier post, I have reviewed 'Storm Rider: Becoming A Strategic Thinker', by the same author. The author is Rich Horwath, Chief Strategy Officer of his own consulting firm, Sculptura Consulting.

(According to his corporate website, he has apparently renamed this firm as 'The Strategic Thinking Institute'.)

To recap, the earlier book outlines five essential skill sets for managers to become strategic thinkers:

- discovering purpose;
- creating differentiation;
- decision making;
- problem solving;
- sculpting strategy;

This time, in this newer book, he outlines the essential skill sets for senior managers as follows:

- Discovery;
- Strategic Thinking;
- Strategic Planning;
- Strategy Rollout;
- Strategy Tune-up;

From the intellectual standpoint, there is absolutely no basic difference between the earlier book & this book.

It seems the author has now put in a little more emphasis on the 'sculpting strategy' part & uses the metaphor of a sculptor in shaping a model.

He writes: "Strategy is to business as air is to life - essential, yet unseen. Properly channled, air becomes wind & strategy becomes intelligent action - both unleashing unparalleled power visible to all." I don't deny that.

Just like the earlier book, the author again takes the opportunity to promote his series of proprietary 'strategy shaping' tools, like StrategySphere, StrategyPrint systems.

Undoubtedly, the author has quite an impressive Fortune 100 client list. I must add: something really stands out from the author & his consulting firm.

Unlike many others, his firm offers a very well-structured & systematically-configured 'Strategist Training System', from beginner to advanced level. They consist of nine different programs delivered in an interactive workshop format. The author's two books apparently form a strategic part of the curriculum.

One of the author's many observations catches my eye:

"Research shows that the most important competency for a leader to possess is the ability to develop strategy. Unfortunately, only 4% of leaders at all levels of organisations are effective strategists."

This is certainly very interesting.

The author issues this ultimate challenge at the end of his book:

"Will you or your competitor be holding the chisel?"

I guess all senior managers out there better shape up or else you will get beaten.

On the whole, & to end this review, I still reckon that the two books mentioned in this review are worth to be read & to be included in your 'Strategic Thinking' bookshelf.

BOOK REVIEW: ‘STORM RIDER: BECOMING A STRATEGIC THINKER’, by Rich Horwath

I wish to reiterate: Out in the marketplace, there isn't very much good books written from the personal strategic thinking standpoint & within a professional setting.

I can only recall one really good one, & that is, 'Choosing the Future: The Power of Strategic Thinking' by Stuart Wells.

This particular one by the founder of the Scuptura Consulting firm is one I have recently come across (as it comes quite close enough).

After perusing it, I find it to be a good guide/resource, which any interested reader can add to their Strategic Thinking Bookshelf.

Most strategic thinking books focus on corporate planning, but this particular one brings the concept & philosophy of strategic thinking down to the individual tactical level.

According to the author, "Strategy is as much about what you choose not to do as it is about what you do." This is interesting.

He goes on to share many of his innovative tools, including the proprietary StrategySphere System. I particularly like the tools for creating differentiation. However, he provides only a generally broad framework of the tools. I guess it is a gentle & subtle way for the author to sell his consulting/software services.

I also like the author's contextual metaphor of modelling a sculpture. He also has quite a catchy phrase: “Strategic Thinking is not the lighthouse in a storm. It's the storm - dynamic, dangerous & all-powerful.”

Hence, the tools & other ideas in the book have been designed to enable the reader to increase his/her ability to develop & leverage strategy to become a storm rider!

Unlike most strategic thinking books, the author doesn't waste time dwelling into the historical perspectives.

In a nutshell, these are the essential chapters:

- Strategic Thinking;
- Strategy Defined;
- Discovering Purpose;
- Creating Differentiation;
- Decision Making;
- Problem Solving;
- Sculpting Strategy;
- Storm Rider;

Frankly & comparatively speaking, I would rank 'Choosing the Future: The Power of Strategic Thinking' by Stuart Wells as well as 'Ahead of the Curve: A Guide to Applied Strategic Thinking' by Steven Stowell & Stephanie Mead ahead of this book with a higher rating.

GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR READING III

[continue from GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR READING II]

In this post, I would like to introduce readers to a superb reading & information gathering methodology originally developed by Prof. Francis Robinson at Ohio State University, during the early forties. He called it SQ3R in his classic book, 'Effective Study'.

I have adapted it here & would like to call it SQ5R for non-fiction reading, & SQ7R for academic reading e.g. preparing for a certification examination or executing a reading assignment under an MBA program.

It comprises the following key steps or stages:

S = SURVEY
Q = QUESTION
R(1) = READ QUICKLY & SELECTIVELY
R(2) = REREAD SLOWLY & CAREFULLY (*)
R(3) = REDUCE INFORMATION TO KEY IDEAS
R(4) = RECORD KEY IDEAS
R(5) = RECITE KEY IDEAS (*)
R(6) = REFLECT ON KEY IDEAS
R(7) = REVIEW KEY IDEAS

These are the steps or stages in SQ7R for academic reading.

In the case of SQ5R for non-fiction reading, the steps or stages which are marked with an asterick as shown are not necessary.

S = SURVEY

Upon defining your purpose, the first thing you need to do, just before you commence to read a chapter of a book, as in the case of academic reading, is do a quick survey of the contents within, as follows:

- Read the chapter objectives, if any;
- Read the introduction;
- Read the opening paragraph, if any;
- Scan the headings and subheadings;
- Look at the illustrations, pictures, diagrams, graphs, tables, captions, etc., if any;

- Pay attention to bulleted points or numbered lists;
- Pay attention to any words or phrases in Bold Print or Italics;
- Read any text captured in boxed selections or side bars;
- Read any marginal &/or foot notes, if any;
- Read the ending paragraph and/or concluding summary, if any;
- Read the review or discussion questions at the end of the chapter, if any;


If it is a new book, especially in the case of non-fiction reading, do a quick survey of the following additional areas, prior to the above:

- Scan the front, inside, and back covers, especially the credit reviews by others;
- Read the biography of the author;
- Read the Preface;
- Read the Table of Contents;
- Read the Concluding Chapter at the end of the book, if any;
- Browse the Glossary or Appendix at the end of the book, if any;
- Browse the Bibliography at the end of the book, if any;
- Browse the Index at the end of the book, if any;

In reading jargon, this is the pre-reading exercise. Oftentimes, it is also known as 'previewing'.

The purpose of this quick survey is to generate a global overview or big picture of the book. It will definitely give you a rough sense of the overall structure, organisation or plan of the book.

In military jargon, we call this quick survey a reconnaissance (recon) - to map out the enemy terrain, to identify enemy targets for hits, to flush out enemy hideouts, to locate the safest attack route, and also to pinpoint the fastest escape route.

Analogically, an open book with all its textual & graphical aids resembles your enemy terrrain, & as a reader, your job is to navigate through it as fast as you can, & to gather as much information as possible to meet your reading objectives.

More importantly, this quick survey will help you to build a familiar background, and also to determine what you already know, what you need to know, and what you don't know.

The results of this quick survey will form your prior knowledge when you proceed to read the book. They will come in handy especially when you are predicting what the author will say next as you read, & also to connect easily what you are reading to what you have read earlier in the chapter or from elsewhere.

Always remember this, your mind works faster than your eyes!

Tactically, from my personal experience, I have found that the prior knowledge gained as a result of your quick survey will provide you with all the significant signposts to help you navigate smoothly through the textual terrain of the book. This becomes very useful particularly in academic reading.

Normally, a quick survey will take only a few minutes, but it is time well spent.

So, to conclude in one sentence, 'survey' is 'understand the terrain of the book'.

[Because I have been trained as a PhotoReader, I will normally skip the survey part & will do a PhotoRead routine as taught in the PhotoReading program. However, when I am standing in a book store or sitting in a public libary, pondering whether to buy or borrow a book, I will still carry out the survey consciously as part of my browsing routine. As a matter of fact, I practise the same routine when I am searching for - & browsing - books with Amazon Online Reader & Google Book Search on the internet. As most readers are aware of, PhotoReading requires an intuitive as well as a disciplined practice in a quiet environment, with minimal distractions.]

[to be continued in GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR READING IV]

Monday, August 20, 2007

TEN AXIOMS OF OPPORTUNITY

According to Ryan Allis, the young author of 'Zero to One Million', a field guide to building a company to US$1 million in sales, & the founder of zeromillion.com, there are ten key principles about opportunity.

1. When is an idea an opportunity? An idea is an opportunity when it is timely, attractive, achievable, durable, fills a need, and provides value to the buyer. Timely, attractive, achievable, durable, fills a need, and provides value to the buyer. An idea is an opportunity only if there is reason to believe the market will validate the idea and the management team has the ability to execute the idea.

2. To be a true opportunity a business idea must have a demonstrated need, ready market, and ability to provide a solid return on investment.

3. Opportunity-focused entrepreneurs and investors start with the customer and the market in mind. The analyze the market to determine industry issues, market structure, market size, growth rate, market capacity, attainable market share, cost structure, the core economics, exit strategy issues, time to break even, opportunity costs, and barriers to entry.

4. Business ideas are a dime a dozen. What really matters is the execution and the quality of the team. It is not the idea. It is the people, and their ability to execute, that matters. Once you have the people and the execution, then your idea as the potential to become a true opportunity.

5. Too many people wait for opportunities to come to them. Don’t wait for the opportunities to come to you. Create the opportunity for yourself.

6. If you are not ready for an opportunity during the short window it will be there, it will pass you by. You must make personal development a priority so that you will be prepared to take advantage of the opportunities

7. Every adversity comes with it a seed of equal or greater benefit. Through adversity, opportunity will come.

8. The world is filled with opportunities just waiting to be found by an energetic and intelligent person.

9. Making mistakes, learning from them, and being willing to put yourself out there is essential to finding opportunities.

10. With a positive mental attitude, a desire to succeed, a determined mindset, and enthusiasm you can find, create, and take advantage of any possibility and any opportunity that you can dream. If you can conceive it and you can believe it you can achieve whatever you set your sights on.

[More information about the author can be found on his corporate website. It's a goldmine of information nuggets on entrepreneurship resources. He has developed two simple models for evaluating your business opportunities, which I think are worth exploring.]

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

What am I curious about?

Do I have favourite subject?

What do I like to read about most?

What do I like to do in my spare time?

GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR READING II

[continue from GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR READING I]

Have you ever seen the Northwest Airlines ad about flying on their World Business Class several years ago, in popular business magazines, which goes something like this:

“When the body is comfortable, the mind travels at ease, too.”

Well, I must emphasise here: the same applies also to reading.

Therefore, prior to reading, it is very important to relax the body in order to restore the mind.

For me, I often like to do some simple exercises to generate this resourceful state. I always use Brain Gym, which I had talked about in an earlier post.

Out of the many Brain Gym exercises I know of, I have found the following exercises to be the most useful in generating a resourceful & receptive state of mind for reading. I have used these Brain Gym exercises for more than fifteen years.

The Owl:

Imagine you are an owl.

Swivel your head gently to the right, while you use your left hand to pull your right shoulder to the left.

Next, swivel your head gently to the left, while you use your right hand to pull your left shoulder to the right.

Continue for, say five or six repetitions, in each direction. For the fun of it, make the sound of the owl as you swivel your head.

Neck Roll:

Let your head drop slowly forward & roll it gently from side to side.

The foregoing two exercises help loosen & relax any tension around the neck & shoulder blades. They also facilitate the ease of blood flow through the neck – your information superhighway - to the brain.

Brain Buttons:

First, make a 'C' shape with your thumb & index finger. Then, place your thumb & index finger into the slight indentations below the collar bone on each side of the sternum.

Rub lightly in a pulsing manner for 20 to 30 seconds, while placing your other hand over your navel area.

Swop hands & repeat the process.

This exercise helps improve blood flow - through the carotid arteries - to the brain to "switch on" the entire brain, just before your reading. The increased blood flow helps improve attention & concentration, which are the prerequisites for effective reading.

[From my own personal experience, this exercise is extremely useful when you want to read a lot of financial spreadsheets.]

Cross Crawl:

In a standing or sitting position, raise your right hand across the front body to touch your left knee as you raise it, & then do the same thing for the left hand on the right knee, just as if you were marching.

Continue for, say a dozen repetitions.

Consider these variations:

1) Use your right elbow to touch your raised left knee & then your left elbow to touch your raised right knee;

2) (While standing): Use your right hand to reach the back to touch your slightly bent left foot & then your left hand to reach the back to touch your slightly bent right foot;

This exercise helps coordinate your right & left brains by exchanging the information flow between the two hemispheres.

Have great fun with Brain Gym!

[to be continued in GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR READING III]

GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR READING I

In this post, & subsequent posts, I would like to take the opportunity to share my personal learning experiences as a fast reader. I will also share my systematic approach to reading & other fast reading techniques.

I reckon the most important thing to do before you sit down to read, you need to define your purpose in the first instance.

In other words, you need to ask yourself mentally a few simple questions:

- What is my ultimate application of this reading material? (Other possible variations: 'What is the purpose of my reading?'; 'Why am I reading this material?'; 'What is my end goal in this reading?';)

- How important is this reading material to me?

- What do I want: a global overview or detailed information?

- How much time am I prepared to invest in my reading?

Examples of end goals:

- for a client presentation;
- for a project assignment or discussion;
- for general ideas only;
- just for the pleasure or the fun of it;
- for taking a certification examination;

Your answers or responses to the foregoing mental questions will serve as your reading objectives.

In turn, they will eventually influence & ultimately determine your reading method, entry point, depth of navigation & reading speed.

For example, if you are just reading for the pleasure or for general ideas only, then you don't have to read the whole book, but skim &/or scan through the book to get what you need.

But, if you are reading for a client presentation or for a certification examination, it is a different ball game, as you need to read the book or each chapter or lesson slowly & carefully.

From the brain-based point of view, you are essentially setting precise commands for your brain.

Your reading objectives will automatically activate the reticular activation system (known as RAS for short) in your brain.

The RAS is an integral part of your lower brain, known scientifically as the reptilian brain, which sits on top of your spinal chord. Operationally, it's your sensory switching & gate-keeping station, & it's always alert for life-threatening events. It also regulates all your vital body functions, like breathing, as well as all your instinctual & social behaviours. In theological terms, it is often believed to be the centre of your consciousness.

To understand how the RAS actually works, just think of a Tomahawk missile with its guidance & servo mechanism. Analogically, it's more or less the same working principle.

To put it in perspective: Your reading objectives will become your dominant thoughts. Your RAS will always follow the direction of your dominant thoughts (in fact, it is genetically hard-wired that way!).

[to be continued in GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR READING II]

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"Questions set off a processional effect that has an impact beyond our imagination. Questioning our limitations is what tears down the walls in life - in business, in relationships, between countries. I believe all human progress is preceded by new questions."
(Anthony Robbins, peak performance & success coach, also author of, 'Awaken the Giant Within')

MAKE THE BEST OF YOUR BEST YEARS

According to Dr David Lipschitz,, a renowned Professor of geriatrics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, & author of 'Breaking the Rules of Aging', there are actually a few simple things to do in order to make the best of your best years.

He is talking about your post-retirement years & offers the following prescriptions for life down memory lane:

1. Love yourself:

Self-esteem is among the most powerful predictors of good health & a long life. feel good about yourself. Appreciate your inner & outer beauty. Wake up every morning, stand naked in front of a mirror, & say: "You are gorgeous!"

2. Find the bright side, always:

It's not always easy to have a positive attitude, but do your best. No matter how bad things get, you still have a lot to give the world.

3. Retirement isn't an end to anything:

It's a beginning, so treat it that way. Get busy & stay busy. Life has to be full to have meaning.

4. Cultivate your creative side:

Write, paint, restore old cars. You don't have to be good at it. You just have to enjoy it.

5. Stay close to your family:

We are now the older ones. It's up to us to mentor our children & grandchildren, & to pass on the knowledge they'll need in time.

6. Get in touch with your spiritual side:

At the very least, do whatever it takes to stay calm & peaceful. You'll not only feel better, you'll live longer.

He concludes: "There is nothing - & I mean nothing - that you can't do. Play, create, have sex, travel. Enjoy life to the fullest. What's age got to do with it?"

[I like his catch phrase in the book, particularly Chapter 8, Have More Sex! You'll Live Longer! He adds: "Satisfaction aside, there are good medical reasons to cultivate all the passion you can handle. People who maintain good relationships & active sex stay healthier & live longer than those without this spice."]

Sounds like common sense, isn't it. The point is: ARE YOU DOING IT?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

ENERGY ENGINEERING & STRESS MANAGEMENT

At the end of my creativity workshops for managers, professionals & entrepreneurs, I often like to give away the following handout, which contains power tips on how to increase energy & reduce stress.

These power tips have been adapted from the pioneering work of Ann McGee-Cooper, who wrote the wonderful book, 'You Don't Have to Go Home Exhausted: A Program to bring Joy, Energy & Balance to Your Life'.

She is also the author of another wonderful book, 'Time Management for Unmanageable People: The Guilt Free Way to Organise, Energise & Maximise Your Life'. Both books were published during the early nineties.

Here are the power tips:

1. Seek fun things to do at all times;

2. Explore the world around you e.g. your neighbourhood;

3. Be curious about things, events & people;

4. Smile & laugh a lot;

5. Experience & express your emotions freely;

6. Be creative & innovative i.e. think of a new idea & put it to work immediately;

7. Keep physically active;

8. Pick up new physical & mental skills constantly e.g. play a musical instrument & learn a new language;

9. risk often - remember, no venture, no gain;

10. Rest when tired;

11. Learn enthusiastically;

12. Dream & imagine - remember, be childlike but not childish;

13. Believe in the impossible - remember Nike's ad: 'Impossible is Nothing'!;

14. Don't worry unnecessarily - remember, fear is just 'false evidence appearing real';

15. Be passionate in whatever you do;

16. Have proper rest & adequate sleep;

17. Develop good eating habits - remember, eat in moderation;

18. Do daily aerobic exercise - at least for twenty minutes;

19. Organise your private time;

20. Read regularly & learn effectively;

20. Spend some time on spiritual growth;

21. Develop intimate relationships - with your loved ones;

22. Balance work with play, & have fun as well as enjoy both;

23. Spend quality time with your family & friends;

24. Develop new interests & hobbies e.g start a blog;

25. Take regular vacations;

26. Inculcate a sense of purpose in your life - most important of all;