Saturday, September 1, 2007

GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR READING VII

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

In this post, I will talk about how to recognise author's thought patterns as expressed in their writings.

An author uses supporting details to provide facts, reasons, examples or testimony to support the key idea, being presented in a reading passage. He must decide the best way to organise these supporting details so the thought pattern being used to develop the key idea is clear to the reader.

Putting it in another way, the author uses supporting details to help the reader "see" what is being described.

Generally, the author will rely heavily on sensory words - words that describe what is seen, heard, smelled, tasted or felt. His description will usually contain specific nouns & numerous descriptive adjectives.

The author's thought patterns as expressed in his writings are often referred to as text organisation patterns.

To recap, the most common text organisational patterns are:

- simple listing;
- order/sequence;
- comparison/contrast;
- cause/effect;
- problem/solution;
- classification;
- definition;
- mixed;

1) SIMPLE LISTING

This is the least structured pattern, widely used in all academic as well as business reading. It is also the easiest to recognise during reading.

In its simplest form, its simply a list of items, often numerated or in bulleted points.

2) ORDER/SEQUENCE:

This pattern comprises:

- chronological or time sequence;
- process sequence;
- order of importance;
- spatial order;

In terms of chronology, it refers to the sequence in which events occur in time. Naturally, it is concerned with interpretation of events in the past.

It's a dominant pattern in every narrative, anecdote, story, movie, novel, play, biography or autobiography & anthropology.

Signal words or clues include: in ancient times, at the start of the battle, the first homo sapiens, late efforts, then, later, first, before, during, by the time, which, afterwards, as, after, thereafter, meanwhile, at that point;

Times & dates are common in this pattern.

In terms of process, it focuses on procedures, steps or stages by which action are accomplished or how something come about.

It's a dominant pattern in mathematics, natural & life sciences, computer sciences & engineering disciplines.

In terms of order of importance, it expresses an order of priority or preference, from most important to least important, or from least to most important.

Signal words or clues include: is less essential than, more revealing is..., of primary interest...;

For a spatial order, information is organised according to its physical location or position or order in space. Details are largely visual, structural or quantitative. As a reader, you are often expected to visualise, imagine or see the relationships.

In such a pattern, physical descriptions as well as graphics (photogaphs, sketches, diagrams & maps) are important.

It's a dominant pattern in all reading & in every field, especially fields in which parts, movements, proximities & physical inter-relationships are paramount.

Signal words or clues include: the centre, the lower portion, the outside area, beneath the surface, next to, beside, to the left, externally;

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

WHAT SLOWS YOU DOWN DURING READING & HOW TO IMPROVE

I would like to add this post as a adjunct to my earlier & subsequent posts on 'GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR READING'.

These are the various important factors that can affect your reading performance, with some suggestions to deal with them:

1) Lack of purpose - apply SQ5R or SQ7R;

2) Inappropriate reading rate - be flexible;

3) Poor vision - check your eyes;

4) Eye stress &/or strain - apply eye exercises;

5) Regressive reading - use a finger or pencil as a pacer;

6) Inappropriate eye movement - use a finger or pencil as a pacer;

7) Pronouncing words - read with a pencil between lips;

8) Word-by-word reading - train your eyes to see larger block of words;

9) Lack of concentration (daydreaming) - use check marks on paper;

10) Lack of confidence - think positive;

11) Poor posture - sit up & don't bend your neck;

12) Moving your head instead of your eyes - use your peripheral vision;

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"If I had a formula for bypassing trouble, I would not pass it round. Trouble creates a capacity to handle it. I don't embrace trouble; that's as bad as treating it as an enemy. But I do say meet it as a friend, for you'll see a lot of it and had better be on speaking terms with it."
(Oliver Wendell Holmes)

BOOK REVIEW: ‘SECRETS OF INTERNET MILLIONAIRES’ by Stuart Tan

Out of curiosity, I have recently bought this locally published book, which is also written by a local NLP practitioner.

I generally support books by local authors & own quite a large collection of them, mostly in the area of study skills, creativity, peak performance, wealth creation & strategic management.

This particular book strikes my fancy partly because of its catchy subject.

In a nut shell, I must say, after a quick perusal, that the book does offer a reasonably good synthesis of insider information about internet marketing.

For me, much of the information given in the book is already available in books on the bandwagon in recent years, as well as on the net, if only one bothers to expend some effort & time to glean them.

To put it bluntly, much of the information has been rehashed & repackaged from war stories of so-called internet marketing gurus.

In reality, this book highlights much more of the upside than on the downside. What is totally lacking is a set of real criteria for readers to evaluate the internet business opportunity.

Although the author is smart enough to caution readers at the onset of his book (Preamble on page 9), he stays away deliberately from talking too much about the potential pitfalls of foraging into internet marketing.

In fairness to the author, this book does provide a sensible roadmap to setting up a internet marketing business, especially for one who is a beginner in this new game in town.

His ‘Step by Step Overview of the Internet Marketer’s Journey’ in chapter 3 is a good piece of work.

I also like his 'Strategic Business Planning Model' as outlined in chapter 10, but unfortunately he gives it only a perfunctory treatment in some critical areas.

I would have expected the author to elaborate more on the strategic thinking part, with an emphasis on the longer term implications &/or ramifications of going into such a business. This certainly runs contrary to his personal belief system (expressed on page 32) : "If you stop strategising, there will be trouble in the mid term". If he has done so, this would have accorded the book with a little bit more credibility.

Another adverse comment I would like to make about the model is his visual representation of the 'SWOT Analysis'.

From the standpoint of the real world, ‘Strength’ & ‘Weakness’ reflecting the internal aspects & the current perspectives, should always be on the left of the matrix, with ‘Opportunities’ & ‘Threats’ reflecting the external aspects & the future perspectives, should always be on the right of the matrix. This may be a trivial matter, but in the real world, your mental model determines what goes into your strategic actions.

Even his treatment of 'Strategic Idea Generation' in the planning model is substantially sketchy. I would have expected him to use the opportunity to guide readers into an exploration of best-case, worst-case & realistic-case scenarios while thinking about running such a business.

As a NLP practitioner, the author certainly writes very well. He knows how to choose the right words or phrases to engender rapport with the audience. His writing style is conversational, with a clear & succinct disposition.

In the end analysis, all I can say is this: If you are a beginner, & by all means, get hold of this book. It certainly covers all the nitty-gritty stuff one needs to know when planning a journey into internet marketing. However, please continue to explore other resources, e.g. online forums, especially if one can search for & talk to informed people who are out of the business.

I do not deny that internet marketing can generate multiple income streams as well as a completely new lifestyle, with wealth creation as an added bonus. This is obviously reflected in the self-promotional angle expressed by the author - as well as the publisher - throughout the entire book. Unfortunately, caveat actor applies!

THE WEDNESDAY CLUB

Practically, every Wednesday night at 9.30pm, my wife & I will meet up with my drinking buddies at the NUSS Kent Ridge Guild House - a water hole for the graduate alumni -, located on the University of Singapore campus.

My drinking buddies generally comprise four other couples. They are: S T & Gek Wee; Bosco & Alice; Jeffrey & Betty; & James & Sophia. S T, Gek Wee & Bosco are scientists with the Health Sciences Authority. S T has only recently retired. His wife will probably join him by year end. Alice is a real estate agent. Jeffrey, an accountant by training but retired for almost a decade, is the oldest among us. Betty is a housewife. James is a research scientist with the Fraser & Neave Group. He plans to retire sometime next year. Sophia is a marketing expert in fragrances.

S T & Bosco are the most regular since they have been doing the same routine on Wednesdays from their university days in UK.

We pick the Ridge Bar of the NUSS Kent Ridge Guild House mainly because it is often not crowded during mid-week &, more importantly, we simply love the live music. Many times, my group happens to be the only people around by late Wednesday evenings & the band is completely at our disposal, music-wise till 11.30pm.

Currently, D'Harmony, comprising a husband-&-wife team from the Philippines, is playing at the bar. They have a relatively wide music repertoire, from the oldies & goodies of the 1950's to the hot noisy music of today, although they often love to play the former to the delight of my group. For me, the band gives the best rendition of 'Bad Moon Rising' & other hot favourites from CCR.

Service at the bar is not the best, but who cares, when prices for drinks are cheap & the entertainment is good.

As a result, my group is known to the bar staff & the band as the Wednesday Club.

Jeffrey is often the spark plug or live wire in the group. He will often sing for us, especially when he has one drink too many. He often gives the band a tough time as he prefers the band to follow his singing.

Once in a blue moon, especially on Valentine's Day, the club members will meet up early at 7.30pm to have dinner together & then adjourn to the bar. Occasionally, the club may also choose other venues for drinks & music. e.g.

- Singapore Swimming Club;
- Raffles Town Club;
- Copthorne Grand Plaza (where old-timer William plays on the piano);

Viva, the Wednesday Club!

BOOK REVIEW:‘PRISONERS OF BELIEF: EXPOSING & CHANGING BELIEFS THAT CONTROL YOUR LIFE’, by Matthew McKay & Patrick Manning

"Belief is ultimately the key to happiness. Your most deeply held, core beliefs are the stock of your personality. They determine your feelings of worth, competence, belonging, lovability, security, trust & self-reliance. Restricting negative beliefs can imprison you behind bars of conviction. This book shows you how to become a personal scientist, test your core beliefs objectively, subtly shift your more negative convictions, & escape from the prison of belief to a freer, more satisfying life."

In a nut shell, the foregoing statement forms the principal thesis of the book. I certainly concur with the author.

I have owned this book - & have reread it several times - since it was first published in the early nineties.

It is a relatively good book. It has been written by a clinical psychologist, & hence it is comparatively more intense, partly attributed to its therapeutic undertones. The exercises also take some discipline on the part of the reader to follow them.

Personally, I prefer Anthony Robbins' book, 'Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical & Financial Destiny', particularly chapter 4, Belief Systems: The Power to Change & the Power to Destroy. This author does a much better job in expounding his more upbeat principal thesis: "All personal breakthroughs begin with a change in beliefs."

In reality, Anthony Robbins covers a much broader spectrum. Essentially, he provides a step-by-step program on self-mastery: how to discover your true purpose, take control of your life & harness the forces that shape your destiny.

Alternatively, for its simplicity & yet lucid exposition, Bruce Doyle's 'Before You Think Another Thought: An Illustrated Guide to Understanding How Your Thought & Beliefs Create Your Life' is also worth reading. The exercises in the book are simple and incredibly enlightening. Please read my review in an earlier post.

NOTES FROM MY SCRATCH PAD: THE SEVEN KEYS TO LEADERSHIP IN A TURBULENT WORLD

According Burt Nanus, these are the seven leadership attitudes that are indispensable to the management of complexity in a fast changing knowledge economy:

1) A lively intellectual curiosity, an interest in everything - because everything really is connected to everything else;

2) A genuine interest in what other people think & what make them tick - which means you have have to be at peace with yourself for a start;

3) An attitude that risks are not there to be avoided but to be taken;

4) The feeling that crisis are normal, tensions can be promising, & complexity is fun;

5) The realisation that paranoia & self pity are reserved for people who don't want to be leaders;

6) The quality of unwarranted optimism - that conviction that there must be some more upbeat outcome that would result from adding up all the available expert advice;

7) A sense of personal responsibility for the general outcome of your efforts;

[Source: The Leader's Edge: The Seven Keys to Leadership in a Turbulent World]

Friday, August 31, 2007

BOOK REVIEW: 'EUREKA! THE BOOK OF INVENTING' by Bob Symes & Robin Bootle

The two authors, who apparently had impeccable track records from the exciting world of inventions & innovations, had done an marvellous job in producing this excellent piece of work.

The subject of inventing has always fascinated me.

I have even amassed a large collection of books & other resources on inventing. This is also partly due to my own training as a mechanical engineer.

On inventions, I am one who is always keen to find out & study what goes inside the heads (i.e the thinking processes) of inventors & innovators.

This book is very rich & comprehensively detailed in its contents, pertaining to all the 'what you need to know about inventing & inventions'. It is full of useful advice & fascinating ideas for the novice inventor. It teaches you to invent & innovate.

In the introductory chapter 1, the authors posed this question: "Can You be an Inventor?" In their own words, "Yes, you can. Almost anyone can. Your talent may be hidden, but we are going to show you how to use it."

In a nutshell, let me extract the essence of this book by using one of the authors' Combined Rules of Invention:

Rule 1: Identify the problem. Invent for tomorrow.

Rule 2: Meet a need. Don't be before your time.

Rule 3: Keep on learning. Experience is never wasted.

Rule 4: Check for originality. Join a network.

Rule 5: Build a working model. Prove your invention works.

Rule 6: Don't attack established interest. Don't become a dead hero.

Rule 7: Learn the patent system. Operate the system.

Rule 8: Find a product champion. Get a manufacturer's backing.

Rule 9: Sell yourself as well as the invention. Success depends on the inventor.

Rule 10: Persevere. Persistence leads to success.

These combined rules serve as practical guiding principles if you want to embark on a journey into inventions.

The entire book goes about explaining, elaborating, substantiating & illustrating these ten combined rules, by using real-world case studies, in all the following chapters.

Throughout the book, it is also packed with inspiring stories as real inventors struggled to get their work acknowledged by the world.

The authors' writing is basically conversational style, so reading the book is quite a breeze.

The last two chapters provide some valuable resources & contacts.

I have personally adapted some of the inventing stuff here (& of course, from elsewhere) in a hands-on course I have created & conducted for young kids, in the form of a 5-day camp, aptly called 'Science & The Art of Discovery'. My purpose was to teach young kids how to think scientifically, inventively & productively.

In summing up, this is great book about inventing & inventions.

BOOK REVIEW: 'THE PERSONAL COMPASS: A VISUAL WORKBOOK FOR EXPLORING YOUR FUTURE', by Grove Consultants

WOW! This is a very powerful personal strategic planning tool!

I am very familiar with the technological know-how of and the many presentation products created by Grove Consultants as I have used them in my consultancy projects as well as training workshops. I consider them to be one of three industry heavy weights, and also a pioneer/innovator, in the field of embracing group genius through visual-graphic facilitation.

Therefore, I am very excited with their visual workbook for visioning and goal setting. It is a template-based system for determining & achieving your desired future, with a blend of personal analysis, creative imagination & strategic planning.

The graphic templates in this workbook ease the challenge of self-exploration by structuring & focusing your thinking.

The entire system comes in the form of an A3 sized drawing block, spiral-bounded for easy folding/handling. Tactically, it is very easy to use as the instructions are very vivid. Plus, the seven step process steps as outlined are very easy to follow. They are really great stuff!

I wish I had this wonderful workbook with me when I was charting out my own life (my second half, to be precise) in the early 90's.

In the course of my own exploration in the field of visioning & goal setting, I have played with many methodologies which include futurescaping, mindscaping, life mapping, goal mapping, treasure mapping, vision collage, etc.

My end analysis: I would like to rank this one #1. The Personal Compass is a very powerful personal strategic planning tool.

From the visual planning perspective, it is unsurpassed.

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"I like thinking of possibilities. At any time, an entirely new possibility is liable to come along & spin you off in an entirely new direction. The trick, I've learned, is to be awake to the moment."
(Doug Hall)

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

How can I make room for creativity & innovation in my life & my work?

How can I bring creativity & innovation to life in myself, my life & my work?

ULTIMATE SUCCESS FORMULA (USF)

This USF is based on the NLP Psychology of Excellence & Technology of Achievement:

Create well informed outcomes. Identifying & establishing well-formed outcomes is the starting point of your journey to personal success.

Use this Outcome Checklist:

POSITIVE IMAGE: What do you want to achieve?

SPECIFIC ATTRIBUTES: What? When? Where? Who? Why?

PHYSICAL EVIDENCE: What will you see/hear/feel when you've achieved your outcome;

PERSONAL OWNERSHIP: Whose outcome is it & what is your part in it?

STRATEGIC FIT: How does the outcome fit with other aspects of your life & your overall plan? How important is the outcome?

TACTICAL RESOURCES: Which internal resources do you need to mobilise? Which external resources do you need to acquire?

NOTES FROM MY SCRATCH PAD: TRANSFORMATIONAL GRAMMAR

Be careful of the words you use in your thoughts & speech.
As you speak, so it should be done.
‘Try’ to do it & you will forever be trying.
‘Do’ it & it will be done.
Do something you ‘should’ & it will feel like a burden.
Do something you ‘choose’ & it will feel like joy.
‘Can’t’, ‘don’t’, ‘won’t’ ‘should’, ‘ought’, ‘but’ are words that disempower you.
If you say ‘I can’, ‘I choose’, ‘I plan’ you are & you will.
Your perspective changes your world.

Whatever gets your attention gets you!
What enters the mind repeatedly shapes the mind.
Learn to be master of your own attention & to be conscious of your train of thoughts.
Thoughts are energy. They create reality.
Think in terms of choices & clarify your dream & intentions.
Let insignificant, unwanted thoughts pass through without reacting & without judgement.
Neutral observation brings true freedom.


[Source Unknown]

GET MORE FROM LIFE EACH DAY

I had picked up all the following superb life management tips from Paul J Meyer, founder of Success Motivation Institute, Waco, USA.

Focus on one day at a time.

Live the moment.

Forget yesterday & look forward to tomorrow. If you are guilty about what happened yesterday, or are anxious about what might happen tomorrow, your energy will be dissipated.

Plan your work, then work on your plan.

What good & bad habits have you developed? Reinforce the good daily patterns & break the bad ones.

Be an "early bird" - it catches the worm!

Habits start as consciously made decisions, e.g., what time to get up. Once established, good habits become second nature.

Success is the result of habit. It depends not so much on doing the unusual, but on doing the commonplace unusually well.

DON'T PROCRASTINATE – JUST DO IT & DO IT NOW!

Don't confuse mere action with constructive action - activities can be tension relieving, not goal achieving. By concentrating on fewer, priorities regularly on a fixed schedule, you can achieve a lot more in less time.

IS TIME THE PROBLEM OR ARE YOU THE PROBLEM?

Draw up a daily "to do" list. Rank priority tasks (the important few), as well as the trivial many. This allows you to focus on fewer things and achieve more. Sort them into category A, B & C's.

A's are important & urgent - they must be done today;

B's are important & not urgent;

C's are not important;

Use this system to cover work, personal & family items. This allows you to strike a balance in your daily living. In addition, you can schedule the daily activities required to achieve your objectives. By giving high visibility to your major goal, you can keep your mental energies concentrated.

Remember Pareto' Law or the 20/80 principle:

- 20% of your key activities will give you 80% of your results or payoff;
- 80% of your work (or clients) will produce 20% of your profits;

Don't hog all the work. Delegate what you can as this encourages a sense of responsibility & a sense of teamwork in others. It frees up your time for more important activities. Handle each piece of paper only once. Rather than shuffling paper, make a decision to deal with it NOW, if it is important; TRASH it, if it is junk.

Use the concept of time blocks to do similar tasks at one time...rather than when they arise, otherwise trivia will overwhelm what is important.

Look at your biorhythms for which times suit you best. When do you work best (or when is your concentration at its maximum)? Are you most alert in the morning, afternoon or evening?

Plan your day using your energy cycle. You can schedule the most important or mentally demanding activities when you are at your peak.

GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR READING VI

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

The next stage in SQ7R is

R(2) = RE-READ SLOWLY

This is the careful and deliberate reading part of the entire process.

As you begin to re-read and see a lot of those "signal words" listed under CAUSE/EFFECT in a given paragraph, you will begin to understand that the paragraph is organised in a CAUSE/EFFECT pattern.

All you need to do next is to re-read slowly to gather the relevant information pertaining to the CAUSE or CAUSES and EFFECT or EFFECTS in the given paragraph.

Likewise, when you see a lot of those "signal words" listed under COMPARISON/CONTRAST in a given paragraph, then you will begin to understand that the paragraph is organised in a COMPARISON/CONTRAST pattern.

All you need to do next is to re-read slowly to gather the relevant information pertaining to similarities and differences in the given paragraph.

In a nut shell, I call these text organisational or writing patterns.

Research indicates that readers who can recognise and identify the most common organisational patterns of textbook writing can comprehend the material faster and can also recall the information better. The performance of these readers on summarising and other comprehension tasks is superior to that of readers who are not knowledgeable about text structure.

Other research shows that learning to recognise organisational patterns increases your understanding of key ideas.

From my personal reading experiences, the following are some of the most common organisational patterns:

- simple listing;
- order/sequence;
- comparison/.contrast;
- cause/effect;
- problem/solution;
- classification;
- definition;
- example;
- mixed patterns (a combination of two or more patterns);

I will endeavour to elaborate on these text organisational patterns in the next & subsequent posts.

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

Thursday, August 30, 2007

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"There is a world of difference between mere action & constructive action."

(Paul J Meyer, founder of Success Motivation Institute)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

BOOK REVIEW: 'ABSOLUTE ZERO GRAVITY: SCIENCE JOKES, QUOTES & ANECDOTES', by Betsy Devine

This is just a collection of jokes, anecdotes, limericks & riddles revealing the funny side of physics, biology, mathematics, & other branches of science.

I often buy books like this one - in fact, I have already amassed a vast collection over the years. I will often browse them from time to time, just to keep my intellectual mind, - not just my funny bone - alive!

'Absolute Zero Gravity' captures the levity of the world of science. I always have a ardent fascination for science, technology & discovery.

To some people, science may seem stuffy & serious, but behind the equations, observations, & reactions lies a hidden affinity for the irrational, the paradoxical, & the simply amusing.

From Darwin to Einstein, from astronomy to zoology, 'Absolute Zero Gravity' includes all the funniest manifestations of the scientific method: from irreverent anecdotes & brilliant insults to practical jokes, experimental graffiti, & proofs of the absurd e.g. The astrophysicist's dilemma: If the universe is really expanding, why can't you find a parking place?

Let me share with readers one interesting joke from the section under 'Science, Non science & Anti Science':

An engineer, a physicist, a mathematician, & a mystic were asked to name the greatest invention of all time. The engineer chose fire, which gave humanity power over matter. The physicist chose the wheel, which gave humanity power over space. The mathematician chose the alphabet, which gave humanity power over symbols.

The mystic chose the thermos bottle.

"Why a thermos bottle?" the others asked.

"Because the thermos keeps hot liquids hot in winter & cold liquids cold in summer."

"Yes - so what?"

"Think about it," said the mystic reverently.

"That little bottle - how does it know?"

Let me say this: 'Absolute Zero Gravity' will definitely tickle the funny bone of both scientists & non-scientists alike!

BOOK REVIEW: ‘WHAT A GREAT IDEA! INVENTIONS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD’, by Stephen Tomecek

Ever since I have read, among many others, 'They All Laughed... From Light Bulbs to Lasers: The Fascinating Stories Behind the Great Inventions That Have Changed Our Lives' by Ira Flatow, I am always on the look-out for similar books in this genre.

I have an ardent fascination for the history of science & technology, & have amassed a vast collection of books in this genre.

Not only I am interested in the life stories of the scientists & inventors, I am also keen to find out how they went about in the pursuit of the original ideas behind their inventions.

I have recently acquired 'What a Great Idea' from a used bookstore.

It showcases lively, colourful stories about some significant inventions & discoveries against a historical background e.g. the hand axe, the wheel, the clock, writing, clothing, mathematics, & the computer. It also divides them across five broad time periods ranging

- from the ancient world before 3,000 B.C.E.;
- the metal age from 3,500 B.C.E. through A.D. 1;
- the age of discovery from A.D. 1 through 1799;
- the age of electricity & communication from 1799 to 1887;
- the age of the atom from 1887 to the present;

What I liked about this book are the full-colour diagrams & clear illustrations, which have been well-integrated with brief descriptions of how the inventions work as well as insightful information about their impact on society as well as on subsequent inventions & discoveries.

What eventually emerges from this book is a sense of inter-connectedness among the inventions & discoveries that other books often lack. This reinforces what Leonardo da vinci once said:

"Everything is connected to everything else."

Also, the author's style of presentation is informally straight-forward & visually appealing.

Well, if you have that curiosity streak in you about the history of inventions & discoveries, just like I do, I guess you just have to go & get hold of this book. I can assure you, this book gives an entertaining & informative tour.

BOOK REVIEW: ‘THEY ALL LAUGHED...FROM LIGHT BULBS TO LASERS – THE FASCINATING STORIES BEHIND GREAT INVENTIONS’, by Ira Flatow

Because of my ardent fascination for the history of science & technology, I have amassed a vast collection of books in this genre.

Not only I am interested in the life stories of the scientists & inventors, I am also keen to find out how they went about in the pursuit of the original ideas behind their inventions.

I bought this particular one, which showcased lively, colourful stories about some common inventions & discoveries that had unusual beginnings. In fact, it gave some of the surprising revelations behind the world's great inventions:

- Ben Franklin's kite was never struck by lightning;
- Western Union laughed at Bell when he offered them the telephone. They thought it was a trivial toy;
- A melted candy bar led to the invention of the microwave oven;
- Scientists bounced Silly Putty around the halls of their laboratory years before anyone thought to sell it;
- The paper industry never would have existed with the wasp;
- The idea for transmitting messages by light (e.g. laser) dates back to the 1880s when Bell designed a contraption called the photo phone;
- When Remington introduced the first typewriter, people saw no practical use for it;
- Thomas Edison was not the first to invent the light bulb;

Well, if you have that curiosity streak in you about the sheer eccentricity of the above inventions, just like I do, I guess you just have to go & get hold of this book.

I can assure you, this book gives an entertaining & informative tour of the laboratories, institutes & beauty salons of science.

THE 5 TYPES OF BOOKS THAT INCREASE INTELLIGENCE

I have picked up this wonderful tip from John Wesley, the man behind the 'Pick the Brain: An Analytical Approach to Self Improvement' website.

His website is dedicated to self improvement, with a primary focus on personal productivity, motivation, positive psychology, & self education. Frankly, it's a goldmine!

He has listed these 5 types:

1) Science;
2) Philosophy;
3) Serious Fiction;
4) History;
5) Poetry;

He has even written a nice article, entitled '10 Ways to Improve Your Mind by Reading Literature Classics', to drive home his point.

Interestingly, he also shares 21 resources for building your brain power.

Looks like I may have to reorientate my reading habits &/or expand my reading repertoire from now on.

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

What needs to be done?

Of those things that would make a difference, what are right for me?

(Inspired by Peter Drucker, the doyen of management thinkers)

ULTIMATE SUCCESS FORMULA (USF)

From both the strategic & tactical perspective, I would seriously consider the '7 Habits of Highly Effective People', as conceived by Stephen Covey, in his classic book bearing the same title, as a pragmatic model for the USF.

To recap, these are the well-known '7 Habits':

1) Be proactive;

2) Begin with the end in mind;

3) Put first things first;

4) Seek first to understand, then to be understood;

5) Think win-win;

6) Synergise;

7) Sharpen the saw;

I am essentially refering to the first three habits, which epitomises the essence of attaining personal victory.

Putting the first three habits together, you have the USF.

Putting them into an operational perspective - take personal responsibility for your life's circumstances; establish your vision; define what's important, then organise your life to maximise your priorities.

Concentrating on priorities is absolutely fundamental to attaining personal success.

Of course, when you combine the first three habits with the remaining four habits, & plus the 8th habit, your personal power is squared in the organisational setting, at the minimum.

Most readers should realise by now that the '7 Habits' had their origins from the 200 years of success literature in the United States, which naturally includes Napolean Hill's 'Law of Success'.

ULTIMATE SUCCESS FORMULA (USF)

I reckon most readers will concur with me that the best - & the most original - USF of all is the 17 Fundamental Principles of The Law of Success as conceived by Napoleon Hill during the 1930's, after interviewing some 500 role models, with some help from Andrew Carnegie, of course.

Instead of reproducing the stuff here, I would like to direct readers to this particular website, belonging to the Personal Development Institute, where you can actually download the entire USF in the form of inspirational scrolls. It doesn't cost you anything.

You can then use your colour printer to print them out & get them framed up nicely, like what I had done.

I must say 'Thank You Very Much' to Donald Gordon Carty, President of Personal Development Institute, for his extreme generosity in sharing the above inspirational scrolls with the world.

Incidentally, his company is actually a think tank, whose purpose is to awaken people to a new way of thinking about what it is to be human & what it takes to make life & work more rewarding & fulfilling.

Good Luck to all!

ULTIMATE SUCCESS FORMULA (USF)

This USF came from another inspiration poster I had bought & owned for many years. I like this one the most as the steps are very crisp & concise.

1) CLARITY: determine what you want;

2) PURPOSE: discover why you want it;

3) STRATEGY: develop a plan to accomplish it;

4) PRIORITY: decide what needs to be done first;

5) ACTION: move toward your goal each & every day;

ULTIMATE SUCCESS FORMULA (USF)

This USF came from an old inspirational scroll I had bought & owned for many years.

1) Start by determining your ultimate GOALS in life;

2) Establish your PRIORITIES to reflect these goals;

3) Create a plan that include room for FLEXIBILITY;

4) Research & PRACTISE to reduce risk & errors;

5) Efforts lead to REWARDS; excuses lead to failure;

6) Time used wisely is an INVESTMENT for the future;

7) STRENGTH is achieved by confronting difficulties;

8) Organised focus & persistence gain RESULTS;

9) FAITH in yourself frees you from fear & doubt;

10) Self control is the truest test of human MASTERY;

11) Use your TALENTS & SKILLS as natural resources;

12) Challenges always offer OPPORTUNITIES for growth;

13) CHANGE is the only constant you should depend;

14) Experience exceeds all other methods of LEARNING;

15) Satisfaction & PRIDE come from a job well done;

16) Success is a way of LIFE found moment to moment;

ULTIMATE SUCCESS FORMULA (USF)

This USF came from Richard Branson, the big boss of Virgin airlines & megastores, who is apparently more well known for his daring & adventurous exploits.

Likewise, you just have to figure out what you need to do to incorporate some or maybe all of his entrepreneurial secrets into your pursuit of personal success.

1) You've got to challenge the big ones;

2) Keep it casual;

3) Haggle: Everything is negotiable;

4) Have fun working;

5) Do the right things for the brand;

6) Smile for the camera;

7) Don't lead sheep, herd cats;

8) Move like a bullet;

9) Size does matter;

10) Be a common regular person;

[More information about Richard Branson can be found on his unofficial news site.]

ULTIMATE SUCCESS FORMULA (USF)

This USF came from Donald Trump, whose name is synonymous with New York hustle & money at the turn of the 21st Century.

Although he did not express it in terms of steps, his frank advice is certainly sensible & I reckon you just have to figure out what you need to do to make success works for you accordingly:

1) You have to love what you do;

2) Never ever quit or give up;

3) Luck plays an important role;

4) Follow your gut;

5) Get the best people & do not trust them (I guess you can trust, but always verify);

6) Get even (I would prefer forgiving, which is a much better virtue);

7) Don't allow bad things to take away your momentum;

8) Be controversial & get free marketing;

9) Be happy;

10) Work hard & be careful;

ULTIMATE SUCCESS FORMULA (USF)

First of all, what's success?

Frankly, any dictionary can give us a simple definition.

This is what I have found:

- the achievement of something desired, planned or attempted;

- the gaining of fame or prosperity;

In an earlier post, I had mentioned that Paul J Meyer, founder of Success Motivation Institute, had defined success as 'progressive realisation of worthwhile, predetermined, personal goals.'

But, more importantly, what are the simple steps to achieving success?

Let's hear from the peak performance experts as well as the dare devils from the field of business, based on my personal exploration:

This simple step by step USF came from Anthony Robbins, when he first started his personal journey into optimum performance technologies:

1) Know exactly what you want;

2) Know why you want it;

3) Take massive action;

4) Notice quickly whether the action is working;

5) Keep changing your approach until it works;

Many years later, I believed he had fine-tuned it to encompass many steps as follows:

1) Pursue your passion;

2) Understand your belief system - what you are; what you can be;

3) Clarify your values;

4) Envision your final outcome;

5) Develop a strategy - organise your resources; model others;

6) Take massive & consistent actions;

7) Create & sustain your energy - physical; emotional; mental;

8) Master your communication - with yourself; with others;

9) Build rapport or bonding of power;

10) Notice quickly what's working & what's not working;

11) Turn failure or adversity into feedback & learning experiences;

12) Change your actions as required to achieve your final outcome;

Much of Anthony Robbins' thinking has its origins from 'neurolinguistic programming' technology. He calls it 'neuro-associatibe conditioning' as a precautionary measure.

I reckon, from what I understand, the NLP approach to personal success is based on these presupposed 'building blocks':

1) Define your precise target or desired outcome;

2) Decide;

3) Begin where you are with what you have right now;

4) Dump those stupid beliefs that get into your way;

5) Manage your mind & body - your perception, thought, emotion, memory & communication (behaviour);

6) Create an organised step-by-step plan of action;

7) Just do it & exert every possible effort to work the plan;

8) Believe firmly & behave as if you have already achieved your goals;

9) Periodically review & evaluate your results;

10) Notice quickly whether you are getting what you want - if it works, great; if not, try another approach;

11) Keep adding what works; discarding what doesn't work;

12) Stay focused, but remain flexible;

13) Go for it, keep at it & never give up;

[to be continued]

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"The credit belongs to the man who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumphs of high achievement; & who at the worst if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold & timid souls who know neither defeat nor victory."

(Theodore Roosevelt)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

BOOK REVIEW: 'SUCCESSOLOGY: THE SCIENCE OF SUCCESS ', by Scott Rogers

In principle, this book has reasonably good ideas to help readers identify & achieve personal success, but it has very bad editing & poor design.

As a result, & with due respect, I find that the command of the English language is weak & the balancing of text & graphic symbols, which supposedly had been deliberately provided to guide your reading pursuit, is somewhat horrendous.

I find it rather difficult to follow the train of thoughts in the book.

Although the author has provided capsule summaries at the end of vital sections of the book, plus useful tips in bold print, I find them inadequate to compensate for the poor editing.

I can see that the author has the intention to create some sort of work-book format to go with his ideas, but the resultant attempt invariably gets lost in the mess.

Frankly, I don't find the so-called fantastic 3Y Theory revolutionary or amazing, but they do make some sense in the context of perceptual filters.

To make matters worst, the web-sites mentioned at the end of the book do not correspond at all. In fact, they belong to someone else. Probably, they are now out of date considering the fact that the book was published in 2001.

Seriously, I wanted to read this book very much. I really don't know: The author may be a great speaker, but when it comes down to writing a book, he definitely needs substantive guidance.

If the book is revamped, I will definitely come back to review it again.

INVISIBLE UNIVERSITY: TAKE CONTROL OF OUR OWN LEARNING

Ronald Gross, author of many books that touch on self-directed learning, including the classics:

- 'The Lifeong Learner' (published in the early 70's);
- 'The Independent Scholar's Handbook' (published in the mid-80's);
- 'Peak Learning: How to Create Your Own Life-long Education for Personal Enlightenment & Professional Success' (originally published in the early 90's);

was the progenitor of the original concept of 'Invisible University' in the latter book, which I had already reviewed in an earlier post.

For me, I understood his pioneering concept to be just a globally networked as well as locally located collection of learning resources or opportunities, from A to Z, which are conveniently available as well as readily accessible to most people, at low or no cost at all.

With this 'Invisible University', each & every one of us can easily take control of our own learning.

The only price of tuition in this university is the desire to learn & the degree is a rich & happy life (with sincere apologies - & thanks - to Charles Hayes, author of 'Self-University').

Here is an interesting article , which gives a rough idea of the concept.

For a detailed understanding, please get hold of 'Peak Learning' & read Chapter XII.

HOW TO BE A FUTURIST

I had picked up the following interesting advice from a human resource magazine many years ago. The original article was written by a Julie Wallace.

1) Futurists should not be exclusively future-focused. Spend some time to reflect on trends that showed themselves the previous year.

2) Pause to analyse all trends. This action sometimes reveals interesting patterns and interactions. The lesson here is to look backward, forward and across a combination of events.

3) Make connections between unlikely topics. Check out the implications of seemingly unrelated events. It should become an almost subconscious reaction to wonder about the implications of the information you digest.

Always ask yourself: What does this mean for my organization or industry or cause? Whether watching the evening news, reading an industry magazine or reading a newsletter, wonder about the possible implications of the information you process.

4) Make some bold assertions. So, if the data suggest a surprising trend, make a surprising prediction.

5) Be an activist. Being a change agent often requires a stronger, activist's role. Sometimes, the surest way to predict the future is to create it. If you feel strongly enough about an issue, start your own trend. Remember that any global phenomenon was once a local idea.

6) As you study the connections between events that eventually form trends, also consider the elements that are missing. If a missing link can create a better future scenario, make it happen.

7) Is it cheating if you take credit for predicting trends that you helped create? Maybe. But don't forget: Last year's trends often become this year's projects.

8) Don't be afraid to fail. The beauty of making predictions is that no one expects your accuracy rate to be 100 percent.

TREND SPOTTING IN NINE SIMPLE STEPS

I had picked up the following trend-spotting skills from the book, 'Winning the Innovation Game' by Robert Tucker & Denis Waitley, which I had reviewed in an earlier post.

1) Audit Your Information Intake:
Go through your current reading list, e.g newspapers, magazines, newsletters, books, ebooks, reports, etc.

Ask yourself: Do they provide me with the information I need to accomplish my goals? If not, what must I add or delete from the list? How do I spend my non-working hours? How is my reading habit? How much time do I spend reading?

Reading must also be supplemented with one-to-one exchanges with informed people & with personal observations.

2) Have a Sense of Wonder:
Make the time to read outside your immediate specialty - if necessary, taking time from more active tasks. Allow yourself to be enthralled once in a while. Make deliberate attempts to broaden your reading habits by reading across as many disciplines, subjects & social strata as possible, seeking out things that would not ordinarily be your cup of tea.

You can't visit all the fringes but you can read about all of them.

3) Develop real-world observational skills:
For example, when you are at the bus interchange or MRT station or shopping mall, watch the behaviour of the crowd. At the airport, if you find your flight delayed, this is an excellent time to observe. Watch the behaviour of passengers. Eavesdrop on some one's conversation, strike up one yourself, or go scan the news stand, not necessarily reading articles but just looking at what's available.

Listening in on conversation helps expand your worldview by following the thoughts of people you might not meet ordinarily.

4) Ask questions:
You can't get all your information simply through active observation. Take the initiative to ask questions - even of perfect strangers. Ask open-ended questions.

5) Use professional trend watching methods:
For example, do content analysis of your "In-Basket", physical as well as electronic .

What is there today compared to last year's? What about the junk mail & ads your received?

A little scanning before you throw or delete them into the trash can provide valuable clues as to developing trends. When reading newspapers, physical or electronic, make inferences about the country's economy or compare the job opportunities listed with those of a year ago.

You can conduct informal interviews of people you meet in social settings for clues to the ways attitudes, values & lifestyles are changing.

Keep an eye on the popular culture; make an analysis - look at magazines, watch TV or YouTube, go to the movies, visit online forums, listen to pod casts. What themes run through them? You can learn a lot if you can let go of your own value judgements & really observe &/or listen.

6) Adopt whole-mind reading approach:
Read actively, selectively & purposefully. Read fast, too. Look for learning points. Look for what's different, incongruous, new, worrisome, exciting. Through practice, you will develop the skill of making connections between seemingly unrelated events.

In addition to sampling a broad range of publications, it is important to be open to whatever hits you.

7) Organise your information archives:
Once you start monitoring trends, you need a system of organising the information. There's not really a better way, only one that works for you. I use MindManager Pro to record all my important information.

8) Explore & monitor other information media:
For example, you can attend conferences, seminars (including tele-seminars) & workshops; buy & listen to audio magazines or pod casts; tape good TV programs; listen to different radio stations; keep list of books or magazines you want to read; small talk; surf the net & exchange ideas with other netizens; browse weblogs of other informed people;

9) Look out for opportunities:
The ultimate aim of becoming your own trend spotter is to discover your own opportunity.

Watch the changes around you with an eye toward cashing in on unexploited opportunities.

NOTES FROM MY SCRATCH PAD: THE PILLARS OF PERSONAL GREATNESS

John Hensel, an entrepreneur, consultant & trainer, offers the following strategies & tools for building the pillars of personal greatness in your life.

He is the author of the book, 'You, Inc., Personal Leadership in the 21st Century'.

- Take total responsibility for your life;

- Discover your passion;

- Question yourself: 'What would you dare to dream if you knew there was no chance for failure?'

- To stay motivated to move forward, you need to have something to move forward to;

- Design your master plan with clearly defined future-focused goals, & time-tabled for implementation & review;

- Concentrate on what you want, & not on what you don't want;

- Understand 'Excellence has to be Learned — & Earned —Every Day';

- Re-Invent Yourself & Make History;

- Create a Defining Moment;

- It is Better to Give than to Receive;

- It takes Class & Style to Win;

- Welcome Challenge with a Big Smile;

- Whoever has the Most Fun, Wins!

- The Best Leverage—is Living Well & Loving Well, too!

- Realise 'Life—is a State of Mind';

- Don't Just Do It—Do It Now!

- Stick with it: Every day is a second chance for success!

- Recognise that attitude is 80% of the success effort;

- Success in your life lies in your choices & implementation;

[More information about John Hensel & his work can be found on his corporate website.]

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

What is my greatest fear?

How do I deal with it?

(Inspired by Nelson Mandela)

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It's not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

(Timo Cruz, played by Rick Gonzalez, in the movie, Coach Carter, based on the true life story of controversial high-school basketball coach, Ken Carter, in Richmond, California, during the late nineties)

Monday, August 27, 2007

IN SEARCH OF PERSONAL MASTERY II

[continue from IN SEARCH OF PERSONAL MASTERY I]

Towards the end of the seventies, after I was promoted to Deputy Divisional Manager in Behn, Meyer & Co., (a German trading firm) I came across a home-study program, developed by Success Motivation Institute (SMI), from Waco, Texas, USA.

The program was entitled ‘Dynamics of Personal Motivation’ & it came in the form of a participant’s manual, ring-bound with work sheets & structured lessons through a series of audio cassettes.

I remember that it was marketed by a company called ‘Challenge Associates’, located at the International Plaza. The two sales persons who managed my account was Philip Tan (the boss) & David Chia (sales manager).

The program was considerably expensive – it cost me a whopping sum of S$1,775/-. I remember I had to take up a one year personal loan from Hitachi Leasing to finalise the purchase.

What I liked most about the program was the finer definition of ‘success’, a structured step-by-step planning process, as well as understanding the SMI's core motivational philosophy as embedded in what they called the Personal Million Dollar Success Plan. I strongly believed that Paul J Meyer, the founder of SMI, had condensed & fine-tuned many of the original ideas from Napolean Hill & Earl Nightingale.

The structured step-by-step planning process, coupled with multi-sensory impact & spaced repetition, consisted of:

- assessing needs;
- determining values;
- clarifying goals;
- planning a course of action;
- acquiring tools to achieve the results;
- analysing potential obstacles;
- designing solutions;


In a nut shell:

THE MILLION DOLLAR PERSONAL SUCCESS PLAN

I) Crystallize Your Thinking:
Determine what specific goal you want to achieve. Then dedicate yourself to its attainment with unswerving singleness of purpose, the trenchant zeal of a crusader.

II) Develop a Plan for Achieving Your Goal, and a Deadline for Its Attainment:
Plan your progress carefully: hour-by-hour, day-by-day, month-by-month. Organized activity and maintained enthusiasm are the well-springs of your power.

III) Develop a Sincere Desire for the Things You Want in Life:
A burning desire is the greatest motivator of every human action. The desire for success implants "success consciousness" which; in turn, creates a vigorous and ever-increasing "habit of success."

IV) Develop Supreme Confidence in Yourself and Your Own Abilities:
Enter every activity without giving mental recognition to the possibility of defeat. Concentrate on your strengths, instead of your weaknesses ... on your powers, instead of your problems.

V) Develop a Dogged Determination to Follow Through on Your Plan, Regardless of Obstacles, Criticism or Circumstances or What Other People Say, Think or Do:
Construct your Determination with Sustained Effort, Controlled Attention, and Concentrated Energy. OPPORTUNITIES never come to those who wait ... they are captured by those who dare to ATTACK.

As a matter of fact, Paul J Meyer had even streamlined this core motivational philosophy into one beautiful sentence:

"Whatever you vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe & enthusiastically acted upon, must inevitably come to pass."
Up to today, I still have a framed-up & print-out copy of both mental imprints in my home office.

Paul J Meyer had defined ‘success’ as ‘progressive realisation of worthwhile, pre-determined, personal goals”. For me, I understood it as meaningful, purposeful & productive “work in progress”.

As a participant in the ‘Dynamics of Personal Motivation’ program, I was invited to attend regular follow-up sessions at the marketer’s office during the evenings.

Participants were also given the opportunity to watch the series of ‘American Salesmasters’ videos as part of the evening sessions, facilitated by Philip Tan & David Chia. I had enjoyed watching & learning from the inspiring, high-content video presentations.

Frankly, in terms of active learning points, I got a lot out of the evening follow-up sessions with the video presentations.

[Speakers on videos included Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, Cavett Robert, Zig Ziglar, Fred Herman, Bill Gove, Ty Boyd, Charles Jones, Hal Krause, & Larry Wilson.]

Along the way, I also bought a lot of SMI’s audio recordings by Paul J Meyer, covering mostly sales leadership, which further enriched & reinforced my self-learning experiences.

In retrospect, I reckon the 'Law of Success' had given me the fundamental & philosophical foundations on personal achievement, but the 'Dynamics of Personal Motivation' had helped me to put them to work systematically in my wheel of life, pertaining to:

- physical & health;
- mental & education;
- family & home;
- spiritual & ethical;
- social & cultural;
- financial & career;

I consider this part of the journey as the 2nd milestone in my search for personal mastery.

Many thanks to you, Philip Tan & David Chia, wherever you may be!

[to be continued in IN SEARCH OF PERSONAL MASTERY III]

THE SECOND CYCLE

In an earlier post, I talked about my gym buddy & his second cycle of life.

Yesterday, he invited both my wife & myself again to his small private 60th birthday party at his beautiful home in Westwood Drive.

By the way, his name is Yeo Chin Yin.

Appended here is his family photograph taken at the party.

The birthday boy is sitting down, with his two witty grand-daughters. His eldest son is on the far left, followed by his wife & then his younger brother. The bespectacled lady standing just beside the two small girls is my gym buddy's wife, Betty. My wife & I are standing on the far right.

Theirs is one nice family, full of familial & filial love.

The second cycle for my gym buddy is now pivoted on a very strong footing for a really good spin.

NOTES FROM MY SCRATCH PAD: THE WINNING COMBINATION

The Winning Combination

DOING THINGS RIGHT + DOING THE RIGHT THINGS = Optimum Efficiency, Productivity & Equity

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

What would make my life a greater success than I could possibly imagined?

What would impede my current progress?

What could possibly take place to change my life fundamentally?

BOOK REVIEW: 'SHAPING THE MANAGERIAL MIND: HOW THE WORLD'S FOREMOST MANAGEMENT THINKER CRAFTED THE ESSENTIALS OF BUSINESS SUCCESS', by John Flaherty

Over the years since I started working as an engineer in the late sixties & also at different times in my life till now, I have read many of Peter Drucker's works on management, change, entrepreneurial endeavour & executive effectiveness.

I had bought this book just after it was published.

What attracted me was firstly, the author's credentials: He had followed Peter Drucker for over forty years & had kept notes on materials from Drucker's lectures, books, articles, conversations & correspondence.

Secondly, the book had covered some sixty years of Drucker's thoughtwares. I thought I could have access to further insights & new perspectives.

I have not been disappointed at all.

In the context of my own interests, I have found it very refreshing to re-read & attain a finer understanding of many important concepts.

Let me share some of my personal favourites with readers:

- Drucker talked about perception. He defined perception as seeing what everybody else had seen but ignored & thinking through what nobody else had thought through.

He observed that "people see what is presented to them; what is not presented tends to be "problems" - especially in the areas where performance skills falls below expectations - which means that managers tend not to see opportunities. They are simply not being presented with them."

[This reconciles in some way with the work of Edward de Bono, another great thought leader. Please read his 'Opportunities: A Handbook of Business Opportunity Search'.]

- In dealing with the future, Drucker suggested thinking about the future in three classifications:

1) projection (the future that has already happened);
2) anticipation (the future that one expects to happen);
3) innovation (a systematic methodology for inventing the future);

[Many of the intellectual works from the World Future Society's members, notwithstanding other consultants, are based essentially on these concepts.]

- Innovation is purposeful planned change, the sowing of seeds today for an entirely new & different business tomorrow;

[Many innovation consultants/authors have exploited this concept through their books & seminars.]

- Drucker provided an array of practical tactics for identifying entrepreneurial opportunities, namely:

1) the unexpected (success, failure, outside event);
2) incongruities;
3) demographics;
4) industry & market structure;
5) creative imitation;
6) entrepreneurial judo;
7) the ecological niche;

(Frankly, I thought the author did a much better job than Drucker in enlightening me here!)

[Michel Robert, a well-known international consultant in strategic thinking, readily exploited these concepts & even created a very successful proprietary methodology called 'Strategic Product Innovation Process', under Decision Processes International, which he founded in 1980. Please read his book, 'Strategic Product Innovation, Pure & Simple'.]

- Drucker maintained that inside a business were only costs, efforts, problems, frictions, & crises but never results. In seeking the source of business purpose, he concluded that it was the creation & satisfaction of the customer - in essence what has come to be known as the marketing concept;

- in the broadest sense, only marketing produced results; everything else in the business was cost. Drucker argued strenuously that there were no results inside the business, only costs; the outside factors of the customer & innovation were the crucial factors to performance & no business had control of them;

What I also like about this book is that it is filled with useful summaries & checklists of key lessons at the end of each chapter. The author must be complimented for doing a marvellous job.

Peter Drucker is undoubtedly the organisation thought leader of the 20th Century & our most significant contributor to the concepts of modern management & business strategy.

I concur that this book can serve as a practical crash course for first time readers who want to explore Peter Drucker's most profound discoveries in management, change, entrepreneurial endeavour, & executive effectiveness.

For all entrepreneur-wannabes out there, please read - & reread - this book. Your effort & time will be well-spent & also amply rewarded at the end of your exploration!

TOOLS FOR IDEA GENERATION

These are some of my favourite books during the late eighties & throughout the nineties. They have given me many different perspectives on tools for idea generation:

1) Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative Thinking Techniques, by Michael Michalko

Comments: “An excellent resource; makes you think and act differently; contains lots of awesome creative techniques. Author is believed to be a former intelligence operative.”

2) 101 Creative Problem Solving Techniques: The Handbook of New Ideas for Business, by James M. Higgins

Comments: “Presents over 100 techniques to stimulate your creativity in the workplace. Read his other books, esp. Escape from the Maze.”

3) Creative Problem Solver's Toolbox: A Complete Course in the Art of Creating Solutions to Problems of Any Kind, by Richard Fobes

Comments: “An excellent primer if you want to revv up and sharpen your problem-solving abilities. It's really a toolbox. You can't go to the office without it!”

4) The Idea Edge: Transforming Creative Thought into Organizational Excellence, by Bob King

Comments: “Provides new application tools for stimulating creativity in the workplace. From the wonderful Goal/QPC people, who produces excellent TQM products and services."

5) The Creativity Toolkit: Provoking Creativity in Individuals and Organizations, by H. James Harrington

Comments: “Written primarily from a TQM perspective, it provides the framework to implement and provoke creativity in work processes, across and at all levels. Comes with a CD-ROM."

6) The Thinker's Toolkit : 14 Powerful Techniques for Problem Solving, by Morgan D. Jones

Comments: “Shows how you can start making better ideas and better decisions--with immediate benefits to the bottom line.”

7) The Problem Solving Journey: Your Guide for Making Decisions and Getting Results, by Christopher Hoenig

Comments: “Reveals the winning strategies of great problem solvers in the business world, with the six key dimensions of the problem solving journey.”

8) Breakthrough! The Problem-solving Advantage: Everything You Need to Start a Solution Revolution, by Debbe Kennedy

Comments: “This book/card deck/CD-ROM is a helpful kit for hands-on organizational renewal. If fully used, problems diminish as breakthroughs emerge. Designed for CEOs & senior managers."

9) Creative Solution Finding : The Triumph of Breakthrough Thinking over Conventional Problem Solving, by Gerald Nadler

Comments: “Offers a brand-new way of solving problems; learn the seven principles of Total System Approach, and apply them in your business.”

10) Total Creativity in Business & Industry, by David Tanner

Comments: “A smorgasbord of creative tools, including lateral thinking to enhance your solution finding to business problems. Author is a dedicated de Bono fan."

11) The Toolbox for the Mind, by D. Keith Denton

Comments: “Fresh, innovative approaches to on-the-job creativity, utilising an inter-disciplinary approach.”

12) Brain Boosters for Business Advantage : Ticklers, Grab Bags, Blue Skies, and Other Bionic Ideas, by Arthur B. VanGundy

Comments: “A resource book of some100 individual/group idea generation techniques. Fun and easy-to-use, it's also the place to turn for those times when even the deepest idea well runs dry. Read his other books."

13) Jump Start Your Brain, by Doug Hall

Comments: “Shares astonishingly effective ways (metaphors to be precise) to enhance thinking and creativity to real-life/business problems. From an ex-top notch advertising maverick. May blow your mind!"

14) Imagination Engineering: Your Toolkit for Business Creativity, by Paul Birch

Comments: “Presents a tool kit of creativity techniques in an innovative style, covering all stages of the creative problem solving process."

15) What a Great Idea!: The Key Steps Creative People Take, by Charles Thompson

Comments: “Among other interesting stuff, learn about the creative skills of Yoshiro Nakamatsu, Japan's #1 maverick inventor. (He invented the Love Jet, without the side effects, replacing Viagra!)"

16) Aha! 10 Ways to Free Your Creative Spirit and Find Your Great Ideas, by Jordan Ayan

Comments: “An inspiring yet practical guidebook for freeing your creative spirit at all times.”

17) 99% Inspiration: Tips, Tales & Techniques for Liberating Your Business Creativity, by Bryan W. Mattimore

Comments: ”Supplies a colourful palette of techniques and stories to help business people tap hidden creative strengths to solve a wide range of workplace issues."

20) Creative Problem Solving and Opportunity Finding, by J. Daniel Couger

Comments: “A jam-packed compendium of proven tools, strategies & techniques. Reading his book is like reading many creativity books in one go.”

21) Thunderbolt Thinking: A How-to Guide for Strategic Innovators, by Grace McGartland

Comments: “A collection of tools and techniques to build an innovative workplace; designed to unlock your ideas and creativity to discover more than you thought possible from yourself and your business."

22) Innovation, Inc.: Unlocking Creativity in the Workplace. by Stephen R. Grossman

Comments: “Helps to develop your random association and analogy building skills - to connect seemingly unrelated and ostensibly disparate things/places/people/events/ideas. Powerful stuff.”

23) Leading on the Creative Edge: Gaining Competitive Advantage Through the Power of Creative Problem Solving, by Roger L. Firestien

Comments: “Illustrates creative problem solving from a leadership and team-based perspective. Read his other books and stuff e.g. PowerThink.”

24) The Creativity Factor: Unlocking the Potential of Your Team, by Edward Glassman

Comments: “Shows you how to use creative tools in a leadership and team-based environment. Read his other book, Creativity Handbook.”

25) Transformation Thinking: Tools and Techniques That Open the Door to Powerful New Thinking for Every Member of Your Organization, by Joyce Wycoff

Comments: “A powerful resource for managers; packed with innovative techniques to promote creativity and problem-solving in any organization."

26) Six Thinking Hats, by Edward de Bono

Comments: “Shows how to be a better thinker/problem solver , through deliberate role-playing with colourful hats, using case studies and real-life examples. Read his other books, e.g. Uses of Lateral Thinking.”

27) Think Out of the Box, by Mike Vance

Comments: “Shows how to become a 'out-of-the-box' thinker, using Displayed Thinking (or story-boarding), among a variety of other useful tools. This is the first book in a trilogy. Get all the books."

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"There is a fountain of youth; it's in your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life. When you learn to tap this source, you will have truly defeated age."

(Sophia Loren, famous Italian actress)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

CREATIVE PROBLEM SOLVING TOOLKITS

These are some of my favourite creative problem solving toolkits:

1. CREATIVE WHACKPACK, BY ROGER VAN OECH

Comments: "The best in the genre, in terms of generating wild (sometimes, out of this world) ideas in the creative process. Warning: Not for the faint-hearted! Read the author’s books. Great stuff!"

2. THINKPAK, BY MICHAEL MICHALKO

Comments: "If you are, by nature, a conservative thinker, you will like this one naturally. Read the author’s book, Thinkertoys. Really great stuff!"

3. GET OUT OF YOUR THINKING BOX, BY LINDSAY COLLIER

Comments: "Actually, a fun-filled booklet with 365 approaches, one per day over a year, to jog your thinking. Read the author’s Whack a Mole Theory."

4. THE CREATIVITY TOOLS MEMORY JOGGER, BY ROBERT BEACH/MICHAEL BRASSARD

Comments: "A ring-bound pocket-size book on using industry-proven planning tools to solve problems. A really power-packed jogger!"

5. BREAKTHROUGH: A PROBLEM SOLVING ADVANTAGE, BY DEBBE KENNEDY

Comments: "This is a really heavy-weight tool-kit for solving problems, across all organisational/complexity levels. Highly recommended, if you are running a company!"

6. THOUGHT EXPANDERS, BY MARIAN J THIER

Comments: "Actually, a computer-based tool-kit, for random stimulation of your mind, on a daily basis. Not the best; has some flaws, but still useful."

7. CAN YOU BELIEVE YOUR EYES? BY J RICHARD BLOCK

Comments: "Not a creativity tool-kit in real terms, but will definitely help you to understand your natural perceptual tendencies, which drive the way you look at problems."

8. PARADOX BOX: OPTICAL ILLUSIONS, BY JULIAN ROTHENSTEIN

Comments: "A fun-filled optical illusions pack to help you understand - and prime - your perceptual sensitivity. Creativity begins with the eye!"

9. 52 WAYS TO NURTURE YOUR CREATIVITY, BY LYNN GORDON

Comments: "Another fun-filled activity-based (one activity per week over a year) tool-kit for priming your mind for idea generation through random associations. Play the author’s other tool-kits!"

10. DE BONO’S SUPERMIND PACK, BY EDWARD DE BONO

Comments: "From the Grand Master of lateral thinking. Not the best, has some flaws, but still useful as a primer."