Saturday, December 1, 2007

THE WORLD'S MOST IMPORTANT & INFLUENTIAL BUSINESS THINKERS 2007

The results of the global ranking of business thinkers for the year 2007 are as follows:

1 CK PRAHALAD
2 Bill GATES
3 Alan GREENSPAN
4 Michael PORTER
5 Gary HAMEL
6 Chan KIM & Renée MAUBORGNE
7 Tom PETERS
8 Jack WELCH
9 Richard BRANSON
10 Jim COLLINS
11 Philip KOTLER
12 Robert KAPLAN & David NORTON
13 Kjell NORDSTRÖM & Jonas RIDDERSTRÅLE
14 Charles HANDY
15 Stephen COVEY
16 Henry MINTZBERG
17 Thomas A. STEWART
18 Malcolm GLADWELL
19 Lynda GRATTON
20 Donald Trump
21 Scott ADAMS
22 Ram CHARAN
23 Vijay GOVINDARAJAN
24 Warren BENNIS
25 Clayton CHRISTENSEN
26 Thomas FRIEDMAN
27 Kenichi OHMAE
28 Rosabeth MOSS KANTER
29 Steve JOBS
30 John KOTTER
31 Jeff IMMELT
32 Rob GOFFEE & Gareth JONES
33 Adrian SLYWOTSKY
34 Marshall GOLDSMITH
35 Bill GEORGE
36 Larry BOSSIDY
37 Daniel GOLEMAN
38 Marcus BUCKINGHAM
39 Howard GARDNER
40 Edward DE BONO
41 Al GORE
42 David ULRICH
43 Seth GODIN
44 Costas MARKIDES
45 Rakesh KHURANA
46 Richard D'AVENI
47 Peter SENGE
48 Chris ARGYRIS
49 Jeffrey PFEFFER
50 Chris ZOOK

[For more specific information, commentary about the ranking as well as interviews, please visit 'The Thinkers 50' corporate website.]

PRAGMATIC INSIGHTS FROM THE EXPERTS

“The future is not inevitable. We can influence it, if we know what we want it to be.”

(Charles Handy, author of 'Gods of Management', 'The Age of Unreason' & 'The Elephant & the Flea' among many other books; considered one of the world's most important & influential business thinkers;)

QUICK NOTES: IN SEARCH OF A BALANCED LIFE

Victor Gomez, a consultant on leadership, creativity & communication, offers the following simple advice pertaining to the balancing of your work/life, in today's issue of CATS Recruit Page of the Straits Times:

1) Know Yourself: I particularly like his analogy of 'defragmentation' from computer technology as a tool for creating more free space & restoring equilibrium in your life;

2) Set Achievable Goals: The pursuit of goals in an organisation should be dovetailed to take into account the human factor; Likewise, the quality & joy of performance are definitely far more important than multi-tasking at work;

3) Maintain Healthy Relationships: I agree that conflicts are healthy if taken in the proper context, as solutions through active dialogue & mutual concern can lead to progress & harmony between people & ultimately the organisation;

His end analysis: When you make room for the things you value in your personal life, you will be happier at work, too!

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

What am I currently doing in my life?

Why am I currently doing this?

Is what I am currently doing working for me and do I really enjoy doing this?


What would I rather be doing?

Are there any reasons why I am not doing this right now?

What new strategies can I perform to ensure I move towards my ideal situation?


(Inspired by Andrew McCombe, success coach & author, 'Activate Your Life')

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"You have been given a gift. It is called life. And with this gift you have been given all of the talents, all of the knowledge and all of the power to create whatever it is you want to create on this Earth. Regardless of what shape or form this gift comes in for you, you owe it to yourself to go out there and become the best person you can possibly be, doing whatever it is that you want to do and use your gift to see what an amazing life you can create for yourself. You serve no one, especially not yourself, by choosing to be average!"
(an excerpt from 'Activate Your Life' by Andrew McCombe, a success coach from Down Under; more information is available from his corporate website - it's a gold mine of practical information!)

Friday, November 30, 2007

LIFE TRANSFORMATION PROGRAMS FOR TEENS & KIDS: A PERSONAL MUSING

Every year, the October & November months represent the busiest months for purveyors of motivational camps for teens & kids in Singapore.

It seems that the annual year end closing is part of the reasons, as with the new year, comes a new set of challenges.

Purveyors, big & small, enthusiastically slug it out with their catchy advertisements in the Straits Times. The newspaper publisher is obviously laughing all the way to the bank.

It is obvious that testimonial advertising is now the name of the game for these purveyors.

Here's a quick & random sampling:

"Thank you Mindchamps! You have helped my son get into his first-choice secondary schools...", from a grateful parent & graduate;

"Thanks to Adam Khoo, I become an ASEAN scholar!' from a grateful graduate - this fellow is seemingly very aggressive in his strategy, with an ad in the papers practically every day;

"Dad & Mum, you play a big part in shaping your child's bright & exciting future. Start Now!' says Dr Ernest Wong in his series of defensive ads promoting the SuperTeen Holiday Camps;

"He has improved in marks, reading & his attention has very much improved..." from a grateful father, whose son went through personalised brain training with apparently a new comer, http://www.brain-revolution.com/;

Another series of ads - from a memory trainer - urges parents not to spend thousands of dollars on camps where participants are packed together like sardines. Theirs is 10:1 only.

Do these motivational camps for teens & kids really work? Of course, they do!

Grateful parents as well as the camp graduates themselves often did not realise that it is not the camps or the motivational speakers behind the camps that are the prime drivers in their success endeavours.

At the end of the day, it is the teens & kids who did the hard work - as well as subsequently made the breakthrough decision - & then, produced the ultimate results.

Allow me to go a little bit deeper. Between the stimulus from the motivational camps, & the response from the participants, lies a very fine space.

In that space, lies the freedom & the power of the participant to choose an appropriate response.

In realistic terms, it is the ultimate choice of the participant that determines his personal growth -more precisely, his success or failure in life.

Gratitude is an admirable trait as well as a good deed indeed, but successful graduates should never outsource their personal responsibility for their own personal destiny.

I do not discount the contribution of the motivational camps - & the people who run them.

Looking at them objectively, they certainly have done - & will continue to do - a good job:

- They orchestrate all the wonderful opportunities & conditions for all the teens & kids to realise that they are born winners right from day one (I like to call it the 'spermatozoa analogy')!

- They encourage the teens & kid to love themselves first - as lovable & capable human beings (this is the true meaning of self-esteem) - before they can extend their love to others;

- They change the belief systems or habitual domains of the teens & kids & teach them that personal breakthroughs always come from change in personal beliefs;

- They empower the teens & kids to create compelling futures for themselves, 5, 10, 15 or even 20 years down the road, particularly with a laser-guided focus towards intended outcomes & desired results;

- They teach the teens & kids about fear & anxiety in their many physical manifestations, & how to overcome them with a gamut of powerful tools, like visualisation, mental rehearsal, autogenic training, etc.;

- They cajole the teens & kids to embrace mistakes & failures as opportunities for learning as well as stepping stones to success;

- They instill in the teens & kids that learning is fun - & fun is also learning, - but there must be clarity in their purpose in life;

- They prove to the teens & kids that everything in life is possible (this is the abundance mindset) - it's just a question of strategy;

- They engrain in the teens & kids that life is all about making choices: each & every one of them has the absolute power to choose a life for living to the fullest human potential, or a life for drowning in middling goodness as well as eternal misery;

These are what I call the 'soft skills' sets. You can call them the new software for the brain!

Of course, these are often 'learned' by the teens & kids through deliberate immersion in accelerated, multi-sensory environments, coupled with a wide variety of experiential exercises & discovery games, as well as a structured dosage of physically challenging group dynamics.

In neurolinguistics, this is the challenge of excellence, where teens & kids in the camps are often pushed to - & beyond - their perceived limits.

Make or break for the teens & kids often occur at this threshold.

Without these new 'soft skills', & the realisation that the personal power lies within themselves, the young brains will continue to follow their previously ingrained dominant thoughts when they leave the camps!

Once these soft skills are readily embraced, the world around the teens & kids changes radically. They begin to see possibilities beyond their wildest dreams!

Subsequently, the hard skill sets will make more sense to them, when taught, & will then automatically fall into place as part of their tool repertoire to deal with a rapidly changing world.

The hard skill sets refer to goal setting, time management, speed reading, information gathering, memory management, note-taking/making, lesson revision, exam preparation & strategy application, effective writing & stress management.

What puzzles me most is that school principals as well as classroom teachers are still rather slow in understanding & appreciating the power of the human mind in the process of life pursuits & learning endeavours.

As professionals, they can very easily replicate the opportunities & conditions for learning is fun in the schools.

In the world of business, Steve Jobs is certainly a real inspiration behind Apple Computers.

This is what he once said, which I have repeated many times in my posts: "You can't mandate productivity. You can only create an environment where people will excel."

I strongly urge all school principals & all classroom teachers to follow likewise, for the sake of our future thought leaders.

THE SECRET & THE SCIENCE OF GETTING RICH: A PERSONAL MUSING

I was rather intrigued by a recent series of advertisements in the Straits Times put out by the DMG Capital Corporation.

It's catchphrase was more or less: Allow me to show you the path to Prosperity - 'The Secret & The Science of Getting Rich.'

The man behind the whole thing is none other Dr Mel Gill. I met Dr Gill many years ago in one of his radio talk shows. He was a very impressive & dynamic presenter.

Out of curiosity, I went through the advertisement composition with a fine tooth comb. I also checked out his corporate website, which has absolutely nothing much to offer, except more sales pitches.

I found the following powerful key words:

- FAILURE;
- SUCCESS;
- DECISIONS;
- MAGNETISE;
- MIND;
- ABUNDANCE;
- PASSION;
- RELATIONSHIPS;
- DESTINY;
- CONNECT THE DOTS;
- LIFESTYLE;
- MONEY;
- BELIEFS;
- PARADIGM SHIFT;
- THOUGHTS;
- LAWS;
- TAKING & GIVING;

These are the words most often associated with neurolinguistics, & are also found in most motivational books available in public libraries &/or bookstore shelves in the marketplace.

In fact, you can read about them in numerous inspirational articles available freely on the Internet. You can even listen to podcast versions.

Coming back to the advertisement, I reckon it certainly goes to show how the power of human ingenuity can be put to work by clustering all the powerful words together to create a teachable curriculum for success coaching.

The underlying techniques in the whole process are essentially 'combinatory play' & 'random juxtaposition', which I had already talked about in my earlier posts.

If you can read this post, you definitely have an intellectual understanding of all the foregoing powerful words. Not only that, you probably can come up with many synonyms as well as antonyms to match up with those words.

This is essentially the 'word experience' - i.e. you have textual understanding of the word - a distinction I had learned from Harry Palmer, the brain behind the powerful AVATAR technology.

Motivational books as well as success workshops have always been around for decades. There are also many gurus of diverse backgrounds in the marketplace.

The major issue at stake is that, readers &/or attendees always get emotionally 'high' when they read or hang out in motivational workshops with their fellow participants.

Once the euphoria is over, everything goes back to square one, especially when you get caught up with the entrenched routines of daily life. Worst of all, nothing learned has actually been put to work.

It is precisely the personal application - the applied knowledge - of what you have read or picked up from workshops that determine what will work & what will not work. The road to personal success (& wealth) actually starts here.

Over the years, my experience with the realities of hard knocks tells me that most people know the secrets to riches.

In reality, most people also know & understand the meaing & the significance of the foregoing powerful words.

Then, what is the basic problem with these people in achieving success?

My personal analysis: It's sitting on the fence i.e the lack of decisive action, & the fear of putting their own ideas - as well as other people's ideas from books & workshops - to work in their own lives.

Another problem is that most people just get stuck with their own reactions to difficulties or setbacks arising from their chosen endeavours, & do not choose to learn from them.

In other words, it's not what has happened to you. It's what you have learned from it.

This is the 'world experience' - or the hard knocks - which is apparently missing - another distinction I had learned from Harry Palmer.

Frankly speaking, most people are already equipped with enough information to put their lives in order & then move forward along the path to prosperity.

In fact, Dr Gill had put it in no uncertain terms when he imprinted this headline, "You always carry within yourself everything you need for the fulfillment of your life purpose", on the cover page of his book, 'Uncommon Sense: A Handbook of Life'.

More information is not going to make any difference. The stark reality is this: Nothing changes until something moves. It was Einstein who said this.

I know it because I had walked the path. So did Dr Gill.

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within himself."

(Galileo Galilei)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

BARGAINS GALORE AT PC SHOW SITEX 2007, SINGAPORE EXPO

I love to go to PC Shows, mainly to look at - & keep myself abreast of - new technological developments in the field. Sometimes, it's just to take the opportunity to fiddle with new technological stuff & maybe, to seek out worthwhile bargains.

I dropped into the PC Show SITEX 2007 at Singapore Expo, Hall 6 & 7, this afternoon with my younger brother, a techno geek.

I bought for myself a 1 tetrabyte capacity hard disk from Western Digital for S$399/-as well as a 8GB flash drive from Imation for 104/-.

Five years ago, I bought a 250GB capacity hard disk from Iomega, also in a PC Show. It costed me almost S$600/-.

My impression is that prices of computer peripherals as well as accessories have dropped tremendously across the board.

As a matter of fact, today, you can get a DELL Inspiron 530s desktop for less than S$950/-. It comes with a 20-inch flat panel LCD monitor, 1 GB DDR-2 SDRAM & 160GB hard Drive, plus free delivery.

Likewise, you can also get an ACER Notebook, Extensa 4620Z-1A1G12Mi, with 1.46 GHz, 2 GB DDR II RAM, 120 GB Hard Disk, with a 14.1 inch WXGA Colour TFT LCD, for less than S$1,000/.

Just imagine that I had paid S$12,000/- for an OTRONA ATTACHE 'transportable' computer, about twenty five years ago. It had only 64 K memory, 2x 360 K floppy disk drives, no hard disk & ran only CP/M. It did come with an EPSON dot matrix printer, LQ-1500, though.

Currently, I am still eyeing at Samsung's latest camcorder, model VP-MX10 with MPEG4 compression standard, 800K CCD, 34x optical zoom, 2.7-inch LCD, using SDHC memory media - you can just shoot, edit & upload, perfect for home videos. It's going for S$449/-. My brother thinks it's a good buy. I will decide by Saturday night.

Still scratching your head? You don't have to - just pop in to take a close look at what's available. It's open till Sunday, 9pm.

9 WAYS TO BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM

According to Kristyn Kusek Lewis, a writer for Shape, the complete mind & body guide for women, there are 9 ways to boost your immune system:

1) PHYSICAL WORKOUT: Moderate exercise - at least 3 or 4 hour-long sessions a week - help generate endorphins, which increase the production of white blood cells that destroy viruses; also, focus less on the type of workout & more on your level of exertion; the goal is to break a sweat without pushing yourself too much;

2) LAUGHING: This can build levels of antibody IgA, the body's first line of defence against germs;

3) GOOD SLEEP: A solid night of good sleep starves off illness;

4) MUSIC: This can help to raise IgA levels, especially during times of stress; [My personal favourites in this area are 'Relax with the Classics' collection from the Lind Institute, as well as Steven Halpern's anti-frantic music selections, plus the Metamusic selections from The Monroe Institute.]

5) SOCIAL NETWORK: A wide social network actually gives you a stay-healthy edge as rewarding relationships allow you to experience positive emotions;

6) VARIED DIET: Choose a wide variety of whole foods, including brown rice, low-fat protein sources like fish & beans, & 5 to 9 daily servings of fruits & veggies - make sure you are eating enough;

7) LATHERING: When washing your hands or body, lather soap all over for at least 20 seconds - & not under the tap, as it is the friction between the soap & skin that dislodges the germs!

8) SEX & TOUCH: Having sex once or twice a week substantially increases IgA levels; even just experiencing touch, as with a professional massage, can also increase natural killer cell activity;

9) HERBS: Cold fighting supplements like echinacea as well as astragalus are good preventive herbs - consider taking two 500mg pills daily;

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

“If you ever get a second chance in life for something, you've got to go all the way.”

(Lance Armstrong, 7 times 'Tour de France' Champion)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

MOVIE REVIEW: 'TEARS OF THE SUN'

In the war action movie, 'Tears of the Sun', directed by Antoine Fuqua (behind 'The Replacement Killers', 'The Shooter', 'King Arthur'), Lt. A K Waters (Bruce Willis) led an elite team of Navy SEALs into Nigerian territory to retrieve an American 'Doctors Without Borders' physician, Dr. Lena Kendricks (Monica Bellucci), who was tending victims of the ongoing ethnic civil war at a Catholic mission in a remote village.

It was meant to be a simple, straight-forward extraction.

They were under strict orders from their commanding officer, Capt. Bill Rhodes (Tom Skerritt) to remain disengaged from the conflict on the ground.

[The democratically elected Nigerian government of Samuel Akuza was overthrown by a ruthless military dictator, who was determined to wipe out the entire ruling family.]

Unfortunately, Lt. Waters did not realised that he had to deal with a tough cookie like Dr Kendricks, who demanded that the team also rescued some seventy refugees at the mission.

Lt. Waters & his team witnessed the extreme brutality of the rebels under the military dictator, & was immediately won over to Dr Kendrick's cause, & placed their own lives at risk by agreeing to escort the refugees on a perilous trek through dense jungle to reach the border with Cameroon.

They were pursued relentlessly by the rebels, under the command of a sadistic Col. Sadick, & were confounded until they discovered that, among the refugees, was the sole survivor of the country's previous ruling family, whom the rebels had been ordered to eliminate at all costs.

Lt. Waters had to weigh the life of one seemingly important man against their own & the refugees they were obliged to protect.

The rest of the movie traced their daring exploits through the dense jungle & open fields to reach the border, with the ruthless rebels on hot pursuit.

Frankly speaking, for me, this was one thought-provoking movie that truly portrayed what ethnic cleansing as well as wartime atrocities might really be like.

What I like about the story was that, Lt. Waters, a hardened military veteran, defied orders from his superiors. He did what he thought was the right thing to do. It was a judgement call he could not refused at all.

Contrary to military protocol, he also gave his men a chance to have a say.

I particularly like what one of the team members, James Atkins (Cole Hauser) said in response: "I can't look at them (the refugees) like package anymore. I'm gonna get them out or I'm gonna die trying."

Also, the Navy SEAL team members did not always agree with Lt Waters, & yet they remained loyal to him anyway.

The last segment of the movie was gritty & poignant.

Lt. Waters, with three Navy SEAL team members, all badly wounded, & Dr Kendricks, plus a small group of refugees, including the important Azuka heir, eventually survived the ordeal, as they finally crossed the border with Cameroon.

I was really touched when one of the refugees, with tears in her eyes, said to Lt. Waters: "I will never forget you...God will never forget you."

I reckon the ending quotation at the epilogue of the movie truly sums up my emotional sentiments about this movie: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing," attributed to Edmund Burke.

Again, I must say, despite minor technical flaws in the story, this is one hell of a good war action movie to watch.

It was a sobering thought to watch Bruce Willis in one of his toughest & sombre roles. In his other movies, e.g. the 'Moonlighting' television series as well as the 'Die Hard' movie quartet, he was always the wise cracker. In this movie, he was a very fine actor. Just look at his expressive eyes.

As for Monica Bellucci, she was a totally different person, unlike her sexy vivacious persona in her other movies, e.g. the two Matrix sequels.

To sum up all the three war action movies in the foregoing posts, I want to take this opportunity to share with readers a dedication statement I had learned - & remembered - since my secondary school days. It came from Sir Winston Churchill, the wartime British Prime Minister:

"Never in the field of human conflict, have so many owed so much to so few."

So, dear readers, please go & watch the three foregoing war action movies. You will be delighted.

MOVIE REVIEW: 'BEHIND ENEMY LINES'

In the war action movie, 'Behind Enemy Lines', a US Navy navigator, Lt. Chris Burnett (Owen Wilson) was cajoled by his commanding officer, Admiral Leslie Reigart (Gene Hackman) to take on one last reconnaisance flight from an aircraft carrier on the Adriatic Sea.

He was assigned to accompany a navy pilot, Lt. Stackhouse (Gabriel Macht), who would fly over the supposedly southern part of Bosnia. The action supposedly took place during the tail-end of the Bosnia-Serbia conflict.

The recon flight deliberately went off course, after Chris had apparently spotted something unusual on the ground. Pictures were captured by the plane's video camera, but he did not realise that there were unseen forces on the ground that did not want the world to see those pictures.

The plane was eventually shot down by a surface-to-air (SAM) missile. However, both the pilot & his navigator parachuted just in time. The extensive evasive actions by the pilot & the plane formed the initial action sequences of the movie - exciting, but somehow unbelievable.

The pilot was captured & executed on the landed spot, while Chris, who had witnessed the gruesome event, managed to escape into the woods.

The rest of the movie traced his own battle of wits as he outsmarted as well as out-manuevred his enemies on the ground to get help from his commanding officer, who unwittingly founded that his intended rescue operation was apparently hamstrung by political wrangling at the top of his chain of command.

There was this funny guy in the sports track suit who played the determined sniper, & who was assigned by enemy forces to track down Chris, locate the crash site & retrieve the damaging video pictures.

It was quite fun, actually for a change, to watch Owen Wilson, with his crooked nose, playing a serious & sober character in the movie. I had seen in other movies where he was often seen to be a mischievous, playful, 'trouble maker', like in 'I Spy', 'Shanghai Noon', 'Shanghai Knights', 'Starsky & Hutch', 'Wedding Crashers', just to name a few.

Gene Hackman, one of my favourite actors, seemed to have an understated role, but I simply love his character in the movie. At the risk of his own career, he eventually took personal command & led the successful rescue attempt ("Let's go & get our boy back!"). He was ultimately relinguished of the command of the battle group & reassigned to a desk job in Washington, but chose to retire from service, in honour of his men.

Sometimes, a man just has to do what he needs to do, even at the risk of his own personal future. To me, this is leadership, taking personal responsibility.

The final segment of the movie exhibited the spectacular rescue attempt of the downed navigator.

Our hero, during the very last few moments of being rescued, ran for cover from the blazing guns of the pursuing enemy forces, halted half-way, back-tracked, made one final attempt to search for, retrieved the video cartridge from the plane's crash site, & then leaped into the air over the cliff hanger & into the receiving arms of a marine, dangling on a tight rope from the rescue helicopter. Wow! that was really cool!

He wanted the world to see the damaging video, so that his pilot friend did not die in vain. That was his greatest defining moment in the movie, which I certainly enjoyed watching.

My end analysis: despite some minor technical flaws in the story, this is still another good war action movie to watch!

MOVIE REVIEW: 'BLACK HAWK DOWN'

In the war action movie, 'Black Hawk Down', directed by Ridley Scott (behind 'Gladiator', 'Blake Runner'), an elite team of some hundred US Army Rangers & Delta Force operatives were dropped deep into the capital city of Somalia, Mogadishu one day in October 1993.

It was the stronghold of the powerful warlord, Mohammed Farrah Aidid, who had been hijacking International Red Cross food shipments at the ports with the intention to used them as bargaining chips with the United Nations.

The mission was to capture two top lieutenants of the warlord.

It was perceived as a quick straight-forward extraction, 30 minutes the most, but it turned out to be a 18-hour nightmarish ordeal for the US soldiers on the ground.

Probably due to poor intelligence, they soon found themselves separated on the ground - & outnumbered - in a desperate street corner battle with a large group of heavily-armed Somali gunmen, following the early unexpected destruction of two of their Black Hawk rescue helicopters.

For the next 90 minutes or so, the entire movie then traced the heroic efforts by other fellow army rangers to rescue their comrades (Well, they certainly lived up to their military creed 'Leave No Man Behind'), starting with Sgt. Eversmann (Josh Hartnett), commanding one unit named Chalk IV & leading his men to the first Black Hawk crash site...

to Warrant Officer Durant (Ron Eldard), who was the only survivor of the second Black Hawk crash site & who was captured by Somali gunmen...

to the gung-ho Lt. Col. McKnight (Tom Sizemore) who led a rescue convoy only to get lost in an unforgiving city...

to Sgt. Sanderson (William Fichner) who was desperately trying to reach the first Black Hawk crash site...

to Staff Sgt. Yurek (Tom Guiry) who led two fellow Rangers, Nelson (Ewen Bremmer) & Twanbly (Tom Hardy) to meet up with their squad, Chalk IV, at the first Black Hawk crash site.
With all the bullets whizzing past & explosive sounds of gunfire, & of course, empty shells with blood splattering all over the bodies as well as places, the movie was quite confusing at first, as it was difficult to track who was who, although the soldiers' names were tagged to their individual helmets.

The gritty realism of the movie really put me into the middle of hellish horror faced by all the young US solders.

There were chilling moments, for example:

[When Warrant Officer Durant was captured & brought for interrogation]

Durrant: "My government will never negotiate for me."

Interrogator: "Then perhaps you & I can negotiate, huh? Soldier to soldier."

Durant: "I am not in charge."

Interrogator: "Course not, you have the power to kill, but not negotiate. In Somalia, killing is negotiation."

The following further comment by the interrogator really exposed the harsh reality of the situation:

"Do you think if you get General Aidid, we will simply put down our weapons & adopt American democracy? That the killing will stop? We know this, without victory, there will be no peace. There will always be killing, see? This is how things are in our world."

There were also some comic moments. For example:

[During a cross fire near the Black Hawk crash site.]

Grimes: "Why aren't you shooting?"

Waddell: "We're not being shot at yet."

Grimes: "How can you tell?"

Waddell: "A hiss means it's close. A snap means..."

[A bullet whizzed past, pretty close.]

Waddell: "Now, they're shooting at us!"

[They began returning fire.]

For me, this intense movie certainly captured the emotional fears, raw courage & selfless heroism of the US soldiers against nearly insurmountable odds.

At the end, nineteen of them perished, not counting probably the thousands of Somali people who also died in the cross fire.

I enjoyed watching the movie, for the reasonably good acting, despite the fact that the movie did not centre on any single character, the pulsating action sequences, the comic as well as tearful moments, & the beautiful cinematography.

I particularly like the dialogue towards the ending, when Sgt. Norm Hooten (Eric Bana) said to Sgt. Eversmann (Josh Hartnett):

"When I go home, people will ask me, "Hey, Hoot, why do you do it, man? What, you some kind of a war junkie?" You know what I'll say? I won't say a goddamn word. Why? They won't understand why we do it. They won't understand that it's about the men next to you, & that's all it is."

What a profound response from a true soldier as well as a good human being.

The final scene through the film credits was also very poignant, as I watched nineteen coffins slowly being loaded on to a 130-Hercules transport, with the loading ramp slowly closing.

I believe the opening quote from Plato at the movie's beginning, "Only the dead have seen an end to war," truly reflects my emotional sentiments about the movie.

According to history, it was the Malaysian and Pakistani contingents based in Somalia under the United Nations command that actually made the final rescue & eventually escorted the surviving US Army rangers & Delta Force operatives out of harm's way.

[In that final scene, it was quite funny, & scary at the same time too, to watch the surviving US soldiers, seemingly exhausted, having to run on foot, & obviously unprotected, behind the escort convoy, with a ragtag group of Somali gunmen on pick-up trucks chasing them.]

This vital part of history was apparently downplayed in the movie. I guess that's Hollywood's prerogative.

My end analysis, this is one hell of a good war action movie to watch!

21ST CENTURY: 'THE CENTURY OF THE SMALL'

Dr Tony Tan, Deputy Chairman of the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation, gave a very insightful speech at the dialogue luncheon organised by the Singapore Venture Capital & Private Equity Association yesterday, as reported in today's issue of the Straits Times.

These are what I have gleaned from the report:

1) The 21st century can be said to be the 'Century of the Small', in contrast to the 'Century of the Large' in the 20th century - innovations will be coming from small companies, particularly venture capitalist-backed, high-tech start-ups with good intellectual property derived from cutting-edge research;

2) Businesses, & even our lifestyles today will be increasingly influenced by technological developments at the micro level - bits & bytes, cells & molecules;

3) Opportunities in the 21st century will be characterised by the convergence of the big 'Os' - bio, nano & info i.e. biotechnology, nanotechnology & information technology;

4) Our educational & research institutes in Singapore need to embark on more user-inspired research - research that provides solutions to major societal & economic problems that impact mankind;

5) Technology transfer & commercialisation are the means to create value for the economy & society;

6) We need more small tech enterprises as they are now the ones making the bulk of breakthroughs in innovations - he cited the pacemaker, personal computer, Polaroid camera & prestressed concrete as well as Google, Skype, YouTube, Facebook as good examples;

7) Singapore needs to strengthen links between the local universities & the larger community of start-ups & venture capitalists;

IT'S ALL ABOUT PASSION!

Today's issue of the Straits Times, carried a feature, as part of the SME Leaders: A series showcasing SMEs that have shown outstanding growth performance, on the ITS Group.

ITS Group, a supplier & producer of medical & scientific instruments, started as a small one-man outfit in Kuala Lumpur in 1976. Today, the group owns its headquarters in Singapore & has churned out S$60 million last year.

In the interview, Mr Lawrence Tan, President & CEO, bemoans the difficulty of getting financing during the early years & the struggle during the Asian financial crisis, which set his company back by 3 to 4 years.

Nevertheless, he reveals that the secret to his success is simply dedication, hard work &, more importantly, passion.

He believes in the future:

- specially tailored drugs for individuals;
- mobile phone batteries that last for a week;
- environmental technologies, e.g. air pollution control;

Since a young boy, he has developed an interest in science & nature, which he has applied to his childhood hobby of planting orchids. Today, he has his own garden in his penthouse condominium at Glentrees in Mount Sinai, Singapore.

This passion is also what keeps him going. In fact, he wants to spread it through all his 300 employees in the group through empowerment & trust.

He adds: "Everyday there are more things to do. Running a business is very scientific. You can get data, references, records to tell you what you can do better. There's a lot to learn, a lot to find out, a lot of ways to improve your company...There's still a lot of work to be done."

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"The moment when you first wake up in the morning is the most wonderful of the twenty-four hours. No matter how weary or dreary you may feel, you possess the certainty that, during the day that lies before you, absolutely anything may happen. And the fact that it practically always doesn't, matters not a jot. The possibility is always there."

(Monica Baldwin, 1896-1975, was a niece of British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin. She is chiefly of interest because after spending 28 years in a closed order of nuns - she entered in 1914, a few months before the outbreak of World War I -, she left the convent in the middle of World War II, entering a world changed beyond belief from the one she had left. In the intervening period, she had not read a newspaper, seen a photograph or heard the radio. She published a memoir, 'I Leap Over the Wall: Contrasts and Impressions after Twenty-eight Years in a Convent', in 1950 and a debut novel, 'The Called and the Chosen', in 1957.)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

MOVIE REVIEWS: 'BLACK HAWK DOWN', 'BEHIND ENEMY LINES', & 'TEARS OF THE SUN'

Last week, including the weekend, I watched three great war action movies on television, namely:

1) 'Black Hawk Down', starring Josh Hartnett, Tom Sizemore, Eric Bana;

2) 'Behind Enemy Lines', starring Owen Wilson, Gene Hackman;

3) 'Tears of the Sun', starring Bruce Willis, Monica Bellucci, Tom Skerritt;

The first movie was based on an actual event that took place in Mogadishu, Somalia on the African continent in October 1993 during the Clinton presidency.

The second movie was apparently a fictional adaptation of an actual event that supposedly took place during the Bosnia-Serbia conflict.

The third movie was more of a fictional account that had the starvation-ravaged Nigeria caught in an ethnic civil war as a background setting.

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"You must learn day by day, year by year, to broaden your horizon. The more things you love, the more you are interested in, the more you enjoy, the more you are indignant about, the more you have left when anything happens."
(Ethel Barrymore, 1879-1959, Academy Award winning film & stage actress)

REAL-WORLD STRATEGIC INSIGHTS FROM THE ENTERPRISE 50 AWARDS 2007 II

[continued from Part I. This is the final part.]

My end summary of the major ingredients of entrepreneurial success is as follows:

1) constantly finding & exploiting new business opportunites;

2) building a solid foundation;

3) having a frame of mind towards hard work & determination to succeed;

4) embracing change & failure as stepping stones to success;

5) cultivating a culture of innovation & learning - it's important to realise that successful entrepreneurs don't do different things; they just see & do things differently from others!

6) having a deep sense of customer orientation & an unending quest for excellence;

7) last, but not least, a burning desire in nurturing human capital - Steve Jobs is right; you just can't mandate productivity; all you can do is to create an environment where people can excel!

Monday, November 26, 2007

QUICK NOTES: SELF-COACHING FOR PEAK PERFORMANCE

Bill Cole, a leading authority on peak performance, mental toughness& coaching, & founder & CEO of ProCoach Systems, offers the following self-coaching tips in today's Straits Times, with additional suggestions from yours truly:

1) Be willing to learn & grow: self-directed learning is the way to go in a knowledge economy; constantly seek out new learning experiences by applying Ronald Gross' Invisible University & Zig Ziglar's Automobile University;

2) Adopt a beginner's mind: an open-minded attitude & the willingness to suspend judgement certainly allow more room for new ideas to come to you as well as opportunities for experimentation;

3) Be thick-skinned: such a disposition naturally unblocks your fear of making mistakes & fear of looking bad in front of your peers;

4) Be ready to embrace failure: it's a known fact that all successful entrepreneurs go through the failure valley; failure gives valuable feedback, thus strengthening your learning; if you are serious about wanting to learn how to manage failure & to develop an appetite for risk in your life &/or your work, I suggest reading 'Innovate or Die : A Personal Perspective on the Art of Innovation' by Jack Matson.

5) Use creative exploration: creativity & the power of imagination open up a lot of possibilities to explore the world around you; in fact, the only sustainable competitive advantage between you & the competition is your creativity; I would invite readers to consider the five strategic exploration tools suggested by Joel Arthur Barker;

6) Develop self awareness: noticing & observing yourself, & using feedback from various perspectives, deepen your self-exploration; in fact, I would suggest understanding your own personal learning styles as well as brain dominance to help you maximise more on your learning pursuits;

7) Analyse yourself: I fully concur that unexamined experiences offer lost opportunities; only by reviewing your personal experiences, you will then be able to understand what works & what doesn't work in your life;

8) Value self-reflection: this is definitely a good time for renewing your energy & taking stock of your life priorities;

9) Use a personal journal: I know from personal experience that private writing allows you to crystallise your thoughts as well as enhance your own awareness; I would strongly recommend reading 'Accidental Genius: Revolutionize Your Thinking Through Private Writing', by Mark Levy, as he offers more practical suggestions on this subject;

10) Take affirmative action: knowledge is not power, until it is applied purposefully & meaningfully; in other words, nothing changes until you make a move; in fact, I would emphasise massive & consistent action to get the ball rolling;

REAL-WORLD STRATEGIC INSIGHTS FROM THE ENTERPRISE 50 AWARDS 2007 I

There are 50 companies who are winners of the Enterprise 50 Awards 2007 that signify entrepreneurial excellence.

The Straits Times today featured 17 companies of the aces in the pack.

Here are the strategic insights which I have gleaned from their success stories:

"We strive consistently to embark on new growth trends & do not remain stagnant. We spread our risk among segments of different industries so that we have more pillars to support our growth...Going forward, our greatest challenge is to ensure that we have the human resources that we need, including foreign talents...We have to increase productivity to reduce our labour content."

(Mr Lau Tai San, Chairman & MD, Kim Ann Engineering, which supply processed metal components to MNCs)

"I put myself in a crisis frame of mind so that complacency will not creep in. If we make one major mistake, that will be the end of us...We strive to work like a symphony orchestra. Every member plays a vital role..."

(Mr Wong Yew Choo, GM, Lipico Industries, one of the world's leading engineering companies for the oils & fats refining industry)

"To differentiate itself from the competitors, my people must exceed customers' expectations & provide a complete range of services to address even the most unique demand...At Romar, no idea is considered silly...I managed my team by being both far & near - far enough to provide a free rein to our people with defined goals, yet near enough to be there when I am needed."

(Mr Jonathan Lim, MD, Romar Positioning Equipment, one of the top five players in the field today)

"I picked up one important lesson when I was growing up: You can do whatever that is within your capabilities & do it well."

(Ms Angie Tang, CEO & Director of Franklin Offshore International, the biggest provider of lifting, mooring & marine equipment to the global oil & gas industry)

"The most important quality of a high performance business is a strong management team led by an enterprising leader. The leader has to be a visionary, a thinker & a strategist. We lead a culture of innovation. We always stay ahead of the market, anticipate market changes & take proactive action...How do we face hardships? We do it by showing resilience & tenacity. We tighten every bolt, we never give up, we face it all. And when the situation gets tight, we re-invent ourselves...We want the staff to come & work not just for the money, although that is, of course, important. We want them to have heart, to feel for the company...The secret to our success is simply leading, cultivating & managing an organisation with passion, sincerity & dedication for innovation & excellence, & of course, it takes lots of hard work, besides working smart."

(Mr Lim Chwee Seng, MD, Hin Hin Management & Holdings, a major player in petrochemicals, which started off as a one-man bicycle shop in 1970)

"What is most important is the business relationship (or customer loyalty)."

(Mr Chng Kee Peng, VP of Press Automation Technology, a maker of metal stamping press machines)

"In any business, you have to be very committed in order to succeed, but you don't do everything yourself. I have a team."

(Mr Mahesh Sivasamy, MD of Orient Express Lines, who came to Singapore in 1999 to penetrate the highly competitive container service market by doing business with the big sharks)

"Safety, quality, cost & time are the four core values that the business adheres to."

Mr Lee Chong Chin & Ms Agnes Gan, the husband & wife team behind Jian Huang Constructors, specialising in designing & building industrial warehouses)

"Key factors which have contributed to our success are our long term view of market opportunities, acting on these opportunities early, & staying focused on pursuing business opportunities through good times & bad...The best way to overcome any challenge is to persevere. I believe that when we are undaunted by all kinds of market conditions, we will be able to find success."

(Mr Lim Chung Chun, Chairman of iFast, an online distribution channel for investors & a transaction & service platform of independent financial advisors)

"We have to continually improve & maintain a gap between us & our competitors. Our competitive advantage has to be based on something that is sustainable. That means technical competency, quality & reliability of our services & responsive technical support to our customers."

(Mr Lee Yeo Chiang, Executive Director of iWow Technology, a major wireless solutions provider)

"Our success is the result of hard work, determination & foresight. It lies in our ability to keep abreast of innovations in the marine industry & the willingness of the management team to make calculated risky investments."

(Mr Tan Ser Giam, MD & Chairman of Eastern Navigation, a major marine transporter)

"If you suffer a set back, get through it, move on & do not dwell on it. Learn the lessons & apply it the next time the same problem comes up...The challenges may be tough, but with concentration & determination, anything is possible...Have an unrelenting focus on what you set out to achieve & stay true to your path. Be prepared to have disappointments. have a view to the future, & make sure whatever you bring to the table has real value, consistently."

(Mr Harish Nim, CEO of Emerio GlobeSoft, a developer of remote infrastructure management systems)

"Success has not come without challenges...We had to work hard to build a good foundation & track record."

(Mr Tony Tan, MD of Soon Lian Hardware, a specialist supplier of aluminium products)

"The long term success depends on building a corporate culture of learning. I hope every Koufu employee learns something new every day."

(Mr Pang Lim, MD of Koufo, the heartland food court chain with 37 outlets, churning out S$60 million last year)

"My personal key to successful entrepreneurship is to be passionate & enjoy what I am doing."

(Mr Ong Tze Hsiung, CEO of Kiddy Palace, a children department store with 10 retail outlets)

"My company success can be attributed to constant innovation, value-added & product diversification...The company's philosophy is to always be ready to improve & pursue excellence in everything it does...We place ourselves in the shoes of our customers & along the way, we have come up with other initiatives that add to their convenience."

(Mr Danny Teo, MD of Gain City Best Electric, a specialist in sales, installation, maintenance & repair of commercial & home refrigerators & air-conditioners)

"Success follows from having a well-run organisation that is in tune with customer & industry needs...We believe in a clear client-driven attitude, going the distance to understand their business & needs, so that the solution we provide does not leave them wanting at all...We never overlook or assume better knowledge of our clients. instead, we listen to the minute details & work towards a beneficial partnership...To stay competitive, high performance businesses need to be able to adapt & embrace the ever advancing face of technology."

(Ms Anne Yap, CEO of the GMP Group, a staff recruitment, placement & outsourcing operator)

"Innovation needs a balance of freedom & creativity - thinking out the box - & discipline - that of the marketplace. The trick is to maintain a fine balance."

(Mr Liu Chunlin, MD of K & C Protective Technologies, a maker of protective devices for buildings & complexes)

"The capabilities of our the people in our team will determine how far we can grow. We must have the right ratio of top leaders & managers."

(Mr Jeffrey Heng, founder & CEO of Dextrans Worldwide, a provider of borderless integrated logistic solutions to small & medium sized MNCs who shift their operations to Asia)

"One of the reasons for our success is that we do not see our business in a binary way - right or wrong, profit or loss, long or short, high or low. We do not come down heavily on failures. All we try to do is learn the lesson...The ultimate goal is to make sense of the changes taking place & continuous adapt to sustain one's growth in an unforgiving business environment."

(Mr Pinaki Rath, MD of Gold Matrix Resources, a newcomer to the competitive world of base metals trading - a "big boy's game, an exclusive club where membership fees are at a premium & entrance costs are prohibitive".)

"As an entrepreneur, there is no short cut to success. You have to put in hard work & be positive. Be prepared to take calculated risks, & with dedication, persistence & determination, the results will fall in place."

(Mr Amit Sujan, President & CEO, ITcan, a software solutions & services company)

"If you're a company that is striving to succeed, don't try to follow so much or replicate the norm. Have an innovative idea & move away from what is usual... Being different has paid off for Wood Doctor."

(Mr Mohammad Zain Abdul Hamid, MD of Wood Doctor Far East, a supplier & installer of exotic hardwood floorings)

[to be continued in Part II]

RACK YOUR BRAINS

This is a simple brain teaser to rack your brain:

8, 5, 4, 9, 7, 6, 3, 2 0

What is the reason for the logical sequence of these numbers?

Here is a clue:

Think of alphabets.

PRAGMATIC INSIGHTS FROM THE EXPERTS

Joel Arthur Barker is a great teacher, & I have learned a lot of good stuff from him, especially from his published works, starting from his debut book, 'Discovering the Future: The Business of Paradigms' in the mid-eighties.

In fact, he was a promising teacher in the seventies before he became a highly acknowledged process futurist.

According to him:

In times of turbulence, the ability to anticipate dramatically enhances your chances of success. Good anticipation is the result of strategic exploration.

This profound statement was one of the principal drivers of my dedicated life-long pursuits in becoming a Knowledge Adventurer & Technology Explorer from the early nineties.

He had highlighted the five specific strategic exploration tools in his above book. Read the book to learn about the tools.

Here are some of his additional ideas & strategies to help one succeed in the knowledge economy:

1) Go beyond your own borders i.e. get out of your comfort zone;

2) Take some risks;

3) Break all the rules, especially the rules of past success, not wait until they're broken;

4) Develop new reading habits, & read widely - the best way to be a strategic explorer is to read, read, & read, mainstream as well as fringe stuff;

5) Suspend your judgement & check out your paradigms;

6) Be ready for failure; not avoid it - from failure springs the seeds of future success!;

7) Actively listen to others, rather than prepare your response to them; therefore, listen, listen & listen!

NOTES FROM MY SCRATCH PAD: MOTIVATION & COMMITMENT

First, the definitions:

motivate: to provide with an incentive;

commitment: the state of being bound emotionally &/or intellectually to an ideal or course of action;

Motivation is born from the recognition that a change must occur to satisfy a designated need or desire.

Motivation is an internal state of mind that functions as the catalyst for a change in behaviour, persistence of behaviour, actions & direction.

A commitment is a recognised need or desire for change bonded with an unstoppable desire to achieve the change that cannot be deterred.

Now, the equation:

Motivation = Expectation of Achievement x Capacity to Succeed x Value of Achievement

Each of the variables must be high; also, they must remain high to sustain motivation.

Here are some steps to create & sustain your motivation:

1) be discontent;

2) focus on & execute all your planned goals;

3) complete all your plans;

4) visualise your ultimate goals;

5) create a mutual support system e.g. spouse, family members, friends, colleagues, etc. ;

6) avoid destructive relationships e.g. choose your friends wisely;

7) learn from others, but mostly by yourself;

8) believe you can succeed;

9) learn to fail in order to succeed i.e. treat failures as learning experiences;

10) balance your interests with your ability;

11) persevere - & be persistent - in all your efforts;

In a nut shell:

Motivation is the vehicle of delivery;

Commitment is the engine of thrust;

Here are some factors that contribute to your increased &/or sustained commitment:

1) a high degree of personal responsibility;

2) a high degree of personal autonomy;

3) your work must be personally meaningful & satisfying;

4) a high quality of personal interactive relationships;

5) a fair personal assessment;

Some factors that will reduce your commitment:

1) ambiguous goals or plans - more precisely, poor focus;

2) stress or tension;

3) lack of others' support or understanding;

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"Empty your mind. Become formless & shapeless like water. When water is poured into a cup, it becomes the cup. When water is poured into a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Be water, my friend."

(Bruce Lee)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

MAKING DISTINCTIONS: NEED, WANT, SHOULD, JOY, PLEASURE

Need vs. Want:

A need is something required to be yourself, fully at your best. A want just provides gratification, usually temporary.

Both are terrific.

Needs are more important.

Wants vs. Shoulds:

A want is something you selfishly acquire because it makes you feel good.

Wants can be very healthy & motivating.

A should is something you believe you must do, or suffer consequences.

Shoulds generally slow your development.


Joy vs. Pleasure:

Joy is intellectual excitement, emotional involvement, & physical pleasure combined.

Pleasure is mostly physical.

[Source: The Portable Coach: 28 Sure Fire Strategies For Business & Personal Success, by Thomas Leonard]

DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU NEED?

Not everyone knows exactly what they need.

If you would like to explore what your personal needs are, Coach University has a simple methodology to help you assess your needs.

You can download the Needs Assessment in the form of .pdf document from their corporate website.

Coach University is a diverse group of professionals dedicated to helping people and businesses move from wanting to reach a goal to exceeding their own expectations.

Personally, I am very fascinated by some of the thought-provoking questions posed on their website, as they certainly serve as useful starting points for personal reflections about one's own life/work pursuits:

What am I wondering about that brought me here?

What’s over the next hill in my life?

How am I expressing wonder in my life?

What else is there?

What would happen if I did this?

How can I reach my goals?

How can I make my life better?

How can I develop clarity of purpose?

How can I meet the demands of today’s fluctuating marketplace?

How can I lead my team in times of change?

How do I as a leader, take the diverse talents of my staff and align them towards the same goal?


How can I personally inspire myself to excel?

How can I improve my interactions with my colleagues, clients, and staff?


How can I help colleagues, clients, and staff learn how to perform at a higher level with less effort?

How can I become more productive, creative, and innovative?

How can my professional lifestyle serve my life as a whole?”

A good introductory book to read in connection with understanding & handling all these questions is 'The Portable Coach: 28 Sure Fire Strategies For Business & Personal Success', by Thomas Leonard, whom I believed was the original founder of Coach University in the early nineties.

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

Knowing what I know now, would I get into this field of activity?

(Inspired by Brian Tracy's Zero-Based Thinking methodology - if the answer is yes, then I will continue to evaluate the situation & make the relevant changes; but, if the answer is no, then I will get out of the situation as fast as possible, i.e. go back to square one & start afresh.)

PRAGMATIC INSIGHTS FROM THE EXPERTS


"There is never enough time to do everything, but there is always time to do the most important thing."
This is the Law of Forced Efficiency, according to Brian Tracy, international speaker, author & consultant.

He elaborates that:

- The more things you have to do in a limited period of time, the more you'll be forced to work on your most important tasks;

- There will never be enough time to do everything that you have to do;

- Only by stretching yourself can you discover how much you are truly capable of;

- You perform at your highest potential only when you are focusing on the most valuable use of your time;

He asserts that the key question one should always ask is this:

"What is the most valuable use of my time, right now?"

He concludes that this is the question that dominates all time management, as well as the key to becoming a highly productive person.

He suggests this simple exercise to pause and reflect on the above question: [as well as other worthwhile questions, e.g. what are my highest pay-off activities? what exactly am I paid to do? what can I do that, if done well, can make a real difference in my life?]

Take a few minutes each day and sit quietly where you cannot be disturbed.

During this time, let your mind relax and just think about your work and activities, without stress or pressure.

In almost every case, during this time of solitude, you will receive wonderful insights and ideas that will save you enormous amounts of time when you apply them back on the job. Often you will experience breakthroughs that will change the direction of your life and work.

GREAT IDEAS ARE OFTEN CONCEIVED WHEN MINDS ARE GIVEN SPACE TO WANDER!

You probably have seen the following poster among many other posters in bus shelters along Orchard and Scotts Road.

'Without Sweden you would have problems with your nuts and bolts...

Swedish inventor Johan Petter Johansson patented the adjustable spanner in 1892. This is surely one of our most common and usable tools. It is implied from its name that this tool could be adjustable for nuts and bolts of different sizes.

He came up with the design after getting tired of having to carry lots of various sizes of wrenches in his workshop. Now he could handle all his nuts and bolts with one tool...

The adjustable spanner is still an export success of Sweden.'

The posters are part of the efforts of the Swedish Embassy to showcase the country's inventioneering talents in conjunction with the Singapore Design Festival.

According to Swedish Ambassador Par Ahlberger, the decision to go out to the streets was made because "people waiting for buses have time to read and reflect, and great ideas are often conceived when minds are given space to wander."

"Perhaps someone who sees these pictures will come up with a brilliant idea while they wait,"
he added.

The ambassador's emphatic words certainly struck a chord with me. This resonance pertains to the significance of idea friendly times.

Not only that, his resounding words also brought back many sweet memories of the beautiful country, and I had visited it as well as other parts of Scandinavia several times.

Towards the late eighties, I was a Senior Consultant with the Swedish Business Development Center (SBDC) based in Singapore. My job assignment encompassed introducing and bringing Scandinavian technology into Asean markets. One of my pet consulting projects was Eyescream, a real-time man-machine communication software.

The first time I went to Sweden, it was to attend a board meeting in the offices of Consultus AB, one of SBDC's partners, in the capital city of Stockholm. Their offices looked more like homes, especially with the relaxed cosy ambience.

The board meeting was conducted in a meeting room that resembled a dining/kitchen area. As the board meeting was convened, some members just stood up and walked briskly to get their beverages as well as croissants, plus an array of different breads with butter, jam and the whole works, all laid out nicely on an adjacent table. There were also fresh fruits in a basket.

I even remembered vividly one of the board members, Leif Edvinsson, specifically addressed me: "Say Keng, do you like to try some of these? Make yourself at home!"

Subsequently, I also visited the offices of Real Times Graphics AB, in Vasteras, to catch up with the brains (and the R & D team) behind Eyescream, Jan -Erik Lundstrom, whom I had met earlier in Singapore.

The first visit to Sweden was really an eye-opening experience, sort of a culture shock, for me.

At that time, I more or less knew why Sweden was so strong in technological innovations.

I had read that Sweden spent more than 5% of its GDP on research and development annually.

A rare feat for a country indeed!

BRUCE LEE'S US$10 MILLION DOLLAR SECRET

The following personal anecdote actually came from Gary Ryan Blair, The Goals Guy, in one of his earlier newsletters, of which I am a subscriber.

At Planet Hollywood in New York City, there is a letter hanging on the wall that martial artist and actor Bruce Lee wrote to himself.

The top of the letter, which Lee WROTE and dated January 9, 1970, has stamped on it "SECRET."

It starts out, "By 1980 I will be the best known oriental movie star in the United States and will have secured $10 million dollars."

According to Gary, the most interesting part of this letter, however, was the second part -the part, often omitted when we sit down with ourselves to set goals.

Lee goes on to write, "And in return I will give the very best acting I could possibly give every single time I am in front of the camera and I will live in peace and harmony."

How fascinating that Bruce Lee wrote he would have peace and harmony after he said what he would do to obtain his goal.

Gary asserts that there are two kinds of goals: product & process.

- A product goal is what you are going to achieve.

- A process goal is what we will do to get it, which means developing a "prescription for success."

Gary concludes that this is the plan that winners will follow very closely in their daily work habits & periodically evaluate themselves on.

I certainly concur with him.

[For more information, visit Gary Ryan Blair's corporate website.]

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"Always do what is right. It will gratify most of the people, & astound the rest."

(Mark Twain)