Saturday, November 15, 2008

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

What is at stake in the quality of my reading?

If I am reading for more than just information, then it is just the life of my mind.

If I ask a challenging question from a book I am reading, it answers me only to the extent that I am prepared to do the work of thinking & analysis myself.

The art of reading, in short, includes the last 3 of the four level of skills as propounded by Mortimer Adler in his classic, 'How to Read a Book', namely:

- inspectional: systematic skimming;
- analytical: reading for understanding, with first, getting through the book, & secondly, talking about it;
- syntopical: analytical reading of multiple books in the same genre, & synthesising ideas from several sources;

as well as all of the same skills that are involved in the art of unaided discovery:

- keenness of observation;
- agile working memory;
- power of imagination, &
- analytical & reflective intellect;

It is very clear that skilled reading is our only defence against a pre-packaged opinion.

~ inspired by the article, entitled 'Back to Basics: A Summer Crash Course for Readers', in Spring 2007 issue of 'The College' Newsletter of St John's College;

PRAGMATIC INSIGHTS FROM THE EXPERTS

"I honestly believe that in the field of advertising there are a million creative geniuses. Unfortunately, only a handful of them are real. What in the world do I mean? I say that because far too many creative talents are pitching ideas that are skinned off of current trends or peeled from forecasts made by "experts" that appear in creativity publications. These ideas are labeled "original", "innovative" or even "ground-breaking." In reality, these ideas have been spawned from a decidedly shaky foundation, a foundation that lacks one - perhaps THE - very fundamental facet of advertising. What they lack is individualism."

~ from a post by Daniel Robinette, President of Griffin Creative, under 'Genuine Creativity' in the 'IHAVEANIDEA' Advertising's Intellectual Media;

I think this relevant issue is not just confined to the advertising world. It applies elsewhere as well.

RAPID RECAP: THE SECRET TO BRAIN YOUTHFULNESS

This is according to Dr Marian Diamond, 80+, professor of anatomy at the University of California Berkeley:

1) Eat well;

2) Exercise regularly;

3) Think new;

4) Maintain a strong immune system;

5) Love others tenderly;

CAN YOU SEE THE TRAIN?

I have stumbled upon an interesting news report, with the fascinating picture as shown in this post.

Here's the link to the report.

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"No amount of sophistication is going to allay the fact that all your knowledge is about the past & all your decisions are about the future."
~ Dr Ian E Wilson, first Librarian & Archivist of Canada, with a distinguished career in archival & information management, university teaching & government service;

Friday, November 14, 2008

SHIRT POCKET BRIEFCASE FROM LEVENGER

I currently own one of the wonderful pocket-briefcases/leather-notepads from Levenger. Please refer to the photos appended herewith.

This simple palm-sized notepad, beautifully designed in the form of 3 x 5 card holder, is actually a handy tool for capturing good notes on the run, at presentations & over lunch.

As a seemingly low-tech device, it can dispense fresh cards & keep completed ones separate.

Nonetheless, what I like about it is that, it provides a smooth, strong leather writing surface for 3 x 5 cards on one side, with 2 pockets for 3 x 5 cards on the flipside, to keep fresh cards separate from completed ones.

It even has a center compartment for receipts, if any.

My version has a small cylindrical leather holder to hold a small pen (mine is a slim, collapsible Zebra ball-point, purchased separately from a local stationary store) on the side.

I have been using my pocket briefcase for more than a decade.

RECOMMENDED READINGS: THE VALUE OF THINKTIME

Further to my earlier post on 'The Value of ThinkTime', I happen to think of adding two more interesting books, which I had read just a few years ago, for readers to explore further, as follows:

1) 'Executive Think Time: Thinking That Get Results', by Ellen Fredericks & Val Williams;

2) 'FutureThink: How to Think Clearly in a Time of Change', by Edie Weiner & Arnold Brown;

THE VALUE OF THINKTIME

As I have mentioned before in one or more of my earlier posts, I love to surf the net. In fact, it's my favourite past time after my morning gym practice, in addition to reading & blogging.

One thing for sure: I never know what I will bump into on the net. It's really cyberspace!

Also, frankly, I enjoy the marvel of the serendipity phenomenon.

Oftentimes, I come across something that piques my interest. It may be something new or weird or something that refreshes or reinforces what I already know, or better still, something that contradicts or challenges what I hold so strongly in my mind. That often sets me thinking, or spurs me to do something.

Naturally, I always take note of most of the "accidental" stuff in my scratchpad.

Sometimes, that something I bump into leads me to find something else on the net. I will as usual jot it down & think about it further, especially when it's intriguing.

For example, I found the following snippet & recorded it in my scratchpad a couple of weeks ago:

"The average executive has only 3 hrs/month to focus on the strategy of his business. This leaves no time for real reflection, analysis or contemplation of 'what could be'."

[Source: A preview of Michael Mankins' article entitled 'Stop Wasting Valuable Time', in the Harvard Business Review, September 2004; based on a time study of senior executive time usage in 147 companies;]

Since it's only accessible to a paid subscription, I have managed to find something else relating to it's findings about thinktime on the net as follows:

1) Deal with operations separately for strategy;

2) Focus on decisions, not on discussions;

3) Measure the real value of very item on the agenda;

4) Get issues off the agenda as quickly as possible;

5) Put real choices on the table;

6) Adopt common decision making processes & standards;

7) Make decisions stick;

I trust readers can make sense of them.

Actually, I can relate readily to the foregoing thinktime statistic, since I had spent almost a quarter of a century in the corporate world before.

During my heydays as a corporate rat, fire-fighting was always the call of the day, most of the time. Filing long reports was standard office routine.

Regular executive meetings were often protracted & unproductive, as bosses were more interested in old stories of what had happened, rather than exploring new scenarios of what we could do.

Nonetheless, that something I have mentioned above somehow keeps bugging - or should I say nudging - me in a way for quite some time. I don't know why.

While running through the online catalog of Amazon for any latest strategic thinking books this morning, a book by Stuart Wells entitled 'Choosing the Future: The Power of Strategic Thinking', which I had read more than ten years ago, pops up.

I can remember that I had learned a lot of good stuff from this book.

In a nut shell, it's a wonderful book about the value of thinktime. Thinktime gives us the opportunity to use our knowledge & experiences to discover our own ideas, & more importantly, our strategic direction.

For what I had learned, I realise that we just have to be concerned with three fundamental questions, as far as thinktime is concerned:

1) What seems to be happening? (PERCEPTION)

2) What possibilities do I face? (UNDERSTANDING)

3) What am I going to do about them? (REASONING)

Here are some of my synthesised ideas on how to go about the above questions, essentially based on the author's superb 'Strategic Thinking Cycle':

i) beware of self-imposed limits in your perception - I had already written a lot about developing one's power of observation & enhancing one's perceptual sensitivity - check them out;

ii) understand what's happening around you, especially the known as well as unknown forces at work;

iii) using the journalist's questions is a good start, & don't forget to ask a lot of questions to get to the bottom of things;

iv) also, understand what's not yet happening; who's not yet involved . . . as they will make you think further

v) scan & visualise the horizon from various viewpoints, e.g. bottom-line, people-oriented, etc.;

vi) detect patterns in your observations;

vii) explore possibilities;

viii) form or paint scenarios of what you intend to do;

ix) draw upon your critical success factors (CSF);

x) match your competencies, capabilities & resources with what you intend to do;

xi) weigh the pros & cons, & more importantly, what's interesting & exciting in your analysis;

xii) choose a core strategy & play your best hand, while maintaining balance in your strategic initiatives against what's out there;

xiii) set realistic objectives & take concerted action to make your core strategy work;

xiv) stay in focus on your core strategy, but maintain flexibility in your approach;

AhA! Now I know. The bugging or nudging is to remind me to write the foregoing post for readers.

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"The only thing that makes a man able to get along in this world is his brain. A man doesn't have the claws of a bear, nor the strength of a bull. He doesn't have the nose of a wolf, nor the wings of a hawk, but he has a brain. You're going to get along in this world as long as you use it."
~ Louis L'Amour, 1908-1988, American author of primarily western fiction ("frontier stories"), writing in his 'Down the Long Hills' (1968);

Thursday, November 13, 2008

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

What powerful questions can I ask myself today to change my life for the better?

RAPID RECAP: BUSINESS SUCCESS FACTORS

In their book, 'The 12 Factors of Business Success: Discover, Develop and Leverage Your Strengths', the three authors with a combined experience of 50+ years, Kevin Hogan, Dave Lakhani & Mollie Marti, have jointly identified the same set of skills & attitudes that drive today's best business performers, as follows:

1) Self-Discipline, with the ability to reject instant gratification for something better;

2) The Game Plan, not just a Business Plan - looking good, but going nowhere;

3) Directed Action, especially with incisive actions;

4) Decision Making, especially making good decisions quickly;

5) Passion;

6) Confidence;

7) Mastering Criticism;

8) Self-Control i.e. taking 100% responsibility for doing everything to generate a productive outcome;

9) Resilience, includes fueling yourself physically, mentally, emotionally & spiritually, so that you have the capacity to keep going after setbacks or other crises;

10) Wealth Building, includes financial freedom, so that you can live & enjoy on what you have today for the rest of your life if you chose to;

11) Significant Support Structures to be put in place;

12) Success Mind, with the 'Just Do It' attitude;

[Please read my earlier post, with regard to 'Personal Success Factors'.]

RAPID RECAP: PERSONAL SUCCESS FACTORS

In the book, '50 Success Classics: Winning Wisdom for Life & Work from 50 Landmark Books', author Tom Butler-Bowdon has listed the following critical factors which he has considered elemental to the attainment of personal success:

1) Tough-minded, Reality-based Optimism, with the power of belief;

2) Definite Aim, Purpose or Vision;

3) Willingness to Labour;

4) Discipline;

5) An Integrated Mind, with a good working relationship between our conscious & not-so-conscious minds;

6) Prolific Reading, with curiosity & the capacity to learn - Anthony Robbins was right when he remarked that "success leaves clues," & reading is one of the best means of absorbing such clues;

7) Risk Taking, with a bias for action;

8) The Power of Expectation;

9) Mastery;

10) Well-roundedness, with the capacities to love, listen, & learn;

[Please read my review of this book in an earlier post.]

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"Intelligence is no guarantee against being stupid."

~ Victor Serebriakoff, 1912-2000, co-founder of American MENSA;

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

WHAT LOVE MEANS TO KIDS

I have stumbled upon a wonderful weblog, 'Blog About Everything'.

You can read its latest post about love, as envisioned by kids. I love it.

For me, the post certainly brings back some good memories of the popular 'Kids Say the Darndest Things' television show co-hosted by Art Linkletter during the late nineties or so.

By the way, the weblog has also a lot of fun pictures. Take your time to browse them, as they will make you smile!

SUCCESS DEFINED

"Success is not about driving yourself harder; it's about letting go of what blocks your heart . . .

If your definition of success has little or no measure of love in it, get another definition . . .

The real joy of success is knowing that your success not only benefits you, but also those around you. Your success is your gift to the world."

~ from the book, 'Success Intelligence: Essential Lessons & Practices from the World's Leading Coaching Program on Authentic Success', by success coach Robert Holden;

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"It's a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it."

~ W Somerset Maugham, 1874 – 1965, British novelist & playwright;

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

7 STRATEGIES FOR POSITIVE AGING

Here are some expert strategies for making the most of one's later years beyond the sixth decade, well into the eighth or maybe even the ninth decade.

Maturation is obviously the completion of life, as aging, & even decline, are inevitable.

1) You can find meaning in old age;

2) You're never to too old to learn;

3) You can use the past to cultivate wisdom;

4) You can strengthen lifespan relationships;

5) By giving & receiving help you promote growth;

6) You can forgive yourself & others;

7) You can possess a grateful attitude;

[Source: '7 Strategies for Positive Aging: Strategies to Promote Well-Being in Old Age', by Robert Hill]

BOOK REVIEW: 'ANALYSIS WITHOUT PARALYSIS', by Babette Bensoussan & Craig Fleisher

I reckon, to complete the strategy repertoire of a 21st century manager in today's competitive marketspace, & to serve as quick handy references to a broad spectrum of tools, strategies & tips, there are only two books that really stand out in the field of business (BI)/competitive (CI)/strategic intelligence (SI).

They are actually compendiums, as follows:

1) 'Strategic and Competitive Analysis: Methods & Techniques for Analyzing Business Competition' (published in 2002), by Craig Fleisher & Babette Bensoussan;

I recap its content tapestry as follows:

PART 1. ANALYSIS AND ITS RELATIONSHIP TO COMPETITIVE INTELLIGENCE AND STRATEGY:

1. The Strategy & CI Process.
2. Analysis & Its Pitfalls.
3. The FAROUT System.

PART 2. THE TECHNIQUES OF STRATEGY & COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS:

Section 1. Strategic Analytical Techniques:

4. BCG Growth/Share Portfolio Matrix.
5. GE Business Screen Matrix.
6. Industry Analysis.
7. Strategic Group Analysis.
8. SWOT Analysis.
9. Value Chain Analysis.

Section 2. Competitive and Customer Analysis Techniques:

10. Blindspot Analysis.
11. Competitor Analysis.
12. Customer Segmentation Analysis.
13. Customer Value Analysis.
14. Functional Capability & Resource Analysis.
15. Management Profiling.

Section 3. Environmental Analysis Techniques:

16. Issue Analysis.
17. Macro-environmental (STEEP) Analysis.
18. Scenario Analysis.
19. Stakeholder Analysis.

Section 4. Evolutionary Analysis Techniques:

20. Experience Curve Analysis.
21. Growth Vector Analysis.
22. Patent Analysis.
23. Product Life Cycle Analysis.
24. S-Curve (Technology Life Cycle) Analysis.

Section 5. Financial Analysis Techniques:

25. Financial Ratio & Statement Analysis.
26. Strategic Funds Programming.
27. Sustainable Growth Rate Analysis.


2) 'Business & Competitive Analysis: Effective Application of New & Classic Methods' (published in 2007), by Craig Fleisher & Babette Bensoussan;


I recap its content tapestry as follows:

1. Business and Competitive Analysis: Definition, Context, & Benefits

2. Performing the Analysis Process

3. Avoiding Analysis Pitfalls

4. Communicating Analysis Results

5. Applying the FAROUT method

6. Industry Analysis (The Nine Forces)

7. Competitive Positioning Analysis

8. Business Model Analysis

9. SERVO Analysis

10. Supply Chain Management (SCM) Analysis

11. Benchmarking Analysis

12. McKinsey 7S Analysis

13. Shadowing

14. Product Line Analysis

15. Win/Loss Analysis

16. Strategic Relationship Analysis

17. Corporate Reputation Analysis

18. Critical Success Factors Analysis

19. Country Risk Analysis

20. Driving Forces Analysis

21. Event and Timeline Analysis

22. Technology Forecasting

23. War Gaming

24. Indications & Warning Analysis

25. Historiographical Analysis

26. Interpretation of Statistical Analysis

27. Competitor Cash Flow Analysis

28. Analysis of Competing Hypothesis

29. Linchpin Analysis

Combined, both compendiums discussed, compared, analysed & evaluated, with a seemingly strong bias towards application, almost 50 classic & popular contemporary tools & strategies in the BI/CI/SI field.

The two authors have apparently selected them out of 300 using their own prioritisation scheme to evaluate. [More information about the prioritisation can be found on the authors' weblog on Amazon.]

For each tool, the authors, backed with their own impeccable credentials in the BI/CI/SI arena, have presented clear descriptions, step-by-step instructions, & case study examples. For me, I have been quite impressed by their systematic & rigorous treatment.

Frankly, the first time I had encountered the authors' debut book (1), my managerial mind was blown as I have had real-world experiences with only a limited number of the tools & strategies, namely SWOT, STEEP/PEST Analyses, & GE's Nine Block Matrix (an adaptation of BCG's), plus strategic issues management.


Recently, I have acquired & read the authors' latest book (3), 'Analysis Without Paralysis: 10 Tools to Make Better Strategic Decisions', published in 2008.

I knew prior to my requisition that this book didn't offer new or fresh perspectives, but I had wanted to keep it as a memento, since I had really enjoyed the authors' earlier work.

For reader's benefit, I recap its content tapestry as follows:

Part I Introduction 1:

Chapter 1 Business Management & the Role of Analysis
Chapter 2 The Analysis Process

Part II Analysis Tools:

Chapter 3 BCG Growth/Share Portfolio Matrix
Chapter 4 Competitor Analysis
Chapter 5 Financial Ratio & Statement Analysis
Chapter 6 Five Forces Industry Analysis
Chapter 7 Issue Analysis
Chapter 8 Political Risk Analysis
Chapter 9 Scenario Analysis
Chapter 10 Macro-environmental (STEEP/PEST) Analysis
Chapter 11 SWOT Analysis
Chapter 12 Value Chain Analysis


All I can say about this book (3) is that it's only a cannibalised version of the author's earlier work, with only 10 selected tools & strategies.

If you have acquired the author's earlier masterpieces, then this book (3) is likely to be a redundant copy, unless of course if you are, just like me, want to have it as a memento.

If you want to access the authors' complete thoughtwares in the field of BI/CI/SI, I suggest getting the authors' two earlier books (1 & 2) as mentioned above. They may be pricey, but they are definitely worth the limited shelf space on your managerial bookshelf.

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"Life is the art of drawing without an eraser."

~ John Gardner, 1912-2002; former President of Carnegie Corporation; also former US Secretary for Health, Education & Welfare under President Johnson, as well as author of numerous books on improving leadership in American society;

Monday, November 10, 2008

RECOMMENDED READINGS: REJUVENATING YOUR BRAINS

Further to my two earlier posts, 'Rejuvenating Your Brains is No Big Deal, Actually!', with Part I & Part II, I like to take the opportunity to append below my recommended readings:

1) Mortimer ADLER: 'How to Read a Book';

2) Karl ALBRECHT: 'Brain Power: Learning to Improve Your Thinking Skills';

3) William ANTHONY: 'The Art of Napping';

4) J Graham BEAUMONT: 'Brain Power';

5) Harold BLOCK: 'Seeing Double';

6) Edward de BONO: 'Serious Creativity';

7) Rachel CARSON: 'The Sense of Wonder';

8) Jim CANTERUCCI: 'Personal Brilliance: Mastering the Everyday Habits that Create a Lifetime of Success';

9) Michael CHAFETZ: 'Smart for Life: How to Improve Your Brain Power';

10) Doc Lew CHILDRE: 'Freeze Frame: One Minutes Stress Management';

11) Ann McGee COOPER: 'You Don't Have to Go Home Exhausted';

12) Paul & Gayle DENNISON: 'Brain Gym';

13) Harvey & Marilyn DIAMOND: 'Fit for Life';

14) Reader's DIGEST: 'ABC's of the Human Mind';

15) Carla HANNAFORD: 'Smart Moves: Why Learning Is Not All in Your Head';

16) Lawrence KATZ: 'Keep Your Brain Alive: 83 Neurobic Exercises';

17) Dharma Singh KHALSA: 'Brain Longevity: The Breakthrough Medical Program that Improves Your Mind and Memory';

18) Ellen LANGER: 'The Power of Mindful Learning';

19) Dorothy LEEDS: '7 Powers of Questions';

20) Herbert LEFF: 'Playful Perceptions: Choosing How to Experience Your World';

21) Joel & Michelle LEVEY: 'Living in Balance: A Dynamic Approach for Creating Harmony & Wholeness in a Chaotic World';

22) Joel & Michelle LEVEY: 'The Fine Arts of Relaxation, Concentration & Meditation';

23) Mark LEVY: 'Accidental Genius: Revolutionising Your Thinking Through Private Writing';

24) Jim LOEHR: 'The Power of Full Engagement';

25) Jack MAGUIRE: 'Care & Feeding of the Brain: A Guide to Your Gray Matter';

26) James MAAS: 'Power Sleep: The Revolutionary Program That Prepare Your Mind for Peak Performance';

27) Paul NUSSBAUM: 'Your Brain Health Lifestyle';

28) Roger von OECH: 'Creative Whack Pack';

29) Susan RoANE: 'How to Work a Room: The Ultimate Guide to Savvy Socialising in Person & Online';

30) Kerry RUEF: 'The Private Eye: A Guide to Developing the Interdisciplinary Mind';

31) Jai SANDRA: 'Salons: The Joy of Conversation';

32) Veronique VIENNE: 'The Art of Doing Nothing: Simple Ways to Make Time for Yourself';

33) Tom WUJEC: 'Five Star Mind: Games & Puzzles to Stimulate Your Creativity & Imagination';

34) Tom WUJEC: 'Pumping Ions';

35) J Richard Yuker & Harold BLOCK: 'Can You Believe Your Eyes?';

36) Andrew WEIL: '8 Weeks to Optimum Health';

37) Arthur & Ruth WINTER: 'Brain Workout';

38) Arthur & Ruth WINTER: 'Eat Right, Be Bright';

39) Magic Eye Collection (from Andrew McMeel Publishing);

40) Juggling for the Complete Klutz (from Klutz);

[The foregoing books & resources are my personal favourites.]

REJUVENATING YOUR BRAINS IS NO BIG DEAL, ACTUALLY (PART II)

[continue from PART I]

11) FLEXIBILITY:

When I talk about flexibility, I am referring to nimbleness & agility of the mind, especially in its adaptability to entertain ambiguous & uncertain information.

That is to say, embrace gray areas, not just black & white.

Creativity guru Roger von Oech describes best the flexibility of the mind in analogical terms of the racing car driver - shifting gears all the time, in & out to negotiate the competitive circuit under very intense conditions.

Sometimes, we need to hold two opposing or contradictory viewpoints in our heads, just to stay sane in a fast-paced, rapidly-changing world. I reckon it gives the mind the best of both worlds. It's not easy, but it's worth trying.

Sometimes, we need also to entertain weird ideas.

For example, when Catherine first suggested going to the Sahara Desert in North Africa for our holidays during the late eighties, I was somewhat concerned. After visiting it, I fell in love with the desert, & the next trip was the Gobi Desert along the ancient Silk Road in northern China during the late nineties.

With a flexible agile mind, there is nothing that we cannot conceive or conceptualise. For me, such a mind is always anticipatory in nature, which makes our thinking worthwhile, because we can explore scenarios into the future.

I reckon flexibility makes the mind more receptive to novel & radical ideas.

12) WRITING:

I find that writing things done on paper helps to crystallise one's thoughts, on top of reinforcing memory retention. It is like seeing your own thinking. Creativity guru Mike Vance calls it "displayed thinking", even though he has other ideas.

I also find that writing notes in the margins or making annotations while you are reading helps to hold your attention, as well as gives you an opportunity to probe or question the author, so to speak.

Writing journals is another good habit.

Personally, I don't do journaling in the real sense of the word, but I do write a lot of personal notes in my scratchpads. Additionally, I always carry a pocket notebook wherever I go.

I often use all the jotted notes as springboards for new ideas.

My gym buddy believes in writing long email exchanges with overseas relatives & friends.

According to him, the regular endeavour engenders the mutually exchange of ideas about life pursuits, on top of keeping in close touch with each other.

To enhance writing, start a weblog. I have started mine about 1-1/2 years ago, more as a daily disciplined routine, in addition to writing book reviews.

For me, blogging helps to keep my mind intellectually alive.

13) TINKERING OR EXPERIMENTING:

Partly because of my engineering training, I love to tinker with all kinds of spurious ideas.

I find that involving my hands in the tinkering i.e. playing with objects or manipulatives, challenging & invigorating. I believe that there is such a thing as kinesthetic memory.

I often use Googolplex, K'nex or Zometools, as well as a broad variety of art & craft construction materials, to build simple experiments to test ideas.

On a larger or elaborate scale, it's called prototyping, which necessitates more contemplation & planning.

It is pertinent for me to point out that experimenting doesn't have to be physical. Visualise it through your head, just like what Albert Einstein or Nikola Tesla had done with their so-called "thought experiments".

For the fun of it, play & explore with image streaming from Win Wenger for a change.

14) TEACHING:

To enhance your own learning, one great way is to create an opportunity to teach & share with others what you have learned.

Teaching enhances your own learning as well as thinking too, since you are likely to get feedback & responses from others immediately.

For me, I enjoy teaching very much. I often find the experience of teaching to be a great memory jogger, because I have to think on my feet all the time, while answering a torrent of provoking questions from my participants. That's really good for the brain!

Naturally, there were some times that I had just wished that I wasn't there in the firing line!

Also, teaching or presentation takes a lot of planning & preparation. Remember, I have once mentioned about "substance, sequencing & showmanship" as cornerstones of a good presentation. That requires a lot of thinking ahead - & mental rehearsal to make it perfect, too.

15) SOCIALISING:

Mix around with your buddies from time to time. Just talk cock, so to speak.

Besides my social buddies from 'The Wednesday Club', I often meet up with my gym buddy as well as my Polytechnic classmates to touch base.

Over the years, I have also made a lot of new buddies on the Internet. A few of them often pop into Singapore to visit me or I reciprocate likewise.

From time to time, I have "pow-wows" with my business associates over a simple meal.

Also, over the years, many of my clients as well as my workshop participants have become great friends of mine. We often bump into each other, & besides jogging our senior moments, so to speak, it is always great to just pause & chit chat with each other.

With the power of the Internet, social networking is now a totally different ball game.

16) RELAXATION:

It is important to find time to relax, or having quiet moments to yourself, especially when you are still in the rat race.

Taking a vacation to faraway places or spending time off from work e.g. on a sabbatical, are some refreshingpossibilities.

Over the years, I have generally found meditative routines or simple relaxation sequences, e.g. diaphragmatic breathing, & then going through the rainbow colours with eyes closed, very energising in keeping my mind engaged in a resourceful state for long stretches of time.

Such a mind state facilitates focus & concentration, especially during reading as well as writing pursuits.

According to Dr Ellen Weber of Brain-Based Business, when we are relaxed, we get more of the fountain-of-youth hormones known as serotonin in our system, in contrast to the damaging hormones known as cortisol when we are under distress.

Listening to soothing background music, like the Classical or Baroque or New Age, is often my preferred choices.

Experiment with some light & sound machines, sometimes called brain synthesisers. They can often enhance the relaxation process through strobe lights & white noise. That's why the practice is sometimes called "high-tech meditation".

I understand OSIM has apparently come out with a similar headgear outfit to help you de-stress.

Interestingly, Japan's inventor extraordinaire, Dr Nakamats, has his own Cerebrex machine to help him relax. He also claims it can ramp up his creativity.

Colourful posters with those fancy random dot stereograms are great too, at least for me.

17) REST & SLEEP:

The body needs adequate rest & sleep to allow it to handle the normal wear & tear of the day.

Personally, I reckon at least 6 to 8 hours of sound sleep daily is necessary for "recharging our batteries" in our mind & body.

I always believe that rest & sleep are the body's natural ways to undergo self-diagnostics.

Although I don't do power naps, I believe they are reportedly proven effective. Sir Winston Churchill & Thomas Edison are some of the well-known power nappers in history.

18) EXERCISE:

Besides exercise of the mind, we also need to have physical exercise of the body.

Health experts recommend at least 30 minutes of physical exercise daily, for 5 times a week. So join a fitness gym.

Even walking is a good exercise. Remember, our bodies are designed to move, not sit all day long! I have in fact written a lot of earlier posts on this topic.

According to Dr Nakamats, jogging on the road is bad for the brain! So take note!

Learn to do some simple Brain Gym or juggling exercises. They can revv up your brains prior to reading &/or writing.

19) NUTRITION:

For me, a moderate diet is important. I follow the 'Fit for Life' philosophy.

Health experts always suggest that we should eat a lot of steamed fish & fresh vegetables, plus lean meat. They are probably right healthy & bright.

Stay away as much as possible from BBQ, processed, refined & fast food.

Don't forget to reduce your salt intake. Don't forget to cut down smoking & alcohol consumption.

Vitamin supplements are also good for the mind & body.

Don't forget to drink your water. According to neurobiologist Carla Hanaford, who wrote 'Smart Moves', water helps to enhance cellular polarity in the brain, so brain cells fire better, besides other added benefits.

Here's a powerful advice from MM Lee Kuan Yew: just eat until you are about 80% full each time.

Last, but not least, don't hesitate to get some dosage of sunshine &/or sea breeze! They are nutrition for the mind & body, too!

20) WATCHING TELEVISION:

I have deliberately put this activity as my last suggestion.

Watching television is part of home as well as mind entertainment, but it's considered the most passive activity. Frankly, it doesn't have to be that way.

Like me, I always take the opportunity to ponder about what I can draw lessons from the news or movies or documentaries I am watching or have watched.

Maybe I have already attuned my brain. Whatever I am watching or have watched always starts me thinking about a utility response.

I find that processing the news in my own way helps to hone my insight building. Please refer to my earlier posts.

For me, movies often offer excellent lessons in life skills. They all depend on how you look at them & what you want to extract for learning.

You can also draw many ideas from your favourite documentaries.

To end the two posts, I trust the foregoing ideas & suggestions have been useful in helping you to explore several ways to rejuvenate your brains.

YOU CAN CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY

Once again, I have stumbled upon a real gem on the net today.

Readers can proceed to this link to down a free copy of Dr Tom Stevens' over-300-page book, entitled 'You Can Choose to Be Happy: Rise Above Anxiety, Anger, & Depression'.

The book is actually a self-development program to help you get positive control of your emotions, your relationships, & your life. It is packed with useful self-assessments & checklists.

I certainly like his systematic decision making model as illustrated on his corporate website, which is also a goldmine of solid information.

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"Learning is acquired by reading books, but the much more necessary learning, the knowledge of the world, is only acquired by reading men & studying all the various editions of them."

~ Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, 1694-1773; British statesman & man of letters, writing in his 'Letters to His Son', published in 1774-1775;

Sunday, November 9, 2008

TAKE THE TIME . . .

The following actually came from a chain email via an old buddy in the form of a PowerPoint presentation.

I believe that it has probably been recirculated over the net.

Nonetheless, I have taken the liberty of extracting the text, which I thought is useful for contemplation & implementation in today's 24/7 world, where we really need some breathing space, so to speak:

Take the time to love . . . it's the secret of eternal life;

Take the time to laugh . . . it's the music of the heart;

Take the time to cry . . . it's the sign of a large heart;

Take the time to read . . . it's the source of knowledge;

Take the time to hear . . . it's the power of intelligence;

Take the time to think . . . it's the key to success;

Take the time to play . . . it's the freshness of childhood;

Take the time to dream . . . it's the breath of happiness;

Take the time to live because time passes quickly & never returns!

THE LIFE SKILLS IQ

This is another interesting "stumble upon" for me on the net.

It's 'The Life Skills IQ Test: 10 Self-Quizzes to Measure Your Practical Intelligence', by Dr John Liptak, reportedly an internationally recognized author of numerous books, articles, & journals on quantitative & qualitative assessments assessment for teachers & counselors. He currently serves as the Associate Director of Career Counseling & Assessment at Radford University.

The following is what got me interested initially:

"Why do some people earn straight As but fail in the real world? To understand what makes some people survive & thrive both personally & professionally while others fail, it's necessary to go beyond standard definitions of intelligence . . ."

He is obviously talking about "street-smart intelligence", & has identified the following practical survival skills that make for real-world success:

1) Interpersonal Interaction;

2) Communication Skills;

3) Assertive Behaviour;

4) Decision Making;

5) Leisure Time;

6) Money Management;

7) Time Management;

8) Relationship Quality;

9) Conflict Resolution;

10) Emotional Triggers;

#5 certainly piques me, as I never expect it to be considered as an important life skill; #6 & #10 are definitely timely.

The book is now in my shopping basket with Amazon, & I am looking forward to reading it.

STREET SMARTS FOR SUCCESS

I just love to browse the Amazon online catalog from time to time. I also always believe in serendipity, because I don't know what I will bump into.

Oftentimes, I inadvertently stumble upon great reading stuff.

Sometimes, one thing leads to another thing.

Naturally, it takes diligence, patience & more importantly, a keen nose like brilliant San Francisco detective Adrian Monk (played by Tony Shalhoub) on television.

That's what I like about browsing on the net. The fun is in the chase, but the rewards, at least for me, are immeasurable.

So, yesterday I found Steve Patterson's 'Street Smarts for Success: Step by Step Guide'.

After going through the brief synopsis, I thought it didn't warrant me to acquire it for reading, although he certainly brought up some interesting points about what to pay attention to, when developing a "street smarts" success pathway.

He has listed 9 areas:

1) Vision: Why You Must Have One & The First Step Towards Your Success;
2) Mission: What is Your True Purpose;
3) Strategy & Strategic Thinking: The Big Picture of How;
4) Tactics: The Nitty Gritty Details of How;
5) Economics & Finance: How to Make the Best Choices;
6) Communication: The Key to Launching Your Career to a New Level;
7) Public Speaking: Soar Above the Crowd;
8) Selling: Sell Yourself, Your Ideas, Your Products & Services;
9) Becoming a Leader: Pulling All of Them Together;

I believe readers can easily figure out what they stand for.

SWEET MEMORY OF THE REPORT CARD

Yesterday, while visiting Ngee Ann City on Orchard Road with my wife, I stumbled upon something that piqued my immediate personal attention, while browsing through a stationary store inside Takashimaya Department Store.

It was almost an A5 sized card, printed with the caption 'Report Card', accompanied by a brown envelope.

Pictoriallly, it looked exactly like the report card during my school days. Hence, my memory went back to the fifities & sixties.

I remember in those days, whenever I got a red coloured F in the card, I got whacked by my parents.

No wonder, a motivational trainer friend of mine calls the report card, "the poison letter from the teacher".

To my amazement, the card, actually designed for grown-ups & now in my hands, is not about "school smart" stuff.

It's all about "street smart" stuff. I reckon the proper terminology is "life skills".

Here is the list of the major "subjects":

- Experience Absorption;
- Learning of Lessons;
- Repeat Mistake Bypass;
- Empathy Growth;
- Rolling with Punches;
- Decision Making;
- Responsibility Owning;
- Willingness's to Change;
- Goal Examination;
- Self-Awareness;

Interestingly, there is also a list of "electives":

- Life Organisation;
- Close Friend Selection;
- Discernment;
- Skin Thickening;
- Wisdom Cultivation;
- Story Accumulation;
- Grace Under Pressure;
- Mortality Acceptance;
- Cynicism Avoidance;
- Optimism Maintenance;

Naturally, the card also has the usual grading criteria, key to comments, like "Shows Initiative", "Careless", "Lacks Focus", etc.

I love the card & that's why I bought it. It costed me S$5.90 for it.

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

How do I know whether I am enjoying a life bursting with power, passion & purpose?

A NUMBER OF WAYS TO WIN AN ARGUMENT

I have stumbled upon the following interesting but belated post from Nick Ketter, about a broad variety of ways to blast your opponents - or even become one in defence, just in case - in the course of an argument.

I understand it has its origins from one of the most important 19th century philosophers, Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860).

Here's the link.

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"Common sense is instinct, & enough of it is genius."

~ John Billings (pseudonym for Henry Wheeler Shaw), 1818-1885, American journaist, writer & humourist, especially for dispensing wit & folksy common-sense wisdom;