Saturday, February 28, 2009

THE TOP TEN BUSINESS TRENDS FOR THE NEW FUTURE

Having really enjoyed reading global strategist/futuristJames Canton's book, 'The Extreme Future', I am naturally attracted to follow what he writes further.

Here's what I have found recently:

'The Ten Top Business Trends for the New Future'

1) Business and technology have fused into one system, one conversation, and one strategy, for one world. This is central to understanding the New Future.

2) Innovations are about new business models, enterprise and marketplace collaboration, new leadership and knowledge engineering.

3) Knowledge engineering, the formation and networking of knowledge-that which creates results, is the true asset of the 21st century.

4) The capture and analysis of customer information about product/service use, needs, wants, desires and behavior is mission-critical to the enterprise.

5) The integration of customer touch points across all channels is essential to future success. Watch out for the breakdowns.

6) The capacity of an organization to understand the key trends that will shape the future of technology, customers, society and the marketplace will determine the survival of the enterprise.

7) More disruptions are coming in the form of emerging markets, electronic exchanges, security breeches, and changing customer demographics.

8) Human capital, the value of talent will be the most valuable resource in the 21st century.

9) Entirely new industries will be formed by innovations yet to be brought to market. Look for the health enhancement, interactive TV nanotech, and on-demand supply chains to emerge.

10) The New Future will need New Leaders that are aware of how to attract talent, manage innovation, set high visions and execute profitably. There is a new paradigm about leadership that is emerging.

By the way, the following is what he wrote in the book:

'The Top 10 Trends of The Extreme Future'

1) Fueling the Future - The energy crisis, the post-oil future, and the future of energy alternatives like hydrogen. The critical role that energy will play in every aspect of our lives in the 21st century.

2) The Innovation Economy - The transformation of the global economy based on the convergence of free trade, technology and democracy, driving new jobs, new markets, globalization, competition, peace and security. The Four Power Tools of the Innovation Economy are Nano-Bio-IT-Neuro.

3) The Next Workforce - How the workforce of the U.S. is becoming more multicultural, more female and more Hispanic. Why the future workforce must embrace innovation to become globally competitive.

4) Longevity Medicine - The key forces that will radically alter medicine such as nanotech, neurotech, and genomics, leading to longer and healthier lives.

5) Weird Science - How science will transform every aspect of our lives, culture and economy—from teleportation to nanobiology to multiple universes.

6) Securing the Future - The top threats to our freedom and our lives, from hackers to terrorists to mind control. Defining the risk landscape of the 21st century.

7) The Future of Globalization - The new realities of global trade and competition; the rise of China and India; the clash of cultures and ideologies; and the cultural-economic battle for the future.

8) The Future of Climate Change - How the environment is changing and how we need to prepare for increased global warming, pollution, and threats to biodiversity.

9) The Future of the Individual - The risks and challenges from institutions, governments, and ideologies in the struggle for human rights and the freedom of the individual in the 21st century.

10) The Future of America - The power of America and its destiny to champion global democracy, innovation, human rights and free markets.

I reckon it is very important today for all entrepreneurs, managers, & professionals, as well as students, to keep an eye on what's happening around the world, in terms of shifting trends, changing habits & upcoming developments.

We don't have to believe everything the experts or futurists have to say. We just have to be aware & stay alert . . . to keep our eyes on the ball, so to speak, using their timely forecasts as some sort of navigational guidelines.

[Source: Institute for Global Futures]

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"We are all learning, modifying or destroying ideas all the time. Rapid destruction of your ideas when the time is right is one of the most valuable qualities you can acquire. You must force yourself to consider arguments on the other side."

~ Charlie Munger, 81, Vice-Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Corporation, the diversified investment corporation chaired by billionaire investor extraordinaire Warren Buffet;

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

Where are we going?

How are we going to get there?

What could go wrong?

What can we do then?

FIVE CHARACTERISTICS OF AMERICA'S MOST SUCCESSFUL ENTREPRENEUR

Steve Tobak, a marketing & strategy consultant based in Silicon Valley, recently wrote an insightful blog post on 'BNET: The Go-to Place for Management', regarding Andy Bechtolsheim, who is perhaps the most successful entrepreneur in America.

The latter cofounded Sun Microsystems, invented the workstation, was Google’s first investor (now worth about $1 Billion), & founded or funded a laundry list of successful companies.

Acording to Steve, we can all learn a lot from this brilliant American icon:

In a nut shell, this what I have jotted down:

1) He acts on his own instincts;

2) He gets the importance of being lean & mean;

3) He may be a technogeek, but he’s also an opportunistic businessman;

4) He’s still humble & customer-centric, in spite of his success;

5) He inspires & attracts high-quality executive talent;

Here's the link to the original blog post.

Friday, February 27, 2009

PAYING ATTENTION

According to Jean Stine & Camden Benares, authors of the amusing book, 'It's All in Your Head: Remarkable Facts About the Human Mind', here's what people are actually paying attention to on a typical day:

- 33% concentrating on current activities;

- 25% thinking about others & interpersonal relationships;

- 6% active thinking focused on solving problems;

- 3% self praise or self criticism;

- 2% self instruction;

- 1% thinking about violence;

- 26% widely scattered thoughts about a variety of subjects;

Just imagine only "6% active thinking focused on solving problems". This is certainly a wake up call.

As Learning Chef & Braindancer Dilip Mukerjea writes in the back cover of his book, 'Brain Symphony: Brain-blazing Practical Techniques in Creativity for Immediate Application':

"Today, we are in the age of Competitive Intelligence!

Resourceful Humans have replaced Human Resources.

Develop your Creative Brainpower.

It is the key to boosting your Intellectual Capital."

We got to move quickly into more productive thinking. It may be hard work, but it's the only kind of thinking that produces results that matters.

For me, it's always first things first: what do I choose to focus on, & where do I direct my attention?

My mind invariably follows the direction of my current dominant thoughts.

CRAFTING A PERSONAL PORTFOLIO vs WRITING A RESUME

The 'Sunday Times' this week has carried a full-page feature story on 'Writing a Good Resume', which put together a template for an ideal resume, culled from tips provided by 8 recruitment agencies & HR directors across various industries.

After perusing it, I have thought that the resume does not actually make the candidate stands out because it seems so stereotypical.

Nonetheless, I reckon it is still a good reference guide for a beginner job hunter to write his or her resume.

Coincidentally, a few days ago I have stumbled upon a David Holloway, an Area Product Manager from Payson, Utah in the United States, who has created a personal portfolio in addition to his profesional resume. He has displayed both on the net.

What he has done is most creative. It shows his personal creativeness. In fact, this is the first time I have seen someone doing it his way.

He has plotted all his accomplishments, capabilities as well as his contributions so far in terms of six business tools or models, as follows:

1) Strategic Canvas (adapted from the Blue Ocean Strategy in a personal application, focusing specifically on himself without the comparisons);

2) BCG Matrix (sometimes known as General Electric's Nine Block Matrix, by breaking down his current employer's product lines in terms of the life cycle - Dogs, Question Marks, Stars, Cash Cows - & his participation with each of them);

3) Attribute Pool (a spin off from Profit Pool Analysis; by analysing different factors & attributes of his personal success in terms of their relative importance & relative contribution to who he is & the success he achieves);

4) Strategic Resource (an analysis of self to find what makes him as a resource; he has in fact identified 5 key factors);

5) The Hedgehog Concept (adapted from strategy guru Jim Collins, as a self-management analysis to focus his strategies & efforts);

6) Self-Management (adapted from Peter Drucker, which identifies 6 perspectives of how he can manage himself & everything he does);

I can see that his well-crafted personal portfolio certainly makes him stands out among the job hunting crowd, at least from my viewpoint.

Readers can go to his link to take a look.

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

“Life is pretty simple: You do some stuff. Most fails. Some works. You do more of what works. If it works big, others quickly copy it. Then you do something else. The trick is the doing something else.”

~ Leonardo da vinci (1452-1519);

NOTES FROM MY SCRATCHPAD: 6 CHARACTERISTICS OF A TRANSFORMATIVE LEADER

1) The ability to think systematically;

2) The ability to see connections among diverse and disparate factors and ideas;

3) The ability to ask appropriate questions;

4) The ability to spot trends and weak signals;

5) The ability to understand and utilize a diversity of parallel processes;

6) The ability to build capacities for transformation in organizations and communties;

[Source: Communities of the Future (CoTF), an evolving 21st century network of people and organizations throughout the U.S.A, Europe & other countries that are working in collaboration to develop new concepts of governance, economic development, leadership, & education/learning as a response to a fast-paced, interconnected, & increasingly complex world; Creating Transformative Leadership]

Thursday, February 26, 2009

HANG LOOSE: 40 WAYS TO RELAX

Today's 'Mind Your Body' supplement of the 'Straits Times' offers 40 great tips from local medical experts on energy engineering & stress management:

Ms Sanveen Kang, a clinical psychologist at the Institute of Mental Health, said:

'Never dismiss stress; instead, learn to cope and tackle the problems one by one.'

Her other tips:

1 Seek help. Talk to a friend, family member, co-worker, counsellor, psychologist or someone you trust.

2 Focus on what you have accomplished and derive a sense of satisfaction from it.

3 Do not dwell on work that is incomplete as it will only demoralise you.

4 Do stretches in the office to relieve tension accumulated from sitting down for a long time.

5 Exercise regularly.

It helps with sleep problems and improves blood circulation and detoxification through perspiration.

Exercise has been shown to release a chemical in the brain which induces the feeling of well-being and relaxation.

6 Enrol in stress management talks, workshops and programmes.

7 Go travelling with your loved ones as it can help you return with a fresh perspective on life.

Dr Gregory Chan, a senior occupational health physician at the National University of Singapore, said:

'Relaxing in the workplace is not only about things you can do but also an attitude with which you approach work.'

His other tips:

8 Draw up a list of items that you need to finish at work at the beginning of the day.

9 You can choose to be happy and positive at work. For example, smile more and respond positively to new assignments.

10 Focus on the job at hand.

Cut the gossip and keep positive at work

11 Do not keep checking your e-mail every few minutes; it will distract you.

12 Make sure your work station is comfortable and adjusted to your personal needs.

The screen should be at eye level.

Adjust the chair so that your elbows rest comfortably on the chair and your feet are flat on the ground.

Do not sit on the edge of your chair.

Get some back support.

13 Keep your desk free of clutter and tidy up after work.

14 Avoid gossiping about others.

15 Be friendly to everyone (but do not overdo it).

16 Listen to some soothing music without disturbing your colleagues.

17 Take short breaks after continuous work; you should not do more than one hour of continuous work.

18 Tell your body to relax while working; it is about mind over body.

Check if you are tense because you tend to use muscles that are not necessary in the course of work.

19 Learn to say 'no' if you have far too much to do already.

20 Have regular meals to avoid gastric problems and squeeze in some exercise no matter how short.

For example, take the stairs instead of the lift.

21 Try not to bring work home.

22 Ensure that you drink enough fluids - water is best but not fizzy or alcoholic drinks.

23 Do not be overly preoccupied with promotion or competition.

24 Even if your work seems boring, look for positive aspects and enjoy working.

25 Give your best effort at work.

Psychologist Daniel Koh of Insights-Tse counselling clinic said:

'Find more sedentary and easy going things to do as exercise may vent frustration but may not mean you will be more relaxed.'

His other tips:

26 Breathing exercises. These can be done with your eyes open or closed and either sitting or lying down.

Begin by placing your hand on your diaphragm and breathe in slowly and deeply.

When exhaling, imagine that you are breathing out all your tension and troubles.

Repeat until you feel calm and relaxed.

27 Imagery or visualisation.

Start with the above breathing exercise but add on visualisation.

Imagine that you are walking in a forest or along a beach. Think about how you would feel and what you would see or hear. When you begin to feel relaxed, start focusing on your breathing.

28 Muscle relaxation. Again start with your breathing, then focus on the major muscle groups from head to toe.

For example, clench your jaw and hold it for a few seconds then relax.

Repeat this a few times, then move on to your mouth (tense it up and relax), neck (tilt it upwards and backwards, hold and relax), shoulder (lift it up towards your neck), then arms, chest, abdomen, thighs, calves, toes and end with breathing.

Breathing and muscle exercises slow down the pace of breathing which helps regulate the heart beat and relaxes the body.

They also take the mind off thoughts that are causing stress.

Psychiatrist Brian Yeo of Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre said:

'Some people relax better in a group while others are more comfortable relaxing alone.'

His other tips:

29 Take long walks or laze on a beach.

30 Join a line dancing class or start running. Both do not require a partner so they are easier to pick up.

31 If you are a spiritual person, go to an empty church or temple and have some quiet time for reflection.

Meditate regularly; it enables you to calm down faster when it becomes a routine for your body.

It also increases the flow of pleasure hormones and raises the threshold of stress a person can cope with.

32 Vegetate on the couch; the concept of relaxation seems to entail an activity but sometimes being a couch potato for a short time is not a bad thing.

33 Join a yoga or pilates class or do yoga at home with videos.

34 Go for a massage or facial.

Mr Stephen Lew, a psychotherapist from the Positive Psychology Centre, said:

'Do what you love daily. If you have yet to develop an interest, this could be the time of self-discovery to cultivate a new hobby which you get pleasure from.'

His other tips:

35 Sift through old photographs - an occasion that was full of fun could trigger joyous emotions locked in your memory.

36 Walk alongside trees in the Botanical Gardens or get yourself close to nature; this helps to soothe frazzled nerves.

37 Pick up a dusty phone book to touch base with old friends and chuckle away at the foolish things you used to do.

38 Take a siesta, or as they say, a power nap (20 minutes) to recharge.

39 Sit on a chair with your feet touching the floor and your back upright. Focus on anything or any sound for three minutes.

40 As you step into your home after a long day at work, just sit for 10 to 15 minutes doing nothing. Do some deep breathing and reflect on the day's challenges.

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

Now that I can do anything, what will I do?

SITTING & THINKING, READING & THINKING

While surfing the net, I have stumbled upon this belated report of an interview with Charlie Munger by Kiplinger.

Just for the record:

Charlie Munger, 81, has been Warren Buffett's partner & alter ego for more than 50 years. The pair has produced one of the best investing records in history.

Here's an extract of that interview, which caught my personal attention:

Charlie Munger was asked: What are your work styles like?

He responded:

"We have certain things in common.

We both hate to have too many forward commitments in our schedules.

We both insist on a lot of time being available almost every day to just sit & think. That is very uncommon in American business.

We read & think.

So Warren & I do more reading & thinking and less doing than most people in business. We do that because we like that kind of a life. But we've turned that quirk into a positive outcome for ourselves."

Sit & Think. Read & Think. I really like that.

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"There is an immutable conflict at work in life & in business, a constant battle between peace & chaos. Neither can be mastered, but both can be influenced. How you go about that is the key to success."

~ Philip Knight, 71, co-founder (with Bill Bowerman) & Chairman of Nike, Inc.; once dubbed the "most powerful man in sports" by the Sporting News;

MAKING DISTINCTIONS: TRAINING vs COACHING

While reading America's leading corporate presentations coach Jerry Weisman's latest book, 'The Power Presenter: Technique, Style, & Strategy', I am intrigued by what he wrote in the Preface.

He has made a very clear distinction between 'training' & 'coaching':

The very word 'training' denotes rigorous discipline [I reckon like training an animal]; while 'coaching', derived from the word for a transportation vehicle, denotes movement.

That is to say, 'coaching' people moves them to success naturally.

What a great distinction!

So, in a nut shell, 'training' is for animals; 'coaching' is for homo sapiens.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"When everyone thinks alike, everyone is likely to be wrong."

~ Humphrey Neill, author of 'The Art of Contrary Thinking';

SAGE ADVICE FROM THE GURU

"The sages do not consider that making no mistakes is a blessing. They believe, rather, that the great virtue of man lies in his ability to correct his mistakes & continuously make a new man himself."

~ Chinese phlosopher Wang Yang Ming, 1472-1529; often regarded as one of the four greatest masters of Confucianism in history along with Confucius, Menchius & Zhu Xi;

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

THE ART & DISCIPLINE OF GRACEFUL AGING

After having read so much good books as well as digested numerous newspaper & magazine reports, both hard & soft, over the years, I can more or less narrow down the super-secrets of longevity to 7 practical key aspects.

Collectively, I reckon that, by embracing these easy-to-implement aspects in our senior years, they can contribute to what I like to call 'The Art & Discipline of Graceful Aging'.

Of course, if one can start early, say from middle age or even younger, the impact or rather the many benefits would be much greater.

I must say that implementation takes disciplined execution & deliberate follow-through.

Here they are, more or less in order of priority:

1) Intellectual Curiosity or Nurturing the Mind:

- keeping your mind intellectually active; I consider this aspect as #1 prerequisite;

- our brains like novelty & change - so it is important to make your physical environment stimulating at all times e.g. having visual peripherals to catch your fancy;

- constantly challenge yourself by doing the common uncommonly, so to speak; in fact, doing any thing that offers novelty & the chance to practise the unfamiliar, will improve mental acuity;

- doing new activities or doing old activities in new &/or different ways, e.g. recently I have started to play Scrabble with my wife, partly to help her expedite her learning of the English Language;

- exploring interesting hobbies that you have never got yourself involved before, e.g. I have taken up digital photography & love to shoot whatever catches my fancy;

- playing with kids is one great option, because kids can really push your intellectual as well as physical boundaries;

- exploring your physical environment with "new eyes" - there are a lot more things to see & feel, if you only open your eyes or rather your senses; e.g. I love to pop into shopping malls &/or supermarkets just to gawk at all the new stuff on display;

- surfing the net, with serendipity as your guide & exploring what comes your way;

- for me, I find blogging, plus reviewing books, intellectually very stimulating;

- having intellectual pow-wows with my business associates, from time to time, helps to keep my mind in good shape;

- playing with my creativity toolkits, e.g. Pocket Innovator, ThinkTank, ThinkCube, helps me in stretching my imagination & ingenuity, thus sustaining a positive frame of mind to deal with challenges & problems;

2) Lifelong Learning:

- lifelong learning is not confined to attending evening classes or doing distance education with the universities;

- reading widely, mainstream as well as fringe stuff, is a form of lifelong learning;

- there is so much to read about & learn about the world at large;

- the world provides you with an ever changing curriculum through the "invisible university": all you need is your curiosity & eagerness to learn new things;

- even the advertising material from marketers through the mailbox offers tremendous learning opportunities - that's part of the "invisible university": e.g. changing consumer tastes, new products, new developments in the marketplace, etc.

- talking to ordinary people - to find out what excites them - in the streets is a form of attending "street university";

- if you don't like to read, you can listen to audio tapes while commuting or driving; that's attending "automobile university";

- even watching movies can be a form of lifelong learning, provided you reflect on them like a movie critic, start up meaningful conversations with friends or other interested parties, & exploring your mental filters with regard to the movies;

- attending product exhibitions or trade conferences is all part of the "invisible university" in keeping yourself abreast;

- attending night classes to learn new skills, e.g. learning French or French cooking, is part of lifelong learning;

- attending life skills seminars & workshops is another way to go, but be selective, or you will end up as a seminar junkie;

3) Physical Activity & Recreation, or Nurturing the Body:

- keeping yourself physically active; always remember: our bodies are designed to move!

- so, don't just sit there; do something, anything that involves bodily movements, e.g. household chores;

- exercising or working in the gym is a great physical activity; according to medical experts, we need to exercise for at least 30 minutes, five times a week;

- if you don't like to exercise, walk briskly; follow Dr Yeo Ning Hong's advice: at least 10,000 steps daily; my wife & I love to walk around in the neighbourhood during the evenings; also, my wife & I often walk up the stairs as our apartment is just on the fifth floor;

- playing physical games, like badminton, tennis, ping pong; my wife loves to play badminton with her friends;

- if you are physically fit, you can always join the marathon;

- don't forget to expose your body to some natural sunshine, too;

- even window shopping is a form of recreation; my wife & I loves to pop into shopping malls at Jurong Point, IMM as well on Orchard Road;

4) Maintaining Meaningful Relationships & Social Connectivity:

- spending more time & keeping a meaningful relationship with your spouse as well as your family members definitely contributes to the general well-being of both parties;

- next, keeping yourself socially active;

- having good friends & hanging out with them, from time to time, make your life fulfilling, fun & exciting e.g. my wife & I often hang out with my social buddies from 'The Wednesday Club', the Polytechnic, etc.;

- making new friends on the net through business &/or social networks; my wife & I have made a lot of new friends in the gym;

- sometimes, just get out of the house & meet your neighbours - my wife & I make efforts & time to chit-chat with our immediate neighbours;

5) Healthy Lifestyle, including Diet, Nutrition, Rest, Sleep & Laughter:

- taking up a moderate but balanced diet, e.g. my wife & I eat a lot of steamed fish & fresh vegetables, plus lean meat occasionally, & drink a lot of soup;

- according to experts, sticking to minimally processed foods, limiting foods from animal sources, eating a variety of food from colourful vegetables & fruits, nuts & whole grains, will ensure the best in nutrition value;

- home cooking is still the best, when compared with outside eating, because you can control what goes into the cooking;

- don't forget to drink at least ten glasses of water daily;

- taking vitamin supplements to go with your regular meals e.g. my wife & I gobble up Centrum multi-vitamins, Vitaton antioxidant formulations, Gingko, & Omega 3 fish-oil capsules on a daily basis;

- getting plenty of rest & sleep; to me, sleep is vital, & I sleep like a log such that when I get up in the mornings, I am always raring to go;

- remember, too much stress kills brain cells, so stress is not a good idea!

- listening to soft soothing music, like Baroque or Classical or New Age, in the background helps one to relax;

- for those corporate rats, regular vacations are good alternatives for "battery charging";

- don't forget laughter: it's not toxic, so take it in large doses;

6) Sacredness of Spirituality or Nurturing the Spirit:

- spirituality doesn't confine to embracing religious beliefs of your choice;

- seeking quiet moments, from time to time, to centre your mind or just for introspection is great as a spiritual act for your mind & body;

- practising relaxation routines on a regular basis; if you are adventurous, you can always experiment with high-tech meditation;

- helping others who are less fortunate or in need through volunteering or donations is always a good spiritual deed;

- practising daily journalling is great too; for me, I always have my scratchpad on standby - I always jot down practically everything that catches my fancy or my fleeting inspiration sparks;

7) Prevention Against Chronic Health Conditions;

- working with your doctor in dealing with chronic health conditions e.g. I work very closely with my family doctor, even though my wife & I, fortunately, do not have chronic problems;

- surfing the net for more information that help you to understand chronic health conditions & to take practical remedial actions;

- embracing a preventative maintenance lifestyle by avoiding food consumption that contributes to chronic health problems, e.g. processed foods, refined sugars, BBQ food, junk food like soft drinks & french fries;

PRAGMATIC INSIGHTS FROM THE EXPERTS

"Information gathering is the basis of all other managerial work, which is why I choose to spend so much of my day doing it."

~ Andrew Grove, 63, [born as Gróf András István in Hungary], writing in his book, 'High Output Management' (1995); one of the earliest employees of Intel Corporation, & ultimately he played key leadership roles in its phenomenal success, by serving as CEO, Chairman & now Senior Advisor;

[I would say that 'information gathering' is one of the major ingredients in strategic thinking, which eventually leads to strategy making.

In essence, I would even equate 'information gathering' to playing with ideas in the head, using incoming information from the environment as "triggers", coupled with the interplay of creativity, ingenuity & intuitive feelings (read: "internally generated information").

That's how 'information gathering' initially contributed to what Andrew Grove eventually saw as "strategic inflexion points" or "growth surges" amidst all the foggy scenarios.

To me, 'information gathering' comes from reading disparate source materials; observing & understanding the environment, more specifically, markets & competitors; strategic as well as naive conversations - & interactions - with people, especially customers, suppliers & other facilitators, including empoyees in the frontlines, from & across all levels, & travelling to feel the pulse of what's really going on. ]

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

Did I wake up this morning in a great mood?

Did I wake up & immediately begin to worry about something?

Am I excited about something?

Did I smile when I looked in the mirror?

Did I criticize myself when I was getting dressed up?


~ inspired by Joyce Lee Life Coaching Moments weblog,

DO MOTIVATIONAL TRAINERS WALK THEIR TALK?

To be frank, only a handful do, but most don't, drawing from my own personal as well as professional encounters with these "snake oil salesmen".

There are too many "success stories" behind these "snake oil salesmen" floating around in feature articles of major newspaper &/or magazines, as well as in their own advertisements.

Not forgetting, in their own personal blogs &/or corporate websites, which are also instrumental in propagating the myth.

The big problem is that newspaper reporters who wrote those "success stories" often didn't verify them. They are apparently more interested in the "newsworthiness" of their byline stories.

Hence, most readers are left to their personal devices to read between the lines, & beyond the lines, so to speak. Only the truly discerning ones, who probe further, can get to the real truth.

For example, one popular "success guy" has been going around claiming that he has made his first million through the power of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). It's all crap, because I know the guy, & I also know the real story.

The same guy has even claimed in his personal blog that he likes to teach kids about one of the fundamental pillars of personal success - attitude of gratitude. I almost fell off my chair when I read about it.

I don't think he understood what he is talking about, because judging from two very specific encounters with him, verifiable by witnesses, he is obviously talking through his hat.

Sadly, I also know of a 7 Habits trainer who couldn't even balance her roles as a professional trainer, a wife, a mother of 3 kids, daughter-in-law & sister-in-law.

Worst still, another trainer, with NLP background & mastery in psychology, couldn't even tackle his own personal problems at home. He even had disciplinary problem with his only teenaged son.

Many years ago, a US-based motivational trainer, with NLP background, came to town to set up a "success academy", running on a multi-level marketing formula. A lot of local trainers who had joined his seemingly lucrative scheme got their pants burnt. Many of them were my good friends.

The same guy had also introduced his own seminars on 'Rapport Building Technology" & "Advanced Rapport Building Technology", but when I met him on one or two occasions, he couldn't even show me that he had the substance in him.

Interestingly, the guy is still in town, purportedly running some other new but dubious schemes.

Around the same time, one or two ang-moh (a colloquial term for Caucasians) motivational trainers from United States came to town with a bright idea: how to develop "disciplined income acceleration".

Many of my trainer buddies who went into collaboration with them unwittingly, got badly burnt at the end. They didn't get what they were promised.

Not too long ago, the 'Straits Times' reported that two highly publicised motivational trainers in the field of "options trading" & "stealth marketing" respectively, were brought to court in a class action. They didn't deliver what they had promised to the investors.

Interestingly, one of them, an ang-moh from Down Under, while teaching participants how to make money, couldn't even afford to pay his bills - to the tune of about S$50,000 - from an advertising agency.

I have also come across, in recent years, many young NLP graduates, who claimed to have been trained in the United States under grand masters, running around town offering their greenhorn services as "success coaches" & yet, they didn't even practise first what they have learned in their own personal &/or professional lives. What an irony?

I reckon maybe it's much easier to preach to others, than to enact what they had learned in their own personal lives, for these young purveyors.

To top them all, I also know of many motivational trainers who often hijacked other people's intellectual creations without ever according proper credit to the progenitors.

Here's one from my own records:

From my engineering background, I had developed a creative adaption of the PERT Chart, a visual project planning tool (originally conceived by the US Navy during the sixties - at the height of the Cold War - to keep track of their submarine-based Polaris missile development), & had presented it on many occasions in a residential motivational camp for teens & kids.

Two well-known motivational trainers involved in the professional association with me eventually stole my idea, & carried on with using my product up to today, without ever acknowledging me as the intellectual creator.

One of them even blatantly photocopied & blown up the chart - my original name at the bottom, 'Optimum Performance Technologies' was deliberately removed - for distribution in their own motivational training camps. Unbelievable?

There is even one Malaysia-based master trainer - whom I had met on several occasions - who often talked about "leadership" in conferences & seminars. I wouldn't want to shake his hand, because I might not even get my hand back.

He was very adept in "tapping people's brain" - read: "stealing your ideas" - but when he was asked what he was doing, one could only get very evasive answers. He wasn't willing to share what he knew. Probably, all his ideas were "stolen property".

What I am talking about here is only a tip of the iceberg. Regrettably, there are a lot of other horror stories about motivational trainers.

For me, the first & foremost characteristic trait in a motivational trainer, is essentially his or her personal integrity, followed by his or her professional courtesy to others, which are found, to my personal disappointment, lacking in these unscrupulous people I am referring to in this post.

The other issue is that, these so-called motivational trainers can really preach, but they don't walk their talk.

However, I must emphatically add that they are good ones out there, but I believe they are very very few.

I am sure, they all know who they are, either way.

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

“What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him. What
he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost, but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.”

— Viktor Frankl, 'Man's Search for Meaning';

Monday, February 23, 2009

THE KEY TO MANAGING YOUR BOSSES

This interesting as well as insightful anecdote actually came from management guru Peter Drucker:

There are keys to success in managing bosses:

First, put down on a piece of paper a "boss list," everyone to whom you are accountable.

Next, go to each person on the list and ask,

"What do I do and what do my people do that helps you do your job?"

And,

"What do we do that makes your life more difficult?"

WARREN BUFFET'S ADVICE FOR 2009

I have received today the following email from one of my trainer buddies as well as blog readers, William Anthony, with great tips reportedly from one of the richest guys in the world:

"Warren Buffet's Advice for 2009:

We begin this New Year with dampened enthusiasm and dented optimism. Our happiness is diluted and our peace is threatened by the financial illness that has infected our families, organizations and nations.

Everyone is desperate to find a remedy that will cure their financial illness and help them recover their financial health. They expect the financial experts to provide them with remedies, forgetting the fact that it is these experts who created this financial mess.

Every new year, I adopt a couple of old maxims as my beacons to guide my future. This self-prescribed therapy has ensured that with each passing year, I grow wiser and not older.

This year, I invite you to tap into the financial wisdom of our elders along with me and become financially wiser.

1. Hard Work: All hard work bring a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.

2. Laziness: A sleeping lobster is carried away by the water current.

3. Earnings: Never depend on a single source of income. (At least make your investments get you second earning).

4. Spending: If you buy things you don't need, you will soon sell things you need.

5. Savings: Don't save what is left after spending. Spend what is left after saving.

6. Borrowing: The borrower becomes the lender's slave. (Do not borrow)

7. Accounting: It is no use carrying an umbrella, if your shoes are leaking.

8. Auditing: Beware of little expenses. A small leak can sink a large ship.

9. Risk-taking: Never test the depth of the river with both feet. Have an alternate plan ready.

10. Investment: Don't put all your eggs in one basket. (Diversify your investments)

I am certain that those who have already been practicing these principles remain financially healthy.

I am equally confident that those who resolve to start practicing these principles will quickly regain their financial health."

STRATEGY: RUMBLE IN THE CORPORATE JUNGLE

If you have a fascination, like yours truly, for learning how to exploit the application of strategic agility, here's a link to a great article by Harvey Schachter on the ReportBusiness.com, drawing on what Prof Donald Sull of the London Business School has written earlier in the Harvard Business Review.

The professor's apt analogy of the classic clash between Muhammad Ali & George Foreman in Kinshasa, Zaire, in October of 1974, is certainly refreshing, especially in terms of useful lessons for seizing opportunities during an economic downturn.

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"There are two things to aim at in life - to get what you want & after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest achieve the second."

~ Logan Pearsall Smith, 1865-1946, American essayist & critic; also a notable writer on historical semantics;

SAGE ADVICE FROM THE GURU

"I have just three things to teach: Simplicity, Patience, & Compassion. These three are your greatest treasures. Simple in actions & thoughts, you return to the source of your being. Patient with both friends & enemies, you accord with the way things are. Compassionate towards yourself, you reconcile all beings in the world."

~ Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu, 'Tao Te Ching'

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A BELATED VALENTINE DINNER WITH VIETNAMESE CUISINE AT ONE TREE HILL

On Saturday evening, my social buddies & I had some sort of belated home-cooked Valentine dinner at the One Tree Hill residence of Dr James Kwok.

My wife was the visiting chef for the evening, & she was assisted by the Philippine maid of Dr Kwok. They had started preparing the Vietnamese cuisine since 2pm. My wife had done most of the grocery shopping at Jurong West in the morning. The maid also took the opportunity to learn the new ethnic cooking skills from my wife.

All together, there were four couples, all members of 'The Wednesday Club': James & Sophia; S T Chow & Gek Wee, Jeffrey & Betty, yours truly & my wife.

Even though the ambiance wasn't romantic enough, we nevertheless had a great time together.

Appended below are some of the digital snapshots of the served Vietnamese dishes during the evening.

Legend of the dishes:

1) 'xa lach' (fresh leafy vegetables, including basil, pepermint) (to go with item #3);

2) 'tom bao quan' (deep-fried minced pork paste in rice paper);

3) 'chao tom' (deep-fried prawn/fish meat, wrapped around fresh sugar cane);

4) 'goi ga' (chicken meat/large onions/cabbage salad);

5) 'goi cuon' (pork slices, prawns, vegetables, & laksa noodles, wrapped in soft rice paper) (to go with specially concocted fish sauce);

6) 'banh xeo' (egg omelette with bean sprouts, cuttle-fish, prawns);













NOTES FROM MY SCRATCHPAD: THE ART OF NEGOTIATING DIFFICULT SITUATIONS

When negotiating difficult situations it is wise to determine each party's stance on the following items:

1) What is it that each party wants to accomplish?

2) What is it that each party wants to avoid?

3) What are the crucial issues that are "non-negotiable"?

[Source: World Peace Newsletter.]

SAGE ADVICE FROM THE GURU

"Intellect is the functioning of the head (the mammalian brain), instinct is the functioning of the body (the reptilian brain), and intuition is the functioning of the heart (the spiritual/inspirational brain).

And behind these three is the master, your being, whose only quality is witnessing. A wise person creates a harmony between the head, the heart, and the body. In this harmony comes the revelation of the source of one's life, the very center, the soul.

We all have a past, present and future. Instinct is what belongs to our animal past. Intellect is human. It is our present. The intellect is fallable because it is new, a recent arrival. Intellect lives through prejudices; it is never fair. And the third thing, which is our future, is intuition.

So these three words have to be understood. Intuition opens it's doors through meditation. Meditation is simply a knocking on the doors of intuition. Intuition is your consciousness. Intellect is your mind. Instinct is your body.

To understand enlightenment you must understand that intellect is a tool. It is a servant, not the master."

~ Osho, 'Intuition: Knowing Beyond Logic';

[Osho has been described by the Sunday Times of London as one of the "1000 Makers of the 20th Century" & by Sunday Mid-Day (India) as one of the ten people-along with Gandhi, Nehru, and Buddha-who have changed the destiny of India. More than a decade after his death in 1990, the influence of his teachings continues to expand, reaching seekers of all ages in virtually every country of the world.]

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

What Do I Love?

What Touches Me Deeply?

What Brings a Tear To My Eye?

~ inspired by a posting on Joyce Lee Life Coaching Moment's weblog;

MEMORABLE QUOTE FROM THE MOVIES

"There is nothing to be gained in second-guessing yourself. You can’t remake the past . . . So look to the future . . . Or risk being left behind.”

~ by Vala Mal Doran (played by Claudia Black) in one of the episodes of the TV sci-fi fantasy series, Stargate SG-1, starring one of my personal favourites, Richard Dean Anderson (of the 'MacGyver' fame), playing Colonel Jack O'Neill;

TIPS ON SUCCESSFUL AGING

Google Alert has led me to the following article:

"It's easier than you think: Keep yourself fit, mentally sharp as you age"

by Paul R. Kopenkoskey of The Grand Rapids Press.

I have extracted the following tips from it, mostly coming from Dr. John Morley, co-author of "The Science of Staying Young":

- The key is low-intensity physical activity;

- Long-term studies have pinpointed exercise as the single most potent predictor of healthy longevity;

- A healthier diet that includes more fish, joining an organization or volunteering & keeping the mind intellectually challenged keep a person's spirits up, tone the body & enhance morale;

- Those who regularly attend religious services possess a better immune system than those who don't;

["Spirituality itself is a coping system," Dr Morley said. "(And) there's more to it than just belief. It has to be involvement with a community."]

- Don't sit at home & do nothing;

- Keeping a positive attitude also is part of performing well in the longevity game;

- It's never too late to start habits that will help you live to a healthy old age;

- The quest for a fountain of youth is getting a renewed surge of interest by taking your well-being into your own hands;

[Although about 35 percent of the factors that lead to a long life are determined by genes - over which people have no control - it's vital people take responsibility for their well-being to boost longevity, Dr Morley said.]

- The most important piece of advice for overcoming diseases is how you handle them - just don't give up!

By the way, here's the link to the original article.

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"People make their lives meaningful in many ways . . . As long as we're alive, why not take risks? Why not try new things?"

~ Sheila Malkind, 70, photographer, writer, dancer, mother, speaker & film buff; also, the curator of the first International Film Festival on Aging;

[At 40, when Sheila first started out, she had realized that 70-year-olds could teach her a thing or two. So she began questioning folks she worked with at Chicago's Department on Aging.

"I'd ask what advice they would give me about aging well," she said. "They all told me: Live out your dreams." And so she has.]

[Source: SFGate]