Saturday, August 22, 2009

SPOTLIGHT: LAW OF THE JUNGLE


My most favourite digital snapshot captured during my yesterday's 'bus-stopping' exercise, as reported in an earlier post.

It reminds me of a story:

Lion wakes up in the morning and knows that he has to run faster than the gazelle or he's going to go hungry.

Gazelle wakes up in the morning and knows that he has to run faster than the lion or he's going to be eaten.

Moral of the story: "When you get up in the morning, hit the ground running!"

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"Leaders must be able to cope not only with change, disruptive & continuous, but also with the pressures on decision-makers to digest a ceaseless torrent of new data... "

— Frances Cairncross, Management Editor at 'The Economist' & author of 'The Company of the Future: How the Communication Revolution Is Changing Management';

DOING SOMETHING DIFFERENT

For the last two weeks, especially in the morning hours, I have been conducting my walkabout in the Jurong West as well as the Jurong East area. I have in fact mentioned this new activity of mine in an earlier post.

For each walk, I took a different path every morning, so as to inject some newness in my visual surroundings.

Remember, the brain gets excited where there is novelty.

Yesterday, at the spur-of-the moment, I had decided to do something different.

After a brisk breakfast in the neighbourhood coffeeshop, I took express bus service #502 (air-conditioned) from Jurong West Avenue 1 down to the city. [My wife was out of town.]

The bus ride took about 40 minutes or so. I recall reaching the bus stop located just diagonally opposite the Orchard Parade Hotel, on the beginning stretch of Orchard Road towards the city at about 9.40am.

I then started my slow walk down the Orchard Road pavement from that point. I had my digital camera & a bottle of water with me.

Naturally, I took my own sweet time to walk. At the same time, my roving eyes were soaking in the building & street scenes as I walked.

Along the way, I even took digital snapshots of all the things, especially the moving posters located on bus stops, that pigued my personal interest. I will write about them as part of my ongoing 'Spotlight' feature in my weblog.

In a way, I could describe my spur-of-the-moment walking endeavour as a 'bus-stopping' exercise.

The walk was pleasant, as the weather wasn't hot, in spite of the rising morning sun overhead. Fortunately, there were ample tree shades & lush-green shrubs along the way.

I thought that The National Parks Board had certainly done a great job to make Singapore a green city.

Also, I was wearing my jogging shirt - more popularly known as surf shirt - & bermuda pants, plus a pair of comfortable sports shoes from Timberland.

At that morning hour, offices had already started work, but most retail shops in the shopping centres were not yet opened. So, I didn't find a lot of people walking on the streets or waiting at the numerous bus stops.

However, along the Orchard Road, vehicular traffic was seemingly heavy, despite the Electronic Road Pricing (ERP).

I noted that most of the major building landmarks on Orchard Road had completed their total makeovers. For a few of them, refurbishment was still ongoing.

A few of them really stood out, at least from the standpoint of visual aesthetics: the front facades of ION Orchard, Paragon, Istana (President's Residence), & the Singapore Art Museum on Bras Basah Road.

After having walked for about 1-1/2 hours, I finally reached the Raffles Hotel arcade, facing the Raffles City on North Bridge Road/Bras Basah Road. The time was 11.15am. I decided to call it a day.

Again, I picked up express bus service #502 at the Raffles Hotel bus stop along Bras Basah Road to return to Jurong West.

Although I had walked short stretches along the Orchard Road pavement before, mostly in connection with my window-shopping sprees with my wife, this was the first time I had walked the entire stretch.

It was a refreshing change. My mind, body & spirit felt really great!

Below is a quick sampling of my digital snapshots. More to follow.















Friday, August 21, 2009

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

What skills are necessary to survive in the future?

What do I need to do today?

How will this affect me?

Why should I be concerned now?

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)


"To be alive & to be participating in this grand symphony that seems chaotic on the outside to the uninformed. But if you sit back, stay quiet & calm you'll realize there's an implicit order in the chaos. Everyday when I wake up, I look in the mirror & I truly say to myself, "I am still alive, what a miracle that is. That you are here, you are participating, meeting people, helping people to change lives, pushing them forward & at the end of it you are enjoying every... sensory delight in the world, like having a simple cup of coffee.""

~ success motivator & Chief Strategist of DMG Capital Corporation Ltd., Mel Gill, in response to the question "What are you most grateful for in life?" from an interview in connection with the 'Spirit of Enterprise 2009';

[Readers can go to this link to read the complete interview.]

Thursday, August 20, 2009

10 WAYS TO ENHANCE YOUR PERSONAL CONTROL VARIETY

One of my most favourite authors, thinkologist Dudley Lynch, has just written a fascinating but insightful blogpost.

I certainly like his personal philosophy of 'rebel with an agenda'.

Here's the link.

Please pay particular attention to his '10 Ways to Keep Adding Innovative New Lanes to Your Personal Capacity'.

I like to call them '10 Ways to Enhance Your Personal Control Variety'.

To me, they resonate very well with the 'Law of Requisite Variety', especially from the standpoint of knowledge & skill acquisition to deal with the never-ending onslaught of disturbance variety from the environment.

SPOTLIGHT: INSTANT GRATIFICATION vs DELAYED GRATIFICATION


This fancy chocolate poster at the Wheelock Place caught my personal attention. It certainly made me drool for a short while when I took this digital snapshot.

Then, I remember the famed Stanford Marshmallow Test & its Lessons On Delayed Gratification, conducted by psychologist Dr Walter Mischel during the sixties with a bunch of kids.

Those kids who couldn’t wait i.e. they craved for instant gratification, suffered from low self-esteem & were regarded by their teachers & parents as stubborn, prone to envy & easily frustrated.

In contrast, those kids who did not eat their marshmallows were more self-motivated, educationally successful & emotionally intelligent.

The study proved that people who believe in delayed gratification for better returns lead more positive lives.

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"In the choice between changing one's mind & proving there's no need to do so, most people get busy on the proof."

~ John Galbraith, (1908-2006), Canadian-American economist;

LESSONS FROM 'THE FARMER & THE DONKEY' STORY

Success Coach Dr Marc Dussault gives an interesting spin to the age-old story of 'The Farmer & The Donkey', especially in terms of valuable life lessons.

You can read about it in his 'Personal Mastery' weblog.

Here's the link.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"The wisdom of the wise & the experience of the ages are perpetuated by quotations."

~ Benjamin Disraeli, (1804–1881), former British Prime Minister (1874-1880); before & during his political career, he was well-known as a literary figure;

SPOTLIGHT: IT'S SHOWDOWN TIME!


This spontaneous digital snapshot of the shopfront display of a sports goods boutique - with the apt slogan - at Ngee Ann City on Orchard Road certainly triggered a thought in my head.

I reckon everyday should be a showdown time to check one's own assumptions, beliefs & opinions. A reality check, so to speak... to ensure that what we know is true & pragmatic.

To put it in another way, to go on learning as fast as the world is changing, so that our circle of knowledge continues to expand across (&/or to shrink?) our boundary of ignorance.

It's not easy, but we need to do it.

10 QUESTIONS EVERY CHANGE AGENT MUST ANSWER

1) Do you see opportunities the competition doesn't see?

2) Do you have new ideas about where to look for new ideas?

3) Are you the most of anything?

4) If your company went out of business tomorrow, who would miss you & why?

5) Have you figured out how your organisation's history can help to shape its future?

6) Can your customers live without you?

7) Do you treat different customers differently?

8) Are you getting the best contributions from the most people?

9) Are you consistent in your commitment to change?

10) Are learning as fast as the world is changing?

~ from the book, 'Practically Radical: A Game Plan for Game Changers', which chronicles the radical shifts transforming business & the practical steps that will determine who wins, by William Taylor;

From my personal perspective, my favourites are questions #1, #2, #3 & #10.

[Readers can go to this link to read an article by the author about the foregoing questions, or alternatively go to this link to download a preview of the book.]

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

WHAT IS FORECASTING & HOW DOES IT DIFFER FROM PREDICTING?

"Predicting is about certainty, & forecasting is about appreciating uncertainty. Forecasting gives a context for decision-makers to act in the face of uncertainty. In the business world, uncertainty is our friend, because uncertainty is opportunity."

~ Paul Saffo, a veteran forecaster who explores the impact of long-term technological change on society;

[Here's a link to a belated article, which is worth reading, entitled 'How to Forecast the Future' in Computerworld, based on an interview with Paul Saffo.]

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

If I am going to be up to something why not be up to something great?

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"In reality, strategy is less than half the battle... in the majority of cases we estimate 70% of the real problem isn't [bad strategy]... It's bad execution."

~ Ram Charan, internationally acclaimed success coach to Fortune 500 companies;

Monday, August 17, 2009

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

How can I live my best life?

What purpose in life do I hope to serve?

How can I create the most life-changing impact on my business, my family, & myself?

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"One journey of wise steps is all you need in a lifetime; a thousand miles is just an option."

~ Author Unknown;

Sunday, August 16, 2009

SPOTLIGHT: HEALTH MATTERS


As far as I know, health tops the list of current concerns among Singaporeans, followed by economic prospects & job security, particularly from the standpoint of being financially prepared to deal with uncertainties.

In fact, health is an issue that Singaporeans don't take lightly. There are many national drives & numerous roadshows e.g. cut smoking, prevent obesity, balance work/life, & even increase procreativity rates, in Singapore to promote healthy living in the country, which is encouraged by the government.

Although we may have one of the best health care systems in the world, according to WHO, Singaporeans are generally very concerned about rising health & medical costs.

LEARN TO BE OBSERVANT

A lecturer teaching medicine was tutoring a class on 'Observation'.

He took out a jar of yellow-colored liquid. "This", he explained, "is urine. To be a doctor, you have to be observant to color, smell, sight, and taste."

After saying this, he dipped his finger into the jar and put it into his mouth. His class watched on in amazement, most, in disgust.

But being the good students that they were, the jar was passed, and one by one, they dipped one finger into the jar and then put it into their mouth.

After the last student was done, the lecturer shook his head.

"If any of you had been observant, you would have noticed that I put my second finger into the jar and my third finger into my mouth."

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"We think so because other people all think so; or because - or because - after all we do think so or because we were told so, & think we must think so; or because we once thought so, & think we still think so; or because, having thought so, we think we will think so..."

~ Henry Sidgwick (1838-1900), English philosopher; one of the most influential ethical philosophers of the Victorian era, with his masterpiece, 'The Methods of Ethics' (1907/1874);

10 VITAL SKILLS TO HELP ENHANCE YOUR EMPLOYABILITY IN THE 21ST CENTURY

According to Karla Brandau, an expert in change, leadership & team building in the flat world, here are the 10 vital skills you would definitely need to help enhance your employability in the 21st Century:

1) Constantly adapt to technology:

Dependency on technology in the future will increase, not decrease. Spend time learning new computer programs but more importantly, make applications to your daily routine and strive to use technology as an enabler of productivity, not as a neat new toy with tons of cute features that you don’t use.

To decide if the new gadget is worth the time, ask yourself, “Does this make time or waste time?”

2) Embrace diversity:

Get comfortable with other ethnic cultures, religions and customs. Be curious about what makes people from other cultures tick. Learn a little about the customs and attitudes that belong to workers from other countries.

The time will be well spent as you begin to relate human to human, not human to inhabitant of another country.

3) Be a life-long learner:

When you finished your last college course did you utter a sigh of relief and mumble something like, “Whew, glad I’m finished with my education!” Surprise…the new century will require you to be a continuous learner.

Be prepared to reinvent yourself, the pool of information in your brain and your work-related skills every 4-5 years.

4) Practice impeccable integrity:

Employers need to feel your spirit and have the quiet assurance that you are honest. Even one person in an organization who takes advantage of company assets for personal gain causes untold rules and regulations.

Taking integrity beyond just simple honesty, however, means that when you commit to a deadline, you are fully committed to producing results, not excuses.

5) Be a self-starter:

Fire yourself up or look forward to being the first to go when bottom lines dip into the red, a recession lurks around the corner or the next merger takes place.

Those who learn to work on the optimistic side of life not the pessimistic side of life, are more valuable to the organization as they create a positive work environment that produces higher productivity.

6) Demonstrate personal discipline:

Employers want to hire people who have disciplined work habits and disciplined thinking. The more disciplined the worker, the less time managers must spend rethinking, retracing and reworking…basically worrying if you will be reliable.

When you demonstrate personal discipline, you and your manager can spend more time on solving problems and moving the company forward.

7) Prioritize and evaluate daily:

Two of the biggest time wasters in the world are not knowing where to start when you get to work in the morning and working on low priority items.

To compete in the global work environment takes meticulous prioritization of tasks and the ability to identify the highest priority item that you tackle first every morning.

8) Be adaptable:

To stave off obsolescence, organizations must constantly change and regularly introduce change initiatives. Often employee resistance derails plans for updating processes and procedures and stalls company progress.

To increase employability in 2010, learn to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Ask tough questions that define the future and actively look for ways to support the new change initiatives.

9) Think creatively and innovatively:

Contributing to your organization in 2010 demands thinking outside of the box and looking for creative ways to solve nagging problems, increase productivity or produce a new product or service.

When a challenge presents itself, be the first to offer a new viewpoint, discover an alternative or recommend another course of action. Your ideas combined with the creative ideas from other employees will help your organization renew itself as necessary to be competitive in the 21st Century.

10) Have the Can-Do attitude:

Immerse yourself in all the available positive mental attitude material you can find. Negatives are thrown at you the entire day from the news, next door neighbors and the nerd in the next cubicle. Teams face hurdles to productivity which causes dissention among members.

Management faces stockholder dissatisfaction and product deadlines. To compound the problem, your mind naturally generates negative thoughts before positive thoughts. You have to train your mind to see the positive, to find the positive and to see the opportunity lurking in the obstacle.

If you can master the positive can-do attitude, you will add value to every thing you touch and be more employable in an increasing negative world.

LEADERSHIPS SKILLS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY

Dr Ram Charan, an acclaimed business advisor who has worked behind the scenes coaching some of the world’s successful CEOs at companies like GE, DuPont, EDS, & Ford, was recently in Singapore to deliver the 28th SIM Annual Management Lecture on 'Leadership in the Raging Economic Cyclone: New Rules for Thriving in Difficult Times & Beyond'.

I didn't attend the event, but my good friend, Dilip Mukerjea, did. He was very impressed by the astute observations of this great thinker.

Apparently, he is well-known for his practical, real-world perspectives. His expertise runs deep in several areas of business: Profitable Growth, Leadership, Global Strategy, Innovation, Succession & Leadership Pipeline, Business Acumen, Execution, Global Matrix Organization, Board of Directors & Accountability, & Top Management Teams.

Dr Charan has written several books. One of them is 'Leadership in the Era of Economic Uncertainty', which I had already reviewed in an earlier post.

Nonetheless, I have also managed to glean some useful stuff on the net about Ram Charan's thoughts on leadership.

He recommends the following signposts to watch for when gauging desirable traits in a leader:

• Ambition - to achieve but not to win at all costs;

• Drive and tenacity - to search & persist, but not to hold on too long;

• Self-confidence - to overcome fear of failure but not to become arrogant;

• Psychological openness - to be receptive to new ideas & not shut people down;

• Realism - to see what can be accomplished but not gloss over problems;

• Appetite for learning - to continue to grow and improve & not repeat mistakes;


He considers the following eight essential skills for effective business leadership:

• Ability to nimbly position & reposition the business;

• Ability to detect & pinpoint external changes relevant to the business;

• Ability to achieve better results by taking the reins of the business's social system;

• Ability to judge & assess people & match them to their job demands;

• Ability to mold an effective team;

• Ability to set ambitious yet realistic goals;

• Ability to establish laser-sharp priorities to achieve the predetermined goals;

• Ability to anticipate and respond to social forces that can affect the business;


He also outlines the key cognitive traits that are essential for know-how:

• A wide range of altitudes - to transition from the conceptual to the specific. Think of it as the ability to view the functioning of a business from the highest echelons to the down-on-the-ground activities.

• A broad cognitive bandwidth - to take in a broad range of input and see the big picture. "Cognitive bandwidth" is a term that the author uses over and over, stressing its importance in ever-evolving 21st century patterns of business. Always look for the next emerging trend coming around the corner.

• Ability to reframe - to see things from different perspectives. One of the worst mistakes a manager can make is to think in a linear way. Listen to others in the organization, remain open to new ideas, and never view a person as "someone who can do no right" or "someone who can do no wrong."

By the way, Dilip has done a beautiful splash map of his leadership stuff in the 'Braindancing Smorgasbord' weblog. Here's the link.

SIMPLE PLEASURES

The following advisory came from my friendly personal banker, OCBC, via their bi-monthly magazine, 'Ask OCBC: About Planning for Your Tomorrow', August-September 2009:

New habits and a change in attitudes can vastly improve the quality of your life. Make a difference with these 10 simple tips.

1. Rise Early:

That precious few minutes of snoozing does you more harm than good. Instead of rushing out every day, try waking up 15 minutes earlier. Do some stretching exercises, sit down for breakfast or simply take your time to psych up for the day ahead.

2. Explore and Experience:

Stop camping in front of the telly or computer. Get outdoors to appreciate nature, engage in a fun sport or travel to exotic regions for a refreshing experience

3. Deal with Detractors:

Ignore negative people who make you feel unworthy, even if it’s well-intentioned. Surround yourself with positive and supportive people who share your vision and dreams.

4. Boost Your Brain Power:

Mind-enriching and challenging games like Sudoku and crossword puzzles are great for a good mental workout. Brain games can increase mental abilities such as processing speed and reaction time.

5. Lose An Argument:

Winning doesn’t always bring joy. Instead of fighting to be right all the time, seek to understand from a different perspective. You’ll be much happier.

6. Start with a Smile:

Smile even if you’ve no reason to, because it will actually make you feel better. Research shows that smiling relieves stress and can increase the efficiency of your immune system. It also helps to lower blood pressure and release feel-good chemicals called endorphins into your blood stream to lift your mood.

7. Build An Emergency Fund:

It’s never too early to be prepared for life’s uncertainties, given the rough economic climate. Be realistic, start small and find a savings plan that fits your lifestyle so you have the confidence to see it through.

8. Find Time to Meditate:

Quiet time alone does wonders to relax, bring calm and restore your frazzled nerves to sanity. Or play some soft music to sooth your senses. Do this twice a week for half an hour

9. Retire Early:

That sounds like a far-fetched dream for most people but it’s definitely achievable if you have a sound investment portfolio and a well-thought out plan. So, start thinking

10. Cycle your way to fitness:

Riding a bike helps to improve your muscular strength and blood circulation. Cover 30km per week and it reduces the risk of coronary heart diseases by half. Plus, it’s a good way to relieve stress.

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

If I were given the actual structural design for how the universe works, how would I use it?

What would I create with it?

Who would I be?

What would I do differently?

~ from a promotional material in connection with spiritual master Jeddah Mai's 'Seeds of Enlightenment';

A MATTER OF PUNCTUATION

An English teacher wrote the words:

"Woman without her man is nothing."

on the blackboard & directed his student to punctuate it correctly.

The boys wrote:

"Woman, without her man, is nothing."

The girls wrote:

"Woman! without her, man is nothing."