Saturday, March 13, 2010

RANDOM SPOTLIGHT: ZERO FLAWS


As an engineer by training, I can understand 'Zero Flaws', & all that jazz like Taguchi Method, Robust Design, & Quality Assurance.

However, to relate 'Zero Flaws' as an end-result to cosmetics or skincare products, that's something very intriguing for me.

Am I correct to assume that today's cosmetics or skincare products have reached such high-definition sophistication that they can fully minimised all the natural flaws on your skin - pores, fine lines & uneven skin?

RANDOM SPOTLIGHT: BIOMIMICRY@WORK


TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"Do something. Do something to that, & then do something to that. Pretty soon you've got something!"

~ Jasper Johns, painter;

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTION TO PONDER)

What do I always think about, talk about, live?

Friday, March 12, 2010

USING BAROQUE MUSIC IN THE BACKGROUND WHILE READING

Again, this is a continuation of my earlier post pertaining to high performance reading.

In this post, I am talking about the use of Baroque music in the background.

For reading, especially difficult subjects, choose the Largo movements among the Baroque selections. A good one to start will be Pachelbel's Canon in D Major.

For reviews/revisions, I recommend the Pastorale selections, which are primarily piano pieces, although most Classical selections are equally good.

I reckon the best producer of the Baroque music selections - specially sequenced for learning & relaxation - is the Lind Institute, based in San Francisco. You can do a Google search.

Alternatively, go to a any good music shop in town that sells Baroque & Classical music. Ask them to single out the Baroque music selections for you.

As far as I know, Baroque music generally comprises 4 movements:

- Largo (the slowest of them all);
- Adagio;
- Pastorale;
- Andante;

Besides Pachelbel, other Baroque composers include Albinoni, Caudioso, Scarlatti, Vivaldi, Handel, Mozart, Gluck, Pergolesi, Corelli, & J S Bach.

As music is sometimes very personal, you probably have to try them out for yourself.

Don't forget to experiment with New Age music. My personal favourites are Ray Lynch, Steve Halpern, Yanni, van gelis, Ravi Shankar, Kitaro (except the noisy drums).

The only difference between them is that New Age music is "electronically synthesised", while Baroque music involves classical music instruments, like the harpischord, other than the fact that New Age is more contemporary.

Baroque music goes back to the 17th & 18th century, the eras of which had been considered the most productive in the history of human civilisation.

BECOMING PROACTIVE AS WELL AS ACTIVE IN YOUR READING PURSUITS

This is actually a companion piece to my earlier blogpost pertaining to video-based learning strategy, which I have shared with a blog reader, Elliot.

I thought it would be useful to be replicated here - with a minor edit - for my other blog readers.

1. Don't use any biaural beat & isochronic tone music in your reading/studying. Because of their brainwave entrainment & frequency following response, they are good for quick stress reduction.

However, you can use them as a preamble to your reading endeavour.

2. I suggest you use Baroque & some selections of New Age music in the background, while you read or study. Because the music is designed for an ambient environment, it does not interfere with your reading or studying.

3. If you have ceiling lights installed in the form of flourescent tubes, I suggest you get hold of a 3M polarising reading lamp to be used over your reading surface.

Flourescent tubes generate strobe effects, which interfere with the eye/brain connection.

4. Use your regular relaxation routines or meditation sequences as a preamble to creating a resourceful mind/body state for reading & studying.

5. I suggest having a scratchpad to go with your reading endeavour. If you have rambling thoughts, just jot them down.

Of course, you can also use it to capture any interesting thoughts that may come to mind while you are reading.

I always have an idea scratchpad by my side whenever I read.

7. Before reading, especially important text, set out your principal purpose.

8. Do a quick survey of the chapter or book, especially when it is a new chapter or book.

The purpose is to allow you to generate a rough idea about the layout of the book & the various parts e.g. headings/subheadings, that make up the chapter or book.

[In military jargon, this is your reconnaissance patrol.].

More importantly, it allows you to activate your prior knowledge, so that you can connect what you are reading or learning about with what you already know.

9. Learn to segregate "core material" from "elaborative material" when you read. "Core material" refer to key concepts, principles, definitions, laws, theorems, rules, terminology, etc.

"Elaborative material" refers to ilustrations, examples, anecdotes, etc.

In terms of academic text, 80% of exam questions generally come from "core material".

10. Turn each heading/subheading in the chapter or book into a question (?) when you read. Doing this automatically sets your brain into search mode for the answer.

Use the 5W1H questioning framework.

[From your quick survey, you probably will come across end-of-chapter questions or discussion questions, especially in academic texts.]

Having questions in your head keep you "awake" in a sense.

11. Learn to understand text organisational patterns & signal words.


Every academic discipline has its own patterns of organisation.

With the understanding of patterns, it is much easier for you to look for the relevant key ideas.

12. Use a pacer to go with your reading. The pacer helps to "direct" your eye-balls.

More importantly, the physical act of using a pacer (it can be your finger, a pencil or a a colur marker; my personal favourite is an orange-colour marker) helps you to focus.

13. Annotate as you read. That is, highlight/underline/circle/write notes in the margin as you read. This facilitates your "interactive dialogue" with the author.

You can also use whatever white space in the book to draw simple micro-maps to pull out key ideas next to the passage.

When you come across an important passage, containing the key ideas, draw two parallel vertical lines, & mark an "asterisk" next to it. If it is an important definition, just mark 'DefN' in the margin next to it.

When a particular passage "bugs" you in terms of understanding, just write a question mark next to it so that you can come back to it after you have finished reading the entire text. By doing it, you avoid getting stuck midway of your reading.

The same applies to any conflicting passage you may come across.

When a particular passage refers to an earlier passage, write the page it refers to & jot down some notes for comparison/contrast.

Whe examples are given in a particular passage, try to enumerate them accordingly.

When a particular passage calls for action, list out the actions in the margins, in bullet points, & write A2T (Action to Take) or T2D (Things to Do) next to the passage.

When a particular passage "intrigues" or "puzzles" you in some way, write P2P (Points to Ponder) next to the passage.

When you come across interesting snippets, just draw two parallel vertical lines next to the passage, & mark "Interesting!" or draw a light bulb.

To me, marginal annotations serve as powerful aids to reading. All fast readers practise this methodology.

Be creative with your marginal annotations!!! No book is sacred.

When you go back to review the chapter or book, all you need to do is to go through your marginal annotations.

As a matter of fact, all your marginal annotations will eventually form the important "raw materials" for your map of the chapter or global map for the book. Revision thus becomes a breeze!

14. Remember, the hand is always the cutting edge of the mind. A resourceful mind/body state is only part of the reading equation. You need to take a proactive as well as an active role in the reading process as described above.

15. Pause every 15-20 minutes to review what you have just read. Make this a habit.

Remember the primacy & recency effects when one reads a book.

16. Reading, as my good friend Dilip Mukerjea has described so eloquently in his book, 'Unleashing Genius with the World Most Powerful Learning Systems', is an active, dynamic process.

In his book, Dilip offers a whole gamut of different reading strategies for professionals as well as students.

Readers are welcome to get hold of a copy of 'Unleashing Genius', which you can easily procure from Kinokuniya Bookstores.

INTRODUCING AN EFFECTIVE VIDEO-BASED LEARNING STRATEGY

What follows below is actually an effective video-based learning strategy, which I have recently shared with a blog reader, Elliot. He has approached me via email for expert assistance in helping him to be a better learner.

I thought it would be useful for my other blog readers.

For video-based learning, I like to recommend you to try the following adapted K-W-L reading comprehension strategy. K-W-L was originally developed in the United States to help kids navigate their reading journey through books.

Let's call it K-W-L-H-W.

Take out a blank sheet of paper. Turn it horizontally. Draw 5 vertical columns, as follows:

From left, Column 1, write: what do I KNOW about the subject?

Column 2: what do I WANT TO LEARN/find out about the subject?

Column 3: what have I LEARNED so far?

Column 4: HOW can I apply it?

Column 5: WHAT ELSE do I need to learn/find out?

My comments:

Column 1 is for activating your prior knowledge; learning takes place when you are able to connect something new to something you already know;

Column 2 is for you to organise your learning pursuits, which you can get an idea from the brief synopsis appended to the video;

Column 3 is for you to capture & review what you have learned;

Column 4 is for you to make use of the learned information & to think of possible applications;

Column 5 is for you to identify what else is needed, probably in terms of further research, to complete your learning pursuits; it's also for any questions or lingering thoughts that may come to your mind;

By putting the foregoing methodology to work consistently, you are taking a proactive as well as an active approach in your learning pursuits. You are in fact also taking a deep interest in your learning pursuits.

Interest permeates all learning!

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"We are all too much inclined to walk through life with our eyes shut. There are things all around us, & right at our very feet, that we have never seen, because we have never really looked."

~ Alexander Graham Bell, one of America's greatest inventors who gave the world the telephone;

PRAGMATIC INSIGHTS FROM THE EXPERTS

"Every single moment has a particular rhythm to it, & we have the capacity to expand or contract an individual moment as appropriate. One way to shift what's going on in our world is not to try to rush to do more, but to allow ourselves to go deeper into that moment of being present. Our ability to shift gears, to shift our rhythm to meet that moment & be present in it, is what allows us to experience the fullness of life."

~ Stephan Rechtschaffen, co-founder of the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies & author of 'Timeshifting: A Revolutionary New Approach to Creating More Time for Your Life';

Thursday, March 11, 2010

WHAT YOU CAN DO: NINE STEPS TO MAKING THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE


For a detailed description of the nine steps, please proceed to the source, by clicking it.

[Source: Dave Pollard]

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance."

~ Chinese master teacher & sage Confucius;

THE MALE PSYCHE

As an addendum to my earlier post regarding the recent Jack Neo's scandal, I have found this fascinating snippet on the net, which gives an amusing perspective of the male psyche:

"Men are like bananas... the older they get the less firm they are...

It's just that doing it with the same old $%#* makes it less firm.

Ask the younger ones that your hubby goes out with, they will tell you it is hard rock, Baby! "

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTION TO PONDER)

What am I trying to manifest right now?

What tools & strategies am I using to achieve this?

Am I 100% sure that I am doing it right or do I need help?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

THE INSIDE STORY: UNDERSTANDING THE POWER OF FEELINGS

Readers can go to link to download a belated but excellent article, in pdf format, from the Heartmath people.

In a nut shell, it explains the three-part brain, & the significant interplay with our emotional memories, our nervous system, and heart-brain communication.

What I like about it is that it offers three simple strategies - Freeze Frame, Cut Thru & Heart Lockin - which readers can learn quickly to change the way you feel by generating uplifting feelings that allow your nervous system, heart, and brain to work together harmoniously.

I first came across the scientifically-proven Freeze Frame inner-fitness system way back in the mid-90's, when I was retailing Heartmath publications & other products in my now-defunct office/store at the North Bridge Centre.

Since then, it has always helped me to stay sane in an insane world.

My personal suggestion: Explore, play & experiment with an open mind.

ASPIRING LEADERS: STAY FOCUSED ON THE BIG PICTURE

The following expert advisory, drawn from real-world hard-knocks experiences, comes from strategy consultant Steve Tobak, who writes regularly under the byline: 'The Corner Office: Taking on the big questions facing CEOs, boards, and shareholders', in the BNET Insight weblog:

1) Don’t be small minded and petty.

2) Don’t compare yourself to others.

3) Don’t pay any attention to what other people make or what they’re doing or not doing.

4) Stick your neck out on the highest profile projects you can.

5) Tell your bosses and customers that you’re going to the ends of the earth to make them successful.

6) Then work your tail off and, come hell or high water, make it happen.

Here's the link to his original blogpost.

THE TAO OF RICHARD SAUL WURMAN

1. Information must be Understandable, or it’s just Data;

2. Understanding is Power;

3. Success comes from Understanding Failure;

4. Clarity leads to Real Change;

5. Learning is Remembering What Interests You;

6. Make Connections between Your Interests;

7. To Understand Something, Empty Your Preconceptions;

8. Sell Your Ignorance: Sell Your Curiosity;

9. Design Your Life to ensure that Everyday is Interesting;

10. Leadership is Having an Idea and Explaining it Clearly;


[Source: Salum International]

[Richard Saul Wurman is one of my favourite authors. Among his many books, I have owned & read his 'Follow the Yellow Brick Road: Learning to Give, Take, & Use Instructions', 'Information Anxiety', 'Information Anxiety II', 'Information Architects' & 'Information Design'.

Readers can go to this link to read my review of 'Information Anxiety I & II'.

Much of my personal understanding about information mastery or rather surviving information overload came from his books.]

PRAGMATIC INSIGHTS FROM THE EXPERTS

"We are coming to understand health not as the absence of disease, but rather as the process by which individuals maintain their sense of coherence (i.e. sense that life is comprehensible, manageable, & meaningful) & ability to function in the face of changes in themselves & their relationships with their environment."

— Aaron Antonovsky, 'Unraveling the Mystery of Health: How People Manage Stress & Stay Well';

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"The message is that there are no knowns. There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know."

~ former US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld;

WOMAN NO ENOUGH: JACK NEO'S NEW MOVIE PROJECT

Not too long ago... far, far away... the whole world came to know that internationally acclaimed champion golfer Tiger Woods was whacked by his Swedish wife, Elin Nordegren, with a golf club after she had discovered his many extra-marital romps.

Just last week... closer to home... a local tabloid, Lianhe Zaobao, shocked the nation with the revelation that our locally acclaimed comedian-turned-movie maker Jack Neo, 50+, married with 4 kids, got entangled in a two-year extra-marital tryst involving a young model-actress, Wendy Chong, 22.

[Jack Neo rose to fame because of his several commercially successful 'Money No Enough' & 'I No Stupid' movies, among others.

Ironically, his latest movie, 'Being Human', is currently still showing in Singapore's cinemas.

It seems that the line between the reel world & the real world doesn't exist.]

Why did the two smart guys, with their wholesome public image, do it?

More specifically, why do men do it?

One of my social buddies has offered an interesting explanation. He calls it the Rooster Effect, drawing from a book he has read.

The book is 'Why Men Don't Listen & Women Can't Read Maps', by the husband-&-wife team, Allan & Barbara Pease.

Here is a quick recap from the book, with fascinating analogies from the animal kingdom:

1) A rooster is a very randy male bird, which can copulate with hens almost incessantly, more than 60 times in a given mating. He cannot, however, mate with the same hen more than 5 times in one day.

By the sixth time, he completely loses interest & cannot ‘get it up’ but, if he is presented with a new hen, he can mount her with the same enthusiasm he did with the first.

This is known as the ‘Rooster Effect’.

2) A bull will lose interest after copulating 7 times with the same cow, but can be fired up again by the introduction of a new one. By the time he reaches the tenth new cow, he is still giving an impressive performance.

3) A ram will not mount the same ewe more than 5 times, but can continue to mount new ewes with tremendous zeal.

Even when the ram’s former sexual partners are disguised with perfume or bags over their heads, the ram still cannot perform. You just cannot fool them.

This is nature’s way of ensuring that the male’s seed is spread as widely as possible in order to achieve the highest number of conceptions & ensure the survival of that species.

4) A healthy young man can also go around 3 times with the same woman on a good day but will usually fail to give a fourth encore.

Introduce a new female however, &, like roosters & bulls, his interest (along with the vital part of his anatomy) can rapidly rise.

It seems that, biologically speaking, & with due respects to the ladies, men's brains are already prewired for 'Variety is the Spice of Life' philosophy.

Does that mean 'cheating' is a man's prerogative? I really don't know.

All I know is that, just before I got married during the early 80's, I had heard a piece of smart advice, during a regular sales managers' meeting, from the late Datuk Eric Chia, my Big Boss at that time in the UMW Group:

"Don't eat & shit at the same place!"

You can interprete it in as many ways as you want, but the message was - & is still - very clear to me:

Don't fool around with your second most important organ.

By the way, according to newspaper reports, Jack Neo has promised to "tell all" once the "storm has settled down". I reckon he certainly has a lot of excellent raw material for his new movie project, 'Woman No Enough'.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

“Achieving goals by themselves will never make us happy in the long term... It's who you become, as you overcome the obstacles necessary to achieve your goals that can give you the deepest and most long-lasting sense of fulfillment.”

~ internationally-acclaimed peak performance coach Anthony Robbins;

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTION TO PONDER)

The 3 Magic Bedtime Questions:

1. What is one thing I am grateful for today?

2. What do I look forward to tomorrow?

3. What would I like to dream about tonight?


[Source: Lance Ong]

PRAGMATIC INSIGHTS FROM THE EXPERTS

"Everything that we see we think of as information - it depends on how you define the word. To me I define the word information' in a very rich way because most of the time the word is made up of the word 'inform'. And if something doesn't inform you, if it isn't understandable, then it's not information to me; it's data. And you certainly can be overloaded with data if you think you should understand it, because it gives you anxiety."

~ information architect Richard Saul Wurman;

Monday, March 8, 2010

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTION TO PONDER)

Four Questions that Will Change Your Life:

• Who are you and what do you want?

• Where are you and why are you here?

• What will you do and how will you do it?

• Who are your allies and how can they help?


[Source: 'Who Are You? What Do You Want?', by Mick Ukleja.]

7 SURVIVAL STRATEGIES FOR THE 21ST CENTURY

According to the book, 'The Capitalist Spirit: How Each and Every One of Us Can Make A Giant Difference in Our Fast-Changing World', by Yale Hirsch, founder of the Hirsch Organization & creator of the Stock Trader's Almanac, the following basic skills are considered critical for work, learning & citizenship in the 21st Century:

1) Critical Thinking & Problem Solving;

2) Collaboration Across Networks & Leading by Influence;

3) Agility & Adaptability;

4) Initiative & Entrepreneurism;

5) Effective Oral & Written Communication;

6) Accessing & Analysing Information;

7) Curiosity & Imagination;

BOOK REVIEW: 'MIND CHI', by Richard Israel & Vanda North

My good friend Dilip Mukerjea has recently passed on the foregoing book to me to read. He makes no comments, but just wants me to read it.

In essence, the book reads more like a self-help book about executing personal change & enhancing personal effectiveness.

In that respect, the 50 strategies over 8 areas as offered in the second half of the book probably form the greatest takeaways for readers, even though they are not ground-breaking, to say the least.

In fairness to the two authors, I can see there are some interesting insights embedded in the strategies.

Also, the 8 steps process in the book is generally workable. If you are already familiar with mindfulness & reframing training, then the process is actually no big deal.

In reality, I like to stick to the scientifically-proven FREEZE FRAME inner fitness systems which I had learned & practised since the mid-nineties from the fabulous Heartmath people. It takes only a minute to power-up, or change your perspective! Readers can check out their corporate website, which is a goldmine of pragmatic insights.

However, what irks me most is the apparent "entangled web" of so-called 'Mind Chi' derivatives or should I say "mumbo jumbo": meme, basic, program, action, maps, BEAT, vehicle, mentor, etc. Plus, the authors love to use a lot of fancy acronyms to jazz up their writing, with no value added to the overall work.

A good case in point: the authors mention bloom maps, flow maps, extendo maps, minimaps, multimaps, megamaps & fullmaps in the book. I don't see their relevance to the subject as the authors make no attempt to illustrate the intellectual relevancy. The maps would certaintly be great if they were used in the book, instead of just talking about them.

At times, I have also found the seemingly overwhelming use of colourful maps on opposite left-hand pages rather distracting.

To me, the deliberate dovetailing of proven change strategies from Ellis, Fritz, & others are just to throw in some legitimacy or credibility to the authors' synthesis in the book.

Also, in my view, I have this feeling that even the authors themselves are rather confused by the term "chi". At one point, they refer to it as "mental energy". At another point, they refer it as one's "inner voice" to serve as a guide. How can that be?

In the end analysis, I don't think the "chi" aspect has been addressed fairly & properly.

Maybe they just want to add in the esoteric aspects of Eastern philosophy to attract or "hookwink" more American readers.

Actually, the idea of "energy management" from the authors, which obviously forms the principal premise of their book, is not new.

It has already been established that performance excellence, happy disposition & good health are often grounded in the skillful management of energy at every level: physical, emotional, mental & spiritual.

As a matter of fact, to stay sane in a stressful world like ours, one needs to be physically energised, emotionally connected, mentally focused, & spiritually aligned.

I reckon, one of the earlier competent authors who have covered it, more professionally & systematically, is peak performance psychologist Jim Loehr. He wrote the classic book, 'The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, not Time is the Key to High Performance & Personal Renewal' (2004).

In fact, I am quite tempted to say that Richard Israel & Vanda North have, to a great extent, ripped off from Jim Loehr's book, because of the many similarities in approach to the subject.

Another annoying point is that their corporate website offers no useful information at all other than calling people to sign up as Mind Chi instructors.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

'YOU CAN CREATE WEALTH': HYPERBOLE OR UNDERSTATEMENT?

I have recently received an email invitation to attend an evening preview of 'You Can Create Wealth' seminar in a local hotel from the organiser, based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

What has intrigued me most are the following contradictory statements:

"More than 65,000 participants have attended..." at the beginning of the email;

"More than 70,000 participants have been mentored..." next to the cv of the Master Trainer;

Strangely, I just wonder where did the additional 5,000 mysterious participants come from?

Most interestingly, the Master Trainer is reportedly a Chartered Accountant.

If he couldn't reconcile his own "numbers", how could he teach participants "wealth creation" principles?

My pragmatic take is this: people who proclaim to teach "wealth creation" principles often do not create wealth from the methods they preach. Their so-called "wealth" obviously comes from the many lucrative seminars they run or the numerous books they sell.

Personally, I know of a very well-known trainer who often goes around advertising about the first million he has acquired before the age of 30, while practising the 'wealth dynamics' methods he teaches.

The real truth came from the horse's mouth (before he became famous): The main bulk of the first million came from his mother.

It is sad that there are intelligent people out there who are still gullible to "get rich schemes" from spurious purveyors.