Saturday, January 5, 2008


According to Charles Garfield, who has done extensive research in the field of human potential, particularly from the standpoint of professional as well as personal productivity, for more than two decades, these are the key attributes of peak performers:

1) motivated towards results by a personal mission;

2) possess the twin capacity of self management & team mastery;

3) have the ability to correct course & manage change;


According to Edward de bono, who interviewed a ragtag group of successful people including, to name a few, Malcolm Forbes (publisher), Herman Kahn (futurist), Paul MacCready (inventor/entrepreneur), Mark McCormack (consultant), Sir Clive Sinclair (inventor/entrepreneur), Jackie Stewart (racing driver), Sting (singer), Werner Erhard (success coach), Rafer Johnson (Olympic sportsman), more than twenty years ago, 'success' could not be restricted to a single definition.

Insights from the interviews were covered in his book, 'Tactics: The Art & Science of Success'.

He nevertheless summarised 'success principles' as complex constellations of factors & characteristics. He would rather leave them to the reader to assemble in any way he/she wanted.

In spite of the huge differences in styles & approaches, he acknowledged that there seemed to be some strong underlying agreements on success principles:

- a positive attitude;
- knowing what you want to do;
- make the most of your own talent;
- energy, persistence, determination & single-mindedness seem important in all cases;
- there is always action i.e. take a step &; then the next step;
- a sense of integrity toward yourself & others;
- an expectation of success & the ability to think big;
- ability to set goals & targets, & also to have dreams;
- creativity & the ability to see things differently & to think new thoughts;
- both a seizing of opportunities & also a creation of opportunities;
- eagerness & enthusiasm & the willingness to make things happen;


"The starting point of all significant change is mindset."
(Tom Peters)


I got back to Singapore only yesterday evening, after spending slightly more than three weeks in Vietnam, together with my wife. We flew by Tiger Airways.

I fell in love with Vietnam following my first visit to the beautiful country in late 2003. I met my wife. who is Vietnamese, in mid-2004, & after a whirlwind romancing period, we got married in early 2005.

Since then, I have been back five times, including the recent visit.

We flew into the newly opened Tan Son Nhat International Airport, located 7km from Ho Chi Minh city, on 11th December 2007, in advance preparation of a group visit by my buddies, mostly from the Wednesday Club, who flew in on 15th December. It was a first time visit for the group.

Together, we spent a day touring My Tho, a city located on the second largest 'rice bowl' of Vietnam: the Mekong Delta. (The first one is the Red River delta in the north.) The delta is a vast hinterland. It's criss-crossed by nine tributaries of the Mekong River. To the Vietnamese people, this was the home ground of the legendary Nine Dragons (Cuu Long), which provided shelter to the early settlers.

On the third day, we traveled by an air-conditioned coach - which took almost eight hours, with breaks in between - to Dalat, a mountain resort discovered by the French, located on the southern end of the central highlands, where we spent two nights. The weather in Dalat was great, cool just like Cameron Highlands in Malaysia.

In Dalat, the group really had a great time, during which they had the opportunity to savour some exotic wild game in the mountain valley of Langbian, on the edge of the emerald Tuyen Lam lake. Also, the group's visit happened to coincide with the annual flower festival in the city.

The group spend two more nights in Ho Chi Minh city, during which they visited the famous Ben Thanh Market, including the night market, as well as Cholon, the Chinatown of Ho Chi Minh city. In Cholon, we also had the opportunity to savour some steaming hot porridge with pig organs & duck meat, a popular cuisine of the local Chinese folks.

On the eve of the group's departure on 21st December, my wife & her two younger sisters gave a farewell dinner of raw oysters, steamed snails, deep-fried elephant ear fish, & steamed flower crabs at their private residence in the Tan Quy district. The group later adjourned to the 10th (rooftop) floor of the expensive Caravel Hotel for some live music.

In appreciation, the group gave my wife, who had personally organised the entire itinerary, a wonderful gift: an uMoments sound therapy device from OSIM.

I am still glad to note that my buddies from the Wednesday Club had really enjoyed themselves - sightseeing, eating & shopping plus massaging - in Vietnam.

On 28th December, my wife & I, together with a few of her relatives, visited the beach resort of Vung Tau, located 130 km south of Ho Chi Minh city. It's very popular among the locals, especially during the weekends.

We took a public bus & the ride, stretching 2-1/2 hours, was quite bumpy. We spent two nights there, in a four-storey guest house near the beach, which provided reasonably comfortable accommodation. My wife & her relatives brought along cooking utensils & so we have delicious home-cooked seafood all the time.

Vung Tau certainly has a beautiful beach, but I reckon it's not as great as Nha Trang. which I had visited twice in earlier visits.

For the second time, I had spent my Christmas & New Year holidays in Vietnam. Unlike Singapore, these festive seasons in Vietnam were comparatively quiet.

Nevertheless, during this latest trip, my wife & I found a new cosy hangout for ourselves during the mornings as well as evenings. It's called Heaven Land, located just a short ride away by motor bike from where we stayed in Ho Chi Minh city. It serves great Vietnamese coffee & tea snacks.

A detailed travelogue will follow in subsequent posts to share with readers my recent travelling adventures in Vietnam.

[Next: Vietnam at a Glance]