Saturday, February 23, 2008






The follow notes are taken from my scratchpad:

- data are distinct pieces of information usually formatted in a special way: binary machine readable - data files (binary data); textual human readable - text files (ASCII data);

- data can exist in many forms: i) numbers, or text on paper; ii) bits & bytes stored in electronic memory; iii) facts store in a person's mind;

- in computing, data is information that has been translated into a form i.e. more convenient to move or process;

- generally in science, data is a gathered body of facts;

- data has no story - it's just stuff!

- but if we examine data through a viewpoint & give it a story, it becomes information;

- information feeds back altering both data gathering & viewpoint;

- the interactions are an iterative cycle;

- data is indifferent to use & takes on the characteristic of a medium of exchange;

- by itself, data is neutral & not inherently useful;

- when you use tools & business processes to make data useful, you create information;

- one key way to create information is to create a viewpoint into data that contains a subset of data that is useful for one or more groups of users;

- knowledge is created when you provide actionable information to the user;

- every event is neutral, you attach an emotion to it;

- "We can't control our emotions, we can, however, control how long they last." (Benjamin Franklin)


Finagle’s First Law:

If an experiment works, something has gone wrong.

Finagle’s Second Law:

No matter what the anticipated result, there will always be someone eager to

(a) misinterpret it,
(b) fake it, or
(c) believe it happened according to his own pet theory.

Finagle’s Third Law:

In any collection of data, the figure most obviously correct, beyond all need of checking, is the mistake.

Finagle’s Fourth Law:

Once a job is fouled up, anything done to improve it only makes it worse.

Finagle’s Creed:

Science is true. Don’t be misled by facts.

Corollaries on mistakes:

1. Nobody whom you ask for help will see it.

2. The first person who stops by, whose advice you really don’t want to hear, will see it immediately.

[Source: Dr Michael Briskey's Personal Weblog. He is an anti-aging psychologist & life makeover coach. He is also the author of 'Defy Aging'. More information about him & his work can be found on his corporate website.]


Last night, I had watched an old movie, which I had watched in the movie theatre when I was a teenager during the sixties. The movie was 'Topkapi' on MGM Channel.

The story was very simple. It revolved around a ragtag gang of jewelry thieves & amateurs, who eventually stole a priceless, jewel-encrusted dagger from the Topkapi museum in Istanbul, Turkey.

It starred Melina Mercouri, Peter Ustinov, Maximillian Schell & Robert Morley. It was nostalgic for me to watch these fine actors & actresses playing their character roles more than forty years ago.

I certainly remember Peter Ustinov very well, especially from his role as the Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, in several movies adapted from Agatha Christie's novels.

In this movie, it was quite fun to rewatch him playing the lovable bumbling character, Simpson. Despite the odds against him, he rose to the occasion when needed to assist the gang reluctantly. As a matter of fact, he won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in this movie.

I last saw Maximillian Schell in 'Deep Impact', but he always has a lasting impression on me as the ruthless German Gestapo officer e.g. 'The Odessa File', 'Cross of Iron', & 'The Assisi Underground'.

This movie brought back some sweet memories of Istanbul, with its rustic mosques, ancient side-streets, colourful bazaars, oiled wrestlers, exotic belly dancers, fabled roof tops, & best of all, the panoramic view of the Sea of Marmara & the Bosphorus.

In many ways, the entire movie was quite light-hearted, & quite thrilling too, considering the absence of fancy CGI tricks during those days. I enjoyed rewatching the night heist in the museum, especially with the seemingly quiet sequence without music or sounds.

Incidentally, I had read that this movie actually inspired Bruce Geller to create his famous 'Mission: Impossible' TV series during the sixties/seventies.

Come to think of it, the robbery sequence, hanging from the ceiling of the museum, was re-enacted by Tom Cruise (as Ethan Hunt) in the first 'Mission: Impossible' movie.


What makes people happy?

First, having a purpose - which means doing something in your life that has meaning for you.

Second, having hope - which means you have something to look forward to.

Last but not least, having someone to love.

Happiness is no accident - it is something we choose, according to Andrew Matthews, author of the classics, 'Being Happy' & 'Follow Your Heart'.

It's all in the attitude, the author adds.

"Happy people make a decision to be happy inspite of their problems. They concentrate on what they have - not on what is missing. They count their blessings. They take maximum responsibility for their life & for their mistakes. They don't blame on others . . . Happy people are more flexible . . . Their state of mind is determined by their own thoughts, not by outside circumstances."


"Inaction breeds doubt & fear. Action breeds confidence &
courage. If you want to conquer fear, don't sit at home & think about it. Go out & get busy!"

The foregoing pragmatic insight for the layman came from the legendary Dale Carnegie.

"All the thinking in the world is of no use unless it finds application, unless the ideas are transformed into action. To take action in a complex, fast-changing world, where it is all too easy to cling to the status quo and do nothing, you need the courage to take action - not make decisions."

The foregoing pragmatic insight for the professional came from Frank Feather, consultant & futurist.

Action is a powerful antidote to the stagnation of inertia.

The name of the game today is action. Doing something. Overcoming your inertia & moving your butt will give you a whole new lease on being alive.

Taking action gives you momentum. Initiating the effort attracts many opportunities.

If you decide to do something about your problem or challenge, rather than whine about it, you'll be on the road to changing things around for yourself.

When you take action, you are also pulling your own strings. You take control of your life circumstances.

Thinking too long & worst of all, not doing anything about it, keep you a prisoner of the past.

Action puts you in control of the future.

It also reminds me of the story about the three types of person in the world:

- those who make things happen;

- those who watch things happen;

- those who wonder what happened;

We all have a choice in life. Do it. Just do it. Do it NOW!


"Negative habits breed negative consequences; successful habits create positive rewards."

(Jack Canfield, 'The Power of Focus')


According to Dr Michael Brickey, a life makeover coach & author of 'Defying Aging: Develop the Mental & Emotional Vitality to Live Long, Healthier & Happier':

1) Refuses to hold on to resentments;

2) Refuses to conform to conventional thinking;

3) Refuses to engage in pessimistic thinking;

4) Refuses to brood over losses;

5) Insists on always learning & growing;

6) Insists on being physically active;

7) Insists on being self-reliant;

8) Frequently is totally absorbed in activities;

9) Places an inordinate emphasis on humour;

10) Doesn't get drunk on New Year Eve;

[More information about Dr Michael Brickey & his work can be found at The Ageless Lifestyles Institute, which is a goldmine of information nuggets. Learn more about his Anti-Aging ABC's or take the 'Defy Aging Quiz' just for the fun of it.]


Here are some additional random notes on 'Success Defined' I have captured in my scratchpad:

- "Success doesn't just happen because of luck or genetics, but through tremendous persistent positive mental energy." (Bob Arnot, 'The Biology of Success');

- "Success is a direction you choose. It's a process, a never ending journey. It's your constant progression toward your higher purpose, vision & the life of your dreams in all areas. What do you truly want?" (Source Unknown);

- "Success is an inside job." (Source Unknown);

- "Experts estimate success is 80% attitude; 20% aptitude." (Source Unknown);

- "Success is a lifetime of personal fulfilment - creating a sense of meaning in your work & life. It requires taking risks, overcoming challenges, & using your best resources - you - to its fullest potential." (Source Unknown);

- "Success involves the uncommon application of common knowledge." (Source Unknown);

- "The measure of your success is how well you use your productive time to achieve the goals that are important to you." (Source Unknown);

- "Don't try to be better than someone else; always try to be the best you can be." (Source Unknown);

- "Success as the favourable of an undertaking or career, or the attainment of a desired goal, especially the gaining of wealth, fame & rank." (Webster's New World Dictionary);

- "Dictionaries define 'Success' as getting what you want. Success is aspiring to something & then achieving it. Success is desiring something & then accomplishing it. But in daily life, too often success remains elusive. The biggest barrier to success lies in the process of how people try to bring about success. True success in life isn't rare because people are weak or lazy or lack will power. True success in life is rare because too often people use flawed strategy for success." (Source:;

- "Success is the degree to which you move forward & upward, progressing in your lifelong mission, despite all obstacles or other forms of adversity." (Source Unknown);

- "Success is the progressive realisation of all that you were meant to be & do." (Source Unknown);

- "Success is the progressive realisation of a worthy goal." (Earl Nightingale);

- "Success is the progressive realisation of a worthy ideal." (Bob Procter);

- "Success is the progressive realisation of predefined worthwhile personal goals." (Paul J Meyer);

Friday, February 22, 2008


I was really impressed by the tenacity of Straits Times Chief China Correspondent Ching Cheong who was recently released by the Chinese authorities after spending over 1,000 days in a Chinese jail.

According to a recent interview, he turned to the writings of ancient Chinese philosophers & modern-day motivational gurus to help him get through acute mental depression & stressful physical isolation.

He listed five top books, with his salient comments, as follows:

1) 'Choosing Happiness', by Stephanie Dowrick:

"This is the first book on psychotherapy that I've ever read & I found it very helpful in preserving my optimism & drive. Through this book, I began to realise the weaknesses that I have, & which led to my plight. That is very enlightening."

2) 'The Healing Power of Mind', by Tulku Thondup:

"This book teaches people to use mind power to overcome psychological stress, & I found it extremely useful."

3) 'What We May Be', by Piero Ferrucci:

"This is a very difficult book, as it is more concerned with the practical techniques on meditating, self-analysis & building up an image of optimism. That was very useful to me as well."

4) 'Man's Search for Meaning', by Viktor Frankl:

"Viktor Frankl's experience in a Nazi concentration camp told me that what sustained life was the will to live. I consider this book a must-read for those who have experienced misfortunes in life. From his account, I learn how to handle prison life. My case is trivial compared to his. He is facing death on a daily basis, yet he can have great spiritual power to endure these difficulties."

5) 'I-Ching: The Book of Changes':

"One question I've been puzzling about all along is this question of 'Why Me?' But according to I-Ching, everything I did was good for the people, & good for the country."

Among the five books, I had read the one by Viktor Frankl. I had already reviewed it in an earlier post. I certainly agreed with Ching Cheong's comments about the book.

[Source: The Straits Times, The Ching Cheong Interview, February 21st 2008]


1) Life gets better when you get better;

2) Where you've been doesn't matter; only where you're going;

3) One must fail to succeed;

4) Freedom comes through development of options;

5) See the good out of every problem or difficulty;

6) You can learn anything you need for success through proper goal setting;

7) The only limits to success are within your mind:

[Source: 'Turbo-Coach: A Powerful System for Achieving Breakthrough Career Success' by Brian Tracy.]


Napoleon Hill, in his landmark study of 500 of the most successful people in the world discovered that all achievers shared 17 common success characteristics.

The primary characteristic for all success achievements was having a burning desire or a vivid vision.

What is yours?

He suggested the following series of questions to ponder:

1) Sit back & ponder these questions for a moment:

If you woke up every morning, knowing you will spend the day doing the work you love, what would that mean to you?

What would your life be like?

What would it be like if your relationships were always energetic & effortless?

What would happen if you fully lived each day with vitality. energy & passion?

2) Continue:

What's your purpose?

What's your calling in life?

What's next in your life's joruney?

How do you best live your dreams fully?


"You can't manage change. You can only be ahead of it."

(Peter F Drucker)

Thursday, February 21, 2008


How can I look at the world differently?

How can I be more creative - in my work, in my play, in my relationships?

How can I come up with ways to do things better, quicker, cheaper, & faster?

How can I shift my thinking so that I can be unique in providing perspectives, solutions, & presentations?

How can I take my thinking to the next level?


One of the best ways to increase your own CQ (Creativity Quotient) i.e. to be more creative, & hence, productive, is to act like a child, but don't be childish.

Did you know, for instance, that on psychological tests of creativity, only 5 percent of people 18 & older registered in the "creative" range?

Among 17 year-olds, 10 percent scored "creative."

But among 5 year-olds, more than 90 percent demonstrated the ability to dream up new ideas.

According to my good friend, Dilip Mukerjea, Learning Chef & an accomplished author of a comprehensive array of excellent books covering the creativity realm, including 'Superbrain', 'Brainfinity', 'Braindancing', 'Surfing the Intellect', 'Building Brain Power', 'Brain Symphony', & 'Unleashing Genius', there are twelve key characteristics of a high CQ person, with my humble comments, as follows:

1) Curiosity:

- believe that curiosity is more important than knowledge;
- love to observe & ask questions;

2) Flexibility:

- willing to explore & try out different options to solve a problem;
- constantly switch perception to see the world at large;
- ready to hold multiple perceptions or contradictory ideas, if necessary;

3) Resourcefulness:

- ready to use whatever resources available to deal with the world;
- constantly adapt to the changing environment;

4) Challenging the Status Quo:

- not afraid to deal with fear, & step out of the comfort zone;
- willing to challenge own assumptions to find new perspectives to problems;

5) Trend spotting:

- has an acute eye for opportunities;
- able to see opportunities in problems;

6) Pro activity:

- always exercise personal initiative to deal with & find problems;
- believe in pioneer or first mover advantage - make things happen;

7) Openness to Diversity:

- not afraid to work with people &/or environments from different cultures or circumstances;
- willing to listen to other people's viewpoints;

8) Self-Belief:

- possess high self-efficacy;

9) Vision about the Future/Goals Achieving:

- future-oriented i.e. constantly looking at what's possible in the future;
- outcome-focused & results-driven;

10) Intuitive Sensing;

- not afraid to follow their instincts & gut feel;
- able to anticipate problems or trouble lurking in the horizon;

11) Simplifying Complexity:

- not afraid to navigate through complexity to search for possible approaches to solutions;
- always think systemically as well as strategically;
- ready to find ways to break problems down to manageable chunks for quick resolution;

12) Risk Taking:

- embrace setbacks & failures as part of the learning process & as stepping stones to success;
- believe in 'no venture, no gain';
- hold the opinion that risks are inherent in change & growth, without which we perish;

When we were kids, most of these characteristics were part of our modus operandi. For example, when we were 3 years old, we were very observant & highly inquisitive. Dad & Mum can testify to that.

We were always exploring new ways to circumvent or break rules, & trying out new endeavours to amuse ourselves. Failure was just an opportunity to try out another better way.

When we grew up, we began to fear making mistakes &/or looking stupid in front of our peers, & to our chagrin, the essential characteristics that had made us superbly creative during childhood started to erode as time flew.

To increase our CQ, we need to go back to our childhood days & regain our creative potential.

[More information about Dilip Mukerjea, his consulting work & published works is available at his corporate website. He is also a martial artist, linguist, cartoonist, as well as a great storyteller. Like me, he had been previously trained as an engineer.]


While having a short break between my exercise routines at the gym today, I happened to browse a February 2008 issue of 'ezyhealth & beauty'.

I found an interview with Dr Bernard Kwok, consultant cardiologist at the Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre.

According to him, to promote & maintain health, from the heart point of view, we need moderate-intensity aerobic activities for at least 30 minutes, 5 days every week or a vigorous-intensity activity for at least 20 minutes, 3 days in a week.

Wow, that's music to my ears, as I have been practising this routine for almost last three years in the gym.

For me, I always make sure that I burn between 800-1,000 calories a day, five days a week.

My gym buddy approaches his exercise routine for scientifically. He carries a heart rate monitor.

Dr Kwok further recommends additional muscle-strengthening activity on two or more non-consecutive days each week to allow strength development.

He adds that any physical activity above the minimum will provide greater health benefits.


"Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple & learn how to handle them, & pretty soon you have a dozen."

This wonderful quote is attributed to John Steinbeck (1902-1968), the legendary American Nobel & Pulitzer prize-winning author.

I fully concur with this great guy.

Getting ideas is actually a piece of cake, so to speak. It is always the implementation of the ideas - & bringing them to fruition - that take concerted efforts & hard work.

Of course, it is also very important to have a lot of ideas, so that we can throw away the bad ones, & eventually choose one or two that can work.

Most readers may remember the physicist, Dr Linus Pauling, who sparked the controversy during the 70's, during which he said that a daily massive dosage of Vitamin C could boost your immune system, thus extending lifespan. Interestingly, I remember one of his early famous observations:

"The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas."

Dr Yoshiro Nakamatsu, the legendary Japanese inventor extraordinaire with more than 3,000 patents to his credit [compared to slightly more than a thousand by Thomas Edison], spend all his waking hours thinking about new ideas.

In fact, I read that he also runs a full-time laboratory with more than 100 R & D engineers, whose jobs are designated by him to put his crazy ideas to work as commercial applications.

I also read that, every year since the 70's, the Toyota Motor Company has received over a million ideas from its employees, & over 80% of those ideas had been implemented.

In fact, the company boasts one of the longest established & most effective idea management system in the world.

[Readers can read the book, '40 Years, 20 Million Ideas: The Toyota Suggestion System', by Yuzo Yasuda.]

No wonder, year after year, Toyota pulls further ahead of its global competitors in terms of quality, reliability, productivity, cost reduction, sales & market share growth, & market capitalisation, making it the largest automobile manufacturer in the world.

[For the year 2006, Toyota clocked 8.8 million vehicles, exceeding General Motors by 128,000.]
As a matter of fact, for almost three decades, Toyota has sponsored the Toyota Idea Olympics, a special competition to promote technological achievements in a fun atmosphere, as well as to focus on "quantum leaps into the 21st century". Employees of the company & youngsters from all over Japan have a chance to submit their wild ideas.

For me, I always love to think about new ideas. I reckon this habit probably has to do with my training as an engineer, & my life-long quest as a knowledge adventurer & technology explorer.

Here are some of my favourite idea generation methods &/or activities.

1) Doing a physical workout:

- I have written about this in my earlier posts.

2) Reading widely:

- Reading not only mainstream stuff, but also fringe stuff - including books, magazines, newsletters, magazines, as well as all forms of electronic stuff; [Highly recommended by Peter Schwartz of the Global Business Network & Joel Arthur Barker, the Paradigm guy.]

- often when I read & find something intriguing, I will always note it in my scratchpad, which I will always refer to whenever I surf the net;

2) Conversations with associates & friends:

- I often use both the business & social conversations as springboards for new ideas;

- My regular 'Wednesday Club' social gatherings, with the live songs & music, often give me numerous inspirations;

3) Walking or strolling in the neighbourhood or window shopping in shopping centres:

- with so much random stimuli, living as well as non-living, from the surroundings, it is hard not to get new ideas;

- just act like a sponge;

4) Commuting;

- I always carry a pocket note book with me whenever I go out;

- I even have one in my gym bag;

- in the years when I had my own town office/store, I often carried a standby micro-cassette recorder while driving;

5) Drawing from everyday experiences:

- with a sense of curiosity & a sense of discovery, our everyday experiences, like doing simple household chores, can be springboards for new ideas;

6) Surfing the net:

- this is one my favourite past times, beside blogging & reading - I always have my scratchpad on standby;

- in fact, just 'googling' alone is an excellent way to get new ideas - actually for me, I always use the Copernic Agent Professional;

7) Using personal interests:

- this can be a good starting point, especially when reading or surfing the net;

- keep a running list of things or subjects that always interest or intrigue you;

8) Watching movies &/or television:

- don't just watch them passively - watch them with the view of learning something, in fact, anything that comes to mind;

- for me, movies always offer great opportunities for idea generation, as I always marvel at the human ingenuity that goes into the production;

9) Using waiting time & down time:

- at the barber shops, I like to browse through their magazines e.g. 'Her World', 'Female', etc., which I normally don't read on my own;

- the same applies to visiting the doctor's clinic;

- even at the gym, I often use my short breaks between exercise routines to browse their magazines, mostly related to fitness lifestyles;

10) 'Hanging loose' once in a while:

- sometimes, I believe 'spur of the moment' activities can help in idea boosting, especially from the aspect of serendipity;

- for example, I don't particularly like to hang out in karaoke joints, but sometimes I just oblige some of my buddies & just go there together for a quick spin with those young Chinese damsels;

- remember, novelty & the variety of spice sometimes have their value, besides stimulation of the senses;

To me, the important thing about getting new ideas is to have an open receptive mind.

First, observe: what do I see?

Just be curious about things or people or events around you: what is happening? or how did it happen?

Next, reflect: what does it mean? what does it reminds me of? where does it leads me to? what can I do with it? how can I apply apply it in my work?

Last, behold: what have I learned? where do I go from here?

Sometimes, we just have to give an old idea with a new spin. Adopt some fresh-eye perspectives.
Stand back & look at the forests, so to speak. Search for patterns.

Actually, pattern recognition is the key to generating new ideas.


"The future cannot be predicted, but futures can be invented. It is an ability to invent the future that givs us
hope & makes us what we are."

(Dennis Gabor, 1900-1979, Nobel Prize laureate & inventor of the holographic method in 1947; holography did not become commercially feasible until the demonstration, in 1960, of the laser, which amplifies the intensity of light waves;)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Last night was movie night for me & my gym buddy. We chose 'Jumper'.

Unfortunately, after purchasing two tickets for the 7.40 show at cineplex #2 at the Jurong Entertainment Centre, we made one big mistake: we did not check the tickets.

Only after watching the trailers inside the theatre, we then realised our big mistake when we started to see Chinese characters appearing on the big screen.

So, both of us ended up watching the Mandarin movie entitled 'CJ7', starring Stephen Chow (better known as 'Chow Sin Chee' to Chinese audiences).

Frankly speaking, it was quite difficult for us to categorise his movie in the first place.

It was part-sci-fi, as there was a cute alien being (looked like a puppy) from outer space. Hence, there were plenty of CGI animation stuff. Nothing spectacular, but not bad for a Hongkong movie production.

It was part-comedy, since Stephen Chow was involved, both as director & principal actor. Therefore, you can expect the sort of nonesensical antics that often were his signatures.

It was part-family-entertainment, since it revolved around a poor, hard-working construction-worker father, who wanted his only young son to have a good education in a premier school.

Actually throughout the movie, I thought that Stephen Chow's character role was somewhat subdued.

It was his young son in the movie (actually played by a young girl in real life) & the cute alien being who stole the entire show, with their funny, & yet sometimes heart-warming, antics in the story plot.

Having watched Stephen Chow's 'Shaolin Soccer' & 'Kung Fu Hustle', I could not help laughing to myself when I saw he had deliberately even re-enacted some comical scenes from his two earlier successful movies.

I reckon, this movie represented Stephen Chow's vague attempt to experiment with something new in movie entertainment.

Given a choice, I would have preferred my first choice, even though I had missed it.

Nevertheless, given the circumstances as I had described earlier, I was not that disappointed by watching 'CJ7' for a change.


Albert Einstein asked himself a question: "What's it like to ride a beam of light?"

By posing the question, he created a path that led to an earth shaking answer: The Theory of Relativity.

Why not ask yourself a question & begin your journey?


"Every kind of work can be a pleasure. Even simple household tasks can be an opportunity to exercise & expand our caring, our effectiveness, our responsiveness. As we respond with caring & vision to all work, we develop our capacity to respond fully to all of life. Every action generates positive energy which can be shared with others. These qualities of caring & responsiveness are the greatest gift we can offer."

(Tarthang Tulku, a Tibetan teacher who lives in America where he works to preserve the art & culture of Tibet)


These are the vital stages in the process of putting your ideas to work in the real world, i.e. from the time they start as preliminary insights inside your head all the way to eventual execution as a venture development:

insight --> idea --> opportunity --> decision to act --> venture development

To help fine-tune your thinking process, here are some questions to ponder & actions to consider at each stage :


- what have you become aware of or noticed?

- what intrigues you?

- what has come to your attention?


- what is the idea?

- how doe sit work?

- what does it involve?

- who will benefit it?

- what purpose does it serve?

- what does it make possible?

- what is great about your idea?

- why is it exciting? that is better or different about it?


- create the opportunity by expanding the idea to its fullest potential;

- add details to describe it in action

- think as if anything is possible;

- what would you love to do;

- find 3 options or features to enahnce value of idea: can you find anymore?

- think in terms of enhancing idea in the short term, medium term, or long term;

- what options do you have to enhance idea at each phase;

- how can you create synergy throgh partnerships, joint ventures, promotions, or laterntaive ways of implementing idea;

- what is the bigger context?

- how can it create value or growth?

- what are the key revenue sources, both today & for the long term;


- list critical action to make opportunity = reality;

- what would have to be in place for it to work?

- what are the first 3 things you need to do to get started?

- what is the biggest wekness you must overcome?

- what will you do to prevent failure?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


The first thing I normally wake up in this morning is to get hold of my 'Straits Times' at the front door, drink a glass of cold water, & then proceed to commence my waste elimination cycle in the toilet.

So early this morning, I was quite shocked to read about Sukarti, an Indonesian maid who had to endure:

- NO pay for 6 years;
- NO days off;
- NO visits home;

Luckily, the maid's employer was caught by the Manpower Ministry, charged in court & the poor maid was quickly paid almost $20,000 in back pay.

When asked why she did not report her plight, the maid simply said that she was afraid of her employer, & that she believed that it was just her 'Fate'.

This brings me into writing this post with the view of looking at 'Fate' in contrast with 'Destiny'.

Literally, 'Fate' is seemingly synonymous to 'Destiny'.

However, to me, the connotation is different. 'Fate' implies "inevitable doom in the hand of external forces, therefore change is impossible".

On the other hand, 'Destiny' implies "appointment to a particular state or destination, therefore change is still possible".

Everyday expressions drive home my point: we often hear 'resign to or accept your fate', but we often hear 'create or design your destiny'.

I believe that the common excuse of laying blame on 'Fate' is keeping many people from turning around their lives for the better.

By blaming 'Fate', it is like saying 'it's not my fault'.

By accepting 'Fate' readily as such, they automatically relinguish 100% personal responsibility of ever changing the direction of their lives.

For me, I believe in 'Destiny', which offers an entirely different perspective.

Believing in our 'Destiny' puts the power back in our own hands, as all of us are destined for great things from the moment of creation.

It is important to realise that all of us are born to be winners, but we are often unwittingly conditioned to fail in life.

Regretably, our parents, friends, teachers, bosses, authorities, & the society at large general form part of our habitual domain that contributes to our failure conditioning.

R Buckminster Fuller, planet Earth's friendly genius, & inventor of the geodesic dome, said it best:

"Everyone is born a genius, but society 'degeniuses' them!"

Think about the spermatozoa analogy! Each & every one of us is already the champion the moment we singularly win the greatest race following ejaculation & take shape in mummy's womb.

All we need to do is to utilise our unique gifts, talents, strengths & interests, plus a small dosage of our imagination & ingenuity, to design & create our own 'Destiny'.

I reckon the following observation from Dr Bruce Lipton, author of 'The Biology of Belief' more or less sums up my sentiments:

“We are not victims of our genes, but masters of our fates, able to create lives overflowing with peace, happiness & love.”


According to Jim Canterucci, author of 'Personal Brilliance: Mastering the Everyday Habits that create a Lifetime of Success', which I had already reviewed in an earlier post:

"When I talk about focus . . . I am referring to a 360-degree view. This type of focus is more like a broad spotlight that expands in a circle around an issue rather than a pinpointed laser.

Focusing like a (broad) spotlight allows us to be aware of all that is within this wide circle of light . . . also means going beneath the surface & giving full attention to what you're doing, without excluding ideas that are on the periphery of your awareness . . .

There must be a purpose to justify & motivate our focus. Can you find a greater purpose for the activities you are required to participate in but that may not, at least on the surface, be on the top of your interest list?"

[The author has a corporate website, where readers can read excerpts from his book &/or access other useful information, including podcasts. You can also try out the 'Personal Brilliance Quotient' just for the fun of it!]


What do I really want?

If I know my imagination & my focus creates my future reality, what should I be focusing on right this moment?


"Sometimes, you've got to specifically go out of your way to get into trouble. It's called Fun!"

(Robin Williams, American comedian & actor, who frequently portrays offbeat & eccentric characters;)


This is my favourite Hainanese chicken rice stall located in Block 490 on Jurong West Avenue 1, near the road junction with Jurong West Street 41.

On the way back from the gym, my gym buddy, my wife & I will always walk pass this block. We often stop to have our quick lunch at this stall. The stall is run by two brothers.

Besides the succulent chicken meat & garlic-flavoured chicken soup, my wife loves the crunchy chicken kidneys, while my gym buddy loves the crunchy chicken feet, as well as the boiled kai lan with oyster sauce. For me, I have no particular preference, although I love the rice, which is fragrant, fluffy, but not oily.

Nevertheless, all three of us really love the deep fried, spring-onion garnished tofu, which is crispy on the outside, but just soft & tender on the inside. It comes with the chef's own concoction of chilly sweet sour sauce.

Best of all, the condiment of thick black soy sauce, spicy chilly sauce & aromatic shredded ginger somehow makes the whole lunch meal appetising & delicious for three of us.

The whole expenditure for lunch usually comes up to S$17.50. Half a chick is only S$7.00.


I have been blogging for almost nine months. It has been great fun & learning for me.

I did not realise that blogging was actually started more than ten years ago, until I read about it in a recently unrelated news article.

Blogging began in April 1997, when software developer Dave Winer initiated Scripting News, an electronic record of his reflections on a range of topics. By the end of that year, blog publisher of Robot Wisdom, Jorn Barger, coined the term 'weblog'.

With the advent in 1999 of free blogging tools that allowed users, like myself, to create their own blogs, blogging came into its own.

In reality, this is the power of ideas at work.

During the late eighties or probably early nineties, Timothy Berners Lee came up with an idea to allow scientists from different parts of the world to work togther. That gave birth to the World Wide Web or Internet as we know today.

Today, more than a billion people around the world regularly uses the Internet.

Jeff Bezos was toying with the idea of combining book sales with e-commerce, while working with a hedge fund company on Wall Street. In fact, the company had rejected his internet research project. He wrote his business plan while driving all the way from New York to Seattle, & founded in 1994, out of his home garage.

Today, has revenues in excess of US$10 billion, with almost 60 million active customer accounts.

I am still curious about the guy who came up with the revolutionary idea of building silicon chips from grains of cheap sand.

The power of ideas really changes the world.

I find this whole idea about the power of ideas very fascinating.

During the late eighties to the early nineties, while still struggling in quiet desperation as a corporate rat, I was already toying with the idea of running a retail store that would give me ready accessibility to a lot of books & other resources, & at the same time, fuel as well as bankroll my passion for reading.

Another idea quickly came quickly to mind, & that was writing a newsletter to share my reading pursuits, & also to promote the books & other resources in my dreamed store.

More ideas were also churning inside my head about running a strategy consulting firm to capitalise on my corporate experience, & also to use as a test-bed for putting further ideas from the books I had read to work in the real world.

All these confabulation of ideas eventually gave birth to 'The Brain Resource', 'Left-Brain/Right-Brain Newsletter' & 'Optimum Performance Technologies'.

The strategy consulting firm was registered with the then Registry of Companies on 12th November 1991. The public licence to publish the newsletter was also obtained from the authorities around the same time. The retail outlet was just an extension of the strategy consulting firm.

The rest was history.

My ideas did not change the world, but their disciplined execution from late 1991 to mid-2005, had enabled me to enjoy a prudent life-style, paid all my bills, & gave me & my wife a surplus for a little bit of globetrotting. Of course, during those years, I had amassed a lot of wonderful books & other resources, & along the way, also made a lot of good friends.

Napoelon Hill, author of 'Think & Grow Rich' & 'Law of Success' was absolutely right, when he said:

"All achievements, all earned riches, have their beginning in an idea . . . Ideas are the beginning points of all fortunes."


According to Pastor Richard Onebamoi:

It's important to identify & focus on your key results areas.

Where you place your focus, is where the rest of your mind & emotions will gravitate.

It's imperative that your focus is solution-oriented: What's possible in the future?

He offers the following advice:

1) Do one thing at a time;

2) Surround yourself with positive influences;

[Rcihard Onebamoi is also the author of 'Success Powerpoints:Proven Strategies for Success'. He is also an infopreneur operating from Woluwe-Saint-Lambert, Belgium ]


I have come to the conclusion that, in order to enhance your personal productivity, you just have to manage your:








Monday, February 18, 2008


1) Do I really want it?

2) Do I really need it?

3) Is it worthwhile for me to have it?

4) Am I prepared to do whatever it takes to get it?


[These are the solutions to the brain exercise in the previous post]

1. LOCK – PIANO: Key

2. SHIP – CARD: Deck

3. TREE – CAR: Trunk

4. SCHOOL – EYE: Pupil (Exam & Private are also possible)


6. RIVER – MONEY: Bank (Flow is also possible)

7. BED – PAPER: Sheet

8. ARMY – WATER: Tank

9. TENNIS – NOISE: Racket



[Source: SharpBrains - Your Brain Fitness Centre. It's the one-stop source of trusted information & practical guidance for cognitive & emotional training, i.e. Brain Fitness;]


Here is a brain exercise whose aim is to stimulate the connections or associations between words in your brain. The temporal lobe, to be precise.

In the left column you have a pair of words. Your goal is to find a third word that is connected or associated with both of these two words.

The first pair is PIANO and LOCK. The answer is KEY. The word key is connected with both the word piano and the word lock: there are KEYS on a piano and you use a KEY to lock doors….

Key is what is called a homograph: a word that has more than one meaning but is always spelled the same.

Ready to stimulate connections in your brain?













[Source: SharpBrains - Your Brain Fitness Centre. It's the one-stop source of trusted information & practical guidance for cognitive & emotional training, i.e. Brain Fitness;

For solutions to the above brain exercise, please proceed to the next post.]


"And I hope you will come back here to Harvard 30 years from now, & reflect on what you have done with your talent & your energy. I hope you will judge yourselves not on your professional accomplishments alone, but also on how well you have addressed the world's deepest inequities . . . on how well you treated people a world away who have nothing in common with you but their humanity."

(Bill Gates, founder & Chairman of Microsoft Corporation, in his commencement address at Harvard University on June 7th 2007; the original text in its entirety can be read at this link; if you are interested in watching a video clip of the address, it's available at this link;)


I have a great fascination for inventions, & also the stories behind them, especially the inventors who came up with the brilliant ideas.

I am always proud of their valuable contributions to society, particularly in terms of their physical artefacts which had radically changed the way we work & play.

From the creativity standpoint, many of the great inventors had been my role models.

To name a few, they are Leonardo da vinci, Nikola Tesla, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, the Wright Brothers, R Buckminster Fuller, & Henry Ford.

[For some people, Henry Ford may seemed to be an odd one, but he invented the mass production or assembly line process.]

Over the years, I have acquired many books, audios, videos & other resources of these great inventors & their inventions in my personal library.

I havealso often used their life stories & their inventions to illustrate the creative &/or inventive thinking process. [In fact, their work formed an integral part of my 5-Day 'Science & the Art of Discovery' Workshop for kids during the nineties.]

In a nut shell, & best of all, I had learned, in many ways, a lot about thinking & inventing from these great inventors.

One of the most productive lessons I had learned is the realisation that all ideas start with thinking.

More importantly, we think with ideas, not information.

Another important personal realisation is that 'ideas build on ideas'.

Hence, thinking about new ideas, particularly hitch-hiking on &/or free-wheeling from other people's ideas, seems to be the norm.

Remember, Albert Einstein's 'E=mc2' & Sir Isaac Newton's 'Laws of Gravitation'?

I had written in great detail about these aspects in my earlier posts.

Alexander Graham Bell said it best:

"Great discoveries & improvements invariably involve the co-operation of many minds. I may be given credit for having blazed the trail, but when I look at the subsequent developments I feel the credit is due to others rather than to myself."

I also like this particular quote attributed to Alexander Graham Bell:

"Leave the beaten track occasionally & dive into the woods. Every time you do so you will be certain to find something that you have never seen before. Follow it up, explore all around it, & before you know it, you will have something worth thinking about to occupy your mind. All really big discoveries are the results of thought."

Here are some very interesting quotes or observations attributed to Thomas Edison, who actually took Bell's earlier invention, the diaphragm, & then built on it to create his phonograph, which eventually led him to create today's talking movies.

"I never pick up an idea without thinking of how I might improve it. I readily absorb ideas from every source, frequently starting where the last person left off."

"Because ideas have to be original only with regard to their adaptation to the problem at hand, I am always extremely interested in how others have used them . . ."

" A good idea is never lost. Even though its originator or possessor may die without publicizing it, it will someday be reborn in the mind of another . . ."

"I am not overly impressed by the great names & reputations of those who might be trying to beat me to an invention . . . Its their 'ideas' that appeal to me. I am quite correctly described as 'more of a sponge' than an inventor . . ."

"Genius is one per cent inspiration & ninety-nine per cent perspiration. Accordingly, a 'genius' is often merely a talented person who has done all of his or her homework."

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls & looks like work."

"The first requisite for success is to develop the ability to focus & apply your mental & physical energies to the problem at hand - without growing weary. Because such thinking is often difficult, there seems to be no limit to which some people will go to avoid the effort & labor that is associated with it . . ."

"I never did anything worth doing entirely by accident . . . Almost none of my inventions were derived in that manner. They were achieved by having trained myself to be analytical & to endure & tolerate hard work."

Here are a few great quotes from Henry Ford, who took a simple idea from the meat packing plant he had visited before to build his assembly line for the famous model T:

"One of the great discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn't do. Most of the bars we beat against are in ourselves - we put them there, & we can take them down."

"Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason so few engage in it."

"Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently."

"If you think you can or you think you can't, you will always be right."

"Don't find a fault. Find a remedy."

"Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young."

"The highest use of capital is not to make more money, but to make money do more for the betterment of life."

"The man who will use his skill & constructive imagination to see how much he can give for a dollar, instead of how little he can give for a dollar, is bound to succeed."

"If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person's point of view & see things from that person's angle as well as from your own."

Another productive learning experience from the great inventors is that one does not have to be an expert to be an inventor.

The Wright Brothers were just bicycle mechanics, & yet they pioneered man's eventual conquest of flight on December 17, 1903 at Kitty Hawk on the sand beaches of North Carolina.


The recent stories, involving the numerous X-rated photos, in the newspapers about Edison Chen & the 7 hotties, are creating a whole lot of excitment on the internet.

Obviously, Edison Chen is the real culprit, even though he wasn't the one who uploaded the photos to the Internet. Can we blame him?

No! because all the hotties were apparently willing parties to his conquests. Are they then to be blamed?

To me, this is not an issue about whining, laying blame or justification.

The whole episode drives home a very important generalised principle.

What is a generalised principle? It's a principle that's true in all cases. There are no exceptions.

In this sad episode, the generalised principle is:


To me, all the known parties involved, Edison, the 7 hotties, the guys who stole the photos from his Mac in the first place, & the guys who uploaded the photos to the internet, are fully responsible for their individual actions, irrespective of whether they are right or wrong, opportunistic or otherwise

All or rather each & everyone of us has the power to change the world, & more specifically, to change our own lives, as well as to change the lives of others.

With technology enablement, in this case the digital webcam, the digital camera, the habdphone, the computer & the Internet, this power in our hands becomes more potent.

Unfortunately, most of us don't realise that this power in our hands to create is a double-edged sword: it's also the power to destroy.

The whole episode is going to destroy the lives of a lot of people.

I always remember the poignant scene in the movie, 'Spider-Man', when Uncle Ben (played by Cliff Robertson), laying wounded in the streets, reminded his nephew, Peter Parker/Spider-Man (played by Tobey Maguire) that "With great power, comes great responsibility'.

If only Edison, the 7 hotties & the rest of them, had exercised personal responsibility in the first place, & also realised that 'action has consequences', they would not have gotten themselves in such deep s***.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


"Self-discipline is a learned art, & to master this act
requires two basic steps: First, you must consistently analyse the probable, long term consequences of your action. Second, you must be tenacious in acting in accordance with what you have determined to be in your long term best interests."

The above pragmatic insight comes from Robert Ringer, who is most famous as one of the most widely read & influential authors of books that teach people how to be more successful at business & life.

His best sellers include, 'Winning Through Intimidation' (1975), 'Looking Out for Number #1' (1977), 'Million Dollar Habits' (1990), 'Getting What You Want: The Seven Principles of Rational Living' (2000), & 'Action! Nothing Happens Until Something Moves' (2004).

According to the author, "self-discipline has to do with becoming a master of yourself, acting according to your intellectual conclusions rather than your emotions.

Self-discipline involves self-control, sometimes foregoing instant gratification for long-term benefit. It means acting according to the ongoing analyses of the probable long-term consequences of your actions. It means restraining the urges to act impulsively.

Self-discipline means being careful to not fall into the "too-good-to-be-true" trap. When you’re presented with an offer that seems too good to be true, analyze it very carefully and rationally before jumping in at the deep end.

Once you’ve chosen your project, you need to focus intensely and consistently on it.

Self-discipline also means that you make certain rules for yourself, to which there are no exceptions. For example, I have strict rules regarding what I eat and what I don’t eat. I make no exceptions. Even if someone offered me $1,000 to eat a small morsel of what’s on my forbidden list, I wouldn’t even consider it.

To someone practicing self-discipline, the idea of making new year’s resolutions is very strange. If you know you have to do something, you do it. Why wait until January 1 to decide to do it?"

I fully concur with the author.

In life, everything is possible; it's only a question of strategy.

However, one still needs self-discipline to sustain the execution of one's strategy.


1) What is the most valuable use of my time at this point in time?

2) What are my highest value activities?

3) What are my key results areas?

4) What can I & only do that, if done, will I achieve the desired results?


According to Robert J Kriegel, an authority on change management & author of 'Sacred Cows Make the Best Burgers: Developing Change-Ready People & Organizations', change readiness is a learnable skill set.

He has identified 7 principal traits of change readiness, as follows:

1) Resourcefulness:

- the bias for action & able to utilise whatever resources that are available to develop plans & contingencies;

2) Adaptability:

- the mental flexibility & emotional resilience in the face of challenges, obstacles & setbacks, if any;

3) Optimism:

- the feeling of enthusiasm & postivity about changes & faith in the future;

4) Confidence:

- a strong sense of self-esteem, & belief in own ability to handle & tackle changes;

5) Adventurousness:

- an inclination to take risks & courage to pursue the unknown;

6) Tolerance for ambiguity:

- prepared to deal with any indefiniteness or uncertainty in the environment;

7) Passion & Drive:

- the personal dynamism, physical energy & emotional vitality to pursue what really matters;

[Robert J Kriegel is also the author of 'If It Ain't Broke . . . Break It!', 'How to Succeed in Business without Working so Damn Hard' & 'C Zone: Peak Performance under Pressure'. I particularly like the author’s first book ('Sacred Cows'), which has lots of specific ideas on building a change-ready outfit & provides a self-scoring test on your change-readiness.]


When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill.
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh.
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don't you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As everyone of us sometimes learns.
And many a fellow turns about, When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don't give up though the pace seems slow,
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man.
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor's cup.
And he learned too late when the night came down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out,
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt.
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems afar.
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit,
It's when things seem worst that you mustn't quit.

[Source: Unknown]


The following ideas just come quickly to mind when I was thinking about what are the essential considerations for working smart in today's knowledge economy:


- apply Pareto's Law or 80:20 Rule;

- go for the 'Big Rocks';

- focus on high-payout activities;

- find niches;

- it's also important to go for the long haul, as knowledge-intensive business is not for sprinters, but marathon runners;


- without being organised, nothing else will work effectively & efficiently;

- working smart starts with self-organisation or self-management, as this powerful habit helps you to hold & sustain focus on the most important things you need to do in your life;

- for me, one of the most important thing to consider is where you can access your stored information, irrespective of whether it is hard or soft copy, in a timely manner i.e. to say, information must be readily availabe at your fingertips;

- be technology-enabled, but first establish your master control system so that you know what goes where;

- the 'Four Focusing Checkpoints System' as expounded in the book, 'The Power of Focus' is worth exploring as an organising platform: 'One-Year Vision', '60-Day Action Plan', '7-Day Focus' & 'Daily Snapshot';


- you can broaden your horizon, but you need to narrow down your focus to few core activities;

- use your wheel of life as a starting point for simplying activities &/or relationships;

- work-life balance should be the norm in your pursuits;

- constantly look for ways to streamline your internal systems & processes;

- explore ways to produce more outputs with less inputs, e.g. from people, environments, technology, etc.;

- in today's knowledge economy, all you need is an effective & responsive system with - or through - which people &/or clients can reach &/or communicate with you quickly;

- the ultimate aim to be & continue to stay quick & nimble in initial response as well as end delivery at all times;

- selective outsourcing is one possibility for simplication of your activities;


- amplify/build on your strengths, but reduce/minimise your problems; of course, don't forget to maximise/exploit all the opportunities out there, while be poised to contain/reduce the impact of contingencies, if any;

- teaching & coaching others is a form of leverage;

- blogging, podcasting, webcasting, publishing, licensing, are some other possibilities;

- regularly explore how you can learn from other people's ideas, experiences, successes, failures, etc.;


- today it is the fast that eats the slow, so always be technology-enabled, in your reading, research, writing, presentation, communication;

- learn & master the best productivity tools available in the marketplace;


- join business & social networks, locally & globally;

- form strategic alliances &/or consortium partnerships;

- attend business conferences;

- maintain excellent client relationships, as referral is another way to multiply business;

- explore other ways of build on the multiplying factor in collaboration, synergy & complementation;

- don't forget to explore technology enablement - hardware, software, peripheral devices - to multiply your personal effectiveness & professional competence;

Back in the eighties, IBM had launched their IBM PC in 1981, & I had acquired my first portable computer in 1982. In fact, together with my gym buddy, who was then also my colleague in the same firm, we were far ahead of our contemporaries in terms of technology enablement.

Throughout the eighties & the nineties, I had explored all kinds of hardwares, softwares & peripheral devices to enhance peak performance & personal productivity.

Coupled with the newly acquired skills sets of personal mastery during the ensuing years, especially 'Accelerated Learning', 'PhotoReading', 'Visual Tools', & 'Strategic Thinking', & also with the timely advent of the Internet during the mid-nineties, I realised that my momentum in learning & skill acquisition had seemingly accelerated to literally warp speeds, thus allowing me to perform effectively as a strategy consultant for small businesses, in addition to, functioning efficiently as a success coach to professionals & students.


"You can't fix what has failed with a new improved verson of what isn''t working."
(Dudley Lynch, founder of 'Brain Technologies'; also author of 'Strategy of the Dolphin', 'Code of the Monarch', 'Your High Performance Business Brain', among many other classics;)