Saturday, March 15, 2008


Here is a link to the Trump University website, where you can read three interesting articles under the byline, 'Inside Trump Tower':

1) 'Focus on the Top & You’ll Get There', by Donald J. Trump;

2) 'Think Yourself to Success', by Luc d’Abadie;

3) 'The Game of Life', by Adam Eisenstat;

As most readers probably know that all three gentlemen are affiliated to the Trump University.


"Your life is what you make it.

The opportunity is within YOU.

It's not in your environment.

It's not in luck or chance, neither is it found in others.

It's found in YOU!

When the door of opportunity appears closed, you must knock on it & keep knocking until it opens.

Be an opener of doors.

YOU can build up your opportunities by applying persistence & tenacity to all your possibilities.

Success doesn't come to you - YOU must go to it!"

(Shelley Taylor-Smith, a leading success coach from Down Under; also a Seven-time World Champion marathon swimmer; & now, founder & director of Champion Mindset Consulting;)


[continued from the Last Post]

When I go inside or plonk into a book, so to speak, I always look for the perspective &/or viewpoint of the author. In reading terminology, we call this 'probing the author'.

It is quite safe to say that there isn't any more new things under the sun.

For me, I reckon it is often the author's perspective &/or viewpoint on any subject or topic that makes his or her writing different &/or exciting. Interweaving with his or her own personal experience, he or she often helps to give the apparently old stuff a new twist.

I always feel that reading exposure to many new & diverse perspectives &/or viewpoints of different authors broaching the same old topic often helps me to broaden my mental horizons.

The resultant effect is that I can create & use many possible windows to look at problems or issues of interest.

Let me give an example.

Edward de bono, the progenitor of lateral thinking, approaches the way we look at the world from the standpoint of 'pattern making'. He believes our brains are very good in creating or making patterns.

Hence, he thinks that, in order to be creative, we need to 'break patterns'. [Edward de bono holds the view that we are 'habitually uncreative'.]

Joel Arthur Barker likes to use the term 'paradigms' to describe the way we look at the world.

Hence, he thinks that the best way to get out of our 'paradigm effects' is to do some 'paradigm shifting'. In fact, he urges us to embrace what he calls 'paradigm pliancy'.

Dr Ellen Langer of Harvard University takes a slightly different route.

She uses the term 'mindlessness' to describe our habitually ingrained way of looking at the same old world. She offers an innovative approach with a gamut of tips to go about it: 'mindfulness'.

Other authors like to use the term 'mindset' to describe the same phenomenon. For solutions, they offer tips on how to do a 'mind reset'. Interestingly, Carol Dweck, a Stanford University trained psychologist, even comes up with an innovative approach to move from a 'fixed mindset' to a 'growth mindset'.

Let me give another example.

I first came across the concept of developing the 21st century mindset from reading the works of Dr Marsha Sinetar, a psychologist. She even wrote a book about it, entitled 'Developing a 21st Century Mind' during the early nineties.

For solutions, she offers what she calls 'positive structuring' techniques to deal with the new world.

Then came Dr Jennifer James, an anthropologist, who has also broached the same topic with her book entitled 'Thinking in the Future Tense' during the mid-nineties or so.

For solutions, she offers a host of interesting techniques to deal with the changing world, under what she calls 'new forms of intelligences'.

Both authors have specifically drawn unique insights from their own consulting practices, but have slightly different perspectives &/or viewpoints.

Another example to go.

Futurists & trend watchers like Alvin Toffler & John Naisbitt first talked about global or macro trends during the seventies & the eighties respectively. They also wrote several books on the subject, in relatively broad terms, but enough to give me an introductory understanding as well as appreciation.

However, it was other good books by many different authors, to name a few like Jeff Davidson, Richard Saul Wurman, Kathryn Alesandrini, Michael McCarthy, & David Lewis, that eventually helped me to understand the implications & ramifications of information overload.

More specifically, they had offered specific strategies & techniques to deal with the phenomenon as described by the two futurists.

For me, having many different perspectives &/or viewpoints from reading & interaction with myriad of authors often gives me more intellectual capacity to think through problems & issues of interest.

All these bring me back to the ultimate point that we should also read widely, in order to get more perspectives &/or viewpoints about the world we live, work & play.

[to be continued in the Next Post]

Friday, March 14, 2008


"Great achievers have a vision that they will succeed and sometimes even see the steps leading to their success.

So, in my opinion, what makes a champion, and I mean a champion in the broadest sense, is a champion mindset.

And, if you have done something great in one field, you are more able to do it in another.

Your champion mindset is the transferable commodity and not the skill itself. It is our mindsets which ultimately limit our expectations of ourselves and which circumscribe our boundaries.

It is our mindsets which determine whether or not we have the courage to challenge others and to expand our horizons."

(Dr Allan Snyder, Director of Centre for the Mind at The University of Sydney, Australia; he is recognised for groundbreaking discoveries covering the fields of visual neurobiology, communications, optical physics & the mind sciences. )


[continued from the Last Post]

According to Brent Powers, author of '8 Patterns of Highly Effective Entrepreneurs', these are the requisite entrepreneurial traits for succeeding in the business world:

1) an aptitude for spotting & seizing opportunities;

2) an overwhelming urge to be in charge, coupled with a natural gift for leading others in pursuing business goals;

3) a flexibility or agility to come up with creative out-of-the-box solutions to bsuiness problems & obstacles;

4) a talent for improvisation, i.e. constantly testing the business concept by asking 'will it work?';

5) a fierce drive, incredible energy & dogged tenacity in the pursuit of business goals;

6) an unfailing pragmatism in one's business & a tolerance for ambiguity in the marketplace;

7) an unshakable conviction in the potential of one's product;

8) a knack for viewing setbacks as opportunities for learning & growth;

Although presented logically in the form of important entrepreneurial characteristics, one can easily position them as skill sets for dealing with challenges & obstacles the 21st century.

I reckon that, framing within the context of 21st century skills, I don't need to elaborate much on the applicability of the foregoing characteristics.

To me, running your ownself is no different from running your business.

In reality, you are your CEO. You are also your #1 product. The world out there is also your marketplace in the same context.


[continued from the Last Post]

According to Keith Cameron Smith, author of 'The Top 10 Distinctions between Millionaires & the Middle Class', these are the behavioural distinctions:

1) thinking long term;

2) talking about ideas;

3) embracing change;

4) taking calculated risks;

5) continuously learning & growing;

6) working for profits;

7) believing in generosity;

8) having a multitude of income streams;

9) focusing on increasing net worth;

10) asking empowering questions;

To the author, millionaires apparently "do things differently", as reflected in the foregoing behavioural distinctions.

Obviously, the author has a primary focus on "creating wealth" & "developing financial freedom".

To me, I see "the things they do differently" as more or less the vital skill sets one would need in order to survive & thrive in the 21st century.

That is to say, they can be repositioned as 21st century skill sets.

I reckon #1 to #5 are pretty straight forward & do need any further clarification.

I would like to equate the remaining stuff as follow:

#6 - working for profits = working for value generation;

#7 - believing in generosity = believing in helping as well as motivating others e.g. peers, colleagues, subordinates, etc., to succeed;

#8 - having a multitude of income streams = having a wide repertoire of capabilities & competencies to deal with future challenges & obstacles;

#9 - focusing in increasing net worth = focusing in increasing net worth, not only in financial terms, but also in intellectual, emotional & spiritual terms;

BOOK REVIEW: 'Learn With the Classics - Using Music To Study Smart at Any Age', by Ole Andersen

During the years, from the early 90's, of running my own small retail store, aptly called 'The Brain Resource', I often use this book to help my customers in selecting ambient music pieces for their learning & thinking environments.

This book is actually the first-of-its-kind, step-by-step guide to using the world's greatest musical masterworks for learning of all types, for teaching, & for corporate training as well as for professional development.

In this well-written book, the authors share twelve powerful learning strategies.

It has also a companion music CD sampler of beautiful, scientifically selected Baroque as well as Classical era pieces. [The Baroque & Classical eras in history have often been considered the most productive & enriching in terms of human evolution.]

In a nut shell, 'Learn with the Classics' is jam-packed with solid information on how the brain works, how music affects the brain & learning, & how to put that information to practical use.

Judging from my customers' feedback, I have found that it is an essential tool for all those who want to learn comprehensively, rapidly, & without stress.

It is also a valuable resource for teachers, trainers, & parents (highly useful for home schooling parents!).

Also, I would like to add that the powerful strategies are easy to implement & really effective.

If you wonder about the following questions, 'Learn with the Classics' is definitely the resource that will finally provide all the answers you need:

- Why should I use music for learning?

- How do I use Baroque and classical music for learning? For teaching? For training?

- How can I use it on the job, for professional development, and for lifelong learning?

- How can I use music to help my child overcome the fear of learning and make it fun and exciting?

- How can I use music to improve my memory? Can it help me retain large amounts of information for school? For my job?

- How do I choose the music? What music do I choose for specific learning activities?

Highly recommended for learning & understanding the mechanics of creating a conducive environment for studying & thinking!

[This book is an excellent companion to the Baroque & Classical music collections, under the 'Relax with the Classics' label, from the Lind Institute, based in San Francisco, USA.]

Thursday, March 13, 2008


If I have the power & ability to change something that would enable me to have my life the way I really want it, what would I change?


"You cannot stop the change, but you can shape it to your advantage."

(Daniel Burrus, CEO & founder of Burrus Research Associates, who is considered one of the world's leading technology forecasters & business strategists;)


'The Secret to Building a Successful Business on Your Own' is actually the sub-title to the book, entitled 'Go It Alone' by Bruce Judson, an entrepreneur as well as an expert on marketing & entrepreneurship.

The author had been featured in The Wall Street Journal, in which he talked about his hard knocks during the dot-com boom & subsequent bust.

You can read the entire book for free at this link.

I particularly enjoyed reading the part where the author touched on the power of focus, starting from page 46 of the book.

Enjoy your reading & assimilation!


According to Dr Peter Dingle, Associate Professor in Health & the Environment at Murdoch University in Perth, Western Australia:

To tap into our power of focus, we should learn to ask questions that focus on solutions.

Instead of poor & disempowering questions like:

- "Why me?"
- "What's wrong with me?"
- "How come this always happens to me?"
- "Why do I procrastinate so much?"
- "Why do I keep such a sloppy desk?"

we should ask good & empowering questions like:

- "How can I do better?"
- "How can I use that idea?"
- "How do I become more productive?"
- "How can I improve my life, relationships & work?"
- "How can I continually improve myself?"

His end analysis is that all these have to do with the law of attraction.

Good questions create new possibilities & new futures. Poor questions focus on the problem, not the solution, & don't help. Get the picture? You get what you focus on.


While surfing the net as well as running through the Amazon online store, I have come to know about two relatively new books, which I have yet to acquire & read.

What struck me most from the synopsis & table of contents of the two books was the applicability of the concepts propounded by the two authors in helping one to develop what I would like to call the '21st century mindset'.

Let me explain.

The first book is 'The Top 10 Distinctions between Millionaires & the Middle Class' by Keith Cameron Smith, an entrepreneure "who had many successes & failures in his own businesses & real estate investments".

The second book is '8 Patterns of Highly Effective Entrepreneurs' by Brent Powers, a former editor of the New York Times & The Asian Wall Street Journal.

Judging from the book title alone, it is obvious that the first book is about creating wealth & building financial freedom, & the second book, about developing the entrepreneurial mindset.

When I took a close look at the synopsis of each book, I realise that the behavioural distinctions & habitual traits as outlined by the two authors respectively can be applied to developing the '21st century mindset'.

I will explain in greater detail in my next & subsequent posts how I have seen them that way & how one can apply them.

[to be continued in the Next Post]


I love books, & of course, I love to read. I also love to read widely.

Reading a book is an easy task. It's taking away what you have read - & assimilating into your life - that takes discipline & practice.

I call it 'extracting gold from your reading'.

Over the years, I have honed my reading skills. Besides learning - & mastering - PhotoReading, I also have picked up a lot of other ancillary strategies & tactics to read faster, probing critically, comprehend quickly, & assimilating fully what I have read.

In this & subsequent posts, I like to share with readers what I have learned & how to go about 'extracting gold from your reading'.

There are generally a few important things to be considered as a vital part of the gold extraction process whenever I read a book, & they can be broadly categorised as follows:

1) perspective or viewpoint;

2) explanation or elaboration of a viewpoint or concept, including diagrams, photos, & other visual tools;

3) end chapter &/or global summary of key points in the book;

4) anecdotes & examples;

5) probing questions & illustrative exercises, if any;

6) other recommended authors, their books & other resources;

7) bibliography or references at the end of the book;

8) foot notes & marginal notes in the book;

[to be continued in the Next Post]

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


A lot had already been written about Fred Smith & also on how he came about in conceptualising & eventually starting the fully integrated ground/air system for overnight delivery now known as FedEx or Federal Express.

In this particular post, I just want to share what I had actually learned from him.

I will use his personal insights, gathered over the years in my search for personal mastery, as the starting point:

"I don't think that there was any one incident that changed my life. It was simply the observation of a lot of people that I admired. I synthesized a lot of things from . . . there'd been a lot of people on this planet before my time who might have a thing or two to say that were of use. So, I got a lot of things from a lot of people. I picked & chose."

"I think it is the ability to assimilate information from a lot of different disciplines all at once - particularly information about change, because from change comes opportunity. The common traits of people who have vision is that they spend a lot of time reading & gathering information, & then synthesise it until they come up with an idea."

"The most important piece of advice that I could give them is to take advantage of the tremendous reservoir of knowledge that's out there today. Spend some time learning how the world has evolved. There are a lot of good lessons in history, & other peoples' experiences in the past, that could be exactly the solution to the problem you're looking for. Particularly today, with everything available on-line & on the Internet, and with quick delivery of books or whatever you need, to not take advantage of this educational opportunity is a real tragedy."

Riding on the shoulders of giants. Continuous & never ending learning. Sound familiar?

[More information about Fred Smith & his proven management philosophies at FedEx can be found at this link.]


How can I find the power of focus to build a worthwhile journey?


"If you take risk out of life, you take opportunity out of life."

(Nido Qubein)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


I found the following interesting rules for navigating the river of life by serendipity while surfing the net.

The rules are based on the book, 'A River Worth Riding: Fourteen Rules for Navigating Life', by Lynn Marie Sager.

Here is a link to the author's personal weblog. [Don't miss her posts respectively entitled 'Can you pass a quiz that over 8% of its takers fail?' & 'What are MASTERed goals?']

In a nutshell, these are the rules:

Rules of the River

The author advises: Take one rule at a time, give it one week's strict attention, and leave the rest of the rules to their "ordinary chance."

Rule One
Boats float for a reason.
If you can figure out the reason, you can float too.
The Power of Cause and Effect

Rule Two
You see dangerous rapids ahead
while I see an exciting ride.
We all see the river not as it is, but as we believe it to be.
The Power of Definition and Belief

Rule Three
The River is just the river.
Any problem that you have is a reflection of your boat.
The Power of Reflection

Rule Four
Lots to see on the river.
If all you see are rapids, you haven’t been paying attention.
The Power of Focus

Rule Five
Instead of complaining about the wind,
you could learn to adjust your sails.
The Power of Strategy

Rule Six
No such thing as an empty water jug.
Air pours in as water pours out.
The Power of Vacuum

Rule Seven
Rivers carve canyons one rock at a time.
The Power of Process and Growth

Rule Eight
An innocent may attempt to dry himself midstream,
but only a fool blames water for being wet.
The Power of Responsibility

Rule Nine
Keep the river clean and you’ll always have water.
The Power of Contribution and Compensation

Rule Ten
Fish swim in schools for a reason.
The Power of Attraction

Rule Eleven
Water, and everything else, tends to evaporate.
The Power of Entropy

Rule Twelve
If you want your crew to listen,
learn to speak their language.
The Power of Communication and Understanding

Rule Thirteen
Captains chart courses for their reasons, not yours.
The Power of Persuasion and Influence

Rule Fourteen
People design their journeys
based upon the captains they most admire.
The Power of Indirect Effort

Last but not least, & before you cast off, please read her parting advisory 'Some advice from 200 years ago'.


The following essay is attributed to Anthony Robbins, internationally acclaimed peak performance expert & success coach:

"Nothing in life has any meaning except the meaning you give it. If you don't like the way you're feeling, change the meaning."

What are emotions? Emotions are nothing but feelings or a state of mind where your conscious focus generated a certain mental and physical state.

The way we feel is arguably the most important thing in life. No matter what we want whether it be more money, better relationships, more time or a better body, it all comes down to emotions. Huh? Yes! See it is not a better body or more money you are really after but rather the feelings you associate to having more money or a better body.

Emotions form the core of our lives and more specifically the 7 human emotions that drive our behaviour.

All the emotions we experience are not only rooted in our own minds, but they are even "created" by us.

Some people think that the emotions they experience are entirely out of their control and that emotions are spontaneous reactions to the events of our lives.

If we are going to take control of our emotions, especially the 7 human emotions, then we need to understand that avoiding, denying or ignoring emotions will harm you more than actually dealing with them.

There are those that believe that there are 7 human emotions that drive all human behaviour.

In reality there are only two human emotions that drive us. These two emotions are Pain and Pleasure.

Everything we do in our lives we do either out of our need to avoid pain or our need to gain pleasure.

These two categories of emotions contain all of either the positive or the negative of the 7 human emotions.

The positive spectrum of the 7 human emotions will drive us to pleasure and that is why we pursue them.

The negative spectrum of the 7 human emotions will drive us towards pain and that is why we will do anything to avoid it.

It is also important to notice that we will do more to avoid painful emotions than we will do to gain pleasurable emotions as this is instinctive to our nature as human beings.

The 7 human emotions of Pain are:

1. Fear
2. Hatred
3. Anger
4. Greed
5. Jealousy
6. Revenge
7. Superstition

These are the emotions we are all trying to avoid as the experience of them will inevitable be a painful emotion.

The 7 human emotions of pleasure are:

1. Love
2. Sex
3. Hope
4. Faith
5. Sympathy
6. Optimism
7. Loyalty

"The secret of success is learning to use pain and pleasure instead of having pain and pleasure use you. If you do that you are in control of your life. If you don't life controls you"

All emotions serve a purpose and a very important purpose as such. We all want to experience the positive side of the 7 human emotions and often we seek for it in the wrong places.

Drugs, alcohol, smoking ex. are all devises we use to get out of pain and into pleasure. They are things we do to instantaneously suppress the negative emotions we may experience.

The truth is that suppressing or ignoring an emotion will only amplify it until you deal with it. If we heed and utilize the signals that emotions give us we can change the quality of our lives and experience of life immediately.

[Source: Tony Robbins' Audio Books at Self Improvement Gym]


"Nature has placed mankind under the government of two sovereign masters, pain & pleasure . . . they govern us in all we do, in all we say, in all we think: every effort we can make to throw off our subjection, will serve but to demonstrate & confirm it"

(Jeremy Bentham, 1748-1832, English philosopher, economist & social reformer, best known as founder of 'philosphical radicalism';)


Have you ever had the experience of looking at someone intensely, & suddenly they turned around & looked right back at you?

Or felt someone looking at you, you turned around & saw that very person?

This is essentially the power of focus at work, as it has energy.

Monday, March 10, 2008


Here is a link to another excellent article about the power of focus.

It has been written by Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer of N2Growth, a venture growth consultancy.

In the article, he shares a four-pronged strategy that he has used to maintain disciplined focus for the last two decades.

His strategy focuses on only four critical elements:

1) Vision;

2) Tactical Business Plans;

3) Task Management;

4) Gut Checks;

In tactical terms, I can see that the foregoing strategy resonates with the 'Focus Check Points' strategy as outlined by Jack Canfield & his buddies in their book, 'The Power of Focus'. Well, great minds think alike!


"Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you."

(Oprah Winfrey)


Here is a link to an excellent article on the power & techniques of focusing.

Although it has been specifically written by a martial arts practitioner from the Aikido Institute in Oakland, California, USA. it is readily applicable in normal layperson situations.

I particularly like the author's progressive instructions to developing the power of focus.


MM Lee Kuan Yew hit the bull's eye when he commented officially for the first time on the recent escape of Mas Selamat Kastari, one of the top brains in the JI terrorist network, from our detention centre.

"The escape . . . is a very severe lesson in complacency & it shows that Singapore is not infallible."

I firmly believe that the same lesson can also apply in our personal as well as professional life in today context, if we don't constantly review & check our performance on the highway of life.

I particularly like when he talked about 'sizing up'.

'Sizing up' cuts both ways: You size up the world around you, & so does the world around you that sizes you up, too.

Worst of all, your competitors never sleep!

The crux of this dilemma is: Don't take things for granted!

Sunday, March 9, 2008


1) In an increasingly turbulent world, how do I recognise & understand the inevitable surprises that lie ahead?

2) Given those inevitable surprises, which steps must be taken that would allow me to thrive?

3) What do I need to do when new obstacles reveal themselves?

(inspired by Peter Schwartz's 'The Art of the Long View' & 'Inevitable Surprises')


After all the many posts I have made to date with regard to the power of focus, this is just my quick summary of the simple steps one need to take on the highway of life, & staying on course:

1) Be absolutely clear about what you want & where you want to go;

2) Pause to make the effort & take the time to evaluate where you're actually going;

3) Maintain a laser-type focus on your destination;

4) Keep building one step at a time on what has been done before;

5) Make it a point to do a little everyday;

6) Review your progress & make any needed adjustment/modification;

7) Avoid any temptation or distraction to give up too soon;


"Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything."

(George Bernard Shaw)