Saturday, October 25, 2008


1. What do I want or need to change?

2. Why do I want or need to change it?

3. When do I want to change it?

4. Who is going to help me to change it?

5. Where do I want to make changes?

6. How am I going to change it?

7. Which area or aspect of the change I want or need to start first?

~ inspired by 'Dare to be different . . . Change & Innovate! Learning System', from business innovation strategist Joe Murtagh, known as 'The Dream Speaker';


"Once the goals have been clearly defined, with the greatest amount of determination & hard work, one can conclusively realise one's goals."

~ Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong, 1918-2007, founder of & entrepreneurial genius behind Asia's best international casino resort & holiday destination on Genting Highlands, Malaysia; today, his holding company, the Genting Group, has a combined market capitalisation of US$14 billion & employs 27,000 people globally; incidentally, his group has also won the bid in obtaining the second casino license & building an integrated resort, named Resorts World at Sentosa, in Singapore; his autobiography, 'My Story', released in 2004, is really a very inspiring read;


While window-shopping at Lucky Plaza yesterday morning, I have stumbled upon this creative thinking book at a make-shift stall purveying used books at the atrium foyer.

As I have heard of the author's name earlier from several of my business associates, I just grabbed the book. Also, the book, in its third edition, has been written by a Malaysian author/creativity consultant, Yew Kam Keong.

In a nutshell, the book shares the author's 3-principle/5-step/8-pathway approach to activating creativity. In that respect, I find his principal premise to be generally valid & sensible.

What I like the book most are the many 'Stories of Creativity' & the interesting 'MindXercises'.

For me, I find it refreshing to read the invention stories of two Malaysians, Dr Gurcharan Singh ( Tara Klamp disposable circumcision device) & Chan Boon Soo (Zowin double-head toothbrush).

However, I am very surprised that the author did not include the late Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong, the enterprising genius behind Asia's best international casino resort on Genting Highlands, Malaysia, in the 'Stories of Creativity'.

I have read Tan Sri's inspiring autobiography a few years ago, from which I have learned that his rough journey to entrepreneurial success was beautifully exemplified by his acute power of observation (& a keen nose for smelling good opportunities), a critical attribute of successful creators as highlighted by the author in 'You Are Creative':

~ as a contractor, he saw his dream project in the mind (by observing - & associating - visiting people who were enjoying themselves on Cameron Highlands) during the mid-sixties, when all his detractors could only see dense virgin tropical jungle with inaccessible & rugged mountain terrain on the 1,800m Gunung Ulu Kali, just 58 km from the Malaysian capital.

[I just love the way Tan Sri put it: "The Genting Highlands project basically fitted my idea of an ideal business. No one was interested in it, which meant no competition."]

Coming back to this book, I must say that the author has nonetheless put together an inspiring book for the reader.

There are some "distractions" of course, as I like to call them, coming primarily from technical & typographical errors I have spotted at first glance. Presumably, the publisher/editor/author didn't do their homework probably.

Here's a rough list of them:

- Thomas Edison held 1,093 patents; not 100 as mentioned;

- Under 'MindXercise #3.2: The Power of Observation': I believe the right question to ask the reader should be 'What do you see?' with the optical illusions, because that's what really happens in the real world where you won't get any preemption;

- Walt Disney used the 'story-boarding' technique, which eventually became more or less the film industry's de facto method in story sequencing; 'Displayed Thinking' was a marketing term used by creativity guru Mike Vance, who once worked for Walt Disney, in the latter's three books, namely, 'Raise the Bar', 'Think Out of The Box', & 'Breakout of the Box' [in fact, I still own a desktop version of his 'Displayed Thinking' tool];

- Frankly, I feel that the author should have elaborated a little bit more, especially for uninitiated readers, about the concept of 'underwater swimming' from Win Wenger in specific reference to its relationship to physical & mental development; [Incidentally, Japan's inventor extraordinaire, Yoshiro Nakamatsu or better known as Dr Nakamats, is a true practitioner of 'underwater swimming' - surprisingly, a highly relevant fact not mentioned in the book];

- First, I must compliment the author for his innovative introductory 'MindXercise #1.2: The Greatest Secret': according to the author, the Jig-words were supposed to be printed in italics, but, were not done so; also, to my dismay, Jig-word #8 was apparently missing, most probably due to the inexcusable oversight of the author &/or the editor during all the excitement of enlarging this book from the second edition; or is it due to my momentary 'blind spot', so to speak?;

- the 'Quotes on Creativity' at the end of the book is definitely an overkill, as it accounts for more than 25% of the book's pages; for me, the quotes serve no real purpose, other than filling material, unless they tie in with the relevant text passages or accentuate the author's points in the book;

Nevertheless, to be fair to the author, I am not going to allow these "distractions" to belittle the usefulness of this book.

Frankly, I have really enjoyed reading this book, especially some of the "Stories of Creativity" which are very refreshing to read. The 'Fire Brigade' story about crank calls from bored kids is one good example.

Like other Malaysian authors e.g. Billi Lim & his 'Dare to Fail', Kam Keong has ostensibly written his book with warmth & succinctness.

To end my review, I want to say that this book is worth reading, nothwithstanding the "distractions".

[More information about the author & his work can be found on his corporate website. He calls himself aptly, 'Chief Mind Zipper'.]

Friday, October 24, 2008


"I believe life is a series of near misses. A lot of what we ascribe to luck is not luck at all. It's seizing the day & accepting responsibility for your future. It's seeing what other people don't see & pursuing that vision."

~ Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks;


While waiting for my wife at Lucky Plaza this morning on our usual window-shopping routine, I was attracted by a wide variety of perfumes & toiletries on display just behind the glass panel of a small retail outlet.

For a quick moment as I took the snapshot with my Nokia handphone N93, I thought I saw 'Orgasm' instead of 'Organza'.

It was actually a bottle of Givenchy Organza First Light eau de toilette. Maybe that partially explained my momentary distortion or blindspot.

Gee Whiz! the brain can really play tricks with us.


I like to share a wonderful gem with readers.

Matt Taylor, the superb brain (together with his significant half, Gail Taylor) behind the 'fast company' M G Corporation, has a long list of books, more than 500, that he believed necessary to be read & understood if one was to successfully navigate the future & thrive well into the 21st century.

For the uninitiated, M G Corporation, founded in the late seventies, is essentially a conglomerate of versatile outfits that function together as a system integrator.

The outfits synergise their unique talents, capabilities as well as resources, to create an exceptional operational ability to deal with complexity, the rate of change & the requisite-variety problem.

Working together under the umbrella of M G Corporation, these outfits provide a maelstrom of goods, services & expertise to create high-performance collaborative work environments to client organisations of all types & sizes all over the world.

The physical environments, work processes & work augmentation technologies they have thus created fully support what Matt Taylor calls 'Group Genius': "the ability of diverse groups of people come together & solve complex, systemic problems in a radically shortened time-frame".

You can read about them at this link.

Interestingly, their work had also been captured in a book, entitled 'Leaping the Abyss: Putting Group Genius to Work', by Chris Peterson & Gayle Pergamit, which I had read with great delight during the late nineties.

I was attracted to the above-mentioned book by an earlier article I had read in the 'Fast Company' magazine during the late nineties. You can read the article at this link.

As luck is now on your side, you can actually read the book free-of-charge online at this link.

As for the 500+ books, which Matt Taylor calls 'Curriculum for the 21st century', you can also read about their origins as well as their composition in the list at this link.

For a more complete list of the 500+ books, please proceed to this link.

For me, the listed books really explored a very broad spectrum of subject areas, from ancient histories to future scenarios, from fiction to non-fiction & from mundane to out-of-this-world.

I have read many of the titles, & am still exploring many of the other titles which I haven't read before.

I certainly like what Gail Taylor has openly shared her own personal thoughts about reading all those books, particularly with regard to the concept of "ideas build upon each other" & "nothing came from nothing but rather through the assimilation of a collection of thoughts & ideas perturbing our minds & catalysing new ideas - perhaps, higher order ideas".

Please bear in mind that the 500+ book list is evolving, even though Matt Taylor has compiled it since the mid-seventies. He is apparently doing his best to update it. So, at the moment, I reckon it represents "work in progress" or as he calls it, "part time work".

To me, Matt Taylor is a little bit like Leonardo da vinci. He has kept great notes of his thinking or thoughtwares for the last fifty years or so. You can read much of his or his company's heavily-hyperlinked stuff at this link as well as at this earlier link.

Understandably, a lot of his other or his company's other goodies are password-protected.

Nevertheless, enjoy your exploration & assimilation!

[From the intellectual standpoint of facilitating & empowering group genius, I rank Matt Taylor with Jim Channon of Arcturus & David Sibbet of Grove Consultants. Ever since the nineties, I have always been fascinated by the brilliant work of these three maestros.]

Thursday, October 23, 2008


"Creativity represents a miraculous coming together of the uninhibited energy of the child with its apparent opposite & enemy, the sense of order imposed on . . . the disciplined adult intelligence."

~ Norman Podhoretz, Editor-in-Chief of the Commentary Magazine from 1960-1995; ranks among the most prominent American editors of the 20th century; an outspoken proponent for what he viewed as ethical right & wrong;


Yesterday was Wednesday.

Normally, on every Wednesday night, I will meet up for drinks with my social buddies in 'The Wednesday Club' at the NUSS Guild House in Kent Ridge. However, in recent months, my wife & I have chosen to be out of the social circuit.

This is partly because the venue has been changed from Kent Ridge to Suntec City, which is further away, & also partly because keeping late nights, even though it's only once a week, often make getting up early the next morning for gym practice an uphill task.

The last time I had met 'The Wednesday Club' buddies was about a month ago. We had a Chinese dinner together near Sixth Avenue, but my wife & I didn't join them for drinks at Suntec City.

So, last night I took the opportunity to round up three of my other buddies whom I have not met for about a year. We met first at my home in Jurong West, & then adjourned to my neighbourhood food court for curry fish-head & BBQ stingray.

Unfortunately, in my excitement, I forgot to take a digital snapshot. I probably will do that the next time we meet again.

Here's a quick intro of my good buddies:

- Anthony Tan, a stock-broker turned strategy consultant in human capital management; he happens to be one of my very first subscribers to my newsletter, 'Left-Brain/Right-Brain Newsletter' during the early nineties; also, we were the only two participants in the 9-day Avatar training in Singapore under an 'Avatar' Master from Australia, Michael Graham; he went on to complete his 'Avatar Master' as well as 'Avatar Wizard' training in the United States; he now runs his own strategy consulting outfit out of his home under Transformation Technologies Pte Ltd.;

- Evan Lee, a marketer in bio-medical equipment & supplies to hospitals; I had met him in one of the Toastmasters' evening meetings during the early nineties; incidentally, he has also undergone the 'Avatar' training under Anthony Tan, & subsequently proceeded to the United States to complete his 'Avatar Master' training;

- Nelson Tan, a retired Chartered Accountant, who now explores investments in real estate & forex trading; I had met him in the early eighties when we, together with our spouses, were fellow passengers in a 24-day Kent Air Holidays tour group to Europe; incidentally, he & I were also fellow participants in an 'Alpha in Action' weekend workshop conducted by Falu, a highly-spirited lady from Australia, during the late eighties;

On hindsight, I just realised that a common thread unwittingly passed through four of us: we are all graduates of the 3-1/2 day 'Money & You' program at different places/times of our lives.

Having stayed in quite close touch after so many years ever since we had met each other, yesterday's night was another opportune occasion in "keeping the socialisation process in active mode", to take a cue from experts on successful aging & brain longevity.

Naturally, we talked about the cost of doing business, & more importantly, of living in Singapore; delved briefly into the challenges of entrepreneurship in a small business environment like Singapore; exchanged end-user ideas about the latest gadgets, like the iPhone, & also productivity softwares; & explored ideas how to leverage our retirement savings by exploring some investments in the region e.g. Vietnam.

By 10pm, we decided to call it a day & mutually agreed to meet again.

For me, & I am sure my buddies would concur, that it is always nice to touch base with old buddies after a long while.


"I thought it would take me about six months. In fact, it took me 4.5 years & I built 5,127 prototypes until I got it right. That sounds tedious. In fact, it was absolutely fascinating. I mean each failure, the 5,126 failures taught me so much. Successes teach you nothing. Failures teach you everything. Making mistakes is the most important thing you can do."

~ Sir James Dyson, founder of Dyson Appliances & Britain's inventor extraordinaire, who has given the world its first revolutionary (but expensive) Dual Cyclone bag-less vacuum cleaner; he has in fact spent over 15 years working in the cellar before finally launching the product in 1993, which became the country's best seller in 2 years; Wow! What a valuable lesson in sheer persistence & unwavering perseverance!

[Source: ideasRevolution weblog by Kempton Lam; I understand that James Dyson's entrepreneurial exploits & learning experiences have been well-documented in his own autobiography, 'Against the Odds', which I haven't yet read;]

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


I am definitely very fascinated by Prof Allan Snyder's reported physical experiments with autistic savants.

[Do you remember the rather poignant movie about the exploits of two Babbit brothers, 'Rain Man', starring Tom Cruise & Dustin Hoffman, who played the older but autistic brother, Raymond, during the eighties?]

Prof Snyder is the Director of the Centre for the Mind, a joint venture between two prestigious Australian universities: the Australian National University & the University of Sydney. He holds impeccable credentials from MIT, Harvard University & University College of London.

Incidentally, Prof Snyder is also the brain behind the 'What Makes a Champion?' Initiative in Australia.

[As a matter of fact, his 'Champion Mindset' model is being used by the MindChamps training outfit, now operating in Singapore, with financial participation from business tycoon Kwek Leng Beng.]

According to him, writing in his contribution ['Learning & Creativity: Accelerated by Suppressing or Circumventing Certain Brain Regions'] to the book, 'Creativity & The Brain', edited by Mario Tokoro, autistic savants reveal the secret of how our inner brain works, & that we can mimic this 'savant effect' by sending electromagnetic pulses through certain sectors of the brain.

The following is a gist of his brilliant ideas:

- autistic savants without any learning skills sometimes show amazing talents;

- this is because autistic savants somehow have direct access to raw or low-level algorithm of the brain;

- healthy adults, on the other hand, are denied this access;

- by electromagnetically stimulating the left side of the brain, however, healthy adults might be able to gain this access;

- in a way, we have a "genius" hiding inside our brain;

He claims that some day in the near future, we might be able to experience the world of genius via a portable 'genius machine' or what he calls a 'thinking cap'.

He is obviously very interested in constructing a device that can amplify a person's creative learning ability.

Come to think of it, I remember Japan's inventor extraordinaire Yoshiro Nakamatsu, or better known as Dr Nakamats, who also has more or less a similar idea. He is apparently the brain behind the digital watch, flopping disk, CD, DVD & taximeter.

Unfortunately, it seems to me that Dr Nakamats is less forthcoming with specific details about his many inventions, but more hyperbolic, when compared to Prof Snyder, who seems more credible, even though the latter has also been described as "agile, playful, audacious, inventive; a man who leaps across boundaries, making unexpected connections, juggling a dozen trains of thought all at once".

Dr Nakamats has in fact invented a sort of reclining lounge chair, which he calls the Cerebrex. The chair is designed with a head rest as well as a foot rest.

Although much of the details are still shrouded in secrecy, he claims that the chair, purportedly using some sort of "electrical current" & "sound frequencies", can enhance mathematical reasoning of the end-user, in addition to giving a short power nap (1 hr of relaxation = 8 hrs of sleep) & relieving jet lag.

Well, let us wait & see whether Prof Snyder can ultimately attain his dreams of constructing a real 'thinking cap'. I would love to have one at my home office if available.

[More information about Dr Nakamats & his inventions can be found on his corporate website.]


Since the mid-eighties, I always seem to have this unquenchable thirst for books about optimum brain performance, especially from a holistic approach.

During those early years, my personal favourites included 'Build Your Brain Power', 'Eat Right, be Bright' followed by 'Brain Workout' & 'Smart Food' in subsequent years, all of them by a neuro-surgeon husband-&-science-writer wife team, Arthur & Ruth Winter.

Naturally, during the intervening & ensuing years, I have also devoured works from other experts, like Dharma Singh Khalsa, Lawrence Katz, Andrew Weil, just to name a few.

I have stumbled upon the work of the Korean-born Ilchi Lee on the net. He seems to be quite a colourful character, & has built quite an extensive global outfit in brain training, plus an understandable tint of controversy, judging from what I read on the net.

Among his many books, I have recently acquired & read his 'Principles of Brain Management: A Practical Approach to Making the Most of Your Brain'.

[I have his other newer book, 'In Full Bloom: A Brain Education Guide for Successful Aging', in my shopping cart with Amazon.]

Compared to the Winters, whose books have that "more physical, concrete, tangible" feel in their stuff in addition to a broader spectrum, Lee's book has that "slightly murky, touchy-feely" kind of stuff, more slanted towards the philosophical & spiritual perspective.

This is not to say that the author's stuff is less credible from the intellectual standpoint.

In fact, I am most impressed by the author's artful blending & skillful machination of all the widely recognisable ideas & concepts from both Eastern & Western disciplines about the mind, which culminates into his trademarked brand, BEST (Brain Education System Training) 5 Programs for the last quarter of a century.

In a nut shell, this book has captured the essence of the BEST 5 by laying out 26 practices or practical drills, under 5 progressive stages, for readers to follow.

The 26 practices form the book's entire collection of yoga-like exercises combined with meditation, challenging physical movements & stimulating intellectual drills under the 5 over-arching stages.

I note that the author's principal premise is generally sound & valid, because studies have shown that the brain can continue to develop & repair itself, even in old age, & that with simple daily exercises & the right kind of mental stimulation, we can learn to strengthen & maintain our brain power to near maximum capacity throughout our lifetime.

In his book, each practice is prefaced by a brief explanation.

The 26 practices are then dove-tailed to suit the 5 over-arching stages, which run from "sensitising" [developing sensory awareness/managing stress response] to "versatilising" [gaining flexibility/adaptability], "refreshing" [creating positive outlook/releasing negativity], "integrating" [maintaining physical & emotional balance] & "mastery" [building transformation].

What surprises me most is that the diet or nutrition element is missing from the BEST 5.

Frankly, I have enjoyed myself while playing or experimenting with some of the practices, which are very easy to implement & follow.

Given a choice, I would relabel the first practice in the book, which the author has labeled as 'Know Thyself', which I thought is somewhat of a misnomer, even though I would fully concur with the author that the exercise is an excellent precursor for many good things to follow.

[Interestingly, in a de-stressed mode, we not only change the pattern of activity in our nervous system, but also reduce the production of the stress hormone, cortisol. When there is less cortisol, there is more DHEA, the so-called fountain-of-youth hormone known to have anti-aging effects on our body system.]

From a tactical perspective, I would prefer the 'Freeze Frame' method in place of the author's suggested method. [Please read Doc Lew Childre's 'Freeze Frame: Fast Action Stress Relief'.]

I would even recommend the reader to get hold of a 'Biodot' to serve as a handy reality check.

To conclude his book, & to my pleasant delight, the author has introduced over 20 pages of appendix, plus a bibliography, to explain the philosophical & scientific foundation of his BEST 5.

His 'Unified Brain' model comprising the two dimensions, laterality & top-down or triune, is certainly interesting.

I would have thought that a third dimension, i.e. front to back, from pre-frontal cortex to the back of the head - creating an imaginary trajectory of future memories through present experiences from past history - would make it more complete as an unified brain.

Notwithstanding what I have said so far, I want to point out that this book is still worth reading, especially for those just looking for a simple guide, with no frills, to develop mindfulness & also to unlock the brain's full potential.

[More information about the author & his work as well as his global outfit can be found at the following websites:,,,,,;]


"What I discovered that creativity is an act of rebellion. To be creative, you have to confront conventional wisdom; you have to break with convention. If you are not willing to be subversive, you will not be creative. After all, something is considered a breakthrough when it is subversive."

~ Dr Allan Snyder, Director of Centre for the Mind, a joint venture between two prestigious Australian universities: the Australian National University & the University of Sydney; he is internationally recognised for his ground-breaking discoveries covering the fields of visual neurobiology, communications, optical physics & the mind sciences;


I have found this little gem while surfing the net today.

"Insight is the understanding, wisdom & intuition you bring to a situation. It is the result of your experience, your ability & willingness to consider alternative ways of viewing the world, & exploring the deepest, enlightened levels of your thoughts . . .

. . . Your insight allows you to see opportunities where others do not. That’s why it’s important to continually work on keeping your insights fresh".

~ Sherrin Ross Ingram, author of 'Wealth Mentality: Program Yourself to Get & Keep the Wealth You Want';

According to the author, one of the best ways to develop or provoke insight is using the daily newspapers.

Look at any of the news items.

Your task is to think about how you can use the news or respond to the situation.

Here are some questions posed by the author to help you brainstorm:

1. How can someone make money now with this information?

2. Who (a type of existing company or a type of person) can make money now with this information?

3. Who (a type of existing company or a type of person) will be hurt by not having this information?

4. How can someone position himself or herself to make money in the future with this information?

5. What assumptions are you making?

6. What would be a better solution/product for the identified market/person?

7. What would be necessary to bring about the better solution/product for the potential market/person?

8. How can you take advantage of this information and the insights you’ve developed about it?

9. Is there a "lesson" or "model" that can be applied to another type of business or situation?

There are no right or wrong answers to the questions.

There are only choices & consequences.

The goal is to regularly exercise your thinking skills to keep them sharp, & ready to take action & improve your ability to uncover & recognize potential wealth building opportunities.

For more information on how to further develop your investing insight, read 'Step Eight: Recognizing Potential Opportunities' in 'Wealth Mentality'.

I am intrigued. So, the abovementioned book is now in my shopping basket with Amazon. That's how I often get my leads to good books.

[Here's the link to the author's website.]


If I knew I couldn't get caught, what would I do?


Life gives answer in 3 ways:

It says Yes n gives u what u want;

It says No n gives u something better;

It says Wait n gives u the Best!

[Source: vgreets.sms Free SMS Services]

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


"Letting your customers set your standards is a dangerous game, because the race to the bottom is pretty easy to win. Setting your own standards - & living up to them - is a better way to profit. Not to mention a better way to make your day worth all the effort you put into it."

~ Seth Godin, marketing wizard, writing in his weblog;

Monday, October 20, 2008


5 + 5 + 5 = 550




I like to reproduce the following anecdotal analogy I have picked up from success coach Nate Booth's 'Tiger Traits: 9 Success Secrets You Can Discover from Tiger Woods to be a Business Champ' as an apt illustration of a valuable point about handling life's challenges:

"If you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn't lead anywhere."

~ Frank Clark;

The flight of the eagle is a fitting example for the value of challenges in our lives.

An eagle can fly at about 60km/hr. The air resistance in its face holds it back from flying faster.

How fast do you think the eagle could fly if all the air resistance were removed?

It couldn't fly at all - it would fall to the ground. No air resistance means an absence of air. If there were no air, the eagle's wings would have nothing to push against as they flap. If there were no air, nothing would flow over the eagle's wings to create lift.

In other words, the resistance the eagle faces is also a necessity for flight.

It's the same in life. Life's challenges are a necessity for growth.

"If you can meet with triumph & disaster, & treat these two imposters just the same . . . you'll be a man, my son!"

~ Rudyard Kipling;

By the way, these are the 9 'Tiger Traits':

1) identify & develop your natural talents - follow your bliss;

2) create a clear & compelling vision;

3) select role models/mentors/team-mates to guide, inspire & support your dreams;

4) be confident;

5) manufacture magnificent mental models to create success in advance;

6) take intelligent & enthusiastic action;

7) constantly improve to produce massive results;

8) tap into your power of personality, especially like-ability, to gain allies & build teams;

9) be grateful & give back;

[I understand that Nate Booth's book has not been officially endorsed by Tiger Woods. The 9 'Tiger Traits' are based on his own analysis drawing on NLP modeling. Nath Booth has been the former top corporate trainer for Anthony Robbins' outfit.]


I have spotted two sports bags on the shelf behind the glass planel of The Wallet Shop, while window-shopping with my wife this afternoon in Jurong Point Shopping Mall.

[It's strategically located next to the Boon Lay MRT Station as well as Boon Lay Bus Interchange.]

The apt imprint on the bag immediately 'wow' my attention.

One read: "Thinking...(Please be patient)".

The other read: "I left my LV bag at home".

You can probably spot me in the reflection on the glass panel.

Manufacturers & their retailers certainly know how to strike the fancy of consumers & also how to make them feel good.

Now I understand what it means by retail therapy.


"Watching is very important . . . Watch and absorb all the details around you, like a camera. And study. Study very hard. Ideas and inventions are two completely different
things. You can have ideas without study, and you can do research without ideas. But you need both to make an invention."

~ Dr Yoshiro Nakamatsu or better known as Dr Nakamats, Japan's inventor extraordinaire; reportedly the brain behind the digital watch, flopping disk, CD, DVD & taximeter; also the only person to have licensed 16 patents to IBM;

Sunday, October 19, 2008


In the first instance, the title of 'X-treme' for this book is a misnomer, as we all know that the word denotes "being in or attaining the highest limit or utmost degree; extending far beyond the norm".

I regret to say the book does not live up to the definition in that sense.

Sad to say, the entire book is more of a quick checklist of speed reading tips & techniques for the general reader.

In this respect, important stuff like reading newspapers & magazines, Internet searching, reading a web page, reading news online as well as reading fiction are covered quite sparingly, though adequately.

However, for the academic reader, I find that the treatment by the author is more of a very broad-brush, somewhat perfunctory & superfluous to say the least. The information provided is inadequate to empower students to read for exams, or reading books for research.

Academic reading is a totally different ball game as the reader is expected to read more critically, to analyse & evaluate text in order to challenge the book's author so to speak, as he or she moves along deeper into the book.

Way-finding tips like learning to use &/or formulate questions (to search for answers), identifying text organisational patterns, spotting signal words, as well as deciphering new or unknown words in the text through contextual clues should by right be part & parcel of an X-treme speed reading book, if it is to be targeted at students as well.

That's to say, the reading skills have to be dove-tailed with studying skills. For students, the two are always integral.

Don't forget working professionals who do evening MBA studies or professional certification programs would also need such reading/studying tips.

Nevertheless, I can only say that this book does give a very broad overview about speed reading for the general reader.

For readers who are still students, I strongly recommend reading Adam Robinson's 'What Smart Students Know'. The author's 12 'cyberlearning questions' are a real gem, in terms of expediency in probing your textual understanding & locating answers to your significant questions.

For an analytical approach to reading heavy intellectual stuff, try Kathleen McWhorter's 'Academic Reading' or Shirley Quinn's 'Reading in the Arts & Sciences'. The round-up of tips & techniques, plus exercises, to probe the author's typical thought patterns in academic texts is really great stuff.

For professionals, I would recommend Steve Moidel's 'Speed Reading for Business', or H Bernard Wechsler's 'Speed Reading for Professionals'.

For a slightly deeper treatment, try Peter Kump's 'Breakthrough Rapid Reading'.

Last but not least, & to end my post, I would really like to recommend both students & professionals, if you have a true love for reading, to take the opportunity to read an old classic, 'How to Read a Book', by Mortimer Adler. It will definitely be worth your while.

[More information about 'X-treme Speed Reading' &/or James Abela is available at the author's corporate website. The book is locally published.]


I am very amused to read today's Sunday Times feature story about the many consumer complaints against the hard-sell tactics of the 3 big gyms in town, namely True Fitness, California Fitness & Fitness First.

My first reaction is that the victims themselves are partly to be blamed. Why is it so difficult to say 'NO!" for something you don't really need or want?

Why is it so difficult to challenge or confront people whose only intention is to take you for a ride?

I know most people like to be "nice" to people; it's good, but there is always a limit to being "nice". In fact, I believe it cuts both ways. When people out there are trying to fleece you, a line must be drawn.

For me, there is an effective counter-strategy: always assert who you are & be assertive.

For me, practising assertiveness works for me.

I remember the first time my wife had introduced me to her neighbourhood hair-dressing saloon to cut, wash & dye my hair. The moment I sunk into the seat, the hair-dresser started to introduce me a host of so-called hair nutrients to go with it.

I told her in no uncertain terms that I was there for a simple hair cut, quick wash & fast dye. No fancy stuff.

I had no hassle with subsequent visits at the saloon.

Once, I had accompanied my wife to a 'New Image' product demonstration arranged by one of my social buddies. Immediately after it, all the sale personnel moved into high gear for a hard sell. I told them emphatically 'NO!', & just walked out with my wife.

On another occasion: a female fellow gym user, after the usual social preliminaries, was very determined to sell some health vitamins to my wife; my wife told her to talk to me; out of courtesy, I gave the lady ten minutes, after which I told her that I did not doubt the technology behind her product, but I wasn't prepared to accept her high pricing which apparently supported multi-levels; she was quite sore with me, but upon my wife's urging, I finally settled down to buying only one item from her, which I thought could help make my wife sleep better at night; upon payment, she remarked very bluntly that I was the toughest cookie she had ever met in a sale encounter.

Shortly after the sale, that lady didn't appear in the gym. Incidentally, the product didn't work as I had originally believed.

Out of curiosity, I had also attended evening previews of many different "sensitivity workshops" which were often followed by hard-sell approaches from their overly enthusiastic groupies. I just said 'Thank You very Much!' & walked out.

Whenever I go into restaurants or departmental stores or even neighbourhood retail shops, I would never hesitate to give them a peace of my mind, not in a rude manner but assertive, if their customer service falls below par without a proper explanation or apology.

I often get phone calls, strangely always unlisted, from purveyors of money or insurance schemes. My first response to the caller is straight & simple: what are you trying to sell me?

If he or she sounds stunned, I just hang up.

Sometimes, my social buddies would introduce some of their business friends, who just happen to be insurance agents, as part of the networking phenomenon. Despite the very short association, some of these people often like to invite me formally for a meal.

My first response to them is always this: is that a genuine invitation or a tactical manoeuvre?

In most settings, I have no qualms in stating my personal position very clearly, even if other people thinks that it is not nice. I don't really care, because I am true to myself.

Catherine had often reminded me that "salesmanship" was never part of my personal repertoire. I have readily accepted that label, which doesn't bother me at all, but which explains why I don't get hustled so easily by predators out there.

By the way, the Singapore Sports Council (SSC) runs gyms in most neighbourhoods. In Jurong, there is one in Jurong East, where I hang out with my wife & gym buddy, & another bigger one in Jurong West. The latter has the latest range of exercise equiment.

Annual fees are a small fraction of what you generally pay at the 3 top gyms. My wife & I pay S$90/- per pax for off-peak membership.

Personal trainer? Only S$40/- an hour.

Best of all, no fancy stuff or frills, just peace of mind while you exercise!


"We live in a moment of history where change is so speeded up that we begin to see the present only when it is already disappearing."

~ R D Laing, 1927-1989, Scottish psychiatrist, who wrote extensively on mental illness;


This morning, I was just running though my shopping cart with Amazon with a load full of some 60 items.

I was deciding which items to "save for later" as I recheck the synopsis of each major cost item to ensure that I get the stuff I really need.

As I was reading the several reviews of 'Creativity Revealed: Discovering the Source of Inspiration' by Scott Jeffrey, I stumbled on to the weblog of Wayne Hastings, who gave a very positive as well as enlightening review.

From there, I then stumbled on to the author's website which showcased his many stuff.

I have found one interesting article which talked about the ten things one can align oneself to higher creativity.

Here's the gist:

1) stay relaxed; stay centred;

2) eliminate distractions;

3) get out of the office;

4) get moving;

5) align to beauty;

6) clear the mental state;

7) facilitate open dialogue;

8) maintain a positive attitude;

9) come from a place of humility;

10) be patient;

Here's the link to the original article.

By the way, I am reconfirming Scott Jeffrey's book in my shopping basket with Amazon.