Saturday, November 22, 2008


This snapshot has been captured this afternoon at the shopfront of a golf pro shop in Ngee Ann City this afternoon.

What has intrigued me most was the apt quote, which to me is seemingly one quick lesson on Kaizen & all that jazz.

SPOTLIGHT: "...It just feels right."

The following wonderful caption at the front glass panel of a Fox fashion retail outlet in Ngee Ann City has piqued my interest this afternoon:

"I like fresh air. And being out with my good friends, I feel alive with everything I do. Everywhere I go, doors are wide open. It really is a bold new world. It just feels right."

~ Noam Toer, 'Survivor' finalist & voted "World's Sexiest Man' by YNET;


I certainly concur, as this is the first time I have seen a dummy model in the form of a non-functional robot being put on display.

The latter definitely reminds me of 'Sonny', the smart robot in the sci-fi fantasy movie, 'I, Robot', starring Will Smith as a techno-phobic cop set in a future Earth in 2035AD.


The Armani Exchange retail outlet in Ngee Ann City certainly knows how to entice shoppers.

It's banners read:


Come to think of it, the intended messages actually work both ways, especially for all the satisfied customers, who have gained good buys at the outlet.

SPOTLIGHT: "What we want: to get all that we desire..."

The catchy caption is obviously targetted at lady shoppers in Wisma Atria, where I had spotted it today, although I feel it has significant attraction for gentleman shoppers as well, if not all shoppers alike.

After all, we want to get all that we desire in life.

May all dreams come true on Christmas Day.


"I could do great things - if I wasn't busy doing little things."

~ Ashleigh Brilliant, an author & syndicated cartoonist; The Wall Street Journal once described him as "history's only full time, professional published epigrammatist."


I went to my Standard Chartered Bank branch in Jurong this morning to do some errands. While at the teller counter, I struck a casual conversation with the elderly teller whom I had often encountered during the last two decades.

She told me that she had worked for the same bank during the last 42 years. Then she asked me whether I knew Dr Yeo Ning Hong. I said yes, remembering the former cabinet minister in communications & defence, with the double PhDs.

She said that Dr Yeo, now in his sixties, had published a book, under Dr Adrian Yeo, with a simple formula supposedly for longevity. On a piece of paper, she scribbled:


T = ten cups of water daily;

H = half full, when eating (I remember SM Lee Kuan Yew has once shared his own eating routine at 80% full);

E = exercise, at least 10,000 steps daily i.e. walking;

She couldn't recall the name of the book.

Upon returning home, I did a quick surf on the net. Dr Yeo's book is entitled 'THE A2z Diet: Dieting Made as Simple as Possible'. It was launched just over a month ago.

I probably have missed it. Nonetheless, Dr Yeo's T.H.E formula makes sense as it resonates with the findings of many longevity experts, whose works I had already come across.


Sad to say, no matter how clever the experts may be, they seemed to have got it all wrong about the future.

I reckon future gazing is not that easy after all.

"(Edison's ideas)...are unworthy of the attention of practical or scientific men."
~ British Parilament report on the electric light bulb, 1878

"Who would ever want to use one?"
~ US president Rutherford Hayes on the telephone

"Heavier than air flying machines are impossible."
~ Lord Kelvin, 1895

"Radio has no future."
~ Lord Kelvin, 1897

"Everything invented has been invented."
~ Charles Duell (head of the US patents office), 1899

"The horse is here to stay, but the automobile is only a novelty - a fad."
~ advice to a potential investor in Henry Ford's new venture, 1903

"The machine gun is a grossly over-rated weapon."
~ Field Marshal Haig, 1914

"The cinema is little more than a fad."
~ Charlie Chaplin, 1916

"A pretty, mechanical toy."
~ Lord Kitchener on tanks, 1917

"Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?"
~ Henry Warner, president of Warner Bros, 1927

"Can't act. Can't sing. Balding. Can dance a little."
~ MGM on Fred Astaire's screen test, 1928

"A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth’s atmosphere."
~ New York Times, 1936

"Television won't matter in your lifetime or mine."
~ The Listener magazine, 1936

"I think there is a world market for about 5 computers."
~ Thomas Watson (Chairman of IBM), 1943

"That is the biggest fool thing we have ever done. The bomb will never go off, and I speak as an expert in explosives."
~ Admiral William Leahy, advising President Truman, when asked about his opinion of the atomic bomb project

"It will be gone by June."
~ Variety magazine on Rock and Roll, 1955

"We don't like their sound. Groups with guitars are on the way out."
~ Decca Records on the Beatles, 1962

"With over 50 foreign cars already on sale here, the Japanese auto industry isn't like to carve out a big slice of the US market."
~ Business Week, 1968

"We don't need you. You haven't got through college yet."
~ HP on Steve Jobs and his "personal computer", 1976

"Get your feet off my desk, get out of here; you stink and we're not going to buy your product."
~ Joe Keenan (president of Atari) also to Steve Jobs, 1976

"There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home."
~ Ken Olson (president of DEC) to - you guessed it - Steve Jobs, 1976

"640k ought to be enough for everyone."
~ Bill Gates on computer memory, 1981

"The regretful verdict here is: dead in the water."
~ Time Magazine's review of Titanic, 1997

"These Google guys, they want to be billionaires and rock stars and go to conferences and all that. Let us see if they still want to run the business in two to three years."
~ Bill Gates, 2003

My favourite:

“The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a ‘C’, the idea must be feasible.”
~ A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith’s paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service - Fred Smith went on to found FedEx!

Friday, November 21, 2008


"You & I are essentially infinite choice-makers. In every moment of our existence, we are in that field of all possibilities where we have access to an infinity of choices."
~ Deepak Chopra, well-known Indian medical doctor & author, with more than 40 books to his credit, mostly in the field of mind-body medicine & spirituality;


Will doing more of what has worked in the past produce the future I so desire?

If my competitors got wind of my strategy, would they be blown away by the originality of my foresight, or yawn at the same old static viewpoint?

Do I often find myself wondering, "How can I get more out of myself &/or out of my business?

Am I ready to raise the bar from satisfaction with just being profitable to aspiring to attain a "sustainable competitive advantage" in my business?

~ inspired by business innovation strategist Art Turock, author of 'Invent Business Opportunities No One Else Can Imagine', whose 'Turock 29' (with 29 Questions) alone is worth the price of the book - I had already reviewed the latter in an earlier post;

[The foregoing questions have been extracted & adapted from the author's corporate website.]


Here's a link to a great & recent article by renegade neurologist, Dr David Perlmutter, writing in his weblog. He is the author of 'The Better Brain Book'.

Please take note of the part where he shares sharp insights from other brain experts about the importance of building cognitive reserve through novel & complex brain activities as a possible strategy to delay memory decline & extend lifespan in our golden years.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


"I like nonsense - it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living. It's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope . . . & that enables you to laugh at all of life's realities."

~ Dr Seuss, 1904-1991, American writer & illustrator of children's books;

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


According to productivity strategist Jeff Davidson writing in his 'Breathing Space' weblog, items that we use frequently should be within arm's reach or in a nearby drawer.

Other items that we use less frequently may be stored in an adjacent drawer, or in a filing cabinet that's not in the way when we're working.

Well, here's a quick snapshot of my workplace.

My scratchpad is always in front of my desktop. Lying on it is my favourite 6-colour ball-point.

On the left is my small notebook which I often carry along in my waist-pouch when I go to the gym. A couple of my recently read books, plus a stack of sticky notes, is located further to the left.

On the right is my favourite afternoon drink, Milo.

[Jeff Davidson is the author of the wonderful book, 'Breathing Space: Living & Working at a Comfortable Pace in a Sped-Up Society', which I had already reviewed in an earlier post.]


"You can never tell what type of impact you may make on another’s life by your actions or lack of action. Sometimes just with a smile on the street to a passing stranger can make a difference we could never imagine."
~ Ed Foreman, American Congressman, advisor to 5 American presidents & prominent motivational speaker based in Dallas, Texas (Among his most acclaimed topics are "How to Make Every Day a Terrific Day!", "Making Quality Performance A Lifestyle" & "Acquiring The Basic Habit Patterns Of Winners");

BOOK REVIEW: 'EASY GENIUS' & 'EASY GENIUS AT WORK", by Chance Massaro & Steve Wallis

While browsing the Popular Book Store at the Jurong Point Shopping Mall recently, I have found two relatively new books, 'Easy Genius' & 'Easy Genius at Work', in large format print.

Since they have been reasonably priced, at S$18/- each, I just grabbed the two books.

At first glance, these two supposedly interactive workbooks look interesting, especially with their unorthodox arrangements of information stuff on any given page.

The whole idea, according to the two authors, is to allow readers to jump into the books at any point, read it sequentially, or just go to read any particular section on a page, which has been deliberately spaced out, with information organised in chunks, to meet the many unique ways &/or styles of readers.

For me, I have really enjoyed doing that.

The last time I had come across such books, was during the mid-nineties or so, when the author of 'Mapping InnerSpace', Nancy Margulies, had produced two interactive books, 'Map It: Tools for Charting the Vast Territories of Your Mind' & 'The Magic Seven: Tools for Building Multiple Intelligences'.

With 30+ pages each, the foregoing books were seemingly targetted at teachers & students.

Nonetheless, the two books as mentioned above, took readers, including me of course, on a colourful textual/visual adventure to explore the power of our multiple intelligences.

At that time, I didn't find the two books really engaging & exciting. In fact, I would say my response to them was lukewarm, to say the least.

The authors of the two books now under my current review have apparently adopted more or less the same approach as Nancy Margulies.

In contrast, each of the books has about 80 pages. The second book is supposed to be the sequel to the first book. Sad to say, what is in the first book, is exactly replicated in the second book.

The second book is supposed to be targetted for an organisational setting, with its fancy tagline: "awakening your whole brain to succeed in business".

Sad to say again, as the way I see it, the second book didn't really stand up to the author's original intentions, as expressed in the tagline, because the implementation perspectives, as far as work practices in an organisation are concerned, have only been addressed perfunctorily or pompously.

What surprised me most is that all the theoretical &/or elaborative stuff pertaining to the 5 sensory or learning modalities, 10 multiple intelligences & 5 cognitive personalities (realist, pragmatist, synthetic, idealist, & analyst), which has already been covered in the first book, actually makes the second book lopsided with inadequate application utilities for the reader.

In my view, the treatment of reader's worksheets has been somewhat over-simplified to be of real use in an organisational setting.

I reckon maybe the second book is more appropriate for an educational setting.

However, I must say that, from the standpoint of learning, i.e. learning how to learn, using one's innate intelligences, so to speak, either one of the books readily stands out on its own. The authors have covered the requisite material quite well, drawing upon many learning experts, including Howard Gardner, & touching on the significant interplay of the sensory modalities, multiple-intelligences & cognitive personalities.

On the surface, the books certainly have extensive bibliographies, numerous web resources, charts & other diagrammatic aids, but their presence couldn't compensate for the short-comings.

As a quick comparison, & from the standpoint of implementation perspectives with regard to multiple intelligences at work, I reckon any one of the books by educational consultant David Lazear, particularly his '8 Ways of Learning &/or Teaching' (expanded from 7 Ways during the nineties), probably fit the bill, even though his stuff has a predominantly educational slant.

In fairness to the authors, I can only say this: if you are looking for a quick, fun-filled, easy-to-digest, book to read about learning modalities, multiple intelligences & cognitive personalities in one go, without too much frills, either one of the two books, 'Easy Genius' or 'Easy Genius at Work', will not disappoint you.

However, if you are looking for implementation specifics & application utilities within an organisational setting, in connection with the foregoing learning "technologies", I suggest readers to do some more finger-work by exploring other better books.

David Lazear's is just one possibility, & I am sure there are many others.


What's the biggest challenge I have as someone who is seeking to improve my life?


I have always considered "fluency", "flexibility" & "fluidity" as prerequisites to creativity.

In fact, I have come to the conclusion that we need all these three critical factors in order to gain & retain improved cognitive abilities in our lives.

Generally, I like to express "fluency" as "the ability of the mind to come up with a lot of ideas". That's to say, quantity really matters, & the focus is obviously on "abundance".

For example, if I were to ask you to come up with the many possible ways you can make use of a paper clip or a hair pin, & you are given only 3 minutes to do it, how many you can produce?

If you could come up with say 25 possible ways within the 3 given minutes, I say you have the "fluency". Experts call this "associational fluency".

Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling was right when he said: "The best way to get a good idea is to have a lot of ideas".

Next, & for me, "flexibility" is expressed as "the ability of the mind to bounce from one category to another to come up with many different ideas".

Let me use a simple example. Let's say, I draw a dot (".") on a piece of paper, & I ask you, what do you see?

Probably, the first response from you is a "full stop". Good. Then, you may start to rattle off with "eye-ball" "cannon ball", "golf-ball", "ping pong ball", "football" & so on.

If that's the case, I say your mind is not "flexible" enough.

However, if you could come up with many different ideas like those I often get from kids attending my program - a "hole in the ozone layer", a "toothache", "Phua Chu Kang's mole", "mummy's nipple", a "beetle sleeping at night", a "bullet hole" & so on, then, I am glad to say that you have a "flexible" mind.

While "fluency" focuses on "abundance", or "productivity" which may be a better description, "flexibility" focuses on "bounciness", or "changeability".

In the corporate world, I believe that we have the tendency to use "agility" or "nimbleness" to describe "flexibility".

Come to think of it, "thinking out of the box" now makes more sense.

The last one is "fluidity". In some ways, it seems to be synonymous with the earlier two, "fluency" & "flexibility".

I like to explore this aspect in greater depth with readers.

For me, I like to express "fluidity" as "the ability of the mind to engender many different perspectives or viewpoints in order to generate many different ideas, especially when looking at a particular problem or event or situation."

Creativity guru Edward de bono calls it "fluidity of perception"; innovation strategist Wayne Burkan terms it "splatter vision" or "wide-angle vision"; psychologist Ellen Langer of Harvard University describes it as "mindfulness".

I certainly like to include psychologist Carol Dweck's "growth mindset" in this collection, as opposed to the "fixed mindset".

Let me use a simple example to illustrate it. Say, an event or happening in one's life, with the view to explore "where am I now? what got me to where I am today? where do I want to go?", within a time continuum.

One can look at it from the present moment. What's happening right now? In the end analysis, to develop some insights, so to speak.

Within the present moment, one can even choose to take either a broad generalisation or a narrow focus, when looking at the event or happening.

For example, from the standpoint of a broad focus, I may probably just look at my attributes, roles, &/or relationships. Just to take a quick snapshot.

From the standpoint of a narrow focus, I may do a "deep dive" & go into details with regard to specific segments of my life, like career, mind/body, finance, relationships, fun & contribution.

One can also look at the past history, to draw some valuable lessons from past experiences. What has happened before? In the end analysis, to gather some hind-sights, so to speak.

One can also look further ahead from today, to anticipate future problems or challenges. What is likely to happen, say 3 to 5 years ahead?

Better still, one can also go far beyond today, say 10 or 20 or 30 years into the future, to explore & assess plausible scenarios. In the end, to develop foresight. This is obviously the focus of "developing strategic foresight".

One can also rise about the event or happening to take a broader view.

To take a helicopter or bird's eye view, so to speak, of one's larger position within the local community, &/or within one's country borders &/or even within the larger global community, from the standpoint of networking.

To get the big picture; to see the forest from the trees are some other ways to describe the phenomenon.

One can also go below the surface, or beneath the event or happening to explore deeper, to see what's hidden from view. To go to the root causes, so to speak.

One can also look sideways from an event or happening, to explore seemingly unrelated or remote issues, & yet one may feel that they might have pertinent implications in some ways. That's lateral thinking.

Sometimes, instead of looking at the external environment, one also may need to be courageous enough to look at the event or happening from the inside of oneself, from within the internal environment, so to speak.

Soul searching is one way to describe this aspect.

Each aspect of looking at the event or happening, just as I have described in the foregoing, poses a different perspective. A different viewpoint. This is the essence of "fluidity".

Come to think of it, "creating new boxes & thinking with new boxes" is one good way to put it in perspective, at least for me.

With "fluency", "flexibility" & "fluidity" as part of our strategy repertoire, I reckon one can readily survive & thrive in today's fast-paced, rapidly-changing world, where chaos & disruptions are apparently the constants.

I will endeavour to dwell more into this aspect in the next & ensuing posts. Please stay tuned.

[to be continued in the Next Post.]

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


If I had a chance to go back in time, where would I go?


I was attracted to the fancy tagline on this traveler's bag spotted on the shelf just behind the glass panel of 'The Wallet Shop' in the Jurong Point Shopping Mall.

Get your own attitude? How about that?

Just a reminder: if you were to get your own attitude, please make sure that it's a positive one!


This movie poster with the catchy tagline was captured today at a VCD/DVD retail shop in the Jurong Point Shopping Mall.

I would have thought that the more appropriate expression is "it's where you're going to".


This is another 'stumble upon' of mine while surfing the net today.

It's called the 'Relationship Chemistry Predictor' (POFCP), which apparently measures five broad dimensions of personality that are each essential for building a romantic relationship.

Here are the principal measurements:

Factor 1: Self-Confidence

This dimension was created to measure the extent to which an individual feel comfortable with him or herself. The items in this dimension reflect elements of self-confidence in both private & public contexts.

Factor 2: Family Orientation

This dimension was developed to assess the degree to which a person possess a family orientation.

Factor 3: Self-Control

This dimension measures the extent to which a person exerts control over sundry aspects of their lives & the lives of others.

Factor 4: Social Dependency/Openness

This dimension measures the extent to which a person is open to and dependent upon other people.

Factor 5: Easy-goingness

This dimension taps into characteristics associated with being relaxed & psychologically flexible.

For the fun of it, just go to this link to explore! It's absolutely free; you can put your credit card away!


"The only striking difference between experts & amateurs is in the capability to deliberately practise."

~ K Anders Ericcson, professor of Psychology, Florida State University; also, author of 'The Road To Excellence: the Acquisition of Expert Performance in the Arts & Sciences, Sports, & Games' & 'The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise & Expert Performance';


While surfing the net this morning, I found myself straying into the Despair's Demotivators website.

For a change, & in contrast to those apparently delutional posters of 'Successories', they seem to have come up with many hilarious & often soul-crushingly depressing posters.

Following is one of their demotivating examples about 'Retirement':

"Because you've given so much of yourself to the company that you don't have anything left we can use."

Come to think of it, this inadvertent discovery is JIT (just-in-time) for Christmas gifts shopping!

Monday, November 17, 2008


What do I really want?

What do I really believe?

Do I believe I have a choice in the matter?

Do I believe if I do the work, properly designed with intense focus for hours a day & years on end, my performance will grow dramatically better & eventually reach the highest levels?

What beliefs have guided my life to the present moment?

What would cause me to do the enormous work necessary to be a top-performer?

When will I commit to taking action now?

~ inspired by the book, 'Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else', by Geoff Colvin, Fortune’s senior editor at large; also reportedly one of America’s most respected business journalists. ;


Against the current backdrop of a financial meltdown, the recent news about the DBS banking group axing some 900 employees, comprising mostly senior managers, were certainly disheartening.

I thought the banking group was supposed "to do the right thing".

So, I could really understand the emotional outburst from the NTUC chief.

Naturally, I could easily empathise with the anguish of all those hardworking but unfortunate people, who were chosen under the axe. Some of them apparently had long service records.

It goes to show that there is no such thing as "company loyalty" in today's labour market.

At best, & for me, I take "company loyalty" as "just doing what you are paid for by the company to do, under the mutually agreed terms of employment", but along the way, I suggest spending your time to master all the skill building, knowledge acquisition & business networking you can, while under employment.

The objective is to enhance your own personal employability & career mobility or fitness. To invest in yourself as a long term investment.

To paraphrase real estate guru Dolf de Roos:

"The most expensive piece of real estate is the six inches between your right & left ear. It’s what you create in that area that determines your wealth . . ."

Years ago, while I was still a corporate rat, I had learned very early that there wasn't any future in any job. I can't remember who had advised me.

As it stands even up to today, the future lies only in the person holding the job.

I reckon most, if not all of us, today realise that all companies are in business to make a profit.

Nothing else matters to them except profit. This is the harsh reality for all employees.

If you were still an employee today, I strongly suggest that you make sure that you are managing or running yourself like a business outfit - 'Me, Inc.' - within the company.

That's to say, make damn sure that you are making a profit as far you are concerned for the company every year. With a little bit of inventive ingenuity & interactive rapport with your accounts people, you can easily work out the cost computation.

It may be a guesstimate at best, but at least you know where you stand from the cost point of view to the company.

This is what management consultant Judith Barker calls the "earning mindset".

Throughout my entire corporate career spanning almost a quarter of a century, I had always consistently put a very high premium on self-directed learning. Sometimes, I even paid for it out of my own pocket.

In reality, all the self-education endeavours under my past employers comprised not only the requisite knowledge building of products, markets, customers & competitors, but also local & overseas management training stints (including the London Business School, UK), overseas factory visits, trade & professional affiliations.

Along the way, they also included the pursuit of my own personal interests & favourite hobbies, e.g. reading, information gathering, thinking, communicating, stress management, mind development, etc. which were closest to my heart.

From the five different employers (Swiss, German, Chinese, Swedish & Indonesian) I had sailed with, I had in fact quit my managerial jobs from two of the employers during the eighties, without first securing employment elsewhere, which reflected the supreme confidence I had in my own knowledge & strategy repertoire.

To my pleasant delight, the accumulated acumen had conveniently paved the way for me to relinquish the corporate world during the early nineties when I chose to become a small entrepreneur.

To put it in another way, my long-term investment in self-directed learning while under employment over the preceding years had eventually paid off.

As the American statesman & philosopher Benjamin Franklin once said: "An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest."


"There are an infinite number of potential futures, so a vision of the future is not a forecast or a prediction, but a planning tool to think about events that could happen in the future before they occur.

A vision is actually a description of a future state and the role an organization will play in that future. For that reason, the future state needs to be, what I call, a 360 degree look at life in a particular time frame.

One of the easiest ways to do that is to create a family in the future and explore their life [through, for example, education, telecommunications, medicine, transportation, manufacturing, business, leisure, food, politics, and the values of the time.]

That way, you usually can see what role your product or service will play in their lives. It is a customer view of the future, and you can watch and learn . . .

. . . Visioning is part of strategic management. Done correctly, visioning is a disciplined process that helps organizations answer the questions they need to ask themselves in order to be prepared for the future.

If a CEO cannot answer these questions, it is likely that his organization is not prepared for the future . . ."

~ extracted from a briefing by a systems scientist & President of 'The University Group', a think tank on strategic management, public policy & national security, Dr Sheila Ronis; she is also the author of 'Timelines into the Future: Strategic Visioning Methods for Government, Business, & Other Organizations';


"Of all the generations of humans that have walked the surface of the Earth — for 100,000 years, going back when we first left Africa — the generation now alive is the most important. The generation now alive, the generation that you see, looking around you, for the first time in history, is the generation that controls the destiny of the planet itself."

~ Michio Kaku, American theoretical physicist specializing in 'String Field Theory'; also, a futurist & author; his latest book, 'Physics of the Impossible', examines the technologies of invisibility, teleportation, precognition, star ships, antimatter engines, time travel — all regarded as things that are not possible today, but that might be possible in the future;


I have picked up a new term today, while browsing the Amazon online catalog. It's 'Project Renewment'.

It's also the title of a book bearing the same name by Bernice Bratter & Helen Dennis. I haven't read their book but I understand it's targetted at career women.

According to the two authors as outlined in the book's synopsis, 'Renewment' is a term they have made up as an alternative to the word retirement, which they associated with negative stereotypes & clichés.

They believe that retiring is a process of change & increasing self-awareness.

As a deliberate combination of 'Retirement' & 'Renewal', 'Renewment' suggests optimism & opportunity, growth & self-discovery.

[Here's the link to the authors' corporate website.]


"Beyond the constraints of a monotonous environment
Emerges a free mind choosing empowerment
Remaining free in spirit and in mind
The Maverick breaks through the tiresome conventional bind
Without regard to the status quo
There is much more out there, that they know
Always searching and thinking too

Never taking “no” for an answer, only “yes” will do
They inspire, create, invent, and explore
Allowing those around them to grow, know, and experience more
Their insatiable curiosity and compassion for life
Drives them to seek ways to eradicate strife
With a passion to serve
They help others create the life they deserve
And although nothing is certain, they will take a chance
The Maverick never ceases to ask the hand of opportunity for a dance
They blaze their own path pushing aside the imitations
Helping themselves and others exceed their own expectations
“You can’t do that,” they are told
But they always step forward, acting bold
They break the conformist mold and risk looking like a fool
But in the process they become the exception to the rule
The Maverick will not stop
Refusing to give up until they’re at the top
They define success and what it means to live
By accepting nothing less than the best they can give
They step up to the challenge and never abandon the cause
Helping humanity advance passed its flaws
Because they think they can, the Maverick always will
They understand and use the power of free will"

[Source: Cool Stuff Media; Kent Healy is the lead author (the other author is his brother, Kyle) of the fun book, 'Cool Stuff They Should Teach in School: Cruise into the Real World...with styyyle', which I had reviewed in an earlier post in my 'The StudySmart Smorgasbord' weblog. He defines a maverick as "an individual independent in thought & action".

The above poem has been extracted from his book, 'Maxims for Mavericks'.

Incidentally, he is also the co-author with Jack Canfield in the newly-released 'Success Principles for Teens: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be'.]

Sunday, November 16, 2008


The following snapshots captured what I had spotted this afternoon at the shopfront of the Adidas retail shop located in the CityLink Mall, near Raffles City.

My wife & I were undertaking our usual weekend window-shopping routine, from Bugis Junction to Suntec City, via the underground link starting at Raffles City & ending at Suntec City.

The principal message, 'Impossible is Nothing', is self-explanatory, as each sports person defines or rather expresses it beautifully in his or her own way.


While surfing the net recently, I just happened to stumble upon, rather belatedly - actually, two years too late - two interesting, but unanswered, questions in one of the Internet consumer forums (unfortunately, I had forgot to jot down the source details, as I didn't realised then that I would be writing about them now):

- How can I go about gaining a deeper understanding of what I read?

- How can I go about gaining a deeper insight as opposed to just reading & interpreting the text literally?

We all know that time is very precious, & any day spent in personal/or professional development, be it reading a book or attending a seminar, should pass the "Monday Morning Test".

That's to say, we should be able to get down to applying the strategies & tools we have learned in the next morning, so to speak.

Theory is fine, but what happens when it's time to translate theory into practice, intent into performance, & insights into results?

In this post, I will take up the self-imposed challenge of tackling the two related questions, with the view of sharing my personal thoughts & experiences.

Please excuse the seemingly rambling musings, as I am doing my best to draw or extrapolate from my own learning experiences.

For intellectual brevity & easy reference, I have arranged my thoughts, ideas & suggestions as follows - & for my purpose in this post, I would also like to use the simple term, "wise thought" to denote "something interesting or worthwhile to know", from reading a book or attending a seminar or maybe even from listening to a conversation or discussion:

1) Understanding & Personal Reaction:

- in the first place, a "wise thought" is always shaped by personal choice from one's deliberate gathering of incoming information;

- first & foremost, one must really understand the "wise thought" - I like to call it the "initial response";

- for me, to truly understand means I am able to articulate it in my own words, & give some other similar examples from my own experience;

- naturally, I am also able to relate the "wise thought" to something I already know about in some way;

- it is important to realise that the "wise thought" just doesn't come into one's mind in isolation; it's invariably mixed or jumbled up with all other incoming information stuff from the external dynamic environment;

- that's to say, all the incoming information stuff one has gathered comes into "combinatory play" with all of one's prior memories & experiences;

- all these disparate information stuff seems to be churning - sometimes, it's perturbing - inside our head - which probably explains why our head is round, just kidding!;

- now, I like to call the "mixed stuff" as "preliminary insights" or "raw ideas";

2) Exploring it in Many Different Ways:

- sometimes, we need to expand our understanding of the "wise thought" beyond what has been learned - from a book or a seminar - by exploring other available external information sources - with today's Internet & Google Search, it's a breeze!;

- in my early years of exploration, around the late seventies & early eighties, when I had first encountered the book, 'Superlearning' by Sheila Ostrander & Lynn Schroeder, I was fascinated by the work of Bulgarian psychotherapist Georgi Lozanov, who apparently coined his early pioneering technology as "suggestopedia" or "suggestology", which is the precursor to what is commonly known as "accelerated learning", even though many other learning experts have come up with several different names, like "expanded learning", "optimal learning", "multi-sensory learning", "integrated learning" & even "brain-based learning";

- I even got in touch with the two authors & got hold of some of their additional information materials, including their products, which were quite mediocre, to say the least;

- scouting through bibliographies, & with the aid of inevitable snail mail as well as my old trusty fax machine, I went on to hunt down many of Georgi Lozanov's translated works, as well as all those learning experts - also, their publications, if any - in USA as well as Europe.

Remember, those were the days before the advent of the Internet & Amazon ... before Borders came to town ... before Kinokuniya became kingpin ... before MPH got thrashed;

- I even joined SALT (Society for Accelerated Learning & Teaching) in USA & SEAL (Society for Effective & Affective Learning) in UK, plus a few other "special interest groups", in the ensuing years, to gain access to more information materials as well as to keep myself abreast on further developments;

- along the way, I also discovered the work of Bobbi DePorter & Eric Jensen in connection with their SuperCamp venture, & bought several learning products from their outfit, known as 'Learning Forum';

- then came Colin Rose's debut 'Accelerated Learning' book. . .

- using available lesson plans - actually by putting the puzzle together - from the many learning experts, I even conducted my own learning experiments, following an acquisition of 'Relax with the Classics" music audio-tapes from the Lind Institute as well as Steven Halpern;

- in dabbling with many "wise thoughts", I now consider my eighties as "exploration", & my nineties, with the set up of 'Optimum Performance Technologies' & 'The Brain Resource', as "experimentation & prototyping", through the process of strategy consulting, coaching, training design & development;

- that's how I often can generate a good grasp of any "wise thought", by first understanding it, & then learning & exploring it in many different ways;

- even today, when I bump into a "wise thought", I will hunt down the progenitors, the knowledgeable persons, if any, &/or all their products or publications, if any, so that I can learn & understand the "wise thought" in many different ways;

- oftentimes, the "wise thought" may be the same, at the fundamental level, but different experts or knowledgeable persons always have different personal interactions or intellectual interpretations, which are invariably inter-weaved into their own personal lives, & for me, their valuable shared insights are definitely worth knowing, just to get different perspectives or viewpoints;

- with all the self-generated learning explorations, it is safe to say that the "preliminary insights" or "raw ideas" are now ready to become "workable ideas" - I certainly like to call it the "reflective response";

4) Converting "Knowledge" into "Competence" or "Skill":

- in a nut shell, this is putting the "workable ideas" to work;

- it starts with making an informed personal decision, considering all the pros & cons as well as interesting or exciting aspects;

- sculpting the informed decision into an incisive action may be the toughest part, as it necessitates concerted efforts in planning, scheduling & resource requisition;

- the foregoing configuration then culminates into a executable plan for personal implementation;

- with my retail, strategy consulting & training outfits up & running, plus my own personal learning experiments along the way, understanding the strategy of practice with regard to the original "wise thought" was relatively easy;

- for example, when I had first started my own training programs, it was a one-day affair during the mid-nineties, which later evolved into 3-day version, plus another 2-day advanced version, totally 5 days; also, from professional adults' programs, I expanded into the kids as well as students' programs, & later on, even went into the schools;

- for me, the "workable ideas" actually became my "opportunities", especially from the business standpoint;

- I reckon the key to understanding the difference between having the knowledge on a "wise thought" & owning the skill of performance with it lies in one's personal experiments;

- once it works for me, as in my personal case, I believe it should work - with a tweaking of the instruction process - for others as well;

- I like to share my personal philosophy pertaining to dabbling with "wise thoughts" & the attendant personal skills development:

I absorb what's useful; reject what's useless; research my own personal experience, & add what's specifically from my own exploration;

5) Personal Application &/or Implementation:

- I believe the acid test of understanding & conviction of a "wise thought" comes from personal application i.e. putting the executable plan to work;

- Personal application always starts with an ardent desire to improve oneself, &/or a constant yearning to be more effective as well as productive, maybe in the not-too-distant future;

- in reality, for that personal change to occur in one's own life, one must not only possess the desire, but one must also want to act upon that desire; to paraphrase peak performance consultant Nicholas Bate, one must engage intellectually (knowing the rational arguments & personal cost-benefit analysis), emotionally (feeling it's right & excited about it) & intuitively (having the strength of purpose & believing in possibilities) to make it happen;

- I reckon the basic questions one should ask, prior to planning, should be: what do I want to do? what do I want to have? what do I want to change? what do I want to improve?

6) Commitment to Execution:

- oftentimes, when we read a book or attend a seminar, we get charged up by a "wise thought" during the learning process, & we may talk about it for a while, but, if we don't do anything physically about it, it's lost & gone;

- execution is the key to turning "knowledge" into a "competence" or "skill", & as I have mentioned earlier, it starts with your burning desire - people who care about you can actually see "the fire in your eyes";

- Once the desire aspect is addressed or taken care of, I reckon one must make the next move to have action commitments with times/dates/places specified, if possible, in writing;

- understandably, these action commitments should be a vital part of one's goal setting plan or personal vision, assuming one has a balanced wheel approach i.e. the skill development should naturally dovetail with the pertinent area of interest or choice;

- in my personal case, my action commitments become essentially part & parcel of the training design & development of my various workshop programs, or integral part of my strategy consulting work;

7) Measurement of Impact:

- at a personal level, I reckon the most appropriate measure - "key performance indicator", even though it is subjective - is to consider how much one is satisfied & how long one takes to get the "wise thought" as expressed in the "workable ideas/plan" to translate into actual work practice in one sphere of activity;

- another possible aspect to look at is whether it fulfills the learning objectives or specific outcomes, as laid out in one's goal setting plan or personal vision;

- in skills development lingo, we call it "hours of practice";

- another appropriate measure is to consider how satisfied is one in the entire undertaking;

- in a training workshop, the measurement is relatively easy, as it often comes from a quick assessment of the participants' feedback in writing;

8) Monitoring of Impact & Follow-up:

- at a personal level, it's quite easy to do this monitoring part, because one can easily see the personal changes in one's life, following the execution, because action has consequences;

- consequences are neither good or bad; they maybe impactful, in terms of being pleasurable or painful, but they're just feedback;

- therefore, another possible perspective to get a sense of the impact, is to get constructive feedback from others e.g. your spouse, boss, colleagues, buddies, etc.;

- Keep a journal to jot down your own personal reactions to the performance results, based on feedback from others, if any - for me, I use a scratchpad;

9) Reinforcement:

- it is pertinent for me to point out that the whole learning process as I have described so far, in reality runs recursively as well as iteratively i.e. it's not linear as it may seems at first glance;

- as the old adage goes, repetition is the mother of learning - from personal experience, it takes about 3 weeks for a "wise thought" to work consistently i.e. it becomes a competence or a skill or maybe a habit - in one's life;

- I like to say that, once executed, the "wise thought" as expressed in the "workable ideas/plan" eventually becomes your "knowledge", because you will know whether it works or doesn't;

- if it doesn't work, you may need to study it, & make the necessary adjustments or corrections to make it work;

- I consider "knowledge" as another way to describe "experience", & everything else is just "information", taking a cue from Albert Einstein;

- I now call this part of the learning process the "assimilative response" - Harry Palmer of the Avatar training phenomenon calls it rather aptly, "world understanding", as opposed to "word understanding".

10) ROI:

- from a personal perspective, I hold the view that monetary benefits should not be the key consideration as far as one's personal development is concerned;

- come to think of it, the "wise thought", upon eventual execution & completion, becomes an integral part of one's strategy repertoire, & it will be factored into one's personal employability in the long run;

- I express ROI, not as 'Return on Investment', but 'Return on Imagination', with the "idea, which comes from insight" as the eventual "image in action", because one must always have the image, of what one intends to achieve, firstly in the mind's eye, in order to attain personal success in the real-world - Dr Karl Pribram of Stanford University calls it, the "image of achievement";

- over time, with consistent practice, since practice makes permanent, this valuable "knowledge" gained becomes one's "expertise" - as I understand, management guru Peter Drucker had duly recognised this activity as "repeatable, deliberate & disciplined practice";

- I always believe that, the discerning use of one's "expertise" is therefore, ultimately one's "wisdom";

- actually, the whole works, from "wise thought" to "wisdom", represent my personal learning model;

SPOTLIGHT: ". . . don't settle for second best."

The following snapshot of one of Hong Kong's popular "Heavenly Kings", Andy Lau, seen wearing the CYMA watch, with the apt quote:

"Some insist because they are obstinate; others do because they don't settle for second best."

was spotted this afternoon in the CityLink Mall, near Raffles City.

My wife & I were undertaking our usual weekend window-shopping routine, from Bugis Junction to Suntec City, via the underground link starting at Raffles City & ending at Suntec City.

So, I reckon, each & every one of us has to be the best of what we can be.


This snapshot captured what I had spotted this afternoon at the Cosmos Building on the junction of North Bridge Road/Purvis Street.

My wife & I were undertaking our usual weekend window-shopping routine, from Bugis Junction to Suntec City, via the underground link starting at Raffles City & ending at Suntec City.

I must add that the big caption is obviously an apt reminder to all of us to have goals in life.


"For me, just being on the cover of a magazine wasn't enough. I began to think, what value is there in doing something in which you have no creative input?"
~ Elle MacPherson, Australian supermodel, actress & businesswoman;