Saturday, December 20, 2008


"You can't make your kids what you want them to be. They are who they are & you have to help them to succeed in the world as best you can."

~ Cyndi Lauper, American Grammy & Emmy award-winning singer-songwriter & actress;

Friday, December 19, 2008


"Men give me credit for some genius. All the genius I have lies in this; when I have a subject in hand, I study it profoundly. Day & night it is before me. My mind becomes pervaded with it. Then the effort that I have made is what people are pleased to call the fruit of genius. It is the fruit of labor & thought."

~ Alexander Hamilton, 1755 or 1757 – 1804, the first United States Secretary of the Treasury; also a economist & philosopher;


I have stumbled upon the following intriguing article on the net today.

Here's the link to the article, entitled "How to Talk about Books that You Haven’t Read".

It also happens to be the title of a top French seller by Peirre Bayard, a French professor of literature at the University of Paris VIII. The book has been translated into English by Jeffrey Mehlman, a professor of French at Boston University.

Here's a fascinating revelation from the book, according to the article:

“To be able to talk with finesse about something one does not know is worth more than the universe of books.”

How do you like that?

As the book is no longer available from Amazon, I am now scouting for a copy of the book on the net.

The above article has also led to me to another book, 'So Many Books: Reading & Publishing in an Age of Abundance', by Gabriel Zaid, a Mexican poet & essayist.

Here's an a fascinating snippet from the book:

"The human race publishes a book every 30 seconds."


I just wonder: how does an author expect to find the readers for his book which probably would be lost among the millions?

Worst still, how are we going to keep up with even a minute fraction of the latest book releases, let alone the multitude of classics stretching all the way back to Homer & Plato?

Food for thought?


I strongly believe that we must all have dreams of our own to pursue in our lives, & when we get them fulfilled as we move through the highway of life, we can always look back fondly with sweet memories.

Sweet memories, among a few other things, are all we can have during our senior-most years.

Otherwise, there will always be painful regrets, sad to say. In a way, that's life, but we still have a choice. A choice to make the best of it!

I remember as a young boy, I had dreamed of becoming an engineer. I was partly influenced by the grease monkeys I often hung out with in the local garage near by home.

I had also dreamed of visiting all the exotic places around the world. Those were the beautiful places I had seen in the local newspapers or magazines, or even watched in the movies.

Luckily for me - or is it luck or preparation? - I became a mechanical engineer. I also had the opportunity of going through in-factory training in Australia & West Germany.

Together with Catherine, I had also visited a lot of exotic places around the world, covering some 60 countries over a span of about 25 years, while I was still working in the corporate world.

For me, the most memorable places have been Greenland, Iceland, the Sahara Desert (in Tunisia), the Gobi Desert & the ancient Silk Road, & the safari in South Africa, although I have also enjoyed our planned visits to Scandinavia & New Zealand, especially with their vast natural panoramic landscapes.

Not forgetting, Catherine & I had also enjoyed the fun & excitement of visiting most of the amusement parks in the United States.

Last but not least, the premier shopping districts of London, Paris & Milan.

Looking back, I definitely have no regrets at all because I have all my major dreams fulfilled.

In fact, I have a new dream to pursue: to backtrack those memorable places with my current wife, so that she can also enjoy what Catherine had gone through.

So ask yourself, what are your dreams?

Some questions to get you started:

- What have I always wanted to do?

- What is my passion in life?

- Do I feel fulfilled?

- What do I value most in my life?

- What do I see as the meaning of my life?

- What would I like to do, to have, to change, to improve in the next ten years?

- What would I like my legacy to be?

The meaning of life is up to you. Just think about what fires your passions. All these probably boil down to purpose. Purpose is essential to life.


Last Thursday night, around 8.30pm, & for the last twelve weeks, I had accompanied my wife to the Jurong Spring Community Centre to attend her 1-1/2 hour yoga class, while I sat in the nearby MacDonald's to read a book.

In between sipping my hot tea & reading my book, I had noticed the serving paper mat on the table. Its main caption read "MacDonald: Serving the Best With 100% Quality Food - Committed to Balanced Active Lifestyles."

This was followed by some statistical info on nutrition pertaining to Beef, Fish, Chick, Eggs & Fries as part of their 'Eat Smart, Be Active' drive.

Something was missing?

Fresh vegetables!

I was very surprised to note that such an important nutritional component of a balanced meal was not mentioned.

I guess, probably because it's proportion in the MacDonald's food combination is insignificant.

For the last five years after meeting my current wife, who hailed from Vietnam, I have been eating an horrendous lot of fresh vegetables.

Every meal we take at home, there will always be fresh vegetables, mostly boiled or steamed, & sometimes raw too as my wife loves to eat raw vegetables.

Imagine eating kangkong in the raw, mixed with only fresh lime juice, plus a small dose of freshly cut chillies.

As her hubby, I have more or less adapted to her lifestyle.

Luckily for me, even with meat or fish, fried or otherwise, she knows how to blend in the fresh vegetables to serve as nutritious food combinations at home.

I recall from the 'Fit for Life' philosophy as envisaged by Marilyn & Harvey Diamond during the seventies, which has advocated the regular consumption of high-water content food.

Fresh vegetables & of course fresh fruits constitute high-water content food.


What works for me?

What makes sense to me?

What will get the job done/goals met/future delivered in my case?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

BOOK REVIEW: 'IN FULL BLOOM', by Ilchi Lee & Jessie Jones

I reckon most of us have readily accepted brain vitality from the standpoint of "use it or lose it".

The joint authors of 'In Full Bloom: A Brain Education Guide for Successful Aging' have however come up with a new mantra:

"Use more of it or lose everything!"

In fact, the foregoing book is the lead author Ilchi Lee's second book, which I am reviewing.

His earlier book is 'Principles of Brain Management: A Practical Approach to Making the Most of Your Brain', which I have already reviewed in an earlier post.

In a nut shell, 'In Full Bloom' reiterates the lead author's five-step 'Brain Education System Training (BEST)' methodology, originally featured in the earlier book, which seeks to enhance human potential through a variety of mind-body training methods.

Apparently with the timely participation of Dr Jessie Jones, an expert in gerokinesiology (the specialised science of the ways in which exercise & aging interact), the new book now amalgamates the physical & mental activities into a more wholesome holistic program designed to promote & sustain successful aging.

The book is obviously targetted at senior adults, even though many of the exercises illustrated in the book are applicable to both the old & the young.

As a dedicated practitioner of 'Brain Gym' for more than fifteen years, I am already familiar with quite a number of the exercises, which seem to be simple variations of what I have learned & applied over the years. The 'Cook's Hookup', known as 'Wrist Twist' in the book, is a case in point.

All the mind & body exercises in the book have been dove-tailed to suit the original five steps of 'BEST' as envisaged by the lead author Ilchi Lee: Sensitising, Versatilising, Refreshing, Integrating & Mastering.

Again, I must say that there are no ground-breaking or thought-provoking stuff, especially if readers are already familiar with the pioneering work of Arthur & Ruth Winter, Dharma Singh Khalsa, Lawrence Katz, Andrew Weil, just to name a few.

Interestingly, from the standpoint of building posture, strength, flexibility, balance & endurance of senior adults, I have noted that there are many parallels in the recommended fitness exercises with the work of clinical physical therapists Marilyn Moffat & Carole Lewis, writing in their book, entitled 'Age Defying Fitness: Making the Most of Your Body for the Rest of Your Life'.

Nonetheless, what I like most about the book is the reasonably vast collection of well-illustrated integrated exercises for mind & body, mostly drawn from a variety of complementary & alternative domains, a sort of East-West synthesis.

For me, I generally concur with the soundness & validity of the principal premises of the authors, as exemplified here:

- we have the power to control at least 70% of our aging process through the lifelong choices we make in diet, exercise, mental health, learning & relationships;

- we can make proactive, conscious choices to help our bodies & brains remain healthy & vital into our senior most years;

- more importantly, our brains are infinitely adaptable; physical wellness, lifestyle, weight, diet, & exercise are far more significant factors in long term brain health than genetics or age;

- best of all, age is not a choice; healthy living is;

Luckily, to my pleasant delight, the nutrition aspect - food & your brain - is touched on in this book, which I have highlighted as "missing" from the earlier book.

In my view, the two authors have appropriately ended the book with a great 'Afterword: Embodying the Jansaeng Lifestyle'. (Jangsaeng is a Korean word that roughly translates as long life vitality in respect to the passage of time.)

The 'Walking Yourself Young: Jangsaeng Walking' as illustrated in the Appendix is a good take-away, at least from my perspective.

It appears that Adrian Yeo aka Dr Yeo Ning Hong, author of 'T.H.E A2Z Diet', which I have already reviewed earlier, has shared the same idea of a walking journey of 10,000 steps in order to increase general fitness.

There is also an interesting 'Senior Fitness Test' at the back of the book.

To end my review, all I can say is that, if readers are looking for a highly readable book that integrates &/or combines the wisdom of Western processes & Eastern practices on the fountain of health, happiness & peace, then this book will do you a great favour.


"After the cheers have died down & the stadium is empty, after the headlines have been written & after you are back in the quiet of your room & the championship ring has been placed on
the dresser & all the pomp & fanfare has faded, the enduring things that are left are: the dedication to excellence, the dedication to victory, & the dedication to doing with our lives the very best we can to make the world a better place in which to live."

~ Vince Lombardi, 1913 – 1970, American football coach;


Very interestingly, I realise that a lot of fancy stuff is churning inside my head as I ponder over my impending review of CI (competitive intelligence) guru Benjamin Gilad's latest book:

'Business War Games: How Large, Small, & New Companies Can Vastly Improve Their Strategies & Outmaneuver the Competition'

I have in fact perused the author's two earlier works, namely,

- 'Business Blindspots: Replacing Myths, Beliefs & Assumptions with Market Realities' in the nineties, followed by
- 'Early Warning: Using Competitive Intelligence to Anticipate Market Shifts, Control Risks & Create Powerful Strategies' several years ago.

The first thing that crosses my mind is the flash memory of attending a two-day workshop on 'Marketing Warfare' during the early eighties, based on Al Ries & Jack Trout's books, as well as Huge Davidson's two books on 'Offensive Marketing '.

The second thing is remembering that I had enjoyed watching the sci-fi movie, 'War Games', during the mid-eighties.

It was about a young computer hacker who had unwittingly found a backdoor into a military defence computer, nicknamed 'Joshua'.

It was based on some sort of a war simulation with complete control over the US nuclear arsenal.

His misdemeanour almost resulted in bringing two powerful countries into a devastating & yet futile 'Global Thermo-Nuclear War'.

The third thing that comes to my mind is Oliver Stone's epic movie, 'Wall Street', starring Michael Douglas as the ruthless corporate raider, Gordon Gekko, in the late eighties.

In the movie, Gordon Gekko taught an impatient rookie investor, Bud (played by Charlie Sheen), some harsh realities about the marketplace, especially when he advised him to: "Read Sun Tzu's Art of War. Every war is won before it is ever fought. Thrive about it . . . It's trench warfare out there, pal."

In a nutshell, that was a quick roundup of my early introduction to business in the new economy as a civilised version of war.

The book under review is essentially an operating manual for planning & executing a business simulation, using real-world intelligence & realistic role playing by stakeholders within the confines of the boardroom.

The proper terminoloy is apparently "business wargaming".

To me, the book reads like an intellectual extension of the author's two earlier works.

The first book, 'Business Blindspots', now a cult classic, has touched on the myriad of "corporate myths, beliefs & assumptions", which, if left unchecked, can often derail stakeholders' perspectives of the marketplace.

The author has designated them as "blindspots" [acquired blindspots, in contrast to the natural blindspots inherently built in our eyes] & stresses on the importance of removing our blinkers & truly understanding the market realities. [Futurist Joel Arthur Barker calls them "paradigms" in his book, 'Future Edge'.]

Interestingly, in the current book under review, the author has also singled out the importance of discovering the "blindspots" of your competitors.

The second book, 'Early Warning', has built on the first book, by sharing strategies & ideas on how to avoid been blind-sided, & by highlighting rigorous frameworks necessary for the development of an early warning system to anticipate & react to early signals of potential trouble in the marketplace.

In my view, the third & current book under review, now culminating into what I would even call a trilogy, more or less amalgamates all the author's earlier thoughtwares to constitute a systematic methodology for conducting a real business case simulation, with realistic role-playing by stakeholders to understand the competition & the market more accurately.

As I have read, the crux of business wargaming is to answer two key questions:

- what will be my competitor's likely response?

- what then is my best option?

The author's principal premise stands as such: your market performance is always relative i.e. your business success will always be affected by what your competitors do, or rather, by their likely responses, as opposed to obvious responses.

I must compliment the author for making the fine distinctions here.

He cautions though, business wargaming will not guarantee your success - nothing will - but it will increase your odds.

Frankly, I have actually approached the current book under review with the notion of exploring whether business wargaming could be used &/or adapted to help one in making a life decision, say ten years down the road.

After all, a life decision also involves other important stakeholders - parents, spouses, children, siblings, colleagues, friends & others. Besides goals, there are apparently roles & dynamics to consider too. Sad to say, competition will also come in many forms, human, technological as well as the changing nature of work.

I haven't yet figured out all the requisite mechanics in a personal application, but I have certainly enjoyed reading 'Business War Games'.

As a management professor, & also a prior stint as an Israeli police intelligence operative, the author writes very well - clear, concise & succinct.

The book, packed with relevant case studies, is organised in four parts:

- Part I: From Sand Table to Boardroom;
- Part II: Competitors as Characters;
- Part III: Step-by-Step Instructions;
- Part IV: Running a Business War Game;

What I like most about the book is the author's emphasis on the strategic thinking, real out-thinking the competition in the real world, instead of relying too much on imaginary modeling, computer algorithms & fancy MBA's.

Chapter 3 is my personal favourite, in which I reckon his answer to the question, "Can you accurately predict competitors' moves?" is great & candid!

To sum up my review, & also to further substantiate why I think the current book forms a trilogy with the author's two earlier books, I like to paraphrase the author from his book:

"There are several factors behind a success of a game: good intelligence, rigorous frameworks, & naturally, the quality of the (stakeholder) teams."

Well, intelligence analysis requires the understanding & appreciation of blindspots, yours as well as the competitors. This is beautifully detailed in the first book.

Developing rapid response capabilities requires rigorous frameworks. In my view, this is more detailed in the second book.

From my perspective, & to reiterate, bringing it all together is seemingly the focus of the current book under review.

I leave it to readers to decide whether they want to acquire all the three wonderful books. For me, they are definitely worth the investment.


[continue from the Last Post]

From the standpoint of a myriad of strategies & techniques for creativity, I reckon the two wonderful books by Michael Michalko really stand out among the crowd, in addition to those by Edward de bono.

They are:

- 'Thinkertoys';
- 'Cracking Creativity';

I have already reviewed them in an earlier post.

Interestingly, the author had reportedly led a team of NATO intelligence analysts in Europe to research & apply inventive thinking to deal with a variety of military, political & social problems, which eventually culminated into his debut book.

I am not surprised if the immediate question that comes to a reader's mind is: What have "spies" to do with "creativity"?

A lot, I must say.

"Spies" often need "creativity" to help them to outwit &/or out-manoeuvre their enemies. Also, to help them get out of dicey situations in the course of their covert activities . . . plus, to occasionally hootwink some beautiful damsels in distress!

If you have watched movies involving spy characters like James Bond or Jason Bourne or Augus MacGyver, you will understand better.

In fact, one of the most important character traits of a spy also happens to be one of the most important character traits of a creative guy: astute sense of observation.

"Spies" & the creative guys often can see all those things out there, which we often can't seem to even notice.

Incidentally, two other former "spies" have also written their own "creativity" books:

- Morgan Jones, a former CIA intelligence analyst, wrote 'The Thinkers' Toolkit: 14 Powerful Techniques for Problem Solving' - it's a wonderful collection of analytic structuring techniques;

- Andrei Aleinikov, a former KGB colonel in the Russian military who defected to the West, wrote 'MegaCreativity: 5 Steps to Thinking Like a Genius'; he is also the author of 'Creating Creativity: 101 Definitions';

So the immediate question that comes to my mind as I write this post: Do their former selves lend an iota of authenticity to their writings?

Yes! of course, as seen from the PR blurbs on the covers of their respective books.

An aura of mystery? Certainly as that helps too in the selling of their books, to their great delight.

[More information about the above-mentioned authors & their work can be found:

Michael Michalko:;
Morgan Jones:;
Andrei Aleinikov:;]

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Interestingly, I have picked up this beautiful definition of faith:

"Faith is believing without proof."

from the perfect Christmas movie, 'Single Santa Seeks Mrs Claus' on StarHub cable television, just a short while ago.

It was uttered by none other than Nick, the about-to-be Santa Claus, played by Steven Gutenberg, on Christmas Day.


Whenever I choose a business book to acquire & read, especially when it has been written by an unknown, I often like to check out the author's published credentials in the first instance.

In today's Internet age, reference checks can be done quite quickly, even though one has also to be alert & diligent due to the spurious amount of misinformation & disinformation.

An author's published credentials - biographical information, professional background, market reputation, affiliations, associations, & other credits - often can lend that iota of authenticity to his book.

Sometimes, an author's credentials can also add that aura of mystery to his book.

The first time I had acquired & read John Naisbitt's 'Megatrends: Ten New Directions Transforming Our Lives' during the late eighties, it was very intriguing to learn that he had been an intelligence operative for the US Army in Europe during WWII.

He was then working for the OSS (Office of Strategic Services, the precursor to today's CIA).

His principal job was to gather, collate & analyse all the seemingly irrelevant bits & pieces of information as reported in local daily newspapers in order to smell out German troop movements in the area.

That's how the business world came to know about the technique of "content analysis", which John Naisbitt had brilliantly used it to launch his debut book as well as his trends newsletter - & of course, his trend-spotting business - after the war.

After all, business is also war. A more civilised form.

Interestingly, recently I have just finished reading Benjamin Gilad's 'Business War Games: How Large, Small, & New Companies Can Vastly Improve Their Strategies & Outmaneuver the Competition'.

It's a wonderful read, especially if you have an interest in developing strategic, business & competitive intelligence (SI/BI/CI). I will review it in a separate post.

The author has written two other books, which I had also read earlier:

- 'Business Blindspots: Replacing Your Company's Entrenched & Outdated Myths, Beliefs & Assumptions With the Realities of Today's Markets'; &

- 'Early Warning: 'Using Competitive Intelligence to Anticipate Market Shifts, Control Risk, & Create Powerful Strategies';

In a nut shell, the new book is an intellectual extension of the two earlier books.

What is most intriguing is the fact that the author had been an Israeli police intelligence operative before he became a management professor.

We all know that the Israelis are often superb & ingenious in their intelligence operations on the war front.

I am sure many older readers can still recall the successful Entebbe raid in Uganda during General Idi Amin's evil reign during the late seventies.

Israeli airborne commandos flew some 10,000 km into Uganda to rescue 100+ Israeli hostages from the hijacked Air France plane at the airport.

[In case you are still curious about the incident, I suggest getting hold of the video 'Raid on Entebbe', starring Charles Bronson, to watch.]

As a matter of fact, the foregoing incident has also been detailed in the author's book as a beautiful example of realistic "game simulation" by Israeli military authorities.

[to be continued in the Next Post]


For a number of years, I have been scouting for books covering my personal as well as professional areas of interest which have been specifically written by non-American authors.

In the realm of business books, there are apparently many good European authors, but I have only in recent years managed to acquire 3 books on scenario planning from South Africa i.e. they have been written by South African authors.

They are:

1) 'The Mind of the Fox: Scenario Planning in Action';

2) 'Games Foxes Play: Planning for Extraordinary Times';

3) 'Socrates & The Fox: A Strategic Dialogue';

All the three books have been written by business strategists Chantell Ilbury & Clem Sunter from South Africa

Although they are not ground-breaking, I reckon their refreshing metaphorical usage of the ingenuity of one of nature's most resourceful animal - the fox - can certainly help the strategic planner to ramp up his mental processes in the search for more imaginative & participative approaches to understanding the changing game of business.

Just like business strategist/futurist Joel Arthur Barker who has posed two great questions in his classic 'Future Edge', the two authors in this case has also posed two, but I have broken them down into four - great questions:

- what do I control?

- what do I not control?

- what is certain about the future?

- what is uncertain about the future?

The two authors have constructed an ingenious matrix methodology around the questions to help the strategic planner in identifying the rules of the new game; assessing key uncertainties; paint scenarios; evaluating realistic options & finally, making effective decisions.

The books are available from

THE SUCCESS PRINCIPLES, according to Jack Canfield

This is a rapid recap of 64 of the world's most powerful principles guaranteed to give everything you want out of life from Jack Canfield's 'The Success Principles'.

The author has specifically called them "commitments".

Here they are, all of them:

1) Take 100% responsibility for your life;

2) Be clear why you are here - to me, clarity is absolute power;

3) Decide what you want;

4) Believe it's possible - remember, impossible is nothing!

5) Believe in yourself;

6) Become an invert paranoid;

7) Unleash the power of goal setting;

8) Chunk it down - start with baby steps, one step at a time;

9) Success leaves clues;

10) Release the brakes - by letting go;

11) See what you want, Get what you see;

12) Act as it it's real - the brain can't tell the difference anyway;

13) Take action - don't just talk about it;

14) Just lean into it - make yourself open to opportunities as well as challenges;

15) Experience your fear & take action anyway;

16) Be willing to pay the price;

17) Ask, Ask, Ask - & you will get it;

18) Reject rejection;

19) Use feedback to fast forward;

20) Commit to CANI: Continuous & Never Ending Improvement;

21) Keep score for success;

22) Practise persistence;

23) Practise the Rule of 5 - every day do five things that will move you forward:

24) Exceed expectations;

25) Surround yourself with successful people;

26) Acknowledge your positive past;

27) Keep your eye on the prize;

28) Clear up your messes & your incompletes;

29) Complete the past to embrace the future;

30) Face - & deal immediately with - what's not working;

31) Embrace change like a wet baby;

32) Transform your inner critic into inner coach;

33) Transcend your limiting beliefs;

34) Develop four new success habits a year;

35) 99% is a bitch; 100% is a breeze - adhere to the 'No Exceptions Rule' & 'No Matter What It Takes Attitude';

36) Learn more to learn more;

37) Stay motivated with the Masters;

38) Fuel your success with passion & enthusiasm;

39) Stay focused on your core genius;

40) Redefine time;

41) Build powerful support & delegate;

42) Just say NO!

43) Say NO! to Good so you can say YES! to Great;

44) Find a wing to climb under - understudy anyone who is great;

45) Hire a personal coach;

46) Mastermind your way to success;

47) Inquire within;

48) Be hear now;

49) Have a heart-to-heart talk;

50) Tell the truth faster;

51) Speak with impeccability;

52) When in doubt, check it out;

53) Practise uncommon appreciation;

54) Keep your agreements;

55) Be a class act;

56) Develop positive money consciousness;

57) You get what you focus on;

58) Pay yourself first;

59) Master the spending game;

60) Give more to get more;

61) To spend more, first make more;

62) Find a way to save;

63) Start NOW! . . . Just DO it!

64) Empower yourself by empowering others;

Let me use one of Jim Rohn's favourite quotations to sum up this rapid recap:

"You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself."


Yesterday, I spent some time at the Kinokuniya Bookstore in Ngee Ann City, while my wife hung out in the nearby boutiques.

A new book jointly written by veteran Jack Canfield & newcomer Kent Healy again caught my personal attention: 'The Success Principles for Teens'.

The new book is essentially a condensation of the author's earlier 'The Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be'.

In the original book, there are 64 of the world's most powerful principles, but only 20+ in the new book for teens.

[Interestingly, Kent Healy is the co-author of the funky 'Cool Stuff They Should Teach in School', which I have already reviewed in an earlier post. It's targetted at teens.]

Seemingly, in recent years, I have noted that many established authors of success motivation books for working adults are now moving into the fast growing teen market. It's obviously a goldmine.

Looking back, & firing the first salvo so to speak, I believe it was Stephen Covey, author of the classic, 'The 7 Habits for Highly Effective People', who had influenced his son, Sean Covey, to write the latter's debut book, 'The 7 Habits for Highly Effective Teens' in the late nineties.

This was followed by Richard Carlson's 'Don't Sweat the Small Stuff for Teens' in 2000, following the success of his earlier 'Don't Sweat the Small Stuff' in the nineties.

Others include:

- 'Teens Can Make It Happen', by Stedman Graham, who wrote 'You Can Make It Happen: A 9-Step Plan for Success' in the late nineties;

- 'Life Strategies for Teens' (2002) by Jay McGraw, the son of Phil McGraw, who wrote 'Life Strategies: Doing What Works Doing What Matters' in the nineties;

- 'Rich Dad Rich Kid Smart Kid' (2001) & 'Rich Dad Poor Dad for Teens' (2004) by Robert Kiyosaki;

- 'The Power of Focus for College Students' (2005) by Andrew Hewitt & Luc d'Abadie;

[Andrew is the son of Lew Hewitt, who co-wrote 'The Power of Focus: What the Worlds Greatest Achievers Know about The Secret of Financial Freedom & Success' with Jack Canfield/Mark Victor Hansen];

- 'If You Think You Can! for Teens' (2006) by T J Hoisington, the author of 'If You Think You Can: Thirteen Laws that Govern the Performance of High Achievers';

Don't forget, I have not even talked about all the ancillary & related products, like workbooks, journals, card stuff, etc.

Come to think of it, mum & dad can now work together with their kids/teens to get everything they want out of life.


"We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it — & stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove lid. She will never sit on a hot stove lid again — & that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore."

~ Mark Twain, a pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, 1835-1910, an American author, most noted for his novels, 'Adventures of Huckleberry Finn', which has since been called the Great American Novel & 'The Adventures of Tom Sawyer';


I am just starting to read 'Training Your Brain for the Over 50's', by Terry Horne & Simon Wootton, & have been immediately attracted by a upward spiral diagram, with a feedback loop, designated as figure #0.3 in the Introduction page.

[Incidentally, both authors are the same authors of one of my personal favourites, 'Strategic Thinking: A Step-By-Step Approach to Strategy', which I have already reviewed in an earlier post.]

It reads: "The virtuous circle of talking better, thinking better, writing better, working better & feeling better increases cognitive capacity".

To me, the illuminating caption makes a lot of sense.

Let me elaborate.

Actually, as I can see, the crux is continual personal improvement.

Talking better: talking is definitely a good way to keep the mind active, especially in conversations with those we care about; also, with our good neighbours &/or friends, & even with total strangers on the street;

At work, talking is generally not an issue.

Naturally, we can talk about practically everything under the sun. We should strive to make the conversation meaningful, interesting & engaging.

I like to add further: when alone, talking to oneself positively i.e. having positive self-talk, is also important;

Thinking better: my first reaction is thinking about our thinking - something we don't do very often - is good, too, as it helps us to be aware of what we are thinking about.

Learning new ways to think about is useful. That's why I am so interested in "strategic thinking" both in the personal as well as business perspective.

For me, thinking is always the key to problem solving as well as decision making.

One more thing: Thinking must also be applied to reading, irrespective of whether it's the morning papers or books. Think about what you are reading about.

For me, I often apply thinking to watching the google box. What's the guy talking about, in terms of the news? What's useful here? What's missing? What can I make use of from here in my personal context?

Writing better: writing is not confined to writing books; it can be writing letters or emails to friends.

Personally, I find written communication to be a good way to crystallise one's thoughts.

I am told that writing daily journals is good, too.

Personally, I don't do journaling, but I have a scratchpad to keep all my daily random notes, from readings as well as observations.

Working better: again, working is not confined to the office, but also at home. Naturally, we should always seek new ways to work better, to increase our personal productivity, so to speak.

Today, with the augmentation of modern technology, this can be achieved much more easily & quickly, in the office as well as at home.

The point here is that we must be the master; not the slave.

Feeling better: once we realise that we can talk better, think better, write better & work better, our self-esteem goes up, which therefore makes us feel better. Hence, the feedback loop.

A motivational trainer friend of mine often likes to define "self-esteem" as "feeling lovable & capable". I fully concur with him.

I always consider feeling good about oneself as a prerequisite for success achievement.

Come to think of it, the activities as described certainly build up our cognitive reserve in the long run.

They also resonate very well with the three basic strategies for maximising our brain power during our senior years:

1) Be physically active;

2) Challenge our brain;

3) Stay socially active;

Monday, December 15, 2008


"I believe that persistent effort, supported by a character-based foundation, will enable you to get more of the things money will buy and all of the things money won’t buy."

- Zig Ziglar, popular American motivational speaker


How do I get different results?

How do I do things different?

How to I think different?

What's different around me?

What's different as a result of what just happened?

What's different as a result of what I just did?

What's different about what I just noticed?

How do I notice different?

~ inspired by the work of Rolf Smith, author of '7 Levels of Change'; from him, I have learned that to innovate &/or to change, I have to focus & notice differently, to think differently, to think about my own thinking, & then, to do things differently;

Sunday, December 14, 2008


“I change many things, discard others, & try again & again until I am satisfied; then, in my head, I being to elaborate the work in its breadth, its narrowness, its height, its depth . . . I hear & see the image in front of me from every angle as if it had been cast & only the labour of writing it down remains.”

– Ludwig van Beethoven, 1770–1827, German composer & pianist; a crucial figure in the transitional period between the Classical & Romantic eras in Western classical music, & remains one of the most respected & influential composers of all time;


It has finally happened to me recently:

I sit down in front of my desktop computer, eager to write the next great post, & as my fingers hover over the keyboard, all I can think about is - absolutely nothing.

I have been writing at least a couple of blog posts every day since I have started in June 2007, except for those days I have been out of town on overseas holidays.

I know there are a lot of things I can do to get over blogger's or writer's block:

take a walk, free-write, listen to music, take my laptop to MacDonald's, or read other people's blogs;

I have done all that, but they somehow didn't seem to work for me recently.

I have even experimented with channel surfing on my google box. No effect, either, although I have spent more time rewatching old movies or sitcoms.

Interestingly, & to my dismay, my regular reading pursuit has also slowed down.

Oftentimes, when I go through my old scratchpad notes - mostly random notes from all my previous readings, I always can get that jolt of inspiration to write about something.

I always can find something interesting to write about, but not recently.

What's wrong with me?

Fatigue? Mood swings? Sickness? Well, I have had a sore throat, as a result of too much spicy food, plus a slight fever, over the last few days.

Worst still, I have even skipped my regular physical exercises in the gym over the last few days, too.

I need to find my bearings quickly so that I can get back to blogging.