Saturday, April 11, 2009


Who am I?

What is happening?

Why am I here?


"People's beliefs about their abilities have a profound effect on those abilities. Ability is not a fixed property; there is a huge variability in how you perform. People who have a sense of self efficacy bounce back from failures; they approach things in terms of how to handle them rather than worrying about what can go wrong."

~ Prof Albert Bandura, 85, a Canadian psychologist specializing in social cognitive theory & concept of self-efficacy';

[More information about Prof Albert Bandura & his work is available at this link.]


In his excellent book, 'What Got You Here Won't Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful', Marshall Goldsmith, one of the most sought-after executive coaches in Corporate America, shares his brilliant insights on the following leadership blindspots or self-destructive behaviours that can derail success:

1. Winning too much: the need to win at all costs and in all situations - when it matters, when it doesn't, and when it's totally beside the point.

2. Adding value: the overwhelming desire to add our two cents to every discussion.

3. Passing judgment: the need to rate others and impose our standards on them.

4. Making destructive comments: the needless sarcasms and cutting remarks that we think make us sound sharp and witty.

5. Starting with "No," "But," or "However": the overuse of these negative qualifiers which secretly say to everyone, "I'm right. You're wrong."

6. Telling the world how smart you are: the need to show people we're smarter than they think we are.

7. Speaking when angry: using emotional volatility as a management tool.

8. Negativity, or "Let me explain why that won't work": the need to share our negative thoughts even when we weren't asked.

9. Withholding information: the refusal to share information in order to maintain an advantage over others.

10. Failing to give proper recognition: the inability to praise and reward.

11. Claiming credit that we don't deserve: the most annoying way to overestimate our contribution to any success.

12. Making excuses: the need to reposition our annoying behavior as a permanent fixture so people excuse us for it.

13. Clinging to the past: the need to deflect blame away from ourselves and onto events and people from our past; a subset of blaming everyone else.

14. Playing favorites: failing to see that we are treating someone unfairly.

15. Refusing to express regret: the inability to take responsibility for our actions, admit we're wrong, or recognize how our actions affect others.

16. Not listening: the most passive-aggressive form of disrespect for colleagues.

17. Failing to express gratitude: the most basic form of bad manners.

18. Punishing the messenger: the misguided need to attack the innocent who are usually only trying to help us.

19. Passing the buck: the need to blame everyone but ourselves.

20. An excessive need to be "me": exalting our faults as virtues simply because they"re who we are.

21. An obsession with goals or objectives at the expense of the larger mission &/or common good.

[More information about Marshall Goldsmith & his thoughtwares is available at this link.]


I have recently acquired a handful of excellent books - based on recommendations from several leadership blogs - on training & development from the new Harris book store at Jurong Point 2.

Among them, I am currently reading:

1) 'Informal Learning: Rediscovering the Natural Pathways That Inspire', by Jay Cross:

It provides an interesting road map to integrating our knowledge, learning & performance into workplace productivity that leads to business results.

2) 'The Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning: How to Turn Training & Development into Business Results', by Calhoun Wick & Others:

It's a handy guide to build learning & development in the organisation that increases business capability & workplace productivity.

3) 'Building Expertise: Cognitive Methods for Training & Performance Improvement', by Ruth Clark:

It's a handbook resource with an excellent summary of psychological theories on ways to develop effective learning experiences that deliver performance & business results.

I plan to review them shortly after my perusal.

Friday, April 10, 2009


"If you believe you are born with all the smarts and gifts you'll ever have, you tend to approach life with a fixed mind-set. However, those who believe that their abilities can expand over time live with a growth mind-set—and they're much more innovative."

— Dr. Marshall Goldsmith, a world authority in management, & author of 'Coaching for Leadership: The Practice of Leadership Coaching from the World's Greatest Coaches', among other great works;


“Marketing is about attracting, inspiring & binding consumers, & ensuring timely wake-up calls to your own organisation.”

“Brands should always be assessed in a business perspective (that’s where the money is), but only vision determines the way. It’s actually not that difficult as long as you always have the future in mind. And having the right gut feeling as a marketeer helps.”

“Yet innovations need not always only be speedy. Above all, they have to be relevant to the consumer & be smart in their time-to-market”

~ Herwin van den Berg, Marketing Director of Heineken Nederland;

[The Alfred Heineken family has been brewing the Netherlands’ foremost international beer since 1868. After finding fame & fortune at home, Alfred Heineken in particular set out into the world with the clear objective of developing his heritage into a true global brand.

In fact, the Heineken brand is sold in almost every country in the world & the Company owns over 115 breweries in more than 65 countries.

Today, Heineken ranks among the top 5 global brands, but adrift of the leading top 3. It's #1 in Western Europe, but is still a minor player in the Asia Pacific.]


The other day, while I was sitting on board SBS Transit express service #502 from Jurong West to Orchard Road, I caught a fleeting glimpse of a large billboard on Orchard Road, most probably near the Lido Cinema.

It had this intriguing caption from Heineken Beer - it had caught my immediate attention, even though I am not a beer drinker:

"Our greatest innovation: The same beer."

I never realise that in today's fast-changing hyper-competitive consumer market, especially beer, where creative disruption is often the name of the game, staying the same can still be considered innovative . . . hence, profitable.

Nevertheless, I am often impressed by the many innovative as well as engaging ads for Heineken Beer on television.

[Today, Heineken ranks among the top 5 global brands, but adrift of the leading top 3. It's #1 in Western Europe, but is still a minor player in the Asia Pacific.]


"Paradigm pliancy is the best strategy in terms of rapid & turbulent change. Flexibility & a willingness to abandon outmoded methods & approaches is crucial. When the horse is dead, dismount!"

~ in a newsletter published by the Leadership Network some 15 years ago; the message is still relevant today; Bob Buford is chairman of the board of The Buford Foundation/Leadership Network until the sale of his company in July 1999; a classic entrepreneur, Bob has authored four books - 'HalfTime, Game Plan', 'Stuck in Halftime', 'Beyond Halftime' & 'Finishing Well';

[More information about Bob Buford & his work is available at this link.]

Thursday, April 9, 2009


"Catch fire with enthusiasm & people will come from miles to watch you burn."

~ John Wesley, 1703–1791, English theologian & founder of the 'Methodist' movement;

[This is a very profound observation. One great fact about enthusiasm is that it's contagious. Have you every been around a person who was truly enthusiastic in his work? People like this often infect others with their sense of enthusiasm.]

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Here's a link to a great article in the Avatar Journal about how to think deliberately by personal transformation guru Harry Palmer.

I particularly like the part where Harry Palmer shares an intricate strategy on how to deliberately create a thought in your own mind.

[Note: Avatar is just a structured & facilitated nine-day self-empowerment training delivered by a world-wide network of licensed Avatar Masters. More information about the training is available at this link. Please approach all Avatar materials with an open mind.]


1) You will receive a body.
You may like it or hate it, but it will be yours for the entire period of this time around.

2) You will learn lessons.
You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called LIFE. Each day in this school you will have the opportunity to learn lessons. You may like the lessons or think of them as irrelevant and stupid.

3) There are no mistakes, only lessons.
Growth is a process of experimentation, a series of trials, errors, and occasional victories. The "failed" experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiments that ultimately work.

4) A lesson is repeated until learnt.
A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learnt it. When you have learned it, you can then go on to the next lesson.

5) Learning lessons does not end.
There is no part of life that does not contain its lessons. If you are alive there are lessons to be learned.

6) "There" is no better than "here".
When your "there" has become a "here", you will simply obtain another "there" that will again look better than "here".

7) Others are only mirrors of you.
You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects something you love or hate about yourself.

8) What you make of life is upto you.
You have all the tools or resources you need. What you do with them is up to you. The choice is yours.

9) Your answers lie inside you.
The answers to life's questions lie inside you. All you need to do is look, listen and trust.

10) You will forget all this at birth.
You can remember it if you want by unraveling the double helix of inner knowing..

[Source: 'If Life is a Game, These are the Rules', by Cherie Carter-Scott]


"Just as our eyes need light in order to see, our minds need ideas in order to conceive."

~ Nicolas Malebranche (1638-1715), French theologian & philosopher;


It's not going to happen.

I assumed I would age gracefully. I would become one of those remarkable older women whose wrinkles showed up as the subtle tracings of character. Some graying would be inevitable, of course, but it would manifest itself as highlights. Nothing dingy.

I would never bore anyone whining about my ailments and I would be an active, attractive older woman. I had never been much of a hiker or even a walker, never been in a gym or stuck with an aerobics class for more than three weeks, but I would become an example of health and well-being for my grandchildren.

My husband would adore me and the sex would stay steamy. We would never say, "Can we do this tomorrow? Doctors would marvel at the elasticity of my tip top vagina. "Once a day and twice on Sunday," I would smugly tell the youngsters. "That's the secret to a healthy, happy life."

So, now I am fifty plus and I can see that it's not going to be so simple. I have arthritis already, the result of nasty accidents in my twenties. That's one thing I have discovered. Your fifties is when you start paying for the injuries of youth. Old rugby players like my husband pay dearly. Massage oil? Oh yeah, there's plenty of that in our bedroom.

But I am flexible. If fitness through jogging is not going to be, I would buy a bike. Well, that 's been a trip.

I've gone out three times and fallen off the damn thing three times. I seem to be okay on the balancing and I understand the principles of riding but I've never had gears before and I always seem to be in the wrong one. I tried to start off last night in 1 & 1 because my son (an extreme rider) told me to be in low gear when I took off. I could hear his friends hooting in the background when I called.

“Your Mom doesn’t know how to change gears? No way.”

But 1 & 1 is what you use when you are climbing hills and there is no traction for taking off. So there I was, trying to push off with my left foot, pushed the right pedal down with the other foot and of course it just bottomed out and for a few brief moments I hung there, perfectly balanced.

Then, like an actor in a stupid Monty Python movie, I just fell flat over with a huge THUNK. One good thing about all this is that I have gotten over my fear of falling. I now know that I can fall over and it is okay. I get back up again. Sure, the traffic stopped so everyone could gawk and an old man on a walker had to get the bike untangled from my feet, my knee was bleeding and my elbow had all this gravel stuck in it, but no bones were broken.

Still, it had been enough for me so I turned the bike around and was walking it home. My neighbour, who’d been leaning on her rake watching all this, came over.

“Yes, yes ....time to stop this nonsense. Gardening and watching the grandbabies. Yah, that’s what we’re good for now,” she clucked.

I turned the bike around and headed back up the street and this time I got the gears right and I did not fall off.

Aging gracefully? It's not going to happen. I expect to be the spectacle of the neighbourhood, at least until I get this gear thing mastered. After that, who knows. One of my kids is a ski patroller. He gets paid for patching up what he and his buddies call “greys on trays”. He assures me that if I show up with a snowboard he’ll put the whole crew on alert and I’ll get first class service from the medics.

No, I don’t have a death wish. It’s more that I have a life wish. I want to try it all and taste it all before I do die. At fifty-three it is occurring to me that the window of opportunity on some of these experiences is closing. I’ll be squeezing in a few more before it does. Graceful? Not a chance. Alive? Till I die.

Carolyn Usher

[Source: 'Life Well Spent' weblog]


Never give yourself a haircut after three alcoholic beverages of any kind.

You need only two tools: WD-40 and duct tape. If it doesn't move and it should, use WD-40. If it moves and it shouldn't, use duct tape.

The most essential words for a healthy, vital relationship are "I apologize" and "You are right."

Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.

When you make a mistake, make amends immediately. It's easier to eat crow while it's still warm.

The best advice that your mother ever gave you was: "Go! You might meet somebody."

If he/she says that you are too good for him/her, believe them.

Learn to pick your battles. Ask yourself, "Will this matter one year from now? How about in one month? One week? One day?

Never pass up an opportunity to pee.

If you woke up breathing, congratulations! You have another chance.

Living well really is the best revenge. Being miserable because of a bad or former relationship just might mean that the other was person right about you.

Work is good, but it's not that important.

And finally: Be really nice to your friends and family. You never know when you are going to need them to bring you a bedpan.

[Source: Unknown]


"Doing it once is nice. Doing it again is better. Doing something differently again & again . . . Well, that's what makes you one of the world's most innovative company."

~ Scott Anthony, President, Innosight LLC, a boutique consulting, training, & investment firm that works with Fortune 500 companies;


I have stumbled upon the weblog of journalist/journalism coach Don Fry, 'Writing Your Way', & found two interesting blog-posts written by him, as follows:

1) Finding Ideas;

2) Noticing Ideas;

For me, they offer great lessons from the contrarian thinking standpoint.


"It's not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me."

~ Bruce Wayne, played by Christian Bale, in 'Batman Begins';


When reviewing or reflecting on setbacks, disappointments or failures, so to speak:

How can I turn this around?

How can I make it work?

How can I utilise or draw lessons from it?

How can I use this to empower myself & others?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


"Change your world view, & you change the world! Not just the world at large but also your own personal world, writ large!"

~ Dudley Lynch, thinkologist, founder & CEO of Brain Technologies; also author of the classic on accelerated self-growth, 'Strategy of the Dolphin', among many others;

Monday, April 6, 2009


Have you found joy in your life?

Have your life brought joy to others?

~ inspired by the poignant movie, 'The Bucket List', starring Jack Nicholson & Morgan Freeman;


I have just finished watching a beautiful movie on StarHub cable television this afternoon.

It's 'The Bucket List', starring two very fine actors, also personal favourites of mine, Jack Nicholson & Morgan Freeman.

The poignant story in a nut shell:

A hot-headed billionaire Edward Cole (Jack) & a working class but cultured auto mechanic Carter Chambers (Morgan) shared a hospital room together, as terminally-illed cancer patients. Knowing that they had only 6 to 12 months to live, they decided to leave the hospital & to do all the things they had ever wanted to do before they die, according to their bucket list.

In the process, both of them healed each other, became unlikely buddies, & ultimately found the joy in life on their last few days.

Besides the witty dialogue, I love the ending part of the movie, with the following memorable "dialogue" segments:

Carter Chambers: [in his hand-written letter to Edward, just before Carter went into unsuccessful surgery at the hospital]

"Dear Edward, I've gone back & forth the last few days trying to decide whether or not I should even write this. In the end, I realized I would regret it if I didn't, so here it goes. I know the last time we saw each other, we weren't exactly hitting the sweetest notes-certain wasn't the way I wanted the trip to end. I suppose I'm responsible and for that, I'm sorry. But in all honestly, if I had the chance, I'd do it again. Virginia said I left a stranger & came back a husband; I owe that to you. There's no way I can repay you for all you've done for me, so rather than try, I'm just going to ask you to do something else for me-find the joy in your life. You once said you're not everyone. Well, that's true-you're certainly not everyone, but everyone is everyone. My pastor always says our lives are streams flowing into the same river towards whatever heaven lies in the mist beyond the falls. Find the joy in your life, Edward. My dear friend, close your eyes & let the waters take you home."

After Carter passed away in the hospital, Edward subsequently delivered his personal eulogy at the wake:

Edward Cole: "Good afternoon. My name is Edward Cole. I don't know what most people say at these occasions because in all honesty, I've tried to avoid them. The simplest thing is I loved him & I miss him. Carter & I saw the world together, which is amazing when you think that only three months ago we were complete strangers. I hope that it doesn't sound selfish of me, but the last months of his life were the best months of mine. He saved my life, & he knew it before I did. I'm deeply proud that this man found it worth his while to know me. In the end, I think it's safe to say that we brought some joy to one another's lives, so one day, when I go to some final resting place, if I happen to wake up next to a certain wall with a gate, I hope that Carter's there to vouch for me & show me the ropes on the other side."

A powerful lesson from the movie:



"I would say the most important duty of any creative person is to find his or her own, particular, unique story."

~ Isaac Bashevis Singer, (1902–1991), Nobel Prize-winning Polish-born American author, storyteller, & one of the leading figures in the Yiddish literary movement;

Sunday, April 5, 2009


What is my chosen personal niche for the future?

What can I do to create this personal niche?

How can I use the natural forces of change as allies in this personal effort?


I have stumbled upon the following interesting perspective about the important process stages of creativity from Robert Pratt, the lead facilitator of the C2 (Creativity Squared) workshops:


1. First, there is the RECOGNITION phase, in which you have a wish to create something that doesn't exist, or solve a specific problem

2. Then there's the moment of INSPIRATION when the creative bulb is turned on. It's a time in which the idea or solution to whatever challenge you may be facing is born

3. Next comes the INCUBATION phase, when various options for executing the idea, or solving the problem, are cultivated and considered

4. The SCAVENGER HUNT phase usually comes next, a time when you assemble the resources or materials you'll need to execute the idea

5. Then there's the EXECUTION phase, when you actually create what's in your mind - or at least a reasonable facsimile

6. The REVISION phase usually follows, when your concept or solution is refined and polished until you are happy with the results

7. Finally, you come to the GIFT-GIVING phase, when you share the joy of your creation or problem-solving skills with the world

Just recognizing where you are in the process can help you achieve your goals. This applies not only to the creative process, but to solving virtually any kind of problem.


"Most companies die not because they do the wrong things, but because they keep doing what used to be the right things for too long."

~ Prof. Yves Doz & business scholar Mikko Kosonen, authors of 'Fast Strategy: How Strategic Agility will help you stay ahead of the Game';


What if the rest of my life was the best of my life?