Saturday, August 29, 2009


This digital snapshot of the latest Coke ad at one of the bus stops on Orchard Road seems to say it all, as intended by the advertiser.

I know a Coke quenches my thirst. I am really happy at that very moment. Instant gratification fits more of my sentiment.

Happiness from a Coke, especially on a time continuum? Well, that's something else for me to ponder.


"Anything I know about “me” is in the past. The present “me” is the unknown. We say there is only one implicate order, only one present. But it projects itself as a whole series of moments. Ultimately all moments are really one. Therefore now is eternity."

-David Bohm, (1917–1992), U.S.-born British quantum physicist who made significant contributions in the fields of theoretical physics, philosophy & neuropsychology;


What is my part in creating this situation & what do I personally need to do about it?


"The Chinese bamboo plant, when it is planted, doesn't do anything in the first year. It doesn't even sprout a single green shoot; nothing. It is the same in the second year. And the third year and the fourth, yet, in the fifth year, in a space of 6 weeks, the bamboo will grow to be over 90 feet high.

The question is, did it grow 90 feet in 6 weeks or in 5 years?

It proves that persistence does pay off."

~ from the book, 'Liquid Thinking: Inspirational Lessons from the World's Greatest Achievers', by Damien Hughes;


Drawing a proven application from another industry or sphere of activity, & then adapt & apply it successfully in another totally different realm, is essentially one of the hallmarks of creative brainpower.

Two professors of operations & information management (who have also developed products & launched businesses) have done just that - using the extremely popular 'American Idol' contest as a model, & transposing it into what is basically an 'idea tournament': starting with a large pool of ideas & vetting down to a few specific winners.

[In fact, among many other real-world case studies, their fascinating story of 'Red Bull', which originated in rural Thailand, especially among the trucker community, & now popular among club goers & youth throughout the world, is another classic example.]

In a nut shell, the two authors now offer a systematic approach to producing & choosing high-potential innovations.

Hence, their new book, 'Innovation Tournaments: Creating & Selecting Exceptional Opportunities', which I have read only a couple of weeks ago.

The two professors are Christian Terwiesch & Karl Ulrich at the famed Wharton School, & their book captures beautifully the entire innovation process, with all the principles & tool sets.

Specifically for me, at last, I get to read - after having read so much of innovation books from the marketplace over the years - a really state-of-the-art innovation book that caters to both sides of the brain: an integrated view, combining creative inspiration & serendipitous discoveries (right-brain, random), with systematic process management approach & professional rigour (left-brain, bottom-line).

I have really enjoyed reading & digesting the book from cover to cover, which is actually broken down as follows, aka the "roadmap":

1. Tournaments 101: A Primer for Innovators (introducing the concept);

2. In-House Sources: Generating Opportunities Internally;

3. Outside Sources: Sensing Opportunities Externally;

4. Elimination Round: Screening Opportunities (discussing the first elimination round in a tournament);

5. Strategic Fit: Pulling Opportunities from Strategy (aligning your tournament with your strategy);

6. Short-Term Profitability: Analyzing Near Horizon Opportunities;

7. Interdependence: Forming Opportunity Portfolios;

8. Long-Term Profitability: Managing Far-Horizon Opportunities;

9. Structure: Shaping the Innovation Funnel;

10. Administration: Organizing and Governing Innovation;

11. Tournaments 201: An Innovator's Guide to Getting Started (discussing the organisation of tournaments & suggesting different approaches);

To make reading a breeze, each chapter is suffixed with a crisp chapter summary, & what I like most are the diagnostic questions that follow the summary. From a cumulative standpoint, I can see that the questions have been designed specifically to determine your level of innovation savvy.

To me, together with the intelligent filtering process as outlined by the two authors, they are the gems of the book, as they set the reader to think strategically while planning to use a tournament as an organisational problem solving process.

The principal premise of the authors is that the tournament approach allows for greater variability in the ideas proposed i.e. the greater the variation in quality of options, the more likely there are to be a few very good ones.

From the opportunity-sensing point of view, Chapter 2, 3 & 4 are my personal favourites, as they are the starting point - the pool, so to speak - for you to screen & act on all the ideas as a portfolio, followed by Chapter 6, 7 & 8, as they explain how to analyse, how to deal with expectations, constraints, interdependencies, as well as risk diversification, & how to cultivate & develop the riskier options (which often give rise to the most profitable opportunities), respectively.

To help in stimulating your business opportunity generation, the authors offer 14 great windows of opportunity: 8 from inhouse sources; 6 from external sources. They are elegantly illustrated in Chapter 2 & 3.

To me, they have certainly built on & given a new spin to what strategist Michel Robert & management guru Peter Drucker had come up with the ten broad windows of opportunity.

Interestingly, this wonderful book doesn't end at the last page 242. With the aid of the appendix, it leads readers to explore more tools & access more web resources e.g. Darwinator Software. to support your opportunity screening.

As a parting shot for this review:

I must add that I certainly like the authors' definition:

"We define an opportunity as the seed that might later grow into an innovation. An opportunity is an innovation in embryonic form, a newly sensed seed, a newly discovered technology, or a rough match between a need & a possible solution."

How do we as innovators spot profit-making opportunities when they're still in the embryonic stage? I am glad that the two authors have done a great job in answering the pertinent question for readers, but we still have to do all the hard work.

On the whole, it has been a engaging book to read, digest & learn.

I strongly recommend it to anyone who is looking to develop an integrated process to manage innovation.


This morning as I open up my Windows Mail, I discover another email invitation from Money Mastery Asia.

It has this provoking question:

Do you want to learn how to pull yourself up in the current economic situation?

In the first paragraph, it is written:

"... over 65,000 people from all over Asia have attended the most popular financial seminar in Asia..."

Directly under the founder & master trainer, it is written:

"... a powerful speaker & trainer, having trained & mentored over 70,000 people since 1984... "

What puzzles me most is that the given numbers somehow don't match each other, even though they are printed on the same page.

Worst still, the founder & master trainer was a Chartered Accountant.

I immediately thought: How can you teach somebody about wealth management when you can't even get your own numbers correct?

Out of curiosity, I proceed to browse the corporate website.

Under the cascade heading of 'Money Mastery Mentorship Program', it is written:

"... since 1997 more than 65,000 people from all walks of life have attended this Asia most popular wealth seminar, over 6,000 people have come into the Money Mastery community in different countries... "

Let's backtrack.

First, there is 1984; now, there is 1997: which is which? This discrepancy is definitely glaring!

About a week or probably more than a week ago, I have received a similar email invitation from Money Mastery Asia - unfortunately, I have deleted the original mail - but I remember distinctly that they did mention about 75,000 people having attended their program & about 7,500 having embraced their mentorship opportunity.

Now, there are 3 sets of numbers: 65,000; 70,000; & 75,000 - which one is real?

More importantly, why the puffery?

To be frank, I am very puzzled by this blatantly extravagant claim about participant size in promotional materials, which seems to be very prevalent among numerous purveyors who run motivational camps, irrespective of whether they cater for acquisition of effective study skills, wealth mastery, mind power, etc.

[I have in fact written about this issue in an earlier post.]

As a matter of fact, I was having an evening meal with a bunch of like-minded professionals the other day, & one of our subjects of debate had also centred on the purveyors of wealth mastery programs in town.

One of them made these candid remarks:

- if they were really rich & happy, they wouldn't have time to teach others;

- if hotel magnate Ong Beng Seng or real estate baron Ng Teng Fong had sent out an open invitation to learn about wealth management, he would sign up immediately without hesitation;

Nonetheless, with all sincerity, I like to say this, & also as my concluding remarks: there are certainly some useful stuff in the programs as advertised, but purveyors got to clean up their act & cut out the hoopla.

Friday, August 28, 2009


This advertiser at Bugis Junction shopping mall, wanting to be different, certainly knows how to coin a new & fancy word just to deliver his intended marketing message or to quickly catch your eyeballs!


I have captured the following digital snapshots of the street scenes around the junction of Tan Quee Lan Street & Beach Road this morning during my walkabout.

This was precisely the place where I had started - on 12th November 1991 - my small retail store, aptly called 'The Brain Resource', under the umbrella of my strategy consulting & training outfit, 'Optimum Performance Technologies'.

At that time, my office/store was located right at the back of a two-storey shophouse, designated as 120 Beach Road.

The front portion was then occupied by a diesel/kerosense retailer. The next door neighbour was a 4D lottery operator. As such, the immediate surroundings were bustling with human traffic.

During my early years, as a first-time venturer from corporate execuitve to small entrepreneur, I needed to keep my operating costs rather low. So, my office/store was very small, only about 10m2, but the rental was very low, about S$300/- per month.

I had often parked my car - a weekend car, again to conserve operating costs - at the roadside parking lot as shown in the second snapshot.

I had later on relocated to a larger office/store at the nearby North Bridge Centre (now renamed as North Bridge Commercial Complex) on 420 North Bridge Road around April 1994, after URA had served notice to possess the land for redevelopment.

I must add that the first three years or so were really tough going!

Today, the entire place has already been torn down to make way for, presumably, a large office-cum-retail complex, now under construction, as shown in the last snapshot.

Nonetheless, today, the entire area around the Tan Quee Lan Street/Beach Road junction though changed radically, still somehow brings back sweet memories of my humble journey through the hard knocks of entrepreneurship.


Before you do or say anything, ask yourself three questions:

1. What's the situation?

(The outcome you want to achieve? The risks? The time pressures? The needs?)

2. Who else is involved?

(What are their strengths? Weaknesses? Values? Vulnerabilities? Needs?)

3. How can I help?

(What are your strengths? Weaknesses? Values? Vulnerabilities?)

~ from Scott Goodson's Writings;


“If you want to find the new paradigms... you must look beyond the center to the fringes, because almost always, the rules are written at the edge.”
- Joel Arthur Barker, 'The New Business of Paradigms';

[For more information about Joel Arthur Barker, his work & his training resources, please visit this link at the Global Dialogue Center.]


I certainly like the caption, 'Anticipating the new'. That's why I took this digital snapshot at Paragon shopping mall on Orchard Road during one of my morning walkabouts.

The end result, at least from my perspective, is 'Exploring new possibilities'... 'Seizing new possibilities'... that's what makes life so interesting & exciting.

Having followed the pioneering research of neuro-scientists like Dr William Calvin & Dr David Ingvar, I always believed that anticipatory bias is part of our brain's innate mechanism, which gives us the ability to be strategically focused & tactically responsive.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


While I was having my bowl of rice vermicelli noodles with fish slices this evening at my neighbourhood coffeeshop, a large sticker on the centre of my table struck my personal attention.

It advertised our Singapore's 'Active Ageing, Active Living' festival program for 2009.

Upon returning home after a nice meal, I checked out their website & found some interesting resources for Third Agers.

Here's one on 5 'Exercises to Keep Your Mind Sharp':

1) Recall what you just forgot:

Everybody forgets at times. Don't panic. Simply trace your movements back in your mind. Picture what you were just doing and where you were. Your memory should come back to you in an instant.

2) Remember new words:

Any new vocabulary can be remembered more easily if you take the time to look up its historical source. A little bit of linguistic trivia can go a long way.

3) Tune into something new:

Tune in to a radio station you never listen to - one of the ones you usually pass over quickly.

Don't be too quick to reject or judge what you hear, whether it's a talk radio or a music station.

Listening to something you disagree with will give you the opportunity formulate counter-arguments in your head and keep your mind sharp and active. Who knows, you might just come across an exciting activity or music genre you can't keep thinking about!

4) Stir up your brain cells:

Use everyday down-times to stir up your brain cells. For example, while waiting in line at the cashier, try to estimate the total grocery bill in your head.

Wake up every morning and visualise each of the tasks you plan to complete that day, then mentally walk through the steps to complete each one.

5) Keep fit:

Keeping yourself healthy doesn't require vigorous exercise routines. Walking briskly for 20 minutes at least every other day will pump more blood to energise your brain cells.

Take the stairs once in a while instead of the lift. A fit body equals to a sharp mind!


Here's a link - with the courtesy of Amber Johnson from - to a very interesting resource that offers '100 Ways You Can Tap Into More of Your Brain'.

Thanks, Amber, for sharing.


What Keeps Me Awake At Night?

What Excites Me When I Get Up Each Day?


According to business strategist John Spence, writing in his new book:

They share six common key characteristics:

1) Vivid Vision;

2) Best People;

3) A Performance-Oriented Culture;

4) Robust Communication;

5) A Sense of Urgency;

6) Extreme Customer Focus;

Aren't they awesomely simple?

By the way, the title of John Spence's new book happens to be 'Awesomely Simple: Essential Business Strategies for Turning Ideas Into Action'.

With a little bit of tweaking, I can easily transpose the six key characteristics within the context of a personal application, & they should probably read as follows:

1) Vivid Vision;

2) Best Resources;

3) A Performance-Oriented Culture;

4) Robust Communication;

5) A Sense of Urgency;

6) Extreme Outcome Focus;


"We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same."

~ Carlos Castaneda, (1925-1998), Peruvian-born American author, with a series of controversial books to his credit, mostly drawing on his own view of experiences that encompass the total teachings of the shamans of ancient Mexico; also, author of 'The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge');


The net is definitely a very fascinating place for new ideas, new insights as well as new developments, as long as one is prepared to approach it wth a sense of discovery & a sense of wonder.

As a knowledge adventurer & technology explorer, I surf the net practically everyday. I often use my Google Alerts as my springboards, & my old faithful Copernic Agent Pro as my travelling companion.

Naturally, I pursue it with a definiteness of purpose, to look specifically what's really out there, from which I can learn, adapt & adopt in my relentless pursuit of personal mastery, in addition to keeping myself abreast of all the stuff that likely to fall under my personal purview.

I reckon, also more importantly, to edit & share with my weblog readers.

It goes without saying that there's also a lot of junk on the net.

That's why it's important for one to read widely & extensively, both main-stream stuff as well as fringe materials, on top of adopting a critical eye. This is something I have learned from gurus like Joel Arthur Barker, Peter Schwartz & Faith Popcorn.

By the way, the 'Six Frames: Thinking about Information' from Edward de bono as proposed in his book bearing the same name is worth exploring as a possible framework for developing a critical eye for information evaluation.

Reading widely & extensively enable one to make appropriate comparative analysis, & also as an intellectual platform for source verifications & further investigations.

While surfing on the net, I always stumble upon useful-to-know stuff, from both personal as well as professional standpoint.

I must warn though that net surfing can be addictive.

One important thing I have learned about net surfing is that one should also be prepared to allow serendipity or accidental discovery to take its natural course.

I always follow this simple motto: Keep Your Eyes Wide Open!

That's to say in some way, sometimes it is personally worthwhile to "stray away" or "digress" in order to read other stuff on the net that one doesn't normally read.

I have picked up this innocuous habit from planet Earth's friendly genius, R Buckminister Fuller.

I read that whenever he went to a roadside magazine stand, he would just pick up whatever magazines that were placed on the top right hand corner. His invention of the geodesic dome apparently came from a chance viewing of an exploded eye diagram of a house fly in a Nature magazine.

For example this morning, while surfing the net, I have stumbled upon - following the trigger word: 'Sybervision' - this little note from a reader (with the name of Taylor) on the 'What Are the Best Golf Swing Training Aids' website, even though I don't play golf nowadays.

[I did learn to play some golf while stationed in Thailand during the mid-eighties until my slipped disc surgery in August 1987 eventually knocked it off from my personal interest.]

He wrote:

"I checked out SyberVision on the web and came across this site in which this guy does a thorough review of the concept, the company, and its products. After reading about his experiences, I immediately ordered the golf DVD. It's as amazing as everyone says. Not at first, but after about two weeks of watching and then visualizing the prefect swing, my entire game (driving, fairway, around the greens, putting) all came together for the first time ever.

Here's a
link to the articles: Optimum Performance Technologies Reviews.

Pretty impressive stuff."

What I find intriguing in this case, & of course personally satisfying as well as rewarding as a result, is that there are real people out there who are really reading what I have written in my personal weblogs, which I have set up primarily as my disciplined daily routines for intellectual stimulation.

Well, from my perspective, that's another pat of my back, so to speak. Thanks, Taylor for your unsolicited testimonial.

You have made my day!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


"Fear less, hope more;
Whine less, breathe more;
Talk less, say more;
Hate less, love more;
& All good things are yours!"

~ A Swedish proverb;


I didn't realise that hotel magnate Ong Beng Seng was so superstitious that he had actually placed two guardian angels from Chinese folklore near the front entrance of his flagship hotel, Hilton Singapore, on Orchard Road. They certainly pigued my personal curiosity, as I passed by on my recent morning walkabout.

They were Qin Shu Bao, on the right, & Wei Chi Jing De, on the left. Both were generals during the Tang Dynasty in 618AD. They were believed to be powerful guardians of doorways.

According to Chinese legend, they possessed mystical powers, which they used to protect the Emperor Tang from the Dragon King, who swore vengeance on the emperor.


A couple of months ago, I met up with a young enterprising lady, Jean Giam, a current prime mover in the running of PhotoReading seminars in Singapore, which I had done reasonably well during the nineties.

The meeting was convened at her request as she wanted to tap my brain with regard to the pioneering days of running the seminars in Singapore.

She lamented about problems of convincing skeptical Singaporeans to come on board to attend the seminar.

Naturally, I took the opportunity to share with her my own personal as well as professional experiences.

Recently, I read her latest blogpost about the launching of the 4th edition of the 'PhotoReading' book, written by the PhotoReading technology progenitor, Paul Scheele, at the Page One bookstore in Vivo City.

Out of curiosity, I browsed the Learning Strategies Corporation (the company behind the PhotoReading technology) as well as the PhotoReading websites.

I am really amused to find that a larger part of the skepticism from prospects, even up today since the early nineties, has a lot to do with their marketing approach after all these years.

I also went into Amazon to read readers' responses to the new edition. Sad to say, there were still people out there who simply loved to throw spanners.

As I look back at my own learning journey with PhotoReading (which I had already documented in an earlier post) & my subsequent conversation with Jean not too long ago, I just want to share my further personal insights.

To my chagrin, Learning Strategies Corporation is still harping on fancy terms like "mentally photographing", "one page per second" & "25,000 words per minute", on its website to promote & sell their workshops as well as programs on CDs &/or DVDs.

To me, this narrow approach gives prospects a wrong mental or intellectual focus.

As a result, being in a left-brain world, most people tend to go for the proof, rather than just to go & play, explore & experiment with the novel technology.

PhotoReading is essentially a new way of reading. I like to call it High Performance Reading. It uses our brain's innate abilities to read & process information at very high speeds.

One of the techniques taught in PhotoReading is Photo-Focus, which depends very much on our brain's innate abilities, i.e. "intuitive sensing" & "pattern recognition".

For most kids & largely women, "intuitive sensing" is a natural phenomenon, but for men, especially adults, we tend to grapple with it, intellectually, as we work in a left-brain world.

I define "intuitive sensing" as knowing something instantly, but unable to explain it rationally.

Since we can't actually quantify "intuitive sensing" in real terms, let alone qualify it, I have come to the conclusion that Learning Strategies Corporation's continuing attempt to dwell on "one page per second", "25,000 words per minute" is a very bad idea.

Actually, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with PhotoReading as it stands, after all its technological underpinnings come from three proven strands of technology, each with its own strengths & capabilities:

- accelerated learning;

- neurolinguistics;

- preconscious processing;

As I have pointed out earlier, PhotoReading is just an entirely new way of reading at high speeds.

However, it calls for a new mindset of accommodating a novel approach, followed by subsequently willingness to learn a new skill set in one's reading habits, & eventually putting to work a new tool set to augment one's complete reading skills repertoire.

For example, drawing on my own personal experience as an voracious reader, I find that PhotoReading, running in tandem with other tools like SQ5R/SQ7R, understanding core ideas vs elaborative ideas, recognising textual patterns & signal words, questioning, grokking, making marginal annotations, summarisation, applying syntopicon, using Cornell Notes, mindmapping & other visual tools, becomes a very powerful companion.

In a nut shell, it gives readers a powerful tool to grasp a fuzzy holographic image of the massive information in one reading endeavour. It still requires an activation process, which come in the myriad of what I have just described in the foregoing paragraph.

As a matter of fact, I would also like to emphasise that setting one's ultimate reading purpose & entering a resourceful state of mind at the very beginning constitute a very important preamble to high performance reading.

For all its intents & purposes, I want to say that PhotoReading does not stand on its own from the standpoint of achieving high performance reading. In other words, & sad to say, it cannot, in reality, function in isolation.

It is our personal internalisation & assimilative response, enforced with an exercise of self-efficacy & self discipline, & also working in tandem with other skill sets as well as tool sets in our complete repertoire that make it work.

The passion for reading must come first. That's to say, more explicitly, the sense of discovery & the joy of wonder, must take precedence. Then, only PhotoReading, just like any other skill sets as well as tool sets, will fall in place, naturally & quickly.


I am not to sure whether the spelling mistake is a deliberate attempt on the part of the advertiser to catch your eyeballs.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


"An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail."

~ Edwin Land, (1909–1991), scientist & inventor, who among other things, invented inexpensive filters for polarizing light, a practical system of in-camera instant photography, known as Polaroid;


In his book, 'Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations & Reflections', legendary basketball coach John Wooden lays out much of the philosophy that helped him to engage the people that he came into contact with.

What follows are his nine promises that we can make to ourselves to help bring happiness & fulfillment to our own lives.

Nine Promises That Can Bring Happiness:

1. Promise yourself that you will talk health, happiness, and prosperity as often as possible.

2. Promise yourself to make all your friends know there is something in them that is special and that you value.

3. Promise to think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best in yourself and others.

4. Promise to be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.

5. Promise yourself to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.

6. Promise to forget the mistakes of the past and press on to greater achievements in the future.

7. Promise to wear a cheerful appearance at all times and give every person you meet a smile.

8. Promise to give so much time to improving yourself that you have no time to criticize others.

9. Promise to be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit trouble to press on you.

Monday, August 24, 2009


During my walking exercise on Friday, I saw a make-shift book stall in one of the buildings, actually a cluster of buildings after the Singapore Visitors' Centre, on Orchard Road.

As a avid reader, I naturally paused to take a quick look to see what good books were available.

A locally published self-help book on display captured my personal attention. I was intrigued by the secondary title, with the accompanying image of a red emergency button:

"In case of opportunity, break habits!"

What an apt exhortation!


"When opportunity comes, it's too late to prepare!"
~ legendary Coach John Wooden, 98, a retired American basketball coach, with 12 undefeated national championships to his credit;

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Oh, Yeah! Singapore needs that, especially with the tough economic prospects ahead.


"Never mistake a clear view as a short distance."

~ Paul Saffo, a technology forecaster based in Silicon Valley;


This Sunday morning, just around 9am, I took the opportunity to replicate my walkabout exercise on Friday.

As usual I took the express bus service #502 (air-conditioned) down to Orchard Road, dropped off at the bus stop in front of the Delphi Orchard shopping mall.

However, instead of walking the same pathway as Friday morning, i.e on the left side of the road, I went across the road & commenced my walk from the opposite side i.e. starting from the pathway in front of the Forum Galleria shopping mall.

That simple change of starting point i.e. on the right side of the road, suddenly gave me a new vista of the beginning stretch Orchard Road.

In other words, the direction down Orchard Road remained unchanged, but what had actually changed was a different pathway down Orchard Road.


When one is closer to one side, say a building, there is always a blind side beyond the eye level. One can easily see what is farther away, where the view is not blocked.

A good example, as I walked on Friday morning, I could not see the entire building on my left, as I was too close at the ground level. Also, I could only see the rear-side of a bus stop shelter.

Today, I could see the front side of the building as well as the bus stop shelter located on the left side of Orchard Road, from the other side of the road. A distant view, so to speak.

To summarise, a change of viewpoint begets a change of perspective.

A quick sampling of digital snapshots at the onset:

Here's the Forum Galleria from the left side of the road:

This was the pathway taken on Friday morning:

Here's Orchard Towers from the right side of the road:

This was the pathway taken today:

Here's the Palais from the right side of the road: