Saturday, September 5, 2009


I am quite surprised to learn from a recent Sunday Times report that a number of small blogshops, started by some enterprising young ladies in Singapore to earn some extra cash from selling clothes, handbags & costume jewellery, have decided to band together to share a brick & mortar shop at the Far East Square shopping mall on Scotts Road.

I reckon old habits die hard, especially when come to the buying of the usual stuff from conventional brick & mortar shops.

Looks like there are still a lot of Singaporean buyers who prefer the hard textural feel of the stuff to be purchased before parting their hard-earned money.

On a different note, Far East Square is a really cool place, because it has practically everything to meet a shopper needs & demands - clothes (especially those made in Korea), jewellery, handbags, handphones, T-shirts, jeans, shoes, watches, game boys, electronic gadgets, plus all the fancy knick knacks, etc., besides restaurants, food kiosks, beauty saloons, rub & tattoo joints.

It's a regular hangout for young & trendy teens.

Best of all, prices are reasonable, & more importantly, affordable to the teens.

My wife loves to go there to gawk & browse. She often remarks that I am the oldest among all the prospects walking around Far East Square. Strangely enough, you don't really find old folks in the shopping mall, except for elderly overseas tourists.

I love to go there, partly because there is a Yakun coffee & kaya toast joint in the basement. The teh-c (tea with carnation milk) there is good to the last drop!


Actually, it would definitely take a sharp roving eye to be able to catch the relatively small slogan - "See the Old in New Ways" - on the advertising banner hung from this lamp post.

The banner is seemingly part of an extensive series by the Singapore Tourist Promotion Board to attract tourists/visitors to Orchard Road.

I just wonder how the banners are going to catch the eyeballs of tourists/visitors. For me, it was a fluke shot while doing my morning walkabout that day.


What does it mean to live in a truly global era?


1. Focus on the solution, not the problem:

~ Ask 'what am I going to do about where I am?', instead of dwelling on 'why is this happening to me?';

2. Try asking yourself this question during the day: 'what am I free to choose right now?'

3. Pretend you have the confidence or talent to find a solution;

4. Find things to laugh about;

5. Celebrate success along the way, no matter how small;

6. When considering options, before you say something won’t work, consider 'how it might work'. Try it on for a while;

7. Focus on a positive future & ask: 'what do I want to be a year from now?'; next, ask: 'what actions do I need to take today to make that positive future happen?';

8. Breathe slowly and deeply;

9. Direct your complaints upward i.e. turning your problem over to a higher power - you don’t have to believe that this works for it to be effective - give it a try;

10. Get out and help someone else;

11. Find someone in the same situation to help and pay attention to what you suggest they do;

12. Thirty minutes of aerobic activity daily is still the best way to counteract the stress of change;

13. Encourage yourself along the way;

14. If you find yourself worrying all the time, set aside a fifteen-minute worry time, say 5 p.m. every day;

15. If you find yourself having to do things you’d rather not, make sure that you also do things you love on a regular basis;

16. Be sure to thank those who help along the way;

17. 'What really matters here?' That’s a question that will help you keep the change in proportion;

18. Hang out with happy people;

19. Look for “way open” to know if you should pursue something;

20. Focus on the positive qualities you have to face this change;

[Adapted from the book, 'Adaptability: How to Survive Change You Didn’t Ask for', by change expert Mary Jane Ryan; Here's a link to her personal weblog;

She defines 'adaptability' as the "capacity to be flexible & resourceful in the face of ever-changing conditions", & "to respond in a resilient & productive manner when change is required";]


What is my identity? Who am I? What is my history?

What is my intention? What am I trying to do?

What are the issues & problems facing me that keep me from getting to my goals? What are my dilemmas & questions?

What are my relationships like?

What are my principles & standards of behavior? What are my own ground rules?

What is the physical work taking place? What am I producing?

How do I create & handle information? Do I know what is going on?

Am I learning? Do I take time to learn? Am I learning what is critical so that I can move forward to the future? Is my attention focused on my highest potential?

How am I organized? What is my structure? How am I connected to my external environment? What is their context?

[Based on the work of Richard Knowles, author of 'The Leadership Dance: Pathways to Extraordinary Organisational Effectiveness';]


“Life is an opportunity, benefit from it. Life is a beauty, admire it. Life is a dream, realize it. Life is a challenge, meet it. Life is a duty, complete it. Life is a game, play it. Life is a promise, fulfill it. Life is sorrow, overcome it. Life is a song, sing it. Life is a struggle, accept it. Life is a tragedy, confront it. Life is an adventure, dare it. Life is luck, make it. Life is life, fight for it!”

~ Mother Teresa;

Friday, September 4, 2009


Tangs, a major department store on Orchard Road, & also one of the oldest in Singapore, certainly knows how to catch your eyeballs.


I read that the following great advice is actually drawn from a signboard in Mother Teresa of Calcutta's Office:

People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered,


If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives,


If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies,


The good you do will be forgotten tomorrow,


Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable,


What you spent years building may be destroyed overnight,


People really need help but may attack you if you help them,


Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth,


The foregoing advisory certainly resonates with sports shoe maker Nike's very successful two-decade-old advertising slogan: 'JUST DO IT!'.

In a nut shell, it's the essence of action-mindedness, a prerequisite in today's personal as well as professional productivity.


I have found the following 10 steps to true happiness on the net, with the source attributed to BBC:

1. Plant something & nurture it;

2. Count your blessings - at least five - at the end of each day;

3. Take time to talk - have an hour-long conversation with a loved one each week;

4. Phone a friend whom you have not spoken to for a while and arrange to meet up;

5. Give yourself a treat every day & take the time to really enjoy it;

6. Have a good laugh at least once a day;

7. Get physical - exercise for half an hour three times a week;

8. Smile at and/or say hello to a stranger at least once each day;

9. Cut your TV viewing by half;

10. Spread some kindness - do a good turn for someone every day;

[Based the work of psychologist Dr Richard Stevens, psychotherapist Brett Kahr, work place specialists Jessica Pryce-Jones & Philippa Chapman, social entrepreneur Andrew Mawson OBE & Richard Reeves, whose expertise spans philosophy, public policy & economics.]


This digital snapshot of the Singaporean citizen soldier in full combat gear somehow accentuates the resiliency trait which the Singapore Government is inculcating in the population to deal with tougher economic prospects ahead.

I do concur that resiliency is what keeps us going in spite of all the odds against us. If we fall, we just have to get back up & get moving.

The following quote from Sir Winston Churchill, Britain's war-time Prime Minister & beloved stateman, continues to reverberate in my head:

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts."


While reading the new book, from the Capitaland Institute of Management & Business, entitled 'Ice Edge: Achieving the Competitive Edge with Innovation, Creativity & Entrepreneurship', I am quite intrigued by one exploration tool introduced by the authors.

It's the KOPI-O Analysis.

Actually, in Singapore, KOPI-O is a collaquail term for "coffee black, without milk or suger".

Undoubtedly, as an apt analogy, a cuppa of kopi-o can sometimes perk you up, especially in the morning, when your brain is revving up its engine. To a lot of people I know, caffeine is the right fuel to fire up all the four or six cylinders.

Nonetheless, I concur that it's a practical tool for group brainstorming, with the view of exploring & obtaining additionally new inputs from others or outsiders to help build & expand on a proposed solution.

It goes like this, as I understand & interpret, & with a little bit of adaptation from yours truly:


Tapping on the prior knowledge - what do we already know about the proposed solution? what would we like to know further? Is there anything else we don't know about? who else would know better than us?


What is the best case - or heaven - scenario about the proposed solution? where is the fun in this or what is exciting about it? can we count all the sure bets in this case & how can we exploit them to our advantage?


What is the worst case - or hell - scenario about the proposed solution? what is the regrettable or tricky part about it? what are all the odds out there, & is there anything we can do about them?


What is our gut feel or intuitive sense about the proposed solution? what other exciting possibilities &/or "hidden" opportunites we feel are really lurking in the far horizon? can I smell a rat, & what can I then do about it? where can this lead to &/or bring us to the Next Level?


What are the other crazy or weird ideas to enhance the proposed solution? How about some fantasy or out-of-this-world scenarios? how would teenaged mutant ninja turtles or Fantastic Four view this perspective? what about Mr Bean's viewpoint?

I reckon this is a really powerful exploration tool for possibilities coagulation.

Many thanks, Capitaland, for sharing.


This is the Shaw Tower on Beach Road.

In the early sixties or so, where the land on which the building now stands, was the location of one of Singapore's oldest cinemas, known as the Alhambra. Next to it, were rows of satay (meat on skewers, mainly chicken, beef or mutton) stalls, often known collectively as the 'Satay Club'.

In those days, the Alhambra was nicknamed as 'Hai Kee', a colloquial term for 'seaside', due to its proximity to the sea.

The reason why I could remember it so well is that, I had watched my first action movie in Singapore with my late 4th eldest brother, Say Ching, who had brought me there.

[Although born in Singapore, I was brought up in Johore, Malaysia as a teenager, & often returned to Singapore to visit my elder sisters & brothers. Also during the mid-sixties, I had attended the Singapore Polytechnic.]

The movie was 'One Eyed Jacks', starring the one & only Marlon Brando & Karl Malden. It was a taut story about vengeance, against the backdrop of the wild wild west, revolving around two bank robbers, who started off as bosom buddies but ended up as mortal enemies.

One (played by Marlon Brando) was betrayed, caught & locked up in jail, while the other (played by Karl Malden) escaped & later became a sheriff. As usual in such movies, & to complicate the plot, the sheriff's beautiful daughter got caught unwittingly in the middle.

[In the movie, the 'one-eyed jack' referred to one side of the sheriff's personality, the crooked side of the past, known only to his bosum buddy, who was betrayed.]

Interestingly, I read that the Alhambra was built during the early 1900's, in the days of the silent films, by the late Tan Cheng Kee, considered a pioneer of the motion picture industry in Singapore.

If I recall correctly, there was another cinema, located next to it, known as Marlborough, which featured mostly Chinese movies.

Also, the bus depot of the now-defunct Tay Koh Yat Bus Co., the precursor to today's ultra-modern SBS Transit, which ran all those old ramshackled buses in Singapore during the sixties, was located nearby too.

Probably, on hindsight, I reckon the mixture of dirty fumes from the old cranky buses might have contributed to the gastronomical wonder of the 'Satay Club' during those days.

I also remember distinctly that part of the excitement of savouring at the 'Satay Club' came from sitting on low plastic stools & eating from wooden benches, but the skewered meat & cold ketupat (rice cakes) were really yummilicious! Out of this world, according to some aficionados!

[The 'Satay Club' was closed down in the mid-70's or so after the land was acquired for the building of Shaw Tower, & then moved to the Esplanade, from where it was later relocated elsewhere, after the Elizabeth Walk area was repossessed for the development of today's Theatres by the Bay during the mid-90's or so.]

I also have very sweet memories of Shaw Tower, partly because during the late nineties, I often hung out at its high-tech cineplex cinemas, especially Jade & Prince (out of the four, which also included one called 'Alhambra') with Catherine after a hard day's work.

My office/store was then located diagonally across the main road, at the now-defunct 121 Beach Road, a short walk away form Shaw Tower.


What's the best thing worth doing in my work today?


"One things life has taught me: if you are interested, you never have to look for new interests. They come to you. When you are genuinely interested in one thing; it will always lead to something else."

~ Eleanor Roosevelt, (1884-1962), First Lady of the United States (1833-1945);

Thursday, September 3, 2009


If you have enjoyed watching the legendary Bruce Lee, whose fists shook the world during the 70's, in the movies, you would probably recall one of his last movies, 'Enter the Dragon' - the one just before the 'Game of Death'.

In the opening segment of the movie, Bruce Lee was seen working with a young martial arts student, who just didn't seem to get the essence of a particular move, when asked repeatedly to kick our hero.

Bruce instructed him to do it with "feeling" or rather "emotional content", but the student still had trouble getting beyond the technique to the spirit of the move.

So, Bruce provided him with what I thought was a very beautiful illustration:

"It's like a finger pointing away to the moon", while stretching out his arm & pointing towards the sky."

At the same time, the student began to stare at Bruce's finger, & Bruce gave a quick smack on top of the seemingly bewildered student's head, saying:

"Don't look at the finger, or you'll miss all of that heavenly glory."

[Amusingly, if you had paid attention to the movie: After the lesson, the student bowed, but Bruce smacked him again, & warned him that he should not take his eyes off his opponent, even when bowing. The student bowed one last time, but this time he kept his eyes on Bruce. Bruce said: "That's better." The student then walked away with a grin.]

What Bruce Lee had demonstrated in the movie was essentially the power of soft focus.

Soft focus comes about when we are gazing at what's around us, or what's ahead of us, in the far horizon, rather than staring at what's directly in front of us.

That's to say, one is totally aware of what's happening around oneself, immediate as well as beyond, when in soft focus.

I would even add that, with soft focus, one even has this gut-feel/intuitive sense of one's surroundings, immediate as well as beyond.

Especially as a martial artist, soft focus is critical to personal success.

In fact, legendary Japanese combat strategist of the 16th century, Miyamoto Musashi, excelled in it too.

In today's rapidly-changing world at accelerating pace & with increasing complexity, I believe that soft focus is a prerequisite for personal as well as professional success.

It's akin to wide-angle vision, as illustrated beautifully by innovation strategist Wayne Burkan in his now classic book bearing the same name, which I had already reviewed in an earlier post.

He calls it 'splatter vision'.

He explains, from the business world perspective:

"In reality, you are unfocusing your eyes, maximising your peripheral vision, sustaining a soft focus, increasing your view of the landscape with an almost 180 degree-field-of-vision, in order to avoid becoming so focused that you expect your challenge to come from a specific direction!"

I fully agree with Wayne Burkan that 'soft focus' is a useful & powerful anticipation tool, with which you can apply to constantly scan the entire business landscape in sweeping motions in order to avoid missing "unexpected gaps", which could be potential threats &/or hidden opportunities.


According to consultant Donald Mitchell, writing in his wonderful book, 'Adventures of an Optimist', here's a consolidated to-do list prepared by him to help you become a more optimistic adventurer, with the end result of improving 20 times faster:

1) Think back to when successes led you to do more of something;

2) Consider how much time more optimistic you are about those areas where you have had success than the other areas of your life;

3) Make a long list of everything you have had a burning curiosity to learn more about;

4) Write down five exciting adventures that would help you satisfy each of your most burning forms of curiosity;

5) Identify the exciting adventures you could start & finish today;

6) Take at least one exciting adventure a day;

7) After you've finished 60 exciting adventures you can do in a day or less, plan & experience a longer adventure;

8) Enjoy at least one two-day or longer adventure every month;

9) Teach someone else how to do the same sequence of steps 1 through 8;

10) Outline the key elements of an ideal adventure for you;

11) After you've completed 30 adventures that take longer than a day, pick a seemingly impossible short-term task requiring just a few days to pursue that you fervently care about & build an adventure around finding ways to do that task;

12) Repeat step 11 at least 75 times;

13) Pick an impossible-seeming long-term task (one that will take at least five years to pursue) & build an adventure around exploring how to accomplish the task;

14) Take on other impossible-seeming long-term tasks after you've successfully completed the first one;

15) Write a book telling others that you've learned about how to have more optimistic adventures;

[Donald Mitchell is also the author of 'The 2,000 Percent Solution', 'The 2,000 Percent Squared Solution', 'The Irresistable Growth Enterprise', & 'The Ultimate Competitive Advantage'. More information about him & his work can be found at this link.]


As I was sitting on the front passenger seat of the airconditioned Express Bus Service #502 on my way back to Jurong West from Orchard Road one afternoon, this delivery truck with the seemingly wierd brand names suddenly piqued my personal curiosity.

Actually, as I have found out later on, they are competing lady's fashion brands, with origins from Hongkong. Carina Lau, a famous Hongkong actress now married to Tony Leong, is apparently their ambassador as she is often featured in the retail boutiques.


"People often say that 'beauty is in the eyes of the beholder', & I say that the most liberating thing about beauty is realising that you are the beholder. This empowers us to find beauty in places
when others have not dared to look, including inside ourselves."

~ Salma Hayek, 43, Mexican-American actress [her movie credits include 'Desperado', 'Wild Wild West', 'Once Upon a Time in Mexico', & 'Bandidas' - all my personal favourites!];


How can I take my life from good to great?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


1) choose instantly, successfully: take-over/give-in/get-out/trade-off/breakthrough;

2) think tougher, dream smarter, focus beyond;

3) do more with less;

4) act flexibly, elegantly, & with endurance;

5) design tools for self-change & self-targetting;

6) fight back when necessary;

7) focus ruthlesslessly on 20% of your efforts, delivering 80% of your significant results;

~ based on the pioneering work of thinkologist Dudley Lynch;


Around noon time today, together with my wife, I went to visit my second eldest sister (a retired Chinese Language teacher, in her early seventies) & her husband (a retired banker, in his early eighties), Mr & Mrs Khoo, both still in relatively good health & staying in the Kembangan area.

I then brought them out for a simple lunch at the 'The Lemon Glass' on East Coast Road, near Siglap.

After lunch, we adjourned for some coffee & ice cream in the 'Coffee Club Express' located in a nearby building block.

Both my brother-in-law & I ordered the house coffee, while my sister & my wife had ice-cream & mango smoothie respectively.

Naturally, our casual conversation strayed into coffee drinking.

I recall from the heart-warming movie, 'The Bucket List', starring Jack Nicholson, as Edward Cole, an abrasive rich guy, & Morgan Freeman, as Carter Chambers, a quiet working class mechanic, with both playing terminally-ill patients, who made an unlikely pact & escaped from hospital to head off on an adventurous road trip with a wish list of to-do's before they die.

[Please go to this link to read my brief movie review in an earlier post.]

In the process, both of them - starting with practically nothing in common - healed each other, became bosom buddies, & ultimately found the joy in their own lives.

In the movie, Cole, being loaded, had a penchant for Civet Coffee. Carter told him about the origin of the Civet Coffee.

Today, Civet Coffee is considered one of ten most expensive coffees in the world. You can read about it at this link.

To cut the story short, & according to the movie, Civet Coffee is made of coffee berries which have been eaten by & passed out through the digestive tract of the Asian Palm Civets.

[I have read that they are wild critters similar to cats, & yet aren't really cats at all, but rather distant cousins of the mongoose. Native to South-east Asia & Indonesia, the palm civets subsist entirely on fruits - in particular the fleshy, red cherries of coffee trees, which grow abundantly in these parts of the world.]

These fussy foragers apparently pick the best & ripest coffee berries. Enzymes in their digestive tract break down the outer layer before the animals expel the beans. Workers then collect the dung from the plantation floor, wash away the bad stuff, & roast them to produce an unique beverage that aficionados might say is good to the last dropping!

More information can be found at this link.

Skeptics, like my brother-in-law, a regular coffee drinker, dismissed it all as weird & unverifiable marketing gimmick.

I took the opportunity to ask the waitress who served us about the availability of Civet Coffee in Singapore. She said it was only available at the more expensive coffee joints in Orchard Road. It would cost about S$50/- just for a tiny cup.

When my brother heard about the price, he almost fell off the sofa seat.

I ran a Internet search after returning home, & found two interesting comments:

One from Mark Hanusz & Gabriella Teggia, authors of the book, 'A Cup of Java':

"I think it's a scam."

Another from Peter Longo, owner of New York City's Porto Rico Importing Co., a coffee importer:

"It's actually mild & smooth, with a piquant after-taste... It's very good as long as you don't let your imagination get the better of you."

I understand the Civet Coffee in this part of the world is known as Kopi Luwak, from Indonesia.

Well, I am not a real coffee drinker, but I do sometimes like to have a cuppa just to perk me up.

However, whenever I am in Ho Chi Minh City, I certainly like to have a dosage of the local coffee, decanter style, at least once a day.

Nonetheless, my wife tells me that Vietnam also has its own version of the so-called Weasel Coffee. I will probably have to try that on the next visit, just for the fun of it, if it's not too expensive.


For the last 2 weeks or so, & as an avid reader, I have been busy browsing, during spare moments, in several local bookstores, namely, Harris (at Jurong Point 2), Kinokuniya (at Bugis Junction & Ngee Ann City), & Popular (at IMM) - also, partly to enjoy the offered steep discounts.

[With the steep discounts, it's almost just as cost-effective as buying from Amazon!]

I have had a pretty good harvest.

So now, I have a great time reading some of the new books, & they will keep me intellectually busy - & mentally alive! - for quite a while.

Also, I have this habit of reading several new books in one go, which sometimes is good to push my brain into perturbation mode.

Nonetheless, besides for my intellectual stimulation, I just like to fish out quickly all the new perspectives &/or ideas.

Here they are:

Local Books:

1) 'Ice Edge: Achieving the Competitive Edge with Innovation, Creativity & Entrepreneurship', by Capitaland Institute of Management & Business;

2) 'Turning Ideas into Gold: A Practical Guide for Innovators', by John Seah;

Foreign Imports:

3) 'Changeability: Why Some Companies are Ready for Change - & Others Aren't', by Michael Jarrett;

4) 'A Left-Brain Thinker on a Right-Brain Journey', by Nancy Daly;

5) 'You can be as Young as You Think: 6 Steps to Staying Younger & feeling Sharper', by Tim Drake & Chris Middleton;

6) 'Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, & Invigorates the Soul', by Stuart Brown;

7) 'Think: Before It's Too Late', by Edward de bono;

8) 'Leading in Times of Crisis', by David Dotlich & Others;

9) 'The Vigorous Mind: Cross Train Your Brain...', by Ingrid Cummings;

10) 'Mind Programming', by Eldon Taylor;

11) 'Business Agility', by Michael Hughes;

12) 'Primal Management: Unraveling Secrets of Human Nature to Drive High Performance', by Paul Herr;

13) 'Business Intelligence Success Factors', by Olivia Rud;

14) 'Curious: Discovering the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life?', by Todd Kashdan;

15) 'The Enlightened Leader: An Introduction to the Chakras of Leadership', by Peter ten Hoopen & Fons Trompenaars;

16) 'Conquering Innovation Fatigue: Overcoming the Barriers to Personal & Corporate Success', by Jeff Lindsay & Others;

17) 'Strategic DNA: Bringing Business Strategy to Life', by Lawrence Hobbs;

18) 'Strategy 360: 10 Steps to Creating a Complete Game Plan for Business & Life', by Randall Bell;

19) 'Living in More Than One World: How Peter Drucker's Wisdom can Inspire & Transform Your Life', by Bruce Rosenstein;

20) 'Know What You Don't Know: How Great Leaders Prevent Problems before They Happen', by Michael Roberto;

21) 'Liquid Thinking: Inspirational Lessons from the World's Greatest Achievers', by Damian Hughes;

22) 'Can I Have Your Attention? How to Think Fast...', by Joseph Cardillio;

I will probably be writing some reviews in this weblog. So, please stay tuned!


What are my own experiences, questions, challenges, aspirations & visions, with respect to thinking about education & learning for the 21st century?


"Never look down to test the ground before taking your next step; only he who keeps his eye fixed on the far horizon will find the right road."

~ Dag Hammarskjold, (1905-1961), Swedish diplomat who was the second Secretary General of the United Nations (1953-1961; he died in a plane crash); also the only person to have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize posthumously;


This digital snapshot was captured on Orchard Road, during one of my morning walkabouts in the area.

Frankly, I didn't know that there is another powerful canned drink - other than Red Bull - available today, nice & cold, that can supplement your energy, stamina & performance.

Just consider all the potent stuff the enterprising manufacturer has apparently put in to the small can e.g. horny goat weed?, miracle molecule?, ginkgo biloba, etc.

Nonetheless, I like the intended message: Work Hard, Play Harder!

I reckon, especially for the hapless male when entrapped in a cosy environment, under extenuating circumstances, the reality of a lady's hands all over your body, plus that cool can with the fancy label 'Naughty G', can really drive up your steam!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


The recent morning walkabouts in my neighbourhood i.e. Jurong West/Jurong East area, as well as Orchard Road/Bras Basah Road/Beach Road, which I have covered quite extensively in earlier posts, have actually given me a new world of experience.

Besides keeping my physical body in active mode, I got to see many parts - at close-up range - of the Singapore landscape which I have not noticed or realised before, even though the territorial space I have covered so far is just a minuscule.

That's to say I have much more to walk & look in Singapore.

More importantly, the planned walking endeavours, especially with a digital camera & pocket notebook, did pump a lot of fresh environmental inputs into my brain.

I have found that the numerous random stimuli did charge up the sensory pathways to my brain. They also help me to see the Singapore landscape anew.

From the visual thinking standpoint, they have given me the opportunity to think & eventually to use them as random spotlights, which I have also illustrated in my earlier posts.

Looking back at my recent forays into these new learning experiences, so to speak, I begin to think about what I have learned.

Stephen Covey, the progenitor of the '7 Habits' philosophy, has been right. There is this space between stimulus & response.

I call this space: interactive space, where we can choose to interact. More precisely, as Covey has maintained, we have the power to choose what we want to do with what's happening.

That's to say, at a deeper level, there is the quick evaluation & subsequent interpretation in the mind, drawn from our past experiences & prior knowledge, with all the encompassing goals, biases, prejudices, expectations, hopes, frustrations, etc., followed by the eventual decision making to determine the final personal choice of action to take in response.

I have learned from the neuroscientists that, when we notice an object or an person or an event in our immediate environment, one of the sensory pathways in our brains starts from the retina of our eyeballs, through the optic nerves all the way to the so-called LGN area, which comprises our sensory awareness regulator, & then to other parts of the brain, more specifically to the visual cortex & associated areas, like the V1.

Remember, our brains also operate in parallel processing mode all the time, with all the synapses firing away. So, everything actually happens at once & very fast too in the brain.

All other parts of the brain are involved too, especially the prefrontal cortex, which eventually evaluates & decides the necessary final action to take in response to the stimuli. That's to say muscle nerves have to be enacted to make the body to move accordingly.

As I see it, this massive as well as extensive neurological activity in the brain gives us ample room for the interactive space, where we have the space & the time to think & ponder.

To paraphrase Covey, between stimulus & response, we have the power of free will to choose our response.

From the strategic thinking & tactical response perspective, our personal creativeness takes place right at this interactive space.

From the enterpreneurial standpoint, pedestrian observations often contribute to business opportunity creation. I will write more about this interesting angle in a separate blogpost.

So, random stimuli is just one small part of the spectrum. It's what we choose - within the interactive space - to respond is the vital part.

Come to think of it again, the random stimuli is not simply one small part of the spectrum.

If I were to understand from one of my many "mentors", Dudley Lynch, progenitor of 'The Strategy of the Dolphin' approach to thinking strategically, random stimuli is dependent on what he calls our aperture opening.

As we all know, using the camera analogy, the larger the aperture opening, the more light reaches the image sensor in a given period of time.

In a camera, the aperture controls light & depth of field i.e. the depth in a scene from foreground to background that will be sharp in a snapshot. The smaller the aperture we use, the greater the area of a scene that will be sharp.

Anyway, I will have to cover this aperture thing as it applies metaphorically to personal effectiveness in a separate blogpost.

To sum up this blogpost, in life, choose your response wise-heartedly.


This creative shopfront display of the well-known brand watch from Europe on Orchard Road piqued my curiosity during a recent morning walkabout.

The use of a large mirror generally reflects the illusion of larger space, as well as the field of depth. In that respect, & at least for me, the concept of space & time is depicted beautifully in this digital snapshot.


This is a recent digital snapshot of the frontage of the Orchard Towers on Orchard Road, captured by me during a morning walkabout. It's a office/retail shopping block.

In the day, it's just like any other office/retail shopping block, busy with office workers & itinerant shoppers, but once night comes, it's a hotbed of bustling activity, but of the nefarious noctural kind, as featured in a recent issue of the 'Straits Times' newspaper.

To me, somehow the 'Naughty Girl' signboard on the frontage says it all.

[For more information, please proceed to this link & look out for 'Orchard Towers Part I' & 'Orchard Towers Singapore Update 7/2009'.

If you are a visitor looking to what Singapore has to offer or a business traveler you will find the information on the site helpful & mostly useful.]


What if my brain had virtually unlimited capacity to grow, to develop & to master multiple domains of knowledge & skills?

What if I had a significant role in this process by choosing enriched environmental input to my brain?

What if my brain possessed the capacity to regenerate neurons, reverse disease, & prevent destructive processes?


"When you look at yourself from an universal standpoint, something inside always reminds or informs you that there are bigger & better things to worry about."

~ Albert Einstein (1879-1955); physicist;

Monday, August 31, 2009


This is a digital snapshot of the Koek Road/Orchard Road vicinity. Particularly for me, it brings back very sweet memories of my first date.

In the late sixties, there was this narrow Koek Lane, located just after the intersection of main street Orchard Road with Koek Road, where antiquated shop houses & bustling make-shift hawker stalls co-exist in harmony.

I had my first date with Catherine, who later became my beloved & late first wife. We had a bowl of noodles & a cold drink each in one of the busy coffee shops.

We were then both about 19 years old. She was a stenographer, & I was a rookie mechanical draftsman, but studying part-time/day-release at the Singapore Polytechnic.

In retrospect, our first date sounded more like an interrogation session for me. Catherine was very meticulous in finding out more about me, my family, my upbringing, my education, my work & my hobbies.

To be frank, that was what actually attracted me to Catherine subsequently, besides being pretty, cute, dainty, & very soft-spoken. Also, she was always impeccably dressed.

It was around 1.00 pm, because we were getting ready to go for an afternoon show at the old Orchard Cinema, where the Orchard Cineleisure stands today. It was a relatively short walk from Koek Lane.

How can I forget the name of the movie we had watched together on our first date? The movie was 'The Mercenaries', starring Rod Taylor, Jim Brown & the beautiful Yvette Mimieux.

A quick one: The movie centred on a band of mercenaries running across deadly terrain, somewhere in Congo, Africa, & battling rival armies, to rescue US$25 million in uncut diamonds.

After the movie, we took a public bus - a really ramshackled one, probably a Bedford, also hot & humid, not like today's air-conditioned Volvo or Scania under SBS Transit - to send her back to Chinatown, where she stayed with her parents.

I wasn't driving then. I didn't have a driving license at all, & more realistically, neither could I afford a car on a draftsman's salary of S$220 per month.

That first unforgettable date was the beginning of a very long personal relationship with Catherine, 35 years to be exact, & we were happily married for 18 years, until she passed away suddenly at the University Teaching Hospital on 31st December 2001.

Koek Lane may have disappeared by design from today's topographical landscape of Singapore, but the fondest memories of Catherine will always remain in my heart.

[Readers can visit this link to read about the brisk redevelopment of Orchard Road all the way from the early 1830's right up to today. For a little bit of history about Orchard Road, try this link.

Today, Orchard Road is a really swanky place for shoppers & tourists alike. For a quick overview of the entire shopping district, stretching some 2.5 km, please go to this link.]


I hold the view that, as an active Third Ager, being proactive is a vital step on your personal journey toward successful aging.

For me, "successful aging" hinges on five key pillars of strengths, essentially drawing on the great work of brain health consultant Dr Paul Nussbaum, as follows:

1) keeping your environment mentally stimulating, & more importantly, your mind intellectually alive;

2) keeping your body physically active;

3) keeping your spirit mindfully aware of what's going on & of what makes us human;

4) keeping your socialisation process active & alive, & all your relationships - spouse, relatives, friends, neighbours, associates - emotionally engaging;

5) eating in moderation, preferably with a well-balanced diet of lean meat, fish, fresh vegetables, fresh fruits & whole-meal grains; also, not forgeting fresh air & sunshine!;

I also realise that "being proactive" may mean a lot of different things to different people, & so the following elaboration is my personal take on this critical strategy:

- the first thing about "being proactive" is assuming personal accountability for the direction to take & the things to actually do;

- next, taking personal initiative in setting the direction in action, with all the necessary routines to be executed to meet focused targets;

- next, tapping on your personal creativeness as well as resourcefulness to constantly come up - & play, explore & experiment - with new ideas or approaches to help get going in the direction you have set;

- next, making informed choices to staying on course, & also making course changes where appropriate & necessary;

- next, garnering continuing support from family members as well as like-minded friends, to help expedite your planned actions & disciplined routines;

- next, maintaining relentless persistence, determination & perseverance to deal with temporary setbacks (physical, health, mental, financial, environment, etc.) & also to go the extra mile where necessary, in order to make your personal journey a successful as well as rewarding one;

- next, staying focused on your long term vision, but always remaining flexible in your approach;

Suffice to say, at least from my perspective, "successful aging" boils down to what you do, consistently & massively if necessary, to help you negotiate from Third Age to Fourth Age.

Bon Voyage!


"It is not by accident that the happiest people are those who make a conscious effort to live useful lives. Their happiness, of course, is not a shallow exhilaration where life is one continuous intoxicating party. Rather, their happiness is a deep sense of inner peace that comes when they believe their lives have meaning and that they are making a difference for good in the world."
~ Ernest Fitzgerald, (1925-2001), American Bishop of the United Methodist Church;

Sunday, August 30, 2009


This spectacles boutique located in the Bugis Junction shopping mall certainly has a catchy trade name.

As I write this blogpost, I just can't help associating 'eyeplay' with the following apt quotes, which accentuate the significance of perceptual sensitivity to the world around us:

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."

~ Marcel Proust, (1871-1922), French novelist;

"You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus."

~ Mark Twain (1835-1910), 'A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court';

"Sometimes you can't see yourself clearly until you see yourself through the eyes of others."

~ Ellen DeGeneres, 51, award-winning American stand-up comedienne, television hostess & actress;

"Originality is simply a pair of fresh eyes."

~ Thomas Wentworth Higginson, (1823-1911), an American minister during the Civil War:

"Perception is strong and sight weak. In strategy it is important to see distant things as if they were close and to take a distanced view of close things."

~ Miyamoto Musashi, legendary Japanese combat strategist from the 16th century;

"If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thru' chinks of his cavern."

~ William Blake, (1757-1827), English poet;

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye."

~ Miss Piggy of Jim Henson's 'The Muppets' fame;

In a nut shell, what I am driving at is that, 'eyeplay' or more explicitly, enhancing perceptual sensivity is the hallmark of personal creativeness & effectiveness.


"Creativity often consists merely turning up what is already there. Did you know that right and left shoes were thought up only a little more than a century ago?"

~ Bernice Fitz-Gibbon, (1894–1982), an American advertising executive & a pioneer in retail advertising;


Last night, I bought for myself a new toy, Samsung's latest OMNIAII I8000 Smart Phone, from my neighbourhood SingTel retailer.

I am really excited about it, as I am going to go through a new learning curve. The brain relishes a novel experience.

My old phone is a Nokia N93.

Looks like I am also going to have a great time playing with it for a while.

For more pictures, product review & other information, please proceed to this link.

I also bought for my wife one new toy too, Nokia's latest 6700 Classic, to replace her recently damaged Samsung phone.

For more pictures, product review & other information, please proceed to this link.

The bundled price for the whole package came up to S$686.00, with a 2-year contract, plus enhanced savings for my existing home line & Broadband facility from SingTel/SingNet.