Thursday, December 30, 2010


Here's the link to many interesting resources about brain fitness, from SharpBrains, a market research & publishing firm tracking the research & marketplace for brain fitness & cognitive health.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010




"A committed decision to reach a predetermined specific goal, combined with burning desire, followed by immediate, massive action repeated consistently for as long as it takes until your goal is reached."

~ Tom Venuto, bodybuilder, fitness coach, & author of 'Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle', also co-author of 'Fit Over 40', in response to "the one thing most needed to change a person's lifestyle... ", in an interview (2006);

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Imagine you have enough money that you have everything that you ever wanted and you can buy whatever you want. Then what will you do ?

~ from billionaire investor Warren Buffet;


“Strategy is about folding the future into the present... There are no generic strategies – executives are constantly searching for new sources of competitive advantage. Strategies have to be unique. They have to invent new rules and new games. It’s all about discovering and creating wealth... ”

~ C K Prahalad; often rated by many as one of the most influential thinkers on management of the 20th century; his output of thought provoking written material is prolific, from books to articles in the Harvard Business Review;

Friday, December 24, 2010


[Source of Picture: 'REAL SIMPLE: life made easier, every day' weblog]


Here's the link to an interesting, though belated, article, in the form of a .pdf document entitled, 'Critical Thinking: Why Is It So Hard to Teach?'. Readers can download the pdf document.

In this article originally published in 'American Educator', cognitive psychologist Daniel Willingham at the University of Virginia, deconstructs “critical thinking skills” – which everyone seems to agree that students should learn better in school – and gives some helpful advice on how we should go about teaching those skills.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


What three things are you going to pack in your leadership tackle box to help you in taking a leading role next year?

What three things are you not going to pack that will help lighten the load and not interfere with you being a successful leader next year?

What are three changes you are going to lead the charge on and how are you going to do it?

What are three changes you need to sustain in order to reach your vision of the future?

How do you challenge, empower and mentor others in your world to become the leaders you need to help you on your journey?

[Source: 'The Fish Wrapper Weekly Edition'/Catch Your Limit Consulting]

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


"No sensible science-fiction writer tries to predict anything... Neither do the smartest futurologists. What those people do is try to imagine every important thing that may happen (so as to do in the present things which may encourage the good ones and forestall the bad) and that's what SF writers do in their daily toil..."

~ Frederick Pohl, whose work includes the classic 'The Space Merchants' (written with Cyril M. Kornbluth), 'MAN PLUS', and most recently 'The Last Theorem', co-authored with the late Arthur C. Clarke;

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


• What does the future hold for me and what should I do about it?

• How do I ensure that I get the type of personal &/or professional future I want?

• Where should I be looking to maximise my opportunities and minimise my risks?

• How can I build my personal capacity for creativity and innovation to ensure continued success?

• Is it possible to get a quantum jump on my major competitors?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


“In the pursuit of tomorrow, we often run into scheduling potholes — those waiting periods that force us to linger in the present tense. Stuck in the “now” (for how long, we don’t know), we must wait patiently for the next available ride into the future. It is a chance to take a breather. But no. Far from enjoying the lull, we feel frustrated, impatient, jittery. We look at our watches and are annoyed to find them still ticking. One of our worst fears is to be left behind as the world rushes toward its destiny.

“We firmly believe that time flows in a continuous stream, twenty-four hours a day, rain or shine. But, so far, no scientist or philosopher has been able to prove without a doubt that time goes in one direction, from left to right, from the past into the future. Sure, time can be measured, but it can be plotted only in relation to a number of other phenomena, like the position of the sun or the ticking of the energy inside atoms. In and of itself, time doesn’t seem to exist. No wonder we feel foolish when we are made to wait: We are trapped in an invisible cobweb of our own making. . .

“Waiting is not a prelude to the future. If anything, it is a prelude to the past. The precious minutes, hours, or days we invest anticipating an event—the return of a friend, the birth of a child, the purchase or a house, or the last chapter of a book—make everything more memorable. Take the time to wait: In doing so, you are manufacturing the stuff of your souvenirs. Dawdle in the present tense. Give your future a past to remember.”

[Source: 'The Art of Doing Nothing', by Veronique Vienne;]

Sunday, December 12, 2010


"... As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters..."

~ J.K. Rowling, author of the best-selling Harry Potter book series, delivering her Commencement Address, “The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination,” at the Annual Meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association in 2008;


1. What do you want most in life?

2. What are the most important things you’ve accomplished so far?

3. If you could look back in 20 years time, what would you have accomplished?

4. Within the next 10 years, what would you liked to have achieved?

5. Within the next 5 years, what would you liked to have achieved?

6. Ignoring all your commitments, what do you REALLY want out of life?

7. In the next six months, what steps are you going to take toward your goals?

Saturday, December 11, 2010


When did I do my worst thinking today?

When did I do my best thinking?

What did I actually think about today?

Did I figure out anything?

Did I allow any negative thinking to frustrate me unnecessarily?

If I had to repeat today, what would I do differently? Why?

Did I do anything today to further my long-term goals?

Did I do what I set out to do? Why or Why not?

Did I act in accordance with my own expressed values?

If I were to spend every day this way for 10 years, would I, at the end, have accomplished something worthy of at that time?

[Source: 'Critical Thinking', by Richard Paul & Linda Elder]

Friday, December 10, 2010


"Success is a causable event."

~ Ted Ciuba, author of 'The New Think & Grow Rich';


What do I focus my attention on?

Is it possible I am missing seeing some things because I am focusing my attention in other directions?

What can I do, each and every day, to focus a little bit of my attention in a different direction, thus expanding the range of my vision?

Monday, December 6, 2010


"Futuristic leaders ACHIEVE results because they truly BELIEVE a different future is possible. They CHANGE their own and their organiza­tion's behavior, habits, and culture, in order to obtain their collective DREAM.

Futuristic leaders fully EXPECT to reach their goal -- and also fully "expect the unexpected" along the way -- because they unswervingly FOCUS on that goal.

Aware that reaching the future requires that they and their organizations GROW -- both mentally and spiritually -- futuristic leaders HEAR things: they listen intently for clues and pieces of vital information that will guide them in that growth.

Futuristic leaders vividly IMAGINE what the future will be like, what needs to change to get there, and how the charted course might need to vary along the route.

They JUSTIFY their mission, not only based on profitable returns, but in the proper ethics and values that will bring it to fruition.

Futuristic leaders KNOW both what they know and what they don't know, and what more they and their teams will still need to know in the future. They const­antly LEARN, day by day, decision by decision, as they move forward.

Futuristic leaders MOTIVATE themselves, and inspire those around them to do the same, to adventurously NAVIGATE previously uncharted territory. They ORGANIZE and optimize every available capacity and resource to help them PERSEVERE until every part of the mission is accomplished.

Futuristic leaders always QUESTION their advisors, their information, and themselves. Then they can best RESPOND to challenges and opport­unities in ways that STRATEGIZE the most responsible and best possible future outcomes.

Futuristic leaders TEACH everything they know to the highest-qualified teams of individuals. They UPLIFT them to VISUALIZE and drive towards their collective future.

As well, in today's "webolutionary" Internet Age, futuristic leaders encourage their teams to literally WEBIFY their organizations into value-creating networks, or "biznets."

Futuristic leaders also XEROGRAPH themselves: they "clone" or duplicate their own abilities and processes in others, to ensure ongoing growth and continuity through yet another generation of futuristic leaders.

Finally, futuristic leaders repeatedly YIELD consistent and spectacular results, and ZOOM their organizations speedily to ever-succeeding peaks of success."

~ Dr Frank Feather, 'Futuristic Leadership A-Z';

[What I have liked most about the foregoing wonderful book was the author's ingenuity of using the whole alphabet system to illustrate twenty six key action steps to help one prepare for the future. 'To prepare' means to 'see' & 'map' the future.

The author also wrote the earlier fascinating book during the late eighties, entitled 'G-Forces: The 35 Global Forces Restructuring Our Future'..]


Paul Plsek, who wrote 'Creativity, Innovation & Quality', offers his synthesis model for the creative problem solving process, which he has designated as 'Directed Creativity'.

It comprises four phases:

1) Preparation:

2) Imagination:

3) Development:

4) Action:

This is in turn broken down into the follow steps, as he describes it:

"We live everyday in the same world as everyone else, but creative thinking begins with careful observation of that world coupled with thoughtful analysis of how things work and fail. These mental processes create a store of concepts in our memories. Using this store, we generate novel ideas to meet specific needs by actively searching for associations among concepts. Seeking the balance between satisficing and premature judgment, we then harvest and further enhance our ideas before we subject them to a final, practical evaluation. But, it is not enough just to have creative thoughts; ideas have no value until we put in the work to implement them. Every new idea that is put into practice (that is, every innovation) changes the world we live in, which re-starts the cycle of observation and analysis."

Sunday, December 5, 2010


"If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantment of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength."

~ Rachel Carson, biologist & author; widely recognised as patron saint of the modern environmental movement;

Friday, December 3, 2010


"Always think of something new; this helps you forget your last rotten idea."

~ Seth Frankel;

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


If it weren’t for time, money or circumstances, how would you choose to spend your life?

What do you enjoy doing most that you’re not doing now?

What special talents, skills and knowledge do you have that you’re not fully employing?

What is your core passion that has little to do with your financial pension?

[Source: Denis Waitley Newsletter]

Friday, November 26, 2010


"Learning how to approach and solve problems, and accepting that there is often more than one answer to a question or more than one way of dealing with it is a key part of... education and ... The ability to determine the essence of a problem, and indeed to see that there is a problem, is a vital ingredient in learning."

~ Andrew Littlejohn, 'From the "A to Z of Methodology';

Thursday, November 25, 2010


"A common belief is that knowledge is power. It's not. Knowledge is ubiquitous in the Internet Age and thus grants no special privileges, no unique power. Certainly we need to have knowledge and stay current. But the real power comes from what we do with knowledge. In other words, in the 21st century power comes from our ability to think... "

~ Michael Durr, author of 'My Brain, My Future';

Monday, November 22, 2010


"If you have a vision and you find that someone doesn't share that vision, you either change the vision or change the people you share it with. We learn and grow one goal at a time. But to set meaningful goals, we need imaginative insight or vision."

~ Dr. Roberta Bondar, the world’s first astronanut-neurologist in space; also, globally recognized for her pioneering contribution to space medicine;

Saturday, November 20, 2010


"... Many problems aren't problems at all - only opportunities for unseen solutions waiting to be formed!"

~ Michael McMillan;

Friday, November 19, 2010


Here's a link to a fascinating audit of your brainpower from creativity guru Michael Hewitt-Gleeson's School of Thinking.

For the fun of it, just give it a go!


“We seem to have been living for a long time on the assumption that we can safely deal with parts, leaving the whole to take care of itself. But now the news from everywhere is that we have to begin gathering up the scattered pieces, figuring out where they belong, and putting them back together. For the parts can be reconciled to one another only within the pattern of the whole thing to which they belong.”

~ poet Wendell Berry, 'The Way of Ignorance & Other Essays';

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


"The worthwhile problems are the ones you can really solve or help solve, the ones you can really contribute something to... No problem is too small or too trivial if we can really do something about it."

~ physicist & Nobel laureate Richard Feynman;

Sunday, November 7, 2010


"Spend each day trying to be a little wiser than you were when you woke up. Discharge your duties faithfully and well. Step by step you get ahead, but not necessarily in fast spurts. But you build discipline by preparing for fast spurts. Slug it out one inch at a time, day by day. At the end of the day - if you live long enough - most people get what they deserve."

~ billionaire investor Charles Munger; also, one & only long time partner of another billionaire investor Warren Buffet, at Berkshire Harthaway;

Friday, November 5, 2010


A social buddy of mine has emailed me the following interesting & yet useful "story", pertaining to the pursuit of happiness, believed to have been written by KHUSHWANT SINGH:

"Having lived a reasonably contented life, I was musing over what a person should strive for to achieve happiness.

I drew up a list of a few essentials which I put forward for the readers' appraisal.

1. First and foremost is GOOD HEALTH.

If you do not enjoy good health you can never be happy. Any ailment, however trivial, will deduct from your happiness.


It need not run into crores but should be enough to provide for creature comforts and something to spare for recreation, like eating out, going to the pictures, travelling or going on holidays on the hills or by the sea.

Shortage of money can be only demoralizing. Living on credit or borrowing is demeaning and lowers one in one's own eyes.


Rented premises can never give you the snug feeling of a nest which is yours for keeps that a home provides: if it has a garden space, all the better.

Plant your own trees and flowers, see them grow and blossom, cultivate a sense of kinship with them.

4. Fourth, AN UNDERSTANDING COMPANION, be it your spouse or a friend.

If there are too many misunderstandings, they will rob you of your peace of mind. It is better to be divorced than to bicker all the time.

5. Fifth, LACK OF ENVY towards those who have done better than you in life; risen higher, made more money, or earned more fame.

Envy can be very corroding; avoid comparing yourself with others.

6. Sixth, DO NOT ALLOW OTHER PEOPLE to descend on you for gup-shup.

By the time you get rid of them, you will feel exhausted and poisoned by their gossip-mongering.

7. Seventh, CULTIVATE SOME HOBBIES which can bring you a sense of fulfilment, such as gardening, reading, writing, painting, playing or listening to music.

Going to clubs or parties to get free drinks or to meet celebrities is criminal waste of time.

8. Eighth, every morning and evening, devote 15 minutes to INTROSPECTION.

In the morning, 10 minutes should be spent on stilling the mind and then five in listing things you have to do that day. In the evening, five minutes to still the mind again, and ten to go over what you had undertaken to do.

RICHNESS is not Earning More, Spending More Or Saving More, but ...


Thursday, November 4, 2010


This is an extract from the book, 'Paradigm Matrix and Its Effects on Future Prosperity & Human Events', by coach Alan Walter, & also, founder of Knowledgism: Advanced Coaching & Leadership Centre:

Success is an inner state. Public acclaim does little to make you feel good if you, yourself, cannot acknowledge that a job has been well done.

In seeking success, being successful, and observing the success of others I observed a hidden quality common to many great successes: craftsmanship.


n. 1. Skill or ability in something, proficiency; expertise.

2. The art of functioning as a craftsman.


n. A master of a body of knowledge and skills to the degree that he produces, consistently, products of the highest quality.

To develop consistency of success, it is vital that one practice craftsmanship, whether it be in music, art, sports, writing, or business. To sustain success, one must master all aspects of one's chosen field.


Only you know the true quality of your existence; only you are your true judge.

· When you lie, you know you lied.
· When you do a poor job, you know it.
· When you fail to look up the words you don't understand, you know it.
· When you waste time, you must pay the price.
· When you pretend to do, or know, you cannot hide that pretense from yourself.
· When you break a promise and explain and justify your excuses, you know it.
· When you research and study an area poorly, you know.
· When money, bangles, baubles, and beads seduce you, you know.
· When you do a good job, you know.
· When you master a skill, you know.
· When you work on a liability until it's conquered, you know.
· When you are honest, you know it.

A basic law of success, then is: BE TRUE TO YOURSELF.


“The past went that-a-way. When faced with a totally new situation, we tend to always to attach ourselves to the objects, to the flavor of the most recent past. We look at the present through a rear-view mirror. We march backwards into the future.“

~ Marshall McLuhan;

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


'Innovation's Missing Link: The Secret to Effortlessly Overcoming Organizational Stagnation'
by Al Judge

This is one of the easiest & simplest - & yet still packed with pragmatic battle-proven ideas - books to read about effective 'innovation practices'.

It's also straight-shooting from the author, a 23-year veteran from Black & Decker's New Product Concepts Group, prior to his retirement in 2001, plus subsequent management experience with the PDMA outfit.

If I were to sum up the book, it's all about changing one's mindset, especially from the CEO's perspective, about organisational innovation, failing which, organisational stagnation will fall in place.

In fact, the author had done a superb service to readers [who have no time to read] by consolidating all his entire thoughts outlined in the book on page 15 to 18, under '40 Thoughts on Innovation'.

However, I would recommend reading the book in order to savour the author's action ideas from each chapter, & to learn from other companies' experiences as outlined in their case studies.

Other than the clear treatment on human nature, which is a critical component in the overall innovation process, what I generally like about the book is its exposition of the harsh reality of the innovation landscape, which the author has summed up as follows, especially the first one:

- the nature of organisations is to resist & oppose change;

- innovation cannot thrive with active support from senior management as well as [my words] from everyone in the organisation;

- for optimum results, innovation teams need a special breed of manager [my recommendation: read 'Innovation Leaders: How Senior Executives Stimulate, Steer & Sustain Innovation', by Jean-Philippe Deschamps];

I fully concur with the author:

"It takes a lot of guts & a great deal of patience to foster a creative environment."

I also have one interesting thought from the author:

"Few people can efficiently create something from nothing, but almost anyone can critique & improve an existing concept."

On the whole, the author's writing is clear, succinct & concise, which makes reading a breeze!


"Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It's not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it's when you've had everything to do, and you've done it."

~ Margaret Thatcher; Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990, & Leader of the Conservative Party from 1975 to 1990 - the only woman to have held either post;

ULTIMATE SUCCESS FORMULA, according to coach Alan Walter

The following are the attributes of a power player... also needed for success in life & work:

1. Applies intelligence.

2. Pursues only an honest, worthy, big dream.

3. Has the knowledge, discipline, and duplication to maintain and expand his worthy dreams and those of others.

4 Has the ability to take, occupy and maintain a position and take charge.

5. Is a master communicator and uses his communication abilities to direct the flow of force particles in a positive manner.

6. Has abundant, upscale communication channels and contacts.

7. Delivers what he promises.

8. Duplicates, appreciates and acknowledges other's viewpoints, skills, dreams,
visions, plans, and wants.

9. Is honest. He trusts and respects himself and creates trust and respect in others.

10. Is a big producer.

11. Those connected to him and his area expand spiritually. They have bigger dreams, visions, plans, skills, and actions, are more prosperous and successful, and are healthier and happier.

12. He operates in a win-win manner.

[Source: Knowledgism - the corporate website of Alan Walter, a coach of champions & his Advanced Coaching & Leadership Center; it's a goldmine of information nuggets, especially for those who aspire to become knowledgists - a knowledgist is one who will always be the best he can be;]

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Wednesday, October 27, 2010


A blog reader of mine, Information Technology Services Manager Dusko Galic, has recently brought my personal attention to some interesting insights from the book, 'Discover Your Inner Economist', by professor of economics Tyler Cowen.

The insights, as follows, pertain to three principles from the professor for distingusihing good economics from bad economics, so to speak.

1) The Post Card Test:

A good economic argument should be possible to be written on a moderately-sized post card.

2) The Grandma Test:

Most economic arguments ought to be intelligible to your grandma.

3) The Aha Principle:

If the basic concepts are presented well, economics should make sense.

I particularly like the first one, more from a non-economic application perspective.

If you have a great idea & you have thought it through thoroughly, then you should be able to express it within the confines of a post card in order to sell your idea.

It's like doing the 'Elevator Speech' to grab a potential investor's quick attention.

As for the Grandma Test, I have often used a slight variation to explain to my students in a training workshop about the acid test for understanding a complex subject matter.

If you can explain it to your grandma, & she can understand at least the rudimentary aspects of it, then, one can safely say you have truly understood your subject matter.

Thanks, Dusko, for sharing!

Monday, October 25, 2010


I am very intrigued by the listing of specific requirements pertaining to what are essentially "soft skills" with regard to a recent recruitment ad for a 'Allocations Manager' on the Internet, in addition to the full listing of functional responsibilities & other educational & work specifications:


Problem Solving:

- Uses rigorous logic and methods to solve difficult problems with effective solutions;
- probes all fruitful sources for answers;
- can see hidden problems;
- is excellent at honest analysis;
- looks beyond the obvious and doesn't stop at the first answers.

Strategic Agility:

- Sees ahead clearly;
- can anticipate future consequences and trends accurately;
- has broad knowledge and perspective;
- is future oriented;
- can articulately paint credible pictures and visions of possibilities and likelihoods;
- can create competitive and breakthrough strategies and plans.

In other words, a university education of today, which often & still focuses on "hard skills", is no guarantee for job success, or rather getting a job in the marketplace.

One has to develop "soft skills".

I sincerely hope that our educators are watching this trend & doing something about it to prepare our future generations.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


What are my values?

Are my values in alignment with the four core human drives (i.e. to acquire, bond, learn, and defend)?

Are our values as strong as our profits?

Is there a gap between our stated values and or operating values?

What is our organization's culture?

Are my coworkers aware of the importance of their work?

How true are the stories we tell?

Are job performance measures aligned with our organization's goals?

How can we outrun the competition?

Why is it my job to explore the unexplored?

How would I feel if this issue made the front page of the newspaper?

Am I decision maker or a goal achiever?

Am I leading into the future or managing the present?

What is my guiding question?

Is our organization asking the right question?

Who will be my successor?

How do I hire someone who will excel in our organization's culture?

[Source: 'Just Ask Leadership: Why Great Managers Always Ask the Right Questions', by Gary Cohen;]

Friday, October 22, 2010


What excites me?

Why do I get up in the morning?

If time & money were no object, & I had no pressing responsibilities, how would I like to spend all my days?

What bothers me?

What problems & challenges would I like to tackle?

There are many kinds of problems in the world... which one(s) are the ones that I am most troubled by?

What I would do if I knew I couldn't fail?

Maybe a better question is...

What's truly worth doing today... tomorrow, whether I fail or succeed?

Thursday, October 21, 2010


"An analysis of the history of technology shows that technological change is exponential, contrary to the common-sense "intuitive linear" view. So we won't experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century - it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today's rate).

The "returns," such as chip speed and cost-effectiveness, also increase exponentially. There's even exponential growth in the rate of exponential growth.

Within a few decades, machine intelligence will surpass human intelligence, leading to The Singularity - technological change so rapid and profound it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history.

The implications include the merger of biological and nonbiological intelligence, immortal software-based humans, and ultra-high levels of intelligence that expand outward in the universe at the speed of light."

~ 'The Law of Accelerating Returns', by futurist/scientist Ray Kurzweil;

[Readers can pop into this link to read the author's many interesting as well as intriguing perspectives about today's accelerating changes.]

Monday, October 4, 2010


I have stumbled upon the following fascinating article, rather belatedly, which offers an interesting lesson about tackling life's curves, so to speak.

It's 'The Law of the Garbage Truck', by television host David Pollay, in which he related an incident on his taxi ride to Grand Central Station in New York City. Here's the link.

What continues to strike me most is the New York City taxi driver's insightful response, which sums up the crux of the lesson:

"Many people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of disappointment. As their garbage piles up, they look for a place to dump it. And if you let them, they’ll dump it on you.

So when someone wants to dump on you, don’t take it personally. Just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on. Believe me. You’ll be happier."

This advisory is somewhat akin to what I had learned many years ago from Kenneth Blanchard's brilliant writings, especially 'The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey'.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


"Risk is what separates life's winners from losers - the survivors from the thrivers!

Success all comes down to a series of gambles: your ability to make positive choices at pivotal moments & to thrive on challenge & high levels of stress.

Sending out a resume; going on a job interview; asking that stranger on a date; the courage to pick up the phone & make a call that could change your life for the better - all of life's big decisions & defining moments require a talent for (& a willingness to) risk."

~ Wayne Allyn Root, founder & CEO of GWIN Inc., which is America's only publicly traded sports handicapping company; (GWIN specializes in developing & marketing sports handicapping advice & information via television); also, the author of 'The Zen of Gambling: Lessons from the World's Greatest Gambler';

Thursday, September 30, 2010


I have spotted the following interesting review of the book, 'HOW WE READ: Passion for Knowledge Disciplined by Subtle Turns of Strategies & Tactics', by Rong Fan.

Here's a quick summary of the key points from the perspective of the Top 500 Amazon book reviewer, Irfan A Alvi:

1. Effective reading requires technique and skill, not just passion.

2. Let your goals and interests guide your reading, and so don't feel obligated to read non-fiction books cover to cover. Learn to map the overall structure of a book and then skim or read in depth as appropriate (including reading chapters in sequence when necessary).

3. Since time is limited, choose books very carefully. Books of intermediate size, written by a single expert author, are often best. Use resources like Amazon to help find suitable books (since you're reading this review, you already know that).

4. Be flexible and customize your reading approach for each subject and each book, factoring in the prior knowledge you're starting with.

5. Read multiple books on each subject, to get the benefit of different perspectives, explanations, and emphases.

6. Mastering the general principles of a subject is more important than remembering details, so read accordingly. For this purpose, read introductory chapters and paragraphs very carefully.

7. Organize your reading according to a plan and a daily schedule, with the quiet early morning hours often being the best time to read. Be consistent and patient with your reading, and you may be surprised by how much you learn over the course of months and years.

8. When learning a new subject, consider starting with intense reading for several weeks in order to get your bearings.

9. Take regular breaks during your reading sessions, even if you'd rather push on. Allow longer reading sessions for more complex topics.

10. Arrange your reading environment (seating, lighting, quiet, etc.) to make it comfortable and effective.

11. Don't read so much that you don't allow time to think and wind up stifling your creativity.

12. Don't bother with speed-reading. Read at the proper pace to learn well, with slower usually being better.

13. Be diligent about learning the core specialized vocabulary of a subject, keeping a dictionary close at hand for that purpose.

14. Highlight books, but do it selectively, taking care not to overdo or underdo it, and keeping in mind that the purpose is to aid both learning and review.

15. Take notes, especially for difficult subjects, but aim to capture only the essential ideas, not all the details. Preferably take notes in the book itself, so that the notes stay with the book.

16. Don't be afraid of numbers. Use "tricks" to help remember them.

17. Do practice questions to test your knowledge and gain experience in applying it.

18. Undertake projects in order to integrate and apply your knowledge.

19. Do regular reviews in order to renew your memory and deepen your understanding. To keep things fresh, consider reviewing using different resources than the ones you initially learned from.

20. To enhance your learning, write book summaries and critiques (which is basically what I'm doing now for this book, and for just that purpose).

21. Recognize that reading must be balanced with hands-on experience. Reading informs experience so that more is gained from experience, but reading is never a substitute for experience. For that matter, balance reading and experience with other aspects of your life, including rest and recreation. In other words, don't become a bookworm.

[To read the original review in its entirety, please go to this link.]


I have spotted the following interesting review of the book, 'Secrets of a Buccaneer-Scholar: How Self-Education & the Pursuit of Passion Can Lead to a Lifetime of Success', by James Marcus Bach.

Here's a quick summary of most of the key "secrets" from the book by Top 500 Amazon book reviewer, Irfan A. Alvi:

a. View yourself as an evolving work in progress which you're responsible for creating (Nietzsche had the same idea).

b. Education must be lifelong and customized for your needs and desires, so learn to educate yourself by scouting and using the vast array of resources at your disposal (books, the Web, peers, etc.).

c. Work on "authentic problems" which engage you, rather than artificial problems which have no significance for you.

d. To sustain passion for learning, go with the flow of what engages your curiosity, is fun, and fits the natural rhythms of your mind. In other words, engage in "low-pressure learning."

e. When possible and helpful, let yourself procrastinate so that your creative subconscious mind can help you solve problems.

f. Allocate some "disposable time" to meander and try things (or do nothing) rather than always following a rigorous schedule.

g. To increase overall productivity, work on multiple projects in parallel.

h. Try alternating between complementary learning activities, rather than getting stuck with just one approach.

i. Learn by experimenting, contrasting ideas with each other, constructing stories, and engaging in various forms of "play."

j. Tame complex problems by employing systems thinking, using models and heuristics, and building understanding and expertise step by step.

k. Use your area(s) of expertise as a gateway to learn things relevant to many other areas.

l. Don't worry about forgetting things. Forgetting clears up mental clutter, and you can always re-learn what you forget.

m. Recognize that much learning is a side effect of what you do, so try to learn something from every situation and experience in your life, including your failures.

n. Don't let institutions hold you back, and be prepared to challenge authority and the status quo when necessary. Believe in yourself, don't judge yourself too harshly, and don't be intimidated.

o. Aim to succeed based on the quality of your work and the resulting reputation you build, not diplomas, degrees, and other paper credentials.

p. Rather than aiming to do what's popular as a career, be willing to carve out your own unique niche, since you only need enough work to support one person (assuming that you don't necessarily want to build a large business).

q. Recognize that charting your own course requires willingness to face major challenges and risks.

r. Learn to separate aspirations and expectations, keeping expectations well below aspirations.

s. Recognize that you're part of a community and that service to others (love) has a lot to do with giving your life meaning. Learn from others while also helping them by teaching.

[To read the original review in its entirety, please go to this link.]

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


"Once you admit that you aren't as smart as you think you are... or as you want other people to believe... you're going to get a lot smarter."

~ J K Harris, millionaire founder of the J K Harris & Co., & author of 'Flashpoint: Seven Core Strategies for Rapid Fire Business Growth';


Dr Timothy Wakefield, writing in his book, 'Mental Toughness: Understanding the Game of Life', highlights the 3 things that can change your life in a fraction of a second:

1) Sex;

2) Drugs;

3) Alcohol;

Think about it.

Monday, September 27, 2010


"There is a deep longing to create that resides within the soul of humanity. Beyond our natural instincts for survival.... we also have a natural instinct for building, organising, forming & creating..."

~ Robert Fritz;


Here's an interesting personal perspective.

According to Bill Bartmann, writing in the Afterword of his book, 'Billionaire Secrets to Success', a person has achieved true success if he or she has three things:

~ something to do;

~ someone to love;

~ something to hope for;


Who am I when nobody is watching?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


"In the absence of clearly-defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it."

~ Robert Heinlein (1907–1988); science fiction writer, often called "the dean of science fiction writers"; for many years, he, Isaac Asimov, & Arthur C. Clarke were known as the "Three Kingpins" of science fiction novels;

Monday, September 13, 2010


"I'm reaching 87, trying to keep fit, presenting a vigorous figure, & it's an effort, & is it worth the effort?... I laugh at myself trying to keep a bold front. It's become my habit. I just carry on."

~ Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew in an interview with Seth Mydans of 'The New York Times', as he reflects on ageing, his legacy & life with his wife;

[Source: 'The Sunday Times' of 12th September 2010]

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


“To become what we are capable of becoming is the only end in life.”

~ Robert Louis Stevenson said it more than a hundred years ago;

Sunday, September 5, 2010


"Each of us will one day be judged by our standard of life, not by our standard of living; by our measure of giving, not by our measure of wealth; by our simple goodness, not by our seeming greatness."
~William Arthur Ward

"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."
~Martin Luther King

"The message is clear: plan with attitude, prepare with aptitude, participate with servitude, receive with gratitude, and this should be enough to separate you from the multitudes."
~Krish Dhanam

"A winner is big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them."
~John Maxwell

"You don't have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great."
~Joe Sabah

"Regardless of your lot in life, you can build something beautiful on it."
~Zig Ziglar

"Decision is the spark that ignites action. Until a decision is made nothing happens."
~Wilfred A. Peterson

"You might not be what you say you are, but what you say, you are.~Zig Ziglar
When I was young I observed that nine out of every ten things I did were failures, so I did ten times more work."

~George Bernard Shaw

"If you don't think every day is a good day, just try missing one."
~Cavett Robert

"Never lose sight of the fact that the most important yardstick of your success will be how you treat other people."
~Barbara Bush

"What I hear I forget. What I see I remember. What I do, I know."
~Chinese Proverb

"I bring you the gift of these four words: I believe in you."
~Blaise Pascal

"The quality of a person's life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavour."
~Vince Lombardi

"It is a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best you very often get it."
~W. Somerset Maugham

"He who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love."
~Saint Basil

"Life is like a game of tennis; the player who serves well seldom loses."

"Dreams get you started; discipline keeps you going."
~Jim Rohn

"Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow."
~Ronald E. Osborn

"You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want."
~Zig Ziglar

[Source: 'Inspiration 365 Days A Year', by Zig Ziglar, from Simple Truths;]


How do I forge the life of my dreams in the face of overwhelming pressure to conform & avoid risks?

Can I really live life on my terms & not follow the conventional path?

Can I re-arrange my life to follow a life-long dream or goal & make it work?

How will I know which dreams (and goals) are on the right track?

How do I deal with the fear of the unknown?

How do I create a legacy?

~ inspired by the brief synopsis of the book, 'The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, & Change the World', by Chris Guillebeau, on;

[His personal weblog can be accessed at this link.]

Friday, September 3, 2010


"People say that what we're all seeking is a meaning for life. I don't think that's what we're really seeking. I think that what we're seeking is an experience of being alive."

~ Joseph Campbell (1904–1987); mythologist, writer & lecturer; best known for his work in comparative mythology & comparative religion;


A social buddy of mine has sent me the foregoing beautiful snapshot of nature's brilliance.

It comprises a nature scene that you will probably never get to see in your lifetime.... This is the sunset at the North Pole with the moon at its closest point.

You also get to see the sun below the moon.

A truly amazing snapshot, and it's certainly one that is not easily duplicated.

I thought it would be a great idea to share it with my readers.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


"Nothing in life just happens. You have to have the stamina to meet the obstacles and overcome them."

~ Golda Meir, former Prime Minister of Israel;


I am now in the deep heat of my relocation logistics to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

That's right... I am moving from the concrete jungle of Singapore to the vast hinterland of Indo-China, so to speak.

From now till the end of this month, I will be very busy... so the posting of my weblog will be somewhat intermittent &/or erratic.

A good friend of mine wrote back when I emailed him regarding my big move:

"... Thats a very interesting thing to do. To pack up and take a different road in Life now is very adventurous. May I ask what made you decide to relocate and what will you be doing there?..."

My decision to move to Vietnam was actually made five years ago, when I married May from Ho Chi Minh City.

Prior to meeting her, I had visited the beautiful country with friends, & I fell in love with it instantly. I was attracted by the slow pace of life, wholesome Vietnamese cooking, & the vibrancy, youthfulness & friendliness of the people.

To cut the story short, Vietnam offers the best option for me to stretch my retirement dollars.

In a nut shell, it will be an exciting phase of my life.

For my wife May, it will be 'Home Sweet Home!'

For me, I am looking forward to big changes, novel experiences & exciting challenges.

I have actually set up a weblog - 'Bonjour Vietnam, Here I Come!' - to chronicle my relocation journey to Vietnam. I have just got it started... so, please give me some time to get it running smoothly.

Please stay tuned!

[The first photo shows farmers working on a paddyfield in the Mekong Delta. The last photo shows the famous marketplace known as Ben Thanh Market, located in the perennially busy District 1 of Ho Chi Minh City (to the local folks, it's 'Saigon'), which is also a favourite "must-see" tourist attraction.]

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


"Any idea, plan, or purpose may be placed in the mind through repetition of thought."

~ Napoleon Hill; the man who struggled for 20 years to write the definitive guide to success, 'Law of Success';

Monday, August 30, 2010


"Instead of asking what their company does best today, managers should ask, 'What do we need to master today, and what will we need to master in the future, in order to excel on the trajectory of improvement that customers will define as important?'"

~ innovation strategists Clayton Christensen & Michael Raynor, writing in 'The Innovator's Solution: Creating & Sustaining Successful Growth';


The new urban shopping centre, known as Iluma, especialy with its illuminating facade, on Victoria Street, is undoubtedly a very artsy place. [Please refer to my earlier blogpost.]

To increase shopper traffic, there is even an air-conditioned overhead pedestrain bridge from the perennially busy Bugis Junction shopping mall.

While visiting the place on Saturday afternoon with my wife, sister-in-law & niece from Vietnam, following our earlier forays into Bugis Junction, I noticed a reasonably large array of beautiful peacock concortions, plus other hand-crafted artefacts, put on open display by arts students, in conjunction with Singapore's 45th National Day Celebrations.

Naturally, they piqued my interest. Here are some of my snapshots.

[More information about Iluma is available at their corporate website.]


"In today's age of change, as soon as you achieve success, someone is nipping at your heels, learning your unique strengths, & planning to take a portion of your market. The only way to succeed is to have the ability to change - rapidly & repeatedly. This requires perpetual innovation from you & your entire staff at all times."

~ Stephen Shapiro, recognized as one of today's most influential consultants in the area of process excellence practices, writing in '24/7 Innovation: A Blueprint for Surviving & Thriving in an Age of Change';

Sunday, August 29, 2010


The following twenty-nine seemingly humourous lines have been forwarded to me by a social buddy of mine:

1.. My husband and I divorced over religious differences. He thought he was God and I didn't.

2.. I don't suffer from insanity; I enjoy every minute of it.

3.. Some people are alive only because it's illegal to kill them.

4.. I used to have a handle on life, but it broke.

5.. Don't take life too seriously; No one gets out alive.

6.. You're just jealous because the voices only talk to me

7.. Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder.

8.. Earth is the insane asylum for the universe.

9.. I'm not a complete idiot -- Some parts are just missing.

10.. Out of my mind. Back in five minutes.

11.. NyQuil, the stuffy, sneezy, why-the-heck-is-the-room-spinning medicine.

12.. God must love stupid people; He made so many.

13.. The gene pool could use a little chlorine.

14.. Consciousness: That annoying time between naps.

15.. Ever stop to think, and forget to start again?

16.. Being 'over the hill' is much better than being under it!

17.. Wrinkled Was Not One of the Things I Wanted to Be When I Grew up.

18.. Procrastinate Now!

19.. I Have a Degree in Liberal Arts; Do You Want Fries With That?

20.. A hangover is the wrath of grapes.

21.. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a cash advance.

22.. Stupidity is not a handicap. Park elsewhere!

23..They call it PMS because Mad Cow Disease was already taken.

24.. He who dies with the most toys is nonetheless DEAD.

25.. A picture is worth a thousand words, but it uses up three thousand times the memory.

26.. Ham and eggs...A day's work for a chicken, a lifetime commitment for a pig.

27.. The trouble with life is there's no background music.

28.. The original point and click interface was a Smith & Wesson.

29.. I smile because I don't know what the hell is going on.

Appreciate every single thing you have, especially your friends! Life is too short and friends are too few!


"Everybody has a 1,000 hp mind; the trouble is that they only use about 1 hp."

~ George Prince, co-founder of the famed Synectics group problem solving process;

Saturday, August 28, 2010

RANDOM SPOTLIGHT: "It's in the Jeans!"


"... I wrote about neoteny, the zoological term that means "the retention of youthful qualities into adulthood."

The most fortunate old people don't lose the curiosity, energy, playfulness, and joy they had when they were young…

I take an almost childlike pleasure in each new day. There is always something new to see, to taste, to hear, to learn. I live surrounded with people whom I love and who love me...

If I am occasionally grumpier than I used to be, I am also more forgiving. I understand now, as Philo of Alexandria observed two millennia ago, the need to "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

… And every day I remind myself how lucky I have been — to have survived the war, unbroken; to have lived among great m inds; to have fulfilling work; to be greatly loved; to thrive with my loving, gorgeous Grace; to have healthy children; and to have lived to see the development of antibiotics... the defeat of polio, and the birth of the computer age.

The actuarial tables tell me I'm nearer the end than the beginning, but nothing is certain.

Children look at the world with wonder because everything is new. I see the world with the same wide-eyed wonder because everything is different than it was 25 years ago. Or 50. Or 75.

I can't wait to find out what happens next. Every day I look around, and I'm still surprised..."

~ from 'Still Surprised: A Memoir of a Life in Leadership', by Warren Bennis;


"... so you see, imagination needs moodling; long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling & puttering..."

~ Brenda Ueland, writer & teacher; also author of 'If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence & Spirit';


1: Where do we want to go?

2: How do we plan to get there?

3: How will we know that we're there?

4: What will that look like for each business?

5: What will we do to get there? What will we stop doing?

6: How will we organize ourselves?

7: Who will do it? How much can they spend?

8: What exactly must be done?

9: How do we get everyone on board?

10: Where should be? Where are we? What are we doing about the difference?

11: Are we there yet?

12: What went wrong? What went right? What should we change?

[Source: 'Strategic DNA: Bringing Business Strategy to Life', by strategy consultant Lawrence Hobbs;]

Friday, August 27, 2010


How can I live a meaningful life?

What is the deepest life I am called to, &

How can I respond to that call?

~ inspired by 'The Hero's Journey: A Voyage of Self-Discovery', by Stephen Gilligen & Robert Dilts;


"Don't wish for what you want.
Don't wait for what you want.
Command what you want.
& watch it come to you like magic!"

~ Asara Lovejoy, author of the One Command Quantum Success coaching program & radio host for 'Living in the Quantum Field';

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Five key questions to consider in your business development:

1) What or who are your targets?

2) What do they care about? What outcomes are they seeking?

3) Where do you find them?

4) What or who influences them?

5) How do they want to engage & eventually buy?

[Source: Notes from My Scratchpad ~ I have forgotten to jot down the original source;]


"'Opens Your Mind' challenges us to probe our imagination & to unleash our creativity. Let us welcome new ideas & embrace innovations. Then, our future will know no boundaries."

~ Wayne Chou, Managing Director of the Popular chain of retail stores;


Lan Liu, researcher at Peking University's Center for China Strategic Studies & adjunct professor at the Beijing Peter F Drucker Academy, where he teachers leadership courses, summarises the following eight disciplines of leadership in his book, 'Conversations on Leadership: Wisdom from Global Management Gurus':

1) Connecting with people;

2) Learning from failure;

3) Reflecting on experience;

4) Thinking deeply;

5) Storytelling;

6) Being a teacher;

7) Knowing yourself;

8) Becoming yourself;

He emphasises that these leadership disciplines require daily practice & continuing hardwork.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

RANDOM SPOTLIGHT: "What do you believe?"


Just wonder, how would our life be if it came with a formulated solution?...


"We put thirty spokes to make a wheel;
But it is on the hole in the center that the use of the cart hinges.
We make a vessel from a lump of clay;

But it is the empty space within the vessel that makes it useful.
We make doors and windows for a room;

But it is the empty spaces that make the room livable.
Thus, while existence has advantages;

It is the emptiness that makes it useful."

- Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu;

Tuesday, August 24, 2010



"Life is a great adventure. It's not just getting from point-A to point-B, but 'How' & 'Who' you do it with!"

~ Author Unknown;


"If you had three days to see, what would you choose to see in those days? Your answer to this question will teach you about what you truly love in your life."

~ Helen Keller;


RANDOM SPOTLIGHT: "Anything is Possible!"

Is this gradually becoming a trite, stereotyped expression?

Monday, August 23, 2010


These digital snapshots of seemingly rustic kampong games were captured at Jurong Point shopping mall yesterday evening. They certainly brought back sweet childhood memories of my kampong days in Yong Peng, Johor, West Malaysia.