Friday, January 8, 2010


"Don't just read the easy stuff. You may be entertained by it, but you will never grow from it."

~ Jim Rohn:

Thursday, January 7, 2010


"There is nothing so terrible as activity without insight.”

~ Johann von Goethe;

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


"There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art & their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into sun."

~ Pablo Picasso;

WHAT IS ENTREPRENEURSHIP? An interesting perspective from educators

I have found the following interesting perspective on the net:

"... Many argue about the differences between small business and entrepreneurship.

We believe this discussion needs to examine Edward de Bono's ideas about creativity and apply it to the area of small business. If educators (and business owners) focus on "what is" or "what was" and teach their students or employees how to do a job as it has always been done, we agree that this is "small business management."

They are managing the existing business with little orientation to creativity, without a focus on "what can be" or "what might be."

However, an orientation to opportunity, in any industry, leads to entrepreneurial thinking.

If students have experience in thinking about new ways to improve the operations of an existing or new business idea, they are thinking in the way de Bono advocates for progress in our society.

Entrepreneurship, in small business or large, focuses on "what may be" or "what can be". They are practicing entrepreneurship by looking for what is needed, what is missing, what is changing, and what consumers will buy during the coming years..."

[Source: Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education]


As I have mentioned earlier, during the last two weeks or so, I was inundated with two major project appraisals initiated by my good friend, Dilip Mukerjea. They necessitated my inputs - contemplative thoughts, so to speak - from the standpoint of a project manager.

I had to use the following three softwares to present my final analyses to vested parties:

- Microsoft Powerpoint;
- Microsoft Excel;
- SmartDraw Pro;

These were the normal softwares I had used extensively in the course of my work during the corporate days, way back into the nineties, even though I had made further use of Microsoft Powerpoint from time to time until five or six years ago.

As a matter of fact, I was also more conversant with Lotus 123 than Microsoft Excel during my corporate days.

For one specific project, I needed to illustrate a series of innovative ideas for building a learning ecosystem for presentation in a logical format to the evaluation committee.

For me, Microsoft Powerpoint was the choice of software.

For the other specific project, I needed to break down a new business concept into five product or service strands to show their inter-relationships as well as their individually extended business possibilities, & also to project a 3-year sales revenue generation forecast to a "financier".

For me, SmartDraw Pro & Microsoft Excel were the best choice of software.

Unfortunately, I had not used the foregoing softwares for quite a long while.

Undaunted, I booted up the respective softwares to give it a go.

It was tough & frustrating time trying to figure out the process of re-using them, as I had forgotten many of the quick steps as well as the interesting shortcuts I had often used before.

Naturally, it took a couple of hours to struggle through the "learning curve" so to speak in each case.

Actually, after a while, it wasn't that bad after all, because past experiential memories gradually began to work miraculously through the hands or rather the fingers.

Well, I must say there is such a thing as "kinesthetic memory".

I reckon, once a brain has learned a skill set, & if we don't use the skill set say for a while, the learning memories are still there. At the beginning, the recall might be fuzzy, just as I had experienced initially, but after some time of persistent toying around with them, memories can gradually come back.

The resultant activity as described constitutes what I like to call a "rewiring" of the brain.

Before long, I could get all the presentation stuff going as intended. In fact, I had passed on my powerpoint to Dilip to embellish it with his beautiful images. The final product, running with Keynote on his Mac Pro, had turned out great.

Likewise, the resultant outputs with SmartDraw Pro & Microsoft Excel also turned out great.

The adult brain is definitely a miracle thing. All it needs occasionally is a deliberate jolt to the system, from time to time, to keep it going afresh.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


"Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin."

~ Mother Teresa;


Here's the link to an interesting article, entitled 'How to Train the Aging Brain', by Barbara Strauch, Health Editor of the New York Times.

What fascinates me most are the following findings:

"... for adults, one way to nudge neurons in the right direction is to challenge the very assumptions they have worked so hard to accumulate while young. With a brain already full of well-connected pathways, adult learners should “jiggle their synapses a bit” by confronting thoughts that are contrary to their own...

Teaching new facts should not be the focus of adult education... Instead, continued brain development and a richer form of learning may require that you “bump up against people and ideas” that are different.

In a history class, that might mean reading multiple viewpoints, and then prying open brain networks by reflecting on how what was learned has changed your view of the world...

... We need to know stuff. But we need to move beyond that and challenge our perception of the world. If you always hang around with those you agree with and read things that agree with what you already know, you’re not going to wrestle with your established brain connections...

... get out of the comfort zone to push and nourish your brain. Do anything from learning a foreign language to taking a different route to work... "

In a nut shell, I have always believed that a little dose of cognitive dissonance works for the brain!

[The author is scheduled to release her new book, 'The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain', in April.]


I have found the following soft ad with 'Think' as its theme on the web:

"Few things possess more power than a Thought.

Because a Thought has the potential to become something significant.

To solve something meaningful.

And to inspire us to achieve great things.

What makes Thought so powerful is that it can be created by anybody.

At anytime.

From everywhere.

That's why Thinking should be encouraged and nurtured in all its forms.

No matter how small.

Or how impossibly grand.

Because whatever Thinking happens,

Big Ideas Follow.

Minds become enlightened.

Knowledge grows.

And people discover new ways to unlock their potential.

So start Thinking."

[Source: Qatar Foundation: Unlocking Human Potential; The Economist, December 12th 2009;]

Monday, January 4, 2010


I had just finished watching an old movie, 'Over The Top', on StarHub cable television, starring Sylvester Stallone as Lincoln Hawk, a struggling trucker. After the death of his wife, he was trying to rebuild his life around his young son, Mike, whom he had left behind years earlier.

Upon their first meeting, his son didn't think too highly of him, until he entered the nation-wide arm wrestling competition in Las Vegas.

In one particular scene, Lincoln was teaching his son how to take on an arm-wrestling encounter with another boy. Mike lost the first round, & just walked away, obviously very disheartened. That's when Lincoln told his son about the harsh reality of life:

"The world meets nobody halfway. When you want something, you gotta take it."

To me, Lincoln sounded almost like Rocky.

Nonetheless, Mike went back to beat the boy confidently in a return match.


"The best six doctors anywhere,
And no one can deny it,
Are sunshine, water, rest, and air,
Exercise and diet.
These six will gladly you attend,
If only you are willing.
Your mind they'll ease.
Your will they'll mend.
And charge you not a shilling."

~ nursery rhyme quoted by Wayne Fields, in his book, 'What the River Knows: An Angler in Midstream';


1) What did I accomplish in the last 12 months?

2) What were my biggest disappointments or setbacks?

3) What did I learn from the experience?

4) How do I limit myself, & how can I stop?

5) What are my personal values?

6) What roles do I play in my life?

7) Which role is my major focus for the next 12 months?

8) What are my goals for each role?

9) What are my top ten goals for the next 12 months?

10) How can I make sure that I achieve my top ten goals?

Adapted from the book, 'Your Best Year Yet: 10 Questions for Making the Next 12 Months Your Most Successful Ever', by Jinny Ditzler;


"The fact is, success "can" be reverse engineered and reproduced.

You don't have to accept what everyone else is getting but you must make a few new choices.

Suppose you decided today - right now - that you're finally making a REAL commitment to turn your dreams into actions... and your goals into achievements.

And suppose you had more fun doing it than you ever imagined!

It can happen... but you've got to take the first bold step."

~ Gary Ryan Blair, The GoalsGuy;

Sunday, January 3, 2010


"Motivation gets you through the day, but inspiration lasts a lifetime."

~ Nick Vujicic (pronounced Voy-a-chich), who was born in 1982 in Melbourne, Australia, without arms or legs, & yet today, he could inspire & motivate people from all walks of life, touching lives all over the world, via his official website, 'Life Without Limbs';


My wife & I had actually returned to Singapore from Indonesia on the late afternoon of 22nd December 2009, but I was immediately inundated by two major project appraisals initiated by my good friend, Dilip Mukerjea, which required my expert contributions, & if realised, would likely pull me out of semi-retirement.

As a result, I am late in filing my visiting report in this weblog, & am also behind schedule in writing my daily blog posts.

Owing to the extremely warm hospitality of my good friends & gracious hosts in Indonesia, Alexander K Taslim (or Alex for short) & his wife Santi, my wife & I had a jolly good time in the large country.

As a matter of fact, Indonesia is the world's largest archipelago straddling between the Indian Ocean & the Pacific Ocean, commanding some 1.9 km of area, & comprising some 17,500 islands.

[By the way, of the ten largest islands in the world, three are located in Indonesia, namely, Sumatra, Borneo & Papua (formerly Irian Jaya)]

With a diverse population of some 250 million people, Indonesia is also the world's largest Muslim nation.

Out of the six days, my wife & I spent three days in Taman Safari Indonesia, but we didn't get to visit the exotic animals.

Alex, whom I had known since the late nineties, had specifically requested me to observe & evaluate his 3-day residential outdoor adventure camp for kids, age 9-15.

Originally trained as a sales & marketing professional, Alex has turned himself into an educator-trainerpreneur in the last fifteen years or so. He now runs a conglomerate of small businesses that are tied somehow to children's education, comprising Superbrain, Sempoa (Abacus), Global Art, Sakamoto, English Language course (with Dr Gerry Knowles from UK), & others.

Staying at the Safari Lodge, 34 kids were put through a series of indoor as well as outdoor adventures under the watchful eyes of 10 resource persons, led by Master Trainer Alex. In fact, his entire family was there: wife Santi, sons Victor & Josef & only daughter Alice were part of the logistical team.

Interestingly, 17-year old Victor, a graduate of MindChamps in Singapore, was debuting his trainer personna for the first time.

The camp curriculum was relatively well-structured with short lectures, video presentations, fun games, group exercises, & debriefings, plus an outdoor adventure involving a mountain trek & rope courses.

Nonetheless, the primary focus of the residential camp was to impart lessons on bravery, trust, breakthrough, self-belief, self-motivation, leadership, family bonding, & attitude of gratitude to the kids.

Surprisingly, the weather in Puncak was relatively warm in the day, but in the early morning hours, it was quite chilly.

From my personal perspective, the highlights of the camp were:

- the 3.5 km mountain trek, during which I fell down unexpectedly three times due to the slippery slopes & rough terrain & luckily I didn't injure myself; [Interestingly, Puncak means "The Peak"]

- the outdoor adventure, with gravity-defying rope courses like Flying Fox;

- the cooking contest;

- the candle-light journaling session (during which the kids got to read love letters from their parents, & in turn they had to write love letters to their parents);

- the fire-walk over burning ember;

- the parents' closing ceremony, during which the kids had dedicated a beautiful song & dance routine ("Aku Besa" or "I Can") to their parents.

My wife, being a very sporty person, had also participated actively in the outdoor adventures.

I must say that the parents' closing ceremony was the most memorable part of the entire event in Safari Lodge.

It was really heart-warming to see many of the kids who came forward, with mike in hand, & choking with tears & emotions, apologised to their parents for their "misdeeds" & promised to turn around to be better kids. I also noted that many of the parents were overwhelmed with tears rolling down their faces, as they moved forward to hug their loved ones.

I could see that the 34 kids truly enjoyed themselves at the 3-day residential camp.

Alex, Santi, Victor, Josef & Alice, & the logistical team led by Irene, as camp coordinator, & Rudi, one of the other trainers besides Victor, certainly deserved the full credit.

In fact, I would say that Alex & his family had unwittingly served as a model of excellence to all the kids & their visiting parents on the last day.

As for me, I had shared a powerful visual planning tool, called PERT CHART, with the kids through Irene & her resource persons. I had spent a couple of hours coaching the team on how to teach the tool one day before the camp.

I was gratified to see all the kids enjoying themselves while building their own personal PERT CHART.

The PERT CHART as designed by me for the kids is actually my playful variation of the original PERT CHART as conceived by the US Navy during the 1950's. I will write more about it in a separate post.

At the end of each camp day, Alex, his family & the entire logistical team stayed back, often close to midnight, as I ran through my professional evaluation of the camp performance with them.

Back in Jakarta, in Alex's 4-storey office building located in the Karawaci area, & together with Alex, Santi, Victor & Irene, we reviewed in detail the 3-day camp performance for the last time, highlighting those critical areas that needed improvement.

Prior to the meeting, I even went through a short but structured meditation routine with Alex & Santi in the Pranic Healing Centre located next door. The centre is also owned by Alex.

To round-up the meeting, we also had discussed some potential business projects, which would need my expert contribution in Jakarta.

[Meanwhile, my wife took the opportunity to drop into a nearby bakery, owned by Santi, to learn how to make Indonesian cookies, using Santi's special recipes.

In Jakarta, we were put up in a grand & cosy place, The Aryaduta Hotel & Country Club, located in the Karawaci area.]

On the last day prior to departure for Singapore, Alex & Santi brought my wife & I for Christmas shopping in a large shopping complex. We managed to grab some good bargains at a Nautica fashion boutique.

We even adjourned to a popular coffee joint in the shopping complex to savour Kopi Luwak, after I had told Alex about its influence on me from the movie, 'The Bucket List'.

The coffee was expensive all right - almost S$12 per pop, but I certainly like the fancy & elaborate preparation, as you can see from the digital snapshots.

Taste-wise, Kopi Luwak was somewhat bitter & lighter.

On the whole, despite the short stay, my wife & I had a really great time in Indonesia. She even brought back some of the Indonesian cookies she had made.

Incidentally, Alex is also the author of 'If You Want to be Rich, First be Rich', published (in Bahasa Indonesia) in 2005. Urged on by his wife Santi, Alex is contemplating writing his second book, & I have volunteered to be his storyboard guide. We have mutually agreed to tap Bali as his writing sanctuary probably in January 2010.


What did I learn from this (situation, event...) & what will I do differently as a result?

What did I get out of this today that I can build on in the next 30 days?