Saturday, August 7, 2010


"I have been asked literally thousands of questions. But most of them come down to this: what does it take to win?"

~ Jack Welch, the legendary retired CEO of General Electric, who transformed the industrial giant from a sleepy "Old Economy" company with a market capitalization of US$4 billion to a dynamic new one worth nearly half a trillion dollars;

Friday, August 6, 2010


1) What is happening in the world today?

2) What does it means for others?

3) What does it means for us?

4) What would have to happen first (for the results we want to occur)?

5) What do we have to do to play a role?

6) What do we do next?

[Source: Ram Charan, 'Sharpening Your Business Acumen', in 'Strategy & Leadership', February 2006; according to him, we need to ask these questions in order to get into "seeing the big picture";]


"If you limit your choices to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, & all that is left is compromise."

~ Robert Fritz;


What follows is a fascinating poem from the Penguin Classic, 'Don Quixote', by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra:

A mariner of love am I

Who, far from any strand,

Sails on, although without a hope

Of ever reaching land.

My eyes are on a distance star

That serves me as a guide,

More beautiful and and bright than all

That Palinurus spied.

I don’t know where she’s leading me,

And so, bemused, I steer,

My heart intent on watching her,

Careless and full of care.

And her unkindly bashfulness

And undue modesty

And clouds that hide her from my eyes,

The girl I long to see.

O Clara, clear and shining star,

I fade beneath your light,

And if you hide your beams from me

I’ll die in the darkest night.


Here's the link to download a good article about the above subject. It has been crafted by Dr Verne Wheelwright, who owns the website known as 'Personal Futures Network'.

You are welcome to browse his website, as he has a lot of useful resources, especially in the context of personal strategic planning. The latter will be compiled into his forthcoming new book, entitled 'It's Your Future...Make It a Good One!'. It will probably be released in September.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


"It’s true that today we are faced with greater complexity in almost every aspect of our lives, from global competition in the business world to more options for entertainment.

The connected world has flooded us with a limitless supply of data, & equally limitless choices.

One of the problems this has created is that it creates the illusion, or delusion, that we can achieve perfection in our decisions by accumulating more information.

It’s too easy to blame faulty decisions on imperfect information, but information is always limited in some way, as is the time available to make our decisions.

Forget perfection! Decisiveness comes from the courage to trust your instincts. The more you trust, the more you’ll build up that intuition & the more accurate it will become, creating a positive cycle.

Before you lay out your options, what we might call considering your next move, you have to have a solid understanding of the present. Evaluation is more important than calculation.

Rushing into narrowing things down to a list of options is itself a form of making a choice - & if you do that, you can prematurely rule out important possibilities. Stop looking ahead for a moment & examine the current state of affairs.

Good decisions come from a solid understanding of all the factors that come into play. Once you have tuned your evaluation skills & learned to put the options on hold for a moment you’ll often find that difficult decisions become obvious...

We all do it (strategic thinking) every day, the difference is that it takes discipline (in addition to passion & patience) to become aware of it...

... We make hundreds of decisions just to get through each day. A handful are important enough to keep track of, to look back on critically. Were they successful? Why or why not? We can train ourselves, which is really the only way...

... Emotion is a critical element of decision-making, not a sin always to be avoided. As with anything it is harmful in excess. You learn to focus it & control it the best you can...

... Usually when you are under stress there is a good reason for it. Learning not to get anxious about things beyond your control is a separate issue.

So don’t fight stress, use it! Channel that nervous energy into solving the problems.

Sitting around worrying isn’t going to achieve anything & the loss of time will often make the problem worse. Even in the worst case, mistakes of action teach you much more than inaction. Forward!..."

~ Garry Kasparov, Russian chess grandmaster for 22 years;

[Source: Review: Questions for Garry Kasparov]


I read in today's issue of the Straits Times, the Russian Grandmaster Garry Kasparov will be in Singapore on 15th August 2010 (Sunday) to play in exhibition blitz chess matches against two of Singapore’s top chess players ~ plus, a battle against thirty local chess players of different age groups in simultaneous chess matches.

The one-day event is jointly organized by Conrad Centennial Singapore, Serangoon Gardens Country Club, Thomson Community Club and the "Chess is for Everybody in Singapore" movement.

This is apparently the first ever visit by a living chess legend, Garry Kasparov, to Singapore.

I have written quite a number of posts about Gary Kasparov in this webog, especially my fascination for his super brainpower when it comes to using his brain.

By the way, he is also the author of 'How Life Imitates Chess: Making the Right Moves, from the Board to the Boardroom', which contains autobiographical anecdotes about his face-off against IBM's Deep Blue computer.

Additionally, in his book, he shows us how the tools that made him a world chess champion can make us more successful in business & in life: Preparation, practice, evaluation, strategy, tactics, intuition, creativity, commitment, & spontaneity.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


"Learning is not something that just happens to you; it's something that you do to yourself. You cannot be "given" learning, nor can you be forced to do it. The most brilliant & inspired teacher cannot "cause" you to learn. Only you can do that."

~ Robert Leamnson, Professor of Biology & Director of Multidisciplinary Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth;


I have read about the brilliant work of Dr Allan Synder, director of the Centre for the Mind at The University of Sydney, Australia, several years ago.

In fact, I have written about it & also about his connection to MindChamps, a company that runs mind development programs in Singapore in this weblog.

Hence, his interview as highlighted in today's issue of the Straits Times, under its 'The ST Interview' is a refresher on his fascinating scientific observations about developing the 'Champion Mindset'.

To recap, from the interview, at least my quick takeaways:

- scoring straight A's in schools does not make one a champion; those branded academic failures "might have other qualities, untapped wells of initiative, that steer them to extraordinary success later in life";

- academic excellence is "forcing yourself to learn what other people want you to learn & doing as other people want you to";

- champions differentiate themselves by having the courage to "break rules" ~ "experiment with the rules and invent new ways of doing things";

- champions are creative people;

- he admires those creative people who "are able to take ideas from disparate fields & synthesise them into a new whole", as exemplified in his own discovery about optic fibres for telecommunication, which was inspired, not from his research in engineering physics, but from his investigations into animal eyes;

I reckon he sums up well with this beautiful quote:

"I believe we all have the innate potential to be a champion... At the end of the day, it is our mindsets that limit our expectations of ourselves and circumscribe our boundaries... Ultimately, I believe what makes a champion is a champion mindset. And the champion mindset can most definitely be nurtured."

By the way, I would love to have one of his 'brain-boosting' hair-net caps on my head!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


"Our world will never be perfect. The rain will come, despite my best efforts to prevent it. Life is what you choose to make of it. State of mind is everything. If you cannot change what happens, then for your happiness, you must change your mindset."

~Michelle Sedas, author of 'Live Inspired', 'Welcome the Rain', & 'The Power of 10%';


What follows is just my quick list of interesting takeaways from the book, 'A Gift to My Children: 'A Father’s Lessons for Life & Investing', by American investor extraordinaire Jim Rogers, now based in Singapore, who is acknowledged by Time as 'The Indiana Jones of Finance'.

Frankly, all the stuff from the book has nothing much to do with finance &/or investing.

They are essentially pearls of wisdom from his world of "hard knocks", which Jim wants to share with his two beautiful daughters, respectively nicknamed in Chinese as 'Happy' (7) & 'Babe Bee' (2).

Swim your own races

- do not let others do your thinking for you;

- rely on your own intelligence;

- it's important to decide for yourself what's important to you and what you want before you turn to others;

- if anyone laughs at your idea, view it as a sign of potential success;

- be who you are; be original; be bold;

- above all, be ethical;

- save ~ you must avoid the trap of spending $ willy nilly simply because you can;

Focus on what you like

- Age is irrelevant when you are passionate about a goal;

- when you find something that interests you, just do it!

- The quickest way to success is to do what you like and give your best;

- Dedicate yourself to what you feel passionate about;

- Try as many things as you can, then pursue the one about which you're passionate;

Good habits for life

- Be a self-starter;

- Attention to details is what separates success from failure;

- However trivial it may seem, you must research and check each and ever piece of information you need to make a decision... Only through meticulous research will you obtain the knowledge necessary for success... it requires abundant work and diligence...

- There is no such thing as "enough". No finish line!

- Live your life with a dream;

- If you continue to be passionate and work hard at what you truly love to do, you eventually find that dream;

Uncommon Sense

- Always consider alternative interpretations;

- Seek out multiple perspectives on the same story will always help you figure out the truth;

Your education ~ Let the world be a part of your perspective PART 1

- Do not rely on books; go and see the world;

- Experience life as they do; see the world from the ground up. By observing ordinary life... you will forever be stumbling upon experiences that will raise important question in your mind ;

- Understand the significance of BRICs;

- Be open to people who are different whether at home or abroad;

- Keep an open mind and be a world citizen;

- Be eager to move if you see opportunities;

• Your education ~ Learn philosophy and learn to think PART 2

- Philosophy will teach you how to think for yourself;

- You must learn to think at a profound level if you want to understand yourself and what's important to you. You must know yourself if you want to accomplish anything in life...;

- To think outside the established framework, to examine things independently this is true philosophy...;

- Draw conclusions from your observations as well as on the basis of logic;

- As an investor, look for the bull and the bear;

Your education ~ Learn history PART 3

- An interest in history, politics, and economics will help you see the world with clearer perspectives;

- Nothing is really new: what is happening now has happened before and will happen again;

Your education ~ Learn languages (make sure that Mandarin is one of them) PART 4

- Mandarin will be the next global language;

- Pay attention to the major changes taking place in the world now, especially China;

Know thyself by understanding your weaknesses and acknowledging your mistakes

- Know who you are;

- To be a successful investor you really need to understand psychology, history, and philosophy;

Recognise change and embrace it

- Everything changes. Everything;

- Embrace the principle of supply and demand;

- Change can be a catalyst;

- Adapt or die;

Look to the future

- Read the newspapers, but think differently;

- Pay attention to what everyone else neglects;

- If you are looking for success, be quick to start something new, something that no one else has tried;

- The more certain something is, the less likely it is to be profitable;

- Do not think in terms of what you wish (ergo, wishful thinking versus willful doing);

- Know when not to do anything;

Lady Luck smiles on those who continue in their efforts

- Do your homework'

- If you let vanity and self-importance (ego) take over, you will lose all that you have achieved;

- Never let yourself become arrogant. Study hard. The more you learn, the more you will realise how little you know - armed with this humility, you will never lose sight of the distance between self-confidence and self-importance;

- Do not stop when you are working towards your dream;


- The devil of life is always in the details;

- Anything that is a must-see, must-try, must-read, must almost certainly be avoided, especially if it is popular;

- Use good manners no matter where you are or whom you meet;

- Learn to do as much arithmetic and figures as possible in your head;

- Take care of yourself;

- Learn to stay calm;

- Once you do get to know and understand yourself, remember who you are and stay with it;

- Don’t be greedy;

A very entertaining read! Thanks, Jim, for sharing!

All Mums & Dads must read, especially the end part about BGR (Boy-Girl Relationship) & DOM (Dirty Old Man), on top of the foregoing. BGR & DOM do not fall under my purview of interest.

[More information about Jim Rogers is available at his personal website. The Chinese edition of his book is available at this link.]