Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Word on Genius

Curious to know what others have said about genius and madness? Check out these quotable quips.

"Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration."
- Thomas Edison, US inventor of the motion-picture projector, phonograph, electric-light bulb and 1,090 other inventions.

"No great genius is without a mixture of madness."
- Aristotle, an ancient Greek philosopher dubbed one of the greatest thinkers of all time. His work was the foundation for western science and philosophy for over 100 years.

"You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it."
- Robin Williams, US comedian and actor famous for this improvisation and roles like the genie in Disney's Aladdin.

"About half my designs are controlled fantasy, 15% are total madness and the rest are bread-and-butter designs."
- Manolo Blahnik, Spanish fashion designer famous for creating high fashion and very expensive shoes.

"Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to making of genius. Love, love, love - that is the soul of genius."
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Austrian composer considered the greatest musical genius of all time.

"Insanity is doing the same thing in the same way and expecting a different outcome."
- Old Chinese proverb.

"Madness is to think of too many things in succession too fast, or of one thing too exclusively."
- Voltaire, philosopher and playwright considered one of the greatest French artist.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Five Steps to Stay Ahead

1. Keep Abreast of New Developments

Your own personal education shouldn't stop once you've left the hallowed halls of university or college. To be at the head of the resume queue, it's important to know exactly what is happening in your field. Subscribe to magazine, newspapers and periodicals to keep informed - take courses, seminars and attend conference to update your know-how.

2. Go Back to School

It's never too late to get that degree or even a PhD. If the only thing stopping you changing careers, moving up the career ladder or achieving your ideal salary is the lack of letters after your name, then check out adult education and evening classes in your areas.

Classes are offered in all kinds of skills - whether it's computers, pottery or ballet - so broaden your skills and widen your career chances.

3. Be Computer Literate

If you expect to be able to compete in today's job market, you must have a basic grasp of computers, from word processing to Windows to using the Internet and feeling comfortable with e-mail.

If technology scares you, check out the number of informal classes in the territory where you can join others with techno-fear and fill in those gaps in your computer knowledge.

4. Network

There's always an opportunity to meet people who might be useful in your search for a new job. At conferences and seminars make a point of introducing yourself to others and get to know what they do.

Even if you are timid by nature, see every new person you meet as an ally in your search for a new job. When you go for a job interview, your contacts might be one of the things that makes you stand out from the crowd.

Don't, however, use your contacts for your own personal gain. People will most likely see through you and do not appreciate being used.

5. Get A New Image

Your appearance is the first thing your colleagues, clients and potential employers notice. If you have been neglecting your image, it's time to take a new look at yourself. Get a trusted friend to give you an honest opinion on your looks and what clothes suit you.

Get a manicure and pedicure once a week and check out cosmetic companies' free makeover offers to keep updated on the latest colours.

Monday, June 8, 2009

People Skills

By Datin T.D. Ampikaipakan

Living in a multi-ethnic and global business environment, it isn't enough to just know a lot about your area of expertise anymore.

The ability to get along with people within and outside your organisation, the demonstration of good manners and the skill of making people feel comfortable is becoming extremely important for corporate dynamism. Without these basic business skills, we not only risk losing customers and their goodwill but also the support of our work team.

Think of that time when you were "not right" when you made a comment. Think of the worst faux pas you have ever committed or witnessed. Have you not cringed in horror when your colleague embarrassed you in front of a client?

Now think of someone who handled an impossible client with great panacheor got through a tough situation merely because good manners were demonstrated and the client felt that he was "handled right."

But many of us believe that we already know how to dress, how to eat, how to say hello or even talk on the phone. So what's the big deal? Why do we need to study these skills any further? I give you three motives:

1. You create an image when you present yourself to your best advantage.

For instance, your attire may be the reason why you have not been invited to join management circles. Your manners show how others perceive you - whatever your position in the company. How often have we said, "My goodness, I don't know how we can ever promote her."

Your lack of social graces may also cost you an important client.

2. You were not thought the proper code of conduct in school. After all, has anyone ever sat for an examination on social or business etiquette in school or college?

It is also possible that your parents and teachers did not stress the importance of social rules in the midst of the stress of academic examination.

3. We live in an evolving world where the rules of behaviour are changing.

Today's business setting has changed. Women hold jobs that were once held by men. People with disabilities, minorities and foreigners have joined our work force. You now, more than ever, need good manners, to Get It Right within the social and business framework.

Good manners will go along way in eliminating behaviour that many may consider insensitive, racist, sexist or even prejudicial or discriminatory.

Anyone who wants a successful career cannot deny the importance of good manners and social skills in the conduct of day-to-day business.

Your technical skills may be par excellence but if you have hopes of moving up into managerial post, you will require very strong interpersonal skills. It cannot be denied that good manners help alleviate even the most stressful corporate situation.

I have heard many remarks emphasising the fact that social and business etiquette is not as vital as the bottom line of a company's financial statement. But I'll have those who make such statements know that without good manners and a knowledge of business savoir faire, the corporate life of their organisation is in jeopardy.

Do they not know that courtesy keeps clients and gets new ones?

Do they not know that business etiquette improves the morale and work life of their staff, thereby reducing turnover?

Do they not realise that a courteous, well-mannered person will rise quickly up the corporate ladder, while a bad mannered colleague will hit a glass ceiling?

Do not underestimate the power of politeness. It can help us make our career path a fairly smooth one.

We are often judged by our behaviour both in social and business circles. Everything we do is a reflection of our upbringing and environment. Therefore, the person who aims for corporate success must display self-confidence, poise, knowledge and the ability to "get along with people."

We are in the "people business" whether we provide a product , a service or both - as the following remarks made by two senior executives demonstrate.

Said one: "Being able to work with others is the single most important characteristic a junior executive can have. I can always buy specialised knowledge, but it is sometimes a problem to find someone with good people sense, an ability to communicate well with others, to build workers' self-esteem."

Said the other: "I don't care how intelligent my managers are, what I need most are people with people knowledge."

So - Get It Right!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Setting Up Goals

By Jean Baer

Many people work incredibly hard but feel they're getting nowhere. The reason is they're trying to do too many things at one time. The key to achieving career success is to set goals.

Says Dr Herbert Fensterheim, clinical professor, Cornell University Medical College, "Having goals helps you to separate the important from the trivial so that you can make decisions about where to expend time and energy. Long-term goals give you a feeling of movement through life. Sub-goals provide a sense of accomplishment."

How do you set up a goal programme that gets you where you want to go? The following pointers may help.

1. Define your goals
In doing this, ask yourself some of the same questions that industrial psychologists use to develop achievement motivation. What are your goals? How can you accomplish them? How do you deal with the obstacles?

2. Concentrate on sub-goals
According to the late Dr Norman R.F. Maier, professor emeritius of psychology at the University of Michigan, "Ask yourself what you want out of life. Then divide your life into sub-goals." That means "What do I want to accomplish today?" For instance, your long-range goal is to get a marketing job. But this involves many sub-goals. You might want to keep a graph in which you record performance of such sub-goals as "let your boss know of your intentions" or "speak to someone currently in that position". Be sure to mark your chart when you perform an act. Remember, sub-goals provide encouragement.

3. Make it easier for yourself to get started
Once you have formulated your goals, write them down. Make your list specific and concrete. Don't use vague generalities like "I will stop procrastinating.." "not to be late any more.." "be more organised". Instead, if your goal is to be on time at work, be very exact: "I will be at my deskat the office no later than 9". Warning: do not think you're wonderful just because you've written down your intention. Move on to the next step of action or you just become a master at writing intentions. You should break goals into specific acts.

4. Set priorities
Pace yourself - at such and such an hour, you'll do certain things. When you have to do something really important, try to defer everything else until the next day. Do the deadline chore first.

5. Understand your limitations
Talent and age obviously affect your goals. At 40, you can learn to play tennis, but you'll never be like Chris Evert.

6. Set up your own system of reinforcement.
One harassed working woman says, "If I have given my all to my job for four and a half days, I take Friday afternoon off. I stay on the premises of my job but essentially I quit work. I get my hair done at lunch time, write personal letters and make personal phone calls in the afternoon and sometimes just stare at the wall and think". You can give rewards to yourself (always keep in mind the perception: If I don't meet the goal, I don't get the reward) or you can get them from others.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Find the Upset of Regret

Regret is more than a one-size-fits-all proposition, says Thomas Gilovich, Ph.D., a psychology professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. According to his research, regret comes in three emotional types: hot (anger, disgust, embarrassment, irritation), wistful (nostalgic, contemplative, sentimental) and despairing (helpless, longing).

In the short term, you may regret actions you took – usually hot regrets like impulsively buying those expensive items when you should have boosted your savings account. While most people get over the sting of hot regrets fairly quickly, the long term is another story: That’s when you tend to regret actions you didn’t take – like going to Europe for a semester during college – eliciting wistful or despairing feelings.

The good news is that while regret feels bad, you can make it work for you. Gilovich offers these suggestions:

Learn from your mistakes. Examine your behaviour and why you did or didn’t act in a way you now regret. You may be sorry you didn’t push harder for a promotion that you deserved but someone else got – however, next time you won’t let yourself be outmaneuvered.

Pursue a missed opportunity. If you regret not having learned to play the piano as a child or forgoing the track team for your studies, seize the day. Take action to replace those wistful feelings with newfound skills and a fulfilling sense of accomplishment.

Rectify past wrongs. If your regret centres on bad behaviour – you hurt a friend’s feelings with a cutting remark or, worse, stole her boyfriend – it’s never too late to apologise. Even if the other person isn’t responsive to your overture, you’ll feel better for having made the effort.

Give yourself a break. The path not taken often looks more tempting with 20/20 hindsight. So forgive yourself for not having been prescient enough to accept that job offer or make that big move, and remember you did the best you could at the time.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Principles of Coaching

By Michael Heah

“Coaching” is just not another word you be so used to hearing of in recent times. In fact, coaches and coaching have been with us for as long as humans have had the desire to improve themselves.

It started with sports, ever since serious-minded sports people found the need to engage sports coaches whom they believed could help them boost their performance for extraordinary results.

In the late 90s, the sports arena was no longer the only domain of coaching. It has entered the non-sports world as well: corporate boardrooms of executives; homes of parents and children as well as private lives of individuals. World-class organizations like Microsoft, International Business Machines Corp, Dell, Kodak and many others have relied on coaching to grow into world-class professionals.

Famous individuals like Peter Drucker and Ken Blanchard have had private coaches too. No wonder all of them have made extraordinary gains in their lives!

In modern days, people need coaches for many reasons; corporations in the 21st century are increasingly competing for higher growth and profits; families are finding it difficult to cope with the demand of modern homes; and individuals are increasingly being exerted with the complexities of professional and social life.

All of them have something in common; they all want richer fulfillment, higher satisfaction, and greater happiness, including achieving their fullest potential in life.

People have found a perfect place for coaches to be in their lives. Depending on their goals, people can have coaches in various fields; business coaches for corporate executives, parental coaches for family members, career coaches for ambitious people, and life skill coaches for people in all walks of life, and so on.

Coaches have one common objective; to break people out of their mindsets and self-limiting beliefs to enjoy the fullest of life in the way they really and always want to be.

People perform well when they receive individualized instead of mass attention. It is highly effective because coaching goes beyond “general information” for improvement.

It is a learning relationship over a period of time. Although you can compare them to tuition teachers or counselors, coaches are many more times what other can do.

In gist, coaches are focused on three key principles when they work with people:

1. See. Either it is a problem or an issue the individual does not see or does not want to see it, a coach uses observation, questioning and listening skills to uncover it, identify it and “confront” the individual with it.

2. Say. The coach uses a high degree of inspiration, motivation and persuasion to get the individual to admit and acknowledge the problem.

3. Do. Instead of intervening, the coach helps “enlighten” the individual to formulate his or her own personal section programme. Then the coach monitors, aligns, motivates and bring back into focus what needs to be done until the result is achieved.

Unlike counseling or training, coaching takes place in a real situation, addressing real issues based on real-time results, without “delaying” the action to a later date and time.

It is a focused relationship with the coach and protégé entering into a mutually healthy relationship to address an agreed issue (or issues) together.

The results are long term as it is the protégé who holds total accountability for improvement.

The coach plays many roles when he or she watches from the sidelines: a facilitator when things get entangled; the conscience when performance slides; a motivator to push for performance; and a friend who celebrates achievement.

People in leadership position ought to be coaches to their constituents. Be it parents to their children, managers to their subordinates, politicians to their electorates or teachers to their students, they can help make a positive difference to people’s lives when they understand and know how powerful coaches can be.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Art of Communication

By Andrew A.L. Tan

"All fast developing nations need to re-engineer mindsets with a 'paradigm shift' to match the country's first class infrastructures with first-class mentality to strive and aspire to be a nation of people with the 'graces of a civilised society' such as art of leadership, communication skills, politeness, respectfulness, tact and diplomacy, traditions, cultures, music and the arts."

In tandem with progress and development, materialism breeds a lot of arrogance, insensitivity, ego, pride, rudeness, intolerance and impatience. Thus we need to counter-balance that with a re-flowering of art, traditions and cultures so as to make a person more civil, and artistically and culturally refined.

The next thrust to achieve Vision 2020 is in training, education and human resources development on the acquisition of 'soft skills', communications and linguistic skills, leadership, people skills, character training and development. This will further foster racial harmony, unity, understanding integration and mutual peaceful co-existence!

Like in any normal society, citizens need to be instilled with excellent mindsets, to be able to speak and write well, to be mindful/tactful/diplomatic/respectful of others with patience, tolerance and peaceful co-existence, and to be professional/effective/efficient and project our country as modern and progressive to all.

Ours is a plural nation that need to be integrated as one and inculcating/nurturing greater interest in a speaking/writing/reading culture and to master the refined gentle art of inter-human and inter-ethnic communications.

More so in the age of globalisation, all of us need to achive the competitive edge with modern, liberal and progressive thinking.

Quick Counter-Punch (QCP) is gentle and non-aggressive but defensive, firm and assertive. It is meant to encourage us to master excellent communication skills in all aspects of dealing with various people (local and international).

We are neither anglophiles nor xenophobic, doormats and servile, and do not apologise for who we are. East is east and West is west, and never the twain shall meet! The weight of the historical emotional baggage of a colonial mindset must be discarded so that we can travel and progress faster, and walk taller. We are grateful to our leaders (past and present) for enabling us to be proud both as citizens and as a nation.

It is not what you think. QCP does not involve physical fistfights but will liberate minds and souls, guide you to the top, show you how to be a top leader and an excellent communicator and conversationalist, negotiate with public relation (PR) skills, and how to be able to handle a cross-section of people effectively for personal and corporate success.

The art of strategic leadership, strategic thinking, art of dynamic speaking and writing are "soft" communications skills in managing, handling and dealing with human resources. As a refined art for personal and corporate success and survival in the real world, QCP is a verbal self-defence technique that will assist you to come up tops in understanding and communicating with people and be successful leaders in each your own right.

Among various key issues, it refers principally to the art of leadership and negotiation skills, power, politics and protocol for "People At The Top" (PATT), brain skills, strategic and lateral thinking, marketing warfare, strategic war plan in project management and business or even romancing people.

Success or failure lies in exemplary leadership, excellent communications skills and the power of spoken word!

Whether at boardrooms or business/project meetings, at the negotiating table, press interviews, or dealing with tough questions, when public speaking or in routine, mundane relationships with people, one has to master the refined art and intricacies of speaking and talking.

Through the skilful art of verbal communcations, we can be successful in dealing with friends, business associates or adversaries, at worst our harmful enemies. We need to be able to defend ourselves when verbally abused through the gentle art of verbal self-defence, and also master the art of speaking, which include dynamic public presentation.

The art of communication will influence people to our advantage and also protect us from being verbally abused and getting hurt.

QCP shows you the way to accrue power and leadership in doing and saying the right things with eloquence, at the right time and at any setting by understanding neuro-linguistics, transactional analysis and human nature, their needs, motives and intentions.

In dealing with rude, crass and obnoxious people, we must learn how to cut them off immediately with the right words through quick thinking and appropriate retorts. Quick gentle answers do turn away wrath. Be wary of people whose words are maliciously connived and calculated to demean, belittle or insult, couched in double connotations and subtle sarcasm and spoken with forked tongues like a serpent. The naive and gullible will surely fall prey. Charm can also be deceptive!

In business, projects or education, of all resources at our disposal, humans are our most important assets, yet people are so complex and capricious that it takes great skills in harnessing their talents, know-how and expertise for success.

Never fight forces but use and harness them. To be successful in life, both social and corporate, we need to know the importance of dealing with all kinds of people, including mostly the combative and battle-hardened type (jerks).

PATT or "People At The Top" are natural masters of the art of QCP! We must observe them and learn from them.

The soft, nimble tongue is the smallest member in our body but the most powerful and evil. A little spark can put an entire forest at fire. The tongue is like the steering wheel of the car for it controls the entire vehicle. Even wild horses can be tamed through its tongues. It is like a double-edged surgical scalpel - it can heal or injure.

We need to understand and manage all kinds of people for success in our various endeavours. By our words we will be judged, and by them we are equally condemned.

Words spoken out of kindness and compassion to inspire and motivate will uplift another person, and make inter-human encounters and verbal exchanges more pleasant and enjoyable. The world will be in a more beautiful place to live in.

Songs, poems, prose, symphony and music are the rythms of life and enhance the quality of your lifestyle!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Continuous Need to Upgrade Know-How

By Benedict Morais

Opportunities for career success spring up from time to time. To be able to make the best of these opportunities one must be ready and adequately prepared. Many successful business executives and professionals have benefited greatly by regularly topping up their knowledge base.

They understand all too well that those who carelessly neglect to regularly update their corporate and professional tool-kit will flounder in tomorrow’s business and professional environment.

Mainly self-development

Senior vice-president of communications at United Technologies Corporation, is spot on when he says:

“Terms like career development or leadership development can encourage wrong thinking. Career development is mainly self-development. No one is ‘developed’ as a leader or manager or professional. They developed themselves. They may require a corporate structure that’s open to development.”

One has, therefore, to look at continuing professional education and development at a life-long process. It is also a function of energy, dedication, ambition and intelligence.

Many believe that people who wish to develop can do so under almost circumstances. People who are not so inclined will not be developed under any circumstances.

Structured and unstructured development

A corporation or a professional institute for that matter can offer opportunities, chart courses, measure performance and open doors.

It is, however, up to the individual to make the best of the opportunities offered. Commitment to personal management and professional development will, of course, depend on workload, time management and personal career goals.

The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) for instance, believes that a professionally qualified management accountant should aim to devote a minimum of 32 hours per annum to structured development such as attending short courses, seminars and workshops.

Structured activities might also include undertaking academic study, utilizing open learning programmes, developing and delivering of training materials as a trainer, as well as participating in conferences, briefing and meetings.

CIMA also believes that a member should spend two to three hours per week on unstructured development, such as reading technical articles.

Keeping abreast of trends and developments

One should remember that technical competence alone will not suffice in the hectic and demanding business and professional world. The well-rounded business leader or professional is the kind of person who will be able to critically appraise business situations and cope with a range of problems and issues.

In addition, the potential corporate leader must develop the capacity to approach complex issues drawing on several strands of learning, coupled with an understanding of the wider business, economic and political environment.

Meeting the changing needs of employers

Those who wisely invest in continuing professional education, will stand to gain, in addition, the following competitive advantages:

* Enhance the added value of their qualifications.
* Add to their intellectual capital in a structured and effective way
* Meet the changing needs of corporate employers and a dynamic business environment

In planning and deciding on the type, range and frequency of continuing professional education, one should give due attention to the following factors:

* The stage you are now at in the management and professional hierarchy
* The need to build on cumulative knowledge and practical experience gained thus far
* The desirability to focus on specific key result areas

For this process to be truly effective, each person should carry out a realistic personal audit on his relative strengths and weaknesses. This will enable him to pick and choose those programmes or courses relevant to his personal needs at that particular point in his career.

An attitude of expectancy

In an increasingly competitive business and professional world, those with a positive mental attitude, high energy levels and infectious enthusiasm will stand out. Employers will turn to these individuals because, in addition to sheer competence, their pro-active approach to self-development has prepared them for increasing responsibilities and challenges. Furthermore, their approach to these matters has enabled them to enhance their competitiveness by strengthening their transferable competence.

These people have, in short, cultivated an attitude of expectancy. Achievers, in particular, have such an attitude. They do not grieve over failures, rather achievers look around the corner in anticipation of the good things that await them. They are able to open more doors, strike better deals and attract energetic and resourceful people to work with them. They also set higher standards and get others to help them meet these standards.

These winners realize that when combined with desire and preparation, expectancy produces hope. And as we are aware, hope makes all things possible. It is, therefore, simply an act of good judgement to invest in continuing professional education.

Those who are always learning are those who can ride the waves of change and who see a changing world as full of opportunities rather than dangers. They are the ones most likely to be the survivors in a time of discontinuity. They are also the enthusiasts and the architects of new ways and forms and ideas. If you want to change, try learning, or more precisely, if you want to
be in control of your change, take learning more seriously

- by Charles Handy
(The Age of Unreason, 1990)

Friday, April 24, 2009

On The Path to Success

In this age of constant changes, and sometimes at breakneck speed, can success in your career be guaranteed? It can be, when you take a look at the profile of consistent high performers.

In my interviews and meetings with high performers, I have discovered that they share these common traits:

1. Positive attitude and mindset
2. Extraordinary work ethic & personal traits
3. Excellent skills set
4. 360 degree on-the-job knowledge

What is wonderful about them is that you can control your level of achievement for each one. To begin with, you need a no-holds-barred analysis of your current self with regard to these categories. From here, you can then go on to identify the specific areas you need to work on to enhance your performances.

1. Positive attitude and mindset

You have probably heard this from many management gurus, However, have you really done anything about it? Involve others to help you derive an accurate analysis so you can balance up your perspective of your own attitude.

Your attitude can make or break you. In this new age of intensified competition and constant changes in the workplace, many of us are highly charged emotionally and constantly stretched. However, these ‘stresses’ may be simply overcome by tweaking our attitude and mindset.

First, recognize that a negative attitude is often the result of frustration. Having a positive attitude is not easy, especially when challenges mount one after another. But this is when a positive mind-set becomes invaluable. We can consciously develop ways of thinking that put us in control. Take time off everyday to review and reflect on the day’s doing; what we have done today and what we could have done in a different and more productive and effective way. Think thorough and map out your strategies so you are better ready to overcome it the next time these challenges come along. Such is the power of reflection. It does not matter if we fall, what is important is that we do not fall into the same hole twice.

It is okay to feel down; everyone does at one time or another. It is how you pick yourself up that can make all the difference in the world. Ask yourself: “What can I do that will be to my best advantage?”

2. Extraordinary work ethic

What exactly does “extraordinary” mean? I define it this way: Do whatever it takes to get the results you want and/or need without compromising your integrity or hurting others. Doing whatever it takes means a number of different things. It can mean:

* Starting earlier in the day
* Devoting time to plan and execute the task
* Scheduling time for important and urgent things as well those that are not urgent but important
* Following through on all projects
* Thinking of new ways to become more effective and efficient in the things you do
* Continuing to give your best efforts throughout the day, especially when you have had success early in the day
* Remembering and following the classic motto “I will do one more task”

3. Excellent skills set

Make learning a way of life. Plan your learning and carry them out. If you deem something as important, you will find the time to accomplish it. Most times when we go into a slump, the problem starts with getting away from the basics. Check and re-check your foundation skills, go back to the basics and review how you are performing from time to time. Do not wait till the end of the year and be shocked by your appraisals. Take inventory of your skills set and identify what else you need to learn to take you to the next level of performance.

Once you have determined your proficiencies in each area you can list the skills that need improvement. Discuss them with your manager and your colleagues. Get their recommendations on how to achieve excellence.

Utilise resources that will enable you to stay informed or learn new skills. Use books, audios, video, on-line services and distance-learning opportunities. There is a whole menu of learning tools available for use anywhere. Target at least one resource to keep you up-to-date and refresh on all aspects of your profession.

Continually successful professionals never think they know it all. They know that excellent foundational skills are critical to their success. They are also eager to learn from customers, associates, colleagues or self-directed initiatives and find ways to say sharp.

4. 360-degree on-the-job knowledge

You need and should know everything and anything about your position and your job. This includes knowing why your job was created, what it does and how it contributes to the overall ecology of your department and organization. When you know these foundational information, you can then analyse and work on crafting out an edge for yourself – what you can do to add value to the job and tasks that you currently do.

Surface knowledge just won’t cut it. Total knowledge gives you the solid foundation to not just perform, but perform at the peak or at the very least, perform at a level that is way above what you are doing now – Source: ST/ANN

Article by Dr Billy Kueek, a motivational speaker. He is the author of Unleash Your Potential

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Corporate Lesson

Corporate Lesson 1

A man is getting into the shower just as his wife is finishing up her shower when the door bell rings. After a few seconds of arguing over which one should go and answer the doorbell, the wife gives up, quickly wraps herself up in a towel and runs downstairs.

When she opens the door, there stands Bob, the next door neighbour. Before she says a word, Bob says, "I'll give you $800 to drop that towel. "After thinking for a moment, the woman drops her towel and stands naked in front of Bob. After a few seconds, Bob hands her $800 and leaves. Confused, but excited about her good fortune, the woman wraps back up in the towel and goes back upstairs. When she gets back to the bathroom,her husband asks from the shower, "Who was that?" "It was Bob the next door neighbour," she replies. "Great," the husband says, "did he say anything about the $800 he owes me?"

Management Lesson: If you share critical information pertaining to credit and risk in time with your stakeholders, you may be in a position to prevent avoidable exposure.

Corporate Lesson 2

A priest was driving along and saw a nun on the side of the road, he stopped and offered her a lift which she accepted. She got in and crossed her legs, forcing her gown to open and reveal a lovely leg. The priest had a look and nearly had an accident. After controlling the car, he stealthily slid his hand up her leg. The nun looked at him and immediately said, "Psalm 129."

The priest was flustered and apologized profusely. He forced himself to remove his hand. However, he was unable to remove his eyes from her leg. Further on while changing gear, he let his hand slide up her leg again. The nun once again said, "Psalm 129." Once again the priest apologized. "Sorry sister but the flesh is weak."

Arriving at the convent, the nun got out gave him a meaningful glance and went on her way. On his arrival at the church, the priest rushed to retrieve a bible and looked up Psalm 129. It read, "Go forth and seek, further up, you will find glory."

Management Lesson: Always be well informed in your job, or you might miss a great opportunity.

Corporate Lesson 3

A sales rep, an administration clerk and the manager are walking to lunch when they find an antique oil lamp. They rub it and a Genie comes out in a puff of smoke. The Genie says, "I usually only grant three wishes, so I'll give each of you just one.""Me first! Me first!" says the admin clerk "I want to be in the Bahamas, driving a speed boat, without a care in the world."
Poof! She's gone.

In astonishment, "Me next! Me next!" says the sales rep. "I want to be in Hawaii, relaxing on the beach with my personal masseuse, an endless supply of pina coladas and the love of my life." Poof! He's gone.

"OK, you're up," the Genie says to the manager. The manager says, "I want those two back in the office after lunch."

Management Lesson: Always let your boss have the first say.

Corporate Lesson 4

A crow was sitting on a tree, doing nothing all day. A small rabbit saw the crow, and asked him, "Can I also sit like you and do nothing all day long? "The crow answered: "Sure, why not." So, the rabbit sat on the ground below the crow, and rested. All of a sudden a fox appeared, jumped on the rabbit and ate it.

Management Lesson: To be sitting and doing nothing, you must be sitting very, very high up.

Corporate Lesson 5

A turkey was chatting with a bull. "I would love to be able to get to the top of that tree," sighed the turkey, but I haven't got the energy."Well, why don't you nibble on some of my droppings?" replied the bull.They're packed with nutrients." The turkey pecked at a lump of dung and found that it actually gave him enough strength to reach the lowest branch of the tree. The next day, after eating some more dung, he reached the second branch. Finally after a fourth night, there he was proudly perched at the top of the tree. Soon he was promptly spotted by a hunter, who shot the turkey out of the tree.

Management Lesson: Bull sh!t might get you to the top, but it won't keep you there.

Corporate Lesson 6

A little bird was flying south for the winter. It was so cold, the bird froze and fell to the ground in a large field. While it was lying there, a cow came by and dropped some dung on it. As the frozen bird lay there in the pile of cow dung, it began to realize how warm it was. The dung was actually thawing him out! He lay there all warm and happy, and soon began to sing for joy. A passing cat heard the bird singing and came to investigate. Following the sound, the cat discovered the bird under the pile of cow dung, and promptly dug him out and ate him.

Management Lessons:
a) Not everyone who shits on you is your enemy.
b) Not everyone who gets you out of shit is your friend.
c) And when you're in deep shit, it's best to keep your mouth shut. Never explain yourself. Your friends don't need it and your enemies won't believe it.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Man by the Window

Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room's only window.

The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation. And every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.

The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside. The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color of the rainbow. Grand old trees graced the landscape, and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.

As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene. One warm afternoon, the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn't hear the band, ­he could see it in his mind's eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words. Days and weeks passed.

One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.

Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the world outside. Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it for himself. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed. It faced a blank wall. The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window. The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall. She said that perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.

There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations. Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled.
-Source Unknown

"Happiness when shared, is doubled." It couldn't be much more simple than that, could it? Make it a goal to share your happiness with others - family, friends, and those around you. Each day, try to share some of your happiness with at least three other people. After all, doubling your happiness is a winning proposition for everyone!"

Girlfriend vs Wife

Dear (IT) Technical Support:

I am desperate for some help. I recently upgraded from Girlfriend 7.0 to Wife 1.0 and found that the new program began unexpected child processing and also took up a lot of space and valuable resources. This wasn't mentioned in the product brochure.

In addition Wife 1.0 installs itself into all other programs and launches during system initialisation where it monitors all other system activity. Applications such as Boys Night Out 2.5, and Golf 5.3 no longer run and crash the system whenever selected.

Attempting to operate Saturday Rugby 6.3 always fails but Saturday Shopping 7.1 runs instead. I cannot seem to keep Wife 1.0 in the background whilst attempting to run any of my favourite applications. I am thinking about going back to Girlfriend 7.0 but uninstall doesn't work on this program.

Can you please help.


Dear Joe,

This is a very common problem resulting from a basic misunderstanding. Many men upgrade from Girlfriend 7.0 to Wife 1.0 thinking that Wife 1.0 is merely a UTILITIES & ENTERTAINMENT program. Whereas Wife 1.0 is an OPERATING SYSTEM designed by its creator to run everything.

You are unlikely to be able to purge Wife 1.0 and still convert back to Girlfriend 7.0 as Wife 1.0 is not designed to do this and it is impossible to uninstall, delete or purge the program files from the system once installed. Some people have tried to install Girlfriend 8.0 or Wife 2.0 but have ended up with even more problems. (See in manual under alimony/Child Support and Solicitors Fees.

Having Wife 1.0 installed myself I recommend you keep it installed and deal with the difficulties as best you can. When any faults or problems occur, whatever you think has caused them, you must run the C: \I APOLOGISE program and avoid attempting to use the *Esc-key. It may be necessary to run C:\ I APOLOGISE a number of times but hopefully eventually the operating system will return to normal. Wife 1.0 although a very high maintenance program but can be very rewarding. To get the most out of it consider buying additional software such as Flowers 2.0 and Chocolates 5.0.

Do not under any circumstances install Secretary (Short Skirt version) as this is not a supported application for Wife 1.0 and the system will almost certainly crash.

Best of luck.

Tech Support

What should I do to marry a rich guy

A young and pretty lady posted this on a popular forum:

I'm going to be honest of what I'm going to say here. I'm 25 this year. I'm very pretty, have style and good taste. I wish to marry a guy with $500k annual salary or above. You might say that I'm greedy, but an annual salary of $1M is considered only as middle class in New York. My reguirement is not high.

Is there anyone in this forum who has an income of $500k annual salary? Are you all married? I wanted to ask: what should I do to marry rich persons like you? Among those I've dated, the richest is $250k annual income, and it seems that this is my upper limit. If someone is going to move into high cost residential area on the west of New York City Garden (?), $250k annual income is not enough. I'm here humbly to ask a few questions:

1) Where do most rich bachelors hang out? (Please list down the names and addresses of bars, restaurant, gym)
2) Which age group should I target?
3) Why most wives of the riches is only average-looking? I've met a few girls who doesn't have looks and are not interesting, but they are able to marry rich guys
4) How do you decide who can be your wife, and who can ony be your girlfriend? (my target now is to get married)

Ms Pretty

Awesome reply:

Dear Ms Pretty,

I have read you post with great interest. Guess there are lots of girls out there who have similar questions like yours. Please allow me to analyse your situation as professional investor. My annual income is more than $500k, which meets your requirement, so I hope everyone believes that I'm not wasting time here.

From the standpoint of a business person, it is bad decision to marry you. The answer is very simple, so let me explain. Put the details aside, what you're trying to do is an exchange of "beauty" and "money". Person A provide beauty, and Person B pays for it, fair and square. However, there's a deadly problem here, your beauty will fade, but my money will not be gone without any good reason. The fact is , my income might increase from year to year, but you can't be prettier year after year. Hence from the viewpoint of economics, I am an appreciation asset, and you are a depreciation asset. It's not just normal depreciation, but exponential depreciation. If that is your only asset, your value will be much worried 10 years later.

By the terms we use in Wall Street, every trading has a position, dating with you is also a "trading position". If the trade value dropped, we will sell it and it is not a good idea to keep it for long term - same goes with the marriage that you wanted. It might be cruel to say this, but in order to make a wiser decision, any assets with great depreciation value will be sold or "leased". Anyone with over $500k annual income is not a fool; we would only date you, but will not marry you.

I would advice that you forget looking for any clues to marry a rich guy. And by the way, you could make yourself to become a rich person with $500k annual income. This has better chance than finding a rich fool.

Hope this reply helps. If you are interested in "leasing" services, do contact me....

J.P. Morgan

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

What the Modern Woman Wants

By Amanda Chong Wei-Zhen

The old woman sat in the backseat of the magenta convertible as it careened down the highway, clutching tightly to the plastic bag on her lap, afraid it may be kidnapped by the wind. She was not used to such speed, with trembling hands, she pulled the seatbelt tighter but was careful not to touch the patent leather seats with her callused fingers, her daughter had warned her not to dirty it, 'Fingerprints show very clearly on white, Ma."

Her daughter, Bee Choo, was driving and talking on her sleek silver, mobile phone using big words the old woman could barely understand.
'Finance' 'Liquidation' 'Assets' 'Investment'...Her voice was crisp and important and had an unfamiliar lilt to it. Her Bee Choo sounded like one of those foreign girls on television. She was speaking in an American accent. The old lady clucked her tongue in disapproval.

'I absolutely cannot have this. We have to sell!'

Her daughter exclaimed agitatedly as she stepped on the accelerator; her perfectly manicured fingernails gripping onto the steering wheel in irritation.

'I can't deal with this anymore!' she yelled as she clicked the phone shut and hurled it angrily toward the backseat. The mobile phone hit the old woman on the forehead and nestled soundlessly into her lap. She calmly picked it up and handed it to her daughter.

'Sorry, Ma,' she said, losing the American pretence and switching to Mandarin. 'I have a big client in America. There have been a lot of problems.' The old lady nodded knowingly. Her daughter was big and important. Bee Choo stared at her mother from the rear view window, wondering what she was thinking. Her mother's wrinkled countenance always carried the same cryptic look.

The phone began to ring again, an artificially cheerful digital tune, which broke the awkward silence.

'Hello, Beatrice! Yes, this is Elaine.' Elaine. The old woman cringed. I didn't name her Elaine. She remembered her daughter telling her, how an English name was very important for 'networking'. Chinese ones being easily forgotten.

'Oh no, I can't see you for lunch today. I have to take the ancient relic to the temple for her weird daily prayer ritual.'

Ancient Relic. The old woman understood perfectly it was referring to her. Her daughter always assumed that her mother's silence meant she did not comprehend.

'Yes, I know! My car seats will be reeking of joss sticks!'

The old woman pursed her lips tightly, her hands gripping her plastic bag in defence. The car curved somoothly into the temple courtyard. It looked almost garish next to the dull sheen of the ageing temple's roof. The old woman got out of the back seat, and made her unhurried way to the main hall. Her daughther stepped out of the car in her business suit and stilettos and reapplied her lipstick as she made her brisk way to her mother's side.

'Ma, I'll wait outside. I have an important phone call to make,' she said, not bothering to hide her disgust at the pungent fumes of incense.

The old lady hobbled into the temple hall and lit a joss stick, she knelt down solemnly and whispered her now familiar daily prayer to the Gods.

Thank you God of the Sky, you have given my daughter luck all these years. Everything I prayed for, you have given her. She has everything a young woman in this world could possibly want. She has a big house with a swimming pool, a maid to help her, as she is too clumsy to sew or cook. Her love life has been blessed; she is engaged to a rich and handsome angmoh man. Her company is now the top financial firm and even men listen to what she says. She lives the perfect life. You have given her everything except happiness. I ask that the gods be merciful to her even if she has lost her roots while reaping the harvest of success.

What you see is not true, she is a filial daughter to me. She gives me a room in the big house and provides well for me. She is rude to me only because I affect her happiness, young woman does not want to be hindered by her old mother. It is my fault.

The old lady prayed so hard that tears welled up in her eyes. Finally, with her head bowed in reverance, she planted the half-burnt joss stick into an urn of smouldering ashes. She bowed once more.

The old lady had been praying for her daughter for thirty-two years. When her stomach was round like melon, she came ot the temple and prayed that it was a son. Then the time was ripe and the baby slipped out of her womb, bawling and adorable with fat thighs and pink cheeks, but unmistakably, a girl. Her husband had kicked and punched her for producing a useless baby, who could not work or carry the family name.

Still the woman returned to the temple with her new-born girl tied to her waist in a sarong and prayed that her daughter would grow up and have everything she ever wanted. Her husband left her and she prayed that her daughter would never have to depend on a man.

She prayed every day that her daughter would be a great woman, the woman that she, meek and uneducated, could never become. A woman with nengkan; the ability to do anything she set her mind to. A woman who commanded respect in the hearts of men. When she opened her mouth to speak, precious pearls would fall out and men would listen.

She will not be like me, the woman prayed as she watched her daughter grow up and drift away from her, speaking a language she scarcely understood. She watched her daughter transform from a quiet girl, to one who openly defied her, calling her laotu; old-fashioned. She wanted her mother to be 'modern', a word so new there was no Chinese word for it.

Now her daughter was too clever for her and the old woman wondered why she had prayed like that. The gods had been faithful to her persistent prayer, but the wealth and success that poured forth so richly had been buried the girl's roots and now she stood, faceless, with no identity, bound to the soil of her ancestors by only a string of origami banknotes.

Her daughter had forgotten her mother's values. Her wants were so ephemeral; that of a modern woman. Power, Wealth, access to the best fashion boutiques, and yet her daughter had not found true happiness. The old woman knew that you could find happiness with much less. When her daughter left the earth everything she had would count for nothing. People would look to her legacy and say that she was a great woman, but she would be forgotten once the wind blows over, like the ashes of burnt paper convertibles and mansions.

The old woman wished she could go back and erase all her big hopes and prayers for her daughter; now she had only one want; That her daughter be happy. She looked out of the temple gate. She saw her daughter speaking on the phone, her brow furrowed with anger and worry. Being at the top is not good, the woman thought, there is only one way to go from there - down.

The old woman carefully unfolded the plastic bag and spread out a packet of beehoon in front of the altar. Her daughter often mocked her for worshipping porcelain Gods. How could she pray to them so faithfully and expect pieces of ceramic to fly to the aid? But her daughter had her own gods too, idols of wealth, success and power that she was enslaved to and worshipped every day of her life.

Every day was a quest for the idols, and the idols she worshipped counted for nothing in eternity. All the wants her daughter had would slowly suck the life out of her and leave her, an empty soulless shell at the altar.

The old lady watched her joss stick. The dull heat had left a teetering gray stem that was on the danger of collapsing. Modern woman nowadays, the old lady sighed in resignation, as she bowed to the east one final time to end her ritual. Modern woman nowadays want so much that they lose their souls and wonder why they cannot find it.

Her joss stick disintegrated into a soft grey powder. She met her daughter outside the temple, the same look of worry and frustration was etched on her daughter's face. An empty expression, as if she was ploughing through the soil of her wants looking for the one thing that would sow the seeds of happiness.

They climbed into the convertible in silence and her daughter drove along the highway, this time not as fast as she had done before.

'Ma,' Bee Choo finally said. 'I don't know how to put this. Mark and I have been talking about it and we plan to move out of the big house. The property market is good now, and we managed to get a buyer willing to pay seven million for it. We decided we'd prefer a cosier penthouse apartment instead. We found a perfect one in Orchard Road. Once we move in to our apartment we plan to get rid of the maid, so we can have moer space to ourselves...'

The old woman nodded knowingly. Bee Choo swallowed hard. 'We'd get someone to come in to do the housework and we can eat out-but once the maid is gone, there won't be anyone to look after you. You will be awfully lonely at home and, besides that, the apartment is rather small. There won't be space. We thought about it for a long time, and we decided the best thing for you is if you moved to a Home. There's one near Hougang - it's a Christian home, a very nice one.'

The old woman did not raise an eyebrow.

'I've been there, the matron is willing to take you in. It's beautiful with gardens and lots of old people to keep you company! I hardly have time for you, you'd be happier there.'

'You'd be happier there, really.' Her daughter repeated as if to affirm herself. This time the old woman had no plastic bag of food offerings to cling tightly to; she bit her lip and fastened the seat belt, as if it would protect her from a daughter who did not want her anymore. She sunk deep into the leather seat, letting her shoulders sag, and her fingers trace the white seat.

'Ma?' her daughter asked, searching the rear view window for her mother. 'Is everything okay?' What had to be done, had to be done. 'Yes,' she said firmly, louder than she intended, 'if it will make you happy,' she added more quietly.

'It's for you, Ma! You'll be happier there. You can move there tomorrow, I already got the maid to pack your things.' Elaine said triumphantly, mentally ticking yet another item off her agenda.

'I knew everything would be fine.' Elaine smile widely; she felt liberated. Perhaps getting rid of her mother would make her happier. She had thought about it. It seemed the only hindrance in her pursuit of happiness. She was happy now. She had everything a modern woman ever wanted; Money, Status, Career, Love, Power and now, Freedom, without her mother and her old-fashioned ways to weigh her down...

Yes, she was free. Her phone buzzed urgently, she picked it up and read the message, still beaming from ear to ear. 'Stocks 10% increase!'

Yes, things were definitely beginning to look up for her...And while searching for the meaning of life in the luminance of her hand phone screen, the old woman in the back seat became invisible, and she did not see the tears.

About the writer
Amanda Chong is a 15-year old Singaporean, competing against 16- to 18-year old, has won the top prize in a writing contest that drew 5,300 entries from 52 countries. In the annual Commonwealth Essay Competition, Amanda Chong of Raffles Girls' School (Secondary) chose to compete in the older category and won with a piece of the restlessness of modern life.

Her short story, titled What the Modern Woman Wants, focused on the conflict in values between an old lady and her independent-minded daughter. 'Through my story, I attempted to convey the unique East-versus-West struggles and generation gaps that I felt were characteristic of young people in my country,' Amanda, who likes drama, history and literature and wants to become a lawyer and a politician.

Chief examiner Charles Kemp called her piece a 'powerfully moving and ironical critique of modern restlessness and its potentially cruel consequences'. The writing is fluent and assured, with excellent use of dialogue.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Agenda for Change

We live in a time of paradox, contradiction, opportunity, and above all CHANGE.

To the fearful, change is threatening because they worry that things may get worse. To the hopeful, change is encouraging because they feel things may get better. To those who have confidence in themselves, CHANGE is a STIMULUS because they believe one person can make a difference and influence what goes on around them. These people are the DOERS and the MOTIVATORS.

- Getting the Best Out of Yourself and Others