Saturday, March 14, 2009

Outlier - The story of Success


Sorry to all those readers who had long missed the new book review on my blog. I've been busy with the preparing stuff for the new members of the family. As I wait for the birth of my first baby, I would like to write a blog on an audiobook review of a title by Malcolm Gladwell called Outliers. Hopefully it won't be long before I get a chance again to write other titles that I've come across that interest me.

To those who are unfamiliar with the term, outlier is a mathematical term where a data resides numerically distant from the rest of the normal distribution of the samples. Sometimes we think that a successful person is an outlier because it just stand out of the ordinary and they didn't need to put some effort on it. The title is very intriguing and interesting. It littered with stories upon stories that he had gathered from numerous sources on successful people. Some old and some new. The way it was beautifully narrated in each chapter makes you going back for more. Let me briefly summarize the book to trigger the interest of the reader who would like to know more about the book.

The story of a migrating community from Italy to the States. This close knitted community had lower chances of heart disease compared to other population in the States. Initially, they thought that it was due to their gene but once those members move out from the community, they subjected to the normal heart disease of those people living in the same area. The author then described that it was due to factor of living 3 generations under the roof with their religious as their center of the community brings certain health benefits to their residents.

Chapter 1 : The Matthew Effect
In normal term, the Matthew effect just meant the Rich get richer while the Poor get poorer. In this book, he talks about the accumulation of advantages for certain individuals as he/she progress on in life. First, he guides you thru the birth of the ice hockey players in Canada was resulted from the selection of player at the age of 10 with the cutoff period of 1st January. He observed more ice hockey player born on the 1st quarter of the year than the rest of the year. The author suggest that it was due to the early matuarity advantage by those player selected will add up to more hours of practice and that in return will let them accumulate more skill to become a greater player. To get more talents out from the player selection, the author suggested to have different cutoff period to even out the chance or only give special treatment after those physical advantage even out (perhaps after age of 15)

Chapter 2 : The 10 000 hours rule
Do you know what all Bill Gates (Founder of Microsoft), Bill Joy (Founder of Sun) and The Beatles (Very successful band in the 60s) have in common ? They have each accumulate 10 000 hours (roughly ten years of multiple hours of practice (3 or so on average) every single day) of practice before becoming successful in their field. According to a study conducted by Dr. Anders Ericsson on the violin players in Berlin, he found out that those successful violinist have each put on at least 10 000 hours of deliberate practice compared those mediocre player who destined to be music teacher etc. If you think those lucky people who are expert in their field are just plain genius, you may be dead wrong. A lot of study after study from Grandmaster chess player, successful entrepreneur etc have each put long hours in their field before becoming the master of their field. Sometimes it just didn't cross our mind that the hours they put in was actually essential on their field. I have known this idea as well from Brian Tracy (Successful motivator) who encourage us to put few hours a day in the field of your interest and you'll be expert of the field.
These chapter details a lot of insider story of those info about Bill Gates, Bill Joy and The Beatles that I've yet to heard before. Do you know The Beatles played in Hamburg before ? or did you know Bill Joy was actually written lots of our internet software ? Read this chapter to find more about them. The author didn't stop there by just telling us their 10 000 hours practice but also their accumulated advantages and chances given to them in their ways towards succcess. Another factor the author cites is that certain industry have their lucky birth year that bring advantage what an ice hockey player had if he were born near January 1st. Those eras are 1951-55 for the computer industry. The great 19th century wealth of John D Rockefeller, JP Morgan in the 1830s

Chapter 3: Trouble with the genius Part 1
This chapter started with the story of Chris Langan. Chris was having an IQ of 190 in certain study but in real life he didn't have a life of success that one who belief he would have. The author also talks about another study conducted by Lewis Terman on the Genetic study of Genius. A study was conducted on the correlation between life of those high IQ person and their success. In the end there was no conclusion that an high IQ person will end up more successful achievement in life. The author mention that one just have to be good enough to succeed. In explaining this, it talks about threshold effect. Just like the cutoff scores for university for example, once you've met with the minimum requirement, you should be considered in the selection. If all the genius were to group together, their intelligence doesn't really make a difference. From my opinion, that's why Hitler is bound to fail when he wanted to create a more superior race by eugenics.

Chapter 4: Trouble with the genius Part 2
This chapter continues with the story on Chris where oppurtunity makes so much different from Robbert Oppenheimer. Sometimes, besides analytical intelligence (IQ), we need to be supplemented by social intelligence in our life. The author also touch about how upbringing of the family in comparison between middle class (assertive) & poor class (intimidated by authority) makes a difference towards the shaping of behaviour of individuals.

Chapter 5: The 3 lessons of Joe Flom
The chapter started with life story of a lawyer called Joe Flom and how he build into the largest lawyer firm in the world. The author relates this story with 3 essential lessons of having in the right demographic luck (being born in the right time and the right place), culture (being a jewish) and work ethics (parents who worked hard and right mindset to succeed). We need to ask ourselves is our work fulfilling ? To be in the meaningful work is one of the successful traits.

Chapter 6: Haarlen, Kentucky
This chapter relates to how cultural heritage of the Southern states of Kentucky brought up to the certain traits of society culture there. The story details how lifelihood between a herdsmen (individualism) compared to farmer (more community based). When reputation are at stake, southern people tends to protect their pride compared to the other state. There was also another study on how students behave when intimidated. It just like how Chinese behave differently compared to Indian or the Malays. Because of the cultural upbringing, we have certain traits. We become such a way because of the accumulation of culture and environment we live along the way that passed on to our gene I guess.

Chapter 7: The Ethnic Theory of Plane Crashes
The story provides detail second by second recreation of some gruesome aircraft crashes. To those who fear about aircraft crash story, consider yourself warned. Those analysis of the airline crash of Korean Airline provides some evidence on how culture and ethnic did influence the pilot and co-pilot behaviour and communication. The issue with Korean Airline was solve by bringing changes to their pilot training and communications (Using English on the pilot communication) method. This chapter also discussed on some of the study on the Power Distance Index (PDI) by Hofstede bring some clue on how cultural affect the score of PDI.

Chapter 8: Rice Paddies and Math Tests
This chapter I would think that will be the most controversial among all the chapter I've read in this book. The author made the comparison between chinese farmers (asian culture) and other farmers of the world (Europe, Russian etc) and deduce that because of their hard work, skills of planting paddy and other factor influence how good the score of the math results scored by the students of their country who have history of rice paddy farmer (China, Japan, South Korea and Singapore). I think it's too simplistic to derive that math result by having forefathers being a rice paddy farmer. Other advantage on math by the chinese includes having lower syllable for a number compared to other language and in return better memory retention. The chinese farmer in general have worked 3000 hour a year in working their field. Working hard was a trait they suppose to do. The author also mentioned being good at math is rooted in deep by cultural legacy. I like the author statement of success is a function of persistence doggedness & willingess to work hard to make sense of something.

Chapter 9 : Marita’s Bargain
This chapter talks about the story of Marita's in a Kipp academy in the Bronx. The school had extended school hours that emulating some of the hardworking ethics of rice farmer culture to school. The story of Marita's success is some sort of letting go of cultural legacy and embracing new one. Some successful asian country student school days are longer. Like Japan have 249 days, South Korea have 220 days. One of the meaningful observation was the comparison of poor income compared to middle/upper income on the use of time during summer vacation. Higher income group will allow their children to spend on something meaningful like museum visit, school camp. They engaged in concerted cultivation in bringing the children to be actively engaged. Compared to the poor income family, the children just spend it on watching TV etc. This accumulation of learning will snowball as the children aged to adult.

Epilogue : Story of Malcolm parents break of success in Jamaica
The final chapter talks about Malcolm mother story and her chances of education to London. He mentioned that what he is now was the accumulation of advantages along the way that shaped him. In conclusion the author mentioned that a successful person is not an outlier at all. The book ended by saying success is made of history, community, cultural, some deserved, some not, some earned and some just plain lucky.

Some interesting remark on success
1. Being successful is given oppurtunity and seize it. It's not by just being genius.
2. We squander talent when we ignore some of the subtle things in life
3. Sometimes it's just a chance towards a meaningful work
4. Success follow predictable course

My observation on success traits mentioned in the book
1. Hardwork like 10 000 hours and never give up easily
2. Lucky break - Year, date of month, generation etc
3. Cultural legacy - Culture of hardwork etc
4. Family upbringing - how family behave/act to you
5. Oppurtunity/chance - towards the field you're in

What I like about the book and how can it relate to my side
1. The story was told in such a wonderful way and you tend to look for more on the next chapter
2. Simple analogy used on the book that makes it easy to understand and you want to put on practice
3. Summary of certain culture and studies of success without you going thru the research yourself. Who could have learn about Matthew effect, PDI etc

1. Some of the chapter may be controversial like chapter 8. Does that meant good at math because my previous generation was a paddy farmer ?
2. If I have certain culture legacy, does that meant we can't be more of something else

All in all, I give this book a 9 out of 10. One of the must read book if you want to know more about success.

For more Outliers review of other sources you can read it below,,20239689,00.html

Until then, lifelong learning everyone...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Economic Naturalist - Why Economics Explains Almost Everything

Wow ! Another books about economics yet again ! I guess this is my 3rd title I've read after Freakanomics and The Undercover Economics. Both are equally good and makes me understand about how so much thing are related to economics than I initially thought. Why pick up this book you may ask ? I guess is the questions that were mentioned on the title of the book. As curiosity kills a cat, I decided to pick up the book from the MPH warehouse sales last weekend.

I was intrigued ! I've finished the book within 3 days ! What a great read. The book satisfy a lot about life interesting trivia from aluminum cans to wedding dress.

Unlike Freakanomics where incentive was one of the key themes, this book is more balanced in covering the broad topics in economics. The book is structured mostly via collection of Q & A with additional note from the author to reinforce the subject. All those questions is a story by itself. Unlike Freakanomics which only explains only few of the interesting story, there's bound to be a lot of story you can find out here. The book is a compilation of essays submitted by the student of Robert H Frank while he's teaching economics course in the university.

Main theme
1. Economics of product design - Cost/Benefit trade off in can, milk carton, men/women clothing
2. Economics of supply and demand - How things may sold cheaper than the cost to produce
3. Economics of wages/salary - Income inequality in gender to higher price of doing same thing in different states
4. Economics of discount pricing - How company adopt different sale price in attracting different crowd of people to make maximum profit. Examples include bus fare, airline tickets, concert tickets to Black Apple laptop.
5. The divergence of social and self interest (Economics arms race) - How animals/females do more exaggerating thing to get more attention.
6. Ownership Myth - Why different ownership of goods, animals, land etc have particular effect on you
7. Market trend - How subtle signal on product may affect the behaviour of your action in buy/spend/sell goods
8. International economics - How different country and culture have differences towards goods
9. Psychology and economics in action - How psychology actually affect our attitudes towards economics even though the benefit outstrip the logic.
10. Economics of personal relationship - How relationship from courting to marriage actually have economic scene behind it.

Interesting economics principle
No cash on the table - Price of gold in the two cities generally will not differ by more than the cost of shipping the stuff from one to the other

All in all the book is fun to read and easy to understand. The book appeals to those who would like to understand more about economics without getting into nitty gritty detail of graphs and formulas. I would like to warn people out there that reading this book may cause you to fall in love to economics even though the course taught in university was not at all interesting as this. Consider yourself warned on this !I'm sure you'll be starting to share those story inside to your family, friends and your love ones. I rate this book a 8.5 out of 10.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Adventure Capitalist - Jim Rogers


I'm back with another audiobook review. Just finished listening to the audiobook today. It's a short review, so just bear with me on this. The title talk about Jim Rogers who recently advocating commodities as a very viable investment to have. He and Paige start on a journey that took 3 years to complete beginning on 1999. That in return create a Guinness World Record for traveling around the world. He explains why he select Mercedes Benz as a vehicle of choice around the world. He explained that in the poorest/corrupted of nations, you'll definitely found a Mercedes dealer around. With that, he can easily fix the vehicle in the harshest conditions in the world.

He started his journey in Iceland and started to travelled to Europe and to Central Asia and crossing to Russia before embarking to Africa. From there he ventured to Middle East then to India and South East Asia. Then he goes to Australia/New Zealand before heading to Southern America and finally back to his hometown.

The book is a very good introduction about the various country around the world. Since this book was written before The World is Flat, it's a very good read then to understand about how each country work

Some interesting fact
1. Country in Ethiopia that heavily relied on aid from other nations simply because the grain and clothing had gotten there easily and people tends relied on it. This in return cause systematic failure to the farmer and tailor of the country. There's no way for the farmer or the tailor to sell their goods cheaper than those that they get for FREE ! Be very aware of the aid that you've donated for it may ruined a country !
2. When country from former colonist print their money easily without any monetary control (i.e. peg obligations with their previous colonist), this will set their country into a condition where money will become invaluable and inflation will be high
3. There's 2 country in Africa that was called Congo which the author was tricked upon when processed his visa. One being Republic of the Congo and the other one Democratic Republic of the Congo (commonly called Zaire)
4. In Mongolia, country can become very high tech when they can leapfrog the technology for Telecommunications for example (From copper telephone line to fibre optics) without the burden of previous technology

Jim do advocate the potential commodity boom in this book when he compared the last 100 years history. He highlighted that in going to stock market, the return in certain period during 1966-1976 for example is very dismal. One have to pick the right company (He cited the railroad, radio and car industry as an example) when lots of company had gone under.

He also commented about the previous US Governor - Alan Greenspan on his act for Long Term Capital Management and reducing interest rate during the 2001 - 02 that may cause housing bubble. True enough, in America the headlines of subprime mortgage had come up frequently over the past few months.

All in all, the title is easy to understand and fun to listen. I would give a 7.5 out of 10. The title is a little bit dated (Published in 2004). It would be very relevant if it was read by 2004/5 to understand about globalization.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Getting Things Done - David Allen


I have been procrastinating in writing blog lately. Especially it's been a while since my last post. I sincerely apologized about this. Considering the number of events unfolding in my life at this moment, I hope you all can forgive me and wait a little bit longer for me in releasing those review.

I would say this book is THE book for the art of time management. Perhaps you may heard about Stephen Covey's book titled "First Things First" and many other time management title. The book highlights the importance of urgent and important. As we all know, things is not as black and white in most case. It can be gray at times and therefore I think the way David Allen handled it is much better.

Here are some of the important contents

Managing Commitment
1. It's in your mind. Anything you can't finished must be captured in a system outside your mind. You need to regularly search and sort through
2. Clarify your commitment and decide what to do. Make progress towards fulfilling it
3. Once you've decided on all the actions you need to take, you must keep reminders of them organized in a system you review regularly

Key to managing stuff is managing your actions

Getting it out of your head - Whenever possible, do not use your mind as the place to store your things to do/list/commitment. Instead commit to a system that you can rely 100% upon . That way, you can freed up your mind to do more creative/productive thing.

5 stages of mastering workflow
1. Collect
2. Process
3. Organize
4. Review - Do that once a week preferably before start of the week
5. Do
Important thing is to make sure everything are collected, processed, action and reviewed regularly.

Next Action

Any longer than 2 minute, nondelegatable action you have identified and to be tracked . To tracked that, you put it in the "Next Action" (NA). If you have a lots of NA, it's best to list that in categories like @Call, @Shopping etc.

6 level model for reviewing your own work
In order to know your priorities are, you have 6 different perspective what define that.
50 000+ feet : Life - Big picture view. The primary purpose for anything provides the core definition of what it's work really is. All the goals, visions, objectives, projects and actions derive from this.
40 000 feet : 3 - 5 year vision - Think about bigger categories i.e. long term career, family and financial goals. Decisions at this altitude could easily change what your work might look like on many levels
30 000 feet : 1 - 2 year goals - Stage where meeting the goals and objective of your job require a shift in emphasis of your job focus, with new areas of responsibility emerging
20 000 feet : Areas of responsibility - These are the key areas within which you want to achieve results and maintain standards
10 000 feet : Current projects - relatively short term outcomes you want to achieve
Runway: Current actions - list of all your action you take

Common categories of Action Reminders

In defining on next action categories, there's few that we are usually
1. @Calls
2. @Computer
3. @Errand
4. @Office - reminder for office action i.e. photostating, claims
5. @Home
6. @Agenda - People meet up or meeting action item
7. @Review - document read up or research

Organizing via E-mail systems
1. Have folder that starts with - or @ for action, waiting for, pending etc
2. Have e-mail you've sent out to be copied to certain folder for follow up
3. Getting your Inbox empty

Tickler File

The tickler file is a file folder consists of 43 sub folder (1-31 and Jan-Dec). It's a 3D version of a calendar. By having this, you can automatically remind yourself by putting the item to specific future month or the day within the month and able to track your stuff. Say for example you have a bill to be paid at 15th this month and the current day is 8th, then when 15th arrived, you can look at that 15th folder and know that you have bill to be paid.

Weekly Review
1. It's an activity to empty your head every week
2. You make a few hours of block time to review all those next actions, waiting for, someday/maybe, projects etc.

Mind like water
In time management, once you mastered this, you can react to anything that throw at you and respond accordingly, you've mastered the art of time management. Just like the water respond to a pebble thrown to it.

In essence, David is a big proponent of 2 minute rule. If you can finish a task within that limit, by all means complete that. If not, delegate, defer or drop it.

For those who know about Getting Things Done, it was called as GTD. There's a lot of fan out there supporting the GTD movement namely Yahoo groups. Even David himself have a portal on the GTD information where he regularly releases audio, short notes etc on personal productivity.

All in all, I would give 8.5 out of 10 for this book. The book gives a good overview on time management. It's a concept that's workable and useful to all executive out there. I recommend this to everyone who think that time is not enough and you seems to be busy all the time.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Being Happy - Andrew Matthews


It's another round of book review of a classic self help handbook. The book is called Being Happy. Can anyone wondered why doesn't called it Be Happy ? Perhaps the book is about action and not just theory ? I guess so. The book was the international bestseller first introduced in 1988. The version that I've bought is the 57th reprint by the printer. Based on the number of reprints, you know how bestselling the book be.

The book have 6 chapters with various topics in improving your confidence and security. There were a lot of illustrations accompanying each topic drawn by the author. On each topic, there was a summary called nutshells for you to capture the gist of it.

Some important nutshells

Patterns - be positive on yourself and condition
Self image - Think healthy, happy thoughts. Decide to be healthy, be gentle on yourself. Accept and love and acknowledge yourself about what you are (The decision you've done is the best available by yourself)
Pain - cause us to contemplate (change direction)
We become a part of our everyday world - consider seriously changing what surrounds you to be something you want to be
Prosperity - Money mindset that prevents us from becoming wealthy (More of this can be found from Millionaire's Mindset title)

Living in the now
Live, Now - Present moment is the only time you have. Live in the now.
Waiting for things - jump into every oppurtunity.
Forgiveness - Blaming and feeling guilty are equally dangerous and destructive. You may hiding something within yourself and not curing it
Happiness - Can be hard work, you've got to hang on to your treasures and throw out the garbage. Choose what you see and choose what you think.
Dealing with depression - Disaster won't be disastrous if we tackle them one at a time.
Humor - Life is not THAT serious. Let's take humor more seriously
We gravitate in the direction of our dominant thoughts - Law of attraction before THE SECRET

Your mind
Your Subconscious - Daily, we create programmes in subconscious mind. Use like what all successful and happy people people used. If you want to be wealthy, picture those success and prosperity of the ideal result.
Imagination - Exercise your imagination just like your body to have a sharp/witty mind
Mental rehearsal - Create pattern on brain cell for perfect performance. Imagine the best result you want. Make a habit of refining your abilities through imagination.
We get what we expect - You're in control. You decide what you think, put in your mind and what you get back
Listen to those whose lives are working - Mind is like magnet. Continue to dwell on What you want and you'll achieve it. Seen this in most Jack Canfield book
The power of words - Our words affect how we think and how we feel. What we think affect what we say and how we feel and How we feel influences what we say and how we think. It's a vicious cycle and learn to interrupt that
An attitude of gratitude - Our attention is on what we want. As we set our living grateful on what we have, more good will be coming

Goals - Goals are the vehicles whereby we can become someone more than we already are
Limitations - Our limitations are our responsibilities
Problems - It stretches us. Adversity reveals genius while prosperity conceals it.
Mistakes - Mistakes are not really mistakes. It's part of the learning process. Shame is never in having failed, worse is when not even tried
The law of sow and reap - Universe is fair and just. We get back from life only what we put into it.
Risk - We have a choice. It's between really living or merely existing. Life is a risk. So let's get out and face it
Commitment - To get whatever you want - do whatever it takes
Effort - Embrace change. Unless you change how you are, you'll always have what you've got. For things to get better, we have to get better. Today will be much like yesterday unless we put in that effort. Losing hurts, but it hurts even more when you realize that you haven't done your best.
Persistence - For every outstanding achievement, persistence is a common ingredient.
Ask - Getting what you want is having the conviction that you are worth it. One of the best ways to develop your sense of worth is to ASK
Reasons or results - You have but one life to lead. Don't bring your reasons of not doing it to grave

Learning from nature
Children - spend time with children. Learn more about laughter, spontaneity, curiosity, acceptance, resilience, trust, determination and your imagination. They are there to teach us
Keep moving - Happiness and fulfillment in activity. Get involved !
Use it or lose it - Law of use is wonderful, it gives us incentive to practice. Unless we use it, we may not be keeping it
Flow - Go with the flow. Take time off and relax
Release - To create healthy flow, learn to let go things you don't want, won't use and don't need.
How much do we understand - We don't understand everything. If we sometime accept and use what we have, we do ourselves enormous favour. Let's go after the results.

Some points that touch me a lot
1. Law of attraction - This book have a lot of it ! Sometimes I didn't know why when people worry about something and then it'll happen. It's because your mind had sent out the signal and attract those events to you. I'm more careful not to send out those negative energy out
2. Money mindset - When you think about how your parents/friends tell you that money is evil or money don't grow on trees whatever, you associated it with the wrong perception. Instead, think of abundance and think of when you're rich, you can help more people
3. Forgiving others - Sometimes when you forgive your enemy or your foe etc, your life can go on much easier going forward. It's just like driving your car w/o pressing the brake all the time
4. When confront fear, fear disappear - Fear acronym is called false evidence appearing real. Therefore when confront it, it's not as fearful as it be. Take public speaking for example. I used to fear it a lot until I took my Toastmaster program. It's not as hard as we see from outside
5. Affirmations - Another Self Help Guru Anthony Robbins help reminds me of this point. It's another kind of mental exercise in helping you to achieve the goal that you wanted.
6. Effort - There ain't no free lunch. I always remember this chinese saying "In the stage of 3 minutes, there lies the effort of 10 years". All the foundation will help you in your future
7. Use it or lose it - Our mind is very fair, when we use less of something, we will forget it... so simple and yet so powerful. Have to constantly remind our mind often.

The book should have more of
1. Pages are just too few ! Perhaps it's preparing for more of other title.
2. List of action steps you can take that make it easy for people to master that point

Today is important - NOW is the time to start doing !

Based on the year it was published, there's a lot of idea and views on self help that I've found similar on other similar genre of books. I would say if I only found this book much earlier (I encountered the book before during my secondary school days but I didn't get the courage to buy it), my life would have changed a lot for the better. There's never too late to do something in the world of motivation. The author have few other books namely Happiness Now and Making Friends. Look it out in the bookstore...

Overall the book deserved a 8.5 in the list of self help book. Good for reading for all teenagers to adult.

Monday, July 28, 2008

An Enduring Legacy - Randy Pausch


On July 25th, a lecturer who always inspires me about childhood dream - Randy Pausch had passed away at the age of 47. The obituary was all over the internet and newspaper. As of last search today (28th July), there were more than 1500 results of Randy in the news

I really admire his courage and optimism on how he fight the pancreatic cancer. Although he had info from the doctors that he had 6 months to live, I believe he leave the last 11 months of his life better than the most people. He had touched the lives of millions out there (judging from the youtube view) on his inspiring lecture. What just a simple message to his children had spread to everyone the importance of childhood dreams, how to deal with your cards, wall are for someone who need something badly etc had touched me. Me and my wife sincerely hoped and wished that he'll always be in a better realms and his family be blessed with good health, happiness and peace.

The official obituary was copied from CMU website

Randy Pausch Inspired Millions

Randy Pausch, the professor at Carnegie Mellon University who inspired countless students in the classroom and others worldwide through his highly acclaimed last lecture, has died of complications from pancreatic cancer. He was 47.

Also a Carnegie Mellon alumnus, Pausch co-founded the Entertainment Technology Center and led researchers who created Alice, a revolutionary way to teach computer programming. He was widely respected in academic circles for a unique interdisciplinary approach, bringing together artists, dramatists and designers to break new ground by working in collaboration with computer scientists.

Outside the classroom, he gained public fame for delivering what would come to be known as "The Last Lecture." On Sept. 18, 2007, only a month after doctors told him that he had three-to-six months to live following a recurrence of pancreatic cancer, he presented a lecture called "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams" to a packed auditorium at Carnegie Mellon.

The moving and often humorous talk recounted his efforts to achieve such childhood dreams as becoming a professional football player, experiencing zero gravity and developing Disney World attractions. In the process, he shared his insights on finding the good in other people, working hard to overcome obstacles and living generously.

"If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself," Pausch said. "The dreams will come to you."

The video appeared on countless websites and has been viewed by millions. Appearances on the Oprah Winfrey Show, ABC's Good Morning America and the CBS Evening News followed.

A book version, "The Last Lecture" co-written by Jeff Zaslow of the Wall Street Journal (and a fellow Carnegie Mellon alumnus), became a best-seller upon its release this spring.

"Randy had an enormous and lasting impact on Carnegie Mellon," said Carnegie Mellon President Jared L. Cohon. "A brilliant researcher and gifted teacher, he was a key member of our Human-Computer Interaction Institute and co-founder of the Entertainment Technology Center. His love of teaching, his sense of fun and his brilliance came together in the Alice project, which teaches students computer programming while enabling them to do something fun — making animated movies and games. Carnegie Mellon — and the world — are better places for having had Randy Pausch in them."

Pausch was also a pioneer in the development of virtual reality, including creating the popular Building Virtual Worlds class.

A memorial service at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh is being planned; details will be announced at a later date.

He is survived by his wife, Jai, and three children: Chloe, Dylan and Logan. The family requests that donations on his behalf be directed to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, 2141 Rosecrans Ave., Suite 7000, El Segundo, CA 90245, or to Carnegie Mellon's Randy Pausch Memorial Fund, which the university will use primarily to support continued work on the Alice project.

For more information on Randy's life and legacy, read In Memoriam: Randy Pausch, Innovative Computer Scientist at Carnegie Mellon, Launched Education Initiatives, Gained Worldwide Acclaim for Last Lecture.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Rich Dad's Increase Your Financial IQ: Get Smarter with Your Money (Rich Dad's) - Robert T Kiyosaki


Managed to browse thru the book in the MPH Mid Valley for 1 hour last Saturday. The book initially explains what's intelligence and IQ definition and subsequently explain how can the Financial IQ be use to improve our chance towards financial freedom. Then he explains his life history in early days, working in Standard Oil, his army service in Vietnam, Xerox and subsequently his own nylon wallet business.

Another important point written on the earlier chapter is the agreement signed by President Nixon on the 1971. He explain on the change of US currency no longer backed by gold (Bretton Woods agreement signed on 1944). Subsequently on 1974 until Nixon resignation, the USD as a world reserve currency had suddenly become Fiat money. Since then, the USD had become so devalued in terms of gold until it's very alarming. He mentioned also on the government program like Social Security and Medicare were on the verge of bankrupt when the baby boomers starting to get retired on 2008. Other interesting info I've seen so far is the difference between Democrat and Republican president elect used their money during their term in the office

The book main themes are as follows
o How to increase your money -- how to assess what you're really worth now, what your prospects are, and how to start mapping out your financial future.

o How to protect your money -- for better or for worse, taxes are a way of life. Kiyosaki shows you that "it's not what you's what you keep."
- be careful of those that can take their money i.e. broker, lawyer etc. Start educating to your kid since young with the use of bunnies etc

o How to budget your money -- everybody wants to live large, but you have to learn how to live within your budget. Kiyosaki shows you how you can.

o How to leverage your money -- as you build your financial IQ, knowing how to put your money to work for you is a crucial step.
- His explanation on his property development leverage.

o How to improve your financial information -- Kiyosaki shows you how to accelerate your wealth as you learn more and more.
- Some of the ways in improving your financial information like joining network marketing, cashflow club etc.

What I like the book
1. The use of pictures on assets/liability and income/expenditure to explain some financial concept across

What's the book shortcoming
1. Didn't mentioned about the sub prime issue that's plaguing the US property market and how he handled that
2. His concept on spending more when you earned more may not be agreeable to everyone.

Some interesting tips
1. Invest in silver precious metal. The relative ratio between silver and gold had widen ( 1 : 15 when historically it's 1 : 10). Other reason also because silver metal had been mined already 95% of the total available silver possible reserve (scarcity). Try to buy on silver ETF whenever possible
2. His emphasis on concentrating one's portfolio. This concept had been mentioned by Sage from Omaha - Warren Buffett on various articles/publications

All in all, I give this book 7.5 out 10. Some of his story may be interesting but may not be applicable to Malaysian market i.e. US currency and his property investment. The book can be completely read in just few hours. His concept here is not as ground breaking as his earlier book i.e. Rich Dad, Poor Dad and Cashflow Quadrant.