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 make....it'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.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Tuesdays with Morrie - Mitch Albom


Since my last book on secrets to know before you die and the last lecture, I would like to share with you one more title that talk about the same topic as well. The book was written based on the account between Mitch (a previous student of Morrie) and Dr Morrie who diagnosed with ALS at the age of 67. Mitch discovered his lecturer disease while watching the Nightline show. To cut the story short, he managed to get in touch with Morrie on his final months and make amends with his brother who long had resentment.

What comes next was a series of interview with Morrie every Tuesday on various topic about life. Prior to his discourse with Morrie, his life of running a rat race in reporting and having to juggle between his family was taking his toll about view of life. Come to think of it, we do suffer burnout if we burn both side of the candle at the same time. At least that's happening to me at some point of my life. We all are a creature of habit. As an analogy, we are just like a frog put inside a pot of water. The pot was heat up until the frog was cooked alive unaware of the surroundings. Same as life, we slowly add on additional responsibility in our career, in a family, relationship, finance, community etc. We need to find a balance out of this or we'll be too.

Here are some of the important lessons that comes out from the conversation with Morrie and my view on it. Got this from here
1. “Accept what you are able to do and what you are not able to do.” (p. 18) - Know your strength and weaknesses. That reminds me of Marcus Buckingham on NOW, discover your strengths. The world now value someone who can do excellent work on specific stuff than mediocre work on all the stuff.
2. “Accept the past as past, without denying it or discarding it.” (p. 18) - We have our memory, it's how our life story are made of. It's neither +ve nor -ve
3. “Learn to forgive yourself and to forgive others.” (p. 18) - It's been mentioned in many motivational books. We can move ahead further/better without resentment.
4. “Don’t assume that it is too late to get involved.” (p. 18) - It's never too late
5. Find someone to share your heart, give to your community, be at peace with
yourself, try to be as human as you can be. (p. 34) - Contribute back to society instead of keeping it to yourself...
6. “Love always wins.” (p. 40)
7. “The culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn’t work, don’t buy it.” (p. 42) - Have your own opinion. Don't be afraid in voicing out if that doesn't fit.
8. “So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they’re busy doing things they think are important. This is because they’re chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.” (p. 43) - That reminds me of a good quote from Dr. Mark Albion that in a rat race, if you win it, you still a rat.
9. “ . . . if you really want it, then you’ll make your dream happen.” (p. 47) - Don't forget about your dream remember Dr. Randy Pausch
10. “The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.” (p. 52) - That's so deep. We sometime not able to do it rationally :)
11. “Love is the only rational act.” (p. 52)
12. “I don’t allow myself any more self-pity than that. A little each morning, a few tears, and that’s all . . . . It’s horrible to watch my body slowly wilt away to nothing. But it’s also wonderful because of all the time I get to say goodbye.” (p. 57) - That's so strong and brutal fact from someone is dying
13. “Sometimes you can’t believe what you see; you have to believe what you feel.” (p. 61) - Follow your heart. As you hear from Star Wars movie - Use your force
14. “What if today were my last day on earth?” (p. 64) - Such a powerful tips. Time is the essence.
15. “Once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.” (p. 82) - Another metaphor for me I guess is once you learn to let go, you know how to receive
16. If you accept you are going to die at any time, then you might not be as ambitious as you are. (p. 83) - The feeling of surrender to norm when going get tough.
17. There is no foundation, no secure ground, upon which people may stand today if it isn’t the family. (p. 91) - That's so Confucius....
18. “Don’t cling to things, because everything is impermanent.” (p. 103) - That's so Buddhist like statement
19. “ . . . If you’ve found meaning in your life you don’t want to go back. You want to go forward. You want to see more, do more. You can’t wait until sixty-five.” (p. 118) - Live a wonderful life and you'll not regret any of it.
20. “Money is not a substitute for tenderness, and power is not a substitute for tenderness.” (p. 125)
21. “ . . . love is how you stay alive, even after you are gone.” (p. 133)
22. “Love each other or perish.” (p. 149)
23. “ . . . the big things—how we think, what we value—those you must choose yourself. You can’t let anyone--or any society—determine those for you.” (p. 155) - Another reinforcement from Morrie on own decision/judgement
24. “Don’t let go too soon, but don’t hang on too long.” (p. 162) - Find balance on things that you do.
25. “Be compassionate. And take responsibility for each other. If we only learned those lessons, this world would be so much better a place.” (p. 163) - Another Buddhist like philosophy.
26. “Forgive yourself before you die. Then forgive others.” (p. 164) - Another point on forgiveness.
27. “As long as we can love each other, and remember the feeling of love we had, we can die without ever really going away. All the love you created is still there. All the memories are still there. You live on—in the hearts of everyone you have touched and nurtured while you were here.” (p. 174) - Feeling that's created will always be there and will never be destroyed.
28. “Death ends a life, not a relationship.” (p. 174)
29. The important questions have to do with love, responsibility, spirituality, awareness. (p. 175) - Those intangible feeling are what thats matter.
30. “You’re not a wave, you are part of the ocean.” (p. 180)
31. “ . . . there is no such thing as ‘too late’ in life.” (p. 190)

I'm giving a 9 out of 10 due to the content the book I have on my life after reading it. I hope you feel the same too. His idea on love, forgiveness, hope/dreams and having own judgment is very touching and personal. The book was initially published in 1997. Some may think it's dated but it's still a gem till now. There's even a movie adaptation to the show as well. Another Morrie Schwartz - Lessons on Living video was available online too. We surely learn something new and remember it's never too late...

Youtube video on Tuesdays with Morrie
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9

I hope someone can share how this book impacted your life and hopefully we can come out better out of it.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The five secrets you must discover before you die - John Izzo

Somehow, I attracted to living and dying books since I've get to read Tuesday with Morrie's from Mitch Albom (The book I'll review one day in the future) I bought this book during the last book fair.

The book attract me because of the title (Who says you can't attract people to buy it with the title book cover) This 163 pages book was a result from an interview of over 200 peoples with age over 60-106 years. You might find strange why 60 ? Because according to the author, there's a big difference between result of the interview. I guess people over 60 reflect their live much better and seems wiser

Here are the 5 secrets and it's action you can take to achieve that.
1. Be true to your self
- Did this day/week feel like my kind of day/week ? What would make tomorrow or next week feel more true
- Was I the kind of person I want to be this week ? In what way do I want to be more like the kind of person I want to be tomorrow or next week ?
- Am I following my heart right now ? What would it mean for me to really follow my heart right now ?
- How do I want to live this secret more deeply next week ?

2. Leave no regrets
- Did I act out of fear today or this week ? How do I want to be more courageous tomorrow or next week ?
- Did I act on my convictions this week ? How do I want to act on them more deeply this week ?
- What step would I take in my life right now if I were acting with courage, not fear ? What might I do differently right now if I were living from the perspective of an old person on the porch looking back at my life ?
- How am I responding to the setbacks in my life right now ? Am I stepping forward or retreating ?

3. Become love
- Did I make room for friends, family and relationships today/this week ? Did I allow things to be more important than people ?
- Was I kind and loving today/this week to the people closest to me ? How do I want to be more loving to them tomorrow or this week ?
- Did I spread love and kindness in the world today/this week in each interaction ? Did I act as if each stranger was someone for whom I could make a difference ?
- Which of my wolves did I feed today/this week ? Did I spend time with people who lift my spirit ? Did I act with love toward my self today/this week ? Did I engage in negative self talk/self hypnosis ? Am I planting flowers or weeds in my self conscious mind ?

4. Live the moment
- Did I fully enjoy whatever I was doing this day or week ? Was I really 'here' or just merely show up ?
- Did I take every pleasure that was available to me today/this week, and did I walk with awareness through my life or just run ?
- What am I grateful for about today/this week ? Did I find myself saying 'I would be happy if ...' ? Did I choose contentment and happiness this week ?
- Did I live in the present today/this week ? or did I let tomorrow or yesterday steal the day's happiness ?

5. Give more than you take
- Did I make the world a better place this week in some small way ?
- Did I remind myself this week that I am making a difference even if I don't see it ?
- Was I kind, generous, and giving this week ? How do I want to be more that way tomorrow/next week ?
- Was I focused on the needs of the 'small self' this week (the pursuit of things, status or power) rather than the 'larger self' (which is my contribution to making the world around me a better place) ?
- How do I want to live this secret more deeply next week ?

How to put into practice
- learning by watching, listening and experimenting
- learn naturally by watching, imitating and by experimenting
- be aware and experiment - we become what we pay attention to. The more we hold something in our awareness, the more likely we are to move toward that thing
- do reflection on your life every week on the things

Preparing to die
- Happy people are not afraid to die
- The biggest fear at the end of life is that you did not do everything you could have done, that you have never really lived. If we want to prepare to die, we must choose to live fully so that we leave no regrets
- To die well is not to complain, to continue to have a good spirit and let those who are still living know that it is ok it is part of life. This is the last gift we give. The last direct influence you can have is how you die.

How to go from there - it's never too late
- Timing is important
- When we judge our life we diminish ourselves. The more we can eliminate all need to compare, compete, grade and judge our lives, the closer we get to wisdom
- The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, but the second best time is today - Chinese proverb
- Stop judging the life you have lived and get on with the life you still may live. Whatever mistakes you have made and no matter how many regrets may litter your your past, plant a new tree (change from now on) today. Begin to live the secrets now or simply live them more deeply.

Questions used for this interview
1. Describe the life you have lived thus far
2. What has brought you the greatest sense of meaning and purpose in life ? Why does it matter that you were alive ?
3. What brought you/brings you the most happiness in life the greatest joy moment to moment ?
4. Tell me about a few of the major crossroads moments in your life, times when you went in one direction or another and it made a large difference in terms of how your life turned out ?
5. What is the best advice you ever got from someone else about life ? Did you take that advice? How have you used it during your life ?
6. What do you wish you had learned sooner ? If you could go back to when you were a young adult and have a conversation with yourself and you knew you would listen, what would you tell that younger person about life ?
7. What is the role that spirituality has played in your life ?
8. What is the greatest fear at the end of life ?
9. Now that you are older, how do you feel about your mortality/death ? Not death in the abstract but your death ? Are you afraid of dying ?
10. What role have spirituality and religion played in your life ? What have you concluded about 'god' ?
11. Fill in this sentence, I wish I had...
12. Now that you have lived most of your life, what are you certain or almost certain matters a great deal if a person wants to find happiness and live a fulfilling life ?
13. Now that you have lived most of your life, what are you certain or almost certain does not matter very much in finding a happy life ? What do you wish you had paid less attention to ?
14. If you could give only one sentence of advice to those younger than you on finding a happy and meaning life, what one sentence would you pass on ?

All in all, the book deserve a 8 out of 10. The book is a bit too short for such a great title on life. If they can compile more information from wise man around the world, that would make the title more interesting.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Greatness Guide - Robin Sharma


Just finished reading "The Greatness Guide" yesterday. I feel really great ! As if I've a great conversation with the mentor. The book contains 101 short guide (in 1 - 4 pages long) to be great. As you see in my previous entry for Good to Great, it shares some similarities in terms of not stopping on good but strive on to be great ! The book combines leadership, personal effectiveness, business success in a neat single package. The book had it all, inspiring quotes, nice story, good action steps and the nicest thing is, someone had really done this before !

Some memorable/inspirational quotes
1. A mind once stretched by a new idea can never return to it's original dimensions - What's your Eureka moment ? I get most of it from reading/listening to a great title/discussion/meetings
2. The essential difference between emotion and reason is that emotion leads to action while reason leads to conclusion
3. Be grateful for where you are along the journey of life. Live in the moment but also remember that with the gifts that reside within you come great responsibilities - Nelson Mandela
4. The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr
5. I cursed the fact I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet - Persian proverb
6. Great people run toward their resistances and play out on the edges of their lives - Robin Sharma
7. Every one of us will die. But so few of us really live - Braveheart movie
8. Stop being the prisoner of your past and become the architect of your future - Robin Sharma
9. Pleasure comes from something on the outside while happiness comes from within - Robin Sharma
10. The best companies on the planet grow leaders and develop leadership potential throughout the organization faster than their competition - That's why important to develop leadership, even without a title
11. Person who chases two rabbits catches neither - Confucius
12. If you have not discovered something you are willing to die for, then you are not fit to live - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
13. Some of life's best pleasures are its simplest ones. Enrich your life with more of them and your heart will be happy - Robin Sharma
14. Each day, life will send you little window of opportunity. Your destiny will ultimately be defined by how you respond to these windows of oppurtunity - How true ! Our destiny shaped by decision we took on our journey of life...

Great must read point that inspires me
1. Drink coffee with Gandhi - Learn key idea from successful person via book etc
2. Make time to think
3. Mike Jagger and reference points - your ideal reference (person to be inspired upon) for something great
4. How to be a happier man - List of activities that make you happy according to your passions
5. Nothing fails like success - When something becoming so successful, don't neglect your workers
6. Know your genius - Focus + daily improvement + time = genius
7. Your customers buy with their hearts - know that people buy on emotion and supported by reason
8. Burn your boats - Act as if you'll never fail
9. On obituaries and the meaning of life - Did I dream richly ? , did I live fully ? Did I learn to let go ?, did I love well ? Did I tread lightly on the earth and leave it better than I found it ?
10. Getting what you want while loving what you have - Have your cake and eat it too with balance !
11. To be more productive, relax and have more fun
12. Client focused vs Out to lunch - business is about loving the people who do business with you and giving them more value than they expected
13. Do your part - The ability to triumph begins with you - Always
14. Avoid the Four F's syndrome - Fear, Failure Forgetting, Faith
15. Simple tactics for superb relationships - be positive, candid and speak truthfully, on time, say please and thank you, under promise over deliver, leave people better than you found them, be friendly and caring, be world class listener, become passionately interested in other, smile :) a lot
16. The Innovater's mantra - The enemy of the best is the good ! Innovate, innovate and innovate !
17. Good business is good for business
18. Build Success Structures - success schedules for us to raise above self
19. Be wise, early rise - don't lounge in bed, get into world class physical condition, set Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs), set your alarm clock 30 minutes faster
20. Get great at life - Pay attention to life, engage in life, enjoy life
21. Learn more to earn more - Value add by learn more, out study, out improve and out succeed.
22. Make a dent in the universe - Find a cause that's larger than yourself and then to give your life to it. Think Gandhi, Mandela, Edison, Einstein....
23. Commit to 1st class - commitment to ensuring that their surroundings reflect their devotion to being world class
24. Do a clean sweep - streamline, simplify and refocus your life. Take commitment to say good to pursuits that were not aligned with my personal and professional goals, installing systems to be more efficient and spending a lot of time refining the model of my business.
25. Do a '101 things to do before I die' list - Have a bucket list
26. Lay claim to greatness - It's never to late to start ! Start now !
27. Lead without title - worker taking responsibility to make customer feels appreciated

How this book make a great title !
1. Inspiring quote form proverbs to famous celebrity and leaders
2. Use real example in sharing his point across - It makes thing
3. Outline positive habits and things to do in cultivating great behavior
4. Great advice to give to children - you can do whatever you want to do when you grow up, never give up, whatever you do, do it well and remember that how much your parents love you !

How this book can be improved
1. Divide section according to theme i.e. Leadership, goal setting, business rules, customer service etc Busy people will be able to see specific section in an instant
2. This book leaves out meditation that initial book "The monk who sold his Ferrari" had mentioned previously. Why not add that in ?
3. Have specific action steps with journal log for your to monitor the progress. Set appropriate timeline on each guide required.

All in all, this book deserve 9 out of 10 for inspiring title. The contents here are magnificent and one of the most complete compilation of personal/business development I've seen so far on a 221 pages of book. In case you need to know more, visit Robin Sharma website that contains free podcast, blogs and his upcoming training. Be inspired and lead without a title ! I'm sure to revisit this book once in a while. Some sort of like booster dose for my road to be great person !

P/S : There's more, if you bought this book, you can download the free title "Extraordinary Leadership: 5 Best Practices to Lead the Field" free from his website

Friday, July 4, 2008

Buffetology - Mary Buffett & David Clark

Another Warren Buffett book ? You must be wondering, what's so interesting about this book. The book was written by Warren's daughter in-law which was divorced after 12 years of marriage. She was able to watch and learn from the world's most famous investor. Sort of like insider view of how Warren works !

Secret of Warren's success
1. Invest in companies whose future earnings he can reasonably predict
2. That kind of company generally has excellent business economics in his favor. This allows the business to make lots of money that it is free to spend either by buying new businesses or by improving the profitability of the great business that generated all the cash to begin with
3. High Return of shareholders equity, strong earnings, presence of consumer monopoly and management that functions with shareholder economic in mind
4. The price you pay will determine the return you can expect on your investment
5. Choose the kind of business he would like to be in and then lets the price of the security and expected rate of return
6. Investing at the right price in certain businesses with exceptional economics will produce over long term an annual compounding rate of return of 15% or better
7. Acquire other people's money to manage so that he could profit from his investing expertise

Warren's winning way !
1. What to buy - know what you want
2. At what price - wait for it to be real cheap

9 Questions to help determine if a business is an excellent one
1. Does the business have an identifiable consumer monopoly ?
2. Are the earnings of the company strong and having upward trend ?
3. Is the company conservatively financed ?
4. Does the business consistently earn a high rate of return on equity ?
5. Does the business get to retain its earnings ?
6. How much does the business have to spend on maintaining current operations (capex) ?
7. Is company free to reinvest retained earnings in new business opportunities, expansion of operations, share purchases ? How good a job does the management do this ?
8. Is company free to adjust prices to inflation ?
9. Will the value added by retained earnings increase the market value of the company ?

Where to look for excellent businesses ?
1. Business that make products that wear out fast or used up quickly, that have brand name appeal, merchants have to carry or use to stay in business
2. Communications businesses that provide a repetitive service manufacturers must use to persuade the public to buy their products
3. Business that provide repetitive consumer services that people and business are consistently in need of

Other interesting topic
1. The magic of compounding
2. Margin of safety - Value of the business having 25% or better projected return from Net Asset.
3. Mediocre business - identify commodity vs excellent business similar to Blue Ocean Strategy
4. Ways to find company to invest in
5. When a downtown in a company can be investment oppurtunity
6. Myth of diversifications versus the concentrated portfolio
7. When should you sell your investments

Mathematical tests
1. Test for predictability of earning
2. Initial rate of return
3. Earning Per Share growth (EPSG) rate

Famous quote on portfolio
1. On concentrated portfolio approach - A person would make fewer bad investment decisions if he were limited to making just ten in his lifetime. Just ten ! You would put a little work into making those ten decisions, don't you think ?

In conclusion, there's no rocket science to Warren's way of investing. One have to be patient to wait and look for oppurtunity available in the market. With the current bearish market condition, the time is ripe to enter the market gradually and find the right equity. It's a good title to start with for investing. Come to think of it, now everything is making sense now that most company in Bursa Malaysia that have high ROE i.e. Public Bank, BAT etc commanding a high price.

The title gets a 7.5 out of 10 for investing type of book. The title explains a lot of basics fundamental on the way of investing the Buffett way.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Secrets of the Millionaire Mind - T. Harv Eker


Today I'll review a book about wealth. Have you ever think about how one can get rich ? For me initially, rich people must do all sorts of illegal/unscrupulous activity. Once I've read this book, it changed my whole mindset about getting rich.

The book talk about financial blueprint. Just like a house blueprint, to have a successful financial blueprint, you need to have a right combination of thoughts, feelings and actions in the area of money. Your financial information derived a lot of it from your programming while you're a child. To have the correct mindset and be rich, one need to program it with the new attitude.

In order for change, you need to manifest it. The manifestation is via the formula
P -> T -> F -> A = R where
P= process of manifestation
T= thoughts
F= feeling
A= action
R= result

Thoughts leads to feeling
Feeling leads to action
Action leads to result

3 Steps towards the conditioning of mind
1. Verbal programming - what did you hear
2. Modeling - what did you see
3. Specific incidents - what you experience
That can be related to V (Verbal) K (Kinesthetic) A (Auditory)

Memorable quotes
The only way to permanently change the temperature in the room is to reset the thermostat. In the same way, the only way to change your level of financial success "permanently" is to reset your financial thermostat.

In addition, the book share a lot of ideas on the differences between a rich person and poor people. I'll outline it as below
1. Rich people believe 'I create my life' while poor people believe 'Life happens to me' - that's the attitude on how people can have full control on themselves while the other think about victim mentality.
2. Rich people play money game to win while poor people play the money game to not lose - one talk about abundance while the other talk about scarcity
3. Rich people are committed to being rich while poor people want to be rich - one talk about commitment while the other just about wishful thinking
4. Rich people think big while poor people think small
5. Rich people focus on opportunities while poor people focus on obstacles - remember glass half full and half empty ?
6. Rich people admire other rich and successful people while poor people resent rich and successful people
7. Rich people associate with positive, successful people while poor people associate with negative or unsuccessful people - Have you think of birds of a same feather flock together ?
8. Rich people are willing to promote themselves and their value while poor people think negatively about selling and promotion - positive attitude versus negative attitude perhaps ?
9. Rich people are bigger than their problems while poor people are smaller than their problems - I guess that's the magic of thinking BIG !
10. Rich people are excellent receivers while poor people are poor receivers - That reminds me of the 3 tips from the secret
11. Rich people choose to get paid based on results while poor people choose to get paid based on time - Isn't that's the difference between a business owner versus employee ?
12. Rich people think both while poor people think either/or - Have you thought that you can have your cake and eat it too ?
13. Rich people focus on their net worth while poor people focus on their working income - Attitude towards increasing your overall wealth than just think about salary
14. Rich people manage their money well while poor people mismanage their money well - Money management i.e. credit card and credit facilities need to be handled well. The use of concept 10% long term savings, 10% education, 50% to necessities and 10% to charity.
15. Rich people have their money work hard for them while poor people work hard for their money - work smart or work hard ?
16. Rich people act in spite of fear while poor people let fear stop them - know your fear, confront and conquer it
17. Rich people constantly learn and grow while poor people think they already know - Continuous learning/improvement (kaizen) is the key to success

On all these 17 ideas, the author outline appropriate actions and your commitment required to make it stick to you. In addition, the book were littered with various wealth principles that help you towards making the rich thought into your mind. I truly like that bite size tips to let you slowly immersed that to your mind. One interesting quotes that always lingered on my mind on this title is "Wealth won't change who you are but just magnify what you are". For example, if you're a jerk, you'll become a bigger jerk. It won't be like if you're caring, you'll be become stingy when you're wealthy.

All in all, I would give the book a 8 out of 10 for content and the writing style that easily be read and understand to all.

P.S : There's a free bonus ticket for 2 to attend the Millionaire Mind Seminar if you're living in the States ! And that's worth $2590 USD !

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

iWoz - Steve Wozniak


This is a review of the other Steve who co-founded the Apple computer company. This book should appeal to those Technology buff, Electronics engineer etc. He wrote this book to clear out the doubt on the issue if he's actually leaving Apple (He's actually not left Apple) and whether he start the CL9 (Cloud 9 was a universal remote control company) because of his dissatisfaction towards Apple (He's not). He's not actually kicked out from Uni (He quit himself).

In addition, we hear the life story of Stevefrom childhood till now. His passions on electronics were really unsurpassed by anyone I've read so far. I can see his interest pick it up from his father who work in a Top Secret Government project. He learn from his father the value of honesty from early on. He thought that the reason for his electronic prowess was due to his foundation that he learnt from his father and electronics magazine/datasheet. Ocassionally, he share his joy of pulling prank, creating dial a joke etc show his lighter side of him. He even try to call the Pope during the 70's and pretend as Henry Kissinger ! His initial work with HP on calculator division is worth mentioning. During the 70's, HP was a company that value engineer more than the marketing folks. Something the other company are not doing at that time. That makes Steve.

Interesting trivia
1. He created the automatic blue box (tone generator to make free call) and meet Captain Crunch along the way. He did sold some of those in the Uni days.
2. He single handedly designed the Personal Computer (Apple I and II) contrary to popular belief that he did this together with Steve Jobs.
3. He started up Apple with Steve Jobs (45%) and Mike Markulla (10%)
4. He had lost USD12 million twice while organizing concert of Progressive Country music in the 80's
5. Steve Jobs is actually few years younger than Steve and not classmates.
6. He suffered mild amnesia while crashing down from the plane.
7. He designed a lot of computer on some paper sketch instead of building it

Lessons learn from the book
1. One can learn good value from your parents - Honesty and other good value
2. Building a strong foundation on things is very important as your pursue your passion (For this case, Steve can achieve that level of breakthrough when he was young and building stuff for electronics fair)
3. Pursue your passion - Don't waver, do factual study just like a scientist. Don't jump to conclusion just yet. Sometimes only time will prove if you're right/wrong on the things that you pursue.
4. Do what you do no matter what it takes for your dream ! - Drive overcomes it all ! You have to trust your intuition on something that you think might want pursuing !

In conclusion, not much people in this world had achieve so much in his early life and yet can let go during his peak of his career in Technology and instead pursuing teaching for the 5th Grade and philanthropy. Not sure if that's cause by plane crash during his 80's though but he's truly one of the main character besides Steve Jobs and Bill Gates in the story of Personal Computer revolution...

P/S : As there's 2 Steve's appearing in this review, I've used Steve to refer to as Steve Wozniak instead of Steve Jobs.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Giving - How each of us can change the world - Bill Clinton


Just finished listening to this audiobook this afternoon. The book was narrated by the author Bill himself. I would say that makes the book much more convincing. Philanthropy has since picking up a lot of hype since we saw Warren Buffet and Bill Gates had committed large sum of their fortune to the betterment of the world. This title sums it all on the various initiative and foundation mainly in the States in providing all sorts of helps from AIDS and cancer movement to eradicating poverty etc. There's a lot mention about the Bill Clinton foundation which initiate various cause around the country. The book hope to give awareness on how/what/when/why/who/where can one give give contributions.

There's ample story of outstanding individual of various organization having adversity/challenge and in return giving much more in helping the society as a whole.

There's various topic on the giving from monetary, material to the intangible (time, service etc) There's special mention of social entrepeneurship (Grameen bank/telephone, microcredit etc) and how environmental conservation and initiative can be turn to a viable business. As we are aware, oil price increase had changed a lot of variables in the world that makes us to change the way we think about resource utilization and consumption.

One interesting note on this book is the various religion highlights and view of giving. There's view from Jewish, Muslim, Christian and even Buddhist. I like that a lot since it create understanding on how various religion view on giving and creating awareness for everyone to know.

All in all, I can only give this book a 5 out of 10. Initial chapters on various foundation and organization may sound alien to you since it's more familiar in the States. In addition it sorts of like a directory of information of various charitable foundation/organization to me. Not much mention of the activities in Asia except on the Tsunami that happen during 2005. This book may only be appealing to certain crowd or an interesting read to those who are working in the charitable, voluntarily organization as a motivational material/read. From there, you can emulate some of the strategies mentioned in the book and in return make yourself a better person.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Finding Work That Matters - Mark Albion


It's time for another review. What can I say. This is THE audiobook for anyone out there who wants to make a career move ! Coincidentally, I use part of this book material in presenting my 9th speech of the CC series.

The book interests me because of the extensive use of stories, surveys and supporting info in presenting his idea across. One of the convincing story is about himself where he actually make his own career move in pursuing the work that matters him the most. His step by step explanation on how to steer from your current situation to achieve your dream work is realistic and achievable. He really able to convince me that I can achieve my passion without feeling lost on translation. As I have my own interest in financial planning, I hope I can slowly work towards that...

Step by step in finding work that matters
1. Who you are, where are you now - Accessing the current scenario
2. What you want to leave your legacy behind
3. Find out more by listening to it....

Some memorable tips
1. Don't become too good at things that you don't like to do
2. Don't teach the pig how to sing - it waste your time and you annoyed the pig
3. Paul/Peter principle - Paul - Continue to provide what we need to succeed. Peter - You'll be promoted to the level where you'll be incompetent.
4. Communicate with your love one when switching your career
5. Inject more of your interest related skill to your current work environment

Some memorable quotes
1. Pursuing passion later after you've enough money is like saving sex for the old age - Warren Buffet

All in all, this audiobook deserve 7.5 out of 10. It's one of my highly recommended title for those who want to change their career and pursuing your passion !

P/S : For those who missed my earlier post, CC = competent communicator

I've finally completed my Toastmasters CC !


I'm excited, happy and relief that I finally finished my CC ! after starting my 1st speech on January 2008. I completed my 10 and final speech as of 24th of June (7pm). For those who don't know what's that all about, CC stands for Competent Communicator. It was one of the program offered by Toastmasters. Toastmasters is an international organization that promote public speaking to the masses. You can find a club near you by following this link. Participants were required to prepared 10 speeches with varying objective from organization, body language, sentence structure, descriptive words, vocal variety, persuasion and inspiration. To know more, please visit here

The manual cover is shown here. Everyone will use this manual as a guideline in preparing the speech. Since I've started this program, I have more confident in giving speech to my fellow colleagues. I couldn't imagine that I can complete this program since I have fear in public speaking at the first place. Hope this serve as a motivation to everyone out there that no matter what fear it may be, face the challenge and conquer it. Success will always be a reality !

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari - Robin S. Sharma


Today I'll be reviewing a very interesting book. It had a very interesting title. The thing that catches me is the word Ferrari and why a monk had a car like that ! Don't worry, this is just a fable story created by the author. But it's a very good one though. The book begin with a story of a very successful lawyer (Julian Mantle) and have it all (status, money, girls etc). One day, he succumb to a heart attack. Afterwards, Julian sold of his belongings and his prized Red Ferrari and went to India...

Few years later, he's back and what follows on was a conversation between him and John (another character in this book) on what he learn and experienced while he is in India. These spiritual journey of Julian can be summarized to the following key ideas
1. Master your mind
2. Follow your purpose
3. Practice Kaizen (Continuous Improvement)
4. Live with discipline
5. Respect your time
6. Selflessly served others
7. Embrace the present

In helping us to remember the idea above, he explained it with the use of object i.e. The towering lighthouse, the sumo wrestler etc. Not forgetting, that on each idea, the author shared the wisdom, techniques and quotes in helping everyone here to practice those ideas.

The author also mention how our thoughts could control what we think in our mind. Mind is then shape your life and life will control you in mastering your destiny. This concept was echoed by another book by T. Harv Eker in Secrets of the Millionaire Mind title.

Some meaningful quotes
Every event has a purpose and every setback its lesson. I have realized that failure, whether of the personal, professional or even spiritual kind is essential to personal expansion. It brings inner growth and a whole host of psychic rewards. Never regret your past. Rather, embrace it as the teacher that it is.

The secret of happiness is simple - find out what you truly love to do and then direct all of your energy towards doing it. Once you are concentrating your mind power and engery on a pursuit that you love, abundance flows into your life and all your desires are fulfilled with ease and grace. Isn't that very simple ? Do you still remember your passion ? What's your interest ? Things that you're willing to do without being asked/paid ? How about your childhood dreams ? If that doesn't make you happy, I really don't know what will !

Happiness comes through the progressive realization of a worthy objective. When you are doing what you truly love to do you are bound to find deep contentment

Act as if failure is impossible, and your success will be assured
The quality of your life will come down to the quality of your contribution.

5 Steps to reach their objectives and fulfill the purposes of life
1. Form mental image of a clear outcome (Assume that it will surely happen and never fail and it's )
2. Get some positive pressure on yourself (i.e. public pledge, donate to your most hated charity if you failed to do so)
3. Never set a goal without attaching a timeline
4. Commit it into writing
5. Make it a habit to work things to your goal via Magic of 21 (Repeat the actions for 21 days in a role for something to become a habit)

Some other tips and method
1. Have the attitude of gratitude
2. Ritual of soltitude - 15 min of yourself and connecting with your inner world
3. Laughter - medicine of the soul
4. Daily personal reflection before you sleep
5. Wake up 5am in the morning - Read this book and find out why ;)
6. Positives to overcome the negative - Self control and disciplined thinking
7. Amazing Peter and the Magic thread story - Reflection on living in the NOW

All in all, this book is really a compilation from a lot of self help ideas and motivational principles packed in a small paperback novel. The book had been Top 10 bestseller for more than a year now. Initially, I don't understand why this book can sell so many of copies of it. After reading it, I know now :) I would say, if you have read this book, share this with your love one. Let them have the same wavelength as you. Needless to say my wife had read that as well. Life is too precious to be wasted away....

In conclusion, I gave this book 9.25 out of 10. A bit shy off from all time high score from Good to Great but it rank highly in my all time best self help/motivational book to me.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Freakanomics - Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

Hi All,

During my early university days, I took Economics course in 1998. The course was boring... boooh.... All those supply/demand curve, GDP and GNP etc didn't make me wanna learn economics any further. That was until I found this audiobook ! Freakanomics. I was wondering why it's not called Economics instead. This is by far the most interesting Economics book I've ever read. This had spur me interest to find out more about macro/micro economics. I have seen listen to few economics title i.e. The Undercover Economist (Someday I may do a review on that), Alan Greenspan - The Age of Turbulence. If only the book was introduced 10 years earlier, I could have put change my idea to become an economist but not an IT analyst :) Anyway, past is past, if I'm really interested, I could have been motivated anyway irregardless of this book anyway.

My point of view on what I learn from the book
1. Economics of Incentives - The whole book revolves around this idea. One had to properly weight in the perks/benefits especially some could cause more harm than good. People are willing to do something that give them the most incentives even it's illegal/cheating etc. This idea is very important, it's imperative that you get this right. You may heard this quote before, "if you pay peanut, you get monkey". Not forgetting

2. Bizarre facts and trivia - Especially the decreasing crime rate in US caused by the abortion law introduced in the 70's, cheating by school teacher in Chicago Public School and sumo wrestler, drug dealer staying with their parents, list of person first names that are considered intellectual and wealthy etc. Good way to impress someone in the party. In addition, the reference of crime rate is in contradiction of the idea in "The Tipping Point - Malcolm Gladwell" that mention the New York crime rate was due to broken window theory but not due to abortion law.

3. People will take initiative to do something if they get incentive to be better. Examples cited certain people change their name to a more favorable one then they have at the moment have statically shown to have better living standards. This is a comparison of people names in the States but not here in Malaysia. So, if you want to know if you name is favorable, successful etc. Someone need to do a survey/research on this.

If you want to explore further, there's Freakanomics official website and Blog to find out further on the current scenario

Plus point (+)
1. Economics trivia and bizarre fact about economics that may be useful to impress your boss/colleagues etc
2. Excellent use of story to explain the key idea in the book

Minus point (-)
1. The book could have outline some solution/steps in how to leverage on those situation

All in all, this book is a very good title to listened too. I give it a 8.5 out of 10.

P.S. : In case anyone wondering why I can churned out new title review everyday and think that I'm not working but instead listened to audiobook everyday. You'll be surprised. Sorry to disappoint you but some of the title here was based on the review that I've written after finished listening to the audiobook. For this one, I finished this title on July 2006.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The World is Flat - Thomas Friedman

Hi All,

I've read the book back in 2006 and I written the review then. After that, in 2007, a revision was done and around 50 pages had been added on the Social Entrepeneurship. The case of Muhammad Yunus on the case of microfinancing via Grameen Bank. The cover of the book had been changed to Red cover as well.

We now live in the world that's becoming flatter (Globalization of course !) and our company are striving towards more efficient way of doing things. This will never stop as we all trying our best to be competitive among the industry peers and outperform each other. This book really highlight that and the importance and how to embrace the effect of globalization. The story about Wal-Mart, Wipro and UPS were an interesting to read.

There are several things in the book that I would like to highlight and point out that makes the book interesting namely

1. 10 Forces behind the flattened world
11/9/89 - The fall of Berlin wall
8/9/95 - Emergence of web and the IPO of Netscape
Work flow software - Software becoming standard and interoperability becoming a norm
Uploading - Harnessing the power of communities/forum/open source
Outsourcing/Y2K - The emergence of India and abundance of Fibre optics
Offshoring - Running with Gazelles, eating with lions
Supply chaining - The wonders of Wal-Mart and RFID
Insourcing - UPS and what those brown shorts guys are really doing
In-forming - Googling, Yahoo and other web search. How to build and deploy your own personal supply chain of info/knowledge/entertainment
The steroids - Digital of Ipaq, mobile skype, personal ipod and virtual downloading - bittorrent/edonkey/kazaa

2. The author reasoning on the emergence of Globalization 2.0 (Era of big office, mainframe, PC) and 3.0 (digitization, minituaturization, virtualization, personalization and wireless)

3. Triple convergence - 10 Flatteners + Platforms + level playing field on collaboration

4. The loss of personal touch and more machine interaction of automated processes

5. The 3 categories of untouchables - Terms for job/work that can't be outsourced
i. special or specialized - Michael Jordan, J.K. Rowling, brain surgeon etc
ii. localized and anchored - Jobs must be done in a specific location/knowledge/face-to-face/personalized interaction - barber, waitress, chefs, plumber, nurse, masseurs, nannies, gardener, cleaning ladies
iii. 'old middle' jobs - currently under tremendous pressure due to flattening of world

6. How can we adapt ourselves from old middlers to the new middlers ?
Possible categories to improve
Great collaborators and orchestrators - manager who can work in and orchestrate 24/7/7 supply chains (24 hour a day, seven days a week and across 7 continents), good collaborators who are able to operate, mobilize, inspire and manage a multidimensional and multicultural workforce
The great synthesizers - the one who can bring disparate things together
The great explainers - managers, writers, teachers, producers, journalists and editors who are good explainers
The great levereragers - the case of EDS and SMC
The great adapters - employees who are more adaptable and versatile (Versatilists - constantly adapting but also of constantly learning and growing)
The green people - people who are involved in sustainable and renewable
The passionate personalizers - people who are passionate about the area of interest and at the same time differentiate themselves among generic jobs
The great localizers - understand the emerging global infrastructure and then adapt all the new tools it offers to local needs and demands.

7. New quotient
CQ (Curiosity) + PQ (Passionate) > IQ (Intelligent)
Curious and passionate staff are self educators and self motivators.

8. Tubas and test tubes - Mixing science with music. The case of Georgia Tech

9. The crisis of Public Education in US - The diminishing science students and the rise of flat country

10. New mantra of employability. The case of IBM - "Instead of IBM giving you a guarantee that you will be employed, you had to guarantee that you could stay employable"

11. Follow the Leaping Leprechauns - The case of Ireland. From the sick man of Europe to the rich man in less than a generation.

12. Glocalization - How culture easily absorbs foreign ideas and global best practices and melds those with its own traditions

13. The case of 2 cities - Mexico City and Dalian (China) - reform wholesale, followed by reform retail, plus good governance, education, infrastructure and ability to glocalize

14. How companies cope with Flat world and what are the rules
- When the world goes flat - and you are feeling flattened - reach for a shovel and dig inside yourself. Don't try to build walls
- And the small shall act big... One way small companies flourish in the flat world is by learning to act really big. And the key to being small and acting big is being quick to take advantage of all the new tools for collaboration to reach farther, faster, wider and deeper
- And the big shall act small...One way that big companies learn to flourish in the flat world is by learning how to act really small by enabling their customers to act really big
- The best companies are the best collaborators. In the flat world, more and more business will be done through collaborations within and between companies, for a very simple reason: The next layers of value creation - whether in tech, marketing, biomedicine or manufacturing - are becoming so complex that no single firm or department is going to be able to master them alone
- In a flat world, the best companies stay healthy by getting regular chest X-rays and then selling the results to their clients
- The best companies outsource to win, not to shrink. They outsource to innovate faster and more cheaply in order to grow larger, gain market share, and hire more and different specialists - not to save money by firing more people
- Outsourcing isn't just for Benedict Arnolds. It's also for idealists

15. The rise of Islamo-Leninism - Case of 9/11

16. Infosys and Al-Queda - The different use of supply chaining and collaboration

17. The curse of Oil - The rise of oil price and it's implication

In the end, I hope you find this book inspire you to look deep into yourself and find what's in it for me to be competitive in the flat world. If you have read the book and would like to share your thought and ideas about the book, feel free to drop an e-mail and we can discuss further on this.

What I like about the book
Thomas Friedman narrative is easy to understand and enjoyable. Probably because he was a reporter previously. The example used really opened up my mind about how globalization will affect us in many way. You can use this book to emphasis to your children on how globalization really affect them in the future.

Things to improve
I sincerely hope that Thomas Friedman can come up with the sequel of this book since now the high commodity cost and oil price really change the way globalization affect our world. Besides, the book was written way back in 2005. A lot can be added since then that affect the way we look at the world at the current moment.

I give this book a 9 out of 10. Considered as one of my top ten best book that I've read so far... If anyone had any book to recommend, do leave some comments to my blog.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Good to Great - Jim Collins


It's another audiobook review again. This time this book is one of my all time favourite audiobook/book that I've read for the past 5 years surpassing The world is Flat by Thomas Friedman (I'll share with you my review of this book in the future). Not too say that other books was no good but it completely changed my perspective about business. Jim Collins was able to share his idea across based on a research done on company listed in stock exchange. Business as we all know have few phases i.e. boom, plateau, bust same as business cycle. One thing interesting is why certain company succeed while other company failed ? I wondered if there's a way that we can increase those success rate ? I suggest those who like to find out read this book. This book is a sequel of Build to Last although this book should be the prequel of that.

Here it goes
The book outlines around 11 companies that have a period of mediocre performance in the 10 years period and period of consistent growth for 15 years (Outperforming the market and peers by at least a factor of 3) based on a research done by the author and his research teams. You'll be surprised that company like Coca-cola, Disney, GE, Intel and Microsoft alike were not in the list. Companies that make it to the list are Abbot Laboratories, Kimberly-Clark, Philip Morris, Pitney Bowes, Philip Morris, Fannie Mae, Wells Fargo, Walgreens, Kroger, Nucor, Gillette and Circuit City.

The author discuss on how company that are boring, not having charismatic leader manage and yet amidst all the challenge ahead. What interest me on what being mentioned by the author was few concepts that I'll mention below

1. Level 5 leaders - CEO who combined with personal humility and professional will rather than outgoing

2. Great bus driver story on how to assemble the right team
i. Getting the right person on the bus
ii. Getting the wrong person off the bus
iii. Rearrange the right person to sit on the right place
iv. Only then you start to plan where you should go

3. Stockdale Paradox - Based on the story of the POW in Vietnam. The concept of confronting the brutal facts of your current reality on the oncoming challenges, never give up even though it's gonna take a long time to succeed and finally retain faith that you will prevail in the end regardless of the difficulties !

4. Hedgehog concept - The parable of hedgehog and fox is a good story to being. Understanding of what you can be the best at. Sometimes pursuing many ends at the same time without one overall concept or unifying vision may cause you to be out of focus. Think about Freud, Darwin, Einstein and Alam Smith. Do you see the commonality ? 3 intersecting circles of Hedgehog concept (See attached graphics)
i. What you can be the best in the world at (and, equally important, what you cannot be the best in the world at). This discerning standard goes far beyond core competence. Just because you possess a core competence doesn't necessarily mean you can be the best in the world at it. Conversely, what you can be the best at might not even be something in which you are currently engaged.
ii. What drives your economic engine. All the good-to-great companies attained piercing insight into how to most effectively generate sustained and robust cash flow and profitability. In particular, they discovered the single denominator—profit per x—that had the greatest impact on their economics. (It would be cash flow per x in the social sector.)
iii. What you are deeply passionate about. The good-to-great companies focused on those activities that ignited their passion. The idea here is not to stimulate passion but to discover what makes you passionate.

5. Flywheel concept - Change to greatness requires momentum build upon your previous effort of moving the flywheel (habit/skill/vision/goals) little by little.

Many more.....

Other important info
- A successful well ran company can excel even on a declining industry
- Concept of using stop doing list. Company will tend to be suffocate due to indigestion on the all things that you to put your hands on rather than be hungry on focusing just the few areas

If you would like to find out more, go to GoodtoGreat website. There's ample of resource from podcast, tools, article etc that able to lead your company from Good to Great !

Overall, I give a 9.5 out of 10 for this book

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Last Lecture - Randy Pausch


Today, I would like share to with you all another very interesting audiobook. A real life inspiring story about a Professor who is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer (A very lethal cancer that caused 95% fatality among sufferers). Dr Randy was given the oppurtunity to present his last lecture in front of a packed lecture hall last September 2007. The lecture is a customary to Carnegie-Mellon U for those who'll be retiring. Instead his last, was actually bought forward due to his illness. You can download the video available courtesy of youtube

How I came across this ?
I came across this while searching thru Amazon top 100 best selling books. The title of the book is called The Last Lecture The title intrigue me as why it's called this and it's not an academic book.


He outlines the following
1. My childhood dreams
2. Enabling the dreams of others
3. Lessons learned : how you can achieve your dreams or enable the dreams of others

He talks about brick walls
1. Let us show our dedication
2. Let us know how badly we want things. That does reminds me of my university days dream when I couldn't be a Computer Science student. I did graduate as a Master of Computer Science in UPM after a lecturer challenge me that I should pursue this if you complete my degree. Now I'm still working on IT and enjoying it :)

Important character traits that you should have
1. How to get people to help you - Karma works in wonderful way
2. Be earnest,
3. Tell the truth,
4. Apologise - i) What I did was wrong ii) I feel badly that I hurt you iii) How do I make this better
5. Focus on others not yourself

His Important Advice
1. Be good at something; it makes you valuable
2. Work hard
3. Find the best in everybody; no matter how you have to wait for them to show it.
4. Luck = preparation meet oppurtunity

His other advise
1. Get the feedback loop and listen to it
2. Show Gratitude
3. Don't complain just work harder
4. Sports teach us to have teamwork, preserverence, sportsmanship, value of hard work, dealing with adversity
5. For succession it is finding someone better than you to handover

People that you can learn from
The roles of parents, mentors, friends, colleague and students
Bosses - respecting them and question it
People that care for you will do the following - If they see you doing things badly and nobody is bothering to tell you that is a bad place to be. Critic still telling you because they care.

Time management advice
1. delegate
2. take a time out
3. speed up telephone conversation - i.e. call people at 11.55am, stand up while in conversation

In Essence
1. Have FUN !!! It's like telling the fish the importance of water and be a Tigger
2. Never lose the child like wonder
3. Never give up......

Important tips for parents
Let your children do their own painting at the wall. Don't stop them of their childhood dream of doing something great and wonderful.

Memorable quotes
"Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you want"
"We can't change the card we're dealt, just how we play in our hand"
"The truth will set you free"
"Loyalty is a 2 way street"

That was it ! Stay tune for more good audiobook review in the time to come