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

Monday, June 16, 2008

My new day - The Day That Turns Your Life Around review


I decided to start back my blog again. Wow ! Time do fly and I've open by blog since last December. I'm back !. Back with a vengeance. This time it's really for the passion and sense (investing on dollar and cents). OK. Let's start with my last Saturday activity. I've attended a preview of the Profit Blogging workshop. I picked up few tips and tricks.

Some elements of good blogs
1. Regular update ( 2- 6 times a week)
2. Relevant content especially about your passion (Don't try to talk about any possible news out there, we all know oil price had become RM2.70/litre)
3. Around 150 - 300 words (This is subjective, but still K.I.S.S)

Now back to business. My passion in listening audiobook had never abated. After finishing this audiobook, I'm compelled to share this with all my family, friends and colleague. In short, I found my reason !

Therefore, I would like to recommend you a audiobook that I've just finished listened. It's by one of the famous speaker, Jim Rohn. You can get this in bittorrent, Nightangle Conant, Amazon etc. The title is called The Day That Turns Your Life Around

Jim Rohn story is quite touching. At the age of 25, he met his mentor Earl Schoaff and work under a network marketing business. At the age of 31, he become a millionaire

In this audio programme, it's a compilation of his famous speeches and interviews on topics that are interesting to anyone. Some of the topics include
1. Goal setting
2. Time management
3. How to life a worthwhile life
4. Four emotional states that can change your life etc
5. Importantance of mentor

You can pick up a lot of quick tips and insight to success and achievement. I still able to pick up a lot of new things despite my numerous listening of his vastly available title.

What I like about the programme (+)
1. Programme is structured
2. It makes you motivated and becoming action oriented
3. Some of his best speeches in 1 programme. Good for those who don't have the time to listen to all his programme

What the programme could done better (-)
1. Narrative example of success stories to reinforce the idea mentioned
2. Material recording is quite dated, should include relevant topics i.e. globalization, emergence China and India

This is it ! My 1st posting on audiobook review to everyone in the Internet. Surely it won't be the last ! Do leave some comments if you have anything that you would like to share and if you have other stuff for me to read/listened. Contact me as well in case you need to borrow this from me.

P/S : In case anyone wondering what's K.I.S.S, it's meant Keep It Simple Stupid !