Friday, December 16, 2005

Heroes (I)

Class had one session and asked who were our heroes and to discuss what qualities they had. Immediately, I blurted out "James Bond".

After some discussion, the attribute that James Bond had that made him a hero wasn't his charm and wit, but rather his ability to stay calm and confident under pressure.

James Bond. Because he's the cool can do it all man.

He's quick thinking and tough, yet he manages to wrap it all with the gentlemanly manners of an Englishman.

He's not a tech genius, he needs Q for that. Yet he has the charm and wit and purpose of a man on a mission.

The Entrepreneur's Credo


I do not choose to be a common man,
it is my right to be uncommon... if I can,
I seek opportunity... not security,
I do not wish to be a kept citizen,
humbled and dulled by having the
state look after me.
I want to take the calculated risk;
to dream and to build,
to fail and to succeed.
I refuse to barter incentive for a dole;
I prefer the challenges of life
to the guaranteed existence;
the thrill of fulfillment
to the stale calm of Utopia.
I will not trade freedom for beneficence
nor my dignity for a handout.
I will never cower before any master
nor bend to any threat.
It is my heritage to stand erect,
proud and unafraid;
to think and act for myself,
to enjoy the benefit of my creations
and to face the world boldly and say:
This, with God's help, I have done.
All this is what it means
to be an Entrepreneur

Excerpt from Common Sense, written in 1776 by Thomas Paine.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Verse Of The Week

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12)

The Deficiencies of Language: Quality, Quantity

Quality. Quantity.

I was talking to with some classmates and mentioned that human beings are getting less sleep than 100 years ago when people normally slept 10 hours a day.

Someone then interjected, it's not the quantity of sleep but the quality that's important.

Yes, however, 6 hours of quality sleep is still insufficient for a human being. That's like 40% less sleep than usual.

That's like saying a person needs 8 glasses of water a day and someone saying it's not the quantity but the quality that's important. Whether you drink tap water or swiss alpine mineral water, you still need 8 glasses of water. You can survive on 6 or 4 glasses of water a day, but the consequences accumulate over your lifetime. You are less energetic, your metabolism slows down, toxins accumulate in your body, your body is less supple, and your body deteriorates more rapidly.

Getting less sleep means that your body may compensate with micro-sleep. 4-5 minutes of sleep during the day. Less concentration. Your mind is also focused at the end of the day to getting to bed or longing for rest. Slower responses.

In France, fatigue causes 1 in 3 accidents while drug/alcohol affected driving only causes 1 in 5! (link).

"Drivers averaging less than 7 hours of sleep per night increased their odds of being in a sleep-related crash versus a non-sleep related crash nearly 2-fold." Driving While Sleepy Should Be A Criminal Offense Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine

If you saw your friend intending to drink an extra 5 drinks in bar would you stop him? Yes. But if he said he is going to get 2 hours less sleep? Yet 1 drink on 6 hours of sleep is equivalent of 6 drinks on 8 hours of sleep. (link) Taking 3 drinks would already get you arrested for drunk driving!

Yet, workaholic societies like Singapore applaud "sacrificing sleep" as virtues rather than as liabilities.

Quantity does equate to quality in this instance.

The problem perhaps lies in our language. Because we have two different words to describe the benefit of an object, we think that they are separate issues.

Our language doesn't imply that there is an interconnection between issues. When we use language to analyze issues, in our "scientifically trained" education, we think that certain factors are independant of one another.

(The scientific method works by taking various conditions, changing one factor and leaving the others constant. Doing this on each element or method one-by-one, by process of elimination we can arrive at source of the problem/solution.)

What other clashes of words lead us to believe that they are independent of one another?

How about:

Humility and confidence.
Flexibility and consistency.
Simplicity and profoundness.
Meek and powerful.
Task oriented and people oriented.

Seemingly opposed words, yet true leaders and wise men know that in life both combine together.

I wonder really then, the language, words and grammar of angels. The language of humans need to evolve even further.

Before This, All Balls Were Wobbly

Adidas unveils Official Ball

"When you kick it, it goes in the right direction," Zidane said.

You mean the ball never went the right direction with current balls?

"With the ball's movement, it doesn't go off everywhere, it goes where you want it to go and that's important. Your passing, controlling and shooting of the ball - it's in one direction and that's what you need." David Beckham.

Oh wow, you mean that before this in all football matches, the ball never shot straight and never went where you wanted it to go? You mean a ball can go in two directions at the same time?

Ooooh... I see, look closely, all of the errors when players missed the goal... you can now blame on the ball.

And what will happen in 2010 when another new ball is introduced? What will they say then? "Before this, the ball didn't have enough power, the ball couldn't... etc..."

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Sober Fact Of The Week

Half an hour everyday over 48 years adds up to 1 year.

So, if you can save 1/2 hour everyday by forgoing unnecessary, unimportant, things, you add one whole year of time in your life to do other more important and enjoyable things to do.

And that's not just a chronological year, it's an entire year of time alive, awake-potentially productive time.

So, make it a point to shave 1 minute here and a minute there. Even 15 minutes a day saved, adds up to 6 months of extra time over 48 years.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Strangeness of Human Nature

Despite all that is taught about there removing discrimination. It exists in the minds of everyone.

I noticed this when I was looking at Malaysian billboards and tv ads. There is a tendency to go for the "pan-asian" look. A mix of gweilo and asian features so that you don't really know what race the person is. Hardly do I see any ads of Indians despite them being 10% of the Malaysian population.

Why do some advertisers choose people of a certain race to promote certain items? If people are not racially prejudiced there wouldn't be any difference who you put in an ad to promote it.

The realities of life is that preferences based on race, sex, beauty do exist.

Despite saying "what's outside doesn't matter as much as the inside", people do judge based on appearances. Somebody once said, "only ugly people say 'what only matters is the inside.'"

Despite all the teaching of logic, people in reality do not make decisions based on logic. 99.99% of people make decisions based on their emotions.

Unfortunately, this fact must be learned from experience. I have never really read any textbook that said, "humans are make decisions emotionally." But declaring that out loud by a teacher in primary school implies, she being a human herself makes decisions emotionally and treats people emotionally and even has prejudices.

Somehow, learning the uncertainties, the foibles and vagaries of human nature is often left to chance. Perhaps the best source of understanding it is from creative works like literature and drama.

Marketers and sales people must understand human nature and what influences decision makers.

I hear that certain sales departments actually map out a prospects decision making hierarchy and who the real decision makers are and who are the influencers and what are their buttons.
For example, the CEO may be the decision maker on paper, but it may be his right-hand man that's the one who really runs the show together with his mistress. These things are never written down on paper but they must be learnt. Learning to read in between the lines is something that isn't taught in school but is a necessary school.
In a majority of people what a person says is 95% never what he does. But you can't say this to a person's face. Nobody likes being called a hypocrite.
A lot of humans don't really say what they want. They say what they think they want. Most don't really know what they want.
A lot of humans also believe that they are the center of the universe. Which is also untrue but is an unfortunate illusion that is shared by 95% of the population.
Why do people in authority teach subordinates when they make a mistake to promise, "It will never happen again." Looking at it logically, noone can promise anything with absolute certainty (the word "never") what happens in the future. You might be able to say, "I will do all that is within my power to make minimise the chances of it to not happen again. However, the future is not ours to see." But replying that would make you look like a smart-aleck. What the authority figure wants is really reassurance and perhaps some grovelling on your part to feed his own inflated ego in the illusion that he can order someone around.
Which brings us to the point, since people by nature believe they are the centre of the universe, they hate being upstaged by anyone else.
Another strange belief that humans have is that they have control. Which isn't true. You can't control anything except what you think, say or do. You can give orders to your subordinates, but he may choose not to do it.
In reality, there is nothing we do control. We only control our choices, our thoughts, our values, our attitudes.
Another strange concept humans have is this thing called "ownership". It permeates our language, words like "my car", "my house", "my wife", "my children", "my life". There is nothing we own in this world. Not even our lives. We have to give it up permanently one day.
We don't own our wives, we don't own our children but people sometimes want to force their children to be their own fantasy doll to live out their own dreams and to do the things that they themselves never dared risk themselves.
And when confronted with truth, humans will deny it.
Strange creatures these humans.

Don't Get Left Behind

Travelling a normal "Super-VIP" or "VIP" coach from KL to Singapore normally involves a 30 minute break for meals and bladder relief. It normally happens sometime for lunch or dinner time.

This is what you get when you don't return to your bus on time after your break.

You get left behind by a disgruntled bus driver.

This happened at the Lucky Garden rest stop at Yong Peng.

But on second thoughts, what happened to him? I could only shoot a prayer for him and hope he wasn't robbed in the toilet or somehow passed out somewhere.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Life Is Meant To Be Simple

Life is really meant to be simple.

It's just too cluttered with too many stuff in life that we are distracted and burdened with too many things.

Just list down what are your priorities in life.

How many are there?

At most there are 5-7 things that are of real concern. And one is the most important of them all.

Secondly, there is only one moment that you can be concerned about. And that is now and today.

Take one day at a time. The rest will clear itself up. Take one task at a time. A journey of a thousand miles begin with the first step. Don't worry about the 10th step or the 20th step or the 539th mile.

Let your desk be uncluttered. How many things on your desktop do your really use? Keep the rest in your drawer.

Let your bedroom be uncluttered. How many things on your dresser do you really use?

Let your bathroom be uncluttered. How many items do you use to take care of yourself.

Let your mind be uncluttered. How many things can you do in one day? How many problems can you solve in one day? How many appointments can you make in one day?

Let your daily schedule be simplified and think of what one thing that you want to accomplish today and who you want to encourage today.