Thursday, December 20, 2007

Self Mastery - Multitasking

One of the important skill of a successful person, is that he or she is able to handle several things at the same time or is able to wear several hats or responsibilities at the same time. Gone are the traditional roles of mom and dad. Dad just need to bring home the bacon and mom just need to take care of the house and children. In the modern society, mom now need to work and dad plays a bigger role in bringing up the kids and sometimes as a homemaker too. The role of this multitasker multiples in a single parent home. It started when you are getting an education and continues on when you start to take home an income and start a family.

It can be overwhelming especially when it seems like you can't handle all the tasks at hand. Productivity suffers and nothing seems to get done.

An article "How to Multitask" by Catherine Bush. Shows us a way to effectively multitask.

1. Don't think you can actually do two things at once. Even when you think you're doing more than one thing simultaneously ...... Unlike a computer, the brain isn't structured as a parallel processor. It performs actions, even very simple actions, in a strict linear sequence. You must complete the first task, or part of that task, before moving on to the next. What we call multitasking is actually task switching......

2. Prioritize. To know when to switch tasks, you must distinguish between the tasks you must perform and those you can afford to blow off......

3. Immerse yourself in your immediate task, but don't forget what remains to be done next. To switch tasks successfully, the brain must marshal the resources required to perform the new task while shutting off, or inhibiting, the demands of the previous one.......

4. Depend on routines -- and compare new tasks with old ones. Multitasking becomes easier, scientists believe, when you make parts of the process routine......

5. Make schedules, not to-do lists...... For those of us who find multitasking difficult, Burgess claims that the simplest aids -- like timers and alarms -- are the most effective. When the American astronaut Jerry Linenger was working aboard the space station Mir, he wore three or four watches with alarms set to notify him when to switch tasks.......

Do read the complete article at The New York Times online.

A great example of an effective multitasker is a good pianist playing with an orchestra. He has to follow and listen to the rest of the orchestra and follow the conductor while listening to himself playing the piano. At the same time, looking at the score which contains 2 lines of music symbols, interpret them and uses both of his hands, each play a different lines which may contrast greatly while watching all the intonation symbols on the scores and matching his playing to those intonation. And with all these going on, he has to feel the music and expresses himself through the playing of the music.

Another modern example is when you are a team member in an online multiplayer game. Each of the team member has a specific task to perform. But generally, each player has to coordinate and play his own role well for the team to win. He has to be aware of the surrounding terrain, know where the enemies, his team members and his allies are and what are them doing and their life and mana status, watch the communication window, communicate with each other, follow the leader instruction while performing his own role like going after the enemy, protect or assist his own team members, heal his team member, etc.

These 2 examples exemplified that one has to be an effective multitasker to play his role well. The 5 steps above clearly explains how a person is able to all these task well. My interpretation of an effective multitasker are these 5 steps;

1. Tasks switching in a quick succession.
2. Prioritize.
3. Focus on the task at hand while be acutely aware of the ongoing or other tasks.
4. Practice makes perfect and let the brain handles those that need less cognitive awareness.
5. Schedule and follow a list.

Another way to be a more effective multitasker is to make good use of technologies. An article "The Art of Multitasking" by Alison Overholt in one of the Fast Company Magazine issue shows how and technologies are favoured by several multitaskers.

Generally, it has to has a PDA like function which allows you to prioritize your tasks, make a list and follow it. As the name implies, it acts like a Personal Assistant. Enabling you to focus the tasks at hand while be aware of the next coming task and not be afraid of missing out any task, especially the important ones and do it with a right order, in terms of priorities or time aligned task.

It has to have the ability to let you communicate with other people, instantly, leave a message, talk to multiple people at the same, look at each other and maybe at a great distance or just next door. This will allow you and other people to be aware of what they or you are doing. It lets you keep abreast of things going on around, awareness. This may comes in the form of instant messaging, teleconference or webinar, email, fax, handphone, Internet, etc.

Another important ability is that it allows you to streamline your task. Able to let you do each task efficiently and fast, and lined them up so that you can switch from one task to the other quickly and smoothly. Organised the task in a manner where all or most can be done efficiently and timely.

The skills, knowledge and technologies to help a person to multitask in this modern society is important. This is why there are people who take strides in being a successful single parent who raise good and capable children while having a successful career in a fast pace corporate world without feeling winded but may becoming even more energetic. Well, when things get done and task accomplished, the rewards comes back in the sense of achievement and it will further nurture the inner you. Feeling winded in the modern society? Learn to multi-task well.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Self Mastery - Mindset

There is a Chinese proverb which goes;


A quick translation, "an old man lost his horse, it maybe a blessing in disguise" , "old man gain an extra horse, there maybe an impending disaster"

A detail background to this Chinese proverb goes:

An old man lost his horse as it went wild and ran away. His neighbour came to console him for the lost. But the old man instead calmly said that this is a blessing. So, months after the horse ran away, it came back with another horse. His neighbour now came to congratulate him for gaining an extra horse. But the old remarked instead that this is a disaster. True to what he said, his son fell from riding this new wild horse. Broke his leg and became a disabled person. His neighbour again came to console him for this bad fortune that befell on his son. The old man unmoved and said that this is a blessing. A year later, a war broke out and all abled man are drafted into the army. The lost is great and many man lost their lives. His son who was disabled was not drafted into the army and was spared. Both he and his son were able to live a peaceful life.

The lesson learn here is that sometimes a lost can be a blessing in disguise. Something good happened may take a drastic change in fortune. In short, good happenings may take a bad turn to become a disaster and bad happening may lead to something good.

So, when all things goes well, do not take it for granted as things might took a nasty turn. And when things are going south, stay positive as you may likely to find an opportunity in there.

This has happened in history time and time again. A good example is how the richest Chinese Li Ka-Shing made his fortune. In 1967, Hong Kong properties prices plunges as a result of Cultural Revolution riots in China. Confidence in Hong Kong future has plummeted. Things looks bad. But Li staying positive that this is only temporary and bought many properties at rock bottom prices. Properties prices did eventually rises.

A similar event has happened in US which we know it as the subprime crisis. Things are looking good in pre-2006. Economy is booming. You can get loan easily to purchase the house of your dream. Causes for it varies.

One important lesson learned here is that things looking may not be actually good and things can turned south. This is to stay cautious when things are good. On another note, one should stay positive when things looks bad. The economy will probably be able to recover from this crisis as there are still many sectors in the economy that are doing well. So, properties is probably a good buy now. Then again, one should stay caution and use the usual common sense and other usual methods to find out whether a property in a certain area will rises again in the near future.

Stay cautious when things are going well. Stay positive and look for opportunities when things aren't going well.


Saturday, December 8, 2007

Blogging as part of your Business Strategy

Instead of Blogging as your main source of business, blogging to support and give value to your main business. So what are the ways that blogging will help in your business.

1. Propaganda - Promote your main business.
This business strategy can work in a few ways.

a. Provide information of your product. This can comes in the form showing the nuts and bolts or inner working of your product. Show how to use your product. Show the features of your product. Basically, promote your product.

b. Tell people that how good your product is. The effects and benefits you get when you use the product.

c. Educate your customer. Not just those things that mentioned in a and b about your product but also related knowledge that will be helpful or simply make them more knowledgeable.

2. Offer extra value to your customer.
This business strategy will help to endear your customer to your products and turn them into your loyal customer.

a. Show what are the ways or recipes you can use to create something or do with your product.

b. Show how to "pimp", customise or modify the product to suit the customers taste or preference or to improve or change the functions of the product.

Examples of how blogging help with a certain business.

A. eBay business. Make good use of the About Me to let your customer know more about you. But this is probably limited in terms of the amount of things you can share. So, let them know about your blog.

i. Do announcement of new items of for sale on eBay. You can create loyal customers by having subscribers to your blog and they can know immediately through the subscription that you have a new item for sale.

ii. A more detailed description of the listed sale item. This way you can also educate your customer the history and the value of the item, especially the collectibles. Gain in doing this is that your customer will happy to know they are collecting or buying something of maybe sentimental or historical value and other gain is that you maybe able to sell the item at a much higher price.

iii. Create special promotions for your loyal customers who will subscribe and give them value and saving by staying loyal.

iv. Let your customer to get to know you better and your history of all the listed items. This can help to gain a reputation of things you are able to source to sell. It will work like a charm if you are specialised in certain collectibles and maybe they are able to get a similar item from you in the future.

v. Research on your customer by maybe using polls.

vi. Gain extra useful feedback from your readers using the comments.

vii. Create loyal customers using the above methods.

viii. Spin off in doing this, you might earn a tidy income from the ads in the blog. So in this case, having a blog works both ways and the bottom line is that you can use it to increase your sales in eBay and as well as profiteering from the ads in the blog.

B. Kitchenware business

i. After making a successful sale, you can further engage with your customer by letting them know what other useful things kitchenware you are selling.

ii. Educate your customer and let them know, how to use of your product in best possible ways. How to maintain your product. Possible problem and how to troubleshoot them.

iii. Give extra value like providing recipes that will use one of your kitchenware.

iv. Show your customers how to create a theme in the kitchen with your wares as these things are able to not only function to help to prepare or cook your food but also it can help to decorate your kitchen to your taste. Customisation of the look of the wares may even be possible to match overall theme in the kitchen. This help to make your kitchenware not to stick out like a sore thumb among the nicely coordinated kitchen furniture and wares and might even compliment the overall theme.

v. An additional way to promote your wares which you can draw in an international customers on the Internet.

vi. Research on your customer by using tools like polls.

vii. Gain extra useful feedback from your readers and maybe also further interaction by using the comments.

viii. Create a loyal group of customers using the above methods.

ix. Spin off in earning ads revenue with the blog.


Friday, December 7, 2007

Bulletin Board 07 December 2007

This is where I will be making announcement pertaining to this blog and announcing of others blog that I will be setting up in the future. The bulletin board will probably be non-related to the main focus of this blog. After all, this will be just an announcement and to let you know what is happening.

Just did a total revamp on the whole website yesterday to give a more professional look and as well as to add a new column so that there will be space for more navigation tools and as well as ads for the blog. From a 2 column green and dark blue theme to become a white, grey and red theme. Having white as the background for the main content should make reading a lot more easier.

In the process of changing the template, I have lost several widget tools and as well as the expandable function of each post. Right now, I am in the process of further refining the blog to make it more user friendly and will probably add a search tool in the future.


Thursday, December 6, 2007

Self Mastery Series - Passion and Motivation

Ever wonder why some people are more successful in what they are doing and also in life. The prime motivating factor behind it, is passion and motivation. Some would call it drive, etc. Motivation is more than drive and passion is more than motivation. I would be taking a holistic view of why drive, motivation and passion helps one find success in their own goals, life and businesses.

I have this eureka moment when I was watching Nat Geo, My Brilliant Brain - Born Genius. Interestingly, it is mentioned only well pass the the halfway point in the program. Nonetheless, I feel that this is a key ingredient in been success in life and in whatever you are doing. It is mentioned in the program as the "Iron will to Succeed", "Gifted kids Drive themselves", and also as mention by a Developmental Psychologist Ellen Winner,"Rage the Master" and rage is used as it captures in the intensity of the drive.

But just having the drive is not enough to see you to success. This is why I mentioned taking a holistic method towards having a drive to succeed.

When you have the drive, you are motivated. You are motivated usually because of a goal or target. You wanted to achieve this or that. Earned my first million, break the 100m sprint record, the honour and prestige in getting the Noble prize. Then you will start to think. Thinking of ways and methods to achieving the goal. If this way is not it, then look for another way. This part is called the forward thinking that is within motivation. Why it is so? When you have a goal, you will start to look forward and find the possible "paths" to get there.

Passion will bring you to the next level. You are not just driven or motivated but you really really love doing the things you are doing on this "path". The "Path" is like the tasks on this way to achieving the goal and sometimes it can be like practicing 12 hours a day on the piano, everyday and you will not grow sick of it and even want some more of it. This passion sometimes will also helps you to pick yourself right up again if you "fall".

"Rage the Master" to describe the intensity of the drive, motivation and passion. I may like to put it as the "never give up" attitude and see till it succeed. Also come back stronger, smarter and more determine to succeed.

In conclusion, I would just used these key words, goals, dream, drive, motivated, passion, rage the master, never give up, iron will to succeed and forward thinking. Maybe there should be more but these will do for now.


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Successful business catered to the masses at affordable price

TV Discovery Travel and Living, Europe Richest People, feature a number of rich people and how they started their business. Some of them have really humble beginning. The series also followed briefly their current lifestyle. Normally, one would have marvelled at the kind of life they are living now. I was thinking more intently how these people become successful. These people seems to come from a very diverse background and were in very different businesses. But still, there is a common denominator other they are very rich.

Their businesses focus on catering to the need of masses at affordable prices. So who are they? They are EasyJet started by Stelios Haji-Ioannou , Maxim magazine owned by Dennis Publishing, a major liquor mart in Europe and a men's tailor suit empire in Europe. (My apologies for not able to get the names of the last 2 business).

Lets take a look individually at their common denominator.

EasyJet marketing strategy was 'making flying as affordable as a pair of jeans' and allowing the
masses to afford travelling by air in Europe.

Maxim magazine became so successful because they catered to the most commonly spoken language, English and to all the men in lots of countries. They are able to go where no men's magazine has gone before as there are no nude pictures in the publication and therefore mostly allowed by authorities in different countries on the magazine stands. In short, they are able reach and satisfy the need of the masses (men) with affordable prices (price of a magazine) and with local preference.

The major liquor store in Europe started by selling liquor cheaply. Therefore, making it affordable to the masses to consume liquor like beer, wine, etc.

A major Men's tailor suit store sells affordable quality suits made in India. By having the suits made in India, they are able to lower the cost of a suit. This made tailored suits affordable to lots of people.

The 2 important lesson learned here is;
1. Make the prices affordable to the masses and they will keep coming back to you.,
2. Scale up the business so that your business is able to reach the intended masses and therefore larger customer base.

Other notably examples are Wal-Mart and Carrefour. Wal-Mart 2007 is currently the largest company in the world. At present, they are still scaling up and trying to reach to an even larger customer base in Europe.

There are also other things I have learned while watching the program.

Felix Dennis from Dennis Publishing has a simple strategy in his business. It is able to spot need of the people and cater to it before it became apparent.

The liquor empire owner has a simple but effective mindset in in doing things and in his business. It is ok to fail sometimes, but he will get back stronger and more determine to succeed.

EasyJet Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou travel using his own airline and did whatever a regular customer will do. Book a ticket, check in himself and fly in the common class. This way, he is able to check if the system if it is running properly at the customer level and also able to interact with other passenger so he will know and understand them better.


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

What I learned from Ben

In my short meeting with him, he shared not only ideas of doing eBay business and soft skills but also other business ideas. I think I managed to caught a glimpse of the entrepreneur mind in him.

What exactly did I see?
I see that he is constantly thinking of things and ways to expand or broaden his business and not just optimising as I mentioned in this "What I learned from Ben Dr eBay" post. One simple example is jhong ren who started a wedding blog and even launched an ebook on wedding planning.

So what can he go on from here? Fine tune his blog and business further?
Ben just give him this simple advice.

1. After getting married, what will you do.... buy a house, start a blog on getting a house and decor.

2. After moving in together, a couple may like to have children, start a blog on having and raising children.

3. Married couples may divorced for various reasons, so start a blog on getting a divorce.

I have something to add here... after getting married, it can be tough to be living together and the clashed of character or personality is even greater when you see each other day in day out. And there are also numerous things that can turn a married life sour or the passion for each cold. So start a blog on Staying Happily Married....

This is actually a kind of thinking forward way of expanding from your original business or blog. Some might call this diversifying or adding value to your original business. I would just call this business mapping.

So what is business mapping?
It works quite similar to a mind map. With your core or original business in the middle. You make roads outward from the core to create a subset or branch from the core. This subset or branch have direct links to the core and therefore further adds value to core or original business.

Take for example the MacDonald restaurant owner in Singapore decided that he wanted to expand his business.

1. First thing he did, is to have delivery service. This adds value to the original business and gives their customers extra service and it add value for the customer too.

2. Next, he started McCafe which a number them sprouted at the existing or new MacDonald restaurants. This broaden the business and it actually builds upon from the original business and giving their customers extra choices. If you notice, he did not just add cappuccino and lattes to the menu in the original restaurant but grew an entire new cafe which gives its customer a totally different experience from the original. But remember, this is build upon from the original. So, this new cafe builds upon from the original giving it a head start to compete with other coffee cafes like Starbucks and CoffeeBeans. And at the same time giving a new experience to their customers and there are several resources that can be shared thus saving costs for the owner.

Another way to look at it is, giving the customers a one stop place where he can get everything he need or want from a single place. A good example is from my motorcycle mechanic. He started a business in motorcycle repair and maintenance. He realised that his customers have several other needs pertaining to motorcycle.

1. Customer wanted to buy or sell a motorcycle. He started a trading business in motorcycle.

2. Customer needed financing to buy a motorcycle. He started to a financial business giving loan.

3. Customer needed to buy insurance and road tax. He liaises with insurance companies to buy insurance for his customers and did "runner" for his customer to help them buy road tax.

4. Motorcycle breaks down on the road. He liaised with transport company to bring the bike in.

5. Customer need to wear helmets. He started selling helmets.

In conclusion, by doing a business mapping, one will be able to see or find what are the areas that your business can grow out to or start one that build upon from the core.


Monday, December 3, 2007

Soft skills from Ben Dr eBay 02

This an extension of time management. It is about squeezing out any of the available time and use it productively. What Ben suggested is that when you are travelling on a bus or train, you will be doing nothing much except standing, sitting or staring at the passing scenery. So, make use of this "idle time" to think of things.

Why think of things?
Part of time management, is to plan and think ahead of what are the things to do to achieve your goals or objectives. So, all this planning and thinking ahead will require quite a bit thinking through. The more challenging your objectives are, the more thoughts you will have to put through to come up with creative and workable solutions.

How the thought process is like?
The thought process is most probably like... to get to here... I will need to do this then this then this... and what other ways that can get there also... It can be a thought experiment to see or find out the end results of certain actions. It is like..."if I do this... I get this. If I use another method... then I will get this." It can be used quickly to get through the various possible methods or ways to achieve your desired result and find out which is the best one. There are several requirement to do this well. These are experience, ability to think critically, ability to generate ideas, etc.

A most notable example is Albert Einstein and this famous thought experiment of visualising of traveling alongside a beam of light and what are the things or effects he will see. This how he was able to come up with his famous theory of Special Relativity. Other famous examples are the Schrödinger's cat which is an imaginary experiment or a thought experiment by Erwin Schrödinger.

Using it effectively, it may probably help you to save time and resources from doing things or tasks that may not work or generate the desired results. So, you might need to test out the ideas and correlate the actual result with the thought results. By doing so, you will gain the confidence and experience to achieve better results in the future.

Other ways of finding more time for your thoughts can be like, waiting in a queue or waiting for someone, watch less tv program, etc. Basically, brain idle time and it has to be when there isn't any danger to you when you are deep in thoughts. (Sometimes some people might call this spacing out) So what is your way of squeezing out more time for productivity?

During my meeting with Ben, I was quite puzzled that he stop talking at one point of time and was looking through a free magazine while I was staring at him. A kind of odd silence and maybe a little bit rude... maybe... but I realised later that he is actually letting his brain work out a bit to think through things and consider whether I'm suitable to be his student. That day, he was a little bit sick and was thinking slower than usual. Thanks for meeting me even when you are not feeling that well.


Sunday, December 2, 2007

Self Mastery Series - Learning to like things that you don't - NLP

This is the very first of the self mastery topics that I will be touching on. Why self mastery.... it is because the path of success in life and entrepreneurship will have lots of difficulties and the chief culprit is the lack of control over one behaviour, thoughts or action. So, by mastering oneself, a person can take control of his/her own life and gear towards success and happiness. It is interesting to know that sometimes people tends to do things that is counter productive or even engage in self destructive behaviour even though one maybe fully aware of it but cannot really help it. Enough said, lets start.

This is something which I learned years ago but did not give much thought to it till now. Learning to like things that you dislike. Well, not just anything, but things that are actually good for you or can help you in a big way but somehow you just don't really like it.

I asked my colleague that how he managed to get his 1st class honours degree in one of most competitive school system in the world, Singapore. Note : Getting the grades is not enough to get 1st class honours, only the top 2-5 % of the cohort get it.

He simply put it, "learn to like the subjects that you hate." Why learn to like the subjects that you hate... no matter how much you might like your degree program, there will be bound to have some subjects that you really don't like or even hate it. These disliked subjects will pull down your overall credit points because you will definitely not be doing too well on it.

How this will work?

Remember that the pet subjects that you have back in school that always have very good grades? When you like a subject...

1. You will tend to spend more time and heart working on it.

2. You will go the extra mile become really good in it.

3. When you become really good in it, there will be a sense of satisfaction and you will feel better about it and will go through no.1 and 2 again and again.

4. With each each progression, you will repeatedly repeat the process. While doing so you will find that you can derived more joy from it and will really look forward doing it to become better and better.

5. Even when there is any obstacles, your "true love" of the subject will ensure that you will not at pulling out all available reserves to overcome it and the process will then repeat from 1 to 4.

(This is sometimes how expert or gurus are created. A great example will be Michael Jordan. How he became one of the best basketball player of all time will be a good read. In fact, in the early beginning, he is not that good. But passion, goal and sheer hard work make him into the person that we all know now. You can read more about it at a Michael Jordan tribute site.)

So, how do you make yourself to like those "good things" that you hate?

This is where Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) comes in.

1. A simple method is by association. Reward yourself with something that you really like when you have completed doing the targeted amount of tasks as required of the dislike subject. So, you will not hate it so much anymore. Slowly, you will start to associate things that makes you feel good with it.

2. Break it up into chunks and pieces. Take a "bite" at those pieces that does not seems so bad or those that you might even like. With each extra "bite", you will tell yourself that it is actually not so bad or maybe even really good. (George H W Bush might want to take a couple of hints here. He might fall in love eating his broccoli.)

3. Psyched yourself up. Keep telling yourself that it is good and make a list saying why it is good. Some of you might think that this is easier said than done but if you combined this with methods 1 and 2, this will be easier to accomplish.

I will appreciate it if anyone of you guys and gals out there have tried this method and give an objective feedback of your experience. Together, we will learned more ways to apply.


Saturday, December 1, 2007

Book Titles I am reading this month

These are the books which I will be reading to up my learning curve. I do not just want to learn most of my Internet marketing skills just online alone. Hopefully, I can finished them all in a month time. Subsequently, I will be giving a review of these books which I have finished reading. I will highlight important points and lessons that I have learned especially those that I found to be of most value....

These are the books I'm currently aiming to finish by the end of this year.

1. Secrets of Internet Millionaires - by Stuart Tan

2. Startup - Start Your Own Blogging Business - by Entrepreneur Press and J.S. McDougall

3. Making a Living from Your eBay Business 2nd Ed - by Michael Miller

4. Tips and Traps for Writing an Effective Business Plan - by Greg Balanko-Dickson

5. Fast Company's Greatest Hits - Ten Years of the Most Innovative Ideas in Business - Edited by Mark N, Vamos and David Lidsky

"Why such variety of books?" one might ask.
Well, I wanted to gain knowledge on Internet marketing and how I can earn a living and perhaps get rich using the Internet.

"Book 1, 2 and 3 seems to be on par on the target but book 4 and book 5?"
These books will help to improve on my basic technical skills in business and also it will help to create an entrepreneurship mind (hopefully). So stay tuned what I have learned.