"Genius is in-born, may it never be still-born."

"Oysters, irritated by grains of sand, give birth to pearls. Brains, irritated by curiosity, give birth to ideas."

"Brainpower is the bridge to the future; it is what transports you from wishful thinking to willful doing."

"Unless you keep learning & growing, the status quo has no status."

Saturday, January 30, 2010


This unusual post has been prompted by a recent event in my life, during which I have been dragged out of semi-retirement by my good friend, Dilip Mukerjea, to help him helm a project presentation to a bunch of supposedly intelligent professionals, who somehow acted so dumb.

The incident brought me into a seemingly confrontational encounter with one of the aforesaid professionals, who apparently reminded me of my past experiences in the corporate world.

I like to call it the dinosaur mentality, but this one was running on steroids.

Dinosaurs were supposed to have died 65 million years ago following a massive asteroid collision, but that didn't stop creative movie producers from coming out with celluloid dinosaurs.

I am referring to the wonderful trilogy of Jurassic Park movies, plus Godzilla, & not forgetting the earlier versions from Japan. They were my personal favourites as a movie buff.

Interestingly, as a teenager growing up with pains during the sixties, I was often mesmerised by the Flintstones animated television series, especially the hero Fred Flintstone, who often had to grapple with havoc created by his pet dino.

Naturally, I had also watched the two great Flintstones movies.

Back to the 21st century, especially to the aforesaid incident. Dilip & I had to face the crappy humanoid dinosaur.

Because of my desire to understand the science of irrationality, I went back to dig up some of my library books.

The first book that fell into my hands was clinical psychologist Dr Albert Bernstein's 'Dinosaur Brains: Dealing with All Those Impossible People at Work', which I had read during the late eighties.

At that time, I was a General Manager of a technology firm. I was attracted by one particular blurb from the book, "The key to thriving in the corporate jungle is understanding dinosaurs."

The findings from Dr Bernstein were fascinating:

- the humanoid dinosaurs are responsible people who act out unconscious fantasies of the primeval jungle;

- their principal default setting - in other words, primitive thought pattern - is called lizard logic;

- they prefer to work in crisis mode;

- they always try to gain dominance by blind aggressiveness;

- they delight in making other people look stupid & they always have the last word;

- worst still, they think that what they are doing makes perfectly good sense;

Gee Wiz! Dr Bernstein was right on the ball. The illustrative characteristics were manifested right in front of my eyes via the aforesaid gentleman.

By the way, Dr Bernstein had even narrowed down his 7 coping strategies in dealing with lizard logic.

Other books that had appeared in my quick foraging included:

- 'The Dinosaur Strain', by corporate consultant Mark Brown - this one is more about disempowering mindsets & how to reset them;

- 'Mean Markets & Lizard Brain: How to Profit from the New Science of Irrationality', by Professor Terry Burnham - this one explains why lizard logic often screws up our money making initiatives;

- 'Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions', by Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist at MIT - it's worth reading, especially for understanding human behaviour better;

- 'Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness ', by Richard Thaler & Cass Sunstein, both professors - this one is quite an interesting read, even though it is tied to behavioural economics of the American scenario;

Nonetheless, there is one consensus or rather common denominator from all these books:

Our brain is divided into two operating parts:

- the executive brain, where rationality & logic prevails;

- the lizard brain, so to speak, responding more to emotions, present needs, pleasure, temptations, instincts, & pain avoidance;

Sad to say, we continue to share part of our brain with our cold-blooded cousins, & evidence from the above experts had proven that we have very little control over it.

We just have to live with it.

I certainly like what maverick guru Seth Godin has recently exhorted, while launching his new book, 'Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?':

"You don't need to be more creative. All of you are actually too creative. What you need is a quieter lizard brain.

The genius part is getting the lizard brain to shut up long enough to overcome the resistance."

His contention is that our lizard brain is the source of resistance.

For many of us, I reckon this tactical approach is quite an easy thing to do, but for that particular gentleman, regrettably, I don't think so, because Dilip & I also had an earlier but unexpected encounter with him several weeks ago. For a man of his standing, his negative thoughts were horrendous.

I really feel sorry for all the people who have to work & live unwittingly at the mercy of his mesozoic logic & disconnected behaviour.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


“There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.”

~ William Shakespeare;

[Dilip Mukerjea has alerted me to this wonderful quote, which he had in fact learned when he was just a primary school kid in a top boarding school in India. He brought it up during the course of an email conversation, when we talked about the propensity of some fellow beings, who would prefer to sit idly "on the fence", so to speak, despite having opportunities standing right at their doorstep.]


Last week, my good friends from Indonesia, Alex & Santi, popped into Singapore on their way to Kuala Lumpur.

Upon their arrival at the Fullerton Hotel in the late morning, we met up at the Cedele coffee joint in Raffles Place, where I took the opportunity to introduce them to my good friend, Dilip Mukerea.

Together with their eldest son, Victor, now studying in Singapore, all five of us took a short MRT train ride to Raffles City, where we had a quick lunch at the Din Tai Fung steamed dumpling restaurant. The foregoing picture was shot outside the restaurant.

We later adjourned to the nearby Toastbox for local coffee & tea.

Interestingly & coincidentally, & also without knowing each other, Alex & Santi runs their own Superbrain training outfit in Jakarta ever since the nineties, while Dilip Mukerjea's debut book was entitled 'Superbrain', released during the mid-nineties.

By the way, Alex has the entire collection of Dilip's books, including 'Superbrain', all specially autographed by the author.

If everything goes according to plan, arising from the lively discussions on that day, Alex & his family may eventually be the first family of budding authors, with expert guidance from Dilip, of course.

[Incidentally, Alex had written a self-improvement book from the spiritual perspective, released in Bahasa Indonesia, entitled 'If You Want to be Rich, First be Rich', about five years ago. He is contemplating writing his second book, & I have volunteered to be his storyboard guide.]

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Appended below is a great presentation by technologist Denise Caron on VUCA, which stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


The following interesting as well as entertaining cartoon snapshots about technological impacts, reflecting signs of the times, came via email from a business associate, a former IT Director in a bank:

Monday, January 18, 2010


What follows is just a random musing of Dilip Mukerjea, especially when he has the sudden irrepressible itch to write something out of the blue:

When God granted innocence, He made sure He gifted it upon me…along with naïveté! Innocence and naïveté make a cocktail guaranteed to bring down any unsuspecting soul…victim of Canossian Martial Arts. I was one such victim.

This Diminutive Emissary of Providence, alias Nun, I met one afternoon, in the madding crowd that inhabits, and invigorates, a typical Singapore food court. We were introduced by one of those Purified Souls that had been pickled in Pickwickian Principles addressing the rigours of spiritual epistemology; she was also a Wannabe-Nun! She (not the Wannabe, but the Providential Nun of Peerless Pedigree!) smiled, that lethal smile, one that can fell an oak in an instant! Hah! With a multiplicity of souls such as her, the Canossians and their Creative Commando Units are surely on target to trump all chumps…at least one such as me.

I got to ‘know’ her over the next few months, as much as one can know how to catch mercury with a fork! She had been ‘in touch’ with her cognitive meanderings and sporadically called to check on my insanity! One day, with serpentine ease, she inveigled me into agreeing to meet one of the stalwarts of educational brain science at an institution of cerebral invincibility. Despite being incomparably busy with my own agenda, watching the seasons change in Singapore…I agreed, and noted the date, several weeks away. Not trusting my memory, the good sister took it upon herself to send my mnemonic neurons streams of reminders with unmatched regularity. There was no way I could forget the appointment, even if I were to subside into a coma!

The big day arrived. I directed my four-wheeled chariot to her doorstep. We drove to the institution, me driving, she navigating. You can imagine the route taken; nay, the routes, for her skills at geographical intelligence were infused with a diabolical sense of humour! I wheeled us across the highways and byways, waylaid by the wayside, sidetracked by my sidekick, lane-changing with maniacal intent in deference to her colossal sense of direction. We moved, oh did we move, but always in the wrong direction!

She called ‘them’ to say we’d be late…but thanks more to panic than my spatial skills, we arrived…on time! At Reception, she enquired about the Lady Superior of the Institution, declaring in diminutive but determined tones that we had an appointment…as if that were enough to grant us an audience with august beings! The organisms at Reception looked at us as if we’d lost our senses! I looked at ‘her’, the Canossian Connoisseur of Creative Confabulations, as if she’d pranked me and my unsuspecting soul! She stayed composed, a flicker of a smile tugging at the edges of her mouth, her brain resolute; we did have an appointment and if ‘she’ had forgotten about it ‘we’ had not! So, much like a leashed urchin, I stayed still as a statue, but far from statuesque!

Suddenly, a tornado swooped upon the stillness at Reception. The Great Soul of Sensational Standing at the Institution of Elegant Eminence had arrived…but only to grab something from her haven (disparagingly called an ‘office’ by uneducated souls). Somehow, she spotted us, or rather, sensed the Great Spirit of Canossian Chieftainhood (she, the sister, more hood, than chieftain!). I was graced by a dark look of obsidian gloom, the High Priestess accurately determining my worth as that of a slug in a slugfest, on the losing side!

Propriety trumped disdain; she (The Brains & Beauty Emissary of Educational Exquisiteness) decided to put up with me, and not inflict a put down that her looks suggested I deserved. So we met. The Nun’s sense of humour was oxygenated with the sight of me looking bewildered before the Great Sovereign of Stunning Smartness. I was asked what I wanted. I wanted nothing! Ergo my bewilderment. All I’d done was follow the Nun’s directives to present myself before this Supreme Persona of Educational Excellence…and to exchange wisdom!

[Say Keng's Personal Note: Any resemblance to actual incident or person is purely an act of divine intervention!]


"It's unwise to pay too much, but it's worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money - that's all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot - it can't be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better."

~ John Ruskin (1819-1900);

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


I have found the following interesting perspective on the net:

"... Many argue about the differences between small business and entrepreneurship.

We believe this discussion needs to examine Edward de Bono's ideas about creativity and apply it to the area of small business. If educators (and business owners) focus on "what is" or "what was" and teach their students or employees how to do a job as it has always been done, we agree that this is "small business management."

They are managing the existing business with little orientation to creativity, without a focus on "what can be" or "what might be."

However, an orientation to opportunity, in any industry, leads to entrepreneurial thinking.

If students have experience in thinking about new ways to improve the operations of an existing or new business idea, they are thinking in the way de Bono advocates for progress in our society.

Entrepreneurship, in small business or large, focuses on "what may be" or "what can be". They are practicing entrepreneurship by looking for what is needed, what is missing, what is changing, and what consumers will buy during the coming years..."

[Source: Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education]