"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, October 30, 2010


I have more or less settled down in my relocation exercise to Ho Chi Minh City, especially with the establishment of my normal as well as new daily routines.

Besides my normal routines of morning exercising in a body-building gym from Mondays to Fridays with my wife [Readers can go to my new 'Bonjour Vietnam, Here I Come!' weblog to read about it], I have just started to resume writing my blogposts.

Among the many new daily routines, I am now spending some time coaching one my wife's young nieces, nicknamed 'Thao', 11 years old, in building up her verbal facility in the English Language, as she is likely to move to America in about a year's time. She is currently staying with us, & she is also attending private English Language tuition classes six times a week in a nearby center.

I am also providing supplementary English Language coaching to one of my wife's young nephews, together with our own adopted young son, both in their early teens, who have recently moved from the country-side into the city to attend a good government school. They are both staying with us, & are currently having private tuition at home with tutors to catch up with the new academic environment in the city.

[The snapshot here shows the two boys hanging out with their Maths tuition teacher (in the centre).]

This year is apparently a very critical year for both of them in school.

More interestingly, I am also now coaching another young niece of my wife in building up her command of the Chinese Language. She is Valarie, 13 years old, although she is nicknamed "Pea" at home. She will be going to Singapore to attend secondary school there just after the new year.

[With her age, by comparison with her other siblings & relatives, she already has a reasonably good command of the English Language. In fact, I had told her mother to buy her some English story books as well as a good English dictionary from Collins to guide her reading. While she was visiting me in Singapore for almost a month in August this year, I had guided her in reading the popular '365 Bedtime Stories'.]

In that way, I have more or less two months to brush up her rudimentary understanding, so to speak, of the Chinese Language.

Chinese Language is something I had learned during the sixties, while I was still in primary school. I was then studying in an English school during the mornings, & in a Chinese school during the afternoons. The schools, managed separately, were located next to each other.

As a result of my early bilingual exposure, speaking the Chinese Language is no big deal for me, as I often converse in this language with my three older sisters, & one older brother, who are all Chinese-educated. I also converse in Mandarin with my wife, May.

However, I realised that teaching the Chinese Language is a totally different ball game for me.

Fortunately, I have the vast Internet resources at my complete disposal, from which I am able to collate & synthesise a quick-learning start-up curriculum - it's actually a crash course - to teach Valarie how to read, speak & write the language.

The whole exploration & coaching experience has turned out to be an exciting - intellectually stimulating, too - endeavour for me.

It sort of wakes up my brain, in a matter of speaking! So, the many empirical research findings about new language learning were really on the ball.

Using the many podcasts & related .pdf documents from, & with additional materials from, I have built what I needed quickly & meaningfully for Valarie to get a good introduction.

Frankly speaking, the whole endeavour is a relearning experience for me, too. In the process, I have realised that I also get to fine-tune my own understanding - & mastery - of the language.

During my student days of the sixties, I was exposed only to the traditional Chinese format.

Today, students are learning the simplified format, which, in a nut shell, has reduced many of the Chinese character's basic stokes in terms of writing.

That's to say, I am not so familair with the simplified format, hence the need for my own relearning.

Worst still, I am also not familair with the prevailing Hanyi Pinyin. The latter is a system of writing out the sounds of the Chinese Language using the Roman alphabet. It is not a "pronunciation key". It is a way of representing the sounds of the Chinese Language in a phonetic way.

So, you can imagine the agitation of my billions of neurons in the brain!

Nonetheless, I have managed to sail through smoothly, as Valarie feels very proud that I have not lost touch with the Chinese Language. She thinks I am a great coach.

Since I did not have any formal Chinese Language teaching experience, I just follow my creativity flow & gut instincts, when it comes to coaching someone on language learning.

With the help of flash cards, which we are building everday to suit everyday situations, I have taught her how to expand her Chinese Language vocabulary.

With each flash card, containing a word or a phrase, I get her to think incessantly of all the possible variations e.g. synonyms, antonyms, formal & informal terms, colloquial terms, etc., as she sees the word or phrase.

On the other hand, in guiding her in enhancing the understanding of - & recalling - the "radicals" (the basic strokes; by the way, there are some 200 in everyday usage, although I will show her only 60, based on the ClearChinese materials), I often get her to imagine or visualise the influence of Mother Nature as she sees each of them, e.g. the "sun" character in Chinese actually looks like the sun, & how each "radical" fits into a compound word, e.g. "morning", which is essentially a Chinese ideograph.

Drawing lessons from my engineering background, I am able to craft a proper balance of reading, speaking & writing opportunities for Valarie to practise. Let's see how it turns out in two months' time.

I think the most important fact is that Valarie is extremely interested in learning the new language. That itself is an overriding plus factor in her favour.

As for me, it's really a cool fun exercise, besides keeping my brain fired up!


Thanks to peak performance consultant Dr Marc Dussault who has led me to the foregoing discovery via the latest issue of his Personal Mastery Blog post.

Is it for real? Obviously, it's a great illustration of scientist/futurist Ray Kurzweil's fancy ideas about 'Singularity'.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


[Source: Bookshelf: The home of interesting bookshelves, bookcases & things that look like them;]

Monday, October 25, 2010


"Do not covet your ideas. Give away everything you know and more will come back to you. The problem with hoarding is that you end up living off your reserves. Eventually you’ll become stale. If you give away everything you have, you’re left with nothing. This forces you to look, to be aware, to replenish. Somehow, the more you give away, the more comes back to you. Ideas are open knowledge. Don’t claim ownership. They’re not your ideas anyway, they’re someone else’s. They are out there floating in the ether. You just have to put yourself in a frame of mind to pick them up. The hard part is having the balls to act on them"

- Paul Arden, 'It's not How Good You Are; It's How Good You Want To Be';

Monday, October 18, 2010


"No one will thank you for taking care of the present if you have neglected the future."

~ futurist, author, & film-maker Joel Arthur Barker;

Saturday, October 16, 2010


"... Like just about every other leadership capability, anticipatory prowess is a skill that can be developed and strengthened. You do it by:

~ listening to the mavericks and the complainers (without unnecessarily energizing them);

~ being insatiably curious and asking "horizon" questions;

~ harvesting the knowledge of departing intellectual capital;

~ probing the minds of key users and influencers;

~ always testing, challenging and experimenting with your "antennae" raised."

~ Jim Murray, CEO of Optimal Solutions International, a company that specializes in helping organizations reach their full potential;

[Here's the link to the original article, 'Understanding Risk: A Core Competency of Leaders', by Jim Murray, from which the above statement has been extracted by me.]

What Jim talks about resonates very well with what innovation strategist Wayne Burkan has advocated in the latter's book, 'Wide Angle Vision: Beat Your Competition by Focusing on Fringe Competitors, Lost Customers, and Rogue Employees', during the mid-nineties.

Monday, October 4, 2010


"All the business of war, & indeed all the business of life, is to endeavour to find out what you don't know by what you do; that's what I called "guessing what was at the other side of the hill"."

~ The First Duke of Wellington (Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley), (1769–1852); famous for the Battle of Waterloo, where he defeated Napoleon;