Wednesday, April 29, 2009

If the World Was a Village of 100 People

The village would have 60 Asians, 14 Africans, 12 Europeans, 8 Latin Americans, 5 from the USA and Canada, and 1 from the South Pacific

51 would be male, 49 would be female

82 would be non-white; 18 white

67 would be non-Christian; 33 would be Christian

80 would live in substandard housing

67 would be unable to read

50 would be malnourished and 1 dying of starvation

33 would be without access to a safe water supply

39 would lack access to improved sanitation

24 would not have any electricity (and of the 76 that do have electricity, most would only use it for light at night.)

7 people would have access to the Internet1 would have a college education

1 would have HIV

2 would be near birth; 1 near death

5 would control 32% of the entire world’s wealth; all 5 would be US citizens

33 would be receiving --and attempting to live on-- only 3% of the income of “the village

Monday, April 27, 2009

Motivation, Anchoring and Metaphors

Some more NLP tips:

Ensure Motivation: It is almost impossible to make the subconcious do something it really doesn't want to do. More than 80% of the physical operations you undertake every day are handled by the subconcious. Which is to say that when you decide to get a drink of water, you aren't carefully considering each and every step. Learning requires that the subconsious see some immediate benefit from learning. In some cases you can motivate students with the promise of praise "You'll be so happy when you can do this" and sometimes with a promise of freedom "You'll be glad when this is over". Don't try to work with a student who is not motivated to succeed at the task of learning what you have to teach. You actually do more harm than good. Talk to them until you can find out some immediate benefit they can derive from learning what you have to teach on a given day.

Set an Anchor: In NLP an anchor is a movement, motion, touch or word you use when someone is in a desired emotional state. To set one, you can talk to a student until he is relaxed and attentive, then tap his arm, or pat him on the back, or use a signature phrase. If you repeatedly reinforce this anchor, from session to session, you will find that you can use the anchor to move the student into that state from other states at the beginning of a training session. The student, with subsequent successes, will then be reinforcing that anchor. A pat on the back from the coach, a warm smile from a beloved teacher, a "Great Job" from a demaning parent. We all have anchors we love. It is very possible to anchor an entire class, and in fact many instructors do this when they mandate a protocol for students entering a class. An art teacher who makes everyone sketch for the first ten minutes of class may be setting an anchor, as may be a math teacher who offers a daily quiz.

One word of warning. It is very possible to create an anchor such that students who walk into a given class start out rattled and stay rattled for the entire class. Work hard not to to do that.

Make the Right Kind of Suggestions: Some people are very literal, others are very intuitive. The kinds of hypnotic suggestions they accept well varies dramatically. Figure out what works with each student, then stick with it. If you tell a very indirect, resistant or intuitive student to "Practice that for a while" you may find that is the one thing on earth he won't do. Issuing the same suggestion as "I wonder how you can see if that really works for you" might work much better. A more direct or literal student will just want to hear what he has to do next.
The most difficult aspect of making suggestions is figuring out how what a student benefits most from. The biggest mistake you can make is thinking that every student learns as you learn. Teachers, trainers and instructors are usually good students and so what works for you isn't likely to work with your students.

Try Metaphors: A final technique to use in training is to use auditory, visual and kinetic metaphors to help people step past cognitive roadblocks. That is a technique that most teachers use very frequently, but for someone suffering from a learning block, conciously use one or more metaphors very methodically to get them past it. You may want to draw pictures or build models when the ideas you are trying to communicate are very complex.

The Oral Presentation

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

NLP for Teaching

Susan Norman shares some principles of NLP for teaching:

  • There is no failure, only feedback.
  • The map is not the territory. My mental map of the world is different from yours.
  • The map becomes the territory. What you habitually think about becomesyour reality.
  • Communication is non-verbal as well as verbal.
  • Communication is non-conscious as well as conscious.
  • All behaviour has a positive intention.
  • Mind and body are interconnected. If you affect one, you affect the other.
  • The resources we need are within us.
  • The meaning of my communication is the response I get.

The map becomes the territory

What you habitually think about becomes your reality. If children watch non-stop violence on TV, they take it for granted. If you think positively, your life becomes more positive.

Have you ever noticed how someone brings something to your attention (e.g. Caribbean cruises) and within two days, you've come across two other references to the same thing? The references would always have been there, but now it's 'in your mind' it comes to your conscious attention. (Just for fun, see whether Caribbean cruises come to your attention in the near future.)

How about telling students about this phenomenon and then setting up class topics two weeks ahead of time by asking students to collect any references at all that they come across. Lots may not be relevant, but their brains will be pro-rammed to be receptive to any information you then provide later on.

Communication is non-verbal and nonconscious as well as verbal and conscious

We pick up much more information from a person's body language and tone of voice than we do from their words. According to the research of Albert Mehrabian, the percentage of information we get in Body language 55% normal face-to-face conversation is 55% from body Voice tonality 38% language, 38% from tone of voice and only 7% from Words 7% the words spoken. Although these percentages obviously change in different situations (giving figures over the phone, for example), it is important for us to realise that we are giving message to our students all the time - about what we think about them, our job, the school, the subject. Are you sure you're giving the messages you want to give? Remember, it is impossible to not communicate.

All behaviour has a positive intention

This positive intention is, of course, for the benefit of the person exhibiting the behaviour, and we're talking about the 'intention' of the person's non-conscious mind to look after its 'host', rather than any conscious intention to 'do good'.

Take the example of the 'naughty' child 'seeking attention'. Since,deep down,everyone craves attention, the child who cannot get attention by being good might find that naughtiness does get attention. It may not be the preferred sort of attention, but it's better than none. So the child learns that a positive benefit of bad behaviour is attention.

If we can look for the positive benefit students are getting from behaviour which we find unhelpful, we may be able to find other ways of giving them what they want (positive attention for things they do which are helpful for their learning, perhaps) which means that (after a time) they no longer need to indulge in the unhelpful behaviour.

Mind and body are interconnected

If you affect one, you affect the other. Most people now accept that mental stress and tension can lead to illness and that, conversely, exercise (see the article on p38) can make you feel more positive. For yourself, it is good to know that you can improve your own state. If we just remember to do something about negative feelings, something as simple as sitting or standing up straight, a brisk walk, or even drinking a glass of water, can all make us feel better.

If we can give our students (and ourselves) simple exercises to relieve physical and mental stress, it will improve relationships in the classroom, get people into a better state for learning (and teach-in) and give them techniques they can use to improve their own state at times of particular stress, such as before an exam. Try the following:

  1. Sit well, with a straight back, head balanced on top of your spine with your chin horizontal with the floor.Take a deep breath in, and as you slowly breathe out, relax from the top of your head down to your feet. Do it a second time, this time silently naming the parts of the body as you relax them - head, face, ears, shoulders, arms, hands, back, chest, abdomen, backside, thighs, knees, calves, feet, toes. As you breathe out a third time, just think your way round your body and release any remaining tension.
  2. Sit well, and without making any special effort to breathe in any special way, just count in time with your breath. In-breath - one, out-breath - two, in-breath - three, etc.
  3. Sitting well, close your eyes and listen. How many different sounds can you hear? The quieter you become, the more sounds you will hear. Distant sounds, sounds within the building, within the room, near you, inside you. If you do this with a class, do it twice. After the first time, share all the different things people have heard. The second time, most people will hear more than they did the first time.

The resources we need are within us

No one is broken. We are all born with the necessary apparatus to grow and learn from the world around us. We may do it in different ways, but we're all doing the best we can. If we approach our students with this in mind, maybe we can be more tolerant of their unique characteristics!

The meaning of my communication is the response I get

Have you ever had times when, no matter how clear you are, other people seem willfully to ms-understand you? Unfortunately the reality of the communicative act is that if you want to get your message across, you need to do it in as many different ways as it takes for everyone to understand what you think you mean. If students don't under-stand, we are the ones with the knowledge, experience and skills to find ways to help them.

So does my understanding students better mean that I can change them for the better? At one level, no. You cannot change other people. But it's interesting that when you change yourself, others around you seem to change too.

Friday, April 24, 2009

10 Ways Leaders can get crucial Feedback

John McKee shares his thoughts, including some from Tom Peters (idea no.10):

1: The anonymous hotline

Nowadays, hotlines can be e-mails, phones, or paper tools. However you do it, put something into place that allows people to provide candid, honest feedback or ask questions without fear of getting busted. I used a mailbox, kind of a “Dear John” thing, where people could ask questions or sound off and I’d reply to them.

2: Public communication tools

If you have a newsletter, use it to keep folks aware of what’s going on and to deal with rumors, which are harmful. Publish Q & A’s, based on questions you’ve heard through other means, such as your anonymous hotline.

3: Ombudsmen

Someone in your organization should be accessible to anyone who wants to make a point, ask a question, or sound off without fear of reprisal. Employees should know that what they say will be relayed to the head honcho. In some organizations, this is the HR person; in others, it may simply be someone who is trusted and respected by all involved. Just identify someone and let that person know that you need him or her to keep you in touch with things.

4: Anonymous surveys

As long as employees have no fear of being “caught,” surveys are great tools for getting your fingers on the pulse of the organization. But don’t over think them. They should be done quickly and fairly frequently. And have the guts to make the results public afterward. That shows the employee base that you’re aware of their concerns. If you can’t provide a fix, at least let them know that you care about the problem and will try to deal with it when you can.

5: Lunch with the leader

Periodically, have a lunch meeting with folks from all levels of the organization. Make it clear that there will be time at the end of it for a question-and-answer session if the group consists of more than 12 individuals. If the group is small, make a point to sit beside any quiet ones and encourage them to open up.

6: Visits to other departments, offices, or locations

The best way to open up communications is to show that you’re accessible and interested. I don’t care how often someone says they care about what’s going on in other locations. If they’re never there, they won’t hear enough.

7: Social events

Many people will tell you that there’s no such thing as a social / work event. They characterize the Holiday Party or the Summer Picnic as political affairs, and they’re probably right in many companies. But such events don’t have to be heartburn-inducing activities. If you use them as “skip-level” affairs, you’ll probably enjoy yourself and learn a ton about what your team members are really feeling. Make it a point to spend time with those at least two levels below you, tell your direct reports to do the same thing, and then compare notes back in the office.

8: Contrarian perspectives

When leaders allow themselves to hear only what they want to hear, people figure it out pretty quickly and clam up. If you show that you appreciate a healthy debate, you’re more likely to get differing ideas thrown about.

9: Playfulness

One of the founding senior execs at DIRECTV was famous for throwing Nerf footballs with anyone still in their cubes after 6pm or on Saturdays. It was a kind of jock thing, but even those less-than-jock types could throw the little soft football around. Sending a few lateral passes allowed time for a bit of bonding conversation and built trust between the leader and the team.

10: MBWA

Tom Peters coined the term MBWA — “management by walking around” — back in the 80s. If you’re serious about wanting to encourage honest feedback and candid comments, read his writings. The premise of MBWA is that if you expose yourself to enough people enough of the time, you’ll hear things you might not otherwise have come across.

Wikipedia City

Tim Manners' post is worth quoting in full (especially in light of the on-going debate):
"Wikipedia may be the closest thing to a metropolis yet seen online," writes Noam Cohen in the New York Times (3/29/09). For one thing, it's forever under construction -- "Wikipedia can no more be completed than can New York City, which O. Henry predicted would be 'a great place if they ever finish it.'" Navigating Wikipedia also "resembles a walk through an overbuilt quarter of an ancient capital. You circle around topics on a path that appears to be shifting. Ultimately the journey ends and you are not sure how you got there."

Wikipedia has its good neighborhoods and its bad ones. And, like a city, "the greater foot traffic, the safer the neighborhood. Thus, oddly enough, the more popular, even controversial, an article is, the more likely it is to be accurate and free of vandalism. It is the obscure articles -- the dead-end streets and industrial districts, if you will -- where more mayhem can be committed." Growth is decentralized, with entries equally welcomed be they by little kids or college professors. Like any great city, Wikipedia is "accepting of strangers -- no judgments -- and residents learn to be subtly accommodating, outward looking."

Wikipedia also stands accused of engaging in "some seriously depraved behavior," such as: "Wikipedia represents a world without experts! A world without commercial news outlets! A world lacking in distinction between the trivial and the profound! A world overrun with facts but lacking in wisdom!" Kind of like: "They don't produce anything! All they do is gossip! They think they are so superior! They wouldn't last a week if we farmers stopped shipping our food! They don't know the meaning of real work!" But like cities, says Noam Cohen, Wikipedia is vindicated "each time some yokel overcomes his fear and decides to make a visit and stay a while." ~ Tim Manners, editor.

7Cs' of Formal Learning

Clark Aldrich reminds us:
  • Content: The material supporting any learning objective.
  • Curricula: How the content is chosen, validated, organized, and presented.
  • Coaching: The individual attention helping each student overcome their individual weaknesses, answer specific questions, and leverage their individual strengths, as well as provide motivation.
  • Certification: Proof and documentation that a level of competency has been reached (which also provides motivation).
  • Community: A group of peers that both make learning more effective and engaging.
  • day Care: The ability to house students for a specific time.
  • Cost: The amount of resources, including student time, a program requires.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Redeeming the Feedback Form?

I've attended plenty conferences and in almost every one there's a part, neither hot nor cold, which simply begs for a renovation of some kind: The feedback form.

I don't like filling it up because:
  • the chances of anyone getting back to you on your comments and thoughts are as high as that of Tottenham Hotspurs winning the English Premier League
  • you never know what everyone else has written (a truly heinous sin in an age of connectivism)
  • should you write down your most confidential pieces of financial information, it might not matter because nobody's going to read it anyway
  • it smacks of form and formality (the dreaded F-words in the flat cyber-frentic world today)

This is a chance to turn something blasé into something which raises eye-brows and generates positive conversation.

What about a simple contest for the most helpful or creative recommendation on the conference? What about the promise that all ideas will be posted on a post-seminar blog for all to take note and take back? Or how about a digital mind-map which acts as the platform for communal feedback i.e. all participants gets a username and gets to key-in data into the map?

Redemption can begin anywhere.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Greener Electronics

Greenpeace ranks the electronics industry. Look at who's second-last!

Classroom Mgmt

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Planning & Design

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Welcome to the CIDTT program! We hope you will find this blogging platform useful for your e-learning purposes.

Some comments and quick tips on the Design module:

  • Make sure you have an entire program in mind (with at least half a dozen classess/sessions)
  • Ensure that you select two reasonably divergent classes
  • Write as a planner, NOT as a 'do-er' i.e. you should actually be planning your two classes as opposed to reflecting on classes you've already done(!). This adds authenticity and realism to your first assignment
  • Try to budget regular intervals to work on your assignment. E.g. spend Tuesday evening to do Step A & B, Thursdays for C & D, etc. It's necessary to spend sufficient amounts of time on one step instead of trying to cover multiple steps at one go
  • When you write your closing reflective essay, make sure you do not write AS IF you have already conducted the class (because that wouldn't be planning)

Enjoy the class!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

6 Tips for Going Paperless

Scan what makes sense - Go for the biggest bang for your buck. It doesn’t make sense to scan every single book you own, but it does make sense to scan in your bills, receipts and insurance paperwork.

Give yourself time to adjust - You are probably going to find yourself very attached to your papers. I got over this by creating a “to shred” set of files. I kept the paper around until I was comfortable with my electronic access to it and was ok with shredding it.

Backup, backup, backup - Make sure you have a reliable way of backing up your data. Not only do you need to back your data up, you have to test it as well. Also make sure you store your backups in a safe place. I keep one backup in my office and another encrypted on Amazon’s servers using Jungle Disk. That way if a flood or fire destroys my computer and backup hard drive, I can still get my data back.

Get some help - If you have a lot of paper to scan consider hiring someone to help. A high school or college student can go through quite a stack of papers in a few afternoons. The worst part of switching to paperless is when half of your data is on paper and the other half is digital. Getting a bit of help initially can make your system much more useful to you right away.

Think “Where will I look for this?” - There are many ways to file your scanned documents. When you are designing your system, make sure you don’t fall into the trap of thinking “Where should I put this?” You need design you system around the question “How will I look for this?”

Don’t skimp on your scanner - The ScanSnap is one of the best scanners for the money. You want to make sure you don’t get something that requires putting each page, one at a time, on a flat bed. If it is too much trouble to scan in a new piece of paper, you won’t do it.

Read more from Unclutterer

Top 10 Tips for the Innovative Leader

1. Have a Vision for Change
You cannot expect your team to be innovative if they do not know the direction in which they are headed. Innovation has to have a purpose. It is up to the leader to set the course and give a bearing for the future. You need one overarching statement which defines the direction for the business and which people will readily understand and remember. Great leaders spend time illustrating the vision, the goals and the challenges. They explain to people how their role is crucial in fulfilling the vision and meeting the challenges. They inspire men and women to become passionate entrepreneurs finding innovative routes to success.

2. Fight the Fear of Change
Innovative leaders constantly evangelise the need for change. They replace the comfort of complacency with the hunger of ambition. ‘We are doing well but we cannot rest on our laurels – we need to do even better. ’They explain that while trying new ventures is risky, standing still is riskier. They must paint a picture that shows an appealing future that is worth taking risks to achieve. The prospect involves perils and opportunities. The only way we can get there is by embracing change.

3. Think like a Venture Capitalist
VCs use a portfolio approach so that they balance the risk of losers with the upsides of winners. They like to consider a large number of proposals. They are comfortable with the knowledge that many of the ideas they back will fail. These are all important lessons for corporate executives who typically consider only a handful of proposals and who abhor failure.

4. Have a Dynamic Suggestions Scheme
Great suggestion schemes are focused, easy to use, well-resourced, responsive and open to all. They do not need to offer huge rewards. Recognition and response are generally more important. Above all they have to have the whole-hearted commitment of the senior team to keep them fresh, properly managed and successful.

5. Break the Rules
To achieve radical innovation you have to challenge all the assumptions that govern how things should look in your environment. Business is not like sport with well-defined rules and referees. It is more like Art. It is rife with opportunity for the lateral thinker who can create new ways to provide the goods and services that customers want.

6. Give Everyone Two Jobs
Give all your people two key objectives. Ask them to run their current jobs in the most effective way possible and at the same time to find completely new ways to do the job. Encourage your employees to ask themselves – what is the essential purpose of my role?What is the outcome that I deliver that is of real value to my clients (internal and external). Is there a better way to deliver that value or purpose?The answer is always yes but most people never even ask the question.

7. Collaborate
Many CEOs see collaboration as key to their success with innovation. They know they cannot do it all using internal resources. So they look outside for other organisations to partner with. A good example is Mercedes and Swatch who collaborated to produce the Smart car. Each brought dissimilar skills and experiences to the team.

8. Welcome Failure
The innovative leader encourages a culture of experimentation. You must teach people that each failure is a step along the road to success. To be truly agile, you must give people the freedom to innovate, the freedom to experiment, the freedom to succeed. That means you must give them the freedom to fail too.

9. Build Prototypes
People’s Bank has a refreshingly original attitude to new ideas. ‘Don’t debate it, test it’ is the motto of this innovative American financial services organisation. Try the new idea at low cost in a section of the marketplace and see what the customer’s reaction is. You will learn far more in the real world than you will in the test laboratory or with focus groups.

10. Be Passionate
Focus on the things that you want to change, the most important challenges you face and be passionate about overcoming them. Your energy and drive will translate itself into direction and inspiration for your people. It is no good filling your bus with contented, complacent passengers. You want evangelists, passionate supporters; people who believe that reaching the destination is really worthwhile. If you want to inspire people to innovate, to change the way they do things and to achieve extraordinary results then you have to be passionate about what you believe in and you have to communicate that passion every time you speak.

Monday, April 13, 2009

O'Connor's Five

I love Justin O'Connor's five characteristics of the 'new modes of cultural production and consumption among the young (18-35)' concentrated in cities, and wish it for everyone:
  • making money and making culture are one and the same activity
  • there is an antipathy to distinguishing between 'work time' and 'leisure time'
  • there is a heavy reliance on informal networks for information and ideas
  • there is an emphasis on intuition, emotional involvement, immersion in the field, and an 'enthusiasts' knowledge of the market
  • cultural producers desire to 'work for themselves' and outside the 9-to-5 routine

How does working life in Malaysia match up to this?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Eye Contact in Business Negotiations

Roderick Swaab from INSEAD writes:

With expressions like 'out of sight, out of mind', one would make a natural assumption that there's a lot to be gained from direct face-to-face communication.

However, according to Roderick Swaab, Assistant Professor of Organisational Behaviour at INSEAD, being able to see others and making eye contact may not always be the best thing in any scenario, including high stakes business negotiations.

“If you look at the research … you get a very mixed picture. There is some research showing exactly that – that sometimes we gain a lot from being able to see the other side. At the same time, there’s a substantial amount of research showing the exact opposite, that visual contact may hurt.”

So when does eye contact work?

Swaab says that eye contact and visual contact can be informative when people don’t know each other like in job interviews. When people do not have a strong incentive to cooperate or compete, it may help them to form a more complete impression of the other side. That said, one should be careful not to read too much into eye contact because most of us are no better than chance reading others’ facial expressions.

However, a face-to-face encounter that allows for eye contact would fail miserably in scenarios where there is already conflict. “In times where there is severe conflict, it may actually be better to separate the adversaries in that way to avoid all eye or visual contact. It is probably best to involve a third party who can mediate the conflict in a dispute that may have evolved between the two people. If the dispute or the negotiation is less contentious, but still there is some conflict, it might actually be better to switch to electronic forms of communication like email and IM (instant messaging).”

Gender differences

Swaab’s research also suggests that there are stark differences between the genders in relation to how they communicate with each other.

“Men respond differently to eye contact than women, at least in Western cultures. Boys tend to avoid eye contact when they play with each other. Some research shows that they prefer to play with someone else from the same gender sitting side by side, whereas two girls are more likely to sit facing each other while playing. This difference also exists in adulthood: Women are more comfortable gazing (at each other), they gaze for long periods of time; men tend to avoid it and associate it with attempts to dominate the conversation.”

We thought this should impact peoples’ ability to act creatively during a negotiation and found exactly that - that visual contact benefits two unacquainted women because they are more comfortable with it, whereas the opposite is true for two unacquainted men. “So simply put, it might be better for two males who don’t know each other to put a barrier in between them or to conduct the negotiation by phone instead of face-to-face.”

In mixed groups, however, the contrast is less severe. These differences strongly depend on the nature of the relationship between the parties in question. If people do not know each other, don’t have a strong incentive to either compete or cooperate, and are relatively open to discussion, then there is a greater scope for the communication medium to have an impact on peoples’ behaviours.

Cultural sensitivities

Culturally, there are also differences. Swaab says the impact of seeing the other side also depends on local communication norms. While making eye contact is de rigeur in cultures where direct communication is highly valued, some people who prefer a more indirect style of communication may shy away from it.

“What we find is that the role of technology has a far more positive impact in cultures where indirect communication is the norm (e.g. some Asian countries). People from these cultures are much better in utilising email to find creative outcomes in group decision-making tasks or negotiation tasks.”

This simple finding can be of great use for the way you set up your business. Citing an example of a US clothing manufacturer who was interested in a long-term stable business relationship with an Asian supplier, Swaab says the US company benefited because they were sensitive to the communication norms of their Asian counterpart.

Instead of flying there and doing all the negotiations face-to-face, they suggested that the other side choose the communication medium. The Asian company actually preferred to communicate via email or IM because this wouldn’t put them on the spot to do all the negotiations in English.

“This decision gave the Asian company more time to process the American proposal and to think about an adequate response. This was a smart move because the Asians really saw that the Americans did them a favour by letting them choose the communication medium. Not only did this help to build trust between the two parties, it also made the Asians more likely to return that favour over time.”

An upper hand

Conversely, Swaab explains that those aiming to outperform and compete could choose to communicate in an environment with which their counterparts are less comfortable.

For example, he says, when you know your counterpart is not as fast at typing as you are, you can initiate negotiations via IM because it is a synchronous chat where we can see what the other one is typing directly. If your counterpart is a slower typist, you have more airtime, opportunities to influence them, which can give you an edge in the negotiations.

Swaab’s research comparing MBAs and executives, as well as MBAs and their older counterparts, supports his theory. “What we found was exactly this – the MBAs in their late 20s or early 30s are used to using this medium. They type faster, and as a result can outperform any slow-typing counterpart, including their more senior managers.”

3 Persuasion Tips Every Kid Knows

Dean Rieck writes:
You’ve been working on your blog and need a break. So you kiss your spouse and head out the door for a walk.

But your child’s voice stops you cold.

“Are you bringing home the toy you promised?”

You feign ignorance. “Toy? What toy?”

Your child smiles, face full of expectation. “The Power Space Commando Ninja Mutant Brain Blaster!”

“Um … I’m just going for a walk.”

“But you promised.”

Ouch! You did promise a few days ago.

“Well, we’ll see. Okay?”

Your child’s face screws up in dismay. “But you promised! (sniffle) You proooomised! And I believed you!”

You hang your head in defeat and grab your car keys. “Okay. Okay. I’ll run to the toy store. All right?”

The little face lights up again. “Really? Allriiiight! Thank you thank you thank you.”

Two minutes later as you drive away, you see your child waving frantically at you from the front window, eyes wide with glee. And you’re asking yourself, “What just happened?”

Sound familiar?

Kids know something that you and I often forget. They have a secret, but deviously clever way to get just about anything they want. Like a good sales person, this child used three simple principles to generate a “yes” response.

1. If you want something from someone, ask for it.

My wife used to be subtle about gifts she wanted. She would walk me by a store and comment on the leather purse in the window. Or she might leave a catalog open on the coffee table, the corner of the page turned down, pointing to a bracelet. Then she would be flabbergasted on the big day when she tore back the wrapping paper to reveal a bread maker or battery-powered socks.

She has learned that a direct approach works best. Now, she writes down her wish list, complete with price, color, size, store location, and item number. I buy two or three of the items, wrap them, and hand them over on the big day, all the while thinking I’m clever for getting just what she wants.

Everyone is happy.

The child in my previous example knows what he wants and asks for it. Repeatedly. There’s no question. No confusion. It’s clear, direct communication.

2. If you want someone to do something, give a reason why they should act.

In a famous experiment, a psychology student tried to skip ahead of a long group of people waiting to use an office copier. The first time, the student walked to the head of the line and asked, “May I please use the copy machine?” Between choice expletives, most people told the student to go to the back of the line.

Later, the student tried again. Only this time the student said, “May I please use the copy machine because I have to make a copy?” Even though the reason given was meaningless, that one word (because) generated a “yes” nine out of ten times!

It’s a natural human instinct to want reasons to act. We make emotional decisions, but we temper those decisions and rationalize them with logic. We need to know the reason why. In our opening story, the child not only asks for the toy, but gives a good reason for prompt action: “You promised.”

Why use a reason? Because it gets results.

3. If you want something now, create a real and unavoidable time limit.

Sales reps know from experience that people are more inclined to give you what you want if you establish a time limit and ask for an immediate decision. People have difficulty making decisions, and given enough time, they will find reasons to say “no.” Limiting the decision-making time, and bypassing the opportunity to find negatives, makes “yes” more likely.

Car salesmen running a one-day “mark down event” know this. Store owners promoting a “Saturday Only” sale know this. And experienced bloggers and online entrepreneurs know this, too.

The wily child waits until the parent is walking out the door before asking for the toy. There’s no time to think. Say no, and you get a crying fit. Say yes, and, while you may have to make a trip to the store, you’ve maintained the peace.

The conclusion? If you want response and you want it now, make like a kid asking for a toy.

Ask for it.
Give a reason.
Create time pressure.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Thursday, April 2, 2009

More Photos from Sri KDU (1/4/09)

What's all this?! Find out here (smile). Next up: vids!


Power-Point Skills

View more presentations from Alwyn Lau.

Facebook and YouTube Make Better Employees?

Caught Twittering or on Facebook at work? It'll make you a better employee, according to an Australian study that shows surfing the Internet for fun during office hours increases productivity.

The University of Melbourne study showed that people who use the Internet for personal reasons at work are about 9 percent more productive that those who do not. Read more.

Innovation in Emerging Economies

Products traditionally are created in rich nations and repackaged for emerging ones. But General Electric, Nokia, and others are reversing the process. Read more.

Unconventional Biz Ideas

Travel blogger Chris Guillebeau shares some unconventional business ideas:
IDEA: Give Everything Away
From time to time I meet with business people who ask the behind-the-scenes questions about how things work over here. They enjoy using their corporate credit card to buy coffee for us, and I enjoy drinking coffee. Most of them don’t understand how I can write for free and still manage to pay the bills.

The traditional business model of sharing information is to give away 10% as a “teaser” and sell people on the 90% behind the curtain. I do the opposite – 90% (or more) is free. The 10% is for the fans and those who need specific help best suited to a more in-depth format. Products are available, in other words — but all of the regular writing is free. Oh, and no ads either.

Another good example of giving everything away is Leo Babauta’s decision to “uncopyright” his work – everything on ZenHabits is in the public domain. This was a master stroke in building his network and establishing broad authority, even after he had become quite successful. I don’t know the private details of Leo’s finances, but when I look at his subscriber base, my estimate is that he’s living pretty damn well by encouraging people to steal his content.

IDEA: Don’t use people, help them.
I didn’t have business cards for the first decade of my self-employment. Since I meet a lot of people these days, I finally gave in and ordered some recently – but it took 10 years. I don’t go to Toastmasters, Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce, or any other networking events.

The problem I have with traditional networking is that it frequently involves scoping people out to see what they can do for you. I hate this. I know it isn’t all about that – but some of it is, and I just don’t like the pretentiousness.


The kind of networking I do now is extremely important. I spend about two hours a day connecting with people. I do this primarily through Twitter and 75-100 emails a day. Everyone who writes gets a real response (sometimes it takes a while, but I take it seriously).

By the way, if you feel like you don’t have time for Twitter, read this great post by Havi Brooks about why you should have time. I usually agree with most of what Havi says, and this article is no exception.

Instead of asking “What can you do for me?” this kind of networking is externally focused. It asks the questions, “How can I help you? What can I do to tell other people about you? What are your goals?” I love it.

IDEA: There is No Competition.
Someone asked me in a radio interview recently if Tim Ferriss was my competitor. Um, no. As I see it, there is no competition in this business. Tim has helped a large number of people think differently about life and work, and that’s pretty much my goal too, albeit in a different way.

If you’re in a business where you compete with the store down the street and one of you has to lower prices to bring in customers, good luck. Instead of external competition, the competition you face every day is INERTIA. The competition comes from within to get up every day and help people change the world.

IDEA: Avoid (Almost) All Meetings
Seth Godin is often asked how he has time to do everything, especially write back to everyone who emails him. His answer is that he doesn’t watch TV and doesn’t go to meetings, so that gives him 4-5 more hours a day than most people have.

I completely agree. I also don’t watch TV and don’t go to meetings. Instead I go around the world - that does take some time - and I like to go to coffee shops almost every afternoon. I also don’t take many phone calls, but we’ll come to that later.

IDEA: Lose the hard sell, or any sell at all.
The thought of hard-selling is a complete turn-off to me. I regularly walk out of stores that use guilt or scarcity tactics to sell me. (“Are you sure you don’t want the extended warranty? Because, just between us, these products tend to break down a lot.”)

Selling that plays on fear, guilt, or greed establishes negative relationships. I’d rather build my business, and my relationships in general, on positive connections. If someone writes in and says I’m thinking of buying this, can you sell me on it? My answer is no, sorry. I can tell you about it, I can answer questions, but I can not sell you.

Also, if someone ever complains about something I sell (it’s extremely rare, but some people do go around the internet downloading things and asking for refunds the same day), I give their money back IMMEDIATELY. Life is too short to worry about those people. This brings us to the next point:

IDEA: Give people what they want.
If you don’t think this is an unconventional business idea, good for you– that means you’re somewhat isolated from internet marketing, or stores that try to sell you things you don’t want.

My view is that if you have to persuade, you’re in the wrong business. Meet people’s needs instead. Sell what people buy. If your project meets needs and expands the pie (we’re coming to that), you’re on to something.

Is your product a good idea? Here’s a test. Check this list:

1) Desperate Need – People NEED (or think they need) your product or service.

2) High Value – You deliver high value. You’re proud of what you sell.

3) High Margins – You make real money from it.

If you have all three, you’re probably on to something.

One more recommendation: If you’re stuck, Clay Collins is especially good at helping people figure this out. His style is very similar to mine, but he’s smarter.

IDEA: Don’t outsource, just stop doing stuff.
If you feel overwhelmed and are thinking about outsourcing, you can also just stop doing stuff. It works surprisingly well.

A good question to ask yourself is, “If I stop doing x, will the world come to an end?” If yes, you should probably find a way to do it. If not, it will probably be OK. True, you may not be able to build a seven-figure business this way, but is that your goal? Again, if that’s what you want, then you might need to outsource. If not, you can probably just let some things go.

IDEA: Regularly turn down money.
The first part is easy – turn down money from difficult people. Don’t hard-sell; invite customers to participate with you. Give money back and walk away from anyone who becomes difficult.

The second part, however, is more difficult to come to terms with. The second part involves turning down money not because of rude people but just because something isn’t right for you. Years ago, for example, I used to feel guilty for giving up thousands of dollars in lost sales because I didn’t want to call people on the phone. I’ve matured over the years – now I don’t feel guilty about it.

IDEA: Don’t listen to anyone (listen to everyone).
I try to follow this rule not only in business but in life in general. If one person doesn’t like your work, don’t worry. Instead, listen to what everyone says. Get feedback from the entire world. Use Google Alerts for your name, search for what people are saying, (I’m @chrisguillebeau – have we connected yet?), and generally pay attention to what’s going on.


IDEA: Always Expand the Pie.
In my business, I don’t lose if someone else gains. When I gain, no one else loses. This is a result of some of the ideas I explained above – the fact that there is no competition, I try to give people what they want, I don’t play sales games, etc.

If your business (or your job, or whatever it is you do every day) is built on taking something from somebody else, I don’t envy you. If you asked me, I’d say you’re in the wrong business. You might as well go out and repossess cars or work for a collection agency.

Thankfully, businesses that “get it” are becoming more common. I’m far from alone in this. In fact, I really think that a huge subset of entrepreneurs who adopt this mindset will become more and more successful while traditional business models continue to struggle.

Speaking of social networking, the other day I saw that someone is selling an $800 guide to Twitter. I thought that was pretty funny. From a marketing standpoint I understand how it works – some clueless executives from big companies will buy it and feel like they are getting a deal. Perceived value is everything, so perhaps it’s worth it to some people.

But assuming you don’t have $800 to spend, you can learn how unconventional business works for free. The hard part will be saying goodbye to some old assumptions, and no $800 guide can help you do that.

Can Design Save the Newspaper?

Life's Photographs

Check out the world's most expensive cities together with 7 million other photographs at Life's website.

Remembering Randy Pausch

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Achieve Your Best Result (Sri KDU Workshop)

“Strategise with your team members!” Allan called out to students of Sri KDU.

Strategies, strategise … these are not new words to the teams of eager faces as they settled in their groups to brainstorm their next course of action. However, executing their group strategies for that day, was a new challenge. They took it all in their stride. Be it the teambuilding tasks of He Ain’t Heavy, He’s my Brother! or untangling themselves in Chaotic Tangle or Synergise – Your choice! all team members gave their full-hearted support to ensure that they achieve the team’s goals.

Amidst shouts of “Go left! Go back! Climb over!” in Chaotic Tangle or Synergise – Your choice! everyone listened to the team’s instructions and did as they were told. They managed to untwine themselves from the chaotic mess of tangles they had put themselves in when they merged from individual groups to form one big circle. Communication was the key word to the team’s success!

In He Ain’t Heavy, He’s my Brother! , six students held up pipes forming a bridge for their team members to cross over. This exercise called for tremendous support and a focus on their goal. The initial fears of “I can’t do it!”, “One of my team members is heavy, how can we carry him?” were dispelled when every team member took the challenge. They finished off with positive echoes of, “I did it!”, “I have overcome my fears!”, “I can do it one more time!” The heavier the team member, the greater the rah-rahs and excitement, the greater the support.

In applying what they have learned from these games, Sri KDU students knew that they could apply these strategies in their studies to achieve good results. The strategies are: set a goal, manage your time, work with friends and family members, be committed, be focused.

In their personal follow-up, they need to be committed to their weekly time management planner which Dr. Tan Hui Leng had guided them through at the beginning of this session, which was, “Achieving Good Results”.

In Plan your Goals, the students:
  1. Charted their present results
  2. Charted the results that they want to achieve for SPM, as all goals must be specific and measurable.
  3. Coloured the gap between these two sets of results
  4. Their goal is to close this gap through managing their time and activities

What you can measure, you can control. Therefore, students have to control their time and their activities. How do they do that?

Alwyn continued with the session on Managing Your Time, taking them through in the written exercise of “Who are you? What are your roles?”. “What are Urgent and Important to you? What are Urgent and Not Important to you?” howled Alwyn,

“Is thinking for ten hours about what to write in your Facebook, considered Urgent and Important, or is it Not Urgent and Not Important?” Alwyn howled again.

He drove home the point to them – that all their students have to fall into Quadrant 2, which is Important, Not Urgent. This can be achieved with good planning, organizing and prioritizing their activities, and exercising a control over aimless activities. The more time you spend planning our time and activities the more time you will have for those activities.

The A-Team’s formula for that day was:

Achieving your best results = manage your time = self-management

Who’s Who in the A-Team?

The A-Team members from KDU College besides Allan Nelson and Alwyn Lau were Alex Wan and Ann Teoh.

Who’s Who in the D-Team?
Guess who were the Distinction Team members from KDU College ? If your guess is Dr. Tan Hui Leng, you’re right! Let’s also introduce you to Datin Lily Zaiton. She is the Advisor of Special Projects. Dr. Tan Hui Leng is the Deputy Principal of KDU College.

See You Again!
Sri KDU students – see you again on 2 July 2009. Cheers!