Saturday, November 29, 2008

Prep yourself to succeed


Business Times, p.B1

Saturday, November 29, 2008



By Moje Ramos-Aquino, Fpm

Prep yourself to succeed


This question could be answered two-ways. How does a person work towards his or her own success? How do others, especially a parent or a corporate leader, help their child or subordinate succeed?


Let's concentrate on the first answer. If talent and brain-food pills will not guarantee success, what could you do to become successful? Let's consider these best practices by successful people studied by Fortune Magazine senior editor at large Geoff Colvin.


• "The great performers isolate remarkably specific aspects of what they do and focus on just those things until they're improved; then it's on to the next aspect. Instead of doing what we're good at, we insistently seek out what we're not good at." Practice and practice deliberately. Do not just practice as in increasingly repeat what have always been doing. Remember what Albert Einstein once said that doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result is insanity. Deliberate practice means continually setting higher standards from your current abilities and practicing them. When you think you are doing a good job, it is time for you to do something else. For example, when practicing, Tiger Woods would create certain difficult situations and practice overcoming them; he has been seen to drop golf balls into a sand trap and step on them, then practice shots from that near-impossible lie.


• "Repeating a specific activity over and over is what people usually mean by practice, yet it isn't especially effective. Two points distinguish deliberate practice from what most of us actually do. One is the choice of a properly demanding activity just beyond our current abilities. The other is the amount of repetition." Practice, practice, practice. When you are able to do 10, then go for 20 until you could do that activity with your eyes closed.


• Welcome feedback and don't shoot the messenger. "You may believe you played that bar of the Brahms violin concerto perfectly, but can you really trust your own judgment? In many important situations, a teacher, coach, or mentor is vital for providing crucial feedback." It is okay to look at the mirror, and judge our own reflection. However, there are aspects of ourselves that we don't see readily—our blind spot—and we could benefit from another person's point of view and standard of quality. For example, you can't tell if you have bad breath, others easily could.


• "Deliberate practice is above all an effort of focus and concentration. That is what makes it "deliberate," as distinct from the mindless playing of scales or hitting of tennis balls that most people engage in. Practice with your fingers and you need all day. Practice with your mind and you will do as much in one and a half hours." If you want to succeed, treat everything that you do as a mental activity, not just physical. Tiger Woods don't just hit that ball, he thinks long and hard before he swings his club. He learns, acquires and practices new knowledge, skills and attitudes.


• "If the activities that lead to greatness were easy and fun, then everyone would do them and no one could distinguish the best from the rest. The reality that deliberate practice is hard can even be seen as good news. It means that most people won't do it. So your willingness to do it will distinguish you all the more." Success is hard work requiring mental preparedness, intellectual commitment, strategic focus, deep concentration, physical exertion, emotional involvement, long hours and continuous raising of the bar, among others. Working towards success is not for the weak and faint-hearted. If you are starting to enjoy your current job, it is time to move on to the next level.


• "In the research, the poorest performers don't set goals at all; they just slog through their work. Mediocre performers set goals that are general and are often focused on simply achieving a good outcome—win the order; get the new project proposal done. The best performers set goals that are not about the outcome but rather about the process of reaching the outcome." And after setting your goal, the next steps are action planning and doing your plans. "Again, the best performers make the most specific, technique-oriented plans. They're thinking exactly, not vaguely, of how to get where they're going."



Saturday, November 22, 2008

TAlent is no guarantee for success


Business Times p.B1

Saturday, November 22, 2008



By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM

Talent is no guarantee for success


Let us continue with our discussion of success, talent aside.


First, author Malcolm Gladwell (Outliers: Secret of Success, Tipping Point & Blink) wrote: "What separates the legendary CEO from the chronically dissatisfied cubicle dweller? It's not innate talent. Instead of thinking about talent as something that you acquire, talent should be thought of as something that you develop. Procter&Gamble is a great example of a company that does that and has prospered as a result. Look around Wall Street, or what's left of it today and you'll see lots and lots and lots of people from Goldman Sachs. That's not a coincidence. It's because they took their mission to invest in people seriously."


And I say, it is definitely not vitamin and mineral supplements. Ang matalinong bata ay hindi siguradong magtatagumpay.


In the article, "Why Talent is Overrated," senior editor at large Geoff Colvin writes: "It is mid-1978, and we are inside the giant Procter&-Gamble headquarters in Cincinnati, looking into a cubicle shared by a pair of 22-year-old men, fresh out of college. Their assignment is to sell Duncan Hines brownie mix, but they spend a lot of their time just rewriting memos. They are clearly smart—one has just graduated from Harvard, the other from Dart-mouth—but that doesn't distinguish them from a slew of other new hires at P&G.


"What does distinguish them from many of the young go-getters the company takes on each year is that neither man is particularly filled with ambition. Neither has any kind of career plan. Every afternoon they play waste-bin basketball with wadded-up memos. One of them later recalls, "We were voted the two guys probably least likely to succeed."


"These two young men are of interest to us now for only one reason: They are Jeffrey Immelt and Steven Ballmer, who before age 50 would become CEOs of two of the world's most valuable corporations, General Electric and Microsoft. Contrary to what any reasonable person would have expected when they were new recruits, they reached the apex of corporate achievement.


"The obvious question is how. Was it talent? If so, it was a strange kind of talent that hadn't revealed itself in the first 22 years of their lives. Brains? The two were sharp but had shown no evidence of being sharper than thousands of classmates or colleagues. Was it mountains of hard work? Certainly not up to that point. And yet something carried them to the heights of the business world.


"A number of researchers now argue that talent means nothing like what we think it means, if indeed it means anything at all. A few contend that the very existence of talent is not, as they carefully put it, supported by evidence. In studies of accomplished individuals, researchers have found few signs of precocious achievement before the individuals started intensive training. Similar findings have turned up in studies of musicians, tennis players, artists, swimmers, mathematicians and others.


Such findings do not prove that talent doesn't exist. But they do suggest an intriguing possibility: that if it does, it may be irrelevant.


"The concept of specific talents is especially troublesome in business. We all tend to assume that business giants must possess some special gift for what they do, but the evidence turns out to be extremely elusive. In fact, the overwhelming impression that comes from examining the lives of business greats is just the opposite - that they didn't seem to give any early indication of what they would become.


"Jack Welch, named by Fortune as the 20th century's manager of the century, showed no particular inclination toward business, even into his mid-20s. With a Ph.D. in chemical engineering, approaching the real world at age 25, he still wasn't sure of his direction and interviewed for faculty jobs at Syracuse and West Virginia universities. He finally decided to accept an offer to work in a chemical development operation at General Electric.


"Bill Gates, the world's richest human, is a more promising candidate for those who want to explain success through talent. He became fascinated by computers as a kid and says he wrote his first piece of software at age 13; it was a program that played ticktacktoe. The problem is that nothing in his story suggests extraordinary abilities."


For leaders, at home and at work, the implication is that people need not be smart, they need trust, guidance and support every step of the way, and lots of opportunities.,

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

It's NEVER the time for splurging


Business Times p.B1

Saturday, November 8, 2008



By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM

It's never that time for splurging


Christmas, birthdays, fiestas or any such occasions somehow gives us the permission to splurge, even to finish what we have been saving for the past many months for the "excuse" of celebrating. This is not only true for the moneyed but more so for the less fortunate who even incur debt just to celebrate.


 On the front pages of The Manila Times we read that next year will usher in harsh times for us as a result of the current world financial fallout. Even now, all around us there is hunger (we are the fifth hungriest country in the whole world).


 There is nothing wrong with celebrating of Christmas. In fact, I urge you to celebrate the real meaning of Christmas, which is unconditional giving, every day and not just in December. The important thing to remember is not to overdo, overindulge, gorge ourselves with anything and everything. Here are some suggestions from Johan Tell from his book, In his book, 100 Ways to Save the World (Gold Street Press, 2008). Local examples are mine.


• Use less. Using more make-up for example doesn't make you more beautiful; you might even look old and tired. Using more perfume will make you smell awful. Using more detergent and water will not make your laundry whiter and cleaner. When you cook for the holidays, don't prepare too much you have to throw food away or let it grow mold in the back of your ref or eat reheated food again and again. Instead, serve a smaller meal, eat more fruits and veggies and be healthier. Christ was born in a manger, remember?


• Buy quality. Shop for fewer, better quality products that will last longer. A good pair of shoes should last 10 years, a car twenty, a piece of furniture two—generations that is.


• Take the train. Rail travel is faster, cheaper and is an environmental winner over cars.


• I wish I could easily say, "Switch electric companies." Meralco thinks our community needs Christmas lights. Our electric supply goes on and off, on and off, on and off in a matter of seconds every now and then. My trusty ref and dryer have succumbed.


• Eat from the sea. You don't know where the feeds for the chicken, pigs and cows are coming from. If they are from China , they might have melamine. But remember that salmon, blue marlin and those big fish are not from our seas, they might have been caught far from the shore, frozen at sea, shipped to the USA, Canada or China, thawed, processed, re-frozen, then shipped here.


• Recycle. Use used. Do you really need to buy new shoes, dress, whatever just because it is Christmas? Will the church not allow you to enter because you are wearing old togs? Ask for refillable containers whenever you shop. Bring your own reusable bags.

• Protect your children. Remember that cloth diapers are still best for your baby, for the environment and for your budget. A recent study of personal care found that children are exposed to an average of 61 different chemical ingredients every day.


• Be anti-antibacterial. Not all bacteria are bad. We've always lived with bacterial all around us, and our immune system needs to be stimulated by some exposure to bacteria in order to be healthy enough to defend against those really aggressive ones that might make us sick. If you're not performing surgery, good old fashioned hygiene and simple soaps do just fine. When the label brags that a product kills 99.9 percent of bacteria, think about that .1 percent. They survive and reproduce, and they're turning into resistant strains that are causing new environmental hazards.


• Plan your shopping. O, di ba?


• Support responsible companies. Buy from companies who are good corporate citizens, they go beyond a compliance orientation—they pay taxes, they observe safety, environmental and other regulatory processes, they use "green" technology, they treat and pay their employees well, they help their communities and others.


• Change your hairstyle. A test of 38 different gels, sprays, dyes and mousse uncovered a lot of bad news for health and the environment.


• Change your grooming products. If you find a cream with 27 different chemicals that you can't pronounce, chances are some of them will be things that you and the environment can do without.


• Fix it. Try to see the virtue in making old things work instead of constantly buying new ones.,

Tech savvy Chinese entrepreneurs


Business Times p.B1

Saturday, October 18, 2008



By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM

Tech savvy Chinese entrepreneurs


The world's leading economies are banging their head brainstorming for the best band-aids to their financial meltdown woes, unmindful of children still falling ill or even dying of contaminated food from China.


Never mind the melamine, formalin and who knows what other substances that seem to be staple ingredients in China-made products, oblivious of the hazards they bring to those who use them.


This financial problem is manmade, courtesy of greed, mismanagement, bad governance and speculations. News have it that the AIG top brass went on a $400,000 ($23,000 spent on spa services) out-of-town pow-wow immediately after they got wind of the $200-billion bailout they're getting from the government.


Yet, leading government managers, economists and financial experts seem hopeless not knowing the four Ws and one H of their problem and, therefore, unable to come up with the right solution. What about using their five senses or the Kepner-Tregoe Problem Solving Technique or the Blue Ocean Strategy?


While they are at it, China is quietly forging ahead and seemingly winning the tech race.


Author Rebecca Fannin (Silicon Dragon, McGraw-Hill, 2008) sat down with 12 top Chinese whiz kids and their investors and came up with a list of successful copycat enterprises, venture capitalists and innovators to watch.


She discovered that China has the world's largest number of mobile phone users (500 million), three times as many engineering students as the United States, a dozen billion-dollar tech firms then the USA and the fastest-growing venture capital market in the world. She realized that these new breed of entrepreneurs are leading China through a second Industrial Revolution using Google and Yahoo! as models of their techno-based companies.


Financial journalist Fannin identified these hot up-and-comers as: Baidu, China's boldest Internet startup. In a remarkable feat of reverse engineering and sheer chutzpah, the Chinese-born and westernized entrepreneur Robin Li took what he learned in Silicon Valley to beat Google in China by inventing a superior search engine in Mandarin.

Less than a decade later, he became a multimillionaire and tech superstar in China.


Alibaba, the wizardry of Jack Ma. Not even Harry Potter's author could come up with a tale as magical as Jack Ma's. He rose from the ashes of the Cultural Revolution to head China's best known Web business and created a template for running an American brand offshore. This is the story of a hometown boy who beat the global champions Yahoo! and eBay, with some accusations of dirty tricks mixed in along the way. Ma's biggest milestone came in 2007, when Alibaba went public., the Amazon-plus of China. Peggy Yuyu, a cofounder of the Chinese online bookseller, has shown how to copy and then outsmart in China. She's also created the largest Chinese online retailer. In the process, she's revolutionized the Chinese book market and probably is headed for an initial public offering., cruisin' with style. Car ownership in China is still exceedingly rare, but the dream is becoming a reality. China is destined to become the world's largest car market, with some 15 million newly middle-class Chinese poised to buy their first vehicles in the next three years.


Enter John Zhang, who has modernized the all-American AAA brand down to its name: Chinacars Club (CCC). Next, Zhang has his eye on the Nasdaq listing.


Oak Pacific Interactive, Web 2.0 on steroids. Imagine MySpace, FAcebook and Craigslist rolled into one company. That's China's Oak Pacific Interactive. Now imagine Rupert Murdoch and his wife, Wendi Deng, making a run for your business with MySpace China. That's the card Joe Chen is playing at his social networking consortium with a public listing in the offing., growing pains. China has an estimated 34 million bloggers, more than one-third of the world's total. Thanks to the free speech crusader Fang Xingdong, who coined the Chinese term for blogging and set up that nation's first blog-hosting service. But censorship, regulatory crackdown, poor management, and the lack of a clear business model are only the beginning of troubles for this fascinating startup.


We'll share with you the other exciting companies next column.