Boost your brain power with these super simple exercises

August 30th, 2016   •   no comments   

Keep Your Brain Alive Image

Courtesy of Keep Your Brain Alive

As I crossed my 46th birthday this year, I somehow felt as if my mental capabilities were slowly slipping away.

While I am certainly far from being reduced to a blabbering idiot, my mind isn’t quite the same as before. Which was why I was especially excited when I picked up a copy of Keep Your Brain Alive by Lawrence C Katz and Manning Rubin.

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What Joseph Schooling And Golfers Have In Common

August 14th, 2016   •   no comments   

Joseph Schooling Olympic Gold Lessons in Success

Courtesy of Clive Rose/Getty (image source)

Congratulations to Joseph Schooling and Singapore!

Thanks to Schooling’s amazing feat in the 100m Butterfly Finals in the Rio 2016 Olympics, Singapore secured our first ever Olympic Gold!
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How We Lived a Year With No Car (After Having Them All My Life)

June 26th, 2016   •   8 comments   

How We Lived a Year With No Car (After Having Them All My Life)

Image courtesy of TODAY Newspaper

Do you REALLY need to have a car in Singapore? Can you live well without the convenience and air-conditioned comfort of a personal vehicle?

Those are the questions that I will attempt to answer after living a year without a car in Singapore.
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The 5 Hs of Happy and Holistic Living

June 9th, 2016   •   1 comment   

5 Hs of Holistic Living

Courtesy of WiseGEEK

How are you feeling today? I mean right now at this very moment as you are reading this article.

Is your heart racing like a jackhammer due to the non-stop rushing from point to point?

Or are you in a place of wholeness, balance and happiness?
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7 Ways to Measure the True Costs of Life

May 3rd, 2016   •   1 comment   

7 Ways to Measure the True Costs of Life

Courtesy of Daily Devotional

Do you know what you are truly paying for in every aspect of your life? What are the different “life currencies” that we trade with?

Nope they aren’t just time and money, although both of those “life currencies” are extremely important.
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10 Ways to Understand Freedom

April 7th, 2016   •   2 comments   

Courtesy of Colorful Pictures

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” – Nelson Mandela

Freedom, like love, is a many splendoured thing. All forms of freedom are interrelated. You may have some of the freedoms all of the time, but not all of the freedoms all of the time.
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10 Habits to Power Your Life

February 28th, 2016   •   no comments   

10 Empowering Life Habits.jpg

Have you wondered how some people lead such joyful and fulfilled lives? What is the secret sauce behind their success?

After studying the behaviours of numerous successful individuals and reading a tonne of motivational and self-help books, I believe that it all boils down to pursuing empowering habits.
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What multi-millionaire Adam Khoo taught me about leadership

January 26th, 2016   •   1 comment   

Adam Khoo Talk 1

Have you heard of Adam Khoo? I’m sure you would if you are a parent or an entrepreneur!

Co-founder of Adam Khoo Learning Technologies – one of the largest training and educational outfits here in Singapore – Adam Khoo was famous for becoming Singapore’s youngest self-made millionaire at the age of 26. Together with his partners, Adam runs several businesses in education, training, learning centres, pre-school education, fund management and advertising, yielding a combined annual turnover of $50 million.

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The Happiness Project [Book Review]

January 18th, 2016   •   no comments   

The Happiness Project Book Review Gretchen Rubin

What is the secret sauce of happiness? Do we need to go on an Eat, Pray, Love expedition to find it?

Well, not according to Gretchen Rubin in her bestselling book The Happiness Project.
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5 Ps of building your own rock star brand

November 2nd, 2015   •   no comments   

Freddie Mercury

Freddie Mercury of Queen (Courtesy of Queen Photos)

Larger than life, rock stars like Jon Bon Jovi, Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen have captured the hearts of millions worldwide. On and off stage, their passion for their craft has led them to become legends in entertainment.

What are the success strategies of rock stars? How do they build such powerful personal brands?

Thanks to former radio personality Steve Jones, we now have the answer.

Narrating “rock star secrets to unleash your personal brand and set your career on fire”, Jones’ book Start You Up is part rock music nostalgia and part personal management guide. Boosted by fascinating tales from rock stars themselves, the book drew upon Jones’ deep knowledge and intimate experience of the music industry.

So what are these 5 Ps?

Positioning – discover your brand story

Inspired by Jack Trout and Al Ries classic work, positioning is highly relevant to personal branding. Through positioning, we can define our importance, and craft a personal brand based on discovering, refining and telling our unique story.

Jones also advises us to work super hard, learn while on the job, pay attention to the details and focus on the one thing which differentiates us.

The most memorable story highlighting the importance of details centred around the popular 80s rock band Van Halen.

In their rider (contract) with concert organisers, Van Halen always included a simple clause. It stipulated that no brown M&M candies were to be found in the backstage area.

Should a single brown M&M be discovered, lead singer David Lee Roth would throw a temper tantrum. He would literally trash the dressing room. The band could also skip playing in the concert.

Before you think that Van Halen was being thuggish, consider the three reasons behind their odd requirements:

  1. Test that their concert promoter is meticulous and rigorous to a fault.
  2. Provide band with a system of checks and balances to ensure their own safety (Van Halen concerts can be quite physical),
  3. Ensure safety of their fans are not compromised by promoters taking short cuts to save money.

Presentation – communicate your unique brand

To publicise our personal brand, Jones urges us to play up on our “weirdness”. Using the example of Buddy Holly and his unmistakable pair of glasses, we should find a way to define our “rock star visual identity” and seek to “be different or be invisible”.

Making mistakes and taking risks are also par for the course in personal branding.

Here, we are told the story of how Steve Jobs deftly responded to the “Antenna Gate” issue back in 2010. What happened then was that the hidden antenna of the newly launched iPhone 4 wouldn’t work when held in a certain way.

Instead of hiding behind his team, Jobs himself called a press conference. In front of the world, he admitted: “We’re not perfect. Phones are not perfect. We all know that. But we want to make our users happy.”

Despite offering a free return policy, the return rate for iPhone 4 sets actually dropped instead of increase compared to normal periods!

This showed how revealing one’s imperfections and vulnerabilities can endear a company and its leaders to consumers.

Passion – toolkit for personal brand building

Straddling topics like creativity, partnership stress, planning, and gut instinct, passion covers the nuts and bolts of personal brand building.

This section was enriched with “weaknesses to strengths” stories. It included how rock groups like Fleetwood Mac overcame personal adversities like break-ups amongst lovers to create haunting yet beautiful songs.

Some of the lessons covered include the following:

  • Embracing chaos to turn insanity into opportunity
  • Finding harmony by partnering others
  • Treating everybody with respect
  • Diversifying one’s personal brand
  • Creating a unique identity in the shadow of others

The story of Bruce Springsteen and his tour director George Travis best epitomised passion. A crazily hard working performer, Springsteen aka “The Boss” is extremely customer-centric. He made sure that every interaction with his concert goers can touch their hearts.

George Travis also played his part. Working behind the scenes, he ensured that the coffee is hot, the beer is cold, and the food arrives on time. This was on top of the many other things a tour director needed to do.

Purpose – meaning guided by values

In the world of rock stars, few can beat Bob Geldof. Purposeful and mission-driven, the founder of Irish band the Boomtown Rats brought together the biggest names in pop to raise millions of dollars for the Ethiopian famine back in late 1984.

I’m sure all of us born in the 60s and 70s can remember that iconic album “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” and the fantastic “Live Aid” concert beamed around the world!

Beyond Geldof’s heroic act, purpose is also about giving to one’s fans. Here, the Grateful Dead’s act of encouraging their fans to record their concerts and spread them around is legendary in building their immense and dedicated following.

To navigate our purpose better, Jones urges us to find a mentor, know when to make a comeback, and quit if we need to.

While “Bat Out of Hell” singer Meat Loaf rose from the ashes of a drug and alcohol fueled life, others like Australian group INXS stayed around way too long. By not knowing when to quit, they literally watched their star slowly fade.

Profits – personal brand to leadership

The last chapter on Profits focused on two areas:

  1. Using one’s obstacles to define oneself; and
  2. Looking at how rock star leaders compare with CEOs.

The story of one-armed Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen was the most memorable in the entire book.

Driving a Corvette to a New Year’s party one day, Allen got into a horrific accident. The severity of the trauma tore off his left arm at the shoulder. Overcoming incredible odds with the support of his team members in Def Leppard, however, Allen made a huge comeback. He turned his obstacle of being a one-armed drummer into a unique personal brand for himself.

On leadership, Jones took a leaf from Jim Collins’ book Good to Great. He described how rock legends like Jon Bon Jovi, George Harrison, Freddie Mercury, and Mick Jagger possessed the traits of “Level 5 leaders”, namely:

  • Possessing humility;
  • Being unafraid to ask for help;
  • Taking personal responsibility for their actions;
  • Developing discipline;
  • Surrounding themselves with the right people; and
  • Leading their teams with passion.

Branding it like Bon Jovi

Packed to the brim with tales from the halls of rock and roll, Start You Up is a fascinating read.

Beyond the heroic and legendary stories of rock stars through the 60s, 70s, and 80s, one is also reminded that the journey to building one’s personal brand is never easy. Often, it is littered with failures, mistakes and screw ups.

While the 5 Ps provide a kind of scaffold for personal branding, I found that the inspirational stories themselves which created the greatest impact. By reading and absorbing them, we can ask ourselves questions such as “What would Bono do?” or “How would Bob Dylan respond to this situation?”

While we may not be as musically talented as these rock stars, we could try to emulate their example. Hopefully, doing so helps us to achieve “Nirvana” in our own personal branding journey.

Start You Up Steve Jones

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