Tag: Book Reviews

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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Six Strategies of Quiet Influencers

April 4th, 2016   •   no comments   

Six Strategies of Quiet Influencers

Do you know that Emma Watson is an introvert?

Is it possible for an introvert to be a social influencer? Most definitely!

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be a gregarious extrovert to be a social influencer. With the rise of digital and social media, the rules of influence have shifted in favour of introverts.

This is good news for the naturally introverted and reserved. Like the brilliant Harry Potter actress Emma Watson above.
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8 Winning Ways to Think Like a Freak

March 17th, 2016   •   no comments   

Think Like a Freak Stephen Dubner Steven Levitt

Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner (courtesy of Freakonomics Facebook page)

Conventional wisdom can be a bitch. While there may be occasional wisdom in crowds, the truth is that fools seldom differ.

If going with the flow could land us in hot soup, how then should we solve the many problems in our world?
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Uprising: A Guide to Movement Marketing

February 2nd, 2016   •   no comments   

ImNoAngel Movement Marketing

I’m No Angel (#ImNoAngel) by Lane Bryant is a good example of Movement Marketing

In a “hyperconnected, ultra-competitive, and supercluttered marketplace”, doing more of the same big idea advertising on mostly mainstream media channels isn’t going to work anymore. Consumers are getting jaded and overloaded with information – much of which has little or no relevance to their lives nor their interests.

To win over increasingly cynical consumers who expects nothing less than total transparency (fueled by the openness of the social web), what should companies and businesses do?

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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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How teenager Malala Yousafzai changed the world

November 5th, 2015   •   no comments   

Malala Quote 2

Courtesy of The Legacy Project

“Let us pick up our books and our pens,” I said. “They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.” – Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai is not your typical teenager.

While others her age were taking selfies of themselves on Instagram, or posted about the food they ate or outfits of the day they wore, Malala worked feverishly to change the destiny of millions of girls in South Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

Winner of the Noble Prize for Peace in 2014, Malala used her impressive skills in written and oratorical skills to stand up for children’s education. A member of the Pashtun tribe in the picturesque Swat Valley of Pakistan, her life story was truly remarkable.
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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

How to be happy, make millions and live the dream

October 29th, 2015   •   3 comments   

Choose Yourself

The year was 2002. James Altucher was going to die.

The financial markets had crashed. The Internet had crashed. His family left him. And he had millions in debt.
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How being vulnerable can transform our lives

October 6th, 2015   •   1 comment   

How being vulnerable transforms our lives Brene Brown

Courtesy of TED Talks

What do courage and joy have in common? How do we live fuller and more wholehearted lives by daring greatly?

The answers to these questions and more were answered in Daring Greatly by storytelling researcher and psychologist Dr Brené Brown. Exploring the width and depth of how we live, love and engage with one another, Daring Greatly challenges us to defy the prevailing social climate of scarcity in order to live and love more wholeheartedly.
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How LEGO rewrote the rules of innovation

July 26th, 2015   •   no comments   

LEGO Star Wars Millennium Falcon

LEGO Star Wars Millennium Falcon – the most highly sought after toy for geeks! (source of image)

Everybody loves LEGO. Boys, girls, mums, dads, and construction toy geeks of all ages.

However, do you know that the world’s favourite toy building blocks is also a powerhouse of innovation?
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