Friday, April 30, 2010

Storyboarding: Of Scripts and Screens

I have been bravely and busy writing my first screenplay; it is hard work as I experienced screen-writer's block. My stage writing experience includes two sponsored and produced plays, and one published and read play; so, I am walking on new territory.

I have started reading SMOKE & BLUE IN THE FACE: Two Films Written by Paul Auster (1995). It is a fun read so far, and the characters have been thoroughly researched; Wayne Wang directed it for Miramax Films.

What I have gathered from reading this two screenplays and writing my first screenplay (as part of Script Frenzy) were:

1)    Storyboarding can be applied to the way we work with people everyday.
2)    Scripts should be written, spoken and updated (for colleagues, customers and friends).
3)    Imagine the ‘Perfect Day’ you can experience if you design and deliver it with intention and commitment.
4)    Lead with exquisite language of influence, continually refining what you have defined.
5)    How would you direct each day with a sense of purpose, and earn the results you seek?

Your script is vital to communicating to others. Lead with clarity, commitment and confidence. Until you can remember your script well, you may not immerse in your role fully and with impact. Write your script, enhance it, and rehearse it, and use it often.

Even as I am excitedly preparing for my working trip to India on Sunday, finishing up my 100-page script challenge by Saturday, I am also preparing my storyboarding for a television shoot for Channel U on Sunday. I will be presenting two magic tricks for a documentary, and enjoying an interview. It will be part of a series that delves into the interesting hobbies people have. Since I have been singled out for my close-up magic skills, I will be doing my signature pieces – one of which will finally see the light of television after 12 years. It will be an early morning for me, and I hope to accomplish my presentation in one take. In live performances, you do not have a second chance, so that will be my personal challenge.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Radiant Reflections of a Rueful Runner

Tonight, I ran about 14km with Charles, one of my three major influences in triathlons. We knew each other at a gym when I was, then, a budding amateur bodybuilder. Yes, I was a muscle-head – not terribly proud of it – because I accepted the challenge of a sport that fascinated me since my teens. From 1990-1993, I stood on the rostrum on all four occasions (qualified for the alternate national team), but never won. I quit immediately after because I realized that a significant number of competitive amateurs unfairly sought and used pharmaceutical assistance.

Charles got me to sign up with Triathlon Family Singapore Forum, an online forum of about 3,125 subscribers. That was in 2004, and the rest is my triathlon history. Looking back, it has been a slow yet furious journey alongside my extended family of like-minded athletes.

We ran a short distance, tonight, as we wanted to test our legs after last weekend’s long run. As we ran a manageable pace, we chatted about stuff in general, and general stuff. I, personally, appreciate how my mind comes alive and alert when I run casually (which is moderate on Chrissy Wellington’s 3-gear approach to training intensity: moderate, medium and mad). It must be all that oxygen-infused, deep, breathing that engages my usually untidy mind. I also badly needed a psychological prod in the right direction for my latest script (hint: it is about endurance athletes).

Murakami Haruki wrote a book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running’ by Vintage International. He is a famous Japanese author who is also a serious runner and triathlete. A former jazz-bar owner turned author after an epiphany during a baseball game, Haruki switched keyboards for a career as a novelist. We will review his book shortly.

My main question I pondered upon today was: What do I blog about when I blog about leadership? I constantly think up ways to share, engage, and educate my readers; I appreciate your time and support. My dear readers: What have you reflected upon today? What did you learn about yourself? 


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Being Open to Your Staff

At one point or rather in our lives, we may have engaged a personal coach to assist us. Executive coaching is still a big thing in corporations, although the practice of it varies widely, as it is practiced unofficially or informally.

Triathletes and endurance athletes may also engage coaches. We seek swim coaches to correct our techniques, and join master classes to bring our swim fitness up. We may attend running workshops to learn to run ‘freely’ while paying attention to our posture, physical imperfections, and how to race more effectively. We may seek a competent bike fitter to tailor our bike to our bodies (not the other way around), and then learn about specific drills and exercises we should do to correct some bad habits.

What coaches do is provide us with real-time information. If coaches kept quiet and mum when we make mistakes, our progress may be hindered. The best coaches are scientific and people-orientated in their process of raising human performance. Their report card is our individual progress. Coaches tweak the programs they carefully prescribe, and fit it to the athlete’s needs.

If you use an Open System of Appraisal, its benefits will include:

1)    When your team does well, you will do better. (Thus, our future as managers is in the hands of our staff)
2)    We promote productive conversations that focus on results, not merely efforts.
3)    Performance becomes our main goal, and we can design each staff goals to meet their competencies.
4)    We engage leadership and people skills.
5)    We engage values like honesty, integrity, recognition, reassurance, respect, consideration, care, performance, commitment, and many more.
6)    We reduce suspicion, doubt, anxiety, worry and inappropriate behaviors when we know where we stand.

A happy staff is a productive staff. An injury-free athlete is a happy athlete. When staff or athlete performs better, they become more clear, committed and confident. An aging worker can stay confident if he/she knows his/her competencies and strengths and work towards these.

Do consider shifting from the archaic, suspicious, and non-assuring Closed System to a more open, honest and relevant process. It can benefit you in more ways than you have thought. So, start having conversations about your staff. It is about them – first.


Afterthoughts: Never feel undermined or usurped when, and if, your staff become more skillful.  The reality is that we have our competencies, and being in a managerial position does not, necessarily, make us better than them. Perish the thought that a competent staff will manipulate you; be thankful when they do, because it suggests that they are influential. Diversity is about accommodating and appreciating differences as uniqueness.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Fascination with Distance


For centuries we have been hung up about distance. We measured in yards and furlongs; then we went the way of miles and kilometres. Historically, the longest distance recorded for running was the marathon, which is derived from its Greek namesake.

Our language patterns are littered with terminology like: the long haul, in the short run, going the distance, in the run up, running tab, run for our life, go far in life, trade long/short, etc.

The short distance format of triathlons is known as sprints; the longer ones are called ultra-distances.

One runner I know will be doing 250 marathons this year for charity. To date, he has completed nearly 70. Ultra-distance running goes beyond the 42km, and extends from 52.5km to 218km in total distance. A popular international format is the 100-miler; we featured Alan Giraldi of San Francisco last year who completed the Badwater 100-Miler. Dr Kua Harn Wei regularly competes and completes 10 Ironmans over 10 days, which makes the Deca-Ironman triathlon one of the longest endurance events in the world. Tobias Frenz covered several days of running over the sand dunes of the Sahara Desert. It takes a day or two to make the pilgrimage to some of these exotic locations around the world, just to race these unique endurance races.

Each race and format engages different beliefs, values, cognition, instincts, perceptions, and behaviors. Each participant who competes and completes is a leader in his/her way.

That’s about the long and short of it.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Knowing Your Limits

Limits – a word that describes a point of exhaustion, a pause, point of inevitable conclusion, and an end to what you can, conceivably, do. Burnout, fatigue, boredom and cramps are physical and mental signs of hitting one’s limits. In experimental terminology, our limits define our parameters of how far we would take the testing. In sports, limits define a point of time, and this ‘point’ can shift upwards or downwards depending on how trained we are.

About six years ago, running 10km was my limit, and so I thought until my coach trained me up. Two night ago, I ran about 50km – a marathon-plus – something, I would not have imagined doing up until 2004. I have shifted more than my body forwards; I also learnt how to shift my beliefs and mindset. I have observed enough amazing athletes and performances to encourage my personal beliefs along. I am looking forward to doing a weekly marathon, as well as my first double-marathon in a month’s time. Hopefully, Boston will be on the cards in April 2011; fingers crossed for Berlin.

Photo by Winston Koh, AniMiles.

Does your leadership style have its limits? What are some of your shortcomings as a leader? What do you fear doing most? What is your preferred style of leading? What are you most impatient with?

‘Nobody is perfect’ has become a truism. That being the case, how do we attain the status of the ‘best that we can be’? Leonardo Da Vinci did say: ‘Details make for perfection, but perfection is no detail.’ The finishers of Spec-Savers Ironman South Africa 2010 experienced their physical and mental limits yesterday. The results for the professionals were:

Top 10 Men
* Raynard Tissink (#2) at 8:23:28
* Mathias Hecht (#13) at 8:28:53
* Daniel Fontana (#9) at 8:33:48
* Jason Shortis (#51) at 8:34:52
* Stephen Bayliss (#1) at 8:40:28
* Jan Raphael (#25) at 8:42:46
* Max Renko (#26) at 8:51:19
* Trevor Delsaut (25-29) (#117) at 8:53:32
* Simon Billeau (#7) at 8:53:49
* Aleksandar Sørensen-Markovic (#28) at 8:56:06
  
Top 10 Women
* Sonja Tajsich (#35) at 9:16:55
* Caroline Steffen (#47) at 9:22:00
* Tine Deckers (#40) at 9:29:58
* Mirjam Weerd (#50) at 9:37:24
* Sonja Jaarsveld (#45) at 9:42:20
* Meike Krebs (#46) at 9:44:02
* Martina Dogana (#41) at 9:48:13
* Bree Wee (#49) at 9:49:19
* Helen Buley (30-34) (#556) at 9:53:19
* Kathrin Mannweiler (25-29) (#265) at 10:11:13

I am, particularly, pleased for 40-year-old professional Jason Shortis for completing his 50th Ironman in fourth place, with the fastest marathon (2:51). Congratulations to our Team of three from Triathlon Family Singapore who had a challenging day on the Ironman course:

CRAIG SLATTERY 14:18:49
PHILIP KOH 16:35:21
CHONG CHUN CHONG 14:51:30

You did very well, and completed the course within your limits! This week, we will see Clifford Lee and Nigel Chua attempt the inaugural Ironman Utah race. All the best, mates!

‘The distinction between the past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion’. ~ ALBERT EINSTEIN

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Weekend Works

If you have not been to the island republic of Singapore, brace yourself for four seasons, sometimes all in one day! Hot, hotter, damn hot, and damn humid! That was what we experienced last night when I ran with serious runners of AniMiles. We attempted to simulate race conditions for the adidas Sundown Marathon, by running part of the race route in exact similar conditions.


Well, the humidity was switched on 100 percent (like a significant blanket of thick water-vapour). Last night was indeed a humid night, which led to most the team of a dozen, carefree runners making mild, but measured compromises. As Dr Ben Tan wrote in The Straits Times yesterday, running under such conditions is like running at midday. Three of the team completed the 60km distance (actually 63km as we took a wrong turn), a few 53km and the rest 30km or so. We left two insulated boxes with generous supplies of water, electrolyte drinks and bananas at two strategic points. Thankfully, no pedestrian or cyclist nicked the contents. I suspect that the makeshift signboard we stuck adjacent to the white boxes helped as a deterrent.


Admittedly, I decided to stop at 53km as I my energy was as flat as pancake. I had a splendid first 30km, running close-winged to Lieu, an amazing runner and Ironman triathlete. I paid for it on my second loop when I emptied my energy reserves. As some of the runners did long runs of about 50km two weeks ago, it seemed that the were still recovering. Note to self: Get a complete compendium of energy gels and drinks for the next run, and the race. My new K-Swiss running shoes are pretty much broken in; they felt comfortable, with no visible or physical signs of trauma on either feet.


Matthew swam solo yesterday at Sentosa island; he was unfortunate and unwillingly victim of jellyfish stings about three weeks ago. He reports that the waters are now clear and we can, assuredly, return to our fortnightly open-water sessions. He is another case of exploring his leadership values in different situations.


Here is a tough spin class led by Wilson Low at Elite Bicycles Asia; together with his race partner, Grace Chan he won the mixed pair adventure race in East Malaysia a fortnight ago. Grace, Wilson and I raced at Ironman 70.3 World Championships in 2008, and we had loads of fun and earned personal bests.


Photo-credits: Elite Bicycles Asia

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Saturday Sundown Sloggers

Tonight's the night!
A dozen aficionados of the endurance legwork will attempt a rehearsal run of 60km from 6.00pm till midnight. We will precede the arduous plodding and forefoot flogging with a dinner, and I suspect a few trips to Changi Village's sugar-cane juice stalls. 
I will report our observations tomorrow, like it is a research piece for my deferred PhD dissertation. We will provide collective, nutritional, attire, and sports physiology tips on how to approach nocturnal running on a mindless, endless road to the U-turns.
20,000 runners have signed up for the adidas Sundown Marathon, with 600 attempting the double-dosage. It should be an interesting evening for an almost permanent fixture on the runner's annual menu.
Next week, we will feature an interview with David Greenfield, founder and owner of Elite Bicycles. He recently opened his first Asian branch in Singapore, and if verbal testimonials are a strong indicator, David and his team may find new success in the area of personalised bike fitting and manufacturing. Stay tuned!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Managing Management Myths & The Legend of the 5-Hour Meeting

Why do people show eagerness and enthusiasm to attend meetings, yet when the meeting begins, only one or a few people speak up; the rest just stay mum and numb throughout? And, look – our manager is there!

A cursory glance, momentarily away from your mobile phone, reveals insights to the dominant and vocal few who are generous with their myopic views and comments. Do quiet people have less to share? Do the talkative ones make the best leaders?

How do we explain such behaviours? What are the mindsets and myths behind such predictable behaviours? How do we manage them?

The classics myths include:

1)    Say less, do less.
2)    Say less, less room for errors.
3)    Those who volunteer get volunteered – so keep quiet.
4)    If you have nothing good to say, keep quiet.
5)    Beware the routine, 5-hour* meeting.

How would you as a leader confidently and purposefully chair, facilitate, collaborate and encourage the introverted and reserved members of the meeting to contribute, without fear or cause for embarrassment?

Here are some ways worth considering:

1)    Draw up an agenda, with clear timelines and keep it visible throughout.
2)    Mark the key decisions you will make; be mindful of the different ways you can initiate group decision-making or, do it by yourself.
3)    Facilitate meetings as you would record the minutes of the meeting; you can be both chairperson and secretary/minute-taker.
4)    Keep the session respectful, reassuring and recognize contributions and feedback.
5)    Keep your goals clear and important; stress the importance of specific issues on your agenda.
6)    Aim to complete the meeting in less than 60 minutes (thus, minutes of the meeting, NOT hours!).

Footprints: I will be off to Ironman Island Langkawi again tomorrow. I will be spending at least three hours at the KLIA, and will certainly think up of juicy topics to post over the weekend before my next flight arrives. Saturday night, a group of a dozen intrepid runners will be doing a 60-kilometre, 6.00pm-till-midnight, rehearsal run on the Sundown Marathon run route. The race on 29 May 2010 expects 600 runners to do the double-marathon. It should be an interesting and memorable night.

* This is NOT a myth. It actually, shockingly, happened – routinely. 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Linking In with The Worthy Whisperer

Words possess a latent power. Our main mode of communication involves the intelligent arrangement and expression of words.

There is an article worth exploring on FORTUNE magazine. In Fire Up Your Career! Jessi Hempel claims that millions of people are using LinkedIn to find jobs and get ahead. Essentially, tweets have a short shelf life; Facebook is for fun.

What you post up on your LinkedIn profile is important. On today’s digital scene, content is still king. How you project your brand to the world determines how your multi-level network responds to your requests and questions. So far, most social forums advocate what not to do, instead of what to do. So, it is about not posting your photographs of yourself in a state of inebriation, and openly bragging about playing truant at work. You need to be transparent, and project yourself like a professional would.

In effect, your content needs to cleverly obey the requirements of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) so that you will stand a better chance of being detected by prospective clients, hirers and customers. Since people Google us from time to time, isn’t it relevant to ensure that you control as much of the content you offer willingly online? It is estimated that there are 60 million profiles on LinkedIn – so, how do you make yours stand out strongly?

Is your profile up on LinkedIn? Are your tribes of friends, associates and ex-colleagues helping you spread your online reputation according to your specifications? Your profile contains seven key elements of opportunity: groups, status bar, resumes, advertisements, shared connections, recommendations and answers. Build your profile well, and they my come! Represent yourself as strongly as you can, yet stay transparent. Your core values reflect your character, so stay true and consistent.

Yet, in spite of its raved impact on successful, recently hired executives and experts you will still need to go beyond the initial online contact. Social networking is just an efficient way of working through your connections. You will still need to reply to that request, from e-mail to an actual phone call/Skype, and meet for coffee if you are geographically near. Recall not too long ago, that we still connected by the low-tech, high-touch way? We met face-to-face; we had conversations; we argued; we made group decisions. The best way to influence as a leader is still: face-to-face.

You got to work it out, work it well, before you can get the work you want.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Where the Tweet Are You?

I was a twit when it comes to tweeting, blogging and Skyping; however, I have learnt well over the past year having set up these social media tools as part of my business structure and process.

This morning, I saw a rerun of The Oprah Winfrey Show; this episode featured ‘Where The Skype Are You?’ Media-mogul, Winfrey put to the test Skype on land, air and sea – literally. I wonder how many rules Winfrey’s people broke, and favours pulled to illustrate how the almost-free, video-call service. Josh Silverman, CEO of Skype was also interviewed. The flight attendant on the Virgin Atlantic Airlines was a very good reporter, showing respect and recognition for her passengers through her questioning.

So, how useful are social media tools in business, education and socializing? Perhaps the answers lie in actually using these online applications, or apps. Mobile technology has extended the reach of these apps such that you can receive real-time news reports; conduct a tutorial, coaching or therapy session; conduct a tour of a remote facility; do a multiple-location, wine-tasting session; enjoy a celebration from afar. My friend Yousuf Siddiqui from  Long Island, New York City cleverly uses Skype for effectively coaching corporate senior leaders for one-on-one sessions.

Surely there is no comparison between the on-site experience with the online experience however it is still an extension of our social reach to our friends, family, colleagues, associates, students, clients and customers. Working from home, working from a remote terminal at the airport or café, or working with your iPhone or Blackberry, make technology fully work for you. Stay high-tech and high-touch!

So, what’s your Skype? Tweet me.







Afterthoughts/During-thinks: Indiscriminate use of apps such as Facebook can cause your reputation to bleed. And so it has come to past that even on such private forums, unedited, hurls of random emotional outbursts can lead to tribes, denizens, communities, and even friends creating a whiplash effect. Think before you thumb-thump on your keyboard and hit post/send. I was at the scene of the accident which this FB poster made these disparaging remarks; the remarks were certainly uncalled for. I hope that he learns his lesson.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Leadership Optimism and Pessimism




An optimist tends to look on the bright side of things; the pessimist does the reverse.

Research has shown that pessimists help balance optimists. Big dreams should be grounded by reality checks otherwise they can lead to disappointments.

It is so easy to seek the assurance of self-help gurus who preach and teach the tenets of positive thinking (attributed to the writings of the resilient and robust Dr Norman Cousins, and Norman Vincent Peale). Your positive energy can be your signature piece; personalities do matter. You can brand your aura and charisma, and that positions you as a leader. Build rapport, be liked, and you can make things happen.

Would you prefer to be surrounded by happy people? Do you make your purchases with retailers who treat you importantly? Do you read blogs that promote a promise and premise of positivity and possibility? What kind of mental films do you run in your head when you feel down? Do you focus more on then positive aspects of an issue, and determine the key learning points, or do you wallow in self pity, regret and remorse?

Bad news can hit us in ways unexpected. Even the most positive people can lose their spirit when their personal mantras lose their effectiveness. Personal crisis like disease can devastate the most tough-talking, chest-strutting, Type-A, dominant personality. When one’s life or livelihood is threatened towards termination, the mind does a flip-turn on its sense and sensibilities. Depression and suicidal tendencies may be unavoidable pathways available to those who experienced their emotional tipping point. Keep a lookout for such deviations from observed, normal behaviors.

As a leader, how do you stay level headed when conflict pervades your team? How do you remain optimistic and confident that you will resolve the complex dynamics of upset people? What do you convey to your people to bring out the relevance of each crisis? 

Monday, April 19, 2010

Monday's Minutes

Staff normally associate Monday as the tyrannical day of the week. It is a day marred, statistically, with the most stress-induced accidents at work. Its distant-cousin, Friday is welcomed with open arms as we gratefully chant the mantra 'TGIF!'. If that is so, I wonder what happens when you start on Sunday or Tuesday instead?


It is common to hear staff pronounce Monday as the beginning of a long week. It is interesting how our sense of time becomes warped due to the punctuation led by this most fateful day. If you are back home already, logged into the Internet, please be thankful that you lived through today with its many experiences and human interactions.

Today, I learnt that how an organisation uniquely uses management terminology can lead to confusion. It is so easy to assume that we use common management jargon equally. For instance, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) have been implicated with the usual suspects such as goals and targets. Goals are your final outcome; targets comprise this goal. Goals are more than outputs, they are outcomes/results. 

For goals to be relevant, make them clear and important. Clarity is a quality never to be faulted for. When was the last time someone remarked that you were 'too clear'? Have you ever exceeded your sense of clarity?

I have also learnt that tactics-based goals can be mistaken for strategy-based goals. Day-to-day, task-based interventions are more tactical. Strategies are more preventive, or longer term interventions to help us achieve some of these goals. There are many types of strategies, and these can help you direct you to your expected outcomes. Strategies include: people-oriented, business, branding, competitive, collaborative, partnerships/alliances, learning, problem solving, motivation, decision-making, and leadership.

Decide on which strategies to purposefully use when working on your annual work plan, and forecasting. Otherwise, we might distance ourselves further from our goals and never attain our capability and collective potential.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Amusing Weekend Musings and Amusement

I could not resist the use of alliteration: as quaint or quirky it may read. Nevertheless I have been logging in many silent minutes on Tom Robbin’s book of short essays Wild Ducks Flying Backwards; he complements the other two I am snacking on: ‘Norman Mailer’s The Spooky Art, and Stephen King On Writing. Inspiration, aspiration and perspiration are part of the investment in both art and business. And, business is both science and art.

I was watching James Sun (finalist on reality television series, The Apprentice) host a program on Channel News Asia called Sun Tze War on Business (9.30pm, Tuesday). In a nutshell, the battlefield of business involves the use of leadership, strategies/methods, terrain/marketplace, strengths/leverage points, and use of intelligence/information. That is why businesses need to define their business by their brand, branding, product and services, customized service experiences, sales management, and use of social media communication.

Here is a good article on the use of Social Media Tools 2.0, mainly the application of blogging in a corporate setting.

I wish Nigel Chua all the best in his next Ironman triathlon quest: Ironman Utah. He is a very good distance runner and triathlete. Do not let his grey hair fool you - it is his disguise! He will be the first of two Singaporeans to participate in this inaugural race.
The triathlete from the left is, probably, going to race in Utah. He has completed nine Ironman races; he also assisted last year as support crew for the first two Singaporeans to ever compete in Norseman. Who is he?
The deed is done! I signed up for the Singapore Passion Run 2010, a week before my inaugural 84km adidas Sundown Ultramarathon. I hope that my body holds up, as I have been taking it easier after my mild bout of flu two weeks ago. I am looking forward to running hard on my new K-Swiss running shoes; its inner supports should help correct my low heel arch. Here is a shot of my condition two weeks after Ironman New Zealand. I was manning an 'illegal' water-station, of which I had loads of fun encouraging the Singapore 70.3 participants on - including the brilliant Craig Alexander (reigning 2-time Ironman triathlon world champion). Photographs courtesy of Triathlon Family Singapore friends: Julius, Craig and Yong Feng.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Leading with the 4 P’s

With my colleagues, I led a short team-enhancing session yesterday on Langkawi Island, Malaysia. It is the home of Ironman Malaysia held at end-February each year. I finished the race twice there in 2007 and 2008, and respect the participants, heat and hills; so, the gates of my memories were replenished.

My colleagues and I watched a new managing director of a company deliver his message of optimism, cooperativeness, and purpose through his use of mixed media: his spoken word and cache of video clips. He has large aspirations, and these include being an outstanding company, aiming for number one status, valuing his people and helping them build a shared potential. I observed that his approach coincided with his personal values and leadership values; so, he delivered it with a sense of lucid clarity, humble confidence, and competence. I was glad I was part of an integrated process of engaging and energizing his team of 180 staff.

In marketing, the four principles of Product Marketing are: Promotion, Place, Price and Product. To this I add Providence (divine), or Pray. You never know even if all four bases are covered, that your marketing efforts will yield dividends for you. Brand management is an extended subject that covers product marketing.

For marketing oneself, you can adapt the principles of marketing as: Positioning, Personality, Purpose and Population.

Your personal brand is an important; it is more than just your name and your profession. How do you position yourself amongst your peers? What is personal style? What is your signature? Which audiences relate most to you? Which causes do you stand for? What are your stances and standing in your community/profession?

1) How do you seek under-standing, and create understanding?

2) How do you become out-standing?

3) What do you do to stand out from others?

4) How do you personalize your brand?

So, as a leader how are you engaging your team with your brand? How do you brand yourself? Which ways are you primed to purposefully lead your people, business and brands? As you facilitate a strategic meeting, how do you make time to attentively listen and pay attention to the various nuances and idiosyncracies of each leader on your team?

Credits: Standing model of leadership by Gary Yardley & Jan Kelly of PIPS Pty Ltd.

Friday, April 16, 2010

What is Your Leadership Style?

Have you considered your leadership style/s?

Do you prefer to take charge, direct, instruct and tell others what to do? Do you prefer to follow your leaders, rules, guidelines and procedures? Do you prefer to think through quietly and only ask questions when you need to?

Extraverts express themselves openly, whereas introverts prefer to stay quiet while they think. Both styles make conversations interesting and determine the flow. Either style can be highly influential, and it is not a fact that extraverts make better presenters. Sometimes you ask, sometimes you tell.

Results are important, and they exceed the effort put in. When you measure performance as a yardstick for potential and capability, then the amount of effort put in must translate into expected outcomes. Thus, as disappointing as it may sound, we place a premium over results than effort. Thus, volunteer leaders at the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games will be evaluated for their effectiveness and competencies to lead fellow volunteers, delegates, spectators and fans. Delivering a prepared talk, and making immediate changes to your script requires expressing yourself in another way. Tonight, I delivered a talk on delivering scripted comedy to amateur and professional magicians and I had to do just that, as we had two guests present. You have to be flexible to integrate changes, and redeliver your material differently.

When you participate in group sports, have you ever taken the lead? Have you pulled the pack when riding? Have you allowed fellow swimmers to draft you in your wake? Have you paced runners and moderated the pace so that they ran at race pace? You can take the lead, follow or support – these are positions of influence. When you think of leadership as positions, you can use prepositions to guide you in your chosen direction of influence: at, from, above, below, around, behind, front, and side. It is analogous to an aircraft approaching the runway; you fly into the wind, and not with it.

The next time you lead, consider your results and your approach.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Random Thoughts on A Run








Nothing beats long runs for demonstrations of the sheer joy of mundane living. Run, plod and drag.

That is what I noticed again when I ran 30k last night on the running/cycling track at the East Coast Parkway. I admit I occasionally leave the discomfort of a hard concrete track for a softer tar road, as joints do give feedback: both immediate and long-term feedback. I switched lanes at my Coach's urging and I trust his advice which came from current experience, too.

There was a significant number of runners running yesterday evening. When I completed my 30km loop, it was almost 9.30pm. I suspected that these dedicated runners were training themselves to the heavy humidity and time for the adidas Sundown Marathon on 29 May. I understand that leading sports medicine physician, Dr Ben Tan shared in a recent running clinic that runners are expected to brave the heaviest humidity of the day when the ultra-marathon begins at 6pm. Unfortunately, Singapore enjoys humidity levels of about 80-100% year-round (ith average temperatures of 24-33 degrees Celcius). Expect, like I did last night, to be drenched completely in your faultless perspiration.

I was dressed in my 2-piece, triathlon attire (the one I bought at the 70.3 Ironman World Championships 2008) as it helps reduce chaffing; it is figure-hugging and comfortable, with two rear-pockets at my lumbar region, that I use fully to stick my money, Power Bars, and Hi-5 energy gels.

Many thoughts crossed my mind last night, and it can include reflection and epiphanies: a good activity to activate whole brain thinking. I ran my race strategy for the ultra-marathon including nutrition plan and the run route itself. I am glad that this year the route will be flat, and comprise two loops, and take place on my usual run route. I live about a kilometre away from one stretch of the marathon route.

More long runs to follow, and this will include weekend marathons and even a 60km run if all goes according to plan.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Treasure Trove of Timeless Tomes


I adore books. I can comfortably while away minutes at a bookstore. It is like a library of sorts, where I can check out the latest books indefinitely.

I especially enjoy biographies; these are found both in hardcover books, soft-cover as well as in magazines. I enjoy biographies as these are focused on the person, his experiences and unique angles on things. I also enjoy the way a journalist interviews, and then puts it all together in a feature story.

Biographies are work of non-fiction. These are more real, as there are verbatim quotes, spoken with a certain truth and honesty. The biography expresses the character, personality, beliefs, values, mindset, attitude, behaviors, perceptions and thinking of the interviewee. In a way, it is another mirror to how a person ticks.

Just yesterday, I borrowed Michael Gerber’s 1986 edition of The E-Myth. It is, essentially, about small businesses and the entrepreneurial approach. I was delighted to find it my client’s office. Gerber’s E-Myth Revisited is the current available version. I hope to track the predictions that Gerber made almost 25 years ago. I really wonder why this became an underground classic among marketers. I am more interested about the author’s approach to demystifying entrepreneurial assumptions and beliefs. By the way, Amazon.com's prices for new copies of these are about US$140-270!

I hope to track a few more out-of-print books due to their exclusiveness and rarity – one of the six principles of influence, as expounded by Robert B. Cialdini, PhD.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

It's So Easy to Say 'I Could Have...'

The wisdom of hindsight includes clarity of thought.

Looking back, we could have avoided certain oversights, shortsightedness and being blind-sided. However, all these 'I could have...' and 'I should have...' may, if unchecked, build a structure of regret and disappointment.

Over the years, I have learnt to 'Move on, and get on with it!'. It is great to bask in glory and achievement, but pitiful and pointless to wallow in shame and regret. If we believe that 'things happen for a reason', then whatever happened, did. If you skipped a workout, or reduced your mileage, or did not stretch for a few days - so be it. Do something different the next time. I think discipline is not about compliance, and 'following the rules'; it is about being clear why we become disciplined. Blind allegiance is not loyalty. Compliance is not about having to follow the steps. It is about sticking to a routine or a regimented lifestyle for a while, but not forever. Your call; your choice.

You need not bring the discipline of work back home. Work and personal life may be a part and kept a-part of each other. You can solve and absolve problems when these arise. Reeves Leong wrote about this today.

Congratulations to Grace Chan for getting second for her age-group yesterday at the OSIM International Triathlon. We raced at the 70.3 Ironman World Championships in 2008. Well done, Hui Koon for his PB of 2:42 at the same race. Our Coach, Craig Holland should be pleased with Hui Koon's sense of discipline over the past few weeks.

Monday, April 12, 2010

I Appreciate Your Time

Thank you for reading this blog. Everyday, a few dozen readers pay this blog a visit. It is almost one year old, and we attempt to provide, almost-daily, content-rich matter for you. Hopefully, our time spent on maintaining this passive platform has met your intense intellectual needs and yielded some internal sights.

Endurance athletes are avid watchers of time. We measure our personal best timings. We race against the clock. We clock our performances. We work with cadence and intervals. Time is a valuable abstract measure. We utilize it by managing time, although it can appear to be a false sense of hope. Time is a concept. We treat it like a commodity, banking it into our lives. We talk about saving time, buying time, making time, doing time, and finding time. Yet, it is fairly elusive marked by the ticking of the clock. Every second that passes is irretrievable. Every minute is an opportunity cost.

Many self-help authors and coaches encourage us to make time for important people and things. We do not wish to live a life filled with lies and regret. We want to look back at our lives, one day, and say, ‘I hope I spent enough time with everyone!’ instead of ‘I wished I had spent more time with…’

Timing is everything. Perhaps it is not. However, time when it pertains to timeliness, punctuality, appropriateness of action, are expressions of the right time. Achieving a balance of life and work requires shifting our priorities and investing time for both critical variables in our lives. It may not be useful to dwell on the past, yet we can enjoy the moment, and look forward to our future.

Stretch time. Compress it. Enjoy your experiences. Live day by day. Live it. Make it livid and vivid. Avoid losing huge chunks of time over the unimportant and unnecessary. Stop and smell the roses. Invest time in the short-term so as to gain more in the long-term.

Can you make time stop? Is there an end of time? What will do with your time this week?