Thursday, June 30, 2011

10 Ways To Get Attention & Action For Your Cause

Do you have a cause that you strongly believe in? What have you done to promote it to a wider audience? With a plethora of Social Media tools readily available, what have you done to harness the power of positive word of mouth marketing, also known as tribes and trending? Have you considered having your communities to sneeze for you?

1)    Ask for help, and you may get it. Seek and ye may find.
2)    Go face-to-face: Have a chat with your colleagues, clients and collaborators about your cause, and why it is important to you.
3)    Text a message: subtle but effective when you have down-time (free time). Turn down-time into up-time! Promote your cause while standing in the train or rain.
4)    Do something in return. As long as you implement your initiative, you have led in the process. Be reciprocal. Attempt to climb a mountain, run a marathon, complete a triathlon, or set a national record – do something in return for the support you receive.
5)    Tweet about it. Small and frequent messaging adds up and increases your odds for success. Tweet before the rooster crows.
6)    Send sensible messages about it on Facebook and LinkedIn. Attach a link, so your readers can actively click on it. Remember: call for action. Just do it.
7)    Create a call for action. What do want your readers to do? Arrive in person to volunteer? Send a check? Make a donation on PayPal? Spread the word via their personal or professional networks?
8)    Write your own letter of appeal. Make it personal. Provide comprehensive answers: what, why, when, which, where, who and how. Your letter is your voice, your personal message, and your meaning.
9)    Seek collaborators. Great minds think alike. Liking leads to persuasion. The more diverse the better. Differences can complement the creative output.
10) Enjoy the results. Every response is a victory. Think long term as the benefits return. Every good turn deserves another!

These principles also apply to a new business, product launch, or a seminar you are promoting. Results count!

If you have used but useable running shoes do me a massive favour – clean them up and drop by the race-kit collection site for the Marina21K Run. Help build a sustainable sports community! Thanks to Village Focus International, we can promote running and healthy feet as a global initiative.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Your Highness!

Last weekend, I watched ‘Your Highness’ and I enjoyed it for the wrong reason: unbridled, crass, scathing, humour. It is always a treat to watch serious actors not take themselves too seriously in films with simple plotlines. Academy-Award winner, Natalie Portman and Academy-Award nominee James Franco ham it up to the hilt in this farcical play. It is sure to be a classic, as it is a hit with nerds and geeks. Not everyone's cup of tea, especially if you are Java kind of kind. Leave your inhibitions at the door and just immerse in the comedy!

Good news: we will interview multi-disciplined athlete extant, Sheila Taormina soon. She has participated over three disciplines (modern pentathlon, swimming and triathlon) over three Olympic Games. She won a gold medal in the 4X200m swim relay in 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, and placed high in the triathlon. She is now a motivational speaker, author and swim coach: three solid disciplines in life after competitive international sports.

Tomorrow, we fly off to Brisbane then head straight by train to the Gold Coast. It will be a short vacation, with it epicenter at the Gold Coast Marathon. I had a deep tissue massage at Core Concepts by Danny yesterday, and am still slightly sore. It could have been due to my last 21K run on Monday evening.

I enjoyed this evening’s ‘live’ concert: Kylie Minogue – Aphrodite Tour. The sets were amazing, with high-resolution graphics and videos. Dancers and trapeze dancers accompanied her; it felt like a Cirque Du Soleil performance, albeit with live singing from Minogue and her two back-up singers. We were on our feet most of the time as the audience felt compelled to stand up and dance, so a bit dodging of the traffic, so to speak. What a prelude before my Big Dance in Australia, from this petite Aussie Diva with the ability to hit the high notes. Dance on!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Rolling With Your Runaway Brain

Have you met people who are described as scatterbrain? Some are all over the shop when it comes to completing tasks, or even in a conversation. They can shift from topic to topic with ease and fluidity, however may leave their conversationalists in a lurch. These intriguing, seemingly defocused people have comprehensive brains, and can engage and disengage because things make sense for them.

Let your brain run free! Like running barefoot, liberate your thinking as we have too much clutter exacerbated by problems, anxiety and mounting concerns. Bruce Lee used to utter a Zen saying: ‘Empty your mind!’ which is about creating ‘Beginner’s Mind’. Before we can learn, and truly learn, we will need to denounce what we think we know. If we believe that we know everything, we have hindered ourselves mentally from receiving more.

Too many adults concern themselves of appearing childish; programmed by tradition and notions of appropriateness. In effect, what we may want to seek is ‘child-like innocence’ when we get creative, and engage innovative practices. Focus on the useful, not on the use-less. Embrace great ideas, even if they are dated. The ‘classics’ are considered as such, because they have endured the test of time; just like endurance athletes who test their mettle and mental tenacity with long and oftentimes, lonely runs. Last weekend, I challenged myself to write a dozen articles and succeeded. At times the going was tough, but I ran with it. Run in the jet-stream of consciousness and creativity.

Run away with your thinking. Do different things. Add variety. Stop plunging your brain into boredom, or doing boring things. Be disciplined, but make discipline relevant to you. Smile when you run – it is a good sign of things going well. Lead a meeting according to your group vision: finish early, and accomplish your decision-making. Implement and monitor ideas! Recognise your staff for their contributions by engaging their suggestions and recommendations. Acknowledge that each staff may be an expert in something.

Have faith in people and ourselves – have a nice thought and run with it! 
*****
All the best to those doing Ironman Korea this weekend! Coach will be doing it, and I hope that he gets a good shot a Kona slot this year in his new Age Group. He completed the World Championships in Kona in 2005 after this third attempt at the Ironman distance.

It will be a few more days before I depart for the Gold Coast Marathon. I look forward to this experience – my 11th stand-alone marathon, I think – and I will be connecting with some of my Twitter running friends. Sydney-based Soon, will be attempting a sub-3 hour marathon – this late-40-something did his first Ironman in Perth last year in a splendid time. Many Team Fatbird members will be making a brief exodus to the Gold Coast to enhance this big show. I am looking forward to it – another BQ would be nice, and a PB would be a bonus!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Fit For Travel, Fit For Lifestyle

Have you ever gone on group tours where you overhead callused or careless remarks like: ‘Why do they bring older people on tour?’ This is because some people have difficulty catching up or following the speed of the tour. Mind you, the Tour Directors may be sensitive to such realities and pace the tour (to the slowest moving ones) but they do get questioned, as I have witnessed.

The life cycle of humans indicate strongly that most tend to travel more only during their retirement. More and more, families are traveling in their youth, including bringing their children on overseas vacation at an earlier age (pre-teens). Being fit is an important aspect of your ability to cover more places of interest, as well as keeping up with the main group.

My ex-colleague, Edward who is based in Seattle shared with me last year that, when his colleagues invited him for a hike, it was 4-6 hour tough climbing excursion. He was not ready at all for his first foray into weekend hikes! He is now a fit, budding triathlete and blends well into the strong sporty and outdoors culture.

Executive fitness is as important as being fit for your vacation. Here are some ways to stay fit, year-round, for working trips or pleasure trips.

1)    Maintain basic fitness by doing fast, and long walks, a few times a week.
2)    Do core stability workouts a few times a week. You can do it at home at your convenience (before your shower or meal).
3)    You can do short circuit training sessions that last two to three sets (10-15 minutes long).
4)    If you have a gym, do 2-3 workouts per week as a goal. Weight-training is important for those over-40 as we tend to lose more bone mass then.
5)    Any activity is still activity! A bit goes a long way.
6)    Do some strength training for you may need to haul heavy luggage (yours, and others) when moving from airport to airport, hotel to hotel.
7)    After each business day, head for the gym to de-stress and aim for a 30-45 minute workout. Add variety, and switch order of activities or mix them up (swim, ride, run or strength-training).
8)    When traveling, stay hydrated with bottled or plain water.
9)    Move around when on-board your plane or train. DVT is a potential threat if we stay too still for too long.
10) Bring a small first-aid kit with you on all travels. Your local clinic can provide you with the basic set that includes medication for traveller’s sickness, fever, flu, cuts, stings and abrasions.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Nothing Beats Your First Time!

100K of nocturnal pounding on the pavement: That was what my friends did with hundreds of other ultra-marathoners at this morning’s Sundown Ultra-marathon. Last year's third-place finisher, Robson Phan (who I shared a photo-finish with, at last year’s Beer Run), braving gastrointestinal issues at the 53K (after holding a 10K/h pace, completed it in under-11 hours (and a 7th placing). Apparently, his pre-race meal of sweet potatoes did not agree with him on the second-half of the race.

Congratulations to sleep-deprived, Lap Huan, Charlotte (for placing second), Winston and Wilson (93K is two marathons-plus) for their personal attempts! Congratulations to Mika Kume for her podium placing in the Masters’s category, and to Sumiko Tan for her win in the Women’s Open section. Mika out-ran me at last year’s 84K night challenge, much to my honour.

As I read the real-time reports on Facebook (courtesy of iPhone users), I was thinking about these brave athletes. Running in the evening is very harsh on the body, considering the fact that there was high humidity (almost 100 percent) and scarcity of breeze. It rained in the morning, so the air was thick with excitement and water vapour. The race flagged off at the Marina Barrage at 6.00pm, and the route covered the entire eastern part of Singapore. I was also a little disappointed at not racing this year’s marathon, although I swore I would never do it again (soon).  With next week’s Gold Coast Marathon looming, I had to rest up my legs to stay fresh for a potential PB. An ultra-marathon takes too long to recover, and a week does not cut if I was seeking a second Boston Qualifier (BQ). At my current fitness, I believe that I could have completed the 100K in about 11 hours. No loss for fantasizing!

The results came in fast and furious through social media, mainly iPhone reports, Facebook posts and the occasional tweets. For those of us who decided to support our running mates (not political, mind you), we cheered them on – much to their appreciation. My friends (like Charles of AniMiles) drove to specific locations along the official route, and either offered cold drinks and coffee, and even leg massages (Reese of Crazy2Tri supporting Lawrence). Running a night ultra-marathon is a very lonely proposition made more memorable with cheerful friends, excited over your own challenge and celebration.

I wish you the very best on your next challenge. Read about John Cooke's new racing experience.

Leadership Lesson: What was it like completing your first challenge? How does it feel to accomplish something seemingly impossible? How grateful are you of your supporters?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Art of Pairing Up

In the early 1990’s, I had the honour of meeting Singaporean wine connoisseur Chng Poh Tiong at a luncheon hosted for journalists. He mentioned the fact that many wine-drinkers had not dared experiment with drinking wines with local foods. Why not pair a Chardonnay with Hainanese chicken rice (a simple but beautiful dish to sample when you are here for the F1 Night Race)? Or, a Northern Indian curry dish with a cabernet sauvignon? Why is it always the simplistic approach: red meat with red wine; white meat with white wine? Rose wine must, probably, confuse many neophyte winophiles – drink it alone and by itself?

This led me to think about the concept of pairing. If we can pair up wines and cuisines, then how can we extend and expand pairing in our relationships and pursuits? If pairing clothes is complicated at times (as in fashion), can you imagine how relations – both professional and personal – can turn out when we pair up carelessly and impulsively?

Racing or training solo may be a straightforward task. However, once you pair up with a partner, you have a responsibility and obligations to look after and look out for your companion. Father-and-son team ‘The Hoyts’ race together in endurance races, including the Ironman triathlon. The fact is that the father is doing most of the work towing his son on a dinghy (while he swims 3.8K), rides with his son perched at the front of his bike, and pushes him in a wheelchair during the marathon. However, it is a strong testament of fatherly love for his son.

When racing in a relay, how do you pair up your members? Who passes the baton or champion-chip to whom? Who swims, rides and runs requires discernment and decision. Pairing is, thus, crucial to gaining time over the competition as it can be a strategic move. You choice of partners in adventure races also matter, as you are as strong as your weakest link (partner, injuries, health, and fitness).

I intend to meet an Australian couple, Sue and Andrew O’Brien who are, incidentally authors at next weekend’s Gold Coast Marathon. This couple has run eight marathons over eight countries over eight weeks and will be speaking at the race-fair.

Sponsors have a marketing budget and marketing campaign in mind. Who they pair up with has to maximise their marketing spend. Thus, it is challenging to get them to become key or main sponsors in new sporting events. There is doubt, concerns and apprehension over untested companies and events. Trust becomes the currency and denomination of partnership and commitment. Therefore, pairing decision is dependent on the relationships built through frequent face-to-face and online contact – what we know as ‘touch points’. When companies have a Facebook page or Twitter page, they are hoping to initiate pairings with current and potential consumers that lead to future ‘top-of-mind’ consumer decisions. When we click the ‘like’ button, we have begun the pairing process.

In business, the various relationships we initiate or get into have implications and consequences if we are unaware of the unspoken and unassertive. Many issues emerged after a professional relation matures; disagreements lead to conflicts and prejudices. Partners take up positions of offence or defence; as such, there are forces of struggle within and without, and customers and colleagues notice the incongruence.

Leadership Lesson: When did you last pair up professionally? What would you consider before you enter an alliance or partnership? Which are the implications of partnering with friends and family in business?

Friday, June 24, 2011

‘Twas the Night Before The Race

The 24-48 hours before a long endurance race is crucial. Being mindful of your last days of preparation matter as much as the months of training preceding the race. Here are pre-race considerations that may spell the difference for a tough or tougher race.

1)    Lay out your race attire: race-bib, race-belt/fuel-belt, champion chip, water-pouch, visor, shoes and socks.
2)    Ensure that you have adequate calories through energy-gels and energy-bars. You can store bottles of energy-gels in the refrigerator overnight. If you like, you can mark volume (one serving) levels with a permanent-marker.
3)    Bring salt-tablets in case you suffer electrolyte-related cramps. Store them in a Ziploc bag.
4)    Pack your special needs bag if one is available with extra race attire, towel, and caloric assistance.
5)    Smear Vaseline or body lubricant (when you dress up) to reduce chaffing or abrasions.
6)    Have the most sleep at least two nights before. Pre-race anxiety usually robs you of restful sleep.
7)    Hydrate fully 24 hours ahead of time. Drink enough fluids including sports drinks.
8)    Avoid spicy or irritating foods and condiments. Avoid high-fibre food 24 hours before the Big Dance as gastro-intestinal (GI) issues may surface due to abdominal massaging effect.
9)    Clear your bowels as often and as much as you can, including before the race.
10) Stretch your muscles, and avoid deep tissue massage within 48 hours of the race. Raise your legs and stay off your feet as much as you can the night before. If overseas, no shopping the day before!

All the best to those attempting the adidas Sundown Marathon 100K run on Saturday evening. A big shout out to Victor Chan and Ng Lap Huan! Enjoy your long night out, and more aerobic efficiency to you.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Evaluate And Act On It

I have been experiencing some niggles recently. Niggles are pains or nagging points of physical concerns. My sole was sore upon walking and I thought it was an impending case of plantar fasciitis – not good if it was the case for it cripples you for some time. Several of my friends including Coach had heel or sole issues. In severe cases, you may require medication, painful cortisone injections and even surgery. Tight Achilles Tendons can trigger off a spate of heel and sole-related injuries, so stretching and deep tissue massage are necessary preventive treatments.

As such, I sought my massage therapist, Danny (of Core Concepts) and he administered a strong dose of deep tissue massage on Monday: I had not visited him since Ironman Lanzarote and so my calves and ITBs hurt to some extent. Yesterday evening, I ran 21K comfortably in my Newton Gravity, although I may have lost some muscle tone due to the previous day's massage. This evening, I discovered that my sore sole could have been caused by a stiff part of my flip-flops; it nudged a soft part of my sole and manifested as sore heels.

Evaluating yourself for injury is an important part of your conditioning. Neglect certain parts of your training can lead to potential pains and injuries. Act immediately when the clues and cues are present. Procrastination may rob you of your hard-earned fitness when your mild injuries escalate into chronic injuries. Better safe than sorry. Evaluate your condition and respond appropriately.

Here is an article about a core part of our physical training that cannot be ignored.

Here is a very good interview by Teo Hui Koon with vertical runner extant and marathoner, Andrew Ngo. Be inspired!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cover Your Base

In endurance sports, you base training is crucial to your success. Aerobic fitness, or long distance/duration training builds both speed and sustainability in the long run. New Zealand coach, Arthur Lydiard emphasised aerobic training as a base for all endurance athletes; he strongly influenced Nike co-founder and University of Oregon’s coach Bill Bowerman to adapt his philosophy.

These long and, sometimes, lonely runs or rides build our 'base'. Through time, this base forms the foundation for even longer and more demanding races. Endurance training builds muscle memory and avoids shocking the body. It also builds a different form of fitness: stronger joints and muscles that are familiar to tougher work. As such, there are less new and unfamiliar variables to work with.

When things go wrong, staff are known to cover their behinds if they do not want to be incriminated or implicated. It is common to conveniently shift the blame and appoint scapegoats. This is not a nice thing to do yet it has become a survival strategy for such employees. In the long run, this approach builds resentment and lack of confidence for leaders and colleagues.

By being skillful, open to challenges, and constantly testing oneself to new conditions and environments leaders become more useful and effective. Focus on your base knowledge, people-orientated skills, and work collaboratively: build know-what, know-how and know-who.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

10 Ways to Create Productive Conversations

A ‘productive conversation’ is time spent well with anyone, where you enjoy the verbal interaction and engagement. You benefit from the talk because it is a pleasant experience, you learn something, and you connect with a fellow human being.


1)    Be curious.
2)    Learn something.
3)    Ask comprehensive questions – ask the 6W & one H.
4)    Clarify if you are not sure. Confirm with yes/no questions.
5)    Create ‘a-ha’ moments. Eureka moments are great when ideas click.
6)    Create ‘ha-ha’ moments: share a few laughs.
7)    Demonstrate your core values: respect, trust and be open.
8)    Use it as an opportunity to recognize the person, and others.
9)    Share ideas, explore options and consider another point of view.
10) Be confident with your communication. Think, feel and do.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Leading With Experience

Does experience matter? Surely it does, provided you learn from your experience – mistakes included. Too often, older staff mistake years of work in the company as experience. Unfortunately, they do not equate; staff do fly under the radar and only do the necessary for years! Staff who have been retrenched tend to be resentful of younger staff, who join the company at higher and stringent entry levels. Being highly educated, skillful and tech-savvy, is the norm today for employment.

Re-hiring retired staff can be a useful approach, when these were your best performers. If you are able to download the tacit wisdom and experiences of valued staff, you may be able to transfer this body of knowledge across to the next generation of staff. Mentors, executive coaches and in-house trainers can found in both retired and retiring staff. To carelessly lose these staff would be to waste away years of valuable expertise and exposure. For example, you can rehire your top salespeople as a selling coach, so as to initiate new sales engineers into the industry. You benefit from marrying the ‘know-how’ with the ‘know-who’.

B K Liew was the coach for yesterday’s morning run session; this was second and final part of the series of free preparatory clinics for runners in the brand-new Marina21K Run (23 July). He has completed several Ironman triathlons, ran across the Gobi Desert, and done numerous ultra-marathons and adventure races – all in all, he is very experienced about taking on new physical adventures for solo or team expeditions. He covered in clear detail pre-race preparations, including how to train with periodisation. Periodisation is about cleverly training progressively to make incremental gains in one’s physical fitness. Essentially, you deliberately increase mileage and intensity, yet are mindful of periods of lower intensity, and time for rest and recovery. You cannot increase distance and intensity indefinitely without incurring injury and meeting a plateau in your performance.

Leadership Lessons: How do you retain talent within your company? How do you value experience? How do you recognize the mature worker? How do you engage your staff performance with periodisation? How often do you conduct face-to-face, one-on-one, conversations with your staff?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

You Rock!





Spectators: ‘Go Natascha – you rock!
Natascha Badmann: [punches fist in the air and continues running marathon] ‘Thanks guys!’

The above was a scene from one of the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii in the mid-2000’s. That is the power of suggestion and encouragement. Even professionals and world champions need it to bolster their flagging confidence and performance.
Ironman ‘Voices’ Mike Riley and Whit Raymond begin their announcements when the transition areas opens before dawn, till the last participants crosses the line the music is playing. Music fills the air, muting some doubts, pre-race anxiety, and the residual sleepiness of race supporters and family. When I am not in a trance-like state during the race, I recall a few songs that stir and spur my spirit. Here is a sample of songs that rock when you are in the finisher’s chute completing your run, or making a u-turn:

Avril Lavigne: What the Hell
Katy Perry: Firework
Cheryl Cole: Fight For This Love
Black-Eyed Peas: Bom Bom Pow
Black-Eyed Peas: I Got A Feeling
Madonna: 4 Minutes
ACDC: You Shook Me All Night Long
ACDC: Highway to Hell
Linkin Park: Numb

Songs are like mantra; at least, that’s what the chorus do to us – incite in us a sense of positivism through the lyrics and melody. What are you favourite iPod songs? Which songs or pieces of music rock you on?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

High Performance Standards

Our standards reflect on how well we tend to do things. Being thorough, comprehensive, paying attention to details, and being nit-picking are part of the process of delivering good or better work. Perfectionists may appear to be a pain in the *** as times, however they are usually well intentioned. Perfectionists only have difficulty accepting more people into their perceived inner circle of performers since they live up to a higher personal set of standards and rules. You tend to hear: ‘If you can’t do a better job, I’ll do it myself!’

High standards of performance are also a part of our discipline. In the last two years in this blog, we covered the topic of discipline and interviewed highly disciplined athletes. This discipline and diligence to adhering to personal discipline (and that of others) has been translated into actual performance and record-breaking performance.

When you race – why do you race? Is it to collect yet another medal to that over-flowing shoebox of stained ribbons? Is it because you want to add another certificate into your resume of sporting achievements? Or, do you enjoy collecting race tees so that you can one day form a quilt that becomes your requiem for physical redemption? We must have a shelf-life for intense competition and racing for we do get injured, and our joints get worn down and out.

Perhaps standards are variable measurements. Numbers can be altered. Performance standards can vary, and we can use other variables to measure our performance. Hear these words from managers during a performance interview and you may shake your head in displeasure:


‘I gave you a B because I would not give myself anything higher than a B!’
‘It is what it is.’
‘It is enough to get you through another year.’
‘I am not agreeing. I am NOT disagreeing.’
‘Whatever you ask me to, Drill-Sergeant!’ (Sorry – that was from Forest Gump, the film).

Here is a review of professional magician, Nique Tan on his recent one-night-only, one-person performance at the Raffle Jubilee Theatre. Look out for more of Nique’s high standards in his work; he is great for international corporate engagements.

Race hard. Train safely. Rest more. Recover well. May you perform to your expectations often.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Disappointments and Brand Damage

The inaugural Ironman New York 2012 is sold out. There have been many sold out Ironman races in recent months. IMNZ and IMWA sold out within a matter of days; hesitation led to disappointment. Boston Marathon 2011 was sold out in 8 hours 3 minutes! As such, the new system for registration will be in three tiers, subject to how fast the Boston Qualification (BQ) timings are. The faster your BQ time, the earlier you can register and therefore assure a better chance at registering successfully for the 115-year-old marathon.

Then, there is the case of Ironman China being cancelled in stages. Despite refunding the race fees, and promise of free entries in other races the damage was severe. Participants lost time, money and effort preparing for the race; most of all, their goals were affected and schedules thrown into disarray. Ironman Korea was revived, and some resigned themselves to a new race and promise of a new experience and a free slot. Fingers are crossed that on race day the swim will not be cancelled as it was in 2006 due to inclement weather and strong waves.

Perhaps the trend is strongly in favour of endurance sports and a fitness lifestyle. Hopefully, this trend survives and is sustained by other factors instead of earning pure ‘bragging rights’ or ‘attempting the impossible’. Also, capping the numbers may impinge on profitability, however safety considerations are paramount when hosting physical activities and sporting events. Although liabilities are reduced when participants sign waivers or consent forms, a death or injury reduces the event organisers’ reliability. Minor glitches are still a reflection of lack of thoroughness or carefulness. We cannot veer from our core values that we seemingly live with and for.

Of course, there is the Scarcity Principle at work. Robert B. Cialdini’s landmark work ‘Influence – Psychology of Persuasion’ described in detail with research, that people on exclusivity. Scarcity is about rare, and rare increases the perceived value of an object, event or service.

The down side is disappointing others. When you qualify for the Boston Marathon and fail to sign up online due to choked lines, the perception of the brand becomes tainted by negative emotions. Through time, the event, its brand name and reputation become tarnished and diminished in value. Less may not be best.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Develop Your Core

My client was at the gym weight training his major muscles groups – useful for maintaining bone density and ensuring his lean tissue development. Ironman finisher and television’s ‘The Bachelor’ Dr Andy Baldwin wrote me that weight training, vitamin D and calcium were necessary for those athletes over-40 years if age. He followed this up with about 20 minutes treadmill running, and a core stability session. In the latter, he performed the Plank, Side Plank and static Lower Back Raise (akin to the Cobra Pose in yoga). I understand that he does his core stability work everyday, mainly using the Plank and one session of yoga every week; he has never receive rehabilitative prescription nor incurred a serious sports injury before. He learnt about core stability from his colleague.

My assessment is that his core strength is superb. His form is impeccable and he appreciates functional strength and stability. His lower flexibility is healthy and to be envied at his age. His disciplined approach to developing his core and translated gracefully into better mobility and a freer posture. In other words, he is likely to perform better physically in sports with less risk of injury. He still swims regularly and he is very confident about his competency in the water.

Likewise, you should consider developing your core competencies further. Competencies can lose their resilience through time unless we continue to beef up our skills. Instead of isolated skills, focus on integrated skill-sets. Like exercise, each set comprises several repetitions. Repetition is the way to learn, ensuring muscle memory and permanence, provide you practice the correct technique. Perfect practice makes perfect. Practise your skills occasionally to keep current and confident.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Applications and Applying Your Skills


‘High-tech, low-touch’ is the way many of us are going with interpersonal communications. If we can replace face-to-face interactions with a text message or e-mail, we will. Why trouble ourselves unnecessarily with sensory onslaught and assault on the senses? We have to actively track non-verbal cues and be active in our listening. For many, this can be too much work and a waste of time gathering information for comprehension. Are hard skills or technical skills hard to learn? Or, are soft skills flaccid and easy to grasp?

Are soft skills a waste of time? Are interpersonal skills worth avoiding? Can we ignore the training of service staff in retail outlets and in hotels? Can we afford to leave sales professionals along and let them figure the closure of sales through intuition and common sense? Is experience reliable, when this is not backed by knowledge and skills?

In the last two days overseas, I have enjoyed casual but rich conversations with taxi-drivers and hotel staff. I have communicated and taught in Mandarin, English and Hokkien (equivalent to Taiwan’s main native language. It is interesting how a tourist can express and articulate himself like a local. In effect, it has taken me most of my life to learn, practise and apply my language skills. I read, write and speak my foreign languages. Familiarity and the flirty come with acquiring mastery of any language. Your appreciation of language and culture is intrinsic and intertwined. It also makes eaves-dropping such a fascinating process; you can never be bored again!

Computer applications are only useful when you use these downloaded content. Otherwise, they take up space (in our digital devices) and become redundant and devalued through time. Use it, or delete it. With soft skills like languages, they become wasted through our own negligence and ignorance if we fail to keep them intact through conversations.

Hard or soft – give your learnt skills your best shot!
*****
Three weeks to go to my marathon and the tapering process has begun. After two days of rest, nursing my tight Archilles tendons with regular deep massage and loads of stretching, I ran a hill intervals program on the treadmill. It was an easy day however the elevation change made it challenging. If you allow your calves and Archilles tendon to be tight, it pulls on your heels and makes it tender to run or walk. Be careful when you increase your mileage suddenly and procrastinate on your stretching.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Will to Succeed

The dreaded F Word: failure. Who wants failure? Despite what many self-help gurus write about bouncing back from failure, it is a painful experience. When your results do not match your expectations, it is natural to feel lousy and disappointed.

My triathlon buddy, Hui Koon reported on his recent Challenge Cairns 2011. Like I (at IM Lanzarote) he, too, had a tough day at the office. He gives a blow-by-blow account of his racing experience and disappointment at not meeting his target. You did very well, Bro! Live to recover and race another day!

Being resilient is about landing softly and not hard. You create a cushion to your fall, so that you recover quickly to achieve your goals later. Patience is part of the equation, so bask in the entire process. Sometimes, we have to take two steps back so that we can advance three steps. We rarely need to start from scratch. That is where base training, an analogy for experience and wisdom comes in. What happens between discovering failure and attaining that much appreciated sense of success matter! Refine after you define. Define who you are in different ways.

When there’s a will, there’s another way to your success. Forward and onwards!
*****
Am now overseas; my second trip in a fortnight. I will teach for the next two days, and face professional salespeople who are very familiar about their industry and discipline. What I will offer will be insights to the total experience of selling, a more exquisite process and assisting models for engineering a pleasant experience for both seller and buyer. The hotel I am staying in has the best audio-visual assistance: a flat-screen television which you can plug-and-play your notebook, with accompanying DVD player and speakers for a great presentation experience.

Bloody luxury, I say, and I am learning to savour it; more trips to follow and more hotels to review…

Don’t Sweat The Small Things

This was a popular book just a few years back, and it spawned many derivatives (like the Chicken Soup For the Soul series). However, it is so easy to lose sight of the essence of the theme if you did not read it.

Details are important if you want to achieve your goals on time, and on target. Negligence and carelessness can compromise our goals, and even dreams. However, details can cloud the big picture if we can bogged with them. Analyse until paralyse!

Routine tasks are just routines which means we need to do them. However a routine need not be boring or predictable. Training for a race may be tough, but it need not test our attention and attentiveness. Routines help build discipline and patience, so we do them to prove we can manage the daily disruptions and interruptions. Here are some ideas for not spending too much energy wasted on the minutiae.

1)    Spend a small of the day to compliment somebody or give praise.
2)    Encourage somebody. This is one of the best ways for empowering others.
3)    When the going gets tough, laugh it off. Laughter produces stress-coping chemicals in our brain.
4)    Exercise is like laughter, although its more strenuous it can be just as effective.
5)    Create moments to leave your desk. It would be better for your back.
6)    Send a ‘how are you?’ text message, or an e-mail. Enjoy how soon you get a reply.
7)    Pick up an unfamiliar word and search it up on dictionary.com. See how soon you can use it in your correspondence.
8)    Break a pattern of behavior. Change your morning routine. Switch your exercises around. Each more vegetables of another colour.
9)    Delegate to another a useful task – however offer the person a degree of authority, and you retain the responsibility. That’s sharing the workload.
10) Give thanks and praise to the universe. Be thankful that we are alive to be able to experience life in its many forms.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Back To Basics

I recall one album of Christina Aguilera called ‘Back to Basics’. It reminded me of the need to, occasionally, review the fundamentals in our personal and professional lives.

At yesterday’s swim clinic at Sentosa island with triathlon professional/coach, Pete Jacobs, I learnt about specific strategies for entering the water (dry start), mass start (in water/wet start), drafting effectively, sighting, going around buoys, and exiting from the water. Basics like gliding, keeping head and hips down, and breathing were constant reminders. Proper form equates to extra speed and efficiency. One participant included a 9:42 Busselton Ironman finisher who missed his Kona slot by one placing! Even elite age-groupers learn from the best.

I placed 13th out of 210 veteran runners at yesterday’s Mizuno Mount Faber Run. I missed the top-10 prizes, but was reasonably happy with my efforts (46:26) over a rolling course. This was my last race after Ironman Lanzarote, and I did my longest run then. Yesterday’s run was tough enough and very humid, and the field was competitive. I am proud to be among fast company, many who are intimately familiar with the route and hill.

There are a few run slots available for Pete’s run clinic this evening for 6.15-7.15pm. Do decide early if you are clear about returning to the basics.

Another week of treadmill drills, as I will depart tomorrow for an overseas assignment again. For me back to basics means core strength development, proper technique and being disciplined. A few more Yasso 800’s to keep my legs active and alert. Got to start planning specifically for the cooler run in Gold Coast. Beginning 2013, Boston Qualifiers (times) will be five minutes less, and the extra 59 seconds do not count. The application for the Boston Marathon will be in three-tiers: better than 20 minutes, better than 10 minutes, and those who fall within. Fastest times take priority: thus, my reason to attempt a second BQ in three weeks’ time.

Have a good week, everyone!