Friday, August 14, 2020

Trading Up (From 2010-2020) In A COVID-19 World

I wrote this essay 'Trading Up' in 2010, and will revise it during these harsh and harrowing times. Let us review it and see if the principles of 'trading upwards' is still relevant. In fact, think of 'bartering' - exchanges of goods for services, or services-for-services. How do we have a mindset of maximising our efforts? How can we turn our Efforts-Into-Results? I also attach an attractive and alluring infographic by to explain the story better.

I would like to hear your thoughts and approaches to this matter.

In his book, One Red Paper Clip, Kyle MacDonald actually traded up a single piece of stationary into a dream house within one year! He took 14 trades, integrated through active and passive networking, and achieved his amazing results. This was the challenge he posed himself, and his inspirational story may trigger off your own ideas. By the way, did you attempt the challenges I posed you recently?

A few days ago, I proposed doing something with 80 pairs of spectacle frames. What can we do with them? Shall we:

1) Trade them up for something of higher perceived value?

2) Sell them to get some startup capital?

3) Combine them with a lens sponsor and an ophthalmologist to equip 80 children and adults with better vision

4) Start a blog called ’80 Pairs of Vision’ and trade up like Kyle did in One Red Paper Clip? [I gave these spectacles to McDonalds in Thailand, and these were given to the disadvantaged in the rural areas.]

Come on. Participate. Let’s make some changes. Change can be very good. I will be collecting the frames soon.

Update: I had quite a few suggestions on what to do with these spectacle frames since then. Keep the ideas flowing. Remember, this project is for charity.

Thursday, August 6, 2020


Recently, I posted on how playing cards and card-games mattered in my life.When I was a child, I played ‘Happy Family’, ‘Snap and ‘Old Maid’. I played enthusiastically, seriously, passionately (when I won), and sometimes, frustratingly and angrily (when I lost or made a wrong move). I progressed (and matured) by learning the game of Gin Rummy, through observing adults at play. I assure you that other than shuffling (on the floor) and cutting the cards, I wasn’t allowed to play however I was encouraged to ask about the rules. I learnt early that rules mattered in games.‘Uno’ was the official commercial game sold and kids were allowed to play it in school. The other cards I regularly touched were those on ‘Community Chest’ and ‘Take A Chance’ strategically positioned on the Monopoly board. Monopoly is one of the best board-games that disguised the concepts of real estate and property.In the 1990’s, I was fascinated by magic and I began learning card magic. I read an old instructional textbook called ‘The Expert At The Card Table’ (1902) that revealed a chapter on ‘legerdermain’ or magic in this obscure small book on crooked gambling. I was smitten by the creativity of the card-cheat at the poker table. 30 years later, I am still practicing these illegal moves (read: false shuffling, false cutting and false dealing), however, I use them purely for creating illusions with cards.

About eight years ago, Teambuilding Facilitator Zaccheus Goh introduced me to the Marshmallow Challenge. I watched the TED Talk about facilitating this game, and began integrating it into my workshops on creativity and innovation. It reminded me of the Tower-Building Game, which was based on building a House of Cards.I tend to use playing-cards for games in standard and non-standard ways. For ice-breakers, we can use playing-cards to pair up participants/students randomly. We can use mathematical variations to group team-members (example, sorting by suits, colours, forming the best Poker hand, and forming a collective hand for ‘21’).‘Batty’ is a unique card puzzle-game designed by an amazing and inspiring card-magician, Richard Turner (an actor, entertainer and card-man). It is FUN, CHALLENGING, and EDUCATIONAL. The Logic Round is a mind-stimulating game similar to Solitaire. The Q & A Matching Round combines the challenges of matching cards and answering academic questions. It can be used for 3rd-8th graders, yet will drive you nuts (thus ‘batty’). Batty-designer Turner while legally-blind (and he does not reveal it), holds many interesting jobs and he is one of the best card-cheats/consultants in the world. He invented Batty when he was 11 years old, and it has 11 levels of difficulty.

In the past decade, I have used the Value Cards (created by Gary Yardley, Jan Kelly & Sally Rundle) to facilitate sessions on cascading Core Values in organisations. These are playing cards with values (and supporting values) on each of the 56 cards. These 142 values were identified through extensive study of 1000 leading organisations across industries. These values have been identified as Ideal Values, Shared Values, Expressive Values, Value Disciplines, and Activating Values. Through the use of these cards, we create a cognitive and emotional relationship with- Our personal and professional values- How we connect with and address values- How we associate with Bridging Values (that rapidly connects us with others)- Core Values & how these can be cascaded widely throughout the organizationWe use these cards in games, and relate to the value ‘at hand’. We then use the various metaphors related to cards, such as ‘ace in the hole’, ‘ace up the sleeve’, ‘full house’, ‘playing with a full hand’, ‘You play the hand that life deals you’, and more.If you feel uncomfortable with playing cards, you can always use cards made for younger children (6-12 years). These are based on popular animated characters or motion-picture characters (Disney characters, Pokemon, Magic: The Gathering, and the like). These trademarked and heavily copyrighted cards will cost more, and I would not be generous in giving them away.The rich history of cards has established its relevance and popularity even after nearly-1,400 years later (Tang Dynasty); the modern European version arrived near 1400 A.D. The creative possibilities with playing-cards in gamification leaves much to our imagination.Do give these beautiful firm pieces of paper a go when you are facilitating a conversation. It has served the soothsayers and fortune-tellers of earlier days in storytelling and cold-reading, and the foretelling of events.In these challenging times, going back to basics with card-games may provide us with a sense of clarity through its simplicity. Just shuffle, cut, and deal. Let’s play!