Sunday, December 11, 2011

Trust in Yourself - Hear No Evil


Once upon a time, but not long ago, there lived a happy colony of frogs in a pond rich with food and spring water.

Unfortunately, due to the effects of global warming and climate change, the pond started to slowly dry up. Food became scarce and the water became a sticky slimy mix of mud and dirt.

The frogs began to fall sick one by one, and disease started to spread across the once healthy colony. The frogs started to panic, they had to leave the pond or all are doomed to die a slow and agonising death on the parched river bed.


So one day, it was the time for the great migration. The entire colony of several hundred frogs set off to the “promised pond” flowing with pristine mountain stream water and teeming with juicy worms and delicious, crunchy beetles and dragon flies.

As soon as the journey started, one frog complained, “Why do we have to choose such a sizzling hot day to start our journey?”

Indeed, not only was the weather hot, the ground was hard and peppered with sharp stones. The sharp stones cut painfully into the tiny feet of the frogs. “Why did we choose such a difficult route?!” grumbled another frog.

Soon, murmurings of many questions with no easy answers spread across the entire colony. The murmurings got louder…. and… LOUDER.

Finally, the inevitable happened.

The first frog stopped. “This journey doesn’t make sense at all”, it proclaimed. Then another frog stopped. “This journey isn’t worth the trouble”, echoed another.

“Let’s just go back”, declared another. One by one, the frogs stopped.

All, but one

One tiny frog just continued when every frog had stopped. It pressed ahead, further, and further from the chattering crowd, one painful hop at a time.

It struggled down a deep valley, and then painfully made its way up a steep, rock cliff to arrive at the golden pond on the other side.

The colony of frogs was watching from their side of the hill. They shouted at the top of their voices and waved their feet frantically at the little frog to turn back. But it was all in vain.

The entire colony was amazed, and in awe. Every frog was wondering what special powers this little one had that helped it overcome such incredible huddles.

Then a cousin of the little frog revealed to the colony that his little frog cousin was…. well…. deaf!

It quickly dawned on the colony that the little frog had no special powers at all. It was just deaf and oblivious to all the self defeating talk and thoughts of the colony.

Dear friends, have you had the experience of abandoning your dreams and plans because of the negative voices you heard?


Who is the loudest naysayer in your life?

For many of us, that very person is none other than, WE, ourselves.

For many of us, the loudest, negative voice come from inside us. Compared to our own negative voice, even the devil is sometimes kinder.

All of us have two voices in our head. The critical, negative voice, and the supportive, positive voice.

In order not to abandon our dreams like the frogs, we need to trust our positive, supportive voice.

We need to trust in our way of thinking, for that gives us the confidence to be creative in thinking up new ideas.

We need to trust in our ability, for that gives us the confidence to take bold action.

We need to trust in our purpose, for that gives us the confidence to stay committed in the face of huddles that will inevitably stand in the way of achieving our dreams.

So my dear friends, be like the little frog, be deaf to the negative voices that discourage you from your goals. Trust instead in your thinking, ability, and purpose.
Good luck!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Know What You Fear to Overcome Fear


The ancient Greek god Pan was a half man, half goat being. He stood on two beefy hairy legs, had a human torso, a human face, and had the twisted horns of a goat.

Besides, his unique looks, Pan was known for two things. Firstly, he was lecherous and spent most of his time seducing the pretty goddesses and fairies. Secondly, Pan was also wickedly playful and mean.

Pan lived in the forests among the rolling hills and plains of the beautiful Greek countryside. Whenever he was bored, that is, without his female company - he would amuse himself by playing tricks on wary travellers at night. When the tired travellers were trudging through the dark valleys on dark moonless nights, Pan would rustle the bushes and make strange noises.

The poor travellers would imagine that there were wild and ferocious animals stalking them, about to pounce on them from the bushes. They would be so frightened that they would run for their lives. This state of great terror of something unknown, imaginary, and false is known as, panic, after the Greek god Pan.

This reminds me of the time I was a young officer in the Singapore Air Force’s Tengah Air Base back in 1981.


Tengah Air Base had a very long and proud history. It was from Tengah that the British Royal Air Force defended the Empire during World War Two. In turn, the Japan Army Air Force ruled the skies for the Emperor from Tengah during the Japanese occupation. After the war, Tengah resumed its role as the centre of British air power until it was handed over to the Singapore Air Force.

When officers sat down to chat, the topic very often drifted to ghost stories of Tengah’s past residents. Stories of torture, executions, and pilots who never returned from their missions. People remembered which unlucky colleague had lived in which room. We traded stories of strange sightings and unusual noises.

When we returned to base at night, there was a 15 minute walk between what was known as the West Gate and the Officer’s Mess. The walk took us through a golf course with rolling greens and ancient giant trees. At that time, the base was undergoing massive and rapid rebuilding. Most of the lights had been removed for the reconstruction. And every time we returned to base after the weekend, the landscape would have changed. Trees would dug up or roughly hacked leaving grotesque shapes in the dark. Gaping holes would be dug out where there was none just before the weekend. The excavators and cranes would look like menacing monsters in the dark. When the wind blew, the leaves would shake angrily and their long shadows would dart here and there unpredictably.

My imagination would mix these shadows and sounds with the ghost stories I heard. My heart would pound, I started to sweat, my walking pace would pick up. As I walked, more and more strange shadows would appear and I would hear more unexplainable sounds. Suddenly, I would pick up my pace and dash until I reached the relief of bright lights of the mess.

That my friends, is the sheer panic that the poor victims of Pan felt.

Someone said that panic or fear is nothing but False Evidence Appearing Real.

So if fear is False Evidence Appearing Real that means we ourselves created it, and it usually comes from the unknown.

But some fears are real. When we see a car coming towards us, we better feel fear, and we better get out of the way, fast!

But how much of our fears are created by the rustles and noises that Pan is playing tricks on us with?

Are you afraid of what might be there, rather than what is really there?

A common False Evidence Appearing Real is the fear of failure.

Goran Ericsson former manager of the England football team once said, “The greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure.”

Paraphrasing US President Franklin Roosevelt’s inaugural address, “There nothing to fear but fear of False Evidence Appearing Real”.

Failure hasn’t happened yet, but just the fear of imagined failure is enough to stop people in their tracks. Or lower their aim. Take a safer route.

Imagine if Columbus was fearful of falling off the edge of the earth, where is America today? If Steve Jobs was afraid that people might not appreciate the iPhone, would Apple ever be the world’s largest company?

My friends, next time you hear rustles in the bushes at night. Before you run off in panic, shine a light on it, check out what it is. Maybe it is a tiger and you better run. Maybe it is nothing more than False Evidence Appearing Real.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Power of Visualization: Onami the Great Wave!


Onami was a powerful sumo wrestler who lived in Japan about 100 years ago.

Onami was so strong and skilful that he was able to beat his own teachers during wrestling matches in private training. Indeed, Onami never ever lost a practice match.

However, Onami has a problem of stage fright. Crowds made Onami nervous.

He was unable to perform at his best during public matches in front of large audiences. During public matches, Onami was beaten even by his own students and also by untalented wrestlers only half his size. Onami’s stage fright became so serious that he lost twenty consecutive matches.

Troubled by his stage fright problems, Onami consulted a wise Zen master.

The Zen master told Onami, “Your name means Great Wave. Imagine you are a Great Wave. Visualize yourself sweeping your opponents aside like a powerful unstoppable wave.”


Onami did as the Zen Master said. He spent the days and nights visualising himself as the Great Wave, an earth shaking wave, big as the ocean itself, sweeping his opponent aside with great unstoppable power.

When the day of the competition came, Onami went into the ring of a public match with this mental movie of himself as the Great Wave. The moment the referee started the fight with the wave of the fan, Onami the Great Wave surged forward with tremendous power. He swept his opponent away with an unstoppable shove.

Visualisation is a powerful yet simple method to manage your feelings and your body for peak performance when facing acute challenges such as during a crucial contest, final examinations, or during public speaking.

For example, when making an inspirational speech, imagine in detail that you are Martin Luther King. When playing goalkeeper during a soccer match, imagine in detail that you are a cat. You can imagine anything you want as long as it gives you power.

Try it, you will be amazing.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

1-Minute Public Speaking Tip - Manage Your Nervousness


Pauses are as important as spoken words in our speeches, yet many of us hesitate to use it.

The main reason why we do not use enough pauses is because we tend to rush our speeches.

The reason for rushing is because we are anxious. All of us feel anxious. It is only human.

Fortunately, there are simple techniques we can use to manage our nervousness.

When you are at home, imagine you are at the meeting. Recall a situation where you feel particularly confident. It could be during a speech you made previously. Next imagine yourself stepping up to the rostrum.

At the imaginary rostrum, immerse yourself and enjoy this feeling of confidence and positiveness. Choose something to remind you, to feel this feeling. You may use this rostrum or anything else you prefer.

Repeat this process, a few times with different situations where you feel confident, until it is second nature.

So at the actual meeting when you step up to the rostrum, you automatically recall these positive experiences flooding you with feelings of confidence.

With this positive feeling welling up in you, launch into your speech opening with confidence and gusto!

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Story of Mohini the White Tiger


Mohini was a magnificent white tiger that lived in the US’s National Zoo in Washington DC in the 1960s. Mohini was a special gift presented to the US president Eisenhower, and the US people.

The Zoo started a major project to build a large enclosure for Mohini, their star attraction. The enclosure would simulate Mohini’s natural habitat as closely as possible. It would have many acres of lush forest with rolling hills and a large pond. It would be Mohini playground for her to stretch and express her natural self as one of nature’s most splendid and powerful creatures.


Meanwhile, while the large enclosure was being built, Mohini was kept in a 12 x 12 feet cage with iron bars and cement floor. Mohini would pace around ceaselessly in this cage while her eventual home was being built.

Finally, the enclosure was completed and the big day of releasing Mohini into it had arrived. A large excited crowd had gathered to witness this much awaited event.

To everyone’s surprise, instead of frolicking in joy in her new sprawling enclosure, Mohini headed straight for a perimeter wall at the enclosure’s edge.

At the wall, Mohini started to pace around in an imaginary cage, just like the way she had while waiting for the enclosure to be build.

Mohini stayed in this tiny corner at the wall for the remainder of her life, oblivious to the freedom and choices she had.

All of us live our life within a mental space created in our unconscious minds.

Is our mental space the tiny iron rod and cement cage like Mohini’s or is it the wide open, sprawling world of adventure and discovery?

Is our space as wide as the sky or are we just viewing it from the end of a straw?

Free your mind.

The Elephant and the Rope

This is a rather well known story worth retelling.

In Thailand, they have a simple way to keep the elephant – a huge animal, much larger than its keeper – docile and under control.

When the elephant was a baby, the keeper ties the baby elephant with a strong rope to a tree. Of course, the free spirited, uninhibited baby elephant will try to escape but it is held back by the rope. The baby elephant will try to break free, time and again, tucking hard at the rope that would not break.

After a while, the baby elephant is exhausted by its futile efforts. Its once free spirit is broken. It believes that there is no hope. It yields and just accepts its assigned position and situation.

This hopelessness and learned helplessness stay in the elephant’s unconscious mind even when it grew into an adult – a strong, huge, hulking animal.

Even when the adult elephant can snap the rope with just one casual tuck, it will make no such attempt. So strong is this limiting belief that has been etched in the unconscious mind of the elephant.

Are there any limiting beliefs holding us back like the elephant? Are there setbacks in our childhood that still have a hold on us like the baby elephant’s rope?

Does aggressive hot-housing in East Asian schools leave a trail of children who buckled under the crushing work load and pace, with lifelong self esteem problems?

Whenever you balked at a challenge, ask yourself if you are being held back by a limiting belief or assumption, carried over from a bad experience from your childhood or just one unfortunate episode from long ago.

Isn’t it time to break free of the imaginary bond of that limiting belief?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Real Secret to Connecting with People

To connect with people, we pay attention to their needs and think how our value can help them meet their needs or solve their problems.

So it is always about them (our audience’s needs and problems), never about us.
Many people can gain from the value we create and the benefits we offer. So our success does not depend on any one particular member of the audience.

On the other hand, each member of the audience depends wholly on the value we create and the benefits we offer vis-à-vis their problem or need.


It’s like the story of the boy and the starfish.

One day, a boy and his friend were walking along a sandy beach. Many starfish washed up by the waves were strewn across the sandy beach, dying. The starfish desperately need to return to the sea quickly or they will die. The boy, seeing the dire situation of the starfish, bended over, picked up one starfish and threw it back into the sea. His friend asked: “Why did you do that? What difference would it make? There are so many starfish lying on the beach.” To this the boy replied as he picked up another starfish, flinging it back into the sea, “I made a world of difference to that one.”

So focus on seeing where people need help with their problems or needs, while we create value. Focus on how the values we create can benefit our audience and solve their problems, thus making a positive difference for each individual.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

It’s About Them, Never About You

To be able to persuade, you need to have a connection between you and your audience.


Imagine a connection to be like a rope. You are holding one end and your audience holding the other end. The rope will be taut when the audience is pulling it towards them. The rope will be slack when the audience is not pulling or if they let go of the rope. It is futile to try to keep the rope taut by pushing it towards the audience.

The audience will pull the rope towards them when they know that we create value and can offer benefits to them i.e. we can solve their problem or meet their need.

So to make a connection, our part is to create value and focus on how our value can benefit our audience i.e. solve their problem or meet their need. The audience’s part is to want the benefits we can offer because it can solve their problem or meet their need i.e. the motivation to pull the rope to keep the connection taut.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Follow your Heart


You have heard the phrases “Trust your gut”, “Listen to your heart”.

Most of us are conditioned to dismiss what our gut tells us, and would rather “use our head” to think logically and rationally instead.

We are conditioned to think that "using our head" is a sign of maturity. Only the feeble minded, let their heart and gut "mislead" them.

It may surprise you to learn that modern neuroscience has discovered that following our gut or our heart may not be so far fetched or frivolous after all. Neuroscience has validated what the ancients from across the world had understood all along. Neuroscience has confirmed that the ancients’ belief that the heart and gut have a mind of their own is not a misunderstanding of the human anatomy. Trusting in our heart and gut has basis in how the human mind works.

First, let me ask “Where is our brain”?

Many would say that our brain sits on top of our shoulder, inside our skull.

While it is true that our brain has the highest concentration of nerve cells in our body, nerves cells are spread throughout our body. Besides our head brain, our intestines and stomach, and our heart also have high concentrations of nerve cells. Like our head brain, our gut and heart are truly equipped to think and feel.


Neuroscientists estimate that the nerve cells concentrated in our gut have about the same capacity as a cat’s brain. Hence, our “gut feel” has basis in neuroscience.

In 2002, there was a case of a heart transplant recipient reporting a new found love of certain kinds of music and food, and the memory of certain places which he had never experienced before, prior to the transplant.

The heart transplant recipient’s new tastes remained a mystery until it was revealed that the heart donor was a music and food connoisseur and adventurer, and had loved those music, food and places reported by the transplant recipient.

It seemed that the loves and passions of the heart donor were stored in his heart and they were now transferred to the transplant recipient along with the donated heart.

So listen to your heart, it truly has a mind in its own right. Give your heart a voice in your decision making that it deserves, as your cognitive brain in your head is not the only seat of intelligence that you have.

Following your heart is not a sign of feeble mindedness. Indeed, it is a mark of true wisdom.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Tap the Power of Whole Brain Thinking with Mind Movies


I was first introduced to mind mapping more than 15 years ago. It had been touted as a superior way to understand, organize, recall, and communicate information. Mind mapping supposedly uses more of our right, creative brain which organizes information in picture form. Mind mapping is said to be creative, fast and fun.


The traditional way of organizing information linearly in text and point form uses more of our left, logical brain. Bullet points are supposed to be dull, slow, and boring.

Attracted by the touted benefits of mind mapping, I have tried many times to use it over the years. I never did work well for me, especially in the recall of a complex network of ideas. I have difficulty recalling the connections between the parts when it is spread out across a sheet of paper with the key ideas radiating away from central core idea.


What works best for me is the story telling or mind movie method. The key ideas are organized as a story with the key ideas lined up in a story line. The information is stored in my mind as a movie and recall is accomplished by playing back the movie in our mind.

The mind movie method is a combination of the traditional linear, logical structure with the graphical appearance of mind mapping. It uses the whole brain. It has the logical flow of the left brain and the artistic, visual flair of the right brain.

I have used the mind movie method in public speaking with good results.

Friday, April 15, 2011

It Pays to be Honest in Celebrating Your Uniqueness

When you want to be persuasive, consider if it pays to face up to your flaws squarely up front. This way you gain the trust of your audience, and turn your weakness to your advantage.

The advertising campaign of the Volkswagen Beetle when it was first launched in the US was based on this principle. The Beetle was cheap, reliable and fuel efficient, but good looks was certainly not one of its selling points.


Instead of pushing the merits of its looks, or trying to divert attention to its mechanical merits, the Beetle’s marketeers flaunt its unconventional looks.

The company promoted the Beetle’s unique look with wacky tag lines like:

          “It will stay uglier longer”

          “Ugly is only skin deep”

Once the customers can get pass its looks, the Beetle’s mechanical and economic virtues sold by themselves. Before long, the Beetle became a much sought after car because of its distinctive look, and remained so till today.

I can think of another example, again from the automotive industry.


The tiny Morris Mini was created at a time when good sized cars with spacious, roomy cabins were the norm.

Instead of competing with the “normal” cars on size, the Mini touted its minuscule size as a virtue.

Like the Beetle, the Mini turned its biggest shortcoming into its selling point, was a sensational success, and remained a trendsetter till this day.

The Beetle and Mini became cultural icons because they dared to celebrate their uniqueness instead of cowering in self doubt.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ask for a Favour from a Stranger!


How can you turn around someone who doesn’t like you now? Or, how can you break the ice with someone who is a stranger?

You may want to try the great US inventor, diplomat and statesman Benjamin Franklin’s way.

There was an opposition member in the Pennsylvanian legislature whom Benjamin Franklin needed help from but the gentleman was cool, if not hostile, towards him.

Human instinct would tell us not to approach the person for fear of rejection. But not Ben Franklin who knew the ways of humans well. What did Ben Franklin do?

Ben Franklin found out that the gentleman who was an ardent fan and expert on a certain authour, had a rare and precious book by that authour.

What Ben Franklin did was counter-intuitive.

Ben Franklin approached the gentleman and asked to borrow his precious book by the authour. The gentleman though surprised by Ben Franklin’s request and was hesitant at first, eventually relented because gentlemanly politeness required him to accede to Ben Franklin’s request.

Slowly but surely a friendship developed between the gentleman and Ben Franklin, all because Ben Franklin had the audacity to ask his rival for a big favour.

How does this work?

It is based on the principle that the mind and body are one.

When the gentleman was initially forced to be nice to Ben Franklin, his mind had to follow; otherwise it will be very uncomfortable for him. By lending his precious book to Ben Franklin, the gentleman unconsciously had to convince himself that Ben Franklin was a good man worthy of such a big favour from him. In this way, the gentleman achieved congruence in mind and body.

Once the ice was broken, Ben Franklin had the opening to build a long and fruitful relationship with his rival.

Had the gentleman rejected Ben Franklin’s request, the approach would not have worked. So, this approach is a risky one but the payoffs can be big, if it succeeds.

So ask a favour from someone who doesn’t like you or who is a stranger, and he may become your best friend.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Watch Your Language - Cut the Word "Don't" from Your Vocabulary


Be careful with the word “Don’t”. It can unintentionally create the opposite effect on your audience from what you wanted to convey.

Have you ever wondered why when people are asked NOT to do something, they often end up doing exactly that?. Often it is because of the word “Don’t”.

You see, the word “Don’t” cannot be pictured in the mind. This causes the mind to try and make sense of the sentence by focusing on the words that follow the word “Don’t”. The mind focuses on things that it can picture. The result? More often than not, the word “Don’t” is ignored and your audience gets the exact opposite of your intended message.

“Don’t feel you have to make a decision now” is understood as “You have to make a decision now”.

“Don’t worry” is understood as “Worry”.

“Don’t get angry with me” is understood as “Get angry with me”.

“Don’t be sad” is understood as “Be sad”.

“Don’t be shy” becomes “Be shy”.


When children are told “Don’t run along the corridor”. They understand as it as “Run along the corridor” to the chagrin of their parents or teachers.

So what is the solution? Use positive language patterns that state clearly what you are asking for.

Instead of “Don’t worry” say “Be calm”.

Instead of “Don’t run” say “Walk”.

Instead of "Don't be sad" say "Be happy".

Of course, there are those who are well aware of this “weakness” in the workings of the human mind and deliberately use it to gain an advantage.

“Don’t take me to dinner, if you don’t want to” is a sly way of demanding the listener to “Take me to dinner, you want to".

Don’t miss me by too much” is a manipulative instruction to the listener to “Miss me by much”.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Interview Questions and Answers


What do employers look for in a potential employee? According to Thomas Freese in his book Sell Yourself First, they are looking for the person from among their pool of applicants, who has the most of the following qualities:

• Knowledgeable, experienced, savvy

• Likable, easy to get along with

• Organisation-focused, not self-serving

• Able to blend in easily with the existing organisational culture

• Quick learner with short ramp up time

• Able to offer new perspectives and fresh ideas

• Independent, motivated, hard worker

• Track record of success, combined with a dose of humility

• Positive attitude and commitment to excellence

• Have solid references.

The interviewers will ask questions to tease out these qualities, or the lack of it, from the interviewees.

The savvy interviewee would look for opportunities that the questions present to demonstrate that she has these desired qualities.

As Stephen Covey said, “If I am given 1 hour to chop down a tree, I will spend 50 minutes sharpening my axe.” So, the secret to interview success is to prepare well before meeting the interviewers.

So think up possible questions the interviewers might ask, if they want to check if you have the desired qualities.  Write out your answers to the possible questions.  Rehearse the answers. There is no need to memorise the answers but do rehearse it so that you will come across fluent, articulate, and confident. Find a friend to conduct a mock interview with you and give you feedback on your answers, and your performance.

So here are some possible questions, and the suggested approach to answering the questions based on Wayne D. Ford’s book The Accelerated Job Search. (You may not agree with all the suggestions; that’s perfectly fine. Write up your own answers as you see fit. The main point is to be well prepared with answers to possible questions that will help you stand above the other candidates.)

Desired Quality - Knowledgeable, Experienced, Savvy

Tell me about yourself.

Prepare a short statement about yourself before presenting yourself at the interview. Be careful that it does not sound rehearsed. Talk about things you have done, and jobs you have held that relate to the position you are interviewing for. Start with the item farthest back in time and work up to the present. Limit to 3 items, otherwise it will come across as rambling.

What experience do you have in this field?

Speak about specifics that relate to the position you are applying for. If you do not have specific experience, get as close as you can.

What do you know about this organization?

This question is one reason to do some research on the organization before the interview. Know their vision and mission. Find out where they have been, and where they are going. What are the current issues, and who are the key personalities?

Why do you think you would do well at this job?

Give several reasons and include skills, experience and interest.

What have you done to improve your knowledge in the last year?

Try to include improvement activities that relate to the job. A wide variety of activities can be mentioned as positive self-improvement. Have some good ones handy to mention.

Tell me about a time when you helped resolve a dispute between others.

Pick a specific incident. Concentrate on your problem solving technique, and not the dispute you settled.

Have you ever had to fire anyone? How did you feel about that?

This is serious. Do not make light of it or in any way seem like you like to fire people. At the same time, you have what it takes to do the right thing. When it comes to the organization versus the individual who has created a harmful situation, you will protect the organization. Remember firing is not the same as layoff or reduction in force.

Desired Quality - Likable, easy to get along with

What do co-workers say about you?

Be prepared with a quote or two from co-workers. Either a specific statement or a paraphrase. Joe, a co-worker at Smith Company, always said I was the most dedicated professional he had ever known. It is as powerful as Joe having said it at the interview herself.

Are you a team player?

Of course, you are a team player. Be sure to have examples ready. Specifics that show you often perform for the good of the team rather than for yourself are good evidence of your team attitude. Do not brag, just say it in a matter-of-fact tone. This is a key point.

What irritates you about co-workers?

This is a trick question. Think real hard but fail to come up with anything that irritates you. A short statement that you seem to get along with folks is great.

Tell me about a problem you had with a supervisor?

Biggest trap of all. This is a test to see if you will speak ill of your boss. If you fall for it and tell about a problem with a former boss, you may well blow the interview right there. Stay positive and develop a poor memory about any trouble with a supervisor.

What position do you prefer on a team working on a project?

Be honest. If you are comfortable in different roles, point that out.

 Desired Quality - Organisation-focused, not self-serving

Why do you want to work for this organization?

This may take some thought and certainly, should be based on the research you have done on the organization. Sincerity is extremely important here, and will easily be sensed. Relate it to your long-term career goals.

How long would you expect to work for us if hired?

Specifics here are not good. Something like this should work: I’d like it to be a long time. Or, as long as we both feel I’m doing a good job.

What is your philosophy towards work?

The interviewer is not looking for a long or flowery dissertation here. Do you have strong feelings that the job gets done? Yes. That’s the type of answer that works best here. Short and positive, showing a benefit to the organization.

If you had enough money to retire right now, would you?

Answer yes, if you would. But since you need to work, this is the type of work you prefer. Do not say yes if you do not mean it.

What is more important to you: the money or the work?

Money is always important, but the work is the most important. There is no better answer.

Are you willing to put the interests of the organization ahead of your own?

This is a straight loyalty and dedication question. Do not worry about the deep ethical and philosophical implications. Just say yes.

Describe your work ethic.

Emphasize benefits to the organization. Things like, determination to get the job done and work hard but enjoy your work are good.

Explain how you would be an asset to this organization.

You should be anxious for this question. It gives you a chance to highlight your best points as they relate to the position being discussed. Give a little advance thought to this relationship.

Tell me about your dream job.

Stay away from a specific job. You cannot win. If you say the job you are contending for is it, you strain credibility. If you say another job is it, you plant the suspicion that you will be dissatisfied with this position, if hired. The best is to stay generic and say something like: A job where I love the work, like the people, can contribute and can’t wait to get to work.

Do your skills match this job or another job more closely?

Probably this one. Do not give fuel to the suspicion that you may want another job more than this one.

Why should we hire you?

Point out how your assets meet what the organization needs. Do not mention any other candidates to make a comparison.

Are you applying for other jobs?

Be honest but do not spend a lot of time in this area. Keep the focus on this job and what you can do for this organization. Anything else is a distraction. If you must mention other jobs, bring up only jobs that are consistent with why you are changing jobs and applying for this one. Congruence is the key. Any inconsistencies will be perceived as lack of honestly.

Desired Quality - Able to blend in easily with the existing organisational culture

Describe your management style.

Find out the organisational culture before the interview. Try to avoid labels. Some of the more common labels, like progressive, salesman or consensus, can have several meanings or descriptions depending on which management expert you listen to. The situational style is safe, because it says you will manage according to the situation, instead of one size fits all.

What qualities do you look for in a boss?

Be generic and positive. Safe qualities are knowledgeable, a sense of humor, fair, loyal to subordinates, and holder of high standards. All bosses think they have these traits.

What kind of person would you refuse to work with?

Mention only big issues. Minor objections will label you as a whiner. It would take disloyalty to the organization, violence or lawbreaking to get you to object.

What has disappointed you about a job?

Don’t get trivial or negative. Safe areas are few but can include: Not enough of a challenge. You were laid off in a reduction. Company did not win a contract, which would have given you more responsibility.

Would you be willing to relocate, if required?

You should be clear on this with your family prior to the interview if you think there is a chance it may come up. Do not say yes just to get the job if the real answer is no. This can create a lot of problems later on in your career. Be honest at this point and save yourself future grief.

 Desired Quality - Quick learner, with short ramp up time

How do you propose to compensate for your lack of experience?

First, if you have experience that the interviewer does not know about, bring that up: Then, point out (if true) that you are a hard working quick learner.

 Desired Quality - Able to offer new perspectives and fresh ideas

Tell me about a suggestion you have made.

Have a good one ready. Be sure and use a suggestion that was accepted and was then considered successful. One related to the type of work applied for is a real plus.

 Desired Quality - Independent, motivated, hard worker

Do you have any questions for me?

This is often the last question at the end of the interview. This is an opportunity to leave the interviewers with a good feeling about you. This could be the only thing they remember. So always have some questions prepared. To say you have no questions could throw you back into the faceless mass of candidates who also turned up in front of the panel.

You could ask where you will be an asset to the organization. What type of projects do they think you will be able to assist on? For example, ask, “If I am successful in my application, what are the likely areas of the project that I'll be looking into?”

Ask how soon will you be able to be productive? Hint that you are confident without coming across as presumptuous. Show that you can’t wait to start work by asking, “If I am successful in my application, when will I start work?"

 Desired Quality - Has a track record of success, combined with a dose of humility

What have you learned from mistakes on the job?

Come up with something, because to say you never made a mistake would strain credibility. Talk about a specific, well intentioned mistake with a positive lesson learned.

For example, talk about how you were working too far ahead of colleagues on a project, and thus threw coordination off. You’ve learnt to be more attentive to the challenges your colleagues face.

Do you consider yourself successful?

You should always answer yes, and briefly explain why. A good explanation is that you have set goals, and you have met some and are on track to achieve the others.

What kind of salary do you need?

A loaded question. A nasty little game that you will probably lose if you answer first. So, do not answer it. Instead, say something like, That’s a tough question. Can you tell me the range for this position? In most cases, the interviewer, taken off guard, will tell you. If not, say that it can depend on the details of the job. Then give a wide range.

 Desired Quality - Positive attitude and commitment to excellence

What is your greatest strength?

Numerous answers are good, just stay positive. A few good examples: Your ability to prioritize, Your problem-solving skills, Your ability to work under pressure, your ability to focus on projects, Your professional expertise, your leadership skills, your positive attitude.

Tell me about your ability to work under pressure.

You may say that you thrive under certain types of pressure. Give an example that relates to the type of position applied for.

What would your previous supervisor say your strongest point is?

There are numerous good possibilities: Loyalty, Energy, Positive attitude, Leadership, Team player, Expertise, Initiative, Patience, Hard work, Creativity, Problem solver

What motivates you to do your best on the job?

This is a personal trait that only you can say, but good examples are: Challenge, Achievement, Recognition.

What has been your biggest professional disappointment?

Be sure that you refer to something that was beyond your control. Show acceptance, and no negative feelings. For example, you are retrenched from a job you loved and in which you have invested a substantial part of your working life because your company closed down.

Tell me about the most fun you have had on the job.

Talk about having fun by accomplishing something for the organization.

How would you know you were successful on this job?

Several ways are good measures: You set high standards for yourself and meet them. Your outcomes are a success.Your boss tell you that you are successful.

Why did you leave your last job?

Stay positive regardless of the circumstances. Never refer to a major problem with management and never speak ill of supervisors, co-workers or the organization. If you do, you will be the one looking bad. Keep smiling and talk about leaving for a positive reason such as an opportunity, a chance to do something special or other forward-looking reasons. For example, you wanted to move from a back end desk job to a front end operations job.

Have you ever been asked to leave a position?

If you have not, say no. If you have, be honest, brief and avoid saying negative things about the people or organization involved.

Are you willing to work overtime? Nights? Weekends?

This is up to you. Be totally honest.

Do you have any blind spots?

Trick question. If you know about blind spots, they are no longer blind spots. Do not reveal any personal areas of concern here. Let them do their own discovery on your bad points. Do not hand it to them.

If you were hiring a person for this job, what would you look for?

Be careful to mention traits that are needed and that you have.

Do you think you are overqualified for this position?

Regardless of your qualifications, state that you are very well qualified for the position.

 Desired Quality - Have solid references.

Do you know anyone who works for us?

Be aware of the policy on relatives working for the organization. This can affect your answer even though they asked about friends not relatives. Be careful to mention a friend only if they are well thought of.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Keys to Effective Presentation


The acronym CCTV COP is a useful way to remember Kevin Hogan’s seven keys of effective presentation.

C – Client Centered. Keep the presentation focused on what’s in it for the audience. What will he gain? How will he benefit?

C – Concise. Be ready to deliver your complete presentation in a 30-second elevator ride, or in 5 minutes.

T – Tie downs. Use tie downs to get commitment from your audience. One form of tie downs is to end the sentence with phrases like “don’t you?”, “isn’t it?”, “won’t you?”, “can’t you?”, “aren’t they?” A tie down is a question that requires a “yes” or “no” answer. Line up a series of tie down questions to get “yes” answers leading towards your objective. Use tie downs sparingly as otherwise your audience may feel manipulated.

V – Visualise. Help your audience visualise what his life would be like when he agrees to your proposal. Also help him visualise what it would be like to be without your proposal. Present the costs and benefits of your proposal as a vivid movie for your audience.


C – Congruent. Make your words match your tone of voice and your body language. When words and your non-verbal cues don’t match, you lose the trust of your audience.

O – Objective. Know your objective, and make it known to your audience. Catch your audience’s attention by letting them know how the objective will benefit them.

P – Presupposition. In your presentation, use phrases that presupposes what you want. For example, if you ask your client “Before we finalize the contract, would you like something to drink?” you presupposed that your client is ready to sign the contract. Again, use presuppositions sparingly as otherwise the client may feel manipulated.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Mehrabian’s 7% - 38% - 55% Rule


We often heard it been said that, “its not what we say, but how we say it that makes all the difference”. We all intuitively know this from our experience. Indeed, this phenomenon is well established by research.

Studies by professor Albert Mehrabian of UCLA had found that only 7% of the meaning, attitude, and intent of our message is conveyed by our words. The remaining 93% of the meaning, attitude, and intent of our message is conveyed by our tone of voice, and by our body language (like facial expressions, hand gestures, posture, and even the way we breathe).


According to Mehrabian’s research, 7% of what we mean to convey is carried by our words. 38% is carried by the tone of our voice, and 55% is carried by our body language.

Put another way, our non-verbal communication is 10 times more important than words in personal communications.

So to persuade with impact, it is vital to pay attention to our tone of voice, and our body language. Otherwise, we would be missing out on 93% of our message.

Pay more attention to your non-verbal communication, and you won’t need to say “that’s not what I mean” another time.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Power Persuaders have the 3-Wins Mindset


The 3-wins power persuader seeks to get a win for self, the other person, and the larger group that both belong to.

In the context of an office, a 3-wins result would be a benefit for yourself, your colleague, and your company.

In the context of a company, a 3-wins outcome would be gains for the company, the customer, and the world in which they both exist.

In the context of a family, a 3-wins result would be a happy outcome for yourself, a family member, and the entire family (and possibly also the extended family).

3-wins is not just an ideal. 3-wins is a mindset that stretches our imagination. It certainty is not unattainable – it just forces us to be creative.

If our idea meets the 3-wins criteria, it would be naturally persuasive. A 3-wins idea sells itself, and doesn’t need much persuading.

Being prepared to have “no deal” is also part of the 3-wins mindset. If you and the other person are to win at the expense of the larger group, then it is better to have “no deal”. If you and the company are to win at the expense of a colleague, then it is also “no deal”.

Master Your Unconscious Mind to be a Master Persuader


Our mind is made up of two parts, namely, our conscious mind and our unconscious mind.

Our conscious mind has a very small capacity of only 7 bits of information at any moment. When we set an objective, we are using our conscious mind.

Our unconscious mind is the store house of our memories, beliefs, values, emotions, and attitudes. Everything that had ever happened to us, everything that we have seen, heard, or thought about is stored here. Compared to our conscious mind, our unconscious mind is infinite in size.

If our conscious mind is like an ant in size, then our unconscious mind is like an elephant. (Vince Poscente used this metaphor in his book The Ant and the Elephant, and in his trainings.)

Imagine an ant, riding on the back of an elephant. It doesn’t matter where the ant wants to go, it would not get there, if the elephant is not going the same way. Let’s say the ant wants to go to the east. No matter how hard and fast the ant walks, if the elephant is walking to the west, the ant will only end up further from his destination.

So, if we want to persuade with power, our unconscious mind must be filled with thoughts associated with passion, faith, and vision. We will not be persuasive, if our unconscious mind is filled with negative thoughts associated with apathy, fear, and hopelessness.

When our words and actions are congruent with our inner world, we will be more persuasive as we are more authentic, credible, and charismatic.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Laws of Persuasion


The acronym SCRAPE CFC can help us remember Kevin Hogan’s nine Laws of Persuasion. (CFC or chlorofluorocarbon widely used in refrigerators and aerosols, is now phased out because it deletes the ozone.) Remembering to use these Laws in our communications makes us more persuasive.

S – Law of Scarcity. People find things that are limited in supply more desirable.

C – Law of Contrast. People tend to accept the little extras throw in after the main deal as the add-ons look digestible compared to the main course.

R – Law of Reciprocity. People tend to agree to a request, if they have received a benefit from you before.

A – Law of Association. People tend to think better of people or things associated with people or things they like, respect, or trust.

P – Law of Power. People tend to agree with people with perceived power or authority.

E – Law of Expectancy. People tend to do what the person they like, respect, or trust expects them to do.


C – Law of Consistency. Once people committed themselves verbally or in writing, they tend to stick to it.

F – Law of Friendship. People usually oblige the requests of their friends.

C – Law of Conformity. People are more inclined to things which they see many other people have or do.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Know Who You Are Trying to Persuade


To be able to persuade a person, we need to know what would move the person. The acronym BP FIRE can help us remember the aspects that we need to actively peel our ears to – those elements that may provide us the necessary clues to the client’s hot buttons.

B – Behavior. What is the client doing or not doing?

P – Perspectives. What are the client’s beliefs, attitude and outlook?

F – Feelings. What emotion is the client feeling?

I – Intention. What is the client intending to do?

R – Resources. What internal and external resources do the client have or lack?

E – Experience. What is the client experiencing? What is happening to the client?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

To Be Persuasive, We Must First Know What We Want

When it comes to persuasion, there are two kinds of people.


The first kind reacts to what happens to them. In the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality types, they are known as the Perceivers. Perceivers are sometimes described as thermometers. As you know, thermometers merely react to the temperature around them. The mercury goes up when the heat is up, down when it cools down outside. They have no influence on their environment. Perceivers or thermometers go with the flow, and can appear reactive and disorganised.


The second kind, make things happen instead of let things happen to them. In the MBTI personality types, they are the Judgers. They decide what they want happen, and then take action to make it happen the way they want it. Judgers are sometimes described as thermostats. Thermostats set and change the temperature around them. Thermostats or judgers prefer structure and order in their lives, and can appear proactive and methodical.

Since to persuade is to get people to follow our way of thinking, one has to be a judger or a thermostat to start with. It is a pre-requisite.

Being a thermometer or perceiver will not help one to be persuasive at all. How can we get people to follow us, if we have not even decided where we want to go?

To be persuasive we have to make a choice regarding what we want, and decide to take action.

As Stephen Covey said, between what happened to us and how we respond is a space where we can choose our response. We can either let the situation dictate our reaction, like thermometers, or we can make a conscious choice as to what we want and what we want to do to get it, like thermostats.

The attitude of a persuasive person is the attitude of the thermostat.

The first step to be persuasive is to know what we want the other person to agree on.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Empathic Listening or the Art of Giving Psychological Hugs


When we listen empathetically, we are giving the speaker a psychological hug.  To listen empathetically, we:

1. Give the speaker undivided attention. Be present. Multitasking is a big conversation killer and causes us to miss important parts of what was said.

2. Allow the speaker to speak free of interruptions.

3. Are non-judgmental. We do not criticize, teach or tell the speaker what to do.

4. Don’t minimize or trivialize the speaker’s issues. Avoid phrases like “Its not that bad” “Its ok” “It’ll be fine” “Its no big deal”

5. Don’t change subjects. It shows that either you are not interested or you are not paying attention.

6. Don’t ask probing questions as if to interrogate the speaker. You seek to understand, not to satisfy your curiosity.

7. Appreciate the emotions behind the words. Is the speaker angry, scared, hurt, confused, discouraged, frustrated or resentful?

8. Resist the urge to reply or comment merely to keep the words flowing. Give the speaker some quiet after he has vented. Allow time for insights to surface. Give the speaker time to access his unconscious mind.

9. Assure our understanding and care. Ask clarifying questions, and restate what we perceive the speaker to be saying, like a mirror.

10. Establish and maintain rapport with the speaker. Neuro-linguistic programming has a set of rapport tools that are useful for emphatic listening.

Being understood, validated, and appreciated are basic human needs. Empathic listening meets these needs especially when the speaker is in distress.

Emphatic listening heals because it is like giving the speaker a psychological hug.

A friend in need is a friend indeed.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Empathic Listening - Hearing with the Heart

Stephen Covey identified 5 levels of listening.

Level 1 - Ignoring – basically, not listening at all.

Level 2 - Pretending – same as not listening but dressed up with head nods, and lip service like “uh-huhs”, “oh yeahs”, “I see”, and such.

Level 3 - Selective Listening - hearing only parts of was said.

Level 4 - Attentive Listening - paying attention only to the words being said.


Level 5 - Empathic Listening – The highest form of listening and the most healing. Empathetic listening uses all our senses, of hearing, seeing, feeling, and noticing non-verbal cues to understand the speaker’s feelings, in addition to his ideas. (Emphatic listening is also called active listening or reflective listening.) Emphatic listening is like hearing with the heart.

In level 1 to 4, the listener is self centred. They are busy forming and rehearsing their reply while the other person is speaking. The listener remains in her map of the world. There is little empathy with the speaker.


In level 5, the listener is other centred i.e. focused on the other person. In empathic listening, the listener intends to understand the other person, his feelings, emotions, and the essence of the other person’s issues. The listener aims to get inside the other person's frame of reference, understanding their map of the world.

Being understood, validated, and appreciated are basic human needs. Empathic listening meets these needs, especially when the speaker is in distress.


Emphatic listening is a powerful trust and relationship building skill (that few have mastered) because a friend in need is a friend indeed.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Live Your Dreams

Forrest Gump said that life is like a box of chocolates. Shakespeare said life is like theatre. My son said it’s more like a roller coaster ride.


I say life is like climbing a long flight of stairs.


Some twenty years ago, I was at the 100-storey World Trade Centre Twin Towers in New York City. Like any other tourist, I was excited about going up to the viewing deck on the 80th floor. From there we can look down on the whole of New York City below.

Unfortunately, the lift to the viewing deck broke down that day and had to be closed for servicing. Nevertheless, I was undeterred and decided to walk up the daunting 80 floors to the viewing deck.

So I trudged up one step at a time, one floor at a time with this heavy knapsack on my back.

After 20 minutes I reached the lobby on the 20th floor. Here there were many fine restaurants, shops, and there were also public lockers for people to lock their stuff away for a day.

I thought to myself, “Hmm…, I’ve got an idea….” I would lock my knapsack on the 20th floor, and climb up to the 80th floor without the heavy knapsack. After I’ve seen the view from the 80th floor, I would come back down to the 20th floor, and collect my knapsack. That way the climb to the 80th floor would be much easier, and more enjoyable.

“So smart”, I said to myself with a smirk.

Wow… without the heavy knapsack weighing me down, I felt so relieved. So I bounced and sprung up the steps towards the 80th floor cheerfully.

With much effort, I reached the 40th floor. My thighs were numb, my calves were burning, and my feet were crying for mercy. I started to wonder why I’ve decided to climb the stairs. Why couldn’t I just wait a little while for the lift to be serviced or why couldn’t I just go somewhere else, and come back on another day? After all, there was so much to do and see in New York City.

Why? Why? Why?

With these negative thoughts in my mind I trudged up the steps. Agonising all the way, all the time thinking what a fool I was.

I was mentally and physically exhausted when I reached the 60th floor. My head was spinning, my mind blank, and I was completely drained.

At the 60th floor, I told myself, “Look, you have come so far, there’s no point beating yourself up. Why not just enjoy the remaining 20 floors?”

When I finally reached the 80th floor, I was so happy! There it was, in front of me was the entrance to the viewing deck of the tallest building in the world! Even after climbing 80 floors, I still walked with a spring and wore a big smile on my face.

All the aches and pains miraculously disappeared!

As I approached the entrance, a thought slowly crept into my mind. My smile slowly turned into a deep frown… I dug my hands into my pockets, my shirt, my pants, front pocket, back pocket, where is my ticket? I stopped dead in my tracks, and frantically searched my empty pockets for several minutes.

It slowly dawned on me that the ticket was in my knapsack! I had left the ticket in my knapsack which I locked in the locker on the 20th floor!!!

Now at the entrance of the viewing deck, I slowly realised the implication of my folly. Having struggled all the way up the 80 floors to the entrance of the viewing deck, I am going to miss the view because I had left my ticket on the 20th floor!

How sad is that!

Isn’t my stairs journey a lot like life’s journey?

When we were young we carry a knapsack budging with dreams and aspirations.

At age 20, we put our dreams aside, and seek happiness by chasing after money, fame and power.

At age 80, when happiness still eludes us, we look back and it dawns on us that the key to our happiness lies in the dreams that we left behind at age 20. Our dreams are still in the knapsack locked on the 20th floor.

I am sure that you do not want to be like me at the World Trade Centre, leaving your dreams locked away at age 20?

My dear friends open your knapsack, unpack your dreams. Live your dreams. Dreams are the keys to your happiness.

Follow your bliss, and dare to dream. Because only when you live your dreams, will you have no regrets when you are 80!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Own Your Success Story


Hi, I am Tony,

I am Asia’s only life coach helping people achieve success by showing them how to write their success stories.

Psychologists found that even though the life stories of all successful people are unique, they all follow the same pattern. Their live stories pass through the same stages – they have the same road map to success. The pattern is the same whether the success story is in Asia or in the US, in Singapore today, or in ancient China. It is in our DNA.

The reason why most people are unsuccessful is because they are not aware of this story pattern - that we have this in our DNA. Fortunately, because it is already in us, anyone can learn this success pattern in a day, and benefit for a life time.

What I do is to make people aware of this powerful story pattern that is already in our DNA.

Once you have your own life story in your hands, the qualities of successful people like self awareness, proactivity, persistence, and emotional intelligence come to you naturally.

That is why I call myself a Treasure Hunter – I help people uncover their hidden gifts through story writing.

I have half-day, one-day and two-day workshops to show you the basic story pattern, and guide you through crafting your stories like your financial freedom story, personal relationship story, career story, and so on.

I work with small groups, and also on an one-to-one basis.

Clicking on this link itrustican.blogspot.com will take you to my website which has more information on my unique programme.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Presence, Charisma, and Charm

There are 3 levels of presence.


At level 1 presence, we give out very little energy. Energy flows from others to us. We sap energy from others. We are withdrawn like a tortoise retreated into its shell. When we are at level 1 presence, people find interacting with us draining, and may avoid us or simply leave us alone. Examples of level 1 presence behaviours are:

• Withdrawing from people, feelings, ideas, challenges
• People leave you alone, and you are comfortable with that
• People do not notice you
• You are not attentive to your surroundings
• You are not alert to what is happening around you
• You use cloths to hide from attention – you use cloths like the way a tortoise use its shell
• Your audience find interacting with you draining
• You don’t speak, or rather not speak
• Sometimes you wish you could just disappear.


At level 3 presence, we give out a lot of energy but block energy from others. We broadcast about ourselves to unspecified audiences, but do not listen. We try to perform and impress rather than communicate. At level 3 presence, we are hungry for attention – peacocking behaviour. At level 3, we try to influence the audience through pressure or force. Examples of level 3 presence behaviours are:

• You wear cloths that scream loudly for attention - you use cloths like the way a peacock uses its feathers
• You don't pay attention to your audience - it's all about you
• You dominate discussions even when you have little knowledge of the topic
• You dominate discussions even when you heard only a fragment of the discussion
• Always feel internal pressure to inject life into any party or meeting
• You are afraid that people may leave you alone, hence the urge to “perform”
• Your audience eventually find interacting with you tiresome
• You don’t listen when others speak, you are only waiting for your turn to speak

There is little connection between you and your audience. People may initially be impressed by your performance but they will tire after a while from the lack of connection. The audience tend to eventually withdraw from people with level 3 presence, hence you tend to go searching for new audiences or pontificate to a captive audience.


At level 2 presence, we are connected with the other – we give and receive energy. We energized others and are energized by them at the same time. The energy flow is 2 way. At level 2 presence, the connection is transformational. Your energy influences your audience and your audience’s energy influences you. Your audience find interacting with you uplifting. Examples of level 2 presence behaviours are:

• You are aware of how your verbal and non-verbal communication is affecting your audience
• You notice details in your audience – what their eyes, faces, gestures, breathing are saying
• You are able to sense your audience’s moods, concerns, hot buttons
• You listen actively and is non-judgmental

We are all born with level 2 presence, that’s why babies and toddlers are always so charming and attractive. We later developed preferences for one of the 3 levels of presence. Some of us become habitually at level 1 or level 3 presence, and lose our baby charm and attractiveness.

What’s the point of knowing all these? Because life’s much more meaningful and rewarding for those who “get it” i.e. operate at level 2 presence.

When we are aware of what level of presence we are at, we will know why we are connecting with our audience, or not. If we are at level 1 or 3, we need to shift to level 2.

We can use the set of rapport tools in Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) to help us connect with our audience at level 2.

We are all born with level 2 presence, and so charisma and charm are our birth right.

The first step to recover our level 2 presence is simply by being conscious of what level of presence we are at. From level 1 or 3, we can use NLP rapport tools to move to level 2 presence.

Life’s like that.

Do You Know Where You Are Going To?


Crafting and having our own life story allows us a certain detachment from the noise in our environment. We live life as if we are at a window seat on a train journey. Our life story is the train journey – the route and destination are clear.

As we are on our journey, we will see different landscape and scenery where our train passes. Some of these scenes are pleasant and delightful. Other scenes can be sad, even terrifying.

When we have our story in our minds, we are able to view these scenes with a certain detachment and serenity. We stay on our train and do not get side tracked or confused by the temptations or ordeals we meet along the way.

We will be better able to withstand any trials, and enjoy the journey when we have a clear vision of our destination and journey.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

What We Think, We Become


Let me share with you another parable about our unconscious mind.

A Cherokee grandpa was sharing with his grandson about life. "A fight is always raging inside my mind," he told the boy.

"Two wolves are locked in a terrible struggle, tearing at each other’s throat.”

“One is the bad wolf - he is anger, envy, regret, greed, arrogance, resentment, jealousy, vengeance, deceit, pessimism, and unthankfulness."

"The other is the good wolf - he is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, generosity, compassion, strength, integrity, gratitude, optimism, and faith.”

“The same fight is also always going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."

The grandson wondered for a moment and then asked his grandpa, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee replied, "The one you feed."

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "A man is what he thinks about all day long."

When we fill our minds with negative thoughts, we are feeding our “bad wolf” and starving our “good wolf”.

If we want positive results, we must feed our “good wolf” by thinking positive thoughts.

Positive or negative thoughts – the choice is entirely ours. So choose your thoughts wisely – refuse to feed the big “bad wolf”.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Our Conscious and Unconscious Mind

Our mind consists of two distinct parts – our conscious and unconscious.

Our conscious mind houses our critical, analytical thoughts. It can hold only 7 chunks of information at any moment.

Our unconscious mind houses our beliefs, values, attitudes, emotions and memories, and controls our vital body functions. Our unconscious mind can hold an infinite amount of information.


Based on the amount of information it can hold, our conscious mind is like an "ant" while our unconscious mind is like an “elephant”. Vince Poscente uses this metaphor in his book The Ant and the Elephant, and in his trainings.

While we are aware of our conscious mind which is but a tiny ant, most of us are oblivious to our unconscious mind though it is big as an elephant.

Imagine a tiny ant on the back of a massive elephant. It doesn’t matter how hard the ant crawls east, if the elephant he rides on walks in the opposite direction, the ant will end up even farther west than his starting point.

Likewise, we will find ourselves further from our goals if our conscious and unconscious minds move in different directions.

Fortunately, we have tools that help us align our elephant with the intentions of our ant.

The Hero’s Journey pattern is a powerful tool that will help your ant tame your elephant.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Hero's Journey - Am I a Hero?

What does it mean to be a "hero”?

What must one do to be a “hero”?

Can only certain people be “heroes”?

Why would anyone want to be a “hero”?

Is every one a hero-in-the-making, including you and I?

How do we find the “hero” in us?

After studying the myths and stories of cultures across the world and through the ages, Joseph Campbell concluded that no matter which culture and what era, the human race shares similar ideas about what is a hero.

Joseph Campbell’s answer to the question: “What is a hero?” is:

“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.”

Many shared similar ideas about what is a hero:

Aristotle – “Where your talents and the needs of the world cross, lies your calling.”

Rose Resnick - “I’ve learned that the happiest people are those who lose themselves in something bigger.”

Mahatma Ghandi - “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

Oprah Winfrey - “The best way to succeed is to discover what you love and then find a way to offer it to others in the form of service.”

Anonymous - “The best use of our life is to so live our life that the use of our life outlives our own lives.”

Henry Ford – “Wealth, like happiness, is never attained when sought after directly. It comes as a by-product of providing a useful service.”

Jim Rohn – “Whoever renders service to many puts himself in line for greatness - great wealth, great return, great satisfaction, great reputation, and great joy.”

Rabindranath Tagore – “I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger – “Help others and give something back. I guarantee you will discover that while public service improves the lives and the world around you, its greatest reward is the enrichment and new meaning it will bring your own life.”

Anthony Robbins – “Only those who have learned the power of sincere and selfless contribution experience life's deepest joy: true fulfilment.”



A non-hero is preoccupied with questions of identity, self esteem and self image.

Who am I? How do I feel?

How do I look to others? What must I do to look better to others?

To non-heroes the answers lay in the external visible trappings of success. They become self indulgent and are obsessed with the trendiest fashion, the swankiest homes, the flashiest cars, the most exquisite dining, the fanciest vacations, the most glamorous companions, and other indulgences.

A hero who has embarked on his Hero’s Journey to give his life to something bigger than himself, asks:

 How do others see themselves? What can I do to help them see their best self?


The hero identifies his special gifts, develops them to the genius level, and applies them as the Elixir in his community’s service.

The Hero’s Journey does not end with success at securing his rewards. A hero goes beyond success and seeks significance through service.

Are you a hero? The answer is a resounding YES! You are already one. You have always been one.

You just need to reconnect with your authentic core.