Tuesday, June 30, 2009

People From Countryside

Last Saturday, I was underway with a taxi. A bicycle came unexpected crossing the road, so the taxi driver had to break strongly. He screamed: “Another guy from countryside! Once from countryside, always from countryside!”

I could not say with 100% certainty that this guy really is from countryside. He was well addressed and looked pretty like a city boy.

As we stopped at the crossing waiting at the left turn lane, the light for the left turn changed to green, while the light for strait forward traffic remained red. The car before us did not recognise the change and stayed there.

“Another guy from countryside”, I joked to the taxi driver. He laughed and said: “The car is from good brand, an Opel. He may not be from countryside. I do not understand, people who can afford Opel can not drive.”

Over the weekend, a building during the construction in Shanghai failed down. I am ashamed that such thing can happen in Shanghai. I never heard anything like this happened anywhere in the world. I am not sure how the Shanghai Chinese would think about it. They might say that the building was built by people from countryside.

That phenomena stimulated me to think about some groups of people in Germany who blame the foreigners, when the unemployment rate is going up. Or when something in the company went wrong, we tend to finger point other organisations.

But studies show that when we face a problem, 80% of the issues can be addressed inside the system. When people are young they try to fix the world, when they are getting older and wiser they tend to fix themselves. Maybe I am just getting older :-)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Do You Believe in Destiny?

Here is a real life SMS (short messages via mobile phone) communication:

Friend: “Do you believe in destiny?”

Me: “Yes. A destiny YOU have created.”

Friend: “Do you mean my characters?”

Me: “No. Your predominantly habitual way of thinking.”

Friend: “I see…”

Me: “Read the book ‘The Secret’ by Rhonda Byrne.”

Friend: “Just ordered the book on line.”

A SMS communication like this probably changed one person’s life, forever. More than 25 years ago I decided to enter into Telecommunications, because I believed that this is the area that has huge impact on people’s live.

More for the Secret:

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

How to Become Smarter?

I seldom receive any SMS (short messages via mobile phone), so I was positively surprised to get an SMS from a friend asking: “How can I become smarter?”

This is a really good question and my immediate reaction was: “Read a lot, talk often to smarter people and take on challenging assignments.” After responded the SMS, I thought it might helpful to find some examples.

Read a lot books. My daughter Sophia is very smart. I believe that the key reason for her smartness was that she read a lot books during the early years. She could finish reading a book within one a two days. And she already read thousands of books.

Talk to smart people. I knew some self improvement trainers often interviewed hundreds of top people to get insights how those people are successful. Afterwards they become star trainers, because they unconsciously apply the methods they learned from the interview for their daily work and life.

Take on challenging assignment. There are people who were not particularly smart from their scores at the school or at the university. But they are keen to be successful in their professional life. So they create their own business or apply for challenge jobs. Since the job is so demanding, they have to work enormous amount of time, meet and resolve unbelievable problems. Afterwards, they are able to respond sharply and quickly to any challenges.

Smartness is less a question of genes, but a question of deliberate practice.

Monday, June 22, 2009

My Guitar Teacher and His Time Value

Since June 2008 I have started taking guitar lesson every Saturday. My teacher Mr. S is 24 years old, very talented in playing guitar and in teaching. He is always calm and patient and never gets angry.

26 years ago I also learnt playing guitar in Germany for one year and then stopped, since I was too busy with the study. When I think back, that time Mr. S was even not born. Now, he had learnt playing guitar well, had become a teacher with around 100 students. Time changes everything.

Mr. S has a regular job at the government institution. I could never figure out what he is doing there. My impression is though that the job must be boring, because he gives 40 hours of guitar lessons per week in addition to his regular job. He does it well and has fun obviously.

As a guitar teacher he works for a music school. Since the demand for leaning guitar is growing recently (talking about recession), he was asked to teach additional students. Because it is impossible for him to spend more time, he came to me und asked if I would be willing to take a large class instead of one on one lessons, so he can add more students.

The deal is structured like this. I would pay only half the price and would stay double the time with him. So the price per hour would be only one fourth. It sounds a good deal for me. He will take up to 8 students in the large class, so the total income for the school as well as for him per hour would be also doubled. This is a truly win-win situation.

The moral of the story: there is a limit of how much time you can work per week, even for a talented and ambitions Chinese like Mr. S. If you want to get more done, you have to increase the time value.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

3 Ways to Quickly Learn Any New Subjects: Visual, Auditive, or Kinaesthetic

In today’s dynamic environment you may need to often change job, move to other industry or location, or enter into completely different business as before. Quickly learning a new subject becomes the chief skill for your career, your financial success and your level of happiness. So what are the most efficient ways to learn a new subject?

The answer is “It depends”. You have three different main channels of learning: the visual, the auditive and the kinaesthetic. Most likely you have developed a preferred channel of learning a new skill. For lot professionals due to our current education system the preferred channel is visual.

If you are a visual type, you may want to start to collect as much as possible reading material for the subject. Thanks google you can find tons of documents, presentations, graphics, photos and videos on internet. Scan quickly all the materials you can find out. Then start to ask yourself a simple question: what do I want to achieve at the end of the reading journey? Be specific about your goals. The next step is to select top three materials which you believe will lead you quickly toward your goals. Then start to read and often pause and test if you have already achieved some of your goals. Revise your reading strategies, when you have the feeling that you are off the track.

In case you are auditive type, the best way to learn is to talk with the best experts in this area. Ask around: “Who are the best experts in the area?” Then schedule a time with them one by one by saying: “I spoke with a lot of people and found out that YOU are the expert in this subject. I want to learn more from you. Would you mind to spend one hour with me to talk about it?” Usually he or she will agree. And then before you go to the first expert, prepare a list of precise questions what you like to have answered. Before you go to the next expert, prepare another list, because then you already know a lot. At the end of an interview you can ask the expert: “Who else I should talk to be beneficial for me?”

Should you are a kinaesthetic type the best way is “learning by doing”. Volunteer in projects related to the subject or take seminars where there are role plays or where you can work on case studies. If you are lucky to be able to work on projects, speak with the project leader: “I am new in the subject and have a lot to learn, but my skills are communicating with people, I am good at influencing people to give their best, (or what so ever fits to you), may I use my skills to add value to the project, while I can learn?” If you meet a good project leader, then he and you will quickly figure out how to place you to contribute to the project, while you can learn.

Even though you may have a preferred learning channel, you can still combine the different learning methods to activate simultaneously all three main channels, visual, auditive and kinaesthetic. This holistic approach will deliver you the best learning results.

In case you have unlearnt to use one of the main learning channel, starting to play a music instrument will reactivate it, because you have to use your eyes to see the notes, while you are using your ears to listen to the music and playing the instrument with your hands. The best thing in practicing music instrument is that you learn while you are having fun. And having fun should be the key motivation for learning anything!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How to Raise Children Effectively?

On Friday 12, my first daughter Sophia finished the high school (Abitur) at the German School Shanghai. The whole family went there for the celebration. Sophia got the best scores at the school and received in addition three awards in Physics, in arrangements for different activities and for the competition of best foreign schools.

After the celebration some parents came to my wife and me and asked: “How do you raise your children?” This was a very good question. Honestly we never thought about it before. It is like to ask a slim person, how she keeps her body slim. Most likely she just does not know, because she was slim for the entire life. Sophia got always the best scores.

But when we reflected our experience with Sophia’s education, we may want to mention one thing that contributed most to her success. Sophia tried to do a lot of things in early years including writing creative texts, designing web sites, playing theatre, playing piano, participating technical camps and participating reading competitions.

During the course of years, she some times shifted the interests. What so ever jumped into her mind, we always encouraged her to do. When she was successful, we were happy with her. When she wanted to do something else we said that’s fine to try something new. For selection of university and subjects we never had any preoccupation and instead asked her to explore herself what she really likes.

So what did we really do in her development? Not much. We leave her in free run, encourage her to try new things and play some role models ourselves. And we are extremely happy with the results and the little time we have invested.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Noodle Soup and Birthday Surprise

As a born Chinese I usually celebrate my birthday in a very simple way. My wife cooks some noodle soup for us all and we eat together. Noodle should symbolize a long life. No birthday present, no birthday cake and no “happy birthday” song. I am a happy person and we are a happy family. There is nothing extra needed.

This year when my birthday arrived, I did really not expect anything from any one, except the noodle soup. I stood up as usual at 6:45am and went to the kitchen. As I saw near my noodle soup (with an extra baked egg) a heart constructed with rose blossoms and in the middle of the heart a CD “The best guitar gems”, tears almost came down from my eyes.

I start to understand how much emotion can be hidden in the word surprise. Why don’t we just do a little more to our customers, employees or bosses than expected? Why shouldn’t we surprise them? It will make a huge difference and it costs little time and money. All you need is to have a heart to those you really care about.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Coaching for Talented Leaders

Why do talented leaders still need coaching? They are smart people. They have skills to lead big organisations or companies, driving excellent results, and they even have coaching capability to help others to be better. Why do they still need coaching for themselves?

The answer is pretty simple. Although talented leaders know how to behave in almost all the situations – theoretically - they some times miss the perspectives from others. They are so focused leading other people and can sometimes not clearly see themselves in the equation. Therefore they need a mirror.

Good coaching provides them other party’s perspective, a mirror that should reflect exactly how they appear to others. Therefore excellent coaches do not teach. They ask questions instead of giving instructions. Those questions will lead to more clarity and insight about how the person being coached really is, how he thinks, behaves and acts.

Personally I coach regularly 3 to 4 people whom I really respect and admire. And I have people coaching me on regular basis. Some times we coach each other on different subjects.

It is really a rewarding activity for the coach and for the person being coached, because while you get to know yourself better through different perspective, your goals and purpose of life will become crystal clear, you will feel happier.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Feeling of Importance

All human beings are looking for a feeling of importance. This is the main reason for most people working hard, getting up the corporate latter, learning a new skill, buying a bigger care, a bigger house, entering into a religion group. It is the same feeling of importance for most of the bloggers to write persistently on the internet.

So if you want to make friends in your working environment, there is only one rule you ought to follow: always rise in other people the feeling of importance and never hurt it.

Here a negative example: when a boss asked the employee about his aspiration, the employee answered: “I want to take over your job in two years.” It may sound that the employee had high ambition, but he may not make friend with his boss. Why? Because he unconsciously hurt the feeling of importance for his boss. The boss may think, do you really believe that my job is so easy to handle?

Honestly I made similar mistakes several times. And I really regret it now. It is good to rise my own feeling of importance. But there is no need to hurt feeling of importance of others at the same time.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Call for Creating a Culture of Talent Development

In many companies, talent development is considered privilege for elites. They invest only in the high potentials and leaders. The vast majority will be ignored for trainings or other development opportunities.

In contrast, some high performance companies take talent development more seriously. They invest more money to cover most of their employees, if not all. They apply the principles of sun shining: it should reach every corner on earth.

Recently I read two books by and about Barack Obama “Audacity of Hope” and “The Change We Can Believe in”. One of Obama’s policies is to take care of the majority of the American population in terms of education, health care, tax benefits, because those are the people who build the backbone of United Stated.

What is the backbone of a company? The 80% of people who actually do the work. Those people need to be developed. They are the real assets of a company whose value need to be increased, year over year.

There is an urgency to create a culture where talent development is on every one’s agenda and on management top priority. This is not only a long term issue. This is not only a strategic issue. It is short team and tactic. The whole surviving and striving of a company in today’s highly competitive environment are based on people, on their knowledge levels, skills and motivation to do and be the best they can.