Sunday, November 20, 2005

Book Review: Developing the Leader Within You (John C Maxwell)

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As part of my cell leadership intern training in DUMC, I had to read this book and do a book report. After a 3-month delay, here it is finally:) I think for people who are not natural-born leaders like me, it will really help a lot, especially if somehow you keep getting leadership responsilibities whether you like it or not:P

Book Report: Developing the Leader Within You

This book by John C. Maxwell is a very powerful book and it captivated me the moment I started reading it. I guess, being someone who reads more fictional books than non-fictional, I have never known the inspiration that these books can provide. Although the later chapters took much longer than expected to finish, overall it still gives very well-defined ideas on the areas to develop to become a good and even great leader.

I have been deeply inspired by the teachings of this book and have started applying some of the philosophies introduced and they have been wonderful to my daily leadership requirements. It really came at a right time for me as I started to take on more leadership responsibilities at work, in my cell group and family. By concentrating on the few areas specified in this book, I became more comfortable in leading my engineers or cell members. My willingness to lead has also, as a result, increased as I now know the expectations that people have of a leader.

The following are some key areas where I found to be really useful. It is not that others are not useful but at this point of time, these areas are important in my own personal development as a leader.

The Need for Leadership

The key to success in any endeavour is the ability to lead others successfully”. Simple words and yet they clearly defined the importance of leadership. These words gave me a very clear perspective of what is expected of a leader, that basically, everything rises and falls on leadership. The best hope that John C Maxwell could give to readers is that, leadership is teachable and learnable, an encouraging theme to people who are not naturally-born leaders like me.

Influence

Like it or not, a person will directly or indirectly influence another for good and/or for bad. In return, he/she will be influenced by others as well. This is a very key area in leadership as when a leader can positively influence his/her followers, he/she can then inspire them to do great things. John Maxwell defined 5 levels of influences (Position, Permission, Production, People Development and Personhood). These levels give leaders clear objectives on becoming an effective leader through positive influences.

Attitude

A leader’s attitude is very important in the make or break of his/her leadership. This is one area which the book has helped me to develop a lot. It made me realise that in certain areas, I needed plenty of work. Impatience in getting results and slackness in time management were some of my main problems. After reading this section, I have decided to put in some changes in my work and life and they seemed to be working. For example, I stopped using the snooze button on my alarm and will now start my morning with a short prayer and go off for a shower immediately. This was as opposed to before where I would snooze for almost 20 minutes before deciding to wake up.

Making Positive Changes

A leader is only effective in his/her role only when he/she is making positive changes to the surroundings. I felt that this is totally in line with DUMC’s motto of “seeing a need, meet it and see a hurt, heal it”. The fact that my efforts to be a better leader and hence, a person will have positive effects on others deeply encourages me and this has become my main objective in leadership.

Vision

Setting a reachable vision with clearly defined objectives is very important as it provides a checklist whether a leader and his/her followers are on target or not in their work. A vision, as John puts it very nicely, is a picture that a leader sees in his/her mind. A leader without vision is like a person without sight and hence will lead others blindly. A very clear case of “blind leading the blind” indeed.

People Development

Ultimately, I felt the most important message of this book is that, a leader can only be effective when he puts clear focus on people development. By teaching others to do and do it well rather than doing it myself all the time, I am developing more leaders and as the saying goes “many hands make light work”. Being very result-oriented and impatient previously, it has taken me quite a while to adjust to this mindset but I believe in the long run, this ability will stand me in good time as I take on even more responsibilities in life.

Conclusion

This book is indeed inspiring, encouraging and yet practical in leadership training. The well-illustrated examples and leadership models in the book provided a very clear idea on what great leaders had in common. The ability to inspire, to make positive changes, to have great attitudes, to set visions and most of all, to develop more great leaders.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Top Gayer

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Oh my God, macam ni pun boleh!!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Girl From Ipoh: A Resounding Success

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Just finished watching a wonderful wonderful musical (the producers call this new style Pop Theatre) called Girl From Ipoh at the KL Performing Arts Centre. The experience was simply amazing. This is a very well-crafted tongue-in-cheek play with everything I like in it. First things first: StoryLine. Once again, familiar and yet originally told. Briefly, it's about a Chinese girl from Ipoh (what else u expect la:P) called Wong Mei Lee, who doesnt really know how to be a Chinese. She fantasizes about Western worlds (not a Hor Fan seller's daughter helping out at the stall), being rich, famous and wanted as a kid and teenager. And when she finally grew up, her love life was also pretty messed up as she tries to find the meaning of love and of course, finding it in the wrong place, wrong person using the wrong ways.

So, what's really special about this play then, since I've been harping on it so much. Well, for a starters, try to fathom this: the main actress, Carmen Soo (more about her later;)) , playing Mei Lee isn't really playing her since Carmen is actually playing Mei Lee, in Mei Lee's mind!! Look at Carmen's character sort of like a phsychological alter ego or whatever. Actually what I'm trying to say is, the whole story was actually set in the real Mei Lee's mind. Told from her imagination and memories. Cool or what!! Which kinda explained why the poster for the promo looked so weird. Hehehe. I especially love the ending (spoilers ahead, don read the remaining of this paragraph if you're gonna watch it). It's where the real Mei Lee (who is chubbier, shorter and not-so-prettier:P, played by producer Cindy Chin) comes out and actually jolt her alter ego a bit so that she'll stop pitying herself. And I really like the part where
she says "it was because of her body, her face (meaning Carmen) and my story, taht's why it attracted so much attention..." Hmmm... ya I know, most of us are superficial people, tending to look at things at the skin-level. Guilty as charged:">

The other cool thing which has to be mentioned is the entire story was accompanied by a very talented group of A capella singers called the LiT Performers. So depending on Mei Lee's mood, these ladies will render different types of tune to suit the mood. No background music or percussions, just their voices. Familliar tunes like Pretty Woman, Under The Boardwalk and even some Teressa Teng tunes captivated the audience non-stop. These ladies even do translation as Mei Lee's dad speaks purely in Cantonese. Really nice and suitable. It really made the whole show unique as it's not a full musical where the actors sing but at the same time, there's a lot of interaction between the music and the whole storyline. I'm not sure if I'm giving the proper credits but one just needs to be there to know how it really feels.

And speaking about acting, I really have to commend Carmen Soo for a job well done. Not only is she pretty, she also delivers as the main actress. Every expression and action is well acted out. I think most of the guys (me especially) were bowled over by this cute looking chick. Of course, me having the opportunity to sit at front row (yup, worth every single cent of the RM48 and more), get to see her even much closer:D

And what do you know;) I even get to take a picture with her:

I know, the quality dam cacat, which was a very big pity. Blame it on my lousy camera phone and my colleague who went with me:))

It was indeed a happy-ever-after-ending for my night. Ya, i'm still grinning non-stop as I'm writing this piece now.

Kudos to Integrated Expressions for putting up such a refined show. They've really shown what Malaysian talents can really do with enough resources. Guys, still got time tomorrow (13/11/2005) to catch the show. You really don wanna miss it. You don need to be Mr/Miss Artsy-Fartsy to enjoy this. The crowd tonight was superb. Mostly average Malaysians like me. We were all very responsive and yet not-Ah-Beng-ish (no cat whistles during "intense" moments (most of them involving Carmen:P) of the show and all).

KLPAC is also a very beautiful place and rather romantic, with a Japanese restaurant in it as well. Miss this whole show and experience at your own risk!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Mclaren loses Adrian Newey to Red Bull for 2006

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Squadro Toro Rosso (Red Bull in Italian) has just scored a big coup by pullling Mclaren's chief designer, Adrian Newey to their team next season onwards. Wow!!! As Simon Cowell said, "it's the surprise of the century". Not exactly really cause Adrian had actually wanted to leave for Jaguar (Red Bull then) in year 2001. Bored with Mercedes's screwed up engines already. Who can blame the guy. I mean, imagine if you've created a formula that will win you the Nobel Prize but in the end, you didnt get it because your research sent in the report written/printed on toilet paper. Erm, very shitty example, I know but brain not working too well now:P Anyway, what does it mean for F1 next season? More drama la! Man, Can't wait for Bahrain 2006 already.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Just when you thought it isnt worth watching anymore

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Well, best match I've seen from MU since beating Arsenal at home. Final score: MU 1 Chelsea 0. Of course, this doesnt really mean anything from the League point of view except that MU is "only" 10 points behind Chelsea and 4 points behind Wigan (yes, I didnt make a mistake). Guess that's why people can never stop watching football. Football, bloody hell!

Finding your way around Kuala Lumpur

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Without really realising it, I've been living in the Klang Valley for almost 6 years (shit, even I got a shock when i did the arithmetics). The first 3 years spent at cyberjaya didnt really give me a chance to explore KL city. I remember I could only go to a limited number of places (KLCC, Low Yat (this one also thru that stupid Jalan Pudu with its always-red-traffic-lights), Midvalley, SS2, 1-U). I had no idea how each place was really like relative to another. However, my work has allowed me to travel quite a lot and I now find myself almost a full-fledged KL driver:). The sense of satisfaction of now being able to map out my journey in KL is pretty cool. Of course, sometimes the fact that we know too much complicate things a bit but generally I'm pretty efficient now getting aboutKL. But I don't think I could have done without Street Directory's KL Map. Unfortunately, they've removed the KL maps already and so, now I have to rely on Google and some pretty cool contributions from this site, Malaxi. Hope for those who are new to driving in KL, this will be a gem for you:)

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Old Man Catching Up with the Chinese Music Scene

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I've found myself suddenly very attracted to Chinese pop songs again. Must be the amount of spare time I have nowadays:)) Of course, most of the songs/singers I know are like out of date and probably growing fungus already. So, I sort of started listening full time to chinese radio stations on the car again and found out... Wow.. not bad lah! Compared to 5 years back (yes, it has been that long:P), the music variety has increased quite a lot. People like Zhang Z-Chen (local R&B singer), Stephanie Sun (not exactly new), Jolin Tsai (what a surname), Five Month Day (I kid you not! Sounds more cool in chinese I guess. It's a Pop-rock band anyway), Fish Leong (local singer with bad English name), Penny Tai (Once a upon of time, she was sort of an acquiantance. Should have asked for her Autograph then. Better steal, should have stolen her IC or something:P) are making my life a bit more melo-dramatic nowadays. Anyway, catching up again isnt so bad. Quality of the songs isnt too bad as well. Cheesy pop songs will always be there but the maturity is there too. Guess, the fans who have started listening in their teens back in 90s have grown up (like moi) and so the market is more sophisticated already (I hope). People can accomodate more differences in styles. Probably also because new fans (guys/gals in their puberty, I mean teenage years) are more demanding as well. Anyway, at least now maybe the songs I choose in Karaoke wont take so long to load since I, aherm, am now trying to learn a few new tunes meself;)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Salute, Enzo Ferrari (1898-1988)

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Just watched an extremely good movie titled Ferrari. Yup, you guessed correct, it's related to the car that everyone knows about, the prancing horse, Michael Schumacher, Formula One, Austria 2002, Indianapolis 2002, 360 Modena but this movie went way before that. This movie was about Enzo Ferrari, not the car but the founder himself. Man, after watching this movie, my admiration and appreciation of the Ferrari legacy has gone up even more.

The movie appropriately starts with a Ferrari Formula One car going out in testing and we then see Enzo, already in his 70s, holding a classic stop watch. As the car zooms past him, he stops the timer and looks at it. His son, Piero then comes up to him and asked how is it. Enzo promptly said' great, everything's great but add a second to the lap time when you talk to the driver later". Well brilliant start to a movie (if you're a ferrari or racing fan:P). The movie then goes on to when Enzo somehow allowed a mysterious journalist to interview him. Enzo never allowed any reporters to get near him as he thinks they are pest and he quite blatantly tells them so all the time. So, it's quite amzing that he allowed this young chap to interview him. And this is where the movie really kicks off. Enzo starts to tell his story. About his childhood (watching Vincenzo Lancia battle Felice Nazarro in the 1908 Circuit di Bologna), his young days (racing CMN cars in small events and "almost" winning), his triumphs (winning a race with his first son, Dino (still an infant) in his hands), his losses (deaths of his son and designer).

What I like about this movie:

Great acting
Sergio Castellitto is simply amazing as Enzo Ferrari although due to Sergio's age, his portrayal of young Enzo was a tad less convincing but middle-aged onwards, perfectly marvellous. He carried this movie really well. The other actors were all ok as well but Sergio Castellitto was the main driver in this movie (pun intended:P)

Great lines
Only Italian movies or movies about Italians can have brilliant lines such as "Without women, the engines wont even start" and "The Ford deal went to hell. They want to be the bosses in this house and I wont allow that". Mama mia!

Great scenes
Best was the one when after the death of Vittorio Jano, Ferrari's main engine designer, Enzo went to the Ferrari factory and made all the engineers revved up all the engines at once. You need to be a petrol-head to understand the significance of that. And of course, the scene where Enzo declined to sign the agreement to sell Ferrari to Ford at the last second after realizing that his lawyers didnt read the fine-print properly. Enzo was still supposed to take care of the sports car division and have a free reign over it. But agreement still insisted that he had a 100k budget cap. Above that, have to consult Detroit. Of course, later on, Ford went on to make the GT40 and whipped Ferrari nicely in many a Le Mans race but that's a different story altogether. One other touching moment was where Enzo saw his brilliant young driver Gilles Villeneuve bringing his family, wife Joanna, son Jacques (ya, that canadian driver) and daughter Melanie, to the track. Enzo then tried to hint to Gilles to take it easy on the track and value his family. Of course, as we all unfortunately know, Gilles Villeneuve died on the track in 1982 while in a Ferrari.

Enzo's success definitely didn't come without a price. There were many deaths (son Dino, engine designer Vittorio, Gilles, test driver Marco Guigni etc). The last scene poignantly had Enzo saying "There is no triumph or glory in the world that's worth an inch of human skin".