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>The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins

 1st September 2009 by gihan

>A disappointment.

Dawkins spends most of the book criticizing religion rather than God. Fair enough – there’s a lot to criticize, but that’s not how the book is positioned.

I eagerly turned to Chapter 4, “Why there almost certainly is no God”, but it’s fairly shallow. That chapter would have been better titled, “Why Intelligent Design proponents are almost certainly morons”. No argument there. But that’s not the point.

Dawkins’ biggest point against the existence of God seems to be the “Who designed the designer?” argument. In other words, a God who could have designed the Universe must be a highly evolved being, and that can only happen through evolution. So what? Belief in evolution isn’t incompatible with belief in God.

In fact, it’s easy to imagine a not-too-distant future where technology is powerful enough for us to design thinking, feeling, computer-generated characters who “live” in cyberspace. In their world, WE would be their God – with omniscience, omnipotence and supernatural powers. If that could be the case, why couldn’t the same thing be true of a God who created us? I’m not saying this IS true, just that it COULD be true. And Dawkins doesn’t address this question at all.

All that said, when Dawkins takes aim at religion – which, in fact, is the majority of the book – he makes some good points, albeit obvious points to anybody who takes more than half a nanosecond to think about them.

An interesting read if you’re planning to debate religion with true believers, but a waste of time if you’re curious about GOD.

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>The Happiness Hypothesis, by Jonathan Haidt

 25th August 2009 by gihan

>This is a wonderful book! It’s an unexpected surprise to find a “personal development” book that’s backed by solid science instead of feel-good platitudes.

Haidt examines a number of factors affecting happiness, and presents interesting – and sometimes confronting – ideas. For instance, there’s some evidence that your average happiness is genetically determined, not solely the result of a “positive mental attitude”. And he suggests Prozac as a solution for a certain condition – which flies in the face of motivational authors who insist that drug-free answers are the only “true” answers.

If you’re interested in an in-depth – but still readable and inspirational – study of what makes you happier, this is it.

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>The value of mentoring

 21st August 2009 by gihan

>I’ve recently started David Penglase’s sales and marketing mentoring program, and I’ve got to say … I’m loving it. Lots of work, and my brain hurts, but it’s very, very valuable.

It got me thinking about the value of mentoring in general. It’s something I’ve done a lot – both as a mentor and as a mentoree. So I thought I’d share some of my thoughts here. I hope you find this useful, especially if you haven’t used a mentor before.

1. WORK WITH THE BEST.

If you’re going to use a mentor, you might as well get the best. I’ve had Glenn Capelli mentoring me in presentation skills, Matt Church mentoring me in my thought leadership and IP, Creel Price mentoring me in entrepreneurship, Paul Counsel mentoring me in wealth creation, Mal Emery mentoring me in marketing, and now Dave Penglase mentoring me in sales. Some of these names might not be familiar to you, but believe me when I say they are all masters at what they do.

2. MAKE AN INVESTMENT.

I don’t think it’s necessarily true that free advice is only worth what you pay for it, but I do think it’s easier to be motivated to take action when you pay for the advice. A few of my mentors offered to help me for nothing, but I needed to pay so I could hold myself accountable for the return on investment. I suggest you do the same.

(By the way, the going rate for one-on-one mentoring seems to be around $3,000-$5,000 for a three-month program)

3. MAKE A COMMITMENT.

Paying for mentoring is a good start, but it’s not necessarily a commitment. Do something more to commit yourself – set up a support group with other mentorees, announce it publicly, hire a staff member you can’t afford in anticipation of your success, whatever.

The first year Matt Church was mentoring me, I spent more time sitting in airplanes flying between Perth and Sydney than I actually did sitting down with Matt. That was a huge commitment of energy and time, but it really motivated me to make the most of the mentoring.

4. SET A GOAL.

Come to your mentor with a clear goal. For example, for my mentoring with David, I’ve set a specific income goal, with a specific deadline (this financial year), and with the additional proviso that at least 80% of it has to be earned without me leaving Perth. This makes it so much easier for him to help me, and it keeps us both focussed.

5. DO IT THEIR WAY.

Whenever I learn something new, I immediately start thinking of how I can improve it! I suspect I’m not alone! But this isn’t appropriate for a mentoring relationship, so I have to keep stopping myself from “improving” my mentor’s advice.

Ask lots of questions, but don’t argue. They’ve got the experience, so do it their way, not yours. The path David has suggested for me is very different from the path I had in mind. But it would be crazy for me to insist on doing it my way.

6. FOLLOW THROUGH.

There’s no point getting the advice if you don’t use it. Mentoring is not like reading a book, watching a keynote, or attending a training course, where you sift through the information and figure out what’s relevant to you. It’s not for you to pick and choose. That’s your mentor’s job; yours is to do it.

(From the other side of the table, I know my favourite – and most successful – mentoring clients are those who follow through with their actions)

7. JUST DO IT!

I believe mentoring is the fastest way to accelerate your growth, in whatever area of your business you’d like to improve. So please do it sooner rather than later. Even if it seems like a big investment, it’s worth it!

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>Reckoning with Risk, by Gerd Gigerenzer

 18th August 2009 by gihan

>The test for breast cancer is extremely reliable. It correctly detects breast cancer in 90% of cases when the cancer does exist, and only mistakenly reports it in 9% of cases when the cancer doesn’t exist. The incidence of breast cancer in women is 1 in 100. Suppose you (or, for men, a woman close to you) take a test for breast cancer, and unfortunately it returns a positive result (i.e. it detects the cancer). What is the probability that you do have breast cancer? Would you be surprised to know it’s just 10%? Not 90%, 99% or some other high number?

Another example: DNA testing on a murder weapon matches your DNA, and a forensic expert says there’s only a 1 in 100,000 chance of that happening. Are you doomed? Would you be surprised to know that in a city of, say, 2 million people, this means you’re 95% likely to be NOT guilty, based on that DNA evidence alone?

Do these examples surprise and confuse you? If so, take heart: They surprise and confuse most people – laypeople and experts (doctors and lawyers) alike. Unfortunately, this can have disastrous – sometimes tragic – consequences in law, medicine and other fields.

This is the topic of Gerd Gigerenzer’s excellent book about working with risk and uncertainty. Read it and you might be horrified at some of the horrible mistakes being made by experts giving advice. At least you’ll be in a better position to question them and become better informed.

Is this the best book ever written about dealing with uncertainty? I’m not sure. But it’s certainly well worth the read.

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The Dip, by Seth Godin

 16th August 2009 by gihan

A brilliant book. Contrary to many of the other reviewers on Amazon.com, I think this little book (it’s under 80 pages) is essential reading for success in business and life. It promises to teach one simple, elegant and powerful idea: Know when to quit and when to persist. Or, as Kenny Rogers would put it, “You’ve got to know when to hold and know when to fold”.

The first time I read the book, I understood this. But it was the second time I read the book that I got the real Aha! moment. I think the book actually delivers two ideas, and the second – unadvertised in the promotional blurb but prominent throughout the book – is the more important.

It’s this: If you’re not the best in the world, quit.

This, more than the quit/persist idea, is what makes this book essential reading, especially in this connected, competitive world where being #1 brings all the success and being #2 leaves you highly vulnerable.

So how is it possible for everybody to become the best in the world at what they do? Well, the trick is that you get to decide what “best” means, and you get to decide what “the world” means (Well, actually your customers decide, but it’s your job to position yourself in front of the right customers). The point is, mass marketing is dead. Choose a niche market and a customised offering that makes you the best. If you can’t, quit.

Buy the book here from Amazon.com.

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>The Vendor Client relationship – in real world situations

 15th August 2009 by gihan

>There’s a very funny video going around about client/vendor consulting relationships, and how they might operate in “the real world”:

This is funny, no doubt about it! But let’s not allow the humour to trick us into thinking it’s making a valid point. All this proves is that consulting relationships are different from retail transactions.

For instance, let’s script another restaurant scene, but this time with the shoe on the other foot …

(Customer calls over the waiter …)

Waiter: Good evening, sir.

Customer: Good evening. I’d like the steak, please, but there’s no price on the menu. How much is it?

Waiter: Well, it depends.

Customer: Depends? Depends on what?

Waiter: It depends on how hungry you are, sir.

Customer: How hungry I am??? What’s that got to do with it?

Waiter: Well, obviously, sir, a hungry person would value it much more highly. It wouldn’t be fair to charge as much to somebody who isn’t so hungry. That’s why we rate your level of hunger on a scale of 1 to 10 before quoting you a price.

Customer: That’s ridiculous! But OK, if you insist: I’m a 6.

Waiter: Ha ha! Good one, sir. No, seriously – you’re not the best person to assess that. We’re the food experts, so we’ve designed a diagnostic survey that gives a far more accurate reading. And I might say, sir, that most people turn out to be hungrier than they thought they were! Don’t worry, sir – it won’t take long and it won’t cost much.

Customer: Cost??? Are you saying you’re going to charge me BEFORE you tell me how much my meal will cost?

Waiter: Of course, sir! How can we quote a fair price without knowing how hungry you are? We have to match our service to your requirements.

Customer: Look, I really don’t care whether I “match” or not. Here’s $20 – what can I get for that?

Waiter: Oh, sir – we can’t just take your money. Prescription without diagnosis is malpractice!

Customer (storming out): Forget it! I’m going to the burger joint across the street. THEY’LL give me what I want.

Waiter (sniffing haughtily): Yes … but not what you NEED.

(Fade)

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Busting the Mehrabian Myth

 25th July 2009 by gihan

For years, speakers, trainers, consultants and other educators have quoted Albert Mehrabian’s “55/38/7” research, saying that only 7% of the meaning of your message comes from the words you use. And for years, I’ve been telling them that this is wrong. Not the research itself, but the way it’s wrongly quoted as if it applies in all communication situations. As Mehrabian himself points out on his Web site, the research applied in very specific situations:

“Please note that this and other equations regarding relative importance of verbal and nonverbal messages were derived from experiments dealing with communications of feelings and attitudes (i.e., like-dislike). Unless a communicator is talking about their feelings or attitudes, these equations are not applicable.”

Now this brilliant YouTube video explains it clearly:

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>You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling

 15th July 2009 by gihan

>

So the crowd gave you a standing ovation after a great keynote
… or that hot prospect gave you a verbal agreement at that crucial sales meeting
… or your newest coaching client finally committed to taking clear, specific actions
… or a reader told you that your book changed her life.

Feels great, doesn’t it? But … Have you ever had that feeling, and then discovered the audience walked out and didn’t change anything? Or that hot prospect never got back to you – or chose somebody else? Or that coaching client never did end up doing what they said they would do? Or that reader forgot what she’d read within a few days?

How could this be??? They loved you! You knew it, and they knew it!

So what made them fall out of love with you?

Today’s audiences, clients, prospects and consumers fall in and out of love with stuff a hundred times a day. They haven’t got time to go on a date – the best you can hope for is speed dating.

Sure, your idea was gorgeous, witty, brilliant, ruggedly handsome, Down To Earth and had a Good Sense Of Humour. But, as far as they’re concerned, so is every other idea they see, hear or touch in the day.

So when something better – or maybe even worse – comes along, that gets their attention – and yours goes to the back of the line.

What can you do to fix this?

Simple: Attach your idea to their future.

You know your idea is good – after all, that’s what they fell in love with at the start. The problem is, you made it too easy to forget, because you didn’t connect it to their future.

You see, a new idea is – by definition – new, different, unfamiliar, maybe even a little bit uncomfortable to them. So it’s not surprising they have a natural tendency to go back to their old, same-same, familiar, comfortable way of life.

As John Lennon famously sang:

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

OK, so how do you do this?

Use these four simple phrases:

  • “When you …”
  • “Whenever you …”
  • “The next time …”
  • “Every time …”

Here are some examples:

  • “Give yourself a big mental hug when you pass by the ice-cream freezer at Coles and head for the fresh vegies instead.”
  • Whenever you turn the key in your ignition, hook up your phone to the hands-free kit.”
  • The next time your network crashes, call us – we’ll be waiting.”
  • Every time you turn on the tap in your kitchen, remember that half the world’s women have to walk an hour a day to get fresh water.”

Get the idea? These simple phrases take your idea from the present (now) and attach them into your audience’s future.

Is that all it takes to be memorable? Of course not. You still need the brilliant idea, the receptive audience and the elegant presentation. But you know you’ve got those things already – that’s what made them fall in love with your idea in the first place. These phrases help them remain in love with it.

So use these phrases – they do work.

Err … I mean: The next time you’re preparing a presentation, remember to use these phrases – they do work.

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