Thursday, August 24, 2006

Dance on a Volcano (from Hawaii)

Wayyyy overdue, but here's a shot of me chillin (not quite, lava of this type is around 900 degrees in temperature!) on a volcano.

It was a 4.5 mile hike (one-way) to the flow, but completely worth it.

I highly recommend you taking a guided hike with Arnott's Lodge, if you ever get the chance.

Swimming with Turtles (from Hawaii)

I'm a big fan of sea turtles.
When I'm in Hawaii, I set aside a portion of time to look for them, on land and in the water.

On this trip, I didn't have to look too hard.
We went to the Four Seasons one night for dinner, and found two turtles resting on the beach.

I enjoy finding them on the shore.
There's something reassuring about these quiet, zen-like critters that makes me feel good.
But... there's not a whole lot of action.

For action, you need to go underwater.

This guy was found offshore of Kona.
It was early. There were not many snorkelers there, so the turtles were pretty comfortable around us.

The visibility was excellent, so we swam with three turtles for about two hours.
We also saw moray eels and a ton of fish.

Interestingly, I was doing a workbook excercise a few weeks ago.
In the exercise, I was listing my favorite things to do. In the process, I discovered that snorkeling was in my top 5.
I was pretty surprised by this. I mean, I knew I liked snorkeling, but I would hardly have put it in the top 5.

Going on this trip, I thought, "we'll see if it really is that important to me".

Well, turns out it is!

Swimming with Dolphins

We're back from Hawaii...
and back to having Internet access.

I was surprised to find that there are still hotels in the US (the King Kamehameha in Kona) that don't have in-room internet.
Given how easy it is to set up wireless, it's almost inexcusable.

Still, this is the islands, so I found better things to do (though, it made it tough for me to keep up on the Yankees as they throttled the Boston Red Sox last week!).

One of those 'better things to do' was swimming with the dolphins at Kealakekua Bay.
Angie and I rented kayaks and paddled across the bay to do some snorkeling.
On the way, we passed the resident pod of dolphins and dove in to spend some time with them.

It was great watching them circle us. The pod had about 10 dolphins total, and a number of them passed within 5 feet of me.
Here are a few shots I took:

After the paddle, we pigged out on local fruits (tamarind, passionfruit - known as lilikoi on the island, white pineapple, and a fresh coconut).

Just another day in paradise!

Sunday, August 6, 2006

Saturday in the Park...

We had another spectacular weekend in Santa Clara.
We spent yesterday at Vasona Park in Los Gatos, watching the beautiful, talented, and awesomely nice Deb Levoy perform her songs.

Deb is a singer-songwriter that I've known for 2+ years. She has a spectacular voice, and her lyrics take a very cool spin on the world.

If you ever get a chance to see her, I highly recommend it!

On the less sunny side of things, Angie and I were tossing the baseball around at the park, and I stepped into a divot and took a nasty spill - spraining my foot in the process.
Despite a night (and day) of ice and aspirin, my foot is black and blue and twice its normal size... (oh, and it hurts like hell)...

Sure, if there was a game tomorrow, I could tape it up and play... but it's been about 13 years since I've sprained a knee, foot, or thumb (laziness does have some rewards!).
I could happily go another 30 without that feeling, with no complaints!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Dance of the Legong

As I mentioned, I've been scanning some of my favorite images from the past.
A disproportionate amount of these images are from Bali.
No surprise there... It's one of my favorite places on earth.

If I haven't mentioned the Dance of the Legong, it's only because my vocabulary isn't equiped enough to do the dance justice.
I hope the photo above will suffice, even though I know it won't.
At best it could whet your appetite to buy a ticket on the next plan to Denpasar, where you'd grab a taxi to Ubud and sit in on the evening dance at the Puri Saren Agung.

If you're anything like me, just the sound of those words will set you on a path that will drop you at the feet of the gods and goddesses of Bali.

If words aren't enough, you can find my images of Bali here.

If not.... well...

Monday, July 17, 2006

My Singapore Reading List in a nutshell...

One of my favorite things (okay, maybe the only thing I like) about long flights is that I get uninterrupted time to devour books.
During the 18 hour flight to Singapore and back, I read a lot of books.

Here's a recap of the books. Instead of reviewing each one, I'll just write one thing that I learned from each one, with a rating on a 5 point scale.

The Leaders Guide to Storytelling by Stephen Denning - 5/5
I learned about the power and structure of using a 'springboard' story to drive change in a business.

The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp - 5/5
Twyla Tharp is one smart, practical artist.
I read this once. I'm about to start reading it again.
I learned that I have a lot to learn from a dancer, even though I don't dance.
I also learned that I should probably dance more...

The Consolations of Philosophy by Alain De Botton - 5/5
(A great, great introduction to Philosophy)
I learned that I'm an Epicurean at heart - needing only Friendship, Freedom, and Thought to be happy.

The Charisma Effect by Desmond Guilfoyle - 5/5
I learned that Guilfoyle has something to add to the general knowledge on speaking. I also learned about the power of the 'yes not' - using phrases like 'isn't it?' or 'doesn't it?'.
I'll be trying those soon...

The Power of Personal Storytelling by Jack Maguire - 4/5
I learned Elizabeth Ellis' summary of Story Types ('Ha-ha' for funny stories, 'Aha' for stories that surprise, 'Ahhh...' for stories that touch deep emotions, and 'Amen' for stories that move the spirt).

Aha! by Jordon Ayan - 4/5
Ayer says that the creative spirit is made up of four compenents - Curiosity, Openness, Risk Tolerance, and Energy - that he calls CORE.

Public Speaking for Success by Dale Carnegie - 4/5
I learned that Dale Carnegie had this speaking thing nailed back in the 1930's.There hasn't been too much new added...

Unstuck by Keith Yamashita & Sandra Spataro - 3/5
I like the explanation of the two types of reaction to change - "Blue Sky Mode" for folks who want to clear the plate and start over; and "Tuning Mode" for folks who want to make incremental changes; and the description of the conflicts between the two.
I'm a 'bue-skyer', by the way.

Ideaspotting by Sam Harrison - 3/5
Looking at the graphic for 360-degree exploring, I realized that I don't spend much time in stores. That's a conscious choice, but it means I'm missing out on some opportunities to explore new spaces for ideas.
My plan? I'm going to enter one new store every week and explore it for 30 minutes.

How Koreans Talk by Choe & Torchia - 3/5
I learned a bunch of Korean proverbs, my favorite of which is "It has a dragon's head, but a snake's tail". It means having a great start, but a weak ending.

Wisdom in Chinese Proverbs by Chen & Li - 3/5
I learned that 'you cannot keep something that must go'
or 'qu xhi zhong xu qu zai san liu bu zhu'!

Popular Chinese Proverbs - 3/5
'The gift of gab will put you in good stead'
or 'san cun bu lan zhi she'.
I think I'm living proof of that one!

Speak Easy by Barry Gibbons - 3/5
I picked up a great line, 'the recipe for a good speech always includes shortening'.
I'll be stealing that for class!

10 Simple Secrets of the World's Greatest Business Communicators by Carmine Gallo - 1/5
Ummm... I learned that there are more words in the title than there are new ideas in the book.What I did like was his assertion that dynamic speakers speak faster - 190 or so words per minute versus the 150 words per minute that most people average.

Radical Careering by Sally Hogshead - 1/5 (for the nice design)
I learned that you can get a book published by collecting one hundred cliches ("Fear Causes Paralysis" and "You Are a Work in Progress", for example) and calling them "Radical Truths"!

Well, I said that I read a lot of books during this trip...
The other big thing I learned on this trip is that I love shopping for books in Singapore.
Borders and Kinokuniya carry all the US best-sellers, but they also carry many UK and Australian books, as well as those published in Singapore.
It's a big world, and all the ideas don't just come from America. What a surprise!

Singaporean Food

Well, I'm back in Santa Clara.
I would have updated the blog sooner, but I was too distracted by all the great food in Singapore.
I've often said that you can see all of Singapore in a week, but it would take 2 years to eat all of it. Trust me, I've tried...

Martin is modeling my favorite Singaporean special - Jumbo Seafood's Sri Lankan Pepper Crab - but that's only the tip of the tropical iceberg.

My second favorite is Hainanese Chicken rice. This plate was served by room service at the Intercontinental Hotel, but the $2.50 versions in any food court are just as good (if not as pretty).

Third on my list of favorites is Nasi Padang, a specialty from Indonesia. You get to pick from a slew of spicy foods to scatter over rice. This one is spicy chicken coconut curry, with spicy potatoes, and spicy tofu. Yummmm!

I got this at the Bugis Junction Food Court for $4 (Singaporean currency).

Finally, if you like Thai food, well, we can do that too.
Here's an fresh plate of Paad Thai, from Patara.

Hungry yet?

Thursday, July 6, 2006

The Gift that Keeps on Giving (from Malacca)

Today Angie, Martin and I visited Malacca - a beautiful city in Malaysia.
Malacca has much to offer - the Dutch area, the seashore, and a very cool Chinatown.

My favorite part of town, however, is Kampung (Malay for village) Mortem.
I first visited Kampung Mortem ten years ago and was a little worried that it might not still exist.

Fortunately, though it's getting pressured by high rises, this little gem of a neighborhood is still standing. It's a 4 or 5 street area packed with traditional Malay stilt houses (like above) and friendly people. We wandered the area awhile and enjoyed the cool breezes off the river.

Another 'event' in our day, was a ritual tasting of the legendary 'king of fruits' - durian.
Durian has the texture of custard, is extremely popular in South East Asia, and smells like an open sewer.

One author said, "It's like eating your favorite ice cream while sitting on a toilet".

For me, it's like eating your LEAST favorite ice cream while standing in a PUBLIC toilet - but to each his own.

Is it just a coincidence that we bought it next to the men's toilet at a gas station off the highway? I think not...

The worst feature of durian (unless you like it) is that you will continue to burp up the 'flavor' for the remainder of the day. If you can imagine a mealy fruit that has aftertastes of garlic and onion, you can imagine how pleasant this might be...

It's only real value for me, is as a spiky prop that can used in Jackie Chan films.

We enjoyed the rest of our day - a nice lunch in Chinatown, poking around in a rubber tree plantation (rubber comes from trees. How weird is that?), checking out the biggest bananas we're ever seen, and driving through palm oil groves.

Tomorrow, the teaching begins.
We're teaching Leadership Challenge... but the biggest challenge we'll see this week is the durian...

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Where Am I? (A light rant...)

Where am I, indeed?
It's a very good question...

I asked myself that very question, when I woke at 4 a.m. today, in a place that was unfamiliar and completely indistinct.

It's one of my pet peeves. Shouldn't you be able to wake up in a hotel room and immediately know where you are?
Wait, I'll answer... YES!

A Japanese hotel room should look vaguely Japanese. A Chinese hotel room should look vaguely Chinese. Right?

Well, look at the room above. See anything Singaporean? Or Malaysian? Or Indonesian?
Neither do I...

I've never understood why some people expect every hotel room to look like 'home'.
Or why hotel designers cater to that expectation.
And why is that 'home' a Euro-American mix?
My favorite hotels always reflect the culture that surrounds them.

Prime examples would include almost any Thai or Balinese hotel. They always include local art, local fruits, local woods, etc.
The Grand Hyatt Shanghai does this, as well.
Japan and Singapore, however, are not good at this.

We're staying at the Intercontinental in Singapore, but I don't mean to single them out.
Many hotels make the same mistake.
They strive for 'international', but end up with 'lowest common denominator'.

Shouldn't your product say who your are?

And shouldn't 'who you are' reflect where you are?

Do your products have a sense of place?
And is that 'place' appropriate?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Burgers at Sino, Santana Row

When we lived in Asia, Angie and I really grew to enjoy 'big city' life.
The assortment of restaurants, the range of arts, along with the ability to do these things without driving, ...

That doesn't really exist in San Jose/Santa Clara (yes, I know it does in San Francisco, but who can afford it?)...
with the exception, that is, of Santana Row.

It's within walking distance of our house, and it's got a number of excellent restaurants - Straits Cafe for Singaporean food, Blowfish for sushi, Thea for Meditereanean, and Amber Indian for (surprise!) Indian. We've also started frequenting Sino, a newer 'Chinese/Asian' eatery that is good, but more of a fusion restaurant.

The above shot has Angie posing with two Kobe beef mini-burgers that were pretty yummy.
Santana Row has tons of street side seating, so the show is always good (and Border's is nearby, so you can shop off a hangover, not that I would know...)

Taco Time! - Alviso, California

I went to lunch yesterday in sunny Alviso, at El Taco de Oro - purveyors of the finest $1 taco in the south bay (and I'm not kidding about that - I LOVE this place).

I was there with Mike, Gary, and Bill as we caught up on all the happenings in the past month.

Anyone who spends time with me knows that they will eventually become 'blogfood' for this site. You can see that Mike is clearly thrilled by that prospect.
Gary, meanwhile, is a little more camera-friendly.

We're eating in the vegetable department of this little Mexican store, because the garage is being renovated (I'm not kidding). This is a great disappointment to me, as the unfinished, unlevel former garage has an excellent Ensenada ambiance that I hope will not disappear.

While I remember, I also wanted to point any managers out there in the direction of's fabulous mission statement generator. You ought to be able to get some milage out of this...

Saturday, June 24, 2006

How do you say Synchronicity in Japanese?

Strange how events align...

Yesterday, I received an email from an old friend, Megumi Tadenuma (Megurina, was our nickname for her). She's the one on the far right in the front row of the photo above.
I hadn't heard from Megurina in about 4 years, so it was a happy surprise.

Then, this morning, I received an email from Haemi Kaku (Haemi-chan is second from the left in the front row, in a powder blue yukata - a cotton summer kimono). Haemi is in Kumamoto, working with Grant (he's in the middle of the back row).

Haemi wrote to say that seeing Grant made her remember the day when this photo was taken.
Me too, as this was one of the best days I've ever had.

The day was a convergence of great weather; great friends; a fireworks (hanabi or 'fire flowers', in Japanese) show on the waterfront; a very generous supply of alcohol; pent-up expectations (Angie and I had staked out a prime spot the night before, and all of us took turns defending our desirable turf on the day of the fireworks); Haemi and Tomo's willingness to 'go native' in yukata; some slightly drunken private fireworks from our balcony (no one got hurt, though I think we all inhaled too much sparkler residue); and a lot of good fortune (Brent, Grant, and Jetsada all just happened to be in town).

It was the last time most of us were all together, and one of those days you wish you could bottle...

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Celebrating Failure

I'm back in Santa Clara, after a long flight and a free upgrade to business class - Thanks Lufthansa!!
My first trip to Israel was an unqualified success - professionally and personally. Can't wait until I get to go back.

I always ask myself, after a training session - what did I learn?
(The photo above is from the 1st of our 2 sessions)
During this trip, I learned that my free flow of ideas and words gets me in trouble at times.

Three mistakes I made... shared so you don't do the same...

1) Using a baseball analogy while discussing team building.
Earth to Glenn - Israeli's do not follow the New York Yankees. (Basketball works, though)

2) Talking about evolution.
Hel-loooo.... It's pretty safe to assume that most folks in Israel have a different view on mankinds' development.

3) Telling a story based around Christmas.
Right. I'm in the Jewish center of the world, the home of Hanukkah, and I tell a lengthy story about a child receiving a bicycle on Christmas morning, expecting my audience to identify?
Smart, Glenn. Smart...

The good news? Israelis are smart, funny, and direct.
So, they let me know pretty clearly when I was off base.
It didn't cost me any good will, just a little embarrassment.

That, I can live with. As long as I learn from it...

Monday, June 12, 2006

Is Jerusalem Too Commercial? (from Israel)

We spent a day in Jerusalem last weekend.
It's an interesting city with an oversupply of history.

We had a pretty active debate over whether the area was 'too commercial'.

On the one hand - yes. I had expected a site with an overwhelming religious or holy feel.
I didn't get that.
The Western Wall had that feeling, but not much else.
Tour groups are everywhere. Cameras intrude on everything.
Shops and shopkeepers are packed into every spare inch.

On the other hand - no. It's not too commercial.
Why do I say that?
Because I suspect that Jerusalem felt much like this 2000 years ago.
The shops were there, the shopkeepers were there, and so was the hustle and bustle.
This is probably the appropriate way to honor old Jerusalem.

It would actually be a shame if we were to mark the whole area as 'holy'.
I'd always rather see a living culture than a sterile museum.

A Leadership Lesson in Reverse (from Baha'i Gardens in Haifa, Israel)

Last Monday, on our first day in Israel, Angie and I took a tour of the Baha'i Gardens in Haifa.

It's a holy place for followers of the Baha'i faith.
One of those Baha'i followers, a German woman named Eva, led us on our free tour of the garden and gave a lesson in leadership skills at the same time.

We were attached to a group of about 20 high school students from America. They were hot, hungry, and didn't really want to see these gardens.

As Eva started the tour, the students chatted all the way through her talk. I started to wonder how she would handle this situation.
She didn't make we wait long to see.

About 30 seconds into her talk, she stopped.
"You know what?," she asked. "I know this information. I don't have to hear it. If you don't want to hear it, we'll just walk down in silence. That's fine with me".

Wow, I hadn't seen the 'angry professor' method used in a long time.
It didn't work when I was in school, and I doubted it would work now.

The kids shrugged and kept talking. They didn't care about hearing the lecture, I guess.

That's the problem with threats - you have to follow up on them.
Well, Eva really wanted us to hear her story, so she started getting angrier.

That didn't work either.
She struggled her way down the entire garden, unable to hold either their attention or her composure. It was very painful to watch.
She was a nice lady with no presentation or leadership skills.

The amazing thing is that she was telling a story about a religion that involved money, politics, and murder. If you can't hold the attention of 15-year old kids with that story, you're doing something wrong.
After all, religion is story. If the story isn't any good, there won't be a religion at all.

So, what did I learn?
You can't force them to listen.
If you want to hold their attention, tell a compelling story...

Saturday, June 10, 2006

The Dead Sea - Israel

Just how dead is The Dead Sea?

This dead....

Oh, the irony.
This is what we mean by 'dry humor'.

I'll follow up with more pictures from Israel, later this week.

Floating the Dead Sea - Israel

I've had trouble getting access to since I got to Israel.

Finally, I'm on.

What can I say?
Work has been great. The weather has been great. The food has been great. And the people have been great

This weekend, we made the journey to Jerusalem and the Dead Sea.
If you don't know, the Dead Sea has so much salt that you cannot sink.

Here I am, doing my superman impression on an oily bed of water, in front of the Dead Sea Holiday Inn.

Olives - from Israel

One of the treasures of the Mediterranean is fresh Olives.

We've been eating a lot of these little green flavor bombs over the past week.
Just can't get enough...

The trees are everywhere, and I mean everywhere.

This morning I had spicy olives for breakfast.
It's a first for me, but I hope not a last...

Saturday, June 3, 2006

Dance me to the end of time... from Seoul

Here's a shocker... we saw more dance today.

We took a taxi up to Samcheonggak, where we saw an afternoon dance show.
It was a story that was almost impossible to follow, but it didn't matter, because both the dancers - with their brightly colored hanbok - and the dances, were beautiful.

Afterwards, we headed to Insadong.
The temperature was perfect for a stroll, so we took a walk down the street, where we found another performance.
It included dance, martial arts, singing and swordplay.

Hope we see this much excitement in Israel!!

Friday, June 2, 2006

Dance, Dance, Korea 2

I mentioned that everyone seemed to be dancing yesterday.
Here's a glimpse of what I was talking about.

Angie and I wandered into an outdoor session of Korea's "Show Music Tank", an MTV-type program that features new Korean music.

We watched for about 90 minutes, and saw about a dozen music acts, ranging from rock to rap.
Most (10 out of 12?) featured choreographed dance moves.

As we made our way past the 4 major shopping malls that surround Dondaemun Stadium, we saw that each had a stage in front of it.
"Show Music Tank" was in front of Doota.

The other three malls had - a dance competition stage, a karaoke competition stage, and another dance competition stage.
When we returned to our hotel at 11pm, none of these showed any sign of slowing down...

Dance, Dance, Korea

The Fan Dance, Seoul, South Korea

We got over to Korea House again (number 24 in Seoul's Best 100)
No dinner, just the show. I got into the second row, and got a few good shots of the world famous fan dance.

I've mentioned before that I love dance.
Anything that combines music, beautiful women, and photography is a winner in my book.

Rhythm is life, and life is rhythm - at least if you doing it right - so we all dance, even if we don't know it (or aren't very good at it).

Many of my favorite cultures are singing and dancing cultures.
Bali, Thailand, and Hawaii top the list; but Korea ranks surprisingly high as well.

Tonight, we were in the Dongdaemun Stadium area, and it seems like Seoul is breeding a population of super-dancers. They were everywhere.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Why Language is Overrated (from Seoul, Korea)

Yesterday was election day in Korea, so Angie and I had a chance to see some sights.
It was a beautiful day in Seoul - sunny and warm, with a cool breeze.

Our first stop was Unhyeongung Mansion, where we stumbled into a Pansori performance.
I heard a microphone check, walked over to see what was going on, and discovered this performance.

Pansori is a traditional storytelling method that is very rhythmic.
Think trance-rap, and you start to get close.

I love it, because the audience is encouraged to participate.
It can get a little rowdy, with the feeling of an Southern church (Amen, brother!!).

Anyway, we walked right into a front seat, and this vibrant woman put on a great performance for us.
She also sang Arirang and a few other songs; clapping, smiling, snapping her fan, and joking with the audience till she had us all laughing. 

I didn't understand a word, but it didn't matter.
Why is that true?
  • Because the rhythm spoke to my body
  • Because her body language communicated so much information
  • Because my fellow audience members signaled me with laughs, groans, and shrieks of delight
  • Because her eyes, smile, and face spoke a thousand words
  • Because melodies reach across all borders
  • Because the tone and pace of her voice was full of signals
  • Because she used her fan as a prop to signal us

How many of these tools do your use purposefully in your communications?
Not enough, if you're anything like me...
Give just one a try and see what happens.

If you want to see Pansori in action (and see a great movie), you should rent or buy "Chunhyang". It's Korea's Romeo and Juliet - an excellent story, beautifully filmed.

This lucky discovery reminded me once again:
Keep your eyes, ears (and heart) open, and you never know what you'll find.

How to Get a Response (from Seoul, Korea)

This Korean Team is 'On The Case' (study)

I led two classes this week in Seoul - "Working Globally", and "7-Step Problem Solving".

We had some particularly animated discussions during the BKM's class, as we discussed how to work more successfully between Korea and the US.

During the discussion, I found out that Korea has a cultural norm that I've also seen in China.
That is, it's common courtesy to refuse something the first (or even second) time it's offered.

While this happen most often during an offer of a gift, or food - it can also apply to questions such as "Any questions or concerns?", "Do you have anything to add?", "Is this plan okay?".

The lesson here? To avoid a non-response, ask your question three times.

You can do this with some subtlety.
"Any questions?"
"Would anyone like clarification on a point?"
"Shall I go over it again?"

Try it. You'll likely get a more complete response.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Hanging Out in Seoul

Here I am, in Seoul, with some new friends.
We're at a traditional festival at Namsan Park.

I think they're supposed to be old-time policeman, which means I'm under arrest.
Fortunately, it's bad publicity to beat a white man with those little clubs, so I got away with just a warning!

I also managed to be the token white interview for TV again.
In 2002, I was asked my opinions on the tradition of eating dog (for what it's worth, I don't have a problem with it... it's pretty hypocritical to eat cow, but say that dog is off limits) for a World Cup special.

This time, TV station KBS wanted to know about my thoughts on this festival.
I, of course, gave it a big 'thumbs-up'...

Is 10% Good Enough for You? (from Seoul, Korea)

Over the past 6 months, I've been working with the technical support group to improve the quality of customer escalation meetings.

We made an rough estimate of how many escalation meetings have been held in this company in the past 25 years.
50 a day (across all our divisions, a conservative estimate) x 365 days x 25 years = 456,250.

So, half a million escalation conference calls.
And how much training have we done?
0. Nada. Zip. None.
Seriously. No one has been trained on how to conduct or contribute to an escalation meeting.

Now, you may think that it's a pretty easy thing to do.
You'd be wrong.

We identified 31 key attributes to a successful escalation meeting (it's since grown to 37).
We then ran a couple simulations with experienced technical support engineers.
The results?
8-12% of the criteria were met.

So, we're delivering a solution that will include some training, job aids, practice, and real-time coaching.

Lesson - don't assume that any job is 'easy'.
Will all tasks or jobs require training? Probably not.
But almost any task or job could use quantification and a job aid.

Unless 10% compliance is good enough for you, that is...

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Iris, Iris, Iris (from Seoul, Korea)

Another image from the Dano Folk Festival in Seoul.

This one shows a girl wearing a Hanbok - the traditional Korean dress - and washing her hair in iris water. Apparently, this used to be a big deal.

My iris, looking through the camera iris, was more than happy to capture her iris washing.
I took about 350 pictures today, but this one may be my favorite.

Swinging in Seoul - Seoul, Korea

We arrived in Seoul on Friday night.
The taxi ride in was a bitch... 2 hours in bumper to bumper traffic.

We're staying at the Shilla Hotel, which is very nice, but English-challenged to say the least (at least, compared to the Westin Chosun, where we used to stay).

Saturday was rainy, so we spent most of the day in a book store.

Today (Sunday), however, was very nice.
We went to the Dano Folk Festival at the Namsangol Hanok Village.

We ate kimchee pancakes, made an appearance on the local news (I was interviewed, for my feelings on the festival by TV station KBS), mingled with the locals, and watched traditional activities.

One of my favorites was the Korean Traditional Swing, pictured above.
I can't tell you much about it, except that mostly women do it, and they seem to really enjoy it.

Anyway, it was a great day...

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Learning Through Music: Deli Spice (from South Korea)

Since I'm heading to Korea in the morning, I thought I'd give you a taste of my favorite Korean rock band.

The name of the band is Deli Spice.
I've been listening to them since about 2002, when they caught my attention with a weirdly captivating cover of "Bette Davis Eyes".

Here's a video for their new song, "Missing You".

If you're curious about the video, it's from the Japanese movie "Mazon do Himiko" (available here at DVDAsian, my favorite source for Asian DVD's).
I recently bought it, but I haven't watched it yet. I'll post a review after I do see it.

The film features a couple of Japans biggest stars - Shibasaki Kou (who was in two of my favorite Japanese films; "Battle Royale" - watch the trailer here to see why it wasn't released in the US - and "Go") and Odagiri Jo (who's also doing pretty well for himself).

Bali Dreaming

We head to Korea (and then Israel) tomorrow, but tonight my thoughts are of Bali.

I've been going through a bunch of my slides and moving them to my photo website - hues. Tonight, I added some more shots of Japan and Thailand.
I also created new galleries for Vietnam and Bali.

I love both countries, but Bali ranks a little higher for me.
Probably because of the music.
I'm a sucker for the rhythms of the gamelan.

Of course, you can't complain about the views, either!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Weaving a Web of Teamwork

During my recent trip to Taiwan, Martin and I conducted the Leadership Challenge Workshop with the management team.

We had some excellent constructive debate in the room.
Everyone shared personal stories and visions, while challenging themselves to shape those experiences into practical work applications.

Along with the workbook activities, there were some team activities that help us build openness, and a sense of fun.
My personal favorite has to be the Spider Web game.

While we use this activity quite often, it's always a kick to watch it with a new group.
If you ever look for an activity to build into a session - try this one!

Five Books to Enhance Your Presentation Skills

I watch a lot of presentations.... and most of them stink.

For example, today a group of us watched a 30 minute presentation that felt like 4 hours.
Don't get me wrong; the speaker had a lot of positive attributes.
He moved well. He engaged audience members. He had good stories. He was passionate.

The problem was that he had no (and I mean NO) structure.
We had no idea where he was taking us. It was a disorienting journey, with no end in sight.

Guy Kawasaki says (I'm paraphrasing), "The only thing worse than listening to a sucky presenter, is listening to a sucky presenter and not knowing when he will stop sucking".

Learning point: always show an agenda.

After he left, I asked the group what his key point was. I got 6 different answers.
When that happens - you failed.
Wait. Sorry, YOU FAILED!!!

Learning point: always have a core message.

If you don't have one, don't talk.
If you have more than one, you have none. Eliminate all but one.
Repeat your core message many, many times (hint: at least three times).
Make the core message short. Supplement it with appropriate gestures and image(s).
Lather, rinse, repeat.

If you want to get better at presentations, here are a few places you should go:
By the way, besides being an excellent host, Weissman seems to be a genuinely nice guy. We had a phone conversation today (part of what triggered this post), and he was very generous with his time to answer my questions.

Any Publicity is Good Publicity?

Not when it's this...

Discretion (and legal) prevents me from commenting, except to say -
Sunlight not only is the best disinfectant... it's also a food for flowers.

So, bring on the sunlight...

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Monkeys and Typewriters, Airplanes and Seatmates

You've probably heard the saying - put enough monkeys in a room with typewriters, and one day you'll come out with a novel.

I feel the same way about airplane travel - throw me in enough economy seats, and eventually I'll be lucky enough to meet someone interesting.

That's not usually the case. On my flight home yesterday, for example, I had a fat Chinese man overflowing next to me. He was snoring like three simultaneous Starbucks expresso machines, and constantly jostling me.
His wife, sitting in the window seat, asks if I'd like to swap seats with her.

Right.... the only thing worse than sitting next to this guy would be getting trapped against the plane wall by him. I passed on her generous offer.

One very selfish reason I like to take Angie traveling with me, is that she provides a buffer (literally) against this possibility.

Anyway, I can't complain too much since I had a fantastic seating partner on the flight to Taiwan.

Hsiu Shih (pictured above) and I started a conversation almost immediately, because I was finishing my reading of a book on Chinese Proverbs - the very thorough "ABC Dictionary of Chinese Proverbs".

During the flight, Hsiu Shih, an English Major, helped me understand many of the proverbs by explaining where she first heard them (school, home, etc). It was very helpful for the project I'm working on.

Besides the book, we discussed her time in the US, the lack of good Chinese food in Massachusetts, my experiences in Japan, (mis)perceptions of Asian females in the US, the usual pressure Taiwanese women feel to get married and have children, and the glory that is Hsinchu.

12 hours on a plane never really goes fast, but she sure made it enjoyable.
If I can meet someone like Hsiu Shih once in every ten flights, it even makes up for the monkeys!

Five Reasons I Love Travel (from Hsinchu, Taiwan)

My high school English teacher, Mrs. Remington, always said, "It's a sad day, when you don't learn something new."

I have my own spin on that, which is, "It's a sad day when I don't see something new."

As Martin, Stephanie and I were walking through Hsinchu, we spotted this monk. He was meditating.
It's not that I hadn't seen a monk before. I've seen plenty.
It's just that I hadn't seen one in Hsinchu, and I wasn't expecting it.

Perhaps I'm easily amused, but whenever I see something I wasn't expecting, it reminds me why I travel.

  • Travel helps me break familiar patterns
  • Travel makes me aware of life's potential
  • Travel induces a sort of physiological delirium that I find pleasant
  • Travel introduces me to new smells, sounds, sights, and touches
  • Travel forces me to see what I am, and am not
As I'm sure this monk would echo - it's the journey, not the destination, that matters.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

The Multicultural Bride - Hsinchu, Taiwan

I'm back in Santa Clara, so I'll be posting some images from Hsinchu over the next few days.

As I was leaving the hotel this morning, a wedding party arrived.
This woman got out of one of the cars and smiled.

"Beautiful dress," I said.
She then gave a response that I had never heard, in my previous 13 years of Asia experience - "I know".

I almost fell over.
In Asia, modesty is king (and queen).
Typical responses would be "It's the best I could do on short notice", "All the good ones were taken", or "I wish I could do it justice".
Even "Thank you" is typically considered too bold.
I had to give her credit for her unusual boldness.

She then asked me where I'm from.
"California", I said.
"REALLY!!! Me, too".

Ahhhh, an American. That explained everything.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

What Would Sherlock Holmes Say?

I'm staying at the beautiful Ambassador Hotel in Hsinchu.

Before the Ambassador came to town, we played 'hotel roulette', rotating through various 2-star hotels, but the Ambassador is truly an oasis.
The staff is great, the rooms are great, and the location is great.

I have had a couple of strange things occur here, though, that haven't happened to me anywhere else.

A few months ago, Angie and I were checking into the hotel late at night.
As Angie sat on the lobby sofa, the desk clerk leaned over to me whispered, "I've got your shoes from your last visit".
I told him I didn't leave any shoes.
"Yes. They are ladies shoes. We found them when we cleaned your room. I have them here for you."
No, I explained, I was alone last time. They are not my shoes.
He seemed to understand, so we went to our room.

The next day, housekeeping came to my room, "Here are your shoes".
No, those are not my shoes.
"Yes. They were in your room when you checked out last time."
She opened the bag, revealing a pair of red, worn-out high heels.
I laughed and said that they were not mine, not my wife's', not my girlfriends', and that I didn't need or want them.
"Okay." She walked away, lugging the shoes.

Of course, now Angie wondered why a pair of red women's' shoes would be in my room from my last visit.
Fortunately, it didn't take long to convince her that even if I did have a woman in my room who wore red high-heels, she probably wouldn't have walked home barefoot.
Still, it was a strange event.

I was reminded of that event last night, as I sat on the toilet (bear with me - if the image of me on a toilet is uncomfortable to you, imagine that I was just reading).
Across from me, on the edge of the bathtub, was a green toothbrush kit from EVA Airlines.
This was interesting, because I flew economy and didn't get a toothbrush kit.
The kit wasn't in my room the previous two days, but suddenly had appeared in my room.

This forced me to ask the following question - What is happening in my room when I'm at work?

When you eliminate the impossible, whatever is left - no matter how unlikely - is the answer.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Where does Emotion Come From?

One of my favorite things about travel is that I finally get the time to read.

Today, I finished "blink" by Malcolm Gladwell.
Quite an interesting book, about how the best decisions are sometimes the ones made instantly.
Like most books I enjoy, it veers into many unexpected directions.

My favorite quote regards the surprising discovery, by a team of German psychologists, that your facial expression can influence your emotion (vs. the opposite view)

"...we take it as a given that first we experience an emotion and then we may - or may not - express that emotion on our face. We think of the face as the residue of emotion. What this research showed, though, is that the process works in the opposite direction as well. Emotion can also start on the face.
The face is not a secondary billboard for our internal feelings. It is an equal partner in the emotional process."

Which makes a pretty strong argument for the age-old warning "if you keep making that expression, your face will freeze"!

Tomorrow, I start on "The Wisdom of Crowds".

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Philosophy of Bruce Lee

I've been reading a lot of Asian quotes and proverbs recently, for a project I'm working on.

One of my favorites is this one by Bruce Lee

"True observation begins when one is devoid of set patterns."

(man, shouldn't that be the mantra of every student and teacher!)

Here's an interesting video montage of Bruce, talking about martial arts.
I didn't realize that he majored in philosophy at the University of Washington...

Friday, May 12, 2006

Headed to Taiwan

I'm off to Taiwan tomorrow.

This video gives you a taste of traditional Taiwanese music.
You've heard the song - "Return to Innocence" by Enigma - no doubt.

What you may not have realized is that the heart of the song comes from a traditional song by the Amis Tribe of Taiwan.
The story of the song is here.

And here's the video...

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

B.S. - A Tale from Santa Rosa

As mentioned in my last post, Angie and I were in wine country over the weekend.
At the Sunce Winery in Santa Rosa, we were tasting some very good wines, when the sommelier and I entered a discussion about one of my favorite TV shows - Penn & Teller's Showtime expose series titled "Bullshit".
If you've never seen it, Penn & Teller challenge a different piece of 'BS' each week.
Whether it's the 'science' of feng shui, the hypocrisy of PETA, or bottled water - P&T are cheerfully skeptical hosts.

To explore the 'taste' of water, P&T filled a dozen different fancy bottles with water from the nearest garden hose, then surveyed restaurant patrons on the 'difference'.
Of course, the fanciest bottles and 'French-est' names got the highest ratings.

Anyway, it turned out that our friendly pourer was a big fan of Bullshit, so we shared stories and laughs about our favorite episodes for about 10 minutes.
Then, with perfect timing, one of her coworkers walked in and announced, "This man has a tool that can age wine 1 year for every second he puts it in your glass".
We all broke into a fit of laughter at this poor gal and guy, as they had no idea what was so funny to us. (That was almost as funny as when she asked him to show us his tool....)

"This is a job for Penn and Teller", we agreed.

Well, he (in the right side of the photo above - you can see his silver 'tool' in his hands) gave us a thoroughly unimpressive display of the aging capabilities of this amazing invention.
Our sommelier (with the glass) didn't taste the difference, and neither did I.

To be fair, I probably have the least delicate palate on earth.
But, I can taste the difference between a 2003 and 2004 pinot noir, so I'm not totally numb.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Reading "A Whole New Mind" - from Dallas, Texas

I'm in Dallas (Richardson, to be exact), leading a Situational Self-Leadership class.

I'll comment on that tomorrow, but I need to say this today...

Go. Buy. Read.
A Whole New Mind - Why Right Brainers Will Rule The Future - by Daniel H. Pink.

It's the best book I've read this year.
Here's a short version of the introduction.

Pink says that to be successful in this new world, we need to develop these Six Right Brain 'Senses': Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play, and Meaning.
He then tells how.

I won't say more because you'll enjoy the discovery more if I say nothing...

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Worst Classroom Nightmares: Part 1

Last week, I attended the class "Exercising Influence", delivered by Barnes and Conti.

As I attend classes, I'm always learning on two levels.
The first level is, of course, the class materials.
The second level is watching other instructors at work.
It's a kind of 'out-of-body' experience to see another person facilitate a group.

In every group, we get students who are spaced along the learning continuum.
Some like to move fast, do exercises, make mistakes, and interact.
A few others like to move slow, learn theory, avoid mistakes, and reflect.
Most are in-between.

This group, however, was the first I'd seen that contained both extreme ends of the continuum.

As the instructor introduced the agenda, he mentioned that the first morning would contain a fair amount of lecture. This would build the basic concepts for our role playing in the afternoon.
Day two would be mostly activity-based.

At this point, an engineer raised his hand, and said (in a nutshell), "I won't want to do any role-playing until you've taught us all the theory. I'll need to understand the how's and why's. I'm not convinced that this method works. You'll have to convince me."
He continued for about 10 minutes, explaining his needs.

Not less than 5 minutes later, another student raised his hand and said, "We've already spent too much time discussing this. Can we move on to the exercises?"


The next day and a half continued like this. The theory-based student asked a lot of detailed questions, while the action-based student kept reminding us that, "We're 2 hours into this class and we're on page 5".

Now, neither style is 'correct' or 'better' (though, personally, I resonate with the fast-paced action-learning style). I was just glad I got to watch this play out in a classroom that I wasn't leading!

What did I learn?
Well, I would have pulled the theory-learner aside and explained the design of the class.
If the activity pacing was too much for him, I would have recommended he pull out of the class.
If not, I would offer to answer his more esoteric questions off-line, or at lunch.
Deferring to the agenda almost always works.

Course design can address these issues, as well.
A little data at the start (where did the model come from, what's its history) helps the theory-learning get comfortable.
It's also too much to expect that action-based learners will sit through a morning of lecture.
I would get an activity loaded into the front end of the class to satisfy them...

But we'll see when it happens to me!

Thursday, April 6, 2006

How to be Culturally Capable

Yesterday, Clarence Eddy and I co-facilitated a class called "BKM's for Global Productivity".

We work with 'global goddess' Heather Hinrichs of Meridian Resources to provide this class, which is based on the book "Working Globesmart" (highly recommended).

No better tool set exists for approaching an unfamiliar location than keen eyes, open ears, a flexible mind, and a willing heart.
-Ernest Gundling, "Working Globesmart"
That said, Meridian provides an awesome tool called 'Globesmart' that identifies your cultural profile, and maps it to your target countries cultural profile. Gaps are then mapped, and the tool helps you identify a plan to close those gaps.

The picture above shows my cultural profile vs. US and Japan.
I map pretty well against Japanese culture in terms of Long-term outlook and Interdependence, but have large gaps in my views on Status and Risk.
Based on this information, I can prepare myself to adjust to the Japanese culture by:
  • Ibserving and leverage protocols around age and title, where appropriate
  • Focusing on how my programs avoid risk, as opposed to embrace risk
It's a very cool tool and a class worth taking.
I never make a first trip without consulting it!

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Do Your Acronyms Work?

Let's say, hypothetically, that you create a new position in your company and call it Chief Administrative Officer. So far, so good.

Next, let's say that - for lack of a better moniker - the group adopts that title as it's name.
For example, if you were going to have a planning session for that group, you might hang a sign on the door saying C.A.O. Planning.

Based on the above scenario, I learned something new about myself.
I learned that I'm wired differently than about 85% of my peers.

A couple of days ago, in a meeting, I referred to our group as 'CAO' (pronounced the only way I thought possible, 'cow'). I drew nothing but blank expressions from my teammates.
One member finally asked me, "What's a cow?".
(Cue 'Airplane'-style joke here, "It's a mammal that produces milk, but that's not important right now!")

I thought it was obvious, but upon further investigation, I found that only one other person (out of about 20 people) had made the leap from C.A.O. to 'Cow'.
Didn't anyone else watch "GET SMART" when they were growing up?

Anyway, I kinda like the name.
I always wanted to be a CAO-boy ('76-style, not '05-style).
Some find it a little 'unbusiness-like', however.

So, the lesson?
Read your acronyms aloud... they may surprise you...

Friday, March 31, 2006

How Effective Are Your Escalation Meetings?

Yesterday, I led a new class I'm designing to strengthen our escalation meeting management.

We've built some role play scenarios that show how the ouput of an escalation meeting falls far short of the product that's needed for a customer meeting.

I did a series of web searches in my research, looking for a 'great conference call template' (especially one where plan of action creation is involved), but came up empty.
So, we designed our own.

It seems like running this type of meeting/call would be straight forward, but we identified 30+ attributes of a well-run call.
In our opening role-play, with senior managers/engineers, we are only hitting 10% of these attributes (room to improve!).
After training, we're hitting 90%.

Of course, we'll follow this up with job-aides and action coaching.
No matter how 'intuitive' something seems, you can't assume it will be done correctly...

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Airplane Reading

Flew back from Singapore yesterday.
Long flight, but we got an upgrade to business class, so that was nice.

On the flight, I read two books.

1) The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists - Interesting book.
About a month ago,I read this article in Metro (which, by the way, is now downloadable in pdf format) . Besides having a GREAT title (I love puns), it intrigued me with it's tale of desperate men using NLP to pick up girls.
Anyway, I saw "The Game" in a Singapore book store and picked it up for some light in-flight reading.
The 1st third is hilarious, and highly entertaining, as we watch socially inept geeks learn the art of seduction.
The rest of the book, however, loses momentum as it heads into the inevitable morality tale and love story.
Still, worth reading if you want a glimpse into a world you will hopefully never enter on your own.

2) Freakonomics - An economist takes on some decidedly non-academic questions, like 'why do drug dealers live with their moms?', and 'what's more dangerous - a pool or a gun?'
He then answers those questions with data, stories, and surprises.
Challenge your assumptions!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Checking in with an old friend...

Angie and I had dinner tonight with our good friend Jodi Chia, and her kids.

We ate at California Bistro, in the Esplanade.

Chicken sandwiches - good
Fish and chips - very good
Weather - hot
Air - humid

Seeing an old friend - priceless

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Exploring Singaporean Music

The sun is rising in Singapore... Stephanie Sun Yan-Zi, that is.

As part of my continuing world music series, today I will introduce you to Stephanie Sun.
Here's her profile. And a fan site.

Singapore's most famous performer, she is a singer/pianist with an excellent voice, singing in both English and Mandarin. She's been a huge success throughout the Chinese world since 2000.
She performs a wide range of songs, but sweeping piano ballads are her specialty.

Here's one of her hits - 'Kite'.

Good late night music.

Singapore Fashion

It's fashion week in Singapore.

As we were passing through Raffles City Shopping Center (designed by none other than I.M. Pei - it isn't one of his most inspired works, but it's interesting), a show was about to start, so we stuck around to take a few photos.

I'm not a huge fan of runway models - too skinny, too tall, too pale.
But hey, I always keep an open mind...

This statuesque creature must have heard my comment, because she appears to be staring a hole through me.

Singapore has the Best Food in the World

I firmly believe that...

You can see all of Singapore in a week, it's true.
But it would take you a good five years to eat your way through the Lion City.

Last night (my birthday, by the way) we had dinner at the Cafe Lotus, at Clarke Quay.

Here's a close-up of my Beef Rendang, a beef (obviously) dish cooked in a spicy coconut (anything's better with coconut, is my belief) gravy.

As Montgomery Burns would say, "Excellent...."

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Bringing the World to your Desktop - from Singapore

Here is a view of famous Orchard Road, at the intersection of Scotts Road.
I'm shooting from Border's Cafe, towards the Marriot.

Orchard Road is the premier shopping, eating, people-watching zone in Singapore (some would say Asia).

I personally think it's the best people-watching spot in Asia. Indians, Chinese, Japanese, Malaysians, Thai, Americans, Australians, and Europeans all mix here.

Sidewalk cafes abound, so a pleasant day can (and usually does) consist of sitting, watching, talking, and eating.