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?