Book Recommendation: Manuscript Found in Accra

IMG_2337I just finished reading this wonderful book by Paulo Coelho, and recommend to anyone looking for inspiration. Some excerpts:

“Losing a battle or losing everything we thought we possessed will bring us moments of sadness. But when those moments pass, we will discover the hidden strength that exists in each of us, a strength that will surprise us and increase our self-respect. We will look around and say to ourselves: ‘I survived.’ And we will be cheered by our words. Only those who fail to recognise that inner strength will say: ‘I lost’, and be sad.”

“Defeat ends when we launch into another battle. Failure has no end; it is a lifetime choice.”

“Stay close to those who sing, tell stories, and enjoy life, and whose eyes sparkle with happiness. Because happiness is contagious and will always manage to find a solution, whereas logic can find only an explanation for the mistake made.”

“Anxiety was born in the very same moment as mankind. And since we will never be able to master it, we will have to learn to live with it – just as we have learned to live with storms. For those who cannot learn to do so, life will be a nightmare.”

What’s your favorite Paulo Coelho’s book? Or any inspiration book. Please share through comments.

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The best tips on productivity, motivation and dealing with depression

I recently had the privilege of connecting and interacting with one of the happiest and most successful people I’ve ever known. He started as a salesman and built one of the biggest direct sales companies in the region. I always admired how he found time for leisure and everything else that he enjoyed doing, even during the busiest times of his business. He retired early and rich, while the company runs on the systems he had built. In the following note, he shared with me his thoughts on motivation, productivity and dealing with depression:

Books: Two books that helped me greatly are:

  1. How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World by Harry Browne
  2. The Happiness Purpose by Edward De Bono

And my favorite now for ageless wisdom is The Portable Thoreau edited Carl Bode.

Work Habits: 

  • Keep a ‘time diary’ for 10-30 days. Log everything you do from wake-up to sleep – every phone call, every meeting, every cup of coffee. Review and you will find there is much wasted and unproductive time, which could be spent constructively on work or quality leisure. Make the adjustments.
  • Do jobs IMMEDIATELY and FINISH them.

By doing these two things I accomplished the same in one third of the time than most people! Now I am stress-free and have lots of leisure. Continue reading

The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss

I’ve been reading this fascinating book for the last few days, by the same author who wrote the #1 bestseller The 4-Hour Workweek. It says you’ll learn, in less than 30 minutes each:

  • How to prevent fat gain while bingeing
  • How to increase fat-loss 300% with a few bags of ice
  • How to gain 34 pounds of muscle in 28 days, without steroids, and in four hours of total gym time
  • How to sleep 2 hours per day and feel fully rested
  • How to go from running 5 kilometers to 50 kilometers in 12 weeks
  • How to reverse “permanent” injuries
  • How to add 150+ pounds to your lifts in 6 months

Most of these appear to be tall claims, but I’m going to try a few things and see. I’ve already gone on the ‘slow-carb’, high protein diet to convert the few inches of fat into muscle. Will post the results in a few weeks.

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Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach

Watching lots of seagulls recently, I was reminded of this inspiring book I had read a few times during the late 80’s. I just read it again and realized why it’s called a classic. It’s a short and simple story of a seagull called Jonathan Livingston Seagull, but the message is powerful and inspiring. Instead of a review, here are a few excerpts from the book:

…Most gulls don’t bother to learn more than the simplest flight – how to get from shore to food and back again. For most gulls, it is not flying that matters, but eating. For this gull, it was not eating that mattered, but flight. More than anything else, Jonathan Livingston Seagull loved to fly.

…Jonathan Seagull discovered that boredom and fear and anger are the reasons that a gull’s life is so short, and with these gone from his thought, he lived a long fine life indeed.

…’How you manage to love a mob of birds that has just tried to kill you?’ ‘Oh, you don’t love that! You don’t love hatred and evil, of course. You have to practice and see the real gull, the good in every one of them, and to help them see it in themselves. That’s what I mean by love.’

I recommend this book very highly, regardless of your age, interests or profession. Please share what your favorite books are.

[Photo taken at the Rotorua Lake, NZ. More beautiful photos of NZ here.]

The Other Hand by Chris Cleave

The Other Hand is a captivating and inspiring story of a 16-year old Nigerian refugee, who calls herself Little Bee, and her relationship with a British woman. It’s a novel based on facts about refugees, asylum seekers and the immigration detention centers in the UK.

Instead of summarizing the story, the back cover of the book reads: “We don’t want to tell you what happens in this book. It is a truly special story and we don’t want to spoil it… once you have read it, you’ll want to tell your friends about it. When you do, please don’t tell them what happens either. The magic is in how it unfolds.”

Buy softcover book from Amazon.

Have you read any inspiring book lately? Please tell us through comments.

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No time to read? Try audio books!

In an earlier post I wrote about the pros and cons of audiobooks. The article was quite popular and did a few rounds around cyberspace. Check it out if you had missed it.

Since writing that post, I have become a big fan of audiobooks. I often listen to them while driving (alone), taking long walks and during sleepless nights on long flights. Besides the seven advantages I listed in the earlier post, I also find it easier to preview an audio version before buying a hardcopy.

Audible has become my favorite place to download audiobooks. There are different subscription plans that offer up to 30% savings and let you download a book of your choice every month. There are thousands of books in various categories, both fiction and non-fiction. If you have a computer with iTune and an MP3 player, try it once. ‘No time to read’ is no more an excuse!

PS. Just downloaded Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk for the overnight flight to Dubai – in case none of my fellow passengers wants to tell me her life story 🙂 Off to a bookshop now to buy a real book, just in case the battery on my iPhone runs out 🙂

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Linchpin: Be Indispensable, by Seth Godin

This was my first experience with an audiobook that I mentioned in my post about pros and cons of audiobooks. Whether you prefer the audiobook or printed version, I recommend it to anyone who reads my blog (is interested in enhancing life). In the words of the author:

“I didn’t set out to get you to quit your job or to persuade you to become an entrepreneur or merely to change the entire world. All I wanted to do in this book was sell you on being the artist you already are. To make a difference. To stand for something. To get the respect and security you deserve. If I’ve succeeded, then you know that you have a gift to give, something you can do to change the world (or your part of it) for the better. I hope you’ll do that, because we need you.”

And I think he has done a great job of it. A linchpin is someone that is remarkable. They bring the emotional labor to their work. They pour themselves into what they do because they know it is the right thing to do, and they become better people for living and working this way. This also makes them very scarce, and that scarcity makes them valuable – indispensable. I love what Seth says about art:

“Art is a personal act of courage, something one human does that creates change in another. … I think it’s art when a great customer service person uses a conversation to convert an angry person into a raving fan. …Nobody cares how hard you worked. It’s not an effort contest, it’s an art contest. As customers, we care about ourselves, about how we feel, about whether a product or service or play or interaction changed us for the better.”

Seth also explains the lizard brain and resistance – part of the answer to my questions in the post about Contradictions. You can read more reviews here.

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7 Pros and 7 Cons of Audiobooks

I just finished my first audiobook. And it was an experience worth sharing:

I had been reading reviews and blog posts and tweets about Seth Godin’s newest book, Linchpin. Went to a couple of bookshops on my way to work/home; it wasn’t available. So I went to to order one. I was at Amazon after a long time, and was surprised to see the options available: Kindle (ebook download), hardcover, paperback, audio CD and audio download. Audio download looked like the fastest option so I checked it out. It took me to – an Amazon company, where an audio download was being offered for just USD7.49 with a new membership! I signed up, paid the money, downloaded the book, and started listening to it right away! The benefits:

  1. It’s fast. I was listening to the book after just a few clicks in few minutes.
  2. It’s cheap. Book versions were USD13-25.
  3. It’s convenient. I copied the file to my iPhone to listen during my commute to and from work.
  4. It’s safe. A copy each on my computer, iPhone and backup is likely to last (damage-free) as long as I wish.
  5. It takes no space. So less clutter. No worries about whether to keep, sell off, recycle or give-away.
  6. It’s environment-friendly. No paper, ink, chemicals.
  7. It’s comfortable. For someone who spends a lot of time in front of computers or books, this is a good break for the eyes. You can listen while standing, walking or lying down.

And the disadvantages:

  1. You need technology – computer, Internet access, applications like iTunes, and power supply
  2. You need a handheld device to maximize the use of audiobooks – iPhone, iPod or any other MP3 player Continue reading

23 Wonderful Ice-Breakers

Just read this wonderful piece in What On Earth Have I Done? by Robert Fulghum – one of my all-time favorite authors…

I have a list in the active pocket of my mind. A list I often refer to when thrown into the company of strangers while traveling. The list is labeled Conversation Lifeboats:

  1. Did you ever have a great teacher – in school or out? Tell me.
  2. What would you be learning – if you had time?
  3. What would you have learned to do if you knew then what you know now?
  4. What would you teach, if you were asked?
  5. Teach me something. Anything.
  6. Do you know any silly tricks? Coins, cards, face contortions?
  7. If you could be an eyewitness to some event in history, which one?
  8. If you could see anyplace in the world before human history, where would you go and why?
  9. Who would you like to see naked?
  10. Who do you admire? Who admires you?
  11. Answer an unasked question – something you know but nobody would ever ask about and you would never volunteer.
  12. Decisions of consequence – what forks in the road were on your way – and what if you had taken the other path?
  13. Pick another place/time in modern history – since 1700 – to live.
  14. Book, movie, you’ve read/seen more than once. Why? Continue reading

How to Cultivate Confidence – Tim Sanders

Confidence is rocket fuel for your business life. Confident people have a come-this-way charisma that generates a following.  When you possess total confidence you are willing to take risks. When you have it, you propel yourself and your team forward into the future.

Problem: Most people don’t cultivate confidence – it just lands on them due to favorable conditions.  I call this spot confidence.  Good times make for confident people.  Bad times crush them, along with their daring point of view. The secret to unbreakable confidence is a lifestyle of emotional/mental diet and exercise.

  1. Feed Your Mind Good Stuff. Stop reading negative information, listening to negative people or watching cable network news. You are loading up with fear. Replace that information with studies about the future or an improved you. You’ll soon emerge as a solution provider instead of a Chicken Little.
  2. Exercise Your Gratitude Muscle. Gratefulness is a muscle, not a feeling. You need to work it out daily.  Every morning, give thanks to two people that helped you yesterday and one person that will assist you today. This will focus your mind on what you have, and you’ll soon realize you are not alone.

By Tim Sanders, author of Love Is The Killer App: How To Win Business & Influence Friends.

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Do You Trust Strangers?

0911 book coverI just re-read one my favorite books, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum. It’s full of his real life stories and experiences that are fun to read and full of wisdom. Here’s one about trusting strangers:

“How about some good news for a change? Something to consider when you are in a people-are-no-damn-good mood? Here’s a phrase we hear a lot: “You can’t trust anybody anymore.” Doctors and politicians and salesmen. They are all out to rip you off, right? It ain’t necessarily so.

Man name Steven Brill test the theory. In New York City, with taxicab drivers. Bill posed as a well-do-do foreigner with little knowledge of English. He got into several dozen taxis around New York City to see how many drivers would cheat him. His friends predicted in advance that most would take advantage of him in some way.

One driver out of thirty-seven cheated him. The rest took him directly to his destination and charged him correctly. Several refused to take him when his destination was only a block or two away, even getting out of their cabs to show him how close he already was. There greatest irony of all was that several drivers warned him that New York City was full of crooks and to be careful. Continue reading

Buy.ology by Martin Lindstrom – Why We Buy?

0908 BuyOlogyFind out how everything we believe about why we buy is wrong. A must-read for anyone who buys or sells anything – that’s all of us.

Find out why majority of the anti-smoking campaigns inadvertently encourage people to smoke. Why does the scent of melons help sell electronic products? Why did so many people who took the ‘Pepsi challenge’ say they preferred Pepsi, only to carry on buying Coca-Cola? This books is a fascinating look at how people perceive logos, ads, commercials, brands and products.

Tell us about any great books you have read recently.

5 Most Popular Posts

Following are links to the five most popular/favorite posts on this blog so far – considering the number of views, forwards and comments:

  1. How to improve the quality of life, one day at a time: Have a great day!
  2. The top three excuses for not exercising, and how to handle these: What’s your excuse?
  3. Lesson in patience, persistence and positive attitude from a uni student: Must read if you are in sales!
  4. A book recommendation with an excerpt: Make Today Count!
  5. Too much to do and too little time? Then this one’s for you: Do less, get more done!

I’ll look forward to your comments.

LIFE by Paulo Coelho (Selected Quotations)

lifeA book full of selected quotes from Paulo Coelho’s many top selling books, including The Alchemist, The Zahir, Brida and Manual of the Warrior of Light. Some of the quotes from the chapter, The Path:

  • In order to have faith in his own path, a warrior does not need to prove that someone else’s path is wrong.
  • In order to arrive you must follow the signs. God inscribed on the world the path that each man must follow. It is just a matter of reading the inscriptions he wrote for you.
  • When we postpone the harvest, the fruit rots, but when we postpone our problems, they keep on growing.
  • In order to live fully, it is necessary to be in constant movement, only then can each day be different from the last.
  • There are moments in life when we need to trust blindly in intuition.

Leo Buscaglia’s quotes

Early in my sales career, I had watched an inspiring video by Leo Buscaglia called The Politics of Love. His powerful presentation had a lasting impression on my heart and mind. Later, I read one of his books – Living, Learning and Loving – which was also one of the best books I’ve ever read. Today, I was searching for more of Leo’s work on the Internet and found lots of really inspiring stuff – books, quotes, audios, videos, sites! Some quotes:

  • Don’t hold to anger, hurt or pain. They steal your energy and keep you from love.
  • Don’t spend your precious time asking “Why isn’t the world a better place?” It will only be time wasted. The question to ask is “How can I make it better?” To that there is an answer.
  • Our talents are the gift that God gives to us… What we make of our talents is our gift back to God.
  • Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.

Watch one of his popular Born for Love lectures here.

Randy Pausch’s last lecture

I am sure most of you have heard or read about Professor Randy Pausch by now. But just in case you haven’t… his work is not to be missed!

Randy Pausch (Oct. 23, 1960 – July 25, 2008) gave his last lecture at the Carnegie Mellon University on Sept. 18, 2007. In his moving presentation, “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams,” Pausch talked about his lessons learned and gave advice to students on how to achieve their own career and personal goals. His book, “The Last Lecture” which was based on this presentation was also a bestseller. You can watch that lecture here. It’s about an hour, but very inspiring from beginning to end:

Make Today Count by John Maxwell

maketodaycountI was just looking; I wasn’t going to buy anything. Until I saw this little book with a bold red and white cover and an interesting title. In fact, I liked the subtitle even better. I read it on the flight back from Singapore last month, and started re-reading it this week. Here’s a piece from the Introduction:

You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. You see, success doesn’t just suddenly occur one day in someone’s life. For that matter, neither does failure. Each is a process. Every day of your life is merely a preparation for the next. What you become is the result of what you do today. In other words… you are preparing for something. The way you live your life today is preparing you for tomorrow. The questions is, What are you preparing for? As my father used to tell me when I was growing up, “You can pay now and play later, or you can play now and pay later. But either way, you are going to pay.”

The book has twelve chapters – a dozen to focus on daily: Attitude, Priorities, Health, Family, Thinking, Commitment, Finances, Faith, Relationships, Generosity, Values and Growth. I’ll be happy to give my copy to the first person who asks.

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

tuesdaysA true story of a dying professor who shares his wisdom with the author. Very inspiring and thought-provoking stuff on life, death, family, money, emotions, love and more. Here’s an excerpt from the Tuesday they talk about money:

“We’ve got a form of brainwashing going on in our country. Do you know how they brainwash people? They repeat something over and over. Owning things is good. More money is good. More property is good. More is good. More is good. We repeat it – and have it repeated to us – over and over until nobody bothers to even think otherwise. The average person is so fogged up by all this, he has no perspective on what’s really important anymore.

“Wherever I went in my life, I met people wanting to gobble up something new. Gobble up a new car. Gobble up a new piece of property. Gobble up the latest toy. And they wanted to tell you about it. ‘Guess what I got? Guess what I got?’ These were people so hungry for love that they were accepting substitutes. But it never works. You can’t substitute material things for love or for gentleness or for tenderness. I can tell you, as I am sitting here dying, when you most need it, neither money nor power will give you the feeling you’re looking for, no matter how much of them you have.”

Tribes by Seth Godin

tribesOne of the best books I’ve read on leadership, change and innovation. Here’s an excerpt:

“Every tribe is different. Every leader is different. The very nature of leadership is that you are not doing what’s been done before. If you were, you’d be following, not leading. All I can hope for is that you’ll make a choice. Every leader I’ve ever met has made the choice, and they’ve been glad they did.

“You can choose to lead, or not. You can choose to have faith, or not. You can choose to contribute to the tribe, or not. Are there thousands of reasons why you, of all people, aren’t the right one to lead? Why you don’t have the resources or the authority or the genes or the momentum to lead? Probably. So what? You still get to make the choice. Once you choose to lead, you’ll be under huge pressure to reconsider your choice, to compromise, to give up. Of course, you will. That’s the world’s job: to get you to be quiet and follow. The status quo is the status quo for a reason.”