31 January 2010

Book Review: "A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future"

"A Whole New Mind" by Daniel H. Pink has been on my radar for sometime now. It emphasizes not just more modern left-brain thinking, but rather integrating those analytics with our creative right mind thinking.

Pink breaks the book into 6 sections: design, story, symphony, empathy, play, and meaning. At the end of each section, Pink essentially invites the reader to do a bit of "homework," or in Pink's words "portfolio."

Essentially Pink emphasizes that we should use our whole mind, not just the left side which has been elevated to some sort of superior status. The truth is, as Pink sees it, that the left-side dominate jobs will be outsourced. For example, purely understanding how to program a computer is the sort of job that will go to somewhere such as India. The type of job that will not be outsourced will be “high concept, high touch” in this new era of the “conceptual age.”

“To survive in this new age, individuals and organizations must examine what they’re doing to earn a living and ask themselves three questions:

1. Can someone overseas do it cheaper?
2. Can a computer do it faster?
3.Is what I’m offering in demand in an age of abundance?” (page 51).

Perhaps you see the point. It may be time to invest in Pink’s homework. Are you afraid that your job will be outsourced? That you will become redundant? Maybe you are already in this situation. I’d like to invite you to read Pink’s book. It may help you get you into a better position, or at least using both sides of your brain.

28 January 2010

Fun Tool: Mind Mapping

Good day! I have seen this in practice, but I have just stumbled upon a really great way to organize your thoughts: mind mapping. Free software does exist: MindNode. A word to the wise, this is for Macs.

I'm enjoying playing around with the software, trying to get a better grip on my job hunting strategies, tactics, and practices. I can see the benefits and uses of this tool.

For a more detailed explanation, you may enjoy this article by Chris Brogan.


24 January 2010


Without energy, it becomes impossible to be motivated even to complete the simplest tasks. This is one of the things that my life coach and I originally discussed. It is also a point taken by Gretchen Rubin, author of the blog and book entitled "The Happiness Project." (I highly recommend both the book and the blog.)

With this in mind, I have started going to bed at the same time every night, and mostly getting up around the same time in the morning. I am the sort that loves staying up late, but I'm not so great at getting up early. It's not that I can't get up early (I've had jobs where I have to be at work at 5:30 am), but rather that I choose not to. Keeping a routine (not my cup of tea) has given me one major benefit: energy.

There was a time in Japan where I would go to bed at 1 am or so and get up at 6 am. Essentially, I felt like Edward Norton's character in "Fight Club," which led him to invent Tyler Durden in his sleep deprived state. In other words, I felt like the walking dead. I then realized that I needed a bedtime. Hallucinations did not seem like a good choice even if they mustered the likes of Brad Pitt.

This go-round has not been as bad as when I was in Japan, but I had been noticing that I have not been nearly as chipper or motivated as I would like to be. Now I have energy almost all day long. Before I started this bedtime regime, I would get extremely tired in the middle of the afternoon and could barely function. I mostly never feel this way any more. If I get sleepy, it is not nearly as intense as it was before the new schedule.

As I have no job and the economy is not exactly booming, this means that I really need to pour copious amounts of energy into the search. It also allows me to take care of other tasks that I would not have vigor for otherwise. Energy equates to life force and productivity.

21 January 2010

2 Steps Forward, 1 Step Back

I have made some progress this week, despite not having made a Week 3 goals list. I am slowly checking off things from Weeks 1 & 2 that I did not in fact cross-off the list.

Yesterday, I picked up my file cabinet that my sister had been maintaining for me since my move to Japan in 2005. I thought it might be time to organize it, find missing items (a couple of important photos from Japan amongst other things), and see if I needed to take care of other items of business that I may have forgotten about over the years. As an organizational freak, I also like the idea of having my stuff all in one location, neatly stored, and easy to access.

In other words, I have not been moving as forward in the job search as I would like. However, I have been laying ground work to make progress more smooth. It's just as I mentioned previously, kaizen (small but meaningful steps) help tremendously in both the job search and life as a whole.

Forward ho!!!

18 January 2010

Week 2 of Life Coaching

Week 2 started out great. I had a list of goals, nothing too overwhelming, enthusiasm, and motivation. On Sunday, I woke up on time, felt great, got a lot done....

With Monday came a screeching halt. I wasn't in the mood to job hunt, but I knew that a little here and a little there adds up. I managed to contact a couple of recruiters, applied for a job or two, and did have some progress in the general arena.

I went back to my home town for the weekend. It was just to get away from my grind and do some much needed shopping and socializing. It really felt great. It was nice not to have to think about it all.

Now, it's Week 3. I don't have any goals written out, but I do at least have a couple in mind. That's positive, but not as much as I was hoping for. I also feel that worrying about it will only exacerbate the situation, so I basically took today off because 1. it's a national holiday 2. I need to not always be thinking about searching for a job.

I'll let you know about how Week 3 turns out. 頑張ります。

13 January 2010

Book Review: "Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us"

It's as Seth Godin states in Tribes, "The only thing that makes people and organizations great is their willingness to be not great along the way. The desire to fail on the way to reaching a bigger goal is the untold secret of success," (page 108). Is failing really that big of a deal????
Essentially, Tribes is a new spin on a common business topic, leadership. The book incorporates ways to use newly developed technology to gain better leverage.
Points to consider:
  • "Heretics are the new leaders. The ones who challenge the status quo, who get out in front of tribes, who create movements….By challenging the status quo, a cadre of heretics is discovering that one person, just one, can make a huge difference,” (page 11).
  • “Too many organizations care about numbers, not fans….What they’re missing is the depth of commitment and interconnection that true fans deliver,” (page 33).
  • “Whatever the status quo is, changing it gives you the opportunity to be remarkable,” (page 35).
  • "You don't have enough time to be both unhappy and mediocre," (page 101).
  • “Change almost never fails because it’s too early. It almost always fails because it’s too late,” (page 119).
  • “The tactics of leadership are easy. The art (of execution) is the difficult part,” (page 121).
  • “Hope without a strategy doesn’t generate leadership,” (page 122).
In summary, I enjoyed Godin's offerings. He boils it down simply and realistically. So why not get out there, find your passion, and lead your own tribe??? It's time to get happy, be productive and make a difference (if nothing else to your own life).
P.S. We should not be afraid to make mistakes as it is part of the learning curve. The Economist also points to the same phenomena of failure of businesses within the U.S. with its "enlightened attitude to corporate bankruptcy is designed to put economic resources back to productive use as quickly as possible....America’s generosity to capitalism’s losers has served it remarkably well.... It has also helped provide America with its entrepreneurial edge," per the article "Making a Success of Failure."
The message: don’t be afraid to fail.

10 January 2010

Week 1 of Life Coaching

Week One went well. I've decided to start from the big picture and work my way down as a job search strategy. I'll start with a city, see if I like what I read about as far as lifestyle, and then research industries and sectors. I'll troll the local newspapers, job boards, and specific companies.

I came to understand my underlying hopes and fears about this job mission. I felt overwhelmed by the amount of choices I have and disappointed that I most likely will not be able to overseas in my chosen field immediately. Thus, having to stay in the U.S., I have to decide where might best suit my lifestyle and a place that I will enjoy living in (not an easy task). I need a "holistic" approach--thinking of my whole life, my whole mind. I do not want to compromise on just getting a job just to get one. I want something that I'll be happy with.

I read over 800 job postings last week just to get my feet wet and compiled a list of employers in Boston that are in capital markets or management consulting. I focused on Bank of New York Mellon (BNY Mellon) just to start somewhere. I found one post of particular interest.

As I applied on-line, I realized a flaw in my plan. I had yet to receive any letters of recommendation nor did I have any references. That's not to say that I have not actually asked people, I just have not followed up for some reason. Sometimes, I just think about other things and did not think about that I had nothing tangible to give potential employers. I was able to obtain one letter by the end of the week, but my goal is to have two for the application. It's only a minor setback.

Using the momentum of week 1, I feel that week 2 will also go well. After completing my goals for week 1, I feel better, more upbeat, and more confident that this process will go better than expected. I think that my most hated task is looking for a job. With my life coach's help, I think that I will actually enjoy the process.

05 January 2010

Life Coach

I was recently advised that perhaps when job searching that I need to report to someone about my progress. I thought this to be an excellent idea, but when weighing options, realized that most of the people I am able to see in person is limited. And those people happen to be either related to me or busy or both. While I love my family dearly, it is harder for me to explain myself to them. I think that is probably the case with a lot of people.

Thus, I have asked an intelligent, wonderful, and inspirational friend to be my life coach. Just knowing that she's supporting me has done wonders in the past for me. I have found myself on amazing adventures by implementing her philosophies. She is a source of inspiration through her suggestions and actions. I asked her to be my life coach despite the fact that she lives on a different continent. I am very thankful for Skype and e-mail to make this possible.

In turn, she asked that I do the same for her. I am, of course, more than happy to help her and honored as well. Together, I think that we will be able to accomplish more of our individual goals and get more creative with our solutions. It's another exciting new adventure and I have someone to accompany me on it. I am very grateful for that.

01 January 2010


Happy New Year!!!! I hope 2010 brings us all joy and success in our endeavors.
I believe that improvisation is a key to flexible thinking. I don’t always have the “perfect” tools or what would be ideal for every situation. Think MacGyver.

For example, if you’re a music lover, but have a small budget, how can you hear and get new music? One solution is to subscribe to a song of the day podcast (KEXP is good one). Another is to go to a local music store and listen to the cd’s that are available to listen to for free. Perhaps a visit to your local library.

Apply this concept to other areas in your life. In general, I’m a bit of an organizational freak. Maybe your chair is old, stained, and nasty even though you just started. You could ask if there is some sort of storage that holds other office furniture. I once procured a nice, leather chair this way. Maybe there you can create a fun, inspirational figurine from magnets. Ambiance helps me get more done in my cubey. Organizing helps productivity, but the budget isn’t always there to back it. Get creative! Start scrounging and put on those thinking caps.

Improvisation is good for expanding the mind, using resources wisely, and creating wonderful new inventions or works of art. In an ideal world, each of us would have the perfect tool for every situation. The reality is, we need to work within our limitations (often budget constraints) to accomplish our goals. Improvisation helps redesign our thinking and therefore our lives. Who knows what you can do with dental floss, a paperclip, and some tape until you try. (My sister fixed a broken shower rod this way.)