Now I don't know about you but I rarely pick up and read a book. I think I've found three pretty good excuses for that.
One, I don't really find the time to read even though I do spend at least one hour per day commuting but seem to find it more interesting to just stare out the window of the bus or refresh my Facebook feed 6 times per minute.
Two, I have been self-diagnosed with the attention span comparable to that of a pigeon. No offence to the kingdom of poultry.
Three, I'm more of a visual kind of guy, static letters don't seem to really do it for me. I'm usually one of the first people to say 'I'll wait for the movie'. I have been waiting pretty long for some movies to make it to the big screen.
I'm writing this blog overlooking Nai Harn beach in Phuket, Thailand. I'm absolutely loving this place and wanted to show you some of its beauty while you're reading through this blog.
Here's our first glimpse of the Nai Harn Resort just after sunset as our airport transfer pulled in to the entrance of this hillside paradise.
We awoke to the sounds of silence, our eyelids unforgivingly pried open by the persistent glowing rays of sunlight flooding our room (whoops, forgot to close the curtains last night). We gave in, the day was beckoning for us to get up and be part of it. So, without too much resistance we gladly obliged and headed out to the expansive terrace to see what view was in store for us.
Framed nicely at the end of the terrace was a picture perfect image of the sea and its surrounding landscapes as if plucked straight from the cover of a glossy travel magazine.
Besides the amazing beach (especially the opposite end to the resort), the resort's pool and chilaxing areas were just what the doctor ordered.
Did we mention that we're suckers for a great view. Well, the resort planners had us and kindred spirits in mind when they created the bar terrace space. Sunsets are so underrated. Just perfect!
Nothing better than this place to gather my thoughts and put pen to paper. Sometimes I do feel bad about not reading much, in particular when I talk to people who are reading books as fast as they blink. While I'm hearing them listing the inventory of their portfolio, I'm anxiously trying to think of anything insightful to say. My standard reply in most cases is to refer to the book I last read, that was a little while ago. Don't get me wrong, I do read and try to continue to learn new things, just not through books full of lengthy pages.
A few weeks ago I was engaged in a fun conversation with a lady I had just met in Berlin. When we started talking about books, alarm bells instantly started to ring inside my head. Taking a huge risk of potentially ending our conversation very suddenly, I bluntly said that I just don't have the time to read... bam! And then there was silence... but not for long. By miracle she replied: 'Thank god, I haven't read a book in ages and I thought that I was the only one who didn't read'. A bond was instantly formed, we were on the same page.
When I do read - once in a blue moon - I prefer to read things related to communication skills, entrepreneurship, personal growth or motivation. I'm not saying that I'm a star in all of these areas but I do aspire to be good at them. One of the things that frustrates me sometimes though is that these books often tend to be way longer than they should be. I'm sure that in many books, the same insights could be conveyed in a much more to-the-point way that people will actually remember. Maybe when a writer finishes a book, they should be like 'right, let's now get rid of all the bla-bla and reduce the content by at least 50%'. I just started using the Blinkist App, it provides excellent summaries of many popular books. For people like me this is a blessing in disguise as it allows me to learn new things in the nick of time. Yey.
I have come across a few books that did succeed to keep my attention to the very end, or almost, and have given me inspiration in how I manage my personal life, enjoy things, operate at work, come up with ideas for my fashion label Staunton Moods, or simply new business ideas.
I wanted to share a few examples of inspiring things I've read, seen or heard that made an impact on me and which may get your interest as well.
RICH DAD, POOR DAD BY ROBERT KIYOSAKI & SHARON LECHTER, 1997
In a nutshell, this book talks about a kid who's been influenced throughout his childhood by two kinds of Dads. His own Dad and the Dad of one of his best friends. His Dad, the 'Poor' Dad, is pretty risk averse. He has the belief that life is about working hard, ideally in a safe government job, paying bills as soon as they come in, buying a property to live in, saving money and finally reaping the benefits of all that hard work upon retirement.
The 'Rich' Dad is a risk taker, an entrepreneur who believes in having money work for him. He has his own business and also invests in various properties. Rich Dad pays his bills as late as possible, usually on the due date so that money can stay in his hands as long as possible and can be used for investing in the meantime.
There is no right or wrong in both Dads' approaches as it all depends on who you are as a person and the level of risk you are prepared to take to achieve things in life. I recognised parts of myself in both characters and got a better understanding on the Rich Dad vs Poor Dad balance that works best for me. Another key lesson is to focus more on advice taken from people who have actual experience in the area in which they are advising you.
The time put into reading this book was certainly well invested as I got heaps of new ideas for businesses.
THE SECRET BY RHONDA BYRNE, 2006
I can hear some teeth grinding by those who have read this book or watched the documentary and didn't like it. I love positive thinking and this is what The Secret is all about. Your thoughts should focus on what you want in life and certainly not on what you don't want. What you think about, you bring about. If you think positive thoughts such as your ideal lifestyle, physique or social life, you will attract more of that into your life. The same applies to thinking the opposite of what you want, that's what you'll attract.
Even though I thought that the documentary was great and I have watched it several times over the years, there are a few instances where it does come across as a bit too high level and gives the impression of lacking a little scientific substance. However, if you have watched 'What The Bleep Do We Know', The Secret makes perfect sense as it talks about 'behavioural' changes manifesting into tangible results. The process of how that works is scientifically explained in the next documentary.
WHAT THE BLEEP DO WE KNOW!?, 2004 AND WHAT THE BLEEP DO WE KNOW - DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE BY TOO MANY PEOPLE TO LIST, 2006
I'll keep the summary of this one very brief as I could lose you down the rabbit hole as well trying to explain it. In addition I'm not an expert in this topic so it could become messy. I encourage you to watch both documentaries that talk about the manifestation of change through a very fancy term called quantum physics! The way in which you think has an influence on how you feel and ultimately has a real impact on your body and even it's smallest cells. Golly!
THE 4-HOUR WORKWEEK BY TIM FERRISS, 2007
I have to be honest, I haven't entirely finished this book yet but I like what I've read so far. Tim talks about how you can get the work equivalent of a 5 day week done in just 4 hours per week by taking a smarter approach to how you work. FYI, can you notice that the further you progress through the book overviews in this blog, the shorter the summaries are becoming? Maybe I should produce a movie as well out of this blog just to cater for my own attention span needs.
AND THEN MY FAVOURITE OF ALL - TEDTALKS!
Being a little bit ignorant again, I thought that TedTalks were a very recent thing, maximum a couple of years old. To my surprise, TED was actually founded in 1984! I also just Googled what TED stands for, it's not just a cool name but it means Technology, Entertainment and Design. If you didn't know that, there's your insight of the day.
Two TedTalks have truly caught my attention in the past few months.
HOW GREAT LEADERS INSPIRE ACTION BY SIMON SINEK
This guy could be reading the phone book and I'd probably remain on the edge of my seat till we reach the letter Z. This talk covers what makes companies successful and how they inspire action. The approach to success can be summarised into three simple steps; what you sell, how you sell, and why you sell.
When most companies communicate with their customers, the usual approach is to firstly focus on what they sell, could be either phones, computers, t-shirts, holidays. Then they go into how they sell it. Think about where you buy your products, in a fancy store, online, or how it's packaged. Finally they conclude with the why - why do they sell this?
Every company should cover each of these three steps in their communication with customers. However, the time dedicated to each and how they are being prioritised usually is in the wrong order. Simon's key message is that what people 'buy' is the 'Why' and not the 'What'. Therefore companies should be thinking about their why, their purpose, and lead with this as they engage with their prospects and customers.
Companies that have been very successful in this approach are Apple and Tesla. We can also think beyond companies, some people have excelled at this. Martin Luther King is a great example as he managed to inspire many people through a dream he had.
Watching this TedTalk has also given me time to reflect upon the purpose of Staunton Moods which is not just about making shirts and scarves, it's about making people look and feel great.
YOUR BODY LANGUAGE SHAPES WHO YOU ARE, AMY CUDDY
I sometimes receive compliments when I speak in public but personally I do not enjoy it that much - the speaking in public part that is - whereas the compliments I'm very excited about. Being on stage often makes me feel self-conscious and I get shocked by the sound of my own voice blasting through a speaker. It's not my favourite sound.
Watching Amy's TedTalk has taught me some tricks to overcome this unease and enjoy speaking in public a lot more.
It's very simple but note that you may feel extremely silly the first time you do this and check the room for any hidden cameras. The thing to do is to take on a few power poses prior to your performance, just for a few minutes and most certainly not in front of the audience you're about to talk to. I've used my hotel room for this and even public toilets that can be a pretty discrete location for this. The simple act of taking on these poses creates a chemical reaction in your body and translates into a change of your behaviour and how people perceive you publicly.
I tried it and it works for me. Going to keep this one up my sleeve and always be at the ready when it's needed.
Time for me to wrap-up this blog, I hope you have enjoyed it and if you did, I'd be very grateful if you'd share this with anyone you think that could benefit from reading this.
Life is good.
Dieter De Keijser