Thursday, December 23, 2004

101 Ways to Nourish Your Soul

The Manila Times
Business Times p.B1
Thursday, December 23, 2004

By Moje Ramos-Aquino
Nourishing the soul

Dalawang tulog na lang at Pasko na. Let’s put our discussion of the balanced Scorecard at the back burner meantime and concentrate on this very special occasion of the birthday of Jesus.

Let’s take cues from Mitch Finley’s book, 101 Ways to Nourish Your Soul, on how best we could commemorate this Holy day.

• Be generous to the point of extravagance. How much money do you intend to use this season for your “wants”? Why not give it to someone who could use it for “essentials.” Give it to somebody you don’t know and doesn’t know you and don’t tell that person it came from you. I am sure you will be rewarded with wide smile, bright face and unadulterated happiness.

• You could give your time generously. Baby-sit for a neighbor who could not go to Mass because she has little child/children or old-sit for a senior citizen in your neighborhood. You and the children and oldies could delight in rereading the story of Jesus’ birth and childhood. Con todo action y emotion. Or simply spend more time with your spouse and children, instead of attending every party in town.

• Take a walk. Instead of just sitting down there waiting for visitors, move! I had a most peaceful Christmas last year in Batangas. After Mass, we spent the rest of the day and early evening swimming in the clean, clear waters of Anilao and walking barefoot on sand and rocks. Since we were not expecting visitors, we cooked only enough and did not have to eat leftovers the following days.

• Make your own Quesadillas. Here’s a recipe from the Victor-Roldan Family (Marivic, Anna, Patricia and Mommy). Top one piece soft tortilla with chopped tomatoes, garlic and onions; grated or sliced mozzarella cheese; thinly sliced beef or pork or tuna or chicken; another layer of mozzarella; sandwich with another tortilla piece. Cook in greaseless pan or oven toaster on both sides. Cut into four. Serve hot. You can prepare ingredients days ahead and store them in the ref. These could be eaten for snacks or meals.

• Give up bitterness, resentment, whining, blaming and hopelessness. “Life is a mix of good and bad, happy and sad. You have to expect that sometimes life will kick sand in your face. So what? Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back to living. So things didn’t work out the way you hope they would. All the same, you can try something else.”

• Fast. “We have a thing about food. We eat not just for body and soul togetherness. We also eat because we have nothing else to do at the moment. We eat for recreational purposes. We eat food when what we crave most is friendship or simple companionship. We eat when we crave love. We eat when we crave God. Hard to believe, but we do. Whatever you can get a handle on, don’t eat between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., for example. Or make it a full 24 hours. That can be good.” If you have health problems, consult your doctor first.

Here are some Christmas wishes from our friends and readers.

• Vic Navales, past president of Cebu’s Durian Toastmasters Club and president of Navales Foods: May Good Lord give us all the courage and will to surmount problems. May He give us peace and happiness.

• Gigie PeƱalosa, president of VCP Trading International: PEACE and PROGRESS—for our country and for ourselves. POLITICAL WILL on the part of our country’s leaders—to weed out graft and corruption at all levels and in all forms. The simple blessings of love, peace, togetherness and good health for my family and friends.

• Abe Pagtama, Filipino and Hollywood actor: for this coming year, more commercial and acting gig.

• Michael Chua, TM District 75 governor: My wish is for Philippine Toastmasters to regain the limelight in the world. What I wish for then is for more toastmaster clubs to be built in the coming weeks. Not only will we go up the rankings—the organization can touch more lives and make them better.

• Nic L. Lim, director for Human Resources at Universal Robina Corp.: For our government to take on our HR Agenda for Nation Building and help us make a call for a united action. For our government to pursue a united approach in addressing our key issues as a nation. For the Filipino people in general to instill discipline and involvement in contributing to making the Philippines a better place to live in. For world peace.

Merry Christmas from Bangkok, Thailand! No translation in Thai language because they don’t celebrate Christmas here like we do.

(Please send your Christmas wishes to

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Peacock in the Land of Penguins, Glass Ceiling, Way of Go, Lean Against The Wind

Favorite Books
By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Paradigms & Paradoxes Corporation

A Peacock in the Land of Penguins: A fable about creativity and courage
By BJ Gallagher Hateley and Warren H. Schmidt
(Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc)

Dancing on the Glass Ceiling
By Candy Deemer and Nancy Fredericks
(McGraw-Hill Companies)

The Way of Go: 8 ancient strategy secrets for success in business and life
By Troy Anderson
(Simon & Schuster, Inc)

Lean Against the Wind: How to Face the Future
By James McKarns
(St. Pauls Philippines)

These past years have been terrifying and trying times. We encountered many and unsought crises after crises: environmental disasters, economic meltdowns, dreaded diseases, bankruptcies of the mind and pocket, disappearing resources, wanton promiscuity and many others.

So how do we face the future courageously? Let’s take some cues from famous authors.

“Laugh often,” says James McKarns. “Laughter has been called the “sunshine of the soul. It produces warmth, light-heartedness, friendliness and is a pleasant means of sharing with others. Humor and consequent laughter melts away many icy tensions and frustrations which otherwise could grind us to a mental and emotional halt. It has been said that when we have a serious problem, the second best thing to do, next to finding a solution, is to find humor in it. That enables us to be accepting or, at least, more patient until a real solution is discovered.”

McKarns related the story of former “Saturday Review” editor Norman Cousins who suffered the advanced stages of a connective tissues disease and whose chances of recovery were diagnosed as poor. Cousins took on a steady diet of old Marx Brothers movies and some of the Candid Camera shows and laughed his way to enduring good health. “That internal doctor is no joke. We begin the healing process by believing in the God-given curative powers of our own bodies and minds. If we encourage our minds and bodies to heal themselves, they will.”

McKarns strongly advocates a selective mental diet of hope, kindness, gentleness and concern for others to turn us into better people with higher motives and loftier ideals. He observes that the thoughts we think, more than the food we eat, shape us into what we really are.

Likewise, Troy Underson suggests a pro-active and direct approach to the future culled from his studies of the ancient game called Go, also called “game of geniuses.” In this overly competitive world, he shares essential elements of strategy and competition he culled from the game. Playing the game is like participating in the TV reality show of Donald Trump.
• How to make use of limited resources and time to produce the largest gain
• Which initiatives to continue and which to abandon
• When to lead and when to follow your opponent
• How to weigh competing interests among different units
• How to enter a market where the competition is already well established
• How to proceed t o ensure success if the competition enters your market
• How to create a strategic plan when the market changes quickly
• How to go global but think locally

Underson says 27 million people have played the game including Mao Tse Tung, Bill Gates and John Nash (A Beautiful Mind). He includes instructions on how to play the game and how to prepare the board for two players.

I love fables and I love “A Peacock in the Land of the Penguins.” University of California professor Judy Rosener rave review: “I loved it! This is an engaging tale of the challenges and dilemmas faced by those who are different as they struggle for success and fulfillment—as well as the challenges and dilemmas of those who are members of the power elite in today’s organizations, Truly a fable for our times.”

In Part II Tips and Tools for Feathered Friends is a simple test to determine if you are a peacock or other type of exotic bird that goes:

• Do you frequently feel like you don’t fit in—that you are different in some fundamental way?
• Do you get criticized for not being a team player (a euphemism for not conforming to group norms)?
• Do you feel pressured by your boss or others to change in some significant way to fit in?
• Do you feel ostracized, lonely, left out of the loop of information and decision-making?
• Are you unable to identify with anyone as a role model at the top of your organization?
• Do you often feel under- or unappreciated for your talent and skill, while others who are less talented get promoted and rewarded?
• Do you often try to figure out “what’s wrong with me”?
• Do you feel stifled, stuck, frustrated by some unseen “system”?
• Are you frequently ignored, interrupted, or discounted when you make comments or suggestions at meetings?

Now, get the book (Third Edition) to know if you are a peacock, a penguin or a struggler. It is good to know so could play Go cleverly. Take a cue or two on how to unleash your creativity and assert your individualism in the land where conformity is rule.

Speaking of orthodoxy, women generally feel they must and try to fit into the accepted, masculine-driven pattern of business. In Dancing on the Glass Ceiling, authors Candy Deemer and Nancy Fredericks teach women how to utilize the power and effectiveness of playing like a woman.

First, women should accept the fact that they are grandly different from men and “dance on the glass ceiling rather than muscle your way through it..” Deemer and Fredericks writes, “This shift in thinking can have an enormous impact on the outside world. It’s called the ‘butterfly effect.’ Research has shown that a single butterfly fluttering its wings in China has the potential to magnify the resulting airflow throughout the world, even affecting weather in the United States.”

The authors challenges women, thus, if a butterfly can do all that, imagine the power that women have to create results in their own career and in their own company simply by allowing themselves to follow a more natural pathway to success—a feminine pathway.

They observe that women seemed to gravitate instinctively toward certain leadership behaviors that were not even on the radar screens of most men, such as intuitive decision making, the special talent for nurturing subordinates and the automatic ability to interpret both the verbal and nonverbal layers of communication. “Yet neither the women nor their organizations recognized the powerful role these assets play in fueling the companies’ success.”

With these in mind, let us welcome 2005 with all our optimism and confidence! God promised He will bless and keep us always. Let’s make that happen.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Change Without Pain..., and, Don’t Oil the Squeaky Wheel

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM

Change Without Pain: How managers can overcome initiative overload, organizational chaos and employee burnout
By Eric Abrahamson
(Harvard Business School Press, 2004)

Don’t Oil the Squeaky Wheel: And 19 other contrarian ways to improve your leadership effectiveness
By Wolf J. Rinke, Ph.D.
McGraw-Hill Company, 2004)

What are some of the growing adversities that we experience today in our organization? Initiatives overload that are often start and stop, flavor-of-the-month-with-little-follow-through type programs. Repetitive changes that result in chaos. No change at all or status quo for a long stretch of time.

What are some of the effects of these malaise? General anxiety, cynicism and burnout. Loss of organizational memory. Resistance to and from change. Organizational paralysis and demotivation. Important organizational issues are sidestepped and priorities are misplaced. Organization mired in forming and storming stages of team development.

For example, Eric Abrahamson cited many dysfunctional consequences of downsizing:
• Destruction of employee and customer trust and loyalty
• Loss of personal relationships between employees and customers
• Disruptions of smooth, predictable routines in the firm
• Increase in and formalization of rules, standardization and rigidity
• Decrease in creativity
• Loss of interpersonal interactions over time, leading to decreased cross-unit and cross-level knowledge.
• Less documentation and, therefore, less sharing of information about changes
• Loss of employee productivity
• Loss of common organizational culture
• Loss of innovativeness
• Increased resistance to change
• Decreasing employee moral, commitment and loyalty
• Escalation of politicized special-interest groups and political infighting
• Risk aversion and conservatism in decision making
• Increased costs and redundancies
• Increasing interpersonal conflict
• Negative effects on the personal health of employees, e.g., increases in headaches, stomach problems, and elevated blood pressure, as well as reports of increased drinking and smoking
• Increases in negative psychological symptoms, e.g., anxiety, depression, insomnia, feelings of helplessness, cognitive difficulties
• Loss of self-esteem, loss of self-mastery, dissatisfaction with self, pessimism, powerlessness and rigidity
• Decrease in family cohesion, increases in conflict, decline in spouses’ psychological well-being, increases in domestic arguments, deteriorating family climate and a sevenfold increase in divorce and separation.

What are some ways we can save our organization from these creative destructions?

Eric Abrahamson suggests a range of hands-on tools and techniques in the areas of:
People: how to redeploy rather than downsize talent.
Processes: How to salvage rather than reengineer.
Structure: how to recombine rather than reorganize organizational parts
Culture: How to revive rather than reinvent core values
Social Networks: How to leverage rather than automate human networks.

As leaders, what can you personally do? To increase your leadership effectiveness in times of changes and at all times, Wolf Rinke proposes these: be selfish, don’t manage people, don’t be proud, don’t be tough, don’t play to win,, don’t prove yourself, practice kick in desire, not kick in the ass, don’t have people work for you, don’t focus on bottomline, trust all people all the time, don’t worry about pay, don’t tell people what to do, don’t downsize, don’t respond to the urgent, don’t be committed.

Particularly, Dr. Rinke asserts not to oil the squeaky wheels or those habitual troublemakers, whiners and blamers. Instead, he advises these steps:

• Take complete responsibility. Make formal announcement that as of a certain date the mantra of your organization is: If it’s to be, it’s up to me. Put this mantra on business-card size cards and distribute to all employees. Then consistently take complete responsibility for all your actions and insist that everyone else do the same.
• Reject the word “try.” Don’t accept the word “try.” Try provides for built-in failure before anyone starts. Even a lack of success will meet the requirements employees have set for themselves. After all, they did try. On the other hand, “Will” demonstrates commitment, action and a high probability of success.
• Stamp out blame-game conversations. If necessary, make up posters with the words “blame game” crossed as as in traffic signs. Anytime someone engages in this behavior, point to the poster.
• Remind yourself often. Pay attention to what you are recognizing and rewarding. Always keep in mind that over the long term, whatever you reward is what you will get more of, whatever you ignore will go away, and whatever you punish will not be repeated, at least not while you are around.
• Foster independent actions. When team members bring you their problems—especially those who complain all the time—ask them to bring you one to three options or solutions for every problem. Then ask them to function as the “primary mover” who puts together a cross-functional team that will address the problem.
• Get people to work together. When people are undermining each other, call every one together and ask them what will it take to get them to work together as a team.
• Place people in positions that enable them to build their strengths. Find out what your team members love to do, and do everything in your power to place them in those positions.
• Avoid competition. Have people compete against themselves or against standards. Avoid having people compete against each other within the same organization. Losers becomes demoralized and will pull everyone around them down.
• Do what’s unpopular. Strive to have team members respect you, not like you. When you want everyone to like you, you avoid the tough decisions, you avoid confronting the people who need to be confronted, you avoid offering differential rewards based on differential performance because some people might get upset. Treating everyone equally regardless of contributions will anger your most productive team members.
• As a last resort, resolve conflicts. Serious conflict seldom, if ever, resolves itself.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Making Work Work (Jaeger)

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
President, Paradigms & Paradoxes Corporation

MAKING WORK WORK for the Highly Sensitive Person
By Barrie Jaeger, Ph.D.
The McGraw-Hill Companies

One of our strong cultural orientation, but definitely not a strength, is our sense of personalism. This attitude makes us sense things through the senses and emotions, feel deeply and connect emphatically with others. The boundaries between individuals and the environment are frequently blurred. This is where a lot of conflict at work begins.

Dr. Jaeger describes a highly sensitive person as having a heightened awareness of the environment, thereby, picking up more subtle details, information, and stimulation with great intensity that impacts one’s perception of self. It means taking things too personally, that you worry so much or give importance to the slightest change in language or gesture.

Dr. Jaeger suggests taking this Workplace Sensitivity Test (developed by Stephanie T. Machell, Psy.D, Catherine Post, CSW and Dr. Jaeger) that covers many areas we are most likely to be highly sensitive at work. As you look at the items, work experiences may come to mind, or not.

The scoring is visual, so you do not have to give yourself an absolute number. Take it at a time of quiet and reflection. There is no perfect answer. This is an opportunity to know yourself and look at the bigger picture of how you experience work as a Sensitive Person. You may want to take this test again at different stages of your life.

Scoring: Low (0), Medium (5) and high (10).

 I often accommodate the needs of others at the expense of my own
 I am often tempted to withdraw or actually do withdraw rather than deal with conflict
 I have been told that I can be overwhelming to others
 I feel out-of-synch with the prevailing cultural norms
 I have been made uncomfortable or even unwell by environmental conditions that don’t seem to affect others
 I have been told I’m too intense
 I have been told I’m too serious
 I continue to process experiences long after they’re over
 At times, I take on more than I can realistically do because everything sounds so interesting.
 I need more sleep than most people
 Having a busy schedule or too many days overwhelms me, even if I enjoy all that I am doing and want to do it
 I can see all sides of an issue, not just the one I prefer/agree with
 I notice small changes in others and my environment
 I become readily absorbed in what I am doing
 If you ask me for 50 different uses for a break I could give 75
 I find it hard to walk away from things
 I have strong attachment to people, places, things
 My mind goes blank when I’m caught on the spot
 I am deeply disturbed by others insensitivities
 I find it hard to do things that don’t interest me
 I cry when I’m angry/overwhelmed more easily than others
 I need time alone
 Sometimes I feel like a raw exposed nerve
 I’m afraid of infringing on other’s rights if I asked for mine
 I am excessively aware of others feelings
 I need work congruent with my values
 I have a bizarre sense of humor
 I am good at calming and pressuring others
 I pick up the feelings others don’t acknowledge having
 Others’ moods—and even their presence—affects me
 I sometimes feel irritable/overwhelmed around others without knowing why

In subsequent chapters, Dr. Jaeger offers Checklists for Drudgery and Craft and suggests ways of dealing with our sensitivity and take time to heal.
• Pay attention to subtle shifts that tell us it is time to bring down the stimulation
• Manage your stress. Don’t ignore your feelings, define them. What do you need to feel a little happy?
• Build and use skills of depth processing, self-awareness, personal discoveries, building long-lasting relationships with others. Stop comparing yourself to others. Stay at the moment and stop trying to keep pace with life.
• Use humor to help you unwind, relax and heal.
• Recognize what isn’t working for you and move toward what does. Find work that stimulates you, where you could learn new skills, poses reasonable challenges and provides a decent income.
• Communicate with others without feeling vulnerable, too open and exposed and let others see you a little more clearly

This is where HR could help their high performing, high potential employees avoid being derailed by their over sensitivity. I also would like to recommend the other books whose covers are on this page.
 How to Work for an Idiot: survive and thrive without killing your boss by John Hoover (Career Press)
 Enlightened Office Politics: understanding, coping with and winning the game—without losing your soul by Michael Dobson and Deborah Dobson (AMACOM)
 Cultural Intelligence: people skills for global business by David Thomas and Kerr Inkson (Berrett-Koehler Publishers)
 Managing Effectively consisting of four handbooks: The New Management Handbook, How to Motivate Every Employee, Leadership When the Heat’s On and Dealing with Difficult People (The McGraw-Hill Companies)

Monday, August 16, 2004

No Scrupples

By Moje Ramos-Aquino

No Scrupples? Managing to be responsible in a turbulent world
General Editor: Roger Cowe
(Spiro Press USA)

At CNBC last Sunday evening, the very young and dapper owner-president of Thai Express declared assertively that one cannot stay long in business if he is in business primarily for money, pride or ego. He said that to stay long in business and compete globally, one must love what he’s doing and must be fair to his employees and customers.

Enron Corporation, Baladjay, Multinational Telephone Investors Corporation (Multitel), Halliburton, Mateo Management Group, Worldcom, ICS Exports, Tyco, Ma. Teresa Santos Trading, Tibayan Group, Ponzi, Power Homes, Patrick Corporation, Marcopper, and many others similarly situated. What do they have in common?

One fantastic read if you are interested in the business of your company and how you could enhance your HR function and help make your company more “fair” to your employees and your customers or if you are thinking of investing your hard-earned money is the book, No Scruples? Managing to be responsible in a turbulent world. edited by Roger Cowe.

Let me share with you this Foreword by Will Hutton, chief executive of The Work Foundation and author.

“The idea that private business organizations are sovereign fiefdoms with no obligation to their workforces or customers, other than the dictates of profit maximization, is in historical terms very curious—even eccentric.

“The act of incorporation in all capitalist societies was originally conceived as winning a license to trade in return for the acceptance of obligations set out by the government of the day. The notion that corporation status somehow conferred absolute privileges, and that society should be grateful for the existence of corporations, would have struck early capitalists as absurd. Society and company were intertwined.

“The same was true throughout the 20th century, at least until the collapse of communism. Companies were mindful that they had a core economic and social purpose that was the reason for their existence, and from the pursuit of which they made profits. Unilever, typically, set out to make the best ‘every day things for every day folk,’ while every American company had founding document setting out its economic rationale and moral purpose. In the competition with communism it was vital that companies sought legitimacy, and they accepted their obligations willingly as part of their license to trade.

It is only over the last 20 years that the doctrine has been born that companies are solely in business to maximize shareholder value, and devil take the hindmost. Yet the businesses and wider societies this doctrine is generating are unlovely and much criticized—even while we, through our pension fund, and insurance companies, own the majority of company equity. We need to remind corporations that they are embedded in society, enjoy its fruits, and must recognize its rules. They are not somehow important that they are above the law—nor should the law be shaped to reflect their sole needs.

“In No Scruples? a range of authors from across the debate examine the current crisis in corporate status and attitudes, and call for a return to our roots.

“We have learned that markets operate better than their alternatives, but that does not mean that they and their corporate actors are above criticism or that they have no wider social obligations. No Scruples? urges the adoption of a different culture and attitude.

“Capitalism is far too valuable a system to be allowed to go feral on us, but that is where it is headed unless we all take more seriously the propositions advanced in this fascinating book.”

Being in business is like living in a fishbowl. Its impact on society will be scrutinized in ever-greater detail and with increasing sophistication. How companies fare and react to such scrutiny will be important to the “development of their reputation, their attractiveness to staff and investors, their relations with governments and their ability to retain consumer loyalty.”

As the teenager sitting next to you would say, “to be fair!” I wonder how many companies could pass such meticulous scrutiny and come out squeaky clean?

And to the HR professional, what will you do if your company is found unscrupulously wanting?

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Life is a Series of Presentations... (Jeary w/ Dower and Fishman)

Personnel Management Association of the Philippines
May 2004 Issue

Favorite Books
By Moje Ramos-Aquino
President, Paradigms & Paradoxes Corporation

Life Is a Series of Presentations: 8 Ways to Punch Up Your People Skills at Work, at Home, Anytime, Anywhere
By Tony Jeary with Kim Dower and JE Fishman
Simon & Schuster

The possibility “to change the contents of another person’s mind at a particular time and place” is, indeed, boundless. On a daily basis, there are numerous opportunities for us to advance our ideas, values, thoughts and feelings at home, at work, anytime, anywhere and influence the choices of our listeners.

What are common presentation opportunities that we take for granted?
• Talking to a an officemate in our or his/her cubicle
• Talking to a client on the telephone
• Participating in a meeting
• Leading a meeting
• Speaking to thousands of graduating students
• Delivering an after-dinner talk at a Rotary meeting
• Discussing the value of eating vegetable with your kids
• Saying no to your son’s request to use your car
• Convincing your spouse to switch the TV channel to CNBC
• And many others

In other words, every time you open your mouth to speak or to make a thumbs ups sign you are making a presentation.

In this book, author Tony Jeary writes that unless you’re a hermit living on a mountaintop, your life largely consists of your interactions with the people around you. He adds that whether you call them presentation skills or people skills, his eight essential practices will allow you to master any interaction, whether it involves a roomful of colleagues, a small group, or just one other person.

This book is a useful and handy reference for making a point and reaching out to our audience. More a skill than a talent, presenting, Mr. Jeary asserts, requires techniques and tactics. Instead of dominating or manipulating others, presenters should simply pursue desired outcomes with confidence.

One reviewer suggested the mnemonic IPRESENT to easily recall these techniques and tactics.

I – Involve your audience
P – Prepare your audience
R – Research your presentation arsenal
E – Explain why
S – State management: Achieve proper mental states
E – Eliminate unknowns and turn them into knowns
N – kNow your audience
T – Tailor your presentation throughout

Let us zero in on eliminating unknowns and turning them into knowns (Chapter 7, Essential 3: Conquer the Sum of All Fears). Mr. Jeary raised these very important points.

• Nervousness with regard to public speaking derives from what Carl Jung concluded was the hard-wired mother of all fears: fear of the unknown. Developing what-ifs scenarios will help turn these unknowns into known quantities and help us overcome some of our anxieties and uncertainties.
• By reducing that surprise element we can have a significant impact on the smoothness of our delivery. As the famous prayer goes, make sure to control that you can control, try not to bother with those you can not control and have the wisdom to know the difference.
• Plan what to say. The effectiveness of any presentation of any presentation depends greatly upon our confidence in the quality and appropriateness of our presentation’s content. Do your homework.
• You may use the technique of political mapping which is assessing the importance of various stakeholders in a meeting and determining the impact they may have on your desired outcomes. This technique involves considering every individual’s degree of potential influence on a decision or direction while also taking into account his or her existing position on the matter. This is especially valuable when you are dealing with emotional or highly controversial issues and need to anticipate specific positions or concerns in advance of the meeting.
• Take into account the environment (setting and physical set-up) and the context of the situation in which you are presenting. Bulletproof your presentation by determining the answers to the who, what, when, why, how, how much and what else questions of your presentation.
• Practice your presentation at every opportunity. Parrying with a mock audience may help appreciate how advanced your skill level is and instill further confidence
• If you have to make a team presentation, one of the ways to take the “unknown” of your partner’s performance to a “known” for you is by instilling confidence in your co-presenter.

Life, indeed, is a series of presentations. And we have these tips from Mr. Jeary and enough practice in our daily activities to prepare us for those big or career-enhancing presentations we make at work. Enjoy your presentations

Monday, June 14, 2004

Business Process Mapping (Jacka and Keller)

By Moje Ramos-Aquino
President, Paradigms & Paradoxes Corporation

In her Talk Asia show at CNN, Lorraine Hahn asked Giorgio Armani how he is now ensuring that his very successful Emporio Armani outlives him. Mr. Armani’s immediate reply was by structuring the company esp. the creative, commercial and financial processes and to manage the cash flow. And since he has no children to succeed him, he added that he is preparing many successors, not just one.

Indeed, how do we keep our high-potential and high-productive employees? How do we help employees be motivated? How do we foster a culture of service excellence for internal and external customers? How do we make sure that what we are doing and offering are what our customers want?

Otherwise, our employees will simply follow existing systems, processes and rules without question. How do we encourage learning & innovation at work when we emphasize strict compliance to policies and procedures. How many times do we get frustrated when we a service provider tells us, “sorry, that’s our policy,” instead of doing something to help us?

In the book, Business Process Mapping: Improving Customer Satisfaction, Authors J. Mike Jacka and Paulette J. Keller wrote about process mapping and evaluation as a powerful tool to ensure that true value is being provided to customers, both internal and external.

The authors cleverly used movie making as example to explain the subject of Process Mapping and made reading the book easy and fun. “At its core, the story of Pinocchio is a process. As all good processes do, it as an input (Geppetto carving a puppet and wishing it were a real boy), it has an output (Pinocchio becoming a real boy), and in between it has a series of events—the actions—that achieve that transformation. Disney’s animators documented that process by the use of story boarding.” Process Mapping is to business what storyboarding is to movies.

Having done these, the benefits derived from Process Mapping are:

1. It is a holistic approach that helps explore the interrelationships of processes in the entire organization.
2. It is accomplished in a way that allows all employees—from executives to line personnel, including janitors—to have buy-in to the finished product.
3. It helps employees understand how their work adds value and instill additional pride in their work.
4. It focuses on the customer, both the next process and the final user of the product, and how that person sees the company.

The book contains lots and lots of examples and easy step-by-step instructions. The four major steps are fully explained. The book jacket described them briefly as:

1. Process identification – attaining a full understanding of all the steps of a process.
2. Information gathering – identifying objectives, risks, and key controls in a process.
3. Interviewing and mapping – understanding the point of view of individuals in the process and designing actual maps.
4. Analysis – utilizing tools and approaches to make the process run more effectively and efficiently.

Included in the book are various specialized tools like questionnaires, process analysis worksheets, hierarchy/ownership maps, and the techniques to be used in developing effective process maps.

The challenge is not only to make it stick, but to glue it, as in the words of the authors, “drill it down.” The authors quote Professor Diane Ravitch of Columbia University Teachers College: “The person who knows “how” will always have a job. The person who knows “why” will always be his boss.

The book is a must for HROD people and others in the management level. It is also for all employees who want to take the initiative of improving their jobs, making it worthwhile to understand how their work makes the world a better place.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

What is nationalism? (Review on the Filipina Toral's McGraw-Hill book)

Patricia Evangelista, 19, Mass Communications sophomore of the University of the Philippines recently bested 59 student contestants from 37 countries in the 2004 International Public Speaking competition conducted by the English Speaking Union In London reports Alfred Yuson in the Philippine Star. Our thanks and congratulations to Patricia.

In her speech, Patricia said, "Nationalism isn't bound by time or place. People from other nations migrate to create new nations, yet still remain essentially who they are."

What is nationalism? How do you measure nationalism? How do you behave to show your nationalism?

Previously, candidates for elective positions in government would describe themselves as nationalists, patriots. In these recently concluded elections, I did not hear those words at all. Candidates talked about what they will do for the less fortunate Filipinos and these are mostly palliative solutions. Candidates talked about the burning issues of today—unemployment, oil price increases, corruption in government, rebellion in some areas of the country, possible poll cheatings, and the like, and what they will do in the first 100 days in office. Short-term, not visionary.

In the past, we eagerly await our Independence Day. We prepare or buy flags and adorn our houses with flags, proudly. We go to the Luneta Grandstand to listen to the President’s Independence message and watch the parade all the while gleefully waving our flags. We discuss that experience during family meals for as long as we remember them.

Today, June 12, an important day in the life of our country, is remembered only for its being a regular holiday and an occasion to oversleep or get out of the city.

Nowadays, it is fashionable to bash our own country and find fault in everything we are and everybody in government and business. Deservedly, you might say. In my supervisory class the other day, the participants in their late 20s and early 30s looked lost when I told them about our kundiman when we were discussing Filipino values and worldview. It seems they never heard such beautiful music.

Like Patricia, for me nationalism is giving back to our beloved country what it has so lavishly given us—our identity, our values, our worldview, food, water and a home we could proudly claim our own. Nationalism is valueing our uniqueness as a people. No matter what designer clothes you wear you are bound to hang a rosary in your car’s rearview mirror, smile all the time for no reason at all, cover your mouth when you laugh, like everything imported, think a meal is not a meal without rice, eat more than three times a day.

No matter where you are, you have a high threshold for pain and suffering, can sing and dance on the first note of music, have a high tolerance for corruption and a short, forgiving memory when it comes to history. There’s more in Neni Sta. Romana’s book, “You Know You’re Filipino If.”

For me, then, nationalism is to stop lamenting the sorry state we are right now, but doing something about it. Nationalism is looking forward and dreaming of good things for our country. It is more than applying “band-aid” solutions to the problems of our poor, but really moving towards uplifting our personhood and building our service-orientation capabilities in order for us to compete in a borderless world. Nationalism is appreciating our uniqueness and developing those into our core competencies. It is not only having a slogan, it is having a grand plan and implementing that plan resolutely.

Nationalism is bringing into our country the bests of the outside world and melding these into the fiber of our daily lives. I am likewise proud that Janette Toral is the first Filipina to be published by the very discriminating Mc-Graw-Hill Asia with her book, “Digital E-Commerce Workshop.” Nationalism is getting into the mainstream of globalization and participating actively in the best way we know.

Nationalism is not a simple word, it is an action word. Nationalism should move our duly elected government officials to stop politicking and start working for our country and all the sectors of our society.

Nationalism is not a choice. It is an honor, a duty and responsibility of every body who claims to be a Filipino wherever they are and whatever is their station in life. The poor, the rich, the healthy and hearty, the disabled, the Visayan, the Ilokano, the student, the streetchild, the lawyer, the carpenter, the young, the old—we are all Filipinos, pure and simple. No such thing as half-Filipino and half-this. We are all Filipinos.

What can little boys and girls do, they can start loving and using Filipino products and services. They could start caring for the naturally beautiful environment around us. They could start studying about arts and sciences and forget about getting into showbiz or politics early on. They could start honing their talents that could help our country move into globalization.

What do you intend to do about your being Filipino would measure your nationalism. What we do for our country is what we do for our family and friends. What we do for our country is the single most important legacy we could give our children and our grandchildren. Nationalism also means loyalty.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Do I Want to be a Mom? (Dell, Erem)

When a woman considers having a boyfriend or getting married, the foremost question in her mind is: Do I want to be a mom? The answer to this question is the answer she usually gives the man. Even in these hi-tech times, many women would still get married with the view of becoming a mother.

When my husband asked me to marry him, I asked myself the same question: Do I want to be a mom? My own mother would bear down on me to get married so that she would have more grandchildren. My youngest brother already had two by then.

And so when Manny and I prepared for our wedding and our wedded life together, we also discussed the number of children we would have, the names for possible sons and daughters, possible ninongs and ninangs, the way we will raise them, the school they will attend, the courses they will take, and many others.

I was blessed to experience uneventful pregnancies, but giving birth were something else. The threatened termination, the long bed rest, the painful but exhilarating birthgiving nothwithstanding, I only remember the joy I experienced twice over when I gave birth to my two sons. Through their growing days and now that they are themselves adults (Ronjie, 26, is a civil engineer at Vibrametrics, Inc., and is enrolled at UP for his Masters in Structural Engineering and Adrian, 24, is a training officer at Citibank and is pursuing his MBA at DLSU), I still derive much joy in being their mother.

For this Mother’s Day, Adrian and his girlfriend brought me to Anilao, Batangas for a relaxing weekend. Ronjie treated us to a sumptuous lunch to also mark his promotion to another level in his professional growth. Looking at them I couldn’t help but be proud to be their mother.

When Ronjie placed second in the 2001 Licensure Examination for Civil Engineers, friends and relatives naturally congratulated me profusely. I would tell them that Ronjie took after his father because if he got my genes he should have been number one.

Adrian is the one who is following my footsteps career-wise and I hope he will eventually took over reins of our HR consulting business. People say that Adrian and I look alike while Ronjie is the spitting image of his dad.

Through the years of being a mother, I only had my natural mother’s instinct, limited literature on the subject and lots and lots of advise from my mother, other family elders and friends on how to raise my children.

I am very glad there is this book entitled Do I Want to Be A Mom? : A Woman's Guide to the Decision of a Lifetime written by Diana L. Dell and Suzan Erem. Would be mothers and those-who-are-afraid-to-be-mothers can learn much from this book about deciding to be a mother and being a mother. A number of mothers and non-mothers shared their insights on the topic of finding the right partner, deciding to be a mom, responsibilities of a mom, being pregnant, health issues, raising children, co-parenting, getting help from friends and neighbors, combining career and having kids, the cost of raising a child, changing one’s mind in the middle of a pregnancy and the usual anxieties of becoming a good mom.

When people praise my sons for good behavior and achievements at school and at work, my mother-in-law, when she was alive, proudly gave me the honors of being the best mom. She adores Adrian and Ronjie and credits me for raising them well.

Looking back, being a mother is a most rewarding thing that happened to me. The next step for me is to let go and simply wait for the time when I will have my own grandchildren.

My only regret is that we should have had ten children, five girls and five boys.

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Repacking Your Bags... by Leider & Shapiro

Book Review for Fully Booked Newsletter
By Moje Ramos-Aquino

Repacking Your Bags: Lighten Your Load for the Rest of Your Life
Richard J. Leider, David A. Shapiro
Paperback - 2ND, June 2002

I was trying to find a book to help me in my reflections for this Lenten season and at times when I feel happy, fulfilled, sad, lonely, lost or overwhelmed. Richard Leider and David Shapiro's book Repacking Your Bags provided me with easy step-by-step manual to reexamine my life, work, love and leisure.

We are filled with questions all throughout our lives. When we are young we asked, "What do I want to be when I grow up?" In our teens, we concentrated on our future work: "What career will I pursue?" "What education would I need?" "What is my perfect job?" and sometimes, "Who is Ms. or Mr. Right?" In our early 20s, the questions "Where do I want to settle down when I am able?" "Who do I want to spend the rest of my life with?" nagged us incessantly. Intermittently in our 30s to 50s, we did experience doubts, resignation and being daring and enterprising. Finally in our 60s upward, "Where do I go from here?" "What could give me immortality?"

Repacking your Bags assists us through a process of examining and repacking a metaphorical bag in this journey called life. The authors seem to know exactly the questions percolating in our minds and provide a path to self-discovery through stories, personal examples, innovative exercises and quotations from other authors.

Some lines from the book that struck me right there are: People pursue happiness as if it is something they can capture and cage. Past patterns weigh us down. Marriage is a long conversation. Regular doses of laughter make you better at feeling. We can use a little subversion in our own lives. The outward signs of success don't make up for the failure we feel inside. We're looking for a way to ensure that we don't end up living somebody else's life. The quest for the good life is the quest for wholeness or integrity. The act of repacking is ultimately spiritual.

Applying the question "Does all these make you happy?" in everything we do and possess will help in the process towards achieving the good life. Well, it is the $64 question that prompted the authors to write their book.

(Repacking Your Bags is available from Fully Booked, Rockwell Power Plant Mall)