Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Reading books leads to long life

Wow!I did not know this!
Reading can prolong life!

There are several websites on this topic and I have provided just one link for your reference and which I would like to quote the following extract:

“Cognitive engagement may explain why vocabulary, reasoning, concentration, and critical thinking skills are improved by exposure to books,” they write. Second, books “can promote empathy, social perception, and emotional intelligence, which are cognitive processes that can lead to greater survival”, they say.

In Carl Honore's book's In Praise of Slow which I have reviewed in this blog, he advocates us to go slow in the way we do things as the world is moving too fast to the extend that our quality of life has been compromised. Reading books is one of the recommendations by Carl for us to relax our stressful lives. Not only does reading gives us a sense of relaxation but also calmness.In other words,it is a good way to destress ourselves.

In another book by Paul J Zack which I have also reviewed,he believes that oxytocin in our body plays an important role in our bonding with society through the building of trust and empathy. Since reading relaxes our mind which improves our cognitive functions,I believe it can also increases the oxytocin level in our body as proven in the many tests presented in the book.

As a tip for your reading,it is always better to read in a quiet room,without television and radio.This will gives you a better concentration and makes your reading much more enjoyable.Choose a book that is of interest to you and once you managed to click with the book's contents,you would feel a sense of joy and satisfaction in your reading.

I have been reading quite alot lately and I usually read just before dinner and bedtime.Frankly speaking,reading does makes me sleep well and feel fresh the next morning. Furthermore,with a better cognitive function,it is indeed a great way to start the day.

As an icing on the cake,many people do not believe I am already 60 years old!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Lawrence L Allen is a former senior executive for both Hershey and Nestle and was deeply involved in both companies' effort in China.He has spent more than twenty years building consumer brands for multinational companies in China.

As China opens its door to the world for business,a huge market of  more than one billion people emerges which offers a huge market  potential for the multinationals to capture and establish their products in the market.

And Lawrence with his vast marketing experience in China,details in this book how the world's  five biggest iconic chocolate players,Hershey,Cardbury,Mars,Ferrero and Nestle compete in this market and how they overcome a smorgasbord of marketing complexities.

China is a vast country and while its population seems homogeneous, culinary taste preference and even the national regulatory laws can be different among the many provinces.

The first major challenge was finding the right leaders for their China organizations.With the marketing environment at its infancy stage,to train them on the 4Ps (or 5Ps) of marketing can be a daunting task.And with a xenophobic society and cultural differences between the west and the east,it is indeed challenging to win the hearts and minds of the Chinese consumers.

As soon as the container ships arrive,logistic problems begin.The insufficient  supply of cold chain transport hampers the efficiency of the distribution channels.

Marketeers of each organization compete aggressively-from price war,packaging and retail distributions.Furthermore, they have to adapt marketing strategies according to some Chinese customs and also the belief in the Yin and Yang.
 Not only do they have to compete among themselves,copycats from the local manufacturers seeps in slowly into the market which the consumers have become accustomed to,thus making the war for the chocolate fortune even more crowded.

While some of the Big Five profiled in Chocolate Fortune has its own identity and strategic vision to become the Chocolate Emperor of China,not all will win the crown and it will be interesting for you to find out who is/are the successful one.

By devoting one chapter to each organization,Lawrence is able to detail not only the marketing strategies but also the history background of each organization.Written in easy to understand conversational prose,Chocolate Fortune provides a wealth of sensible advice on marketing strategies for doing business-big or small,national or international.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Dex's Book Review: in praise of SLOW

Carl Honore is a journalist (and a speedaholic) who has written for the Economist,Observer,National Post and Houston Chronicle. And while researching this book in Italy,he was slapped with a speeding ticket.

The first thing you would normally do in the morning is to check the time to make sure you are not late for work.You try to rush to office but is caught in a traffic jam.And there are work assignments to complete which you cannot finish but to bring it home.Instead of cooking for dinner,you buy some fast food for the family to save time so that you can finish your company's work at home.While you do your work,you children and husband will be on Facebook and emails.You most probably will worked till late night and get tired and stressed up the next morning.As this routine keeps repeating, your body cannot take it anymore and you fall sick.If this scenario sounds familiar to you,then this book is recommended for you.

For the past hundred years,we have been obsessed with speed.Our culture  teaches us faster is better.But in the race to keep up everything suffer-our work,diet,health,our relationships and sex lives.

Now there is revolution known as "the slow movement" which guide people to instill a sense of slowness that can enhance relationships with others either at home or at the workplace.
Carl explores several slow movements through some interviews with the gurus,such as the practice of Slow Sex(Tantric sex where Sting is quoted as a practitioner) Slow Medicine,Slow Food,Slow Cities,He also stressed on the importance of the benefits of working less and the importance of being at rest and the need to raise children unhurriedly.

Carl will do better with his interviews if the lower income groups are involved to get a better perspective instead on concentrating on the rich and white collar workers.I find that some of the examples given are over exaggerated,like the boy who after slowing down his life style,is able to play better football.

This book in not about doing things at a snail pace but at striking a balance between fast and slow. As Carl suggests,read this book one chapter a day to allow its subversive message to sink slowly in so it has a chance of changing your life.


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Dex's Book Review:Unfinished Business

Lee Kravitz is an award-winning journalist and was editor-in-chief of Parade magazine.He attended Tale and Columbia universities.

What would you do if you have lost your job?
Maybe you can go for a holiday to take a break,find a job immediately or do something meaningful for your life,like Lee Kravitz who at age 56 is a workaholic.

Lee Kravitz was fired as editor-in-chief of Parade magazine and he soon realized that there were many things which he had long wanted to embark on but was unable to due to his wok load.

Now that he had lost his job and instead of looking for a job immediately,he had committed an entire year to embark on a journey to do the most important things in his life.And he had listed ten transformational journeys in this book which he aptly titled Unfinished Business.

Some of his journeys seemed emotional like a reconciliation with his long lost aunt and the re-bonding of brotherly love between his father and uncle and the making of a condolence call to his friend which he did not do during the death of his friend's daughter. Lee Kravitz's journey also took us to Kenya where he visited the UN for refugees to keep his promise to a boy thirteen years ago.And there is a debt of thirty years that he needs to pay his friend.

 However,there is a lack of strong empathy in the story to draw sympathy from the reader. Maybe it could be due to the fact that this book is written from Lee Kravitz personal account.

We all have unfinished business.

Lee Kravitz managed to show us there is love,humility and patience if we cast our heart,anger and hatred aside.As we follow his transformational journey,it makes us realize that there are indeed many things that we would like to do but have many excuses of not doing.

So,start listing the things that you want to do now to reconnect your life before it is too late.


Sunday, October 9, 2016

Dex's Book Review: Kingdom of Ten Thousand Things

Gary Geddes is an award winning poet,writer,editor and critic.He has written and edited more than thirty books,including the best selling Sailing Home.Most recently,he was distinguished Professor of Canadian Culture at Western Washington University in Bellingham.

This book is about the journey of Gary Geddes quest to follow the trail of Huishen,a Buddhist monk,who escaped  from Kabul to China to avoid persecution and was reputed to have traveled from Afghanistan, across China,and on to the Americas in the 5th century before Columbus.

To retrace the voyage of Huishen,Geddes's journey seems almost impossible: from war torn Kabul,through the Himalayas and across the Taklamakan desert,to China and on to the Central America.

In his 18 months journey,Gary detailed the difficulties and the adventure of his travel,from jets,buses,taxis,ferries,a container ship and even donkeys and camels!

And along the many cities and temples he visited,Gary made it a point to try to uncover the historical records of Huishen .However, almost all of his inquiries drew a blank and to add to his disappointment, of the many people he had  interviewed,from Buddhist scholars to Tibetan monks,most do not seemed to know the existence of Huishen's journey.

I am surprise that not much of information is being written on Huishen's background,beside knowing him as a monk,after all he is the star in this book.

As there were no official records of Huishen's journey, many a times Gary made assumptions of "Huishen could be here" as he traveled  through his journey.What this book lack is the thriller instinct for the reader to stay engrossed.

With his "half-way around the world" journey,this book will make an interesting read for those who enjoy travelogue,discovery and adventure  channels.

Rating: 6/10

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Dex's Book Review:So you've been publicly shamed

Jon Ronson is s British journalist and an award-winning writer and documentary maker

Public shaming had been part of the  judicial punishment during the 18th century in UK and the US. It was phased out during the 19th century amidst calls for compassion.

Public shaming is back! And through the advent of social media like twitter and facebook,it can strikes anyone,anywhere and anytime.

Jon Ronson has interviewed some recipients of high profile public shaming like Jonah Lehrer,Justin Sacco and Lindsey Stone.

Jonah Lehrer is an American journalist whose works had been exposed to be plagiarized and quotes fabricated. And during his apology speech which was carried live together with twitter, a big screen was placed behind him and a small tv in front on the podium stand.As the speech was read,criticisms were streaming in and shown live on the screen.The way he was pilloried, I could literally felt the trauma Jonah went through. His career was destroyed beyond redemption.

In the case of Justin Sacco,she twittered  she was on her way to Africa and that she would not get Aids as she was white. A couple of hours later as she disembarked from the plane,her twitter account was bombarded with criticisms of racism and her integrity as a PR employee was questioned. She was fired subsequently.

Lindsey Stone, a caregiver was with a group of adults with learning difficulties during an organized trip to Washington DC. At the Arlington National Cemetery,she posted a photo of  her showing the middle finger with a shouting posture beside the Silence and Respect sign.What happened next in the social media, is anybody's guess.

In the many other cases presented by  Ron Jonson, it made us aware how public shaming can have a profound impact on our lives.

Is public shaming necessary?

If Justin Sacco or Lindsey Stone were from the east,will they be condemned and pilloried as  seriously as the west ? In my opinion, I do not think so. They will survive simply because the eastern culture has much more compassion.

Please remember to think carefully before you press the Send button because beside your friends,there are many millions of others whom you do not even known will receive your postings as well.

So be forewarned.

Rating: 7/10

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Dex's Book Review:The Undercover Economist

Tim Harford is a senior columnist at the Financial Times.He is a visiting fellow at Nuffield College,Oxford,and was the winner of the 2006 Bastiat Prize for economic journalism.

This book is recommended for people who do not have a degree in Economics.

In this book,Tim Harford introduces us the principles of economics which includes supply and demand interactions,globalization,GDP,
GNP,micro and macro economics and many other topics which are written in a Q & A format, with the questions being directed for a specific topic,easy to understand and yet can be witty.

Most topics of discussions are explain in non-technical terms like why poor countries remain poor  while China is prospering with continuous growth and why some countries are badly managed.

When a country is in financial constraints,is printing more money the solution?

  Is inflation good for the country's economy?

 What are the fiscal stimulus policies that are good for the country?

What are the benefits of introducing new currencies?

Let Tim Harford answer your questions and with some humor thrown in,this book will certainly enlighten you through the principles of economics in an entertaining way.

Some interesting quotes:

"An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics." Plutarch
(Chapter 14: Inequality)

"Supply creates its own demand." Jean-Baptiste Say {Chapter 6: The prison camp recession)

"The average man won't really do day's work unless he is caught and cannot get out of it.There is plenty of work to do, if people would do it."  Henry Ford ( Chapter 8: Invention of unemployment}

"The most powerful force is compound interest."  Albert Einstein (Chapter 13: Can growth continue
 for ever)

"Let some people get rich first." Deng Xiaoping (Chapter 14: Inequality)

Rating: 8/10