Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A carrot, an egg, and a cup of coffee

You must guess it. I am busy, busy and busy. Amid all these buzz, I have received the following email from a friend.

It gives me the strength to see through this hectic period. Reading the article reminds me of the main character of the popular Japanese anime "Naruto Shippuden". I love Naruto as he just gets stronger with each and every challenge.

May we all be coffee!


A carrot, an egg, and a cup of coffee...You will never look at a cup of coffee the same way again.

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl.

Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, 'Tell me what you see.'

'Carrots, eggs, and coffee,' she replied.

Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.

Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma the daughter then asked, 'What does it mean, mother?'

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

'Which are you?' she asked her daughter. 'When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human and enough hope to make you happy..

The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way. The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past; you can't go forward in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches.

When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling.

Live your life so at the end, you're the one who is smiling and everyone around you is crying.

You might want to send this message to those people who mean something to you (I JUST DID); to those who have touched your life in one way or another; to those who make you smile when you really need it; to those who make you see the brighter side of things when you are really down; to those whose friendship you appreciate; to those who are so meaningful in your life.

May we all be COFFEE!!!!!!!!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Eric Feng's Workshops, Part 2

On part 2 of Eric Feng's workshops, I will be sharing with you on what I have learnt from the workshop on "How to Speak with Confidence and Charisma in Front of Any Audience".

The most important lesson is the success formula which is to have stage time. I remembered I nearly pulled out of my Toastmaster's project at last minute but Eric's success formula has been my mantra to push myself to just do it. As working adults, we always have the "time not enough" issue. Hence, we could not be the perfectionist when we want to have stage time. Just by trying, we will improve in our speaking skills.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Learn to have better enunication

Some sounds which you may want to practise to improve your enunication:

ab, ad, af, ag, aj, ak, al, am, an, ap, as, at,
ub, ud, uf, ug, uj, uk, ul, um, un, up, us, ut,
ob, od, of, og, oj, ok, ol, om, on, op, os, ot,
ib, id, if, ig, ij, ik, il, im, in, ip, is, it.

Next are some little poems designed to practise saying and distinguishing the sounds above:


Dot had a pot of milk.
Dot had a hot pot of milk.
Dot had a big log.
Dot sat on the log.
The log is in the fog.
Dot sat on the log in the fog.
Dot had a dog.
Dot had a big dog.
The dog is in the fog.
Dot and the dog had a lot of fun in the fog.

Bug on a Rug
A big bug.
A big rug.
The bug on the rug.
The big bug on the rug.
Tug the rug.
Sit on the rug.
Hug the bug on top of the rug.
Hug the big bug on top of the rug.
Sit on the rug and hug the big bug.
Hug the bug but not on top of the rug.

A Fat Cat
A cat.
A mat.
A rat.
A fat cat.
A fat cat sat on the mat.
A fat cat and a rat sat on the mat.
A fat cat, a rat and a bat sat on a mat.
A rat on a bat on a cat in a hat on a mat.

A Big Pig
A pig.
A fig.
A wig.
A fig and a wig.
A big pig had a wig.
A big pig bit a fig.
A big pig had a wig.
A big pig in a wig.
A big pig did a jig.
A big pig in a wig did a jig.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Eric Feng's Workshops, Part 1

I have just attended two of Eric Feng's workshops. Each workshop lasts about 3 hours and is run on Saturday afternoon from 2 pm to 5 pm. The workshops which I have attended are:

i) Building Positive Relationships through Effective Conversational Skills
ii) How to Speak with Confidence and Charisma in Front of Any Audience

The thing I like about Eric is his generosity, his sincerity and his passion about helping us to be better public speakers.

After being in the corporate world for more than a decade, I could not agree more with him that the one thing that distinguish good from great is verbal fluency. Personally, I find it very difficult to conduct presentation before joining the Toastmasters' Club. Even after joining the club, it takes me a few months before I finally warm up to my club members and begin to do my projects diligently. Thereafter, I do see noticeable improvement in my speaking skills. But Eric makes it even easier for non-Toastmasters to ease into the speaking game. So for those of you who are eager to see the change in yourself, do visit Eric Feng's blog (www.EricFeng.com) and follow his blog, attend his workshops.

Here are some of the things which I have learnt from Eric at the first workshop which I have attended.

Six ways to look confident and credible in front of an audience and also with strangers whom you would like to build a positive relationship:

1. Smile. Smile is the shortest distance between two strangers. Eric shares with us the Hillary Clinton technique - to slow down the smile, more for ladies.

2. Eye Contact. Look at them in the eye but do not stare. For speaking in front of an audience, look at one, talk to all.

3. Energy. Energy is contagious. Eric loves to listen to music to perk himself up before the important presentation. What about you?

4. Body language. Stand or sit straight. You will be amazed at how much a good posture can do to boost your confidence level. If you find yourself fidgeting while standing, you can try the rooting technique - imagine your feet grow roots on the ground and you cannot move.

5. Voice. If you want to speak well, you need to breath well. Be mindful of your voice, in terms of volume, pitch and speed.

6. Language or ABC. Pay attention to your enunication. It could something as simple as pronunciating the last letter in a word as in "speak", "test", "toast", "kick". Another as stressing the syllabus. For a four syllabus word, usually, we stress the 2nd syllabus as it will make the word sound good as in "magnificent". Another is to eliminate our pause-fillers. Pause-fillers are irrelevant words which we use to fill up our speech. Another tip is to improve our vocabulary as the words we use is a strong indicator of your social status. But do not overdo it as to use too pompous word eg. it is an acrimonious day. Gosh, everyone will be scratching their heads to understand what you are talking about.

Build Rapport & Trust Through Small Talk

The first and most important ingredient is to pay attention to the person. Attention is the currency of all relationship so be genuinely interested in the person.

Of course, we can get a little tongue-tied as to how to start a conversation. So here are three types of openers.
- Address the immediate situation. E.g. what do you think of...
- Compliment the person, sincerely of course.
- Ask for opinion (make the person feel good). It also gives you the chance to follow up.

Two fail-safe questions to can:
- What do you like to do in your free time?/ What do you do most of the time?
- How do you decide to be xxx?

Remember. Avoid closed question.

After we are done with the starters, we need to work on the main course. The key here is to create the "I am like you" effect. So we need to do our homework and find the common ground. We need to find a little bit more about the event which we are to attend. Speak their lingo, pick up a magazine, read more - The World in 2010 by the Economist.

Eric shares with us the 5 Ps as follows:

1. Physical
2. Passion - what is your favorite food/hobby/ambition
3. Pain - what pisses you off
4. Principles
5. Philosophy - what is important to the person/ values

And .... 3 magical words: Tell me more. If that is still not enough, there is a bonus which is to use the last word. Eg. What do you like to do? Shopping... Shopping?

Last but not least, we can work our magic with people with four social gifts, namely:
1. Compliment
2. Connection
3. Elevation - meaning make people feel good or better
4. Enlightenment - share with others, things that you know e.g. finance/ life/ content.

Eric reminds us that things happen, we just need to pay attention. Have a little notebook around to jot down and use it as party story.

This marks the end of part 1 of the workshop which I have attended. There are so many things which I cannot possibly record as Eric shares tonnes and tonnes of information. Each person has different perspective so what I have jotted will be different from other person.

Another thing about Eric's approach is experiential learning. We learn and we apply the technique immediately. Thereafter, Eric also follows up by collating our questions and answers which we have worked together during the workshop and email us the complete set.

A very powerful workshop for people who are looking for a program to jumpstart their public speaking skills.