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Musicians look at notes and hear the music in their heads. I look at happiness data and hear the comforting sounds of lives well lived. The joy, the feeling of connectedness and the sense of purpose.
– Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute, Copenhagen

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I bought fairy lights to create cozy feel

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I like his second book much better “The Little Book of Lykke”– The Danish Search for the World’s Happiest People. I was nearly turned off by a little quote that everything runs smoothly in Denmark. Four years ago, one train did arrive 5 min late. The passengers each got a letter of apology from the prime minister and a designer chair of their choice as compensation. I am not running down Danes when I question that everything runs smoothly. Coming from Singapore where things generally run smoothly, .. yet not everything. Certainly not our public transport which we made the mistake of privatising at the advice of consultants. Japan though, their public transport is indeed the most effecient in the world, has one of the highest suicide rates in OECD countries. Books on why the Japanese live long lives do not address this dark side of Japan.

There are many beautiful stories in the book looking at countries like Brazil which is overcrowded yet is relatively happy, #22. Most Brazilians consider themselves kind and happy people who know how to have fun. Its true that the Brazilians I know are more helpful and smiling than the Danes I know. (Not the most scientific approach). But perhaps if we are moving towards a more gracious society, we have more to learn from Brazil. On second thoughts, 12hrs to Copenhagen is better than 48hrs flight to Rio.

Pursuit of happiness
Why this fixation on Happiness you may ask? The author lost his mother when she was 49years old, to depression. I live in a country that witnessed the biggest progression in a lifetime yet people are very unhappy. I know people above 70yrs old who experienced starvation under British colonial days, yet are very unhappy today despite relatively high standards of living and peace and children who visit them weekly and support them financially.

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My own take of the reason why Denmark and most of the Nordic countries have happiness is

The law of Jante
Conspicuous consumption is criticised. They dont like boastful people who flaunt their success. Decouple wealth and well-being. Read Michelle McGagh’s “The No Spend Year: How I Spent Less and Lived More“. Go for walks and free art exhibitions.

Value of Free Time
I like this book very much. I think that the reason why Denmark is the happiest nation among the OECD countries is because they value happiness as a way of life. They value free time and not embarrassed that they are taking time off work to exercise and be outdoors.

They take care of mental health seeking treatment when needed and not be embarrassed.

Be with people
But mind your own business. Do not worry about what others think of you or what others are doing to accumulate wealth. I doubt Danish mothers compare results of their children or other people’s children.

They are cozy and value mental resilience, connecting with others and not complaining.

Do not complain
Complaining is not the national sport. Give others a break. They dont need to live up to your expectations.

Complaining doesnt make you look smart or look self sacrificial. Suffering doesnt make you a martyr.

Be authentic and Mind your own business
Meik Wiking admits that Danes do not go around wearing masks. You cant tell that they are happy judging from their stony stares. They do not pretend or have a need to keep up with the Joneses.

A friend once told me how Japanese mothers get calls from teachers if they send their kids to school with plain and non-creative lunchboxes. Even lunchboxes are sources of comparison and not just means of healthy eating.

Relieve yourself from others’ expectations.
As the song goes, “haters gonna hate”. Complainers are going to complain. Especially when you live in a society where people have no qualms giving advice to others which they don’t heed themselves. People who dont mind their own business.

The English have a saying for this ” People who live in glass houses shouldnt throw stones”.

This second book Lykke is certainly a keeper. I cant wait to try out more suggestions from the book and watch the French film Amelie. I have started lighting candles especially at 6am when I wake up looking forward to my warm cup of Arabica coffee brewed in my 12yr old Philips machine.

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A friend sent me a link about Norwegian, a budget airlines opening a new route from London Gatwick to Singapore for £150 on a Boring 787 12hrs non-stop.

It set me thinking about Norway listed as happiest country 2017 by the UN. Many on the list took me by surprise. Israel, Iceland and Ireland.

I have not been to Norway. The only thing I recall about Norway is a friend whose husband was in the shipping line told me about their reluctance to move to Oslo because everything is so much more expensive than Singapore!

But I have been to Copenhagen, Denmark to learn about their workplace practices. Denmark is top 5 in happiness 4 years in a row.

Japan, on the other hand, is #51. How can that be? I enjoy visiting Japan. I follow a blogger who brought her two toddler sons to Hokkaido twice a year. 10 times.

But Israel takes the cake. When we read about Arab-Israeli conflicts, how can Israel rank themselves #11 for several years running. The Times of Israel seem to have the same surprise revealing that a survey by Musa Israeli in collaboration with the Education Ministry “found that 27 percent of Israeli Jews would leave the country if given the opportunity.

Among secular Israelis it was 36%. The religious Jews least likely to depart the country at just 7%.”

Singapore is #26. Not surprising. Complaining is our national sport. But we are highest in happiness in Asia. So who is complaining? Despite being the most expensive country in the world.

“Despite the banking collapse in the two countries Iceland and Ireland, the happiness of these nations was less affected than expected. 99 percent report having someone to count on in times of trouble is the highest in Iceland. http://icelandreview.com/news/2017/03/20/icelanders-are-worlds-third-happiest

Of course the usual suspects, what is in the basket of survey, how were the questions phrased?

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On Friday I was invited to the Singapore Management Festival “Small is the New Big”. There were several speakers whom I had great respect. Others, because I had classes in between, I was not able to attend.

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I walked out of the conference feeling happy but not sure why. Several people I spoke to also were impressed with Red Hongyi. I think she is a very creative person. She showed us plates of food she created for 31 days which were picked up by Instagram CEO.

Hardest part was to show up. When she first decided to set up her own creative company, she had no clients.

So she started creating plates of food. The photos show the difference between Day 1 and Day 31. Hard part is showing up. Power is needed.

Jamil Qureshi, echoed this view, when he talked about coaching athletes. Performance is achieved on a daily basis. Cynical people do not achieve new territories.

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My favourite was the one with a squid. You can find her inspirations on her website.

Another lucky stroke – asked by Jacky Chan to do his 60th birthday portrait which she constructed out of chopsticks.

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Whats amazing is that she filmed herself during the entire installation process and created a inspiring talk along the way and recreated herself as a motivational speaker on the creative process.

She reminded me of renowned choreograoher Twylar Tharp who filmed her dancers practicing to fine tune her performances.

Looking at someone create something, not just talk about it makes me happy. I may not become a great artist, but I can participate in the process of creation.

Relieve yourself from being perfect. As Jamil Quereshi, the sports psychologist said. Either you become discouraged and give up or you do attain perfectionism and become so afraid of losing that status.

I see the speaker try so many mediums, using socks, chopsticks, coffee stains, teabags.

Life is not about discovering who you are. It is about the joy of creating yourself. What do you think of the creative process?

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Photo: 999 glass fishes at the Oceans Financial Centre Singapore.The work holds a message about strength from community and collaboration.
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Technology alone likely won’t deliver the uplift in performance that organizations seek.

There are three reasons to value human capital:

– People are the creators of technology – it does not create itself.

– People are the stewards of technology – they cannot control it but they can shape it and are less effective without it.

– People are the champions of technology.

Companies such as Airbnb and Uber, optimise technology but also have huge teams of people to service their customers. Humans know best how to partner with technology.

“What gets in the way is that there is an insufficient understanding of disruption, there is pressure from stakeholders and the strategy for human capital is not aligned with the strategic goals of the organisation.

Smartphones, data-collecting industrial parts and other innovations of the Digital Age are amazing, but none of them pack the productivity-boosting power of the lightbulb or the telephone. Indeed, apart from a short burst between 1996 and 2004, the digital technology revolution actually hasn’t boosted overall productivity.

Airbnb offers a strong example of what can happen when people are enabled rather than replaced by technology. The firm might have fewer than 3,000 people on the payroll, but it depends on tens of thousands of creative, ambitious and talented human hosts to supply those 2 million rooms worldwide. Technology may connect hosts to potential guests, but Airbnb has no business without the hosts.

The “Talent Trumps Tech” idea applies to the executive suites, too. Yes, the boss likely will be able to use technology to instantly get real-time data about the firm’s pipeline of sales, cash flows, threats from competitors, even the value of individual customers …. At the same time, it will be easier for CEOs to get concrete business options from intel- ligent software. These AI-infused programs can use current data and past experiences to identify trouble spots or opportunities and make recommendations to improve the business.

Making the call
However, no app or robot is going to make the final decision on what business strategy to pursue, or whether to open a new office in Austin or Amsterdam, or whether to merge with a rival firm. “I’ll never say never, but I can’t imagine CEOs giving up those decisions,” says Nels Olson, vice chairman and co-leader of Korn Ferry’s Board & CEO Services practice. “Artificial intelligence will be there to provide input.”

Excerpts from 2030: The Very Human Future Of Work by Hazel Euan-Smith & Russell Pearlman & Karen Kane in the series on “The Future of Work is Human”
– KornFerry Institute

Several years ago, I was asked by a University to coach their students how to become multipotentialite. This rare breed of students had gone through a rigorous and stringent interview process to qualify for the programme. Like a doting parent, they believed these students could change geography, be anything they want. All of them were energetic and articulate, and could change the world in a single leap.

What is this multipotentialite, asked I. I was pointed to a TED talk “Why some of us don’t have one true calling”. Caree coach Emilie Wapnick coined a term “multipotentialite” to describe “generalists”.

Wapnick has romanticised the idea of being interested in too many things and being bored quickly. Her competence as an English major is in communicating and creativity – she now works as a workshop presenter and motivational speaker, while ignoring the fact that many of her other dabblings are quite amateurish interests.

Many of the “multipotentialites” she showcased, too had one deep area of expertise which they transferred to other areas.

When the world exploded with globalisation in 1990s, the great headhunting debate was who made a better manager? Generalists vs specialists. Generalists won hands down.

Soon the marketplace became overcrowded by job hoppers, bored after 1 year on the job and yet not quite made much contributions.

Today a more appropriate description would be I vs T-shaped skills, often attributed to McKinsey.

I-shaped skills are deep knowledge and experience in one context, and not proven or applied to other areas. Wapnick’s dabblings into music and a rock band would be a “dash” “—“, jack of all trades.

i VS t

In both I and T shaped skills, depth of experience is highly valued. A T-shaped professional, will be one with deep expertise but able to adapt that skill across different functions to create a new product. Effective collaboration in a discipline like design benefits from individuals who have combined this with a range of applications in different professional environments.

Steve Jobs is a T-shaped professional. He has always immersed himself in the Silicon Valley context and working with other I-shaped professionals. Not many of us have heard of his way-off predictions regarding the Segway. (Read Adam Grant’s book on “The Oringinals”).

How does one become a T-shaped individual?

1. Deepen your knowledge

In “Enhancing Adult Motivation to Learn“, Wlodkowski makes a case that “knowing our subject well enhances our confidence, flexibility and creativity. When a person has really mastered a concept well, he can be playful with it. Spontaneity and improvisation are more possible for the competent. Deep understanding of a subject transforms mere information into useable knowledge”. (p54 2008).

Remaining as an I-shaped individual runs the risk of your job being automated.

2. Update your expertise

Designlab suggests to drink from several fountains. “Design, like most creative disciplines, is constantly changing — in terms of technology, standards, culture, and client expectations. Get subscribed to the top sites and journals in your area. Bookmark, keep a log, experiment, and exceed your comfort zone as often as you can.”

3. Broaden your horizons

Expand the range of projects you take on. Do a stocktake of your current skills. What other industries could you apply or transfer them to. Add Breadth to your depth. Cross-functional skills eg. Understanding finance and how to market your products.

4. Embrace your inner wiring
Figure out your Myers-Briggs personality type to be more self-aware and more generous to those who see the world differently. Train in conflict resolution, change management process to deal with difficulties to build trust and empathy between collaborators.

5. Pick up Softskills
Tim Brown of IDEO suggests that T-shaped individuals have empathy and enthusiasm about other fields. This creates trust.

6. X-shaped?
Many researchers now talk about X-shaped. The X factor or Charisma, rare quality which some attribute to the gift of God.

While T-shaped people are great collaborators, when it comes to hiring a new leader for an organisation, the qualities are more X-shaped. These leaders have depth of subject, professional esteem and credibility. Similarly, they are able to support diverse teams. Many websites cite John Lasseter or Ed Catmull of Pixar as X-shaped. This isn’t for everyone: roles demanding X-shaped people tend to be focused on strategy and team management.

http://trydesignlab.com/blog/how-to-get-hired-understand-if-youre-an-i-t-or-x-s/