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File:The Greatest Salesman in the World book cover.jpg

I just finished reading an interesting book, “The Greatest Salesman in the World” by Og Mandino. Its Chinese translation was marketed in the name “Scrolls of Wealth” in China and was very popular.

I didn’t realize it was published just 40 years ago in 1968, a best-seller since then, until I read some critics about the book. The story of the book was set in biblical time in Arabic world. It’s about a poor camel boy, Hafid, who eventually became the greatest salesman in his time with unmatchable wealth. However, I can see the story is just a “make-up”, like all the stories in the TV advertisements. Essentially, the author would like to sell his “manuals for salesman”, which he developed for his insurance company while working in rural New Hampshire, as he disclosed in the preface of the book.

The author is indeed a very good salesman for his ideas. The story is catching, persuasive, full of drama, even having a mysterious link to the Bible. Obviously, he followed his own advices to sell, capturing people’s interests, making connections through familiarity (Bible story), demonstrating success stories happened with other ordinary people, and making the items for sale seems scarce and rare thus valuable. Another interesting way he did his selling is to command the reader to read each principle (a chapter or scroll in the book) three times a day for a month. That’s almost like a religious practice. I have to agree it’s the best way to build the principles into habits.

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Lighthouse

Happy New Year!

I guess a lot of people are very happy to see the year 2008 passed by, just like myself. What a dramatic year! First we witnessed the house value dropping and foreclosures in the neighborhood, then the crisis of the subprime mortgage. Soon, the bad news crawled all over the financial sector. Investment banks, insurance companies, commercial banks, even big names like Bear Stearns and Leman Brothers burned down into ashes overnight. The darkness, like cancer, continued to spread into other industries, such as automobile and even high-tech. The stock market crashed. The unemployment rate soared. The words we heard most in the past several months are “great depression” and “bail-out”, not what we usually heard even in a bear market.

And the worst part, it’s not over yet. Although debating among each other, the economists agreed the economy won’t recover until the later half of 2009. And that’s from the most optimistic point of view.

With all the negative news, it’s very easy to feel depressed or stressed out in this unpleasant time.

Kind of like feeling depressed in the winter in the northeastern United States (where I am living), chilly, heavy wind blow, cloudy sky, crooked tree branches and yellow grass, no sign of life.

But, wait! We still got Christmas in winter time! Even the darkest nights were lightened up by the holiday lights!

Where can we find hopes and opportunities in the depressing days like now? Here are four directions to look:

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In the summer of 2002, I was promoted from a senior developer to a manager leading a four person team. I was thrilled.

As other technical managers, my thinking was really natural. Since I was promoted, that means my way of doing things was the right way. Now, I just needed to require everybody to behave like myself and my team would be the best!

I failed in no time. It’s impossible to require everybody to behave like myself. I was young and single. Just got my master degree of computer science from a good university. I can adapt to new technologies easily. I can work 12 hours everyday including weekend. All my team mates were married and have family to take care of. They were much older than me. They couldn’t frequently spend their after work time working over time and learning new technologies. And they had their own ways of doing things and learning.

Fine. I would take all the work. Whenever they didn’t know how to do the job, I took over. Gradually, I found this wouldn’t work either since I barely have any free time left. The output of the team was not satisfactory.

I was very strict on every one’s job, maintaining a very high standard. I constantly criticized my team mate’s work and asked them to redo it multiple times. Eventually, I found that they started to ask me for very specific instructions and wouldn’t start the work until they get the instructions. I felt I was exhausted and couldn’t handle it anymore.

Why didn’t they listen to me? Why couldn’t they do the good jobs as I did? Why did they keep asking questions? Why cannot they work independently by themselves?

At my darkest moment as a new manager, I started to question myself. Maybe it’s because ME? Maybe I am not a good manager?

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I recommend a good book about dealing with the change. You may already read this little interesting book. Only takes 1 hour to finish, “Who Moved My Cheese“.

Here are some of the concepts it talks about:

Three stages of change:

  1. Prepare for change
  2. Gain change skills
  3. Achieve a change

Change Skills:

  1. Anticipate change
  2. Take new actions now
  3. Move beyond fear
  4. Imagine real success

Hope it can help us to survive the constant changes and achieve greater success in our life!

My life is fundamentally changed after I read Dr. Stephen Covey’s awesome book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People“. A lot of positive things happened. I feel happy in life and more important, I feel I am in charge of my own life. Nothing feels better than that!

One of the concept I learned from the book is if one really wants to learn the materials and would like to apply them to achieve good results in life, the best way is to teach the materials to other people. From my past experience, I know that’s absolutely true.

“Knowing, but not doing, is not knowing”. Another concept learned. So, here is my action. I prepared a series presentations to help me teaching other people, “7 Habits”. I will post them here in a series of posts.

Here is the first one in the serie: 7 Habits Session 1: Problem and Solutions

It starts from talking about the problems we are facing and how to solve them by changing the way we see the problems.

I will love to share the experiences of applying 7 habits with any one who is interested in fundamental life changes.

Now, Enjoy!

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