Grit to Great by Linda Kaplan Thaler & Robin Koval

Why Grit Matters. Steve Jobs, for instance, was ordinary growing up. How does a seemingly ordinary person become great? Perseverance matters more than talent. Grit is about sweating it out. Grit can be learnt. Excellence is a habit. Basically, the self-esteem movement has been a flop. Stop thinking that you are special. Sometimes, having too much self-esteem is bad as it will make you complacent. Grit is about living outside of your comfort zone and pushing your boundaries. Research has revealed that grit can be honed. Michael Jordan is so great because he trains so hard. Kaplan Thaler Group now has more than $3 billion in earnings. Sometimes, parents should let their children learn the hard way. Go to the School of Hard Knocks. There are basically 4 aspects of grit: 1) guts (confidence to take on something challenging); 2) resilience (staying the course); 3) initiative (Outsmart your opponent); 4) tenacity (relentless ability to stay focused). To master a skill well, it might take as much as 10 years. Can you fulfil your potential and be great? Write down your to-do list every day. Commit one month on each project. It is important not to give up.

The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will. – Vince Lombardi

I know what hard work is all about. I still come back to what my strategy always was and will continue to be: I’m not the smartest guy, but I can outwork you. It’s the one thing I can control. – Michael Bloomberg

The Talent Myth. Talent is over-rated unless it is applied consistently. Having innate talent is definitely not sufficient. In fact, grit and IQ might even have a slight negative correlation. Those with grit are into things for the long haul. There are cons to using standardized tests. Educational qualifications might not signal much. Learn to deliver under pressure. Not all geniuses end up holding good jobs. Dave Thomas is the founder of Wendy’s restaurant chain. Hard work is good for the soul. When he was young, he worked extremely hard in kitchens. Thomas made sure that he did not compromise on quality. It is important to have integrity in whatever you do. Sadly, he passed away in 2003. We read Dave’s biography from head to tail and worked our socks off before finally managing to win the account. We went around talking to Wendy’s customers and employees. This was how we gained information on the ground about the company. The team worked long hours for the sales pitch to Wendy’s. We offered a lot of insight as to how to rebrand Wendy’s. Eventually, we won the business. Attitude matters a great deal. Learn to become an over-preparer. Think of how your strengths can be an asset for you. Spend 30 minutes more every day on something that matters to you.

Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work. – Stephen King

In all those very different contexts, one characteristic emerged as a significant predictor of success. And it wasn’t social intelligence. It wasn’t good looks, physical health, and it wasn’t IQ. It was grit. – Angela Duckworth

You don’t need to be a Mensa member to be a success in today’s competitive work world, whether you’re pursuing an entry-level job, a managerial position, a big promotion, or the venture capital to strike out on your own. You need grit. – Linda Kaplan Thaler

Ditch the Dream. Put yourself into a grit state of mind and work hard. James Patterson worked at an ad agency but spent a lot of his time writing. He did it before reaching the office. It was inspirational to learn how determined he was. Visualizing your goal might not be a very smart thing to do. Often, we visualize the end goal but not the hard work. Rather, one should dream about roadblocks and how to get past them. Marin Aslop was a prominent music conductor who defied stereotypes about her. Eventually, she managed to lead a professional orchestra in conducting music. Learn to seize the initiative. Hard work can indeed get you very far. Passion needs a destination and guidance too. Goals can be re-evaluated from time to time. Learn to prioritize our ambitions and goals. Taking the first step is often risky, but one should do it. Make the goal your password for your computer. Write an action plan against a timeline. Pay attention to what others say.

Lose the Safety Net. Are safety nets holding us back? Our minds are very powerful. Learn to identify worst-case scenarios and take calculated risks. Be mindful of the problem at hand. Do not let your mind control you. Prepare for the worst. Learn to go on autopilot. You can’t wait till you are risk-free. Many a time, we like to settle for something that is comfortable which won’t excite us. Be aware of how fear dictates your life. You need to ask till you get rejected. This is when you know that you are growing. It is always possible to learn and grow from rejection. Draw on your inner resources. Learn to go with your guts. It can be frightening to leave everything behind. Create your own high ‘wire’ in life. Stop making excuses for yourself. Learn to step outside your comfort zone.

Get into Wait Training. Waiting is painful and training is difficult. There are many excuses you can take to abort your mission. Boredom once in a while helps to hone resilience. This is useful as it trains delayed gratification. Self-control is difficult as people like instant rewards. You never know whether you will succeed in something beforehand. However, this is no reason for you to give up. It can take some time up to years before your work can come to fruition. Turn passion into perseverance. Determination will get you very far in life. Drug release is also a very slow process with little reward. Therefore, it is important to celebrate small victories. This is important as it will help one to keep the motivation levels high. For instance, reading quotes on a daily basis can motivate you. Navy Seals are required to make their bed. However, this act instils you with a small victory everyday which can be empowering. Sometimes, having a daily ritual is important. People are usually more creative when they are bored. Be a list lover. Be grateful.

When pursuing a long-term goal, people should focus on checking items off their list, rather than focus simply on making progress toward their goal in an absolute sense. – David Gal and Blakeley B. McShane

Bend like Bamboo. You can turn your disability into an asset. Be as resilient as your bamboo. It is flexible in nature. There are many life lessons which one can learn from bamboo. We need to be flexible in life. Be innovative and resilient when faced with difficult and trying situations. It is not about having a lot to lose. Rather, think about what you have to gain. Make the most of what you have. Optimists are generally more motivated to solve their problems. Optimists believe that they have the power to change their circumstances. The good thing is that optimism can be learnt. It is essential for resilience. One can learn faster through failure. Many people give up after failure. However, one shouldn’t do that. Learn to embrace the love of failure. Learn to view things from another perspective. Have an insatiable appetite for curiosity. People usually have either a fixed or growth mindset. Learn to create high expectations for yourself. Learn to embrace Plan B too. Recharge your spirit. Setbacks have the ability to propel you forward.

No Expiration Date. If you don’t use your intellect, it will rot away. You can usually push yourself beyond your limits. That is how some people manage to do extreme sports. You can chase your dreams at any age. The only limits are those that you place on yourself. You do not need to accomplish everything you need before 30. It is possible to create great work when you are old, just like Picasso. You must dig deep and realize that grit is indeed important. Our brain craves novelty. Learning to brush your teeth with your non-master hand can slow down aging in your brain. Exercise can help slow down cognitive decline. Exercise has a great way to improve cognitive functions. Keep moving. Moving helps to combat arthritis. Older workers are not less productive. Productivity can remain high even in old age. Be a re-inventor. It is important to try and love what you do. Retirement is an out-dated concept. Work is a good way to keep you mentally engaged. Learn to adopt a hundred-year plan when it comes to work.

Age wrinkles the body. Quitting wrinkles the soul. – General Douglas MacArthur

Grit for Good. Humans are altruistic so that we can all survive. Our brains might be considered hard-wired to do good. Gratification can have a big impact on how we behave. It is essentially a form of reward. Always seek to help the less fortunate in society. Keep plugging at a problem till it goes away. You need grit and determination. Serving others can indeed make us happier people. Regular volunteering is a form of a meaningful activity to give back. If possible, give back to those who have helped you in the past. Try to make the world a better place for all. Start by volunteering for an NGO etc. Learn to join the grit movement.


Making Marriage Simple by Harville Hendrix

Ten truths for Changing the Relationship You Have into the One You Want

The book will help you make your marriage better. Learn to create a new kind of marriage. Marriage is ever-evolving. Our ancestors often paired up. Marriage was arranged in the past to protect one another. It was not about love by any means. In the 18th century, marriages started to be more about romance. It began something of a choice. Sometimes, one dominant partner can emerge and that can be a problem. Learn to build a partnership marriage. It is where both parties are free and equal. This is the ultimate dream among partners. Everyone can create this kind of relationship. Learn to practise the ‘Partnership Marriage’. Stick with transformation and do not give up too quickly. Practise the exercises in the book. The work doesn’t end after you say ‘I do’. Building a relationship is hard work. One person can shift the dynamics of a relationship.

Romantic Love is a Trick. Helen is Harville’s wife. The initial stages and dating stage of a relationship is often very great. You feel your heart beat fast and palpitate. You will always look forward to seeing each other again. Being apart feels unbearable. This romantic bliss doesn’t last though. Romantic Love rides off into the sunset. Once the person reveals their true colours, you will realize that things are not so rosy anymore. Agony replaces ecstasy at the start. People all have their good and bad character traits, even our parents. This is known as ‘Imago’. Initially, you will feel the sense of belonging. However, later on, you will feel upset that your needs aren’t met. This is known as ‘childhood’ wounding. Sometimes, parents can be overinvolved or under-involved. Both cases are not ideal. As a wife, I tended to be in too much control of the relationship. Sometimes, what you give is not what the other person wants. Understand what your childhood wounding is. Were you abandoned in the past? It is your unconscious mind that chooses your partner. Write down the frustrations you experienced in your childhood and compare it with those you have with your partner now. Talk about the similarities with your partner. A lot of the frustrations you have with your partner stem from what you went through in the past.

Romantic Love is the powerful force that draws you to someone who has the positive and negative qualities of your parents or caregiver. – Harville Hendrix

Incompatibility is Grounds for Marriage. Incompatibility may not be such a bad thing after all. Honestly, my wife and I are very different. Sometimes, I wish she was more like me. Do not use words like ‘You always’; ‘You never’. Do not keep believing that you are right. This is known as the power struggle. This will make your marriage interesting. However, this form of tension can make your relationship turn out for the best. Both couples are different based on 1) structure vs freedom & 2) how they handle stress. Spontaneity vs structure. It is important to be non-judgmental about your differences. When reacting to stress, there are basically the minimizers (keep things to themselves) and the maximizers (Hailstorm). Turtles like to be quiet and have their alone time. Hailstorms are more extroverted people. They like to cross things off their list. Some people just like to talk about their feelings. Hailstorms want your attention. The more you withdraw, the more the other party will hail. The key is to give each other sufficient space. You have the power to change. Turtles hate being analysed and getting blamed. Make it safe for your Turtle to emerge. Compliment them and show appreciation once in a while. Do not push them till they snap. When the hailstorm is shouting, please give them your full attention. Do not withdraw. If the turtle can become more like a hailstorm and vice versa, order can be restored. If you are facing a turtle, try not to do anything or you may attempt to praise them. To calm a hailstorm, ask ‘what might you be able to do for her?’

Conflict is Growth Trying to Happen. Conflict can be valuable. Don’t run away for it. You can reflect on matters with a new perspective. The Power Struggle is not a sign that you should give up on the relationship. Do not simply bail so easily. Bailing is a sign of weakness. Use conflict to jump start growth. Learn to express your emotions and not hold them back. Usually, when one ‘thinks’ and the other ‘feels’, conflicts will arise. Conflict can be used as creative tension. Give yourself permission to feel. Learn to connect your heart with your brain. If you are comfortable with your feelings, it is easier to connect with others too. Understand what is meant by the ‘Stretching Principle’. Growth is about requiring both partners to stretch. You can work on feeling and logic. Stretch so that you can reclaim parts of yourself. Write down what you loved about your relationship back then. Write down what you wish the relationship had. It is crucial to be able to grow new skills.

Often what we need most from our partner is what they are least capable of giving. – Harville Hendrix

Being Present for Each Other Heals the Past. It is important to heal each other’s childhood wounds. Help each other grow into adulthood. Name their wounds and how you might go about healing them. Learn to ask what the other party needs. Do not assume. Accept his answer. If someone is usually angry, it might have something to do with their childhood. If you are a doer, it might be hard for you to start to listen. Answer your call to be a healer. The key is to create a safe environment. Healing only happens in a safe environment. Both parties need to get healthy, not just one. Sending one to therapy may not work. There is something between the both of you in a relationship. It is not just empty air and space. Unspoken communication is part of this space. Do not criticize and blame. Make the space ‘holy’ in nature. Build your relationship on trust and caring. Share with your partner on what are the negative things that happen in your space.

’Being present’ means giving all of your attention to your partner in a caring, open-hearted way – really listening to what your partner thinks and feels. Just because someone is in the same room with you, or is even looking right at you, doesn’t mean they are present with you. – Harville Hendrix

It’s not What you Say; It’s HOW you Say It. Sometimes, couples like to talk at the same time and not listen to one another. How you talk is important. Although it is important to air your views, listening is crucial as well. Our culture does not reward people for listening. Mirror, Validate and Empathize. Learn to share what you appreciate about one another. To mirror, repeat exactly what was said. This is a form of clarification. Ask ‘Is there more?’ Validate means you get the other person’s point of view. Say ‘You make sense’. See things from their perspective. Dialogue will enable you to heal wounds. Dialogue is good because it slows you down.

Dialogue sustains and deepens connection. Dialogue is a structured way of talking and listening that builds connection between you and your partner. It is this connection that enables you to heal your childhood wounds. – Harville Hendrix

Negativity is Invisible Abuse. Body language can be negative in nature. Negativity makes your partner unsafe and uneasy. In society, we are rewarded for critical thinking. However, in a marriage, you shouldn’t use it. Some couples are very stubborn. They keep thinking they are right and refuse to give in. Competition is good, but it shouldn’t take place in your relationship. Once you feel superior to your partner, this is when competition arises. You should be an advocate in a relationship and not give constructive criticism unnecessarily. Become ‘negativity watchdog’ and watch when you are being negative. Learn to share appreciation. Appreciate your partner every day. Replace judgment with curiosity. Open yourself up to new ideas and perspectives. List down your partner’s physical characteristics. Share three new things that you appreciate everyday with your partner.

Negativity is a Wish in Disguise. Behind every negative thought is an unmet desire. It could be a wish in disguise. Use more ‘I’ statements when talking. Be brief and clear. Approach your partner only when they are calm. Do not criticize or blame. Use the BCR method (Behavior Change Request). 1) Ask for an appointment to discuss a frustration; 2) State the frustration briefly; 3) Ask for what you want. Asking for an appointment ensures that you catch them at the right time. State the frustration in a brief manner. Suggest things your partner can do to ease your frustration. Keep them SMART. Learn to be creative. Write down the suggestions your partner raises. Start small first. Tackle the small problems first. Follow through on what your partner says.

Your Brain Has a Mind of Its Own. Your brain is a wonder. The lower brain is spontaneous and does things on impulse. It is focussed on survival. The higher brain is more logical and rational. It is capable of higher level thinking etc. Do not let the lower brain take control of your life. It is important to focus on rational decision making. You can choose which part of your brain to use when responding with your partner. Stop to let your higher brain review the situation. Try to reason why people are doing certain things/actions all the time. Take a brisk walk to help calm down your lower brain. Respond but do not react. You can always learn to change yourself.

Your Marriage is a Laughing Matter. Sometimes, it is useful to be light-hearted over certain issues. Life is about who we are at the core. Our core is JOY. Human beings are wired for social connection. Assumptions can kill a marriage. Do not assume you know what the other person is thinking. It is important to know what gives your partner pleasure. Share what feels caring to her. Being open and telling each other is important. Ask if you don’t know what the love language of someone else is. Let your partner know your secret wishes. Caring Behaviors are important and you need to know what your partner values. Pick up on a random dropping and delight her. Oxytocin has been known to release stress. Fun has a lot of power. A couple can start by telling each other jokes. Write down all your caring behaviors.

Your Marriage is the Best Life Insurance Plan. Turtles or introverts can care deeply about people. Everyone hopes that their relationship can live long and prosper. Divorce might not be the best way to manage conflict. Helen and I divorced before we learnt about the tools. Now, people are more aware of the benefits of marriage. They are healthier, live longer and enjoy higher incomes. A healthy marriage confers a lot of benefits. It improves physical health. Children tend to thrive when they are under married parents. Married couples tend to manage their finances better. It means better financial security in old age for the couple. Married couples tend to have a better sexual relationship. Your relationship is worth it. Love is contagious. Do not stay on the side-lines. Be the change you wish to see. Re-commit to each other. Share your written vows with one another.

Afterword. Love is the ultimate upstream solution. 1) Healthy Marriages are the Ultimate Upstream Prevention. 2) Healthy Relationships Create Strong Individuals. 3) Couplehood as a Spiritual Path. 4) Marriage isn’t a disease to be treated – it’s the cure. 5) Relationship education must be supported and made available to everyone.


The Creator’s Code by Amy Wilkinson

The Six Essential Skills of Extraordinary Entrepreneurs

Under Armour manufactures sweat absorbent clothes. Plank was a creator who cracked the creator’s code. There was nothing that could stop him. Airbed-and-breakfast (AirBnB) was also a huge success story. It was a model that encouraged others to rent out their spaces to tourists. Nathan Blecharczyk helped with the programming. The company is now valued to at least $10 billion dollars. Although some people have business ideas, most choose to ignore the call. Courage and discipline can go a long way. You don’t need to be an expert in a field to create a business related to a particular field. You don’t need an MBA as well. This book will show you how people can achieve extraordinary results. Theranos is a company that is poised to shake up the lab testing industry. It was innovative as patients could go to a local pharmacy to have blood tested and the results would be automatically routed to their doctor. Prevention is more possible that way. What is the magic code to achieve lasting results? The author has interviewed countless of entrepreneurs. Her research uses grounded theory methods. All entrepreneurs share certain common traits that make them special. The skills can actually be practised on. Step 1: Find the Gap (Be a Sunbird, Architect or an integrator). Step 2: Drive for Daylight. Step 3: Fly the Ooda Loop (update your assumptions and make fast decisions). Step 4: Fail Wisely (Place bets on small ideas and fail fast). Step 5: Network Minds (harness diversity). Step 6: Gift Small Goods (helps others in order to strengthen relationships). No special expertise is needed to understand the above. Creators attract allies.

Throw yourself off a cliff and assemble an airplane on the way down. Good startup entrepreneurs are extremely aware of the impact of time because with each second, you are closer to the ground. The whole thing is about building an airplane that is self-sustaining. – Reid Hoffman

Find the Gap. Elon Musk read science fiction novels when he was young. He learnt that asking the right questions was important. The Internet was something that he tapped on. Kimbal and him started Zip2, a business that placed media content online. In 1999, it was bought over by Alta Vista. Later, he co-founded Paypal to revolutionize the problem of cheques. He somehow knew where to look for opportunities. Dean Kamen is a sunbird. He takes technology from other industries and tries to solve problems in a new industry. He studied helicopter construction models and tried to improve a stronger heart stent. For example, the Segway PT uses gyroscope technology employed in the aeroscope industry. Howard Schultz used the espresso bar concept in Italy and brought it to the US. However, direct copying the Italian model didn’t work and Schultz had to modify the concept slightly to suit customers. Surface analogies describe similar product features. Structural analogies reflect parallel underlying elements. It is important to understand underlying elements. Keep pushing the analogies you know to the limit in order to succeed. Bob Langer tries to use engineering to solve problems in a surgery lab. For example, he got inspiration from a gecko’s foot when he created a surgical bandage. Outdated concepts can be brought up to date. Google also re-applied old technology of ranking searches and made it work. Keep thinking about the assumptions and whether the idea can be transported elsewhere. When you allow your mind to wander and listen to other stories, it becomes easier to succeed. Another option is to be an architect. Elon Musk dreamt about space travel one day and calculated the costs of building a greenhouse in Mars. However, he realized that rocket costs even in Russia were too expensive. Eventually he decided to build it on his own. Architects must build things from the ground up. The rockets that existed were designed for maximum performance, which he didn’t need. Elon kept asking whether rockets could be made of cheaper materials in order to drive costs down. By manufacturing rockets in-house, Elon could control the costs better. He builds things from first principles, like the axioms in Mathematics. His project ran into a lot of problems. SpaceX was founded and it now hires more than 3000 people. His ultimate objective is to make life interplanetary. Architects are problem finders. Elon Musk also came up with the concept of an electric car. Stay alert to irritations you face. Sara Blakely made prototypes of footless panty hose because she found existing attire in the department stores uncomfortable. Ideas are fragile in their infancy and you should only tell those who want to improve your idea. Architects are people who do not need affirmations from others as to whether they have done well. Sometimes you need to wipe all your existing assumptions away. Spanx’s Footless Pantyhose and Power Panties have been top sellers. Sara Blakely is also the world’s youngest self-made billionaire. These creators think all the time. They may good use of existing anomalies. When you see a problem, keep asking questions. Strip away preconceived notions. Steve Ells founded Chipotle, a fast casual restaurant selling high quality Mexican street food. It is now a company worth $3.6 billion dollars. Integrators help to assemble opposites. For example, cubism is an abstract art form. It is crucial to mix and match ingredients. Their menu is customizable. Fast food has average quality food only. The food preparation techniques are constantly being tweaked and improved. Chipotle also uses organic ingredients. Most people suffer from functional fixedness. Refer to the candle, tacks, matches experiment. People need to see things differently. For example, the concept of a ‘luxury SUV’ is really a modern concept. The ability to think two or more opposite concepts at once is known as Janusian thinking. The Gilt founders married the concept of luxury goods and e-commerce. It offered a unique customer experience that kept people coming back for more. The most important tool is creativity and curiosity. Everything beings with an alert and questioning mind.

The first and most obvious criterion is that Sunbirds take something that already exists and transport the model to create something new. They relocate and reshape existing concepts across geographies and industries, and bring old ideas up to date. – Amy Wilkinson

Sunbirds willingly look in places that others dismiss. They gain an advantage from knowing a little bit about a lot of things and repurpose knowledge from seemingly unrelated fields. – Amy Wilkinson

Drive for Daylight. Race drivers focus on the horizon and do not look at the pavement beside them. Keep your long term mission in mind. Set sights on the horizon, scan edges and avoid nostalgia. Learn to set the pace. Hamdi Ulukaya, a Turk, is in the Yogurt business. Eventually he made a high-protein, low-fat Greek style yogurt and introduced it to the US market. Most of the yogurts are too sweet and artificial. He marketed his product differently to make it conspicuous for the consumer. He always had the goal in mind. The yogurt is known as Chabani. Greek yogurt is now very popular in the US. His company gained incredible market share in a short span of time but increasing production capacity rapidly. You have to learn to dictate the tempo. Her company focusses on early detection of illnesses in order to improve quality of life. Timing is crucial in the diagnosis of illnesses. Her ultimate goal is prevention. Catch things right and you have a good chance. One needs a radical forward-looking approach. To-go thinking, or focusing on what remains to be done, improves achievement. This helps provide a mental framework for success. It is crucial to be self-aware and to visualize your goal in a concrete way. GoPro is another example of a successful product. Creators move to create the next big thing. The dropbox founder tackles new problems. Dropbox was essentially a way of storing information on a cloud. People loved simplicity and didn’t carry a thumbdrive around. Learn to push yourself to the edge of your comfort zone. You must go fast and keep pushing your boundaries. Sending surveys to sense market demand is too slow. Entrepreneurs need to scan the environment. Zipcar also created new ideas for the car rental market. Airbnb relied on user ratings to determine whether a host was good to their guests. Airbnb originally started to accommodate conference goers who couldn’t find hotel space. You can go from being an outsider to an insider. Learn to update and revise products. Often, individuals who face constraints can improvise and then market these solutions. Scan fringe ideas to develop into mainstream ideas. Learn to avoid nostalgia. Don’t get stuck looking back. Keep looking forward. There is never the right time to do something. Learn to grow with the next generation. Creative people must also decide what not to do. Steve Jobs always believed in leaping ahead, even though it might cannibalize some of their sales. Seize the wheel and stay focused. Success is the ultimate objective.

Never look back unless you are planning to go that way. – Henry David Thoreau

You have to have clarity on why you are doing something, what motivates you, and how to deal with things that are really difficult. – Elizabeth Holmes

Koo and Fishbach found that when we are committed to a certain goal, focusing on past accomplishments tempers motivation. However, if we consider what we have left to do, motivation is not only sustained, but quickened. – Amy Wilkinson

If you start thinking you are good at something, that’s often the day you stop trying to be better and open the back door for someone to come after you. For every Google or Facebook, there are also shining stars overtaken – and that’s why we always aim higher. We never feel like we’re done. – Drew Houston

Creators willingly abandon a legacy, even a powerful one that brought them success. They avoid nostalgia. Whether it’s a fond memory or a comfortable approach, they refuse to let history hamper progress. – Amy Wilkinson

The best merchants in the world are not the ones who are predicting what’s next; rather it’s the ones who are dictating what’s next. So our job is to tell the marketplace, “This is what our football cleat should look like. This is what your training platform should be.” – Kevin Plank

If something sucks, I tell people to their face. It’s my job to be honest. – Steve Jobs

Fly the Ooda Loop. Levchin met Thiel and they decided to start a business. Two or three of their initial business models failed. Along the way, before Paypal was created, re-iterations had to be made all the time. How did the PayPal mafia created the OODA loop? OODA is also applicable to aerial combat. It means ‘Observe, Orient, Decide and Act’. It is important to make decisions based on changing circumstances. Orient means to distinguish the relevant from the irrelevant. Decide means to take a course of action. Act is to execute. Note that the loop flow is continuous. Learn to observe and process information fast. Information must be synthesized quickly. Stimuli must be differentiated and interpreted. Decisions must be made quickly. It is crucial to stay nimble and to master fast-cycle iterations. PayPal used the power of email accounts. Even if someone didn’t have a PayPal account, the email with the click to create an account would be sent to the user. It is important to make your intentions unpredictable while also reading competitor’s intentions. Learn to move fast. PayPal took instance measures to tighten security to manage credit card fraud. Hire from your wide network of friends. You need wingmen in your adventure. Members of the company must think independently. Sparring among employees aided progress. When something is not right, you have to speak up. You need to surround yourself with people who can correct you and your business model. Learn to keep tweaking and to make small improvements in your business. Learn to grow using an existing distribution platform. LinkedIn is also a big hit and is used for business networking. Release your product fast. Do not wait for the ‘perfect model’ to emerge before releasing it. Design can evolve over time through iterations. Palantir Technologies is now valued at $9 billion. It is a company that indexes structured and unstructured data on a massive scale. Many problems are solved via pattern recognition. Glow is an app that can provide actionable health data. Yammer is a social network, similar to Facebook, but it’s for companies. PayPal was an endless Ooda Loop and the founders experienced a learning lesson that not many could experience. Team members were young and competitive. The OODA loop becomes instinctive with practice.

The ability to learn faster than your competitors may be the only sustainable competitive advantage. – Arie de Geus

One rule of thumb is to take over a fairly narrow market with a technology that is ten times better than the next best thing. PayPal was valuable to eBay sellers because the next best alternative was a cashier’s check that would arrive in seven to ten days. – Peter Thiel

The single biggest predictor of attrition – lethal for small companies – is how many friends employees have at work. If we want to use models, you could think of a cult being better than a factory. – Peter Thiel

Fail Wisely. Failure provokes learning. Failure is indeed necessary. That is the Silicon Valley culture. You need to be brutally honest with yourself. Be transparent about your weaknesses and ask for help. Use small failures to push yourself further. Famous people rarely succeed on their first attempt. An example is the author, Ernest Hemingway. Learn how to proceed. Failure is never final. Learn to take small bets at every turn. Tell it on a smaller market to see if it will work first. This is also known as front-loading of failures. If you try many things, there is a high chance that one of them will work out. Kindergarten students fared better than engineers at simple puzzles because they won’t afraid to fail and to try. You can conduct experiments on consumer behaviour. Treat failure as a form of testing. If you are given time to redesign and tweak, you will have a better chance of success. What is a failure ratio that is acceptable to you? It is important to consider all risks before doing a business. Treat failure as just a fraction of your total portfolio. There is a saying that if you are failing, you are not being aggressive enough in exploring new options. It is important to not just doing what worked previously. Google engineers can devote 20% of time for personal projects. Venture capitalists often experience a high failure rate when investing in companies. Set a failure ratio that is greater than zero. Elon Musk had a hard time starting his all-electric vehicle company. He promised to refund customer deposits if Tesla failed to deliver their cars. The problem with the initial roadster was that the production costs was too high. Sourcing for a battery pack was a huge issue. If you feel your work matters, setbacks are less of a pain. Reed Hastings is the co-founder of Netflix. The company struggled badly in the late 2012. Now, it has surpassed HBO in the number of subscribers. If you want to improvise, you still need to accept the premise and then tweak accordingly. Adopt the ‘yes…and’ mentality. Always keep an open mind. Be receptive to new ideas. Neeleman is the co-founder of JetBlue. He has ADD but managed to overcome all odds. He was always very restless. He was very in touch with the ground. JetBlue did very well. However, the company was affected in 2007 by blizzards and flights were grounded. After he was ousted from his company, he used the business model to start something similar in Brazil. It was key to be passionate in something and never give up no matter what. Success is about perseverance. Understand that if you have a growth mindset, success will be easier. Which do you believe in? Ability or effort? Almost every entrepreneur has experienced uncomfortable moments etc. The biggest failure is not trying.

If you take two entrepreneurs and put them side by side, and they’re exactly identical except that one’s failed massively and the other hasn’t, I’d invest in the first over the latter. Learning from failure makes you a more valuable asset. – Matt Cohler

If you’re a founder or CEO, you have to do all kinds of tasks you might not want to do. Nothing is too menial. If you don’t do your chores, the company won’t succeed. You’ve got to do whatever it takes. – Elon Musk

If something is important enough, or you believe that something is important enough, even if you are scared, you still keep going. – Elon Musk

Failure is only something you know in hindsight. – Shawn Carolan

Network Minds. Jawbone’s initial UP product had problems after it launched. The CEO offered full refunds for the product. He assembled a team from all departments and dissected what went wrong. In Dec 2012, it was relaunched and it was a huge success. Diversity helps to unlock breakthrough results. Build on each other’s ideas. Assemble a diverse team. During the WWII, the allies assembled teams to crack at German military intelligence. Elon Musk draws on a huge range of expertise. In this world, it is difficult to be a genius alone. It is all about harnessing different strengths. It is a challenge to bring design and engineering together. Jawbone combines hard and software quite well. The initial problem with the fitness band was that people subjected it to rough treatment and it didn’t function well. Later, they improved the protective layer. Computing is now on your wrist. Create a mobile and modifiable workspace for people to get the most out of them. Kelley and Dean Hovey worked together. Their company is IDEO. Kelley has created many inventions. Harness collective brainpower of people. Once you have a prototype, people start believing in you. Everyone can offer something unique. The space you design must relate to the type of problem solving. Clarifying of work roles are important. Pulse News is a brilliant news app. Kothari and Gupta networked with café patrons to tweak their Pulse News app. Dietz designed the MRI scanner for kids to make it look like an adventure. Patients were much more satisfied after the scan. People can help unlock solutions. Networking comes with a benefit. Breakthrough comes from ‘different’ thinking. Although it is easier to work with homogenous groups, it is better to work with heterogeneous groups as they yield better results. Surround ourselves with people who are dissimilar. Build flash teams for short projects. They can be disbanded after the project. For instance, search and rescue operations teams need to be assembled quickly. Revolution Foods assembled a whole group of diverse people in order to find nutritious ingredients and think of how to cook them. There is a need to pay attention to team dynamics too. Both veterans and newcomers must be included. You can create prize competitions to entice people to work together and solve problems. Get different teams to work on the same problem and offer a prize to the winner. This is because people can look at problems without industry biases. Learn to gamify work. Playing games with others can help to build relationships. Foldit is a protein folding game and one can compete with others around the globe. Learn to make it fun for people. Collaboration and divergent approaches are more and more popular and it can deliver synergies. Networked minds can solve complicated problems.

If you are talking about an idea, no one helps you. But the minute you bring a prototype in the room, everyone is ready to tell you what is wrong with it, and they can help you build and build and build. – Kelley

Interestingly, the further the problem was from the solvers’ expertise, the more likely they were to solve it. – Karim Lakhani

Gift Small Goods. Robert Langer runs a biomedical engineering lab in Cambridge. He is also a very humble man. He is also prolific at what he does. Folkman hired him and Langer worked in Boston Children’s Hospital. Success is about caring about others’ needs. Creators should follow to help others, even if it’s in a small way. Develop allies with those who are willing to reciprocate. Helping others will enhance your reputation. A positive word of mouth can go a lot way. Helping others makes you more productive. Create mutually beneficial partnerships. Langer often helps his students. You can only go so far if you do everything alone. Sometimes, even sharing knowledge with others can be good. Co-operation is contagious. When you send cards to others, there is a high chance you will be able to receive one back. Many people try to repay small acts of kindness. Generosity can have a multiplier effect at times. It’s always about people first. You may even receive help in your careers. You must establish parameters for those you choose to help. LinkedIn is good because you can see the number of recommendations the person has. Learn to set parameters for time and effort. Giving helps to deepen relationships and broaden connections. Learn to be interactive. Give-and-take should happen. You should not be giving all the time. Even if you are an angel investor who rejects someone’s business idea, you can still try to give him advice. If the clients are too large for you, you can refer them to someone else. It is important to be nice to others. More than 200 creators participated in the creation of this book. Generosity can be an inspiration.

It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

It’s not as if others will lie across railroad tracks for you, but they will think about how things could be useful for you. If you’ve focused on little things that you can do that are beneficial to others, most people will care about you and be eager to help. – Reid Hoffman

The Power of Six. Pierre Omidyar and Jeff Skoll founded eBay. They managed to overcome website difficulties. Now, they have millions of users. Each of the 6 skills sustain each other. The skills are accessible to all. Each one can be developed and cultivated. Make many bets so that you can learn. Always believe in yourself and in your idea. All of us have the power to be creators.


World-class Internal Audit by Norman Marks

We were a world-class audit team. There is always a need to change and seek improvement. Solve departments solve their problems. Learn to be innovative in your work. This book features highlights of my career. Hopefully, the reader will be able to gain insights. Learn from your mistakes and learn from those I made too.

In the Beginning. I joined PwC straight out of college. I learnt to treat audit partners with respect. Gutter Brothers were an audit firm. Back then, I was just labelled as an ‘other’, which was even a lower rank than the receptionist. I was doing an apprenticeship by then. Respect must be earned through your actions.

I learned a valuable lesson from this. No matter how high you see yourself, how magnificent you look in the mirror of your vanity, others may see you as a pompous nitwit or worse. – Norman Marks

Another situation, many years later, reminded me never to think too highly of yourself. – Norman Marks

I am obdurate. Later on, I worked under a number of audit seniors and supervisors. One of my appraisal was rated as below average and that I was ‘obdurate’. My manager thought that I was inflexible. He believed that I was stern. Asking questions was a must. I asked to ask managers why must I do certain stuff. Do not follow the procedures last year blindly as last year’s work might not be done properly. Never simply follow a checklist without understanding what it is about. Simply use standard audit programs as a tool and a checklist. It is important to understand and appreciate the business. This is a powerful checklist. Keep asking ‘why’.

I believe very strongly that only when people have a solid understanding of why something needs to be done will they do it well. – Norman Marks

Too much quality. Sometimes, people in positions of authority do not have the right experience and ability. Learn to use analytics, trends and rations as an audit technique. Use performance indicators to detect unusual patterns in inventory level. Analytics is useful to save time during the audit. Once, the audit partner said my work-papers were great but I took too much to perform the work. Time taken to perform the work was a cost to the client. My work was apparently ‘too good’ and it didn’t have to be that that good. For internal auditors, the focus on documentation is not as great as for external auditors. IA’s work is not reviewed by examiners or regulators. Our audit opinion is for internal use. Internal auditors are rarely sued. If there are dispute in findings, it is important to have working papers as evidence. Interpreting the audit findings is also an issue. Working papers are crucial if there is a fraud investigation. You can review by talking to the audit team. If external auditors are going to rely on internal auditors’ work, documentation is important. Creating working papers should not be very ‘costly’ and the time wasted could be used for another audit. Apply ‘stop and go auditing’. This means extending the audit if risk was higher than expected but shorten an audit if the risk was lower than anticipated. Sometimes, cutting short an audit is useful. The CAE must balance the value and cost of developing working papers.

There is no way that audit documentation should take such an enormous percentage of total audit engagement time. If my internal auditors spent more than 10% of their time on working papers, I would need to know why. – Norman Marks

The value of criticism. I was good at flow-charting and completing ICQs. I received a lot of comments from the CAG specialist and requested for a meeting with him. All the review notes made sense. Luckily, he was patient and explained what I had done wrong and what should have been done. Later, I re-did the working papers and in future, I did not receive that many review notes. I realized that my flowcharting systems was lacking. I needed to have a better grasp of the fundamental principles. Technical skills are important too. I respected the CAG specialist and learnt a lot from him. Criticism can educate and change you. Later, I was hired by the CAG team as they were impressed with my knowledge.

The value of writing and teaching. I loved history. I was a gifted programmer and knew how to use the computer auditing sessions. To my superiors, I was an expert in the subject manner. For new technology, it is best to implement in stages. IT systems must be built on a solid foundation. The foundations and fundamentals don’t change. For example, you must understand internal controls, risk management, IS, cash management etc. Later on, I was interested in microprocessors. Tell people why the tasks they are doing are important. Avoid technical language and use ordinary English. In order to teach, you have to learn the fundamentals. Therefore, there is huge benefits for learning to teach. Use examples and diagrams when teaching.

The value of Curiosity and Research. I was the IT auditor for a large insurance firm. Keep asking and make sure that audit tests are not run on old data or old systems. From then now, I had a keen interest in ITGC. Sometimes you need to look deeper and not be fooled by the name of a system or report. Someone could have changed the name of the report but the data was not relevant. My common sense impressed him.

The executive attention span. I drafted ICQs to those programmers who had power to change many elements of the IT environment. There was once when I had to explain my work to a senior partner but I realised that he was not paying attention. I realized that once I had hesitated, the senior partner stopped listening to me. Senior management wants you to explain your point succinctly and quickly. They don’t like to hear things that they don’t want to hear. He wanted to size me up. Senior management only wants to know whether there are any issues in the audit. You should conclude what the effectiveness of controls meant for the organization as a whole.

You are how others see you. I was about to receive my annual evaluation from David. However, apparently, I had offended a senior colleague of David. I appeared arrogant in front of that colleague. When I approached my other colleagues, I realized that that was what they were saying about me too. Charisma is important in audit. When climbing the corporate ladder, you need to learn to be a charismatic leader.

Showing that you are the best at what you do may win you a job, but will rarely win friends or influence people. If we are to be successful, we need to surround ourselves with people who are interested in our success as well as their own. Arrogance turns them away. – Normal Marks

The search for charisma. I learnt charisma from leaders during my short stint in the US office. A large part of it is smiling. You need to behave in a way where people find it appealing. Demonstrate that you place value in your staff and you can trust them. Everyone is valuable and interesting in their own way. I have been enlightened by conversations. You should talk to everyone if you want to find out more about the organization’s problems. Listen to people on the ground. Show respect to others and listen well.

I have learned that people love those who will listen to them. You can be charismatic by listening actively, showing respect and attention to another’s views. – Norman Marks

The Root Cause. You cannot report the symptom. You need to dig to the root cause of the problem. Keep saying ‘why’. This is the 5 ‘why’ method.

If the auditor reports a problem that is only a symptom, management is unlikely to take the actions necessary to fix the problem permanently. Only when the root cause is treated, rather than the symptom, is the deficiency addressed. – Norman Marks

Do we speak the same language? The English spoken in America and England have slight differences. For instance, to the British, ‘ta’ means ‘thank you’ to the British people. Make the effort to speak clearly so that others can understand you. Do not assume that everybody understands each other. Take responsibility for what you say.

WIIFM. Sometimes, if you want to climb the corporate ladder, connections matter. Is this behaviour consistent with your values and principles? It was against my principles to steal others’ credit. People usually only care about themselves. They think in this perspective ‘What’s In It For Me?’ You need to understand how people act. Over time, playing office politics will create enemies.

Where do I go from here? I decided the life of a partner was not for me. The opportunities and salary are more important than the title awarded to you. You must look forward to the next role before jumping in.

Only take a job when you see yourself excited and running towards it. Don’t take a job just to escape your current position. – Norman Marks

Wearing a White Hat. People make mistakes and controls are important.

Awkward Days. If you can’t trust people, you can’t expect them to be loyal. If you have a bad boss, you will see that people will start leaving.

When you can’t trust your own people, especially when there is no good reason for mistrust, they will neither trust you nor owe you loyalty. – Norman Marks

Some measure their value and effectiveness by the number and significance of their audit findings. I measure my value and effectiveness in terms of how management trusts and looks to me to help them be successful. – Norman Marks

A great but unlikely compliment. I wanted to move into line management before wanting to consider whether to be an IA head. The CAE should report administratively to senior management and administratively to the Audit Committee. Compensation for the CAE should be set by the Audit Committee. Internal auditors should be experts in internal controls and processes. Workload assignment is important.

When to suggest an answer. It is good for auditors to have some line experience. First, one needs to assess the design of the controls. Learn to create a control matrix. The control matrix can help you make an assessment and prevent excessive audit. Be wary of backlog requests. Do not be quick to suggest answers before understanding the problem. Do not suggest a solution if you know just the symptom.

Learning about Limits. Common sense, together with logic, can help one accomplish a lot in life. Sometimes, it is better not to set limits for yourself. If you enforce the HR policies too strictly, some people might not like it. This might make you more enemies.

Empathy. Walk in someone else’s shoes before you criticize them. Understand what others are going through and the challenges they face. Walk around and ask others how they are doing and show some concern. When they know you care for them, they tend to be more loyal towards you. Sometimes, you need the humanistic and caring approach of management.

Empathy, understanding what it was like to walk in the auditees’ shoes, would help me craft a report with recommendations that were practical, business-oriented, and achievable. Having empathy would help me influence and effect the change I desired and felt was necessary for the business. – Norman Marks

The Customer. It is important to follow-up with the customer and update them if the query is still in progress. The person who made initial customer contact should take ownership of the case.

The lesson was that hiring motivated and experienced people may cost a little more per person, but they need little supervision or management, are far more productive, and in general create products that are practical, relevant, and useful to the business. – Norman Marks

The Best Job I ever had. The best way to know a job is through a network. Tosco did well due to strategic management decisions. I was given room to grow as the head of Internal Audit. IA should be able to effect change and adapt to changing business conditions. The staff need to be talented and also be able to communicate well.

Hiring the Best. I started off as the CAE with no staff under me. Eventually, I hired 3 experienced people. In IA, both hard and soft skills are necessary. In addition, being intelligent and having a curious mindset is necessary. Auditors need to think for themselves. During the interview, ask what the candidate reads. Ask the candidate audit-related questions and dig out more information on him. Think about a situation where you have never encountered before. A way to approach auditing is to evaluate the risks and to better manage them. Sometimes, if the risk are at an acceptable level to management, then no further testing is required. Having experienced staff is important.

Too many auditors are trained not to think. They are told to follow an audit program or checklist that somebody else created. – Norman Marks

Humility and Respect. I was the director of IA at Tosco. Even if you are very senior, always act with humility and respect. Trust your employees to work diligently. I was proud of the management team, who placed people ahead of profits. Listen from people who can offer different perspectives. People like to feel empowered and respected. IA was seen as a path to business. Create a fun environment so that people will stay.

The risk-based IA plan. Learn to build up your audit universe. Always practise risk-based auditing. Sometimes, a full-scope audit can use up too much of your resources. Later, I understood the concept of ‘opportunity cost’. Your audit plan can have relative ranking of risk factors. I included risks within each business unit and compared them across the enterprise. Focus on the more significant risks to the organization. There are endless possibilities of audit. I was able to substantially cut down the audit time required. The more audits you do, the more risks you are able to assess. One average, one audit member could complete up to 12 audits per year. Learn to perform an ERM first, before developing your audit universe. In the past, nobody talked about ERM. The whole point is to discuss on the wide-range of activities for the organization.

My first frauds. Over the years, I have performed many investigations. Sometimes, companies want to protect the fraudster because he is still a valuable member of the organization. Do not commit ‘white lies’ as they may have serious repercussions moving forward. Limit the people in the ‘know’. Do not jeopardise people’s career if they are under investigation. Sometimes, they might actually be innocent. Anyone is capable of committing fraud, even your close friend. It is important to keep investigations confidential, so as not to affect others’ reputations. Never assume guilt unless you have sufficient evidence.

Not all auditors hate risk. Management can decide how much risk to take, but auditors can challenge this. IA should not try to eliminate every risk that they see. Do your audit customers smile? It is not about eliminating risk, but about taking the right risk. There needs to be security over the batch jobs. It is essential to take a business perspective when it comes to auditing.

Internal auditors should understand that business is not about avoiding or limiting risk, it is about taking the right risk. I have learned that all internal auditors should consider themselves business people who have a job as internal auditors. Their work should be intended to contribute to organization success, not just point out deficiencies or “findings”. – Norman Marks

Loretta and Wow! Audit Projects. As IA, you can make the person’s job more interesting by making better use of their manuals and documents. Learn to reinvent your work. Make every project a ‘Wow!’ project. IA needs to talk to people to understand the risks that the organization faces, and what are the risks and opportunities. Spend time to talk to people on the ground. Timeliness is important. Long meetings are unproductive in nature and should be avoided. Auditors must talk in the language of business executives.

Why do I need to write an audit report? One needs to demonstrate empathy. You need to care about the success of the team. The report is a vehicle of communication. It benefits the management and the audit committee. Clear communications are easily understood. The report must be clear and concise. Management and the AC wants to know the following: 1) Is there anything they need to worry about?; 2) Are there any issues of such significance that somebody in senior management should be monitoring how and when they are addressed?. Manage on ‘exception’. After reading the first few paragraphs, you should be able to obtain the correct information. An opinion can be expressed on a written scale, 1) Satisfactory; 2) Needs Improvement; 3) Unsatisfactory. Management just want ‘high-level’ information. The goal is to effect improvement and not to keep reporting issues. Risks must be managed effectively. If management corrects the issue before the report is issued, I can drop the finding. Is it necessary to organize a closing meeting? I am looking out for information to make IA communications more accurate. If you know one audit report might affect other areas of the business, it is possible to share the findings with that area of the business.

Auditing Forward. IA must be independent and objective. Evaluate and improve the control and governance processes. Auditing forward means being involved in forward looking activities and ensure that controls are in place. Controls should be implemented before ‘production’ phase. This is more of a consulting project. IA’s success has to be inter-wined with success of project implementation. Going live without testing is potentially high-risk. Identify areas where the project is most likely to experience pitfalls. IA can value add if it can improve the company’s future. Telling about problems in the past can help, but only to a limited extent. Be agile and learn to change the IA plan swiftly. Know that business environments can change. Obtain monthly operating reports and key metrics so that analytics can be performed. Business leaders like IA who can value-add.

Effecting Change. Some IA functions measure their success by the number of recommendations made and % of findings accepted by management. The number of audit findings should diminish over time. IA must target the root cause and actions needed to fix the problem. By right, all recommendations should be accepted by management. Measure quality through the change that is made. The number of significant findings should be decreasing over time. IA should enable organizations to take corrective actions. ‘Does internal audit help you identify the need for change and improvement in the business, and then to get those changes made?’

Leadership. People need to have confidence in you. You cannot fake who you are. Always be the best that you can be. Show respect and listen to others. Give credit to your team members. Ask questions that make people think hard. I have received good feedback from those around me. Try to mentor others and to help their careers whenever possible. People need to think for themselves. People from the Big 4 are trained not to think. This sort of thinking needs to be reversed. There is a difference between a boss and a leader. Leadership is about providing direction, implementing plans and motivating people. Leadership styles can be modified and tailored according to the situation. Trust and loyalty are really crucial. Be loyal and build strong teams. Understand what motivates your staff and where they want to go in their careers. Always be there for your employees. A leader is supposed to motivate employees so that they can perform to the best of their ability.

Working with difficult people. Sometimes, you will meet people who dislike you on a personal level. If you want to be successful, you need to learn how to work with difficult people. There is nothing much you can do but apologize sometimes. Sometimes, you may enter a workplace with a high degree of politics. At times, you might not be able to change a difficult situation. In that case, the best thing to do is to leave on a good note. You can take courses on how to deal with difficult people. Learn to listen to angry people talk. Eventually they will simmer down. Being heard is almost like being loved. Being alone can allow the person to calm down. Always try to be professional and polite. There is little to gain if you keep criticizing the other person. Difficult people are difficult for a reason. That is because they may have something to hide.

Working for a Difficult Region. It is ridiculous if you need management permission to perform the audit. IA should be given full access and co-operation. If bonuses are tied to number and severity of audit problems, people will clean up data and be extra vigilant when dealing with auditors. Sometimes, people do not see value in IA. Do not have the aim of disciplining others.

Organizational Culture. CAEs should be concerned with the organizational culture. Is there a culture of integrity? Is the culture appropriate for realizing and delivering value? The CAE must stand tall. Sometimes, when the CAE reports bad news, the CE might want the CAE to be fired. There might be a culture of manipulation of books and earnings management. There must be a strong tone from the top. Do not have the culture of ‘cooking the books’. If there is, it could be a good idea to leave.

The expansion of internal auditing. Pay attention to contracts audit. Sometimes, there can be loopholes that may be exploited. Investigations should only be performed by well-trained personnel. Determination of whether fraud is committed is a legal responsibility. Do not believe that guilt is present until all evidence is in. Audit must be performed to check compliance with licensing terms.

World Class Internal Auditing. This means being an IA function that few are aware of and not many people adopt. Do not simply follow best practice. Always audit forward. Embed your IA team in all major initiatives. An effective leader should support the team and provide adequate resources. There are disadvantages with inexperienced auditors. Focus on important risks and do not waste time on immaterial activities. Do not try to make someone else look bad. There are 14 attributes to a world-class IA. 1) Be praised by AC and top management. 2) A cool place to work (Build a bonding spirit). 3) The department people want to transfer to, but hate to leave. 4) Where people think (observe similar situations in other companies; be creative and resourceful; standardized audit programs may not be applicable for all; learn to challenge norms). 5) Where people are set free to choose an audit approach that stimulates and develops, as well as getting to the heart of the problem – tackling the root issues head on. Auditors must get to the root cause of the problems, which tend to be people. Sometimes, people make mistakes because they are overworked. 6) The source of projects that are noticed, that will be told to the team’s grandchildren (major business improvements). 7) The internal consultants of choice and a source of talent. 8) At the exit interview, the manager says ‘thank you’ sincerely (Listen to your customers. If they value you, you are in a much better position). 9) Fully leverage the organization’s risk management process (automation, base audit plan on risk-adjusted risk universe (ERM etc)). 10) Fully leverage advanced continuous monitoring and auditing capabilities – as part of a risk-based audit program (perform analytics, employ technology for advantage, crowdsource etc. 11) Where the CAE sends a message to the CEO asking to chat, and the CEO comes to the CAE’s office (Learn to listen well). 12) Expanding into new and cool stuff, even if not traditional audit areas, such as process improvement, six sigma, audit of risk management and governance (use the LEAN concept to reduce waste, inefficiencies etc). 13) Where internal auditing is seen by management as a competitive advantage (see the value add in IA). 14) Where the CAE is never satisfied (learn from other CAEs, think outside the box).

After all, our job is not to score points telling people how many mistakes they made. Our job is to help people understand whether things are OK, and, when they are not, work with them to effect the necessary changes. – Norman Marks

Celebrating mistakes. Do not live in fear of making mistakes. However, one should learn from their mistakes or it might become an issue in future. However, there are some weaknesses that one must accept. Make adjustments to your behaviour. Sometimes, what appears to be negligence may not be so. Stop before reacting. Learn from your mistakes in order to help you succeed.

Looking back and forward. Not many IA departments assess and provide assurance on effectiveness of risk management. Very few consider governance issues. It is simply not just a ‘check the box’ function. Too many ACs don’t understand the potential of IA. IA practices must continue to improve. Business environments are getting more complex.

Audit checklist on a desk, with tick against audit satisfactory

Fiction quotes 151 to 200

  1. ‘It was the sort of idea that might easily decondition the more unsettled minds among the higher castes- make them lose their faith in happiness as the Sovereign Good and take believing, instead, that the goal was somewhere beyond, somewhere outside the present human sphere that the purpose of life was not the maintenance of well-being, but some intensification and refining of consciousness, some enlargement of knowledge.’ Mustapha Mond
  2. ‘We haven’t any use for old things. Particularly when they’re beautiful. Beauty’s attractive, and we don’t want people to be attracted by old things. We want them to like the new ones.’ Mustapha Mond
  3. ‘The world’s stable now. People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can’t get. They’re well off; they’re safe; they’re never ill; they’re not afraid of death; they’re blissfully ignorant of passion and old age; they’re plagued with no mothers or fathers; they’ve got no wives, or children, or lovers to feel strongly about; they’re so conditioned that they practically can’t help behaving as they ought to behave. And if anything should go wrong, there’s soma.’ Mustapha Mond
  4. ‘But that’s the price we have to pay for stability. You’ve got to choose between happiness and what people used to call high art. We’ve sacrificed the high art. We have the feelies and the scent organ instead.’ Mustapha Mond
  5. ‘Stability isn’t nearly so spectacular as instability. And being contended has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune, none of the picturesqueness of a struggle with temptation, or a fatal overthrow by passion or doubt. Happiness is never grand.’ Mustapha Mond
  6. ‘That’s another item in the cost of stability. It isn’t only art that’s incompatible with happiness; it’s also science. Science is dangerous; we have to keep it most carefully chained and muzzled.’ Mustapha Mond
  7. ‘They say that it is the fear of death and of what comes after death that makes men turn to religion as they advance in years.’ Mustapha Mond
  8. ‘The religious sentiment tends to develop as we grow older; to develop because, as the passions grow calm, as the fancy and sensibilities are less excited and less excitable, our reason become less troubled in its working, less obscured by the images, desires and distractions, in which it used to be absorbed…that phenomenal existence is no more bolstered up by impressions from within or from without, we feel the need to lean on something that abides, something that will never play us false – a reality, an absolute and everlasting truth.’ Mustapha Mond
  9. ‘God isn’t compatible with machinery and scientific medicine and universal happiness. You must make your choice. Our civilization has chosen machinery and medicine and happiness. That’s why I have to keep these religious books locked up in the safe…’ Mustapha Mond
  10. ‘Civilization has absolutely no need of nobility or heroism. These things are symptoms of political inefficiency. In our society, nobody has any opportunities for being noble or heroic. Conditions have got to be thoroughly unstable before the occasion can arise. When there are wars, where there are divided allegiances, where there are temptations to be resisted, objects of love to be fought for or defended – there, obviously, nobility and heroism have some sense. But there aren’t any wars nowadays.’ Mustapha Mond
  11. ‘But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin…All right then, I’m claiming the right to be unhappy.’ The Savage
  12. ‘I’d rather you shot at tin cans with your air-rifle in the backyard, but I know you’ll go after birds. Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit them, but remember that it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.’ Atticus Finch, to his children (To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee)
  13. ‘If you want the rainbow, you have to deal with the rain…’ Hazel Grace (The Fault in Our Stars by John Green)
  14. ‘First of all, if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.’ Atticus
  15. ‘…But do one thing for me if you will: you just hold your head high and keep those fists down. No matter what anybody says to you, don’t you let them get your goat. Try fighting with your head for a change…it’s a good one, even if it resists learning.’ Atticus Finch
  16. ‘Sometimes, we have to make the best of things, and the way we conduct ourselves when the chips are down.’ Atticus Finch
  17. ‘They’re certainly entitled to think that, and they’re entitled to full respect for their opinions. But before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.’ Atticus Finch
  18. ‘I certainly am a nigger-lover. I do my best to love everybody…I’m hard put, sometimes – baby, it’s never an insult to be called what somebody thinks is a bad name. It just shows you how poor that person is, it doesn’t hurt you. So don’t let Mrs Dubose get you down. She has enough troubles of her own.’ Atticus Finch
  19. ‘I wanted you to see something about her – I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.’ Atticus Finch
  20. ‘You know the truth, and the truth is this: some Negroes lie, some Negroes are immoral, some Negro men are not to be trusted around women – black or white. But that is a truth that applies to the human race and to no particular race of men. There is not a person in this courtroom who has never told a lie, who has never done an immoral thing, and there is no man living who has never looked upon a woman without desire.’ Atticus Finch
  21. ‘…Thomas Jefferson once said that all men are created equal…We know that all men are not created equal in the sense that some people would have us believe – some people are smarter than others, some people have more opportunity because they’re born with it, some men make more money than others, some ladies make better cakes than others – some people are born gifted beyond the normal scope of most men.’ Atticus Finch
  22. ‘Our courts have their faults, as does every human institution, but in this country our courts are the greatest levellers, and in our courts all men are created equal.’ Atticus Finch
  23. ‘I know, and lots of them probably deserve it, too – but in the absence of eye witnesses there’s always a doubt, sometimes only the shadow of a doubt. The law says reasonable doubt. But I think a defendant’s entitled to the shadow of a doubt. There’s always the possibility, no matter how improbable, that he’s innocent.’ Atticus Finch
  24. ‘As you grow older, you’ll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don’t you forget it – whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash.’ Atticus Finch
  25. ‘You’ve many more miles to go, son. A jury’s vote supposed to be secret. Serving on a jury forces a man to make up his mind and declare himself about something. Men don’t like to do that. Sometimes it’s unpleasant.’ Atticus Finch
  26. ‘That’s what I thought too when I was your age. If there’s one kind of folks, why can’t they get along with each other? If they’re all alike, why do they go out of their way to despise each other?’ Jem
  27. ‘I can’t live one way in town and another way in my home.’ Atticus Finch
  28. ‘Two penguins in the penguin house were a little bit different. One was named Roy, and the other named Silo. Roy and Silo were both boys. But they did everything together. They bowed to each other. And walked together. They sang to each other and swam together. Wherever Roy went, Silo went too. They didn’t spend much time with the girl penguins and the girl penguins didn’t spend much time with them’ Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson (And Tango makes three)
  29. ‘Roy and Silo taught Tango how to sing for them when she was hungry. They fed her food from their beaks. They snuggled her in their nest at night. Tango was the very first penguin in the zoo to have two daddies.’ Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson (And Tango makes three)
  30. Atticus Finch captivated me with his measured, intelligent espousal of the importance of equality, democracy and justice for all.
  31. ‘Well educated, diligent and genial, Finch also has the courage of his convictions. Not only does he defend African American Tom Robinson, wrongly accused of raping a white woman – much to the chagrin of the majority of his fellow (white) townsfolk – he then sits outside the jailhouse to protect Robinson from a lynch mob.’
  32. ‘The worst form of execution: You stake a guy out on an anthill in the desert. He’s facing upward, and you put honey all over his balls and pecker, and you cut off his eyelids so he has to stare at the sun till he dies.’ Weary (Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut)
  33. ‘Earthlings must be the terrors of the Universe! If other planets aren’t now in danger from Earth, they soon will be. So tell me the secret so I can take it back to Earth and save us all: How can a planet live at peace?’ Billy, to aliens on planet Tralfamadoria (Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut)
  34. ‘There once was an onion man who wanted to shed his layers to unveil the core of his soul and being. What does it mean to be an onion, he wondered? He started shedding the layers. After a while, he grew lighter and more hopeful on finding the truth. Soon, he realized that he was left with nothing. The layers were all he had. Rephrased and Extracted from ‘Unapologetically Insane Tales by Zed Yeo’
  35. ‘If you put a puny ant on your torso, it could never understand that the entire terrain that it is crawling on is actually a human being. You are too huge for the ant to notice, too big to be perceived. It will only see your torso as a landscape upon which it stands.’ The Maker (Unapologetically Insane Tales by Zed Yeo)
  36. If he could just understand us…then perhaps we could come to some kind of arrangement with him… extracted from ‘Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka’
  37. ‘The Boy and the Grass (Story 3): A boy asked the grass how it felt to be green. The grass didn’t respond. The boy was disappointed but didn’t give up trying to talk to it. He kept on trying. Finally, when he was a grown man, the grass replied. One day, the grass said ‘Moo!’ That was the only response it could give. ‘Moo!’ was all the grass knew. Despite this, the boy continued talking to it and they formed an interesting, relationship for life. rephrased and extracted from ‘Unapologetically Insane Tales’ by Zed Yeo
  38. ‘The Boy and the Grass (Story 2): A boy asked the grass how it felt to be green. The grass didn’t respond. The boy was disappointed but didn’t give up trying to talk to it. He kept on trying. Finally, when he was a grown man, the grass replied. The grass was impressed by his persistence. The grass admitted that he learnt English from the boy. They remained best friends for the rest of their lives. rephrased and extracted from ‘Unapologetically Insane Tales by Zed Yeo’
  39. ‘The Boy and the Grass (Story 1): A boy asked the grass how it felt to be green. The grass didn’t respond. The boy was disappointed but didn’t give up trying to talk to it. He kept on trying. This went on for his lifetime till he died. The grass still didn’t speak. rephrased and extracted from ‘Unapologetically Insane Tales by Zed Yeo’
  40. ‘The glad game was to just find something about everything to be glad about – no matter what it was…You see, when you’re hunting for the glad things, you sort of forget the other kind.’ – Pollyanna
  41. ‘You see, lots of times; you get so used to looking for something to be glad about. And most generally there is something about everything that you can be glad about, if you keep hunting long enough to find it.’ – Pollyanna
  42. ‘I like to do almost everything that’s LIVING. Of course I don’t like the other things very well – sewing, and reading out loud, and all that. But THEY aren’t LIVING. Aunt Polly says they’re “learning to live”.’ – Pollyanna
  43. ‘People radiate what is in their minds and in their hearts. If a man feels kindly and obliging, his neighbours will feel that way, too, before long. But if he scolds and scowls and criticizes – his neighbors will return scowl for scowl, and add interest! When you look for the bad, expecting it, you will get it. When you know you will find the good – you will get that!’ – Reverent Paul
  44. ‘I don’t think I shall ever want to ride anywhere anymore. It will be so good just to walk. Oh, I’m so glad! I’m glad for everything. Why, I’m glad now I lost my legs for a while, for you never, never know how perfectly lovely legs are till you haven’t got them.’ – Pollyanna
  45. ‘You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you’ll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.’ Alaska
  46. ‘Things that did not go right, things that seemed okay at the time because we could not see the future…If only we could see the endless string of consequences that result from our smallest actions. But we can’t know better until knowing better is useless.’ Miles Halter
  47. ‘We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are. We cannot be born, and we cannot die. Like all energy, we can only change shapes and sizes and manifestations. They forget that when they get old. They get scared of losing and failing. But that part of us greater than the sum of our parts cannot begin and cannot end, and so it cannot fail. ‘Miles Halter
  48. ‘The problem, dear professor, is that you wanted someone who could be made intelligent but still be kept in a cage and displayed when necessary to reap the honours you seek. The hitch is that I’m a person.’ Charlie Gordon (Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes)
  49. ‘I don’t think it’s right to make you pass a test to eat.’ Charlie Gordon, reflecting on the treatment of the lab mouse Algernon (Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes)
  50. ‘Lawyers are all right, but they don’t appeal to me. They’re all right if they go around saving innocent guys’ lives. But you don’t do that kind of stuff if you’re a lawyer. All you do is make a lot of money and play golf and play bridge and buy cars and drink Martinis and look like a hot-shot. And besides, even if you did go around saving guy’s lives, how would you know if you did it because you really wanted to save guys’ lives, or because you did it because you really wanted to be a terrific lawyer, with everyone slapping you on the back and congratulating you in court when the trial is over, the reporters and everybody, the way it is in the movies? How would you know you weren’t being a phony? The trouble is, you wouldn’t.’ Holden Caulfield


Watches by Rick Sapp

History of Watches

Was there a beginning of time? Is time a problem? We need to keep track of time. Sometimes, we complain that time is passing too quickly and that it is flying by. Moon phases are important for farmers. In the past, the Egyptians also invented the sundial to measure time. Sticks and stones were placed in the sand. The day and night were eventually dissected into smaller and mechanical elements. A day was divided into 24 hours, with 60 minutes per hour. In 725AD, a monk managed to build a mechanical clock. China was the inventor of giant clocks. Some of the clocks were powered by dripping water from a chain drive. Sailors and policemen needed to monitor time. The personal watch was invented. Nowadays, watches are a fashion statement. By the 16th century, pocket watches were common in nature. The modern watch had already taken shape during that period. The mainspring was invented in the 1500s and it helped to power the watch. Watch making is an art that is passed down from one generation to the next. It was a challenge to keep the internal components lubricated. In 1704, jewels were used as these helped to reduce friction. It is common for the number of jewels to be advertised at the back of a watch. In general, most watches had at least 17 jewels. In 1750, enamelled dials enabled the watch to be seen at night. The first self-winding watch was invented in 1780 by Abraham-Louis Perrelet. By the 19th century, chronometers and second hands were introduced. Sapphire crystals are harder than hardened quartz. In 1884, Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) was adopted. It is fundamental for international schedules. Various alloys were invented in the 1900s and some of them are resistant to shock and temperature variations. A watch strapped to the wrist was easier to review than a pocket watch. In 1914, Eterna invented the alarm watch. In 1926, Rolex invented the first water-proof Oyster case. The Hamilton’s Electric 500 was the first electronic watch and was produced in 1957. Electronic watches are way more accurate than mechanical watches. Modern electronic automatic quartz watches were invented by Casio. The first GPS watch was invented by Casio in 1999. Are watches dead with the advent of modern technology?

It is simply human nature that people want what they cannot have, and the wealthier someone is, the more willing they are to invest in the work of craftsmen. – Rick Sapp

The watch, regardless of its form, will survive the test of time because of Man’s need to control his destiny, to count his accomplishments, to cram a lot of activities into a single day or night. Time stands still for no one. The watch is the messenger. – Rick Sapp

Armand Nicolet – Swiss luxury watch brand. Everything is developed in-house and the company was founded in 1902.

Ball – Webb C. Ball was appointed as chief time inspector of American railroads in 1891. He created strict guidelines for timepieces and ensured that the timepieces kept to these guidelines.

Baume and Mercier – Created in 1918. In 1919, they were awarded the Geneva Hallmark for fine watch-making.

Blancpain – Founded in 1735. It is one of the oldest watch manufacturer’s around.

Breguet – They are known for complications like the Brequet overcoiled hairspring, tourbillion, minute repeater etc.

Breil – The watches blend art and technology. It originated from Italy. Many of the watches are chunky and bold.

Breitling – founded in 1884. Specializes in chronographs and timers. The first independent chronograph pushpiece was invented in 1915. The first self-winding chronograph was invented in 1969.

Bulova – This is actually an America company, but has Swiss manufactured watches. The Accutron collection was involved in the first Moon landing. There are also quartz variations.

Bvlgari – It was originated from Greece. The watches make up 29% of total revenue. They have manufactured their own in-house movements lately.

Carl F. Bucherer – Over 90 years of experience. Known for their elegant design and quality. The brand was re-launched in 2001.

Cartier – Founded in Paris in 1847. The first watches were introduced in the late 1800s. The popular ‘Tank’ watch was launched in 1919.

Chopard – Founded in 1860. The watches were introduced in Europe during the industrial revolution. It is also well known for their jewellery.

Corum – Founded in 1955. Every year, limited editions are released. They are known for high-quality, expensive watches.

Davudoff – Zino Davidoff focused on quality and travelled the world extensively for ideas in watch-making. He knows the meaning of dedication and craftsmanship etc.

Fendi – An Italian brand founded in 1925 that was known for their leather goods. All their watches use ETA movements. The production is now licensed to Taramax.

Frederique Constant – It is established in 1988. End to end involvement, from initial design to final assembly. The mission is to apply the values of ‘Design’; ‘Quality’ and ‘Innovation’. The slogan is to ‘Live your passion’.

Girard-Perregaux – Founded in 1791. It became a subsidiary of PPR in 2011.

Gucci – In 1921, it was selling leather goods and luggage. The goal is to marry sensibility with craftsmanship. The ‘green-red-green’ design is reminiscent in the 1950s.

Hamilton – founded in the US in 1892. They are known for their eye-catching shapes, materials and designs. Their watches have appeared in movies and they have an aviation heritage. Now, it is a member of the Swatch group.

Harry Winston – The first collection was introduced in 1989. They are known for their modern complications.

Hermes – It began as a saddle shop in 1837. It started producing watches and jewelry in 1950/1960s. The antique pieces are very valuable indeed.

Hublot – It was founded in 1980. Their ‘Big Bang’ looks like a huge porthole. It was later purchased by LVMH.

IWC Schaffhausen – It was founded in 1868 by F.A. Jones. Their famous watch collections are the Pilot’s Watches, Portguese, Ingenieur, Aquatimer, Da Vinci, Portofino etc. Some of their watches feature a pocket watch sized movement.

Longines – The first watches were produced in 1867. It is now a member of the Swatch group.

Montblanc – Started in 1906 and sold pens. It entered watchmaking only in 1997.

Movado – Their famous models are the Calendomatic and the Digital series.

Omega – It was founded by Louis Brandt in 1848. They are well known and they produced a Speedmaster which was eventually taken on the moon.

Oris – Founded in 1904. Their movement 601 is very popular even today. They supply watches to the BMW Williams F1 team.

Patek Philippe – Founded in 1851. In-house manufacture and the master of complications. Fetches high prices at auctions.

Piaget – In 1960, they developed the thinnest automatic movement of 2.3mm. It also has the thinnest tourbillion movement of 3.5mm. They are known for their ultra-thin watches.

Rado – First collection was launched in 1957. Now, it is housed under the Swatch Group. Their watches contain hardmetals like tungsten, carbide, ceramics etc. Their watches have won many international awards.

Raymond Weil – Founded in 1976. They are known for their novel concept and design. Their watches are cultural icons. The Tango and Don Giovanni Cosi Grande watches are very classy.

Rolex – The name was registered in 1915. Their watch was awarded Class A precision in 1914, better than marine chronometers. The name was finally changed to Rolex SA.

Seiko – Founded in 1881. They created the first quartz chronograph. They are the official timer for sporting events and they have the higher class ‘Credor’; ‘King Seiko’ or ‘Grand Seiko’ line.

Tag Heuer – It has its roots from 1860. They created the micrograph, which was accurate to 1/100 of a second. Their watches are usually associated with racing and driving.

Tissot – Founded in 1853. They produced their first anti-magnetic watch in 1930. Some of their watches are made from plastic. It is a member of the Swatch group. They are known for their touch sensitive technology.

Ulysse Nardin – Founded in 1846. Known for marine chronometers. However, they produce complicated timepieces now.

Victorinox – Known as a knife manufacturer. It acquired Wenger in 2005 and supplies multi-purpose knives to the Swiss army.

Wenger – Founded in 1893. Started producing military watches in 1988.

Zenith – High end luxury Swiss watch manufacturer. They are known for their quality and precision. They produce their movements in-house. The El Primero movement has a high-beat of 5 Hz. It was purchased by LVMH in 1999.