Entries Tagged 'books' ↓

Transformational Coaching

I spent some time today reading the ‘heart of coaching’ introduced to me by my very good friend Rita from Kuala Lumpur Malaysia to whom I spoke today on Skype. Her company based in Malaysia covering the Fareast regularly runs training seminars and certifies trainers. Thomas G Crane the author of the bestseller ‘Heart of Coaching’ is one of her regular speakers and trainers.

Three chapters of the book are offered by the Author, free of charge as a teaser, which are just enough to get you excited to read on.

Book Description

This is the 10th year and the 4th version of this book being a vital resource for those who are willing to develop coaching as a contemporary leadership skill. It presents the powerful process called Transformational Coaching as a comprehensive and systematic way to plan, organize, and conduct coaching conversations. It de-mystifies into easy to understand and follow steps, thus making it a communication tool for leaders and their teams to coach in all directions – Up toward one’s Boss, Down toward one’s Direct Reports, and Laterally to one’s Peers. Huge benefits accrue to the organizations where this becomes a cultural norm…and a true “coaching culture.”

In the spirit of keeping “The Heart of Coaching” a vibrant and contemporary resource for our readers, we offer this Third Edition where we do several important things. We have deepened the connections between Emotional Intelligence and the art and practice of coaching. We added “setting organizational context” to the expectation-setting portion of the conversation so that coach and coachee both clearly address the “big picture” framework of Vision, Mission , Strategy, Key Objectives, and Core Values.

We added more effective ways for both coach and coachee to explore their individual roles as “co-creators” of the situation they are discussing. We added the powerful step of clarifying the “vision for success” as framing for the contemplated action planning. We also remind the coach to acknowledge overall progress of the coachee as they support them in enhancing their effectiveness over the long haul.

Lastly, we have (in chapter 9) clarified the distinctions between the two primary coaching genres – Executive Coaching and Collegial Coaching. It is important to clearly understand how external coaching relationships and processes are different than the internal coaching relationships and processes between people working side-by-side as colleagues.

As coaching is yet another of my favorite subject, looks like I shall purchase the book soon; if I have the permission from my wife as she has been complaining about the storage of the numerous books I have. May be I shall have to purchase a ‘kindle‘ the e-book soon.



COPs & ACEs

After a refreshing session today with the APM group, using paintings as a methodology to access insights in leadership I feel in the mood to go back to Warren Bennis writings on Leadership.

I recall the two acronyms used by Warren Bennis to move to and  from control mode and the empowerment mode. Cops and Aces. The effective leader uses both modes depending of the situation of the environment and the persons in question. As an outstanding musician, the leader should be able to play in the high pitch registry as well as in the lower bass chords depending on the score.

Control Order Predict or Acknowledge Create Empower

Maybe we’ve got to move from macho to maestro in the way we’re thinking about leading our organizations. Maestro is an interesting metaphor because an orchestra, a symphony orchestra, is not a bad metaphor to think about with contemporary organizations. They are filled with specialists, but have a flattened hierarchy. How does the leader transcend what appears to be dilemmas? are people supposed to be zealously committed to visions and missions, and yet remain agile, flexible, adaptable? So the new game of change creates all sorts of tough dilemmas for management and leadership to take into account.

I have been reminded again today, that a leader or entrepreneur in the  face of a problem sees the solution of the problem in the problem itself by a twist of his vision. A speech or music is a succession of sound and silence is not it? What makes a successful speech or music? The orderly and sensible patterns of sounds and silence in the appropriate set that yield sense.

Should you be interested in Warren Bennis’ s  work read the article from the economist written on him last year.

Walt Disney

During my NLP trainings I had the opportunity to be exposed to the Walt Disney creativity method. Recently one of my friends  told me that she attributed the award of a contract she won to the Walt Disney Creativity Method she proposed.

Since the adoption of the Walt Disney Method in the 70’s as an NLP tool, Walt Disney has developed and promoted the tools used in house by their organisation to a new businesses. A Disney Institute has since been created to develop the Business Leaders of the world.

I would advise businesses leaders  to undergo training with them and learn from them. Even if you are not in the field of entertainment much has to be learned. I am particularly interested to learn more about the stategies of Disney. They have succesfully  created value in  merchandising the different brands and personalities they have created. I consider Disney as the top of the top in marketing after all Disney is a world class organisation.

How can you manage a queue of several hours of waiting customers whilst giving them a lasting excellent customer service?

Disney Institute began as a vision, and the visionary was Walt Disney himself.

Not only did Walt Disney re-define the world of entertainment, his legacy is found in a worldwide scope of motion pictures, Theme Parks, stage shows, books, magazines, television, merchandise, music, apparel, radio, resorts, a cruise line and more.

Of course, none of this would have been possible had he not also re-written the rules of business.

Walt Disney was, and will always remain, that rare breed: an artistic genius who, with the unflagging and essential support of his brother, Roy, created an effective organizational model and efficient work environment where employees were recognized for their achievements, encouraged to work as a team and, by striving for excellence, continually broke the confines of the status quo to surpass the expectations of the world.

Your Opportunity

Since Disney Institute opened in 1986, millions of attendees representing virtually every sector of business from every corner of the globe have had an opportunity to witness and experience these innovative business strategies.

Disney Institute remains the only professional development company where you will literally step into a “living laboratory” at Disney Theme Parks and Resorts for guided behind-the-scenes field experiences. Disneys brand of business excellence is also being taught at locations across the U.S. and, to date, in more than 40 countries around the world.

We have inspired leaders to change not only their business practices, but also to examine their business issues in an entirely new light. Like them, you will find your organization has more in common with Disney than you ever imagined.

Our Methods

Whether you tune into a Disney Institute WebCast, attend a workshop in your city, or immerse yourself in a multi-day program at a Disney Destination, the lessons we’ve developed are rooted in the time-tested visions and ideals of Walt Disney. As you “experience the business behind the magic,” you’ll discover our innovative training methods focused on three key program outcomes: Knowledge, Comprehension, and Application. These outcomes will clearly illustrate ways that you can adapt and apply these lessons into your organization.

As vital as the message are the messengers. Disney Institute facilitators include accomplished business leaders, entrepreneurs, educators, and executives who use dynamic and entertaining stories and demonstrations to explain effective business models and concepts. Depending on the program length and location, these sessions may be enhanced by facilitated discussions, team-building exercises, case studies, experiential activities, and behind-the-scenes guided tours at Disney Destinations. Disney Institute programs provide you with a business map that will help you chart a course for your organization, your division, and yourself.

Your return on this investment is across the board improvement. You’ll realize this improvement in processes, your work environment, and the delivery of customer service. You’ll sense it in yourself and your employees who are inspired to strive for excellence. Above all, you’ll see it in increased productivity and a renewed sense of purpose and potential.

Four- Fold Way Angeles Arrien

In the late 90’s I was enrolled on a seminar conducted by an anthropologist Angeles Arrien. Whereas I was accustomed to the trilogy, I listened to her attentively on her four fold way. The Four-Fold Way™ Program is an educational experience that demonstrates how to “walk the mystical path with practical feet.” It is designed to increase our respect for nature and each other, and enhance our ability to work cooperatively and creatively in teams. The program inspires “spirit in action” using the cross-cultural components of leadership and communication skills, creative problem-solving, health care, and education. The Four-Fold Way™ Program emphasizes four major principles that integrate ancient cultural wisdoms into contemporary life.

In essence, she advised us to develop our 4 ways of actions.


The Way of the Warrior or Leader is to show up, or choose to be present. Being present allows us to access the human resources of power, presence, and communication. We express the way of the Leader through appropriate action, good timing, and clear communication.

The Way of the Healer or Caretaker is to pay attention to what has heart and meaning. Paying attention opens us to the human resources of love, gratitude, acknowledgment, and validation. We express the way of the Healer through our attitudes and actions that maintain personal health and support the welfare of our environment.

The Way of the Visionary or Creative Problem Solver is to tell the truth without blame or judgment. Truthfulness, authenticity, and integrity are keys to developing our vision and intuition. We express the way of the Visionary through personal creativity, goals, plans, and our ability to bring our life dreams and visions into the world.

The Way of the Teacher or Counselor is to be open to outcome, not attached to outcome. Openness and non-attachment help us recover the human resources of wisdom and objectivity. We express the way of the Teacher through our constructive communication and informational skills.


Optimum health is expressed in most cultures as a balance in all four areas: Leading, Healing, Visioning, and Teaching. Cross-culturally these four areas reflect the four human resources of Power, Love, Vision, and Wisdom. Most of us tend to over-express one area, while leaving the others underdeveloped. It is important to understand that these four ways are universal and available to all humankind, regardless of context, culture, structure, and practice. The Four-Fold Way™ Program is structured to develop all four areas with equal emphasis to support optimum health, both individually and collectively, in our family, workplace, and communities.

I thought of this today because I am attending a party tonight for the 40th Birthday of a friend. Last night I read on Face Book that she took a psycho test and was classified as a healer.

Marshall Goldsmith on V O A

I was amazed listening to Marshall Goldsmith on Voice of America business net work for over one hour. There were loads of common sense and simple talks done in a very pleasant way in a radio show by Susan Reece and Andrea Chilcote. I love his coaching process.

Reading Marshall Goldsmith, one of the sixty world guru who has influenced the world for the last 80 years is a must for any leader. Besides Marshall is an incredible generous person as he give out free of charge on the web plenty of material. Personal development is the essence of Marshall’s work.

Marshall Goldsmith

My mission is to help successful leaders achieve positive, long-term, measurable change in behavior. The following process is being used by coaches around the world for this same purpose. When the steps in the process are followed, leaders almost always achieve positive behavioral change – not as judged by themselves, but as judged by pre-selected, key co-workers. This process has been used with great success by both external coaches and internal coaches[1].


[1] For a study on the effectiveness of this process with internal coaches in GE Financial Services, see “Leveraging HR: How to Develop Leaders in ‘Real Time’, in Human Resources in the 21st Century, M. Effron, R. Gandossy and M. Goldsmith, eds., Wiley, 2003.

Peter and Paul

The 29th  June was the solemn feast of St. Peter and St. Paul. I read the homily of Pope Jean Paul II made on this feast in 2000, which shred lights of the missions of these saints and serve as models to us.

The naming of the two saints at the same time, as far as I am concerned, from my little knowledge, is the contrasting elements of their characters and behaviours. Just like there might be many means to one end, the stories I have of the different paths of those 2 saints indicates to me that God sets different ways to each person to reach Him.

I have in mind the comparison given the biblical comparison given by the personality profiling D.I.S.C.

St. Peter is classified in the ‘i’ category – out going, people. He needed as fuel ‘recognition’ to thrive and hungers for relationships. Whilst being impetuous, St Peter was big hearted, compassionate and friendly, he was also carefree and outgoing. Enthusiastic and impetuous Peter was sometimes over eager and saw things bigger than the reality. Influencers and inseminators are main of the traits the ‘I’ categories.

St. Paul on the other hand is classified in the ‘D’ category- outgoing, task. D category people need challenge and control, they thrive on conflicts. Strong willed leaders like St. Paul could me unemotional yet optimistic. Determined they drive forcefully with great innovations. The mission is to break the status quo and venture in unchartered area.


SOLEMNITY OF STS PETER AND PAUL
Homily of John-Paul II

Thursday, 29 June 2000

“Who do you say that I am?” (Mt 16: 15)

Jesus asks the disciples this question about his identity while he is with them in upper Galilee. It often happened that they would ask Jesus questions; now it is he who questions them. His is a precise question that awaits an answer. Simon Peter speaks for them all:  “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16: 16).

The answer is extraordinarily clear. The Church’s faith is perfectly reflected in it. We are reflected in it too. The Bishop of Rome, his unworthy successor by divine will, is particularly reflected in Peter’s words. (…)  

“You are the Christ!”. Jesus replies to Peter’s confession:  “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven” (Mt 16: 17)

Blessed are you, Peter! Blessed because you could not have humanly recognized this truth, which is central to the Church’s faith, except by God’s action. “No one”, Jesus said, “knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Mt 11: 27).

We are reflecting on this extraordinarily rich Gospel passage:  the incarnate Word had revealed the Father to his disciples; now is the moment when the Father himself reveals his only Only-begotten Son to them. Peter receives inner enlightenment and courageously proclaims:  “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!”.

These words on Peter’s lips come from the depths of God’s mystery. They reveal the intimate truth, the very life of God. And Peter, under the action of the divine Spirit, becomes a witness and confessor of this superhuman truth. His profession of faith thus forms the firm basis of the Church’s faith:  “On this rock I will build my Church” (Mt 16: 18). The Church of Christ is built on Peter’s faith and fidelity.

The first Christian community was very conscious of this. As the Acts of the Apostles recount, when Peter was in prison it gathered to raise an earnest prayer to God for him (cf. Acts 12: 5). It was heard, because Peter’s presence was still necessary for the community as it took its first steps:  the Lord sent his angel to free him from the hands of his persecutors (cf. ibid., 12: 7-11). It was written in God’s plan that Peter, after long strengthening his brothers in faith, would undergo martyrdom here in Rome together with Paul, the Apostle of the nations, who had also escaped death several times.  

“The Lord stood by me and gave me strength to proclaim the word fully, that all the Gentiles might hear it” (2 Tm 4: 17).

These are the words of Paul to his faithful disciple Timothy:  we heard them in the second reading. They testify to what the Lord accomplished in him after he chose him as a minister of the Gospel and “grasped” him on the road to Damascus (cf. Phil 3: 12).

The Lord had come to him in a blaze of light, saying:  “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? ” (Acts 9: 4), while a mysterious force threw him to the ground. “Who are you, Lord?”, Saul had asked him. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting!” (Acts 9: 5). This was Christ’s answer. Saul had been persecuting Jesus’ followers, and Jesus told him that it was he himself who was being persecuted in them. He, Jesus of Nazareth, the Crucified One who Christians said had risen. If Saul now experienced his powerful presence, it was clear that God really had raised him from the dead. He, in fact, was the Messiah awaited by Israel; he was the Christ living and present in the Church and in the world!

Could Saul have understood with his reason alone all that such an event entailed? Certainly not! It was, in fact, part of God’s mysterious plan. It would be the Father who would give Paul the grace of knowing the mystery of the redemption accomplished in Christ. It would be God who would enable him to understand the marvellous reality of the Church, which lives for Christ, with Christ and in Christ. And he, who had come to share in this truth, would continuously and tirelessly proclaim it to the very ends of the earth.

From Damascus, Paul would begin his apostolic journey which would lead him to spread the Gospel in so many parts of the then known world. His missionary zeal would thus help to fulfill the command Christ gave to the Apostles:  “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations …” (Mt 28:  19).(…)

The full unity of the Church!

I feel Christ’s command echoing within me. It is a particularly urgent command at the beginning of this new millennium. Let us pray and work for this, without ever growing weary of hoping. (…)

May God grant us to achieve as soon as possible the full unity of all believers in Christ.  May we obtain this gift through the Apostles Peter and Paul, who are remembered by the Church of Rome on this day that commemorates their martyrdom and therefore their birth to life in God. For the sake of the Gospel they accepted suffering and death, and became sharers in the Lord’s Resurrection. Their faith, confirmed by martyrdom, is the same faith as that of Mary, the Mother of believers, of the Apostles and of the saints of every age.

Today the Church again proclaims their faith. It is our faith, the Church’s unchanging faith in Jesus, the only Saviour of the world; in Christ, the Son of the living God, who died and rose for us and for all humanity.

confidence

Confidence consists of positive expectations for favourable outcomes. Failure and success are not events—they are self-fulfilling pathways.

To every action that we take, there is a corresponding outcome. Failures and successes are judgements given to outcomes in relations to our intents. There may be outcomes that appear which have no relation to our intents, however, we could learn from as they may things we have not thought of. It is in this sense that I read Rosabeth Moss Kanter’s self fulfilling pathways.

Confidence is the word. One of the elements I found that  probably is the cause of so much pain suffered by the poor of the poorest of the Mauritians society, after working for a couple of years with the ONGs is precisely the lack of self esteem and self confidence in the capacity to progress. The poor of the poorest nurture the self fulfilling prophecy of their inability to get out of their conditions.

At Caritas, with a team,  we worked out schemes to enhance the self esteem of the poor by starting a listening service. On a second phase we then slower worked towards  enhancing their self confidence.

We would be far from the winning streaks titled by R Moss Kanter but surely we would be heading in the right direction.

Winning Streaks

ROSABETH MOSS KANTER

PERFORMANCE / WINNING

How do winning and losing streaks begin and end? Using research and case studies, I came up with a surprising answer—confidence. Confidence is the pivotal driver behind high performance, successful relationships, and teams that consistently win. I use the expression “water walkers” to describe people with high potential who are destined to gain top positions.

Confidence consists of positive expectations for favorable outcomes. Failure and success are not events—they are self-fulfilling pathways. Each decision, each business quarter, each school year may seem like a new event, but the next performance is shaped by what happened last time—unless something breaks the streak.

Three Critical Behaviors

My investigation of success and failure in companies, nonprofit institutions, athletic teams, and political races discerns three critical behaviors in people who work in cultures of confidence at high-performing organizations:

· They are accountable. They want to share information, take responsibility, and seek feedback and self-improvement because they are committed.

· They collaborate. They want to work together, help others, and feel a sense of belonging that makes them committed to the success of the entire enterprise.

· They take initiative. Since they believe that what they do will make a difference, they offer ideas and suggestions and feel empowered to foster innovation.

Moreover, these confident leaders institutionalize confidence by giving people a chance to tackle projects, succeed at those projects, and feel that they have made a major contribution. That makes people feel valued. It makes them feel that their contribution is worth something. And that feeling gives them the energy and motivation to go forward. It provides leaders with an opportunity, grounded in reality, to recognize and applaud people. Positive accomplishments lift everybody’s spirit.

And yet many performance evaluations tend to be based on personality and chemistry rather than on achievements. That’s a problem in terms of building confidence, because it makes too many things dependent on favoritism—who happens to be liked by whom. On losing teams, coaches tend to play favorites. On the winning teams, you get what your performance merits.

Of course, some leaders try to project external confidence to cover up problems. They resort to bravado or swagger to hide problems—usually when confidence has slid into that danger zone of overconfidence or arrogance.

Real confidence is grounded in three cornerstones—accountability, collaboration, and initiative. If accountability starts to slide because leaders cover up the facts or manipulate the numbers, then they are not being accountable. And if they don’t admit it and solve the underlying problems right away, they are not being accountable. So, whatever appearance they project to others is not true confidence grounded in the substance that would make success likely. It’s a false presentation of self, and I don’t think it’s the self-confidence of a leader anyway. The projection of charisma on the part of the leader who makes the difference is whether the leader creates a system that is accountable, that allows people to get together quickly to solve problems and take initiative to act on potential shocks or surprises. That’s what Enron lacked—they started to hide certain information.

I talk about confidence as the “sweet spot” between despair and arrogance. It’s that sweet spot that says, “We’ve got to work for a positive result; and when we do the work, we are confident we’ll succeed because we’re confident in the data, confident in the responsibility people take, and confident in each other. We have a collective goal, and people are not making side deals behind the scenes.”

Many people tell me that they feel that they are on a losing streak—losing people, losing capability, and losing viability. They are sliding away from confidence toward insecurity and feeling that “there is nothing we can do about it.” Leaders must guard against arrogance and over-confidence on one hand, and the feeling of hopelessness and helplessness on the other.

In my study, I found many examples of successful turnarounds. Turn-around leaders tend to be one of two types: 1) people who slash to the bone and save the organization financially, but leave nobody standing; or 2) people who realize that cost-cutting is a temporary solution and start rebuilding. Turnaround leaders must make tough decisions, but also believe in the potential of the organization and give people a vision of that potential.

One of my favorite leaders is Jackie Jenkins-Scott, former president of a community health center (she is now a college president). She came in to turn the center around when it was in bankruptcy. A receiver appointed by the court was busily trying to cut costs; morale was low; and the quality of the service was getting worse. First, Jackie convinced the judge to get rid of the receiver. She saw potential where he had only seen things to cut. She saw a way to raise revenues. For example, the center had historic buildings, and so she got those designated as historical landmarks and reached out to new donors. She believed in the people, so she gave the people a better work environment. They returned her faith by boosting productivity and by finding new sources of revenue—people who could pay for services, for example.

You either find somebody who cuts costs and slashes to the bone and just accepts the fact that sales are declining and plans around a smaller organization, or you find somebody who says, “There is great potential here. There are new services we could offer. Yes, we must get costs under control, or we won’t survive; but we’ll do that against a vision and long-term goal, because I have confidence in our future.”

Leaders build confidence and advance to victory. They see the potential and get other people to see the potential while they are making tough moves. But when they make a tough decision, they have the support of the people, because it’s done with a vision of success in the future.

Consistently successful leaders treat losses as temporary events rather than descents into downward spirals. They have resilience, and resilience separates winners from losers, because even winners lose games, have bad quarters, see temporary slips in sales.

Resilience is the ability to deal with those issues. If confidence is not just a belief in the minds of the people but also the culture of the organization, you can bounce back quickly. If people are communicating, sharing performance data, and knowing the facts of the situation, they can solve problems faster because they are collaborating. Everybody can do their part if they trust and respect people in other departments, and they have an experience of taking initiative through small projects and new ventures that build an ovation. Such people spring into action and make a difference—often without being told to do it.

When power went out in the Northeast for two days in August 2003, and every other airline canceled hundreds of flights—thereby losing millions of dollars—Continental not only kept flying but ended up making money in the disaster. Their employees rallied together to do whatever needed to be done to keep the airplanes flying. That freed up top executives to ask, “Are there any other services we could provide during this period?” They offered extra flights for all the stranded passengers and ended up making money.

That is a dramatic example of where a company wins because they had created a culture of confidence.

To the extent that the organization succeeds, it’s easier to attract and retain exceptional talent, because they want to be associated with success. Make sure they understand that their success and reputation are enhanced when the team wins. Show these stars that they will gain more and have more impact if they also support other people, build stronger relationships, and help the team win consistently.


December 2008

The above text from Leadership Excellence,  is an article which would summarise  her 2004 book: “Confidence: How Winning Streaks and Losing Streaks Begin and End”.

Art of entrepreneurship

I obtain the following article from UCT graduate school of business where I had the opportunity in my earlier days (1987) to hone my skills in Marketing. UCT I consider as one of my Mater Almas, if it was ever possible to talk of several Mater Almas.

I found the content of Elaine Rumboll’s writings very fitting as far as my career is concerned. As much as you may think that entrepreneurship as a science, I had always considered my entrepreneurship skills as an art. Psychological profiling I had undergone pictured me as a right brain thinker and placed me in the box of a creative artist. Have I been the business savvy artist?

Early in my business life career, I was lucky to have had a serious assessment of my psychological traits and preferences determined. I knew where were my strong hands and perhaps more importantly where were located  my weaker hands. I had learned to bank on my strengths whilst acknowledging on my weaknesses and delegating some of my unressourceful  duties and tasks. Later as I climbed the ladder of the corporate world, I made sure that I was supported by a team that made up for my deficiencies. I have always been a wholesome person or if you prefer, a big picture person, performing tiny detail tasks pumped up my energy. I make sure that my direct assistants were detailed and sequential oriented persons. Susan, a thorough and precise operator was always at hand. Cynthia another orderly organiser assisted me for years. I thus manage with a two brains tandem: my rightful own right brain and the left brains of my associates.

I also learnt early that success comes faster with creativity. I spend a fair amount of my time in observing changes that was operating on the business scene and anticipate speedily ahead of the trend. I often with a bout of humour asked: Whilst may be you know what you know, how do you know what you do not know? The answer came in often by asking the question: what if? I have to bless my parents, my educators for having instilled in me this craving for creativity. These creativity skills were later improved by the NLP training I had the opportunity to follow.

I would recommend to you to read: Enjoy your inner artist- Improving your Creativity with NLP by Luis Jorge Gonzalez.

The art of entrepreneurship

http://www.leader.co.za/leadership/images/leaderdividerbevel.gif

by Elaine Rumboll: Executive Education Director at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business.

It’s often been said that there is an art to doing business, but conversely not much has been raised on the business of being an artist. That’s not surprising given that the words “artist” and “profit” have never traditionally been associated with each other. In the 21st century, however, things are beginning to change.

There is an increasing attention on the concept of artists as entrepreneurs emerging globally – artists are becoming more business savvy and finding new ways of sustaining their artistic livelihood. Artists of all kinds are applying their creativity in new ways as businesspeople, and proving that it is possible to leave the “starving artist” notion behind in favour of the “business savvy artist”.

In the US, the New York Times recently picked up on this trend, and in a feature presented some successful artists changing the game. According to Elliot McGucken who teaches the course Artist Entrepreneurs at the University of North Carolina, the advancement of business skills “rests on the principle that those who create art should have the skills to own it, profit from it and protect it”.

“It’s about how to make your passion your profession, your avocation your vocation, and to make this long-term sustainable,” he says.

This business imperative to the world of the arts has become all the more important in the past year, as the recession has not left the art world unscathed – while most of the media attention is on corporates, the plight of the arts is an important issue that needs addressing as well.

A study conducted by Arts & Business in the UK, for example, found that many UK arts organisations are already feeling the pinch of a shrinking economy. Released in April, the survey, titled Market Trends 2009, found that the majority (63%) of respondents are “experiencing a substantial decrease in business investment”.

In this tougher market context, the need for artists to become more self-sustaining and business savvy, and to find new ways of sustaining their artistic livelihood in the long-term, has become much more critical. It’s a realisation that has begun to permeate many individual artists and educational institutions.

Pioneering the way for artists as fully-fledged entrepreneurs are several leading business schools and universities. In many of these business schools, business and the arts are no longer mutually exclusive, but in fact mutually dependent disciplines that need each other to survive – and thrive.

With this in mind, the University of Michigan recently announced plans to offer a dual programme that will combine a Master of Fine Arts and Master of Business Administration degree later this year. New York University and Yale University already offer similar joint programmes.

This trend of two worlds merging, from a business point of view, also highlights a growing realisation that success in the 21st Century will depend on creativity more than ever before. This increasing link between business and the arts was massively popularised by author Dan Pink and his bestseller A Whole New Mind, in which he argues that people with right and left brain skills, or creative and analytical abilities, will be very much in demand in the years ahead.

As businesses globally seek to now be more creative and innovative in their search for increased market share, creative people are in turn learning that it is possible to make a sustainable living out of their talents with a little business savvy.

While there is a lot of untapped potential for success for South African artists of all kinds – painters, designers, writers, photographers and performance artists – many are not yet astute enough in business matters to move into the entrepreneurial realm with confidence. New innovative courses will help to close this gap.

Here in South Africa, the UCT Graduate School of Business’ Executive Education unit has for the past two years offered a Business Acumen for Artists programme to help local artists step into the world of business by teaching subjects like marketing, negotiation and intellectual property, as well as financial skills and presentation techniques – the course has been described as a revelation by many artists who have attended.

Simon Taylor of Periphery Films, who completed last year’s Business Acumen for Artists, described the course as a profound learning opportunity and a chance to connect with other artists experiencing similar difficulties.

“I went into the programme feeling like I was on an island. I felt really lonely as a creative entrepreneur, so to connect with people feeling the same way was amazing. It was almost like a support group and the experience was on the level of mind and heart adjustment, it was not just about learning new things.”

Tracy-Lee Scully, a freelance graphic designer, illustrator and writer, also from the 2008 programme, agreed.

‘I went to the course expecting to learn some basic business skills, but I finished having learned so much more than that. I learned the value of my work and to let go of my creative insecurities. I gained a whole new perspective on my reality – largely as to what was holding me back from following my dreams to succeed as an artist in a commercial world.”

As these statements demonstrate, artists need to find inventive ways to market themselves and price their goods competitively, without underselling their services and products. This is where marketing know-how and negotiation skills, as well as a good grounding in financial management, for example, could make all the difference.

James Fallows

On watching James Fallows’ interview he gave to Harry Kreisler of the University of California in September 2008, I realised how the economy of China is so closely linked to the US. China is caught in a jam with the present financial crisis as the Chinese wealth and reserves are invested in the US. China is locked in and can only bear the brunt.

I also liked and fully subscribed to James Fallows’ views, who is of opinion that the Chinese are completely different in mentality in comparison to Japanese. Chinese are more individualistic. The former will not toe the line blind folded as would the Japanese.

James is an accomplished journalist and author. It was very interesting to hear the opinion of an American who was an advisor of Jimmy Carter, and now living in China, giving his views on China.

I knew that the US were overspending and could do so, mainly because China and other countries were having their reserves kept in US in dollars and US securities. The reckoning is now here, yet countries like China just cannot get out of the system without hurting themselves. Moving away from the US will cause further drop of the securities and result in higher losses.

The explanation of James Fallows was expressed in a clear and plain understandable language. I was immediately prompted to read more from James Fallows. His latest comments on the position of China, Iran written on the 22 June is very interesting. Truly, since the last couple of days watching the world news, I have to admit that somehow, the western media is framing our mind on the present Iran situation. Should we not take the Chinese stance on this issue instead of interfering in their domestic cooking?

James Fallows article in the Atlantic Monthly: Iran in China

“It is worth remembering that the elements of the Iranian story that give it such drama and importance in much of the world are less automatically resonant in China.”

Louise Richardson Expert on Terrorism

Terrorism may well be the word that has dominated the final years of the tenure of President Bush Jr. I asked myself recently after listening to what is happening in Iran last week and the mounting actions taken by the extremists of the Islam: how do I define a terrorist?

Perhaps a better understanding of the terrorist and his motivation could help us curtail the rise of terrorist’s action. Have there been serious studies thereon?

For sure the actions taken by the Bush administration have not reduced terrorist growth. In the contrary, I am inclined to think that the radical actions taken have created more terrorist activities. Muslim extremists’ actions may be one of the terrorist’s actions in operation, but there are far more happenings in the world, like the Irish IRA, the Basque movements, the Tamil Tigers…. In fact each time an individual feels oppressed beyond a limit he cannot sustain, the seed of becoming a terrorist is germinating.

I came across a document and book written by an academic who has studied terrorism and worth listening to.

Louise Richardson is one of the relative handful of experts who have been studying the history and practice of terrorism since the cold war.

Born in Ireland to Catholic parents, she experienced the seductive nature of terrorist groups at an early age. From the society she grew up in, she learned a remembered history of Ireland’s long struggle with England that was full of heroes and villains, and was oversimplified to motivate the next generation. The facts didn’t seem to matter so much.

After the Bloody Sunday massacre of 1972, in which 26 Irish protesters were shot by British troops in Derry, Northern Ireland, Richardson would have joined the IRA “in a heartbeat,” she writes.

But she was only 14, and as she attended university and learned the real story behind some of her childhood myths, she became more interested in understanding terrorism than in joining it.

Eventually she received advanced degrees in government from Harvard University and began teaching international security classes. Today she is executive dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, among other academic posts.

She has interviewed all the terrorists she can contact, as well as pored over transcripts of captured terrorists and other source material. From this, she’s determined, she believes, this important point: They’re not nuts.

The popular picture of terrorists as insane radicals isn’t true, she insists. “Terrorists are human beings who think like we do. They have goals they are trying to achieve, and in a different set of circumstances they, and perhaps we, would lead very different lives,” she writes.

But they do have distinguishing, abnormal characteristics.

“Terrorists see the world in Manichean, black-and-white terms; they identify with others; and they desire revenge,” according to Richardson.

Lots of people are called “terrorists” by their enemies, of course. That doesn’t mean they all are. Terrorism’s true definition, Richardson writes, is “deliberately and violently targeting civilians for political purposes.”

Terrorists want change, but lack the strength to prevail in other political or military ways. Individual terrorists are generally disaffected people, from any level of society. They encounter an enabling group (such as radical Islamists at a local mosque) who spout an ideology that purports to justify violent actions.

Their motivations can be summed up in a three-word phrase, according to Richardson: “Revenge, Renown, Reaction.”

Louise may be viewed on youtube too!