Category Archives: Americas

Book Review: Never Eat Alone — with Keith Ferrazzi

Do you know, what it’s like to drive a real Ferrazzi ?  Well, as far as this book is concerned (with a German Edition available as well), this Ferrazzi (model "Keith") clearly is driven by making both a connection and a difference.

Once you got used to sentences starting with expressions such as "networking super-hubs like me" ;-), you find this book to be a suprisingly complete guide to Book cover: "never eat alone" by Keith Ferrazzienhancing your very own interpersonal skills — always one connection at a time.
   At the beginning Keith Ferrazzi convincingly explains, why he believes reaching out to other people and offering your help being together the most effective (if not the only) way towards a happy as well as successful life, constantly telling examples from his own experience. You learn how to define your personal goals and then identify the right people to help you complete it. Then one gets instructions on how to get into the right mindset, while avoiding common pitfalls.
   Afterwards, Keith Ferrazzi teaches you the trade of how to successfully making connections, from in-advance research on the people you would like to meet, over pre-warming "cold" phone calls and adding meaning to small talk by showing some vulnerability, to detailed Book cover: "never eat alone" by Keith Ferrazziadvice on how to make sure, the people you once contacted won’t forget about you, while you still successfully survive the information flood caused by phone calls, appointments and contacts you gather.
   Then you proceed to the advanced concepts, containing guides to mastering typical business scenarios: You learn to systematically expand your network by e.g. finding "anchor tenants" out of other social groupings, getting most out of conferences by adding your own events and finally, well, not eating alone by inviting other people for dinner.
   Here it has to be said, that Keith Ferrazzi knows the art of pulling together the right people inside out and that his single chapter of tips on running successful dinner parties probably makes up for more substance than some entire magazines devoted to solely that topic.

Though some of the author’s advice may need some adjustment to your particular cultural environment, following his guidelines building your own brand by neither giving in to hubris, nor getting boring, will inevitably allow you to get along with other people in your own life much more joy- and successfully.

Want to give Ferrazzi’s practical approaches a try ?  Take this video as an example:

Unfortunately the book-accompanying website has been replaced by the one of its reportedly even more renowned successor Who’s got your back ?. But it’s still worth a visit, especially for Keith Ferrazzi’s blog, containing a multitude of valuable networking tips (many of which "never eat alone" discusses in greater detail…), and its community section where you can connect to and exchange with many other people practicing Ferrazzi-style business networking.

Swine Flu: Federal Initiative to Fight current and future Variants of Influenza

Update: Now more current data about the virus spreading is being provided by European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), including updates on possible protective measures in a variety of languages. There’s also interesting estimates available from Google Flu Trends.

It did not take the first federal officals getting infected with Swine Flu recently, that media have been filled with material of a possible upcoming "New Flu" (to avoid the impression you’d only get it from pigs…) pandemic. Although most everyone seems to be talking about it, I felt myself way too uninformed concerning proven facts about the current information, in order to be able to tell reasonable cautiousness from public paranoia.
   Which is why I decided to put together the most helpful material I found in this blog post, to save you (if not from the flu) at least from the hassle to collect it all again on yourown.
   Despite the fact that, as that early statistics become available, the H1N1 subtype of Influenza A fatality rate shows to be 'only' no higher than the one of 'regular' flu so far (surprising 5,000 to 7,000 lethal cases in Germany each year), the media echo is still overwhelming compared to other and far more lethal virus epidemia around the world — as plausibly demonstrated by Hans Rosiling of Gapminder in the following video.

On the other hand, the virus is spreading at an impressive speed, including the ominous potential to mutate into a less treatable variant. That said, even considering the current less fatal course of disease within industrialized countries, one will not want to get infected.

To get your personal round-up on H1N1 I recommend the comprehensive introduction by the WHO's Dr Margaret Chan inside the official Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 section on their website. The available material discusses topics such as travelling (many cases are brought in by tourists returning from vacation), food safety (yes, pork is save when prepared at above 160°F/70°C) and prevention (yes, there are measures, which help preventing you from getting/spreading the virus).

Here in Germany the campaign page "Us against Viruses" (in German) by the government and national Robert Koch Institute provide downloadable brochures in several languages as well as a video.

So if I become sick upon returning from a holiday trip or even right in the middle of a workday — how can I tell if I probably got infected with H1N1 ?

The most reliable sources (there’s also very profound coverage by ZDF) I found say, that almost two out of three people catching the virus like won’t realize it at all while their immune system will successfully prevent them from getting sick. The others will likely recognize symptoms like sudden fever, cough/sneeze, fatigue, diminished appetite, nausea and/or looseness often within few hours, but at most up to 3 days after being infected. Since flu is an airborne infection you usually get it from interacting with or at least being near to infected people.
   Self-protection goes a long way here, so recommendations go from, most importantly, regularly and thoroughly washing hands — at least every 3 (!) hours and for half a minute — not forgetting to clean the spaces between your fingers as well. After washing hands keep them cleaner by, yes, choughing or sneezing not into your hand (not even the left one), but into your sleeve and towards your elbow — and of course away from other people. Since you can distribute the virus even without being sick, including going through the entire flu without actually realizing yourself, it is highly recommended to avoid crowded places whenever possible (especially once the illness has reached pandemia state) and of course not e.g. share drinking containers with other people. If you can’t avoid such gatherings, like on planes (and your boss didn’t approve the business class upgrade "for health reasons" ;-)) or buses, face masks also cannot inhibit virus distribution reliably, but do fairly good at preventing people from infecting each other in tight spaces. In buildings regular aeration helps to avoid accumulation of airborne germs and viruses. Finally, it be a good approach to reduce potential threats to your own immune system, such as excessive drinking or sun bathing.

What if one shows the mentioned symptoms ?

If nonetheless you finally think, you may have cought a Swine Flu virus somewhere, it may be wise to as soon as possible (as successful therapy relies on early apllication), not to go and visit your doctor (risking to confront other already weakened patients with a highly infexctious virus), but ask her to come and see you at home instead. Final assurance can only be reached by laboratory examination. A possible infection usually lasts between 5-7 days. Limited volumes of vaccine are expected to become available for the immunization high-risk groups like hospital staff from November this year. In case of any doubts or questions, the German Federal Ministry of Health offers a toll-free hotline: +49 (0) 800 / 44 00 55 0 can be reached Mondays through Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Fridays until 12 a.m. — in special cases the service will be made available at additional times.

An Opposable Mind: Business Week interview with Roger Martin on "Integrated Thinking™ " as an approach to solving complex problems

This week in an approach to broaden my problem-solving skills and just after having subscribed to ROTMAN Magazine, I came across this highly interesting Business Week Feedroom interview with Roger Martin, the dean of Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto (thus more often than not named “Dean Martin” by the incident… ;-)), who coined and trademarked the term of Integrated Thinking, promoting a "Design" approach towards solving of complex problems.
   This essentially is based on the assumption, that it may be hard to solve new and complex problems by simply applying already existing "models" derived from challenges successfully managed in the past without having to face significant trade-offs caused by the obvious contradictory nature of these pre-existing solutions.
   What to do, if you are in a highly competitive market (and who isn’t these days…) ?  Cut costs or drive innovation by further increasing them ?
   In his ROTMAN magazine article Choices, Conflict and the Creative Spark [PDF, 385 KB] Roger Martin discusses how a more holistic way of addressing an issue can lead out of the dilemma of having first to choose between and then to act upon one of seemingly contradictory models by instead drawing from all of them to create a completely new approach.

So integrated thinking people are those, who…

…the capacity to hold two diametrically-opposed ideas in their heads. And then, without panicking or simply settling for one alternative or the other, they are able to produce a synthesis that is superior to either opposing idea.

The advantage:

Integrative Thinking shows us a way past the binary limits of ‘either/or.’ It shows us that there is a way to integrate the advantages of one solution without canceling out the advantages of an alternative solution, affording us, in the words of the poet Wallace Stevens, “the choice not between, but of.”

And despite the common believe, that this integrated way of working on complex issues likely was unique to people mostly considered "geniuses" of their time, Martin argues, that the capability of creating new successful and elegant ideas from (at least by "proven" measures…) opposable concepts indeed may possibly be trained and learned by many of us. This would lead to the de-facto conclusion, that Integrative Thinking is largely a tacit skill in the heads of people who have cultivated their opposable mind.

And at this very point of time Dean Roger Martin and his students are working on a proof of the assumption…

What does it need to be successful ?

At the year’s end mostly everybody seems to have some sort of outlook and “best wishes” on their blog, website, paper, newsletter — or whatever one sends to customers to make sure they stay well and buy again from you within the next 12 months coming.
While there can be huge differences between, what some "important" people think, may or may not "hit" next year, I’ll leave you into 2007 with an – as I think – really straight-to-the-point videocast of Richard St. John‘s presentation at the 2005 TED Conference. There the brightest minds of their kind meet to present their key findings first to the $ 4,000 paying attendees and now, finally, to the "public" rest of us.
The 3 minute presentation (which I can completely agree upon) delivers solid answers on how to be successful — independently from what you are going for in a particular case.
There also is a directly playable embedded version of the movie inside the German section of this post. QuickTime is required in order to view the movie.
See you next year !
Continue reading What does it need to be successful ?

Finally a fully featured Linus-FONero !

FON Movement ButtonI made it !  I finally managed to make my brandnew € 5,- FON Social Router happily play together with the existing AVM Fritz!Box DSL-Router.
   FON is a Spanish start-up, founded by serial-entrepreneur Martin Varsavsky, trying to bring affordable public Wi-fi into most every city on the globe.
Join the Movement !

Continue reading Finally a fully featured Linus-FONero !