Saturday, December 18, 2010

Leading With The Heart- Mike Krzyzewski

I saw the review of this book on Coates' Blog and think I'm going to get a copy!

Leading With The Heart- Mike Krzyzewski


CHARACTER - "There are always those times when you're going to be down, it's how you step through it that makes you the person you are.''

COOPERATION - "People want to be on a team. They want to be part of something bigger than themselves. They want to be in a situation where they feel that they are doing something for the greater good."

EXCELLENCE -  "Everything we do has our own personal signature one it. So we want to do it as well as we possibly can."

LEADERSHIP - "Almost everything in leadership comes back to relationships."

LEADERSHIP - "People are not going to follow you as a leader unless you show them that you're real. They are not going to believe you unless they trust you. And they are not going to trust you unless you always tell them the truth and admit when you were wrong."

OPTIMISM - “Whether it's sunny or muddy or whatever, you figure a way to win. The only way you do that is to feel positively about your situation.”

PERSEVERANCE - "Don't let a single game break your heart."

RESPONSIBILITY -  "To be successful, you have to learn to do things you don't like. You find ways to like the process and make the most of that time." 

SELF-DEVELOPMENT -  "Mistakes are a part of the building process. Mistakes have to be made. How you act when you make mistakes is of paramount importance."

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Review: Ugly by Constance Briscoe

“I shall write my story down. So far I have always been a private person, so this is the first time my story is being told.”

UGLY is a true life story of a loveless childhood. Written in a raw form, the author- Constance Briscoe, tells in vivid details of how she was abused emotionally and physically, especially by her mother, Carmen.

What kind of mother is void of love for a child she carried in her womb for nine months? Carmen was always furious about Clare's (Constance was called Clare as a child) flaw of wetting the bed... and often accused her of doing it on purpose. We also read in the book how different efforts were made to help Clare (Constance) overcome it, such as a special alarm set to go off once she starts wetting the bed. But it did not work. 

However, we read about how she never wet the bed when sleeping-out (e.g. while at Miss K's). Thus, it can be deduce that the problem was psychological. When living in constant fear and hate, how won’t one become a chronic sufferer of nocturnal enuresis?

When not twisting at Clare’s  nipples or pinching her, Carmen was squeezing at her “minnie” and calling her names such as ugly. Once she cried out “Lord, sweet Lord, how come she so ugly. Ugly. Ugly. If I hadn’t given birth to her, sweet Lord, I would have sworn she was a fraud…”

Each chapter in the book reveals the different phases of the author’s horrific childhood, her struggles and little triumphs amidst depression.

The author’s story telling style is deep yet tender. While such emotions as anger is invoked in readers, Constance also chipped in humorous scenes to lighten the mood.

Paul Magrath, another reviewer, reminds us of Constance’s defiance and doggedness.  He writes: “When attacked by her stepfather Eastman, for example, she goes to the local Magistrates’ Court and takes out a summons, as a result of which he is bound over to keep the peace, on pain of imprisonment. He keeps his own peace after that, but signally fails to keep that of Carmen, who later beats Clare so severely that she collapses at school and refuses to go home. A teacher, Miss Korchinskye, herself a refugee (from the concentration camps), offers to take her in. Fate punishes “Miss K” abysmally for this act of humanity: she is horrifically injured in an accident. But her kindness offers Clare a lifeline out of the hell of her domestic environment."

The author finds light at the end of her tunnel: Another turning point comes with a school trip to the Crown Court. One of the barristers involved is Michael Mansfield, now a leading crime practitioner and campaigning, media-savvy silk. On hearing that Clare, a schoolgirl in her early teens, wants to be a barrister, he not only pays her the compliment of taking her seriously but even promises her a pupillage.

Despite every discouragement from home and school, Clare passes her A-levels and gets into Newcastle University. Her mother makes one last attempt to bar her way to the Bar: asked to countersign her daughter’s university grant application form, she simply tears it up. Clare has to postpone her entry for a year and work as a nurse to make her own way. In 1982 she graduates in law and in 1983 is called to the Bar. She writes to Mansfield asking when she can start her pupillage. He writes back: “Dear Constance, Come as soon as you like.” (Review and interview by Paul Magrath).

The book is simply remarkable. The author’s experience will inspire one to strive to become a better person, irrespective of the circumstances surrounding one’s childhood. It teaches resilience, willpower/determination and faith. Bullied and beaten by peers and mother, Constance tells us how she carried her heavy childhood cross and flaws so lightly through the pages of Ugly to become a successful barrister and part-time judge.

How did she pull through? She completes the story in her sequel “Beyond Ugly”.

I really enjoyed Ugly...shed some tears, but it was worth reading! Now looking forward to reading "Beyond Ugly." Please go get your copy and share your thoughts about the book!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Zahrah the Windseeker: Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu

Book: Zahrah the Windseeker
Pages: 308
Date published: 2007

Author:  Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu
Publisher: Farafina, Lagos

Not a conventional review :)

By the time I got to Chapter 4, the Dark Market, the book was no where to be found. Chapter 4 was right after Zhrah discovered she could float in the air. The first thing that came to my mind was oh the Windseeker has come float my book away! I searched everywhere for it, and almost gave up. But apparently, a colleague who borrowed it earlier forgot it at the Bank, so she had to go back and do her own share of search-party.

The what ifs, coulda, shoulda, woulda flashed through my mind. I am kinda attached to my books, pens and umbrellas. Although the book cost about N1,000, I knew buying another copy won’t be the same as the first- it was a special gift! During those few minutes of searching and searching, I imagined my book already somewhere else in someone’s house. Afterall, (quote). But right at the point of almost giving up, tada! We found the book, all safe and sound. So like every reader, I got an opportunity to find out why Zharah floated and of course to complete the story!

But Zharah the Windseeker is not just about a story of a girl who floats in the air. The book, a children’s fiction, teaches about self-esteem- Zharah was tormented by peers for looking different but then, as the story unfolded, we saw her rise to accepting her uniqueness.

It also portrays the rebellion in every teenager. Zharah and Dari expressed theirs by exploring the dark market and everywhere out of bound. It teaches about loyalty of friendship as seen in Dari to Zharah.

The first Bookasaurus star! on this blog goes to the author, Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu, for allowing her imagination roar all through the pages of Zharah the Windseeker. You have to get your copy to find out what I am talking about! While at it, get extra copies for your younger siblings or kids. It will make a good Christmas/New Year gift for young readers.

Season’s Greetings!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Who moved my cheese by Spenser Johnson

Review by: Adeagbo Seun.

Who moved my cheese by Spenser Johnson is one of the Life changing books I have ever read. It is a mini story like book of about 150 pages which one can finish in less than 3hrs and the impact is Life long, and I thought it well to share some vital Life lessons I learnt while reading the book. I first read the book in 2003 which I have read so many times.

The story is about four characters, Scurry and sniff are the mice, while the hem and haw is the little people. They face unexpected change when they discover their "Cheese" has disappeared .Each character behaves differently and responds to situation differently. Some of us act like exactly the way each of the character behaves. It is either you are a sniff, scurry, hem or haw.

Sniff- He sniffs out change early.

Scurry- Scurries into action.

Hem- He denies and resists change as he fears it will lead to something worse.

Haw-He learns to adapt on time when he sees changing can lead to something better.

CHEESE represent what we want or desire in life which could be a job, money, house, wealth, health, relationship and so on. Everyman desire to have a cheese. We need it because our happiness depends on it. Most times, cheese are not always where we think it should be, so we have to be determine to move ahead and take a new approach to look for it.

MAZE represent where one looking for what we want in life i.e. the CHEESE. Maze could also represent Life. We each live in a "Maze", a metaphor for the companies or organizations we work with, the communities we live in, the families we love places where we look for the things we want in life, In as much as everyman desire a cheese, it must be look for so as to get the good things of life which brings happiness and fulfillment

And how we look and where to get our cheese are different. Each individual determine the cheese he is looking for and where to find it. Failure to get our cheese in life could lead to frustration. Our character most times help us to locate on time where to get the cheese. When we get our cheese on time, we are refers to as been lucky or favour.

Like sniff and scurry in the story, they were able to locate the new cheese station ahead of others. But unfortunately for hem because of his character and attitude,it was difficult for him to locate the new CHEESE STATION. I pray that will not be our portion in the journey of life.

I need to quickly share 6 lessons I learnt while reading this life transforming book.







Above all, I highly recommend this book for you, this is one book that will help you to adapt to change ,with =N=500 or less you can get a copy, and I bet it with you ,it will give you a new approach in life to develop a positive change attitude to get the next cheese you desire in life.

You may be asking, who moved my cheese? Oh it is no more there, While asking, you have got to move ahead to locate it.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The review: Why men love Bitches- by Sherry Argov

First off-- don't be put off by the title.

A bitch in this book is an "endearing word for a woman who is polite but communicates directly with a man as humans do...". Yeah, I stayed awake most of the night reading "Why men love Bitches". I was fascinated by the synopsis and reviews... and when I finally read it...I was blown away (not literary). I said to myself, if this is a manual of how things ought to be, then some of us are in big trouble... Honestly, I find the ideas very interesting and most of the points raised made a lot of sense.

However, I do not entirely agree that we should start changing who we are because some men prefer it when we are the "hot chase" and they the hot chasers.

Why, maybe it is about time someone flip the coin over and tell the story differently-- women should not always be the ones to bend-over and change their skin to be accepted. If a man cannot accept a nice sensible girl then let him keep chasing the bitches. Oh well, the book is not asking women to bend-over or change their skin at all!

I like how Argov define the term Bitch:
Bitch (noun)- A woman who won't bang her head against the wall obsessing over someone else's opinion--be it a man or anyone else in her life. She understands that if someone does not approve of her, it's just one person's opinion; therefore, it's of no real importance. she doesn't try to live up to anyone else's standards- only her own. Because of this she relates to man very differently.

She gave about twenty-seven (27) principles on how to rise from being a doormat to a dream girl-- My favourite include: "If you tell him you are not interested in jumping into a relationship with both feet, he will set out to try to change your mind". Have you met these kind of women chasers? The moment they hear one is not interested they don't relent until they win you over-- and God help you on how you decide to handle it, the "nice girl" way or the "Bitch" aura. The author explains the difference between the two.

Also, "If the choice is between her dignity and having a relationship, the bitch will prioritize her dignity above all else" a nutshell, don't spend your time obsessing or fretting over a man... "act like a prize and you'll turn him into a believer"

"A bitch gives a man plenty of space so he doesn't fear being trapped in a cage. Then... he set out to trap her in his".

"Every man wants to have sex first; whether he wants a girlfriend is something he thinks about later. By not giving him what he wants upfront, you become his girlfriend without him realizing it" And after giving him sex, he would just let himself chase after the next hottie on the block...

"Anytime a woman competes with another woman, she demeans herself..." Is that true ladies out there?

"Why men love bitches" is not just a book filled with dos and don'ts. I appreciate how the author backs each point up with a good illustration/real stories readers can connect to. This made me buy a copy of the book as a birthday gift for a friend, with the hope that she will learn the lessons worth learning from it before she launch into her first relationship. I am not recommending that we follow all the rules in the book religiously, just read, understand and learn from the real life stories shared. As the saying goes, experience is the best teacher, this include learning from the experiences of others.

One of my friends, while signing a book he got me for my birthday wrote "...grow more to be a Proverbs 31 woman NOT a BITCH!!!" I would have expected him to admit that men really love Bitches.

Another man, after reading the book, wrote on "As a man who read this book, I have a new understanding of how and why my last girlfriend acted the way she did. She must have read this book! I have to say, I chased after her, just like the book says a man will do if you follow the rules it describes. But, (and this is a big BUT), eventually, I got tired of chasing her. Eventually I came to the huge realization that I didn't want to live the rest of my life this way, under her thumb, with her making all the rules for our relationship. Women have put up with men that act this way, and it drives you crazy, doesn't it? Don't you hate it when a guy doesn't call and acts like other things are more important than you are? This book could just as well have been written for men, and been titled, "Why Women Love Jerks'...if everyone, men and women alike, followed the rules contained in it, this world would be full of a lot of single people."

The book teaches that women should stop obsessing over men. It also teaches the importance of being strong and independent...em...em...but not arrogant? :) The author reaffirmed the need for women never to feel threatened by the "beauty" of other women-- competing diminishes your value before a man.

Go ahead, buy a copy of the book. Whether you choose to remain the "Bitch" or "The nice girl" after reading the book, learn to maintain a good sense of humor, liberate your soul and treat your body like a temple.

I love Natasha Bedingfield's song "Say it again" But reading "Why men love Bitches" and listening to the song... makes my stomach tie in a knot! Oh the joy or pain of womanhood!


"Say It Again"

No need to translate,
'cause my eyes give me away,
Even though my lips don't say..

This should be so easy,
But my head gets in the way,
All the things that I want to tell you.

You're the most perfect yet,
Most definitely that i've met,
And I wonder if you know that's how I feel about you.
I hope you know..

'cause I have so much love for you.
Do with it what you will..
And I have nothing more to prove,
Say to me what you will..
Say, say it again.

Not enough lovers in life to go around
But there's you and me,
If we don't start it out.. mmmm..
It's not hard to let go
Enough to let me in.
If it's meant to be,
It can only be good.

You're the most perfect fit,
Most definitely that i've met,
And I hope that you feel the same way too
About me.. just let me know..

'cause I have so much love for you,
Do with it what you will..
And I have nothing more to prove.
Say to me what you will..
Say, say it again..

Can you take it from me?
If I give, can you receive?
I'm reaching out,
Giving everything.
I give you my heart, I give you my soul,
I give you it all..

'cause I have so much love for you,
Do with it what you will..
And I have nothing more to prove.
Say to me what you will..
Say, say it again..

Monday, June 21, 2010

Reading the Onion...

I used to be an avid reader of the Onion. I find their story very interesting. And yeah, I believed every story I read there too when I first moved to D.C. for Atlas Fellowship. Until I read one edition that featured a story about President Obama cursing at some teenage girls. I was horrified. “How is this possible?” I asked my colleagues. It was then I was saved from my ignorance. One of my colleagues told me that it was a not real… the content of the newspaper was all a joke.

Important and news worthy events are riddle with unusual humorous writing style-the Onion drips with sarcasm in every of its report. The stories are not for the faint heart. No wonder they state it on their website that the newspaper is not intended for people under 18years have to be mature enough to digest the content right. As Cuthbert Zweibel, VP of Client Relations of The Onion explained in his PR release: “… please keep in mind that the Onion is not like other newspapers. We do not bow to ignorant and self-righteous notions of censorship. We don't knuckle under to pressure from the community unless it is sufficiently profitable. In short, we refuse to be manipulated, and we absolutely refuse to be stupid. There is also an excellent chance we harbor intense hatred for our readers.”

The Onion newspaper is “America’s finest news source”. With 2,251,643 followers on Twitter, you have no argument about how much people actually read it.

It is a newspaper for the sad eyes. When feeling depressed by CNN news burst and the almost non-stop trickles of bad news on the normal media, pick up something unusual- read a copy of the Onion newspaper and celebrate the Press Freedom in the US. But remember, you are not to fall for the stories hook, line and sinker. But allow them crack you up. As you flip from page to page, you might find tears welling up your eyes because of the ridiculousness of the stories. Like a cut onion, it will bring tears to your eyes. And yes, the copies are FREE!

Don't substitute it for your regular news story.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Starfish and the Spider- the book.

Is your organization a Starfish or a Spider? Or a mix of both? According to Brafman and Beckstrom in "The Starfish and the Spider", a Starfish is synonymous to an open system or a decentralized organization while a spider is synonymous to a centralized Organization.

What sets the two apart? A spider like a centralized system has a head and eight legs. When you cut the head of the spider, it dies. However, a Starfish is like a decentralized organization. It has no head. When you cut the Starfish in half, you are faced with two. If you cut one of its legs, it grows another one.

To elucidate this further, the authors describes six principles of a decentralized organization and gave examples. In highlight:
1. When attacked, a decentralized organization tends to become more open and decentralized.
2. It is easy to mistake a starfish for a spider
3. A decentralized organization is an open system. It does not have central intelligence. The intelligence is spread throughout the system and information naturally filter in at the edges, closer to where the action is.
4. The open system can easily mutate.
5. The decentralized organization sneaks up on you and grows quickly.
6. As industries become decentralized, overall profits decrease.

A centralized organization is coercive, it depends on order and hierarchy. But a decentralized organization is flat and fluid. No pyramid or hierarchy and it does not depend on central headquarters. It is a movement.

The decentralized system:

* Has no one person in charge
* No headquarters
* If you kill the head, the organization will not die.
* No clear division of the role; any and every activity is within anyone's job description.
* Units are autonomous
* Knowledge and power are distributed
* organization is flexible
* Units are self-funding
* Members are spread across and cannot be counted because of exponential growth
* The is direct communication between members.

This open system is built with a sense of trust and community by a Catalyst. Unlike the CEO who runs the centralized organization, the catalyst initiates a "circle" and fades away into the background in a decentralized organization. He lets go of leadership role and transfers ownership to the circle. He is seen as the inspiration, connector and charismatic. In the organization, relationship is built on trust and understanding. Ideology is the fuel that drives the decentralized organization.

But is one model better than the other? The author notes "It's not that open systems necessarily make better decisions. It's just that they're able to respond more quickly because each member has access to knowledge and the ability to make direct use of it."

What is setting Skype apart from AT&T? Craigslist from the traditional ad? Wikipedia from other sources? It is the starfish revolution! Any organization aiming for more creativity and exponential growth and sustainability would definitely embrace the starfish model- it is an unstoppable movement.

Reading Up-side-down

"Hey ladies. Hope you are all enjoying the beginning of your vacation time. (Some of you perhaps are just beginning to enjoy it right now). I only want to remind you all to get a hold of The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell to read for our Jan 29th training session."-- yet another book reading reminder from Atlas Corps Training Manager! Oh! I just want to crawl back to bed...but then instead I crawl into the pages of the book. We have to read it to be able to participate in the intellectual discourse during the training. No superficial contributions are celebrated.

Leaders are readers! And as An Atlas Corp Fellow training to be among the best non-profit leaders in the world, you must be willing to read-- something new! From books about non-profit management to Harvard Business Review :)

Reading a book per month, amidst the rigorous training and busy work schedule in our work placement/organizations, is not as easy as its spelling. I am excited about books, especially personal and professional development books but lately....phew! I have them all piled up on my desk...each page bleeding (not literally) for my attention.

The books we have read so far includes-- "How to change the world", "Be Bold", "Tipping Point" and "Forces for good".

David Bornstein in his book "How to change the world" gave a clear perspective in defining who is a Social Entrepreneur. He also provided an indept profile of different Social Entrepreneurs around the world doing extra ordinary things to create positive projected the "best practices" worth emulating and inspired ordinary people like us to be bold and take a leap and not relent in our commitment to make a positive difference in the world. (I am yet to finish reading this book).

What does it mean to be bold? Then came the next book of the month- "Be Bold" by Echoing green- " A meaningful life will mean something different for everyone. It may mean following a lucrative career track in the for-profit world, it may mean pursuing athletic or artistic talents, or it may mean being a terrific Parent... For many, a career of service is the path to meaningful life..." Pg 12.The goal of Be Bold is to inspire you to make a powerful personal movement that will impact the world around you. The Book "Be Bold" is not just another inspiring or motivational book. Okay, I admit it will certainly get you all pumped up with a provoking but inspiring attitude after reading :)

Hmmm... what is the difference between David's "How to Change the world" and Echoing Green's "Be Bold"? While mulling over that, allow me flaunt one of my favorite book so far-- The Tipping Point!

Reading "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference" by Malcolm Gladwell was a different cup of tea. In a nutshell, the book really changed my perspective on how to view issues-- especially social issues and how change occur. Many have argued that it doesn't take one person to start a change, but if as Gladwell states, "Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread like viruses do" then we now know that ideas, like viruses...starts with one person and tips....spread to others...through "The law of the few", "The stickiness factor" and "the power of context".

Tonight, I am flipping through, the last few pages I can read before tomorrow's training, "Forces for good" by Heather McLeod Grant & Leslie R. Crutchfield. For this book reading, I found it interesting doing a group-reading and discussion (before training discussion) with Paola and Masoora and then sharing an online Google document where we all input our thoughts as we made progress with the reading. (A method we must adopt each time we feel overwhelm with finding time to read).

Reading these books aint no child's play. We are expected to put the lessons we learned from each book into practice--- and so far, so good.

Atlas Corps Fellow monthly book-reading is exciting in its own way-- I look forward to receiving the next email buzz from the training manager announcing the book of the month. Step by step, putting one foot in front of the other and striving to embrace opportunities over excuses-- opportunities of imbibing the lessons learned in the books for professional development, over excuses of how little time we have to read. After all, leaders are readers ...and good time managers :)!

Hmmm...yeah, I wonder what book we will be reading next month! I hear it is "The Spider and The Starfish". Bring it on!

Oh! the title of this blog has nothing to do with my reading style. Have you ever tried reading up-side-down? It is easy ,just change your reading position if you are lying on your bed (as oppose to actually flipping your book up-side-down).

DISCLAIMER: This is NOT a book-review. Just a one-naira reflection on the adventure of a fellow in the pages of her books.