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Posts Tagged ‘discipline

Reflections on Coursera: 7 reasons I love it

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This post is not a review of Coursera.

My sincere appreciation to Coursera for providing me an opportunity to learn many interesting subjects and to improve the quality of my life.

These are seven reasons I love it (as of summer 2013).

1. FREE.
Coursera courses are free as of summer 2013.
Some of the best things in life are free,
for example the love of parents to their children.

2. An opportunity to practice GRATITUDE.
According to Thomas Paine, human beings tend to take things for granted.
“That which we obtain too easily, we esteem too lightly.
It is dearness only which gives everything its value.”
By being grateful, we can live happier and more fulfilling.

The Coursera lectures are presented in short videos which are ideal for the following people:
workers who want to improve their knowledge and skills.
breastfeeding mothers who have to attend to young babies.
commuters who have to travel far on public transports.

4. SOCIAL & ECONOMIC ENABLERS for those who cannot afford to o for schooling due to their earlier life circumstances.
A friend of mine mentions that he prefers to hire those who have completed Coursera courses* (and are able to apply what they have learned) to those who present traditional educational certifications.
He reasons that those who strive to upgrade their knowledge & skills on their own initiative, need to put efforts & discipline.

* Statement of Accomplishment can prove that one has completed a Coursera course.

Indeed, MOOCs such as Coursera have a great potential to unlock career and educational opportunities, and find new life pathways for people of all ages regardless of current social economic background.

5. an opportunity to practice perseverance, discipline, the art of prioritizing (doing first thing first), and to experience the joy of learning.

Top Ten Reasons Students Didn’t Finish MOOC:

  • Takes too Much Time
  • Assumes Too Much Knowledge
  • Too Basic
  • Lecture Fatigue
  • Poor Course Design
  • Clunky Community/Communication Tools
  • Bad Peer Review & Trolls
  • Surprised by Hidden Costs
  • Shopping Around
  • Want to Learn, Nor for Credential

Coursera offers a community of fellow students / learners hailed from worldwide.
This satisfy human beings’ need to socialize.

Some of Coursera courses that I have attended have offered a delicious treat to our senses: visual, audio, tastes, odor, and touch.
For example,
(i) from the Coursera course on child nutrition & cooking instructed by Maya Adam (Stanford University),
I have learned how to cook delicious & healthy pasta with homemade sauce.
While watching me cooking in the kitchen, my baby experience the fragrant smell of pasta,
and in the near future he will be able to taste it too.
(ii) Coursera videos feature instructors from different regions worldwide (mostly Americans as of summer 2013).
These videos also serve as an avenue to learn e.g. American English.

What’s next?

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Written by blueroselady

June 2, 2013 at 6:34 am

Ten Inspirations from Dato Sri Tahir: an entrepreneur & banker

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Dato Sri Tahir / 翁俊民 is the founder of the Mayapada Group, an Indonesian-based conglomerate.

Literally, Mayapada is an imaginary kingdom in Mahabharata.

I first knew Tahir through Forbes. He was born in Surabaya on 26 March 1952.

Below are ten (10) inspirations that I learned from him:

1. Dare to dream.
To quote Tahir, "One is not afraid of failure, one is only afraid of being fearful to dream. Life is like a competition / race with many participants and few winners. If you do not run faster than others, you will never win prizes"

Transform our dreams into our beliefs & vision / 异象.
With vision, we can exercise self-control.

2.Turn adversity into advantage / 逢凶化吉.
Once I attended a talk by Professor Lui Pao Chuen who also advocates turning adversity into advantage.

In the words of Tahir, "I come from a poor Chinese family," the tycoon says of his roots. "My parents used to make becak (a three-wheel rickshaw / pedicab). My father would assemble the parts while my mother painted them."

3. Be resourceful & courageous to make positive use of our resources.

"His wife, Rosy, the daughter of another Indonesian tycoon, Mochtar Riady, recently started h2h Charity, which has a vintage shop in Jakarta, proceeds from which are donated to help provide schooling for underprivileged children in Indonesia."

Tahir’s father-in-law rescued him from bankruptcy in 80s. Having wealthy (and most importantly keen & willing to help) family or friends may be helpful.

Sometimes, we may know wealthy associates but the timing and place are not right for them to assist us.
Do not blame them.
When the people, timing, and place (the spatio-temporal dynamic context) are right,
and we obtain assistance in the forms of any or some financial ($), intellectual resources,
these people become 贵人.

Make positive use of 贵人, even the best universities and Google stand on the shoulder of giant.

4. To win,
one must continuously learn, absorb, observe, and practice.
自强不息, 力求上进.
Practice makes perfect.
Practice creates talent.
It takes 10,000 hours of practice to give birth to an exceptional talent.

5. It is essential to pursue and support education.

Tahir’s Formal Education:
2008 : Obtained Doctor Honoris Causa (an honorary doctorate degree) from Universitas Tujuh Belas Agustus 1945-Surabaya (Major in Small and Medium Enterprises)
1987 : Obtained Master in Business Administration with GPA 4.00 from Golden Gate University, San Francisco, USA.
1976 : Obtained Bachelor’s degree majoring in business from Nan Yang University, Singapore

Tahir has also been appointed as a Board of Trustee at the University of California, Berkeley, becoming the first man from Southeast Asia to hold this position.
On April 2011, Tahir donated $1 million to the University of California, Berkeley for international student fellowships for students in the fulltime MBA program at Berkeley-Haas.

In my humble opinion, education is not entirely equal to schooling. I will write more about their differences.

6. Abide by the rules.
Competition has rules.
If one does not follow rules, s/he will face extinction.
Tahir cites an example using his banking business that strictly follows rules and regulations of the banking world.

"The Mayapada bank went public at the Jakarta Stock Exchange and weathered the 1997 economic crisis (when many banks became bankrupt due to not following rules) and managed to expand even more aggressively after the crisis. With foreign investment partners from the US, UAE and Singapore, the bank now has over 100 branches throughout Indonesia, and in 2007 has been voted as the second best public bank outside state-owned banks by InfoBank magazine, an influential banking magazine in Indonesia."

Though rupiah (IDR) collapsed in 1997, his bank (The Mayapada Bank) was spared because it was small and had not borrowed in US dollars.

7. Self-know.
Know ourselves, our strengths and weaknesses.
Know our level of competence.
If you are of 50 kg, you should not compete in the 100 kg class.

8. Win over your greatest enemy: yourself.
The only challenge Tahir faces, he says, is within himself: "I have to overcome my selfishness, my improper ambitions and greed."

Tahir could say so because he has successfully journeyed through the climb.
For many of aspiring entrepreneurs,
we first have to overcome laziness, faulty pride (e.g. the need of approval from others), negative mindset.

9. Build strong & solid platforms / foundations.

To quote Tahir, "I don’t build deals, I don’t build transactions … I build foundations or platforms."

Tahir has built the following platforms:
financial services (Mayapada Bank, Zurich Insurance Indonesia and Nipponkoa Indonesia).
Duty Free Shoppers.
real estate business (several buildings in Jakarta, hotels in Bali and Batam, and a new tower in Singapore).
healthcare (Mayapada Hospital).
media (Guo Ki*, Forbes Indonesia, Topas TV).

* the largest Chinese newspaper in Indonesia, with a circulation of 30,000 copies.

10. Make others happy, especially let others happy in their last moment.
Perhaps Tahir has lived long enough (as compared to young students) and seen many death to say: "The most enjoyable moment of my (life) is when I help people, especially when you give pride and honor to a person who is in a crisis in (the) last moment of his life."

If you find my writings are inspirational to you, please donate to me by clicking here.

Written by blueroselady

May 20, 2013 at 6:57 am

The Rule of 5: Chicken Soup for the Soul

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So far I have learned 2 things from Jack Canfield, the co-creator of Chicken Soup for the Soul.
According to Wikipedia (Sep 2012), they are over 100 million copies in print and in 54 languages worldwide.

1. The law of attraction. He wrote 100,000 on a bill note, and put the note on the ceiling of his bedroom so that he could see the wealth everyday.
2. The Rule of 5: every day, Jack does 5 specific things to move his goal to completion, in this case to get Chicken Soup for the Soul to the top of the New York Times Best-Seller list.

Imagine this:
5 new customers a day,
equals 1,825 customers in a year

5 pages of writing a day,
equals 7 250-page books in a year

Written by blueroselady

September 24, 2012 at 2:22 pm

Life skills for success

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From May Lee, TV journalist and talk show host.

She is a Korean American.
She claimed that an Asian child never forgets RESPECT, HARD WORK, DISCIPLINE.
I found that her writing tone is authoritative, direct, yet truthful.

“I was doing an interview, some men started making racist comments. I confronted them angrily, saying the world had enough racists, so they should think twice before opening their mouths. They fell silent”.
May Lee feels strongly about standing up for JUSTICE even if it means putting herself at risk.

Use your connection, to gain access to RIGHT people.

EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED. Her 10-day diving holiday with no communication seemed 1st disastrous to her career but turned out to be a blessing.

You can win over people with TRUST and RESPECT.
May Lee said her biggest scoop at Oxygen Media was Monica Lewinsky.

Get the job done (even if your colleagues are irresponsible).

Push yourself to LEARN new skills. You will thank yourself later.

I love her list of things to give up to be happy.
1. no need to always be right. Blueroselady believes that it is more important to be kind than being right.
2. no need for control.
3. no need to blame others. This way, Blueroselady does not give her power away.
4. eliminate limiting beliefs.
5. no need to complain. Blueroselady is a habitual optimistic who always think positively day and night.
6. no need to criticize (things / events / people).
7. no need to impress others.
8. no need to resist change. Blueroselady embraces change.
9. no fear. See Blueroselady’s tips on how to overcome fear.
10. no excuses.
11. no living my life to other people’s expectations. Blueroselady responds to her inner calling.
May Lee said “You have one life – this one right now – you must live it, own it, and especially don’t let other people’s opinions distract you from your path.”

“May Lee Live and In Person” published by John Wiley and Sons.

Written by blueroselady

June 1, 2012 at 3:45 pm

Focus on positive things in life

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I went to attend a conference, with a hope to contact the person A.R., who would later unwilling to give even 30 seconds. It reminds me again on who I am here. Not an elitist, I am more like a peasant’s child who managed to penetrate the system. It’s okay, I move on. There are many things in life worth-better to pursue. While cycling back, my mind thought of successful people who are friendly to me. They are my role models. I made a stop at the Trinity gate, for the purple flowers have blossomed into a beautiful purple carpet, with a bit of yellow ones.

At least, I learned a bit about coaching – where one of the attendees is doing unpaid research, she said she got a paper accepted yesterday. The 2nd funding I applied to was rejected yesterday.

The talk given by Christina Dodwell was interesting, she has the style of story-teller. I enjoyed it. She had a broken relationship, lost her job, so decided to travel to Africa for a year in late 70s. Her dream was scattered when her land-rover was stolen in a month there. She had been initiated into manhood in Papua, jailed, robbed, what a life experience! Losing everything is not the end of world (there’s time in her life that she lives in caravan). She also established the Dodwell Trust, to aid in English teaching in Madagascar. I want to do similar stuff too, to promote education in my birth country and my ancestor country.

I also learned about portfolio career.
A portfolio career is the pursuit of more than one income source simultaneously, usually by applying the various skills you’ve developed throughout your career to different types of work. For example, you could combine consulting with part-time work, teaching at a local college and freelance writing. You could use your speaking and facilitation skills to lead workshops at companies or educational institutions. You could even develop your own product or service.

While avoiding boring-for-me talks, I read about tips on work-life balances. I am going to put here on this weekend.

Strategies for busy researchers
For being a successful researcher and also for having a life outside of research.
There are always unexpected emergencies and opportunities that can knock us out of balance.

Ten strategies to keep our work in balance
So if we look ahead to the next year, what are our plans? What would we really like to achieve by the end of the year? By the end of 3 months? By the end of this week? By the end of today? What is the most important thing you need to get done today?

It’s more important to be doing the right things than doing things right.
A massive teaching load is not going to help your research career.
Of course some things will be out fo our control, but not everything. Are there things on our list that are taking up time but are not really helpful?

It’s suggested that we set aside two hours, e.g. between 9 and 11am, that we dedicate to writing or analysis.

4. Learn how to say NO
A good one is learn how not to say YES so readily. When someone asks us to take on a new commitment, we might answer, “That sounds interesting. Can I get back to you?” or “I’ll just need to check my diary and I’ll give you a call back”.


We are often critical of our own work leading to a lot of self-doubt and concerns about our ability. We can try to get an objective opinion from someone else.

There was an experiment in which a PhD student was put on a regime of writing for two hours three days a week. He achieved  more in six weeks than he had in the previous six months.

We can increase our daily productivity by about 20%.

do it.
do it later (put in diary / organizer).
discard it (do not care).

~ Don’t answer our phone at certain times. Let it go to the answering machine when we are trying to concentrate / writing.
~ Turn off the ‘bing’ in our email program. Even better, turn off our email program.
~ Go to a quiet place if we need to do concentrated work.

Ten strategies to keep the non-work part of our life in balance:

It’s good to be off duty sometimes. That’s when we recharge, catch up with family, and attend to the other parts of our life.
A senior academic said, “In the past I used to procrastinate about things because I knew I’d do them on the weekend. Now I focus on finishing things when I’m at work because I know I’m not going to work on the weekend. It’s helped me focus on the important things”.

e.g. go church (honestly I often daydreaming), pursue arts (photography, movies), learn languages and interesting travel destinations, read books.

It’s interesting to think that  many of us give our best to people we don’t know very well and the people we do care about see us when we’re tired and worn out.

It’s important to distinguish between problem-solving and worry. Problem solving is a fairly structured process of working out what can be done. Worrying is recycling the same thoughts over and over. It’s a pretty destructive activity because not only does it not solve the problem, it wears out our neurons.

One early career researcher described how she would feel guilty about taking a holiday so she always brought her data with her so she could analyze it. Of course she never looked at it which made her feel guilty too.
Give holidays to our laptop and paperwork too.
My personal note: It’s useful to bring some of our notes for learning (not those require complex thinking ones), for waiting on the public transports, etc; good when we are returning from trips 🙂

e.g. babysitter

It’s tempting, when we’re under pressure from looming deadlines, to work late into the nights and sleep less. This might work in the short term but it becomes counter-productive.

Looking after ourselves works better if we have a routine. e.g. go for a walk at lunchtime.


Because everyone else has the latest labor-saving gadget, you get one. And the you have to work harder to pay for it. And it doesn’t seem to save you much labor.


Written by blueroselady

February 25, 2009 at 3:31 pm