Training by Glen

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So yesterday after a chat over food, Glen from Training by Glen (TbG) hired me as his head of marketing and business development.

Glen and I will work closely in identifying key issues, challenges and opportunities, and spearhead marketing initiatives to bring TbG to greater heights.

Things are off to a great start as we are working on the idea of collaborating with like-minded fitness startups, and we have one particular startup in mind already.

Of course, there are housekeeping work to be done, and I just started a significant chunk of it this morning.

Looks like my first day at work (in singlet and shorts at home) went great!🙂

Posted in TbG

Social beliefs

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Social beliefs are an interesting thing.

The following is taken from David G. Myers’ “Social Psychology”.

As U.S. senators, Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama each adopted positions of apparent conscience. In 2001, McCain voted against President Bush’s proposed tax cut, say- ing “I cannot in good conscience support a tax cut in which so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate.” In 2008, when McCain was campaigning for the Republican nomination and then for president, he supported and favored extending the cuts that he earlier had opposed.

Barack Obama in 2007 declared himself a “longtime advocate” of public financing of presidential elections and pledged to accept public financing should he win the Democratic nomination for president. But when he won the nomination, supported by unprecedented campaign contributions, he rejected public financing of his own campaign.

For Democrats, McCain’s reversal displayed not moral courage and an openness to changing one’s mind in the light of new information, but rather expedience and hypocrisy as McCain sought to pick up contributions and votes from wealthy conservatives.

For Republicans, Obama’s reversal likewise displayed not a temporary strategy en route to reforming election financing, but rather hypocrisy and the same old do-what-you-can-to-get-elected politics.

As the candidates debated, most McCain partisans were impressed by the reasonableness and power of his straight-talk arguments, while being underwhelmed by the force and cogency of Obama’s performance. Most Obama partisans experienced a mirror-image reaction, feeling cheered by what they perceived as their candidate’s superior charisma, intelligence, and vision.

These differing reactions, which have been replicated in political perceptions across the world, illustrate the extent to which we construct social perceptions and beliefs as we

  • perceive and recall events through the filters of our own assumptions;
  • judge events, informed by our intuition, by implicit rules that guide our snap judgments, and by our moods;
  • explain events by sometimes attributing them to the situation, sometimes to the person; and
  • expect certain events, which sometimes helps bring them about.

Social Psychology – Our social beliefs and judgements

Thoughtworthy quotes extracted from Professor David G. Myers’ book, “Social Psychology”:

1) “Often our thinking and acting are subtly primed by unnoticed events. Rob Holland and his colleagues (2005) observed that Dutch students exposed to the scent of an all-purpose cleaner were quicker to identify cleaning-related words. In follow-up experiments, other students exposed to a cleaning scent recalled more cleaning-related activities when describing their day’s activities and even kept their desk cleaner while eating a crumbly cookie. Moreover, all these events occurred without the participants’ conscious awareness of the scent and its influence.”

2) “Because social perceptions are very much in the eye of the beholder, even a simple stimulus may strike two people quite differently. Saying Britian’s Gordon Brown is “an okay prime minister” may sound like a put down to one of his ardent admirers and like praise to someone who regards him with contempt. When social information is subject to multiple interpretations, preconceptions matter. (Hilton & von Hippel, 1990)”

3) “Indeed, people’s perceptions of bias can be used to assess their attitudes (Saucier & Miller, 2003). Tell me where you see bias, and you will signal your attitudes.”

4) “Our assumptions about the world can even make contradictory evidence seem supportive. For example, Ross and Lepper assisted Charles Lord (1979) in asking two groups of students to evaluate the results of two supposedly new research studies. Half the students favored capital punishment and half opposed it. Of the studies they evaluated, one confirmed and the other disconfirmed the students’ beliefs about the deterrent effect of the death penalty. The results: both proponents and opponents of capital punishment readily accepted evidence that confirmed their belief but were sharply critcal of disconfirming evidence. Showing the two sides of an identical body of mixed evidence had not lessened their disagreement, but increased it.”

5) “When we say something good or bad about people, people spontaneously tend to associate that trait with us, report Lynda Mae, Donal Carlston, and John Skowronski (1999; Carlston & Skowronski, 2005) – a phenomenom they call spontaneous trait transference. If we go around talking about others being gossipy, people may then unconsciously associate “gossip” with us… Describe someone as sensitive, loving, and compassionate, and you may seem more so.”

6) “These experiments suggest that the more we examine our theories and explain how they might be true, the more closed we become to information that challenges our beliefs. Once we consider why an accused person might be guilty, why an offending stranger acts that way, or why a favoured stock might rise in value, our explanations may survive challenges.”

7) “Is there a remedy for belief perseverance? There is: Explain the opposite.”

8) “The evidence is compelling: Our beliefs and expectations powerfully affect how we mentally construct events. Usually, we benefit from our preconceptions, just as scientists benefit from creating theories that guide them in noticing and interpreting events. But the benefits sometimes entail a cost: We become prisoners of our own thought patterns.”

9) “In experiments involving more than 20,000 people, Elizabeth Loftus (2003, 2007) and her collaborators have explored our mind’s tendency to construct memories. In the typical experiment, people witness an event, receive misleading information about it (or not), and then take a memory test. The repeated finding is the misinformation effect. People incorporate the misinformation into their memories: They recall a yield sign as a stop sign, hammers as screwdrivers… and a clean-shave man as a fellow with a mustache…

This process affects our recall of social as well as physical events. Jack Croxton and his colleagues (1984) had students spend 15 minutes talking with someone. Those who were later informed that this person liked them recalled the person’s behaviour as relaxed, comfortable and happy. Those informed that the person disliked them recalled the person as nervous, uncomfortable and not so happy.”
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Sports Matter 2014

I attended a segment of “Sports Matters” (http://sportsmatters.asia/) today.

The segment I attended was a 1 hour panel discussion revolving around the following question:

“Is globalisation of sport a good thing?”

Frankly, I don’t understand most of the details in the discussion. This is due to my (obvious) lack of knowledge and experience.

Nevertheless, I kept an open mind and stayed calm.

Most of the discussion – from the way I interpret – appear to revolve around the ability to “localise” (bring relevance to the target country in question) sport, and also the role of sponsorship.

Obviously, being the inquisitive me, I asked a question when the moderator offered the opportunity to the floor.

I asked “What do you think the globalization of sports means for Sports Hub? Do you think it will increase attendance at major sports events at it? “. My question was directed towards Andrew Georgiou, who is currently the CEO of World Sports Group (WSG). WSG is part of the Singapore Sports Hub consortium.

In essence, his reply was Singaporeans would attend events if they see relevance. It isn’t an issue of whether the events are major or not.

At the end of the day, I’m just glad I didn’t have to pay a single cent to attend this event (it is priced in the hundreds) because my University had an offer/waiver, and I managed to get a glimpse into the world of sports business.

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On Myers Briggs Personality Test

Since I noticed that the questions appear to require context, I took context into consideration when answering them.

Of course, I don’t think that everything fits me, so I am selecting notable ones that I think fits.

Context: In school and *ideally* at work

Results: ENTJ (http://www.16personalities.com/entj-personality)

Notable results:

1) “At the negotiating table, be it in a corporate environment or buying a car, ENTJs are dominant, relentless, and unforgiving.”

2) “Emotional expression isn’t the strong suit of any Analyst (NT) type, but because of their Extroverted (E) nature, ENTJs’ distance from their emotions is especially public, and felt directly by a much broader swath of people. Especially in a professional environment, ENTJs will simply crush the sensitivities of those they view as inefficient, incompetent or lazy.”

3) “ENTJs exemplify the difference between moment-to-moment crisis management and navigating the challenges and steps of a bigger plan, and are known for examining every angle of a problem and not just resolving momentary issues, but moving the whole project forward with their solutions.”

4) “”It’s my way or the highway” – People with the ENTJ personality type are notoriously unsupportive of any idea that distracts from their primary goals, and even more so of ideas based on emotional considerations. ENTJs won’t hesitate a second to make that fact clear to those around them.”

Context: With family, friends and at non-profit causes (eg charity, raise awareness of deaf, underprivilged, etc)

Results: INFJ (http://www.16personalities.com/infj-personality)

Notable results:

1) “Few personality types are as sensitive and mysterious as INFJs. Your imagination and empathy make you someone who not only cherishes their integrity and deeply held principles but, unlike many other idealistic types, is also capable of turning those ideals into plans, and executing them.”

2) “Combining a vivid imagination with a strong sense of compassion, INFJs use their creativity to resolve not technical challenges, but human ones. People with the INFJ personality type enjoy finding the perfect solution for someone they care about, and this strength makes them excellent counselors and advisors.”

3) “Seeing through dishonesty and disingenuous motives, INFJs step past manipulation and sales tactics and into a more honest discussion. INFJs see how people and events are connected, and are able to use that insight to get to the heart of the matter.”

4) “When INFJs come to believe that something is important, they pursue that goal with a conviction and energy that can catch even their friends and loved ones off guard. INFJs will rock the boat if they have to, something not everyone likes to see, but their passion for their chosen cause is an inseparable part of their personality.”

5) “INFJs like to know that they are taking concrete steps towards their goals, and if routine tasks feel like they are getting in the way, or worse yet, there is no goal at all, they will feel restless and disappointed.”

6) “When it comes to romantic relationships, INFJs take the process of finding a partner seriously. Not ones for casual encounters, people with the INFJ personality type instead look for depth and meaning in their relationships.”

7) “INFJs will go out of their way to seek out people who share their desire for authenticity, and out of their way to avoid those who don’t, especially when looking for a partner.”

8) “From the start, it can be a challenge to get to know INFJs, as they are very private, even enigmatic. INFJs don’t readily share their thoughts and feelings, not unless they are comfortable, and since those thoughts and feelings are the basis for INFJ friendships, it can take time and persistence to get to know them. Meanwhile, INFJs are very insightful and have a particular knack for seeing beyond others’ facades, interpreting intent and compatibility quickly and easily, and weeding out those who don’t share the depth of their idealism.”

9) “Once a common thread is found though, people with the INFJ personality type make loyal and supportive companions, encouraging growth and life-enriching experiences with warmth, excitement and care. As trust grows, INFJs will share more of what lies beneath the surface, and if those ideas and motives are mutual, it’s the sort of friendship that will transcend time and distance, lasting a lifetime. INFJs don’t require a great deal of day-to-day attention – for them, quality trumps quantity every time, and over the years they will likely end up with just a few true friendships, built on a richness of mutual understanding that forges an indelible link between them.”

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Being “idealistic” in the business world?

This was a question and answer in my “Introduction to Information and New Media” module.

Question in the slide: How are tighter finances at media companies affecting news?

What the Prof replied: Newspapers and media companies in general are not making enough money. Some of their revenues have been taken. Digital advertising – people find it more impactful to advertise on the internet, than on radio/tv channels. Cost have gone up: cost of production, land costs and labor costs.

Honestly, the way to go about this is to sensationalise: sensationalise things that are not true (that is the very worse), and even great news companies have done this. That is what the current news review in the UK is about.

The above goes to support the point that once profit making is the top priority in business, you can’t expect to be idealistic about what you do.

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On Food Babe

With reference to this article: http://www.forbes.com/sites/trevorbutterworth/2014/06/16/quackmail-why-you-shouldnt-fall-for-the-internets-newest-fool-the-food-babe/

“As Gorski notes, Hari’s strategy is to “name a bunch of chemicals and count on the chemical illiteracy of your audience to result in fear at hearing their very names.” Anti-freeze in beer? Propylene glycol has many uses, but the reason it’s used in de-icing solutions is that it lowers the freezing temperature of water. That’s it. There are no concerns about toxicity because you’d have to consume huge quantities of it very quickly to have any effect. “

Okay so I consume dihydrogen monoxide (water) daily. ->That is a chemical name.-> Chemicals can be dangerous. -> I must be dead by now then.

If most of us can recognise the absurdity in logic of this scenario, why can’t some of us apply the same critical thinking skill to better inform ourselves of purchases of health and fitness products?

Still, fuck you food babe.
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Emotions vs Cognition: A false dichotomy?

I’m still reading through Jonathan Haidt’s “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion”.

Jonathan Haidt is a social psychologist and Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business. His academic specialization is morality and the moral emotions. (From Wikipedia’s entry on him)

Thought I would share something interesting I learnt from the book.

Here it is:

Cognition vs emotion is a dichotomy that does not make much sense.

Cognition just prefers information processing. This includes higher cognition such as conscious reasoning, as well as lower cognition such as deva ju perception and memory retrieval. Emotion is a bit harder to define. Emotions were long thought to be visceral.

But beginning in the 1980s, scientists increasing recognised that emotions were filled with cognition.

Emotions occur in steps. The first of which is to appraise something which just happened, based on whether it advances or hinders your goal. These appraisals are a kind of information processing. They are cognitions. When the praise program detects particular input patterns, it launches a set of changes in the brain that prepares the person to respond appropriately.

For example, if you hear someone riding up behind you in a dark street, your fear system detects the threat and triggers your sympathetic nervous system, firing up the fight or flight response, cranking up your heart rate and widening up your pupils to help you take in more information.

Emotions are not dumb. Dementia patients make terrible decisions because they are deprived of emotional inputs into their decision making. Emotions are a kind of information processing.

Contrasting emotions to cognition is therefore as pointless as contrasting rain with weather, or cars with vehicles.

The crucial distinction is between two kinds of cognition: Intuition and reasoning.

Moral intuitions are one kind of intuition. But most kinds are more subtle – they don’t rise to the level of emotions. The next time you read a newspaper or drive a car, notice the many tiny flashes of condemnation that go through your consciousness. Is each flash an emotion? Or ask yourself if it’s better to save the life of 5 strangers or 1 – assuming all else is equal. Do you need emotion to tell you to go to the 5? Do you need reasoning? No, you just see instantly! The 5 is better than 1. Intuition is the best word to describe the dozen of rapid, effortless moral judgements that we all make everyday.

Only a few intuitions come to us as full blown emotions.

Thought provoking and helpful nuggets from “Social Psychology” by David Myers


Sharing is caring. I will update this page when appropriate.🙂

Why social psychology, Zi Siong? Well…

“Social psychology aims to expose us to fallacies in our thinking in the hope that we will
become more rational, more in touch with reality.” [Point number 8 actually, haha]

1) “We find causes where we look for them. To see this in your own experience, consider: Would you say your social psychology instructor is a quiet or a talkative person? My guess is you
inferred that he or she is fairly outgoing. But consider: Your attention focuses on your
instructor while he or she behaves in a public context that demands speaking. The instructor
also observes his or her own behavior in many different situations—in the classroom, in
meetings, at home. “Me talkative?” your instructor might say. “Well, it all depends on the
situation.” ”

2) “People who are more self-conscious attribute their behaviour more to internal factors and less
to the situation.”

3) “The fundamental attribution error: observers underestimating the situation. Driving into a gas
station, we may think the person parked at the second pump (thus blocking access to the first)
is inconsiderate. That person, having arrived when the first pump was in use, attributes her
behavior to the situation.”

4) “From his analysis of 173 studies, Bertram Malle (2006) concluded that the actor-observer
difference is minimal. When our action feels intentional and admirable, we attribute it to our
own good reasons, not to the situation. It’s only when we behave badly that we’re more likely
to attribute our behavior to the situation, while someone observing us may spontaneously infer
a trait.”

5) “We often ignore powerful situational determinants. Why do we tend to underestimate the
situational determinants of others’ behavior but not of our own? Attribution theorists pointed
out that we observe others from a different perspective than we observe ourselves (Jones, 1976;
Jones & Nisbett, 1971). When we act, the environment commands our attention. When we watch
another person act, that person occupies the center of our attention and the environment
becomes relatively invisible.”

6) “People who are merely feigning a position write more forceful statements than you’d expect
(Allison & others, 1993; Miller & others, 1990).”

7) “In real life, those with social power usually initiate and control conversations, which often
leads underlings to overestimate their knowledge and intelligence. Medical doctors, for
example, are often presumed to be experts on all sorts of questions unrelated to medicine.”

8) “Social psychology aims to expose us to fallacies in our thinking in the hope that we will
become more rational, more in touch with reality.”

9) “This tendency resolves a puzzling pair of consistent findings: Those who participate in
psychotherapy and self-improvement programs for weight control, antismoking, and exercise show only modest improvement on average. Yet they often claim considerable benefit (Myers, 2010). Michael Conway and Michael Ross (1986) explain why: Having expended so much time, effort, and money on self-improvement, people may think, “I may not be perfect now, but I was worse before; this did me a lot of good.””

10) “Our memory system is a web of associations, and priming is the awakening or activating of
certain associations. Experiments show that priming one thought, even without awareness, can
influence another thought, or even an action. John Bargh and his colleagues (1996) asked people to complete a sentence containing words such as “old,” “wise,” and “retired.” Shortly
afterward, they observed these people walking more slowly to the elevator than did those not
primed with aging-related words. Moreover, the slow walkers had no awareness of their walking
speed or of having just viewed words that primed aging.”

11) “As social chameleons, those who score high in self-monitoring are also less committed to their relationships and more likely to be dissatisfied in their marriages (Leone & Hawkins, 2006).”

12) “Social networking sites such as Facebook provide a new and sometimes intense venue for self  presentation. They are, says communications professor Joseph Walther, “like impression
management on steroids” (Rosenbloom, 2008). Users make careful decisions about which pictures, activities, and interests to highlight in their profiles. Some even think about how their
friends will affect the impression they make on others; one study found that those with more
attractive friends were perceived as more attractive themselves (Walther & others, 2008). Given
the concern with status and attractiveness on social networking sites, it is not surprising
that people high in narcissistic traits thrive on Facebook, tallying up more friends and
choosing more attractive pictures of themselves (Buffardi & Campbell, 2008).”

13) “When we behave badly or fail in a task, we reassure ourselves by thinking that such lapses
also are common. After one person lies to another, the liar begins to perceive the other person
as dishonest (Sagarin & others, 1998). They guess that others think and act as they do: “I lie,
but doesn’t everyone?” If we cheat on our income taxes or smoke, we are likely to overestimate
the number of other people who do likewise.”

14) “Most cultures native to Asia, Africa, and Central and South America place a greater value on
collectivism. They nurture what Shinobu Kitayama and Hazel Markus (1995) call the
interdependent self. In these cultures, people are more self-critical and have less need for
positive self-regard (Heine & others, 1999). Malaysians, Indians, Japanese, and traditional
Kenyans such as the Maasai, for example, are much more likely than Australians, Americans, and
the British to complete the “I am” statement with their group identities (Kanagawa & others,
2001; Ma & Schoeneman, 1997).

15) “When speaking, people using the languages of collectivist countries say “I” less often (Kashima & Kashima, 1998, 2003). A person might say “Went to the movie” rather than “I went to the movie.” ”

* Collectivism: Giving priority to the goals of one’s groups (often one’s extended family or
work group) and defining one’s identity accordingly.

* Interdependent self: Construing one’s identity in relation to others.

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17) “With remarkable ease, we form and sustain false beliefs. Led by our preconceptions, feeling overconfident, persuaded by vivid anecdotes, perceiving correlations and control even where none may exist, we construct our social beliefs and then influence others to confirm them. ”

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9)  On how to enhance group brainstorming:Untitled20) 1
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1) “We are more prone to ingroup bias when our group is small and lower in status relative to the outgroup (Ellemers & others, 1997; Mullen & others, 1992). When we’re part of a small group surrounded by a larger group, we are more conscious of our group membership; when our ingroup is the majority, we think less about it. To be a foreign student, to be gay or lesbian, or to be of a minority race or gender at some social gathering is to feel one’s social identity more keenly and to react accordingly.”

22) “The extra attention we pay to distinctive people creates an illusion that they differ from others more than they really do. If people thought you had the IQ of a genius, they would probably notice things about you that otherwise would pass unnoticed.”

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TED talk on the power of introverts

Just watched this TED talk.

I enjoyed it.

My personal view is that introverts need to position themselves where their abilities and interest lie. I think, and feel, that many introverts are natural leaders. This is especially so for introverts with a clear vision and willingness to achieve a set objective.

Why do I say so?

Such introverts are quiet but acute observers. They are able to detect complex patterns quickly and accurately when some extroverts might not notice. And they do so in a way that serves their vision well. Because of their intimate understanding of complex environments (where they play more of observers initially), and the silent but powerful network they establish with people who share their vision and have unique strengths, they are able to design complex systems and processes and have the neccesary manpower to execute their plans.

But of course, this is not to suggest introverts “rule the world”. Far from it. This is giving balance to perhaps, the belief that only extroverts are capable of helming large organisations. In reality, I think both introverts and extroverts (and this is not a black-and-white concept) have their roles to play.

Therefore, I think introverts should be confident of their abilities, and find the right avenues to express them – at a professional and personal level.

Just my brief opinion though.🙂

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