Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Phenomenon that is Steve Jobs: Secrets to Apple's Success

Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish. Those were Steve Jobs borrowed words with which he admonished the graduates of Stanford University in 2005. In that speech, Jobs related his life story, the seemingly incongruent events in his life that had armed him with the experiences that he would later use to bring success to the companies that he founded: Apple Computers and Pixar.

Steve Jobs addresses the 2005 graduates of Stanford University

In the last 3 weeks, I've been able to read 3 books that analyzed the genius that was Steve Jobs. These books are:

Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs
Inside Steve's Brain
The Macintosh Way

If one were curious about Steve Jobs and especially as to how he was able to make Apple one of the greatest tech companies of all time, these are the books to read (among several). They tell of the kind of man he is: very temperamental, a perfectionist, and an obssessive. But even if these characteristics seem like flaws, they are perhaps part of what allowed him to make happen his unique vision for every product that he and Apple churned out. Surely those characteristics are the very antidote to mediocrity and no-can-do atttitude that Steve Jobs has been known to despise.

7 Secrets to Steve Jobs' Success:

1. Simplicity
In every product that they designed, Apple and Steve Jobs was always after simplicity. Simplicity may sound too easy, but there is actually complexity in simplicity as Jobs and his team found out. It is harder to keep things simple, than to make them complex. Because he had taken pains to make things simple, the world noticed it and they are rewarded for it. Just think of the very first Ipod: elegant, simple, and a true winner.

2. Customer Experience
Apple does not do any user studies or focused group discussions to see what kind of products they should come up with or to determine how well their products will be embraced by the market. Steve Jobs is his own focused group, and if he doesn't like something, it doesn't get made. What Steve Jobs always keeps in mind is the customer experience. He treats himself like a customer, and he ensures that the customer will have the best experience with their products.

3. Design
Design was key to Apple's success - from the Mac to the Ipod, then Iphone and Ipad. The design had to be simple, sleek yet state of the art. It had to be out of the box, it had to be unique, it had to stand out. It is for this reason that Steve Jobs kept with him talented designers who helped him realize his vision for his Apple products. Design wasn't just about aesthetics; it was every bit tied with designing for simplicity and superb customer experiences.

Steve Jobs and his Apple toys
4. Marketing
Steve Jobs believes in marketing. He makes every effort to get the best marketing people and to conduct excellent marketing events - like the Mac World where he launches his latest products. He knows full well that a good product is no good if it does not sell that's why he does not neglect this aspect. He is every bit demanding in both the product development as well as in getting those products to their desired consumers.

5. Teamwork
Even while Steve Jobs is notorious for his temper, he was able to maintain around him excellent people working as a team. The concensus is that while many fear getting Jobs' ire, they also deeply respect and admire the man for his brilliance. People try to get out of Steve Jobs way, and on the other hand, they want to make sure he is made happy with their work output. Steve Jobs has an eye for talent, and he assembles a team of great people to help him realize his vision. He knows that and has applied it both in his twin jewels: Apple and Pixar.

6. Passion
Steve Jobs is very passionate about his beliefs. When he has in his mind an idea for a product, he becomes resolute in making it happen. His passion could be said to show up in his temper, his attention to detail, his perfectionism, his commitment to excellence. His life had always been about pursuing is passion, and the work that he does at Apple is definitely one of his. He values passion in both himself and the people around him. One of the reasons he was persuaded to invest in Pixar was that he saw the passion of the people there, esp. of Ed Catmull whose vision was to make the first full-length computer-animated movie. Jobs was sold to both Catmull's vision and passion.

7. Innovation
The reason Apple has carved a name for itself and has set itself apart from Microsoft and all other technology companies is that they innovate. They do not create better versions of what someone else has already made; they create new things that no one has done before; or they do things exceptionally well that they jump light-years ahead of their competitors. It is through innovation that Apple was able to conquer the music industry: from being the #1 music player (Ipod) to the #1 music retailer (via iTunes) to the #1 technology store (the iStore). He redefines industries and creates whole new products entirely.

When you come to think of it, these 7 Secrets to Steve Jobs' Success are things we have already heard of before. You'll probably find it prescribed in any good business/self-help book. There is little surprise there.
What is important to remember though is that while none of these is new, it is the faithful application that Steve Jobs made of these principles that really separated him and Apple (and Pixar) from the rest. That IS what's new - the commitment to excellence no matter what, whatever it takes. 
Like his 'Think Different' campaign, Steve Jobs is indeed the 'crazy one' who dared think he could change the world - and as we can know now, he definitely did.

Apple's "Think Different" Campaign: Steve Jobs' brainchild.
It speaks as much about him as his very own aspirations for Apple.

Book Recommendations:
Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs
Inside Steve's Brain
The Macintosh Way

Monday, June 27, 2011

Language and Identity: The Young Rizal and the Filipino-Americans

At age 8, the young Jose Rizal made his first poem, that of "Sa Aking Mga Kabata" (To the Youth), a poem in which he exhorted his fellow youth to love one's own language. He likened to "an animal and putrid fish" someone who does not know and love one's own.

Sa aking mga Kabata

Kapagka ang baya'y sadyáng umiibig
Sa kanyáng salitáng kaloob ng langit,
Sanglang kalayaan nasa ring masapit
Katulad ng ibong nasa himpapawid.

Pagka't ang salita'y isang kahatulan
Sa bayan, sa nayo't mga kaharián,
At ang isáng tao'y katulad, kabagay
Ng alin mang likha noong kalayaán.

Ang hindi magmahal sa kanyang salitâ
Mahigit sa hayop at malansáng isdâ,
Kayâ ang marapat pagyamaning kusà
Na tulad sa ináng tunay na nagpalà.

Ang wikang Tagalog tulad din sa Latin
Sa Inglés, Kastilà at salitang anghel,
Sapagka't ang Poong maalam tumingín
Ang siyang naggawad, nagbigay sa atin.

Ang salita nati'y huwad din sa iba
Na may alfabeto at sariling letra,
Na kaya nawalá'y dinatnan ng sigwâ
Ang lunday sa lawà noóng dakong una.

English Translation here.

Rizal was a known polyglot - someone who is fluent in several languages. But he also knew that while there are many languages in the world, one must not allow one's own language to be drowned out by them; one must have a voice, one must be heard; and there is no better language to speak with than one's mother tongue.

Language is a distillation of one's culture; it is it's very essence. To not know the language of one's society is to lose out on that essence - like a body with no soul, like a face without an identity. Young Filipino-Americans are experiencing that difficulty. They were born and raised in America, have acquired American citizenship, and for all intents and purposes they are American.

But to these young Fil-Ams, finding out who they really are is not a matter of birthplace nor citizenship.

When they look in the mirror, they look Asian; and they know that in their predominantly Caucasian environment, they are the odd one out. Their fellow Asian-Americans - the Chinese, Vietnamese, and Koreans - well, they seem to be having an easier time. For one, they are more in touch with their native homeland's culture. AND, they tend to have a better grasp of their native language.

Clockwise from Left: The Rizal @ 150 poster; author with friends (none of them are Fil-Ams, hehe) beside the Young Rizal sculpture at the Rizal Shrine in Calamba; Rizal's home and birthplace; author with Rizal at backdrop; the young Rizal's room which he shared with his brother Paciano. 
The reason many put forth for the Fil-Am's failure to know more about their native culture and esp. of their language is the Filipinos 'adaptability'. Even in the Philippines, English is a considered a second language and is in many institutions a medium of communication, and in many schools a medium of instruction. It's a product of our American colonial experience and the residual colonial mentality. That is why Filipino parents who raise a family in the U.S. tend to adapt easily to the American culture and find ease in the language. Their children naturally follow the same. There is little effort to try to teach the Filipino language to their children, except only by way of absorption which is inefficient in an environment where everything's American. Compare this with our Asian neighbors who find it imperative that their children know their mother tongue, even sending them to language schools both in the U.S. and in their native countries.

With the 150th birthday of the Filipino national hero Jose Rizal - a man of science, letters and the arts - we must heed to his call for our loving our own language. Part of that affection would be to share that language to our children. After all, Rizal was speaking to them when he wrote "Sa Aking Mga Kabata" at age 8. Rizal then, like the Fil-Ams now, know that something within them is lost if they cannot be made to know the language that runs in their blood.

Book Recommendations:
THE FIRST FILIPINO: A Biography of Jose Rizal
Lineage, Life and Labors of Jose Rizal, Philippine Patriot
Lolo Jose: An Intimate and Illustrated Portrait of Jose Rizal
Looking for Jose Rizal in Madrid : journeys, latitudes, perspectives, destinations

Friday, June 24, 2011

Please LIKE to get a FREE IPad... OR read for more details..

If Facebook and Apple will have their way, I might get jailed for this post (OK, not really.) But good thing it's just a hook to get you to read (and learn from) this post (hehe), because, my friends, Facebook has actually banned the use of the Like buttons for campaigns and Apple has prohibited the use of the Ipad as giveaways for contests. Read on.

Facebook bans use of 'Like' functionality of Facebook for Promotions

Yes, they did. Recenly, Facebook updated its Promotions Guidelines page to in so many words say that they now prohibit the use of the 'Like' functionality by companies in their promotions. The policy states that the 'Like' functionality (and other Facebook functionalities) may not be used, as follows:
xx xx xx
You must not use Facebook features or functionality as a promotion’s registration or entry mechanism. For example, the act of liking a Page or checking in to a Place cannot automatically register or enter a promotion participant.

You must not condition registration or entry upon the user taking any action using any Facebook features or functionality other than liking a Page, checking in to a Place, or connecting to your app. For example, you must not condition registration or entry upon the user liking a Wall post, or commenting or uploading a photo on a Wall.

You must not use Facebook features or functionality, such as the Like button, as a voting mechanism for a promotion.
xx xx xx
My thoughts? I do not see the wisdom in this prohibition. I agree that the proliferation of such promotions asking for 'Likes' can be irritating, but I do not think it merits the prohibition. The fact that people and companies have taken to using the Like functionality is proof that the Like feature provides some value to them. It is after all quite easy to use.

If there was no benefit to using the Like functionality, be it for the company (does not really build the kind of fans they need) or the users (it's irritating to have to Like fan pages just because of a campaign) - then I think campaigns like that will die on its own. Already, I think people are growing weary of such campaigns, so to make the prohibition now is an overkill.

But wisdom aside, I think the reason is more economics for Facebook. They need to make their Facebook apps earn, maybe it's not taking off as much as they'd like, and so the need to keep the people/companies off their Like buttons. The policy actually encourages the use of apps to launch campaigns. Facebook is also reportedly gearing up for an IPO in 2012, so this effort to monetize their features is an attempt to further up their valuation which some estimates say is as high as $100B. Un-be-liev-able!

I think instead of prohibiting the use of Like buttons for campaigns, Facebook should focus instead on creating great amazing apps that will naturally attract people and companies to bring their campaigns there until they find it more worth their while that they leave the Facebook 'Like' buttons alone.

On a lighter note, the guidelines that Facebook issued is silent on any repercussions or penalties should the guidelines not be heeded. Although it will be safe to assume that Facebook can shutdown a fan page or account that may be found to be violating the policy, the same way they shut down errant profiles/users that have been flagged by other users.

Apple bans promotions giving free Ipads

Apple now prohibits any companies or individuals from giving away free Ipads, including Iphones and Ipods, as giveaways or prizes in contests or campaigns of any kind. For any exemptions, the campaign or promotions must first be submitted for review to Apple. The reason for the stringent measures apparently comes from the theory that their brands are Apple's most valued properties, as such they need to protect the integrity of their use. Here are some of the terms and conditions that Apple has laid out:
xx xx xx
• iPad, iPhone and the iPhone Gift Card may not be used in third-party promotions.
• iPod touch is only allowed to be used in special circumstances and requires a minimum purchase of 250 units.
• You may NOT use the Myriad Set font on or in connection with web sites, products, packaging, manuals, or promotional/advertising materials.
• The use of "free" as a modifier in any Apple product reference in a prominent manner (headlines, call- outs, etc.) is prohibited.
• You must submit all marketing materials related to the promotion of Apple products to Apple for review.
xx xx xx

While initially, this smacks of killjoy, there is actually some good to it. For one, since the Ipad was released, computer, email and social media viruses have proliferated because they preyed on people's lust over the Apple gadget that were supposedly being given away for free. Taking a cue from the Love virus, these viruses feed on people's desire for the must-have gadget of the season (like love is the must-have emotion of all time) and many have fallen victim. To officially proclaim that Ipads may no longer be given away in any campaigns, it gives the contests/campaigns promising Ipads diminished credence.

However, there are still a lot of other companies who just simply know that everybody wants an Ipad and as such have thought it the most effective enticement in their campaigns, and are offering it in valid campaigns. The free Ipad campaigns have been very effective as I noticed that fan pages of certain companies offering the deals have grown in numbers - even I had fallen for one or two of them (I mean, you'll never know when you'll get lucky, right?) Surely we still all want to get our Ipads for free, but with Apple's prohibition, these campaigns have also died down.

On the one hand, Apple is letting go of millions of dollars worth of free advertising for its Ipad et al. with the prohibition of such campaigns; how can they do something so silly? Steve Jobs of all people who loves a good marketing should have surely seen that benefit.

What I can only wager is that apart from the viruses, one of the pitfalls of the free Ipad campaigns (which are too many and which may be valid) is that consumers, instead of actually buying the Ipads, just rely on the contests instead of buying the Ipads themselves. The other pitfall is that with the campaigns, Apple has seen the wanton use of Apple trademarks which may not be consistent with Apple's branding policies. It is Apple's way of protecting their branding.

In any case, not everyone is happy with the prohibition, with others saying that if you have already bought an Ipad (meaning it is already your property), how can anyone take away your right to also give it away? Others say it is Steve Jobs characteristic control-freak tendencies showing up.

Whatever the case, the prohibition seems actually more counterintuitive to the interests of Apple, so they must know what they are doing. We trust that, as always, Steve Jobs knows what he's doing. Until then, we're gonna have to buy our own Ipads.

Book Recommendations:
By Ben Mezrich: The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal
The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience
The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs: Insanely Different Principles for Breakthrough Success

Friday, June 17, 2011

From Conquerors and Conquered: To Buddies and Amigos

I took my history classes very seriously; therefore I went through the whole indignation over the dramatic transpirations in our country during the Spanish, American and Japanese colonial times. I mean, I can understand why Bonifacio and Rizal were pissed! :)

Before we could stand each other in elevators,
we were smashing each other's fleets.

But long after those textbooks of history classes, I thought it surreal when, working briefly in the U.S. for a multinational, I suddenly found myself in an elevator with my Spanish and American co-workers. I really had that moment, where I had to pause and - talking to myself - I thought it amazing that more than a century hence we should find ourselves - the colonizers and the colonized, the conquerors and the conquered - as happy co-workers, friends and equals. Here we are, I thought, in an elevator together and about to have lunch, whereas before we were fighting over sovereignty, spices and self-determination!

History is full of tragedies, and it can also be funny; it truly presents so many lessons that are there for the picking to those who care to look or remember. But the world has come a long long way from those imperialistic times. This experience of friendship between former colonies and their colonial masters, of countries that used to be at war but now bosom buddies, is also true for say, Korea and Japan. Korea was once a part Japanese imperialistic ambitions, having occupied it for 35 years in the 1900s. At the height of the nuclear crisis in Japan due to the earthquake in Fukushima, South Korea lent a hand by sending an emergency shipment of reactor coolant. Even their KPop stars chipped in.

In the Philippines, the Japanese have extended a lot of goodwill via their Official Development Assistance, among the visible benefits of which are infrastructure projects, such as the Quezon Boulevard flyover, the Guadalupe Bridge, that pretty bridge in Mabalacat - among several other financial and technical assistance that they have provided. Personally, I have been a recipient of a scholarship from a Japanese corporation back in college, and I have been much grateful and have done my part in giving back.

That moment when I found myself in an elevator with former colonial masters was to me a coming full circle of me, my history education and present realities. The wheels of time have turned and the world has grown up.

There are important lessons that must never be forgotten, and there are definitely good times ahead for new-found buddies, amigos and tomodachis. Cheers!

Book Recommendations:
The Spanish War: An American Epic 1898
The Spanish-American War and Philippine Insurrection: 1898-1902 (Men-at-Arms)
150 Days of Hell (Japanese Invasion of the Philippines 8 Dec 1941 - 6 May 1942)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Memory and Forgetting: Neruda and Jose Rizal

Jose Rizal is well-regarded and much admired for the his mind's sharpness - for how else can one man be the master of many languages and be also a doctor, a carpenter, writer, scientist, artist or geographer? He can clearly originate thoughts, and he must also be expectedly of a brilliant memory.

Pablo Neruda said something striking about memory, that of love being short and forgetting being long. He said that in the very sad poem "Tonight I can write the saddest lines". Neruda's is right, of course, as emotion and memory are tight neighbors in our brain and as such always intertwined. That being the case, then a man like Rizal should obviously all the more have a hard time getting over memories of pain and of the circumstances around that pain. To me, it was probably that pain that shaped the man he is and the things that he would do for the country.

  • Rizal's sister Concepcion died at age 3. It is said that this affected Rizal so much, even saying that it was his first time to shed real tears of pain.
  • Rizal's mother was unjustly jailed in 1891, upon the persecution of the Spanish, something that greatly distressed Rizal.
  • Rizal lost his first love, Leonor Rivera, to the whims of Rivera's parents who wanted her married to an Englishman.
  • Rizal pined for Rivera when he was in Europe and also pined for the country that he so loved.

Because of these memories, Rizal became a compassionate but thought-ful man, and he translated his various pain to the creative benefit of his country - through his writings, through his medical practices, his contributions in various fields of study.

Rizal used his memory to populate his writings with stories of abuse and maltreatmeat under the Spanish - to shed light on Spanish activities; with stories of courage, pain and love by Filipinos - to show what Filipinos can do. He put them all in a book knowing that information will be better spread when in writing, and perhaps looking far ahead into the future that others may not forget the challenges that they in his time had confronted.

The issues in Rizal's time still crop up at present, even as we are no longer under any colonial power. Rizal stirs our memory, and through his books prays that we not forget the lessons of history. He had always been atributed the words that encourage one to examine one's past (origins) or else suffer the misfortune of not reaching one's future (destination).

I believe now that Rizal meant for this not just to refer to loving ones roots, not just simply knowing ones history, but putting this knowledge to good use, to letting it fire our bellies that we may all achieve our personal and collective goals, and most esp. our goals for the nation.

"I want to show to those who deprive people the right to love of country, that when we know how to sacrifice ourselves for our duties and convictions, death does not matter if one dies for those one loves – for his country and for others dear to him."
~ Dr. Jose P. Rizal

Book Recommendations:
El Filibusterismo (Penguin Classics)
Noli Me Tangere (Spanish Edition)
The Reign of Greed: Complete English Version of El Filibusterismo (Dodo Press)
The First Filipino, a Biography of José Rizal
Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair: Dual-Language Edition (Penguin Classics) (Spanish and English Edition)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Necessary Endings: Rizal, Divorce and Apple

Endings are a part of the process of life - be it in business and relationships. That's what the book Necessary Endings is all about.

By Author Dr. Henry Cloud
While reading the book, my mind was in parallel running thoughts or memories of situations - be it in my life, business or in history- where to put something to a close had become necessary. Such events always come, and always not too obvious. Often our vision is blinded by emotions, by fear, by attachment, by disbelief. It is always after the fact when the clarity of their wisdom becomes more apparent. While the subject of endings seems innocuous enough, or hardly the subject matter fit for a full-fledged book - one will be thankful that author Dr. Henry Cloud had the reflectiveness to think it worthy of a treatise.
According to Dr. Cloud, endings are as much a part of life as beginnings are. And it's precisely so that beginnings could happen that we should allow for certain things to end. To resist to end things that are not working - is to be stuck.
Rizal and Necessary Endings
It being our national hero's 150th birthday, I remembered Jose Rizal, and how through his writings, he had advocated the end to Spanish rule in the Philippines. He believed in the Filipinos' capacity for self-determination; and while even then there were still no 'Filipinos' - still no real Filipino nation to speak of - Rizal knew that given the opportunity, we will find our own identity and make a great nation for ourselves. Of course, the Spanish, stinged by Rizal's novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, wanted to put an end to Rizal - literally. To them, that was necessary, to silence the growing clamor for independence among Filipinos, and to continue the Spanish reign in the country, starting with the pesky but undoubtedly brilliant Rizal.

Rizal's execution in Bagumbayan
Rizal was shot in Bagumbayan by the Spanish in December 30, 1896. To the Spanish, Rizal's death was the fitting, deserved and necessary ending. To the Filipinos, it was only the start to the necessary and inevitable demise of Spanish rule.
The ability to spot necessary endings is a skill to be learned; an important one because it determines the velocity of our personal, professional and national growth. It determines how fast we move from one bad relationship to the better relationship (personal and professional), from one bad business to the business that actually makes it worth your while, from one bad product to the product that conquers the world.
Apple, Steve Jobs and Saying NO
In the world of Apple and Steve Jobs, the ability to say no to one product is one of their key success secrets. Steve Jobs is a genius of a man, but before the world even got to see the first Ipod, Iphone or Ipad, they have had several iterations of the same product, and they had learned to let go of versions even at so late in the game, even at a cost of millions, in order to move in another direction which they feel is the worthy path to take. That the Ipod, Iphone or Ipad have experienced tremendous success is an argument to the worthiness of the process that Apple and Steve Jobs have taken.

Steve Jobs and his Apple toys
Divorce and Happy Endings
With divorce cropping up in the national psyche as another divisive issue, and reading Necessary Endings, I am further provided an argument for why divorce must be legalized. Coming from the paradigm of 'endings and beginnings as a part of life', truly marriages must also not be immune from that fact of life. Bad marriages must have a way out; bad relationships must be given a chance to end and start fresh. It is not about being pessimistic about relationships, it is about being humane, and being realistic. Undoubtedly, some people, however much they claim to love each other, are better off apart than together. Everybody deserves a happy ending, and if it takes letting go of bad choices, then we who are capable of choice must have the freedom to make it.
When we desire a different outcome - in our life, career, relationships, and business - we must learn to let go of the things and circumstances that generated the undesirable situation in the first place. The letting go, the letting it end, the MAKING it end - are necessary to the change we desire, to the new beginnings we look forward to.

“What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.”
 (Richard Bach; Author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull)

Recommended Books:
Necessary Endings: The Employees, Businesses, and Relationships That All of Us Have to Give Up in Order to Move Forward
Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not)
El Filibusterismo: Subversion: A Sequel to Noli Me Tangere
Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Golf and Loving It: 5 Reasons To Give It A Try

Imagine a stick, a small multi-dimpled ball, a couple of holes in the ground and manicured grass. Who could have thought there was some fun to be made of it? That fun has come to be called the game of golf.

I knew some of the jargon from the game, having played it in the days of the Family Computer, but the first time I ever played a real game of golf (i.e., in a fairway) was last April 2011. I never thought I'd like it as much as I did, and I enjoyed it tremendously that in the middle of half an 18-hole game I was already looking forward to my next. (I couldn't wait to redeem myself already!)

Why I am blogging about golf, why did I enjoy it so much, and why do I think you too should give it a try? The short answer is that I had some surprising unexpected realizations about it. Here they are in a top 5 list: (You know you like it in lists!)

1. It's actually fun to play it with friends.
And especially if you are playing for the first time, you had better play it with friends. Because you're gonna suck! And there's nothing like the laughter and jeers from friends to help you laugh at yourself as well, and remind you not to take the game too seriously. Otherwise, you'll go crazy.

Golf and Loving It: At the fairway with 'golf buddies' Jerome and Gleniel. :)
2. The view is beautiful and the green is relaxing.
Most golf courses are built around pretty nice views, like in the Baguio Country Club where I had my first game. Walking in the green, taking in the view, and seeing those golf balls zooming in the vastness of grassland - it's just really breathtaking. (An extra treat is if you're playing in Baguio where the climate is cooler.)
It is said that of all the colors, green is the most relaxing - so there's a reason why God made vegetation green. And because golf courses are green everywhere - I can see now why people find playing golf stress-relieving.
N.B. The proliferation of golf courses has some environmental implications. I mention it so you know I am not oblivious to those issues. Can we tackle that another time and just keep this a happy post? :) Thanks!

3. It teaches you about yourself.
Like in any game or sport, the game of golf too is one helluva personality test. If you observe your self enough, it can tell you much about that person you see in the mirror: how you take challenges, how you handle pressure - or defeat, how you live your life.
Lack focus? Golf can help. Hard on yourself? Golf can show you that you are if you haven't realized it yet. A perfectionist? Well, stay clear of golf or it will consume you. Or then again, perfectionism can help to your advantage.
While golf is best played with company (see #1), golf is pretty much a solitary game. You really play against yourself. Much of the battle is mental, much of the rewards is psychological. (In the case of Tiger Woods, a lot of economic rewards too.) To play golf, you had better like yourself a lot. Otherwise, you might hit someone with a club if your ball goes in the bunker. Or you might throw yourself at the lake. Just kidding.

4. It clears your thoughts and helps you think.
It's probably because of the surroundings being green and relaxing, and also because the course itself is so vast there is much space for your thoughts to wander or to stare into. While trying to hold the golf clubs right, trying to give the balls a perfect hit, trying to calculate how far in the distance you want your ball to go, or walking unhurriedly in the green from one hole to another - all are opportunities to think of something you're trying to figure out, or opportunities to clear your thoughts, or opportunities for new ideas to come in. And it's all effortless because the clarity just suddenly happens.

5. It's something new.
And it was in that spirit that I gave the game a try.

And I was glad I did, because from this blog post, you can tell I learned a lot from the game. In the middle of the game I was already telling myself it was something worthy of blogging about. How I did in the game was nothing to brag about - I made sure the caddie was tipped well enough to hold his peace, hehe.

But the experience - that's what it's about. This piece isn't so much about getting you to play golf as it is about encouraging you to try something new - whatever that may be.

There are always gems to be had of new experiences. Find yours. :)

Book Recommendations:
Fifty Places to Play Golf Before You Die: Golf Experts Share the World's Greatest Destinations
Zen Golf: Mastering the Mental Game
Golf My Way: The Instructional Classic, Revised and Updated