Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Story Factor

How can you highlight the importance of telling stories ? "Well ... by telling stories !" says Annette.

This book not only tells you "Why stories are important", but also tells you "How you can use them". There are enough stories in this book to sustain your interest. I bet, it will be hard for you to gobble through the material. Take time to read the material to assimilate the wealth of information.

Will this book make you an overnight story teller? NO. Will this book put you on the right path towards improving your story telling skills? YES. The author persuades you to use stories to get the attention of audience. However, storytelling is an art. You'll need lots of practice to master it.

Author's website: http://www.annettesimmons.com/

Getting Past No

What would you do if you face a big NO during negotiation? This book trains you well to handle such challenges. The techniques are very practical. I felt that this book is lot more better than the hypothetical Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In

The author teaches 5 simple negotiation techniques - Get perspective of the situation by 'going to the balcony', step to the adversary's side, re-frame adversary's thoughts and beliefs, build them a golden bridge. If any of the above 4 techniques don't help you - use power to educate your adversaries. The author has cautiously avoided using the word 'adversary'. He recommends everyone to take a 'co-operative' approach and not a 'manipulative' approach.

If there is one thing that is more important than any of the suggested techniques - it is PREPARATION. "The best place to make mistakes is in rehearsing with a friend or colleague, not in negotiating for real". This echoes Jim Champ's "Practice sessions provide you an environment to fail safely" theory.

The importance of having a BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement) is re-enforced in this book. Overall, this is a very good book to read to improve your negotiation skills.

Author's website: http://www.williamury.com/

Monday, March 3, 2008

The 48 Laws of Power

Do you think that you are not getting the credit for your work? Did you ever feel left out in discussions or meetings? Do you find it hard to create dependency? Were you curious how some of your colleagues move up in the ladder fast? Well, this book is just for you.

The author clearly defines the "48 laws" that can help you in gaining power. The author not only talks about situations where you can apply these 'techniques' but also warns you of situations where you shouldn't. The references from history was kind of too much and was going above my head.

These techniques will serve as an armor, if your work environment expects you to play politics. If you don't play them right, some of these ploys may also bring you down from power.

This material is a good source of techniques to be aware of. It will help especially when people try to play these tricks on you.

Author's website:  http://robertgreene.net/

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Troop Surge in Iraq


AC - Speeches by Management (Project V)
Confrontation - The Adversary Relationship
February 29, 2008
Introduction
Good evening fellow citizens and dear guests,
It is 6 years since the terrorists attacked our nation. But, the pictures of planes crashing into buildings, huge structures collapsing are still fresh in our mind and in our heart. Word Trade Center, the pride of America, was shattered into pieces right in front of our eyes. Around 3000 innocent Americans were killed
Our government responded to the terrorists' call by sending our troops to Iraq - to capture the enemy, to destroy the terrorist hideouts, and to establish peace. The last 5 years, were the most challenging. But, we, the people of America believed in victory and were united through the tough times.
We made a tremendous progress in Iraq in the last few years. We captured and executed Saddam Hussein, we established a democratic government, we trained the Iraqi soldiers, and we improved the quality of education and healthcare. But, we still have some unfinished job in Iraq.
Our enemies are continuing to find creative ways to launch their attacks against innocent people. And it is our responsibility and duty to respond back to that. Today, I am standing in front of you, to share my proposal to strengthen our strategy towards Iraq by increasing the troops.
Proposal
Our past efforts to secure Baghdad failed because there were not enough troops to secure neighborhoods that had been cleared of terrorists. When our forces moved on to other targets, the killers returned.
Our national security team, military commanders, and diplomats conducted a comprehensive review of the situation and proposed to increase the troops by 12,000. Today, there are 158,000 American soldiers in Iraq and this count will become 170,000 by the end of this year. The troop surge will be done in a phased manner in the next 10 months.
Our troops in Iraq have fought bravely day and night. They have done everything we have asked them to do. It is our responsibility to support them and save them from harm's way. This proposal would increase our spending towards the war by $20 billion every year. This troop surge and increased spending will definitely help our men and women in Iraqi soil.
Some of you may have this question - "When will our troops come back home"? I assure them that the day is not very far. With the surge in troops, we'll be able to finish our job and bring our troops back, faster.
Our troops have a well-defined mission: to help Iraqis clear and secure neighborhoods, to help them protect the local population, and to help ensure that the Iraqi forces left behind are capable of providing the security that Baghdad needs.
Conclusion
I am hopeful and confident than ever that this strategy will lead us to the path to victory. There is "no magic formula for success in Iraq" but a failure in Iraq "would be a disaster for the United States".
Today, we are setting a new course to pass on a world without terrorism to our children and grand children.
Today, we are going to tell the world that Americans will remain united and fight against terrorism - NO MATTER WHAT!
Today, we are going to stand behind a proposal that can make America, safer than ever before.

War in Iraq


AC - Speeches by Management (Project IV)
The Status Report
February 8, 2008
Introduction
Imagine it is 4 am in the morning. You are in the middle of your deep sleep. A huge explosion wakes you up. You jump out of the bed in a hurry and go out of your home. You see debris everywhere. You see people drenched in blood ... crying out loud ... & running in fear. It is hard for you to believe what you see. You survived a bomb blast. Later that day, a few army men with hard hats & long rifles, knock your door, ask you to evacuate your home immediately and move to a different place or a refugee camp. This may sound very new to you. However, this is not very uncommon for an average citizen in Iraq since the war began in March 2003.
It is about 5 years since the war began. Do you know how many billions were spent? Do you know how many lives were lost? Do you know what progress was made?
Ladies & Gentlemen, fellow toastmasters ... today, I am going to give you a quick status of the WAR IN IRAQ.
Background
Let me start by giving you some background about the war.
The war in Iraq started when the US led coalition forces invaded the country in March 2003. US government claimed that Iraq is developing Weapons of Mass Destruction... weapons that can destroy the human lives ... weapons that can demolish man made structures... weapons that can destroy thousands of plants and animals. President Bush declared that Iraq is posing a huge threat to the security of United States and other nations. The coalition forces fought and took control of Baghdad. The defeat of Iraqi army led to the escape of Iraq's perpetual president, Saddam Hussein.
Several things happened since then, that led to a flurry of changes both within and outside Iraq. Today, I am going to give you some facts with respect to costs, casualties, politics, education and health.
Costs
President Bush has spent about $500 billions in the last 5 years towards Iraq war. The annual war spending is less than just 1% of our GDP. It is not a very huge amount for the nation. It is not going to affect the economy in any way. But the spending on war is starving other areas, like healthcare and education.
If the money that we spend in war is spent on education, we can have twice the number of elementary schools. Think about the impact of doubling the number of elementary schools. Your kids do not have to sit in a crowded classroom. Your kids will get more attention from their teachers. Your kids can learn more.
Do you know how much each of you in this room has paid for the war? $4,100. You could've bought 100 iPhones with that money.
Casualties
The war doesn't just cost money. It also costs several lives.
About 1 million Iraqi civilians are reported to be dead in the last 5 years. It is similar to taking a state like New Hampshire out of the US map.
US has lost about 4000 soldiers in the war. We are loosing an average of 2 soldiers every day in Iraq.
Have you ever thought about - how it would be to live in this world without your eyes or hands or legs? About 100,000 soldiers were injured or wounded heavily in one form or the other in the last 5 years. Imagine what would they do after returning back home. Yes... Government pays a lot of money to them. But, what can they do with the money - without being able to move around or without being able to see the world.
Politics
The war in Iraq has resulted in some good things also.
Iraq was freed from the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. Saddam was ruling the country for nearly 25 years. Saddam Hussein was captured in December 2003 and executed in December 2006 for the killings of 148 Shiite Muslims during his regime.
The nation was without a leader since Saddam's defeat in 2003. General elections were held in December 2005. Nouri al-Maliki was sworn in as the Prime Minister on May 2006. The newly formed government has not made any progress in improving the conditions in Iraq. United States supported the new government by sending more troops in 2007. However, there are still NO signs of peace.
The war in Iraq not only influenced the political situation within the country but also within United States. The war spurred mixed reactions in the homeland. US people felt that our army men are caught in the sectarian violence in Iraq. Bush was excessively criticized for the spending in Iraq war and for the loss of lives.
Bush's war policies have made Republicans to lose ground in the elections for the "House of Representatives". Democrats had a sweeping victory. There is a strong feeling among people that Democrats are going to win the Presidential race also.
Education & Health
U.N had lifted their economic sanctions when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1991. That had a very significant impact on the education system. Many children dropped out of the schools. In the last few years, UNICEF has renovated a number of schools. The school attendance has increased to 95%. All the children were also immunized. A number of hospitals were also renovated in the last 5 years. Overall health conditions are improving. Iraqi government & several non-profit organizations are working day and night to rebuild Iraq.
Conclusion
It has been 5 years since the war began. Some of the original motives of the war are not valid anymore. No Weapons of Mass Destruction found. Saddam was captured and executed. Democracy is restored.
We spent 500 billions. We lost 4000 army men. But, it is still hard to find answers to some of the lingering questions. When will the sectarian violence end? How much more is going to be spent? When are our troops going to return home?
The people in United States want the forces to be withdrawn, immediately. However, President Bush has pledged not to withdraw forces until victory. What is considered a "victory" in Iraq war? Well, Allah only knows ...