What My Reading List is Telling Me: TRUST

Of the books I read the past two months, here are five I highly recommend:

1. Last Man Standing by Duff McDonald
More than a business book, this is a leadership book. It’s the story of Jamie Dimon, CEO & Chairman of JP Morgan Chase, chronicling his rise from being Sandy Weil’s partner in building the giant Citigroup, being fired by his mentor, making an amazing comeback, and in many ways helping stabilize the financial situation in America (and the world). 
Some key lessons:
The importance of preparing for succession – Sandy Weil was legendary. He had built the biggest financial institution in the world, Citigroup, but his ego, his inability to let go, and prepare a brash, intense, but hard working and highly talented Jamie Dimon, prevented him from having the “best banker” as his successor. That also cost his company billions on losses while JP Morgan, under Dimon’s leadership, stood out.
Principles are a solid foundation – The book described Dimon as a highly principled individual who made principled, sometimes unpopular, but ultimately defining choices that put him in a better spot than most when things got tough.
2. Permission Marketing by Seth Godin
This, at least to me, is Seth Godin’s best book. It’s an old book but still very relevant. It’s a classic. 
Key Lesson:
It’s still about trust – With so many products being offered, so many causes being promoted, so many faiths, so many movements, so many choices, and options, and variations, how does one stand out? By earning trust. It’s a slow process but it’s the one that brings results.
3. Satisfaction by Chris Denove and JD Power IV
I’m reading this again. This time with a highlighter. This book talks about meeting expectations – not your expectations – but the expectations your customers.
Key lesson:
Taken from the foreword: ” Good is not good enough when better is expected.”
I realized this when I had made a short payment to my creditor bank. No matter how much I explained the situation, no matter how rosy my projections of tomorrow, no matter how hard I had worked, and it didn’t matter that I had given them all I had – it didn’t matter – I had paid short. I had missed expectations. This was quickly solved when I was somehow able to give the full amount. 
And it’s the same way with our customers, audience, staff, followers, members, whatever, if we promote a certain standard, we create certain expectations, and it’s our duty to meet these expectations.
4. The End of Christianity by William A. Dembski
Thought provoking book written by a very intelligent writer, mathematician, and theologian all rolled into one. I’m not too big a fan of self-help (or God-help?) Christian books that mostly like to talk about how “I” can be successful, or how “I” will become great, or how “I” will become rich, or other ways for the “I” to rise up. As if the point of Christianity is “ME” and that having no problems, no worries, and no shortages are a sign of being blessed. Living in the real world, with so much poverty, so much disease, and hurt, and brokenness, I am reminded over and over agan that there are problems, I do worry, and I do lack – BUT I’m still blessed not because “I” can rise up but because greater is He that is in me. And this is what I like about this book. It takes me back to God’s greatness and the greatness of His plan, which is more than meeting our worldly standard of what a good life is, but really the end (result) of Christianity is “the radical realignment of our thinking so that we see God’s goodness in creation despite the  distorting effects of sin in our hearts and evil in the world.”
5. Viral Loop by Adam L. Penenberg
Another old book but still worth reading, Viral Loop tells stories of the growth of some of the most amazing innovations today including Facebook and Twitter. The book talks about the word “viral” a lot or the idea of a virus that almost seems to spread itself, reinforcing itself in networks and creating positive feedback loops, and the end result is an explosion. 
Key Lesson:
It starts with a great product – No matter how great your infrastructure for a virally implemented strategy, if you don’t have a compelling product, as judged by your customers, not you, you’ll never have a successful viral loop.
The common denominator: TRUST
Whether you’re selling a product, raising funds for a foundation, or for yourself, or selling a home or insurance, or a car, or a clothes, or mentoring, or teaching, or preaching, or whatever, what you’re doing is you’re building or breaking trust. And we can find the best excuse, even valid ones, but at the end of the day we don’t decide whether we deserve someone’s trust, they do. If people aren’t buying our brands, or products, or services, or teaching, or ideas, it only means we haven’t earned their trust enough OR what we’re offering isn’t trustworthy.
My dad likes to say that TRUST is the foundation of relationship. And it’s important that we have a trust-worthy foundation. The financial world crashed on credit trouble. The word credit comes from the word credere or “to believe”. The financial world crashed because people stopped believing. They stopped trusting in the system and a lot of the wealth was revealed for what it was: vapor.
Churches become irrelevant because people stop believing – usually not in God right away, but in the representation of His people. 
When people stop believing – stop trusting – the show starts to end. Sadly, sometimes it’s an unbreakable trust barrier that keeps us from some of the most rewarding things. Such as a broken relationship with a spouse or a parent, or even with God.
The good news is trust can be earned, and if lost, it can be regained (though it’s more difficult). But there’s an element of time in trust, so the earlier you start building the better off you’ll be.

Brothers Bonifacio – Valentines Day

A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.
– Don Vito Corleone to Johnny Fontane, from The Godfather

L.O.V.E, it’s a mystery
Where you’ll find me, where you’ll find
All is Love, is love, is love, is love
– Karen O, All is Love from Where the Wild Things Are

Valentine’s Day
Contrary to what people might think, I actually like Valentine’s day. Growing up, my ever thoughtful mom used to put heart-shaped patterned goodie bags filled with heart-shaped chocolates, heart-shaped gummies, and other heart, cupid, rose, or some similar Valentine’s-cliche-shaped sweet. My brothers and I already had the best lunch boxes, we each had one cooler (Yes, a cooler.) of Ritz Bits, mini Chips Ahoy, some fruit leather (Which I used to refer to as Fruit of the Loom until I saw the underwear. You can’t chew on those, well, you can, but you’d look like an idiot.), milk in a pack (Of course we had to have milk.), granola bars, and on Valentine’s Day our treasure chest turned into a personal ADHD resource.

As if we weren’t hyper enough.

Valentine’s has changed for us now that we are older, such as Joe’s traditional car stalling when Carla and he celebrate Valentine’s. I think Tammy the Tamaraw is jealous that she no longer gets Joe’s undivided attention. I think it started changing for me the first time I gave a bunch of roses to a girl. I got the colors all wrong and gave her white ones because I wanted mine to stand out. Now I know that tradition matters more than color – so stick to red. But I’m sure she liked them anyway. Because she told me she liked me like crazy.

Or did she say she was crazy for liking me?

I forget.

It doesn’t matter. Everyone who likes anyone like crazy is crazy for liking anyone like crazy. If you found that confusing, well, so did I. But that’s part of the fun.

My parents seem to have warmed-up to our bringing females to meet the family, especially with Carla and Kristie around. At one of our recent dinners, my dad had reserved the seat next to him for Carla, for his new daughter, so that he could tell her to start calling her pop. He’s sentimental that way. Which is also why he watches Joe’s wedding video for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

It wasn’t always this way. I remember on one of my birthdays, my mom gave me a copy of Joshua Harris’ book I Kiss Dating Goodbye. I gave it away the next day. Christmas that year she gave me another copy. What kind of sadistic mom gives a book like that for Christmas??? I think I used that copy to build a camp fire or something. She then gave me a third copy on my birthday the next year with terrible acting, “Oh have I given you a copy of this?” “Um.. YEAH… for the past three disappointing gift occasions.” With me, they always had this idea that I only went out with females solely because of their looks. Which was absurd. All of them, and they’re not as many as my brothers make them out to be, were attractive, interesting, and incredible in their own different way. But I wouldn’t recommend my path to anyone, in fact, after witnessing Joe’s wedding, I’d suggest you emulate him, not so much so that you’ll bag an actress, but so that we’ll see how God works when we let Him. Ok I shouldn’t use the word “bag”, but you get the point. Besides, I prefer someone low-key and away from the limelight so that I don’t have to worry about getting photographed while I’m picking my nose or losing my temper on the tennis court.

February 14, 2010
Earlier today, the family, which is pop and mom, Joe, Josh, and their better halves, Carla and Kristie, and I got together for a home made Valentine’s lunch. Not to be undone, I invited my own friend from Japan who is also into sailing. I only realized later on that he was the same friend I brought to Christmas dinner when my mom mentioned it. Which prompted Josh to say:

“So, David. Are you trying to tell us something? Are you introducing him to the family?”

My brother is insane, and my other seemingly angelic but also quite as crazy older brother and he decided to pick on the remaining single brother by playing a twist to a family favorite game called What Would You Rather. This one is called David, Who Would You Rather End Up With.

Brothers: David, who would you rather end up with… K or I?
David: I don’t know them both.
Brothers: Just based on looks.
David: I don’t know how they look.
Mom: You don’t? K has nice legs.
David: Yikes mom…
Mom: Here. (Showing me a picture of K on her computer)
David: It’s blurry. I can’t see the detail. I like detail.
Mom: You like detail? Here. She has a nice necklace.
David: Like that matters when you’re married… More like, does she like classical music?
Brothers: Like THAT matters…

Brothers: C or H?
David: C.
Brothers: Woohoo!

Brothers: What about C or P?
David: Definitely P.
Brothers: What happened to C?
David: P is hotter.
Brothers: Woohoo!

Brothers: P or R?
David: R by far.
Brothers: Nice to know you still have some substance left.

Brothers: P or P?
David: P. Like I said earlier, she’s hotter.
Brothers: There goes the substance.

So the game went on. F or Y? C or T? P or Z? A or double X? Actress or business woman? Chef or athlete? Musician or writer? Old or older? (Note: The letters I put are random. They do not correspond to anyone specifically. Well, they do, but not logically but by chance.)

All this talk got me thinking, “Who is someone I can’t live without?” It didn’t take long for me to realize. Because if you were to ask me if I would rather be doing anything else, I would tell you no. I can’t think of anything I enjoy more than being with my family – even if I am the seventh wheel, and even if it means enduring another round of Who Would You Rather.

It’s always been clear, that having some-one to yourself doesn’t really matter when you’re surrounded by the ones who mean everything.

Besides, I’m saving up for a sailboat.

Flawed Heroes

The business of making a difference is not exclusive to the perfect – in fact, if you were to look closely at the people who have made some of the biggest contributions to humanity, you’d almost think it’s exclusive to the imperfect and to seriously flawed people – and you’d be right.