! Book Review (Brag! The Art of Tooting Your Own Without Blowing it)

Brag!: The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn without Blowing ItBrag!: The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn without Blowing It by Peggy Klaus
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love this book because its unconventional and direct way of delivering ideas. Its structures are clearly divided by points and followed by explanations. What’s more about it is that for me, this book really match with The Dip by Seth Godin. While The Dip intelligently describe how we can achieve our goals and going through the bad times with persistence, it somehow pass an important point of how can we enter into the road that leads to our goals. Brag! is all about leveraging your capability to enter the path of your dreams.

The book turns up side down the conventional notion of bragging and by calling “Bragging is an art” and pointing vital phenomenon that the 21 century workplace is no longer a safe and secure haven for anyone or any career because job security is virtually non existent.

The motto of this book is that if you don’t speak up yourself then who will? The idea lies in bringing out a new paradigm in which we are the product, nevertheless of where we work and how long we have already work, we are a product for employer. Therefore, the goal is for us to create the most valuable product that worth to be offered.

What I like about this book is the so called Myth of bragging. It really open up a whole new horizon about what bragging truly is. In the book it is presented 7 point on the Myth of bragging. Of all of those points, number 1 and 4 are what gets me excited about learning to brag because I have done exactly these myth and now that I know that, I can change.

1: a job well done speak for itself
2: i don’t have to brag people will do it for me.

What I don’t like about this book is the assumption that introvert is the same as shyness. Because bragging is not just for an extrovert, but for all. In fact, the best performers are often an introvert and as Malcolm Gladwell repeatedly remind us, performance and introversion could go along really well.

A last note about this book will be besides learning the art of bragging, it also gives a resourceful tips for those who struggle with performance review and and will help with tips for those who need to pass job interview.

Related Book:
The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to QuitSeth Godin

The Dip

The Dip (Photo credit: Wikipedia)






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To get to know about who is Peggy Klaus (The Author):


Ostfrieslad Tea : Exciting Volcano in tea ritual

People can have 7 reasons why they like tea. Those are Choice, Ritual, Health, Natural, Teacups and Saucers, Tea Party. For Ostfriesland Tea, I really missed this tea because its unique Ritual of drinking tea.

Ostfriesland in fact is a tea land. There are only a few places on earth where they drink so much tea. For the East Frisians, the tea ceremony is a holy thing. And they are masters of drinking tea: in Marienhafe, 3010 enjoyers with a 620 m long tea table slurped into the Guinness World Records Book. That is why people like and try to teach the guests in the tea land Ostfriesland how to prepare the tea in the right manner, during a tea seminar. There you can get the tea diploma, but only if you are able to answer the questions around the East Frisian tea.

– tea cups (decoration of „Ostfriesische Rose”, East Frisian rose)
– East Frisian tea spoon
– teapot warmer
– tea sieve or broom
– Rohmlepel (cream spoon)

– Soft water
– East Frisian tea (Thiele Tee, Bünting, Onno Behrens)
– Kluntje
– fresh skimmed off cream or fresh East Frisian tea cream

After the preparation, they have a special ways to drink the tea. They even have a so called ostfriesland tea rights in which at least you have to drink 3 cups of tea. An interesting things, as you can see in the video is the so called Schlag Sahne or cream that will create volcano inside the tea as the easfrisian called it.

Story of Scientific Management Guru: Back to the Roots of Scientific Management with Frederick Winslow Taylor

While his name is not known to most people, his impact on the 20th century was quite profound. He is Frederick Winslow Taylor, a management theorist that focus on the labor process. He is the backbone of today’s management by the use of science. His works started blooming in an era after companies have become more than a mere limited project, but unlimited by the boundary of time and that in this time, industrialization is on the move.

Companies were growing in scope and racing to reap the benefits of industrialization. They were so starving in harvesting benefits of industrialization. In that time, companies need much more labor than ever to be able to produce products that made possible by the industrialization.However, even labor is many, a fundamental problem is emerging that needs an answer, how do we get labor to work more to ensure maximum output?

His works begin with many writings in the theory of work that mainly focusing on  finding the way of controlling the motion of workers to obtain highest maximum output for what company pay for wages.

Even all that he has created  is not fully acceptable in todays modern era but many of his concepts become a root for current management practice. His controversial concept such as the concept of soldiering that workers didn’t work hard enough is totally rejected by lean thinking that fundamentally held a strong believe that worker is good and therefore most of error come from engineer or the architect of the system that most of the time have to put to blame.

Soldiering held a believe that in a majority of cases the man deliberately plant to do as little as he possibly can to turn out far less work than he is well able to do in may instances to do not more than 1/3 or 1/2 of a proper day’s work. ~ Taylor

Proper day’s work is a maximum level of output humanly possible or  a fair day’s work. when worker is not physically possible to reach this, he fired them. He argued that soldiering was possible because company management does not even know how much work can be extracted from workers. once to make a stubborn man who refuse to make any improvement to achieve this fair days work he cut his wages.

Industriearbeiter Giesserei // foundry industry employees

Taylor’s goal was to take knowledge work from the worker and put it in the hands of management to be used as control of workers. He himself called this method as Scientific Management. However, his method on full reliance solely on management let to the born of shopfloor expert which is industrial engineer. However, as people said that too much is never good, the role of management in shopfloor is too dominating that even in the development of work instruction, management get a majority of decision on the content and organization of it which is fundamentally different than now

But his famous real contribution besides of his many controversial concept is his management theories and the concept of time study.

There are many and different ways for come at doing the same things, there is always one method and one implement which is better than any of the rest. and this one best method and one best implement can only be discovered through a scientific study of an analysis of all the methods in use.

He stated that no job is to simple or to complex. In fact, in he has spent 26 years only for figuring out the best way to cut metal. but in other examples, many simple works can be rationalized as well.

Some of his wise words are never more appropriate now compare to at his time:

We can see our forest vanishing, our water-powers going to waste.. the end of our coal and iron is in sight. But the larger waste of human effort, which go on everyday through such of our acts as are blundering, ill-directed or inefficient are less-visible, less tangible and all but vaguely appreciated.. ~ Frederick Taylor


Where productivity comes from? Relation between Quality, Lean, Efficiency

From my last post about over months ago, we have grasped the idea and underlying concept of Lean. That the divine purpose of Lean is to give value to customer. Lean means providing value to customer.

5 principles of Lean

In previous post also, we know that there are fundamentally 5 Principles of Lean which are:

  1. Specify value for the customer
  2. Integrate Value Stream
  3. Create Flow
  4. Pull from the customer
  5. Aim for perfection

Looking deeply between the initial definition and the 5 principles of Lean. It seems logically correct that providing value to customer is indeed will be achieved through all the 5 principles of Lean. However, this indeed is also a deception for many.

Not that I say those principles are useless, on the other hand, people has to know those principles by heart. Despite of that, in my opinion, 5 Principles of Lean are not comprehensive enough in serving higher purpose of providing value to customer because it somehow lacks of comprehensiveness. If we look at those all 5 principles and pondering on those points, we can have assumptions that Lean is all about efficient of operations to provide value by means of faster, responsive and flexible operation by implementing integrated value stream, flow, pull and then aim for perfection.

Java Printing

These points have failed to serve the true comprehensive definition of lean which is providing value to customer because it simply do not pay attention to “quality” matter. In fact, none of the 5 principles seems to talk about quality (poka yoke, inspection, culture of quality).  This had led many to miss-understanding that lean is just efficiency (value stream, flow, pull). Lean comprise efficiency indeed, but not only that. It is also quality and all that is required to bring value to customers.

Because as we come back to the true definition of lean that is providing value to customer, we realize that Lean defintion is larger than 5 principles of lean itself.


That ambiguous translation from basic definition of Lean into the principles of Lean, make a miss-conception about achieving Lean in relation with improvement culture. Improvement has twofold and people have always been mistaken when talk about improvement. Lean improvement as perceived by most people as working toward a more efficient operations is preferable in most case because it gives a sense of boost to ongoing operations and increasing productivity. On the other hand,   quality improvement sometimes not as popular because for many it just don’t seems boost their production quota. So, they tend to prefer efficient improvement compare to quality improvement.

People has mistakenly grasped the concept of improvement that they tend to associate improvement to efficiency because by and far, it will boost productivity quickly. This is bad in a long term because quality is stronger and has a bigger impact in a sense that on the long term, focus on quality improving productivity and increasing quality. Both quality and efficiency however have similarity in the need to specify customer value and strive for perfection.


Sometimes we deeply understand about the need for efficiency improvement because it directly impact our output in short term. But those who forget to deal with improving quality is in the long term will be definite loser because while you neglect quality, others not. They improve productivity through both quality (inspection, poka yoke devices) and efficiency (integrate value stream, flow, pull)  improvements of operations which give them a twofold advantage to their productivity increase compare to those who only care about increasing efficiency.

So, I want to again stress that the 5 principles of Lean is in fact very important to remember. But one shall never forget the in-comprehensiveness of the principles and that the fundamental definition of lean is always comes first.

Lean is providing value to the customers.


What else increases productivity : Brain Tweaking!

I could  agree when the crowd mainstream shout for so long that psychology is a degree that apparently not so useful in the job market. Just take a look at yahoo answersocial anxiety forum, until student awards. Most of the graduates indeed found their job have a little or no relation at all to the degree they obtained. Psychology even included in 20 most useless degrees in a famous blog the Daily Beast.

Actor businesswoman express sadness isolated in white

People who don’t intend on becoming Psychologists or working in the field as a mental health professional shouldn’t pursue degree’s in Psychology.

Somehow, I felt that the quote above is right to the point and contain a bitter pain fact that should be accepted by those who hold first degree in psychology. However, I always captivated to watch an expert in psychology shows their understanding and ability to understand human.

When psychology combined with TED Talks, it’s exactly my guilty pleasure. Who wouldn’t like to watch TED with all the inspiring persons talk about how we can actually improve our self, our community, and even not surprisingly our world. This week, I came across a video which lighten up my mind and open my view into another eye opening fact about increasing productivity through the use of Neuropsychology.

Improving your brain means everything in your life start from your body, to your money, your relationships, to the level of innovation.

Daniel Amen, a psychologist gave a TEDx Talk about what impact a healthy brain has on innovation that human produced. He revealed a study about brain using a sophisticated brain scan study that looks at brain blood flow and activity pattern to figure out at how brain is working and what it can bring to human productivity.

His thesis is simple that healthy brain makes us happier, wealthier, wiser, more creative, more innovative whereas unhealthy brain will bring sadder, sicker, poorer, not as smart, rigid and inflexibility to us.

We can accelerate the aging process with our behavior and you can decelerate it. It works the same with innovation. ~ Daniel Amen

What is interesting about his talk is that he presented about some activity that could lead to unproductivity. I was so amazed when I saw the video because not only he mentioned the kind of activities, but also the reason why. It turns out that obesity damage brain function in a way that as the weight goes up, the actual physical size and function of our brain goes down. Additionally, smoking and high blood pressure also very important to monitor. High pressure causing low flow blood to brain and smoking cause upnormal blood flow.

Exellent idea, kid with illustrated bulb above his head

Below, is the quick summary from Daniel Amen talks about what kind of activities we should have to enhance productivity by means of making our brain healthier.



These powerful recipe will guide us to a more effective journey toward gaining more productivity. In fact, I started to apply some of the techniques given by his TEDx Talks and in the near future I will let all of you fellow travelers know about my journey on this one.


Tea and Productivity

Several days ago, I walked down to city center on Saturday morning to get myself a little exercise in the weekend. When I walk, I like to pick new routes, so besides exercising, I could get a totally new refreshing perspective of the neighborhood where I cross. This time, I went through some roads and alleys that I have never had gone through before and in the middle of my walk, a store window caught my attention.

Through the store window, I could saw many kinds of teapots displayed behind the window. From outside the store, I could look into the store these big tubes contained tea leaves. My curiosity made me to enter the store to just find what this interesting store could offer me.

The Tea Palace

I entered the store and it is so wonderful that I really felt like I am in a library of tea. The store called Le Palais des Thes. First of all, when you entered, there will be various tea leaves that were ready to be smelled (you choose tea by smelling it!). These tea that come from China, Japan, Afrika, India and this is in fact only a glimpse of what this store could offered. Further back of the store, they have a whole lot many tea leaves, teapots and books about tea. Just what a person need to travel the world of tea.

From visiting this store, I could understand more about tea and decided to bring two distinct tea types from Afrika. From it, I also know that tea is beyond what traditionally be a medicine to increase condition of our health. For me, I mainly drink tea because it is refreshing in non-destructive way. The interesting part that lends itself to an increase in productivity is that compare to coffee, tea has more benefits.

Asian couple having coffee on home porch

First of all, I want to once again correct the assumption that caffeine in tea or coffee will help us during our work to be more productive by increasing alertness.

Peter Rogers, professor of biological psychology at the University of Bristol, after years of studying caffeine, he sees no evidence to suggest that it improves mental alertness.

However, if we know the right time to drink tea or coffee, a good effect will be obtained.

Professor Andy Smith, an expert in occupational health psychology at Cardiff University said that Caffeine is rightly prized by workers for combating fatigue, with a 2002 study of US Navy Seals showing the drug’s ability to override severe sleep deprivation. What caffeine does is to get you back on form. “We use the term ‘restoration of function’. The effect of caffeine is to restore your function closer to normal,” he says.

Therefore, caffeine can still has contribution to our performance to help us when we have fatigue at work. Additionally, hot beverages have numerous advantages. Here is some facts about contribution of Hot beverage in our workplace whether it is office work or home office.

  • 61% of employees feel that their employees cares about their well-being if they provide good hot beverage options such as in office coffee and tea.
  • 43% reported experiencing a positive effect on their work productivity.
  • 90% of decision makers and 85% of employees believe that quality coffee and tea can contribute to increased productivity and morale.

Both tea and coffee are a complex drinks. However, Tea could give better contribution in many ways.

First of all, tea contains Theanine, which researchers argue has a relaxing effect and has been shown to reduce blood pressure. Secondly, Randy Murray blog in his article “Simple Productivity Task of The Day:Make A cup of Tea” really point out a benefit of tea psychologically. He ’ve found that the process of making tea is also soothing and ritualistic, which is good for helping him slow down and regain focus. To learn simple ritual of creating tea in your office your could see it below.

Just This from Dave Caolo on Vimeo.

Additionally, you can better awake when you drink a cup tea compare to drink a cup of coffee . Yes! It seems not true because every time we drink coffee we can get the effect of waking up instantly right? It is apparently true that coffee will give you more instant effect. However, it turns out that drinking tea will give us longer wake up time because the way caffeine works in tea is different than coffee. When drinking tea, caffeine inside the tea will slowly be absorbed by our body and this will lead to long consumption of caffeine for our body which will keep us awake for quite a longtime.

Hence, those three (3) simple benefits that I tried to highlight (reduce blood pressure, psychologically soothing due to it’s ritualistic nature and better works of caffeine) will give more than enough  for you incorporate tea to your daily productivity agenda.


Supermarket Stocktaking, Happiness in Working and a Lesson of Variation

I am considered myself as a kind of person who is so interested on listening more than speaking. For me, being able to listen to ideas, a glimpse of someone else’s life experiences or a feeling of someone about something is so inspiring. I can learn from the story and get an idea of things that I had not realize before because I just never thought it would be possible, never experienced it myself, or simply didn’t know that such a thing could exist. By listening more, I can open myself to the presumption world that I previously held  to a new perception of the world as I listen to the story of people around me.

This post is referring to my comment on my dialogue with one of my friends. He has an interesting experience in which I had not any experience on  being employed in the type of industry he was in. It was all begin in a totally normal day. After lunch, we had a normal afternoon chat that suddenly led to a story of his previous employment in Supermarket Industry. Due to my curiosity, I started to ask probing questions that led him to tell his own experience working in a supermarket with a role as an assistant store manager with most activities that deal with audits.

What caught my attention was when he talked about his experience in stock taking procedure and penalty that he did in his time (and I believe still many also have the same principles even until this time). He told me that in his company, stock deviation from the ideal value of difference between beginning of month and end of the month in comparison with actual reality value of difference between beginning of month and end of the month difference will be assigned to store employees. It means that, if beginning of month stock minus sold product in that month ( which this become ideal end of month stock) is not the same as actual counting at the end of month stock, then the difference between ideal and actual counting in the form of amount of money will be paid together by employees from their salary to substitute lost products .

When he told this, I quickly recalled a wise words from Dr.Deming. Then, I found the exact same story that happen in Deming’s book titled “Out of The Crisis” in 1982. Deming has already elaborated what is wrong with this kind of system setup and why management not only in manufacturing industry but in all industry, even government, education, and any systems that has management on top of it has to learn the knowledge of variation.

Stock counting at the end of the month, if deviated from the ideal amount, can cause from many factors. the accuracy of inventory system, security of store from thieves, logistics in store, and still many other factors. It is indeed easy to directly attributing lost of stocks to employees for replacing the money that lost with the assumption that all lost rooted in the negligence of employees to prevent it from lost without looking into details about the root cause. However, by doing this, it is also easy to get trap into a bad system where everyone is dissatisfied, work is stressful, and at the end surviving will be impossible if not very difficult without sacrificing employees.

Actor businesswoman express sadness isolated in white

Imagine a staff that start to work in a company with a good pride. He and the company both have an expectation on both sides. The employee starts with a willingness to contribute to the company maybe even thinking that this company that he will start to work will be even better, fun and fulfilling. It is also the same good expectation that come from the company that hired this employee, because after all resources available in company’s labor pool has been filtered, this man has the best fit with the company to help reaching for the company’s goal. The new employee is ready to grow with the company and contributing the best effort possible. Isn’t that exactly what we feel when we want to start working in a new company? Excited! Happy! Want to prove ourselves! and having better a time? Sadly, this man so shocked to find the fact that even though he begin his job by working as hard as he can with the will of contributing his maximum effort and with their own heart and soul trying to be nice to every customers coming to the shop, he finds himself at the end of the month getting paid with less salary than promised and that they ought to receive it due to stocks lost that they don’t have any ideas at all of  how it could be lost, why they have to be the one who take the risk of something they just don’t have any idea about, and the fact that he cannot improve or doing anything about it.

Drawing from the world of manufacturing, this could be seen as assigning defect of products to the workers that works in assembly line. Whenever there are defects, put the blame on workers with the reason that workers are the one who actually works assembling all parts into a product. This obsolete philosophy have proven to be a downfall of manufacturing industries before Japan could set the pace again and followed by a reparation to systems of managing manufacturing in other countries and companies.

People in management should as Deming urge long time ago and yet still valid, realize that there are two types of variation (natural/normal variation and assignable/special variation) Classifying defects in case of lost product in supermarket into these two kinds of variation classification will give us more insights. If a defect/lost product happen, manager should be able to determine if this will attributable to workers/store employees or to system that managed by management. The action directly blaming workers for a system problem then is not a wise act of management because normal variation and special variation should be handled in different ways. .To learn more about differentiating this, I would suggest reading “Out of The Crisis” or “The New Economics” by Deming.

Young business woman presenting colorful charts and diagrams

As we came to know that those defects or lost of products are caused by system, then improvement to a system could reduce the lost of product. In relation with supermarket system, let’s take one defect example of lost product. Previous assumption is that employees should watch closely everyone on the store so that no product is lost, but employees indeed can be forget or not paying attention to someone stealing because fatigue which so normal. What is not normal is to assign tasks that obviously normal people with normal capability cannot do and give them penalty for it.  In fact, lost product happen also because the environment provided thieves to steal some products despite of the hardworking that employees have done in preventing it. This environment setup is management job. A system should be setup by management to prevent lost from happening by creating a better environment for employees to work and a better system to prevent lost of products. Usual flow is that mistakes that management makes is attributed that should be management responsibilities (system design and improvement) are all assigned to employees.