Category Archives: Personal Development

Ultimate Goal

To be highly successful and go through the rough times with resilience, you must have an ultimate goal. One that keeps you going, no matter what the obstacles are and what kind of pain you are going through. You will get through all these difficulties if you have a strong ultimate goal.

Then I am thinking…

What is my ultimate goal, really?

To be a good person? Have a comfortable life? Travel around the world? Get richer? Read more books? Enjoy good wines?

These are good simple goals, but all of them are very individualistic. In other words, I am a “taker” rather than a “giver” in each of these goals. Do not get me wrong—there is nothing wrong with these goals.

But are they enough?

What about giving, instead of only taking?

Giving is the real taking, since it gives both you and your counterpart pleasure.

When you help someone get a job that he feels strongly about, he gets happy. Not only him, you become happy too since you created value for someone and you feel useful.

In simple terms, the more lives you touch, the happier you become. To identify and stick with your ultimate goal will make the challenges you experience much easier and more bearable. You will be more resilient and strong.

So, I finally decided my ultimate goal.

Opportunity to access proper education is the key for a society not to be left behind, and to prosper and develop. Being British and Turkish, and planning to move to London in a couple of years, I would like to create a platform to make sure that all the 500,000 British Turks have proper access to education.

I will work hard to reach my ultimate goal! I am always happy to collaborate with people who share the same or similar goals, and I would be extremely happy to generate ideas and action plans to work together.

All the best from Singapore.
Sukru Haskan

Twitter: @sukru_haskan

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Value of Time

I would like to thank the many of you that suggested your book recommendations to establish my reading list for 2018. I am compiling all the emails right now and I will choose my 52 books from among them and publish the list in my blog during the next couple of weeks.

Recently, I have not been feeling well due to an allergic reaction that caused hives on my body and I had some days off sick, which enabled me to do a lot of thinking.

Image Credit: Street Artist Banksy

What is the most common valuable asset that we all have?

Many may say wealth, health or family, but actually it is time! Your allocation of time determines the importance of the rest.

All of us have some sort of time on this planet to accomplish our ambitions and desires. But it is not unlimited. It is like a ticking time bomb that will explode at some point.

We can use time to acquire or establish many things: wealth, family, business, etc. It all depends on the basis of our very personal choices!

Are these choices really our personal choices or are we manipulated to follow these choices?

Again it depends on how much you are aware of your surroundings and decisions. Many factors today are trying to control us. For instance, software/app designers are working very hard to steal our attention to spend as much time as possible on social media. Businesses try to make us as busy as possible so that we are unable to think, and do not live in the present time, but in the future, in the hope of distracting us. After applying all their attention to capturing new techniques, they also humbly (!) advise us to live in the present time by applying mindfulness.

What an irony!

TV ads and newspapers try to channel us to think in a standardized way!

As a result of all this, many people start going on a social media diet by deleting the most commonly used applications from their phones to make sure that their attention is channelled towards more useful resources, but most importantly to the resources that one really wants to give one’s attention to.

We have to take control of our time and make our own independent decisions.

After all, does wealth make you rich anymore?

What about time?

All the best from Singapore.

Sukru Haskan
Twitter: @sukru_haskan

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52 books in 2018

I am pledging to read 52 books in 2018 – in other words, one book per week.

I read, roughly speaking, books with an average of 350 pages, so I should read about 50 pages a day to accomplish this challenge.

I think it is quite doable, but I need your help.

Currently, I am trying to line up the books for 2018.

Please help me by sending your suggestions!

I would be interested in reading history, biography, economics, finance and psychology.

I will publish the list of the books for 2018 by the end of this year.

You can send your suggestions to my inbox: sukru_haskan@yahoo.co.uk

All the best.

Sukru Haskan

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Freedom and GRIT

How free are you really?

I have been thinking this question and its possible answers for quite some time now.

Even though many of us are walking around and thinking that we could potentially do whatever we like, we are not really as free as we like to think we are. In some cases, we are more like prisoners than actual prisoners are.

How come?

We are bound and restricted by many obstacles in our modern lives with commitments that we did not want to commit to or were forced to commit to, such as demands from our surroundings, daily jobs, huge corporations that supply us with modern necessities in the form of electricity, gas, mobile phones and, most importantly, ourselves; our ego.

A person’s ability to explore their own potential is getting more difficult nowadays because those of us with great potential are not really free. Our minds play the most important role in this equation since you could potentially ignore all obstacles and live however you like.

Easier said than done!

Unfortunately, freedom does not really dependent on one’s wealth either. It is the personal choices that makes us imprisoned and creating a meaningful way to escape from modern lives trap is the only way out that I can think of.

What is my conclusion?

Freedom creates happiness. Many of us are not happy since we are not free. Follow the way that scares you most since the seeded fear inside will guide you the right way; the way that many will say is the wrong one! Most importantly, try to simplify everything as much as possible. It is not easy to cut back on luxuries since we are all drugged up to a certain level and cutting back will create quite a lot of symptoms. Nevertheless, be strong and try!

I have recently read a great book by Angela Duckworth called GRIT. If you are not familiar with this term, GRIT means for persistence and perseverance in the long-term in order to achieve our goals.

Talent by itself is not enough to achieve success in our lives. You need to be persistent and consistent for some time to overcome obstacles and achieve your goals!

I personally really liked the book and it opened up my mind to understand why running without a specific goal every day is not good enough. There has to be a specific goal (a deliberate exercise) to improve your running skills each session so that the training gets more effective. More importantly, it has to be combined with your passion so that there is always that carrot stick in front of you when you are going through the pain!

Please take this short test to understand how GRITTY you are!

Grit Scale

Do not worry if you are on the left hand side of the GRIT scale; this can always be changed as soon as you change your MIND!

So where do we start? Please let me know…

Best from Singapore.

Sukru Haskan

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Lecturing in Hong Kong

I was honoured to co-lecture with Eric Sim, an investment banker and an adjacent professor at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology last week.

Hong Kong Univesity of Science and Technology has a great campus located at Clear Water Bay Road which is half an hour drive from Central Hong Kong Island. It has a great view of couple of islands.

Not only its campus makes it great, but also HKUST ranks quite highly between its peer among the globe. It had been previously ranked Asia’s No.1 by the independent regional QS University Rankings: Asia for three consecutive years between 2011 and 2013. It’s one of the fastest growing institutions as ranked #2 and #3 by QS world’s under-50 universities and Times 150 under 50 universities respectively in 2015 and 2016.

Financial Times ranks its Global MBA programme as the 15th best in the world in 2017.

My lecture topic was banking and it was an enjoyable almost an hour chat with the students about the current trends including Fintech that are affecting the financial industry as well as job description and challenges/opportunities ahead of the financial industry.

The most encouraging part for me was the Q&A session which turned out to be quite active and interesting.

This has been my third lecture after SMU in Singapore in 2014 and Renmin University in Beijing in December 2016. I hope to continue lecturing since it is a great way of giving back to society whilst improving my skills for public speaking and having a great fun!

Thank you Eric Sim for inviting!

All the best from Singapore.

Sukru Haskan
Twitter: @sukru_haskan

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Best books of 2016

   

I managed to read 25 books in 2016 and I hope to finish two or three during my Christmas break.

During 2016, I read the books listed below.

The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall
Focus by Daniel Goleman
Homo Sapiens by Yuval Harari
Homo Deus by Yuval Harari
Startup Nation by Dan Senor and Saul Singer
A Funny thing happened on the way to Enlightenment by Lenny Ravich
His life biography by Jak Kamhi
Arrested by Can Dundar
Blockchain Revolution by Don Tapscott and Alex Tapscott
An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Education by Tony Little
Power of Palace: Geography, Destiny, and Globalization’s Rough Landscape by H.J. de Blij
Never Give Up: Jack Ma in his own words by Suk Lee
Germany: Memories of a Nation by Neil MacGregor
Confession of a Sociopath: A Life spent hiding in plain sight by M.E. Thomas
Facing with our own history by Emre Kongar
Acknowledging what is: Conversations with Bert Hellinger by Bert Hellinger
Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain by David Eagleman
Blimey! from Bohemia to Britpop: The London Artworld by Matthew Collin
This is London by Ben Judah
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
When Breath becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
2014: The Election that changed India by Rajdeep Sardesai
Last night I Dreamed of Peace by Dang Thuy Tram
Memoirs of Ataturk’s Servant by Cemal Granda

Of course, you learn something from each book and each book has a relative value to each reader. If I were to suggest only three books to read from this list of great books, they would be the following:

  • Homo Sapiens and Homo Deus by Yuval Harari
  • Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain by David Eagleman
  • The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli

 Both books by Yuval Harari are great and I believe I have already given at least 40 volumes as gifts to my colleagues, friends and clients. In particular, Homo Sapiens is a must read. For those who have not read my review of these two books, here are the links:

http://haskanwrites.com/2016/02/book-review-sapiens-by-yuval-noah-harari/
http://haskanwrites.com/2016/12/book-review-homo-deus/ 

Incognito is also another great book which confirms that while most of us think that we know everything, our brain plays tricks and we are, in fact, missing a large part of the world. I also published a review of this book a couple of months ago.

http://haskanwrites.com/2016/11/book-review-incognito-by-david-eagleman/

Finally, The Prince by Machiavelli is a classic and I bought this book during my summer visit to Florence. I think this is the sort of book that you should read every few years.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone happy 2017!

I am sure 2017 will be much better in many ways than 2016!

Best of luck in 2017.

All the best from Galle, Sri Lanka.
Sukru Haskan
Twitter: @sukru_haskan

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Lecturing in China

I was honoured to give a short lecture on wealth management last week in Beijing at Renmin University. It was my first time in Beijing and I wish I could have spent more time discovering the city, but giving a short lecture was definitely more accommodating.

This has been my second teaching experience; my first one was in late 2014 at Singapore Management University.

Public speaking skill is a virtue which I really want to develop further, as it is always good to give back to society and meeting younger people to connect with different generations is always a great opportunity.

My session took about 45 minutes and I spoke about various aspects of wealth management such as its challenges and the opportunities ahead, along with its advantages and disadvantages compared to other departments in an ordinary bank.

What I am amazed by was the quality of the questions and the level of spoken English in the class.

It was such a good experience and I hope to avail of similar opportunities more regularly.

Thank you Eric Sim for the invitation!

All the best from Sri Lanka.

Sukru Haskan
Twitter: @sukru_haskan

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Book Review: Homo Deus

After reading Yuval Harari’s book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind early this year, it was almost impossible not to read his next book, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow as soon as it is published and I can get it.

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Homo Deus is the second book written by Harari and talks about the future of mankind. Since Deus is “God” in Latin, he argues in his book that a new religion called Dataism to raise and humans will not need gods anymore since we will very accurately predict what will happen or who will do what by the help of gather data.

The book starts with striking statistics about the past and the present. Almost three million people–15% of the French population–starved to death between 1692 and 1694.  Today, more people are dying of diabetes, which is linked to being overweight rather than a result of starvation.  According to Harari, in 2014 more than two billion people were overweight compared to 850 million who suffered from malnutrition. Half of humankind is expected to be overweight by 2030.

Some of the quotes from the book that I really liked:

“Sugar is more dangerous than gunpowder”

“We don’t become satisfied by leading a peaceful and prosperous existence. Rather, we become satisfied when reality matches our expectations. The bad news is that as conditions improve, expectations balloon”

Does the above quote remind you of someone?

“Historians don’t ignore objective factors such as climate changes and genetic mutations, but they give much greater importance to the stories people invention and believe”

Like in his first book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, in Homo Deus Harari emphasizes the power of stories whether they are true or not. Actually my interpretation is; the less likely they are true and superficial, the more likely the people will listen.

Another point Harari argues is that humankind’s definition of knowledge has kept changing since the Agricultural Revolution. We were simple creatures during this time, so knowledge for reading the scriptures and applying and applying our logic.

“Knowledge= Scriptures x Logic”

Then the Scientific Revolution came and everything focused on collecting data and trying to find meaning for the gathered data.

“Knowledge = Empirical Data x Mathematics”

Finally in 21st century, as much as we are confident about ourselves, we care more about our life experiences and our sensitivities.

Another provocative fact that Harari argues is that there is no free will, and that free will can be manipulated. With the help of technology and data, machines know much better than what we will do or choose. Harari argues that companies are using this to manipulate us. In other words, Harari says what you think you want to do may not be really what you want to do.

He strengthens these points in the following sentence: “We are about to face a flood of extremely useful devices, tools and structures that make no allowance for the free will of individual humans”

Fascinating and provocative! Isn’t it!?

Harari also argues “In the 21st century we might witness the creation of a new massive class: people devoid of any economic, political or even artistic value, who contribute nothing to the prosperity, power and glory of society”  I personally did not get this point. Since societies are manipulated, how can they have this massive new class?

Some other provocative thoughts in the book are about collecting personal data.  Harari states “In the 21st century our personal data is probably the most valuable resource most humans still have to offer, and we are giving it to the tech giants in exchange for email services and funny cat videos”

“After 300 likes, Facebook algorithm can predict your opinions better than your husband or wife!

Yuval Harari is a young and great visionary writer. He definitely make my 2016 and led me to think as well as learn a lot!  He offers great opportunities for readers to think and learn. Harari’s Homo Deus is highly recommended.  His first book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind is suggested as a prerequisite to Homo Deus.

I believe he will be in Istanbul on January, 25th which I am planning to fly and meet him in person!

Best Regards from Singapore.
Sukru Haskan

Twitter: @sukru_haskan

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Book Review: Incognito by David Eagleman

I do not know if it is a coincidence, but I have started reading quite a lot of neurology books recently.

Incognito by David Eagleman was recommended by someone who I really value and I immediately ordered it through Amazon in September, but it only arrived in Singapore in early October.

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The author discusses how we run mostly on autopilot and how little we are conscious when we are living our normal lives. One of the provocative parts of the book is: even though we are in a consciousness state in most of our lives, we are not able to access this part of the brain. According to the author, this consciousness is carved by natural selection to solve problems our ancestors faced during our species’ evolutionary history or simply by practising something so hard that it becomes part of our lives such as a tennis player serving a ball or a driver driving a car.

He discusses that when an idea comes to your mind, your unreal circuitry has been working on it for hours, or days, or years, consolidating information and trying out new combinations.

It is just like the apple that fell down from the tree onto Newton’s head and he discovered gravity. He had already been working on it quite hard so that the apple falling from the tree and hitting him on the head was just the last touch to the ball to cross the line for the goal!

He emphasises that the conscious mind is not at the centre of the action in the brain; instead, it is far out on a distant edge, hearing but whispers of the activity.

One of the interesting examples that he uses in the book is that we believe that we see naturally but actually we learn to see and it is interesting that the majority of human beings live their whole lives unaware that they are only seeing a limited cone of vision at any moment.

There is a very provocative blind spot exercise that I will leave you to find out whilst reading the book.

He argues, “Just because you believe something to be true, just because you know it’s true that doesn’t mean it is true.”

According to the author, many people are found to have the neural ravages of Alzheimer’s disease upon autopsy – but they never showed the symptoms while they were alive. This is because these people continued to challenge their brains into old age by staying active in their careers, doing crossword puzzles, or carrying out any other activities that kept their neural populations well exercised. As a result, they built cognitive reserve.

The author gives many very interesting examples throughout the book, which I will leave you to discover. He discusses that a slight change in the balance of brain chemistry can cause large changes in behaviour and he adds that the behaviour of the patient cannot be separated from his biology.

The conclusion is: human behaviour will always remain unpredictable and we are not really responsible for all our actions, since many parts of the brain lead us to do a lot of stuff against our will. In addition, he believes the legal system and punishments should be adjusted to the state of the criminal’s brain where they may not be responsible for their actions, but his brain would (!)

Finally, David Eagleman has a more recent book, Brain: The Story of You, and he has a website, www.eagleman.com, where you can follow him.

Best from Singapore.

Sukru Haskan
Twitter: @sukru_haskan

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Is white hair enough for management?

 

pensive-older-man-350

The world is changing very fast and the ability to make accurate decisions quickly is becoming ever more complicated.

Traditionally, the world has seen managers of at least 50 years of age, since they would have spent many years within the industry and possibly within the same company, which one would expect would translate into good candidacy for board membership.

Technological innovation beginning in the early 2000s changed that trend, since many of the largest innovative companies have been founded by young entrepreneurs. For instance, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is 32 years old; Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page are 42 and 43 years old respectively.

First of all, experience gained only through years is invaluable and hard to ignore, and it may be important in traditional businesses such as banking, insurance, retail, etc.

But think about FinTech.

FinTech is actually a candidate for replacing a traditional industry, banking.

Many FinTech companies in the US and UK have quite young founders.

TransferWise in the UK is one of them. It is a very good candidate to replace the telegraphic transfer and foreign exchange space traditionally dominated by banks with a much cheaper and more efficient system.

Its founders are Kristo Käärmann and Taavet Hinrikus. Kristo is 36 years old and Taavet 35.

Their motto is: “No skyscrapers, no suits. Just like-minded people everywhere, connected by TransferWise.”

I remember a bank CEO being asked about a possible big merger with another bank. He replied: “There is no need to merge with a traditional bank now. If there were a merger opportunity, it would be with Apple, Google, or another IT company.”

Age may bring wisdom, but it is no longer only age and experience that define senior management. Having said that, they are still a part of the equation, but a less dominant part nowadays.

No matter what age you are, it all comes down to the ability to update yourself. On top of that, being in a job you enjoy matters, rather than simply making a living and having an endless desire to progress your career.

If you have a wealth of experience with a non-growth mind-set and a lot of white hair, you are definitely out of the game.

Even if you are not yet, you will be.

Just like the many.

All the best from Singapore.

Sukru Haskan
Twitter: @sukru_haskan

 

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