August 17, 2011- Business Book Review – The Power of Small (Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval) & more

My inbox is full of unread messages.  I’ve added extra pounds.   I’ve skipped a lot of scheduled readings, delayed some projects and essentially am way out of the loop.  Bear with me, as I share how I’m fixing my mess.  Maybe this will help you too.

One book that has recently helped me fix my thinking is “The Power of Small”.  We are a nation of skimmers, with our attention limited to sound bites, live video clips and headlines. Between global warming, the financial meltdown and the constant twitter, nonstop cocktail party in facebook, everything feels overwhelming.  

So here’s what the authors suggested, “I feel overwhelmed trying to change a light bulb, imagine trying to fix the world, so why not spend a bit more time on the little gestures that can improve our lives and the lives of others?”

Mother Teresa writes “We can do no great things- only small things with great love.”  The truth is, we often try to do so many things, we end up doing none.  How many of us tried to write in our New Years Resolutions that we’d lose ten or so pounds for the year, but end up with nothing to show for it?  Everything starts by taking small steps.  It’s not about taking the extra mile.  It’s about taking the extra inch every single day.

Taking small steps could have a real impact in your life.  How much effort does it take to add a simple “I love you” at the end of a phone call or a text message?  How much effort does it take to appreciate a wondrous moment?  Walk one hundred meters farther, reach a little bit higher day after day.  To me, I just write a blog post, two or three a day if I have lots to really say.  That’s the surprising power of our small actions.  These are the minor details on which careers, relationships, even lives, often pivot.  Sometimes, these small spontaneous acts make all the difference.  

I want to share to you, why there’s nothing small about small talk. Similar to what Linda and Robin explains in the book, the secret to getting ahead in life involves changing our perspective from the grandiose and the difficult to the small and doable.  These are the actions that produce tangible results.  Making a human connection takes only a few moments, a few words and a life can already rest in the balance.

Personal Favorite Quotes from “The Power of Small”:

1.) “A Nobel Prize winner once calculated that each day consists of 20,000 waking moments.  The key is to fully occupy each one, and focus on what needs your attention now, rather than obsessing about the mammoth projects or problems looming ahead.  You can always cross that bridge when you come to it.”  

2.) When a major task or massive project looms, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed at first.  Or to imagine that only a comprehensive solution can provide the needed fix.  And when we start looking for answers to questions, insecurity and fear of failure can be paralyzing, stopping us in our tracks.  That’s when crippling procrastination sets in, and it seems impossible to even get started.  You’re caught in a chain reaction of your own inaction.  

3.) The way to win is to break the race down into a series of manageable distances.  Resolutions are too big, focused on results rather than taking action.  Losing ten pounds is a goal but it doesn’t help us accomplish that goal.  Genuine , lasting change occurs when  people focus on frequent, achievable little goals.  If you’re going to drop a few pounds, make a promise you know you can keep.  Don’t forget that small change can pay off literally as well as figuratively.  

Personal Reflections:

After reading the book, I told myself I’m going to do the following things,  I’m breaking down this site into main categories, slowly.  I will create

“A Little Common Cents Corner” – Generally, a Sherlock Holmes type of investigation on technical tape readings similar to what I did in the Manila Mining analysis posted last August 10.  We’re surrounded by important cues and clues that might help us to solve our everyday problems and looming challenges.  Understanding the big picture means examining the hundreds and thousands of smaller pieces first.  It takes a keen eye to take in such subtle messages in a hectic world.  I try to flush the noise, and find the important pieces in the puzzle.  I think most analysts call this the mosaic theory.  The business world is all about cracking the codes.  Truths are couched politely and rarely spoken directly.  For purposes of local expertise, this corner will be devoted primarily to Philippine equities, but macro indicators such as index futures, currencies, gold and other barometers will be taken into consideration.

“And the Message Can’t Always be Put into Words” – Generally, trading concepts in pictures, similar to what Carl Richards does in his site behavior gap.  I’ll be working with my girlfriend mostly on the visual arts, as she’s dabbling into graphic design as one of her hobbies, apart from being a freelance writer.

“All the Small Things – The Origins” – Taking the title from Blink 182’s popular songs, I agree with the Dalai Lama when he said “if you think small things don’t matter, try spending the night in a room with a mosquito”.  Because I believe that some of the biggest ideas start very small, and pressure always fuels defeat and failure, this corner is devoted to the infinite number of successful business ideas that’s just waiting to be born.  This is my thinking hub of start ups and how big businesses got started.  Everything will focus upon the origins.  Sometimes, it does make sense to forget endless research, focus groups and sophisticated business plans, and just take the leap.  Just simply approach how a child may solve the vexing problems at hand, and discover things.

“It’s A Small World After All”  – Yep, I got the name from the famous song.  I just stared into space thinking about what just happened when I started blogging.  Why am I able to excite or at least attract strangers into my site?  I’m grateful that after a few posts, I realized I was staring right in front of my future.  I am a happy conversationalist and activist.   Blogging has made me more extrovert than I ever imagined myself to be.  One of the best rewards in writing is seeing smiling faces from scratch, and being trusted despite being faceless (though some of them do know who I really am).  Why devote hours of freedoms with “silly obsessions” or hobbies?  I guess it’s because I love writing.  It’s natural to me, I love striking conversations and it doesn’t feel like work at all.  This corner is just about my personal, miscellaneous quirks and worthy causes.  This is about my stubborn zeal in fixing a fractured world.  This is about groups of friends and volunteers combining forces to create their own mini philanthropies in their small circles.  This is acknowledging that each and everyone of us has the power to leave the world a better place than we found it.  We would argue that we do so not by creating grandiose plans, or imagining ourselves as some part of a vast movement, but by the smallest day to day actions and decisions that together with the actions of millions of others, can transform the world.  


When I think back on most of the things I’ve achieved in my life, it all started with simple ideas.  I created a blog.  I just wrote posts about books, education and improving my own life.  It then became a conversation, which lead to more social connections and an exchange of better ideas.  One cannot save or change the world by simply writing, one remarked.  How foolish was I to think so?  Well I still am.

Over a quarter of a billion children in the world are forced to work every day.  Those children don’t know what it’s like to go to school every morning, or play ball on a sunny afternoon or have dinner on the table.  Have any of you watched Eugene Domingo in “Babae sa Septic Tank”?  At any rate, the movie rehashed something we, Filipinos, know every single day in and day out.  I’ve always known how lucky I am to have lived in a family where everything was provided at least on the basic necessities and even some luxuries I shouldn’t even be entitled to except for a genetic lottery.  I’m a trader, helping other traders.  I’m a child helping other children.  There’s a world that needs fixing, a career waiting to soar, a life ready to be transformed into the extraordinary.  I’m just taking the first small step, and trying to keep on walking on that path.

Writing is my small way.  One smile, one photograph, one letter, one artwork.  Individual powers can never be underestimated.  Contribute and submit any story, work, idea etc as we collectively make our own small part to making big ripples in this day and age.

There’s John Breen’s grain of an idea where playing games have yielded into free rice for a lot of Africans, and then adopted to the UN World Food Program . is a click to donate site.  Simple, fun and proactive.  Read wikipedia or the site itself to know more.

There’s Salman Khan who records youtube videos to have a free world-class education.  There’s Jay Jaboneta’s Zamboanga Funds for Little Kids and it all started with a status message in facebook. Now kids don’t have to swim just to go to school. Of course, one can argue, there’s Christopher Lao and just one viral video.  There’s Rebecca Black and her Friday stardom.  End of the day, The Power of small’s manifesto provides sound advice to each one of us.

Small teams are critical to the success of the Enterprise and Small Business alike.

They are the incubators of brilliant ideas.

They spring into action when things go bump in the proverbial night.

Because large teams are usually a band of small teams in disguise.

Please read The Power of Small by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval.  This is their blog site.  Do visit it.  I really recommend it.

I’m working with my girlfriend on a book review blog, where we will set up simple ties with Amazon Associates, and create a book exchange format.  We both want to make reading quality business books accessible for most people.  Most of our books are just in the shelf, so we’d like to lend it and create a book exchange.  A quick google docs to show the library of books, each user is willing to lend out, and a book trade begins.  Perhaps we’ll organize a Sunday book club with no frills for a simple “Philippine Book Exchange” – think of trading books instead of stocks.  As long as there’s a buy and a sell, a trade is created.  I’m really excited to collaborate with her-  She is Miss Bento Books.  This is the site (Miss Bento Books) – but sorry, if it’s still in the renovation stages, for now it’s still just a blog.

I’d dedicate a post all about our book exchange, book review site once it’s complete.  We’re both big believers in enjoying books, literacy and education as a fun small solution to economic progress and social mobility.

“Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness.  Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” – Scott Adams

– The Faceless Trader


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10 Responses to August 17, 2011- Business Book Review – The Power of Small (Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval) & more

  1. marvin says:

    Hi Sir FT! Hope you don’t mind, I would like to request for a change in background.. Sakit sa mata kapag black yun background. 😛


  2. Great post FT!
    Adding this to my list of books to read – not the first that I will be checking out because I saw a review in your blog. Thanks!

    Good luck on your girlfriend’s project. I think it’s a great idea.


  3. Melvin says:

    Book exchange!!! I’ve been looking for something like this. I have books that I’ve read and didn’t really like and I have books that I want to read but i still don’t have. I hope this idea pushes through. I look forward to your updates.



    • I’m working on it 🙂 I can start it as crude as just a small group of people hanging around Fully booked exchanging their books with a google docu sheets archive. No worries Melvin 🙂 I’m really serious too in pushing this through. I’ll be glad to lend and share books with you and others in Manila 🙂 It would be cool.


  4. Pingback: Sept 5, 2011- No one is too small for this. (The Yellow Boat Virus, Freedom Writers, Isang Litrong Liwanag) | Faceless Trader

  5. Pingback: High Heeled Trader and Faceless Trader ← Peraholic

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