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Archive for the ‘Self-Improvement’ Category

What’s your journey of becoming? – Thrive Global

Posted: February 5, 2020 at 2:46 pm


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Michelle Obama is a woman of leadership and a female rock star. Her autobiographical book, Becoming, tells the story of her journey, tells the story of her childhood in a close-knit and happy black middle-class American family in the 1960s and 1970s from a little girl born in South Chicago. Through her studies at Harvard University and her career as a lawyer, to her rise to the White House as First Lady,

Michelle Obama has always been known for her political convictions and her actions for her country and it is probably in these few pages that we better understand what made Michelle, the woman who has been and remains an icon for so many minority Americans.

For eight years, Michelle Obama was not just Barack Obamas wife, but an exemplary first lady, who did a lot for her country, with much dedication. Since the end of Obamas reign, she hasnt disappeared from circulation and still makes her voice heard, in different ways.

Its not about being perfect. Its not about where you get yourself in the end. Theres power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And theres grace in being willing to know and hear others. This, for me, is how we become. Michelle Obama

Having read Becoming I bought Becoming: A Guided Journal for Discovering Your Voice. Indeed, I always encourage my clients to journal as the more conscious one becomes of themselves and their actions, the more skilled they will become at getting out of their own way. I too have kept a journal on and off for the last thirty-five years. Journaling is one of the most successful development tools, if notthemost successful developmental tools I have discovered for myself and my clients. I believe that journaling is the most effective bedrock practice you can cultivate. It has helped me become more aware of my thoughts, my drivers, my behaviour, and my reactions. Plus, I periodically write down lessons learned and milestone moments passed so I have a reference, a record of what has happened and what worked so I may use it in the future.

Becoming: A Guided Journal for Discovering Your Voice has helped me capture my voice and journey so I too can nurture my sense of belonging. I use this time as an opportunity to look back on my personal and professional experiences and to feel empowered to take those next steps, wherever they might lead. I can only serve from a full cupBecoming: A Guided Journal for Discovering Your Voice Becoming: A Guided Journal for Discovering Your Voice and this book is not meant to provide quick fix; I dont believe in quick fixes, as they rarely work in the long term. Instead, it is a guide, for you to dip in and out of when you should need to. You will choose when you need it, and you will determine your progress. You will decide how much effort you will invest and how serious you are about your purpose.

People always ask me why Im so authentic, why people are in tune with me. I think its mostly because I like myself. I like my story and its hard knocks. They make me unique. Thats why Ive always been open with my staff, friends and young people.Michelle Obama

This guided journal presents inspiring questions and quotes from the book to help you reflect on your personal and family history, your goals, challenges, and dreams, what moves you and brings you to hope, and what future you imagine for yourself and your community. Above all, these pages help you capture your voice and journey so you can nurture your sense of belonging.

What I love most is that I love that your story doesnt have to be tragic or grandiose to be necessary. That anyones story can help impact someone else.

This book is an excellent tool for reflection and self-improvement. What you put into it is what you get out of it. This book will help you to have an enriched, deepened, and expanded vision for the most critical subject in your life: you.

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What's your journey of becoming? - Thrive Global

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February 5th, 2020 at 2:46 pm

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How to (Actually) Recruit Talent for the AI Challenge – War on the Rocks

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Editors Note: This article was submitted in response to the call for ideas issued by the co-chairs of the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, Eric Schmidt and Robert Work. It addresses the second question (part b.), which asks how should the government go about hiring and managing qualified people, and the fifth question (part a.), which asks how the federal government can rely on the private sector to develop its AI.

In the global race to dominate artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, talent is everything. Yet the U.S. government has proven unwilling or unable to do what it takes to hire and hold Americas top talent.

Russia and China have long mixed their public and private sector resources when it comes to cyber technologies. Russian organized criminal groups often lend their best hackers to work part-time for the Russian state, while the Peoples Liberation Armys concept of a modern peoples war designates experts from major Chinese technology companies and academia as assets for improving national military power.

The United States, as a democracy, has not responded with equally effective ways to leverage vastly superior capabilities present in its own private sector. Instead, the Defense Department directly competes with American technology companies for a limited pool of cyber and AI talent a competition it all too often loses. Once gone, tech professionals rarely return to government service and engineers with Silicon Valley experience almost never arrive to replace them.

To reverse these trends, the U.S. government should change the way it thinks about careers and embrace a lesson learned by leading tech companies that software talent comes and goes and thats a good thing. Skeptics will say that the Pentagon is different from any other institution and cannot succeed with a transient labor force that does not understand its way of doing things and doesnt have high-level security clearances. Certainly, when it comes to battlefield applications, sensitive intelligence, or operational tactics, the Pentagon has plenty to hide. And its most sensitive software will have to remain off-limits to all but the most carefully vetted employees.

But most of the militarys software powers an ecosystem of backend operations that are no different than those used by private companies. The Defense Department needs to recognize that most of its software is not secret just proprietary and modernize its employment practices accordingly. Hospitals, for example, use dozens of specialized software programs that need to be interoperable as the patient moves from the emergency room to the operating theater to the intensive care unit to discharge. Logistics companies, financial firms, and telecom corporations all use custom software for their specific needs. Even so, the private sector manages to build highly customized software applications that enable their businesses to thrive using software talent that comes and goes.

The Pentagon Should Embrace a Non-Careerist Workforce

The Defense Department could take three specific steps to modernize its high-tech labor force, and do so in a way that keeps the nation safe.

First, to tap software engineers with the requisite experience in cutting-edge techniques for creating computer software, the military should consider moving more of its software jobs to the tech capitals where the best software engineers and AI talent already live and mostly want to stay. While top software engineers routinely move between cities with the headquarters of a major software company, like San Francisco or Seattle, or leading computer science universities, like Pittsburgh or Boston, they rarely move to Washington D.C. As a result, the software teams completing federal contracts have often been isolated from emerging best practices in the industry or have limited experience actually implementing technologies that the private sector adopted years ago. For example, while the best software companies implemented distributed computing platforms and cloud technologies a decade ago, most U.S. military departments have just begun this transition. This lack of hands-on experience with technologies routinely used in the private sector means most of the Pentagon is planning to transition its software applications to the Cloud without actually redesigning them to take advantage of the Clouds primary features. As a result, each application will continue to work essentially as it did before and most of the potential gains from this transition will be lost.

Winning software companies have long understood that top talent has a force multiplier effect. Its worth paying more to acquire top talent. Unlike other industries, in which productivity differs only slightly from one employee to another, software firms believe their best engineers contribute ten or even a hundred times more to the success of the company than engineers of average skill. Flawed design choices made by poor coders can ripple through an entire team, lowering the productivity of every other programmer who must interface with their modules. Bad coders occasionally create bottomless pits of bugs and errors that can delay a product from shipping for weeks or months.

The establishment of Army Futures Command in Austin, Texas shows that the Pentagon can choose to set up shop in a city where software professionals want to live. Even better would be to locate acquisitions personnel who write the specifications for military software and oversee its implementation and operations researchers who need to turn data into action just as the private sector must in cities like Seattle that live and breathe software.

Second, the Defense Department should consider reforming its outdated expectation that tech specialists military or civilian will need to be careerists. Managers and leaders in the national security community often justify their aversion to pursuing potential hires from top-ranked computer science and data science programs by arguing that these employees will not stay for more than a few years if they can be hired at all. Instead, national security hiring managers often prefer employees whom they believe will stay with the military and deeply enmesh themselves in the particulars of the militarys culture and values.

This misunderstands the modern employment landscape. Tech workers turn over rapidly, even ones that are paid as much as corporations like Facebook,Apple, and Amazon are offering. These companies know and accept that their typical employee has worked for their company for less than three years. Recruits who can pass a rigorous technical screening are welcomed or welcomed back by any tech giant regardless of their career stage. The best companies always hold positions open at every level to soak up talent whenever and however it appears.

Facebook brags that its newly hired engineers push real code to production within their first week. New hires in the national security world typically wait half a year or more to get a security clearance. Then they suffer more delays as informal internal barriers block their access to data, and rigid and bureaucratic processes prevent the deployment of tools and programming languages that data professionals in the private sector take for granted.

The Pentagon should consider redesigning its personnel policies to accommodate a much greater degree of speed and permeability in its cyber and AI workforce, regardless of what pay and benefits it offers. Its new priority could be to create a working environment that will attract the best employees, allow them to contribute rapidly to the best of their ability, and encourage them to stay only as long as they believe it is in their best interest to do so.

Finally, the federal government could learn from industry models that do not rely on full-time employees to develop world-class software. The open-source community created much of the software that powers the internet, including the Linux operating system and the Apache web server. While the Pentagon might not want to expose the source code behind its software applications to the entire world, it can learn from a community that has managed to create free products that are competitive with the best efforts of better-resourced, for-profit companies even though many open-source teams pay no salaries, offer no benefits, and provide no career ladder.

The lesson is that most open-source, volunteer software engineers want to contribute to a worthwhile mission and improve the lives of their fellow human beings. Some have all the traditional employment benefits from their day jobs. Most feel empowered by the opportunity to code simply for the joy of tackling interesting and meaningful projects in their free time. Similarly, numerous servicemen, servicewomen, and Defense Department civilians would welcome the opportunity to learn a new skill, improve their day-to-day work environment, or simply explore a topic that interests them. A military version of the open-source model would connect volunteers from Americas best technology companies with the Defense Departments most talented and innovative personnel. Ideally, it would also create a community of data and software professionals who could share new successes, enshrine emerging best practices, and iterate on exciting ideas.

Adapt or Risk Losing Out to China and Russia

Ultimately, whatever specific mechanism it uses, the Pentagons success in deploying the most innovative AI technology will depend on its ability to embrace a culture of creativity, innovation, and self-improvement. If it is to succeed, it will have to find ways to encourage cross-pollination with Americas best-in-class software ecosystem and draw from the countrys immense and impatient talent pool. If not, it could be doomed to lose the race to dominate AI.

James Ryseff is a technical analyst with the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation. He previously worked as a software engineer for 13 years at Microsoft, SAP, and Google, among others. He holds a bachelors degree in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a masters in Security Studies from Georgetown University.

Image: U.S. Air Force (Photo by Jerry Saslav)

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How to (Actually) Recruit Talent for the AI Challenge - War on the Rocks

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February 5th, 2020 at 2:46 pm

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Serena Williams Sends Prayers to Families of Kobe Bryant & Other Victims Who Died in Crash – AmoMama

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Serena Williams took to Instagram, where she put up a heartfelt post while mourning the tragic passing of basketball legend, Kobe Bryant, and all those who lost their lives in the fatal helicopter crash.

Tennis Champion, Serena Williams, recently took to her Instagram page to send her prayers to late Kobe Bryant, his daughter, Gianna, and other passengers that died after his helicopter crashed.

Williams shared a symbolic red picture that signified her grief while going on to pray for the departed and their families. Her caption read:

"I will continue to pray for the Bryant family, the Chester family, the Altobelli family, the Mauser family, and the Zobayan family and friends during this difficult time. Your legend will live on."

Both being sports celebrities, Kobe and Serena had a platonic relationship that had the two showing respect for each other on social media.

According to TENNIS WORLD, Bryant and Williams worked together on the Kobe and Anne Matthews book "Legacy and the Queen," which revolves around a tale of inspiration and self-improvement.

"Legacy and the Queen" was released last year, and while speaking about the book at Orange County Children's Book Festival, the Lakers star made it known that he drew inspiration from his daughters. He said at the event:

"I wanted (Legacy and the Queen) to be a great example for my daughters, for all the young women out there, that your sensitivity is where a lot of your power, your inner magic comes from."

With a five-time NBA championship accolade to getting dubbed 2008's Most Valuable player among many other winnings, Kove Bryant was an Icon.

But all these did not solely define him as he was a family man at heart. As a girl dad, Kobe loved his daughters and never hesitated to praise and show them off on social media.

According to TENNIS WORLD, the Basketball champion lost his life after his helicopter crashed at Calabasas, California, killing him and eight others, including his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna.

Kobe Bryant is survived by his wife, Vanessa Bryant, and three daughters, Natalia, Bianka, and little Capri.

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Serena Williams Sends Prayers to Families of Kobe Bryant & Other Victims Who Died in Crash - AmoMama

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Three reasons Khabib v McGregor rematch wont happen this year – Extra.ie

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Conor McGregor may be the money fight in the UFC, but there are many reasons why a rematch with Khabib wont happen.

The Eagle submitted McGregor in the fourth round of their hugely tense UFC 229 bout in October 2018.

Although the Irishman and Dana White want to see that rematch, here are three reasons why it wont happen this year.

1. Khabib v Tony Ferguson

The lightweight champion already has a huge fight on his hands against Tony Ferguson in April.

El Cucuy is tipped by many to be the man to beat the Russian, meaning McGregor is the furthest thing from Khabibs mind right now.

Ferguson is hoping to spoil McGregors plans by defeating the 28-0 champion who has been dubbed the greatest lightweight of all time.

2. Ramadan

Five days after Khabibs huge bout with Ferguson is the start of the Islam tradition, Ramadan.

This is a time of spiritual reflection, self-improvement and heightened devotion and worship for Muslims.

Ramadan involves huge periods of fasting and most people eat before dawn and not again until after sunset, which would hinder Khabibs training for a fight.

3. Lack of interest

Khabib repeatedly insisted he wants McGregor to earn a rematch following his decisive victory in 2018.

The Russian recently claimed he wouldnt fight the Irishman for 100 million, reiterating that money doesnt motivate him.

Whether Dana White can convince Khabib is another thing but if it was down to the Russian the rematch wont happen in 2020.

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Three reasons Khabib v McGregor rematch wont happen this year - Extra.ie

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How Netflix Will Improve Free Cash Flow by $800 Million in 2020 – Motley Fool

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Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) has officially reached peak cash burn. Its negative free cash flow of $3.3 billion in 2019 was about $250 million more than the previous year, but management is expecting to burn just $2.5 billion this year.

That's despite the fact that several high-profile competitors are entering the market in 2020, and the price of licensing and producing new television series and films has seemingly never been higher.

There are several factors that will lead to the considerable improvement in cash flow this year, and investors should expect those trends to continue for the foreseeable future. That provides a clear path to neutral cash flow for the streaming video leader. Here's how it'll get there.

Image source: Netflix.

The more cash coming in, the easier it is to improve cash flow, so everything starts with growing revenue.

Netflix grew revenue 27.6% last year, but investors should expect a considerable slowdown in 2020 since 2019 was helped by price increases around the world. Average revenue per subscriber increased 17% in the U.S. and Canada in the back half of the year. Netflix had a similar price increase across Latin America, but foreign exchange headwinds knocked the increase down to around 9%. It's very unlikely Netflix will increase prices again in 2020 in most markets, given the competitive pressure and price sensitivity subscribers exhibited last spring.

Additionally, Netflix probably won't grow its subscriber base as quickly as last year. Netflix's first-quarter outlook calls for just seven million net additions compared to 9.6 million in the first quarter of 2019. While management expects a more even distribution of net additions in the first half of the year, it's still unlikely the company will grow subscribers at the same rate as last year, especially considering the fact it's building on a larger base.

That said, analysts still expect Netflix to produce revenue growth in excess of 20% this year. That'll come from continued subscriber growth, another quarter before it laps its previous price increase, and self-selection from subscribers to higher-priced tiers.

Netflix has consistently expanded its operating margin three percentage points every year for the past three years. 2020 will be no different, with management planning to hit a 16% operating margin for the full year.

One area of operating leverage is in Netflix's marketing budget. The company greatly expanded its marketing budget in 2018, increasing spend around 50% that year. The focus of that increase was mostly around marketing specific original titles and "for your consideration" campaigns to win prestigious awards. And while Netflix certainly expanded its original content slate in 2019 and made an even bigger push at the Emmys and Oscars, its marketing budget increased just 12% for the full year.

The bulk of Netflix's increased marketing spend is international, where the company is seeing improved efficiency as it has become a more established brand over the last four years. Continued investment in international marketing could produce even better returns for the company and result in the operating leverage necessary in order to meet its 16% operating margin target.

Of course, the biggest cost for Netflix is its massive content library. The company amortized $9.2 billion of content expenses in 2019, which is the amount that goes into its income statement. But its cash flow statement saw about $14.6 billion in content spending as it continues to ramp up investments in originals and pre-commits to certain licensed content.

The content amortization increased about 22% last year, slightly faster than the 21% growth in 2018. CFO Spence Neumann told investors to expect another increase of around 20% for 2020.

But the growth in cash spend will be slightly slower. "The relationship between our cash spent and our amortization, that ratio was about 1.6, meaning 1.6 times the cash investment relative to our amortization," Neumann explained during Netflix's fourth-quarter earnings call. "You should see that ratio continue to come down a little bit."

If Netflix grows its amortized content expense 21% and decreases the ratio to 1.52, it'll spend about $17 billion in cash on its content in 2020. That's just 16% growth on by far the biggest line item in its cash flow statement. Combined with the streaming video company's revenue growth of about 20% and operating leverage of three percentage points, investors should see a marked improvement in free cash flow over the next four quarters.

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Michael Schenker: "Rudolf doesnt have much talent as a guitarist – I needed to pave the path for him. Im saying that with an open heart" -…

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Its been almost 50 years Since Michael Schenker made his recording debut at age 16 on the Scorpions debut album, 1972s Lonesome Crow. From the start it was obvious he was at a playing level that was well beyond many of his contemporaries.

This little detail was noticed by UK rockers UFO, who poached Schenker from the Scorpions in 1974 after witnessing his chops first-hand. Their first album together, Phenomenon, was a game-changer for UFO in terms of their commercial appeal.

Schenker had everything - the guitar-hero image, the chops and the iconic Gibson Flying V. Fame didnt sit well with him, however, and he developed a reputation for unreliability and unpredictability. He left UFO in 1978 ahead of the release of 1979s Strangers in the Night, an oft-cited contender for the title of greatest live album of all time.

After a brief return to the Scorpions for Lovedrive in 1978, Schenker filled guitar hot seats with Aerosmith, Ozzy Osbourne and Ian Hunter. He calls this period - the era leading up to forming The Michael Schenker Group with vocalist Gary Barden - his first phase.

The ensuing second phase saw Schenker endure a roller-coaster of highs and lows. The highs included his time with McAuley Schenker Group and a brief return to UFO; the lows involved personal problems that saw him endure a costly divorce, and a period where he seemed to have cut himself adrift from the world of rock.

Schenkers current third phase kicked in when he realized he was no longer suffering from stage fright in 2008 - and he began to actively relish performing.

Schenker is eloquent and animated when he describes the travails of a life where success came before he was ready, and where he feels the lessons life has taught him have ultimately brought him the happiness he feels today.

His latest release, Revelation - under the banner Michael Schenker Fest - is a hard-rocking and celebratory confirmation from Schenker that hes the happiest and hungriest hes ever been.

Revelation has come out relatively quickly after the last release [2018s Resurrection]. Are you feeling prolific?

"Im used to doing one album a year from my UFO days. Im 64. Im not gonna sit around not doing anything. I always play and discover. I go treasure hunting - I enjoy my journey, and when I find a piece of gold, I put it on a cassette recorder.

"I keep collecting pieces. I never get any kind of writers block. We had a lot of space in the schedule and time is ticking quickly; Im not going to wait forever, you know? It was just the right time for me."

Given that Michael Schenker Fest involves four singers, how do you decide which vocalist will get which song?

"I let the universe do the work. I send the same pieces out to everyone at the same time and see who comes back first. I work on a first come, first served basis, so whoever responds first gets the song.

"Doogie [White] usually comes to me quickly and picks a few. Robin [McAuley] came back immediately and picked one. Graham Bonnet picked two and insisted on writing his own lyrics and melodies. Im very happy he did, because he did such a great job.

"I had four songs where I wanted everybody singing. I love Gary Bardens low voice, so I always try to keep some aside for him, as he is so bluesy and full-sounding. The funny thing is that everybody picked fast songs, so the whole album is really up-tempo. You cant control everything, so you let it go and develop itself and see what transpires."

Behind the Smile takes an unexpected turn, with that almost folk-like intro before the main song kicks in.

"Its a great song. I think maybe Doogie picked it because it was an almost Scottish intro. I can see him in a kilt singing that one. I love the keyboards; it lifts the song and makes everything move around. Its very catchy as well."

Theres a very upbeat feel to the album. Do you feel positive these days? I know youve had some tough times over the years.

All of a sudden, by the time of Strangers in the Night, people are saying Michael Schenker is God. Im thinking, 'What!?'

"At this point, I can see very clearly what happened to me. Everything had to be the way it went. The first part of my life, unconsciously, I was just playing around. I didnt compete with anybody, I didnt want to be famous: I just wanted to have fun.

"All of a sudden, by the time of Strangers in the Night, people are saying Michael Schenker is God. Im thinking, 'What!?' I helped the Scorpions with the Lovedrive album, then I looked at myself and I thought, 'Ive experienced what it is to be successful and famous, so I have a choice now. Do I want to stay there and keep chasing the same thing everybody is chasing, or do I want to see this as one chapter, and focus on a new chapter?'

"That next phase - where I started to play the black-and-white Flying V - Ozzy, Aerosmith, Ian Hunter - anyone whod asked me to join them would have been very unhappy with me. They would have had to put up with my experiments."

You had great success with MSG then, so you must have had some focus on what you were looking for.

"All I wanted to do was find an unknown singer - which I found in Gary [Barden] - an easygoing guy with a great bluesy voice. I have two tattoos; one says Born to overcome and the other says Born to be free. They symbolize my middle years.

"I intuitively knew I did what I had to do in those years. I was bubbling with creativity. I made too many albums, almost, but I got everything out of my system the fame and status.

"I think I made my musical contribution in the 70s, which everyone then used in the 80s. People would ring me up in the early 80s, saying, 'Michael, theyre all playing your guitar style.'

"I said, 'dont worry about it. I have other things to do.' I think my assignment was to jump-start things in the 70s. I jump-started the Scorpions and UFO - they should be happy about it - then I carried on with my own style.

I believe if you stay true to yourself, everything will come to you. If Id not had those difficult periods when I was trusting myself and my vision, I wouldnt be as happy as I am now

"I always had terrible stage fright, but in 2008 something inside me said, 'Michael, go on stage,' and I realized I wanted to be on stage. Everything changed, 180 degrees. I became a different person, but thats because of those middle years, when things werent always great for me.

"I always stayed true to myself. Maybe I could have joined Ozzy or something, but then who knows where I might be now. Maybe not even alive, you know? I believe if you stay true to yourself, everything will come to you. I never sold out, and I built a really big foundation for my present phase. If Id not had those difficult periods when I was trusting myself and my vision, I wouldnt be as happy as I am now."

Your solos are often very memorable. Do you consciously work out what youre going to play?

"In Search of the Peace of Mind is the first song Id ever written. It was credited to all the Scorpions, but I wrote the music and Klaus [Meine] wrote the lyrics. That first solo I recorded was just perfect, unbelievable. It came out of nowhere. It will be forever just right.

"I wrote all the music for the songs in the Scorpions, although they credited themselves for it incidentally. They were nearly seven years older than me, so I guess they took advantage. It didnt matter to me at the time as I was an artist, and I enjoyed the reward of the music.

"I did have a period, when I was interested in harmony guitar solos, where I did write the parts, as you need to have that more planned out, but for the last 20 years or so Ive wanted to play more bluesy and rocky - since [2011s] Temple of Rock.

"Everything is improvised now. I dont write any solos these days. I dont play ballads or slow songs, so there isnt really a space for writing a solo. It is interesting what you say, as when I listen back to my solos, I think it does sound like I composed them."

The break on Only You Can Rock Me is the perfect example of what a solo should do.

"The funny thing is that its entirely improvised. Im sure when I first played it, it didnt sound the way it came out, but it sounds so structured and so well thought out. It isnt, though. I just improvised it in the studio.

"That solo is me without making any efforts - every nuance of it is Michael. Every note needs to have a meaning. Many people can play many notes, but it doesnt have any meaning."

Given your association with the Flying V, did Gibson ever offer to make you a signature model?

"[Laughs uproariously] Rudolf [Schenker, Scorpions guitarist and Michaels brother] took care of that! Hes been working so hard at distorting my image, so people dont know anymore which one is Michael and which one is Rudolf.

"Sometimes Rudolf would come up to me and proudly report whod tapped him on the shoulder and said, 'Hey, Michael, how are you doing?' Slash and Joe Perry, for example.

"[Laughs] While I wasnt looking, he managed for years to distort the hell out of the image of the Schenker brothers. People dont have a clue anymore who is who. Because Im younger and I was successful earlier and had the first hit in 1976, I was playing in America when I was 19 and Rudolph was 33 before he got to America for the first time.

People are so confused because I was six-and-a-half years younger. The Scorpions became so successful that people forget what the band was like at the start. Its incredible how he managed to distort the whole thing. Rudolf made a deal with Gibson for black-and-white guitars.

"He asked me if I minded if he played a black-and-white Flying V. I asked myself why he wants to be me, but I just said, 'Go ahead.' Then he pushed it so far in trying to make the black-and-white image his. He doesnt know who he is. Then he had the cheek to make a deal with Gibson for a signature Flying V.

"Im playing a Dean and hes got the Gibson, and then people probably think hes also the guy who used to play with UFO. It is remarkable. Hes a very strange guy, one of a kind. [Laughs]"

Perhaps as the older brother, he was expecting things might come to him first?

"Well, that is true. As the younger brother, I probably ended up wearing his underpants and school uniform, and riding his bike. He was the oldest and I got the hand-me-downs. I didnt look for fame and success, but I became successful.

"I didnt look to become an icon, but I became one, it became me. Rudolf focused on those things, but he couldnt get it. Its a strange message - that existence of two brothers who made such a weird success in their own way. The puzzle is not completed yet between us.

I jumpstarted the Scorpions. They should be happy instead of acting like Im some little shit

"I know there is a reason for this peculiar journey through life between Rudolf and me. I hope I will understand it if I can get another 10 years on the planet. Im not bitter about the stupid games he played. He was probably very frustrated that everything he wanted was coming to his much younger brother without even trying for it.

"I believe I was born to make him successful. Rudolf doesnt have much talent as a guitarist. Without direction, he is lost. He copied everything I did. [Laughs] I needed to pave the path for him.

"Im not saying that competitively, but with an open heart. I jumpstarted the Scorpions. They should be happy instead of acting like Im some little shit. [Laughs]"

What initially drew you to the Flying V?

"It is meaningless in a way, but when I was 14 when we had an hour in woodwork class, I decided to build a guitar and it was a triangle shape. So, the shape came to me; I didnt look for it. I was never interested in the instrument itself, more what I could do with it.

"Then when I heard Leslie West and Johnny Winter and Jeff Beck, Id wonder what they played, you know? I identified with the ones who played how I wanted to play, but I started going my own way. There was no point in copying someone else."

What was the situation when you were giving guitar lessons some years ago? People regarded it as a sign that life was going badly for you, given the heights your career had reached prior to that.

"It was more therapeutic, a part of my middle years. I did so many self-improvement programs and stuff like that. I was thirsty for it. I ended up in the country I was most intimidated by - America - to do most of my work, which seems really weird in a way.

"Americans used to intimidate me, but that was where I did all my self-improvement work. I had such a thirst to learn and know who I was. Because of that, I understood who I was. I wanted to learn to be social. I used it to invite people into my privacy.

"It wasnt so much guitar lessons, more about how they can become something individual or unique. Id show them how I wrote songs - practical things. Sometimes I just talked. It wasnt how to become famous, more about the whole Michael philosophy."

Whats the one thing that kept you going through everything?

"I think theres something inside of me that is untouchable; a connection to the creator of creations. Im connected to the essence of myself. I can feel that essence and that connection.

"I used to say I may be shaky on the outside, but I have the strength of pure gold in the center of my being that is always with me. That is where all the intuition comes from. I dont have a high IQ or anything. Im working with something I dont consciously understand.

"We dont know a lot about our lives, but that belief in the inner-self - self-acceptance - it is very important. You need something to hold on to, then you need to trust yourself, and accept yourself. Everything that needs to happen will happen, and all will come to pass."

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The voice of the Jewish East End – New Statesman

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The only British writers who stood up for Jews before the days of Hitler, George Orwell reckoned, were Charles Dickens and Charles Reade (he forgot George Eliot, whose Daniel Deronda is a sympathetic proto-Zionist). Hilaire Belloc, a virulent Jew-baiter, considered Jews beyond civilisation because civilisation was based on Christianity and Jews were Christ-killers (OK so we killed him, but only for three days, runs the Jewish joke). Benjamin Disraeli, the One Nation Tory who led the Conservatives to a majority in the 1874 general election, was castigated and abused as a Shylock till the day he died (and afterwards, too). Caricatures of ugly, money-grubbing Jews marked 19th-century fiction; even William Thackeray, that most likeable of Victorian novelists, disparaged a Rothschild banker as a greasy-faced compound of donkey and pig.

The taint of British anti-Semitism haunts the work of Alexander Baron, the mostunderrated Anglo-Jewish writer of the mid-20th century. Barons incandescent 1952 London novel,With Hope, Farewell(Five Leaves Publications, 9.99), unfolds amid the flag-waving jamborees of British fascist activists in the Jewish East End over the years 1928-48. Mark Strong, a Jewish RAF pilot, is sickened to see Jews maligned once more as traitorous anti-Britons (always the word Jew sprang up like barbed wire between himself and the world).

Assimilation had promised an escape fromthe derision and sorrows inflicted by anti-Semitism; now Strong is not so sure. John Betjeman compared the novel favourably to Alan PatonsCry, the Beloved Country, which put forward the case of the coloured people of South Africa.

Baron, who was born in 1917 in Maidenhead (his mother was evacuated there from London during Zeppelin raids), madehis name first as a war novelist. In 1939, having worked on the socialist newspaperTribune, he enlisted in the army as a corporal. His service in southern Italy and Normandy with the Pioneer Corps left him physically and emotionally wounded, but provided him with raw material for the magnificent war trilogy that launched his literary career.

From the City, From the Plough(Imperial War Museum Classics, 8.99), Barons debut novel, was reprinted within a month of its publication in 1948. It tells of an infantry battalion stationed on the south coast of England as it prepares for the D-Day landings. In pages of taut prose, Baron captures the barrack-room chat of ordinary soldiers and the boredom of their training. For VS Pritchett, it was the only war book that has conveyed any sense of reality to me; Baron was among the first to bring the life of the Nissen hut into literature.

The sequel,Theres No Home(Sort of Books, 7.99), published in 1950, drew on the authors time as a sapper in the Sicilian city of Catania in August 1943. The descriptions of tattered Catanian children and old women begging for food showed a sympathy for the humble and unnoticed of the world. CP Snow applauded the novel: I am now confident in placing Mr Baron among our genuine hopes. It was followed in 1953 byThe Human Kind(Black Spring Press, 9.99), where interlinked autobiographical stories span each year of the 1939-45 conflict. (The novel was filmed in the early 1960s as The Victors by the blacklisted Hollywood writer-director Carl Foreman.) Barons war novels were bestselling Pan paperback titles in their day.

Educated at Hackney Downs grammar school and raised in Stoke Newington, Baron was at heart a London novelist. His first great London novel, 1951sRosie Hogarth(Five Leaves Publications, 9.99), went deep into the psychology of war and its neurotic aftermath. Jack Agass, a demobbed soldier, returns to Islington, where he grew up, only to learn that his childhood friend Rosie is rumoured to have turned to prostitution. Like a knight-errant in a medieval mystery, he searches for some meaning behind his loved ones transformation. Influenced by Henry Greens 1946 novel of wartime homecoming, Back (which also features a woman called Rose), Rosie Hogarth portrays Agasss all-consuming mania as he enquires after Rosie in the streets round Chapel Market. Typically for Baron, the defeats and disenchantments felt by British soldiers who struggled to return to their former lives are chronicled against a determinedly humdrum London background of boarding-houses and bus routes.

Throughout the 1970s, Baron contributed to the BBCsPlay for Todayand adapted Kipling, Thackeray and George Eliot, among other Victorian writers, for television. All this while he continued to live in Stoke Newington. His cult novel of 1963,The Lowlife(Black Spring Press, 9.99), concerns the antics of Harryboy Boas (two syllables, please), one of the last of theJewish gamblers and street philosophers, or luftmenschen, who inhabited the oldJewish East End. When not frequentingthe Walthamstow dog track, Harryboy dreams in his Stoke Newington bachelor flat of a better life.

The novel, with its quick Yiddisher wit, is what Harryboy would have wished: a winner. Harry H Corbett of Steptoe and Son fame was due to play Harryboy in a film of the book, but it was never made. Years later, in 2000, Hanif Kureishi expressed an interest in writing the screenplay. The Lowlife combines themes of racial discrimination and outsider alienation with the cockney menace of Harold Pinter. (Jon Savage cites it in Englands Dreaming as a literary antecedent of punk.)

Strikingly, The Lowlife was one of the first British novels to incorporate Caribbean immigrants as characters. Ingrams Terrace (a fictionalised version of Foulden Road, where Baron grew up), home to Harryboy, is mythologised in the novel as a proper little United Nations. Marc Bolan and the future Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren lived in Stoke Newington Jewish boys exposed to Jamaican ska and rock-steady music in the local Afro-Caribbean clubs.

***

Barons father was a teenager when, in 1908, he moved to England from Poland. A master-furrier, he assimilated gratefully into the English rituals of roast beef and empire. The trappings of Jewish Orthodoxy Old Testament beards and sidelocks made the East End unfit as a habitation for upwardly mobile British Jewry. Barons superb 1969 historical novelKing Dido(Five Leaves Publications, 9.99) unfolds in a Victorian-era slum world of meth-bloated derelicts and Romany-Jewish chancers. Dido Peach, a solitary, threatened man, presides over this world like a prototype Kray gangster. In 1972, with his wife Delores Salzedo, Baron moved out of Hackney to the upscale suburbia of Golders Green. He had fulfilled his fathers dream of social self-improvement.

Baron remained fascinated by European Jewish culture and its near-extinctionunder Hitler. Bergen-Belsen, with its piles of decomposing corpses, liberated by British troops in April 1945, lent a moral clarity to the war in which Baron had fought as a D-Day corporal: Germany had departed from the community of civilised human beings. Without Hitler, Baron knew, Israel could not have been born the way it was in 1948. On 4 June 1967 he joined Harold Pinter, Al Alvarez, Frederic Raphael and other Anglo-Jewish writers in signing aletter in support of Israel in the Sunday Times: The Arab states which surround Israel have declared their intention of destroying Israel. Egypts President Nasser, seeming to goad Israel to war, had moved his troops into Sinai on the Israeli border, and Israel retaliated.

Like most British Jews at that dangerous hour, Baron believed that his people stood on the brink of a second catastrophe within a quarter-century (Today, Israel is mobilised to prevent itself becoming another Auschwitz). Assimilated Jewry had argued that Jew-hatred would evaporate with the inevitable progress of mankind, but Hitlers biological anti-Semitism had proved them wrong. Over the Six Day War, Israel defeated three Arab armies, tripled the size of the territory under its control and occupied the Gaza Strip. Israel was now no longer the Promised Land of peace and honey that Baron had once taken it to be. His subsequent views on Israel are not recorded. However, in the rush to establish a Jewish state after Hitlers Final Solution, safeguarding Arab nationalism in the Holy Land had not been a pressing concern.

Barons 14th novel (and the last published during his lifetime),Franco is Dying(1979), was met with critical indifference. He died 20 years later in December 1999, at the age of 82. Now largely forgotten as a writer, he is ripe for reappraisal.

Ian Thomsons books include Primo Levi: The Elements of a Life (Vintage)

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The voice of the Jewish East End - New Statesman

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Why you probably don’t want all of your dreams to come true – The Sydney Morning Herald

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It might seem like a perfect existence but, according to a human performance researcher, you probably don't want all of your dreams to come true.

"People actually feel better when they are striving; when they are in the process of achieving a goal," explains Deakin University's Dr Adam Fraser, who has studied what makes people perform well for more than a decade. "Once they get there, they don't feel as good."

Dr Fraser says he has reached the "counter-intuitive" conclusion that people receive the biggest boosts to their self-esteem and self-worth in times of struggle.Credit:Stocksy

In his new book, Strive, (out Wednesday) Dr Fraser says he has reached the "counter-intuitive" conclusion that people receive the biggest boosts to their self-esteem and self-worth in times of struggle; they feel better about themselves when things are tough than when they are easy.

It's why trust fund kids aren't constantly grinning from ear to ear, he says, or our "participation trophy culture" hasn't led to a generation of extremely happy children.

So, if we can't have all of them, which dreams do we want to come true? Just the simple dreams, like saving for a house deposit? Or do we feel better about reaching our "pie in the sky" dreams?

Dr Fraser says the question isn't the right one to ask; if we want to feel good, the "completion" of a task shouldn't be our focus.

"Obviously, we want to achieve the things we set out for ourselves," he says. "However, the trap we fall into is seeing goals or achievement as binary. We either achieved it or we didn't."

People receive the biggest boosts to self-esteem in times of struggle, feeling better about themselves when things are tough ... than easy.

Instead, Dr Fraser says it is more helpful in the long run to look at the growth and evolution that occurs in striving to achieve the goal, adding that it is an observed phenomenon that the completion of a task rarely leads to the expected feeling of contentment.

In his years of corporate speaking and mentoring, it is something he has seen in athletes after they achieve their goal of the gold, but also in everyday people who finish their careers.

"People work a job they don't like expecting that when they retire they will be happy and get to start living their life, but what we actually see is people who retire can feel very flat, because they stop evolving."

Ultimately, our society has a problem with pursuing happiness, Dr Fraser says. While happiness is still a desirable outcome, we should be viewing it as a by-product of achievement and self-improvement, rather than an achievement of itself.

We think that if we don't feel happy, something must be wrong. But, actually, humans thrive on discomfort.

"We think that if we don't feel happy, something must be wrong. But, actually, humans thrive on discomfort. We can't be happy all the time, and it can be better for us to not be."

So, how do we strive? In his book, Dr Fraser outlines foreground behaviours to view struggle as development (thought processes, whereby a person accepts a struggle as hard but ultimately worthwhile), and well as background behaviours (a more general pursuit of values such as focus, gratitude) that will assist in the change of mindset.

"The background behaviours are probably easiest to achieve, because it's really hard to make people see that something which is uncomfortable is worth it, but you do need both," he says.

"Rather than seeing the strive as the crappy bit we have to put up with on our way to a goal, learn to embrace and be present with the strive. Fall in love with the work."

Dr Fraser is also a fan of encouraging those around you to strive, rather than be complacent. But, is this idea that we must love working at our limits not a recipe for disaster? How can someone be sure that they are helping a friend, or employee, to strive, rather than pushing them into an unhealthy struggle?

"It's about communication," he says. "Often if someone is given a new task or a larger amount of work to do their response is to say something is impossible or freak out. But, as their manager you need to provide the guidance and support. Just because something doesn't seem easy doesn't mean it won't make you feel good."

Strive (Wiley, $29.95) is out on Wednesday.

Mary Ward is Deputy Lifestyle Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

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Most Recent Foster your heart, mind and soul with The Enrich List from HSBC Jade – Prestige Online

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As we transition into a new decade, enriching oneself no longer just means the enhancement of a single element in ones life. This is exactly the reason why HSBC Jade has initiated The Enrich List: an assortment of 50 exclusive and extraordinary experiences around the world to help their customers broaden their minds and perspectives in the long run.

Besides luxury concierge services and banking services, The Enrich List was created as a source of inspiration for customers to achieve self-enrichment.

Fashioned in partnership with a team of experts, The Enrich List is built on four fundamental pillars: Curated Adventure, Ultimate Wellbeing, Game Changers and A Purposeful Life. Each of these themes relate to the broader idea of enrichment: from self-development and exploration to taking on challenges and giving back.

I think what the clients really want is to create a certain experience for themselves as well as their loved ones states Alice Fok, the Head of Customer Proposition and Marketing at HSBC. [We want to help our clients] not only to grow their wealth but also their wellbeing as well as self-improvement, she added.

The idea of the Enrich List was formed out of a survey that was conducted by HSBC in eight major markets where HSBC Jade is being offered. Survey results concluded that a whopping 77 percent of participants think that it is very important to grow their personal wellbeing, more so than their wealth. Indeed, the growth of material wealth is important to enjoy the luxuries we have, but a deeper, personal level of growth stems from the enrichment of oneself.

Curated Adventure

The first pillar, Curated Adventure, refers to exclusive, tailored travel activities with unique adventures. Transformative voyages of discovery have been specially selected to give customers the most out of their journey. These include the Dinner da Vinci, where participants can indulge in a feast their eyes on Leonardo da Vincis The Last Supper in Milans Basilica di Santa Maria delle Grazie, before tucking into a private supper of their own in the presence of the masterpiece.

Ultimate Wellbeing

According to celebrity and wellness coach Denise Keller, enriching oneself is the ultimate state of being. For the Enrich List, Ultimate Wellbeing experiences symbolise an investment into mental and physical wealth. Although monetary wealth is important, these experiences highlight the old adage, health is wealth, and takes the wellbeing movement to the next level.

Keller also mentioned, more and more people are discovering that spiritual wellness is the new luxury, the new wealth. Spiritual wellness not only allows you to seek meaning and purpose in human existence, but it also allows you to appreciate your life experiences for what they are. When you find meaning in your life experiences, you will be able to develop harmony with your inner self and the outside world, which ultimately grants you balance.

Ultimate Wellness experiences include options like a fitness-focused retreat in Equinox Hotel, New York, a rejuvenating thalassotherapy treatment at luxury Sardinian resort, and even a cathartic crying therapy session in Japan.

A Purposeful Life

The meaning of a purposeful life differs individually, but for The Enrich List, leading a purposeful life is to search for a higher purpose with a desire to leave behind a respectful legacy.

They have teamed up with Dearborn, a modern-American supper club helmed by Chef Christopher Kong, as one of their experiences in Singapore. Here, find thoughtful cuisine with a focus on minimal waste, regional produce and sustainable seafood. Chef Chris honed his skills at numerous award-winning for the last 15 years before creating Dearborn, his very own private dining space. He shared, I hope to leave diners with more knowledge and awareness about the ingredients available in the region and the awesome things that farmers here are doing. Hopefully it sparks an interest to find out more about how our everyday food choices affect everything.

Leaving behind a legacy is something that resonates with Edmond Wong, third-generation family member running heritage brand Kim Choo Kueh Chang. He expressed that maintaining his grandmothers legacy goes beyond protecting her recipes. What we have today, as part of our business model, is to ensure that our heritage brand goes beyond producing heritage food items. We have now a Singapore Visitor Centre to manage, and are very honoured to be given the opportunity to service our community by being precinct [Katong and Joo Chiat] caretakers.

Tian Wee, best known as the owner of Gryphon Tea, shares the same sentiments. In 2016, he founded Ujong Gourmet, a sister brand under Gryphon Tea, as part of efforts to drive a renewed interest in the classic Southeast Asian coconut jam.

Purposeful Life experiences under The Enrich List include privately-guided, safari experiences with a focus on sustainability and conservation, mission trips to survey temples in Cambodia and journeys to Japan to preserve cultural heritage damaged by the 2011 earthquake.

Game Changers

Experiences in the Game Changers category are made for those who are looking to move out of their comfort zone both personally and professionally, as well as engage in self-discovery. They serve as a way for customers to get involved in experiences different to what they would usually be accustomed to, and also to inspire them to create something out of it.

We spoke to Simon Wong, co-founder of social enterprise Singapore Sidecar Vespa Tours. As a Vespa enthusiast, what started out as a charity project involving Vespas led to a business involving local heritage discovery. Referencing to the latest developments with AR and VR technology, he added, the Vespa experience is about to be enhanced through the use of tech to further enrich the guest experience

Pushing oneself to new limits is a detail that Valerie Boffy, co-founder of WOAM (Women on A Mission) resonates with as well. On this topic, she expressed, Each teammate pushes her limits, discovers new strength within whether these strengths are physical or mental. We bond around the challenge we learn together, we support each other during these expeditions hence growing, enriching ourselves and making the challenge multi-dimensional.

Partake in Game Changer experiences under The Enrich List, which comprises of a Sangha Retreat in the historic garden city of Suzhou, China with a bespoke Quantum Leadership course, an exploration of Art and even a course by Special Forces and Intelligence services among others.

Find out more about HSBC Jades Enrich Listhere.

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Most Recent Foster your heart, mind and soul with The Enrich List from HSBC Jade - Prestige Online

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House Calls: The in-home yoga teacher – NorthJersey.com

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Zeni Pepper, owner of Pure Bliss Yoga in Fort Lee, has enjoyed practicing yoga and meditation sinceshe was 15 years old. But she came to appreciate its benefits even more during her corporate law career, when yoga "helped me stay centered, sharp and calm," she says. She became a yoga teacher to find balance in her work and family life.

"Every aspect of teaching yoga, from the philosophical teachingsto the practical science and physical practice of yoga[to]... the fact that Iwas truly reaching and helping peopleresonated with me," she says. "It was my life calling."Pepper says that most of her instruction is to private clients.

Zeni Pepper(Photo: courtesy of Monty Knowles)

The home advantage:A lot of people are too busy to drive to a different town and find parking. Going to their homes makes consistent yoga practicing easier, and it's a more personal relationship. I can tailor my lesson to your needs.

Before a session:I ask about how youpractice, if you've done yoga before, what youwant to get from it andhow often youwant to practice.

Tools of the trade: For the first session, I bring props so I can demonstrate poses to the client, including a yoga mat, blocks, straps, my own music and speaker, and essential oils.

Typical session:We do warm-up movements and basic yoga poses to assess where clients are and what they need to work on; typically, this is for an hour.

Memorable experience:[It's rewarding] toseepeople age gracefully without losing much of their mobility, finding more balance and flexibility. I had an 80-year-old who did a tree pose standing on two blocks.

Bottom line:Yoga is not just a physical practice it affects the body, the mind, and the spirit.It is a wonderful tool for self-improvement.

pure-bliss-yoga.com; (201) 482-4271

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