I Read: Growth or Bust!: Proven Turnaround Strategies to Grow Your Business — Game-Changing Secrets From A Leading Corporate Strategist by Mark Faust

In the name of Allah, the All-Compassionate, the All-Merciful.

I’m just going to quickly write some notes from my reading of the book here.

First attribute of a great leader: The ability to get things done.

If a company is to succeed, you and everyone in your charge must come to work daily with an obsessive focus on bringing those aspirations to ground, on making a vision reality. (Santo J. Costa, 2011)

Marketing is: ‘The management process that profitably identifirs, anticipates, and satisfies what the customer values. Seeing the business from the customer’s point of view. This focus on what the customer values must permeate all areas of the enterprise.’ (Mark Faust, 2011)

Innovation is: ‘Change that creates a new dimension of performance.’ (Faust, 2011)

7 parts of building an innovation culture:

  1. Prioritise from the top down: Innovation is a top priority.
  2. Clarify your innovation values: Build innovation in company values, growth objectives, mission, and vision.
  3. Get all hands on deck: Management must require a minimum number of ideas to be turned in from every employee.
  4. Initially focus on quantity vs. quality: Research consistently proves that a quantity of ideas will beget better-quality ideas in the end.
  5. Consistently communicate implementation and successes: Always share implementation of ideas and feedback on the successes of those. implementations or lackthereof.
  6. Give specific and universal rewards: Individuals who recommend ideas that have significant impact to profits should be given significant rewards.
  7. Make innovation a Möbius strip: Innovation must be an ongoing process at sustainable levels.

7 innovation skills:

  1. Connecting the unconnected: The ability to connect two unconnected issues for a new solution or dynamic.
  2. Respectfully challenging the status quo: Great innovations come from someone asking a great question.
  3. Flipping: Taking a positiob or issue and flipping it (or your conversation or consideration about it) to the opposite view.
  4. Embracing constraints: Great questions create nonexistent constraints. False constraints challenge one’s mind to think of alternatives that it otherwise would not.
  5. Studying customers like a scientist: Genchi genbutsu, which means “going to the spot and seeing for yourself”.
  6. Experimenting: Share experiments, lessons learned, failures, and successes.
  7. Networking: “The insights required to solve many of our most challengig problems come from outside our industry and scientific field. We must aggressively and proudly incorporate into our work, findings, and advances which were not invented here.”

SMART objectives are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Accountable
  • Realistically challenging
  • Timed

Focus on quarter-by-quarter progress and realignment: keeping perspectives with the seasons.

Assess your customers’ impressions:

  • How satisfied are they with your service?
  • How does your service impression compare with the competition’s service impression?
  • Where are your service strengths and improvement opportunities?
  • What will it take to improve the service impressions you are making, and what is the value of that improved service to the customer?

What makes the best impressions on your customers:

  • Prompt response to the first phone call
  • Thoroughness in communication
  • Frequency of communication
  • Service promises and commitments
  • Accessibility to the top

Blocking off Focus Hours on your calendar for strategic non-urgent growth and turnaround work ensures that more non-urgent high-priority work gets done. Trear these hours like you have clocked into the production line to ensure zero interruptions. Strstegic plans become useless unless the required work hits someone’s calendar or to-do list. (Faust, 2011)

Using priority management to accomplish the turnaround strategy: Knowing our ‘A’s and ‘B’s and 1-2-3s — Create a list of only six items a day, to prioritise it, and to work through it in priority every day.

Ask, don’t tell to get more growth (Socratic Stretch). Because people tend to support that which they help you to create, you will get more buy-in by geting your team to set the targets rather than you telling them what you think they should be. Socratically sell your team; don’t tell your team the potential. (Faust, 2011)

The challenge you may be facing in managing a team of diverse talent, experience, and confidence is that you can’t be sure whom on your team succeeds unintentionally, and who is truly achieving on their intent. (Faust, 2011)

Stretch 100: Achieving three-year objectives within 100 days instead. However, it is okay for the team to fail in achieving them. At the same time, if achieved, the team is not expected to replicate the same result in the next cycle.

What matters to the top leader:

  • The priority of significant growth and how everyone can contribute to accelerating the company’s progress toward aggressive growth goals.
  • The power, influence, and importance of the sales team’s efforts and input regarding bringing on larer and higher-quality customers, and how sales can contribute in other ways that will help to grow profits and revenues.
  • That his door is always open for anyone who has important insights on how we could grow sales.
  • That she is eager to become personally involved in helping to close large deals or speak to other C-level executives with prospective new business, in phone calls, meetings, or whatever she can reasonably contribute in the effort to grow sales.
  • That sales is as critical a function of the company as any other part of the company.

Best practices of top-echelon executives:

  • Going on key account calls and priority selling opportunities.
  • Being involved in recognising and delivering incentives with the sales team.
  • Listening to the sales team for input on how to improve issues with the company and within the selling process and sales support.

A look at the leader: Five impediments to turnaround and growth:-

  1. Pride
  2. Abusive relationships
  3. Gossiping
  4. Greed
  5. Any of the five dysfunctions in the principle of authority:

i. Lack of clear authority structure.

ii. Lack of respect for the chain of command.

iii. The inability to communicate up the ladder without fear of retribution.

iv. The lack of checks and balances.

v. Megalomania and rebellion.

There is no virtue in leadership as important to accelerated growth and turnaround as that of humility. (Faust, 2011)

The call of the leader: You have a responsibility to the families that depend on your company. Carpe diem.

And Allah is Al-Hasib, the Reckoner. -MM

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I Read: Dakwah Secara Terbuka — Khadijah: The True Love Story of Muhammad (Bahasa Indonesia)

In the name of Allah, the most Beneficent, the most Merciful.

This chapter examines the period of time whereby Muhammad (peace be upon him) was spreading the message of Islam openly instead of limiting it to only family and friends. It was quite a dangerous and trying time.

Therefore, it was fascinating to see that as one of the many trials that a married couple might have to undergo. Imagine our suffering brothers and sisters in places like Aleppo, Gaza, and Syria… having to part with their partners with genuine worry for their safety, not knowing if they will come back home. That must have been what Khadijah (blessings be upon her) went through went Muhammad was pretty much a walking target. The fact that his own uncle, Abu Jahal, wanted to kill him with a boulder, emphasises just how dangerous it became for him.

Yet, we have couples arguing over petty issues, augmented by lack of effective communication, personal egos, and maybe in the first place, lack of genuine love for each other.

What I really like was the author wondering if Khadijah actually sent her daughter Fatimah (blessings be upon her) to spy on the enemies of Islam and inform the family should there be plans to endanger her father, Muhammad. That was pretty intelligent of Khadijah if that was so. What I can take away from this is that as a potential wife, I will need to be intelligent in handling affairs like Khadijah. Also, this is very important to note, perhaps it is okay to collect intelligence and information about our husbands. However, do so if there is genuine concern for his safety and well-being. Do not spy on him unnecessarily, really. I think that is possibly damaging to the relationship when you keep on trying to actualise something that was never there. I mean that in terms of always being suspicious of the husband cheating on you when he really doesn’t.

So yeah, moral of the story is, be intelligent in handling affairs.

And He is Knower of all things. – MM

I Read: Fase Awal Penyebaran Islam — Khadijah: The True Love Story of Muhammad (Bahasa Indonesia)

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

This chapter discusses the early phase of the spread of Islam. Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) spent a lot of time — to put it simply — meditating at the mountains and valleys near Mecca. One day, while he was ay the valley, the angel Gabriel came to him and taught him the way to pray.

I am just sidetracking here; it would have been great if camcorders had already been invented at that time. Currently, there are over 20 variations of the mandatory prayer and only one is the accurate one as exemplified by Gabriel to Muhammad. Alas, unless we make the effort to research on praying just like Muhammad, we might not know.

Back to my actual point of interest — Khadijah’s relationship with Muhammad — Khadijah was the first person to carry out the mandatory prayer after Muhammad and with him. That shows us just how deep her love and support for Muhammad is. She did not simply show her support for him as a messenger of God through her words but also through her actions. That is what a wife should for her husband.

Another lesson we can take away from this is that Allah deliberately chose Khadijah to be the first follower of Islam. Remember, Khadijah is a woman yet her status transcends the average man. That is how much women are valued in Islam so it is very disheartening when gender discourse pertaining to the treatment of women in Islam are framed within negative contexts.

And He is Knower of all things. – MM

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I Read: Risalah Kenabian — Khadijah: The True Love Story of Muhammad (Bahasa Indonesia)

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

This chapter talks about the period of time when Muhammad (peace be upon him) became a Prophet.

His daughters were growing up well and fast, with the author of the book attributing this fact to the love and attention that the Prophet and his wife gave to them.

Khadijah started getting Zainab who was about eight years old to help her out with the house chores and taking care of her younger sisters, especially the youngest, Fatimah, who was only a toddler.

What I really like about this is the exemplary parenting style. Yes, Muhammad and Khadijah have servants but they still carry out some of the house chores themselves so that their servants will not be overworked. Then they got their children to help out as well. What this does for children is that they are taught to have a sense of responsibility. A lot of parents these days, and I am speaking out of a teacher’s standpoint, tend to overlook the importance of non-academic lessons such as self-help skills, virtues, and so on. If you are able to impart values to your children from a very young age, it will be easier for you during their adolescence and adulthood.

That aside, you have to marvel at Khadijah’s strength to raise her children and at the same time provide the emotional support Muhammad needs when he thought he has gone crazy after the angel Jibril (Gabriel) revealed to him the message from Allah — that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.

Any other woman would have probably accused Muhammad of having gone crazy, albeit jokingly. However, Khadijah having complete faith in the goodness of her husband, reassured Muhammad that he has not gone insane. She also took him to her cousin Waraqah, who had read the Old Scriptures (in simpler understanding, the authentic Bible and maybe even Torah), which told of the last prophet sent to mankind. Waraqah confirmed that it is true the final prophet was to be sent to mankind to guide them back to the right path and that Muhammad showed many signs of prophethood.

This shows that Khadijah is very proactive. She took necessary steps to resolving a problem instead of feigning ignorance or denial.

There are many things we can learn from their relationship and the character of this great woman in Islam.

And He is Knower of all things. – MM

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I Read: Rumah Tangga Muhammad dan Khadijah — Khadijah: The True Love Story of Muhammad (Bahasa Indonesia) by Abdul Mun’im Muhammad

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

In this chapter, we get a closer look at the household affairs of Muhammad (peace be upon him) and Khadijah (blessings be upon her). Muhammad took the role of the breadwinner by continuing Khadijah’s business while she looks after the needs of her husband and children. It is what she preferred doing as a wife. Although they have servants to do household chores, they still help out at home, not allowing their servants to be burdened by the workload.

I think this sets the tone of an ideal household. The man manages the work aspect but at the same time does his share of the housework while the woman manages the home aspect but at the same time supports the man’s efforts in work. There is also nothing wrong in engaging domestic help but care has to be taken in not overworking them either.

Khadijah was also portrayed in this chapter to have similar thought processes like any wife — being concerned over having children and meeting the needs of the husband and children. Her worries were mostly based on being afraid of disappointing her husband. This is something men should note — women are not worry warts because they simply are. Rather, they love their husbands so much that they hate to disappoint and husbands would do well to assuage their wives’ fears. Khadijah at one point was quite depressed (this is the feeling I get from reading the book) due to not giving her husband more sons and the death of their first son together at a young age of two just increased that sadness. However, Muhammad never tire of cheering her up and being that, in my own words, emotional rock that every woman needs to be honest. In fact, he was so attuned to his wife’s sensitivity that he was afraid she would break down when she gave birth to their last daughter, Fatimah (blessings be upon her), as he knew very well she was afraid of disappointing him. Instead, he was glad to find her overjoyed that Fatimah resembled Muhammad the most out of all of their children.

At the time of Fatimah’s birth, Muhammad was 35 and Khadijah was 50. They had spent 10 years together as husband and wife. The fact that their marriage, under circumstances highlighted in the previous chapter, lasted that long shows that it is down to the couple themselves that decide the longevity of a marriage. Many things can happen, especially trials and tribulations that may potentially hurt the marriage but if both husband and wife are able to support each other emotionally, then it can definitely last long.

Another interesting thing about this married couple is their sense of social responsibility. They often spared a thought about others who are less fortunate and also looked out for their family members, especially during an economic crisis in Mecca.

I cannot help but see that the household of Muhammad and Khadijah is very well-balanced. Unfortunately, we metropolitan Muslims and Muslimahs struggle to achieve a good balance our everyday lives but persevere, we must.

And He is Knower of all things. – MM

I Read: Pernikahan Muhammad dan Khadijah — Khadijah: The True Love Story of Muhammad (Bahasa Indonesia) by Abdul Mun’im Muhammad

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

In line with my resolutions this year, I have decided to polish up on my Sirah by reading this book. It is in Bahasa Indonesia, which makes it a good opportunity for me to brush up my language skills. I have only started to read the first chapter, which talked about the marriage of Muhammad (peace be upon him) and Khadijah (blessings be upon her).

In short, the chapter gives us insight into the profiles of Muhammad and Khadijah. They were both good people with good character and good families. Khadijah was a virtuous woman and was well-known for her wealth as well in Mecca. She worked hard as a single mother, managing her business and raising her children from her previous two marriages.

To me, the fact that she dealt with men as a businesswoman, shows that women should have the right to work as an employer and not just as an employee and that interactions between the two gender should not be a problem. Business interactions should also be respectful instead of discriminatory or flirtatious. Therefore, Khadijah actually makes a very good role model for women, especially to Muslimahs — in the personal aspect and the business aspect.

Khadijah needed someone to manage her business in Syam, which at that time constituted of Syria and neighbouring places like Lebanon and Jordan. Muhammad’s integrity as a man was well-known in the city. Khadijah got wind of it and hired him to manage her business.

This made me think about a female as a boss. We have often debated about whether male bosses are better or female bosses are better. This story confirms for me that it is actually okay for a man to work for a female boss. Again, the relationship between both genders in the case of employer-employee should also be a healthy and respectful one. In the end, it does not matter what the gender is as long as the employer is of good character.

The chapter went on to reveal the instances which made Khadijah fall in love with Muhammad. Now, it is very interesting to note that Khadijah grew fond of Muhammad and she was the one who initiated their marital union. At that time, the Arabs believe that women should wait for the men to propose. In fact even in this day and age, that belief resonates around the world. However, Khadijah believed that she had the right to choose her life partner. This is an important aspect of Islamic teachings as well — that females have the right to choose and refuse their suitors. Not their parents. Not their guardians. Not their brothers. However, the West tend to either overlook this or believe otherwise. It does not help that there are Muslims who practice forced marriages today. The fact is women in Islam have the right to marry the permissible suitors of their choice. Islam also does not forbid women from proposing to men.

Personally, I have on occasions revealed my feelings to guys I liked. Although none of my efforts were fruitful and it did feel upsetting when they were not requited, I have to admit it feels right to be able to make such choices.

The chapter also highlighted the age difference between Muhammad and Khadijah. Khadijah was 40 years old while Muhammad was 25 years old. Islam permits such union. However, our society in general have either twisted outlooks on it or attached a stigma to it.

Personally, I am noting 25 years of age as an ideal age to marry. Unfortunately, I have just passed that age but it is okay. I am not burdened by the lack of marriage prospects. One day, Insya Allah, I will have a blissful marriage like Khadijah.

Muhammad was initially hesitant to accept the proposal to marry Khadijah as he had no riches and was worried that he would not be able to support her and he felt that she deserved better. However, he was eventually convinced by the middle person sent by Khadijah, Nafisah binti Umayyah, who conveyed the marriage proposal and incidentally became one of the key figures in the spread of Islam.

It just shows to me that if Allah wills it, none can go against it so no matter your conditions, if marriage is to be for you, it will happen. Hence, I have also relaxed considerably in my pursuit of marriage. I do not fear deprivation.

And He is Knower of all things. – MM