Archive for the ‘2000_Learning’ Category

Free Learning Resources to Help You to Become a SAP Successfactors Consultant

May 19, 2015

I will collect all relevant resources in the best sequence to help you to become a SAP successfactors consultant. Additionally you find my notes on what I have learned from these free resources.

Becoming a SuccessFactors SaaS Consultant Part 1

What I have learned from this video:

Luke Marson wrote a blog post about the skillsets a SaaS Consultant should have.
In on-premise projects there are 5-10 different roles from program manager to hardware consultant while in a SaaS Project all is covered by just one person. This person needs to understand the business process, the technology and how to configure it, how to problem solve, how security works and how to secure data. The person also needs  to know how to manage the project. In summary this SaaS consultant needs a broad knowledge at a relevant level.

Jarret Pazahanick says people underestimate what it takes to learn to become a cloud consultant. A consultant works usually on multiple projects, two to three at the same time which is different to the on-premise projects. The work is done more and more remotely. The person needs to apply agile project management methodology. To have business process knowledge is great, but that is not what the business hires a consultant for. They have the knowledge themselves. After three weeks of training in successfactors and getting certified a consultant cannot lead immediately a workshop at the client. The client will ask very specific questions if the system can do this and that and how the consultant would recommend to setup this. These questions are best answers by a consultant who has done several successfactors projects. His recommendation is to join an experienced consultant for a few projects in order to learn before the new consultant leads his or her own project.
The consultant also needs to keep up with the new releases. SuccessFactors has 4 releases per year. Change is a constant and it is so much faster compared on-premise software. Every release comes with 200-300 powerpoint slides about changes. This person needs to have the aptitude of a life-long learner to keep up with this pace of learning.

Becoming a SuccessFactors SaaS Consultant Part 2

What I learned from this video:

John Reed: Do you need industry specific knowledge?
Jarret Pazahanick: Industry specific knowledge is not need in HR, there are only small nuances. There are bigger differences between the different SuccessFactors modules. A consultant needs to know about recruiting or learning. So most consultant focus on a niche area and not the whole spectrum of HR and successfactors modules. Yet areas compared the on-premise HCM solutions are pushed together.  If you take for example Successfactors Employee Central which is Core HR the consultant needs to do personal administration, organisational management, employee self service, manager self service, workflow and security. In the on-premise HCM world this was done by 4-5 different consultants.

Staying compliant is much easier now with the cloud solution. Changes in country laws are reflected always in the latest version.

When hiring a consulting firm there can be huge price differences. SaaS Implementation are much cheaper than what customers expect. You need less consultants than before and they can do much more work remotely. Companies purchasing these services still need to learn this.

Jarret Pazahanick focuses on Employee Central and Employee Central Payroll.

Training for non successfactors partner ?

SAP Learning Hub costs 3500 USD / Year to use the learning material.
You need provisioning rights to use SuccessFactors. You get the rights only if are certified.

It costs 500 USD to take the certification exam. You can do it from your office or home.
The certification exam can be taken without having gone through the SAP Learning Hub.

After the certification the consultant will have to take a delta exam twice a year.

Luke Marson is a certified Employee Central Successfactors consultant.

Luke Marson’s Blog and Jarret Pazahanick’s Blog.
And visit the SuccessFactors Useful Resources and Documents maintained by Luke Marson.

You will find a summary of the key skills in Thoughts on the SuccessFactors consultant skillset by Luke Marson

What I learned from this article:

The most successful of SuccessFactors consultants should be able to understand and manage:

  • Customer needs and challenges
  • Business processes
  • Product capabilities
  • Configuration
  • Security and authorization
  • Extensibility
  • Integration
  • Soft skills: creative, problem solver
  • To create process or configuration workarounds need to understand logical calculations and rules
  • Able to create complex business rules in SuccessFactors

Recommended Book:
SuccessFactors with SAP ERP HCM: Business Processes and Use (2nd Edition)

openSAP An Introduction to SuccessFactors Solutions

This course is aimed at HR Business Partners, people managers, and executive leaders who want to improve their overall HCM strategy.

The course starts at Thursday, May 28, 2015 09:00 (UTC) to Thursday, July 02, 2015 21:00 (UTC).
I have signed up for it. And of course if permitted I will write about what I have learned.

Successfactors Training Sessions

SAP SuccessFactors Online Training Demo | SAP SuccessFactors Overview

What I have learned from this video:

User based licensing fee for Successfactors. Walmart with 2 Million users is the bigget customer.  Successfactors supports 53 languages.

If you use the Talent management solution you need to provide the employee masterdata to the Successfactors cloud solution. See the next video below 2015 02 04 19 59 SAP Successfactors Online Training Feb Batch on how to import the employee master data. This is called the data integration concept.

You can also run with Netweaver in a hybrid setup with your existing on-premise SAP system. This is called process integration as you will move between the SAP Screens and the Successfactors screens in the talent management process. You have single sign on via your Netweaver portal.

Successfactors supports 4 main processes:

the core HR process

Talent Management

Social Collaboration


The different modules can be grouped in three categories:

Employee Transaction Management: Core HR, Payroll, Benefits administration (Strategic Partnership with Benefitfocus) , Time & Attendance (Strategic Partnership with WorkForce Software)

Talent Management: Performance Management, Goals Management, Compensation, Recruiting, Learning, Social Collaboration, Succession

Workforce Intelligence: Workforce Analytics, Workforce Planning

Everything can be accessed via the Successfactors home page. The user can setup the homepage individually by moving around the tiles, display new ones or remove them from the home page. There is no limit to the amount of tiles on this page. The Company Logo can be customized.

The admin can search for employees, configuration notes and data maintenance notes.

Every Screen has a show me option. The admin can record a video (max. 5 min) to show how to use the particular tile, how to navigate in this section for the end user.

Add new employee is used to run the hiring process in Successfactors.

The configuration of Successfactors is now template driven. In the template the admin can set the authorization for fields or for steps.

2015 02 04 19 59 SAP Successfactors Online Training Feb Batch

What I have learned from this video:

How to create users in the talent management system:

You need to enter the login credentials for the provisioning system from Successfactors. Use the company ID. This company ID is unique for each customers.

Go to the Company Instance/Settings.

First setup the superadmin for the provisioning system.

The superadmin will then login into the instance and create all the other users.

Then on the main home page choose Admin Tools from the Home Menu.

On the admin tools page go to the Manage Employees pane.

Click on the icon Update User Information and select from the menu Manage Users.

Then click on the button Add New Users and choose Quick Add.

You need to fill all fields for the new user. If there is no manager assigned yet put in no manager. The same applies to the HR Manager field.

If you Detailed Add Users you have more fields such as telephone number. Not all fields are required to be filled.

Before you can add users you have to setup the companies, divisions and department – the org structure and the job codes. This is all done by the superadmin in the provisioning system.

The other way to create users is to use the employee import feature. The system will give you a blank template. You upload the csv file with the employee records after you have clicked first the button validate file.

How to configure the system?

In Admin Tools choose Manage Templates. No need to work on the XML files.

2015 02 16 20 04 SAP Successfactors Online Training Intro Mastery Module

What I have learned from this video:

How to work on the XML files?

Example Employee Files. Choose from Admin Tools Menu the menu item employee files.

Select Profile from Public Profile drop down list. In this example the personal information  tile will be customized.

In SuccessFactors you have two data models:

the corporate data model –  this contains enterprise/org.  ex. company, location, business units

the succession data model –  this contains employee data/personal details

The data model are maintained in the provisioning system.

In the provisioning system home page go to the section Succession Management.

Select Import/Export Data Model.

Download the data model from the provisioning system. Open the data model file with a XML editor.

Remark: you get the latest data model file on the Successfactors partner website which you load for the first time into the provisioning system.

Use table view in your XML editor. Then  look at the standard elements.

In this table you see the fields ,their label and properties.

Next look at the element-permissions table. If you put * in a cell in the role name column everyone with access to the successfactors system in that company will be able to read the content in that fields. In the standard elements ref column you see all the fields this rule applies to.

Remark: if you want to get into the details of permissions read the article

Successfactors all you need to know about authorizations and security

Next you can define the fields that can be edited and by which groups of employees. Change the word read in the first column to the word edit. In the role name column you can put for examples employees only, write an E instead of * or employees managers EM, or the employee managers manager EM+ or HR for the HR representative, etc…

If you want a user to write to a field put write in the first column.

To limit the number of fields a certain user group for example can write to you need to go in the section of the XML source file and look for the tag element-permission type = write and delete below all tags that you want to exclude for this employee group.

If you want additional fields that the user can write to just copy these field in the source code to the element-permission type = write section.

If you want to have two different employee groups for example employees and HR to be able to write to the same fields you need to copy the row in your employee permission table.

In one row you put the first group E for employees and in the copied row you put HR.

2015 02 17 20 04 SAP Successfactors Online Training Intro Mastery Module

What I have learned from this video:

How to change the layout of the employ profile?

Go to Admin Tools, click Employee Files and select Configure Employee Files.

You can now configure  what views should be displayed in which order.

Click on the profile view.  In there you can configure the portlets.

Click on the edit button of the  Live Profile User Information portlet.

Now you can edit the fields. You change the order of how the fields are displayed.

You can add new fields and you can also delete fields.

In data model xml file the pii column (5th column)indicates if the content of the field is stored as secure data. Put true. The data will be encrypted and stored in a database and on the end user screen it will displayed **** with the star character.

If you want to add a editable custom field give it a  name in the  ref-id column (last row). Then check if the field is displayed to the employee group in the element-permission type = write. If not you need to copy in the section of your xml source code.

In the xml file you can also configure what characters the field accepts and at what positions. For example the first 4 characters should be letters and the next three should be numbers. You need to search for set id of the field. You can also define own rules how the data is verified.

Each time you make a change to the data model and import it into the provisioning system in order to see the changes in the instance of the SuccessFactor System you work on you need to log out and then in again. The same applies for all other configurations you do in the SuccessFactor instance.

How to display a drop down list (pick list) in SuccessFactors?

Go to the xml source code and add to your field the element tag . In this video example the name is employeehobbylist.

To populate this picklist  with items you need to go to your SuccessFactors instance.

Go to AdminTools, click Employee Files and select Configure Employee Files. Go the Profile View and edit the Live Profile User Information portlet. You need to add the new picklist field.

To populate the list go to the AdminTools in the Tool Search enter Picklist Management.

Then export all picklists. How to populate the picklist will be shown in the next video.

2015 02 18 20 02 SAP Successfactors Online Training Intro Mastery Module

What I have learned from this video:

How to populate the picklist?

You need the name, the id of the picklist. In the example see the video before this one the id is employeehobbylist.

Open the exported picklist file in excel. In the first column you see the picklist id.

Now enter the picklist id employeehobbylist in the first column. The Optionid in the second column will be later generated by the system. In the columns minValue, maxValue and Value enter -1. In the Status column write ACTIVE. If you put inactive this item will not be shown in your picklist. No external code needed. Leave this field empty. Enter -1 for parent option. In the next column en_US enter the first item. In this example Reading.

Then copy the row and insert it below the first row. Enter in the column en_US the next item. In this example Singing. Continue in the same way until you have entered all the items for your picklist.

At the end save this csv file.

Then go back to the SuccessFactors and import this picklist csv file. You find the import function on the same page as the export function.

After the import the system will need 1-2 minutes to process the file.

How to work with picklists that will show items based on the item the user has picked in another picklist. Let’s take the example where the user selects a country in the first picklist and in the next picklist needs to select one of the states in that country. In this case you need the option ID number that was automatically created for that country and enter this number in all the parent option  fields of the states for this country in your picklist csv file.

The external code column is used to align with another system such as in a hybrid setup.

For the past 15 days SuccessFactors will keep a backup.

In case you made a mistake in your picklist file you can recover the data.

SuccessFactors Certification for Employee Central and Learning (LMS) is open for everyone. The compensation modul certification is only open to SuccessFactors Partner.

How to configure your email notifications?

Go to AdminTools, click Company Settings and select E-Mail Notification Templates Settings. You will see a list of all E-Mail Notifications.

There you can activate all the notifications you want to use.

How do you load your E-Mail notifications from your legacy system?

Click on one of the E-Mail notifications in the list. Use the browse button to select the relevant E-Mail notification. Then click the Upload Template File button.

How to configure security settings?

Go to AdminTools , click Company Settings and select Password & Login Policy Settings.

In the provisioning system you setup the IP range. On the home page scroll down. After the section Google Applications and SF LMS you will find a field to enter the IP range.

How to configure company specific terminology?

Go to AdminTools. In Tool Search enter Text Replacement.

Enter your replacement text in the relevant fields.

2015 02 19 20 03 SAP Successfactors Online Training Intro Mastery Module

What I have learned from this video:

In the admin tool go to company settings. Go to email notification settings. There you can change your email signature. Click on Email signature.

Hybrid Modell implementation

1) File integration: Manual or Automation

2) Dell Boomi Cloud Atmosphere Integration Tool

3)  PI/XI/PO

4) Informatica Cloud

5) Jitter Bit

6) Cast Iron

2)-6) The successfactors consultant is not responsible for. The integration consultant is.

There is a SF(SuccessFactors) add 3.0 for SAP HCM to automate the import and export of data between the system.

To see what data you can import or export to SF go to admin tool and enter the word import in the tool search. Do the same for export. It will list all functions.

To automate log-in to  the provisioning system. Then from  the section Managing Job  Scheduler select Manage Scheduled Jobs. Then create new job option. Choose Job Type from the drop-down menu.

If you have new customized fields added in SF you need the SAP Consultant with ABAP skills do add the same custom fields in SAP HCM.

You can also use FTP to exchange data.

In the Managed Schedules Jobs all scheduled jobs are listed. You can run them at anytime by clicking Select and choose run it now.

If you choose monitor job you can see how each job has performed.

For realtime or exchange of data in another  format you need to use middleware see  point 2)-6).

Implementation Phases: Prepare / Realize / Verify / Launch

There is a section on how to match job roles  to competencies. This will be explained much better in the next two videos below. (related to 2105 02 27 and 2015  03 04).

2015 02 20 20 06 SAP Successfactors Online Training Intro Mastery Module

What I have learned from this video:

Workforce Analytics Modul:

If it is not activitated there will be no reporting available in the SuccessFactors instance.

How to activate it?

In the provisioning system home page click company settings.

Scroll to the section Analytics and Dashboards Tabs & Misc Reporting.

In this section scroll to the Analytics Tab section. Then activate the four items

Last Views (Dashboard Drilling), Spotlights View, Spreadsheet Reports and Classic Reporting.

Then activate Dashboards 1.0 and Workflow Status and Score Distribution. Also activate the Reporting W2 below and Enable Schedule Export from List Views.

If you want to build custom reports you can activate Ad Hoc Report iBuilder Standard Reports and Ad Hoc Report iBuilder.  And select the SuccessFactors Moduls and other categories (Rating Scale, etc.) below you want to build customize reports for.

How do you grant Admin Privileges to other consultants for a specific modul?

Go to AdminTools, click Set User Permissions and select Administrative Privileges.

Search for a username. Select the modul.

How to grant an employee view rights to the reports?

Go to Admin Tools, click Reporting and you will see a various permissions to choose from.

How to restrict the views for employees?

You can also restrict the view based on the location of the user. An user for example  in one country should not see the report  from the other country.

Go to AdminTools, click Reporting and select Detailed Reporting Privileges. You can restrict the view based on Divisions, Departments, Location and HR Function.

If you want to restrict a group of employees just click on the drop down list next to Find and select the group there for example With Direct Reports Only (Manager).

Where do you find the different reports?

Go to Reporting – your analytics modul. Click on the Analytics menu and on the page you will see all the available reports in the report center. You also see the 4 different types of reports listed.

In the video the trainer also explains how to create a list view report.

You can also schedule the export of these reports. If you have activated the relevant email notification an email will be send otherwise you can go the reporting center and select in the left menu Scheduled Reports to view your report.

2015 02 23 20 03 SAP Successfactors Online Training Intro Mastery Module

What I have learned from this video:

How to use the analytics portal?

Go to AdminTools, form the menu choose Reports then click on Analytics.

On this page select in the left menu Ad Hoc Reports.

There you have the option to create a new report (Button).

Click on the button Create New Report.

You then have the option to choose between the Single Domain and Cross Domain Report Types.

Choose Single Domain.

The Domain represents a modul in SuccessFactors. If you click on the picklist Report Definition type all available domains will be listed.

In this example the trainer chooses the domain Employee Profile.

Then click on the button Create.

In this example the report name Feb Employee Profile Adhoc Report is entered.

There you can choose the Report  Priority – Low, Medium, High.

Then save.

Next click on People.

Then select Detailed Reporting Rights.

Tick Include inactive users.

Then save.

Click on Columns.

Here you select what fields to display on the screen.

Click the button Select Columns.

In this example the trainer selects Username, First Name, Middle Name, Last Name, Email, Country, Address 1, Address 2, City, State, Zip Code and Divisions.

Then save.

No need to do anything in the configurations screen.

In the last step select Filters.

Here you can choose based on a column a filter. For example you want to filter on certain division in the company or a specific city.

In this example the filter is on the Country column.

Select By Rule Equal to USA. If you wish you can add multiple conditions.

Click Done to save it.

You can also add more filters to the report.

Click Generate.

The report will be displayed.

You will  find the on the Ad Hoc Reports page in the analytics tool the name of your report in the list of all the ad hoc reports created.

2015 02 27 20 04 SAP Successfactors Online Training Intro Mastery Module 

What I have learned from this video:

Performance Plan and Goal Plan

How to activate the Goal Management Modul in SuccessFactors?

Go to the provisioning systems home page and click on company settings.

Then scroll down to Goal Frameworks and activate Goal Management Suite. Below

from the drop down menu choose Total Goal Management.

Additionally you can choose what User Interface the system should use. You have the latest version Enable Goal Management V12 – requires Version 12 UI framework (Revolution) or the TGM Version 10 UI.

If you want to enable Goal Transfer to allow managers to cascade their goals to their employees or to allow employees to transfer their goals to another employee you need to activate TGM/CDP Goal Transfer Wizard.

If you have employees goals in another system and you want those to import into SuccessFactors you need to select Goal Import.

There is also a special tab based view on goals for employees. If you want to have this type of goal representation you need to choose My Goals Tab – For V10 and Ultra.

If you want to assign goals to a group of people you need to activate Enable Group Goals 2.0  and Enable target population for group goals. And if you want to include inactive users as well you need to additionally tick Enable Group Goals 2.0 Push-down Update to Inactive Users.

Inactive Users can be employees on maternity leave or on an extensive holiday. By changing those into inactive users you do not pay license fees for these users during this time.

Activate the GM – PM Sync-up. If the a goal changes this should automatically change in the performance management modul as well.

In the Goal Plan Template you define what categories should be used, what fields should be displayed in the goal plan form, what permission is set for the fields and what are the route maps.

I learned how the end user will enter a new goal with the Goal Wizard.

2015 03 04 20 03 SAP Successfactors Online Training Intro Mastery Module

What I have learned from this video:

Import Goals with the Goal plan file template in a csv format to the Successfactors instance. ID of the file has to be same as the XML Template loaded to the provisioning system before.

Go to Admin Tools, click the Goal Management icon and select the Import Goals option. After the import validate if the goals have been assigned correctly to the users.

Select one user and then select in switch plan the correct goal plan template to show the goals for the user.

Next you need to load the file with job family and roles and competencies. Go to Admin Tools,click the icon Company Settings, select Import job roles. Then import the relevant csv file. It can take 1 to 2 minutes to load.

Go to Admin Tools and search for Manage Job Roles. You will get an overview of all the job families. If you click on job family you will then go the screen where all the roles of this job family are listed. When you click on the role it will open the page where it shows the required competencies for this role.

Next is to link the jobcode to the paygrade. Go to Admin Tools, click the Compensation Icon, select Actions for all plans, from the menu Salary Plans choose Job Code & Pay Grade Mapping. Then you load the csv file with job codes and the pay grades.

Next is to setup Performance Management by adjusting the rating scale for each country.
Go To Admin Tools, click Company Settings and select Rating Scale Designer.

After this step you need to Manage Route Maps. Go to Admin Tools, click Company Settings and Manage Route Maps. Here you define the people involved in the review process and the time Iines. Example: Employee Review, Manager Review and CompAdmin Review.

In the next step you load PM form template. Go to Admin Tools, select Performance Management and choose Form Template Settings. Then import the relevant xml template file.

Go to Admin Tools, click Performance Management and select  Manage Templates.

Then go to the Tab Performance Review. Your new template will be listed there.

Open the relevant PM Form Template. Choose Edit Fields and Sections and click Performance Goals. See here if the right Goal Plan Template is linked.

Go to Admin Tools, click Performance Management and select Launch Forms.

Choose the right Performance Template from the drop down list. Select the right dates. Then in the next step select the group of employees for example based on location. It will take  1 to 2 minutes to launch the form to all users. Then go to one of the users and select from the menu Home Performance. You should find the launched form in the list.

Scribble CaseStudy – Can a Amateur Like Me Learn to Write a Viral Blog Post?

May 11, 2015

Is it really possible to learn how to create viral content or is it sheer luck? Does is need a magic gift that only few possess or is true craftsmanship ?

I wrote this blog post for all those amateur bloggers like myself. My goal is to have a proven methodology, a validated process, the right tools and all the key ingredients in one place. So whenever I set out to write my next “viral” content I do not have to put all the relevant bits and pieces of advice from various resources together.

I have come across a number of very good research and case studies lately. These insights also confirmed to me to incorporate the experiences of Leonardo Da Vinci. He followed a very systematic approach in order to create the most famous paintings.

For Leonardo Da Vinci patience is the first key ingredients to mastery. Most painters he observed where rushing to complete their paintings instead of having the patience to focus on the quality of their drawing.

The second key ingredients is science. He measured intensively all the objects and human beings to find out about their  proportions. He studied people until he identified the key face muscles involved in their emotions.

Up until a few days ago though I believed that viral content is either created by magician with a divine gift or pure luck. Then I came across a blog post with the title “Case Study: How to Increase Your Traffic by 226% in Just 60 Days” by  on (350 Total Shares – Buzzsumo) . Guy Kawasaki had shared this case study on Linkedin. The title itself  isn’t really attractive, yet the content is. It changed my view and got me exited to dig deeper into the subject.

 on shared his research insights on what makes a blog post become viral.

In summary it is:
– Length of content:  2000-2500 words
– A Case study performs better than author advice
– Number of Images: 15+ and they need to be relevant
– Lists perform better than feature articles
– Titles should be long and descriptive
– The author should have credibility in his domain

At least I am very credible. I have never a written a blog post in my entire blogger life of seven years that went viral. I didn’t even write one blog post that was shared by anyone except myself.

I was intrigued. Can someone like me learn to write a viral blog post at all or am I a lost case? The article is full of practical and extremely useful advice, but I was lacking answers still to a number of questions.

What is the effort required to write such a long and sharable article?
What additional research tools do I need to create the content for this article?
Where do I find all these relevant pictures for my post?
What is the threshold when a blog post is considered to be a viral one?
What are all the process steps from beginning to end?

Well, I started to dig deeper into the subject and found this article “Why Content Goes Viral: What Analyzing 100 Million Articles Taught Us” by Noah Kagan at OkDork. 7200 Shares on social media (buzzsumo)

It is a research done by Buzzsumo.
Their conclusion is:

  1. Inspire awe, laughter, or amusement.
  2. Appeal to people’s narcissistic side (think BuzzFeed quizzes)
  3. Long-form content has less competition, and more shares on average. 2000 words+
  4. List posts and infographics are more likely to be shared.
  5. Make sure your article inspires trust. Have a byline, and bio. Make sure you have a professional logo and design as well.
  6. Mix text with visually appealing elements.
  7. Implement social metadata such as the Facebook preview image
  8. Reach out to influencers before you write your content.
  9. Promote your articles after it’s been published for a week
  10. Tuesday is the best day to publish and promote content

In the next step I look even further into the research. There is one researcher that stands out – Jonah Berger.
Include a short description of his research and his book. Contagious… written by Jonah Berger + Kary Milkman and their research “What Makes Online Content Go Viral?” link to PDF Research

Also John Doherty What Kind of Content Gets Links in 2012 showed that long posts over 2000 words receive more links.

Lot’s of more great findings what the characteristics of a viral blog posts are. But still again what is the best way to put those into practice? I decided first of all to work on a concrete example. This is the best way for me to learn new concepts and methods. At the end of this journey I want to have a blog post that has all the potential to turn into a viral one.

For my project I chose the topic of Learning To Read Chinese. Oh, wow how attractive is that? Noop. Definitely there needs to be some more magic sauce to this title. But this is something left to the end of the journey towards the viral blog post.

What is viral ? How do you measure it ?

Before I set out on the journey I need to understand what are the key performance indicators that make a blog post to be considered as viral?

Look at the most shared content – what is the maximum? Share the suggestion of one blogger to benchmark against own content and then multiply by 10, or use tools like buzzsumo and see how related content performed, what is possible with the topic. It is about number of sharing, number of links not views (could be through Web searches), not number of comments. If you want more comments usually shorter posts perform better)

3 Secrets To Writing Blog Posts That Go Viral by Bryan Hutchinson at WriteToDone
suggests a viral post has an extremely high number of shares compared to the number of shares for your average post. Example if you had a total shares of 10  in average for your blog post and you receive 10-20 times more shares for your blog post you can considered this as a viral post.

How to write quality content ?

Link to the MOOC on effective writing, mention the Harvard article on the phases of effective writing and link to the most shared article on effective writing. Mary Jacksch 200 000 Shares(?)

How to create viral content ?

“Even if nine out of 10 read the first few paragraphs and leave, the 10th person would be enough to begin building a loyal following.” Time Urban/Andrew Finn founder of Wait but Why.

Ezine Article – How To Create A Viral Blog Post – Advise improve on what went viral already – and here how the process looks like

Noah Robertson Fastcompany: Buzzfeed, PlayBuzz, ViroaNova, Upworthy

Example: Wait but Why has 63 articles with over 2000 words, average of 300 000 to 600 000 shares , Comments in the 1000s

Wait but Why Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy   2000 000 shares

Tim Urbans advice: you need to be exited about your content. Content needs to be in easy digestible chunks separated by images. Maximum eight big paragraphes per chunk. Effort: About 50-100 hrs research and disuccion, about 80 hrs to write and edit it.

1.  Scribble – Empty Your Head

The first step I usually take is to scribble like the baby in the picture. This is the phase of the “right” brain. The right brain is used for creative and meta thinking while our left brain is our judge, our analytic side. The key is to be wildly creative. If you start researching and start reading other posts you will frame your mind. It will already focus you in one direction. Become the madman (see Harvard Business Review). I write down everything I already know about the topic and the questions I still have. In this phase I do no worry about structure, grammar, spelling, format and design and of course not about the main title. In my concrete example I wrote down that it took me below 32 hours to learn to read my first book, that it can be done faster, the first book I read, how amazed I was and the question: how to teach others, has someone else written about the subject, where do people talk about this subject, who are the expert in this field?

If you are unsure if this topic is really in demand you can go to step 3 research. There are number of tools to find out about the current interest into your topic. Before you finally decide you might go back and think if there is a different way / perspective to look at the subject and if there is a link to a subject that is currently trending.

2. Outcome

You might also at this point start to think about the outcome. What do you expect out of your post? leads, subscribers, page ranking, income, learning, new contacts, networking, pleasure, ….

see Buzzfeed’s guide to viral content on 10 Brilliant Strategies to Writing Viral Content outcomes (Deborah Jian Lee) are: form of readers, subscribers, advertisers, raising awareness for an important issue, brand recognition and financial success.

In my case I would like to help people to learn to read Chinese more effectively, draw attention to my mission and if possible create an extra income. I would also like to see how my viral blog post process works out and how much effort it required. Especially in my case I have a full-time job and a family. Blogging just needs to happen on the side line. Also I am interested on the macro economical impact. A lot of people do all this work for free, yet they have indirectly an impact on the GDP. But we do not account for it in our statistics. Blog posts can lead to other people become more effective and efficient in their work.

2. Mind mapping

3. Research

I collected  advise from the Top 50 Blogs to Learn Blogging – The Ultimate List of Blogging Blogs by Joseph Adediji at

I was looking for advice on research tools and how to create viral content. Yet most their advice is focused on traffic. The Must-have Blog Post Topic Generation Tool by Eric Siu of Evergreen Search Weekend Project: Research the Audience You Want … but Don’t Have by Logan Marshall of the Free Life Project
Buffer Social: 39 Blogging Tools To Help You Work Faster Write Better , And Land More Readers by Kevan Lee

Where is the topic discussed and what is the challenge?
Yahoo Answers
Amazon Reviews – look specifically for the negative ones

LinkedIn Pulse

Ezine Articles

Research Tools:

I am using the following research process.
First I would do a search via a Google. In my example I use learn to read Chinese, read Chinese book, learn Chinese. I enter the search term and all the urls into an excel file.
In this phase I also highlight words that I think could become part of my title. For example I noticed a lot of people look for free resources on Chinese.

Second for each of the search result I would write down the unique urls found in the search results. I usually
take the first 20 Google search results.
In the third step I go to Alexa and determine for each url their global ranking in their best country ranking.
Fourth I look at the top 5 keywords that drive traffic to their side.
And in the fifth step I look which side the visitor came from immediately before?
And sixth I note down the top 5 sites that link to this site.
In the last step on Alexa I look at what sites are related to this one.

Next I would take all these urls from the google search and run  each through Buzzsumo.
Buzzsumo will tell me what was top most content shared from this website.

A short remark at this point. In your research it can happen that you come across a topic that is even more  exiting. In this case you would just restart the whole process again or merge the two topics. This happened to me. I came across the artificial language Toki Pona that can be learned in just one day and mastered to fluency in two days. I immediately started a scribble for this new topic.

You have done all the research around the main domains related to your topic. Now you can check Buzzsumo again directly with your search words from your google search. I was surprised to find sites that were totally unrelated to the topic but achieved extremely high shares around a post on their site. In my case it is

“Market Research”: How popular is the content ?

Google+ Trending


Social Media Shares:


Google Trends
Twitter trends: Topsy, Twittorati

or use the Content Strategy Generator Tool  from Daniel Butler SEOGadget. It will search through
Twitter, Goolgle Search Trends, YouTube Trends, Reddit, Google News,  Rad URLs, All Things Now, LinkedIn Pulse, Digg and some other sources in one go and display the result in a google spreadsheet.

Audience of a specific blog and top posts:


showed me the global rank and how the site ranks in the US. Also what are the key search words and which are the key sites that drive traffic to it.

If the publisher hasn’t implemented Quantcast Measurement it won’t show of course any results.


Gives you the most detail about the website

4. Influencer & Experts

Reach out to all the people you mention in your blog post or you link to. Also reach out to all the photographers.

Influencers: Guy Kawasaki, Elon Musk, Richard Branson

People who produced viral content:

see Jack Shepherd, editorial director Buzzfeed, Huffington Post

also Tim Urban at Wait but Why.

Neetzan Zimmermann most popular blogger posts 10 to 15 times per day

5. Write

Don’t go for quantity go for quality. No need to write 2000 words or more if you can explain the problem you want to solve for the reader in less words.

Structure: Summary at the beginning who, what, where, when, why

Guy Kawasaki/Peg Fitzpatrick The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users explain what happened, explain what something means, explain how to do something and surprise the reader

see According to Nielson users have time to read at most 28% of the words during an average web page visit

Make sure your first point is as strong as your last. Under promise and over deliver.

6. Emotions

What emotion do you evoke with your post? Emotion that arouse (high-arousal) the reader awe, anger, anxiety

see Jonah Berger

What is awe? See definition Jonah Berger Book and Blogpost

Ian Lurie on how to write emotionally

7. Design

Content is King ? The Content is King Myth Debunked –

Research by Elizabeth Silence: 94% cited design problems

Check your design vs. content shared in your niche and try to outperform if possible

Also considered the user-experience

Formatting: see Marketing Tip: How to Write the Article that Will Go “Viral”

Read an F Pattern Top and and left of page

then Z Pattern

Zoom to charts

?. Include Pictures

Buffer Social: 39 Blogging Tools To Help You Work Faster Write Better , And Land More Readers by Kevan Lee

?. Keyword Suggestion Tool


Google AdWords Keyword Planner

Keyword Tool

?. Title

100+ Blog Post Title Templates That Grab Attention :

How to Write The Perfect Headline: The Top Words Used in Viral Headlines by Kevan Lee at buffersocial

Ripenn analysis 62 characters average length of a viral headline

Portent Title Maker

HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator

Emotional Marketing Value Headliner Analysis

?. Quality Check



?. Check Outcome

Define next minimal action the user should take and the maximum next step.
Next minimal step could be share the post, leave a comment or maximum step give me business.

Mona Lisa, by Leonardo da Vinci, from C2RMF retouched

Mona Lisa, by Leonardo da Vinci, from C2RMF retouched

?. Publishing

?. Distribution

see Kawasaki/Fitzpatrick: two or three sentences on Google+ and Facebook and 100 characters on Twitter

Neetzan Zimmermann repetition, repost on twitter

Buffer Social: 39 Blogging Tools To Help You Work Faster Write Better , And Land More Readers by Kevan Lee

Timing: 9 am and noon EST best time for posts , Tuesday, LinkedIn Monday EST

X. Follow Up

Neetzan: Thank and favourite or retweet those that have shared your content – follow them back.

Offer thoughtful comments

Storify  How-To: Write Articles That Go Viral On Social Media (10 Tips) by Daniel Zeevi at


I am now at 712 words.
So far I spent 6 hours on research and 2 hrs on writing this article.

This is a scribble. Therefore it is work in progress.
What would you think how much time it will take to write a viral blog post? What key steps to take to get there? What viral content have you created? Do you want join the quest? Do you plan to create your first viral content?

Plus 5 hours

Plus 2 hours

Writing Services: see How to make content go viral

Bio: Peter Palme – Change & Development Manager. My passion and ambition is to help companies harness the power of the internet for learning. contact:

The Fastest Way to Learn to Read Chinese

January 8, 2015

I have met many people who became fluent in speaking Chinese in 6 months. Chinese does not have very complex grammar rules such as the slavic languages. It was also quite easy for myself. It took me longer to become fluent in French and I gave up on Russian at some point, because of the complex grammar. Benny Lewis, who is a well-known polyglot and blogger on rapid language acquisition achieved an okay fluency even in three months – see his blog. Benny Lewis also wrote an excellent bestselling book about his process and tactics of rapid language acquistion. Fluent in 3 Months: How Anyone at Any Age Can Learn to Speak Any Language from Anywhere in the World.

What is much more challenging is to learn to read.  This is not only a challenge for foreigners but also for the Chinese as well. Especially Chinese growing up outside chinese speaking countries find this particular difficult. It takes the first four years in school for chinese children to learn to read and write their first 1000 characters! This is not a fun process because it is mainly through continuous rather boring rote learning.

I found a way to learn to read the first 950 most important characters in 2 months and even had a lot of fun with it. All in all it took me just under 32 hours of my time. Now I am reading my first Chinese Book without consulting a dictionary . Actually I could have even done it in much less than 32 hours. As I am travelling a lot I used my iPhone mostly where I only type with one finger. On my laptop where I can use my ten fingers I am of course much faster. Usually I spent around 3-5 minutes to work on my course and I have done so several times a day. When I wait for the train, when I am in the train, when I wait for the plane, when I am in the plane, when I have a short coffee brake, when I am in the bathroom, when I wake up or before I go to sleep. You will be surprised how many 3-5 minutes slots you can find each day which I didn’t noticed before. I done all this while having a 120% job, a family and a few days a week when I look after the children and the household while my wife is on a business trip.

I only had a slight advantage as I knew still a few (less than 100) of the most important characters from my Chinese Studies at University 20 years ago.  In 2014 I also had picked up frequency lists on the internet and tried out the books “Remembering Simplified Hanzi: Book 1, How Not to Forget the Meaning and Writing of Chinese Characters” by James Heisig and Timothy Richardson and the beautiful book on Chinese Characters “Chineasy: The New Way to Read Chinese” by Shaolan, “Turbo Chinese (English Edition)” by Saurabh Sharma and the well known Tuttle Learning Chinese Characters: A Revolutionary New Way to Learn and Remember the 800 Most Basic Chinese Characters. I had no success with these books because by the time I started to learn the 1000 most important characters I had forgotten almost all of them.

To sum it up even if you have never learned any Chinese characters before you would still need roughly the same net time as it took myself. But what could differ is the period of time. Instead of 2 months maybe it will take you two to four weeks longer. It all depends on the amount of characters you can learn per day and the frequency.

So what was the method I used to finally succeed with? I signed up for the course “Chinese words spoken by frequency 0-1000” by Ben Whately on Memrise. Memrise uses the state of the art of the latest in neurosciences and learning research. It uses the right spaced repetitions, learning chunks, social learning methodologies, reward system and mnemonics to keep learners engaged. And on top of all it is free.

The course is broken down in 136 levels. Each level contains maximum 15 words. In the odd numbered levels you will learn the characters and their meaning in English and in the even numbered levels you will learn the pronounciation in pinyin and the meaning in English.

When you start learning you will learn around 5 characters per round until you completed the level. Then the pronounciation will be trained in rounds of 5. You can stop anytime and save where you have left of. Each time you get it right you will receive a number of points. This instills some competition as memrise will show you how you compare to other learners in the same course and where you rank. As I am a competitive person this was very motivating.

Additionally in both levels an audio pronounciation of the character or pinyin (pronounciation) that you are currently learning will be given. You will also have various ways to reply. Sometimes you need to select from a list similar to multiple choice or you need to type it directly into a text box. The system will show you the character and ask for the English word or show you the English word and ask for the character or the pinyin.

But this is not all. For each new word that you learn you can see how other people used mnemonics to learn and retain these words. This can be stories, pictures with text or links to useful resources or sentences where the character is used in, etc. If none of these are suited for your need you can create your own mnemonics so called mems.

Memrise was founded by the Memory Grandmaster Ed Cooke who taught Joshua Foer to become the US memory champion and Greg Detra a PhD at Princeton University neurosciences.

Also Joshua Foer used Memrise to study a new language in just 22 hours.

My mission for 2015 is to help you overcome the first threshold to start to read Chinese. Once you start reading you will constantly add often without really noticing it more and more characters and vocabulary to your memory. To do that I will add small excercises for each levels of the memrise course over the next months.

Reading Exercise 1 Level 1 for the Course: “Chinese words spoken by frequency 0-1000” by Ben Whately on Memrise
These are the first 15 Characters/Words you will learn in Level 1. 的 我 你 是 了 不 在 他 我们 好 有 这 就 会
Before you do the below reading exercise you should first learn these words in the memrise course.

I will use these words from level 1 to form small sentences or fragments of it below:
这 是  zhe4 shi4   this is
这 是 我 的 zhe4 shi4 wo3 de5   this is mine
不 是 bu4 shi4  is not
是 不 是 你 的 shi4 bu4 shi4 ni3 de5   is this yours
不, 不 是 , 这 是 他 的 bu4, bu4 shi4, zhe4 shi4 ta1 de5  no, it is not, this is his
是 的 shi4 de5   yes it is
你 好 ni3 hao3  hello
你 有 ni3 hao3  you have
我 有 wo3 you3  I have
我们 有 wo3 men5 you3   we have
我 会 了 wo3 hui4 le5   I know how to do it (now)
我们 不 会 wo3 men5 bu4 hui4  we don’t know how to
我 在 wo3 zai4  I am in/at
我 不 在 wo3 bu4 zai4 I am not in/at
我们 在 他 的 wo3 men2 zai4 ta1 de5  we are at/in his….
就 是 jiu4 shi4  exactly (this word you will actually learn in later level in memrise
好 不 好 hao3 bu4 hao3  alright? or okay?
不 好 bu4 hao3 not good
我 是 不 是 你 的 wo3 shi4 bu4 shi4 ni3 de5  I am not your

Now over to you – try to come up with new combinations. And if you enjoyed the exercise may I ask you for a small favour to share your new combination in the comment section below the post. Thank you.

Another way to boost your chinese readings skills is to start to learn the first 100 most important radicals. These are the small components of a character and help you understand the meaning of the characters much better. I have developped a mnemonic system to make it quite easy and rapid for you. Please see The Fastest And Easiest Way To Learn Chinese Characters.

The best book to read after the course on memrise?
The easiest book to read after the memrise course is The Secret Garden: Mandarin Companion Graded Readers: Level 1, Simplified Chinese Edition. It is so far the best way to start to use your new character and word skills. I was able to recognize 98% of the characters. As I am reading the book on Kindle I can click on the underlined characters that I see for the first time and will be directed to a word list where the pinyin and English translation of the character or composite characters will be given. I am 21% into the book after just one day and I consulted this word list twice so far  and basically it was only to check if I had grasped the meaning already of the new characters while I was reading the sentence. I haven’t yet red the other Level 1 graded readers book of the series but I would assume this to be a similar experience. You can a look inside the book here or download a sample in the kindle store. It is my first book that I can just read without consulting a dictionary and it feels very similar like reading any book in a language that I am totally familiar with: No big effort, no headache, no drag of energy, just fun.

What is the first book I am reading? A very good start to practice your new reading skills after your memrise course is by Marina Chan: First Chinese Reader for Beginners Bilingual for Speakers of English (Graded Chinese Reader Book 1). I am reading it on the Kindle. You can download a sample version first before you buy. The sample version convinced me to buy it and practice my reading skills. You can also take a look inside the book.

There are very few characters in the text that haven’t made it in the 1000 most frequently used words in Chinese. The 1000 words are based on the analysis of Chinese Film Subtitles. Researcher have confirmed that these subtitles match the actual most common words used by the population in China. I think this is no surprise as the film reflects the current vocabulary and in return as film and TV is the most consumed media in China influences back on the use of vacabulary in daily life. If you want to know about the research follow this link.

I can read between 90%-95% of the text in the book immediately. Some of the words I can guess through the context. But of course there are a few that are new. As an example the words for the different colors or words regarding touristic items. I guess in daily life they do not talk a lot about colours or hotels.

At the beginning of each chapter Marina Chan provides a list of characters, the pronounciation in pinyin and the English word for it. Additionally below every sentence in Chinese Characters there is also the pinyin. The translation of each of the sentences is provided at the end of the chapter.

Let’s take the first chapter of the book. From the 90 characters used only 9 were new. So most of the new words you would already be able to read all or at least a part of it. So some of them you could guess out of the context of the sentence. Being at this level it is so much easier to read than if you need to stop every second word to consult the dictioniary.

New words in chapter 1 that are not in the 1000 frequent word list in memrise are:
公园  gong1 yuan2   park – the second character yuan2 is not in the 1000.
商店 shang1 dian4  shop – the first character shang1 did not make in the top 1000, dian4 did
星級 xing1 ji2 – means star – used to say how many stars a hotel has. The second character ji2 is not in the 1000.
酒店 jiu3 dian4  hotel – both characters are in the top 1000, only the combination for the word hotel is not. So you can read the characters but might miss the meaning when combined.
文本 wen2 ben3 text – the first character wen2 is not in the 1000.
桌子 zhuo1 zi5 table – the first character zhuo1 is not part of the top 1000.
窗口 chuang1 kou3 window – the first character chuang1 did not make it into the 1000.
笔记本 bi3 ji4 ben3 notebook – all characters are in the top 1000, only the combination for the word notebook is not – one could guess the word out of the meaning of the individual characters
绿 lv4 green
自行車 zi4 xing2 che1 bike – all characters are known, only the combination to form the word bike is not – also here one could almost guess it from the individual characters used
蓝 lan2 blue
鼻子 bi2 zi2 nose – the first character bi2 is not in the 1000 words list.

I have found a newspaper for the intermediate level in Chinese. It is a dedicated section in the online edition of Global Times called Target Chinese. So far I can understand between 70-80% of it. I still need a dictionary to look up missing words.

To read your first book of the mandarin companion series – vocabulary:

On Skritter you can find the vocabulary of the series:

The Fastest And Easiest Way To Learn Chinese Characters – How to Really Use Mnemonics For Learning Chinese

October 30, 2014
Chinese Radicals

100 Frequently Most Used Chinese Radicals related to Human Subcategory

For any novice learner of Chinese Characters the first time he or she will see a page of Chinese Characters this will be overwhelming. It looks nice but for the brain it is pure chaos. At this stage we do not know what patterns to look for in these characters. It is the same for a child who sees a page of text before they know any type of letter. What do children usually do in these cases ? They will look at the pictures instead if there are any.

Our brains are made to recognize pictures and our brains are geniuses when it comes to store images. Our visiual memory is the fastest and the biggest storage system we have. With the help of the mnemonic system below you will be able to tap into this powerful learning system.

This way you will accelerate your learning and also retain the memorized characters much longer.

The best way to start is with the most important patterns called radicals. These radicals will also help you to identify the characters in the chinese dictionary.
There are 214 radicals. Yet it would be best to first learn the 100 most frequently radicals first and not learn the more exotic radicals that will hardly come across you when you start to read your first chinese texts.  See Kickstart your character learning with the 100 most common radicals by Olle Line.

I have categorized these 100 radicals into subgroups. With the help of the subgroups you will be able to build the memory palace that will hold all these images that will remind you of the characters in the future.

There are the following sub categories that you can choose a sub locations for: (The full list of these characters and sub categories is here)
1. Related to human
2. Related to human activity
3. Related to human appearance and situations
4. Related to house or household
5. Related to space/area/nature etc
6. Plants
7. Related to animals
8. Related to numbers
9. Related to colours

The Method
I have chosen a three step approach:

First step is to find a vivid image for each of the characters connected to the meaning in English.
In the second step you will associate for each of the syllables a memorable person (celebrity or people that you remember well)
In the third step you remember the tone of the syllable by association of the connected memorable person performing a task which is related to the meaning of the word and the tone.

I give you an example for remembering the syllable and the tone:
The word sickness has the chinese syllable ni4. Ni I have associated with Nikita Chruschtschow.
To remember the fourth tone of ni I see Nickita Chruschtschow falling down on the floor because he suddenly became utterly sick.

The Art of Memory - Giordano Bruno Mnemonic

The Art of Memory – Giordano Bruno Mnemonic

First Step – Create Images and a Place in Your Memory Palace:
Let’s build our memory palace and images for all the 100 most used Chinese Radicals together.
We start with the subcategory 1. related to humans.
It includes the following characters:

or human
or heart (Radical 61)
orhand (Radical 64)
right hand
thumb or inch
human legs

In total these are 18 Characters. Just to put those in memory without mnemonics would take quite a number of repeats. Usually we can hold maximum 7 plus or minus two items in our short time memory at once. With mnemonics you will overcome this barrier.

I have created the following images and path to store these characters one by one.
My memory palace is a house in China, yet it is build in an European Style. I live under the roof in the second floor.

One day I was sleeping on my huge silk white bed with my legs open . (I see myself as a human.)
I wake up and stand straight up in my bed. Unfortunately it is just under the roof so I hit my head against the roof and this hurts a lot.
I see myself as a human with the roof above.
I need to sit down in my bed straigth with my legs stretched in front of me, when I realize that I have eaten a baby cradle and I now look
like a woman 女.
When I stand up from the bed I suddenly feel enourmous pressure in my stomach because the child feels squashed by the cradle I have swolled and it stretches out his arms while having to pull in his head because of the cradle. .

I am shocked and just before I fall I get hold of my bookshelf opposite of my bed. The pain is so big that I open my mouth to scream. My mouth has been replaced by a artifical square roboter like mouth piece. .
Terrified I jump a way into the middle of the room. This is when I realize that my heart starts to pump heaviliy out of all three venes and spill blood all over me. . Some of the blood springles into my mouth so I have that sweet tast of blood on my tongue.
I feel panic and I want to go downstairs to get dressed. When I reach out with my hand to hold on to the wall I see that it was turned in an artifical antenna with three lines. .
No I think, I cannot go downstairs with this type of hand, so I screw off my right hand and put it in a nice chest   that stands on this two nicely shaped feet just before the stairs.

I walk down to the toilet. When I enter the toilet I see my eye in the mirror was also turned into an articficial triangle with rectangular lids around  it. . When I want to take a leak into the toilet I suddenly realise that I can hardly sit down because I am totally wobbly on my feet. They are mounted on a large woman stilleto with a spring. .
It is a nice idea to be able to take very large steps like with the seven miles boots and thus be much faster than walking in normal shoes, but it is not a good idea for going to the toilet and trying to sit down.  Only after many fruitless tries and holding to the bathroom tub I finally manage to sit down.  But to my dismay my corpse falls over because it is more heavier above and very thin below. .
I had enough. I wash my left hand. While washing it I realize that my thumb was also turned into antenna which is one inch wide and when I do a finger print of it it will only leave a dot on the paper. .

Damm I think I need to have a bath to relax from all this stress. Once I come out of the bath tub my legs become strangely flexible. I had forgetten that they also very now artificial. So they look like this .
I walk over to the mirror and put my tongue out which I regret badly. The tongue that comes out of my square mouth also has an antenna on it with two lines  and it has a bitter taste.

I am very annoyed and hungry and go downstairs into the kitchen. Unfortunately when I entered the kitchen I fall and a needle sticks through my skin in my stomach and scratches the baby cradle. . This is so painful.
I leave the kitchen and go to the living room to make an emergency telephone call. When I put the phone to my ear I realize that it was also exchanged with a rectangular antenna objects with two inside stripes and two longer ones on the outside. .
What a strange day to start with.

The mnemonic stories work the best when you create your own images and memory palace. Instead of using a house it could be any place that you are very familiar with. It could be your way to work, or if you walk through your favourite zoo, museeum, etc. The key is to have one image that is very memorable and preferrably animated and it has a unique place for storage.

Second Step Associate Memorable People to the  Syllables:
I make the following associations. The number indicate the tones. In Brackets the intuitive English Pronounciation. For all Pinyin Syllables look here.
cun4 Carl Gustav Jung   (tswnn)
er2 Erdogan President of Turkey (urr)
er3 Erdogan President of Turkey (urr)
kou3 Cowboy John Wayne (koh)
mu4 Muhammed Ali (moo)
nv3 Oliver Neuville (former German Soccer Player) (nyoo)
pi2 Pia Zadorra (pee)
ren2 Rene Descartes (rnn)
she2  Sheela Indian Film Actress (sher)
shi1 Shia LaBoeuf (shrr)
shou3 Schubert the composer (shoh)
xin1 Xindi are peole from the planet Xindus in Start Treck (sshin)
you4 Neil Young (yoh)
zi3  Zig Ziglar (dzrr)
zu2 Peter Zumtobel Swiss Architect (dzoo)

Again the same as above choose the association of people for each of the syllables that work best for you.
Tone 1 means to have a steady straight pronounciation when you speak the syllable. In Tone 2 you go up with your voice when you say the syllable. For tone 3 you are up and go down and up again when you pronounce the syllable. And tone 4 means you start high and go down when you speak the syllable.

For the next step I have associated the tones with actions such as for tone 1 the action performed by the memorable person will be a straight line. Example would be laying me on the back on the floor. For tone 2 it has an action that puts me somehow up. Tone 3 is represented by any action that is somehow connected to up and down and up movments and for tone 4 it is something that will put me down. It will become clearer when you read the following story.

Third Step – bring it all together into one final story:
One day I was sleeping on my huge white silk bed when Rene Descardes came and lifted up my two legs and spread them across my bed because he wanted to examine how people sleep when their legs are laid out in a perfect triangle 人 ren2. I see myself as a human.
I wake up and I am pritty annoyed with Rene Descartes. Instead of leaving me alone  Rene Descartes put me straight up in my bed . Unfortunately my bed is just under the roof so I hit my head against the roof and this hurts a lot. I am now very angry with Rene Descartes.
I see myself as a human with the roof above 亻ren2.

Oliver Neuville comes to my rescue and takes me in his arms and shakes me like a baby to calm me then helps me to sit down in my bed straigth with my legs stretched in front of me, when I realize that I have eaten a baby cradle and I now look
like a woman 女 nv3.
I start to cry. Zig Ziglar hears it and tries to lift me up and down to get me overthrow in the hope that the cradle comes. I feel an enourmouse pressure in my stomach because the child feels squashed by the cradle I have swolled and it stretches out his arms while
having to pull in his head because of the cradle. . zi3.
I am shocked and just before I fall I get hold of my bookshelf opposite of my bed. Suddenly I hear Cowboy John Wayne approaching with his horse. He jumps right behind me and starts pushing my stomach in and out. The pain is so big that I open my mouth to scream. My mouth has been replaced by a artifical square roboter like mouth piece. kou3.

I let you finish the story by yourself.

Mnemonics works best if you find the associations that work best for you.
There is a great guideline on creating memorable images for mnemonics on the Hacking Chinese Blog: Memory aids and mnemonic to enhance learning by Olle Linge.

Once you are able to walk through the 16 Characters forward and backwards I would recommend you the first exercise. Read a Chinese Text printed out on paper and mark each of the learned radicals in the characters.
Here an example text based on the the first 100 most frequently used Chinese Characters and Words in Film Subtitles:


And this is the result of the above text analysis based on the 16 Radicals you have mastered by now:


Quite a number of characters that will include one of the radicals you have just learned.
You will notice there are already a few characters that are only made up of the radicals you know by now.
Example: 好, 如,从

And if you have mastered all the 100 Radicals this would be the result:

100 Most Frequently Used Words in Film Subtitles containing Elements of the 100 Most Used Radicals

100 Most Frequently Used Words in Film Subtitles containing Elements of the 100 Most Used Radicals

Planned updates:
I will add further exercises and examples
More on learning the most used words and characters in Chinese

Frequency List of Chinese Characters based on Film Subtitles


Improve Memory – Accelerate Learning Latest Research

September 15, 2014

Latest Research:
Exercise training increases size of hippocampus and improves memory

“aerobic exercise training increases the size of the anterior hippocampus, leading to improvements in spatial memory”

Physical Activity and Cardiorespiratory Fitness Are Beneficial for White Matter in Low-Fit Older Adults

“Participation in physical activity and high levels of cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) have protective effects on brain structure and function and are associated with later onset or lower degree of age-related cognitive decline”

Physical exercise: why aerobic excercise enhances neurogenesis and neuroplasticity

“As little as three hours a week of brisk walking has been shown to halt, and even reverse, the brain atrophy (shrinkage) that starts in a person’s forties, especially in the regions responsible for memory and higher cognition.”

How to improve learning agility and capabilities has always been top of my agenda.
I used to run and also do High Intensity Interval Training. I also blogged about the benefits and how to incorporate this into a busy work schedule:
Work Smarter, Get More Things Done through Less Than 10 Minutes Cardio High Intensity Interval Training HIIT Workout Routines in the Home Office – Latest Research
Lately I was very inactive due to a knee injury from skiing also pain in the right arm. I could not do any of the HIIT workouts nor was I able to do most of the yoga poses. In order to still improve my memory through exercise I turned to the various asian medical “gymnastics”.
Bascically I build the following programm on Yoga (India), Qi Gong (China), Meridian Strech (Japan), Five Tibetan Rites (Tibet). If time permits I also include medical gymnastic from Dr. Norbekov (Sufi/Russia) and the Tai Chi 5 Elements Exercise.
To my surprise I did not just find a way to exercise but at the same time after already 3 of the sessions were able to reduce the pain and inflamation in my knee and shoulder dramatically. Now I can do Yoga poses and exercises again that I was not able to perform  before.
If you have medical conditions I would advise you to consult your doctor before practicing these exercises.

Activation Excercises:

Salutation to the sun – Surya Namaskar (Step by Step Guide with Pictures) (Video)
Cardiovascular training and warm up (recommended by Aladar Kogler, Ph. D. – U.S. Olympic Coach)

Qi Gong:
5 Elements Qi Gong

(Tai Chi:
5 Elements Excercise)

Masunaga Makka Ho – Meridan Strech Excercise (Japan): Da

Five Tibetan Rites:

Shoulder Stand – Sarvagasana

Cobra Pose – Bhujangasana

Medical Gymnastics of Norbekov:


Anulom Vilom




Jalandhara Bandha

Uddiyana Bandha

Moola Bandha





Abhyantara Kumbhaka


Bahya Kumbhaka


Five Element Breath

Dhyana and Dzogchen:


Yoga for Concentration and Memory


Top 100 Most Used Chinese Characters Compounds

August 19, 2014

This list is based on the frequency list for the top 3000 words found in the The Lancaster Corpus of Mandarin Chinese.

一个   one
我们   we or us
他们   they / them
自己   oneself
没有   no
发展   development
工作   work
问题   matter
经济   economy
中国   China
什么   what
可以   may / can
社会   society / community
这个   this
就是   namely / even
国家   country / nation / state
这样   so / such / like this
进行   progress
企业   enterprise / business
技术   skill / technique
不能   cannot
活动   activity / movement
系统   system / scheme
一些   some
起来   about / up
人们   people
这些   these
孩子   child
生活   life
关系   relationship
我国   my country
如果   if
第一   first / number one
研究   study / research
因为   because
要求   request / demand / asking
需要   to need
不同   different
情况   circumstance
管理   management
生产   produce
教育   education
知道   to know
组织   organization
全国   nationwide / national
现在   now
已经   already
方面   aspect
世界   world
主要   main
人民   the people
必须   shall
还是   or
建设   construction
为了   in order to
时间   time
认为   to think
改革   reform
美国   the United States (USA)
可能   possibly
一定   must
通过   on / by
市场   market
作为   as
学生   student
结构   form
由于   due to
作用   impact
影响   influence
部门   department
开始   to begin
公司   company
许多   many
有关   refer
但是   but
因此   accordingly
日本   Japan
时候   hour
出现   uprise
地方   place
提高   improve
各种   spread
同志   comrade
一般   mostly
出来   to come out
精神   ambition
同时   while
地区   neighborhood
历史   history
而且   but also
计划   plan
社会主义   socialism
科学   science
思想   thought
这里   here
单位   unit
领导   leadership
个人   individual

Further Reading:
The Fastest and Easiest Way to Learn Chinese Characters – How to Really Use Mnemonics For Learning Chinese


Learning to Write Chinese Characters Learn the most common Chinese Radicals first

July 18, 2014

Learning to write Chinese is the most difficult part of learning Chinese. To speed up learning to write Chinese definitely it will help if you know the 100 most common Chinese radicals which make up many of the most used Chinese Characters.
Olle Ling provided a very useful list of the most common 100 Chinese radicals here:

You could take the list and learn the characters from top which is the most used to the bottom which is the least used.

I have tried to come up with the fastest way to learn the 100 common Chinese primitives or radicals.
Either I use stories or I use categories to structure the list and then use mnemonics. I have written a how to do guide on remembering the 100 most frequently used characters.

Story 1: The icy house on the cliff leads to sickness
广 guǎng house on cliff
冫bīng ice
疒 nì sickness
厂 chǎng cliff
There was a cliff 厂 chǎng. A house was build on it 广 guǎng. One day everything was covered with ice 冫bīng. Sicknes 疒 nì broke out in the house on the cliff.

Story 2: The good earth leads to the first village

土 tǔ earth
田 tián field
里 lǐ village
People found very good earth 土 tǔ for farming and decided to grow crops. The field 田 tián nourished many people and they build a village 里 lǐ  next to it.

Related to human
人 or 亻rén human
女 nǚ woman
子 zǐ child
口 kǒu mouse
心 xīn heart
手 shǒu hand
又 yòu right hand
目mù eye
足 zú foot
尸 shī corpse
寸 cùn thumb or inch
儿 ér human legs
舌 shé tongue
皮 pí skin
耳 ěr ear

Related to human activity:
讠yán speech
辶 chuò walk
攵 pū knock
彳chì small steps
工 gōng work
饣shí eat
欠 qiàn yawn
立 lì stand
艮 gěn stopping
止 zhǐ stop
走 zǒu run
辛 xīn bitter
夂 zhī go
见 jiàn see
勹 bāo embrace

Related to appearance:
力 lì power
大 dà big
衤yī clothes
巾 jīn turban
士 shì scholar
小 xiǎo small

Related to house or household
纟sī silk
钅jīn gold
刂 dāo knife
宀 gài roof
厶 sī private
阝 yì mound
车 chē cart
门 mén gate
斤 jīn axe
亠 tóu lid
王 wáng jewel
冖 mì cover
皿 mǐn dish
礻shì sign
戈 gē spear
几 jǐ table
殳  shū weapon
酉 yǒu wine
弓 gōng bow
户 hù  door
舟 zhōu boat
匕 bǐ spoon
卩 jié seal
罒 wǎng net

Related to space/area/nature etc:
日 rì sun
月 yuè moon
氵shuǐ water
火 huǒ fire
石 shí stone
山 shān mountain
方 fāng square
穴 xué cave
雨 yǔ rain
干 gān dry
夕 xī evening
阝yì city
囗 wéi enclosure

木 mù tree
艹 cǎo grass
禾 hé grain
⺮ zhú bamboo
页yè leaf
米 mǐ rice

Related to animals
贝bèi shell
犭quǎn dog
虫 chóng insect
马 mǎ horse
隹 zhuī bird
羊 yáng sheep
牜niú cow
鸟 niǎo bird
羽 yǔ feather

一 yī one
八 bā eight
十 shí ten

白 bái white
青 qīng green or blue

Further Reading:
The Fastest and Easiest Way to Learn Chinese Characters – How to Really Use Mnemonics For Learning Chinese

Learning How to Turn Twitter Tweets into RSS Feed

June 24, 2014

Thanks to great people on the internet I was able to learn very quickly how to turn any twitter tweets into an RSS Feed. And this RSS Feed can be used anywhere! and it can be even displayed within a blog post!

With the new Twitter API v. 1.1 this became a more complex operation than it used to be.
Luckily there are fantastic teachers out there who share their great work-arounds for free.

My great learning journey started with Amit Agarwal and his blog post and video on
How to Create RSS Feeds for Twitter – Video Tutorial.
If you follow carefully his steps you will end up with an url that will be the first step towards the RSS Feed to be used anywhere. (If you want to turn your own twitter tweets into RSS see advice at the end of my blog post).

Once you created this url it will only work in Feedly or in Feedbin. Most other RSS Readers will not accept at this point. This was advised by the web-geek Mona Sorcelli.

It was through the help of Manuel Meurer and his great post on How to set up automatic retweeting using a Google Apps Script, Yahoo Pipes, and TwitterFeed.
From this post you will only need the second act – the Yahoo Pipes. Click on the link of his published pipe on Yahoo and enter the URL you created with the help of Amit Agarwal and you will get to an RSS Feed that can be used anywhere. (If you want to customize the feed your way – see further down in my blog post).

To get the final RSS feed to use in any RSS Reader or website click on the button “Get as RSS” that will appear once you run the Yahoo Pipe of Manuel Meurer. Copy the RSS Feed URL from the browser into any RSS Reader.

Display RSS in Blogpost or Website with Javascript
Or use the tool on the website Feed2Js (Alan Levine) to create a javascript code to place in your website or blog post. See my example: Gotthard Tunnel RSS News and Traffic News. Feed2Js will update the feed every 60 minutes.

Turn your own twitter feed into RSS feed
If you want to turn your own twitter feeds into RSS than you can use the following approach shown by Neil Ball – How To Create A Twitter RSS Feed – New Version Since API Switch Off.

Manipulate the Output of the RSS feed
If you want to customize the output of the RSS feed that you get out the Yahoo Pipe created by Manuel Meurer please visit my clone of his Yahoo Pipe. I had to add the user input element “URL input” at the beginning of the pipe to make the clone work.

Automatic Twitter Updates triggered by the RSS feed
And thanks to Manuel Meurer advice you can use Twitterfeed to create automatic retweets.
Twitterfeed will usually only update every 30 Minutes.

I use IFTTT (If This Than That) which is usually faster than Twitterfeed.
Choose Feed as your trigger channel and insert the url to your rss feed.

Realtime Updates with Pubsubhubbub

There is also a faster way if you reprogram the google script from Amit Agarwal  to include pubsubhubbub. Pubsubhubbub provides realtime notifications. It was developed by Brad Fitzpatrick and Brett Slatkin of Google and Martin Atkins of Six Apart.

The XML created with the google script from Amit Agarwal would need the following addition:

< atom:link rel=”hub” href=””/  >

More useful Information on pubsubhubbub is here.
Hope I was helpful.

you might als find helpful:

How to join a Google Hangout with Skype

The Raspberry Pi as Wlan Airprint Server

How to connect with Micrsoft Lync to Skype


The Magic Systemic Diet

May 16, 2014

Honestly, I hate diets. I don’t like to feel hungry, I don’t like to eat only selected food, I hate to count calories and I don’t want to spent more time in the kitchen because I already have a very busy schedule. Guess what, I am also not a fan of exercising. On top of all I am an impatient person and want to see results fast otherwise I quit. And usually I don’t want people to know that I am on diet because I will fail for sure this one and would feel ashamed and guilty. And actually I like to enjoy life now why should I deprive myself for the rest of my life?

The only thing I don’t like about myself is my overweight.

I am a senior well resprected change manager with many years of experience on helping people and organizations to change successfully. But wait a moment in 2011 I had to bitterly acknowledge that despite all my professional experiences I was not even able to change and manage sustainable my own weight! How can I look into the eyes of my clients and tell them I know everything about change.

This was a final wakeup call and I started to look through all my resources, all the resources on change and weight change management. After a lot of trials and errors I finally came up with what I call the magic systemic diet. It is magic because you will lose weight almost effortless and in an automatic way and it is called systemic because it takes the system into account in which you live in. Actually it is not even a diet, because you don’t deprive yourself and follow a very strict plan, it is rather a set of little adjustments that won’t require much effort to implement. It is not a diet for all those who have an eating disorder or other health related problems, therefore please consult a health care professional.

When I had this triggering revelation in 2011 I was totally overwhelmed first. Basically I did not know where to start. In my life I had tried so many different diets. I lost weight but I always gained more back at the end. Usually I went for the diets that someone else just had success with. After a few days or weeks once I lost weight I became bored or even frustrated with the diet. It just seemed to absorb all my energy and didn’t feel naturally at some point. I felt like I am missing out on life just because I follow the strict regime of a new weight loss program. But each time I stopped these programs I felt ashamed of myself because I failed. Also during the period of dieting I became a very moody person. It didn’t take much to get me angry. This of course is not ideal for my relationships.

In 2011 when I embarked on my quest to ask my friend’s and colleagues again how to lose weight and keep it off for ever wasn’t an option. They would just have told me about a new diet they were currently following with success. And how many of them have I seen yo-yoing during the time I got to know them. They go on a diet and one year later they are on the next diet because they regained all the weight they lost. So it didn’t matter if they followed the most prominent or the most exotic diet the result at the end was always the same.

When I consulted the research on nutrient and dieting the same picture emerged. It does not matter which diet to use over time the weight loss is the same. Some let you lose weight faster in the first weeks some help you lose weight more in the later part of the diet. Yet when looking at the long term results 98% regained their weight. What a statistical success factor is that?  The odds to lose weight and keep it for longer term is just 2% versus 98% chance to regain all of the weight lost. Shouldn’t I give up right now here? Would you bet on a horse if you knew it had a 2% chance to win versus a 98% chance to lose?

Personally I like the odds against me. These are the challenges I love and maybe it is the nature of my work. How many change projects do you know where the big majority of people are in favour of ? Not many to what I know off.

Clearly the first thing to adress was to increase the chances to win versus the chances to loose. What looked so obvious to me, still did not tell me what buttons to push, what steps to take. I was sitting in the dark.

Of course having decided not to consult my friends or colleagues I turned to Google instead. I used various search strategies, tactics and terms and at one point I had to admit I was looking for the famous pin in the hay stack. Basically there was no satisfying answer. Honestly I was in despair and I was about to give up.

It needs luck sometimes. And luck strikes when you least expect it. It was at the shopping mall in Switzerland when I was waiting for my wife. She informed that she will be late, so I strolled around and found a bookstore. I like to visit bookstores and glance at their offerings in the various categories. While I made my round from the best sellers to the self helps books on to the cook books, I finally ended up with the shelves filled with endless numbers of diet books. I was starting to yawn scanning through the titles of these books. They promise you everything but all focus only on a strict eating plan of a certain food group or food item. I was about to leave when something odd caught my eyes. The title was really strange and I was debating if I should still waste more time with a subject I actually was frustrated with or if I should give it just one more try. Slowly I walked over to the shelves and picked up the book. First I was laughing about myself and thought it is a joke, then I turned the book and red the description of the back cover. I started to tremble. Heurka I was shouting inside. This is the lead I was probably looking for so desperately….

“More Myself, Less on the Scale”.

Further Reading:
101 Magic Tricks To Make Your Weight Loss Diet Easy Unconcious To Follow and Automatic and Sustainable 

Magic Systemic Weight Loss – Inspiring Visions To Stick To Your Goal

May 15, 2014

You have a goal, but to stay on track it needs a deeper purpose, a vision that not only speaks to your rational but to your heart and soul.

There are situations and days when you about to give up and stop following your plan to a lighter you. These are also the days where most people completly stop their diets and return to their old habits and consider themselves as total diet failures.

To prepare for these moments and go back on track after a setback having your motivators written down and always in front of you is the best way to continue. All high achievers in sports or other fields use this method.

I have prepared my own inspiring slide deck and maybe it will inspire you as well.
Magic Systemic Weight Change Management Motivational Slides


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