from jim and yim to george

yim yames (jim james)

yim yames (jim james)

The late autumn of 2001 wasn’t exactly a golden age for anyone. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 had reshaped America’s very psyche. Letters full of anthrax spores turned the simple act of retrieving one’s mail into a dark adventure. And at the end of it all, we lost George Harrison.

Jim James of Louisville’s My Morning Jacket was shaken enough by the news of the Beatle’s late November passing that he took refuge at the Shelbyville farm where his band had recorded their initial albums and cut a half dozen Harrison tunes on his own.

The results didn’t surface officially until yesterday in the form of an EP disc James released under the name Yim Yames with the title Tribute To. It’s a stark, ghostly and ultra solitary affair with James recording his reverb dipped voice onto 8 track reel-to-reels with a few sparse acoustic sounds as accompaniment.

george harrison, circa 1987

george harrison, circa 1987

The way James’ wordless vocal refrain reflects the plaintive orchestration of Harrison’s signature meditation My Sweet Lord is a thing of low-fi beauty. James’ treatment of the title tune from Harrison’s landmark 1970 album All Things Must Pass, while only slightly sunnier, employs atmospheric vocals that seem to bounce about as if trapped in an echo chamber with a lone guitar as support.

Two other All Things Must Pass works – a reverential piano/guitar reading of The Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll) and an elegiac Behind That Locked Door – complete the disc along with a whispery, one man choir adaptation of Long, Long, Long (originally from the Beatles’ “white album”) and a spidery, neo-Appalachian lament revision of Love You To (from Revolver).

elvis lives! a steer named elvis is among the animals rescued by the woodstock animal farm sanctuary.

elvis lives! a steer named elvis is among the many animals rescued by the woodstock farm animal sanctuary.

In yesterday’s New York Times, Fernanda Santos outlines the curious circumstances of how the forgotten Harrison tribute finally surfaced not as a proper James/Yames solo venture but as a partial benefit for the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary that received the blessing of the Beatle’s widow, Olivia Harrison.

It’s a touching story that befits equally touching music. All benefits should be so humble and respectful.

All six songs from Tribute To are available for free streaming at www.yimyames.com. Love You To is also being made available on the site as a free legal download.

Softly but surely, it’s Covey at his best

New Straits Times October 26, 2003 | Elizabeth John Elizabeth John New Straits Times 10-26-2003 Softly but surely, it’s Covey at his best Byline: Elizabeth John Edition: 2* Memo: (STF) – Management guru (he hates the label) or a compelling purveyor of common sense, there is no denying that Stephen Covey knows how to grab your attention. ELIZABETH JOHN catches up with him.

THE seminar was scheduled for nine and it started on the dot. A “shock” for a Malaysian crowd largely accustomed to waiting half an hour for personalities and politicians, and another half hour listening to meaningless welcoming speeches.

The coated and suited shuffled in, a little embarrassed by the click- clack of their polished shoes which amplified their delayed entrance.

The tall, bald, blue-eyed man who was addressing the crowd, however, seemed oblivious.

After all, he had the attention of the thousand or so corporate leaders, executives, television stars, ardent followers and the curious who had been well on time.

They moved their heads from left to right like spectators at a tennis match, transfixed by the author and speaker extraordinaire who had built an empire teaching people seven, very self-evident, habits.

An antithesis of the fiery, spitting, shouting and gesticulating motivational speaker, Dr Stephen R. Covey stands close to the crowd and speaks softly, but surely, with the ease and confidence of one who has probably given these seminars so many times he could do it in his sleep.

He begins by telling the audience that the best way to learn is to teach, and makes each one promise that he/she will teach at least two others what he/she has learnt that afternoon.

The more sceptical among the crowd whispered that it sounded like a multi-level marketing ploy but this was soon forgotten as Covey regaled the audience with witty oneliners and a string of funny, heart-warming stories in his talk on Leadership in Turbulent Times – It’s One of Choice, Not of Position or Title.

Beautifully designed to elicit the sympathy and attention of every working adult, the points range from the high number of workers who weren’t even being allowed to use their talents and abilities at work, the amount of time and talent wasted on playing political games in the office, people tied to the idea of leadership as power instead of leadership as service, to the lack of purpose, integrity and trust in an organisation and society.

So, it was not long before the crowd was eating out of his hands. It was priceless watching top executives, more used to barking orders, passively nodding and taking down notes like obedient schoolchildren, in a workbook provided in their seminar kit.

These were the ones who were awed.

Like the executive from Sarawak, who insisted that he would not leave Kuala Lumpur without attending the seminar, never mind the RM850 fee.

He had attended one seminar Covey held here several years ago on The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and had loved it. He lamented that we did not have local speakers of this calibre.

Asked if he thought it was worth paying so much to learn the obvious, he said: “That’s the irony. I know I already know all this, but I would never have thought of it myself.

“You can’t blame Covey for having a good idea and selling it well. Too bad for the rest of us.”

Beside the awed, sat also those who were bored. One participant left his mobile phone on, answered it often and doodled endlessly in the workbook.

Others, unfamiliar with the book that had made Covey, asked what the seven sins were, instead of the seven habits, despite sitting through the three-hour talk in which Covey expounded their merits.

But the awed and bored alike relieved the book stand of every copy of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People on sale, sought autographs and insisted that Covey pose for pictures.

A normal day in the life of Covey whose book has sold more than 13 million copies worldwide and continues to be a bestseller today, 14 years after it was first published. web site 7 habits of highly effective people

Covey attributes his enduring success to the fact that his teachings are based on principles and not quick fixes.

“I hate the terms `selfhelp’ and `guru’ because I am not trying to quick-fix and I am not the source of all wisdom.”

If this is the case, someone should point out to Covey that, in the kit given to participants he has been introduced as “an internationally respected leadership authority, family expert, teacher and organisational guru”.

In person, however, Covey insists that each community’s traditions, wisdom and literature teach the same principles he does, and he gets a lot of credit that he does not deserve.

But if these principles are as self-evident as he says, what then is the purpose of the book?

He says that what is common sense is not common practice and the key is not the principles themselves, but the way they are sequenced and presented. It tells the reader that improvement must begin with themselves, from inside.

“Most people think outside-in. They want others to change, whether it is the Government or their spouse, but we, each of us, must become the change we seek in the world.”

While saying that many who pick up his books and attend seminars are in pain or seeking improvement, he also admits that some may be looking for instant solutions to problems.

But there is nothing easy about the seven habits, he cautions.

As readers often discover, it takes commitment.

In fact, at the end of his book Living the 7 Habits, Covey admits to having trouble with some habits, like Habit 5 which is “seek first to understand, then to be understood”.

And when asked about the three straight years of losses faced by FranklinCovey, the company he co-founded, and the notification of non- compliance of listing standards from the New York Stock Exchange earlier this year (the company’s stock price at the time was reported to be below US$1 and its market capitalisation below the US$15 million minimum), Covey says:

“The merger between the Covey Leadership Center and Franklin Quest, which created FranklinCovey, was difficult.”

He says it is so when two very different management cultures come together. However, an alternative was found in the form of FranklinCovey.

“FranklinCovey is doing much better and it basically comes from practising what we teach. Our problems, personally and organisationally, emerge when we ourselves don’t practise what we teach.”

Even the stories of courage and success in Living the 7 Habits tell of people moved to action by personal and professional loss. For the rest who are untouched by such trauma, making a commitment to improvement will be an uphill task.

But the 7 Habits isn’t all talk for Covey. It’s what his life is built on.

A father to nine children and grandfather to 40, Covey lists one of his greatest achievements as the fact all his children have mission statements – a recommendation in his books – that focus on a life of service to others.

Three of his children work with him. One of them is Sean, the author of The 7 Habits for Highly Effective Teens which has sold more than two million copies worldwide.

Practising another habit called “putting first things first”, Covey works out his schedule two years in advance so that he gets to spend time with his children and grandchildren and does not miss family events. They remain his priority.

FranklinCovey Malaysia employees say they have heard stories of Covey arriving at the office with a peanut butter sandwich on his head, jelly dripping down the side of his face, completely unperturbed by the practical joke his children or grandchildren have played on him – a story Covey happily confirms.

“I have got three more grandchildren on the way and the 41st will be born by the time I arrive back in the United States,” he proudly announces halfway through the interview.

Covey says empowering others to run the business is the key to managing his multi-million dollar business, spending time with family and getting a good six hours of sleep a day.

And while he jokes that he leaves others to deal with the pounding surf of daily problems as he writes lofty thoughts by the beach, those around him say Covey is simply organised and focused. He must have been.

Before Covey wrote 7 Habits, he received an MBA from Harvard, a doctorate from Brigham Young University and went on to lecture in business and organisational behaviour at the latter. go to site 7 habits of highly effective people

A devout Mormon, he began his writing career with religious books like Spiritual Roots of Human Relations and Divine Center.

But Covey found that religion sometimes turned people off and he wanted to reach a worldwide market to teach principles that were common to all religions, such as fairness, integrity, service, growth and family unity.

This is why, he says, he wrote the 7 Habits.

Today, as FranklinCovey finds itself operating in a 100 countries with 47 offices, Covey’s focal point is still the universality of these principles and how they exist in major religions. Speaking to a multi- religious Malaysian audience, he cleverly makes a point of repeating this.

But he is not without his critics on this issue. Muslims ask if he’s aware that most of what he says is already written in the Quran. He responds by asking for a specific reference he can quote to the audience the next time.

He’s also had Jewish readers angrily commenting that his 7 Habits diagram is simply an improvisation of the Star of David. He says it proves his point on universality.

“A lot of people don’t believe in this harmony and co-operation, just like they judge the East by a few extremists and the East judges America by the few people who do scandalous things.”

He laughs off the criticism and is flattered by the parodies like the book. Covey says he remembers one particular parody called The 7 Habits of Spectacularly Unsuccessful CEOs.

But with the 7 Habits ranked 10th on Forbes.com’s list of the most influential business books of the last 20 years, a stellar list of habit- inspired successes including Hard Rock Cafe sales of U$350 million (RM1.33 billion) despite falling profits, he can afford to laugh.

It may not convert the cynics, but remember the deal Covey made with the audience at the start of the seminar?

Well, this writer went back to the office and engaged a dozen people – sceptics and believers – in a debate on the 7 Habits, without realising what was going on.

Multi-level marketing ploy or not, Covey obviously must be doing something right.

Elizabeth John



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