Month: March 2015

Personal storytelling through visualizations

The most ubiquitous way to share personal experiences and stories is through photos. Relatively speaking, they are quick to create and can be instantaneously shared. They’re great for capturing a feeling or special moment, but rarely show change over time or the relationship between two or more ideas. Video does a much better job of displaying these nuances, which is why it has become such a popular medium for storytelling. Collages, photo books, and yearbooks were all born of the desire to provide more context to photos and document experiences. Data visualizations require more data points, a decisive angle and time to craft. However, they can capture a story more holistically, distill information into key points, help share learnings easily, and provide an opportunity for reflection. Finally, the tools to create these types of visuals are available to all and becoming much easier to use. Data visualization and the quantified self My first exposure to data visualization was through an Edward Tufte course in 1999. He is considered a pioneer in the space and his passion is contagious. These days, dynamic visual displays of …

Vipassana meditation and seeds for innovation

First, here’s a high level summary of the technique and goal of Vipassana meditation as a primer. Basically, you use your own body sensations to internalize the belief of impermanence and stop the negative feedback loop of craving and aversion. You do this by first sharpening your mind to feel those sensations (using a separate meditation called Anapana Sati). You then use Vipassana to experience these sensations, both positive and negative, without reacting to them and maintaining equanimity. The long term goal is obviously enlightenment, but the byproduct is an extremely sharp mind that is able to feel any sensation throughout the body and free of the emotional turmoil that cravings and aversions generate. The reason you look inward is because while concentrating on an object or word does help quiet a busy mind, it doesn’t allow you to sharpen it. Also, wisdom gained through first hand experience is the most tangible and visceral. Vipassana meditation experience As part of my self exploration process, I decided to attend a 10 day silent meditation retreat in Kandy, …

88 Days and counting

It’s an auspicious day to start planning for my 2nd ultra marathon. It’s also worthwhile to look back and share lessons learned from my first multi-day race last fall, in the hopes that it will motivate me to do it all over again. Last November I competed in Action Asia’s Nepal 3 Day Ultra Marathon in the 60k category. When I signed up, I never expected to actually place. I wrote it down as a stretch goal in my training diary and quickly forgot. It wasn’t until 15 km into the first race day that the goal truly felt within reach. Race staff told me that the female front runner was only 100 meters ahead and openly laughed at my shock. While I never managed to catch her, I am extremely proud of my sub-12 hour time. The course and scenery were magnificent, with views of the Annapurna range and trails along terraced rice paddies. I’ve never been to Mongolia and can’t wait to run through it’s rugged landscape in June. This time I set myself a new stretch goal …

Designing a process for self exploration

Since a number of people have asked about my self exploration process and shared their desire to do some exploring themselves, I thought I’d write up my experience thus far. Not only is it helpful for me to document the process, but also reflect on it. I welcome any feedback and questions! Background My initial intention was to stay and grow with my previous company for many years. As soon as I realized that it wouldn’t be possible last August, I decided to leave. This gave me the unexpected opportunity to reflect on what was missing both personally and professionally. First and foremost, I allowed my health to deteriorate while I was working there. That’s why I made sleep, eating healthy and physical exercise such a priority for the first 3 months of my break. Then I tried my best to reflect on the professional experience and decided that I should evaluate my next role based on skill fit, team fit, and mission fit. At a minimum, I had to feel confident that I’d add significant …

Reflecting on a year of pop-up dinners

Almost one year ago, a casual conversation over coffee became an ongoing experiment in crafting immersive dining experiences to build lasting connections through engaging dialog. Six dinners and many tweeks later, I’m beginning to hone in on the building blocks that form a foundation for success. While Hong Kong is an extremely social city, almost all interactions happen outside the home. Apartments are small and kitchens even smaller, so people rarely entertain in their own space. This creates an unfortunate dynamic where conversations tend to be artificially shortened by local restaurant dining customs and there’s usually a point when participants must “ante up” in order to continue the discussion. Interactions don’t have the opportunity to organically unfold over time in a relaxed atmosphere. One of the few exceptions to this rule are junk boats, where the people are captive for a full day and the financial obligations are sorted in advance. However, this environment is not conducive to deep discussions because there are so many stimuli competing for attention. Hong Kong expats often find that while they have many casual friends, they are missing the deeper …