All posts tagged: updates

Continuous participatory change

This morning I’m sitting on the tiny, south-facing balcony of our flat with a coffee-filled mug with red letters that say “niet normaal”. Even though the balcony is overwhelmed by vines, I somehow haven’t managed to keep our mint alive. This is the third attempt to complete this update, trying to find a narrative thread through the last 12 months. While the phrase “continuous participatory change” is used as an approach to organisational transformation, I think it a powerful way to approach all of life. For most, change is difficult, uncomfortable and disorienting. More than ever, it’s also the only constant. Over the last year, I have been learning new ways to thrive in these conditions and navigate change. A habit I adopted last year is to ask myself questions from Changing on the Job, such as: “What assumptions about the world underpin my or others actions and opinions?” It has helped me reframe many challenging situations and identify some of my own blind spots. For example, I strongly believe that creating more connections within a network makes …

Intensive UK course

It’s been almost 24 hours since I returned home from the 3 Peaks Challenge. While I’m still processing the experience, there is one concept that became a recurring theme throughout the journey. In the Art of Possibility, Zander says “You can always grace yourself with responsibility for anything that happens in your life. You can always find within yourself the source of any problem you have.” It’s not about taking more than your fair share of responsibility for any given situation, but understanding in what ways you contributed to it. Of the many lessons the experience taught me, it certainly helped me to internalise that concept. To quickly provide some background, the national “3 Peaks Challenge” involves summiting 3 specific UK peaks within the span of 24 hours. The 3 peaks involved are Ben Nevis in Scotland (1345m), Scafell Pike in England (978m), and Snowdon in Wales (1085m). The total vertical climb is about 3000m and the hiking distance is 42km, or roughly the length of a marathon. You can do it independently during any 24 hour period, but it’s popular to attempt the challenge …

Hong Kong vs. London

As I begin to type, I’m chowing down on a slice of chocolate, pear and cardamom cake at an adorable cafe next to my flat in Bethnal Green. Turns out cardamom is trending in London this year and I’m taking full advantage. As I’ve said many times over, my time in London is an opportunity to both indulge in things unique to this city and look at Hong Kong in a more objective light. On that note, some initial comparisons: Hongkongers are spoiled with fantastic, cheap public transport. It’s not that London doesn’t have an extensive system or that a car is necessary to survive (like almost all US cities), but the options are not nearly as efficient and consistent here. On top of that, they are significantly more expensive. My daily commute by train in both cities clocks in at about 15 minutes on one line with no transfers. In Hong Kong it cost me HK$12.6 (£1.04) and I can’t remember a single delay in the last year. In London I spend £5.8 (HK$69.58) per …

Intellectual gluttony

Recently I returned from an amazing experience that can best be described as summer camp for adults. 140 of us were nestled in the Alps for 4 days of crisp mountain air, delicious French fare, engaging discussions and a seemingly endless supply of alcohol. Our gracious hosts were the Anthemis team, the leading financial services advisory and venture investment firm. The annual event, called Hacking Finance, is an opportunity for them to exchange ideas and build relationships. They organized thoughtful discussions around the future of work, internet of things, venture design, among other trending topics. If you ever get the opportunity to participate in something similar, please don’t hesitate! It was inspiring to meet thought leaders from the industry in a place that provided so many opportunities for meaningful interactions. The stimulation was almost overwhelming because the casual chats were often as intense as the structured ones. I immediately felt at home, which confirmed a suspicion that the Anthemis CEO and I both had. It’s about time that I move out of traditional product development into a …

Silent treatment

You’re not going to hear from me this holiday season. No phone calls, no emails, not even a tweet! I’ve decided that for my birthday I’m going to treat myself to a 10-day Vipassana meditation course. If any of you are familiar with these courses, you’ll catch the sarcasm in the word “treat”. It’s 10 days of silence: no speaking, no writing, no reading, no technology, no exercise, no stimulants. It’s redeeming quality? I’ve chosen to do the course in Sri Lanka, so the food should be wonderful, though we eat our last meal each day at noon :p. How did I come to this decision? While I have dabbled in mindfulness meditation before, I had never seriously considered a course like this until a few weeks ago. Luck favors the prepared, and I was luckily prepared when a new mentor walked into my life. He challenged me to focus more of my efforts on introspection, reflection, and self awareness. As I explored ways in which I could do this, it became obvious that while …

Regression to the mean

It’s about time for me to regress to the mean. For those of you who have read Daniel Kahneman‘s best seller, you’ll understand where I’m coming from. He talks a great deal about luck, optimism and probability – all of which have been in my favor for far too long. Some of you have heard my casual explanation for the world’s way of “re-balancing” in the past, but he does a great job of explaining it in a much more scientific way. The reason is simple. When I signed up for the ultramarathon 3 months ago, I never expected to actually place. I wrote it down as a stretch goal in my training diary and promptly forgot about it. It wasn’t until check point 3, 15 km into the first race day, that the goal truly felt within reach. The 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 very proud of my sub-12 hour time. …

White sheet of paper

Hard to believe that my last update was in back in October 2013! While I haven’t had any motorcycle adventures since, I have had my share of zip lining in Laos and dog sledding in Sweden. Hope your adventures are equally as varied and exciting! Throughout high school, I handmade yearbooks to express my interpretation of each school year. At the end of my senior edition I reprinted this famous Calvin & Hobbes comic strip, which was Bill Watterson’s last (until recently). It seems even more appropriate now than it did then. As many of you already know, I have resigned from One Earth Designs and my last day was today. It has been an amazing journey, chalk-full of learnings and wonderful memories that I won’t soon forget. Rest assured – I have no plans to leave Hong Kong! Permanent resident status is just around the corner and my support of the HK start up scene will continue for now through Invest HK. While I was initially staring at a white sheet of paper, it didn’t …

Heaven’s here on earth

Hello all! As promised, here’s the non-Kickstarter and barely work-related update that I promised back in August. Hope all of you are well and enjoying whatever activities are filling up your days! Right now I’m sitting outside with beer at a tranquil retreat called Natural Home, nestled in the bamboo forest of Moganshan, China. It’s about 5 hours by motorcycle southwest of Shanghai. This last week has been unbelievable, not only as a result of the scenery (which was magnificent), but also by reminding me of things I haven’t had time to think about recently. For some reason, Tracy Chapman has been on repeat in my head since we set off :]. There is something truly freeing about traveling by motorcycle that I’ve never experienced before. Your senses are somehow heightened and you interact more directly with your surroundings. Riding reminded me of the freedom an open road offers and I now understand why people are drawn to it despite the danger. I’m very fortunate that my friend offered to share this experience with me. …

Greetings from Kunming

Ni hao! Most of you probably know by now that I’m in Kunming studying Chinese. I apologize for the mass message, but I wanted to share my experience thus far with friends and this is the best way to do it beyond the photos and 140 character updates on Twitter and Facebook :]. Hope you enjoy it and I look forward to hearing from you! Learning Chinese was a goal I left on the back burner for ages. My fascination with Asia started almost 8 years ago and shows no signs of diminishing. After a bit of research and discussion, I was able to find a private tutor and home stay in Kunming for 8 weeks that fits my needs. Here I can study 1/2 the day and work the other 1/2 while being immersed in the language and culture. I feel very thankful that my co-founders gave me the time and space to pursue this and lucky that I found an experience that’s the right fit for me. Thanks to everyone who helped make it possible! Kunming is the capital of the Yunnan province in southwest China. …