Why Are We Still Carrying Wallets in 2017?

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The food court inside one of the biggest malls in Bangkok — Paragon — has digital menu boards and is cashless. This food court in this ‘third world country’ Bangkok is more advanced than Japan or America. This digitization not just aesthetically pleasing, it actually works and here is why:

  • efficient — because cash is not exchanged, there is barely a line and even the most popular spots the transaction is really fast
  • effective for SMBs — zero cash transactions with profit reconciliation at end of day, the number of mistakes are limited to erroneous input vs erroneous input + too little/less change

In Bangkok, the public transportation system is called BTS. And each BTS station also have similar methods where all the tiny stalls take zero cash and only these pre-paid cards.

How does a developing nation figure it out before the rest of the first world???

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Digital Expectations: from a leadership standpoint

Three years ago I addressed something that should be thought about more so now than ever: Digital communication expectations. In 2017 people rely on chat apps to conduct business: Slack, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Ding Talk, LINE, and such. So now on top of email, we have communication coming at us from various directions.

Currently I manage a team of about 15 people and we are growing super fast. With several projects going on simultaneously, we are in constant communication via Slack, WhatsApp, and Ding Talk (Ding is another chat app for our China clients  — apparently Tencent (WeChat’s parent company) and Weibo cannot be trusted). I told our team there are times I might send messages at odd hours of the day and please do not feel obligated to respond. After a week or so, I noticed everyone would respond right away.

I followed Sheryl Sandberg’s lead in communicating with her team, that just because she sends emails late at night she doesn’t expect an immediate response (via Bloomberg Studio). Laying out expectations encourages a fair, flexible work place. But when I put it to practice, I found this to be unrealistic: Most people will always feel the need to respond right away. Then, I imagined myself working at Facebook and if got an email from Sheryl Sandberg, I would feel obligated to respond right away.

As senior leadership and co-founder of our company, I realized it was now up to me to relieve the team of the burden and this sense of responsibility to prove they are of value. So now I jot things into notes (SimpleNote, Apple Notes, email draft, anything — to prevent from sending messages) and make sure to send during work hours. This method has worked well so far and I encourage other leaders and managers to do the same.

Just something to think about.

Aaaaaaand we are back!

As a child of Japanese immigrants growing up in predominately white areas in The States, I knew we were always different. We took our shoes off inside the house (weird). We ate fish and rice (super weird). My mother dressed me in conservative pinafores (super duper weird). Like aliens from another planet, we didn’t speak English with each other. Everything about our family was strange. I learned to accept we were simply different and I would always be weird.

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Resurrection of TokyoFinds

BIG NEWS

I laid TokyoFinds to rest at the beginning of the year.

Thanks to Leah and Angie at Tumblr, IT HAS BEEN BROUGHT BACK TO LIFE!!

REJOICE. Visit Finds here: tokyofinds.com

Sidenotes: as much space as I take up on the internet, TokyoFinds is the only place I post under a paid domain LOL
For those wondering what Finds is:

Instead of polluting my Instagram, Facebook and Twitter with all things Tokyo and Japan, I decided to deposit them here. Enjoy.

Big shout-out to Leah!!!!!!!’n Thank you, thank you thank you!

Reminders

  
Facebook’s new(ish) Timehop like features are so great. Today, it pulled up a note I published on FB six years ago. It’s a quote from Mother Teresa. 

So wise. 

Speaking of notes, I wonder what happened to that feature. I haven’t published one in years and haven’t seen anyone else publish either. 

So it goes…

Ode to The West Wing, Aaron Sorkin

It’s not about abortion. It’s about the next 20 years. Twenties and thirties, it was the role of government. Fifties and sixties, it was civil rights. The next two decades, it’s gonna be privacy. I’m talking about the Internet. I’m talking about cellphones. I’m talking about health records, and who’s gay and who’s not. And moreover, in a country born on a will to be free, what could be more fundamental than this?

— Sam Seaborn in The West Wing, Season 1, Episode 9. Air date: 11/24/1999

I’m re-watching “The West Wing” again, letting it run in the background in lieu of music. No matter how many times I watch the series — at least three times a year for about six years in a row now — I am blow away by the super sharp, clever dialogue.

The quote up top is only one of the many reasons why “The West Wing” is still my favorite series on television – hands down. Think about it. In 1999, the public was still heavily reliant on pagers. The internet was only used by ‘nerds’ and ‘weirdos’. Dial-up was the norm. Aol was slowly being discovered by teens. Sorkin was way ahead of his time for someone writing for television.

If you haven’t seen the series, it is highly recommended. I may also be biased, as that particular quote by Sam, reminds me how fortunate I am to have lived through one of the most spectacular eras: the shift from analog (vinyls, cassette tapes) to digital. Rise of hardware, software, cloud and back to hardware (wearables). The mobile revolution (pagers to flip phones to smartphones) — I mean, I can go on and on. Every time I think of all that I have seen and experienced, I cannot help but to be grateful.

Thank you, mom and dad!

Digital Expectations

She sucks.” he said. “Just because she has different email habits than you and me, it doesn’t means ‘she sucks’.” I immediately wrote back.

The other day I hooked a friend up with a friend of a friend for a ‘friend’s and family’ AirBnB discount. My friend looking for the AirBnB isn’t online 24/7 but for hyper connected people, one day of unresponsiveness seems like a week. My friend hooking my other friend up with the AirBnB sent a borderline hostile email threatening to cancel the verbal reservation if she doesn’t respond within x number of hours. The whole thing was a bit stressful for all parties involved and unnecessarily dramatic.

But then I thought about it and realized I am guilty of acting like him too. That when I send an email, I expect a response within a day. Which got me wondering: “Do digital people expect too much from others who have different behaviors than us? Do I cause unnecessary drama, stress and negativity because of those expectations?”

I don’t know if there is one answer but the biggest takeaway I got from this interaction is the world isn’t going to end because someone doesn’t immediately respond. Be more empathetic. Lay off expectations. Ease up a bit. Not just for myself but to be better towards others and, to the world.

Learn something new everyday.