Internet Rabbit hole

Our work, does not have a communal fridge.

So I Googled:

Do pickled jalapenos need to be refrigerated?

I first looked at WikiAnswers. Then Yahoo! answers. Still wasn’t satisfied. Where I did find in-depth answers? On a Harley Davidson forum. Not a cooking forum. Not a hobbyist forum or a DIY (do it yourself) forum or even a super niche mason jarring everything and anything Pinterest board but a biker forum of all places. It makes no sense.

But all I know, is that find, was one of the most delightful and charming finds I’ve had in a looooooong long time. And reminded once again, why I love the Internet so much. 

It’s really, the little things.

See the answers here.

Steve Jobs.

I love this so much.
Never heard this story.

From the FT archives:

Chelsea Isaacs, a student from Long Island University, had got in touch with the Apple press office to get some information about the iPad for a paper she was writing. Six times she tried, but no response. So she e-mailed the chief executive to complain.

“Mr Jobs, I humbly ask why Apple is so wonderfully attentive to the needs of students, whether it be with the latest, greatest invention or the company’s helpful customer service line, and yet, ironically, the media relations department fails to answer any of my questions which are, as I have repeatedly told them, essential to my academic performance.”

Mr Jobs replied: “Our goals do not include helping you get a good grade. Sorry.”

Chelsea composed another long message in which she argued that Apple should have answered out of common courtesy.

This time he responded: “Nope. We have over 300 million users and we can’t respond to their requests unless they involve a problem of some kind. Sorry.”

So she pointed out she was a customer and did have a problem.

He replied: “Please leave us alone.”

via ‘Time to Spit Out More Praise for Apple” published Sept. 26th, 2010.

And I leave with you wisdom, from the one person I admire and basically, worship:

Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

— via Steve Jobs’ Stanford commencement speech, June 12, 2005

Much needed reminder. Inspiration. Motivation.
I miss Steve Jobs.

Read the whole thing here



I had dinner with the ex-CEO of Microsoft Japan last night.


Ok. That’s out of my system and now, a disclaimer. I make it a point never ever to pipe personal business, brag or name drop — especially online. It’s bad manners and frankly, douchey… but this, is an exception. Continue reading

Game Feel and Why it is Relevant to Tech

I stumbled onto an old article over on Gamasutra breaking down ‘game feel’. It was written and published in 2007, yet the piece is still so relevant.

Technology is so difficult to explain, I commend the author for laying out ‘game feel’ or what technologists call the ‘stickiness factor’ or ‘gamification’ so simply.

As we enter the era of designing for feel, this is a must read for anyone involved in technology or the Internet in any way — including marketers.

Take this quote for example:

If your player is going to spend most of her time steering and controlling the avatar, experiencing a sense physicality and control, shouldn’t the amount of time you spend on that feeling be commensurate? From the beginning of preproduction until the final game ships, design should include game feel.

Replace player with user. Avatar with website. Game with site. Ships to launches and game feel with user experience to read:

If your user is going to spend most of her time steering and controlling the website, experiencing a sense physicality and control, shouldn’t the amount of time you spend on that feeling be commensurate? From the beginning of preproduction until the final site launches, design should include user experience.

More often times than not, I see people focusing on bells and whistles more than what and how a person feels while using their product. Their site. Or their service…which is the most important element of speaking to an audience through technology.

So do please takes five minutes out of your days to read the Gamasutra article here.

Mentorship in Japan

I attended Tech Crunch Disrupt in Tokyo and had a great time.

I went with zero expectations which I think is why I found so much value from Disrupt. I learned about the Japanese community, the established Japanese venture firms. How Japanese VCs think. The main problems entrepreneurs are attempting to solve, etc., etc. I’m really glad I went.

For the first time in all my years of attending events and conferences, I was tweeting away with the appropriate hashtag as I wanted to meet people…and it worked!  Several people approached me at the event and even contacted me afterwards. In particular, people seem to want to hear more than 140 characters about Kim Mai-Cutler’s session with a Sr. Executive from Docomo Ventures and a Sr. Director at Salesforce.

There was one question: “what are your thoughts on mentoring and how are you mentoring Japanese entrepreneurs?”…that seemed to baffle the Docomo Ventures and Salesforce guys.

At first, I thought there was a language barrier, since the interview was conducted in English. But no matter however many ways the question was rephrased, the concept of mentorship didn’t seem to register.

So the original question of their thoughts on mentoring was changed to: “Is there someone in Japan the younger entrepreneurs look to for inspiration?” followed-up with: “In the US, it’s Mark Zuckerberg for example.” …and that was when the Docomo Ventures guy replied with “what, you want me to name names? *insert laugh*” and the Salesforce director chimed in: “Japan’s entrepreneurship community is like how the US was 10 years ago, so there isn’t a person younger entrepreneurs can look to yet.”

…the latter, was at least an answer but not really an answer.
So I tweeted the following:


I get why the non-Japanese in the room were extremely confused by the VC’s answers. It’s near impossible for someone who isn’t Japanese, to understand why the concept of mentorship is non-existent in Japan. It starts with how there is no Japanese word for ‘mentor’ or ‘mentorship’.

One of my most trusted Japanese-English dictionaries defines ‘mentor’ with the etymology then goes into Odysseus and the Battle of Troy. ‘Mentorship’ is translated as 「指導」, which is a disciplinary action for a minor infringement of the rules in judo.

Japan is historically an extremely hierarchial society dating centuries back. Many traditions from our military roots or craftsmanship traits still exist. This history and our culture, is the reason we have so many professionals who have worked years perfecting their crafts. Take Jiro, of ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi‘ for example, who is rewarded a Michelin year after year. He is 85 years old. His son is 50 and they are still constantly working towards mastering the art of sushi. Jiro is an extreme case, but the fundamentals of producing life-long excellence falls under the basic apprentice-master traditions.

What does that mean? Well, we still speak to elders in honorofics. We are taught to do as we are told from top down. We certainly do not question those who are older with more experience. We are expected to learn by reading, listening or observing older and experienced people as questions, can at times be considered a sign of disrespect — like we are questioning their expertise. Or it may signify we are not putting enough effort to find answers on our own, or worst case scenario, stupidity.

There are many Japanese companies that are able to move forward, while anchored in historic methods. But from a technological aspect, I wish for Japan to be one of the first countries outside of the US, to adapt one of the greatest things about the United States: the ability to equate respect with output as opposed to seniority. Tech provides relevant solutions by building products or services — it doesn’t require centuries of silent observation and perfecting a single skill like making sushi.

I also wish for the Japanese community to adopt one of the greatest things of the American tech community: mentoring, fostering, giving back and paying it forward. To build an environment where people collaborate, brainstorm, help each other and share knowledge.

The VC arms of major corporations like NTT Docomo and Salesforce can set examples and pave ways. I was a bit bummed to hear them stumped by Kim’s question. Perhaps this is my warm and fuzzy American side talking but I decided to expand on my tweet, as I am believer in community and mentoring.

As tech is rapidly progressing, I hope the ecosystem evolves as well. If not, I’m just going to have to snail-mail or fax every Japanese VC firm this Plato quote ;)

“Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.”
― Plato

You Don’t Belong Here #Japan

I had drinks in this posh area called Nishi Azabu with people I met when I still lived in NY. Japanese, who went to Harvard-Yale-Princeton-Stanford equivalents of Japan. They work in a mega ad agency, that would be like a McKinsey-Bain, combined with say, Ogilvy in the US, because Japanese people like to dissect everything, even marketing campaigns, come up with super complicated solutions on a 200 slide Power Point with no execution methods. Late 30s, possibly 40s since with the Japanese, one could never tell real ages.

Pleasant small talk was exchanged and they got right down to what they wanted to ask: What are you doing in Tokyo?

Which was followed up by: “You don’t belong here. There’s no place for someone like you in Tokyo.” and ended with: “No matter how hot you are, you’re not going to impact Japan — Japan doesn’t want change. We don’t need change. There’s no room for someone like you. So let us ask again, what are you doing here?”

I sat there, not knowing what to say back. The people I have met in Tokyo so far, have been beyond welcoming and even excited that someone like me (bilingual, raised in the US and most importantly, of Japanese blood) moved to Tokyo. Then it hit me: perhaps this is how some Japanese view me but while sober, too polite and composed to be honest.

That conversation was the massive wake-up call I needed. It was necessary in order to see for myself, the types of people who sit on top of mega Japanese corporations.

Those words are also the reason I am in Tokyo. Those words reaffirmed how much disruption this country still has room for, as we have seen time and time again, the many companies run by people who think themselves, their products and / or their services are invincible. So they move forward with the tried and tested business that works, focusing only on efficiency to maintain the one or few success methods. And the automation stifles innovation and ultimately, becomes their downfall on their way to failure, no matter how  successful the track record. Microsoft, RIM, Dell, MySpace, HP, etc., etc., Japan, is dangerously on that path: Sony, Nintendo, Canon, Olympus, Panasonic, Mixi, Gree, DeNa, et al.,

Japan is just begging to be disrupted.
And I am looking forward to playing a part in the disruption.

ADDED 11/11/13: please don’t misunderstand — this doesn’t apply to all Japanese people. Japan is a country with such rich history and of course, there will be underlying past cultural remnants such as: nationalism and sexism intertwined — even in 2013. This doesn’t make me hate this country or my people. I am not discouraged nor disappointed. At all.

Japan, Japanese People and Sex

Ok. This is the first and last time I will address this.

Many people are asking about the Guardian article depicting Japan as some weird country with all these bizarre personality problems and sexual issues.

There are many strange things about Japan. Things that make zero sense. Sometimes, the weirdness is just so off the weirdness Richter scale, I don’t blame the world for thinking we are freaks. But look, there are freaks all over the planet. Japanese freaks are simply more visible.

Humans of Earth are so curious about Japan’s weirdness, naturally, our freaky sub-cultures are exposed, mocked and often misunderstood. That’s it. We’re no weirder than any other country. I promise.

Bottomline, Joshua Keating of Slate said it best (backed by a bunch of stats) in his post ‘No, Japanese People Have Not Given Up on Sex’:

 A number of Eastern European countries have lower fertility rates than Japan, but we don’t often see articles portraying Czechs and Poles as sexless nerds.

via here

So don’t worry! Japanese people have not given up on sex!
The End.

*if you’re interested in the original Guardian piece, it’s here

Asian Market 101

global market

1. Asia, is the global leader in online growth.


2. Asia, is the global leader for mobile market share


3. Asia, is a lucrative market for mobile revenues.

This is no secret — that’s why so many people take interest in Asia and one of the reasons I moved to Tokyo.

However, Asia includes the following four countries: China, India, Japan and South Korea. Those four countries account for 66% of Asia’s population, 60% of Asia’s mobile connections and over 70% of regional mobile income. Four markets, four countries with four very different ecosystems.

China = population of 1.4 billion people, GDP of 8.2 trillion USD
India = population of 1.2 billion people, GDP of 1.84 trillion USD
South Korea = population of 50M people, GDP of 1.13 trillion USD
Japan = population of 127.6M people, GDP of 5.96 trillion USD

Then, there are the smaller countries with high GDPs and/or high population like: Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, etc., etc.

To put that into perspective, the US has a population of 314M people (double Japan) with a GDP of 15.68 trillion USD. Compared to the big four Asian countries (Japan, South Korea, India and China), the US has been ahead of the race as far as development, access and economic distribution. This development gap the US has is significantly wider with India and China than the gap the US has with Japan and South Korea, but the US is still ahead of these four countries.

As much as I commend South Korea and Japan’s economies and their astounding growths, India and China’s rapid growth is clearly a focal point if you’re paying attention to the Asian market. Indeed, Asia is a lucrative market with bright economic futures and much wealth ahead.

However, the most important takeaway and my fourth point, is the Asian market is far from a market, one market, single market. People (including myself in the past), casually say Asia — almost as though China, Japan and South Korea are like what Texas, NY and California are to the US.

So for those intrigued by the Asian market, please remember Asia is a massive market that is close to impossible to penetrate, unless one understands what they are dealing with. There is massive opportunity here. It’s fun and lucrative, with plenty of room for disruption in each of the respective ecosystems in very different ways.

But in order to get anything done and move any of these economies forward, these points are so important — trust me, I live in ‘Asia’ ;)

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4