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.
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!
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…
Sean absolutely nails it.
…and the saddest part is how I’m really considering sending future people I date when the time comes to ‘talk about feelings’ to this post.
My goal this year is to be more human — must. knock. it. off!
I’ve been getting inquiries on what I’m up to and I guess I should share here, too. Without going into too much detail, I’m pursuing a passion and figured out a way to make money from doing what I love. In short, it involves food.
Don’t get me wrong. I still love everything about the internet and technology. I’m just focusing more on myself. I started 2015 with a plan and working daily to meet milestones.
If interested, I’m blogging over on my other site. Though heads-up, if you’re not keen on food (dining, recipes, food related nerdy posts, etc.) then you shouldn’t bother clicking ;) Once I launch what I’m working on, I will for sure update here, too.
Until then, see you on OtherBits!
I got sucked into signing up for a lame site / app. It’s apparently the ‘new Tinder’ but a more selective version, as people of the opposite sex need to vote you in to become a member.
So I log-in, create an account and am immediately judged by the opposite sex.
The first thing I notice? How dare an app that’s not even optimized for the iPhone 6/6+ judge me. The app’s text is so massive it looks like an old person phone where the font is blown-up so large, one text message hogs the entire screen.
The more I think about it, the stupider this app seems so I delete it from my phone. Not even 10 seconds later I get an email notification: “Someone is checking out your profile.”
Um what? Deleting the app doesn’t delete my profile? Great.
So I log onto their website and…
Holy 1999. This service just took some button .gif off stock images or something, didn’t even bother cropping it. Even kids on MySpace had better graphics than that up there on their clunky HTML pages. Jesus. And don’t even get me started on the font.
Maybe it’s just me but for a service to brand themselves as ‘exclusive’, their attention to detail – or lack thereof – is quite shameful. I’m embarrassed for them and hope this service burns to the ground.
What a crock of shit.
I started TokyoFinds when I first moved to Japan and within several months it was doing well. Posts were getting picked up by major blogs (Bored Panda, Buzzfeed, etc.) and a lot of my friends in the US loved it.
Well. My login and password were saved in my phone and browser, so I hadn’t manually logged-in for over a year. When I switched phones, it set off some security trigger and prompted punching in email and password manually on both browser and app. Lo and behold I have zero clue what the log-in and password is.
I’ve been trying to ask Tumblr for help but they’re basically useless. So I’m closing that chapter of my internet life. (I’m blogging about Japan more in-depth here, if anyone’s interested.)
So long, farewell, see-ya TokyoFinds!
And good riddance. I never look back darling, I live for the now. ;)
Got picked up on or as we say, ‘nanpa’ in Japanese. He was charming and confident – rare for a Japanese guy. Was about to exchange info when he pulled out his…
…flip phone (๑°⌓°๑)
Flip phones in 2015 because Japan!
So I gave him my NY number ;)
Several people immediately asked how I was able to pry myself away from my phone. Actually the conversations were more or less like this: how in the fuck does someone like you stay unplugged for so long?
It’s not as hard as I thought it would be.
For operation Internet detox, I started by reorganizing my homescreen too look like this:
Social apps have always been strategically placed where they are the easiest to access. I swapped social apps with apps related to the activities I committed to do more: read and write. With help of muscle memory it’s working. I’ve been in the habit of constantly checking Facebook or Instagram and my fingers would touch the icons on the phone without thinking. Now, when my fingers automatically touch the screen where Facebook or Instagram were, Kindle and iBooks launch. In lieu of WhatsApp or LINE, Simplenote and Werdsmith open, prompting me to write.
I still have Facebook, Instagram and a few misc social apps. They’re just tucked into a folder where it takes effort to access. I turned off notifications* for all social sites and scheduled notifications for most messaging apps.
I also told myself to only check Twitter for news — being unplugged shouldn’t allow ignorance. Nuzzel is my favorite news app. Of all the news apps I’ve used, it’s the most solid with delivering articles most interesting to me. I barely need to launch Twitter anymore.
Since I didn’t trust myself, I took it a step further and disabled Wi-Fi in my home. So now my phone can only browse on mobile and if I go over my allotted 4gigs, I pay data overage fees. When money is involved it’s pretty easy to be disciplined.
It’s been less than a month but I barely go on Facebook anymore (just Messenger). Look at Twitter once or twice a day for news. And Instagram only in the morning — if that.
And that is how to wean off phone addiction. If I can do it, anyone can. Anyone.
*Backstory re: notifications: in 2011 I got fed up with notifications. It felt like my phone was constantly pestering me: someone commented on your post! You got a new mention! Email, email, email, respond, respond, respond. Text, text, text.
(I’ve also always had a one screen only rule: only keep apps I use.)
Turning off notifications made my life better. I was now in charge of when and what to respond to instead of letting my phone control my life. So I am used to having minimally invasive notifications.
I have a problem. I am addicted to the Internet.
For over a decade almost every free second has been spent online. When social networks gained momentum, not only was I spending all my free time online, I started making time to go online. Combine that with a constant need to learn new things, it was over: I now had to force myself to go offline. I’ve even resorted to pulling the plug so my laptop dies. Embarrassing, I know.
I came across a post from a blog that taught me something so great, I wanted to share with everyone. However the writing was so painful to read (like fingernails on a chalkboard cringe worthy painful), I didn’t feel compelled to pipe it out on my networks, and did the next best thing: blog about it myself.
The 4-7-8 trick is actually not a trick. It’s a breathing technique used during meditation, yoga, wellness practitioners swear by it, etc. and now that I think about it, I’ve done it many times before during yoga. It never occurred to retain what I learned after leaving the session until now.
If you feel anxious, stressed, or have trouble sleeping, try this. I swear. It works.
- breathe in through nose for 4 seconds
- hold breath for 7 seconds
- exhale from mouth for 8 seconds
Stress, anxiety → adrenaline pumps through veins → causing heart to beat rapidly = under-breathing.
4 second inhale forces more oxygen intake
7 second breath hold allows oxygen to affect bloodstream
8 second exhale emits carbon dioxide from lungs
above slows heart rate and increases oxygen in bloodstream to relax your heart, mind, and overall central nervous system; almost like a natural sedative.
The human body never ceases to amaze.
To learn more, I think this man pioneered the technique.
*Sidenote: not sure how I feel about the first post of 2015 being about some metaphysical mumbo jumbo but whatever, maybe this is a sign I need to think of myself and my well being more? Who knows, not really reading deep into it.
Since switching to the iPhone 6+, I’ve been reading a lot more in the past few weeks than (ashamedly) in the past year. I suppose the battery life, screen, and overall user experience of the phone prompts me to open the Kindle app more frequently.
Anyway, here is my round-up of books I recommend for 2014 — all non-fiction; I rarely read fiction anymore.
How Asia Works by Joe Studwell
Whizzed through in one sitting. Studwell makes compelling arguments for his thesis on the respective economies of Asia (developed and emerging). Easy to read and not ‘academic’ at all; which makes it an ideal book for non-business majors who want to learn about “Asia”.
I might be a bit biased, as this book combines two topics of my current interest (well, near obsession) with: economics and Asia.
The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War by Fred Kaplan
In 2012, I had the privilige of experiencing life in Washington D.C. during a US presidential election year. I met many people from all walks of life I probably wouldn’t have met in NY, LA, or SF.
2012 was also the year General David Petraeus – then Director of CIA – was under fire for a scandal. I couldn’t understand why tabloid topics were hogging air time and recall voicing it aloud a few times… which led to several conversations with random ranking or retired officers from the US military on their views of the General. The more stories I heard, the more I wanted to learn about this man everyone spoke so highly of. The anecdotes of him on the ground in the Middle East left me speechless — and will happily re-share (in person).
In January of 2014, this book was published and had been rotting on a ‘To Read’ list… until the 6+.
For the record my military, government, and defense knowledge are limited to what I learned in school and read in mainstream media. This book opened up a whole new world for me but, more than learning something new, I am in awe of General Petraeus’ leadership skills and strategic mind.
This GQ piece from 2008 encapsulates why I was so intent on learning more about him. Read the article here.
Zero to One by Peter Thiel
Zero to One simplifies complex business models and theories, goes over building companies and basic economics in an easily digestible way. Peter Thiel’s experience as well as passion for tech and The Valley are consistently laced throughout. The breadth of Thiel’s academic knowledge is showcased as he pulls in history, key historic figures, and even walks us through Silicon Valley during the consumer Internet years while sprinkling current factoids. His extraordinary business mind is clear from the first word to last.
It feels like a conversation with Peter Thiel as a mentor or investor of my startup and serves more as a self-help, motivational book for entrepreneurs, aspiring entrepreneurs, and nerds vs a business book.
As much as I respect him and his accomplishments, I wish I could say it changed my life. Sadly, I didn’t learn anything ground breaking . (Or perhaps I simply needed to lower expectations.)
Nevertheless, still a great read and resource.
A few of my highlighted passages: (click image to expand)
Anthony Bourdain has a foul mouth, likely a drunk, and stirs controversy. But you cannot deny, the man has legit entrepreneurial game. He’s written best selling books. Hosted some pretty damn good shows, and now a household name.
Maybe I can relate to him more as I’ve worked in the food industry. My very first job was as a waitress in a sushi joint — typical — then moved on to bartending. Working in food is where I picked up a lot of hustling skills that consistently help me in my non-food industry life. In food, it’s about knowing your capabilities and ceasing opportunities. When your salary is minimum wage and you depend on tips, there is no such thing as ‘luck’ — you create your own luck. Not because you want to, but because you have to make the most out of situations in order to make ends meet.
Any business owner, founder, aspiring entrepreneur, and even individuals looking to climb the corporate ladder can learn a thing or two from successful people who have ‘made it’, in an industry as cut throat as food. And Bourdain lays it out best in this Men’s Journal interview.
On actions vs words
“I quickly came to understand that there are two types of people in this world: There are the type of people who are going to live up to what they said they were going to do yesterday, and then there are people who are full of shit. And that’s all you really need to know.”
Takeaway: When it comes down to it there are those who walk the walk and those who talk the talk. Key is recognizing the difference quickly and cutting out the bullshitters. It saves lots of time, effort, money, and feelings. Yes feelings. Let’s be real. It sucks being let down or disappointed.
“In a world full of bullshit, when you need something as badly as drugs, your bullshit detector gets pretty acute. Can I trust this guy with money? Is this guy’s package going to be all he says it was?”
Takeaway: Imagine every conversation like a beautiful presentation. If you think about it, 99% of presentations that stick with us have filler slides — you know, the slides that seem to have no purpose except to impress the audience with inspirational quotes in pretty font faces, compelling charts with repetitive factiods or some unrelated slide with cute baby animals or a funny meme photo, etc., etc., — you get the picture right? When stripping away filler slides and concentrate on the objective of the deck, the essence is 1% — if that. On decks, it’s okay. Presentations are supposed to awe the crowd and leave impressions.
I look at conversations with people we meet for the first time like Powerpoint (or Keynote) presentations. People paint the best pictures of themselves. It starts from presentation — attire, mannerisms — to online personas to what they talk about. Ignore 99% of the superficial stuff and listen to what they say.
Bourdain nails it with two questions to ask yourself when meeting new people: is the other person all he says he is? And can I trust this guy with money?
Words that come out of people’s mouths and first impressions can charm and impress. But life is way too short to deal with bullshitters who simply want to look good to other people for whatever reasons they may have. Do you really think people who spend all their energy looking good to others can add value to your life? Sure they may be fun but they most certainly don’t help you make money, and frankly, distract you from reaching your goals. And I’m not going to lie, I’ve wasted a great deal of time being burned by people who seemed this way and that way, promised all kinds of stuff but were just full of shit.
Find your own questions that help identify if someone is really worth your time and can help reach your bottomline.
Nikesh Arora ex-Google exec, now Softbank Internet and Media CEO / vice chairman of the overall company tweeted he is looking for “ivy leaguers with US / Japan experience”. Why did he specify ivy leaguers? Does he realize he is biased?
Or, what about when we see someone in the US, who is using a smartphone other than an iPhone. What are your initial thoughts? It’s okay, be honest. You’re not alone. I’ve heard many girlfriends say things like “I’d never date someone with an Android phone.”
We automatically assume things about people born and raised in certain cities, countries, regions, etc. And judge people by how they look or present themselves to the world. We don’t do it on purpose but we are all guilty of some sort of bias and judgment.
But imagine if you unknowingly carry those thoughts into the workplace. Do you choose to do better work with colleagues you already have an unconscious bias towards? Or what if you are a hiring manager; are you confident your choices aren’t driven by bias?
Ponder that for a second.
I’ve expressed on Twitter how I am thrilled to the toes Megan Smith is America’s new CTO. And it seems most of the tech community is too. General consensus is because she is a female. Or part of the LGBT community. Or both.
I am excited because I have followed her and what she has been doing for Google as an individual (if you’re interested, YouTube her talks from Google I/O or interviews on Google.org and Google [X] to see the many reasons why she is such an excellent leader and technologist — if you love tech from the core like me, it’s really, worth your time.)
One of my favorite clips I’ve seen of her, is about bias — conscious and unconscious bias — which I believe, is important for everyone to be cognizant of. Especially, if you are management level or higher.
This is the video, I’ve been tweeting a lot (with little to zero interest) but now that you’re here, watch:
I wish there were transcripts but some of my favorite soundbites – few are paraphrased:
“You hear venture capitalists talk about pattern matching when they are looking for the next young entrepreneur. But they are also pattern matching for things they have bias in, and not realizing they are doing that. So they might be more likely to fund a White or Asian man vs another (and she gets interrupted).”
“(Unconscious bias) is no one’s fault. It’s not like we are actively doing this. We all have it. It’s inherited. It’s systemic. What we have to do as an industry, is educate ourselves.”
“Diverse teams just make better products. Patents written with men and women on them, for example, are cited more. And the number of times a patent is cited, is a measure to know if a patent is better.”
“If you are applying for a role, a woman would only apply if they have 7 of the 10 characteristics required. Men would apply if they only have 3 of the 10. So as a manager, you just need to be conscious of that, look at all the candidates, and do a little more active work to make sure you’ve got the best pool.”
Google’s Diversity website also has a nice summary of what unconscious bias is:
The science of inclusion
Research shows that when we are more aware of our unconscious bias, we can make more objective decisions. In 2013, more than 20,000 Googlers (nearly half of our Googlers) engaged in workshops that focus on the science of how the brain works. This created a company-wide dialogue around how unconscious bias can affect perceptions of others, interactions with coworkers and clients, and the business overall. We hope our focus on making the unconscious conscious will not only foster a more inclusive workplace, but also make us a better company. Watch this video to find out more.
We can do better. Let us be better.
Still parsing thoughts from my 12 days in Singapore and Bangkok. I loved everything about Singapore — from the diversity, food, city, harmony, it truly is, a melting pot. Bangkok absolutely blew my mind. I couldn’t help but be that girl, walking around with her mouth wide open. I spent an extended time in the Philippines (Manila and the countryside of Southern Philippines) a while back, so I should have been used to an emerging nation… in theory. But I don’t know what it is about Bangkok that at first, made me a bit uneasy.
Then, I got used to it, and fell head over heels in love. There is so much energy, stimulation and there are movements happening in various communities, industries, that I was very fortunate to see first hand. It’s a bit of a bummer that it seems as though no one is telling the stories, so I definitely plan to do so. I hope I can do it justice.
My initial takeaways:
– Singapore is very developed and civilized
– Bangkok is an emerging nation, yet not as messy as say India, China, or the other BRICS
– there are massive opportunities in both nations
– and there are still many, many, more regions I need to see
The majority of my time was spent as a holiday, connecting and re-connecting with the friends living in SG and BKK (most in the food industry). I will chronicle my learnings on hi.co.
I also had the great fortune to meet and travel with so many great people. I cannot thank Dave McClure and the entire 500 team for allowing me to tag along for portions of it.
Until I get everything out here or on hi, I will leave you all with this tweet which basically sums up how I feel about SEA.
From Dec. 26th to January 4th, I traveled Japan solo. I chose to chronicle my trip on Hi — publishing platform — instead of Tweeting, Instagramming, Facebooking and even on my own blog.
People have been asking why, this essay beautifully captures why:
Africa burns my eyes and sets my nerves on edge.
Even if you aren’t interested in Hi, the essay is a must read, for anyone looking to be whisked away to a land far away with…words.
A photo from one of the many of the small Japanese villages I visited.
You can read my entire trip here: “Epic Trip 2013”
I once heard a story of how the head of Morgan Stanley’s Emerging Markets spends time on the ground, for months, before drawing conclusions and making moves.
I am not head of emerging markets anywhere nor am I an analyst. I am a technologist.
I started out as a product manager in a Fortune 100 B2B enterprise software corporation. My role was to mobilize their main product. I then continued to find places within the intersection of product, Internet, users and content that aligns with business objects, and fell into marketing and content strategy. I’ve lived through one of, if not, the best, times in technology — experiencing the shift of hardware to software, software to web based apps then to mobile apps. I saw the disruption of music, telecom, hardware and electronic industries. I lived it. Breathed it. Worked in it — and still do. There is nothing I am more in touch with, than technology (even myself).
So yes, my posts are mainly qualitative observations. I depend on multiple analyses and news pieces, blogs and tech blogs, and even Twitter, to stay on top of hot topics.
Right now, there is a lot of focus on Asia.
As someone on the ground in Asia and knows the US market, I hope to bring cultural truths which supports numbers from people who get paid to conduct quantitative analyses.
I love technology. I also have a lot to say; too much sometimes, as I am living in one of the most exciting markets in 2013: Asia.
This blog, is the outlet I dump my thoughts. I hope you enjoy reading these posts as much as I love writing them.
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.
Pardon while I repeat myself: 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
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’ ;)