Hello February

Hello friends, it’s been a while, friends! I trust you’re doing great and having a fine start to the new year so far. Time flies! January has come and gone.

A little update on myself:

2016 is one roller coaster of a year. On the whole, it was a depressing year. Monetary woes, stagnant career, and ailing friendships. Yet, I received the biggest gift one can get – we welcomed a new member into our family. Amidst all these disappointing events, this is a welcomed break. A little bundle of joy, people said.

As 2016 drew to an end, the amount of sleep I’ve got dipped alarmingly. That’s to be expected when a newborn is in the house. I never really understood when other parents said treasure your sleep. Although I got awaken by his cries during the night, I take it as part and parcel of parenthood

But yes, I do miss my undisturbed rest. I’m surprised that with so little sleep, I’m still able to function and get through the working day.

To date, the number of nights I’ve gotten a good, proper sleep: 2

That’s thanks to my wife for sacrificing her precious sleep to attend to the baby’s needs. I’m grateful to have her by my side.

Fast forward to 2017, I’m looking forward to creating margins in my life.

Schedule: Stop expecting everything to work as it is. Buses don’t always arrive on time, meetings never end on time. Schedule buffer in my schedule so that when something inevitably crops up, I still have some breathing room.

Financial: Save up on emergency fund. That’s $1,000 for a start. Then save up on rainy day fund. That’s 3 month’s worth of salary. I used to call this f**k off fund, but it’s no longer applicable because with a family to feed, it’s not an option to f**k off without securing a new job. Still, it’s vital to get this fund up. Who knows if I might be retrenched next week. Living under my means is my intention. Buying only the essentials will be my aim.

At the end of the day, it all boils down to breathing room. To create margin in life is to manage the breathing space. The bigger breathing space we have, the less suffocating we feel. We feel more comfortable, see better, act better and live better.

That’s the point.

I hope you are as excited about the year ahead as I am. Have fabulous February!

Tim Cook on Why He Met With Donald Trump

Tim Cook was part of a round table of tech leaders (that includes Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Larry Page of Google, Satya Nadella of Microsoft and others) that met with Trump.

In an article by TechCrunch, he explains the reason for this meeting:

There’s a large number of those issues, and the way that you advance them is to engage. Personally, I’ve never found being on the sideline a successful place to be. The way that you influence these issues is to be in the arena. So whether it’s in this country, or the European Union, or in China or South America, we engage. And we engage when we agree and we engage when we disagree. I think it’s very important to do that because you don’t change things by just yelling. You change things by showing everyone why your way is the best. In many ways, it’s a debate of ideas.

We very much stand up for what we believe in. We think that’s a key part of what Apple is about. And we’ll continue to do so.

The key takeaway is that to change things, we have to show others why our way is the best.

(via Daring Fireball)

Simon Sinek on Millennials & Understanding The Game We’re Playing

Simon Sinek’s talk on technology, millennials and empathy has been making rounds in the Internet.

Rightly so.

He shares how we have brought up a generation that’s based on instant gratification, lack of social skills, and being thrown into an environment vastly different from what they expect. Lacking empathy, people said they are unmanageable. But empathy is a critical virtue of any good leaders. To lead well, we have to understand the reasoning behind their behaviour.

Things get interesting in the second half of the talk when he shares about infinite vs finite. Great companies stay in business because they understand they need to stay in the game for the long haul. Most companies look at the competition, copy them, and thrive to out-do them. Great firms wake up everyday thinking how to improve their product or service.

As people, we can do the same.

What can we do to make sure the work we produce today is better than the work we produced before?

In other words, what is the something that we can do today that makes us a better version of ourselves?

The Year Ahead – 2017

Hello friends,

How are you doing?

2017 is upon us. 2016 is in the history book. Year after year, we get the same feeling on the last few days on the calendar – that the year just whizzed passed us. As they say, the days are long but the years are short.

But why do we get this kind of feeling? Is it because we ageing? Is it because we are not filling the weeks and months with activities we love to be doing? Is it because we are too distracted with other non-essential stuffs that we don’t do things that are essential to us? Or are we keeping ourselves so busy that we don’t have the time to stop and smell the roses (or enjoy the sunrise/ sunset).

A new year brings new hope. I don’t set any resolution as I once recalled my manager sharing this “my resolution this year is to complete the resolutions I set last year”. We often set big resolutions but miss out the smaller things that really matter.

I have several plans I hope to fulfil this year. Nothing too ambitious though. One thing I’ve learned over the years is small steps matter more than big ones. If I continue to push forward with those small steps, I’ll get there one day.

I hope you have a brilliant year ahead.

Kioskafe by Monocle

I’m a big fan of Monocle magazine and a huge admirer for the brand they have built.

Besides print, they are also bringing the community together by having a newsstand/ coffee bar in London.

It’s a space to rest your feet, stop for a chat, people-watch in a nice neighbourhood, sip some coffee and of course, browse and buy (monocle) magazines.

It’s exactly the kind of cafe-retail space I dream of running.


The Bank: An Old Bank Turned Bar

Wow! The Bank is one cool-looking bar. Previously a bank, it was converted into a bar by art director Kaoru Watanabe.

He ran it for 15 years before passing on. Masamichi Katayama, the architect Wantanbe worked with for the initial renovation, took over the beacon and reopen after a light refurbishing.

I can imagine it’s a place where I would be comfortable in, ala Mad Men-era style.

It looks like a place where technology is not invited, a place to find solitude and do some reflective thinking.

Scrambled Eggs: Gordon Ramsay

Which opinion do you hold over Gordon Ramsay? A terrific chef but terrible human being? A foul-mouthed man with questionable ethics, or a nurturing and warm person in private?

On Christmas Day, I wanted to make something that’s easy yet satisfying. On YouTube, his clip was the first result and I thought, why not?

The outcome? It was splendid. The best version of scrambled egg I’ve ever had, may I humbly add.

So good I’m going to make them again this Saturday. It would be a good dinner as we chill, relax and usher in the new year.


16 Most Beautiful Book Covers Of 2016

They said ‘never judge a book by its cover’.

Well, in the vast sea of books in a library, bookstore or online shops, cover is often what grabs our attention. Especially for books and authors we are not familiar with, our first impression of them matters. It determines whether we pick it up or move on to the next shelve (or page).

So here it goes – 16 of the most beautiful book covers of 2016.

My favourites of the lot:

Xabi Alonso And Watches

Xabi Alonso is a great footballer and a fine gentleman. He’s one of the best midfielder to grace the pitch for Liverpool, Spain, and various elite clubs in Europe. I’m honored to see him played for the team I support. Even in times where his manager tried to sell him off, he has always remain graceful and put the team ahead of his own interest.

As such, I admire him as a person as much for his footballing abilities.

He has a minimalist approach to lifestyle which reflect his personalities. He lives in a quiet house with his wife and 3 children. His main drive is a modest Audi. He stays out of the limelight and you won’t read a negative coverage about him. He’s a perfect role model for aspiring kids.

Xabi shares his appreciation for fine watches – subtle yet sophisticated. Most of his watches has a story to tell. “For me, every special moment is bound to be linked to a particular watch, and whenever I put it on I’m transported back to that moment.”

His philosophy to watches is like Philippe Patek – You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation. He says “I don’t just see the watches as my belongings, but as a legacy for my kids, especially my son, Jon, who in a few years’ time can wear one with pride and that added meaning because his father gave it to him,”

I would imagine that would be another significant moment in his life, one which he would commemorate with a fine watch.

Read the extended interview over at Mr Potter.

Slaughtering Us Like Animals

From The New York Times, a photojournalist captured the brutal anti-drug campaign in the Philippines.

The opening—a strong and captivating paragraph, sets the tone on what’s to come.

YOU HEAR A MURDER SCENE before you see it: The desperate cries of a new widow. The piercing sirens of approaching police cars. The thud, thud, thud of the rain drumming on the pavement of a Manila alleyway — and on the back of Romeo Torres Fontanilla.

Tigas, as Mr. Fontanilla was known, was lying facedown in the street when I pulled up after 1 a.m. He was 37. Gunned down, witnesses said, by two unknown men on a motorbike. The downpour had washed his blood into the gutter.

“They are slaughtering us like animals,” said a bystander who was afraid to give his name.

[…] police officers’ summarily shooting anyone suspected of dealing or even using drugs, vigilantes’ taking seriously Mr. Duterte’s call to “slaughter them all.”

The pictures are gruesome. The violence is real. It’s being instigated by a Philippine leader with no regards to human lives.  Living in fear, no one is spared. The decision to eradicate drug comes at the expense of massive(preventable) death toll.

They say 2016 is a horrible year. But going by the state of things, the future is even more uncertain as questionable politicians threaten to paint the world even darker.