Good enough is enough

“This paragraph is too academic”

“Yes, it is from a research team of British Embassy”

“It is not very approachable, don’t you think?”

“That’s right. We should turn it into a more attractive story telling form”.

We still need to have some content first and something is better than nothing

Hmm, agree. Can polish it later

This is one of the conversations I had recently with my brother/ team member. Having all materials and ideas in mind, we are eager to bring out the best we can offer, turning things into a refined, perfect product. Nevetheless, with a perfect working setting and cooperative mindset, things still can jumble.

I believe that most of the time, momentum is more important than perfection. .

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There is nothing wrong with chasing perfection. By focusing on details, we enhance customer experience. Twisting a bit in design or furniture part reflects the delicate taste of product developers.

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New pottery set of Little Cat Ba for tradional set and hotpots

The thing is, we do not buy those pottery sets right from start. Before lovely pottery cups are there to be put on the table, there must be standard sets to serve customers. Starting with basics is the only way momentum is built to prosper.

Somehow this reminds me of Yoga on the beach session organized by Asia Outdoors. After 1,5 hours of practicing, I turned to the instructor

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Yoga on the beach organized by Asia Outdoors with a real special vibe

“The lanterns are so beautiful. How do you make it”

Then not waiting for her to answer, I looked inside. I was struck to realize that those beautiful lanterns are made from very simple stuff and anyone can find, yet the effect is so impressive.

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Because we can always turn the good into the great later.

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Are you afraid of being copied?

Damn it, Paul Jarvis (who is one of my favorite bloggers) pushes minimalism to an annoying level. First he removed himself from Medium (there is not much traffic diversion in Medium anyway, unless u are already famous or write for the fun of it). If u wanna read his rare stuff, there is no choice but subscribe to his mailing list/ podcast. I have ignored his articles for a while, until today.

His new article is called “Copy me”, very interesting 🙂

COPY ME

Copy me
I’m not afraid of being copied.

I’m afraid of reaching a point where I’m no longer copied.

When I was mostly doing web design, I’d find a site or two a week that had ripped off my designs or code. With my writing, every week or so I find (or am told about) an article that’s basically just a copy/paste of something I’ve written. I’ve even found courses that are basically a duplicate of something I already teach.

I know from experience and the number of emails I get about this that creative folks worry about their ideas being copied or stolen and want to know what measures to take to prevent it.

Sorry: you can’t prevent others from copying or stealing your ideas.

Well, you can, but that means never sharing those ideas with anyone else, never publishing anything and never putting any work whatsoever out into the world.

The act of sharing your work, your ideas, your thoughts, your expertise, inherently opens you up to being copied. If even one other person reads or watches or consumes what you’ve made, there’s a possibility that your work will be ripped off.

What do I do about being copied?

Nothing. Nada. Not a damn thing. Ever. I honestly don’t give even one single fuck about my work being copied. First, because that’d require a lot of energy on my part to hunt it down and deal with it, when I’d rather be focused on making things. Second, in the nearly two decades I’ve spent putting work and ideas out onto the internet, exactly zero copycats or ripoffs have ever accomplished anything. What I mean by that is this:

If your work is copied, that person is not only stealing from you, they’re stealing from themselves too. Their “shortcut” ignores their audience, their expertise, their research, and their creativity. That’s why it’ll never amount to what you’ve created.

Another important thing to note is that by putting yourself and your work out there, you’re showing the world your work. If it gets copied, what will most likely happen is that all those people who saw your work first will a) let you know your work has been copied and b) tell the offender they’re a thief. In that case, you don’t have to do or say anything.

Being copied is typically more of a threat to your mental state than your revenue stream. Sure, it hurts when you see that someone ripped off your hard work. And, sure, you might want to get revenge or sue or publicly shame that person. But, more than likely, what was copied won’t suffer—it’ll still sell, it’ll still be the real deal, it’ll still be your work.

I’m not suggesting rolling over and playing dead either. You can trademark and copyright what’s yours or even pursue legal action against theft of your intellectual property. But you have to consider if it’s worth it – financially (those things can cost a lot of money) and more importantly if it’s mentally worth it when you could be spending your time making new things.

The copycat will never see any real benefit from passing off your work as their own. So you might as well not waste your time dwelling on it or them.

You know what can’t be copied easily or quickly? Your skills, your integrity, your commitment to your work and your connection to the audience you serve.

PS: after proofreading this a few times, I realized I copied myself, since I wrote about this same topic years ago. Luckily, I still feel the exact same way.

***

What to learn from this article?

Well, this rings a bell with a chapter written by Jason Fried in his book called “Rework” which explains the principle behind it. Paul Jarvis wrote 3 sentences on it, let’s see what Jason got to say.

copying

So both of them come to the conclusion that we don’t need to be afraid of copying because

  1. We are wasting our energy
  2. The copycats take the shortcuts and therefore will never be as good as the original.
  3. It is passive learning (if it can  be called learning at all)

However, on the other hand, are we aware how much we copy from each other everyday? What is the line between “copying” and “getting influence”? Or everything is a remix? 😉

 

P/S: After a year I found out that working on resonance is very important. Evernote app and writing are two ways to get stronger mental connection and resonance. Things stick easier and can be recalled faster, following the 80/20 rule. There are now even more reasons to stick to writing. Here are some of my sharings on benefits of writing and how to write better on some specific categories.

Keep writing everyone !

When Instagram is nOt an agony

Instagram or Inspiring in an instant has grown out of an app that nearly every phone user has.  Released in 2010, it has attracted 400 millions of customers worldwide, 90% of which are under 35, surpassing Twitter’s and LinkedIn’s reach.  Instagram acts a powerful marketing tool especially for photo-dependent entities (models/ photographers/ cook/ fashion designers/ clothing/ designers of all kinds/ travel operators), expanding their fanbase interactions and at the same time, affecting our lives in a negative way as a jealousy trigger, as mentioned in this widely-shared New York Times article – The agony of Instagram. 

Stepping to the photo platform for only a year without utilizing its potential just yet, to me, Instagram is a great story telling channel, and I can totally relate to how dangerous and at the same time, how fascinating this can be.

Social-media voyeurism and the fear of missing out

Instagram

Daniel Radcliffe is one of stars choosing to live his life out of social media and his answer in the interview with Sky News magazine came straight to the point. Starting from a tool to connect and interact, social media is also a channel for self-expression, crafting digital lives that fit with how we view ourselves or how we expect our lives to be.

Compared to Facebook or Twitter, Instagram is easier to trigger jealousy. As a photo site with user-friendly filtering functions, Instagram brings snapshots together, cutting out mundane moments and pop, in seconds everyone of us looks much more interesting. It helps us to zoom out and see life moments stretching in a long period of time being condensed. If posts in Facebook are a disorganized mess of thoughts, status and photos, Instagram hypes everything up and in an instant we are surrounded by beautiful people and  exciting adventures. It is hard not to be affected by these and look back thinking “What is wrong with me?”

A great therapeutic tool

my instagram
A tool for me to zoom out, look back in time, be grateful and keep fighting (as if life is miserable?)

Daniel Radcliffe has a point since as a star, his privacy can be heavily affected by social media and as an ordinary person, social media can make us live more digitally than “in-the-moment”, in a way lowering our self-esteem by decreasing our authenticity.

However, Instagram does not have to be that way. Before phones and all kinds of apps became prevalent, nearly each of us has printed photo album which we treasure and carry around. How is that photo album different from this digital version? Each photo carries with it a certain memory, a story, a person we met which might never reunite. Instagram can be a source of nostalgia in a good way. It helps us, in a moment, to travel back in time, immerse in that memory now vividly visualized in our head and reminds us that we have experienced a not-so-bad journey. In that grid, there is no space for worries and frets, just beauties and adventures.

In his book “Don’t sweat the small stuff“, Richard Carlson, a well-known psychotherapist shares 100 succinct advices about how to live lves more lightly without worries, in which the 16th one is this

will it matter a year from now

Instead of sucking in whatever bad moment we are in, Instagram helps us to embrace Time Wrap- a great exercise to give us perspective. It releases us from the prison of day-time block, stretching our vision and in a way, will make us more carefree, generous and daring , welcoming uncertainties with less worry. We know that most of the things do not matter a year from now, so why care?

Aside from jealousy, Instagram can be a source of inspiration. Sometimes we need somebody else to slap in our face and show us how limited our world is, and there is so much out there to explore. In this facet, we can be both – the ones inspiring and the one being inspired.

Jealous?

Okay get up and do something about it.

 

A picture is worth a thousand words? We need both

Asia Outdoors and Ethos Travel are two of our many tour operators in Vietnam that have been utilizing Instagram to tell stories. Instead of hiring a copy writer to describe how amazing a place is, they just show them its awesomeness. When my customers ask me the difference between normal rice paddy fields and rice-terraces for example, I simply click on the images and from that, start explaining

 

The pictures set us in the right context and saves me from unnecessary desciption, from which I can go further to tell my guests about the favorite village of photographers in Northwest Vietnam or how difficult yet interesting rice planting in mountains can be.

In the end it is our choice to be depressed or be inspired. Instagram has no fault, and definitely NOT an agony.

 

References

http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Instagram-Continues-Double-Digit-Growth/1013612

https://medium.com/digital-trends-index/how-to-use-instagram-as-a-storytelling-tool-62f1785b4d84#.qi4c2elhrHistory of Instagram

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instagram

 

View story at Medium.com

View story at Medium.com

When life gives you rubber dust…

Meeting me at the new pier of Cu Chi tunnels, Adrian immediately asked with his broken English:

How many kilometer is our ride today?

I was stunned. Oh man, not again, I thought. With just 6 hour’s sleep and the boredom of riding the routes over and over again, now my customer is even bringing me more trouble?

Fixing my mindset in seconds, I patiently and professionally explained to Charlene and Adrian the riding route, step-by-step. Charlene fell of the bike after 2 minutes and decide to just get in the van. We look at each other’s face, each get lost in our own thoughts.

“We will see her after 17km. It’s okay”

Most of my ride with Adrian was predictable. I tried to clear my head, riding past by rubber plantations now turning ugly and wet after yesterday rain, stop by our frequent interest points now all becoming meaningless in my numb mind.

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After the second rubber plantation, after we stop to see people harvesting latex and exploring that meticulous process. Suddenly, Adrian asked me:

Are you married?

OMG why is he asking that? Isn’t he going with his GF? I thought. Something is wrong here.

“No.”

“I just got married 3 weeks ago. I am 25.”

@@ Really? I am 25 too. So, this is your honeymoon trip?

I felt an incredible guilt.  If I were Charlene, just got married and have a honeymoon trip, the last thing I wanna do is to let my husband go with a girl then be waiting for them in a van.

After a few small talks question of why I end up here or what I think about HCMC, I asked

So what do you do in your country (I cannot remember the name of that country, an island in Europe)

I am a firefighter.

Really? Do you like your job?

Yes. Very much.

Why do you like it? I mean, Isn’t it a job of danger?

Yes, my dad is a firefighter, too. But when you take people out of buildings and see expression in their face, it is incredible.

Do you keep in touch with people you rescued?

No. Not very often.

That moment shifts my perception forever. Believe it or not, grass looks greener now, sky looks bluer, everything smells good and waiting seems not be an annoyance anymore.

After we met Charlene, we decide to explore a mushroom farm nearby.

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The trip was brief, none of us learned much, and I will never see them again. In fact, very soon I will clear them out of my mind, as the rule of this industry. But nevertheless, with every interaction with people, we all have the choice of letting it turn sour or spicing it up.

So why not the latter?

 

 

Stop looking for true calling

Today TED shares a blog-post about True Calling. U know what? I know a better term for it.

Instead of true calling model of TED, this model involves four factors interacting with each other before (hopefully) coverging into the core, which is named Ikigai, a Japanese concept meaning “a reason for being”.

There are something that annoys me in the TED true calling model.

You seem not to have to care about money in “true calling”

This model avoids money as if money is a bad thing. If somebody asks you what your dream is and your reply is “making a lot of money”, the reaction is predictable. Yep, what an immature, greedy, selfish person you are. Ignoring money as a sufficient method of value quantification is so unrealistic.

Funny-Money-Quotes-Running-ot-of-money

The fact is when you make money you are creating value (somebody needs what you do and is willing to pay for it, whatever that is. Youtubers who create trivial but fun videos make tons of money). The value may be good or bad, irrelavant from moral standards. From this diagram a teacher or a professional killer both have Ikigai. The market ruled by supply and demand doesn’t care if you are good or bad. You survive when do create something people need, or when you are part of that chain.

A person with Ikigai is not necessarily a good one, whereas the model of TED true calling requires people to “behave out of integrity”.

You are supposed to make people’s lives better ???

This is important because when you use the word “true-calling”, it sounds like people are supposed to be super-heroes. To be extraodinary or nothing. To end poverty, save the world, become entrpreneurs, leave a dent in the universe. Why should people do that? Stop turning this into a pressure.

And who created so-called Ikigai or “true calling” diagram anyway? There is no such fixed thing.

And what if I can’t find my Ikigai? Should I kill myself for living a worthless life?

“Don’t be a hero”

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Pomodoro Technique Illustrated, page 52
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Reword- Jason Fried, page 12

Above are extratcs of two books about work and producvity. One is intuitive advice from an experienced entrepreneur, another is a chapter elaborating Pomodoro single-tasking mindset. They met for a moment in an echo chamber.

“Workaholics aren’t heroes. They don’t save the days. They just use it up. the real hero is alredy home because she figured out a faster way to get things done”

…….

…….

And yes, Bob Marley  did not say such a thing 🙂

 

More time given = less work done

 

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Welcome to my world. The world of self-acclaimed, amateur creative content makers. Or, as my cousin put it, the world of “mental masturbatory”.

I was given a writing project. I said “I don’t wanna be pushed“. The project organizers, whom are most of the cases my good friends, are generous with time and believe that I can nurture ideas and creativity in the meantime. (Congrats, you are dealing with an arrogant amateur)

Yet when I was given autonomy, I let myself loose with all the time & do nothing. The fact is, I think about the projects nearly all-the-time, and yet, do nothing to go ahead.

Procrastination is complicated and deep-rooted.

For example, I am supposed to list a volunteer center in a website. The process should cost merely 15 minutes. No special effect needed, yet I spend half an hour polishing a cover photo. Ooops. When the photo is finished, momentum & motivation is gone. Most of the time what we need is very simple, or as Jason Fried, founder of Basecamp puts it  “We need a judo solution”. I need to write a few words, post a few photos. Done. In 15 minutes. ANYTHING else is extra.

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Another time, I was given a task to modify a video with no push. 2 weeks past, no result. Now with a little push & shame, I finish it in a few hours with ease. What a procrastination monster !

Except for corporate jobs, most of the time deadlines are created for no clear reason. And still, a no-reason-deadline is better than an ambiguous duration.

But a certain deadline is better for productivity for sure. I think most of tasks can be finished with much less time given to us, if focus is there. The philosohy behind it is explained clearly in website Timemanagement Ninja

 

Echoes

A friend of mine posted this a few days ago

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That feeling hit me tonight when I was reading an inmail sent from “Becomingminimalist.com”, an article named “Unlock freesom by simply using these 4 key areas”. 

Written by a fitness guy, the post shows how to make your personal life more agile and abundant in 4 key areas: health, productivity, possessions and personal growth. (yes, ironic but true: becoming abundant by minimalizing your life)

After all, this must be an article full of insights, gained from years of lifestyle transformation. A journey so powerful and personal to the author, but I can already see some influences from some books I read recently

“7 habits of highly effective people” by Stephen Covey

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In the classic book written in 1991 by Stephen Covey about personal growth, he spends a big section talking about 4 levels of time management. He divides time into 4 parts (quadrants) and comes to the conclusion that we should spend more time on quadrant II: important but non-urgent tasks. Basically books about setting priorities more or less just clarify this idea.

In this post, Steve is also pointing out the same thing.

The unimportant but seemingly urgent tasks will continue to get in the way unless you give yourself permission to cut them from your most productive time at work to focus on the important.

“How to get 40 hours done in 16,7” by Chris Winfield

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Chris Winfield, after reading and trying all methods available to improve productivity, “found out” that the best way to save time is to stop multitasking. To make it clearer, he refers to Pomodoro system and divide time into neat slots of “25 minutes” with 5 or 10 minutes break.

Again, Steve is pointing out the same thing.

Set a timer for 25 minutes and work, followed by 5 minutes of break. Repeat until done.

And I am sure there are many other points which relate or basically the same as other books. Of course this is not a copy, but it is a funny feeling to realize a common thread running through ideas of different authors.

Every year there are hundreds of books, podcasts, blogs which teach us how to improve our lives. With different tones and way of expression, each seems to be the “new solution” leading to a better life. In fact, are there that many?

I believe that there are only some core principles to apply, and it is such a relief to figure out.

I believe that if some information is truly important, we don’t have to make an effort to look for them. It will hit us eventually. Whatever we call them, “thread”, echoes, or like the Steve Jobs cliches “connecting the dots”.

Not updating news is not missing out. Stop buying new books is not starving your brain. Instead, it’s a core filter to let us know what is truly necessary.

**

By the way, don’t know who Chris Windfield is, but somehow he gets his writings published in some well-known magazines and even cut out a piece related to a tweet with Richard Brandson and thus, makes he “seem worth listening” by utilizing Halo effect 😉

 

 

Google Keep review

Primarily written on FB on August 16th, 2015

Google Keep is awesome ! Just tried it and strongly impressed !

Simple interface but possess all essential demands we need from a note service provider 😉

The writing flow that Notepad gives you can be found in Google Keep.

To visualize it, imagine you have hundreds of Notepad notes: you classify them into different folders, yet since the folders tree is not clearly “visible” in your computer, you do not see their INTERRELATION and draw a big picture about your activities.

From that demand, Google Keep helps to sync them all into One. Automatically saved, shared, edited and changed anytime, anywhere.

Evernote, on the other hand, is a bit too complicated and “elite” for me.

P/S: Google Voice notes help you record your sounds and turn it into a transcription . It would be great with videos/ documentations you like but can’t find the right subtitle/ transcription text yet.

Below is a very deep review of Google Keep from Lifehack. When Lifehack doesn’t show their cliche list style articles, they do sound smart he he

Deadlines matter

http://www.mikedelgado.org/productivity/deadlines/

This is meant for myself (and other immature “adults”), a deadline failure and excitement/ distraction-prone expert. For those who deserted me b.c of this you know this too well. But no harm in sharing ^^.

I asked a friend of mine once “Hey why do you need to set new year resolutions? You don’t achieve most of them anyway, a meaningless burden!” (Actually the later two sentences I kept for myself wink emoticon, I am not that blunt <yet> )

Yet looking back people who do actually achieve more than those don’t $>$. Crossing just a few things off the long wish list is much better than having no list to even reflect. Radar is off so nothing is seen and done. No pressure may lead to floating mode? And self-irresponsibility?

On the other hand, standing up with burning motivation, hands up shouting “Yeah I can do it!” will not help either. The balloon is thin, full of hot air and will burst out of a sudden.

Work In Progress mode is uncertainty mode hence it feels so uneasy, yet wait until the time is perfect just to find motivation is dead. Such a vicious circle. Gotta be aware @>#