Updates from August, 2013

  • How I Read

    4:15 pm on August 9, 2013 | 4 comments Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , reading

    7/365: Currently Reading

    This post is a lit­tle dif­fer­ent to my nor­mal posts, but thought that I would share a very rel­e­vant on-going theme in my life and how I’m going about it: read­ing and writ­ing. The moti­va­tion behind this was spurred by the shut­ting down of my beloved Google Reader which has served me faith­fully for the last few years as my main por­tal of con­sum­ing infor­ma­tion. I ago­nized over what could take its place and after read­ing this post on on How to Read on Far­nam Street Blog (arguably my favourite go-to web­site), decided to improve how I am con­sum­ing and shar­ing my infor­ma­tion and to use some tools more inten­tion­ally than I have in the past.

    Tra­di­tion­ally, I’ve used my Google reader as my pri­mary Inspec­tional Read­ing method, and as a way to keep up with news and thought lead­ers in spe­cific indus­tries. I still read on aver­age a book per week (yes, some­times I do slip up!) but haven’t been very good at going a step fur­ther in Syn­topi­cal Read­ing. Also, in either case, I haven’t been the best at keep­ing track of arti­cles that I really enjoy, or dug deeper into them for more Ana­lyt­i­cal Read­ing. I’ve used delicious.com half-heartedly to save these arti­cles I like, but still — not good enough. Hence, in efforts to be bet­ter at track­ing and shar­ing, I’ve divided my infor­ma­tion con­sump­tion into the fol­low­ing three cat­e­gories based on the How to Read post:

    1) Inspec­tional Reading 

    - I’ve migrated over to Feedly in replace­ment of my Google Reader and although am still get­ting used to the inter­face, I do like the design, and the process of migrat­ing over has forced me to cut down about 20% of my RSS feeds so I can derive more focused con­tent. I still have WAY too much feeds for my lik­ing, so I need to cut down at least another 30% more.

    - My twit­ter feed also serves as a way for me to keep up with news that I skim through on a fre­quent basis.

    2) Ana­lyt­i­cal Reading

    - I’m going to start using Pocket a lot more to fil­ter through from my skim­ming of my Feedly and Twit­ter feeds to arti­cles that really catch my eye. (It helps that I am a speed reader so can skim very quickly through large quan­ti­ties of information)

    - Findings.com helps me cap­ture key ideas that I can revisit and cap­tures quotes that I really like for arti­cles online.

    - Tum­blr will do the same for for me as find­ings does, but for books that I read. I just to make sure that Read­mill is pulling infor­ma­tion con­sis­tently from my Kin­dle highlights.

    - In terms of ‘sav­ing’ arti­cles that I like, I’m test­ing out Potluck, which so far is under­whelm­ing, but what I like about it is that I can see what other friends are read­ing as well. I might return to delicious.com if the plat­form doesn’t pick up, as I like deli­cious’ hash­tag fea­ture (makes sort­ing and search­ing so much easier)

    3) Syn­topi­cal Reading

    - I find that this type of read­ing is best done when I force myself to pen down my thoughts and hence, will be blog­ging more about my read­ing and cross ref­er­enc­ing it with arti­cles that I read. I’ve debated migrat­ing over to Medium but haven’t reached that tip­ping point yet.

    - I’m cut­ting back on my One Book per Week and instead, mak­ing sure that I read more delib­er­ately and aim for a book per 2 — 3 weeks and inten­tion­ally what I’m read­ing on this web­site. I find that I’ve read so many books, but have missed out on the value that each of them pro­vide as after a while, they all blur together. I’m mak­ing it a habit to reflect after each book and write down my thoughts on the book while it’s still fresh.

    P/s: I’ve updated my What I’m Read­ing list, and am open to sug­ges­tions on how I am best tracking/sharing books that I want to read. 

  • Design Gym: Learn design thinking and solve real world problems

    10:10 pm on July 8, 2012 | 0 comments Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ,

    How do you solve real world prob­lems with a human-centered lens? How do cre­ate a prod­uct that is effec­tive and beau­ti­ful? Where can you find a com­mu­nity of thinkers that have the skills and process to solve wicked prob­lems? Where do you find an acces­si­ble avenue to learn design think­ing that is prag­matic and  affordable?

    A few months ago, myself and a group of strate­gists and design­ers set out to solve this chal­lenges and emerged with a really excit­ing concept:

    The Design Gym, a com­mu­nity of skilled prob­lem solvers through a workshop-driven design think­ing cur­ricu­lum. We part­ner with orga­ni­za­tions to help them approach their prob­lems in a new way by con­nect­ing their chal­lenges with our community.

    Our inau­gural project is a week­end long inten­sive at the Brook­lyn Brain­ery from July 27th — 29th, 2012. We’re kick­ing the week­end off on Fri­day night with beers, net­work­ing and an intro to design think­ing. Sat­ur­day will be a deep dive into the design process, meth­ods and best prac­tices, and fin­ish­ing off on Sun­day with a hands on appli­ca­tion of skills solv­ing a real-world prob­lem. Don’t worry if you don’t have a design or strat­egy back­ground. We’re all here to learn, and see a prob­lem from a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive. Sounds like you want to know more? Sign up here, spread the word (we’re on twit­ter too!) and bring a friend!

    If you’re an organization/company/non-profit and are inter­ested in part­ner­ing with us, please feel free to email me. I would love to chat with you. If you have any ques­tions, please email me. If you would like to trade sto­ries about the space or learn more about the project or even just to say hi, please email me. I think you get the pic­ture! I will reply! Seriously.

    A huge shoutout to my team, who are kick-ass all round. Go stalk them: Andrew Hager­man, Daniel Still­man, Jason Wis­dom & Miles Begin.

  • One Book Per Week: Tumblring My Findings

    8:13 pm on June 17, 2012 | 5 comments Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , OneBookPerWeek, ,

    Since com­ing to New York, I’ve devel­oped a healthy habit of read­ing on the sub­way going to and fro from meet­ings. My Kin­dle has made it a lot eas­ier to read in a packed sub­way car and my expanded net­works have pro­vided me a wealth of books to add to my read­ing list. After a con­ver­sa­tion with a good friend who inspired a goal set­ting quest, I decided to embark on a One Book Per Week Project — where I would read a book a week as a per­sonal self-development goal. It has been two months in, and I am pleased to share that read­ing is firmly back in life and can offi­cially say that I have read all the books on my shelf. I’ve added some of the books that I read and loved to my Book List but more than that, I would love for my read­ings and dis­cov­er­ies to be shared in a more pub­lic way. Hence, going for­ward, I will be doing this in two ways:

    1) Tum­blr

    I started a tum­blr where I would post quotes and high­lights from books that I am cur­rently read­ing. Major­ity of my read­ings are now done on my Kin­dle and thanks to this awe­some tool called: Findings.com, all the high­lights from my Kin­dle read­ings will be shared to my tum­blr. Quotes Galore aka. my per­sonal quote bank and track­ing of books that I am cur­rently read­ing. Below is a snap­shot of Findings.com. I def­i­nitely rec­om­mend that you check it out!

    2) Mole­skin Book Visualization 

    One of the skills that I have been work­ing on is the Art of Visual Think­ing. I am nat­u­rally a visual leaner, but the art of trans­lat­ing thought and com­plex ideas into pic­tures is a com­pletely dif­fer­ent thing. Hence, to help me along with this learn­ing process, I decided to com­bine it with my One Book Per Week Project. I bought some brand new mole­skins and will be sum­ma­riz­ing up the books I am read­ing into one page in my mole­skin. This not only enables pushes my abil­ity to retain infor­ma­tion, but also allows me to piece together the book in my own way.

  • My African Experience: South Africa

    10:53 pm on July 9, 2009 | 4 comments Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , SE101,

    In the sum­mer of 2007, I par­tic­i­pated with a group of 8 other stu­dents and 2 pro­fes­sors, in the Social Entre­pre­neur­ship 101 from my busi­ness school to South Africa. This was my team.

    Jo-burg, Mozambique, Lesotho 024

    The team at the end of the trip = UBC stu­dents + our local ground sup­port from Ubuntu + Go Global + Nancy Lang­ton + Robert Gate­man ( tak­ing the picture)

    So briefly, SE101 is part of the African Ini­tia­tive of the Sauder School of busi­ness to deliver busi­ness plan train­ing pro­grams to youth liv­ing in Africa. The efforts have been focussed in Kib­era, Nairobi and Johan­nes­burg. The work­shops we deliv­ered were aimed to edu­cate and enable impov­er­ished youth to start their own busi­nesses in a prac­ti­cal, applic­a­ble and sus­tain­able context.
    Project Components:(Kibera and Nairobi)
    • Develop and present three weeks of work­shops that inform inter­ested Kib­era youth about the essen­tial com­po­nents of a busi­ness plan, touch­ing on a wide vari­ety of top­ics from oper­a­tional orga­ni­za­tion to mar­ket­ing tac­tics and finan­cial strategies.
    • Con­duct one-on-one con­sul­ta­tion ses­sions with the pro­gram par­tic­i­pants, to share ideas and infor­ma­tion, design com­plete busi­ness plans and orga­nize step-by-step devel­op­ment stratagems.
    • Arrange guest speak­ers from the Kenyan busi­ness com­mu­nity to pro­vide a local prospec­tive, impart inspi­ra­tion and share essen­tial knowl­edge and experience.
    • Cre­ate a sus­tain­able link and spread aware­ness through web­site updates, and progress reports about the progress of the pro­gram participants.
    * Taken from the SE101 website
    How­ever, on the Johan­nes­burg, South African ini­tia­tive, our project com­po­nents were slightly dif­fer­ent. As a team of 9, we were divided into sub teams of 3, and were placed in three dif­fer­ent site: 1) Orphan­age in Soweto; 2) Busi­ness Plan Devel­op­ment, Alexan­dra Town­ship and; 3) Ubuntu orga­ni­za­tion — our local partners.

    Jo-burg 063
    I was part of the team that was assigned to the orphan­age in Soweto, and here, we were ‘con­sul­tants’ look­ing into the orphanage’s organ­i­sa­tional struc­ture and finances, see­ing what could be improved on. We looked into  the orphan selec­tion process, forms, cri­te­rias, allo­ca­tion of finances and fund man­age­ment. Our orphan­age place­ment was the Ika­geng Itire­leng AIDS Min­istry, which is headed by Carol Dyanti, affec­tion­ally known as “Mama Carol” to more than 1,700 orphans in over 200 homes. All these chil­dren live in child-headed house­holds (par­ents have passed away due to AIDS).
    Ika­geng are the orphans’ life sup­port, men­tor­ing, pro­vid­ing life skills, pay­ing their edu­ca­tion, pro­vid­ing basic needs such as food, cloth­ing and trans­porta­tion. Dur­ing my place­ment in Ika­geng, I vis­ited sev­eral child-headed house­holds in Soweto ( My Saf­fer friends are gasp­ing that I emerged unscathed, as Soweto is an incred­i­bly dan­ger­ous place) and I can def­i­nitely say that the impact and real­ity of what these kids endure, hit me very very hard.
    africa 291

    Above is the res­i­dence of one of the child-headed house­holds. The sil­ver tin shack is home to 10 kid. It is roughly the length of the truck beside it.

    I’m not going to divulge into details, but there are 2 sto­ries that I would like to share.

    Story 1: Our first day in the orphan­age, a girl of about 16 years old came into the office need­ing coun­selling. She had no one else to go. Three years ago, this girl had both a father and mother. But one day, her mother comes home and dis­cov­ered that her father was HIV+ and had not told the fam­ily. Her mother went into a rage and stabbed her father 48 times in front of her and because of that, was impro­vi­soned for mur­der. The girl then came into the care of Mama Carol and the orphan­age. She dropped all con­tact with her mother after the inci­dent. Recently, her mother was diag­nosed of AIDS and is in the hos­pi­tal dying of both AIDS and menin­gi­tis. Her mother then requested that her daugh­ter take care of her. The girl is almost fin­ished high school and needed advice on whether to leave her edu­ca­tion as it is to take care of her mother whom she has not spo­ken to in 3 years, or to ignore her mother’s requests and con­tinue her education.

    Story 2: Part of the orphanage’s sup­port is pro­vid­ing trans­porta­tion to school, as the town­ship is unsafe, and these kids live far away from a decent edu­ca­tion. 2 girls that we were in con­tact with, told the orphan­age that they were old enough to walk ( they were both about the age of 14) to school to save some money in the sum­mer as it would still be light out when school ends. Although the orphan­age was uncom­fort­able, they agreed to the sug­ges­tion — both girls lived rel­a­tively close to the school and there were oth­ers who needed the money more. The next morn­ing on their walk, they never made it to school. They were raped.

    Now, these 2 sto­ries were just some of the few that really res­onated in me dur­ing my time with Ika­geng. But it also illus­trates sev­eral key take­aways that I would like to share:
    1) Igno­rance
    It blows my mind how absolutely igno­rant I was on think­ing that I could ‘help’ the orphan­age within a period of 2 weeks that I was there. Prior to our trip, we prepped on mate­r­ial, cul­tural chal­lenges, exer­cises that we would use on site. We brought our SE101 finan­cial ‘text­book’ there to ‘teach’ the locals on organ­i­sa­tional struc­ture and financ­ing. None of us opened a page of that book. I was blown away, and I think I can safely say the rest of my team­mates, were caught off guard by the sit­u­a­tion, the peo­ple we were in con­tact with and par­a­lyzed by our inca­pa­bil­ity  cre­ate change within those 2 weeks. Time was not on our side. You often read about sit­u­a­tions like that in the news, but does the real­ity of it really process?
    2) Teach­ing vs. learning
    Before I landed in Johan­nes­burg, I was prepped with the mind­set that I was going there to help, to teach. A month later when I flew out of Johan­nes­burg, I was the stu­dent instead for the month. It struck me that I was going in blind, with­out any prior sit­u­a­tional knowl­edge or any proper con­tact before to ‘teach’ busi­ness to local Africans. What did I really know about a life, an econ­omy, a liv­ing stan­dard that is so dif­fer­ent to my own? How can I tell some­one to cre­ate change in an organ­i­sa­tion when their daily deci­sions are to turn away orphans because their can’t sup­port them finan­cially or instead, to deny trans­porta­tion rights to 2 girls that just want to go to school…
    3) What I really learnt instead
    Of all the numer­ous things that I learnt, below are some of the sim­ple things that yes, may seem repeated and heard alot, but really impacted my time there until now.
    • Never under­es­ti­mate any sit­u­a­tion that you are going into, and never pre­sume that you have an ‘upper­hand’ just because you are more edu­cated or come from a bet­ter off sit­u­a­tion. You’ll be sur­prised at what you can learn.
    • All devel­op­ment help needs to be sus­tain­able. You are vir­tu­ally cre­at­ing an expense for an organ­i­sa­tion which is already short on funds to ‘enter­tain’ you for 2 weeks and then dis­ap­pear back in your own life for­ever. If you want to help, make sure that you fol­low up, or is plug­ging into  an organ­i­sa­tion that has a sus­tain­able plan in place. This leads to Part 2 of my African trip, which will be blogged about at a later time.
    • Stay­ing for 2 weeks will not cre­ate the change that you have envi­sioned. Espe­cially if it’s just you and the locals. If you really want to help, stay longer. Alot longer. Or develop a sus­tain­able plan. — refer to point 2 above.
    • If you are trav­el­ling in a team, your team­mates can be your great­est assets or worst lia­bil­i­ties. Pick well. Mine were great peo­ple and I still see some from time to time.
    • There is always hope. Always.
    Finals thoughts:
    If I could describe my entire South African expe­ri­ence as one word, it would be: CHANGE. It changed the way I fun­da­men­tally viewed devel­op­ment and aid. It changed my view of Africa and the peo­ple. It changed me, issues I care about, future projects I worked on.

    “Par­tic­i­pat­ing in SE101 was prob­a­bly one of the best deci­sions that I have made in my under­grad life. This pro­gram chal­lenged and changed me in the ways I view learn­ing, edu­ca­tion and team­work. I found myself dis­cov­er­ing so much more in terms of cul­ture and knowl­edge, and chal­leng­ing the tra­di­tional notions of devel­op­men­tal work. Not only has my expe­ri­ence exceeded my expec­ta­tions, I also found inspi­ra­tion and a sense of direc­tion in terms of my Bcom degree.

    As a result of the skills that I learnt while tak­ing part in SE101, I have since been able to be involved with devel­op­ment work both locally in Van­cou­ver and in Africa. I am also cur­rently struc­tur­ing a course with Sauder which incor­po­rates a global learn­ing per­spec­tive encour­ages a more cog­ni­tive learning/educational expe­ri­ence tap­ping on the pas­sion stu­dents have for vol­un­teer­ing and help­ing others.”

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