Asia: A Look Back

It has been almost a month now since I returned from 4 months of backpacking Southeast Asia. My time abroad passed quickly, but nowhere near as fast as the last 30 days seemed to go. A wise man once said “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” But even when you do take the time to stop and look around for a while you can still miss it!

Large companies have trouble innovating because they are so good at doing whatever it is that lead to their growth. The irony is that if the company doesn’t innovate it will eventually go out of business. A good example they use over at Imaginatik is that of a a race car: if your pit crew cares about winning then they’re busy optimizing your entire car for the demands of the day: aerodynamics, gasoline engines, etc. But the “innovation team” believes that the car of the future will be an electric powered, flying, driver-less car. They come to the pit crew and tell them that they want to start changing things based on how they believe the future will turn out. You can see the problem; it’s a Catch-22. Implement the changes based on some possible future innovations and you’ll likely destroy current profitability. Wait too long and someone else will come out with the future while you’re still optimizing the past.

Common innovation literature seems to have come up with the answer, partly due to the way that Lockheed Martin handled things: split them up. That is keep your performance engine cranking because it’s doing many things well: profitability being one of the major ones. But because it’s a large cog that’s slow to change and hard to influence you’re better off putting the smaller, more agile innovation engine in a separate place and disconnecting them. This allows them to learn and fail quickly. Failing quickly is a good thing so long as you’ve structured your experiments properly because this means that you learn quickly. Here’s the problem: if you have a massive gear slowly turning and an extremely fast gear spinning like there’s no tomorrow they’re impossible to link together: you need a clutch.

My daily life had gotten to the point where I was just slowly turning cranking through life; one of the things that I’ve made it my mission to achieve is better insight: and since insights come from intuition and intuition comes from lots of experiences in lots of environments, I decided I needed to spin faster and experience more. Now that I’ve had those experiences I need to make sure that they translate back to my “normal life”. After all, a fat spinning gear off by itself is of no use; it’s only when you’re able to harness that force to propel you forward in life that you recognize it’s true power.

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5 Questions to Answer During My Southeast Asia Sabbatical

“The more one does and sees and feels, the more one is able to do, and the more genuine may be one’s appreciation of fundamental things like home, and love, and understanding companionship.”

– Amelia Earhart

One of the things that we believe at work is the importance of designing one’s experiments properly: if experiments are designed properly then it’s impossible for them to fail. You always learn something and that is, after all, the point of an experiment. So what are some of the hypothesis that I’m looking to test by going through this sabbatical experiment?

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Easy 5 Step Plan for a Successful Retirement

I used to want to be a financial planner. But after studying finance in school and doing a ton of learning on my own, I realized that the only way I could make a living at it would be to sell people things that weren’t in their best interest. I can be an amazing sales person, but I have to believe what I’m selling otherwise I lose all motivation.

When I was in college, I was a member of our Investment Portfolio Organization. Why an organization instead of a club? Simple: IPO is a much better acronym for an investment club than IPC. Anyway, we did a lot of presentations on stocks and had speakers come in and tell us about different professions that we could explore with a finance degree. There was a time when we were looking for a few people to fill open slots of time, and I volunteered to take one of them. I was a bit worried about how it would be perceived because I was the black sheep in that group: I don’t believe in actively investing in individual stocks.

I have a different method which I believe is far superior; in fact, I’ve spent many months reading countless books about this, listening to Dave Ramsey’s 3 hour radio show each day, and watching Susie Orman each week, and spent well over 30 hours preparing a 133 page PowerPoint deck walking people through my thinking and showing them why I believe what I do. It only takes 45 minutes to go through, and usually generates a lot of questions. But there are a lot of people that care less about the why and more about what to do, so I’ve distilled it down into a much shorter blog post. This is what I tell my family and friends to do. Both my brother and sister follow it. In subsequent blog posts I may go into more depth surrounding specific topics (my clever way of incentivising you to come back and read more of the things I write!).

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