Monthly Archives: December 2018

摸着石头过河 (Mōzhe shítouguò hé)

Cross the river by feeling the stones

Are you feeling anxious doing something new?

When I first learnt to ride a bicycle in my forties, I bought one whose height allowed my feet to be planted on the floor. My fear  was to prevent that I will not actually fall. Balance.

In attempting something new, taking small steps is more assuring for some, than falling head on. And that’s ok.

Without an instruction manual, the assurance of safety

If I stumble into the river and its too deep, I can always grope my way back. Throw one in the deep to sink or swim does not work for all.

Start today

Feel the rocks as you cross the river.

Mitchell, K. E., Levin, S., & Krumboltz, J. D. (1999). Planned happenstance: Constructing unexpected career opportunitiesJournal of counseling & Development77(2), 115-124. [accessed 4th Januray 2016]

Pryor, R. G. L., & Bright, J. E. H. (2003). The chaos theory to careers. Australian Journal of Career Development, 12(3), 12–20. [accessed 4th January 2016]


Apple dessert with cream coated with chocalate served on crushed chocolate with dried apple shavings. Photo by SN.



Excellent, seafood freshly flown in from Japan atest to the chef’s connections with suppliers.


Seafood served on a boat with dried ice effect.

What it takes to create a sensory experience. At 980RMB a head, majority of the 46 diners are millennials = power of a growing consumer class in Shanghai.


6 projectors on a semi-circle theatre seating 46 diners.


A Kabuki theatrical experience with waitresses in cat like masks and kimono.



Screen filled with environmental messages, and stories about the ingredients you are partaking. A multi-sensory experience, people coming together to celebrate wedding anniversaries. A Japanese expat spending the last night of his Shanghai posting alone at the restaurant – friendships.

A thoughtful gesture at the end when the chef bid each of us goodbye with a warm heat pack for your fingers 暖宝宝。

Address: China, Shanghai Shi, Changning Qu, Panyu Rd, 381号Rm 105-107, Bldg 6 (交通大学 metro station)

Alibaba Hema Supermarket eating live seafood cooked on the spot

Starbucks Reserve


Getting your portraits done in Lego blocks for 999RMB only. ONLY?


In Shanghai, brands are fighting online consumption by creating experiences for their customers.

Whether it is your own portraits done in Lego bricks, or creating your unique Nike designer shoes, to creating mini stadiums to cheer your favourite team in the Adidas concept stores. Everything is created for instammgramable moments.


How has 2018 been?

As I sit at Shanghai Pudong Airport waiting to catch a midnight flight back to Singapore, I reflect on this photo I took of “New World” 新世界 outside the People’s Square metro I take everyday.

Its a strange new world of ups and downs. My friend posted a philosophical photo of a bird sitting in a dirty corner of pooh but sheltered from strong winds.

From an eventful Trump-Kim Summit to the US-China Trade War and nearer to home, our rough relations with our neighbours to the Tsunami.

There are many other things to be grateful for.

1. Loved ones
2. Clean hot water ( I recall bathing in cold water in winter in Beijing in 1985.)
3. Relatively peaceful world
4. Friends and great colleagues
5. Stretching myself in new ventures

What about you? How has 2018 been for you?


Here, I am nursing a 46RMB = US$7 latte at Starbucks Reserve in Shanghai. I’ve been visiting China since 1985, and seen its changes over the years.

At the Reserve, an entire 2nd floor is devoted to tea. Afterall China is the birthplace of tea.


Starbucks which is 100% wholly owned by the American company in Shanghai, is packed everyday. Our Chinese friend drinks a Starbucks cappuccino everyday, a grande cost 32RMB.

The Reserve is AI enabled, and with an app powered by Alibaba, you can follow the origin and roasting process of coffee beans.

Today, to succeed in luxury China, programming and experiential economy coupled with instagrammable moments is necessary to succeed in China. Millennials collect photographs as mementos.

A look around the space, customers are mainly locals and Asian tourists. Perhaps it being Christmas and western expats are home for the season, the place hums along nicely. China is increasingly relying on its local tourists to make up consumption.

When Im tempted to disregard new technology as a fad.


(NB: We were still using typewriters at my workplace when I started work. Imagine sending out 180 TPN letters to 180 countries for a UN Lobbying exercise with 3 copies each. There were typists in a typing pool. Replaced by mail merge function in MS.)

“I’ve come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies:

Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.

Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.

Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.”

Underappreciated Douglas Adams Quotes for Writers, the Universe and Everyone

Are you afraid that your job will be disrupted? Not because you have a bad attitude, its business actually. Your job may be relocated to Ireland or your Canadian boss’s friend wants to work in Asia, and she can do your job.


Chinese painting at the National Gallery of a typical market in Singapore depicting a fruit seller with coconuts and various types of local bananas. We hardly see these fruit hawkers anymore. A life disrupted.

According to global research by coauthors Willyerd (coauthor, The 2020 Workplace) and Mistick (president, Wilson Coll.), the concern is widespread.

The megatrends shaping tomorrow’s workplace will require new skill sets. The book outlines five key strategies we need.

1. Learn on the fly.
CCL uses a 70-20-10 model, 70% of learning happens informally on the job, 20% through relationships with mentors, managers or coach and 10% from formal courses or training.

2. Have an open mindset
Constant learning is better than mastery.

3. You need options
Build a diverse network, connect to people who can help your future.

4. Be greedy about seeking out experiences

Look Sideways
I enjoy the practical stretch breaks recommended in the book esp p137, “look sideways”. 
1. Volunteer for a non profit to get different experience.
2. Ask for a short term assignment
3. Work with your employer to host a hackaton and build a software based product.
4. Express yourself. Tap into your other interests. Learn bl9gging skills by writing about food or your favourite city.
5. Extend your presentation skills as an adjunct at your local college.
6. Give a brown bag talk on a topic or ideas you yourself would like to learn more about.

5. Bounce forward
Dont bounce back, bounce forward. Celebrate your little success with friends!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own.
And you know what you know.

And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”

Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

The authors’ research was sponsored by Oxford Economics and SAP (Systems Applications Products) and includes their megatrend analysis as well.

Stretch: How to Future-Proof Yourself for Tomorrow’s Workplace

Fail fast
Success has a humble start. To succeed, we must first be bad at it.

Authors Babineaux and Krumboltz recommend that instead of treating failure as something to avoid, find ways to hash things as quickly as possible to learn from them.

Write a terrible first draft  to get a somewhat better second draft.

If I want to become a serious artist, I must first create trivial art.

Here is my trivial portrait art done at Tanjong Pagar CC. Procrastination, my struggle.


If i want to become a top commercial architect, I must first design inefficient chunky building.

If  I want to be fluent in Chinese, I must speak a lot of horrible Chinese.

Be Curious
I find it to be true from living with my nieces and nephew that young children are curious. Suddenly, they become self conscious. Or rather, they are stuck in front of their handphone.

The authors suggest to create a “Fun to try” list.

My list
Visit SASCO@Khatib
Digital Storytelling video
Mentor a commonpurpose group on social inclusion
Visit Shanghai
Ceramics class
Blog weekly

Curiosity provides energy and helps you learn quickly.

Curiosity gets things moving. Its a bit like freeing a ship stuck in the mud – once you get things moving, all sorts of new things become possible.

Be inquisitive
🐞What are five things I can try to stir up my life?
🐞What is the biggest priority I am ignoring.
🐞If I were ten years younger, what would I do now?
🐞What is most missing in my personal relationship
🐞Given that this is my life, what do I think I really deserve? What is acceptable and what is a waste of time?

Say yes to Opportunity
One “yes” trumps three nos. Give a bonus to new activity that is likely to introduce you to happenstance – new experiences, learning, perspectives, people or places.

I learnt a new chatbot course. Said yes to meeting my friend’s boss. Said yes to signing up for a certification course. Said yes to blogging every week!

Consider the cost of saying no. Overcome procrastination! Its been quite an impactful 2018, can’t wait for 2019.

🍅What are some opportunities you need to say yes to?

🍅What are some new things can you try to feed your curiosity? (Doesn’t harm health or safety)

🍅 Where are your areas of joy?

 Fail Fast, Fail Often: How Losing Can Help You Win by Ryan Babineaux, PhD., and John Krumboltz, PhD.