Tag Archives: Innovation


Close to my Chinese roots, my mother put in a lot of effort to find my Chinese name, it means the bell that rings at dawn because I was born pre-dawn. Embeded in my name is my mother’s hope for me. Wisdom, riches, beauty, fame, peace are the typical aspirations. Every Chinese knows this tradition, and in some families, we even choose characters that reveal your position in the family tree.

Yet when it comes to getting an English name, many Chinese/ Taiwanese / Hong Kong Chinese would choose names like Noodle, Rock etc and we puzzle at the quirkiness.

Not so, a young British girl. Beau Jessup. She is making more than $300,000 and funding her way through college by naming Chinese babies. As founder and CEO of Special Name, a website designed to provide Chinese parents with culturally appropriate English names for their babies.

How did she come up with the idea?

Jessup was inspired to start the business in 2015, when she was just 15. She has since named a total of 677,900.

Empathise- A chance encounter

Jessup was traveling with her father in China, when a business contact, a Mrs. Wang, asked for help in naming her three-year-old daughter.

Where are the pain-points?Constraints can be opportunities

“Due to language barriers and internet censorship in China, the ability to research English names can be limited, often resulting in unfortunate and sometimes comical selections”, Jessup noted.(Source:

Prototype: A minimally viable Idea

Back home, Jessup hired a freelance web developer to build a Chinese language website for the Chinese community. Meanwhile, in her spare time, she filled a database with more than 4,000 boys and girls names, attributing five characteristics that best represented that name, such as honesty and optimistism.

Ideate – create choices

The website uses algorithm to generate the names. It also allows collective decision making by encouraging users to share the three name suggestions with their friends and family via a direct link to Chinese messaging app WeChat on the site — to help them settle on their favorite and avoid any “cultural mistakes.”

Travel, Empathise, Talk to locals

Beau Jessup’s idea came about because she is a bridge to a diverse network. How many English speaking Chinese can do what she did? Many.

Sometimes, a simple idea is waiting to be discovered.

Go out and talk to people. Empathise with their constraints and see if you can help solve their problems in a win-win way.

Network for ideas

University of Chicago sociologist Ron Burt has referred to this sort of networking as bridging a gap between different social networks.

Burt studied 673 managers in a large U.S. electronics firm and found that those managers who had a broader network of contacts were consistently rated as generating more highly valued ideas.

Their access to diverse, often contradictory information and interpretations gives them an edge when it comes to spotting and developing good ideas.

I’m reading “The Bullet Journal Method” by Ryder Carroll, creator of the bullet journal notebook.

He kept a journal! A Sketchbook! A to-do list all in one. Why? It was his method to be focussed because of his ADHD.

On Pinterest, I’m inspired by many BuJo (bullet journal) devotees. It combined my desire to sketch as well as my need to be organised.


Read more about famous people who journal on his blog:

What’s your weakness?
Don’t hide it. What’s your method to deal with it?

Perhaps its your answer to the next discovery.

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.

Chuàngyè nán, shǒuyè gèng nán

Difficult to start a business, its even more difficult to maintain it.

What do film and cosmetics have in common?
Fujifilm survived the digital age with an unexpected makeover. The same technology used to innovate on chemicals like collagen/pigments for film and photography allowed them to apply on researching skincare.
They now have a line called Astalift!
In some counters, it is next to the Shisedo and Kose counters.

“The will to make such drastic changes and adapt quickly to seismic market disruption allow Fujifilm to still be a player, even as rival Kodak became bankrupt in 2012. Diversification is the name of the game. Although, still within the core line of business, and using synergies of the expertise of one’s business.

Are you afraid of disruption?
Take stock of your skills. Kaizen, comes from a Chinese word meaning constant improvement. In today’s fast changing world, can we rest on our laurels?

Constant innovation, constant improvement.

As we move into the New Year, what new skills do you want to pick up?

What growing areas or industries/ trends can your skills be transferred?

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