Monthly Archives: May 2009

lessons from a night at the apple store

it’s 4 a.m. and again, it’s a long night between phone calls and jotting down words on a blank white sheet.

managed to go to the charity:water event tonight at the apple store which was a really inspirational story of someone — scott harrison — who managed to apply innovative solutions to an age-old problem: accessibility to clean water.

while i could go on about the great work his npo is doing, i thought it’d be better to share with you some of the key takeaways i think any organization can learn from (i do encourage you to check out charity:water’s website and mission though :))

1. Design is important. I think that a lot of times design is often neglected in an organization’s plans. Yet at the same time, websites are often the key, 20-second-intro any organization gets to an audience. Make it catchy, powerful, lasting.

One of the things I never understood about organizations like the red cross was how they could be one of the largest non-profits in the world, yet have a website that lagged in innovation. Web 1.5 when the world was onto Web 3.0.

Scott talked about how the organization’s second hire was the designer, right after hiring someone who knew how to design effective water systems.

2. Connect with the user. I know … this is a pretty blanket piece of advice that is used virtually everywhere but I loved how Charity:Water used Google Earth and GPS devices to show exactly where wells to clean water were being built.

Which leads to point number 3 (for non-profits and social enterprises)

3. Empower the end-user. Technology is such an amazing tool and one of the quickest ways I think we can really empower people is to share this with others. Charity:Water gave GPS devices to the villagers to use themselves. based on the same principle, all wells were dug by local villagers.

4. Be an effective communicator. One thing that struck me mid-way through Scott’s presentation was “wow, he’s a great speaker.” and then i realized that virtually every talk I’ve gone to with some grassroots organization had a “great speaker.” the ability to really convey your message and create that strong personal relationship is so key … after looking more into charity:water’s website, i saw that each member of the staff had received communications coaching from a firm specializing in giving this training. a worthwhile investment for any organization, unless you’re one of the few blessed with the natural ability to speak and captivate audiences 🙂

anyway, i think those are the main points i remember off the top of my head — good night!


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china and the professional life

as you may have noticed via le blog, my life has recently become a lot more sinocentric.

for some of you, this may be interesting as you’re looking to learn more about china really make sense of this complex conundrum that is la chine. and for those of you who have heard enough about china from me, i promise i’ll post about something else soon too 🙂

anyway, the main point of this post was to expand on my earlier entry about recruitment in china. @aimeenbarnes is a great writer who has written some really interesting posts about china and her experiences and insights. her most recent post on Falling in Love with China … and your career really touches on many key points that hold true not only for the china market, but in interpersonal relationships and careers everywhere.

In short, if you have your eyes set on china, learn chinese (i know aimee says this isn’t really an absolute must but in my opinion, if you really want to learn about a country, knowing its language and the nuances that are involved are key), read, visit, and talk to people.

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another look at creativity

i realized that my best working hours are between 12 a.m. to 3 a.m.

this probably isn’t the best schedule to follow but i thought i would share this great TED lecture with you from a great writer — elizabeth gilbert. TED is one of the main reasons why i love the internet and an ever evolving web — it stands for technology, entertainment, design and draws together some of the world’s most brilliant minds across multiple disciplines.

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jon huntsman jr. as next china ambassador?

so twitter-verse was abuzz this friday over news that current utah governor, jon huntsman jr., was likely to be making the move to beijing as the united states’ top diplomat.  while i haven’t really read that much into huntsman’s policies, he certainly seems well-qualified for this critical post. a fluent mandarin speaker, huntsman had spent time in taiwan as part of his missions trip with the church of latter day saints. with a background in business (his family runs the huntsman corporation, one of the world’s largest chemical distributors), philanthropy, and politics, huntsman may just be what the US needs to tread the waves that are the increasing importance of us-china relations.

furthermore, this gesture by the obama administration reflects the new president’s political savvy as well — upholding his promises of maintaining a bi-partisan state while making it difficult for a very strong potential republican 2012 presidential contender to make any concrete criticism of the obama administration over the next four years.

for the governor’s nine-year old daughter — grace mei huntsman — the appointment will also mean a move back home. grace was adopted by the huntsmans from china, who have also adopted another daughter from india.

of course, time will be the final decider of jon huntsman jr.’s story but for now, am looking forward to the developments this new appointment will bring.

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remembering may 12 | sichuan earthquake

can you believe it’s been a year since may 12 and that fateful sichuan earthquake? heart definitely goes out to those affected that day. reposting the following youtube clip that captures some of those moments:

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modern love

so why are you single? aren’t you worried that time is running out?

i always get these well-intentioned questions with quizzical looks, from close friends to family to mere acquaintances. depending on the person, i’ll sometimes brush it off saying that everyone else worries about it for me so much that i really don’t see any reason for me to. and then we usually laugh and move on.

but in all seriousness, it’s something that i don’t find troubling, especially at 23. in contrast, i’ve found it to be liberating. independent. carefree. educational … learning more more about people, and life.

i remember the first time breaking up with who i thought would be the love of my life at the time and how painful those initial few months were.  the over-analytical me saw reminders of “us” almost everywhere i went, and during our time together, our social circles had virtually merged into one.

i thought half a year in a  different country across the world would repaint the worn picture that was my life then, but it all came undone with hour-long phone calls. we had become dependent.

in the end, we realized how unhealthy it was for the both of us, and more importantly, how we were no longer helping each other grow and instead had started tearing each other down. any self-help book would have told me that it was time to end it a few months before it really, officially, did.

in retrospect, it was the sweet innocence of love’s first blush that probably made it more difficult than it should have been. or perhaps i’ve only grown more jaded since then.

whatever the reason, no breakup since has been that difficult, mainly because i think i began to realize my own personal ethos of living, a blueprint i’m still etching out today in more ways than one.

perhaps that is one component that defines ‘modern love’ — that behind the seemingly aloof approach to relationships is the genuine struggle and determination to establish our own definitions of the self as well.

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to write (and do) for oneself

someone recently asked me whether or not they should start a blog, citing fear that no one would read it as a main hesitation.

but when we blog, how much of it do we really blog for others versus for ourselves? sure, we (i) blog sometimes because we think there is something worth sharing. a lot of times, it may also be something that we want to remember.

whatever your intention was, something caused you to take the time to think about it, and to think about it enough to write it down.

at the end of the day, at least we ourselves can look at past entries and chronicle events, thoughts, and progression.

i guess that’s something we should carry with us throughout our daily lives as well; we write to share our thoughts, we write to improve our writing, and we do to improve ourselves.

rather than wondering what everyone else would think, and fearing rejection, there is something to be said about writing (and doing) for oneself.

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