Category Archives: Thoughts

2012 Year in Review: Aftermath of a NY Storm

 

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Picture of 5th ave during superstorm Sandy

 

2012 may have been one of the most difficult years in my life post-college. But, somehow coming out alive at the end, you equally realize how much you’ve grown.

It was my first full year post-MBA, first full year living in NY, first full-year at Audible/Amazon. As from my very few blog posts, most can probably realize, the most I could muster up sharing are my favorite books that I’ve read (and listened) throughout the year. At the same time, despite how busy I was, this may be the most books I’ve finished in a single calendar year…maybe ever (thank you Audible).

A little late, but it’s always good to sit down and reflect. In review of 2012, here are a few notable moments I wanted to share

1.Sandy superstorm

– Wow…what a storm. I was very fortunate (only lost hot water for a week). It was amazing to see how quickly the city and New Yorkers got back on track after the storm. Resilience, a perfect way to describe New Yorkers. I remember stories from 9/11 and from the MTA strike, it was amazing to see it first-hand.

– Kinda crazy. I’ve only lived in NYC for < 20 months, already I’ve been through an earthquake, 2 hurricanes, local tragedies, occupy Wall Street…and the list goes on. I wonder what 2013 will bring?

2. Launching of Whispersync for Voice and Immersion Reading (or here) on the 2nd gen Kindle Fire

– The fruit of my 2012…a lot of work, but glad to see a set of truly innovative features that were first to market.

– Here are some reviews (here and here), and descriptions of how they work (here and here)

3. Qualifying for the 2013 NYC marathon (through the 9+1 program)

– For those that know me, I love playing basketball. It’s hard finding a group of guys my level, a court to play on, and regular time to play…so I took up running. Thank you NYRR. They have a fantastic organization, and running “official” timed runs really helps to push you hard (more than just regular training, at least for me). I’m looking forward to running the marathon in 2013.

4. Trip to Galapagos

– One of the coolest trips I’ve ever taken, period.

– Sad…but Lonesome George passed away in June of 2012…he was THE mascot of the Galapagos Islands. Definitely feel fortunate to been able to see him (ie take a picture of him), and just goes to show…if you want to see something, GO. Time is short.

5. Running of Hood to Coast

– Growing in Portland, I’ve always wanted to run the Hood to Coast race. After multiple years of trying to register, I finally got in.

– Quick details: 200 miles, 12 runners (actually we had 11), 111th out of 1086 completed teams (90ish percentile), 31 out of 203 in our ‘Mens Open’ division, an awesome of 26:17,  7:53 pace, and one epic time running and hanging out with 15 other Phi-Delts I used to live with in college.

 

Also, 3 books I enjoyed (don’t judge) in 2012, that I haven’t chance to share yet:

  • Darth Bane Trilogy
    • After the Thrawn Trilogy, this is next favorite set of Star Wars books. Very different take on the Force:  What the dark side is, how it’s formed, and how the current Star Wars universe came to be. Interesting to hear the other side of the story.

Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
Through passion, I gain strength.
Through strength, I gain power.
Through power, I gain victory.
Through victory, my chains are broken.
The Force shall free me

  • Secrets of the FBI
    • Awesome read…learned so much about the FBI. As I read it, the more I can’t stop thinking about Mission Impossible or James Bond.
  • Ghost in the Wires
    • I never knew about Kevin Mitnick…now, I can’t stop talking about him. Super interesting view about his life and what types of “hacking” he did, and how he became so notorious.
    • The more stories I read about “hacking” (examples: here and here)…the more I realize, it’s rarely ever about “hacking” technology, but about “hacking” people.

Other notable reads from 2012:

 

At the end, no matter how hard 2012 was, I know how fortunate and blessed I’ve been. Looking forward to an awesome 2013.

Going Old School: the Boy with Horns. Video Game Review: Ico

 

 

Over the past month, I was able to gather up some time to go through the world of Ico on my PS2. Totally old school here. Released in 2001, it has received very high acclaim. So much so, they re-released the game combined with Shadow of the Colossus on the PS3 a few months back. Even the announcement of lead designer Fumito Ueda leaving Sony and Team Ico, has also received plenty of press.

The game itself is not very long, 10 hours max (took me 8), and it’s very pleasant. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys video games. It’s not a game (at least for me) that drew me into playing it for long hours at a time. But instead a game that you play for a few hours, get fully engaged, appreciate it, then take a rest and come back later. There are so many small, subtle details that really make the game shine. From the subtle vibration tugs when Ico is holding Yorda’s hand, the detail in landscape which makes you feel that you can interact with any object, and the sound effects that make it feel so real.

And to think it was created in 2001!

It was such a simple game; a boy figuring out some puzzles, escaping a castle, and saving a girl. In its simplicity lies the power of the game and story. Such a fresh/refreshing view on a video games, even compared to all the games that have been released since then.  Next, from the same studios, I’m going to take a stab at Shadow of the Colossus. And I can’t wait for the Last Guardian, the latest Ueda project.

 

(Audio) Book Review: Hunger Games Trilogy

Spent a weekend devouring the entire Hunger Games series: Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay. All written by Suzanne Collins and narrated by Carolyn McCormick. Started a little slow in the first book, but once it picked up, I couldn’t put down the series.

In general the series reminds of V for Vendetta, Brave New World, the Hatchet (only in the first book), Fahrenheit 451. Stories about government control, censorship, survival,and independence. Ultimately trying to make your own destiny. (I probably read a little too many of these books growing up…:).

Overall, highly recommended. Last book comes off a little chaotic, but in general you won’t be able to stop once you start (beware).

So, it looks like I’ll be watching the movie when it comes out.

(Audio) Book Review: Einstein, His Life and Universe

 

Just finished Einstein: His Life and Universe, written by Walter Isaacson, narrated by Edward Hermann. It was very well written and organized. It feels like you get to see a snippet/glimpse into Einstein’s life. How all the notes, reviews, and public information was combined into one book  is amazing.

I want to just share three characteristics that I feel made him tick:

  • Humility. Know oneself. Throughout the book, I got the feeling that Einstein (for the most part) tried to do things that were within his ability (physics), and shied away from things that were not (politics).
  • Challenge all assumptions. Unconventional thinking, leads to unconventional results (at the same time, conventional thinkings, leads to conventional results). Einstein challenged time and space itself, and rewrote the way we look at the world, the universe.
  • Persevere. He could not get a job after graduation, and was a humble patent clerk when he made some of the most important scientific discoveries.

I truly believe that all of us have the ability to bend our own space and time…we just need to harness the little bit of Einstein in all of us.

Happy New Years: 2011 in Review

2011 was an incredible year. I’m so grateful for everything that happened. From spending my New Years traveling in South America, graduating from MIT Sloan, and finding a home in NY/Amazon/Audible.

Going back to my few blog posts of 2011, wanted to share a quick recap.

 

Top 3 blog posts by page views:

1. Thin and Minimalist wallets

2. (Audio) Book Review: Talent is Overrated

3. Friends of the Amazon Rainforest Shelter

 

My favorite things from this year:

1. My MBA 2 year overview

2. 50 Days in South America

3. MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference as an organizer

 

Looking forward to the adventures 2012 brings.

(Audio) Book Review: Talent is Overrated

 

 

Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else, written by Geoff Colvin, and Narrated by David Drummond. This was an inspiring book.

I’ve heard a lot of the same thoughts before, in Gladwell’s Outliers, he talks about the 10,000 hours needed to become an expert. At the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, our lead Panel in 2011 was Birth to Stardom: Developing the Modern Athlete in 10,000 Hours? But it’s hard not to see the success of others, and attribute those successes to factors that you can’t control.

A few thoughts from the book I wanted to share:

  • To be good at something, don’t just practice hard, practice hard in good ways. PERFECT practice makes perfect.
    • “One factor, and only one factor, predicted how musically accomplished the students were, and that was how much they practiced.”
  • Deliberate practice is NOT fun, BUT that’s where the advantage comes in. If you can do it, and others don’t, that can propel you to success with respect to your peers. Do what others won’t do, to gain the advantage.
  • Get FEEDBACK. Having a 3rd person view is always great, even better if backed up with data/metrics.
  • “There is absolutely no evidence of a ‘fast track’ for high achievers.”
Not just in sports or music, but I think this can apply to ANY area in your life. Ultimately if you want to be better at something/anything – focus, FAIL (early and often), get feedback, and put in the time.

(Audio) Book Review: Rework

Rework. Written by Jason Fried and David Heinemeir, Narrated by Mike Chamberlain is fantastic. It’s short, to the point, and makes you question how you work –  Is it effective, efficient, and most importantly, is it working?

The authors are also the founders of 37 signals, web applications that focuses on productivity and collaboration. They have a lot of experience and are well-regarded.

Even if you’ve heard/learned most of the concepts before, it’s a great reminder (and it’s a short read/listen) to HOW you should be doing things. Highly recommended when ever you need a reminder, or a kick of inspiration.