I didn’t sleep very well on the last night of my vacation in deliriously hot Palm Springs. Perhaps it was the desert heat that cast my dreams back to the days of my family’s dry cleaning business. See, I grew up in the midst of the fancy garment care industry: distinguishing wool blends from nylons, spot-treating stains with a variety of strong-smelling chemicals, and starching shirt collars to proper stiffness by hand.
Here were my first lessons in business. I watched as my mother turn into an astute expert of her own small business, forming relationships, then friendships, with her loyal group of core clientele. I practiced my own CSR skills during the long hours that our storefront stayed open, as a convenience to our customers. I folded paper inserts onto hangers (“thank you for your business”) by the boxload, since it was cheaper to put together the pieces instead of buying them preassembled.
Here too, were the hard knocks that the glossy starting-your-own-business pamphlets never covered. I watched as mom and dad were subjected to racial slurs in affluent, middle-class North Vancouver. I observed as my dad chased out the door one particular customer that muttered, ‘chink,’ for something as small as an unlifted stain. I stood silent witness as a customer irately pointed to his watch outside of our door, after my dad had failed to appear on time one early morning. He had suffered a head-on collision with a car that had suddenly swerved in from the opposite direction. I watched as my family bore it all stoically, not from any language barrier or misunderstanding, but due to the simple truth that every sale added significantly to our bottom line and livelihood. Here, I think, is the true cost behind those damning words, the customer is always right.
Those years in my family’s dry cleaning business taught me patience and compassion in my professional conduct. It also meant that I would never hesitate to speak out against racism and discrimination, regardless of the situation or audience. I’ve had enough of the passive role society expects us to play, closing one eye to uncomfortable situations in favour of general acceptance and accord. In my own, small way, just as my folks did before me, I am part of a movement that resolutely challenges ignorant behaviours and stereotypes, and chooses to do business with like-minded individuals and corporations that take no shit.
Thanks, mom and dad, for being there first and showing the way.
Well folks. I did it.
I recently made the switch over to a dedicated gaming console, after spending most of my life going back and forth between makeshift PCs on minimum specs, borrowed time on friends’ consoles, and gaming in whatever form I could get my hands on. After such a prolonged drought, I am damned pleased to have given into my inner geekdom and now enjoy saving the universe on a regular basis.
As such, everything is new and fresh – there’s a lot of gaming history that I’ve missed out on, and the thrifty ninja in me revels in exploring iconic titles without hefty price tags. So, as I begin this wonderfully meandering journey in the video game candy shop, I also fondly take a look back on the mishmashed tale of ‘How I got Nerdy….’ Read the rest of this entry »
Blustery first attempt after many (deleted) outtakes.
Recently, I got called out for a wimpy-assed response concerning my company’s typical sales cycle.
I was sitting in the company of fellow sales and marketing managers in my networking group. It hadn’t started off as a good morning – I had been traveling non-stop over the last two weeks to major tradeshows in Anaheim and Seattle. My sleeping, eating, and exercising habits were as scattered as the dirty laundry piling out of my suitcase. A million ideas and followups were floating around in my head, and I hadn’t had the time to organize my thoughts into a comprehensive game plan.
But really, no excuses – I had thoughtlessly spewed out some cop-out response that sounded good but had no real substance, and my peers had thoughtfully called me out on it. Read the rest of this entry »
I hate asshats.
Okay, that’s just too vague of a differentiator, so let me be more specific.
I hate people who talk about themselves until their own self-praise comes fountaining out of both ends.
“But Ninja,” you say, “isn’t it a rule that you have to make yourself look good in order to merit the job in the first place?”
Again, clarification required here: I think there’s a way of showing competence without showing off. It’s along the same train of thought as crafting any effective marketing message or strategy.
Be a stealthy, subtle ninja. Your colleagues don’t need to know the minute details of what you’re working on. Keep them second-guessing what brilliance you’ll be bringing to the table next week.
Sometimes, you say a lot by shutting up.
I hate the crash. I don’t mind the burn.
Last week, I blogged about how we’re all scared into living life as high achievers. Today, I’m breathing through that fear.
You know when the crash is imminent. There are always warning signs when life is about to upchuck on the pavement. True to every horror flick around, the leadup to the crash is always more powerful than the event itself. Unless your movie really sucks.
I think we should all learn how to pause.
and take notice of what happens afterwards.
That moment where shit hits the fan – and life simply goes on.
I lived through the crash. I’m revelling in the burn.
While a few of my friends have bitten the mortgage bullet, the rest of us are still renting for one reason or another. Personally, I’ve never been all that good with numbers. I’m aware that mortgage payments may be around the same amount as my rent each month, but it’s the larger responsibility of home ownership that requires careful planning on my part. Until I can build my financial base to a place where I’ll be able to afford all the contingencies that come with owning an apartment, renting is the logical way to go. I have a landlord on speed dial for the things that go wrong, I don’t have to sacrifice on location and convenience, and I can live in places that, at the moment, would be impossible to purchase.
I’ve been through more than my fair share of student basement suites, single closets (no exaggeration), shared houses, and glitzy downtown high rises. I’ve lived in a variety of Vancouver neighbourhoods, including the West End, Kits, Commerical Drive, Point Grey, Burnaby, and the North Shore. I’ve also had the added joy of living outside of Vancouver – but that’s for a different time. It’s the centralized, Vancouverite rental experience that I’m addressing in this post – and the best online tools and tricks that I’ve discovered to make this a less stressful and more productive experience. Read the rest of this entry »
It hasn’t been an unproductive time for the Ninja: the last few months have seen some of the most strenuous challenges of my professional career. Sometimes, life just isn’t exciting enough to blog about. There is no time to glorify the experience and polish it up for content. Instead, it consists of working late nights in a Red Bull-induced haze, popping junk food and not seeing daylight for, well, days.
Sometime before the madness of my Ninja endurance marathon, I seem to recall my good friend Phoenix of ¡PLAM! sharing a podcast on the Hidden Demons of High Achievers. Sounded fitting enough, since I couldn’t at the time see the end to my massive workfest. I put it on as background noise, found myself more and more drawn to this episode of the Harvard Business Review interview.
High Achievers have essentially become an accepted archetype of today’s career-driven boys and girls. There’s a certain smug satisfaction to pulling off that impossible deadline; receiving the recognition and reward of a job well done; operating at a breakneck productivity level and still appearing like you have it all. You’re leaner, meaner, require less down-time, and essentially leave your coworkers shaking their heads, wondering how you do it. Well, here’s how… Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve been having second thoughts on something that I threw out on twitter this morning.
I originally took up the ninja brand because I admired traits like quick reflexes and stealthy effectiveness. Face-to-face networking isn’t just about listening. It’s about digesting all the information fed to you by your heightened ninja senses, using that intel to correctly and instantly relate to the other party, and doing it all in a very condensed time lapse. This is the real reason why speedy reflexes are a must, and also the secret behind why most people (myself included) find networking an exhausting happenstance.
Why happenstance? (Such an awesome word.) Because networking goes on everywhere and anywhere, whether you’re dressed to impress or rocking oil-stained sweats on your off day. Whether you’re typing out a much-revised, wordy blog post in zentext or tweeting on the fly.