3 Stories, and 2 Lessons

Dec 24, 2009

First, let’s go back to 2007, before I even started blogging. I had been reading Seth Godin’s blog and was really inspired by his writings. I emailed him a couple of random thoughts (as a completely unknown 16 year old). And he replied, giving me encouragement and saying that my thoughts weren’t all bad. That encouragement was what spurred me on to this blog, and one of the reasons why I admire him so much.

When I first started blogging, I reached out to Chris Brogan, asking him for advice and suggestions on how to improve my blog. He not only replied and gave me good advice, he even made a post about my blog, giving me my first boost of subscribers. Since then, he’s continued to be really helpful in everything.

Just last week, I finally got a hold of Trey Lockerbie‘s EP. How did I get it? I emailed him asking him for it, basically saying that I wanted his EP, but it’s only available on the iTunes music store which is inaccessible from Singapore. Long story short, he left a copy of the CD at the hotel’s front desk last week when he stopped by Singapore for a show. I’ve always really loved Trey’s music since I first heard him a couple of years ago, but this brought my appreciation  (and fanhood) of him to a whole new level.

What am I getting at? Firstly, from an individual’s perspective. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Your heroes are not always really that out of reach. More often than not, they’re happy to hear from you. Even business owners have said that what matters most to them is “customers who appreciate what we do.” Reach out, ask for what you need, and you never know, you might just get it.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, for brands (both personal and corporate). How open are you to your customers? How approachable are you? Do you communicate with your customers, are you willing to help them when they reach out to you? Because you should. That little bit of approachability goes a long way.

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The Top 5 Most Over-Rated Traits

Sep 18, 2008

The world has changed a lot, from even just a few years ago. And as such, the traits that were important in the past are arguably not as important today. So, here’s a list of what I think to be the most over-rated traits, in no particular order.

Hard Work

Or rather, ‘long’ work. Even today, kids in school are thought to believe that if they’re not doing well, they should study longer and try harder. We are taught to think that working longer would lead to better results. I don’t think that’s true anymore. As Seth Godin has said, “Hard work is about risk“. It’s not the number of hours you put in that matters, it’s not necessarily how hard you try. It’s about what you are trying – how many approaches, etc.

Being Reasonable

To quote George Bernard Shaw, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable man adapts the world to himself. All progress depends upon the unreasonable man.” That says it all, really.


I don’t know about other cultures, but this is one of the biggest problems I find in Singapore. Yes, humility is all well and good, and too much arrogance isn’t a good thing. But on the flip side, you shouldn’t always be playing down your contributions or talents (as too many people, in my opinion, do over here). If you did a good job, take credit for it, you deserve it. Humility isn’t about playing down your strengths, it’s about admitting both your strengths and your weaknesses in balance.


Yes, it can be argued that rules are there for a reason. But sometimes, you have to break the rules. That’s why I love House (the TV show). House, the doctor, often breaks the rules. He goes with what he believes is right, even if it’s against normal procedure. He takes risks, and it’s those risks that saves lives and makes him such a good doctor. To take a quote from the show, “the rules exist because 95% of the time for 95% of the people, they’re the right thing to do.” That doesn’t mean that it’s always the right thing to do. There are times when you have to break the rules – or at the very least, you should be thinking about the rules and willing to break them.


Before you start jumping on my back, let me clarify this. Persistence is good, in some cases. It’s good when you know what you’re doing, when you believe firmly in it, when you know why you’re persisting. But persisting for the sake of it, just because you don’t want to quit, is not a good idea, and it’s something that too many people do. In some cases, it’s better to quit. Sometimes, you hit a dead end, what you’re doing doesn’t work anymore, and the best thing you can do is quit (for more information on this, read The Dip by Seth Godin). The trick is knowing when to quit, and when to persist.

There are probably more that I can think of, but those are 5 of the most over-rated traits, in my opinion, at least. Do you agree? Why (or why not)?

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Some Great People to Check Out

Sep 2, 2008

Over the past summer, I had the honor of being involved in an internship with Seth Godin and Squidoo. I was one of the virtual interns, part of a Basecamp group which got to try out different stuff. It was interesting and I got to interact with a lot of great people – really creative, intelligent students from around the world. It was a huge pleasure and honor to get to interact with Seth himself as well.

Anyway, as part of the internship, Seth has posted a PDF of handmade bios of some of the interns. Yes, I have a page in there, but that’s not why I’m sharing it. I’m sharing it because there are 15 other really intelligent, creative, awesome people mentioned there, who I highly recommend you check out. You might find someone who you’d want to work with or connect with (given the quality of the people there, you probably will).

So yeah, here’s the PDF.

Providing Better Performance Isn’t Enough

Jun 20, 2008

Seth Godin posted some thoughts on the Amazon Kindle. Great ideas, as always, from him.

Here’s the part of the post that really struck me, though.

Word processing didn’t work because it was typing but a little
cheaper. It worked because it was better than typing. Email didn’t work
because it was mail but a little faster. It worked because it was
fundamentally better than snail mail…

blog it

It’s not about improving performance. Just an improved performance will not be enough to make people want to use your product.

It’s about making something that’s fundamentally different. Something that’s better, that redefines what the task is. As Guy Kawasaki puts it, it’s about jumping to the next curve.

Merely providing better performance isn’t enough.