As anyone who follows this site will have noticed, I’ve been a bit quiet lately. I’ve started writing many articles but they’ve never quite made it out of the drafts folder.
It’s not that I’ve got nothing to say, it is, that I am overwhelmingly underwhelmed.
This time last year I was getting ready to head to Hong Kong. The tail end of 2019 in that city was gloriously tumultuous. …
I can still remember the first time I landed at Kai Tak.
It was 1987, I was seven years old.
I had lived in Singapore earlier in my life and spent a few years in both Australia and New Zealand but Hong Kong would be the town that I would end up calling home.
I remember it being delicious.
I remember it being busy.
I remember it being colourful.
I remember it being awfully exciting.
I remember the streets being paved with gold and opportunity everywhere.
Hong Kong in the 80s was a heady place to be.
A little under two years after my arrival, on June the 4th, 1989, something happened in Beijing. …
Working for someone else is easy.
Even if the job is hard.
Unlike the US, in countries like New Zealand, you don’t even have to worry about doing your own tax return.
You worry about nothing.
If your employer falls on hard times your rights are held above theirs, if they want to fire you for financial reasons your position takes on more importance than theirs most of the time.
Basically, if you’re employed, you get to turn up, do what you’re told, go home and keep your lights on. …
Like most people I’ve had to fight the anxiety demon from time-to-time over the course of my life.
It is the most useless thing to get caught up in but it can also be all-pervading.
It rapidly becomes an existential battle.
When it was at its worst anxiety was utterly debilitating. I would find myself so mired in stress about things that might or might not happen that I completely lost my ability to focus on things that mattered.
Finding a way to completely remove it from my life was an aspirational goal, one that I had always wanted to achieve. …
Money. A necessary evil. One of those stressors that everyone has to deal with. I hated it for a lot of my life, I blamed it when I didn’t have enough, I blamed it when I had too much and wasted it. It was all money’s fault.
The very fact that it existed made it guilty.
I used to think about money in a very damaging way. I approached everything from a foundation of scarcity yet with a somehow gluttonous attitude. When I had it, it had to be spent. When I didn’t have it I suffered. …
New Zealand is expensive. Most people who live here have long accepted that travel for pleasure to places such as Queenstown is far beyond their reach. Asia is easily and readily accessible, as is Australia, both represent better value for money than a local holiday. This has been the norm for the intrepid Kiwi traveller for many years.
New Zealand is poor. The dichotomous nature of our economy has things costing a lot but very little money in most people’s pockets. Again, it has been like this for many years. The median salary in the country is a miserly $52,000 New Zealand dollars. …
We spend our lives talking. We talk to people we like, we talk to people we don’t like, we talk about good things, we build people up, we put people down.
Life is one big string of conversations. They are an extremely important part of our journey.
There are conversations with co-workers, business partners, life partners and with others, these conversations matter. We take time out of our day for them, we prioritize them, they are important to us.
We take some so seriously that we put everything on hold just to attend to them.
We devote significant resources to these conversations. …
If there’s one thing that matters beyond all others when it comes to being an entrepreneur it is keeping motivated. That’s no mean feat. You’re on your own, results are often a long time coming and getting disheartened is really easy.
The temptation to throw in the towel and go back to a traditional job is often baying at your heels. Underestimate how essential motivation is to success at your peril and, rest assured, motivation is not something that just happens.
It takes effort.
In traditional employment, there are plenty of things that you can use as metrics for motivation. Feedback from peers or superiors, making sure you hit your KPIs, meeting targets and budgets and, of course, you get rewarded every single month when you get your paycheck. …
One of the most difficult things to do, especially in today’s world, is to give the thing you are working on, or the person you are talking to, the respect of your full focus, and make no mistake it is a matter of respect.
The problem is that the way we work has changed.
25 or 30 years ago I would’ve had a computer in the corner of my desk and spent the majority of my day with a pen, paper and printed material, bringing tasks to the computer only when I was ready to do so. …
Hong Kong has had an exceptionally rough 12 months. Late last year I witnessed the streets of Tsim Sha Tsui destroyed, Molotov cocktails being hurled around Mong Kok and I found myself caught up in a situation in Causeway Bay which saw me need first aid as a result of exposure to tear gas.
I finally left in February after the city had been gripped by fear over a repeat of 2003’s SARS epidemic, which destroyed the domestic economy and tanked the housing market. COVID-19 had arrived in the Hong Kong SAR.
All the way through the burgeoning public health emergency the riots continued. When I left, on an airline that carries the Virgin brand which was placed into receivership yesterday, the airport was empty, business was stalled and life in the city had taken on a dystopian quality. …