Play More

This has been making the rounds lately, but worth another post. Take the time to watch the whole thing. Amazing the brilliance and creativity that can come out of play. Something I need to remind myself of every once in awhile. After the video check out a resurrected article I wrote back in the day. The article was origionally written for Reporter Magazine while I was a student. 

Update: The Accidental Creative has some great commentary on the film. Good lessons anyone should keep in mind everyday. 

Play More

Recess was that great moment in the school day when you got to cut loose, play, live. Then one day they took it away. No more time to play we need to work! Even lunch hours these days aren’t enough. You end up eating at your desk checking email or in a meeting. More and more it seems we are giving up what living is about. Enjoying a homemade sandwich with your favorite toppings, playing your favorite sport just for fun, starting new hobbies, or just sitting on a bench enjoying the outdoors. To me these are the things that make life worth living, but they always seem to come second in the “real world”. Everyone has their own idea of what a fulfilling and rewarding life is, but it doesn’t seem like people always dictate their own path. The world moves at the speed of the internet now with hard deadlines, and cut throat competition. If you’re not on board you’ll be left in the dust. What is everyone in a rush for and how did we get to this point?

It seems to me that too much of the world has gotten caught up in stocks, suits, conference calls, and politics. As a society we’ve forgotten how to play. It’s looked down on as lazy, unproductive, and childish. However, we forget that a child at play has more imagination, creativity, and potential for the next great thing than any man or woman in a suite and cubical ever will. How can you survive in the world if you’re playing you ask? I think your days are numbered if you don’t. 

The reality of a global economy should make people realize that it isn’t enough to just get a college degree, or masters even. It is cheaper now to send jobs that simply entail applied knowledge over seas. Given the opportunity anyone can learn how to do these jobs, and more people in the world are now getting that chance. The next wave of great entrepreneurs will be the ones that can take ideas to the next level. Individuals that can create something new, different, and unique will be the ones sought after not only for their expertise but also for their personal style and process.  The ones who have the creativity and vision to consistently offer their specialized knowledge will lead the next economic revolution.

Before you convince yourself that if you can just get that MBA then the BMW will follow take the time to develop your own personal vision. Resist the urge to be another cog in the wheel, and reinvent it. The important answers are not in the back of the book, they are in the imagination. If you play more you will see more. I think if people took the time to play with problems they encounter in life, they wouldn’t get so frustrated trying to work at them. 

How to make a bag

Making a bag is a lot more involved than you think it would (or should) be. First, we decide what kind of bag we want ( shoulder bag, backpack, sling bag, etc), and we decide what else it will have to hold, and who we're selling it too. Then I'll do some more research on the market and start sketching away on some idea. Hopefully, we'll decide on one concept that we like and I'll make a packet of drawing to give to our factory to start making samples for us to test and review....this is a long story, so instead of reading about it check out the slide show and factory footage. I think you'll get the idea.

It's a really satisfying feeling to see a drawing you made in Rochester, NY go around the world and get turned into this thing, and then turn into thousands of more things ready to go out into the world. It cool to see, but also makes you realize that you're affecting what is put out into this World, and that you should take the opportunity to make it count.

We took a day to visit the factory in China. The factory is in Qingdao, China, which is also the location of the water sport events of the Summer Olympics. So, the entire area is a construction area as the city is trying to prepare. The amazing thing about unlimited labor is that they can do the same construction in months that it takes us to do in years.

We were met at the airport by some of the factory managers, and we all piled into this tiny van and made out way to the factory. Here's a little taste of what it's like to drive there.

(I'm trying very hard to keep the camera still, but between the rough roads and the van with no shocks, it was difficult to do. You also get a new appreciation for side walks and traffic laws)

I think that just about does it for my trip, and Spring is here so I'm sure they'll be lots more to talk about soon.

Making Friends

About 80% of what is involved in doing business in Korea, is the relationship itself. Business has a family feel to it, which is quite different to the western view of "business is business". So, a lot of our time spent on the trip was devoted to "growing" the relationship, and by that I mean lots of eating, drinking, and karaoke singing. Pictures don't do it justice, but here it is.

Everyone we met there was very friendly and outgoing. After only a couple of days you begin to feel like you've know these people a lot longer, and I could begin to see how strong loyalty can develop between business parters this way; even if you don't speak the same language.

Big City, Small World

One of the "weird" things about traveling in Asia is that you become the overwhelming minority for the first time. Americans joke that "they all look the same", well, they think the same thing about us. Most of the white people you see are European, but every once in awhile you'll run into someone from the States. The whole experience certainly brings into reality how HUMONGOUS the planet is. However, every once in awhile something happens that makes things seem much smaller.

It was decided (for us) that we'd change it up a bit one night and instead of having Korean beef BBQ we'd go for some Japanese beef (both are extremely delicious). For some reason the place where we intended to go wasn't there anymore, but we found another place down a nearby side street. After we had started eating the host/owner came out and started some small talk with us. His English was perfect, so we asked him if he had ever lived in the US. He went on to tell us that he grew up in the States!

Us: "Wow, cool we're from Upstate New York."
Him: "Oh, I lived up there for awhile."
Us: "Really?! We're from Rochester."
Him: "Oh, I went to school there."
Us: "Really?! Where?"
Him: "RIT."
Us/Me: " Holy cow, that's where I went to school!".
Him: " Oh, Wow, Really?!"

Unbelievable.

We talked with him some more and learned that his sister was a Gold Medalist Speed skater for Korea, and he took us to see some of the metals she won. A very cool small world moment.

From Food and Fun ...

Seoul in 250 words or less

Its taken me a little longer than I thought to sort and upload all my pictures and videos, but I'm just about done.

Seoul is pretty unreal. It seems to spread out forever and anywhere you go is busy. Sort of like Manhattan, but bigger and lots more people. Because I was there for work I only had one day for sightseeing, so its very hard to take it all in, nevermind trying to blog about it. So, it's easier to just show pictures.

Here's a quick video of the changing of the guard ceremony outside the front gate of Seoul Palace.

The most impressive sight was Seoul Palace. It's pretty amazing to visit a culture and city that has literally more than a thousand years of history, with buildings and monuments still standing to prove it. There's nothing that really compares in the US, as we are only a couple hundred years old.

Getting to see those Olympic Gold Metals was pretty cool too, and there's an amazing "small world" story to go with it that I'll include in my next entry. Stay tuned.

Jetsetter (kinda)

Part of the fun of going to Asia is the trip there, right? Actually, I wasn't looking forward to sitting on the plane for the 12+ hours it would take to get from Newark to Japan, but I was pleasantly surprised. The main reason for this was because I got to fly in business class, which I am now convinced is the ONLY way to do this kind of trip. With all the layovers and time in the air it took about 28 hours before we had landed in Seoul. Having access to the nice lounges and being able to lean back in a Lazyboy really takes the edge off of traveling stress.

The airport in Japan was just redone, and done beautifully. The space feels like more of a mix between and airport/resort/5 start hotel lobby, and completely clean. The whole place was carpeted and normally I would expect to see stains, gum spots, and whatever else, but it was groomed and spotless just like your grandmother's living room. The only western "restaurant" in the place was a McDonald's, and it had the longest line of white people next to it that you've ever seen. I'm disappointed that I didn't take a picture, but it was the happiest McDonald's that you've ever seen. Because of the long line, most people had to place there order and then wait for it to be completed. However, the "chef" came out from behind the counter to hand deliver each order with a smile and and bow. For anyone who is used to the usual service at a McDonald's (or any other fast food place) this was an unreal sight. Just my first taste of the Asian culture and their complete dedication to service and courtesy. I'll mention this more later.

So we had some time to kill in Japan, so I got a massage and a couple beers. I really want one of these machines!

I'm still organizing my pictures from Seoul and China but I'll post them in the next day or so.

An American in Asia

Monday I returned home from one of my more interesting life experiences; my first business trip to Asia. Last week I flew to Seoul, Korea where one of our suppliers is based and also did a quick day trip to China to visit our factory. Seoul is an great city with an amazing culture, and China is something that is hard to believe until you see it with your own eyes. It puts a lot of things into perspective really fast. I did a lot of picture snapping, because it was so much to try and take in. I still have to sort through all the pictures and movies, but I'll be posting up more this week, so check back. For now, I'll give you a taste of what a drive to work in Seoul looks like. LOTS more to come.

Embrace the bumble

“You've got to bumble forward into the unknown.” ~ Frank Gehry



I've seen a few interviews with Frank Gehry and I'm a big fan of his documentary, Sketches of Frank Gehry. Once you get to know a little bit about him, you learn that he really isn't so sure of himself most of the time. He's not the typical hotshot architect/designer who intimidates you with their ego. He admits to the blocks and self-doubt that ebb and flow during the creative process, all starting with the most daunting; the blank page.

I struggled with this the most early in college. I kept waiting for the day when something would click and all the right answers would just flow right out. Instead I learned that, like it or not, bumbling in the unknown is the most important part. It's the time right before the A-ha moment or 4am miracle where it all comes together and you look back and wonder, "where did that come from?" My post college years have also taught me that this idea extends to most of the things you'll encounter in life; career, insurance, rent, taxes, loans, relationships, "adult" decisions. Any encounter with something new evokes the fear of the blank page, but embracing the bumble always helps you move forward.

This blog is going to be about my bumblings and findings. Enjoy.