The Happy Running Girls

My wife and I wandered downstairs after dinner last Saturday. Quite a few people living in the neighborhood were enjoying themselves. Some were jogging around the garden with the favorite music in their ears. Some were stretching their bodies with community facilities. Some were chit-chatting with their neighbors. People who prefer to stay away from the electronic worlds and keep distance from alcohol found their moments of relaxing and peace. Indeed, while the temperature was cool and the wind was flowing gently across, it was such a lovely evening for busy parents, young couples, pets lovers, etc.

Just about half way we wandered around the garden, two sweet laughing fly across the corner. Then two little girls with their eyes narrowed, mouth wide open, arms stretched upward appeared at the corner. We quickly stepped aside and gave the path for the two little girls. The parents who pushed a stroller with their new born inside steered their wheels at the side walk. Another older couples further behind also tightened their dog cord so that they won’t blocked the girls.

It seemed that the 1st girl was chased by the 2nd girl and the 2nd one try to catch the first one. But the girl in front didn’t seem to care whether to be caught and the girl behind didn’t bother to run faster either. They staggered along the pave, wagged their braid. They never looked aside for people who cleared pave for them. They simply laugh and ran along the path.  They disappeared at the end of the pave shortly, but their laughing still stayed around our ears. 

While their sweet voice finally flew away, I looked at my wife with a simple smile, and she smiled back to me naturally. Then I looked back towards the couple with their new born with a smile, and they nodded back with a smile already in their faces. I turned back and continue the walk with my wife. We talked about the two little girls, and envied their unconditional happiness. As a result, the rest of our trip was not just peaceful and relax but also smiley and cheerful. I believe the new born couple would have the same experience because of their best wishes to their baby while their walk restarted. And I have no doubts that the last couples who were walking their dogs would experience similar change of mood. 

I was amazed by the power of these two happy running girls. While the walk at Saturday evening walk is a way for adults to avoid their daily hassles, it was just a cool night that they can happily run or chase along a quite and safe pave without being interrupted. They are so happy about running together that they don’t have to excuse anyone who need to stop by to give them the path. And the people who step aside are not only so ready to accept the priority of the girls but also happy to see know their laughing continued because of their choice.

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A Little Dose of Inspiration Nick Vujicic

When faced with daily problems and struggled with the hard reality, even motivated people tend to lose their faith and lose their vision. This is the time we would be some help and encouragement from someone else.

While I was searching for the term “Reality Distortion Field“, I found this amazing video that teared me in 30 seconds.

I would just quote his speech below as a spur for my journey. And I also hope friends who watched what Nick has been achieved is able to carry the spirit with them.

So what do you do when you fall down? Get back up, everybody knows to get back up, … But I tell you there are some times in the life where you fall down and feel like you don’t have the strength to get back up. …, when you don’t have to impress anybody and you’re yourself, and fears come in. You know the fear that you have as soon as you walk into the doors of your house. Maybe it is a broken home. Maybe you have doubt in your life. Maybe you don’t know for sure what’s going to happen in future, and it scares you. Maybe you’re worried about what people think of you, what people say about you. Just that fear that paralyzes you, and I just want to ask you today. Do you think you have hope? Because I tell you I’am down here, face down, and I have no arms and no legs. It should be impossible for me to get back up …

But it’s not. You see, I will try 100 times to get up and if I fail  100 times, if I fail and I give up, do you think that I’am ever going to get up? No. But if I fail and I try again? And again and again? For as long as I try there is always that chance of me getting up. And it’s not the end until you’ve given up. And just the fact that you’re here, should persuade you that you have another chance to get back up. There is still hope.

I am not here today to tell you that I understand your pain. … But I know how it feels to have a broken heart, and I know how it feels to be alone, and I want you to know that I have found my strength with Jesus Christ, and you are going to find that strength in whatever you find it in. But I just want you to know that it’s not the end. It matters how you are going finish. Are you going to finish strong? And you will find that strength to get back up. like this …

We tend to get inspired when you hear this kind of stories, and feels we can achieve anything we want. But everybody knows that is hard. We wake up earlier, make big decisions, acted more deterministically for the first few days. Then our schedule tend to fall back the way we comfortable in. And when we surrounded by negative feedback and energies, faced down the ground, it is really hard to raise your head.

Thats why I have to make this mark here as a constant reminder of hope we have as long as we keep getting up and trying hard.

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Unexpect The Expected

This post is about the new family member on the way.

She (we do not know the gender yet, but I like to use “she” here) is expected because we started to prepare about one and half years ago. (Yeah, I am Virgo and always plan.) I stopped drinking and signed up for gym membership. She is unexpected, as she is going to barely catch the end of Snake year.

There she is. The first time we met and was informed her arrival time. She is 50 days old. Our parents smiled, and started to spread the news. They planned their leaves and flight to visit us. My wife smiled, she can stop traveling and start to work from home with flexible working hours. I smiled, my hard work finally showing results and I can buy myself a bottle of bear again.

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….

My wife stopped smiling. She started to get all kinds of symptom for early stage pregnancy. The little lady obviously has strong opinion on healthy food and doesn’t like seafood. My mother in-law has been with us for two months to take care of the recipes. With her experience and caring, my wife managed to keep her health and mood positive.

I have to express my great appreciation to both of them. Their support and understanding has kept me focus on my 16-hour * 7-days a week startup. I can’t image what would otherwise be.

With that, good to meet her again on her 71 days. She has grown legs and hands. A very thin umbilical cord is connecting her to my wife.

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My wife started to feel better and better. Her belly started to showing the shape. She can eat more without worrying to vomit out soon after. She get the permission to had KFC and some spicy steamboat once each. Meanwhile, due to expiry of visa, my mother in-law is going to fly back soon.

During her visiting period, I have to say, life in Singapore has never been so enjoyable. You know what I meant when you are able to pursuing your dreams with all of your housework being taken care of. 

With that, we meet the lady again on her 89 days. Her legs and hands are clearly formed. She slept peacefully at first. Then either annoyed or excited by our visit, she started to jump back and forth. (Dammed, I was fully attracted by her movements and forgot to capture anything. It was such a precious moment for my wife and me.)

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She is still growing very fast. And I am here to wish her good night.

Side note: my wife was born head of a tiger year. Her birthday and her birthday is going to form something interesting in Chinese. Not fully positive, but who cares.

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Thats How I Started

I was born in late Aug. By astrology, I belong to Virgo. I have been never bothered by comments and advice on how the Virgo should behave, talk, or love. But one thing that matches well is that I am very organized. I am always plan ahead and execute accordingly. When I have big decisions to made, I always search for plenty of information and get as much advice as possible. Then I compare, or even calculate the risk I could bear and the benefit I could enjoy.

And yeah, I did try my best to prepare myself for this venture. I convinced my families, saved enough cash, invested additional money.  I found partners, wrote business plan, secured government and angle funding. I thought “Yeah, I am prepared. And I am ready to go”. Then I submitted my letter and handed over my tasks.

The next Monday, instead of suit and leather shoes, I put on my polo and sneakers. I realized my pants were a bit tight. Hmm… seems I gained a bit of fat. Instead of following the crowd into CBD, I dropped off near NUS campus and walked on a quite single lane. NUS Incubator has allocated a small room at the second floor of an unused bungalow as our office.

Before I open my Todo list for the day, I realized I needed to clean up some space for  my laptop first. As I browse through the list, I realized I needed a project management tools to coordinate the work between my partners and me. Then I realized we needed someone who can assist us in marketing, and we also need to have more developers to handle more and more plan. Then I realized …

Oh my… I can’t stop adding new items to my Todos. I was still overwhelmed by so much unprepared for running a business. We still have endless features to develop. We don’t know how to share tasks and knowledge between us effectively other than face-to-face. We don’t have any idea about accounting. We don’t have a proper Chinese name for our project yet. We don’t … My partners don’t even have an additional set of keys.

This post was planned two and half months ago as a mark of beginning for yet another off-the-track activity for me. The original idea was totally different. I imaged to write this post on that Saturday morning, next to the swimming pool I mostly visited. The result? We worked non-stop, 15~18 hours a day, 7 days a week for more than two months.

When I finally reached here, it is not about dreams and plans any more. It became the story. And this is just the START of our story.

Finally, I would say, the statement below on starting your own business is true.

However you think you had well prepared, it’s never good enough.

And I am glad that I have proved it.

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When You Have a Team

My first idea of team came from sports. A few classmates who good at basketball or football gathered in the field to play against another class of students. We practiced, contributed, and had fun together. We consider each other more as friends than teammates. The team is part of the fun moment as we grown up.

Then we form teams to in order to complete different project assignments in university. We discussed ideas and present demo together. But the teams was either formed by random assignment or to fulfill the minimum head count requirements. Most of the work was done by a few As student, while the rest only cared to put their names into the final report. The team is a form for As student to practice what they learned in lecture and Cs student to pass their final exam.

After that, we joined working groups in corporate. Teams were formed based on functions or managers. We share common tasks and a common goal to complete them. We distribute information in order to separate responsibility and increase accountability. Teams often seated together and gathered afterwork to celebrate some events. In many cases, we also form cross functional teams for bigger projects. Ideas need to be discussed, knowledge need to be shared, agreement and compromise need to be achieved, decisions need to be made together. These teams can often be quite productive as we keep our communication professional and recorded.

The only thing I often feel missing is trust between members in such teams. I will trust my teammates expertise and skills, but I seldom feel, or rather expect, my teammates will behave on behalf of my best interest. I maybe wrong, or too suspicious, or simply ignored the good will from my them. But the fact that everyone stressed what ever arrangements that have been discussed and agreed must be recorded in minutes and broadcasted simply kills any minimum expectation I would have. The team is email lists and meeting attendant lists.

While everybody agrees team is such an important form for us to achieve anything significant, I often confused by those replacement of teams I experienced. Until recently, when I manage to link this word with a comic book and an online novel, I realized I am part of a “team” now.

On the Christmas, while others are celebrating and enjoying their gatherings. I carried my bag into our shared office. The campus was quite. I worked effectively until noon. While I was quite satisfied with the progress, I start to feel a bit lonely. I realized I haven’t talked since last evening after I ordered my dinner. It wasn’t a big deal for me in normal days as I spent a few weekend the same way while my wife was on business trip. I prefer working on my own projects or taking a few online courses to going out and chit-chat with friends.

However, the subtle feeling started to grow and I became unrested in my seat. I could not wave-off the loneliness by taking a nap and watching a few videos. Worse even, I started to have early symptom of  fever in the afternoon. I left office before 5pm, had a quick dinner and fell asleep until the next morning. It was not a bad day in terms of the work I had done. But I realized I could not continue this way.

On the eve of New Year, I took a day off from work and went to the shared office same time in the morning. Different from a few days ago, people started to show up and occupy different corners of the room.  We worked quietly on our own tasks. A few whispering and most commonly key board typing and mouse clicking filled the room. I found myself in a totally different mood after the same effective morning compare to Christmas. I still didn’t talk to anyone the whole morning. But the continuous and rhythmic typing and clicking reminded me that we are working on our target. It reminds me that I am not alone while exploring the unknowns.

At this moment, I realized the difference in this team compare to the rest I have joined. We discuss, document, and share our ideas to make sure we all have a common understanding instead of preventing others default on what they agreed. We work on our own schedule, come into office at our most comfortable time and leave while we are not productive anymore. We don’t have to apply leave and get approval, or fake MC to take one day off. We know others will still find their most productive way to work even if they are not seated in the office. Rather than expecting recognition or reward from my teammates, I am more looking forward the value we can create. I have no questions on my teammates’ intention to make something great by relying on our different skills.

I feel lucky and a great sense of happiness when looking at the crowded space we shared.

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