⚡ Check out my 📓 2018 Reading Notes, filled with the best content I read online everyday.
Recently, I asked some friends how they manage their cool in heated situations. Situations with loved ones – a parent, a sibling, a significant other, or a spouse. How did that go? What did they do to stay calm?
Everyone separated a heated situation at work from their personal life. As one friend mentioned, "At work you are less attached to your colleagues. You work together but you head home to separate lives. You know that the argument will get solved eventually and it stays at work.” So managing heated conversations at work is quite different from the ones at home.
Upon zooming in to the heated moment, we learned about their behaviors:
It is usually 10AM when I reach the office on the 22nd floor. I put my bag down, get out my breakfast, plug in my laptop and get some coffee. Sometimes when I return to begin my day, I hear a few thuds and thumps against the glass walls of our high-rise building.
The window men arrive.
You know how sometimes it's all too easy to web conference into an early morning meeting and be half-listening? It's early, the coffee is still brewing in the house, and the meeting has begun.It's the agenda being called out; it can get easy to zone out. While it might happen for a few minutes, most of the time it's easy to get back into the conversation. Least of all, it's not very dangerous to lose track. This is a meeting notice in the life of an engineer, or business person, or secretary.
I'm not sure when my life went from pick-up volleyball and coffee shops to consultations over my visa, career, and health. In the last 12 months, my life and the things around it have forced me to change a lot. I went from skating by to fighting fires.
Recently, I learned something about myself that caused me some distress. Distress turned into panic, then worry, then fear. It continues to evolve; some days, I feel determined and I turn that fear into confidence. On other days, I look around trying to find control.
The mind is a powerful place. It's hard to understand that when life is smooth. Bills are being paid, work is calm, and friends are coming over. Everything feels great. You get to focus on other things: do some writing, have a coffee, and read a book.
There is an uproar over Uber in Delhi. One of their drivers is alleged to have raped a young woman who took his cab to go home late at night. Uber claimed that every driver passed a government background check before being hired. They had not forseen this problem in their India operations. The Indian government used this incident to blame a foreign company for piling another issue into the bucket of social woes. Sadly, I think both parties are at fault. Our country, our companies, and our systems need to make fundamental process changes if they want citizens to feel safe.
This weekend I was in Detroit and it reminded me why this is the startup scene of the Midwest. As I live in a suburb and commute to another for work, it's easy to forget the rebounding city on the side. This weekend I was visiting for my favorite coffee place, an urban crafts fair, and a walk.
I've spent a little over the past year in a new place, on my first job, and with new friends. The people I've met in Michigan have taught me lessons that I never imagined to learn in a year. They have supported me, lifted me up, and offered their kindness. In turn, they gave me the opportunity to listen when they had to vent, encourage when they weren't sure, and speak when they needed for advice. Together we are learning to find comfort in discomfort.
I've been mentally collecting samples of I've learned by allowing my friends to help me in my journey and becoming a part of theirs. Here are some things I've come to terms with in my daily life.
There are days when you watch a movie. And there are days when you watch a movie. Yesterday I finally got to watch The Theory of Everything, a biopic on the life of Dr. Stephen Hawking. I think my eyes started tearing up 10 minutes into the film and didn't stop till the credits.
For a man who very early on confirmed with his doctor that his brain would not be affected by ALS, he marched on to prove just that. I thought that was so wonderful about this story. The actors and storyline don't pity the scientist for his disorder. Instead they emphasize that it is an active part of his life but there is a bigger purpose to his life, tougher things to address.
When you offer to - or are tasked to - help someone with a predicament, it doesn't always come back to you right away. But I find it beautiful that somehow one day you will need help, and someone - whether it's them or not - will be there to reciprocate it. What goes around does come around.
I recently started several small projects to see what I learn about myself.
I'm on an Amtrak train heading back from Chicago - sleepy, tired, but fulfilled. This (short) weekend trip was to see several of my high school friends. And as one of them pointed out, it was our 5-year reunion since graduation. That comment made the trip more significant and I think contributed to how long we all hung out together on Saturday. (Normally in these get-togethers, people have other chores to run, friends to see, some shopping to do.)
This has been bothering me for quite some time now and it's about time that I address it. It being the act of collecting objects - clothes, shoes, furniture, empty Starbucks cups, some more clothes. As a writer put it, "the things we fear [that] we have the least of, tend to surround us the most." Enough never feels like enough. We seek more of the same thing and it builds up - but doesn't add up - to any emotion.
Recently I read an article about the thoughts of Nest CEO, Tony Fadell. When asked whether he thought that the 'home of the future' would resemble the Jetsons TV show (glowing buttons in the wall, intelligence that can open the garage or start the coffee maker), he called it "bonkers". And he very neatly described why.
Smart watches are the new trend today. About two years ago it began with wearable activity trackers, but once Motorola, Samsung, and Apple came into the picture, the watch took the attention off of FitBit and Jawbone.
This weekend I moved-on from my 2-bedroom apartment I shared with my roommate, RR (initials). We lived in Troy, Michigan - a town about 20 minutes north of Detroit. It commonly houses young families (early to mid-30s) and is an apartment-complex and independent housing style area. There are strip malls, large department stores,...you get the idea.
I am currently reading The Truth About Everything by Brianna Wiest, a ThoughtCatalog writer. Her ambitiously-titled book is a collection of her best essays at ThoughtCatalog. I enjoy the articles, as they speak about living for the self, investing in who you are, being the creator of your experiences, and accepting challenges as turning points and lessons. One of her articles is titled 7 Questions That Tell You Who You Are. She answers the 7 questions and encourages readers to answer them as well.
I've been using Balsamiq Mockups pretty diligently for the past few months now. I use them for prototyping personal ideas and work ideas. Balsamiq is great for several reasons. Below is a screenshot of a Balsamiq mockup I made when I first started learning the tool. It's a website mockup for a restaurant. The left panel contains the controls and the right panel contains your mockup. Components are drag-and-drop, place them on your mockup, and edit the content. Each component can be used as a link to another mockup.
Last week I unfortunately ran into a slight hiccup in my physical health. I was playing the usual Tuesday evening drop-in volleyball. I guess I didn't stretch enough or decided to do a different run-up. But as I was making my first spike of our first game, I remember: being in the air, I had jumped quite high, hitting the ball with my palm, and as I was on my way down, I suddenly felt like someone behind me kicked me really hard in the back of the knee. Falling further, I wondered, "Why would anyone do that?" As I hit the floor, I realized my knee had acted on its own will and I couldn't move. The others eventually carried me to the side, and after some ice and sitting through pain, I was able to limp into my car and back home.
It seems that I have scribbles, sticky notes with comments, and several notebooks where I write down some of the best quotes I read online. I thought it was time to start consolidating those sentences into a single place. The following are well-written sentences that beautifully express complicated realizations of the mind. I am in complete admiration of these writers and how they can describe ambiguous thoughts in concrete words.
In the past few months, I've been learning a lot about the experiences of people around me. One friend made great progress in her career, another friend had his heart broken, and a third lost a loved one. A fourth found a stable job and supportive significant other, a fifth realized that when you get a second chance you must work so hard as to not give it up again.
A few months ago, I took my MINI Cooper to the dealership to get the 50k miles servicing done. They did a bunch of things (some of which I don't know their importance), and charged me a good $700. That was alright. It had to be done - the drive belt replacement will save me a headaches if anything terrible happened in the future. Somewhat of an insurance measure.
These were the parameters that defined my roadtrip across the country this week. I travelled from San Francisco, CA to Detroit MI. The trip took a total of 40 driving hours; from Wednesday to Saturday, my friend and I drove 10 hours per day.
Recently, I've been struggling with the question of "How do you tell a good story?" I have friends that are able to keep my interest for many minutes as they tell a captivating story about...their coffee this morning. How does a person keep their audience engaged about the most mundane activities? When I go on a trip and I return with stories I want to tell, people start by listening and half way through, they zone out. It seems like a story about morning coffee is more interesting than the visit to Traverse City.
It was my supervisor's birthday today and he was kind to bring us donuts to work as a celebration. After I scarfed down the donut (which was my breakfast), I went into our 1:1 meeting for the week. My first question to him was whether he uses this day to reflect on his year past or his year ahead. He told me it was a great question, and proceeded to tell me a story about how his professor in an MBA class asked everyone to do a simple assignment last year. "Write about what you envision the day-in-your-life to be, exactly one year from today." And he told me that when he looks back on that assignment now, about 90% of that essay came true for him. And it is pretty wild to him. But it laid out his goals and he really worked to make them come true.
The other day I was talking to a friend about how I have friends in my life who aren't engineers. He laughed and said, "I use the opportunity to make fun of them." This didn't go well with me, because I learn a lot from people who aren't in my profession. They work in HR, finance, restaurants, and nursing. Their day-to-day job functions are so different from mine and it never ceases to remind me that there's more out there; I can choose to do anything with my life. Here are 9 things I've learned from people who aren't in the engineering field.
Today I was having a conversation with my mom about a cold that I caught last week. I'm still coughing and my nose is blocked, so she offered some traditional Indian practices that could help. One was to boil some water, add a pinch of tumeric, and breathe in the steam - sort of like a stove-top humidifier. With some research, I found that "turmeric has shown anti-inflammatory and decongestant, or stimulant, properties in clinical studies" (drugs.com). My mom mentioned that it was a normal thing to use in Indian households. It got me thinking about how some of these practices are unheard of in Western medicine and others have been excessively commercialized.
Nike's most recent advertisement named 'Winner Stays' emphasizes the company's policy that every person is an athlete (whether they know it or not). Athletes dream big - so big that in this video, these everyday kids are placed on the soccer pitch with Rooney, Ibrahimovic, Cristiano Ronaldo, and 10 others in a 4 min timespan. The plot flows naturally - it reminds me of conversations I had everyday playing soccer at my apartments growing up. Each of us would pretend we were Mia Hamm or Zinedine Zidane during the match. There was the trash talking, the analysis of every player's moves, the imitation of our player's celebration after scoring a goal. Nike captured most of it and it shows that they observe and respect their users. It makes me nostalgic of my days as a young athlete.
I've been struggling to keep focus on my assignments and my daily life for the past few months. At work - other things take over, or I check Facebook, and I'm unable to cross things off my To-Do list because they never get done. So I started getting to work earlier, tried to get coffee (because having a drink next to me helps), and I tried using the Pomodoro 25-min technique on my iPhone. Not much improvement. A lot more sleep loss.
Recently, Twitter announced a redesign of their landing page. Check out the First Lady's Twitter. Now compare it to a Facebook profile page. They look eerily familiar.
I recently came across a product called Mod Notebooks. The company's claim-to-fame is that they will put your written journaled work on your personal cloud for you.
You get one of their notebooks (or you use your own and pay more for sending it to them), fill out the notebook, and mail it to the company. They scan your work onto Dropbox or Evernote or a cloud storage program of your choice. Then if you allow them to recycle the notebook, you get a discount on your purchase. Else, it is sent back in physical format.
Along with a few of my friends at Ford, I helped create a stop-motion animation video for a National Academy of Engineering contest. We were strapped for time (we only heard about it 2 weeks before the deadline).