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Image 26/33 for "Danny Choo"

Fri 2009/09/18 16:04 JST 16551325 Views

Learnings

I still got a lot to learn but try to share what I have already experienced in the hope that folks will benefit when seeking their own answers in life.

Falling Hard

Smart Doll is my biggest life project so far and after 40 years on this planet I can tell you that the bigger your goals are, the bigger the hurdles are going to be and the harder you will fall.

Having not made anything like this before, there was a steep learning curve which in many cases involved trying things that often involved me tripping on one of those hurdles and falling flat on my face. Some would call this "failure" but I call this "learning" - nothing will always lead to nothing while something will always lead to something even though that something may seem like a failure.
Without failure, there is no learning and without learning, there would be no progress meaning that goals would not be reached. Don't be afraid of failure - be afraid of never reaching your goals.

Never give in

Another hurdle that I experienced is the constant disappointments of poor quality or just plain not-to-spec samples or product parts that come back from vendors. This can be very very depressing at times!
While I work with talented vendors, some of them have difficulty in working with the quality standards that I expect.

One has to grow very thick skin (thick enough to make siew yoke) by believing in what you are doing and not giving in when folks around you try to convince you otherwise - your goal is to make a quality product that encapsulates your vision - your goal here is not to make friends.

Telling talented vendors that their work is unacceptable is not an easy task and you will be hated "for being picky" but remember that once you give in, your product and vision dies there and then. Everybody else wins - you lose.

Then there are times when folks who are close to you will tell you otherwise - that "its good as it is" - that you are being too picky about nothing. If you give in and listen to them and find out that they are wrong afterwards you will end up blaming them.
The person you should blame in this case is yourself because it was you who listened to them in the first place.

Worrying

Many of us worry as it makes us feel like we are doing something about a problem when in fact we are wasting time being anxious about nothing. Making a judgement call on an aspect of design (could be the frame, outer shell etc) that has an unknown outcome is a decision that affects time and money and we humans naturally don't want to waste either of these precious resources and worry whether we are making the correct decision or not.
But if you start to think about any decision you make as being essential to progress, then its easier to make quicker decisions even though the outcome turns out not as expected.
The reason is that now you have that unexpected outcome, you have something to work on to make a judgement call so that you can at least progress towards your goal instead of standing still.

If you find yourself worrying about a decision to make then just make any decision as it will at least set you off towards your goal instead of leaving yourself standing still worrying about nothing.

Another thing about worrying is that 95% of the things we worry about don't happen anyway which goes to show how we waste time worrying over nothing.
To prove this - think about 10 things which you remember worrying about in the past - you will find that most of it didn't happen and that you was worrying to see if you could come up with a scenario to remedy the outcome of a worry.
But there are things which you have absolutely no control over (weather, London busses etc) in which case just go with the flow! If you already new the flow from the beginning the life would be boring without any surprise or learning.

There is only one form of worry that is productive - the worry which leads to an action that fixes or improve something. "I'm worried and concerned about the boxes we are using for the shipping of Smart Doll - so lets change the boxes to a double corrugated type."

A better way

Whatever you do - you must always question the workflows you put in place - you must always tell yourself "there just *has* to be a better way to do this."
Without this mentality, you will end up working with old clumsy workflows that will eventually start to tie you down and prevent you from reaching your goals.

Don't leave stuff as it is just because everything just works - always strive to make it better.

Timing

Many of us wait for "the right timing" because we think it will be "easier" - disappointed you may be when I tell you there is no right timing. There is no right timing especially when it comes to things like moving house, changing a job, having a baby, getting married or starting your life project.

If you have something you really want to do in life then that time is now - not next week, not next month and definitely not in the new year when you make that "new years resolution." A new years resolution is an excuse to put something off for another year - if you convinced yourself to wait until the new year to make that resolution then your goal is either not important or you will convince yourself to put it off again.

A life goal has to mean everything to you otherwise it means nothing to you and you will never ever reach it.

Revenge

The bigger your life project becomes, the more likely you are to come across people who get involved in your project and eventually stab your back.

Through the Smart Doll project I've had a few jabs to my back but the important thing was to move forward instead of spending time and resources to take a jab back - while very tempting, if you devote time to stabbing somebody back, it means that taking revenge has become more important and you will loose focus on your goal. It also means that the person who stabbed you has won because they got to stab you and also got you to give up on your goal.

Instead, use your anger and channel that into wanting to do everything to complete your goal sooner because the likelihood is that the person who you once worked with who stabbed your back will be watching your progress all the way and when you reach your goal then you have delivered the fatal blow - the humiliation of your backstabber watching you succeed.

This also applies to trolls on and offline. These days, I get trolled for anything and everything - does not really matter until the trolls start to tell malicious lies to gather recognition from their peers.

One of the reasons why trolls do what they do is because they do not have the ability to accomplish much in real life but gaining your attention gives them a sense of achievement.

Never ever react against a troll - instead of using your anger to counterattack with small clumsy uncalculated blows that will leave you feeling embarrassed afterwards, use your energy to aggressively continue to achieve your goals and live well.

I want my trolls to know that whenever I achieve my goals - this is what my face looks like when thinking of you. Please keep up the trolling - it really does me wonders.

Whining

Folks spend time whining about this and that and is something I used to do too - a complete waste of time that takes time and energy away from your project. Absolutely nothing that you whine about is worth even thinking about when compared to the problems that some folks face in the third world.

Sacrifice

Goals involve sacrifices. The bigger your goal, the bigger the sacrifice you are going to have to make. Its one or the other - not both.
There is a myth that working for yourself means that you have the freedom to work on what you want whenever you want and that you will have more time to do your own stuff - how wrong the myth could be.

Once you start to work for yourself you don't have a steady paycheck anymore meaning you need to constantly think about income and then doing the work that involves bringing that income. This means you have less time for yourself and find yourself choosing between:-

#Running and growing the business
#Spending time with family
#Spending time on health

If you are not willing or finding it difficult to sacrifice something in order to reach your goal then you are going to take a long time or never reach your destination.

Importance of language

Without my knowledge of the Japanese language, there is no way I would have been able to be at this stage with Mirai. I could have used an interpreter but lots of things usually get lost in translation and also I would have wasted a lot of time too.
At the moment I use all my spoken languages on the development of Smart Doll - Japanese, Korean, Cantonese and Mandarin (and a wee bit O English).

I know many foreigners in Japan who are not bothered with learning the lingo and some excuses I have heard is "my wife speaks Japanese so I don't have to" but notice that many of these folks can only go so far with the development of their business or career.

If you are seriously interested in developing a career in Japan then I urge you to make it a necessity to learn Japanese - if you are not sure where to start then here is a good starting point.

Google sensei is your friend

I just can't stress the importance of taking time out to learn and build your inventory of skills. Back when I was growing up in the UK, there were no Internets - if I wanted to learn something I needed to go to a library, rent a VHS tape, ask somebody or hope it just turns up on TV. Now that we have Google Sensei there is absolutely no excuse not to learn.

Google sensei taught me how to program PHP, MYSQL, CSS and use graphics packages like 3D Max, Photoshop, Fireworks and more. Google Sensei also taught me how to make soft vinyl parts and everything else that I needed to know for Smart Doll production.

Another reason why I was able to build up the business with limited resources is because I was able to do much of the stuff myself. My programming and graphics package knowledge enabled me to make websites and do consulting for companies like Disney, Columbia, King Records, Good Smile Company, Bushiroad, kadokawa and more.

The comfort zone

The definition of "hard work" varies from person to person but my definition would be something like:-

Something that requires a level of effort that exceeds what the human body is designed for. Humans by nature are designed to save energy and by default do not carry out tasks that are difficult and requires effort and energy.

Energy can be physical or mental. Mental hard work is things like dealing with difficult people or trolls, working under pressure of dealing with bosses or deadlines, working with ambiguity and making decisions that put the security of our basic human needs at risk - food and shelter. All of these things listed is not normally something one would want to do due to the effort involved.

Then there is physical energy which are things like working long hours (with illness) without rest, sleep or food or doing something which puts a strain on the body - could be something like strenuous physical tasks, doing monotonous work or constantly traveling through time zones.

However, humans avoid hard work not through a conscious decision but because they are biologically programmed to be efficient - in the eyes of these humans, hard work uses way too much energy and is thus not efficient. A humans efficiency is enhanced by us unconsciously working ourselves into a comfort zone. Our comfort zone could be a comfortable job that we may not necessarily like but it enables us to pay for our basic human needs and keeps our bodies efficient by not having the need to do anything that puts a strain on our body.

There is however a silver lining - once we start to doubt our programming then we can make a decision to change and believe that hard work pays off - the first thing to do is take the leap out of that comfort zone.

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