A friend asked me for my podcast recently and I realized after looking at the date of the podcast that I haven’t done one for over a year. I also haven’t blogged since April. Its tough because I’ve had other priorities and that thing called life got in the way. I was inspired by my friend’s Ned Dwyer’s quick and short update on “Now” so I’m going to do something similar. Typically I would do this update at the end of the year, but why not kind of over half-way through the year? So here it goes….
This year has been a blur yet also long at the same time. I moved to Mountain View at the start of the year in January. I’d been working in Silicon Valley in Mountain View for about 9 months prior to that. My company’s move to a new campus in Mountain View was a forcing function for me to move. I now SAVE commute time of 1.5 hours each way door to door. That’s 3 hours per day which I get back. Now I commute to work in 4 mins drive or walk in 18 mins. I get more of my time back which I spend at the gym, cooking or catching up with friends. Ironically, I get more of a social life and I’m perfectly happy living in the ‘burbs which is where I lived in Sydney.
For me its fascinating living in the heart of the Valley. I’m soaking it all in. From seeing the self driving Waymo cars go past everyday. The constant stream of bikes with mothers and kids riding to school. The lemon trees on the street, from a distant past of once being a orchard. To the view of the mountains in the background when you drive to San Jose on 237 – wow its a magical and amazing view. To wolfing down a In-N-Out burger at lunch because we can 🙂
I’ve also been going to a church in Mountain View called CurrentSV for about 8 months. I’ve become part of the community there and I volunteer for the music production team. Once a month, I help setup the sound system. Its a startup church, not only because its surrounded by the tech community but because it started up recently. Its about 2 years old and its inside a Seniors centre.
Whilst tech was the reason that I came to the Valley, maybe I was called to come here for another reason. I’ve had my faith in God renewed by joining CurrentSV. I had been going in and out of bible study the past few years. But I found that I was regularly attending Catalyst (Bible Study) every week and looking forward to it. I’ve been welcomed to the community at CurrentSV and I’ve found a lot of people also in the pursuit of God. Admist all the craziness of tech in the Valley, there is something more here.
I’ve been dating someone but she wishes to be anonymous so I’ll respect her privacy. Spending time with someone also requires me to be present and not about what I want to do, so that’s something I’m working on 🙂
I have done some travelling this year. I’ve been to Australia in April for work, Portugal in June (ah-mazing!) and to Chicago for a wedding. I finally got to go to Chicago. All I can say is I love Chicago. It was everything I had hoped it would be having been a life long Chicago Bulls fan. Its been a long time since we’ve won in the 90’s. Except for the heat wave in Chicago where the temperate was 100F (38c) at midnight. Other than that, I really liked Chicago.
I stopped counting how long I’ve been in the U.S but its probably about 1.5 years.
Work has been great. I’ve been holding down my team as the most senior product manager for the past 10 months. Its a role I stepped into after my manager left. I adopted a lot more leadership, planning, mentoring responsibilities. But it wasn’t something that I realized that I should pursue. I remember talking to my manager about improving my leadership & communication skills which is a key aspect for product managers.
I said that I wanted to talk to people that were product leaders in our company, read some books on it, do a course or something like that. I also mentioned that I’ve had a revolving door of managers over the past few years which hasn’t helped. But his response was you’re responsible for your growth. I should be the engine pushing & driving for things. If I wanted to get better at something, I had to actually do the activities to get better. I needed to actually do the thing to get better. Not read about it, talk about it, go to a conference about it. But actually do the thing. A lot of things have come a lot earlier in my career because there was an opportunity vacant and I accepted the challenge and had to step up. Fast forward to today, we had two new product managers starting in my team in the past few weeks including my new manager. Woohoo!! Reinforcements 🙂
I’ve also shipped some major stuff for work over the past few months and taking on some new challenges. I’ve started a course on EdX called “Business Communication” because its an area I want to improve. I’m also considering doing an evening course at Mountain View Adult School for “Introduction to Python Programming”. I’ve actually done some of these courses online in the past. I’ve been keen to get more into data science and yes they use python!
Lastly, we had our hackathon recently and I worked on building a mechanical keyboard from scratch. It integrates with our products and its baked into the firmware. It was pretty cool getting involved with a team with a soldering iron putting together parts. We also programmed the keyboard in C (the engineers wrangled with it) and working out the integration requirements. Finally, making into the finals and doing the dramatic demo and pitching it to our CTO and exec team! This is our team and the keyboard we made.
The Sydney Startups community has been going strong. We’re now almost at 14,000 members. I thought we’d be on track to double from 10k to 20k this year. But its still impressive that there’s 14k people in Australia interested in startups. The community continues to grow and is super active. I’m still actively involved even though I’m based in Silicon Valley. It actually works out pretty well as I can moderate later into the evening when the others are asleep in Australia. We launched a new website (boom!) and had a number of partnerships including the launch of Startup Grind Conference in Australia.
Startups are still dear to my heart having been a startup founder. A few weeks ago I caught up with the founders of Timeweave who are from Sydney and visiting the U.S for the next few months. Its an app to help college students meetup. Another startup founder reached out to me as she joined an accelerator in the U.S. I feel that activity is heating up between U.S and Australia and there continues to be a flow between both borders. I hope that I can help bridge that gap for startups wanting to know more about the Valley. I’ve also been giving some ad-hoc advice for some Australian startups looking to level up their product management from hiring PM’s to improving their product craft.
My health is important to me and I’ve previously blogged about my heart condition hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. I’ve been going to the gym reguarly, but probably not as reguarly since the start of the year. This week I’ve been 2 times and if I plan to go today, that will be 3 times. That’s about my usual habit now. I typically get there at 730am, work out for a hour and then go to work. I live pretty close to the gym so I’m able to get a session in the morning.
There’s also a basketball court there so I usually put up about 20 3point shot attempts. I can now hit about 50% of them on a regular basis. Its pretty amazing considering that I never took them prior to moving to the U.S. I changed my technique completely after seeing my friend Francis McCarthy shoot. I didn’t have the strength to shoot it like a normal jumpshot so its more of a fling but it goes in! I can sometimes shoot up to 70%.
One thing I need to work on is my eating habits. In the mornings, I usually eat oats or cereal with some fruit. At lunch times, I usually eat a vegetarian meal or I make my own food. However, I’ve been eating out a lot in evenings and weekends. When there’s free food at work or I’m at an event, I tend to eat too much. Case in point, I ate 3 plates of sushi at my work event which is probably about 24 pieces of small sushi. Or when I went to a friend’s bbq and had 8 sausages (medium sized), 3 chicken drumsticks, 3 salmon pieces (small), 4 scoops of salad and 2 slices of cake. In the U.S meals are a lot bigger, so you also need to exercise portion control. You don’t have to eat all the food on the plate or that you can see! I also had this bad habit of eating crisps (potato chips) after lunch everyday because they were free at work. I’ve stopped doing that. I also was drinking a lot of coconut water or sweet drinks at work (its also free!). I’ve switched to water.
In the past few weeks I’ve been listening to finance podcasts as I want to become more financially savvy. I want to get my personal finances in order. What drew me in was this podcast on “Investing in Artificial Intelligence” with Ash Fontana. I got into it because I knew Ash who’s an Australian venture capitalist and I’m interested in AI. Whilst that podcast was super interesting, I figured it would be a good way to learn about finance. So I decided to stick with that podcast series and have gone down this rabbit hole. The podcast is called “Invest Like The Best“. Recently, I’ve listened to pods about ETF’s, investing in innovation, value investing and more!
On the lighter side, I’ve been really getting into basketball podcasts. Over the course of the finals, I found “The Ringer – NBA Show” was awesome. They were doing multiple podcasts per week over the playoffs and then after every finals game for post-analysis. Of course, I got into The Bill Simmons podcasts. I love how its a cross section of sports and life. I’ve also been flirting with “How I Built This” by NPR’s Guy Raz. I love the interviews they do with people. For a minute I was also into Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History.
Also if you have any podcast recs, I’d love to know them! I have regular driving I do here on the highways and would like to utilize that time to listen to interesting stuff.
When I get some more life stuff sorted out, I want to get back into producing my own podcast, This Mobile Life. I feel like I’m in a unique position in being based in Silicon Valley and I want to capture more of the stories here. Stay tuned!
I also want to get back into writing. Lets aim for 1 blog post per month 🙂
In the past few weeks and including today, I’ve been obsessed with the In My Feelings song by Drake. Pause. I gotta put it on now on Spotify. I found a video on Facebook of a guy dancing to a song. He stepped out a car whilst it was moving, was dancing next to the car and then got pole axed after he didn’t see a street pole in his way. My friend Glen then told me it was the Shiggy dance.
So I looked it up on Youtube and discovered that a lot of people were uploading videos of the dance. After some discovery, the dance had gone viral. It started with a comedian called Shiggy posting a dance who was popular on social media next to a street with cars going past. Then it blew up and people starting posting their own videos.
For some reason they started dancing after stepping out of a moving car, partly inspired by the original video. The top video I’ve seen is the one by Will Smith with 17 million views. I’ve seen ones by ordinary people that have 10 million views, and another one with 5 million views.
Drake himself proclaimed that the original social media video propelled the song to #1 on the U.S billboard charts. Super fascinating! Oh and I’m now going to see Drake at Oracle Arena in October 🙂
On another note, I watched Crazy Rich Asians last weekend. It was an awesome movie. Very inspiring to see an all-Asian cast in a Hollywood movie. The last one was Joy Luck Club which was 25 years ago. As an Asian, its great to see someone like me in the movie. I could relate to Rachel’s story (played by Constance Wu) as I’m an immigrant in America from a working class family. Its the Asian Black panther! Its sold $35million in one weekend. We’re showing Hollywood that we want to see movies with diversity and we want different kinds of stories, not only with caucasian actors.
There’s a great article here about the mahjong scene which I totally got because I love playing mahjong! I use to play with my grandma. I knew exactly what was happening.
That’s all from me. Until next time. 🙂
I’m out like playing mahjong,