North Korea, The Little Prince, raising children, soundtracks for your life

This morning, while watching a TED clip on a visit to North Korea, I happened to read the mostly derisory comments below, one of which referred to The Little Prince. While I had heard of that book before, it occurred to me that I had never read it. A quick search revealed that this book, translated into 180 languages and dialects and having sold 80 million copies really needed to be on my reading list…

But in the meantime, I wanted to share a few quotes that seemed poignant:

  • One cannot see well except with the heart, the essential is invisible to the eyes.
  • You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.
  • It is the time you have spent with your rose that makes your rose so important.

All this after awaking this morning with a dream of figuring out how I would educate a child… especially on this occasion reminding me that we teach most when we teach through stories.

For some time, I have noticed how the songs that dominate my playlist tend to be reflected in my life. When I was listening to Lips of an Angel, I found myself surrounded by romantic distractions; in the past I have listened to Lose Yourself or Life or Cats in the Cradle, each time with noticable shifts in my thinking. More recently, I have tended more towards Everything, Thank You, Hey Beautiful and Eyes Wide Open… with totally different results. My lesson comes down to a simple question:

What is the soundtrack for your life?

Choose your soundtrack carefully…

Communication is not that difficult… REALLY!!!

When I was in primary school I knew that I was going to enjoy public speaking. Debating was my first love though my attention shifted towards public speaking and training. Right now I’m involved with three Toastmasters Clubs here in Shanghai – to me, it still offers the best value speaking training in the world today. Yet I am still staggered at how people who call themselves leaders can possess such embarrassing communication skills. Continue reading “Communication is not that difficult… REALLY!!!” »

I love great service

Great service in China doesn’t come often, but when it does it really feels great. After a saga of mixups, I just received a box of goodies today – my new bluetooth stereo headset and a cable to connect my phone to my stereo speakers. I love them – and they sound great – but the biggest buzz that I got out of it was the great service that I received from Shirley Pun and Wendy Wu from Expansys.

While they’re part of one of the biggest electronics companies around, they took the time to make sure that everything went wonderfully smoothly for my precise requirements amid returns, order changes and changes in destination. It’s a great thing to run a company that is mostly online – and they’re great at delivering top quality for a great price – but this experience has brought home to me that those rare occasions that you can interface with your customers make a disproportionate impact on the customer experience.

It’s like family. Most of the time you don’t see each other. Maybe an email or a card from time to time… which makes those rare occasions that you do get together all the more memorable and important. And makes it even more important to make sure you get it right when you do get the chance to make contact.

Being a great customer

Sometimes you get great service. This morning I grabbed breakfast from my usual local cafe – the BaBaiBan Waga’s. It’s seven minutes walk (yes, I timed it) from my front door and on the route that I take for my usual morning walk. I always get great service there – I know greeted Lisa (the barrista) by name this morning and was pleasantly surprised that she even remembered mine! I guess I really am a regular…

My dear friend and great mentor, John, taught me by example how to get along with service staff. He showed me how to chit-chat, greet them as people (rather than ‘servants’ or machines as they often get treated), and how to show sincere appreciation for their work. It’s become very much part of how I live and think, though this morning this HBS article helped make my understanding that much more explicit.

If we want to get great service – like I do there and at my local restaurant in particular – we can try being demanding, respectful, reliable, surprising and engaging. Just five things that make all the difference…

Oh – and my cappucino was absolutely the best that I’ve tasted anywhere in the world – Lisa really worked a miracle with firm froth and a rich yet smooth flavour 🙂

It’s a damn small world

I was in an outlying suburb of Shanghai on Friday afternoon, and of all the people that would walk up to me was my best friend’s brother-in-law! We met once – at his sister’s wedding – back in May, and we headed out last night 🙂

In London two years ago, I walked into Sarah, one of my dearest friends from law school, as we walked down the street in opposite directions – but a lot more of my friends or associates have ended up in London than here in Shanghai.

There are two things that this really made clear to me:

  1. The world is really really really really small, and
  2. Shanghai is an increasingly cool place to be.