It’s Still Raining And Déjà Vu

Monday, Holiday. The country mourns the death of King Rama IV by taking a day off to celebrate and commemorate. Since haven’t had the pleasure, I went running this morning. I will just a provide a short summary. What was supposed to be an eight kilometer tempo-run started out very well, ended closer to a death slog. I got suckered into a little of a race in Lumpini Park. The reptilian brain took over and I engaged. A little back of back and forth with me leaving the other dude behind my confidence was high. But what soars high must come down hard. I had not taken into account, that the faster pace cost me more body fluids. So, I had to take it very, very easy and very humbly completed the way home in the sun, heat and humidity. Quick shower, breakfast and lounging. In the afternoon we went out.

Then it started raining. Big,manly drops. If it weren’t Thailand, I would say “Texas-Sized-Rain-Drops”. About five of these raindrops can soak a grown man and drown a child – that kind of rain. Well just see for yourself.

What else happened? I found two super cool guitar stores. One exclusively for electric guitars – just electric guitars and amps, nothing else, no gimmicks. The other store carries only acoustic guitars. Sam e concept no gimmicks – I love it. As we were walking around town, we ran past an advertisement. I know that my friend Joe is a great photographer, who has taught me everything I know about photography. But I also know that he love being behind the camera more, than being in front of it – although, when one doesn’t know that one could never tell, because he makes one fine model. Anyway, we walked past this billboard ad for French Connection United Kingdom (or short FCUK). Those of you who know Joe, judge for yourself. Joe tell me straight-faced, you do not see the resemblance.

I would like to point out, that the advertisement is as advertisements always are misleading.

It claims that this dude is the man – WRONG!

Joe is the man! End of discussion!

Not Joe, not the man!

Alright gang, we have had a great weekend. Take her easy, I know I will.

Markus \m/

More Life And Weird Experiences

“Beginning, Middle Part, End, Facts” this is a line that John Turturro just uttered in the Transformers movie we are just watching – well, I al glancing at it occasionally, because I am mainly focused on writing this blog entry.

We have had a pretty wild ride weekend. At work we have had a bit of a crisis, so I have been on the phone and writing emails – Crisis Management…while keeping the Why, How and What approach alive. Thus far I have been good about it. Usually, when we are under pressure, it is always easy for the reptilian brain to take over and shout a whole bunch of Whats all around us – not what I want to do because it’s not what I want to have done to me, either.

But we have a weekend here and we have a holiday on Monday. So let’s talk about the stuff we have done and the things we want to do this weekend.

Yesterday, we went to Pattaya to meet with a friend of ours. He has a diving boat and we just hopped on to go snorkeling. Well, as fate would have it, besides us  there was one other person on the boat – a diver. We drove out to a ship wreck where the diver did his dive in rather murky waters. I swam to the buoy, took one deep breath and followed the line towards the wreck. At about 5m depth I realized, that this wouldn’t be worth the effort for me. The wreck is in 18m depth (really deep when you have to move down and up on one lung-full of air), but the visibility was maybe five feet, so I wouldn’t see anything anyway. Hence, I went back up and conserved my energies for the next spot near a coral reef.

The reef was absolutely splendid – crystal clear emerald water at eighty-seven Fahrenheit. Corals on the bottom at about fifteen feet and an abundance of fish, sea urchins, shells – it was great. Barbara and I went out snorkeling numerous times. I just love water anyway and I must have spent hours underwater chasing fish. The routine for me is always the same. Inhale on the surface and then move down – maximize downtime, breathing is overrated, but you have got to come up sometime…make that sometime a long time.

We came home in the evening, had a quick dinner and then crashed with a wide smile on our faces. When ever we are on a boat for a longer time, when we lie in bed in the evening you can still feel the waves oscillate – I love that.

Today we walked about our neighborhood and saw a horrible accident. Three mannequins jumped of the Asok BTS station to their death. Apparently they couldn’t take it anymore. Standing there is motionless, without arms and legs and more importantly without private parts.

From the photo I shot, you can clearly see, that the impact was so hard and devastating, that one model lost her back completely. The sad thing above and beyond is, that the three were so deeply committed to ending their plastic lives, that they even brought a cable for hanging (which would have been funny, because how can you hang yourself when you don’t have a head….Ah Mannequins.) and a stake as a last resort to impale (although, I have to ask again,”How do you impale without hands?”)

Well when the police yelled in Thai what I understood to mean “Please disperse, there is nothing to see.”, we left and kept exploring our surroundings. Next stop was a side street off Sukhumvit Road, where we saw a very colorful Buddhist shrine around a tree. The scarves wrapped around the tree are meant to keep the spirits in the tree.

 

Watching the horrific triple suicide and the tree made us thirsty, so we turned right at the next cafe opportunity we had and ordered a Latte for the wife (that is Barbara to everyone else, am I making myself clear, good.) and a fine cold cocoa for the boy.

The tables had old Chinese printing plate in the table plate for decoration from a time when China was more known for its quality products, than that is the case presently. I am equally fascinated by the beauty and simplicity of the plates as by the fact, that I have zero idea – not even a remote hunch – what the plates say.

Interestingly, I think it becomes obvious that the plate is really an eight hundred year old sixth grader essay on what she did over the Summer, when you look at the image in black and white.

Alright, gang stay sharp…oh yes, be good, communicate clearly and annunciate.

best regards from H&H Bangkok (My assignment to you until the next entry: What doe H&H stand for.)

Markus \m/

 

Why + How + What = Action + Desired Results + Satisfaction

While: What + 0.5*How +0.05*Why = Frustration + 0.3*Action + 0.01*Meaning

I am referring to a TED talk by Simon Sinek about how some people and groups of people can achieve amazing things, while others perform poorly. He used three examples: The Wright Brothers, Apple and the Civil Rights Movement led by Martin Luther King.

Simon Sinek’s contention was, that all three examples used the opposite of approach of how we act in reality. The prevailing approach is that a manager wants to see results, so he states what he wants to have done. Possibly he spends a few minutes how he wants to have it done, but little time is spent on why he ants to have it done in the first place.

What Apple, the Wright Brothers and Dr. King had in common is that they share their motivation first. Why did the Wright Brothers believe in manned flight; Why does Apple offer devices that make your life easier instead of selling just another computer or music player, etc.; Why did Dr. King believe in the equality of man and his cause of equal rights.

The three examples tie their followers to their cause, to their belief – they share a motivation. This talk really resonated with me, because this is what I want, too. How many of you have done work (regardless of in your job, for friends or elsewhere) that you had absolutely no to at least very little identification with. How would you feel about the same work if you saw meaning in it; if someone told you why you should do the work, rather than telling you what work you should do?

Think about it – I did, I still do. I have  listened to this talk in mid April and it still is one of my favorite talks.

Bere in Thailand, I am in a leadership position. Due to the culture in Thailand, it would be very easy for me to lead by the “What + 0.5*How +0.05%Why” formula, but I promised myself sometime in May, that regardless what my future would look like, I would not manage that way, but that I would make a serious effort to lead by “Why + How + What”.

In the next few paragraph I will share my motivation, observations and experiences.

Why Do I Do This? I believe that people in general want to help, want to contribute, want to do good. If I tell people why I do something, why I need something, why I ask for their help, why I want them to do something, I seize the opportunity to create a common cause, something we both believe in. When I explain how I want to do something or how I want something done, I provide an opportunity for the other person to contribute by making additional suggestions. I also show, how important the cause is to me, by demonstrating I have thought about the cause and how to realize it. Finally, the What piece – and this was surprising to me – almost didn’t have to be mentioned. People almost immediately understood, what it was that they could do for me.

How am I doing it? I take the time to help put the work my engineers do into context. How does their work fit into making a great product. How does their work enable the customer to manufacture a great product. We don’t share all the same insights and we should take into account that by providing context, we allow people to recognize and start to identify with importance, function, utility of their contribution.

What is it, I am doing? I put people in the center. I take time for them. I help them put their current and future contributions into context, which allows my engineers and me to establish a common cause, something we can both believe in.

  • To commit to it this way, was a leap of faith – but I believed (still believe) in it passionately.
  • It takes time. I needed time to explain my approach and to establish mutual trust. On a continuing basis I need to think about how I am going to put work assignments into context.
  • It is extremely rewarding to me and to my engineers.
  • The Why-How-What approach facilitates collaboration significantly.
  • I have observed that people give generously when they believe in something.
  • My engineers have started a transformation where they  ask questions, that lead to more insights, more knowledge.

You may put this away as esoteric hog-wash, but in a quiet minute, ask yourself why you wouldn’t like to be treated this way. I may be wrong, but I doubt it – all f your really important decisions in life were made following Why-How-What and not the other way around. I’ll give you a few examples: wedding, house purchase, vacation, etc.

Alright, this is it. I am very interested in your comments, so please leave some, send me an email or provide feedback any other way you can think of.

And before I forget, here’s the link to the TED (Technology – Education – Design) website: http://www.ted.com

The Simon Sinek Talk in particular:

http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action.html

Take care

and best regards from perpetual Summer Bangkok.

Markus \m/


Just Singing And Dancing In The Rain or…

…water and its transformative powers.

We are still in the rainy season. Friday the precipitation went back and forth between raining and pouring…this meant, that on my way home from work, I got out of the car in the middle of the highway were stuck on. With a Gene-Kelly-esque (hey this is a word, even if I just made it up) hum I walked and sang and danced my way to the MRT station Lat Phrao, while the warm rain and the prospect of the weekend raised my already good mood to exuberant, close to spectacular…well, I was able to see spectacular from there.

Saturday morning I met with an English neighbour of ours for a nice early morning run in the rain. We did 11km and it was comfortable all the way. Why? – because Friday evening at 8:00pm, the temperature and humidity dropped. We went all the way down to 74F – how cool is that. When I cam e home, after a quick shower I went back to bed – which as you may recall is the pinnacle of luxury for me – and spend precious time between reading and falling asleep. When we left to meet with friends for lunch, it was still raining.

 

No, this is not a naughty eight year old with an overfull bladder, it’s raining.

With this much rain, there’s plenty of opportunity to look at a more abstract context how water surrounds us.

 

Rain pouring through the rain-shield at a BTS station.

I love looking out through our windows over the city. I spent my first seven years in life living on the ninth floor of a high-rise in Germany. Since my world was rather small, back then, I had a similar view of the world as Sarah Palin. However, I thought I could see Africa from my window. Anyway, as I was gazing through the raindrop sprinkled window, I saw the world in front of me turned up side down  and distorted, well I had to take the image.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, as I left for work on Thursday morning, I saw the reflection of one of the towers where we live in one of the pools on our premises. The image gives me peace and calm, a naive feeling that there will be world peace one day (man, I sound like one of these chicks at the Miss World competition).

 

 

Okeydokely, this concludes the posts for this week. Two in one day, I consider myself redeemed after my previous 7 day hiatus.

 

L8rs

Markus \m/

 

 

 

Some Old – Some New – And All Good

Did you miss me? – it’s been a few days since the last entry. Since we are still settling in and discovering new things all the time, there are a few stories I can share today. In the last entry I told you about our new self assignment – observing the world from above. Bangkok has a central corridor that extends from east to west – Sukhumvit Road. It is actually Thailand’s longest road. It starts in Bangkok and moves east all the way to the Cambodian border. Traffic in Bangkok along Sukhumvit moves in three layers. The first layer is made up of the poor schmucks with their cars trapped in a perpetual traffic jam – also known as “the Great Equalizer”. I may have mentioned it, that there are a lot of super sports cars, such as Porsche Carrera GT (excuse me, I must take a moment here), Lamborgini Gallardo, McLaren F1, Audi R8, Lotus Elise etc. but it turns out when you are stuck in traffic pedestrian pass the smallest models and Tuk-Tuks as well as the +500HP sports cars – that’s gotta suck!

The second traffic layer on Sukhumvit is an elevated walkway, that connects the street level with the BTS (Bangkok elevated tram) – unobstructed walking. This is from where the following images were taken. The highest level is the BTS itself – the preferred transportation method along with the MRT (Bangkok’s underground tram) to get around Bangkok – both are very fast, punctual and inexpensive.

 

 

 

Typical blue color worker transport in Bangkok – “I like the smell of fresh exhaust in the morning.”

 

 

 

 

 

An alternative for the courageous are the little Thai produced mopeds. They sport between 100cc to 175cc engines. For short distances the majority of mopeds make great taxis. We thought about buying a BMW R1200GS, but we’d be just as stuck in the traffic as the cars. And a small moped is not suitable to allow me to commute the 40 miles to work – so calm down mom and dad, the boy is not going to buy a motorcycle. The same thing to my in-laws, I will not transport your daughter through the world on the back of a motorcycle…..bummer! But the mopeds are used here from pretty much anything imaginable and sometimes even more tan that.

Now this what I call an expedition travel top case – can comfortably hold up to one (contortionist) human. And a tank is really the emergency seat…although, I don’t want to think about where exactly that tank lid fits into the dude’s anatomy.

 

 

Very safety conscientious wearing helmets, although I think there’s room for a little more.

So that’s it for today. Next week I will attend a conference and then it’s off to our first holiday weekend. Where will we go? What will we do? Answers to these important questions will have to be determined in the next few days if not hours.

 

So stay tuned.

Markus \m/

 

 

 

text

 

 

Looking Down On The World

We have given ourselves an assignment, that makes use of our elevated position in regards to our world. I had a phone conference this morning and as I was listening in, but looking around, I observed the pockets of life all around us. From the sixteenth floor you have pretty good visual access to a lot of places – so make use of it. So let’s get started with what happens in the mornings around us.


Our neighbors with their posh penthouse deck – probably driving one of the surprisingly many Lamborghinis that can be seen throughout the city

Then there are the street vendors that show up when the sun rises selling all kinds of food and drink.

Next to our apartment complex, they are building a little mall so that the expats can cut their walking distance to the closest Starbuck’s. Starbucks is about three times as expensive as the local much more beautiful coffee places. There is a particular local coffee place we like going to, called the Gallery – Art and coffee, like a hand in a glove.

Then there is our neighbour, who lives in a single family house with a lawn that requires mowing due to the extremely fertile weather. Well, here he is mowing away on a Thursday morning

Finally, I saw the lady doing laundry on the rooftop.

Alright, that’s it for this post of stuff that happens below us.

Take care

Yours Markus \m/

P.S.: I wrote this entry while watching a re-run of the Wire 4th season on HBO – The Wire still so rocks!!! – Watch It.

What Else Is Happening?

In the past five weeks I have been telling you about our life and our initial observations living in Thailand. You have heard about the Bangkok traffic, about the heat, the humidity, the rain and the subsequent flooding.

Of course, it’s not all golden. There are cultural differences. The avoidance of conflict for example. Barbara coined the phrase Melting Moment. A melting moment is when you are just at the end of your rope patience-wise and you just want to scream and carpet the place with f-bombs, but you just can’t – wouldn’t be prudent (where did this come from?). I told you about the procedures of buying a mattress or a bench, where you deal with five people until a simple purchase transaction is finally  completed. We have been able to observe and find the humor in it, but if you are under pressure or simply want to get something done quickly, you reach a Melting Moment quickly – especially when you know that it shouldn’t be complicated. Thais seem to love bureaucracy. The culture is very hierarchical, which is  blessing and a curse at the same time. On one hand, it means that there are fewer personal agendas to consider or worry about, but on the other hand decision-making at lower levels basically doesn’t happen. Everything is run up the flagpole – that can be frustrating at times, whether you experience it at work or when shopping.

Another interesting experience for Westerners or Farangs (as we are called here) is that all sales are final. Let me spell this out, because some of you are so young you have never experienced a sales clerk tell you No!, when after a few days or weeks you want to return an item for a full refund or art the very least store credit. You decide to make a purchase. You have made your choice, counted to three, made your peace and decided it’s  bona fide. Now comes the part where you finalize the exchange. In the States you exchange plastic or cash for the goods. If you rue the purchase decision or there is some other reason that makes you want to exchange the goods, you take your receipt and the goods and walk right up to the register at the store where you made the purchase and exchange – boom money is refunded, good back on the shelves.

Here, ALL SALES ARE FINAL. NO F$%#&#G EXCHANGES, SUCKER!

Heck, if you made a purchase at any street vendor or market booth you are screwed anyway. The clerk that just conversed in English with you sudden;y only speaks Thai. But the same thing holds true in stores in the many shopping malls, too. You can plead, cry, scream, ask super-ultra friendly – no dice. You buya, you keepa!

But you know, I still wouldn’t want to miss any of it. It’s part o living life to the fullest. It’s part of experiencing foreign countries and cultures by immersing oneself into it, rather than just being a resort tourist. Plus Thais now how to live – see photo below.

I had this drink with a hot Chica, who happens to be my wife at an open air market a few days ago. Small things can make life can be so sweet!

Take care and look out for each other, it make s life so much easier. Well, that and a pineapple milkshake.

Markus \m/