The Dale Heydlauff post was a great reminder for me every now and then so I thought I share a great talk from Bob Iger, CEO of The Walt Disney Company. Iger shares some leadership qualities that he looks for in Disney employees:

  • Curiosity – the energy to discover, explore and learn;
  • Optimist – people don’t to follow pessimists;
  • Focused – a plan and can express because communications is important;
  • Fair – allow people to make honest mistakes;
  • Thoughtful – people that takes the time to study the subject so they can have a point of view, particularly important when you’re leading;
  • Decisiveness – not second guessing and taking to much time to make decision
  • Risk-taker – the ability to take risks and take chances;
  • Perfectionist – don’t take no for an answer;
  • Competitive – keep demanding the best out of people;
  • Integrity – every decision made is from the integrity within you and never sacrificing;
  • Creative genius – let personalities thrive and try not to homogenize or sanitize the culture of the company.

Late last year, I went on an indulgent camera spending spree and invested quite a bit into my Sony a7s gear. I’ve yet to find time to do another short this year (which is a must) but I’ve been trying to experiment and pick up some photography skills when I’m on vacation, something which I haven’t taken seriously over the last few years.

Although I pondered about the occasional Annie Leibovitz editorials, stunning in their own rights – what I’m more interested in is photojournalism. I’m all about immediacy and photojournalism is about spontaneity and efficiency. There is no need to set up lights or hire models. There is only you, the other person, nature and the event.

It’s interesting to know the process of a photojournalist such as Damir Sagolj, who takes some amazing photographs. I’m amazed how some can get up-close and personal. When we look at a photograph or watch a film, we don’t often acknowledge or understand how painful it is to get a certain shot. Whilst most people think that it’s all about the camera, much of the work happens before you even touch the camera and when it’s time to shoot, it’s everything but the camera. Afterall, we should know the behaviours of our tools off by heart.

A little bit of research in photojournalism also helps me to think about how to tackle a documentary. I’ve watched a lot of great documentaries thanks to Netflix and I must say, we are missing out so many of good indie docos due to the gateway of free-to-air TV in the past few decades. Documentaries are often raw, personal but also low-quality. I’m wondering whether it’s time to expect more from documentary filmmakers thanks to its photojournalist cousin?

Tufts recently released the report, Digital Planet: Readying for the Rise of the e-Consumer. This report focuses on a metric called the ‘Digital Evolution Index’ and compares countries, based on their ‘current digital index’ and the ‘digital growth rate’ in the last few years.

The paper got me thinking about some high level policy and what we can deregulate to help attract entrepreneurs.

1. Deregulate immigration. Diversity is important, once you start to filter, you’ll bound to filter out talent too.
2. Deregulate the labour market. Let the employer decides the best incentive / payment scheme.
3. Deregulate tax & fees. Create a separate Act — it’s inequitable and a huge distortion to economic behaviour by applying big company rules to small businesses.
4. Deregulate protectionist industries. Monopolies are inefficient & governments can’t protect them forever, the hip pocket wins at the end of the day.
5. Deregulate investment. The Government can sell gambling licences but won’t let people invest or crowdfund equity? Absurd.

There are still a lot of microeconomic reform ideas…

Ii believe in choices. I believe that people should have the right to make mistakes (and learn from it). I also believe in Darwinism; survivor of the fittest happens all around us. In genetics, in the physical world but also ideological as well. Freedom is very important as it is empowering. One should own the set of opportunities, choices and decision making in one’s life. The outcome, no matter at any given point in time, is determined by a set of micro decisions that occur every single day.

Having said that, not everyone is born equal. I’m not going to talk about the middle class, that, I don’t care much. I’m talking about the bottom X%. Those born into poverty, into illness, into messed-up family situations. The endowment effect is very important, so how do we help to improve the absolute condition of the bottom X% (that are mainly in the developing countries) [1] ?

Education

Firstly, education is important. I think everyone should have the right to learn. We are getting closer and closer to 100% rate in adult literacy. Some developing countries are still far behind but I’m optimistic.

Finance

Leverage is profound. Having access to adequate finance is important. Unfortunately, many developing countries are still far from financial innovation. As a result, community financing schemes were created to enable the poor to access to funding. I believe technology can help to magnify the impact of access to finance.

Health

Good health leads to high productivity. On a global level, longer life expectancy means the world’s GDP increases as a whole. In many places in the world, treatable diseases can be easily prevented. We must strive harder to solve this.

Infrastructure

Infrastructure is a public good and it is critical for innovation to occur. Robust infrastructures and institutions lead to ingenious inventions and habits. Roads, telephone networks (including the internet), courts etc. are all important infrastructure that can’t be built by a single person. Those who manage national budget decisions should prioritise infrastructures that benefit everybody, especially those in X%.

[1] As I’m talking in relative percentage, there will always be a bottom X%.

I’ve been listening to 1989 for a few months now, it’s quite addictive. In the deluxe version, Taylor Swift talks about her different music composing techniques. It makes me think about how I write films.

Some people think of plot, others are obsessed with characters. For me, it’s about a scene. Usually, it’s a scene that mesmerises me so much that I want to write a whole entire film just to get to it. This approach means that it is very hard to write and develop feature films as you have to grind away to make the story fit.

This is also why I love short films so much, it lets the audience decide with their imagination what happens before and after.

I love learning about space as a child. The uncertainty and mysteriousness about life on other planets intrigue me. In primary school projects, I would create worlds for them.

I remember in 4th grade, my friend decided he wanted to become an astronaut so he sent a letter to NASA. They responded back, sending a folder of materials along the way. I don’t know if that friend of mine ever ended up pursuing his ambition (two years later he wanted to become a policeman).

The space obsession ended in primary until the last year of high school when we studied Gattaca. I love that film for so many reasons. I think that’s what got me into filmmaking. The fact that I can re-create worlds without ever having to leave the planet. It’s also a beautiful medium to play with.

So after posting my weekly reading list, I found myself searching up NASA. Surprisingly, the preliminary requirements of being an astronaut isn’t that bad. Perhaps I should go back and get a maths degree?

Commander and Pilot Astronaut Duties
Astronaut attired in a training version of the shuttle launch and entry garment floating in pool at NBL Astronaut Leroy Chiao in Training Pilot astronauts serve as both Space Shuttle and International Space Station commanders and pilots. During flight, the commander has onboard responsibility for the vehicle, crew, mission success and safety of flight. The pilot assists the commander in controlling and operating the vehicle. In addition, the pilot may assist in the deployment and retrieval of satellites utilizing the remote manipulator system, in extravehicular activities, and in other payload operations.

Basic requirements for an Astronaut Pilot include the following:

1. Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution in engineering, biological science, physical science, or mathematics. An advanced degree is desirable. Quality of academic preparation is important.

2. At least 1,000 hours pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft. Flight test experience is highly desirable.

3. Ability to pass a NASA space physical which is similar to a military or civilian flight physical and includes the following specific standards: Distant visual acuity: 20/100 or better uncorrected, correctable to 20/20 each eye. Blood pressure: 140/90 measured in a sitting position. Height between 62 and 75 inches.

Source: http://www.tinker-doodle.com/

Source: http://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/postsecondary/features/F_Astronaut_Requirements.html

Happy new year.

What can I say, a few activities here and there take up all my time. In case you are wondering why I went AWOL,  I’ve started a series of (bi) monthly letters that I send to my close friends. Believe it or not but they are quite time consuming; also time doesn’t stop for anyone. So here are some interesting articles I’ve came across last week:

1. A Global Life: My Journey Among Rich and Poor, from Sydney to Wall Street to the World Bank

I picked up a secondhand copy of this book from the local Berkelouw last week. I quickly browsed through it and thought it was a great read. I’m halfway there but there are a lot of things that I’ve learnt and picked up along the way from Mr. Wolfensohn, especially his younger years which I can relate to. It’s nice to know that someone who doesn’t have laser sharp focus ambitions can still do amazing things just by making decisions one step at a time.

2. An Astronaut’s Guide To Life On Earth: How To Prepare For Anything

Patrick Allen reviews An Astronaut’s Guide To Life On Earth: How To Prepare For Anything and summarises some tips from the books that help to reduce stress. I’ll write a review if it turns out that the book is worth reading. The review, however, seems to think so!

3. Snap, crackle and pop: this is no tech bubble, it’s a revolution

A simple article arguing that there won’t be any bubble popping. It gets to the point and captures another fine moment in tech history. Whether we’re in a bubble or not, 2015 will be an interesting year. Is this the start to a frenzy and will Sand Hill Road becomes the new Wall Street? Time will tell.

Wow. Can you believe it? It’s almost three months since the last weekly reading. I’ve been busy but to be honest, I was so consumed by books that I couldn’t read anything else! Here’s the top three read for this week:

1. Ho Chi Minh: A Life

If you were wondering why I went quiet, it was because I need to finish this book and I did! It’s a great revelation into Ho Chi Minh’s life. Duiker is also very matter of fact. Highly recommended for any campaigner though be warned, it is a long read.

2. My Startup Failed, and This is What it Feels Like…

A heartfelt post from Nikki Durkin, a startup poster child for the Australian startup scene. 99dresses hits it off in Australia and Nikki moved to the US after got funding from Ycombinator. Unfortunately, a last minute deal fell through with investors post-YC and things went downhill from there.

3. Pricing the Surge: The Microeconomics of Uber’s Attempt to Revolutionise Taxi Markets

An article from The Economist about Uber’s pricing strategy.

Here are some nice HK film quotes that I found off a website.

I never realised it until now but I’m a big fan of Hong Kong cinema. From Kungfu, vampires, cheesy Stephen Chow comedies to Wong Kar Wei impressionist pieces, HK films have always been engaging, entertaining and pushing boundaries.

Whilst cinematography continues to improve, it seems that Hong Kong filmmakers are also short of ideas these days. I’d definitely like to see some more experimental filmmakers coming from Hong Kong.

Read more →

It’s been months…somewhere amongst the chaos, I forgot how beautiful words are. How they are formed to bring something magical, enlightening.

Words are powerful. Use it with care and it’ll evoke the most powerful emotion. Use it recklessly and it’ll get gulped into the ocean of oblivion.

It’s not hard to write, it’s just hard to write thoughtfully. Yet, somehow the more you write, the clearer are your thoughts.