An Appetite for Risk

The appetite for risk is an incredibly powerful topic not only in the world of business but also in our personal lives. Over the years I have learned that our appetite for risk varies so incredibly much from person to person, from experience to experience, but like all businesses, without the right balance of risk and reward management we too can fail to thrive to become the best that we can be or worse off become left behind in an ever changing world.

“The level of risk that an organization is prepared to accept in pursuit of its objectives, before action is deemed necessary to reduce the risk”

Wikipedia

It’s not our fault that our appetite for risk is where it is at. A large portion of it stems from our past experiences. A child who is yelled at for speaking his truth may choose to keep his thoughts to himself the next time round. Conversely, an adult who risks driving a bit too fast to save a few minutes in life may actually take a life instead. Risk, like many things is what it is to it’s viewer.

So, is there a “right” way to approach risk? Is there a better way then just trusting our instincts from our incredibly varied and unpredictable past experiences? I say there is.

Like any great organisation that understand themselves and their objectives well, we too have to understand our ourselves and what we hope to achieve. Only by having our objectives in mind can we assess the risk we are willing to take to achieve it, that much is obvious. We know that risk is a daily action, we take risks every single day of our lives, but the real important risks we take are those with long lasting effects on who we are, the path we take, the wellbeing we add to ourselves. This is one of the things we’re not good at, we too often take risks as they spring out into our lives as if to surprise us that they were ever there. Imagine an organisation tackling risks only as they appeared and never as they predicted; oh the stress! So then, why is it that we do the same in our lives?

So firstly appetite for risk is knowing why it is worth to take the risk even when the risk has yet to appear in your life.

What we also don’t do well is seeing our risk appetite as a polarisation effect. That we “know” that a result of this risk or that, we will or will not do this. Most of us know that a polarisation of any belief is not good. To keep an open mind is the introduction of any critical thought, of empathy with another. So like so, ones risk appetite shall never be set in stone. We must understand the guard rails in which we must operate within. It is often fear/ fear of failure that drives the polarisation of why we should not take a risk and my one admiration of fear is that it is incredibly convincing, that fear’s grip makes you easily believe that what it says is true, forcing away all other beliefs that might say otherwise.

So secondly, as our world changes ever so fast, our appetite for risk must also change with it.

The last point I’d like to make is the understanding of how risk affects and is affected by our internal and external environment. With any risk we take, we must take into account the full range of benefits and consequences and not just pick those that support your own argument. This is incredibly important because too often do we refuse to accept the existence of one or the other when making decisions. The textbook definition of these considerations include; financial, health, recreational, ethical, social and information. I’ll leave it to you to think about these and where you might do better to think about.

The appetite for risk is complex because we as humans are inherently complex. We all have our views and beliefs on what levels of risk are acceptable to us; too often do we express those views to others without the full consideration of our own views. Is there a right way to approach risk? no, not really, but there often is a more better way than you may think.

Thanks for reading. What is your risk appetite?

Wishing you all the best, Jason.

Feature image – Moving to London, a risk I chose to take even against all odds and logic at the time but has defined much of who I am and what I know to this day. Taken on the 17th of January 2019.

Becoming a Better Conversationalist

GOALS – The most amazing thing about conversations with people are those in which you are walking away feeling engaged and inspired, when you feel like you have made a real connection and or are feeling perfectly understood.

  1. Don’t multitask – Be present, be in THAT moment. Don’t be half in and half out of it.
  2. Don’t pontificate – Enter every conversation assuming that there is something to learn. Set aside all of your personal opinions and beliefs. Everyone is an expert at something
  3. Use open ended questions – Who, what, when, where, what are the words to use!
  4. Go with the flow – questions and ideas will come into mind in the middle of a conversation but be careful not to hold onto them in your mind as this will stop your listening, let those questions and ideas come and go.
  5. If you don’t know, then say that you don’t know.
  6. Don’t equate your experience with theirs – It is NEVER the same. All experiences are individual and more importantly it is not about you. Conversations are not a promotional opportunity.
  7. Try not to repeat yourself – It is really condescending.
  8. Stay out of the weeds – People don’t care about the little details (years, dates, names etc). They care about you, what you are like and what you have in common.
  9. LISTEN – we’d all rather talk than listen, but when we talk, we don’t learn. Steven Covey said that most people don’t listen to understand, we listen with the intent to reply.
  10. Be prepared to be amazed.

Thanks for reading, keep learning! Jason ❤

Feature image – One of the last great team outings with my old team back in Sydney before I left for London, as always, we had a great time out! Taken on the 8th of October 2018.

Introduction to Philosophy – Personal Summary Notes

These are my personal notes taken to help understand the content behind philosophical questions in our world.


Week 1

What is philosophy?

  • “The study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, especially when considered as an academic discipline.”
  • Is it an activity, a way of working out what is the right way to to think about things.
  • The question “why” is used a lot to justify the ways of thinking
  • Philosophy is challenging because it takes on what we think we know and are comfortable with or take for granted.
  • Philosophical questioning does not always have to be big and bold, it can be be about mundane topics and arise anywhere. the important thing is to understand how important it is to think about one over another.

The activity

  • A valid argument is one in which the truth of its conclusion follows from the truth of its premises

Recording the Journey – Ask Why

The Golden Circle at it’s core teaches us to ask the question of why we do what we do in the world of business and life and the fact that the two are becoming ever less separated from one other. If we can start with the why, the purpose of your goals, your ideals and beliefs will be something that is engraved into the how and what it is that you do.

Those of whom believe in what you believe will see this. Those of whom who wish to achieve a similar goal, who wish to see a similar ideal succeed in a world where it does not yet will join you in the great cause.

This generation is at the greatest crossroad in human kind. We are stuck in between the way we have always done things and the modern world where anything and everything has been enabled and opened up for us. For once people truly have access to global information and opportunities and with this we each seek for more purpose than ever.

The great challenge of our generation will not be to find what our purpose is, the challenge for our generation is creating a world where everyone has a sense of purpose. Purpose is that sense that we are part of something bigger than ourselves, that we are needed, that we have something better ahead to work for. Purpose is what creates true happiness. I truly believe these words and they’re not just mine, they’re shared by many who believe in humanity.

With this in mind, I believe it is one of the most important things in life to ask ourselves why we do what we do, why we follow the things we do, why we believe what others believe and most importantly, once we’ve found purpose within, how we can create a sense of purpose for others.

Feature image – Awoken by my thoughts early in the morning as often happens, I leap to my desk to brainstorm ideas and put my thoughts on paper. Taken on the 7th of June 2020.

Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Hubble Telescope

[Originally posted on April 2015]

If you know me well, then you might know that I have an incredible love for the night sky. I love everything to do with space, the stars and the moons, the spiralling galaxies and galactic anomalies that lie out there in vastness of the empty but at the same time lively universe.

These images below celebrate the 25 year anniversary since the first images from the famous Hubble Telescope were taken up there in Earths outer atmosphere. The history behind this telescope is fascinating and at the time of development, many of the technologies that were required for the images you see were not even invented yet. That is why, browsing over the many years from history to present, the anniversary images have become ever clearer with modern calibrations made year to year.

The James Webb Space Telescope, due to launch in early 2021 will be the successor of the almost 20 year old Hubble Telescope. Who knows what lies beyond the lens of our scientific curiosity and knowledge. What I do know is that the future prospects for discoveries beyond our horizons is exciting! And I for one look forward to seeing where it will take us.

For now, we can take a moment to pause and appreciate the beauty of nature. Our individual problems, our struggles, goals and dreams seem so small even though to us, they are so large. We are but a speck of stardust in a universe so vast and incomprehensible, almost.

Five Years

Is it just me or does everyone hit a point in their lives where they think about where they are in life and how a lot of it, or certain aspects of it are not aligned with their goals and dreams they had in their minds.

Sometimes, even the thought of this reminds me of what sounds quite funny at first at the humble age of 26, but on a serious note, a midlife crisis. But what if this crisis is actually a representation of a modern crisis, one where it is a by-product of a generation that has been raised in the most globally connected, wealthy and “free” time in the history of mankind. We have something that our predesesors didn’t have until they were in their late thirties and that is more knowledge, more freedom and more choices. These choices whenever abundant can give rise to doubt; the what if’s that run through our minds when given options and we choose one over another.

The real big question is how does any of us know they’ve made the right choice? Some might tell you to follow your instincts, others base their decisions on the judgements of their close family and friends and furthermore others would use pure logic and reasoning to judge the right move. Risk over reward, right? Well, everyone has their own take on this and the truth is, no one really has the right answer.

All I know is that for me personally, I am at a crossroad, a point where I’ve still the freedom to change the direction in my life. Maybe that’s one we can all take away though, maybe at any given “present” moment, we can make that change. But for now, I am reaching what people call the 5-year mark, or the 5-year rule; it marks when you have been at a company or role for that amount of time and it’s a good time to change companies, go for that payrise or what I think is becoming more and more relevant in today’s age, change careers.

It was only years ago where we would say that job stability or dare I say life stability came from the amount of years you were employed for in a company. In fact, it’s quite likely we get that from our older colleagues of whom we work with; 10 years, 15 years, 25 years, 30 years! They’re incredibly proud of it and to me, that is one hell of an achievement because I can’t see further than 6 months into my future let alone 10 years!

Times have changed and they’ve changed so rapidly at that, I struggle to believe that staying in one company, in one role, being the “master of one” instead of the “jack of all trades” will be enough to survive in this modern world. This is not because it is not important to be a master, it is because it is increasingly becomming tougher to be a master of any trade. The knowledge that a master holds is becoming increasingly easier to access, you can see that with not just the immensity of the global knowledge held on the internet but the expert driven courses which can be found at your fingertips. Anyone can be an expert in a field so long as they put in the effort and significantly less time than 30 years. But even then, it is not those singular experts that truly move the world and make a difference, I believe it is those whom can bring expertise from a number of fields into one that can make the real change in the world.

So let’s say, we follow the 5-year rule, but the modern one. In 30 year’s you would of had 6 different careers, all spanning a wide range of interests, hobbies, dreams, goals and passions. Maybe one or two of them you really enjoyed and stayed on for longer, and maybe those in which you did not enjoy so much you stayed less.

Now I propose the most important question, one for the readers to think about, who has more expertise after 30 years? Who is more likely to have followed his or her dreams, achieved greater heights and will live to tell more stories?

It’s still a tough question, one that we all still have our own opinions on, but maybe this time after reading this, with just that tiny bit more clarity.

Thanks for reading my friends, I guess this one was more for me at this point of time in my life. It hasn’t come across because I don’t enjoy my work or I think there’s something better out there for me; it’s more the side of me that seeks to learn more about the world, the undying curiosity and adventure that I seek. Is one life too short to be spending 80% of your time on one thing? I would always, always, always say yes.

Feature image – Represents how slow we should be living life in retrospect to how fast it feels; this was during my wanderings on a little island national park at Yeosu-si, Jeollanam-do, South Korea taken on the 30th August 2017

Opportunity and Luck

Opportunies can be found around any corner of life. Often, it is not about the search to find them, but instead about being able to see them for what they are. They all have one thing in common and that one thing is how they all begin and this beginning, starts with you.

Opportunities don’t always come in the shape of you recieving. In fact, the greatest opportunities in life are those in which you can give. People say that the greatest gift in life is what you can give to others without expecting anything in return. Because what this gives you, despite the expectation, is luck; and what is luck? I believe that luck is simply opportunity in disguise!

I believe that luck is simply opportunity in disguise!

Jason Li

When you share your good fortune with others around you, over the long term, it will come back around and surprise you in so many ways. People who often attribute their successes to luck and just being in the right place at the right time often are understating all the work that has gone on behind the scenes. The truth is that it is not that fortune or luck favours them, it is how they position themselves now to create the opportunities that bring luck in their future! So how can we do this? Be proactive, get out there, talk to people, interact and engage with them, be genuine always, let them know what makes you excited and make sure they know how your talents might be able to help them with what makes them excited

Be proactive, get out there, talk to people, interact and engage with them, be genuine always, let them know what makes you excited and make sure they know how your talents might be able to help them with what makes them excited

Jason Li

Have you ever thought about what you can do to create an environment where opportunities flourish around you?

Thanks for reading ❤

Feature image – Disneyland, Tokyo, Japan taken on the 5th December 2018

Learning to Learn – Personal Summary Notes

These are my personal notes taken to help understand the content behind how we as individuals learn new things in life.


Week 1

Our minds can wander between two modes of thinking:

  1. Focused Mode – Pre-frontal cortex; good with familiar contexts
  2. Diffused – representative of our resting state; good with understanding new ideas

Learning something new requires the ability to focus on the task at hand. When the task at hand proves difficult to understand or grasp, we then allow the diffused mode to take place, the resting state so that we may open our minds to a broader way of thinking about the problem.

The problem of procrastination:

  • Procrastination is your mind telling you that the task at hand is painful and wanting you to switch to something more pleasant, temporarily.
  • Use the Pomodoro technique; focus for 45minutes, rest for 15minutes.

Practice and repetition:

  • Working memory contains about 4 “slots” which you can switch between to work on a task.
  • Is key to allowing you to take information from the working memory into the long term memory. Set a time each day or a day each week to repeat or continue learning the topic.

Sleep and exercise:

  • Allows our brain to remove toxins built up during the day
  • Gives our brain the chance to catalogue information collected throughout the day
  • Exercise allows our brain to create new neurons in the hippocampus which aids in memory and learning.

Additional – Creativity and the 2 of the big 5 personality traits (OCEAN)

  • Openness – Is a highly positive trait that allows us to take in new ideas and be more creative
  • Concientiousness – Not significant
  • Extraversion – Not significant
  • Agreeableness – Is a negative trait as to disagree, to not conform means we challenge the status quo, challenge the moderm models.
  • Neurotism – Not significant

Additional – Writing

  • Biggest mistake is to edit (focused) while you’re writing (diffused)

Additional – Learning a language

  • Learn a new language for the right reasons, is it a language you’re excited to learn and why?
  • It’s about making mistakes, allowing yourself to make mistakes and not being scared to make those mistakes!! Language is really good with that because you can still be understood with pieces of a language.
  • Be careful with self fulfilling prophecies!

“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, youre right” – Henry Ford.

  • Rote repetition is not the way to learn a word, try and use mnemonics (word association) to tie words to things you are familiar with or can visualise.

Week 2

Chunking

  • Chunking is the grouping of similar ideas into a single “chunk”. This helps when you recall ideas and topics, instead of the individual ideas that you are recalling, you instead recall the “chunk” and everything that has been embedded into the chunk follows with.
  • Focus attention and find patterns, don’t mistake moments of clarity as learning, this is understanding but won’t stick if you don’t practice.
  • Gain context (top-botton) to see where all the chunks (bottom-up) fit into the bigger picture.

Illusions of learning

  • Having the answers close by or in front of you or easily accessed can give up a false sense of understanding in our minds.
  • Re-learning or overlearning something you already know is comfortable and will give you an illusion that you know the topic well.
  • Recall is much much more effective than re-reading.
  • Simply recalling what you have learned (or any memory in fact) helps you to embed that memory deeper into the long term
  • A way to help you practice recall is testing yourself

Motivation – a neurochemical reaction

  • Acetycholine affects focused learning and attention. They project widely and activate circuits that control synaptic plasticity leading to long term memory.
  • Dopamine signals in relation to unexpected rewards and can predict future rewards
  • Seratonin affects social life and risk taking

Interleaving

  • Once confident with a topic, try to approach the problem from another direction, with a different mindset, try to use the problem in ways different from the normal repetitive sense.

Habits

  • Habits are an incredible tool to move past procrastination
  • There are four parts to forming a habit.
    1. The cue – the signal that begins the routine
      • Usually happens based on location, time, feelings and routine.
    2. The routine – what you automatically do when you see that cue
      • You must notice and actively focus on rewiring your routine. So have a plan of what to do when you see the cue.
    3. The reward – the satisfaction and good feeling you get from doing the routine
      • Provide yourself with a reward which could be anything from food to relaxing etc
    4. The belief – that you can overcome or take on this new habit

Process vs Product

  • Focus on the process and not the end product
  • Process = steps involved
  • Product = the thing which is to be completed

Practical ways of changing habits

  • Brief weekly list of key tasks to achieve
  • Before bed, write down what you can reasonbly work on or complete the next day
  • You can adjust this to your work life. Write a list of tasks that must be achieved by the week then each morning spend some time writing down what will be acheieved that day.
  • It is good to have little tasks within the day that you can check off whether it’s time for cleaning your desk, grabbing some tea or going for a walk, this mixes things up and makes things fun.
  • Additionally, it is important to have a finish time listed each day. A combination of work and play is more effective than long hours of work.
  • And remember – Eat your frogs first everyday! 🙂

Memory

  • Visual memory is powerful. Link topics, formulas and concepts to visual cues whenever you can which will help you remember.
  • Use the memory palace for lists and groups of things
  • It is our Hippocampus in our brains that helps us learn and remember new things
  • The process of Consolidation, Reconsolidation and Reactivation occurs during your sleep.
  • Consolidation – The process wherby the hippocampus helps store memories
  • Reconsolidation – whenever a memory is recalled

Becoming a better learner – Tips

  • Exercise is the No.1 most important thing in helping neurons in the brain survive.
  • Practice makes perfect only when you are prepared.

Visual Metaphor & Analogies

  • Assist glue ideas with existing ideas already present in your mind
  • Try to use yourself as the concept you are trying to understand. I.e the flow of electrons can be imagined by you flowing in the river that is run by a pump.

People learn by trying to make sense of the information they perceive. Rarely do people learn by only being told how things are.

Sneaking off to learn on your own to learn is when you’ll begin to see that what teachers and experts show you is only a partial version of the whole picture. Charles Darwin “snuck” away from his medical degree to join a ship around the world to wander around on his own to see nature first hand. Take responsibility of your own learning.

Deliberate practice of the real tough areas of the subject is key to listing your expertise.

Watch out for Imposter Syndrome when you are trying to learn. It’s when you feel like you are learning the content slower than others or that you’re not good enough to learn it, that others will find this out. Everyone has different gifts, when one door closes, another one opens, keep your chin up and eyes on the open door.

We know something for sure: You can make significant changes in our brain by changing how we think.

Take pride in aiming for success because of the very things that make others say you can’t do it. Take pride in the qualities that make you, you and use them as a secret talisman for success. Use your natural contrariness to defy the always present prejuges from others who will try to undermine your success.

Hard Start – Jump to Easy

In an exam you should start by looking through all the questions and starting with the hardest one. As soon as you get stuck on the tough question, go to do an easier question then go back to the hard question later.

When I ask – Choose your one favourite place…

In my travels I have met many people, each and every one of them with beautiful stories to tell. What I enjoy doing rather than it’s opposite, is listening.

There are a number of topics which I love to bring up, that I love to ask and learn from others. Here is just one:

“If you could choose one place in the world you have been to that moved you, that you find incredibly amazing, where would that be and why?”

Here, I will tell you the where, but not the why, because the why is for you and I to experience ourselves. It is my goal to embark and visit these places, uniquely moving to those whom I have known personally. It’s not something that can simply be googled or seen on social media because these are the places that have truly been felt by those who have been. So, here goes, and in no particular order:

  • James says “Zermatt, Switzerland”
  • Stephanie says “Les Nympheas, France”
  • Matt says “Covent Garden, London, United Kingdom”
  • Erick says “Thaipusam, Batu Caves, India”
  • Carmen says “Naples, Italy”
  • Kim says “Pamplona, Spain”
  • Kevin says “Zell am See, Austria”
  • Agata says “Zakrzowek, Poland”

How could this list not be complete without my own right? As as tough of a question this is, i’ll do my best to answer.

  • Jason says “Queenstown, New Zealand”

Undoubtly this list is long and will only grow as time passes. I can only hope that one day I visit as many as I can and understand why it was their one choice.

With love, Jason ❤

Feature image – Rob Roys Peak, New Zealand. Taken on the 23rd November 2016

Positivity & Optimism

The truth is, I don’t have any more potential in life than anyone else in the world does.

But what I do have, is a high level of positivity and optimism for the future of both myself and those around me; this is undeniable and more importantly, this is unchanging.

Most of the success in my personal life, no matter how small or big can be attributed to one of only a few things and the biggest one of them all is my perspective. I view a large number of situations with a positive outlook, to see the light in even the darkest situations; just as Ying and Yang is present in our lives, it is also present in every situation, no matter how grim it looks. To be able to break down into pieces what it is that is bringing you sadness, sorrow and pain and holding onto the piece that can give you hope Is a strength that can get you through even the toughest times in your life.

For example, my first job as a door to door salesman on full commission during my summer holidays. I spent the first 3 weeks, working 40+ hours walking the streets of Sydney without a single sale to be made. Do you wonder why the turnover ate was 95%? It was a brutal role for anyone who started in the industry, imagine pissing off almost everyone you meet just because you said hi to them at the door (yes, I was that annoying door salesman, but little do you know I’m just trying to work hard and make ends meat so you shut the door on my face). So by the end of those 3 weeks, 80% of the 20 odd people, those who were in my training session from the beginning had quit, they couldn’t handle the pressure and rejection, and to be honest rightly so, It was tough. But you see, instead of seeing the zero in my bank check after every week, I saw growth in myself, I found little changes in the way I spoke and moved when I talked to people and for the first time In my life, that shy little asian boy felt potential within himself and no doubt in the fourth week, he’d made his first of what would be a great number of sales which put him on the top 10 salesman of the month of September, that fately 2012 year.

Following closely is my undying optimism that everything and anything will find it’s way around. It’s interesting how sometimes people can be pessemistic about others being an optimist, but then again, I could say the same for pessimists and realists, however I don’t. I think that all three can bring a powerful perspective to a situation, when used correctly. One cannot be blind to their own strength and must throw themselves into the shoes of the others. It’s important to see how things can go wrong if certain actions are taken, or how the what is being discussed does not match the reality of what might happen, but equally as important is the fact that there is someone that can believe that there is a solution. Sometimes, I am my own weakness in this part, It’s rare that I say that something cannot be done and this can be both a gift or can be a disaster waiting to happen, it’s something I need to think about within myself.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where my optimism has brought me over the years, but what I do know is that I see opportunities in almost everything I do just because of it. When I started my current occupation over 3 and a half years ago now (as an Intern Electrical Engineer), I knew that one day I would have the experience to be able to meet a major milestone and goal of mine, to work overseas. I never doubted myself for a moment in those 3 and a half years, I just knew that it was possible, that It can happen and just the “knowing” gave me confidence to (and this is the most important part) make little steps, goals and milestones towards making it happen. I think a lot of people think optimism gets you knowhere, that your dreams stay only as dreams in an optimists world and It’s true that we do dream a lot, but it is within our dreams, our bright lit visions of the world where our ideas begin and with the right mindset we can put things into action that ensure that our dreams truly become reality.

 

What in your own personality do you think has brought the most success in your life?

Thanks for reading ❤ Jason

 

Feature image – teamLab Borderless Light Museum, Tokyo, Japan taken on the 6th December 2018