On speaking: HAIL

I’ve been avoiding TED for the past few years but this talk caught my attention and is worthy of your time. I’m certainly guilty of a few of his 7 deadly sins. I’ve tirelessly practiced how to perform but his advice shows me areas where I certainly need to improve and or remind myself of. I love his 4 principles, HAIL:

H: Honesty – Be clear and straight
A: Authenticity – Be yourself
I: Integrity – Be your word
L: Love – Wish them well

Julian Treasure: How to speak so that people want to listen

On recruiting

This should be required reading for just about every company hiring in Taiwan. I’ve been wanting to share my recent interview experiences but framing the article in a positive light was just about impossible. I’ve had guys show up to interview me for senior positions that didn’t know who I was, didn’t know I was coming and no clue what to ask me. I had a CEO send me a letter asking for a meeting as he was looking for someone to direct the user experience for his company, only to tell me afterwards that he simply wanted someone to manage a website (after 2 interviews). No one checked out the kind of work I’ve done, my approach, let alone what I’ve been saying on social media. This after I had done exhaustive research on the companies and their products, and the current and former team members. It stands in stark relation to the way I hire and treat people I ask to work with or help me.

Recruiting is about relationships. Every candidate who applies to your company isn’t just a prospective employee. They’re a prospective customer. Evangelist. Source of talent.

And never, ever judge a book by it’s cover.

The basic premise is simple: treat everyone awesome. You don’t know who the A+ player is before she walks in the door. And you don’t know who the B- player is friends with when they walk out the door. Every candidate that works their way through your recruitment process will undoubtedly share their impressions and experiences with their friends. This will impact your brand.

Be sure to keep in mind these important facts: engineers know other engineers, designers know other designers, product managers know other product managers, and marketers know other marketers. Duh.

On Recruiting, Part One by Jesse Hertzberg, former COO of Etsy and Squarespace.

How To Think Like An Architect: The Design Process

This same thought process is used with Interface Design as well.

Santa Barbara architect Barry Berkus takes us through the process he used to design the Padaro Lane Residence in Southern California. He demonstrates his conceptual design process through a series of raw drawings and diagrams, along with a detailed explanation of the site conditions, and client needs. This preliminary diagramming stage is a necessary first step in creating a functional, and well thought out design.

Luke Wroblewski on mobile design

Inform your mobile site design decisions with global data on mobile behavior, trends, and best practices. Hear real-world case studies on how companies are creating faster, better mobile experiences.

Get detailed “how to’s” for updating existing designs and evolving antiquated processes. Walk away with practical implementation methods for improving your mobile designs right now.

Luke Wroblewski


WriteBoard is a Wi-Fi-connected Drawing Board that retrofits the classic Whiteboard to allow Seamless Sharing & Syncing between Devices.

We worked on a concept quite similar to this while at CL a few years back, ours had a business focus and was planned to work on a much larger surface but the working concept is much the same. Great to see someone trying to take the idea through to execution.

On Usability testing

Brief demonstration illustrating how they carry out usability research in the labs at Amberlight.

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you did a usability test on fruit?

Author Steve Krug’s demo test as a companion piece to his latest book, Rocket Surgery Made Easy: The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems. The main purpose for creating this video is to demonstrate how easy and simple usability testing can be.

In this video, Julie Blitzer covers the basics of writing a usability test script, finding test subjects, and interpreting results.

Performing a usability test early in your website planning process can have huge returns – a paper prototype allows you to do this with a minimal time investment.

And so is doing the work. It uplifts you. The idea that you’re doing what you love. It’s very important. It’s very sad that most people in the world are not happy with their lot or with their jobs and they can’t wait to retire. And when they retire, it’s like death. . . . They sit at home and watch the television. And that is death. I think you’ve got to continue. We never retire. We shouldn’t retire. Not in our profession. There’s no such thing. We want to drop dead onstage. That would be a nice theatrical way to go.
Christopher Plummer

Experiences in Studying Chinese

I’ve been studying Chinese for over 4 years now, 2 years of that was full-time. The first year and a 1/2 I was at Tsing Hua University in their part-time studies program; every week you have a class with about 25 other students, though that number decreases over time. After about 1 year of study I could hardly speak one sentence of Chinese. Needless to say, the classes weren’t very successful nor useful for me. Afterwords, I entered National Central University’s intensive Chinese program where my progress was far more apparent, especially language outside the textbook. With their help, and a patient online conversation tutor in Taichung, I improved quickly, and could actually start using the language.

Yes, most people learn the language when they first arrive in Taiwan, not after living here for 12 years, but I’ve always done things differently and it’s better late than never.

Learning Chinese has been extremely rewarding, not just because I can now be more aware of my surroundings, can communicate with interesting people, but also because it’s led to all kinds of new knowledge and experiences.

One experience which consistently surprises me, perhaps due to my naivety, is when I attend a formal meeting at my kids school. These are generally quite different from parent-teacher meetings which I have no trouble with at all. After all this study I’ve managed to reach a certain level in the language, I wouldn’t characterise it as fluency, but I have no trouble expressing myself under normal circumstances, and I can read books of interest within a timely manner. It’s still a struggle of course, I still study everyday, but practically speaking my abilities generally exceed required usage. It’s fun, I try to make a habit of talking with people on Skype almost every day about all kinds of topics. But recently when I’ve attended formal meetings at my kids school it’s like I had never learned the language at all.

It comes as a complete shock, and though I certainly understand the broad strokes, many times the subtle details in these meetings escape me. And then I am required to interject and comment with my opinion. By this point I become nervous, and often what comes out is an unintelligible mess.

Also, I find it fascinating how 2 people during a meeting can be saying the same thing, but one can be completely comprehended while they other cannot. Sometimes I’ll say to the Principal, I have no idea what you are talking about, and a parent will comment that they don’t either and they are Taiwanese.

It comes down to the kind, or level, of language they are using, and the method in which they use to express themselves. My kids’ school is a great study in the abstract and indirect ways of expressing a point. Nothing is ever stated directly and whenever possible more poetic or literary language is used. To advanced learners of the Chinese language this might not be a problem but for me I sometimes feel I get as much education from school-to-parent communication than from any of the Chinese language textbooks I’ve used in the past.

I know this shouldn’t surprise me, I have trouble listening to anything finance related on the radio as well, but it always does. When learning a second language over a relatively short period of time you can’t be expected to grasp every topic. But the dramatic drop in comprehension is amazing and at times embarrassing. Hopefully one day before my kids graduate school I will be able to join one of these meetings without the uncomfortable feeling of being lost at sea.

Edit: Apparently others, native speakers, find these meetings difficult to follow as well.

Sometimes travel can show us how our life is… Or can give us a glimpse of how it can be. Being untethered, I could float away, lifted to a great height where everything is new, and I could look back on my life with new perspective and go, ‘Oh!’
Lucy Knisley – “An Age of License”. Via Ruk.