Monthly Archives: January 2021


Quarantine Day 2

Today went by with some meaningful activities:

  • I finished the Ask for More book.
  • Mom and I cooked brunch and dinner together. Brunch was noodles with beef and dry beans, and dinner was a three-dish meal: fried ling cod, spinach, and beef, snap peas and red pepper stir fry.
  • A full body workout, followed with a Tai Chi lesson from Mom.

Tai Chi was fun. I’m hoping to keep that up throughout the quarantine.

Below are some of the good lines I enjoyed from the Ask for More book from Alexandra Carter:

  • We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and by the depth of our answers. – Carl Sagan
  • When you ask the right questions, of yourself and others, you open a window to create value far beyond what you can imagine. Leading your negotiation with questions not only helps your bottom line, but it helps you connect to people in a way that can transform relationships, personally and professionally.
  • When you change your questions, you change the conversation.
  • The first negotiation in any situation is the one you have with yourself.
  • In my work, I teach that negotiation is any conversation in which you are steering a relationship.
  • Everything you see, hear, and feel helps you steer with accuracy toward your goal.
  • So what happens when you treat negotiation like steering a kayak? First, it means you don’t wait until the contract comes up to negotiate with your boss or client. You don’t wait until your relationship feels like it is in crisis to have a conversation. Instead, you are continuously piloting those relationships in every conversation you have. And second, you take in the right information to help you steer toward your goal. You ask great questions. You use advanced listening skills to get information that helps you shape your deals. In sum, you approach those conversations intentionally. You treat them all as part of your negotiation of that relationship.
  • “Tell me” is a magic question that opens up an entire world to your view.
  • The best negotiations, relationships, or client interactions start with you – a process of self-discovery that helps you get clarity on who you are and what you want to achieve.

The above are some of the highlights from the Introduction chapter. It’d be impossible to share everything I liked from the book. There are too many! Though I do want to share the last two sentences of the book:

  • When you stay curious in your negotiations and relationships, you’ll see that other people start looking to you as a model, and do the same. In this way, good negotiators become leaders – at home, at work, and in the world.

Here is a handy checklist of the 10 questions to negotiate anything by Alexandra Carter:

The Mirror

  • My definition of the problem/goal (What’s the problem I want to solve?)
  • My needs/what those look like (What do I need?)
  • My feelings/concerns (What do I feel?)
  • My previous success (How have I handled this successfully in the past?)
  • My first steps (What’s the first step?)

The Window

  • Their definition of the problem/goal (Tell me…)
  • Their needs/what those look like (What do you need?)
  • Their feelings/concerns (What are your concerns?)
  • Their previous success (How have you handled this successfully in the past?)
  • Their first steps (What’s the first step?)

Great book! Highly recommended.

Quarantine Day 1

Today Mom and I started our Day 1 of the 14-day mandatory quarantine. It was a pretty quiet day. We got up around 9am and had breakfast around 10. Breakfast was called “baba” (粑粑), a Korean rice cake like main dish. Mom taught me and we cooked it with beef and veggies. Last time I had this was in Hunan. Mom brought it for nostalgic reasons as we can’t buy this in Canada.

The highlight of the day was seeing Anya and the kids from a safe distance. They stopped by for a quick wave before kids CrossFit. I’m going to miss hanging out with these guys.

I read most of the day. Almost finished the Ask for More book. Mom unpacked and did her daily routine with singing, dancing, praying and meditating. We had two meals and I already felt like I’ve gained 10 pounds. Mom’s food is so good, and I’m going to cook with her every day during this quarantine. I also did a core exercise routine. I intend to exercise every day from home. It’ll be something different.

Nainai loves Serena’s writing and drawing.

Mama Arrives in Canada

I took the day off today to pick up my Mom from the Vancouver International Airport. Mom was originally planning to come in the summer to stay for two years under the requirement of her Canadian Permanent Resident Status Renewal Plan. She found a deal online to fly from Chengdu to Vancouver for only 2,066 Yuan, instead of the normal 8,000-10,000 Yuan. It was quite controversial for her to come during this global COVID pandemic, but it was a deal she didn’t want to pass. Mom was blessed to land in Vancouver safely. The trip from the airport to the ferry terminal was stressful because her flight was delayed and it was the last ferry back to the island. Anyway, it all worked out and we are now home safe and sound.

Tomorrow we start our 14-day mandatory quarantine.

Mom’s back. Jan. 29, 2021

Hanlon’s Razor

When Dee and I collaborated on our presentation last week about Attilaism, he shared a book named The Great Mental Models by Shane Parrish. At the end of our session, Gabriel mentioned about the Hanlon’s Razor. I asked what it was about. Gabriel went on to explain the razor and pointed out that it’s in The Great Mental Models book. After the meeting, I started reading about the Hanlon’s Razor and could hardly put down the book.

Here is what I learned from the book about Hanlon’s Razor:

  • Hanlon’s Razor states that we should not attribute to malice that which is more easily explained by stupidity. In a complex world, using this model helps us avoid paranoia and ideology. By not generally assuming that bad results are the fault of a bad actor, we look for options instead of missing opportunities.
  • Failing to prioritize stupidity over malice causes things like paranoia. Always assuming malice puts you at the center of everyone else’s world. This is an incredibly self-centered approach to life. In reality, for every act of malice, there is almost certainly far more ignorance, stupidity, and laziness.
  • When we assume someone is out to get us, our very natural instinct is to take actions to defend ourselves. It’s harder to take advantage of, or even see, opportunities while in this defensive mode because our priority is saving ourselves—which tends to reduce our vision to dealing with the perceived threat instead of examining the bigger picture.
  • Ultimately, Hanlon’s Razor demonstrates that there are fewer true villains than you might suppose—what people are is human, and like you, all humans make mistakes and fall into traps of laziness, bad thinking, and bad incentives. Our lives are easier, better, and more effective when we recognize this truth and act accordingly.

My own interpretation: it’s like, when someone cuts you off in traffic, you don’t assume that the other driver is a bad person. S/he could be under a lot of pressure or rush to get somewhere.

I can’t wait to read the rest of this book!

Goldstream Gold Mine

For our weekend hike this week, we went exploring at Goldstream Gold Mine. Ever since we walked the Copper Mine Trail at the East Sooke Regional Park last year, Griffin has been wanting to check out another mine/cave. While we were brainstorming where to go for this hike, we quickly realized the Goldstream Gold Mine was our destination.

The kids had a great time. It was a fairly easy hike. At points, the trail became narrow and the drop was quite steep. Other than that, it was all good. We found the gold mine and went into it a bit. Quickly determined that it was too creepy to go further. On our way back we were feeling adventurous and explored the trail to the Hidden Spring Falls. We didn’t find the Falls, but ended up walking on the train track for a while. Great hiking spot. Highly recommended. We had our secret hiking buddies with us, but it’s COVID pandemic super lock down time, so we won’t talk about that.

Holly checking out the beginning of the trail.
Misty turns.
The Goldstream Goal Mine and three amigos.
Plaque #1
Cool trees
Plaque #2
The kids love walking on train tracks.
On the way back.
What we covered.

Appreciating, Analyzing and Applying Attilaism

Dee and I delivered a fun leadership session tonight on understanding the content from the Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun book by Wess Roberts. We collaborated throughout December to brainstorm ideas, design and send out surveys, collect survey responses, analyze them, match members’ submissions to book chapters and share our analyses back with the group. It was a rewarding collaboration with Dee. I learned a lot both from Dee and throughout the process.

I felt good finishing the presentation tonight. Normally, I would celebrate by having a beer and watching some sports. However, for some strange reasons, I went straight back to the books and the content we discussed. There is so much to learn and know. Dee and other group members are such intelligent people. Perhaps this is the effect of surrounding myself with smart people.

Onward and upward.

Ask for More

I have been reading the Ask for More – 10 Questions to Negotiate Anything book by Alexandra Carter. My mentor, John, shared it with me last year when we were preparing for a leadership session on negotiations. John also introduced me to a podcast called, Learning Leaders with Ryan Hawk. Ryan’s podcast with Alex Carter was what drew me to buy the book.

Carter’s book shares a two-part approach to negotiate: Part One is called The Mirror, and Part Two is called The Window.

I just finished the first part, The Mirror, which was about asking myself the five questions to better understand my own mindset and environment before the negotiation. The skill of negotiations has been highlighted for me by numerous people now. I’m hoping to learn more about it and be a better negotiator/communicator.

I’ll share some of the highlights I enjoyed in the book later this week.

What You Become

I’ve been going to the gym in the morning on work weeks for about three years now. Recently, I’ve developed a ritual where I listened to something motivational during my 10-minute warmup on a cardio machine, before hitting weights. Thanks to Spotify, I get a plethora of motivational speeches. They are short and sweet. Usually 8-12 minutes. Perfect for waking me up, getting me pumped and psyched for the day/workout.

This morning’s listen was from Jim Rohn’s Psychology of Wealth Thinking. It resonated with me so well that I listened to it a couple of times. Here are the lines that stood out for me and made me ponder for the rest of the day.

  • Here is the big challenge of life: you can have more than you’ve got because you can become more than what you are. The other side of the coin reads, unless you change how you are, you will always have what you’ve got.
  • Income does not far exceed personal development.
  • Success is something you attract, not something you pursue.
  • Success is looking for a good place to stay, so instead of going after it, you work on yourself.
  • The major question to ask on the job is not what are you getting. The major question to ask on the job is what are you becoming.
  • The big question is not what am I getting paid here. The big question is what am I becoming here.
  • Because true happiness is not contained in what you get. Happiness is contained in what you become.

The question of the day was, what am I becoming?

Serena the Dancer

I’m very proud of my 7-year-old daughter.

Serena is working on a Flexibility Progress Program as part of her dance program with Dansko. The FPP consists of three stretches (right splits, left splits, and straddle splits), and little dancers have to hold each stretch for three minutes every day for 31 days. She forgot to stretch the night before. After I tucked her in bed, she remembered she didn’t stretch and got up wanting to stretch. I told her it’s too late, and it’s more important that she gets a good night of rest and we would do double stretches tomorrow.

The next morning, I went on my daily routine – hitting the gym at 6:30am. On my way back around 7:45, I figured I would ask Anya to remind Serena to stretch in the morning, just if she has time, to make up for the session we forgot yesterday. Anya told me on the phone that Serena had already done that before Anya even got up. When I got home, Serena told me excitedly that she woke up at 6:19am and couldn’t got back to sleep, so she brushed her teeth, washed her face, stretched and read her book until mom got up to make breakfast.

I was so proud tears almost rolled out of my eyes.

Micro-Habits from Parmar

This article popped up in my feeds today:

20 Realistic Micro-Habits to Live Better Every Day:

Author Amardeep Parmar offered 20 micro-habits for us to live a little better every day. He drew on the research by BJ Fogg in “Tiny Habits” and the Japanese concept of Kaizen. It’s a pretty good list. The following is a list I enjoyed:

  • #1 – Lie on your back and hang your head and shoulders off the bed for up to two minutes.
  • #5 – Balance on one leg when brushing your teeth in the morning and the other leg in the evening.
  • #6 – Make sure your butt goes to the back of anywhere you sit.
  • #8 – Follow the 20-20-20 rule (Set a timer for every 20 minutes to look away from a screen for 20 seconds at an object 20 feet away.)
  • #11 – Always eat before you go shopping.
  • #13 – Drink water before you eat.
  • #14 – Leave a glass of water by your bed when you sleep.
  • #18 – No screens while eating.

Some of these are so good I might try them myself.

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