TED rule 10

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Since last week in Bengkulu, I drove the crazy roads of Sumatra to finally reach Java and Jakarta after 4 days. But I arrived too late to extend my visa so I had to leave the country and flight to Kuala Lumpur. But good news, I have good access to internet and a bit of time to work on all the things I wanted to do. You can already see some pictures and even sounds on Mister Jo’s Facebook, and I started to work on the blog I promised you last week – does Mister Jo’s mysterious quest sounds like a good name for it? Do you have better ideas?

You’re also going to see some changes on the design of this blog, based on the recommendations you sent me (and thank you for that!). Of course I’m still following the previous TED rules, and I’m thinking about the best way to use them on my different projects. I’m talking especially about the rule 7 and its 5 secrets to happiness:  Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning and Give, and the last TED rule on how story telling can change the world.

So I was thinking about that when I watched the last talk from Chris Anderson, the curator of TED:

Why do people like watching TED talks? All those ideas are already out there in print, it’s actually faster to read than to view, why would someone bother? Well it’s showing instead of telling. But even leaving the screen out of it, there’s still a lot more being transferred than just words. It’s in that non verbal portion, that’s some serious magic.[…] Face to face communication has been fine tuned by millions of years of evolution, that’s what made it into this mysterious powerful it is. Someone speaks, there’s resonance in all these receiving brains, the whole group acts together, I mean this is the communicating tissue of the human superorganism, it has probably driven our culture for millenia. […] It’s not too much to say that what Gutenberg did on writing, online video can now do for face to face communication. So that primal medium which your brain is exquisitely wired for, that just went global. Now this is big!

So yes, online videos are a better way to learn and connect. And if I create and upload videos myself I have to take notice (while filming), be active and give (share), while telling stories. All those rules at once! Happiness coming!

What I’m excited about, or what I think is underreported is the significance of the rise of online video. This is the technology that’s going to allow the rest of the world’s talents to be shared digitally, thereby launching a whole new cycle of crowd accelerated innovation

This is my 10th TED rule: I will film, edit and upload videos. More specifically, I want to share some of the small practical things I learn during my journey: I’m starting a series of short How To videos on my brand new youtube account.

Here is the first one from Mentawai: How To put loincloth. I’m starting in the world of video making so please give me advice and feedback!


TED rule 8

Siberut, Mentawai islands, West Sumatra

I’m on a remote island, 10 hours boat from the world. It’s beautiful, or at least I imagine. And I don’t have access to internet. Well, to be honest I’m not sure… So I’m writing this short 8th TED rule from Padang on Thursday, just before taking the boat. And hopefully it will be published on Monday, as usual.

Today, it’s time for a wow talk recommended by my friend Lucy. Not much to say to introduce Caroline Casey, just watch her:

C’est ici pour la version francaise

I have learn cars and motorbike and elephants, that’s not freedom. Beeing absolutely totally yourself is freedom. I never needed eyes to see. I simply needed vision and belief. And if you truly believe, and I mean believe from the bottom of your heart, you could make change happen. And we need to make it happen.

I don’t ride elephant but a motorbike. I’m not either an Irish woman, and I’m not blind. But I hope I will reach the same conclusion as her. This TED rule is simple: I’ll use this TED talk again at the end of my trip.


TED rule 6

Medan, Indonesia

I finally managed to escape Kuala Lumpur and its physically exhausting nightlife, I left my great friends, my beautiful motorbike – still for sale! – and flied to Medan, Indonesia. I then looked around to buy a motorbike, not so easy when you’re not Indonesia resident, and rested, waiting for the week-end to end and the shops to open again. Hopefully by the time you read this post I’m riding to Toba Lake and new adventures!
In Medan, I’m learning to respond to all the friendly “Hey Mister!” coming every 10 minutes from smiling kids, taxi drivers or any people in the street. In 3 days I haven’t seen any foreigner, which can explain also all the astonished looks I get, but hey, I feel like a star! Many come spontaneously to help me translate to Indonesian, to give directions or just to talk a little bit in English, when they can. And to really feel this country I decided I really need to speak the Indonesian language (Bahasa Indonesia), and quickly. I have an assimil method, I also use free software to remember the words, but that’s not fast enough, and that’s not fitting my way of learning. Then I remembered Tim Ferriss, an impressive guy who, you can imagine, gave a TED talk.
Tim Ferriss was born in 1977, in 2001 he founded a sport nutrition supplement company, brain QUICKEN, sold it in 2009, and he is now an angel investor for companies like twitter or stumbleupon. He also gained a Guiness record for the most consecutive tango spins in 1 minute, he became national champion of Sanshou (chinese kick boxing), wrote 2 best sellers (“the 4 hour workweek” and “the 4 hour body”), had a show on history channel, and, that’s the worst, he is quite good looking.
I first stumbled upon Tim after the publication of his first book: “The 4-hour workweek, escape 9-5, live anywhere, and join the new rich”, in a google video. It was the first time I was watching a video about productivity by someone else than an old teacher, and I was impressed. So there were methods to learn and work more effectively? He got me and I started to follow blogs and videos about the subject. And 4 years after, I can tell  it worked!
As you’re going to see in the TED talk, Tim applies 2 main ideas:

  • The Pareto Principle: “For many events, 80% of the effect come from 20% of the cause”, and  “focus one’s attention on those 20% that contribute to 80% of the income”
  • The Parkinson’s law: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion” or how Tim turns it: “The perceived complexity of a task will expand to fill the time you allowed for it”

So when you have a task to complete – or something new to learn, deconstruct it, look at the 20% you have to do and allow you only a short deadline. Then you’ll be effective.

You now understand, I’m interested in the 2nd part of his talk. And here is my TED rule 6: I’ll learn bahasa Indonesia, and maybe the other languages I’m going to need (Taralog for Philipinnes, Mandarin for China…)
Now you can stop reading, or if you’re interested by Tim’s method to learn effectively a new language you can continue after the jump, I’m going to summarize it. If you’re really interested I recommend switching directly to his blog Here or Here.

Read the rest of this entry »

TED rule 5

Still in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Fifth week on my TED rules project, I discover that following the TED rules is not difficult if you don’t forget the details. I’m talking especially of Stefan Sagmeister in my TED rule 2. His vision of taking a sabbatical is clearly an excellent idea, but I neglected his advice on having a school-like agenda during the year. So I spent the full week partying with good friends in Kuala Lumpur… too bad! Of course I still follow all the TED rules, creating one new rule every week, keeping track of my time and expenses (you can even check how the spreadsheet evolved in a party sheet) and eating no junk, less meat and more vegetables. But now it’s time for me to go on, and I’ll be continuing my Asia motorbike tour this week. Bybye friends and tigers, next step is Medan, Indonesia!
For this week rule I wanted to call the great Hans Rosling, a Swedish medical doctor, academic, statistician and an excellent public speaker. With 8 TED talks he is one of the pillars of TED. His presentations are not only fun to watch, but based on strong science and data and coupled with innovative technology (Gapminder, go and try it!) they changed my vision of the world. Or as he says himself in a TED Talk:

Once upon a time (…) I was a student at saint john’s general hospital in Bangalore. I was a guest student during 1 month of a public health course. And that changed my mindset forever. The course was good, but it wasn’t the course content in itself that changed the mindset. it was the brutal realization the first morning that the indian students were better than me. (…) That personal experience was the first time in my life that the mindset I was living with was changed. And I realized that perhaps the western world will not continue to dominate the world forever. And I think many of you have the same sort of personal experience.

I must say I had the same kind of experience, and his first TED talk helped me figure out how the vision of the world I learnt at school is outdated… Anyway today let’s look at his last published TED talk about washing machine:

No, for this week TED rule I’m not going to attach a washing machine to my motorbike and provide free laundry services in the remote places I’m going to (even if I though about it). Ironically I’m following an advice from an other of his talk:

It’s that realization of someone you meet that really meant to change the idea about the world, it’s not the statistics.

I have the opportunity to travel and meet a lot of people during this year, and I can share it with you. And one of the best (and less boring – for you) way I know is to take pictures. I enjoy shooting face portraits, because a glance is easily powerful, and focusing on face is a good way to start learning about photography. For this week rule I decided to take one step behind – and switch to wide-angle lens – to show not only the people I meet, but also the way they live. I’ll  try to take pictures as representative as possible of what I see during my trip. I already started, although I’m not so happy with the first shots, not so easy to switch to wide-angle! You can see the result on the “one step behind” set on flickr, I’ll update it and post more and more pictures. Next ones will be from Sumatra!

Have a good week.

TED rule 3

Georgetown, Malaysia,

I was preparing the TED rule 3 during the past week, but my computer died. Hopefully I had a backup plan, thanks to Gary Wolf. Gary writes in Wired magazine, and co-founded the Quantified Self blog, “Self knowledge through numbers”. The blog and its community is interested in self tracking devices and projects, mostly in the health domain. If you want to know if standing on one leg improve your sleep or if butter improve cognition, just have a look.

As we can expect from a geeky wired writer, his talk focuses more on the technological improvements of the self-tracking devices. But the main idea is there: starting a self tracking system is a first step to self improvement, self discovery, self awareness and self knowledge. And as Gary also says:

If we want to act more effectively in the world, we got to know ourselves better.

On my side, I started the TED rule 2 last week: I am now living on a motorbike, traveling in Malaysia, and I have only the essential stuff in my bag. No high tech sleep tracking device or weighing machine. But following the advices of A.J. Jacobs, I consider this year as an opportunity to try all the little experiments I cannot do during a normal working year. So let’s do it!

After thinking about it, I want to track several things:

  • About my trip, as a way to remember/summarize/communicate. And as a source of information about Asia and traveling in Asia . For example I’ve been asked many times about my budget plan for this year, or the number of kilometers I was going to ride. Or how much sun block I’m going to use…
  • About my behavior when I have no specific constraints. In last week talk, Stefan Sagmeister was showing his weekly agenda, looking like a high school plan. I prefer to let me free of doing what I want – when I want, and tracking my time for interpretation and correction looks like my way to proceed.

I started a Quantified Mister Jo spreadsheet with simple markers: What I do, when, where, and how much it costs. This is the raw data, I will interpret them and make some nice graphs and charts later – maybe using another TED talk? I started the expense part first, and added the time/action later (which explain the gap for the 2 first days). Prices are in Malaysian Ringgit (1 Euro=4MYR). It may not be reader-friendly yet, but the raw data are there! Again, I will change the design, and I want to add at least one more marker: what I have/add/remove from my bag (RPG-like). Tell me if you have other (easy) ideas!

For now, keeping this info updated hasn’t been as painful as I though, sometimes it’s even fun! And I can feel it already impacted my behavior. But let’s wait some weeks before some real interpretations!

Have a nice week!

TED rule 2

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia,

Second Monday of my project, second TED rule. This week I’m using Stefan Sagmeister, a creative and successful New York-based graphic designer and typographer. You certainly know him for some CD cover or books, you can check his website or wikipedia page for more details.

In his TED talk “The power of time off”, Stefan explains how free time is beneficial for any creative work. From the Google 20% time rule, very popular projects like gmail or google map have emerged; or more recently Google staff are using their 20% time to help Japan after the disaster. But Stefan’s vision is a bit different. Looking at a larger time scale, he prefers to take a sabbatical year every seven years.

As I realized, just like many many things in my life that I love, I adapt to it and I get bored by them; our work start to look the same. Every 7 years I close my studio for 1 year to pursue some little experiment things that are difficult to accomplish during the regular working year.

His conclusions are great!

  • My job became a calling again
  • It was very enjoyable
  • Over the long term it was financially successful
  • Everything we designed in the seven years following the first sabbatical, had originated in that year

I don’t have exactly the same kind of job, but I decided to give it a try. And anyway that’s the idea of this blog! This is my TED rule number 2: I quit my job, and I’m taking a sabbatical year. How exciting is that!

Now I need to tell you a bit more about myself. I’m a geologist, I (was) work(ing) for a software company in the oil & gas industry. I had a great time during 6 years, traveling and living around the world, meeting interesting people, working on exciting high-tech projects. My last place of work was Kuala Lumpur, and -like Stefan- I really enjoyed Asia. So I’ll spend my sabbatical traveling around Asia. On a motorbike.

Stefan explains how his first sabbatical failed. “Without a plan I just reacted to little requests…”. This is exactly why I’m writing this blog right now, the TED Rules project will help me structure my year and improve and rediscover myself , little by little.  It will also impact the other exciting projects I’m doing: a portrait blog of the people I’ll meet, a flickr account for the other pictures and a facebook public page for a more general view of my trip. So I’m quite organized, I already have a plan for some parts and this project will add some organized chaos I need to live! Again referring to Stefan, my main goal for this trip is to take the time for all the experiments I cannot do during a regular working year, from creativity, interactivity, ethics, global thinking… Wow by chance (!?) it looks like the TED themes…

See you next week for more!

Mister Jo

TED Rule 1

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Hello world,

I’m a big fan of TED talks, the talks by clever people on “Ideas worth spreading”. If you don’t know TED, I can only recommend to have a look at TED.com and look at some of the most popular videos.

So I watched most of them, often getting inspired and wanting to do something about it on my own. After watching A.J. Jacobs’ year of living biblically, I got the idea. A.J. Jacobs is a journalist who likes to immerse himself into his topics, like a human guinea pig, and write about it. In My outsourced life, he decided to hire a team in Bangalore, India, to take care of every part of his life- from reading his emails to arguing with his wife to reading bedtime stories to his own son. In I Think You’re Fat, he chronicled an attempt to live his life in Radical Honesty, telling all the truth, all the time. And in this talk, he explains how he lived one year following all the rules from the bible.

“I cannot believe how much my behavior changes my thoughts […]. I almost pretended to be a better person and I became a little bit of a better person”

I decided to do (almost) the same: During one year, I will choose a TED talk every week, summarize its conclusions and apply them as rules to myself. Each new TED rule will add to the old ones, so at the end of the year I should follow 52. I will use this blog to present the talk of the week, how I applied it and how it impacted my life. Well, at least for the beginning: you can expect the blog to change in form as I respect more and more TED rules.

Regarding the quality of the TED talks, this experience can only be beneficial. And anyway, I’m the one choosing the rules! But feel free to influence me and send me some recommendations.

See you next week!

Mister Jo