Geeking out on Startups, Gaming, Food & Philosophy

Anti Fragile - Local Edition

In these tough times, I hear a lot of people talking about grit and resilience. That it's important to hang in there and tough it out.

But I think it takes more than toughness to thrive in crisis.

It takes being Anti-fragile.

To explain this concept, imagine a glass bottle falling on the floor. It breaks. It's fragile.

A piece of rock falls on the same floor. It doesn't break. Is it anti-fragile?


The opposite of fragile - breaking easily, is not that you don't break when force is applied, but that you get better when pressured.

Nassim Taleb describes this concept in a great book(Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder) which I think is particularly important in these times. "Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and love adventure, risk, and uncertainty. Yet, in spite of the ubiquity of the phenomenon, there is no word for the exact opposite of fragile. Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better"

Perhaps a more local example will help us understand this concept.

A piece of roti-canai dough is pounded on over and over and over again. With each knead, and pound the dough gets better and better. Finally it's flipped and stretched out, over and over again as thinly as possible until you're left with the lightest, tastiest dish that's a favourite amongst Malaysians.

Roti Canai is a local example of anti-fragile.

So the next time you feel the pain of the pounding or stretching process, consider how these could affect you the way it affects Roti Canai - making you better and better with every single flip/stretch. Don't just be a rock. Be like Roti Canai.


Our one short life

"I love you guys"

An unexpected message shot across my phone screen from a close friend. What sparked the random expression of a deep emotion, I wondered.

"A close relative just got cancer. Brain. Stage 4"

My heart sank.

Feelings of injustice and sadness overwhelmed me. What else can you feel, when a 45 year old is handed a card like this.

2020 has been a year of many such reminders.

Kobe, 41. Chadwick, 43.

Some would make a case for living unabashedly and with no regrets - the YOLO movement.

Others would remind us of the importance of thoughtful, measured planning.

Is there a way to walk the tightrope of life holding both of these in perfect balance?

Would we find ourselves content living our one short life without an episode 2 lingering at the end of the white light?

Perhaps we've gotten our spirituality wrong.

Perhaps our beliefs were never meant to give us all the answers.

Perhaps they were always meant to simply help us walk each step confidently and with abandon, even as we wrestle with these impossible questions in our one short life.



When most of us talk about permanent markers, we rarely describe them as such. We simply call them Sharpies.

There comes a point where your brand is synonymous with the action/group of things it represents.

Post its

All these brands started out as company names that became so popular in mainstream culture that they ended up being the very definition of the act/product they represent.

But they didn't get there without any effort.

I've used many other permanent markers before. But they are far inferior to the Sharpie.

They are not as reliable.
They dry out too fast.
They don't feel as comfortable in the hands.
They're too thick or too thin.
They're just not as excellent as Sharpie..

What are you doing to become more reliable, comfortable, excellent today?


The misunderstood story of the Hare vs Tortoise

We all know the classic story.

Hare vs Tortoise. Slow and steady wins the race.

But that's not what really happens here.

The emphasis on slowness and steadiness camouflages the true lesson within: focus.

I love how this video shows the hare getting distracted by the spotlight and its surroundings while the tortoise zeroes in on its goal.

How often do we find ourselves distracted in our pursuits only to find that the one who wins simply didn't give up on that one thing.

It's not about how fast or slow or steady or unsteady.

It's really about a relentless pursuit of one thing that gets us across the finish line.


Knowing your season

Competitive gamers know that winning a game requires us to understand the seasons and match our actions accordingly.

In most games, it's as simple as the early, mid and late phases.

Each of these phases would require a different playbook - a set of rules and principles which help you build an advantage over your opponents.

By applying the right mindset and executing according to the season, you eventually build enough of an advantage to drive forward a victory.

In business, or life, this same principle works.

But one big difference is that it's much harder to tell the season outside of the simpler confines of a game. There's no timer. No hero levelling system. No bounties and towers and objectives to reference.

But the signs are there. When we see the leaves turn yellow. When the wind starts to feel that slight bit colder. When the sun sets that little bit earlier.

It's probably why listening is one of our most valuable skills. Or simply our ability to observe and process little details in our surroundings. But for those of us that master even portions of this, we find success comes somewhat predictably in those portions of life.

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