Under my umbrella, ella, ella, eh, eh, eh

That’s not my LSS, though I can’t help but think of Rihanna’s song when I hear the title “The Umbrella Academy

Nope, my current LSS is actually They Might Be Giants’ cover of “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” thanks to Episode 1 of this awesome Netflix Original Series.

“The Umbrella Academy” is based on Gerard Way’s Eisner Award-winning comic book series. Way is more popularly known as the former lead vocalist of My Chemical Romance. Here’s a great interview published by The New York Times, where Way talks about how he ended up writing the comic book series.

“My initial inspiration was a few different things. I had been such a fan of the Marvel Silver Age, and I grew up reading Chris Claremont’s X-Men. Marvel characters had a lot of issues and problems, but I wanted to give them deeper, more complex problems. I was also reading Hellboy by Mike Mignola, and to me that was a postmodern horror comic. There was nothing like that for superheroes. I usually try to make things that I wish existed that I would want to listen to or read.”

Super. Dysfunctional. Family. Yup, that’s “The Umbrella Academy”.

The future according to Chinese science fiction

I’m halfway through “The Three-Body Problem” — the first book in Cixin Liu’s Remembrance of Earth’s Past science fiction trilogy — and it really lives up to the hype.

Looking forward to finishing it and exploring the works of other Chinese science fiction writers.

Here’s an excellent article on the new wave of Chinese science fiction.

“‘Some people have this sense that technology is something non-human or even inhuman. Something totally alien from us,’ Xia Jia said in an interview from Xi’an.

“Her work questions this idea. A company may have invented a robot nanny, yet the grandpa in her story bends the machine to his will — to care for his family.

“Neither entirely optimistic or pessimistic about technology, like many of her peers, Xia Jia captures its effect on Chinese society in transition and the traces of adaptation in everyday life — ‘the ideas and practices created by ordinary persons’.”

In between places, dreaming of secret spaces

I have always been in between places, and in between days.

I can certainly relate to what Haruki Murakami’s Danish translator Mette Holm was saying in this sequence in “Dreaming Murakami“.

But I think we need to find a way to translate the moments of our lives into something meaningful.

To embrace and accept everything that we experience, whether good or bad.

It’s the journey, not the destination, and I’m glad I’m traveling through life with my wife Ellen and daughter Sam, one day at a time.

The spirit of the Mediterranean

The Cafe Mediterranean is one of our favorite restaurants, from the time my wife Ellen and I were still dating.

Apart from the great food (my favorite dish is Shish Taouk, the marinated chicken shish kebab), I love their decor. I was fortunate to visit Istanbul almost 18 years ago, and brought home some Iznik tiles, though just small pieces being sold in the Grand Bazaar.

What is the Zen mindset?

Can you look at things as if seeing them for the very first time?

I often say that I’m just being Zen about things, or, maybe more accurately, Zen AF. Just getting through today’s horrible Friday night traffic required being Zen. And I’m not even home yet as I write this.

But what exactly is a Zen mindset?

Here’s what an article in Psychology Today has to say about it:

“With a Zen mindset, you can allow your thoughts, feelings, and perceptions to be what they are without judgment. Circumstances and situations are just occurrences that mean nothing until we place our own subjective ideas and emotions onto them. How we choose to focus our attention shapes how we experience a given situation. We must invite our thoughts and feelings to the forefront so we can learn from their wisdom. This is very different from suppressing them or impulsively reacting to them.”

It’s easier said than done, but a Zen mindset is something we can all aspire to.

So, yes, I’m being Zen. Zen AF, but still Zen.

The magic of Stockholm’s Science Fiction Bokhandeln

All roads lead to Gamla stan (Old Town) whenever my daughter Sam and I accompany my wife Ellen on her business trips to Sweden.

And that always includes a visit to one of our favorite bookstores in the whole world, Science Fiction Bokhandeln at Västerlånggatan (Western Long Street) 48.

Sam and I discovered this awesome bookshop during the first time we accompanied my wife in 2014. Since then, it’s become a tradition for us to go there whenever we’re in Stockholm. This photo is from last year’s trip.

How about you, what are some of your favorite bookstores?

Live in the moment

Things will change.

This is a great reminder. I follow Joshua Becker on Twitter and regularly read his Becoming Minimalist blog, and his post “Everything Could Change Tomorrow” really struck a chord.

“If life is good, count your blessings, be thankful, and enjoy the moments—every single one of them. Slow down, take a deep breath, and savor this season as best you can.

“If, on the other hand, your life is not in a good place, take heart, because change is coming. As the seasons change, so does life. Value love, faith, and hope. Find peace to accept the things you cannot change and courage to change the things you can. But through it all, remember, this is only a season. Things will change, they always do.”

Whether good or bad things are happening, let’s remember to live in the moment. I know, it’s also a hard lesson for me to learn, but it’s something we have to accept.

Things will change.

Why great companies fail to innovate

Clayton Christensen’sThe Innovator’s Dilemma” is arguably the most important and influential book on innovation.

Contrary to what some of us might believe, when market leaders fail, it isn’t necessarily because these companies are badly managed. The irony is that more often than not, the same sound management principles that lead to an incumbent company’s success are what cause it to fail in the face of disruptive technologies.

Mainstream organizations are great when it comes to creating sustaining innovations — incremental improvements to existing products and processes — but fail miserably in embracing disruptive innovations.

As Christensen put it:

 “What this implies at a deeper level is that many of what are now widely accepted principles of good management are, in fact, only situationally appropriate. There are times at which it is right not to listen to customers, right to invest in developing lower-performance products that promise lower margins, and right to aggressively pursue small, rather than substantial, markets.” 

“The Innovator’s Dilemma” seems to explain why it’s impossible for big companies to “think like a startup”. The better route seems to be to spin off a smaller company from the mainstream organization, so that it will not be constrained by the processes and values of the incumbent. This would explain the trend of conglomerates spinning off their own startups focused on disruptive innovations and new markets.

What other books on innovation would you recommend?