Today Chris is:

…in the old town of Hoi An in Vietnam. As I sat down for a cup of coffee in the cafe, a wedding photographer and the couple arrived, they used the backdrop for their couple shots and it seemed a shame not to capture the events as they unfolded. Sometimes the the photo comes to you if you wait long enough. 

Today Chris is:

…supporting Jitka who is pitching our startup Impact Explorer at Pitch@Palace in Bangkok. This was probably the biggest screen I’ve ever seen. One of the other team members whispered to me ‘…and we were worried about our font size being a bit small !’. 

Sadly we didn’t win, but as ever we learnt a whole lot more. The Prince has since resigned in this role. 

Today Chris is:

…taking a cold stroll around the shores of Lake Lucerne. After the International Tourism Conference we had some time to catch up with friends. 

Today Chris is:

…taking a cold stroll around the shores of Lake Lucerne. After the International Tourism Conference we had some time to catch up with friends. 

Today Chris is:

…making a very very brief trip to London to catch up on all those chores. Still had chance to take this shot though.

Today Chris is:

…flying out of Kuala Lumpur on the way home. You can just see the twin towers below the cloud.

Today Chris is:

…in Melaka in Malaysia.

I absolutely loved the old shop houses, with the two sections bringing the outside into the inside. This one had been converted into an art gallery and I love the distressed paintwork on the walls and then the open hanging garden. I’d definitely like to live in one of these. 

Today Chris is:

…on Tioman Island in the South China Sea, just off the east coast of Malaysia.

This was the sunrise side of the island. 

Today Chris is:

…in Ho Chi Minh city on the MIST startup week.

Met some truly wonderful people doing awesome things.

Today Chris is:

…in the mountains of Tam Dao, Vietnam, where its really cold and misty. The town is almost empty.

Today Chris is:

…in Hanoi, Vietnam. Sneakily taking photo’s of the bride while the ‘real’ photographer isn’t looking.

Today Chris is:

…in Halong Bay, Vietnam. An awesome trip, swimming, sailing, kayaking and generally taking in the awesome scenery. Definitely a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

Today Chris is:

…in Ho Chi Minh City, formally Saigon. Taking a series of Polaroid photos for this trip.

How to increase productivity with Noisli

My Morning Routine

 

 

What is your morning routine?

I wake up at 5:00am on most days during the week, 6am on the others.. I have a glass of water and at least two coffees.
My partner refers to my morning routine as my ‘huffing and faffing’ time. I see it as an opportunity to plan the day and get ahead. It’s an opportunity to be half a day ahead of everyone else as they get into the office at nine. My mornings are about planning the rest of the day and getting something significant done.
Most days I will try to get out and do some exercise, I find it’s really the only good time to motivate myself to do something energetic. I love the freedom of running. It’s incredibly difficult in Phnom Penh as there’s hardly any space.
I spend an hour or so writing Morning Pages in my Journal, expressing gratitude, capturing my mood, my plans and my aspirations. Journalling was something I picked up in 2013 after being given and reading the book The Artists Way at Work. Of all the exercises the book offered, that one stuck.
I’ll try to get in 15 minutes meditation and then I get to work planning the day. This involves reading the e-mail highlights but generally not replying. I action some of the small tasks if I can, and then chunking up some of the bigger items. I will track and update progress and then move on to the bigger things. I’m generally quite hard on myself in terms of expectations of productivity.
I then take breakfast around seven, shower and out of the door by eight if I’m meeting clients, or sat at the desk in my home office.
I always try to make the bed before I leave the apartment. I see this as achieving a ‘small win’ early in the day.

 

How long have you stuck with this routine so far

I’ve been doing this morning routine since December 2012 when I travelled to Hawaii. The rare bout of jet-lag kept forced me up at 5am. I found myself so productive during these early morning hours that I continued it during my stay and then reproduced the same environment when I got back to the UK.

 

How has your morning routine changed over recent years?

It’s remained pretty much constant, there are slight variations on what I do, dependent on where I am in the world, and I always said I wouldn’t read my e-mail first thing, but in terms of planning the day and knowing what’s happening with various clients its important to get an overview even if I don’t reply to the emails until later.

 

What time do you go to sleep?

I try to be in bed by 11 at the latest. I’ve learnt that good sleep is so important. My head generally hits the pillow and I’m out like a light.

 

Do you do anything before going to bed to make your morning easier?

No, not really. We do a 10minute abs workout in the evening. My partner is keen to keep a fitness routine in her life and she’s never one for doing things on her own.

 

Do you use an alarm to wake you up in the morning, and if so do you ever hit the snooze button?

My phone is set for the 5am early starts if it is dark outside. I’m a firm believer in being woken by the light. I worked with a client once who taught me about the benefits of being woken by the increase in light rather than the jolt of an alarm. I never hit the snooze button. My mind is way too active to go back to sleep.

 

How soon after waking up do you have breakfast, and what do you typically have?

I generally have breakfast around seven. It varies between green smoothies, croissants, or eggs. I love eggs, really love them, poached are my favourite.

 

Do you have a morning workout routine?

Not at the moment, but I’m trying the idea of getting out and running again. The roads are chaos here in Phnom Penh and it’s just too dangerous to run anywhere unless the roads are empty. There are no sidewalks/pavements and very little open space. In London, I run around Victoria Park and alongside the canal. There are many others doing the same.

 

Do you have a morning meditation routine?

Yes, I like to do 15 minutes. I used the Calm App to learn about meditation and love the falling rain sound. It reminds me of time in our cottage in Czech. Recently I’ve given Headspace a try and quite like this App too.

 

Do you answer email first thing in the morning, or leave it until later in the day?

I read the important headlines but don’t reply until later.

 

Do you use any apps or products to enhance your sleep or morning routine?

Being the minimalist, I tend not to clutter life with the unnecessary. There’s just the Calm App for meditation, (though I can do without it) and I’m briefly tried out Habit List to get me running again, but it failed miserably.

 

How soon do you check your phone in the morning?

Probably only before I leave the house or if I need to charge it. Thankfully I’ve not become one of the ever-increasing number of phone zombies. There are so many of them here in Asia.

 

What are your most important tasks in the morning?

Drink coffee, drink water, plan the day.

 

What and when is your first drink in the morning?

A glass of ice cold water, as soon as I wake up. Followed closely by black sweetened coffee.

 

Do you also follow this routine on weekends, or do you change some steps?

I don’t set an alarm for the weekends but still tend to wake with the light around six-ish. My partner used to be out of the door early on Saturday for art class and we swim first thing on Sunday mornings.

 

On days you’re not settled in your home, are you able to adapt your routine to fit in with a different environment?

It depends on where we are in the world, but generally, I stick to the same routine where possible. When we’re on holiday the exercise and breakfast timing may be influenced by our location.

 

What do you do if you fail to follow your morning routine, and how does this influence the rest of your day?

I’m a little obsessed by productivity, and I’m a firm believer that to fail to plan is a plan to fail. I find that the early morning is a chance to get ahead of the world and do stuff, while everyone else is still asleep. If I’ve achieved something significant in the morning, I feel so much better about myself.

 

The post  My Morning Routine, first appeared on the blog of Chris Wray. It was written on July 11, 2016 and then revised and published on September 26, 2017

Bangkok Thailand

Today Chris is:

… in Bangkok, Thailand. Appreciating the wonderful hospitality of the Thai people and loving the fact that we can walk places. ( The sidewalks/pavements are almost non-existent in our home town of Phnom Penh.

Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park

Today Chris is:

…in Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, sat on an empty beach.

Bohemian Switzerland National Park, Czechia

Today Chris is:

…hiking in the Bohemian Switzerland national park in Czechia.

Today Chris is:

…being taken to lunch by a client. I’m not sure I’m going to leave.

Today Chris is:

…watching the snow come down in Doubice, Czechia.

Today Chris is:

…eating Sticky Toffee Pudding in Totnes, Devon.

Today Chris is:

…in Burnham on Sea, Devon.

Today Chris is:

…in the East End of London

Disrupted, by Dan Lyons

This week I’ve been mainly…

Reading the book Disrupted by Dan Lyons.

Being of a fifty-something myself and having had my own year in startup hell. (Well I didn’t even make the year until I was fired, nicely.) This book was wonderful read, made all the more poignant and realistic by the fact I have seen some of this behaviour first hand.The book is a story of a fifty-something Dan ending up in HubSpot and essentially being driven mad by the idiots working there who mostly have no experience whatsoever and there’s certainly no evidence of any management going on. Its a great read about incompetence, madness and the whole get-rich-quick schemes being set up by investors. The drive behind all this is to squeeze out the cash in a business that doesn’t make profit by doing an IPO. All you have to do is drive hype and growth and not necessarily create what I ( or many others) would call a functional business. These Unicorns being all the rage, Salesforce and Twitter being others with massive valuations but no real longevity in terms of profit making.

What was most interesting was the twenty-somethings with no experience, churning out crap and actually believing their own bullshit. I see this first hand here in Cambodia. Here you are an ‘expert’, back home you’re a nobody. Partially one of the reasons that people actually get in this position, is that businesses themselves are so inexperienced at recruiting, they will take anyone who knows a few buzzwords and of course they are desperate and overloaded themselves. Better a bum in a seat who can do something, rather than no one at all.

I’ve seen people having never run businesses teaching the locals how to set up a business. I’ve the most appalling behaviour towards others in (even more) junior roles that frankly begs the question about their mental stability, and anything of a professional and mentally stimulating and challenging nature simply doesn’t happen here.

In linking this to Hubspot where the conversation about the Candy wall being totally lost on the young recipient when compared to actually paying a decent wage, the separation from reality is as much absent here as it is there.

However in true fun style, I now search the sender details of every Hubspot e-mail I receive. The book is right, 2 years out of college, 3 years out of college, 5 years out of college. Not a single person I looked at while searching the rank and file of the staff list on LinkedIn has more than five years in a job, any job.

Now you could argue, I’m just jealous. All that cash generated by a company, hundreds of millions. The shareholders and investors making a pretty penny. At some point though, this structure of marketing over substance is going to get found out, with the I told you so’s coming thick and fast.

A great read on Amazon.
The post  Disrupted by Dan Lyons, first appeared on the blog of Chris Wray.

Today Chris is:

…in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Going back to pick up the paintings I left behind on the last trip.

Swimming with turtles on Gili Air

As part of our recent travels we spent lots of time underwater. Either learning to dive, (we took our open water diving certification) or snorkeling off the many beaches. Whilst we did see more, and much bigger, turtles than the one in the short movie, when diving, this little one was quite at home on the reef opposite where we stayed. All we had to do was wade out into deeper water and there it would be. The first time we didn’t have the cheap Chinese Go-Pro with us, but the second time we were please to have caught this on film.

I’m really becoming far more comfortable in the water, I seem to have spent lots of time there in recent weeks. This has been a challenge of mine for the last three years. From having an anxious moment in the water one summer and then deciding to do something about it.

  • I took swimming lessons, and now swim around 30 laps of the pool every week.
  • We capsized our canoe in open seas, one of my nightmare scenarios, no life jackets. I survived of course and learnt that it wasn’t so bad after all.
  • Learned that having your air supply turned off underwater also isn’t so bad. A part of the PADI diving course.

All in all my love of the water has increased significantly. Its all part of the reprogramming my brain to re-learn that water isn’t the scary thing I’d been brought up to believe. I have my mother to thank for this, she is petrified of water, and many other things in the world.

The post  swimming with turtles on Gili Air, first appeared on the blog of Chris Wray.

 

Bali, Indonesia

Today Chris is:

…on Bali, Indonesia.

Gili Gede Island, Indonesia

Today Chris is:

…on Gili Gede Island, off the coast of Lombok in Indonesia.

Gili Meno Island

Today Chris is:

…on Gili Meno Island, Indonesia.

Rabbit Island off the coast of Kep in Cambodia

Today Chris is:

…on Rabbit Island, off the coast of Kep in Cambodia

Today Chris is:

…with Buddha staring out over Pakse in Laos.

Today Chris is:

…on the Bolaven Plateau in Laos with waterfalls and coffee plantations.

Today Chris is:

…watching the sunrise in Wat Phu, Laos.

Today Chris is:

…on one of the 4000 islands in Laos.

How to increase productivity with Noisli

How to increase productivity with Noisli.

Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed that I’m becoming more and more sensitive to noise. Obvious things like the chainsawing outside the apartment on Saturday you can understand, but I’ve also noticed that relatively quiet conversations in Impact Hub where I work are also distracting me.

When I work I like the environment to be ‘right’. This way I find getting into flow, much easier and as a consequence my productivity increases significantly. More and more often however, I’m finding that wearing headphones and drowning out the external noise seems to be the only way. Right now I’m in the co-working space and drowning out everything with Spotify’s Discover Weekly.

This morning I made one of those discoveries that just makes you jump for the ‘Buy’ button.

I’ve been a user of Noisli now and then. I love the sound of rain and thunder, either natural or through Calm, my go-to meditation app. Today on Noisli I just pushed the random ‘Relax’ button and was greeted by a combination of the rattle of a carriage over railway tracks and a really low bass hum from a fan. The hum was perhaps a little high and I did wonder at first if this was in the room. A tweak of the volume levels down and I think I’ve found the perfect environment for productivity. Now I know it said Relax and not Productivity but each to their own. The bass drowns out the low distraction and the railway track clatter provides that comforting sound that allows you to ignore the outside world until the frequency changes, which of course it doesn’t. The never-ending train ride.

So the temptation of having this on my iPhone was too good to miss, and £1.49 is hardly worth thinking about. The great thing is that when you sign up, the saved ‘combo’s’ sync between platforms.

So that’s how I’ve covered a good chunk of client work and came up with the idea for this post and it’s only just lunchtime. Productivity at its best.

For those who are interested, my combination of hum and railway tracks is available to other Noisli users here.

The post  How to increase your productivity with Noisli, first appeared on the blog of Chris Wray.

Today Chris is:

…watching the sunrise at Angkor Wat in Cambodia

Today Chris is:

…in Siem Reap, Cambodia

” The ignorant are arrogant and cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt ”

- Bertrand Russell

Today Chris is:

…playing with elephants in Mondulkiri, Cambodia. An unforgettable experience. They are just the most gentle and awesome creatures.

Today Chris is:

…in Tbilisi, Georgia for the first time. Talking pizza and IT.

Today Chris is:

…at the Czech cottage. The closest place to being home, complete with barbecue.

Professionalism and Respect

This week I’ve mainly been……

Thinking about professionalism and respect.

There’s very little of it here in Cambodia. It’s not a concept that has worked its way into the culture just yet. There are many reasons for this, education, language, and for the most part of a developing country, just not knowing what good looks like. It would therefore be easy to find yourself adopting some of this negative behavior and accepting that this is just the way it is. There’s an element of this certainly within the expat community.

But this is not an excuse. To me we should maintain professionalism and respect in everything we do. Just because someone else does something perhaps not normally acceptable, it is not a signal for us to copy that behavior. This week, I found myself becoming a little blase about some of the work I’d completed, and shocked myself when looking at the consequences.

Professionalism is a state of mind, as well as the actions to support it.

This is yet another one of those deep principles I’ve learnt since living here.

 

Today Chris is:

…on the island of Koh Rong Samloem, Cambodia.

Today Chris is:

…on his bike, cycling around Phnom Penh.

Kampot, Cambodia

Today Chris is:

…in Kampot, Cambodia

bokor mountain, Cambodia

Today Chris is:

…on the top of Bokor Mountain, Cambodia

Koh Mak Island, Thailand

Today Chris is:

…on Koh Mak Island, off the coast of Thailand. One of our favourite getaways.

Phnom Penh Art

Today Chris is:

…on the Phnom Penh Art Trail.

Digital Rain Home Page

Building Digital Rain

I’ve had this Digital Rain idea in my head for a couple of months. A social business allowing technology and online entrepreneurs to build their businesses. I feel there’s so much missed opportunity out there for the sake of a website and a few hundred/thousand dollars. I came up with this idea that we (I) could help support them with access to technology and business support and mentoring, such that they could help themselves. Not just this idea of a co-working hub, there’s enough of them, but somewhere they could get really experienced support and a structured business programme. Help from people who’ve done it before.

That’s the social side, the commercial and business side supports clients in small and medium-sized businesses with getting to grips with technology, process, training and the inevitable overlap with people. Both as users and as customers. As it would happen, the client pipeline took a sudden influx of proposal requests this week.

I love the logo and design of the new website.Not bad for just over a weeks work. Not a great deal to do with me I should say. All the talent of my better half and her awesome design skills.

We’re looking for interns and partners to help support the sudden influx of clients needing our online and technology services. So take a look at the bottom of the home page for details.

Building Digital Rain Jobs

There’s no real recruitment agencies here in Cambodia. The market operates on a small payment to get the job online and then basically potential candidates e-mail the address at the bottom of the ad. If the client or the candidate gets lucky, the client might get a half-reasonable resume, and the candidate might possibly get a response. They all seem to operate the same way. No surprise then, that finding good technical talent in Cambodia is incredibly hard.

I thought I’s have a go at what has become the norm in the UK and US where an agent goes in the middle, knows the market, and knows the candidate. They do all the leg work and as a consequence, if everything is done well, you get a happy client and a happy candidate that go on to have a lasting career together.

So, Digital Rain jobs has been launched as an idea, and I’m looking for a partner or someone to help on the recruitment and working with businesses side. I’ll concentrate on the technology and help out where possible. If this is you, please get in touch.

Why Roles and Responsibilities are so important

Sometimes when I work in consulting I worry that I’m starting to sound like a cracked record. Stuck saying the same thing over and over again. I’m working with a client who we’ve identified has having communication, responsibility and accountability problems on their projects. Issues spread all over the organisation from Sales to Customer Support. The root cause being that roles and responsibilities haven’t been defined such that everyone knows what they are doing and who they communicate to when things stop going to plan.

Such a simple thing to know who’s doing what and when, letting people know when they have problems and when they are finished. It’s not that simple though as the organisation grows, takes on more customers and the person you used to talk to for this sort of thing has grown into a department on another floor of the building. Growing pains as they call them, and typical of a startup turning into a medium-sized business.

Picking Up Asana again

Used Asana a few years ago before they implemented its new interface. I’m potentially picking this up again for a small client team of 10 people.I really love its’ clean interface, the speed of operation and the fact that its’ so intuitive. So much so that I started using it myself again. Albeit there’s a bit of an overlap in functionality with Insightly – see below. I still like the video though, OK, so I admit I’m just a little bit obsessed with productivity, but I do so wish my day ran like in the video.

Building Businesses and a Sales Pipeline with Insightly

Insightly

I’m at that envious point where I have many clients wanting the services I deliver.  I’m having to manage my own sales pipeline process and make sure I don’t lose any information, fail to follow up and consistently be on top of all the small details that go together in making a potential client feel like they can be completely comfortable with you looking after them.

Rather than put everything in another spreadsheet, a to-do list or Evernote ( even though I love Evernote) I thought I’d give Insightly a try. It’s another great tool with the same zero cost barrier to give it a good try before parting with a long term financial investment. Such a great model.

Anyway, its very early days, and I like it. I have three clients asking for proposals this week. I wonder if it was psychological or if Insightly really did help ? Why not give the trial a go for yourself.

The Inno-Tech Festival, Phnom Penh

2016-03-19 11.27.44

… and last but not least visiting the Inno-Tech Festival and meeting more of the local technology suppliers, hackers and entrepreneurs who are growing the technology sector in Cambodia. In general the display booths concentrating on infrastructure and websites. The complimentary Apps developers being ever present in growing numbers.

2016-03-19 10.58.51

There were a few surprises with Khmer ‘games’ I use that phrase loosely as Poker is probably not an area I should be promoting given the somewhat unpleasant and unregulated gambling industry here. I guess where there’s demand, supply in whatever form it takes won’t be far behind.

2016-03-19 11.14.19

The other surprise being pseudo payment systems and digital wallets. Again this is the ever present need for online payment, a real hurdle for online business here. I didn’t get chance to really dig into the details of the systems involved and if these are still only the half-way solutions. Sadly not all the stands were staffed with those who understood at the technical level. More for me to investigate later.

Then there was the drone. I’ve been interested in one of these for a long time, as a photographer I just love the views that stills and video could never achieve in the past. The inventor in this case trying to solve the need of the Cambodian market at a budget they can afford. I was wondering if that £1000 entry point barrier had been broken. Their ‘large’ model sells for $250 and runs for roughly twenty minutes. A battery costing $60. The camera is an extra, but given my still unused cheap Chinese Go-Pro copy lying as yet unused I think I could finally have a partner for it. They launch next week, and have a stall at the market not far from where I live. Definitely worth a second look.

Diamond island, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Today Chris is:

…on Diamond Island, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

An open letter to my CEO. Entitlement, struggle, the right thing or the wrong thing to do ?

A fascinating article I picked up when it was mentioned in the Fizzle.co podcast. The comments are as fascinating as the article. What is the real cause of a minimum wage job, is it just supply and demand ? Should we take more ownership for life, particularly when we’re young. Realising that actually it’s pretty hard starting out ? Are we blanketing millennials as having expectations that are just unrealistic ?

The worrying state of education

I met a really smart, well-qualified American this week, who kindly explained why he’s $200,000 in debt because he chose a good education.  One day, and he’s not sure when, when maybe he’s not earning the SE Asia salary, significantly below that of US levels, he  hopes to pay it all back.
I thought UK students had a hard time with their average £30-60,000 student loans, but this is just a ridiculous amount of debt to be in when you’re only just starting out on a career. Another fellow mentor I bumped into recently is off to Harvard, where the course fees alone are $100,000. Personally I don’t think its worth the three letters after his name.
So what’s the alternative ? Being an entrepreneur ? Those afraid of the above mentioned debt, who decide ( or are pressured ) into going into a solopreneur business as an alternative. Preyed on by the internet snake-oil sellers offering passive income by selling the expertise they can’t possibly have, because they’re just not old enough to have all that experience. They suddenly realise they are contractors not entrepreneurs and when the one client they have disappears, money runs out and they’re back to square one.
Its a sad state of affairs, and I sympathise.

Fat People

I’ve spent more time on Netflix than  I do normally. My partner has been away, I needed something to do. Watching Fat Sick and Nearly Dead, a film on health, while drinking beer and eating junk because I’m tired.  I’m not setting a good example.
The interesting story is that losing all that weight, being a role model, then piling a chunk of it back on again while being caught by the media just made the eventual crash all the harder. You can’t lose weight, and guess what, the underlying depression, on your own. We need support by our wider community. Men particularly it would seem. Can we stop telling ourselves we need to ‘Man Up’ we are men, we just need a bit of help and support, It’s these dreadful stereotypes that have become my pet hate since reading the Samaritans report.

Sugar Daddy

So while on my binge of diet based entertainment, last nights That Sugar Film an interesting look at ‘Calories are not the same’. My above mentioned binge on Coke of all things being the source of 7-10 spoons of sugar. Great for cleaning out the pipes, and a decidedly persistent dose of stomach upset. However, on the downside, it means that by the time the innards are sorted, you’re nothing short of addicted to the stuff, too tired to function and absolutely not picking up where you left off on exercise when you recover. In only a week, I put back my pizza belly and I was eating almost nothing else that could be described as ‘bad for me’.
Definitely worth watching what sugar can do to you. No surprise that my only only intake today was a green smoothie and fresh vegetable dinner.

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