I like to kill two, three, four birds with one stone whenever I can. Produce and learn at the same time, consume and produce, learn and relax, connect with people and learn, learn/connect/relax/produce, etc. Every day I try to exercise and learn at the same time by listening to some smart audio while I walk, jog, or run. I like to do small projects with friends and acquaintances - it's a great way to connect with someone, get to know each other more, learn/knowledge exchange new skills, and maybe make some money in the process.
Mixing "walking around" into other time and paying attention goes a long way towards getting smarter. Sometimes when I want to think, I go walk or jog around a neighborhood I don't know. I figure if I pay attention, I can learn the layout of the neighborhood, what kind of people live there, what kind of businesses are there, what kind of businesses aren't there that could be.
I went for a three mile walk near Sheung Wan in Hong Kong yesterday. I walked through an area with lots of mechanics and other mech/craft shops. I kept walking, and as I climbed up some hills, I came suddenly into a really upscale neighborhood and the cars started looking nicer - I saw particularly quite a few BMW's. So I think - hmm, there's a lot of mechanics two miles away, but I'm not seeing a garage up here. I know in nice neighborhoods people will pay as much as a 2x premium to get their car serviced without driving far. (I made the mistake of going to "Bel Air Auto Care" once when I lived in Bel Air last year - yeah, 2x what it should have cost for some work). But that's a good deal for some people whose time is very precious to them, they'd rather get premium auto service fast than drive a couple miles to save a couple bucks.
So I start thinking, if I spoke Cantonese, was local to Hong Kong, and had money to invest, would it make sense to look for some space two miles up the hill in Sheung Wan in the nice neighborhood? I was impressed with the mechanics walking through - generally looked pretty skilled and hard working. In one shop there was a boy, maybe 8 years old, reading a book while his dad worked. So I think - these are smart, hard working people. If you could get a lease at the right price, you know there's already talented mechanics nearby you could hire with a pay increase. Could your auto shop make enough money to cover the lease and expenses? I think locking up a long term lease in Sheung Wan would be worth some money in and of itself, so if the business was slightly profitable you'd have a good thing going.
It was like a scavenger hunt trying to find good coffee when I was in Cambodia a few months ago. I thought to myself - hey, here's an opportunity to build a chain of cafes, starting in Siem Riep and Phnomh Penh. You could brand/gear it up like the coffee chains that tourists like - Starbucks, Pacific Coffee, Coffee Bean, etc. If you went a step further and branded it the right way, you could also make it the kind of place that's an experience to go to, that would be a fun activity for even a relatively poor Cambodian family to aspire to go every so often. I was thinking I'd call it the "Western Coffee Company", and brand it like the Old West a little bit. Wooden saloon type vibe, little brick mixed in, Old West-inspired dress, and maybe live guitar or fiddle once a day or once a week. It could be an aspirational, entertainment place for local Khmer people while serving tourists heading to Angkor Wat and exploring Cambodia. And again, that land's only going to go up in value. Someone's going to build or expand a coffee chain into Cambodia and make a mint.
I'd do a heck of a lot more research if I was going to implement an idea like that, but just walking around and paying attention goes a long way towards figuring out opportunities and learning where things are. And I just mix it into my day - go for a walk, get some exercise, listen to a book on audio, and pay attention to my surroundings. Maybe do some errands or shopping at the same time too. No problem. Expand my mind, kill four birds with one stone.
Just started reading the blog. Really enjoying the posts. I often walk around the city of Mumbai for inspiration. I notice I get some of my best ideas when I am in a reflective mood and in an open space. Thanks for this post.
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Excellent post, very inspiring. I already am always trying to do a few things at once and get some learning into other activities, but I never thought of trying to play pseudo-entrepreneur while walking around. Definitely a good way to develop an instinct for that kind of thing.
I think it's not walking around or paying attention, it's being interested.
Pick any random topic, birds, ship anchors, triple layer cakes, anything and interested people can come up with questions that would like answered about the topic. They are interested.
What's shocking is how little interest some people have in their own area of specialization. Many people aren't even interested in the thing they've decided to dedicate their life to.
In 2006, I quit the vast majority of intoxicants. I don't drink, I don't use recreational drugs, I don't smoke tobacco, I don't drink soda, and I am working on quitting all sweets entirely, and largely succeeding. I am not one for fine dining, and not frequently one for other forms of hedonism.
I usually do not advertise this - I might write about it for people who wish to know what I do, but I do not bring it up in conversation unless it comes up. But occasionally it does come up, and a common reaction is someone saying, half-joking, "Then why bother living?"
I think I understand. Many people do jobs they dislike for causes they feel nothing about. This must wreak havoc on a man's spirit. Most people spend more of their waking time on their work than any other thing - I can only imagine what spending the bulk of my time on something I disliked would feel like. Or worse, not even something I disliked - but something I felt very neutral about.
If a man's occupation becomes a slow crushing of his spirit, then of course he would need high energy, and high impact to free him from it. He needs to fit all of his leisure into his remaining waking time - from 6PM at night to 10PM when he is home from work, on the two days of his weekend, and his vacation time each year. Of course, not even that time is all his own - he still has to commute, run errands, do admin, do necessary little things. The reality of the situation is far worse - most people don't live bad lives, they just move slowly and quietly through things they don't particularly care for.
Of course, if a man only had 5% of his waking time to himself, he would want to maximize this time in the easiest, most surefire way of producing pleasure and relaxation. Who could blame this man? I don't. If I was suffering through a soul-killing occupation and had very little time, I would want to make sure that the time I did have was very enjoyable.
Walking, is such a simple act, yet it is so underrated. To me, and I think to most people, walking is very therapeutic. It helps me focus, relax, and is somewhat meditative. The best part is that it is an easy way to get some exercise.
Since I started going to University, I have been walking on average five days a week for 25 minutes there and back, which is in total about 4.4 kilometres. Not only that, but I also walk to the grocery store, to work, to restaurant, bars, etc.
Living in the city, it is very easy for me to walk wherever I need to go. This is not only because I do not have a car, but because everything I need is so incredibly close. Another great thing about walking is, that I never have to pay for gas or public transportation fare. As well I am slowly saving the environment from pollution.
Whether alone or with friends, walking helps me think clearly and be more creative. A lot of the time when I am walking home from school, I come up with the best ideas for my personal and school projects.
I am writing this today because I have missed walking. Throughout the whole summer, I have not been walking as much as I would like to and with school starting again next week, I am very much looking forward to having this little time off in my busy schedule.