I recently traveled to China for the first time on a business venture – Ajustco, for which we are producing the world’s first adjustable barrel bolt lock. I spent one month there with my business partner, visiting Shenzen and Ningbo, two very popular port cities and attending the international Canton Fair in Guangzhou. While there is a lot that I can say, I boiled my observations down to these ten notes below. This is naturally not a definitive statement about China – it’s my first time there. Take it with a grain of salt, and if at all possible, I highly recommend taking your own trip to get first-hand experience.
- The people are very kind. They were friendly, welcoming and curious about us “foreigners”.
- People are happy and well-adjusted. Could the one child per family approach contribute to this happiness?
- Living standards for most our the population is very good, and the youth very optimistic about their lives.
- Some people seemed naive about certain things, and only attributed positive qualities to their country. While I believe that happens everywhere, I wondered how much of that had to do with strong state censorship of critical perspectives and mental programming through education. I took a jog by a middle school, and observed young students in the school yard, receiving instructions over a loud speaker. While I didn’t know what was being said, the feeling that “they are being brainwashed” came to me. Where do we draw the line between programming and education? Is positive programming (ie. correct lessons about healthy eating and ways of the world) just as damaging or equally deluding as negative ones?
- Internet speeds were not up to par with what I am used to in the US. I wonder how much of this has to do with censorship and monitoring filters versus bandwidth and infrastructure.
- Non-Internet infrastructure (ie. roads, electricity, etc) is fantastic and very orderly. People commute and move around cities harmoniously, from what we observed. Of course, since we did not visit the two most populous cities – Beijing and Shanghai – I may revise this opinion in the future. From what I have heard, it is similarly organized, in spite of the population.
- DIET. Chinese people have a much better sense of their bodies than Americans. They do not eat a lot of red meat or even chicken. It’s fish, soup and vegetables. They eat a lot of hot or warm foods.
- “Responsive Government” – Although the government is not democratically elected, neither is ours, and they seem to be more concerned with the well being of their citizens over corporate interests. Michael Bloomberg agrees, and said so on a recent week’s Fareed Zakaria hosted-show, GPS.
- People have a strong work ethic.
- The international business community is strong, with representatives from many regions and countries spending significant time in China. There is an air of excitement and partnership about these dealings, which we witnessed at the major trade shows and conferences.
On the whole, China is on the up and up. The combination of ancient wisdom and new world commerce makes for a wonderful place to live, travel and work. It is essentially nothing at all like what the US corporate media portrays it to be. Go see for yourself. You may not want to come back!
Whether one moves slowly or with speed,
the one who is a seeker will be a finder.
Always seek with your whole self,
for the search is an excellent guide on the way.
Though you are lame and limping,
though your figure is bent and clumsy,
always creep towards the One.
Make that One your quest.
By speech and by silence and by fragrance,
catch the scent of the King everywhere.
– Rumi’s Masnavi – Book III, Pgs. 978-81
This is the midway point of 2013 – Halftime. There is rarely a better time to reflect and make adjustments, if necessary, to prepare for the Second Half. Here are some questions that I like to ask myself in preparation for H2.
- How am I right now – Emotionally, Mentally, Physically and Spiritually?
- How was the first half of 2013, in terms of actual Time & Energy invested – across the 7 Life Categories and 43 Timebugs which I track – versus what I had pre-planned? How does this chart out for the remainder of the year? What areas require some re-planning?
- Did I achieve and engage in that which I had envisioned at the outset of 2013? Do any of my Goals need to be revised?
- Who did I spend time with, and how did that make me feel? [Consider listing out the Top 5 people that you spent time with, and make some quick bulleted noted about those interactions, and your feelings]
- Did anything completely new come into my life this Half (ie. new business, a child, new home, new job, lost job, etc) and if so, how has that changed my outlook?
Beyond these questions, I also look at my Timebug data, to evaluate where my Energy has gone and what the major trends were. There is plenty of time left in 2013, to make this year a successful one, by whatever standards you may have. Try not to feel bad or self-judgmental if you didn’t do what you had planned to. Life throws a lot of challenges and curve balls our way. Adapt, regroup and get yourself mentally ready for a great second half!
Disorder causes chaos and disintegration. It leads to dis-ease or disease. Doctors and surgeons are very important people in that they address acute disease states by attempting to rid our body or whatever damage was caused by the root disorder. However, there is a whole area of wellness, including the area of preventative healthcare, that can serve humanity far better than emergency or disease-state healthcare, if we brought its principles to the forefront of our minds and society. There are movements, where Eastern medicine and systems, like Ayurveda, are coming to the West, which espouse this approach.
Timebug is a system that brings a fresh, new angle to Life Analytics and Personal Wellness. It is about achieving your goals and attaining happiness through a balanced and holistic life approach. The system and its adaptive monitoring tools help us connect our daily grind with the big picture, our life purpose. That right there is where most people get off track and discouraged – connecting the 9 Spokes or Time Dimensions together, so that they are very clear on the question – “Why am I doing what I am doing right now?” (Right Now being the first Time Dimension – “The Present Moment”)
Timebug.org featured a 21-Point Great Day Checklist recently. Here is a quick preview.
1. You felt energetic and strong
2. You loved someone and had a chance to show or express it somehow
3. Someone loved you and was able to show it
4. You did something productive and felt good about it
5. You solved a major or minor problem
6. You got paid, rewarded and/or acknowledged for your work (efforts)
7. Someone you care about did something positive
View the full great day checklist.
“The body was designed to move.” from “The End of Illness” by David Agus. I can attest to this, and agree that our increasingly sedentary lifestyle, as a culture, is contributing to our deteriorating health and the obesity epidemic. Recently, I switched to a standing workstation, and it has improved my body’s health and posture in favorable ways, just in the first two months.
Here is a Washington Post http://ow.ly/iH6yV review of the book. More from me upon a full read, or as I go along.
“The book of life is the book of time, which is the book of the stars. Each moment of time possesses a certain quality. In the moment of our birth, therefore, we can read the pattern of our lives, just as the nature of a tree can be discovered in the seed from which it springs.”
For the past week, leading up to today – my 39th birthday – I have been meditating deeply on the significance of these 39 rotations of the Earth around the Sun, from that very moment of birth – 10:23am on March 4, 1974 – which demarcates my solar age. ”March Forth” I have been signing off, for several years now, after one of my best friends made the connection between my Spirit and my Birthday (March Fourth).
This week, I came up with this idea, of recording an annual state of affairs – of my life, and of the world – every year, on March Fourth. As the planets, moons and stars continue their respective rotations, this seemingly (but not necessarily) arbitrary cosmic dance continues, tuned in human beings – the ultimate vessel for reading the Universe’s energy flow – make sense of the present moment and its unique qualities. This particular moment will never come again. Time waits for nobody. And we are continuously living on the edge of time – quite a fascinating place to be, if we can truly quiet the mind and show up in life, right here and now.
The original day of birth is/was such a gift, from Above, that I am still – in fact, more increasingly each year – in awe of this miracle (of Life). Yet, paradoxically, the miracle also makes more sense as I deepen my bonds with the forces, all flowing from the One Force, that are responsible for my existence. In gratitude for this boundless gift of life that created this “I” back on March 4th, 1974, I pledge to offer the world a small present in this present March Fourth, and then subsequently on all subsequent birthdays for the rest of my life. I will make it sort of a ritual – to give birth to something new, every year, in sync with my birth-day. That gift might come in many different forms, throughout the coming years. At present, my Entrepreneurial Spirit is a powerful force flowing through me, that literally has its own purpose. My goal is to just stay out of the way, and let the Spirit direct whatever needs to manifest.
First, let me briefly highlight some points from my personal state of affairs as of today (3/4/13).
- Age & Eras. This will be my last year in the Thirtysomething category – very interesting, almost surreal. That puts me in a unique position to recap the experience of the Thirtysomething Decade in this Era and small corner of the vast Universe. To be 39, living in the U.S. in 2013 is vastly different than being 39 in the U.S. in say 1975, or some other country in this or a prior Era.
- Health. One of my goals is to elevate my Health Consciousness Level to an unknown place that has been sporadic and conceptual so far. My health is presently OK – not bad, and not fantastic. Dietarily, I am liberal with what I eat. I don’t drink or smoke. My exercise regimen is average. That all changes today. By the time I reach 40, I want to be in the best shape – inside and out – of my life.
- Business. This is my 14th year of operational business leadership, as a CEO of companies that I have started (currently @ Blueliner, a New York City based Digital Marketing agency). I guess that makes me a veteran. Gone are the days of envisioning myself as a “young entrepreneur” – gone are the days of a lot of image-based goals. While I don’t believe that years alone give us meaningful experience, I do believe that my 13 years have been extremely fruitful and educational. Blood, sweat, tears – a broad spectrum of business experience has shaped who I am today, which is still (and always will be) a work in progress. The CEO of Me continues his journey.
- Marriage. Deeper into my 3rd year of marriage, coming up on the 4th. What can I say? This is largely private, so I’ll keep it high-level – Challenging, rewarding, confusing, enlightening. There is no better mirror than your relationship, wherever it’s at, it is one of Life’s greatest gifts.
- Spirituality. Deeper into the depths of my soul through intensive Spiritual work. I have been truly blessed to come upon some masterful and compassionate teachers and fellow travelers on several complementary, sacred paths. I have always believed, and now verified for myself, that most (if not all) sacred paths (including all of the major religions) are gifts from Above, have merit in their purest origins and can be utilized by the sincere practitioner for positive personal development and Spiritual growth. Deeper levels of sincerity, compassion and gratitude are growing within me, by the day. All in One.
- Hobbies. Seemingly random, but relevant note. I am an avid NFL Football fan. It is the one sport which I have maintained a fanhood connection to, inspite of numerous attempts to “break up” with the sport and all forms of passive spectatorship. To no avail. So I am accepting that there is a purpose for me in this connection; and exploring that further. After another disappointing year for the Dallas Cowboys, a good lesson becomes more clear to me – the dangers of the human ego and arrogance. It is interesting to see how destructive and self-sabotaging a man’s huge ego can be – we’re talking Jerry Jones of course, owner of the Cowboys. God, please help me dissolve any level of ego that is within me which might influence me to think or behave that way, no matter how poor or rich I ever become. I pray for humility and sincerity within and around me, and protection from any forces (which there are many, always lurking) which seek to fracture that inner strength.
- Family. I love my dad and my family, although (I feel that) they mostly still don’t understand who I am, and what I stand for. Part of that might be my own issue, in the communications department. Nevertheless, deep connections are there, which are a treasure for us and generations to come. More of my family has moved to the U.S. from Iran, which is fantastic for us all, to be able to better support one another in our respective journeys. I realize how precious time with our parents is; having lost my mom 10+ years ago, and spending whatever time I can with my noble and sincere father.
And for the World…
- Politics. Well, don’t get me started. Let’s just say that the world is an interesting place, and that everything is not as it seems to be. Being an Iranian-American, born and raised in New York, I feel as if I have had a fascinating perspective on the social, economic and political issues that are at the forefront of the media and in humanity’s social consciousness. And I have a lot to say about it – but now is not the time. Now, it’s my time for action – to lead by example and do positive things in the world. I’ll let that speak for my politics (for the time being), until I have the free space to bring a fuller cohesion and clearer voice to my ideas.
- Economy. Let the forces of globalization continue to connect more people in meaningful ways. Nationalism is dead…or at least, it should be (in my view). It’s time for the One World, Global Citizenry concept to take shape – and not in a way that anyone is forced or coerced into a unified view. There is plenty of room for diversity of culture, ideology, thought and expression in a global humanity.
- Population. Let us start controlling population growth, and focus more efforts on taking care of those who are here, including the 1 billion starving. I for one am going to commit this year to taking care of 3 human beings in need for the rest of their lives. What does that cost? Where does the money go? How do I ensure that it goes to the right people and place? Like Kiva and Microfinance, there needs to be more NGOs that do this well – like what HDF does in Pakistan.
- Thought Leadership. In 2013, I plan to be “out there” more, and “stuck behind the computer” less. Thought leadership, in my fields of knowledge – Life/Time/Energy Management, Entrepreneurship and Marketing. That means more speaking engagements, more educational/training videos and other forms of getting the messages out there. This moves me out of my comfort zone a bit, so it will be a good challenge. While it will be good for me and my businesses to be out there, part of the motivation is to start sharing, connecting and educating more – giving back, in a sense. Honestly, from the teaching that I’ve done over the years, it is truly one of the best growth and learning experiences that I have ever had – which has allowed me to truly comprehend the often quoted “the more you give, the more you receive.”
- My Gift. Timebug is my gift to the world this year. The gift of this knowledge was given to me, and I’m just passing it along. Although I started the CEO of Me Workshop in December 2012, the actual Timebug.me time management and goal-setting software (Alpha Version) is being introduced to the world, for the first time ever today, on March Fourth, 2013. A select group of 100 Alpha users have already signed up to test the application. For anyone else who wants to try it, I am keeping the cost way down for the first year, while we continue to get the kinks out. I’ve been using this self-made time and life management tool, which has evolved weekly, for ten years now! So it is with some fear, but mostly excitement and curiosity, that I now offer it to others, to see if they get value from it as I do. Enjoy, and as always…