Entrepreneurship is not always fun.

Before you get excited, entrepreneurship is not always fun. I am going through a small experience that almost made me reach a very low point full of frustration. But still didn’t manage to get me to thow the towel.

Here is a short story of where I  spent hours over the phone and several days trying to follow up with things that might not be completely under my control.

I had a customer order that wasn’t shipped by the fulfillment company. The customer started sending blasts of emails and public social media messages about how our company is not doing good job. 

Since I learned transparency is the best thing to do. We made her know about each step we were doing to ensure that she can get her order. But that kind of backfired. The fulfillment company had an issue in their system where they did not log her order in their tracking system. Which meant there is no proof that they do have the item. That made that customer start questioning our credibility. And again she shared her thoughts over email and social media.

Should I blame her? Not at all. It’s not because ‘the customer is always right’. But because she told me her story, she had a design project for her school that she needs to present in few days. With the approaching deadline, she have the right to be concerned about it.

I took the lead on following up with our warehouse, contracted shipping company, and our unsatisfied customer. All of them are in 11 hours time zone difference from me. That meant what I just added up of almost 4 hours of phone calls with not so efficient front-line customer service. I now can recite the script they read by heart, Which was very annoying. My biological clock was disturbed with no doubt.

The story is still going (until writing these words). I finally talked to one of the coordinators at the fulfillment company trying to figure out what happened and what can be done in a timely manner.

When I followed up with the fulfillment company about what happened and told them about the frustration my customer is having, I concluded to the agent with this:

“When I was a student I had to wait for weeks or even months to get an item from the U.S. to prototype or design something for my design projects. It was hard and unpractical. This is why I made Crispy Science, to help youth and kids get access to what makes them more curious learners. I don’t want them to struggle.

 [Your company] brand is neither more or less important for me than my own. Both are equally important to maintain. And [your company] have put both on jeopardy. But I don’t care about my reputation for even a fraction compared to my care to get this girl what she needs to build her design project. This is the whole reason why I’m in business”.

That’s why entrepreneurship is not always fun, But it could be damn fulfilling.

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The fall of the wall: How 25 years of undivided Berlin could inspire us all.

 

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the Berlin wall. I would call it The Wall if I would be back in the days when it happened. But the fact it is not the only wall out there. Despite that today Berlin is celebrating the 25th anniversary with a border of light called Lichtgrenze, today there are many walls that still separate families and shade darkness over humanity.

It is very important to remember November 9th, 1998 with gratitude toward the brave people of Germany. To think about men and women who teared when they saw that their freedom is attainable. Germans today taught me the word : Frieden. They said to the world that a wall can not keep a nation divided anymore.Peace is possible if we break all the walls that set us apart physically.

We shouldn’t put walls between economies, cultures, or any groups of people. Because such walls will not just set us apart, but they will ignite hatred and ignorance about those at the other side of the wall. Frieden means peace in Deutsch, and today they celebrated the 25th anniversary of the fall of the wall with that word in mind. I hope that we could remember that when we see walls being taken for granted in other places in the world. Look around you. watch the news. Where there is a wall, Frieden is being jeopardized.

It might not look obvious, but Korean nations have been separated for more than half a century. Arabian nations have been divided for almost a century now. And the distance between them is getting larger even within each nation and itself. It might be a lesson for Arabian and Korean nations. It might be a lesson for the people of Israel and Palestine. It might be something to consider by the recently divided Syria. All of these nations could think one more time about the purpose of each wall that puts them apart. Many nations are getting the excuse to create borders and limitations on immigrants. Some governments are thinking that a very similar walls to the Berlin wall could offer sustainable solutions for their constituents. But the fact is, the fall of any wall today is much easier than the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989. It just takes bravery similar to the one Germans exhibited. It needs willingness to invest in a shared future where education is believed to be the root cause for  security and prosperity.

 

 

More about the fall of the wall by Times magazine:

http://wp.me/p5HMd-eZOD

Until the fall of the next wall

Frieden,

Sami

 

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The YOLO guide to survive the apocalypse (6/7):

Appreciate it when things go wrong

 

Nothing went wrong while taking this picture. But this photo indeed fits the title. Photo of Steven Gloyd taken by Bonnie Wood.

Nothing went wrong while taking this picture. But this photo indeed fits the title.
Photo of Steven Gloyd taken by Bonnie Wood.

 

“How wonderful is the affair of the believer, for his affairs are all good, and this applies to no one but the believer. If something good happens to him, he is thankful for it and that is good for him. If something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience and that is good for him.”

– Prophet Mohammad

 

 

Secularly speaking, a person of a long term vision usually succeeds in seeing the light in the end of the tunnel. And hence is more likely to succeed getting out of the tunnel, not to dwell over obstacles and hurtles in her way. She is bear them with patience. And indeed she is a thankful person for whatever helps her through the journey. If Islam, among other religions out there, gave its followers a good life habit. I would count the habit of “appreciating it when things goes wrong” among one of the greatly useful ones these religions teach. And that doesn’t happen without a strong belief. Not necessarily a spiritual or religious belief in after death life or in a caring creator who’s planning good things for us at the end of the tunnel. In general, it is the belief that your journey worth it. It worths the rough times that we all go through. You would have some kind of sort of reward. It could be a spiritual reward, or a reward that you set for yourself personally. It is all about how you measure your life. If you know how you measure your life, then those things that go wrong doesn’t really bother you to be bear patient in order to reach your end goal. And if there is anything to get out of it, it could be a learning experience that worths appreciation.

I was driving a solar car several times last year, onetime I used Google Glass (a wearable device that record videos along with doing other things), It felt great to have a Glass over my head, I was recording and talking to the video about the car and what’s happening.

But when the batteries died and I didn’t have anything to say, I felt having interesting moments of solitude driving around the small town of Corvallis in a rainy day. I was just driving, just listening to the lead car in the convoy for directions, taking care of traffic and safety and thinking of nothing else.

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A similar feeling I had when we raced with the same car at the Circuit of The Americas and the computer screen turned off. I felt that I’m disconnected from everything around me. I had to focus over my driving remember our mentor’s instructions on what to do when that happens.  Luckily Hai-Yue prepared me for the surprise, so I went just driving with most of the systems down. Such patience to things going wrong prepared me to the final day of a road challange this summer in our way on the road to the finish line of a +1700 miles challange. I had similar failures in several car systems. Some of them I was able to detect right away, some took me sometime to realize and took my team more time to do so. Some of these problems were solvable while I was continuing my drive, and some other ones could’ve stopped us in the middle of the road if not managed well. We appreciated our experiences when things went wrong. And the tolerance to having a car that is not perfect made it easier journey. And the not taking the car as a whole for granted to do what it is supposed to do, made me realize, this is life.

Indeed, believers are those who will survive the apocalypse, and I mean by believers, those who believe that things go wrong and they would as long as they live and go through new experiences. They believe strongly that with appreciation and patience, they will survive, succeed, and fulfill their journey in life.

Those are the surviving believers regardless of their religion. Which reminds me to a question I’ve been asked by an old lady while visiting a small conservative town. “Are you a believer ?” She asked. “Sure, I am”, I replied, “but what do you mean ?”. ” I mean are you Christian?” She clarified. I said, “No but I am a Muslim who believes in Jesus”. Recalling that now, I should’ve added: “And I prophesize that all believers will survive the apocalypse”. That will surely add to her surprise and wonder.

So if you end up seeing things going wrong, think about it critically. Is there something out of this you could take away ? Are you able to change things ? is it under your control ? or at least your influence ? or should you give up the desire to control the situation and appreciate what you are getting out of this experience ?

Tell me what stories you have experienced of things going wrong in your life, and did you appreciate something out of it ?

Wither the zombies are coming or not, this skill is quite handy. And it prepares you for the final step …. To be continued.

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The YOLO guide to survive the apocalypse (5/7)

In the previous post I started this guide with four steps to survive the apocalypse. Check it out if you still haven’t. Because the next three steps are mentally demanding. So let’s get started.

 

5- Experience mindfulness : Remember these three words :Need, stimulus, solution.

 

We tend not to deeply think about our everyday activities as we should !

“We tend not to deeply think about our everyday activities as we should !”

 

 

In the fourth step  (Understand what a mindful life means to you by embracing YOLO) you were able to identify, as an example, that Facebook is a waste of my time except for knowing your friends birthdays and parties events (or whatever legitimate social reasons), . You truly realize what the technology is adding to you and what it is sucking out of you. You know that sharing a photo of your meal would be an awesome idea if you are a chef. Or if you are doing marketing for a restaurant. Other than that, that photo is just fulfilling your instincts to feel appreciated or recognized by others that you are eating a meal. (I know, it sucks).

So to help you experiencing mindfulness, with each activity of any significance, try to reveal the three key revelations about it :

Need : What is the need for this activity , let’s say you are driving a car and using the GPS to guide you from point A to point B. What’s the need for it ? To tell you the route. Good enough. That’s quite great revelation. Believe me, it is !

Stimulus: What are the stimulus that are there from this damn thing ? it gives you sound commands for every single turn. Sometimes too late and sometime too early. Always, it disturb your conversation with your ride partner. Uh yeah, and it is getting your attention (visually and audibly) from the road.

Solution: What is the solution you are applying for the need? And is it the only solution?

For the GPS example, the traditional solutions is: just listen to the directions and go along with it. But there might be many other solutions. One another solution could be is to browse the whole route and register the path in your head and then never look back into the navigator screen (which is doable). Another solutions would include playing around with the navigator settings and your sensory settings and figure out if you can tweak them to best serve your need. That includes your settings to listen and look into the navigator every single turn, or just do a visual skim when stopping at red lights for the next portion of the route. You would decide if you will leave the sound level of the navigator as high as it is or would you lower it down to a level that doesn’t disturb your conversation with other passengers. With this thought process you are not taking technology for granted, and you are enslaving it to serve you rather enslaving yourself to it.

 When thinking about the adopted solution people usually fail in identifying different solutions or seeing the options that they can take. We tend to take the easy route even if it is too costly for what it is. This needs quite basic combination of creative and critical thinking that you really should train yourself on. Even if you are not an engineer, only creative and critical thinkers will survive zombies, so you better evolve fast !

Probably the GPS navigation-driving multitasking is not quite challenging activity to think about. But we have many other examples ! Facebook. Why we use it ? … There is a need for it, to connect for parties, birthday greetings. What else ? messaging ? cool.  Now when you think about the stimulus, there are many of them, notifications and invites and a timeline or news feed that makes it a very noisy environment. Solution : get what you wanted to do and get it done and then move on, focus on the stimulus that you need to focus on. If you want to message that person then do. And that’s it, don’t worry about that notification or get distracted by that silly cat and funny baby laugh pictures. Someday you will have one of your own if you will shut down the unnecessary stimulus and focus on those that solve your need.

 

Do you have an activity (other than peeing or facebooking) that you want to share ? Share it with me. I’ll be back soon with the next step along with some interesting stories !

Be well,

Sami

—–

Want to keep reading ?

The YOLO guide to survive the apocalypse (6/7): Appreciate it when things go wrong

 

 

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The YOLO guide to survive the apocalypse (1-4/7): Start enjoying a mindful life !

 

Only smart people will survive the zombie apocalypse, since you are on the internet reading this, let’s start this brief summary on what the internet is doing to our brains :

Your guide to mindful life is in no means a step-by-step procedure. But checklists are easy to remember, So let’s have an apocalypse survival 7 steps procedure !

You can go to a Yoga class. It’s actually helpful. But good luck with that when you are attacked by zombies ! Did I get your attention ? … good, let’s get starting with the YOLO guide:

 

  1. Observe: Notice at how kids and many adults would burst in anger when TV, Wifi and electricity Shutdown !

 

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“Television for a child creates such a high bar of stimulus that nothing else competes. A beautiful day is absolute crap to a kid who watches tv.” Louis C.K.

 

 

Louis C.K. statement from his show ‘Hilarious’ is related very much to how we can help ourselves to enjoy mindful life that isn’t only influenced by high bar stimulus.

Kids are not enjoying life at all as ‘we used to’. It’s not really hard to realize it. They would scream if you close the TV, or unplug the internet connection, from their attention. As I was driving to downtown river walk and listening to Louis C.K. on the car radio I decided to stay in my car for a little bit and enjoy listening to him. The little bit turned into around 10 minutes. Then I realized, I’m empowered by a pair of tennis shoes, paved river walk , internet connection, ear buds and a smart phone. So I decided to continue listening to the talk and run. That was way better than just staying in the car !

Checkpoint: In order to successfully complete this stage/step, you need to be a master over stimulus that trigger your attention, not a slave to it.

 

2- Listen to both nature and technology,  not just one of them !

In an audible article I listened to, while doing my laundry, the writer suggested that listening to music while jogging might not be the best thing to do. She mentioned that she started to enjoy nature, listening to her breath and heartbeat as she runs. And surely you could be more aware of your surroundings if you don’t have these earbuds on.

However, I totally enjoyed listening to Louis C.K this morning while jogging. His quote I first mentioned inspired me actually ! Probably, I wouldn’t have the inspiration to write anything like this if I wasn’t listening to him ( Except if an apple tree decided to drop one of its fruits over my head , then that might got me to an unprecedented Eureka moment that would make me write about it all day long ! ).

So I figured out that the point is: To listen to technology if you want to, but don’t let that blind you from noticing the falling apples of inspiration.

Checkpoint: In order to successfully complete this stage/step : When multitasking, be careful of what tasks you are doing. Listening to nature shouldn’t be impeded by multitasking using the vast amount of technologies. Nature is always richer.

3- Increase your focused attention; Don’t let high bar stimulus blind you !

A lady started her introduction in a ’dating website’ with .. “ I’m naked, don’t look .. Since I got your attention now, let’s get into business” and then she proceeded with a summary about herself. Despite that this lady is very likely to be a respectful person for herself and others, and who didn’t post any nudity photos about herself by the way, she needed to pull the attention and create such a stimulus to introduce herself to potential mates. That’s quite understandable, and might be effective for some guys. Or is it really ? I’m not really sure ! But clearly she wanted to create a high bar of stimulus that nothing else competes with.

Train your self to carefully know what stimulus to pay attention to. And what to turn off even if it was a useless squeaking wheel.

Checkpoint: In order to successfully complete this stage/step : Don’t fall for the strongest stimulus. Couple of Zombies might scream in front of you you just to lead you to run to the back where tons of them are waiting. Loudest doesn’t mean most valuable and important.

 

 

4- Understand what a mindful life means to you by embracing YOLO

Technology bridges gaps and folds distances. Though, it shouldn’t create a gap by itself between us and our mindful life.

What is mindful life

If you meditate, know how to relax, or hike you might have experienced the state of flow. Let me not get too philosophical or phycological here. But in a nutshell, let’s think about mindful life as a life that helps you be a better person. You deeply enjoy what you do with full immersion in it to the extent that you would loose feeling of time. You would feel something beyond instantaneous impulse of happiness that you get when you see the red colored notification alert with a double digit number of likes on your Facebook posts. It’s something you would not regret spending your time on after being done with. That is a mindful time.

Remember YOLO ( You Only Live Once), so you better not waste yourself on things that you aren’t mindful of.

Checkpoint: In order to successfully complete this stage/step : Identify what are those wastes and distractors of a mindful life you want to live. Are you free from cognitive dissonance that falsely justifies such useless activities for you despite their bad impact ? If so, you are ready to go.

 

If you like this, let me know … so I complete the guide for you. Probably these four steps are enough to start working on.

 

Do you want to keep reading ?

The YOLO guide to survive the apocalypse (5/7) Experience mindfulness : Remember these three words :Need, stimulus, solution.

 

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You are not a cat ! Be curious !

 

When was the last time you ever said ‘Interesting !!‘ In the way that you express great astonishment and genuine interest in a new piece of information or experience.

So before I proceed selling you my life one word motto : Curiosity , let’s make this straight clear: curiosity did not kill the cat ! Yes, it did not. The origin of the metaphor was ‘Care killed the Catsince the Shakespearian days . It wasn’t until the last two centuries this awful phrase came to life : ‘ Curiosity killed the cat’. But luckily, and given the 6 lives left in that a cat the author Stephen King did a smart extension to the idiom: Curiosity killed the cat, satisfaction brought him back.

 

I’ve been called ‘Mr. Interesting’ many times, in summer camps, college, and among some of my colleagues when I used to work at GE. ‘Interesting’ is a word of amusement and interest I use when being exposed to something new. And let me tell you, life is full of new stuff ! Even routine has the potential of introducing new learning experiences. No wonder I started my career in the automation industry, where dull, Difficult, and dangerous jobs are being automated and delegated to machines and robots.

Today, I enjoy working and volunteering with others in projects that might seem dull or I might be a little bit more experienced in doing. What a huge potential to kill my curiosity right ? Wrong ! It’s where I start exploring my mentoring, coaching , and observation skills.

 

Consider again when your kid start crying for the 100th time. Would it be a new experience that might help you explore doing something new with her ? O.K. that might be a bad example, it looks like I have no idea what is it like to have a child. Well, now I’m curious wither when I have a kid I’ll have access to an automated dipper changer … hmm ! See curiosity works on any example ! … Guess what key word I’m googling now in Google Patents ? Open it up on your own responsibility ! Interesting, right ?

 

Curiosity helped me explore new research areas I never thought they would help me out with my mission in life. I got interested in engineering after exploring electronics and instrumentation in high school. I got curious to learn how big corporations work and how could I add a value to what a corporation do, so I did. I found productivity tools are more relevant to what I would like to do in that company more than the detailed programing and configuration main work that was assigned to me, so I focused on that. I wanted to do my masters degree in engineering management degree, yet while exploring that I found human systems engineering is interesting to explore, so I did. Today, I’m researching a human systems engineering topic that relates to engineering management concepts and focuses on productivity and efficiency in critical situations like emergencies. It’s hard to describe how all of this fits together in one paragraph. But this journey of 12 years , since I did my first electronics circuit in 9th grade, fits together into one purpose. The verity of experiences added a lot to me. Such verity I would attribute to two things: My curiosity and the ‘American approach’ into higher education that encourages width over depth in what you study.

If you would like to learn more about more personal stories about curiosity. And how curiosity would grow a whole society, check out one of my latest talk at Ignite Corvallis 5:

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An Adventure of Discovery … Remembering the man who saved HomoSapiens

Feb 27th, 2014

“Whatever the context and whatever the audience, he was clear, he was committed, he was compassionate, and, far more often than most, he was right — or if not, at least on the side of the angels.”

-Derek A. Davenport, The Many Lives of Linus Pauling: A Review of Reviews.

 

 

The human race have gone so far in what they have discovered during the last century. On February 28th 1901 Linus Pauling (1901 – 1994) was born in Portland, Oregon to give humanity a strong push and a critical ‘slow down’. I’ll leave his greatest discovery until the end. Though his discoveries in understanding the structure of the protein and the impact of the vitamins in our nutrition were some of the great contributions. However, in a very short piece of article I can’t attribute his favor to humanity on a single discovery. Fair enough that the Nobel prize committee gave him his first award in Chemistry for all of his life contributions in chemistry combined rather than a single discovery as it is usually the case.

 

Science cannot be stopped. Man will gather knowledge no matter what the consequences – and we cannot predict what they will be.Science will go on — whether we are pessimistic, or are optimistic, as I am. I know that great, interesting, and valuable discoveries can be made and will be made… But I know also that still more interesting discoveries will be made that I have not the imagination to describe — and I am awaiting them, full of curiosity and enthusiasm”

Linus Pauling, 1949

Pauling gave the human race a great ‘slow down’ that very likely did save earth creatures from extinction. His activism against nuclear bombs testing helped to create a huge alliance of scientists who showed their clear opposition to such massively destructive tool. The humanity truly owes him and those courageous men and women in the white coat uniform who carried the power of wisdom to stop or at least slow down the most dangerous and unwise tests since the existence of the very first Homo sapiens ! … Speaking of such word , Homo Sapiens means in Latin : ( Wise Man ). Let’s hope we are still living up to the definition of our evolutionary status !

Celebrating Linus Pauling's birthday, Benny and I hold 2 medals peace and chemistry Nobel Prize awards. The only unshared awards by a single man in different fields.

Celebrating Linus Pauling’s birthday, Benny and I hold 2 medals peace and chemistry Nobel Prize awards. The only unshared awards by a single man in different fields. This beaver arms are so big that the medal in his hand was out of the frame !

 

I don’t share the magnitude of any of the wisdom, courage, creativity of Linus Pauling. I barely share with him the campus he once studied and taught at.  And once met his greatest discovery. I know I’m going to talk about ‘it’ soon ! Caltech would have the honer of his later discoveries and accomplishments. I do hope we could encourage kids to take risks as he used to in his childhood. I wish to have our graduate students, scholars and researchers to have the courage and wisdom to be selective in their pursuit for knowledge that adds the most to humanity. Thinking of that, it is not the magnitude of what Linus did, it is the direction. Choosing the right direction is of a higher priority than the magnitude.

 “I have always wanted to know as much as possible about the world.”

     -Linus Pauling In His Own Words (1995) by Barbara Marinacci

Cover of How to Live Longer and Feel Better by Linus Pauling to illustrate article on him and on Vitamin C mega dosage.

 

Linus Pauling is a legendary person. However, despite his discovery of the chemical structure of the active component of of all living tissues; the protein, he failed in his attempt to propose a structure for the DNA ( read more about this blunder and other ones ). He had multiple careers in his life with very honorable aims.

 

 

 

 

 

 

– ” I have something that I call my Golden Rule. It goes something like this: (Do unto others twenty-five percent better than you expect them to do unto you.) … The twenty-five percent is for error. ”

– Pauling’s reply to an audience question about his ethical system, following his lecture circa 1961 at Monterey Peninsula College, in Monterey, California.

 

Wandering at his office placed at the Special collections in the fifth floor of the Valley Library in Oregon State University I find a love letter to his dedicated and faithful beloved one, Ava Helen. A lady who he met in one of the classes he was teaching. She amused him with her answers and did not stop there. She influenced his social conscious development and supported him in his scientific and activism journey. A partner who made this talented guy a great influencer in the 21st Century. No wonder, when Linus Pauling was asked about his greatest discovery, He would always say: “My wife”.

 

Praying for his soul rest in peace, I keep praying to soon discover my greatest discovery too ! But now it is time to get back to my research !!

Sami

 

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