Dispatch #1: Hong Kong, Karaoke Consulting, Coinus Interruptus and Dead Relatives

Scroll down ↓

1. More location independent workflow realities…

“Hey man, can you hear me?” I asked.

“Yeah, I can hear you along with a really loud karaoke version of Justin Bieber or something.”

Thus went my first experiment in location independent skype-based consulting. I was sitting on the mezzanine overlooking the lobby in the Sheraton, Hong Kong. My wife and daughter had crashed a few hours earlier, working hard to adapt to the 12-hour time change from NYC, and the 15-hour flight.

For the next few minutes, I wandered around the mezzanine, laptop in hand, headphones wrapping my ears, trying to find a location where the free wifi was strong enough to carry the skype signal, I could plug-in long enough to last the 1-hour call, but the guy in the lobby crooning along with his guitar was muffled enough to allow me to carry on a reasonable conversation through what I now know is not a noise-canceling mic.

My location-independent workflow takeaways:

  • Free wifi doesn’t necessarily mean “in your room.”
  • Buy a really good noise-canceling headset if you don’t want to sound like a total amateur on consulting calls
  • Try not to schedule clients within 72 hours of completing a 15 hour flight with a 12 hour time difference. It creates a lot of tension between your obligation to serve them well and your relentless desire to sleep.

2. Coinus Interruptus…

Seth Godin has been preaching the end of interruption-based advertising for some time now.

And, because NYC’s Times Square has been cleaned up and I tend to operate in a world where the marketing is driven more by conversation than interruption, I’d forgotten how truly annoying non-stop, personal interruption advertising can be…until I spent 3 days bopping around Kowloon in Hong Kong.

The first night, I ran downstairs to grab a bottle of water and a sticky bun. In the two blocks it took to get there and back, I was harangued, pestered and sometimes followed in an effort to get me to buy a tailor-made suit…6 times, a copy Rolex watch…4 times, copy handbags…twice (um, I’m a dude), and sex…once.

I blew it off and had a good laugh, recalling a not-too-distant past when Times Square had a similar vibe. Plus, these folks were jut out there trying to pay the bills.

But, after three days of being interrupted on the street, along with my wife and daughter, it got really annoying. I began to lose compassion for those were only trying to earn a living. And, “no thanks” eventually turned to “no, stop following us.”

I don’t like when my buttons become so pushed that my compassion begins to shut down. But, that’s exactly what happened.

In the end, though, I’m glad I had the experience, because it brought back what Seth was talking about. It reminded me how much of the business world still tries to build entire brands on the basis and interrupt and repeat…and how annoying and cloying that can become over time.

3. Dead relatives…

Hong Kong is an amazing city, maybe the only one I’ve ever flown over and gotten that same sense of expanse and density you get when you fly over NYC and realize just how big it really is.

It’s electric with people, aromas, sounds, stuff to buy, try and do. And, the more I explored, the more I found myself comparing everything to NYC. The streets are so much narrower, the prices even higher, the ferry’s a lot faster and smaller, the people speak faster (seriously, I never thought I’d say that), the blend of ancient and ultra-modern so much more transparent. And, it wasn’t long before “different” yielded to “better or worse.”

We’re all bent to compare and contrast.

Part of the way we give context and meaning to a new experience is by contrasting it with old ones. We put on “relative” lenses, looking how x experience is relative to y similar experience. There’s no way to get off the relative express, nor should we entirely seek to.

But, I began to wonder, after a few days in Hong Kong, how much of my current experience was being lost by my constant automatic contrasting with similar experiences in NYC. I began to feel it was taking away from my ability to just explore the moment, what was going on before me, without regard to how it compared to the past.

So, I created a practice of checking in and asking, “am I hear I this experience, or off trying to compare and categorize it?” And, if the answer was the latter, I’d take an extra beat to let go the comparison, to kill my relatives, even if just for a moment, in a attempt to be more engaged with my absolutes.

4. A matter of perspective…

On the last day in Hong Kong, we took a train, then a cable car to Lantau Island to visit the Po Lin Monastery and the world’s largest outdoor Buddha. Sitting atop 268 steps at 110 feet tall, it was striking. And it’s elevation drew a shroud of clouds as we approached. The picture above was taken by my daughter from the cable car.

What happened between leaving the cable car and getting to the top of the steps, though, was an exercise in oddity.

But, this post is getting long and I’m still a bit whacked out on jetlag. So, I’ll share the details in my next dispatch next Monday.

And, here’s a tease from our first day in Bali, too, which is when I’m writing this…

Driver: “Where are you guys from?”

Us: “New York.”

“Really? I thought you were from Europe.”

“Why’s that?”

“You’re not really big, like most of the Americans I drive…”

“Uh, thanks?”

Join our Email List for Weekly Updates

And join this amazing community of makers and doers. You know you wanna...

13 responses

13 responses to “Dispatch #1: Hong Kong, Karaoke Consulting, Coinus Interruptus and Dead Relatives”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by remarkablogger. remarkablogger said: RT @jonathanfields Dispatch #1: Hong Kong, Karaoke Consulting, Coinus Interruptus and Dead Relatives http://bit.ly/b3HIfT (pls RT) […]

  2. Haha, is that last one a compliment or not?

    How “big” is the average American anyways? 🙂

  3. Javier says:

    Interesting experience Jonathan!

    As adults we experience life in relationship with the past to assess if it conforms to our belief-systems, habits, and culture.

    As children, we just ask questions and record the answers without judgement on a clean slate experiencing the moment directly with no interference from the past.

    However, these answers knit the fabric of our beliefs against which we compare all experiences that follow. If we remain aware of the mechanics of experience and belief, we could manage to stay present and able to see the new without the lens that saw the old…

    Just Action!

  4. Jackie says:

    Thanks for the post you brought back some memories for me.
    My husband and I visited Lantau over 18 years ago, the Buddha was still under scaffold at that time, but still visible and the steps were partially under construction. As for a cable car, that was none existent. We had a bus journey that can only be described as a cross between a rollercoaster and a halo drop..what a ride.
    Hong Kong is an assault on your senses, and the contrast brings you a greater appreciation for what you have.
    Looking forward to your travel logs on your Bali adventure.

  5. LOL on the big American thing…I’ve heard that one too though white/flashy sneakers is also a giveaway.

    Know what you mean about compassion shutting down when the buttons are constantly pushed–good way to put it.

    Thanks for the vicarious travel experience 🙂

  6. Hugh says:

    Haha the exchange from the Bali cabbie is too funny. Yet kind of sad too!

    I hear you about comparing your travel experiences to other places. Describing a destination in the context of other destinations is all too easy and we are all guilty of it. I found it pretty cool when my wife and I returned from our recent trip to Vietnam and tried to explain the country to our friends here in New Jersey. We couldn’t compare it to anything. It was this amazing country with so many crazy, unique aspects that it was very difficult to explain to people without showing them photos.

  7. Looks like travel has awakened your muse! Great post. Looking forward to more reports from your living and working in Bali adventure!

  8. Tom Bentley says:

    Jonathan, I loved my short time in Bali, but I was startled at first how many people leap at you on the streets trying to get you to buy something. The guys shouting “Transport?” (wanting you to hire them to drive you somewhere) were crazed. And in one of the open-air marketplaces, a woman vending some tourist trinkets literally dragged me, with power, into her booth, shouting “You buy! You buy!”

    But the rest of Bali makes up for it. Just keep seeing that serene Buddha…

  9. Heather Holm says:

    I’m completely with you on the comparing vs compassion issue. Being in a foreign culture and location requires a total paradigm shift before you can comfortably function there. Most tourists never get there for lack of time to adjust or for the inability to shift gears – or vehicles, so to speak. What a gift it is to be able to do so.

    Modern culture is about change, so I believe that developing an ability to get out of your own culture and truly experience another prepares you for what may happen down the road. Consider that you are future-proofing your daughter.

  10. Nice post J – sounds like a whirlwind trip in the works. 🙂

    Thanks for the tip on the noise canceling headset. Great advice there. Looks like you have something else to add to your 21 pounds of technology for the next trip. 😉

    Enjoy the rest of your trip!

  11. Spending half my childhood in Tijuana I always thought I’d gotten numb to the street vendors, but looking back I realise that the constant pummeling still bothers me years later, and I know the street vendors in Mexico are not nearly as insistent as they are some places.

    I’m still trying to grasp the business thinking that says “This isn’t working; I’ll do more of it, louder!”

  12. […] if you’ve kept up with earlier dispatches, you already know that finding good internet connections, let alone places […]

  13. […] if you’ve kept up with earlier dispatches, you already know that finding good internet connections, let alone places […]