Kaizen Dojo (05/21/2019)

Welcome to the Kaizen Dojo Newsletter!

👋 Hey there!

Welcome to the Kaizen Dojo, my weekly email newsletter that I'm starting.

If you're receiving this email, it means that you're one of the lucky (or unlucky for some) ones that I thought might be interested in what I'll be writing about or just another way for keeping in touch.

I'll be mainly sharing articles, ideas and stuff that I learn during the week about topics such as education, self-improvement, culture, tech, product, sports and music.

I don't always share everything I'm doing or am somewhat vague, so here's a pretty in-depth personal update of what I've been up to for the past year!

What I've been doing

If somehow I was able to travel back one year ago and tell myself what would happen in a year from now, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't even believe it.

Here are the highlights of what happened in the last year:

  • Met an amazing person (who eventually became my girlfriend)

  • Travelled to Guatemala and Mexico City with some of my best friends

  • Left the consulting world and joined a small tech company as a Project Manager

  • Moved out of my parents house

  • Travelled to Italy with the girlfriend

  • Deleted both FB and Instagram Apps from my phone and set the settings to greyscale

My friends and I on top of the Acatenango Volcano in Guatemela

What am I up to now

👨‍💻 Work

The company I work for, GlobalVision, decided to create a product team and I was offered to join it as a Product Manager. As someone who is interested in multiple facets of a business (sales, engineering, marketing, product development), this feels like the perfect role for me as you need to have a good understanding of every aspects of the business to perform well as a Product Manager.

Kaizen is all about making small improvements over time that will compound. This is why I decided to join the Product Circle, a community in Montreal that consists of only product managers to give each other tips and tricks based on our daily experiences at work. This past week was the second meeting I attended and one of the product managers suggested I take the Product Manager courses given by the Pragmatic Institute. He said that it really changed the way he thought about product management, so I'm definitely going to be looking into it. If any of you have taken the class, I'd love to hear about it!

🎙 Projects

Last year, my brother and I decided to do a small project called the Kaizen Challenge, where we set ourselves a different challenge to complete every month (from learning how to cook Pho to learning Spanish). After 4 months, we stopped updating the blog and after 6 months, we stopped doing the challenges all together.

This year, I started a new project with my good friend Cheetah and decided to start a podcast, named the Totem podcast where we talk about self-improvement, the education system, photography, mindset, and much more! Unlike my previous project, I really want this one to work. We've already done a few interviews and are planning to start releasing episodes in July (hype!!!!!!) Be sure to subscribe to my newsletter if you aren't already so I can keep you updated ;).

✍️ Skills

One thing I've always had a hard time doing is explaining and/or summarizing ideas and concepts clearly and concisely and learning how to write better is one way to help me. Which is why I decided to enroll in an online writing class called Write of Passage taught by two of my favorite online writers: David Perell and Tiago Forte. I've always performed better in a class setting, and so far, I've already done a lot more than I would normally have. For example, this post I'm doing here is a part of one of our assignments!

📚 Books

I've been really bad with books since the beginning of the year. Right now, I'm reading a book on writing called Draft No.4: On the Writing Process by John McPhee (one of the most impactful teachers Tim Ferriss had when he was at Princeton University) and I'm hoping to do a summary of the book once I'm done reading it! I'm also reading High Output Management by Andy Grove, who is the former CEO of Intel and is highly recommended for anyone who wants to be a good manager by one of my favorite twitter follows, Keith Rabois.

📺 TV Shows

I don't watch TV Shows/Netflix as much anymore (except for GOT - which is now done), but one show I highly highly recommend is the anime Boku No Hero Academia. "Really, Alex? An anime? Are you like twelve?" Well yes, I still look like I'm 12, but trust me when I say it's GOOD. First of all, it's HYPE! I linked one of the hypest scenes of the show, just to give you a taste. After watching it, how can you NOT want to just stop right there and try and become the best at whatever you're doing? It also teaches you about grit, self-improvement, teamwork, passion and doing whatever it takes to be the best version of yourself. This show really transcends what the Kaizen Dojo is all about. Definitely look out for a blog post merging self-improvement and Boku no Hero in the near future!

What I've Learned

Here are some key learnings I've had in the past year.

  • Take action. I bought so many online courses, books, I read articles, I listened to podcasts, but I don't actually have anything to show for it. In only three weeks in of Write of Passage, I have my own website, an email newsletter and a blog post (this one), which is already 100% better than anything I've done from the last year. You won't get better at hockey if all you do is just watch youtube videos online. You have to go out and practice your stickhandling, your passing and your shooting. Same thing for anything else.

  • Don't stop exercising. These past few months have been hard for me. I feel that I'm not fully present at work, I have less energy and always feel drained after work. This is the complete opposite of how I felt at the end of 2018. Now it might be because of numerous other reasons, but one of them is that I stopped going to the gym. I injured myself playing hockey during the season, so I stopped going to the gym altogether. And if I look back in the past years where I was the most energetic and the most performant at work. Every single time, I was consistently going to the gym. So one thing I'm going to be focusing on is making sure I get a gym session AT LEAST once a week.

  • Move out ASAP. It is definitely more expensive, but overall the benefits outweighs the cons (if you’re budget allows it). For one, my relationship with my mom improved tenfold, because I can relate to her a lot more now. I finally understand everything she’s done for us and all of the hard work she’s put into raising us. I'm also someone who thrives when I get more responsibility and I feel I got better at time management because I know I have to fit in cooking, cleaning, groceries and laundry on a weekly basis, so I try to plan ahead. The freedom is probably the best perk of them all. Just knowing that you can do whatever you want, whenever you want is an amazing feeling.

  • Focus on one thing at a time. I still struggle with this a lot, since I just love so many things in life. But to advance, you HAVE to focus on one thing. Don't try and do one million things at a time and then put it only 10% in each. Choose one and go all-in. And if it doesn’t work out, stop it or pivot.

If you read up until here, props to you! But I promise, starting next week, the emails are going to be a lot shorter and more concise. So tune in next Tuesday for the first issue of the Kaizen Dojo Newsletter!

Thanks for reading!

Cheers,

Alexander

P.S. Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @ahughsam