Tuesday, 31 May 2016

A Great Orator.

Just in case you are wondering, this is me. Do I look like an ambivert? An extrovert? An introvert? What do each of them look like? We are all different at the end of the day. Today I would like to talk about something that we have to face in our lives and something that you would think that I would suck at because of my personality. However, you would be wrong.

Two of the biggest fears in life are death and public speaking. So, if you think about it some people would rather die than speak in front of a crowd of people.

You would think that public speaking would be the domain of the extrovert, wouldn't you? However that isn't necessarily the case. I'll give you an example, Me. It has always been quite comfortable for me to speak in front of people. I have quite a dry sense of humour and I like to make jokes in my talks and the more laughs I get the more energy I get and the better I can speak. As any stand-up comedian would tell you the worst thing is to tell a joke and for no one to laugh. It has happened to me on a number of occasions and it isn't the most comfortable thing that you can imagine.

Another thing that I have found about doing public speaking is that I get more nervous after I have finished than before I start speaking. That sounds weird, doesn't it? Why is that? Well, because an ambivert does not like to be the centre of attention when he or she puts her or himself out there, they are putting themselves so far out of their comfort zone that when they have finished their talk they are drained of energy. So I suppose I'm not really nervous as such, I'm just shocked at myself that I have gone out of my way to put myself in that position.

Another reason that we don't like public speaking is a prehistoric reason. Our ancestors had to survive, they had to avoid dangerous creatures that were looking for a meal and that whole idea of being watched was biologically a scary one. So, when we go out on that stage the reason some people get scared is because it feels like we are being watched. It feels as though we are prey for a much larger monster (the audience). We think that they are looking to catch us on a mistake or even make fun of us when it reality they are just thinking, especially if it is a serious speech that they want to get home and do something more fun than listen to you speak.

What advice can I give you if you have to get up a give a speech, presentation etc?

1. Prepare thoroughly. I'm terrible at this and tend to be able to wing it but I wouldn't recommend this as a strategy.

2. Don't use humour just because someone says it might help. It's got to be funny or you could fall flat on your face. Anyway with humour, a lot of the times it's not what you say, it's how you say it.

3. Toastmasters. Toastmasters is a worldwide organisation that helps people with public speaking. I would recommend joining your local chapter. It is a very supportive environment and at the very worst you might meet some new people.

4. Make sure that you know your subject back to front so that you know that you are the authority in that room on that subject. People have come to the room to listen to your expertise not to prey on you. If you realise this, you will feel a lot more confident.

Public speaking can be fun if you do it right and it doesn't matter what personality you are you will grow confident from a well received talk but just remember that as an introvert or ambivert, that they might want you to stick around afterwards to socialise. Do that but know your limitations and excuse yourself when it gets tiring.

Monday, 30 May 2016


We are going through the '21 signs that you might actually be an ambivert' article. Today we are onto number 8.

8. You can often go out and have hours of fun being the life of the party, but suddenly find that your energy has dropped, and all you really want to do is go home. 

Yep, this describes me to a tee. I like going out as much as the next person but in saying that it does take some effort to get me out. My friend always says that it takes a lot of work to get me out. He jokes about trying to get me to an event last year in which I was curious about but was a little bit apprehensive about going to. He said it was hilarious seeing me lying on my bed in the foetal position trying to play dead. In the end we did go out and it was an interesting event and I did have a good time.

I am like any ambivert in which I enjoy my time out but I have a limit and I am ready to go home. Me wanting to go home is about when my friend's red bull kicks in and he is ready to get the night started literally and until recently he couldn't understand why I wanted to go home. We have discovered that my energy had literally run out whereas he had been stimulated by the music, the people, the drink and maybe even the smoke and he was ready to go and he couldn't understand why I wanted to go home even though it was 4am.

So, what can you do in this situation? Here are some ideas:

1. Set a go home time. I can almost guarantee that your extroverted friend will say something like, "Why don't we just see what happens and then reevaluate after." If he or she says that, don't cave in. Tell him or her that if you go home then at that time, then it will be easier next time for you to go out.  They will kick up a fuss but stick to your guns.

2. Take the lead and go to places that you like to go to. If you let your extroverted friend lead you, you will be going to places that you are very uncomfortable in and this will take your energy away even quicker than normal.

3. Make sure that you choose places that are not that stimulating. Your extrovert friend will find it extremely boring but you have to insist that you will have a great time there and more people will turn up later. (Lie if you have to.)

4. If all else fails just get hideously drunk. You won't remember anything and you will be told that next day while you are nursing your headache that you were the life of the party and you had a great time. (This is probably not the best idea but it will get you through the night.)

Just remember your limitations and remind yourself that it is fun and that you will benefit more from socialising than sitting at home. Have fun!

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Eating alone

I was talking to someone last week. He is busy preparing for a year living in Seoul, South Korea. He told me he is learning Korean. I asked him to write some and he did. I think he wrote hello but I couldn't verify it. Anyway, what he did tell me was something that shocked me and that is, the fact that in Korea it is frowned upon to eat alone. In fact some places might not even allow it. I did some digging around the internet and it is true. Apparently the Korean word for family is they who eat together. I'm not sure if that is true. Can someone confirm that for me? What it did remind of however is why I get such surly service when I go to this one particular  Korean restaurant for lunch after working out. I thought that maybe they didn't like a white guy turning up towards the end of lunch service or they thought that my bag stunk too much because of gym clothes in it. No, it was the fact that I was eating alone, well at least I hope so. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. It also taught me the fact that I shouldn't go to Shin Okubo in Tokyo by myself. I kid you not I was thinking about doing it recently.

Why am I talking about eating alone today?

Well, I eat alone sometimes. Does it bother me? Sometimes it does but sometimes I just like to sit there and think about things while enjoying my food.

We have grown up learning that eating together is a social thing. Do you remember in primary school or elementary school the boy or girl who was eating alone in the corner? I bet you made fun of him or her. Don't lie, I'm sure you did. The thing is that he or she was probably enjoying the peace and quiet of the corner without listening to your inane conversation about where in the world the Smurfs lived or what make were your football boots that you got for your birthday the week before. They were probably introverts while the ambiverts and extroverts were trying to fit in and socialise with everyone they were being true to themselves by recharging at lunchtime by eating alone but we thought that they were being anti-social. The only ones being anti-social were us for making fun of them.

If you want to eat alone, eat alone. There is surely no law in any country that says that you have to eat in a group. If the restaurant you go to says that you can't come in just tell them that they obviously don't want your money and it take it somewhere else. They don't deserve your presence and your money. That is what I have done with the Korean restaurant that I mentioned above. Although I love their spicy pork dish, I find that the surly service is a big turn off and it doesn't make it a very enjoyable experience which is at the end of the day is why we go to restaurants to eat, for the experience and if you are not going to get a very good experience at one place you take yourself and your money to another place where you will get a nice experience and hopefully some good food.

Don't be frightened about eating alone. As some people say, if you can't enjoy your own company whose company can you enjoy?

Bon appetit.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Assert yourself

We are going through the 21 signs you might actually be an ambivert. You can see the link here.

Today we are onto number 7 which is 'Asserting yourself is tricky in many situations.'

Yes, I can relate to this one very well. We were talking the other day about how we as ambiverts can not rely talk about topics that we don't know much about whereas the more extroverted of us seem to be able to talk for hours about nothing in particular. (It's funny, when I write that, I have a picture of someone in my mind who is very good at that.)

I find in a group I will say something but of more occasions than not I get the silence especially after I say something that I thought was funny. Also I'm not very good at of the cuff speeches, I suppose that is why I joined toastmasters.

By the way, just to sidetrack for a moment, have you heard of toastmasters? It is an international organisation that teaches you about public speaking and leadership. It attracts a lot of people like myself who a wanting to be more assertive. Unfortunately I haven't been able to go to any meeting the last 18 months and I do miss it.

So, how do you assert yourself? Well I feel another blog post coming on with that.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Save your energy

Lets continue our look at the 21 signs you might actually be an ambivert. You can see the original here. Today we are onto number 6.

6. Your calm, controlled professional self feels like a very different person to the one your friends see.

This is an interesting one because as an ambivert you can be a very different person around people that you know very well and people that you don't know very well or have just met. Around people that you know well you will probably be at some stages the life of the party, especially if you have a few drinks in you. Also I find with my closest friends I will have no hesitation in calling them out on their nonsense much more readily than someone who is merely an acquaintance.

The interesting thing about the above statement is that in private I am calm and controlled. An introverted ambivert if you like however in work related situations I can be very extroverted. My friend calls this being a situational extrovert. This means that in situations where I consider it prudent I will come out of my shell and show that I am an extrovert just trying to break free. I'll give you an example. The aforementioned friend got married about five years ago. I went to his wedding. It was a Sikh wedding and if you are like me you may have watched the 2002 film Bend it like Beckham. In this movie they showed a few scenes from a Sikh wedding and it look like a lot of fun. Plenty of dancing, eating and drinking. Sounds like the perfect party to me. Anyway, my friend's wedding was no exception. There was plenty to eat. There was plenty to drink, although I didn't drink much and there was plenty of dancing. I must have been high on something because I went berserk. Very extroverted, right? Maybe it was the fact that my best mate had just walked down the aisle (or walked around the Guru Granth Sahib four times to be precise.) and I was honoured to be a part of it. Whatever it was, I can't remember being like it since. "Situational extrovert" I get reminded on regular occasions.

The whole idea of that story is to show that you do know how to come out of your shell and you do know how to scurry back in there as well. That is what being an ambivert is all about. Basically, as a classic 1970's song, you know when hold them, know when to fold, know when to go to bed, know when to dance. I admit that isn't exactly how the song goes but you get the picture right?

I think don't try to be someone that you are not around people you don't know. It is very draining and you are just going to come across as having less energy than you normally look like anyway. Play it cool around new people and be yourself around your old friends. You will preserve a lot of energy that way.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

I want to party .... for a little bit.

5. Spending too much time with other people can be exhausting.

This is the classic introvert one, isn't it? As you should know by now the classic difference between an introvert and an extrovert is that an extrovert gets his or her energy by being around people. By socialising with them and basically 'hanging out.' Whenever I think of that I have a picture in my mind of a woman that I have meet a handful of times. She is the stereotypical high energy extrovert. I remember last year walking into a bar in the Roppongi area of Tokyo and the only memory of that night is walking in and seeing this woman in the middle of the dance floor basically holding court. She was high on something and I'm sure that it wasn't red bull or any illegal substances if that's what you were thinking. She was high on the energy of the people around her.

Then we have the introvert who needs to be on their own to recharge. They need that solitude and it is no different with an ambivert.

Just to recap on what my definition of an ambivert is. An ambivert is someone who will go to the party and after two hours want to go home. An introvert probably won't go in the first place. What can be annoying for an ambivert is if he or she goes with his or her extroverted friend to the party because after a couple of hours that extroverted friend is all fired up. The night is still young and they are ready to go, they are ready to get this party started if you know what I mean. They are usually totally oblivious to the fact they their ambiverted friend is ready for some alone time.

What's the advice then? By all means go to that party. Have a great time, but as soon as you start feeling a little bit tired and you feel that your energy stocks are depleting then get out of there because you will start to not enjoy yourself and it will get doubly hard to go back again and as an ambivert you do like going out but just not in extended bursts.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Listen: You have two ears for a reason.

4. But as soon as that's done, you'll happily sit listening to the conversation without saying another word.

We are up to number 4 on the list of the 21 signs you might actually be an ambivert. The number 3 statement was about you as an ambivert talking for an extended period about something that you are passionate about.

Of course when that conversation has played itself out we, meaning us introverts and ambiverts will always slip back into type. That is we will listen to other people talking and bullshitting and will contribute a very minimal amount to the conversation if any amount.

I know from experience that I am very much like this. I will talk all night about rugby or cricket or something like that but when the conversation changes to something that I know not much about I won't even pretend that I am an expert and I don't say much .

Remember that you don't have to participate just because everyone else is. You may want to participate because you are a little afraid that other people might think you are being a little snooty. Well, my advice for you when that happens is to try not to worry about what other people MIGHT be thinking. That's their problem, not your problem.

In summary speak when you want to and don't feel that you have to when you are not sure about the topic. You will just come across at awkward.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Talking for the sake of it

We are onto number 3 of this link.

3. When a topic of interest comes up in conversation, you're more than happy to talk in great deal about it.

Generally, ambiverts aren't the greatest conversationalists. Although as the above statement suggests when a topic that an ambivert knows a bit about comes up then they can talk about it for hours.

I remember I was at a party and a couple of my friends were talking about cricket and were about to start an argument with me about it when they realised that they were not even going to get remotely close to winning so they decided against it.

There are some people out there and I can think of a couple already who can talk about anything and literally bullshit their way through a conversation about any topic. I sometimes look at these kind of people and get a little bit jealous became they seem to be holding court but in reality probably no one is listening. So why are you jealous of him or her?

They say that you have two ears and one mouth for a reason so don't worry if you don't have a lot to say by listening you might learn something and at the very least by not saying anything you are showing that you are not an idiot. People who talk too much can show that they are idiots and it doesn't reflect well on them.

When a topic that you know comes up, by all means show your full voice. When you have nothing to say, don't force yourself. You will be the better for it. 

Monday, 23 May 2016

Alone or with friends?

Remember this link from yesterday? Well, we are onto number 2 now:

Generally, you're always happy to meet new people, but you're probably be uncomfortable if you have to do it without any of your existing friends with you.

This is an interesting one and like any ambivert it is very much case by case. For me I tend to prefer to meet new people by myself and I have no idea why. Maybe I think that I'm going to be compared to my friend who I am there with although one of my friends thinks that because he is around it makes me look better. Maybe he is right I'm not sure.

What I have been uncomfortable in the past is being the wingman. For those of you who are not familiar with this term, it is when two people are out and one  sees another person that they want to talk to and they are also with a friend so the wingman talks with the other friend while your friend talks to the other person. Clear as mud?

Don't get me wrong, I do like going out with my friends but sometimes it is uncomfortable for me talking to strangers like any introverted ambivert.

Hopefully I can get over this by talking to another stranger tomorrow. I've done it for the last couple of days and it is well worth it. Give it a try.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

A stranger to conversation

I first came across this book about three years ago. This is when I really understood myself and why I do (or don't do) what I do (or don't do).

After reading that book and watching various videos and the like, I really became interested in this whole introvert phenomenon. I also came across this link and it is this link that I would like to talk about over the next few days. I would just like to give my comments on each of 21 statements and give you my experience.

So, as Julie Andrews sang, "lets start from the very beginning, a very good place to start."

Number 1: When you're out in the world, you're probably not going to be starting conversations with strangers.

Naturally, if you are shy then no you won't be doing any of that stuff. If you are introverted then you probably are not going to be doing that either.

Just to sidetrack for a second. Isn't shyness and introversion the same? No. According to Susan Cain they are different. She says that shyness is the fear of negative judgement while introversion is a preference for quiet, low-stimulating environments.

OK, back to starting conversations with strangers. I know for me it is very much case by case. Sometimes I can start conversations with anyone anywhere. Sometimes I can't even start a conversation with myself.

OK, so from today, I will try to start one conversation with a stranger everyday. I will report back once a week and tell you how it's going. Should be fun. Wish me luck.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Saying hello

A few years ago I would go to various networking events and parties. For business purposes I would go along, meet a few people, exchange business cards, have a bit of chit chat and go home. The events and parties were quite fun but for me they were really tiring. I was definitely outside my comfort zone.

Even now, for me, going to parties and and starting conversations with strangers is very difficult. The other day I went to my friend's wedding party. There was about 80 people or so there. I'm single and of course I'm interested in meeting single women. However the old Blair returned. There were a lot of beautiful single women there and I couldn't say a thing.

Why is that?

The first reason is that I am thinking too much. "If I say hello, I might get rejected and that would be very embarrassing." I just stayed in that room until the end of the party and I didn't do a thing. What a waste of time, don't you think?

The second reason is that because it is a wedding party and think that doing some flirting or chatting up someone is not really appropriate. Naturally this is a really stupid way of thinking. If you see someone you are attracted to you should always approach them. This is not flirting or chatting someone up, your way of thinking should be that by approaching them you are going to make their day even better that it was before. If she rejects you then that is her problem. She is probably just not in the right place to accept you. You just say ok and move on. The other day, I completely forgot that.

The third reason is that sometimes I lose some confidence and I can't say a thing. I'm thinking to myself "She doesn't want to listen to me" or "This shirt looks really bad on me." These are just excuses and pretty poor excuses at that.

I've learnt from various books that the best thing to do is to look at something, find something and make a comment about it. For example, "that's an interesting watch. Where did you get it?'

The other day at the wedding party I saw a woman that I was interested in. I noticed that she went up a couple of times to get some dessert. It would have been really easy to say something like "Isn't that your second plate of dessert? You must have a really big sweet tooth." Of course I couldn't say anything like that. I couldn't say anything at all. Oh well! Next time.

For me, saying something to strangers is really difficult but like anything to get better at it you need to practice and practice and practice some more. That is the secret.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Rejection! Is it best to be rejected?

Last year I read a book. Rejection Proof is about a Chinese guy who lives in America. When he was 17 years old he went to the States as an exchange student. He entered a prestigious university, got an MBA and joined a Fortune 500 company, bought a big house, got a dog and was living the stereotypical American dream.

However, despite all of this he was not happy. He didn't want to be a company guy who dutifully went off to work everyday, he wanted to be an entrepreneur. Even though he was making over $100,000 a year he wanted to start his own business.

One Independence Day while he was watching the fireworks, he decided that he would give up is $100K a year job and start a company that created apps.

Of course when you start a company you need to get some kind of start up capital so you can start the company.

He had hired a development team. He had a whole list of investors who were interested in investing in his company. However he made a presentation to a potential investor who he thought would invest in his company.

The answer was no however. He wanted to give up. He had heard the word no once and his whole dream was falling down around him.

But when he thought about it, he realised that the word no is part of business. He realised that in business you don't only hear yes but you hear no as well. Because of this he decided to challenge himself. Over a period of 100 days he would challenge himself to be rejected everyday.

For example, he went to a fast food restaurant and instead of asking for another drink refill, he asked for a burger refill. At a donut shop he asked for five donuts that looked like the Olympic rings.

Of the 100 challenges he set himself, my favourite one was that he went to a guy's place who he didn't know and ask him if he could play soccer in his backyard. The guy was so surprised that he granted him his wish.

He kept on hearing no over the 100 days and grew immune to it. I know in the past if I had heard the word no I would go home, go to bed and not come out for three days.

My friend and I have this kind of challenge going at the moment. It isn't a no challenge per se but it is a challenge in which we try to get out of our comfort zone. For example as we are walking down the street we smile at someone walking the other way or we make everyday chit chat with someone in a convenience store.

For an ambivert like me, this kind of challenge is really scary. But if I can complete it then my social and business life will become better. I'll do my best.

If you are interested, have a look at this website.

Also you can find out more information from this book.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Is this guy an ambivert?

The other day I watched a documentary about a famous Australian cricket player. Shane Warne is without a doubt the most famous cricketer in history. He is a legend of the game taking over 700 wickets in test matches. Every time I watched him play when he was at his peak, I would expect something to happen. It was exciting and captivating.

On the other hand, controversy seemed to follow him around. There were allegations of match fixing. He was banned for 12 months for taking a drug that was on the restricted list. He was caught smoking a cigarette during a a game. He was involved in scandals involving sexting and infidelity. He was also involved in poker. (although that isn't bad)

While I was watching the documentary he said this thing' "I like to go to parties, but then sometimes I like to kick back on the sofa and relax."

After I finished watching this documentary, I thought about what he said quite a bit. Is this guy an ambivert? I thought long and hard about this. I came to the conclusion that yes, he is an ambivert but not the same kind of ambivert as me.

I have never met Shane Warne but I have watched a number of interviews with him. From those interviews he seems a very positive person. He talks about his life unashamedly and he has nothing to hide. I remember one interview with the renowned British interviewer Michael Parkinson in which he said a number of times that he can ask him anything. I like that and I think it shows a lot about the man. He's straight up and seems to answer honestly. I have respect for that.

For example, just before the 2003 Cricket World Cup, Shane Warne was banned for one year for taking drugs. It turned out that it was a diuretic that his mother gave him. so that he could lose a bit of weight. He was very open about it all but the media and some of his former team mates were very critical of his mother which Shane Warne took offence to. Even superstars are people too and I can understand why he took offence.

However he and I and not the same type of ambivert. Since last year I have been interested in the concept of the ambivert. I have read several different articles and books and I believe that you can not classify us in the same group.

Why is that? We all like to watch television. We all like to listen to music. We all like to read books. We all like to relax. The difference however is that the introverted person can do that all day. The more extroverted person after watching a movie by him or herself would crave some kind of social outlet. Why is that? Because extroverts get there energy from other people. They want to be around other people.

Shane Warne is very much an ambivert but from what I can see would be on the extroverted side of the spectrum. Whereas I am on the introverted side of the spectrum.

If someone says to you, "I'm an ambivert too." Think about it for a few moments. Are they more introverted or extroverted? You should be able to work that out quite quickly.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Extroverted me, Introverted me.

I found this page sometime last year. This page was the background to my Japanese language blog about ambiverts.

Today I would like to look at 2 statements from this page and relate them to my experience.

First of all number 13.

13. Too much time spent alone can leave you a bit downcast and you're concerned that it's not very productive.

The first time I came to Japan was at the end of March 1992. For 9 months I would go to school in the morning to study Japanese and then in the afternoon and early evening I would do some part time work at Korakuen Amusement Park in the middle of Tokyo. At that time I couldn't really speak Japanese so the first 6 months was quite trying.

Also for an ambivert, meeting new people is quite tiring. We have a whole host of questions in our mind, "what is this person like?" "Can I trust this person?" "Is this person friend or foe?" It is very difficult.

Therefore when I was working at Korakuen, there were many days that I would just spend the whole day in my room. Usually this was on a Sunday. Sundays at the amusement park were as you can probably imagine, very crowded and for an ambivert like me that sounds like not the best way to end the week. The best ways to avoid those crowds of people was to stay in my room and to not talk to anyone.

Next, lets have a look at number 14.

14. And some of the best weekends of your life have been when you didn't go home for three days.

Yes, I have had a few weekends exactly like that.

In 1997 I returned to Japan and worked for the Japanese government as an Assistant Language Teacher in Kimistu, Chiba Prefecture, a prefecture boarding onto Tokyo. Of course, from the beginning it was trying. There were lots of people who I didn't know. I had absolutely no experience in the work that I was supposed to be doing and what I thought was even worse was that the schools that I went to had no idea how to use me in their organisations.

In spite of all this I gradually started meeting the various foreign people who lived in the neighbouring cities as well as locals who had overseas experience. I made friends and started to be invited to various parties and gatherings.

One particular weekend we decided to go to Tokyo for a bit of a night out. Usually I would play soccer or baseball or basketball after school but this particular Friday I went home straight away and went to Roppongi which is a very interesting entertainment district in Tokyo. For me when I was living in Tokyo going to Roppongi was very rare and I got quite excited about it this particular day. Ironically, now, I live about 500 meters or ten minutes walk from Roppongi Station. When I was living in Kimitsu, it took about two and a half hours to get there by train.

Anyway, we make out way to Ropppongi and we have a good night drinking, dancing, flirting and I arrive home at my apartment at 8.30am the next day. I immediately crash on my bed and within seconds I am sleeping like a log. At 10am I get a call from a friend inviting me to come with him to the beach. I love the beach and it didn't take me long to say yes. Even though I had only one hour of sleep we all piled into my car and went off to the beach. At the end of the day at the beach, the four of us decided to go to a famous bar on the way home. We were there until about 3am and I finally got home at about 4 or 5 am. I have no idea what I did on the Sunday ...

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Facebook: Sharing

People who use Facebook usually share various things. When I first started using Facebook I would often share photos. However, now with things like Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat you can share your photos in many different places.

I haven't shared many photos on Facebook recently. I have been using Instagram a lot more for that. On Facebook I tend to share articles, videos and memes as opposed to photographs.

On the 11th of March, 2011, Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg really earned his billions and billions of dollars. People at that time used Facebook to spread information around Japan about the situation in Fukushima. Facebook became a very important thing for foreigners living in Japan. They were able to Facebook to keep in contact with the people back in their home countries and they were able to keep everyone calm as a lot of the news channels were showing that Japan was doomed. Through Facebook, families all over the world were able to find out that that wasn't necessarily the case.

Actually after the earthquake I went home to New Zealand. By doing that I became a Flyjin. Flyjin is a made up word that foreign people who remained in Japan called the foreigners who went back to their home countries.

Through Facebook I am also able to keep up to date with the latest news. In fact it was through Facebook that I first discovered that the legendary All Blacks' rugby winger Jonah Lomu had passed away.

As an ambivert I might not be able to share my opinions at a party but I might be able to do it on Facebook.

Although there are many good things, there are a few bad things as well. An example of this would be the people who share too much. I'm not saying that they share once a day but they share things over 10 times a day. At the end of the day it is basically noise and it can be frustrating as you go through your newsfeed.

Another bad thing is the incidence of online bullying. When people who don't understand or agree with your opinion get online they can sometimes with the veil of anonymity get quite nasty and it is not a good situation. There have been some cases of suicide because of online bullying.

Facebook if it is used properly is a great tool. You can see lots of interesting things. You can read interesting articles, watch funny videos. You can find out about current events and you can also find good jokes to laugh about.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Facebook: Family and Friends

I have 563 friends on Facebook according to my last count. There are people from all over the world on the list. A very international Facebook account indeed. One day when I had a little bit of time on my hands I counted that I had more than 30 nationalities. Naturally the most people were from New Zealand and Japan.

For me the best thing about Facebook is that I can keep in touch with family members and people I went to school with.

I'm the eldest grandchild on both my mother's and father's side. After my brother and I, the next oldest cousin is 36 while the youngest is 12. A real generation gap there. However when I look at their Facebook photo I can see how they are going. I can contact them periodically if I want. That's a nice thing. Also I see via Facebook what cousins are having children and I can keep up to date on all that news.

Another good thing about Facebook is that I can sort of be introduced to my cousins' partners. I become friends with them and I can learn about them and they can learn about me through my posts. Some of the partners I haven't met and I can build a relationship through Facebook.

Another good thing about Facebook is that you can keep in touch with your old school friends. I went to an all boys high school and I have friends and acquaintances all over the place. Through Facebook I can see what guys in my class at school, guys in my sports teams at school are doing now. The thing that surprised me the most was that there are a lot of guys not living on New Zealand but all over the world. From memory, there are guys in the UK, Sweden, South Korea, the USA, Japan, Thailand, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, Singapore and Argentina.

Facebook is really good for sharing your thoughts, opinions and photos but sometimes I do get homesick. Late last year my family got together at my aunt's place to celebrate Christmas. The next day someone had put a photo on Facebook and had tagged me. For me Christmas is one off the best times of the year. Our family party is always fun playing games and getting our photo taken wearing our Santa hats.

Even though we get homesick, through Facebook we can keep friendships going and arrange to meet old friends. It is for this reason that I will continue to use Facebook for the coming future.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Facebook advice for ambiverts

Do you use Facebook? How many friends do you have? 50? 100? 500? 5000?

Have you ever felt some kind of jealousy while you were looking at your newsfeed? To be honest, I have. There are three types of jealousy for me.

The first type of jealousy for me would be the envy at the people going on a trip. They always post photos of the various countries they go to. They always post photos of the exotic food they are eating while looking at the magnificent view and they always post photos of the local people they meet. Yep, when I see these types of photos I get extremely jealous.

The second type of jealousy is when people post photos of their lifestyle.
"Look at the really cool, expensive restaurant I am eating at today."
"This hotel is the best I have ever stayed in."
"Don't you think this incredibly expensive bottle of wine looks really delicious?"
They always put these kinds of photos on Facebook.
Late last year a woman in her 20's was arrested here in Tokyo for fraud. From memory she was selling fake goods on the internet but calling them the real thing. It also turned out that she used Twitter to showcase her extremely luxurious lifestyle.

The third type of jealousy is from people who like to post on Facebook about the parties they go to and they they like to talk about the thousands of friends they have.

Yep when I look at the three types of posts from above I get jealous, I'm not going to lie. Of course I want to go to that country but today I have work. Of course I want to go to that high end restaurant because lets call a spade a spade, my cooking isn't that great. I'm an ambivert so maybe I want to go to that party. I see the photos of all the gorgeous looking women at the party. I look at all the people smiling at the camera looking like they are having a whale of a time dancing, singing, drinking some delicious looking drinks, I get jealous. However the introvert in this ambivert even though he thinks that he wants to go along to these parties, also is a little uneasy at the thought of it.

However, when I do look at these photos and when I wish that I was at the parties etc I try to remember that I have goals and that I have a plan and that even though I might be jealous now, if I work hard and smart then in five years I can go to those countries. I can go to those restaurants. I have to work for it.

The secret with Facebook is to not think too much. Do you know the background to that party? Those people who are smiling in that photo may have had an argument before and are just acting for the camera. They might be going to resume their fight the moment the camera person turns away. You just don't know.

As an ambivert don't worry too much about what other people are showing on Facebook. Let them live their lives and you live your life. That's the secret.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Team sports? Individual sports?

I first started playing organised sport when I was 7 or 8. In the summer I would play cricket and in the winter I would play football (soccer). At that time I was undoubtedly less outgoing than I am now so I wonder why I chose to play a team sport as opposed to an individual sport. It's a mystery, I know. Now, I would classify myself as a bit of an ambivert while then I was definitely an introverted child.

Why didn't I choose an individual sport? Well, I believe that there are three reasons for that.

The first reason would be family. In New Zealand, traditionally the four popular sports would be rugby union, rugby league, netball and cricket. As you would probably know all of these are team sports. My family like cricket and rugby. In fact my father was coach of one of the top high school cricket teams for a number of years. Ironically my brother is the coach of the same team now. I remember going along to watch my father play cricket every Saturday so that was why I chose that sport even though I am sure that my parents would have supported me even if I had decided to play underwater tiddly winks.

The second reason would be friends. At primary school, my best friend was Ieuan. I was in the same football team as Ieuan until in our first year of middle school he decided to go and play field hockey. Of course you like to hang out with your friends, so the following year, I decided to go and play field hockey. In Japan, where I am living at the moment there is an after school, school called juku. For English speakers it would be known as cram school. Why do children in Japan want to go to juku? Is it because they want to get into an exclusive school or is it because the parents want it? I don't think that it is either of these things. Well in some cases maybe but in most cases I would say that it gives the children more opportunities to hang out with their friends.

The third reason would be television. When I was a child, you could watch, rugby, cricket and football. That was about it. We didn't have cable television and there wasn't much of a chance to watch other sports. When the Olympics rolled around then we could watch minor sports like equestrian or canoeing or rowing. However, when the Olympics were over, one month later we would forget about these sports as we watched what was going on in the rugby.

It is because of these three reasons I believe that I chose teams sports over an individual sport. I'm in my 40's now and I have basically given up team sports and I do Crossfit. Crossfit is done in a group but it is basically an individual sport. My father, who is 64 is really into his golf. Before he took up golf seriously he played lawn bowls. Lawn bowls is played individually or in a small team. So maybe as we get older we try introverted sports.

Anyway, whatever you do give it 100%. I was very half-assed at some stages and I regret that now. Even now I don't really give Crossfit 100%. Whether you do team sports or individual sports, give it your all and the results you get will be great. Your self confidence will go up and you will feel so much better about yourself.

Just in case you don't know what lawn bowls is. Here is a video from youtube:

Friday, 13 May 2016

To go out or to stay in?

Yesterday I introduced the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a world that won't stop talking. This book is about introverts. Most of you probably know the antonym of introvert and that would be extrovert. But let me introduce you to a word that might not be in your vocabulary. That is the word ambivert.

If an introvert is someone who gets power from being alone or with a small group, then an extrovert is someone who gets power from being at a party or with a large group.

So what is an ambivert? From what I can tell, an ambivert is someone who is happy in either situation. They can go to the party or they are equally happy staying at home and watching a DVD.

So, what are you? Do you need to be around a lot of people or do you need the space to be alone or with your closest friend?

For introverts don't feel pressured that you have to go out and be the life of the party. Look after yourself. You want that down time to refresh.

For extroverts, don't feel like the introvert in your life is offending you when they reject your invitation this weekend. They are not rejecting you. In fact when they say no, it hasn't really got anything to do with you at all, they just need that time to relax and be alone with their thoughts. Go out and have a great time. You will find that you don't need your introverted friend anyway to have a good time because you can chat with and make friends easily anyway.

Have a good weekend and just do what you want to do and I'm sure you will have a great time. Thank god it's Friday!

Thursday, 12 May 2016

I'll stay in tonight

About three years ago I was in a library and I came across this book.

This is a book about introverts and how we live in an extroverted world and the people who don't shout out tend to be left behind because maybe they can't put across their views and opinions as well as someone who is a bit more extroverted and "out there."

It was a very interesting book and it opened my eyes to why I am like am. For example one of the stories that the author, Susan Cain told was about an introvert giving a speech or a presentation. I've always thought of myself as being a competent public speaker and unlike most people it doesn't freak me out and I have had the experience of speaking to over 1000 people in both English and Japanese and it turned out to be fine. In fact, that interesting part was, I was more nervous after the speech than before. Strange, eh? The reason I found out from this book was that, because I was so far out of my comfort zone in front of all of these people, I felt so drained of energy at the end of it that I had to run away and be by myself for a few moments. This in a nutshell is the difference between an introvert and an extrovert.

An introvert gets energy from being either alone in solitude or with one or two other people while an extrovert has to be surrounded by a lot of people, being the centre of attention, partying the night away, charming the people around her or him.

This book really showed me the differences and why people are why they are like that. Even my friend and I had a eureka moment where we both understood why he would want to go out on the town, where I was rather reluctant, shall we say.

It is really interesting once you realise who and what you are as you can stop playing a character you may have been playing up until now just to fit in with the people around you. You can reject that invitation for the fifth party in five days because you may want some time alone to relax and think in solitude. Also it helps you interact with people around you as you know why they do what they do.

I suggest having a read of the above book, whether you are extroverted or introverted. You may learn a thing or two about yourself. I know I did.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Tokyo Stopover

Here is the scenario, you are in Tokyo, Japan on a business trip or you have a few days layover. You don't know anyone except your business contacts in Tokyo. What do you do? How are you going to spend your few days off? What do you want to do? Do you want to do what the guide books says or do you want to do what your Kiwi guide says?

Below are ten ideas I can give you that you can do in and around Tokyo, Japan that they might not talk about in the books but once you make the decision to go you will be happy you did.

1. Go to a public bath. For first timers this can seem weird and even a little daunting but I assure you after the initial shock of naked people walking around, you will love it. I took my cousin a few years ago and he said in the changing room that it was the most bizarre thing that he was about to do in his life. Two minutes later he thought that it was really cool and thought out loud whether something like it would take off in his home town in New Zealand.

2. Take a couple of hours and go to Kappabashi. This is only a five to ten minute walk from Asakusa that I'm sure all of the guide books will say to go to. Kappabashi is the area where you can find all of the fake food. The samples, the displays outside restaurants that show you what is on the menu. They have all sorts of other things too but the sample shops seem plentiful. Be warned though, they are available to buy but can be quite expensive.

3. Go to Tsukishima. This is a man-made island near Ginza that serves monjayaki. This is sort of the local food of the area and I won't lie to you in some cases it looks like that someone has vomited on the hot plate. I assure you that it is very delicious and most of the shops are small so you can really get to know the other customers. My father thought it was the highlight of his trip interacting with the locals.

4. Shoben Yokocho. This is translated as Piss Alley and the reason is that there is only one toilet for the whole street. Now, this is probably in your guide books but it is really cool and like Tsukishima you can interact quite intimately with the locals.

5. Maid Cafes. I have only been to one of these once and it was an interesting experience. For what it is, it is quite expensive for average food at the best and you get to see young women dressed up as maids treating you like you have come home after a long day at work. There is no sexual element to this besides the people who have that kind of fetish and it is a subculture of the Akihabara area of Tokyo where you can buy any kind of electronic equipment that you can think of.

6. If you are in Tokyo during summer I suggest going down to the Shonan coast. It is about one hour out of Tokyo and it is where Tokyoites go to cool off in the Pacific Ocean. Please don't expect the water to be pristine and have golden sand on the beaches. They are packed and the water can be dirty but the interesting thing is that they have, dotted along the beaches tents called umi no ie. These are places that you go and sit down, have a beer, eat something, hire boogie boards and even have a shower. Some of them can be quite elaborate and will have events during the summer like salsa dancing and DJs.

7. If you are into sports and you are from a Commonwealth country I suggest you take in a professional baseball game. For cricket loving people you may not understand the strategies but the actual premise of the game is quite simple, try and score more runs than the opposition. Easy.

8. For those cricket players a trip to the local baseball batting centre would be fun for you. Just like facing a bowling machine you get lots of 20 balls thrown at you and you have to try and hit a home run. It is a lot of fun and you can challenge yourself at 150 clicks. I tell you after facing that my wagon wheel would look like I had hit all of my runs either through all over the slips. Some people out there would suggest that that is my reality anyway, so what is different?

9. Spend a night in a izakaya. These are one of the places in Japan where everyone can really wind down and have a few beers and something to eat. The food is usually shared and some of the places have great variety. My friends love them.

10. The last one is going to be on page one of all the guide books but this is my reason for going to this attraction. Tokyo Disneyland. Yes, you heard me correctly, Tokyo Disneyland. This is a great place and it is a type of place that adults should go at least once in their lives. It is a chance for you to be a child again. To throw away those adult inhibitions and insecurities and just be a kid again.

There it is, 10 places to see in and around Tokyo. There are others I have left out but you can always do your own research for places that you like and explore them.

Have fun!!!

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Never, never, never give up. Thank you Winston.

The godfather of the self-development genre is arguably Napoleon Hill. Napoleon Hill's most well known book is Think and Grow Rich published in 1937. Most of the self-help "gurus" cite this work as a big influence in their work. People like Anthony Robbins and Brian Tracy have been influenced by this book.

I was reading the chapter yesterday on Persistence. Persistence is very important in anything you do and without it you are going to be up the proverbial creek without a paddle.

One of the first things that struck me was that persistence can sometimes be misunderstood for ruthless and cold-blooded behaviour. That is so true. When we observe someone trying to get what they want we look at it from our rose tinted glasses and we think what an idiot, when in fact we should be applauding these people for going after exactly what they want.

The second thing I noticed is that the lack of persistence is a real weakness in most of us. Napoleon Hill says that this can be overcome by effort. I must admit that this blog has required a lot of persistence. They have been a few times over the last 38 days that I have seriously thought about why I am doing this and whether I should continue with this challenge especially when there hasn't been any obvious things to blog about. Napoloen Hill says however that the starting point of all achievement is desire and my desire is to beat a friend of mine who is also blogging daily as well. We are keeping each other going. This is my Master Mind if you like. Another one of Hill's suggestions in his book.

If you attain the habit of persistence, Hill says that you can never fail because it will always allow you to stand up and go again and that is the secret isn't it? Stand up and go again. It is just a temporary defeat.

What really struck a cord with me about this chapter yesterday was the list of the symptoms of lack of persistence and the last one was fear of criticism. People won't do things for the fear of being criticised by people around them. Usually this just exists in our mind and it isn't a physical fear like jumping out of an airplane for example. I mean, you will never see me jump out of an airplane because it scares the sh*t out of me. However if I advertise my blog, what's going to happen? Let me think about that for awhile. Well, some people might actually read it. That's good isn't it? What am I scared of? Also, I'm providing content for the internet. I'm a producer as opposed to a user. That's good too, isn't it?

We are scared to take chances because of the fear of criticism when in fact rather than criticising, we should be congratulating them.

There is a little story in the chapter about Wallis Simpson and her persistence to get what (or who) she wanted. So she should have been congratulated too, but I'm sure that wasn't the case in 1930's Britain. I wonder what would have happened and how history would have changed if King Edward VIII stayed on as king. They should make a movie about that like this movie:

If you know what you want and want it enough then don't give up. Go after it because you can't lose and the people who doubt you and criticise you will suddenly be on your side.

Monday, 9 May 2016

Good Morning!

I would like to talk to you about the Miracle Morning and give you an update about how I'm going. It has only been a few days so I must admit that it isn't an ingrained habit yet but it has been an interesting exercise.

For those of you who don't know, recently I read the book that is pictured below:

It suggests that you start your day with a structured routine. To kick start your daily activities to get a head-start on the day. The author got up at 5am and did a few things that allowed him to get his life back on track.

The author, Hal Elrod introduced his system called SAVERS which is 6 things to do in the morning to really give you a lift.

I am following this system and so far so good. I must admit that I have missed the 5am wake up call a couple of times but only by a few minutes. So I would be starting at about 5.15am which isn't too bad if you think about it.

The six activities I am following are:


I am thinking of bringing thinking time (or as it is popularly known as, TT) into my system. This will only add another 15 minutes or so to the daily routine.

What are the good things and the not so good things that I have found out about the Miracle Morning?

Lets start with the good things shall we:

1. It is allowing me to do things that I might not want to make time for during the day. The examples of these are the meditation, affirmations and visualisation. These can be hard work because you for all intents and purposes are just sitting there doing nothing which is quite difficult, believe me.

2. Journalling has become a daily habit. This is a chance to get all of your thoughts down on paper and it can be very therapeutic.

3. My pushups are becoming better. I have never been very good at pushups and to be honest  still struggle with them but I tag some on at the end of my exercising and they are getting better. It will be interesting to see what happens in the coming weeks.

4. I feel much more awake earlier in the morning and the earlier start allows me to get more done throughout the day and at some stages during the last two or three weeks I have got everything I need to be done my lunchtime when in the past I would have procrastinated until night time.

5. It doesn't feel like I am wasting a day because I'm getting up with a purpose, it only seems logical to get other things done as well. So most of the time I am out the door before 7. I feel very productive.

6. All of this only takes exactly one hour. It's amazing. I start at 5am and the latest I have finished is 6.02am. It isn't a big chunk out of your day and you get off to an amazing start.

As with anything there is always the downside. Lets see what I have learned:

1. You get tired earlier in the evening. I'm finding that by 8pm I am almost ready for bed. I'm finding that I don't get much done at night time because I am just resting and getting ready for my sleeping time.

2. As with anything when you want to make a change, you are always going to experience resistance from those around you. You just have to think of the bigger picture and if those people care about you and your wellbeing then they will be on your side before long.

3. Your social life might suffer. I went on a date the other day and it didn't go very well as I was half asleep towards the end. I think the woman thought that I was bored of her.

I would recommend anyone out there to follow a Miracle Morning type of system. It could turn your life around. Who knows? You wont know until you try it.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

RBL's progress

Have you ever seen the American comedy show Seinfeld? I must admit that I am not a great fan but there are a few episodes that stick out in my mind when I think of the show. The episode when they go to the Hamptons for the weekend or the episode where George Costanza tries to come up with the perfect comeback or the most famous of all arguably, The Soup Nazi.

As I said I am not a great fan of this show but I do know that basically the show is about nothing. A very amusing nothing but at the end of the day it is about nothing which is quite funny when you think about it. Anyway, I have up until this stage managed to post 35 times on this blog which is quite good if I do say so myself. I don't really have a theme as such so you could say that my blog is about nothing also. I'm sure as it develops that a theme will present itself. I am writing this for myself and I am told that is what you are supposed to do with blogs.

I am not even 10% into my goal but I have learned some things. What are they? Have a look below:

1. It takes a while to create a habit.

We all know that to create a habit it takes three weeks or so and in some cases it takes longer. This is certainly become a habit for me and yesterday when I was looking at my calendar for next week I was looking at times when I can do these blog posts. (Just so that you know, there are going to be a few early mornings this week.)

2. You don't have to write a novel for every post.

You don't have to write a novel for every post. As long as you a get out what you are trying to say then does it have to be 3000 words? Not at all. You can say what you want in 100 words.

3. The more you practice, the better you get.

One of my regular readers said to me in a private message that my writing is getting better and to that person I say thank you. I suppose like anything in life the more you do something the better you get at it.

4. It is really difficult to think of topics. 

This is really difficult. If you read my post a couple of days ago you would have seen that it took me nearly four hours to write something. It was ridiculous. I got complete writer's block. It is difficult to come up with something everyday but that is part of the challenge and I suppose it really stretches your brain. By the way, if there is anything you would like me to blog about please comment below. I would be happy to look at your request.

5. Habits help other parts of your life.

I've found that by creating this habit, I am also creating other habits which is pretty cool. I have to create time for this and then I start creating time for other things as well. Regular readers will know that I am following the Miracle Morning system from the book of the same name which is quite interesting. It means having to go to bed early which is OK unless you can't sleep. That makes things quite difficult.

There you have it. The Daily RBL is up and running and I look forward to the next 35 posts. I'm sure that there will be some posts that will be difficult and others that will be done in 10 minutes. That's daily blogging I suppose. I encourage you all to give it a go. You might learn a thing or two.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Are labels for clothes only?

A couple of days ago I was made aware that London was having an election for their mayor. I had heard of Boris Johnson mainly because I thought the only people with the name Boris were German tennis players. I was told that Johnson was wanting to become prime minister so that's why he was stepping down. Good luck to him, I say.

Anyway, I woke up this morning to this article. Then I was reading this article at lunchtime. Now I ask you why am I writing about this today? Well, who cares what his religion is? I mean he's a Muslim, good on him. I'm sure that he prays five times a day, doesn't drink alcohol and doesn't eat pork products. But why do both headlines have the word Muslim in it? I mean would both of these websites have this headline: London elects it's first The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Mayor. (I know I should have written Mormon there but having the official name there made it easier to make my point) Or would they have this headline? London elect it's first bi-sexual Mayor. Actually they would definitely have the second one but the first one they wouldn't because that name of the church is not as well known as Islamic faith.

Why do we continue to give labels to people even in 2016?

I was called gaijin for the first time in a long time this morning. For those of you who don't know, the word gaijin is a Japanese word meaning foreigner. The characters are this: 外人. The first character means outside and the second character means person. So outside person. Since the guy who said this to me was outside when he said it, doesn't that by definition make him a gaijin too? Unfortunately this argument is too much for most people so I didn't bother. My point is why was I labeled as gaijin when I was just a "young" man walking to the gym at 7.30 on a Saturday morning?

So, let me go back to my question, why do we have to label people in 2016?

My answer is, I don't know. I'm sure I do it all the time without even knowing that I do. I like to listen  to the comedians out there making fun of the various stereotypes that we have in our world. By the way, if you can make fun of yourself then you have my utmost respect. To be able to make fun of yourself means that you don't take yourself too seriously and I believe that makes a peaceful society.

Maybe an answer is that it makes us feel comfortable about ourselves. Maybe we genuinely think that we are better than that particular group and we have to make sure we do that by giving them a label.

Maybe we are so keen to compartmentalise out lives that it is necessary to put everyone that we come across into groups so it is easy to live.

Good luck to Mr. Sadiq Khan in his new "job." I'm sure he will do well. I'm sure that whenever he does something controversial that the label makers will come out and make a point to point out his religious affiliations and ethnicity. That's what we do.

I wonder what the world would be like if we didn't have these labels. Hmmm, that's an interesting one. Another blog post? It might be challenging one. Stay tuned.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Procrastination is the thief of time

It has been over a month since I started this blog and finally I have hit a bump in the road. I don't know what to write about. Have you ever had that experience where you just sit there and you sit there and nothing happens? Well that has been me for the last three hours or so. Complete writer's block. 

So what can I write about when I have this problem? This blog doesn't really have a theme as such so there are many possibilities. Lets have a look at the possibilities.

1. Problem solving.

Currently I am writing this post in a private library where you pay a monthly fee to use the facility. As you can imagine it isn't perfect and they could do some better things here but for the price you pay and the view is spectacular it isn't a bad spot and there is a burrito place on the 2nd floor which is awesome. A few years a go I wrote this blog post and gave the manager of the restaurant some ideas on how he or she can get more patrons into the establishment. You could do a problem solving blog for someone or the alternative is you do it for yourself, very much like I am doing here.

2. Opinions

I was thinking this morning that I haven't really been following the American presidential election very much. I know that a former first lady, a socialist and a guy with funny hair are still in the race but that is about it. I suppose I could give my opinion on it but I don't really see it as my place to. Once thing that I do feel qualified to comment on is the Indian Premier League which seems to be going from strength to strength although does anyone else think that it is going to implode before too long? 

3. Rehash someone else's post

The easy way out of the conundrum is just to look at someone else's post and comment on it and make it your own. This is in a sense cheating but whatever gets you through the day, right. I read a blog recently that said most people do that and it isn't the best but if you are blogging  everyday like me then that might just have to be the way. As they say here in Japan, "shoganai" which means it can't be helped.

4. Review a book or movie

Yeah, I know. I am scraping the bottom of the barrel here a bit. I know every man and his dog reviews a book or a movie or even a restaurant but hey, I'm desperate here and I didn't know what else to write. You never know, your post could make an obscure book go viral and the author will then have to pay you some royalties. Well, you would hope so wouldn't you?

5. Be a guide, what to do in a certain place if you have time

A few years ago I posted this. I was using my Tokyo experience to guide people around a city and to do things that they might normally not do. You can see in that post that I suggested to go to a public bath. Most of you are probably screwing your nose up at the mere thought of that but it is a great place. My cousin didn't like the sound of it at first but after two minutes he had changed his tune. 

There you have it. That took me about four hours to get through. Finally it is done. 

Thursday, 5 May 2016

The Great Motivator

I'm having one of those days that I'm sure you all have and some of you probably have more than most and that is you have no motivation to do anything. You wake up, you stare at the wall for a few minutes, you lie back down again. Thank god that it's a public holiday you think. So I was thinking, what do you do when you have no motivation to do anything? What do you do to get yourself going so that you can get the things done that need to be done?

Here are my seven suggestions. Some of these are probably generic and you find them everywhere but that's life and we don't want to overcomplicate things, right?

1. Get out of bed and have a shower.

Just this simple act of getting out of the clothes that you slept in and washing your hair and cleaning yourself and then putting on fresh clothes can motivate you to do something else, even if it is just to go down to the nearest 7/11 to buy something. The fact that you are up and moving can have a flow-on effect across the day and just by making that first step can really supercharge your day. What is that Chinese proverb? A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. There you have it, a few steps to the shower.

2. Think of the bigger picture.

Why are you doing all of this? What is the focus? You need to think about your goals and think about why you are putting yourself through this. I admit sometimes it is going to be very difficult but think about the joy and the celebration when you accomplish your goal or you get what you want, it will all be worth it. This is what helped me this morning. I thought about what I wanted and bang I was up and at 'em.

3. Have an accountability partner. 

I have a friend who I text at 5am to say that I am up and ready to go. The motivation here is for me anyway, that I don't want get a text asking where am I or a text asking why am I being lazy again. I assure you it works and to avoid these things is the primary motivator for me when I forget about the big picture. Also it pisses me off when I get a text asking where I am. I don't like being pissed off. I'm sure you don't either.

4. Weigh yourself everyday

If one of your goals is to lose weight then I suggest weighing yourself everyday. If you see that after a particular heavy night on the booze you have gone up a kilo or two then it is very easy to get your ass out of that chair and go to the gym. Also I find that if the numbers on the scales are going down on a daily basis then it is actually easier to get yourself to the gym because you want to keep that downward trajectory. I must admit that if it is going up it is difficult for me to motivate myself as I think oh well what difference does it make if I have another Big Mac? This morning I got a fantastic surprise when I stepped on the scales and found that even though I had a huge lunch yesterday and curry at dinner time and also had a couple of beers, I was still lower than the day before. So, originally I wasn't going to go to the gym today but as soon as I saw that I got a great burst of motivation and put my gym clothes into the bag and I was off. I will be working out after I post this article today.

5. Competition

I have a little competition going with my friend about a couple of things and I want to kick his butt. So the thought of winning the competition helps me to get a move on and get things done. This is like the accountability partner in that you have someone to answer to but it is also a bit fun. You could put a wager on it if you like although I'm not a gambling man ... sometimes. At the moment I see that in the current competition I am behind on points which annoyed me a great deal. I can make a comeback though.

6. Pay a fine

My friend told me that he used to have a deal with his friend that if one of them lost then they had to pay money, not to each other mind you, but to the stingiest, Scroogeiest (is that a word? I don't think it is.) miserly person you can imagine. Just the idea of giving money away to someone that you know would never, ever, ever, ever give you money or even worse never shout you a beer at the bar would motivate the heck out of me. I'm not giving my money away to that guy.

7. Accomplish something

I think another reason that I was motivated to write this is that I am building something. I have posted about 30 articles and it is building and it is quite motivating to keep this going to see what I can make out of it and see how far I can take it. I don't want to see any gaps in my blog so I am motivated to write something even though it can seem like pulling teeth coming up with ideas but that us how you grow when you push yourself. You push yourself in the gym and you see results. You push yourself in your mind and you see results.

There you have it, seven ways to motivate yourself to get things done. I hope you can use one of them or all of them to get yourself out of bed in the morning and to build something that you really want. Good luck!

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

What do the Foxes say?

Yesterday Leicester City Football Club were crowned the champions of the England Premier League. The first time in their more than 120 year existence that they are top of the pile in the English football pyramid. (For my American, Australian, New Zealand, Japanese readers and anyone else out there, football means soccer.)

This has been called one of the biggest upsets in sporting history and I tend to agree. To come out on top over a 9 month season over 38 games takes a lot of something and that is what I want to talk about today.

So, What can we learn from Leicester's Premier League triumph? This is an interesting question because what can sport teach us about life. Lots (heaps for my NZ readers) it seems. Before I get into this post I just want to say that I haven't really been following the Premier League this year and I am a bandwagon jumper, guilty as charged.

1. Leadership. In life you need a good leader and from what I can tell Claudio Ranieri is that. He's been there and done that and has the experience and in life that is crucial. How many times have you been at a job interview and they ask if you have any experience and you stutter and look down and try to come up with an appropriate response. Experience is everything as it allows you to get out of the sticky situations that life throws at you from time to time.

2. Loyalty. What I like about English sporting fans is their loyalty. When you ask them what team do they support you very rarely get a response like Manchester United or Chelsea unless they have been supporting them their whole lives, you will invariably get a response like Preston North End or my personal favourite, Leyton Orient. So to see the Leicester fans celebrating so passionately yesterday was a great reward for their loyalty and I hope that other smaller club fans have that kind of experience in the coming years.

Talking about English sporting fans, my personal favourite are the Barmy Army. This is the group who follow the English cricket team around the world. Inventing songs and creating an amazing atmosphere at the grounds they go to. Here is an example. I wish New Zealand sporting fans could be like this but we are quite a passive lot. Go to an All Blacks' game and you will know what I mean.

3. Passion. As a rugby follower I do get sick of watching football players shouting and gesticulating at the referees and opposition players and the diving and hollywoods and play acting can be a little boring but you can't fault the passion that the people involved with football show. From the players right through to the supporters, they live, breathe, talk football 24/7. They love it. Wouldn't it be good to find something like that where you can't stop talking about it, you can't stop thinking about it and you can't wait to get up in the morning to get into it.

4. Intelligence. We sometimes associate our sporting heroes as been rather thick (for American readers this means dumb, not fat.) and not having much upstairs but Leicester's triumph shows that to be successful in sport you need some intelligence. As I said earlier I haven't been following the season closely until the last few weeks but it seems that Leicester maybe similar to Billy Beane's Moneyball. This is a story about a guy taking a small market team in Major League Baseball in America into the playoffs by basically using his intelligence rather than just throwing money around here and there like Chelsea or New York Yankees may do.

5. Skill. You might have the passion and you might have the intelligence but without the skill you are not going to get anywhere. So Leicester maybe a small market team but their players obviously can play the game. Each of those players have grown up honing their craft, building their determination and it has all come to a head in the Premier League in 2015/2016. The players were ready and they were not going to be denied.

There you have it, the Premier League champions are Leicester City and they deserve it. There was no luck involved, well maybe the odd goal post here and there. They deserve all the adulation they will get and it will be interesting to see how they back up next season. Claudio Ranieri has already said that it will be difficult to repeat next season but you never know. Anything is possible in sport. I mean name the only unbeaten team at the FIFA World Cup in 2010 in South Africa? If you said Spain, you would be incorrect.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Pina Coladas and early mornings

I found in my bag a list of things that healthy people do before 9am. I had handwritten the list down and put it in my bag but I am not sure where I got it from so if it is your list I say thank you and I would like to credit you for this list.

Anyway, what do insanely healthy people do before 9am? Lets have a look:

1. They set a sleep schedule and stick to it. Yep, this is something that I have never done although I'm finding that the earlier that I get up I have to go to bed earlier and earlier. I was in bed before 9pm the other day although that does get a bit weird when you wake up naturally at 2.30am. What I can't believe the more I read is that successful people sleep 8 hours a day. Surely not. I can imagine that they sleep a lot less than that.

2. They wake up early ... as early as 6am. Well, I woke up at 4.45 this morning. Do I feel healthier? I don't know. I feel more awake now than I would usually be but I do find that I start fading a lot earlier than usual. I think what is good in Japan is that in the summer, it gets light very early as early as 4.30am. So it makes it easier to wake up early.

3. They drink a lot of water. As I am writing this I have a 2 litre bottle of water next to me. I'm not going to drink it all while I am writing this because I don't want it all but I will drink a lot today. I've heard that it is dangerous to drink too much water but I'm sure that there is a healthy balance. There is  one problem with drinking a lot of water, you get to know the inside of a toilet very intimately, especially after the seal is broken. In winter you seem to spend more time there than working.

4. They exercise before the day gets going. This morning I did two sets of Tabata followed by a few press ups. I never thought that exercising in the morning was any good because I was half asleep but it wakes you up and this time of the year it really gets a good sweat up. I think even if you go for a walk around the block after you get up is good too, just to get yourself up and about and moving.

5. They eat a hearty, balanced breakfast. My favourite is bacon, scrambled eggs, avocado, sometimes tomato and natto. Is that balanced? Probably. Natto is fermented soy beans. You put a little bit of soy sauce on the beans as well as a little mustard. It certainly is an acquired taste and many foreigners here in Japan don't like it although I think it is delicious.

6. They meditate. I remember I tried meditating a few years ago and I didn't really get it. I meditated this morning and I do get it. It calms you. You feel refreshed and ready to go. To me when I first started it seemed new age, hippyish, like we should be sitting around the campfire singing Kumbaya. However it is a good thing and it gets my day started off in the right way. You don't have to meditate for hours on end. 5, 10 minutes and you are done.

7. They read. Ive finished my reading for the day. It is a good habit to get into. I think I bought another book this morning too. Kindles are great, aren't they? Also Amazon is very dangerous. I'll buy that book and that book and that book.

8. They write in a journal. I did that this morning too. In the old days it was called Dear Diary. Journalling is good as you can get your thoughts and ideas down on paper on onto the computer screen whatever the case may be. This blog was originally going to be a journalling project but I found that the 10 minutes I gave myself for journalling wasn't enough for this blog. It will be interesting to have a look at my journal in a years time to see what I have written.

9. They listen to music. As I am writing this I have the headphones on and am listing to some music. I must admit that I don't keep up with the latest music as I used to but I still try to listen to the latest music. It's interesting my music taste could be described as "varied." Whatever sounds good, right?

10. They tell someone "I love you." I love you. You know who I'm talking to.

Well there you go, I can't believe it, I'm insanely healthy. Although don't tell anyone about the Corona, Fajitas, Mud Pie and Pina Colada that I had last night. That isn't very healthy. The Pina Colada was delicious though and it reminded me of this song.

I found it. Here is the original article. Presented by Tropicana. That's interesting. Orange juice seems to be taking a bit of a hammering recently so maybe it is a marketing strategy but whatever it is, it does give us something to think about.

Monday, 2 May 2016


Yesterday we talked about the poor habits as outlined in this book. Yesterday we covered the following five:

  1. Gambling
  2. Drinking too much alcohol 
  3. Watching too much TV
  4. Negative mindset
  5. You don't read
Today, lets look at the last five on this list and I will give you my take on them. Here goes:

6. You have toxic relationships 

This one can be very stressful. You can lose all of your energy trying to keep these relationships alive when the best thing is to say thank you and just walk away and never look back. Sitting here writing this article I am trying to think of examples and the one that pops into my mind the most is a guy I worked with a few years ago. He was a nice enough guy and I believe that his heart was in the right place but oh my, it was very stressful being around him and my life was not good. In the end I just had to get rid of him. It wasn't the easiest thing to do but you got to do what you got to do. 

7. One stream of income

For most people this is your job and if you lose this you are f**ked. Excuse my language but that is the most expressive word I can think of to express that feeling. 

8. No life plan

Most of us just walk around in a haze. We are on autopilot so to speak just going about our lives. We go to work, we go home, we watch TV, we go to bed, rinse and repeat. Most of our life plans are work until 65, retire and play golf for the rest of our lives. That sounds really boring to me.

9. You spend more than you make

There is always that new hot Apple product that is coming out. Do you really need it? Ask yourself that question again, do you really need it? Do you really need those new pair of shoes when the ones you have for the gym now are perfectly fine? It is about making choices. Will me buying this Apple Watch help me in the future or stuff me up now? Interesting decision.

10. Poor health habits

This has to do with your culinary decisions. I must admit that I have made some pretty bad decisions over the years because I couldn't wait for the 30 minutes to cook for myself when the shop I could buy right then and there and be eating in 5 minutes. I was definitely not thinking about the future when I was making those decisions. 

There you have it, poor habits. If you can get rid of those then you are well on the way. Good luck to you. 

Sunday, 1 May 2016


In a couple of recent posts I was talking about the good habits of successful people from this book. Today I would like to comment on the habits of poor people as written in this book. Some of my ideas maybe controversial, some of them you may agree with me.

1. Gambling

I like gambling. I like to have the occasional flutter. I have a TAB* account in New Zealand so that when I go home to New Zealand I might have a couple of bets on the horses or the dogs. (I like the dogs because it is over in about 30 seconds or so.) I also used to like to have the odd wager on a sporting fixture but don't do that much now. I think that as long as you don't overdo it then you are fine. As I said I gamble once or twice a year. The most is about $10, so I'm hardly an addict. I do realise that some people see gambling as a get rich quick scheme and this is where problems start. You can educate people I suppose but in the end it is about choices that people make. They can choose to gamble or not. I choose not to most of the time.

2. Drinking too much alcohol

Like gambling, I like to have a beer. I don't drink much, maybe I imbibe once or week or so. Even then I don't drink too much. A couple of beers, a couple of spirits. Other times I might drink more but I always say that if the Prime Minister said tomorrow that alcohol was becoming illegal it wouldn't be a big problem for me. I'd be disappointed for sure but I wouldn't lose sleep over it unlike some people out there. Alcohol impairs your thinking and it can make you really fat because of all the extra calories that are going into your body. So like gambling, everything in moderation but there are always going to be addicts.

3. Watching too much TV

I don't watch as much TV as I used to do but now with the Internet maybe I use Facebook and Youtube more than I should. It is so easy to get home after a long day at work and sit down and watch the TV. It's easy and you don't have to think much. It's perfect, right? It will crush your dreams man. People rely on it too much. I have managed to let go of my television addiction and now I have to let go of my Facebook and Youtube addiction. OK, the first I will do is delete Facebook from my phone. That's done. How can I get rid of my Youtube addiction? Any ideas?

4. Negative mindset

I have been guilty as charged with this one. I have noticed that with a lot of things that I have been extremely negative and it isn't good. The good thing is that I am aware of it and I can change those thoughts. It is quite difficult but as they say the first thing is awareness and I have to change because I believe this is the biggest thing holding me back and it probably is the same for you too.

5. You don't read

This is one that I can say that I do do. I read regularly and not novels either, I read non-fiction books and I do it on a daily basis. I read a lot of self-development books and the like and it has helped me out over the years especially  in conversations. I am able to draw on the knowledge that I have discovered in my reading time and used it to sounds half intelligent which is good right because most people who like to run their mouth do not sound intelligent at all.

This is the first five poor habits. Tomorrow we will talk about the remaining five poor habits and I will give my opinion on them.

*TAB - This is the once government owned betting agency in both New Zealand and Australia.