Dec 27, 2012

I am Jack's wasted opportunity

South East Asia is going through exciting and tremendous changes at the moment, even in Laos, one of its poorest countries.

There, one of the best ways to rise out of poverty is to learn English, Russian, Korean or Japanese to become a tour guide. While some farming families try to get by on $500 per year, you can earn $40 per day as a tour guide in the high season.

So there’s a common story. Lau comes from a rice-farming family, and was lucky enough to be educated while his siblings farmed rice or carried logs on their backs over mountain ranges. This means Lau sends money home every month. He feeds his whole family.

I wanted to learn how I could help so I asked a lot of naive questions. I realised a handicap we share with Lau, but in our case it’s self-imposed.

We have the luxury of getting it wrong, and we waste it.

We have the luxury of fast-moving markets and channels, so we can get feedback quickly.

We have the luxury of speaking the same language as our customers, so we can understand them easily.

We have the disposable income and time to try new things and afford the loss if it doesn’t work out.

Sure, we have families and people who depend on us too, but the pressure is lower, the opportunities are more frequent and we are far more enabled to act.

With economic crises and the rise of developing economies, I don’t think this disparity will last long. But in the meantime, we have an opportunity to get things wrong.

So what’s stopping you?

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What am I up to these days?

I’m a new parent, and prioritising my attention on our new rhythms as a family. I’m also having fun with slow creative pursuits: making a few apps, writing, etc.

Work-wise, I’m trekking along at a cozy pace, with a few non-exec, advisory roles for cryptography and microchip manufacturing programs.

In the past, I've designed peer-learning programs for Oxford, UCL, Techstars, Microsoft Ventures, The Royal Academy Of Engineering, and Kernel, careering from startups to humanitech and engineering. I also played a role in starting the Lean Startup methodology, and the European startup ecosystem. You can read about this here.

Contact me

Books & collected practices

  • Peer Learning Is - a broad look at peer learning around the world, and how to design peer learning to outperform traditional education
  • Mentor Impact - researched the practices used by the startup mentors that really make a difference
  • DAOistry - practices and mindsets that work in blockchain communities
  • Decision Hacks - early-stage startup decisions distilled
  • Source Institute - skunkworks I founded with open peer learning formats and ops guides, and our internal guide on decentralised teams