For international readers, allow me to explain: I am an American but I have lived in China since 2004. My city of Chongqing, often abbreviated as CQ, is pronounced Chong Ching to rhyme with Wrong Ring. CQ is a megacity of 30 million people in south-central China, on the Yangtze River. I’ve come a long, long way – 13 time zones to be exact – from my original hometown of Rolla in south-central Missouri, on the Little Dry Fork creek. Depending on how loosely you define “city”, one could argue that CQ is the world’s largest city. In my quest for a simple life, I publish these observations and admonitions from my 18th-Floor Homestead. Some would call these articles drivel; I prefer to think of them as words from the future – 13 time zones in the future, at least.
When I was in elementary school – yes, in the last century – certain things became almost an annual school tradition. Upon returning to the classroom after the holiday, it was common for teachers to assign the students to write an essay with the title, “How I spent my summer vacation”. Now, honoring that old elementary school tradition, I will report on my own “summer vacation” activities in this installment of drivel from the 18th Floor Homestead.
Many years ago, Ernest Hemingway wrote that a person could not work every day through the hot season without getting stale. Hemingway was right. I’m not just stale, I’m toasted. It has been a long,hot, intense summer. Still, as we end the summer months and enter autumn, I am very pleased with the progress.
Business and Publishing Updates:
The summer’s major project, the new startup business, Mind Fleet, Inc. (the Inc. stands for Incorrigible.), is finally complete. This has been an immensely complicated and challenging project, but also immensely interesting and rewarding. It began in March when I first learned about Miles Hudson and the educational stories he created from his company in Durham, England. By the time Sonia clicks “Publish” on this article, the Mind Fleet website and online store will be bilingual, operational, and fully tested – tested as much as possible, that is, before going live and letting the public discover flaws and oversights on the Mind Fleet website. I proudly welcome you to www.mindfleet.cn.
While I was slaving over a hot keyboard in August, Miles Hudson was on holiday – to Croatia! We must remember that he is a novelist, teacher, and businessman but, above all, he is a scientist. I suspect it was not a coincidence that he visited the Dalmatian coast of Croatia with its clear skies in August which is the best time for viewing the Perseid Meteor Showers. Miles reports that his next venture beyond the English border will be in France: “Also in late November, I’ll be delivering astronomy workshops in primary schools in Montpelier, France on behalf of the British Council. The purpose is to teach English via space science activities…”
I may live a quiet and dull life but I certainly have some interesting friends!
“… teaching English via space science activities” is a perfect description of the Postcards From Space educational products offered through the Mind Fleet online store.
One of the greatest benefits of an online business is that I can be mobile. I can operate Mind Fleet literally anywhere I can open my laptop and find internet access. However, even though most of the Mind Fleet business will be conducted online, our attorney, Liv Zhang, Mind Fleet’s No-Surprises Queen, negotiated for office services at the International Trade Business Park in Yubei District’s Free Trade Zone. CS and I toured that impressive facility recently. A nice home for a WFOE (Wholly Foreign Owned Enterprise). Hope we will be joined by other new WFOEs in the future. Hmm. If the business is a “woofie”, would the foreign owners therefore be called “woofers”?
Furthermore, in addition to the initial objective of offering the wonderful Postcards From Space series, several other intriguing commercial opportunities have arisen. A standard practice for successful businesses is to always keep many possibilities moving through the pipeline, knowing that most of them will not go to completion. Accordingly, although nothing has been completed, we are looking at several other affiliate and license relationships. Remember, however, the reasoning behind keeping the pipeline filled; I don’t count on anything until it is complete. My homestate of Missouri in the US, is known as the Show Me state. That means: Don’t tell me about the great things you will do; show me with completions. Or, as my father said, “Until somebody puts some money on the table, all you have is talk.”
In publishing news: I am pleased to announce that I have been tentatively accepted as a contributor to an anthology of business success mindsets. One of the byproducts of starting a business – if you survive the process – is you automatically become an “expert” and are thus qualified to offer advice to others. If this anthology project goes to completion, the book should be released in the USA in November.
Also in publishing news: Lulu (Fu Di lu) continues to churn out chapters for her delightful memoir (with a working title of Diary of a Country Girl) of a young girl growing up in the Hubei province countryside in the 1980s. Likewise, Chester and Michael are making sporadic progress in their sci-fi fantasy modestly titled Chester and Michael Save the World. Thanks to the influence of Miles Hudson’s Postcards From Space series, they are firmly grounding their adventures in fact-based science. (But they are only 8 years old and on their summer holiday. Let’s give them some allowance for slow progress.) Torgeir Higraff survived his test drive of the sailboat, the Nanoq, to the Shetland Islands and is back home in Norway working on his story of a past adventure, Kon-Tiki2. That book will be about a drift voyage by twin rafts in the South Pacific in 2016. We get a glimpse of his lifestyle from this memorable passage in one of his emails: “Raining now, in the sailboat at sea, going to sleep. All about trusting others. Would you sleep in the horrific sea if others were the helmsmen out there in a small boat?”
My personal writing project, with a working title of The 18th Floor Homestead, has languished over the busy summer… unless I can claim my summer experiences fall under the category of research. A lot of new experiences and introspection = a lot of “research”.
Finally, as we enter the fall season, this is a perfect time to present another pre-publication excerpt from The 18th Floor Homestead. This passage is about saving time, money, and decision energy by greatly reducing one’s wardrobe for the next three months:
Use the 3 For 33 System
Want to simplify your life and reinvent your daily routine? Here is one action that will eliminate one of the great time-wasters. Caveat: It is true the clothes we wear are essential for social and survival reasons. Plus, since they make up most of our appearance, clothes are also a major factor in creating a favorable impression with the people we meet. But…take a moment to estimate how much time and decision energy you spend each week on the clothes you wear. How much time each day is devoted to selecting your clothes and accessories? (In my spoken English classes, we used to joke about it as a gender marker. In his whole life, a man never calls his best friend in the morning and asks, “What are you wearing today?”) In addition, how much time do you spend each month on shopping for new clothes? Now consider this: What if you could simplify the process of getting dressed each day? What if you eliminated all the time spent making decisions about clothes? An even more important question: If you did so, what could you produce by using that time for more valuable activities?
Let me offer an example of how some people simplify their life and create more free time each morning, plus saving their decision-making energy for more important issues. At the beginning of each of the four seasons, they take an hour or two to carefully select 33 items of clothing – no more than 33 – to wear for the next 3 months. These 33 items will be their entire wardrobe for 3 months. The purpose of this exercise is to substantially reduce the time they spend thinking about clothes.
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, is famous for the gray t-shirts which he wears every day. For many years, Mark Zuckerberg has worn gray t-shirts almost every day. This was not a cute gimmick to be memorable. The reason for the gray t-shirts is because Mark Zuckerberg spends zero time each morning deciding what to wear for the day. He spends zero time shopping. He spends zero time questioning what is fashionable and how he looks compared to others. He spends no time doing research on the best places to get the latest and greatest fashions. Instead, he wears a simple gray t-shirt every day. Every day for years, he saved the time most people spend on choosing their clothes each day. No decisions, minimum dressing time, no fashion research, and no shopping. That left him more time and energy for becoming a billionaire.
If you choose 33 items to wear for the next 3 months, you can emulate one of the richest people in the world by reducing the time you spend on the rather low-value activity of deciding which clothes to wear that day. You can enjoy immediate benefits of saving time, eliminating decisions, and reducing the tendency to focus on relatively unimportant activities before beginning high-value activities.
Then… continuing to use the 33 for 3 Principle, ask yourself these questions: What else can I do to save time in my life? What else can I do to reduce the number of decisions about trivial matters, low priority activities, and minor issues that clutter my to-do lists? What about some of my relationships? What actions or people, if minimized, would free my mind from making decisions about low-value actions? How much more energy would I have for making decisions about high-value actions?
Action Step: Choose 33 items to wear for the next 3 months. Mentally, forget about all the other clothes in your wardrobe until it is time to select 33 items for the following 3 months. If this seems too extreme or if you are uncertain about the practicality of taking such dramatic actions, tell yourself that it is only a test and only for 3 months. Still uncomfortable? Change, even positive, consciously selected change, is often a little uncomfortable because it requires giving up an established pattern… and that means new thinking. And that is called reinventing your life.