At least you survived

I was listening to a bonus material of Question the Rules by Johnny B. Truant (@JohnnyBTruant) and Lee Stranahan (@Stranahan) earlier today. This conversation between Johnny and Lee was about faith and belief – going for what you want and really believing in yourself during that process, to put it in a less woo-woo way.

In a segment of the audio, they talk about finding opportunities in seemingly bad situations and seizing them against the odds, so to speak.

After all, we could take advantage of bad situations. For example, we could learn something from those situations. If we do learn something, then those situations become valuable lessons that prosper us.

But it’s up to you to choose how you will respond to those situations. Are you willing to learn something, or will you simply feel bad about what happened and do nothing? It’s your choice.

The next time you are caught in a bad situation, stop and think if there’s something you can learn from it.

If nothing comes to your mind… well, perhaps you should know it didn’t kill you. You survived. And you can stand up again and be stronger than before.

Image: Adrian  Wallett

Review: The Art of Non-Conformity

In the past two years I’ve been inspired by Chris Guillebeau. I wrote about Chris before, and he is famous in the blogging world. But for those of you who don’t know about Chris, he runs a website called The Art of Non-Conformity where he posts articles on unconventional lifestyle, entrepreneurship and traveling. He also wrote a free e-book A Brief Guide to World Domination, which I translated into Japanese with Etsuko. (If you have Japanese friends, please refer them to this page for the Japanese version of the brief guide.)

Chris recently published his first book – it has the same name as his website, but with a n extra subtitle: The Art of Non-Conformity — Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World.

I finally got a copy of his book and read the whole thing straight after. What you’ll read below is my biased, subjective review of the book. (I believe there are some good, objective reviews outthere if you prefer. Check its Amazon page for example.)

What I like about the AONC book

  • His message is strong and his style calm and passionate. It doesn’t have a cheesy, motivational-speaker-type, in-your-face vibe. It’s perhaps because of his guru-free way of thinking, which I like love.
  • It’s like the best of the AONC website. There are a number of posts on his website, and one could get lost in it. This book puts together essences of his posts and thoughts in one place and organizes them in a neat way. I was already familiar with the way Chris goes about things and the content of the book itself didn’t surprise much. However, it was refreshing to see his thoughts running a straight line and connecting with one another.
  • He does give you practical tips on living an unconventional life. He tells you how by sharing his own stories as well as stories of other unconventional catalysts. (Since Chris lists their websites and twitter accounts on the book’s bonus webpage, you can connect with those unconventional catalysts as well. They are real people and not someone’s inventions!)
  • When it comes to the book’s content, I especially liked the chapter where he compares his graduate school experiences and his writing career. He wrote a master’s thesis and it was read by three people. His manifesto was read by more than 100000 people, and it changed and influenced many of them. That inspires me. Really. And that makes me think as well. In a good way.

The AONC book is like a developed version of his manifesto. So, if you’re curious about the book, you should check his manifesto as well as his articles.

How do you want to live your life? Do you want to live a remarkable life, or an average life? You don’t need to be modest about your answer, because it’s your life and you don’t need to make others comfortable by how you answer this question. Perhaps you are already living a remarkable life and that’s great. Perhaps you are actually pretty happy with living an average life. If you feel like living an average life at the moment, but you want to live a remarkable life, the kind of life that is purposeful and meaningful (by your own definition), then this book can be helpful for you to take the first step towards the life you want to live.


In the previous post, I promised to give away my copy of The Artist’s Way – I got two comments within the post and two other comments on twitter. I’ve used this service to choose the winner randomly. The winner is …



Thanks to all of you who commented on the previous post :-)

photo: Hamed Saber

What fascinates me: Hooping tribe

My encounter with hooping was through my rad friend Kristen. I’ve known her since January and we read Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way together for 12 weeks. Kristen organizes a monthly hoop gathering “4th Sunday Spin” at Yoyogi Park in Tokyo. That’s where I got my first hooping experience as well. I am fascinated by hooping and hoopers, but what I really want to talk about in this post is… or I should say whom I really want to talk about is… Kristen.

Kristen choreographed a dance for this year’s World Hoop Day – October 10. She made tutorial videos and they look totally fabulous. But what’s more fabulous is that hoopers around the world recorded their World Hoop Day dance and uploaded these recordings online. Correct me if I’m wrong, Kristen, but what’s going to happen is that Kristen will edit those videos and put them together. I think that’s really, really cool.

I guess the reason why I’m fascinated by this whole thing is partly due to the fact that I witnessed how Kristen got rid of her creative blocks by working on The Artist’s Way.

And connecting people with hoops and social media! It’s a great example of sharing your passion with others and creating a tribe… creating a culture.

In fact, it’s so cool that I will quit being an irregular hooper and become a regular hooper. It’s a matter of time, ladies and gentlemen.

I recommend you to pick up a hoop as well! It’s a great way of having fun and doing exercises.

photo: nizzzat

How I learnt English (Day 22)

This post might be useful if you’re learning a foreign language. I’ll write about how I learnt English.

The way I learnt English is simple. After I decided to go to university in Australia, I started studying English with enthusiasm. To be able to study philosophy in English, one must get really good at English. That was the case for me and served as a big motivator. It helps to be clear about how much (at least for now) you want to master the language you’re studying. You may not want to read philosophy books in Japanese and just want to be able to have a decent conversation without the help of a dictionary; that’s totally fine as long as you’re aware of that. Also, it helps if you have a meaningful motivation for learning that language. What makes it ‘meaningful’ is totally up to you, but if you feel you’re obliged to study the language because you need it to pass a school exam and you don’t like it at all, you’ll probably have a hard time in learning it.

There are two things that built the foundation for me in learning English.

Here’s the first one. I focused on getting my English pronunciations right as much as possible. I didn’t aim for 100%, because you don’t need to get everything right from the beginning. If you can pronounce the vowels and consonants in English, then you’re more likely to understand what’s being said, at least to understand the phonetics of what’s being said if not the meaning. It helps to know what’s phonetically important in the language you want to learn as well. Tone, pitch, intonation, stress. I think it’s fairly safe to imitate what you hear, though.

The second one is this. I read aloud English texts. Since almost every English learning book comes with a CD or two these days, I could read the texts aloud to the recording of those texts. That was pretty neat. In addition to reading aloud, I did this exercise recommended by a prominent Japanese interpreter—reading aloud and writing down texts at the same time. Choose a page long text and do it for 3 pages per day. And do it for 3 months every day. Once you’ve done that, your linguistic intuition for that language will be sharper.

You’ll probably have to study more if you want to master the language you’re studying, but these approaches will get you a good foundation in going further.

Japanese translation of "A Brief Guide to World Domination" (Day 16)

I’ve been working together with Etsuko Tsukagoshi to produce a Japanese version of Chris Guillebeau‘s “A Brief Guide to World Domination” for the past 3 months. Now it’s almost finished, and we’re in the final stage of this project: releasing this Japanese version.

I assume that most of you who read this blog are English speakers. If you haven’t done so, you should check Chris’s brief guide. It’s a short PDF you can download and read for free. The content is inspiring. It has inspired me (and a number of people all over the world) at least.

It didn’t have to take 3 months to complete this project. But I lost the momentum when it came to revising the first draft. So, in reality, I didn’t do much about this project for a month or so.

What made me act anyway was the Artist’s Way – there’s a chapter on creative U-turns. Have you ever given up something you had devoted your energy to just before its completion? You’re almost there, but you feel like you’re not going anywhere. In fact, you feel as though things will get worse if you keep going. Even though you can see your destination. You start imagining the worst trap in front of your goal. Not just the worst trap, but the absense of such a trap as well. What if I could just take a few more steps and get to the goal with no problem at all?

What’s really neat about this chapter on creative U-turns is that this is the part where you’re asked to read your morning pages. In these morning pages from 3 months ago, I wrote about this project of translating Chris’s e-book into Japanese and how it would help some Japanese people “dominate the world”. I had forgotten about this excitement until I read these morning pages.

It was great to remember those feelings and excitement I had about the project. More motivational than anything else.

If you’re about to make a creative U-turn, can you remember your initial excitement about your project? Perhaps that can help you keep going forward and finish your project.

Review: Question the Rules by Johnny B. Truant and Lee Stranahan

For the last two weeks, I’ve been listening to and learning from Question the Rules, an online course created by Johnny B. Truant and Lee Stranahan. It’s a great course for anyone interested in entrepreneurship and taking an unconventional path to get your business going. Before my review, let me quote the official blurbs for it first.

Question The Rules is packed with content that will show you how to identify your real goals and show you how to achieve them faster than you thought possible. The course includes…

  • 4 Modules created by Johnny B. Truant and Lee Stranahan containing over 8 hours of audio content
  • Special bonus interviews – over 12 hours of in-depth interviews with successful rule breakers
  • A whole bunch of bonuses contributed by Johnny, Lee, and our successful guests

Now, here’s my review. There is a lengthy subtitle to the course, and I love it: Noncoformist’s punk rock, DIY, nuts-and-bolts guide to creating the business and life you really want, starting with what you already have. In fact, it is no exaggeration to say that I got drawn into the course for its punk rock taste, because I’ve been into punk rock since my teenager years and punk rock has influenced my life a lot.

You might want me to go straight into the materials of the course and evaluate the good and the bad of the course. But, I want to share a story with you instead rather than going through each material like a proper review. What? You are in rush? If that’s the case for you, here’s a brief version of my review. I’ve listened to 90% of the recordings and I think they are all great. Probably the only down side is that there are so many great advices to take from the course that it will probably take ages for me to internalize each lesson. Does that sound too good for you? Perhaps you should read on then.

I got to know about Johnny via Chris Guillebeau’s Empire Building Kit course. Chris interviewed Johnny as one of successful entrepreneurs, and Johnny’s records did look impressive. But I didn’t check his business closely.

On the last day of the special deal for Question the Rules, I happened to see some tweets about this product. I think there were only a few hours left to get it for $97. It is now sold for $397, which I think is still way cheaper than the actual value of the product. But, paying $397 upfront would have been out of range for me at the moment-I’m glad I managed to get it for $97. It’s a bargain, really.

You are not convinced that it’s more valuable than $397, aren’t you? There are some ways to estimate its value. There are 4 modules and 16 interviews with some extra audios like introduction, a wrap up talk, an interview with Johnny and that with Lee. Here’s one way. Assume that there are 30 hours of audio and each audio is a one hour lecture you can attend for $20. So, it comes to $600. Here’s another way. Assume you ask Johnny, Lee, and each entrepreneur featured in the course, for a one hour of consultation. I can easily imagine they would charge you more than $100 for that. So, perhaps it would come to something like $1800. You might say you are not sure if each audio is really worth $20 or covers what you would want to know. All I can say is: Yes, those lectures and interviews were really helpful for me.

If you are not sure about the course yet, I can understand that feeling. In fact, I was afraid that I would flood myself with taking so much information at once, because I’ve been working on Chris’s course as well. But I took the leap anyway and I’m happy for that decision.

I liked the course title instantly, because I am interested in philosophy and ask the rules more often than ordinary folks. But what really caught my attention is the subtitle I mentioned above. There is a sense of punk rock in the course.

The whole tone of this course resonates with me, because I’ve been into punk rock since I was a teenager. But I didn’t see a strong connection between punk rock and entrepreneurship before taking this course, even though it seems rather obvious when we think about things like the DIY spirit and the community aspect of punk rock.

So, one of the most important things I learned from this course is simply – yes, I’ve already had my punk rock education and I can do something with it. I can totally start with what I already have, as the subtitle says.

What I like about those modules and interviews is that most of them, if not all of them, deal with something much more broader and deeper than entrepreneurship – they deal with life, really. It’s more like Johnny and Lee are talking about life and just applying life lessons to running businesses. Or perhaps that’s one of my realizations from the course: entrepreneurship, at least the kind Johnny and Lee are doing and the kind I want to do, is all about how you live.

If you are an entrepreneur in training and have a punk rock spirit burning in you, then by all means go for it. It will be worth it. However, if you want bullet-proof step-by-step lessons on how to run your own business without taking an unconventional path, I think you should look for something else. The things Johnny and Lee discuss in the course can be abstract at times, although what they talk about is based on their experiences and what worked for them; I don’t consider being abstract to be a bad thing and they are not being fluffy either.

Are you interested in questioning the rules about running a business and walking your own path that you create for yourself? If so, check Question the Rules!  *Disclosure: This is an affiliate link. Please note that I don’t advertise what I consider to be worthless.