News and Hearsay
Attack on Titan, a.k.a. Shingeki no Kyojin, Season 02 is out. And boy, it hasn't disappointed me yet! In fact, episode 31 (Warrior) nearly brought tears to my eyes. Don't worry, I wouldn't spoil the show for you. I rewatched that particular episode about seven times. It was so damn good. And what made the whole experience much better was seeing on Crunchyroll comments from folks who had a similar reaction.
It got me wondering: What is it about shows like Attack on Titan, Death Note, Code Geass, Hunter x Hunter, etc. that get red-blooded anime fans into a shameless frenzy?
Well, for one thing, they are all anime shows.
Since my initiation into the world of anime in 2001, I've wondered why it has a special place in my heart. At the frightening age of 33, I still profess my love for anime, and there is an objective reason for that. (Well-done) anime shows tell stories in ways that most media can't pull off.
I could hazard a guess that it has to do with the incredibly appropriate soundtracks that match the various moods in each story or maybe the attention to detail in the art style and landscapes, something that Western cartoons and some movies fail miserably at.
Still in my top 5 fight scenes.
Or it could simply be the fact that anime allows the artist to convey emotions in very memorable ways.
Or maybe it is anime's mysterious monopoly on the coolest fight scenes in any movie or show ever.
The fact of the matter is when it comes to head to head competition with even Live action movies, anime still comes out on top.
Remember the pathetic string of movie remakes of popular animes (Ghost in the Shell, I'm looking at you). You'd think with all the movie magic technology Hollywood has amassed, we should be able to pull this off by now. But each time, Hollywood has failed miserably.
Even stories that weren't originally an anime have been wildly successful when told as an anime.
All I can say is this: I am glad I found anime, and I hope it is here to stay.
At its core, Re:Zero is a love story. It follows our protagonist, Subaru, as he tries to win the heart of Emilia, a prospective queen well out of his league. To be honest, the show was a bit of a chore at first. Subaru doesn't start off a very likable hero, and it was not easy to pull for him. He was selfish, arrogant, and somewhat obnoxious. It seemed like the first half of the series was trying to layout the foundation for just how flawed he was. As rough as it was to get through this setup, though, Re:Zero would have only been half as good without it. In my opinion, its real strength is in how brilliantly it celebrates the human capacity for change. I can't help believing the creators deliberately made our hero such an unbearable character to show us that anyone is redeemable (albeit through some extraordinary circumstances). I found myself very much on Subaru’s team by the end, which surprised me. Perhaps I'm too much of a romantic, who knew :)?
I highly recommend Re: Zero to anyone and everyone. I can't say it's title as number 1 is justified, but it is certainly worthy of praise. Do be patient with it, though, and let us know if you saw in it the same things I did!
It was only by chance that I found out how awesome walking is for my mind. About six months ago, I started making an effort to walk at least 3 miles on the weekends or late evenings on certain weekdays. What I quickly noticed was how refreshing it was. I could feel my mind breathing a sigh of relief as it took this rare opportunity to reflect and wander into the territory of random ideas. I very rarely get to indulge in independent thought because I am addicted to my smartphone, like everyone else. Peering at my phone all day makes it hard for me to come up with original ideas. But whenever I go for a walk, I find that my mind becomes clear of distractions, and I find that I can reflect on the day and just let myself think. A lot of my best ideas for how to push our Boomslank brand forward are products of long walks around my neighborhoods.
I don't know if I am unique in this situation. Maybe I am, maybe I am not. You'd be surprised by how similar we all are.
Before Pokemon Go, I'd always considered myself immune to the appeals of mobile gaming. Personally, I found them very pointless and a massive waste of time. But all that changed once Pokemon Go hit the scene. The irony is that I am not crazy about Pokemon. My brothers and I are more of a Digimon clan (we especially enjoyed the first two seasons). I started off as a casual player, but the next thing I knew, I found myself wandering around my neighborhood at 1 a.m. looking for a Haunter.
Playing this game got me thinking about what the future holds for humanity. Before Pokemon Go and VR, I wasn't sure what the future (100 years from now) would look like. I've seen way too many 90s and early 2000s sci-fi movies consistently get it wrong. But after thinking about it, I've concluded that the future might be like it is depicted in The Matrix.
In The Matrix, people have somehow managed to screw things up so badly that machines have taken over, put us in a nursery, and used our sleep-induced bodies to generate energy to power themselves. As grim as that vision of the future seems, the actual future might be very close to it (minus the machine overlords).
Consider the current trend of VR/AR; we are slowly finding ways to subsidize our reality with fantasies or visuals that we typically wouldn't find in our present reality. But if we take this trend 100 years into the future, we might see the first theoretical digitization of a brain. Basically, in about 100 years, we might have theoretical grounds for turning our minds into digital signals. What does that mean? It means that eventually, we'll all be able to exist in a virtual world. We may decide that our universe is not nearly as exciting as the one we digitally create or that a world in which we depend less on chance is more appealing to us.
If you think about it, this is essentially the premise of The Matrix, without the grim caveat. But consider a possible future in which humanity goes digital. We would unanimously decide to digitize our minds and employ AI to watch over us and maintain the massive systems that power our virtual worlds.
Anyway, this is just what I think might happen. Then again, I could be wrong like all the sci-fi movies out there.
Let me just start off by saying if you're a generally lazy person, chances are you're in a situation where you're quite unmotivated. So first find something you're passionate about.
That said, nobody likes a lazy person. Especially a lazy person who's working for them.
Working with a lazy person is like pulling a giant wooden log up a hill. It is frustrating and exhausting.
But ever once is a while you find a lazy person who actually inspires innovation, all because they're too lazy to do things the current way. Laziness tends to encourage one to find a more efficient way to do things.
For instance, I had a co-worker at my software job (Day job I hope to quit) who was intensely lazy. But this guy was responsible for some of the best automation tools our department has ever worked with. All this was as a result of the fact that he didn't like the grind of doing things the old way. Actually, as a result, he was given a new position where he was allowed to work on new tools for the company. I also think there was an uptick in his motivation as a result. :-)
These days, most of us are obsessed with case studies of very successful people. It can be the next billion-dollar startup and its very proud team of founders or a YouTuber with over two million subscribers. Inevitably, we might find ourselves admiring and envying their success. However, it is understandable; the glitter of achievement is hard to ignore. But here's the thing: success is simply the result of hard work and patience, and we tend not to remember that.
As I mentioned earlier, I was that guy who always sorted out the success stories. I would spend hours on YouTube watching videos of successful people and consuming their stories. I didn't know when it happened, but I suddenly found myself appreciating overcoming challenging situations. Take, for instance, our little venture Boomslank; not many outsiders are aware of what we do to get that one extra fan.
My brothers and I are always wracking our brains, trying to figure out how we can grow our brand awareness. We are always coming up with random ideas. Someone them work very well; some of them fail badly. We are always trying to figure out how to make our conventions cheaper to operate and more profitable. Take it from me, conventions are a lot of work. You have to pack your goods, figure out how to ship them, set up your booth, make sure you are friendly to customers. Conventions can be quite daunting. And sometimes you start to wonder if you're on the right track. On the day we incorporated our company, I had to go to court to obtain a business license, which quite honestly was just bureaucracy at its worst. The experience was just horrible, and it showed me how inefficient government bureaucracy can be. Needless to say, I managed to overcome that mind-numbing obstacle. And my brothers and I are still coming up with ideas to help the brand grow.
I am saying all this to try to point out what matters: willpower. If success is a finished artwork/product, willpower is the skill that created it. By comparison, willpower is far more dynamic than success. Success is static; it is simply the end of the road. Willpower is more of an intrinsic attribute that goes with you wherever you go. No matter what your next venture is, your willpower will see you through. Your willpower is what determines whether you outlast, outperform, or defeat your opponents. Success is simply what comes after you've done those things. Success is the veil; the cover people admire instead of what's underneath it, which is willpower.
This is especially why I love one of our latest shirts - Heavy Bag. Most of you would look at the shirt and admire the ridiculous definition and dense muscles of the boxer. However, what I see is the willpower that allowed him to push himself almost past human limitations to achieve his current strength and physique. What I admire is what I assume was his incredible willpower.
Unlike my brother David, I don't have any discernible talents. When I was much younger, I used to draw just like my brother David. But my dabbling in the arts slowly gave way to building things. For a while, I used to tinker with electronics and electricity (I got a lot of electric shocks as a kid). Then when we came to the US, my interest evolved into an interest in computers. When I graduated, my interest in computers gave way to entrepreneurship.
My interest in entrepreneurship is starting to look like where I am meant to be in life. It has been eight years since I caught the entrepreneurial bug and I am enjoying every step of the journey. The funny thing is, it is nothing but a series of mistakes which in turn teaches you something. One of the biggest pointers I've picked up along the way is to surround myself with apex predators.
What do I mean by "apex predators"? I mean people who are just absolute badasses at what they do. Be it storytelling, art, videography, graphic design or illustration. Remember I mentioned earlier that I have no discernable talents. So I am not an apex predator. I do however know some apex predators. My brother David is an apex predator. He doesn't want to admit it, but I know for a fact that he's a very talented artist.
Apex predators are those people that are just so damn good at what they do, that their works speak for themselves.
When running a business, especially one like Boomslank, it is really important to cultivate the habit of having things done by an apex predator. For example, if you need a website for your brand, have it done by an apex predator in the field of web design. Don't do the website yourself if you're not an apex predator in web design. People tend to notice when subpar work has occurred. If you can see it, they can too, they're not blind or stupid. In the future, we plan to roll out more product promotional videos on our Youtube to tell our story better. It would be quite short-sighted of me to make the videos myself while lacking the skills. So we're going to be hiring an apex predator. He isn't cheap, but it will cost a lot more to go the cheaper route. With the cheaper route, the resutling poor work will completely underwhelm people, and it will ultimately taint the perception you're trying to create.
Another reason to work with only apex predators is the competitive advantage you gain in your industry or genre. The unique experience you create with handiwork rendered only by apex predators is the greatest way to get the word out about what your endeavor is all about.
So how do you know you're working with an apex predator? Well is hard to quantify sometimes. But you just know. You sometimes can feel it. It is at times a very subjective assessment. However, the one thing you can see with every apex predator is a rare combination of passion and discipline we mere mortals lack. They eat and breathe their trade. And they can be seen doing their work for free just for the simple fact that doing what they love is its own reward.
So find yourself an apex predator for whatever you need to get done. If you can't find one, then go hone your latent skills and become one.
Every once in a while people ask me for advice on which size they should pick when getting one of our tshirts. They are sometimes stuck between picking a size they used to pull off and the size that better reflects their current body. I always ask them pick the size that they're most comfortable in.
The reasoning is simple. If you feel comfortable, you are going to feel more confident. And when you feel more confident, you are going to appear good looking. It always works. :)