Creativity reloaded – life, ex-pats, & outsourcing

I enjoy my life here in Hong Kong as an ex-pat. I work, I drive, I speak Mandarin, I cook, and I wash my own car. The Internet flows free and fast. Parks, beach, and hiking trails are minutes away, the food is fantastic, and it’s safe. What’s my guilty pleasure?  Outsourcing! I outsource all cleaning and sous chef duties Monday through Friday.

Every week, I meet fantastic people and families, ex-pats & locals alike, who all engage in outsourcing in one form or another. Some still cook, others outsource cooking completely along with the shopping. Some have drivers, yet no one works on their own car. Sure, we all wash a few clothes on the weekend, but rarely do we iron. We live in apartments with management fees. So drilling holes in walls is frowned upon. Painting is negotiated ahead of time. Replacing washers on leaky faucets or basic plumbing. “Please there are people to do that kind of work for us.” Moving house from country to country and packing your own boxes. “Shirley you jest!”

I am familiar with Reaganomics and trickle down theory. I am good as this, so I do only this. I leave the other things to those who are good at them or have no other choice. No doubt at work you are the creative force affecting change or keeping the organisation together. I get it, you may not be great with a needle, knife, iron, plunger, or wire cutter, so you outsource. Yet, what does this do to your creativity outside the office? Does creativity transfer across the discipline of life if you don’t get it out and show it off? I learned a lot helping my Dad with the car and being a sous chef for my Mom as took care of my newborn sister.

Why bother about creativity at home when products keep getting more complex? Average tinkers stand no chance against certified technicians. Manufacturers often replace instead of repair. Occasionally, they tell you what went wrong. Worse, they threaten to void the warranty if you crack open the case. And even if you wanted to fix something, would you have the tools? Circuit boards are all integrated. Engine compartments are designed keep us out. True story, few BMW owners know how to jumpstart their car because everything is tightly laid out and the battery is in the back. Of course, we have no garages, basements or workshops to store tools or just tinker around.

As life gets easier, you don’t need that much creativity. Google maps, I love ’em, but where’s the fun? We don’t get lost. We don’t stop and ask random strangers for directions? We just go from point A to point B. And that’s a shame. We prefer to watch reality TV instead of being in our own reality. Let someone else take the risk and succeed or royally screw up. It’s safer and more entertaining. From bread makers to rice cookers, we add ingredients and get near perfect results each time. Sure, maybe you can live without great bread crust, but what of experimentation, innovation, and getting it wrong? . 

No, I am not advocating to end domestic outsourcing. We all work hard and will probably continue so, especially with Samsung building bigger smart phones. Yet, do get into the creative game. Yes, it’s more work. And yes, you will need to push a few comfort zones. Chances are, it won’t matter. Plus, you’ll get a a great story to tell.

And yes, I know Mandarin is the easiest of all the Chinese dialects. 


Five Reasons to Attend 21st Century Learning

Hello Cyberfaithful!

Before everyone walks, runs, or jets into their vacation, I just wanted to remind you that the The 21st Century Learning Conference will be held next month in January 2013 @ Renaissance College in the New Territories from the 24th to 26th.

Why should I attend you ask yourself? 

21st Century Learning (21CL) provides attendees with the opportunity to extend their own learning. From digital storytelling to visual literacy, you can dive in and explore, discover, and learn with local, regional, and international experts. Whether your interest is in the latest game based education, cyber safety & security, the future of the cloud, or just finding new tools to support inquiry, attendees can interact with data and information in a way that reading online articles, following Twitter feeds or commenting on blogs can not complete. OK, the five reasons…

Professional Networking

Sure, you can communicate via email, SMS, Twitter, WhatsApp, Voxer, or even Skype. Yet, to be sitting next to or around educators who already working on connecting learning with skills, students, and school can be empowering. You might be able to renew some old friendships. Or maybe you can make some new friends. Attendance at 21CL is a great way to surround yourself with like-minded people who can help you grow and nourish your own creative ideas and processes. Collaboration is contagious!

Leading Innovators are Headlining @ 21CL

We all have creative and interesting ideas. Yet, sometimes it helps to be around other leading innovators/experts. Dr. Larry Rosen, Nicole Pinkard, Ph.D., Dan Meyer, and Dr Jennifer Lane will all be headlining. You can hang out, hear what they have to say, weigh in on what you believe, and maybe even catch up with them socially. Make an effort to make a connection!

Extended Sessions

Friday the 25th is the day when you can listen, sample, work, and learn for three hours on the topic of your choosing. You can really dig in and explore the subject matter of something that interests you, e.g., Digital Storytelling, Teaching Visual Literacy, Becoming A Networked Educator, etc. Educators just like you run these extended sessions. They want to share and give back.  So, why not partake, ask questions, push boundaries, and challenge yourself. Learning is a great team sport!


I’ll just say it; going to conferences can be fun! The conference sponsors and vendors show of their latest wares. Sometimes, there are giveaways and/or prizes. Unfortunately, free t-shirts seem to an anomaly these days, yet usually you can find a free thumb drive or at least a free water bottle. And if you push yourself and join a hands session or flipped session might end up creating some “fun” content. Here’s short video I did for a Kim Cofino workshop back in 2010.

Convenient & Affordable

21CL is being held at Renaissance College in the New Territories. There’s no need to book accommodation, you can stay at home for free. The MTR goes directly to the conference venue; just get off at the Heng On Station on Ma On Shan Line. Think of all the money you will save on flights, all that airplane food you’ll miss, no immigration lines to wait in, and you won’t have to carry your passport with you each day. Registration starts at 400 USD for two action packed. If you register before the 21st of December, you can enjoy an additional 10% discount. If you are interested in attending, please drop me a digital line or see your ICT Facilitator when you get back in January.

Until January Cyberfaithful, travel well, stay safe, and all the best this holiday season.

Pray for surf!