Is it time to rent, not buy, electronics?

E-waste is a growing problem. But if manufacturers kept ownership of their products and leased them to us, recycling could make good business sense.
— Read on

Personally, I like fully owning my stuff. However I don’t love crappy battery life, progressive slowdowns, software sunsets, waste or unethical manufacturing… So perhaps that is the way of the future!

Berlin Winter Season

Christmas Market at Gendarmenmarkt

Winter has arrived in Berlin and, with it, the fun Christmas markets. Here are some highlights of the opening of the season…

Brandenburger Tor / Brandenburg Gate
Brandenburger Tor / Brandenburg Gate
US Embassy with Brandenburg Gate in the background
The US Embassy with Brandenburg Gate in the background
Jewish Memorial Monument
The Jewish Memorial Monument
Berliner Dom
Berliner Dom
Christmas Market at Gendarmenmarkt
Christmas Market at Gendarmenmarkt
Konzerthaus at Gendarmenmarkt
Konzerthaus at Gendarmenmarkt

Home: found.

Berlin T-shirts

As the train leaves Berlin behind, I am struck by the fact that I’m leaving home.

It’s been less than two months since I came in to check if there was any chance left for Germany in me. London was calling at a distance. I felt at home nowhere and everywhere, glomad-style. All that changed in a few days, as I experienced Berlin from a more local perspective.

East Side Gallery - Wall painting
Photos of the East Side Gallery wall paintings from 3 years ago suddenly became more valuable, as these have been vandalized with signatures probably from tourists (surely from idiots)

I knew that I couldn’t judge Berlin until I found myself there without a return ticket. Last year, living in Taiwan, I learned that real travel isn’t about sightseeing, but about losing yourself in another culture. Enough to take it in. It takes time to know the local rhythms. Weekend escapes aren’t travel, they’re really just sightseeing. Yet places are very similar everywhere… more so than cultures. Places may look quite different at first, but they can feel the same. Not much changes from a beach in Portugal to a beach in Taiwan. Yet everything changes when you slowly walk the streets of cities from such distant countries.

The difference is culture.

You could expect, then, that truly knowing Berlin would take a few months. But I’d seen the sights before, and all I was missing was how it felt like when I became a part of it. That was made easy by having friends here. I thought that was the reason for feeling at home almost on arrival, or maybe the fact that I remember lots of spots from my past two visits. Yet, as the dust settles, I recall the times I’ve been back in Lisbon or in Dublin or in London. Even Lisbon rarely felt like home, though it was always a place to cherish.

Berlin T-shirts

It’s not hard to understand though – how quickly Berlin felt like home. I usually get bored easily, or I would… if I didn’t constantly switch things around. In Berlin you’ve never seen all of everything. I’m also probably a bit quirky (considering that a renowned personality test places mine in a group that only 1% of people share). Still I’m surely under average in Berlin standards for weirdness. Berlin attracts people who don’t fit in other places and are not afraid to be who they want to be. Whenever I see something over-the-top, I’m reminded of why quirkiness can thrive in the city: its culture is open minded.

It feels good to know you can be yourself, without necessarily being the strangest character in town. I guess that’s what it should feel like to be home.

Do what you love, or love what you do?

I have about 70 posts on draft status, but it’s been a restless year so far, keeping me from fleshing out the details of my ideas. In the meantime I just came across this wonderful insight from Paul Buchheit (GMail’s creator), which truly everyone should read:

It’s often said that you should “Do what you love”, but that’s mostly bad advice. It encourages people to grind away their lives in pursuit of some mostly unattainable goal, such as being a movie star or a billionaire startup founder. And even if they do make it, often the reality is nothing like they imagined it would be, so they’re still unhappy.

Do what you love is in the future. Love what you do is right now. As with the other patterns, it’s meant to guide the small decisions that we make every moment of every day. It’s less about changing what you do, and more about changing how you do it.

One of the problems with having a goal-oriented, extrinsic mindset is that it treats the time between now and task completion as an annoying obstacle to be endured. If you’re doing something that is difficult, uncertain, and takes a long time, such as building a new product or company, and you have that mindset, then you’re likely gambling away a big chunk of your life. Subconsciously, you may also compensate by choosing smaller, more realistic goals, and that’s unfortunate.

Perfect. This kind of advice is sorely needed for Solving Gen Y’s Passion Problem. If you’re a techie, you might as well read Paul’s full essay of startup advice: The Technology.