Wanderlust Part I

Wanderlust grips me. Is it because of the New Year? New Chapter? The ballads emitting from my Sarah Mclachlan radio? (Thanks, Pandora Radio) But where to?

My friend Liz just posted on my Facebook wall that she will be coming back to San Francisco in a couple of days. A total surprise. Serendipity. She went back home to London during the Holidays and I wasn’t sure she would be returning. I like London and the UK but I think my heart desires a place in the World that is different. ¬†Lately, I’ve been dreaming of somewhere in South America and the Middle East…..

Here’s my little red suitcase. It encourages me to travel light. ūüėČ If you could only bring eight possessions (translation: irreplaceable and no duplicates on the trip) on this international journey what would they be? Here’s my list:

(1) I feel like my Smartphone is embedded in the palm of my hand.

(2) My MacBookAir (light and functional, my fingertips just dance on the keyboard!)

(3) My Canon camera which was a birthday gift from my brother.

(4) A pair of sunglasses (sun protection, averting eye contact for moments of uncertainty, and for those non-glamorous no eye makeup days…..)

Possessions (5) – (8) to follow on Wanderlust Part II, and ….What inspires me to chase a glamorous South American holiday or dream of the souks on a Middle Eastern sojourn?

Advertisements

Lesson Four: Design Counts (not Price)

…..cont’d from

Lesson One: Why Social Media Experts are Idiots

Lesson Two: Do Not Listen To Customers

Lesson Three: The Biggest Challenges Beget the Best Work

Lesson Four: Design Counts (not Price)¬†People do care about Design. Mr. Kawasaki believes that it is about the “skin” of the product and not the algorithm. He learned this at Apple. Put simply, looks matter. Apple product owners have a sense of emotional pride from being an Apple product owner. They believe in the value of beautiful products.

This sense of emotional pride also reminds me of the luxury market. Think Mercedes Benz, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Burberry, etc….People buy luxury products because it provides a sense of status and equips them with emotional pride. Some would argue that a Toyota runs just as well as a Mercedes, or even better. Some would argue that a $100 handbag functions just as well as a $5000 handbag. So why do people make such purchases when the function is clearly met with a less expensive alternative? Emotional pride. People buy what they want, not what they need. Such high-end purchasers also believe that a luxury product delivers a superior quality compared to a non-luxury product. Price is not important to luxury consumers because they will pay for the Best, or the perception of the Best.

So off to a semi-tangent here…..Consider this photo below of a designer handbag I took from the December 2011 issue of Vogue. On a purely design level, some may consider it attractive, beautiful, cool, awesome, etc…..Others may consider it…..well, ugly. Why would I want a handbag with holes? Why would I want a handbag with these vulgar logos emblazoned all over it? But that’s not the point. These Brands such as Apple (for technology) and Louis V. (for luxury) have become the arbiters of good taste and the authorities for cool in their respective niches. So the irony is that consumers may initially be drawn to a universally accepted “beautiful product”, but the Brands evolve into tastemakers which tell the consumer what they need to buy. They also develop the power to declare what is desirable.

So back to Lesson Four. Design trumps Price. Looks matter. Beautiful products beget emotional pride. Emotion wins. Don’t forget what it means to be authentically human.

Everyday is Halloween in San Francisco

I took this picture on New Year’s Eve in Union Square, San Francisco:

The Sparkly Rainbow Guy was out in full force in Union Square. He seemed to be hustling for attention for a while until this lady approached him. San Francisco is full of performance artists. Whether you want to dress up or dress down, whether you want to dress in full regalia or or simply play a role, whether you are crazy or non-crazy, all are welcome in this town. You are free to express yourself.

2011 was an explosion of self-expression all over the digital landscape. Social media is about self-expression and we witnessed major political change globally through this medium and because of this medium. And I believe you will see more acts of self-expression committed by citizens of nations trying to make institutional change in 2012 and beyond.

I remember meeting a New York transplant who told me that his friends back East call San Francisco full of “crunchy” types. I look at it this way. New York has New Yorkers. ¬†Paris has Parisians. And San Francisco has people who understand the value of self-expression to change the world.

2012: The Art of Serendipity

There are no coincidences or accidents. Just serendipity. Serendipity is hard to define but I think you’ll know it when it happens. It’s when something pleasant or even magical happens to you when you least expect it. From the day I found a home in San Francisco to the very end of Twenty Eleven, I have been blessed by serendipitous events. I was led to my current residence by the kindness of a stranger in Huntington Park¬†who has also become my neighbor, and I celebrated New Year’s Eve with absolutely no plans except a somewhat random decision to head to the Fillmore District near the Western Addition neighborhood. And after finding a parking spot in less than a couple of minutes (serendipitous parking karma on NYE!) and venturing not more than half of a block, we spotted a place that looked stylish and appropriate for the evening:

1300 on Fillmore

¬† ¬† ¬† ‘Happy New Year !’

The restaurant/lounge presented a good vibe and friendly staff. The atmosphere felt more like rat pack supper club or swanky jazz club, rather than the sleek San Francisco affair that one would envision with the trendy SOMA set. ¬†After pleasant conversation with new friends and some dancing we rang in the new year with the proverbial champagne and sparkly disposable accessories. It was a good night. I would like to return to try out their dinner menu, or for drinks after a performance at Yoshi’s.

It was a beautiful celebration. Very serendipitous. How many times have you experienced that space in time when things just work for the best without trying? I look forward to many more moments of serendipity in 2012. Planning can be good but perhaps life can become more interesting when you stop figuring out the details. Try living differently in 2012. Stop being such a control freak.

San Francisco 2012 New Year Style

San Francisco 2012 New Year Style

I Need a San Francisco Food Nerd

It’s the day after Christmas. I have post Holiday food fatigue. I need a cure. I need a San Francisco Food Nerd to deliver an organic, local, sustainable, seasonal, affordable, nutritional, environmental, humane, artisanal, wholesome, eco-friendly, fresh-from-the-earth, unpretentious, vegetarian¬†food kit to get me out of the Holiday food blues!

Gluttony is bad. It’s a terrible way to treat your body. Never mind the behavior part of it. Physically it’s just wrong. Your body should be treated like a shrine. A sacred vessel. But then again does the Holiday Season just give us license to engage in sinful behavior?

My San Francisco Week in Review

Thanksgiving week was delightful and an eclectic bag of experiences from learning a new skill to spending time with important people in my life. I started learning how to code (so I can build something big someday), I went to the San Francisco Opera’s production of Turandot, I had German food in the Mission, I discovered this fantastic San Francisco stairway (think “street connector”) in my neighborhood for working out and I created my first set on this fabulous site called Polyvore¬†which merges¬†fashion, creativity and technology. ¬†Brilliant to discover a smart fashion site making an impact in Silicon Valley. Polyvore also happens to be based in Mountain View, San Francisco’s backyard. The highlight of the week however was Thanksgiving Day ~ great food and discussion with an intimate group of old and new friends.

And the weekend was topped off when I enjoyed a nice Italian meal with a friend who I’ve known for 16 years but get to see maybe four times a year despite living in the same city! (you know who you are!) San Francisco is the best place to spend time with people who you are thankful to be in your life.