London is for Lovers.

A celebration, a Lovers take on London, and for the Love of Lifting…it is February after all, why not all the Love

Chinese New Year

This weekend I spent some time enjoying my friends. We gathered in China Town to celebrate Chinese New Year. Here, we circled around a huge table of food and jasmine tea. Er Mei. Head over to The London Foodie for great ideas on food, wine and more across the Londonscape.

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London is for Lovers.

Now, I hear it all the time, the question about London. Is London for Lovers? Well, maybe it isn’t asked that way. Mostly, I get emails from students back in the US asking, ‘is it true, is London a cold place?’ “I hear London is busy, are people nice?” To which I reply, are people nice where you live now? I’m not trying to be cute or facetious. I think someone who can be happy anywhere will be happy everywhere and anyone who can be unhappy anywhere is inevitably going to be unhappy everywhere. So, I don’t try to convince people to move or not to move because of the ‘way’ of people ‘there’. I ask the question, the question that returns the answer back to the origin of its asking, to the ones who want to know, is London for Lovers?

Lifting with Love.

Until I moved to London, I had never thought about weightlifting, powerlifting or the like. Lifting was foreign to me. Then, one random morning I met a young man who would invite me to try out this foreign phenomenon. The story of how we got to where we are is short and sweet, but being where I am is sweeter still. Since I’ve moved to London, I’ve discovered this passion for weightlifting. More important to me, I found a community. Now, I am a creature of habits. I’m not much into ‘variety is the spice of life’ unless of course that variety is my own creation. But I can’t express in words what weightlifting means to me. Not, the lifting of weights part, but the lifting with others who encourage you, who cheer for you, who show up early and laugh and smile and inspire you. People who demand you do better, demand you give more. Not through their words, but through their own example of daily practice and perseverance.

They call themselves the breakfast club. You see, the breakfast club isn’t just your ordinary group of lifting mates. Nah, we are a hodgepodge of men and women who think liquid chalk is an essential component of life and gains can be measured in waffles and bacon and protein shakes. We start at 730 and the banter and laughter and sing-a-longs to old 80s hits from the States don’t stop for hours. We are known for trying and failing and trying and failing and trying and failing and trying, one more time. We are known for our energy, for our tenacity. Breakfast Club isn’t just a name or a title or a group of people, it’s an idea. It’s an idea that we will show up, we will work hard, we will try hard and we will keep going. Breakfast Club is about never being done and never getting finished. Well, at least not til lunchtime… 😀

London is for Lovers.

From London with Love,

Zach

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Google: opportunities in how we Search

Google is Search:

Google is a global company. With offices all over the world, including several in London, Google footprints and search terms are in the sky, in our phones, on our desktops. This deeply integrated platform is in almost every aspect of human life. So what’s new? Why is Google so important? What are they doing to drive their own development and improve human experience?

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The GooglePlex in London:

Well, last week I had the chance to traverse the GooglePlex in central London off St. Giles. The building is this immense multi-occupancy complex with security badges and everything. There’s only one general way in and out. Once inside, you are sort of swooped up by this whimsical sense of Play. No wonder, the use of color and artsy, stylistic typography in every sign definitely communicates a ‘playground’ atmosphere. However, while it may feel light, you can feel there is an energy of focus in the building.

Floor after floor you are swept through multi-purpose spaces. Zones for collaboration, cooperation, collecting and collating ideas. In short, searching. Here, master craftspeople throw ideas back and forth. Here, you sip quad-shot espressos, play ping-pong, and attempt to solve mega problems using meta-data and ask…what’s going on? why is it happening? can we bring some resource to the situation which improves it? can real world problems be managed through the use of data driven decision-makers? The answer, is in short, Sometimes. Perhaps, more often than not, the answer is Yes!! But there is something in Search which allows for expansion. For more to be gleaned and gathered.

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Google: OK Google...Search

Now, being in education, my focus of study is student housing. I look at how student residential accommodation influences student personal development. Cool stuff, I think. But what’s more cool is how I see a problem and I go searching for ‘what’s going on, why that’s important, and how I’d like to address it’. That’s basically the short template of a PhD thesis in England. “What’s going on, why is that important, and how are you going to figure out how to address it?”

The point is, Google sparked something in me I wasn’t expecting. My trip called me to discern, what’s the issue I am trying to address, why is that issue important to people and how do I propose to deal with it? The experience of meeting innovative people is that they have, at their core, a skepticism that we are ever ‘done’ or ‘solved’ in a problem. Instead, the focus is on creating new means and ways of addressing what are long-standing or short-lived issues in human life.

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Google, Search and Saying ‘Yes’ to what you find…

I found my Search in Google to be both inspiring and enlightening. I can’t tell you how much I LOVE being a student ambassador because of the friends I’ve made. I don’t know if I would have found such adventure these past few months if not for the occasional catch-up with my friends. Friends who were perfect strangers before I came to London, before I was adopted into the LUIP. It is this year of fun and cool experiences. And that’s the important bit, from today. The experiences that have come from searching, from saying Yes to opportunity. To Googling and playing and pondering and asking good questions and then trying to ask better ones.

Better questions: Filtering your Search Findings…

Google offers us 9 Notions of innovation to sift through and filter your search results, after all, there are hundreds of thousands of millions and billions of possibilities. But what’s the right one? Actually, what’s the right and best one, for me? Try this…

1. Customer need = creative inspiration 2. Ideas come from everywhere 3. Fail quickly and learn    4. Allow ideas to morph 5. Creativity loves constraint 6. Share everything 7. Data informs decision-making 8. Users come first 9. Have a license to pursue your passions

Ask really really good questions. Then, go ask if you there’s a better one. Or, Google It.

My very best,

Zach