Make it stick

Been reading quite a lot of books lately, I’m on book no. 35 as of writing to be exact. That brings me to the thought of… for so much books that I read, information that I absorbed, things that I learned, how much of it I am actually able to recall and make use of in the days to come?

The challenge has always been this. Just like how you see supposedly “educated” people graduated from famous university, but still performing uneducated act like littering everywhere. Ultimately, all that matters is not how much input you received, is how much output you produce out of it.

The same goes to photography. You can talk all day about “how to take a good photo”, but if you didn’t deliver a good photo in the end… what’s the point, right?

Of course my argument here is based upon a “result-based” approach, by ignoring the fact on the process. One may argue that this is part of the process, where failing to achieve what you have learned is also a learning point for you, making you aware and hence be more cautious in the future. Well, I kinda agree with that, but still, many may not even realized that in the end, and that’s a problem.

So, for so much I have read for the past years, did I made any changes and put any meaningful learning into practice? Well… yes and no. Conservatively, I would estimate only like 20% of what I learned has been put into good use. That’s quite little indeed. That’s something I’m aware of and trying to fix.

Of course not everything can be of good use immediately, some takes time to materialize, some require additional skills beforehand, some I just can’t… make it stick. It’s a long way to go and to change. Let’s see if things will turn better in the future. Till then.

A Brand Story

Recently I have read a couple of books on some of the famous brands in the world, about the story behind their creation and success, about the vision, mission and values that formed a part of their identity. There were two books which I found to be particularly enjoyable and insightful to read:

“The Starbucks Story, How the brand changed the world” by John Simmons

The story of Starbucks has always been a fascinating one. A company that was founded by a few gentlemen who were obsessed over high quality coffee beans, which was then bought over by Howard Schultz, a man who was obsessed with the coffee culture and experience which he immersed in Italy. The whole brand was then transformed, from selling beans and brewing equipment to serving coffees and pastries, creating “The Third Place” that everyone will go besides office and home.

“Shoe Dog, a memoir by the creator of Nike” by Phil Knight

This is actually the first time I got to know the Nike brand in detail. I was surprised that the whole story was started off with Phil importing Onitsuka Tiger’s shoes, how it all went south in the end and ultimately led to the creation of their own shoe brand: Nike. The struggles of Phil and his fellowships was so real and raw, and it made me continued to read and read in order to find out what they did to get over all the hurdles. The story brought up the spirits behind Nike, on hindsight, you can really see where those spirits and rebellion came from.

Both books offered insight and behind-the-scene of how a brand was created, how their identity was defined. For Starbucks it’s always about customer experiences, for Nike it’s all about winning. Both books were easy to read and digest, and I learnt a couple of things about business management along the way as well. Even if you are not a business person, these books were entertaining enough for you to read and get to know the brand better, that is if you are a fan of these brands.

《风格是一种商机》增田宗昭

蔦屋,如果你不知道,它是一间生活时尚店,有卖书本,文具,一些生活时尚用品等。可能你会联想到马来西亚和新加坡的大众书局,但是两者完全是不一样的档次的。蔦屋始于日本,在台湾有它们的分店,所以到台北时难得可以走入几家蔦屋,走走看看,然后买了几本书。而这一本书就当然是在蔦屋买的。

这本书是蔦屋的创办人所写,里面包含了一些蔦屋的历史,背后的商业动机与抉择,还有就是从书店转型成为融入社会的生活时尚店的一些点滴。书本当中有许多增田先生对于行商的经历与教诲,读着从中也获益不浅。

另外,由于之前读了《书店不死》一书有提到像蔦屋这样的书店并不能称得上是书店一说,读了这本书之后,也许我找到了我的答案。蔦屋和其他书店追求的目标,可以说是彻底的不一样。“书店”想把店长的思想与心意,透过书本传达出去。但是蔦屋由始至终的目标就只是创造出一个融入当地社会的店面,让人们在这里感到舒服,让人们会想要再次光临。所以书店卖的是书的温暖,但是蔦屋卖的却是空间的温暖。

在台北走访了几间蔦屋,它们有许多相似的地方,但却也巧妙的有各自不一样的地方。这跟其他连锁书店(像是紀伊国屋之类的)相比则多了一份特色。这也许与蔦屋那“融入当地社会”的执着有关系吧!

Anyway,这是一本不错的书。喜欢逛书店(尤其是蔦屋)的人就不要错过啦!

《书店不死》石桥毅史

在台湾旅行,逛着书店时,我发现了这本书。日文名字“本屋”虽然翻译上来是“书店”没错,但是其实作者比较想探讨的是独立书店的未来。在日本旅行时,不难发现商店街中偶尔会穿插着几间书店,有些小得只能挤入两三人,有些卖着新书,有些卖着二手书。在这大型连锁书店施虐的年代,这些独立书店是否还有存在的价值呢?它们存在的意义又是什么呢?那些成功生存的,它们的秘诀又会是什么呢?

书店是怎样的一个存在,书中提到的一个结论是心意与诚意的传达。书店老板和顾客交流,从中介绍他们一本书或一名作者;然后这份心意与诚意,这份温暖,从书店老板的手中传递给顾客,让他们也能够感受到那份温热。

另外,书店对店员与老板来说,就像是画家的画纸一样。这个角落应该摆放什么种类的书,这种类的书中又应该卖哪一本,该怎么摆放,该怎么让顾客注意到某本书,该怎么让顾客知道这是一本好书等等。这些都是一门学问。

透过观察一间书店,你就可以知道老板的细心程度,老板是否用心的想把那份“温暖”给传递下去。在新加坡,独立书店实在不多,但隐约记得我曾经光顾过一件挺有意思的(虽然现在已经没了),也许那时候我所感觉到的“有意思”,就是老板想传达的那份温暖吧?

这本书还讨论了整个从出版到销售的过程,也针对书店和书本的未来而进行了研究。电子书确实能够让阅读更普及化,简化出版过程与成本,但是它能够传承那份“温暖”吗?大型连锁书店只是跟着总部的指示摆卖书本,这能让顾客发现非主流的好书吗?书店会沦落成为一个枯燥乏味,单单只是贩卖书本的卖场吗?将来是否连这些枯燥乏味的连锁书店也会被淘汰?

我觉得不会,我也希望不会。我还想继续享受着在书店的架子间游走,那仿佛在寻觅宝藏的感觉。我还想闻到那书香,感受那手指翻阅着每一页章的感觉。希望无论是独立书店也好,连锁书店也好,也能够继续坚持营运下去。而我能够做的,也就是继续买书,继续阅读,然后透过这样的文章和大家分享,让那份温暖得以延续。

《你想活出怎样的人生?》吉野源三郎

This is part of a new series of writings that I’m planning to do, which is to write my thoughts after reading a book. For books in Mandarin, I will write my thoughts in Mandarin. For books in English, I will write my thoughts in English. Apologise for any inconvenience caused.

这本书透过主人翁“小哥白尼”的日常故事,探讨着关于勇气,友情,贫富,霸凌,人与社会等课题,然后让读者去思考,去了解,并决定“你想活出怎样的人生”。故事呈现的方式简单,小孩子也应该能轻易的看得懂,而且好像说宫崎骏要把这故事拍成电影,有兴趣的人可以拭目以待。

故事传达的意义与重点有许多,在这里我就大概举例几个吧:

  • 人总是以自己为中心去思考,去判断事物,渐渐的让自己无法了解周遭事物的真相。你能成为一个能够客观思考的人吗?
  • 人必须活得像人。人活在不像人与人之间的关系当中,实在可惜。即使面对毫无瓜葛的陌生人,也应该建立像人的关系。
  • 了解到自己享受到的幸福并不常有,我们才会心怀感谢。
  • 世上有许多和善之人虽有好心肠,却因为性格懦弱而无法发挥善心。有很多人并不是坏人,却因为过于懦弱,反而为自己和他人带来不幸。
  • 对于自己犯的过错,能想的都已经想了,该后悔的都后悔过了,该觉得痛苦的也都痛苦过了。现在必须抬起头来,好好过接下来的日子。
  • 因为内心感到痛苦,我们才能在心里好好认清人本来应该是什么样子。

看完这本书后,那我想活出怎样的人生呢?这答案我还在寻找中,希望有一天能够遇上吧!