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Malaysia in 10

I recently travelled to Malaysia as part of my University’s overseas exchange, however I also travelled to begin to build a partnership for sports and societies – yes, that’s right, I went to play badminton!

Here are the 10 things that stood out for me from my 10 days there.

1 – The people are incredible

I was shocked by how friendly, approachable and generally nice the people were. Everyone wanted to know who we were, how we were doing, and what Malaysian food we’d tried!

This made the experience 1000 time better, it was only a short time but they made a real impact and I miss them already.

2 – Malaysian haze isn’t fog!

As soon as we arrived we heard people complaining about ‘the haze’. A few hours after arrival we saw a post on the Facebook account for the university saying all outdoor activities were suspended due to the haze – shame since we wanted to swim!

I remember thinking, what is it with everyone complaining about a bit of fog? It won’t harm anyone… well, it’s not quite fog. Without going into the details, it’s actually the result of mass wood burning in various areas around Malaysia and Indonesia! Click here if you want to know the details.

3 – Badminton halls are everywhere

Within an hour we’d found our first hall – courts marked out in the university’s function room. That evening we played in a hall that was a 5 minute walk from where we stayed, to me it was perfect, to the locals it was the bad hall in the area – “you know there’s a 20 court hall just down the road?!”.

4 – Walking doesn’t exist

It’s fair to say people were shocked when we told them we walked to badminton one evening and that we’d be happy to walk back.

In Malaysia everyone drives! Cars are expensive, and the traffic is bad, but’s it’s what they do!

5 – The place feels very local, until you get inside

I was shocked by how local and un-commercial I first found Kuala Lumpur, yes of course there were many tall buildings, but also many local shops and restaurants. I soon realised all the brand chains were in the many, many shopping centres.

Huge buildings on every street corner, housing brands from all over the world. I saw 3 Nando’s in one day!

6 – Never judge a place by its appearance

The best places we ate were the most obscure; a restaurant attached to a car garage, another place that didn’t even have a sign, but that didn’t matter when you were with locals who knew where to go and what to get!

7 – It’s extremely diverse

Malaysians, Chinese-Malaysians and Indian-Malaysians; these are the three main ethnic groups in Malaysia. However we came across people from all areas; it really has attracted crowds from all over the globe.

8 – Durian is NOT the king of fruits

No matter how many times you’re told to try Durian – the king of fruits – don’t! Not a single person on our trip liked it.

9 – It’s cheap, until you want to drink

If you want a cheap holiday, head to Malaysia, just don’t drink. Food is cheap and amazing but your alcohol is heavily taxed. Although my friend from Norway insisted she still found it to be cheap!

10 – The food is incredible

It is food heaven, half the time I didn’t know what I was eating or what to call it, but it was amazing. As a side note, they have a lot of varieties of ‘chicken and rice’, but the speciality is ‘chicken rice’, it sounds and looks the same but it is its own dish!

Russia and the Olympics

This week the Russian Olympic Committee and 68 Russian Athletes failed to overturn their suspension from the 2016 Rio Olympics.

After claims of state-sponsored doping programs involving Russian athletes were revealed, the IAAF suspended Russian Track and Field Athletes from competing. A situation that is very unique due to the scale of the suspension. Individual athletes being suspending for drug and doping related offenses is, unfortunately, common. However, a nationwide conviction is rare. This is what happened –

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What do I think? I’m glad and far from surprised!

Widespread drug use and doping will be common!

I feel it is naive to believe a sport is clean. The incentives for top athletes is far too great, the pressure from governing bodies is far too immense, and the hunger to win is far too powerful.

I don’t believe all athletes are cheating, I am confident many are 100% clean, however I’m sure they know that their competitors are gaining an unfair advantage over them! I also believe that sporting bodies know what’s happening!

So why don’t they speak up?

Wide spread convictions will ruin a sport!

Look at the story of Lance Armstrong. Comes back from cancer to win the Tour de France 7 times!! What a powerful story to build the popularity of the sport. What a strong idol for juniors to follow. The sport grows, generates more money, and gets more coverage and so on.

Revealing that Lance was cheating would destroy the fairy tale. Instead it wasn’t until he retired and there were new idols that the truth came out.

Athletes taking drugs improve their ability, improves the standard of the sports making it a better spectacle. This benefits of this are obvious, and so turning a blind eye to it allows sporting bodies to grow the sport.

It is improving

I think now sporting bodies are beginning to reveal the truth and punish those cheating. The Russia case confirms this. So what needs to be done next?

Well, I think national bodies need to step up. The Russian scandal was state sponsored. If national bodies are implementing programs the cover up for athletes then sporting bodies begin to lose control. However, again, with aims to meet such as gold medals at the Olympics, jobs, reputation and pride are on the line and drugs and doping are the easy way to try and gain that all important advantage.

What My Second Year at University has Taught Me

Today is a historic day. The UK has just announced it will leave the EU, and now I sit, with uncertainty about the coming years, potential future jobs and freedom to move around. Despite being a strong believer for remain and extremely disappointed about today’s result, if University has taught me anything, it’s to not fear the new and instead to embrace and make the most of it. I do not agree with the decision, but I will continue to work hard to ensure the best possible future for myself, friends and family, and any other people I can help.

With that said, I now want to use my last day of year 2 to look back at the main 3 things I have learnt over the year.

1 – ‘You are the average of the 5 people you spend most time with’ is very true

I have always understood the logic behind this statement, but had never truly experienced (or realised it) until this year.

The people you spend time with at University will almost certainly change at least a little bit each year, however, it can change a lot more depending on your situation – for example, starting a new module and being with new people, playing more of a sport, spending more time in your flat or joining a new society. Each situation introduces you to new people with different views, work ethics, behaviours and opinions.

This year more than ever I have seen and experienced the effects of changing between, and being part of, different groups. Not necessarily for a negative, the variety can be incredibly beneficial, however getting the people right for each situation is vital. It will determine how hard you work on your course, how you approach a sport/activity, how you socialise, and so on.

2 – Good habits are extremely easy to lose if you aren’t careful

Whether it’s waking up on time, going to the gym, making notes in lectures, even washing up. The daily habits that can happen automatically, for me have fluctuated a lot. When presented with a slight barrier of travel, I found I went to the gym less. When I started to sleep less, I struggled to wake up easily – something I was very good at in year one.

These were things that I could correct if I wanted, however, suddenly they took a conscious effort to act upon. I believe it is due many new things happening within the year, new aims, new challenges, new focuses.

When I have thought about a habit – e.g. blogging each week – I have been successful. It just takes time and effort to put in place the building blocks.

3 – Get the little things right and the big picture will take care of itself

W all have a grand vision and goals. We all want big things to happen quickly. But they can’t be reached in one big jump. Take the small steps that are possible now and you’ll be there in no time.

I have seen the truth of this mostly in badminton this year. We have had our most successful year to date and as captain, I feel proud of what we achieved. Yet I can’t take credit that this was the outcome of my master plan, rather the opposite. I started the year with the aim to ensure all team members enjoyed playing badminton. When they enjoy playing, they train more, they get on with the team and are hungry for success. I took the little steps to listen to the team, to make each session enjoyable, to focus on each match individually and to not invoke nerves with plans to win everything. Taking it one step at a time led to a league, cup and varsity win, and the achievement of team of the year.

I didn’t use some special formula, instead, I gave each team member the platform to showcase their ability and that is what lead us forward.

What’s next for adamianstewart.com?

1 year of blogging complete.

It’s time to try something new….

Starting next Friday, instead of posting written blogs, I will be posting podcast interviews!!

Don’t worry, all content will continue to be posted on this site, so no need to go anywhere!

What 1 Year of Blogging Has Taught Me

This week marks the 1 year anniversary for this blog! For 52 consecutive weeks I have posted every Friday without fail. I’ve covered topics from books I’ve read, to life at University and my thoughts on business.

Some posts have been very successful, with lots of shares, reads and interaction, others not so much… but I’ve still carried on posting. Throughout the year a lot of people have had the same question – why?

I don’t make money from this blog, I haven’t secured a job through it, in honesty the potential external rewards of a blog haven’t really shown up for me. Yet the year has been extremely rewarding. So why do I blog? And what have I learnt?

I’ve learnt how to summarise faster!

On more than one occasion I’ve had to finish the post in a bit of a rush. However I’ve always wanted the quality to be respectable. It used to take days of planning and research for me to write a post. Now, if I know what I want to talk about, it will take 20 minutes.

I’ve noticed the benefits of this in my University work. Finishing coursework with ten minutes to spare, writing the conclusion quickly. Then when receiving the feedback I see a comment “very well written conclusion!” I put this completely down to the summarisation of points I carry out every week in these posts!

Our thoughts are very contradictory

Until you actually understand what your thoughts, beliefs and morals are and then compare them across situations, you won’t quite realise how often you can contradict yourself!

“Always do what you want to do, at the end of the day enjoyment is a priority” is probably a belief I hold true for a number of situations, but then when I write a post about revision it suddenly becomes obvious that I clearly don’t think the initial statement is relevant or even helpful in many other situations.

That self-awareness is so important to understanding how you wish to present yourself and act in different situations.

People don’t ‘hate’, they just don’t care

Before starting my blog I was worried about what people might think, what they would think of me for it. Does it make me sound big headed? Am I talking complete rubbish in my posts? Will people make comments or remarks about it when I see them?

The truth is, most people don’t care enough to form a negative opinion. Most people might read one or two, quite like them but not read another. Never have I had a negative opinion expressed at me for them. Of course, people don’t always agree with the content, but I don’t expect them to.

It has surprised me how many positive comments I have had from people. Often at unexpected times – “oh, by the way, I really liked your blog this week!” Just knowing that someone has taken the time to hear my opinion really makes it worthwhile!

 

Since starting I have spoken to a number of people wanting to start something similar. I say the same thing “start now and plan later.” The hardest thing is the commitment and motivation to stick at it. If you wait until you have a perfect plan, you’ll never start, if you jump straight in you’d better start getting your content ready otherwise you’ll be missing your deadlines straight away!

Year 2 Term 2

Another term comes to an end, but to be honest, I’m struggling to remember the start of this term! I’m hoping that’s because so much has happened and not that it’s all passed by without an event.

Over the last ten weeks I’ve started a new business venture, won the League and Cup as captain of the badminton team, secured a placement year with 3M, and, as I write this, I have just ended my time as a teenager!

What have I learnt this term?

1 – Don’t underestimate the power of culture

This year I’ve been captain of the men’s first badminton team here at uni. We’ve just ended our league and cup season undefeated! Promotion from the league and a cup title (quarter, semi and final all won on point difference!).

We’ve had an incredible season and a huge improvement on last year, but, I don’t think our team is that much better. It is definitely stronger, however I don’t think that is why we have done so well.

The team (and club as a whole) has an amazing culture and team spirit. Everyone’s committed to train and play, we want to win for each other and I think that is what has carried us through the closest of matches!

So why is this important? It’s taught me to care about culture, to do my best to ensure its going to strengthen the situation, rather than neglect it.

2 – People want to see that you care

A lot of my time at the start of this term was spent looking for, and applying to, placement positions. As expected, some applications were more successful than others, some didn’t pass stage one, obviously 3M passed all stages and a number reached final stages.

Looking back, it’s pretty obvious why I did better with some applications than others. The ones where I actually cared about the company and wanted to work there, were the ones that progressed. The places to which I applied ‘to get the ball rolling’ were quick rejections. My CV was similar, qualifications the same, only my motivations were different. But that is hugely important!

If you can show people how much you care, that can be valued way above skills and qualifications. People want to know that you’re genuinely interested, motivated and passionate. They want to know that you will make the most of opportunities presented and that you aren’t applying just to ‘tick a box’ or make your CV ‘look good’.

3 – Momentum is huge!

I would guess that this term has been my busiest in terms of the number of different things I’ve had going on. A few people have asked me recently how I can do so much. Firstly, yes I’m doing a lot, but I don’t think I’m doing them all very well! There are times when somethings drop down and fall behind, however I try and bring everything back because I enjoy it all and want to carry on.

Is it possible for me to do it all at a higher level? YES! Do I need more hours in the day? NO (well maybe a couple). I find that things only fall behind when I put more focus on something else and ‘forget’ to keep the other area in check. As soon as that momentum is lost, I have to consciously change to work on it.

This is something I want to improve next year, keeping it all going, all the time! Even just 10 minutes a day spent on one of the startups I’m involved in will be a big help. Some people would tell me to do less, but if I enjoy them all, then why should I?

WhatNext? Conference 2016

Last Saturday I attended Manchester Entrepreneur’s annual WhatNext? Conference.

A day full of guest speakers, workshops and networking (of course followed by a night out in Manchester).

You could probably find a different event to go to every weekend if you really wanted to. But would it be worth it? What’s the point in attending these events?

I have a couple of reasons.

1 – Immerse yourself

Events like this are a great way to be part of the community. Spend a day surrounded by like-minded people, talking about your passion.

You will truly discover if it’s something you like; if you get bored, it’s not for you.

When your business is your ‘side project’, it’s a great way to commit some time to it and get away from your day-to-day routine.

2 – Listen, learn and question

Many people might think that events can become repetitive, hearing the same thing over and over. Personally, I don’t agree. Yes, people might talk about the same topic, but they won’t always agree and you won’t always agree. The more you listen, the more you will form your own opinions and soon you will reach the point where you are able to challenge people or suggest alternatives.

3 – It’s fun

Let’s face it, I have fun at these events! I don’t necessarily go just to meet new people or learn new things, I also go just to enjoy myself.

 

I had a great time in Manchester and will be sure to return again, maybe one day as a speaker 😉

(Too see what happened, check this out! http://www.playbyplay.io/whatnext16/)

When will the ‘True’ Meaning of Christmas be Different?

To some it is obvious, for some they know when tested, by others it is never considered. The true meaning of Christmas is fading (or changing). The tale of the birth of Jesus will one day not be known by many, however I believe even when or if it does fade away, Christmas will still be celebrated just with a different meaning.

Imagine trivial pursuit in the future, it may one day carry the question – ‘What was the original meaning of Christmas?’

Whether this is bad or not is personal opinion. I will say, however, that what I believe will become the meaning certainly isn’t a bad thing.

How do we learn?

The strength of religion in households is falling. Less and less families are attending church or any other place of worship, instead more and more are claiming to have no religious belief (source: telegraph). So naturally there will also be a decline in the number of parents teaching the story of Jesus to their children. If they are never taught, how can they ever know?

Thinking about my childhood, I remember schools playing a big part in the education of religion. We would have many Christmas services to remind us why we celebrated. Whether children really listened or cared is a different matter, what’s important for this discussion is that we were aware.

The education of religion around Christmas time is also said to be on the fall (source: Radio Times), if this continues, who will be left to educate children. Again, if they are never taught, how can they ever know?

The new, true meaning

If in the future the true meaning of Christmas is forgotten, why will people celebrate? Well I think we already know the answer to that… it is the reason the majority of people celebrate now.

To be with friends and family, to be thankful for all we have and to give something to others.

Christmas may turn into the holiday to celebrate family and friends. To all come together, share gifts, eat food and enjoy each other’s company. This is how we already act, and therefore it is in a position to become the reason in our minds for Christmas, if this reason becomes what is taught to children it could very well become the new, true meaning of Christmas.

 

Whether you are religious or not, celebrate the birth of Jesus or not, spending time with family and friends is always a good thing and it should be enjoyed and cherished.

And, on the note, I would like to wish everyone reading this a very happy Christmas!

Startup Weekend Lancaster 2015

November 20-22 saw the return of Startup Weekend to Lancaster. This year we had over 60 participants, from numerous countries! Lots of ideas were pitched, teams (one the size of a football team!) were formed and off they went to work.

This year, I didn’t participate as I was an organiser. However that doesn’t mean I missed out – far from it!

I got to experience organising and running a large event, but I also got to spend a weekend messing around, playing games and talking enterprise!

Here’s a little example of what I mean….

Of course, at times, I had to take things seriously, even with distractions all around…


But in the end, we pulled through and delivered a very successful event! Just last night, this was recognised as we (Lancaster Entrepreneurs) won LUMS event of the year!

 

Anyway, back to Startup Weekend. The only way to really know what happened is to check out the event’s live blog, FULL of pictures, videos, quotes and stories!

Just to finished off, and sum up my involvement in the weekend, here is the (short version) of the event’s highlight video, enjoy!

Apps World – The Good and The Bad

Thanks to Startacus, I won a gold pass to this years Apps World. This ticket gave me access to everything! All talks, panel sessions, workshops, exhibition and even the Appster Awards and after party!

I was really excited to attend, what was essentially, my first big business conference/exhibition (whatever you want to call it).

I had a fantastic two days down in London and was certainly sad for it to end. However, not all aspects lived up to expectations.

The Good

The talks and panel sessions.

Turning up on the first day to see Jason Bradbury talk about wearable tech and then interview google glass inventor Babak Parvis is a pretty good start!!

jason Apps world

Over the course of the two days, this was followed up with panel sessions on topics including:

  • Effectively driving acquisition, retention and conversation
  • The state of mobile enterprise
  • Wearables and the mobile marketing landscape
  • Using location based technologies to compliment the UX
  • DevOps – The Next Opportunity

(And many more!)

apps panel 1

Apps panel 2

Mixed in were guest speakers including:

  • David Shing
  • Tom Teichman

Some of these speakers were open for everyone, others were for paying delegates only.

It was these speakers and panel sessions that made my trip worth while. Some talks were insightful, others full of knowledge and some just funny!

The Bad

The exhibition.

Don’t get me wrong, some were great! Generally the more establish companies had the better stands.

My issue –  a lot were very similar!!

I counted lots of ‘we can get your app built for cheap’ stands, soon followed by a ‘we can help you analyse the data coming from your app’ stand. They were small, similar and sometimes just boring.

I walked around wanting to see exciting technology being applied to apps. Apps that were attempting to change how we worked or played. Instead I got the same sales pitch over and over.

Overall

Would I go back?

Yes, definitely, if I have access to the talks! I learnt a lot and had a great time. So perhaps I’ll just have to try and win a ticket again next year!!

 

 

 

 

 

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