How young are you?

For the last few days I've been hanging with Andreas from Sweden. This is a photo of him pulling a silly face.

Andreas next to the fruit stool

He is a big, kind, larger than life character. He plays the guitar, takes jaw-dropping photos and wears a Batman cap.

His voice is deep in tone and loud in volume. He's articulate but at times his English is a bit broken or his grammar is out of whack—but it's a fair bit better than my Swedish that's for sure.

He has a filthy sense of humour so we get along just fine.

Last night we were walking back from the night market in Chiang Mai.

When we got back to our hostel, we started chatting with a few girls from California.

In a way that resembled the national lottery "it could be you!" advert, Andreas turns around, points and asks "how young are you?" to one of the girls.

We laughed.

After a moment passed, I thought; imagine if you could answer that question: "I have 32 years, 4 months and 17 days left before I die."

A horizontal bar chart sketch

We laughed about asking the question: "so mate, how many years have you got left?".

Andreas thought it would be a good one to ask the mother in law when she's giving you a hard time.

I thought about it again in the shower this morning.

It's weird thought experiment, but, if we knew, I wonder if we would make any changes to:

  • The way we spend our time
  • The way we think about our legacy
  • The way we think about what others think of us
  • The grudges we hold
  • The way we spend our money
  • The way we earn our money
  • The amount of peanut butter we eat

You are going to die is a powerful reminder — we are already naked.

How young are you?

Obama Noodles

Trekked over to the other side of Hanoi to Bún chả Hương Liên — where Obama and Joe Biden came for Bún Chả (noodles, greens and bbq pork strips in a f-u-c-k-i-n-g sensational soup).

Obama eating noodles at Bún chả Hương Liên

The lady pictured top left came to sit opposite me.

She spoke exceptionally good English. She pointed out hardly any westerners visit the restaurant and asked how I knew about this place (thanks Anh Túc).

I said her elocution was better than mine – to which she replied “yes, I am a news presenter for one of Vietnam’s biggest broadcasters”.

Today was her first day on maternity leave.

She's having a baby girl 👼🏻

Tom & Tom in Koh Rong

📋🏃🏽 written on the move, typos and all

I just got back from Koh Rong – an island off of the south west coast of Cambodia - and I'm en route to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia.

It's comical how far some of the coach drivers stretch the definition of a direct journey.

About 4 hours in and we've been picking up and dropping off random people at random places. Clearly the driver is sticking some $$ in his arse pocket and taking us all on a detour.

An Italian guy just shouted his head off about it, saying he will report the driver to his office. The driver looks scared and apologetic.

If it wasn't for needing to piss like a race horse, I would've been fine with the detour. Lots of happy Cambodians waving frantically, living in the most remote conditions.

On reflection Koh Rong was beautiful. I arrived there late afternoon on Thursday. As soon as I got off of the boat, I hung a right and walked along the beach and then into the jungle for about 3km until i had my own patch of beach --  then I pitched up my hammock for the night. 

The sun makes for a good alarm clock and on my first morning I caught sunrise. Favourite time of day by far.

The view from my cocoon

When I jumped out of my cocoon, I noticed there was another hammock next to mine which was a bit odd — I was in quite a remote area and a fair way into the jungle.

A few hours later and The dude from the other hammock woke up --turns out his name was Tom too. Tom 2.0.

Tom 1.0 and Tom 2.0

Tom 2.0 was from Munich (Germany), had dreadlocks and was a fair bit cooler than Tom 1.0. 

We compared hammocks. Tom showed me how to do a simpler fly knot. I showed him how to tie and adjustable lasso knot for his canopy. There was a bit of a language barrier but the knots went right over it.

We saw a huge platform that the local people used for fishing.

No entry sign Being stupid enough to sleep in a jungle with 16 different poisonous snakes (some venoms can end your life within hours) naturally we ignored the danger and no entry signs and decided to dive off of it.

the view from the top of the platform The view from the top.

After we were bruised and sore from two jumps off of the platform, Tom 2.0 showed me the best place to get breakfast and the best place to buy mangos. Probably the best mangos I've ever had. 

Tom 2.0 forgot his wallet so I said I would buy his breakfast for him. He started to walk back the whole 3km to get it, I insisted I would pay and carried him in the opposite direction . We had breakfast and spoke about travel plans and what we did for a living. We shared a mutual disappointment for the lack of decent techno music in south east Asia.

After breakfast, I left Tom to go on a jungle trek to a paradise called Long Beach. Most people take a taxi boat, but I fancied the trek.

Trekking Narrowly avoided being attacked by a bunch of dogs. I love dogs but these were angry ass fook dogs showing their teeth and their owner was no where to be seen. Lucky I had my trusty stick and remembered to be firm and confident with them (sage advice dad). 

I remembered that snakes aren't usually confrontational , so I played music on my phone sothat they'd hear me coming and move off of the track.

afroleft uniform resource locator Left my mark on this sign. Just before the rock climbing down the cliff face started.

After about 2 hours trekking I reached a rocky cliff that you have to climb down.

Long beach, Koh Rong, Cambodia

At the bottom jt was paradise. A beach with white sand and crystal blue water that stretched as far as you can see. Hardly anyone was there. Felt like I had the place to myself.

I walked in the blazzing heat for about an hour and a half-- only stopping for a mango and glugs of water .

Beach bar Eventually I found a little beach bar. Had the most amazing banana shake and bumped into two lively girls from Melbourne.

Aussie girls like doing this at sunset.

sun dance

We negotiated hard and managed to get a taxi boat back after sunrise for $2.

Nearly dropped my phone in the water for this photo.

Boat race at sundown

When I got back to my hammock there was a $5 note tucked on the main fly line.

Must’ve been Tom 2.0, who had moved on to the other side of the island #travelling

Founders: Avoid Death by Assumption

“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.” — Isaac Asimov

When you’re building a company, your ability to make good assumptions can be the difference between skyrocketing or skydiving. A few bad calls in a larger business can be damaging, but in an early stage startup it can be — and often is — fatal.

A roadmap to better

At Fruitful we’ve made a conscious effort to get better at making assumptions. We do this by mapping out the following on what we call an assumption roadmap™

An illustration of the Assumption Roadmap. See description below.

For the upcoming months, we unroll a stretch of paper and stick:

  • Blue Post-its → for what we assume we can do.
    An example being: We will raise a new round of venture investment because we’ve built our product and are ready for go-to-market.
  • Red Post-its → for things that could undo the above (namely, risk factors).
    E.g. Investors pass on us because they can’t get comfortable with our costs to acquire new customers.
  • Green Post-its → for contingencies that we develop.
    E.g. Use investor feedback to rework the pitch / consider a change in strategy / reach out to previous investors to jumpstart the round / collect data to make our pitch more compelling / secure a bridge loan (lol).

Assumption Roadmaps FTW

As a team, we’ve found the exercise to be pretty helpful since it:

  • Forces you to think of worst case scenarios — every headstrong founder hates doing this but it’s important for so many reasons that go way beyond the role of this article.
  • Encourages brainstorming of contingencies — and trust me, you’ll need these.
  • Serves as a visual overview of
    (1) important assumptions we have over the next few months
    (2) where have a large number of risk factors
    (3) where we’re looking shallow on fallbacks for said risk factors.

Most importantly, this role your sleeves-up approach to planning is quick and simple — making it accessible for everyone on your team to contribute.

★ For extra points, use the Post-It Plus app to rearrange, organise and share your assumption roadmaps anytime after your planning sesh.

Saying Something Memorable

It should come as no surprise: The best way to make a point, teach something or sell a product is to tell stories. Here’s one of my favourite storytellers:

When I start preparing for a talk, I often struggle to think of stories that help explain the ‘thing’ I want to talk about.

After hearing Eamonn O’Brien’s brilliant talk at Sage in Newcastle the other day, I think I know where I’ve been going wrong.

1) I can’t think of story

It’s tricky to think of a story on the spot.

A simple way to solve this is to keep a journal. Whenever you encounter something funny / poignant / bizarre, jot it down. Overhear a funny conversation on the train this morning? Write it down.

Once you start building up a bunch of stories, you’ll have less of a problem thinking of one.

I ended up buying the Day One app as I’d probably end up losing a notebook — but good old pen and paper works just as well.

2) I think the story needs to be as thrilling as a James Bond car chase

As Eamonn pointed out, the James Bond car chase stories often wind up alienating your audience as they find it difficult to relate.

Better to go with simple, local, everyday stories that have an interesting twist.

In my experience, captivating stories encourage the listener to inject themselves into the narrative — “Oh my goodness, imagine if that happened to me”.

Or as Steve did; they use analogies to light up the imagination and explain a point in a super compelling way.