REGROUPING, here at DK World HQ. It has been one full month of looking through old projects, discovering connections between them, and having that very intriguing moment of insight when you just feel like someone turned the lights on. I didn’t do the things you would imagine that you should do when going through this kind of overhaul; there were no customer interviews (most projects end, and people move on, and it’s a little weird to go back in time and dig through old contacts and ask questions, all this time later); we have learned a lot about who we are and the work we do, both as a team and as individual members.

Everyone has a specific core competency, and this clarifies everything.

I didn’t know a month was all it would take to gain such insight, but I am very glad for it.


Learning from others…

THING IS, there are a lot (50? seems like a lot to me) of people I have been in close correspondence with through the interviews we are putting in S P A C E, and they are teaching me so much about… flow.

Not necessarily because they are experts, but just asking questions about their revelations, insights, and the things they did to ramp up to those moments has been a kind of study of, ‘How do you get to the next level? How do you “N+1” it?’ for me, here.

In retrospect a few interviews really stand out for me. First was the designer, a software engineer, who makes stuff in Germany and whom I found… on the internet, of course. We didn’t talk on the phone, but the email conversations were good, and they got better with the back-and-forth style of exchange that necessarily involves responding, listening, and asking more questions, the creative process itself is about walking out into the dark, and wondering if anything of interest might happen. Sure, the dark is scary, but so? (What is the point of staying in the box all the time, I feel, and in the interviews that were the most fun, I met others who happened to feel that way, too.) Other people I met and interviewed for the forums included: a woman in her thirties who quit her day job to travel the world and record it in a blog and who was connected with me through a mutual friend when she came to Phnom Penh; a poet who now does readings all over the East Coast in the US whom I met at an open mic in Durham, NC; a cryptocurrency expert who helped me understand bitcoin and why it’s important; a jujitsu fighter who talked with me about choosing how to make your move, or just… more honestly… feeling your way towards it. Like in the Book of Five Rings… have you read that one?

Other flashes of ‘wow, that was great!’ moments were in real life, conversations with tea shop owners (like in Sheffield, Bangkok, and here in Phnom Penh), or florists (one was in San Francisco, happening to drop a bouquet at the picnic table in front of Front).

Or… musicians… a lot of them, to be honest, have helped me learn about improvisation and making it up as you go. Especially jazz, sometimes it’s very interesting. Theatre people tend to be repelled by me; not sure why. Same with other designers. Still not sure. I work well in conversations with complementarily-skilled others, but who value and respect and can also crossover to the other side of the left and right brain divide.

Don’t have to pigeonhole ourselves.

We can play at many tempos, enjoy stanzas of all styles.


Creating new S P A C E…

TURNING OFF HAS BEEN a huge part of turning on to the things that are important to me, personally, and the things I want to keep developing for the emails to come on Mondays for our subscribers and for the people who are participating in our online programmes. (This month we are on to Work, Life & Relationships, next one will be more specifically on Work-Life balance, there are some good Q&As scheduled for the rest of the month, and I have a feeling we will all be able to learn something, together, as we go. (Whatever is the point of taking some kind of random course from a faceless, nameless university somewhere, just so you can be ‘accredited?’ I am of the school of thought that we can self-validate, and we can group-identify.

Surely there is some academic idea around this, surely there is jargon. But for me, the doing of it, the making of space for exploration and jumping off into the void, is the why of our whole being here at Design Kompany.) It isn’t new. But it is clear that the most enjoyable work to date has been with and for others who are also interested in this thing, this philosophical esoteric thing of self-actualization, through the application of thoughtful reflection and that doesn’t mean setting a goal and jumping at it and measuring all the successes, it’s about setting the intention towards a thing. The journey, that is the work. And the joy.

The journey towards arrival, at wherever you go, through drift and wander, but with the clarity of intent secure in your heart… that is it. That is N+1.

(Aside: I will not talk about the people who have helped me learn this, because some of their stories are a little sad. Chasing things that… ultimately, didn’t give them the feeling that something mattered… that there was… well. It’s sad. Performance and productivity-chasing isn’t, ah, satisfying, if the metrics aren’t set by you. I learned much of this during our event, Book of Time || S P A C E, here in Phnom Penh, at the start of the year. Know what we did? Visualized our lives, but backwards. Looking back you get a sense of what you are still carrying around with you. Only by squarely facing that, and you should have seen us, getting irritated at things that happened when we were six, or even four, and realizing, and with realizing also seeing the absurdity of it, but realizing, as I was saying, how those hurts (and resentments) have stayed with us. Crimping us from moving forwards. Again, N+1.)



Letting go…

MOST PEOPLE WHOM I have been in correspondence with through these ten, maybe 20 years, are going into a different category for me now. They are in the ‘Not interested in N+1’ box. And that means, as much as it feels strange to let go, I have to purge them. From my emails, from the correspondences, from so very much more. Mental space must be created so that I can move forwards, personally. As the R&D Director here at DK, it’s important. We are lucky enough not to have to write reports to donors who want us to produce something that is going to make them look good, like the NGO world has to do, here. For better or worse, we have no one funding us, no reserves of cash, and no idea where our next gig will come from. That means always pivoting, as they like to stay in the startup world, but it also gives us a sense of… confidence, now. We have been at this kind of lifestyle for 10 years, and it’s… fun.

Isn’t fun the point? I feel fun is the point.

Which I realized this month, while sifting and sorting papers as well as columns and rows on a certain spreadsheet, ‘Highlights of DK’. I found out something else, too. VERY little of interest (to me) was produced during the years that… guess what? I was in school of working for someone. Isn’t that… something? You do the things that move you when you don’t have to worry about showing up for someone else’s thing. I am looking forward to seeing what DB makes, moving forwards, after he wrote to me about this idea… about daring to try things, outside of those boxes of work and work-related side gigs. It’s hard. It’s good, though. It’s not as hard as it seems. But me saying that doesn’t make people go and do things. Retirement does. Or getting sick. Or losing someone. It’s very… ah. Reactive.


Where this is going…

THIS BRINGS me back to where we started, today. With intention setting. I used to put something here, when I was younger, about how you should sign up for our ___ whatever thing, and get to know yourself, and be more clear about where you are going. But you know what? I can’t make anyone do that. I don’t even care, really, about that, now. The people I care about are the people who are resonating with this idea of N+1, and moving forwards, and they know already that they have to set an intention, first. Who am I to say so? Me? I’m just writing because this was a big month, here at DK. We came up with a new tool, too. Life hacking. I know, here it is, the thing you should get, or whatever. But no. I’ll not tell you about it. The people who will be interested, they will find out, on their own. That is the magical and weird and a little bit awkward thing about internet. Everybody knows; you don’t have to say it. If I’m talking to you, and only you know that, then I’ll see you. See you there… See you in the up. —AS



Writing and hiding and autocorrecting in S P A C E

TURNING ATTENTION BACK TO THE CLOUD, in recent days. The ‘N’ in Hanoi was too, too fun. I want to take a nice long break from making more events, outside of the ‘Secret Event’ series here in Phnom Penh, that is. (More on our fb. I’m sure there are some links there now*.)

What I am having to do, in order to get to a place of feeling somewhat finished, somewhat like I have an idea of where the next series of S P A C E is going to go, is to sit quietly and be alone for long, huge, oceanswide stretches of time. Which will explain the hideout, here in Toul Kork. A place where I have only two or three particular outlets to go to in order to find the quiet room to go into the headspace that, you know, you need to if you are a writer-type, or a publisher of the big wide vast and uncomfortably probing question-asking that happens, in S P A C E. But so? I love it. I don’t care if no one is really going to be there, to read it. Because writing is the journey, a new kind of journey. And I am writing so much, so very much. Publishing things. So that, you know, my mother can read them. Ha ha.

*I don’t handle the FB here since I’m a terrible Luddite and don’t now how to post things, or make them sound interesting to read, or make you want to click to find this blog. This blog, however, I can manage. I like writing here, to you. I’m writing a lot, lately, in fact, with the others who are part of a group collaborative experiential project we call ‘A New Kind of Journey.’ The four-week orientation is ending next Monday, then we are moving forwards with whomever is ready to ‘N+1’ it with us in the next thing, ‘The Village.’ Find out more about these when you subscribe to Jas Plac’s free S P A C E.

Such a good group, conversing and connecting, and we are talking about some incredibly, ah, big topics. How quickly we can ramp up to the personal and large-scale, the big-picture kind of philosophical stuff that has nothing to do with what is going to happen on Friday or Saturday night (blech), nor the kind of thinking that has only to do with finan$ial engagements, which, when you really think about them, are a bit dry, aren’t they, as subject matters? I have to say when it’s time to close a contract I am terribly tired. It’s a fact.

Probably why I don’t do that side of the work here at DK anymore. I just was really, really bad at it. Leave it to the people who are terribly gifted at relationship management, and let me keep this blog as ranty as I like. Heck, it’s even funner, this way. I have no idea if I have to meet someone tomorrow who will be determining if DK is a ‘fit’ for them. I don’t even care, to be honest. I am happy writing away into the online forums, and also, at the subscription edition of S P A C E. Really good stuff is happening, this month. I can feel it. We have a new sequence underway, and an old one is getting packaged now as I compose it, properly fold it into a digital PDF that I can send to the subscribers, and newly subscribing. So that people can get a sense of what this stuff is, this ‘real enough to feel’ kind of motion that is imperative if I am, in any way, to show you that I am dead serious about this stuff. Publishing, in S P A C E.

Take, for example, Figure 1. Just immediately below, yes. Here:

Figure 1. Unfortunately the word processor is set to ‘French’. This book is in English. So of course it thinks everything is misspelled. C’est la vie, yo. C’est LA VE. Interestingly, ‘C’est’ autocorrects to ‘Chest’. Hmmmmm.


Figure 2. Which isn’t referred to anywhere. But wow. Look at this. I have been working in the spreadsheet, lately. I have been categorizing, cataloguing, and dumping whole bunches of things. In fact, I got so excited about the ‘figuring it out’ thing that I almost designed another eWorkshop about how to life hack. But then, AM said that was getting in over my head. That I should focus on writing and publishing and editing. And hiding out, to get that done. So I am.





MORE TO SHARE, especially if you are in the online circles. Curious about what’s happening? Learn more, after the jump. Meantime, I have to go. I think this couple that just came in (who are from my native country, and therefore extremely loud) are on some kind of work-one-upping conversation slash tindr date. Time to go.


The basics (and a compass)

REALIGNING WITH THE TEAM, here at DK World Headquarters in Phnom Penh. In Cambodia, where there is a slight breeze and the soft sound of humming constructions and light traffic. Traffic… that’s a given in PP, sure, so I’m not going to complain, especially with the influx of cars. Very popular. Cars.

But this week, where we are now, traffic is light. This is not the center of town. How many places have we lived here now? There was the nail salon (which closed, since), then the co-living thing where I just wanted a quiet room and a door that closed good and tight, then the villa (shared), then the embassy apartments and their gardens, plants and cat(s), then… a little break from all that… and now here. Apartment living. Far from the center of town.

That will mean less appointment-making for yours truly and more writing, here in the space of internet conversations that, soon, I hope, will be going into very intriguing directions. Starting in… three days. The compass thing, that will come up there.