Innovation & Creativity · Papers · Publisher's Diary

New S P A C E

Greetings and salutations from World HQ of Design Kompany, the Southeast Asia edition. Based in Cambodia and Vietnam for nine years, I have been morphing my projects towards things that, I feel, are more important and interesting (to me) in this moment, in this place. I have sketched out our Autumn 2022 calendar here.

It goes into more of the details of the plan for this year, here in Phnom Penh. Business and art intersect at innovation. Let’s explore it. Let’s really talk it out, and not in a corny, buzzy-wordy way. I’ve got 20 years of experience to draw from in journalism, entrepreneurship, and architecture marketing. This helps. I don’t use social media; I believe in simplicity. I don’t have a smartphone. I like low-key, small-scale publishing that’s about people and connecting us. I love high-quality conversation, and professional networking where people matter more than sales. If you know what I mean.

Thanks for asking, too, about how long this has been going, DE. I have been working on S P A C E quietly for six years. The issue pictured on the top of this pile is Issue #170. The shop has the best highlights that I’ve curated. But at the time of this writing, here is the latest one:

Shop >



‘How can I read S P A C E?’

You can download single issues in our shop.

To get fresh issues sent by email every Tuesday at 7AMUSEST, become a member. Sign up for membership at this page.


‘Who is this for?’

People who can focus for 20+ minutes without getting distracted by a ping notification. Seriously, that’s my audience.


‘Can I publish with S P A C E?’

Maybe. It starts with us building a relationship with you since we now know that is how it works in Southeast Asia. Meet many times. See if we’re a fit. That can take six months to a year, now that it has been obvious what kind of timeline is realistic. I want it to be a good mutual fit.

To get started, reach out. Ask me something. Email is the way to do that. Here is a link to the contact page.


‘Can you write about my business?’

Yes. Maybe.  This is how it would work for a Business Profile feature: writing your business profile in English.


‘How can I help you sustain this?’

Tell people about S P A C E. Thanks. Feel free to share this page.

Make a donation, or sign up for our programs in real life at Atelier S P A C E Phnom Penh, at the crowdfunding page. Here is a link.

100 Conversations · Desk Notes · Innovation & Creativity · Strange Geometries

Leadership and innovation: what does it take?

I’m going to narrow the scope of my reply to this question, Leadership and innovation: what does it take? to the realm that I know best. B2B operations. Small scale and low-key, not with bajillions of parts moving all the time which is a completely different mob of questions that will come up, from the original one.

As a trained engineer, I like to break things down into units that we can take on, one by one. Calculate the way towards the solution. As a designer, I like to focus really tightly on that massive question, ‘What is the problem we want to solve?’ Okay. So when you know that, you can get going taking steps to find out.

Now. The answer to what does it take on the part of leadership is not who is the __est, fill in the blank, as you like. It’s what question are we trying to solve, here, and who wants to be ready to ask that question? I think a lot of people in business leadership positions want to pretend like they know already (or that you shouldn’t be asking such petty things). I mean. You see it. Allllll the time. But what does that get you?


Never moving past Step 1 looks like this

It gets you to Step 1. And not anywhere near 1034, which is where you really want to be, for true breakthroughs. Innovations can’t happen if people aren’t allowed to move around and play a lot. And then you fall, tinker, manage to figure out something else, and boom, step by step by step by … you see what I mean…. and then you make something truly interesting. But. A lot of people don’t want to go past Step 1.

They think it’s nuts, maybe, that anyone would ask, ‘Okay, but what other problems might we ask about? What else is there? Can we look around a bit?’ Maybe take a week to think it over. Take two weeks. Wow. Who has that kind of time, some people say.

I know who. The people who have what it takes.

What are you doing to move the ball past the beginning of the football field? How are you creating a culture of innovation that will allow people to dream big, like really big, and get to the moon and back? I mean. Why not. Ask this, anyway, if you start to get some magic tinkling feelings that have stirred up something you have not thought of in a long time, then we’re on our way to somewhere. That matters.

Stuck at the beginning stage? It’s common. Get unstuck when you work with me, here at Design Kompany. We will go through the brand strategy process. We will think it out, together. Some testimonials are here. B2B, small scale, let’s go.

S P A C E publishes weekly. Membership information is at


Image source: MIT

'S' is for Sincerity · Innovation & Creativity

Growth mindset: This is where psychology meets design

Setting out to interview and network with new people in Cambodia when I came back, last year, I realized a handful of key points.

I must have met a half-dozen CEOs, and about as many managing directors. These were people in industries that tie up with what I do here. Media, design, digital marketing, and architecture. I love these areas. I’ve had jobs in them in different parts of the world and have enjoyed adapting process related to design and experimentation, based on this kind of burst of asking questions of people who would have things to say. Sometimes I learn a lot, just by making the effort to reach out, and ask.

The major point is this.

To be shared in S P A C E. Membership info is here.

A Philosophy of the Moment · Innovation & Creativity

When is a ‘winning mindset’ a hindrance to success? When you are in Asia, in certain places, at times

When I was in Vietnam for 20 months, ‘stuck’ due to circumstances arising from the March 2020 closures due to covid (what else, right?), I had this very naeive idea. I’m laughing, thinking back to my 2020 self.

Like, really. Did I not even have a clue about how it really is, in Vietnam, and how it works, here?

No. I had zero idea.

About ‘saving face’, for example. Or the giant fear of failure.

These are the posts I wrote while I was there, in case you are curious. Much experimentation in expression. I had time.

No, me being me, stuck in a new place and not unfamiliar with this (I had been to Finland for 12 weeks in 2018 alone, and Latvia for 10 in 2019, and many, many other journeys to 27 countries over just as many years), and so, I was thinking, ‘Okay. Where is the opportunity here? What are the things I can learn?’

Making a go of setting up Design Kompany in Saigon: major fail. Learning Vietnamese and becoming versed in smalltalk with neighbors: yes. Which is also learning. Which is also beautiful. And engaging, and research-y, in the sense that I got better at something I had no clue about at all, or even intended to try. But stuck in Vietnam without Vietnamese is like being a fish on an island without coconuts. Now, what the hell does that mean? There. That’s the feeling.

Overconfidently and lacking in cultural agility, I had believed I could find my way the way I always do, in the style of agile steps towards the uncertain, feeling one’s way towards the ‘new, near, now and next.’ I know it is hard to believe this, for many who may be reading this in Southeast Asia, where I have recently reopened Design Kompany, but, honestly, I did a lot of practicing on this exact topic, practicing uncertainty was an entire year’s journey, through the countries of Thailand, India, Nepal, and resulting in the situation that led to Cambodia becoming ‘base.’

Before Vietnam, I wasn’t really trying to make anything happen here. I closed DK to focus on writing my own stories and hosting eWorkshops from 2014-2022. But this trying, to make DK happen, in reality, was hit with so many bricks. Insecurity. Misogyny. Female patriarchy, Asian patriarchy and so on. Are real things. These are of course existent everywhere, but, yeah. You see more when you’re on your own, moving through the world solo. Fear of failure was the major one, though, when it came to crushing my energy and motivation for doing ‘DK for real!, in Saigon.’ No way in hell can I ever do that. Here is why.

In an article called, What’s an “Asian Mindset”? , the authors of a blog for entrepreneurs that is based in Malaysia say:

“Asian Mindset” refers to fear of failure which is more often than not prevalent among Asian communities. Asians are raised to value hard work as it is a common belief that hard work beats everything. However, this work ethic produces perfectionist entrepreneurs with a ‘winning mindset” where they often end up making safe decisions mostly based on thorough and detailed calculations in order to ensure success. This perfectionism leads many Asian entrepreneurs to fall in the fiery pit of fear for failures, thus preventing them from taking bigger risks and taking attempts to overcome major hurdles… Other than that, “Asian Mindset” as an obstacle in scaling a business is further churned by Asian culture where failure is condemned and shamed rather than being seen as a learning process.



Phnom Penh city Cambodia at Sunrise