Five books I recommend because they’re profound

Don’t worry, no spoilers. H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald “Hunting makes you animal, but the death of an animal makes you human.” Helen Macdonald has written poetry before and it shows. She writes not just about things seen, but also things felt — intuitive thoughts and feelings we all have. Yet she is […]

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Shoe Dog review

I expected a business book but this is so much more. And it’s surprising, right away from the first page. Phil Knight writes well, and it’s obvious a lot of time has been put into the story of Blue Ribbon and Nike. There are the narratives of financing the company, the legal cases, and the […]

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Once again, the Chinese people show their resourcefulness

“We must prepare for the possibility that we cannot give offline-classes for several months.” 24th January, Chinese New Year’s eve. We had worked out several scenarios at GoEast, ranging from asking students to wash their hands and checking their temperature, to actually closing the campuses — which seemed extreme at that time. But we prepared […]

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The Day of the Locust Review

Here’s one of those classic books which I start reading slowly, letting in all its beautiful prose. But as the book fails to accelerate, my reading of it does, anxious to get this act on, eager to get it done. And so, as with other classics, the second half doesn’t get the patience the first […]

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Learning Mandarin isn’t spiritual in itself

Learning Mandarin is often described as something deeply cultural or spiritual. Yes, it’s interesting that the character for home/family (家) originates from a pig underneath a roof, because livestock used to be in every home, or that 目 (eye) coupled the water radical becomes 泪 (tear). But it’s pure trivia, just as interesting as that […]

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Stateless in Shanghai review

‘Stateless in Shanghai’ is a very detailed description of a mundane life in extraordinary times. And I’m glad Liliane Willens doesn’t try to add any grandness to the story, as the situation doesn’t need it. Willens describes her growing up in Shanghai’s International Settlement in the 1930s & 40s, as a child in a wealthy […]

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Timberland Project Better

At KesselsKramer I worked with Timberland for the global rollout of a new slip-on shoe, which was named Project Better. KesselsKramer was involved right from the start when the prototype wasn’t finished yet, and was involved with everything from naming to concept testing with consumer research across multiple countries. Project Better: Striking in its simplicity, […]

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Goblins & Howard Roark

As a teenager, I loved both The Hobbit and The Fountainhead. But while I never confused Tolkien’s Middle Earth with reality, I did so with Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. Perhaps it’s because I’d never held Bilbo’s cowardliness and dislike of travel in such high esteem anyway, but more likely it’s because The Fountainhead — a […]

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Hate flows downwards

The simplified narrative often goes like “Younger generations have trouble buying houses because they spend money on coffee”, instead of “… because salaries haven’t kept up with housing prices”. Too often, ordinary people are being guilt-tripped by *facts* like that you need 7600 liters of water to make one pair of jeans — or that […]

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