A letter back home

” Hi guys,

Wanted to do a quick shout out to everybody back home! Hope all is well and dandy. It’s getting much warmer in Seattle and I am dealing better with the cold. It’s no joke to be caught in the wind. Last week, it was so windy that the rain fell sideways. A first time for everything too – I walked in the snow to work last Friday! I was so excited about the snow and all the Seattleites were going, “Oh damn the snow.”

It’s been a great experience being here in the hub of all activity. I’ve had many sharing sessions and learnt so much stuff that everything is spilling out of my head. The working style and dynamics are very different from Singapore and I kind of miss the buzz, noise and activity in our shophouse. Tomorrow, I’m going to see the Microsoft campus.

Another week to go in Seattle before I see the lights in New York. Many thanks to all for holding down the fort when I’m away.

Missing everyone and sending all my happy thoughts back (heart shape x3 and <3). Please have some fish soup and sotong balls for me. ”

17 to 31 March

Seattle: 18 to 29 March 2013

So I’m in USA now, working from the Seattle office. This is such a great opportunity to be able to work from the Seattle office. Today is my second day in the office.

While I will do up a proper post soon, this is a short post on my top line observations about USA.

1. Nice and welcoming people with exceptional service: I think Americans are generally warmer and nicer as compared to Asians. When I went to a fish and chips place alone, I struck up conversation with a couple of patrons next to me and we had a mighty conversation about how some people are so ignorant about the Internet. The service staff also go to lengths to make sure that you are taken care of. When I was at AT&T trying to find a prepaid solution that suits my needs, Jose Galvez, the service staff was an absolute angel.

2. Working styles and dynamics: I think a lot of time we take our Singapore office set up for granted. After spending just merely two days here, I realise how much of a luxury it is to have everyone consolidated in one place. In the Seattle office, due to geographical boundaries, a lot of meetings take place via calls and video conferencing. Whatever happened to instantaneous responses that we are so used to?

3. Relationships vs transactions: Clients tend to be more of a “relationship” as opposed to being more transactional. I think a lot of times, clients call us for things that they need/want. We talk about building trust & relationship with our clients all the time but if client interactions are merely transactional, this trust will surely need some work. When I happen to hear client calls, they’re more like, “Oh hi, how are you? I hear that…” instead of our, “Hi XXX, just wanted to check with you on…”

4. Space and noise: The Seattle office is a lot more spread out than Singapore’s office simply because well, land is cheaper than Singapore’s. Singapore’s compact office layout facilitates more conversations as opposed to Seattle’s more spaced out layout. I can go for hours without having a conversation here which is not possible in Singapore.

5. Time: I think the Americans are a lot better with time than we are because they are more focused with meetings. Each meeting seems to come with an agenda, with each discussion point allocated an X amount of time. Also, lunch appears to be mostly brown bags at your desks. Well perhaps, people tend to bring lunch from home (as it is cheaper to cook) and also, it is more efficient to eat and work I guess. You work while you eat, you get to work on time and you get off work on time.

6. Language nuances: We follow British English which has different names for certain stuff. E.g. an elevator is a lift. Also, we say to “top up” a prepaid card and here, it is to “refill” a prepaid card. I have to remember to say “danz” class instead of dance class.

Mr Coffee man

Whenever I’m in Bangkok, I like to stay at First House because of the prime location and affordable prices. Sure, the service isn’t fantastic but since I’ll speak to the receptionist only when I check in and out, I reckon this isn’t a big deal to me.

Anyway, every morning, I’ll buy coffee from this street vendor. The way he makes coffee is quite interesting. Instead of using creamer, he has this boiling vat of milk that he dips into. Once the vat of milk is finished, he’ll be gone for the day.

Meet Mr Coffee man with his boiling vat of milk

Check out his pot of milk

Plying his trade every morning