Archive for October, 2011

Getting it right

Posted in learning, philosophy on October 16, 2011 by gohelpyourself

Being a loser is not a permanent state. (Photo by Michal Zacharzewski, from

By Anthony O. Alcantara

What I love about Google is that it has no fear of getting it wrong. Of the hundreds of products and services it has produced in a little more than a decade, only a handful are making money.

But boy, do they generate money. Billions and billions of dollars to fill the coffers of founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page.

Google is a fearless loser. The company is a loser because a lot of its products failed. And guess what? They loved being a loser. That’s because in the process of losing, they learned, and they eventually came up with winning products.

In a recent talk on “The Future of Communication and Collaboration,” Johan Segergren, Google’s GM for Thailand and the Philippines, revealed that employees at Google thrive on failure.

He said a lot of ideas float around Google. Naturally, many of them died. While most companies are bereft of new ideas and cling to what works, Google encourages people to come up with new ideas.

As you may know, Google still has the 20 percent rule, where employees, using 20 percent of their time at the office, experiment with their own projects and ideas. Google News was developed this way.

“It’s not the ideas,” said Segergren. “It’s the ability to execute.”

In other words, having a lot of ideas is only part of the answer to having great success. It’s having a lot of ideas that you actually execute.

And execution in Google, according to Segergren, is getting the right people to help and cooperate , finding tons of data to support the idea, and seeing what works and what doesn’t.

Google+, which is fast becoming a success, would not have been possible without the failures of Orkut and Buzz. Bradley Horowitz, Google’s VP for products, has got it right this time.

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt was once quoted as saying, “Please fail very quickly–so that you can try again.”

I guess it’s a good idea to be a failure after all. It’s good to not get it right. That way we learn. We soon discover what works.

Only by getting it wrong, will we soon get it right. Take it from a prolific loser like Google.



On Work-Life Balance

Posted in philosophy, psychology on October 6, 2011 by gohelpyourself

Work-life balance has become an illusion, much like my belief that I am a hunk. (Photo by Kriss Szkurlatowski,

By Anthony O. Alcantara

This is a conundrum to me. I don’t know how many people still believe this.

Could there be such a thing as work-life balance?

Balance implies equilibrium. It implies equal proportions, stability through even distribution of something.

So does work-life balance mean 50 percent work and 50 percent life? That means I’d have to work 12 hours a day, and spend the rest on having a good time with my family, doing my hobbies, or sunbathing at the beach with a piña colada.

Oh no! How about sleep? That’s eight hours. Where do I classify that? Under work or under life? Or both?

Tada. I present to you the perfect executive. He’s got a four-digit IQ, dresses well, and has a beautiful and loving wife and super achiever kids. But he spends at least 90 hours a week at the office because he is the president and CEO of a big company.

Does he have work-life balance? How about P-Noy? He says he doesn’t have time for his love life.

Or how about the artist who spends his time almost exclusively at his studio and rarely spends time with friends and family. And yet, he produces some of the greatest works of art in the world, and is considered a genius.

Does he have that so-called work-life balance?

It sounds silly to me. Should it be work-life combination instead? Or work-life mix? It doesn’t sound sexy, but it’s more accurate to me.

I guess the important thing is that we spend time on the things we determine are important to us.

Are you doing what’s important to you right now?


NAPA, please

Posted in food, health and fitness on October 4, 2011 by gohelpyourself

NAPA me, Lucky Me!

By Anthony O. Alcantara

I haven’t been eating grains since October last year, except for my cheat days. I’ve been following a semi-caveman diet that seems to fit me so far.

On my cheat day recently, I suddenly had a longing for Lucky Me! pancit canton. There were a few varieties I could choose from in the store at our condo. I settled on the chilimansi flavor.

It says, “NEW LOOK. Same Great Taste.” I had vivid memories of how it tasted like years ago. Another label caught my eye: “USES NATURAL GREEN TEA EXTRACT. NO ARTIFICIAL PRESERVATIVES ADDED.” In the middle of that label is “NAPA,” a convenient acronym.

“Hey buddy. This is NAPA. No artificial preservatives added. Eat this. It’s good for you.”

This is excellent, I tell myself. I felt like giving Lucky Me! a high five. So I buy two small packs, just for me. NAPA is the best.

When I got home and read the text at the back of the packaging, I learned that the product used green tea extract as a natural and healthy preservative. Nice.

It's best to read the fine print.

But when I read the list of ingredients, I discovered some artificial-sounding names: monosodium glutamate (MSG), maltodextrin, tartrazine, and sunset yellow.

Well, MSG is naturally occurring in food, but it’s not naturally occurring in pancit canton unless you add it. I guess this could pass.

Maltodextrin is a food additive produced from starch through partial hydrolysis. It is commonly used in sodas and candy. While it is easily digestible, it’s a synthesized substance.

Tartrazine is also synthetic and is used as food coloring.

Sunset yellow is used in fermented foods that must be heat treated. It’s derived from petroleum, which happens to fuel your cars, too.

So can someone please explain to me how Lucky Me! Pancit Canton Chilimansi Flavor can claim to be NAPA?

To Monde Nissin, the manufacturer of Lucky Me!, I say, “NAPA, please.” No Asinine Puffery Allowed.


A View of Bahay Pari

Posted in travel on October 2, 2011 by gohelpyourself

By Anthony O. Alcantara

Just until recently, I never thought much about the Bahay Pari. All I know is that it’s a good place for retreats. I didn’t even know where it was.

For Catholics and for the curious, I present to you a few of the photos I took during my recent visit there a few months ago. Some of the areas are restricted, so these are all I have.

The Bahay Pari was supposed to be a place for retired priests, where they can spend their final years, or days. A new place was built for that purpose, however. And Bahay Pari has become a renewal center and recreational house for priests.

This is the Bahay Pari inside the San Carlos Seminary in Guadalupe, Makati. The white car that you see here is the car from which Bishop Ted Bacani emerged. Too bad it didn’t occur to me to have my picture taken with him.

The Bahay Pari has a swimming pool and a Jacuzzi, which I’ve seen. The website says it also has a steam and a sauna bath, air-conditioned TV and audio room, and sports and gym equipment.

It also has 60 single-occupancy rooms. About half of them are air-conditioned, and the rest have electric fans. At least, all rooms have their own toilets and baths.

Isn’t this beautiful? I imagine one dive will probably bring me straight to heaven. Too bad I didn’t bring my swimming outfit.

Images of Jesus, Mary and the saints can be seen around the place. I think the room here is one of the meeting rooms or lecture rooms.

This Jacuzzi beckons. But I must control myself.

This statue of the Virgin Mary is one of the most prominent ones inside the Bahay Pari.

This exquisite painting of Mama Mary greets guests as they enter Bahay Pari.

Ahhh, the trellis. A nice spot for having coffee and a good conversation.

There are several huge bird cages in the facility. Maybe it’s because of the symbolism? There are many saints who like to be seen with birds. Saint Francis, for example.

I guess bird watching is a hobby here. These will help in the identification.

In any case, Bahay Pari is not just a quiet place for spiritual renewal and recreation. It’s a place for birds, too, and all that they symbolize.