tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:/posts Grind & Love the Process 2018-03-27T01:58:41Z Pedro Sttau tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/1243755 2018-03-27T01:56:54Z 2018-03-27T01:58:41Z Lessons from the Falcon Heavy Test Flight

It was so wonderful listening to the cheers of the SpaceX staff as you watch one of the largest rockets ever created by Mankind leave the platform racing up to the sky. Watching the those massive rockets lad simultaneously felt unreal, I had to rewatch it a few times to make sure this was not CGI.

While the technological feat was a marvel to see, the Human aspect of this launch was what stood out to me. I think only someone who has had hands on experience creating something will understand what it feels like to see your work rewarded that way. 

What you are listening to is not the sound of hype, its not fluff or superficial cheering, its pride, relief and a deep sense of collective accomplishment. 

Some Lessons learned from how SpaceX managed this launch:

  • Failure is not just part of success, but an essential path to success,
  • Tempering expectations is a good thing, 
  • Full transparency is always rewarded in the long run,
  • Its impossible to disguise the genuinity of a truly engaged team,

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/1264377 2018-03-23T09:46:05Z 2018-03-23T09:46:05Z Mark Zuckerberg - Vulnerability and Honesty as signs of growth

I just watched Mark Zuckerberg's interview following the Cambridge Analytica data incident and it really struck me how much he has grown as a Leader. 

The growth I am referring to has nothing to do with the external facing confidence that comes from great success and a boosted ego, its internal facing, truthful, vulnerable and honest. 

I don't like Facebook, I don't use it, I don't like what it stands for and I don't like the principles behind the product. It was fascinating to see that as its Founder matures, his vision of what the product should stand for appears to be changing as well. 

During the interview he mentioned that he felt that having the greatest positive impact across the word was the most important thing to him, this translated in the way the product was built. 

I am hoping that as his view of what having a positive impact in the World changes, so will the product and what it stands for.

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/1260137 2018-03-22T09:04:00Z 2018-03-22T11:36:02Z Your poison is your secret

Today as I was listening to Gary Vaynerchuk's daily vlog (highly recommend),  I heard him say something that really resonated with me in different levels, something that has been a theme  in my past past and that is currently affecting a very important person in my life. This post is dedicated to her and everyone else going through similar circumstances. 

Everyone has or has had secrets in their lives, what we often fail to understand is how debilitating they can be to us, how destructive and toxic they become to ourselves and everyone around us. 

A secret is an underlying idea that if something is known we will no longer be worthy of respect, friendship or love. It grows like a cancer; the longer it remains buried and unchallenged the more it will contaminate everything around it like a virus that is constantly multiplying, unchallenged.

It devours any positive feeling it finds on its way, with  its unstoppable merciless drive it will reduce hope and dreams to ashes. 

Whatever is hidden will always influence what is in the light, until its also darkness. This cycle will never end until we realise the very simple fact that life is too short to live in shame and worried about judgement. 

Most of what we hide are mistakes, things we have done in the past, things that we believe are not in line with who we want to be, so we bury them, pretend they did not happen, lie about them. 

I have done this myself, it nearly destroyed me, it stopped any progress I was making in my professional life, created havoc in my personal relationships because it perpetuated a state that I felt trapped in, an emotional trap that dictated the way I thought and created limitations in mind, mental blockers telling me that whatever mistakes I did were perpetual and would prevent me from ever being successful, it planted this idea in my mind that I would never be happy, that I did not deserve happiness. 

If anyone ever found out or knew who you really were, your life would be over.

In the end, it the above was nearly true, but not because of what others thought of me or my shame, but because of what I ultimately condemned myself, of what I reduced myself too.

If you are facing something like this, I have a few words of advice for you:

  • Face whatever mistakes you have done head on, write them in a piece of paper, 
  • Surface your mistakes, make them known, to yourself and others,
  • Forgive: If your mistake affected other peoples lives, seek forgiveness, but don't expect it. Not everyone has forgiveness in their hearts, remember that this is not a problem for you to solve. Forgive yourself, after having faced the consequences of your actions, its time to seek forgiveness from the most important person of all: yourself. 
  • Learn: Make sure you have learned from whatever brought you to this place. Make sure you understand the root of the problem, most of the time the mistakes we are deeply ashamed about are only symptoms of something deeper underlying, this is what needs to be learned, faced resolved, 
  • Move on: Yes, move on. This means.. literally.. move on! It is no longer your reality.
Someones opinion of you does not need to become your reality.

Les Brown

Life is short, you are going to die, soon, never forget it, live your life, be the best you can be, there is nowhere to hide from yourself.

p.s. people care a lot less about your mistakes than you think, in fact most people don't really care too much about anything at all, trust me on this. 

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/1263775 2018-03-21T07:32:41Z 2018-03-21T07:41:06Z iCarasia.com: More than a Make-over

iCarasia.com just got a make-over. Actually, its more than a make-over, we have changed the way we operate, the way we see ourselves and the value we give to our customers. 

One of the key changes we have done is the addition of our products section. While in the past we focused a lot in the services that we provide, now we have added a set of technological solutions that we provide to our customers. 

We have put out heart and soul into these products, they were built with a pure intention of making things better: We want to make it easer to buy and sell cars in the industries we are in. We want to do this by providing trust, transparency, good prices and a world class user experience. 

Yes, revenue is important to us but this is not what drove us to build these products. Revenue is a consequence of a strategy that is based on a pure intention to make things better.

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/1262972 2018-03-21T06:32:36Z 2018-03-21T06:33:11Z Its my fault

A few days ago a very talented member of my staff reached out to me in a very disconcerted way saying that she made a big mistake that could impact a very important ongoing project. 

She chose to place emphasis on the fact that the mistake was hers and hers alone. She also made a deliberate decision not to point fingers at her team, external circumstances or anything beyond herself. 

The truth was that I was pushing for a very tight deadline, and mistakes are inevitable. In fact if we are not making mistakes it probably means we re not pushing hard enough.

What I heard from my staff:

  • I am aware of the mistake,
  • I have taken ownership of it,
  • I know what to do to fix it,
  • I am already fixing it,
  • I have learned from it.

The outcome: A few hours later the error was fixed and the innovative product she and her team had been working on was launched to the market successfully. 

Check it out here: https://icardata.icarasia.com

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/1241712 2018-03-12T04:03:22Z 2018-03-12T04:03:51Z Monday Focus: Drive over Talent

A question I often get asked by recruiters and professionals is what are the most important traits I look for in candidates.

Independently on what the role is, basic technical competency is imperative. If a candidate is applying for an engineering role, the candidate must be an actual engineer, he or she needs to be able to demonstrate the experience stated in the resume seamlessly without any preparation or brief beforehand. 

Beyond this, to me, the most important thing comes down to the drive and how badly the candidate wants to succeed and contribute in his or her role. This is where I feel the market is severely lacking, there is not necessarily a shortage in talent in IT, there is however a severe shortage in people with the type of drive and desire to contribute that is needed to breed long term sustainable success in an organisation. 

Wanting to do a good job and willing to put in the hard work to achieve collective success is the single most important trait a candidate can have.

Ultimately this factor is what separates a great team member from someone who relies and usually holds on to something they have that is meaningless when not shared: Talent holds no value when not applied to collective goals. 

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/1257062 2018-03-05T08:12:19Z 2018-03-05T08:12:49Z Monday Focus: Not all Managers are Leaders
There is a big difference between a Manager and a Leader. 

A Manager focuses on moving people around to achieve a goal. It focuses on capacity management, resource distribution. A manager is pragmatic but very often bound and constricted by pragmatism, by a budget, by what an spreed sheet says it is possible to achieve. 

A Leader goes going beyond what is theoretically possible because he focused on potential, his mind is in executing a vision not in the limitation of what he has to work with. 

Leading is about moving an idea from point A to point B taking the best out of everyone to achieve a common goal. 

Good Management is always channeled through a leader, its is apolitical, it has a very clear underlying vision, and an objective strategy to deliver it. 

People that are being led properly feel they can overcome obstacles and can go beyond themselves, they are working for something that is greater than their own self interests. 

Nobody really wants a boss, but most people will agree that having inspirational leadership that is grounded and guided by a clear vision is a valuable asset to have.

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/1099324 2018-03-05T02:25:37Z 2018-03-13T02:53:48Z Being Technology Agnostic as a CIO

One of the biggest mistakes I have done in my career is falling on the tech bandwagon and making decisions based on what I thought the inherent value of a specific technology was. 

The raw truth is that technology is nothing but a vehicle to get somewhere. Sometimes throughout your journey you will need to take a bumpy old dirt road while other times you can take a brand new highway to get to where you need to go, in both cases they usually point towards the same direction. 

Many organisations never fulfil the full potential of the technology they already have purely because they are not ready from a cultural or operational stand point to execute. In most cases technology is not the problem, its just a distraction. 

I remember when running my digital agency when quoting for a project, most of the work and cost would fall into back-office development, very rarely the customer experience would be the main priority, as if the technology was always more important than the outcome it is supposed to generate. 

Things I ask myself when becoming too excited about any technology:

  • Whats the skill set gap and ask myself how long would it take and how much would it cost to change technology?
  • Does the technology have a proven record, any success cases?
  • If something goes wrong, do I or my team have anywhere to go?
  • Is there any documentation? Is it kept up to date?
  • Whats the effort if I chose to move away from it?
  • Is there a simpler way to achieve the same outcome?

Fundamentally every technology that is considered to be cutting edge today will be seen as legacy tomorrow. As CIO, technology, no matter how sexy it may appear to be is the last thing on my mind when creating a product strategy for my business.

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/1250660 2018-02-22T06:28:09Z 2018-02-22T06:29:47Z Unbuzzing AI and Machine Learning

I really dislike buzz words and the way they are leveraged by some people as a tool for self promotion. 

Lets face it, most companies are not truly working in Artificial Intelligence, at best they are implementing an interface on top of existing platform that has been developed by other companies (there is absolutely nothing wrong with this). At worse they are working on AI creating a platform from scratch, and as exciting as this sounds, unless significant fire power is thrown at the initiative, its not likely to end well. 

Innovation does not always come from reinventing the wheel, sometimes small iterations with existing frameworks and ideas can create a significant impact in whichever ecosystem you operate in.

At iCarAsia we decided to use TensorFlow as a machine learning platform interfaced by another tool developed by Google to be used as the front facing interface. Is there a risk of us putting all eggs in one basket and risking looking control over our tech? Maybe. In the grand scheme of things does it matter? No!

The reality is that the benefits of executing this and pushing the benefits to our customers in a shorter time span, coupled with the massive learning gathered from exposing the product to our customers completely outweighs the risks. 

An AI project is only cool if it actually does something useful, if it helps people by enhancing an experience. We did not look at AI as a technological problem, it was seen as a  potential way to enrich and improve the way car buyers and sellers connect. 

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/1250637 2018-02-21T04:07:14Z 2018-02-21T04:10:00Z FutureTech Kuala Lumpur

I'm going to be speaking about iCarAsia's experience implementing our AI based Chatbot at the FutureTech event in May. Feel free to drop me an email or reach out to me by LinkedIn if you are interested in attending.

Event details Below:

If you want to make sure I am not going to bore you to death, have a look at some of my previous speaking engagements below.

https://ieondemand.com/search?main_search=pedro+sttau

https://youtu.be/uf7nS8_C1ro


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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/1243053 2018-02-05T07:59:37Z 2018-02-06T07:31:51Z Monday Focus: Fake positivity

There is this trend in the tech industry of forcing and fabricating positivity as if it were a magic potion that would suddenly make everything alright. I find that disguising of faking emotions is one of the most toxic and ineffective things a Human being can do. 

Its okay to have a bad day, its okay not to use the term "awesome" when things are difficult, its okay to feel failure and let it sink in temporarily.

In the workplace, not fully accepting bad moments and failure is counter productive as it is a form of inaction by itself. Success and improvement are an inevitable result of countless tentatives and failures, they are not supposed to feel good, joyful or cool. Bad days are supposed to feel bad, failure is designed to feel that way so that we want to take action and get away from that place as fast as possible. 

 

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/1240084 2018-01-30T03:28:29Z 2018-03-12T03:42:24Z Self Awareness is precious

Today I was just speaking to someone that mentioned to me how difficult it was to continued doing the same mistakes over and over again at work and how this was impeding growth. Suddenly I realised that this person did not realise she had one of the most important instruments to personal growth: Self awareness. 

In my view, self awareness is the ability to pragmatically see our mistakes for what they are, they are not permanent limitations that we need to live with, a mistake creates a temporary state of imbalance that also creates an opportunity for self reflection and improvement. 

If we allow others see their mistakes as an opportunity not a stain or a defect, we will give them space to change and become better. 

By treating others with this level of kindness and patience, maybe we will start treating ourselves the same way and become better people and professionals in the process. 

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/1167592 2017-06-26T07:03:50Z 2018-01-12T22:11:08Z The Value of a Long life

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a video of Bernie Sanders campaign that really touched me during the elections, as I rewatched it  a thought occurred to me; Bernie Sanders is 75 years old, he has lead long life of activism, consistently standing by things he believed in never shying away from a battle no matter how hard it was.

So at a time when convention expected him to sooth down, he ran for the toughest job on earth, and nearly won! 

When I look at the way society sees the contribution of our senior citizens, I realise that we have a huge problem that is only likely to get worse as the life expectancy becomes longer. Its a widespread cultural problem that will inevitably lead to an almost greater economical disaster if things don't change.

This idea that the value a person can contribute as they become older declines is so confusing to me when experience it is essentially the most valuable trait in a professional. This line of thought defies logic, especially in industries like the one I operate in where for some reason youth is over hyped and experience is no longer seen as cool.

Here are two wonderful examples of a life with purpose that will probably make you fear old age a lot less.


Experience cannot be bought nor faked, at iCarAsia we value and welcome experience, if your a senior techie, we hire and value people like you.
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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/649148 2017-04-20T07:18:53Z 2017-05-19T05:30:55Z The unglamorous volatile nature of work

I always find it interesting how market demand for a specific job in a particular time influences the perception of how good a job really is. In the late in the 80's, before the World realised how twisted and fragile the financial market was, a job in Finance had a very different social connotation than it does today. 

As things evolved and people became more aware of how toxic that industry was and perception changed. Suddenly working as a broker in an investment firm was no longer viewed as something that was positive to society, over time this has not changed much and it is still common to hear that It takes a "especial kind of person" to be in Finance. 

Whether this is true or not is besides the point, what is interesting to me is how external circumstantial factors have the potential to impact and influence the perception of how valuable, respectful, or even worthy a profession is. We see this effect wide spread in every industry today. The evolution of software engineering as a profession is no exception. 

Currently, there is a high demand for software engineers, this is mostly driven by microeconomics; supply and demand, there is scarcity of a skill-set that the market requires that raises the value of the job resulting in a shift in the social perception of that profession. 

As with most things, this will change, and perhaps the moment will come when artificial intelligence is able to create mathematical paradigms without Human Intervention. If (when) that happens, the creative aspect of being an IT engineer will progressively subside and be replaced by a more "supportive" function, filling the gaps of the few things machines are not able to do independently. 

Creativity meets repetition

While this future is not too far ahead, we are not quite there yet, but more and more we are living in a time where the symbioses between Technology and Humanity is making one or the other indistinguishable, the need for an underlying "invisible" technological layer that is able to support the next generation of Human Beings is creating a high demand on Human brain power, there has never been a  better time to be an IT engineer. 

It is not that the profession has dramatically changed, but external circumstances certainly made a dramatic effect on what being an Engineer is all about and how valuable the profession is to Society. 

This is perhaps best illustrated by the perception of how much creative work is done by a software engineer, I will try and stay away from dwelling too much on the concept of creativity itself, as it is a highly subjective and debatable, so let's assume that in this context creative work is the process and the ability to creating things with little or no restraint and/or obstacles that are not directly related to the process of creation itself. 

Breaking Down Creativity

There is an image imprinted in our minds of an engineer sipping coffee from a cup in a trendy "cafe" changing the faith of an entire industry from his laptop. While it is not completely infeasible that this could ever happen, the reality is that as with most professions there is a certain conventional labour that makes up for most of the work done by a software engineer. 

It can start with the restrains imposed by a coding frame-work, to a set of conventional rules, tests and protocols that need to be followed in order to create something. More often than not, it is a tedious process that is more acquainted with the labour of a factory worker than the creative work of an artist. 

My Grandfather was a writer and I can still recall my Mother mentioning how he dreaded the process of writing, it took an tremendous amount of discipline and will power to get through the creative process. It is not a spontaneous feverish process born our of passion, creative work is a result of careful planning backed-up by a very clear vision and the means to deliver it. 

Creative thoughts lead to plans that may or not happen in the future, only actions are able to create things, getting the creative process from a thought to reality takes rigorous labour and structure, this is where great ideas come to die and where entrepreneurs tend to fail.

Software Engineers have the potential to create great things, but assuming that it happens overnight in an eureka moment is not realistic. I used to believe in sporadic moments of genius and brilliance until I came across Daniel KahnemanThinking, Fast and Slow publication. (also available in Audible)

Conditional Autonomy

And then there is the autonomy, the painful reality is that, the luxury of deciding on the end to end scope of a project is only possible when someone has no stakeholders to respond to, perhaps in the very early stages of a Start-up when there is no board or Angel Investors. 

The false perception that a person can determine its own destiny working for someone else creates a big problem; i.e. a wave of talented self-driven engineers are put in root of collision with a corporate industry that is not willing to be dictated to, in the end, the result is usually frustrating mess where expectations fail to meet reality from both ends. 

Now the problem is not the absence of autonomy, the main issue is around what autonomy really means in the real world. As with most areas in life, it usually means that unless funding is not a problem, the person that gets to sign the check is the person that makes the final call, this may seem as logical at first, but in the mind of a young passionate engineer or entrepreneur this usually comes as a shock. 

Great ideas need a spark to start but they also need money to run, and this is where a conditioned autonomy takes over. 

Fixing education

This of course has a much wider impact, as it will change the decisions students will make as they go through the education system creating a chain effect further down the line that leads to discrepancies between the talent available at any given time and what the market is demanding, purely because we are basing career decisions on perception and by present circumstances steered by a fragile and volatile market. 

So the speed in which things change know-days demands for a better predictability model in place to help understand what are the skills that the market will need in the future.

A good solution would be to focus on the foundations of learning and accept right from the start the reality that the market is always going to change and that education should be about giving the structure and the tools to embrace change, not fight against it.

This does not mean that we should ignore specific talents and desires of a particular individual, but it does put in question a tendency for an overly specialisation at an early age. Assuming that a teenager has enough data and experience to decide the career before having ever had an exposure to it on the first place is not logical. 

The bigger the impact of this investment is the less likely the student will be to change its major even if there is a realisation that it was a poor choice or that there may another opportunity that brings more advantages long term. 

We need to refocus on the basic foundations that enable flexible growth. The ability of a person to change career at 40 years old needs to be something that not only is possible but supported academically, accepting and embracing change is a principle that needs to be set in students early on as opposed to committing to a single discipline for 4-5 years and finding out that in the Word has changed.

Adaptability and the ability to learn and process information is the new discipline. I am not proposing we should turn everyone into the "jack of all traits", but specialization too early on without "learning how to learn" is not the right way to go. 

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/1147721 2017-04-20T05:41:17Z 2017-04-21T10:27:55Z Shared Risk Management

I wrote this post over 4 years ago while working for Laterooms. The idea was to publish it in Laterooms engineering blog but for some reason or another it never happened. The intention was to document the way we managed risk in an Agile environment and how the technique we describe and experimented with impacted delivery.

Problem Statement 

Our team was finding a great number of unmitigated issues mid-sprint that had not surfaced during sprint planning, not because the planning sessions were not being rigorous, but because risks were not being identified and mitigated ahead of time.

We needed to get a better understanding of what types of issues and to what degree they were affecting our progress. Up until this point, as a Product Owner I had owned our RAID, logging all of the risks and issues, qualifying them for impact and trying my best to mitigating them to the best of my abilities.

The more we got entrenched into Scrum, the more I realised this was an agile anti-pattern, no individual person is able to identify and mitigate a wide range of potential risks that affect a product team. Identifying and mitigating issues had to be made a collective goal, shared and owned by the entire team.

Qualifying Risks and issues

The first step was to make sure all of the risks and issues affecting the team were logged, by collaborating with the team, using our Systems Context diagram to map out all of the different systems surrounding the team we quickly realised that we had a lot more risks that we initially thought.

We now needed a way to qualify the risk and issues, so we decided to use a common scale that would allow us to overlap risks and issues with velocity, providing the a full picture of how RAID impacts the teams progress.

Improved Visibility

Our Risks and issues board is visible to the team at all times, we booked in a weekly stand up where the entire team goes through the risks inventory and assess the impact and probability of each risk.

When Risk Management becomes a shared activity, it is owned by the team and becomes part of the organic process. Teams get used to looking at the information radiator and begin to use it as an indicator of what is ahead.

We use our risk board similarly to what the Dashboard of an airplane, our dashboard gives us a visibility of any potential risks ahead of our journey giving us time and space to make informed decisions on what to avoid any potential obstacles/dangers that lie ahead.

We then surfaced the risk board in a burn down chart where X is the effort required to mitigate the risks, y is the estimated loss should the risk convert into an issue. The key objective is to use this tool to prevent risks from becoming issues that would inevitably hurt delivery. 

Observation

Unsurprisingly, shared risk management clearly showed that we have a lot more issues impacting progress than we thought. Most issues have dependencies that have been identified, since we now know ahead of time are, and how they impact velocity, we now know what areas we need to focus on.

Benefits

  • Made all of the issues impacting the teams progress visible,

  • Surfaced risks that would have gone unnoticed,

  • Able impact of issues and unmitigated risks on Velocity,

  • Highlighted recurring areas where dependencies emerge,

  • Improved sprint Planning – Less unknowns,

  • Increased the efficiency of the mitigation of risks as they are identified when the probabilities still low. 


I highly recommend that you checkout the Laterooms engineering blog, particularly if you are interested in the implementation of Elastic Search
For further reading Elastic, the iCarAsia Engineering team has a great series of posts that cover how use Elastic Search to improve our consumer experience.
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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/933134 2015-11-13T09:59:30Z 2015-11-13T10:00:31Z Portent

Portent - Short Film Teaser from Phil Arntz on Vimeo.

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/900916 2015-09-03T12:36:42Z 2015-09-03T12:36:42Z One Civilisation & One Species

It has been a long time since I have written anything worth while reading, but as I stare at a picture of a young little boy who's beautiful lifeless body washed up by the shores of Turkey I can't help it but feel a sense of despair and unbearable impotence. I have a son, just like him, he looks just like him, he dresses just like him, both loved, both with their entire lives ahead of them. 

They are the same

This can't be it for us as a civilisation, this needs to be turning point where we fundamentally realise that nations and countries are nothing but made up imaginary boundaries made by a pre-historic civilisation that fails to understand that evolution is not about technological progress but about the ability to destroy all things that make what should be one into many. 

Progress is understanding that what makes us different from one another is what makes us so similar. There should be no religion or country or boarder that makes any Human Being feel unwelcome in his own planet.

I feel such uncontrollable grief and sadness that needs to lead to something. 

I live in a Muslim country. I'm not Muslim, the friendships and bonds I have created with many people I have met and that have welcomed me into their country irrespective of our differences has made me a better person. The more I learn about the local culture the richer I am. 

How much richer would Europe and the World be if they did the same?

Action needs to be taken. 

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/686070 2014-05-11T02:11:02Z 2014-05-11T02:59:57Z Good old paper

I think old age may finally be starting to take over me; little by little all my digital gadgetry is having to live side by side with paper notebooks, magazines, post-its, sketch-books. My decision to go "full-scale" digital was made consciously last year, mostly driven by convenience and efficiency. It seemed so logical, as cloud computing took over with its wide range of fully synchronized productivity tools it did not seem efficient to keep using paper, so I progressively moved into digital and started using Google Keep for all of my notes, Google Draw for diagrams and sketches, all my magazine subscriptions moved to on-line, the only thing I did not do is give up books,  actual books, not that nonsense fakery you download into a Kindle device. 

A couple of months into the change  I started noticing that my ability to retain information seemed to be getting impacted by the fact that my mind had its own way of interacting with data on a digital device. It is as if my brain labels anything that is digital as something that is either temporary or unnecessary to retain and it makes sense if you think about it; the sheer volume of information coming in from a smart phone warrants some sort of an organic filtering, and not just for efficiency purposes it is also part of a defence mechanism, a logical consequence of the self preservation nature of our brains that do anything possible to retain energy and spend it only when strictly necessary. 

When I write something on paper it somewhat materializes whatever I am doing into something palpable and therefore real, my eyes can see it, I can touch it, it is materially present. Its curious that even in my profession I see the same pattern where there is an ever so present need to materialize the intangible; for those of you familiar with scrum, the sight of post-its being moved and posted on walls by teams of people is quite a familiar sight. 

There is definitely something to be said about being able to get a hold of something is actually there, moving it around, writing on it or passing it over to someone else, one of my team members used to say that as he moved a ticket from "In progress" to "Done", there was a sense of accomplishment very difficult to obtain on a digital device where everything is transitory by design. 

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/686337 2014-05-04T14:06:54Z 2015-05-17T03:58:56Z The convention of time

Ever since I was a boy I have been interested in the concept of time. One of my favourite artists has always been Salvador Dali, I used to spend a long tie looking at the distorted clocks of "The Persistence of Memory" as if they were melting from the blazing heat of the desolated desert. Later as I understood Dali was portraying the effect of the passage of time in a dream state, where time is present in somewhat of a liquid form, without a definable shape form or structure.

Today I came across a fascinating lecture by one of my favourite philosophers Alan Watts  exploring the artificial social institution that is time and the way it impacts our lives. 



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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/643467 2014-05-01T13:46:53Z 2014-08-30T07:49:13Z Google+ does not understand context

Google Plus is a beautiful product, it was built exactly the way it should have, fully integrated with all of the other Google tools, effortless in removing all barriers from users to connect and share content, a logic approach from a logical company that does not do anything out of pure chance. 

In Google’s ideal world everything is interconnected, all systems are intertwined aware of one another very much like a living organism where separate parts of the system work together with the same end goal, the problem is that the principle behind the product is based on the assumption that Humans beings value convenience and utility equally on all aspects of life, after-all it worked for search, mail, and mapping, why wouldn't it work for social?

Human Interaction is not as linear as it may seem. Context is important. Once a user goes into Facebook he/she switches off work mode and the context changes completely, users are surrounded by people they know and care about (well most of the time) in an environment that does not resemble anything that can be connected to work.  

This is precisely where things turn sour for Google Plus as it is not recognizing that context affects the way users interact with a system, and so the biggest strength of the product, its close integration with all the Google ecosystem, becomes its biggest weakness. Work and leisure may be all part of who I am, it is important for me that a boundary between both parts of my life to exist.

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/680960 2014-04-27T10:32:10Z 2014-05-01T04:24:45Z Django is not Python

I have noticed an interesting phenomenon of young software developers that start learning a specific coding language from a Framework rather than mastering the language on the first place, to me, it's almost like knowing how to cook a recipe without having tried the ingredients first; it all goes well if the process is seemingless, but the moment there is an exception things can turn sour very quickly. 

Currently Django is my Framework of choice. Not only does it use Python, but despite all of its flaws it does a fantastic job in maintaining some of the principles that make Python so great (i.e. DRY) while speeding up the development process by adding structure: MVC, great DB handling and design. "The Web Framework for perfectionists with deadlines"

The problem is that convenience can be a dangerous thing; as with most Frameworks it is very easy to get lost in abstraction of all that magic that happens under the hood. It is terribly addictive, when I am developing on Django I don't really feel like I am coding at all, it feels like  operating a factory line joining parts together, by the time I a done its difficult to know/remember how I got there. 

For example Classes in Django have very little resemblance to Python Classes. From a configuration perspective, it is far from ideal, but if a developer is not fully versed on Python before dwelling in the "Merlin World" of Django, looking a the way that Django converts strings into objects for example may look like an act of Magic. 

Django is a fantastic tool used by Python developers to speed up the development process, I do not recommend it as a starting point to anyone wanting to learn Python. 

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/649481 2014-04-22T12:44:09Z 2014-04-27T15:37:51Z Mediacity Timelapse

This was the last Time-Lapse I shot while living in the UK, all of the footage was shot in Media City, most of it from my balcony overseeing the BBC Studio Complex. It was shot for about 3 months as it is somewhat challenging finding decent weather up in the North. All of the footage was taken with the Canon 550D with various lenses, from a wide angle lenses to my personal favourite the Canon 24-105 mm EF f/4L IS USM.

Moonlight Breeze from Pedro Sttau on Vimeo.

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/679782 2014-04-21T15:09:46Z 2014-04-23T02:42:45Z Kepler 186f

A clear sign that I am terribly behind on my usual readings is that I only came across the latest publication Kepler 186 today. As a reference point, Kepker 186f is the first planet with a radius similar to earth ever been discovered in a habitable zone. That is to say that the distance between the planet and the star that it is orbiting puts it in an area that could theoretically sustain life. It's worthwhile notinh that the concept of of life needs t be put in context to the environment that we are observing. 

"Being in the habitable zone does not mean we know this planet is habitable. The temperature on the planet is strongly dependent on what kind of atmosphere the planet has," Thomas Barclay

While Kepker 186f is close enough to its star to make it possible to have water in liquid form, nothing is really known about the atmosphere or composition of the planet at this point. This is a major milestone, not so much because of the discovery of the plant itself, but for what it means; It proves that planets of similar size to Earth in habitable zones exist, and considering Kepker is orbiting an M dwarf, the likelihood of other planets orbiting similar stars in habitable zones is very high. 

"M dwarfs are the most numerous stars," said Quintana. "The first signs of other life in the galaxy may well come from planets orbiting an M dwarf."


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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/679390 2014-04-20T14:23:51Z 2014-05-02T13:09:40Z The melody of long lasting organizations

Today I came across a fascinating talk by Keith Yamashita on what great visionary leaders and CEO's have in common, how they use their power to envision what does not yet exist, and how they create the culture for their organisations to succeed and endure. Keih worked along side some of the most prominent leaders in the Valley; during the early days at NeXT with Steve Jobs helping to materialize Steve's ideas and Vision, and later alongside Mark Zuckeberg on Facebook. 

It was so interesting to get the perspective of someone that was there as these leaders were making critical decisions that would affect the outcome of an entire industry. Keith has this special demeanor that makes it possible for him to connect with an audience at a personal level making his talk so captivating.

The process leaders use to set-up an organization to deliver a vision always captivated me. I like the idea that the Culture of a company sets the tone from which everything else emerges, creating this self-sustained organism that outlasts its creator. Keith made this brilliant analogy between a melody created by Tchaikovsky - The Nutcracker Suite first premièred in 1892, and its later reinterpretation by Duke Ellington in 1960. While the composition technically is different, there is a consistency to the tone of the melody that resonates the same tone as the original composition. "A Strong Character and well-defined essence can remain true even if their expressions change over time" Keith Yamashita 

All of this reminded me of a this really great talk that I listened to about what it means to build a long lasting company, and how setting the right cultural tone can make a huge difference further down the line. Recently I have had the pleasure of seeing this first hand in the organization I work for, the impact of having inspiring leadership in place is remarkable.

It is curious to me that Apple is often given as an example of a company with a very strong culture, however it does seem very much like the company's culture is still reliant on Steve Job's charisma and has not yet been able to move forward despite Tim Cook's efforts. One of the traits of long lasting companies is that the culture that was set by the founders tends to act as an independent organism that sets the environment for the organization to thrive.

I am not entirely sure this is the case for Apple, the fact that Steve Jobs felt the need to leave a product development plan for the next generation of products  lead by a leader that he meticulously chose is not very comforting. In an organization with a strong prevalent culture, the organism should be able to take care of itself. 

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/649150 2014-04-19T16:18:16Z 2014-05-02T13:09:43Z Candileer Overlooking Singapore

I can't believe how long it's been since I have added new photos to my portfolio. Last week I took my old Canon 550D for a ride and decided to take one of my favourite lenses of all time, the little plastic all purpose - 50mm canon L Lens

There is something so raw and slick about this lens, its fast, lightweight, but it outputs a real clear and nice image. Half way through my walk I regretted not having brought a wider lens, but it would not have done me much good without a full frame sensor behind it. 

I only managed to take a couple of shots, but had lots of fun with the old Rebel 550D, what a fantastic camera!

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/647922 2014-01-30T02:25:35Z 2014-04-18T11:59:09Z The Reunion

Since I have moved to Singapore I have been falling in love with the Asian culture again. Interestingly, while I lived  most of my youth in Asia,  I may have been too young to appreciate the subtleties of life, because this experience has been so much more fulling and rewarding. 

Singaporeans truly understand what living should be all about, and while it is true that they work extremely hard, perhaps even more so than in most European countries, there is also joy, a lot of joy. Locals seem to have this distinct ability to appreciate the small things in life, I see this everywhere around me, from enjoying a simple meal with friends to just appreciating a walk around the beautiful City, whatever they chose to do, they seem to be in the moment making the best of it.

There is also friendship, honesty and family values . In Singapore, people still believe in all of these things, and one can't help it but wonder whether the reason why the city has flourished the way it has is really down to it being a business haven, or that the people that make Singapore what it is created an environment for any seed that is planted to grow and flourish.The more I am exposed to Singaporean culture, the more I believe the later is the true reason why Singapore is so special. 

I was talking with my friend Clarence Lin about what the Chinese New Year, and he sent me this video that explained that the Reunion meant for Singaporeans. There is something so genuine and and moving about this video that I could not resist sharing with you, it truly resonates the way I see Singapore and how magical it is. "kung hei fat choy"! 

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/599439 2013-09-06T06:30:17Z 2014-05-02T13:10:02Z Fletcher Moss Botanical Garden park

Very short video of what it felt like living in Didsbury. I had this material to process for ages, it was never meant to become a short visual film, but going though some of the shots, it felt wrong not to share them. Also, as I was going though the source footage with my editor, everything started coming together rather nicely. I feel the end result is a very good representation of how wonderful and magical Didsbury is. 

Blissfull Didsbury from Pedro Sttau on Vimeo.

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/596537 2013-09-05T13:40:07Z 2014-04-18T11:59:20Z The Bliss of Didsbury

A year and a half ago, I had the pleasure of living in one of the most beautiful places I have ever been in. Didsbury is a pitoresc village/small city part of Lancashire, about 5 miles away from the City Centre of Manchester. There is a blissful harmony that is difficult to explain surrounding Didsbury. It does not have the downsides of a of city, but has everything that modern life has to offer; shops, restaurants, parks, hospitals and schools. 

The entire area is surrounded by nature, giving it a sense of serenity and tranquillity that stretches deep down from the parks to the main road. Of all the wonderful places Didsbury has to offer, the one that probably marked me the most was the Fletcher Moss Botanical Garden park. Natural parks around the UK are renowned for their beauty and how well they are preserved, but this one is something else. 

A perfect balance between Man's craftsmanship and what happens when it is aligned to preserve and protect nature. I will never forget my long walks in the park after work, feeling that cold smooth breeze in my face while looking at a crispy golden sunset in the background.

I really regret not having taken my camera out more often, but I had just moved to the UK and had too much going on. I still managed to get the camera out of the bag in a few afternoons, and below is the result. 

Click to download/view this photo. 

The above shot was taken deep inside the Fletcher Moss, a solitary carving in a tree facing the sun rise, almost as it was carved intentionally in that place, with the initials facing the sun rise, letting the sun smoothly strike the back of the tree during sun-down. The photo is slightly over exposed, but that's exactly how it felt when I was shooting it. 

Click to download/view this photo. 

This shot was taken right at the entrance of the Park, entering from Parrs Wood Road, probably my favourite shot of all of them, not just because it was a gorgeous sunset, but because it was taken instinctively; camera in full manual, almost got the exposure right on the first click, barely thinking about settings, that's how photography is supposed to be, instinctive, raw and visceral! It turned out slightly underexposed, but looking at it, its exactly as it should be.

Click to download/view this photo. 

The location of this next shot is only a few meters away from the lake, a huge field that surrounds the park with tall leafy trees around it. A narrow pedestrian path circumvents this area, leaving a massive area right at the centre of the park with wild, untreated, beautiful vegetation.  

It feel as if Didsbury was not part of Greater Manchester at all, no cars or any sign of the modern World can be heard in this location, the sound of the wind going through the trees, flowers and grass is about the only thing that can be heard here. This photo is straight from the camera, no grading or editing done whatsoever. 

Click to download/view this photo. 

Unfortunately I did not do a very good job in capturing the wonderful atmosphere around this area. It was very autumnal scene with wonderful yellow leafs scattered though the floor, contrasting with the dark green vegetation around the park. A serene bench discretely placed between two trees made this irresistible to shoot. 

Speaking of benches, most of them are actually named on behalf of people who passed away, the names are carved in beautiful metal plates on the benches. I am not entirely sure if this is common practice in the UK or unique to Didsbury, but ever-time I sat in them I could not help it but feel I was in good company. 

Didsbury is truly  remarkable place, and if I ever live in Manchester again, I know exactly where I am going to be living. If you are interested in more shots from the Fletcher Moss Park, check out this post post that I published during my first couple of weeks in Didsbury

For more information about Didsbury, I suggest you visit the "Didsbury Life" site, it is a really great resource for anyone planning to move into Didsbury, it was really useful when we moved in and I still check in on once and again. You should also follow Helen on Twitter, she does an amazing job keeping Didsbury residents updated with community news and events.

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/586726 2013-07-02T05:49:23Z 2014-04-19T16:21:36Z Selling out

A couple of years ago when I first heard that Google had acquired Aardvark, it was immediately apparent, at least for me, that it would not be long until yet another start-up would be swallowed by the all mighty Matrix, stripped of its soul and purged into the oblivion!

A bit overly dramatic, but the point is, nowadays big companies do not seem to be shopping around for technology anymore. In fact, companies like Google, Twitter, Yahoo could not care less about the underlying technology of small companies.

The product itself is seen as nothing more than a showcase for the Human potential behind it, as the probability that any small enterprise can become a real threat is very slim, not because small organizations cannot triumph, but because it is increasingly more challenging for them to resist the temptation of selling out when that ever so tempting big pay check is put in front of them.  

This is part of a wider challenge in the industry.

It is ever so common to see start-ups that aim to get sold at some point, and this is by far one of the biggest threats to innovation that is plaguing entrepreneurship. Starting something with the intend to sell it further down the line diminishes the level of commitment that is required to truly move something forward.

This stales innovation as anything with the potential of creating disruption gets absorbed into a larger organization, that ultimately, is not very interested in radical change.

Most of the established successful companies made it because they were lead by founders that truly believed in what they were building, they were passionate, obsessed and resilient to anything that got in their way. Once they finally made it, they understood the power behind sustained focus, which is why these companies actively pursue and any pocket of innovation that might be rising around them.

Companies like Google know this too well, afterall, they were born out of these seeds themselves and they know that if given the right time, their most fierce competitor might be born out any of these small pockets of innovation.


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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/581505 2013-05-28T15:27:55Z 2016-10-19T10:06:50Z The Graceful and Inspiring Leadership of Matthias Schmelz

A great Man once said that kind that “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” Mark Twain, very few people I have come across in my lifetime were able to reinstate every positive teaching that I was taught as a child. Basic fundamental things like treating people as you would like to be treated, establishing trust through actions not words and giving without any intend to receive anything back. 

As we grow older all these things seem to progressively fade away as “life” takes over. The values are still present, but somehow become less important when challenged with the adversity of the day to day life. 

This is of course an excuse, an easy root, and it is fundamentally wrong. I find that strong core values are by their very nature resilient to external adversity, they withstand persecution, aggression, and even the most vile of wars

I believe that people by nature want to do the right thing, even in the darkest of times, they will follow a leader that is driven by the right cause and the right principles. People follow ideals, not people. 

Matthias resembles all of this. He understands that great Leadership is about establishing the right path for people to follow. Its not about forcing people down any specific root, but about laying the right foundations for people to “follow their bliss”. 

Matthias Schmelz always wanted to be a writer all of his life. Its very interesting to hear him talk about how his journey has lead him to his childhood dream. His story resonates other stories from truly successful and people, that set out on a journey slightly different from the destination that they hoped for, and end up exactly where they dreamed in the first place. 

I first met Matthias back in 2010 while working for a Digital Agency. Matthias was one of those clients that gave me so much more than I gave him. Being inspired by people you are doing work for and working with is very rewarding, this was without a doubt one of those cases. 

Our work relationship very quickly developed into friendship, and a couple of months later, Matthias invited me to join him with his family and friends in an amazing adventure through Baltic's enigmatic destinations on board the Wind Star Cruise ship

During this time, I had the honor of meeting some of the nicest people I have ever met in my life. Unsurprisingly, Matthias’s family was as gentle, kind and magical as Matthias. There was just something intangibly special about everyone, from his beautiful wife to his gorgeous children. 

I also had the pleasure of meeting Mathias’s Mother, and it became very easy to understand why he became the Man that he is today, there was this contagious aura of kindness and wisdom around her that deeply touched me. 

A couple of months prior to the cruise trip, I experienced the same feeling while visiting the Rainbows Headquarters in Lisbon. Seeing the way Matthias treated his employees was a breath of fresh air in a time when the relationship between employee and employer is increasingly more abrasive and less meaningful. 

As people passed by us in the elevators, hallways, and the companies canteen, they looked at Matthias with a certain reference, there was respect and admiration, but there was also inspiration and a sense of connection. This was not an imposed or mandatory reverence, it was genuine recognition and appreciation. 

It was becoming increasingly apparent to me that Matthias was one of those rare inspiring leaders that Jonathan Perks talks about that aligns all of the principles of "inspiring leadership" into his actions. 

Inspiring leaders always look for the best in people. They inspire staff to be the absolute best they can be, and they do this by aligning their actions to how they think and what they say. Inspiring leaders truly care for the people they lead. People can tell if someone genuinely cares for them, Matthias and Fernanda care about the people that work along side them, making Rainbow much more than a company, its a place that enables and empowers people to achieve their dreams. 

A couple of years have past since our wonderful voyage together through the Baltic sea, and since then, Portugal has been challenged with the biggest economical recession since the 70s. 

In a time when established companies are closing down every day, Matthias and Fernanda keep driving and pushing the company forward. To survive and flourish in times like this, it takes more than leadership, it takes inspiring Leadership. 

Matthias is a friend, but he is also a source of inspiration, to me, he resonates what a caring leader should be like and exemplifies what can be achieved when someone follows their bliss and encourages others to do the same thing.  

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Pedro Sttau