Earlier this week I had a chance to do my first podcast appearance… Great experience! As part of the prep for it, I asked myself – what were the key differences I observed as a Product Leader in Singapore/SEA compared to Europe?
(1) Drive to create and hunger to achieve is enormous in the region. I’ve only seen anything similar in the US so far. Europe is… complacent in many ways. Why create something new if what we have is good enough?
(2) Product Management is perceived very differently. Most of the product managers I interviewed early were really project managers – often getting things done that were thought through somewhere else by someone else. Product managers often have a business counterpart – in Europe, it is PM’s job in most cases. Situation changed and evolved over time though!
(3) Excellence in craft is really high, especially among the technical people. Data Scientists, Engineers and others are often really really good in SEA. I’d dare to say significantly better. The flip side of that is they often lack interest in the customer and the business. Which makes the teamwork hard, especially if you try the Spotify model.
(4) Importance of loyalty cannot be underestimated. At work, this often trumps ideas and work done. People you hire are often afraid to say something that falls out of line, even if they know better than you. Same applies to some of the VCs too in their relationships with the founders.
(5) Differences between markets in SEA and Asia in general are much bigger than in Europe or West in general. However, the very average basic customer behaviour is strangely similar, be it in Europe or SEA.
(6) Tech workforce is significantly more diverse in the aspects of nationality and gender. First 8 members of my product team at Carousell were all from 8 different countries! Yet somehow different nationalities form their own bubbles, which makes having a singular strong culture in the company much harder.
(7) People strive for structure: career ladders, processes, tooling standardisation. A need for this manifests much earlier in the startup’s journey. In Europe, freedom is sought after a lot more. Exception here that I observed is Taiwan – levels of creativity there surprised me!
Want to learn more about this dynamic region? Schedule a Zoom call with me!
Never underestimate the power of the diversification of your skills and business.
Always try to see beyond your usual skill set, how it can be applied in different situations and can serve clients for the better.
I’ll give you an example.
My All Is Amazing brand venture. It’s a photography and videography company or as I call it - visual story telling brand. But, among the various types of photography my team and I do, I have diversified our skills to events, weddings and commercial branches. It helps me target specific clients easier, attract photographers with different skillsets and diversify business income sources.
Oh yes, here is the photo from the recent H&M campaign for South East Asia, that All Is Amazing team did in Sumba island, Indonesia. Guess under which branch of business this creative assignment goes? ;)
I graduated from Uni in 2009 in the depth of a recession with no jobs available for fresh graduates.
My options were to stay in London and keep hussling between unpaid internships 🙄 and short term gigs in service industry 🍽️, or move back to Vilnius that had even less jobs available, but at least I could live with my family.
Neither of these options seemed ideal. 20s is a beautiful period in life meant for travelling, making mistakes and learning about yourself and life, so this desolate post-crisis Europe was not the best environment for my personal growth.
At least, that's what I thought at the time. I was 22 years old with no fear of failure and plenty of naivety and stupidity. Who wasn't, right?
So I went for The Wild Card - a completely crazy option that was outside of "usual" paths. I went to South East Asia, found few freelancing jobs, eventually settled in Penang and had this amazing opportunity to co-found independent art center called Hin bus Depot.
I had nothing to lose, only gain, while going for "conservative" options would seem safe at the first glance, but in reality there was no gains for me.
It's counter intuitive, but safe options often lead nowhere.
It turned out really well for me. Plenty of new challenges, new friends, new skills and much deeper grasp of how different and how universal at the same time people are.
I would not be who I am without these 7 years in Malaysia and I am still in love with Penang.
My insight is that you always have more than two options. In fact, there are unlimited options once you start thinking outside the box. We often tend to trap ourselves with thinking that "if not this, then this".
I'm not advocating crazy risks, but rather to open mind for unusual paths that your intuition tells you to follow. 🧳
Danielius, what are three main things to keep in mind when you try to cook the best burger?
Asked by Ronaldas Buožis
Practice, practice, practice.
Practice aside I'd recommend to focus on three things:
1) Meat composition
Try grinding your own meat using different cuts of beef: shortrib, ribeye, chuck, brisket, etc. Cook the patties alone, taste the individually and try to find your sweet spot. Try different meats - mix ground and chopped salmon, turkey, pork (pork is the most underrated meat IMO), you get the idea. But the key point here is to taste the patties on their own to get the idea of their individual taste.
2) Meat cooking
Buy an immersion circulator and it will save you tons of time. However, if, for some unimaginable reason, you want to skip this step... Try cooking the patties without oil, with a splash of oil. Heck, try deep frying them. When I don't have my circulator, I cook the burgers on high, flipping every 15-20sec (this makes them cook more evenly). Again, cook the patties on their own to get the idea how they turn out. The point of this is to get the idea how your stove and cooking method relates to the final texture of the meat.
Try all the cheeses. Processed ones, hard ones, goat, sheep, mild, sharp, blue, green. Try making your own blend of cheeses (my personal favourite is provolone + gruyere, but it will be a different one for you, I promise). Also, if you really want to up your cheese game, learn to make your own processed cheese. No thank you needed.
When you have mastered all three of them (or get bored with experiments):
Try differen buns - potato rolls, pretzel buns, brioche (overrated), make your own buns!
Different sauces (for example: wasabi kewpie mayo for salmon burgers)
And only then I'd suggest you start adding condiments to your burger (be careful not to overstack your burger). Try wakame sallad (and all the others), chutneys, guac, caramelised onions, black garlic, literally anything you can think of - try it.