Category Archives: Lessons Learned

Tales from the classroom #006

So, I teach kids.  I teach teenagers. I also teach adults.

Now, as a teacher and instructor, I come across all types of students. Some are just assholes.

Just last week, I encountered one such student. Now, we’re talking about an adult class, where you’d expect people would be mature.

Not the one student that I had to deal with. This individual did poorly on the final test – and when I was approached and asked why the score was low, I explained the answer in detail.

This person couldn’t handle it, and started talking about other students’ scores. To be professional, I gave encouragement and stated that it’s not about comparing yourself to others; it’s comparing yourself to your own performance from before. As long as you’ve progressed, you’ve done a good job – don’t worry about the score.

This asshole didn’t care – basically this individual is someone who just overestimates their own ability by trashing other students. Totally unacceptable and unreasonable the way this asshole chose to deal with the situation after consulting with me.

It’s just another reminder: Hey, there’ll always be assholes in your classes – even adult classes where you expect people to be mature. I guess for some people, you’re not going to change their opinion even though their thinking is flawed.

It is what it is.


Food Review: Gurkha Himalayan Kitchen (Vancouver West End)

(Originally posted on my food review site, “Let’s Eat Out Once a Week.”) 

I’ve worked in several industries before, and have come across many different co-workers. One whom I’ve always respected is Valerie, someone I worked with several years back when I was her supervisor. Because we’d both moved on from that particular organization, we’d mainly kept in touch just online until recently, when we agreed to meet up once in a while as foodie buddies.


And one Saturday evening recently, Valerie and I checked out Gurkha Himalayan Kitchen on Davie Street in downtown Vancouver. Neither of us had been to Gurkha, which, according to Valerie, has been around for about two years. You can’t actually look into the restaurant when passing by to see what it’s about because it’s not on ground level and you have to walk up a flight of stairs to get to it!


It was just after 5:00 p.m. – Gurkha is open noon to 2:00 and then 5:00 to 10:00 – so it wasn’t busy yet. We were seated right away and provided with a glass of water each. The setting was nice; it was dimly-lit but bright enough to see the menu and each other. There was a candle on our table too, which is standard for restaurants. After going through the menu for a few moments, Valerie and I decided to order four appetizers to share. We chose the Taas (lamb sautéed in peppers, onions, and spices), the Lollypop Chicken, the Piro Shrimp, and Haku Momo (Tibetan-style steamed veggie dumplings). We were asked how spicy we wanted the food, and we went with “medium.”

During the wait, Valerie and I resumed our conversation. Because Gurkha is a small and cozy place, the table in front of us could probably hear what we were saying, but it was all good. It’s always fun talking to her and I was very happy to hear she’s in a wonderful career right now. These are the types of conversations I enjoy the most because we don’t engage in gossip and she talks about interesting topics (unlike certain other co-workers I’ve worked with, who know nothing except gossip and complaining and negativity). She mentioned learning something from me before that she’s applying in her current profession, which made me smile because I thought I’ve learned a lot from her too. She’s just a very upbeat, positive, and talented person that I like hanging out with. (Unfortunately, some that I’ve worked with have negative attitudes and don’t want to listen to your suggestions/feedback. Instead, they think you’re picking on them and they try to get you fired by making crazy stuff up and talking behind your back, rather than trying to communicate like responsible adults – like in a certain advertising/marketing company some time ago. But that’s another story for a different day…) And oh, we talked about how great the Eastern TV channels are and my love for The Young and the Restless. 🙂

The Taas was the first dish that was brought to our table, and it was delicious!


Some pieces of the lamb were chewy, but it was still good. I found some of the lamb being crispy too. Valerie said the rice was puffy like Rice Krispies. Incredibly, this dish was spicy too! And we’d asked for “medium,” so we were curious how spicy it would’ve been had we gone with “hot.” 🙂 Anyway, you could say the Taas was spicy crispy!

The shrimp was next, and Valerie liked it, saying it was sweet. I couldn’t disagree. It wasn’t too spicy, which was different from the lamb.


As for the Haku Momo – which are the veggie dumplings – they were another winner. They came with two authentic sauces and Valerie liked them both. I also found the dumplings to be spicy! There were five apiece for us.


And finally, the Lollypop Chicken, which were marinated with ginger garlic and spices, and then pan-fried over their special house sauce… There were six pieces, so three apiece. This dish was another winner, with Valerie commenting that it was like great finger/street food. We also thought that the spiciness level was unique for each dish, which was fantastic.


With the great food and wonderful conversation, we both agreed Gurkha was a terrific choice. By the end of our meal, the place was packed and there were people waiting to be seated. My, it’s definitely a popular place!

Valerie suggested getting soup if we were to return in the future – certainly something interesting to check out for sure.


When: Saturday, February 28, 2015
What: 4 appetizers – Taas, Piro Shrimp, Lollypop Chicken, Haku Momo
Where: Gurkha Himalayan Kitchen, 1141 Davie Street, Vancouver, BC, V6E 1N2
How Much: C$9.00, C$9.00, C$8.00, C$12.00 (C$24.00 each after taxes and tips)
Final Thoughts: Wonderful place for dinner and conversation. They do take reservations, and on weekends are open 12:00-2:00 p.m. and 5:00-10:00 p.m. From Tuesdays through Fridays, the hours are 11:30 a.m.-2:00 p.m. and 5:00-10:00 p.m., and they’re closed on Mondays.


Ever heard of “BackTube”? Now you have…

I was recently asked on a Q&A community site what was one cool thing that I knew that perhaps not so many others did. I responded with the following about an app called “backtube,” which, as of right now, still isn’t talked about online. I mean, you can’t find anything about it when you Google it!

I want to play YouTube playlists on my iPhone but I find that when I close the YouTube app, the playlists stop playing. So, I downloaded a free app called “BackTube” from the App Store on my phone, and it allows me to play YouTube playlists without me having to leave my screen on YouTube.

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Therefore, I can do other tasks on my phone while the playlist is going!

PS: Since I don’t know much about “BackTube” as I can’t find any information about it online, I simply create my own playlist beforehand on YouTube – with a variety of music from multiple artists – and then just search for that playlist on “BackTube” afterward, and bingo! I don’t sign into “BackTube” but just play the playlist by utilizing the “Search” function. It’s like your own CD playing as you’re doing other stuff on your phone!

Random Comment of the Day: Mark Cuban and Leadership…

On Friday early morning, as I was waking up, I heard Mark Cuban, the successful business entrepreneur, being interviewed on ESPN Radio. He said that he has many businesses but also employs people to manage them, so what he does is he has certain days during the week where he goes over reports from each of those people in meetings.

The key thing he said was that he asks people to tell him the bad news first, because he always expects good news so if he knows the bad news right away, he knows how to help each person resolve the issue. THAT is a brilliant concept given by a highly successful, highly respected business leader on leadership. These are the types of things that one can truly learn from – listening to a leader speak. Unfortunately, from personal experience, I get the impression that many managers would tell their staff not to bother them with bad news and just figure out the solutions on their own.

Just as unfortunate is that in our daily lives, we hear nonsensical things that do not help us improve, things like shoes and fashion and clothing and relationships and babies and cars and accessories and gossip and random comments. Thus, I conclude that one probably learns more from studying a rock than listening to daily conversations as you learn nothing from the latter but you might understand things by studying nature and gathering your thoughts. Otherwise, try to listen up and pay attention when business leaders are speaking (especially when you are listening to them for free), and then apply them in your life.

While this has nothing to do with my professional life, I am happy to know that in my personal life, I do what Mark Cuban does because I always encourage my peers to talk to me about what’s wrong so I can help them. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of intelligent people like Cuban out there.

Life: Avoid negative people…

It’s important in life to surround yourself with mentors who could help you, while at the same time, offer assistance and guidance to those that seem to need it. It’s about give and take in life.

It’s equally important to not spend so much time with those that are negative and have no ambition in life, or people that just don’t want to talk to you, because these folks just suck the positive energy out of you.

There’s an acquaintance that I have who recently told me that she wished we could talk more regularly like we had in the past. I think what happened was I found that we had very little in common in terms of interests and hobbies, and we gradually stopped talking. However, she wanted to continue talking again. No problem. I’m always willing to make friends and help those who could learn from my experiences, so I have been doing my part recently. Just the other day, I asked this particular individual through a communication app what her goals were for 2015, hoping to have a meaningful and relevant conversation.


Now, you may not understand Chinese, so let me recap what happened in the conversation. I asked what her goals were for 2015, and her response was a very cryptic “Don’t have” or “No.” Being someone who likes to encourage people, I offered the following response: “Really?” with an emoticon. I mean, it’s possible that it was a question that was too personal, but nonetheless, I didn’t feel like it was an inappropriate question.

IMG_2388After more than 10 minutes without another response from her, I added a smiley face and then a sarcastic comment that read, “Oh, [her name] has goals but does not wish to share them with me. Okay.” I mean, again, it was meant to elicit a response. If she was busy and couldn’t reply, she could have just stated that. After all, she had wanted to resume communicating regularly again, so I was trying to do my part.

Her follow-up response was again a short answer, which read, “No goals.” Now, at this point, the average person might be put off by the lazy, short answers. If not, surely one might be put off by the fact that she seemed unenthusiastic about the new year and really has no goals. I mean, that’s kind of a major turn-off if you think about it. Either she does not want to communicate and put no effort into typing, or she has no ambitions in life (!!!!!) even though many people are excited about New Year’s, or both.

Now, I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, and I casually replied, “Oh. It seems you don’t like to write much these days. Okay, then no problem.”

Then this was what happened:


This time, she replied right away, with a much longer sentence, but not a friendly one. The response was, “If that’s what you want to say, so be it.”

Wow. What a response. Clearly, she was having a bad day (?!) or she was being hostile for some reason. Whatever the case, I decided to drop it, and wrote, “Okay. [Her name] does not wish to say anything further. All right. I will not bother you now.”

That was the end of the conversation, and she did not write anything further.

Now, a few things:

1. Yes, I am more fluent in English and I prefer conversing in this language. However, this acquaintance is more comfortable using Chinese, which I have no problem with because I can read Chinese as well and type it too. So, it’s not an issue with language. If she could not express her goals or thoughts in English, she could have typed in Chinese and I would have understood her. Since we’d talked many times before, she knew about my fluency in Chinese.

2. If she didn’t have time to chat with me at that time, she could have said so instead of typing those short answers, which, to be perfectly honest, shows how lazy a person is – or worse, that person does not want to make the effort to properly communicate with you. Short answers like that, like “No” or “No goals” without any other details, are just huge turn-offs.

3. If that question about goals for 2015 was inappropriate and the person genuinely wants to talk to me as she’d indicated previously, then she should have suggested discussing a different topic.

4. Really, the way that the person wrote her responses…it just makes her look rude and uneducated. If she was having a bad day and did not wish to chat at that moment, she could have just said so. If there was any issue, then just talk about it so we could work through them, or if there was anything I could do to help, just say so. But being rude is not acceptable.

There are no excuses for this person’s behaviour. Having to deal with this on a consistent basis is simply meaningless. Here I am, trying to encourage this individual by getting her excited about the new year and positive goals, and her answers just suck the energy out of you. It’s like this person really has no goals or enthusiasm. No sense to spend that much time talking to such people. People that give attitude without any reason are simply not worth the time, because in life you want to strive to improve all the time and talking to someone who has no interest in that only serves to drag you down and onto their level.

Avoid these types of people – cut them out of your life if possible – and focus on communicating with those who are more positive and have more to contribute to a meaningful discussion.