100 tricks to appear smart in brainstorming meetings

Sarah Cooper has a book (100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings (October 4, Andrews McMeel)) coming out with 100 tricks to appear smart in meetings.

Here are some examples from the book grabbed from her post at Techcrunch.

In a brainstorming meeting, the pressure of coming up with incredible new ideas can be debilitating. Luckily, the last thing most corporations want is new ideas.

During these largely pointless exercises, the point is to contribute using the mere gravitas of your presence, make other people’s ideas seem like your ideas, and look like a true leader by questioning the efficiency of the whole process.

Here are 9 tricks to make you look like you’re the creative force on your team.

  1. Leave to get water and ask if anyone needs anything


Just before the meeting starts, get up and ask if anyone needs anything. People will think you’re so thoughtful, kind, and giving, plus you’ll be able to disappear for 10 minutes no questions asked. Even if no one wants anything, return with bottles of water, soda, and snacks.

Your colleagues will feel compelled to start drinking and snacking, and your foresight will make them think you can really predict the future.


  1. Grab a pad of sticky notes and start drawing


While the topics are being introduced, grab one of those sticky note pads and start drawing meaningless flowcharts. Your colleagues will look over at you with worried interest, wondering how you’re coming up with so many complex ideas even before you know what this meeting is for.


  1. Make an analogy that’s so simple it sounds deep


When everyone is trying to define the problem, make an analogy about baking a cake, or something just as completely unrelated. Your colleagues will nod their heads in agreement, even if they really don’t understand how what you’re saying is related to what they’re talking about. Talking completely over their heads will make you seem wildly transcendent and intimidatingly creative, even though the truth is you really just like cake.


  1. Ask if we’re asking the right questions


Nothing makes you seem smarter than when you question the questions by asking if they’re the right questions. If someone responds by asking you what you think the right questions are, say you just asked one.


Sidebar: How to strategically shoot down small ideas

Wonder if an idea seems too small so your colleagues see you as a big thinker and a gamechanger.

Use one of these phrases:

  • But how is it disruptive?
  • Is this 10x?
  • Is this the future?
  • I thought that was dead.
  • What’s the big Win?
  • But isn’t Apple doing that?


  1. Use an idiom


Using an idiom to question an idea is a subtle, smart way of questioning it. Here are some idioms to choose from:

  • Isn’t that gilding the lily?
  • Isn’t that putting lipstick on a pig?
  • Seems like we’re polishing a turd.

For the the full post, please go to her post on Techcrunch or go to her site at 100Tricks.com.

Investor to Founder Translations

Sean Percival has a funny Investor-to-Founder translation post up at his site.

Some highlights:

Investor to Founder

“We’re looking for mission-driven founders” = We expect you to work unhealthy amounts of hours on this

“When is your round closing?” = How long can I delay in giving you a commitment?

“Who else are you talking with?” = I’m going to email them right after this meeting to gossip about you

“Who else is investing in this round?” = Is anyone smarter than me sticking their neck out first?

“Oh, yes. I know them very well!” = We had lunch once

Founder to Investor

“Would be great to give you an update on the business!” = I’m looking for a bridge round

“We are doubling every month!” = Last month, we had 1 sale, and now we have 2!

“Things are going great!” = We are totally screwed


For the whole post, please head over to his site.

Food Tours

One of the most interesting things about food is how universal food and food culture is. You’ve got a topic that instantly connects anyone around the world regardless the culture, nationality and race.

Thus, instead of just solely seeing the sights on a vacation, I’ve always highly valued the food experience. Yet sometimes, some people revert to routine when they’re in their own home towns. In this case, I am also guilty of not leaving my comfort zone when it comes to food.

A while back I decided to try something new and organised these food tours for friends. I thought I’d share some of the maps and itineraries that we’ve done. In addition to this we’ve done a couple other tours in Causeway Bay that haven’t been properly mapped out.

Updated version 2018 (Jordan/Yau Ma Tei/Mongkok)
http://food5.funemployment.ca/ (Korean Fried Chicken – Causeway Bay)
If you’re in Hong Kong, glad to organise a food tour on your behalf. Just give us a shout.

How to Speak Startup

Sometimes the lingo that startup CEOs throw around can get confusing, Techcrunch has a humourous glossary to help you navigate the world of startups and Silicon Valley.

Acqui-hire – A strategy for acquiring talent pioneered by Google in the mid-2000s that happens when a bigger company thinks your team is good but your idea is hilariously bad. Also called a “signing bonus.”

Failure – A bad thing that the Silly Valley has recently put on a pedestal as something to be celebrated.

Cashflow Positive – Someone gave us a dollar.

Pivot – What happens when a company realizes its course of action is not living up to expectations. The classic historic example is The Point, which became Groupon after the company posted a coupon to a pizza place in The Point’s building in Chicago. (See also, Failure.)

SaaS — It loses money.

Pre-Money Valuation – A number you made up.

Post-Money Valuation – A number that you made up alongside your VC with the addition of some cash. Your burn rate is probably too high.”

For the full list, head on over to the article at Techcrunch.


Humans that sound like robots or robots that sound like humans

"More Human Than Human"

Blade Runner – “More Human Than Human”

Sometimes I have a hard time telling if humans that sound like robots or robots that sound like humans are running the tech support for some companies. I feel like I’m doing a Turing Test each time I engage with their tech support. Is it rude that in many instances I’ve asked if I was talking to a robot or if this was a real human?

I have to type out my questions in the most simplified, succinct and direct way to try to get my point across.  Even then, you’ll sometimes get irrelevant copy and pasted answers that don’t fully answer or address your original query. Chances are, if I’m reaching out to tech support, I’ve already tried googling a response and thus your FAQ-esque answer probably doesn’t resolve my issue (even if it matched the query your answer is addressing; which in this case isn’t my problem).

It is hard being lazy.

Band Rehearsal Rooms in Hong Kong

The Onion suggests Find The Thing You’re Most Passionate About, Then Do It On Nights And Weekends For The Rest Of Your Life. So if that passion happens to be music, you might be looking for band rehearsal rooms in Hong Kong.

Here is a list of some of the studios we’ve given a try in Hong Kong. Feel free to suggest additional studios that we’ve missed.

This list will be updated periodically.

Zuk Studio

Room 311, 3/F, Sincere House, 183 Argyle St., Mong Kok, 2395-3332, www.zuk-studio.com.

Noisy Room

Rm 02-03 20/F Cheong Tai Bldg 287-289 Reclamation Street, Mong Kok Kowloon, 2644-6664, https://www.facebook.com/noisyroomstudio

Mono Studio

Flat C, 7/F ,Edward Mansion , Prince Edward Road West Mongkok, 2395-5719, http://monostudio.talkingdrum.com.hk.

Music Land

2/F Professional Building, 19-23 Tung Lo Wan Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, 3427-8086, http://www.musicland.hk

Urban Kings Music Studio

1/F, 7 North View St., North Point, 2979-5433, www.ukms.com.hk.


External Links:



I’m Patient

Sometimes I wonder what I should do about my impatience.

One thing that really annoys me is when people walk really slowly and they end up blocking the road for everybody else. Seems like there are two speeds for most folks. People either are in a rush or “I’ve got all Day” mode. This is even more annoying when you’re trying to navigate around during a busy day or if you’re in a rush to get somewhere.

There are various categories of offenders:

Phone Junkies – The people that are too busy texting/watching some video to keep their eye on where they are walking or how fast (or rather slow) they’re walking.

Couples – Some couples insist on holding hands in a busy street and they seem to block off the whole thing with no regard for others. It’s a great way to show their affection to those of us who have some place to go.

Seniors – I guess it is rather mean to blame them when we’re all going to be subjected to the ravages of time eventually though often you feel like frogger dodging around them.

Talkers – People who are too engrossed in a conversation to notice that there are others around them trying to move past them. It is even worse when they decide to stand next to each other and block the whole road. Talk about a roadblock.

Kids – Sometimes there are young kids that seem to be in their own world. They will sometimes run into you or run in random zig zag patterns.

“Tourists” – These friends from the North have big luggages that the lug around in the streets. Sometimes they turn around and stop randomly without noticing that there are other people around them.

I reckon we could make a post about the types of people who drive I’m Hong Kong as well.