Hong Kong

During my first visit in Hong Kong back in 2011 I really fell in love with the city. I promised myself to return there one day. This day has come!

So, Hong Kong. It is considered as the 5th most important city in the world. With so many people (7 million) and so little land it is one of most densely populated cities. Normally, while walking on a street, you can’t see even 50m in from of you, because of so many people around.

Hong is in a Alpha city! The home of rich people, successful businesses, skyscrapers, amazing food. As someone said: “In 16th century you would want to be in Europe, in 19th – in the US, and in 21st – in Asia”. Hong Kong is at par with Singapore and Tokyo, one of the most important hubs in Asia.

Rapid growth.
What strikes me most, is how fast Hong Kong became one of the world centres. Look at the photo of Hong Kong 40 years ago.

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This is how it looks now. Quite a change, isn’t it?

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Brits have definitely contributed to its growth, culture and capitalistic approach. It became a hub where the money flow from the East to West, and vice a versa.

Culture.
Hong Kong lives on its own! There is a vibrant mix of cultures – a place where east and west become one, taking the best from each culture. The city is really fast paced, which reminds me of New York (Tokyo wasn’t anything like that). If you walk slowly – you will be left behind. This logic applies to everything.

You shouldn’t be afraid of language barriers, people are kind, helpful. Moreover, signs are in English, which makes it much easier to navigate.

The two sides.
During my visit in 2011 I’ve only been to Hong Kong, which is an island. However, there is a mainland part of Hong Kong city that called Kowloon. It reminds me of the separation between western modern world (Hong Kong) and easters developing one (Kowloon).

The Hong Kong part is the most famous one. There are dozens of towers, expensive restaurant, luxury properties – this island is mainly for business people with higher income. It’s fast, focused, sharp.

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On the other shore – Kowloon. You can feel the influence of China here. It’s everywhere! Parks, people, food, markets… There are around 6 popular markets in Kowloon that are considered to be “must visit” spots for tourists! Temple market is great for buying cheap presents. It took me half a day to visit a bird market, a fish market and flowers market. Truth be told, nothing special, but you can feel the vibe of Kowloon there be talking to people, observing them and even trying some street food (I am still cautious with that, so fruits are fine).

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Attractions.
Hong Kong cannot compete for attractions with Paris or London, but there are definitely a few gems. If you are in HK for the first time I definitely recommend these places to visit:

Ocean Park.
The place where you see pandas and golden monkeys. The attractions have amazing scenery of the ocean and islands. Don’t forget to ride a crazy roller coaster with 3 loops.

Big Buddha.
It takes roughly 30 minutes on a sky-train to get to the old village, where you can find numerous souvenir shops.

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However, I recommend going straight to the Big Buddha and to the Temple. The atmosphere is amazing! You can feel the presence of enormous energy. Such a peaceful place.

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Central Hong Kong.
I personally love skyscrapers. Maybe because we don’t have them in my hometown, but I can’t get enough of them. Walking at night in central Hong Kong gives me goosebumps. You just have to be there and witness the power of those towers, to feel how powerful people can be. The opportunity to be successful could be felt in the air.

The peak.
A must visit for every tourist! This place offers legendary overview of the whole city. It is better to visit in the evening/night to see the glowing city.

Hong-Kong-Skyscrapers

Avenue of stars.
This place is very familiar to Hollywood Walk of Fame. A famous bronze statue of Bruce Lee is overlooking the Victoria Harbor. Try to pop up at 8 PM to see the famous laser show, when all the towers in HK start to glow.

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Partying.
After a walk in central Hong Kong, take your course to LKF. It is the main party scene in the city. If you like clubbing, check out Dragon Eye and Volar. It is better to know the promoters. However, if you are dressed nicely and you are white, you shouldn’t have any troubles.

Living.
After an amazing week in Hong Kong, I felt like this city is very comfortable to live in. I would definitely stay here for a few months. So I went on AirBnB to check rent prices. HOLY COW! It appears to be more expensive than London. For a decent flat with 2 bedrooms be ready to pay $4K a month. At the same time, expenses such as food and taxi are cheap.

Food.
I might be a little bit biased since I love Asian food, but I am going to tell you that food is amazing in HK. While there, you should definitely try famous dim sum and spicy noodles. The prices are affordable. We had a dim sum dinner for 3 of us in a Michelin star restaurant and we ended up paying $30 for the whole dinner. However, the places such as Above and Beyond (a great Michelin star restaurant in the ICON Hotel) will cater food at a slightly expensive rates – be ready to pay around $70 per person for a proper dinner with wine.

Verdict.
It’s a great place to visit, to live and to do business in. It’s an amazing mix of people, cultures and businesses. A must visit for every traveller.

Did I miss anything? Please let me know in comments below.

“Rate this app” is Vital for Your App Business

There has been quite a buzz around “Rate this app” topic. While you may think it is really bad for the whole industry and user experience, it is certainly good for an app.

I will give you an explicit explanation as to why I am saying this, letting the numbers speak. But first, there are two main problems:

1) People read comments.

What’s more, they make a decision whether to buy an app or not, based on ratings and reviews, especially if it is $6.99 app. Our daily sales could easily drop up to 30% whenever we launch a new version of the app that resets all the comments and ratings.

2) People who are happy with the app are not likely to leave a review.

As an example, only 40(!) people left their reviews for Scanner Pro yesterday out of 330K who downloaded it (numbers are given for the US App Store).

Solution.

Kindly ask people to spend their 30 seconds and share their experience with a product.

Scanner Pro case.

Yesterday,  our Scanner Pro was downloaded 1.150.000 times (featured by Apple as App of the Week). A very small fraction of iPhone 4S users who run iOS 7 on their devices and have low memory witnessed Scanner’s Pro crash. I’m not saying it is acceptable in any way to have 0.5% of unhappy users, but that combo of high memory usage on iOS 7 and iPhone 4S makes it almost impossible to fix the crash.

As a result, this happened. 

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20 comments out of 60, which is around 30% of all reviews on the App Store, were 1 star. However the overall app rating for all versions is 4.5 star (US numbers again).

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In other words, unhappy people spread bad news much more. I find it unfair that 0.5% of people might affect app ratings and perception heavily. This is why it is absolutely normal to kindly ask a happy user to review your app. If done right (place and time) he or she will be happy to do it.

To our users.

I want to articulate why an app needs a review from you and why we ask a you to spend 30 seconds of your time doing this. It will help other people to evaluate the app and justify the purchase. So if you see something like this in Scanner Pro, it means that we value your opinion to the extent that we want to hear from you. In many cases, objective reviews lead to great updates and improvements! So help us with reviews and comments and we will deliver a better app!

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P.S. If you rated Scanner Pro after reading this article – I love you.

How to Write an Effective New Year’s Resolution?

I do believe that a New Year’s resolution is a great thing to have. However, the majority of people end up putting up some claims or desires that they probably will never achieve. How  can we make it work?

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Having a strategy in life helps immensely. If you want to achieve something, spend some time and write down how you are going to do it. I see New Year’s resolution as a medium-term plan that helps me to stay focused on my goals.

I want to share with you a few tips on how to make an effective New Year’s Resolution, the one that you will actually stick to.

1) Business schools teach us that our goals should be S.M.A.R.T. Apply this to your New Year’s Resolution and write down your goals.

Specific.
Avoid abstract statements. “Learn Spanish” is abstract. Get B2 in Spanish is a specific goal.

Measurable.
“I want to earn more” is not measurable. Set an exact goal that can be measured.

Achievable.
It’s important to write down real goals, the ones that are possible to achieve.

Relevant.
Don’t forget about your overall strategy of life. Make your short and mid-term goals contribute to your big mission.

Time bound.
Setting a timeline is vital, it keeps your on track and pushes for a final move when needed.

So the goal should be like: “I want to achieve B2 level in Spanish by the end of April 2014”.

2) A few advices I want to give.

Travel. Throw your TV away. Drink more water. Allow yourself to get drunk sometimes. Get a full health check (ask your partner to do the same). Make a list of books to read. Start working on something that brings you joy, and money. Start learning a new language or sign up for a dancing class.

I personally love the idea of acquiring new skills! Say, sign up for courses, classes, dancing, etc for a few months, get the basics of it – move on. This will make you a well-rounded person and you will be much better at making friends.

3) Guys, read this great unofficial Goldman Sachs guide on Being a Man. There are some gems inside.

Most importantly, stay healthy and happy. Write down your goals and achieve them! We only live once!

Happy New Year everyone! Please let me know how you do it and what worked for you!

Here’s a great inspirational video for you!