Category: bio

crazy read: crazytown

I started reading Crazytown: The Rob Ford Story on my flight to Vegas and finished reading it before I left pool side on Friday. I really enjoyed the book. There isn’t really any spoilers because you’d have to be living under a rock, particularly if you live in Toronto to not know at least the very basics of the Rob Ford story.

I thought Doolittle did a great job however of going one step further than what we saw in the media by writing the story behind the story. She covers how she learned about the video and Rob Ford’s connection. It was interesting to see how the story becomes a piece of journalism, something I’m sure most people never considered. I would never have guessed that those stories were timed specifically, I would think that once the facts are straight (or as straight as possible), the story gets out there. It was also fascinating to see how “Ford Nation” developed. It gave insight into the community and the politics of Etobicoke and Toronto as a whole. I also thought Doolittle did a good job of giving some extra details for non-Toronto readers. Most readers would know the geography of the city and some of the events written about but she covers them in a bit of detail without being too monotonous. I would recommend this book for anyone who is into politics or into the scandals, it was definitely a great read. I read the updated version, that has more details than the original release but is before the most recent election. It was also interesting to read it knowing how some of the stories turned out for each of the politicians.

another read

I’ve read another book…the Kobo mini does such a great job of making it easy to read on the go. Even if it’s just a few minutes waiting for someone, that time is spent more efficiently.

My latest read was also a short one, “I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced”, at around a hundred pages, this is a pretty quick read. It was a very interesting story of a 10 year old girl forced into an arranged marriage in Yemen. I had just read “I am Malala” so it was a little difficult not to compare the two. I found this book to be less about the details and history of the country and more about her personal experiences. Her story is quite remarkable from the marriage to her resolve to get a divorce, I think this book is great at giving light to a story that is not often told. The book is excellently written and I’d recommend it for a quick read.

following your dream: building a food truck from the ground up

If you’re one of Allen Tan’s almost 4,500 followers on Twitter, you know he is honest, has a great sense of humour and makes some delicious looking rice balls. He is the founder of Me.N.U and his engaging Twitter feed is fun and follows the journey of Allen building a food truck business, with no experience. His social media presence is great, so I had to find out more. 

What has been the best experience to date?
Allen: The best experience has been learning what it takes to start a food business. It’s funny to say this because while in school I felt I was learning but it wasn’t exciting because I wasn’t “applying myself”. At my previous jobs I didn’t feel as though I was adding any value to the company. Now starting my own business – more energy in = more reward out.
Now I am learning everything it takes from the bottom up to start a food truck – marketing, menu development, operations, suppliers, execution, branding, sales, customer service. The more I learn and the more I apply I get to feel and see the reward. I have had the pleasure to learn from many food owners around the world what it takes to start a business. Now in the present, its one of the most exciting times to date. I can actively see myself getting closer to my vision of “success”.

What has been the biggest challenge in developing your truck?
Allen: The biggest challenge have been developing the recipes and processes for the food business. Without that research and development there would be no product to sell. You have to make sure that there is Value added while charging a price that generates a reasonable profit. Learning all of recipies and suppliers and know how took several weeks of practice. It came with a lot of highs and lows, a lot of mistakes but in the end each day we were getting better. 
Currently, we have not priced out how much a food truck would cost – we are trying to develop our brand awareness before be take the next step. I believe that we should develop an audience and engage them before we make the big investment of owning a food truck. Why invest in a food truck and start from scratch when you can have an audience waiting for your food truck to launch?

Me.N.U founder – Allen Tan

What is something surprising you learned since you started your food truck journey?
Allen: I had the pleasure to job shadowed one food truck owner in Toronto name Fidel Gastro and I got to experience “A day in a life” with him. I didn’t know how hard food truck owners worked and he definitely showed me how hard running a food business could be. We started work at 6 am and didn’t end till 10 pm. We did prep, running around, set up, tear down, cleaning, catering, you name it we did it! It was a good look into my future, it definitely  showed me how hard I would have to work in the future and how many things I still needed to learn. Throughout the day he instilled good habits that I would forever keep in my mind.

Your twitter and tumblr are very honest about your lack of experience and some of your mistakes – do you think this has fueled your success?
Allen: I think I have tried to do something very different then other food truck owners. I have started with no experience and my goal is to show others how to take an idea and turn it into a business. I have documented all my success and failures to share with everyone. I want to be very transparent with my business to share my journey and experience with anyone who is willing to listen. 

I have read a lot of entrepreneur books and business books and they give you insight about things you need to know but the never really show you a step by step guide into how to do it. I am on a journey of SHOWING people how to start a food truck the RIGHT way. 

What advice would you give new grads who have the same feelings you did about a 9-5?
Allen: Read books about business, passion and entrepreneurship. These books will give you a new perspective on how to break away from the social norm. They will show you there is more to life then a steady pay cheque and always being comfortable. Someone quoted, the three worst things in life are heroin, carbohydrates and a monthly pay cheque. 

Turn off your TV and start investing time into something that will get you ahead in life. Self education is a huge part of my daily routine and once your studying for yourself and not for a piece of paper, you will see the world in a new light. 

What’s the next step for ME.N.U?
Allen: My business partner and I are heading back to South East Asia where I learnt how to cook, however this time we are going to try to do Global food pop ups in Asia. We hope to create a story that no one has ever heard or seen in Toronto. After we get back we hope to buy a food truck and start selling to the masses of Toronto! 

Can’t talk about your food without finding out, what’s been your favourite creation so far?
Allen: So far we have only sold one product, Fried Rice balls. There are a couple of recipes that are in research and development but I can’t release my secrets that are going to come in the near future. 

Me.N.U Fried Rice Balls

I want to thank Allen for taking the time to speak with me so candidly. His enthusiasm is truly infectious. Be sure to follow him on Twitter to find out where you can get your next fried rice balls.

jobs: the movie

I checked out the steve jobs movie tonight in what appeared to be a sold out theatre.

Ashton Kutcher did a good job of playing the infamous jobs. There was some continuity issues with jobs’ mannerism but it was still well done. The story focused more on the development of the company than jobs’ life. I found the ending lacked an ending. The soundtrack was absolutely fantastic, it really made the movie. It was an interesting story, and interesting to see Ashton Kutcher in a more serious role.