TimothyTiah.com

What Badminton has done for Malaysians…

Years ago when I was in the Philippines, my friends there told me about this magical thing that happened in the Philippines. During this particular event, the normally crowded streets of Manila would be empty, restaurants and malls will be deserted and everybody will be in front of the TV.

This event was whenever a Manny Pacquiao fight was on. The entire Philippines stopped to watch. I envied how a nation was able to come together for a common cause and I wondered when Malaysia would have its turn.

Since then I notice we’ve had plenty of these and that is when Malaysia plays in the badminton finals of the Thomas Cup and the Olympics. During the Men’s Doubles finals this year I was at a friend’s birthday party at Neway. We ate, drank and sang but all that came to a stop when the match came on. We turned off the music and instead tuned into a live feed of the badminton match.

We weren’t the only ones too. Up and down the many rooms I noticed no more singing. Everyone had traded in their mics for a seat to watch Malaysia play.

I stopped to look around for a moment. Malaysia is a country of people that are different in so many ways be it race, income levels, religion, traditions and upbringing. Yet on this one event nobody cares about the race of our badminton players, what they pray to or their status in society.  We don’t even care about what language they speak. All we care about is the flag they wear on their jerseys and we support them all the same.

Malaysians rich and poor, old and young, men and women from the cities to the kampungs unite to watch Malaysia play. In that one hour or so… we are one.

I’m thankful for that. We may not always have a lot of things going on for us as Malaysians, but we have badminton.

I pray that this tradition of badminton continues to grow and perhaps one day we will win our gold.

The way I see it… Malaysia has already won. With or without a gold medal in the Olympics.

So I tried on the phone that has one of the best cameras in the market right now…

If you’ve been following my Dayre you’d probably know that a few weeks ago I smashed the screen of my Huawei Mate 8. It’s funny how you can drop your phone hundreds of times and it’s the one time it drops at the right angle that cracks it. This time was it.

The first thing I did was messaged my friend Emma who works at Huawei and told her about the sin I had just committed. I wanted to pay for it but instead she took the Mate 8 off me and in the mean time gave me another phone to use.

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That phone is the Huawei P9. Now I’m an ambassador of the Mate 8 (you can sometimes see me in some of the ads like the one below here) but not the P9. The Huawei P9 is Shorty’s phone.

I did have a couple of weeks of the P9 until I got my Mate 8 fixed and here’s how it felt.

  1. I loved the camera

The Huawei P9’s main selling point is the camera that is engineered by Leica. Let me show you the kind of pictures you can take with it.
Here’s one that Shorty took.

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And this.

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The pretty girl in black here is Emma. My friend from Huawei.
The thing that really surprised me though wasn’t just the quality of the back camera but also the front “selfie” camera. I gotta be honest that both cameras perform really well compared to my Mate 8. Since then I’ve recommended the P9 to a number of people and they all seem to love the camera.

2. I began to appreciate the size of the phone…

When I first got it I felt uneasy with how small it was compared to my Mate 8 but I very quickly got used to it. Before long the small size became more of a plus to me and less of a minus… especially considering how my jeans seem to be skinnier and skinnier.

3) Then there’s the USB 3.0 charger head

The Huawei P9 uses a complete different charger head. It’s not the USB 2.0 that we’re all used to and has been made the standard. It’s the 3.0.

As you can imagine my first thoughts were one of annoyance. Why would you fix something that isn’t broken?

Well okay after I did some research I did realize that the 3.0 is better. It charges faster, it transfers data faster and it helps your battery go on for longer.

But the pleasant surprise to me was when I found out that my MacBook uses a USB 3.0 charger. So for the first time in my life I can charge my phone with the same charger I use to charge my laptop.

The day I got my Mate 8 back though I went back to it and put the P9 back into the box. I realize that I really really missed the P9 camera but the Mate 8 had one major selling point to me. It’s insanely long battery life.

So I went back to it.

I have in the past recommended both phones to my friends and many of them have bought and not regretted either of the Huawei. Shorty’s friends too.

It’s not often that I get to work professionally with a brand that makes products that I truly love. Huawei is one such brand.

Oh and here’s one of the Huawei ads you might see me in.

How to be a Penny

This is a guide for anyone who want to be a Penny.

  1. Your one job is to be mommy’s biggest fan

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There is nobody and nothing more important than mommy. Always look for mommy whenever you can and never steer far from here. John Lennon was wrong when he said “all you need was Love”. I’m sure what he meant to say was “all you need is mommy”.

2. Always wear something on your head

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Always

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Always

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Even when you’re at home.

3. Beauty is important

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So all time spent not chasing mommy around and sticking to her like a lemur should be spent on personal beauty.

4. Always look good

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It doesn’t matter if the man in your life dresses in polo-t , Toms and shorts all day long. ALWAYS dress better than your man. Always dress better than any man.

5. Sunnies are for anytime anywhere

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Don’t believe the naysayers who say you look silly when you wear sunnies indoors. You never do.

6. Always follow your koko

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Always do whatever koko does. If he watched iPad, watch iPad, if he sleeps, then sleep, if he eats grass, then eat grass.

7. Always help mommy with grocery shopping

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Don’t add to her burden, Get your own trolley and help mommy ship the shopping around.

8. Always know when to take a break

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After a busy busy day, never ever forget to sit back, relax and take a break. Just before you go find mommy again.

So there you have it. Now everyone can be Penny!

The day I realized I had stopped learning…

In the past couple of years I noticed something about me. I was very focused on what I needed to do at work and what I wanted to achieve that I began to see everything else as a distraction.

What kind of distractions?

You know how sometimes you get an email or a call from someone who wants to meet up with you and you’re not sure by the Googling of his company name how he is going to be able to help you with what you want to achieve. Or worse that he might just be trying to sell you something.

Or sometimes when you’re not sure if you should bother going for a business trip, or a conference, or a seminar because you can already predict what’s going to happen on the trip or what’s going to be said at the conference so you don’t see much value going.

That was me in the past few years and I carried on like that, insulating myself from all these distractions so I could focus on the task at hand.

Then one day I was reading about Warren Buffett and how he spends half his work day not working, but actually reading. Google “The 5 hour rule” and you’ll see this practice where entrepreneurs or business leaders make it a point to spend 5 hours a week learning something new.

“New” here is the keyword. Hearing something that you already knew or reinforcing your current convictions isn’t new. Instead something you never thought about or knew about.

That’s not to say I don’t read at all. On the contrary I read a lot every day. I spend a lot of time on Twitter every day reading news but I’m not sure how much being updated with news counts. Beyond that I began to realize that I wasn’t really learning much more than I already did. And if I wasn’t learning then how am I able to grow.

Just like Jim Carrey in “Yes Man” I changed my attitude. I started saying YES to more meetings and YES to more business trips and YES to more conferences. Even if I think they might be a total waste of time. I don’t (and I can’t) attend them all but I make it a point to attend at least some of them. To break out of my routine and do it.

This experience has changed me. After so many years I finally decided to make a trip to Philippines to visit our office there and our partners there (in the past our team there would fly to see us). Just this trip to the Philippines I’ve had a number of meetings that I didn’t think anything will come out of but I came out with new ways to improve our business and new perspectives.

I attended a meeting where I was effectively “pitched to” but during that meeting I also learned things and was given insights that I never knew about a different industry.

I now remembered how I was when Netccentric was just a baby, I was a hungry learner. I read about everything and talked to many people about anything. I didn’t turn down any meetings, I attended them all and more. Each of these meetings I made it a point to learn something and if there is nothing to learn then we just end the meetings early.

This experience was a reminder to me. The day we get fixated to our own convictions and close ourselves to outside learning and thoughts is the day we stop growing as entrepreneurs. The day we stop growing as entrerpeneurs is the day our businesses start dying.

So from now on I’ve decided to dedicate at least 5 hours of my week learning something be it talking to someone about something I never knew before, reading a book or researching a topic online that might interest me. I would encourage my kids to do the same too when they’re old enough.

What people used to tell me about marriage and what I found the truth to be

Today marks 4 years that I’ve been married to my dear wife Audrey Ooi Feng Ling aka Shorty. 4 years doesn’t feel that long considering we’ve been together for 7 years now but I feel so much has changed in our relationship.

Marriage, moving in together and having kids each are their own catalyst to a change in your relationship and Shorty and mine has evolved a lot in these past 7 years.

Before I got married, I used to hear a lot about how being married was like and to my surprise what I’ve experienced so far is really different. Here’s what.
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  1. You lose all your freedom when married.

This is the one thing I used to hear so much. My married friends would tell me to enjoy the freedom I had for once I got married all that will disappear. I didn’t find a big change in this department.

I mean if my freedom to go around and play single had disappeared, it disappeared not at the point of marriage but at the point I started a serious relationship with Shorty. Married or not we had a commitment and marriage was just a piece of paper that could in the first few years be annulled without too much of a trouble.

So I didn’t feel there was a huge jump here from single to marriage. Shorty and I are quite open too. Some nights she goes out and some nights I go out, although most nights you can find us both at home watching Netflix.

2. Your in-laws are going to stress you out.

The saying goes that you choose your wife but you don’t choose the family she comes with. So you’re bound to run into some conflict here and there.

I can understand how in-laws sometimes puts a strain on a marriage (and it works both ways) but in my experience I’ve found it quite manageable. I found it easier to understand when I remembered that it wasn’t just me that didn’t get to pick my wife’s family. My wife’s family too didn’t get to pick me.

I can’t predict the future neither do I want to jinx anything but I can happily say that we do get along really well now.

3. Your expenses go up

Yep this part is true. Even without kids I find that my expenses go up because I start paying for two in the household now but to be fair I was doing it even before we were married.

The good thing is that while I’m supporting four (back then it was just two) and it costs more, I happen to spend less on myself because I have less time for myself. Which brings me to the next point.

4. You have less time for yourself.

Yep. I do have less time for myself. Suddenly there is the commitment of spending time with your wife (eventually your kids), your family and your in-laws. But the truth is I don’t really feel it.  I don’t take it as less time for myself but just a different way of me spending time.

Plus it’s not like I stop doing anything for myself. I still do. Just less.

5. You’re going to wish you were single.

Not really. Well the truth is being married and having the support and company of a great wife more than makes up for the stuff my single friends can do. I won’t deny though that sometimes I do wonder what it would be like to be single again but when I do I fulfill it by hearing stories of my single friends and their adventures. It’s like I live vicariously through them.

So yeah overall… 4 years married and loving it.

Happy Anniversary Shorty!

We’re watching what’s happening to Taylor Swift now because we all know a snake in our lives…

I wouldn’t call myself a fan of Taylor Swift but I did view her really positively. I liked how she was really down-to-earth, humble, treat her friends really nice, charitable and all those things that she portrays herself as.

This past week though I saw her entire image unravel.

In case you missed it, read this for a full account.  The TLDR version is that Kanye included some offensive lyrics in a recent rap. Offensive in many ways like referring to Taylor as a bitch and saying she would still have sex with him because he made her famous.

Taylor came out on the offense when those lyrics came out and very famously during this acceptance speech at the Grammys slamming people (which everyone understood was Kanye) for taking credit for her fame and success.

Now Kanye was like wtf? He said that he asked Taylor if he could include her in the song like that and she approved it. An allegation that Taylor strongly denied.

All was going well for Taylor until Kim Kardashian posted a video on her Snapchat of a phone conversation between Kanye and Taylor. That video tore apart Taylor’s initial story.

Since then Taylor has responded by posting a note on her Instagram that she didn’t approve of him referring to her as “bitch” in the video recording (which is a fair point) but didn’t address the rest of the video.

Taylor’s friends have also come up to her defense but instead of trying to argue the point at matter they seem to be arguing that people should be talking about other more important things in the world. .

 

Like Selena Gomez who was criticized then for saying this but not saying a word about Black Lives Matter. Beyond the social media war that is going on, the interesting thing is what’s happening with the media. Many articles now cover how they (just like many of us) have been believing the fake nice image that Taylor Swift has been giving us. They started to expose all the mean things that Taylor did to many people around (including her ex Calvin Harris) and holy crap once you read them all you begin to think maybe Kanye wasn’t exaggerating when he referred to her as a “bitch”.  Many articles have covered this but here’s one. I’ve never watched Hollywood celebrity news as much as I do now. Then over a conversation with Shorty today I realized why we were so captivated by this whole story. Yes it’s juicy and all, but if we look deep inside we realize that we all each have a “snake” (to borrow a word from Kim Kardashian) in our lives.


Someone who everyone loves because they portray a really nice, kind personality on the outside but you know deep inside is manipulative, cruel and uses people around them. “Snakes” in our lives more often than not tend to get away and it infuriates us. It infuriates us that nobody can see what we can see.

So some of us are following this whole saga not just for the juice but because it gives us hope. Hope that the Taylor Swifts in our own lives will one day be exposed for who he or she really is.

To everyone who has a snake in our lives, think of Camilla Belle. To give you a background on that Camilla Belle is an actress that like Calvin Harris, Kanye, Katy Perry and more have incurred the wrath of Taylor.

Here’s a quote from the Looper article I shared above that explains this best.

In Swift’s song, “Better Than Revenge,” the singer attacks a woman who she thinks stole her boyfriend. Rumor has it the song is about actress Camilla Belle allegedly stealing Swift’s ex, JoeJonas. Swift sings, “She’s not a saint and she’s not what you think / She’s an actress / She’s better known for the things that she does / On the mattress.”

Read More: http://www.looper.com/7466/shady-side-taylor-swift/?utm_campaign=clip

Since this whole saga erupted she posted this:

“No need for revenge. Just sit back & wait. Those who hurt you will eventually screw up themselves & if you’re lucky, God will let you watch”.

Well said Camilla!

My little sister

In my many years I’ve always talked about the important people in my life. My father, my mother, my wife and now my kids. I just realized recently that the one person I haven’t really talked a lot about is my younger sister.

There are four kids in my family. My two eldest brothers who are close in age and then there’s my sister and I who share a 3 year gap in our age.

We grew up spending most of our time together. We found toys to play with together, we played computer games together and up until I turned 15, shared a room together.

This is an early picture of us from 1990.

Looking back at my record as a brother, I don’t think I was a very good one growing up.  I would hog the computer and play my games while she watched on. Then as my mom came home I would run and hide and leave her playing the game for all of the 30 seconds she would get until my mom saw her playing and scolded her for it.

I once asked her to close her eyes and led her face first into a pillar because I thought it would be funny. Turns out it was not… she went crying to mom and I got an earful… and boy just thinking about how bratty I was then makes me want to go back into the past and smack boy-Tim. If Fighter ever did anything like that to Penny I would go mental.

It’s instances like that which led to some of my regrets. That I wasn’t a better brother to my sister when we were kids. Rather than being a brother who took care of her, I was a brother who lived for himself and only played with her when I wanted to. To some extent I see a little of that in Fighter now and how he treats Penny.

Filling in my gap of not being the protective brother was my parents. Being the only girl in the family, my parents were always more protective of my sister, constantly worrying about her and whether she’ll be able to face life on the outside. What all of us never really noticed was that my sister was and is a lot stronger than we thought.

I got to know in my later years how she struggled through many personal struggles growing up but kept it all to herself and handled it. I sometimes ask myself if it’s because I wasn’t emotionally there for her enough that she was forced to be strong herself. If so then perhaps some good came out of the bad boy-Tim did.

Today my sister is a grown woman working in an advertising agency managing a team of her own. She’s totally unmaterialistic, lives a very simple life by choice and doesn’t demand for anything apart from a good glass of single malt whiskey every now and then.

She gets emotionally attached to the things she uses. She would use a mobile phone and never want to change it until it crashes and never comes to life again. Her old Honda looked like it had gone on a road trip through Syria but she refused to change it until my Dad bought her a new one.

She also has this really friendly personality that turns strangers into friends in five minutes. Once we went to a park and she disappeared for a while only to see her making friends with a group of strangers and talking about some handle bar stuff.

She also shares some similarities with my wife. She is the kind of person who won’t naturally know how to think about what to do for you but if she knows it, she will. Some sort like my wife really.  With that in mind I know that no matter what happens I know my sister will have my back.

As a more matured older brother now I’m trying to make up for lost years. Trying to be a better brother to her than I was growing up, doing as many things as I can for her. She’s also grown really close to my family, constantly making time to spend with Fighter.

Professionally too she’s doing great. I once saw her perform in a work setting and I was really impressed at how she presented an idea and how capable she was. I went home and told my parents that their little girl wasn’t a little girl anymore. The little girl in our family has grown up to be this strong woman now.

And that is the story of one of the most important people in my life.

My cure for missing the kids when I travel

I’ve been away for 5 straight days this week. In the past when I travel for work I always feel it’s no big deal. I used to be away for 2 weeks in a month on average and I’ve never felt very very homesick.

That all changed when I started having kids. Being away from the kids make me feel really homesick and it’s not just because of the fear of missing a moment in their growing up lives. It’s because I can’t interact with them in a meaningful way.

Ok let me explain that. When I’m away from Shorty it’s fine because we still talk a lot on messaging or video calls. So while I’m physically away, I’m not emotionally away.

I can’t seem to achieve the same thing with Fighter and Penny. Technology advances has allowed us to do live video calls (something our parents never had the luxury of) but both of them never seem to want to interact with me over video for long.

So I feel homesick. I feel like I miss them and the traditional release of looking at their pictures in your wallet or now phone doesn’t have the effect it used to have anymore.

Fortunately my wife does two things that help.

The first is Dayre. She makes it a point to constantly update her Dayre especially when I’m away so I get to follow their journey throughout their day. I may miss moments but I don’t miss what really happened because the whole story of the day is told there.

The second thing is my wife’s YouTube videos. So Shorty started vlogging recently with lots of shots with the kids. The advantage with this one is that I really get to relive the moment that I would have otherwise missed.

This week when I was away, Shorty published this video. All shot and edited in a day (seriously when did my wife become such an expert).


As I sat in the hotel room one morning, dreading the start of another day away from the family, watching this video made me feel all better.

I ended up watching it twice that very same day. Reliving some of the moments over and over again. Like Penny doing a yum seng.

Sure my wife doesn’t necessarily update her vlog or Dayre just for me… but I’m happy and very appreciative of being a big beneficiary of it.

The great part is that one day when Fighter and Penny are older they can go back to watch these videos or read our Dayre to see how our lives were like with them around.

That’s the great thing about the internet these days. We are enabled to not just store photos or snapshot of memories but stories. If we keep this up we’ll have a lifetime of stories to tell our kids and grandkids one day. Never ever having to forget one.

How I got cheated at the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok

For years I’ve heard many people talk about the Four Faced Buddha at the Erawan Shrine and its powers. The saying goes that if you go there and pray to the Four Face Buddha, your wish will be granted but once granted you have to return there to give thanks by buying some flowers and making an offering or things will start going badly for you.

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I’ve never really found the reason to go because I’m a Christian so it’s not really aligned to my beliefs but my wife is Buddhist or more like a free-thinker and I respect her beliefs.

Anyway the backstory is that this year hasn’t been a great year for me in one particular respect. Something’s been going on pretty badly in my life and well I do what I do, just fight on and pray every night before I sleep.

Then just a month ago my wife revealed something to me. She said that last year she was in Bangkok and she went to the Erawan Shrine to pray for me at the Four Faced Buddha. The wish she made for me came true and things were really great for me towards the end of last year. If you follow the saying once something comes true you have to go back and give thanks but she hasn’t been back since. She thought maybe that’s why this year hasn’t been good for me.

So this week I’m in Bangkok for the Netccentric regional meeting and my wife asked me to go and give thanks on her (actually mine since the wish was for me) behalf. Ming tagged along.

When we got there the place was crowded with people and we didn’t know where to start. We started looking around the shrine and found a counter that sold dancers but didn’t find anyone that sold the joss ticks and flowers and all.

Ming ended up walking outside and we came across some roadside stalls. A lady motioned for us to go over to her stall and she asked if we were praying or giving thanks.

I said “giving thanks” (Ming said “praying”). So she started gathering a package of joss sticks and flowers and all for us and then asked Ming for THB2,000 and me THB2,800.

Ming and I looked at each other in a manner where I knew we were thinking the same thing. The package had joss sticks, some cigar sticks, small elephant figurines and flowers but even at THB2.8K that’s a lot of money.

I said to Ming “WAH SUPER HIGH MARGIN THIS ONE” but we both decided that we can’t negotiate on these kind of things without seeming insincere to the Four Faced Buddha so we just took it . This is what I got for THB2,800.

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Upon paying, an assistant of the seller brought us around the Four-Faced Buddha and taught us what to do. Start from the front, then pray, then go counter clock wise.

Once we were done she brought us to another stall right outside the shrine where they were selling birds in a cage. She then asked us for another THB1,000 each so we ponied up the money. I couldn’t help but notice the woman selling the birds was an amputee (she had an arm but no hand) so I thought to myself I would give the money to her anyway.

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We released the birds and then we were done.

As we walked away from the shrine Ming turned to me and said

“You know what… I’m very sure we just got swindled there”.

I nodded and said
“Yeah… but it’s hard to negotiate these things and if they’re using God’s name to cheat people then it’s their karma.”

I later started Googling around on how much I should have paid instead for what I got. The answer is about THB500 (as opposed to the total of almost THB4,000) that I paid.

So that’s how I got cheated at the Erawan Shrine. If you’re going there then I think this blog article here gives you a good idea of where to buy your stuff and what to do.

Is this the most advanced umbrella in the world?

The very first umbrella was said to be invented 21 AD and here’s how it looked.

Here’s how the umbrella of today (after almost 2,000 years) looks.

Notice how similar they look. Pay attention in particular to the pointy edges that they both have in common. Let it be clear.

I HATE THOSE SHARP POINTY EDGES.

Although to be fair I have a personal reason to hate them. You see my dear wife Shorty is 4ft9 which makes her significantly shorter than me. When she carries an umbrella and I walk next to her, I consistently and repeatedly get stabbed by its edges right in the neck. Yep perfectly around my neck.

Anyway the two pictures above give you an idea about how limited innovation there has been over the past 2 centuries let alone decades when it comes to umbrellas.

I asked around about what the pain points of an umbrella are and here’s what I got:

  1. The pointy edges (ok that’s me)

I don’t just hate them for their pokey tendencies but I also hate them for how they’re such an integral part of a traditional umbrella. All it takes is the umbrella to come off one of those pointy edges and you’d have a broken umbrella. We all know how often that happens too.

2. They fall apart in the wind

I never realized how big a problem this was until I went to London. I used to walk a lot in London and I’d bring an umbrella when it rains. There the wind gets so strong sometimes it blows my umbrella inside out.  If it doesn’t break in the wind, it’s hard to manage

Umbrellas are essentially like sails or parachutes. When you hold them up against the wind they have a tendency to want to lift off. Every now and then in heavy wind I find myself wrestling with my umbrella against the wind.

3. They can be unreliable and difficult to open or close

This is especially annoying when you’re trying to get in or out of your car when it’s raining heavily. Each second you spend fiddling with the umbrella is another litre of rain water that gets thrown on you (Ok I exaggerate but you get my point).

These are the pain points of the umbrella and it’s surprising nobody has come up with anything to solve these pain points. Until now that is.

Google “The most advanced umbrella in the world” and the first result you’ll get is Blunt Umbrella. It’s a company started out of New Zealand that makes umbrellas that solves all of the 3 problems above so when they approached to sponsor me for a review I jumped on it.

Here’s how the umbrella looks like.

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Notice a few things about it.

  1. It has no pointed edges.

Shorty can walk next to me with her umbrella now without stabbing me in the neck.

2. It’s designed to take wind head on and disperse it.

So you don’t have to find yourself wrestling with the umbrella.

3. It’s very very well made. 

I love the way it feels when I open or close it. Feels really solid and everything mechanical that’s in the opening or closing just works.

I love the problem Blunt Umbrella solves and I love how they’ve taken something that we use every day and improved on it. Something that has seen so little innovation in the past decades until they came along.

The Blunt Umbrella is not cheap mind you but you really get what you pay for. I’m glad I have one and I’m actually thinking of buying another one as a gift for someone I know.

Anyway to check out their umbrellas click here.

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