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17 August, 2013

Goodbye Marshwah, Hello Write-Club

It's time to pull the pin on this blog.

In Evernote, written eight months ago is something that I return to every now and then, a reminder that looks like this:

What the fuck happened man?

The love is there. The content and results are not. For someone that lives and breathes this stuff I've got a pretty flimsy web-presence. I'm lucky to chalk out an entry a month.

There's a quote from an article at the end of the year that kicked my arse good. It's an article by David Wong called 6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person. There is a tonne of choice knowledge-bombs in the piece, but there's one paragraph that was coated in rusty tacks, soaked in vinegar, and shoved up my hole in a compromising fashion. It read:
Being in the business I'm in, I know dozens of aspiring writers. They think of themselves as writers, they introduce themselves as writers at parties, they know that deep inside, they have the heart of a writer. The only thing they're missing is that minor final step, where they actually fucking write things.

I didn't take the advice lying down, I read it and absorbed it. No really, I did. I even went as far as posting in the forum about my intention to heed the advice, you can find it here, and here's a juicy excerpt.

Great advice, some of it I'm living, and some of it I'm not.
I'm already doing pretty well. I'm a 29 y.o. working in a job I love and after this call-to-action, I'm going to overhaul my blog to impart lessons on what I've learned to a younger me.
My blog is pretty shit currently, but after reading this article I churned out 8 article ideas in under an hour and am feeling really inspired. I'm keen to read the rest of this forum thread to see how other people were inspired, but mainly I just want this to be an embedded post that I can revisit a year from now to see if I was successful.
I'm actually making a note in my calendar to revisit in a year's time to see if I was successful.
So let's see if "Lessons to _____ " takes off!
It hasn't happened. And it's a good thing I'm even writing this as that calendar reminder would have taken a good ol' bite out of nowhere too.

Why build something?

The best people do. I'm a firm believer in the fact that creating things is good for your soul. And I'm not the only one. There's at least two other people that I've read that say similar things.

One of them says it's a really good way to learn, and another says it's a good way to acquire skills for post-advertising life.

Well I like learning and I've been looking at post-advertising life of-late.

So I'm going to disappear and build something. It's not going to be called Lessons to, but it's going to be something I learn from, and it's probably going to involve a hell of a lot more writing.

Which excites me for now.

So Marshwah is retiring, and I'll come back in some other form, and until I do, here's an ancient photo of me doing gosh knows what:

I used to keep my album covers on a wall, including Groove Armada's Goodbye Country, Hello Nightclub (I always liked that title)

In the words of an old friend, my taste is so bad its good.

Ciao for now.

10 August, 2013

My 40 Day meditation challenge - what I learned, why I'll keep doing it, and why you should too

As someone who has recovered from a mental illness, I know that keeping vigilant about my mental health is important.

And for the most part, I have. I've been incredibly fortunate, and have an amazing support network around me that I owe a hell of a lot too.

One thing that always nagged at me, I never quite got hold of, and knew was probably important, was meditation. Its benefits for a 'normal' person are tremendous. It rejuvenates, increases calmness and focus, and can make you feel more alive.

For someone like me, having an extra bullet in the chamber in the fight against triggers is a boon and a godsend. So just over 40 days ago, after hearing about an easy way to get into it from Zen Habits, I started meditating every morning, and almost all nights when I got home (there were a couple of tricky times when I got home too drunk).

The technique suggests committing to just two minutes a day. In the morning, and by watching your breath.

Sounds pretty simple right?
Well it's both harder and easier than you think.

Some tips

I'd tried this on other occasions and couldn't quite get the hang of it. Here's a few resources I used that I found helpful:
I got the Pro edition because I liked the app so much and wanted to support it
  • a habit-reminder app called Habit Streak - I'm sure there are others out there, but this is what helped me keep a bit more motivated, I cross off my 'chore' in the morning to acknowledge that I did it the day before, and it builds a chain. It becomes a bit of a morning ritual
  • read the book The Power of Habit - this book was amazing, explaining with intelligence on how tricky it is to form a positive habit (the 21 days thing is a myth), and how you can combat your internal resistance (environmental factors play a huge part)
  • a trickier book, but one I found quite enlightening, was The Power of Now (there's a lot of power here!) which was what ultimately helped me decide that meditation was something I wanted to stick to - it's a very challenging read with its somewhat flowery language - but its argument is sound: you are not the voice in your head, quit being beholden to it, and focus on the present moment - BOOM!
  • I even went to a couple of meditation classes via Meetup - you can simply search for them and I had no trouble finding some free ones in Sydney. It was a bit daunting going to something that I have a predisposition to thinking 'new fandangled crap' - but I'm glad I challenged myself to as it was very rewarding
There are a tonne of other resources out there and half the fun is going out and discovering what materials are out there and online. For me, I've steered clear of the religious stuff and have really enjoyed virtually everything I've read about mindfulness

The Benefits

So does it 'work'?
Well, the short answer is it depends.

In fact, I'm pretty sure that's the wrong question to begin with. If you've done some reading on meditation and all you want is up-side and immediate gain you're in it for the wrong reasons and won't get much out of it. I think that was my problem in the past. 

I'm incredibly glad I have persevered. I hinted in my blog that I've had some challenges in my career lately, and having meditation as an extra shield has really helped keep things in perspective.

My focus has increased. I'm doing things more efficiently, and the whole concept of mindfulness empowers me to take half a step back before acting, and while I'm in my relative infancy, I quite enjoy having extra pause for consideration.

I want to know more. I'm 30 years of age now, I pretty much have my interests and what I enjoy doing locked down. This new endeavour is very rich and diverse and its exciting. I had a mind-blowing moment this morning after my run. Experimenting with a body-scan meditation, I was fascinated to be able to feel the difference between my torso, my arms, and my feet - there was a lot of energy coming from my feet.

What's next?

Well now that I've accumulated 40 days of self-knowledge I'm keen to pursue more. There's some interesting courses out there and there's a lot of literature, so I'm going to keep at it.

One thing that struck me as odd when I was first exposed to meditation, was the warnings I saw for those suffering from mental health issues. I spoke to my doctor about it and the watch-outs are the religious overtones and certain group environments that are pushing a particular dogma.

I boiled it down for Mum in much plainer language: if you thought you had the power of a higher-being at one stage in your life, it's probably not a good idea to embrace the powers of higher-beings via group meditation. And that's fine.

The mind's a powerful thing, and recognising that power has been a humbling and awesome experience.

04 August, 2013

10 things things I aimed to do before 30: a report-card

Almost seven years ago, I was trying to get into advertising.
It was a long road, and I blogged about the experience I had here a couple of years ago.

But now I've turned 30, its something I want to revisit.

The traineeship I applied for asked me to: List 10 things to do before you’re 30.

It was a great challenge, and better than those where do you see yourself in 5 years kind-of questions you get in job interviews. So today, I'm revisiting the list and seeing whether I got there.

1. Go to the four grand slams of tennis.
I love tennis. Growing up near Melbourne, I was fortunate enough to go to the Australian Open many times. At the time, I thought I'd be able to get to the other ones easily. This hasn't happened. It's definitely something I want to do and I think I'll add it to my new list (more on that later).

2. Go bungee jumping and sky-diving in New Zealand.
So here's the thing. I did get to go to New Zealand. I flew my Mum there a few weeks after the book launch and we really enjoyed some time in Wellington. Didn't quite make it to the extreme sports section. I'm pretty sure I still want to do these things, but unfortunately life has got in the way.

3. Have a beer in a Tasmanian pub with David Boon.
I'm not sure of the whereabouts of Boony these days. But I do know he's from Tasmania and that I need to go and have a beer with him at some stage, unfortunately, this did not happen before I was 30.

4. Make a public speech to 200 or more people.

You would think I haven't achieved much at this stage. I did set the bar high, but really? Fortunately public speaking is something I've enjoyed and excelled at since my career has taken flight. I quite enjoy it, and remember delivering a presentation on the Singapore digital landscape at the Mediabrands Digital summit, presenting a case-study to Microsoft's Digital Marketing conference, jumping up on stage at Unilever Vietnam and talking about creativity in digital (I won best speaker!), and one of my favourites was on a roadshow in Thailand and talking about our employer's capabilities to creative agency Far East DDB.

The room filled even more after this and there were people standing.

I still haven't got a boss-like photo of me wearing a black jacket and one of those headset microphones, but I'm working on it and have a lot to be proud of.

5. Purchase a dish-washer.
A rather immediate need at the time was having a dishwasher, but since then the houses I've lived in have had them for the majority. I probably should upgrade this to buying a house.

6. Take my family, including aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents, to an expensive restaurant and foot the bill myself.
While I'm not swimming in it, there have been scenarios where I've been able to do this sort of thing for friends and family and not worry about it. I'm of the opinion that when it comes to people who are special to me, I'm going to look after them. Special shout-out goes to Sentosa Island adventures and The Ritz. Oh my, I miss you sometimes Singapore.

7. Get my three best mates, and road trip it across Australia.
Ahh, the road trip. The funny thing is, I don't think I could name my three best mates. I'm luck to have some very special people in my life and I have road-tripped with all of them. A sojourn to Mildura was interesting, a drive from Sydney to Geelong with people I was getting to know bonded us forever, and a shorter drive from Traralgon to Melbourne with my little sister was one of the most enjoyable things I've ever done. I'm going to claim this one.

8. Go backpacking across Europe.
I never did the backpacker thing, but I did have the European holiday of a lifetime last year and that was a privilege.

9. Get into a position where I can read the answers to an application form such as this.
I love this answer. So cheeky yet it says a lot about my ambition. I haven't had a chance to do this yet. But have happily advised others on how they can frame their applications. For my industry, there's no such thing as over-the-top. You need to get that door open and a cover letter and resume will rarely cut it.

10. Meet the girl of my dreams!
A work-in-progress. Its well-documented that its harder to meet new people after 30, so maybe I've already met them but haven't realised yet? The other complication is that I hadn't come out at 23, and being bisexual means it could be a guy too! Oh, me.

The scorecard: 5/10
I give myself about five out of ten. Some of them I achieved a little bit, and some I nailed spectacularly. Others are still achievable and age is just a number any way.

It's been a fun exercise and I'm glad I got some of the way to achieving my dreams. I'm going to think about it a bit, and jot down the ten things I want to do before I'm 40. It's going to be a challenging and more awe-inspiring list I assure you.

23 July, 2013

My top 5 DJs (that I haven't seen yet)

I've had this in my 'Creating Things' folder on Evernote for quite some time:

Over six months, I've been meaning to write this

And I've been quite lazy on this topic.

At first, I couldn't think of five DJs that I hadn't seen. I knew I'd seen a lot of acts (particularly in Sydney) and rather arrogantly thought that at the ripe-old age of 30 that I'd ticked them all of our bucket list.  But I wasn't thinking hard enough. And I just realised my big reveal is already buggered by including the names in that above screengrab. But there are other reasons for writing this article too.

For example, I delayed writing this list as it changed over the course of time. There were some late-comers that I got to see in the first half of this year, or artists I remembered seeing and then forgot about, so you could say the fluid nature of the list put me off.

But I'm not seeing that many gigs. 

So after half a year of deliberation, I'm quite excited to share this list with you. Because I'm a good fellow and like Soundcloud, I'm also going to link to a favourite set from each of these artists. Well, because I'm a good fellow and the cross-pollination will see my blog traffic go through the roof.

That's in the 100s people. Seriously, even my YouTube Channel fares better than this blog

So without further ado here's my top 5 DJs that I haven't seen.

1. Adam Beyer
One of the first guys I really started to warm to beyond what I was told to listen to by the likes of Ministry of Sound Annuals and Wild CDs. The man is a genius and I regularly listen to his Drumcode radio show on my phone. Switching effortlessly between deep house, tech house, and techno, Adam really takes you for a ride and specalises in long sets.

I still haven't got a chance to see him over all this time as the amount of times he's been in AU is quite limited. There was a time he played outside of Melbourne at Kryal Castle in 2007, but I couldn't justify the trip there at that stage of my life. And I regret it to this day.

I've chosen the set below as it's one of his long ones and has a similar range to what I really enjoy. I also remember listening to it at a friend's BBQ and we all couldn't stop moving, seriously - when Alan Fitzpatrick's Skeksis is dropped you will love your shit. I'm actually jealous of you.
2. Henry Saiz
Going in another direction is this guy. Much deeper, more progressive, and an extremely talented producer. I narrowly missed him in Sydney last year as I was at Subsonic Music Festival and it clashed, and have never lived it down. Especially when a friend who wasn't at the festival said he played some of the form of his life and she attended all three gigs he played in Sydney: boat party, garden party, and after-party - respect.

The set I've chosen doesn't start off well. You might actually wonder what the hell is going on. But trust us on this one - it gets goooood. It's also a set from a boat-party on Brisbane, which I mentioned in a musical capacity, a couple of weeks ago. It would have been some boat.

3. Pan-Pot
I've always been aware of these guys, but haven't found their productions to be mind-blowing and always settled for listening to them if they're on.

Wow - what a year they are having. These guys are cane-ing it on every level. The sets have some of the highest energy for the range they have without tiring us. I seriously dig. The duo are also good at uploading their best sets on Soundcloud - so I encourage you to check out more than what I've posted here.

I've never seen them as I'm not even sure they've come to Australia? I missed them in Barcelona last year which was unfortunate and here I am still hoping I'll get a chance some day. In the interim, give this set below a go - and try not to dance.

4. Gabriel Ananda
Another newcomer to the list after flying under the radar for some time. Everyone's heard Doppelwhipper, but I wasn't convinced I was missing out until coming across his Soulful Techno series.

I'll definitely be catching him next time he's around and in town (or I'll travel). He also just released a great new track this week called Let it in and let it out. Which you should totally do while unwinding to this mellow mix within the list.

5. Joris Voorn
This guy is at the height of his powers as a DJ and producer. It's a travesty I have not seen him.

There's no excuse as I know I've been in Melbourne as the same time as him. And even at the same party (in Barcelona - we left before he started).

I chose this set because I listen to it whenever I need a pick-me-up at work. Short, sustained, and relentless.

Have you got some fave electronic music producers or DJs you haven't seen yet?
Let us know in the comments and thanks for reading!

21 July, 2013

A reminder: When sticking to your guns pays off

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. 
-excerpt from Citizenship In A Republic, Theodore Roosevelt  
I like this quote.
It gives me solace when I'm expending my energy on things I believe in.

In spite of this, I still remember virtually every negative comment that was thrown at me during the writing of, and after the delivery my book.

This is common. A very accomplished writer at the Emerging Writer's Festival I attended, someone who had written half a dozen books and for all intents and purposes was a success, said you don't remember the positive reviews. She said you can get 49 great ones and for some reason your head will still cling to that negative one.

I read a very good book over the weekend after seeing it recommended in this G+ discussion. The book was called Quitter and the recommendation was made after seeing a question around:

"I'm quitting my job to chase my dreams!"

The book had some resoundingly good advice, highlighting the importance of seeing the good in what you do, while still actively pursuing what you love and taking steps to ensure that happens. There were two things in particular I'd like to call out.

The first was on time. You don't get to your dreams by watching television. I'm calling it out because it matches the words emblazoned on the poster on the back of my door. Words I live by.

Cheers, Holstee Manifesto

The second was on dreams.

I'm paraphrasing the writer's reference from another book here, but here's what happens when you ask a group of first-grader's "how many artists are in the room?"

They will all put their hand up.
You ask the same question to a group of third-graders and a third put their hand up.
By the time they are twelve you are lucky to get one or two hands.

Group mentality and society condition us not to pursue our dreams.

Which brings us back to negative comments about my dream. It was to write a book. And that's what I've done but like I said those comments can stick sometimes. And that's unfortunate.

Then I remember the man in the arena, who does actually strive to do the deeds, who doesn't heed the words of a critic, and that's pretty inspiring. I also remember all the positive feedback I received for my book, and how I put myself out there and was able to share a story that had been hanging over my head for so long.

Another thing happened recently.

An interstate trip down near Sorrento, with some my old buddies. The book came up and I got some kind words, and I remarked on how it's an extremely humbling experience getting such feedback from your peers on something so intensely personal. The crime, I remarked, was that there's no way you can assemble all that feedback in one place for when things might be a little more gloomy.

I sat on that thought for a while.

As I hinted at yesterday, things are a bit challenging at the moment, and perhaps things seem a bit gloomier than usual.

To combat it I've been keeping busy. I updated my consultancy site, plotted an outline for an upcoming workshop, read aforementioned book, leaned on my network, and decided to address that crime I mentioned earlier.

There is a way you can assemble most of the feedback from a book in one place.

It's called hustle, and I'm a big fan. I grabbed my old phone, extracted all the SMS to my Gmail, combed through email, downloaded my Facebook, and collected every piece of feedback I could find on Being Bi-Bi and mentions of "the book".

I then assembled it all on a digital cork-board, below is the result.

Sticking to your guns pays off. And as insidious as negativity is, there's always a way to cobble together a collection of reminders of why you do what you do, and why you'll keep persevering.

 photo Feedback2_zps633fc210.png

20 July, 2013

Why I'm proud of my run this morning

I'm proud of my run this morning.

The view when I finished

I had a bottle of wine with a friend last night, but that's not why I'm proud. I ran one of my better times, and that's some cause to be proud, but it's not what I'm getting at either.

The music I listened to was fantastic too. I had an Ida Engberg set freshly downloaded and as I ran, the music really helped me along. A rejigged house classic came on from Jon Cutler, and the famous lyrics shouted:
If you were to find this temple
Do you have the knowledge to enter the temple
Do yaaa want it
And if you had it would ya flaunt it
Well its yours
I'm in that temple-discovery period at the moment.

Normally when things are going on with my career I batten down the hatches, and go silent for a while (certainly on my blog at least). Well some hard questions are being asked at the moment and I'm not certain of all the answers to those questions.

I'm perturbed, a little unsure of myself, and finding things challenging. There are a few ways things can pan out at the moment and I'm rapidly approaching a crossroads. Some of these paths are obvious, some I'm going to have to work bloody hard for, and some are what I think to be wrong.

I'm also excited, restless, and relishing the challenge. Things are shaking up in my life and as I just ticked over at 30 years of age, it's a great opportunity to take stock of things and determine what it is I really want to do with the skills I have. And if I don't have those skills now is an excellent time to start acquiring them.

I love my sister, I was talking to her the other day about a particularly stressful life situation and she basically shouted down the phone at me something along the lines of:
You're playing it to safe, you need to get out of your comfort zone and do something that's scary
I took her advice and pulled the trigger. My stomach churned. I thought what the hell am I doing? And I giggled while I sat on my bed and grinned from ear-to-ear.

It's around then that I remembered the famous quote:
Do one thing every day that scares you
It's not hard, but it's harder than what most of us are doing now. I've been striving to do that more and more. I have my safe days, but slowly over time I think I'm getting better at pushing myself just the right amount to get where I want to be.

So here I am at my temple. I really want it. And if I get it I'm not sure if I'll flaunt it.

But when I'm running and having one of those state-of-my-life moments, when there's a million things on my mind and I instinctively wake up before dark and run over eight kilometres in under forty minutes.

Then - when I'm having one of those moments - I'm going to relish every second of it. Because shit's going down, and I chose to get out of my bed and go for a run.

That's why I'm proud of my run this morning.


If you haven't read it, or haven't discovered The Oatmeal yet, I highly recommend reading his comic on running, it's funny, articulate, and does a much better job of explaining why we enjoy running.

17 July, 2013

Crowdfunding a Gig - What if Daft Punk Were Playing at Your House?

It was 2009.

The Inthemix forums were vibrant, and there was a rag-tag crew of Brisbane ITMers who consistently missed out on international gigs to the likes of Melbourne and Sydney. But what they lacked in numbers they made up for with passion. And by adopting a collective approach to securing talent for a dedicated few, occasionally they were able to secure DJs way beyond the city's typical capabilities.

This culminated with a thread for some 100 dedicated fans at a private party in Brisbane at the start of 2010. The group pooled their funds, and were able to get trance DJ Richard Durand fresh from his set to a crowd of 30,000 punters at a Sensation party in Melbourne to play on a rooftop.

The event was something special, with the man himself stating:

“I came here not knowing what to expect. I was told I was playing to a party of 100 people and I thought what the f#ck. This 100 people is way better than 30,000. Love you.”

Photo credit:

What the posse up in Brisbane had managed to do was crowdfund a gig. This was before sites like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or the Australian site Pozible even existed.

In my mind, the tactics they employed for drumming up support for such an event played to the things that made the dance music community great, a collective that were there for the music.

A lot has happened since then.

Inthemix has exploded in popularity. The US has started to realise that dance music is something awesome. And the forums and once vibrant Inthemix community has died.

But I still remember that gig from afar, and remember being jealous that the likes of such an event couldn't happen in Sydney or Melbourne.

But maybe I'm wrong?

The site Pozible has just started a competition to crowdfund a live music event. And at the back of my mind is the fact that there's some potential here.

What's stopping you from crowdfunding a Daft Punk concert?

Probably all those dollar bills yo

Would 1 million Australians pay a small amount to see them? Probably not. But I know that a community as engaged as the dance music scene would find a way to fund such a venture. Just like they did in Brisbane.

I'm kicking around the idea I've getting involved with this competition and flexing some Crowdfund Coach muscle. I'm meeting with some friends next week and thinking of illustrating just how powerful the crowdfunding concept can go.

Are you with me?
Get in touch with your thoughts or comment below.