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21 December, 2012

Pissing Excellence and Backing Up Again for Next Year

The best way you can get back at your enemies is by pissing excellence.
-me, Being Bi-Bi: a memoir on mental health and sexuality, November 2012

It's one of the last sentences in the book, and it works on so many levels. The best way you can get back at your adversaries is by being better. That might be an opponent, a demon, a troll, and probably a lot of other things as well. I won't dwell on them though, because I'm showering them with excellence.

This year, I wrote a book. I mentioned it when this blog started (in its current incarnation) and I finally got there. I got to deliver a heart-felt speech in front of my nearest and dearest at the launch party, and the feeling of seeing my book in print, and on Amazon are some of the proudest moments I've ever experienced.

Me delivering aforementioned speech (right) and hugging my beautiful sister afterwards (left)

I also set out to lose 20kg. I got there too. I learned a lot about myself along the way, including that there's better metrics for getting healthy, but after failed starts I was finally able to shove it to my detractors.

Sticking it back (forgive the toenails, I get in-growns very easy and prefer my feet to be ugly)

I ran a half-marathon. With a time that speaks for itself. That's sweating excellence.

When I'm partying or otherwise having a really good time, I sometimes take stock of the situation and think to myself - how can I have or do more of this?

This year was phenomenal. But how can I be even better? Okay I'll do more of that.

It's a principle to live by, and reminds me of what a poster on the Inthemix forums once said (paraphrasing):
If you're doing something and it's annoying people, do more of it.

Just replace "annoying" with "pissing excellence".
There you go!

So I've created a list of goals I want next year, and that I'll deliver upon:
  • Produce another major piece of creative workI have another idea for a project that I'm going to dedicate a future blog post to, but the current idea is to take on a medium different to a book: YouTube. I want to chart the path to one million cumulative views, and document the progress across digital platforms. One million views in a year. Let's see. 
  • Travel to New York
    This city has been itching at me forever, I need to scope it out as a potential place to live, and make my mind up on it. I won't know for sure until I see it.
  • Run a marathon
    A colleague told me that there's not such thing as an easy one. I've been loving running and I'm going to take this on.
  • Take up meditation
    I really enjoy this concept and after doing an introductory course I want to make this a regular habit.
  • Kickbox regularly
    A friend and I agreed to take this up in the New Year, I've done bits and bobs in the past and want to make this a habit.
  • Yoga regularly
    I'm fortunate enough to get free yoga at work, I'm going to enjoy this and develop it into a habit too.
  • Save $X a month
    I'm shit at saving, it's time to fix that.
  • Pay off CC debt
    I'm a grown man now and want this iced too.
  • Join a sporting competition
    With my newfound fitness, I'd love to have one last stab at Aussie Rules or to resume tennis. It's a bit hard with my affinity for travel, but committing to, and accomplishing a season's worth of sport while I still can would be fucking unreal.
  • Kick arse professionally
    This year I was nominated for the B&T 30 Under 30, it was nice to be recognised, but I want to do something even more kick arse this year. I don't really talk about my day-to-day on here, but I would like to achieve a similar milestone or better in 2013.
  • Learn to code, a language, or improve my overall design abilities
    I know this one is vague, but improving my language, whether that be digital, verbal, or creatively is something I would like to do in 2013 and will be pursuing this one aggressively.
Ambitious? I'm actually thinking it's not enough. But we've got to start somewhere, and having this list in front of me will go some way. Is it right to plan this far ahead? Is it natural? Do I know what will change between now and six months from now? Are persistent fear-based questions a weak writing device?

Only time will tell.
I've got this.

20 November, 2012

5 tips on building an audience (what I sort of know)

My number one source of traffic is a Gabriel & Dresden retweet.

Yes, I did favourite this Tweet for future reference

I've looked at the numbers, and I'm not taking the piss here. A disgruntled tweet from myself got picked up, retweeted, and is the cause of the biggest spike in my not-so-humble blog yet.
It was all downhill from there

The retweet linked to an article I wrote stating how hard it was for me to let go of my love for a duo I used to adore. It's essentially a negative piece, yet they (or whoever controls their account) had the humour to retweet my statement, resulting in a large spike the likes of which this blog has never seen before.

I chose to open with this example for an article on 5 tips on building on an audience as a somewhat comic indicator of the fact I still don't really know what I'm doing.

Looking at the graph above you can see a cumulative growth in page-views. So I guess you could say I sort of know what I'm doing. But there's a metric shit-tonne of stuff I don't know (and for that matter, don't care to know sometimes).

But given that I haven't updated in a month or so, I'm going to bestow upon you my 5 tips on building on an audience.

1. Cross-promote
What my Facebook friends have to put up with at irregular intervals

The fact of the matter is that for most people, blog traffic is not going to come from having a "polarising point of view" or a "USP". It's going to come from charity clicks you get from Facebook, Twitter, and one or two from the others if you're lucky.

I quit Facebook a while ago. For a craven, attention-seeking digital whore like me, this was somewhat akin to dropping my smartphone in the toilet. This was a mistake. Subsequently trying to blog to my friends was an unpleasant, dirty, and ultimately unfulfilling experience. And that's not just because the phone didn't work.

It's a quick-win, so just chuck it out there and enjoy the flak you'll get from your friends for pimping yo'self.

2. The rules change
Two comments back in 2001? That was practically half-the-Internet then

I started this shit a long time ago. And as evident from this blog post, I still don't know very much about building an audience. But what I do know is that the rules change in the online landscape, and a lack of readiness to adapt to these shifting conditions can see your e-cred plummet like mine.

I started OpenDiary ten years ago as a stream of consciousness download of my thoughts, feelings and poor future, present, and ex-girlfriend. Ten years later I still treat it as a stream of consciousness download of my thoughts, feelings, and as an active deterrent for future boyfriends and girlfriends.

The lesson I have consistently failed to learn is that you need to adapt to the changing landscape, and as online matures, refine your voice in a way that's authentic and still resonates with your audience.

A readiness to adapt quickly can have huge implications for building your audience. Robert Scoble's G+ adoption has lead to minor-celebrity status in tech-circles, and Guy Kawasaki enjoys a cult-following for his efforts on the same platform.

I'm not saying always change what you do for the latest trends, but at least be aware of them instead of doggedly sticking to the same formula. Although that works sometimes too.

3. Read up
Did I mention I have a book coming out?

If you're reading up to this point you must have some, vague interest in the topic, and I'm here to tell you I'm no authority. What I can tell you is that there's a shipload of content out there where you can read up on things like building an audience, and here's my quick-and-dirty take on the good, the bland, and the ugly.

The Good
  • The Oatmeal just released a comic on what it's like to be a writer. If you're one of the few people that hasn't shared this, then I urge you to stop reading this entry and read his article instead. It's much more entertaining and an example of what you should be doing (instead of what I do).
  • Mark Pollard is a digital strategist in New York that I only know via following various digital tweets from industry folk, the article I've linked isn't specifically geared towards building an audience (it's more stuff), but his articulate life lessons and approach are things that I enjoy.
The Bland
  • I have no doubt of it's efficacy, and it's a great resource, but ProBlogger fits within this category for me. It does a great job at blogging about blogging, but just typing that caves my head in and I think it's best to think of this sort of advice as the supplement rather than the main course.
  • For a while there I read a similar guy called GoinsWriter - he has some solid advice on writing and some simple tips. In the end I stopped tuning in because it seemed like pretty basic stuff.
The Ugly
  • People in glass stones should not throw houses, but JeffBullas approach is fucking ugly. It's methodic, process-driven link bait. Try and read some advice for nuggets of wisdom longer than half an hour and you'll end up stabbing yourself. There's no denying he is good at driving traffic, but this entry is about building an audience. And I think there's a difference.
4. Make the content interesting

Don't do what I continually do if you're interested in building an audience. Focus on interesting things. This may sound counter-intuitive, but the most interesting things are usually far-removed from your day-to-day.

It might sound paradoxical not writing about what you know, but humour me for a second.

Take someone you meet on a plane. It's a relatively unique experience where you can share as much, or as little as you wish. Now, if I meet someone that's on the plane that's into the internet, electronic dance music, and has a new gadget in front of them - we are going to get along like a house on fire.

Is what we discuss worthy of sharing with someone I incidentally meet later (say, someone who visits this blog?)

What if I sit next to an elderly hat professor who does most of the talking and regales me with stories about the war, how she met her husband of 50 years, and how she is a leading world-authority on hats worn in the last 200 years.

Correct me if I'm wrong (I only sort of know what I'm doing), but I felt 10x more comfortable sharing the information about the hat professor I met than the guy that's similar to me. It was interesting to share, rather than interesting to me.

This is a good rule-of-thumb. You can have that one. And if you don't get it here's a fucking list of content ideas for your next entry. But think of the hat professors out there first please.

5. Get your hands dirty
A somewhat impromptu shot of my hands

Above is an on-the-spot shot of me showing my hands. They are relatively clean. This wouldn't have happened if I didn't "get them dirty".

By that I mean, I knew uploading a picture of my hands is better than no pictures in the blog at all, and then I knew how to do that extremely quickly with Cameroid and Blogger's upload feature.

If I didn't get them dirty in the first place I would have never known these things. It's called experience and it's something you need just before you get it. If you accumulate enough of these things you'll need it less and less as time goes on.

Go out there and fucking do it.

When I went to the Emerging Writer's Festival, I asked the question in the Crowdfunding workshop: how do you know when to flick the switch?

Just like a break-up, there's never going to be a perfect time to do it. So just do it. You can do all the preparation, reading and research and you like - but there's no substitute for doing.

I've made a metric shit-tonne (I love that term) of mistakes jumping around in the digital space but ultimately I know a lot more from doing shit than holding back and wondering what the consequences would be.

Playing in the digital space is a wonderful thing, and you only learn that by doing. 

...Then when you claim to lay some semblance of knowledge to what you're doing, Gabriel & Dresden will come along and blow all your supposed "approaches" out of the water. Sort of.

28 October, 2012

I'll book some time to write this

I just cued up Jaytech Music Podcast Feb '08. For the ridiculously astute or bored, it opens with the same tune I play in my epic running YouTube. I'll have to get the name of the track one day. As it's one of the few sets I've bothered to download onto my work computer, it gets a lot of action. But why am I ambling around with text such as this? When I can start a much sexier paragraph.

Last week, I effectively raised $3,000+ to publish my book. That's right folks. After botched starts, and some missed deadlines, the book is getting published in 2012.

While I'm a bit lean on entries this year, it's been fun tracing back the journey. I hit the ground with an objective in returning to Sydney, and had booked a trip to the Emerging Writer's Festival the second weekend I was back. The experience was invaluable. Meeting like-minded people, hearing the same sorts of questions, and getting a sense of what others were doing and how it applied to me.

If you're one of the six people reading this and thinking of going - I urge you to next time it rolls out. It can be expensive to get there if you're not based in Melbourne, but in my opinion it was worth every cent.

You could chart the journey a bit further. I commented on the rise-and-rise of crowdfunding and how my book will get published. Pointing to the sites Pozible and Blurb, I pointed out that in combining the two I could cut out publishers altogether and do my own thing. I think it's around here that I mentioned something about putting what I know into practice, and decided to run with it.

But there were distractions. One day, I'd love to be doing my own thing and making an impact on my own terms. I expressed as much to a friend-of-a-friend who runs her own business. It was the wake-up call I needed, what the hell have I been doing with my book for all this time? It was time to apply the blowtorch.

And apply the blowtorch I did. Not everything came off. I had some ambitious ideas that may never see the light of day. One of my favourites was taking over the banner space of Inthemix Lifestyle forum with a banner and a call-to-action to buy my book. I smirk as I type and appreciate the irony.

But a lot of things did, and more importantly, people like yourself came through. I mean you, the reader. I put myself out there and started broadcasting my potential story to the world, and a lot of people placed faith in me and financed it.

I can only hope you enjoy the tale as much as I've enjoyed writing it. Even that time I was coming back from a train in Kiama and had written 3,000 words and at the exact time the battery decided to fuck out as I typed "n(o)" to the Microsoft Word save prompt. Yes, even then.

I deliberately used the term "broadcast" when talking about my potential story though, it's what drives me. The more I talk about dealing with the issues I've faced the more it can normalise it for others. I've got a very deliberate strategy in my approach and it's starting to come to fruition.

I spoke to an old boss about the potential implications of broadcasting this story. There's foreseeable outcomes and ones that will be harder to predict. I don't claim to have all the answers when it comes to running with this, but whatever's driving me shows no signs of stopping, slowing, or anything but accelerating.

You don't go to crazy and back without returning with some crazy ideas of your own.
Let's see where we end up?

01 September, 2012

Putting your money where my mouth is

I think I'm averaging an update every two weeks or so on this blog lately. And every time I look back on two weeks ago, I shake my head and reflect on what a fortnight it's been. This fortnight has probably been even bigger than usual in terms of personal milestones for me.

On Sunday, I flicked the switch on self-publishing the book. As I had mentioned in an earlier entry, my intention was to crowdfund the publication costs of the book via a site called Pozible, and then use those funds to self-publish on a site called Blurb.

I love that both these sites exist today, and that with some verve and a bit of a digital flair I can finally make a dream happen.

Which brings me to why I gave this entry this particular title. In my day job, I'm paid to come up with digital strategies and ideas that will work for very large advertisers. There's a backlog of experience, knowledge and things learned along my short career that I can apply, and the fluid nature of digital means I have to be ready to adapt and learn new technologies that I can integrate into potential solutions.

I am good at what I do. I work for a fantastic company, and am very appreciative of the opportunities that present themselves as a consequence of my employment. Over time, I've encouraged, coerced, and dragged large advertisers into the digital space with a fair degree of success.

But hold up, if I know so much about digital, how come I can't seem to get my shit together with this blog? How come the traffic it does is a pittance? And why can't I write compelling enough content to make people want to read?

These are hard questions to answer, and all I could say is that I write in my blog more for me, than an audience (although having an audience is nice).

Let's apply a critical filter to these questions I've posed. If I know so much about digital that I get paid to come up with strategies for large advertisers... why I aren't applying that knowledge to me and what I want to do?

Well the penny dropped a month or so ago. I think I mentioned feeling inspired, wanting to apply myself to something, and realising I had all the tools and capabilities to do what I wanted already. Get the fucking book done, I thought. And with my new found realisation - there were really no more excuses.

I had dropped the ball. And if it wasn't apparent when I was languishing, it was definitely apparent when I picked the ball back up. I announced my reinvigorated fervour to my friends on email, explaining my intention and how I'm working to a deadline. The question that bounced back could have cut me to shreds if it wasn't so true: "Is this the book you've been working on for ages?" Ouch.

So I have been putting my money where my mouth is, and in turn yours. I'll come back to how that works.

I am very, very impressed with this number

I've been busy. I've sought advice from my mentor, visited a life coach, had a photo shoot done, and filmed a pitch video. I've sourced more diligent feedback from the book and have a new deadline that I'm working to.

It's all been built around a singular destination - - a site that is simultaneously drawing attention, capturing pre-orders, and raising funds for my book Being Bi-Bi: a memoir on mental health and sexuality.

One of the trickier things was pricing the book, as it depends on volumes I publish, and demand. There were a lot of variables at play, and wanted to be sure I wasn't put too far out of pocket, but at the same time didn't profit from the experience as that didn't feel right.

Enter an organisation called Soften the Fck Up. A group whose objective is to drop the male bravado when it comes to talking about not feeling okay, and bring down the rate of suicide - its the leading cause of death for adult males under 44 in Australia.

As can be read in Being Bi-Bi, it's an issue close to my heart, and any extra funds I raise from publishing the book will be going to this group.

Results have been very promising, and within the last week, we've managed to raise over $1,300 to help the book along and help this organisation. And that's something this writer can be proud about.

13 August, 2012

You've Got This

I got this.

I've been bandying it around a lot lately. And it's fun to say. This was my attitude going into the City2Surf, a 14km race from Sydney's CBD to its coast. I'd never run that far before without stopping. What sort of brazen confidence was this? I'd say a few things helped inform it along the way.

  • Listening to People
Oddly enough, when people tell you things, they generally have your best interests at heart, and this was the case when I announced the bet to lose 20kgs.One particular member called me out on my use of the words "I hope". They said:
Don't "hope" for it, fucking work for it. You're an intelligent person Marshy, so don't let stupid food choices win. This time, make it a permanent lifestyle change so that there's no 4th try. Don't prove it to ITM, prove it to yourself.

EVERYDAY: eat clean food, train hard, sleep, and repeat.

It can be done. 
 The words resonated, as they should. The member calling me out achieved this transformation. Abosolutely awe-inpspiring.
  • Training
You just fucking do it. There's no excuses. You make time. I've spent years looking for shortcuts, accelerating programs and burning out too fast, applying new theories to do anything but train. I get angry at old me just thinking about my old excuses. You find what works for you and you run with it. It's not meant to be easy, but it's not meant to make you hate yourself either. Once you start, they say 21 days is how long it takes to be formed. I don't know about that, but the thought of not running seems like a really, really stupid idea now. As does not logging what I eat, which is next.
  • Look at what goes in your mouth

I hate diets. I really do. The concept of doing something radically different to your normal habits in some sort of sustainable manner does not make sense. They work for some people, but not for me. For my situation, I didn't need a diet, I needed a transformation. My habits were already terrible and I needed to make myself accountable to myself and learn along the way. The only way that seems to work for me is by tracking everything that goes in my mouth. And that's what I do.

Yep, I'm commenting on my own achievements

I don't envisage me doing this forever, but until I know enough to know when I can spoil myself and when I can't, I'm going to keep on loggin'.

And you do this every day. Every fucking day.
Then days like the City2Surf come up, and you get to wear a medal.

Look at me, I got a medal

I'm not there yet. And I don't think I ever will be, because I'll just keep shifting those goal posts.

You've got this.

02 August, 2012

Being Bi-Bi: A call-to-arms

A lot changes in two weeks.

I blogged about new intentions then. I wanted to reframe my endeavours, but I think even then, I was still a little lost.

That changed last Thursday on the 26th July this year.
I'd been exploring options, looking at where I could apply myself outside work, and the answer was staring me in the face.

The meeting was by chance, I'd mentioned on Facebook that I was looking at an MBA and whether people had any experiences with this kind of degree. A friend-of-a-friend shared a few thoughts, and I decided I should pick their brains over coffee.

So the night came along, the coffee turned into an after-work soda water, and I put it on the table.

I said I want to do something entrepreneurial. I said I've got business ideas that I want to execute on. I said I want to make a difference.

They probed, did I really? What's driving me? Don't I have a book I'm trying to publish?

Things snowballed. There was a twinkle in their eye that suggested I could do this. What was holding me back? I threw up a list of pathetic excuses. All of which were shot down. It's the time for action. This is the business I've been looking at.

We brainstormed.
And to be honest, since then the ideas have not stopped flowing.

I have registered Being Bi-Bi - the site with which I will promote my book. I started talking about it with people. I got in touch with a photographer friend for visuals. I started writing out a plan for finishing the book, building out the site, and for marketing the shit out of it.

There'll be more to it than this page when I'm done with this

This will work. I've effectively been a digital marketer for four years and it's time to practice what I preach. I'm throwing everything at this. There will be no kitchen sink left.

And I'll be blogging about the experience (naturally).

Check out this site I have for planning and sourcing help, I'm currently after a mentor/coach but there will be lots of other things.

And what do I hope to achieve? Any money from the proceeds will go to Soften The Fck Up - an organisation I believe in, and if you don't you should watch this video and try not to be moved.

It's coming. And no stone will be left unturned.

17 July, 2012

The Rise and Rise of Crowdfunding (and How My Book Will be Published)

A while ago I visited the Emerging Writer's Festival in Melbourne. I blogged about my experience here and took copious notes about the experience here. I revisited my notes about the festival the other day after a friend said they saw me on television, and sure enough there I was:

Asking the tough questions, with Marshwah (Source: ABC)

But that wasn't the only experience that piqued my interest, in fact, there was a session even more critical to the book than addressing Tough Topics. And this was to do with something I hadn't heard before, it was to do with crowdfunding.

What is crowdfunding? I hear you ask. At its essence, it's sourcing funds for a project from the public. But more importantly, it's democratising projects that deserve to be realised.

There are sites out there such as Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, that are international. But at the Festival I heard about an Australian site, Pozible that's doing really, really well and going toe-to-toe with these big names. 

Rather than just support large-scale commercial projects, the site is doing its bit to support those in the arts as well. At the conference I heard about Kate Toon, and how she raised funds for her book of poems. The story was inspiring, and I jotted down an idea, but I'll come back to that.

Some of the other projects that Pozible's helped that have caught my attention include:
  1. Patient 0 - an IRL zombie first-person shooter concept that is going to get off the ground and be realised.
  2. reallybigroadtrip - lady that works in the digital arts who wanted to travel around Australia in a bus and spread digital culture - she was halfway with 40 hours to go and then romped it in - she even received a tweet from Hugh Jackman supporting the cause!
  3. Soften The F*** Up - a campaign that's now 80% there and that I contributed to, looking to help prevent suicide in young males.

Pretty inspirational stuff right?
What's my idea then?

Well, it's no secret that I want to see my book published. How about crowd-funding production of the book? I'd get manuscript appraisal, an editor, and anyone contributing would receive a book... what's that? How would I publish the book? With Blurb of course.

Blurb is another site I heard about at the Festival, essentially it lets you self-publish for a nominal fee and no minimum on the amount of books published.

I'm still wrapping my head around the finer details and logistics of the thing, but rather than rely on gatekeepers, agents, and publishers, I can empower myself and get this thing done. That's what I love about the crowd-funding concept, it really is helping realise dreams.

You don't think it's possible? I dipped my toes in the water on that forum I frequent and mentioned I'm looking to get into crowd-funding, the thread transformed into a proposition that if I could lose 20kg in six months, $800 would go to the book fund. I am well on the way to achieving that.

You call down the thunder, now reap the whirlwhind.

Next steps are to develop the Pozible proposal and send it live, if you've got any tips let us know in the comments. 

16 July, 2012

Life, Writing, Travel, Digital (+Business)

Almost five months ago to the day, I mentioned in my blog that I was looking at repositioning the blog to have a bit more relevance within certain segments. These segments would be related to what I enjoy writing about, and divided up by tags to denote subject topics and make certain areas of my writing more digestible.

So I've divided it up into five segments: life, writing, travel, digital, and business.
I've taken the liberty of trawling through all of my old posts and re-tagging them appropriately.

Here's what each segment is about for the past, present and future.

  • Life - without a doubt, and without shame, my favourite topic to write about is myself. I've been writing since 2001  and oddly enough, most of it has been about me (and probably in the early years, my poor ex-girlfriend). I love to share, and at times overshare, and this propensity to has seen me adopt a policy whereby I don't name or include other people. It's not you, it's me.

    While I love to think that most people would love to read what I e-spew via keyboard, I think it's safe to say that anything with this tag will be written for love (of myself).

  • Writing - almost an extension of myself yet not, my eagerness to get my book published has seen many an entry written conveying my progress (or lack thereof). Needless to say it's a subject close to my heart and will continue to be, and I'll be documenting it's progress here.

  • Travel - so anyone following this for a length of time would have realised that I've become a full-blown travel wanker. I love it so much. I hasten to extol the virtues of travel to passers by on the street and happily show off my ink-splattered passport pages to complete strangers. Maybe it's not quite this bad. But it will be within these electronic pages. You've been warned.

  • Digital - for the foreseeable future in my career, I will eat, shit, live, and breathe digital. I do it for work and I do it for play. It's more entertaining than television for me and I fail to see television getting more innovative at anywhere near the same rate. This excites me immensely. Have you seen this? Or do you follow this? This be the shit that interests me the most and I intend to blog about it a bit more under this label.

  • Business - what's this one doing here? Well, I've recently started laying the foundations for a side-project with a partner in relation to starting our own venture. I really want to document the experience from a broad perspective and share information and findings of my own. There are a tonne of resources out there and I'll cover off some of the ones that have helped me in these infant stages in a future entry.

I'll make some changes to the layout of the blog (hopefully faster than this tagging initiative) and these little blogging adventures will continue rolling along.

26 June, 2012

The Most Epic Trip Ever

I probably didn't build up the holiday enough on this blog, sure I mentioned it as it was about to happen, but to say it was going to be the greatest holiday ever in the history of history probably could have done with a bit more build-up.

Of course, it's easy with hindsight to say that I could have sold the fact that it was going to be ridiculously epic, but believe me, every man and his cat knew I was going on this holiday and that I went in with an agenda for it to be the best thing that's ever happened to me.

It delivered.
It fucking delivered.
It fucking delivered and had extra cheese.

But I didn't experience it in the way I envisaged. I envisaged this ongoing, perpetual high that only improved as time progressed and was more akin to travel I'd done in places like Asia.

The fact was, I'd only done Asia, and the fact was, I'd done it predominantly solo.

This trip was different: it was longer, not in Asia, and was in a group. Boy, did I learn the latter was a game-changer very quickly. But we'll come back to that, I think we'll commence with something that sets itself up... let's start with the bet.

I even make this look like an effort, that will change, soon

The bet was an undertaking whereby I wanted to move 20kg in six months, I started it just prior to going on holiday. Do not doubt for a second that I'm serious about this endeavour, but also don't doubt for a second that I'm not going to let it obscure my holiday in Europe for the first time. Actually, come to think of it, starting off with the bet is a shit way to get this story started. Sure, it needs to be acknowledged, but we need to kick this shit off with a motherfucking rainbow...

Here be a motherfucking rainbow

Rainbows are great, and I'd liken it to my trip with a clever analogy, but I can't be fucked right now and we'll probably park that for now until I drop it like a bomb at the end of this tale and you realise you forgot about it and I'm all like hey, I be a clever writer.

The shot of the rainbow was taken just before my trip to Europe, I'd moved back to Sydney from Singapore and was in this bizarre twilight zone where I was settling back in Australia but not. I checked out a few places to live, acquainted myself with some of my best friends, and basically hinted at the fact that my life was going to get ten times more awesome than theirs in the coming month. If you're one of those friends reading this currently and wondering if I actually delivered on this promise, then suck shit - it was actually 20 times more awesome than you could possibly envisaged, except a friend I won't mention, he left me this heartfelt message on Facebook the day I left:
Oi. Have a fucking incredible trip cunt. Awesome seeing you the other night, and good having you back in the country for good this time. I missed you while you were in Singapore. Stay safe, but also smash the fuck out of it on your holiday.
I love my friends.

But where were we? Oh yeah I was about to commence my holiday. I jumped on the plane, hit up my tablet and finally got why Breaking Bad is considered good television, and chatted to an old grandmother from Scotland. Oh wait I blogged about that. And eventually I hit.

First stop : London

If you're a new reader to this blog, you won't know this, unless you know me in the flesh, then you will definitely know this. I plan to be in one of three cities in the next 18 months: London, New York, or San Francisco.

I cannot stop crapping on about my plans and I'm now getting categorical eye-rolls from my friends whenever I mention them, rest assured though you non-sympathetic bottom-dredgers, I will deliver on my plan.

But I digress, the point I was trying to make was that London wasn't high-up on the expectations list. I have friends there and all, but if I'm eventually going to move there anyway what's the point in getting excited about it?

Boy did I get proved wrong. In world record speed (I daresay even faster than my first foray into Chiang Mai), I was crapping on about the textures of the city, appreciating its public transport system, and reveling in the fact there were people in the pubs, all the goddamn time!

I fell in love. I finally understood why half of Australia goes there. I even soaked up some of the sights.

Normally I caption each photo, but I think you get the general theme here

The people blew me away. All of my Australian acquaintances welcomed me with open arms. They asked questions such as 'when are you moving here?', 'you alright?' and 'can you father my children'?*

I spent six days there, working in the Google London office for three of them. The work made it a bit of an intermission, but oh my, what an intermission it was. I love London, and it's really thrown a spanner in the works for San Fran's and New York's hopes, but it was just the beginning, and each trip needs a middle, a hearty middle nestled within Spain.

Second stop : Barcelona

Oh my, what a fantastic nose you have

The first real thing we remember about getting there, was being told to watch my bags as I was a target. It wasn't a warm welcome. But that element of danger boded well for the adventurous occasions that ensued.

By jove, I have never, and probably will never, party as hard as I did in Barcelona.

Going there for Sonar Festival was incidental, it was the parties off the festival that made the trip so worth it. Riddle me this:
This was just warming up, that's right, the sun was shining and the tunes were belting

Picture this. Three of your best friends, a pumping dancefloor, trollied off your nut, listening to an up-and-coming DJ/Producer, and then John Paul Young's Love is in the Air comes on. Can you picture the magic that went down at that particular moment? Can you imagine 500 sweaty people singing in unison to one of the cheesiest Australian songs ever in the history of the world being played 25 years later on the other side of the earth? And then hearing tune of the European Summer being dropped immediately thereafter?

It's pretty hard to articulate, but man, you wish you were there.

That was near the beginning. And it was a party we weren't even originally going to attend. And there were at least 20 similar parties going on that week. And... hey, I don't even want to sell it to you, more room for me to boogie next year.

Other things happened, including seeing Derrick Carter in a club, Richie Hawtin at a street festival, and then going to the best party in the universe.

Derrick is the black blob to the left, I'm the blob in the middle

Panorama of the best party of the year, Minus @ The Boo Beach Club, Barcelona... what a GREAT DAY

Barcelona absolutely rocked my socks, I partied like I'd never partied before, and enjoyed the shit out the tapas culture as well.

How could you not enjoy the shit out of this?

But whereas Deadmau5 is content to fax the next destination, I was going for gold, I was headed to...

Third stop : Berlin

There is not a single person in my friendship circle that doesn't think Berlin is where it's at. And now I get why. It totally owns, where London had the element of surprise, and Barcelona had the element of party-ness (I just made that word up), Berlin had completeness. It was the entire package, and I even took in the sights this time, more so than the other cities.

I believe this square is composed of rich mahogany, and the archway was once a resting port for breaching whales, yes, I'm quite sure I'm right

I checked out the Holocaust museum, wow, after a week of partying in Barcelona that was a lot to handle. I'm glad I went, but you could feel how overwhelming the tragedy was less-than-a-lifetime ago. But you know me, I like to keep things light, and I kept it gangster by saying bo selecta...

The Marshful Dodger

I took the most photos in Berlin. And I'm not even a photographer. We had a great mixture of company, schnitzels, broken weather, and just a dash of partying. And while I'm throwing around a lot of "of the years" here's another one. I went to the concert of the year (for me). I got to see New Order, a band I've long idolised post-high-school, and who helped me through some really crap times. My friend had arranged tickets to see them on Thursday night in Berlin and they did not disappoint.
I should have stolen this poster as a souvenir

While I consider myself articulate, describing what went down at that concert from an emotional perspective is difficult. I had built them up in my head so much that I doubt they would ever transcend the lofty heights in which I had placed them, but even taking that into consideration they still blew me away. Hearing Crystal live was always going to be underwhelming. It's a very slickly produced track, but as I cried and cheered and absorbed it definitely brought a sense of closure to what has been an integral part of my story.
New Order playing Regret in Berlin

Hearing Regret - a song with a huge history between me and one of my mates was special, and then when Bizarre Love Triangle came on I peaked, and there was many a joyous hug. I'm kind of disappointed I didn't lose my voice, but I gave it a good nudge.

With all this happening, a normal person would be content to let the holiday peter out, and call it stumps. But, ladies and gentlemen, we be entering the bonus round...

Bonus round : Amsterdam

Initially, I was of the opinion that including another city in this sojourn was over-ambitious, and should best be put at back of mind, but after chatting with friends and experiencing group-holiday-politics for the first time, I booked a last-minute trip to Amsterdam for the night to go to Defqon.1 - a hardstyle (and other genres) festival that was not for the faint of heart.

After everything that had happened leading up to this, I was wondering if I had bitten off more than I could chew. After all - who wants to push their luck when they're clearly #winning already?

Well, what an epic show. The only artist I knew on the line-up was Scot Project - not only did he deliver - but the dozens of unknowns that I also encountered delivered as well. The vibe was amazing. My approach was to embrace the experience and take it for what it was, a bit of long-distance fun with one of my closest friends.

It was the right approach. 

Juxtapose the trip there:
Boring town

With the most amazing visual experience I've ever encountered:

This be the mind-blowing shit

It wasn't all apples

Now all I've done is spout positivity, despite hinting at the fact that the trip didn't enjoy ideal group dynamics at the start of this entry.

There was some lowlights, they included:
  • Losing my debit card to an ATM and being without cash for five days
  • Quickly realising that group-travel isn't harmonious and utopian
  • Spending unnecessary amounts of money on things I didn't need
  • Realising that Defqon was a very, very expensive cab ride away from our hotel
  • Fighting with one of my best friends over complete crap
But do you know what? It was the motherfucking best holiday I've ever had. And then some. I'm actually welling up now as I type this at an Irish bar in Singapore and realising that it's over. 

This is where I throwback to the rainbow.

Be ready for me to drop an epic conclusion
A rainbow is a colourful journey between two points. The beginning is filled with expectation, and the ending is a wonderful reflection. But to get that magical reflection you need rain, for without rain the rainbow doesn't exist at all. I'm thankful it rained, because without it I would not have this fantastic thing that just happened to reflect upon.

And for that, I thank all who were involved.

You could have said love was in the air. And with that I leave you with the most magical moment that happened on this trip. Naturally in Berlin, naturally with some of my best pals:

*Names will not be named.

19 June, 2012

Revelling in Geekery

"The best thing about being an adult, is you can do what you want, when you want".

Words from my former stepfather. I used to hate it when he'd tell us that as kids, and thought there was no way I would ever embrace this kind of attitude when I finally became an adult.

Yet 20 years later, here I am opening with this very quote.

Mid high-school I struggled. I was a target for bullies and my fondness for computer games and miniature war figurines didn't exactly endear me to the cool kids. Now I'm in a regional role at one of the best companies in the world and getting paid to embrace my love of all things outright geek.

That's right baby, we're getting our geek on.

Now I'm not saying I didn't enjoy my childhood, I had a fucking great time. But now I can do what I want, when I want, and no longer worry that Nick Evans is going to shove me into a locker and break my arm again, or that Ben Joske is going to kick away my basketball. Douche bags... look at me now!

That's right bitches, the face of success

But I stray from the point, which is to revel in geekery unashamedly. Sure I'm a nerd, but I make it look fucking cool.

Some of my favourite geek moments:
  • Wake up, reach for my tablet, which is connected to my eee PC, and play techno on YouTube on the computer that has the speakers connected. It's pretty boss.
  • Being ingenious with existing technologies. I remember altering my Sega Lock-On's by taping plastic over the barrel, and drilling holes in the centre for more emphasis on accuracy rather than the wide-range they originally shot at.

Yeah baby, they were the duck's pyjamas

  • MacGuyver-ing that shit. When I couldn't charge my Asus eeePad I visited some forums and discovered that you could fix the charger by putting it in a freezer. Not having one on me in an airport in Chiang Mai, I drank my iced tea and deposited the charger battery in some ice. The result was gleefully exclaimed in this G+ post.
There are of course, many more glorious moments such as this. My point being that where once upon a time I'd try and mask these incidents so as not to look like a geek - are now moments I happily celebrate and revel in. I may have even just broadcasted them on the Internet. It's cool being an adult. You can do what you want when you want.

16 June, 2012

The Rise of the Anti-Troll

"Lol faggot".
It's a pretty tough world out there for the average Internet dweller trying to be heard, after all, manifestations of this kind of stuff appear all the time in the online world. Imagine if you were a spring chicken to this kind of stuff, and were instantly hated for doing something innocent?

Fortunately or unfortunately, most people are familiar with dealing with trolls to some extent. We all come to the Internet a little wary, and just put it down to it being a thing. A thing that you shrug off and put it down to its own nature.
Nice try. Catch. Whatevs.

What I've noticed lately is that the anti-troll is emerging, and it's a force to be reckoned with. The anti-troll is a champion for all that is good, and uses the powers of the Internet to get people back who deserve it (park the term 'deserve' for now, I'll come back to it).

A troll getting what's coming to them

You don't know what I'm talking about? Check out these examples:
  • Infamous Singaporean blogger XiaXue delivered an epic smackdown of some outspoken Facebook trolls. The post, called The Faces of Haters is a great read and an indicator of how times are changing. No longer are the haters faceless. With anonymity slowly fading away, even the most amateur cyber-sleuth can deduce, name and shame. The reaction brought news and media attention.
  • It's not restricted to online. Another great example is PennyArcade Versus Ocean Marketing. If you don't have the time to read the article, the long and short of it is, mid-tier marketer shits on young guy, young guy escalates to a bastion of glorified geekery, mid-tier marketer's life and career = destroyed.
  • And the latest actually brought a tear to my eye (I may be a little fragile from long nights in Barcelona), a ruthless copy-cat site called FunnyJunk (I feel dirty linking that) bit off more than it could chew when it decided to file a lawsuit against The Oatmeal. An Internet superhero and all-round nice guy to boot. As if his letter calling them out isn't amusing enough, Matt Inman (creator of The Oatmeal) decided to crowd-fund $20k to flout their stupidity, and donate the proceeds to charity. At last count with 10 days to go, Inman has raised over $170k, taking the Internet and using it's powers for good.
Remember that thing we parked? People who deserve it? Some of these people mentioned in the examples have suffered some very fiery wrath, and observed the full force of the Internet at their doorsteps, and sometimes, you can't help but feel a little pity.

But only a little.

There are a lot of Internet bad guys out there and they need to be quelled. Anti-trolls are heroes, and have the courage to stand up to these guys and give them a taste of their own medicine, I'm not saying it's a perfect method for justice, but until one comes about I'll be standing up and applauding stories such as these and secretly doing a fist-pump from behind my keyboard.

Internet justice - fuck yeah!

So having said that. I'm just going to place this here, they're a regular that crops up in my blog comments every now and then with posts such as these:

I'm pretty good at dealing with shit. You're on notice you prick. You'll slip up one day and will receive a smackdown to rival all smackdowns. You've been warned.

Buenos dias!

08 June, 2012

In for the Long Haul

I've been sitting on the longest flight I've ever flown. London is less than two hours away. I'm sitting next to a grandma from Scotland. I'm listening to a 2005 King Unique set recorded live. I'm sipping a scotch and diet Coke. Everything is how I want it to be. This is what travel's about.

Man, I'm sure I've mentioned my upcoming holiday on the blog right? My oft-updated blog? No?

Well colour me pink with a rusty crowbar, it's the journey of a lifetime and in the words of Deborah Conway - it's only the beginning.

Starting today I've embarked on an 18-day tour of Europe. Home of The Final Countdown. Maybe.

This trip has been in the works for a long time. In fact, in recent years, this has been the longest I've delayed gratification. I booked it in February, and the planning started at the very least by October last year, probably earlier. It's the holiday I've been wanting to happen since I was 15. For those of you playing at home, that was 13 years ago.

Sure, some circumstances have been out of my control, but it was time to take command of my destiny and do it. Stand back guys, I got this.

My prose may be floating around a bit and for that I apologise, I think I've racked up half a dozen beverages, thank you very much. Although, it's been diluted over a 13-hour flight, so I'll have to make up for that when I visit my friend and visit a ye olde English pub.

The timing is pretty good for a celebration. I got shortlisted for the B&T 30 Under 30 this week. I'm absolutely blown away by it and very pleased to even be considered for such recognition. The fact I get to share the accolade with a friend and former colleague is humbling, as well. Well done Sam.

The final 30 is announced at an industry event I've been invited to on the 18th July. Amazing. Looking forward to attending that one and donning some fine clothes let me tell you!

So where am I going besides London. Well, I think we've planned this pretty well. We have six days in London, six days in Barcelona for Sonar Festival, and then six more days in Berlin before returning to Singapore, and eventually Sydney.

And what's it like being back? Bloody fantastic I tell you. I couldn't be happier with the result and it's been a privilege to rekindle friendships back home with company I love and enjoy. The travel bug has firmly taken hold and I don't think I'll be in Australia for the long-term, but for now it's heartwarming and just what I desired. I wouldn't say I was unhappy in Singapore, it's just made me realise how much I love Australia. Watch this space and mark my words, one day I'll be buying property in Williamstown, a suburb just west of Melbourne. Mark them well. One day...

Dreams are made to be realised. And I'm pursuing and realising another one today. Seriously, I'm one of the luckiest people in the world to be able to do what I do. The fact that things looked a bit more bleak six to seven years ago only makes it all the more sweeter.

And I'm writing a story to tell you about it. I know, I know. The book is almost a vapour-tale, but I really think that dream will be realised within the year. I attended the Emerging Writers Festival in Melbourne a couple of weeks ago, and between that and this holiday, things are looking like they will be delivered upon.

Speaking of special deliveries. Oops, I did it again. Yep, I've ordered a special delivery for 20 kilos to be extricated from my body. Third time lucky, only luck has nothing to do with it. It will be discipline and hard work this time around. And yes, I realised the irony of saying that while boozed up on a holiday to Europe... It's unfortunate timing but it just means I'll have to work extra hard when I get back. There's a lot more riding on it this time and failure is not an option. Australian Summer, ladies, gents, and potential lover-partners, you've been warned.

Sayonara bitches, I've got a holiday to attend to. They say that in Europe right?

P.S. Things I would have tweeted if I had Internet access this flight:
Holy shit there's a city in Europe called Dresden?
Where the alcohol at?
Man, I've been a hater, but Breaking Bad has been pretty compelling.
I'm so excited I'm about to piss my pants, and I wish I could to replace this warm satisfaction I'm feeling.

28 May, 2012

#EWF12 - Emerging Writer's Festival Conference

The Emerging Writer's Festival caught my attention while on Twitter. I was browsing a smart-arse's tweets, and he tweeted @EmergingWritersFest something along the lines of "aren't you guys already emerged?"

It piqued my interest and I started investigating. The well-thought-out site was easy enough to follow, and after seeing that the conference was on a weekend, in Melbourne, and I had money in my bank account, I decided to book and take the plunge.

And what a great decision it was.

The festival was just what I needed, needed really bad. It's no secret that I've struggled in the last couple of years with my book, and it was time to either escalate things or give up. Fortunately I went with the former, and the latter seems completely foreign to me now.

A consistently echoed theme from the conference was to "take the path less travelled" and now I feel like hacking my own path up with a machete - proverbial of course.

The conference was laid out in an easy-to-follow, two-day program, and after some study of the program, I opted to go to the sessions: Seven Enviable Lines, Tough Topics, Structure, Cross Platform on the first day, and Crowdfunding, Self-Publishing, Digital Writing, and Building an Audience on the second day.

I took copious notes, and have taken the liberty of uploading them to an open Google Document that can be found here.

Overall it was a fantastic experience, and has given me a lot of food for thought. I'm very certain the book will be published this year now, more to come.

03 May, 2012

My Toughest Musical Break-up (Gabriel & Dresden)

I've had something preying on my mind for a while now. I've had it on my list-of-things-to-blog-about, but I start tapping away at the keyboard and then all I see is rage and disappointment. This entry will be no better, but at least I've now made peace with that.

I'll tell you what I haven't made peace with: Gabriel & Dresden playing Skrillex.
It kills me.

I don't know where to start.

For one, I'm not close-minded about dubstep. I actually quite enjoyed it for a while, you know, when it was good. I'm not just saying that either. I saw Skream twice on his Melbourne debut in 2006, and even managed to get a shitty photo with him when he was playing at Lounge.

Wow, I had a lot of hair back then.

I followed the style for a while, until a few years later I saw Skream again at Hi-Fi, where equipment troubles stopped it from being a top night. My interest faded completely by 2010, where a gig at the Gaelic became a rewind-fest. Some people loved it and lapped it up. Me not so much.

My point being, unlike many people, I'm not a blind hater and gave dubstep a go.

Let's park that for now.

Now Gabriel & Dresden. My word, what an outstanding duo. I discovered them by accident. I was on a DJ mix site, and was searching for New Order live sets. To do this, I'd load up the page, press Ctrl + F and type in 'New Order' - cycling past all the mentions of Blue Monday and finally coming across this bizarre set list. It was Gabriel & Dresden's 2005 San Diego set. And among the last few tracks they played, was a remix of one of my favourite New Order tracks: 'Someone Like You'.

I downloaded the set out of curiosity, and fast-forwarded towards the end, and the track sounded completely different. In a good way. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I gave the whole set a listen. And really enjoyed it. Yep, even the Groove Is in the Heart remix.

I had to download more of their sets, and did. I probably went a bit crazy with how much I got into them actually. For the benefits of this blog post, I just did a count of how many sets I downloaded and listened to.
The answer it seems, is a fuckload.

And the love affair continued. I would listen to them over and over. I could tell you that their mash-up of Timo Maas's Shifter into their Someone Like You remix was a work of art, that I loved their 2nd Essential Mix just as much as their first one for playing Dirty South's 'It's Too Late' remix, and further, I could tell you that my favourite sets usually came from their Organized Nature radio show.

Sadly, they didn't make it to Australia after I had got into them. They broke up. These things happen. I always dreamed of course. That one day they'd put their differences aside and reform.

Meanwhile, my life continued. I would play their sets at recovery parties. So much so, that one of my good friends, perhaps in a slightly intoxicated state and listening to Jaytech (another brilliant progressive house DJ), famously announced to the group: "I know this is Gabriel & Dresden, but what is it?"

There were other amusing moments. I remember being at a gig with some of my best friends, seeing Way Out West for the first time at Tank, Sydney, and hearing them play Mindcircus. I lost my shit. I jumped up and down. I yelled and whooped and pointed out that Gabriel & Dresden had played this. I was wrong. (They'd remixed it). But that was beside the point. Anything that referenced these guys was gold. In my ears anyway.

Then the move to Singapore came and I was swept away in realising my dream of going overseas. For approximately one day. Then Gabriel & Dresden not only had reunited, but were coming to Australia after I leave.

You could not have scripted a bigger fuck-up. Needless to say I was shattered.

I got my life together, and moped my way through Singapore. I got to see Richard Durand, Markus Schulz and James Zabiela in those early months. But it wasn't Gabriel & Dresden.

Until I checked the Zouk line-up around June. I was in a quiet office back then. It did not stop me doing a jig and collectively lose my shit on social media. I was still new to the country, but sent out an impassioned email to my newly met acquaintances about the Second Coming.

Hey guys,

I know this could be, something I remember in my head…
As someone that has been in touch with me you might be vaguely aware of my obsession with one of the greatest DJ/Production duos on the planet: Gabriel & Dresden. These guys are my number one, they broke up in 2008 and I never thought I’d ever get a chance to see them live. Here are some quick facts about how much I love them:

·         Their first remix was of one of my favourite New Order tracks – I have a New Order track tattooed to my left arm
·         I have 4GB of every set of theirs I have been able to download, this is about 70 hours of DJing
·         I cried at the Armin Van Buuren party when he dropped Zocalo ( I later discovered this was produced with Gabriel & Dresden
·         They reunited this year, and the day after I discovered I was moving to Singapore, they announced they were coming to Australia – it prompted this reaction from me on Facebook: 
   Yesterday's rejoicing about a move to Singapore has been soured by the news that the greatest production/DJ duo OF ALL TIME are playing in Sydney, on April 30th. I hate you, Gabriel & Dresden, I hate you with the power of a thousand suns.
·         And I could go on…

But the stars have aligned and now they are playing at Zouk Singapore tomorrow evening.
Naturally I’m excited, naturally I’m attending.

I know barely any of you like “club” music, and aren’t fond of late nights, but if you’re keen to join a drooling fan boy having the time of his life you’re more than welcome to join.

So it was set, a group of pals came along and I got to see DJ Gods in action.

Hearing a rejigged version of Mindcircus, and getting blasted with an ice-cannon while the vocalist belts out "falling" will always be etched in my memory as one of the greatest moments in my history of ever. But then something happened.

They played a dubstep track.

It completely floored me. I didn't see this coming. Why would they stoop to this level? Why? After mastering pop-progressive house, why, why would you go and do something like that?

I didn't last till the end. Their tweet: we played 40 minutes of our classics at the end, only rubbed salt into an irreparable wound.

Some of you reading this would have already seen the writing on the wall a long time ago. They played a Groove is in the Heart remix? Dirty South you say? What the fuck did you think these flavour-of-the-month specialists were going to play when the dubstep party came to town?

So that's why it's my toughest musical break-up. They haven't changed. They were always playing what's popular to a degree. But I draw the line, however superficial that may be, at playing that maligned genre.

As a famous anonymous DJ said:
I may be a cunt,
But I'm not a cunt that plays dubstep.
Rest in peace Gabriel & Dresden.