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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.

24 June, 2013

I'm Going to Learn a Language

So I have a new project

For those of you who have followed our ramblings for a while, it will come to no surprise that I go through spurts of creativity. Some of these spurts of creativity have tangible outcomes, like a self-published book for example. Other projects start to lift off the ground, and I tire of them quite quickly, as written in my last entry for the The Crowdfund Coach.

I've been big on self-development and mentioned wanting to learn a language at the start of the year. I was deliberately vague about what kind of language as I didn't want to restrict myself.

After acquiring some DJ gear from my good friend Jimmy (he sold it to help fund his overseas adventure). I've been learning how to mix. Seven recorded mixes later, I realise I have a shitload to learn and am relishing the challenge.

My gear
And my Soundcloud can be found here:

Things are going to start off messy

As much as I enjoy DJing (and consider it a language). I think it's a bit of a cop-out to simply stop there. So indulge us in another tangent. I've been considering study again. I've been really encouraged by what's available on Open Universities Australia but don't want to commit to study if I don't have the discipline. Even with FEE-HELP it's an expensive enterprise and I want to be sure that I'm doing it for the right reasons. Courses that interest me include Masters degrees in IT, Design, and even going for an MBA, but I need to be sure that I can go all the way.

So I ended up writing a list of things that have been interesting me lately, this included:

  • design
  • API hacking
  • emerging technology
  • data visualisation
  • social
  • learning more about mobile

What this buzzy-like terminology told me, is that I need to learn more about coding.

It's not easy, mate

That is some of the appeal. If I can't dedicate myself to this for six months, what hope do I have for completing a Masters degree in two or three years time? So I started gathering information under a new project tab, and storing it in my Evernote.

I uncovered a number of resources and am assembling it all while trying to avoid information overload. The literature I've started reading includes: Codecademy, HackDesign, Project Euler, a teach-yourself-guide from Lifehacker, and a more structured 'night course' from the same name.

I've also downloaded two programming languages: Python and Processing. The former is mean to be pretty fast and good for getting you familiar with the right kinds of logic, the latter is a good language for designers and is open source. Also, my very limited understanding from what I've read thus far tells me that it doesn't really matter which languages you learn first - it's more the theory and concepts.

My first task

Was a course on Codecademy on Web Fundamentals and got me familiar with the very basics of HTML. Feeling inspired, I decided to write this entry in HTML. This should get me used to the effort involved and what I can and can't do.

So it begins :)

04 June, 2013

Downloading and Self-Righteously Posing

There's been a few things going on in my life lately, and I'm going to simply list them. To make it slightly more interesting I'm going to give each a snappy-ish headline, and bullet points. Because everybody loves a good bullet point.

Not much of a start-up
  • My interest in TheCrowdfundCoach has waned since announcing it in this blog entry. My only excuse? Life got in the way. And hustling to get a side-project up-to-something you're happy with is a lot harder when it does. I really liked the idea, and even had a chance to discuss it with a crowdfunding site founder last week, but I think it's a shade removed from my skill-set and interests. 

On a whim, I brainstormed my passions and came up with something, now it's time to cross it off the list and try again
  • I did learn a bit about setting up a website on my own and the effort it takes, how to get traffic, and avoiding getting swept up by the process before you invest too much money (say, in logo design) and many more things. I now have another project I'm working on and intend to spend a bit more time with it, I'm going to re-use the URL and redesign my site accordingly (and maybe hold off on logo design until it's necessary ;)
TED talks don't completely suck 

  • I really enjoyed this one on 30 not being the new 20. I stumbled upon it while watching random YouTubes and cast my prejudices aside based exclusively on the snappy title and the fact my 30th birthday is rapidly approaching. I was glad I watched it. And if you're a 20-something going through some sort of drama at the moment, I recommend you do too.
  • I also enjoyed this one that I watched directly after on lie-spotting - the advice was practical and the examples used were very telling. On the back of the strength of this talk I went ahead and fed my Kindle addiction, and purchased her book.
There are a shitload of books on my to-read list
  • I've added to this list more than I've subtracted from it. Which is problematic because if I had to graph my purchases versus actual reading, it might look like this.
It's been a while since I've been a digital media account-coordinator that produces graphical gold it would seem

  • But, I still revel in how important it is. The more I consume the smarter I feel, and I just need to hustle and take that habit back.
I booked a trip to New York
  • I haven't checked my list in a while, but I'm pretty sure that was on there and I booked it. So yeah. That's happening. Next to Europe - it's been a lifelong dream to hit that city and hit it I shall. I'm booked for two weeks in September and will be tapping into my contacts while I'm over there - you've been warned!
  • As mentioned back in my list, I'll be scoping the place out. I really want to get over there and won't be satisfied until I've checked it out and sated my curiosity. I've got a feeling I'm kidding myself.
Miscellaneous musings
  • I'm getting pretty damn good at running. I ran a half-marathon in Sydney recently that was under 99 minutes. That's damn fast I think.
Is it the shoes?
  • Growing a beard has been an interesting life-lesson. I grew it as I have new fitness goals, but the change in look has made me re-evaluate things in all sorts of life spill-over. It's quite the compliment magnet!
That's it for this entry, I've been honest enough. Here's one last picture of us rocking a hoodie and beard AT THE SAME TIME.

That's right reverse mirror text, they will

Rock out.

05 May, 2013

Building something new: TheCrowdfundCoach

This seems as good a way to go about it as any

As you might have picked up from my occasional blog entry, I'm big on downloading my thoughts, voicing my plans, and then slowly edging towards them.

Last year I wanted to see Europe, publish my book, and lose 20 kgs. This year I've set new goals and am progressing towards them at a slow and deliberate pace. In a bid to achieve these goals I've been reading, chatting and researching ways in which I can get there.

A few things I've learned over the past couple of months as I've been in info-gathering-mode:

  • There's a lot of information out there
  • It's a lot to take in and it is hard to filter out the stuff you don't need
  • The fastest way to learn is to do

So I've been doing where I can. I attended the Sydney LeanStartupMachine weekend a few weeks ago on a hunch and a desire to explore an idea I was thrashing out. That weekend I pitched my idea unsuccessfully, worked with a guy that successfully pitched his, and the proceeded to try and execute that idea within the weekend and failed pretty good.

In the end the idea didn't matter, nor did mine, but it was a pretty good taster for what I need to do and continue doing: fail, learn, repeat.

So with that newfound appreciation of failing, I decided to go ahead and build the idea I unsuccessfully pitched at the event:

Last year working on and releasing my memoir was a huge lesson in what you can and can't do in launching an idea. It also had me super-excited about what doors were opened via a platform that excited me like crowdfunding. I wanted to combine the two - by launching another idea and playing in a space that I'm interested in.

What's are you offering?
Currently I'm offering consultancy hours on how to successfully run a crowdfunding campaign.

What's in it for me?
Ever had an idea that required money? I'm helping you get there with what I learned, an appraisal of your idea, and some honest tips on how you can improve that idea.

What's in it for you?
I'm looking to learn as much as I can about what it takes to build something, make it work, and get people to pay for it. In building TheCrowdfundCoach, I expect to learn how to do it, in amongst a lot of failures, mistakes and inefficiencies that can only be picked up by doing it.


So I "soft-launched" a couple of weeks ago. This was hacking together a site via Weebly, crowdsourcing some basic design of a logo and writing some words. There's a shit-tonne of stuff I have to do to get this going and I have a shit-tonne of ideas about how I can grow my customer-base from a big fat zero.

But we've all got to start somewhere. And the important thing is I'm doing it.

10 April, 2013

My Top 10 Places to Eat in Sydney (Inner City)

Something occurred to me today.
As big as I am on food, I've never really imparted information that conveys as such on this blog.

I was putting together some recommendations for some colleagues today and thought I should probably chuck this here as well. Most of this list is quite affordable and it works even better when you go as a large group (minus Almond Bar).

Bon appetit!

Enjoying a brekkie bloody mary

Darley Street Bistro
King St, Newtown (near St Peters Station)
Contemporary Australian with a broad range of food to sample within most price ranges. Predominantly pub fare and contemporary Australian, my favourite with the lamb with mash and haloumi. Consistently good, and is so good at what they do that a chain of them has started.

Haymarket, in Dixon Court
A little gem nestled within Dixon Court, the service station doesn’t look like much. This is the best ramen noodle you can find in Sydney. They use bone marrow for the broth authentic-Japanese style and you really need to prepare yourself if you’re going to heat the whole soup. My favourite is the pork tonkatsu with a chilli bomb.

One of my Sydney favourites in action

Excellent place for group-bookings (book well in advance), if you don’t mind eating a bit later they’ll stick you in a private room without extra charge. This is a touch-screen menu ordering system, and I’m not joking when I say that the food comes instantaneously for most dishes. Not traditional Japanese fare (avoid the pizzas) but for sheer variety alone this is a fantastic place.

Chilli Cha Cha
Move on to the next item in the list if you don’t like spicy food. This is authentic Thai (unlike King St, Newtown). Most dishes will obliterate your taste buds if you’re not prepared. If you do like spicy food - this is one of the best in Sydney. I personally really enjoy the larb moo, but it’s hard to order something that’s not great. There is a chilli scale on the menu, which should be adequate for most foodies (they do spicier on request though).

Yok Yor Thai Food Factory
CBD/Surry Hills
Authentic Thai fare without the spiciness of the above. Really great variety of food (I like the fermented fish) and is BYO and open late. This is often a place I go to after a night on the drink and encourage you to do the same. Also has Thai banana desserts which you won’t find much elsewhere.

Liverpool St, Darlinghurst
Really enjoyable Middle Eastern fare that’s mid-price range. I like to go as a couple and grab a mixed platter that’s very reasonably priced for what you get. Strong range of options and the tabouleh is very fresh. My favourite tip? Skip dessert and head around the corner for gelato at the heaving Messina Darlinghust.

Holy Basil
CBD, inside the Shark Hotel
This is not a restaurant that you’ll find just by stumbling in (the Shark Hotel is a dive). But nestled at the back of this hotel is a restaurant with Laotian cuisine. I’ve never been to Laos, but my friends vouch for it’s authenticity and I find it similar to Thai. You can’t go past the Quail and flattened pork for entrees and every main is a winner. They will ask how spicy you want the dishes (you’ve got to push them for it if you want really spicy) and they are very attentive at refilling your glass of water (you’ll need it for the spicier dishes).

Sea Bay Restaurant
Just near the Civic Hotel is a restaurant that’s great for groups and excellent Chinese cuisine. The place is BYO, affordable, and has just enough variety to warrant returning. We regularly order the pancakes, dumplings (pork and pumpkin), and some greens. The pièce de résistance however is the pepper pork. So deliciously evil that you’ll have your crew fighting over the last piece (and ordering another dish).

This is probably as close as you’re going to get to affordable tapas in Sydney. Bookings are essential as it’s usually pretty busy. Chorizo is a mandatory order, and I really can’t go past the woodfired blue cheese pizza - so good. Caters for larger groups when warned in advance, staff are pretty friendly, and if you feel like making a night of it I recommend getting the extra special Sangria.

O Bal Tan
A place that always seems to be busy, yet always finds room for our group without a booking. Three-levels of Korean BBQ goodness. Safest bets are to get one of the combination platters and wash it down with a Hite. As a larger group we like to extend the experience with a beer tower. Great drunken noshing. I love this place after Friday night drinks.

07 April, 2013

Something's in the Air

I've just got back from a huge week in Las Vegas. Much was learned, much was lost, and I was constantly told not to use the city as a barometer for the rest of the country. Thank goodness - because it was the first time in a long time that I felt overwhelmed in a foreign country.

I still managed to look good., you'll be pleased to know

Prior to departing I read and re-read a blog entry from my friend and mentor, Marie. The entry was called 'For those of you out there and it can be read here. It's a great tale about Marie and how she has succeeded on breaking out of the grind and striking out on her own to do things on her own terms.

I really enjoyed the piece and it set some thoughts in motion regarding my own projects.

With that in mind I did some more reading and came across another piece that I had bookmarked but never got around to absorbing. Chris Guillebeau's A Brief Guide to World Domination - what a piece of work. With the ever-growing proliferation of information available to us, it's even more relevant to us today than it was when it was written.

Chris presides over the notion of non-conformity, and it really resonated with me and my desire to go out and do some epic shit.

A snippet from my expanding list of notes on my 'Virus Project' - a huge idea I want realised one day

The bread-crumb trail continued. I've been reading a lot about notification addiction lately and after being inspired by these two pieces of writing I literally searched for: how to increase your focus. The first result came and I discovered a short article on exactly what I wanted.

The article (and the subsequent book I purchased) are written by Leo Babauta and it was a perfect next-step for me to get a move on. I'm guilty of having too many balls in the air and the book does a great job of stripping down what I need to do in bite-size chunks to increase my efficiency. It's amazing how distracting the Internet, your phone, and others can be.

So I feel like something's in the air.

At the start of the year I listed some things I want to achieve and a quarter in, some are looking easier to achieve than others. Fortunately, I'm beginning to see what tasks I want to prioritise and can morph into something I can be proud of.

In the interim, I'm going to keep focusing, chipping away, and getting in shape.

I've got this.

26 March, 2013

Gotta keep it going, keep it going full steam

After I moved to Sydney, one of my friends flew up from Melbourne to visit, and we hung out for the weekend in what was a very exciting time of my life.

Commencing a new career, the thrill of relocation, making new friends... it was a great time to be alive, and I told this friend that I didn't really see how things could get better. This friend had a few years on me and asserted that I was wrong. Now that he had hit his 30s, he was loving life even more, and that the year just gone was the most exciting.

Given that being really happy and being told you're in for more isn't really a bad thing to have on the horizon. This friend was absolutely right, and next time we catch up I owe him a drink and some commiseration over his ability to predict the future.

Another milestone came about this weekend, for someone very close to me - my little sister's 21st.

She's an amazing individual, and I really enjoyed seeing her celebrate the milestone with friends and family. I'm still glowing, and as I make my way back to Sydney via plane, I can only look back and smile on what was a magical weekend.

I'm going to remember that weekend for some time.

Looking ahead, there's no reason why the good times can't continue. Next week, I travel to Las Vegas for our company's sales conference. It's going to be my first-time in the US and I'm genuinely curious about a place that I feel like I already know thanks to pop culture. The conference itself is on a mind-boggling scale, and I'm unsure whether an opportunity like this will ever come about again. 

Closer to home, or rather replacing my home, is a new one-bedroom I've moved into in Newtown. Location-wise it's perfect and central to both friends and work. I'm really enjoying having a space I can settle into and while I returned to Australia apprehensive about my move back to the homeland, I can safely say that everything seems to be clicking into place.

At the start of the year, I listed a number of challenges that I wanted to achieve and I'm making progress in a slow and assured way. Of most interest to me at the moment is my acquisition of some new DJ equipment - I'd mentioned I want to learn a new language and in a way this is ticking that box. I've got a brand new, increased appreciation of electronic music in ways I didn't think possible, and this new challenge is really enjoyable. You can listen to my latest mixes here - the blending is horrible, but it is a good indicator for what tunes I've been rocking and appreciating.

This year has seen some great sailing, and I'm very fortunate for all the experiences I'm having. Which reminds me of a line from Beastie Boy's Intergalactic, "keep on rapping coz that's my dream". And it is.

Edit (26/03/2013): thanks anonymous for the correction.

14 January, 2013

Books I'm reading and why reading is f***ing important

Last time, I wrote about a book that changed my life.

It was like a catalyst for spurring on a lot of action: some behind the scenes, a fragment of it you see on this page, and the rest you'll see in the future.

I've only just started getting back into reading, and to be honest I'm glad I didn't leave it any longer. What I've missed in the last decade is an absolute explosion of interesting books to read both for fun and personal development (the two aren't mutually exclusive).

So I've got my Kindle and have been purchasing books faster than I can read them. Nick Hornby wrote:
“All the books we own, both read and unread, are the fullest expression of self we have at our disposal. ... But with each passing year, and with each whimsical purchase, our libraries become more and more able to articulate who we are, whether we read the books or not.” (source
Which is all well and good pre-digital. But I can't share that library with anyone, even if they visit my shit-arsed tiny flat, so I've decided to share what I've read, I'm reading and what I intend to read. And maybe that defines me, like Nick Hornby said.

I've read
Before I joined my current employer, a colleague at the time suggested reading this book and I never got around to it. After a while of working there, I was keen to know what my colleague meant. So I gave it a read and it was refreshing to hear a different perspective about the company.

BookThe Start-up of You
Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha
LinkedIn is a company I've admired for the way they've gone about establishing themselves. They've carved out a niche and changed the dynamic with which people can get employed (including me). A senior colleague recommended reading this one and so I did. Co-written by the founder of LinkedIn and his friend, the book gives you a methodical approach to improving the most important startup you're involved in: yourself. I took a lot from this book and can't recommend it enough to people looking to develop both professionally and personally.

BookThe Antidote: Happiness for people who can't stand positive thinking
Oliver Burkeman
I wrote about this last time, needless to say it's pretty awesome (considering I dedicated a blog entry to it).

I'm reading
BookOutthink the Competition: How a New Generation of Strategists Sees Options Others Ignore
Kaihan Krippendorff
I had the pleasure of seeing this guy speak. Work had a business function with some spare tickets and I jumped at the chance. Kalhan was a passionate speaker, and I particularly liked his methodical research of best-practice (and failing) businesses. The book is packed with this kind of information and I'm getting a lot out of it, I particularly like the references to the 36 strategies of ancient Chinese warfare.

I guess this counts as five books. I'm currently plowing through Book Two. It was a bit laborious getting through the first one thanks to seeing the first season of the TV show (which is excellent), but now that I'm on to new stuff (I abstained from watching any more until I got through the books) I'm really enjoying it again. This will take me a while.

BookMade to Stick
Chip Heath, Dan Heath
My last business trip to Tokyo was an inspirational, reinvigorating experience. Another senior colleague recommended reading this book and I insta-purchased on his word. It's early days but I'm loving the style and it's full of practical information on conveying ideas.

I intend to read

I grabbed this one after a drunken conversation with an acquaintance who said it's the best fantasy series he's ever read. The dude works at a library so I grabbed it on his word.

Many years ago I read a PC Powerplay review of a point-and-click adventure game of the same name. The twist of phrase and story really stuck with me, resulting in an anguished high-school blog entry, and a desire to read the short story one day, I've finally got a copy.

BookGreat Expectations
Charles Dickens
A literary classic that comes highly recommended and is free in the Kindle Store. I grabbed it knowing I've always wanted to read it.

Another fantasy that came highly recommended, but as you can see that doesn't automatically get it read when there's a bulging list.

BookCloud Atlas
David Mitchell
There's a movie coming soon and the mind-bogglingly ambitious narrative-style sounds like my cup of tea. I just need to make the time.

BookLife Of Pi
Yann Martel
I loved the trailer for this movie, and felt obliged to read it before going to see it.

I read a blog entry on making New Year's Resolutions stick and decided I liked it so much that the book being proffered should be purchased. And that I did.

This lady offered some advice on publishing my own book over at the site PlanBig. I purchased her book to show my gratitude!

The author has been a mainstay in my Google+ feed. I really enjoyed his free ebook "What the Plus?" and the content in this one would have come in handy while I was publishing my book. I want to get around to reading this to see where I've missed a trick.


An ambitious list isn't it? But when I see it I remember Nick Hornby's quote and realise it's not the end-of-the-world if I fail to read them all. But I do want to.

I want to because reading is fucking important. It makes you more articulate, improves your personal development, keeps you sharp, and a myriad of other things (like the ability to use the word myriad).

I'm striving to make myself better and I can't impart this on you enough. A new project is being formulated and these pieces of information make up some lessons that I think are important. Another thing I'd like to show you is a piece of software called Evernote, but that's the title of my next entry: Why you should get Evernote.