December 30, 2008: December 30, 2008
December 29, 2008: December 29, 2008
December 21, 2008: December 21, 2008
December 20, 2008: December 20, 2008
Soap Xmas party
We had out Saop xmas party last night which always seem to be a good time. We had this one at the City RSL because we needed a venue with a stage for the Foxtel and Soap band to play. The venue was bigger than the crowd we had but it didn;t make too much of a problem.
One problem we did have was that because it was at an RSL we got a few "walk ins". Basically there were people just walking in and trying to get free drinks.
As I don't drink and more importantly hate being taken advantage of I became the pseudo bouncer. I actually removed 3 separate groups of people. One group said they knew the "birthday girl" hehe nice try. Another guy jumped on his phone as soon as I questioned him and then I steered him to the door. It was like a reverse real life version of Dinner Dash.
These are people that concisely chose to go to an RSL on a Friday night so you can imagine the type of people. How snobbish of me :) to comment when I grew up on the Gold Coast in housing commission and then spent highschool drinking in the park outside the Life Savers club.
I also had to remove someone who worked at one of our clients (nameless). This guy had to be "asked" by a bouncer as my awesome power of persuasion ("please leave now") didn't work.
That aside we also had the Foxtel band (Jet Pack Monkies) rock out 3 tunes and Soap's band Bath Scum play 5. Videos will be uploaded next week. Note for all budding bands. Get a smoke machine it makes you look at least 15% more awesome.
We also had the gambling tables out (big hit last year) and I lost all my money this time. Last year I was up $16,000 and this time I lost it all on Black Jack. It was funny seeing who really got into the gambling, even if it was fake money.
We also had a meat tray raffle (RSL tradition) and Matt ended up winning it. As silly as it sounds the meat tray was pretty good.
I also collected the receipt with a break down of the beverages that were consumed. I wanted this last year as we killed the bar there but at least this year I can chart how many drinks and what type were drunk. A small snippet of the data included 209 Smirnoff Nips and 157 coronas vs one guy who had a Tooheys Old stubbie.
This is our first Xmas party that has come under budget. We have blown the budget a few times previously. And we also didn't have a messy cleanup as it was off site. Something we learnt the hard way 2 years ago!
The best part about these parties is the whole team having a good relaxing chat. Well that and seeing Chris put on a dance show which is always a party favourite and never fails to impress.
Looking forward to a solid 2009 both here and in LA as we go into the year with the most solid team we have ever had and the best line up of clients and projects on the horizon.
Posted at 1:56 PM
December 17, 2008: December 17, 2008
Secret to remembering stuff
For the last few months I haven't been able live/work without my Cahier Moleskins. I always thought it was Cashiers.
I originally had the retro Marvel ones but these are impossible to find in Sydney (trust me I went to 5 different books stores around Sydney.
Ive had and still have other moleskins but what I love about these is the cheap price ($14 for a pack of 3) the soft cover and the small size. It easily fits in my jeans pocket and you can sit easily with it in your pocket. Also by the time it runs out it's worn down and I just chuck the old one in a box for keep sake and crack open a fresh one. No lugging around 9 months worth of stuff in the one booklet. They last a couple of months max.
I got the idea from Russ from Tequila Sydney after I saw him jotting down URL's and other stuff during a conversation with him. Seemed like a good idea for keeping track of all the shit that gets said outside of browsers and IM.
I also went and bought whoever wanted them in the office and a few people have caught onto it. I should ask them how they are finding it and if it has helped them.
The only thing I dislike is that Moleskins are so "trendy" but I guess there is a reason, they are good. I also bought super mini ones at a book store earlier in the week. These are super small and I guess I bought them for the cute factor and the fact I could get a different color other than the cardboard brown.
I wish everyone had a tiny notebook with them at all times as it would mean more people would reply to emails or actually do what you ask of them without having to be reminded. It's much quicker to jot stuff down analogue style than typing on an Iphone keyboard.
How to Solve Problems
December 14, 2008: December 14, 2008
What I Wish I Learnt in School
It's almost 2009 and everything we do is evolving. The way we consume media, the way we talk to and meet friends the way we travel and the way we work. The only thing that doesn't seem to be changing much (I could be wrong though) is the way we educate our kids. I only graduated 12 years ago but it seems little has changed. Not that I have actually visited a school to check in.
Here's a list of stuff I wish I had of learnt at school rather than needing another 12 years of hard lessons. I consider myself very lucky and I've seen friends fail at certain aspects of life because they weren't taught simple things.
1: Financial Education:
2: The Environment:
4: Getting a Job:
This point is one major failing of most universities (at least in the design and creative fields) fail. They have just spent 4 years studying design and I have to bend over backwards to get information on a student to ask them for an interview. I also don't think I had anyone come in and talk about "the workplace" or from certain jobs while In high school. You see it in movies with kids having a "career day" but come high school this doesn't seem to be done?
5: How to survive without your parents:
6: Common Sense:
It would be great if kids (well teens) were asked to watch talks like the ones on TED or films like An Inconvenient Truth at an early age.
Since starting Adsense and earning revenue from Bannerblog I stated I would donate 25% of all proceeds to charity. Well I did this last year in spades and donated a hefty chunk to charity. I actually donated all of my first 6 months of adsense cash to charity which was a sizeable amount. I just realised today that the 25% payment hasn't been done by myself and now I've got pangs of guilt for not living up to a simple promise.
I recently upped my regular donations to the charities I support. I think I secretly feel guilty about when I was a kid I stole donation money from the MS Read A Thon (didn't hand in all the money I collected. Sorry Michael J Fox) and have ever since felt the need to make donations.
I currently support the following charities with regular donations but only for $50-$100 a month which isn't that much at all in the grand scheme of things.
I am finding it hard to add new charities to the list as many of them are all tied up with religions. This CAF page isn't exactly a very good search engine for them either.
World Vision used to get plenty of cash from me a few years back but after finding out it's Christian relief organisation. "Just look at their logo" I was told. I rang them after hearing this and asked them "do you use any of my donation money for bibles or other religious paraphernalia" and the response was "if that's what is needed in that area then yes" "to which I replied "since when is a bible ever needed for a person who lives in a war torn or starving nation! you can't eat a bible" and then politely ended the call.
I'm also getting heaps of paper junk from these charities. This annoys me as they could have just called or emails and saved themselves money and paper. I rang them to ask not to be sent paper crap so hopefully this will cease.
I guess the easiest way to do something nice for a charity is to donate your time or skills to help them out. But I think logistically this would be more hassle than it's worth to them. I can easily ask others to pick something that earns them extra income like Adsense or selling craft on Etsy or Ebay and donate 25% of that to a charity. If everyone did that I think we'd all feel better.
Charities have embraced the web and made donating much easier than it has ever been but they haven't really latched onto the social media side of things. I remember seeing a widget that you could add to your blog which let people donate money and you coudl track how much your blog has contributed but I saw this at Cannes while judging. Also the system was down and I was judging a "award page" for something that looked like it had failed to get any traction.
I guess Tap Project and Earth Hour are good examples but both are limited when it comes to "social media" and both of these have been led/instigated by advertising agencies not the actual charities themselves. Are the only people with good ideas the ones who are out to self promote themselves?. Or do charities just hire people with limited creativity but a big heart.
The Spoon Family
This was the collection of spoons on my desk at work.
Posted at 12:27 PM
December 13, 2008: December 13, 2008
The Truffle Media Empire
A new feature in Google Analytics shows you the total visitors to an account over the last 30 days and the trend up or down on the previous day. This got me thinking. How many total views does all the shit I have out there get. So i did some totals for OCT 2008 and NOV 2008 and it's quite interesting. I didnt include my Youtube channel or Flick account or anything on social networks (too much hassle to track right now as they dont have the reporting ease of Google A)
So from my small army of blogs
(some of which I have not updated in months due to a girlfriend "no more blogs" embargo)
Oct 2008: 454,500 visitors
This is visitors I just realised I shoudl have done page views as well but can't be assed. WTFcostumes did 1.5 M page views along in October so it's very high.
If I had a CPM ad system across linked across all these sites I would be earning some nice pocket change. EVen if the CPM was as low as $2-5.
Ad words is working out OK but it basically only pays for lunch and a drink and a cookie each day. Unless you count Halloween time in which I was getting video game money each day! Woooo it was good while it lasted.
The problem is my audience across these sites is world wide (USA dominates but it's spread globally) and the interests across them are different too. From advertising industry to people looking at rude Halloween costumes. So to an advertiser or media seller there is little to get traction. Also besides Sleevage and Bannerblog the rest have very little influence. The audience is transient. Bannerblog has a very loyal audience (only 44% new visitors) and this is the most valuable even if it's only 60-70k a month.
I wonder how many other people who have more than one initiative across the web is getting similar or most likely better traffic but can't monetise it? Blogging and monetising it has been a very loud part of the industry lately. It seems no one really blogs for fun any more it's all about how to generate revenue. Which is is why Problogger.net is so popular. Money talks, cash is king etc etc
A positive I can see from not monetising it is that I have little pressure to keep some of these sites updated. Bannerblog and Sleevage are the only ones I actively update and if I had more time I'd push these too but updating them takes long enough.
Posted at 9:56 AM
The Bait and Switch Recruitment
The Bait and Switch is used by companies when trying to employ someone. It's a way of promising the world then when employed the company goes back on those promises.
I have lost out when trying to employ people by having other companies "bait and Switch" on potential staff. Sadly I'm used the "tell the truth" style of employment which never has the gloss of the "bait and switch".
Let's say your agency does boring work and isn't highly regarded in the industry. When recruiting this is easy to fix as you say "we want YOU to help turn us around. We'll have you leading the team to take us into becoming one of the best. We have lots of great work in the pipe line"
Simple, you turned a negative into a positive. Only thing is it was all a lie. But that's fine as switching jobs is a real hassle and after 6 months they'll forget you even told a few porkies.
The hard thing when competing against a "bait and switch" is that your offering will never look as appealing to the potential employee. You won't tell them everything they want to hear as you can't promise the world.
The hardest thing is if the person doing the bait and switch plays hard ball and you don't even get a chance to respond. The potential employee is coerced into signing a contract right away leaving you with no options at all.
The only way you can combat a bait and switch is to reason with the person and let them know they are being played and hope they are smart enough to see through it.
I will say that anyone who runs their own business should take a course or get mentoring in how to talk to people when in a recruitment phase. I sure could have used some tips.
We've been lucky at Soap that our reputation has attracted lots of good people but lately it's been harder than it used to be, but then again our standards have risen too. We've also had to put everything into packages lately stating all the bits and pieces that go into it. This just makes half the time we're talking about money and fine details than the role.
We've also missed opportunities with people by replying a few days late or being out bid by an obvious bait and switch (which the person said to me later that this was the case)
Recruitment is a weird experience and those who are in a position to hire poeple will know this. It's like speed dating with a written commitment if you want to see more of each other.
Gen Y in the Workplace
I read this post on Gen Y in the workplace. I feel like this was written so anyone who is Gen Y will say "oh yeah that's how I feel" and those who aren't Gen Y can say "I'm not gen Y but that's how I feel".
It's a feel good piece that makes you feel empowered to be a gen Y or want to be. It would have been nice to have a balanced article with negatives as well as positives for being Gen Y but again this was a fluff piece so it was all positive.
I saw someone speak last year about Gen Y in the workplace and he pretty much said the same thing but had examples and personal experience to draw off rather than sweeping statements of BS.
This post also showed me that you don't need any new ideas for posts you just need to summarise what peopel already know. I think people like reading what they already know (or what is common sense) as a way to feel comfortable. It's like writing an article on how Twitter is useful, or blogging can help your career or ways to save money in the economic downturn (hint it's to spend less). Most of these types of articles have about 10% original thought and the rest is just blah from somewhere else or common sense.
I like articles that give you insight or a new perspective. This post about the greet card industry was interesting to me but it might be I'm a wanna be anthropologist.
So in an effort to not be a hypocrite I'll try to only post original and thought proviking posts from now on. I do enjoy having a blog that is not read by many people though as I feel I can at least be a little more personal and not have to feel pressured to perform with each post.
December 09, 2008: December 9, 2008
Lego 300 (2007)
Posted at 8:30 AM
Vegetarian vs Non Drinkers
I think in Australia it is much easier to be a vegetarian (we love our meat) than it is a non drinker (we love our beer more).
I have been a non drinker (i dont drink alcohol) since I left highschool. Now I have been drunk twice since then at random occasions but those were purely for the enjoyment of those around me. It was my party trick :)
But here I'll role play two conversations and you'll get my point why it's easier to be a vegetarian than a non drinker.
Vegetarian at a BBQ:
Non Drinker at a BBQ:
I've cut down the conversation for the non drinker as the conversations usually got for longer. My new excuse is that I'm Muslim (well almost) but this starts an even longer conversation thread and sometimes you just want a dam OJ and not a "my life story"
My reason for not drinking comes from when I left the Gold Coast to come to Sydney to study I had no money at all. Also my previous girlfriend didn't drink either (Buddhist) so it was easy to stop. And after 2 years of studying with no social life in a new city I had no reason to take up drinking once I started working. My new (and current girlfriend) didn't drink either (Muslim) so it was an easy progression. They money I saved was also good too. I can only consume 2-3 OJ's a a drinks night at the pub before feeling like a vitamin C tablet.
Friday night drinks at the office sometimes annoy me as we'll get 2 cartons of beer in and they'll be passed around staff. No one bothers (90% of the time) to get an OJ or a Lemon Lift or hell even a Mountain Dew (which I actually like). Even with another non drinker (Buddhist) in the office it was "drinker blindness/ignorance". Even after mentioning it a few times it was always an afterthought.
I tried to change this buy pre-purchasing non alcoholic drinks for the "non drinkers" but they just got consumed quickly dby the drinkers too when the beers ran out and then not ordered again. So I gave up and now just put a frumpy face on in my corner with my glass of filtered water :) hehe actually now I'm just grateful when there is something non beer.
Worse is industry functions where there is nothign non alcoholic. I've been a few award shows and tonic water was my only option. Not even a Coke (which I also dont like).
I'm also glad there are places like Passion Flower or San Churro or heck even Starbucks which offer an atmosphere where you can enjoy a chat without drinking. I guess drinking culture in Australia is so ingrained (worse in the UK) that people forget that not everyone drinks or think that the pub is the only place to go.
Some friends have started "not drinking" for short bursts of time and it's funny how they comment after a big night out. "Everyone was being a dickhead" seems to be a usual response or "how sloppy did XXXX get, oh dear". Once the veil is removed you realise that getting pissed isn't the top tier of enlightenment and that you can actually have fun and enjoy a chat without getting tipsy.
I need to get my licence renewed so I can at least be the designated driver again :)
Final thought: At your next party/BBQ/function spare a though for those that don't drink and offer a wide selection of non alcoholic drinks. None of that Spring valley shitty OJ. Get fresh stuff as you wouldn't crack open the XXXX at a party so don't get the equivalent of that for non drinkers. So in the same way you check if there are vegetarians also check if there is non drinkers.
"Nothing personal but you're a fuckwit" Does that make sense?
It's impossible not to take things personally even in business. I have found it very hard not to take comments about Soap as a personal attack. In the same way I take praise of Soap to be a personal praise. Good with the bad.
What I have had to learn is that everybody has their best interest in mind. Meaning they look out for Numero Uno. Which is funny as with Soap I've always looked out for the best interest of the "clan" and then felt cheated/insulted when it's not reciprocated. Cheated or insulted is the wrong word but I take it personally when I shouldn't.
It would be much easier to survive in the this world being a cunt. I think I read a title of a book which I cant find now as "How to be a success by not giving a shit" which makes sense as worrying about how people feel all the time slows you down. Not giving a shit is what allows CEO's to fire 5,000 people and keep a company in the red (or help maintain their crazy salary)
While I think very analytical I always have a very loud empathetic voice inside my head. I'd love to try my hand at survivor as I'm usually good at sensing that someone isn;t at ease with a situation. Although I'm not the best at resolving it :)
I've got no real point to the post but I'm thinking of trailing a litlte more "not giving a shit" than "giving a shit" and see if that changes my day to day. Because when you give all you can and don;t receive much back you start to feel like you're being taken advantage of. And in the end you can always stand behind the "nothing personal it's just business" shield which indemnifies you from any wrong doing.
I'm just glad I'm not a CEO or a leader of a small country (same thing yeah) where my decisions impact on hundreds ot thousands of people. I don't think I could live with that responsibility or guilt and use the "nothing personal" shield.
December 08, 2008: December 8, 2008
links for 2008-12-08
December 07, 2008: December 7, 2008
Sumo Omni Bean Bag
I was recently sent a Sumo Omni Bean Bag chair to test and review. While it sounds like a wind up I'm actually a real bean bag connoisseur. In half my social network profiles I mention them and if my apartment was bigger I'd have more than just one.
The Sumo bag has been in the office for the last 2 weeks and I've been using it every time I jump on the Xbox and the occasional brainstorm session. It's also been a talking point which starts with "what the hell is that?"
The thing with the Sumo chair is it doesn't look like a bean bag. It's just a giant sized square pillow. This has one negative and that is the beanbag has corners and with the material these can be sharp. Well as sharp as a beanbag can be. The shape does give the bean bag a much more stylish look than the usual shape.
The Charcoal green one we have is made from a PVC coated Nylon. The PVC initially felt very rough to me. I'm used to corduroy which is much softer. However the PVC is much easier to clean. My current beanbag is littered with stains and emptying it out and putting it into the washing machine is too much effort.
After using the sumo chair for a few weeks and then going home to my old bean bag I can really notice the difference. I much prefer the new chair mainly for the more firm seating position.
If only I looked as sexy as the model below. But this is my usual position.
The sumo Omni is now available in Australia so you can have one of these bad boys in your home or office in 2-3 days. I'd say as an office chair it's not the best solution but for a brainstorm fun chair in meeting rooms it's a nice addition to the room. I'll also be looking to move this bean bag into my place and retire my old one to my room.