Day 25: Twelve years and counting

Friendships should be like wine. They get better with time.

Tonight I had dinner with one of my best friends. It’s weird saying “one of” because it somehow makes it sound less special. But there is nothing unspecial about my friendship with Penny. She’s my ride-or-die bestie. If anything, I am just extremely lucky that I can count so many people in my life as “best” – Belle, Vern, Brenda x 2, ate Malou, Violi and Charles. These are the people close to my heart.

But there we were – celebrating our 12th friendversary, and her birthday in the beautiful surrounds and food of One Penny Red.

I chose the restaurant because of its name. Penny at One Penny Red. Little did I know that it’s also one of Penny’s favourite restos. And for good reason, the wine selection and desserts there are to die for.

Three hours later and I’m on a deserted train carriage going back to Central. It felt like the dinner was just a dream. But it was definitely twice the reason to celebrate. Friends like Penny are hard to come by. And my life is infinitely all the better for it.

Day 22 Part Trois: How you know you’re not a Millenial

A funny thing happened on my way between being young and getting old, I have become the invisible generation.

I say this because as much as it hurts me to admit it, I’m no longer the hottest Qualified Lead. Neither a Baby Boomer or a Millenial, I am what you can call “Additional Revenue”.

Today I went to a publishing forum where the focus was squarely on the Millenials, also known as teenagers plus a Uni degree. I don’t say this in a disparaging way. In fact, I’m jealous. While my generation is defined by a movie called “Reality Bites”, their generation is all about Augmented Reality.

They are the generation where anything is possible. You can be a publisher, a brand, an influencer or a disrupter. The only thing you can’t do, it seems, is say Hi when we’re both on the lift. I wish there’s a rule banning phones in elevators.

Ok, so here goes, fivesigns you aren’t cool and you aren’t a millenial.

1) You say “cool”. These days you are fierce, your eyebrows are on fleek and #soznotsoz. I am sure that those terms aren’t cool anymore either. You’re always lagging behind.

2) You would kill yourself before you wear short jeans that shows your bum. What the hell!?! Is nothing sacred anymore? I would hate to be a teenage boy these days. Everyone’s walking practically naked.

3) You are not a CEO of your own company. These days, if you’re 19 and you don’t have an app, album, clothing brand or modeling contract under your name, you must be GenX.

4) You have Facebook. Oh God, you mean you actually want to say hello to your nanna? Snapchat is where the young ‘uns hangout.

And finally…

5) You know you’re not a Millenial because you have a house and a car. Shame on you. ?????

This is my third blog for the day. Hoping to catch up on the days I didn’t blog.

Day 22 Part Deux: The Google and Giggle Economy

Call it the “Have a Giggle Economy”. Many publishers are moving towards the world of memes, satire and ridiculously funny content. That’s because it’s where the eyeballs go. WIth so much pressure in life, we all just want to look at puppies and kittens.

If it’s not viral, it’s fatal. Buying audiences is not as effective as audiences inviting everyone else to the party for you. That’s why Facebook has become an integral part of the publishing industry. It’s like the party ticket that everyone has access to.

Now on to the subject of satire, it’s interesting that in the US, the younger demographic rely on The Daily Show for their news. They understand it’s a show that’s taking a piss but we’re pissed anyway so might as well have fun while you’re consuming news.

“The Insular Peninsular” – I’m at a conference where Melina Cruickshank talks about the Domain and the success of their content, which again relies on educomedy.

“At the end of the day, we just want to make people laugh. It’s the stuff that’s cutting through,” says Melina.

Comedy allows you to connect to a brand that you normally wouldn’t connect with and that’s what you want.

Larrikinism is back, and it’s sexier than ever.

Day 22: Mixed Reality

“The reality is…”

Some clichΓ©s will not survive the age of augmented reality. Including “The reality is” because there is no such thing. Sitting through a presentation where someone mentioned virtual reality, augmented reality and the lines are blurring between what is real and what is technologically created.

There are upsides. I look forward to virtual reality being rolled out in aged care homes. I saw a video where an elderly lady was taken back to her island home via VR. This wouldn’t have been possible due to mobility issues but VR gets around that problem.

There are downsides. The truth is, VR and AR create better worlds than the real one. I do feel there’s a sense of more Human-to-Robo interaction than there are Human-to-Human interaction because you can conjure and create universes to your tastes. Bend the time-speed-space spectrum.

I definitely feel disconnected with major segments of the population who are into Snapchat. There’s more silliness (fun) than sense (grown-up) stuff and I think to myself “How can you be instagramming cute pics when there’s a crisis in Syria?” (one to develop as a post). That said, I know that The Economist is doing some exciting things in this space so I’m eager to learn more and find a reason to Snapchat in a way that sits well with me.

While ‘the reality is’ might disappear in modern-day lexicon, there is one phrase that first came to light in the 15th century, which I think will continue to thrive: bated breath.

I am excited about the innovations in media. I await what’s next with bated breath. xx

P.S. Oh, on a random note, @stephenhuppert shared a link regarding the framework of Facebook and how it’s designed to turn all of us into social media junkies. On average apparently, some people check their phone 80x a day and not to make phonecalls. I hope that with next-gen media being VR, we will be a lot more sensitive about the impact of that on our lives.

“The industry doesn’t need more programmers, it urgently needs more women, ethicists and philosophers.”


Day 21: Top three running routes in the city

I just finished a short jog near the Opera House and no matter how many times I take the same route, it never ceases to amaze me how lucky I am to have the harbour view so close to the office.

Last week, Fil-Oz celebrity Anne Curtis Smith was here in Sydney taking photos near the Opera House. A keen runner, she would have enjoyed the route I take if she had the time or knew about it. Anyway, for all you walkers, joggers and runners out there, here are my top three half-hour to one-hour runs that are just as exhilarating as a staycation.

No.3: The Barangaroo to Convention Centre Run

This is perfect for walkers as this is a tourist route, but definitely worth a lunchtime break. Start at the tip of Barangaroo which is currently Tower One then follow the path along the wharf as it snakes past the Sydney Aquarium, under the bridge, past the now-demolished IMAX and all the way to the Convention Centre.

If you do this on the weekend, keep running till you get to Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre. A big bonus if you’ve got your swimmers!

No 2. Circular Quay to Hyde Park

This run goes past Macquarie Street, where you’ll go past historic government buildings then all the way to Hyde Park where you can pay your respects at the Anzac Memorial.

Got extra time? Then circle back towards St Mary’s Cathedral then all the way to the domain and the NSW Art Gallery. At the gallery, you can grab an espresso or take a toilet break. Shhh, don’t tell anyone I said that. πŸ™‚

No. 1. Circular Quay to the Bridge or to Macquaries Point.

Saving the best for last, this run van go either way. Facing the ferry wharf, you can go left via The Rocks and go up the Bridge. Run across all the way to Milsons Point and you can either catch the train back or, if you’ve got time and the stamina, go all the way to Luna Park.

The other way, my favourite, is head towards the Opera House, go up and down the Opera steps as many times you can then go around the bend, which takes you to the park and all the way to the tip of Lady Macquaries Chair.

You can head back the way you came or cover another 3-5k by running down the path towards the pool then all the way to the NSW Art Gallery. You can easily cover 10-15k if you go past the gallery, go to Hyde Park, cut along Market Street to hit Sussex Street where you can then head your way back to Circular Quay via Barangaroo.



Day 20: Is it a bird?

A bird has decided to set up shop in the balcony. Free accomodation, no bond needed and the best view in town.

That this bird decided to make a nest only spitting distance away from the dining table us beyond me. It would be noisy, there would be the constant flicking of lights, the annoying sound of the coffee grinder and a host of explosions and angry dialogue from the TV. How do you even lay eggs in all that ruckus?

I’d like to think it’s because the bird thinks I’m a lovely human and I wouldn’t harm it. That or I’m the lesser of two evils. In front of me are trees full of magpies.

A magpie did come in a few days ago and looked like it spotted the nest. I even thought the birds wouldn’t come back. But a day later they did. Did you know that the mummy bird and the daddy bird take turns to protect the eggs. Talk about a 50-50 relationship.

I come home these days in fear that I’ll see eggshells on the floor and a grieving bird somewhere out there. I’m afraid that the magpies would come back, just biding their time.

Such is the effect of urbanisation. It leaves very little chance for wildlife to survive. I am hoping that against all odds the birds will complete the cycle. Rear their young and leave the nest when it’s time. The chances are slim but here’s hoping.

I told my mom about it and she said it’s a sign of good luck. She tells me that there’s a good spirit that follows me around, in the same way that there was a bird’s nest in front of out old house and the house back in the Philippines. Trust her to interpret everything as some sort of sign from the netherworld. But hey, I’ll take every ounce of luck I can get!

Day 18: Don’t be ashamed to grieve

Sometimes, the most profound lessons in life come from the most surprising of circumstances. Yesterday, I found myself “accidentally” sitting in at a conference sessionΒ  I did not intend to go to. It had something to do with ‘dealing with grief’ or transitions in life or something, I wasn’t paying attention.

The presenter was Amy Florian, a Chicago-based “grief expert” who flew in specially for the conference. Do you know why I didn’t attend the session other than the fact that the topic wasn’t if interest? It because I looked at her picture next to her presso and thought “whoah, that’s a bad haircut. Anyone who can’t ecen get a decent haircut that is in keeping with the times (it looked like an 80s haircut) can’t possibly teach me anything useful. I know, right? How judgy. And this is coming from someone who doesn’t have a good hairstyle either. and I usually wait far the have oo long before I get my hair colour refreshed. Double standards, I know. And here you were thinking I’m a super-nice person. πŸ˜€

Lucky for you I ate serious humble pie not too long after. I decided to stay in for a couple of minutes but ended up trying to choke back tears at the end of her session.

She was giving tips on how financial advisers can better help their clients after death in the family or onset of dementia with someone in the family. But her tips are just as useful for everyone else that I thought I’d share it here. Hope this helps you as much as it’s helped me deal with my grief from past tragedies in my life.

1) When someone calls you to say their husband/mom/child/granny died, don’t respond by saying sorry. People who are grieving are shell-shocked and one way you can help them is allowing them to articulate their grief. That means keep the dialog open-ended. For example, it’s perfectly okay to be shocked, ask them how the person died, where it happened, how it happened. The presenter said, contrary to perception, they actually want to talk about the death. Saying sorry simply means they have to accept the apology when in fact, you’ve done nothing wrong and they want a different response.

2) Get personal. Don’t feel awkward about asking them questions about how they feel. Ask questions like, how did you feel when you found out about it; and six months later, you can still ask. You don’t have to avoid the question.

3) Do them favours that will allow them to focus on their grief. Feed the family pets, get the groceries, pay the bill, pick up the kids from school … anything that allows them more time on themselves can help.

4) Just because someone died doesn’t mean they should be forgotten. As a gesture of concern, you can write them a note or call them on birthdays/anniversaries/milestones of the person who passed away. The details can do wonders.Β  For example, you can call them and say “hey, I know it’s your husband’s bday today and you used to start your day with lunch at your favourite pub, would you like me to swing by and we can do that this year?” or, I know you two always enjoy a bottle of champagne on your birthday, just sending you this bottle to say “cheers”, let’s have a toast in honour of him.”

Just because someone has died doesn’t mean people stop remembering their birthday or other celebration, allow your friend to grieve by giving him/her the chance to remember that person.

5) When they start crying, don’t give them a box of tissues. A box of tissue is a gesture that says “stop crying, your making me uncomfortable.” Instead, just let them cry and only offer tissues if they ask. One of the things that happen when someone dies is that the people left behind will feel like they’re not in control of their life. Controlling the situation (their tears) by offering them a box of tissues just make thins worse.

Also, crying relieves stress. When someone cries, their body releases hormones that relieve stress. You can’t fake it though. Cry over onions and there are no hormones. Just saline water in your tears.

6) This tip elicited a lot of laughter in the room. Don’t give well-meaning advice on what your friend ‘should’ do. Like, you should just get over it. You should move on.

“Don’t let anyone should over you.”

7) This was the most important tip: accept that grief is a multi-year process. It doesn’t go away after three months or a year. Grieving is a normal response to death and society has incorrectly programmed us to expect people to heal after a set time. This doesn’t happen. In fact, sometimes that grief will ebb and flow. It will stay with you because the person who died had an impact on your life and was a part of your life.

Grieving can last years or even decades. And that’s okay.

8) Finally, the person might feel that they don’t have a future. You need to guide them through this truth: they will, but it won’t be the future they had originally planned.


p.s. I wrote this yesterday but only posted it today because my day got so hectic I forgot!

Day 17: Sir Bob Geldof in person

One of the few perks of my job is that I get to attend events where people who are bigger than life are invited to talk. I have witnessed talks by Stephen Fry, Dom Sagola (co-founder of Twitter), Olymic medallists and other celebrities from all walks of life.

But I have to say, being in the same room as Sir Bob Geldof is a completely surreal experience. Here is the man who singlehandedly gathered the biggest stars on earth to perform for charity. For world poverty. Here is the man who put the starving children in Africa, their desperate case, to the attention of more than three billion of people around the world – all before the advent of social media.

If we can elect a global president, he would get the most votes. Extra bonus points for disparaging Donald Trump onstage and his America First mantra.

He peppered his speech with a lot of F words and only he can get away with that.

“If China collapses, we’re out. This is the Ponzi scheme we built for ourselves,” he said, challenging the audience if we have any leaders who are worth being called leaders

More later. 4.30pm.



Day 16: Dear Future Self

At a work conference right now and one of the sessions I attended shared some tips on how a financial adviser can encourage their clients to save more for their future, the theory being that as humans, we are hardwired for instant gratification. We would rather a slice of a chocolate cake if we can have it today than have an entire cake if it means waiting a few days!

The tip? Ask your client to write a letter to their future self. This allows them to visualise the future and make it more real. It’s a scary prospect thinking about where you’re going to be in 10 years but I’m going to step up to the plate and do it. Here goes:

Dear Future Self,

How are you? You are probably incredibly amused that time has passed and you are reading something on a rickety media platform called a ‘blog’. Ten years on, I imagine you working with your virtual assistant who would do the job of cataloguing your ‘Twitter’ moments, your Facebook anniversaries and your ‘blogs’ in ways your 10-years-ago self would not have imagined. One thing I am certain of is that you are … happy! Life will have its ups and downs but you will always find the silver lining.

On the subject of your health, you will be thanking your 10-years-ago self for all those walking exercises, those gym sessions and the occasional beach or bush walk. You’ve always understood the importance of your wellbeing and as tough as your schedules get, you will always find time. Does that mean your insurance premiums are lower than average? Well, that gym membership isn’t cheap.

I hope you are not suffering from any illnesses although as you get older, the chances increase. I’m hoping that medical advances have caught up to your sweet tooth. Do people still suffer from diabetes in your time? I hope not.

On the subject of your wealth, aren’t you glad you have taken time to plan your retirement? Even if it nearly killed you? Even if all you wanted to do with your spare time is bingewatch past seasons of Game of Thrones? By the way, what’s your favourite TV show now? I’m assuming Netflix has been superceded by some other video platform.

You still have a long way to go – but that’s because your paying for your arrogance in your 20s. Traveling trumped saving at the time. Although thinking about it now, I don’t think you would have swapped your adventures in Barcelona, Ireland and France, even if you did so on a backpacker budget just so you were a few years ahead in the mortgage market. No, I didn’t think so.

There are many things I wish I know now about what life would be like in 10 years. But one of the sweetest pleasures in life is the great unknown. Roll the dice. Smell the roses. Life is the memories you make.

P.S. This is a make-up post for Day 13 (I didn’t post a blog because I was so tired that day!) #30daysofblogging

Day 16: A Diploma in Risk Consideration and the Woods Culture

I came across a powerful essay written by actress and poet, Amber Tamblyn, published in The New York Times. If there’s one thing I’m grateful about, it’s that I’ve never in my life ever dreamed of being an actress, or a singer, or a theatrical artist. Not only do you have to be immensely talented to succeed, you also have to be immensely lucky to secure regular gigs. As Amber said, Hollywood is a crazy place – one minute you’re a star, the next minute you’re out of a job. As a woman, you’ll also struggle to get roles when you’re over the hill (which can mean as young as 30!) so you try to make as much money and score as many roles as you can in your 20s.

Which makes Weinstein’s abuse of power even more unforgivable. Young girls in Hollywood know the stakes. If they say ‘no’, they might as well kiss their career goodbye. But as one of the women abused by Weinstein said, the stress ofΒ hiding the truthΒ far outweigh the stress of exposing the abuse.

What resonated with me, too, was the part in Amber’s essay where she spoke of the responsibility we carry on a daily basis to protect ourselves from hurt:

Every day, women across the country consider the risks. That is our day job and our night shift. We have a diploma in risk consideration. Consider that skirt. Consider that dark alley. Consider questioning your boss. Consider what your daughter will think of you. Consider what your mother will think of what your daughter will think of you. Consider how it will be twisted and used against you in a court of law. Consider whether you did, perhaps, really ask for it. Consider your weight. Consider dieting. Consider agelessness. Consider silence.

I think I’ve now missed two days of blogging on my promised #30daysofblogging. Technically speaking, I have been blogging daily, except it’s been for work the past few days. See Live Blog at the AFA Conference.

The Weinstein scandal has also dominated the news headlines in recent days and I wrote the blog below a couple of days ago (but I didn’t post it at the time as I fell asleep!). I promise I’ll be back in the swing of things again from Saturday, once this work conference is finished.

Delayed blog posting below for Day 14

It’s not the news you want to read. Harvey Weinstein, the King Maker, the Hollywood big shot, the Producer, the all-around legend, has been exposed in a series of sexual harassment allegations.

Question: Why?

Why do powerful men feel the need to abuse their power by preying on women? Isn’t it enough that they have it all? From access to capital to all the best ideas in Hollywood, Weinstein just had to cross the line.

The stories I read on the NY Times were terrible. From his rather lame attempt at seducing Ashley Judd to his predatory manners towards the then 23-year-old Rose McGowan.

There are various examples of misogynistic behaviour everywhere and from all sectors of the industry. What’s great is that more women are coming out with the stories of abuse instead of keeping it to themselves – fearing a backlash against them. Shaming women and saying they asked for it no longer holds water. I feel fortunate that I live in an age where we can finally call out men who think they can get away with it. No longer.

Of course, we still have a long way to go. But if recent articles are anything to go by, these brave women have set a fresh tone for the treatment of aspiring actors entering the industry.

In another time, Harvey Weinstein would have been untouchable. No longer.


I am writing this blog as my plane to the Gold Coast is about to land. It’s six days in the Goldy for me. But there will be no time for dolphin watching. It’s work, work, work ahead.