IT'S WHAT YOU'D LIKE TO BE

My Journalist self follows fabulous people into fabulous places.

Category: Freelance

You’d Like to Be a Cat That Falls From the Sky

Literally, that’s what it means, Tmall天猫, a phonetic translation of the fastest growing e-commerce site targeted at mainland Chinese consumers which saw a growth in transactions from 25 billion yuan (2.4 billion pounds) in 2010 to 520 billion yuan (50.2 billion pounds) in 2013, according to Wall Street Journal. However, it’s not the figures that should interest you but the fact that Chinese consumers view the Cat as the one place immune to the cancerous parasitic counterfeit reality in Chinese e-commerce as they only feature retailers with registered trademarks in China. The most outrageous example that I have come across so far with Chinese counterfeits was in an Asian supermarket based in Hackney where they juxtapositioned 2 identical instant noodles with 24p-difference in price with a disclaimer – fake 65p, real 89p. The reason for the noodles story is obviously to introduce this hilarious video made by a Dutch ad agency. And yes, Shin noodles, those ones, I’ve got 5 in my cupboard.

(continued with my last email to you on why we should re-think China’s Tier 1,2,3,4,x cities to expand your business, I hope Tom has read it and if he is reading, i’d like him to know that I can do more about criticising (bitching) about others 😀 )

With Apple and New Balance opening “Flagship” stores on Tmall.com, Yes, they chose the word “Flagship旗舰”,  it’s safe to say that the digital has completely transformed the concept of place and space. Tmall, the Cat from the sky is the king of all cats, particularly powerful against copycats. To demonstrate cats power, please go on BuzzFeed.com, or read on and you will find out that ASOS, the most idolised European online fashion retailer is planning to open a Tmall storefront in late April, offering (literally, like in the sense of sacrificing) 50% off a cardigan sweater to pull traffic. It was merely a few months ago in Nov that they launched their Chinese website that got the fashion industry bouncing off the walls.

Since you’ve pretty much got the idea why China’s space (especially air-space where territorial cats live) could be the intimidatingly huge with amazing potentials, I’d like to point out that cats can be a bit too smart for our own good.

As we conclude our discussion on china’s digital space, I’d like to point out that as the culture/film snob that I am (or possibly wanky), my favourite space is a concept called non-space (Ok, definitely wanky). There’s this 1967 French film called 2,3 Things I know About Her, which explores the concept (omg so wanky, call the police).

Thanks Tom!

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You’d Like to Be A BuzzFeed Post Vol.2 – Kiss Me Once is Released TODAY!

Kylie’s 12th studio album is released TODAY!! Obviously for Kylie I don’t mind not writing long-form.
Here’s the first post I did on BuzzFeed leading up to this point, titled “Kylie Shows Up Unexpectedly, Even At Your Loo!”

Kylie Minogue likes to show up unexpectedly this year, first at OLD BLUE LAST, then in a GYM to Surprise a fan, now she is in your loo!

1. She was at the Old Blue Last to Perform her single INTO THE BLUE, which sounds like INTO THE LOO when she sings it.

Photo by lareputada.com / Via lareputada.com

2. She performed INTO THE BLUE in a gym to surprise a fan ADAM.


Everyone else got out of her way!

3. She can’t stop showing up unexpectedly now, tells band member “Into the loo”

Via plumber24hours.co.uk

4. Tells policeman “into the loo”

Via pakwheels.com

5. Tells dog “into the loo”

Via everydayfunnyfunny.com

6. Tells Soldier “Into the loo”

mylot.com / Via mylot.com

7. Tells cyclist “into the loo”

Via everydayfunnyfunny.com

8. Tells the Asian community “into the loo”

itthing.com / Via itthing.com

9. Even herself

chueca.com / Via static.chueca.com

10. OMG Kylie returns with “Kiss Me Once” !!

I need the loo but can’t go till i’ve finished hearing every track!

Kiss Me Once, Kylie’s 12th Studio Album Is Released TODAY! Photo by Kylie.com

Get It Here!
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/kiss-me-once-special-edition/id805619236

You’d like to be Tom Hulme. But, Would you really?

Another White Man Saving Brown Women from Brown Men?

(Disclaimer: I adore Tom Hulme and I would love to intern at his company. But after this article I’d imagine it would have slipped away naturally)

In complete contrast to his dishevelled hair – this gentleman’s list of achievements is as breath-takingly linear and long as they are well documented, in another word, world-class. Carrying the charisma that sets himself apart from other entrepreneurs who utilizes pretension for a conspicuous cause to establish status, Hulme – in check shirts and trainers talking to a podium-ful of work hungry students playfully.

“a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum and was listed in WIRED UK’s top 100 “digital power brokers” in 2011 and 2012. In November 2012 he was included in the Evening Standard list of London’s 1000 most influential people. Tom is also a member of the advisory board of the Tech City Investment Organisation of the UK government, supporting the startup community in East London.”

Founder of OpenIDEO, a project that enables “anybody” to contribute ideas usually for a specific seasonal task is currently burgeoning a campaign aiming at Indian women’s safety in low socio-economic areas, extending the social debate that gained worldwide attention due to the number of cases of rape, gang-rape in India last year, coinciding with the biggest election that the world has seen in India where 800+ million voters participated last Saturday certainly has got all eyes on him.

His hour-long talk at London College of Communication ended with a Q&A session where I had the privilege to ask the final question:

Me: “Post colonial cultural theorist, Gayaki Spivak is known for her criticism of “Western” doctrine’s interest in the debates on post colonial states, like India. She once famously criticized the ‘West’ for ‘White men saving brown women from Brown men’, do you think that your challenge on helping indian women could be a bit indulgent.”

Probably not as indulgent as my question.

It was the journalist in me that made me want to stir up the otherwise homogenous agreeable applause applause talk. Branded as an open innovation platform, OpenIDEO serves as a levelling tool to democratize ideas. Slide after slide of empirical data and research findings narrated in his non-threatening and yet authoritative tone, Hulme had smitten the room with the look of an Australian surfer and the backlog of jaw dropping credentials, as well as saint-like proclaims of the non-profit driven nature of his work. The question on my mind was, has he really discovered the ultimate levelling platform for ideas or is he just an amazing motivational speaker?

India, with its roots lying in a culture built around hierarchies of gender, religion, caste and colour produces the most number of millionaires in a country in the world but is known for the human pyramids built on travelling trains and “slum dogs”. Dealing with the issue of women’s safety in India is comparable to dealing with cocaine use in Hollywood, Indian men’s disrespect towards women is justified by the disregard of women’s identity as a whole. From the time a brother is sent to college whereas the sisters are left running errands to accompany the mom, to the criticism of a western tourist showing cleavage inviting a gangbang, to me woken up by a penis on my face that belongs to a married Indian friend of my housemate’s that was staying over who was told that I was gay, all these evidence suggest that sexual crimes can all be justified because the victims have all “asked” for it. (Possibly not all) Indian men live by the rules that the patriarch structure can be taken for granted and sexual offenses are the reward of sexually deprived women and gay men. Where can I send my “thank you for your penis” card?

The Khajuraho Group of Monuments in Khajuraho, a town in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, located in Chhatarpur District, about 620 kilometres (385 mi) southeast of New Delhi

From the country that brought you Kama Sutra, which features not only the 100s of sexercize positions (some even include horses, probably as props) but also the depictions of gay and lesbian sex to a society that bans prostitution as well as homosexuality, the change is held accountable by one country – UK. It was during the Victorian colonial period did the British labelled the Orientals “the oriental vice” during its “Fanatical Purity Campaign” – meaning the “West” didn’t like it that the Indians expressed their sexuality freely whose gods include hermaphrodites and androgynous beings.

Arjuna and Krishna – 2 Indian gods who are frequently referrenced for their same sex love. Photo by pramoduniverse.com

Centuries later, the repressed physiological needs of men (sex) are compensated by the compromised safety needs of women, due to the very fact that it was the colonial Victorians who initiated the increasing imbalance. We are brainstorming ideas globally to help with women’s safety? Something’s got to give. And solving the problem one-sidedly will only create future imbalance. If men were to blame, help THEM first. After all Marslow views sex as a more basic form of needs than safety. Shouldn’t we be thinking about how to feed the wolves?

Indian Men in/on/above A Running Train. Photo by BBC

An Indian girlfriend once said to me, “look at the UAE, if someone steals, they chop his hands off. That’s why their crime rate is so low, why can’t we do something like that?” Obviously we can’t, coz we are the “West” and they one thing we take pride in is the discourse of human rights. In cultural theorist Spivak’s essay “Can Subalterns Speak?”, long story short, subalterns can’t speak. Coz when they do speak, how are we going to listen with an ear that only takes in what fits in the western discourses such as feminism and human rights?

Solving a third world problem within the Western doctrine is very likely to lead nowhere. But if Hulme’s challenge is aimed at raising awareness and showing concern or goodwill, he certainly has accomplished that. After all, as of today, 585 profiles have contributed to their research, a research according to my question to him, could be of western problem-solvers’ indulgence.

My question for him certain got him interested. Having distinguished the contributors to OpenIDEO from the Westminster suit and tie white middle aged men, he gave a convincing answer that OpenIDEO users are of wide demographics which include victims themselves. However, my scepticism remains as my enthusiasm continues to find out how big of an impact could this challange manifest.

Hulme at London College of Communication, 2013. Photo by London College of Communication

N: is there any personal reason that made you consciously choose a path that’s not necessarily guaranteed to generate great revenue?

H: “My dad was an entrepreneur so I’ve always admired entrepreneurs. And I spent a year in Africa before I went to university the first time when I was 18 and that had a huge impact on me. I promised myself that I’d create businesses and do start ups that will have positive social impact so I combined the two things. That why I never went to work for a big company I never consider it.”

All eyes on Hulme and his OpenIDEO contributors. Participate and contribute to the reasearch and ideas here: http://www.openideo.com/
Follow Hulme on Twitter:

You’d Like To Be Matthew Rettenmund

Novelist, writer, magazine creator, Madonna analyst and founder of one of the most successful online blogs BoyCulture.com, these titles barely cover what Matthew Rettenmund has aquired under his belt as a writing giant. Praised by New York Times writer Nick Hornby, “[Rettenmund] with his sharp eye and his careful, knowing prose, sounds like one of the freshest voices on the block.”

In a Q&A email interview, Rettenmund lectures me on transitioning journalistic shift from print to online, shows off his expertise in pop careers of Queen Madonna and fellow artists Kylie Minogue and Lady Gaga, as well as fulfills my personal request by giving advice on how to make it as a sucessful journalist. Nate reports.

First things first! On Madonna, Kylie Minogue and Lady Gaga.

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N: Tell me about your life as a Madonna fan.
R: Madonna is my everything, artistically, because I love her work and also I love that she seems to embody so many notions that any opinion on her winds up having less to do with her and more to do with the person expressing the opinion…and with cultural trends.

Rettenmund’s admiration towards Madonna has long been acknowledged. At one point, this facination has turned into a best seller!

Encyclopedia Madonnica by MatthewRettenmund

Rettemund With Madonna at her Fragrance Launch in Macy’s 2012

R: Kylie was a terrible copycat early on, but did eventually find her own path, and is quite a good singer. She pays tribute to Madonna affectionately.

R: I did enjoy Lady Gaga a lot at first. She was the first artist since Madonna who seemed to be taking up the mantle with all seriousness and who attempted to replicate Madonna’s brilliant touring strategy and form. However, she has stumbled badly. Her latest album is not forgettable, it’s unforgettably poor, and her pronouncements make her seem like the egomaniacal version of Madonna. (And Madonna is as daunting an ego as any!)

sucess across all boards

Rettenmund has seen sucess across all boards. BoyCulture.com which sees over 20,000 to 25,000 page views daily is among the most popular Blogs targetted at male gay audience in the world. His 1995 novel “Boy Culture” was adapted into popular 2006 film of the same name.

N: You’ve written novels and now become the biggest contributor to one of the most successful blogs BoyCulture.com, a move that resonates the industry shift, from traditional print media to “citizen journalism”. What is your attitude towards the shift? Is there any nostalgia from writing novels?

R: I think a lot is lost and a lot is gained, going from print to digital. What I love about blogging is that I can make lengthy, unedited (except by me) pieces immediately available—and widely. However, I think that it can become addictive, keeping up a daily blog, and that definitely, 100% takes away from other pursuits, including writing fiction and maintaining relationships.

R: Also problematic is the fact that people are now trained to receiving writing and humor and imagery for free. Yes, bloggers can make some money via ads, but that is an invisible fee to readers, who forever after will be less likely to pay for a book, digital or print.


The 2006 Film “Boy Culture” Adapted from Rettenmund’s 1995 Novel of The Same Name

On Visual V.S Texual
papers

Left: Carrie Bradshaw Wearing Newspapers
Centre: Carrie Bradshaw Writing for Newspapers
Right: Newspapers

N: Do writers have to be good photographers to be good writers? What is your attitude towards this visual culture of selfies, instgram, tumblr and their impact on readers? Is it really true that a picture is worth 1000 words?

R: If anything, I have gravitated more to imagery and away from writing over time. It’s new to me, but I am very eager to improve my photographic skills. I’m doing shoots and learning, little by little. I’m not bit on selfies myself(ie), but I love the trend in others because I’m a big ol’ voyeur and also, I do think that there is an art to it.

On Blogging and Advice on Pursuing a Career as a Journalist
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N: What attributes does a blog need to become a hit?
R: I have no idea if my blog could be called a “hit.” I will say that thanks to the support of bloggers like Andy Towle, Joe Jervis, Kenneth [in the (212)], David @ Wicked Gay Blog and others, my blog could be described as an influencer. I’m able to get original stuff or first-reported-by-me stuff out there.

N: How do u view success now? What still excites you? What had been some of the hardships and challenges you had to face to get where you are? Any advice for people who want to make it as a writer/journalist like myself?
R: Success is elusive. I feel somewhat successful, but I also feel like a young, struggling artist at times. I go back and forth between wanting to express myself and be creative, and simply wanting money and nice things and comfort. As I age, it becomes more urgent that I make the right choice, but I’m not closer to knowing which choice that is, so I am trying to cover all the bases.

R: My ultimate advice is to try things. If you’re interested in a field, explore it. Try it. Don’t wait to be validated, just do it. Most of the greatest photographers and writers are completely self-taught. All you have to fear is messing up. If that happens, move on and try something else. Life’s too fleeting to second-guess your every move. Adventure!

Rettenmund as founding Editor in Chief of Popstar! Magazine from October 1998 until May 2012.

I dreamed a dream! And interviewing Matthew Rettenmund has definitely taken me one step closer to that dream. What an absolute pleasure! Thank you! MAN, wouldn’t you want to be Matthew Rettenmund!!

Check out his fabulous blog BoyCulture here!

You’d Like to Be Richard Coombes

I am that 1%”

Humbly admitting that he sees himself very much the same as everybody else but the truth is, maybe he is a bit different. Coombes on some level is like the rest of us, building a career in constant struggle between circumstantial limitations and personal ambitions, insecurities and external confidence, balancing professional and personal life as a driven and yet emotional creature. Few dare to claim titles such as Head of Talent, Graduate Programme & Management Development at Barclays Commercial Bank, HR director at Leo Burnett EMEA, Lecturer and Tutor at University of South Australia (at age 19) and most importantly, Executive Coach whose clients include Bloomberg and Procter & Gamble, as well as Lenstore – one of the Times Top 10 fast growing private companies 2013, under his own company Coombes Business Coaching. Speaking to me in landmark location of Shoreditch, The Book Club, Coombes reveals the force that has asserted a modest Australian boy into the world of finance and Britain’s elite class. Nate reports.

Having arrived half an hour late for the interview I had scheduled for Mr Coombes, I was thousands of times more gratified that he had stayed to be interviewed than when he agreed to it, in exchange for my help in lifting some boxes at one of his cooking classes. Wait, cooking?

Richard_Cutting

(what’s going on here? Coombes had put 10 members of The Supper Club, UK’s premier network for entrepreneurs in a boot camp of high pressured cooking task, in order to observe their organizational behaviour under his microscope. Jan 30th, 2014 photo by Nate.)

For the first time, we could see how a pressured cooking environment creates high quality in a limited time. Then you can talk about leadership development and management behaviour. In that situation, entrepreneurs who are used to working separately and individually are with people they don’t know. Some of them begin to coordinate and work together but some would surge out of the group, not only being able to get the assigned task done but also seek to learn everything else within that space. What we’d be looking for is that I work more with them to identify in their business where they need to work as a team.”

I should mention that one of my highlights in life so far had been the time I had the privilege to taste Coombes caviar in the 3-story townhouse that he owns on a summer day in Hackney, East London, over looking the stand-alone fish-tank-like studio which he calls “office” across the garden. The fact that both of us were in flip-flops gave me enough excuse to indulge in his treat without feeling undeserving or too self conscious of my own status or cooking skills. How good was the caviar? … Sorry, did I mention it was caviar?

I am interested in food and cooking schools, I have been to about 30 cooking schools across the world. I believe that it differentiates me as a coach because it’s a different way of beginning a conversation about high performance, communication and teamwork. “

Richard_Serious_Telloff Richard_man

Richard_Candle

(Entrepreneurs associated with The Supper Club are carefully vetted to ensure that the Club maintains the highest quality of entrepreneurs across all sectors. Here they are cooking up a feast, but not without some serious tough love from Coombes, which he describes as the “In your face” style. Jan 30th, 2014. Photos by Nate)

 

It’s performance coaching, focusing on individual development and career development. I work with senior management, they have business objectives, department objectives and individual objectives, things that they need to deliver to their bosses in order to get their pay rise or promotions. One of my particular target markets is one that’s fast growing, small entrepreneurial companies.”

As Coombes alternating between coaching corporations such as Bloomberg, Procter & Gamble and individual clients that his current work entails,he is now reflecting on the past times when he had been HR director in Barclays. This is what he had to say,

They were no more professional, in fact, they had even bigger challenges. There was a certain degree of dysfunction in the way that the business operates. There was a great need for intelligent HR, tactics and strategy, but there wasn’t much of it employed. There were so much of a need but so little commitment.”

Being an HR director in a corporate space means 300-400 emails a day, working on 15 projects simultaneously at any given time. It means 80 percent of your time is spent on internal stake holder management, otherwise known as Politics.”

Coombes now would spend 40% of his time on client relationship development, marketing and networking and the rest doing valuable work with smart people who he likes working with, certainly a lifestyle that inspires envy and admiration, as if he weren’t as much of being his own boss previously. With a personality and qualities that easily cast command, Coombes is rigorously focused and uncompromising.

I like my lifestyle, that also means I’m spending more of my time thinking and communication about value and less of greasing the wheels of politics. I respect it [corporate politics], I understand it needs to happen, I can go into that space and operate, but also come back out healthy.”

Ostensibly, Coombes had embarked on a journey to success which most of our society would recognize or assume as a road taken by the talented and ambitious and most important of all, lucky. I for one had quit school 4 times due to visa or financial issues or because I had to waste years not knowing what I want from life. Coombes’ life could seem a bit too linear. As I whinged over my shortcomings, Coombes stopped me right there and with such conviction, put me in my place. “You always have options.”

So, what choices did Coombes have to make?

richard

Coombes in 1995. Photo by Coombes

From the point I was 15, everything I did, I did it to escape from Australia (if you had been to Australia you’d know why) and become successful and financially independent from my parents. Because of my sexuality, I feared that they and the society they came from would reject me and I would be lost. So I had to become very good at something very quickly. That fear had been a source of a certain degree of insecurity, combined with real ambition to succeed in the world, as well as my understanding and talent in organizations and organizational theory led me to become a person you’d call “loud” and “in your face”, which led to one of my lectures saying ‘you could be a good tutor’. He then let me do that before I was really ready to do it but I learned a lot.”

Within 2 year of Coombes ending his job as a tutor (since age 19) in Organisational theory having finished a degree in Business, Marketing, Human Resources, Australia experienced its economic recession. The consequence of which saw his coming out of Australia to the UK at age 26.

There weren’t jobs in big companies, I didn’t have connections through family, so it was either to be entrepreneurial or unemployed. And that is not my thing.”

richard tub

(Coombes vacationing in Tromsø, Norway, waiting for Aurora Borealis to appear while keeping himself warm and clean in the hot tub that’s installed on private boat Feb 1st, 2014. Photo by Coombes)

N: what’s your identity now?
C: Part of my identity is linked to my work, the sophistication and the challenge of it, my intellect, my professionalism, and part of my identity is related to my relationship with my partner, and me being a learning growing changing and emotional creature.

N: How about that insecurity you felt at the earlier stage of building your career?
C:
It’s a constant state. I have less fear of it now because I know it helps me be good at what I do. I still feel it and I don’t want to stop feeling it.

N: what is that one quality you couldn’t have made it without?
C: (After a short pondering) The willingness to challenge the
status quo.

I was deeply ashamed for not knowing what status quo meant but I have a feeling that this latin word would linger in my mind for many years to come. Boy, wouldn’t you want to be Richard Coombes!!

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(Coombes and partner Aidn at London’s Gay Pride Parade 2008. Photo source: Coombes’s facebook page.)

Coombes Business Coaching Main Page
www.coombesbusinesscoaching.com/

Coombes’ Covent Garden Cooking School
www.coventgardencookingschool.com/

You’d Like To Be Samuel Sasiharan – A Night Out in Shoreditch

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Freelance photographer Samuel Sasiharan whose work can be seen in VOGUE finds conundrum in being and nothingness. Sasiharan talks sound arts, sex and catwalk with me in Vice magazine’s protégé OLD BLUE LAST.

“The Current unnamed project in collaboration with sound engineers explores the human role [in nature].” says Sasiharan. Before I had the opportunity to express my doubts, the band “The Soft drummed the hell out of the 2 floor venue with, not a drum but an iPad which I’d assume has replaced every need for talent and hardwork. This, however, is not the case with photographers.

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“Sometimes I burst into tears looking at my subjects,” he says.

In awe with his dedication to his own work and the penetrating eyes that inspires truthfulness in beauty and glamour, my vision was distracted by the pom-pom above his head which took me to the innocent time where my hat that my mother knitted also bore a pom-pom. It was -30 degrees in the winter where I grew up.

“I divide my workstation [iMac screen] into 3 parts, the first slice is my social media section, and then I’d play any random clips in the middle [jokingly] like Sailor Moon [now not so sure if he was joking] then my actual editing station like Photoshop or Premiere.”

I for one am also a practitioner of this method of working which incorporates reasonable distractions as I am writing this blog playing parliamentary debates on BBC right at this moment. Okay, that was a lie, it’s actually Kylie Minogue‘s new Lyric video to Into the Blue, her new single to be released on March 9th.

Human after all
Believe it or not, Sasiharan is human. I’m only saying this after a careless exhibit of emotions let out of Sasiharan when asked about his plan for the next 6 years. “wherever I go, I will be a student for another 6 years.” why? Is it because of a special someone that bounds him in a geographic confine. Either way, Sasiharan “always did what I  wanted anyway”. A bit of a maverick within a caring and calculated and clear-boundared human. He insisted on being called the chocolate prince, reassuring the common connotation of a dark-skinned man should be especially endorsed by himself.

But unlike other young people who support their passions with the minimal income from bars and cafe works. Sasiharan is one who drags himself on catwalks to bare all of himself to judgements and scrutiny from the floor and cameras to pay the bills.

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Sasiharan at Kansai Yamamoto fashion show London Nov 7th, 2013. FIrst show from the designer since 1971 picture from Samuel Sasiharan’s Facebook

I have to make money as well … they have to come from somewhere”, signs Sasiharan about working part-time as a fashion model. Resonated by most, a life of being a creative often means a lengthy devotion to precariousness in hopes of moments of ecstacy, but the question is, isn’t he who you would want to be?

You can follow Sasiharan on http://www.samuelsasiharan.tumblr.com

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Sasiharan’s unbearable brightness of tanning. On set in Thailand, 2013 picture from Sasiharan’s Facebook