Grossed out at the #SochiGames? Be thankful you have #walls!

As the Olympic Games kick off, I can’t scroll through my social media feeds and not trip over a half dozen hilarious takes on the #sochigames.

Plagued with a +$50 billion bill, the Games have run afoul with sarcastic and humorous takes on the less than humorous accommodations and logistical horrors. The ring which did not light up? Hmmmm. How about the national costumes which pay homage to the rights of gays and lesbians to be part of the Games; subtle and classy, Greece. As the athletes gear up to win Gold for both their country and their sport, stories began pandering off… until I saw this one.

The horror to end all horrors. Hotel guests are complaining about Portraits of half naked Vladamir Putin. You know. The ones where this geopolitical heavy weight is fishing. Topless. Or riding a horse. Topless. Or…. no words….

Averting my eyes.

These bring me to the far more legendary menagerie of awesomeness simply named: Life in Russia. Each one is better than the last. Enjoy. And when my next birthday comes around, no Putin sheets, please.


Year of the #selfie

So it’s been a whirlwind 2013. How better way to commemorate the year but through pictures of my adventures. Been travelling extensively through both Europe and Asia but keeping up with my love of hiking. Always great to be in the hills, especially this new years, when we spent it hiking through the hills of Yunnan. Beautiful and peaceful, China. Happy New Year one and all….

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x  harbin12


Congrats: National Geographic Mag turns 125!

Who doesn’t envy and aspire towards the talent of the photographers who capture gorgeous picturesque landscapes, close up of a new species of insect in the Amazon or space exploration and experiments on the ISS? To celebrate the memorable 125 years, NationalGeographic.com has launched a photo blog, Proof which is edited by NationalGeographic.com director of photography Keith Jenkins. According to those on high, the idea of the blog is to take a “provocative and eclectic look” at National Geographic photography and the field overall.

Watch out as the blog will include “everything from how to edit down 60,000 photographs to 12, to which single item a photographer on a four-month assignment can’t live without.”

But don’t think it’s just the pros! Starting October 1, National Geographic plans to engage you, yes you, to participate on your first Nat Geo assignment for the magazine… this will be part of the photosharing-based #communityengagement platform (wow, that’s a mouthful!), Your Shot.

National Geographic magazine was first published in October 1888 as the official journal of the National Geographic Society, a nonprofit dedicated to funding science and exploration. Since then, the magazine has grown to 60 million monthly readers and has expanded to include the National Geographic Channel, which reaches 440 million households, as well as NationalGeographic.com, which has 27 million unique visitors each month.

Congrats on turning a venerable 125!


Into the land of smiles… Thailand greets all with warm embraces. Each time I go to Thailand, the experience is different. Here is a short picture montage of a few days flying solo in the province of Krabi.

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The theme of this trip? All good things come in bags; especially my daily craving of Thai milk ice tea…. mmmmmm


Work…work…work….

It’s blazing hot this summer! As I go through drafts and drafts of manuscripts, I have one beacon of hope: ice tea in a box.

Here are some pictures of what’s happening these days….

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Coming to the end of a three year project. Can’t wait to see the final book published…. Tamar; the Art of Construction by me!


How to deliver on time

Handling deadlines is a bit of a balancing act. I do not fancy myself an acrobat so being organised is #1. Trust in your team’s ability and your client’s deliverability is what needs to be built; being professional, organised and above all, polite in the face of challenges is a task in itself.

Partnership of 1 to 1….

I have had many successful projects and the ones which worked the best were partnerships with one single point of contact, typically a CEO or a c-suite executive. This partnership has always been key as they strategically knew what they were looking for and more importantly, once presented with the options, the single point of contact was able to make quick decisions. This ability to consider vast issues and make decisions under tight deadlines is critical to the success of any multi-million dollar project.

Creating a plan

In the engineering world, this is called a programme. Map out all the major tasks and marry them to a timeline. The point of this exercise is to find conflict in both manpower and deadlines. Amend as you see fit and find solutions for the challenges ahead. One should be respectful that you are only a small facet of their everyday work. There are times in when you will need a senior executive’s eye will be needed to sense check issues. If you can map out what will be needed from them at what time, the expectation will be better set for both parties.

Surprise!

Flexibility can be built into your plan, but how does one handle unforeseen challenges without throwing the schedule back a few weeks? A sub contract falling through, a delay in the timeline, a critical member of the team takes leave…. Think strategically about the challenge: budget, timeliness, manpower, etc. How will this blip in the radar affect the bigger picture? Sit down and write out a plan on how to move forward. This segways into transparency. Change is the one thing which is certain, so be open about this. Clients are not interested in hearing about the challenges. They want solutions so provide them with succinct solutions to the issues at hand.

Summary

Your brand reputation is of great importance in the industry so do what you say and keep your promises. It is important to keep to your weekly deadlines and offer to report back to your clients on a bi-weekly basis. Every few months, offer to provide an update to the executive team in the form of a short report or a 10 minute PPT.

No one can be too organised, so get into the habit. Be honest to both yourself and your client in setting the expectations on the plan of attack. Face surprises head on and find solutions. Above all, finish well. May I raise a flute of champagne to everyone on the team….Salute!


Canto Slang — Chok, Q and many more!

MIND YOUR LANGUAGE!

Local canto guru, Cecilie Gamst Berg recently wrote an entertaining piece in the South China Morning Post weekend mag about Canto slang – you know, the sort of stuff which is frowned upon in the office!

A highly entertaining piece about the language and more so, the cutlure. How many foreigners (white) do you know who speak it fairly proficently? Personally, I know a handfull of caucasions who speak Cantonese – and most have facinating stories as to how they got into their groove. As a “chok-san” overseas born Chinese, I am a child of two worlds and often learn from my friends (and awesome HK action movies) which keeps me up to date with the latest lingo. Everyday I continue to learn. But what about the thousands upon thousands trying at this very moment? Why is there, historically, such low retention rate?

Cecilie, who is a teacher and moonlights on RTHK’s Naked Cantonese programme, devels into this mystery with a lot of enthusiasm and hysterical humour while refuting many cultural ‘norms’ of the city. What makes this story special is the voice, the Hong Kong feel of the prose – fast pace and no nonense! Cecilie’s provocative and hillarious take on Cantonese seals the deal for learners and native speakers alike. It is a language which continues to bring new surprises. Her story shines a light onto a language which is not only proud of its roots, but also a language which continues to evolve. A must read for all Hong Kongers….