Wednesday, December 31, 2008
2008 has been a very very crazy year. Those of you who know me well would know that I've been through a lot of major ups and downs. Here's 20 things that I've learned from this year that I'd like to share:
- Rules can be bent as long as targets are met.
- Try harder when someone says, "it's impossible."
- You can be creative given the right conditions.
- Being an abstract thinker doesn't mean you can't communicate.
- If the boss is happy, everyone else is happy, and you'll be happy, too.
- Sometimes you need to slow down. No point in talking to your colleagues if they don't get what you're saying.
- Diagrams and flowcharts work when folks don't understand your English.
- If snack sizes don't work, try bite sizes. Adjust to your audience.
- If you repeat the same thing you said a couple of months ago in a meeting, the issue is not worth vexing over.
- Breathe. The world won't stop turning if an issue is not solved that day.
- There's a warm and fuzzy feeling that happens in your stomach when you know that the copy you wrote is viewed by millions.
- Being a change agent means you have to swim upstream at times.
- You can still be angry or upset and not lose your sense of humor.
- Lawyers can be blood suckers and cops deserve the nick name, "pigs" -- at least in Kolkata. I still love NYPD.
- When you're in dire straits and call out for help, those who matter will come to your rescue.
- Friendships are priceless, the true test comes when you need a ton of money really fast at a couple hours of notice.
- Believe in the power of your network, you can never replace that human connection.
- Your parents are not perfect, no matter how much you like them to be.
- Having a padawan is really cool. Making that person think out of the box and grow as a writer is even more awesome.
- I'm a card carrying SMORE (social media whore.)
1. Transition into travel writing and magazines.
2. Make slightly bigger ripples.
3. Be more attuned spiritually.
4. Travel to more destinations in and around Myanmar, India, maybe head to Nepal and Bhutan.
5. Connect with techies in Kolkata, rock the scene.
6. Connect with more expats in Kolkata, rock that scene too. ^_^
7. Get my solar panel project off the ground. (Please email me [yuyudin at gmail dot com] individually if you're interested.)
Photo by ViaMoi
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
You know the year can't end with last minute meme of some sort. Well, this isn't an official twitter meme but feel free to pass it on. (Folks on this list can also go ahead and pass it on!) I "met" and started interacting with the following people on Twitter through either their blogs or some other people's tweets. I usually pay attention to their tweets because I have a great laugh, get ideas or learn something new. And believe me, getting the list down to just 12 tweeple is not that easy! There were other folks that I want to include but that'll be just too many people. I'll highlight them in the New Year so stay tuned!
1. Michael Leis @mleis
This is the man I blame for my Twitter addiction. ^_^ Before he came into my life it was quiet, though I had set up my Twitter account before I never really saw the use until I was woken by his thought provoking post on marketing. I first read one of Michael's post on iMedia Connection about the future of social media. I saw that I can have a conversation with him on Twitter so we hit it off. Jokes aside, I wouldn't have met the rest of the wonderful folks if it wasn't for him.
2. Leah Dossey @CreativeWisdom
I got to Leah's profile through @Jimconnolly when she answered a post on creating Twitter backgrounds. She's written an excellent tutorial on making your own Twitter backgrounds. We DM-ed (Direct Message) back and forth and hit it off immediately. She's a great designer and has a really fast turn around time according to folks who've worked with her. So if you need a designer stat, she's the person you go to.
3. Ande @dailytwitter
First you have to check out Daily Twitter the site. It's going to be expanding in 2009 as a news site. But guess where the news is coming from? Yup, the microblogging world! Besides, Ande is a great guy to follow, he's a great dude to brain storm with. I think he started following me when I replied back to someone, I forget, but hey replies will get you followers too so don't be so self absorbent!
4. Michael Gass @michaelgass
Michael Gass is my Jedi in advertising. If you're into advertising he's THE person to follow. He'll push your thoughts beyond the Web 2.0 world with his tweets. He asks the right questions and he points to the right answers. Advertising and marketing has a line that gets blurred often. An ad copy is just as important as a marketing copy. I never had "formal" training in either subjects so I need to read and learn stuff. Sure enough, you'll learn everything you need about the advertising world and where it's headed from just following Michael Gass's tweets.
5. Valerie Stevens @ValerieStevens
Valerie Stevens is a bit of a mystery woman, which intrigues me a lot. She's a hard core social media maven. She's already using Facebook and Twitter in a very synergistic way. In just a short span of time she has a good amount of people following her on Twitter as well as joining her group on Facebook. She's going to be traveling and launching a lot of blog properties in 2009 so I'm really interested in watching what she does. Plus she's a fun person to interact with.
I got to David via @mleis. I think I've seen his blog before but never really interacted until I started following him on Twitter. He writes about social media strategy and content, how it all ties together and how you should harness the power of your network. If you're a writer or an Internet marketer you should totally follow this guy. He brings news from the "edge".
Have a fabulous New Year!
Photo by: carrotcreative
Sunday, December 21, 2008
I've been on Twitter a lot lately and folks like @dailytwitter and @anandnataraj would ask me about the film I made when I was 16. So I think it's due that I wrote a post about it. My journey to this film was started by Rona, the then Assistant Principal of Manhattan International High (MIHS) School. We had a great school, it was part of the alternative school system in NYC. And you might've guessed, we call our teachers by their first names.
MIHS was established a year before I was in ninth grade, housed in the old Julia Richmond school. It was meant for kids who were in the US for less than four years, so it's a totally ESL (English as a Second Language) school. Being in that building itself was pretty school because there were small schools inside that huge building.
Being "alternative" meant that there were less stress on tests and more emphasis on other ways of learning. After I learned about something we had the choice of writing a research paper about the subject, or in my case, I wrote short stories. When we learned Shakespeare, we'd write essays about it, as well as perform to the class. I always borrowed the school camera for my class. I joined the theater club as well.
So when the call for the "Intensive Filmmaking Workshop" came, my name was listed. I was asked if I'd be interested to apply. Spend the summer learning how to make a film? Why not! I heard there were about 500 applicants, where only 5 were selected. We had to write an essay, then we were shortlisted, interviewed, and selected. Two students were selected from my school - Katia and myself. The other students came from other alternative high school like Educational Video Center (a vocational high school), High School for Performing Arts, and High School for Environmental Studies. I also did a morning program called "Word Up" which was headed by the superintendent's office. That was a great program too there were classes for the arts like acting, singing, visual arts etc.
The workshop taught us everything about how to make a film from scratch. We discussed film theory, history, and anything that had to do with producing our little short student film. One requirement of the program was that we had to make a film on Paul Robeson. We were like, who? We researched about him in addition to researching and learning about film. Needless to say, it was the best summers I had in New York. Sam, one of the students who produced the film was gracious enough to transfer the film online so here it is:
After I produced the film, I joined Globalvision, Inc. I'm using this space to add collections of my work. You can read my letter to the Village Voice here published that same year. It was a big deal back then because this is my first "published" piece of writing. ^_^
Friday, December 19, 2008
News of the current unemployment rates in the US and job losses saddens me. Even in India the papers are saying that there's a slow down in hiring. As I look back at 2008, I realize that this is probably the tenth year of my working life, albeit three years in the middle, when I took a hiatus. I came to India, got myself a degree, and learned new skills. I worked on freelance projects and tested the waters of corporate India. All this time, I've never looked for a job. Not even for the freelance gigs. I did it because I had a great network of friends, colleagues, and a caravan of characters.
When I think about my luck at getting phone calls of jobs and projects from folks, I realized that it can't be just luck and friends. There has to be something more. And I'm not even including the HR consultants who call on this list because my resume is not registered with any job sites. However, I am on LinkedIn and Twitter -- which I suggest you get on too if you're not already there.
I'd like to share the 6 key things that I do that gets me offers for jobs without looking:
1. Don't be comfortable
I'm a person who is never really settled. I was born a nomad and that I will always be. Usually I'm not comfortable with doing just one thing. My "monkey" brain often wanders off. That's how I get great ideas, and keep myself creative and innovative. I'm always in search of "the next level." In order for you to grow as an individual and a professional. Ask yourself: "What's MY next level?" Be brutally honest with the answer. You might even have to change yourself, re-learn things, or pick up new skills. It's natural to be scared of change, but it's OK. And you're not alone in being scared of change here's a study on why change is so hard.
2. Know your shitz
When I started out in film, I only had the creative brain to write stories. I had no idea about filmmaking. When I became managing editor of a print magazine, I had no idea how to run a magazine. When I took over my current position, I had no clue about email marketing. (Catching my drift?)
For filmmaking, I was selected to be in a summer intensive course. We were taught about everything from the process of filmmaking to film theory. Then we shot the film. For being a managing editor, I read a lot of books, on writing, and on running a magazine. My boss was gracious enough to teach me Quark Express and give me pointers on how the printing press worked when he was free. I had to research all the stuff about what makes email marketing work. I'm so grateful that sites like ClickZ, MediaPost, and iMediaConnection exist. I would be lost without them.
My then boss gave me a general direction to work with the creative. We had great brain storming sessions on content, but that wasn't going to give me clicks. I had targets to meet, and fast. I evaluated the creative, hand coded and changed the back end HTML structure. (I was told not to touch it ^_^) Oh, and I threw away the software I was supposed to be working with. But yes, the targets were met and we set new ones. All my bosses were happy. I get to keep my job and I'm happy.
Go back to your paper: what will it take to achieve your goals? Do you need to train yourself more? Remember even doctors who are professionally trained need to keep up with the latest medical journals. Again, do you need to change something that you've always done? Just because it's always done that way doesn't mean you can't improve the process for better results. Know what you have to change, experiment, wait for results. Repeat.
3. Give advice or ideas freely
If you know it, act like it. You won't believe how many times people walk up to me and ask me for directions on random streets and bookstores. In fact, just this morning a family walked up to the most foreign looking person, me, and asked me if they were in the right metro station.
Once you get on Twitter, or any forums, groups you hang out you'll see topics and questions. When someone asks a question, respond to it if you have the answer. Chances are, he or she is not the only one who have the question in mind. For LinkedIn go to the Answer section. If you're going to be active I suggest you get the feed of your field of expertise on your feed reader
This is also how I get more people networking with me or following me. When you sound like an expert on something, you ARE an expert. You don't need to prove that with paper certificates and rubber stamps (which are very very very important in India and Myanmar.)
Word of warning: people should not be using you as a walking Google or Wikipedia (they call me "yu-kipedia" here.) There's a limit. That's when you politely say, "Type so and so on Google." or wear a tee shirt that says, "Just Google It" (no, I haven't done that! But if you want it you can get it here.)
4. Network like a diplomat, not a headless chicken.
Whatever I learned about networking today, I learned from my career diplomat parents. The diplomatic community in any city is always close knit. They know who the people are to network with, what country they represent, and what they do officially. Remembering this is very important, it determines precedence, protocol, and how you act with the person. My parents stayed connected with both people from their own country and other countries.
Here's how to apply that to the Internet: Go to Twitter Search and type in your industry, field or profession check out people's profile. Follow @MrTweet and get your report on who to follow. Decide whether it'll be good for you to follow or not and follow them.
Do the same on LinkedIn but remember it's a more professional space than Twitter. Best way to do it on LinkedIn is to look at the Answer section and add the people who have interesting answers to the questions. Of course this space is best for people whom you've actually met at trade shows, conferences, conventions etc.
Don't add people like a headless chicken, adding or following everyone you see. Leave that to the teenagers (or now not so "teen" folks) on MySpace. The number of followers or friends will just be a useless number if you can't harness the power of your network. Besides, twitter will kick you out if you're following insane amount of people, have very little updates and almost no followers. Chances are tweeple will see that you're a bot and block you.
5. Never burn bridges
This goes hand-in-hand with networking like a diplomat. You know what happens when diplomats stop talking? War. One of my mentors wrote that we should know people in high places as well as in low places. But that's very vertical or linear. Life's not like that anymore -- today's mail room clerk (do they still have them?) can be tomorrow's CEO of a fortune 500 company. Just because someone is your staff, colleague, or someone who is not related to your current job process doesn't mean they would not be at a place of influence -- chances are, they already have a sphere of influence.
People are more networked and well connected today than before. Your future employers will ask about you to their friends, clients, people they've worked with either formally or even informally in conversation. Your future colleagues will always ask to the people who have worked with you, "How is she to work with?" "What is he like?" This happens a lot in India, not just for an expat like me but people generally talk about people. (Of course, you get a special spotlight when you're an expat.) Your friend or classmate can become a client. The decision your future employer makes between you and the guy or gal next to you can be that one reference. (Yes, I've faced both scenarios.)
Now once you burn a bridge, their friends, friends of friends, connections, potential clients, potential job offers are gone too.
6. Keep in touch, be visible, and put yourself "out there" (for the right reasons)
I started carrying business cards in high school. I was a cocky school president who tried to pick fights with Rudy Crew, the Chancellor of NYC Board of Education. I advocated for the alternative school system, I was part of that system. Now, I've stopped carrying business cards. I tell people I meet to just google me. I'm narcissistic enough to get a kick out of it, but I'm saving trees.
Ask yourself: Can people google me? What will they find if they do? If you don't like what you see, you better bury that stuff with the good stuff you want them to find. A quick way to do this is to sign up for all the major professional social networks like LinkedIn, Plaxo, Naymz, Xing, join a niche social network of your industry on Ning, Facebook (though it's more 'social'.) Make sure your name is in the URL like: http://linkedin.com/in/yuyudin. Remember, your name IS your brand. Protect it with your life. Manage your reputation online and offline. The next thing to do is to have a blog with your name on it. But you need to update that on a regular basis. Talk about the subjects that you know. Read this article for personal brand. Read this one on your online reputation management.
Thanks for reading this until the end (it came out longer than I thought) ^_^ Click here to get connected with me on LinkedIn or click here to follow my crazy thought process on Twitter. Thanks CC for the proof read!
Photo by: khalilshah
Friday, December 12, 2008
Hilarious. Gotta see this before you get into marketing or call centers...
Posted by Yu Yu at 2:57 PM
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
I lost two cousins back-to-back to AIDS a couple of years ago. One was a famous rock star in Myanmar (Burma) Ba Din -- most people of my generation would remember him. He's one of those rare musicians that actually composed his own music. Most music in Burma are just the western music in Burmese. (Try listening to "My Heart Will Go On" in Burmese it's horrible, though Eminem is not bad.) The other cousin was his brother -- one of the first generation Burmese programmers. Ko Ba Din, ("Ko" is a title of respect and love that the Burmese endow upon older brothers.) left behind a wife and a son. Ko Kwa's wife disappeared shortly after his death and many suspect her to be dead.
Incidentally, probably that same year, 2000, I had called my father to tell him that a report came out from the World Health Organization (WHO) that said that Myanmar had the highest HIV infection rate. Our health care system was ranked 190 when there's only 191 countries. Read the SF Chronicle article here. My father denied the facts, of course, as any good career diplomat would over the tapped phone lines. I understood something was up. And sure enough a couple of months down the line, my other cousin who was studying in Illinois emails me to tell me that Ko Kwa passed away from some sort of illness. I don't even know if he himself knew that it was AIDS related then.
Fast forward eight years to 2008 -- there's a ton of orphans in Myanmar right now because a lot of people from my cousins' generation are dead. Still to this day, nobody really knows how many Burmese are HIV-positive but the recent press release from UNAIDS estimates that about 240,000 people in Myanmar are infected. According to the Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF or Doctors Without Borders) 76,000 Burmese are in urgent need to antiretroviral treatment or else they will die needlessly (Most likely producing more orphans). Apparently, Myanmar receives the lowest humanitarian aid -- USD $3.00 per person only. Probably the lowest in the region compared to her neighboring countries.
This is not surprising to me, I went to Myanmar right after the Cyclone Nargis. Literally, I landed right after the skies were cleared. I wasn't used to living without electricity or proper water, but my family and neighbors managed. My mom cooked me my favorite dishes, they found stuff even when prices where going through the roof. My aunt even got me some frog curry (Ya I have weird taste in food, I can be Anthony Bourdain's apprentice). My dad put me back on the plane as fast as he could. When I came back to India, I saw that Myanmar made New York Times headlines for a couple days. As I ask myself: why do we make headlines only when monks or students get shot or a major cyclone disaster hits? Then, I check another email from the New York Times, this is a sad one: Myanmar didn't make it on the "most emailed" articles list of that week. People were more concerned about the Emmy nominations.
So this World AIDS Day, are people really concerned about AIDS or are they more concerned about Cyber Mondays and Mobile Tuesdays? Are they concerned about who to invite to their Christmas party, or their jobs, Britney Spears's new documentary on MTV, or world peace? What are folks really worried about? If you're really concerned about AIDS and the dying children in Burma, you can go ahead and send some cash to Doctors Without Borders by clicking here.
Because if you really care, saving a life is only a couple of clicks away.
Photo by Sully Pixel