My Exciting New Adventure with Spotify

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Next week, I am starting a new adventure! I will be joining Spotify, as Head of Social Media, APAC.

spotifylogonewI am a huge fan of the brand so this new role is incredibly exciting for me.

When Spotify was launched in Singapore last April, I immediately signed up as a premium user.  It has a massive – and growing – catalogue of more than 20 million songs. Aside from the big names from the US and UK, you can also find Singaporean artists such as PlainsunsetCorrinne May, my talented ex-colleague Tay Kexin and her sister Kewei.

Since its public launch in 2008, Spotify has been leading a revolution across the world, shifting the  music industry’s focus toward streaming as a way to combat illegal downloading. My role will be focusing on building social marketing capabilities in Asia, shaping how Spotify communicates and engages with music lovers through social media.

Other Cool Stuff 

I had the opportunity to speak with some really passionate and inspiring people at Spotify and I really liked what was shared about the company.

Extra perks – some of the offices have been known to host private concerts by popular artists! I am off to New York next week for orientation and to spend some time with the team. Who knows, I might bump into some unexpected famous faces.

Some Great Memories

I also want to take this opportunity to thank the amazing people I worked with in my previous role at SingTel. As the saying goes “There is no ‘I’ in team but there is in WIN.” Together with our agency partners – especially the team at Social@Ogilvy – we had some great successes.

I had so much fun working on the award-winning #Need4GSpeed real-time social marketing campaign and had a total blast being part of the Gordon Ramsay VS #Hawkerheroes brand campaign. The bonus – I get some cool close-up shots with Chef Ramsay!

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Exciting Time Ahead 

I am looking forward to starting my exciting new journey with Spotify!  If you have any thoughts or suggestions on how we can add value to each other’s work, feel free to drop me a note. If you are already a Spotify user, you know where to find me!

Here’s a playlist of my current favourites:

My Blog Post Featured on Tumblr Radar

Something cool happened last night.

One of my paintings (yes, of a penguin) got featured on the Tumblr Radar! Overnight, that post garnered more than 4k “love notes” (in Facebook’s terms – LIKES) and hundreds “reblogged” (in Twitter’s term – “Retweets”). As I am typing this, it has grown to more than 6.6k. My Tumblelog also gained hundreds of new followers overnight.

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For those who are not Tumblr users, the Radar is an editorial post review, curated by the Tumblr team. Once on radar, the post is highlighted on other users’ dashboard for a period of time.

I signed up on Tumblr a few years ago but wasn’t active until recently. The blog was meant to be used as a ‘creative journal’ to keep & share some random sketches, ideas and paintings I do. I hardly cross-amplify the content on my other social networks, so it is interesting how things can ‘go viral’ overnight.

I just read articles/ tips about “How to Get Featured on Tumblr Radar” and my newly set-up blog met almost NONE of the criteria. And no, I don’t know any one from the Editorial team either.

So, I believe there are a few learnings and reminders I can take away from this experience:

1) Don’t start out wanting to make anything ‘viral’. In fact, get rid of that word in your mind

2) Start with creating authentic & relevant content

3) Think of the audience you want to share it with. I tagged the post with tags like “Acrylic painting, penguins, art”, hoping I can share it with like-minded folks on Tumblr and that was probably how they found the post

4) I believe consistency in content publishing is important. I try to post at least twice a week and only share content that the blog was meant for. So, don’t expect my other obsessions (food or books) to show up on that blog, unless I decided to paint my scramble eggs or sketch my favourite author

5) There are exciting happenings & conversations happening outside of Facebook or Twitter

(And as I finished typing this post, the little penguin has 7.4k “LOVE NOTES”) Woohoo!

Online Learning: My MOOC Experience

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Oxford University Press inducted “MOOC” (massive open online courses) into its Oxford Dictionaries Online recently. The definition: “A course of study made available over the Internet without charge to a very large number of people.”

Friends and family know that I love books and I love studying. I strongly believe in life-long learning. Imagine my excitement when MOOC (in the form of Coursera) came to my attention last year. I like the idea behind MOOC – to bring education to the masses, allowing more people globally the opportunity to study university level courses. All the courses are free and in most cases (from what I have read so far) so are the learning materials.

I started browsing through courses and found a broad range of subjects, from medical neuroscience, song writing, child nutrition cooking to artificial intelligence.

An Introduction to Marketing from the University of Pennsylvania was the course I eventually signed up for.

It required some level of commitment to go through all the course materials each week and participating in forums, hangouts and completing the assignments. The returns, however were great! I gained new knowledge on Customer Centricity, new  go-to-market strategies and social advertising concepts that I was not aware of. At the end of the course, I scored 91/100 for the exam and was awarded a statement of accomplishment signed by the three professors who led the course. Students can download and keep all the course materials  even after the course has ended. 

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I am currently enrolled in two other courses on Content Strategy from the Northwestern Uni and interesting one on Moralities of Everyday Life  from Yale.

While I am excitedly telling many friends about my experience with MOOC, only two have tried to do the courses. Most of the reasons are – “too busy” and “I am not very good at studying”. I would like to recommend Time Management for Dummies  to the first group of people and for the latter, it is exactly what MOOC is about. It isn’t your traditional brick and mortar classroom studying as you know it.

I have also read in news reports about low completion rate for those who enrolled.

I am definitely not an expert in the education industry.  I can’t tell if this will be a fad or it could be the future of education. BUT, I know that I’ve gained valuable insights and knowledge and I plan to continue learning.

To read review of the various MOOC providers, click here 

To my Secret santas

I LOVE Christmas.

Religious beliefs aside, Christmas means alot more than just gift exchanges, bright glittery lights, yummy food and alcohol.  (I do like Christmas sales though!)

Every year, I find myself all stressed up about having to buy ‘obligatory’ Christmas gifts for family and friends. I don’t believe in gift buying for the sake of it, esp. for people I am not close to. However, not to be the grinch at parties, I often end up doing rounds of gift exchanges (mostly secret santa styled). This year, I already have 4 secret santas!

So, in the attempt to give Christmas the true meaning of  “Season of giving”, here’s what I hope my secret santas would consider:-

I don’t want any more chocs (am on diet) and don’t need any more scented candles (I just bought a new bright lamp) and definitely don’t want any stuff toy (no space on my bed/ shelves), so if you are also stressing over what to get for my ‘obligatory gift’ …. please just donate in my name (my email at pris_tan@yahoo.com) to any of the three Charities/ causes I truly believe in and support:-

* World Vision
* Singapore Zoo
* WWF

This way, no stress for you and lots of benefits for the people and charities who really need help.

Thank you, Santas. :X

NO seems to be the hardest word

Elton John could be wrong when he sang “Sorry seems to be the hardest word.”

Recently, I realised “NO” is a very difficult word for many people.

Generally, I don’t like to say no. In the past, whenever someone (especially at work) had a request, I would say yes. A part of me did not want to burn bridges and I always try to avoid confrontations. I also try to compromise and say yes to help my friends whenever they ask, because I hate to disappoint.

I also realised many people cannot accept being told “NO.”  The word “No” is almost a dirty word, people take them personally even when the intentions were good.

Over the years, I’ve learned and grown wiser, thanks to various mentors and close friends in my life who helped put things into better perspective.

I learned that every time we say yes to something, we are actually saying no to something else.

When you say yes to working overtime every day, you say no to your social and family life and personal hobbies. When you say yes to a job you don’t love, you say no to a dream you may have. When you say yes to attending a meeting you are not even sure why you are there, you are saying no to another more important task that you could have done with that time.

Susan Newman, author of “The Book of No” wrote, “By saying no, you can focus on your goals.” Saying yes to everything can damage your reputation and hurt your career (and may I add, your life too).

People (myself included) should learn that saying no is okay. Recently, I said No to a couple of requests and immediately was made to feel bad. I was worried about being rude, seen as being unhelpful and not a good person. Someone told me “maybe you should just agree and do what you are asked anyway.”

The episodes kept me awake. I concluded that there was a reason for saying No. And even after communicating the reason, the recipients pushed back. (Aha, those were always tricky). The guilt doubled!

By saying yes to something I didn’t believe in, I would have to say no to doing the right thing and upholding my beliefs.

A very wise mentor used to tell me, “People (the smart ones anyway) respect you more when you say no to the right things.” Sure, everyone may like you because they can get you to do everything they want for them. But do they really have respect for the guy or for his time?

Now, go ponder. And then learn. This is not a post to encourage people to be lazy at work or be an anti-social being. This is a post of a personal reminder and a revelation that saying “NO” is not a bad thing. Learning to say “NO” is not easy but necessary and there are many benefits that come with it. Practising how to say NO in life and at work can be a challenge but one that everyone should take up.

Have you ever bought an audiobook?

Economic Times in India recently reported that Audiobooks are gaining popularity in the Indian markets.

For their ability to reach out to people who cannot read and for those who want to multitask in modern day busy lifestyle, audiobooks in India are slowly getting popular, though the industry is still in its infancy.

Audiobooks have been popular among children but now famous books and novels are being converted into this format for adults too.

Three years ago, I wrote a blog post about audio books. I mentioned that I didn’t think that audiobooks were doing well in Asian markets, now it looks like it is changing. I also wrote about the reasons I love audiobooks.

I love books – in any format. I bought the iPad to try save space on my bookshelves. I got addicted and started buying several titles on Amazon Kindle and via iBooks.

Recently, when I was listening to a podcast , I got a promotional code to get a free audiobook of my choice from Audible.com. Out of curiousity (how could I resist a FREE book?), I tried!

Do you know that Audible.com is a subsidiary of Amazon? I found out that you can listen to audiobooks from Audible.com on different devices, including iPod/ iPad, Android smartphones etc. According to the website, it currently has more than 85,000 titles.

I received my free audiobook and was very happy. The customer service at Audible.com was very quick to respond to questions and was very helpful when I ran into some billing issues later on.

A useful and interesting site –  NextAdvisor.com also came to my attention recently. It allows you to check out audiobook reviews, compares audiobooks subscription plans etc.

My fellow book lovers would often argue that electronic books will never replace the hard copies and I doubt many of them have tried an audiobook. I just loved the fact that I can consume books in different formats at different time. I usually listen to audiobooks when I am running. I do drag my iPad out to read during commute and sometimes, I laze by the pool or on my couch with a nice paperback novel.

However, I noticed that not many of my friends (those who actually read and love books) are into audiobooks. I asked the Rambling Librarian why and he said “short attention lifespan for spoken words …”

So, question – Have you bought an audiobook and why do you think they are not doing as well as other format of books? Price? Reading behavior?

For those of you who want to try one out, here’s a 30-day trial on Amazon/ Audible.com,  iTunes has a good selection and check out Simply Audiobooks too.

For my Singaporean friends, the National Library has a a good selection of audiobook titles too.

Happy Reading!

Aahh… dolce far niente! A new year resolution

Ah! dolce far niente!. It means “pleasant idleness”, the sweetness of doing NOTHING (in Italian)

It is the start of a new year. Many friends have been posting their new year’s resolutions on Facebook. I believe in having goals and working towards them but somehow, like many people, I have not been very successful in keeping my new year’s resolutions.

This year, I decided to make only ONE resolution. One that sounds too simple and almost silly to make it as a New Year’s resolution.

I want to learn to find the joy of doing nothing. The two key words “Joy” and “Nothing.

Before you jump in to tell me how I should not be lazy (my mum would), I am not referring to being a beach bum, not finding employment or inactivity.

“Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.” –  Winnie the Pooh

The concept of ‘doing nothing’ sounds good to many people but something that many fail to do, especially Asians (and women). Many of us are so used to being too busy and doing too much. Learning to do ‘nothing’ or finding the joy and sweetness to just do nothing sound like an impossible task. Doing nothing is not inactivity. “Sit” around is a verb, so is “Smell” the roses but how many of us are actually doing that?

I read a great article in ELLE magazine asking readers when was the last time you really take a day off to sit on your couch, with a nice cup of coffee, read a good book and not feel guilty about not cleaning the house, not running errand, not attending to last minute work emails and just give yourself a day to just ‘be with yourself” and “do nothing much?” The article went on to say that women are prone to suffer from guilt for taking time off for themselves.

For a long time, I had been so busy with work and when I had a day off, I also had a long ‘to-do’ list – “go for gym training, go to the bank, reply ‘urgent’ emails, pick up groceries, meet up friends for dinner etc” Before I know it, the day off was gone and I was tired and upset that I didn’t get to REST!

Recently, due to various reasons, I decided to take a break from work (I realised it was a great decision I made in 2010).

A part of me is so eager to find the next new exciting role, especially when great friends and contacts are enthusiastic about sharing work opportunities. The wiser bit of me is persuading myself to just take some time off to breathe, enjoy this rare period when I can truly do the things I have always wanted to do but always too busy to.

I am convinced that doing nothing takes more effort and more determination than to rush around and doing many things.

I am not saying that my goal is not to work so that I can master the art of doing nothing, what I am saying is, I want to learn to find the joy in resting and taking absolute pleasure in idling some times (even if it’s just spending 15mins each day after work lying on my bed, staring at the ceiling and not feel guilty that I’ve not updated this blog or not reply to my work emails).

My pastor often reminds us of a great revelation he shared about the topic -“restful increase.” Key words – Rest and you’ll find the Increase. I am not going to preach here (follow the link if you want to read more about what Pastor said…).

To end this post, here are some pictures of my New Year holiday at a lovely resort by the beach in Bintan, Indonesia where I learned to enjoy doing absolutely nothing much. I eat, sleep, rest, read, stare at the sea, at the sky and strolled from one end of the beach to the other by myself, listening to my favourite music …then eat and sleep again..”

So, today marks the start of my new year resolution – in search of la dolce far niente. The next time you see me stressed and rushing around doing 1001 things, you know what to tell me!