2015 – A year of great reminders

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Definition of a ‘reminder’ – a thing that causes someone to remember something.

The year is almost over. It is time to pause for some reflection. 2015 has been a year of great REMINDERS for me – important things that I knew of but either ignored or have forgotten.

  • I am reminded that nothing is more important than having good health – both physical and mental. Self-care is so important but often neglected. Btw, check out these amazing Ted Talks on the topic. My mum reminded me, “you have only one body and one life, take care of it!”

    Learn to pause, to stop, to rest. When people ask me how I am now, I reply, “I am very busy. Busy taking care of MYSELF.”
  • Family will always be there for you, no matter what happens. Treasure your time with them, especially your parents. My mum surprised me so many times last few months – with her openness, her wisdom and strength. I am reminded of the amount of quality time we have left with our aging parents. So, please don’t be upset when I turn down weekends’ invitations to parties and outing. I am reserving weekends for my family. I want to be there for my baby niece, Maeve who is growing up so quickly. I want to hang out at kopitiam with my brothers and have zi char with my parents.
  • Let Go –  Some things and some people are just not worth your time, do them and yourself a favour – let them go. I am reminded that there is nothing negative in giving up. Sometimes, this means having to let go of jobs that are no longer aligned with your goals, staying away from toxic people and while I may not know what I want all the time, most of the time, I know what I don’t want. Learning to let go has been an on-going lesson that sounds so cliche but such an important reminder.
  • Another cliche but … yes, it’s never too late to pick up new skills and follow your dream. One of the best things that happened this year was an 8-week course I took in Art Therapy. I was reminded of a passion I once had in art and painting. I discovered a lot about myself through art therapy.And, Hooray! I am finally going back to school to pursue a Master’s degree in Jan 2016! I am reminded that you are never too old to study, to discover and learn new things.
  • Gratitude and forgiveness. I keep a gratitude journal to remind myself that despite some bad days, some unfortunate situations in life, I still have a lot to be thankful for. I am also reminded that when you forgive, it is not because the other person deserve it, you forgive because you deserve peace. Move on.

So, there you go – a lot had happened in 2015 and I am so grateful for everything I have learned and experienced.

My ex-teammate, Channtal reminded me that it had been a rewarding year for me. I like that. Rewarding is such a great word to describe my 2015. I am going ahead to celebrate and enjoy my rewards – that come in the form of reminders. I look forward to 2016 and hope it’ll be a year full of new discoveries and good health. Cheers.

The world of alternate history

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“There was another life that I might have had, but I am having this one.” – Kazuo Ishiguro

As a book lover, I try to read books from different genres, both fiction and non fiction. Recently, I discovered ‘alternate history’ (abbreviated AH) – a genre of fiction, usually set in worlds in which historical events happen differently from how it did in reality. It is more like a sub-genre of science fiction and historical fiction.

I probably read more historical fiction than Sci-fi. I enjoyed titles like The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini and of course, Philippa Gregory’s The Other Boleyn Girl. 

Sci-fi is my favourite movie genre but I seldom pick up a sci-fi book, until I came across Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go. Set in postwar Britain, but in an alternate universe in which biological technology has advanced more rapidly than in our world. If you have not read the story, (this is a bit of a spoiler), the story’s main characters are clones raised to be adults in order to be harvested for their organs.

The fascinating thing about the AH genre is that it allows the authors to ask “What if” of history. According to Steven H Silver, alternate history requires three things: 1) the story must have a point of divergence from the history of our world prior to the time at which the author is writing, 2) a change that would alter history as it is known, and 3) an examination of the ramifications of that change.

Here are some popular books that you may have read or heard of that fall under the genre of alternate history

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell — by Susanna Clarke

11/22/63 — by Stephen King

The Man in the High Castle — by Philip K. Dick

Making History — by Stephen Fry

1945 — by Robert Conroy

Speak, I am Listening

“Speak, We’re Listening” 
That was the theme of this year’s Hillsong Conference.

More than 30,000 Christians from different churches attended the week-long event (including Justin Bieber) at the Allphone Arena, Sydney. This is my second Hillsong Conference in Australia. I’ve also been to the conference in London. I called it my “annual pilgrimage.”

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Musician Martin Smith led worship at the Hillsong Conference ’15

This year’s conference was especially meaningful to me. Almost every pastor/ speaker in different sessions spoke into various situations in my life. It is as if God is using their words to encourage, to remind me of His faithfulness and promises. I walked out of the conference last Friday with revelations
(I called them my “AHA, and AMEN moments”).

There were also several divine connections this trip. Two of my classmates from my recent Art Therapy class went to the conference too (and no, we didn’t plan for it together, infact, we hardly talked to one another in class). And I made some new friends!

Many friends from Singapore who were unable to make the trip have been asking me about the conference. So here are a couple of things I thought I’ll share, hopefully to encourage & bless someone:-

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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