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Maybe you don’t need a new year to change your life…

… maybe all you need is a couple of days?

Think about it.

Maybe major events to change your life, were orchestrated in days. Major changes in your life, perhaps happened in moments of decision. Or waves of massive action.

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This is true, at least for me.

So, naturally, I got curious… how many power moves I could make by the end of 2009?

I mean, I had a great year. Easily my best. But I really wanted to nail it good. But. So there I was with 5 days left, and Christmas Eve party hangover. What could I do?

I started with the only thing I knew. Penning my thoughts down on a list. Then, I got to work:

  1. Learned the ukulele (I can play most chords and a few songs now, wrote one of my own songs too)
  2. “Acquired” 7GB of new music to lay the soundtrack for 2010
  3. Spent a full day’s worth of quality time with mom and dad (hard to come by)
  4. Renovation! Turned my room into a creativity and rest zone (formerly known as war zone). Turned the outside of my room into a hardcore work zone (proven productivity, I tested it!)
  5. Done a whole bunch of nagging office work
  6. Printed out, designed, and put up my vision board to remind myself of the aspirations which guide me.
  7. Got back on my usual (but improved) fitness addictions with a bang!
  8. Designed a flyer for a legendary party (totally got in flow… loved it. Pointless creative expression… ah…)
  9. Threw a legendary party to celebrate life as we know it

Man. The party was SO last minute. But it really came together way beyond my expectations!

Thanks to Jenn, Gabby, and a whole bunch of friends I don’t see very often but still trust me enough to ditch their plans for a quirky mixed bag of crazy…. we had a good one.

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Highlight: Turns out Gabby’s friends from Canada and I grew up with the same anthems and when they took over the playlist, it was heaven all night long. And Jenn turned plain eggs and mayo and vegetables into some designer food OMG give me more! And the people, the jokes, the dancing, the conversation… ah… I’ll let the vivid pictures and videos crop up on Facebook. Let me get back to my point.

Admittedly, I failed to record an EP and publish a compilation of short stories on absurdity. But can’t hate a man for trying right? I’m still pretty proud of what I achieved to top off 2009 as the best year of my life.

So much cool stuff in 5 days…

And I know I’m not the only one.

Many of us are truly fortunate enough, to live in an age where were so connected, so full of ideas, energy, opportunities, and control. Our potential is limitless. And to think, all it takes is action. A few days of consistent, addictive action. Only a few days… and we can have so much immediate positive changes in our lives…

Wonder what will we be able to do with the whole of 2010? 😉

Do the math. It may change your life

untitledHow fast did yesterday go away?

How fast did the past 100 days slip by?

Say your age is 25

If you think you’ll live till 75, this means you have 18,000+ days left to live.

Having fun in your youth? You’ve got 5,000+ days till you hit 40.

Not sure when you might die? Who knows how many days you have left…

So. Out of all the days ahead of you… how many are you dedicating to being unhappy or uninspired?

Count your life in days… and maybe you’ll make today count 🙂

Untitled pixel sketch by Khailee

Speaking at Malaysia Media Conference 2009

See Why the MMC2009 kinda rocks.

The 6th Malaysian Media Conference (MMC) is an annual alumni of about 250 media pundits, industry specialists and key media decision-makers in the fields of media, marketing, branding and advertising across Malaysia. Amongst the speakers featured are thought leaders in their space from Malaysia, Singapore, India, Australia and Japan.

So what thought leading stuff am I going to share?

No, my bear wrestling and kamasutra expertise is for another conference.

I’ll speak about young people: How they’re shaking up everything we know about marketing, and what we can do to collaborate with them.

More on this from the Youth Asia website http://youthasia.com

I’ll also be showing people pictures of my grandmother. YES IT IS RELEVANT.

I’ll blog more about this when I return. Life is pretty awesome right now and I can’t wait to write more.

SOOOO if you’re going to be at the MMC2009 please say hi don’t be a stranger! Yah I know it’s like RM1,000 a ticket but I’m sure some of you can find a way 😉

I’m not the only one speaking of course, the other people have some pretty powerful ideas to share! See who else is speaking:

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Why you need people to use you

In this age where anyone can shape the web, we have a shortage of ‘normal people’. Here’s why it matters.

Have you ever seen the words "Subscribe to my RSS" in blogs and such?

You have?

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What do you think, hun? Do you really want to subscribe to my RSS? Want to de-neutralize my car’s ABS? Want to hyperbolize the MMS and be my BFF too?

Talk to me, baby.

More often than not, when well informed robot savants who create websites go about, you know, creating websites, they talk like well informed robot savants who, well, create websites. And they want normal people to “get it”.

Sadly, normal people who use their websites don’t get it.

Happily, the best minds in the world see this as an opportunity.

Think: Why do people use one search engine over another? Or use one web application, social network, or email client over another?

Amongst different reasons, “Because it is easy to use” is one big one.

More people are realizing the need to make the web more usable by normal people. Not just in the interface, but in the choice of words. These best minds in the world will help brands communicate in the web, help presidents win elections by organizing the masses, and help any business get the edge in the age of the internet.

So why then are so many websites so difficult to use?

The worldwide shortage of normal people

Yes, my fiends, we have a shortage of normal people. It’s true!

Why? Because they turned into mutant people!

People tend to start off normal. Then, they decided to learn the language of the web, learn marketing, learn programming, and “learn” all this esoteric knowledge which converts them into mutant people.

They forget who they were: Normal people.

Or worse, normal people pay mutant people loads of money to do stuff they don’t understand. I see this all the time. Big brand pays ad agency who pays interactive agency who pays IT mutant graduate to ‘make a website’ and you end up with a 20MB Flash game which requires you to have a degree in aeronautics to meander. “WHOA THIS IS USER ENGAGEMENT HOLLA!” they holler.

Do we holla back, girl?

Don’t. Don’t feed the web with unusable junk. It’s cluttered as it is.

We expect marketers to know this, but they have not forcefully applied their consumer-centric thinking to web environments. This is still evident today, as new web applications, social networks, ‘websites’ and tools flood the market.

Will normal people return to save us from the de-humanization of web communication?

The ‘easy to use’ revolution

More interactive agencies, web designers, and programmers are getting on the human language, user experience design, and usability patterns bandwagon. Programmers, designers, and copywriters are getting in the loop. It’s been a hot trend for a few years now, I know, but it has not hit mainstream.

But it will.

Soon, companies will only want to hire these hybrid-mutant-normal-people, not super-mutants. Businesses which use hybrid-mutant-normal-workforce will get more customers consuming their stuff because it is ‘the most easy to use’.

What can normal people and mutants do about it?
  • Become a usability expert on top of your current profession. Whether you’re a marketer, copywriter, programmer, or designer, learn it, and shout about it for instant career-differentiation. It isn’t hard to learn, just go on Delicious or Diigo or Google and look for ‘usability’ and ‘ux’.
  • Use “Hallway Usability Testing”: Not just for websites, but ad campaigns too. Just get any random person from the hallway to use your web application, blog theme, Flash game, TVC etc and watch them fumble to grasp it. Experts say you avert 95% of usability problems with this alone.
  • Buy a copy of “Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug for starters. The philosophies behind the book will change you back to normal again.
  • The next time you say ‘I need a website’: Remember, you want something normal people can use. And if you insist on being unique in how you want your audience to use your website, you might as well sell cars which forces people to use their hips to steer the wheel.

Being unique and new in your ideas and communication is powerful.

But forcing people to adopt new and unique ways of engaging with you costs normal people time and attention, which they might not have enough of.

Afterthoughts on RSS

Let’s wrap this up with a simple, practical example. The answer to my initial question which started it all. What is a more humanized way to get you to ‘Subscribe to my RSS’?

If you want to know what RSS is and what use it has, get this: RSS describes a way your blog posts (or any information) is output so other devices can read it. Like, say, when you want to know when someone’s new blog post is out, you can subscribe to their RSS with a RSS reader…OK Forget what I said. It’s mutant talk.

See this instead. (Can’t wait to get this in my upcoming re-design of my 3 year old blog) It’s one of the better examples of I’ve seen so far…

 

It’s taken from this original article from “Website magazine”.

So forget “Subscribe to my RSS”, just speak like a human! It’s a small step to getting more users to listen, and big step at humanizing the web, one experience at a time.

Cute “Don’t feed the dog” photo by jakobinac

“I hope you read this by Friday”

Updated: With excerpt of email replies I got.

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Photo by Justin Mott

I sent an email to 100 people that night.

It was a twilight experiment with kindness. And dying for animals. I’m republishing it here just to see… what would you have done, if I wrote this email to you?

Heya,

I was going through my contact list on Gmail and picked out your name.

Slightly random, maybe, but not really….
I chose to write to you, for a reason.

There were hundreds of other names, but nah, I wouldn’t send this email to them. I chose to send this email to you.

Why?

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Getting someone to build a website for you? Here’s one thing you must know.

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Photo from mikebaird

I received a very distressed phone call from a friend last week.

She said, “These freelance programmers are like mechanics! Always trying to cheat me!”

I laughed a lot, because I thought it was a funny metaphor.

The sad, unfunny part is, this is the second friend this year who went through great pain just to get a website up.

A website which doesn’t really work.

For my friends, this sort of pain was long and intense, involving many months and much moolah on fighting. Fighting with the technology built, and the person who built it.

I don’t want this happen to any more of my friends.

So here’s the tip.

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Know a friend who is between studies? Fresh grad? Very curious?

Tell them about this somewhat different internship…. open to 2 somewhat different people.

Why different?

Consider this

  • You’ll work alongside an elite team of thinkers from 10 different countries in an American company based in KL Sentral.
  • Your work involves the next evolution of blogs, unraveling internet culture, and a mathematical algorithm code-named “SocialRank”.
  • Together, you’ll create a network of 1,000 influential media sites, powered by this algorithm.
  • You’ll be mentored by Mike Reining, eBay’s former Head of New Venture Strategy, Stanford MBA, who helped eBay acquire Skype for $4.1 Billion

At this point you might be wondering what you might be doing… (And if you’re wondering, that’s good. If you’re curious by nature, and interested in people, and the internet, you’ll find this opportunity twice as rewarding)

Your typical day involves

  • Investigating what people are interested in / passionate about
  • Identifying blogs which cater to those interests
  • Going into our soundproof room of whiteboard walls as part of every relevant discussion and brainstorm

Will you occasionally get friendly with a photocopier machine? No. This is a somewhat different internship, remember? Heck, we don’t even use paper.

So what will you gain?

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TEDtalks In Malaysia?

TED is described as “Inspired talks by the world’s greatest thinkers and doers”. They’re recorded from the actual conference in California, free for you to download as audio / video here.

Is Malaysia getting a piece of the action?

Sort of.

Watch these guys in action. Live. For free.

From the left:

This is NOT TED – but it is still awesome. The initiative is called

Register right now – first come first serve.

And they let you on only 3. But I may be going for all of them under a media pass from theCICAK.

BHPetrol Orange Run 9km Shocker

After 2 weeks of trash talking, the big day arrived…

My colleagues and I at MindValley do more than run mySQL queries and AdWords campaigns… we run offline too ;P

7 of us take part in BHPetrol’s 9km Orange Run at TheCurve.

Khailee: I bought new running shorts. I’ll show them to you when you arrive at the finish line.

Mike: Michelle and I are out having drinks, but we’ll still be able to carry you to the finish line if you need help.

Dave: Get used to looking at C675 (my runner’s number)

The Results

The race is over! No-shows Talat and Vishen, they will be buying all of us dinner to make up for their embarrassment to humankind.

Dave earns bragging rights for his feat of endurance.

Even though we’re all completely tired and terribly injured from the intense competition (or in Vishen’s case, intense partying the night before), we’re already making plans for The Penang Bridge Run in later June this year.

I will redeem myself then.

For now, I’m actually kinda disappointed at myself. I’m used to feeling like an athletic breakdancing ninja, competing in sporting events, running every week etc… However, this morning, I was struggling to maintain a running pace. Worse still, I completely busted my right knee!

I’m not even going to remind myself of the octogenarians and schoolchildren who left me in the dust.

THIS IS A WAKE-UP CALL TO MY BODY

  • I realize I don’t have the stamina / horse power I used to possess
  • I am more prone to injury.
  • My mental strength / willingness to exert has decreased

I MUST NOT go down the path to ageing, poor health, and general unattractiveness!

I refuse to let elements of poor health screw up the story of my life! The last thing I want is to be imprisoned in a fragile, vulnerable, limiting shell a.k.a my body.

I guess all I can do now is write about my fury till my mutant healing powers kick in. Once I recuperate, let the training begin!

P.S – Come join us for a run? Or better yet, for your dream job! We’re hiring bloggers and programmers. More on that in a bit.