Saturday, 26 December 2015

Where is my hoverboard?

2015. Twenty fifteen. Two-thousand fifteen. However way you say it, it sounds like this year still remains somewhere in a far flung future. In fact, there was a running joke based on a particular scene in the 1987 film Back to the Future, where the listed date (the 25th of October), was the day that Marty McFly managed to take a peek into the future. And what a future it was, filled with hovercars, self-lacing shoes and the wackiest clothing one has ever seen. In many ways this was a year of unfulfilled expectations of a grand future, but in other ways

 But alas, the day is here. 2015 will soon be no more, and what was the future will now be the past. It reminds me of a quote by one of my favourite American stand-up comedians; George Carlin; “There is no such thing as the present. There is only the past and the immediate future”. In many ways this senile old man speaks the truth.What does it mean to actually be in the "present"? To feel your surroundings a little better? To appreciate the warmth, happiness, excitement and boredom around you? I don't know the answer to this question just yet and perhaps I never will.

Random digressions aside, I thought I would structure this post a little differently from my other end of year reflections. Instead of a flowing narrative, I've opted to create a rather disjointed list of positives and negatives, achieved and missed opportunities for the year.

Relationships

Every year of my university life seems to get better and better in virtually all facets of my life. My career horizons have expanded, the friendships I have developed age and mature, my appreciation of my surroundings and family and strengthened, I feel like my knowledge of world issues has increased through exposure and travel, and I have actually begun to enjoy some of the law electives and things I have studied at university.

 That said, 2015 is the first year since I started university almost half a decade ago where I haven't dated someone. And as much I would love to tell myself that solitary existence is very much an appealling one (apparently it soon will be once I hit the workforce and reach other milestones) I miss the warmth of a girl. I miss constantly being in someone's thoughts, the chase, the presents and my fucking sex drive isn't abating anywhere. It hasn't been the smoothest year in terms of mental anguish and I have been overseas a lot; but at my core I recognise that it is my lack of faith in my own strengths that has had the most profound effect on my psyche towards relationships. In all honesty I expected to have experienced much more in the field than I did have at the commencement of university, these expectations have unfortunately been left unfilled.

 Pop Culture

 This year I also made a point to return to those "wasted years" of my high school life where I mindlessly consumed animated media, pop culture and general comic book/ anime memorabilia. I did enjoy the experience but perhaps with the level head I have now I would have spent more time learning Mandarin than over analysing the mental processes of how Naruto approached his childhood of anguish. Visiting Supanova and SMASH made me realise that these sorts of consumption isn't restricted to high-schoolers or bored university students. Working adults dress up specfically for this event in homage to their favourite super-heroes and super-heroines, and I was pleasantly surprised to meet a whole cohort of genuinely kind and welcoming people. It will never be the influence or time waster as it once was, but this is an interest I will likely keep around for the years to come.

 China and Australia

 The more that time passes, the more the importance of the relationship between Australia and China is realised and reported on throughout our media. It makes me realise that my parents were wizards for forcing me to visit Chinese school in my younger days and kick myself for not learning it more thoroughly. Despite this, my foundation exists and continues to remain relevant in new ways to me whether it be being able to converse with elderly folk across Sydney, interact with international students as part of my role within the SRC, achieve status as the Sponsorships officer at my home ACYA society or even career progression here at the Australian Consulate-General Guangzhou. It will be one of my goals for the year to come to cement and build upon this existing foundation I have been blessed to earn from my younger years.

 General Achievements

 At the conclusion of my term at Google, I can definitively say that this is definitely NOT the greatest place on Earth to work at. Similar to the way celebrity worship works, Google has some sort of aura that everyone my age is attracted to. Whether it be the play room, free food, gimmicks or everything. But the people are the most important resource of any company, and to be completely frank the little contact that I have had with some of the staff there haven't always been the best. 

 For the first time in my life I also had the opportunity to make a TED talk. Sure it wasn't an official one, just a minute piece during "Fast Ideas" component of the whole presentation which wasn't even recorded, but it was a nerve wracking experience in and of itself, and something I will look back upon with fond memories.

 Unfilfilled expectations

 There also remains a real list of regrets and unmet expectations I had for this year, all of which I have no-one to blame for but myself. My health and wellbeing being first and foremost. I have not kept in shape despite constant promises to do so. After a brief stint in adhering to the calorie counter application it was disrupted by my travel overseas and what little progress I made was gone with the wind. My exercise habits despite feeling amazing and alive for the first time in years was also disrupted. I read a study that the biggest factor relating to a proper adherence to exercise stems from the convenience of having a gymming facility close. With my facilty being 1.5 hours away each way, it comes as little surprise that I don't continue. Along with my lack of driver's license and relationship goals, these three things will carry on to 2016 as the three things I need to work on the most.

 These are all that come to mind right now. This year didn't bring me my metaphorical hoverboard, but that's probably because I didn't deserve it anyway.

Monday, 30 November 2015

London Bridge is deteriorating

The British empire. Once ruling across over 25% of the entire Earth's landmass, several colonies trading ports and streams of income through the introduction of unfair trade policies, slave trade and institutionalized exploitation of its perceived 'enemies'. 

Fast forward a few quick centuries, and things look a little different.

Historic castles, bustling lanes, cramped quarters and the modernity of towering sky-scrapers standing before a backdrop of a perpetually gloomy sky. As stereotypical as it may have been, this was my impression of London before I touched down, abstract from all the history and ruin. (I thank the Sir Allan Sugar from the Apprentice UK for leaving me with such a slick impression in my mind.)

 To provide some background to our reasons for visiting (outside of the annual/biannual international vacation my family likes to take); in an age before mine, my mother undertook her undergraduate degree at the London School of economics, graduating in the class of 1983. Her story is one of wonderful and extravagant upbringing, forced independence, terrible misfortune and well-rounded adaptability and sharpness, something that I have already touched upon in a previous post.

But her sheer sense of nostalgia and longing to revisit the place where she undertook her education, the cobbled streets, milk vendors, gloomy weather and "halls of residence' she spoke so reminiscently of was the underlying reason for our visit. She spoke similarly of the grandeur of the castles, the theaters, some of the classier restaurants, the simultaneous politeness and aloofness of demeanor of the people she referred to as so quintessentially "British". If I were to analyse the psyche of my mum in a completely unprofessional context, I would actually refer some of these traits into her, coated with a generous layer of elegance grace and love.

This isn't to detract from one of the greatest parts of my visit: The sheer volume in number and enormity within of all the amazing Museums in the City. From the Imperial War Museum, to the Victoria Albert Museum of artifacts, to Tate Modern, I do not think any city can compare to the collected works of some of the most dizzying exhibitions I have ever seen (Take that New York!). Some things stuck out more than others, a Chinese illustration of the Yuan Ming Yuan Palace before the Western invasion depicted a beautifully crafted ancient Chinese place of worship (as much as religion fails to capture my attention) that anyone could garner respect for. The Tower of London provided a funny and yet historically accurate portrayal of the society and lives of the British aristocracy in a time long gone. 
And transport, oh the transport. Double-decker buses? Check. Amazing subway? Check. Easy access from the airport? Check. Ample space for tourists and visitors to use pedestrian allocated paths and bridges? Check, check check.

All in all, London is a place where the ruins hide an old and proud empire of a different history. At first glance you see two different cities, but in closer inspection you see the modern and the ancient seemingly together to complement each other. Parts of London are deteriorating, but as with many things, time will tell whether this will patched up in the years to come.

And then we arrived. My mother’s first words upon visiting Russel Square? “Goodness me what happened to this place, it looks deteriorated!”. Indeed she wasn't wrong. Outside our 'prestigious hote; in one of the most expensive and exclusive boroughs of London, next to the very London School of Economics she so lovingly referred to previously, the stones were falling out of the pavement. Moss covered all the corners, cold, distance faces looked out through covered hoods and seldom was English even heard on the normal streets. The cold dreariness appeared to soak into the very people around us, the service everywhere we went was generally rather unhelpful under the guise of a very English politeness. This continues on for an average tourist to bear witness to clear homelessness, urban decay and a general lack of trust and warmth seen in the eyes of the populace.


Friday, 23 October 2015

"Collaborative Consumption"

Every year Macquarie University students are given privy to attend a speaker series that changes topics every year. The speaker is usually someone who has achieved some level of accolade, and fittingly the event is named the “Distinguished Speakers Series”. Unfortunately, despite rather good intentions many of the speeches in the immediate past have been dry, dreary and hold little to no relation to our interests or aspirations. This year was different.

Rachel Botsman started off simply enough. The humble beginnings of an inventor, what spurs on someone to create a world-changing idea. The stories and fables and anecdotes continued - all pretty interesting mind you! But then she gets to the hitter. The largest hotel chain in the world owns no rooms (Airbnb). The largest consumer transport company in the world owns no vehicles (Uber). The fastest growing finance company owns no capital. And then it clicked. The world is changing from the focus on huge, multi-national corporations who hoard all of their assets for themselves, into huge multi-national corporations who still hoard most of their assets but use a new currency of choice; Trust. Trust that our rooms won’t be trashed, or our car seats destroyed.

It makes me think of what other underused resource we all have lying around us that remains unused. Australia’s dire lack of STEM undergraduates come to mind, along with the unbelievable surplus of said students that Asia produces. Its in interesting thing to take a bird’s eye view of everything that’s going on around you, all the small, solve-able problems and fix them with whatever limited resources you have, where-ever they happen to be
.

Here’s to another day of problem solving!

Monday, 28 September 2015

The fleetingness of life

To be completed 30/09/15

The news came out of nowhere. I think it was you, MM who posted in our old Highschool page that one of our friends brother had died and that an invitiation to his obitutary was open to all from his family.


Monday, 21 September 2015

The Inter(nship)view

There are many myths about what goes on if you happen to get interviewed by global tech giant Google. The most common sample question I hear from my friends are: “How many golf balls can you fit into a standard Boeing 747 jet?”. As a participant who was removed from the process in its final round, I might as well spend this post curtly destroying all of these misinformed ideas.

The first hurdle actually requires more effort and time than most written applications. That’s because in my case, they wanted a video. A video detailing its super-selective criteria of “Why you would fit into Google culture (by expressing your Googley-ness)” and the comparatively simpler criteria, “Why are you fit for the job”?. The general requirements of transcripts, CV, a few short answer questions remain as well. Google is a corporation after all.

After this comes the interviews. And there are no funny gimmicks to this, no speaking into a camera to answer pre-recorded questions, no group assessments or drinks night to monitor your sociability. Just straight one on one questions, hard and fast.

It starts off easy enough. A general analysis of your resume, with a few probing questions on what exactly you did in said role that would develop your character and employability. Then comes along the first doozy.

“Given the current age of technology, its competitors and its method of accruing income, how would you valuate YouTube?”

At the time, I was stumped. I had no idea, and I will save you the recollections of a rambling old boy dictating a nonsensical answer. But I later found out the question was simply about consulting metrics; How does it make money? In what volume? How many views per week?

Second question.

“I am a 24 year old women selling clothes to high-school girls. I have a storefront on George street, but I do not have a website. Convince me to get a website and subscribe to adWords.” Again I stumped, and the answer post-interview was painfully clear: She needs it because of her demographic A certain amount of people now use their phones for online shopping, and you want to capitalise on every one of them.

**Random point, you know how everyone thinks that the IT industry is offshoring all its work to India? Well bad news, Google is doing it too, but in its HR department (of all departments). My request for attending the second interview called in from Hyderabad!

The second in contrast with the first, totally revolves around you and Google. Structure is thrown out the door, and the conversation (that’s what it feels like at this point) goes where-ever the interviewer wants it to do. A friendly American woman took me to Ceiling Cat, (yes that’s what they name some of their conference rooms). Here, the topic of the interview was decidedly clearer. What specific needs that Google has, and secondly, what made you start a YouTube channel? The first was clearly not in my field of expertise. The second, I have addressed in a previous blog post many moons before.


But more than anything else, the interviewers appear genuine, or at least they come across that way. Frankly, that is more than I can say for a lot of my acquaintances, let alone my (admittedly few) enemies. 

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Nostalgia in pictures.

There must have been the last time I watched an episode of Gundam 00 when I was in High School.  And as trivial as this may sound (as with many of my other posts), there will be a last time that you do or consume anything in your life, whether you are aware of it or not. There will be a last time your mother holds you and sends you to bed. There will be the last handball game that you ever play with Bobby who lives next door to you. There will be a last time you complain about that maths quiz, or that bad teacher, or university work or anything that ever goes on after that. And at least in my case, 99% of the time I was not aware or even appreciative of The Final Time.

Which brings me back to cartoons. I can say for sure that when I first watched that half hour episode of moving images, I was not aware of the ages I would spend consuming it in front of a computer screen, analysing every frame and drawing some level of lesson or fable out of it. I cannot count how much anime I have watched, but just from recollection I have seen all 390 episodes of the Original Naturo series, almost 500 episodes of the Prince of Tennis, as well as countless other 26 or 52 part series ranigng from Zoids to Digimon. At the time, I remember having mixed feelings about the hours spent and all. My parents disliked my flippant disregard to use time productively, and I generally felt like it was a way to wash over procrastination and shirk my responsibiliites. But looking back now, I remember a quote a good friend WL directed me to:

“Time you enjoy wasting isn’t really time wasting”.

I was thinking about this one day. The day after, I made the concious decision to volunteer for SMASH, (The Sydney Manga and Anime SHow) 2015 in the role as Assistant to Vice President. This event was something I always wanted to truly experience. Why, I was the master in all 9 jiujitsu form requisites, knew all the Snake shots and Tezuka spin techniques one could theoretically do with his racquet, why wouldn’t I fit in with the cosplay crowd?

Sadly, running up to the event felt like I was a headless chook on a pasteur akin to Animal Farm. Organisational aspects were missing, entire sections of the venue were barred from use, our volunteers were scattered all over the place and what help I could offer was not taken advantage of from the VIce President. (VP you are an amazing person btw, if you’re reading this do not take this personally~). I felt like this went on for months and months, But something happened on day which I still cannot really explain. The day turned out to be an enormous success. Almost 15,000 patrons attended, bringing along with them their costumes and passions in the love for anime, games, and I saw everything that we prepared for run like clockwork. And then the nostolgia hit. Talking to my friends while playing tennis on which character we were going to play. Drawing pokemon characters in class in our own twisted version of “Who’s that Pokemon?’

This feeling was similar to my experience at Supanova, another pop-cuture convention held with a distinctly stronger American slant. Supanova however, is a convention I will not likely return to the in near future.


When all is said and done, I do not think that my inner child will ever really go away. That said, a lot of him has been replaced with new interests. With this final foray at SMASH, I’m happy to leave this chapter behind and look back on it with smiling nostalgia.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Retreat in Representation

To preface the remainder of this month’s post: If there ever were a case of government financial resources being mis-managed, then this would be close as it could be for getting away with what would otherwise look to be a perfectly fine use of money.

I am referring to the SAB- Student Advisory Board (renamed to the SRC; Student Representative Committee)’s inaugural ‘retreat’. This is where we were treated to 2 days of 5 star luxury accommodation in one of Sydney’s finest resorts, given access to the pool, its sauna, its golf course while during the day going over what it means to represent students and further the Macquarie University experience to all who walk its halls.

While the first day may have been seen as a mild success overall, (we did manage to condense our objectives into a line and create a list of potential projects to work on), the things that we made and planned looked much better on paper that it did in practice. The fact that our pictorial boards still remain in the new SRC room might be the only evidence left of the event even happening.

Unfortunately as night fell, I began to see this as a huge waste of money on behalf of our students. Being the 20- something young chaps that we were, we spent the entire first evening drinking. I am not much of a drinker but I thought to fit in if we were to work together on legislation together. What resulted was a cacophony of headaches, holes punched into walls, broken glass shattered around people’s rooms, copious amounts of vomit filling up sinks and toilets, sex scandals and the inability of one of our representatives to even attend the second day of proceedings.


My point is that it does not require huge splashes of money to be spent for any proper-minded representative to get on with his/her job. We were elected onto this board in very clear terms and in many cases very clear constituents to represent, we should simply be the transparent medium in which students are able to air their grievances and wishes to the university administration. I thoroughly enjoyed my brief holiday away from the everyday university life, but it was certainly not a cause I would hang the duties and responsibilities of a Student Representative Council as a whole with.

Let's hope the body and conclusion stands better than how this story begins.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Picking up the bundle

One of the many trending articles out at the moment about my generation; (Gen Y) describes the situation where many of us over-scehdule the number of commitments that we have, weather it be work, social, career or general extra-curricular activity, simply in our fear to avoid "missing out" or letting other's "beat us in the curve". You can find the article for yourself here:

http://www.smh.com.au/national/health/generation-overstimulation-generation-ys-addiction-to-being-busy-20150628-ghxsde.html

It further denotes our inability as a society to switch off, in both physical and metaphorical interpretations, from our phones, technology and everyday life itself. We enjoy being busy, it claims, and are blind to its external side-effects of stress, constant comparisons amongst our peers and the pressures in this new world of job scarcity, financial insecurity and barrage of commercialism and materialism penetrating our wants, ideas of self worth and priorities in life. I'm here to say that particularly in my circumstance, this article is simultaneously the most correct and blatantly false article I have read in a while.

On one hand, let me state that as with many of my friends, I like being busy. It keeps our mind nimble with a variety of things, whether it be helping my friends make videos towards our YouTube channel (Asian Boss), working for Google, or sparring others in weekly Taekwondo sessions. Being busy fulfils two aspects for me; Foremost it keeps me creative in my pursuits (as sort of a way to occupy time in a relatively productive manner) and secondly it lets me step closer to realising my life goal: which is to change the way the world sees Asian youth. (How I do that is a completely different matter, I'm trying out the media and NGO methods before I graduate).

And it is also true, that I find it hard sometimes to switch off. I inherently adore technology, the new advances in touch screen capabilities, Near Field Communication, cross platform apps etc. that have made our lives easier to communicate with and stay connected. And of course with these constant need for connection it does dilute some of the more organic sentiments of friendship which I have held dear so much, and the stress that comes along with it is something that occasionally burdens us with mental strains that may last days on end. Sometimes I indeed do overburden myself with commitments and 'drop my bundle', trying to focus on too many goals at once and thus leaving them all to waste.



But on the other hand, the one thing I believe this article doesn't articulate well is that for many of us, we intrinsically understand what we are getting ourselves into. The constant need for comparison we have all felt from youth we understand now to be a psychological trait we carry with us everywhere but dilutes as we grow older. The stress that comes with attempting to be everywhere at once is the price we way for fitting in our schedules tight with things that we want to do and chances of meeting the right people perhaps, that we want to take.

We are not some mindless sheep that are unable to see the consequences of the actions that we take in this high connected, technologically savvy modern world. While part of this may be my hubris of youth speaking, I think we have come a long way and adapted well in a rapidly changing world to be able to tackle any new possibility or threat that the world may throw at us. I guess I simply feel that we don't need old media to patronise us in how we use our time to self develop and invest in our selves. Bring on the new world.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Myanmar Travel Document

I have decided to structure this post differently, in order to maintain the integrity and detail required in documenting exactly what I have seen and experienced, over the 7 day period in Myanmar.

Day 0 – Arrive in Yangon (whizzing around to get my essay done), snaking car ride. How developed the city is compared to Pyongyang, lights and stuff everywhere. Switched hotel rooms due to lizard and foul smell.

Day 1 – Morning exploration of Burma (small temple) Fridge magnets bought. Breakfast (mohinga) with the Australian Ambassador for Myanmar. Chill out with Winnie (stroopwaffel) after 2 years abroad. Briefing by British Council; Met Joe for the first time and British Students. Dinner at the British Club, chicken curry. Complications arose regarding the last day in Megwe, and the two nights that we spent in the Alfa hotel, as well as the (lost?) money towards the loft.

Day 2 – Visit to Naypyidaw. 5 hour car journey, had some awkward conversations/small talk. First meeting was with the Military government (education committee). Second meeting was with the National league for Democracy private eatery. Student union leaders were also present. Met Aung Sun Suu Kyi. Naypyidaw is a extremely expensive ghost town. Politicians so far removed from the plight of the common man. Also started working on our power-point presentation. Felt like we weren't doing the student union leaders justice. Dinner at a local eatery.

Day 3 – Early morning meeting with the Student Union leaders. After that explored Yangon a little bit more. Then had lunch with some of them. After that we visited Shwe Dagon and did some exploration together for a little bit. Bonded on a very surface level with the British students. Had dinner on 19th street, variety of meats and other nibbles etc. Gave out the little tiny koalas.

Day 4 – Early morning meeting with the Student Union leaders. Straight after that we headed off to the airport. Flew to Nyaung Oo, then to Megwe. Had dinner at an amazing local eatery in Megwe.

Day 5 – Woke up early to visit local tea shop. Met with student union leaders. Electricity went out, very very hot weather. After that they took us around Megwe, saw the countryside. Went inside a Buddhist monastery. Gave out the Nougat to the Burmese students. Explored some buddhist places, old village, had a bull-cart ride. Evening: Had a good talk with Oxford Univeristy students: THREE AIMS: 1. Google collaboration with the First respondent/ application. 2. How we can assist Burma in the future, what actions we can take. 3. Reforming Australian universities to promote Unionism.

Day 6 – Woke up at 4.25am to catch the airport. Spent the early morning exploring Bagan, 13th century buddhist temples, rural villages. Found the abstract commercialism distasteful. Arrived far too early at the airport.

Testimonies

Glasses Boy: Mum died when he was 10 due to Heatstroke. Implied that inadequate health facilities were to blame for this. Dad then died when he was 15, due to alcoholism. Implied that this was because of the grief over the death of his mother. Acknowledges that the reason that he is unable to  go outside of the country is because he is poor. If he is rich then everyone leaves Myanmar as soon as possible.

Aung Shwe: 10-15 years ago some of the labour camps in western Myanmar had death rates hovering around 80%. labour camps were for petty crimes, prison was for “political prisoners”. Once you are arrested it is a lot more difficult to get back into university. Prison systems have systemic corruption, which leads to the leaders being oblivious to the plight of the average prisoner. Torture is not systematic but is present for certain things.

Union boss email: Students have been held in prison since the time we have been in Burma, others may or may not be in hiding away form the authorities

Oxford Students: We came here for a specific purpose. Australian university unions are weak. We shouldn't have held British University unions as the model example. If anything we came and contributed friendship, warmth and solidarity that we have their back, and that we are helping them out in some facet from abroad.

Sean Turnell: There is rank incompetence in the Burmese government. Economic adviser to Aung Sun Suu Kyi. Known to be a very practical economic adviser, not one to talk about theory too much.

Joe Fisher: Aung Sun Suu Kyi: Everyone has a temper. She expects a very great standard from herself and as such expects similarly from her staff members. As such she can be considered to have a little bit of a short temper.

Zeya: Formerly rock punk band. Political prisoner for 3 years, second youngest member of the NLD.

Yellow Jacket MP: I have been a political prisoner for over 20 years. But I still want to improve our country, which is why I am running as an MP for the NLD. A lot of the staff have been in political prisons for the actions of free speech and the simple act of democratic protest.

Sentiments

- Empathy for the students
- Frustration at the barriers of entry for change to happen in the country.
- Some people have been in political prison longer than I have been alive on this earth.
- We are all sharing the same earth and the same reality, yet our worlds are so divorced.
- Comparisons with the political apathy of most Australian students. We are too comfortable with little to fight for. Thus we have become complacent while our freedoms are slowly eroded away.
- They are fighting for a freedom that they have never had before. They do not know what is reasonable to demand from the government.
- The government neither criminalises or legalises the formation of student unions. But, when student unions meet the government may cut off electricity supply. They have an incredible determination to fight for what they believe in.
- Its important to note that student union leaders may not be representative of the entire student population. They may only be the radical left wing faction, for instance.
- Our standard of living is immense. There is NOTHING good about living in Megwe. Hot, arid dustbowl like conditions. Poor quality governance, education, food, shelter, health.
- You can be moved if you keep an open mind and allow yourself to be moved.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Googleyness

This is just what I needed. The rain to my drought, the sunlight after a storm, George Bush's electorate term inevitably expiring after 6 years. Any other obtuse euphamisms I can use?

Within 3 days of this month I have had some of the most invigorating experiences I've ever possibly had, in my hometown of Sydney. My eyes have been left open in a state of awe, jaw gaping with the extent opportunities that exist, all of which have coincidentally morphed together in a timing that I can't really attribute to outside of fate. Basically, things are coming together for me and I feel that I'm actually starting to make progress with the tools I am left with.
The Program

Training happens over a period of 3 nights and 2 days. 40 or so selected students chosen from a pool over 500 were all flown into the Sydney, where the headquarters of Google were stationed in Pyrmont, overlooking darling harbour. Most of us, (save the employees who had their contracts renewed from the year before) didn't have much of an idea of the coming storm of excitement, but we used our imaginations regardless. It can be said that the sleep the night before the summit, (accomodation paid for and provided by Google) was restless in anticipation.
Awaking at 9am and promptly headed straight for the Google Offices. The spread fit for king in the form of a buffet breakfast greeted as as we form fitted our uniform shirts and mingled in a semi-dazed state from the night before, with our counterparts from across the country, or even the seas (New Zealand is part of our fold within Oceania). Then we were called to our seats. Herein lies the well known power that marketers have known for years, FREE STUFF. Not to go through the exhaustive list of Google 'swag' that we were bestowed with, I'll summarise it this the way that I wear my Gmail messenger bag with immeasurably pride, and use my Nexus and its associated products almost on a religious basis.

But even more insightful were the speakers they arranged for us. People from the New York office came to speak to us about the Google culture, presentation techniques, how to sell the brand. Even more insightful were the panels of newly minted current employees and how they managed to attain the position that they currently hold. From struggles in their chosen field, to steadfast trailblazer, even to the uncomfortable reality in the power of connections all of these lessons were taught to us an in easily digestible, and friendly manner.

Then came the office tour. Trust me when I say that this workplace is unlike any other workplace I have ever stepped into, whether that be at my home University, Sydney University, working for the NSW dept of Trade, interning at Justice Action Group or any other paid or volunteer position I have ever touched,

Ping pong tables in the middle of the room, beneath a huge neon display proudly displaying 'Google'. Hidden staircases, moving bookshelves, lights hanging from the ceiling. Awkwardly named conference rooms like 'Ceiling cat' embossed on bronze lettering, with some scrappy printout pasted next to it in amusing contrast. Posters everywhere asking employees to ask each other what a 'Burramundi' is on their Voice application, and best of all, 3 perpetually open cafeterias (each with a different them) for all employees to enjoy at any time during the day, all paid for of course. Museum pieces such as the very first Google streetbike displayed to re-affirm the pride of its workers (if you can even define what they do up there as 'work') Many more details I could give from (the quiet room, games room and project room come to mind) but it might just leave this blog post even longer than it currently stands.

All of this was capped off with a cruise on a Longship, as well all climbed up onto the masts, played lazer clay shooting and experienced what can only be described as the weirdest not weird pirate themed costume party ever. (Google employees were sprinkled around the place, fitting in with the younger crowd surprisingly well!)

I tube, do Youtube?

Then comes that fateful meeting with the Education policy director of my home university. Details I probably am not able to share at this point in time, but basically a new project in assisting International students in both a meaningful and humorous way is definitely in the works. I also aim to increase my involvement with Asian Boss, a Youtube channel started up by a great friend, solid speaker and all round awesome guy SP in the foreseeable future.

Acting on interests and passions

Finally, I finished my first official meeting in the Management Committee of SMASH (otherwise known as the Sydney Manga and Anime SHow). I'm not entirely sure what to think of it yet outside of the very apparent enthusiasm everyone shares in the animated form of wide eyed girls in futuristic and wonderful situations. Perhaps it will take a bit of time for me to warm up to this but I am certainly keen on this project to come to fruition over the next 6 months.

Ultimately, I will make sure that this will be an amazing year.


Friday, 30 January 2015

Open door policy

A new year. Another one of those new year posts, where one describes how much resolve for change he or she carries, to do things differently, spouting any number of hollow platitudes to speak to a non-existent audience on the merits of how simply a tick over a calender date somehow magically makes all specified tasks and goals relevant again. But not this time.

This year will start off with my least ambitious and honestly most grounded set of ideals that I want to push forward with my new year. Facing a few disagreeable realities in and of itself would be paramount to this exercise. Its kind of strange that this feeling of realism comes as I have just returned from one of my favourite cities in the world, Melbourne, having watched with some new-found friends, some of the most talented and reflex gifted tennis players in the world at the Australian Open.


First of all, I'm overweight. There's no getting around this fact, I've known it internally for a while now but I think its due time that I did something externally about it now. And avoiding all those other "I'll lose weight this year" new year resolutions, (face it, a lot of us say that) I believe that my resolve is special (as yet again we all do lol), that I'm going to create a structured plan to be able to make these gears work again. This comes about in contribution to the Murray v Kyrgios game I was watching just 3 days ago. Their bodies, in tip top condition were based on the totally, humanly possible routine of healthy eating and exercise to be able to unlock their full potential. I am not even achieving 1% of that. Structure and routine is what will exacerbate long term change, and a timetable of Taekwondo, consistent gym, solid sleep and healthy eating will be the four pronged key to this. I am not the most physically endowed guy around, but I can certainly minimise the imperfection the best that I can.

Secondly, I want to make some serious strides in my core developments, as I like to call them, this year. This involves specifically trying out new jobs which are outside of your field, or comfort zone, and actually put in effort and time into the tasks you are assigned regardless of how interesting or mundane you may think it to be. I've already started this year off relatively well, I've landed a 10 month contract to work with Google as a student ambassador in a marketing role, something that's relatively new to me, and im hoping to land other roles in Public relations and direct sales. But more importantly I want to extend this to my mettle, studying for instance is something that no-one particularly likes doing but its a path that I have chosen for the short term future, and I might as well do it well. Schedule yourself, stick to your schedule. Talk to a psychologist if need be.

Thirdly, I honest to God hope to put an end to this pervasive feeling of loneliness this year. This marks 11 months since I've gone out with someone with any real meaning behind it, and perhaps due to my lack of will to meet outside, motivation or whatever I haven't been able to rekindle anything close to that since. I'll make an effort to climb out of this shell I'm living in find my own chick to dig in my own time. This is entirely possible and is connected to my health, my mental outlook and perhaps even game, should I ever decide to return to that.

As an off topic side note, perhaps the placebo effect strikes again but I always come back form Melbourne with such a profound level of respect towards the city as a whole. Maybe its the trams, maybe its the fact I saw some astounding tennis electrify the arena, maybe its the mouth watering food, maybe its the Green senator running the place (most likely that one) or maybe its simply because I caught up with some cool people during my brief stay there. Regardless, I feel that the grass might indeed be greener down in Melbourne although I can imagine this to sound obnoxious coming from someone who already lives a priveliged life in an amazing home comparing themselves to greater heights, who knows.

I'm smiling :)