30 for 30: Jan + Feb Updates

Jean Paul Gaultier @Brooklyn Museum of Art

This year is passing incredibly quickly.  The 30 for 30 list I posted last time has been incredibly fun.  Purposefully, I added items that were day to day (I tend to be much better at the big and spectacular), and those are the ones alluding me at the moment.  The goal is to keep working on them; here’s the official update:

1. Volunteer at a soup kitchen

*** Yet to be scheduled

2. Read one nonfiction book a month

*** Jan: Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg.  I really enjoyed this book – not because I now going to try to “have it all” or bitch that I don’t.  Instead, what I found more insightful were the inherent and embedded prejudices we all have across genders and cultures, and ideas for how to navigate through them.

*** Feb: Perv by Jesse Bering.  This is about the sexual deviant in all of us – a great read, as long as you keep an open mind.

3. Plan an awesome trip

*** In the works.

4. Take a pole dancing/aerial class

*** My goal is to do this March 15.  My friend got super into this, and his group is very into the acrobatics of it; not raunchy as well.  I’m really excited about developing my core and doing awesome flips. :)

5. Mentor someone

*** Second session this Friday.

6. Turn Gastroporn into something

*** I’m thinking a coffee table book – obviously self-published.  We’ll see how this goes.  I’m assuming this is a latter half of the year project.

7. Run 13 miles without stopping

*** This is hard.  1) I’m not inherently a runner; even with training, I’m still at about 2.5 miles before I collapse into a heap. 2) I haven’t been going to the gym that much this year, mostly b/c it’s bitterly cold outside and somewhat b/c I’m a lazy-bum. :)

8. Do 30 good deeds

*** I did 3 in Jan and so far, not too much in Feb.  There needs to be a better way to keep track (besides mental)/definition of what counts as a good deed vs. what’s just being a human being.

9. Play a sport at least once a month

*** Yikes.  Nada so far.  Hoping spring/summer will help with the average.

10. Eat breakfast everyday

*** Yeah… not a problem. To be honest, I was awful with this 2 years ago, but my doctor says, if you want to lose weight, do small things.  And starting then, I just tried to eat breakfast every morning.  It’s not a habit, and my body is used to this.  Really proud of myself.  It’s pretty simple.

11. Blog once a month

*** Guess why I’m writing… hahaha

12. Get my passport stamped in a new country

*** This is very closely correlated with #3.  I’m hoping it’ll be more than 1 new country… *fingers crossed*

13. Kiss someone who speaks French

*** Nothing yet… but if you have a lead. ;)

14. Give away 30 things (must not overlap with #8)

*** Same with 8 in terms of hard to remember/keep track.  So far, it’s been lots of money to homeless people – coins don’t really count, so people have been getting $5 and $10 bills from me.

15. Donate 10% of the value of 2014 retail/splurge purchases to charity

*** Likely done at the end of the year with 1 BIG check.

16. Try yoga for the first time

*** TBD

17. Read a short story in another language

*** I have the story.  It’s just about sitting down and reading it.

18. Exercise 2x a week on average

*** Because I haven’t really gone to the gym, I’m upping this to 3x a week starting in April – please be warmer then, so I don’t have to change out of a parka to go to the gym.

19. Don’t buy anything online for 30 days

*** DONE!! Incredibly hard since I buy almost everything online (seriously, beside cough medicine b/c I need it right away and splurges, everything else is online).  But I went Jan 16 to Feb 18 with no purchases!

Friend of a Farmer… hmmmmmm….

20. Find a new go-to restaurant and a bar near me

*** I would say Friend of a Farmer for brunch instead of Gemma.  In terms of bar, still outstanding… it’s hard to beat the Library at Joe’s Public.

21. Make a prank phone call and convince the other person that I’m Margaret Cho

*** Hahaha I can’t wait to do this, but it’ll have to be a free weekend with lots of Cho-isms.

22. Drink a 50 year old scotch

*** Likely around my birthday in July.

Guggenheim + the Futurists exhibit

23. Visit 7 new places in NYC

***Jan: Brooklyn Museum of Art + Neue Museum

*** Feb: Brooklyn Flea Markets in Williamsburg

*** Mar: Guggenheim

*** BONUS: Walking NY tip to tip this Sunday (about 13 miles) + seeing James Franco and Chris O’Dowd in Of Mice and Men (LOVE that novel by 1 of 2 face authors) + eating at Per Se next week.  :) YAY!!

24. Don’t use Seamless for 90 days

*** hahahaha this is almost impossible living in NY.  That being said.  I definitely feel like May through July is possible because I’ll be cooking more.

25. Watch Breaking Bad. All of it

*** TBD

26. Eat 7 new cuisines

*** This is actually incredibly hard – not because I’ve eaten everything, but because it’s less convenient.

*** DONE: Swedish

*** ON THE LIST: Yemeni, Ghanaian, Filipino, Serbian, Hungarian, and Russian

27. Make and print my own pattern on fabric

*** I’m really looking forward to this.

Snacks + drinks before a healthy brunch

28. Cook for someone once a month

*** Feb: Lovely brunch (picture in this post) with nutty bread, honeycomb, salami, freshly squeezed orange juice, red wine prosecco with Grand Marnier soaked blackberries, eggs, arugula salad, asparagus, ad banana pancakes.

*** Mar: Dinner party for 4.  Pictures and menu to come. :)

29. Go diving with sharks (can be replaced with anything else that threatens my ability to keep breathing)

*** Really not sure what this will entail.  I’m assuming this will be along with #3 but TBD.  I really want to go hang gliding and know for sure LA has this.

30. Celebrate my birthday with the best people. 

*** No brainer, but plans still in the works. :)

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The Gravity of New Year’s Resolutions

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I never keep New Year’s resolutions.  It has nothing to do with sense of discipline or will-power.  It’s all expectations.  No one actually follows through with New Year’s resolutions, right?  According to this link, a mere 8% successfully achieve their resolutions.  I’ve generally made some in my mind (lose weight, be less of a bum, travel more!) and then forget it.  No tracking.  No writing them down.  They basically never existed.

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Separate story: my friend invited me to a Facebook event for her birthday. Instead of a physical party, which I’m sure she had, and a physical cake, which I’m sure she also had and it was delicious, she asked us for something.  One item.  Sometime special to do on her birthday.  It was lovely.  (I suggested she eat cake for every meal that day.  It made it on the list. w00t!)

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So here’s my thought: make a fun list.  A list of things you actually want to do this year.  Then track it see progress.  Celebrate it with friends, who can keep you accountable.  And make this year awesome.

That’s exactly what I did.  Yes, it’ll look like a New Year’s resolution list.  But it’s so much more.  The label is even different: “30 Kickass Things I Want to do for my 30th Birthday.”

Just a little name change.  A little attitude change.  And a whole lot of fun and excitement.  (And it still has lose weight, be less of a bum, and travel more!… but don’t tell me that. ;) )

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30 Kickass Things I Want to do for my 30th Birthday
1. Volunteer at a soup kitchen
2. Read one nonfiction book a month
3. Plan an awesome trip
4. Take a pole dancing/aerial class
5. Mentor someone
6. Turn Gastroporn into something
7. Run 13 miles without stopping
8. Do 30 good deeds
9. Play a sport at least once a month
10. Eat breakfast everyday
11. Blog once a month
12. Get my passport stamped in a new country
13. Kiss someone who speaks French
14. Give away 30 things (must not overlap with #8)
15. Donate 10% of the value of 2014 retail/splurge purchases to charity
16. Try yoga for the first time
17. Read a short story in another language
18. Exercise 2x a week on average
19. Don’t buy anything online for 30 days
20. Find a new go-to restaurant and a bar near me
21. Make a prank phone call and convince the other person that I’m Margaret Cho
22. Drink a 50 year old scotch 
23. Visit 7 new places in NYC
24. Don’t use Seamless for 90 days
25. Watch Breaking Bad. All of it
26. Eat 7 new cuisines 
27. Make and print my own pattern on fabric
28. Cook for someone once a month 
29. Go diving with sharks (can be replaced with anything else that threatens my ability to keep breathing)
30. Celebrate my birthday with the best people. 

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Rules

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In college, I had a great friend who wanted to explore life outside of a conservative religious household. To try new experiences, foods, boys, everything. I warned her that relaxing the rules was simple but reigning them back in to go back home after graduation was hard. She didn’t listen to me.

Apparently, I didn’t listen to myself. Until high school, we live in the conformity of schedule. Our parents’ schedule. The school schedule. Our extracurricular schedules. With each schedule comes rules. You must abide by this dress code at school or eat that for dinner. That all changes in college.

We get to make our own rules. Some rules, as simple as brushing teeth or showering, can go out the window. Not necessarily because we want to smell or have bad teeth. Not even because we’re lazy. I think deep down, we’re testing our sense of self – our tolerance to not bathing; we question the rules.

Of course this isn’t true for everyone. Some live and breath by the regiment, and they are better for it.

But the end of college comes, and all of a sudden we need to reign in and face the working world. And suddenly, we’re no longer following the regiment but managing it ourselves. And it’s incredibly difficult, when the rules no longer exist. We have to make the rules again. Brush your teeth. Get up at 7 am every day. Go to work. Don’t miss meetings. Navigate the social circles. Shower. Oh, it’s laundry day again. Pay the rent. You need to feed your cat! Scoop the litter box. Go to the gym. Send emails. You should go to bed soon because you have to wake up in the morning. Groceries.

It’s been difficult for me. I’m rather smart. But it’s hard enough learning to pay bills on time and how to file taxes. The addition of a job and friends and everything. It’s so much. Once all the small things become non-mandatory, it’s hard to add them back into your life. Daily activities become juggling a huge to do list and trying not to let one of the hundreds of things a day slip. Nothing is natural or a habit anymore. Sometimes I just want to run away and have some epiphany, see every Murakami book. But running away isn’t a way to live life. (And let’s not forget, I actually like my friends and my job – most of the time :-P – and my life.)

So what’s my point? Murakami explores in Kafka on the Shore and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles this concept of self. If you’re stuck such vastness/darkness that the concept of the physical you is no longer relevant, your soul will rise and expand past the confines of your physical body. Can you do so to such a degree that you lose the concept of self? Can you love someone so much that when they’re gone, you’re a dead soul going through the paces in a real body? Can you relax the rules so much around what life means and how to behave socially that you can never fit back into society, into large, complex entities?

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Super Bowl, Kids’ Shows, and Ad Love

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(Caption: showing my Coca-Cola pride during the Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show)

With the Super Bowl last weekend and an entire week of foundations training for my job, I’ve been thinking a lot about marketing, advertising, and this concept of brand love. For example, I failed a blind taste test between Coca-Cola and Pepsi last year, but I still love Coke so much more. It’s my brand. I grew up with it. I would pay a premium to have a Coke instead of a Pepsi. That’s brand love.

Part One

The Super Bowl has become one of the only times of the year when it’s acceptable/encouraged to talk about advertising. In a way, it’s the advertising world’s Oscar… except you don’t need talent, and you buy your way in. Nevertheless, people actively watch the commercials and looked forward to the coolest new things. That’s not true in everyday life. DVRs were invented because people didn’t want to watch commercials. So how do we extend the attention span of viewers via TV (via cable or internet)? With ads leading up to the Super Bowl ad. Yes. With ads after the Super Bowl, so viewers can rewatch the ad or follow along in the storyline. Yes. But what about improving ads in general?

Part Two

“The Internet and social media have changed the way we behave” sounds cliché, but it’s true. People don’t mind interacting with their favorite brands and commenting or liking brand posts/tweets. Now, brands deliver us products and help us curate online content. Search allows us to find information about products, brands, do comparisons, and make the purchase. Guess what? We are doing that. So how do you extend that to offline, where consumers are still watching ads, but aren’t talking to each other about it as they do during the Super Bowl?

Part Three

Last night, The Looney Tunes Show (new one) came on my DVR. I was about to fast forward through the commercials when I started watching the cartoons aimed at children. I was so much more interested in children’s commercials than any of the adult commercials I see in normal programming. Why? Because the commercials were informative. They introduced me to a cool new game or a cool new game feature. The messaging was all around the product and why it’s cool instead of why using this particular brand of toilet paper will make me more sociable.

I watched every single commercial – and added Nerf products on my WANT! list.

Musing

Make commercials that are informative. Funny. Passionate. Use TV advertising as another way to curate your content and your brand messaging. If it needs to be about product attributes, told me about product attributes. Don’t weave jingles and a storyline and psychology into a TV ad. Just tell me the facts. Or tell me something interesting but with a theme (Redbull has been so good at consistently owning extreme sports that I can guess it’s Redbull even if they don’t brand the extreme sports content – which they do). And maybe we will start talking about cool things we saw via the “Coca-Cola” show (30 secs of cool content between the program in watching) instead of another ad.

Because my time is precious. And I’m willing to pay more, way more, for a brand – see iPhone, Kate Spade shoes, moleskin notebooks, and Song flat screen.

So give me good content or good product information instead of just an ad. Give me back my 9 minutes every 30 minutes I watch TV (give or take). And I’ll love you back. I’ll buy your brand. And hey, if you just tell me why the shoe is better instead of using D list celebs, Sketchers, I may actually buy your crappy shoes. Ok, that conclusion was a lie, but you get the point.

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Ghetto Leftover Penne Bolognese (kinda)

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Dieting doesn’t work. At least it doesn’t work for me. So instead of making changes to my life that would feel like deprivation, I’ve decided to make changes that have weight as a side effect. For example, saying I would walk with friends at least 2 hours every weekend (so easy to do in NY). I’m cooking at home more, which reduces calories and sodium and increases veggie in take.

This is my first example. Left over pasta from today’s lunch (penne with marinara/Alfredo mix, onions, tomatoes, roasted pepper, squash, mushrooms, etc.) with leftover beef chilli (bad late night decision but now great “Bolognese” addition) and two fresh tomatoes and a pint of fresh mushrooms. Sauté the entire mixture in a pan and add basil leaves from the farmer’s market for extra freshness. Total of 10-15 min prep time depending on what kind of mushroom and how thoroughly you decide to wash it. (Mushrooms feed on poop so I wash rigorously.)

Altogether, a bit much for one meal (yay more leftovers tomorrow), super inexpensive (just the additional cost of tomatoes, mushrooms, and basil), and super yummy. :)

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Oh Yeah… Hobbies!

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I went on my first date in a long time (sleep >;; dating during MBA), and got asked a very common question. What are your hobbies? I was stumped. Well, is eating a hobby – I accidentally stumbled upon foodie-ism or what I call Gastroporn. But it’s not a hobby, right?

Let’s start from the beginning. What is a hobby? Wikipedia says “A hobby is a regular activity or interest that is undertaken for pleasure, typically done during one’s leisure time.”

The past few years, I’ve really tried to fold experiences into my life over acquiring things, though I do a fair bit of that too. Most of these experiences involve travel and cooking and exploring local geeky, dorky fun things to do. World travel and eating the most bizarre and delicious foods are important aspects of my life. But is it a hobby? Well what does “leisure time” mean? How often does one have to do something to call it a hobby? Do I have to incorporate something of a skill? Does watching corny dance movies and rocking out in my apartment count? I certainly do that regularly.

Ok forget the definition. What do I think is a hobby?

Such a simple question of “what are your hobbies?” stumped me. Whatever I mumbled, the question got me thinking. As a young naive one, I danced ballet and Chinese cultural routines, played the bass and piano, and dabbled in charcoals and oil pastels. Now? I’m not quite sure. Calligraphy in Cupertino counts but I haven’t kept up with it. Video games? Casual games fits much better with my life, and let’s be honest, my gaming ability. Reading? The last book I read for fun was in August.

So goal for 2013 – find something to love doing in NY. Find a hobby. Wish me luck! :)

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Scared of Blogging

Scared horse cartoon

There are a few reasons I haven’t posted lately.  The biggest reason is of course sheer unwillingness.  Lots of changes have been happening in my life recently (moving from Oakland, crazy fun two years in grad school at UT Austin, and subsequently moving to NY).  It’s been a busy few years (numerous accomplishments and bragging can be read in previous posts).

One of the more interesting reasons that I’ve realized of late is the utter fear of blogging.  This shit lasts a lifetime.  And the more I move forward in my career, the more my opinions start to actually matter – mostly in terms of hiring decisions and my personal brand. Sure, I knew this before as well.  The feeling is just much more uneasy post grad-school and now that I work at a much larger organization. Employee opinions affect the organization, and I would hate to affect how people perceive Unilever in a negative way – I really do believe it’s an amazing company; just check out their USLP. A recent post on Facebook likely offended my friends at Microsoft, and it made me realize how much I do have to watch what I say.

(Side note: I posted that Microsoft’s Bing sucks ass, which based off my last few experiences just doesn’t yield the search results that I intuitively want.  It doesn’t mean that I don’t love other MS products, such as XBox and Office – for as much as people hate Office, it’s made a huge impact on my life and for the better.  I would love the chance later in my life to work at Microsoft and better understand the organization from the inside, but I stand by my statement.  It’s similar with Facebook – their photo app can sometimes be such a pain to work in, they’ve added, removed, added, removed, etc. mobile photo uploads, and I can’t change my cover photo from my iFB app.  That doesn’t mean I don’t use FB every day and love other aspects of the product. END Side Note.)

So here’s me blogging again.  I’m going to stop being afraid.  While there will be lots of reflections and tons of wrong predictions (Apple is going to major fail in the next few years compared to last few), I will stop being afraid to voice my opinion.  A hiring manager can judge this blog all they want.  These are my thoughts, and why wouldn’t they want marketing talent who’s thinking about stuff I write during my spare time?

(Side Note 2: BTW I’ve posted images forever but am not great with credit giving, mostly due to laziness.  Here’s the original link to the artist’s image + my asking for forgiveness for not getting permission to use image in advance. :) END Side Note 2.)

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