Tuesday, May 27, 2008

the good old days (when i was a nerd)

something strange happened to me today. i worked 15 hours at a frantic pace, stress levels brimming, yet still managed to make it to the grocery store before it closed. i needed water, you see. that's not what's strange.

the strange thing is i sort of spaced out for 20 minutes in the dairy section while looking for cream cheese. my mind went all fuzzy like the scrambled porn movies from a thousand confused boyhood nights. i just started thinking about bmx bikes, ball hockey and the D&D monster manual. basically i went back in time to my geeky childhood. it was great. i'm sure the people watching me stare blankly at grated mozzarella in a suit and tie thought i was on drugs but donnie darko would have been proud.

anyway, after coming out of it and resuming my shopping i passed by the magazine rack and saw a comic book sitting on a shelf. it was a newfangled x-men reprint of an old story i remember, rewritten in today's teen dialog of yos and wassups. again i was thrown back in time to the days i would push open the heavy door to my local comic shop, bell jingling, 10 bucks allowance gripped tight in my hand. i still have thousands of dollars worth of comics at my dad's place. maybe they are all water damaged now or disintegrated but i thought about how great it would be to just spend a day reading them all again, my trusty wizard guide always at the ready. so i went to the back of the magazine section and grabbed some comics thinking that maybe i would buy a couple to keep myself in this headspace a little longer. she-hulk, batman, x-men, new avengers and even a spider man were all screaming at me to buy them. and i was going to but for one small thing. i noticed that some stock boy had put a price sticker willy-nilly on the cover of all the comics. maybe i'm overeacting but where i come from, this is like letting a kid colour in a man ray photograph with crayons. i wasn't thinking of buying them as an investment like i did as a kid. but something inside me told me it was wrong. i couldn't do it and so i left with my cream cheese sans comics.

maybe it's great that in the middle east, kids never felt pressured to buy every first issue on the shelf. maybe they weren't worried about creasing pages whereas i would turn each one holding a tissue as not to put a finger print on them. but c'mon, you can't put a sticker on the cover, it's just against the universal comic book laws and everyone should know it. i'm kinda bummed out now because i was really looking forward to the new avengers.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Kuala Lampur

rory and i went to Kuala Lampur in Malaysia for a weekend getaway. she was flying there for work so i got a cheap flight and a free hotel. :) that city is pretty cool. modern but somehow it felt old. the buildings and monorail, along with other infrastructure seemed water damaged or aged in a way that reminded me of star wars movies and how the spaceships, though futuristic, were dirtied by the (space) elements. anyway, i thought it looked neat.

so we got there and had a nice two hour spa massage. i've never had a proper spa massage, only the cheap china town ones and it was very relaxing. we had a nap and then went out to see the town. the twin petronas towers, like silver darts that shone like heavenly beacons drew us to them and the mall beside. we had some malaysian food at a restaurant in the mall and decided to walk back to the hotel.

on the way back we came across a busy street that was lined with colourful bars. we ducked into a few and had some drinks. the last one we came across, however, was overpopulated with asian girls dressed to impress and old white businessmen. the girls were looking for husbands and/or cash and the guys, well, they were pretty disgusting. we had a good time watching the interactions going on and danced a little before the music stopped and someone grabbed the mic. "this is a police raid, would all foreigners please go to the left of the room and all locals to the right." my first thoughts were 'cool'. but then i quickly realized that rory, being asian, might be perceived differently. they started collecting everyone's passports and we had left ours in the hotel. a few people tried to grab rory but we managed to sneak out of the bar after being locked in for two hours (the bar was still serving though).

outside, the girls were all sitting on the pavement, maybe 150 of them, and as we got out of the bar, two big police trucks came. the girls, all crying and yelling for people to help them were loaded onto the trucks. i grabbed the camera and took the below video. i was nervous to leave rory though for fear she might be grabbed and thrown in also.

we went back to the hotel and the next morning, instead of going shopping, rory was violently ill. we had to catch a flight at 5 pm to go home. i managed to get her out of bed and we went shopping a bit but she wanted to go back. i ended up having to leave her in the hotel because she wasn't fit to fly and because my ticket was bought at a discount, couldn't be changed. she was diagnosed with food poisoning and came home the next day.

despite all the craziness, it was a fun short trip and i want to go back to KL for longer next time.

Here are some pics

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

'where i'm at now'

so for the second time in two weeks a global ceo of my hybrid employer (TBWA and Ketchum) came for a visit to our wayward region. it's really good to see that global communications companies, particularly the ones i work for, are taking notice of the middle east and the work we are already doing here.

last week Jon Higgins, the EMEA CEO of Ketchum was here to assess our agency and to see if we're up to snuff. i had the opportunity to have dinner with him and our senior management and after a brief explanation of the virtues of twitter, him and my company's managing director were thumbing their up-to-the-minute status from their blackberries.

today i met Tom Carroll, the new global CEO of TBWA. he's a well-spoken, head-in-the-clouds, feet-on-the-ground kinda guy, much like Jon. over the past two weeks our office has been buzzing with preparations and i couldn't understand it really. to me he is just a guy in a good position. sure he is a visionary and he has a great long track record but i've never been one to swoon over celebrity so i just thought he was a guy. and that's how he presented himself to us.

what drives me nuts is that both Jon and Tom were both such good, regular guys. they didn't have egos or wear million dollar suits or spit acid or cast shadows longer than skyscrapers. they just talked at eye level and listened as though they were interested. so then why all the fuss? i doubt they were fooled by our 'great' questions considering half of them were litteraly read off the sheets of paper that we were told to memorize by heart. the fanfare, the clean office space, the cooking books we brought in to make the shelves look full.... if this is what they get whenever they travel around to far away offices, they must hate it.

personally, if and when i am a global CEO of a great communications network with offices around the world, i will personally see to it that no one makes a big deal about my visits. how can i know i am doing a good job as a leader if the questions posed to me are planted and if people feel nervous to approach me? i, like jon and tom will be accessible and open and honest with everyone at every level of the organization and i won't put up with the facades. Sure, they are communications gods, deities of an industry that creates and destroys icons everyday. but they are humble and real and i bet a little bit annoyed that they are seen any differently.