Work, Travel, and a bit of reflection

Two weeks into 2018 already. Time flies when you’re busy I suppose! Today was the first day this year I felt like I have some time to relax and take care of myself. By that definition, it’s going to the gym and having lunch and a good cup of coffee in one of my go-to cafes by myself, which is pretty simple, boring stuff. Having some me time is absolutely necessary!

Woke up today at 9AM and felt like I could breathe a little easier, with no real agenda of what I need to do or where I need to be. It’s a GREAT feeling after a hectic start of 2018.

Work

First week at work after a week holiday in Taiwan was a little crazy. I predicted it was going to be quite busy, but still felt a bit overwhelmed when it happened; all those internal meetings, proposals prep, and kick-off meetings with clients as we got more new projects. Starting from this month, I lead a new project about Line content and sticker strategy for F&B client, which is new and exciting at the same time! More Facebook ads to do from client in beauty industry, which is a new industry for me to do ads and content. This project we’ll have full control of designing creatives as well as copywriting and ads optimization, but under client’s final approval, of course! And I still have ongoing ecommerce/marketplace project in fashion industry to take care of.

At the moment I feel like it’s such a great balance, I get to do all kinds of different stuff in online marketing and ecommerce. Will need to focus more on content strategy this year, as well as perhaps some technical Facebook ads-related stuff I plan to look into further for some side-projects. Let’s see how it goes.

Somehow I feel quite excited for these new projects, which is a good thing. To me, routines work get boring quickly. I think we all need something new to do to constantly challenge yourself. January also marked TWO full years at work. Being somewhere two years for work is probably a bit alarming for millennials who keep switching jobs every single year, or even every other month!

Travel

Taiwan feels so far away now, even though I was just back last week. Crazy to look back! I’ve said it before how I don’t think Taiwan is that…special. The country failed to charm me for some reason, even though I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE their bubble milk tea so much. I’m pretty sure I was whining in my head a lot when I was there, like why did I pick this country to come travel for a week? This is too long, and so on. But you know what, in the end I am glad I did. It was great getting to see an old friend from Japan again and his family gave me such a warm welcome, letting me stay in their house the whole time and taking care of me so well. For that, I feel really grateful. From time to time I feel incredibly lucky getting to meet really nice people from all around the world. It’s one of the experiences I will forever cherish.

Even though I was away for only a week, coming back the first day I felt a bit…disoriented. It was a bit like a shock to the system. Yesterday my life was in Taipei catching trains walking everywhere in rainy 16 degrees, today I was back in Bangkok, to same old stuff and routine, and it felt slightly weird. It’s so funny considered you’ve been gone for only one week, and it’s only just a short holiday. I would never expect such disorientation to happen after only just one week. However, it wasn’t the first time it happened to me. When you go somewhere further, this disoriented feelings get even stronger. It was almost unbearable when I was back from Netherlands.

Just like my past two trips, I felt somewhat more connected to the country I visited, than when I travel somewhere with Thai friends leaving Bangkok together. When I went to Spain and Portugal in 2016, it was Europe just like in Netherlands and Belgium, totally different atmosphere from Thailand, but I went with my family, so I didn’t feel like I was involved in those countries as much. I actually wish to go back and explore Spain by myself again some day. Going with my family means I didn’t get to do what I wanted to do, to be honest.

Somehow, flying alone and exploring the place alone with support from your friends in the country you visit really is the best thing. You feel like you are out of your comfort zone, even just for a really short period of time. You are fully exposed to entirely new things in that country. You hang out in places locals go, eat at local restaurants you wouldn’t have discovered otherwise as a tourist.

When you go travel with your friends, I feel like you have someone to lean on during the trip, you still speak the same language with your friends, you plan trip like how tourists do, and of course it is very fun and all that you get to spend a quality of time with your friends while exploring new cities together, but it’s not going to push you out of your comfort zone like when you travel alone (Sorry for a major run-on sentence, my Faculty of arts professor would have killed me alive, haha). In this Taiwan trip, I had to solve problems quickly by myself when I realized I forgot my backpack on the train from city to the airport, 1.5 hours before I boarded on a plane back home. I thought I was SCREWED and wouldn’t get it back but I did, thanks to airline, airport, and MRT train people in Taiwan! Felt incredibly lucky in the end.

Perhaps I missed that feeling of living abroad just like my Japan year; the feeling that you are a nobody, you feel so little in a new place when everything around you feels brand new.

Then again, I don’t know if being completely alone the whole trip as a real tourist in a new country would give me a sense of connection. Somehow it’s not so much about all the landmarks and checkpoints anymore these days when I travel. But it really is about little experiences and especially people along the way that make it really worthwhile.

Phew, it felt good to properly sit down and write something! I was seriously considering writing about 2017 my year in review, and I did write it, but decided to leave it unpublished in the end. So many people on Facebook wrote their year in review this year, a lot more than any other years. I wonder why!

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A fun, productive meeting! (What? Does THAT exist?)

Last post might be a little too bleak. I’m still a little sad, but I took actions as soon as I could, and reached out to people that I wanted to do new things. 

Time to change. No matter how small. 

Timing has never been this perfect. I’ve got an original plan in mind, but it turned into something different. It turned out my friend who is running Careervisa, an education startup got a new project, starting soon. She looked like she could almost cry when I told her I wanted to help. That face alone is worth it. I’ve helped her quite a few times, but this is the first time I took initiatives, wanted to present my own ideas, and it does feel a huge difference. 

I was told in Amsterdam that, helping people is a form of heroin. It IS addictive. Being able to help people with skills you have makes you feel really, really good. 

And I haven’t done that sooner because I’ve focused too much on what I lack, not what I have, to offer. It is OKAY to just…try. This is the answer from my internalization. 

And here I am, going to a meeting at 7PM on Friday night, feeling giddy and excited as ever. Is that a bad thing? Screw it. Because I genuinely felt…excitement. That IS something. The past 3 months I felt nothing but meh and blah. Despite post-holiday blues, somehow I am back from the trip with positive energy and inspiration to change and do something. And that alone is more priceless than anything. 

And it was one of the most fun and rewarding things I have done in a while. Met a small group of people full of energy. Lots of ideas generated. No one judges anyone else. We all speak freely. We laugh along the way! Everyone is packed with great ideas. It was such a perfect environment. 

Another thing that motivates me is because I can identify so strongly with our target audience; fresh grads who don’t have a single clue of what to do in life. I WAS one of them! So I wanted to help these students, because I myself didn’t know who to turn to and ask for career advice after graduation. 

The way we organized meeting definitely helped a lot.  We divide everything into small sessions. We time everything to be under 2-3 minutes per brainstorming sessions. We use millions of post-its. We then used ideas to create simple storyboard and explain to the group about our idea, to wrap up the end result. 

In other words, this is like a mini Sprint method that they solve one big problem and create new prototype in just 5 days, from Sprint book I’ve read. (Really good book, full of practical advice. Recommend!). 


At the end of 2 hours (Our goal: to get the first result within 2 hours), everyone gave feedback and talked about how fun it felt and it made them want to have this type of meeting again. 

I feel…satisfied. It’s only the first step and we’ve got more work to do. But once again, this made me discover, moments like this make me feel alive. 

In which I talk about work and rant about Chulalongkorn university (Huh?)

Random blog post title, anyone?

Let’s start off with work. I hardly mention about what I do on here, it seems. We just got a new project – Facebook advertising and content marketing for a new international program at a private university. Last year I was mainly in charge of eCommerce and marketplaces like Lazada and Zalora; running an end-to-end eCommerce process for clients. Toward the end of the year I did mention to my boss that I wanted to try something new, with an aim of becoming a more well-rounded person in digital marketing field. When we got a new client this time and I saw it’s an online ad project, which is what I’ve been wanting to do for a while, I stepped up and told my boss I wanted to be in charge.

And here we are! More work that I requested for myself 🙂

It’s a nice change too – to be involved in an education industry, which is what I’m interested in. Walking in a university campus for a meeting for the first time even felt refreshing, strangely enough!

I’ve been helping with my friend’s education startup, CareerVisa, from time to time by being a career workshop facilitator and a career mentor for university students. I always find the work rewarding and it feels good that you can help other people out, by listening to students stories/issues and sharing your experiences, as well as giving some pieces of advice. By doing that, I’ve discovered that I’m drawn to this education industry. During last semester in my senior year, I was struggling, not knowing what to do, and having zero clue of career paths and where to continue after graduation, and it was one of the most terrible feelings. I wouldn’t want anyone to experience that, which is why I am more than willing to share my own struggles and experiences, if I can be of any help with students.

Back to our new project. It was quite an experience going to a private university campus here. The campus and facilities look too good to be true, compared to a public university like Chula. The whole atmosphere feels quite laid back and chill, and professors are easy to talk to, whereas Chula feels uptight, ridiculously conservative, and highly academic driven.

It got me thinking there is such a huge gap between private and public universities in Thailand. Why does Chula feel the need to stick their noses high in the air like that? Everything feels inaccessible – they like to place themselves high up there somewhere. It is my alma mater I have no emotional connection attached, as I’ve never felt they were being helpful to me in any ways.

Let me tell you one little secret, Chula does NOT have a career counseling center! And this is, as claimed, #1 top university in Thailand. CHULA CAREER COUNSELING CENTER IS NONEXISTENT. Or maybe they did have one, but I, a student in a Thai program, wasn’t aware of it (And I was/am a nerd, so this is the type of information I would know, trust me).

Speaking of university marketing, Chula Thai programs have never done anything, as far as I’m concerned. People may argue that Chula doesn’t have the need to advertise themselves, because it is a well-known, well-established educational institution in Thailand. That could be true, but they could try to be more approachable to students, considered how they are extremely terrible at communications. We found out most things (e.g. scholarship news) through word-of-mouth and students from former year. There is no communication platform that connect students together in one place. Systems, as well as buildings, are out of date. (And we all secretly wonder, where did all the money go?).

What is the need to hold yourself high on that status, Chulalongkorn? I can see that the pride in long history associated with royal family plays a big part, but when will they start focusing on present and future? To what purpose does it serve, staying conservative when the rest of the world has changed? Is this hold-yourself-higher-than-others attitude the type of attitude you wish to cultivate your students? How does this add up to an already widening social gap in Thai society?

I could tell and picture all those differences with one visit to this private university. You really feel different “vibes” Yes, private universities may be commercial. Yes, they may have to try harder to advertise themselves and attract potential candidates to make more $$$. Yes, I am aware they are much less academic and have different sets of USP from public universities. It’s still nice to see their attempt of trying to reach out and be helpful to students, according to the brief we received which will be conveyed in our marketing messages. It is something I’ve never seen at Chulalongkorn. Once again, it feels like a different world in the same country.

It would be nice to blend those attitudes together and narrow that gap a little bit, between public and private universities. I’ve been told many times that Thailand is the Land of Extremes; there is no middle ground. Public VS private universities surely is another great example to add up in this case.

Google AdWords Certified & Passion for learning

To become an AdWords Certified professional has been on my to-do list for way too long, even before I stepped into digital marketing field this year. Finally, being able to tick this off my to-dos feels pretty amazing! 

The requirement is, you need to pass 2 exams – AdWords Fundamentals and one more on Search, Display, Video, Mobile, or Shopping Advertising to be certified by Google. There are videos and study guide materials available to study online. 

I did try to study many times, but it was very difficult to stay motivated on my own cramming everything for the exams. 

Until a friend told me about Google Ignite, a 2-day seminar on Google AdWords with a lecturer and study materials for you to take 2 exams at the end of the seminar, and I happily registered without thinking twice. Everything is free of charge. I even found out later Google provided us free lunches, snacks, drinks, as well as many freebies throughout the seminar. Thanks Google for a cute Gmail bag! AND a Google tote bag they will send us along with our certifications in the mail. 

It helps me focus much better to study and absorb knowledge in a classroom environment. For a moment, I almost missed taking lectures in school. Once a nerd, always a nerd! I guess it will never go away! 

In the end it’s not even about getting certified. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely see its benefits, and think Google is smart to educate people to be able to use their tools effectively, therefore they create this positive image and make people eager to learn and use their marketing tools. Win-win situation. 

But apart from that, this short seminar and seemingly tiny personal achievement made me slowly realize what makes me happy. This year I’ve come to realize how heavily goal-oriented I am. And now I’ve found out I DO need to constantly push and challenge myself to do and learn new things, with concrete goals, in order to stay happy. 


Most importantly, I’ve realized I have a passion for learning, and I never want to stop learning and educating myself, ever, no matter how old I am. 

It is quite amusing, now that I ponder, I am very much like these Google marketing tools I’m using. What makes online ad campaigns so effective? Because everything is trackable and measurable. And that IS exactly me. In order to stay productive and motivated, I need trackable and measurable goals to see my own progress and improve my performance. My exercise routine and reading challenge this year adds as another important proof. Quite spooky, isn’t it? 

When work life has become a routine and everything feels quite stable, in which, by the way, I can’t stress enough how grateful I am, at the same time, though, it can be easy to get bored and lose motivation. Everything is good, but I’m not 100% satisfied, which is most likely normal for all of us. Lately I’ve probably lived inside my head and internalized way too much, as well as kept questioning myself a lot about what truly makes me happy in life. Loving, fulfilling relationship? Yes, important, and admittedly I really want it now. But at the same time it really is not the ultimate answer to my happiness, and it feels like relationships for people my age these days are too easy to get screwed up in one way or another. I’ve had enough, got so jaded that it honestly even made me sad, and kind of lost faith in that now (More on that some other time, if I can summon my energy to write it up). Anyway, what I’m trying to say is, even when I’m in a relationship, I constantly need to fight this self-battle and this void inside of me still. Most likely, to me, it would be a bit terrible to hope someone else can fix your internal issues. After all, it’s yours, so it should be YOUR responsibility to deal with. A good life partner would do their best to support you. But after all, you are the one who has to figure it out yourself. 

Everyone’s definition of happiness should be entitled to themselves. But I’m glad that this weekend I’ve glimpsed a tiny bit more into tips leading to happiness, designed for me. I will keep an eye on more opportunities to learn something new and challenge myself. Self-improvement IS important. Self-discovery is even more satisfying, and, in my opinion, is crucial to create a lifelong, sustainable happiness. 

So, what are you working for?

Recently I’ve been contemplating about life and work during morning commute.

(Oh hi Existential Crisis, welcome back!) 

It disappeared for a while, and I was glad my brain could just shut up and leave me in peaceful oblivion, but this (useless?) life contemplation is back visiting me again. Seems to come in a quarterly cycle (What are you Brain, performance quarterly report!?) 

What is your purpose of working, financial reasons aside? 

What drives you to get up and work every day? 

(The kind of question that would make my mother snicker, roll her eyes, and say “you poor thing, have too much leisure time and luxury to contemplate about purpose of work, when majority of people have to do it to survive and make ends meet.”) 

I just asked my best friend this question. Her answer striked me. 

She said “Yeah, I used to wonder that too, but then I remember I still have a daughter’s obligation to fulfill, and that is – to take care of my parents. So that gives me a sense of purpose to keep working.” 

So that made me wonder, would you have a clearer sense of purpose to keep trying to do or fight for something, when you do it for other people, not for yourself? 

Suppose if you have kids, you must work in order to raise them up, make sure they are well taken care of, because you love them and want what is best for them. Even though work is tiring and/or boring, you can’t quit when you have kids relying on you financially at home. 

Would that shut up the voice in your head what or who exactly you are working for? You know you have to struggle and try hard for the kids, for their good life. 

Or would that put even more pressure on you as you have obligation now? And this would make you hate your job even more? Not lost, have a sense of purpose (kids), but hate it and have to do it anyway. 

Perhaps it doesn’t need to be kids. It could be a greater sense of purpose – doing it for other people, a lot more people. For some causes that are personally meaningful to you. 

Would that give you a purpose of working? Would your energy shoot up when you are fighting for it and improving something for other people? Would that give work a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction? 

As a single working woman who doesn’t have many responsibilities toward anyone but myself (Don’t roll your eyes at me, please. I already got that from my mother, ok?), I do have freedom and choices to choose what to work (Oh hi Maslow. Keep seeing your pyramid these days.) Freedom is good (I guess), but choices also come with doubts. So many things to choose, so which one should you pick? Which direction should you be heading? 

Perhaps the purpose of working for self-learning and self-development is not strong enough, when things get rough and tough. 

At the end of the day, could you stop yourself from wondering what or why you are working for? Being tired and stressed for what? 

Still looking for the answer. Back to square one

Embracing a new change

Hi Change. It’s been almost a year since we last met. Not that long I suppose, but when encountering you again, I almost forgot what it feels like, and almost forgot I still needed you. 

Encountering new, unfamiliar changes surely is confusing. At the same time anxiety and worry join forces as you are exposed to these things for the first time. 

But it’s been a while I’ve felt this. I was too relaxed for too long. It can be stressful in the beginning, in this unknown territory, but somehow, surprisingly I’ve missed it. Being confused is confusing! Yet it means I’m learning new things again. You can never take learning opportunities for granted – they make you grow, they make you become a smarter and better you. 

And it’s so important at this point of my life. I still think it is. This is not the period to stop and stay still. 

Being surrounded by talented people also pushed stress even further. But again, hopefully the environment will keep me motivated. I only hope I won’t feel too stressed or too worried that I will underperform or won’t live up to the expectation. I’m fully aware I have the tendency to put the pressure on myself, even when no one is forcing me anything. Usually I am always the one who drives myself crazy, thinking I’m never good enough. What a nagging feeling! The right amount of pressure is good, but too much of it will leave you nothing but stress and worry. And worry never fixes anything, only makes the situation worse than it is. 

Ever thought the older we get, the harder people say or admit “I don’t know”? I see this attitude often and am sadden by it. People are scared to admit what they don’t know, because they are afraid others could view them incompetent or even stupid. As a result, they seem to work hard pretending they know everything, but in fact they haven’t got a clue. And this creates a lot of problems afterwards.

Ego is a very dangerous word when you get older. Funnily enough, perhaps it takes more courage to admit what you don’t know to other people. After all, isn’t it impossible for a person to know everything

I’m trying my best to not be scared of asking questions and admitting I don’t know something, but at the same time showing I’m willing to learn and improve myself. 

HA! This blog post feels like a pep talk to myself to keep it going. Release stress by writing it out, perhaps. I might need to come back and re-read it when I feel overwhelmed! 

Life Coach

Hung out with my best friend on Friday night at Wishbeer. Fifteen years of friendship, we have grown and changed so much, but it’s always great to see her. Feels like it’s been a while since we sat down talking and sharing stuff going on in our life at the moment. 

And it’s just great when your best friend casually asks “So what book are you reading at the moment?” 

I don’t get asked that very often (or at all). She knows me, you know. 

He is away, and will most likely be away for almost all of July and a bit of August. Although I miss him and cuddling (TMI? Cuddling IS crucial!), I suppose having plenty of Me time can be amazing too (But I miss him and cuddling…….). I even joke that I’m single for a month, and my friend said, “Get on Tinder”

The modern society of dating and relationship is sad, you guys. Just sad. 

Anyway, back to what I wanted to write. Again I updated my friend about my current issue and told her about all the conversations I’ve had recently about career. And she added some of her opinions and shared some experiences. 

(Sometimes I can’t help but think it’s probably not even worth calling it an issue. My life, in general, is great, and I am thankful for it most of the time. I hardly have to worry about external stuff. This internal thinking process could kill me at times, though. Hence, the “issue”) 

First, I can change and switch jobs and do anything. But it would help a lot if I could determine what exactly it is that I wanna go to. The big picture. The goal. So that it could guide me as a direction. Whatever action I do today, tomorrow, 2 or 5 years from now, I can decide if it is going to contribute to that goal in the end. Sure, the goal can be changed as anything in life. But at least if I have something to look forward to, it would help making these small decisions easier today. 

Second, we don’t lose anything but the time. Time is extremely important. It generates experiences, knowledge, and so much more, and we cannot get it back. If I am going to lose anything today, it is time

Third, she did share her experience with the “Life coach” which is like a consulting service, only it’s not for business, it’s for people. These people don’t really suggest anything, but they help you form and clarify your thoughts in a systematic way by asking a lot of questions in order to help you solve your problem. The session is only 40 minutes, but it can be exhausting as you have to share and think hard about the root of your “issues” and then they would try to analyze it for you. 

Apparently, this life coach thing is common for executives; people who have to constantly make decisions and face issues. One course could cost many hundred thousands of Baht. That is quite a lot, so I asked her if she could contact them and ask if they still need more “samples” as I am interested in trying this, even for a few sessions. 

We’ll see how it goes. 

Whew, my blog always sounds so serious, doesn’t it? This is a place I choose to write inner thoughts and opinions that I don’t get to express in everyday life, though. 

In fact, what I do today, Saturday, is far from anything serious. Spending some quality time with mom feels almost like a privilege these days – I took her to the hospital, did hair and nails together, grocery shopping, and even condo checking (!). She bought me a very nice present, a two-month-in-advance birthday present, and I couldn’t be happier. And we (well, she) talked a lot, just like we did every day when I was in high school. My mom has always been my good friend, except we now get to talk much less than we used to. 

On days like this – ordinary day like this – I feel like life is good, everything is fine, and my issue is so small that just the thought of it even feels ridiculous. 

Sometimes I do feel that there is nothing more beautiful than just simple, ordinary days in life, surrounded by people you love and love you.