Steal My Ideas

cc license, annais

I had a really lovely catch-up this week with a new friend Garry. He is a photographer and the local community guy over at Blurb. We spent a good couple hours talking about projects we wanted to work on, and ideas for projects that we wanted to do, but didn’t have time for. We also spent some time talking about those ideas for projects that we want someone else to do… seriously. Don’t you ever have ideas for big projects or businesses that you would love for someone just to pick up and run with? I secretly hope that if I pitch these ideas to enough people that I’ll plant in their head and they’ll just execute it for me. I suppose that’s not very likely.

Even the projects that we want to do ourselves, I think are best shared. Sometimes we’re scared to share ideas because someone might “steal” it from us.  Everyone who watched The Social Network is now walking around thinking that the next Mark Zuckerburg is going to launch a competitor website before you can. However I have to believe this is hardly the reality. We are often the ones who are most passionate about our ideas, and many times the idea itself is not so unique.

I want to share more of my ideas. I have found this to be very rewarding lately. I enjoy the feedback, and brainstorming element. I’m not sure what the limitations should be when sharing ideas with competitors, or maybe there shouldn’t be any.

Do you enjoy sharing ideas you have for projects or businesses? 

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The American Connection

I never intended to have so many American friends in Sydney. That being said, I was never against the idea of meeting Americans when I moved here. It just happens somewhat naturally when you’re an expat I suppose. I always tell people that “one American leads to another…” I had a few American friends that I made when I arrived and somehow through our network we’ve collected up a whole group of yanks living down under.

It’s good fun. We share memories together here — a party for Cinco de Mayo, complaining about the lack of chocolate and peanut butter combinations available in Australia, and just enjoying being tourists in our own city. I cherish those common experiences that seem to tie us together from the start.

I’ve also come to believe that it takes a certain type of American to live abroad. I still have ‘cringe moments’ when meeting fellow American traveling abroad, but I find it’s different when I meet Americans who live in Sydney. I recognise it’s a generalisation, but seriously… they are a lovely crew. I’m not sure if living in another country mellows you out, or as I mentioned, maybe it takes a certain personality type. We somehow all choose to embrace a slightly different lifestyle away from home.

While I’ve never been ashamed of my nationality, but I did used to shrug off my “American-ness” more when I first arrived. It made me feel isolated or different at moments, and I really wanted to feel at home here. I think time has made me feel more comfortable and more comfortable to be me.

So in the end, I love the American connection. It’s that moment when you meet someone miles away from home but you still are randomly linked. Your best friend went to the same University as their cousin in a small, Midwest town (or however the story goes). It feels as though you’ve traveled to the other side of the world, only to discover how small this world actually is.

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Sydney Life: Chapter Two

A lot has changed after two years abroad living in Australia. I’m starting to say stuff like “fortnightly” instead of “bi-weekly” and I don’t struggle to understand other accents (most of the time anyway).

I loved Sydney the day from the day I first arrived, but now I can say that I know Sydney. It makes me love this place for a new layer of reasons. I’ve made close friends here. I’ve created memories here – from my first Christmas on the beach to my friends’ engagement party last month. I have a local café, and I’ve become a coffee snob. I can give people directions, catch public transport without getting stressed and even feel comfortable driving on the other side of the road. It seems like small things, but I think it’s a big step to feel completely comfortable with these tiny differences in everyday life.  What used to be “different” now becomes the usual or standard, and I forget that it was ever not the standard. It’s strange to think, but beautiful as well.

I said a sad farewell to my colleagues at Switched on Media last week. Work and my friends there have been a huge part of my life for the last two years. I remember asking my director Scot about the culture of the company during our phone interview. I was about to move to Sydney and not know anyone, I was anxious to meet my colleagues. I consider myself very lucky that not only did I meet some awesome people, but I made some of my closest friends in Sydney. It exceeded my expectations, and I’ll miss that crew.

I now feel that I’m staring chapter two of my life in Sydney. I started a new role this week with Rocketman Media (check them out). It’s a small agency that specialises in influencer outreach. I couldn’t be more excited. It’s an amazing opportunity and work that I’m incredibly passionate about.  I also feel that it’s an innovative company, and it’s great to feel like you’re at the start of something new. I’ll look forward to sharing more updates with you as I go.

I’m still working on The Fetch Sydney as the local curator. Kate founded the Fetch in Melbourne, followed by Sydney and now has launched it in 7 cities worldwide (and still growing). It’s been an inspiration, and pleasure to be a part of it and watch it grow. We recently introduced the Fetch Community Ambassador program to get more people involved. It was perfect timing with all of the industry events happening as part of Vivid Sydney Festival. I’ve been doing some blogging there too.

Lights on MCA for Vivid Sydney

My last bit of news is that I’ve accepted a committee role with Project Australia. They are not for profit with a mission of helping other NFPs and community projects in Australia. I’ve really missed the volunteer work that was a big part of my life before moving to Sydney. It was groups like HOBY and Circle K International that allowed me to make friends and meet like-minded people with shared values. I feel that working with Project Australia will help connect me back to that world, and allow me give back to the community in a hands-on way.

Looking forward to the second chapter.

What’s new with you friends?

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Filed under About Me, Sydney

Finding a Job Abroad After College

I love telling the story of how I ended up in Australia. I have to love telling it, because I get asked all the time. When people hear my accent they want to know why I’m in Sydney and how it came to be. However, the people I’ve most enjoyed sharing my story with over the last couple years are students from back home in the US.

I wrote a guest post recent for Arik Hanson’s blog, Communications Conversations giving advice about finding a job abroad after college. It also got picked up by PR Daily. I was amazed by the response. Several students and recent grads tweeted me saying they shared this dream of moving abroad and working overseas.  I had wrote that one of the biggest challenges of finding a job abroad is believing that it’s possible. I think it’s especially tough for students from the US, who don’t grow up in a culture of travel and exploring the world.

The Australians are wonderful at this. So many of my Aussie friends have travelled internationally with their families from a young age.  Some chose to take gap years, go backpacking, and see the world before starting university or a full time job. Others waited until later, and then left their jobs to go travel. While it’s certainly not something everyone here has to do, it’s also not strange to hear about. For a young professional working in the States, it would probably never happen. If you got up and left, your job would not be waiting for you 10 months later upon your return. Without getting into the current economic differences, between Australia and the US, I do believe there are cultural elements at play.

To clarify, I’m not a world traveller. In fact, I’m not an expert on how to move abroad or job searching. I just love sharing my story. I hope that every soon-to-be-grad who has a vision of living and working overseas has someone who validates that dream for them.  Sometimes we need someone to give us an extra pat on the back and tell us we can reach our goals. That extra push is what helped me to achieve when I was already capable of achieving.

Good luck class of 2012. If you’re headed to Sydney, please let me know and I’ll shout you a coffee when you arrive.

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Moving Day

All packed and ready to go!

I’m moving to a new place today. I’m bummed to leave Surry Hills, but I won’t be far away. My new spot is just on the other side of Oxford Street, in the lovely suburb of Darlinghurst.

Packing up my things reminded me of my promise for this new year to consumes less. It’s shocking how much I’ve seem to have collected over the last year and a half while living in Sydney. When I moved here I brought four large suitcases (shoes and clothing mostly). I definitely couldn’t fit my belongings now into those same four suitcases. What’s even worse is that I have stuff back in Ohio still. Stuff I haven’t used in 2+ years, collecting dust.

I do think that it’s a physiological challenge to battle “owning” things. I’m not a crazy hoarder or obsessive compulsive shopper by any means, but I don’t think I have the mindset (right now) to own less. I don’t understand what it means to be a minimalist. It’s something I have to work on changing and it’s not as simple as “just getting rid of stuff.”

Do you feel like owning too much “stuff” weighs you down? Any advice you can share? 

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Customer Service and the Tipping Culture

cc license, Christopher Walker

When I moved to Australia it was weird not to leave tips in restaurants. I was still used to the 15-20% standard at home. On a related note, I also found the service at many establishments awful. It was frustrating, and then I found myself getting more frustrated for allowing such a silly thing to bother me.

A year and a half later, I’m mostly over it. Instead of being fed up with bad service, I appreciate really awesome service when I experience it. It’s something to celebrate rather than just have to expect in a tipping culture. Good service is genuine here. When someone is friendly and goes out of their way it makes me smile. I love that feeling.

I’m also happy not to tip. Stuff here is expensive enough already. I don’t need to add a 20% on top of that. As a general rule, I do still leave a small tip at nice restaurants for exceptional service. I’m really curious on what percentage of Australians tip at restaurants, and how much.

What is your experience with tipping and customer service in Australia?  

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Some Thoughts on Getting Paid

cc license, timsnell I see a lot of blog posts about why you shouldn’t work for free, but I think that society undervalues the volunteer at times. This post isn’t meant to dismiss situations where you should be charging for your time, but rather speak up for the role of the volunteer.

My mum taught me the importance of giving back from an early age. I always joke that my first volunteer experiences were hardly “voluntary” because she was the one signing me up. Now I’m grateful. It used to disappoint her when someone signed up to volunteer and then wouldn’t show up because they felt their commitment wasn’t as binding due to the fact they were an unpaid volunteer. It’s the wrong mindset.

Sometimes getting paid to do something is not possible or not likely. This shouldn’t hold you back. If money isn’t your reason for doing something, it won’t hold you back from helping an important cause, mission or not-for-profit. We should value these chances to help.

Not getting paid extends to more than just charitable work in my mind. Some things we do in life won’t always be about making money. Sometimes, it’s about doing something you love, something you enjoy. The cliché saying we all know is, “there is more to life than money.” Yes, everyone needs to make a living but not everything we do has a dollar amount attached to it.

I’ve also found that getting paid to do something potentially changes expectations both for yourself and the person paying you. When you’re getting paid it can ruin the “fun” element. The person paying you might expect more than when you were a volunteer. Now that you’re suddenly getting paid you could also get fired.

When you’re not following your passion, helping someone who needs you, or feel that you’re being taken advantage of for some reason– then revaluate your situation and ask again if you should still be working for free.

What are your thoughts on getting paid? 

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Filed under About Me, Community Service