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49,600m, 49.6km July Swim Challenge. How you can help

49,600m, 49.6km July Swim Challenge. How you can help

Doing something good with your time.

I don’t take for granted how lucky we are to live in Singapore and how awful this situation has been for many people globally. Keeping positive can be tough, check out my previous post on keeping busy.

I find setting goals and challenges really help. It’s now July (How?) and things are opening up here in Singapore. Most importantly to me, the pool is open again which has inspired my July challenge. In order to do some good and get fit, I’ve started a month-long swimming challenge which forces me out of the condo and to exercise, good for physical and mental wellness.

From the 1st July I’ve been swimming 100M x day. So that means that on day one, I swam = 100m, day two = 200m, day six = 600m up to day 31 = 3,100M. Our pool is 50m long so for every 100m I’ll be doing two lengths of the pool. All the way up to 62 lengths on the final day, which will be tough as I would have done 60 lengths the day before. I did the maths, if I manage to do this each day, I’ll swim 49,600M by the end of July, which is 49.6KM and 30.8 miles. A little further than a marathon. Shit!

I was going to do this for LOLs and to lose a bit of belly fat. But today I decided I’d try to do it for a cause. Part of my extended family, like a second mum, and one of my mum’s best buds, hosts a coffee morning each year for Macmillan Cancer Support and I want to help her from afar. She has already done an incredible job raising £6,506.26 this year and I’d love to get her to £7,000.

This is going to be physically and mentally challenging and the thought of helping others will hopefully power me through. The last seven days of the challenge will see me swim a casual 392 lengths of the pool. Which sounds awful!

Feeling giving? Please donate whatever you can here and feel free to share with others to get Kay and her coffee morning to £7,000.


Share, wherever you can 

Check out Kays Coffee Morning Site. You missed it this year, but something tells me she’ll do it again in 2021, either physically or virtually.

Five Months living in Singapore – Don’t get down, get busy.

Five Months living in Singapore – Don’t get down, get busy.

A quick update on the last five months living in Singapore. I get a lot of friends and connections reaching out to ask how I’m doing and whether I’m still a man of leisure.

So, yes. I’m still a man of leisure. But I’m keeping busy. I wanted to share a few of the things that I’ve been up to and also a few of the things I’ve been pondering over the last few months. Objective: to update friends and also to inspire others that may need a nudge, just do it, don’t get down, get busy.

Month One. (Feb)

The first week was spent exploring with Danielle. She had a week before she had to start work so we did the standard tourist stuff with meeting friends that were already out here. I also kicked off our hunt for an apartment as we only had four weeks included within the relocation package. Mid Feb and Singapore had already closed the boarders to certain countries and where temperature screening everyone at every opportunity. It was super quiet, and we could explore. Highlights, eating out every night, golf trip with a few guys to Indonesia, exploring and finding our Condo (just in time).

Month two. (March)

Covid-19 started to get a little more serious here. Rumours of a ‘lock-down’ Our first Serviced Apartment stay was over, and we had to book a second (cheaper) apartment in Clarke Quay, as ours was not ready until April 7th. I started my job hunt, applying for roles on LinkedIn and also started to meet people for coffees to start trying to develop a new network. Still eating out every night.

Month three. (April)

Oh, crap lockdown Starts 7th April. The day we’re meant to get our keys and all the furniture delivered. We had nothing, we’d travelled with two suitcases each, mine was pretty much just shorts and gadgets. Lucky for us, we got the keys two days earlier, we had two panic trips to IKEA, and everything arrived as planned – except for bed slats. Apparently, these don’t come with beds in Singapore, you have to order them separately. We stopped eating out, turned the spare room into a gym and I started cooking every day. Gave up on job hunting to focus on networking, all via Zoom, Hangouts and Teams. There’s only so much networking you can do in a day, so I started looking for new things to fill my time:

  • Considered setting up a photography and video company to help local property agents list condos, boy do they need it! Apparently, it’s been tried many times before.
  • Completed a certificate in Nutrition with Optimum Nutrition – very good!
  • Completed Google – Fundamentals of Digital Marketing
  • Started writing a book – ‘Oh Crap we’re moving to Singapore’
  • Started to provide content and social consultancy to a local craft beer bar, poor sod put his life savings into a bar for the country to lock down.

Month four (May)

Locked down, bought some bikes and pretended to be keen cyclists just to get out of the apartment. Highlight bought a BBQ for the balcony. That was a game changer, less washing up. Keeping busy:

  • Completed a certificate from HarvardX – Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies.
  • Continued to write my book – 10,000 words and counting.
  • Decided to try and start a clothing label, I have samples if anyone’s interested (ridiculous, as I’m the least trendy person)
  • Set up a Shopify with fulfilment globally to sell my T-Shirts. 
  • Started a new Certificate with London Business School – Managing the company of the future
  • Started to provide Pro-bono consultancy to Recruiters Give Back, looking at their business plan, marketing and content.
  • Considered a YouTube channel – decided against it.

Now (June)

Unlocked, slowly exploring again. Starting to network a little harder as the jobs market seems to be opening up a little more here. I got invited to join Recruiters Give Back on the board of advisors an exciting opportunity to give back. Plan going forward:

  • Carry on with the book, I’m hopeful it’ll help the next batch of Expats coming to Singapore.
  • Finish the Certificate with London Business School
  • Continue to support Recruiters Give Back and grow new opportunities to help other local organisations.
  • Considering a Podcast, just for LOLs.
  • New Business idea – ‘Condo Experience’, working through that.
  • Continue to network – If you’re around and want a coffee, I’m keen.

That’s been the last few months, I’ve not been working. But it’s been busy. Thank you to everyone that’s chatted with me, tried to help and shared connections.


Hustle, keep going you’re not quite doing enough

Hustle, keep going you’re not quite doing enough

My experience in finding a job, so far.

The current pandemic has impacted everyone and will continue to for a long time to come. Many people have lost more than they ever imagined. But I’m sticking to the subject of jobs.

I knew I was leaving a career I enjoyed and would have nothing. That was a risk I was willing to take, and it was essential in achieving our goal in moving to Singapore. I chose not to have a job and to find something when we landed. What I didn’t expect was a global pandemic to hit a month after arriving in a new country.

There are a lot of recruiters and business leaders commenting on recruitment and how to get a job in this most challenging of times. Some of the advice is good, most is obvious and some I just don’t agree with. Whilst I haven’t landed a job yet, I’ve been successful in having a number of conversions and I’ve started to develop a whole new network in a new country and continent. This for me is a huge win and I’m hopeful of some positive news soon.

With the above in mind, I wanted to share a few of the things I’ve been doing over the past few months to gain some traction in the recruitment cycle, in hope that it helps someone else. I’m no expert, agree or not, this is simply my experience to date.

  1. Use your network. Just before I started my search, I posted a message on here asking my network if they knew of anyone in APAC and more specifically Singapore. So many people shared my message and connected me with friends, family and ex-colleagues it was incredible. I figured, what’s the point building this network if I wasn’t going to use it?
  2. Biggest learning – LinkedIn alone, isn’t enough. Please, please, please don’t just apply on LinkedIn and think your job is done. If this is the approach you’re taking – then you’re not doing enough. Having been on the other side I can tell you that the format isn’t pretty, and you won’t stand out. It’s unlikely that you’ll even hear back from a LinkedIn application. So, to counter this, I’ve been proactively finding the hiring manager. Nine times out of ten this is listed on the description ‘reporting into the CEO/VP of X’. Find this person and drop them a mail, say hi, start building a relationship beyond your profile. I’ve been pleasantly surprised as to the number of responses I’ve had and remember, if nothing comes of it, you’re growing your network.
  3. You’ll do more by yourself and with friends than a recruiter will. I appreciate I may have now screwed myself for the future. But the reality is I’ve got further personally trying different routes to build my network than any recruiter has for me so far. I’ve met a few and they have all been great, they’re having a tough time too. But, don’t rely on them to get you out of a hole. You’re only as good as you’re network. But, don’t forget your friends, family and ex-colleagues have networks too and a referral goes a long way. I’ve sent countless WhatsApp messages asking people if they know anyone at X business or Y agency. A lot of the time someone knows someone and they’re mostly happy to refer as there’s a financial benefit if I get the role.
  4. Think outside the box, be open to different roles and consider creating a role over finding one. It has surprised me a little in Singapore. Everyone seems to want to put me in a client services box. It’s not a position I’ve ever had before and to be honest not a position I’ve ever really wanted. But, three of the interviews I’ve had have suggested that they’d love to reach out when a client leadership role becomes available. As nice as it is, I’d urge you not to jump into an area that you don’t want to be in, just for the paycheque. Stay strong, you’ll find what you want.
  5. People are trying to help you, let them. I saw this last week, ( which is actually part of a bigger thing, Set up by Caroline Langston to help people, like us in Hong Kong, Singapore, UK, USA, Thailand, Australia and Dubai, definitely take a look. I thought this was pretty awesome, a little ray of sunlight in a miserable forecast. There are many examples of people trying to help. From people offering CV advice and free coaching (like my lovely friend Kerry) to others sharing lists of companies that are hiring. Use this resource, it’s free!
  6. Digital interviews are the new norm. Prepare just like you would for a face to face. I’ve struggled to adapt to digital interviews seeing them more as chats or meetings over interviews. But, if you’re lucky enough to land a job in these times, your introduction to the business, colleagues and clients will be digital so get used to it and make sure you have a setting that enables it.
  7. There are jobs out there, you have to look for them and hustle a little more than you normally would. Don’t give up, you’ve got this. Be patient (if you can) I appreciate everyone isn’t in the same position. This is your opportunity to redefine yourself and find a role that you’ll enjoy.
  8. Don’t let it consume you. It’s mind-numbing, a little demotivating and can get you down running a search and seeing nothing new day after day. Relevant jobs don’t come up every single day. Set a schedule, I’ve started searching every three days. It’s the first job of my day and is followed by learning, I’ve just finished a certificate in nutrition. Otherwise, networking or playing a bit of Scrabble on my iPhone. Consider your mental health as this could have a negative impact if not managed, it’s a tough slog.

Eight things I’ve learnt in the last two months. I hope this help someone else, I’d love to hear your thoughts and any lessons you’ve taken too.

Practising what I preach – if you know anyone in Singapore, specifically in the content world, I’d love to grab a virtual coffee with them and would appreciate an intro.

Good Luck!

I’ve developed a few websites for friends, the learnings

I’ve developed a few websites for friends, the learnings

Over the years I’ve dabbled with a number of little projects, but none had stuck with me more than simple website design. For context, I’ve only ever made websites for friends or family to help them out and I’ve never been paid for my work. I wanted to share a few of the sites. If I can make them, anyone can.

The first site I ever built was to prove a point, this was about 10 years ago.

Generation Blog – No longer live

At the time I was working for a great digital growth agency, Greenlight. My role, Head of Outreach, placed me in the SEO team and in particular the content and link building/earning side of that department. Google had released a major update and we had to change our approach to link building within a week. I’d suggested to my boss at the time that we develop a blogger community or network. It could have been my pitch, maybe the big sell wasn’t as big as I thought – he turned the idea down. Six months later, I tried again, still no. So, I went home, bought a domain and hosting, watched a couple of YouTube videos and went about building a website/community forum, where bloggers could create subgroups and ultimately network. They could also sign up to receive a weekly newsletter with brand opportunities. Not surprising to me, lots signed up within 24 hours and a week later, we’d commissioned our own blogger community at Greenlight.

Learnings: WordPress is incredible, Domains are cheap, Hosting can be expensive – if you buy the wrong package, Buddy Press is a great plugin, Hustle, don’t give up, prototype to show something works if you really believe in it.

The Stone Horse

My cousin and his other half run a lovely local pub in Kent. They didn’t have any money when they opened up to pay for a website, so they asked for a hand. Easy I said – by this stage I’d messed about with 10 or so domains of my own and thrown up holding pages or made something a little more complex. I bought them the domain, purchased a theme and set about making a website. A year later, I’d purchased Divi Builder (a modular, drag and drop website builder for WordPress) and we had a play with a new look and feel. One of the things I love most about Divi is its simplicity. Weekly, I update the specials menu for them, which is now a case of changing the visibility of items and takes a matter of minutes. It’s also been super useful for Covid-19 – Meg and Mike decided they would pivot the business to offer collection from the pub kitchen. Classic Pub Grub takeaway. We were able to amend the site in an hour to accommodate this for them, which has been hugely popular.

Learnings: When you’re going to be hosting multiple websites – look into reseller hosting as it’s cheaper, Don’t be afraid to redesign, Elegant themes/Divi provides a really simple modular based building platform with pre-set themes now, there are a few excellent plugins Divi Boost and Divi Switch that offer additional elements, consider pivoting a business to make the most of a situation and have an agile enough online solution to allow speed to market.

Wrights of Northampton

My better halves father owns and runs a yard and business that offers transport and haulage, van hire, repairs and storage facilities and was using word of mouth and social for promotion. It was time for him to have a website. Again, using Divi and some inspiration from competitors, I developed him a simple site to capture new customers. In the early days I gave him email hosting too. But, as his business grew, my little package was no longer good enough for them.

Learnings: Don’t be too proud to have conversation around capabilities – he needed a better email solution than I could provide, business email solutions are important for SMEs with multiple staff, be quick off the mark – new products are always being added – recently we added Isuzu servicing as they became a local partner. It’s OK to have a live WIP that will develop over time, keep your plugins updated to avoid being hacked.

A few of the plugins and tools I use to help these guys run their businesses:

  • WordPress
  • Elegant Themes – Divi website builder
    • Divi Switch – Plugin
    • Divi Boost – Plugin
  • EZPZ hosting – Reseller Package
  • Yoast SEO – Plugin for site optimisation
  • WP Structured data Schema – Plugin, I don’t pretend to know what this does. But, the guys at work said it was important now.
  • GDPR Cookie consent banner – plugin, does what it says.
  • Sitewide Notice Banner – Plugin, has been very useful across all the sites to share Covid-19 updates. It’s a huge shame that we’ve had to use this. But, very useful all the same.

I’m currently working on a new one for my brother and dad who are looking to start a side hustle in Personalised Printing. Watch this space!

There we go a few projects and a few learnings, a couple of links to their sites (the link building in me will never die). Hopefully a few handy tips too

My thoughts on Brands, Content and Covid-19. A look forward

My thoughts on Brands, Content and Covid-19. A look forward

It’s no secret we’re in for a tough slog with Covid-19. The UK, as well as many other countries across the globe, are in some form of lock-down. Shops, bars, restaurants and offices are closed across the land and with many governments imposing safe distancing or ‘lockdown’ measures, creating original content has all but ground to a halt. Ironically, this comes at a time where consumption will be at its highest with people indoors seeking something to take their minds off of this global pandemic.

For brands and agencies, it has imposed a real challenge. Social distancing measures and lockdowns have halted content production. Permits cancelled, equipment houses closed, and shots cancelled. On top of that, nobody knows what the end of this pandemic looks like, so marketing budgets are on hold.

However, the wheels don’t have to stop. Content can and should still be created, brands have the opportunity to connect and there are many eyeballs waiting for new and engaging content. Let’s be honest, they didn’t want your advert anyway – they wanted something to help them kill time, something interesting. More than ever they want to see how you as a brand address this situation, with the right tone and how you’re going to help the world heal in an innovative and creative way.

It’s true that none of us wants to be in this position. But we are and we should consider the current opportunity, which is very different to the 2020 plan that was signed off at the end of last year. And whilst it’s not impossible to shoot a new TVC, as Tesco’s have recently shown, there are other ways to create content and reach your audience during these unprecedented times. Being more agile and reallocating spend, after all the planned for OOH placements or tube ads, are no longer relevant.

  1. Influencer Marketing – A moment to shine!

It’s still a relatively new medium, although it’s reaching maturity. Influencers have a global reach, authority and can adjust their tone in line with current sensitivities.  The beauty of influencers is they are set up for these challenging times. These guys have the kit on hand, they have the audience and know how to speak to them, and they can work from home. The perfect setup.

They are digital-first, naturally adapting to situations and having the ability to be agile in their approach. Working with brands to sensitively share information or to simply entertain customers whilst utilising a product isn’t new to them. And they can do it without having to directly interact. You could argue that this is their moment to shine and show what Social Influencers can really do for businesses and brands in times of trouble.

  1. Home-made – Something new

No, this isn’t what you think! If Ant & Dec can do it, what’s stopping you? They came to the nation from their homes last weekend. Most Smartphones are now equipped with fantastic cameras that are good enough for social content.

Arguably this requires the most creativity. A quick look on TikTok will provide you with all the inspiration you need for Home-grown content.  Create it, edit it and post it. Ensuring some smart paid targeting.

You potentially have thousands of bored fans/creatives at your fingertips. Consider running a UGC campaign to generate some new content that can be edited into brand material and shared.

  1. Recycle – Something old

Remember that content you created a couple of years ago? Could you use some of it again? Maybe it needs a quick adaptation to make it fresh new and relevant to the current time. Take a look through the archives and create something new from something old.

A few options to keep the wheels in motion. Now more than ever your marketing shouldn’t go silent. It should just evolve, be relevant and mindful of your audience needs and state.

Good Luck!