TBTM #46: Personal Branding & Media Management Policies

Every time I appear on a certain type of list, it is pointed out by the people (i.e. friends) that tell me I’m going to be on it, that one of the criteria the editorial team asks is “Is he handsome? Must be handsome you know.”, apparently my writer friends are the most expert of sar kar queens. #superfriendzoned

In all seriousness, we all need to manage our personal brands and the identities we have in specific contexts.

As part of my personal brand management and audience segmentation, I manage my mainstream/published media presence with the following policies.

1) Local Malay Language Media – Strictly only coverage that is Community Issues related and my identity as a volunteer to improve the credibility of the organisations I serve at. Strictly no “Lists”, having seen the contents of such lists, they have no relevance to my brand identity within the Malay community, hence my friends in that media know that I don’t want to see my name published on any of their lists.

2) Local English and Chinese Language Media – Only coverage about my work in Technopreneurship and my identity as a volunteer and philanthropist. Anything else in self contained silos for those specific story contexts.

3) International Media not published in or for Singapore’s local market – Coverage about my work in the specific silos that I have involvement in for silo specific niche media. For example, in the context of sports, when I am racing, I am under contractual obligation to do all the appearances that my employers or sponsors require me to do according to my contract, so when I am off the clock I do not do any because I am not at work and don’t have to. And this is why when I am at home in any off season or training in between races, I don’t bring my work home with me, what I do on tour stays compartmentalised in that silo and has no place outside of that context of my work, I don’t need that attention away from the job. That is part of my work-life balance policy.

4) All Media Family Privacy Policy – No coverage on my family regarding personal and home issues. Privacy is paramount, although my family has a long standing history in the development of the nation, the community and the economy, what we do at home and within the family is private. Unless there is a public event about a family member, we usually don’t talk about family issues outside the family.

5) Managing Frequency – Do not make general non-work related or non-community related print or broadcast media appearances more than once a quarter or 4 times a year. And only agree to appear on “Lists” once every 2 years at the shortest. Unless there is a specific work or community related purpose to it, I do not participate in interviews. Only participate if there is a reason relevant to benefitting the community or regarding work related content. Anything more than that in my opinion is over exposure. Most people get their 15 minutes of fame and then fade to oblivion, because they get over exposed and have no relevance after that.

Having a personal media management policy protocol is critical for everyone, especially in the current world where social media makes it possible for anyone to write anything about anyone, the mainstream and published media becomes the place where building your brand becomes critical, because someone else writes about you and builds your identity and brand. How you manage your media exposure determines that aspect of your brand development.

Of course you need to know what you want your brand identity to be. Mine has always been Volunteer and Philanthropist primarily within the MM community, and additionally Technopreneur or Social Entrepreneur to everyone else in the local context. And if you notice, those are the labels I make sure are published in every local media appearance I do.

I’ve always tried to keep a low profile on the street but very regularly people keep telling me that I look familiar, I usually played it down to probably having met them at some event and reply that they look familiar too. Although when I was racing I used to get, “You look familiar, did I see you in a magazine somewhere?” every couple of weeks, I would usually play it down to coincidence and later on during the comversation ask them if they’ve travelled any where recently just to check if it was from something recent or further back, and what might be in their mind at that moment. It might seem sneaky, but it’s an effective way to find out what they think about the character I play in that public persona.

Yes, I do know that there are plenty of people that hate my guts, but then they don’t pay my salary or put food on my table so it doesn’t matter to me.

I write this stuff because I know I have a following of kids that read my stuff and for some reason see me as some sort of role model, or so they tell me when they see me on the street and say hi.

TBTM #45: “Soldier Boy’s Reality #10 – 3 Principles of Visibility”

3 things I take with me everyday, that apply in field work and in civilian life back home.

These three ‘Principles of Visibility’ have kept me alive in every possible situation I have experienced since I started doing field work.

1) It’s a two way street. – If you have the asset(s) down range from you, always remember that you are also down range from them.

2) The bush line is only a guide not a rule. Sometimes the skyline is the better option. – A low profile is ideal but staying below the bushline where the bush cuts the horizon is not always possible to maintain nor always practical for achieving the objective. You need to adapt to the situation and keep a realistic view of the objective. Sometimes that means relocation to achieve a different vantage point to complete the objective. This might mean changing elevation, if you cannot achieve the functional vantage from your current station, you might need to move to a higher ground to complete the objective with a top-down vantage.

3) Eyes on you, got your back. – Though it’s important to manage your visibility on the ground, it’s just as important for your command to know where you are at all times. And as much as possible your position should be accessible by your support and you should be aware of all possible points of extract.

TBTM #44: “Life on Tour: A Whole Other Sport”

Competing on the world tour is not a whole other level, it is a whole other sport.

You must change your training programme to be able to compete in different timezones and environments. Physiologically you become a different athlete. Your body clock is on world time, it has to be so you can beat jet lag.

You also have to get used to adapting, understanding and respecting the different cultures in the locations you compete in.

This is quite unlike domestic or regional competition where the differences are slight. The difference is across continents.

Then there is the attention you get from the international media and the fans. This is not your home town crowd support. This is the international audience that anticipates your arrival  and feels entitled to a piece of you because they buy the magazines and  the product lines you endorse. Rightly they do, because their purchases pay for your salary. This is money, this is the reason there is a world tour, you are part of the consumer product marketing and distribution chain. You are not the consumer, you are a marketer.

And of course being on the world tour means that you have to be a professional, at the national level where almost everyone is an amateur you can probably get away with not being 100% because the other guys are not preparing and performing at that level you need to be to have a sniff at the world tour.

You will need 100% control of your performance if you want to compete on tour and execute race strategy. Race strategy is the other thing that sets the tour apart from the amateur competition, everything is planned and has to be executed to the micron. There is science behind race strategy, managing your physiological resources to optimise the result based on what performance your body is capable of producing. Before the race starts, you already know when you are going to finish, it becomes a chess game to see what the other teams have planned.

TBTM #43: “So You Wanna Be A Model?”

This video (link below) is a legit Q&A with agents from LA Models about how you really get into the industry as a model from open casting. Great job Allie! Exactly what kids need to know about getting started in modelling.

Do You Want To Be A Model?! – Allie Marie Evans

Follow the steps and advice in the video and you’ll be fine if you’ve got the talents.

Do note that legit agents know what they’re doing and will assess you on how you look in person, so don’t worry if you only have shitty photos because your friends are shitty photographers or are selfish people that give absolutely zero flarks about getting good shots of other people.

And importantly remember that legit agents do not charge you a cent for your portfolio if they select you, they will up front the costs of your development because they believe in you. Life Rule: “Don’t believe any compliments from anyone that wants you to give them money.”

For my dear mentees that really want to get in to the fashion industry, you already know I said it’s not going to be easy. The game is not in Singapore, so you really need to start with an international agency or label if you want a proper career. It’s easy now with the internet you can contact almost any agency directly.

You’ll get better opportunities and money being a small fish in the ocean, than being any sized fish in a puddle.

It’s ok if no one at home knows your work, in fact that is the dream, home is where you go for peace and quiet anonymity. You will appreciate this anonymity once you’ve got a career going.

Like I said I got lucky, my earlywork for LA Gear in my teens was a big reason I got signed when I started racing. I was the ready product then, mostly because I took the initiative to learn on the job early on, everything I know about portrait and scene photography (except for technical handling of specific camera models) was learned on the job from asking the photogs and production crew what they did and why they did it. Pros in the industry at that level are friendly people and willingly share their knowledge with you because if you know what needs to be done it also helps them get the results they want.

Just like in any career you have to pay your dues. And also be real about whether you are really gonna make it  and how long it’ll take you to get there. Between my first stage gig with LA Gear at fifteen and my first major exclusive label contract when I was racing, it was eight years of work in seasonal campaigns and shows, balancing school, sports and everything else at the same time.

It is not easy but it’s possible, if you have the required talents, and consistently work hard and smart enough for long enough.

TBTM #42: “Know Your Anatomy, Buying The Right Size Briefs”

I wrote this because boys asked questions about this issue and nobody bloody answers it.

Learning to buy the right undergarments for your comfort and mobility in sports is vital to your performance on races and matches. It begins with understanding your body.

Here is the closest thing I’ve found to an objectively academic clarification of why crotch space requirements differ from person to person (https://5sizes.wordpress.com/) (WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES OF MALE ANATOMY. If you choose to read the articles on the page it is your choice. Don’t complain to me about being offended or your discomfort or insecurities from looking at pictures of penises.) on the issue of why it is hard for athletes to shop for underwear.

Because crotch space requirements differ from person to person even though the waist band is the same. The same model or waist size of trunks or briefs might fit and feel different for each user.

There is a  difference in crotch space between undergarments designed originally in US size cuts and Asian size cuts. That’s why I always ask the shop attendants if the original designs were made in US Size cuts, if the garment being sold was made in that original design or adapted for the Asian size. Even then most of the time they aren’t well trained enough to know the actual correct product information, so it’s always necessary to take out a sample of the garment in the size you intend to buy and check the crotch space to see if it’s adequate for your anatomy. Make sure there is enough room for your flaccid penis shaft to rest fully out and not suppressed in it’s natural resting length.

Crotch space is as or if not more important than waist size when picking underwear. There is nothing worse that having your schlong smooshed in tight undies all day.

TBTM #41: “Turning Pro and Staying Pro”

The secret to having a professional career in sportswear as a (model, designer and/or photogtapher) just as in other segments of the fashion industry is working with professionals from the actual professional scene.

1) Because you learn to be a proper pro.

2) Because you can trust the other guy to do a proper job.

3) Because you are expected to do a proper job and perform at the expected standards.

Note however that there is no proper professional scene for Sportswear in Singapore (just as in most other parts of the world outside the fashion capitals) so you have to travel mostly to Europe, the Americas and Japan for work. Sure it is not the most convenient situation, but the benefits are exponentially more rewarding because of this.

1) You get paid to travel and use the new product lines before anyone else knows about them.

2) You will be in a professional working environment when you’re on the job overseas or on location.

3) You enjoy anonymity and privacy when you get home because the man on the street is disconnected from the scene your work exists in.

10 Things I Learned About Running A Group Of Companies

After consulting one of my mentors I’ve come to accept the feedback that I don’t actually need more partners, or for that matter as many partners as I currently have, what I actually need is just more employees.

1) Establish My Inner Circle – I have my core partners and staff which I should keep because they have my back and act as extensions of my ambitions, and they are essential to specific aspects of my business. What they do might be replaced by someone else but they should be kept because I can trust them.

2) Identify The Fringe – I should cut the fat outside of my core team because some partners function more as collaborators. So they should be clearly established as useful but not essential. These are replacable resources that may be called upon for specific funtions when required.

3) Stuff The Beanbag – I should staff all my companies with full-time employees from the start. And make myself redundant in those operations from the start. I should not have to be involved in the execution of day-to-day business operations. My only role is to set direction, review performance and approve policy. Everything else should be done by the employees.

4) Don’t Be The Easter Bunny – Most people don’t actually want to be their own boss. They just want to be paid regularly for what they do and feel appreciated. I don’t need to offer them shares or profit sharing. All I need to do is treat them well enough for them to feel appreciated and pay them wages that allow them to live comfortably (not necessarily luxuriously) so they feel appreciated and motived to contribute every day they come to work.

5) The Bottom Line Is The Bottom Line – At the end of the day despite the intangible reasons of why I do business and what I intend to spend my money on, the bottom line is that I need to make money. The basic point of a business is to make money that I can spend. If that money doesn’t end up in my bank account it is of no value to me. Sure I could spend it on charity by donating it or hiring more people to work for me, which I where I currently spend what I don’t roll back into the business. However I am not an employee of the company I am an owner of the company, I need to make sure that my investors and I get our returns on investment. There would be no company without the investors or me, employee positions can always be created and filled.

6) Focus On Doing What I Do – I should be focusing on developing and creating ideas for opportunities, and leading people. I should not be stuck in the execution. My value to the company is the opportunities for income I create, which means my ideas and vision. The execution should be done by the employees whose value is in their contribution to the execution of my ideas and vision.

7) Buy Talent And Ability – For any operational function there is someone out there that can be hired to do the job within the wage budget. We just have to find them, hire them and inspire/motivate them tangibly or intangibly to produce the results.

8) Be The Boss – I am not paid to be nice or generous, those are my own personal touches. I am paid to light the fire under people’s asses and be the beacon to the destination, so that they make money for the company.

9) Sales Is Everyone’s Job – Every employee of the company contributes to sales either by being good ambassadors of the company by giving a good impression of the company to everyone they meet or actually bringing in sales for the company. If they don’t contribute to sales in either of those ways then the company does not need to keep them on the payroll.

10) There Are Only Two Ways To Become A Billionaire – The first way to become a billionaire is to make a billion dollars. The other way is to have a billion dolllars. Not many people are capable of doing either, for those people that can it’s just a matter of when.

TBTM #40: “Labelled Vs Tagged”

It’s cute seeing kids these days trying to model with pics on FB and IG. So full of hope and innocence.

The reality is that they have to be spotted by someone connected with influence that would hire them for jobs. They can have thousands of ‘likes’ but until someone from the industry that actually matters gets wind of them, they will be just another narcissist posting selfies.

Network is everything in this line.

I was lucky and blessed that I started my relationship with sports labels as a baby, because my dad worked for the regional distributor and my mum was in publishing. My first pair of sneakers were production samples of maroon suede & polyester mesh Nike baby road runners. This became prophetic to my eventual career in the industry.

When I got my first personal break on my own at 15, it was because I signed up for a low paid work attachment for a national expo event to get the job experience on my portfolio. I volunteered to work on the stage crew because I loved the stage and AV stuff. It just so happened that they needed an emcee to cover the filler segments and lucky draws. That was how I got my first paying hosting and stage modelling job. And started my relationship with another American sports label, because their distributor was the show’s main sponsor and the boss was an old boy of my alma mater who liked me for my personality and can do attitude. So begins years of free stuff and earning my own spending money.

So when I started racing competitively, and got hooked up with my pro team label, I wasn’t exactly new to the business. I’d been in and around it my whole life pretty much.

The opportunity came because they needed equipment testers for final run prototypes, my dad was friends with the owner of their supplier factories, I was already competing in a satellite circuit, had a diploma in Mechanical Engineering specialising in Design and familiar enough with biomechanics and ergonomics. So everything just fit.

The modelling was secondary, it was just convenient that I’d already been prepared for that growing up. I made all my own breaks building my portfolio.

During my active years I never had to take selfies because I was paid to let someone else take pictures of me, I also never carried a camera on me. I never had to talk about it because the label’s marcomms team did all that work for us, I just show up do my thing and get paid for it. I honestly didn’t care that the label owned all rights to every photo or video they took, because I got paid for it. As long as you get paid enough who cares what anyone else thinks. Let them say what they want about you, as long as that dollar goes in your pocket it doesn’t matter what the haters say or think. To me it was all just a job, I get paid to do it and that’s really the whole point of it. The best response to haters is to live well.

I find it amusing when people point to amateurs posting selfies and think that’s where the game is. The real game is in the pros when you don’t have to post jack shit about anything to get paid to do what you do.

Now when I share stories like this, it’s to help kids understand the difference between having ego driven pipe dreams and having legitimate practical professional ambition.

All this was because I got out and tried to make connections in the real world offline and made my own breaks. Posting selfies and videos will not be enough for most people to get the notice of the decision makers that matter. If posting pictures of yourself with pretentious  captions was enough to get you a career as a model or pro athlete than nobody on IG would need a day job would they?

You have to venture out and pay your dues as early as possible. Build your portfolio where it matters. Build relationships where it matters.

And if you really do want to turn pro, the only career advice from amateurs you should be listening to is advice on how to not make their mistakes and get stuck below the bar like them.

I was lucky my dad was a pro and I had other pros from different sports to take example from.

Now with the internet, kids have access to so many resources to learn from. However nothing beats going out there in the real world and connecting with industry decision makers in real life.

TBTM #39: “The Power of Letting Go Responsibly”

I’ve done my time on tour. I am retired. Now is time for my private life to be full-time. I’ve stopped doing appearances as an athlete because I don’t need that attention when I travel anymore. It was not something I wanted in the first place, but it was part of the job and so I accepted that.

The boys and girls that I am grooming for the pro tours are the ones that should be getting that attention when they make it there. And they will have to decide with their own mind how to manage that aspect of their career.

It is nice to be appreciated for your  abilities as competitor, but at some point you have to accept that such attention will intrude beyond your professional life. And you have to manage that. It is your responsibility as a professional to contain that situation so that it does not affect your home life.
For me I chose to do that by living in a country with no exposure to my sport. That allowed me to live in relative anonymity and have the private life I wanted when I’m off the clock.

Now if and when I go back on tour to compete once in awhile, it is just to promote my own label. However as soon as possible it should be other athletes on tour that would be competing in my label’s gear or teams in my stable. And then I can go invisible while the employees run the company.

The only way to get really rich is to let go.  Build a proper team of competent and committed executives with a common dream, pay them well enough for them to feel appreciated, manage their welfare and trust them to run the day to day operations of your companies.

I know that not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur. That’s why the failure rate is so high. That’s also why I have a responsibility to create jobs. Those of us that are able to do what we do as business people, have a responsibility to use our abilities  to create opportunities to help other people find a place in the world where they can live with peace of mind.

TBTM #38: “Formed for Function”

As an endurance athlete, I live by Wilkes ratio, my training plan revolves around it as a standard for tracking progress.

As far as funtional capacity goes, I need to have an accurate measure of power and endurance.

In a race I might be carrying between up to 30-50kg in equipment 8km-20km between checkpoints on certain legs. Or typically half my body weight for up to 80-120km per day for 2-4days without sleep.

And as a matter of practical necessity we have to be prepared to carry loads up to twice our body weights for anything from a few hundred metres to a few km, because we might need to evacuate casualties and equipment. In real world experience this meant being 63kg and cradle and fireman carrying an 80kg  casualty over 1km from point of incident to heli medivac point.

In a sport that takes place mostly in the wilderness, we have to be prepared for anything. Helicopters (a.k.a. halos) are amazingly versatile but they need viable access points. Which means almost always having to move a casualty from point of incident to a viable pickup location usually a clearing, or in the case of a cliff or rock face extraction, moving high up enough along the rock face to a point where the tether line can be lowered safety without the halo smashing against the rocks.

Sometimes when people unfamiliar with multidisciplinary race sports tell me I don’t look like an endurance athlete, because in their minds an endurance athlete is a short skinny guy that runs 42.195km in a singlet and shorts, I have to remind them that athletes are built for function. That little dude in their imagination runs for 3 plus hours and carries next to nothing in additional weight on his person.

For Adventure Racing, I’m built to carry twice my weight, and run, climb, swim, bike and paddle upwards of 240 km over 2-4 days with on average a quarter of my body weight strapped to my back or slung around my body for most of that distance.

Now what does a person that can lift twice their bodyweight look like?

Now what does a person that can lift twice their body weight for a quarter mile look like?

Firstly, the basic marathoner dude runs next to naked in terms of load carry and doesn’t use his arms as primary drivers for any part of the race. So of course he is built smaller and less developed in the upper body.

Secondly, the marathoner only runs 42.195 km, while in AR we do at least 5 times that distance and need to use our entire body during a race because we climb, swim and row as well. Hence we need higher capacity for power for efficacy and fibre strand durability. Form for function this means building more muscle mass, more balanced development globally in the upper and lower body and greater bone density. In lay person terms, we are built literally like movie soldiers or comic book super heroes.