Eight Things I’ll Be Nerding Out On In 2018

Week one 2018 is a wrap and, naturally, I’ve been thinking about what I’m going to do in the year ahead. Here’s a list of eight things that have been top-of-mind and that I hope to dive deeper into. If you’re also into any of these topics, shoot me a direct message! I’m always looking for like minds to collaborate and nerd out with, both remotely or in person.

1. Performance Cycling

Biking is one of my oldest and favorite pastimes, but since moving to Los Angeles, I’ve had the growing urge to take it to the next level. Following Rapha and seeing their incredibly inspiring and beautiful videos has definitely played a part in that. So I’ve started to (slowly) dip my toes into the world of more serious road biking with clipless pedals and all. I ditched Flywheel to invest in an indoor trainer and Zwift, an online platform for social training. I’m already learning all sorts of new acronyms like FTP (Functional Threshold Power) and ERG (Ergometer). Exciting huh? My hope is to build the foundation and endurance I need to take to the open road outside of Los Angeles in the very near future.

2. Moral Psychology

This curiosity is no doubt inspired by the current political landscape and the widening ideological gap between liberals and conservatives. I recently listened to Jonathan Haidt’s book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided By Politics And Religion. It 100% changed the way I think about things and how I interpret developments we see in the news. It’s like seeing the matrix. All of today’s biggest issues and hottest controversies boil down to the clashing of very fundamental value systems. And they’re getting worse because people don’t actually understand them. This year, I’m interested in deepening my initial understanding of moral psychology and exploring ways to cut through the divisive rhetoric that so many people use as a shortcut (and hindrance) to constructive debate.

3. Aerial Cinematography

Those of you that follow me on Instagram are well aware that I spent a good part of 2017 dabbling in aerial cinematography. For my 30th birthday, I treated myself with the DJI Mavic Pro, a small collapsible drone that can shoot 4K video from up to 400 feet (legally) in the air. Its both tested my fear of heights and piqued my curiosity, inspiring me to expand my interest in photography to motion video. I’ve made very small steps so far, including a video of my coworker on her motorcycle and a cut of Thanksgiving trip to Lone Pine, CA with my brothers. This year, I want to push myself to find unexpected ways to use the drone, perhaps something more abstract or thematic.

4. Lean Qualitative

I’m not exactly a numbers person by nature, but being in a strategy role I’ve learned to understand and love the language. Data is a powerful tool for both identifying new insights and validating existing thoughts and ideas. That all said, I’ve had an itching feeling that the business world is leaning so hard on analytics and big data that it sometimes misses the big picture. Quantitative research excels at answering WHAT, but it’s not always so good at answering WHY. So with that in mind, I’ve become interested in how we can not only bring qualitative back into the mix but find ways to “upgrade” it for today’s more demanding environment. How do we make it cheap, fast and high quality? I want all three. Potential models include tools like Instapanel and Liveminds, as well as those listed on Remote Research.

5. Bicoastal Living & Beyond

This one isn’t exactly new, but it’s an evolving interest. Moving to Los Angeles was always a stepping stone for me, to build a bridge between East and West Coast and plant seeds for possibly becoming a digital nomad. As someone who grew up between cultures, moving (or being noncommittal), is in my DNA, for better or worse. Now I’m not so sure the nomad thing is for me. On the surface it’s enviable, but it comes with sacrifice, particularly the lack of meaningful community and sense of belonging. My interest has shifted towards finding some sort of middle ground, where I can travel when I’d like, but stay rooted and invested in one or two places. The ingredients are still the same as the all-in nomad: passive/time-shifted income streams and flexible living arrangements. In 2018, I’m hoping to make progress in these areas.

6. Conscious Capitalism

Over the years, I’ve become increasingly aware of how my parents’ occupation has influenced the way that I see the work that I myself do. What do my parents do? They plant churches in Taiwan and while they’re deeply educated in theology, their day-to-day is spent building relationships and serving others in the community. As a result of this, my personal bar is set high and I crave real meaning in my work, which can be hit or miss when you work in the advertising business. I do, however, believe that there is a positive impact to be made by building brands and it all rests on the businesses you choose to help succeed. The world’s biggest problems are often solved by for-profit businesses. This year, I’m hoping to crystallize a point-of-view on how us creatives can view our role in a more proactive, positive light. I also want to define the tangible steps that can be taken to deliver on that POV.

7. Editorial Design

Ever since being the editor of my small high school’s newspaper, I’ve been into information and its visual presentation. In college, I even started out as a Graphic Design major. Well, that’s clearly not where I ended up, but it provided me some valuable (though elementary) skills that have helped me as a strategist. That design itch is ever present, but I haven’t been the best at scratching it. I always get overwhelmed by the avenues to explore. But this year, I’ve decided to hone in on editorial design: typography, layout, and interactivity. This is a specific but broad enough area to get creative and it’ll help me present ideas in more exciting ways, at least more exciting than this long, bland blog post!

8. The New World Order

Yes, I saved the most grandiose and possibly terrifying for last. There are some crazy changes happening that will have an enormous impact on what the world looks like in our lifetime. And they seem to be happening faster than I ever would’ve expected. America’s withdrawal from the world system, the rise of Chinese influence, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, cryptocurrencies… it’s becoming a little disorienting and hard to track, especially when these trends start to converge. Every one of these areas is something to nerd out in and of themselves, but I’m particularly curious about how they’ll begin to inform more macro level changes in global society and culture. It’s becoming obvious that 2050 will look very different than 2020. What are the implications on a societal level? What about a personal level? One thing I’m doing is brushing up on my Mandarin.