How I see the world through travel

My life is unique. It encompasses thousands of moments across the world and with multiple cultures. These moments include: Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, the Aztec ruins of Teotihuacan, visiting relatives in Germany and Italy, the undisturbed wildlife in South Africa and the multicultural wonder that is Singapore. Most importantly, the factor that stands out for me is the people I connected with across the world. We are all unique, yet we are all connected with one another. This was clear during my first days of life in South-East Asia.

 

Indonesia was my first country and with it came my cultural upbringing in mutual respect and generosity. From the time I was born, I remember the locals saying “Apa kabar orang kecil!” or “Hello, Little Man!” as I took strolls with my parents. They always greeted us with a smile and guided us around our new surroundings. Indonesians are a naturally inclusive people. They are hardworking, kind, family oriented, and completely devoted to hospitality. They taught me to be open and ever curious about the world around me, a gift that served me well into adulthood.

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A Familiar Sight

As I learned to walk, they taught me to speak Bahasa, urged me to sing their national anthem, cooked me their favorite dishes (Rendang is still my favorite) and even took me into their houses of worship. I’m still amazed as an adult at the level of trust that they gave my family. My parents also matched that trust.

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Mt. Batur

 

While Indonesia is a welcoming country it is also one of immense poverty. It’s often that medical care, education and even electricity are unattainable for many families. My parents decided to help. By linking cables to our generator for the community around us, our house provided electricity for 15-20 families. It was through this gift that their children had light to study their schoolwork with. In gratitude for our support, the young men promised to protect our home from thieves and kidnappers. What was clear to all involved is the belief that children are what make a community, a conviction that I hold very dearly to this day.

 

As my family left Indonesia for other countries and cultures, being involved in our community was always a high priority. It was through this example that kept me involved in Cub Scouts, Alpha Phi Omega and AmeriCorps. As my parents were unique in their new Indonesian community, they never forgot that they were connected to the village surrounding them. I will continue to carry this lesson for the rest of my life and instill it into my own children.

 

-J

SXSW day 2: Branding for Big Business

On my second day at SXSW I stopped by a social media for big business seminar title “Branding for Big Business”. I thought this talk to be especially worthwhile as my position as a Digital Content Strategist is with a large B2B group. The theme for that day was how a company should interact with its community.

Larger businesses must be both immersed in and customer engaged when involved in new media. To be involved in online engagment is to tailor multiple platforms for client needs. For many B2B (Business to Business) groups, Twitter and LinkedIn are useful methods. Both are suitable in showcasing products, updating public relations events and relaying corporate news.  Another method is the use of Facebook and its analytics system. Although the oldest social media platform, Facebook is also the most actively used across the globe. It is also the most used by the 45-54 year old demographic.

All three represent a comprehensive New Media approach to engaging customers and clients.

The discussion then turned to the use of analytics in order to properly engage an audience. Utilizing methods such as Hootsuite and Google Analytics provide an effective way to analyze customer interest and metrics. Among the most important data to review includes location data, view times and bounce rates in addition to clicks. Recently the merger of TI with Derprosa and the expansion of our Hungarian line has been greatly received in both Europe and North America. This is due in part to geographic authority. When an international company provides news of a region’s success, naturally that areas staff and customers will recirculate the article. As TI gears up for the larger conferences in May and the Fall months, there will be ample opportunity to reach out to all of our regional members.

SXSW Day 1- How to combine new media with big business

I recently had the chance to go to SXSW 2014! It was an amazing feeling, being at the very cutting edge of new technology and research for both products and marketing strategy. Part of this series is dedicated to what I’ve learned over the wild and crazy experience I had in Austin.

The first bit of guidance given by the panelists at the convention was to understand your audience. The one I primarily work with is much older and more in tune with established business practices. The use of social media to drive traffic is a new phenomenon, albeit a cost effective one that expands a company’s reach. Establishing the value of this new medium to the older generation is broken down by the following factors.

The worth of social media and the rate of investment is measured by how many followers a company has. For instance, when initiating this program the number of followers has increased from 500 to 716. This is a roughly 30% climb in viewers. In order to have this number raised even further a company must look to its own culture.

Taghleef Industries is a richly diverse company founded in Dubai. It’s subsidiary organizations include operations in North America, Europe, Egypt, The Arabian Gulf, Australia and China.  The ability to perform as a global company includes the ability to reach across cultures and languages. By combining regions that produce our material and having sales offices in the major financial markets, TI has a formidable presence in the market. There is also another reason behind the success of Taghleef Industries. The primary topic that often comes up is how to be a more sustainable organization. The introduction of bio-resin based products, lighter films and more diverse markets has enhanced our marketability as an organization. Utilizing new technology such as social media and online metrics also assists in potential reduction in paper products. Before I get ahead of myself, diversity and sustainable practices must be embraced by all aspects of an organization. The culture of a company’s founders are to be embraced by all.

In a second conference about utilizing Twitter, the two speakers focused on getting businesses to utilize their best assets, their followers. In digital marketing using followers is a tremendous force multiplier. When a tweet or message is resent via a list of company contacts (clicking the retweet button), those individuals will have that message on their message board. An excellent example is of a sales officer giving a talk at a conference of 400 business people at a convention center. Before walking up to the podium, the salesperson tweets a link to the specific event that is his company is sponsoring. This message is then circulated to over 600,000 individuals online. The number is increased even more when photos and video of this event are posted. When this message is circulated by each of these users, the ROI (rate of investment) increases. The lesson learned is to always think of where company employees are, rather where they are not. Special events, philanthropy, new products, and public relations are all suitable topics with this new communications medium.

Tom Spano and Michale Duggan at #your hashtag is your event
Tom Spano and Michale Duggan at #your hashtag is your event

The Udvar-Hazy Air And Space Museum

Yesterday I had the privilege of walking through the doors of the famed Udvar-Hazy Flight museum. Also known as The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum 2.0, this place is possibly one of the most exciting locations in the DC area. Among the collection is an array of Aircraft, Rockets and Spacecraft that captivates the visitors imagination.It truly is a place for the young and young at heart.

Walking through those doors I was suddenly a kid again. When looking at the map I was immediately taken back to my walks with my German grandfather at the technical museum in Sindsheim,Germany. Together we would point out all of the different aircraft hanging from the rafters, as though they could fly at any moment. I also remembered my American Grandpa Bob and his stories of servicing escort fighters out in the Pacific. Both men made a deep impact on my mind and passion for history. As terrible as the conflict was, it ushered in a new age of science and technological advances.

When walking up to The Focke-Wulf, Heinkels, Messerschmidts, Mustangs, Thunderbolts and Lightnings I remembered the stories of brave ace pilots and the scientific minds that built their machines. The famous Enola Gay, a giant B-29 bomber that dropped the first atom bomb, loomed larger than life. The Space Shuttle Discovery, with its gravitational burn marks, detailed the journey humanity took to reach out beyond its limits. All around me were machines that captured my childhood imagination. I may have spent two hours under the roof but it felt like I was there a lifetime. Don’t miss this amazing place, it is worth it.

Enola Gay Sideways
Enola Gay Sideways

SR-71 Blackbird
SR-71 Blackbird
F-86 Sabre
F-86 Sabre
The Space Shuttle Discovery
The Space Shuttle Discovery
Ohka Kamikaze
Ohka Kamikaze
Wright Flyer
Wright Flyer
The Enola Gay !
The Enola Gay !
Boeing 307
Boeing 307
The Concorde
The Concorde
The Global Voyager
The Global Voyager
A museum for the young and young at heart :)
A museum for the young and young at heart🙂
The world of flight and a lifelong fan :)
The world of flight and a lifelong fan🙂

Compassion In Today’s world

In the last few months I have seen several stories that demonstrate the resolve of the human spirit, in the face of tragedy and evil. When the unexpected happens many chose to think of how to best shape the situation according to their immediate needs. There are also those among us that decide to put others before themselves. The first example everyone is familiar with is the immediate reaction to the horrific events of the Boston Marathon bombing.

This past April, two brothers from a Chechen family swore to lash out at American society through the use of IEDs. Tamerlan, the elder, brainwashed his college-aged brother Dzohokar to commit an act of terrorism at what he perceived as the evil of western society. As they set their bombs and waited for the runners, they could never have foreseen the result of their crime. As the explosions ripped through the crowd and wounded dozens of bystanders, several brave souls responded almost immediately. In the attached video the testimony from Jarrod Clowery, a survivor of the attack best summarizes the publics reaction. http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2013/04/30/bts-clowery-boston-bombing-rescue-efforts.whdh

I remember immediately after this terrible event a friend posted a meme about Mr. Rogers on Facebook. The quote was “When something terrible happens always look for the helpers, they are always there”. This fact was highly reassuring. As I watched the footage play on CNN and other stations, there were individuals that risked their lives in the face of other potential bombs. This reinforces my belief that despite our personal differences and needs as individuals, people will band together. No matter what the circumstances.

An Act of Chivalry

Today I downloaded a new bestseller on my kindle about the Second World War. A Higher Call by Adam Makos and Larry Alexander is an incredible true story of the fraternal bond of warriors across the battle lines. Part of it reads as a war memoir as well as a tale of mutual humanity. In the first few chapters the reader learns about The lives of then 2nd Lt. Charles Brown of West Virginia and Oberleutnant (Senior Lieutenant) Franz Stigler of Bavaria, and how they were forever changed one December day in 1943.

In the course of the story Charles “Charlie” Brown struggles to bring his bomber back from his first mission over the skies of Germany. On his crews attempt to destroy the German war production complex in Bremen, their plane was hit by heavy anti-aircraft fire on their approach. Almost immediately, as they dropped out of formation, they were set upon by 15 enemy fighters. With his tail gunner dead, four wounded and two engines dying, Brown had no choice but to dive below cloud cover.

When he struggled for altitude, he noticed an ME 109 next to his cockpit. The enemy plane had a large kill Talley on its tail, signifying an ace pilot. The veteran enemy ace was Franz Stigler, part of a dwindling number of German pilots from the start of the war. As Brown’s plane flew over the treetops it caught the attention of Stigler, who signaled his crew chief to ready his plane. As he climbed in pursuit he thought of personal glory as he was a few points shy of earning the Knights Cross, Germany’s wartime Medal Of Honor. He also thought of revenge for the death of his brother and fellow pilot August, killed earlier in the war as well as taking down one of the bombers responsible for targeting his home country. As Stigler closed in and peered over his gun sights he noticed the rear gunner of the enemy plane was dead.

Staying his hand from the trigger, he flew beside the American plane. He could see the fuselage peeled away by Flak guns, the machine guns were knocked out and the crew tending to their wounded crew mates stared at his plane in sheer terror. Upon reaching the cockpit, Lt. Brown saw his plane whose eyes were also wide in shock and disbelief. Stigler matched his planes speed and weighed of his options. His need for vengeance and honor would be satisfied upon destroying the bomber. Yet, he also thought of his families ancestry as he was descended from an old knighthood, holding honor above other virtues. He also aspired to become a Catholic priest before the war. The thought of treason entered his mind as a German servicemen who spared the life of an enemy would face execution. He finally remembered his old mentor, Ace pilot Gustav Roedel, telling the then inexperienced Stigler in 1939 that to shoot a defenseless pilot would be murder.

After deciding to spare his enemy, Stigler escorted Brown’s plane. He acted as a shield so his comrades manning Flak guns wouldn’t shoot. When the bomber reached the north sea, he saluted and dove out of sight. The respective pilots kept their silence. Stigler out of fear of being informed upon and executed by the Gestapo. Brown was told by his Wing Commander to stay silent for fear of spreading positive propaganda about the enemy.

After decades the two found one another via an ad for a military aviators gathering. The two met in florida in 1990 and began a friendship that lasted until 2008, when they died months apart from each other. In their respective obituaries they referred to each other as their brother.

This book is an amazing example of wartime endurance and the triumph of the human spirit. It certainly should share book space with Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken. Enjoy it, you certainly will.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/09/living/higher-call-military-chivalry/index.html?hpt=hp_c1

End Of Watch

This past weekend I had time to sit down and see End of Watch, a recently released Police thriller/documentary about Officers that work for the LAPD. Despite it being a Hollywood attempt to glamorize police work through action movies there is also a fair degree of realism in this film.

Unlike Street Kings or Training Day, Director David Ayer decides to do away with the crooked detective motif. Instead the viewer is put in the drivers seat of the average patrolman. We meet Officers Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Pena). Mike, a family man with a newborn daughter, and Brian, A former Marine looking to settle down. The footage is almost entirely shot from go-pro cameras mounted on the dashboard to Brian’s hand held camera. The actors performing the roles have a distinctly fraternal on screen partnership that is both well nuanced and realistic. Together they give an insight into the average day of a police officer ranging from responding to a domestic violence case, saving two children from a burning building, and discovering a house full of illegal immigrants run by a drug cartel. Despite the sub-plot of the two officers being put on a drug hit, the rest of the film is as realistic as it gets.

End Of Watch is an interesting movie that provides insight to the challenges and life that lawmen lead. The hand held approach to the filming leaves it both edgy and spur of the moment.