MM Monthly May 2017: Passion, Reality and Struggle

MM Monthly May 2017: Passion, Reality and Struggle

MM Monthly May 2017: Passion, Reality and Struggle


Hope you have been well.

May seems to be a hectic month for everyone. Since I came back from Hong Kong, I have been seeing my Chinese doctor to relieve the discomfort in my throat. By pulse diagnosis my doctor can already tell I have been stressed lately – the energy of the liver is stuck, therefore builds an invisible screen up in your throat, he said.

I told him I had been trying to relax. But with the pressure to organise our talk at Vivid Sydney, I am unwisely not smart enough to relax as if everything will be fine without trying.

Time is ticking and the talk have to reach as many right people as possible. If you wonder how I do it – I can honestly tell you I am searching every single person and business who I think would benefit from the event, on Instagram, everyday; and pitching the event to them, in the hope of a small thankful reply even they couldn’t make it. Not to mention the other parts of the preparation – advertising, event planning and so on. You will be bored if I keep on rambling.

I have never imagined running an event would be so challenging – or even, frustrating. It does make me think, why the hell did I get myself into doing this?

I remember a year ago when I felt defeated, Anett encouraged me not to give up. she said, if you have something that can benefit many others, you will have to share it. It is a mission you were born with. I treasured her words and they lead me a long way.

So what’s in this talk that makes me feel it is something I must do for others?

1. The inspiration from the group of incredibly brilliant, humble minds who never give up their passion

I have heard many times people want to pursue their passion, but often failed to do so because of the reality. But the thing is, the reality is same for us all. The lazy part of our brain craves for security and stability – without trying it wishes success to follow so we can pay bills, become famous, while doing things we love. In fact, under the glossy surface, we never know how much some people sacrifice to pursue their passion, how nervous they are thinking how to pay next month’s rent, and how do they make things work.

Katherine Sabbath was a school teacher before she started practicing her cake making; Nikki To was a political science graduate before she picked up her camera; Clayton Wells (Automata) started with an apprenticeship working in hotels 15 years ago before he started working with Peter Gilmore at Quay.

These guys are role models to remind us that we are all capable of making passion our profession, if we believe it enough and never give it up.

2. The thinking in between the left brain and the right brain

When people ask me how do I come up with the ideas for my sculptures, I often hesitate to say it is through meditation – they’d look at me weird. In fact I meditate for many other things that require visualisation and decision making. But the mind has to be trained in thinking that way. It is something I am passionate to share with others who don’t think I am weird.

On the other hand, it is also the strategic thinking that brings me opportunities. I see it as a foundation that guides me through the work I do – from design to writing, people I approach, decision I make. One cannot live without the strategic thinking to run a one-person band like I do.

Everyone thinks differently and I look forward to learning about the way my fellow speakers think. I had a conversation with my other guest speaker, Emma Joyce, Editor of Time Out Sydney. Her opnions from the editorial/political/creative perspective would be great to hear for people who need media exposure for their creative work and businesses.

3. Skills: self taught VS professionally trained

The other night on a Uber taxi, my drive asked me how can he learn photography if he doesn’t want to pay $6000 a year to learn it in college. Me being myself I told him, just pick up a camera, shoot everywhere and learn from it! – which might not be the right advice.

How did Nikki learn photography – was it another 3 years of study after her political science degree? How many hours did Katherine practice to make her first perfect cake? How does Clayton and his team work behind every beautiful dish we eat at Automata? We will find out at this talk too.

4. Under social media’s glossy surface

This is something I am personally interested in finding out from Katherine and Emma. Katherine has a large following of 380,000 followers on Instagram while Time Out has 109,000 followers on Facebook.

What is life like behind the social media fame? How does it rise and what are the breakthroughs? What are the benefits and the down sides? Does it convert to economy? I am probably going to take over our facilitator, Cam Mackellar, one of my favourite people on Earth and himself a digital strategist for organisations such as the City of Sydney and McKinsey & Company.

5. Food, climate change, humanity

Food waste and plastic bags are the hot topics in town now since the ABC’s War On Waste came out. Besides me talking about raising awareness, I look forward to hear Clayton’s views and what Automata does to reduce food waste and the usage of plastic bags and containers.

Clayton has been part of several social good initiatives, including OzHarvest’s Cooking with a Conscience, working alongside Chef Massimo Bottura, as well as Cook for Syria with Kylie Kwong and some of the best chefs in town.

The other thing we will talk about is that Time Out Sydney has been part of the campaign in supporting rights of Indigenous people in Australia. Something I look forward to hearing from Emma.

5. World Circular Economy Forum in Helsinki

One exciting thing I want to share is the knowledge I am going to learn from the World Circular Economy Forum in Helsinki, where I am heading to next week. I will explain why I am going there, and surely I will bring back resources about circular economy solutions (more than tackling food waste) from the world’s top business leaders, policymakers, researchers and innovators. What Northern Europe does for the environment is at least 10 years ahead of us in Australia.

6. This talk is for everyone who eats, and has a passion

One last thing, I hope you understand that this talk is for all of us who wish to full-heartedly pursue our passion. I believe when we look at things that are outside of our profession, that’s when our brain learns the most. As a graphic designer, I am never inspired by other graphic designers’ work – I look for inspiration in architecture, fashion, art and our wonderful subconscious mind.

I suspect the two hours will be jam-packed with delights that make me drool for the next thing I am inspired to do, hurt my head, make me laugh or tear. I hope we will bring you a one-of-a-kind presentation/panel discussion experience you have ever been before.

The event is on Sunday, June 11. I look forward to seeing you if you have already bought tickets. Tickets can be purchased at Evolving a Tasty Niche. Please enter code ForTheLoveOfFood for your 10% discount. Student ticket and package of 3 tickets offer are also available. 10% of proceeds will be donated to Oxfam Australia.

UPDATE(June 10, 4:00pm): We only have 10 tickets left and I hope you don’t miss it. Get yours before the event sells out:

Your support always means a lot to me. Thank you.

Wishing you a happy and healthy June ahead,


*Above image: Cake design by Katherine Sabbath; Photography by Nikki To.

Posted on at 6:26 am by Danling Xiao.