The journalism grind is real.

This is nothing new, but seeing as the topic has been a recurring theme all day long, so I’d figured I might as well put all of these together.

Firstly, via the Locked on Celtics podcast (21 Jul), by John Karalis and Jay King. These guys are two of my favourite Celtic writers, especially Jay in his early days with CelticsTown.

Little side story: John probably doesn’t remember this, but I reached out to him for advice on Twitter DM back in 2012, when I was starting out.

In his words: “It’s a lot of hard work but if you’re dedicated you will be fine.”

He wasn’t kidding about hard work. I’ve kept his words in mind throughout these years running The Pick and Roll, through all those long nights. Hard work, check. Dedicated, definitely check.

Jay on the other hand, offered some really good advice on what to expect, when I checked in with him prior to my first game under media credentials – always very thankful for that.

Back to the podcast. Jay was talking about how he got to where he is now with MassLive, and ended the tale with some advice:

“… that’s the really lucky story of how I got to where I am now. If you want advice, the only thing I’ll say is work don’t be afraid to write for free, you have to to get your name out there, write for blogs. Just build up your resume and keep working as hard as you can.”

John pretty much agreed, and expanded on the thought.

“I would say the same thing. Nowadays, there is such an advantage… This is a very competitive field, and covering sports has so many similarities to playing sports. Where it’s hyper-competitive, there are limited spots, there are millions of people who want to get those limited spots.

… If you’re listening, trying to start your career in this: Jay is absolutely right. work work work work work work. Do a lot of work. Write. Start a blog. Write for a blog. Ask to join a blog… get paid nothing. Or get paid a little bit – it’s easier when you’re younger, and you don’t know what it’s like to have money, so you can go and piece together a career, by writing for – three hours on one site, and two hours on another site, and three hours on another site. You get your name out there, and you learn. You submit your stuff to editors, they will make corrections, you look at what the corrections are, and then you do it.

… If you can understand that you don’t know everything, then you’re a pretty damn smart person. Because that allows you to take in suggestions, and work those into your professional life and the things that you do on a daily basis, and then you personally will become better, at whatever it is you do.”

Jay rounded it off with this:

“Opportunities are tough, tough tough tough tough in this business, but just keep working until you get it, and prepare yourself for the opportunity.”

Then, from Jalen Rose on the Jalen & Jacoby Show (20 July):

“And you know what gets lost amongst those that become successful? All the sacrifices and discipline that they had to endure, in order to get to that point.

Like people we joke a lot about this show, about us not doing any work, or things of that nature. But you don’t get to this point if you don’t decide to outwork people.”

See a recurring theme here?

I was shown this article later in the day, and Robert Silverman made perfect sense.

There are just too many people out there who love watching games and think that with a bit of luck and a lot of bootstrap-pulling they could become the next Bill Simmons or Zach Lowe or any number of guys who started out as mere bloggers and are now considered leading lights in the industry.

Writing takes discipline. It takes commitment. But even when you check the boxes, it isn’t as easy as that. You need to differentiate yourself by getting ahead of the average writer who doesn’t have a unique voice. You need to get lucky, you need to know people – pick two of three. But before all of that, the basic criteria comes down to this: plain hard work.

And this quote from Matt Moore (love the guy) just hit the spot, right there. Right up my alley.

Moore: Write. Write all the time. The best thing you can do to make yourself better is to write about as many things as possible. It helps with honing what you do, it helps with building an audience, and it helps with figuring what you do well and what you enjoy doing.

Maybe you don’t like doing play breakdowns but you love esoteric discussion. Maybe you’re not crazy about cap talk but you get really into X’s and O’s. And the only way to keep yourself as part of the discussion is to write. When I was supremely frustrated with my inability to get a gig in late 2009 (AFTER ONLY TWO YEARS WRITING!), Tom Ziller gave me some great advice. Quit whining and write. What you’re doing isn’t enough? Write more. Because that’s the only thing you can control.

I’ve always maintained that the only thing you can control in any situation is yourself. You can’t control the opportunities that happen, you can only make the best with what you have, and stay prepared for anything that comes by. What you get is proportional to what you invest – the harder you work, the more you’ll get out of it. Be it an improved voice, consistent writing, or simply an expanded audience, something will fall through.

Basically: never get discouraged. Keep grinding, until something good happens. If you don’t prove your worth, nothing is going to ever happen. Only by consistently proving your value, developing your voice, and expanding your network, do you have a shot at making something happen.

Yes, journalism is a grind. It’s tough to even get your foot in the door, and it takes a crazy amount of effort when you’re actually working. It’s exciting as hell, it’s never boring, and it does sap the life out of you. But if you’re ready to put your money where your mouth is, you do it.

Don’t get envious. Don’t get down. Get even.

 

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Birthdays: keinday 2016

Despite having just returned from a long vacation (technically), I still took the day off. I was pretty sure I could clear work up in time by Friday, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

First off, thanks to Alana and the folks at work for the shared birthday cake – yum.

Onwards to the actual day. Got up as usual, took the kids off to the daycare and did a U-turn back home, sauntering right back into bed. Bliss.

Post-nap: I finally managed to catch up with Andrew, after a seeming eternity – always good hanging loose and just talking about everything and anything.

My plan to meet Jack up for coffee however, fell apart. And so it came to be, that I spent the better part of three hours at Melbourne Central by myself. Sprawled on a couch outside Party World – reading. I was doing a GRR (Great Re-read, borrowed from WoT fandom) on Piers Anthony’s Adept series, and it just felt so good to read, listen to the songs in the background, and take a break, only to realise I could keep on reading. Simple pleasures of life.

Dinner was with Warren, and taking a walk down to Hisense for the Boomers game that night, and heading back home for a cake with the family. Stan’s interstate this year, so it’ll be the first in years that he’ll actually be absent from our annual celebration. It’s interesting to see Keilen actually enjoying this little tradition – the singing and clapping probably gets him a little more excited, and let’s not forget the cake. The kids were absolutely slavering, I learnt yesterday chocolate is their fatal weakness.

Let’s move on to some thoughts on the year, since the last keinday.

Work

You wouldn’t think someone in my field travels a lot, but I managed another overseas trip last year – this time, over to our headquarters at North Carolina. Absolute fun to be able to meet a lot of the guys up close and in person, and huge thanks to Jared for being such a good host throughout the trip.

Outside of that, work hasn’t been too exciting. There’s a slow but definite increase in responsibilities, but that’s basically happening to everyone in the team, so I’m not too fussed.

Final S/O obviously, to the wonderful people at work. From my manager Andy, to the team (Jared, Crystal, Ravi, Tyler), and everyone at the Melbourne office, but special thanks to my mates at the sales team who always make me feel like I’m part of the gang – cheers Mono, Simon, Pete, Greg & Gibbo. Looking forward to many more great days ahead!

The Pick and Roll

Let’s talk about my favourite distraction after work. Relativity and all that applies here – a year feels like three, in PnR metrics.

Compared to twelve months back, I think the biggest visible improvement has been in the strength of the team. We’ve gotten some really good people on board, in no particular order: Alanna, Warren, Luke, Lachy and Matt. Having committed, passionate folks who know their stuff and can handle their own without micro-management, allows us to take another step forward in broadening and improving the quality of our coverage. I’ll elaborate a little here, to give credit where it’s due; it’s things like Alanna and Lachy’s knowledge/commitment on women’s basketball, Warren’s expertise and ceaseless effort in research, interviews and constructing storylines for feature pieces, and Luke’s prolific (almost effortless) writing on multiple areas, and Matt’s solid contribution on the FIBA end of things, that’s made the site take a big step forward.

I’m not forgetting our veterans of course; Jayme’s taken it upon himself to do not only writing, but also video/GIFs and graphics, whilst Winston and Hayley have continued to put forth the consistent effort and quality that’s made these guys so important to AITNBA. Warren’s presence here has given us a different voice; having both news cycle coverage and feature pieces visibly enriches the site’s content.

Our multimedia skills have also grown since last year. Alistar used to be the only one who did video, but we now have multiple folks (Warren, Jayme, myself) who can do video, and Winston’s also picked up the basics of nabbing a GIF. Our video skills in turn, have translated into growth on the YouTube channel. It’s not just our writing, but our videos provide another outlet for people to know us – they are embedded into pieces from other sites (including Basketball Australia for example), that gives us added exposure.

How about Instagram? It was an abandoned project that Darrel started initially, but Hayley’s taken complete ownership and grown it from ground zero. We’re closing in on our thousandth follow this year, and it’s Hayley who’s curated the mix of Aussie hoop snaps and videos (not forgetting hashtagging) that’s allowed us to gain notice.

Obviously, not forgetting Damo and Stevo, who have continued to steer the helm together, our third year running. There’s something to be said about knowing the unquestioned commitment all of us have, and reassurance in the fact that we’re all in this journey together, no matter what. And for that, I’m thankful.

OU left when a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join Fox Sports Australia presented itself. Ironically, I was the one who made the recommendation. His departure scuttled our coverage somewhat, but life is full of choices like that – you can’t be selfish and deny lifechanging moments like these, just because it doesn’t benefit your end of the scale. I’m glad I was able to pull the string and get him onto a dream career, something he’s thoroughly enjoying these days, for obvious reasons.

It’s a blessing that things have gone the way they have. My time this year has been severely curtailed; two working parents with two kids and no help, calls for a lot of juggling and mad scrambling, especially in the mornings and evenings. I’ve honestly only managed to keep doing what I’m doing at PnR without burning out, because I know for a fact that these guys can be counted on.

The past months have cleared my vision considerably too; I came to terms with the talent drain. The end goal is still for us to grow into our own as a legitimate, big-time media organisation, but I now see us also as a springboard to grow budding journalists, and extend our own network that way. It’s also sharpened my desire to only invest time and effort into grooming people who are committed to us in turn.

Enough of this, let’s move on. But I’m excited as always, to see what the next twelve months bring.

Life

Like I’ve mentioned earlier, life is more of a mad scramble these days. I like to think that we’ve adapted our routine decently, the only real downside being a lack of personal time. I do my best not to head out on weekdays, because I know how tough it is getting the kids to bed alone. Basically: things you have to be mindful of, when you’re one half of a team. That’s limited my time to catch up with friends very severely, but I guess it is what it is – this year’s just tough.

V has been a champ throughout, and the kids are well, kids. Elly’s still got her diva/princessy moments, but she’s a trooper most days, just a cheery little beam of sunshine. Lenny on the other hand, is a typical mule-headed wrecking ball most days, and a savant of street smarts sometimes. He hasn’t quite learnt to speak yet, and I’m really curious to find out what his ceiling is, to borrow a term from NBA sports talk.

Holidays

The big three-week “vacation” we had in Singapore, was a masterclass in understanding I didn’t belong in Singapore’s climate anymore. Humidity + heat? No thanks, I’ll pass. Lenny didn’t take things very well either – the poor boy was having a heat rash most days, and would only exist in comfort when an air-conditioned room presented itself.

V and I managed to sneak a sidetrip to Thailand in between. A week of enjoying ourselves as a couple, and forgetting about being parents for a bit. We really needed it. And huge, huge thanks to Marc once more, who’s taken it upon himself to show us so many hidden gems. His hospitality and warmth is undoubtedly the highlight of every Bangkok holiday  I’ve ever had.

The other thing I enjoyed during this trip to Singapore, were the seemingly endless conversations and meetups I had with all the friends who took time out. A big thank you to everyone! I’m obviously not doing the conversations any justice with these one-liners, but here we go.

This includes:

  • Endless suppers with LS, a great pool session, shopping, and what could likely be my biggest achievement in 2016 – successfully taught her to cycle (again). I’m pretty sure she’ll remember it for good this time.
  • My old mate ahlong, where no topic is ever off limits. Just a couple of old geezers having fun over murtabak, and yakking our heads off.
  • the HOTL3 folks: Adri, Andrew, Aloy and CL, YB – so good to see everyone again, kids and all. Especially Aloy, whom I’ve not met in years. Like, many years.
  • ex-Melbourne folks Honda, Benson, Steph, catching up over good food at Bedok 85
  • Kenneth at Yoshinoya for lunch – thank you for coming all the way down!
  • my buddy from the NS days, WJ who’s still valiantly grinding along the road of entrepeneurship, life and romance.
  • Brian, another pal whom I’ve got along with brilliantly since that fateful BBQ in East Coast, love our talks about life in general. He’s just one of those guys I can talk with and not have to worry about words being taken the wrong way.
  • my basketball folks (Alan, ZY, JH, YL, Victor, CL, even JW’s unexpected appearance). It seems like we ended up eating more than we did basketball.
  • Winston of the PnR gang, who got me back down to Chomp Chomp after countless years of absence. And yes, I got the satay I was aiming for a year ago.
  • QL, who managed to squeeze a quick catchup at a void deck, while disembowelling a late lunch of chicken rice, before rushing back home
  • basketball with my man TX, and getting my wedding album at long last!
  • good old “Uncle” Lester, who came by for dinner and even took us to the airport on D-Day. Always nua, but never fails to deliver.
  • breakfast with WY and Pat at their lovely home, along with little Gracie. Thanks for getting breakfast together, and spending the morning with us 🙂
  • sporadic time with NZ, from basketball to the MRT to his place – just getting chats in whenever we can.
  • breakfast as usual with good old Nick – I love this guy.
  • catching up with my 1-Net guys: ZM, Alvin. Thanks for coming over, and especially to “breadpapa” ZM & “breadmama” XX for taking such good care of Elly at your place.
  • potluck at CT+Momo’s place with ZM, XX, Jack, Megane, Alvin. Riot with the kids trying their best to deep six themselves, with me as the only line of defense. Good seeing everyone again, and much thanks to CT/ZM/XX for helping with the kids especially on the way back 🙂
  • my brother and ex-steward now turned master leatherworker Lawrence, who gave some solid nuggets of wisdom on selling.
  • SJ jie, who came down and had so much fun with Elly,
  • LK, the only one of several poly mates who turned up in the end. All the best for the big journey ahead!
  • Bedok 85 (again – I ate there thrice in two weeks) with Erwin, XQ, Meng, ahlong and Nick. So good to see my buddy XQ, and it’s unnerving how quickly he grasps the finer threads of conversation – never doubted the guy’s intelligence, but damn is he a smart bugger.
  • my trusty KTV mates (SC, HY but especially HJ, who came through in the clutch and sang with me twice!)
  • and not forgetting my old RCY mate SP, who hosted us at his house with his wonderful kids.
  • lastly: I’m glad I got to see little QQ! congratulations again to NZ+MS on their third little bundle of joy.
  • Thanks to all the folks who sent us off at the airport too: Lester, ZM, XX, Meng, Nick 🙂 Really appreciate it!

Basketball

Abysmal failure. I’ve played on a few weekends, and twice in Singapore – that’s it. My shooting’s so bad, I could build the Three Little Pigs several mansions and have spare bricks to show for it. My stamina’s not as bad as I thought it’d be though – that’s a plus.

Gym

My crowning glory of 2016, obviously. And I’m really proud of what I’ve accomplished in half a year. I’ve written a crapload of words about this already, shall not go into excessive detail.

I went from 63kg and peaked at 72kg, before my trip. I then proceeded to lose 3kg by exercising minimally, and eating unhealthy, delicious food in an uncontrolled manner. Wait, what? I know right.

Anyway. I’m currently hanging at 69kg, and will slowly work my way back to the grand 70. the goal right now is to gain slow, gain muscle, and not get fat.

Personal

I haven’t been obviously aware of a perspective shift this year, but there’s the one mantra that I keep saying these days: managing expectations.

It’s all about setting expectations right, and making sure people aren’t disappointed/underwhelmed by what you’re promising. Communication is the key, and seriously, this applies to everything in life. The sooner you realise this, the better.

Presents

The brother dug through my wishlist and came up with a DVD box set for How I Met Your Mother, plus Liz Climo’s Lobster is the best medicine. Can’t complain!

Also got a bunch of Esprit T-shirts, courtesy of LS when I was in Singapore. Love my favourite shopper.

Cards

Elly made one at school, a yellow-hued, feathery-fronted creation that showcases an orange/black heart inside – my favourite colours, she says. At least I didn’t get a drawing of myself this time! I’m looking forward to next year’s card already.

And of course, there is the usual card, courtesy of LS. Late but never absent!

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“Yoz!

Was great having you back & around the last couple of weeks. Sorry your birthday card is late again Haha. Didn’t get around to doing it till now (your bday week) Hee! ^^

So glad to have you back! Got back my supper buddy, my swimming companion etc. It’s been a great 2 weeks span! Really had a great time catching up & doing all the various activities including cycling (albeit learning) Lolx.

Hope to see you again soon in Oct!

Counting down till the time comes… Till then Take Care!

Thank You for Always Being There ❤

Have a Blessed & Joyous Bday”

 

WhatsApp

LS: Happy bday to my dearest Fren!!
Hope u gonna have an awesome day ahead^^ 😘

Nick: Happy Birthday Bro ^^ hehe go have a good day (o ̄∇ ̄o)♪

Stan: Happy birthday kor. Hope this year will be better than the last, and that the DSL will continue its streak 🙂

SC: Have a great day ahead my fren. 🎂🎉🍾

Adri: Oh yes happy bdae to my jul babies 😘

Andrew: Happy birthday kein !

PR: Happy birthday, Kein!!! Stay fit and active!

ahlong: Happy 35th.. many happy returns..

NZ: Happy Keinday! Hope you had a good one! Didn’t get to hang out much with y when u were in SG. Sorry abt that.

Bill: Happy birthday brother

HJ: Happy Belated Birthday my fav K-partner!! :)) Hehe sorry this is late, kept meaning to message ytd but missed it still in the end 🙊  Hope you had a great one!

Facebook

Avi: Happy birthday my friend! God bless 🙂

Cousin Noelle: Happy birthday

Jim: Happy Birthday KM! I can’t believe you actually tried to slip this one by me. Like that would ever happen! Keep kickin’ ass and takin’ names Kein! You are the future!

Benny: Happy Birthday Lao Da !!!

Damo: Happy birthday mate!

Nash: Wish you many many happy returns of the day batman. Stay blessed

Lukas: Happy Birthday Kein Chua!

ZM: Happy Bird day Mr Kein

Estee: Happy birthday! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Jack: Happy Birthday!

Dad: 遲来的祝褔,兒子生日快乐,步步高升,心想事成 😙😙

Jas: Happy birthday IT guy!!!! Catch up soon drinks

Allanah: Happy Birthday Kein!

CP: Happy birthday!!

MS: Blessed birthday! Lovely photo!

Mum: 🎂 生口快樂!差点忘了!哈哈哈胡塗的娘

SJ jie: Happy birthday di! Woo hoo~ enjoy yourself!

Mono: Happy Birthday Keino! Have a cracking day 🙂

Kim: hey! your birthday was yesterday right? happy birthday!! 🙂 sorry it’s late!

Slack

Damo: Birthday shout-out to @kein !🎂

Hayley: Happy birthday @kein!!!

Winston: You stealthy sonofagun. Happy birthday boss man 🎉🎉

Warren: Happy birthday!

Thanks to Ravi for the well-wishes over email too 🙂 I didn’t forget you bro!

What’s ahead? I have no bloody idea, but I’m sure everything will turn out fine. After all, I’m the god of DSL (Dog Shit Luck aka 狗屎运) and fortune favours the bold. ONWARDS!