Brian Tam On Creative Entrepreneurship, Life Outlook And His Forthcoming Book

I first met Brian Tam in Shanghai shortly before or after he had founded his company Let's Make GREAT!. A regular speaker at a variety of community events, Brian is always a wonderful person to listen to or chat with. Leaving his audience inspired he has an uplifting aura of positivity.

So, Selective Attention caught up with Brian to get his take on entrepreneurship journey, life outlook and his forthcoming book.


In your own words could you tell us about Let's Make GREAT!?

We help multinational companies in China develop new products, services and brands from zero.  Most of the time, our client's internal staff are specialized in only one aspect (finance, marketing, manufacturing, etc.), so our team is hired when they need someone to explore new opportunities.  That's our specialty.  We're based in Shanghai and the team is made up of international Chinese, with diverse creative and business backgrounds.

How has your company evolved since you launched it in 2013?

In the beginning, we started with creativity training but soon evolved to include more consulting work.  So our work has moved from the classroom into the field.  Even with these changes, we saw that it was either feast or famine as a service-based business.  China's business cycle has seasonalities (things are very quiet during the winter) and that kind of irregularity affected our cash flow.  After about 2.5 years of this irregularity, we decided to develop products for individual consumers.  That's where PROTO came from.  Its a social card game that we designed to ease people into joys and challenges of entrepreneurship.  We successfully crowdfunded that in 2017 on Kickstarter and have been selling it on our website since then.


You're currently working on a book, can you give us a sneak peek of when we can expect it to be published and what it will be about?

Yeah!  So I know now, I'm an entrepreneur and creativity consultant, but it wasn't always that way.  I studied business and back in the day I preferred the logic systems of excel spreadsheet to the chaos of creativity.  I always chose the safest path: safe university, safe major, safe friends, safe first job... but I was bored and didn't feel challenged enough.  That's what this book is about: choosing creativity.  It's called Awrignawl Creativity and its 65+ visualized reflections (part graphic design and part inspiring principle).  I wanted to capture the key lessons and be able to pass it down to that younger version of me.

What lead you to make the jump from employee to entrepreneur?

The fact that I didn't feel like I fit in, at any job.  There were aspects that I liked, but it was never completely satisfying.  After 7-8 years of trying different things, I wanted a way to combine my skills together in a meaningful way.  I couldn't find a job that did exactly that, so I invented it.  The passing of my best friend also was a key factor.  It made me realize time was limited and working as an employee was basically giving it away.  This really accelerated my desire to find something meaningfully challenging.

What's been the most rewarding part of your journey?

All of it has really been amazing, but the best part or most important part rather, was finding out who I wanted to be.  Entrepreneurship is a kind of self-making process.  Everything is dependent on you: the direction, daily tasks, and deadlines, but also deeper questions like your identity, purpose and value to society.  It's kind of lofty but it has very real-world implications... like how do you introduce yourself to others, to potential clients? or how much is your time worth, really?  So I often say entrepreneurship the modern day spiritual journey; it's where philosophy meets practicality.

How has this aligned personal life philosophy? 

I guess society largely recognizes work and money as the only criteria of success.  But there's also personal growth, intellectual challenge, meaning and happiness, relationships, and family. These factors are just as important if not, even more important to me in the long run.  Unfortunately there isn't much weight given to these factors in the traditional setting. So I'm very thankful to entrepreneurship for forcing me to evaluate these intangibles and to be rewarded in the way that I value.

What advice would you offer to aspiring entrepreneurs based on your six plus years of experience?

Don't wait. Don't wait for the perfect partner, the right idea, or until you have enough savings. The only way to do it is to start small and to keep making progress.  Don't wait. Start as small or cheaply as you can and keep going. Waiting is a reflection of your fear. Trust that you'll figure it out as you go along, and go. 

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Buy my book! Haha, no, just playing. I could talk for days, so I should probably just stop here :)

To find out more about Let’s Make GREAT! check out their website here. You can add Brian on WeChat his ID is tamonline or follow him on Twitter or Instagram @letsmakegreat.

In Conversation With Brøgger Co-founder & Designer Julie Brøgger

Selective Attention caught up with UK based womenswear brand Brøgger to chat with their co-founder and designer Julie Brøgger about how she got started, multicultural design inspirations, the changing definition of luxury and inspiration for tomorrow’s aspiring designers.

Brogger 2.jpeg

Could you tell us a bit about how you got started?

After almost a decade of working for other brands, I had a dream of bringing my own vision to life, but the world never really needs a new fashion brand. I needed that decade of learning and honing my skills before I could circle in on a tangible concept of what I wanted to add to the saturated world of fashion. It started with and is still the main focus, to create a brand that offers women standout pieces that has longevity and desire in equal measures. There is so much talk about about sustainability and the challenges for fashion to live up to any standards in that regard, but to me longevity is where sustainable fashion really excels. I aim to create clothes that will be cherished not only for one season but for many and in a quality that allows that. Like I did from my own mum, the dream is that in the future the Brøgger customer will pass on her Brøgger items to her's. In order to do that people really need to fall in love with the clothes!

From the beginning it has been important to me to be conscious not only about the quality but also the circumstances of manufacturing. Brøgger stays committed to keeping the sourcing and manufacturing within the EU, keeping the supply chain as close to our London base as possible. All our tailoring is made locally in London by specialist manufacturers, and that is a decision based not on pricing vs quality but on supporting what London is best at.


How does being bi-cultural inform Brøgger's design aesthetic?

Danish design and architecture relates to an aesthetic tradition that that builds on functionality and is stripped of unnecessary ornamentation. They beauty is often found in the craftsmanship and an elegant form that seams to be an inevitable consequence of its function. It is a great privilege to grow in a society where design is valued and public buildings are filled with design classics. But it does also create a normative approach to taste that can seem uniform, and London offers a clear juxtaposition to that. London is wilder, colourful and a true melting pot of influences. Working creatively in London taught me the love of florals, colours and that things should be a imperfect, unfinished at times. My favorite London local is an older woman that always wears florals from top to toe, all mixed up and it has nothing to with fashion it is just what she likes. That level of eccentricity is very rare in Scandinavia and exists in abundance in London.

Brogger 3.jpeg

Who is the Brøgger woman?

The Brøgger woman is confident in her choices and want wearability from her clothes but will not compromise on the desirability. She likes to stand out in a crowd and to discover new brands that will add uniqueness to her wardrobe.

Based on your team's design experience, what is today's luxury consumer looking for?

I believe the luxury consumer has changed over that last decade of recession and shift in spending, most luxury consumers focus more on displaying their individual taste and style than their wealth. She doesn't only buy luxury any more but across the categories. It is a consumer that demands much more now than ever before from brands. Shopping smaller independent brands like Brøgger offers that sense of exclusivity and a contrast to the worldwide exposure of big luxury brands, which is attractive to a conscious luxury consumer.

Brogger 4.jpeg

In Asia, the brand is currently stocked in Joyce (Hong Kong), Saisons (Chengdu) and Tom Greyhound (Seoul). Compared to Western markets, what are some key differences in taste or market demand that the team has observed in these cities? What's similar and or different?

The Asian market is of course difficult to describe a one unit, but with the danger of generalization, I think it is a much more explorative luxury consumer than in Europe. One that takes chances with fashion. The before mentioned stores always do very interesting selections. Our bold floral prints can be challenging to some areas of Asia but general we do well across the collection.

Does your team have any advice to offer young designer brands who are interested in expanding their stockists into Asia?

First of all you have to stay true to what your core aesthetic, authenticity is key for a fashion brand in any market.

Be aware that not all shapes and lengths work for an Asian market, so adjust your ranges but always within your brand aesthetic. It is a dangerous path to try to please one market at the price of your identity.

Music Collective Yeti Out On How They Got Started, Their New Fashion Brand And Top Travel Picks

Founded by brothers Arthur and Tom Bray together with Eri Ali, Yeti Out has become one of the best known DJ crews for youth nightlife and fashion marketing activations in Greater China.

What started out as a party-promoting music collective has evolved across several verticals. Selective Attention caught up with the founders to chat about their new clothing brand launch, how they made the crossover into fashion and their favorite spots to visit while traveling for gigs.

Yeti Out.png

Could you tell us a bit about your music collective?

Arthur: Yeti Out was formerly named Yeti in the Basement, a music blog-turned-party series founded in the pre-Instagram era. Eri and I met on Myspace circa 2006. We then lived together during our University years in the UK, and founded a few years later.

Eri: We were going to so many club nights and raves every week, and wanted to document all the madness. Having a blog also meant that we could blag press passes and guestlists – we didn't sleep much back in those days.

Tom: ...We don't sleep much now!

Arthur: Yeti in the Basement then became a party in East London, taking over basements in Dalston and Shoreditch. In 2012, I moved back to Hong Kong and Tom to Shanghai, and we revamped things as Yeti Out. In essence, the Yeti left the sweaty London basement and returned back to Asia - an analogy which reflects our own journey back to China. We wanted to bring the same vibes to these cities, so we continued booking artists and throwing club nights. With Eri in London, Tom in Shanghai and myself in Hong Kong, Yeti Out expanded to become a booking agency, planning EU and US artists' tours around Asia.

Tom: The family also grew. Yeti Out is now a crew of DJs, graphic designers, photographers and editors, with a record label titled Silk Road Sounds and a number of subsidiary club nights: Yeti: Disko, South Canton Soul Train, Mean Gurlz Club and United Airwaves.

You’ve recently launched a brand. How did it happen? What inspires the brand’s designs?

Yeti Out 2.png

Arthur: We've been doing flyers and artwork for so many years, so last year we started a brand as just another medium for us to share our visual identity. Hedonism, self-indulgence, late nights & early mornings are some of the aesthetics of the brand, alongside early 2000 rave flyers and visuals from the dial-up internet era which we grew up on.

Where can we buy the product?

Eri: We release limited piece on our online store and sell collaborations at our parties and pop-ups.

Yeti Out 3.png

Late last year Yeti Out collaborated with Coach for its Shanghai fashion show, launched collaborative product with Under Armour and regularly DJs at fashion events. Could you tell us a bit about how your crew crossed over into the industry?

Arthur: We've always had one foot in fashion, I used to work at Hypebeast and Tom's consulted for Dior and Nike. It's nice to be able to turn our ideas into reality with the help of another brand's expertise and resources.

Tom: For Coach, we connected with British creative director Stuart Vevers over a shared love for The Hacienda, so the rave-inspired capsule felt very natural, while the Under Armour collab stemmed from a Yeti & Friends Boiler Room party we did in Hong Kong.

Eri: We have a lot of friends who also have brands, so really, the fashion week parties are just an excuse for us to catch up and have fun!

Although you guys are based in Shanghai, you regularly travel for gigs. What are some of your favorite shops, restaurants, bars and clubs by city?

Eri: Oil is a sick club, Beam Bangkok too. For food, Supanniga in Bangkok L'Avant and Chicken N Sours in London.

Tom: In Shanghai, my favourite club is ALL, then ArkhamLe Baron and Dada too. For food, i'd recommend Spicy MomentDi Shui Dong (Hunan Cuisine) Old Jesse (O.G. Shanghainese cuisine).

Arthur: My favourite club is still Blackmarket in Manila, because it’s so ratchet. As for dive bars, it's got to be between Cha Cha Lounge in LA or Bridge in Tokyo.  Food: 5th floor curry in Chungking Mansions, Hong Kong. Oh, and Felix in Venice Beach.

In Conversation With YSM8 Supper Club Founder Poonam Dhuffer

Selective Attention caught up with Poonam Dhuffer, the founder of London based supper club YSM8. Since the events look like a lot of fun, we asked Poonam to give the low down on YSM8.


What is YSM8?

YSM8 is a supper club event series all about celebrating vegetarian Punjabi food, curating world sounds, and creating affordable events for an inclusive community.

YSM8 (yes mate!) is my motto when I greet my friends. It's what I say when I eat something that is delicious. It's my way of celebrating life - in an energetic, upbeat and positive way.


How did your personal or professional interests lead you to found a supper club?

I left my full-time job to go freelance as I wanted creative freedom to create something of my own.

I’ve always loved cooking, sharing food and stories with people from a young age. It was quite a natural transition.

What has been the hardest part of starting up YSM8?

I was doing a lot of running around at the beginning, looking at venues. Figuring how the logistics of running events. Sometimes you just have to throw yourself in the deep end and have faith in yourself.

And the most rewarding moment so far?

There have been various moments since starting from people complimenting the food, strangers interacting with each other and my talking to my parents.  There was something really special about the last supper club, I remember my Dad saying in the car home, “YES MATE, you smashed it” I laughed and a few tears rolled down my cheek. “ I couldn’t have done it without you or mum supporting me.”

Also in the middle of one of the events my twin brother had to leave early, he text me saying ‘the buzz was decent”.

Lots of people sent me feedback all via Instagram DM.

At the last event, we donated 50% of the profits to Help Refugees charity. It felt rewarding to be helping others in need.

What kind of individuals show up to the dinners?

It’s a complete mixed bag of young creative females and males, parents, friends of friends, neighbours, people I’ve met through IG.

We welcome everyone to YSM8.

How do people find out about the dinners?

At the moment we have only be hosting breakfast / brunches.

Most people find out through Instagram and word of mouth. Hardly anyone connects with me through FB or Twitter.

What are your plans for 2019?

I would love to do collaborations with brands, small business and agencies who align with values and believe in the power of inclusive communities. There will always be a charitable element to our events.

Thanks For Reading Selective Attention In 2018!

Wow, I’ve stuck with the blog this year and it feels great! Thanks for reading what I have been randomly writing.

If you’re enjoying Selective Attention I have a major ask! If you like what you’re reading or just want to help hype me out of the kindness of your heart ;) and could help share this digital publication with your network on social that would be amazing. So far it’s been really cool to see which geographies I’ve reached on Google Analytics. Who knew a girl from suburban Michigan would be doing this?

Screen Shot 2018-12-23 at 12.52.56 AM.png

Over the last year I've reached more than 1,600 readers - who are you?? Leave me some comments. Super curious how you found me.

Also interesting to see the demographic breakdown. For a while the readership leaned towards male. Guess I have mannish interests. Ha.

Screen Shot 2018-12-23 at 12.58.32 AM.png

Next year it would be great to grow the readership by x10.

I should be focusing on deep dives across fashion, lifestyle, culture and tech, monthly global events, original interviews, meditating on greater thinkers, explorations of novel concepts, happenings and hopefully tested reviews of things. Beyond that I have 0% of my content plan done. :/

If you have anything you’d like to read about please leave me a line! I usually try to crowd source inspiration because writing is basically like having a long conversation with yourself, which can be fun but sort of lonely if you do it for your day job, freelance work and also in your free time too. Jeez, no wonder I can’t stop myself from being way too friendly lately and asking everyone what’s the goss(ip)?!?

Thanks for enjoying all this wonderful awkwardness.

Getting To Know Sara Radin

One of the perks of working at a trend forecasting company is the brilliant people you’re surrounded by. Everyone tends to be open minded and falls across the spectrum of innovator to early adopter. With their quick minds and wide variety of interests conversations are never a bore. 

Sara Radin is one such person. We first met through work when she joined WGSN as a travel associate editor before she applied for an internal promotion to become a youth editor. I always enjoyed reading her reports. But, as bright lights go they tend wander off to better pastures when the time is right.

Having left the company in the spring, I see her updates on Instagram and find she is going for her dreams which is inspiring. It's easy to go for the adulthood realm of shoulds but instead she has opted for could. 

Sara Radin photographed by  Lauren Tepfer

Sara Radin photographed by Lauren Tepfer

Now working as a freelance writer covering culture, youth, mental health and identity she also speaks at events and organizes her own, one of which was featured in The New York Times. Keep reading below for her personal reflections on her career and life.

Can you walk us through how your personal interest, personality, education and work experience led you to writing?

I never really considered or planned for a career in writing. I like to think writing found me. Sometimes I even wonder if I really am a writer? Maybe that sounds ridiculous or perhaps it's my impostor syndrome, but I guess it's really more about storytelling for me. This is just a channel that allows me to be me. It's a way for me to tell my own stories, and use my voice to lift up other people's stories too.

When I was younger I struggled to pick a creative medium that would allow me to explore all of my different interests. I went to school for art and design, but realized I wasn't an artist, maker or designer. At the same time, I was full of ideas and fascinated by the world around me. I'm an Aquarius and I live with chronic anxiety, so I'm innately an incredibly curious person who has to know the WHY behind everything. Whenever I can't sleep, I like to spend hours on Wikipedia reading up on random topics (mainly the career trajectories of different celebrities or historical movements). But for a long time, I didn't know how to translate a creative mindset and the desire to ask questions and find answers into an actual career.

I wound up working in the fashion industry when I first graduated college, doing concept design and trend forecasting for Converse, the footwear company. Once I left that job, I decided I wanted to share some of the art that was inspiring me, so I launched a personal blog back in 2015. I desperately needed a space to learn about the things inspiring me. So, I started interviewing artists and designers, and also began reflecting on my own creative process through blogging. From there I eventually started writing for some publications (mainly for free!), and then ultimately landed a job at WGSN as the Youth Culture Editor. Over time, I realized that writing really suited me in a lot of different ways, and got more serious about it in the last year or so. I went freelance full-time in April. It's been a challenging but amazing experience. I'm still really figuring things out, but I love waking up everyday knowing that I am able to turn my diverse interests into shareable and monetizable content.

How did you decide to focus on culture, youth, mental health and identity?

I've always been interested in how culture is shifting, and I think the youth are more often than not the people who are really pushing it forward. As someone who learned they were living with mental illness fairly recently, I try to use my voice to challenge some of the stigma around it. Writing about this topic and approaching it in different ways has helped me heal, and it is my hope that sharing my experiences and learnings can also help other people heal too.

What are the positives and negatives are being a freelance writer?

I love how much freedom I have to create my own schedule and pitch all of my own ideas. When I first went freelance I was worried I would feel alone, but I've actually found a lot of community. There are some amazing resources out there for freelance writers - like Facebook groups and newsletters that share opportunities and contacts. Managing the financial aspect of this lifestyle has been hard, though! I mean, I'm basically running my own company. I'm my own HR person, finance department, CEO, marketing team and so on. Figuring it out as I go, and staying patient though!

You've managed write for several well-known publications since going freelance, can you tell us how that happened?

There isn’t a simple or straight-forward answer to this question. Honestly I think it’s been due (very luckily) to a lot of different things… In the last few months, I’ve been honing my pitching and writing skills, and also discovering the work of some amazing creatives who use their platforms to discuss critical, intersectional issues. Connecting the dots to help these individuals get their stories out there in a larger way has become my mission, and I’ve grown more fearless in my pursuit of this type of work. This is my calling.

Beyond this, I’ve been finding creative ways to track down editors’ email addresses, cold pitching them, as well as connecting with other writers, who have graciously taught me everything they know about the freelance pitching and writing process. Finding community and believing in yourself are so necessary to following this type of alternative path.

You also organize events, could you let us know how those happened?

In the past, I was organizing events every month but I recently have been slowing down on this to focus more on my writing. I think both are a way of fostering community. Planning events can be physically and emotionally draining, so taking this break has been really nice.

What's your favorite part of organizing events?

Giving people a platform to share their own experiences. Bringing people together to help them feel less alone.

Do you have any upcoming ones planned?

Not right now but I have something in mind for next year!

What is your advice for aspiring creatives?

I think often the hardest step in doing anything is starting somewhere, so try and start with what you know. 

You're very open about your personal struggles on Instagram, as a mental health advocate why is this important for you?

I try to be vulnerable and open about my life as much as I can, on and offline because I'd love to see more people doing that on the platform and in real life. I'm tired of seeing overly-filtered posts and content on Instagram. It's an amazing tool for connecting people, and I believe showing our full spectrum of emotions and experiences could help us foster more empathy.

What are some of your favorite places in New York?

MoMA PS 1, The Wing (my co-working space), and recently any place that sells oat milk lattes.

Interested in reading Sara’s work? Follow her on Instagram or check out her website here.

Content Evolution

It’s always awkward starting something new. So far this blog has had a decent, but not great freshman year. After getting the hang of things though I’ve finally decided on a more structured approach to writing so the tagline has changed from:

A creative learning exercise exploring my professional interests and personal thoughts through content creation with the aim of providing useful, thought provoking content for you, the audience.


A creative exploration of the forefront of fashion, culture, lifestyle & tech from a macro meets micro global perspective.

So soon this post will serve as a little scroll break between the adolescent version of the blog to a transition to early adulthood content. Still need to brainstorm the details but I’ll approach as more of a formal publication for my writing flairrrr.

How To Rise In Your Career

If I were to create a map of the year of the amount of posts I was writing versus my day job work load the two would probably indicate an inverse correlation trend. Basically what I’m saying is I’ve been working quite a bit so I haven’t written much but I’m trying to redevelop the discipline I had in my younger years to do all the things I set out to do! Like writing more.

Today’s post is short and sweet - a collection of videos from a book a colleague recently lent me called How Women Rise. I wouldn’t say the tips are necessarily gender specific as they might apply to anyone depending on your seniority, industry or if you work in a work place culture where you are a bit foreign or an anomaly you might be hitting some of these roadblocks. If you don’t have time for the book check out the videos below!

In Conversation With Market Researcher Lee Abbas

Based in New York City, Lee Abbas is the Managing Director at Kadence International, a marketing insight agency with offices in the USA, UK, India, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam and China. Keep reading below for Lee's inspiring insights about market research, US market trends to watch and her favorite NYC restaurants. 

Lee Abbas.jpg

You've had an interesting career path, can you walk us through it?  

I started my career in marketing launching new digital technologies into the U.S. market for Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company. This set the tone for the rest of my career as I fell in love with new technology and new digital platforms and how consumer insights shaped the efforts of good marketing.

I made the transition to Ad Agency side through an OgilvyOne YouTube competition called “Search for the World’s Greatest Salesperson.” I was one of three finalist that were chosen to speak at the Cannes Lions Festival. I have spent nearly a decade helping consumer financial brands like American Express, Bank of America, and Citibank develop there acquisition campaigns and strategies.

Now, I have taken my passion for consumer insights one step further as I take on the role of Managing Director to launch Kadence International’s New York office. Kadence is an award winning global boutique marketing research firm that has 10 hubs around the world, mostly positioned in key markets in Asia.

Could you tell us about what your current role as a Managing Director entails?  

Launching Kadence | New York is a one of a kind role that I am very excited to be a part of. The founder of our parent company, Cross Marketing Group, started his company as a start-up, so this is part of our corporate DNA. I have the opportunity to create from scratch a new strategic hub for Kadence International in the city I love - at the cross roads of the world’s culture, data, and innovation. Kadence is a very well-known and well-respected brand throughout our global hubs, and now I get to build that same level of prestige here in New York.

What's your favorite part of working in market research? 

I learned early on in my career the importance understanding your consumers. I moved up very rapidly on the corporate ladder not just because I understood tech and digital, but because I was able to relate the features and specs to real consumer benefits. Now in market research, I get to focus on the aspect of my past positions that I loved the most, and had the most passion for - consumer insights.

What trends are happening in the US that market researchers should be watching?

We are moving beyond big data. Brands have figured out that data without meaning is a waste of time, and there is nothing worse that wasting time in the world of business. In order to be valuable to your clients, you need to be able cut through the waste and focus on the insights that are going to help their business grow. That is why at Kadence we stand behind our mantra of “Insight Worth Sharing.” We not only connect the dots for our clients, but we tell the story behind the data in a visual format that helps it spread throughout their organization and ultimately ignite action.

How has being an English major helped you in your career?

My favorite period of literature is the Victorian era - which really launched the format of the novel into popular culture. What novels have done, and continue to do, is tap into the natural human instinct to share our experiences in story form. Storytelling not only helps convey valuable information, but it is a format that intrinsically lends itself to being memorable and shareable. In my English studies, I studied storytelling formats from around the world, including East Asia, Europe, and in the Americas. I like to think that it is my ability to weave a story, make it memorable, relatable and most importantly entertaining is one of the reasons that I have been successful in my career. 

You're currently based in New York City, what are some of your favorite places to go? 

One of the best things about NYC is that you can get great food at every price point, and from nearly every country. Around the corner from my office (which is located at the heart of the financial district in downtown NY), is Delmonico’s which is one of Manhattan’s oldest restaurants. It’s famous for it’s steak and very well worth the high price tag. K-town has fond memories for me as I grew up near there, hanging around my parent’s store when I was young - any place on 32nd street between Broadway and 5th Ave is a guaranteed good meal. But growing up, my family always hit HanBat on 35th street - good traditional cooking with very reasonable prices. But everywhere I travel, I am most enticed by everyday street food. The growing popularity of “Halal Carts” has made the availability of tastes from the Middle East a New York staple! If you want to take it off the street and have some authentic Shawarma sandwiches though, go to Mamoun’s - inexpensive, flavorful, and surrounded by the heartbeat of the village (there is one at both East Village and West Village).

To get in touch with Lee find her on LinkedIn

In Conversation With Market Researcher Kushal Arora

Based in Mumbai, India Kushal Arora works as a Senior Manager of Knowledge and Marketing at social media intelligence company Germin8. Kushal shared a bit about his current role, trends in his market and what skills are needed to excel in the field.


Could you tell us about your current role? 

In my current role, I overlook customer success managers who've been assigned to enterprise level customers. They are the caretakers of those brands' online reputation management and any campaign or crisis monitoring and reporting. I tend to supervise them and ideate ways to help them deliver client expectations. I also take care of any ad-hoc social media research projects and digital audits, wherein we help assess the effectiveness of brand owned social media properties.

What's your favorite part of working in market research?

Every new digital research project forces to learn new things, about a previously unknown or not-that-well-known service or product category. This way, each project is new in itself which thus makes it exciting for me.

What trends are happening in India that you feel market researchers should be watching?

The trend about actual relevant and comprehensive conversations happening outside mainstream social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. For instance, forums, blogs, even YouTube has a lot better content to study and analyse as opposed to conventional chatter on Twitter and Facebook which is too shallow for the most part.

What kind of education, skills or research methodologies do you feel are essential for entering and progressing in this field?

Research methodologies can be learnt while being on-the-job. However, command over language, ability to grasp people's intentions through their online writings, attention to detail, willingness to learn and ability to think from a 100-1000 level view is what, in my opinion, are essential to people entering social media research field. 

Do you have any books, sites or classes you've taken that you'd recommend for aspiring market research professionals?

I don't have a specific book or a course to recommend. Most of what I've learnt is while being on the job or having read blogs, news articles or LinkedIn posts.

To get in touch with Kushal find him on LinkedIn

In Conversation With Market Researcher Eric Msombo Wa Msombo

Based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eric Msombo Wa Msombo is a Field Manager for Sagaci Research a full service market research firm focusing on market intelligence for the continent of Africa. Eric shared a bit about his role, his favorite part of his job and what changes researchers should be watching for in the DRC. 


You are currently a Field Manager at Sagaci Research, could you tell us a bit about what the role entails? 

As Field Manger in a research firm I do the following:

1. Recruitment of agents according to the nature of project

2. Training of agents

3. Logistics of movement of agents in the country or region

4. Field monitoring

5 . I'm in the field everyday for control of data collection so we can have quality data for clients

6. As a Field Manager I'm assisted by team coordinators who supervise 4 agents in a project, we can have four to five teams it's depend on the nature of study.

7. Finance and administrative tasks during the field study, for example - apply for legal documents, contact local administration and brief them about research.

What's your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part is when the project is closed without incidences as my field regions is Bukavu and Goma, they are war-zone in the Democratic Republic of the Congo due to minerals. I'm happy when analysis is done and the client is happy with the outcome.

How has being trilingual helped you with your market research career?

It's an advantage because more clients are English speaker so I don't have a problem writing my reports, for oral communication it's an asset for me and helps me keep my job. In addition I can speak four mothers tongues and ear 14 of them as the the Democratic Republic of the Congo has 455 tribes.

What trends are happening in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that you feel market researchers should be watching?

For now DRC is recovering, if we will observe transition of power after election this year end DRC will be huge for market intelligence for manufacturers and or investors. As a researcher I do understand that we have to influence changes on regulatory to give development room. 

Do you have any books, sites or classes you've taken that you'd recommend for aspiring market research professionals?

Qualtrics, What is a survey

To get in touch with Eric find him on LinkedIn

In Conversation With Market Researcher Mireya Arteaga

Based in California's San Jose city but working in San Francisco, Mireya Arteaga is a freelance research profession who is currently Research Director for Magna Global. Having joined the company in January, Mireya mentioned she is loving her role.

Having spoken at a conference recently she kindly shared her bio which provides a great overview of her work experience. 


"Mireya is a research director at Magna Global where she tests the effectiveness of new advertising products and strategies to help marketers make better media buying decisions. She has extensive experience running both domestic and international research studies related to Virtual Reality, Connected TV (CTV), advertising best practices, and brand engagement. Mireya has worked with Verto Analytics, Nielsen, Kantar Millward Brown, YuMe, Ipsos, Isobar, and Interpret, LLC. She holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from UC Santa Cruz."

Keep reading below for her input about her career, work day, industry trends she watching and her favorite places in San Francisco.

Could you tell us a bit about your career? How did you transition to market research?

I was a freelance data analyst for about a decade prior to managing research studies. I worked in a variety of industries which included financial, gaming and bioscience. About three years ago I applied for a job to work in research management and it was love at first sight. I was mentored by Paul Neto, (now VP at Milward Brown in Canada), and when he left our company I was given opportunity to manage the research department. It was a difficult transition as I was the only employee in the department, but I had the support of other teams as well. It was a steep learning curve and I loved every challenge. This year, had the great fortune to transition to freelance work again and land a position managing research studies at Magna. Working with a team on an international scale every day is exciting. I have found my niche in life and I intend to work in research for the rest of my career.

What's a day in the life or week of your current career like?

I love this! Every day falls into the following tasks:

1. Morning:

1. Project management: This is the bulk of any researcher’s day. Every morning I go through each study and review where we are and where I want to be by EOD. I review timelines, read and respond to emails, negotiate pricing, track down deliverables. Although this continues throughout the day, mornings are where I get reorganized and set the goals for the day through listing tasks by urgency.

2. Mid-morning to afternoon:

1. Meetings: Both internal and external meetings to manage workflow and set expectations on deliverables. The team I am on works as a group for all studies, so we are all expected to manage our own studies but can rely on everyone on the team to pitch in when times are tight.

3. Afternoon to EOD:

1. Study design, data work: This is the time of day when I usually sit down and perform the more hands on part of my job. If a study is underway, I work on pulling data for a storyline. If a study is about to launch, I spend hours reviewing test cell design with our SVP. If we are in the midst of creating a new study, sometimes I just sit and think and write notes on a scratch pad or chat with a team member. That time to sit with the idea and think of what we are really trying to say is invaluable. The execution is much faster if the idea is fully formed before any study design is undertaken. I try to follow the measure twice, cut once edict.

4. EOD:

1. Review of day: At the end of the day I review what is outstanding and clean up my notes for the day. Often I will send out final emails and send a request for review if I feel the task needs a new set of eyes.

Industry wise, what trends are currently happening in your sector that you find interesting?

Voice assistants like the Amazon Echo and Google Home are carving out exciting new entertainment categories, such as voice response games via the Echo. With this new media comes a brand new type of consumer interface. We are witnessing the dawn of a new means of communication and entertainment and I am looking forward to seeing how research companies respond to this new touchpoint.

You're currently work in San Francisco, what are some of your favorite places to go? 

Finding good cafes is my number one life goal outside of research and reading books. I love Atlas Cafe in the Mission [district] for good salads (beet especially), and Craftsman and Wolves for pastries. I live in San Jose so anywhere on the way to SF is fair game. Cafe Barrone in Menlo Park is my all-time favorite place for excellent chicken salad and huge carrot cake slices. Top it off with a visit to Kepler’s Books and I am set!

To get in touch with Mireya find her on LinkedIn

In Conversation With Market Researcher Arun Upadhyay

Arun Upadhyay currently holds an Executive Business Operations role at Kantar Millward Brown. Based in Mumbai, India he has experience in healthcare research and project management covering the EU and APAC.


Keep reading below for his insights around entering the industry, developing expertise and current market research trends in India.

What kind of education, skills or research methodologies do you feel are essential for entering and progressing in this field?

I believe a bachelors and or graduate degree works here the best (in science, sociology, psychology, mathematics or marketing etc). But nowadays, a great importance is given to masters or post graduate programmes like MBA, business analytics etc.

To start working in this industry a person should at least be aware of the methodologies quant/qual [quantitate / qualitative].

You are currently in an Executive Business Operations role at Kantar Millward Brown, could you tell us about how that happened and what sort of work it entails?

Kantar is a global brand to work with and I was always keen to join Millward Brown as the work done here is more interesting which focuses more on catering to the end clients rather than helping the MR [market research] agencies to collect data. I deal in handling field operations and client servicing. Say, coordination among all the stakeholders involved in the projects.

What trends are happening in India that you feel market researchers should be watching?

We cannot miss the digital world and this is taking over all other methodologies of collecting data. Though this is bit limited to qualitative methodologies. But that being said qualitative can always be more efficient if it remains to its original format. (Communication among the moderators and respondents is more effective here).

I believe data authenticity plays a very important role and thus researchers should see that it is coming from a right source and has been validated and is correct before processing it and presenting the insights to clients.

Again, I believe storytelling nowadays is gaining importance to get the insights from the consumers. Storytelling to collect feedback helps the researchers to keep the survey respondents engaged throughout and get a better responses over a period of time.

Do you have any books, sites or classes you've taken that you'd recommend for aspiring market research professionals?

I have enrolled myself to some of the LinkedIn Learning programmes. This is easily available on LinkedIn.

Below are some that can be reviewed:

Intuit, QuickBooks: 5 Resources to Conduct Market Research 

Government of Canada, Guide to Market Research and Analysis




To get in touch with Arun find him on LinkedIn.

In Conversation With Market Researcher Corey Hammer, Ph.D.

Selective Attention's summer content series of conversations with market researchers is officially launching! Our first interview comes from Corey Hammer, Ph.D. who works in Illinois' Greater Chicago area. 

As the Principal of Talisman Insights Corey is a seasoned researcher who holds a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology with a focus on Social Cognition from Chicago's DePaul University. He is also a Burke trained moderator. Keep reading below to hear what he had to say about his career, how his academic background informs his research and what industry trends are on his radar.


Could you tell us a bit about your career? 

Sure. I started my career conducting product development research with consumers for Sanford Corporation. From there I progressed to pharmaceuticals and proprietary education (Career Education Corporation). I happened to find a great mentor about 2 years into my stint at CEC and from there began to take on progressively more responsibilities till I was the Head of Insights and Analytics for the Career Schools Business Unit. When CEC decided to shut down the Career Schools Unit, I took that opportunity to open my own consultancy as a sole proprietor, Talisman Insights. I work with a gamut of companies across education, healthcare, lifestyle services, hospitality, durable goods, and others doing qualitative and quantitative work.

How did you decide to focus on market research? 

It came down to logistics. My true heart is in academia-uncovering the mechanisms by which humans move through the world, making decisions and judgments-understanding how and why people tick. However, family trumped that and so I entered a more applied space where I could still develop an understanding of people but targeted towards helping businesses make better strategic choices.

You hold a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology, how does this inform your research perspective? 

It comes down to two main components: an understanding of the basic processes that underlay human decision making; and, a focus on the voice of the consumer/customer. 90% of research is about asking the right questions and I help my clients develop the right questions to ask. If you’re asking those, then answers aren’t too far away. Everything I do is custom to my client and making sure her/his specific questions get answered in a way that helps them achieve better understanding.

What industry trends are you currently excited about? 

Online qualitative. Working with dscout and Focusvision’s Revelations products are amazing. You can obtain so much better engagement and involvement from your qualitative participants as well as such rich information that (for some qualitative projects) you simply cannot get in tradition research (due to time or cost of doing so).

On the flip side, I’m a little worried about the rise of machine learning, DIY, and AI tools. As an entrepreneur, I don’t have the financial or technical capacity to field “New MR” in the IT space, but that said, I also worry about businesses who think such measures are sufficient to understanding. Don’t get me wrong, they’re great tools but it’s another leg in the stool. In many cases, these solutions cannot tap into a broader audience; only the audience you currently have. For that, you still need insights from custom solutions and that’s where I come in.

To get in touch with Corey check out Talisman Insights or find him on LinkedIn.

In Conversation With Tim Stock

Tim Stock is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of scenarioDNA, a New York City based foresight consultancy that focuses on global innovations. I came across his work through a LinkedIn group where he had been kind enough to share a presentation deck that was fascinating.

Stock also works as an Assistant Professor teaching trend forecasting and innovation at Parsons' The New School making him a wonderful industry insider to learn from. Here are his insightful gems of knowledge.


Could you tell us about how you established yourself in field of foresight?

It was an evolutionary process. I have always had a bit of a hybrid in skill set. By nature, as a musician, I have always seen things in patterns. Training in semiotics and cultural theory, compounded by the application of technology contributed to the bigger picture of establishing a context for trends. I have seen companies cycle through the last few decades from brand strategy to digital and mobile strategies to more recent obsessions around data science. My skills have converged to answer emerging issues that companies are seeking to solve. Having a framework for context is invaluable when conducting ethnographies across global markets. If you can read culture you can read how the future is unfolding.

In laymen's terms, what is culture mapping?

In laymen’s terms, it is a galaxy map of how people are thinking. We are simply organizing words like stars on a grid. The mapping reveals constellations. Those constellations are clusters of ideology. We use natural language processing and computational linguistics to map the words and quantify their interrelationships.. That data science helps make the picture of ideologies clearer. We developed this method to visualize patterns and chart trends as they emerge. It allows us to find important cultural signals earlier and use machine learning to augment that analysis so we can find patterns missed in traditional analysis. We received a utility patent for this method in 2015.


scenarioDNA also hosts culture mapping workshops, what kinds of professionals should attend?

The main attendees of our workshops are coming from brands. They are typically trying to understand how to leverage culture better. They are flooded by trendspotting and want to make better sense of things. They get excited when they decode and apply the underlying meaning of trends. It helps them innovate. 

You can find the Mapping Culture e-book here and scenarioDNA's trend reports here. Company and university culture mapping workshops can be arranged by email culturemapping(at) while a workshop is coming up on September 10 in London.

In Conversation With Yanie Yanson

I recently had the pleasure to run into Yanie Yanson at a special perfumery class taught at Shanghai's Condé Nast Center of Fashion & Design by Givaudan.

We first met several years ago when she was still working at an agency and side hustling her blog. As a female entrepreneur who I had previously interviewed for work, I was extremely curious to see where her professional life was taking her a year on. Keep reading below for Yanie's inspiring words of wisdom. 

Yanie 4.jpeg

Can you briefly walk us through your career story?

I started off as a fashion intern in New York for a Korean American fashion designer who was dressing stars like Julia Roberts and Madonna. I received a scholarship by my university at the time, which helped me travel to Milan and France in addition to NYC. Following on from this, I completed a masters in fashion, it gave me an educational opportunity to travel between Shanghai and Paris. 

Because of the business scholarship, I was supported to attend Parsons or FIT to study fashion or design, so found my own way to enter the industry.

It wasn’t until I got to Shanghai that I was recognised as an influencer with significant monetisation. I worked with brands that had larger budgets and it went on from there. Back in my day influencer wasn’t a mature term or career path, it was just a fun hobby.

How were you able to successfully establish your agency Pompom?

Pompom rebranded only several months ago, and now it is a boutique creative agency of eight people. I strongly believe everyone in Shanghai can do PR as it is based on execution but a creative agency is about thinking creatively and strategically. We try to see more of a visionary, see what the fashion and cultural trends are expecting from advertising, videos and editorials. We created Pompom to help clients amplify their brand’s image and now 95% of the brands we work with are international brands. 

Yanie 2.jpeg

What experience based advice can you offer aspiring entrepreneurs who are interested in starting their own agency or becoming an influencer?

It has to come within, it has to be an intrinsic passion not an external interest. You have to ask yourself if you would be a blogger even if the money was not much? Would you do this for fun? Often you will have bad months when there are no gigs, but you have to believe in yourself and focus on what sets you apart from the other bloggers. 

Being a female entrepreneur in this industry in Shanghai at this current moment is invigorating as we are celebrating feminism and all thing women empowerment. I feel very lucky to be a woman and working as an entrepreneur today.

You have to identify your niche in the market and think of innovative ways to use that as your strength. A year and half ago we created a localised adapted campaign for one of our clients where we invited and managed over 75 KOLs and celebrities to participate at this super brand day resulting in 35% increase in sales on Tmall. This is an example of the KOL campaign pushes we specialise in.


In terms of China marketing, what trends are currently on your radar that you feel brands should be watching?

One of them is KOLs, which are divided into three different tiers and much more fragmented than before. Red (Xiao Hong Shu) and Douyin are two of the hottest platforms for brands to watch out for. Red has over 70 million users and Douyin has around 100 million users and fans registered on the app.

Another factor for brands to bear in mind is localised content, this is very important in China. We offer brands a service to support them in localised content campaigns whether it is an H5 campaign or aimed at Dragon Boat, 11/11 or 5/20 festivals etc. 

How has blogging in China evolved since you started your platform?

Blogging has really evolved since I started my platform, people are doing such crazy things now from using drones to high tech make-up. The industry has changed a lot, photography was essential seven years ago but now it’s about movies, film, qualitative live streaming etc..

What's your trick for staying relevant as an agency and influencer?

As an agency I have seen that if you produce good stuff, you get paid well and you have a great reputation in the industry. If you do good work, people will notice this and the message will spread.

As an influencer, it is important for you to stay with the trends, to adapt and stay relevant to your audience. For example, the Marginalist is going under a little reconstruction, I am changing it back to the original name which was Yanie Yanson, my fans are more aware of my name and found it hard to recognise the Marginalist. I actively take feedback from my fans, to constantly improve myself and my brand and make it more personable.

Not sure if you know this but I my hair has had a few drastic changes over the years from being very long once upon a time to very short and fuchsia which expresses how my style has changed. My clients have also evolved with my style, it is important to always stay true to yourself and your style. 

Yanie 2.jpg

Are You A Mechanic, Discover Or Strategist Market Researcher?

I've been poking my nose rather uncomfortably in the big world of market research and although this article was published quite awhile ago I thought the archetypes of mechanic, discoverer and strategist were useful both for understanding oneself and those around us in terms of research personalities. 

Continuing Education Resources: MindTools & Skills You Need

Last year when I was reading up on PESTLE I stumbled across this website MindTools which has an exhaustive list of frameworks you can learn about under leadership, team management, strategy, problem solving, decision making, project management, time management, stress management, communication, creativity, learning and career skills.

I recently also found Skills You Need which covers personal, interpersonal, leadership, learning, presentation, writing, numeracy and parenting skills. 

Both have free and paid content and are nice resources to check out to help you with your continuing education. 

In Conversation With Shaun Rein

Aside from networking, LinkedIn is a great tool for exploring industries you're interested in developing further in or, entering. Based on you behavior, its analytic system pushes new content to your feed which enables discovery.

Which is how I ended up seeing Shaun Rein's books about China on my updates stream. Turns out Rein is also the Founder and Managing Director of management consultancy China Market Research Group.


With an impressive track record as an author and entrepreneur, I decided to reach out to see if it would be possible for Rein to share his story. Keep reading for his in his own words account of how his career intuitively happened.

When you picked your education path did you already plan on coming to China? 

In the mid 1990s I spent time teaching at Trinity College of Quezon City in the Philippines. While I was there, I met many political and business elite who told me they were trying to figure out how to deal with China's rise. They were not particularly concerned about Japan's rise which was the country that preoccupied American thinking in the political and business establishment. 

I then went to South Korea to teach at an English language and also found the elite there echoed the opinions of the elite in South Korea. As a result, I decided that I needed to focus on China's culture and understand her people as well as possible. 

I did not know if I would become a professor or a diplomat or a movie star (I was thinking about doing action movies in the Philippines) but I knew that no matter what I did I needed to have on the ground experience in China buttressed by some academic knowledge. 

How did you make the jump from entrepreneur to research at a venture capital & private equity firm? 

I have always considered myself an entrepreneur. Working in a large organization never held much appeal for me. I always wanted to create something that no one else had and to push back against the naysayers and critics. 

I started an event planning company in Montreal, Canada that organized 3000+ person dance parties which did pretty well.  It was definitely a better experience than working at McKinsey or Goldman Sachs as many of my peers did. I also started an English training company in Tianjin, China which failed miserably. 

But failure was a great learning experience as well. 

After starting these two companies, I decided it would be fun to go into venture capital. At Inter-Asia, I was in charge of education and IT investments, as well as ran research and due diligence operations. I think to be a good venture capitalist it is good to have entrepreneurial experience as you can help the entrepreneurs running your portfolio companies expand easier if you have been there and done that. 

I quite enjoyed venture capital but missed working in a more operational role. I had also never really worked in a semi-large company so that that might be worthwhile. I saw WebCT and wanted to invest in it, but they instead asked me to run China, Taiwan and South Korea. I thought it was a great opportunity so decided to leave VC and join them.

In 2005 you founded China Market Research Group, where did this idea come from? What does the firm do?

After we sold WebCT to Blackboard, I was not sure what to do next. I thought about going back into venture capital. I decided instead to open CMR basically to do angel investing. 

China was still a relatively unknown quantity to Western firms at the time, so as soon as I set up the shingle for CMR, big brands started calling me for help to do their China strategies. Apple called. So did Lane Crawford. As a result, I decided to change CMR's focus from investing to strategy consulting (I ultimately spun off the investing part of CMR into a new entity called CMR Capital that takes care of my personal investing).

In other words, I did not set up CMR to become a consultant. Basically the market demanded my services. Companies were looking for more tailor-made, and more insightful strategies that those offered by McKinsey and BCG. They often had bad experiences with the big consulting firms. 

I saw that they had the money to pay and the demand and thus built up CMR this way. It has been a fun 13 years. 

You’ve written three books about China, The War for China's Wallet: Profiting from the New World Order, The End of Cheap China & The End of Copycat China. Could you tell us how you got in to publishing, what was the writing process like and how was the market reception? Any surprises? 


Like with CMR, I sort of fell into publishing. I did not originally have a plan to do this. I wrote a few comments on blogs and then suddenly BusinessWeek called me and asked if I was interested to write a semi-regular column for them. I did that, and then ultimately for CNBC and Forbes, to get my ideas out and as marketing CMR.

Then one day a big publishing house asked me to write a book. I submitted a proposal 4 days later. They accepted the same day and then gave me a 3 month deadline to write the book - that is what became The End of Cheap China.

I found that writing a book is an incredibly solitary exercise - you write something in 3 months that people still review and think about years or decades later. That puts a lot of pressure to be clear and cogent. 

I love writing books. Because all the books have been successful I get engaged to give speeches around the world. That to me is amazing. I have spoken in South Africa, France, New Zealand, Canada, all over the place which has been great to meet people and see new cultures. I am very lucky. 

For a reception standpoint, typically the business community and those who know China pretty well have been supportive of my work, except for Silicon Valley who crucified me for my book The End of Copycat China where I predicted China would become an innovation nation. Well, now it is pretty clear my predictions were spot on and that China is 2-3 years ahead of Silicon Valley in terms of innovation.

I always feel like I am in the tech Dark Ages when I leave China to visit the US or Europe. 

For professionals who are aspiring to be an industry expert or enter the field of management consulting that you currently are part of, what advice or lessons learned can you offer?

The best advice I can give it to start your consulting career in a generalist role, don't specialize too early in your career. It is only after you have worked for a few years that you really start to understand what you are passionate about.

It is also critical to get a good mentor so make sure you know the training you would get in a consulting firm, typically bigger ones are better than smaller ones (except for CMR which I think has the best training in the industry). Make sure your boss is a good person who is interested in training you for the long-term.