Saturday, 27 June 2009

Why Michael Jackson will always be the King of Pop

Michael Jackson will always be the King of Pop. Period.

In case you have not already noticed, I’m a big fan of Michael Jackson. For someone who cannot dance or play music to save his own life, I’m extremely impressed by Michael Jackson’s immense talent in music. From a child prodigy in the Jackson 5 to the music genius who swept 8 Grammy awards in a single night, Michael’s meteoric rise to stardom was built on his incredible talent of music and dance. Why is it that Michael Jackson was crowned the King of Pop and never dethroned for the past 30 years? Here’s a short look of we can learn from what Michael the greatest performer of all time.

Be yourself – black or white
Michael battled allegations of his skin condition for most of his career, and he claimed that he suffered from vitiligo – a condition that causes blotches of paler skin. The media alleged that MJ was bleaching his skin to become a white because he was ashamed to be African American, or that being white made album sales better. Michael always maintained that his condition was medical, and he never strayed away from his family, friends or black people. Even as the media intensified their criticisms and published allegations of him having “weird” behaviour, Michael seldom caved in to change anything. It takes a truly strong person to resist social pressure to change, especially if your behaviour has nothing to do with the rest of the other people.

Never forget the child in you
Michael Jackson’s Neverland ranch was always in the news for the wrong reasons – for MJ’s alleged childhood abuse, his excessive spending habits and his weird love for Peter Pan’s ability to never grow old. What many people fail to see is MJ’s embrace of the child in him. The Neverland ranch was Michael’s refuge when the commercial world became too much for him, and it provided the only privacy and sanity he desperately needed as the King of Pop. MJ would pen his songs while he sat on the branches of the trees, and he enjoyed the rides in his own amusement park. By embracing the child in you, you can take refuge from the cruel demands of the world.

Killer instincts with unshakable belief
Before the Thriller album was released, Michael went against the advice of his managers and music producers and insisted on his concept for the music video – to dress him up as a werewolf. MJ pushed ahead for the music video and the result was revolutionary – it pushed the envelope of consumer acceptance and defined the style an concepts of MTVs. Michael Jackson had killer instincts in defining style, and unshakable belief in his instincts. Most people will follow the herd in opinions and not risk failure, but as the saying goes “nothing great has never been done without risks”.

Develop your own style and signature
While many artistes are happy just to remain at the forefront of the latest style, Michael Jackson defined the style of music. In 1983, MJ made jaws dropped and he performed the moonwalk for the first time in front of a live television show. For the teens who grew up in the 80s, everyone was talking about Michael Jackson, breakdancing and the Thriller video. And who can get away with wearing white socks with black pants and shoes (the fashion police would kill for such a crime) except MJ? Or wearing a single white sequined glove? Michael did not care for following styles – he defined styles and created signature moves and icons.

Recognize your genius– and break away if you have to
Even though Michael Jackson started his career as part of the Jackson Five, he realized at a young age that he had immense talent, and he knew he had to go solo if he were to make it big. It wasn’t easy to break away from the comfort zone, especially when his stint with the group gave him the experience and exposure, but MJ had to do it if he were to fully exploit his talent. It is difficult, but an eagle can never soar if it stays within its nest – so break out from your comfort zone and explore the world if you feel constrained.

Be altruistic – help the world
A great part of Michael Jackson’s appeal to the world stemmed from the fact that he was a great philanthropist and humanitarian. MJ wrote songs about the plight of the third world, the suffering of the people and the environment. He donated generously to worthy causes and was always ready to perform at charity events. Michael always appeared genuine and consistent in his message – he loved the world, the people and his fans. He used his greatest talent to help the world, and the world loved him for that. It was this strong relationship that set foundation for his success, and that was why vicious rumours and allegations failed time after time to topple the king of pop. Help the world – and the world will help you when you need help the most.

Surround yourself with talents if you want to do great things
Michael Jackson had talents the world had never seen – but that alone was not enough to bring him to such stratospheric heights. MJ worked closely with talented individuals such as Quincy Jones and Lionel Richie to take his music to greater heights. Michael understood that unless he worked with other talents, he would only be restricted to his own shell and unable to grow. The collaborations were crucial in developing his talents, and often resulted in win-win scenarios.

A powerful combination of talents
This is probably the biggest reason why Michael will never be dethroned as the King of Pop. Unlike many artistes who excel in one or two areas, Michael Jackson had a multitude of talents which he fused together as the unstoppable power in pop music. He was great in singing, dancing, performing and songwriting, and that made him invincible in the music arena. Nobody else could control their destiny like MJ could, because his talent gave him the power to control every aspect of his performance. If you have multiple talents, explore the ways you can harness the power of your talents combined. The results can be remarkable.

In his short life of 50 years, Michael Jackson has done what no other musicians could have accomplished in their lives. He was the best-selling artiste and music genius, and most importantly a music icon that touched lives everywhere. Rest in peace Michael – you were the King of Pop and you will always be.

Michael Jackson: Aug 29 1958 to June 25 2009

One of my favourite videos of Michael Jackson is "Smooth Criminal". Catchy music with incredible dance movement and impeccable timing. Like his trademark moonwalk, Michael pioneered the anti-gravity lean which set people talking for years to come. In case you're curious, no... there wasn't any wire-harness or digital editing involved in that move, which made it even more amazing.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Thinking out of the box? Try thinking within!

You know the popular saying "Think out of the box". People have been quoting it so often that they often forget that the flip side of "thinking within the box" is equally challenging and rewarding! What is thinking within the box? The "box" does not always denote conventional thinking or ideas. The "box" can refer to the constraints that you are facing, and that includes your budget, legal restrictions, deadlines etc.

It is great to think out of the box, but if you can develop a great idea while thinking within the box (staying within the budget and deadline etc), that is truly phenomenal! There are a lot of great ideas that one can conceive, but many will either blow the budget or cannot be done in time. If you can be the individual to come up with a amazing idea that can be accomplished within the limitations, that will really help you grow much faster as an individual.

Take the example of this Malaysian advertisement for creative awards. They took a limitation (which I shall not elaborate and spoil your viewing pleasure), and turned it into something creative.

Clever? It is. The role of advertising agencies is not to ignore all limitations and come up with something clever. Rather, it is to take into consideration the operating parameters such as the budget, the timeline, the brand's value, the consumer's perception etc, and come up with an effective campaign that stays within these boundaries. That is a clever campaign.

Let's end off with another clever campaign that defines thinking within the box. This time, the box is probably the budget. What if someone told you that he wanted to run for president, but he could only afford to pay for the TV air time, and had hardly any money left for production? You need to do a TV commercial without any budget for filming. Most people would have dropped the project like a hot potato. The agency who did this ad didn't get fazed, and by thinking within the box, came up with one of the most brilliant political campaign TVC ever...

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Car photography made easy!

If you are a proud car owner and you'd like to take some nice photos of your car, here're some tips on the basics of good car photography. These are really simple tips to follow, but they're guaranteed to make your photos much better. Check it out!

Photography articles revamped!

For the dear readers who have been reading the photography articles on my website, I've some good news for you. Since the good old days when I ran the online newsletter and website "Photography Happenings!!", the articles have not been updated often due to my hectic schedules. So I made a resolution to update and refresh the articles, and keep your fingers crossed that I'll have the time to add even more articles!

I've started off with a refresh of a handful of articles, updated with new photos and edited for easier reading. Click here to read the updated articles, and feel free to leave any comments...

Sunday, 14 June 2009

The story of the pencil

The Pencil Maker took the pencil aside, just before putting him into the box.

“There are 5 things you need to know,” he told the pencil, “Before I send you out into the world. Always remember them and never forget, and you will become the best pencil you can be.”

“One: You will be able to do many great things, but only if you allow yourself to be held in someone’s hand.”

“Two: You will experience a painful sharpening from time to time, but you’ll need it to become a better pencil.”

“Three: You will be able to correct any mistakes you might make.”

“Four: The most important part of you will always be what’s inside.”

“And Five: On every surface you are used on, you must leave your mark. No matter what the condition, you must continue to write.”

The pencil understood and promised to remember, and went into the box with purpose in its heart. It was shipped to a household in Britain, where it served its owner well on the desk. However, the pencil was always left out of the limelight by the collection of shiny new fountain pens.

The fountain pens laughed at the poor pencil, “look at him, shaved and chewed by the owner. He would never do such a thing to us!” The pencil grew ashamed, for he knew that he was no match for the beautiful fountain pens. Over the years, he was used and sharpened countless times, and his once proud wooden frame has been reduced to a dirty and short stump. His tattered pride was barely held in place by what the Pencil Maker told him before.

The war had come to Britain, and the pencil’s owner was conscripted to the air force as a pilot. The pencil and the fountain pens were left in disuse, waiting for the day the owner would return. It was months before that happened, and the owner came home to meet his wife with the grave news that he was selected for a mission over enemy skies.

When it was time for him to say goodbye, the owner reached into the drawer to pick up a writing instrument for his dangerous mission. He reached for the proud fountain pens, but they were all clogged up from the long periods of disuse. His wife picked up the old pencil and passed it to him.

“Take this pencil with you. It is the most dependable writing instrument you have, and you need something that will never fail on you at the most critical moment. The fountain pens will leak at such high pressures in the cockpit anyway.”

The pencil followed the owner into the heart of the war, flying over enemy lines and dropping bombs over the cities. The owner charted the squadron’s maps with the pencil, making sure that everyone accomplished the mission and returned home safely. The enemy was brought to its knees and the war was over soon.

The owner was released from the air force conscription, and upon his return home placed the pencil back among the fountain pens. There was barely a stump left of him, but yet the other pens knew that they had someone special among them. The pencil has fulfilled the destiny that the Pencil Maker had set.

Know that you are a special person and only you can fulfill the purpose to which you were born to accomplish. Never allow yourself to get discouraged and think that your life is insignificant and cannot make a change.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Don't Quit

Here's one of my favourite poem, which was written by an anonymous author. As a kid, I saw this poem on a small wooden plaque, and although I didn't fully understand the prose then, I liked it so much that I kept it with me through the years. It is still sitting on my desk at home...

Don't Quit

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
when the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
when the funds are low and the debts are high,
and you want to smile but you have to sigh,
when care is pressing you down a bit
Rest if you must, but don't you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As everyone of us sometimes learns.
And many a failure turns about when he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don't give up though the pace seems slow - you may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than it seems to a faint and faltering man;
often the struggler has given up when he might have captured the victor's cup;
and he learned too late when the night came down,
how close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out - the silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
and you never can tell how close you are, it may be near when it seem afar;
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit
It's when things seem worst that you mustn't quit.