Tag Archives: management

So this is the generation that will change China?!

Fancy-Hair-Boy-Edit1Behold the Savior of China’s future.

Recently I was talking with a young friend who told me that the management of her company was considering to organize a workshops on “how to communicate with Millennial’s”.  I found it incredibly humorous, but it was this moment that it became clear to me how different the younger generation is from their older coworkers.  I was also recently made aware of another interesting example is that of a Chinese general  saying that this generation kids are way too spoiled, weak, and even went as far to refer to them as effeminate!

pekin opera [1280x768]

“Whatever, we’ve been cross-dressing for like, 5000 years!”

 Along with several other aspects of their upbringing, international exposure has caused this generation of young people to start questioning the values of the traditional system in China.  In face of the relentless chiding of the older generations, They often eschew tradition, shaking things up without causing the kind of revolution that their grandparents enjoyed so much.

cultural revolution Look at them, just a bunch of crazy kids out having fun.


Being employed by a famous company is becoming less of a motivational factor for this young people to make them work hard, complete boring routine daily tasks, let alone to think about staying with said employer until the day they retire. Instead they are looking for challenging and meaningful work. This is becoming a perceived threat to managers who are unable to produce those challenging and exciting tasks at the speed the Millennials request them. These people pose a significant challenge to their managers to be creative about creative tasks and responsibilities. HR Departments are often shocked to receive so many CVs of job-hoppers (which was previously the No 1 item on  their “Do Not Hire” list ). Furthermore,  the turnover rates are high compared to the time when the older generation began work, making HR professionals wonder “What’s wrong with these young people?!” The traditional management structure that worked for decades, no longer works for these young people who are looking for motivation, learning opportunities, and challenges that will help them get promoted faster. For many of them the biggest challenge in their work is that there is no challenge at all.   This often leads to office ennui and many hours spent perusing the internet.

dilbert Not at all like western companies.

This generation is leading a revolution of thought, and I for one, support it.  Seeing their creativity, learning about their dreams has inspired me to do what I can to help these young people to achieve their goals.  Since we are starting a creative brand for the young people, we decided that helping the youth in China to achieve their dreams through realizing their creative confidence,  should be our primary mission.  That’s how the ALBA Fan Club was born.

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In my last post I wrote out some of the details specific to the variety of artist that I work with.  This week I will go into some of the major do’s and don’ts of dealing with these strange creatures.

Da Walrus


                                        DO’S AND DON’T FOR TRAINING YOUR ARTIST


 DON’T: let their artistic perfectionism control your time.

remind them it is a business

 DON’T give them the  freedom to take over. 

If you allow your little cartoonist to take over, he will almost immediately get lost in the labyrinthine quagmire that is his own imagination, setting all important tasks aside in favor of his pet project.

DON’T let them fall into “commercial artist syndrome”   

Most commercial artists such as cartoonists, animators, ad designers, graphic designers, and web designers given a chance, will want to emphasize “art” and often forget to address commercial appeal.

DON’T believe their carefully disguised tricks and excuses to avoid responsibility or extend deadlines

If you do not show authority toward the artist, he will be difficult to train.

DON’T ask them to wake up early

(artists, esp. EACs, generally don’t function well until after 11am) Don’t make the classical mistake that many over-enthusiastic PMs do: don’t ask them to wake up at 6 a.m. thinking they can get more work done – they will be moaning, groaning, and complaining throughout the whole day.  Also don’t even think about asking them to go to the gym at 7 am.

photo  I made that mistake ONCE

DON’T ask them to read books on planning or how to manage themselves.

This is a complete waste of your time and energy, they will never take it seriously, let alone do it. They will come up with millions of reasons why this and this book is not good, or try to explain why this or that self-help author “spouts nothing but psychobabble”, etc.  Instead, make sure any reading assignment you give contains illustrations.


 That part on goal sheets is incredible, it’s going to look so great when I fold it into an elephant!

 DON’T tease them, yell at them, be cruelly ironic, or sarcastic.

Be especially careful if such action stands to bruise their ego regarding work.  Artists are very sensitive when it comes to their work.

 DON’T use the word FEEDBACK.

Remember, artists are generally apathetic toward business talk, but can become very aggressive when such terms are used in deference to their work.  Words like “feedback”, when used in the wrong context can make them feel especially threatened.  Art for them is art, not business. Instead try to use words that sound less threatening such as, “Suggestion” .

As an extension of this, don’t expect them to collect feedback or suggestions from customers.  Most breeds do not care to hear customer feedback, but instead are only keen to hear commentary from other artists.  When exposed to customer feedback Commercial Artist breeds are prone to selective hearing, taking in only those comments that reflect their viewpoint and ignoring any negative comments, sometimes going as far as questioning the sanity of the person who made them.

DON’T lose your cool

Some breeds can remain very calm if you do, but all have the potential to go into hysterics. Give yourself a few minutes to regain composure, and after that address them in a stern but level tone.

DON’T try to “correct” their character

Each artist has distinct personality and style that they are usually very proud and protective of.

DON’T be alarmed if your artist is up all night

this is often when they get their best work done.

NEVER ask them to multitask (It’s a mess , trust me) 



 DO’s: give them rules and limitations of creativity

He needs to be given rules to follow, and limitations as to what he is and is not allowed to do.

  DO show authority; proper pack leadership

without proper leadership from their handler, they can be defensive, irresponsible, lack goal orientation, display irritability, obstinance, and become very quick to bite.  Sometimes they may even refuse to be handled. if you do not understand what it means to be a true pack leader, you might be  better suited to working with accountants.

squirt bottle

 The essential discipline tool

DO allow them to socialize (they go stir crazy and will begin to chew your stuff)

DO give them creative tasks

This is their favorite thing. They thrive on creative tasks where they can be totally themselves, and will surprise you with their genial ideas.

DO be patient, even when you want to strangle them.

It is very challenging for a PM to maintain patience especially when you see that he has followed the priority list from F to A and left you without important documents just before an important event starts. Be patient, because even if you are thinking to fire him, remember, the next one won’t be any different.  You may want to re-consider the importance of micromanagement in this event.

DO encourage them and complement them on good work.

There isn’t anything on earth that sounds more pleasant to them  than hearing how pleased you are. Well placed ego stroking will bring peace to the workplace, if only temporarily so.

DO be forceful and persistent when giving out tasks

Many artists have a short attention span and are apt to return to doing what they want to do、their pet projects.

DO allow them to work from home

Artists love when they get to spend a whole morning in bed, and then get some work done. Office cubicles, 9-5 jobs, and endless meetings are dangerous environments that may lead to them frothing out the mouth.

DO allow them to sneak beer into the studio, go to pubs or other environments with alcohol and art supplies

Artists (EACs especially) display an uncanny knack for creating when slightly inebriated.

DO take away any IDs, bank cards, or other important documents.

Artists have an instinct to lose keys, bus passes, bank cards, passports, cell phones and other important items. They are particularly prone to do this at the most inopportune moments.


Artists can be fun and rewarding to live/work with but before you decide to take on this serious responsibility, be sure to research which particular breed is right for you……etc.

Please let me know about any useful tips I may have missed or share your interesting experience with artists in the comment section below.

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How to Train Your Artist! A handling and obedience manual for all managers! (Part 1)


In this week’s blog we’ll discuss some of the techniques and tricks for training and working with artists.  Having an artist can be a fun and rewarding experience.  If not handled in a stern but caring manner however, you might find yourself in a world of trouble, heartache, and frustration.

There are many varieties of artist, but for the purposes of this manual I will be discussing my breed: the short-haired English-American Cartoonist (referred hereafter as short haired EAC).   I will use this post to discuss the characteristics of this peculiar breed and then move on to more general training trips next week.


           Let’s get this blog on the road!

The short-haired English-American Cartoonist    

Breed Characteristics

The short-haired English-American cartoonist (EAC) is a clever, creative, talented, lively, affectionate, romantic, proud, brave, amusing, merry, devoted and loving cartoonist with a well rounded sense of humor. They are spirited and obedient, careful and amusing, and like many artists enjoy escapist activities such as video games.  Like all cartoonists, they are half-artist, half-writer.  Due to the trans-Atlantic nature of the breed, EACs travel well. Devoted to their sketch books and lampooning everything they disagree with, they can be slightly difficult to train and housebreak, but not impossible.


Be nice to me and play with me, otherwise I tear up your stuff and doodle everywhere!


This breed is highly intelligent; if you let them take an inch, they can become willful and determined to take a mile. This little cartoonist needs a practical Project Manager (PM) who understands how to be his pack leader.  He needs to be given rules to follow, and limitations as to what he is and is not allowed to do. Do not let this little cartoonist fall into Commercial Artist Syndrome, or else he may begin to believe he is pack in charge.  If you allow this he will take over the business and begin to run the company into the ground with his artistic perfectionism and obscure references that no one else would possibly understand. Cartoonists that are allowed to take over will display many behavior problems, such as, but not limited to, unmet deadlines, large amounts of in-stock product, financial debts, excessive drinking, pencil shavings strewn across the floor, and maniacal laughter at their own jokes. This breed is highly trainable and is able to perform many impressive tricks.  However, if you do not show authority toward the cartoonist, it will be resistant to training.  EACs  are usually only recommended for experienced, well-mannered administrators, simply because most PMs do not display proper pack leadership with artists. Handlers need to be as strong-willed as the cartoonist otherwise this little guy will take over.  If not guided properly the EAC may show moderate to severe protectiveness over their work, a behavior that can only change if the PM offers stern management laced with an even amount of praise and encouragement. When an EAC is shown good leadership, they can get along famously with Project Managers.  With the right owner an EAC can really excel.  Short-haired English- American Cartoonists that have solid business leadership, along with well-placed praise and appreciation are wonderful companions with excellent temperaments.

Health Problems:

Short-hair EMC are an overall healthy breed, but have a tendency to become overweight and lazy if not made to exercise regularly. (They have a penchant for drinking heavily in the studio when no one sees them – this is a serious health risk)  Contrary to how many EACs behave, they are not, in fact “Allergic to Responsibility”.  Be forceful and persistent when giving out tasks.  They should be discouraged from multitasking however, as they are prone to nervous breakdown.

Living Conditions:

Good for apartment living. They are fairly active indoors and will do okay without a yard. They need to get out of the house daily. However, don’t put them in office cubicles or 9-5 jobs! They heavily dislike meeting rooms, and are known to doodle if they have to be there for longer than an hour.


Like most artists, EACs enjoy sessions of play in a pub or other environment with alcohol.  They are prone to restlessness and may become destructive if they do not receive enough exercise or activities to occupy their keen mind.  EAC’s that are mentally stable, with all of their artistic instincts met, will not display these negative behaviors.


            Oh yeah, that’s the stuff!

Life Expectancy:

40  – 90 years, depending on how angry  he makes me.

Stay tuned for Part Two: ” The Do’s and Don’ts for training your artist.”  (coming later this week )

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Yes, but Why T-shirts?

Vali was behind the bar.  He had just poured out a fifth original cocktail and once again, everyone was in awe.  He was able to instantly think up five, unique, mind-blowing cocktail recipes, and he just gave them to the owner… for free.


Pictured: money he’s missing out on.

The question kept running through my mind, “When will he stop giving out his unique  talents and skills as if they were something that everyone else on earth possessed?”  cartoons_superheroe

      He was going to add more detail, but I yelled at him to stop fooling around and get some real work done.

The thought that the man of my life possessed such unique talents, but still seemed so devoid of ambition frustrated the hell out of me. This time I told him “You must wake up and do something with your potential, instead of giving it away for free!”  I laughingly went on ; “If you don’t I will capitalize on each and every of your talents, and turn you into my personal ATM!”

money cow

                                    Or you could say: “My Money Cow”

A few days later, he told me that he was thinking to turn his cartooning skills toward making a unique T-shirt brand and thereby achieve global domination. buy my T-shirts                                          I guess he pictured it like this.

I felt relieved, it sounded a little crazy (especially that part about the T-shirts), but he had finally started thinking about business. I liked the idea a lot and told him that I was willing to give him my support (I’ve regretted saying this many times since).  In my mind we are the “perfect match”  he is a very creative artist, and I know how to exploit him.   I digress, we complement each others’ skills well.  His strengths are my weaknesses and vice versa.   I lose my patience, he finds it.  He loses his keys, I find them.  I’m insanely practical, he’s practically insane.  It works.


                             Besides, someone’s gotta open those pickles.

Yet another one of my goals which I will touch on in depth later is to move into consulting.  What I felt I lacked however was some business experience and personal success. Naturally, I thought that if I can manage our T-shirt brand and make it famous, then the people will take notice and trust me – that’s the best advertising I could ever get.

alba_ moon_writing

          That or some of that sweet, sweet Moon advertising space.

All these years of endless frustration resulting from working for Chinese companies that were preaching professionalism, but in reality showed none. Companies where nobody cared about the personal and professional development of the employees, put an idea into my head.   We started  a T-shirt business for our first entrepreneurship effort, with a great vision to create a fun brand and making a name for ourselves in China,  and giving others the opportunity to join in on the fun. I  wanted to set an example in management for young people to learn by. I want to  motivate and help them to realize their own potential independent from the trap that is the modern corporate world. What if I could build my perfect company? What if I could create a place where employees will learn and develop, and be motivated to work?   I already had the perfect test subject, but getting my fiancé to cooperate was more of a chore than I bargained for….


                                             “Hi, I’m your new cartoonist!”

Next week:  How to Train Your Artist!  A handling and obedience manual for all managers!

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