Melbourne Geek & San Francisco
At the beginning of January this year, I was preparing for my first ever solo trip overseas for the MacWorld Expo in San Francisco to cover the event for my freshly relaunched site, Melbourne Geek. My friend Blaz Robar had put together an amazing design for the site, which was to provide us with a new level of credibility. To match the design, my mate Mat Michalik coded the whole thing to give even a web-retard, me, the ability to update the website.
Mat working on Melbourne Geek
It looked really pro and we were all very excited about the prospects the new site would bring. Why a new website? I decided to move away from the original concept which was more of a solo looking operation, into a site that looked like it could compete with the Gizmodos and Engadgets of the world.
After spending so much time on Melbourne Geek, Mat decided to take a bigger part in the site, making it more of a joint operation. He decided to come with me to SF, but after a family emergency the night before we were going to leave, he had to pull out — hence the solo trip.
Mat was going to be filming me interviewing vendors at MacWorld. I quickly had to come up with a plan b. Introducing Plan B: Sarah Lee
A photo I took of Sarah when we first met in Melbourne
I met Sarah a few months earlier, after following her surf photography for a number of years, Sarah visited Melbourne in September 2011. I invited Sarah to attend Semi-Permanent, a creative conference that a bunch of mates and I were attending. Sarah ended up staying at my place for a few days. She was great company.
So back to the story: Sarah Lee is from Hawaii, and at the time, was studying Film in L.A. When Mat couldn’t come to SF, I decided to fly Sarah to SF from Hawaii to help film the event. It turn out really well, as Sarah was on break from college. We ended up creating 30 videos from the Expo and thanks to a YouTube contact I made through working on the promotion of the film ‘Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead’ a month earlier, we were able to have some of our videos featured on YouTube.
While I was in San Francisco, I stayed at a couple of apartments using the service AirBNB
. It was a great chance to meet new people. One of my hosts, Mike, worked at Pixar and invited me for a tour of the Pixar campus.
WordPress, Josh Speaking & The Opena Case Guys
While working on the videos for Melbourne Geek, one thing became clear; video is a lot of work. I have listened to a lot of Podcasts over the years and I wanted to start to experiment with audio. Audio is easier to produce at a high quality and doesn’t require a camera operator to produce. I liked that audio was more self contained.
Also, while working on Melbourne Geek, I began to immerse myself in the WordPress community. My friends Aaron Rutley & Blaz Robar, who head-up Eleven Media, a boutique web design and development agency, exclusively use WordPress for their website builds.
Aaron helped Mat, Blaz and I with the Melbourne Geek site. Having such a talented group of guys working on the site meant that the possibilities for the site were endless, so it was great that we had catchups where we would debate features and design options.
Thanks to Melbourne Geek, I met the Opena Case guys back in September 2011 (It’s hard to reflect on the year without spilling over to the previous year). My friendship with CP and Rob quickly blossomed which pushed me to attend MacWorld. CP & Rob, who many people know as the Opena Case guys, created the first ever sliding out bottle opener for the iPhone.
A photo of CP & Rob I took in IKEA
CP initially contacted me when the Opena Case was on KickStarter, the boys were working hard to get publicity for the project, when they discovered Melbourne Geek through their research.
The first thing that struck me was their entrepreneurial spirit. On one hand, they were working on the Opena Case, on the other they were working on multiple small projects; from selling cables for Macs to 3d printers.
In November 2011, the Opena guys told me they were going to MacWorld in January. Excitement quickly ensued and in Josh style, I booked flight a week later.
Clearly I’m not the best with structure, as all of that information probably should have been in the MacWorld section.
Now, back to WordPress. I had just come back from SF in February and was ready for my next adventure. Aaron mentioned that he was planning on attending WordCamp NZ in Auckland. I had attended WordCamp Melbourne the previous year, which was a lot of fun, and frankly, I was looking for any reason to travel (Yep, I had the travel bug).
Aaron and I booked NZ for April and I spent the next couple of months working on video projects for clients.
While this was all happening, CP & Rob
were working on a new product. They had just launched the QuadLock, which I created some promotional videos for, and now they had a new product they wanted to launch — The Holda. The concept of the Holda was simple; hold your credit cards, drivers license and key in the case of your iPhone, without creating bulk.
The boys came up with a parody product called the Playa, essentially the same product, but one that would hold a condom. They got me to create a video to launch on April fools and before we could blink, the video was picked up by the world’s biggest websites. In one week, the promotional video had over 200,000 views.
Fast forward to the end of April and Aaron and I were at WordCamp NZ. I met a lot of fantastic people, funnily enough, a lot of the people we met were from across Australia. It was great to sit back and take in the talks. I’m not a web developer, so it was interesting to get an insight.
Our view from our hotel in Auckland
Throughout the months before WordCamp NZ, I still had the idea of doing some kind of audio focused project. While in Auckland, I met a couple of guys that were doing a Podcast. They were very passionate about it.
I had given Podcasting a go back when it officially started in 2004. The podcast I made back then had very little appeal. From memory, I would crack a few jokes, have a guest — that was normally a mate — and end it with an interview with my mum — compelling stuff.
I wanted to create an audio show that was inspiring, that added value to peoples lives. I first came up with the name, Josh Speaking, then realised that there was nothing inspiring about a guy in his early 20s talking on his own.
With my work, I have been lucky to meet some very interesting people, which gave me the inspiration to use the Podcast as a platform to find out more about them. A few emails later, I had organised my first interview, Shane Jacobson
. I had worked with Shane in developing his online presence and I found him to be both inspiring and a great storyteller.
After my interview with Shane
Great — I had organised the interview to be at Shane’s house. The only problem: I didn’t have any portable audio gear. A quick visit to Factory Sound and I had a great interview audio setup. Blaz and Aaron put together a minimal site to host the podcast. I created the *very* over the top audio intro and recorded the first episode. Josh Speaking was born.
LinkedIn, A New Job & a Trip to the Olympics
While I had all of these project going, I was making my money through corporate video production and online consulting. I was always open to new opportunities that would come up, hence the quick decision to attend MacWorld, so when I received an email from a recruiter via LinkedIn asking if I was interested in receiving some information on a job she thought I would be interested in, I took a look.
The Job was in radio, an industry I had always been interested in, especially given the recent passion for audio production. The role was Digital Content Producer for the Today Network show, Fifi and Jules. I had listened and enjoyed the Fifi and Jules show since they began broadcasting at the beginning of 2011. The role seemed perfect. It mixed my skills in video, with online.
I have never been a 9 to 5 guy, or interested in the whole ‘employee’ thing, but I thought I would give it a shot. Three weeks of phone interviews, in person interviews and an interview with the Fifi and Jules team later and I got the job.
I went from working around 10 hours a week, with the rest of my time on side projects (Melbourne Geek & Josh Speaking) out in the south east suburbs, to working a 10am-7pm day an hour away from home in South Melbourne at the Fox FM studios.
Half the time I would catch public transport, then I would get sick of that and drive in, then I would experience the Monash FWY, then I would go back to the train; it was an ongoing cycle.
The Fifi and Jules team at the Melbourne Cup
I got the opportunity to create a lot of fun content for Fifi and Jules, from filming interviews with Justin Bieber to filming Jules run a marathon on the official Olympic track in London. Only 6 weeks in the job and I was in London for a week. It was an experience I will never forget.
6 months in the job (November), my girlfriend Breana and I decided to move closer to our workplaces. We decided on a modern apartment in Port Melbourne. Now I walk to and from work, which is great.2012 has definitely been a big year. I have made a bunch of new friends, experienced 3 new countries and moved out of home. I’m excited to see what’s waiting for me in 2013.