The OneSixOne Podcast EP03 - Where to from here?

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2021

Where to from here? Is purpose defined through the experience or through the end result? How do we navigate community whilst in isolation? How do we become more intentional with one another? Where do you find value? Is there a danger to our Digital algorithms?

Matt, Steph, Andy and Jared share thoughts on the New Year and whether or not we can plan ahead.

The OneSixOne Podcast

Co-founders of OneSixOne, Matt, Steph, Andy and Jared share their thoughts and conversations amidst the everyday madness of running a diverse creative agency. Recorded at The Qube, London. Produced by Tim Steemson. Theme music- ‘Lights Camera Action’ by meganeko. To keep up-to-date with the OneSixOne podcast, signup and subscribe via Spotify or Apple Music.

Podcast Transcript

Matt Miller (00:04):
Hi friends. Welcome to the OneSixOne podcast. This is episode three. I am Matt Miller. And in the room today, we have Jared. Say hi, Jared.

Jared Saar (00:31):
Hey.

Matt Miller (00:31):
We have Andy.

Andy Khatouli (00:33):
Yo

Matt Miller (00:34):
We have Steph.

Stephanie Alcaino (00:39):
Yay.

Matt Miller (00:39):
I feel like the past the past few times we've introduced this show we've laughed at Jared. And then you invited the laughter that time. I feel like we found a mechanism to actually introduce ourselves properly.

Jared Saar (00:51):
I like that you introduced me because it took the pressure off me, I think.

Matt Miller (00:54):
Okay.

Stephanie Alcaino (00:55):
We forgot about Mitch, the plant though.

Matt Miller (00:56):
There's also Mitch the plant in the corner. Say hi, Mitch.

Stephanie Alcaino (00:58):
Hey.

[Audio laughter].

Jared Saar (00:58):
Just to preempt what happened just then, we have this thing called the Rodecaster Pro, which is sitting in front of us. And it's this very fancy recording thing that we use to record. And there's about eight buttons on the side of a little different lights and colours found out today that they actually have preloaded sounds in them, which we're very excited about. So today, if you hear some weird sounds, [Audio Applause] guys, please I'm speaking. If you hear some weird...

[Audio music] and [Audio Laughter]

Andy Khatouli (01:31):
Matt is going a bit crazy.

Matt Miller (01:34):
He's going crazy. If he hears some sounds in this one, don't be freaked out.

[Audio creepy music]

Jared Saar (01:37):
It's just us playing with them and we'll keep it to this episode. We promise not to get carried away too much of the sounds.

Matt Miller (01:48):
Oh my gosh.

Andy Khatouli (01:49):
Without further ado, welcome to OneSixOne.

Matt Miller (01:56):
What's happening. We've lost it.

Jared Saar (01:58):
No, that's good. I like it.

Matt Miller (02:04):
Guys. Happy new year.

Jared Saar (02:05):
Yes.

Stephanie Alcaino (02:05):
Happy New Year.

Andy Khatouli (02:05):
Indeed

Matt Miller (02:08):
I've forgotten how this thing is meant to work, but we've, we've done two episodes, right? And we always said that we were going to try something new. We're going to make a podcast and you know, we're not experts. We just wanted to invite people into the conversations that we have in the studio. And so we've done two episodes. We always said they were going to be pilot episodes. I want to thank everyone. That's listening so far. It's been amazing. People share their thoughts. Hopefully you've laughed with us. Cried with us. We've not had any tears yet.

Jared Saar (02:35):
No, but if you've cried, I'd like to know why. [Laughter]

Stephanie Alcaino (02:40):
Unless it's crying of laughter.

Jared Saar (02:42):
Yeh that would be a good thing.

Matt Miller (02:43):
No, but we love that you guys are listening to the content and that you're sharing it and hopefully it's been helpful, somewhat inspiring. It means a lot to us. Like you don't have to listen to this, but here you are. Okay. So a couple episodes in two pilot episodes out of the way. Yep. And it actually takes a fair bit of effort to pull off a podcast, which we naively didn't realise when we thought, you know what, let's, let's start a podcast. But yeah. I mean, even the audio is no simple thing. Uh, big, thanks to Tim Steemson for putting the audio together for us. Yep. http://timsteemson.com. Check it out. He's a composer. He's sick. He's sick and a great and lovely guy. Yes. And then, I mean also the music, I mean, we just decided one day that we wanted to choose the most kind of, I dunno how to describe it. We decided we did kind of originally want, like, so we watch anime. I don't, I said we...

Jared Saar (03:33):
You do! You do.

Matt Miller (03:33):
I watch Attack on Titan and SwordArt Online. There's some things I've watched. Yeah. And just, we thought it would be, cause it's totally disconnected to anything we're doing that. There's somehow a law of attraction to it.

Jared Saar (03:48):
We like it.

Matt Miller (03:49):
We like anime and the music, we find it super inspiring. So we thought, wow. Imagine if like our podcast started with that level of intensity and meaning and depth and all that kind of stuff. So that was the inspiration behind it. And you know, we did a few roundabouts on it, but then we just came across this track by...

Jared Saar (04:03):
Meganeeko called lights, camera action.

Matt Miller (04:07):
And it felt perfect. And it's called literally lights, camera action. It's the most intense, abstract, crazy tune. Anyway, we love it. So big shout out there. Yeah. That's, how we landed there really. But then there's also the artwork which is done by our very own Andy Khatouli, in-house on the mic right now. What was the inspiration behind that?

Andy Khatouli (04:25):
I think it was trying to pair it up with a song really. Right. It's kind of that weird amalgamation of anime meets 8-bit graphics. And I think there's some 8-bit inspiration in the song. So, and I think it was kind of, sort of a merging of a few other ideas as well, because I know that for a while that we've always wanted to explore this, this concept of putting us into the 8-bit form. So it was a perfect opportunity to use that there. And it's, it's a lot of fun. So I think hopefully as we release more podcasts episodes, there'll be more animations and illustrations that will pair up with them.

Matt Miller (05:04):
Yeah sick.

Jared Saar (05:04):
It's such a good job.

[Audio Cheering]

Andy Khatouli (05:09):
Just to clarify Jared pushed the button.

Jared Saar (05:12):
No, that was the live audience that we have here.

Matt Miller (05:15):
Imagine If we do an episode of the live audience, it'd be terrible.

Jared Saar (05:19):
It would be... Also the Qube where we're recording, which is spelt Q U B E. And this is a new space that's kind of popped up in West London. It's a sick spot. It's got loads of music, studios, a membership kind of thing. We have an office here, but they've got podcast studios, which we're taking advantage of really good team here. And yeah, we love it here and we get to use this space.

Matt Miller (05:43):
Nice, nice. Well, we're on episode three and it's the start of a new year, which feels like, I mean, I don't know about you guys, but it's probably the weirdest start to a new year I've ever experienced in my entire life. Things to think about. Physically, It's weird. I think this whole isolation thing, what we've been through this past year. I mean, it's been no small feat that we're here still today. And I mean, we, as in like the global 'we', not just us four in the room, we've learned a lot. We've experienced a lot of, been exposed to a lot of things and it's interesting, isn't it? Because the 1st of January is meant to be this new thing. And I don't know who's making these decisions, but it doesn't particularly feel like a switch has gone on and we're now just stepping into a new time, space, phase, season, whatever word you want to ascribe to it. It feels like nothing much has changed since December 1st too now.

Jared Saar (06:39):
The date's changed.

Matt Miller (06:40):
I mean the number changed.

Jared Saar (06:41):
Yeah.

Matt Miller (06:42):
And here we are.

Jared Saar (06:42):
I'm going to, for the first two months, forget to put one and instead put the zero 2020 and having to make the zero look like a one.

Matt Miller (06:51):
But it's mad that we're in 2021. It feels like it's. Yeah. It's just, it's crazy how we're here. It feels like when you speak about a time that's coming for so long and then you get there, you're like, Oh wow, we're here now. And you know, there's been loads of stuff that I've seen on TV, YouTube, whatever podcast, reflecting on the year, that's gone back. But I think my question really is where do we actually go from here? It's a start of a year. So there's various expectations on us, but where do we go? I don't even know what that question really means.

Jared Saar (07:21):
Like what are we expecting? Or?

Matt Miller (07:22):
Yeah. Like, how do we progress? How do we move forward? Is it important to move forward? Do we just continue? Like, nothing's changed. Like it's still 20, 20 part two. Do we just close the book on last year and plan ahead, like things are going to change. Like what do we do?

Jared Saar (07:40):
It's interesting question. Cause I feel like 2020 made us all realise that nothing is untouchable or invincible. If you know what I'm saying, like industries that have been around for a long time, COVID kind of taught us that your dollars could be shot for a global pandemic and you couldn't see it coming.

Andy Khatouli (07:55):
You could run out of loo paper.

Jared Saar (07:57):
Exactly. And everyone's fighting over it. But I think things like that make you realise, like how far can we plan ahead? It's interesting actually, because we were just watching Parasite again on the weekend and the dad in it. I think he said something about not planning for anything. Cause you basically, you won't be disappointed, but it's, it's an interesting concept because 2020 was such a weird year and it kind of is, has it taught us that we shouldn't be expecting anything, you know, because what could happen tomorrow? I just think it's a very good question. What are we expecting this year? Not that I'm feeling hopeless, but yeah. It's because nothing really has changed from December to January in that sense.

Stephanie Alcaino (08:31):
Yeah. I think for myself, I've always got two things that I start the year with and first one is go for a long walk with Jared and we set out goals for the year ahead.

Andy Khatouli (08:44):
We literally do the same thing.

Stephanie Alcaino (08:45):
Yes. We ended up just going for a walk for like an hour or two. And we look at the goals from last year and then we plan for the year ahead of going, okay, what do we want to achieve this year? The funny thing is is that like our goals for last year, half of them got made redundant. So we were like reading them out and we're like, no, COVID no COVID is like going on a big adventure somewhere like abroad. And they were like, eh, that wasn't going to happen. So I found that always find that quite interesting because it forces you to look ahead and go, actually in this short term of one year, what is it that I want to achieve moving forward? And I think the other thing that I always do is, which I mentioned in one of the other podcasts is I always set myself a question for the year and one of our company values is curiosity. And I've been reading a book called a more beautiful question by William Berger. He talks about how we need to start asking more questions and that we kind of live in a world where our schooling and education forces us to prioritise memorising answers versus over asking questions. So my question for myself this year is 'what questions am I asking?' Because we can tend to go around. And I definitely say with social media is that - social media has this culture of forcing you to take a stance on something even before you fully understand it. And I think for us, what we've realised in our processes as a company is that actually asking good questions, gets us to understand something more deeply and a lot better, but also it helps broaden our understanding of different things, which then actually works towards our creativity because we have such an eclectic sense of knowledge and understanding because we've asked so many questions that then when we're doing different projects, we kind of pull all these questions that we've asked from other projects into everything that we do, which is fantastic. So for me, I always start this year and any time I move ahead or wanting to move forward is what question am I going to put myself? And what goals am I going to set moving forward? So yeah, that's my question this year. What questions am I asking?

Jared Saar (11:07):
Yeh that's good.

Andy Khatouli (11:07):
That's great.

Jared Saar (11:08):
I mean, obviously do the same thing because I go for a walk with you. But I think it's helpful, especially for me. I think I've learned over the years to set realistic goals because sometimes you're like, by the end of this year, I'm going to be a millionaire. It's like maybe. Maybe I will. And I'm not trying to say I won't, but it's kind of like, setting goals that you like look back on and you go, I did that and what can I do further? So I do think it's important to say, where did we go from here as a company or as personally that you are asking yourself a little bit, like, what am I expecting or what am I hoping for or stuff like that.

Andy Khatouli (11:44):
Definitely. I think it's right where you said Matt, cause you can look back at well, what happens between the end of last year and the first day of year. Nothing really it's just time changes, doesn't it. But I do think that marker in the calendar is helpful in terms of psychology behind it because you're thinking right, okay. Maybe I can draw a line here and set my sights on something new and something fresh. And so I guess it brings in some optimism into the current reality and no one resents the idea of hope. And so I think it's helpful to at least have something tangible that feels like we're moving forward. So in many ways I'm grateful that we do have a yearly calendar because imagine if we didn't, it was just the year. And so it's just like, this is the longest time ever.

Stephanie Alcaino (12:35):
That would be terrifying.

Andy Khatouli (12:38):
Yeah. So I think that's helpful to just at least have those tangible goals set in place. You know, one of the things I do as well as, as well as putting goals in places somewhere, I would like to be whether that's emotionally or something I would experience or something that I can be grateful for as well. It's not necessarily something that is like on a checklist that I can tick off, but in six months time, how do I want to feel about something or how do I want to experience life in a certain way? It's not always task oriented. I try and do that because then that kind of gets my mind in the right place to start moving forward and planning. But I think there is something true in, I think you've mentioned it, Jared, that in the sense that you can't plan too far ahead because you don't know what's around the corner. And I think that's wise, it's acknowledging that we can put some good practices in place and good structures in place to kind of ensure that we're going in the right direction. But sometimes you do get a curve ball. And so you've just got to respond to it right then and there. So it's that realism, isn't it?

Jared Saar (13:38):
Yeah. Definitely.

Matt Miller (13:40):
No, I think that's helpful. You guys actually, I think when you even talking about hope, I'm very pragmatic. So, you know, I'm thinking like, where do I go from here? I'm like, should we still make strategies, business strategies for the next two quarters? Or should we hold everything quite loose? Or, you know, I'm thinking like goals and moving forward, like on a practical level. Whereas this just made me think, do I want to get to the end of the year and have those goals? And it was just like, Oh, I just crossed them off, like what you were saying, Steph. Like, how would I actually feel about that process that I didn't achieve those whatever targets or I couldn't even do some of those things. I think it's the reality of us realising how little control we have, I think is what we've all seen. But I think the stuff that seems to have real weight and currency is like the notions about hope, right? Which is a whole thing about even us like lifting up like the NHS during this time. It's like actually those institutions that represent something more than just targets. It's like well-being and hope and health and happiness. That's the stuff that's really being celebrated and the stuff that's been questioned or the people that are saying they're about something, but really it's about the money or strategy or fame or whatever, which we've seen. All those stories come out over this past year. People being called out on their politics, on their stance and their business ethics, I think is really helpful hearing when you're talking about hope.

Andy Khatouli (15:01):
It's helpful to just say, you know, when we say hope, I guess what we're trying to say is where you put your confidence. It's not just kind of this ethereal thing, like kind of a blind faith, you know, 'this will eventually fix everything', but it's more like in a very literal terms. Can I put my confidence in this thing? Like, will this actually deliver what I'm hoping to have? You know, what my expectations are.

Matt Miller (15:19):
Which is interesting because I think that in line with what we talk about a lot, which is purpose, it makes sense, right? Because I think once you have a deep understanding of your purpose, it's easy to be able to place your confidence in the things that you're doing and the reason behind why you're doing those things. So I don't know if you guys have seen it, but over the Christmas holidays I watched the new Disney Pixar film, Soul, which I think is - I'm going to stand by the statement. I think it's the best Disney Pixar film that's been made.

Andy Khatouli (15:50):
Whoa. That's a big statement.

Matt Miller (15:50):
Everyone's going to be like, wait, what about... Like, I know that's going to happen. I get it? Like I know Toy Story 2, Definitely, in terms of storytelling, probably one of the best. Moana. I get it.

Jared Saar (16:13):
That's Disney.

Matt Miller (16:13):
But I think it is the best Disney Pixar film that's been made. And I think it's because I liked the fact that pursuing things around the human condition and its place within existence. I just think it's really inspiring actually being able to like, even as a child, think about that or be challenged on that or open up your understanding on that, which, you know, I was watching teenage mutant, Ninja turtles and transformers and Thundercats when I was a kid, which was just violence and beating the bad guy who was an alien or whatever. I mean also let me throw a flip from this as well, because I think maybe the reason I'm even saying that it is the best is because what I watched before that is probably the worst thing. If not one of the worst things I've ever seen in my life, which is based on your recommendation from the previous podcast, which is watching Start Up the Korean drama.

[Audio Cheering].

Matt Miller (17:05):
No, don't applause it. Which you guys recommended to me, the only way I can describe is it's like Neighbours/EastEnders meets Made in Chelsea meets, like a musical.

Stephanie Alcaino (17:22):
That's devastating.

Jared Saar (17:22):
There's no singing.

Andy Khatouli (17:29):
I actually quite liked Neighbours.

Matt Miller (17:35):
Oh no. I like watch... There was seven minutes of dialogue and a story. And then like music just came, like a soundtrack, which lasted for two minutes. Then there was five minutes of talking and then five more minutes of music while people were just like kind of slow motion walking and looking at each other and looking at each other and you guys were like, the thing that cracked me, right. Which is like either I'm watching the wrong program or I'm insane here because like, all that was going around in my head, was you saying how good the acting was. Like saying that anyone can cry on cue?

Jared Saar (18:15):
Yeah.

Matt Miller (18:16):
I was like, wait, the fact that even took that as merit for anything. And I'm searching for that in this episode means I'm an idiot. Someone being able to cry on cue, isn't good acting. It's a party trick. It's an ability. I'm being, this is me being hypercritical Matt right now. But anyway, I watched it and I was like, this is the deadest show I have probably ever seen. I just, it was, I couldn't get it.

Jared Saar (18:39):
That's fine. We can agree to disagree.

Matt Miller (18:41):
And I know because I've recommended stuff to you and you're like, man, that was terrible.

Jared Saar (18:44):
Yeah. Usually you recommend something that's going to force me to really think about everything in the world. Like your recommendations...

Andy Khatouli (18:51):
That sounds like Matt.

Matt Miller (18:52):
I watched Tenet and I was like, okay, I can think about this.

Andy Khatouli (18:56):
Even when you came in morning, you saying that you watched the Mandalorian and then you have to go and watch every possible thing.

Jared Saar (19:03):
Exactly. And you're like this 80 books, like your kind of enjoyment is the detail. Absolute detail. And like it's crazy stuff.

Matt Miller (19:13):
Whereas this whole show is around. Will she get with one of two guys? Well, Joey finished it. So I've been doing other bits in the background and I've been doing some stuff online, blah, blah, blah. And so there's bits where like, I would just say this happened in it and she'd be like, yeah. And I'm like, I could have told you what the show is gonna to be.

[Music]

Matt Miller (19:44):
Soul, as a film. I felt there was so many layers to that film. And again, I think it's interesting because it has those two things we're talking about in terms of hope and purpose, right? In that it's surrounding a character who believes his purpose is a thing. And when he arrives at the end, he places all his hope in that. And his dissatisfaction with life is that, you know, his hope is that he gets to this place, but his reality is different from that. And then he arrives in that moment and realises, Oh, my hope was ill invested. Actually, I've been fulfilled in these other things. And this is actually what I'm here to do. This is what my purpose is, which almost in a beautiful way, he kind of lays down his opportunity. So someone else can live out their purpose, which then in turn fulfils him and grant him another chance. I think there's so many nuances and things to it that are really inspiring. The first black lead character in Disney Pixar animation is so huge. The acting is incredible. The fact that like, there's a John Baptist, the composer, the jazz musician as well. It's the first time they worked in collaboration with a musician that throughout that process, rather than, then just bringing in a John Williams at the end or whatever to compose. And so that partnership was beautiful. And the fact that, you know, he was able to bring his voice into it. And there's whole scenes that are constructed, which happened because the director sat down with him and asked him, so that scene at the start without giving too much away where he's in the classroom and he's playing the keys, the director asked him if you were going to do this scene, what would it be like? And he just did that off the cuff. So that scenes almost word for word him, improvising and talking about how he was inspired by jazz music. That's cool. And so there's so many things and if you haven't seen it, it's on Disney plus at the moment. And there's loads of other like little five to 10 minute shorts that they've done off like behind the scenes. I definitely recommend watching it.

Andy Khatouli (21:35):
That's great.

Matt Miller (21:35):
But I think the whole thing about hope and purpose and the fact that we've been questioned in those things in this year is huge. And I wonder if it's going to have a bigger impact on our creativity that we won't even know about until we look back at this generation and what they've been through, which is bigger than just calling out injustice. I think calling out injustice is huge, but I think actually addressing why do these injustices exist? There's something about our human condition, which allows these things to go on longer than they should. And I think actually by reframing some of our social human narratives about what is the rightful thing to do, what is our purpose, hopefully it will dispel or at least reduce some of the crazy stuff that's been spearheaded by crazy individuals over the past year decades.

Stephanie Alcaino (22:16):
That is really interesting. And I think because we based our company about seeing purpose realised, does this film add to that or subtract to that mission? So to say, if purpose is not a thing, are we needing to focus more about like the day-to-day life as opposed to just chasing something? And I almost wonder whether it's like, you know, it's a question of going, okay, if you're climbing a mountain to get somewhere, are you focused on getting your flag at the top of the mountain or you enjoying the experience along the way? Is purpose defined through the experience or through the end result? And I think that's kind of like the question that we kind of sit with is like, are we just focusing on that end product? Or actually, are we enjoying the process of getting there? And the day-to-day stuff like the, when things are tough or when things are easy or when things are mundane, is that adding to our purpose, as opposed to just the end result of going, I want to do this.

Jared Saar (23:15):
But I think that question of enjoyment and satisfaction, cause I was thinking I hear some people when they talk about starting something like a business and they've doing it for like five, 10 years. And sometimes you listen to it. It's like, that sounds so depressing the way they're like I'm up at four and I'm in bed by 2:00 AM and then I'm back up at four and you know, 30 years down the line, they've got no friends and family, you know what I mean? But they've got millions of dollars. And you like, was that where you wanted to arrive? Was that the end point? And it's all going to Steph about this idea of like the end goal. And we talk about purpose and I think this movie an interesting look at purpose, but I don't think it is an arriving there. Cause I think for me, if this business wasn't fun in a sense of, even though it's hard, I still want to do it. I just didn't think I'd want to do it. I just don't think I'm the kind of person to want to put myself through the ups and downs of running a business if I wasn't enjoying it. And it wasn't something I believed in. So even industry specific, like I don't think I could just tomorrow and be like, right, I'm done with OneSixOne, I'm going to start this business in microphones. I'd be like, I don't know anything about it. I don't really care. So I think the Soul was an interesting look at like the every day. Like, am I waking up today? Happy about things.

Matt Miller (24:17):
Have you guys had any conversations with like friends outside of this like little bubble here who are thinking about what to do in 2021?

Andy Khatouli (24:25):
I've had a few chats with some friends. I think they kind of all sort of follow the same narrative, which is, I'm not really sure what's going to happen. Some people are a bit more, not pessimistic, but kind of a little bit more anxious, others, a bit more optimistic. I think naturally I fall on the optimistic end of the spectrum. So I'm always thinking ahead like planning and trying to think, okay, what's, what's the, the most positive thing I can get out of this. So I've had those conversations with people and it's really helpful actually just to see the reality of the impact it's had on people's lives. Some people fitting, not just isolated, but almost frozen, like unable to move paralysed in some way, because of the uncertainty of even the simplest of things like, can I actually go out the house today? Or is there going to be another wave of coronavirus spiking? Or how am I going to afford the next bill? Or, you know, will I have enough money in the bank? And so I think it's been helpful just hearing how people have experienced it and you know, realising that I mustn't assume that everyone else is in the same boat because even in the more negative sense you have varying levels of that. So people are having a much harder than others who are having it hard as well. And some people actually cruising through. Okay. And it's just been great to see how those who've had more privileged positions have actually actively tried to help out others who are finding it a bit tough. And those who are in tougher positions sometimes are encouraging those who have it all that are kind of little bit lost. So it's not always plain sailing for everyone, but like we all go through our peaks and our lows. And if there's anything that I've been encouraged by is just general sense of community amongst my friends and peers, they've all been looking out for each other. And so if at any moment you felt lonely or struggling, there was always someone there to encourage you and lift you up and keep your eyes forward and your head up.

Matt Miller (26:04):
Yeah. When you spoke about, I know you just used that word community, like, is that quite a practical thing or is it more the feeling of closeness like how have you navigated community in isolation?

Andy Khatouli (26:13):
Yeah, this is great. Actually, it's a really good question. So for half of last year, my wife was adamant that she wanted to watch friends again. And when we watch friends, we usually just go through the whole thing. So there's no bits. And I was like, can we just have a break? And we'll start in the new year. And it's funny. Cause every time I've watched friends for the first time, the number one thing that sticks out to me in terms of like their friendship, like what makes their friendship is that they actively spend time together. So like outside of everything else that happens in life...I know it's fictional, but there's something wonderful about the fact that some of the characters live across the hall and even as life progresses and they get into relationships and they have commitments, they always seem to make time for each other. This is something that's always just come back to me every time I've watched that. I've been blessed to be able to see some of that picture come to life in my own life with other people. Community for me is not just about saying, Oh, I know that person. And we've shared a few experiences with them, but it's actively being in each other's lives. So, you know, making sure that we keep in touch in a very deliberate way. So checking up on people, how are people feeling? How are they doing going the extra mile to make that person feel appreciated or loved or accepted? And so I think in this time there's been a lot more zoom calls and calls and chats and social distance walks. But I realised that the natural reaction would have been to just stay in doors and distance myself from everyone and remove myself from that community. Actually I think for me in a few others, we've been more proactive in our friendships. And so I think, you know, it's been really beautiful to see that picture I've seen in friends where even though we might not be in the same room, it still feels like we've got those connections with each other because we've been deliberate in saying, okay, it's really important that we talk today. It's really important to do this, not to catch up my blah, blah blah. So to give an example, one of my close friends, James, we spoke every day for 15 minutes and sometimes it would bleed into half an hour or an hour. And we talked every morning and that was before work. And you know, a lot of people would be like, that's impossible. You can't do that. Maybe in the COVID situation, you might be a little bit easier, but for us it was less of can we find time for each other? It was more can we share our time with each other. So rather than trying to fit someone into my calendar, I was going, what part of my calendar could I just share with someone? So that we actually get that community and we get that friendship. So I think me and James have grown much, much closer than what we were a year ago, but also I've noticed how valuable it is. Even just 15 minutes on the phone. It's like, how was your day yesterday? What you're up to today? Like, what are you hoping to do on the weekend, blah, blah, blah. Just those little interactions actually really helped.

Stephanie Alcaino (28:47):
I think that it makes me think about another conversation we've had in the office as well about active engagement versus passive engagement and that we are actually quite genuine and intentional with our curiosity with one another, in order for us to feel like we're engaged in each other's lives and the work that we do. I know we always joke about Jared, always looking at him. And then sometimes I think Matt, Andy, and I tend to just wait for Jared to tell us what to do instead of engaging in knowing what's part of the meeting or the agenda and things like that. But that intentionality is quite important for us to be quite active in connecting meaningfully, which is quite interesting thing that raises the question off the back of that is that those people who don't have that type of support network, how do they move forward? When the world or the future is quite ambiguous? How does someone who doesn't have that type of support network move forward without having other people as part of their support?

Jared Saar (29:44):
Yes. It's an interesting question. Cause I feel like if you didn't have that community before, COVID I cannot imagine myself gearing up to jump on zoom to meet someone for the first time. I find that really difficult.

Andy Khatouli (29:55):
I wouldn't say I have the full answer to that, but maybe something in part to it, which is there's a responsibility on us who are part of the community to look out for those who are on the margins. And just to be like, at one point I was on the margins and then all of a sudden I got swept into something and I know loads of people and I felt secure and safe and there's a sense of family. So there should always be this kind of lighthouse mentality of like, should we just look out and see if there's anyone we should be aware of those who might be feeling like they're on the edges. The second thing for me as well is that for those who are in that position, you will eventually have to step out. You will have to jump off the plank in the swimming pool or whatever the analogy is. You, you will eventually have to step out, but that journey will be a little bit messy. It will be exciting. And you will find that you will build those particular friendships and you might not click with certain people. But I would say personally, some of the friends that are in my life, who I really trust when I first met them, I did not click with them at all. And actually I found them really grating and annoying. And it was actually, as I got to know them, that I appreciated the nuances, you know, the things that are not present in my life and like, Oh, actually that's really attractive. I really appreciate that about you. And you have a lot of value there and something to offer. And so I think it requires that that person also steps out and goes, yeah, I'm going to make this choice. Now. I might not know loads of people, but I'm going to try and then hopefully what's happening. Is that on the other side, someone's going, Oh, that person probably needs a little bit more support. So I'm going to reach out and hopefully you meet you.

Matt Miller (31:25):
Yeh that's good. And I think, I think, cause there's a tendency isn't there when you're creative is you're looking for collaboration more than friendship or even community, you know, there's loads of sites at the moment, like things like Daisy or The Dots where you can find, people's like collaborate with, like, you can find those people who are in the same stage career-wise or those you aspire to be like, and you know, play a project and say, Hey, I want to do this thing. But what we're talking about is the connection thing is community. I love what you said about what portion of life can you actually share with an individual. I think that's a really inspiring, helpful perspective to have on where we're all currently saying this space of isolation.

[Music]

Stephanie Alcaino (32:06):
Another question is, do you think it's important for us to reach out and get to know people connect with others that are quite different from us and outside of our industry? For example, is that something that we should be pursuing?

Jared Saar (32:20):
That's a good question. I feel like definitely if I think about just purely business and practically, I wouldn't want advisors that think exactly the same way I do. I don't want advisors that are like, you know, okay, fine. They're creative directors at the top of their field and their 10 years ahead of us and they're in their own industry. I think that's a good thing. Definitely. And they could give you quick snappy answers, but I want someone that thinks differently. That's going to challenge my way of thinking. We've got two advisors, but one of them is gonna come a little bit more hands-on for our business. She's just like business guru. Like she just...

Andy Khatouli (32:53):
She's like Yoda.

Jared Saar (32:54):
She's amazing. When she first came on to advise us really interesting stuff that you raised this point of like someone outside the industry, she really challenged, should we still be doing business or not? And that was one of the first questions because she was looking at the spreadsheets and we had these grand dreams and ambitions. And I think if you were in our industry, you probably would have gotten it. You probably would have been like, Oh yeah, cool. Cause I understand the industry, understand exactly what you're talking about. And I can see this, obviously it's good to have someone that gets all that, but she wasn't in the industry so much in our industry. So when she looked at the actual financial figures in the big, cute little Excel spreadsheets that I had made with no idea what I was doing that had great colours, but in terms of actually the data on that, she just reads it. And very quickly she was like, should you guys be doing this or not? Maybe it's time to push pause? Because she was asking like, look, it doesn't look great. What I'm saying, if you guys want to survive as a business, we need to do a lot of work. But actually I'm super grateful for that. She really challenged us. We ended up spending about three or four months just working again on the business structure and the plan where we didn't really land a client, which was really tough, actually. I think it was when I really knew that I had to, I had to grow up a lot, but because of it, I think despite COVID we still had quite a good year and this year, hopefully when we're talking about looking ahead and where next, with a bit more hands on help from her to take us to the next level. But if we didn't have someone that was outside of our group who really got the kind of ethereal stuff, we talk about purpose and all this kind of stuff, which she gets, but she's more like, okay, show me the story on an Excel spreadsheet for the next five years. Like how do you actually show that on the numbers? Cause that's where she reads it. So I think, yes, absolutely. We need different insights. But I'm talking more maybe for business perspective.

Matt Miller (34:35):
I think it was good. The other thing that you think about tomorrow with business's character and I think, you know, character has a lot to do with it. I think the reason people do business together is because of synergies and character maybe also, you know, vision. Does your vision or your mission align with mine? I think one of ours that we talk about is empathy. You have to really question your capacity to have empathy. If you're not engaging with people that are different from you, who are going to challenge you, you don't understand. And so I think on a friendship level, it's, it's probably important in order to increase your awareness, your empathy, or understanding your compassion as well, which I would say is a much more fulfilling connection to have on a personal level with someone when you're able to share and exchange those things for each other in the ways that I guess under your even talking about within community, I think you almost have to have people there that are different from you and you can decide, you know, how does a proximity, how close you do get to those people. But I think it's important. I think it's important to have those voices speaking to things that you're passionate about, that you're questioning to gain a perspective to potentially fall in love with those things as well. And being more grateful that you have that exposure to things in the world are inspiring. Motivating.

Andy Khatouli (35:44):
Yeah. I mean, I completely agree with the notion that you should not just surround yourself with people who just look like you, because all you get is a mirror reflection and you know, great little sort of parable teaching. If you love those who only love you back then, what good is it? To be honest, its a little bit arrogant. Isn't it? If you only hang out with people who look like you, who dress like you, who sound like you, because all you're suggesting is that you are the mould and there's no one else. There's room for cliques and close knit communities in the appropriate places. But if your whole life is just default and the people around you are defaults, then there's questions to be asked about, you know, where do you find value? How do you appreciate other people? Because for me, community is diversity. Its people from different groups and traditions and upbringings and life. And I think that should come into business that should come into every walk of life. You want diversity and that's something that's at the heart of our business as well. OSO (OneSixOne) that it is our aim to make sure that the people that work here represent the people that were reaching out to. That there is no kind of divide. There's no elitist in our studio. And unfortunately I have to say that, you know, a lot of the design world is elitist. It's about finding the best of ... who has probably had a more privileged upbringing and therefore can be the elite. And unfortunately for a lot of creative studios, they don't look for the odd ball. I like to think of us as like the guardians of the galaxy, you know, the misfits, the ones who've been rejected. Yet we all bring something so much more valuable when we work together. So yeah, I guess that's my dream to see the design world and the design industry, the photography world, the film world, whatever it is just to be impacted by a diverse expression.

Jared Saar (37:30):
That's what I'm trying to get men to K-dramas.

Andy Khatouli (37:33):
I think Andy, you raise a really good point and I find that quite interesting that within certain industries, they look for the experts, but really actually the most important people that we need to have around us are the novices because they are the ones that question everything. The experts are so embedded into process that we almost need people to come in and question how things are done in order to create something new and something fresh. I think Jared too, a lot of his credits leads us to some of the best ideas that we managed to evolve because he will throw in these wildcards out of nowhere that have nothing to do with what we're talking about. Even for us before Andy came along, he brought in a lot of the industry experience from the design worlds, but us three, who've never worked really in design studios to the extent that Andy has, we were like, wouldn't this be great as part of our process? And we're like, so pro Simon Sinek, and for some reason it has become embedded into our business model. And I think that's to some degree has worked for us because we haven't gone the traditional way of how agencies are set up kind of almost like worked backwards or just kind of threw in a few ingredients. For some reason has really worked for us. And then Andy came in and polished it up. And I do find it really exciting that when we bring people in, even one of our new hires, awesome guy who is our content creator, and he's amazing. He also questions a lot of things that to us is very like, Oh, this is how you do it. But he'll ask us 'but why?' And I love that because it actually forces us to question why we do things the way we do. Has it become just a habit or is there a new way that we could go about doing things within our business? And I think the danger of our algorithms and throwing into the landscape of the digital space... Does our algorithms become the reflections of ourselves? Does it help benefit and feed our creativity or our diversity in our communities? If our algorithms just try and find the things that we like. And doesn't actually challenge us with other things.

Andy Khatouli (40:19):
Absolutely, I know that, you know, as we've been talking about recruitment, for instance, so as we want to expand the team, it's my role to find junior designers or middleweight designers. One of the phrases I always use is fresh meat. And we're purposefully looking for someone who has that edge, who can offer something new to the table. And what we're actively looking for is someone who can teach us something new. So we don't want to just hire the next blank, fill the space person. But actually what we're looking for is something new, something different, something that will diversify us, something that will add a tool to the belt. So a lot of traditional structures is that you built like a pyramid. So you've got your kind of more experienced, more aged, more wiser directors at the top. And then you've got everyone else at the bottom. What we understand is that our business model is an upside down pyramid, which is that we serve at the bottom and we lift up everyone who is new. And we enable them because we realise that they are the most valuable asset to our business. Anyone who can bring in new ideas and fresh ideas. And some of that diversity will actually help us to grow and develop and become stronger. Whereas if we always see ourselves as the ones who come up with the ideas and instigate them, then we will slowly make our business stale. It's such a shame when you see businesses get to a point and they feel like, man, what's going wrong. Maybe we need to rebrand or refresh. And it's kind of changing that mentality to say, well, actually it's probably more to do with the culture. It's more about saying, who are we identifying as the most valuable asset to this company? Well, it's probably not us. It's not the directors is everyone knew who walks through those doors. Who's bringing something fresh to the team. And so we want to kind of put the emphasis.

Jared Saar (41:57):
Definitely it's a good point. Cause I think you Matt, you've written a blog post about this, about proximity and who's at the table, right?

Matt Miller (42:04):
Yeah.

Jared Saar (42:04):
Can you just quickly explain that idea? What you're talking about?

Matt Miller (42:07):
Yeah. It's a, it's on LinkedIn. Should anyone want to go read about it on OneSixOne LinkedIn profile. I think I was just becoming a bit frustrated with a lot of business response to things around black lives matter. It was all just talking about inclusion and having like an inclusion quota, which is basically just like hire more black and Brown people. And I didn't really feel like that was enough or really addressing some of the underlying issues.

Andy Khatouli (42:28):
Heretical structures.

Matt Miller (42:30):
Yeah. Just poor structures and unwillingness to learn, to actually stop and learn. It didn't really address how these structures come into play and how they're sustained. So my simple post is really around what I'm not seeing is anyone speaking on proximity and what that actually looks like, which isn't just even inclusion at the decision-making tier. So, you know, Oh, let's just get a black director in or a black this person in or head of diversity who happens to also be a black person or God forbid, you hire a head of diversity who is not a person of colour hiring people of colour. It was just strange. It was all strange. And so my thing was just a simple thought around what does it actually look like to surrender any fear you have? Or what feels comfortable? And actually make friends with people that don't look like you. Exactly what we're talking about right now, have those voices that are the other that you probably might even get offended by just because you actually haven't stopped to listen and be like, what is motivating you to be this upset or angry about this issue? Let me try and understand this because if it's upsetting for you, there's got to be some reason in it, whether it's right or wrong. Some I just think was around proximity was like, do you actually eat with people that don't look like you? And even in a business sense, like on your lunch break, who you go and sit with or do, you know, just simple things. So my thing was around proximity, are you at the table with people that look like are there and are those voices welcomed and given the same authority and weight and decision-making power as the voices that aren't.

Jared Saar (43:52):
I liked that because I was thinking when you said that, I think now whenever I see a slogan or something like that, it's interesting because you can ask yourself the question who was at the table, who made that idea. And when you think about when you, sometimes he can tell you who is at a table, so when you see something on TV or you see, you know, an ad slogan or an ad, you can very quickly pick up who was sitting there, who made the decision.

Stephanie Alcaino (44:15):
A good case study that we used, I think last year was the Pepsi ad with Kendall Jenner and how Pepsi had created an in-house agency. And the question was who was not there to vet this commercial to go out? Where everyone was saying, Oh, this is such a great idea. This is such great idea. When it just flopped internationally, because it didn't have the right sensitivity or terminology of "politically correctness". And I think Jared you're right in saying who is at that table. And that proximity is that if we are a homogenous group of people in one space who is there to vet and bring that sense of empathy of how it will be received by others, that don't look like the people in the room.

Matt Miller (45:03):
It seems like we spoke about a whole bunch of things spearheaded by this thought of where do we go from here? But if anyone listening, hopefully someone's listening. If anyone listening through the madness of us using Q sounds and goodness knows what else, if you've got thoughts, hopefully even better thoughts than whatever we've been talking about. Feel free to share it. I don't know how you even do that. Write comments, send us an email? Review it? DM us? Get in touch with us somehow.

Andy Khatouli (45:33):
The person to write us a letter gets a treat.

Matt Miller (45:35):
Yeah, no fair. If you can find our address and send us an actual letter. You get something. If you listen to this, write us a letter with your thoughts.

Stephanie Alcaino (45:47):
Or good questions.

Matt Miller (45:48):
Or good questions. Yeah. Cause we'd love to like riff off of it and hopefully it will challenge and inspire us as well.

[Music]

Matt Miller (45:55):
We're going to end this section of the podcast the way that we usually do, which is what's on our radar. If there's stuff that you find inspiring or you want to give a shout out to. So yeah, my thing this week is that a podcast called The Passenger List is coming back season two, which I'm very excited about because season one was incredible. I told Jared to listen to it. I know that he didn't.

Jared Saar (46:21):
I have a list of things you'd tell me to do, write down and the things I won't look at.

Matt Miller (46:28):
Basically The Passenger List is a podcast kind of thriller-y thing, which is not what I listen to usually. I usually just listen to people, talk about stuff, but this is really interesting. I really like it. It's really cool. It's about a plane that goes missing and a person's relative is on it and it's all about the conspiracy around it. so it's really, really cool. I literally told Jared about it like two years ago or something and I didn't know he hasn't listened to it, but anyway, it's sick. It's got Kelly Marie Tran, who is the voice of the main protagonist. And she is in Star Wars as Rose Tico, which was the first lead Southeast Asian actor in Star Wars. But she's also the voice of Raya in the Last Dragon, which is a new Disney film as well, which was also the first of that same ilk. So yeah. And that's coming back, it's going to be any week now. I'm really excited about that.

Andy Khatouli (47:23):
I'll do a quick one, actually a friend of mine, Tom, he pointed out something to me on some packaging this week yesterday in fact, which I thought was incredible. So I won't tell you what it is. I'll give you an indication of it. So you guys can have a little search yourself. So if anyone owns a Lyle & Sons tin in their cupboard, it's the golden syrup, you know, the classic green tin with the gold kind of details, go and look at the lion on the front of the tin. There's like a little inscription or something below it and go and research that. Cause it was really cool when my friend Tom was saying how it's a good kind of analogy for the year ahead.

Stephanie Alcaino (47:59):
Interesting! I think we've got a bottle, not a can.

Andy Khatouli (48:02):
It probably should be on there as well. It's really surprising when you see it.

Matt Miller (48:06):
Definitely got a tin lurking at the back there somewhere with some crusty marmite.

Jared Saar (48:12):
It's so true.

Stephanie Alcaino (48:14):
Golden syrup vs maple syrup there is no comparison.

Andy Khatouli (48:19):
Wait, which one would you go for? I'm confused.

Stephanie Alcaino (48:21):
Maple syrup all the way.

Matt Miller (48:21):
Maple syrup. But golden syrup, if you're making a sticky barbecue ribs, stick that bad boy in its the game-changer.

Andy Khatouli (48:29):
Matt knows about his ribs.

Jared Saar (48:31):
Steph?

Stephanie Alcaino (48:40):
For me as you guys all probably have figured it out. I'm a massive advocate for reading and goodreads.com, you can get an app on your phone. You can set up an account and set a reading list challenge. So basically it's like, you know, however many books you want to challenge yourself for reading and then you can tick them off as you go. But the best thing about that is that when you're having conversation and going, Oh, I'm just reading a really great book. Oh, what, what's it called again? You can actually have a look in the list that the book that you've just finished or currently reading. Yeah. I just am advocating to set yourself a reading list. Whether it be five books, 10 books, 50 books, however many you want. But yeah, I set my new challenge this year, which is 60 books. So we'll see how we go. I got to 54 last year, so we'll see what we can do a little bit more.

Andy Khatouli (49:36):
Do you ever do reviews on them?

Stephanie Alcaino (49:36):
I think only two books out of all the ones that I read that really deserved a review. I usually give stars, but these two books I went out of my way and wrote a little review.

Andy Khatouli (49:50):
Just added the Biff and chip collection.

Jared Saar (49:53):
What?

Stephanie Alcaino (49:53):
I'm so confused.

Matt Miller (49:53):
It's British thing. Biff, chip and kipper the dog.

Jared Saar (50:00):
Oh is it a book?

Matt Miller (50:00):
It's an early years book. No black people. No black characters in that bad boy.

Andy Khatouli (50:05):
We bought books for my son for Christmas this year. Obviously you can't read them yet, but they're all got classics and all of them are just white families.

Matt Miller (50:22):
Or caterpillars and animals, elephants.

Andy Khatouli (50:25):
Like a talking tiger. No diversity in those book.

Stephanie Alcaino (50:28):
Maybe you can write one?

Matt Miller (50:29):
Well, we had a conversation, but yeah, it's probably a bit long for this. We're doing the next one next episode.

Andy Khatouli (50:34):
Yeah, we'll do it in the next episode.

Jared Saar (50:35):
Okay for me. I'm going to go with last night, we watched Train to Busan. So we kind of trying to attempt more Korean movies now. And it's like basically a zombie apocalypse type movie and it's just mad and it's so it's really, really good. And I don't usually like zombie ones, but that was on my radar. And so if you like movies...

Stephanie Alcaino (51:21):
I think Matt might actually might like this one.

Jared Saar (51:35):
I think he will.

Andy Khatouli (51:36):
It reminds me of a film I watched on the plane back from New York.

Jared Saar (51:40):
Snakes on a..?

[Laughter]

Andy Khatouli (51:40):
It's a Japanese film where basically libraries have become like war zones. So like they're fighting over knowledge. So like the government burns all the books so that each library has its own sort of army that protects the library. And then the government are trying to destroy the libraries and the books. So that people's knowledge is limited.

Jared Saar (52:05):
That's actually, that's an interesting concept. So anyway, that's, that's on my radar. Sweet, it think that's it.

Matt Miller (52:47):
Guys, thanks for listening. See you next time.

Stephanie Alcaino (52:52):
The OneSixOne podcast was recorded at the Qube. Edited by Tim Steemson. Music by Meganeeko. And you can find us online at onesixone.co and follow us on Instagram at @onesixone.co. Thanks for listening.

References

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