In The Spotlight: The Man Who Aces Multi-tasking
For the past interviews, we have (coincidentally) spoken to women. This time round, we let a guy take the limelight and (surprise, surprise!) he bowls us over with a skill that women are supposedly known to be better at. What does this guy do which keeps us in awe? Read to find out!
His gentle demeanour is an untrue façade of the amount of energy in him. Lawrens is almost like a can of Coca-Cola: shake him (tickle his brains) and the goodness explodes from within (his creative juices, super energy and passion rocket blasts!). As a person who wears multiple hats, I really take my hat off him (pun unintended) on how he manages different roles, be it a father, son, husband, creative guy, own boss at Idea Edge Group, entrepreneur cum designer for upcoming apparel label, Teesaurus, cooking for the family, and everything in between!
So I prepared my questions for him which he promptly acknowledged during lunchtime and says he will work on them over the weekend (I felt bad that this was going to take some time away from his family time…) but woah! His full reply came later in the evening in full sentences, no less. I’m A-M-A-Z-E-D!!
Hello Lawrens! We know you’re such a busy man. Can you share with us what’s brewing lately?
Hey Dee, glad to be here with you. It has been an exciting year for us! We have recently won two international awards for logo design categories and we are very proud of our team for it!
Right now we are working on an awesome project with a new client which involves dressing up a classroom! How cool is that? It’s for a fire simulation training clientele and a whole new paradigm to me. It’s very exciting to know there is such an industry around and I can’t wait to seriously experience how it feels like to be in the action! They inspire the firefighters by replicating real life situations to equipped them with experiences. We are taking on the entire creatives from the concept to the copywriting and the artworks, as well as the final execution!
Early this year we completed a media kit for Post-it® Big Pads. The idea was about a surprise of epic proportions! Everything you see is simply upsized! We had to customise a 16″ x 16″ pizza box to fit everything! We proposed to have giant cookies to strengthen the core idea! In the media kit are giant fact sheets, giant chocolate and strawberry sticks, humongous big pads, sample packs and tabs! Everything was handmade thus it was not easy but the end results were really satisfying! The entire team, client and the supporting agencies had so much fun doing this project!
At Idea Edge, we are in the midst of launching our very own apparel brand, “Tee-saurus”, a tongue in cheek name that focuses on humour and wit. This project actually started last year with several brainstorming sessions on how to kickstart the brand and new business. Our very own logo – A T-Rex fossil. How do we make the logo communicate the brand story? How do we tell others what we are about? The idea was simple: we replaced the dinosaur sockets with apparel icons – a shirt, singlet, shorts, and caps! The results were amazing much like a hidden message within!
What can you look forward to from Tee-saurus? Focusing on single colour icon designs that is like no other. From family themed tees to our very own dinosaur themes. There is also a twist to our very own collection we call the Good Luck Series, which is largely based on interesting facts, auspicious elements and a dose of geomancy. There’s nothing superstitious about these collections; basically meant to be fun and believed to bring luck to the wearer. The next upcoming collection would encompass the most distinct graphic of all: The “Kirin”. Stylised to fit the modern world, it’s going to be one that would differ from others. In addition, we are submitting our Tee-saurus branding for an awards show and it will be a good platform for exposure!
With your fingers dipped into so many stuff, how do you REALLY manage?
I love multi-tasking and it’s probably one of the traits I have. I can juggle a number of projects on hand anytime. But if I have to speak the truth. I know my weakness. My excitement for a project dies quite quickly so I have to make up for it by allocating timeslots so I would not get tired of the project. Once I think I am maxed out for one particular project, I skip to the other and vice versa. Luckily, my brain still remembers where I left off.
To me, the most important way to manage myself and time is to know my weakness and improvise on it. Then prioritise and set the pace.
What’s a typical day like for you?
Firstly and most importantly, I need a super good morning coffee to start the day and will get coffee for the crew too. I usually go to the office earlier so I can do some personal admin, say about 30 mins. After that, I set the agenda and schedule for the day. What needs to be looked into, progress of work, outstanding jobs, am I on track of what I aim to achieve in the month? How is the welfare of my crew? I would have all these planned and mapped out, then I would talk to my crew about the jobs and progress. We will then work from there.
I love lunches, as that’s the best way to interact with the crew. You’ll be surprised we would walk miles just for a lunch exploration and new food haunts! So far the record was a good 20 mins to our intended makan places! When the lunch coma kicks in, we will go for a nice coffee break, and sometimes prata or a light snack. I believe in having some breaks so that we can focus better and it creates a happier working environment for everyone.
We don’t have any rule (spoken or unspoken) for staying late. Only work late when there are things to be completed. There’s no point in working so late and the next day you come back feeling demoralised and that weight snowballs. In the long term, you will suffer a burnout. Evenings are supposed to be spent with your loved ones and being relaxed. I believe more in efficiency; if we are always working very late, that only proves something. Is there something wrong with the work system? Though for me, I work round the clock, I do have my own routines – there are some days which are blocked out permanently.
Wednesday nights: That’s where my little one, Clarice, stays at her grandma’s place. This allows my wife and I to spend quality time together as a couple.
Thursday nights: Termed as “Creative Thursdays”; where Clarice and I go through some English materials. This is where we establish interesting ways to bring her through her lessons e.g. Guess the drawing, etc.
Sunday is my family day. So there’s strictly no work at all. Not even permitted to think about it.
How has being your own boss changed your life or changed your perspective in life?
I spent a good 7 years in a boutique agency and I must say it was a challenging and exciting experience – I started from a visualizer to an art director and I have never regretted being in the company. I was exposed to idea conceptualising, print, interactive, copywriting, art directing, storyboarding, ATL/BTL, television commercials, corporate videos and lots more. It was then I was offered to take the leap of faith with investors. Perhaps it was time I stepped out of my comfort zone. To see the world.
They were keen to get me onboard. I agreed but I did tell them I will be starting from scratch and earn clients with my own hands. In less than two months, they pulled the trigger, confiscated the earnings and demanded me to pay for the losses. At the same time, I lost my twins’ through a miscarriage. Everything turned grey. It was a big blow to me, personally and financially.
When everything seemed dark, I was lucky there were clients and friends, especially my wife and family who pulled me back. I have clients who gave me a pat on my back to say “we are behind you”. They helped me go through this ordeal. Though the beginning was really challenging, the most rewarding prize was the bond of friendships. That was when I founded Idea Edge Communications, an agency that believes in creating core ideas for advertising and graphic design. I want to pride ourselves as an agency that does only good work and nothing else. I believe in fostering partnerships. I believe in creating experience. I believe ideas are the soul to any design related services. And most importantly, I believed in passion. Here I met awesome people from all walks of life. One by one the things that I lost were slowly coming back. They taught me about what life was all about. And it added colours and vibrancy to this journey. And the more people I met, the more lessons I learnt. I used to create only ads, but now we have done retail design, ads, magazine / newspaper design, publications, branding identity, and so much more.
The world is truly a bigger place. There’s so much more to learn, to discover, more grounds to break and explore. Make the BEST of your fall, for you will gain more than what you lose. Have the courage to pick yourself up and keep going forward. In a personal point of view, being self-employed allows me to see things in a broader perspective. And most importantly, always have a plan ahead of you. Plan your route with foresight, its possible flaws and always have a backup plan. When it comes to work, raise the bar every time you conquer a new level. I always go by a belief: When you leave a company, leave a legacy.
How would your wife describe you in 3 words?
Expect the unexpected. In short, I’m a cockroach. I don’t die.
What do you do during your free time?
Woo! I have two passions in life. Work and cooking! When I have the spare time I love to destress myself by spending time in the kitchen, experimenting and dishing out recipes!
Sometimes it’s good to think of ideas to spice up your relationship. Especially when you have a child. You need to constantly let your loved one know that life don’t only revolve about your child. You still need to let your half know that you appreciate her. So during our anniversary, I do plan out some surprises.
For example on our 14th anniversary, I lined up the words “Happy 14 Years” on our bed to give her a surprise when she came home. We went on to visit Titanic the exhibition which tied in very well with our anniversary. And we were given real names of the passengers onboard the ship; you will have to check if you have survived! at the end of the exhibtion. It was then we saw a frame of a very romantic couple who decided to end their lives together. If you remember the scene (top view) of a couple holding their hands when the water rushes in. It was that couple! We enjoyed the exhibition but I did not “survive”. Doris did! Our day was followed by a good dinner at Sky on 57.
Do share with us what motivates you.
The constant urge to break new grounds! I’m a passion-driven enthusiast so I guess whenever I see entrepreneurs who do everything with passion, I’m all hyped up!
The other would be my family. My wife, Doris, who has always been there for me since 1998, and our lovely 6 year old Clarice. My wife would always keep me on track and helps steer my direction. She’s very good with numbers so we make a great team!
Any tips for those who often times find that time is not on their side?
Well, it’s not an excuse. There is always time you can always set aside. It’s just a matter of whether you want it to happen or not.
What does Idea Edge and Tee-saurus mean to you?
These companies are testaments to what passion can achieve. They are not businesses, they are part of a learning journey. And especially for Tee-saurus, I want it to be a source of inspiration for people to take the first step to pursuing their dreams. Dreams don’t die unless you let them. So, set out to achieve your dreams. Plan it out. See it through. Stand up if you fail. Persevere. Plan. Breakthrough. Don’t rush in blindly. I’ve learnt my lesson, you don’t have to.
About Idea Edge Communications:
Idea Edge Group is an idea centric design and advertising company. We love creating masterpieces, crafted with excellence and that extra touch of magic.
We specialize in idea conceptualization and mostly in print design. From below-the-line collaterals to logo and branding as well as advertising, we also do point-of-purchase designs, television commercials and corporate videos. We always believe having a core idea is the source to creating arms that can be adapted into various medias. Afterall, we are ideaholics!
Tee-saurus: Like us on www.fb.com/teesaurusproject
Lawren’s personal culinary page: www.fb.com/Dechefpage
It’s not hard to see how passion and determination can get one through challenging times, and being able to excel in his forte. With so much to do and only that much time, we are oftentimes too caught up with the tasks at hand. Thank you, Lawrens, for sharing useful tips on time management and how to be able to do more. Every month under In the Spotlight, we speak to inspiring folks who share their experiences and tips with the rest of us. If you know someone who deserves his/her time to shine and be a source of motivation, do drop us a line!