This edition of TrendWatch holds observations about topics and brands including Lego, air travel, chatbots, Chinese mobile payments and Google.

There’s also a slide linking to information about Costco’s ‘end of the world’ food kits, top food trends for 2018 and a company that’s making realistic fake leather out of mushrooms.

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The December edition of TrendWatch is full of observations about topics and brands such as Airbnb, Uber, aviation, biohacking and biofuel, to name a few.

It’s designed to encourage ideas that go beyond the focus of our day-to-day work, and by asking relevant questions, being better prepared for the future. Enjoy and have a safe and happy festive season!

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TrendWatch September 2017

In my spare time I read about all sorts of topics. The number of browsers open at any one time on my computer is unsettling to some! But I love it. I love learning about things that are completely removed from what I would normally see every day. Things that other people are working on, benefiting from, or learning from. Things that make a difference, help us achieve our objectives and improve our lives. Ideas that can be potentially applied to other industries and give us insights into changing business models. The topics range from physics to health products, environment to aerospace.

Today I am sharing a new passion project called TrendWatch. It’s bi-monthly news on technology, trends, hot topics, communication, creativity and innovation.

It’s designed to encourage ideas that go beyond the focus of our day-to-day work, and by asking relevant questions, being better prepared for the future. I hope you enjoy and take something useful from it, and I welcome your feedback.

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Lessons from moving away, and coming home

In January 2011 I moved to Sydney, and wrote a post about my first impressions of living in Australia. I’ve now been back in Auckland for three months and have learnt a few things from moving away, and coming home again.



We don’t need much stuff
Packing to move away was one thing, but packing to return to New Zealand was a whole different story. I got rid of SO. MUCH. STUFF. We really don’t need much, and for those of us who are likely to move again in the future, the idea of accumulating lots of things is a not an attractive one.

You adapt to your environment 
When I first arrived in Sydney, ordering a ‘trim cap’ in a Kiwi accent just didn’t cut it. So, I soon found myself asking for a ‘skinny cap’ to be understood. This conscious change gradually spilt over to most words that contained ‘i’ or ‘e’ sounds. Having lived in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, I also found myself starting yoga, spending my weekends in gym gear, making green smoothies and eating kale chips.

You’re not afraid of spiders anymore
After close encounters with orb and huntsman spiders, a daddy long legs has about the same scare power as an ant.

You gain a new level of independence
Time alone and distance from people who shaped your thoughts historically leads to a new level of independent thinking. You meet people whose backgrounds are significantly different to yours, and gain insights from environments you’d never been exposed to.

You are who you spend time with
As the quote goes, ‘you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with’. Thanks to my flatmates Claire, Jo and Nicole, I became a little more driven, manicured, fashionable and motivated in the kitchen. And I mean manicured in the literal sense – weekend brunching and walks to the nail salon are some of life’s simple pleasures!

You become an expert in communication
Most of your good friends and loved ones aren’t in the same time zone and you may only see them a few times a year, if that. But with a bit of juggling, keeping in touch when apart is easy with Skype, Whatsapp, Facebook and Snapchat. But you have to plan for it.

You get better at asking for things
Kiwis are generally agreeable and like to go with the flow. Australians are generally better at piping up about their expectations and things they want. Well – they’re better at piping up in general! But this forward confidence is admirable and is a useful characteristic to have.

Special friends become your family
When times are tough or there’s reason to celebrate, your flatmates, workmates and closest friends become your family. They’re there for support, for festivities and for adventures. Personal relationships are what life’s about.

Your priorities change over time
My time in Sydney was phenomenal. I wouldn’t change a thing. It contained some of the most challenging moments, but also some of the most enjoyable. It was a great time but about a year ago I realised that my priorities were changing and my environment needed to change as well. And that was a lesson in itself – to be aware of your evolving needs and changing the things that aren’t working for you anymore.

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‘Hot cross bun’ Easter balls

Two years ago I made Raw Chocolate and Nut Easter Cups. This year’s healthy treat recipe is much simpler and faster!

It takes inspiration from the flavours of the hot cross bun, but is free of gluten and refined sugar (bar the dark chocolate).

To make about 20 you’ll need:
1 cup of sultanas
Rind of one orange
3 tablespoons orange juice
Just enough whiskey to soak the sultanas
250 grams almond meal
4 tablespoons cacao
6 tablespoons natural maple syrup
30 grams dark chocolate, chopped finely and another 20 grams for garnishing
Sprinkles of cinnamon and nutmeg
A dash of vanilla essence


1) Chop the sultanas and soak in whiskey for about 2 hours – use just enough whiskey to cover them.
2) Mix all the ingredients together and stir in the maple syrup gradually – I used rough estimates of some of the ingredients so you may need more or less. Use a fork to combine well.
3) Roll into balls a little smaller than a golf ball.
4) Make crosses with a blunt knife. If you have some desiccated coconut, put some in the grooves of a few of them.
5) Lay the balls on a plate and garnish with chopped dark chocolate, cinnamon, sultanas and a little Easter bunny!

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Do we need to redefine ‘terrorism’?

The continuing revelations about the Germanwings incident and the condition of the co-pilot allegedly responsible have amassed the attention of people around the world.

The airline industry has been a constant in my life. My mother worked for the Argentinean airline, Aerolineas Argentinas before we moved to New Zealand in 1989. In Auckland she started with Air New Zealand and has been there since. My first marketing role out of university was at Singapore Airlines, where I worked for three and a half years. In a public relations capacity I saw first-hand the level of preparation and care that goes into planning for the worst possible outcomes – in part to salvage a brand, but predominantly to provide the highest level of information and support to the grieving families of victims affected by air disasters.

Many of my colleagues had experienced the devastation of Singapore Airlines’ regional carrier, SilkAir’s Flight 185* incident in 1997, which the inquest deemed to be a ‘murder-suicide’. They had also experienced the Singapore Airlines Flight 006^ accident in 2000, which killed 83 of 179 occupants on board. The latter was found to be the result of pilot error.

No matter the reason, the outcome bears the same pain – loss of valuable life, loss of assets and the incomprehensible grief of the victims’ loved ones. With that grief comes a human need for justice. WHO was responsible? HOW could this have been avoided? WHY weren’t better measures in place?

Reactions to the Germanwings incident has seen hasty opinions, conspiracies, accusations and an unforgivable lack of humanity. The abhorrent display by some Spanish people “hoping there were more Catalans on board” is one such example. (1)

More prominent is the reaction to German authorities dismissing terrorism as the cause of the act. (2) “So if the pilot was Muslim, it’s terrorism. But because he was a white European, it must be mental illness.”(3)

NO, it is never ideal to jump to conclusions based on ethnicity, religion, gender or age. But is it correct to label every mass murder disaster as terrorism?

An article on Quartz (4) by human rights, geopolitics and post-colonialism journalist, Jake Flanagin says, “Few clear, official, transnational definitions of international terrorism actually exist…which makes this new information about the Germanwings crash difficult to qualify.” (The “new information” referring to the revelation that the aircraft was crashed with intent). The common thread in the multiple existing definitions that do exist “is that terrorism isn’t random; it makes a point. Whether that point is Islamist, anti-Muslim, Christian fundamentalist, anti-government, it is one that compels, coerces, influences policy or conduct. In other words, the nature of the act’s point is extraneous, but there has to be a point.”

Mental illness should not be overshadowed by the word ‘terrorism’. December’s Lindt cafe hostage situation in Sydney was subsequently defined as “a rare mix of extremism, mental health problems and plain criminality.” (5) What gave this incident the initial labelling of ‘terrorism’ so swiftly was not the name of the man responsible (which we only discovered later) – it was the paraphernalia that he used during the crime.

The definition of terrorism is complex: it can relate to violence and threats for ideological or political purposes, but the term ‘terrorist’ can also refer to ‘a person who terrorises or frightens others’, and ‘to produce widespread fear’. Professor James Ogloff, a psychologist and the director of Swinburne University of Technology’s Centre for Forensic Behavioural Science says that the Germanwings incident has a crucial difference to a lone suicide: “The difference is there’s a total disregard for the fact other people are going to be affected, or there is a degree of resentment that’s driving it. It’s usually very unlikely that a suicidal person wants to take out others, especially strangers. In these sorts of cases, people are either particularly resentful and angry against society broadly, or against a particular organisation.” (6)

Flying a plane into a mountain is a terrifying act, no doubt about it. Did it happen because of a severe mental instability, or did it happen to prove a point? We don’t know yet.

In his article, Jake Flanagin comments that we, humans, have a need to find reason amidst chaos. That we search for an explanation, even when a situation is so extreme, that we cannot imagine what the narrative could be – “mass murder without an immediately apparent point is all the more confounding.”

Labelling events that we are still in the process of investigating and understanding is only human. We do it from an innate compulsion to band together with our friends, so we’re stronger against the antagonists. We do it because we are communicators and it’s our nature to narrate. But should we not refrain from assigning motive and responsibility until we have the evidence? The media – the ones who tell the stories and control the narrative – should lead the way. And it should be ok to say, “We just don’t know yet.”


* Wikipedia: SilkAir Flight 185
^ Wikipedia: Singapore Airlines Flight 006
(1) National Post: Spain to investigate online insults of Catalan victims who died aboard crashed Germanwings flight
(2) Quartz: Why authorities were so quick to dismiss terrorism as the cause of the Germanwings crash
(3) International Business Times: Germanwings crash pilot ‘should be called a terrorist’
(4) Quartz: The Germanwings crash wasn’t just suicide, it was mass murder (originally titled ‘Suicide or terrorism – what should we call the Germanwings crash?
(5) Sydney Morning Herald: Sydney siege report: Biggest question left unanswered in review
(6) Sydney Morning Herald: Germanwings plane crash: Murder-suicide usually involves psychopathy or psychosis: experts

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Hope for the best, prepare for the worst? No!

That old adage, ‘Hope for the best, prepare for the worst’ needs updating, don’t you think?

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Guest post: How my marriage ended

Sometimes we have words and emotions that we want to share, but we don’t. Maybe because the emotions are incredibly raw and we feel we may be exposing too much of ourselves. Maybe because the truths we are admitting to are painful for ourselves and the ones we have loved. 

Today’s post is an anonymous contribution by a wonderfully talented and courageous friend who made an enormous life decision this year. A decision that many people consciously choose to never make.

She shares her experience of separating from her husband, and the lessons that arose from this immense change. Reading the words below fill me with two things: the first is a bittersweet comfort in knowing that we humans all face similar challenges, and the second is a great deal of admiration for my friend. 

The world doesn’t always need to know about your inner turmoil.

So it’s been many months since I shared my writing publicly. But now, I feel like I’ve emerged from a very tough time, and have found my voice again. And it’s telling the story of how my marriage ended. I don’t know if there are lessons in it for anyone else. But I do know that when I was uncertain and adrift, it was comforting to know that others had trodden the same path before me.


Separating from my husband three months ago was not the catalyst for the crisis; the crisis was a long, slow unraveling of a formerly happy marriage.

I left when I was out of options and out of love. The best advice I received, from two of the most trusted mentors in my life, was this: don’t leave until you’ve tried everything you can do to make it work. You’ll know when you reach that point.

These two wise men knew that in moments of guilt and doubt and fear, the anchor that would keep me weighted down – sane and resolved – was the firm belief that this was the right, and the only, decision.

My husband rails against his lack of agency in this process. He says it fits the paradigm of our marriage, where I controlled everything. He says I can’t imagine the way that feels. I don’t deny this.

But being the one to make the decision – the leaver, not the ‘leavee’ – carries with it a different type of anguish.

And he underestimates the lack of control I felt as our marriage disintegrated. The times I tried to get through to him, to break through a carapace of emotional disengagement and distance.

Like a moth that hurls itself against the window, over and over, trying to reach the light inside, I tried everything I could think of to reach him, when he had stopped feeling anything much at all. Depressed, embittered, exhausted – I think he was all of these things. I feel for him, and his pain, which he has only just recognised, and is now trying to address.

But sadly, you can’t hurl yourself forever without getting tired and demoralised yourself. When someone stops engaging with you emotionally, at some point, you’ll do the same.

This is what they call ‘falling out of love’. A brief and prosaic description for a long and painful process.

Three months ago, I intervened in this process. To say ‘I left’ seems such a brief and inadequate description. It fails to express the intensity of emotion involved in reaching that decision, and then in carrying it out.

It’s not a new story – in fact it’s so common that it seems like a cliché. And yet I plumbed depths of sadness and guilt and tears that were hitherto unknown to me.

As all unhappy families are unhappy in their own way, every marriage breakdown is momentously and uniquely painful in its own way.


Here I am, three months later. It’s my birthday. I’m officially closer to 40 than 30. In my lighter moments I call myself a divorcée – I like the French emphasis, suggesting something scandalous about a woman who has left the confines of marriage.

My life has changed fundamentally. I swapped the house in the suburbs for an inner-city apartment. I own about a quarter of the ‘stuff’ I used to – much of it left behind, much of it given away. I spend more time out and less time doing domestic things.

I feel lighter. Yes, happier. It’s partly the satisfaction of certainty, after spending so long with one foot out the door, one eye on the world outside.

I’m probably a little more selfish, as I only have myself to worry about. I’ll construe that as ‘nurturing myself’ for the time being.


I’ve been amazed and touched by the kindness and generosity of the people around me. Friends, family and colleagues have been so supportive. Help has come from unexpected quarters. People are wonderful.

In my darker moments this year, I wondered if I had the courage to do this – to leave. When that happened, I would invoke the spirit of my great-grandmother, who literally ran way from home in 1923, leaving a narrow and lonely life on a farm with her father and her ‘illegitimate’ child, to start a new life with my great-grandfather.

I’ve read the letter she wrote to her father in explanation, and her pain is palpable. She can’t imagine decades stretching ahead in this lonely life, and yet she acutely feels the pain she will cause to those left behind.

She left anyway.

I never met her, so I’ll never know if she believed that she made the right decision. But I draw on her courage and spirit. And at this moment, I feel like I’m in the right place for me.

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No-bake Christmas rum balls

It’s the first of December! The first day of summer is here and now the countdown is on to Christmas so I thought I’d share a tasty recipe for those planning their menus in advance.

These rum balls are divine and can be adapted to suit different dietary requirements. Note that the quantities are indicative – I made these last year and didn’t measure the quantities out, but in short, use lots of rum!

To make about 20 you’ll need:
1 cup of sultanas
5 dates – pitted and broken into pieces
1/2 cup rum
100 grams almond meal
1/3 cup desiccated coconut and a little extra for rolling
4 tablespoons cacao
1 tablespoon honey
4 sponge finger biscuits, broken into rough chunks (or you could use arrowroot biscuits or similar)
1 block of chocolate for melting – I use Nestlé Plaistowe 70%

1) Soak the sultanas and dates in rum for at least 2 hours. The longer, the better!
2) Mix the coconut, cacao and biscuit chunks together.
3) Drain the sultanas and dates, but leave a few tablespoons of rum, and process until a rough pulp forms. It won’t need long – you want it rough.
4) Mix the sultana and date mix with the dry ingredients, and stir in a tablespoon of honey.
5) Mix really well, and taste to see if it needs anything extra.
6) Roll into balls slightly smaller than golf ball size.
7) Roll in the leftover coconut.
8) Melt the chocolate in bain marie.
9) Dip/coat some of the balls in the chocolate, lay the balls out on a plate, and drizzle the rest of the chocolate on all of them to decorate. Add strawberries or other garnishes if you like.

To make this gluten-free: skip the biscuit or use a gluten-free option
To make this sugar-free: leave out the chocolate and use a cacao and coconut oil mix to glaze
To add more texture: add chopped nuts
To make this nut-free: Leave out the almond meal, use more coconut

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Grandma on life, ageing, young people, musicians and more

In late August I spent some time with my grandparents in Argentina.

My Mum’s Mum, Dora, lives in a city about an hour’s flight north of Buenos  She is a healthy, active, clever and witty woman, and on this visit I transcribed some of our conversations  because they made me laugh, smile or think. Here are some of them!

Grandma on Facebook
Me: “Guess what, grandma! Our photo got over a hundred likes on Facebook, and lots of nice comments from my friends. They said that you’re beautiful!”
(Show her Facebook on my phone)
Grandma: “Ahhh, how nice! And what is this? Some kind of club?”
Me: “Kinda, it’s an online network for all your friends to connect to.”
Grandma: “Oh it’s like a website where your friends meet!”

Me and Grandma

Grandma on convenience and frugality
“I just go to the closest shops. I don’t have time to go to the markets where the food is cheaper. Back in the day when the girls were young, yes. Because it’s important to save money to give your children the best opportunities. Which we did as much as we could. For example, when they went to study in the United States, that was a great opportunity for them. But then it came back and got the best of me because they liked the world and moved far away to Australia and New Zealand!”

Grandma on life’s balance
“Everything has its good and its bad. That’s what life is about.”

Grandma on housing and eyeballs
“The houses that you can have in Australia and New Zealand, well, if you wanted ones like that here you have to pay with an eyeball, and then another eyeball. And if you have an extra eyeball, they’ll take that one, too!”

Housing Cartoon

Grandma on the newspaper
Grandma: “The newspaper is skinny today! It’s on a diet!”
Me: “Why is it so thin?”
Grandma: “Well, everything is skinnier in this country now. They’re cutting down on everything these days!”

Grandma on the media
“Here you go, you can read the paper, if you want to get depressed!”

Grandma on talking about other people
“We should never say too much about other people. Everyone lives in their own world and we can never presume to understand them or their lives the way we each understand our own.”

Grandma on age
Grandma: “How old am I?”
Me (jokingly): “Ninety-four.”
Grandma: “You little cheeky one! No I’m not!”
Me: “Haha, no, I’m kidding, you’re a bit less than that! But I reckon you will live till a hundred.”
Grandma: “One hundred! Oh no, that’s too much! I know some people my age who say a hundred is too much, but that they’ll happily live to ninety-five. Really, ninety-five, a hundred, what’s the difference at that stage of the game?!”

Grandma on getting older versus dying
“Oh gosh, I forgot to do that. See what happens at this age? You forget. It’s one of the burdens of getting older. But then, the only cure for not getting older is death, and that’s no good to us!”

Grandma on love
“When I met your grandfather I wasn’t the only girl he was chasing, oh I know that much! But I’m the only one who gave in, after a while of course! I joked with him that I was his prize for perseverance!”
NB: My grandpa passed away when I was about three, and he remains my grandma’s one and only love.

Grandma on young people
“I think young people these days have too much happening. People are rushed and busy. There’s too much. Things were simpler back in my day.”

Grandma on being hungry
(Waiting for our meals to arrive): “Gosh, where are our schnitzels? They’re really making us wait! You’re going to look like a sandwich to me soon. Or a chicken drumstick! You know, like in the cartoons, when they’re hungry, everything looks like a chicken drumstick!”


Grandma on wine
Grandma: “Do you want some wine with lunch?”
Me: “Sure, why not!”
Grandma: “Ah, see, you’re definitely my granddaughter!”

Grandma on film
Me: “Did you know, you were born the same year as Stanley Kubrick?”
Grandma: “Ahhh yes, and what a great man he was! Many amazing achievements and cinematography firsts. That Space Odyssey: 2001 – what a film!”

Grandma on superstition and space travel
Grandma: “Which way did you fly to get here?”
Me: “I went from Sydney to San Francisco first, then came here via Houston.”
Grandma: “Ahhh, Houston! What movie was that from?”
Me: “Apollo 13 – ‘Houston, we have a problem’.”
Grandma: “And what was the problem again? But seriously, if my spaceship was called Apollo 13, you wouldn’t see me travel in it even to the end of the street!”

Grandma on musicians
“My father didn’t really let me go to dances when I was young. You see, for a while he was a musician and played in a band, so I think he knew what musicians were like and he didn’t want his daughter to have anything to do with that, haha!”

Sexy Bach


Housing cartoon from here.
Garfield cartoon from here.

Sexy Bach image from Quickmeme.

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