Emerline Ji

Project Journal: Seoul Tribe (01)

Work & CareerEmerline JiComment

I'd say it's been about three and a half months now that I've actively spent time on Seoul Tribe. The very vague idea for it came about a year ago, but it wasn't until January of this year that we've started to post things on the website. And while I'm happy that we're past the often touted most difficult part (getting started), I'm nowhere near satisfied with the way it is right now. 

To document my thinking and process behind the project, I'm sharing little project journal updates like this one. There's no structure to these, just want to update what's been happening in my head or behind the scenes.

SO WHAT IS IT?

"Seoul Tribe is an experiment." I've said this to multiple people whenever the time came to start describing it. The reason was that I obviously didn't know what it really was and had a hard time explaining it to others. All I could justify was that I always had an itch to start something like Seoul Tribe and that I was just starting to explore where it was coming from and how I could scratch it. And... I've been comfortable with talking about it as an experiment because it's always easier and more comfortable to stay within those bounds.

The one thing that has changed between now and last year is that a framework of sorts has finally been applied to the vague ideas. We wrote some copy for the about page. We started a newsletter, started blogging, curating playlists, and just recently conducted our first interview with a creative in NYC. And I realized - "Oh, there are moving parts now. Crap. What do I do now? How I feed these things in a consistent and smart way?" 

I let these questions sit in the back of my mind over the past few days. I procrastinated on getting to the bottom of them because I knew it meant I'd need to spend a lot of time wrestling with formulating relevant answers... and I wasn't sure where to begin in unraveling the pain points. 

FROM EXPERIMENT TO PROJECT

I believe in serendipity and that luck often works in mysterious ways, especially when it comes to epiphanies of all sizes. I also believe though that with the right amount of intention and actions, we can create promising conditions for those moments to occur more often than normal. These two beliefs are what I accredit a lot of the lucky moments I've had in the past few years. 

This past Friday, my colleagues and I executed another successful CreativeMornings/New York event at the Parsons School of Design. The speaker was Refinery29's Executive Creative Driector & Co-founder, Piera Gelardi. In her talk, PIera talked a lot about creating your own unique conditions for creativity. That is, regularly and intentionally placing yourself in settings and with people that will most likely help bring about creative breakthroughs. 

Coincidentally: After the event, I met up with a friend of mine in the city to work remotely for the rest of the day from a rented Breather space we'd booked prior to hearing the talk. There were a few projects and tasks I'd been wanting to make a lot of progress on and I wanted to do it in a quiet, secluded, and focused space with a time limit. A real life example of Piera's talk — creating the right conditions for progress and success.

In that room, I wrote my way through some pain points I'd been having in certain projects. I searched for resources and tools online to better solve some of the problems. During the search, I remembered a list of questions by Seth Godin that my colleague Paul would often talk about and use. You can see the questions here. The questions helped me immensely. And the last two sentences of the post kind of stung: "Successful project organizers are delighted to engage in a conversation about all of these questions. If you're hiding from them, it's time to find out why."

I'm quickly learning that these hard questions need to be addressed and thought about as early on as possible in any project. The longer I wait to answer the hard questions, the messier the work gets. 

Seoul Tribe is no longer just an experiment, it is a real project with questions that need to be explored. It has a rough framework, it has contributors, it has people who are excited about it, it has a (small yet active) audience, and it has little products that get shipped. And... it just might be able to fill a gap that wants to be filled.

Will report back how answering the hard questions change the way I look at Seoul Tribe