Peter Mandeno and Lizzie Shupak – Founders of the Global Lifestyle Project

The two Global Lifestylers, Peter Mandeno and Lizzie Shupak, from New Zealand and the UK respectively, have spent their careers generating ideas and bringing them to life.

As a Creative Director in the fields of Marketing, Concept Development, Design and Entertainment, Peter has spent more than a decade exploring the global creative landscape, living in Copenhagen, London, Amsterdam and most recently New York. His desire to avoid complacency and constantly challenge himself with new ideas, people and cultures, led him to conceive the Global Lifestyle Project, to explore this existence, and make it possible for others to similarly embrace it. He founded the international food-oriented social network Wok+Wine to rapidly build a global group of super-connected individuals.

Lizzie has spent her career at the nexus of social innovation, technology & entrepreneurship, working in both for and non profit sectors as a business and brand strategist. Since graduating from Cambridge University with a somewhat unlikely degree in Theology and Religious Studies, she has pursued her academic interest in how particular ideas or systems cause people behave in certain ways, most recently as a visiting research at Columbia University’s Institute for Social and Economic Policy and Research. Moving from London to New York, leaving behind a place at law school, to pursue a career in communications strategy, Lizzie spent years battling her constant desire to change her horizon, move beyond her comfort zone and be challenged by new people, places and ideas.

Since collaborating with Peter to launch the Global Lifestyle Project, she has found a way to turn this battle into a positive and valuable lifestyle choice. Together they are defining new ways for creative, entrepreneurial professionals to live and collaborate, while exploring emerging ideas concerning ownership, identity and productivity.

What are you working on right now?

We’re launching the Global Lifestyle Project website, which will be a repository of information about global living, the new trend towards hybrid-thinking, and our own experiences of the global lifestyle experience. We’re also launching Wok+Wine in New Zealand and Australia, preparing for the next Wok+Wine world tour, and exploring ways to use the event format as an ideation tool, beyond a straightforward social experience. Every day we challenge ourselves to come up with a new concept, mostly as a creative exercise. The problem is that most of them turn out to be pretty compelling, so we might start prototyping some of those as well!

3 trends that excite you?

1) Global Living
2) Collaborative Consumption
3) Social Entrepreneurship & activism

How do you bring ideas to life?

We’re actually finessing that process at the moment. It always starts with being able to articulate the idea clearly, so that someone else can understand it easily. Invariably there are colored pens and mind-maps involved as we move from concept to finished product, but it all boils down to just getting something out there, no matter how rough and ready, and then use an iterative approach to fine-tune and produce something that’s functioning at 100%. It’s always good to have a group of testers, or people who can give you rapid feedback. That’s why we’ve assembled SuperGroups, comprising friends, mentors and potential collaborators, who buy into the initial idea, but can then challenge us, ask the hard questions, and to whom we can feel accountable.

What inspires you?

Everything. That sounds banal and cheesy, but most people go through experiences blinkered, and can’t or don’t care to see the detail, the patterns, the discrepancies. Whether it’s an object or technology that you see used in one context that you realize could be applied to another, or the letters and typography of a word, anything can trigger a thought that provides inspiration. In our case, we change our surroundings frequently to be exposed to new ideas, fresh conversations, and different geographic landscapes, all of which trigger different kinds of thinking and original concepts as a result.

What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?

Being too nice too often. It’s an ongoing battle for both of us. We assume that the things that come easily to us, come easily to other people as well, so we have a tendency to undervalue them. It’s important to identify the skills or assets that you bring to the table as quickly as possible, and place an appropriate value on them, whether that’s measured in terms of fees, price-tags or barriers to entry.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Starter Pack Stationary. When we were packing up our New York base, we came across so many rolls of scotch tape, pens, staples, batteries and bits and pieces that we’d generally purchased for a very specific reason, and had little use for thereafter. How many other people are in that exact same position? All you really need is a basic pack of all these things, and a place to return all the leftovers once you’re done. It lies somewhere between buying, renting and repurposing. We thought that this would be a great business to be licensed by or franchised through co-working spaces.

What is one book and one tool that helps you bring ideas to life?

Who’s Your City by Richard Florida – he offers an excellent academic framework for much of the practical work we are doing.
Google Documents – they may not be sexy, but we rely on them.

Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?

Lyde Spann of Netamorphosis.

Wouldn’t you be better off following a more traditional career path?

It really depends on what you mean by “better off”. We think it was true before, but particularly since the market crashed, supposedly “secure” professions, such as law, investment banking, management consultancy, have seen enormous cut-backs, and all of a sudden our peers who committed to massive mortgages or whatever, have experienced unbelievable levels of stress and job insecurity. As entrepreneurs, we’ve taken over the reigns, and are in control of our chosen path, and that’s an incredible opportunity. We also believe in the value of freedom. The majority of people go through life with values set by society, or by their families’ expectations, rather than ones that they have created or decided for themselves. The lifestyle we have proactively chosen to live is priceless.

We’re also frustrated by the concept of a “rule book of life”, and the idea that by a certain age you should have already done certain things and be busy doing others. Obviously, some things like having kids, have basic biological rules, but the idea that it’s not ok to live from multiple places, simply because that isn’t what careers guidance counsellors teach, or because most people choose not to, seems ridiculous to us. We both knew early on that a “traditional” career in a blue chip company was not going to work for us, and the reality is that as a result of living internationally, we also want the ablity to spend time with family back home, and maintain international friendships and business networks. By adopting a global lifestyle we actually get to do this, and experience it with more contentment and far less compromise as well.

What are the things that make you feel “at home”?

As a result of embarking upon a global lifestyle, we decided to downsize on stuff. It’s amazing how much you accumulate and how much you don’t miss or need once it’s gone. So, the things that make us feel at home pretty much revolve around food and friends. A decent piece of whole wheat toast with fresh thick-cut marmalade and a good (according to Antipodean standards) cup of coffee, are things that instantly make us feel grounded and ready to hit the ground running. A condition of our lifestyle is a strong network of friends-like-family in each of our international hubs, and arriving and being able to call up 10 people and say “hey, we’re in town, let’s grab a drink”, is as important to us as holding the keys to the home you own, is to someone else.