Lifestyle Asia
19/10/2023

10 questions for... Martin Teo

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Martin Teo is editor-in-chief of Lifestyle Asia, based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He talks to us about “Gen Z”, explains the reality of social fatigue, and why mental blocks are inevitable in the creative process.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I enjoy meeting people. Every day is a different experience. It is all about making connections and developing meaningful relationships. My job is never monotonous and always exciting. No two days are the same. I used to be a lecturer in art history and critical thinking, which has certainly shaped me. It allows me to combine my creative side with my commercial side. It fits together perfectly.

How do you see the premium publishing market developing in Malaysia?

We were the first country in the BurdaLuxury family to launch digital covers and introduce new signature campaigns including The Z List (since 2021), LSA 100 (since 2022) and most recently The Beauty Awards in 2023. We also plan to produce Lifestyle Asia in the Malay language by 2024. 65% of our population is Malay, so we need to ´access´ that market. There are not many Malay titles in the luxury category, so this will be disruptive to the industry, but in a good way. I am really excited about it. Watch this space!

You joined BurdaLuxury in 2018 and have come up with a lot of new initiatives and campaigns for the Lifestyle Asia brand in Malaysia, including the Z List and LSA 100. Can you tell us about these two initiatives.

Both initiatives celebrate the amazing pool of talent in Malaysia. It was very important to me that young Malaysians have a platform to share their ideas and passions, not only with their peers in Malaysia but also in other Asian countries. The Z List highlights the quintessential 'Gen Z' fighters in Malaysia. They are pragmatic individuals who value individualistic expression, are passionate about their community and are also politically progressive. We have celebrated many – from a vegan mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter to self-taught rappers, from multi-lingual singers to Olympians. Gen Z is a generation that brands like Kate Spade, Tissot, Volvo and Hermès are tapping into, and the industry is responding with endorsements and engagements. LSA 100 honours the milestones of 100 Malaysians in all fields. These Trailblazers are celebrated across the categories – Dreamcatchers, Rule Breakers, Explorers, Joy Sparkers, and Rocketeers – be it for their commitment to the environment, raising awareness of human rights, tackling mental health issues on social media or for their sporting achievements. We believe that there is a sense of community in our narrative and our LSA events provide that platform.

Of all your projects, which one are you most proud of?

The Z List! We have established ourselves with the Gen Z audience and given young Malaysians a place to be seen, noticed, and heard by the industry. Our aim is to push them and propel them to the next level and inspire others to live their lives to the fullest with purpose and authenticity.
And we throw great parties that people talk about for a long time. We want to make sure that we give our audience the best kind of experience in line with our DNA – “Living the Good Life”. That is really gratifying.

What has been your biggest challenge to date?

The biggest challenge will always be to bring something new and novel to the field. As a creative it is not easy to churn out new ideas. It is very hard to be inspired every day. You are expected to constantly think of new ways to engage your audience and come up with new concepts. It is also very tough to be ahead of the curve, which can really be a double-edged sword because of the expectations. And then there’s the time factor – are you willing to take risks or play it safe? As an editor, you are also constantly being challenged by the brands. You have to be fast and entice them to come back (and invest). You must be prepared to really dive into an idea and be quick and take that risk. Otherwise, your idea may well have been executed by someone else. You don´t have time for mental blocks.

What skills does your job require?

As an editor, you need to be out there, playing the social game. It is a big ‘love island’ that never ends. You must be creative, critical, interactive, adaptable, proactive, and tenacious. Being visible on social media means being quick to respond. It's a huge social game. I also believe that no matter how skilled you are, you need a great team to work alongside you. They are your motivators and cheerleaders through the good times and the bad. I am super thankful to be working with some of the most creative and diverse individuals in the Lifestyle Asia KL team – each with something cool and unique to offer.

What life event has inspired you most to date?

I don’t think I can pinpoint a specific life event because I believe that every journey – big or small – takes me to where I am today. In my 20s, I had the opportunity to travel to different countries for work and leisure, picking up bits and pieces that have shaped the way I think. It's a cliché to say, 'inspiration is everywhere', but the more you see, the more you can expand your vision and creativity.

Work/life balance: How do you like to relax in your free time?

At weekends, I like to relax and stay at home. Social fatigue is real and comes with the job. We are constantly monitoring what everyone else is doing even at a subconscious level. One’s social battery needs to be recharged at the end of the week so that it is not empty. I also try to get out and have a drink with friends once in a while.

What is your next personal goal?

To slow down, to find some time for myself. I would like to travel more, not on business, but for myself. In our role as editors, we cannot stop. The digital business keeps us going around the clock.

What is an absolute must-see or must-do in Kuala Lumpur?

I must talk about the food. This is something that you cannot miss in Malaysia. Because of our multicultural background, there is a fantastic mix of so-called “fusion food” like the many variations of nasi lemak (coconut-infused rice served with sambal, egg, peanut, anchovies and cucumber). Gentrification is happening now and there is a real revival of bars and restaurants taking place. We also have so many beautiful islands here that are underrated. So, come and visit Malaysia!

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More Impressions & Downloads

Martin at The Z List 2023 Award Presentation in July at Traders Hotel Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia alongside Associate Publisher Natasha Kraal (left) and Malaysian actor, Bella Dowanna (centre) © Lifestyle Asia KL

Glamour and style abound as LSA100 party guests attend in black and white © Lifestyle Asia KL

The Lifestyle Asia KL team at the recent Club Z Party to celebrate The Z List 2023 Award event © Lifestyle Asia KL

Martin with The Z List alumni, singer and actor Layla Sania (left) and singer-rapper Bunga (right) © Lifestyle Asia KL

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