Q&A: Sean Lee-Davies, Lifestyle Advocates Hong Kong
12 September 2016
In his years as a magazine editor and photographer, Sean Lee-Davies has interviewed and photographed the likes of Marc Jacobs, Keanu Reaves, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matthew McConaughey, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Zhang Ziyi. His works have also been published in various international publications including Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. Sean also runs a non-profit environmental initiative organisation, Project C:CHANGE.
While Sean brings us to meet the movers and shakers of Hong Kong as he hosts Lifestyle Advocates, inquisitive of their lifestyles, we turn the tables around off camera and ask Sean about his life hacks and his biggest a-ha moments during the show.
How do you usually start your day?
I usually start my day drinking lots of water to get the system going. I’ll meditate for about 10 to 15 mins and then go exercise in the gym, or do yoga depending on how rushed I am. After the workout I’ll have my usual buckwheat with blueberries and pomegranate, an English breakfast tea with almond milk and then I’m ready!
What’s the best thing about your current lifestyle?
I think the best part is that I get to meet and learn from inspiring people. There’s also never a dull day and I’m fortunate to have experienced a lot in life and have had the opportunity to travel to incredible as well as remote destinations.
It’s only when you put it all together, like in this Lifestyle Advocates show that you stand back and think ‘I’m really lucky to know these people’
If there’s one thing you could change about your current lifestyle, what would it be?
I think it’s a problem that most people face in today’s digital world. The feeling of time compression and that nagging sense that your work is not quite finished at the end of the day because of the incessant demands of social media and the noise of the press. If there’s one thing I could change it would be that I could spend less time working and more time on my environmental work.
Having to juggle several roles in one of Asia’s most efficient cities, can you share a productivity hack that has worked for you?
I would say that Hong Kong is probably one of the fastest cities in the world and as a result it can get quite stressful. And with events going on every night, there are so many potential distractions. Time off is a big luxury here.
I use the Pomodoro technique which is basically a timer — an app called Focus on my Mac — so that you work for 25 minutes then take a five-minute break, then you go back to your 25 minutes of concentration, and so on. This is the ideal situation but being the boss of your own companies, you invariably have many people vying for your attention and time.
During the 25 minutes you must turn everything off and just focus. I’m naturally a person that likes to multitask and prevaricate, but actually it’s more efficient to do one thing at a time. And especially in today’s digital ADD era it’s important to tame your smart phone. I also try, although not always successfully, to answer emails in batches throughout the day.
Lists are essential to any productive lifestyle. I create lists every evening for the day ahead and also every weekend for the upcoming week. It’s also satisfying to tick those tasks off when completed.
Where can we usually find you on weekends?
I have a small yacht in Hong Kong and I believe what makes this city special are the mountains and the surrounding ocean. If I wasn’t hiking or sailing every weekend I’m not sure if I could live here. I love playing tennis and more recently I have taken up kickboxing to supplement my time in the gym. I also love playing a bit of guitar and maybe even a bit of crooning on the weekends.
What was your biggest takeaway from the interviews with the Advocates? Did you experience any a-ha moments?
What surprised me was just how educated, well-travelled and esoteric my friends are! It’s only when you put it all together, like in this Lifestyle Advocates show that you stand back and think, “I’m really lucky to know these people.” What makes Hong Kong stand out, I believe, from the other cities in Asia is the diversity of people that you meet here from all walks of life and they all are here trying to do something better or different. It’s a very dynamic society in that way.
What was your most memorable moment while filming Lifestyle Advocates?
Filming the Tesla while driving down the coastal highway with a drone was quite memorable! I also remember seeing Crazy Rouge and Cindiddy strutting their stuff in an old antiques market of Hollywood Road. It highlighted, perhaps, the striking contrasts that embody Hong Kong.
Watch: Sean in his element in this two-minute sneak peek of Lifestyle Advocates Hong Kong.
What is your favourite staycation spot?
I love staying at Upper House, it feels like my home away from home and because of its minimalist design I always feel relaxed there. I also like to sail to Lantau Island, anchor off the beach and stay somewhere nearby. Certain parts of Lantau still feel like a rustic hideaway.
What camera gear do you bring with you on vacation?
This is a tough question as I usually travel with several systems! But if I just had to travel light I will take my Nikon D810 the full set of zoom lenses, a 50 mm, my iPhone and the Sony RX 10 which is an all-in-one digital camera. With this gear I can shoot pretty much anything that comes my way whether it be at fashion shoot or a documentary. Now I also try to bring my Phantom 4 drone wherever I go as I love aerial photography but it depends on weight restrictions and permission in different countries.
You have five minutes to get dressed for a spontaneous day out in Hong Kong. What are you wearing?
I’ll wear a white shirt, grab a jacket with a colourful pocket square, jeans and my Corthay Shoes and my Drive De Cartier watch, and I’m all set.
Mark your calendars for Sunday, 18 September, 10:30pm MY/SIN/HK and watch the premiere episode of Lifestyle Advocates online at litvchannel.com.