By SHARMILA NAIR
While it is easy to dream about achieving something big (and to completely forget about it the next day), there are some individuals who stop at nothing to make it come true. Twelve such individuals were present at the TEDxYouth@KL event held in Kuala Lumpur last weekend, and they were only too happy to share their stories.
From comedians to entrepreneurs to innovators, these speakers had plenty of wise words for the 800 attendees who came in hopes of finding inspiration to achieve their own dreams.
Here’s what some of the speakers had to say about turning ideas into impact.
Dream and set goals
Toh Yit Ming spent years working for a multi-national company believing that he could change the way things worked there. However, after several attempts that failed to yield the results he wanted, Toh decided to take matters into his own hands.
“I realised that I had the power to create a workplace culture I believed in, so I quit my job and looked elsewhere,” said Toh, 29.
When his friend approached him with an idea for a business, Toh jumped at the opportunity.
“Starting anything new is very scary but if you’re passionate about something, it will get you through,” he said.
Toh co-founded a technology company recognised and accredited globally for their mobile point-of-sales solution. What initially seemed like a crazy idea is now allowing businesses to accept credit card payments using their mobile phones.
“If you want to start a business, you have to understand what society needs and you have to be aware of your surroundings. Catch the right trend and go with it,” he said.
For businesswoman Phng Li Kheng, her dream was to save the two coffee and tea franchise outlets her parents owned in Shanghai, China. The stores were going bankrupt and Phng was thrown into the deep end when she decided to take over the dying business.
“Failure is not an option to me,” said the 34-year-old entrepreneur who had to face the challenge head on without her family by her side.
“The first thing I had to do was help my employees. They didn’t even have the motivation to put on their caps – which was part of the uniform – the right way. There was a lot for me to do.”
One of the first few things Phng did was to set a few short term goals for herself because she believes that it would motivate her to work towards getting results.
“Results speak for themselves. They become a tool for us to get up faster and stronger in anything in life.”
And the result Phng got really did speak for itself. At the end of her stint in Shanghai, Phng’s business had over 35 boutique cafes spread across the city.
One of the hurdles Sunny Singh faced, and still faces, when he presented his product, the Therapy And Rehabilitation Assistant (TARA), was that nobody took him seriously.
“People thought I was too young to have done or say anything worthwhile,” said Singh, 23.
The Information Systems Management student is a two-time Microsoft Imagine Cup finalist who turned his idea from the student technology competition into a startup company.
One of the company’s first products was TARA, a system that helps stroke patients regain mobility through a series of Kinect-controlled games.
“I decided that one way to prove my capabilities despite my young age is by building a variety of skill sets. It’s about attending workshops, classes or anything that would help you build your credentials in the industry.
“You need to be accredited for your skills. It’s not going to happen overnight but you just need to keep working on building your credibility,” he said.
Also working on building an impressive resume is Razif Hashim, an “actorpreneur” who has branched out into many sections in the entertainment industry. Many people recognise him as a TV personality, but what most of them don’t know is that he got into the business by accident.
“I just wanted to make some extra cash, so I got my first hosting job and the rest is history,” said Razif, 30.
Although he had initially joined the industry in hopes of making a bucketload of money, it changed when he realised the potential he has in the business.
“I started doing everything. From hosting to acting … I’ve done it all,” said Razif who has a Masters degree in acting.
With a jam-packed resume, Razif believes he has what it takes to make a difference in the entertainment industry.
“If you want to do something, take ownership. You can’t just talk about it today and not do anything about it.
“But before you do any of that, you need to know how to ‘fish’. There are many complacent people out there who are used to getting the fish and they don’t know how to catch it themselves. You have to learn how to fish,” said Razif.
Embrace failures and critics
YouTube sensation Jin Lim, aka JinnyBoy, is so comfortable in front of the camera that one might assume it has always been his dream to be in the spotlight. Wrong.
“Growing up, I wanted to be a pilot, but unfortunately it didn’t happen,” said Jin, 28. Not letting his failure to get an admission into a flying academy stop him, Jin looked for other opportunities and found broadcasting by accident.
“My mother wanted me to work in a corporate environment but I decided to try out for radio instead. One thing led to another and here I am,” said Jin, who is yet to give up on his dreams of becoming a pilot.
“I will get my license,” he said.
There are many hurdles in the path to success and Jin had faced a few himself. “There are people who say nasty things about me on my YouTube account and they just do it for fun. I don’t let that negativity get me down,” he said.
It was also not easy for Phng, who has dealt with many investors who weren’t just skepticla about her product, but about her as well.
“I didn’t let that get me down. I had to prove so many things but I let my results speak for themselves. The results are like feedback on the effectiveness of my strategies.”
Of course the results were not always in Phng’s favour, but she never let her mistakes get the better of her.
“Mistakes are just room for improvement. The bigger the room for improvement, the bigger the chance you have to improve your ideas.
“We have the power to create the results we wish we have,” she said.