Moving abroad is not easy. It challenges you in so many ways you’ve never been before. Every day was full uncertainty, loneliness, and unhappiness.
At least that’s how I felt.
As some of you know, I moved from Vancouver, a beautiful city I’ve called home for the last 12 years to halfway across the world, Bali. Now I know what you’re thinking. It’s gorgeous there. The beach, the daily sunshine, the people. All that is true. And, I was also moving back to the country where I was born and raised in. My parents couldn’t be happier.
I was happy to go on this exciting new endeavour too but little did I realize it’s not all fun and games.
On March 23, 2017, I was invited to speak to a group of students who are thinking of moving abroad to advance their career. I had a hard time thinking about what I should say. Do I sugarcoat everything, or tell the truth even if it might discourage them?
First and foremost, you have to know and embrace the fact that you will be uncomfortable for awhile. But have a goal in mind and set your mini milestones to get you through. Then,
- Be open minded and be willing to learn new things
- Observe, listen, speak their language. Not just the verbal language, but the implicit.
- Have allies – build trust, spend time to get to know them and they will let you into their world
- Find a club or association to be a part of
All these take time. There will be many lonely nights where you question yourself why you made the decision to move. When those nights come, remember what you’ve achieved. Zoom out, don’t get caught in the small details, but appreciate every little thing you’ve done.
Also, make sure you have a support system. I am lucky to have amazing friends who were always ready to cheer me on and some even came to visit!
During the panel session, one of the students asked what self development books or podcast do we recommend. My fellow speakers, Gordon Ching and Jared Lim, both have great recommendations. As for me, I let the students in to one of my coveted life secrets. YOLO. You Only Live Once. So go out there and experiment (but be safe please). I’m an experiential type of person, no book can really convince me to do this or that. I have to learn it myself, either the fun way or the hard way. The latter happens more.
Thank you AIESEC UBC and GradusOne for hosting this event and the kind invitation to let me share my story.
There are countless reasons why I am thankful for the life that I have but I was reminded of one that I haven’t really thought about in a long time.
With economy slowing down in almost all part of the world, many companies are forced to lay off some of their employees. Thankfully, our company is doing well enough to keep ours. But the office just down the stairs from ours is not as lucky. Three of their employees came upstairs today asking if there is any opportunity within our company. We sat down with them, one by one.
The last candidate was the youngest out of the three. I could tell right away she was nervous. I know how it feels. I have been on the other side of the table and it’s not fun, especially when you’re desperate for a job. Despite being anxious, she was able to answer most of our questions with ease.
I flipped through her resume and saw her education only went as far as high school. So I asked her if she is planning on continuing to a post secondary institution soon. She said, “I would love to. It really is my dream to continue my study. To take administration management, to go to a good school.” “So, what’s stopping you?” I asked. She took a second to answer, “I’m currently responsible for my two younger siblings. I need to pay for their education first. When my sister graduate high school next year, then I would be able to save more money for myself and hopefully go to a post secondary school. But for now, I need to save all my money for my siblings’ education and well being.”
I was stunned.
I was so lucky that my parents could pay for my education, in full. It was nothing I had to worry about. Even now that I am considering going back to school, all I had to do was tell them. I did not even have to ask.
Mom, Dad, you probably won’t ever read this. But I want you to know how grateful I am for my education and for giving me such a comfortable life, one where I have very little things to worry about. I hope I can work to give such life to my kids later on too and to all the kids out there needing an extra hand.
Remember a month ago I went to visit Blangsinga for a meeting with 150+ men that led me to being invited to a special ceremony? Well it all led to the planning of preservARTion.
My dad and I were invited to Griya Blangsinga where the living dance legend, Maestro Gus Aji Blangsinga, lives and teaches. He apologetically explained to us that his house is a mess because he’s currently raising funds to build a dance studio there to welcome even more students and teach them the real and traditional Balinese dance. We were stunned by how much it means to him to preserve such art. It got us thinking, how can we help this 86 years old man preserve this treasure? Better yet, how do we share his dream with more people?
Here’s what we came up with:
If you happen to be in Bali on August 14th, please do consider coming! The team and I have been working our asses off for this event. We hope tourists, expats, and locals alike will join us for this special night featuring the legend himself. I have had the honour to watch him dance and it was just remarkable for an 86-year old man to still be dancing with such elegance and energy. Through this event, we hope we will inspire more people to conserve and appreciate the true treasure of Bali, its art.
After a few months of hiatus, the Hootsuite Community team finally put out the search for the next Global Advocacy Lead.
I absolutely loved my role as the Global Ambassador Lead and wish I could apply for the position again. It was indeed the most rewarding role I’ve ever held. It was not just another job, it was my passion. How could it not? Every day was different. Every day I got to interact with smart people from all around the world. Every day we brainstormed creative ways to advocate and share our knowledge with others.The #HootAmb family has taught me so much and the Community team at Hootsuite is a joy to work with. If you genuinely love building and celebrating community, you’ll love this job. Trust me.
The following post is written by Meghan Wong. It’s been awhile since I had time to do information interview. I was really excited when I got connected by Meghan who is a recent graduate of SFU Crimonology (Honours). Meghan is a part of PACT: Professional and Career Transition and was recommended to reach out to me by my previous supervisor at SFU Career Services, Brenda Badgero. Meghan and I were able to connect right away. We chatted for half an hour about personal branding, social media jobs, and her passions. Before she left, we took a selfie and she wrote this super sweet post about our time together. Please note that this post was not altered in any way.
I had the pleasure of meeting Stephanie Wiriahardja, the community manager of Hootsuite for an informational interview. I was extremely nervous before our meeting, however, within the first few minutes of our meeting I felt extremely comfortable talking with her. I actually brought my list of questions on a sheet, but I did not need my “cheat sheet” as our conversation simply flowed. This was my first informational interview. I did not know about these types of interviews until I joined PACT. Brenda Badgero from SFU Career Services is one of the facilitators for the career portion of PACT; Brenda was kind enough to introduce me to Stephanie because I am interested in social media. Stephanie and I talked for about 30 minutes, and I really appreciated all the advice she gave me. Let me tell you, Stephanie is brilliant!
Key points that I learned during our informational interview
- Having a brand is important, but you need to know what you want your brand to say. Before our meeting, I never thought about what I wanted my brand to say. Right now I am still brainstorming ideas.
- Passion is important. Stephanie is passionate in all facets of her life. Whether she is working as a community manager at Hootsuite, the creative director at Le Meredian Bali Jamban, or the person behind The Selfie-Guru; Stephanie exudes passion.
- Sometimes taking opportunities where your passion lies, may not necessary pay off at first, but when you’re happy at the end of the day, it is worth it.
- Not only should we celebrate the big moments in our lives, but we must also remember to celebrate the small ones too.
- Social media has changed the way that we interact with one another. Although social media never sleeps, we need to take time out from it.
- A job is like working with a blank canvas, and we need to work with different paint colours that we are given and make it work. This is probably one of my most favourite analogies!
After my meeting with Stephanie, I feel more motivated to blog and continue this project of mine. Stephanie devised The Dandelion Theory; where she “grow[s], evolve[s], and spread[s] [her] knowledge, skills, and passion in building community, design, photography, and marketing”. She is authentically living her Dandelion Theory. I can see this! I really admire Stephanie and all of her accomplishments. Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with me Stephanie!
In my last post, I talked about my excitement to fundraise money for Drop Zone and why I am passionate about it. After sending a few tweets and posting that Facebook post, I’ve achieved 22% of the $1,000 goal but I’m still far from done. Starting this week, I will start approaching institutions and companies to help me get there. To make the process easier, I put a quick one pager together to outline everything they need to know.
It would be sooo awesome if you could share this with your friends / colleagues as well. I’m hoping to raise $1,000 before September 8th! Thanks so much in advance.
It’s been a few weeks since my first time giving a TEDx talk. It was an incredible experience and definitely a highlight in my life that I would forever cherish and boast about. But despite the high feelings I have, I’m still feeling pretty exhausted from it. Over and over again, I referred to this experience to training for a marathon.
At first, I felt like it was a great idea to sign myself up. It felt good to receive support from family and friends, but as more hours put in to it, the more I started questioning myself. Was this the right decision? Was I ready? Why did I sign myself to failure? It was a constant battle with myself and although I knew it was going to be less than 10 minutes, the pressure was burning and crawling deep into my skin. On the day of, I told myself if I could survive the first 2 minutes, I’d rock the rest. After I crossed the imaginary finish line and heard the overwhelming sound of clapping from the audience, tears went down my face. I’ve given it my all and I wished I did better, but I couldn’t do anything to change the past. Weeks have passed and I’ve gathered the courage to watch myself and I did better than I thought. Sure I stumbled here and there, but I was surprised I was able to carry on and avoid any awkward silence and ‘uhm’ and ‘you know’.
So what were the key things that helped me prepare for my TEDx talk?
1) Watch others
I’m not an expert in personal branding nor in social media nor in public speaking. I looked to others to inspire me. For a month, I vowed to watch one TED talk every night to get a feel and some ideas of how to structure my speech. At first I was only watching things that were relevant to my talk, but as I was running out of things to watch, I started watching other topics and they were incredibly helpful. People from different backgrounds share their stories differently, so it’s good to learn from all aspects and it didn’t hurt to pick up a few new knowledge too!
2) Practice, practice, practice
I read once in a book that Steve Jobs spent countless hours practicing his speech. I couldn’t believe it. He seemed to be a natural speaker and he looked so effortless on stage. Unlike him, I’m scared of public speaking. Actually, I’m scared of all kinds of speaking. Language has not been my best forté, both for English and Bahasa Indonesia (my mother tongue). I didn’t want to be a coward though, so I put myself to this challenge. If Steve Jobs spent countless hours, then I would have to spent at least triple that amount. Luckily for me, I have a pretty set work schedule so I could set out a practice time everyday as well. For two months, I spent at least an hour each day tweaking my speech, practicing a certain part, repeating some words over and over again.
It might seem a little crazy, but I practiced under different situations. I practiced my speech while I was stuck in traffic jam, in the shower, out in the cold, walking home in the rain, planking, and in different moods – hungry, too full, sick, sad, joyful. One thing that always throw people off during presentation is when they thought they haven’t practiced enough. I didn’t want to feel like that. So I practiced in these different situations, so if that thought ever come across my mind, I can shut it down and say “If I can practice in such weird situations, I could do it right here in full comfort.”
3) Have your own support group
I used to prep my own talk and wouldn’t ask anyone for feedback. I tried a different approach this time. I created a support group. I constantly asked them for feedback and practiced the delivery multiple times. At first I felt a little uneasy and embarrassed, but once I’ve overcome my own negative thoughts, I felt their support was really the pinnacle to my success. My friends wanted me to do well, so all the feedback given were crucial and I’m glad they were honest with me if they like/dislike a part. They really helped me shape my talk and guided me along and gave me encouragement whenever I need to.
4) Set your due dates
I’m glad the TEDxKids@BC team was pretty adamant about the due dates. We were instructed to send our slides and speech a month ahead of time. I was so nervous handing in the slides and speech because I was nowhere near ready, but I trusted the process and it worked. I ended up editing both components for the next two weeks and focus on the delivery for the last two weeks. If they didn’t ask for the slides ahead of time, I would still be scrambling and working on it til the last minute. It’s a good idea to have a schedule ahead of time and make sure you dedicate a good chunk of time to just practice on the delivery. I realized that when you’re up on stage, delivery is more important than the content itself. Sure content is king, but if the audience can’t hear the presenter, then it’s a loss cause.
5) Be humble
It’s easy to get your head up in the air when people likes your Facebook update, comments on your photos, high fives you, but I always tell myself it’s important to be humble. I didn’t become more of an expert after giving the talk, I just made everyone else the same level as I was. While it was great experience, my talk is nothing if no action is taken after. It’s also important to give back to the people that have helped us to get this far.
* Bonus tips:
- No one knows your speech. So if you screw up, just keep going and make things up. I heard this before, but it was great to hear it from Richard Loat that day.
- I always tell myself too that people are here for me and that I deserve to be standing on that stage. Positive thoughts really help you prepare yourself mentally.
- Listen to some pumping music to relax yourself. My music of choice? Lose yourself by Eminem. Classic.
There you have it. A few tips for anyone that’s preparing a TED talk or any talk at all!
Curious to see how I actually did on stage? Here’s the video for it.
Let me know via Twitter: @stephawie if these tips help at all and/or I did an okay job delivering my first TEDx talk!
If you ask me if I was ready to present a month ago, I would say yes. Not because I was actually ready but I was at the point that I just wanted to get it over with. The truth is, I wasn’t ready. My script was still all over the place and my slides were mediocre.
As days passed by, I was getting more nervous and tripled my practice time (though I have a cheat day – to celebrate my dad’s 60th birthday). I was still changing things up, removing some points, adding visuals. But on Monday (5 days before), I suddenly felt calm. I didn’t feel stress anymore. As I sat at my parents living room, I could see myself on stage. Calm, composed, and happy. I didn’t let that beautiful image slip my mind and I carried it to bed that night.
On Friday, just the day before, I had a small incident that could’ve been bad. I slipped and twisted my left ankle while carrying Quinn’s cage down the stairs. I stretched my ankle right away and thankfully it was fine.
When I arrived at Science World, a few of the other speakers were already there and we caught up as like old friends. I personally think it’s quite remarkable how we bonded and wanted each other to succeed. And so rehearsal went on pretty well despite some technical difficulties.
When I went on stage to rehearse, I was excited more than anything but a few minutes in, I got lost in the sea of darkness with only one very, very bright light that sat right in front of me, blindingly staring at me. I gulped. What’s going to happen tomorrow? Am I going to choke too? No. I am not going to let that happen.
It was pretty difficult to shake that feeling off, especially after listening to the other speakers. I was really proud of them, but they intimidated me too. They all seemed pretty comfortable with their talks and I had a mini mental breakdown. I rushed to the washroom and cried it out.
That night, I got home feeling pretty awake despite the fact that I just spent 7 hours at the TEDxKids@BC rehearsal and SIAT 10th Year Anniversary Gala. I laid awake in my bed just staring at the ceiling for awhile, not even thinking about anything, just staring. It almost felt like I’ve done the gig. I felt like there was nothing else I could do at that point but to just stare. I fell asleep eventually and woke up to my alarm ringing loudly in my ears at 7 a.m. I looked at it and decided to snooze before realizing I had to be at Science World by 8. I got up immediately, brushed my teeth, straightened my hair, grabbed a pear, and rushed out the door.
I was still making tiny changes when I got there and decided to run it in my head a few more times before I realized it’s 9 and people should already be signing in by now. I called Kingsley. He didn’t pick up. I called him again. Nothing. He just flew in from Saskatchewan late last night so I knew he would have a hard time waking up in the morning. I called him 38 other times and he finally woke up and apologized over and over again. If it was other time, I would probably be mad, but at that time, I didn’t. I just needed him to get here as soon as possible to give me moral support.
I looked at the clock again, it’s 9:15. I was supposed to go on stage at 10:30. Lots of time to kill. Should I practice some more or should I just relax? I decided to take a few quiet moments to myself and I prayed. Again, I felt pretty serene, but to distract myself from stressing out again, I decided to listen to Lose Yourself by Eminem like I always do before any presentation. A few other speakers joined me and we danced it out. Soon Kingsley showed up and joined the dance party. I felt better. I hugged him for awhile and he whispered some sweet words to my ears. I looked at my surroundings again and thought about all the blessings I’ve had this past week, year, decades and I instantly felt grateful for the friends and family I have supporting me in the audience and from home, my mentors, and every single friendly stranger I met. It was an uplifting feeling and for once my heart didn’t beat frantically before a presentation. Especially for a presentation with this big scope of an audience.
As they put the headset on me, I took a few deep breaths. Kingsley gave me some shoulder massages, Riri gave me a big hug, and the AV team were high fiving me as I made my way out to the stage. There it was. The moment I have been waiting for. The moment I have been working so hard for. Here’s my stage and here’s my audience. They’re all mine.
I looked at the sea of blackness. I couldn’t see anything at that moment, but I could see my family and friends’ smiles. I could feel their energy lifting me up.
Honestly, I couldn’t remember a single word that came out of my mouth. They just flowed out of my mouth somehow. I don’t know how but they did. All I could remember was the bright light and the feeling I felt. That was pretty magical.
As soon as I stepped out the stage, tears came down my eyes and I couldn’t stop them from flowing. I couldn’t remember what I said, I told the backstage crew as I sobbed. Kingsley cheered me up and said I did well. I didn’t want to believe him and said “You’re biased though. It’s your job as a boyfriend to say that.” I continued crying as we made our way to the seats. Our TEDx coach, Rowand, was sitting beside me and he gave me a fist bump. Job well done, he said. I stopped myself from crying and just let myself sunk in to the chair.
It was pretty difficult to meet my mom, sister, and friends during break because I was embarrassed. I thought I haven’t made them proud. They hugged me and gave me high fives for my accomplishment. I still felt pretty numb but accepted their love and support and was very grateful to have them. We took pictures and made our way to the lunch area. When I got there, a few kids came up to me to thank me for my speech. They said it was very inspiring and it was their favourite talk. I tried to hold my tears back. I was so honoured and so humbled. So so so honoured and humbled.
The rest of the day just went on so quickly. I was on auto mode. I still felt pretty numb because I still couldn’t remember my talk, but I was happy to see other speakers speak and I also stayed a few hours after to chat with some more people, attend the workshops, and even enjoy Science World.
A few days have passed and I still can’t believe it was over. So many people reached out to congratulate and thank me for my TEDx talk and it’s more than I could ever imagine. I felt incredibly blessed to be given this wonderful opportunity to get up on the TEDx stage at this age and I am so inspired to help others get themselves out there too. It’s such a long-winded journey but it was really, really worth it. I really couldn’t have done it without the amazing support I have from my parents, sisters, Jeanette, Destin, Elaiza, Crystal, Marina, Thiago, Kingsley, Kennett, Diana, Jillian, Richard, Sandra, Rowand, all the speakers, and other amazing individuals.
I went home, reviewed my slides, and watched my video that my sister filmed. I might be biased but I did better than I thought I did. Much, much better than I thought. But there’s still a huge room of improvement. I want to work on my pauses, stance, annunciation, flow, and so many other things. Although TEDxKids@BC has passed, my work is not done. I’m still going to continue spreading my passion and knowledge out there and work on my presentation skills.