It’s been 6 months since we got ourselves present in Perth, Western Australia. So far, it’s been a steep learning curve for me as I got myself acquainted with the culture here, and tried to figure out how to set up a business in all sense and aspects. Australia is very different to Singapore, and as I like to say, I probably learnt more in the past 6 months what didn’t work than what did.
Yet we press ahead. In times like this, it can feel demoralising as we can’t really articulate a tangible progress nor have results to show. Thankfully I had time in January to reflect and mull over our journey further in depth. A quote by Fredrick Douglass particularly impressed on me that we have grown – through the ‘no’s, we have gained clarity on what the ‘yes’ can look like.
Without a struggle, there can be no progress”
It’s been a stretch of our grit and resilience. In full acknowledgement that the journey ahead is still long, and that we definitely need all the help we can get, Mei Yi and I decided to commit to the Bloom ‘s Social Enterprise Program that ran for 5 weeks. Weekly, we worked through our Lean Canvass, sharpening our target audience and key product etc. Most importantly, the discussions helped us to agree on and articulate our priority for this year – creating a Train the Trainer model for our Fundamental Cents #transforming curriculum targeted at educators of Year 11 & 12 students in Perth. We finished off last week with a pitch, judged by Jasmin & Jeroen from Bloom and Iain McIntyre from Humm, gaining valuable feedback from different perspectives.
The entire pitching process was a nerve-wracking experience for me. I didn’t feel adequately prepared nor confident to take on the task but we showed up, experienced the pitch and now looking back, I learnt 3 important lessons that can be applied to life in general:
1) Drill in to Absolute Clarity
When communicating with another, it’s more important to share succinctly and clearly rather than overload with information. Often, it can be tempting to add in more information, thinking that we are providing context or additional useful information. However this can overwhelm the listener, and add ‘noise’ to the message we are trying to convey. Drilling in to exactly ‘what’ we want to say and ‘why’, and articulating ‘what’ we want from the listener can help improve the way we connect with others, making it easier for them to know what is expected from them. This facilitates the building of more powerful relationships between people.
2) Leverage on Team Work
As a ‘recovering’ perfectionist, it is hard for me to trust others. Yet it’s absolutely a fact that no one can do everything alone. Through the pitch, I have learned to play to my strengths and turn to Mei Yi for her expertise/ experience when needed. In the pitch’s Q&A, she had insights on youths gleaned through her teaching experiences which I don’t. Her credibility when sharing about her insights is invaluable. Likewise, in life – we have family and friends who have experiences and wisdom that we may not have, that can be invaluable to our personal journey. I recall a friend who shared with me how she loves spending time with her grandmother because her grandma’s wise words taught her much about people skills. Who, in your life, can you co-opt into your team to help you in this journey called life?
3) Believe in Yourself
My past experience in pitches hasn’t always went well. That and memories of tanked presentations always surface in my consciousness before I do public speaking. Each time I stand before an audience, I always likened the experience to walking on water as it involves an internal choice to trust that I will do my best and things will be alright. Learning to believe in myself is probably one of the hardest yet most crucial choice in my #adulting journey. Particularly for pitches, it is easy sometimes to think that ‘others know better’ and blindly follow advice given. However, feedback from different people can be conflicting. I love this tip from Iain where he reminds us that at the end of the day, we know our business best and hence it is up to us to take on the feedback, determine what value-adds and what has to be left behind.
In life, that can also be applied. From birth, we have expectations laid on us by our parents. Then there are the peers and other humans whom we interact with that have their opinion on who we should be/dress/eat etc. Everyone can commentate and you can turn to them for ideas/thoughts. Let’s not forget though, that YOU are living the life and going through the experiences. End of the day, make your choice and believe that YOU did the best for YOU.
And so with that, I wrap up this chapter of being in the Bloom’s program, thankful for both the ‘business’ and ‘life’ lessons that I have gained. As a side note, we did ask for funds to run our talks in schools and workshops to youths here in Perth. At this time of writing, we are still waiting for the grant results so I am excited to see where this leads us in the next step of our WA journey!