Twelve Crazy Things in 2016

It just hit me that it’s 2016 next year. The final year of my 20s. Yes, I’ll be 29 in 2016.

dawn-nature-sunset-woman

To commemorate the blast of a ride I’ve had, I’ve decided to list 12 crazy/things-I’ve-always-wanted-to-do-but-haven’t in 2016. I’ll do one thing a month. Sounds do-able, right?

Here are my 12 things for 12 months of 2016:

Update: 2.30am, Friday, 23 September.

  1. Dye my hair a totally different and new color I’ve never had. Get red / grey highlights. Just cause. (Done)
  2. Learn how to draw. I signed up for a Visual Diary Workshop by Public Garden: http://www.public-garden.com/projects/workshop/visual-diary-travellers-workshop-goh-huiying-0 (Done)
  3. Write everyday for a month and publish it here. It could be a sentence. A paragraph. An essay. But write. I. Must. (TO DO)
  4. Write a 5,000 word short story or essay. (WIP)
  5. Go sky diving in New Zealand. (Went to NZ but didn’t skydive – half done, will have to do Sentosa version instead)
  6. Register a company. Any company. (TO DO)
  7. Learn how to cook 5 fancy dishes properly. (WIP)
    Ngoh Hiang // Pork Lasagne // Udon Noodles // Taiwanese Sesame Chicken // ?
  8. Take a photo everyday for a month. (Done. On Instagram. Not a month, but it’s definitely motivated me to post more than 90 photos on Instagram this year!)
  9. Grow my own plant. Any plant. (Done. Terrarium from Daffy and Jas)
  10. Read 10 books. (10/10): (Done)
    Midnight in Siberia // Start Something That Matters // How To Live In The City // How To Be Bored //  Wonder //  Its Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be // Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear// Black Coffee // Essays in Love // The Course of Love // The Sirens of Titan (WIP) // The Artist’s Way (WIP) // Kafka On The Shore (WIP) // The Art of Thinking Clearly
  11. Write a short letter a day for someone I’m thankful for in my life for a week. (TO DO)
  12. Reverse Bungee (Done)

I’m leaving #12 empty. For suggestions and spontaneity. Please feel free to comment and let me know what you think 🙂

Have a smashing 2016 everyone!

Society’s Crazy Demands Of Our Generation

Society’s demands on our generation are crazy.

I graduated at age 24, slightly older than my peers because I spent an extra year in university for exchange programs. I’m 28 now, just shy of 2 years to hitting the big 30, but it made me think a lot about what I’m expected to achieve by then.

I’ve always thought of 30 as a definitive milestone in life. This is the age where you are supposed to know what you want to do with your life. By now you are expected to have found a life partner, bought a house, get married, have your first kid, achieved some sort of career milestone, lived out all your crazy adventures such as travelling the world, or exited your startup by selling it for millions.

Maybe it’s because of the pressure from friends that I hang out with, or the people I look up to, but damn, that’s a lot to have accomplish by 30. When I look at what I’ve done, it’s easy to feel dejected. Wtf have I achieved? I haven’t started my own company and I’m definitely not any closer to earning millions. I think a lot of people my age feel the same way.

Nobody told me that I’d only have 6 years before I would be expected to accomplish all these feats. And it’s crazy – this rat race.

I’m trying to focus on the things that I have accomplished. Travelled around the world for a year, found someone who I can live the rest of my life with. Be on track to buy a house. Found work at an exciting startup with big dreams. But it never seems to be enough.

Crazy, right?

Welcome to November

IMG_2279Welcome to November. My plans to have read more this year have gone severely awry. But one of the things that have disappointed me the most is that I’ve failed to read more.

I’ve been making it a point to read more fiction instead of the regular self-help books. I just finished Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. In my head I kept picturing the voices as they were in the movie, but I realised that there were so many details left out from the wonderful book because of time.

Jane Austen had such a clear, critical perspective of life in her days. In Mr. Darcy’s pride, you recognize that money can’t buy everything, particularly, Elizabeth’s respect at the start of the book. It’s only towards the end, when he started acting out of love to help her that they grew fond of each other and won her heart. For Elizabeth, her prejudice against him made her blind to the wrongs that Darcy had had to endure with Mr. Wickham, and in the end it was her own sister that would suffer from her prejudices.

It’s interesting how a story can help you learn lessons.

From Pride and Prejudice, I learnt that a couple has to learn together to become the best versions of themselves. I think it’s naive to say that, “if you love me, you will accept me as I am.” A large part is realising that you are wrong, and wanting to improve.

It might have had a good ending, but it’s also far from a fairy tale. I’ve never seen so much critique in a love story about the effects of money in society and it’s power in determining who we should love. I do feel she’s a romantic at heart, because in the end the love Elizabeth and Darcy had far outdoes the pragmatic kind of love that Charlotte opted for when she decided to settle down with the annoying Mr. Collins.

Jane Austen was an excellent judge of character, reminding us that it’s more important to be a moral character, than a rich one.

It’s a joy to watch people do good work

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Left: Dedicated kopi-uncle who makes the best kopi in Hong Lim Hawker Center

There’s this kopi-uncle working in Hong Lim Hawker Center. Everyday I get kopi from him and it’s pure joy to watch him make coffee.

What sets this uncle apart from the rest of the kopi-uncles is his dedication to making a perfect cup of coffee each time. He douses hot water on the cup, whirls it around and throws it out to make sure it’s clean. Then he goes on to make the best cup of kopi, making sure everything is properly stirred and the coffee is a good brew, even if it might take a little longer than what other stalls require. It’s not hard to see that he’s truly enjoying it as well.

I guess that’s why people don’t mind waiting in line to get their daily fix of coffee. As I sip on my Kopi-C now, it’s a good reminder that no matter what you do, making the best of your craft is an important facet to enjoying what you do. And when it happens, it’s brightens up people’s day and makes them appreciate it – even if it’s just a cup of kopi.

From being a romantic to a classical as you grow older

I’m obsessed with School of Life. It’s started by contemporary philosopher, Alain de Botton.  There are three bite-sized videos each week and it’s a super practical YouTube channel, using concepts from Philosophy to help viewers lead better everyday lives. I love that it makes the subject much more accessible to the layman, instead of being shrouded in mystery and with the idea that it’s only for intellectuals.

 

I was re-watching this video about being a Romantic vs a Classical person today and it got me thinking a lot about how we evolve as we get older.

When I was much younger, I thought that many things in life were about following your instinct. We live in a age where it’s all about “following your passion” and “do what you love” or “never settle”, very American concepts that have personally led me into becoming slightly disillusioned about my own achievements in life.

More and more, I’ve found that being a better human being is very much a work-in-progress. It takes courage to accept that you are not perfect, and we all need to take a step back to reflect upon our status anxiety, envy and gradually learn to become a better person, just as we learnt to walk, talk or play sports.

 

Building a job board in Rails

So I’ve been following Mackenzie Child‘s online tutorials for ROR and managed to build a job board by following his screencast!

ggjobs

 

Interesting things I learnt during this tutorial:

  • HAML -Beautiful, DRY, well-indented, clear markup.
  • Adding models via the console.
  • Adding filters (categories to jobs).

I really enjoyed this tutorial, please try the app and let me know how I can improve.

Why beginners should attend technical meetups

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I’ve attended, sponsored or organised possibly  a total of 100 hackathons, technical meetups,  workshops, talks and conferences combined in the last couple of years. I realised that a lot of people don’t come for those meetups because they think they won’t understand the content. I’d like to change that perspective today.

You go to meetups to learn and be inspired by the community.

Some people approach meetups thinking  that everyone else around them understands exactly what the speaker is talking about and end up feeling depressed when they don’t actually know. But most meetups don’t work this way.  When I was at the last Ruby meetup I had little clue what was going on because I’m still a beginner rubyist, but when I asked my seasoned ruby dev friend sitting next to me if he understood what was going on  he whispered in my ear, “nope, no idea what he’s talking about too.”

Learning to code is like learning a new language, you need to constantly put yourself in an environment where people are speaking that new language to get good. The more you listen, the easier it is to get used to the terms people are using and how to apply them in everyday context.

Of course, you should do all the tutorials you can get your hands on and build projects, but if you couple it with attending meetups or hanging around other helpful developers who are working in the same field, you’d be surprised at how much more you can learn.

You don’t know what you don’t know.

Not fully understanding is actually a good thing. If you understood everything the speaker is sharing about, then these meetups would have little value in exposing you to new ways of doing things, or new technologies.

I know its hard to see value when you’re just picking up a new skill, but this pushes you higher up the learning curve and you never know when that tip the speaker shared about could help you become more productive in your work.

There are so many times that I’ve found out about a cool open-source project, a new tool, a better framework, a new tech initiative just by showing up at these talks.

You might find a job, a co-founder, or someone who can be your mentor at these meetups

I’ve seen how these meetups facilitate serendipitous encounters. Encounters where you may find yourself a job, a co-founder, or even someone who could be your tech mentor. The tech community in Singapore is so vibrant, so active and most importantly, so helpful. Ever since I started Geek Girls, there have been so many people who are volunteering their time to teach, coach or speak for free.

If you’re the shy type, then don’t stress yourself out about having to meet people at these events. My good friend Valerie attends meetups and tells me that she’s not there to meet 100 people or exchange namecards with everyone. She’s there so she can find one person to have a good conversation with and exchange insights about the industry for an hour or two. That’s how she decides if that event was fruitful for her.

OK, so where are the meetups in Singapore anyway?

I’m glad you asked! WeBuild.SG or TheList.SG are great resources for tech meetups in Singapore. See you there!

Building BentoBooks #launchin30

Hi everyone!

Today I’m excited to announce that I’m going to build BentoBooks for my #launchin30 challenge, inspired by Mackenzie Child‘s 12 x 12 challenge.

In thirty days, I will launch this new book exchange app. I’ve already completed OneMonthRails and built a small Pinterest clone – although the images are disabled because AWS is crazy expensive for hosting!

Purpose of the app:

To facilitate easy book exchanges between a book club community.

Here are some of the features that I can foresee this app having:

1. User Authentication

2. Private Messaging

3. Image Uploads

4. Validations

5. Pagination

If you’re starting just like me, some guides that have been really helpful so far (will be updating as I go along):

Install Rails – For a step by step guide to installing Rails on your Mac or PC.

Ruby Toolbox  and Ruby Gems – For DB of Ruby Gems

Heroku Toolbelt – headache free way to deploy your apps

I’ve really enjoyed building the Pinterest app, but have totally dropped the ball and this is a good chance to reboot! Good luck to me! You can check out Bento Books‘ progress.

The five most important words to winning a client

How

By far, the five most underrated words in winning someone over are “How can I help you?“.

Far too often I’ve experienced cold emails,  calls, face-to-face pitches that start off with a pitch about the company’s products and services, but never asking about the person or organisation’s personal goals. You read all these sales textbooks that teach you to hustle, do objection-handling and how to create the perfect pitch, but they seldom tell you to ask the most important question.

It seems like common sense, but I’ve found that it stems from our own self-interest, to promote our own products than to focus on really bringing value to your clients. “How Can I Help You?” literally allows you to discover your customers needs and injects a personal touch into the brands service.

My favourite book on this is SPIN SELLING (summary of book in linked-pdf), a sales-book based on data that dispels the myth of pressuring people into signing contracts with constant irritating calls for high value sales. I think this should be made an essential reading for all B2B entrepreneurs looking to make their first sale.

I’m a firm believer that if we took more effort in starting the pitch by asking our client, “What are your goals this year?” and “How can I help you achieve those goals”, will not only help us sell more, but create better products.

So.. my dear reader, how can I help you? What are your goals for this year? How can I help you achieve them?

New Beginnings

Happy New Year. It’s 2015.

START

I’m excited about this year. It’s the year where I’m not running away anymore. I’m just going to dive head first into starting my own business, focusing on SG Geek Girls and doing some freelance work on the side.

“Don’t let the person you were hold you back from who you want to be.” I’ve seen this quote a couple of times and it’s been stuck at the back of my head.

For too long I’ve been focusing on what people think about what I do. But it’s never about that, it’s not your job to rate your work. Your job is to keep creating, making, building. I’ve become scared to put something out there under my own name that it’s stalled my work. I hide behind working for someone else because if it fails – it’s not my fault.

Here’s to a new year ahead. Enjoy everyone!