I wouldn’t be who I am today if not for…

Nov 22, 2007

I’ve been tagged by Chris Brogan for this meme:

“Who had a big influence on you and how did that affect the direction of your life or career?“

We don’t have Thanksgiving here in Singapore, but I think this is an awesome meme, and I’m honored to be included. Thanks Chris – but more on that later. I’m always up for promoting others, and for writing about relationships. So, here’s the people who’ve influenced me, and who have changed my life. If not for you guys, I truly wouldn’t be who I am today.

My mum – Kind of obvious. She’s always been supportive of what I’ve done, even when it’s way out of the norm and really risky. Like quitting school. She’s given me enough space to explore the things I’m interested in, while teaching me good principles for life.

Simin – One of the most (if not the most) important people in my life. Yes, we’ve had disagreements and fights and all. But she’s always been one of the brightest sparks in my life, making me laugh, and just being a great friend. She was the main inspiration behind my temper improving, and basically, I became a better person because of her.

Samantha Wong – She’s always been there for me. Whenever I’ve been down, I could turn to her. She’s someone who I can talk to about anything. The times with her have kept me going in some of my lowest points in life, and ultimately to get out of those points. [edit: for those of you who might know her, no, this does not refer to the Samantha Wong from NUS High.]

Kai Hui – If not for her, I might not even be alive right now. Literally. When I was really at one of my lowest points (even toying with the idea of suicide – I don’t think I would have done it, but it was on my mind), she pulled me out of it.

Grace Huang – One of the first true friends I had, who I could really open up to and count on. She’s been my friend longer than anyone else, and even until now, I know I can count on her. Helps me to keep my head on straight and not get too emotional when stuff happens, and has been a great reminder that some friendships can last the distance, and that there are people who really will always be there.

Lihsia – I’ve blogged about her before a few times, I think. She’s been a huge encouragement and support, and an awesome inspiration. One of the smartest people I have the honor of knowing personally, having her as a friend has helped improved the way I think. When I first started this blog, she was my sounding board for a lot of my ideas, and she helped me sort out my thoughts for my first posts. More than that, on a personal level, she’s someone who I can trust, someone who’s always been willing to listen. A truly great friend.

Joshua Chan – He’s one guy I look up to a lot, and someone who’s influenced the way I think. He was more or less the one who cemented my opinion of the formal education system (that it’s broken). Great with words, always witty and often controversial, he was the first person who got me to start thinking about breaking out of the status quo.

Wei Min – Keyboardist and musician extraordinaire. He was the one who pushed me forward in my keyboard playing, and in my musicianship in general. He was a great encouragement, giving me good tips, and being harsh enough when required. Awesome musician, even more amazing mentor.

Natalie Yeo – My group leader in my first Megalife camp, and a great inspiration ever since. Haven’t really talked much in recent months, but she always helped me keep my eyes on God, no matter the circumstance. Even just seeing the way she lives her life is a great encouragement. She kept me firm in my Christian walk whenever I felt like giving up.

Chris Brogan – I emailed him for suggestions when I first started this blog, and I’m really glad I did. He gave me great advice, and even went on to promote and link to my blog. And he’s continued being a great encouragement – including me in memes like this, inviting me to PodCamp Boston 2 (and helping me in getting there), among others.

And last, but definitely not least….You – Yes, I know this sounds cliche. But without you guys, my awesome readers, this blog wouldn’t have lasted this long. Your encouragement has really kept me going, pushing me to continue posting, and to keep trying to write better posts. Your comments have thoughts keep me on my feet. Your own blogs give me inspiration and ideas to write about. So, thank you, all of you.

What about you? Who are your influences? Feel free to consider yourself tagged by me if you think it’s a worthwhile topic. Or you can share here in the comments. Specifically, I want to tag Sarah Deutsch, Jean Browman, Kabren, Tom O’Leary, Lynn, Esther.

Sui Generis Weekly #2

Nov 19, 2007

The second episode of Sui Generis Weekly is here. If you subscribe to the complete blog, you won’t get the enclosures, but you can download or play the podcast from these posts as well. So, just to make it easier for you, you can subscribe to just the podcast (with enclosures) here. That subscription doesn’t include the other posts over the week, though, so I would recommend subscribing to both. Subscription buttons will be added to the sidebar by next week, so you might want to wait for that to subscribe.

If the embedded player fails, you can listen from here, or download the mp3.

Covered in this podcast:
– Importance of people and relationships
– Visit to NUS High*
– SHPS GEP dinner
– Letting others befriend you
– World Pool Championship Lessons
– Blogger Challenge
Free-Range Drama Farm
– Quote of the Week, from Buddha*
– “Just Someone” by Natalie Gelman*

*New items: not mentioned previously on this blog

SHPS GEP 10th Anniversary

Nov 14, 2007

This year is the 10th Anniversary of the Gifted Education Program in St. Hilda’s Primary School. Over the weekend, the school held a dinner to celebrate the occasion, with the former and current students all invited.

On our visit back, one of the teachers made a comment that really struck me. She said that our batch goes back to visit more frequently than any other batch. I think the reason behind that is the impact the school had on our lives. At least for me, St. Hilda’s was basically the start of where I developed to be who I am today. Those were the years where I developed my interest in computing, for example.

More importantly, though, they were also the years of the first lasting friendships I made. And those are things that stick with you. To me, that’s the true value of school. It’s not the content. It’s the people and connections. And the opportunities to explore. The things I remember most are not the lessons, it’s the times during recess when we played, and also the different opportunities and projects we got to do.

The teachers, of course, played a huge part in all of that. And for me, that’s why I go back to visit, even though I graduated 5 years ago and have been to 2 other schools since then. It’s not because I learned more there than in any other school. It’s because the teachers there are the ones who truly opened the door for me, and the friendships we made there are really lasting.

Going back on the weekend, the bond within our batch was quite obvious, to me at least. Even after 5 years, we still have a blast when we’re together. We still do a lot of crazy stuff. Any of my former classmates reading this will probably be shocked, because I’ve never been much of a “school spirit” kind of person, but yes, the friendships still matter to me.

What’s my point in all of this? It’s partly to point out that the least important thing about the formal education system is the education – the academic side of it. And it’s great to see that there are companies – like 37signals – who recognize this.

But this post is meant as more than just a dig at the formal education system. It’s to show the importance of relationships. To me, that’s the most important thing in life. The people. They are the ones who make the most impact, and add the most value to life. And they are what makes life worth living, for me at least.

So today, my question to you is this. How are you impacting the lives of others?

(Oh, and yes, this is also one of the few times I’ll be posting a personal photo with myself in it. Not because I don’t want you guys to see me, just because I don’t really like being in photos. But it’s meant to emphasize the point of the importance of relationships.)