Guest Seminar, Spring 2013

Nanz Chong-Komo, Patrick Liew and Darren Ho, all showed us that we can fail, then learn from the mistakes and start again with completely different and better perspectives, by focusing on things that are more important - people and love. A theme unplanned for in our guest seminar last night.

During the guest seminar, a guest approached me and asked me what I was doing that was different from a professor in another university, and if I was tenured. I was stuck for a moment: I wasn't trying to do something different or stand out amongst my colleagues. Firstly, I had chosen to focus on teaching and not research, and the former is never enough to get even be considered for tenure. In fact, none of my colleagues in my own department ever showed interest in what I do, paid any attention, or thought that all the effort put into the guest seminar belonged to our department's teaching curriculum. In fact, instead of being paid, I spend my own pocket money running the guest seminar. Yet semester after semester, my TAs and I make it happen, because we know that we alone cannot teach entrepreneurship as effectively as REAL people who have tasted and experienced it. In fact, I want very much for some of my students to become just like the guests we invite one day: real.

As Nanz spoke, she reminded me of the woman I have always admired: she did not let her beauty stand in her way of doing extraordinary things in down-to-earth and meaningful ways. I was reminded of the days we were in the same committee that selected Elim Chew to be my successor as the Most Promising Woman Entrepreneur of the Year (Me in 2000 and Elim in 2001). I was reminded of the days we shared the same perils of entrepreneurship, and she remembered how my employees too tried to steal my IPR, and how they too carried printers and computers out of my office and I was pregnant when I had to handle those rubbish. Yesterday, she reminded me that she has gone a long, long way and become even more beautiful, powerful and graceful. While entrepreneurship was lonely, she was a pillar of strength to me. I am so blessed to have a friend in her.

Patrick's charisma, his communication skills and his main theme about letting love be the center of our lives makes complete sense to me. In 2009, a student asked me privately why I taught unconventionally and with so much passion. I looked him in the eye and told him because I love my students. I can still recall how he looked away to avoid my eyes. I have never said that again since because I realized I made my students so uncomfortable with so 'wierd' a thought. But that is the fact. So besides showing love as an entrepreneur as Patrick reminded us, we must remember to show love to people wherever we are: Using things and loving people, not loving things and using people, and for my students, I hope they will never use people and love grades.

Darren's message through his stories was clear: a tyrant turned a servant-leader with a big heart. He reminded me how we can let our pride and lack of nimbleness to cause us to fall. His sharing also reminded me that we should not let circumstances change our goals and mission: when an employee stole from his company, he didn't forget the mission of his company, which is to give life changing opportunities to people exactly like this betraying employee. In the end, he turned this person around and bought his trust, and I believe his tough love will continue affect millions of lives.

This year, Chak, my fellow pioneer internet entrepreneur, my senior in RJC, and now a renowned venture capitalist was also here. I saw how droves of students surrounded him to ask for advice as they present their own business ideas. As I watch his selfless sharing and guidance to the young generation, I wonder what I have done to deserve such support from such an established man, except to ask humbly. I hope my students can become venture capitalists too, because I know that if I have influenced them correctly, then they will not become vultures but will invest and manage their funds with a big heart.

My alumnus were busier than me - some pitching their ideas, some sharing their lives, some just being there for us. Vincent, Andy, Alan, Clement, Sam and a lot more alumnus entrepreneurs were amongst us, with the intention to serve our little community together with my Teaching Assistants, Zi Rong (Head), Clarine, Ronald, Beng How and Div.

Guest seminar started in 2006 and I put this in place for students to grow and learn, yet I found myself benefiting more than anything else. I have always been blessed by great speakers who give me new perspectives and new inspirations. Last night, as I watch them speak, I am reminded why I had to put everything I love about being an entrepreneur on hold to become a lecturer. I am reminded that I am a mother above all else, and the little agreement I made with God: that I will give up all my career dreams to look after my five children until they are big enough to not need me moment by moment, and the assurance I get is that when they are big enough, I will not miss out one bit and return to the world I feel most comfortable with. Yet during this time in the 'wilderness', I am never alone. I am often among the greatest, freshest and most nimble minds in the land, and have a chance to influence them in small little ways. As I watch my alumnus and read about their successes, I am reminded of the time I spent with them, and though my contribution to their successes might be meager, I am often showered with an oversized portion of love. And I know, that should I have a chance to do it all over again, I have friends - old and new. What more can I ask for?

Date: March 20, 2013

Venue: Ngee Ann Kongsi Auditorium at School of Accountancy

Time: 4:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.


Speaker 1 - Nanz Chong-Komo - Motivational and Corporate Speaker

Speaker 2 - Patrick Liew - CEO of HSR Global Ltd

Speaker 3 - Darren Ho - CEO of Azvox


And the videos are here:

Nanz Chong

Patrick Liew

Darren Ho

The Q&A