15 Lessons I Learned in 2016

On January 1st 2016, I posted the following image on my Facebook. Essentially it was a pledge of the things I wish to do for the whole year. I’m glad I posted it because 2016 was a year of an accelerated learning.

Posted on the first day of 2016

Lesson #1: Appreciation

Since I moved back to Malaysia from Beijing, China I was able to appreciate more of what Malaysia has to offer. After spending more than 10 years outside of the country and having the opportunity to travel around the region, Malaysia is really a good country to live in. There are plenty of opportunities out there if you take the time and effort to find them.

Lesson #2: Stop Blaming and Complaining

I used to complain about everything. It’s human nature to express our dissatisfaction about something. If something doesn’t work out, we tend to blame something or somebody. It happens all the time. Just look at social media, you will see plenty of nasty comments on almost any news posted. I used to find scapegoats to judge to feel better about myself. The fact is that it didn’t take me anywhere.

Lesson #3: Take Action

The conservation effort was highlighted on the local daily

Everyone is given 24 hours a day but how can successful people be successful? I don’t think they just sit down and wait for things to happen. They take action. I also stopped using the word ‘busy’ because no one is too busy for something. One of the biggest action I took last year was to initiate the ‘Save Melalap Station Project’ – a 110-year old train station in Sabah (North Borneo). Although progress is slow but it has created awareness with the public and the authorities. If the station is saved, it will create jobs for the locals and drive economic activities in the area.

Lesson #4: Build Bridges

The fastest way to learn is to meet more people. Meeting new people helped broaden my horizons. Just about a few weeks ago, I created a Facebook post called ‘100+ Malaysian Heroes of 2016.’ Through this post, I had the opportunity to connect with many of them and we are already planning to do great things that would inspire more people for 2017. It also gave me the opportunity to reach out to more people via the wonderful folks from The Star TV and BFM radio.

Lesson #5: Keep on Learning

Startup Weekend allows you to turn your idea to reality

Every day is an opportunity for us to learn something new. If your boss gives you a task which you’re not sure how to do, take it and learn how to do it. Ask someone who might know how to do it. I didn’t know how to turn my startup idea into reality so I joined Startup Weekend MaGIC in March 2016, and was able to build my startup called AirShoppr within 54 hours. Not only that, my co-founders Andy, Clyde and myself won the program.

Lesson #6: Pushing My Boundaries

Delegates of ASEAN Youth Leadership Congress in Cagayan de Oro

I was contacted by a few wonderful people this year to speak at conferences in Malaysia and around the region. I happily accepted some of the offers and spoke to more than 600 youths from the Asia Pacific region at the Asia Pacific Leader Initiative in Putrajaya (near Kuala Lumpur) and at the ASEAN Youth Leadership Congress in Cagayan de Oro, The Philippines. I wanted to use these opportunities to enhance my public speaking skills and I’m glad I did it.

Lesson #7: Create Value

Group photo with Car Boot Sale participants

I live in Cyberjaya, Malaysia which is located about 35km South of Kuala Lumpur. Most people would say that Cyberjaya is “far” and “doesn’t have anything.” Instead of getting all these negative feedback about Cyberjaya, I created a website called CyberjayaCity.com and built a digital community on Facebook. I share and promote all the good things in Cyberjaya. I also created value by organising a free Car Boot Sale by working together with a shopping centre and a local property developer.

Lesson #8: Constantly Experimenting

This post was shared close to 5,400 times in 24 hours

Scientists achieve great things because they experiment and if they fail, they try again. Life is like that. We experiment with so many things in life without really realising it. Of course, I’m not talking about experimenting randomly but it has to be focused on achieving a goal. I love doing experiments on Facebook so back in June, I created this Facebook post which was shared more than 5,300 times in 24 hours.

Lesson #9: Sharing My Experience

Each one of us is learning every day. Some of the experiences are worth sharing and may inspire others. My experience may not necessarily mean anything to most people but if one person is able to relate to my experience and able to learn from it, I have already created value for someone. When I was invited to speak at youth conferences, I didn’t tell them how to do things because they can easily Google for that kind of information, so instead, I told them about my life experience and let them figure out how to make it relevant for them.

Lesson #10: Live Healthy

Fitness tracker is extremely affordable nowadays

People say health is wealth and that’s one of my goals for last year and for the rest of my life. It was challenging because we have easy access to good food in Malaysia. I went for my yearly health check and everything was good except I need to control my diet. Aim to walk more than 10,000 steps a day and do invest in a good health tracker. My father’s wife (not my birth mother) has recently passed away due to heart complication.

Lesson #11: Don’t Assume

Pitch@Palace was held in Malaysia in June

I must admit that I used to spend a lot of time making assumptions of everything. When I found out that The Duke of York is coming to Malaysia for the Pitch@Palace event and scouting for Malaysian startups to pitch, I went ahead and submitted my application. Despite being an early stage startup, we were selected to pitch in front of The Duke of York and Tan Sri Tony Fernandes. We didn’t get to go to London, but it was a great experience meeting and talking to these top leaders.

Lesson #11: No One is Coming to Save You

This may sound sad and negative but the truth is no one is coming to save you. You have to take responsibility of your own life and what happens in it. People may be able to assist you in some ways but ultimately you are the one responsible of what’s going to happen in your life.

Lesson #12: People will Judge You but that’s OK

We get judged by people all the time and even more so when you’re trying to be different or taking a path that’s less ordinary. People will talk behind your back but don’t take it personal. Mix around with people who strive to achieve success and who are able to support your cause or effort. You can’t control what you can’t control.

Lesson #13: Believing in My Intuition

Sabah’s first ever historical photos calendar

About two years ago I thought about an idea to produce calendars by North Borneo Historical Society. I wished I started earlier because I never expected people would buy them. I started by doing a simple mock up of the calendar and running a simple Facebook ad. Cutting the story short, I managed to sell and distribute them all over Malaysia during the past two months. If there’s something good that you really feel like doing and it scares you, that’s usually the right thing to do.

Lesson #14: Eliminating Self-Limiting Beliefs

We are programmed to believe that everything has a limit

I grew up learning that there’s a limitation to everything. Limitations only exist in our minds. One of the reasons why many successful people out there are able to achieve amazing success is because they believe sky is the limit. There are always occasions when things don’t seem to go your way but that’s just part of the journey in achieving your goals. Some of the ways I remind myself of limitless opportunities are by looking at the stars or by watching the movie Star Wars.

Lesson #15: Build Opportunities

If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door” – there have been many instances on how I created opportunities instead of waiting for them to come. You get lucky by increasing the chances for it to happen. If you need to connect with someone in particular, there’s always a way to do it especially everyone is so connected nowadays. Check if he or she has a mutual friend or connection on LinkedIn.

Thank you Datin Seri Paduka Marina Mahathir for sharing this
To top it all off, Datin Seri Paduka Marina Mahathir (she is the daughter of Malaysia’s former Prime Minister) shared my post on the ‘100+ Malaysian Heroes of 2016’ to her 230,000 followers.

Thinking positive thoughts will get you somewhere
2017 will be another year of experimenting, learning, connecting with more awesome people, being extremely uncomfortable and achieving greater heights. If you believe this post would benefit someone, please help share it!

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