1. ALWAYS be grateful for EVERYTHING you have. (Cambodia)
After hearing about the tourist traps and witnessing people beg and lie to me to make a living, it seemed like anything goes. Most of the locals were making $50-100USD per month. That's less than $2/day. Yet Cambodians seemed to be the happiest people on Earth, in the simplest living conditions. Limited hot water and electricity in some places made even the worst conditions in Vancouver seem like a fairy tale.
Sinac, my Tuk-Tuk driver for a day, showed so much appreciation and joy from GETTING to work, I was extremely humbled. Could you imagine being that appreciative of where you're at, wherever you're at?
2. Work your ass off and never settle for being mediocre. (Philippines)
While I was enjoying what seemed like luxury because of the currency exchange differences, I also realized the huge opportunity in earning capacity back home. Though life seemed simpler in Manila, it's also a lot harder. With long days and long hours, brutal pollution and working conditions, Canadian employers seemed like guardian angels.
... Yeah, you're right. Maybe that's going too far. But putting my head down and going to work seems like a mighty fine idea.
3. In unknown territory, go explore. (Thailand)
The best feeling in the world wasn't getting lost in Bangkok for 10 hours and absorbing everything the city had to offer. It was unexpectedly finding my way back home after that. Not only did I see tons, but it felt amazing discovering familiarity. There's nothing quite like activating your internal GPS and independence and rushing off on an adventure.
I went through an emotional roller coaster of feeling exhausted, grumpy and judged to feeling confident, exhilarated and at home in the span of the day. I wouldn't trade those tougher emotions for anything else. In facing them, I grew immensely.
Oh, and if I didn't go explore, I probably wouldn't have had the best meal of my life. (LINK)
4. Writing is the best outlet for clarity. (China)
Want the cheapest and most uplifting cure to stress and worry? It's writing.
Because I was traveling by myself for the majority of my trip; I often had a lot of time alone with my thoughts. Personal questions about work, relationships, and life constantly barraged my conscious mind and in effort to maintain my sanity, I would write to clear the air. Sometimes I didn't have any answers, but I would just jot down questions. As the day passed, I would monitor my thoughts and find probable answers. Ranging from mildly retarded to highly genius, I would constantly be throwing poor ideas out and storing the better ones for later use. Creativity soared as I searched for better ways to describe or invent stories. Reading other books was great too, not only to increase knowledge about new topics but also to explore different forms of prose.
5. There's always a party. (Vietnam)
Singing and dancing like no one else is watching is the funnest thing I know to do. Completely disregarding judgement, I found that I could pick my mood up instantly by singing dumb ass songs or bobbing my head on a train. It's cool to be different. Trust me, everyone else on the MRT was jealous I was having more fun than they were.
Self-talk played a huge part in keeping myself company as well, as I entertained and chased laughter in self-amusement. In gloomier moods, I would begin talking out loud to myself and narrating play-by-plays. Nothing better for attitude management.
6. Asking for advice is the quickest route to success. (Singapore)
Everybody has different problems in life. The good news is that my relatives have gone through most of my problems already. It turns out that the dilemmas that I'm currently dealing with seem trivial compared to the stuff they've dealt with. Got relationship problems? Family issues? Strapped for cash? Career in suspense?
It's not that bad.
In one instance, I spent 5 hours listening to how my aunt raised my cousins. I found out what the hardest thing was for her and how she balanced raising kids as a mom with her work as a professional. Without sharing my problems, I just asked her what obstacles and challenges she overcame and then I shut up and listened.
Because she had raised such amazing kids, I knew her advice was solid. Through her perspective, I was better fit to deal with my own life. I find that more people are willing to give advice than to take it. Shoot, give it to me! I'll take it all!
Through this trip, I learnt to follow examples of success in problem areas and ask how to emulate it. It's not often you get to mentor someone younger, and when you do, most people jump at the chance to instill wisdom.
Turning this to you, what lessons have you learnt from traveling?
PS. When traveling, you're never really alone ;)
This year marks the end of my university chapter.
5 Years that encompassed
- Alpha Kappa Psi
- Southwestern Redline
- Walter Gage Toastmasters
- University degree from UBC
The past 5 years have been phenomenal and an absolute blur of AWESOMENESS.
That being said, I want to announce that I will be working on a new album, titled "Get what you came for."
A wise friend of mine, Alborz Massah, shared with me the following statement,
"You get in life what you have the courage to ask for."
I realized that the majority of people (including myself) don't always get what we want because we get to a certain level and we become satisfied with that level of performance. That's a scary thought, especially if getting what we want is just around the corner, needing just a little more persistence, dedication and commitment.
I'm moving on, and I want to capture all the feelings I've had over the past half-decade with an album to put those thoughts together.
I want to make sure that if you want something, you go for it.
You don't let anybody tell you otherwise.
You don't get to tell yourself that you can't get it, or that getting most of what you want is good enough.
Second place isn't good enough if you know you are capable of first.
This song was fun to do! It was also very different than what I've done, because hell, if I'm not growing, I'm dying. and I'm way too young to not be still growing.
To everyone that's been part of my university experience, thank you.
You've made it THAT much better <3
Click here to download: Jay Kiew - Get What You Came For (mp3 link)
Have you ever run into one of those people who are constantly complaining about their life? Granted, getting a parking ticket may suck, or getting a lower grade on a paper may not be what you expected, and sometimes we complain about this, but I've noticed a distinct difference between how happy each person based on how they look at their past.
Some look at their past with anger, frustration and regret; they lament why it could have been so much better. Others look at their past with respect, humility, acceptance and appreciation.
However, in both cases, they have the same yearning: to make things better.
The latter individual pursues the future by focusing on the present and positively appreciating the experience of the past. The former harbours negative feelings about the past and a lack of contentment for the present.
You have a simple choice about how to see things, with self amusement or self pity.
Which one will you pick, circumstance-to-circumstance?
Chronic Dissatisfaction - displeasure with how life is
Contentment and growth - an eager desire to make things better combined w/ being at peace with how things are
What I've learnt recently spending time with UBC's finest
At our fall Alpha Kappa Psi alumni social, Azim Wazeer, former UBC Senate and Board of Directors member, said something that deeply impacted me. Audience members were all looking for reflections of both UBC graduates and AKPsi brothers with the role of AKPsi in their lives. Azim modestly started with this: "I don't know how much wisdom I can share with you guys, seeing as I'm only 22, but I'll do my best to just share my experience."
This sparked a humble realization in me that as much as I do know, and as many people that I do know, there are so many people that are sharper and smarter than I am. I went on to approach 10 of the respected names I have here throughout my time at UBC yet never had the chance to officially meet. I wanted to sit down with them and get a better idea of their schedule on daily basis, what drives them, and why they're doing what they do. Here's a summary of what I've learnt from them.
Joshua Sunga, current president of AIESEC at the time of writing, started our conversation with "Jay, how can I help you?" I was shocked at how quick and eager he was to help me, but it came clear when he said later on "I know if I help you, you can help the students in organization who need it." He went on to point me in the right direction in regards to whom I should talk to.
David Hyunh, 2nd year CUS rep, shared how honesty and being up front with one's intentions has gotten him to where he is now. Having secured an internship with KPMG this summer, it is easy to see how he connected in the application process. His simple personal message? If you help enough people get what they want, you'll get what you want. He attributes learning this life lesson from Tim Tong. He has an innate compassion for helping people and doing well, driven by pursuing self-growth to become better than where he is now. David's solution for the future is hard work, an openness to new experiences & new people, as well as never being complacent with your accomplishments.
Sophia Ng reviews her lecture notes from that day to solidify what she's learnt, so yup, you guessed it, she's extremely academic. It doesn't stop there, but continues on with her rigid schedule that helps her balance her relationship, her schooling, her work, and her active lifestyle focused on healthy dieting and training for a marathon. She taught me that a regulated sleeping schedule and a simple understanding that discipline and commitment coupled with directive action lead to results. With five alarms set, five minutes apart from one another, she is always up when she needs to be, and I have applied that to my life and haven't been late ever since.
Jon Degerli stood out as one of the sharpest individuals I have met on first impression. Well-dressed and well-spoken, you can tell that he is eager to learn from others and knows how to get where he wants. He has direction long-term and understands how to properly connect and network with others. He shared with me his current focus: approaching 20+ marketing firms/ad agencies and setting up what he calls "information meetings." What are information meetings? They are short 15-30 minute meetings with a firm where Jon shares his background and experience, and -asks for advice-. His words? If you ask for a job, you'll get advice. If you ask for advice, you're more likely to get a job.
Margaret Kim is in her second year at UBC, yet will be taking over as the president for AIESEC UBC in a couple weeks. She reminded me that even if our original intentions don't work out, there are always opportunities and options to look into. She helped look into ways my job as a corporate recruiter could be promoted through AIESEC's conference and how I could help train students in sales.
Bob Wang, UBC Sauder graduate in marketing, is somebody I would describe as a good man. I've been friends with Bob for a while, learning something new every time. An avid reader, he spoke recently of John Maxwell and Stephen Covey. I was struggling with figuring out what to do when I overfilled my plate and had too many obligations. He said, "Why don't you go back to using the important/urgent grid and place your tasks appropriately? That'll help you get rid of the unimportant time wasters. (see picture at the bottom) Do what's important now Jay."
Kim Choy has an eagerness to develop himself. Having just come back from exchange in Warwick, he learnt that being an outstanding individual is dependent on who you spend the most time with. Kim has always been an athlete, whether it was running, swimming or basketball competitively, There's that quote that says you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. In Warwick, he met students who he felt surpassed him in everything: attitude, discipline, work ethic, you name it. Back in Vancouver now, he is pursuing life with vigor, realizing that it is easy to be complacent, but harder to do when you surround yourself with people who push themselves and you.
Ben Chen, founder of Blank Vinyl Project, UBC's first independent record label, surprised me the first time I spoke to him. From afar, he appeared like one of those guys that was really outgoing. When we met up for lunch, he revealed that he was more naturally introverted yet had grown out of that over time. He was soft-spoken, yet succinct and clear. His statements had direction and focus, passion and drive. He wanted to build something at UBC that would foster a community for musicians to grow and learn from one another. After spending time w/ him, I felt like we were fairly similar. University had pushed us into something different where we had figured out who we were and where we wanted to go. Ben Chen reinforced that if you have a vision for helping other people, it's only a matter of time before they see how they can help you.
Daniel Kong, president of Advertisinc, is an extraordinary individual who is passionate about fashion. After I shared with him my choice to be selectively ignorant (I don't watch the news unless something huge comes up), he introduced his two favorite places for information that was interesting and different: www.adage.com and Monocle magazine. Monocle is a niche magazine that shares diverse insight on global and current news in the world. He helped me find a way to continue learning new things and provide a source of conversation threads, without having to sift through Facebook for it (which is what I have done in the past with viral videos).
Dima Pel is one of my former roommates and the only student this year to be given an invitation to interview for Harvard's med school. I sat down with him and helped him practice interviewing because he wanted to make sure he stood out from everybody else. And stand out he did. Why? Whenever he answered a question, he drew on personal experiences that impacted him in becoming the person he is today. These personal experiences were intimate and private, but he shared with me story after story about why he wants to be a doctor. The way he was 100% genuine made me want to help him fulfill his aspirations because he was being a HUMAN.
Get it yet?
The world is one social network, interconnected in so many different ways. Family and relatives, friends and loved ones, co-workers and classmates are all there for you to help you get where you want, but only if you reach out and ask for advice.
Are you outcome dependent?
Tuesday, December 5th.
Michelle sat in her desk, waiting for the final to start. She had managed to get in 2 solid days of studying and felt fairly prepared for the finance exam. Still, even in her 3rd year of university, she strongly disliked taking tests. A decent student, Michelle had a solid B average throughout each semester and worked fairly hard for it. Yet, at the end of each semester, final exams came and dropped her mark anywhere from 5-10 percent because she froze.
The timer on the classroom projector hit 12:00 noon. The 2 hour countdown for finance had begun. Michelle looked at her paper and blinked. It was happening again. She didn’t understand the first question. Nervousness spread across her body as she started tapping the desk, trying to read the questions again.
Thoughts of her current mark going into the final seeped into her mind. If I’m at a 75%...and I get 50% on the final… that would mean I would end up with a 65%! Oh my gosh!
What do you think happened? I'm not too sure, but chances are she didn't do too well.
Lately, I’ve been noticing a lot about top performers. In high pressure situations, they don’t crumble. Why?
Because they take away the pressure on themselves.
They do so by not even focusing on the future, but focusing on the present. They are not outcome-dependent, but instead focused on the task at hand.
They are performance-dependent. What this does is it allows the individual to activate the logical, problem-solving part of the brain, bypassing the emotional part that tells you "OH NO!"
I noticed the following video about Brandon Roy, an NBA player, on Lilly’s Facebook feed. I’m not a huge basketball fan, but watching this made it so obviously clear. For somebody to perform excellently under pressure, you’d have to not be thinking about anything but right now.
By removing the dependency on a good outcome, you are able to focus with decisiveness in your actions and thoughts, providing a certain sense of clarity. As such, you begin to act on the world around you, instead of being strained by it. What this requires is a sense that your past performance should lead up to a sense of confidence that you are prepared.
For instance, you studied 2-3 days, at an average of 7 hours per day, with a decent 75% as a class grade. This should be the foundation upon which you base your emotions in a final. You then are able to tell yourself, "Hey, based on what I've done in the past 3 months, I should know enough to take care of these questions in front of me." This leads to a neutral pacification of your negative emotions of nervousness, lack of confidence, stress, pressure, freaking out, etc.
Just some food for thought ;)
Are you outcome dependent?
Check out the video below! http://www.nba.com/blazers/tbtv/video.html?videoID=2525
It was a Sunday, and i was on my way to church. The weather was nice out, sunny rays of light splitting through the car windshield. December was here, marking a -2 degrees Celsius on the thermometer. I parked my car and rushed in, 1minute before we started, and looked for my preferred spot on the left hand side of the auditorium.
There it was, empty.
The seat by the air vent. Oh, so sweet. =P
It was a seat of comfort and warmth, gently blasting a gust of hot air at my body. This was welcomed, especially with the winter wonderland outside. I sat back, pulled out my Bible, and relaxed, listening to the pastor preach. The heat was so nice...
20 minutes later, I dozed off.
If you asked me, I wouldn't be able to tell you what the preacher spoke about. I glanced at my Bible, it lay on my lap open at Deuteronomy, the first chapter we looked at that day.
All the value that I would have received by staying awake was lost because I chose to be comfortable. Multiply that over time and that's a lot of lost messages.
I find we do that a lot in class, in work, in life. We go with the best intentions, but often fail to follow up being present. Take, for instance, a university class. You go to university, choose classes that you think you'll like, and then go to those classes. All for the purpose of higher education. Yet at the same time, we pull out our laptops and lack the discipline to stay on topic in class. We surf the web, go on Facebook, check our email, and so on. Sitting by the vent could mean the difference between being physically present and mentally present.
I find that the best days I have are the days that I am learning something new, adding to my knowledge about the world/life. Other days pass by with nothing gained, but time lost.
Are you sitting by the vent?
A blog on my continuing journey through life, covering self-development and success strategies, but also personal reflection.