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.
I figure there are two ways your actions play out in life. With the first way, you have a bucket of water. You push your fist in, and take it out. This represents your actions in life. The bucket of water represents the world that we live in. When you fist-punch the water in the bucket, it creates ripples. The ripples can spread, depending on how hard or fast you punch it. The ripples represent the impact that you've had on the water, or the impact your actions have on the world.
The second way your actions can play out are with a lump of moldable plaster or clay. If you push your hand into the clay, you're left with a handprint. Duh. Likewise, if clay was the world, and your hand is your actions in life, you'd leave an impact on the world.
Both scenarios contain the same analogy, with one difference. In the first case with the water bucket, when you remove your hand, ripples spread, but then they disappear. Your efforts can be doubled, tripled, and even last a lifetime, but you won't leave a lasting impression in the bucket of water after you're done punching the water. There won't be any impact. With the moldable clay, you leave an impression even after you're gone.
With your current daily actions in life, are you spending time In the bucket of water or with clay?
Kick your bucket habits, and go with Playdoh instead ;)
If you were to live to 80 years old, that's how many months you have. It's approximately 27,000 days.
If I have a choice everyday to write out what that day will be, and a limited number of days, you bet that I will live everyday as if it's my last.
My blind father passed away at the age of 58 from cancer, but before he died, he told me this: 'Jay, there are only two things you can't do as a blind person. You can't drive and you can't become a surgeon.'
He was the most humble down-to-earth person I've had in my life, and he vigorously pursued each day with the intent to discover more about himself and the world.
I can only hope I do the same.
What will you do with your 960?
I've realized, that with diverse individual strengths and weaknesses, success is hard to quantify on an individual basis. While some may label me successful, I would beg to differ and instead comment that I've got a long way to go. That being said, with so many people asking for advice and wisdom, I have decided to write a epochal blog segment on my keys to success. Each Key will end in a daily invitational challenge for you to implement right away.
Key 1: Add Value to Others.
I run my own business selling educational products to families during the summer, and on one particularly slow day (no sales lol), I ran into a family who was open to seeing what i had. When the dad let me in, I came across the mom on the couch with a cast on her legs, and two kids running around, cracked up on that little kid energy that we used to have. These kids loved the books I had. When i say loved, i mean that I've never had a kid this excited about what i selling - she was even more excited than i was, and I doing the presentation! When i finished up my
demo and gave them the price, I made my way into my bag to grab the order pad. As I looked back up, the dad became unusually soft, and said, 'Jay, I love the books, and my kids do too, but we just can't afford it. I'm not even sure if I'll have my job in September, as they've been laying a lot of people off due to budget cuts." Unbeknownst to me until that point, it turns out that the dad was a teacher, who taught in the area i was selling. Now, a part of me was extremely bummed out about this - I was about to have a day where I made exactly zero dollars and I was really banking on having this sale. At first, mentally, I became really frustrated because I needed to make this or I wasn't going to hit my target for the week (you sales people know how it is =P). At that point in time, the kids came running back around and jumped on their dads lap,asking him to buy the books. "please daddy, could we pretty please get them? You can use the money from our piggy banks, we don't mind! Pleasseeee!" ...and they dumped out the contents
of the piggy bank onto the floor.
I stopped packing up, and I realized at that point that it wasn't all about the money, money always comes and goes - but I could have a part in helping these kids learn. I turned to the kids, and very seriously asked, "will you read these?" to which they replied, "Yes! Yes! Of course!" I got up, told them to wait, and i went to my car and grabbed a set of books that would make my day go from a zero day to a negative day (this is where you know I'm a really bad salesperson). I handed that set of books over to them, refused to take any money, and told the father that i was thankful that he is a teacher, that he was doing a good thing helping our future generations. Not gonna lie, this guy was confused. He didn't get why I would give him a set that he knew would cost me money. He kept on asking me, "whats the catch? There's no such thing as a free lunch. I don't want it, I'll feel bad." I eventually convinced him that i was honestly just doing it because of his kids - I think anybody who can be more excited about my product than
me is somebody who truly loves it. It was a gift.
I ended that day, broke poor and in the negative, and that night I questioned my actions, asking myself, "Dude, what about your recognition this week? You prevented yourself from hitting your goals!"
Quite the contrary, actually. No, I didn't hit my goals that week.
But guess what? Two weeks later, i was still working that area, and I run into a principal of one of the high schools.. It turns out he grew up with Dave, and was close friends with him. Dave had told him about this weird college student (me) who dropped by and gave his kids this set of amazing educational books. He ended up buying from me, giving me a personal, written, high value testimonial, and referring me to other teachers that were close friends who he knew
would want to take a look at what I had. Within the next couple days, i hit them all up, and broke my weekly career record.
You've all heard the term that things happen when you least expect it, and it's true. But I don't think it would have happened if I hadn't been looking to simply add value to others in the first place.
This is the one key that I have found to be the most important, and thus the first. The majority of people go through life always looking to gain from externalities (people, events). To take advantage of said externalities is by no means a bad thing, but I find that the opposite is less frequently practiced - the giving. While we may often measure the costs and benefits of a transaction (whether it be a relationship or business deal), we tend to maximize our gains and minimize our energy input into the transaction. The question is always 'what can i get from this
person or this thing?' instead of how can I add as much value as possible to this person.
The more that people realize you care for their wellbeing and are acting on selfless purposes as opposed to sucking them dry of their knowledge or resources, the more open they are to helping you out. By practicing adding value selflessly, we allow ourselves to avoid disappointment (from expecting a return that may not have come) and also open ourselves to unexpected surprises.
Daily Invitational Challenge: Ask yourself - "How can I add value to others?"
A blog on my continuing journey through life, covering self-development and success strategies, but also personal reflection.