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Against all odds: How I rebrand myself from a zoo show presenter to a fitness instructor to a technologist

In the early twenties, it is not unusual to be filled with grit, dreams and even feelings of invincibility. In the early twenties, it is not difficult to just pack the bags and follow the whims of the heart. In the early twenties, it is almost inspirational and invigorating to wear the label of being entrepreneurial.

Altering my perspective

The ultimatum odd: No degree

Those are a good portion of my youth. Deep down, I know that not pursuing a degree, is almost a testimony of my defiance towards academic life. I trust that I could learn what I could through working and through experiencing the operations on my own. I’m not going to lie, I make some very bad decisions during my youth.

Till today, it feels like an imaginary self-defeatist tumour in my mind whenever someone asks me about my degree. Truth be told, I’m a dropout, or perhaps, more appropriately, that I’m a dropout of the university admission. Sometimes I wonder if the lack of a structured university education makes me any less capable of introspection or critical thinking or problem-solving. I have yet to find evidence that could validate that.

Looking back, my actions look sporadic and even brimming on the edge of irresponsibility. Until I read Mastery by Robert Greene.

He wrote, “Once on this path you discover certain side routes that attract you, while other aspects of this field leave you cold. You adjust and perhaps move to a related field, continuing to learn more about yourself, but always expanding off your skill base. … Eventually, you will hit upon a particular field, niche, or opportunity that suits you perfectly. You will recognize it when you find it because it will spark that childlike sense of wonder and excitement; it will feel right. Once found, everything will fall into place.

My First Apprenticeship: Singapore Zoo

Odd #1: Growing up, I am a very shy kid who barely speaks to anyone. And I often bottom the class for English.

When I first started working, I am not drawn to the office life. So I choose to work in the zoo and marine life park because I want to be close to the animals. Then I decide that the opportunity for growth is too restricted and hierarchical. I feel stuck. But I pick up many transferable skills from my time there: behavioural observation, public speaking, human psychology and presentation.

Building my social intelligence: Yoga teacher & fitness trainer

Odd #2: Although I have always been active, I have never attended any structured fitness classes. What initially inspired me to pursue my certification is the fact that I’m contemplating between taking up the path to be a dive master or a yoga teacher. I choose the latter.

When I decide to embark on my teaching career, I collect certifications after certifications: 200 hours yoga teacher training, ACE group fitness instructor, and ACE weight management. I am on the verge of getting an ACE personal trainer certification and a sports science degree.

Going through the off-site materials and obtaining the certifications, I manage to get a few classes in the community centres, companies and schools. I know I have to stand out, so I start to build my brand online. I organise meetups, write a blog and run my own social media pages.

I read books after books, blogs after blogs on how people manage to lead a sustainable life with teaching and coaching. People do see the value of my services and are willing to pay me a reasonable market rate. From that point, my perception of making money shift, it is not about the papers you hold, but about the value you provide.

It is through training my clients and kids that I deepen my sense of empathy. I will listen to their inner desires and aspirations. Even deeper, I need to understand the unspoken, what their bodies are capable of and what are their emotions on that particular day. At that point in time, I thought that that will be what I will be committing my life to.

But soon I burn out.

I am still deeply fascinated with the human body, motivation and human nature. However, I couldn’t bear to pull myself to conduct another personal training class or another coaching session. The kids love me. And I feel deeply for the kids. But I need to move on to something more sustainable.

Awakening the dimensional mind: Entering technology industry

Odd #3: When I first start to freelance, I have no degree and no certification. I am just curious and tinker on codes, command line and the different visual effects on the website.

When I am 26, I sat down and look deeply into what I really want to achieve in life. Is a life of startup what I’m after? Or is exposure to bigger and more interesting projects what I want to do in life? At the age of 26, and without a degree, I see myself as a non-competitive candidate.

But at the same time, the experience of being self-taught; of being able to create and manage an entire event for 300–400 pax from scratch; and of conducting classes in front of executives three times my age has given me the confidence that my mind is pliable and strong.

That if I were to set my mind on it, it is just a matter of time.

Just like when I am in personal training, I view the core of a technology or a system to be around the users. What do the users gain out of it? What are the objectives of the system? At the end of the day, the users need to feel that the technology either remove pain or induce pleasure. Maybe it could be a combination of both.

The results of transitioning to the technology industry are beyond my imagination. My presence is well received. My ability to simplify and communicate abstract concepts have enabled me to explain the technological fundamentals of blockchain.

When I first step into the blockchain industry in March 2018, I have a clear direction on what I want to achieve. To work towards being a front-end developer and progress towards a full-stack developer role, within 2 years.

But in life, our decisions change as we receive more information. Being in the blockchain industry for a while, I foresee a boom of real-world use cases in the next 2 years. And companies are competing for top talents to grow their companies, strategically and swiftly.

Just like how Oracle, Microsoft, Google and Apple are able to establish their decades-strong brand when PC and internet first hit the market, the blockchain companies that are going to be in the scene now will perhaps be the ones to establish top leadership in the next few years as well.

2019 will congregate the dialogue on the real world use cases of blockchain across the various verticals. Hence, we are organising a blockchain challenge to invite talents and blockchain enthusiasts to join in the conversation on the feasibility, viability and desirability of blockchain as a tool.

This is my journey of a decade.

Against all odds, just like how the blockchain technology grow: from being label as a scam to exploratory conversations on how decentralisation will improve efficiency on the business processes.

This is the next phase of the journey.

In the late twenties, the keys to mastery are just beginning to unlock the mysteries of the journey of life.

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