Have you ever wondered what makes you the person you are? Upbringing, experiences, interactions are some of the factors that come to mind. And of course, a whole bunch of factors contribute. But as I try to better understand myself; some of my formative traits, my choices in relationships and careers, even fears and insecurities that I haven’t quite been able to put a finger to; I find myself correlating it with the fact that I was an only child. And growing up as one certainly shaped my individuality to a considerable degree.Continue reading “Because I Was An Only Child”
I wrote this article for my dad on his 56th birthday last year. He loved it, shared it with all his friends, and it all led us to argue less in general. So I thought of publishing it officially on the blog.
Anyone who knows me knows that a large part of who I am comes from Baba, my dad. Father, friend, sibling, mentor, playmate, life coach, he has played and continues to play all of these roles in my life. On the occasion of his 56th birthday, I take a moment to take a walk down memory lane.
“In the next 20 years, meditation will be like running
I first heard of Bjorn Lee and his meditation app MindFi on the news last year, when they raised a six-figure seed round. But that’s not what caught my attention. Working with startups is part of my job, so the seed round seemed like any other. Plus, there are a lot of meditation apps coming up these days. What piqued my curiosity was that the voice-over for the meditation modules were done by an ex-monk.
I checked out the app, and saw options to commute and eat mindfully, or even grow a plant while you’re at it. I knew I had to dig deeper. A mutual friend connected me with Bjorn Lee, who agreed to meet over coffee. The conversation that ensued was most engaging, and all yours to read.
Most of you know about the horrific rape that happened in New Delhi on the 16th of December 2012, when 23-year-old Jyoti Singh, a medical intern in New Delhi was brutally raped and murdered by six men, well five men and a minor. An L-shaped iron rod was used both to beat and penetrate her during the act, causing severe injuries to her abdomen, intestines and genitals. She was flown to Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth Hospital for a multiple organ transplant, but it was too late. She died of a cardiac arrest during the 6-hour flight. What followed was a movement to bring the perpetrators to justice. Public demonstrations, protests, international awareness, media efforts and a mass response to outrageously sexist remarks led to what came closest to justice. Ultimately, four out of five of the men got death sentences, while the juvenile was let off after a year in remand. I remember feeling sick to the stomach, but also hopeful. Maybe now, things would change. Maybe these men, if you could call them that, would think twice before committing such morbid acts of sin. I wish I were right.
Six years later, matters have worsened. Another gangrape, but this time it’s 8-year old Asifa Bano. One juvenile and seven men, including four police officers. Asifa’s legs were broken and nails had turned blue. If this sounds disturbing, listen to this: around the same time, an 8-month old baby girl was raped by her cousin, with injuries to her vital organs. This is one of many, each as repulsive as the other.
Steve Leonard is the Founding CEO of SGInnovate, a revolutionary effort by the Singapore government to prove, launch and scale deep technology companies backed by scientific research. With over twenty-five years of global experience working for top technology companies and Government bodies in various leadership roles, he has committed himself to the mission of supporting the most ambitious and capable individuals commercialise their expertise.
In just fifteen months since its launch, SGInnovate has become a household name in Singapore’s tech ecosystem through its multifarious portfolio of companies and immensely popular events in blockchain, healthcare, big data to name a few. In this conversation, he reveals his thoughts on tech entrepreneurship in Singapore, how he handles the inevitable obstacles that come his way, and why mindset is the most important enabler of innovation.
2017 has parted and left us with memories to remember it by. A mix of experiences; some life-altering, some mundane, others downright questionable. But hail the (albeit controversial) law of averages, it all turned out okay. And we celebrated that, in ways that appealed to us. For me, it was important to know what I was celebrating. Was it the achievements? The pitfalls? Or was it just the mere passage of time?
After giving it some thought, I decided to celebrate my newfound understanding of the ways of the world.
Here are my observations. Continue reading “Lessons From The Year That Was”
Looi Qin En is unusual, to say the least. He doesn’t just think out-of-the-box, he refuses to acknowledge the existence of a box.
When in school, he worked with Singapore’s premier research organisation, A*STAR, to publish 13 papers on human-computer interaction. Shortly after, he was offered a place at Stanford with a full scholarship. He would begin in two years’ time, after completing his National Service (NS). But with Qin En, norms, rules and conventions often get thrown out of the window. By the end of two years, he had built a company called Glints, and was well on his way to raising half a million dollars in seed.
He still went to Stanford, only to return 6 months later. He would focus on running Glints full-time. Stanford could wait. It turned out to be a decision he wouldn’t regret. Glints went on to become a massively successful career discovery and recruitment platform that helped more than 250,000 youths across South East Asia find internships and graduate job opportunities from over 10,000 companies. This year, he also featured in Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia.
In October this year, he stepped down from his role as COO at Glints. He now plans to complete his degree at Stanford come January 2018. But classic Qin En, he couldn’t not do something in the meantime. So he joined a pre-seed startup accelerator in Singapore called Entrepreneur First (EF). This was around the same time that I joined EF too, and that’s how we met.
I don’t write about everyone I work with. But Qin En intrigued me. He’s extremely smart, hacky, and tremendously competitive. And yet, he’s also immensely supportive and insightful. Despite his gargantuan success, he’s unexpectedly modest. Heck, he even has a killer sense of humour.
So Qin En, as you leave EF, this interview is my parting tribute to you.