Welcome to Episode 105!
And the first day of 2023. 😍
Today’s a special episode.
Instead of a new STIMY guest (and don’t worry, we have so many of those lined up), I’m going to give you a sneak peek into some of the guests you can expect to hear from in 2023.
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Sneak Peek into 2023
Some guests you’ll hear from today:
- Xav Desmet: Head of Digital Natives, Startups & Unicorn for Asia at Zoom
- Fabien Riggall: Co-founder of Secret Cinema (one of the most mind-blowing experiential cinema experiences in the world)
- Gerald Sebastian: One of the biggest Indonesian YouTubers with over 4.23 million subscribers
- Michelle Toh: Writer/Reporter at CNN
- Ian Lee: co-founder of Syndicate & the former Head of Crypto at Citibank
- Alvin Chiong: Former secret society member & heroin addict
- Enara Nazarova: VP of Metaverse at Hype
- Dr Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro: Head of Metaverse Fashion Week at Decentraland
And so much more.
I hope this gets you excited for what we have in store for 2023!
And if you’ve been enjoying So This Is My Why, please do leave a review. It really helps the podcast reach more people. 😍
If you’re looking for more inspirational stories, check out:
- Eric Toda: Global Head of Social Marketing & Head of Meta Prosper, Meta
- Guy Kawasaki: Chief Evangelist of Apple & Canva
- Nicole Quinn: General Partner, Lightspeed Venture Partners & Celebrity Whisperer. Investor/Board Member of HAUS (Lady Gaga), Goop (Gwyneth Paltrow), The Honest Company (Jessica Alba), Nasty Gal (Sophia Amoruso), Cameo, Lunchclub etc.
- Richard Lui: MSNBC & NBC News TV Anchor, and Peabody & Emmy award winner
- Adrian Tan: King of Singapore & President of Singapore’s Law Society
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Some of the things we talked about in this STIMY Episode can be found below:
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STIMY Ep 105: Sneak Peek into 2023 STIMY Guests!
Ling Yah: Hey everyone!
Welcome to episode 105 of the So This Is My Why podcast, and also the first episode of 2023.
I'm your host and producer, Ling Yah, and because it's the very first day of 2023, I'm doing a sneak peak episode. Here I'm going to be showcasing some of the highlights from the fantastic guests that we've got onto this episode to reach you appetite, and let me warn you, it's a great lineup and extremely varied.
First up, we have Xav Desmet. Head of Digital Natives, startups, and Unicorn for Asia at Zoom, and he shares why the French education system is violent.
Xav Desmet: The French education system or even culture is still based on elite okay. And that's basically from Napoleon Bonaparte. So early 19th century where created what we call the grounds they call prejudice schools.
If you want to succeed in France, you want to do the highest ranking studies, you do actually one of those grounds they call like poly technique both engineering or business, but mainly engineering. So if you're not fitting into this, you are failure. In my view, it's a very violent education system.
If you're not fitting into the mold, if you're not good at math or physics, you are a failure. And failure is not good connotation. It's like you should always succeed in your life. And it's completely the opposite of the American way. You know, it's like the Americans are saying actually failure is just a synonym of experience.
That's almost like a trauma on the succeed or failure component from an education system.
Ling Yah: We've also got Gerald Sebastian, one of the biggest YouTubers in Malaysia with over 4.23 million subscribers. So he definitely knows a thing I'll do about content creation.
In our conversation, he even shares the secret formula that they use to create content.
Gerald Sebastian: We have like a formula on how we create the content.
One of the things that we really like a lot is like using analogy because like when you explaining things like the economic terms science, it's just like another planetary kind of language. You just have to like using the elephant analogy in our daily life.
Ling Yah: Can you give some examples?
For those who haven't watched your video, what are some of the
analogies you used?
Gerald Sebastian: I really like this analogy. Can you imagine how far is earth from the moon? And like, it's, a million kilos, we cannot imagine. But actually we have the energy of like, Hey, can you imagine that when we have like this instant noodle, it's just like you're buying a thousand on Instant Noodle and it was, we just like having the instant noodle stack into the moon, or that's a lot more relatable.
Or maybe okay. If you want to like building a highest tower in the world, how much is that? We cannot imagine what, when you say like, Hey, it's gonna be like thousand, a thousand billion US dollar. Now you cannot imagine that. So the thing is, maybe you just like maybe buying a.
5,000 am and then park it in front of your house. So that's how expensive it is. so that's a good analogy.
From the online world, we also enter the physical world with Fabian Riggall, the co-founder of Secret. Today, still one of the most mind-blowing experiential cinema experiences in the world.
Fabian believes deeply that we as a society need to stop being glued to the screen all the time. We need to go out into the world, experience things with our own eyes. Without feeling the need to record and share everything on social media as well. Secret Cinema is a movement that brings cinemas to live so it's as though you are an actor in the movie itself and remains to date one of my most favorite experiences.
And secret cinema has two very unique elements. Firstly, secret cinema is secret at its. Everyone who attends is told, tell No one. And Fabian tells us how that came about.
Fabien Riggall: I think what was interesting was it started off with that concept of taking over abandoned spaces and putting on screenings.
But what happened was that the tagline was, tell no one. So it was secret cinema, tell no one.
And the premise was that we wouldn't reveal the location or the film and we would send an email out and give you a character.
You became part of the film, the story. The first film we did was Gus Van Sans paranoid part, which is set in a community of skaters where one of the skaters has been investigated for a murder.
And we found these old tunnels, which are underneath London Bridge and turned the tunnels into a skate. An illegal skate place where the audience became part of that skating community who were all under investigation for murders.
They arrived at this sort of like tunnel. There was a bridge with trains going past, with a security guard shining a torch in their faces.
And then they were brought into this space. At that time it was, I don't know, it was like five pounds a ticket. Our budget was tiny, but we got some skate, some ramps and some various professional skaters who came to be the skaters.
But you know, the sound was terrible because it was based in these tunnels and we didn't have the best sound system and everything, so the sound sort of reverberated in all the tunnels, but it was quite atmospheric.
There was this moment where we were sending out the email, and I think I miswrote something on the email. Initially, we weren't gonna reveal the location.
I think I wrote something like, we will not reveal the location or the film. And I think I made a typo mistake. And then I looked at it and I was like, yeah, we're not gonna reveal the film either. And at that point it was like, well, how would you sell 400 tickets without revealing anything?
And then it was this idea around mystery was like, actually, what you don't know is what you really fear you'll miss out. You really care about things when they're secret, you know? And it's a lovely thing when someone does a surprise for you. They really think about it.
Like, how would we create a surprise party for this person? Or how would you make a mixed tape for someone that you love where you really think about what they're gonna feel.
So therefore, I think that was a big part of it. So I made them mistake. We sent the email and it just captured people's imagination.
Ling Yah: And why are Secret Cinema fans so passionate? Because according to Fabian, they are investing in a secret.
Fabien Riggall: The first secret cinema, 400 people came. They spent five pounds, then they spent another five pounds on drinks. And so the profit that we made from that first event went into the second event. Then we grew because there was word of mouth.
How do we do it? I think, purely just really through the word of mouth. Through having this sort of weird confidence that this was gonna work from somewhere and just doing it like club nights.
If you look at theater shows often that's how they worked. It wasn't a Ponzi scheme, that's a horrible word.
So from 2007 to 2000 and like 12, as it was growing, it was just based on the audience. Most people, they like, let's get investors, let's get some money in, let's get it all finance. Then we do the show. No, it wasn't like that.
We got the money through the audience's belief in the thing. So they were the investors and then we were doing shows without revealing anything of the product. So they were investing in a secret. What made it special is that each and every one of them created secret cinema.
Like the team behind secret cinema was one thing. They created secret cinema. But the second part of it was that the audience became participants in it. In the early stages they facilitated it. And the weirder we got, the more they loved it, you know?
Occasionally they didn't like everything we did, but most of it they were sort of down with. And even when we got it wrong, they accepted that we were pushing things in a direction that other people hadn't pushed for some time.
Ling Yah: Apart from secrecy, there's curiosity. A common thing you'll find with most STIMY guests. They weren't born knowing exactly what they were meant to do with their lives. They were curious, tried and broke many things, then try it again.
And it's the same with Michelle Toh writer and reporter at CNN in, in Hong Kong.
Michelle Toh: You know, I very much saw every single summer break as an opportunity to get a new experience. I was very naturally curious, so it was never a thing where my parents put pressure on me, like, what are you gonna be doing?
It was just something that I naturally sought out. So even if I wasn't doing an internship, I remember in my high school days, I would research these university pre-college programs in the States that I might be interested in. So I also did like a creative writing program at Pratt Institute, which is an art school in Brooklyn.
I also did a USC program where I ended up going to school, university of Southern California, where I studied journalism the summer before I graduated high school, which had a huge impact on me. I think I very much was just driven by the idea there's time to go and do these things.
And when you're a young person especially, people often wanna give you a chance and love to hear from students who might be super overexcited about whatever it is that they do every day. So I really took it upon myself to cold message.
Some of the internships that you referenced were literally a product of me just kind of online googling who works at scmp and how do I get ahold of them?
Ling Yah: Apart from curiosity, you also need humility and the willingness and acceptance that every beginning is small. And that's precisely how in Enara Nazarova, VP of Metaverse at Hype built her career.
Enara Nazarova: If you accept that every beginning is gonna look small, it's actually not that hard. I guess the older you get into your career, the harder it is to step into the role of an intern.
Because you have to drop your ego and do things that are not that fun to then give yourself a chance to also step into that environment and see it from that perspective.
And then also be able to grow with the field as time goes on. So I just started first volunteering. It was my very first festival job was doing recycling at Bonnaroo. It was not glamorous whatsoever, but it got me closer to the team. It was a really beautiful bonding experience because Bonnaroo was so focused on making sure it was a sustainable event and that people were very focused on honoring the environment, having the freedom and a beautiful space to enjoy.
So that was a really beautiful mission to be part of. And from that point on, I got to know the team. I was pretty good at taking pictures and then I was able to kind of lend my artistic services and see where they could use me.
Ling Yah: Whereas with Dr. Giovanna, head of Metaverse Fashion Week at Decent End, similar to Marja Kontinnen, the marketing director as decent end back in episode 95, Dr. Giovana considers her career to be a portfolio of experiences.
Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro: The thing is that life is a short experience, right? And even if there are other lives, I will not remember this life as much.
So I want to make sure that I have a portfolio for experiences that really enrich my soul, my mind, and I have left at least this multidisciplinary legacy about what I tried. You know, I'm a person that regret what you tried, not what you gave up on. Right? Don't give up, try and if you fail, that's fine. At least you tried.
So I think all those different works.
I did a lot of work on the residencies regarding argumented reality technology for the Heritage, which was a topic very much connected with my PhDs. So that was already like AR mixed reality XR solutions. They were my core research interest since 2010. So I was already in that market doing projects with sort of technology.
So I think those projects, they allowed me to get out a little bit of the discourse of tech and incorporate a little bit more off culture, heritage, what is digital memory for different cultures? How you can really work on that topic using technology. And also, I think it really thought me how I can be more flexible with my own creations and incorporate other techniques that I learn with my colleagues.
And eventually I learn a lot about, I don't know, maybe event prediction, which is something I do a lot today. I learn a lot about performances like performing arts about big festivals of art and museum administration. So I think all of those things I incorporated and they helped me for what I do today.
Ling Yah: And as for Ian Lee? Well, it's a more somber outlet to life. Ian is the co-founder of Syndicate, and he was diagnosed with cancer early on in his career. That meant that he was living for the longest time in three month increments. He just didn't know if he would survive beyond each of these three month periods, and he shared all his fears knowing that he never wanted to reach the end of his life whenever there might.
Feeling regret, and he also learned something important. 10 year life plans, they're not important. Plan them at most in 12 to 18 month increments.
Ian Lee: What companies should do around an emergent corporate strategy, is also what people should do with their life, which is rather than having a 10 year plan just do what you think is most interesting and compelling, and you're most energized by over the next, like 12 to 18 months. And then just go from there and kind of let go of whatever exists outside of that frontier.
because if you do that, if you throw your full self into those things, right, because you're genuinely passionate about that, what's gonna happen?
You are going to learn faster, You're gonna work harder because, and work more than other people. Not because it's worked to you, but because you just find it interesting. You just can't stop thinking about it. And because you're gonna be more interested in it, because you're gonna grow and learn faster.
And because you're gonna work harder, you're actually gonna perform better than other people who are not interested in it. And because you're gonna perform better, you're actually gonna be exposed to new opportunities and more opportunities than other people and even yourself that you didn't even realize.
Meaning it's going to open up, open up new doors and new rabbit holes. That you never knew existed if you hadn't done that in the first place.
Ling Yah: And then we have Alvin Chiong, former Secret Society member and former Herring edit. You have your inspiring startup founder, the corporate leaders, the web3 and creative pioneers, but sometimes people make mistakes.
Very big mistakes.
And it haunts them for the rest of their lives. So how do you pick yourself up?
Alvin had everything stacked against him from birth. His father was a heroin addict. He turned to heroin in his preteens and fell in the wrong crowd when he was a child. what was his life like? How'd he get out of it?
What's he trying to do now?
Alvin shares all of that in his episode and in this particular snippet. He tells us why it was possible for him to live the Secret Society in the first place.
Alvin Chiong: If you leave the gang and you join another gang, then my money will lost, right?
You're helping someone to make the money because of your contact. Then I have lost quite a bit of a big amount of revenue, which is you are the one who bring in every year. That's why they will not let you go. They will rather you vanish. So these are the only people that it's hard to live again for others.
People, when you don't actually contribute much, they don't care. To be very honest, why they care if I go and beat you up. If you report police, I might. even end up in prison. So why do I bother? You never bring in money for me. You are not anything to me. So you want to go to school. when I, decided to leave and then I be on my, that was the time I was on drugs.
For 20 years, I was on drugs, I was selling drugs, everything. So they don't, bother about because when they get close to me, it's very dangerous for them.
because, you know, Singapore drug addict, it's very obvious. People look at you will come and spot you. So who will want to be near you? our body sign, because of our appearance, you know, junkies don't eat. All very slim . It looks like a zombie. Maybe, this is the reason why they also don't care about me.
Ling Yah: And there you have it. A sneak peek into some of the upcoming STIMY episode of 2023. I hope you're excited.
Apart from some of these snippets, we've also got one of New York's most influential women, and Christie's Top Auctioneers, who has raised over half a billion dollars for nonprofits. And we also have the CEO of the top confectionary maker in the region.
Also a co-founder of one of Asia's largest startups, the CEO of one of the region's biggest property developers, prominent politicians, Olympians, and so much more.
If you haven't already, please do subscribe to STIMY and leave a review. It's really hard to get the word out there about podcasts, so I really need your help to do that.
I'm also Kickstarting STIMY's weekly newsletter. This provides you with a deep dive into the behind the scenes of me running STIMY and those are all the frameworks and hacks that you can use to build a life that you want on your own terms.
The links are all in the show notes.
Check them out and we'll be back next Sunday.
See you then!