A Life of Work or the Work of my Life
My first paid project was at 8 when my next door accountant neighbor asked me to count the 1 dollar coins and put them in piles of 10 on his table. He would then pay me a few coins. This was in the early 80s and he didn’t need an assistant, he was just being an uncle mentor. I remember it fondly.
I never baby-sat or mowed the lawn’ we did not have in a Singaporean apartment; or walked a dog for money. When I was able to work during my school vacation, I became a book shop assistant in downtown, at the financial district. This basically meant I stood reading books while waiting for customers to ask for help. As a literature student this was the best job ever. However my best contribution to the store was when the manager accidentally locked the door to our inner office and I was the smallest and most nimble to climb over the small gap between the wall and ceiling to slip slowly down and open the door from the inside.
I have sat at the entrance of Sentosa, the island in Singapore, clicking how many people entered the island. At minimum wage.
I have spent my Saturday mornings giving tuition or rather baby sitting 7 and 8 year olds in a local suburb of Toa Payoh as their mothers went grocery shopping. My favorite part of the day was leading the children holding hands two by two down for their break where they could buy something to eat from the stores. At USD $17 dollars an hour in the 1990s.
I spent my Saturday evenings pro bono walking the streets or at popular malls to speak to the teenagers. We called them ‘Centrepoint Kids’ as they hung out near that mall and some of them were associated with gangs. My task as a youth befriender was to be around so they did not end up in the wrong side of the law. Sometimes they would be rounded up the police https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centrepoint_Kids
Once I realized I loved reading, teaching and counseling — I decided on a career as a teacher. Who would have guessed that vocation was not just one skill. Suddenly I became a tour guide on a bus when we went for excursions; a nurse when a student threw up; a counselor when they or even worse their parents cried; a poor chef when I had to cook for the students who were on camp; a negotiator when I had to get T-shirts made for the student counselors and yes the list went on.
When my widowed mother became ill, the 7 to 7pm job I had as an over-worked teacher in a highly competitive Singaporean Education Economy was no longer was a match to my values. I wanted to be able to bring my mother to the hospital visits and so I found myself a part of the gig economy, joining 48% of millennial workers https://www.cbsnews.com/news/side-hustle-jobs-american-workers-turn-to-gig-economy-to-earn-cash-boost-savings/.
That crossroad in my life; has totally changed how I viewed the world of work. From a person who fit into a professional role and skill; I learnt to be problem-solver and a supporting team member to entrepreneurs on a mission to change the world. I was lucky. From a freelancer working for that hourly wage, or a professional working for a monthly salary — I began to design the work I wanted and choosing the mission I wanted to support. Work moved from being something to feed my family to something to feed my soul.
The Writer in Me — wrote 3 children’s books. I only made around USD$750 per book but I wanted to be a published author and have my books in the local library. Checked off the bucket list. (Listen to one of the stories here read by my friend’s son https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwJOq8ZHAJ4)
The Writer in Me — wrote my seminal multigenerational work after 7 years of workshops, getting friends and interested parties to help me pay my way — https://publishizer.com/are-you-ready-to-turn-gen-y-on/?fbclid=IwAR38ki5fh7Sqr_todQ94gByQTSZLW8Y57u16fIcTOY-Gp7C2EYE47tqg4qk
The Women’s Advocate in Me — started a series featuring Women Leaders in Technology so as to generate more media content about the women we do have in technology and what we can learn from them. It’s called Women on Top in Tech https://www.asianentrepreneur.org/author/marion/ I do not get paid for writing however I get free media passes to conferences and so I do get a reward for the work I do. The greater reward is not the freebies but the access to amazing women leaders and to learn about technology and investments — totally increasing my intellectual and social capital.
The Angel in Me — Angel Investor I mean. One of the driving factors for my search for startups to support on their mission is to find good startups to invest in. Good meaning the ones which will truly make the world a equitable place, heal pain and alleviate suffering. Yes also good also means more diversity of founders, to reflect the diversity in leadership needed for a more equitable world. Too many startups fail because they have not enough capital. Too many ventures capitalists are driven by 10x returns and less on the social good returns. Recently I helped an AI startup which predicts geo-political crisis to get funds. As I have been gathering connections with family offices, angels and venture capitalists through my series on Asian Entrepreneur and that brand helped to show my insights to tech. At the same time up and coming startup founders ask me to connect and mentor them. I have become a bridge. Or as I was called at the LAVA (Los Angeles Venture Association) Awards Dinner in Santa Monica two years ago — a power broker.
Currently I intend to start a Virtual Assistant centre based in Myanmar. I have hired Virtual Assistants from India, Philippines and USA. They range from stay home mothers to a young man who was caring for his elderly parents in a small town in India. I greatly emphasize with their need for money while they care for their families. They remind me of my story then. In Myanmar, my former primary school principal has spent the last 10 years building a home for 45 girls with donations from Singapore. 6 of these girls are now above 20 and need work as they live in a small rural village. They have basic English language skills and now are learning computer skills. Would you like to help us teach them the skills so they can be self sufficient? We need Skype mentors to encourage the girls and to show them the world outside their current lives. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
This is not a list of work I have done and am doing over the course of my life. This is an intentional reflection on how work has shaped me and how I have shaped my life of work. For far too many people are disengaged from their work. Caught up in a cycle and comfort zone that makes work just something they do. I have been lucky to wake up from being a slave to work and keeping up with the Joneses; by a sick mother and the death of my father when I was 28. Each moment of my day shaped by how best to spend this time at work to have greater financial and social impact in a certain set amount of time. I was never a clock 8 hours of work person… buying my time away to get a salary. I was a conscious entrepreneur solving a problem with the best use of resources.
Each work I did is shaped by how can I help this person or business in a way that makes an exponential increase in social good not just commercial gain. Those questions I ponder make my life of work not just more fulfilling but also more a life worth living.
Join me to be a conscious entrepreneur.
We need sponsors for Women on Top in Tech as we hire a Virtual Assistant to call conferences and ask them to commit to putting a woman on every panel. We are calling for an end of manpanels.
We need volunteers male and female, to invite more Women Leaders in Tech to be featured in our series. We have cub undergraduate reporters who are willing to interview them. We need everyone who speaks at conferences to bring a woman and if you are a woman to bring another woman speaker to the panel, conference stage, keynote and audience.
We want mentors for our early stage startups in countries ravished by cruelty and gender discrimination.
We want you :)
Does your soul say yes?
We would love to chat with you and see what fits you and makes you smile and come alive.