Volunteering at Day X 2019

As I write this, I just got back from a full day volunteering at Day X, as a member of The Human Library.

Organized by The Astronauts’ Collective, the Lifelong Learning Institute of Singapore, and SkillsFuture Singapore, “Day X,” or a day of exploration, is envisioned to be a fun and accessible opportunity for youths to explore the world of work. The idea of a “day” is to encourage youths (and other related stakeholders) to “take a day” off from everyday preoccupations, to explore and better understand what they may find interesting, or even meaningful, to undertake as a possible career.

As part of Day X, the Human Library session provides a cosy and unintimidating setting for participants to choose to “read” from a wide collection of more than 50 human books at any one sitting. Each human book is a volunteer professional from a particular field, whom the participants could interact with to find out more about that particular profession.

I really enjoyed speaking to the group of mostly secondary and Junior College students about my job. It was particularly interesting trying to explain my job while avoiding the usual industry jargon and contextualizing things for students who have yet to experience the working world. An excellent exercise, IMHO.

I especially appreciated the thoughtful questions about my job, although it was fascinating to see the mix of curiosity and trepidation. More than a few students felt they needed a “fixed” answer to navigate their careers. It was as if they were looking for that guaranteed path; three steps to getting the right courses, to get the right education, and end up with the right job. There were such specific questions, for example: “Which specific courses should I take to get a job like yours?” or “Should I go through Junior College or Polytechnic if I want this job?”

I also gained a newfound appreciation for teachers and lecturers; it’s quite the challenge saying the same thing over and over again, while maintaining enthusiasm and making sure you’re getting through to the students! Teens can be quite challenging to reach.

My favourite anecdote of the day came from when I shared what it meant to build and defend a company’s reputation using various communications channels, to which this one student remarked,

“So, it’s like propaganda?”

Yes, dearie – exactly like that. 

Many thanks to my friend, Grace Yeoh, for inviting me to this.

Entrusted with a Thai national treasure: the Tham Luang cave rescue story

Right now, I’m feeling very grateful and humbled to be part of the team entrusted by the amazing kids and Coach, the government, as well as the people of Thailand with a national treasure: the incredible story of the Tham Luang cave rescue.

Earlier today, Netflix announced we are joining forces with SK Global Entertainment (of “Crazy Rich Asians” and “Delhi Crime” fame), Jon M. Chu (“Crazy Rich Asians”), and Nattawut “Baz” Poonpiriya (“Bad Genius”) to bring the dramatic story of the 2018 Thai soccer team rescue to audiences around the world.

The story combines so many unique local and universal themes which connected people from all walks of life, from all around the world. Thailand is a very important country for Netflix and we are looking forward to bringing this inspiring local, but globally-resonant story of overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds to life, once again, for global audiences.

On a more lighthearted note, there picture above depicts Netflix and SK Global team members – all of whom obediently adhered to the dress code, to wear something yellow in view of the Thai King’s upcoming coronation. Let’s just say that we look calm and dignified here, but there was much hustle over the weekend looking for yellow-colored ties!

Augmented Storytelling As A Force For Good – ReWILD Our Planet

Today, we were joined by over 70 journalists from Southeast Asia to launch REWILD Our Planet, Singapore’s first Social Augmented Reality (AR) experience jointly developed by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Google, Netflix, ArtScience Museum of Singapore, and PHORIA.

I was particularly proud of steering this effort given the pedigree of partners we had the pleasure of working with as well as the important cause we were championing. It wasn’t easy, but we successfully pulled off the launch of a sensorial experience that connected people to nature and one another through immersive storytelling that blended cutting-edge AR technology with stunning 4K video footage from Our Planet, a new Netflix original documentary series voiced by world-renowned naturalist, Sir David Attenborough.

Experiencing REWILD Our Planet

Combining spectacular IMAX-style projections with spatial soundscapes and AR, the experience lets participants explore four landscapes representing the last wilderness places on Earth: the forests of Borneo and India, the oceans of Asia, the grasslands of Mongolia, and the frozen worlds of the Arctic. It then highlights the urgency of restoring (or, “Rewilding”) nature by encouraging groups of participants to work together to unlock global weather patterns and magical animal encounters. The experience ends by leaving participants with a deeper understanding of shared solutions and a meaningful pledge to act and help bring nature back.

Ultimately, this immersive storytelling experience – where state of the art technology and quality entertainment meet – not only showcased the breathtaking diversity of our planet, but it also drove important conservation conversations, especially about how protecting our planet is a shared responsibility.

Spot.Ph’s video feature of REWILD Our Planet

The experience uses footage from Our Planet, an eight-part series that showcases the planet’s most precious species and fragile habitats, revealing amazing sights on Earth in ways they have never been seen using the latest in filming technology. From the creators of the award-winning series Planet Earth, and the result of a four-year collaboration with Silverback Films and WWF, Our Planet combines stunning photography and technology with an unprecedented, never-before-filmed look at the planet’s remaining wilderness areas and the rare and wonderful animals that call these places home. The ambitious project was filmed in 50 countries across all the continents of the world, with over 600 members of crew capturing over 3,500 filming days.

I’m really proud that we’re able to bring great and vital content like this to millions of people worldwide, informing and inspiring them towards taking action for the greater good. With REWILD Our Planet, I hope we are also taking this one step further by showing how stories can come to life in a way that spurs us all to help improve our environment. We couldn’t be more delighted to do this in concert with our amazing partners.

If you’re in Singapore, I hope you will go and check out this amazing experience at the ArtScience Museum – entrance is FREE! Also, join many others and watch this stunning documentary series, which starts streaming today!

An Important Dialogue In Honour Of Black History Month

Photo credit: US Embassy in Singapore

Today, we partnered with the US Embassy in Singapore to host a film screening in honor of Black History Month.

We watched a very good – but confronting – movie called Mudbound, and I then moderated a discussion on diversity and inclusion; a topic of ever-increasing importance for our times. It was very heartening to see how great stories, well-told could provide a shared experience and common language for us to process complex issues like racism and prejudice.

I truly appreciated our time together and enjoyed the insightful, challenging dialogue. I look forward to working on more important dialogues like this one in the future.

Photo credit: US Embassy in Singapore

More pics: here.

Standing Among Giants At The ZICO ASEAN 40 Under 40 Program

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It has been said that “if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.”

Well, recently, I was definitely in the right room – where I was left awestruck being amidst some truly incredible, talented and smart individuals doing amazing things all over Southeast Asia!

We were part of the inaugural cohort of the ZICO ASEAN 40 Under 40 – a flagship program by ASEAN Advisory, the consulting arm of ZICO. The program paid tribute to 40 trailblazers under the age of 40 in, or from, Southeast Asia who are driving positive change and creating impact in this region. Each honoree is addressing a trend or challenge in the ASEAN countries through our work.

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L-R: Richard Yim, Winston Toh, Ada Chirapaisarnkul, Danial Hakim, and I. Photo credit: ZICO

You know that feeling you get where you meet someone and start asking yourself, “What am I doing with my life?” Yeah, that’s how I felt when I met some of these truly exemplary people (picture above, L-R):

  • Richard Yim – who co-founded Demine Robotics to develop better robots that more effectively remove land mines; starting in Cambodia where he was born, which unfortunately also holds the distinction of being one of the most heavily land-mined countries in the world with an estimated 4 to 6 million land mines in the country.
  • Winston Toh – a bright young man who helped bring to life the ASEAN Advisory 40 Under 40 Program; with whom I’ve also enjoyed scintillating conversations on economies of the future and its impact to modern society.
  • Ada Chirapaisarnkul – who, among many other achievements, is the founder of the Thai Young Philanthropist Network (TYPN), which today sees 2,700 young leaders working to strengthen civil society in Thailand through youth entrepreneurship training for students and teachers as well as business consultation and capacity building support for to over 100 social-purpose organisations.
  • Danial Hakim – a young grassroots leader who balances his time between his full-time job and championing the issues and concerns of his community.

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Pictured in the middle here and highly deserving of a shout out is Van Ngoc Ta, chief lawyer of the Hanoi-based Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation, which is involved in anti-trafficking work. Van has personally helped hundreds of victims of forced labor and sex trafficking, working closely with authorities. He’s a real-life superhero: when I met him for dinner the evening before the awards event, he was on the phone in the midst of coordinating a case. I can’t speak highly enough of the great work that he is doing.

I also met many other amazing fellow honorees – including a dear colleague Warren Tseng, formerly the General Manager for Uber in Singapore.

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Making a point to a compatriot about the new government in Malaysia. Photo credit: ZICO

It was inspiring to meet them all to hear their stories as well as perspectives. It truly augurs well for ASEAN’s future potential as a political, economic, and sociocultural bloc. I am truly humbled and very grateful to have been included as one of these great luminaries.

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Looking at the other names and their achievements – I am truly humbled to be included.