Explaining My Communications Job To 14-Year-Olds

When I volunteered for The Human Library project at Day X 2019, I found myself explaining what I did as my job to teenagers again and again, with each batch of kids that “borrowed” me. It was particularly challenging trying to explain what I did in communications without leaning on familiar industry jargon and contextualizing things for students who have yet to experience the working world.

I eventually settled on this version, which I thought I’d record here.

Every company has a reputation, just like you. If I ask your friend to describe you, they’ll often talk about how you make them feel, rather than just describe your physical features.

For example, they will more often say, “Leigh is a kind person,” rather than “Leigh is male, over 170cm tall, and doesn’t wear glasses.”

What someone thinks of you and how you make them feel is part your reputation. You can choose either to build it, change it, or defend your it.

If you want to be known as a kind person, you need to be kind and, hopefully, you’ll also have friends who can vouch for your kindness. If someone criticises you as being unkind, you would hopefully want to correct them and have friends who will defend your reputation as a kind person.

Now, it is important that your friends or other people say good things about you and defend your reputation voluntarily, without payment or inducement. This means you have earned their trust well enough for them to endorse you.

Imagine if it was discovered that you paid your friends to say nice things about you or defend your reputation. They would be perceived as having less credibility – what they say about you may be less believable because they were paid to do so.

So, you have to be kind, and be known as a kind person to as many of the right people as possible. It may not be possible to get the whole world to think positively about you, but you certainly want the people that matter to you to care: your friends, your teachers, and potential employers. So, you focus on ensuring these people have a good perception of you.

Similarly, my job is to build and defend my company’s reputation (what people think about my company and how it makes them feel) by earning the trust of friends that matter to my company (like media journalists, government authorities, or respected experts), who will then endorse my company to as many people as possible.

Let me know what you think?

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.

Meet Mr Kamas, Inspiring UberEATS Delivery Partner & Singapore Para-athlete

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Photo: Screen grab from Straits Times’ video

I first learned about Mr. Kamas Mohammad when an UberEATS consumer shared how Mr. Kamas travelled 2.5km in a wheelchair to deliver his order. We got in touch and invited Mr. Kamas to share more about his story during UberEATS Singapore’s first anniversary in July. Besides delivering with UberEATS, we learned that he was also a para-athlete who represented Singapore at the 2015 Asean Para Games in wheelchair basketball.

Earlier this week, The Straits Times – Singapore’s most widely read newspaper – featured Mr. Kamas across print, digital and video.

In a very inspiring video (I really encourage you to watch it and add to the +52k views garnered since it was published 2 days ago!), Mr. Kamas shares his life story and how he delivers with UberEATS. He spoke about how grateful he felt being able to find a way earn his own income and care for his cancer-stricken elder sister through UberEATS, saying, (Translated) “They let me work, so I’m happy. I’m more encouraged to work. Since they let me work, I feel compelled to repay them by working hard. As long as I can work, I will work.”

 

Besides the video, The Straits Times also shared more in a written feature story. The story appeared online as well as in print – earning a front cover mention, as well as taking up 2/3 of a page in its “Top Of The News” section.

Once again, Mr. Kamas was effusive of his experience with UberEATS, saying, “I liked my previous job, but the salary was not enough to pay rental and buy food. Now, with this job, it is easier. I can follow my own time and target, and earn more.”

He also shared that seeing his photo being shared on Facebook made him happy: “Maybe then, more people like me will realise they can also do such jobs.”

As I’ve said before, this is the kind of technology-changing-the-world awesomeness that I signed up for by joining Uber!

Singapore’s PM Lee Gives Shoutout To UberEATS’ Wonder Woman

Earlier in May this year, I had the pleasure of sharing the story of Mdm. Teo Yoke Lan, a chic senior citizen who is an UberEATS delivery-partner in Singapore, which even got a shoutout from Uber CEO Travis Kalanick.

Mdm. Teo’s story was so inspiring, she recently inspired another shoutout – this time from Singapore Prime Lee Hsien Loong!

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During his 2017 National Day Rally speech (an annual address on key national challenges and major policy changes, comparable to the State of the Union address delivered by the US President), PM Lee spoke about Singapore’s aspirations to become a Smart Nation and cited UberEATS Delivery-Partner Mdm Teo Yoke Lan as a great example of someone adapting to technology. Noting that she’s nicknamed “Wonder Woman”, PM Lee even showed several minutes of the media’s previous video features of Mdm Teo as an UberEATS delivery-partner.

PM Lee said, “We should learn from her optimism and enthusiasm, her ‘can do’ spirit of life-long learning. Mdm Teo seized the opportunities that IT presents, and is able to make a living and keep fit at the same time. IT can improve our lives in many other aspects. It is never too late to learn and use IT to make our lives more convenient, safer and richer.”

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PM Lee also gave a shoutout on his Facebook account

Key national media also picked up PM Lee’s comments as well as highlighting Mdm. Teo in their stories:

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CNA’s original FB post here

Congratulations on the shoutout, Mdm. Teo – you continue to be an inspiring example to us all.

Thanks also for helping me land my second nationwide shoutout from a Prime Minister, for the work that I do!

 

Meet Mdm Teo, 70, UberEATS Singapore Delivery Partner

It was a real pleasure to help tell Mdm. Teo’s story. Her story, attitude, and personality is inspiring! It’s also a great testament to the company I work with – that we truly believe in providing flexible earning opportunities to as many people as possible!

“I applied to be a cashier at a convenience store and as a dishwasher, but none of (the companies) got back to me… It’s wonderful that (UberEATS) does not discriminate against the elderly… Some relatives and friends say I am so old, I should just enjoy the good life and look after my grandchildren. Others say they are old and useless and they can’t do this. But age doesn’t determine what you can or cannot do. Anything is possible if you want to do it. I am happy to do this for as long as possible because I feel younger and more alert when I move around.”

We broke the story through The Straits Times, who not only covered it extensively in print (with a cover mention!) and digital; they also did a video story about her which – to say the least – is currently going rather viral right now. As of this writing, the Facebook video has, in 2 days, achieved:

  • 455,000+ Views
  • 10,000+ Reactions
  • 5,800 Shares
  • 780 Comments – majority of which are positive!

We then followed up with a story on Mashable – which was noticed by CEO Travis Kalanick who shared it on Facebook!

A huge word of thanks to Mdm. Teo who graciously made time for the media to speak with her!

I hope that I can be half as chic and healthy (note to self) as she is when I’m 70.