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On the 24th of August 2019, Monash University Malaysia became a platform for 12 amazing speakers to come and grace the concrete walls of Monash with their inspiring stories, visions and most importantly, knowledge.

 

Many will argue that the event did not have the turn out that most would associate with a typical TEDx talk but the subpar attendance does not reflect the true brilliance behind some of the speakers that took to the stage to share their stories.

But before I dive into the talking points and the review for each speaker, allow me to delve deeper into the theme behind this TEDx talk: “The Glass Ceiling”. Now, each speaker thus far had their own interpretation behind the meaning of this phrase. Many of their interpretations had the same resounding message, a barrier, a blockade that exists within oneself that impedes them from ever achieving their goal. Merriam-Webster describes it as an intangible barrier within a hierarchy that prevents women or minorities from obtaining upper-level positions. However, based on the stories presented by the speakers, it seems that this concept of The Glass Ceiling is very much a universal and human concept as everyone in this world has faced and confronted several obstacles in their lives before. Moreover, The Glass Ceiling itself takes on many forms as I will soon elaborate based on the experiences shared by each speaker. As the talk had over 12 speakers, I will be splitting this event into 2 parts!

Part 1

 

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Jan Wong

He starts his talk with a brief question “Have you ever heard these words or phrases before?” and proceeds to share a slide full of phrases such as “You are not good enough” and “You will never be like him/her”. The crowd remained quiet as they pondered over this question, almost solemn. Mr. Jan Wong then continues by proclaiming that words are powerful. Words can both heal and destroy, effectively becoming a double edged sword for many.

His elaborations further explains that each word or comment can become a Glass Ceiling. With each word, each comment, it adds a layer of glass to an already existing wall within ourselves, our mind, our psyche. It was because of this, Jan said, that his dreams of becoming a badminton player shattered in a single smash by a singular snide comment from his family. He emphasized even more by saying that ruined expectations of others can only serve to thicken the already thick Glass Ceiling within us.

Starting on a new beat, Jan continued to branch off his topic on layers by talking about failure. With each failure, we must not allow for it consume us, using it instead to build us up, said Jan. He further encourages by saying that words may continue to hurt but we must remain strong in our journey to our goal. Then, he hypothesizes on the effect of social media in how we see ourselves as successful people.

Not only do we obtain information from social media, but it also paints a false perception of success to other” . These are the same words he mentioned when he spoke about social media. He further enforces this statement by bringing up the topic of likes/shares/followers on social media, equating it to a lie and a demoralizing force that makes us feel bad for not getting attention on us.

He ends his talk by telling us three pieces of advice with the first being to stop the spread of false news, expectations or perceptions. He alludes this behavior to be negativity incarnate, with the sole purpose of sowing uncertainty in people. Secondly, he implores us to talk. Legit, to just talk to people, specifically people that we trust. He says this in response to the dwindling nature of youths these days in their inability to talk WELL to other people and lastly, to not let others influence our mindset in our path to our goals and passions. By freeing yourself from the shackles of societal pressure, we can shatter the Glass Ceiling and life to the fullest.

 

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Wong Yu Jin

“What you are supposed to do does not normally dictate what you will do”

This statement by Mr. Wong Yu Jin already raises a question on our personal drive to do what we want to do in our lives, our goals, our passions. Mr. Wong mainly spoke on the tenets of motivation and how it can be impactful to our lives. He began by telling us the aim behind his talk today which is to talk about the reasons why people lose motivation, how we can regain it back and how it can do to benefit others and ourselves.

He continued by talking about his childhood, enthralling the crowd with stories of past glories and his old ambitions of becoming a rock star. Unbeknownst to us, his story took a dark turn as he recounts past failures and lost of motivation that lead him to a downward spiral during his employment days. This he describes as another form of a Glass Ceiling, preventing him from moving on and improving.

What became his turning point was the death of his boss, dead on his desk that sparked a change in his life. Mr. Wong reveled in his new awakening as he began to tell us about his desire to change for the better and the shifts in his priorities in order to regain his motivation. It was at this point as well where he received a revelation in the form of an epiphany. Our motivation is linked to our emotion and that our control over our emotions leads the ship that is our motivation to the right path.

Here, he introduced a new term “emotimeter”, a so called spectrum to determine our overall motivation in accordance with our emotions. Mr. Wong then produced a slide containing a graph that illustrates a bell jar curve, naming the highest point of the curve as the “One State” (that’s right, Star Wars nerds, you TOO can achieve the One State in this reality). In this state, he said that our motivation and our drive is at its peak as it corresponds to positive emotions such as happiness, hope and confidence. He urges us to always maintain this state within ourselves and to not let the loss of motivation to demoralize us further.

He ends his talk by encouraging us to find ways to de-stress and hype ourselves up in order to achieve balance and to always keep an open perspective in whatever our eyes, mind and soul observe, be it social media, lectures and even life.

 

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Kathy Tan

Known as the foreigner in her own family, Ms Kathy Tan gained this title due to her dark complexion. Owing to her dark skin, she always felt like she didn’t belong in the Chinese community. From this story, she was inspired to connect with more people irregardless of race or ethnicity and to be more informed on human culture as a whole.

She brings up an interesting analogy in which with use of just a passport and a credit card, one can go anywhere around the world and travel. However, she points out that having such opportunities can be – and is – a privilege for some. With this, she introduces the main topic of her talk which is cultural differences and what can we do to be informed on how we can navigate our lives when we deal with people of differing cultures. She stresses that being ignorant of this topic can bring about negative consequences to society and social connection amongst the citizens of the world.

Hence, Kathy offers her wisdom on culture and tips on how to be culturally intelligent. She starts off with a pretty common topic for many which is culture shock. She describes it in stages, 4 stages to be exact which includes the honeymoon stage, frustration stage, adjustment stage and acceptance stage. TL:DR, it means that as someone new to a place, they may experience an early sense of joy and excitement followed by a period of annoyance, fear and even frustration as they struggle to fit in. Then, it is followed by a period of time whereby one may start to learn or adapt to their new home at which the following acceptance stage ensues where it has become a norm to them.

Her general overview on culture follows that of a lens. In this interpretation, she says that each person has a lens to look through to view the world and each lens is specific to each individual based on their culture. She further relates it to an unbreakable Glass Ceiling as it is something so personal and integral to oneself.

Then, in the final part of her talk, she proceeds to give out three tips on how to be more self aware of cultural differences. Starting with learning about other cultures, Ms Kathy urges the audience to understand and accept that people have cultures that differ from ours and we should learn to accept it. Next, she encourages curiosity in learning about other cultures as it allows us to have a deeper understanding of the background and culture of other people. Lastly, she wishes for everyone to see the world through other peoples perspective which only further serves as a way of appreciating our own culture and the culture of others.

 

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Jeanne Swee

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Aveena Devi

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Richard Ker

Personal goal. That was the singular topic that Richard focused on throughout the whole talk.

In the beginning, he gave several examples of people who are successful entrepreneurs. He later points out one similarity which is that they are all young, with ages below 20 for some of them. With youth, they have an endless amount of energy and determination which allows them to pursue their goals.

It is through this analogy that Richard opened up to say that humans possess ultimate control over their lives and that we can choose to do what we so wish to do. He further adds that in a perfect world, success should and can be linear to growth if an ample amount of effort and drive is given. However, he said that reality does not permit for such things as success depends on many factors and can be unpredictable.

Hence, personal goal should be an endeavour that needs to be tempered through failure as we learn through our mistakes. He then urges the audience to challenge the norms of the past, the status quo, as it is only through changing the rules of now can we change the outdated expectations before our time.

Richard then ended his talk with a lovely retelling of how he was able to meet up with the current Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in a meeting to discuss the progress in the community in Cyberjaya, another project that Richard holds dearly.

That is all for now! Trust me, it wasn’t easy going through the recordings for each speaker but I did it nonetheless (much wow). Do look forward to the article on the second batch of speakers as I continue to provide insight on these speakers and their never ending wisdom and experience!

 


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