a tribute to the universe – part #5 (to the ones that made the difference)

And finally we’re here ; the last post of  the year. When I was in the military,I remember seeing all my friends in college and thought to myself “My goal is to make all these people jealous at some point. I want to show them what i means to live” . That selfish ideal dissipated over time,  but it also brought life to an ambition to truly see what’s out there. 2014 – the year of epic experiences is the result. I travelled , I challenged, I conquered. 2014 taught me that I can achieve anything I put my head to.

2015 has to be a different year then. Now that I’ve proved to myself something about my character, I want to take 2015 to improve myself again. Kickback into self-development and focus on upgrading myself. I’ve given myself a resolution to learn a new skill/trick/language etc. every month. It won’t be the case where I’ll learn something for a short term and abandon it the next month ; but rather that I’ll have to continue learning all new skills over the year i.e. I’ll be practising the skill I learned in January even in December.

But let’s take some time to think back on 2014 – as much as the year was marked by significant milestones and organisations , it was the friends throughout of it all that definitely helped me get through the year. The friends who checked in with me, who made crazy experiences with me, the friends who decided I was worth a bit of loving – that most kept me sane.

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Marcus Tan –  what a bro. Again, what happened to be our love for design, leadership and beer brought us together in a way that could only lead to so many crazy experiences. Every time we’ve hung out, there has been no shortage of adventure, and we walk the same road a lot of times. Thanks for being my bro even when I’m all the way in the US. I can’t wait for when you come to Northwestern next year. We’re gonna blow so much up.

Imran –  9th year running. That’s how long we’ve lasted – and that’s testament to how much our friendship stands for given our antagonistic personalities. You’ve probably been the guy that sobers me up the most,  but also challenges me to live true to myself and I appreciate that. I honestly do miss hanging out with you, and wish we weren’t as busy back in Singapore. But we make the times we have together count and I’m glad for that.

Elyssa –  It’s funny how you know me as Snapchat guy because now I know you as Whatsapp Voice Message Girl. We’ve yet to Skype, I know ; but I’m still looking forward to the opportunity to be able to talk to you soon. We’re so similar yet so different and I guess that’s why I enjoy hanging out with you. We definitely have a lot more adventures ahead of us.

Valerie –  I’ve always enjoyed my time in Gushcloud, but I’m even more grateful it gave me the opportunity to meet you. I’ve always loved our conversations, even though getting you on the phone is like climbing a mountain. I can’t wait for when I come to Berkeley, or you come to Chicago. Gotta hold on to people you can actually speak the same language with.

Jeremy –  for always pushing me to relook my assumptions, and for challenging me to move forward. Thanks for being like a big brother, and for guiding me in the confusing world of business and entrepreneurship ; for taking the time to help me grow.

Louise –  for caring about me enough to guide this young , foolish but brazen kid through the jungle of being a young adult. for thinking from my perspective, and still reminding me to think from God’s perspective. for being a friend first , and for for showing me what it means to care.

Shimei –  for taking the effort this year to meet up  and pray  for me. for keeping me in your thoughts frequently and for not judging me when I break away from the track. for being someone I feel comfortable opening up to, and for being open about everything else.

Oswald –  for being my entrepreneur buddy. We walk different but similar paths, but it’s always inspiring talking to you about the journey we made to change the world, and live victorious lives. We’re go-getters and the energy I draw from you is incredible. Thanks for being a bud.

Norvin –  for being a great friend and helping when I had no clue how to navigate the legal complexities of some of the stuff I do. for challenging me to think rationally and yet hold onto the fervor of change – for being such a patient and dependable friend.

Tashi – for being the man of action. for inspiring me by the charisma and suave you embody, and also the depth of vision you have to transform this world. I enjoyed both the  days and nights we rocked the world – it was truly an honour.

For friends who gave me the chance of day , for making my year what it was – Jiahui, Claudio, Liyana, Chan, Valerie, Shiaw-Yan, Adrian, Ashton, Victoria, Tong Yee, Josiah, Hong Xi, Joseph, Jack, Chu Xian, Cher, Ivfen, Cass,Vin, Shyen, Sherie,Pong, Chuni, Qin En, Ying Cong, Johannes, Xiu Jing, Tedd, Louis,Gabriel, Shi Feng, Brenda,Ziyad, Jasdeep, Jia Rong, Benji, Cass Yuwen, Sharon, George,  Hakeem, Feroz, Ming Bros, Izumi, Sam, Laura, Min Xuan, Audrey, Kian Chong, Shane, Tong, Audrey, Lynnette, Upneet, Ray, Ly, Noelle, Jireh, Heng Jie, Cexiang, Gideon, Grace, Daniel C., Joyce, Jacq, Zhilin, Cheryl, Samuel, Martin, Timothy W., and definitely so many others.

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I guess that’s it. That’s the end. I’m glad it wasn’t a wimper, I’m glad it was pretty much a blast.

You’ve been great 2014, you’ve been absolutely phenomenal.

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I have found that if you love life, life will love you back.
– Arthur Rubinstein

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geronimo,

 

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a tribute to the universe – part #4 (purple pride)

When I was 13, I knew I wanted to study in the States. It was a dream of mine – for various reasons, but the most important being that I wanted a change in environment from the Singapore education system. As much as I benefited from the school system in Singapore (known for being one of the best in the world) , I knew I was looking for opportunities to learn beyond the classroom . I wanted to experience , learn how to learn, be put in uncomfortable situations ; all which was less probable to happen while in Singapore.

The opportunity was sealed when I was accepted to Northwestern , just before I had enlisted in the army. In retrospect, the boy who got accepted was diffeerent from the man who actually walked into the campus. I had seen the gravitas of life and death in the military ; I had dabbled in the life of an influencer as a YouTuber , with movers and shakers ; even learnt tough lessons in grit and strategy as an entrepreneur. But I still gained so much because of the people and experiences I was exposed to – with a mix of #77breaths, a good mix of clubs and organisations, as well as a solid group of friends – I was what many people called “thriving”. I can’t wait for more.

But I have many people to thank for making the experience what it was for me:

Igor –  Probably my best bro on campus; thanks for being by my side throughout the whole quarter. You were a real pal, and I would have never imagined that because of being in the same dorm and PA group we would have hung out so much. We’ve been through so many adventures I’m sure they speak for themselves ; but all I have to say is that you’ve been a great companion throughout them all – we’ll definitely rock this campus.

Jonathan – Shenkman! I’ll always be grateful for inviting me in as a brother to your family – for Thanksgiving and beyond. It definitely cushioned the feeling of homesickness – and I’m glad I  was able to learn so much about “American” living from you. We definitely have had our share of “What on earth happened” experiences – and I guess it’s because we share similar goals in life. I’m always inspired by your commitment to sustainable energy development – very excited to see what comes out of it.

Jacob –  It was probably our first outing to the Bastille concert that sealed it, but I knew you were a guy that I could chill  with from the get go. We share so many similar interests and principles, I really enjoy talking to you. Thanks for all the crazy experiences (especially the Bulls Game Box Tickets wtffff….) and I’m really looking forward to 2015.

Joe –  Blackman! Throughout all the brainstorming sessions we’ve had for our  topsecret project – I’m realizing that you’re definitely the right guy for our partnership. You’re a very forward thinking guy, and more importantly we speak the same language – we understand what works best and we can act on it. I’m glad I found someone with similar principles to take on this project with and am looking forward to full execution.

Atakan –  Probably my first close friend on campus. With our commitment to make #college, every bit it was, I’m pretty sure we were successful with the past quarter. Although you’ve become quite the jock now, I’m glad we get to find moments to chill and talk about how’s life been going. We have similar goals in life,and that makes our conversations so much more meaningful. See you in 2015

Derrick –  2 years ago when we met back in Raffles, I never thought I’d be talking to one of my favorite seniors on campus. Thanks for really taking care of us and for opening doors to crazy experiences for us. I honestly really enjoy hanging out with you and the guys and am glad we managed to do so much in the past quarter. Winter is coming, and we’re gonna make it rock.

Sonia –  Throughout this whole quarter, you’ve been such a sister to me ; I’m so grateful for having someone I can just talk to and who can empathize with complicated old me. To think our friendship started out with that night washing shot glasses…. But here we are, and I’m all the better cos of the conversations we’ve had. Thanks for being there for me , and for being you.

To all the organisations that have made me feel at home:

My ISO Group – Aman (for being the best introduction to campus life),  Christina, Gordon, Filippo, Jethro, Karan, Upasna, Sherry, Rachel, Alex, Shane for making the first weekend in Northwestern so much easier.

My PA Group – Prof. Ben Jones(for teaching us how to make the best out of college) , David Dent, Michael, Rafi, Fellippe, Jacob, Dan, Alana, Shannon, Niki – I’m glad I get to meet so many of you guys still , in random campus encounters. Familiarity is a comforting feeling

My Triathalon team – Jason (for being an especially inspirational leader, I learn so much from you bro) , Nicki, Renee, Nour, Rae, Michael, Robert , Johan, Anna, Theo, Zack, Emily R. , Emily B. , Allie, Daniela,Andrea, Meghan, Daniel, Patrick, Justin, Will E. , Will S., Kamya, Hadley, Rachel, Jessi, Naomi, Brian D., TJ, Will  D., Nikhil, Paula –  for giving me a motivated and extremely fun team to hang out with and train with. i always feel so energised around you guys and am inspired by every one of you.

NUSAF – Karen, Zining, Hongfei, Benjamin , Kenneth, Chen Ming, Jeremy, Juliette, Yadanar, Dexter, Elden, Keishel,Grace, Daniel,  for giving me a home away from home. It’s nice to let loose them “lahs” occasionally.

Leo S, Leo H . (for being the Asian crew I knew I was always a part of , and making the weekends so fun)

Sachin, Sumeer, Ben, Frank M., Nate, Micahel, Brian, Rob, Ashvin, Kuba, Burke, Harrison, Alex, Joe , Shuyao –  for opening doors to a true college experience to me , and welcoming me to your house for all them adventures.

To all my friends of chance and consequence – Alex, Isabel, Clark, Javi (the people who will always be known as the guys who woke me up on my first night) , Batu, Wyatt (24 hours of coding definitely brought our friendship to another level), Yannick, Sinan, Kaan, Cem, Erkan, Jonathan, Selin, Ipek, Nida,Anna, Abhi , Raghav, Mihir (for being bicycle buddies) , , Justin, WIll Wright, Madison, Shou (esp. for practicing German with me), Jason, Connor, Julian, Austin, Marko, Gabriela, John F. (we’re gonna change the world, I tell you),  Gerardo, Jimmy, Vicki,Kathie, Brittany, Angela, Iris, Aruj, Tony Chen, Tony She, Ashwin, Suesan (Honours calc. did some good in bringing us together) , Sam, Hansen, Russell,Andy Duncan, Keaton, Ia (resident Tumblrgirl) , Nicole (who would have thought  laksa would bring us together), Agam, Alana, Natasha, Carol, Erica, Tina, Hal, Katie D. , Amol, Rheeya, Daniel D, Leon , Henri, Dominique, Evan, Hannah, Parker, Pooja, Faye, Bryan, Noah, Chris, Ariela, Emily, Clemence, Marc, Dixon, Parth, Bharat, Levin, Leo, Aditya, David,Dino, Mira, Adam, Leona, Srishti, Rushil , Shane, Carolyne,Saya-  for all making my Northwestern experience so much more richer. We’ve all had so many unique encounters that made me cherish my time in school so much more.

I’m looking forward to Winter quarter so much – with Rush, Mayfest preparations, Triathlon training and so many other things going on – there won’t be any shortage of experiences. And I’ll be doing it with people I’ve found to enjoy being around so much.

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Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.
– Helen Keller

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geronimo.

in tribute to the universe – part #3 (infect me with the travel bug)

When I was a kid, I wanted to travel like crazy. It was always a childhood ambition. My biggest dream was to travel to the US. I’d always ask my parents , “When are we going to the US?” , and they’d reply “Ask God. Just pray.” Despite their intentions to get me to rely on God, I hated the reply. It seemed like there wasn’t a desire to make it happen. I wanted to see all these grand and majestic sights that they’d show on the television and internet. I wanted to see the same places my friends were visiting. I didn’t appreciate then how difficult it would have been for a family of my size to afford trips to countries in the West ; but I also knew I wanted to make it there as soon as I could.

With a mix of grace, fortune and a good head , I found myself in Boston when I was 15 as a result of being shortlisted for a programme to Harvard. We went as a school group, but because of the uniqueness of the programme, we ended up having as unstructured a programme as we could have. It gave us the  opportunity to see a bit more of Cambridge Town, and Boston – and that was when I was enthralled to study in the States. Fast forward to when I was 17, and I was shortlisted to travel to Hong Kong University by myself to see the University. Again, being by myself, I saw Hong Kong and was dazzled by the difference in culture. I wanted to learn, and be fed with stories.

When I finally got the EDB scholarship, I knew my dreams were being realised. I was going to be able to study in the States. I had played the game, and I was winning , but I also knew the craving to discover could not be limited to the States any more. I wanted to know what was in every corner of this world – what had God built , and what had people made out of it? How did people live , and did they face the same issues as us back in Singapore? Are we truly the same, or are we unique beyond resolution? I gave myself significant goals this year ;  but the most significant of  them was to travel at least once every two months. To get out, discover, and most importantly apply myself. I wanted to use the stories I had gained and make new things – I did not want to be a passive consumer.

So I did exactly that.

I visited Vietnam in January as a Post-ORD Trip with Ding Hao. Thanks for being exactly the kind of travel buddy I need, fun and not rigid ; and most importantly adventurous.

I had tons of fun meeting people like Bradley (who would  have thought when we met at the Burger Bar, we’d find out we were actually room-mates) , Angus, Megan , Sadie, Ronny  –  right in my hostel.  Thanks for making our time in Vietnam as enjoyable as it was, and being great hostel-mates. You guys were our first hostel-mates, and it definitely encouraged me to stay in hostels in the future. Again, if you guys are ever in Singapore, give me a holler and we’ll hang out.

The next major trip was to Cambodia with Ivfen , Luke, Leon . The trip started off with an adventure in itself with Ivfen missing her flight because of a miscommunication between the airport and us. This was probably a defining trip simply because of the level of adventure I experienced on the trip . Thanks guys for being such sporting companions and definitely making the trip an exciting one. Also I was really grateful to Sokpier, Reaksmey and everyone else in the village we visited for hosting us, taking care of us and showing us authentic Cambodian hospitality.This was probably when I discovered the need for authentic experiences – not just tragedy tourism, not just commercial tourism but a discovery of everything the country is .

There were a lot of trips in between, with the Gushcloud gang to FMFA in KL, with my church to Cameron Highlands and a bunch of others with my family to neighboring cities but the next defining trip was the one to Europe.

EDB has a programme in which it offers to sponsor its scholars a language programme while waiting for school, and a trip to the country of practice to take a course there as well. I had been taking German for a while and so  used the opportunity to make a whole Eurotrip of it all.

I start in Berlin where I meet my host, Marina ,who was the sweetest person ever. She helped me practice my German every morning, and did not withhold any sense of German experience from me (she taught me how to be environmentally friendly too) . I also had the best housemates, but I’ve misplaced their names (I don’t want to spell them wrongly) who cooked authentic meals and showed me places they already knew.

I also had the opportunity to meet up with amazing classmates Patrick, Henrique, Suleiman,Aliz, Jean Sebastian, Domingo, Thea, Albert, Ivana, Anja, Martina (2), Elisa, Andrea ; my friends outside of class : Patricia, Catarina, Guillermo, Quentin, Charles, Martin and everyone else!

Special thanks to my hosting group of friends, who made the trip everything it was. Thanks for showing me around the cities when I was there, for providing important travel advice, for being friends; for being companions and for helping me fall in love with Europe. To Jer (who showed me London and reminded me what how exciting it was going to be studying in a foreign country) ; my aunt, uncle and cousins in Falkirk, Scotland ; to Martina in Milan for being probably my favorite companion on the trip – the conversations and time we shared always stay close to me (and Silvia for being so helpful and fun too, you’re not old at all 😛 ) ; to Coral (and Pol) ,for taking care of me in Barcelona – I always laugh when I remember the silly adventures we had (both in Berlin and Barcelona) ; to Atte, for the amazing amazing time I had in Paris – it definitely ended on a high with you (I still remember dancing on the streets of Paris man…) . We definitely need to make this annual trip a thing.

To the friends I made along the way – Shana , Jessica, Julia, Malik, Arthur, Elsa, Amen, AnneCha, Emily for making this adventure exactly so much more magical.

I grew up so much on this trip. I had to take care of myself and absorb so much information that I could help but come back a different person. I became overwhelmed by the grandeur of creation that had occurred across all of Europe, and the range of history created by people , both horrific and splendid. If so much had been possible, so much more can be possible – and that was what ignited the fire in me.

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When I was in college, I enjoyed myself a lot but there’s was a longing in my heart that I couldn’t initially understand. Life was good in college, but I wanted to continue discovering and being uncomfortable. I wanted to dance on the streets again, I wanted to fall in love with Baroque architecture, I wanted to climb mountains and overlook beauty. And I felt like I spoke a different language. I had seen so much, and while people had probably travelled more than me, there simply was a difference in the experience. So I knew I had to travel again. As much as I missed home the break was too short and so I decided to use my Winter Break to revisit Europe – focussing on central Europe.

This part will probably be updated towards the end of my trip because I’m only one week into the trip but I’ve made quite a number of friends already.

I have to start by thanking profusely Igor and his family for hosting me in Olomouc and making me feel so welcome ; for cooking homecooked food for me and for taking the time to care for me. To Anna, Zuza, Nick, Martin, Tomas, Lucie, Vojta, Jan, Martin, Tadeas for showing me Brno, Prague and making me feel like a local for the time I was here.

Makoto, Li Han –  Meeting Singaporeans anywhere in the world has always been thrilling, but you guys were especially fun to hang out with in Prague, and Vienna.

Istvan, Julie, Barna, Dodo, Anushka and the rest of the gang – for making our first night in Budapest such an eventful one ; we truly felt like locals.

(Space reserved for adventures i Budapest)

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You can’t be the same after you see so much. I’ve shared a lot with my team back home on stuff we could explore bringing back to Singapore (e.g. Train of Dreams), based on what I’ve seen around the world.  No trip of mine has been short of unexpected twists and turns, but I’ve embraced the spirit of change and challenge , and have become excited by the notion of the unknown. Oh what a life.

Life is too short to  leave dreams and ambitions for when we’re older. The time is now, the adventure is ours to make.

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“To travel is to take a journey into yourself”

Danny Kaye

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geronimo

in tribute to the universe – part #2 (bigger, better, faster)

After my service in the military, I knew I wanted to work somewhere and earn money to travel overseas. I also wanted to focus on developing important skill sets that would become essential in my future. I wanted to treat myself seriously in the sense that I wanted to only apply myself to situations where I could gain something of a higher quantum return than simply working at a desk job. Everyone should aspire for a career that they can apply themselves to.

I knew Aaron and Janice were starting a new network for YouTubers after their departure from WahBanana and so approached them to offer to help them grow the network. I didn’t mind the intern-rate pay as long as I could gain the following benefits : 1) Ability to network with people that matter 2)Learning opportunities 3) Growth of my own YouTube channel. I was extremely  glad when they agreed and that was when I was brought into the world of advertising and marketing.

You see, advertising and marketing is all about storytelling (my favorite past-time) . You convince someone that they should consider your product because you told a convincing story about  it. I had the opportunity thus to work in Gushcloud and Tribal DDB as a result of this pivot, and meet the people that have shaped my professional outlook on life.

Gushcloud

Althea –  I have to start with the person that has probably made the most impact on my life this year besides my family. It was probably a series of gut decisions but you took the time to understand me, and I likewise gained so much by trying to learn from you. I’ve maintained that I admire you not just for your entrepreneurial finesse , but more for your ability to groom leaders, to care about people and to build legacies . By the time it was time for leave, I knew I could talk to you more as a friend than a boss, and that knowledge gave me the confidence to do bigger things. I can honestly say a good share  of my principles have been adapted from my experiences with you (I took the good, and learnt from the bad :P) , and that has made me a better person. I’ll never forget the faith you had in me; if I ever grow to do big things, it’s because I stood on your shoulders.

Vincent  – When I hear the word entrepreneur, I think of you first. It’s funny, not even Zuckerburg or Thiel. It’s really because being an entrepreneur requires a soul and story that I’ve seen first hand being embodied by you. You’re really the rockstar people make you out to be, and it’s especially because you remain humble every step of the way. Thanks for teaching me to care about values, about dreams and about people. I enjoyed the conversations we had, intellectual and personal – and am glad we shared the time we did. Looking forward to more.

Sheena – I think I learnt the most catchphrases from you this year. You’ve been so much fun to work with, even though when you’re in #stressmode I would walk carefully . Thanks for having my back so many times , for celebrating with me and for being patient with me. You’re definitely a friend I’m glad I made , and I’m only excited for more adventures ahead. You have, by far, the best eye for food so far .

Fai –  Bruddah. How can I look back on the times we had and not smile? We clicked from the get-go and had so many good times. We had our share of squabbles, but every friendship has its thunderstorms, and I’m glad our friendship was enough to overcome them. I will always be grateful for your presence , and for taking care of me. I always admire your ability to live life so passionately – it fuels my own desire to live.

Audrey –  Audreh. For some reason I always think of you as one of the guys, and I guess it’s because you were really a bro. Or a sis. Whatever it’s called, I felt like I could trust and talk to you , and that sense of safety is difficult to find with many others. I always enjoy coming back to the office because you’ll be there to smile and wave . Thanks for making life brighter whenever you’re around.

Freda –  Fred, thanks for watching out for me since the beginning. I know we joke about Nasi Kang Kang, but you’ve always been like a fun big sister. When I finally get to talk to you in between your bouts of work, I have so much fun talking to you . It definitely made my time in GC so much more fun.Looking forward  to seeing you soon.

Xeun – I remember our time in FMFA immediately when I begin to write this haha. Our stories speak for our friendship and I’ve enjoyed getting to know you in the past few months. You’ve been a good representative of THG , and I’m grateful for the effort you put into sharing our story and fighting for our value to clients. Thanks for being such a bud.

Elvina – Of course, Elvina without whom I probably couldn’t solve some of the most impossible problems. Thanks for being so patient and for always smiling when I’m back in the office. It wouldn’t be the same without you.

Lesner –  I honestly can’t wait till we’re in the same country again man. It was the easiest for me to talk to you amongst everyone else in the office – we spoke the same language ; of travel, of leadership and of ambition. You’ll go far man, I just know it – I can only look back at our memories and smile to myself. Thanks for being such an amazing pal, one of the best.

Mikal –  I miss your fashion sense. Really haha. Dude, thanks for making the year so fun in the office. I remember our late nerf gun wars in the office, and the adventures we had . It was definitely an experience doing ops work, and planning for events – I’m glad I ended up sitting behind you.

Darren –  Late night Spize Nights still occupy my memory. I’m not sure how it happened, but we shared good tales over good food. I guess that’s the value in having conversations between people of similar cuts – we talk about things close to our heart. Thanks for opening up to me on your story for your love of design and technology. It made me ask myself what I love as well. And the quest has been incredible.

Janice  –  Again, I’ll always be grateful for being the one to invite me into this family. It was a pleasant surprise to see a side of you not many get to see – a strong independent woman , wanting to make something out of her life and chart her own way. I’ll always remember the tales we shared, and will look back fondly on the journey we made on YouTube and in Gushcloud. Thanks for taking care of us , for being a friend.

Aaron – What a pal you are. I don’t even need to begin to describe how much fun I’ve had by your side, and to imagine it all started with a stray FB message. It’s really because of our friendship that so much has happened and I’ve been glad to be able to open up to you and have that reciprocated. Aside from using your celebrity status at Zouk to move around easier (perpetuated by Danial I swear) , there were so many times I remember thinking about the moment and being glad we had come this far. What a journey.

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I guess it was only a matter of time before I asked myself what’s next. And the answer presented itself without me even explicitly asking it . One of my mentors, Jeff, messaged me asking me if I’d like to come do some work at DDB and work with big clients. I was humbled to be given the responsibility of crafting social media strategies, tapping into my networks  and working with big media roadmaps . I felt like I had stepped into a whole new land , and was a small fish in a big pond. But that’s where you grow, and grow I did.

Jeff – Thanks for believing in me, and for giving me this rare opportunity. I definitely tried to make the best of it, and I’m grateful for the check-ins and opportunities to tap into your brain for insights on society, people and the industry. To be able to watch you in action was a learning experience and I took a lot away from it.

Alexis –  Thanks for mentoring me on the job. I walked in with only a fraction of knowledge of the industry, but you helped me to learn how to leverage that and grow my application abilities. I thought with more perspective on issues and was able to plan with a longer roadmap for clients. Your patience and insight definitely taught me a lot, and I’m glad I had the chance to talk.

Dawn and Yuhui – I always remember you guys as a pair. and I guess because I rarely interacted with you guys separately. Our conversations were definitely the highlight of my time in Tribal DDB , thanks for teaching me how to deal with big office situations, how to approach creative, how to think ahead and how to be a Christian in it all. Also congratulations again Dawn! So happy for you and your marriage 🙂

To the rest of the team, thanks for making my time in DDB as great as it was . I only wish I had the opportunity to have more experiences and make more memories with you but it was great while it lasted – Jeremy, Fangru, Leslie, Fred, Boston,Aik Beng, Wenjie, Nicole. 

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“Friendship… is not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.” – Muhammad Ali

geronimo.

in tribute to the universe – part #1 (Keep Believing)

Oh yes, it’s time. Annual thanksgiving posts – to close  2014 and start 2015 with recognition of  the various factors that built up the year. It’s been an absolutely  amazing year, my best thus far in fact.

Let’s recap the year –

January – Joined Gushcloud, Went to Vietnam
February – FMFA, THG launches the Roadmap for 2014
March – Cambodia Trip
April – THG 1st Year Anniversary
May – Start Work at DDB, Train of Dreams
June – Cameron Highlands, Birthday series
July – Farewell series, Handing Over of THG, MP3 Experiment 2014
August – Summer in Europe
September – School Starts in Northwestern
October – November : #77breaths
December – Winter in Europe

There’s a lot more items I’d like to  list down but they’re generally secretive in nature, not PG, and some just forgotten ; but it’s been a series of definitely adventures this year.  Again,  I’ve been incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to have so many doors opened for me. I’m born into a middle-class family, with parents that only taught me to love God, work hard and gave me an important foundation – yet I stand here today a product of the consequence of pivots. When an opportunity presented itself in front of me , I didn’t just grab it, I decided to ride it like a bull. You come off tired, but a different man .You have pivoted in your perspective.

Adventure-living is all about the pivots. Seeking important pivots in your life that will define where you see yourself in the future, will put you in a position to receive more opportunities. Most people know I reflect heavily and publish my thoughts and aspects of my life online – it’s really to document the process and show my friends who have complained about a meaningless life that it’s definitely within one’s reach to do what you love, have a sustainable life and be happy. There is no reason to continue a mundane life – take calculated risks , meet new people, create memories.

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so as always this will be a multi-part post divided as follows:

Part 1 – The Hidden Good
Part 2 – Gushcloud/DDB
Part 3 – Travel Buddies
Part 4 – Northwestern
Part 5 – Friends, Acquaintances & Encounters

Before everything else, I’d like to thank God for his providence and wisdom throughout this journey, my family for their unconditional love (I’m a tough cookie to love) and anyone who has ever valued me enough to give me a chance to be a part of their lives. I hope I added as much to yours as much as you added to mine.

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The Hidden Good is my proudest story by far. It’s a story of ideation, of dreaming , of hope and also of overcoming problems unique to youths and society. It wasn’t an easy journey – when Leon decided to leave and focus on other aspects of his life, I was honestly left with a huge burden to deal with – shut down the  organisation or keep working at it. It was only with the amazing team I had that I managed to pull things off – and I’ve only been grateful for the journey. Still maintaining that if you learn as many things about yourself and society in the fastest time possible – start a company ; you’ll be shotgunned into it.

Let’s start with Leon  – for starting this with me, and still standing by my side throughout the process. We’ll never know how THG would have been like had we both stayed in together, but we did what we could and we made the best of it. It was a difficult transition but we made it through , and it’s a testament to our original promise : there’s a longer road ahead for us , and it’s no use spoiling that for anything else.

The Old Guard – Bella, Aiysh, Jethro, Viren,Vishnu Matt Soh for being a part of this from the beginning and helping to maintain sincerity in the group. I know some of  you guys have moved on, but that will never take away the value you brought to the organisation.  You were an important addition to the initial formation of the team – you helped set the foundation with us.

Boon – My favorite go-to guy. I’m glad you joined us (I’m glad you had a van, that was what brought us together) , and I’m even more glad that opened the door for so many crazy adventures in the Boon-mobile and wicked nights.  You were a great listening pal, I valued your advice incredibly and was appreciative of the moments in which we tackled important issues with a sense of rationality. These memories will last.

Darren – Darren, oh Darren. From the first time we met, all the way till now – I look back at the series of events that embellish the path we took and I can only smile and laugh. We had our difficult moments, but I’m glad we both decided The Hidden Good was bigger than us and important enough to see room to change individually. You’ve become an important part of The Hidden Good, a SME in The Hood Factory and I can only hope that you continue to live your heart out through it. We do good work – and good work is hard to come by. Thanks for being there all this time, and for being reliable and capable – traits that will become valued more as we grow older.

Frank – You would think being in the army for so long would make us sick  of each other , but it only made us better at working with each other. We both know we’re difficult people, but we accommodate each other so well it’s crazy. I’m glad you offered to step in, and you’ve been an important operational asset to the team, and more importantly a key player in the future of the organisation. This organisation is built on a combination of dreams, grit and people – and you embody those aspects in a way that is admirable. Looking forward to catching up with  you soon.

Damien – We both knew ON would be an experiment in itself – to challenge the way programming is done on YouTube in Singapore, and to challenge the way people consume the news. With our bright mix of people, it was not easy to manage so many things on a tight budget, but I’ll always be grateful that you helped push the vision through. I was afraid our friendship would crack because of our  work relationship, but I think eventually our strong friendship set the foundation of an understanding work relationship. We could speak honestly, as we always have, and still hang out the next day. 2014 was defined by the work we shared in The Hidden Good, and in a lot of ways I’m glad you helped me shape a new type of show on our channel – we became pioneers and I think that experience was worth the trials. See, no hyperbole – all true .

Ana – It didn’t take me much time to shortlist you for a Project Manager role, you were the kind of person I knew would help manage the detail intensive nature of The MP3 Experiment capably and I wasn’t disappointed. As I’ve mentioned, it wasn’t easy pulling it off the first time, and it probably will never be easy as we set new more ambitious goals for ourselves – but we grow with every challenge. I only wish we had had more time to develop our friendship after not seeing each other for so long – but I’m glad I had the opportunity to be in close contact with you throughout the year. You are essential, valuable and a key person in the history  of The Hidden Good.

Jon –  I have a tendency of chasing wild dreams, and the Train of Dreams had no precedence in Singapore. There was no reason for it to exist other than the social utilitarian goals we set for it – and yet I always have been grateful that you agreed to dream along with me. It took a good balance of being crazy and well organised to pull it off and you had the perfect mix. You gave the Train of Dreams the soul it needed , and we pulled off the first public organised Public Commute performance set – thanks for being awesome.

Tat Hsiang – The Special Forces Team – tackling new projects that required a whole new level of thinking – that was the concept behind the team we set up. And although we never executed some of the projects that we had in our arsenal, I think we rocked a few boats with our ideas. Thanks for coming along, and for sharing my vision for this group. You’ve been a solid bud, and a great leader.

JJ and JX –  Pixelrife has been a huge partner for The Hidden Good. We speak a similar language, and our relationship has blossomed so much because of the projects we work on together. It’s an interesting relationship we have, but I’m grateful for the support and understanding that we’ve developed between ourselves. When I walked into Starbucks and laid out the grand roadmap for The Hidden Good , and we shook hands on the deal, I knew we were going to be on a fun journey together.

The ON Team – Anurak, Dominic, John, Gabriel, Baoxin – I look back at the journey with good memories. We all knew the challenges of a show we didn’t even have the format tied down for but we agreed on the cause – to bring rationality back to the  mainstream audience . We went through a lot of storming, and challenged a lot of norms, but we made something we can be proud of. When we closed the show, we had people messaging us saying they were sad it ended – we made good products and we can always be proud of that. Thanks for working with me, and for creating this vision together.

The MP3 Experiment Team –  David, Nicholas, Nicole, Jonas, Chloe, Rishi –  What an amazing turnout the event was, wasn’t it? 1300+ people who decided that Singapore was worth making a better place have you to thank for, for making the effort to make this even a success out of your own time. Thanks for taking the time to understand the longer time needs of  the organisation and event; and even more for working alongside – I greatly enjoyed the journey.

The Train of Dreams Team – Wen Chuen, Charmian  –  To this day, I wish that you guys weren’t so awesome that you had so much to do – you guys were a great addition to The Hidden Good and pulled off the Train of Dreams so nicely even though we faced so many roadbumps. It took a lot of faith, and at one point even I had to be reminded to Keep Believing but we made it work and we set precedence. And we can do a lot with Precedence.

Soak – my favorite artist for being along this journey with me. You should know to this day you’re one of the rare few I feel comfortable opening up to, and I’m glad we had so many conversations and good memories together. We’re both emotional people, believe me a lot of what I do has more emotion than rationality behind it, but we channel those differently and I’m glad I got to learn how to let things go better from you.

Shiharn – Thanks for being so committed to the next stage of The Hidden Good – we needed a way  to continue engaging our audience and you took up the challenge. Social media is a tricky  world but we who learn to harness its strengths end up reaping a secret that many struggle to comprehend. I love your dedication and sincerity and enjoyed working with you  a lot – I only wish we got more time to hang out ; we should do that when we’re back.

The Team at Large – Wayne, Adila, Sylvester, Arthur, Andre, Christopher, Nick, Sherilyn, Nurul, Shawn, Zhen Jie, Ted, Robinson, and especially all  the new people involved – you guys are honestly amazing. Really. For even taking up the mantle of a Hoodie and deciding that Singapore is worth it – as a youth, that will make a  huge impact in how we carry our  nation forward. Our society forward. For most of  you, I had the chance to work at some level with you; for others I only wish we had more time to take on projects together.  But I hope the organisation that is standing now speaks to the values that are the foundation of The Hidden Good and will propel you to find new ways to Build a Better Society.

Jiezhen –  New Blood has a lot to deal with – it must live up to  the expectations of the past, and create new memories in the future – and like I’ve told you many times I’m glad you continuing the legacy. The Hidden Good stands for so many things and as much as we’re defined by our past, we are also given the opportunity to define our future as we wish it – that’s the very premise of The Hidden Good – we decide our future, no one else. You’ve done amazing stuff with the team so far – and it’s so evident. I can only hope that you find The Hidden Good being a huge part of the change you wish to see  – we make our own adventures. Thanks for being so capable and a truly inspirational leader.

Vincent, Althea, Louise, Willie, Isaac , Aaron –  for mentoring the various aspects of The Hidden Good. Thanks for believing in me, and for believing in the company, and the vision. I’ve learnt that that’s one of the biggest boosts someone can receive, to be told they are believed in – and the faith you place in The Hidden Good and the future we chart together for it can only mean great things. I am excited for where we can move ahead with this, and am excited to make that journey with your help.

Friends of The Hidden Good –  Our YouTube friends, TreePotatoes (Aaron, Janice, Elliot, Clifford), NOC (Ryan, Sylvia), Jianhao, Julian, TGIS (Daniel, Hakim) , Munah and Hirzi, UXM , Keiji, Cheok, Trev – thanks for making us part of your  community and helping us to create content that will entertain and influence Singapore. We’re not  heavyweights in YouTube but we definitely gained a lot from being around you.

Our Partners –  SKM ( Dr Wan, Michelle, Zoe, Cesar) , FairPrice Foundation, Ogilvy (Liyana, Claudio, Chan, Cheryl) , Great Eastern (Daniel), National Youth Council (Jacinta, Shawn) , Our Better World (Noelle), SMRT, SCAPE, LTA, Gardens by the Bay, Gushcloud(Xeun, Freda, Fai, Sheena), and anyone else that helped us at some point become who we were – thank you for believing in us.Thank you for choosing us to be part of your journey and thereby helping us make leaps and bounds.

Our fans and subscribers for always believing in us as we believed in Singapore. Your fervent sharing and belief is what helps us grow and take on new challenges. 

I feel like I missed out so many other people and organisations – The Hidden Good had so many people make it what it is now, and I had the chance to meet so many new people and friends through it. I cannot imagine how my life would have been different had I not picked up the phone and called Leon with my idea. But I did and that made all the difference. That was a pivot that changed my life.

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rest of the parts coming soon

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geronimo

6 things to remember

1) not everything needs to be defined. as much as it is emotionally tumultuous, it is difficult to want something without sacrificing something else. to have something consistent means to give up something variable. but to have something flexible means to give up what could possibly be steady.

2) the best way to keep a secret is not to shut it up in a cupboard. in fact, you cover it up with a mixture of truths, mistruths and general loud noise – hide it to the point that no one can distinguish it from what they know.

3) there’s always a solution – everything has a possibility to be fixed, either internally over time / by consequence , or externally through persistence and strategy.

4) opportunities knock on your door if you’re able to sell yourself as a brand. don’t be afraid to position yourself socially as a brand worth pursuing – it’s the new age of HR and talent acquisition . Match skill development with brand development.

5) everyone is an advocate now that we have social media. but what do you advocate for? are you using your position of influence , no matter the size, for some sort of positivity? you don’t have to preach a charity, but are you spreading hurt or hope?

6) there are people in this world who will disappoint you. they may not be bad people, but they definitely won’t match your expectations . and that’s fair, because it’s selfish to project your expectations onto them – but find ways to accept that people like that exist and move forward. recover quickly and make headway.

geronimo.

frathouse by the prairie

“You would think seeing a whole place covered in snow would be beautiful, but you know what, I could honestly do without all of this environmental dandruff” Cindy said as she walked down the path with Rick.

“I find it fascinating.” Rick stared at the snow falling, putting out his tongue and letting the snow land on the tip. “But yes, I could do without the chilly wind ” he chuckled.

“I don’t get how you find all of this so funny. I’m freezing my ass off.” Cindy continued to dig her hands deeper into her coat , clenching the inner lining as if it would help her fight the chill. “Why did we even come out?” she continued whining.

“Well, if I remember correctly…” Rick started.

“Don’t you dare. You wanted to go to a frat party just as much as I did” she pointed her finger in his face.

He pushed his nose onto her finger. “Oh wow that’s a cold finger” he said. He did not want to argue with her ; tonight was supposed to be their night together. He would remind her the next day though , how she had continuously messaged him the whole week to find the parties that were to happen that night.

They had to endure a whole night of drunken stupor, dirty dancing, “Do you know someone here?”s and “Take a lap buddy”s . It was iced with some occasional fun moments though. The music at Sigma Phi was to his taste, and he had met a girl at Alpha Gamma that he had managed to have some corner fun with before he realised he had come with Cindy.

He despised the hookup culture on campus – but he kept being pushed to the corner by random people and just played along before his brain took over. Cindy offered something consistent. And that was the closest to romance he could get on campus.

“Let’s just get back to campus as soon as we can. My coat’s in your room right?” Cindy broke his train of thought.

He nodded his head, all the time staring right in front of him.

“Ce était une nuit incroyable!” he heard someone shout all of a sudden.

His heard darted right, allowing him to see a couple coming out, dressed in clothes he had only seen in the movies. Miami Vice if he wanted to be precise.

“Look at that!” he said, tugging at Cindy’s arm.

“It’s just a bunch of drunk grad students. Let’s head back. I’m freezing” she said, letting on a slight sense of annoyance in her voice.

“I’m pretty sure this isn’t a regular frat party. Let’s check it out ” he said. They walked up to the men on guard duty.

“What party is this?” Rick asked.

“It’s a password party, no password no entry” one of the men on duty said.

“Damnit ” he replied. His eyes were drawn to the lights leaking out of the house windows. The music that was seeping out didn’t sound like regular frat party music – there was a sense of elegance to it.

“Thanks Goodness. I was about to leave you here alone if you had decided to go in .” Cindy said relieved.

He looked at her with his face cringed . ‘Thank God she didn’t see that’ he thought to himself as he noticed her head facing forward. All of a sudden he felt a womanly touch on his shoulder. It was a lady with a large classy hat, and a gown covered with a faux fur coat.

“They’re with me” she said. “The password is magia” she whispered .

“Alright you guys can go on in” the man on duty said, waving his hand towards the front door.

Before he could take a step, he felt Cindy pull on his arm. “Let’s just go back to your place.” she said, with a pout on her face.

“Didn’t you hear the password? Magia… that’s magic in Espanol. This is our kind of party!” he said, a glimmer in his eye.

“It may be yours, but I’m done. I’ll just call an Uber and head back, if you’re not coming.” she replied , the annoyance pretty apparent at this point.

Rick looked at her, and then back at the house. The lady was still there , by the man on duty . She looked up and smiled at him, waving her hand. He looked back at Cindy , and felt a sudden limp. “I’m sorry Cindy, you know I have to do this. I wouldn’t forgive myself if I let a chance like this go. Let me know when you get back alright” he said and moved in to give her a hug.

She walked away before he could move in. “Sure” she said, curt and short.

Thank God I avoided that one, he thought to himself as he walked back to the house.

“Was that your girlfriend?” the lady asked him as she accompanied him to the door.

“You’re apparently not from here. Relationships don’t exist in this school” he said, head sinking slightly.

“That sounds horrendous.” she said. She slid her arm around his. “Well my name is Elaine, and this is the start of a beautiful night”

Rick turned towards her and smiled. “Seems like I made the right decision he said”

___

The party was unlike anything he had seen. As he walked in, he was transformed to another world. The room was decked with low hanging lights , the music was a fusion of jazz and electronic music, the people were dressed to impress.

“Why don’t you grab a drink? I’m going to say hello to my friend , he’s hosting the party. ” Elaine said into his ear.

“You know the host?” Rick asked , surprised.

“Oh yeah. Do you want me to introduce you to him?” she said.

“Why not” he replied quickly. He would love to meet the person who was creating this magic.

She led him by the hand to a couch at the far end of the floor. There were all kinds of people around , with all colours worn, and embellished with probably any foreseeable form of jewelry and apparel, and then some more. Amongst them all was a simple man, in a simple sports jacket and bowtie. “Is that him?” Rick asked, pointing at him.

“You have a good eye. He likes being called Doctor, but his name is Reinhardt. We all just call him Doctor”

“Is he a real doctor?”

“No one knows. He does know the solution to almost every problem we bring him though. So in a lot of ways, yes he is a better doctor than some”

Elaine walked on over to the Doctor, kissed him on both his cheeks and embraced him. She gestured over to Rick, and the Doctor came over.

“I see you chanced upon our humble get together. I hope you’re enjoying yourself.”

“I am, greatly in fact.”

“The night has only begun. You’ll notice there’s something special about this place. When are you from?”

“I’m from Chicago”

“I asked, when, my fine sir, not where. If you didn’t notice by now, this is not just a themed party. This is a party in what is known as the Roaring 20s. And by your response, I judge that you’re not a time traveller like the rest of us.” The Doctor turned back and faced Elaine. “You brought another straggler in?” he asked her.

“He’s cute” she said, and winked at him.

The Doctor turned back. “Watch out for her, she’s the most dangerous one amongst us all. Have a good time tonight, and don’t get lost. That has a different meaning here.” he said, slapping him on the back and walked away.

Rick stared past him and looked at Elaine. “I’m in another time?” he asked stuttering.

“Magia ” she said, and pulled him away to the dance floor.

They danced the night away, to the best music he could remember in a long time. As if Baz Luhrmann himself had transported himself to the 20s to be re-inspired, the music spoke of a different kind of ambition. Of ideals and hopes, rather than throwing one’s life to the dogs.

Elaine’s palms were wrapped around his arms, and she pulled him in closer.

“You know what’s making me in love with  tonight? I don’t feel like I’m here to make risky decisions I’ll want to have the chance to forget the next day. I actually want to live right now, I want to make risky decisions that I can live with ” Rick said, and planted his lips on hers.

They continued in each other’s embrace , and finally moved to the couch at the side.

“I didn’t expect people to be this open in the 20s” he said , chuckling.

“Honey, I’m not from the 20s. I’m a time traveller just like anyone else here. I’m from the 2100s. The 20s were my favorite period tho.” she said, placing her hand on his cheek.

“You dance almost like you fit in, especially in that attire”

“They still wear heels in the 2100s. I’ve yet to understand why” she laughed. Rick joined in, and they laughed for a good while. She leaned in on his chest, and lay there.

“Will I get to see you again?” he asked, playing with her hair.

“Well that depends. Now that you’re here, you get to choose. You can be trained as a time-traveller, or you can go back home. If you go back home, it’s unlikely we’ll ever meet again. But if you get trained, who knows? Maybe we’ll see each other soon.”

He continued playing with her hair in silence.

“What are you thinking?” she asked, holding his hand tighter.

“My whole life, I’ve been looking for moments like these. Pivots in life , that can throw you in a whole new direction. I’ve met people who are comfortable with what they know. But I’m constantly seeking things I don’t know. I’m always scared, because I may lose the progress I made – my family, my friends; but I’ve always ended up making new friends, and finding ways to connect with my past. What if one day I lose that ability? What if I keep pivoting till I forgot where I came from?”

She turned her head and looked at him.

“Those are exactly the questions I didn’t know the answers to. And you know what, there’s no other way to answer them other than to truly be forced to answer them. The only question that matters is “Will you?” . So will you?” she asked.

He stared at her ,and then took a look around the room, glancing at everyone in it. All the travelers, of time and space. He glanced at the door, from which he had left Cindy, and from which he had left what was a “consolation prize”. He found the Doctor , meeting new people from all over the timeverse , and then looked back at Elaine.

“Magia” he said, summing up the moment. And then he kissed her, like nothing before.

___

geronimo