Thursday, 9 December 2010

Toastmaster Speech 1: Learning through Life

Dear blog viewers,

I am back! Even better - I am happy, positive, healthy, slim, and even start taking better photo of myself. And I vow to update this blog more frequently. :) . Thus, I post the ice-breaker speech I have made in my Toastmaster club here.

Words in italics are those I have cut out from my speech due to limited time.

Ladies and gentlemen,

If I ask you to use one word to describe yourself, what will come out from you?

Yes, only 1 word.

Will it be - Happy? Sincere? Humorous? Grateful? Ambitious or Aggressive?

For me, the word is Passionate.

Ardent love, boundless enthusiasm, strong emotion, intense desire – they’re all tied with being passionate. Passions comes from our hearts. And, I believe our hearts are what drive us and create our fate!

I am passionate about many things, including my hobbies of reading; mountain hiking, scuba diving, traveling and I love beach vacations.

I also love cute guys and vampire movies. And when I have both, I am hopelessly addicted. Guess what - I am fan of Twilight and Vampire Diaries! Anyone here who does not know what is the “Twilight Saga” ? (Yes) It is a set of vampire-themed fantasy romance novels that are turned into movies. Stephanie Meyer, the author of Twilight, is actually one of my idols. I admire the fact she was able to create an intense love story and strong characters that millions of people love – all, with her writing. That is a great achievement. I love to be an author someday because I am passionate about writing too.

But on top of all those things, mostly, I am passionate about life itself and also learning through life. I think life is fascinating. Difficult at many times, but that makes it more fascinating. There are always so many things to learn. No one and nothing can stop us from learning.

I like this quote by Mahatma Ghandi "Live as if you are going to die tomorrow, learn as if you will live forever". Learning, in fact, is a lifelong mission.

I learnt a lot of things during my career.

I started working at the age of 20. At that time, I just completed my Diploma in Computer Science and I decided to pursue my Degree on part-time basis while working full-time. 6 years into my career, I was promoted from the position of Programmer to an IT Manager. I have 20 people reporting to me at that time and they provided the specimens for me to learn management. I was doing all sorts of things I like - Technical as in Programming, Design and Architecting, Product Management where I helped my company to create a product that generates 1 million recurring revenue for our company and turnaround from making losses to breaking even. Then, there are some Project Managements and most interestingly of all, People Management.

In people management, I learnt how to develop leaders, give raises and promotions, showing appreciation - believe me this is hard. And also in a awkward situation – to give feedback to my subordinate about his distinctive “body scent” – it was challenging but I like it when I am done with that.

8 years into my career, I decided on an important move in my life and life has been like a roll-coaster for me since. At one time, I would say I was at the lowest point in life.

I think life is very similar to mountain hiking. It takes a lot of energy and perseverance to hike up the mountain. But you know you will reach the top, and this always keep you going. I remember the first time I tried mountain hiking is at the 6th toughest mountain in Malaysia, Mt. Ledang. It was my first time and I had no idea what was it going to be. It was a 3 days, 2 nights hike. There were 7 members in the group and, and I was the only female member.

I remember the leader, one of my friends, asked me sceptically whether I was really sure to go for that. Being the weakest gender of the group, he kind of expects I would drag down the team. Turned out, I am much better than he thought. In fact, I think they are all amazed. I was racing third in the group, I never complaint and I never asked for a rest. When they ran, I ran.

When I reached the peak, there was this huge satisfaction. I guess that is why I love mountain hiking.

So, tying back my mountain hiking and my career when I decided to make the big decision to move, I can say - I was at one peak of the mountain, but I want to reach to the other higher peak of the mountain. To do that, I cannot just jump from one peak to another. I have to go down the mountain and climb the other peak. I had to let go of the thing I didn’t want before I could grab hold of the next thing.

I think I have reached the bottom, so I am actually starting the ascent. I think joining Toastmaster is one of the things that will help me in my ascent. I want to try new things and not afraid to take risk. I have made a lot of mistakes but I am not afraid to make some more. I am happy to be still learning and growing. That is most important.

When Steve Job, CEO of Apple Computer, delivered Stanford University commencement address in 2005, he said “You’ve got to find what you love”. And, he closed his speech with a message in 4 four words, which always resonate and stay with me.

“Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish”.

Thank you.

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