Journey of Discovery
There have been many instances where people discover their calling and passion by pure chance. A notable figure who comes to mind is the late Steve Jobs. Initially, Steve Jobs dabbled in electronics only because it promised to earn him quick bucks. Yet, he grew increasingly passionate about technology and what happened afterwards is a story reserved for legends.
It is through these accidental discoveries that shed light on the power of trying out new things. In today’s episode, we speak to Leslie, who set foot on the entrepreneurship journey despite not having thought about it prior to his first venture.
Who is Leslie?
Leslie is the Co-founder of Cicil, a Google launchpad accelerator start-up focused on providing financial access to the underserved Indonesian university student segment.
Prior to starting Cicil, Leslie worked in investment banking in Hong Kong and Singapore. Leslie holds an MBA from INSEAD, and is a Member of the Global Shapers Community, an initiative of the World Economic Forum. Leslie is also an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at INSEAD, and a Alibaba eFounders Fellow.
Having An Edge Over Your Peers
Leslie has an interesting background, where he pursued a degree in Engineering, but ended up in the Finance industry. When I asked him how he was able to secure a job offer in the competitive Finance market, Leslie highlighted how his passion for Finance shone through.
Given his background in Engineering, being able to talk about Finance intelligently signalled his interest in the field. This played out in his favour because employers could sense his passion for Finance.
Regardless of whether your passion aligns with the degree you are pursuing, the takeaway from this is the importance of conveying your passion for the field you wish to work in.
For instance, say you hope to enter the Marketing industry. Instead of merely taking Marketing modules, join relevant clubs or communities to engage in conversations revolving around the latest Marketing trends. Run a side blog to work on your copywriting skills and promote it using Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) techniques to put what you learn to practice.
These are methods which can show your passion and ability for the field and put you ahead of your peers.
I strongly believe in working on something you created yourself. It need not be an intensive tech startup, it can be something as simple as your own podcast, blog, or an online eCommerce store.
As Leslie pointed out during the interview, starting his own business has granted him new insights. He mentioned the underrated element of Human Resources as one of his biggest takeaways, where large companies have no shortage of top talent, but as a small firm, you have to fight to onboard these talented team members to grow your company.
"It's going to be one of the most stressful, but yet one of the most rewarding things you can do"
While it definitely isn’t easy, I believe there can be many useful lessons learnt from working on something that truly belongs to you.
Celebrating Small Victories
Given the rollercoaster-like journey startups undergo, I was curious as to how Leslie deals with it, having been at it for 4 years. Specifically, I asked Leslie how he coped with his emotions when things are not going as smoothly as intended.
"Reminding yourself of all these small, small, positive changes - that helps keep it going"
Leslie brought across an interesting perspective, which is to acknowledge the progress you have made. By reminding yourself of the goal you set out to achieve and the little steps you have taken in that direction, it will fuel you to push on and overcome various obstacles.
The next time you’re feeling deflated, cut yourself some slack and recognise how far you’ve come. Take a moment to reflect, then go again.
Some questions I asked:
- What mindset did you enter university with? (01:16)
- How were you able to stand out amongst the competition? (04:13)
- What are some interesting lessons from your entrepreneurship journey? (13:55)
- How do you cope with your emotions when things aren’t going well? (20:11)
In this episode, you will learn:
- Pursuing a Finance career (02:34)
- Investment Banking experience (05:18)
- Hong Kong vs Singapore (in terms of work experience) (07:53)
- Advice for people interested in entrepreneurship (18:53)