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Aloha and What A July!

I have been away for most of July. In fact, I think I spent only a week in Penang and the rest was out of Penang!

I was attending a two-week programme in Honolulu, Hawaii and that itself was such an amazing experience. This is what happens when you take a chance on yourself.

With some of my international friends from Asia Pacific at the East West Center in Hawaii

I had applied for the programme and strangely, had a strong feeling that I would get into it. Perhaps it was the universe prompting me to go out there and get out of my comfort zone and explore the world.

Long story short, I was accepted for the programme on scholarship and was the only person selected from Malaysia. That made me quite proud of myself! (For the whole story of how that happened, head on over to my other blog at Mayakirana.)

To get to Hawaii, I had to do a few things - apply for my US visa, get my own air tickets and prepare my action plan. Yes, all of us 16 participants from all over the Asia Pacific had to present our action plans for what we intended to do when we concluded the programme. The action plan could be something related to our businesses or it could be something we wanted to start.

There's nothing like a deadline to move me. And I adore working on tangible projects with deadlines.

For the longest time, I wanted to start a podcast. I've been an avid listener of American podcasts since 2010 - the first time I got my iPod which has since died on me. I got the iPod at Changi airport too and I recall how excited I was to finally get my own device to listen to podcasts. I like music but I liked podcasts more.

The Changing Faces 2019 programme spurred me to put this as an action plan. Starting a podcast was my 2020 project and I knew if I presented this plan and announced it to a bunch of people, I would certainly be held accountable and I would do this.

A friend of mine, Tse-Yi, has always known of my podcast dream. Whenever we email, she would ask how my project was going. Like many people, I had fears and doubts. I also didn't have a reason to get going. So I procrastinated for a long time (like 2 years?).

And now I have no reason to hem and haw anymore. I have officially announced this to the world at large that I am going to do this.

My fellow friends in this Changing Faces programme were supportive and can't wait for me to get the first episode on the air. Their encouragement was genuine; their excitement more so.

Even Liz, the programme coordinator, was telling me that I should dream bigger. Originally my idea was to cover Malaysia but she challenged me to go beyond - why not Asia?

"You're going to be the first anyway to focus on this area," she said.

As I started to think about this, I felt confident about the project. My review of the current field has shown me that there's a gap - there are very few podcasts by women for women and more so, by an Asian woman. I want to share the stories of success, challenges and pitfalls of Asian women who start, manage and sustain businesses.

I'm looking for the Asian woman who is keen to share her story with the world so that she can inspire other Asian women to look towards entrepreneurship as a means to an improved life. Over and over, we hear that economic advancement is the way forward for women.

Getting a job is one thing but starting a business is tough. But it's not impossible and some women have found the keys that unlock the doors of success.

I want these women to share their "keys" but more than keys, I want them to discuss what a business really takes. Running a business takes a lot of guts and it needs change and transformation on the part of the entrepreneur. For women especially, running a business means adding on more responsibilities to an already huge pile of work and priorities.

I believed that all these years, I have put into place the different foundations that eventually led me to this time of my life to do this.

I'm innately curious. I enjoy writing and speaking. I have written articles by interviewing people long before I decided to even start a podcast. I have networks that I can tap into, either to get interviewees or to get funding. I know enough about tech to get things figured out and I am in the web design industry so creating a website for my podcast will be manageable.

I also have business experience, running a web design business with Nic for the past 15 years. I have also mentored others and I am currently mentoring a group of women in business under our WomenBizSENSE Business Mentoring Programme.

And I believe I bring my unique voice and perspective to podcasting.

I always refer to my purpose for this podcast and my purpose has always been the same - I want to help more women inspire more women.

My work over the past 20 years or so has always been feminist and I am not ashamed of it. I have often believed that women need even more nudges, prodding and pushing to reach their potential.

If you had asked me a year ago how I was going to pull this off, I'd be stumped. I have no idea about the tech side of podcasting.

But today, I know the answer.

Like Liz says, we can figure it out.

Heck, I can figure it out. I can learn. More than that, I can enlist the help of others (by the way, I am looking for an intern and a podcast editor) and outsource the parts that I cannot or wouldn't be able to complete.

I can also tap into my invaluable network which is part of the value of being in a global programme such as Changing Faces. The programme connects us all to the cohorts before us and the rest of the East West Center alumni (the center will celebrate its 60th anniversary in 2020). That's the power of the network.

(By the way, do check out the East-West Center website. It has plenty of interesting programmes for everyone. And Hawaii is always a destination you can't say no to. It's simply magic.)

For funding, I'm currently sponsoring this before I go in search of sponsors and funders. My friends from the Changing Faces programme said that I should own my brand and have full control of this podcast before I even consider other sources of funding.

So there. That's my 2020 goal!

Any thoughts or comments?


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