A Look Back at 2020

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In one of my last corporate year-end appraisals, my boss said this to me: “Ryo, you are really bad at documenting your contributions and achievements”.

I had always set high standards for myself and would always strive to look for ways to improve the system or even create new strategies and approaches. Yet results for such initiatives rarely show within the year. There are also possibilities of failure. As such, when it comes to corporate appraisals, my outcomes are usually “average”. I am very thankful that this boss is very business and entrepreneurial minded who places value in trials and experimentations. He taught me that while I do not have the “outcomes”, I have taken the steps to move closer. Without even realizing it, I had been applying design thinking as a Head of Channel.

Three years after leaving Mediacorp, I don’t have much “success” to show as a solopreneur. But with 2020 being such a disruptive year, I decided to do a “look-back-to-look-forward” review. A good place to start will be to look at my “Top Nine” on Instagram for 2020:

Top 9 posts on Instagram Ryo Leong

I started a YouTube Channel and became an “Uncle YouTuber” at 50 years old. Since the announcement post is the most well liked, I suppose there is some “newsworthiness” to it. 😅  Simultaneously, I converted my Instagram to a business account and began to create content (both posts – bottom left and IGTV – bottom right) as well as started my business Facebook page.

Creating content has been challenging to say the least. I knew the concepts for both production and scheduling/programmatic. But nothing beats getting hands dirty when it comes to learning. I can appreciate first-hand the pains and frustrations that other solopreneurs or small businesses face when it comes to content creation. Middle right is a rant when my best take for a shoot was disrupted by a plane flying past. 😄 I’ve stopped producing weekly videos as I wanted to take the lessons learned and to re-strategize the approach moving forward.

I was blessed to be able to catch up and received production advice from a highly popular and great friend, Simon Tan (middle left) before “Circuit-Breaker” measures against covid-19 started. With covid-19 (center), pivoting had to be done. I subscribed to Zoom and learned to conduct the first online version of my workshop “Wake Up Your Ideas!” (top right) in April and a subsequent one in September. Early adoption allowed me to contribute to undergrads in Nanyang Business School through Career Readiness classes as well as “Standout with LinkedIn” webinars. It also meant that when I taught an entire “Creative Storytelling” module at Nanyang Polytechnic online, I was able to earn the interest and trust from the students. Really hope to be able to meet them in person soon!

Thankful that with the subsequent reopening of adult classes, I was able to collaborate with Asia Professional Development Academy to offer “Digital Narrative Marketing for Social Media” course in both English and Chinese (top center). The Chinese classes were a challenge as I’ve not used business Mandarin for many years but was glad to have received good and constructive feedback from learners and to have conducted THREE classes in Chinese in 2020!

This is also the year that I started to mentor two young poly grads, providing them advice and tips for their education and career choices. I love the idea of reverse mentorship where I also get to learn from them. In fact, this has led me to sign up with Voices of Asia to help more youths. Do join me!

2020 is my “jubilee” year, a year where I can “reset” and prepare for the next phase. As such, I have invested heavily in myself attending courses and conferences as well as in software for production and productivity. Thanks to covid-19, many conferences and courses are available online. I realized that while I can research and learn on my own, it is faster and more effective to learn from those who have done the heavy lifting. After all, investing in learning has the best returns. 😊

We have all heard of the story of boiling a frog where the frog is unable to realize that the water temperature is slowing rising until it is too late. It is used to warn us to be more sensitive to areas that are slowly eroding away. I believe the flipside is also valid. We may be oblivious to the little things that we have accomplished and how they will eventually lead to the success that we are after. Listing down these things that I’m thankful for in 2020 has shown me one thing: while I still don’t have so-called “success outcomes” to show, I have started baby steps and for some areas, I’ve also learned from the initial efforts and am making the necessary tweaks and adjustments.

Thank you for reading and consuming my content for the past year. Look forward to 2021 as I will be connecting more effectively with you and creating content that will help you in a more streamlined and consistent way. They will never be the finished product as I will continue to produce-measure-revise…

SUCCESS is a Journey in the right Direction