| An archive.org photo of the 1st website – designed and made by me on Dreamweaver. How cool is that! (However crappy the website may be) It was actually a website with tabs that are listed in bullet points. Wish there was a better picture memory| 🙂
Another big part of my university identity has been ExpressionHappens – my attempt at an initiative to help people express themselves.
It was after a Nineo all-nighter that we were discussing the Nineo vision (Helping people find work they love..) at the Arts Canteen Burger King. It was a nice morning, we had a lovely view of the harbor and we came to the conclusion that we would have to practice what we preach. So, we began identifying our passions and decided we should do something more with them.. Now, mine happened to be meeting people and talking to them (I’m sure you’ve figured out I’m a big talker by now..) and the conclusion was I should start a talk show! And so it began..
1) Beginnings: So, here I was, the one man manager of my own little initiative – I decided to call it ExpressionHappens and decided I would pick a question and go about interviewing people and put all their views together in a show called ‘Talk it out – where Expression Happens‘. As valentine’s day was just coming up, I went out on a Sunday and interviewed a few people. It was one heck of an experience because about 60% said no to the idea.. And it required a bit of mental training to be okay with the idea of people seemingly rejecting you. And let’s not forget, I was still driven by insecurities rather than any semblance of self confidence.. So it definitely wasn’t easy..
Anyway, I finally released the Valentine’s Day video – my very fast. It was a very badly edited video, but was a start. And then, I decided to keep this going. I did miss a week or two, tried re-engineering the name to ‘Talkdodo’ (Successful internet companies have o’s in their name – Google, Yahoo, Amazon, Microsoft etc.. Hehe) which didn’t last for too long.
A whole set of nice developments took place though. After my 3rd episode, a friend of a mentor who I had met offered to invest $1,000 for a 50% stake in my little talk show venture. I thought it was too low given I had dreams of making it a billion dollar initiative.. Haha. I also began getting some sponsorship – the PGP Non air con indian stall being my 1st sponsor and then an acquaintance who wanted to publicize a website linking to a calling card he was trying to sell. These deals lasted for a while and I felt it had some potential. I was now looking to expand into events. Besides, by now, I had a close friend who was an expert video editor and a couple of others in the pipeline. All in all, it seemed like an encouraging start and I was all set to close for the semester…
Learning: It is extremely hard to begin. It’s the toughest thing, really. Ideas are like tender saplings – they can get crushed with just one strong critical comment. I can think of a couple of times I almost decided against this.. Looking back now, I can’t but thank the lord that I did because of the many many positives that came after.
2) The Mockery Group: Now, a lot of old history was about to be reopened with some circles I was very unpopular with. A few friends decided that the talk show was too crappy for them to deal with (they had to put with it on facebook, gtalk links etc) and they decided it was time to call for a shut down. And they did, in good style – with a nice new facebook group and a bunch of members etc.
By now, I’d already attended a couple of RealAcad’s(a post coming up, soon) and one of the important competitive strategy applications we learn is that all publicity is good publicity. So, if someone is trying to take you down, there can’t be anything better.. That’s in theory of course. Let’s not forget that you are looking at a very insecure 19 year old whose inflated ego is the only driver. Anyway, the best thing that happened is this group activity punctured the ego balloon. I practically went into hiding for a month – wanted to have nothing to do with this ‘bad talk show idea’. After all, a whole bunch of people had said it was rubbish – what could be worse?
You see, the big trouble with insecurity is that a lot of self worth is attached with the opinions of others. The bigger trouble is that more often than not, it is attached to only the negative opinions. By this time, I already had a 100 odd students and friends on my mailing list who had lots of nice things to say about the videos but again, when you are talking about a balloon, all it takes is a needle to puncture it.
That was a tough summer for many reasons (aside from this). It was a rather uncertain period at work and I decided I would do a little more with my life.. Atleast, I shouldn’t let my happiness depend on other’s opinions of me. And I decided it was time to just build on self confidence and remove the ego component. In a quest to get better one day at a time, I started this blog..
Learning: Failure is a very beautiful thing. It tends to open our minds to things we aren’t doing well and makes us humble. I questioned my own intentions and purposes on that day and decided it was time for a change.. I knew it’d take a long time to change my perception of myself. It did take a long time, but it stands among the better decisions I made..
|I was alerted that it was better termed as a mockery group rather than a hate group. Hence, the change.. :)|
3)Talkdodo, back to talk show videos and a look within: For a while, we played around with the idea of becoming a university video channel wherein we would record videos of student cca events and become an NUS news channel of sorts. This changed when we sat down with a mentor to discuss what we should really do.. As we had decided to submit a business plan to SPRING singapore. This discussion involved quite some soul searching and we decided that we needed to get back to our talk show concept.. And we did, we made a video a week consistently for 6 months and learnt a LOT. It was a real test of discipline, planning and the 3 of us in our team were pleased with ourselves.
That business plan submission went very well. After intial discussions, Spring was prepared to invest a sizeable amount under the condition that they would have close to full equity/control and we change the business idea to suit their plans.. We declined again and didn’t proceed as we didn’t feel our work justified the scale of investment yet. Besides, we wanted to learn how to make a good talk show video.. And felt we weren’t there yet. Perhaps we were naïve, but we prioritized our learning over success and it is a decision I am very proud of..
However, when we did reach 50 – we decided that this wasn’t where we had envisioned it and decided we needed to do something bigger, something that would touch more people.. It was that ‘something’ that we called Sparkz..
And that is a story for another day.. 🙂
Learning: A lot of wonderful things happened thanks to ExpressionHappens. It was my taste at getting my feet wet with 2 very close friends.. It is something I would suggest to anyone who still has years in university left – to try something different, something that they are passionate about. Give it a more formal name, make a website, publicize a bit and have lots of fun.. What better time than our university days?
The next big chapter in ExpressionHappens’ evolution is Sparkz.. And as promised, that would be coming later..
And until then, here is my favorite talk show video –
Hope you enjoy it! 🙂