The week of 11 August contained an epic couple of work days, and one of the main tasks that I took up was that of liaison officer for an Irishman who was the keynote speaker at our event.* The chap, young at under 30 years of age, leads a consulting firm in Ireland. I was with him for two of the three-plus days he was in Singapore, and I learned a few things. A couple of memorable lessons came from something he said at the end of the first day’s event. To put it in a bit of context, this was after his arrival on a 19-hour, 11,000km flight in the evening, and then, after a night of jet-lag-trouble non-sleep, making his keynote speech and then running a breakout session and then doing a coherent phone interview with TODAY. This was what he said: “I didn’t want to tell you this before, but today was the first time I spoke in front of more than 25 or so people.”
This was after he made his keynote speech in front of a 600-strong audience.
Lesson One: Okay, so he was brave, but to my mind the speaking in front of a crowd nearly 50 times the size of the largest he’d faced was not the thing most worth learning from. No, the lesson here is purpose: Our Irish friend set this challenge for himself partly because his aim, he told me, was to be a motivational speaker. He also asked for a video of the event so that he could see himself in action, and spot things he could improve on. Ambition in itself is nothing; one needs the drive to pursue it, to put the time aside to plan how to achieve it. The Irishman has that drive; I don’t think I have that at all.**
Lesson Two: Next time, I need to do a more thorough job of vetting my speakers. I mean, I’m happy to have helped further his ambition, but what if our dear Irish friend had not been up to it? :P
*The task of liaison officer basically involves minding your principal i.e. getting him to be where he’s supposed to be when he’s supposed to be and making sure he knows what he’s supposed to do, and taking care of your principal i.e. being his concierge, more or less.
**That was brought home to me last Friday, when we had someone from Gallup speak to us about our strengths. Before this talk, we had all had our strengths assessed and been told our top five strengths. According to Gallup, the 34 mutually exclusive, collectively exhaustive strengths identified through its research can be grouped into four categories:
- relating (covering communication, empathy, harmony, inclusiveness, individualisation, relator and responsibility),
- thinking (covering analytical, arranger, connectedness, context, deliberative, fairness, futuristic, ideation, input, intellection, learner and strategic),
- impacting (covering command, competition, developer, positivity, maximiser and woo) and
- striving (covering achiever, activator, adaptability, belief, discipline, focus, restorative, self-assurance and significance).
My top five strengths – learner, responsibility, maximiser, empathy and relator – are in the first three categories only (in fact, three of them are in the relating category). Apparently – and this fits in pretty well with what I’ve come to realise is me – I’m not a striver. You need more drive, Bear, more drive…