Last weekend I was at PWTC for the Youth 08 event and the 1st National Entrepreneurs Convention where I was invited as a speaker representing one of the said Top 15 or so entrepreneurs in Malaysia under the age of 30.
Now don't be fooled.
My modest achievements there were dwarfed by the achievements the people I was put on stage had armed around their belts.
Take for example Kenny Goh (2nd row left) of Macro Kiosk Berhad, a CEO of a listed company at age 29 Or Ganesh Kumar of MOL Access (Seated in the middle) who also at 29 heads a huge listed company he founded along with Tan Sri Vincent Tan.
So if anything, I was learning from the speakers in the convention, rather than teaching as a speaker.
Soon enough it was my turn to go up and speak in front of the crowd of 500 people who paid good money to listen to me.Now I have given many speeches before... but this is the first time I had to speak in front of so many people. Naturally you can imagine how worried I was for one reason.
When I speak, I'm not exactly the kind of guy who can memorize a speech or read off powerpoints.
I'm the kind of guy who would prepare some pointers on a piece of paper even though I eventually never use it for anything more than a security blanket.
See that piece of paper in my left hand folded up?
At every speech I give, I always hold it... but never once open it up to look.
The night before, I thought of perhaps sharing some photos on the journey of Nuffnang since I was supposed to talk about Nuffnang.
I had photos of the initial team Nuffnang started off with, with the first clients we met and things like that but as luck would have it... for some reason, the computer at the convention couldn't seem to open my Powerpoint file. So.... HO HO HO.
I was thrown on stage suddenly having to speak out of the blue.
Fortunately, when I was on stage I looked down at the crowd of people in front of me and saw the many people there quietly waiting for me to say something... as if they were going to write down every word I was going to say.
"F*** IT!!! Here goes..."
And started talking away.At the end of my speech... I was pretty sure I did a bad job.
But as I ran out of time and the moderator took the mic from me, the 500 people I just spoke to started clapping away which was enough to put a smile on my face.
After the speech, all the speakers including myself were given a 'token of appreciation'.
Now in most cases, a token of appreciation would be an engraved plate or something... but the creative people at Youth Malaysia decided to make large blow-up pictures of us.
We each had one.
After we were done taking photos with huge photos of ourselves, it was time for us to go for lunch.
Before we all had a chance to... a swarm of people walked up to us and waited politely for a chance to ask us some questions. Many of which told me that they loved my speech... as much as I thought that it was a really really bad one.
I was asked all sorts of questions about entrepreneurship and I answered as honestly as I could.
Truth is... looking back... it's a little surreal. I mean... Nuffnang is only 10 and a half months old and it was only one year ago that I officially started become and entrepreneur.
Sure our growth has been unbelievable and the things we managed to achieve in such a short time... so great that I'm not sure if I could ever duplicate this success if I had to do it all over again.
Like I said at my speech... Nuffnang is what it is today because of a lot of luck... and a lot of blessings and support from the right people that believed in us from the start.But here were new or soon-to-be entrepreneurs in my very same generation that was coming up to me for advice.
I was a little flattered... and also a little cautious of the high expectations that were put on me.To the soon-to-be entrepreneurs who came up to me for advice: Keep in mind that eventhough I might be a little ahead right now... I am still very much on the learning curve like all of you.
One day... some of you might truly achieve big success.. and I will be the one paying good money to watch you speak.
As for now... good luck on your many endeavors and remember my motto in live.
"Don't be cocky... there is a lot the generation before us have to teach us".