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Be the change!

October 11, 2019 Leave a comment

This is the excerpt of the speech from the ‘Specialty Speeches’ advanced manual that I presented at Grassroots TM Club on 5th October 2019.

I am honoured to be invited here today to speak to the graduating students of NTU, Singapore.

You have students here today from different countries, different cultures, races, religions and languages.  Today you have graduated in Science, Engineering, Economics,Literature, Law, Astronomy, Medicine, Business and a host of other subjects.  Tomorrow you will go out into the world and live on your own.

Today the world is being disrupted by technology.   The buzzwords of today are Artificial intelligence,  Bitcoin, 3D printing, IoT and Augmented reality.  It’s a totally different world where only companies that can continuously experiment and innovate can survive.

And what about you and me?

How do we  survive in this new economy that is characterized by Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity?

Remember these 3 Ps and 1 C

Be positive,  Be principled, Be proactive and Conquer yourself 

Positive:

As students, you have led a very comfortable life in Singapore.  Yet we find people who complain about the smallest of discomforts – the weather, travel, housing, maids etc.  So how do you keep yourself positive.  We just have to look at ourselves and be grateful for this life – this human body, this mind, this intellect that we have been endowed with.

Every day we breathe upto 30,000 times

Your heart pumps 2000 gallons of blood every single day

Your eyes are the most active muscle moving about 100,000 times a day

Maria Salomia Slodowska was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1867  when it was under Russian occupation.

The youngest child of five, Maria was raised in a poor family, her parents’ money and property having been taken away due to their work to restore Poland’s independence.

Both her father, Władysław, and her mother, Bronisława, were proud Polish educators and sought to educate their children in both school subjects and their oppressed Polish heritage.

Maria  slept on a couch in the dining room and would rise early to set the table for breakfast.

Maria lost her sister to typhus and her mother died from TB when she was just 10 years old

Here husband passed away in  1906.

On the Sunday after his funeral, Maria escaped to the laboratory, the one place she believed she would find solace. She wrote this in her diary :

“Sunday morning after your death, I went to the laboratory with Jacques….I want to talk to you in the silence of this laboratory, where I did not think I could live without you….I tried to make a measurement for a graph on which each of us had made some points, but…I felt the impossibility of going on…the laboratory had an infinite sadness and seemed a desert.”

Being a woman Maria was not treated equally like men, but she went on to win not one but 2 nobel prizes.  Friends, Maria was none other than Marie Curie who  won the nobel prize for physics in 1903 and for chemistry in 1911.

Principled:

As students, I believe what makes us who we are are our principles and core values.  The principles that our parents, our teachers and our friends have instilled in us.

When Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was in his first year at the high school. Mr. Giles, the Educational Inspector, had come on a visit of inspection. He had set  five words to write as a spelling exercise. One of the words was ‘kettle’. Gandhi had mis-spelt it. The teacher tried to prompt him with the point of his boot, but he would not be prompted.

Gandhi could not bring himself to copy from his neighbour.. The result was that all the boys, except Gandhi, were found to have spelt every word correctly.

Later, the teacher called Gandhi stupid.  But it did not have any effect on him.  Because Gandhis principles were etched in his heart and he always abided in his core beliefs.

Even if the whole world is against us – our true strength, our courage is in standing true to our principles.

Pro-active:
Today, more than anything we have to be pro-active and innovative.  This means developing a growth mindset.

Thomas Edison’s teachers said he was “too stupid to learn anything.” He was fired from his first two jobs for being “non-productive.” As an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. I found out 1000 different ways to make the light bulb.”

As young students it is important to fail and fail fast so that we keep learning.  Learning can only happen through failure.  Success is not a good teacher – it only makes us vain and pompous.  Every great invention and discovery was achieved through failures.

Conquer Yourself:

This was what my teacher wrote on my book on the day when I left school.

When we are faced with a problem – we immediately blame the world- our colleagues, our parents, the weather, our boss anyone we can find.  The only person who we think is right is me…..our Ego is so big that we cannot accept our own mistakes.

Gandhi said “ Be the change that you want to see in the world” .  So change starts with you.

Today we want to change the climate – but we are looking for others, the government, NGOs… what about you?  Can we reduce the use of plastic? Can we help to do some cleaning when we go to the beach?

Everywhere around us – there is a problem.  And as individuals we can do our best to mobilise people towards causes and make changes – small changes.

But it all begins with changing our outlook.. conquering our emotions and serving others with a smile.

So my dear friends – what are the 3 Ps. And 1C

When you go out into the real world tomorrow – what are you going to do?  What will your friends remember you for?

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I’d like to thank my cats!

March 10, 2015 Leave a comment

You are receiving an award –- either one that already exists, or a new one created just for you. What would the award be, why are you being honored, and what would you say in your acceptance speech?
Today, I am excited, thrilled and elated to receive this World Championship of Public speaking award here in Las Vegas in front of toastmasters and friends from all over the world!

It has been a long, roller-coaster ride for me. I began my journey with Bishan Toastmasters club and ever since I have been actively involved in meetings, contests and networking.

After winning the club contest, the area contest, the division contest and the district level contests, I cannot believe that I came, I saw and I conquered it here too at the World Championship.

I would like to express my profound gratitude to my mentor who has worked with me and guided me throughout my journey.

This award means a lot to me and it would not be possible without the love of my parents and family who have supported
me always.

But most of all, I would like to express my thanks to each and every member of my club who have stood by me, encouraged me and motivated me throghout my journey.
Other interesting posts in this category:
1) https://tulisanmaddy.wordpress.com/2015/03/10/award-from-my-students/
2) https://psibrone.wordpress.com/2015/03/09/and-the-award-goes-too/
3) https://allthingscuteandbeautiful.wordpress.com/2015/03/09/daily-prompt-being-thankful-5/
4) http://greenembe.rs/2015/03/09/yay-i-got-an-award-fiction/
5) https://yzhengblog.wordpress.com/2015/03/09/awards-for-academia/
6) https://alotfromlydia.wordpress.com/2015/03/09/the-worlds-greatest/
7) https://thelonerose.wordpress.com/2015/03/09/the-inspiration-award/
8) https://tjbarkerseattle.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/awards/
9) https://novelbynature.wordpress.com/2013/08/27/daily-prompt-id-like-to-thank-my-cats/
10)https://ventemeanstwenty.wordpress.com/2013/08/27/daily-prompt-id-like-to-thank-my-cats-2/

Categories: Books Tags: , , ,

White Lies

March 26, 2014 2 comments

(This is the script of my AP2 – Humorously speaking speech that I delivered at our Toastmasters Chapter meeting yesterday)

A bus filled with politicians was driving through the countryside one day, on the campaign trail. The bus driver, caught up in the beautiful scenery,loses control and crashes into the ditch. A farmer living nearby hears the horrible crash and rushes out to discover the wreckage. Finding the politicians, he buries them.

The next day, the police come to the farm to question the man. “So you buried all the politicians?” asked the police officer. “Were they all dead?”

The farmer answered, “Some said they weren’t, but you know how politicians lie.”

TME, distinguished guests and friends – How many of you have lied at some time or another in your life?

Now – For those of you who are not raising their hands – are you sure?

We grow up with the belief system etched in our mind that it is always wrong to lie and that you will be condemned if you do. We think that like Pinocchio whose nose grew longer whenever he told a lie so also something awful will happen to us if we tell lies.

  •  Visit a hospital and you’ll hear a lie: “The doctor will be
    with you in a minute.”
  • Visit a dentist and you’ll hear a lie: “This won’t hurt a
    bit.”

There are certain situations where it is ok to tell white lies:

–          1)  Sometimes we tweak the truth to not offend or hurt the feelings of someone who matters to you.

–          – Suppose your wife asks  you : Does this dress make me look fat?  At first you pretend you didn’t hear the question .. Then you say – “ No honey, you look as slim as you did yesterday!”

–            2)  If your 5 year old asks you if  tooth fairy or Santa exists – You do not destroy the little ones innocence or creative imagination

–            3) Offering pleasantries – or mild false truths.  Like if you are a guest at someones house and you are offered something.  It is ok to say.. that you loved it although you did not because you don’t want to be a jerk and offend them.

–            4) In a life and death situation –

The German philosopher Immanuel Kant asks what you should do if someone running by with a weapon asks you if you have seen someone pass by just few minutes ago and in which direction they were heading. Telling the truth might result in death or severe injury while lying may save a life.

5) Many a time we ask ‘How are you’ even though we don’t actually care

6) Even in this age of sms and internet – we lie.  When we text ‘I am on my way’ or ‘I didn’t get your message’

7) Then there is the ‘I’ve read the terms and conditions”.  Who reads all the 10 page terms and conditions on a contract or investment or legal document  before agreeing. A research by British firm Gamestation has shown that as many as 88% of people do not read the terms & conditions of a website before making a purchase.

 

A clergyman was walking down the street when he came upon a group of about a dozen boys, all of them between 10 and 12 years of age.
The group surrounded a dog.
Concerned lest the boys were hurting the dog,the clergyman went over and asked “What are you doing with that dog?”
One of the boys replied, “This dog is just an old neighborhood stray. We all want him, but only one of us can take him home. So we’ve decided that whichever one of us can tell the biggest lie will get to keep the dog.”
Of course, the clergyman was taken aback.
“You boys shouldn’t be having a contest telling lies!” he exclaimed.
He then launched into a ten minute sermon against lying,
beginning, “Don’t you boys know it’s a sin to lie,” and ending with, “Why, when I was your age, I never told a lie.”
There was dead silence for about a minute.
Just as the clergyman was beginning to think he’d convinced them , the smallest boy gave a deep sigh and said,
“Oh..All right,he won…give him the dog.”

 

In life, we may not be able to stick to absolute moral rules such as ‘never tell lies’ but we can follow an ethical approach of reasoning before we tell white lies to save someones life or not to offend our dear ones.

So … what did you think about my speech? . Don’t worry , its okay to lie

(References – the 2 jokes at the start and end of the speech  are googled from the internet)

 

Categories: General Tags: , ,

Fasten your seat belt

October 13, 2012 Leave a comment

 

 

(This is the text of the speech I delivered at the Humorous Speech & evaluation contest of Bishan Toastmasters Club)

Fasten your seat belt because I am going to take you on a ride – a taxi ride.

Contest Chair, Judges, Fellow toastmasters and friends

After having lived in Singapore for more than 20 years, the person who strikes me as being the most worldly-wise and knowledgeable is our humble taxi driver.
Who else gets to meet people from all walks of life – the student, the housewife, the doctor, the engineer, the businessman or the lawyer?

Having said that, getting a cab in Singapore can be a nightmare on some days and really easy on other days.

Murphy has his own laws for taxis:

If you need a cab – you won’t get one &
If you do not need a cab – there is a queue of taxis waiting for you.  You feel  like a celebrity and they are all waiting to take your photographs.

If you are waiting to hire a cab and you see the signs BUSY, CHANGE SHIFT, HIRED, ON CALL etc then you better look for an alternative because that means you would have to wait for another hour

The first thing a taxi driver asks you when you enter the cab is “Which way do you want to go?  CTE or PIE or SLE or AYE?  It is a polite way of saying – I’m new to this job so could you please guide me?

Now, hoping that you managed to get a cab, you can come face-to-face with a host of drivers

The talkative driver
He is dying to start a conversation with you.  He fires a volley of questions at you.  PR of Singaporean, how many years have you been here?  Is this your own house?  Only 1 daughter – you should go for another one?  Suddenly you forget why you are sitting in the cab and by the time you recover your senses, you have overshot your destination.

The angry driver
He sizes you up in the rear-view mirror.
Uncle – North Bridge road please you say
Taxi driver – “Ah”
“I said North bridge road”
Taxi driver “You think I cannot hear ah – I have been driving this taxi for 20 years ok.”
After that you just want to be safe rather than sorry.

The mobile phone addict
This driver needs only hand to drive his cab.
“Hello Ah-boon  – I’m droping someone to Woodlands.  Can we meet today.. near the Woodlands Mart – that Kopitiam.. at 5:30 pm sharp. Me – I’m fine, happy-go-lucky”
“Sir – which block did you say”

Then there was this driver who took me all the way to his home in Sengkang.  He said that he knew the way to any place in Singapore only from his home.  He reminded me of a PC or phone that had hung and needed to be reset.

The F1 driver
Ever since the F1 race began in Singapore a lot of drivers like to emulate their stars like Sebastian Vettel or Jensen Button.  The taxi driver is no exception.  As soon as you get into the cab, you better fasten your seat belt.  The speed indicator alarm goes ‘peep peep peep’.  He cuts across lanes like he owns the road, he does not signal and when he reaches the destination – he raises his hands in joy just like he won the F1 race

The sleepy cabbie
Once I got into this cab.  The guy either went into a night club or karaoke the previous night.  He was dozing away and I was trying to keep him awake.  Ya – take the next right, then keep straight until you reach the car park.  He would wake up and say ‘Ah Ah ok’.  I was sitting on the edge of my seat throughout the journey and when I reached I said “Uncle, keep the change” and just rushed home.

The PhD cabbie
Singapore has a PhD taxi driver.  Cai Mingjie has a PhD from Stamford University and also writes a blog

Some taxi drivers are very organized.. they keep their taxis spick and span, coins neatly arranged, display some souvenirs and they treat their taxis like a little home

Whatever quirks they may have, the taxi driver is the pulse of our nation.  They are the people on the ground who are aware of almost everything under the sun – be it economy, politics, stocks, property, sports , his family, your family and so on.

So, the next take time you take a cab give the driver a big smile because he goes all out to make your journey comfortable and he could make your day!!

 

Categories: General Tags: , , ,

iPhone mania

August 26, 2011 18 comments

(This is the text of the speech I delivered at the Humorous Speech & evaluation contest of Bishan Toastmasters Club)

Can I have a show of hands – How many of you are married?
Well, the rest of you – what about you? – don’t worry – i wont tell anyone else.
Alright, alright… I will tell you  — ALL OF YOU ARE MARRIED – married to technology

Contest Chair, Judges, Fellow Toastmasters and friends –

Our generation is a wired generation exposed to so many gadgets like laptops, netbooks, ipads, smartphones and social media that we are all wedded to technology.

This morning as I was coming by the train .. I saw everyone was looking at their gadgets, toying with them, fondling them and staring at them with such fascination that it would put your friend to shame.

Then I went into a dream world.  I imagined that in a few years from now – Steve Jobs, Marc Zuckerberg and Larry Page would have an additional responsibility – as marriage counsellors.
And I imagined how my marriage would be solemnised by Steve Jobs.

Do you take this iPhone to be your wedded wife?
Yes I do

Will you feed her with juice everyday?
Juice
Yes – 230V of power supply
Yes I will

Will you take care of her today, tomorrow and forever?
Yes, I always take good care of her

Will you keep her close to your heart?
Yes, I always keep her in my shirt pocket.

What if some  sweet, sexy and charming model calling herself iPhone5   were to cross your path one day?  Do you promise that you will not ogle at her, not even touch her
Yes, I promise(wink)

Ok. Now I pronounce you man and wife.  

After the wedding, it was our first night.  I was head over heels in love with her – all excited.  She was decked in the most beautiful outfit and she had a feather touch.  At first, I was shy.  But then, I relaxed, touched her, caressed her.  I don’t want to get into the details….  and then we went to sleep.

Early morning I was awakened by her sweet ring – Tring   Tring…

And then the days of our honeymoon began.

You have heard of men who pamper their women with handbags, shoes, nailpolish, mascara, perfumes etc etc.  Well I started pampering my partner with accessories too – An armband, a different case for each day of the week, spare batteries, screen protectors, a stereo Bluetooth adapter, wireless speakerphone, and even a dock powered by tube amps

She introduced me to all her relatives  right from the smallest ipod nano, ipod shuffle, ipod classic, ipod touch, Macbooks and the iPad.  They were all so charming that I considered myself lucky to be a proud member of the Apple family.

Every day she would wear new apps  – one day facebook on her menu would beckon me to dare to caress its button ,  the next day  twitter winks at me and entices me with her latest tweets, the next day foursquare .   When I was hungry – she would show me the nearest restaurants

When I was lost .. her GPS would show me the shortest route.  And when I was in a playful mood she would present  fruit ninja, cut the rope.angry birds.  If I was bored she had music, she could take pictures on her camera…. When it was dark and scary, she would light up my path.  When I was  at a loss for words, her dictionary would help me out.  She had an answer to all my questions.  What more can you ask from your wife?

Then one fine day, I realised, I was being overwhelmed by her.   – she was a wolf in sheeps clothing.  She had taken control over my life.  She had made me a vegetable.  I remember – that I would occasionally go for a jog, skating or cycling.  But now I could not leave her for even a second.

I had forgotten the real world outside – things that I loved – nature, the sea, sun , the stars and my family.  I said…. enough is enough.   Please do not cling to me anymore.  I cant be with you 24 hours of the day.

My dear friends if you do not want this  marriage to technology to ruin your life then you have to learn to balance your virtual life and your real life.

By the way the iphone5 is really nice – you know?

Thank you!

Lincoln’s Gettysburg address

December 9, 2010 Leave a comment

On November 19, 1863, President Lincoln went to the battlefield to dedicate it as a National Cemetery. Over time, however, this speech with its ending – government of the People, by the People, for the People – has come to symbolize the definition of democracy itself.  The Gettysburg Address stands as a masterpiece of persuasive rhetoric.  It is one of my favourite speeches:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate – we cannot consecrate – we cannot hallow – this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

President Abraham Lincoln – November 19, 1863

 

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