Jessica Cheam

There is No Replacement for Quality | Jessica Cheam, Eco-Business

Oover the last 10 years, Jessica Cheam has been focused on building Asia's first sustainability news desk, Eco-Business, and through this episode of Entrepreneurs For Good, I dive into the hill that she had to climb to build Asia's first (and only) sustainability focused newsroom.

How she has learned to tell the story of sustainability across traditional and social mediums, and how she is having to adjust her business model to adapt to a very challenging business environment.



I think it is important to hang onto "why" we are doing this. If we are going to live to 120, then you can either do something with your life or waste it away.


About the Entrepreneurs For Good Series

Through this series, we speak with Asia based entrepreneurs whose mission it is to bring solutions to the environmental, social, and economic challenges that are faced within the region to learn more about their vision, the opportunities they see, and challenges that they have had to overcome.

It is a series that we hope will not only engage and inspire you, but catalyze you and your organizations into action. To identify a challenge that is tangible, and build a business model (profit or non) that brings a solution to the market.


About Jessica

Jessica Cheam is the managing editor of Eco-Business. She is an award-winning journalist, TV presenter and social entrepreneur, with a particular expertise in sustainable development. She was formerly the political and environment correspondent for The Straits Times and is an adjunct research associate at the Centre for Liveable Cities. She is the author of Forging a Greener Tomorrow: Singapore's Journey from Slum to Eco-City, and is also the presenter of a Channel NewsAsia documentary on climate change.

Follow
Website: http://eco-business.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jesscheam
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jcheam
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jessicacheam/


About Rich

Driven by the belief that change begins with a single step, Richard Brubaker has spent the last 15 years in Asia working to engage, inspire, and equip those around him to take their first step. Acting as a catalyst to driving sustainability, Brubaker works with government, corporate, academic and non-profit stakeholders to bring together knowledge, teams, and tools that develop and execute their business case for sustainability.

Follow Rich
Website: http://www.richbrubaker.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rich.brubaker
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/richbrubaker
Snapchat: http://snapchat.com/add/richbrubaker
Instagram: https://instagram.com/richbrubaker
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/richbrubaker

Contact Rich
social@richbrubaker.com


Full Interview Transcript

ECO-BUSINESS

RICH: Welcome back everybody. I'm here with Jessica Cheam from Eco-Business. Here to talk about her 8 year journey of starting off from a home business to now a platform of 15 people telling the stories of sustainability in Asia. It's a really informative, tactical interview about how she's done this. Thank you very much Jessica for your time.

JESSICA: Thank very much you Richard.

INTRODUCTION

RICH: Introduce yourself briefly and Eco-Business.

JESSICA: Ok. My name is Jessica Cheam. I'm Editor of Eco-Business. Eco-Business is the only media publication in Asia Pacific dedicated to reporting on sustainable development. We started in 2009. It's now almost 10 years and we are still going. So yeah, it's good. I'm glad!

RICH: A little bit about your background. How did you get into this? Why did you decide to start this platform?

JESSICA: I have been a journalist all my life and still am. I started at the straight Times, which is Singapore's national newspaper. I was being frustrated with the fact that mainstream media wasn't really reporting on climate change or sustainability development. So I kind of started it like as an experiment. Journalist were writing for free, but after a while everybody got busy and I wasn't quite sure that it would work, but then my business partner and I then decided that we're going to try and turn it into a viable business model. One that has both social and environmental impact and when I finished up with ST in 2013, I came on full time and we've just been doing this every since.

GETTING STARTED

RICH: Now, I have found that getting people to read about sustainability is very tough proposition. What was it like early days? Like how did you get started? What were the earliest stories you were trying to tell?

JESSICA: Actually we started we tried to focus on trying to tell the stories of the people who were trying to respond to the crisis. I mean climate change has become so much more acute since we started. Somebody needs to tell that story. Somebody needs to tell the signs. So there were those kinds of story that we told. Then there were the positive stories. Like what were corporate doing. What were individuals doing in their communities. We focused on telling those stories. Because really everyone wants to go in that direction. They are not quite sure how, not sure how fast. It was important to have the conversation.

EARLY DAYS

RICH: It's you and your business partner. You got to do a lot of content development, your editing your technology, everything. What were the early days like?

JESSICA: It was just a very small team and demonstrated an editor. Trying to do as much as possible.

ADJUSTING TO SOCIAL MEDIA

RICH: You started before social media was really full force, so you still have the opportunity to write long form blogs. Did you start with long form and how have you over time had to adjust that to the social media reality of 200 words a quick picture, a meme? Like what did you start with and how did you learn through that process?

JESSICA: You know that is a really interesting question. I have to say that it's actually both. So when we started very much in the vain of traditional journalism we had the long form story. But we found out that people's attention were not really that...you don't really pay attention on social media. They scan and use article whatever, so we then to try write for that generation which was like 600-800 words Shorter pieces, good visuals. I will tell you something. There is no substitute for good journalism. We've now gone back to writing the big long special reports.

RICH: Do you actively sit there in front of a white board and say we have this category, this category, and this category and they like this and this. Do you try and plan all of it or are there a few things ad we do this and leave the other people behind?

JESSICA: Actually we have a few different types of content and we know what type of content works on which platforms. So I'll give you an example. On a daily basis our newsroom decides ok, which events we're going to over, which feature stories we will write and we dedicate ourselves to one special report. We know the special report are the long form format. We spend months producing that. The daily stuff we know that is going to be something that is read quite quickly, we try to keep it to 600-800 words.

Then when we post to social media, twitter, Facebook, Instagram and then we coach it to those platforms as a question or debate. So we have to write to the platform. We have to write to the target audience and I find that really helps.

LEARNING THE TOOLS

RICH: What are the best ways in how to write to the platform?

JESSICA: It really is trial and error as to how we determine what tone or voice to take with each platform. At the end of the day, you want to think up stories that are for the truth we are for accuracy, we are for transparency. We want to shed light on important issues. So that seriousness comes through, but we try to do it an engaging manner. So clever headline, questions, or something a little bit more interesting and we are still trying. Sometimes I read a post that my team has written and it's like oh my God, that's so boring who is going to ready that!? Then it's like try and try again and how do we get people engaged in the content.

MEASURING ENGAGEMENT

RICH: How do you measure engagement? How do you measure success of your trial and error or the long term how you have been doing?

JESSICA: It's down to numbers. Our website has been growing and readership. We just had a 10% increase of readers. More than one million page views. More than 150,0000 unique visitors a month. Our Facebook group keeps growing. Our Twitter followers keep growing. Now our stories get shared more and people are commenting more so we can see the engagement there. Then we use LinkedIn as well. So there are different ways that we engage people both offline and online and I think both are important that you have the community talk.

PAYING THE BILLS

RICH: Funding model. Journalism right now is going through a "come to Jesus" on how they make money. How do you guys make money as a new upstart?

JESSICA: We aren't that new anymore.

RICH: I mean in the media industry you are. You are only 8 years old. You have what, 15 full time? How do you make sure that they can eat when nobody else can seem to make a newspaper sustainable anymore.

JESSICA: I keep having to go to our partners and go look. You know what you are doing is you're funding journalism. Your funding media publication that is writing about stuff that nobody else is writing about. It's really important to have this conversation. Fortunately for us in the recent years, people understand that. Our revenue comes from marketing, advertising, events, video production.

RICH: Marketing/advertising means consulting to companies on marketing?

JESSICA: No, no. People advertise on our platform. The ads. The ads bring in the revenue. People advertise on our email newsletters. People advertise with us because they want their event to be well attended. They want their story to be told. Anything about the economy, the Street Times, and the NY Times. A lot of the advertising is from advertisers. But we are now branching to do a different one. We want to be citizen lead. That is why we launch EB Circle.

We hope that if it reaches a critical mass w e will get more funding from people who want to read us instead of relying on commercial funding. I think in the --- now generate millions of pounds from that model and it's more than half the operating revenue now comes from that. The main stream media scale is much larger, but you know we hope to get there.

VALUE PROPOSITION

RICH: So what is your sales pitch? Like we have a million page views a month, they are all good people. Like who is buying that? Which brand is like oh that's the most important eco system for me to access and I'm going to pay you like I would pay the economist,

JESSICA: We provide a lot of value to partners who know that we produce quality content, one. We reach decision makers, two. and we are also the centers of the conversations. We are the people who are leading the conversation. We provide a lot of services, but it is from editorial to communication needs to actually kind of being their partner, their friend in like just saying ok this is your story this is where you want to go. How do you do that? We generate our revue through that.

We actually do a lot of partnerships, not just revue generating. We partner with people like WWF on plastic pollution. We co-organize roundtables to advance the policy dialogue so we can see change. Change and impact is actually much, much more important for us than anything else.

MAKING ADJUSTMENTS

RICH: What are the ways that you use data and analytics to look at your platform? To figure out what's working, what's not. Then when you realize when something is not working, what are some for the basic adjustments that you will make to see if that will fix it to make the improvement?

JESSICA: We use Google Analytics for our platform and we have a really clear picture about whose reading us and their engagement. For our website, we have pretty engaged readers. Our average time is about 2 mins plus to 3 mins of engagement before they bounce off.

RICH: What's your bounce rate?

JESSICA: I can't remember right now. Ok, I'm going to give you my media kit! But, we use the analytics to see and actually we do this annual exercise, which should be monthly, where we have the top stories. We see which ones go viral, which ones don't. The list always goes over well. For example, the slightly heavier stuff like about finance tends to not do as well because they are a bit harder to digest.

Yea, we use the analytics to kind of adjust what we are going to cover. We try as much as possible to produce something that is readable. There is no substitute for producing readable stories.

LEARNING FROM OTHERS

RICH: There are a lot of interesting people doing a lot interesting things in new media. Do you look at how they tell stories, how they engage readers and do you bring that to yours? How are you learning through this process?

JESSICA: How we guide our coverage is that we look at things that have magnitude. So things that have big impact. Things that are global, but then also things that are very local. What are you doing in my community that is making a huge difference. We try to do cover stories. We always take the very journalistic approach so I wouldn't say that we have any one publication that we try to emulate. We try to have our own voice. But as much as possible we are also looking into how to make things more conversational and by posting on social media different things, we kind of figure it out.

BECOMING AN ENTREPRENEUR

RICH: I'm really curious how you went from a journalist to an entrepreneur now who has 15 staff. What has it been like going from a paid position where you are...

JESSICA: I think the hardest part is actually having to sell something. I use to just news gather and write. Now it's like I'm selling a value proposition. It's like do business with us and we can help you achieve x, y, z. That has been a really steep learning curve. But actually I would say it's not really even a sell so call, but kind of like a belief that the journalism that we are doing is important. Then going out to the market and be like hey, let's do something together and make something meaningful. That learning curve has been really steep for me. But what I would say that I really still love the journalist part a lot more.

Just came back from Antarctica it was just two weeks of glorious me time interviewing people filming documentaries, doing photography. It's so important to keep that creative side. I mean people come and read our content because we have good quality content. That is from the foundation of journalism that we come here. That enables us to then have a sustainable business in all senses of the word. I think journalism is very, very important.

GROWING PAINS

RICH: But then the organization level. What are some of the growing pains that you went through to go from you and your partner in a small nook of the house, to 15 people in a kosher space here?

JESSICA: I think a leap of faith was when we took our first office and actually believing that we're both going to make something out of this. Leaving a fulltime job was also quite scary. You just have to have that faith. Trust me there have been many times we said we should just shut the business and we'd make more money if we go and join a big corporation. But then there was no one doing this and if we shut it down, it'd be like who else is going to do that?

You know, fortunately we've now got to critical mass where we have enough readers and enough reoccurring revenue that we can fund a newsroom. So that is really, really good. But our aim is really in 5 years time is to become even bigger. Maybe even global and not just cover Asia. But to have an office in every Asian country just to cover the issues that matches that specific market. That is where we want to be.

FOUNDATIONS FOR SUCCESS

RICH: That's an expensive proposition. If you think about that, let's say if told you in 10 years from now you would have 8 offices across major Asian markets or at least Shanghai, Bangkok, Dakar, Delhi, Dacca. What do you doing today to put your brand there for 10 years from now? What do you have to do?

JESSICA: Actually this is a really interesting questions. Actually its the talk of the market. So I have stringers in most of the Asian cities and they are the ones covering the stories that matter. What is actually a little bit of a challenge is then finding business to cover the cost. Obviously journalism cost money, writers cost money. So how do we find partners for funding to actually go in a market and say hey I want to cover those stories. Actually you find that actually once you get your stories there, you 're covering a market then people have interest. So it's an chicken to the egg issue. We have to grow organically. We have to grow in that way, but really there is no substitute for it.

RICH: 25yo Jessica is watching this. She's wondering how I can change the world and use my voice. What are 3 pieces of advice you would give her?

JESSICA: Like don't start a business? No, I'm kidding! I mean sometimes I say that. No, well actually really it's to really persevere really. I think that's the one thing there will be times where you be very, very discourages, but try and keep the faith and see where you want to go. Think about things in 10- 20 year horizon instead of a 3 year horizon.

The other advice is like find good people. You're only as good as your team. You really need to surround yourself with people who inspire you, people who are better than you. People who can see your vision and can help you get there. I think that's really important.

STAYING INSPIRED

RICH: How do you wake up every day to feel inspired?

JESSICA: I think it's really important to kind of hang on to why you are doing this. Is that yes, we are going to live like you said to like 120. Do you want to do something with your life or do you want to kind of waste it away? We are a blip on this planet and in this universe. Really, what do you want to do with that time with this very short span of time?


For more interviews from the "Entrepreneurs for Good" series, check out the playlist here.

Stay tuned for more clips and full interviews in the coming weeks.


Pat Dwyer

Jumping from Corporate into Social Entrepreneurship - Pat Dwyer | Entrepreneurs For Good

A few years back, I met Pat Dwyer, founder of The Purpose Business, at a friend's conference in Singapore. We were on the same panel, and we had a BLAST sharing our experiences and insights to the crowd, and given neither of us were invited back to speak again it is safe to say that we left a lasting impression on the crowd.

This interview is no different. It is a pretty raw discussion about entrepreneurship, starting with Pat's decision to leave her role as Sustainability Director at one of the leading hospitality groups and covering a range of topics that flowed.

It is a high energy discussion, and one that I am comfortable will leave a lasting impression on those viewers who are aspire to enter this space or are already in it and looking to be inspired to get through their day by seeing how Pat is developing an organization that brings a lasting impact to the challenges that she sees faced in the Asia region.

 


This interview is about finding purpose, scaling impact, and believing in the tools and capacity of entrepreneurs to change the world


About the Entrepreneurs For Good Series

Through this series, we speak with Asia based entrepreneurs whose mission it is to bring solutions to the environmental, social, and economic challenges that are faced within the region to learn more about their vision, the opportunities they see, and challenges that they have had to overcome.

It is a series that we hope will not only engage and inspire you, but catalyze you and your organizations into action. To identify a challenge that is tangible, and build a business model (profit or non) that brings a solution to the market.


About Pat Dwyer

Pat Dwyer has fifteen years sustainability leadership experience, most recently as Global head of CSR & Sustainability for Shangri­La Hotels & Resorts.

She holds a BA in European Studies from Ateneo de Manila University and an MA in Globalisation and Governance from the University of Birmingham. She just completed a Certificate for Transformational Leadership, at the University of Oxford SaÏd Business School under the World Economic Forum Young Global Leaders Programme.

Pat brought Shangri­La to the forefront of responsible tourism operations, making it the only Asian hotel group to be recognized in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. She developed programmes across 89 hotels in 22 countries covering a broad spectrum including carbon management, diversity, environment stewardship and employee engagement. She equipped over 40,000 colleagues to understand sustainability issues through a training module and worked with local organisations to benefit more than 30,000 children globally. Previously, Pat was the first CSR head of Ayala Land, Inc. in the Philippines.

Follow Pat and The Purpose Business:
Website: http://thepurposebusiness.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TPurposeB/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/patdwyertpb/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/tpurposeb


About Rich

Driven by the belief that change begins with a single step, Richard Brubaker has spent the last 15 years in Asia working to engage, inspire, and equip those around him to take their first step. Acting as a catalyst to driving sustainability, Brubaker works with government, corporate, academic and non-profit stakeholders to bring together knowledge, teams, and tools that develop and execute their business case for sustainability.

Follow Rich
Website: http://www.richbrubaker.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rich.brubaker
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/richbrubaker
Snapchat: http://snapchat.com/add/richbrubaker
Instagram: https://instagram.com/richbrubaker
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/richbrubaker

Contact Rich
social@richbrubaker.com


Full Interview Transcript

RICH: I'm here today with Pat Dwyer who is with the Purpose Business. She's come out of corporate 2.5 years ago. Jumped into her own thing. Didn't have plan, but definitely has attacked the world. This is a fantastic interview. You will...you don't have to, you will like, share and comment. So thank you very much Pat. This has been fantastic. We hope you, we know you will, so stay tuned.

BACKGROUND

RICH: So do tell us about yourself. What you do and why you love doing it in the city.

PAT : So the last time I saw you was when I did that job that was 7.5 years with Shangri-La. Then started my own business. Why did I do it? Why didn't I do it sooner I guess, is a bigger thing. The premise is really if I could do it with one with a massive team of people, imagine doing it for so many more. Basically said right. We need more Asian stories in sustainability and that's what we are as a team that works in Asia-Pacific. We are lucky enough o have landed some iconic brands, mostly in Hong Kong and the Philippines.

Would I change anything of what we did? I am not an entrepreneur, so I guess the biggest thing or like if there are students listening, go get your entrepreneurial degree. I never had myself as a business owner. I'm used to working in big organizations, whatever they may be, nonprofits and all that.

RICH: So how did that feel. You used to I need to do computer.

PAT : Yeah, it's nuts. There's no chart for this. There is no kind of manual for it. For constant learning, but I think the number one thing I've learned is to surround yourself with people who are experts, who are much better than you. There is a professional heads I'm selling anyway.

TAKING THE LEAP

RICH: Why did you choose 2.5 years ago to make the jump? What was your catalyst to leave? What was probably a really cushy job, why would you jump out of that and into something you knew nothing about in a sense a product you have to develop, fine-tune it....what made you....

PAT : Go through the trouble of.....I guess I called my company the reason why I did it, which is purpose. It sounds trite, but we're lucky to have landed that website then. But, you feel like you've done all that you could changing the mother ship isn't always easy and I've been blessed with an amazing support top down, sideways, and all that, but it was time to kind of do more of this with a bigger set of team and beneficiaries and you know the real change you wanted to see. You can say you've probably done all that you could at the time you could and it was the perfect time to leave. If I didn't leave then, I think I would have spiraled in a different way, and that's, you know, that's not good for you. And you know what they say about failing fast and failing cheap, I think that was the part....

RICH: Failing cheap in Hong Kong?

PAT : Well, there are ways! Next up. No, but there are ways to kind of do that in the most minimal ways possible. I was not going to wait any longer to kind of go and try that. So trying that at that time was perfect.

RICH: Did you start with partners? Did you start by yourself? Did you have your first client in hand? Or was it really like...I've gone as far as I can with this organization. I've gone as far as I can with sustainability. I know I have to go and chart a new path. Like how much had you done in advance and looking back, was it enough?

PAT : I think the market is ready. Was ready then. Any earlier I would have been starving. So, if I did it now, there's too many, too many consultant in this space and too many good ones like expertise and all that. Did I start with partners? Lets say, not being an entrepreneur, you surround yourself with people who are better than you in certain aspects. I knew what I could do, but I knew who I needed to go to for help. So there were people who helped me think through what that was going to look like. I used my notice period to kind of set all that up. Most people would say, why don't you moonlight and keep your day job and stay sane and pay the bills and then shift it once you've already got a market for it. I didn't have that luxury and I guess what I've done it differently, sure. But nothing has failed fast and cheap since then. So, we've learned our lessons in a fairly cost-efficient way I would say.

RICH: And just immediate, when you made the jump, what did you think it would be and how different was it?

PAT : I have no idea. . I think I had no expectations of what it would look like. The only expectations were are you going to open a hot desk or you going to be co-working? All the physical expectations were there so I guess in a good way, that was easy to handle. Anything you did was more than what was expected. There are certain things that you don't expect, like the way clients behave, good and bad. The way decisions are being made, how fast, how slow.

I guess, I've never lived the life of a consultant, so I didn't know what it was like to be a consultant. But I do know what it's like to be in-house and a lot of us in our team knew how it is to be in-house. You know exactly the excuses or the bureaucracy that you need to navigate. The length of decision making. I would like to think that makes it a little bit more accepting on their side to work with people like us.

DEVELOPING FOCUS

RICH: People like us. Are we all crazy?

PAT : Yeah, kind of. I don't know why we do what we do.

RICH: Part of the challenge, and I've found this out with my own agency, you could be like be asked to do everything. What has your focus been and how have you developed that over time?

PAT : So, the tactic in year one was suck it up for what the market is ready for. It may not be what you want to do. It could be reporting. It could be anything that is basic, but that's what the market is about. But, over time, kind of build out, there's a center line of the product. There is an MVP, youre most valuable product that you want to go for and if there are no buyers, make the buyers. Because they don't know what they are looking for and this is the beauty of sustainability. I think because it could go into meaningful products or services. It could go strategy, government.

Yes, we have said no to certain clients who have asked for..Oh, can you do this? Can you do this? They tend to kind of, if they like you, they want a one-stop shop. We're very, I guess we've set ourselves up to be a very humble brand and we know what we could be good at. But the way we set up the purpose business is a network of experts as well. So if we don't have it in-house, there actually a second layer. I know everyone says partnerships and all that, but they are within the team. So there is expertise that we know we can pass on and you front that best kind of team to the client.

We are now working on frame works that are branded, or IP hopefully under our name and all that and that could not have happened if we tried to do that in the beginning. So you can prototype and you can test, which is what we did the first two years. Very exciting times in the next year. I would think something that is on brand it's gonna come out.

BUILDING A BUSINESS

RICH: As an entrepreneur you can have big aspirations. You want to build a team in six offices in six countries, da da da. Some are like no no. I want a lifestyle business. I want to be able to work out. I want to be able to have the family, like how are you and the business and how does it effect how you make decisions on how to build, hire, cash flow? All these things can add pressure. How do you building your business? What is your mindset? What are you really focused on doing?

PAT : There is a vision that we all share. So, working towards the vision, but I think one thing that has made us really different is the setup with the people. So every single one of us has a life and sustainability. Once a marine biologist. One is an ethics professor. One does mushroom farming on rooftops. Another on is a carbon manager. So we don't want to take that away from them because that's what makes them relevant. The last thing you want to be is, I used to do that and therefore hire me and because I know what I'm doing. I know what I'm advising you of. That is what everyone does. We are active in that space, hands dirty. But we can tell you if you are going in that direction, we are actually in there. You know like we are pushing regulation or we are figuring out what the price of the next resource is and we'll figure it out with you.

In that sense, there's a bit more balance. The way we hire people, if you wanted a secure full-time job, 9 hours, 10 hours in an office, you're not going to work with us. In fact, we've had prospects who've said to us, you are too disruptive. We're not ready for that yet. I take that as a good thing. Because then you filter out who it is you can work with and not. That said, we're not being flippant about setups and minimum compliance and things and such. Everyone got a life in sustainability and everyone pursues that while being on the team. I think that's the reason why we attract the people we are working with right now.

SELLING SUSTAINABILITY

RICH: Now, when you have so many players in the market, I'll talk about sustainability, how do you differentiate yourself? How do you create definitions that are engaging to clients, just at a product level? How have you found that problem?

PAT : Well, I think that's two questions there. Once, is how do you differentiate yourself from all the others. I think our model is very, very different. The way we work is very different. Having that setup allows us to be cost efficient with the highest level of expertise. So we'd like to think we're not up here with a you know whose are most expensive number of zeros and down here with interns kind of thing. So that's one.

Two, the specialization and sustainability is away from just the technical environment assessment or just what are my community programs going to be. Let's bring it back to purpose so that is what is very, very distinct with us because we know...oh, profit is not my purpose. There is still that kind of enlightenment with some businesses. But when you link it to what is the legacy air China create. What was your business there in the first place? It then becomes unnecessary to do a materiality assessment sometimes. Because if you stick to that, then you know exactly what you should be focusing on.

When we work with SMEs, it's really encouraging because everyone says what, they have no money startups. They have no money for sustainability, but actually it's a café or chain of restaurants..bang, it's food safety, it's packaging, it's sourcing. They know their issue. That is such a joy to work with because the worse thing is when a prospect just wants to do everything and doesn't know which one and wants you to figure it out and you kind of...your job is to show could you do this, could you do that, and yea.

REDEFINING WORK

RICH: How do you feel now that you are on your own? You get to pick and choose. You don't have to appease the masses. You don't have to appease your boss. Does that bring you personally, a very different feeling about how you go to work everyday?

PAT : First of all, we do not get to pick and choose all the time. I mean, you're still beholding to clients, right. There are still clients you love, love, love, to work with. Clients that are not ready for you yet. But yes, you get to pick and choose your battles the kind of work sometimes. Every day is a different day. There is no...I think in the first week or maybe even the first month, there was...I began to realize there was no weekday and a weekend. Sunday is proposal day, but what you all I am running on Tuesday. You're all miserable in your 9'oclock work hour. You're still there, right?

That is fun. We look forward to that. I think again, with our setup, there's a lot of us who do virtual offices. I have three or four mother who have got two or three kids a piece and they run a program on GHG emission training with a baby in had. That's just you, know it's good. It's cool. It's very cool to s see a client that you didn't think would be okay with that, to be hundred percent all over it.

WORDS OF WISDOM

RICH: What advice would you give to them? Being inside the machine, having a comfortable life, maybe the kids and the package and the blah, blah blah. What advice would you give to them if they are considering making that jump?

PAT : Again, I'm not an entrepreneur so it's not as if one day I'm gonna go sell this room and I didn't even think of it like that. But in hindsight, intrepreneurial thinking, why, why this all that when you've got all the perks right? If you can do, be the change agent internally absolutely do it. I think my advice is to speak up and find the kindred spirits that can make that happen for you. If that doesn't work and you've tried relentlessly and you've found you know the c-suite that will give you the blessing to go and do it and there is still none. Then you gotta think about the practical stuff. Paying the bills, balancing the family and all that. I don't think I really thought let me go and set up my own thing in fact, I probably even said is there someone who I could just join and help that girl because that's the easy route.

ROMANTICIZING ENTREPRENEURSHIP

RICH: Now, a lot of people they romanticize the idea of being entrepreneurs, owning their own time, okay. What are some of the things that you may have romanticized about to start off with that have become reality?

PAT : I guess you've got an image of your day in your head, squeezing a bit of running I here, I can go catch up with a friends and you can do the work in between and that's enough. When you're setting up your own, whether you're alone or with partners, you've gotta accept that there is no you outside of that. That this is consuming even when you're on the treadmill, or swimming in my case, that's the time you kind of you know recover but that's also your creative side so there is no switching off I guess. You can't have, you shouldn't afford that luxury, but then again if you don't work it's not going to get built. So you can have the four hour day and ya know sixteen hours on the side that you're doing whatever and it will only grow that space.

So I guess if you romanticize, oh in two years you're going to do a series and in five years I'm gonna be bought out aint gonna happen if you're not going talk in the hour. But like I said, I had no expectations. I think for me it was more the reverse which was, oh my God where is it going now? Like what are my options and everyone saying go this way, go this way, go this way. There's no one way in fact we should take that offline and have the okay what do I do now? Its year three.

GETTING GOOD ADVICE

RICH: Ok, then that's a different question then. Who do you trust to give you advice that's useful? Everyone will give you advice, everyone will say what you should do, but how do you, how do you find the people to trust? Are there people you absolutely trust? Like people who've gone through it? Are there people who are entrepreneurs? Like who do you go to?

PAT : I deliberately created a circle of entrepreneurs, ex-entrepreneurs, semi VCs and people who are just really good at shit I'm not good at. So whether it's super hardcore finance, or if it's you know, it's certain aspects. I have them in like a panel in my head and I can go phone them up. They're not on the board, they're not, they're not necessarily with a discipline on how they speak to me, but they are my biggest critics. These are the people you know we'll just call it what it is and tell you to stop. Or if you're, you know flip flopping on a decision they're just gonna call my bluff out and force me to do it.

I actually have one who is on the finance base kind of advising me, and I've known him since before Uni. He is serial, he is lethal, he says and I quote, "my job is to take you to hell, but make you want to go for it before I even ask you." It's just that. Or take you to heaven and make you wanna go before I even ask you. They're very, very spot on like that. I'm lucky to have circles like the World Economic Forum, YGL who have all done this who are all amazing. I kind of feel like I'm this teeny, tiny brownie making businesswoman and you're all these tech and everyone is going through the same thing.

COMPLAINING & FEAR

RICH: What room in your life do you have for complaining about your situation? How much thought do you give to failure and maybe the lessons from...like if this doesn't work out I have this. Or if this project doesn't, do you like to learn from failure? Do you fear failure? Are you someone whose little hesitant? How does that fit in your life?

PAT : I think its breathed in and out every day because again, this isn't my comfort zone. The fact that that if all goes apes and this isn't working then I gotta go plan B, plan C. I think it helps to have that attitude. I didn't do that deliberately. This is kind of the way that these things have fallen for me, but do I embrace failure? yes. Do I seek it? I try to avoid it of course, but you know, let's say that every scenario you know how its going to fail. That's here's kind of sense check of whether you're ready for it to succeed or not. Has it failed in certain respects, yes. Sometimes its just a genuine failure. Let the wind blow as it says. Let the wind blow and then you know life moves on. It's not as if you could belabor that and say I'm never gonna try that service again or that system again. I'm not gonna do it this way because it really depends on the way your clients and you're people want to work with you. so.

RICH: I like it though. Embrace failure, but don't seek it.

PAT : Don't seek it. Fail fast.

RICH: Fail fast, but learn faster.


For more interviews from the "Entrepreneurs for Good" series, check out the playlist here.

Stay tuned for more clips and full interviews in the coming weeks.


Steve Jiang

The Power of Story to Change Minds | Steven Jiang

In this episode of Entrepreneurs For Good, I speak with filmmaker Steven Jiang about his work to capture the lives of Chinese living with Tourette Syndrome

Steven Jiang, is the absolute embodiment of what it means to be an entrepreneur for Good, and he is not really an entrepreneur.

He has no business model for his work, and he is not trying to sell a product, but he is picking up the tools that he has to fix a problem that he sees and doing something about it.

More than many other interviews I have done to date, Steven's attitude, grit, and the way he attacked the challenge, is an amazing inspiration.

Be prepared to be inspired, and if you are, please remember to like, share, and comment.

 


How can you laugh at us? We are just like you. What you can do, we can do.
What you can achieve, we can achieve.
- Steven Jiang, Filmmaker


About the Entrepreneurs For Good Series

Through this series, we speak with Asia based entrepreneurs whose mission it is to bring solutions to the environmental, social, and economic challenges that are faced within the region to learn more about their vision, the opportunities they see, and challenges that they have had to overcome.

It is a series that we hope will not only engage and inspire you, but catalyze you and your organizations into action. To identify a challenge that is tangible, and build a business model (profit or non) that brings a solution to the market.


About Rich

Driven by the belief that change begins with a single step, Richard Brubaker has spent the last 15 years in Asia working to engage, inspire, and equip those around him to take their first step. Acting as a catalyst to driving sustainability, Brubaker works with government, corporate, academic and non-profit stakeholders to bring together knowledge, teams, and tools that develop and execute their business case for sustainability.

Follow Rich
Website: http://www.richbrubaker.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rich.brubaker
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/richbrubaker
Instagram: https://instagram.com/richbrubaker
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/richbrubaker

Contact Rich
social@richbrubaker.com


Full Interview Transcript

Hi, my name is Steven Jiang. I'm a videographer and cinematographer here in Shanghai. I've been living in Shanghai for 10 years. Beside my job I got a lifetime companion. It's called Tourette Syndrome. Last year I spent a year filming, editing my very first documentary serious. It's called the happiness of Tourette Syndrome.

TOURETTE'S SYNDROME

Tourette Syndrome, I'm not a doctor but basically based on my understanding it's a neurological problem that causes people to do involuntary movements which they call tics.

First these two types of tics. It's a motor tic and a fawning tick, which is basically called a vocal tic. It sometimes bothers people because we do it involuntarily where it is uncontrollable. We can control it in a certain amount of time, but after this control and where we'll get them released. So when we do the tic, actually this...some part of our muscle or whatever it feels sore or a little bit uncomfortable. That's why we use tic to release this un-comfortableness. So that's why we do the tic all the time.

IGNORANCE AND INSULTS

Yeah, I mean every day ... mean my Tourette Syndrome is not that severe. But, I first know sometimes every month I saw people with Tourette Syndrome. Also I face which, maybe it's called a so-so stigmatization and people have missed a misunderstanding about it. Because people are ignorant of Tourette Syndrome.

If you ask a hundreds of Chinese people, youngsters, you know educated, whatever, they know nothing. But they know ADHD, they know OCD, but they don't know Tourette's. So that's a problem.

For me the most insulting behavior, um the word is, they mimic me. They copy me. I wanted to makes noise and they were makes noise. Someone asked me did you hear you are like a frog Craig, or something? But, yeah I mean there were two reasons. Maybe, maybe it's my tic sounds really like a frog. So they just do you think well, what is a frog in here or maybe they know is it's my tic, but I don't' know what's going on. They just, they're just too fun. So I basically, this is something about, I know this case can be worse, like even people, the thing you bother them and they asked no reason. They think you're weirdo.

BE TOLLERANT OF THE IGNORANT

We are very sensitive about how people look at me sometimes. I mean, I don't think it's good because some if you've get over sensitive, and you will mess up all this friendly behavior.

Sometimes you just look at you. It's care. Either you too sensitive ,I think while they heck you look at me? So this is something that I told my friends with Tourette Syndrome, don't go extreme. Because again, it confuse us that, these ignorant people should be forgiven. They're ignorant. Why don't you just, just be tourists? They know nothing. Just don't fight with them. Yeah.

IT'S OK TO BE PHENOMENAL

Even if your kids had Tourette Syndrome, it's ok for them to be phenomenal. Even our kids have Tourette Syndrome. If we have good education, if we know the trust an old properly, the tics can be healed before or after adolescence. Then there's a fewer. Why don't you see tangle with this because they don't want to spend time to study the hardcore... I mean the essence of Tourette Syndrome. They still think it's AIDS. This is something really awful.

So that's the thing to be sad about. That's the thing I want to change you know? Even I'm a little individual. I mean my documentary is not a blockbuster. It's not a boom, a week and billions of hits. No. It needs time to empower. To let people, to elect people to ignite people's heart.

It's a film that you should watch with your friends, with a relative. So It's something....I'm not so hassled to wait for the outcome because I'm sure others not perfect, but I think it's possible the best one-man crew documentary I saw in China. I mean I'm confident about that.

A lot of people say, don't do it alone. I say ok, I only have 60,000 how can I have a crew? And if I bring a crew, this heroes they don't think they don't feel comfortable. Like the girl a mother would never quarry, fine with me. So there have to be one man crew. They have to but again those have two sides, coins have two sides. London crew has it's own disadvantage, but also it gives you the advantage. But that you are so close with them.

DEVELOPING SKILLS

I used to be a cartoonist. An illustrator and also a probeist...I mean taking photos with strobes and finally I found myself. I still love something...the motions.

Then that's why I became a videographer and I learned from the tutorials. Thanks for my knowledge about English because this tutorial is that, there's no in Chinese subtitle, but they usually force myself to use English software with Photoshop, Premier Adobe, whatever because you learned lingo and jargons with the software.

You don't have to learn, you don't go to freakin English first to study about it, you know? This software gave you all the professional terms. Also and I think this my lighting skills with taking photos with strobes, helps me with I think this strobe lighting tech excuse or the techniques, but similar very similar to the lighting skills in a film. Just two different lights.

My camera is simple. I only have two camera. One camera is Canon Cinema 100. It's a professional camera, but it doesn't have slow-motion functions. So Sad. But it's a professional camera and it's a light, portable. Because I'm a one-man crew, so I can't, I cant take huge camera. Also, the price for that camera is affordable.

Also a second camera is called backup camera. It is a Cannon 60D...just like the, you know the LR camera. I use it for cam laugh or some other angle with do the interview, whatever. So and a tripod, a monopod and also a slider.

That's why I say I travel with three cities...with three packages. This is not...I think it's almost nearly twenty kilos or something. It's so heavy, but again you know the power is sometimes I do, I did in the middle way I want to equate. You know it's.. I'm not a hero, you know? I'm an ordinary people. Sometimes why do I do I do this, nobody pay me You know like I think it's out of the love and a care of the Tourettesy. If everybody knows Tourettes like what American people did and Canada did, there's no need for me to make the documentary.

So Every time I think about is sad stories that there are companions of facing. Think about the ignorant people I mean, they need to be educated. I don't think in my film will change every Chinese People to think about, you know? And also now there are still some people insulting my film. They think it's a tragedy for Tourette kids. I don't care about it. So sometimes you have to be stopped in a good way.

I think everybody has a small universe inside your heart and this stubborn idea or stubbornness what figure out is a small universe. And you will possibly, you make you do some behavior that this behavior will exactly will influence people we'll ignite a society and maybe it would even change the world.

You can't say I'm a small person and I'm just individual I can't do nothing.

FINDING THE RIGHT COLOR

I choose heroes because I said there was all about 50 or 60 people like a candidate. I found that some of candidate their stories really sad. So again, I saying what kid of team what kid of color I wanna give my film. It's kind of warm. It's not like kind of dark and black because I found, not every...even most of the Trans people in mainland China are facing problems. But I don't want my film to show they're really kind of desperate kind of people.

Although I choose this person these four heroes, they have trauma, but they overcame their trauma. Or they can work with the trauma pretty well. So like the first episode is a guy from Taiwan. He's 37year old flower arranger artist, called a florist. His syndrome is the worst one. The most severe one. He was crazy. He was yelling out all the time. But he was the first Asian florist, who win the number one French, like a flower arranging competition.

The hardcore message from him is to be yourself. Do not let others people's opinion judge you. Everybody is different individual, even though you have Tourette Syndrome, just let it go. He never covered his syndrome. Sometimes I covered it sometimes in an appropriate location, whatever. But you see in a film where he was doing flower things. When he's teaching students. He releasing this all the time.

But this thing can be an advantage because interviews are some of his students and said well I like the tic of my teacher because the most of the flower teachers are really boring, monotonous. When he do oohh, it's funny because sometimes you tired and a tic makes us wake up. So he didn't notice, but his students find well this is a characteristic of my teacher. So, although some people say well maybe he say well the God or whatever it seems like a challenge for him, or unfair treatment, but it's good because he never take himself as a patient. Because the story we have specific term for the actors, heroes.

So also there is a British woman, I think her name is Jessica, something. Her name is Jessica. She have a website. It's called To Rescue.com. So I think this person who dare to stand out and behave...relieve their tic in front of my camera continuously for month, it's really encourages act, you know? I don't think every Tourette sufferer or Tourette friend, they have this, these guts to do so. For me, they are my hero. They are a true hero because people tend to cover their trauma. They don't want to relieve that's trauma. To let billions of Chinese people know I have Tourette Syndrome. I mean in America, maybe in England, the situation got better, but here in China, mainland China this is really courageous.

YOU HAVE TO FIND THE BEAUTY

There are two hopes for Tourette sufferers here in China. I hope that this film is a bit to give them strength and power to face the situation, even if incurable. There is no cure for it. That mean you are not sentenced to die. You're not into a life sentence.

So every coin has two sides. Tourette has this awful side of it, everybody knows, but also has this beauty. But you have to find out a beauty through whatever you can do. Don't get beaten by us. Because if you've gotten beaten by us, the true ego will be killed. So just be yourself. Tell the world I am Tourette's. I have Tourette Syndrome.

GIVE THEM HOPE

Sooner or later people will type of Tourette Syndrome on YouTube or whatever. Actually want I want to see is not see how sorrow we are is the real situation and justlike me years ago. I click Tourette Syndrome on YouTube. I don't want to see how American Tourette

people feel. Like I honestly can I get some strengths. Is there a cure? We are looking for a cure, not a medical cure, but a spiritual cure.

If I show this sad photos and there it will quench their fire. They have a little fire inside. They have a little universe inside. These negative images will destroy them. So I don't want to give them this kind of impression. So that's why I even used the poster I found a good illustrator. So she made a painting of this, this for heroes and just tell them this....I'll give them hope. Like the last episode that hero was...it was the only hero doesn't have Tourette Syndrome. Her kid has Tourette Syndrome.

So this 33 year old woman, she healed her kids not through medicine, through love. Through behavior training and also this mental training so she's Tourette Syndrome gone. And then people said, well she can stop because you try a lot of effort and your son is covered. You go, just do whatever you want. But she kept writing blog. She writes 8 years, hadn't read diary for...record every second every minute.

She's almost like a doctor, but she doesn't have any medical background. And then she become profession blogger writing a blog, almost 900 articles to write about Tourette Syndrome. Not only diagnosis of Tourette kids, but also or every aspect to care, the maternal relationship, everything. And this year she is going to release her book. She is a blogger.

So in this episode, I give the people the answer, but how Tourette Syndrome inform you. How you should face Tourette Syndrome and how women changed her life and career out of the love of her Tourette kids. In the end she said someone else ask her why don't you stop? No one pay you. She said I feel I have a kind of like an agreement with Tourette's, with little Tourette angels and my mission is to tell these parents of these little angels that your job is to take care of this special angel. Do not blame them. It's not their fault. It's your fault because the key to help your children with Tourette Syndrome is you. It's not a medicine.

EVERYBODY HAS TRAUMA

For the masses. The majority of the people in China, it's like I want to trigger out the empathy, not sympathy because Tourette's is not a handicap. Is like a body infection. Everybody has trauma. Everybody has "Tourette's" in some ways.

How can you laugh at us? We are just like you. What you can do, we can do. What you can achieve, we can achieve. Even we do better when Mozart, he had Tourette Syndrome. There are some American athletes, they have Tourette's. And you know there was a movie called The Front of the Class and Brad Coyne was the writer. Also the hero in that film, he was a teacher. It was the best teacher in that state.

We have Tourette heroes all around the world. So we are just like everybody. So just, and also for the ordinary people,
again for this film, Tourette's is just clothes. It's just a dress. Inside the bone is how people dealing with the trauma.

How you deal with the problem. Everybody has a problem. That's why some people after the premier, after they see my video launched online, this ordinary friends, they told me hey...I saw myself in some of the episode.

They say right. You have problem, but you don't have Tourette's.

That's why you give me the feedback. That's the thing along my documentary is..there are still some problems there. I'm not happy with this, it is not a perfect one, but I think it's ...it missed what document the documentary spirit need to make people think.

To make people reflect even to make people change. Yeah


For more interviews from the "Entrepreneurs for Good" series, check out the playlist here.

Stay tuned for more clips and full interviews in the coming weeks.