Nurture Your Introverts to Harness Their Superpowers

introvert
noun
/ˈɪntrəvəːt/
  1. a shy, reticent person.

Mention introvert and the image that comes to mind is of a person sitting quietly in a corner, surrounded by a mountain of books. They might enjoy hobbies like knitting, drawing, video games, or going for long walks on the beach on their own.

Extroverts, by comparison, are the ones who are forward and ‘think on their feet’; social butterflies who enjoy meeting people. If these terms ring any bells, it’s because they are traits companies use to describe desirable employees. Everyone loves the party animals, because they’re fun-loving, engaging, charismatic. Introverts, on the other hand, get a lot less love. The corporate world is setup to value speed and aggression, and there seems to be little to no space for introspection.

I am here to tell you why introverts matter, and why companies shouldn’t dismiss an employee’s potential, simply because we don’t fit into the conventional mold of what society deems a quote unquote, ‘good’ employee.

Now, before we dive deeper, let me just put it on the table that I have nothing against extroverts. Extroverts are awesome and I envy them their ease at fostering connections and their ability to bring people together. But just like everything in life, I believe in balance – and I think the world would be a better place if we can tap into the strengths of both extroverts AND introverts.

Many people assume that I’m antisocial, because I’m only good to ‘hangout’ for short periods –  and even then it’s usually with a small and intimate group. This is untrue. I do not hate meeting people. Being an introvert simply means that I need time to recharge my batteries. Unlike extroverts, who get their energy from being around people and bouncing their ideas off others, introverts are like sponges – we absorb information and process them within. Think of a sponge that has soaked up too much water: it needs to be squeezed and emptied before it can be used again.

An ex-boss once told me not to be ‘antisocial’, when I politely declined another glass of beer at an office gathering. “You’re so uptight. Chill lah. Open up,” he said, while waving a bottle of Heineken in my face. “Live a little.” This is a very extraverted way of thinking.  Live in the moment. Enjoy a bottle of beer, preferably while it’s cold, in the company of colleagues. And I’m not saying that’s wrong or anything, but introverts tend to take a bit more time to process things. Mine went like this: Another beer will get me drunk = I will have difficulty driving back home = Endangering others = let’s not have a beer, even if everyone else is and they call it ‘socialising’.  Needless to say, the way he delivered his well-intentioned (?) remark did not help me to ‘open up’. If anything, I grew to dread office gatherings because I felt like a total freak, even when I was trying to socialise with others.

The Value of Introspection

“Spur of the moment” is used to describe something that happens without advance planning. Extroverts tend to have this way of thinking – speak one’s mind / get something going first, then work out the deets later. And while it can be a good thing in some cases, other decisions require deliberate and thoughtful introspection. Warren Buffet, one of the world’s richest men, is a famous introvert, and has said before in interviews that he often takes time off to do his own research and deliberate on decisions.

In a meeting, extroverts tend to dominate conversations, as they are more outspoken and willing to share,  while introverts tend to be sidelined as they might only speak up when they feel that they have something valuable to add. This might lead people to believe that they do not have any good ideas at all, when in reality, they are simply taking their time to analyse and process the information, before they share their thoughts. If you need someone to create a report or summarise the minutes – I can guarantee you that introverts will excel nine times out of ten, because of the way our minds are wired. Remember = sponge.

Meaningful Connections 

Introverts are often chastised for their inability to socialise or network well. If you base success on the number of people you manage to pass your phone number to at an event, then sure – introverts are probably not as good as extroverts. But I disagree that we don’t connect well with people. It just takes us longer to find that one person who is worth spending our precious time and energy, because to introverts, this is a very limited resource that has to be spent wisely. We may not be naturally charismatic, but it is precisely because of this that many introverts place a high value on their relationships, both personal and professional, and work hard to maintain these r/ships. These deep and loyal bonds can be a great asset to a company, and friendships for that matter.

The Quiet Sweet Potato Is Filling 

The above is a literal translation of the Malay saying, “diam-diam ubi berisi” lol.

There’s nothing fancy or particularly appealing about a sweet potato’s appearance. And yet, this humble root vegetable fills you up. It means that just because someone doesn’t outwardly say or appear to fit into a certain mold, that doesn’t mean they don’t have anything of value to add, or that they’re stupid. The closest equivalent to this proverb that I can think of is ’empty barrels make the most noise’, although it doesn’t capture the simplicity and essence of diam-diam ubi berisi.

There is a common misconception that leaders have to be outspoken, pushy go-getters. This setup means that charming, charismatic people, regardless of whether they can actually do a job well, are often given leadership positions.  I have personally worked with and met people in leadership positions who are all air and no action: nice to look at at first glance, but with no substance within.

In contrast, quieter, less outgoing leaders are usually more focused on getting a job done rather than gaining approval from their employees and peers – which means that they can be more efficient. I have worked with several introverted bosses, and they are some of the best leaders I’ve had the chance to work with. And because their personalities gelled with mine, they understood how to bring out the best in me.

Many of the world’s most gifted creatives and analysts – from Bill Gates and Steve Jobs to Einstein – are introverts. Magic happens in the space between solitude and monotony, because creating a work of art, whether it’s writing, drawing, painting, etc. is often an introspective activity. We may be inspired by our surroundings, but creativity is drawn from within. We are no lesser, nor stranger, than the rest of the world. There is strength in being an introvert, and we should embrace who we are and work to realise our full potential.

Signing off with a very insightful Ted Talk by Susan Cain !

**PS: You can read more stuff like this on Patreon!  Subscribe here. You can also follow me on other social media channels on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. Your support would mean the world to me! 🙂 

 

 

Moving To A Co-Working Space: WORQ TTDI @ Glo Damansara

Hey guys!

My laptop’s keyboard has been acting up for the last couple of weeks, so it has been difficult to write blog posts.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to get it sorted out in a few days (but it also means added expenses. huhu).

I’ve been meaning to update on my new office space, which we moved to a couple of weeks ago. It’s a co-working space called WORQ TTDI, which is located within a (dead) mall called Glo Damansara. Distance-wise, it’s a bit further away from where I live, but I think it’s still manageable since we aren’t back to regular hours yet and I can still avoid traffic.

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Just before the Raya holidays, my colleagues and I went to pack up all our stuff at the old office and say goodbye to the place for the last time. It was bittersweet. It felt like it was not too long ago when I first joined the company. I even remember my first day, nervously sitting at the lobby of the building, where they have these wooden planks, long benches, pebbled flooring and a couple of trees, waiting for the office to open at 9.30am. Awkward introductions with colleagues. Then, the late nights we spent doing overtime to meet deadlines. Celebratory KFC lunches. Coordinating my first magazine in the role of deputy editor. Tears (I had a meltdown once in front of my boss, lol). Laughter. So many memories. Some of my (ex) colleagues aren’t even with us anymore due to the economic downturn. I was one of the ‘lucky’ ones. For how long remains to be seen, but I’m just glad to still have work at the moment when so many others don’t.

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Last time I’ll probably see this – view from the 11th floor.

 

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While I was sad to bid adieu to my old office space, I was also quite excited to move into a new one. Moving to a co-working space where you get lots of different people might not seem like the best thing right now, but the decision was done before the whole pandemic thing (tenancy at old office ending + cost reasons), and so far, we’ve had no reason to worry. The space is still pretty empty at the moment as many are still working from home, and I think it’s big enough to implement social distancing measures. (Above) The main area is cosy and has several couches, tall tables and work desks where you can sit freely. It’s also a good place to have a casual chat with clients or visitors, who are allowed in for a maximum of 3 hours, after which they are required to purchase a day pass.

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There are several tiers to choose from; namely the Hot Desk which allows you to sit at any desk in the open area, (RM400/month), Dedicated Desk where you get your own desk and lockable cabinet (RM700/month), and private suite (RM700/month). As suite subscribers, we get to sit at the hot desk seats if we want a change of scenery.

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There’s a games room with lots of cosy pouffes where you can let off some steam… although I think not many people would want to touch stuff inside rn. There’s a dartboard, board games, a Playstation (but they only have football games :(, and even a guitar. It will be a lively place to socialise once the pandemic winds down.

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The pantry is another common area, and comes equipped with two refrigerators, a water dispenser and microwave – although I’m a bit apprehensive about using the appliances since they’re shared among so many people. There is another pantry near the entrance.

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They have snack hour where they hand out snacks to the offices, or you can just help yourself to some goodies.

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Booths where you get a bit more privacy.

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The suites are basically a bunch of cubicles with glass walls, which can be rather distracting if there’s a good looking dude a few offices away from yours. (Above) Our suite before we moved the rest of the stuff in. Now there’s a big ass cupboard in the corner, a couple of monitors and numerous boxes, so it feels a little cramped.

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Customising my space. I also have a big Apple Monitor (not pictured).

The tables are honestly a bit narrow so there’s barely enough space for me to put my things (my desk is always cluttered), but can’t really complain.

Other than these, the space has facilities such as a small gym, printing and scanning machines, reception area and meeting rooms (you can rent them for ‘credit’, which you get a set amount of monthly depending on your tier). There are also regular networking sessions, although these have been put on hold for now as gatherings are not allowed.

I read an article about how co working spaces might see a surge in subscribers in the months to come, as some companies may be looking at downsizing, and co working spaces offer a cheaper option. That, or people will continue their work from home arrangement (although not everyone has a conducive environment for wfh – especially if you have young kids).

 

Day 1 Of A New Normal – Returning to Work Post-MCO in Malaysia

If you wanted to sweat the deets, then we’re technically still under a movement control order until May 12. But I’m calling it Post-MCO because all businesses (except close contact ones like spas and hair salons) have already been allowed to reopen on May 4.

At my workplace, we’re currently doing rotational shifts where we go into the office twice a week on different days. I’ve gotten used to working from home, so it feels a little weird to be driving to work again after so long. Granted, the traffic was pretty smooth, so I guess not all businesses are running yet. Schools definitely aren’t.

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At the lift, signs of the new normal are already in place. The building management also posted guards at the lobby, where they took temperatures, jotted down names and check-in times, and prepped hand sanitisers. Almost everyone I see is wearing a face mask.

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I worked on an article for a bit, then got too distracted because my colleagues were busy cleaning out their desks (we’re moving to a new office soon). So I decided to clean out my own desk. I’ve been putting it off because there’s just too much shit to be sorted, but I finally managed to get it all done. Hooray!

I also found this note from when my company organised a DiSC training to determine our working styles and discuss how best to work with each other. The DiSC test is often used by employers to assess workers and potential employees. Mine is a high C (conscientiousness). People who fall into C types are analytical, systematic, detailed, independent and make decisions based on objective reasoning. We are also afraid of being wrong, which is why I like to have as much detail as possible before embarking on a project. I find it difficult to work with I types (these are the ones that are usually lively and have that ‘lets do it and figure things out later!’ attitude), as well as D types (domineering and forceful). Whatever the case, most workplaces have different types of people – the reason why I’ve lasted so long here is that most of my colleagues are C and S (supportive) types. I had an ex-colleague who was a D, and we did not get along one iota.

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For lunch, I drove to a cafe nearby called Bookmark Coffee PJ. Ever since I came here with my editor, I’ve been a big fan of their smoked duck pandan rice, which is superb and comes in generous portions – and I’ve really missed it after nearly two months in quarantine.

Since the MCO is still technically in place, most eateries that are open cater to delivery and takeaway only. I waited for about 20 minutes for my orders (got the smoked duck pesto for my boss).

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Back at the office. Ah, how much I’ve missed this! Imagine juicy pieces of smoked duck with no trace of gaminess whatsoever. The meat is tender and succulent, while the skin and its layer of fattiness underneath just melts in your mouth. The fragrant pandan rice boasts a light blue tinge from natural blue pea flowers, and it is topped with a fried egg for good measure, garnished with vegetables and thin slices of cucumber. Bellissimo! 

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For a spicy kick, have your meal with some homemade sambal and orange glaze sauce. The sauce is slightly sweet and tart, which goes really well with the duck meat.

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One of my colleagues asked for help taking some photos for product placement on his Instagram (he’s an influencer), so we ended up messing around the lobby at our workplace. It was deserted, so we were definitely observing social distancing lol.


The rest of the day was uneventful. Traffic was a bit busier going home, but travel time was still shorter than usual.

I’m foreseeing things to get much busier next week, what with Hari Raya coming up, but hopefully people will still remember to adhere to social distancing and avoid public gatherings. Until we get a vaccine, we’re not out of the woods.

How is your country dealing with COVID 19? Are measures being relaxed, or are they extending the quarantine? 

 

 

Moving To A Co-Working Space: Tour of WORQ KL @ Glo Damansara

While still a fairly ‘new’ concept in Malaysia, co-working spaces have been around for some time in many Western countries – where workers from different companies share an office space and infrastructure such as equipment, utilities and receptionist services, in order to save on cost. The arrangement also allows for freelancers, independent contractors and remote workers to have a dedicated workspace of their own, since working from home/ telecommuting can be quite isolating or distracting.

Before the movement control order came into place, my colleagues and I went on a tour of WORQ, a co-working space in Glo Damansara. Since the tenancy for our current office expires soon, the plan is for us to move here in the third quarter of May – but seeing as how we’re still under quarantine, not sure if it’ll still go through.

Co-working spaces might not seem like the best idea given the coronavirus pandemic, but I guess we won’t have a choice. Just gotta be extra vigilant in washing our hands, wearing face masks, practicing social distancing, etc. Until we can find a cure/vaccine, this will be our ‘new normal’.

Coming back to WORQ, the place is actually quite cool, with lots of facilities.  The entrance has a friendly receptionist, a few glassdoor meeting rooms and a sofa. Walking into the main foyer, there are ‘hot desks’ (more on this later), more sofas where you can conduct casual meetings and brainstorming sessions, a playroom with games and pouffes, and more meeting rooms.

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The pantry has its own refrigerator (although I am a bit apprehensive about using a fridge/microwave shared by so many people), with free flow of coffee and snacks.

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Printing facilities are shared. You get a card with a certain amount of credit each month. There are a few common printers at WORQ, but you can have your own printer in your private suite as well.

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Another hot desk section.

When it comes to membership categories, there are four to choose from:

  • Hot desk – allows you to sit at any desk at an open space (RM400)
  • Dedicated desk – Dedicated desk at an open space (RM700); includes lockable filing cabinet
  • Private suite – Private, lockable room (RM700) – seats around 4 to 5 pax depending on size of room
  • Lite Membership – RM60: ideal for those who come in as and when; you get a day pass worth RM40 plus a few other benefits like RM50 meeting room credits

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Our private suite which seats five. Dibs on the corner seat because I like to have my own little corner. It’s not exactly ‘private’ though since you can see through to the adjacent suites.

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A tiny gym. There’s also a cycling gym on the same floor, but you’ll have to pay for that.

WORQ is pretty well equipped, so aside from all of the above, they also have stuff like nap pods, private booths where you can make telephone calls, powder room for freshening up, etc.

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GLO Damansara itself is pretty dead, though. There’s a grocery on the ground floor and a 7-11, but food choices are limited to a canteen-like resto, mamak stall or Malay food stalls across the road. There aren’t many other shops except ones selling furniture and carpets lol.

Not sure when the MCO will be lifted (Tentatively: April 29) or when we’ll be able to move in – I still have a tonne of stuff to clear out from my current office.

 

Do you work from a dedicated office, or a co-working space? How do you find the experience?

 

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Given The Choice… What Life Would You Live?

Everyone always says that when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. But what if what you really want is a nice spot of boba tea? lol. 

Terrible analogy aside, you get the drift.

So for those of you who don’t know, I just turned 28. And I’m a little lost with life, to be honest.

Before this comes off as me being an unappreciative bitch lol I just want to clarify that I’m grateful for everything that I have; because I don’t think I’m in a bad place at all. I enjoy what I do most of the time (which is more than can be said of most people), and my career progression is on the up and up. My bosses seem to see something in me and I haven’t been fired yet so I must have SOME potential and ability. In fact, they’re ready to give me additional responsibilities. The thing is, I’m unsure if I’d be able to deliver.

Being an INTP, I’ve always been a perfectionist; and I strongly believe in the adage that if you want to get something right, you have to do it on your own. I have a real problem relinquishing or delegating tasks to other people. I’ve never liked leadership roles, but for some reason people keep thrusting me into it because nobody else wants to step up lol. In times like these, I stress myself out to the max because I’m constantly worried if things would get done on time, or if my team members would be able to do a good job. Also, if I have a task that’s uncompleted I get extremely anxious. With the new role, this is basically going to be what I’ll have to face every single day. And I’m not sure if I’m up for it.

Again, I’m very grateful that I have good people around me, who have been supportive and given me the opportunity to learn and move up. I know plenty of people who would thrive in such circumstances. But deep down inside, I don’t know if I am such a person. To be completely honest, I think I’d be happy just being a normal writer doing stories all my life.

Maybe that’s what differentiates me from people who do ‘great things’. I know a good friend who is very ambitious  – and even though she’s the same age as me, her career success is what most people can only dream of in a lifetime. She admits to being driven because she wants better things in life. The problem with me is I tend to be contented with what I have. It’s a double edged sword because on one hand, I’m kinda happy; on the other, I’m broke. lol. Material may not be everything, but with my parents aging and my mom’s condition in particular, I’m not carefree enough to say “Money ISN’T Everything.” Sure, it isn’t – but if you don’t have money you’re screwed too.

I talked to my mom about this whole thing and she said it was ‘normal’ to move on to the next step because “you don’t want to be writing all your life, do you?”

But what if that’s really what I want? I don’t want to disappoint anyone, but at the same time, I don’t want to do something that I know wouldn’t be a right fit for my personality. Then there’s also the thing where I have to provide for my parents since they’re getting old, and obviously a normal writer’s salary wouldn’t do much – I’m already slaving away at two writing jobs as it is.

Sigh, dilemmas. Wish I could be like this guy and just live on an island. 

Work Trip To Perlis – Interviewing the Royal Fam

Hey guys!

Sorry for the lack of updates – currently on holiday in Manila 😀

I’m taking some time off from exploring the city (it’s been raining like crazy the past few days) – so here’s my recent experience traveling to the northern Malaysian state of Perlis for work.

You can read the full story here  – but it was basically a collaboration between Malaysia Airlines and the Perlis Royal Family, to bring Perlis cuisine to passengers flying with the airline during the festive season of Eid. The Perlis royal family shared a palace favourite recipe – the Kurma Daging Perlis / Kurma Ayam Perlis – and the Malaysia Airlines kitchen would recreate it and serve it onboard selected flights for the first three days of Eid.

My job was to do a story on it for online, whilst the Malaysia Airlines video production crew I traveled with did photos/videos for social media.

The above video (which is less than a minute!) took us hours to film and get right lol. Some of the interviews (the parts with the palace chef, for example) didn’t even make it on film. And people think video production is easy work!

We arrived at Istana Arau, the official residence of the Perlis Royal Family in the evening for a site recce, but ended up doing the palace chef’s interview on the spot, which was initially scheduled for the next day.

Interviewing for video is way. more. difficult. than for print because you have to get the interviewees to say full sentences, and most people are nervous in front of a camera, so you have to repeat takes. It was a good thing we didn’t have to jump into interviewing the royal fam straight away – the palace aide had to give us barbarians a crash course on proper etiquette while meeting the Crown Prince and his consort.

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Breakfast at The Putra Regency Hotel Kangar was a simple affair – canned beans, sliced bread, fruits and sunny side up egg, served with coffee and juice.

Then it was off to the palace again for the ‘real’ work – shooting footage of the dishes that would be served onboard, and interviewing the Crown Prince.

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The exterior of the palace. The compound is not normally open to the public except on special occasions. The Istana itself dates back to the early 20th century and has beautiful architecture.

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Nicely landscaped gardens.

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Not sure if palace protocol allows me to post any photos of the palace interiors. We only visited two rooms: the dining room where we did the food shots, and the holding room where the royal family receives guests.

Helped set up the props such as dry ingredients, plates, etc.; and then the film crew started to do the shots. Because we couldn’t film in the kitchen, they flew in a ready made kurma daging dish, reheated it and used that for filming. I was nervous interviewing the royal couple because there are protocols to be followed, such as the ‘sembah’ (salutations? where you place your palms together on your forehead and ask for permission to speak) , but once the ball got rolling it was me, the interviewee and my notepad again.

The entire shoot took us close to four hours – and all for less than a minute of footage! It was an interesting experience nevertheless, and everyone was fun to work with.

….Welp, that was my little ‘diary’ entry that’s not the usual travel/food stuff.

Back to regular programming. 😀

 

March Madness, April Afflictions

Hey guys!

Just wanted to put it out here that I might not be updating this space as often.

April is going to be a crazy month because of added responsibilities.

They’ve finally decided to let me put together an issue of our magazine, which means that I’ll be in charge of checking everything from A-Z: commissioning stories, preparing the flat plan, sending it for subbing/proofreading/checking the ozalid, etc. This is IN ADDITION to my regular print writing/digital editor duties.

Yep.

Absolute madness. 

I wish they had prepped me a bit before suddenly pushing all this stuff on me, but that’s life lol. Opportunities won’t wait for you if you don’t grab ’em.

I’m still doing my part time gig. I’m really tempted to let that go for now but the employer has been good and has given me extended deadlines. He’s also a good paymaster, so I feel bad about turning it down. :/ We’ll see. I don’t want to burn out.

Course, not complaining. I’m one of the lucky ones. How many people can say that they enjoy their work? Sure, it has ups and downs, but what job doesn’t? Most importantly, I’m learning new things and earning extra moolah.

Til then, wish me luck!

Here’s a song break for your humpday, from one of my favourite bands 🙂