Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Who Me? Entrepreneur and Socialite??

Last night I attended an IT Networking Session organized by NUS OAR. Targeted at both fresh graduates and working alumni, the evening consisted of a panel discussion on the topic of "Taking on the Entrepreneurial Spirit with IT" and a networking session over dinner.

It was to be my very first social event of this nature. For the past few days, I felt rather apprehensive about it; all I could imagine was myself, a fledgling fresh grad, lost and silent among a crowd of successful people busy at socializing. When I tried asking friends to accompany me, they hadn't heard about it and weren't interested anyway. But it wasn't so bad when I got there. Fortunately I met an acquaintance there and managed to avoid looking sad and lonely.

The panelists consisted of a mix of 4 successful young personalities - one dead serious and dead boring, another totally irreverent, and one utterly intelligent and well-spoken. The discussion was many things to me - mostly sobering, sometimes thought-provoking, sometimes dead boring, occasionally hilarious, and overall quite inspiring.

Many personal anecdotes and experiences were shared, encapsulating invaluable nuggets of wisdom. But nothing said was novel or radical; we've all heard these familiar words one time or another:

"stepping out of comfort zone"
"pursuing a dream passionately"
"choosing to working for yourself or for others"
"compelled by choice or no choice"
"the ability to sell is crucial"
"spotting and catching the next big wave"

But to a professional bummer, closeted at home in my comfort zone most of the time, these are simply pretty phrases of information, chucked away in my mental log for future reference, if ever. True epiphany occurs through enlightenment or experience when information becomes knowledge and wisdom. To this point, one panelist related how he took 11 years to realize that

[profit = revenue - cost]

For me, my epiphany is that entrepreneurship is not an occupation, it's a mindset, an attitude towards life of grabbing the bull by the horns. Of course, I don't know about every single thing that entrepreneurship entails. But I know now that it's not something only for the street-smart, business-savvy, or the sole proprietor. The label "entrepreneur in the corporate world" is still ringing in my head.

Once the discussion ended, everyone headed out directly at the food. Instantly it could be seen who was socially-savvy and who wasn't: people who dived into the food first, and others who socialized first; people who clung on to others they knew, and other who went up to the panelists to introduce themselves. Took me a while to warm up to it, but finally I stuck my face into 2 of the panelists' and introduced myself. To my surprise, they were warm and friendly. One even got me to treat him to lunch. What struck me most was the confidence and energy that shone through the glint in their eyes.

So am I going to start my own business? Maybe.

Am I going to shamelessly make friends with total strangers? Perhaps.

Am I going to grab life by its horns? Definitely!

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