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"Starting from a personal passion." - Say What? #43

Hi everyone! Hope you are all doing great and staying healthy! We have officially crossed the 300th s
July 12 · Issue #43 · View online
Say What?
Hi everyone!
Hope you are all doing great and staying healthy!
We have officially crossed the 300th subscriber mark! Alhamdulillah. This project is a little over 1.5 year old, and I’m really happy with how it’s turned out to be (and I hope you are satisfied with it too!)
Today’s issue will be talking a little about passion, something that I might have touched upon in previous issues (like this, this, and this), but from a leadership perspective.
Hope you enjoy it!

Joining a leadership program for young female leaders.
If COVID-19 didn’t happen and the year has gone according to plan, I would actually be in USM, Penang this week to attend the 2-weeks long Harpswell ASEAN Program in Women’s Leadership. But, unfortunately, God has better plans, so here I am instead, just finishing the week-long virtual sessions with the Harpswell team instead.
Honestly speaking, I have never heard of this program before. If it wasn’t because of Lisa Kamal, who recommended that I apply for this program after she shamelessly sold my name to the organisers during one of her talks in USM, I probably wouldn’t have even considered applying for the program back in March.
Here I am, a few months later, surrounded by astoundingly inspiring women leaders aged 25-30 from various ASEAN countries. I’ve gotta say - the imposter syndrome is hitting me real hard here. Reading their bios and all their achievements make me feel small about what I’ve done. Needless to say, I’m almost regretting my decision to join the program.
But, I’m here, and I feel extremely lucky to be able to learn from them. Like Lisa said, I’ve gotta tackle this imposter syndrome from the start, and I have to start owning up to what I’ve done. Even if it’s not on the same level, I’ve got to learn to be proud of what I’ve achieved so far.
Anyhow - back to the actual topic for today.
During one of our sessions this week.
During one of our sessions this week.
You've got to know yourself first.
We had multiple (short) sessions on different topics throughout this week, with Friday night being our last session & reflection time.
During our session on women’s leadership, we were talking about centered leadership, and one statement stuck to my mind.
Leadership is about the very best in yourself, and using that to inspire and energize others to allow you to mobilize them - Penny Burtt
We all have leaders that we look up to in our lives - these may be politicians, world leaders, or, like me, a former university dean of students.
Whoever they are, there must be reason(s) why we look up to them. They’re either compassionate about the people they work for (or lead), hardworking, strong-willed, responsible, honest in their work, committed, and many other traits that describe a good leader.
But, at the very core of their strong leadership is one similar trait - they are all authentic, they know their purpose and what they’re fighting for. And they know how to utilize the people around them to achieve their goals.
(former) Dean Lori Berquam, taken during a Student Leaders' Reception at UW-Madison in October 2017.
(former) Dean Lori Berquam, taken during a Student Leaders' Reception at UW-Madison in October 2017.
This hits me on a personal level, just because I feel like it pushes me to really understand myself within the context of what I do, and how I can utilize my strengths and the people around me to achieve (our) common goals.
It’s not enough for me to just know what I want to accomplish (which, at this point, I have a rough idea of), but also understand exactly where I fit in, what energizes me for this particular goal, and how to mobilize others to actually inspire and motivate them to work towards accomplishing that goal.
That’s one thing for me to ponder on…
How do you draw balances between two conflicting interests?
In our final session on civic engagement, someone asked a very interesting question.
“How do we draw the balance between the your organization’s goals or missions, and the funders’ interests?”
To answer this question, Alan Lightman (founder of the Harpswell Foundation) said something that, yet again, struck another chord with me.
Starting with a personal passion - Alan Lightman
In the context of our session, we were talking about managing social enterprises or non-profit organizations (which would sometimes have funding given by third-parties). Having external funding can create some issues, especially if the stakeholders have different views and expectations about what the funds would be used for, etc.
So, when you start with a personal passion, you turn that passion into a mission / vision for the organization or company that you are managing. Have a clear mission statement and a deep understanding of exactly why you are doing what you do.
This would then help to be a benchmark for you when you are looking for external funders - you can see if the funders have the same values or goals like you do. This saves you from having conflicting interests or clashes in expectations or perspectives.
This is somewhat similar to a previous issue when I wrote about focusing on your personal brand, where you need to understand your non-negotiable(s) in your life.
Understanding exactly what your values are in life can help you to avoid companies who might have conflicting values as you, or ensuring that you don’t end up in a situation where you have to choose between your job or your personal belief(s) or value(s).
Moving forward from now on.
Since the leadership program had to be cancelled due to the whole pandemic situation, I’m crossing my fingers to actually attend it in-person next year (which they have yet to confirm the dates). We’ve only had short, one-hour daily sessions for the past week, but I’ve learnt quite a lot and the topics we talked about challenged me in ways that I’ve been (shamefully) avoiding for the past few years.
Anyhow - I hope that little bit of sharing has been useful for you! Before I sign off for the week, I do have a few more news and updates for you:
First up: I updated my blog - finally! It only took me two full months to write a new post, but, here it is nevertheless.
My May & June 2020 expenses update. My May & June 2020 expenses update.
Second: on Friday, 24th July 2020, I will be hosting two different career-related sessions for university students and graduates.
The first session is the fourth session of my Job Search 101 class. It’s a 2-hour class geared towards equipping graduates and students on the skills necessary to efficiently search and apply for jobs, as well as ways to increase their chances in the job market.
If you are a fresh graduate or a final year university student (or know anyone who would benefit from it) - do sign up!
Job Search 101 - Improve your employability! - Silent Confessions
I will also be hosting a free 1-hour workshop/session on personal branding for university students & graduates. This is a personal initiative that I’m doing, just because I get a lot of people asking questions like “What jobs do I apply for?” and “How do I compete with other graduates out there?
I have to thank my friends at Seeds Job Fair (thank you Aiman & Fathin!) for helping me to set up the workshop and allowing me to use their platform to host the session. Do sign up now and share it with your friends and juniors who might benefit from it.
The session will also be streamed on Facebook Live, so you can follow Silent Confessions for any updates! :)
Personal Branding for University Students & Graduates by Syaza Nazura
Whoopsie, I think this is a pretty long issue already. I guess that’s my cue to stop writing for now.
Until I see you again in two weeks, stay awesome & take care everyone!

Nazu xx
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