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So when I was younger, my friend and I had a dream that we would open up our very own pie shop.
We knew what pies we will serve; we knew where we wanted our shop to be located;
we even knew the name we wanted to call our shop.
And I was thinking about all of this because I'm currently in my fifth year.
In my last semester, I have one month left to school and I have no idea what I'm gonna do when I graduate.
I was complaining to a friend of mine, a very dear friend of mine
that I was so annoyed because all of these people that were asking me “Eunice, what are you gonna do when you graduate?”
In my first week here at school, 29 people asked me what are you gonna do when you graduate.
And I was complaining to my friend of mine, and she showed me this photo.
(ASK ME WHAT I'M DOING AFTER GRADUATION ONE MORE TIME)
Needless to say, I was really tempted to run home and change my Facebook profile picture, but I didn't.
But I did have some big questions that I wanted answered,
and I wanted some career advice, some solid career advice that would guide me.
So I did a quick Google search of top career advice that's out there,
and let me tell you, there's a lot of advice that you do not wanna go through.
But I wanna share some of that with you here today.
One entrepreneur said that you should just do what caters to your strength. If you're good at it, just go do it.
But then she ended her article by saying just do anything, really, so I was kinda confused.
One artist said: “Just move to New York.”
Another writer said: “Don't move to New York if you want to be happy.”
And one CEO said: “Whatever you do, just listen to your dad.”
I can see some Dads nodding today.
But the top advice that I found, this theme that came over and over again was the theme of
“Do what you love. Follow you passion.”
And Steve Jobs even went so far to say in his commencement address to the Stanford Graduating class of 2005.
He said “Don't settle for anything less than work that you love.”
And this is the theme that I see when I looked to role models of mine:
Mother Teresa, who devoted herself to helping others,
Muhammad Yunus, who I love not just because his name sounds like mine,
but because he eradicated poverty in many areas,
and by basically, developing this concept to microfinance when he started the Grameen Bank
and empowering women to become the breadwinners in their family.
And Nora Ephron, who was able to turn every tragedy in her life into a comedic masterpiece.
She wrote movies like When Harry Met Sally.
And I looked at these people and whether you admire them or not,
the point is that you could substitute any of your role models into these slots.
And I guarantee you that they would be passionate about the work they do, too.
And it seems to me that it's this big question that graduates have.
It's this question of choice. Do I go down this road where I choose what I love,
this passion of mine, where there's probably more uncertainty?
Or do I go down this other road, and get a job, find some financial security,
and maybe worry about loving life later on?
Which one do I choose? Or maybe I find a road in the middle if I'm lucky.
For the past three years, I've actually erred on the side of telling students to choose their passions.
In my second year of university, I co-founded an amazing project called “The Passion Project.”
And with a dear friend of mine and my roommate at the time, Tarini Fernando.
And Tarini and I had these two big frustrations.
It was the middle of December, 2009,
and if you are a student, too, you know this is a very bleak time, it's the middle of the exams.
Um, and we just got to talking one night, we had these two big frustrations.
We had, on the one hand, this frustration that we weren't doing what we love anymore because we were too busy studying,
and we saw our fellow students in the same predicament.
And on the other hand, um, all of these students wanted to make a difference in their communities, but they didn't necessarily know how.
And we are wrestling with these two questions of how do we do more what we love and how do we make a difference in our community.
And so we thought can we answer these two questions in one project.
And so “Passion Project” was formed. We had no resources, no funding.
We didn't even really know how to explain this concept that we had in our minds to our peers, but nevertheless, we went ahead with that.
And we've had some amazing successes.
The first event that we put on was a concert at the Pit Pub,
and we got just under a hundred students to come out.
We raised just under a thousand dollars for charities that all the musicians chose.
Another event that we had was a photography exhibition, which you can see in the bottom corner.
And again all the money that we raised went to charities that the photographers chose.
And over the years, we wanted to move away from this financial model of doing things where we solely donated money to charities that the artist chose.
And we wanted to take a more hands-on approach and how we made a difference in our community.
And so we partnered with the UBC community learning initiative in February of this year,
and we put on a three-day reading week project in areas of slam poetry and photography, and music.
And we worked with great successes in seveners, I don't know if that's a word, seveners.
Um, in a local inner-city elementary school here in Vancouver,
and one of my favorite stories that came from those three days was
there was a little guy named Sam, and Sam….
didn't want to share anything that he wrote in his slam poetry workshops
Um, the poets that were in the project -- Mike and Frances and Alberto -- they worked with him every day.
“Sam, you know it's okay, you can get up and share what you've written.”
Um, and we came to this last day, and he still, was reluctant to share, he's really shy.
But we had the assembly that contained the whole school,
and Sam gets up in front of the whole school,
and shares not just the poem, but a full-on rap.
And I thought that it was a huge testament the courage that can be born if you are really passionate about something.
So we've had these successes. It's been three years. The project is still running now,
and two amazing women, Rigica and Efron now run it. And that's still going on in BBC.
And all this time, I was looking at it, and I thought that we weren't doing anything wrong. I thought we were doing a great thing here.
I thought that we were the leading students on the right track.
And then I read this article in the Harvard Business Review.
And I can only compare this article to torrential rain on a beautiful summer's day.
It was the type of article that I needed to take deep breaths while reading.
It was the type of article that I needed to put down and go for a long walk, and then come back to.
And it was the type of article that really made me question if we are doing the right thing with the Passion Project.
And, yeah, we're just doing the right thing and leading students on a good path.
So by now, you're probably wondering if you haven't read this article, what the authors of this article said.
Cal Newport, a professor who wrote this article. He said three main things.
The first is that our generation, generation Y,
so that's everyone born from 1983 to 2007, so before and after that, you're in the clear.
Um, he said that our generation is known as lazy, as pampered, as high maintenance,
actually one critic said that we're the hardest generation to maintain when we come into the workforce.
And the New York Post called us the worst generation ever.
Cal Newport then went on to say that it all boils down to the fact that our generation is entitled,
and that entitlement actually comes from the fact that we've been told over and over again to follow our passions.
In fact, he showed this graph from Google Analytics that shows
the rise in the amount of time that the phrase “follow your passion” has been published in English language.
And as you can see, there is a dramatic increase in the years when generation Y, or generation within our childhood years,
when we were young and impressionable, and didn't know any better and took this advice.
Cal then concludes that the only solution to this problem, this problem of us being the worst generation in history,
is to completely throw out this advice, “follow your passion”.
I heard a gasp, haha.
So it was a little devastating, but that was the end of it.
But the first thing that really struck me was the fact that we are called the worst generation. I had no idea
when critic said that we're probably too busy at home on Facebook to really notice.
So, I wanted to see; I wanted to understand if we're really the worst generation.
And I wanted to kind of study the generations before us to see are we really the worst generation.
So I wanna invite you on this tour that I took. We're gonna call it the Generation History Tour.
So I want you to imagine that you're in an art gallery.
But instead of art on the walls, each piece of art is actually a generation.
So I want you to walk with me down this long hallway that's in the art gallery.
And the first piece that we come to is the “silent generation”
that's the generation of our great grandparents and our grandparents.
They were children that grew up in tons of war and depression.
They were children that grew up to build great institutions and bureaucracies.
And they didn't like risk. They were much more adapters.
If we walk to this next picture, we see the “boom generation”
that's the generation of our parents, the baby boomers.
They took more risks. One critic said that they were self-absorbed yuppies.
And they were the age of Flower Power, Flower Power, and really rebelled and questioned authority.
If we walk to the next generation, we see “Generation X”, those just above us.
Those are the ones who many say are children of divorce, so they have much resilience in them.
Uh, they were big risk takers.
And then we come to our generation.
I've chose this mosaic, which I will come back to later to represent our generation.
A technically-savage generation, we invented Facebook and Twitter.
We demand work-life balance.
And the title of this generation is the worst generation.
So even after taking that huge tour of all these generations before us,
I still had no clear answers as to whether we are the worst generation.
And I thought to myself, maybe I really do have to accept all of these critics saying we are the worst generation.
And maybe I really do have to accept that this advice “Follow your passion” was really to blame.
But we're completely refused to accept Cal Newport's article,
was the work he says the only solution is to throw out this advice.
I refuse to believe that, we can't become, we can't become a better generation and follow our passion.
I don't think the two are mutual exclusive.
And so I think that we can become a better generation and follow our passion at the same time.
But maybe we just have to remember a couple of things along the way while we're following our passions.
So the first is, we can follow our passions, but remember to work hard.
Uh, where generations before us, grew up in times of wars and depressions,
I would argue that our generation has probably grown up in a much easier time, and so,
for me, myself personally, I don't know if I really know the meaning of “hard work”.
We can follow our passions, but not expected to necessarily be our jobs.
I went to this talk from this furniture designer, named Martha Sturdy,
she designs amazing furniture and art.
And I went to her talk, expecting her to talk about her work.
But instead, she spent the entire talk talking about courses, which is her true passion.
And it just made me realize that here is this woman who is incredibly passionate,
but it wasn't necessarily her work.
We can follow our passions even if we don't necessarily know what it is yet.
Juliet Child, this legendary woman who is known for bringing French cuisine to America.
She didn't know that she'd love to cook. She didn't even know how to cook until while into her mid-40s.
And we can follow our passions, but we have to remember that passion is a privilege.
About a year ago, Tarini Fernando, the other co-founder of “Passion Project”, she wrote a blog post about how passion is a privilege.
And it's something that I've taken with me all of this time. It's a photo from our latest events.
Uh, so many of us can only follow our passions because maybe our parents worked very hard and
gave us opportunities that they themselves never had.
And so we can follow our passions with gratitude.
Some of you in the room may be wondering what about student loans.
I have so many bills to pay. Passion is the last thing I'm thinking about.
I would actually have to argue with you that you've living in one of the best times to follow your passion.
There's so many examples out there of men and women who were following their passions without even leaving their responsibilities.
If we look at sites like Etsy, you can sell anything that you make at home online.
If we look at other websites like Kickstarter,
men and women start businesses without any money. They just post the idea online,
and people from around the world donate money to their idea.
I actually also read an article about a woman who landed her dream internship just by tweeting an executive from a major corporation.
So there's so many ways and which you can reach out to communities.
Just from where you are, you don't need to, to fly to New York.
The biggest lesson I've learnt didn't come from any of my role models.
They actually came from looking at our project passion framework.
This um, diagram, was designed by a woman named Jacky Chang. She's an amazing designer,
and she designed this diagram for us just to explain better to people what we do with the Passion Project.
And the biggest lesson I've learnt, about following our passions, is that
it doesn't mean anything to follow passions if it isn't in the service of others.
And so we need to spend just as much time discovering what our passions are
as we do understanding the needs in which the communities that we live in.
And that's where the true potential lies.
There's a quote by a theologian named Frederic Buechner, who said that
your vocation is where your passion meets the world's greatest need.
Your vocation is where your passion meets the world's greatest need.
I'd like to think of it as simple economics, where your passion is the supply and the world' greatest need is the demand.
And we need to find that sweet spot, that intersection between the two.
It's not about choosing our passions or choosing to not follow our passions.
It's really about marrying our passions to a greater purpose in the communities that we live in.
As I was writing this talk, I was losing a lot of confidence in what I was saying
because when I look to all of the people who write amazing career advice out there,
there are really successful people in this world; there are people who have made it so to speak.
And who am I to be giving this advice to you when I haven't even made a dent in what I'm supposed to do when I graduate.
And out of nowhere, I heard Nelson Mandela say
that quote about how our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure.
And then he goes on to say who are you not to be, who are you not to be bold and beautiful.
And so I turn this question back to you if we go back to the mosaic that I've chosen to represent our generation,
I want you to imagine that you are one piece in that mosaic,
one tiny piece and you have the power to change what critics are saying about our generation that's currently called the worst generation for now.
And I ask you, you little piece of mosaic, you,
I ask you, who are you not to be, who are you not to choose passionate and purposeful lives.
And to all of those people who still ask me “Eunice, what are you gonna do when you graduate”,
I have to tell you that I still have no idea.
But I do know that I'm going to be passionate about it. Thank you very much.
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【TEDx】Don't Just Follow Your Passion: A Talk for Generation Y: Eunice Hii at TEDxTerryTalks 2012

35077 Folder Collection
Go Tutor published on February 28, 2015
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