THE GLOBE TROTTER’S JOURNAL: The world’s his oyster
I CONSIDER myself extremely fortunate to be doing the things that I do now. I am a global ambassador, a world traveller, a speaker, a businessman, an entrepreneur and a youth advocate.
However, just like you, I enjoy watching Iron Man and The Amazing Race. I have Facebook (Michael Teoh Su Lim) and Twitter (@michaelteoh).
I have family and friends who I love and adore. I am an average Malaysian guy. What sets me apart is that I have an extraordinary mission — I am passionate about youth activism and entrepreneurship.
Most of all, I have an ambition and a belief to change the world, and to lead others to make a difference too.
When I was 15 years old and went to a suburban school here, I didn’t think that in the future, world youth would pick me to go on an expedition to 22 countries, volunteering in humanitarian and environmental projects, meeting world leaders and influencing the course of youth-led and invested projects across the globe.
I was raised in a small town in Chai Leng Park, Seberang Prai. This was where I learnt the two most important values — helping those in need and to share.
My parents ran a tuition centre, and though it sounded like a highly rewarding job, they were never in it for the money.
They were dedicated to providing high-quality education and additional coaching for the poor students in Bukit Mertajam.
And they instilled in me a sense of selflessness and the virtue to serve others.
MUSIC FOR FREE
My grandfather was famous along the beaches of Penang, especially Gurney Drive. He used to play music with rubber leaves. People offered him money to perform on stage and at wedding dinners. However, he simply said: “My music does not come with any price. It is for me to share with the people. They come, listen, clap and leave. People feel happy... This is God’s gift to me, and I want to share it for free.”
His passion to share had an impact on my upbringing which explained a lot about my activities and how I approached life.
I truly believe that sharing inspires other people to take action too. Then they know that they will never walk alone, and that joint efforts and knowledge greatly expand one’s outreach.
The principles of sharing as preached by my late grandfather and the urge to help the poor as fostered by my parents are clearly reflected my interest and involvement in Students-In-Free Enterprise, an entrepreneurship programme I participated in New Zealand.
Like many in school, I was never a public speaker, role model or leader. In fact, I was bullied and isolated because I was not good in sports. I was shy, timid and lacked confidence.
When I was 15 years old, I ran the 100m race for my sports house, but was injured. No one came to my aid. Instead, they laughed and teased me about my dislocated ankle.
That moment was a turning point. I learned that I must be proactive to make a difference to myself and to other people who are at the mercy of others. It is up to ourselves to create and maximise opportunities for a better life.
Looking back, my childhood and schooldays were far from perfect, but they equipped me with the essential skills I needed to be a global ambassador. Most importantly, I am not ashamed of my schooldays because that was what made me who I am today.
My hope is that the stories in this column will be the starting point for them to take on today’s challenges and take action!
Michael Teoh Su Lim is an entrepreneur-turned-speaker who aims to create and share inspiring content to move Malaysians forward. He welcomes feedback at www.michaelteoh.com