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Convergence 2011: From Success to Significance

facedel1Greetings Readers! In this post I will be sharing about Convergence 2011 - How Convergence came about, My thoughts about Convergence 2011, The Future of Convergence and Lessons Learnt from Convergence 2011. I have purposely left it until now to write about as I have needed over a week to digest the event that was Convergence.

How Convergence came about.

It started with an idea I scribbled down in my Moleskine on 18th December 2010. All I wrote down was “VIP Launch Party 2011”. I jotted down a few brands I wanted to work with. BMW, Red Bull, Body Shop, etc. That was it. No other notes. No additional dot points. What exactly this “VIP Launch Party” looked like, I had no clue. “It will come to me” I thought. Daringly, I immediately put up a QR Coded post (18th December 2010) which read “Greetings Readers! Thank you for your support throughout 2010. What a year it has been! 2011 is going to be bigger and better for Projek Brunei, and here’s a secret – I am planning a VIP Launch Party. Shh… Stay tuned for details. 8) Big Love!” I parked the idea in my mind and left the engine on.

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The first half of 2011 flew by as I transitioned from Adelaide back to life in Brunei. By June 2011, I revisited the idea and decided that “if I am going to do this, it has to be special”. As I decided that, I also recognized that organizing Convergence would be a risk. I say “risk” because it was based on three primary assumptions. One, I assumed that people needed to be inspired, motivated and challenged. Two, I assumed that people wanted to be inspired, motivated and challenged. Three, I assumed that there would be corporate sponsors who also believed in my initial two assumptions.

For the event to be special, I needed a special venue. I immediately thought about the BMW Brunei showroom. (Yes, immediately.) I walked into their showroom for the first time on 13th July 2011 and pitched the vision and idea about the event. I must have been in there for a good 30 minutes pitching my heart out! By 27th July 2011, I received an email and the first line read “…after discussing your proposal with our General Manager, we have decided that we would like to work with Projek Brunei in this Networking –Speaker Event…” It was from that moment on I knew the Convergence was going to be special.

Photograph taken at the BMW Brunei showroom on 13th July 2011, uploaded to PicPlz

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After many more weeks of pitching, preparation, planning, positioning and pursuing, the event partners had been confirmed; BMW Brunei, Standard Chartered Bank Brunei and The Brunei Hotel. Only then did I start head-hunting for the Convergence Core Team. I first approached my mate Zul Fadly. “Bro, I am planning this event. I need a Wing Man.” I then approached Mr Magic, Nadzri. “Dude, I am planning this event. I need an MC.” I then approached another who I will only identify as “Sugar Mama”. “Hey, I am planning this event. I need a second opinion about things.” The Core for Convergence was set. Eventually we also had meetings with the folks from Brunei Halal and the Borneo Bulletin who also proudly backed the Vision.

My thoughts about Convergence 2011

Those who were there that evening might have noticed that before I gave the opening address, I was stuck in a moment. It only lasted a millisecond or two, but it was only then that it hit me. Up until that moment, everything in front of me…the lights, the stage, the crowd, the name tags, the Convergence Team, the signage, the guest speakers, the goodie-bags…had been a figment of my imagination. Looking back at me from the audience were plenty of expectant eyes including those of my wife, my dad, my brother and his wife. I took a breath. “Ladies and Gentlemen…”

I am biased of course, but Convergence 2011 was a success. Over 100 people attended the event (specifically 132) and the mix included people from AITI, the YEAB, BAG Networks, Mix Media Worx, Relentless Entertainment, Project Tunes, Beach Bunch, etc. On average, people who attended were around the 28 years of age mark. There were young executives, start-up’s, Facebook Entrepreneurs, bloggers, folks from the local creative industry…exactly the kind of profile the event was designed for.

The event featured three speakers who were involved in a moderated dialogue session which ran for about an hour. Lai Pei-Si (CEO from Standard Chartered Bank Brunei), Norali Ali Yusop (a blind educational officer from the Ministry of Education) and Dato Hamdillah Wahab (a local entrepreneur) graced the event, fielding questions which centred on “stepping out of your comfort zone”. The three speakers were candid and there were a number of tongue-in-cheek moments. Everyone I have spoken to so far remembers something different from the speakers. For me, there were three points that stick out in my mind. I remember Dato Hamdillah’s advice about not saying ‘yes’ to every business opportunity. I remember Pei-Si’s point about being firm about the choices we make in life. I remember Norali advising those in the latter stages of their life to pursue their dreams.

Note: If you were not there or were there and want to relive the event, check out the audio recordings from the evening courtesy of @TheWheat.

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The Future of Convergence

I would be lying if I said I have no clue about the Future of Convergence. In fact, I have clear intentions and am already sketching up the next one in my mind. It is not my style to spill the beans prematurely, but what I can say is that the overarching theme will remain as “From Success to Significance”. The next session will have the same vibe and direction as the first, but I will say this. The success of Convergence 2011 has given me the confidence to dream bigger and much more clearly for Convergence 2012.

For some, Convergence 2011 was a networking event. For others, it was an evening of inspiration. For others still, it was Brunei’s first youth-led leadership forum. For me, it was a culmination of my journey and life-experiences to date.

I would like to conclude by sharing three lessons learnt from this experience.

You need to have a Dream

I did the dreaming long before I worried about the resources. There is a saying that “good business men gather and calculate resources before they enter into a venture”. There is another that goes “entrepreneurs see the opportunity and then seek out the resources to support the dream”. Both are correct I believe. In the case of Convergence 2011, I did the dreaming first and then I sought the resources.

You need to be Determined

Were there hiccups along the way? Yes. Were there rejections along the way? Yes. Was there discouragement along the way? Yes. Were there people who did not support the Dream? Yes. Did I care? Of course I did…but did I care? No. I was determined. I believed and backed my own dream. I practiced due diligence, crossed my t’s and dotted my i’s, but once I had the necessary approval and paperwork, I chased my dream.

You need to Do

Events do not magically organize themselves. All the dreaming and determination would not have gotten me far either had I not backed up the pair with action. The words of Yoda from Star Wars come to mind: “Do or Do not. There is no try.” I was privileged to have worked with a dynamic team. We made plans, we stuck to the schedule, we worked within the budget, we gave it our best.

Convergence – From Success to Significance.

Part of the Convergence 2011 Team: Sarah, Nur Maajidah, Timothy, Jay, (me), Zul Fadly and Nadzri

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The History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it. ~Winston Churchill

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