Week 29: Bettering the world — Part 2

The sequel, and perhaps the answers, to questions I had a while ago on innovation and entrepreneurship

11 weeks ago, I wrote about the admiration I had for the innovators and entrepreneurs who created things from scratch to better the world. And I wondered to myself — how could I possibly do that? How could I be mighty enough, strong enough, or powerful enough to bring something that doesn’t exist into existence?

Well, it turns out the answer is that I did not have to be.

The world as a whole benefits most when you do something new or when you do it better or differently

— Roger W Babson

I spent the last week at Babson College in the Babson Entrepreneurship Program, which explains why I didn’t have the luxury of thinking time to write this week’s (or rather, week 29’s) story. So I am writing this at 6.21 a.m. as I sit awake in bed, in Boston; still a little jet lagged, but having had time to process my thoughts on this study trip.

Apart from it being an amazing experience and turning out to be the best 5 days of bonding with my classmates, it also helped me realise that innovation and entrepreneurship didn’t necessarily have to mean making something out of nothing (in fact, we had a session that was all about stealing business models).

And so, that would also mean that making an impact on the world can be as straightforward (read: straightforward, not easy) as taking something that already exists and making slight improvements to it.

One day, over what I’d initially thought was a casual breakfast chat, our new Academic Director introduced to us the theory of marginal gains, using the British Cycling team as an example. Sir Dave Brailsford, former performance director of British Cycling, believed that if you make a 1% improvement in a host of tiny areas, the cumulative benefits would be extraordinary.

That breakfast conversation opened up my mind to the things that were within our reach to make the world better, to make ourselves better. Maybe it was the fact that we were away from home, away from the routine and responsibilities of our day-to-days, but this last week has left me feeling extremely inspired to go try something, do something, anything!

The Grand Canyon wasn’t formed in a day, or a week, or a month, or a year. It took millions of years of the Colorado River cutting through layers of rock for it to be what it is today. Perhaps the same logic applies to changing the world; you do it 1% at a time. And even if change may not be evident immediately, maybe we just need to have faith that change is happening, whether we see it or not.

Bonus picture: We were required to do a shark tank-esque pitch at the end of our week in Babson, and here’s my Shark Tank team in front of the Babson Globe. We had (what I felt was) one of the greatest team dynamics, but maybe a story for another time. 😊

I packed up 8 years of my life in Melbourne in December 2021 to move to Singapore to be closer to home and also to explore the world outside of what I already knew. This is a year-long series of weekly reflections on #myvoyagehome. Thank you for being a part of my journey.

Week 28: It’s “goodbye”, again

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Wen Xin (Gwen)

Welcome to my thoughts and documentation of life’s adventures.