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Jeraldine Phneah: Creator Learnings, Personal vs. Audience Growth and Regret Minimization

· Podcast Episodes,Singapore,Women,Women in Tech,Content Creators

Jeff Bezos, when he was thinking about starting Amazon. So the whole is really the project himself to the point which he's 80 years old, where he regret not making that decision. And the whole idea of this post was actually inspired by something that was happening in my social circles as well. I had a friend who loves her company but received a good offer, a startup, so she was thinking about whether she should make that switch or not. And I was able to advise her based on the Jeff Bezos Regret Minimization Framework, and this is how she came up with the idea to create the content. So a lot of what actually create is some spontaneous and depends on my immediate environment as well. - Jeraldine Phneah

Jeraldine Phneah (彭嘉琳) is a Millennial Content Creator who cares about the challenges and aspirations of her generation. To empower them, she creates content around how Millennials can cope with the high cost of living, build rewarding careers, strive for the best for their families, and lead meaningful lives. She also pushes for policies to uplift her generation. 

When Jeraldine first graduated, she quickly realized that the job market, economy, and the world we live in today are just radically different from that of the previous generation. Jobs were being displaced due to technology, there were cases of discrimination against Singaporeans in our own country; and our starting salaries have not grown as fast as our cost of living. 

From talking to her peers, she learnt that many were dealing with similar challenges. They were anxious about falling behind and not being their ideal self; fearful of not being able to find a career which they could thrive in and overwhelmed with the steep learning curve of adulting.  Through her content, she hopes to share her experiences, learnings and advocate for her generation. 

Ultimately, she believes that all hard working Singaporeans should be given the right tools and support to pursue their dreams, to strive for the best for themselves and their families.

Jeraldine Phneah was listed as the youngest honoree on LinkedIn Top Voices 2020. She was also profiled by Her World Magazine as part of their 60th Anniversary. She is also a recipient of the Women Leading Change Award (Rising Star) by CampaignAsia. She has been featured on Forbes, Channel News Asia, The Straits Times, Lianhe Zaobao, and Cleo Magazine.  

This episode is produced by Kyle Ong.

Jeremy Au (00:00): 

Hi, Jeraldine? Good to see you after so many years. 

Jeraldine Phneah (00:03):Hey, Jeremy. Nice to finally catch up with you. 

Jeremy Au (00:07):Well, we first met all the way back when Archer library when I was in the army, on my weekend studying my SATS desperately trying to go to college. And at a time you were studying for your O-Levels, right? 

Jeraldine Phneah (00:22): Yeah. That's correct. 

Jeremy Au (00:26): 

That has been a definitely a long time ago. And since then you've obviously built an interesting career, not just in being the growth and sales leader in the technology world, but also as a content creator in Singapore, which is a relatively rare profession and combination. And I'm so excited to profile your journey a little bit about what you've encountered on the way. So, Jeraldine for those who don't know you yet, how would you describe yourself to someone? 

Jeraldine Phneah (00:54): 

So for those who are unfamiliar with me and my work, so just to introduce myself, my name is Jeraldine and I care about the challenges and aspirations of our generation. So I create content around how we millennials, can actually cope with the high cost of living, build rewarding careers, as well as live more meaningful lives. At the same time, because I've built quite a bit of a following and a platform to speak up for our generation, sometimes I also critique policies, to try and push for policies that could actually benefit our generation as well. 

Jeremy Au (01:30): 

Wow. That's quite a bit. And for those, I think you sell yourself short a little bit because you're definitely one of the top content creators in Singapore, especially in these domains from my perspective. So I think for me, let's go back in time, right? So there was in the Army, trying to get to college and there you were studying O-Level. And eventually you went to NTU. So you chose an interesting degree back then, right? Which was that you started out as a bachelor in communication studies and journalism and public policy and global affairs. So what was driving that initial degree choice all the way back then? 

Jeraldine Phneah (02:10): 

So back then when I was choosing the university courses to take, I thought that communications studies would be a great platform for me because I always have been interested in media and media's role in society, right? To be able to disseminate messages, to be able to help to inform people out there about what is going on and stuff like that. That's why I chose this field of study. But of course, I chose to also take courses in public policy and global affairs as well because writing about, maybe the more lifestyle topics like beauty and fashion wasn't really my thing. And I was really passionate about, "Okay, how can we actually use media and also use communications to improve our world," right? So that made me also take many humanities courses related to public policy and global affairs in order to find out like, "Okay, how can I to marry these two together to create something more meaningful?" 

Jeremy Au (03:06): 

Wow. And what did you learn from those classes? Did you feel like they were fun, did you feel they were boring? Did you feel like they were eye opening? Where there any particular classes that stood out for you? 

Jeraldine Phneah (03:18): 

So for me communications classes was pretty much interesting as well. So it gave me a good foundation in, "How do I write in a way that actually captures people's attention? How do I use tools like storytelling and analogies and stuff like that?" But the key fulfilling for my university journey will be two components. First of all, will be the minor that I took in public policy and global affairs because that really opened my eyes to different ways of thinking, right? And different ways of looking at our society. At the same time, the other component of my university education that really helped me a lot was actually my exchange program to citizen, as well as the internship that I had in Hong Kong. So I actually went to Hong Kong to do a journalism internship. 

Jeremy Au (04:03): 

So there you are doing journalism and that's when you start obviously, some of your work in interning is local news report, but that's also when you started your blogging dynamic, right? So what was the inspiration for you to start blogging at university? 

Jeraldine Phneah (04:21): 

I actually started off as a current affairs blogger. So that actually happened during my time in Hong Kong, right? Working as a local news reporter. And I was actually covering a lot of issues related to Hong Kong. And that was a really dynamic time to be in Hong Kong as well because that was when the whole Joshua Wong thing was like starting and everything. And he really inspired me to see Hong Kong people being so passionate about creating a better future for their society, especially the students and stuff like that. 

So I thought that that particular aspect was something that was meaningful, and I wanted to think about how as a Singaporean youth could actually influence and impact my society as well? So that's when I started to write about current affairs, follow news in Singapore closely as well. So my day job would be just writing about Hong Kong news but when I went home at night, I'll be catching up on all the current affairs that was happening in Singapore, all the local news, and then thinking about how I could actually write it in a way that was simple and share my opinions in a way that is easy to digest, right? For my peers as well. So this way, I actually started off my blogging journey. 

Jeremy Au (05:32): 

Wow. And that's pretty interesting because there you are and you're blogging about current affairs in Hong Kong, and then somewhere along the way, you start really focusing on personal finance or career on things that really appeal to millennials and Generation Z folks in Singapore and Southeast Asia. So how did that transition happen for you? 

Jeraldine Phneah (05:55): 

Yeah. This is a question that I get really often, right? Like why do you actually make that slow transition from current affairs to personal finance careers and more personal growth topics? So basically, what happened was that when I started my blog and writing about current affairs, I was actually in year three at university. And of course, back then I wasn't really exposed to the working world and society yet, right? So when I actually graduated, that's when the change happened because I quickly realized that the job market, the economy, and just the world that we live in today is just radically different from that of the previous generations. So some of the challenges that our generation would face would be things like jobs being displaced as a result of technology, or maybe cases of discrimination against Singaporeans, right? In our own country. And just having a situation whereby our starting salaries definitely not grow as fast as things like housing prices, or maybe because of weddings and stuff like that. 

So that was all the challenges that I was looking at. And it got me thinking, basically, if I were to just focus on policy changes alone and writing about that, then it's really more like a long term solution. Because obviously, policy has a role to play in society and can actually shape the outcome, right? Of people's lives. However, one is actually needed on a more immediate basis will be actions that people can take on their own. And that got me interested in writing about how millennials can actually better navigate things like their careers, their personal finances, work-life balance, and all that, so that they will be able to, like I mentioned cope with the high cost of living, build a rewarding career, and as well as the more meaningful lives. Because ultimately, for our generation, the aspirations is broader than just things like starting families and all that. It sometimes includes having the freedom to travel of course, not during a COVID-19 period, but just to pursue things we are passionate about and even give back to the society also. 

Jeremy Au (07:53): 

Yeah. That's amazing. And it's interesting because you're blogging what you know, right? And we're both millennials and you're very much blogging about your own, I guess entry into workforce and the dynamics of personal finance there, right? I'm just kind of curious, obviously, when you start writing out, it can feel like you're writing to nobody, right? Because I run blogs, I use like Tumblr, LiveJournal and Blogspot. So and very much at that time a lot of blogging was really about blogging to your friends, right? So you're like, you wrote on the internet and you only expected maybe five to 10 friends, and then you get frustrated when a friend wasn't supposed to be your blog reads your blog, I guess somehow we expected the blogs on internet to be private. 

And obviously, that's every body starts like a blogger like that, but for you started realizing at some point that you're getting an audience, right. So I'm just curious, when did you start noticing that people outside your immediate circle of friends and your parents were starting to read your blog? 

Jeraldine Phneah (09:07): 

So for me back then it was, for my parents was of course, they would tell me that they were reading my blog, and they would tell me that their friends are reading my blog as well. So they got me a little bit concerned like, "Okay, I should really do my best to not say anything that is too offline and all that." And at the same time for my social circle basically, people were giving me good feedback. And I was getting a lot of messages and following from people who are my immediate circle as well. So that's really one of the great things about blogging because you get to expand your social circle and to meet many interesting new people. I would say that my life is really enriched because of blogging, I get to meet so many new advertisers. I meet people who are fellow bloggers as well, even get to know a little bit more about my audiences, so it's really expanded my social circle significantly. 

Jeremy Au (09:56): 

Did you ever remember your first, I don't know, reader, fan mail or comments, do you remember anything about that? 

Jeraldine Phneah (10:06): 

So of course, compliments are always welcome. And when I received them, I feel really happy although there's none that I significantly remember at the beginning stages because that's been such a long time ago. However, one feedback from a reader that I received last year that was actually super impactful to me was, back then it was during the circuit breaker period, right? So I was actually churning out a lot of content for fresh graduates specifically because I know what it's like to be in that position whereby you don't have a job waiting for you, so you're actually going out and sending CVs and then looking for your first job and everything. And back then I think that our fresh graduates at a point in time, and of course in today's context as well, they're also struggling because some of them had their offers to sign that and all that. 

So what happened was that I actually posted some content around that, how do you get a better starting salary, right? Because obviously your starting salary is important, it can actually impact your future salaries as well. So one reader actually wrote to me and told me that because of my article and my content, he managed to get a $500 increase per month, right? So that's really wonderful, it's like a tangible outcome and impact on him. And that actually adds up to about 6000 per year, so I was really, really happy. And this is really one of the feedback that I actually remember the most. 

In addition to the good stuff, obviously, putting yourself out there and being a content creator also comes with the negative aspects as well, which I really struggled with at the beginning of my journey. This was partly due to a myriad of reasons obviously. Back then I think of a lot younger and more impulsive so I wasn't being responsible fully, right? About the way that I actually express myself. And also, probably I wasn't equipped with the kind of maturity and tech to be able to convey my thoughts in a good way. 

Another factor will of course be sexism as well because being a woman in fields like current affairs, personal finance career, that is a male dominated field as well. So people be like, Who is this trying to preach about all these hobbies and trying to be smart and everything. The starting part was definitely a struggle for me. And being someone who takes my work very seriously obviously, I would focus a little bit more on the negative parts, right? Rather than the positive sides. But I guess over the years, partly because I've managed to prove myself through consistent effort and improve the way I engage with people, as well as the way I carry myself. This amount of haters, I guess have gone down significantly. And these days, I don't even receive angry comments at all because I've already earned my stripes in a sense in this aspect. Yeah. 

Jeremy Au (12:49): 

Wow. I think there's a lot of truth there, right? I think it's a common part obviously, very real, right? Which is, that's the good and the bad. And then the bad is driven by a lot of factors. Some of it is within our control like you said and some of it is really upon the reader, right? And the person making a decision to leave those comments. So I guess when you started writing and creating obviously, here you started with current affairs. And you kind of hinted at this, right? You started getting stronger and better at framing in a more positive approach, being less impulsive. Could you share a little bit more about what you mean by that? What specific steps or changes did you make and how did you learn them? 

Jeraldine Phneah (13:34): 

The best way to illustrate this would be to share a few of my approach in the past, and then compare it to my approach to the present. So in the past, I guess someone who is like 21, 32 years old, right? I'll just pick whatever's on my mind without any filter. And of course, it's nice to some people because they find it super refreshing and all that. But at the same time, as a content creator you cannot just be preaching to the people who already agree with you because that wouldn't really make sense, right? You're just like preaching to the choir and having this whole circle of people who just agree with each other and all that. You want to be able to reach out to people who are apart from on the other middle ground, who are undecided, or maybe even hold a different view from you. 

So I knew that I had to reach this group and my current approach will not work because it's actually getting them to be more upset at me rather than to win them over, right? So I came up with a framework on how to actually engage others. And I stuck through it pretty religiously. So basically, the three values that I use when it comes to public engagement will be things that being rational. So trying to back up everything that I say with some facts and information. Obviously, facts and information that will change people's minds because there's also a lot of factors involved. However, it does help to establish some form of credibility. 

And the second value that I use is actually being responsible. So that means to say not use my influence is a platform to stir up anger, strong emotions and things like that. But rather to be able to convey my thoughts in a way that is part will be more assertive, but not to the point of aggressive. At the same time, not being personal, right? With the way I engage but always sticking to attacking the situation and the points rather than the person as well. Which is sometimes a challenge, right? Especially when the other party is getting all emotional and everything, you have to keep your cool and to be able to talk to people in a good way also. 

And of course the third aspect would be to be respectful. So again, of course, not relying on personal attacks but really using attacking the points, and to be able to state my views in a calm, confident and also positive way. So these are the three values I abide by being rational, respectful and responsible in the way that I engage others as well. So something else that I also employ in order to convey my points better would actually be to think of what are the possible counter arguments first, and try to address them first before actually stating my views. 

And the third thing that I did was really trying to soften my messaging. So sometimes instead of stating a point as it is, I will frame it in the context of a question so that it invites engagement, right? Rather than me stating my points directly. And sometimes peppering it with words like maybe, I might be wrong, my guess is, and stuff like that, these are things that really softens the whole message as well, and it helps to make it more palatable to whoever may disagree, or whoever who may consume the content. 

Jeremy Au (16:46): 

Wow. Those are very thoughtful, both as a bullet points to abide by but also as a framework, right? The rational, responsible and respectful. I think what's interesting of course, is that it feels like that's the approach you're taking but it feels like the world is drifting the other way around, right? It's maybe the stuff that really gets eyeballs, the clicks, is the stuff that's irrational, irresponsible and disrespectful, right? So it feels like you're going against the grain a little bit, against what gets the clicks and the comments, right? So what do you think about that? 

Jeraldine Phneah (17:24): 

If someone were to engage in a way that is irrational, not respectful and not responsible, perhaps maybe they could succeed in getting the eyeballs at the beginning and getting the viewership and traction. However, what I am looking for when it comes to engaging my audience is not attention. What I'm thinking of is two things, right? One is, how do I build trust with them and how do I add value to them? So if these two things are my objective, building trust and adding value, then obviously, the approach that I'm taking in the form of being rational, respectful and responsible is something that would actually work much better for me. 

Jeremy Au (18:04): 

Yeah. I get it. It's really about what you want to do and build in your terms, right? And I think the interesting part of course is just like, I think that's a fair answer, right? But just like saying, "This is my audience and I want to be this way versus the world's going this." It feels like either way, but I guess what do you feel about the world going the other way? 

Jeraldine Phneah (18:26): 

Yes. I do see instances online where people are being of course, disrespectful to each other and is being irresponsible about the way to share things, right? All of us are in WhatsApp groups, when we receive information, sometimes it may not be true and stuff. So this the state of the world and these are things that we cannot directly control because we cannot control how other people are talking and stuff like that. So I guess as content creators, what we can do is actually set good example by sticking to our values, and also to work towards educating our audience, right? And influencing them the positive way on how engagement could be done. So they learn that it doesn't have to be this way, right? You can obviously, achieve your objectives sometimes in a much more effective way, if you have to communicate in a style that is more, I would say grounded I guess. 

Jeremy Au (19:22): 

Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. And so, you've always done a lot of what I call longer form stuff, right? Stuff that's a little bit more substantive than the classic 2000s blog, which was very much like hashtag influencers about fashion and, obviously nothing wrong with that, I think they're focusing on the niche, right? Is about retail, luxury and lifestyle. So those tend to be more visual oriented, shorter form, right? Whereas yours is very much what I call longer form narrative. And it feels like there's a bit of a groundswell, maybe you're like a pioneer, right? Because now we see the rise of Substack and all these authors who are trying to do more of these more longer form pieces. You also see the rise of corporate site staff doing long form educational content like, other like, and etc. So why do you think do you see that this trend towards, like you said more longer form content versus the visual and short form? 

Jeraldine Phneah (20:23): 

Yeah. Indeed, I agree with your observation that it seems to be much more long form content that is appearing on the web. And I guess it's really due to... The good thing about being a content creator is that you attract people who actually care about the same things. And who actually have the same values as you, it's not that they would not actually come and consume your content and engage with you as well. So that is one of the factors, right? First of all is of course, being able to use the internet as a platform to form your own tribes. And also because I guess we millennials are growing, entering the adult stage as well. So in addition to, of course, the usual content like beauty, fashion and luxury, there is also a demand for content that actually impacts other areas in our lives. So for instance like the career content, the finance content as well. So there's another factor that actually causes this increase in interest in long form content. 

And the third factor also will be the rise of platforms like LinkedIn. So LinkedIn used to be this platform where we go and upload a resume and then bye-bye kind of thing, right? But right now LinkedIn is actually approaching it in a more like, okay, they want to create their own LinkedIn creators as well and stuff like that. So LinkedIn has been wonderful platform for me to actually engage millennials and also to be able to engage other people as well. 

Jeremy Au (21:37): 

Yeah. That makes a lot of sense, right? You've been a LinkedIn top influencer over last year. And I think part of it like you said it's because the millennials and Gen Z used to only be on Facebook, right? And then now we're on LinkedIn now trying to look like we know our stuff, right? And I think it's good to get content that's really relevant. When you look at your demographics of your audience, I'm just kind of curious, in my brain my assumption would be like lots of millennials and Gen Z for my assumption is that evenly split between genders, my assumption is a lot of Singaporeans. Is there a fair perspective of what your audience looks or is there any insights you want to share about your audience? 

Jeraldine Phneah (22:24): 

Yeah. Actually you described my situation correctly. So right now it is the case of having equal balance between men and women, having a lot of millennials, Gen Zs, and also having Singaporeans. But previously in the past, when I was writing about current affairs, I used to have an older audience group, those people who are maybe 10 years older than me and predominantly male. So I made a really concerted effort on how can I actually engage women as well? And how can actually engage the likes of a younger generation, and then there's really wonky reasons why my content has shifted as well into more actionable, short term measures that people can take that could really impact their lives. 

Jeremy Au (23:07): 

Yeah. Audience growth is always one of those tough things for content creators, right? Because there's one part of it is like, "This is the stuff that's really easy for me to create." And then the second is like, "This is the content that will help me grow into the audience that I desire to." So it's a bit of a Venn diagram, could you share maybe some of the topics or ways that you design or structure your content so that you could move from that older male audience towards your current audience? 

Jeraldine Phneah (23:39): 

So first of all, of course, changing the topics that I write about. So rather than new policy, articles and stuff like that, which is obviously interesting and engaging as well, I started to focus on more personal finance career topics that would actually appeal to a much younger group. And I guess that because I'm female, as well, I could also attract people who are actually similar to me because they could identify with me as well, and that's how I managed to get more female following also. So changing the topic is one approach. 

And of course being more, I guess changing the way I engage basically. So like I shared previously, I was just fireball, right? Being very impulsive in the way that I engage the audience and state my views and stuff like that. But when you enter a talk of more, I will say like mellow, brown, that kind of gentle approach, sometimes you can actually draw in a different crowd as well. So these are the two factors that really helped me to shift and make this transition to different topics, and also to engage in different audience segments. 

Jeremy Au (24:40): 

So a lot of people are always wondering about how do you grow your audience, right? So shifting your audience, that makes sense, is straightforward. But I think the part that every content creator, every influencer, every blogger, every podcaster, every writer, every TikToker, it is really going to be about how do they grow the audience, right? And that feels like the more people, the better and so forth. How do you think about audience growth as a content creator in Singapore and Southeast Asia? 

Jeraldine Phneah (25:11): 

There are a few things that I've done as a content creator that's helped me to grow my audience over time. First factor is really knowing your audience, right? Just like how businesses are always talking about being customer centric, know your customer, the same goes for being a content creator, you have to know who your audience is. So this means thinking about from their perspective, what kind of content they would like to see. So in order to do that, I actually come up with what we call audience empathy map, right? Where I try to think from different perspectives like what are the pain that they're going through? What kind of aspirations that they have and that they want in life? What is their experiences? What are the emotions they feel? And trying to go through the entire journey from that someone is feeling from the point in which they graduate from school all the way to their first, second and third jobs and how they navigate other aspirations in life, right? And wanting to contribute back, or maybe give more to their elderly parents and probably start a family as well. So I try to think from all these perspectives. 

And then using an audience entry approach, I do craft content related to that that actually specifically addresses maybe some of the key challenges that they could be facing as well. So being audience centric is the first point that I would like to actually share. That's helped me become successful in growing my audience. And that's actually the most important point. 

The second one is actually of course being familiar with the technology, right? That powers this entire thing. I had to pick up things like social media, marketing, email marketing and search engine optimization. So this involves being updated about social media algorithms and of course, search engine changes as well. So technology aspect is another one. And even things like UX, how do you structure a website that actually encourages people to click more, to actually further discover your content as well? So technology is the second aspect. 

And the third aspect is of course, how do you manage your community, right? Because you can't just be putting content out there but not responding. I make time and think about how can I actually respond to people when they ask questions and stuff like that? Of course, I won't say that I am able to respond 100% because I'm actually juggling this content creator role with my main job, but I try to answer as many of the questions that I receive as possible. 

And I guess the last factor that actually influences your blog's growth is basically how well do you actually work with other stakeholders? So being active about forming relationships with other content creators as well, and also trying to be able to work better with the media, with advertisers, these are some skills that I had to learn along the way also when it comes to running the operations side of my blog. 

Jeremy Au (27:53): 

So that's an interesting part, right? Which is that while you've been busy building all these content creator, you've been holding a series of main jobs as well. You've definitely been both a leader, both in the marketing and sales role, which of course is I guess quite a synergistic with your content creator role. But I'm just kind of curious, as you think about your mean creators of being a business development representative, a BDR, being an account manager, being an account executive, at a bunch of regional and American technology companies, how do you think about balancing both of those roles? Is it tough to balance? How do you balance it? 

Jeraldine Phneah (28:35): 

Yeah, this is a question that I receive a lot, right? Okay. So just a bit of background. My day job is in the software as a service industry. And I've been in this industry for a couple of years. And my job is basically to sell the software and help other companies to digitally transform. So when it comes to balancing both, I would say that actually it's not really that difficult because you just have to create a routine for yourself, right? So for me, it's like every morning, then I wake up early, then I will try to work on the content creation aspect as well. And if I were to do long form content is only on weekends or public holidays. So that's one having, good routine for yourself. Because when you put things in routine, right? They become fixed things that you do is like brushing your teeth, drink water, drink coffee and stuff like that, you don't really have to think so much, everything runs on like autopilot as well. 

And the second aspect would actually be to be able to practice writing, right? So it actually takes me quite fast to write a post because I've been doing it for such a long time, like writing a LinkedIn post maybe takes me 15 minutes or being able to write a long form content maybe takes me about one hour, two hours as well, which including research and editing and stuff like that. So the more you do it, it becomes like a skill, right? It's something that you can do a lot faster and always like, I would say that maybe like washing your hair, a lot of things like... So that you can do very, very quickly because you've been doing it for such a long time and it's become a some sort of a second nature to me. 

Oh, and I'd like to add that of course working full time, right? Actually helps me to understand what the audience is going through better because I get to be exposed to the real challenges that other people are facing, and interact with a lot more people as well. So I would say that my day job and blog actually complement one another. 

Jeremy Au (30:21): 

Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. And I think it's, that's smart to have that firewall in terms of schedule and structure. And obviously, you're getting faster and more experience in doing it. And then of course lastly, you're writing to yourself, right? Now to the audience that looks like yourself in terms of overlap in the professional world, the geography and work because it's hard to write about career development the way that you do if you don't have to go to career development milestones yourself, right? 

Jeraldine Phneah (30:48): Correct. 

Jeremy Au (30:48): 

So I think the biggest fear obviously for anybody who's doing content creators is just like how does it interface with work, right? Because is my workplace going to be okay? Is this going to be seen as detrimental? Is it helpful? Obviously, I think we see people like Alex Danco, he writes very, very great blog, is a Silicon Valley called Dancoland, that's what he calls it now. But he's also part of Shopify, right? 

As a senior growth leader as well. So to him, it's actually complimentary. And I think there's a very well understood dynamic in Silicon Valley that you can be a tech leader and a content creator. In fact, it's probably better if you do both, right? Because there's no other way to be a successful tech leader if you don't articulate yourself and be present in the public arena. But that doesn't seem to be the case so far as Southeast Asia, I think that's at least the perception, the stigma or the fear. So how do you think about that? 

Jeraldine Phneah (31:48): 

My observation is that in Southeast Asia, again, very similar to what you pointed out that sometimes for the more, I will guess Trojan employers, they will tend to perceive your hobby as a conflict of interest, right? So it's strange because people don't see parenting as a conflict of interest, they don't ask you how you balance being a father versus your job, right? But they see having a hobby, which is obviously less demanding than being a dad to your career, this was something that I observed also. And the key is really just to, for me, I really knew early on what kind of company I want to work for and stuff like that. So actually try to actively look out for these kind of organizations that celebrate people having a life outside work. In fact I include being a blogger in my resume as well, so that people know what they're signing up for when I get hired. 

Jeremy Au (32:45): 

Well, I think it works right. You're doing like sales and growth roles and people knowing who you are in the public arena is honestly a prerequisite for inbound sales at a minimum and pretty essential even for outbound sales. I personally believe that, I think for so many tech roles, I think being someone who can communicate online in a professional manner and in an inspirational/educational approach is, honestly net-net of win for the company, right? Especially if you're a VC, you're a founder or the CEO, you're in charge of hiring for your engineering team, or someone who is leading in growing a growth team. At the end of the day people are going to be like, "Why should I work for you? And why should I work for your company," right? And if they don't know who you are, they can't even get in. Have you ever seen any examples of your content creation feeding in or benefiting you in the workplace? 

Jeraldine Phneah (33:51): 

I've had messages from recruiters who were told specifically to reach out to me by employers because of my online presence. So this obviously, one of the direct benefits that I get from being both a content creator and of course working my full time role. Another benefit is of course being able to build relationships in a sense with customers, right? Because as I've highlighted earlier, when you put out content, you attract people who have the same values, beliefs and similar interests as you so that works for the case of customers as well, like they will tell me that hey, they like what I've shared, they find me inspiring and stuff. 

Jeremy Au (34:32): 

Yeah. I think there's something I noticed for myself as well, definitely get lots of recruiters reaching out because they get told by someone else who consume the content that I know something about a space supposedly for being a podcaster I guess. But I think here you struck at something that's really important, right? Which is how do you at one level obviously know the benefits of it? But also I think you do a great job articulating like hey, you don't see as a trade off between being a parent and being a tech professional, right? In terms of a hobby. So I think that's actually also a really interesting piece there. Do you see that the wall is going to trend towards more content creators? Is that your thinking and how? 

Jeraldine Phneah (35:20): 

That's an interesting thought that you have, I've never actually thought of this. But what I'm seeing is that basically, on LinkedIn people are actually getting a lot more active so I do foresee that in the future, we will get more professionals, right? Sharing your views and all that as well, being able to use platforms like LinkedIn as a way to brand themselves and all. So I believe that's the direction that LinkedIn is moving towards. And I do see that if a market leader like LinkedIn will lean in that direction, professionals may follow suit as well. 

Jeremy Au (35:55): 

So I'm just kind of curious, what topics are you thinking about building out next, your content calendar/list of ideas. So I don't know for you, I have a list of ideas in Google Doc where I'm like, these are the titles or these are the snippets that I find things that I would love to write or share about. I'm wondering if you have a list and if you don't mind giving us a peek into what would be some of those titles or topics you're interested in exploring the future? 

Jeraldine Phneah (36:25): 

Yeah. Basically, like you I have a Evernote so I use Evernote where I actually key in some of the ideas that I have and stuff like that. And not every idea that I put in gets published, sometimes it just ends up as a screenshot that I share in my private Instagram with just close friends with me and stuff like that because that maybe I don't find it that relevant to the public, but I also want someone to read it, right? After all I've written it already. That's how I actually do my idea generation as well. So but a lot of what I actually create, right? It's actually dependent on my surroundings and own experiences also. Like just yesterday, I actually publish a post on Jeff Bezos Regret Minimization Framework. So for those of you who are unfamiliar with this framework is basically how do you make difficult decisions in life, right? Such as maybe quitting a job, starting a relationship, or maybe moving abroad and stuff like that. 

So Jeff Bezos also encountered something similar as well, when he was thinking about starting Amazon. So the whole is really the project himself to the point which he's 80 years old, where he regret not making that decision. And the whole idea of this post was actually inspired by something that was happening in my social circles as well. Basically, I had a friend who loves her company but received a good offer, a startup, so she was thinking about whether she should make that switch or not. And I was able to advise her based on the Jeff Bezos Regret Minimization Framework, and this is how she came up with the idea to create the content. So a lot of what actually create is some spontaneous and depends on my immediate environment as well. 

Jeremy Au (37:58): 

Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. It sounds like you're using this writing process as a way to think through the problem as well, right? And as you think through the problem, you get to write more. But I got to ask, can you share with us some titles or topics that didn't make it to the public blog that you ended up sharing some friends? Give us just some color and some of the topics that goes there? 

Jeraldine Phneah (38:22): 

So sometimes I think a lot of our family because I'm really close to my family and stuff like that. So on Mother's Day, I wanted to write this public declaration of what my mom has taught me and stuff like that. But of course recognizing that my family is actually, they didn't choose to be in the public eye, right? So I don't want to expose them to the kind of scrutiny and this advantages that come with being online and especially my mom who's a very private person. So I chose to keep this Mother's Day message, maybe just for close friends only and stuff like that rather than public view that connection of affection and gratitude. So it's stuff like that actually doesn't get published as well, things which are slightly more personal. 

Or maybe sometimes encountering reflections, right? Of perhaps maybe past relationships when I was younger. So this is the kind of things that I wouldn't want to put online as well because you don't want to implicate whoever has been involved with you previously also. This are the kind of more personal stuff, which they are no less meaningful because they of course involve key learnings in life, gratitude towards my parents and stuff like that. But the trade off is that my parents for instance choose to be in the public eye, right? And the answer is no, so that's why I don't really post so much about my family and personal life online also. 

Jeremy Au (39:49): 

Now we know so I think all your fans are going to like, "Release the Snyder cut. Release Happy Mother's Day appreciation letter," maybe. So when you think about that obviously, you actually touch on something that's quite key, right? It was like the public eye, the private space, right? And I think it's pretty obvious in the context of, you just talked about it as like your family, people who are quite clear, like preferences, do you feel like those boundaries are a little bit fuzzy as a content creator? Because I do feel that sometimes, what is public, is public obviously, but what is private? What should be public or my private life? And so, I do have that dynamic, right? For example, my Instagram page is very nonprofessionals, it's just me and my buddies hanging out, compared to the podcast, which is about you know leadership and technology in Southeast Asia. So it's very different. So I'm just curious what you think about that public and private dynamic zone of boundaries, of gray zone on a personal basis? 

Jeraldine Phneah (41:04): 

Actually, you're right to point out that it's a gray zone because this whole idea of public, private is really up to an individual to define. So okay, maybe you can identify this example because you are a parent. We have some parents who will post every update about their kids online, all kinds of pictures, the milestone from the point in which they were born all the way to the toddler stage and then primary school and stuff like that. But there are some other parents who don't because they define the lines of public, private differently as well. 

Similarly, for my generations, some people are dating, when it comes to significant others, some people don't even reveal the faces, right? Significant other on Instagram, whereas the other group will be posting like, oh, I love. So and so went to... We're just on our way today... And then all kinds of like kissing pictures and stuff like that. It's a gray area because it really depends on what each individual defines as public and private to them. And this is something that has existed before social media, right? There are some people who are more open and some who are more, I would say, who value their privacy a lot. So it kind of reflects in the way we engage online as well. 

Jeremy Au (42:07): 

Do you feel like there's a trend here because it feels like in some weird way when I wasn't fascinated, I don't know about how you felt when you were on internet, but we treated the internet like it was private. 

Jeraldine Phneah (42:23): 

Yeah. 

Jeremy Au (42:24): 

I was like my Blogspot and just feels like, "Oh, I uploaded it. My mom is not here. Only my few friends know what the URL is," right? So it's like the public space is private, right? And then Facebook also, my old Facebook is full of my stories and be like, "Hey who was eat dinner with me?" And then I'll hold conversations with people in public on my Facebook wall, right? So it'd be like us chatting with each other. And now it feels like the dynamics change, where strangely we're both more public about our public stuff and we are also more private about private stuff, right? When I go public I'm like, "I don't want 20 people to know, I want millions of people to know it," right? And then when it's private, it's really, really private. I don't know, what do you think about the trends that are out there for privacy attitudes across generations? 

Jeraldine Phneah (43:14): 

Yes. Jeremy, I think you really pointed out something that I've observed as well, is like back then, I think during the times when I was in secondary school, JC internet was really like a open space, right? We treated it as a private space basically. I think if people were to break they would post about it like, no longer in a relationship with so and so and stuff like that. But right now it's changing. So one of the thing is I see the trends that is driving this shift will be of course, firstly, I guess the space is maturing, right? We are actually seeing, realize that actually there's a lot more online. If you have your father and mother on Facebook, you wouldn't think twice about posting a picture of yourself in bikini, correct? Or your uncle or auntie who you only see once a year. So this one, the maturity of the space. 

Secondly, I guess is because of a lot of negative incidents. So let's say for example, someone accidentally say something that's wrong and they get counseled. They don't implicate their family members as well which is why they don't actually put these images or information about their family and what is this stuff like that online, so it's kind of like a preventive measure. And of course, I guess also the digitalization of the world in general. Right now employers they will at least screen you on social media before they even hire you. And employees do the same, right? For myself I actually found my boss Carousell profile before I actually accepted the offer because I saw that they were very nice reviews about him and stuff like that. So it's actually a two way thing also. So I guess all these trends are actually driving the whole idea of privacy and people being more private. 

Jeremy Au (44:55): 

Yeah. You raise a good point. If my potential boss had only two stars out of five on Carousell, I would be very reluctant to get in. I'm glad he managed to pass that bar. And I think we're starting to wrap things up here as we think about this space, where do you envision Jeraldine from a content creator and professional perspective, what is your hope for yourself over the next 10 years? What things are you looking to be much more intentional about for this next phase of your career as a content creator and professional? 

Jeraldine Phneah (45:40): 

So it's really hard to actually project in the 10 years, right? Because this space is constantly evolving. So Jeremy, just think about 10 years ago, did we think that the online space would mature to this extent as well? We wouldn't, right? So it's really about not planning 10 steps ahead in the 10 years, but really more about how can we as content creators be adaptable? Because the platforms are shifting all the time, right? Facebook for example, it used to be the build platform, right now there are so many other platforms which are doing so well like Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn and stuff like that. So how do we adapt to these new channels as well? So that's one. I think that it's not really so important to plan ahead like many, many steps but really more about how do we actually adapt to changes and address them as they come along? 

And for myself, other than the technology part, another aspect that I think you have to think about bit more is the audience because as I grow older, my audience will grow with me. So how do I actually stay relevant to the challenges they face in different phases of their life? Because it will be kind of strange if I'm 40 and writing for 30 years old folks, right? Because obviously the job market and everything then will be radically different, and then so it's like how to actually stay relevant, stay updated about what people are thinking and feeling and change that they are going through. Because ultimately, as a content creator, if you do not create content that is centered around the challenges and the concerns about your audience, you cannot add value to them. 

So I guess that another important aspect for me other than to keep up with the technology is really to be able to continually engage my audience, speak to them, talk to them, understand what's the kind of content that they are looking for and then adapt accordingly as well. 

Jeremy Au (47:25): 

I'm just so curious, do you ever worry about becoming irrelevant? Well, I think for the you're ready for 20 year olds, I don't know because sometimes I think to myself a little bit like the interesting thing is the thing you just mentioned is that all of your content that you wrote in your 20s will still be online, right? So there is a slice of you that will always be evergreen, always 20 years old writing to 20 years old. And then there's a reality where you and I are 40 years old already, right? And that was something we produce 20 years ago? Do you ever worry about being irrelevant or what's the fear? Is it fear associated with that creator God? 

Jeraldine Phneah (48:04): 

I won't call it fear but more of, the way I cope around this is that to make sure that my content is always relevant and interesting. Actually one my top posts, right? The most read post of all times would be first, the article that I wrote comparing the differences between elite school and evolved schools. So this is an evergreen topic. Although I wrote it when I was 24 years old in a train ride in Europe, it's still relevant today because every year where parents are like thinking about which school to send their kid to, they're Googling this topic, I think about the pros and cons. So I guess some content will never age in a sense. 

And similarly, there's an article that I wrote that did pretty well. It was actually addressing the issue of eating disorders, right? Among young teenage women here in Singapore. And I actually created a post which actually describes the benefits of course, having a different body type like being more curvy and not being the stick, thin type of person as well and going to handle the benefits of that. And this type of body positivity content is obviously something that is going to be evergreen as well, unless one day whereby do these standards actually drift so drastically, right? That they no longer uphold that, but I'm not sure if that's something that we can control as well. So I think the key is really to balance the need for to be relevant now, now and also to be timeless let me say. 

Jeremy Au (49:30):Well, that's very true. I think most of my best content is that great not necessarily because they're spiky, of course, spiky in the moment, but I think also because they evergreen, right? They clock in a certain number of listens or reads consistently every month. Well, wrapping things up here, Jeraldine, just kind of wondering here, the last question is, can you share a verse of a time where you've been brave? 

Jeraldine Phneah (49:57): 

So if you ask me about the specific time that I've been brave, I can't really highlight one specific point in my content creation journey. But I will say that being a content creator itself, regardless of your following is actually an act of courage because you're actually putting yourself out there to the public. And every single thing that you create be a video, be a picture, or maybe perhaps something that you've written as a post or blog entry, it's actually out there in the public and it can be scrutinized by others as well. So you're actually exposing yourself to not just the positive feedback, but you're also exposing yourself to perhaps the people who may disagree with you, or maybe could get even very personal with the way they do so. So I would say that the entire journey and every single time you actually state your views in public, it's really an act of courage itself. 

But despite the negative repercussions sometimes, I will still encourage everyone to be brief, right? And actually to be able to share your views and what you think with the public as well because if you just keep them in your mind, nobody can benefit from them. But you will never know that one day, perhaps you could share something that actually benefits a lot of people as well. 

Jeremy Au (51:10): 

Wow. Thank you so much, Jeraldine for dropping so much knowledge here. I think there's three parts that I really enjoyed and really appreciate you sharing your perspective, right? And I think the first being your thoughtfulness around your content creator journey, and how you intentionally shifted your approach to be obviously a better content creator over time, right? In terms of your three hours fame, rational, responsible, respectful and obviously, the consequences you had for how your audience shifted over time. But also, I think how you have been personally been received and professionally received as well, and I think that's something that's really amazing. 

The second thing I really enjoy of course, was of course, you sharing the real personal and professional dynamics of being a content creator and a professional which is, I think the vast majority of content creators, right? Because it's something that's not necessarily paying the bills, but you also articulated not just how to articulate it to your boss I guess, but also articulated how to be successful in both at the same time, while also being mindful of how actually they benefit each other, right? Your professional career benefits your creation and creation benefits your professional career. 

And lastly, of course, thank you so much for sharing, I think really the personal side of it, like being one of the top content creators in Singapore, but also being a professional, like you said being a female blogger who's receiving comments. But also, I think your own, I think self awareness that you have grown over time from our 20s, right? To our current ages. But also growing in terms of experience and worldview as well. And I think Singapore and the region is very lucky to have you really creating this content and just bringing and shining light on topics that we adult don't talk about because we're too busy. Don't talk about it because we're not sure whether we should talk about it, so I'm glad you're doing it Jeraldine. 

Jeraldine Phneah (53:18):Thank you very much for having me on your podcast Jeremy. 

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