Welcome back to The Story Behind The Story. This is the final post in the series in 2015. In this post, Kally Tay tells us about her big Why. The series will continue in 2016 with amazing stories from writers I admire. Please stay tuned. Meanwhile, give a warm welcome to Kally.
“Kally 姐, I have no idea what I can do in my career?”
This is a question people ask me on a regular basis. 姐 is an endearing term they use, translated as Sister Kally. In my line of work as a manager, I have encountered many young aspiring men and women, newly graduated from school, bursting with ambition and inspiration, but don’t know how to apply themselves. After two years or so, many of them start showing signs of weariness and become cynical and tired. This is mainly due to the obstacles they have to overcome in their jobs. While doing so, many have hurt themselves and their pride, causing many dreams to go down the drain and passion to go to waste.
I have been a young manager, often stumbling and recovering from my mistakes. Being a figure of authority at the age of 23 is no easy feat: people who doubt I can carry my duties well are as many as those who believe I can do it. My boss-turned-mentor is one of those who believed in me and gave me a chance to prove my capabilities. I am a dark horse, I don’t have a proper education, but I strive very hard to help those in need. He groomed me, educated me and allowed me to fall without actually hurting myself. Many of the first time managers do not have this advantage: when they encounter difficulties in their job, they often have no one to turn to.
As I slowly build my reputation as a good listener and someone who dished out advice willingly, people started to approach me to pour out their hearts. I was surprised to see that many of those people formed a distinct group: people who are around my age group or older than me, tired and overstretched beyond their limits, and lost vision as well as track of why they are in their current job in the first place.
When I left Singapore to pursue my career in Shanghai, those individuals continued seeking my advice. When I left Shanghai to pursue family life in Malaysia, the number of calls, messages and emails only increased. I left my career to focus on my personal life but quickly realised that I had so much to give to others. The second important learning was this: it would be more effective to share advice through a blog, rather than speak to one individual at a time.
This is how MiddleMe was born. I wanted a name to signify being stuck between situations like I am with different career moves, and sandwiched between my boss and my staff as a manager, whilst dealing with awkward work issues. When something difficult arises at work, people often feel reluctant to take a drastic step of seeking advice from HR or even a boss. With no one to turn to, they ask friends’ advice or do their own research on the internet. Whilst there is a wealth of advice on the Internet, I found that many articles are theoretical, not something you can easily digest over lunchtime or during your bus ride.
Hence, MiddleMe’s mission is to discuss those taboo uncomfortable work topics using real life examples and scenarios to make advice relatable to anyone who wants guidance but not interested in clever ratios and pie charts. It is almost like picking up a career lifestyle magazine filled with interesting tips from your local newspaper stand.
MiddleMe is my way of paying it forward for all the guidance I have received in the past from my mentors, all the support I have gained from my loved ones and the criticisms that made me stronger.
Kally is a full-time writer, career specialist and a freelancer. Her website is http://MiddleMe.net. She is contactable via