Titus Yong (MBA 1999)
How does a busy executive who is also a parent find the time to do meaningful things with their children regularly? Besides ferrying children from class to class and bringing them on overseas holidays, what other impactful activities can they share together? Edupreneur Titus Yong (MBA 1999) shares his creative take.
Tell us a bit about your family and how you spend time together.
We spend theme-based Sundays together. I’ve created a version of the 5C’s for families. We rotate through the following themes, in any sequence that fits our schedule.
1. Creating Sunday
we create art, robotics, clay sculptures, etc.
2. Challenging Sunday
we challenge our limits, such as improve on our own time record for jogging around a reservoir.
3. Connecting Sunday
we invite friends to our house for a meal; send cards to relatives, teachers and friends; and try out fusion food (connecting the east and west).
4. Charity Sunday
we do projects to benefit the underprivileged.
5. Celebrating Sunday
we camp overnight with nature; or eat at a nice restaurant to celebrate a birthday, our successes, or just best efforts in doing something creative, and challenging.
Sometimes we combine the themes. Recently we ran 10km to raise funds for charity. That would be Challenging + Charity Sunday. On another occasion, we climbed to the summit of a volcano together, which was highly-challenging and helped with character-building. Our children remember our memorable times together doing something worthwhile that inculcates good character values, and learn never to give up easily.
What is work-life balance? Does it exist?
To me, the term should be “work-life blend” rather than “work-life balance”. As a social edupreneur atlngenio, I do not see work and life as separate. My work is my “calling” in life.
To make a life count, I believe in a wholehearted passion and commitment to a worthwhile cause. I go around the world to meet and interview inspiring geniuses, get their insights about their lives and ideas, and think about what these insights mean for designing a good education. Our motto is “Fulfilling Creative Potential”, which has a double meaning: when our own children and our students fulfill their creative potential, they will feel fulfilled. A well-designed education can be one of the means to a happy, fulfilling life.
How do you attain work-life “blend” then?
I involve my wife and children in my work too. This is relatively easier to do as I am involved in education. We derive a sense of meaning when we see children benefiting from our education programs and interactive technology. My wife is involved in the marketing aspects and renovation. Every week, my wife and I go for an evening date, which is termed as “delightful companion” evening. No kids allowed!
My children were the guinea pigs of my company’s Moomba Music program when we first tried it. Both my children are enthusiastic about my Ingenio workshops, which are about creativity, character strengths and the lives of inspiring geniuses.
I also invite my daughter and son to be involved in the preparation of some of my work tasks, much like “interns” even though they are only six and eight years old respectively. For example, my daughter helps to reorganize my toolbox. My son learns Excel when he helps me to key data into the computer. Of course I have to check his work afterwards. He takes the assignment very conscientiously and is quite reliable!
On some evenings, they do their studying alongside me in my home office when I do my work. They see what it means to pay undivided attention at work. Once we are done working, we pay full attention at play. We make it a point to eat dinner together as often as possible. To foster a relaxing environment, they get to choose their favourite songs on my song albums or YouTube (my phone is also their jukebox). My son calls me his “best friend”, which is really heart-warming.
How do your kids feel about these work arrangements or benefits?
My children see the sacrifices that their parents go through, and they start to appreciate what it means to work for something we believe in, and to live a life with meaning. They see me work hard and, on multiple occasions, they sincerely offer to help me. These are nice gestures which make my day!