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S2E3: How Coronavirus Has Changed Asian Culture

Chris Chong | April 10, 2020
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    S2E3: How Coronavirus Has Changed Asian Culture
    Chris Chong

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Watch the latest TV show in Japan with Channel NewsAsia before COVID-19 hit.

Hey, welcome back to season 2 of ramen to riches, I hope that you’re doing alright, with what’s happening now with COVID19, these are hard times, not only to record the podcast, but in every way. This feels like an episode of Black Mirror. Societies, economies, and families are on the verge of crumbling. Actually all of 2020 has been pretty bad so far.

This is the closest I’ve ever been in a wartime lockdown, which doesn’t say much, but where I live, they’re taking it very seriously- people have been arrested for jogging, supermarkets only let in one person at a time, and only one person per a family. It’s harder to get into a supermarket then “Ce La Vie“. And the hard thing is, it’s not an enemy any of us can visibly see, it’s not a person or a race that we can hate, yet it’s taking down hundreds of lives every hour and I think the last I read it was 95,000 have passed and just yesterday it was 80,000, so 15,000 people died in 1 day of something people didn’t even know existed 6 months ago. Or maybe some of us did know about it sooner but didn’t tell. I think most of us were already freaking out when the number hit six thousand, and now it’s 15 times that in just a few weeks. Will everyone blame Asians for Coronavirus? This podcast episode addresses the insidious racist monster in the room.

Now what I’ve been telling my startup friends, is two very important points regarding COVID. Firstly, predict that your future revenues, for a few more quarters ahead, will be slashed, you have to factor that into your future forecasts and plan accordingly. Go through the 5 stages of grief, you can google it, and then cross out that original number and replace it with a fraction of what it was before. If your business is booming during this, then damn you you’re not meant to be profiteering from a crisis but good job. My second and final point, if you have any cash, hold onto it as a reserve that you can dip into during times of need like this one. All accessible capital is now considered your emergency fund, use it to take care of your staff, or future costs, this thing might crush your business for at least another 6 months, you’re going to have to be a uni student again and live on a budget.

If you’re like me in a tightly restricted country, like Malaysia, you’re not even allowed to walk outside to walk your dog or go jogging. The only reason why you should go out is for essential reasons like groceries or medical needs, otherwise, police will ask you to stop, turn back and stay inside. They’re even threatening fines or being arrested. Luckily I have my girlfriend and we exercise, cook, and keep each other company. And there’s Netflix, there’s not a lot of new videos coming on youtube, but so far, we’re fine. The tight lockdown imposed on my city has just been extended by another 2 weeks, so, in total 3 weeks left. Well I can’t deny that my girlfriend and I have fights, but that’s kind of expected if we’re cooped up for a week, but we seem to handle it well and I’m hopeful we’ll get better at dealing with each other’s differences. Counting the amount of time we spend together, I mean, it feels like a time machine that speeds up how fast the relationship grows. It’s a big experiment where everyone has to live in their place, some people are alone, and they’re probably anxious not being able to see anyone, some people live with parents and that would be fun to watch, families are combustible, and I’m living with my partner, figuring her out every day, enjoying her lying next to me, her presence is calming. The biggest thing for us right now is not to fight over the little things, but they seem so important and worth fighting for in the heat of the moment.

It’s hard staying in, staying calm, getting your mind into some kind of distraction like a new hobby or activity, it could be a daily fitness video, that you follow along to on youtube, or learn a new language or how to cook. I tried reading again, it’s slow but I’m getting into it, I’m reading a book recommended to me on my work trip to Japan, the book is called “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” (really incredible!). Or, if you’re feeling too energetic to read, then lie down until you feel a burst of energy, then get up and give your house a good spring clean. Throw out old things you don’t need anymore, or put it in a box to donate to a charity. Your place is gonna seem bigger and more spacious.

Finally, be patient with those that you live with, hold back on sparking an argument, if you’re cranky, go to bed and sleep it off. Everyone needs to stick together, to overlook the little things and live as a pack. Now’s the time, more than any other, when you need each other, they need you to be calm, co-operative, and helpful. You should ask for the same.

We feel the world has changed, and it has. We know this is temporary, but it doesn’t feel that way, and we realize things will be different. The loss of normalcy; the fear of economic toll; the loss of connection. This is hitting us and we’re grieving. Collectively. I believe we will continue to find meaning now and when this is over.

But take just a short moment to think about others, neighbors that you might only pass once in a while who are taking care of elderly relatives, staff in essential services who can’t take off work, frontline health workers who are exasperated, and as we speak are working around the clock to shoulder most of the immediate recovery work, dealing with emotional exhaustion we probably can’t even comprehend because so few of us ever had to deal in life and death situations.

Thanks for listening! The greatest compliment you can give me is to recommend this podcast to colleagues, family and friends. Share a comment through email or Linkedin and let me know what you think, I’m constantly trying to improve the content in this podcast for you. 

I’m also looking for my next tv show after I recently hosted my last tv show on Channel NewsAsia about the latest business trends in Asia. In this show, I flew to Japan to uncover the e-sports industry with a crew and fixer, and we dove deep into the Esports industry. I learned a lot about myself and about how to host a show. You can check it out here, it’s an hour-long and we met with a lot of interesting characters along the way. I’d love to know what you think.

Host’s Bio:

At 20, I took a break from my law degree to co-found my first startup, Beeconomic, which was fully acquired by Groupon (a record-breaking buyout in Singapore after just 6 months according to The Straits Times).

As Groupon Singapore co-founder, we created over 200 jobs and made history by helping Groupon become “the fastest-growing company ever” (-Forbes and CNBC). After Groupon, I worked on 4 startups that failed, which taught me important lessons about failure.

After finishing my law degree, I joined a “Top 5” law firm in Australia that led to an offer in their M&A advisory practice.

I was then recruited by Hong Kong’s biggest English newspaper, The South China Morning Post, as the social media editor to execute a digital transformation strategy. When the team achieved strong digital growth, Jack Ma’s Alibaba acquired the newspaper. After 6 months of transitioning and training with the new owners, I moved on to pursue my passion for cooking.

After culinary school, I became a full-time advisor for a $100M Japanese VC, a highlight is our $1M investment into a fast-growing, millennial-focused news platform.

I have served as a consultant to Governments and 80+ tech firms in Southeast Asia, but for early-stage startups, I also volunteer as a mentor at an incubator. I am an entrepreneur who knows exactly how it feels to be guide-less and isolated. I’ve met a lot of kind people on my travels who were willing to help me and this is my way of paying it forward.

Spending my spare time volunteering in charities, mediation, cooking, and working out are my passions. Channel NewsAsia shot a 2018 TV documentary called “Millionaire Minds: Chris Chong” featuring my latest (failed 🙁 ) startup and featured me as a guest host on their show “The Millennial Investor” before COVID-19 hit. I’m looking for my next job (like everyone right now), if you know of any TV hosting opportunities, then do please reach out.

If you liked this episode, check out our most popular interview from season 1 with the co-founder of SGAG and MGAG, Karl Mak.


Music Credits:

BMGPM license or CC, thank you to all artists involved.







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  • cover play_circle_filled

    01. Not Today, Covid in Malaysia
    Christopher Chong

  • cover play_circle_filled

    02. How We Built A $24M Startup: Beeconomic To Groupon
    Aston Chia from Overdrive

  • cover play_circle_filled

    03. S2E1: Monologue, on persistence and courage

  • cover play_circle_filled

    Not Today, COVID-19

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