The Impostor Syndrome: Meeting Tony Fernandes

About Author Graham Brown

Graham Brown is the founder of Pikkal & Co – performance communication agency responsible for producing Award Winning Podcasts for business brands. Clients including McKinsey, Julius Baer, IBM and the Singapore Government. Investors and Advisors from Netflix, Intel, Apple and iQiYi. He is a published Amazon author covering human communication technologies, marketing and branding. He has produced over 1,000 podcast episodes and webinar shows with notable shows including the Tony Fernandes Podcast. Graham is a graduate in Artificial Intelligence and is currently leading Pikkal & Co to use Machine Learning and Conversation Analytics to automate the heavy lifting of communication to elevate the human touch.

meeting tony fernandes podcast

Friday night, Newton Hawker Centre, Singapore

We “chope” our seats. That’s what you do in Singapore, chope stuff. Put down an umbrella or a pack of tissues on your table and nobody will dare take it from you while you’re off foraging for food.

I’m with my friend Stuart who promised to introduce me to a Singaporean institution – the hawker centre. As a relative newbie, this was a more touristy centre, and that’s why it’s packed on a Friday night.

Then this couple came over and the guy asks, “Can we sit there?”

There were two seats left at our table so I said, “Yeah, sure.” I moved my bag, they chope their seats, and then they went off in search of food. The couple returned with their food and we got chatting. As you do in Singapore, the conversation often starts with food, what we are eating, what’s good here, and so on. He starts offering us some fried chicken wings.

And then asks, “What do you do?”

Stuart says, “I create medical devices.” He used to work for Dyson. He rummages in his bag and pulls out this box, and inside the box there’s this pair of glasses that enables people with a special type of hearing loss to hear. The guy tries them on, they get chatting about design and audio technology.

The man then turns to me and says, “What do you do?”

“Well, I came from Japan. I’m setting up a Podcast Agency in Singapore, and I want to help Asia find its voice.” He seemed interested. He was asking me more about the kind of podcasts I was recording, what kind of people I spoke to and what the business model was behind it. It was a new space, so we had quite a deep conversation about podcasting.

I then turned around to him and said, “What do you do?”

To which he answers, “I own an airline.”

…and that’s how I met Tony Fernandes.

Pitching the Podcast to Tony

It was dark. I didn’t realise it was Tony Fernandes, the CEO of AirAsia, sitting there next to me at Newton Hawker Centre, but in fact I think he enjoyed it.

In later meetings, Tony tells the story a little differently using the line, “F**k me, it’s Tony Fernandes.”

In my version, I’m more collected.

He enjoyed the fact that I didn’t know who he was, and we were just having a normal, human conversation.

Just as anybody would with any stranger, curious about their story

We talked about where we both grew up; he went to school in my old hometown. We talked about living in England in the 70s and 80s; we talked about his journey to get there; we talked about everything in between: football, life, food, travel.

We didn’t talk a lot about business although I did ask him about whether the story he tells of buying AirAsia from the Malaysian Government for just $1 was true or not. It was.

By the end of the evening, I said to him, “I would love to record a podcast with you.”

To which Tony replied, “Yeah, sure. Let’s do it,” handing me his Whatsapp number.

It took several months to pin down a date to record it, but if you want to see the video watch the Tony Fernandes Podcast here.

These are the moments we feel most alive.

I’m sitting here having dinner with a billionaire, a celebrity in the Business world and we’re having an honest man-to-man conversation just like any conversation with a friend.

I read somewhere, how important in life it is not necessarily to be strong, but to feel strong.

To measure yourself at least once, to find yourself at least once in the most ancient of human conditions.

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The Impostor Syndrome

the impostor syndrome

If only our fears were obvious goblins and dragons that could slain with a magic sword.

It would be easy.

Instead they are other people: coworkers, family and aunts at weddings. The weight of their expectations, the pain of their rejection and the humiliation that you might fail.

This is what lies between us and greatness – fear:

• Fear you don’t have a story worth telling
• Fear of what others might think
• Fear you don’t belong

Every story begins with a depart, a leaving behind and a crossing of the threshold.

What holds you back isn’t a lack of skill, but the opinions of other people. Their opinions write your life story. And those who live for the expectations of other people will die by their rejection.

Why You Need to Pick Yourself

This is how we’ve been trained.

– If you wanted to speak in class, you needed to be picked by the teacher.
– If you wanted your song to be played on the radio, you needed to picked by the DJ.
– If you wanted a job, you got picked by the interviewer.
– If you wanted to speak in the media, you needed to be picked by both the media interviewer and your company’s marcomms department.

But no more.

Today, anybody can upload a video to Youtube. Anybody can submit a podcast to Spotify.

You don’t need to wait to be picked anybody anymore. What’s holding you back is the Impostor Syndrome – the false belief that you don’t belong here.

Now is the time to pick up the pen and start writing.

Pick yourself.

You belong.
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Podcasts: Get our Guide for Corporates

podcast planning guide

About Author Graham Brown

Graham Brown is the founder of Pikkal & Co – performance communication agency responsible for producing Award Winning Podcasts for business brands. Clients including McKinsey, Julius Baer, IBM and the Singapore Government. Investors and Advisors from Netflix, Intel, Apple and iQiYi. He is a published Amazon author covering human communication technologies, marketing and branding. He has produced over 1,000 podcast episodes and webinar shows with notable shows including the Tony Fernandes Podcast. Graham is a graduate in Artificial Intelligence and is currently leading Pikkal & Co to use Machine Learning and Conversation Analytics to automate the heavy lifting of communication to elevate the human touch.
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