BLANKSLATE’s Co-Founder On Finding Passion And Purpose In Life
Crunch Spotlight is a Crunch-driven initiative aiming to add value to and inspire both our community and industry leaders across the nation through interview-style articles. Join us as we discover more about the story behind different industry leaders’ lives and journeys towards where they are now, and how they have transformed into the people they are today. We hope you get inspired by these stories and realize that you are capable of achieving your goals, too.
What would you do with a blank slate?
A blank sheet of paper can almost seem intimidating, yet also liberating—it signifies a clean, fresh start and immense freedom to create. BLANKSLATE brings exactly that to the table, and then some. With the aim ‘to marry passion and purpose to spark a union of creativity like no other’, BLANKSLATE is a creative agency based in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia that combines its expertise in creating digital content as CORE Studios (& TheMingThing) with its desire to help clients connect with their desired audience through branding, marketing and media insights.
We had the privilege of hearing from Bryan Lim, one of the co-founders of BLANKSLATE as he shares his thoughts and some of the lessons he has learned over the years working in the industry.
1. What does BLANKSLATE do and what makes it tick?
Here’s a quote taken from our company profile—“We specialize in making the good, great”; we believe that if you already have a good product/service to begin with, you can count on us to make the rest of the journey a better one. However, we’re not neglecting the ones who need a different kind of support as we do offer branding consultation for small businesses based on our experiences and best practices working with various successful brands.
In summary—we support large companies and well-known brands with our creative and media expertise while providing consultation services for entrepreneurs and small businesses who are wanting to get their branding and processes in a better place.
2. What role do you play in this company?
I’m one of the co-founders alongside Ming Yue and Ming Han. Although I’m somewhat involved in various departments, the majority of my responsibilities revolve around the business and operations of the company (backend stuff). I make sure there are business deals in place, create new opportunities, as well as set the work processes and structure for the team to carry out their work efficiently.
Meanwhile, Ming Yue is the Account Director (dealing with brands, clients and strategy) and Ming Han is the Creative Director for our internal content channels as well as our clients’ campaigns.
Ming Han, Bryan and Ming Yue (Left to right)
3. How does a typical day look like for you in the office?
My office day typically looks like client meetings, team discussions, some solo planning work and probably more meetings again. But whenever we’re working from home, I actually find myself working longer hours than usual; hence I try to cope by taking a quick nap in the evening just to segregate my work time and rest time.
4. What do you think makes quality content? How does BLANKSLATE achieve this?
It isn’t easy to define what makes quality content as the potential answers will differ from one company to another. My personal opinion is that quality content would usually benefit the consumers and has the ability to engage with the desired audience (for creators) or customers (for businesses).
While we can strive to create content that we want to produce at BLANKSLATE while benefiting the consumers; sometimes it takes an unconventional approach of creativity to engage with the desired audience.
5. What is something that sets you apart from other companies in your industry?
I’m not a fan of undermining other companies because every business has their own strengths and weaknesses. Plus, we need each other to exist so that customers have the opportunity and freedom to pick whom they would want to work with! Just like how both McDonald’s and KFC have delicious fried chicken; some prefer the crunch of Ayam Goreng McD and others would much rather stick to the good ol’ Colonel Sanders’ recipe.
When it comes to BLANKSLATE, I would say we have our own style and best practices when dealing with the creative process and content creation. If it’s a bonus, we’ve received numerous feedback from our existing clients that they enjoyed the experience working with the people from my team haha!
6. In recent times, how has your business grown or adapted? What would you say is the core thing that helped you to survive, or even thrive?
I’d say great teammates and working partners supporting and working hard with you during the tough times makes enduring obstacles a better (learning) experience. Moreover, we have wonderfully faithful clients who have shown trust in our company and enabled us to do great things even when the going gets tough.
The BLANKSLATE team
7. What does your morning routine look like?
I’m not really a breakfast person (although I do believe I should start being one). So, if you’re asking for my morning routine, it’d be me snoozing multiple alarms with 2-minute intervals each. (We relate!) I must always have a morning shower; I can never skip this. After that, I’ll check for the latest news and updates on social media and the Google News app to start my day.
8. How do you stay focused on your goals? Do you have any actionable tips for our readers?
I’m a firm believer in having your own to-do lists. Write down your goals and organize your notes; even random scribbles—jot down everything. You’ll never know when you’d need it!
Personally, I’m using a workspace app called Notion (synced across my laptop, phone, and tablet) to do all the stuff mentioned above. One tip I found pretty useful for me is the categorization of tasks in my to-do list; by separating them according to the Eisenhower Matrix:
- If it is ‘urgent + important’ I should do it now.
- If it’s ‘not urgent + important’ then I should plan it.
- ‘Urgent + not important’ tasks signal to me that I should delegate them.
- ‘Not urgent + not important’ tasks should be limited.
This helped me frame my priorities and avoid being overwhelmed as I work.
9. How do you stay productive when you are having a bad day?
For me, keeping myself busy with work is always a good ‘temporary’ escape from a bad day. By staying busy with work, I find that I won’t have too much time to dwell on any negative thoughts that may be plaguing my day. Nevertheless, we should still remind ourselves to take a breather from work and rest occasionally. Maybe even to take some time to reflect on what’s bothering you too!
10. What skills have been most useful to you in your journey thus far?
Adaptability and always taking on a learning mindset in different situations. It’s not a skill per se, but it has been and still is a crucial element throughout my career. From learning about cameras and editing videos through YouTube tutorials to making a living out of it as a freelancer in the early days; from not having the knowledge of business/accounting/finance upon graduation to building a company with 20+ people at present time… Being adaptable and willing to learn is definitely something I’ve picked up over time.
Ultimately, it depends on where you are in your career and what responsibilities you are shouldering at that point in your life.
11. What is the most recent thing that you have learned? Why or how is it important to you?
This is something that I have been cultivating in recent months—it’s about team management. This might be useful if you are running your own team:
To create leaders, we have to encourage ownership. To do that, leaders would have to trust and delegate authority, not tasks. You have to first trust someone in order to find out whether you can trust them. And if you happen to not trust your team, you are either too controlling or you have the wrong people in your team; either way, it is your responsibility to solve it as a leader.
12. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
I forget where I heard this advice from, but I believe it is pretty useful for the readers who are thinking about what to pursue or are at the crossroads in their career:
“Instead of doing what you love, love what you do instead”. Eventually, passion will fade away if you turn it into a job or profession. This also happened to me with making videos. The only way to keep our sense of purpose is by learning to appreciate the craft that you’re good at.
We’re reminded that we don’t have to make a competition out of everything. Bryan is right; even if we have competitors, be it in our work or in life, we should just focus on innovating and bringing our best to the table instead of tearing each other down. After all, we shouldn’t be too bothered about something we cannot control! Lastly, love what you do, instead of doing what you love. While that advice is definitely not the easiest to heed, it is something that is entirely up to us. Passion can fade, but purpose, consistency and gratitude are the things that last.