Of Cerebral Conversations and Cognitive Connections

I’m always looking for opportunities to spend time with people who stimulate me intellectually. That’s something not difficult to do when I was still plugged into my previous full-time lecturing work. There, I had easy access to what I refer to as ‘cerebral colleagues’ (as opposed to the ‘coffee chit chat colleagues’), as well as ‘cognitive clients or customers’ when it came to industrial collaborations for student projects.

Unfortunately, since leaving that, I’ve found my access to these scintillating conversations immeasurably reduced. So the alternative for me was to soak up on books, ebooks, audio books and web articles instead, even though these usually required greater effort on my part to focus and retain. I must admit that meaningful face-to-face conversations tend to stay with me longer, since such conversations engage not just my visual senses but also my audio ones. They also engage my feelings and emotions, especially when “life” is exchanged in the form of heart-warming tales or personal testimonies.

Now don’t get me wrong. Books are well and good of course. They can be oases of peace and calm in this overwhelmingly-connected and noisy world we now live in. At times audio books are even better. You get to hear a human voice reading to you, with familiar and comforting tonal rises and falls, and at-times heart-felt feelings and emotions stitched into each syllable or exclamation. Thankfully they haven’t used bots to be voices of audio books. Not yet anyway, though that’s probably something in the horizon.

Anyway, since seriously exploring a writing life in 2019, I’ve been accumulating information from various books and online resources like ebooks and audiobooks, mostly on how to write well. I’ve even paid for an online course or two so as to ensure that I take this venture seriously, putting in both time and money. Many talk about wanting to one day write their magnum opus; I hope to actually make that come true for myself for real!

But it isn’t all solitary and sad for me now that I’m outside the world of work. Every now and then, God still rewards me with opportunities to meet people who help me stay plugged-in to current conversations; maybe even forge potential new alliances and connections. One avenue that channels such opportunities is the occasional Grab Hitch passenger I pick up in my drives. For those who aren’t aware, the ride-hailing company Grab allows ordinary drivers like me to fetch passengers daily and earn anything between $5 and $15 for each trip, depending on the distance traversed. This service is opened to drivers not on Grab’s regular payroll, but who don’t mind picking up passengers who happen to be going in the same direction or to a destination near the driver’s. Of course, Grab takes a 10% cut for every successfully-completed hitch ride.

I’ve been doing this for a while and find that sometimes you get to meet people who share a bit about themselves, and make the otherwise solo journey from Point A to B more interesting than it otherwise would be.

As a matter of fact, one such encounter led to a breakfast catch-up appointment for me with a training consultant who offers courses in areas like leadership and management. Raymond was his name, and he’s the Principal Consultant at The Leadership Paradigm. We had met some time late last year when I gave him a ride to his client appointment on one of those mornings when I was looking for a grab hitch passenger.

We had a great conversation throughout the trip, and ended off exchanging emails with a view to meeting up to chat more. He was kind enough to remember and recently carved out time from his busy schedule to meet with me for breakfast. This was quite a few months after that trip so you can imagine how grateful I felt that he still remembered me!

During that catch-up meeting, Raymond talked about his job and what were some ideas he’d been working on. In turn, I shared what I’d been doing since leaving my full-time teaching position.

Raymond also spoke openly on some of the challenges and pain points of training, and the rising trend of more companies today seeking bite-size online training courses or webinars, as opposed to those where staff had to be physically away from their office for more than a day. Many employers today are hesitant for their workers to be away from their jobs for too long, for fear it compromised deadlines and projects. That does create a host of challenges for training consultants, especially when Raymond and his team relied heavily on face-to-face training workshops and seminars for their business to thrive.

Of course it wasn’t all gloom and doom. Raymond also spoke about the rewards and opportunities still out there for the mining. And it’s clear from his sharing that he was a creative guy who’s always on the lookout for solutions. His mind seemed hardly to rest as he touched on various strategies and client solutions, though of course never going into any specifics. Being creative and solution-driven were certainly hallmarks of this entrepreneur!

What really touched me though was Raymond’s willingness to share so freely with me, still a virtual stranger. He even offered meaningful advice that eventually led me to take control of my “brand name” and to register kelvinseah.com online! Surprising that even in the year 2020, no other fellow namesakes have done so (I happen to know there are at least a few out there, including an economics professor in a local university who’s often quoted in our local dailies!).

Anyway, conversations like these are few and far between for me as a stay-home dad, so I treasure them and try my best to recall key things I’ve learnt and picked up from these tête-à-tête.

I definitely hope to encounter more “Raymonds” along my Grab Hitch journeys, and in so doing, seek out still more cerebral conversations and cognitive connections.

In the meantime, if you’re reading this post Raymond, I just want to say a big thanks for taking the time to connect with me. The conversation we had most certainly made my day!

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