The interview with Sara Nattaya Azmi, founder of MBits Digital continues below. If you’ve missed the first part of the interview, please click here to read that before hopping back here.
If you could go back in time, is there anything you would like to change about your journey to getting to where you are now?
Very frankly, no. There were definitely moments in my life that I had thought that made me think, ‘Oh my God I shouldn’t have done this at this time.’ But as you get older, you’ll appreciate all the experiences you’ve gone through despite them being very difficult because those aren’t things you can learn or buy.
Going back to the gender thing for a bit, I go to China and the majority of the entrepreneurs that go there will naturally be men. When you go to a country like that where the way they host you is to bring you to nightclubs, I then have to sit through this whole agonising thing. You go into a nightclub, see 30 young women who are there to make a living and you’re looking at the men and thinking, ‘Oh my God, what am I doing here?’ But it’s something that I have to sit through and endure because I am an entrepreneur. I can’t just say what you’re doing to these women is wrong because it’s the culture of a totally different country.
Things like that are the things that I wouldn’t have wanted to go through in the past but I think I’ve learnt something that I can put into my content and educate society.
What is your personal definition of success?
Freedom. Freedom is an absolute success because if you look at every different working level, it’s always about reporting to somebody. The freedom to be able to do what you think is right is very important. That’s why for me I started my company, went through the pain, built it, and now I have some form of freedom to be able to do what I think is right for society. That I think is an achievement.
It’s not about money. You can have a billion dollars, but you still won’t be happy because of the limitations in life. Some people have so much money that they start thinking about somehow achieving immortality [laughs]. Freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom to live and be happy, I think that’s very important.
As a female entrepreneur, what advice do you have for young women who want to start their own businesses?
The first thing is that women have to love themselves more. I think many girls somehow reach a certain stage in life where they get caught up in life and forget to do that. Once you start loving yourself, you have the confidence to be able to speak up. Saying something wrong is better than saying nothing at all.
When you look at history with the suffragettes, a bunch of daring women are coming out to say, “Hey, you’re wrong! We need the right to vote. We need a voice.” It’s a matter of loving yourself so that you can be confident and say something.
As women, we also tend to mash things up and that’s very risky when it comes to being an entrepreneur. If I only follow my emotions and overthink things while not being confident, it would be very difficult to make a decision. Also, in business, you have to make a lot of on-the-spot decisions. So, they should have a clear mindset and focus on solving one thing at a time.
As someone who can speak so many languages, do you have any tips for those who want to learn a different language?
Get together with others who speak that language and practise using it. If the people around you don’t speak the language, then it’s a matter of using YouTube and also listening to music. Listen to music in the language that you want to learn, that’s what I did with French. When I learnt French and Arabic, it was really difficult because it was all about the tones and using different parts of the throat to pronounce certain words. When you listen to music and eventually learn the lyrics, you can then learn the language faster because you now know the pronunciation. So, listening to music and watching content in that language will help a lot.
…so it goes back to media…
Exactly, media is a double-edged sword. It really depends on how you as a person look at it.
It can either help you or break you.
Even looking at a painting, a group of friends can be looking at the same painting and all of them could attach different meanings to it. It works the same way for all content. So, you shouldn’t penalise whatever people are trying to put out there. Instead, try to look at the different angles of what they’re trying to say and you may find things to be a little bit more interesting and a lot less negative.
Interviewer: Isabel Ng
CM Journalist 21/22